UK university cancels ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ event over anti-Semitism
Citing the British government’s adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism that includes exaggerated criticism of Israel, a university in Britain calls off an event marking “Israel Apartheid Week.”
According to a report on the Jewish Chronicle news site, the University of Central Lancaster event was meant to feature Ben White, a prominent anti-Israel activist, and pro-Palestinian academics.
A university spokesman quoted in the report says the session, titled “Debunking Misconceptions on Palestine,” was canceled because it contravened the government’s new definition of anti-Semitism and was thus “unlawful.”
“The UK government has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s new definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism,” the spokesperson is quoted as saying. “We believe the proposed talk contravenes the new definition and furthermore breaches university protocols for such events, where we require assurances of a balanced view or a panel of speakers representing all interests.”
The British government in December adopted the relatively broad definition of anti-Semitism first put forward in May at a conference of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which is based in Berlin.
According to that definition, anti-Semitism includes “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
It also says anti-Semitism includes “using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing
Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis” and “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
Secretary of State John Kerry with President Barack Obama. Photo: White House.
JNS.org – The timing of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s so-called farewell speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seemed to stem largely from “personal animosity” between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, experts said.u
“It’s unclear why the Obama administration thought this would be a good time for such a speech,” Mideast expert Oren Kessler, the deputy director for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS.org.
Kerry’s speech came just days after one of the lowest points in US-Israel relations in decades, when the Obama administration abstained from a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement policy. This broke from the longstanding American policy of vetoing one-sided UN measures targeting Israel.
Those who have the healthy habit of working out at a gym several times a week will soon be complaining…
“Like that abstention, Kerry’s address reflects this administration’s tendency to place posturing over policy on critical Middle East issues,” said Kessler, who said that the speech indicated Obama’s “apparent desire to land a final blow before leaving office.”
At the same time, questions have arisen over why the speech was delivered by the secretary of state rather than Obama himself, like former presidents might have done.
Kessler speculated that Obama may have wanted to distance himself from the speech in order to avoid tarnishing his legacy on Israel.
“If that was the intention, it’s unlikely to bear fruit, as it’s clear to all that this Security Council abstention, and Kerry’s speech, are expressions of the President’s own views,” said Kessler.
“Kerry indicated in the speech that he is concerned by some remarks on Israel coming from the circle of President-elect Donald Trump,” Kessler said. “Kerry apparently wanted to put a UN Security Council resolution on the books before Trump enters office, and before his administration makes moves on Israel that the current administration deems harmful to the prospect for peace.”
“It’s ironic that Kerry said at the start of his remarks that settlements are not ‘the whole or even the primary cause of the conflict,’ and then proceeded to speak for over an hour, mainly on the settlements,” Kessler noted.
Referring to Judea and Samaria as “Palestinian territory,” Kerry warned in his speech that “the status quo is leading toward one state and perpetual occupation,” referring to Israel’s continued settlement construction. “The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme element,” said Kerry.
Indeed, within his 72-minute speech Kerry said the words “settlements” or “settlers” 62 times, while only mentioning “terror” or “terrorism” 14 times, and “Palestinian terror” not at all.
Further, Kerry used the term “settlements” in a general sense, failing to draw a distinction between the Jewish holy sites, well-established Jewish neighborhoods in the middle of densely populated Jewish areas and remote outposts.
Even British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose government voted in favor of the Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, criticized Kerry for disproportionately focusing on settlements in his speech.
“We do not believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is so deeply complex,” a spokesman for May said on Thursday.
Longstanding US policy has been to describe as “unhelpful” any Israeli settlement building beyond the 1967 lines — territorial parameters encompassing the holy sites in eastern Jerusalem, including the Western Wall. The Oslo Agreements of 1993, however, which are the current basis for peace talks between Israel and the Arabs, intentionally make no reference to “settlements” or any requirement that Israel cease building them.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration has been almost obsessively focused, experts say, on any building by Israel beyond the 1967 lines — regardless of the location — during the last several years.
