Palestine Solidarity Campaign
What is the PSC?
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign claims on its website that it was created to “promote solidarity with the Palestinian people…to promote Palestinian civil society in the interests of democratic rights and social justice…in opposition to racism, including anti-Jewish prejudice”.
The PSC employs a liberal and democratic narrative to advocate its message, and portrays itself as an organisation committed to supporting human rights. We believe the reality to be very different. See for yourself.
The BBC describes the PSC as a ‘radical’ organisation noted for its support of terror groups. This website is the first of its kind to examine comprehensively the activities of the PSC and to highlight the moral disparities between the public rhetoric of the organisation and its links to supremacist organisations, promotion of racist and homophobic hate speech and the endemic culture of incitement to violence that we believe is institutionalised within the PSC.
By running a powerful network of groups across the country, the PSC regularly provides a platform to homophobic and racist speakers. One recent example detailed in this website is the radical hate preacher Raed Salah. When confronted with numerous examples of Salah’s bigotry, the PSC launched a campaign entitled “Justice for Raed Salah” – demonstrating that while the PSC’s narrative is cloaked in human rights discourse, it is more than happy to condone bigotry and hate speech that actively undermine the human rights of others.
The PSC’s support for racism and violence goes far beyond merely propagating the views of guest speakers; PSC members have repeatedly espoused virulently racist views – rhetoric almost identical to that encouraged by far-right organizations.
In December 2009, at a PSC event, one attendee named John Sullivan referred to Jews as “evil” and “parasites”. PSC member and Green Party candidate Pippa Bartolotti recently visited Syria and was photographed waving the swastika of the SSNP (Syrian Social Nationalist Party), a group which is so unapologetic about its Nazism and racist aims, that members greet one another with a Heil Hitler salute. This year at a PSC rally, protesters screamed “Khybar al Yahud”, which refers to the battle of Khybar in which thousands of Jews were massacred.
But the PSC’s bigotry is not confined merely to racism – the organisation is also accused of homophobia. In 2006, Outrage, an organization that campaigns for gay rights around the world, attended a PSC event at which they raised concerns about the systematic brutalization and murder of gay people in Gaza and the Disputed Territories. They were subsequently attacked en-masse by PSC members and the violence was condemned by noted gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
The failure of the PSC leadership to condemn the activities of its core members, while at the same time providing national platform for fascist ideologues such as Salah, is indicative of, at best, toleration of such ideas; and at worst, endorsement.
It is our opinion that the examples provided in this website demonstrate that the PSC is an extremist, racist organisation, which tolerates homophobia and other forms of illiberalism. Well-meaning organizations that collaborate with the PSC on the basis of a presumed mutual belief in human rights, democracy and peace, should be informed of the PSC’s true nature; all political and human rights organisations that wish to demonstrate probity should take steps to distance themselves from the PSC’s anti-peace and counter-cohesive message.
Who is Behind the PSC?
Founded in 1982, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) states that its purpose is to promote “peace and justice for the Palestinian people”. It claims a membership of around four and a half thousand members. The PSC is operated by an executive committee of twenty persons which maintains forty regional groups across England and Wales, and has independent groups in both Scotland and Ireland.
The Palestinian issue has long been an obsession of both the far-Left and far-Right. Inevitably, some collaboration between the two has occurred. The International Marxist Group claims it was the principal actor in the formation of the PSC. Additionally, activists from the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) were involved in the early stages of the PSC, and in the 1990s, the SWP had become a leading component of the organisation.
Former IMG and Socialist Action (SA) activists increased their presence with in the PSC in the late 1990s. Two members of the current PSC Executive, Betty Hunter and Bernard Regan, were IMG members. In addition, two of the four PSC employees have been active within the SA’s ranks.
The PSC engages in a great deal of political lobbying, and regularly appeals to both British and EU politicians. It manages a group of MPs who coordinate their activities and raise relevant issues in Parliament – working to bring those putatively responsible for “war crimes” to justice, lobbying government to ban the import of settlement goods, and demanding an end to Britain’s arms trade with Israel. The PSC also calls upon the EU to suspend its Association Agreements with Israel.
