UK Scholarly Journal Apologizes for anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Article

21.07.21

Editorial Note

In May 2021, the editorial team of eSharp, a student-led scholarly journal of the Glasgow University College of Arts, published a foreword to a 2017 article stating that it promoted an “unfounded anti-Semitic theory regarding the State of Israel and its activity in the United Kingdom.” 

The article, written by Jane Jackman, a Ph.D. student at the University of Exeter, employed “some discursive strategies, including a biased selection of sources as well as the misrepresentation of data.”

Titled “Advocating Occupation: Outsourcing Zionist Propaganda in the UK,” the article discussed the rise of grassroots Zionist advocacy since 2000, the beginning of the Second Intifada, which signaled the failure of the Oslo Peace Process that intended to deliver Palestinian self-determination. 

Contrary to Jackman’s assertion, as well known, the renewed Palestinian violence undermined the Oslo Peace process and eliminated the hope for Palestinian self-determination.

Jackman explained her article “focuses on Israel’s strategy as it affects the UK, now widely construed by Zionists as a center for anti-Semitic activity and therefore a key battleground over discursive hegemony. More specifically, the paper highlights the efforts of two prominent grassroots advocacy organizations to recruit and coach volunteers in the art of Israeli hasbara,” aiming to “counter the rising tide of pro-Palestinian sympathy in the UK as embodied by Israel’s nemesis, the Boycott Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” 

Jackman argued that “by outsourcing Zionist propaganda to grassroots activists, and exploiting their social networks to circulate biased information, Israel is buttressing from below the British government’s customary support for Israel, and perpetuating its inertia over Israeli occupation of land allocated under international law for a future Palestinian state.”

The editorial team of eSharp added that it “recognizes that this article has caused considerable offense… We would like to apologize that our editorial procedures did not identify those failures in scholarship.” 

As a university journal, eSharp aims to provide opportunities to researchers with little or no experience in academic publishing and “welcomes discussion and debate across the full range of topics, even those which are controversial. But along with such debate comes the responsibility for articles to be rigorous, well-balanced, and supported by evidence. This article does not meet those standards of scholarship,” the editors added. 

Jackman’s Ph.D. is co-supervised by Professor William Gallois, of the University of Exeter and her Ph.D. thesis is titled “Discursive Silencing in Debates on Israel-Palestine.” According to the British blogger David Collier, who first reported on Jackman, her second supervisor is the notorious Prof. Ilan Pappe whose lifelong work was dedicated to tarnishing Israel. 

Worth noting that the scholarship of Jackman has been anti-Israel and anti-Semitic for a number of years. She already presented a paper on her doctoral work at the British Society for Middle East Studies (BRISMES) annual meeting in 2015.  Jackman was a signatory to a 2013 petition “Jews for Palestinian Right of Return.”  In 2015, she donated money to Shabaka, an independent, transnational Palestinian think tank. In 2015 Jackman participated in a SOAS conference where she delivered a paper, “Networking the Occupation: How Israel ‘Mows the Lawn’ in Gaza and Gets Away With It.” She also signed a petition in 2016, an “Urgent appeal of 23,000 citizens from across the world to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for protection of human rights defenders active in the BDS movement.”  

Jackman, who is not Jewish, wrote about Israel in 2013: “We do expect more from a people whose roots are geographically and culturally similar to our own, and who choose to be identified with Europe in many ways… to adopt certain norms and adhere to human rights law…to end its occupation. Is it really any wonder that in witnessing the increasingly brutal oppression of the Palestinians, we Europeans recognize actions reminiscent of the oppression meted out on the Jews in wartime Germany?”

Equating Israel to Nazi Germany is anti-Semitic per the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

In a timely manner, the British organization Universities UK (UUK) has recently published a booklet on tackling anti-Semitism. UUK is the collective voice of 140 universities in the UK with a core purpose to maximize their positive impact on students and the public both in the UK and globally. UUK is led by its members and acts on behalf of universities.

The report, “Tackling anti-Semitism: practical guidance for universities,” was published on June 11, 2021.  It “outlines how the recommendations in our tackling racial harassment guidance may be applied to anti-Semitic racial harassment.”  The guidance states that “Antisemitism – prejudice or hatred towards Jews – is wrong and should not be tolerated at universities or anywhere in society.” UUK believes it is particularly important, given the historically high levels of anti-Semitism in the UK.

Jackman’s Ph.D. should be carefully examined for anti-Semitism and falsifications. Other scholarships in her department should also be examined. 