Shortly after taking office, President Obama pressured Israel to introduce a moratorium on settlement construction across the 1967 lines, even in dense Jewish neighborhoods, in order to spur Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu obliged, issuing a 10-month halt on construction in 2010 that ended in no meaningful negotiations.
Additionally, experts note that during the Obama years, the President has remained silent on the illegal Palestinian construction that has boomed in the West Bank.
“Secretary Kerry put Israeli construction under a microscope, but made no mention of vast Palestinian construction throughout the West Bank,” Alex Safian, associate director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), told JNS.org. “Is this because the Administration considers the West Bank to be exclusively Palestinian? If so, this is another break with the longstanding US position that borders are a final status issue that must be decided in direct negotiations between the parties.”
Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, told JNS.org regarding Kerry’s heavy focus on Israeli settlements, “The laser-like international focus — now including the US government — on Jewish residences on the West Bank, ignoring so many larger and more egregious problems (such as the Turks in Cyprus or the Chinese in Tibet) always has one main reason: The deep-seated belief in ‘linkage:’ the notion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the key to problems racking the entire Middle East. Once one believes that absurdity, it makes perfect sense to obsess over the building of a new verandah.”
Along the same lines, Kessler believes that the Obama Administration’s “obsession” with settlements “stems from both a double standard — good behavior is expected from Israel, but not so much from the Palestinians — and the low-hanging fruit effect [that] settlements are, for some reason, deemed a more manageable problem than, say, Palestinian intransigence,” he said.
Within the Arab world, there has been praise for the address.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judah called Kerry’s speech “impartial” and “well laid out” on Twitter. Similarly, in a statement issued through its official state news agency, Saudi Arabia said it “welcomed the proposals” by Kerry, adding that they were in accordance “with the majority of the resolutions of international legality and most of the elements of the Arab Peace Initiative.” Official statements by Qatar and Egypt echoed that of Saudi Arabia.
“Arab observers know that the Obama administration has just a few weeks left, and they know President-elect Trump will almost certainly take a more Israel-friendly approach than his predecessor,” Kessler said.
With only a few weeks left in Obama’s presidency, Kessler called it “remarkable that Secretary Kerry and President Obama would leave this as the cap on their Israel legacy, given the eight years of acrimony between Obama and Netanyahu and the fact that Washington pushed through an Iran deal that Jerusalem vehemently opposed.”
President-elect Trump, meanwhile, has made it clear that things will change come inauguration day.
“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore. The beginning o the end was the horrible Iran deal, now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” he tweeted.
As such, the parting shots by Obama and Kerry likely means that Trump will need to do little to appear as a strong friend of Israel.
“More than anything, this Security Council abstention and Kerry’s address are a gift to Donald Trump,” Kessler told JNS.org. “By simply pursuing standard US policy, namely vetoing biased resolutions at the UN and refraining from excessive public criticism of Israel, he can appear to be a steadfast friend of the Jewish State by hardly doing a thing.”
Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei urged Muslims to unite, stressing that the Islamic unity is the only solution to extricate Muslims from their sufferings which are being caused by the US and the Zionists.
“Should we unite and proceed toward Islamic goals in a united manner, then the US and the malignant, nefarious Zionist nexus can no longer hold nations in their clutches,” he said on Saturday on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
The Leader was addressing a number of state officials and diplomatic representatives of Muslim countries as well as participants at an international unity conference in Tehran.
“Today, the Muslim world is facing great tribulations, the way out of which is Islamic unity,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
“Today, Muslim killings are taking place from Myanmar to Africa; some are being killed at the hands of Boko Haram, others by Buddhists.”
“Today, there are two volitions at contrast with each other in the region: The will for unity and the will for schism. Should unity transpire, the situation will not be as it is today and Muslims will earn esteem.”
Imam Khamenei said the British version of Shia Islam and the American version of Sunni Islam, which pit Muslims against one another, are “two blades of the same pair of scissors.”