As mentioned, the PSC is not just present on the far-Left, but it has worked with individuals and groups that we believe to espouse fascist ideologies; including far-Right activist Paul Eisen, and groups such as the British Muslim Initiative and Friends of Al-Aqsa. Additionally, leading members of the PSC have been linked to political parties such as the Syrian pro-Nazi SSNP.
The Scottish PSC is less careful than its English counterpart to hide its true colours. One example among many is an article published by its chair, Mick Napier, after the terrorist attack on the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem in March 2008, in which critics argue that Napier vindicated the murder of the students and suggested Jews steal Palestinian organs – an invocation of the ancient European blood libel.
Holocaust Denial and Jewish Power Conspiracy
Ellie Merton, chair of Waltham Forest PSC, appears to have no qualms with open anti-Semitism. Merton is a strong supporter of the infamous anti-Jewish, pro-terror Ken O’Keefe and his ‘Road to Hope’ convoy, which was strongly supportive of the recently deposed government of Libyan dictator Gaddafi.
The website of Waltham Forest PSC recommends, and links to, the notorious Deir Yassin Remembered website, an organisation heavily criticised for its promotion of Holocaust denial.
Merton has claimed that the brutal murders in Norway by Anders Breivik were part of a conspiracy by the Israeli government.
Gill Kaffash is the former Secretary of the Camden branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Here are her comments to Iranian news agency IRNA about the Holocaust:
“There is no doubt that a great number of Jews along with other victims of the Nazi army were killed by Hitler. However, historical phenomena need to be further examined to uncover the truth. Therefore banning opposition to the theses termed as `invariable reality` is irrational.”
Paul Eisen has noted that while he was supporting Holocaust denial within the PSC, Kaffash provided ‘solidarity’, as noted in his essay, ‘My Life as a Holocaust Denier’.
Cliff Hanley is the former Chair and Secretary of Bristol PSC. His blog refers to the infamous Holocaust Denier Anthony Lawson and states that both 9/11 and Wikileaks are part of a Jewish conspiracy. Furthermore, he has sent messages to the Bristol PSC mailing list on how the ‘Jewish lobby works’.
Sammi Ibrahem was chair of the West Midlands PSC, and runs an anti-Jewish website called Shoah.org.uk. Ibrahem is not a Holocaust denier; rather, and far more shockingly, he supports the Nazi attempt to eradicate the Jewish people. Ibrahem has voiced his admiration for the Nazi regime and poured scorn on Jewish holocaust victims. Here, he laments the trials of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg:
“I bow my head in reverence to those who were judicially murdered at Nuremberg. They were the world’s martyrs, not villains. Not one of them would have been condemned to death in a fair trial – not one! They sacrificed an entire nation, and in the end themselves, to save Western civilization. They were defeated by thugs in robes and gangsters in uniform – and by the conspiracies hatched by shysters from the ghettos of Eastern Europe.”
The Scottish branch of the PSC offers a free book to all new members: Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People – a book whose central argument is that the Jewish people, as a single collectivity, do not exist. They recently supported Paul Donnachie, a student at St. Andrews University in Scotland, who was charged and found guilty of racially abusing a Jewish student. Despite the ruling, the SPSC continue to voice their support for Donnachie’s actions.
Norwich PSC had an article on its website that claimed that the function of the Holocaust Educational Trust was: “maintaining a culture of gentile guilt and Jewish victimhood in British schools.”
The Liverpool PSC website includes a page titled “The Power of Zionists“. The first item under this headline is this cartoon, showing a Jewish man with a hooked nose and a Star of David flag, ordering an American soldier to fight a war.
According to one report, in 2007 this sticker was distributed in the United States by the neo-Nazi group White Aryan Resistance (WAR), and may have actually been produced by them. It is still available for download from the WAR website on a page of extremely offensive antisemitic cartoons (under the heading, “Kikes“).