References

https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_792691_smxx.pdf
eSharp Issue 25:1 Rise and Fall
The eSharp editorial team recognises that this article has caused considerable offence.
eSharp welcomes discussion and debate across the full range of topics, even those which
are controversial. But along with such debate comes the responsibility for articles to be
rigorous, well-balanced, and supported by evidence. This article does not meet those
standards of scholarship. In particular, this article employs some discursive strategies,
including a biased selection of sources as well as the misrepresentation of data, which
promote an unfounded antisemitic theory regarding the State of Israel and its activity in the
United Kingdom. We would like to apologise that our editorial procedures did not identify
those failures in scholarship.
eSharp is a student-led scholarly journal with the aim of publishing high-quality research
produced by post-graduate researchers. eSharp is run entirely by postgraduate researchers
from within the University of Glasgow’s College of Arts, with a new editorial team being
formed each year. Therefore, while we cannot speak for previous editorial boards, the eSharp
team affirms that we strive for the highest standards in academic research and publishing. We
would also note that, with the support of the staff at the Graduate School of the College of
Arts, new checks and balances have been introduced to the eSharp editorial protocols since
the publication of this article, to provide better assurance that the articles featured in future
issues of eSharp are of the highest quality.
eSharp exists to provide opportunities for publication of researchers with little or no
experience in academic publishing in order to educate those researchers in the publishing
process as well as to refine their presentation of their work. Therefore, an additional benefit
of publishing in eSharp is the pedagogical dynamic between the contributing scholars and the
editorial team, by which the journal’s editors can offer more gracious and constructive
feedback than one might expect to receive from other academic publications. In recognition
of this, the eSharp team affirms our commitment to the highest standards of academic
research, the process of peer-review, and the publication of high-quality articles in our
current and future publications.
The eSharp team is committed to transparently addressing the concerns raised about this
article and to the integrity of the journal. There was considerable discussion among the
members of the editorial team and College staff on this matter, but ultimately, with the aim of
providing maximum transparency, we have decided not to remove the article from the
journal, but to leave it as is with this editorial appended.
eSharp editorial team
May 2021
eSharp Issue 25:1 Rise and Fall
45
Advocating Occupation: Outsourcing Zionist Propaganda in the UK
Jane Jackman (University of Exeter)
This essay explores the rise of grassroots Zionist advocacy since 2000, when the second Palestinian
intifada (lit: uprising) effectively signalled the failure of the Oslo Peace Process to deliver on its
promise of Palestinian self-determination. In response, rather than working to end its military
occupation of Palestinian territory, Israel set about attempting to reverse the subsequent sharp decline
in its international standing, and revised its global communications strategy. Whilst initially
strengthening ties with the Jewish diaspora, Israel’s longer-term objective was to conscript and
resource a cohort of grassroots Zionist supporters to carry the Israeli narrative into the broader sphere
of society. This paper focuses on Israel’s strategy as it affects the UK, now widely construed by Zionists
as a centre for anti-Semitic activity and therefore a key battleground over discursive hegemony. More
specifically, the paper highlights the efforts of two prominent grassroots advocacy organizations to
recruit and coach volunteers in the art of Israeli hasbara (lit: explaining). Their mission is to counter
the rising tide of pro-Palestinian sympathy in the UK as embodied by Israel’s nemesis, the Boycott
Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaign, the grassroots pro-Palestinian movement that gained
momentum from Israel’s series of military incursions into Gaza (2008-2009, 2012, 2014). The paper
argues that by outsourcing Zionist propaganda to grassroots activists, and exploiting their social
networks to circulate biased information, Israel is buttressing from below the British government’s
customary support for Israel, and perpetuating its inertia over Israeli occupation of land allocated
under international law for a future Palestinian state.
Key words: Israel, Palestinian, new anti-Semitism, grassroots advocacy, networks
A half-truth is the worst of all lies
(Solon 550 B.C.)
For Israel’s ambassador to the Court of St. James, Mark Regev, 2017 could hardly have begun
on a more discordant note. Centenary celebrations marking the Balfour Declaration, the 1917
document legitimizing Zionist immigration to Palestine, had been launched just two months
earlier, with the British government endorsing plans for a year of special events. But by the
end of 2016, relations between Britain and Israel were in crisis. On the eve of the Jewish feast
of Hanukah, two days before Christmas, the UN Security Council had adopted a resolution
(2334) condemning Israel’s unabated expansion of Jewish settlements on land that international
law identifies as Palestinian. Without warning, America had withheld its customary veto of UN
censure of Israel, and abstained; Britain, together with the 13 other states on the Council, voted
in favour. Worse still (in diplomatic terms) it was discovered that the British Foreign Office
had played a leading role in scripting the offending resolution (Sanchez 2016).
Then, with the ink scarcely dry on Resolution 2334, and amid Israeli threats of
retaliation, coupled with fear over what might transpire at the Paris Peace Conference in mideSharp
Issue 25:1 Rise and Fall
46
January, the Qatari based network, Al Jazeera English broadcast a four-part series of
undercover documentaries entitled The Lobby (Al Jazeera 2017). The series was to shatter any
illusions about Israel’s capacity to influence British democratic processes. Most
controversially, the films exposed an Israeli Embassy official in the act of suggesting to a senior
civil servant the ‘take down’ of British politicians, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sir Alan
Duncan, a known supporter of Palestinian rights, at the top of the list.
The embassy official was Shai Masot, a former intelligence officer for the Israel Defence
Forces (IDF). To Ambassador Regev’s further embarrassment, Masot’s interlocutor, Maria
Strizzolo, a former ministerial aide employed in the Education Department, was filmed
agreeing: ‘If you look hard enough, I’m sure that there is something that they are trying to hide’
(Al Jazeera 2017). The scandal mongering attempts of the pair were hard to deny in the face
of the filmed evidence.
Further footage showed Masot boasting about his recent success in influencing British
government policy over local council boycotts of Israeli goods and services
(Conservative Friends of Israel). Equally damaging, he was seen mobilizing behind-the-scenes
support for Israel through his close involvement with Zionist lobbyists amongst the political
elite, and covertly fostering the spread of pro-Israel advocacy groups at the grassroots level of
British society.
By the time the films aired, both Masot and Strizzolo had resigned. Ambassador Regev
– well known as the Israeli prime minister’s spokesman during Israel’s 51-day military assault
on Gaza in 2014, codenamed Operation Defensive Edge ̶ insisted Masot had acted alone and
that his behaviour did not reflect Israeli policy. He apologized to Sir Alan personally, and
released a photograph of the two shaking hands.
Nevertheless, the documentaries caused outrage on all sides of the Israel-Palestinian
debate in Britain. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded an inquiry on grounds of national
security. Conservative MP Crispin Blunt told the Independent that Masot’s conduct was an
‘interference in another country’s politics of the murkiest and most discreditable kind’ (Merrick
2017). As they and others argued – with good reason – had Russia, Iran or indeed any other
state been caught behaving in a like manner, there would have been a thorough investigation.
On the other hand, the Jewish press tended to minimize the importance of the series,
scorning them as trivial and out-of-touch with the reality of everyday parliamentary lobbying.
Others accused Al Jazeera of importing Middle Eastern anti-Semitism to Britain, or berated
the deceitfulness of undercover reporting and complained to the communications regulator
Ofcom.1
However, the furore was short-lived. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow made
short shrift of MPs’ demands for an inquiry, telling them it would not be ‘helpful to discuss it
further’ (Middle East Eye 2017). A public petition collected more than 12,000 signatories
demanding an investigation into the embassy’s conduct but it too drew a terse response from
the Foreign Office. Stressing Britain’s strong ties with Israel, the response concluded: ‘We
consider the matter closed’ (UK Government & Parliament 2017).
This paper is less concerned with why the British government appears to favour Israel
in this way ̶ bilateral trading figures of £4 billion are undoubtedly a factor ̶ as it is with how
1 At the time of writing the outcome is still pending.
47
this position is maintained. In light of growing public unrest over Israel’s policies towards the
Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza, this question is particularly imperative. According
to the UN, Operation Defensive Edge killed more than 2,250 Palestinians, including 1,462
civilians ̶ a third of them children (OCHA 2015). In the UK, as elsewhere in Europe,
protestors took to the streets in an attempt to press the government to intervene. One of these
protests, in central London, attracted 150,000 marchers (Culzac 2014). In Manchester, there
were clashes with police as pro-Palestinian activists demonstrated outside city centre shops
selling Israeli products (Cox 2014). In Birmingham, the Stop the War Coalition organized a
