Time to end this culture of impunity

No wonder anti-Israel activists plot ever more brazen outrages

Anti-israel “hacktivists” create propaganda on vandalised bus

In the Middle East, with hitherto unimaginable overtures of peace and reconciliation being made towards Israel by certain Gulf states, there are hopes of a potentially momentous change for the better in the century-old Arab war of extermination against the national homeland of the Jewish people.

Clearly, however, those in the west still committed to Israel’s extermination haven’t got the memo. Indeed, they are now ramping up their hate-mongering activities to ever more alarming levels.

Last Saturday, five people were arrested for criminal damage and assaulting the police after Palestine Action protesters threw red paint at the London office of Elbit, the Israeli defence electronics company which helps equip Britain’s armed forces.

In recent months, Elbit has become the cause du jour for Israel-bashers. Huda Ammori, a prominent member of Palestine Action, said it was “up to the people to take direct action to shut Elbit down for good.” The group, which was launched earlier this year, said it had targeted Elbit sites across the country “over a dozen times”.

The indefatigable David Collier, who heroically spends his life wading through the sewers of British antisemitism and anti-Zionism in order to expose them, has written a new blog post about Palestine Action. Let’s hope this finds its way onto the desks of the police and security service. They should immediately act on what he has uncovered.

Collier describes an induction event that Palestine Action held on Zoom. He reports on the incendiary and ludicrous falsehoods they spout in this video about Elbit and Israel, revealing a level of ignorance exceeding even their malevolence. Thus much is pretty well par for the course in such degraded circles.

What should make people sit up, however, is what comes next. Collier reports detailed instructions by Ammori for a campaign of politically motivated vandalism. He writes: 

Ammori then begins to tell people what to do. It is about small cells. Even if they are alone, they don’t have to wait for help or instructions, they can just take a bucket of red paint down to their local Elbit offices. She then says it is important to take a photo and send it by email to Palestine Action so they can share it online. 

Ammori shares images of advertisement hoardings at bus stops bearing twisted and inflammatory messages about Israeli weapons: “We test weapons on Gaza civilians: Elbit Systems UK”; or in Oldham, with its large Muslim population: “Tested on Palestinians. used in Kashmir. Israel’s weapons made in Oldham”. 

The video amounts to incitement — to hatred, certainly, but also to vandalism. For this is how Ammori says these images should be created: 

She refers to it as an “ad hack”, which basically means vandalising a billboard on the London Transport system, removing a paid advert and replacing it with one of their own. We are told by Ammori that this illegal act is “quite an easy thing to do’". ‘“All you do is slip a bus stop poster down, flip it over and then put it back up painted’". We are told that all we need is a t60 screwdriver and then directed to Google for further details. To sell the vandalism even further, Ammori tells those listening this also attacks those ad companies who are selling us “crap” like on “Amazon”.

Another activist, Richard Barnard, then describes how do the same thing to a London bus, pictured bearing the legend “Stop arming Israel”: 

Again we are told how easy it is. “You literally just slide the other advert off, and you just need to paint it and slide it back on again”. 

An activist is then shown brazenly painting graffiti all over the walls inside Elbit’s office — and obviously, being filmed doing so. And this is perhaps the most important point of all.

The activists, who say they intend to expand operations to target any organisation that deals with Elbit, boast about the “non-consequences” of their actions. None of them, they say, has ever been prosecuted for anything they have done:

Ammori states that sometimes the charges are dropped, but for the most part, people are not even arrested. Richard takes over and proudly boasts that they have videos of police telling them “not to worry”. He tells us that Elbit’s factories have been shut “over 20 times” and nobody has been prosecuted. He says it shows how “evil” Elbit are before stating that is also shows “we can get away with it”.

This event presumably took place before the event of last Saturday with its five arrests, but the general point stands. Palestine Action activists are ever more brazenly ramping up their noxious and illegal activities because they believe they can get away with it. 

That’s not just because the police have mostly turned a blind eye to what these activists have done. It’s also the fact that the authorities in general have been demonstrably hesitant when faced with noxious behaviour in support of a variety of causes. They are transfixed by the “right to protest”.

Extinction Rebellion activists, for example, were allowed repeatedly to paralyse central London by blocking the bridges, subjecting thousands of people to traffic mayhem and disruption; other activists caused criminal damage to the lawn at Trinity college, Cambridge. “Anti-racists” were allowed to pull down statues as the police stood passively by. University authorities have often crumpled in the face of threatening behaviour aimed at removing artefacts or course materials supposedly celebrating colonialism or slavery.

The concern by the police to uphold the right to peaceful protest is understandable. But they have been slow to grasp that the danger from certain activist groups lies not just in actual acts of criminal damage or other illegal actions they commit, but also in the subversive agenda or incitement to violence or criminality that precede them.

It’s often only after public criticism of the police’s lax attitude starts to mount that they rethink their tactics and start enforcing conditions upon mass demonstrations and making arrests when they’re breached. 

Unfortunately, no such public criticism attaches itself to the indulgence shown to anti-Israel activists. With scant understanding of the potentially murderous incitement that underpins much anti-Israel activism and demagoguery, the police, prosecutors, university administrators and other authorities have persistently failed to recognise the line that is regularly crossed from free speech into intimidation. 

For example, anti-Israel protesters often scream death threats at Jewish counter-protesters. At a demonstration in London last year, Israel-haters chanted, with their fists in the air:

You dog only death will come to you/You son of a bastard only death will come to you/You Zionist only death will come to you.

Everyone else shrugged.

Every year, some universities force Jewish students to run a gauntlet of hatred and incitement against Israel and all who support it during an entire week on campus devoted to perpetrating the inflammatory lie of Israeli “apartheid”.

Everyone else shrugs (although the government has indicated its disapproval).

In 2011, the central London store of the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava was forced to close down after being besieged every week by dozens of anti-Israel activists calling on British shoppers to boycott it. Virtually no-one even noticed. No-one protested.

The rule of law and the maintenance of public tranquillity only work if people know that if they break or undermine them they will suffer the consequences. If they suffer no consequences, the rule of law and public tranquility take a nose-dive.

Is it any wonder that Palestine Action activists feel free to commit whatever outrages they devise? And isn’t it high time this culture of impunity for ideological bullies and vandals was brought to an end?

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