Liverpool PSC has also suggested that there are too many Jews in Parliament.
“Khybar, Khybar al-Yahud”
In 2011, a protest outside the Israeli embassy, partly organised by the PSC, had the crowds waving Hezbollah and Hamas flags – groups that have both declared their wish to eradicate the Jewish people from the face of the earth.
The crowds chanted ‘Khybar, Khybar al-Yahud’. Al-Yahud is Arabic for ‘the Jews’, and Khybar is in reference to the ancient slaughter of the Jewish tribe in Medina. In other words: Slaughter the Jews.
At 5 mins 20:
“Jews are parasites…evil…vindictive”
In December 2009, the PSC held an event in Bloomsbury. A number of activists turned up who espoused a far-right supremacist mindset. Captured on video, a man who identifies himself as John Sullivan (left) stated “Everybody knows what a nasty, unpleasant people Jewish people are in England…you are parasites…you’re cruel, unpleasant people…Jewish people, if you look through history are vindictive, probably evil…f*** off back to Israel.”
Support for Hamas
The PSC has openly and repeatedly made clear its support for Hamas. In October 2010, PSC representatives met with Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza, who has made deeply homophobic and anti-Semitic comments.
In January 2009, he called for the killing of Jewish children “all over the world” and in an interview published by Reuters on 28 October 2010, he attacked the West for supporting Israel, saying “you do not live like human beings. You do not [even] live like animals. You accept homosexuality”. On 29 July 2011 Zahar said “we are not going to accept Israel as the owner of one square centimetre because it is a fabricated state.”
The list of examples could go on and on. To make our point, let’s take a look at just one PSC branch, based in York, whose senior members include staff from the University of York.
In 2009, Andrew Collingwood, a PSC activist, published photos of a protest in which he was involved, including one of a placard that featured a witch with accentuated Jewish features, which posited that anti-Semitism is a made-up concept.
In response to criticisms from anti-racism groups, Collingwood, a well-known member of the infamous York branch of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign suggested that accusations of anti-Semitism were a result of political chicanery.
The former Chairman and current Secretary; of the same branch, Terry Gallogly, encouraged members of his mailing list to distort a poll in a Jewish newspaper discussing the problems of the violent English Defence League in order to paint British Jews as racists. Leading PSC activist Tony Greenstein applauded Gallogly for this attempted smear.
Gallogly, also a member of the national executive of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, was part responsible for a visit to the University of York by the infamous Aharon Cohen of the extremist sect Neturei Karta in 2007. The previous year, Cohen had stated that the Holocaust victims “deserved it”.
Furthermore, the previous chair, Stephen Leah, helped produce a report that promoted the writings of the Christian Far Right author Stephen Sizer, who has been condemned for his links to Holocaust deniers.
In 2004 a vigil was held at Clifford’s Tower to commemorate the terrible massacre of Jews in 1190. This was gatecrashed by PSC activists, who saw fit to exploit the massacre of more than 110 Jews with their own political agitprop.
Support for the Far-Right
“As soon as the scales fall from the eyes of international Jewry with regard to the racist and fascist ideology that is Zionism, the world will begin to emerge from the iron heel of war and brutality in the Middle East.”
Similarly, Edinburgh PSC chair Mike Napier has referenced a number of neo-Nazi websites in an article vindicating the murder of eight Jewish students.
Endorsement of the far-right and overt anti-semitism now appears commonplace within the PSC. Reading PSC member Anthony Gratrex recently wrote:
“You state that the jews do not control the media but that it is under self censorship. This is patently wrong and only a cursory glance using the internet will show that a majority of the media is Jewish owned or controlled. During the interview you use the expression “who pays the piper calls the tune” and that is precisely the problem when one considers who controls the international banking system.”