2000-strong march demanding an end to the bloodshed (Cartledge 2014). Meanwhile, the
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), a forerunner of BDS, gathered more than 38,000
signatures on an open letter to then prime minister David Cameron, protesting at Israel’s
‘collective punishment of the Palestinian people’ (PSC [Letter] 2014).
Since the role of the media and political elites in promoting support for Israel has
already been explored and documented (Mearsheimer & Walt 2007; Oborne & Jones 2009;
Philo & Berry 2011), these elements of the public debate are not the focus here. Grassroots
advocacy, however, is by its nature diffuse and harder to track, and with the exception of a
report sponsored by Spinwatch (Mills et al 2013) on one of the newest and most sophisticated
organizations, few efforts have been made to map its mechanisms or its effects. While one
short paper is unlikely to go far in redressing the balance, its author hopes to encourage further
research in this field.
The principal contention of this paper is that an Israeli state-sponsored strategy is
focused on controlling public opinion in the UK. Israel’s objective is to harness the resources
of grassroots Zionist supporters in order to buttress from below the British government’s
traditionally staunch support for Israel and to combat increasing public antipathy to Israel,
specifically in its military interventions in Gaza, known colloquially to IDF soldiers as
‘mowing the lawn’ (Rabbani 2014).
For its conceptual framework, the paper draws on the Foucauldian correlation between
knowledge, discourse and power (Foucault 1980). Further, it resonates with the notion that
discourse is a contested site of power, and whoever controls the discourse also controls what
Teun van Dijk (2008) conceptualizes as ‘the public mind’, and in turn is able to exercise a level
of control over people’s actions (Dijk 2008: viii). Dijk claims that such high levels of control
equate to an abuse of power that critical discourse scholars have an obligation to expose.
Before proceeding, it should be noted that since 1948 when the Israeli state was
founded, scholars have fallen roughly into two camps: one engaged in presenting a carefully
managed justification for Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the other (after 1967) drawing on
revisionist scholarship that continues to challenge the Israeli narrative and its resulting social
inequalities. Also, whereas the new anti-Semitism has fomented a great deal of scholarly
debate, not least over the conflation of terms such as pro-Israel and pro-Zionist, there is
insufficient space here to examine the distinctions. Therefore for the purpose of this essay the
terms pro-Israel and pro-Zionist are used interchangeably.
Therefore, in the spirit of critical inquiry, and focusing on pro-Israel advocacy in the
UK, the paper provides a brief insight into recent developments in Zionist advocacy in the UK,
focusing on the activities of one of the newest and most proactive grassroots organizations, We
Believe in Israel (WBII). Then, highlighting the expanding network of Friends of Israel (FoI)
48
groups, it touches on the kinds of discourse supporters typically use to promote Israel to the
UK public. It concludes that the Israeli narrative of events is being robustly outsourced to
grassroots activists for the purpose of circulating Israel’s chosen narratives through the
Foucauldian ‘capillaries’ of the social body, through which discourse – and therefore
knowledge and power – flows (Foucault 1980: p.96). The aim is to discredit and neutralize pro-
Palestinian discourses. In essence this means that British Zionists, both Jewish and non-Jewish,
are being mobilized to wage a proxy war for Israel via the digital realm. It may be clichéd to
think of it as the Clausewitzian ‘war by other means’ but that is precisely what it appears to be.
The New Anti-Semitism
In September 2007, British politician Denis MacShane wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post
in which he warned against a new and virulent form of anti-Semitism; one that he claimed
threatened not only Jews and the state of Israel but also ‘all of humanity’ (MacShane 2007).
This new type of prejudice, MacShane declared, had emerged to become an ‘officially
sanctioned state ideology’, which he said was rife in British institutions, and even more
pernicious than the racist version of anti-Semitism that infected Europe in the nineteenth
century and paved the way for genocide in the twentieth. Moreover, a ‘crusade’ against Israel
had been launched with the avowed intent of eradicating all traces of Jewishness from the
Middle East. Unless confronted and contained this crusade would weaken the core values,
rights and freedoms of the entire world.
As chair of the newly commissioned All-Party Inquiry into Anti-Semitism, MacShane
was reiterating its first findings, published in 2006. Hyperbolic though his language was, he
was not speaking alone or without warrant. Whereas the term new anti-Semitism is hardly new
– a booklet bearing the title was published in 1921 – rising levels of anti-Semitic incidents across
Europe since 2000 were giving the concept of a new manifestation of ‘the longest hatred’
(Wistrich 1994) greater political traction. With Israel’s construal by Zionists as the world’s
‘collective Jew’ (Klug 2003), and the gradual conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism
over the first decade of the twenty-first century, virtually any censure of Israeli policy became
open to a racist interpretation; as a result, critics of Israeli policy expose themselves to the
possibility, indeed the probability, of being smeared as anti-Semites. As Butler (2004) observes
in an essay debating the concept of a new anti-Semitism, fear of stigma has the potential to
cause some people to self-silence their views on Israel, whether on policy or conduct,
effectively distorting free and open debate (Butler 2004: p.101-127). Others, who refuse to be
silenced, including many prominent Jews, risk seeing their characters publicly maligned and
their views discredited.
Since the inception of Israel as the Jewish State, successive international governments
and institutions have struggled to establish a workable definition of anti-Semitism. The most
problematic aspect of defining contemporary anti-Semitism is the conflation of anti-Semitism
with anti-Zionism. In 2013, the European agency responsible for protecting fundamental
human rights (FRA) cited this difficulty when it abandoned attempts to formulate its own
working definition. Nevertheless, in December 2016 – prior to relations with Israel turning sour
over Resolution 2334 – UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Britain was to become
one of the first countries to adopt a similar formulation as put forward by the International
Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (Walker 2016).
49
This matters for three main reasons. Firstly, the new interpretation of anti-Semitism sets
limits on free speech where Israel is concerned, entrenching its current immunity to
international censure. Secondly, debates over the new definition distract attention from Israel’s
treatment of the Palestinians, either as Israeli citizens or under occupation in the West Bank,
or under sanctions in Gaza. And thirdly, there is a real danger of the new definition resulting
in unintended consequences for Jewish communities, not just in Britain but also around the
world. This is because over-zealous use of the charge of anti-Semitism ‘radically dilute[s]’ it
(Butler 2004: p.109-110), making genuine cases of anti-Semitism harder to identify and
challenge. By this logic, and contrary to MacShane’s warnings, prohibition on criticizing Israel
renders Jews more, rather than less, vulnerable to racist abuse.
Pro-Israel Advocacy: A Changing Landscape
During the years leading up to the new formulation of anti-Semitism, Israel’s international
image had already been in steady decline. This was partly due to the failure of the Oslo Peace
Process to deliver on its promises, specifically to the Palestinians. For example, despite Israel
agreeing to withdraw from 90% of the occupied Palestinian territories, by 2000 it had only
withdrawn from 18% (Mills et al 2013: p.24). At the same time, other events were being
broadcast around the globe. These included the onset of a second Palestinian intifada in
September 2000, one that was to last for five years – the first having ended in 1993 with the
signing of the Oslo Accords – and secondly, a highly publicized fiasco involving the Israeli
delegation at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001. The conference ended
in turmoil after the Israeli and their American counterparts staged a walkout in protest of a draft
proposal equating Zionism with racism. Despite the offending motion being rejected, the
spectacle tarnished Israel’s image and served to further polarize debate over its policies, now
gaining widespread publicity due to the Palestinian uprising (Swarns 2001).
Meanwhile, rather than fixing the main cause of its unpopularity – the military
occupation of territory assigned to the Palestinians under international law – Israeli policy
makers blamed ‘viral anti-Semitism’ together with an ineffectual communications strategy
(Schleifer & Snapper 2015). All Israel required, or so they thought, was a radical overhauling
of its hasbara (lit: explanation), and a more proactive approach to communicating with the
international community.
The Institute of Jewish Policy Research (IJPR) had already commissioned a report
recommending how best to serve the interests of the Jewish diaspora in Britain, and how to
communicate Jewish issues to the wider public. Published in March 2000 the report, A
Community of Communities (IJPR 2000), was to become a blueprint for the eventual formation
of an Israeli-sponsored network of advocacy groups aimed at combatting perceived attempts
to delegitimize the Jewish state overseas. The report recommended the development of a coordinated
network of key agencies to lead quickly on issues affecting the Jewish community in
the UK, feeding information into a network of ‘targeted coalitions of Jewish organizations and
agencies in order to formulate a strategic response’ (IJPR 2000). Basically, the idea was to
form a series of interconnected hubs tasked with the coordination and dissemination of facts,