The British policy of “divide and rule” is seriously being pursued by the enemies of Islam, the Leader said.
Imam Khamenei said worldwide Muslim unity, the most important type of readiness needed by the Muslim world, would abort the conspiracy to consign the issue of Palestine to oblivion.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)
Britain’s top court hears case that could delay European Union exit
Source: AFP | December 6, 2016, Tuesday | PRINT EDITION
A man waiting to enter the public gallery waves a European Union flag outside the Supreme Court in central London yesterday ahead of a challenge against a court ruling that the UK government requires parliamentary approval to start the process of leaving the European Union. — Reuters
BRITAIN’S Supreme Court yesterday began a historic hearing to decide whether parliament has to approve the government’s Brexit negotiations, in a highly charged case that could delay the country’s EU exit.
For the first time, all 11 Supreme Court judges convened to hear a challenge by the government against a ruling that Prime Minister Theresa May must seek lawmakers’ approval before starting the process to leave the European Union.
The High Court ruled last month that the government did not have the executive power alone to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, formally starting exit talks which could take two years.
The decision enraged Brexit supporters and some newspapers who accused judges of thwarting the will of the 52 percent who voted “Leave” in the June 23 referendum.
The vote for Britain to become the first country to leave the 28-nation bloc sent shockwaves across the world and emboldened populists in Europe and the United States.
Supreme Court President David Neuberger said people involved in the case had received threats and abuse and stressed that the judges would rule without any political bias after criticism from Brexit backers.
A parliamentary vote on Article 50 could open the door to pro-EU lawmakers delaying or softening Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.
Neuberger said the judges were “aware of the strong feelings” surrounding Brexit but “those wider political questions are not the subject of this appeal.”
He told the court: “This appeal is concerned with legal issues, and, as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially, and to decide the case according to the law. That is what we shall do.”
He said some parties involved in the case had received threats of “serious violence and unpleasant abuse,” warning that there were “legal powers” to deal with such threats.
Attorney General Jeremy Wright, the government’s chief legal adviser, outlined the government’s case at the start of the four-day, live-broadcast hearing, with a judgment expected in January.
In his opening statement, he said there was a “universal expectation” that the government would implement the referendum result.
He argued that the government had constitutional authority over foreign affairs, including the right to withdraw from treaties, under so-called “royal prerogative powers.”
The royal prerogative is “not an ancient relic but a contemporary necessity,” he said.
If it loses, the government is expected to introduce a short bill — reportedly comprising just three lines of text — which it will then seek to push rapidly through parliament to authorize the triggering of Article 50.
May, who became prime minister after the Brexit vote, has insisted a parliamentary vote on the legislation would not disrupt her plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.
However, the opposition Labour Party delivered a blow to the government on Saturday when it announced it would seek to amend any bill, potentially delaying the process.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the amendment would ensure Britain retains access to the European single market and protect workers’ and environmental rights.
May faces a further potential complication from representatives of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who will argue Article 50 also needs to be approved by the UK’s devolved parliaments.
High Court decision has thrown a wrench in the gears of Theresa May’s government
The United Kingdom’s High Court ruled on Thursday the British government must receive approval from parliament to begin the process of withdrawal from the European Union, a move that could significantly disrupt the progress of so-called ‘Brexit.’
The ruling comes as a bitter blow to the government of Prime Minister Theresa May, which had argued the triggering of the mechanism that puts Brexit into motion did not need to be approved by lawmakers. Lawyers for the government will now appeal the ruling in the U.K.’s Supreme Court.
Here’s a quick guide to the biggest obstacle yet placed in Brexit’s path:
Does this mean Brexit is doomed?
No. The ruling merely makes it harder for the government to trigger ‘Article 50,’ the section of the relevant E.U. treaty that allows for countries to leave the 28-nation bloc. May said in October that the government would notify the E.U. of Article 50 before the end of March next year, formally starting a two-year process of leaving. This ruling throws that timeline into doubt, and threatens to undermine May’s negotiating position with E.U. leaders over the terms of departure.
