Pippa Bartolotti’s antisemitic comments
Those who campaign alongside the people of Palestine are all too often accused of anti-semitism. Most of the times I have come across this allegation, I have not believed the incident in question to be anti-semitic: it isn’t intrinsically racist to criticise the policies of the Israeli state. For those of us who care about the rights of Palestinians, it is all the more damaging when someone who works on this issue says something which is anti-semitic: it confirms for those who make this accusation their trope that all Palestine activists are really anti-semetic, whether or not we say such things.
And so, for me, it is important that we recognise when someone has said something we believe to be anti-semitic. Because unless we are willing to accept that some things are, we have no right to say other things aren’t; and, more importantly, speaking up against racism is always important, especially when it is from people in our own communities.
With that in mind, let’s turn to the Jewish Chronicle, who recently ran a story on Pippa Bartolotti, a candidate in the coming Green Party leadership elections (though few would rank her as the front runner).
“When she [Pippa] was arrested during the “flytilla” demonstration against Israel’s blockade of Gaza, she questioned Mr Gould’s [the UK Ambassador to Israel] independence and objected to being represented by a member of the UK diplomatic staff with a Jewish name.
“She told this paper last December: “I questioned the wisdom of having a Jewish Zionist ambassador in Israel and stated that their loyalty was a matter for the FCO to investigate.”
“She added: “The vice -consul was called Levi. From the university of life I have learned that Jews often have a conflict of interest in matters relating to Palestine.””
I think this comment is racist. It is saying that someone is likely to be unable to do their job because of their race. It is particularising from a general. It is taking issue with someone not just because of their political beliefs (zionism) but also, their race. As a Green blog, we would be wrong, I feel, not to point this out. Unlike the Jewish Chronicle, that Ms Bartolotti has been arrested by the IDF, and that she has attempted to break the siege of Gaza through the ‘flytilla’ are points in her favour in my book. But her anti-semitic comments are not acceptable.
I contacted Pippa, and asked for a comment. Her response is below.
I can only re-articulate what I said before: that it is surely difficult for the UK Ambassador – a self-confessed zionist – to remain impartial regarding matters affecting the relationship between the UK and Israel, and the UK and Palestine, over which Israel holds illegal siege and occupation powers.
In the subsequent long and excruciating exchange with the Foreign Office after my unnecessary and unreasonable imprisonment, I discovered that the UK had never before appointed a jewish person to this post.
One can only hope that there will be an outbreak of fair play, and we will see the 45% of moslem people in the region similarly represented in future ambassadorial postings.
www.pippabartolotti.blogspot.com has a bit more info
She later added the following*:
My grandfather was jewish, so I have no axe to grind either way. For me this is a human rights situation. If the boot was on the other foot I would be supporting the jews. As you say, zionism is an ideological position – and not restricted to jews.
In conclusion, I want to be clear. I am not generalising from the particular. I am neither saying that Pippa is racist in general, nor that she is anti-semitic in general. I am happy to believe that what she cares about is human rights, and from what I have seen of her record in standing up for Palestinians, I have mostly been impressed. But when she complains because someone is Jewish, Pippa crosses a line. It is wrong, and it is damaging to those of us who have unjustly been accused of anti-semitism when we oppose the Israeli State. I feel that fellow Greens must be willing to say so.
*note, this second message has been added retrospectively, in the light of comments from Pippa below.
Hello There. I found your weblog the use of msn. That is a really well written article.
I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of
your helpful information. Thank you for the post. I’ll certainly return.
This particular article, “Pippa Bartolotti
Yes, Pippa’s story sounds embellished. I’m not sure what this proves, except that her grandfather was a fantasist, or that her family history (like many other peoples’) has grown taller over the years. I suppose people here are implying that Pippa is a liar. That could also be true but it is not the only (or even the most likely) explanation. Plus I hate nasty innuendo…..
Let’s return once more to Pippa’s little story: “When the Nazi invasion of Britain was all but imminent, my grandfather slept with a gun under his pillow. In it were three bullets. One for his daughter(my mother), one for his wife, one for himself. Yes, he was a jew.”
In addition to my previous reasons for its lack of credibility, whoever would sleep with a gun ‘under their pillow’ when their mortal enemy was not in their city – and nor even on the island of Great Britain?
It’s rubbish, isn’t it? An account taken from occupied Amsterdam, perhaps?
Dear me. Judaism is not a race, it’s a religion.