not only to political and media elites but also to smaller, satellite groups and then on through
grassroots volunteer networks to a wider public – in the Foucauldian analogy, to ‘the point
where power reaches into the very grain of individuals’ (Foucault 1980: p.39).
50
It was out of this broader initiative that the ad hoc Cross Community Emergency Coordinating
Group (CCECG) emerged in 2002, instigated by then Israeli Ambassador Dror
Zeigerman in association with a group of leading UK businessmen. One of the group’s first
initiatives was to commission top public relations experts Frank Luntz and Stan Greenberg to
research public attitudes to Israel in the UK (Mills et al 2013). On their advice, the CCECG
began sponsoring trips to Israel for British journalists, the first led by then Chief Rabbi
Jonathan Sacks. Its information centre was referred to as the war room. A rebuttal desk was set
up to combat negative media reports and brief opinion-formers, framing the ties between the
UK Jewish community and Israel as more solid than in reality they were.
Having emerged as a contingency measure, the group was soon able to establish a more
permanent footing as the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) whose
objective was (and still is) ‘to cultivate a policymaking environment in Britain that is
favourable to Israel’ (Mills et al: p.40).
From Israel’s perspective, any investment in these efforts – both from the Israeli state
and private individuals – was well spent, as subsequent events proved. The infamous Jenin
massacre of 2002 was followed in 2003 by the death of a young American activist, Rachel
Corrie, who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer as she resisted house demolitions at Rafah, on
the Gaza border. In 2006, Israel’s devastating invasion of Lebanon coincided with the
publication of former American President Jimmy Carter’s book, Peace Not Apartheid, for
which he was ostracized by much of the American political establishment. The publicity
surrounding both events – the tragedy of one, and the furore over the other – attracted public
attention to the Palestinian plight and cast doubt on Israel’s true intentions in the peace process.
Meanwhile, the so-called separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank, justified
on grounds of Palestinian terrorism during the second intifada, was taking shape largely on
Palestinian land, in defiance of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) opinion in 2004 that it
was illegal. Elsewhere, the transnational BDS movement – established in 2005 on the
anniversary of the ICJ opinion – was making advances in further galvanizing British public
opinion (Hitchcock 2016). The task for Zionist strategists was now one of explaining and
justifying Israel’s actions, not just to the political and media elites, but also to the public at
large.
Outsourcing To The Grassroots
In December 2009 the Global Forum for Combatting Anti-Semitism, convened by Israel’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called for the fight against BDS to be taken to the grassroots of
Jewish diaspora host countries (Innovative Minds 2010). The Working Group on
Delegitimization, co-chaired by Canadian Professor Gil Troy, listed 12 steps in a five-year plan
to combat BDS. The first step is headed Let’s Reframe to Name and Shame, while the second
is Dig Deep to Undermine. Further steps included engaging bloggers ‘to target BDSers and
delegitimizers, exposing their tactics’, and ‘pursuing a strategy of ridicule and satire –
especially on the internet’ (Innovative Minds 2010). Troy later claimed the document was ‘the
start of a conversation’ and the launch of ‘a grassroots movement against a well-organized but
ultimately failing and marginalized effort’ (Jerusalem Post 11 March 2010).
Then in January 2010, a major theme at the 10th Herzliya Conference, Israel’s main
policy-making forum, was Winning the Battle of the Narrative. The emphasis was on the same
51
networking model recommended a decade earlier in the Community of Communities report.
Policy advisors presented papers in Herzliya listing ways to outsource political messages via
NGOs, academic institutions, and advocacy organizations, as well as ways to coach grassroots
activists in the use of digital platforms to ‘get the message out’. For example, one Working
Paper urged advocates to develop ‘an online personality’ to create a ‘positive resonance’ with
western audiences, and to use only language that works culturally and politically with them
(Michlin 2010). Further emphasis was on strengthening diaspora identity with Israel, and
outsourcing its messages to grassroots activists whereby Israel would gain maximum spread of
pro-Israel discourse at minimum cost.
A document issued by the Reut Institute, Building a Political Firewall Against Israel’s
Delegitimization (Reut 2010), set out a detailed strategy of grassroots engagement in the
diaspora to mobilize support from the bottom up, as a supplement to Israel’s top down pressure
on political and business elites (Reut 2010: p.14). It then offered extensive advice on ways to
‘delegitimize the delegitimizing networks’.
Besides formulating a coordinated response to events in Israel, the larger hub
organizations would be tasked with marshaling background information for feeding to the
smaller, satellite groups. These would recruit and train volunteer advocates to disseminate
selective messages, using both traditional methods – street stalls, letters to MPs, complaints to
the media – as well as digital, with an emphasis on social media networking. The idea was to
achieve a united front at the grassroots of British society, based on discourse originating in
Israel itself.
The following year (2011), BICOM launched its satellite organization, We Believe in
Israel (WBII) with the explicit purpose of mobilizing and resourcing an army of loyalists to
challenge detractors, promote Israel and defend its actions. Its purpose according to its website
is to foster a ‘broad-based and inclusive coalition’ and to: ‘create a fair and balanced political
environment for Israel in the UK’, as well as to ‘broaden active support for Israel beyond
existing advocates to include a wide range of Jewish and non-Jewish voices’; and to ‘ensure
support for Israel is heard in debates whether online, in the traditional media or at public events’
(WBII website). By operating largely in the virtual realm as a resource centre and capacitybuilding
network, the WBII brand benefits from the kind of fluidity that is unavailable to the
longer-established organizations representing Jews in Britain like The Board of Deputies, and
the Zionist Federation.
Proving that WBII has become a significant force in building Zionist support, the
organization staged its second major conference in 2015 under the banner, Winning the
Communications Battle for Israel. Opening the event, WBII’s director Luke Akehurst told
more than 1,000 delegates there were more than 7,500 people on the organization’s mailing
list, 45% of them non-Jews, and that the support of 450 councillors had been secured in 200
local authorities across the UK (WBII [Online Video] 2015). He warned, ‘We’re up against a
new scale of anti-Israel activity, and at the edges of that activity we’re seeing a merging
between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, a kind of new anti-Semitism dressed up as anti-
Zionism’. WBII would equip those willing to counter this movement with the knowledge and
skills to become ‘allies in the battle for Israel’s reputation’ (WBII [Online Video] 2015).
Part of the organization’s success is due to Akehurst himself. He runs regular pro-Israel
workshops for trade unions, church groups, schools, and FoI groups – the kind of groups that
52
Shai Masot had a covert hand in spreading, and at which a representative of the Israeli Embassy
is normally present. In addition, WBII regularly promotes campaigns and petitions on
Facebook and Twitter. These include calls for the banning of Hezbollah flags on British streets;
an end to British aid ‘being used to educate children to hate’; and for government legislation
against local council boycotts of Israeli goods and services – the policy issue Shai Masot
claimed he influenced (Al Jazeera 2017). Supporters are encouraged to write to their MPs as
issues arise, for which templates are provided. As a result of these efforts, Akehurst was able
to announce in March 2017 that WBII’s list of activists had doubled to 15,000 (WBII
[website]). These now include 650 local councilors from all parties. It was an important
milestone, he said, ‘sealing [WBII’s] reputation as the UK’s fastest growing pro-Israel
campaign’ (WBII [website]).
Singing From The Same Hymn Sheet
Since the emergence of WBII, small local FoI groups have been springing up in an ad hoc
manner across the UK, affiliated to a web of other campaigning groups such as Stand With Us,
Christians United for Israel, and the Israel-Britain Alliance. Two of the most active, the North
West FoI and Sussex FoI were launched in 2014, the former in response to boycotts of Israeli
goods, the latter responding to clashes outside during the protests against Operation Defensive
Edge. In Scotland, 12 groups have emerged in the last two years, together forming the
Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS). Others are planned. Their shared
approach is to challenge criticism of Israel both online and in conversation on the streets.
Advice on how best to do this, using the most effective discourses, is readily available on the
WBII website.
Whilst the various FoI groups are free to establish their own constitutions and act
accordingly, their common enemy – according to social media posts – is the BDS movement,
which they claim is a broad anti-Semitic alliance comprised of left and right wing extremists
in coalition with Islamic fundamentalists (APPIA 2006). The groups are open to all regardless
of religious beliefs though some, like the one based in Manchester, attract members from local
Jewish communities, whereas others like the Morecambe Bay FoI are largely Christian in
character. However, they all share the same corporate image and express similar viewpoints,
recycling a high proportion of the same information from the same sources in the form of video
clips, articles and blogposts. These include messages from Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin
