Anti-occupation group Na’amod have claimed they are opening a “conversation on anti-Palestinian racism” within the UK Jewish community after publishing a series of testimonies that are alleged to shed light on the scale of the problem.
Among a series of 18 personal testimonies from young members of the community, is a claim that a peaceful pro-Palestine protest at Bristol University was disrupted by a group of students hailing from north west London who “stormed the peaceful protest, sporting large Israeli flags as they frantically ran through the crowds of protestors.”
A further testimony includes a claim that pointing out the appalling treatment of LGBTQ+ people in Gaza by Hamas to people holding “Queers For Palestine” banners is “a deeply racist idea — and one that often goes unchallenged in our community.”
In a new campaign launched on Thursday, Na’amod: British Jews Against Occupation said they were highlighting claims of widespread anti-Palestinian racism in the community following experiences “at youth camps, in conversations with family, on holiday in Israel.”
They said the testimonies, some of which included video messages from the participants, would “demonstrate how discussions on the occupation are brought back to common misconceptions about Palestinians.”
The anonymous testimony number 9 was from a former Bristol University student who said they “felt angered at the injustice and ashamed of the actions of my community” in relation to claims of anti Palestinian racism.
They wrote:” The university’s Friends of Palestine / PalSoc (Palestine Society) was holding a peaceful protest condemning the invitation of a high profile Israeli diplomat to speak at the university.
“The diplomat was someone who publicly endorsed the occupation and breaking of international/human rights laws.
“Protesters were marching together through the streets, when some boys stormed the peaceful protest, sporting large Israeli flags as they frantically ran through the crowds of protestors. What was intended as a peaceful march to promote solidarity and Palestinian human rights had turned into a toxic environment of hatred.”
The writer said they had “known some of those boys personally from when I grew up in North-West London.”
They added:” I didn’t just feel saddened by the act of anti-Palestinian racism that took place that day, but additionally felt a deep sense of embarrassment.”
A further testimony recalled a lecture allegedly given in Israel explaining the Palestine issue to a gathering of Jewish youth movements.
It is claimed the lecturer’s response to photographs of American protesters holding “Queers For Palestine” banners was to display ” graphic photos of LGBTQ+ people in Gaza being killed for their sexuality by the Hamas authorities. ”
The testimony adds the lecturer’s “intention was clearly to make the point that LGBTQ+ people shouldn’t be pro-Palestine and rather should be pro-Israel, though of course he didn’t mention that LGBTQ+ people in Israel don’t have equal rights…
“The idea that the Palestinian people don’t deserve freedom, and instead deserve to live under blockade and occupation, because the Hamas regime in Gaza is anti-LGBTQ+, is a deeply racist idea — and one that often goes unchallenged in our community.”
Another account suggests there are “overt examples of anti-Palestinian racism in the wider British Jewish Community” including “the occasional outbursts of certain members of the Board of Deputies to come face to face with naked bigotry.”
Other examples detail alleged racist responses to the Palestinians, while another testimony from former JFS pupil “Josh” says teaching around Israel at the school meant that “Palestinians were only referenced as an obstacle, a safety threat and a thorn in the side of Jewish freedom and safety.”
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