Around a hundred demonstrators turned up outside a hotel in Hendon where ex-Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was speaking to the Jewish National Fund, to protest against her involvement in the Israeli assault on Gaza which began almost a year ago, and to call for an intensified boycott of Israeli goods and a free Palestine. London, UK. 13/12/2009.
Around a hundred demonstrators turned up on Sunday morning, 13 December 2009, outside the hotel in Hendon where ex-Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was speaking to the Jewish National Fund to protest against her involvement in the Israeli assault on Gaza which began almost a year ago, and to call for an intensified boycott of Israeli goods and a free Palestine.
The protest was called by the Brent Palestine Solidarity Campaign and supported by others from across London. Those protesting included a number of Palestinians and Jews and Muslims, including the 'Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods' (J-BIG) whose banner read "It's Kosher to Boycott Israeli Goods', and there was also a banner for the 'International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.'
One demonstrator had a placard with the word 'GAZA' in red and the seasonal punning comment 'Chanukah Guilt', a reference to the traditional gifts of money (gelt or gilt) to children at Chanukah/Hanukkah, (though now they often get other presents,) which began on Friday. The other side of his placard reminded of some relevant Jewish history. Sir Gerard Kaufman, MP speaking last January in the House of Commons stated:
"The Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asserts that her Government will have no dealings with Hamas, because they are terrorists. Tzipi Livni’s father was Eitan Livni, chief operations officer of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi, who organised the blowing-up of the King David hotel in Jerusalem, in which 91 victims were killed, including four Jews."
Eitan Livni was arrested and sent to jail for 15 years for terrorism but escaped from prison. Her mother Sarah was also a leader of Irgun, involved in a train robbery and blowing up another train. It’s a family history of which she can be proud, but one she denies in refusing to deal with ‘terrorists’.
Tzipi Livni herself worked as an agent of the Israeli intellegence service Mossad in the early 80s in Europe, when they were involved in a number of missions to assassinate Palestinians allege to be terrorists in several capitals (according to The Times) before continuing her studies to become a lawyer. She rose quickly to the top of Israeli politics after becoming am MP in 1999, and became leader of the Kadima party in September 2008,. In the elections of Feb 2009 many expected her to replace Ehud Olmert as Israeli Prime Minister, but Benjamin Netanyahu gained a narrow victory.
Livni was addressing a Jewish National Fund meeting. This organisation was founded in 1901 to buy land in Palestine for Jewish settlement and is owned by the World Zionist Organization. It owns around 13% of the land in Israel. JNF-UK claims that the JNF is "Israel's leading humanitarian and environmental Charity. We raise funds for the building blocks of everyday life in Israel such as reservoirs, irrigation systems, desalination plants, recycling schemes, forest planting, roads, housing and healthcare centres." Much of its work has aroused controversy, being seen as a deliberate attempt to erase the former Palestinian presence from the very face of the country, for example by planting European pine trees in place of the native species and destroying evidence of former Palestinian villages and towns. Israeli historian and Palestinian rights activist describes it as trying "to wipe out the memory of the place and Europeanize it" and as "a colonialist agency of ethnic cleansing." It also works to consolidate the Jewish presence in highly disputed areas, particularly those outside the ‘Green Line.’
The Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee has been considering the charity status of the JNF-UK, largely because of the discriminatory land allocation practices and violation of human rights by the JNF - which in 2007 led to the rejection of an application by the JNF-USA for consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) - despite the support of both the UK and USA.
As well the police who were in attendance there were also a number of Jewish men in dark suits stationed in the streets around the hotel where the event was taking place, but neither had much to do except for a couple checking the people and cars actually attending the JNF event. Although the demonstration was at times noisy it was entirely peaceful.