Mere weeks after the terrorist attacks in Britain -- on May 22 in Manchester and earlier in Westminster -- there is planned in London, on July 8-9, a major event which its organizers describe as:
Palestine Expo: the biggest social, cultural and entertainment event on Palestine to ever take place in Europe. In a year of immense significance for Palestine, we are pleased to announce, Palestine Expo 2017
The "biggest ever in Europe": heady stuff. In a major coup, the exposition will take place, not in a scruffy hall on the outskirts of the city, but in the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, near the Houses of Parliament, in the shadow of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. The prestigious centre is owned by the UK Government and its operation is conducted by an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government. It has 2,000 square metres of exhibition space, four main auditoria, seven conference rooms and many smaller rooms, and specialises in events for more than 1,000 delegates. Palexpo will occupy five of its six levels.
Events listed include:
Academic Workshop ("will be run by a group of academics from leading UK universities")
On the surface, it might appear that this is merely a cultural event designed to give the British public a taste of Palestinian cooking, music, art, in particular, history (starting in 1948!). A closer examination, however, reveals something less pleasant. Underneath the surface, this exposition is dedicated to a presentation of Palestinian victimhood and "resistance" (read terrorism), the same "resistance" as in Israel, and on similar false pretexts.
In Israel, the false pretext is that Jews -- who have lived in Canaan and Judea for 3,000 years, as is substantiated by enough documentary and archaeological evidence to sink a supertanker -- are supposedly occupying "Palestinian land". In Europe, the false pretext is "revenge for colonialism", which has historically existed under the Muslims, in their conquests of Iran, the Byzantine Empire, North Africa and the Middle East, northern Cyprus, Spain and most of Eastern Europe. This expansion has continued in the present day to Lebanon, northern Cyprus, Indonesia, the Philippines and is working its way through Europe, Canada and Australia. The Europeans are evidently gullible enough, it seems, to swallow all pretexts without bothering to check any facts.
The Queen Elizabeth II Centre is the venue for the upcoming "Palestine Expo 2017", organized by the anti-Semitic pro-Hamas activist group, "Friends of Al-Aqsa". (Image source: Jdforrester/Wikimedia Commons)
Who has organized this massive upcoming London event? One might have expected it to be the Palestinian Mission of the UK (often treated erroneously as an embassy, as it claims to represent the "State of Palestine", which does not exist). However, although the Mission will probably be a participant in the exposition, a direct link for it cannot be found. The same is true for the West Bank's Palestinian Authority.
The organizers of the event are, in fact, a relatively small British organization, Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA), founded in 1997 by a British optician, Ismail Patel, closely involved in several Islamic organizations such as the British Muslim Initiative (BMI). The BMI is a front group for Hamas, and has been for many years "the most active organization in the U.K Muslim Brotherhood". Patel was a spokesman for the BMI. And the BMI was the chief organizer of London's 2008 IslamExpo, which Britain's Minister of Communities and Local Government at the time, Hazel Blears, strongly criticized:
"It was clear that because of the views of some of the organisers, and because of the nature of some of the exhibitors, this was an event that no Minister should attend. Organisers like Anas al-Tikriti, who believes in boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day. Or speakers like Azzam Tamimi, who has sought to justify suicide bombing. Or exhibitors like the Government of Iran."
Friends of Al-Aqsa is, itself, an anti-Semitic pro-Hamas activist group. It helped establish in London the anti-Israel al-Quds Day events, in which extremists march to support the terror group Hizbullah and the theocratic Iranian regime that calls for England, Israel and America to be wiped from the pages of time.
Patel himself is an outspoken upholder of these values. In 2009, he addressed a Stop the Gaza Massacre demonstration in support of Hamas:
"Hamas is no terrorist organization. The reason they hate Hamas is because they refuse to be subjugated, occupied by the Israeli state, and we salute Hamas for standing up to Israel [...] to the state of Israel: you no longer represent the Jewish people."
Hamas has, in fact, been condemned as a terrorist group by the US, the UK, the EU countries, Egypt, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. Terrorism itself has been difficult to define legally, mostly because the countries that use it do not wish to define it; nevertheless, several countries have matching definitions. The British 2006 Terrorism Act provides a basic list of activities that constitute terrorism:
- (1) In this Act "terrorism" means the use or threat of action where-
- (a) the action falls within subsection (2),
- (b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
- (c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.
- (2) Action falls within this subsection if it-
- (a) involves serious violence against a person,
- (b) involves serious damage to property,
- (c) endangers a person's life, other than that of the person committing the action,
- (d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
- (e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
Section 1(3) to (5) goes on to expand on the effect and extent of this definition.
"A terrorist is a man who murders indiscriminately, distinguishing neither between civilian and innocent and guilty nor soldier and civilian."
Under these definitions, Hamas is exposed as a terrorist organization both by its repeated use of indiscriminate killing and the contents of its two Charters from 1988: ("la hall li'l-qadiyya al-Filastiniyya illa bi'l-jihad -- There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except through jihad." Article 13) and 2017:
"Hamas confirms that no peace in Palestine should be agreed on, based on injustice to the Palestinians or their land. Any arrangements based on that will not lead to peace, and the resistance and Jihad will remain as a legal right, a project and an honor for all our nation's people." -- Article 21. (Emphasis added.)
Hamas is not the only extremist organization to which Friends of Al-Aqsa has lent its support. The outlawed Northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which has close Hamas affiliations, is led by Shaykh Raed Salah. Salah has aided organizations that fund Hamas, and claims that Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks (and that 4,000 Jews stayed away from work at the World Trade Center that day). Salah has also called Osama Bin Laden a martyr, and has said that honor killings of young women are acceptable.