Netanyahu, Ambassador Regev, and former Chief Rabbi Sacks, all of whom make claims that
distort the pro-Palestinian narrative, or omit it altogether.
Rabbi Sacks demonstrates this well in his voiceover of an animated clip discrediting
the BDS movement, posted on the COFIS Facebook page and widely circulated elsewhere. He
begins by stating that the BDS campaign is ‘dangerously wrong because beneath its surface is
an attempt to delegitimize Israel, as a prelude to its elimination’ (Sacks [Online Video] 2017).
This is problematic in two key ways: firstly in its assumption that to oppose Israeli policy is
tantamount to seeking Israel’s destruction. Secondly, and equally important, is the normative
value with which he, as an authority figure, imbues his assertion. As Butler (2004) argues in a
different but related case, such utterances carry weight by virtue of the speakers’ status, thereby
influencing how their hearers understand issues and potentially ‘setting a norm for legitimate
interpretation’ (Butler 2004: p.108). Moreover, where charges of anti-Semitism are leveled
53
against critics of Israel, authority figures have the power to ‘exercise a chilling effect on
political discourse, stoking the fear that to criticize Israel […] is to expose oneself to the charge
of anti-Semitism’ (Butler 2004: p.102). They affect the conditions of audibility and set limits
on what one is willing to say out loud’ (Butler 2004: p.127). The omission of alternative
narratives and possibilities further serves to foreclose debate (Butler 2004: p.110).
To advance the FoI mission, the Israeli Embassy annually invites representatives of the
newest groups to London for a day’s advocacy training. In November 2016, there were more
than 100 representatives from new groups across the UK, the highest number to date. Besides
Ambassador Regev, speakers included Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, and
David Collier, a blogger under the banner heading Beyond the Great Divide. Given that his
posts are frequently recycled and applauded on Facebook and Twitter, he is highly regarded
among grassroots Zionist supporters. His writing, however, is peppered with inflammatory
language. For example in January 2017 he referred to UNSC Resolution 2334 as ‘[f]odder for
the anti-Israel lynch mob’ and the UN itself as ‘a rabid Jew-hating forum’ (Collier 2017).
Collier’s self-appointed mission is to attend and report on pro-Palestinian events and
academic conferences. He refers to these as ‘hate-fests’. He told his embassy audience in
November that ‘BDS is an umbrella group under which all Israel haters unite’ to ‘smear
Zionists as bullies and Nazis’. 2 His posts frequently single out prominent supporters of
Palestinian rights such as Ilan Pappe and Ghada Karmi to name-and-shame. Overall, Collier’s
blogposts exemplify the discursive categories typical of an extreme ideological perspective.
These include outright denials of Israel’s human rights violations beginning with the
displacement in 1948 of the indigenous Palestinian population (Pappe 2006); the shifting of
blame for the conflict through discourses that claim (for Israel) the right to self-defense, and
which imply that Palestinian violence is a random expression of Arab anti-Semitism rather than
resistance to decades of dispossession, discrimination and humiliation; dehumanization of
Palestinians as a people who routinely sacrifice their children in order to kill Jews; a strong
antipathy for anyone supporting Palestinian human rights; and frequent resort to ridicule.
When the Al Jazeera documentaries aired, Collier was quick to deride the series,
downplaying the seriousness of Israel’s tampering with British public opinion, and citing
Marcus Dysch, Political Editor at the Jewish Chronicle, who on 12 January attacked the series
as ‘harassment of Jews dressed up as entertainment’ (Collier 2017b). Similarly, Collier
reproduced the remarks of fellow blogger Jonathan Hoffman, whose piece on the Zionist
website Harry’s Place summed the films as ‘voyeurism for anti-Semites’ (Collier 2017b).
It would be easy to dismiss such social media exchanges as inconsequential hot air. But
propaganda thrives on the repetition of catchy slogans such as these, and the constant exchange
and recirculation of misleading information – Collier’s comments reappear across a range of
social media – arguably spreads and entrenches already strongly held Zionist beliefs, inflaming
antagonism towards pro-Palestinian supporters and muting their messages. The possibility of
free and fair debate is severely limited.
The dissident journalist Chris Hedges highlights this well when he draws on George
Orwell (and Adolf Hitler) to observe that states wielding ‘the Big Lie’ – as he claims Israel
does to maintain its hold on Palestine – do so not just at the expense of the truth, but also of
2 Excerpted from notes made by a Morecambe Bay FoI attendee, supplied with permission for research purposes.
54
reality (Hedges 2014). Hedges offers a striking example from his own experience of how
language can be made to promulgate the Big Lie. More than once, he writes, whilst reporting
from Khan Younis during the bombing of Gaza, he witnessed Israeli soldiers baiting small
boys, swearing at them through loudspeakers mounted on armored vehicles; then, when the
boys responded by throwing stones at the jeeps, the soldiers opened fire, with devastating
results. ‘Such incidents, in the Israeli lexicon, become children caught in crossfire’ (Hedges
2014 (emphasis in original)). Similarly, the carnage following the bombing by F16 jets of
‘overcrowded hovels in Gaza city’ becomes ‘a surgical strike on a bomb-making factory’; and
the demolition of Palestinian homes to create a buffer zone around Gaza becomes ‘the
demolition of the homes of terrorists’. Meanwhile, he adds, Israel lays claim to being ‘the most
moral army in the world’ that never attacks civilians (Hedges 2014).
Be that as it may, it is by means of language that binary terms are forced on events, thus
disallowing ‘the nuances and contradictions that plague the conscience’, which is why, Hedges
suggests, Israelis and supporters of Israel are able to maintain their cognitive dissonance over
the occupation and its consequences. ‘And when facts no longer matter’, he says, and there is
‘no shared history grounded in truth, when people foolishly believe their own lies, there can be
no useful exchange of information’ (Hedges 2014).
Capitalizing On Celebrity
Finally, in addition to grassroots social media interventions, there are a number of well-known
public figures willing to use their celebrity to repeat selective discourses in order to reinforce
the Israeli narrative. One such celebrity is the British comedienne Maureen Lipman, who won
widespread affection in the 1980s for her portrayal of a Jewish mother in a series of British
Telecom advertisements. In 2014 she publicly tore up her Labour Party membership card in
protest at the then party leader Ed Miliband’s backing of a Commons motion to recognize a
future Palestinian state. In a syndicated newspaper interview she railed colourfully at
supporters of the motion, characterizing them as ‘footling backbenchers in this ludicrous piece
of [anti-Israel] propaganda’ (Press Association 2014). Many followed her example, deserting
Labour in droves (Hodges 2014).
Lipman came to the fore again in February 2017 when the Israel Britain Alliance
scripted an appeal in protest of the annual Israel Apartheid Week events on university campuses
(Lipman [Online Video] 2017). According to Lipman, Apartheid Week ‘creates an atmosphere
of intimidation and prejudice’ that contravenes the 2010 Equality Act under which universities
are legally bound to foster good relations between students regardless of nationality, ethnicity
or religious beliefs. Universities allowing their premises to be used for Apartheid Week events
were failing in their duty of care, specifically to Jewish students.
However, Lipman’s script contains a number of half-truths and red herrings. For
example, within the first 20 seconds of speaking to the camera, she claims that, ‘All people in
Israel have equal rights and 1.6 million Arab Israelis have exactly the same rights as 6.8 million
Jewish Israelis’. This is only half the truth. While Israel’s Declaration of Independence
affirmed social and political equality for all its citizens, in reality there are now more than 50
laws discriminating against Palestinians, ranging from legislation barring their return after
1948, to laws restricting land and planning rights. One law bans married couples from living
together where one spouse is an Israeli citizen and the other a resident of the occupied territories
55
(Adalah). Yet Lipman closes her video by demanding (without irony) that ‘universities must
refuse to allow university property to display false and inflammatory propaganda, including
the phrase Israel Apartheid Week’. The video quickly went viral across Zionist social
platforms.
At the same time, FoI groups were running a letter-writing campaign to UK university
chancellors, urging them to ban the event. One such letter, to the vice-Chancellor of the
University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), was posted on Facebook as an exemplar. Its
writer, Nigel Goodrich on behalf of COFIS, decried ‘this shameful and discredited hate-fest’
and focused, as had Lipman, on the university’s legal duty of care for all students regardless of
race, nationality or ethnicity. Its core demand appears in bold type: ‘To comply with this
important duty, universities must refuse to allow university property to display false and
inflammatory (emphases in original) propaganda that includes the phrase Israel “Apartheid
Week” ’. The writer goes on to argue that to allow the event would make the university
‘complicit in encouraging racist propaganda’ and ‘[t]he hostile, aggressive and untruthful
rhetoric likely to be inflicted upon your students will, in our view, cross the line into hate
incidents, hate crimes or even anti-Semitism’ (Goodrich 2017).
It took UCLAN just 24 hours to consider the warning and ban Apartheid Week on
campus (Doherty 2017). Emboldened by the outcome, campaigners went on to flood other
institutions with similar messages. As a result, a number of other universities, including Exeter
and Central London, outlawed a number of student demonstrations on campus, including the
