Infamous anti-Zionist claims Israel plotting to destroy Dome of the Rock
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Infamous anti-Zionist claims Israel plotting to destroy Dome of the Rock

Miko Peled addresses sparsely attended Israel-bashing fringe event at Brighton's Labour conference

Miko Peled (left) and Azzam Tamimi (right) at UCL in 2017. Both spoke at Labour conference in 2019 
Credit: Azzam Tamimi on Twitter
Miko Peled (left) and Azzam Tamimi (right) at UCL in 2017. Both spoke at Labour conference in 2019 Credit: Azzam Tamimi on Twitter

A triumvirate of anti-Zionists — Azzam Tamimi, Tom Suarez and Israeli-born Miko Peled — took to the stage on Tuesday for a three-hour-long fringe session at Brighton’s Labour conference. But they spoke to an echo chamber of less than 30 people, most adorned with Jewish Voice for Labour, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) badges, Palestinian lanyards and even the odd keffiyeh.

The event, despite pleas to Brighton Council from the Sussex Jewish community, went ahead on council-owned premises in the city. No-one from the council was inside the auditorium to check the content of the speeches, though it is hard to know how such an assessment could be made by council employees. Brighton has adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism and Tom Suarez’s entire presentation was devoted to a mocking dismantling of IHRA — but there was no intervention by anyone in his speech nor that of the other speakers.

Nearly 40 minutes after the advertised starting time the event, billed as a fundraiser for a Hebron charity, Youth Against the Settlements, commenced with the screening of a film by the writer and academic Karl Sabbagh. The film traced the beginnings of the conflict, from 1917’s Balfour Declaration onwards.

Azzam Tamimi, who was born in Hebron and whose textbook on Hamas was available for sale, denounced Zionism as a colonialist enterprise which would end, in the same way as other colonialist ventures, because it was “against nature and against God”. 

Zionists, he said, had “power and leverage in the government and the media and they use it to silence others”. He also declared that “Isis is the other face of Zionism — because some of the claims of Isis are no different from those of Netanyahu and his clique”.

Israel in its present shape “has no hope”, said Dr Tamimi, adding that he was “not talking about the Jews — we have no problem with the Jews”. The challenge, he said, “is to those who support the racist entity called Israel”.

 

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In contrast, Miko Peled, famously the son of an IDF general but who has renounced Israel, would not even use the name of the state, instead calling it Palestine. Israelis, he informed his audience, were “nothing to do with Jews”.

Peled’s stock-in-trade is his background and his apparent urbane reasonableness, so that when he speaks of the Israeli police carrying out “pogroms” against the strictly Orthodox community, or casual reference to Gaza as “a concentration camp”, it barely registers with his audience.

He, like the other two speakers, insisted that nothing they were saying was antisemitic. “How is the demand for justice antisemitic?” he asked. Peled added: “You can’t be a Zionist and say you oppose racism, because Zionism IS racism. If you have a conscience there is no way unless you reject Zionism”.

His final pay-off — arcane even by his standards — was to tell the audience that architectural plans had been drawn up to destroy the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple on the site in Jerusalem. This appears to be based on stories emanating from the religiously extremist Temple Institute. Peled seemed content to let his audience believe this was an Israeli government initiative — and that it would happen. “It’s round the corner”, he said, adding that the scheme’s supporters “are in the Cabinet”.

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