Infamous lunatic Gilad Atzmon is also a favourite of many PSC members. Atzmon claims that Fagin and Shylock accurately represent Jewish identity, the credit crunch was caused by the Jews, the Holocaust is a religion, and Hitler may be proved right about the Jews. These are some of his latest arguments, but he has been critical of what he sees as “Jewish” politics for quite some time now, envisaging a “Zio-Punch” causing the credit crunch, and a Jewish lobby in Germany that provoked the Nazis into fighting back.
In 2011, The PSC voted down a motion opposing Atzmon’s friends, far-right Holocaust deniers Paul Eisen and Israel Shamir.
Tony Gosling, resident far-Right lunatic (and homophobe) of Bristol PSC, believes that we shouldn’t doubt the authenticity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian forgery about Jews supposedly trying to take over the world (and used by the Nazis to justify their attempt to eradicate the Jewish people).
Gosling also believes the Bilderberg Group is a sinister attempt by Jews to run the world – an invocation of the most ancient ‘power-grabbing’ anti-semitic tropes.
Leading PSC member and Green Party candidate Pippa Bartolotti has been photographed with PSC memorabilia while holding the flag of the Syrian neo-Nazi group, the SSNP.
Run by fundamentalist Christians and founded in 1932, the same year that the Nazi party won 230 seats in the Reichstag, the SSNP is one of the oldest fascist parties in the Middle East, and – as The Atlantic has noted – the group pays frequent homage to the 1930s European Nazism:
“They greet their leaders with a Hitlerian salute; sing their Arabic anthem, “Greetings to You, Syria,” to the strains of “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”; and throng to the symbol of the red hurricane, a swastika in circular motion.
These are the hallmarks of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), the oldest terrorist organization in existence today and one of the most secret and deadly. Despite its long history of violence, Western security organs were recently taken by surprise when they learned that a well-camouflaged arm of the SSNP had succeeded in setting up a large terror network in Western Europe—complete with safe houses, weapons caches, and forged passports—and that it was the SSNP that had set off a series of deadly explosions in the heart of Paris, to gain the release of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah. The United States, too, has felt the effects of the SSNP. The explosion aboard a TWA flight nearing Athens in April of 1986, which cost the lives of four passengers—one of them an infant—has been traced to May Mansur, of Tripoli, a veteran member of the SSNP, who debarked at a previous stopover afterplacing a bomb under her seat.”
Stephen Sizer is a regular speaker at PSC events, most recently at the York and Reading branches. He went to Iran in 2006, where he joined hands with Zahra Mostafavi, the daughter of murderous dictator Ayatollah Khomeini.
By his own admission, Sizer was invited to Iran by Mostafavi. His tour was organised by the head of the NEDA Institute, Dr. Jawad Shabarf. The NEDA institute has previously called on the services of Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson to help organise the Iranian Holocaust denial conference.
Sizer endorses various anti-gay statements by conservative churchmen, and recommends the website of True Freedom Trust, an organisation which teaches that gay people should repress their sexuality and remain celibate for the rest of their lives.
Sizer and his church have endorsed the ‘Jerusalem Declaration’, a document produced by the 2008 Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which brought together Western and African hardline clerics fixated on homosexuality. GAFCON led to the formation of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), an organisation supported by ‘Stephen… [one of] our ordained pastors’.
The FCA produced a document entitled, Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today. This paper launched an attack on the sin of ‘innovation’ in Christianity (p.18) and on the usual suspects – ‘the forces of militant secularism and pluralism’ (p.3). It states that its objective is ‘bringing every aspect of our culture under the authority of Scripture’ (p.31). Being Faithful states that ’same-sex attractions’ are ‘an expression of disobedience to God and his good purposes for human beings’, that gay people have ‘made’ a ‘false identity’ for themselves ‘instead of accepting the identity given by God’, and that gay relationships are ‘distortions of God’s original intention’ which, ‘by ignoring God’s creational intention … continue the brokenness of relationships’ (pp.53-54). ‘Homosexual practice’, the FCA claim, ‘is offensive’ (p.62).
Sizer describes himself as an ‘active member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The PSC has never sought to distance itself from Sizer or condemned his views; in fact, they invited him to speak at the PSC’s 2011 conference.