setting up of mock checkpoints, citing the racist nature of the events and security concerns.
Summary
In 1983, the year before his death, Foucault wrote that his life’s work had been ‘to create a
history of the different modes by which […] human beings are made subjects […] of power’
(Dreyfus & Rabinow 1982: p.208-209). His strategy was to seek out the practices and micropractices
that constitute and pervade everyday life and within which knowledge accrues.
Despite Foucault’s flaws – and there are many – perhaps his greatest legacy was to show how
the discourse-knowledge paradigm is intrinsic to what is deemed to be true. Therefore,
discourse constitutes an important weapon in the struggle for power.
The issues raised in this paper concern discursive practices aimed at spreading the state
of Israel’s preferred meta-discourses beyond its own borders as means of gaining hegemony in
the public sphere, and power to influence the political and media elite. Grassroots Zionist
advocacy organizations have been identified as increasingly vital conduits for selective pro-
Israel discourses with the aim of combatting criticism of Israel over the Israeli occupation of
Palestinian territory – which Israel disputes – and justifying its treatment of the Palestinians.
This paper has demonstrated the outworking of Israel’s policy since 2000 to sponsor
and resource the growth of grassroots advocacy in the UK, and to coordinate a hegemonic
discourse across a range of social platforms. It has endeavoured to show how Zionist
organizations in the UK are engaged in a determined strategy to reinforce from below the
British government’s long-standing support for Israel, dating back to the Balfour Declaration
of 1917.
These contentions are based on three key observations: firstly, that the definition of
anti-Semitism has been extended in such a way as to make critics of Israeli policy and
56
behaviour susceptible to spurious charges of anti-Semitic racism and the stigma to which that
charge exposes them.
Secondly, it has been observed that since the start of the Palestinian intifada in 2000,
and particularly following public demonstrations over Israel’s series of military interventions
in Gaza, Israeli efforts to strengthen diaspora ties to the Jewish homeland have intensified. The
discourse of existential threats to Israel, including regular reminders of the Nazi Holocaust,
have further energized efforts to recruit grassroots advocates to discredit pro-Palestinian
activists, particularly those promoting boycotts of Israel.
Thirdly, the disconnection between public outrage and UK policy on Israel has never
been starker. Notwithstanding the street protests of 2014 – and the raft of official reports
condemning Israel’s human rights violations – the British government’s allegiance to Israel
remains staunch. Even the debacle over Resolution 2334 caused no more than a brief pause in
the relationship, and the Al Jazeera exposé scarcely even that.
In conclusion, it should not be forgotten that the Israel-Palestinian conflict involves
complex issues and strongly held beliefs. This paper has merely highlighted one aspect of
Britain’s part in perpetuating what continues to be an intractable and bloody conflict in the
Middle East. As yet, these processes and mechanisms are under-researched but if human rights
mean anything at all – and even Rabbi Sacks admits that ‘human rights are universal or they
are nothing’ (Sacks [Online Video] 2017) – they surely demand scrutiny. Equally, the negative
consequences for free speech in the UK of applying the concept of a new anti-Semitism have
yet to be fully comprehended. To understand these processes more fully, and to expose the
hidden power structures underpinning them – as Foucault urged – there is a need for further
scholarly attention and empirical studies, not least as prerequisite to a more meaningful
international response to ending the conflict. The alternative to such a response is bleak indeed.
Bibliography
Adalah. 2012. Discriminatory Laws Database: https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/7771
[Accessed 17 February 2017].
Al Jazeera. 2017. The Lobby [Online Video series]. Al Jazeera Investigations:
http://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/thelobby/ [Accessed 20 February 2017].
APPIA. 2006. Report of the All-Party Inquiry into Anti-Semitism. September 2006. London: The
Stationery Office.
Butler, Judith. 2004. Precarious Life: the Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso.
Cartledge, James. 2014. Hundreds in Birmingham city centre demand an end to Middle East
bloodshed. Birmingham Mail. 11 July 2014.
Collier, David. 2017a. UN resolution 2334, British Jews and Yachad. Beyond the Great Divide: The
truth matters. 5 January 2017: http://david-collier.com/un-resolution-2334-yachad/ [Accessed
21 April 2017].
Collier, David. 2017b. Al Jazeera brings Middle Eastern antisemitism to the UK. Beyond the Great
Divide. 14 January 2017: http://david-collier.com/al-jazeera-brings-middle-easternantisemitism-
uk/ [Accessed 30 March 2017].
Conservative Friends of Israel: Government Announces Further Steps to Stop Councils Boycotting
Israel. 13 February 2017: https://cfoi.co.uk/government-announces-further-steps-to-stopcouncils-
boycotting-israel/ [Accessed 12 April 2017].
57
Cox, Charlotte. 2014. Hundreds protest on King Street during Gaza demonstration. Manchester
Evening News. 26 July 2014.
Culzac, Natasha. 2014. Israel-Gaza conflict: 150,000 protest in London for end to massacre and arms
trade. The Independent 9 August 2017.
Doherty, Rosa. 2017. University Cancels Israel Apartheid Week. The Jewish Chronicle. 31 March
2017.
Dreyfus, Herbert & Paul Rabinow. 1982. Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics.
Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Foucault, Michel. 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings 1972-1977. New
York: Pantheon.
Goodrich, Nigel. 2017. Letter to UCLAN on behalf of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland
(COFIS). Facebook 18 February 2017.
Hedges, Chris. 2014. Why Israel Lies. Truthdig:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/why_israel_lies_20140803 [Accessed 21 February
2017].
Hitchcock, Jennifer. 2016. Social Media Rhetoric of the Transnational Palestinian-led Boycott,
Divestment, and Sanctions Movement. Social Media + Society 24 February 2016.
Hodges, Dan 2014. Labour’s first Jewish leader is losing the Jewish vote. The Telegraph. 30 October
2014.
IJPR. 2000. A Community of Communities: Report of the Commission on Representation of the
Interests of the British Jewish Community. London: Institute for Jewish Policy Research.
Innovative Minds [n.a.] 2010. Zionist strategy report on combatting Boycotts, Divestment and
Sanctions. 14 March 2010: http://www.inminds.co.uk/article.php?id=10304 [Accessed 1 May
2017].
Klug, Brian 2003. The Collective Jew: Israel and the New Anti-Semitism. Patterns of Prejudice (37):
p.117-138.
Lipman, Maureen [Online Video]. 2017. Maureen Lipman dismantles Israel Apartheid Week.
February 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zq1_CBq-uA [Accessed 16 February
2017].
MacShane, Denis. 2007. The New Anti-Semitism. Washington Post. 29 September 2007.
Middle East Eye [n.a.] 2017. UK parliament speaker rules out Israeli diplomat investigation. Middle
East Eye. 9 January 2017.
Merrick, Rob. 2017. Labour Calls for Parliamentary Investigation. The Independent. 12 January 2017.
Michlin, Vera. 2010. Working Paper: Winning the Battle of the Narrative for the 2010 Herzliya
Conference, 31 Jan–3 February 2010 [excerpts]. Journal of Palestine Studies 39 (3): p.211-214.
Mills, Tom, David Miller, Tom Griffin & Hilary Aked. 2013. The Britain Israel Communications and
Research Centre: Giving peace a chance? Glasgow: Public Interest Investigations.
Munayyer, Yousef 2017. The Reasons for Israel’s Hysterical response to the UN Security Council
Resolution. The Nation. 28 December 2016.
OCHA. 2015. Gaza One Year On: Figures on the 2014 hostilities. June 2015:
http://gaza.ochaopt.org/2015/06/key-figures-on-the-2014-hostilities/ [Accessed 24 February
2017].
Pappe, Ilan. 2006. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.
Philo, Greg & Mike Berry. 2011. More Bad News from Israel. Glasgow University Media Group.
London: Pluto.
58
Press Association 2014. Maureen Lipman drops long-standing support for Labour Party. The
Guardian. 29 October 2014.
PSC [Letter] 2014. Palestine Solidarity Campaign:
http://act.palestinecampaign.org/petition/camerongaza [Accessed 29 April 2017].
Rabbani, Mouin. 2014. Israel Mows the Lawn. London Review of Books 36 (15) 31 July 2014.
REUT 2010. Building a Political Firewall. REUT Institute: http://reutinstitute.
org/Data/Uploads/PDFVer/20100310%20Delegitimacy%20Eng.pdf [Accessed 17
February 2017].
Sacks, Rabbi Jonathan [Online Video] 2017. Rabbi Sacks on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
campaign. YouTube. 27 February 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_pQfsi437A
[Accessed 29 April 2017].
Sanchez, Raf. 2016. Israel accuses Britain of secretly playing lead role in UN resolution on
settlements. The Telegraph. 28 December 2016.
Schleifer, Ron & Jessica Snapper. 2015. Advocating Propaganda: Viewpoints from Israel.
Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press.
Swarns, Rachel. The Racism Walkout. New York Times. 4 September 2001.
Troy, Gil 2009. Delegitimizing the Delegitimizers. Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. 14
November 2009: http://spme.org/spme-research/analysis/gil-troy- [Accessed 29 April 2017].
UK Government & Parliament 2017. Petition: Inquiry into Israel influencing British political
democracy: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/177407?reveal_response=yes [Accessed 13
February 2017].
Walker, Peter. 2016. UK adopts antisemitism definition to combat hate crime against Jews. The
Guardian. 12 December 2016.
WBII [website]. http://www.webelieveinisrael.org.uk [Accessed 6 February 2017].
WBII [Online Video] 2015. Winning the Communications Battle for Israel:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmVpT9oIwwc&feature=youtu.be [Accessed 21 February
2017].
White, Ben. 2010. Behind Brand Israel. Ben White [website] 23 February 2010:
https://benwhite.org.uk/ [Accessed 29 April 2017].
Wistrich, Robert. 1994. Antisemitism: the Longest Hatred. New York: Pantheon.