Regarding the other comments. Grandad was in communications. He knew the score. e.g.
I don’t think any of us can imagine the fear experienced at the time.
Esther has a point. The Wansee Conference was in early 1942. British Jews in 1941 certainly knew Hitler was anti-semitic and would ruin their lives, but they would have had no conception that mass slaughter was about to begin in a few months. And non-Jewish spouses were largely left alone in any case, even in Germany itself. It is certainly a very unusual story.
Sir Lupus, you have wholly missed my point. I agree with all that you say. However, my understanding of my own wholly Jewish family history is that at that time, in England, the mood was not one of planning mass family homicides, if the Germans had invaded. How much more improbable then for a man who had already distanced himself from Judaism by marrying a non Jew and hence having a non-Jewish wife and daughter? Why even contemplate killing them? There is nothing that I have read or heard that would suggest that this a likely mindset for a married-out Jew, in England in 1941. My suggestion, if you hadn’t got it before, is that this story from Pippa has been made up. Please don’t think that I was saying that the persecution and mass murder of the Jews by the Germans was other than as recorded in the accepted history of the period.
Ugh, you really are vile people. Of course people knew what was happening in 1941.
On the night of 9-10 November 1938, Nazi Propaganda Minister Dr Josef Goebbels organised the violent outburst known as Kristallnacht (‘Crystal Night’, the night of broken glass). While the police stood by, Nazi stormtroopers in civilian clothes burned down synagogues and broke into Jewish homes throughout Germany and Austria, terrorising and beating men, women and children. Ninety-one Jews were murdered and over 20,000 men were arrested and taken to concentration camps. Afterwards the Jewish community was fined one billion Reichsmarks to pay for the damage.
After Kristallnacht, Jewish businesses were expropriated, private employers were urged to sack Jewish employees, and offices were set up to speed emigration. Imprisoned Jews could buy freedom if they promised to leave the country, abandoning their assets. By the outbreak of war in September 1939, half of Germany’s 500,000 Jews had fled, as had many Jews from Austria and the German-occupied parts of Czechoslovakia.
So, what do you reckon Esther? What is it with you lot?
Pippa Bartolloti wrote: “When the Nazi invasion of Britain was all but imminent, my grandfather slept with a gun under his pillow. In it were three bullets. One for his daughter(my mother), one for his wife, one for himself. Yes, he was a jew.”
I find this dramatic story improbable. This was not the mood of UK Jews in 1941, because they didn’t know what we know now nor what was coming later in the war years. And were guns so freely available in homes at that time? Furthermore, with a non-Jewish wife and daughter, why would the Jewish grandfather presume them all destined for the gas chambers that had not yet even been created in the East?
I offer no defence for Pippa’s remarks some of which I find completely unacceptable. However Ambassador Gould has some explaining to do about his sinister links with Liam Fox, the former Tory Defence Minister and his unelected sidekick Adam Werrity (closely linked with Mossad). Until the appointment of Gould, the Government has always taken the view that the Ambassador to Israel should be non-Jewish because they perceived a possible conflict of interest. This is nonsense of course, but it was the government’s view as well as that of Pippa Bartolotti.
Gould did not help dispel this image of conflict of interests when he had secret meetings on at least 4 occasions with senior Israeli Defence personnel, plus Liam Fox (Ministry of defence)and the shadowy Werrity, who was unelected and held no government post, but carried a card on which he claimed to be advisor to Liam Fox. Werrity , who is reportedly still in hiding, had his 5 star lifeline funded by the charity Atlantic Bridge, now closed down by the Charity Commissioners, and he had close links with the shady Zionist Lobby Group BICOM. The so far unstubstantiated allegation has been that the discussions were about a proposed Israeli attack on Iran.
Fox has lost his ministerial post, but many very serious questions remain unanswered. Not least about the role of our Ambassador in all this.
The whole dodgy business has been swept under the carpet. Readers will find 5 minutes googling round this issue extremely revealing. The facts mentioned above are well documented Start here
Greens accuse another Green of anti-semitism?
I thought you all didn’t care too much for je, sorry, Israelis?
A conspiracy theorist might conclude this is an elaborate plot by Pippa to give weight to that misconceived motion to last Autumn’s Conference of “Working definition of antisemitism”.
I am no such conspiracy theorist.
at times like this, I remember this post: http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2011/06/on-anti-israelism-and-anti-semitism/
Oh, and, Pippa, one more comment – you have every right to say that the Ambassador failed to represent you. The problem is when you say he didn’t do his job properly because of his race.