What was the nature of the legal challenge?
The British government had argued that Article 50 could be triggered under the so-called “royal prerogative,” by which it has exercised executive power on issues of foreign policy for centuries.
Lawyers for the anti-Brexit campaigners who brought the case argued that, since withdrawing from the E.U. would affect their domestic legal rights, the royal prerogative should not apply, and lawmakers in parliament should be asked for approval.
The court sided with the plaintiffs, concluding that the government “does not have power under the Crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 of the [E.U. treaty] for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union.”
So now MP’s will get to vote on Brexit?
Yes, if the ruling survives the appeal process. The Supreme Court will rule on the government’s appeal in early December. If that fails, the government could escalate its appeal to the European Court of Justice—but that would be a supremely ironic move, given Britain is currently seeking to escape its jurisdiction. If the Supreme Court ruling goes against the government, May will face enormous pressure to drop the challenge and give parliament a vote.
But the public has now spoken, and MPs will be under pressure to reflect the will of their constituents as opposed to what they personally feel about Brexit. This is especially the case for the opposition Labour Party, whose constituencies voted 70-30 to leave the European Union in spite of the party’s near-unanimous support for ‘Remain.’
Lawmakers could, however, use a requirement for a vote to pressure the government to seek a “softer” Brexit—maintaining access to the European single market, for example, or even allowing free movement across borders. This would certainly undermine the position of the Conservative government, which wants a clean, sharp break from the economic and political bloc.
What’s the reaction been like to the ruling?
The government issued a terse statement saying it would appeal the ruling. Elsewhere, it has provoked sharply different reactions from ‘Remainers’ and ‘Leavers.’ Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, warned on Twitter the ruling would open the door to a “betrayal” of the popular vote:
Trump: Clinton’s foreign policy plan would start WW-3
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said his rival Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy plan in Syria would trigger World War Three.
He also said the US should focus on defeating so-called Islamic State (IS) rather than removing Syria’s president.
Mrs Clinton has proposed a no-fly zone over Syria. The top US military chief has said that could spell conflict with Russian jets in the region.
The Clinton campaign accused Mr Trump of “playing to Americans’ fears”.
Mr Trump also attacked Republicans for not uniting behind his candidacy.
“If we had party unity, we couldn’t lose this election to Hillary Clinton,” he told Reuters news agency at Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami, Florida.
The Republican standard-bearer struck an apocalyptic tone when criticizing his Democratic rival’s plan to control Syrian air space.
“You’re going to end up in World War Three over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton,” Mr Trump said.
“You’re not fighting Syria any more, you’re fighting Syria, Russia and Iran, all right?
“Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk.”
Mr Trump suggested there should be a refocus away from the long-held US position of trying to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying: “What we should do is focus on IS. We should not be focusing on Syria.”
He also suggested Mrs Clinton would be unable to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin after her sharp criticism of him.
Mr Trump questioned “how she is going to go back and negotiate with this man who she has made to be so evil” if she is elected president on 8 November.
The Clinton campaign dismissed the criticism, saying both Republican and Democratic national security experts have denounced Mr Trump as unfit to be commander-in-chief.
“Once again, he is parroting Putin’s talking points and playing to Americans’ fears, all while refusing to lay out any plans of his own for defeating ISIS or alleviating humanitarian suffering in Syria,” Clinton spokesman Jesse Lehrich said in a statement.
‘Kill a lot of Syrians’
Mr Trump’s warning of confrontation with Russia echoes concerns raised last month at a congressional hearing by the highest-ranking military officer in the US armed forces.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine Gen Joseph Dunford told lawmakers a “no-fly zone” in Syria could spell war with Russia.
“Right now, senator, for us to control all of the airspace in Syria it would require us to go to war, against Syria and Russia,” Gen Dunford told the Senate Arms Services Committee.