======================================================================

https://ijv.org.uk/2013/01/27/david-ward-and-the-impact-of-the-holocaust/
Jane Jackman

January 28, 2013 at 11:07 am

Thank you ‘happyhenry’ for this interesting and for me enlightening observation. I’m not Jewish but I do appreciate what you’re saying. However, I suggest your argument falls too easily into the well-worn defence: ‘it’s only the Jews who get treated like this’, and ‘what about the other human rights abusers?’ In other words, if I’m understand you aright, you’re saying that David Ward’s argument is anti-Semitic on grounds that Israel is singled out for criticism, an argument that rings hollow, relying primarily on the perception of Jews as perpetual victims. Also, just because we notice the abuses going on in Israel-Palestine, it doesn’t automatically follow that (because we’re non-Jewish) we don’t also object to what’s going on elsewhere. To the contrary, you’ll probably find that many of those raising their voices over Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians are similarly engaged with combating other abuses. The difference is that when they do, they don’t tend to be accused of being anti-African/Rwanda/Nigerian…etc. Someone has said (I think it was Michael Neumann) that when people make this argument, they don’t mean they wish people would care as much about the other victims, but that they would care less about the Palestinians.
Further to this though, it can’t be ignored that in any case, the state Israel singles itself out as an ‘exceptional nation’, which can flout international law with impunity. In one sense, Israel certainly is exceptional, or at least unique, having emerged as a settler-colonial state at a time of global decolonisation (what the late Tony Judt calls ‘the twilight of the continental empires’) when driving out an indigenous population and settling another was beginning to be outlawed. Judt puts it well:
‘The problem with Israel, in short, is not – as is sometimes suggested – that it is a European “enclave” in the Arab world; but rather that it arrived too late. It has imported a characteristically late-nineteenth century separatist project into a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a “Jewish state” – a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded – is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism.’
Actually, contra Judt, I think the fact that it is also an outpost of Europe is relevant. We do expect more from a people whose roots are geographically and culturally similar to our own, and who choose to be identified with Europe in many ways – why else would it enter the European Song Contest?! We do expect a nation that relies on American and European money to adopt certain norms and adhere to human rights law…to end its occupation. Is it really any wonder that in witnessing the increasingly brutal oppression of the Palestinians, we Europeans recognise actions reminiscent of the oppression meted out on the Jews in wartime Germany? Instead of (over)reacting to people like David Ward, who may need to learn a thing or two about Jewish sensibilities, perhaps we’d do better trying to show Jewish Israelis what is being done in their name – because I believe many are kept in the dark about this – and by implication what is being done (whether they like it or not) in the name of Jews worldwide. And that really is dangerous. I thought that’s what IJV was all about…?
Jane Jackman

January 29, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for the discussion happyhenry but I’m still not convinced that what David Ward said should be interpreted as you suggest… that ‘Jews should be better people because of the Holocaust’. I don’t think he meant that at all. As I understand it, he meant that ‘because the Jews suffered the horrors of the Holocaust, one would think they would choose to avoid inflicting suffering on others…because they (of all people) know what it’s like.’ That doesn’t mean they should be better people because of the atrocity they suffered; it simply means we would expect them to act more justly than their tormenters did. If you were beaten up by a street gang because say they didn’t like the way you look/talk etc, I’d expect you to be traumatised. But I’d trust you wouldn’t go out and beat someone else up and take their property, then expect the community or magistrates to accept your behaviour (albeit understandable) as reasonable. Of course, we all realise Israel isn’t perpetrating a holocaust in Palestine – nobody is suggesting that – but the expropriation and occupation of Palestinian land bears certain hallmarks that unmistakably resonate with the lead-up to the Shoah eg exclusion and humiliation, walling in, confiscation of land and property, impoverishment, restrictions of movement and destruction of livelihoods. Maybe the problem begins with the way we use the word ‘Holocaust’ as a catch-all for the suppression of Jews in Nazi Germany to pave the way for the Shoah.
Anyway, since David Ward uttered those words, we have another problem to think about…the Times cartoon…


======================================================

Glasgow University publishes antisemitic conspiracy theory

December 11, 2020
David CollierGlasgow University is ranked as a top UK university. The University is a member of the Russell Group. It runs a platform called esharp which is an ‘international online journal for postgraduate research.’ The University is very proud of the outlet. It states that all the paper are ‘double blind peer reviewed’. The university claims that the ‘rigorous and constructive process is designed to enhance the worth of postgraduate and postdoctoral work.’

A paper on the ‘Israel lobby’ appeared in issue 25 volume 1 (June 2017). It was written by Jane Jackman, an academic product of the universities of Durham and Exeter. There isn’t much to be found about Jackman online. She spoke at events in Exeter and SOAS and was an active member of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES).  In 2017 Jackman was being supervised by Willaim Gallois at Exeter. Unsurprisingly, the conspiracy theorist and ‘liar’ Ilan Pappe was a co-supervisor.

There is almost no sign of public activity from Jackman on social media. There is an inactive Twitter account in her name, which only follows accounts linked to Israeli advocacy or the fight against antisemitism. Given her academic focus on the ‘Israel lobby’, it is a safe bet to assume it is hers. She did spend some considerable time commenting on blogs and articles, including mine.

Glasgow University and the Jackman paper

Jackman’s paper was titled ‘Advocating Occupation: Outsourcing Zionist Propaganda in the UK‘. The key thrust of the argument is that people like myself (I feature prominently) have been recruited by Israel to spread disinformation. I have studied the entire article. My key questions would be –

  • How did Glasgow University ever permit this to appear in their journal?
  • How is it possible that this was peer reviewed?