I am glad this has been brought out in public.
Pippa’s remarks are completely unacceptable and wrong headed.
Whatever Pippa’s intentions, this is racist. For many of us involved in raising awareness and activism for palestinian human rights, and the right to self-determination – this will only lend credence to the attempt to discredit us by conflating anti-zionism, anti-antisemitism, and zionists speaking up for universal human rights, (thats without getting into antisemitic zionists!).
I fear Pippa’s problem is that she doesn’t think before she speaks. She makes great play of being “the unreasonable candidate”, sadly I fear she made too often be the unreasoning one too.
I bet Pippa would be a great fundraising person for GPEW. The sort of person who feels no embarrassment, and is a little bit cheeky. In a good way. However, she really isn’t a suitable candidate to lead a political party.
I think you’re missing the point a little as she “questioned the wisdom of having a Jewish Zionist ambassador in Israel” rather than questioned having a “Jewish ambassador” surely there is nothing anti-Semitic with questioning the political views i.e.Zionism of a state official especially one representing an imprisoned anti-zionist activist.
Similarly if a black prison in Texas “questioned the wisdom of having a White Klan member as an impartial judge” it would not be racist.
The second sentence is more problematic but I feel that it can’t be taken out of context of the first sentence as, it seems to me, that the concern over the vice-consul being Jewish is contingent on the fact that the ambassador is a Zionist and this caused her to speculate on the political views of the vice-consul. It does seems highly likely that being Jewish is a signifier of a significantly increased probability that someone will hold pro-Israeli views, especially if their boss is also a known Zionist and would have played a role in recruiting that person. If he had of demonstrated the he doesn’t hold pro Israel views then I hope her concerns would have disappeared.
Therefore, the issue is the pro-Israeli political views of the ambassador rather than whether either is Jewish or non-Jewish. Anyway I hope it is.
Pippa – sorry, I only didn’t include it because I hadn’t got permission to quote it. I’ll amend the quote above to include that too.
As for suffering of Palestinians, my sister in law is a Palestinian refugee. My nephew is half Palestinian. I have been to the West Bank and I have talked for hours with student activists who were tortured for months for what they did. Israel is a cruel, oppressive, apartheid state. I don’t see why any of that changes what I said above.
Adam, I appreciate much of what you write, but in this case you omitted to cover what I have openly stated – that if the boot was on the other foot i.e if the jews in Israel were being as harshly and wrongly oppressed by the Palestinians, I would be working just as hard for their human rights.
When the Nazi invasion of Britain was all but imminent, my grandfather slept with a gun under his pillow. In it were three bullets. One for his daughter(my mother), one for his wife, one for himself. Yes, he was a jew.
This matter of the appalling treatment of Palestinians is an aparteid issue.
Israeli jews are conditioned into thinking Palestinians are less than human. Similarly the Chinese are conditioned into thinking Tibetans are less than human. There was a time when whites considered Africans to be less than human. Surely I don’t need to tell you the dire position of African jews in Israel.
Perhaps if you were to go to Gaza and see the cruel suffering for yourself you would be more honest and open about the situation. Perhaps if you were kept in jail whilst the consuls of other other nationalities intervened to either let their nationals pass freely or leave earlier, you would absolutely understand that the british ambassador did not intervene on our behalf, the question is why.
I do not pussyfoot around when I see suffering which our own government could prevent, but is doing nothing to prevent, and it is only by constant pressure from human rights campaigners that Israel will wake up from it’s madness.
I think Doug and BG should be careful. Loose allegations implying dishonesty are actionable. Doug should either pass BG publishable substantiated evidence or withdraw the remark.
As for the remarks about Ambassador Gould they’re unacceptable and a grotesque generalisation about someone on the grounds of their race. Moreover Gould has been given a respectful hearing recently when he pointed out to a distinguished Israeli audience that Israel is starting to lose mainstream UK opinion. He may be Jewish and he may be sympathetic to Isreal but he seems to be being the best of friends to Israel by delivering some uncomfortable truths. I’d be tempted to reserve judgement and see how he fares.
I think it’s absolutely right that this should be published, along with anything else of concern about the election candidates.
There is a lot going on in the election campaign currently which is being kept hush hush, and it would be worth exposing that as well.
I wish this was the only thing of concern regarding Pippa – there are more fundamental concerns about her honesty which have been passed my way.