“That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make.”
At the final presidential debate in Nevada on 20 October, Mrs Clinton outlined her support for the measure.
“A no-fly zone can save lives and hasten the end of the conflict,” she said on stage.
But in a 2013 speech to Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, Mrs Clinton said establishing a no-fly zone would “kill a lot of Syrians”, according to a transcript disclosed by Wikileaks.
The civilian death toll would result from the US needing to take out Syrian air defenses, which are located in populous areas.
Her policy is not only a disagreement with President Barack Obama, but would be a significant escalation of US involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Mr Trump’s comments come two weeks before election day and as his campaign grapples with a backlash over a string of accusers who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault.
The New York businessman, who is trailing Mrs Clinton in national polls, has railed against media and suggested members of the press were colluding to rig the election against him.
“The people are very angry with the leadership of this party, because this is an election that we will win 100% if we had support from the top,” he said. “I think we’re going to win it anyway.”
What happens next?
The two candidates spend the remaining 13 days of campaigning, criss-crossing the country in their bid to persuade undecided voters. Expect to see lots of appearances in battleground states such as Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania
Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday 8 November to decide who becomes the 45th president of the US
The new president will be inaugurated on 20 January 2017
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)
UK nations hold crucial Brexit talks
Source: Agencies | October 25, 2016, Tuesday | PRINT EDITION
THE leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales met British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday to discuss what part the three nations will play in the Brexit process, a thorny issue that risks triggering a constitutional crisis.
May proposes setting up a new committee to give the three devolved governments, which have varying degrees of autonomy from London, a formal avenue to express views on how Britain’s future relationship with the European Union should work.
“The country is facing a negotiation of tremendous importance and it is imperative that the devolved administrations play their part in making it work,” May said in a statement released before the meeting.
At stake is the three-century union between England, where a majority voted to leave the EU, and Scotland, where a majority voted to stay.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday she was seeking “meaningful input” into the decision-making structure and wants each of the United Kingdom’s four assemblies to get a vote on the proposed negotiating package.
Sturgeon has said her government is preparing for all possibilities, including independence from the UK, after Britain leaves the EU.
In Northern Ireland, which also voted to keep EU membership, there are fears that Brexit could undermine a 1998 peace deal and reinstate a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
Experts have warned of the risk of a constitutional crisis if May does not take into account the position of each of the UK’s four nations when conducting talks on the terms of Brexit.
“Imposing a Brexit settlement in the face of devolved opposition (while legally possible) would be a reckless strategy,” said the Institute for Government, an independent think-tank.
“Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland cannot be treated like any other lobby or interest group. Equally, the devolved governments will have to accept that Westminster will have the final say,” it said in a report.
The new committee proposed by May would be chaired by Brexit minister David Davis and include representatives from the three devolved governments. May proposes that it should meet by the end of November and at least once more before Christmas.
Sturgeon has said Scotland wants to keep as many of the advantages of membership of the EU’s single market as it can and is looking for a bespoke deal to do so.
(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News Paper)
China will be patient, UK’s May told
Source: Agencies | September 6, 2016, Tuesday | PRINT EDITION
PRESIDENT Xi Jinping told British Prime Minister Theresa May he was open to a bilateral trade agreement between the two countries, a British official told reporters at the G20.
“Xi said that they wanted to look at how we could strengthen our trading and economic relationship and that China was open to a bilateral trade arrangement with the UK,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
The official also said Xi told May that China would remain patient while her government gets to grips with decisions taken by her predecessor.
Since taking office, May has delayed a decision on whether to back a nuclear project at Hinkley Point that is being partly financed by the Chinese.
“He recognized the new government would need to take some time before reaching decisions on some agreements pushed by the last government. President Xi said that they had the patience to wait for a resolution on those issues.”
Asked whether that was a reference to Hinkley Point, the official said it was implicit that Xi was referencing decisions of that nature, but that Hinkley was not specifically mentioned.
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