The paper isn’t just laden with conspiracy, antisemitism and errors – much of the time the reference material does not even support what the article is suggesting. The work is beyond shoddy. Jackman makes unsupportable outlandish statements, that are far more fitting for gutter press journalism such as the Independent than an academic journal. The paper frequently contradicts its own logic. This is in no way an academic piece of work. It should be hung on the walls at Glasgow university as a reminder of the shame that they ever allowed this to be published. The only justification for ‘peer reviewers’ to have accepted this piece is that they agreed with its content and wanted it published. The entire process is rife with heavy antisemitism. Who were the editors that sat around a table and accepted this submission?

The shame of Glasgow University

The paper is so bad and the errors so numerous, that it would need a book to address them all. I did not want to burden this blog with a long rebuttal, so I created a simple PDF that highlights *some* of the *academic* issues I found with this shoddy piece of work. You can download the PDF and see for yourself. However bad you think it could be – it is worse. Unforgivably, Jackman even refers to ‘the infamous Jenin massacre‘:

glasgow jenin

Any student of the conflict knows that there was no massacre in Jenin and the misreporting of the incident in 2002 swiftly brought shame to much of the British press. Which academic outlet in the world today supports the notion that there was a massacre in Jenin in 2002 and how is an outrageously unreferenced (unsupported) statement such as this acceptable in a peer reviewed article?

How is it possible that this was ‘peer reviewed’? Are the ‘peers’ all this unprofessional? The entire piece describes how British Jews are directed (and funded) by Israel to manipulate opinion and lie to the British public. How was antisemitic conspiracy ever published and uploaded on the Glasgow University website? Glasgow University – shame, shame, shame!

Once published

Glasgow University makes a great show of talking up the professionalism of their esharp platform. Which means this article is used to support antisemitic conspiracy in academic circles. The article has an ‘.ac.uk’ website address. It is available on ‘Google Scholar’. How is this not Glasgow University’s fault?

Once green-lighted by Glasgow University, the paper can be referenced by others who assume it has passed through some type of rigorous peer review. For example it appears as a reference in the International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives Vol. 17, No. 1, 2018, pp. 7-2. In an paper written by Lou Dear, who ‘coincidentally’ has a PhD from Glasgow University. How is a Russell Group University awarding PhD’s to ‘academics’ that can read Jackman’s article and consider it worthy of reference. How?

The paper was presented at the BRISMES annual conference. BRISMES is the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies. The Vice-Chair is Nicola Pratt from Warwick University, an anti-Israel academic with whom readers of this research should be familiar. This is evidence of the enormity and dangers of the problem. Once you let unprofessional, sloppy, bias enter academia – other academics follow suit. Each climbing on the shoulder of the one before them. They create a network and spread out like a cancer. In the end, truth becomes lost.

A long road back

For so long we ignored what was happening on campus or casually dismissed it as irrelevant. We only woke up after antisemitism had become normative. It is astonishing that this type of antisemitic discourse was not immediately identified. If Jackman had been writing about any other minority group, this paper would have immediately been rejected as blatantly racist. Instead Jackman finds herself published in a postgraduate journal and proudly hosted on university websites. This is also our fault for being so passive for so long. It took the advent of Corbyn to wake most our community up and it is going to be a long struggle to reclaim the lost ground.

Please contact the Principal of Glasgow University Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli  (principal@glasgow.ac.uk). Ask him how the University ever felt this paper was worthy of academic publication. Make sure you attach the PDF.

If you are not satisfied with his response you should contact the Scottish Ombudsman.


===================================================

The Gaza Strip: History, Future and New Directions for Research
It has been almost eight years since Israel’s military blockade of the Gaza Strip began in mid-2007. During this time, repeated aerial and ground invasions have killed thousands of Palestinians – including over 2100 people in the latest onslaught of July/August 2014. These assaults, and the ongoing closure of the Strip, have generated a humanitarian disaster on a scale unprecedented since Israel’s occupation began in 1967. Nonetheless, despite these enormous difficulties, Gaza remains an inseparable part of Palestine.
Saturday 31 October 2015
9.00 Registration
9.30 – 9.40 Welcoming Remarks (Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre)
Adam Hanieh, SOAS
9.40 – 10.00 Keynote Speaker (Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre)
Sara Roy, Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University
10.00 – 12.00 Panel Sessions 1 & 2
Panel 1: Food and Health (Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre)
‘We Didn’t Want to Hear the Word Calories’: Rethinking Food Security, Food Power, and Food Sovereignty – Lessons from the Gaza Closure
Aeyal Gross, Tel Aviv University/SOAS and Tamar Feldman, Assiciation for Civil Rights Israel
How Does Israeli Settler Colonialism Subjugate Palestinians? A Closer Look at
Starvation as a Tool of Dispossession
Hanine Hassan, Columbia University
Rights not Privileges—The Human Right to Water and the Politics of Access under
Occupation: Water Access and Water Quality in the Gaza Strip
Carly Krakow, New York University
Panel 2: Hidden Aggression against Gaza (MBI Al Jaber Seminar Room)
Political Economy of Siege and War
Toufic Haddad, SOAS PhD Graduate
Networking the Occupation: How Israel ‘Mows the Lawn’ in Gaza and Gets Away With It
Jane Jackman, Exeter University
Funding Gaza’s Rehabilitation: Can the Donors be Trusted?
Jeremy Wildeman, Exeter University
12.00 – 13.00 Lunch (Staff Common Room – SOAS Main Building)
13.00 – 15.00 Panel Session 3
Panel 3: Representations and Contestations of Gaza (Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre)
Proposals on Legal Harmonisation between Gaza and the West Bank
Mia Swart, University of Johanesburg
Unmapping the Gaza Strip: Towards a Deterritorializing Anthropology of Palestine (and Self-Determination)
Hadeel Assali, Columbia University
The Palestinian Ruin as an Israeli Architectural Project
Léopold Lambert, The Funambulist Magazine
The Armature of Sumud: Gaza’s Networks of Resilience
Bruce Stanley, Richmond University
15.00 – 15.30 Break
15.30 – 17.30 Panel Sessions 4 & 5
Panel 4: Media and Cultural Production (Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre)
Visual Arts in Gaza : a New Form of Resistance?
Marion Slitine, EHESS (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences) in Paris
Conditions of (Im)possibility: Echoes of Van Gogh’s Shoes in Modern Palestinian Art
Ziad Suidan
In the Shadow of the ‘Other’: The British Broadsheets’ Coverage of the First Gaza War
David Kaposi
BICOM’s Narrative Battle: the Fight for British Public Opinion during Operation Protective Edge
Loreley Hahn Herrera, SOAS
Panel 5: Politics Old and New (MBI Al Jaber Seminar Room)
Social Structures and Factional Politics in Gaza
Yaser Alashqar, Trinity College Dublin
Hamas Crisis: Resistance, Governance and Transformation (2006-2015)
Ibrahim Natil, University College Dublin (UCD)
Gaza Revisited: New Readings in the Social and Political History of Gaza
Jehad Abusalim, New York University
18.00 – 20.00 Post-Conference Public Panel Discussion (Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre)
Gaza: Strangulation and Resilience
The Gaza Strip came under Israeli occupation 48 years ago, in 1967. It has been the target of several Israeli wars of increasing violence, the latest — in the summer of 2014 — being the most destructive of all. Three renowned experts on Gaza will assess the Strip’s recent history and its present political, social and economic conditions, and discuss its future.
Ghazi Sourani, Palestinian National Council and Al-Aqsa University
Jean-Pierre Filiu, Sciences-Po and the Paris School of International Affairs
Sara Roy, Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University

2 thoughts on “UK Scholarly Journal Apologizes for anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Article

  1. If Jackman studied under Ilan Pappe, this alone raises flags. Many people don’t know what to think about Pappe. Even Israel-supporters may assume he is merely “biased.”

    It’s well beyond that. His breakout book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” was a work of utter and complete mendacity, yet its narrative has won the day. This video about the book will leave you aghast and sickened.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s