Why does the PSC work with anti-gay Christian fundamentalists?
Tony Gosling, darling of the Bristol PSC, told the Muslim News he was “personally disgusted” by books that teach about homosexual relationships: “No way should kids be indoctrinated in this way. Anyone who says so is branded as homophobic which they are not; it’s the gay mafia in full swing.”
Peter Tatchell, the gay rights activist, has voiced his anger at the homophobia apparent in the PSC:
… members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) – are questioning the right of the queer activist group OutRage! to fight back against the officially-sanctioned persecution of queers in the Palestinian-controlled areas of Gaza and the West Bank.
According to the PSC, OutRage! is “attempting to defame” the Palestine solidarity movement and is “damaging the cause of solidarity with Palestinians”. In particular, it objected to OutRage! revealing how PSC officials and stewards had attempted to silence criticism of Palestinian homophobia.
But we also called for an end to the torture and murder of lesbians and gays by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Our placards additionally read, “Palestine: Stop persecuting queers”.
It was never our intention to disrupt the PSC rally or create a commotion. We had a small, low-key presence. Our aim was to raise awareness. We wanted to alert supporters of Palestine, in the hope they would help us pressure the Palestinian leadership to halt its oppression of queers.
What turned a minor presence into a major incident was the repressive response of the PSC organisers and stewards. They surrounded us, ordering us to the back of the demonstration. When we refused, they blocked out our placards with their own, obscuring our message. PSC officials also shouted us down, preventing us talking with journalists and other protesters who wanted to find out more about the suffering of queers in Palestine.
The PSC now denies this intimidation and censorship took place. But it was filmed by a Channel 4 documentary maker, Darren Lewey, and photographed by four professionals, including the respected left-wing and pro-Palestine photographer Paul Mattsson. They all corroborate OutRage!’s version of events.
In a bid to deflect criticism, the PSC has issued a statement saying it opposes homophobia. Fine words. But what has it actually done to challenge the violent homophobia of the PLO, Hamas and PA? I wrote to the PSC nine years ago, asking them to urge the PLO to stop killing queers. The PSC did nothing. I emailed the PSC office six weeks ago requesting dialogue. They never replied.
The PSC accuses OutRage! of damaging solidarity with the Palestinians. That’s right PSC, blame the people who defend the victims, and let the oppressors off the hook.
In addition to Tatchell’s experience, the PSC has a long history of supporting groups who preach an extreme hatred of homosexuals. Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the iERA are both extremist groups for whose speakers the PSC has provided a platform. Tzortzis believes homosexuality should be criminalised.
In early 2011, a Facebook page appeared calling for renewed violence in the Palestinian territories. The page contained the text: “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. The first two intifadas claimed thousands of Palestinian and Israeli lives, many of whom were murdered by terrorist attacks. The PSC joined the cacophony of extremist voices calling for a renewal of such ‘resistance’.
Following a great deal of support from pro-violence movements for a Third Intifada, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign helped organise a rally in favour. As if this rejection of the peace process and support for violent struggle is not terrifying enough to the non-partisan observer, there were recorded instances of chants referencing the slaughter of Jews and voicing support for Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist organisation.
At 5 mins 20 in the video below, the crowds chanted ‘Khybar, Khybar al-Yahud’ . al-Yahud is Arabic for ‘the Jews’, and Khybar is in reference to the ancient slaughter of the Jewish tribe in Medina. Although one protestor was arrested, none was charged for the organised screaming that encouraged the murder of the Jewish people.
Opposition to Peace
The PSC’s critics charge it with failing to be pro-Palestinian, and rather solely anti-Israel. Its obsession with Israel is well-documented, but does the PSC take steps to actively endanger peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict?
The PSC’s own website notes that it “works closely with trade unions and currently has seventeen unions affiliated – representing more than 80% of trade union members of the TUC – while a growing number of trade union branches and regions are affiliating to the campaign.” PSC chair Hugh Lanning is also the deputy chair of the Public Commercial Services Union.
Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC) ended its annual conference with a call on its affiliates to review any bilateral relations they might have with Israeli organisations.
According to an amendment proposed by the PCS civil service union, “Congress calls on all unions on the basis of this policy to review their bi-lateral relations with all Israeli organisations, including Histadrut.”
TULIP, a pro-peace organisation dedicated to bringing Israeli and Palestinian trade unions together noted with disappointment:
“Israel is being singled out, and the Histadrut is being isolated, because that is what the Iranian regime wants – and it using not only its proxies in Hamas and Hizbollah to do so, but its arm in the British trade union movement – the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The PSC has successfully pushed British unions to uncritically embrace the view of the rabidly anti-union dictators in Tehran regarding Israel and its trade unions.”
The PSC logo reflects a map of a greater Palestine with no room for an Israeli state at all. This, as Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has noted, implies a deliberate refusal of Israel’s right to exist. Some proponents of the PSC argue that although the speakers hosted by the group frequently call for Israel’s destruction, it does not reflect the wider aims of the organisation; however, to many observers, the refusal to adopt a logo indicative of peace suggests otherwise.
Given the evidence presented so far, some might argue that although the PSC appears to have few qualms linking themselves to both deeply illiberal and openly bigoted ideologues, at least they are working for peaceful resolution and the self-determination of the Palestinian people. Unfortunately, this appears to not be the case. By examining the PSC’s activities over the last ten years, we have concluded that the PSC subsists on reactionary thinking – its claim of probity clearly at odds with its apologism for violence and failure to demonstrate a genuine desire for peace.
The PSC does not differentiate between the land on which Israel was established in 1948 and the land gained in the defensive 1967 war. Israel proper is frequently described as “occupied territory.” This is hardly a progressive case for ending the conflict; in fact, it can be viewed as a deliberate legitimisation of violence and destruction.
Martial Kurtz, National Organiser for the PSC, has said, “It will be for the Palestinians to decide which way this is going. A one-state solution, as a bi-national democratic state, will indeed mean the end of an Israeli Jewish state, as it exists.”
The PSC website states that it is “in opposition to…[the] Zionist nature of the Israeli state”. There is a consummate hypocrisy in supporting the self-determination for one people while denying it for another. This is yet further suggestion that the PSC is not committed to peace.
The Israelis have accepted that the 950,000 Jews forced from their homes in Arab states from the 1940s onwards do not require any form of compensation, as few would wish to return. However, the return of Palestinian refugees who fled after the Arab states invaded Israel in 1948 is a key issue, and a driving force behind the emotional justification of pro-Palestinian activism.
It is understood by genuine advocates for peace on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides that a compromise will have to be found over the issue of refugees. The PSC, however, advocates for the Palestinians to have an absolute “right of return” to their homes, or their ancestors’ homes, abandoned on Israel’s creation in 1948. It is this sort of absolutism – this unwillingness to negotiate – that is overtly detrimental to the prospects of peace.
Once idealism sets in this strongly, truth itself is the usually the first to suffer. The outpourings, radicalism and obsessiveness of the PSC are an all clear example of this. For example, the PSC condemns Israel for “aggression against neighbouring states” but consistently fails to mention in its literature and events that Israel was attacked in 1948 (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria), 1967 (Egypt, Jordan and Syria) and 1973 (Egypt and Syria).
This suggests a deep level of irrationalism, justified by the blinding light of absolutist idealism. The notion of truth in the PSC’s employ is clearly considered superfluous; a deficiency shrouded from question with the invocation of emotional tales of victims from bloody conflict. In our opinion, this shameless demagoguery easily explains the PSC’s casual acceptance of extremist ideas.
Most leaders within the PSC openly reject the two-state solution, including Ghada Karmi, who seeks a UN resolution “exposing the inequity and dishonesty of the two-state solution”, and Dr. Ilan Pappe, a prominent ‘one-state solution’ proponent.