We republish this item as a statement of solidarity with a fellow anti-Zionist activist who whose commendable project to defend Palestinian rights has been targeted by Zionist lawfare groups, and who much of the left has failed to defend. We will not capitulate to witchhunters in this manner. It was originally published on the Redress website
By Peter Gregson
Pete Gregson writes:
On 8 March UK Lawyers For Israel (UKLFI) launched a campaign to exclude Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss from the UK, in order to prevent him speaking on the Muslim and Jew: Beyond Israel tour.
UKLFI is notorious for getting people fired or exhibitions closed for having the temerity to support Palestinian voices – it recently forced a London hospital to remove Gaza children’s artwork (see Chelsea and Westminster hospital: Why is Gaza Strip artwork by Palestinian children being censored? The Independent).
However, it failed to prevent Edinburgh City Council from discussing what it can do to help Gaza- Edinburgh Council to Explore Support for Gaza – Twin Edinburgh with Gaza (twingaza.com) when Police Scotland and Michael Mansfield KC gave assurances that, contrary to UKLFI threats, there was nothing illegal about twinning with Gaza.
Dear Jonathan Turner, Chief Executive, UKLI,
Your website posting contains many glaring inaccuracies about me.
The whole argument that I am anti-Semitic is made because you use the fraudulent and politicised International Holocaust Memorial Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which equates criticism of Israel with a hatred of Jews, a plainly ridiculous conceit and one which the definition itself declares to be anti-Semitic (the definition cites an example of anti-Semitism to be “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”)
In your posting you declare:
Pete Gregson is a former GMB Union shop steward, who was expelled for behaviour recognised by it as “anti-Semitic and racist in nature” and “simply unacceptable” holocaust denial after he issued a press release saying that Israel is a “racist endeavour” and “tends to exaggerate the importance of the holocaust for its own political ends.
The truth is that I was expelled from the GMB for breaching the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which means saying “Israel is a racist endeavour”, not about discriminating against Jews. I was defended at my hearing by two prominent Jews who were clear that nothing I had said was anti-Semitic (Rabbi Ahron Cohen and Tony Greenstein). What you call “simply unacceptable” holocaust denial is also absolutely untrue. I said that “Israel exaggerates the holocaust for political ends”. I have never claimed the holocaust was exaggerated, as I believe you well know. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
If you want to learn the truth, look at this video that Ken Loach told me he loved:
Indeed, I was not victimised by the GMB for issuing a press release; it was because I lodged a change.org petition to the Labour Party leadership asking it to abandon the IHRA definition, headed “Israel is a racist endeavour”, which 2,652 Labour Party members have signed.
I think if you are writing to the home secretary to complain about me, at the very least you should get your facts right. What happened was that a prominent Zionist, Rea Wolfson, who was a leading light at the Jewish Labour Movement, a Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) member and a regional officer at GMB Scotland learned of my petition through my letters to the NEC and chose to get me expelled; I remain the only shop steward in the world to be expelled for criticising Israel- not for discriminating against Jews.
I was not suspended from the Scouts for any “anti-Semitic activities” – I was suspended because I was Chairperson of the Campaign Against Bogus Anti-Semitism (now One Democratic Palestine). The Scouts to date have never interviewed me or discussed my suspension, and our charitable status may well be withdrawn as a result of its action (for I am the treasurer and unable to submit the accounts). Our own Group Scout Leader, an Israeli Jew, declares he supports my freedom of speech on Palestine and is in favour of my reinstatement. As I believe you know, I am ever careful to keep my volunteering activities separate, I have taken great care never to publicly mention to either body my passion for both young people (I was a scout myself from the age of 12 to 16 and was a youth worker for 20 years) and Palestine.
Indeed, your posting barely mentions the people at the heart of the matter – those I seek to defend – the Palestinians who are suffering the brunt of the racism endemic prevalent in the current Israeli government, but one which Israel has promoted since its inception, beginning with the Nakba in 1948.
Your comments about me are also utterly untrue: my corrections are in brackets in bold:
In 2019, Gregson held a series of public meetings in Edinburgh, [these were not public meetings, they were called “Palfilm Nights” and were screenings of videos about the Palestinian struggle for self-determination] which were promoted as “An ideal opportunity to learn about the Palestine-Israeli situation and to improve discussion skills in a friendly and supportive environment”. The following statements by Gregson at the meetings were noted at the time by an attendee: [there were only eight people present when your attendee revealed he was part of Glasgow Friends of Israel but then went on to engage in polite discussion with the rest of us around why we supported Palestine. His reporting of our discussion is 100% false, and I can proffer witnesses to this]
a) “They’re not the same as Nazis because they don’t use gas chambers. But they have got the same idea about racial purity. And the racial purity that the Jews want is that you have to be Jewish, otherwise you’re the enemy”. [Quite untrue; I never said anything about racial purity or Nazis, or that anyone that wasn’t Jewish was their enemy.]
b) “Nobody stops this racist march because we feel guilty because of the holocaust. This is the card that the Jews in Israel play”. [There was no racist march that I know of ever mentioned at the Palfilm night – at that time I had never been involved in the SUTR (Stand Up to Racism) protest – again this comment is wholly fictional.]
c) “The Zionists have just as much pleasure killing Arabs”. [Again completely untrue; I never declared Zionists took pleasure in killing Arabs.]
I imagine that some of what you have attributed to Rabbi Weiss is similarly untrue. I await his comment.
The fact of the matter is that UK Lawyers for Israel seek to bar Rabbi Weiss from entering the UK. Rabbi Weiss is a friendly, peaceful devoutly religious man who knows too well about anti-Semitism – his grandparents died in Auschwitz. Excluding Rabbi Weiss would be ipso facto anti-Semitic because it would indicate he was being targeted because he is a Jew. Others are let into the UK who criticise Israel – should the Rabbi be unfairly treated because of his Judaic faith?
He, alongside most Palestinians and some other Jews, seeks a single state solution where all citizens can enjoy equal rights, freedom and security.
This is the message that you do not want people in the UK to hear, isn’t it?
Pete Gregson (Chair),
One Democratic Palestine