"In late 2015, Israel banned the radical Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, accusing it of maintaining links to terror groups and of stoking a wave of violence that saw dozens of deaths in a spate of stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks."
Before that, in 2011, FOA along with other extremist groups brought Salah to the UK, despite a travel ban. When Salah was arrested and to be deported, Patel spoke out in support for him. But Salah had well before that delivered bloodcurdling sermons calling on Palestinians to become martyrs while attacking Israeli soldiers.
"Friends of Al Aqsa" is one of the more extremist (sic) Islamist organizations at work in Britain today. It supports the Muslim Brotherhood-linked charity "Interpal" (proscribed by the US Treasury) and advertises it on its website. It collaborates with the Khomenist Iranian-funded faux human rights organization known as the Islamic Human Rights Commission in organizing events such as Al Quds day at which public support is expressed for the Iranian proxy militia Hizbollah.
For the Jewish community of the UK, Friends of Al-Aqsa and Patel represent a real threat. The group has published anti-Semitic authors. One, the journalist Khalid Amayreh, claimed that Jews control America, and that the Iraq war "was conceived in and planned by Israel through the mostly Jewish neocons in Washington". Another was the Jewish British self-declared Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, who runs the anti-Israel organization Deir Yassin Remembered. Friends of Al-Aqsa has also published material by Gilad Atzmon, who has accused the Jews of Germany of waging war against Hitler and has said of the Holocaust:
"The Holocaust became the new Western religion. Unfortunately, it [the Holocaust] is the most sinister religion known to man. It is a license to kill, to flatten, no nuke, to wipe, to rape, to loot and to ethnically cleanse. It made vengeance and revenge into a Western value."
Of the speakers listed for Palexpo, several are well-known for their pro-Hamas, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views. Ilan Pappé of Exeter University is a highly radical and much-criticized historian who has called for the elimination of Israel and its replacement by a single Arab state.
John Pilger is an Australian journalist and film-maker, one of whose documentaries has been described as "a veritable encyclopedia of every anti-Israel canard in existence today". He has suggested that terrorist group Hezbollah represented "humanity at its noblest"; approvingly cited the arguments of the above-mentioned anti-Semite and Holocaust denier Gilad Atzmon; has suggested that "influential" Jews around the world are culpable in "Israeli crimes" and has likened Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi's treatment of the Jews. According to Pilger , "the Zionist state remains the cause of more regional grievance and sheer terror than all the Muslim states combined."
Pilger has also asserted that "killing children seems like sport for the IDF [Israel Defence Forces]". His distortions are breathtaking. He has defended Hamas strenuously. Here, for example, he accuses his most hated countries, American and Israel, of distorting the truth:
"The majority [of Gazans] voted for the 'wrong' party, Hamas, which the U.S. and Israel, with their inimitable penchant for pot-calling-the-kettle-black, describe as terrorist."
He added the astonishing comment that, "Indeed, the vote for Hamas was actually a vote for peace" -- about an organization whose Charter declares that, as mentioned, "The only solution to the Palestinian question is through jihad".
Ben White is one of the UK's most extreme anti-Israel speakers and writers. In his eyes, Israel can do no right; the Palestinians, including Hamas, no wrong. He "writes extensively about what he terms 'Palestine/Israel' to the point of near obsession and was a regular contributor to [the Guardian's] 'Comment is Free' and the virulently anti-Israel 'Electronic Intifada'". Here is a list of quotations from his writings. He is a supporter of the anti-Jewish one-state solution and an ardent promoter of the fiction that Israel is an "apartheid state". He regularly downplays Hamas and Palestinian terrorism, and instead places all blame for violence on Israel.
Among other speakers with reputations for extremist views are Miko Peled, who regards the Israeli army as terrorists (despite international recognition of it as "the most moral army in the world"). His anti-Semitism became clear when, commenting on a US-Israel aid deal, he said:
"Then theyr [sic] surprised Jews have reputation 4being sleazy thieves. #apartheidisrael doesn't need or deserve these $$."
Peled has compared Israel to Nazi Germany and called for a Palestinian state to replace Israel.
Tariq Ramadan is a famous Egyptian-Swiss Muslim scholar, philosopher and writer closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood (he is the grandson of the Brotherhood's founder, Hasan al-Banna'). He is famous for duplicity and use of doublespeak. He has donated money to the terrorist group Hamas, which is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and he has been denied a visa to the United States for his links to Hamas. He "was barred under a section of the Patriot Act, which bars entry to foreigners who have used a 'position of prominence ... to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.'" He "has often been accused of being an Islamist, anti-Semitic, and sexist. He has drawn severe criticism from numerous Western public figures, ranging from scholars and journalists to political, religious, and community leaders".
The other speakers listed fall into similar categories as supporters of trying to destroy Israel through economic means, Palestinian "resistance" to Israel, and anti-Semitism.
Currently, Friends of Al-Aqsa and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign are planning to sue Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) for libel, forcing the rights group to instruct lawyers to act in their defence. From the evidence presented here, JHRW could scarcely have a better case. Its appeal to the management of the Queen Elizabeth II Centre for the cancellation of a terror-linked event is entirely in line with British concerns about radical and terrorist ideologies, anti-Semitism, and international terrorism. Friends of Al-Aqsa, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, their supporters, and the various organizations to which they are linked, have never changed their beliefs regarding Israel, the Jewish people, or the West.
Dr Denis MacEoin PhD (Cambridge 1979) is a scholar of Islam and Persia, a former lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies and currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
 Not to be confused with Geneva's Palexpo: Palais des Expositions et des Congrès
 See Caroline Fourest, Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, New York, London, 2008 and Paul Berman Flight of the Intellectuals, NY and London, 2011, Chapter One. See also Christopher Hitchens here.