First person account by David Collier (Originally posted at his blog, Beyond the Great Divide)
The Palestine Expo was advertised as a cultural event and a family affair. So I went to the QEII Conference Centre to engage with the atmosphere with my wife and youngest son. I knew that the content of the speeches would be full of hate, so rather than listen to hours of anti-Israeli rhetoric, I wanted to enjoy the exhibits and activities. Most of all I looked forward to the food. Myself, my wife, and my eleven-year-old child were evicted half way through our lunch. What we suffered was unacceptable discrimination. Here is the report:
The Palestine Expo event
We had booked a family ticket over both days at the Palestine Expo. I took my youngest on the first day. The intent was to take the eldest on Sunday, because on Saturday she was at the London Pride event. The tickets were being advertised with a huge discount. I have already posted my thoughts on the programme for the event. I hadn’t commented or opposed the idea of a cultural festival. Once the programme was released I criticised the clear political element.There are many cultural and historical elements that could have been included to engage with the Arab association with the land. A look at life during Ottoman times. The Islamic conquest and empire. The waves of Migrants over the past three hundred years, or the nomadic lifestyle of Bedouin. The Egyptian conquest of 1831-1833 is an interesting one. A battle over ‘Greater Syria’ between the Egyptians and the Ottomans that gave ‘Palestine’ the ‘zero acknowledgement’ that its non-existent 19th century status fully deserved. All these are fascinating historically accurate and culturally significant areas, that would never be represented at an event such as this. The only discussion on show was anti-Israel venom, the actual concept of ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinians’ didn’t figure at all. The Palestine at this event, was one created merely to de-legitimise Israel.
The circle of hate
I had my family with me, and to be honest, I had little intention of suffering the talks. I looked at the list of speakers and I have seen all these circus performers before. In fact, so confident am I of this now, I challenge Pappe or Peled or Barkan to allow me to write the speech for their next event. I am sure I will create ‘pitch perfect’ diatribe, fully in tune with the message they wish to deliver. Ben White would be more troublesome. Not that I couldn’t write it, but simply I wouldn’t want to make the effort of finding 200 irrelevant statistics that he uses to deflect the attention of the audience with.
The groups behind the ‘expo’, those ‘supporting’ the political side of this event are also all known to me. There is the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). A group that is riddled with those who believe Jews are evil, rule the world and didn’t actually suffer a Holocaust at all. The Palestine Return Centre, that ran the event that saw Gerald Kaufman suggest ‘Jewish money‘ control’s the UK government. Or the Queen Mary University, where I saw Jewish students with a question stand accused of being ‘paid’ and controlled by the Israeli embassy.
How about the P21 Gallery, a regular venue for anti-Israel activism, that saw Miko Peled blame Zionist Jews for deliberately creating Islamophobia and is used to having its room full of hard-core antisemites. The UCLU, that saw an intimidating attack on its own Jewish students last year. How about Friends of Al Aqsa, that believes Jews should be subordinate. Have I mentioned SOAS yet? I have been living inside this venomous pit for a while now. I recognise the poison.
So I chose not to engage with this hatred. I wanted to enjoy the ‘cultural’ aspect. I spent years living and working with real Palestinians. Not the fake wannabee ‘solidarity type’, but those who live in Ramallah, Jericho and Gaza. Those Arabs and the Israelis are neighbours. I lived nineteen years in the Middle East. Why would I not want to go to this event. Why should I not feel at home?
I walked around the upper floors, and because of the time, I went upstairs to eat. This action was to see me thrown out.
The vast majority of the crowd seemed Muslim. I would guess the split was 80/20. Perhaps even higher. The pool of white British anti-Israel activists is limited, so at an event like this they get swamped. The dining area was full, and there was a logistical issue with the kitchen. It was taking a long time to bring food to some of the stalls.
I was spotted by members of a local anti-Israel group ‘London Palestine Action’. I saw an activist called ‘Andrew Nelis’ before he saw me. I then saw Jackie Walker enter the room and start talking to him. They began looking over in my direction. Then Tony Greenstein showed up. I am never confrontational, never impolite. I walked over to say yes ‘this is me’. If they sought engagement. I am always willing to talk. Greenstein didn’t seem to believe I was there for the food. So I went to sit back down.
Jackie Walker chose to come to the table I was sitting at. Greenstein followed. Walker then began to tell the other two attendees already present at the table (see image) how I call events like this ‘hate fests’. I always seek dialogue and discussion, I was polite, on topic and suggested we meet up for coffee it she wanted a proper discussion. I responded nicely to everything was said. I was there with my family.
What I wanted to do was to relax. I wasn’t going to be allowed to though. A few months a go Walker shared an image of me online, telling people to report me when spotted. Such is the life of being an independent member of the press that these people do not like. A few minutes passed and Andrew Nelis returned. Security was with him. I am asked to leave. I ask on what grounds – none given. “I want to know” I respond. “write a letter” is what I am told.
This was clearly wrong. I am sitting eating lunch at a cultural event in a public building, I have several activists who claim to be upholders of ‘free speech’ come to the table and I am evicted. I looked straight at Jackie Walker who said clearly “I don’t agree with this”. I think for a split second she understood it looked bad. Then, as I turned away to leave I suddenly I heard her shout ‘How dare you’ at me ‘and ‘Liar’. I am not sure whether she spied a camera, but the comment was entirely out of context which what had occurred. Did she really want to create an image of me being evicted after having said something unacceptable? A viral video for her to use? Jackie, I know you will read this – so let us be clear – you did yourself no favours, but the offer for coffee is always open.
I left in accordance with the requests of the security team. I told them I was a member of the press, who was being evicted on discriminatory grounds. They apologised, but insisted on politely doing the job they had been instructed to do. I behaved as I always do. I have no idea why I was evicted and I have no intention of accepting this type of discriminatory behaviour.
The aftermath and celebration
What then, do self-declared humanitarians do when someone is evicted on discriminatory grounds? They celebrate of course. This in a blog from Greenstein:
During lunch I and others spotted one David Collier, a Zionist snoop who makes a profession out of defaming activists and groups as ‘anti-Semitic’. He came up when he spotted me all friendly. I asked him how he was enjoying the ‘Jewish hate fest’ that he and his compatriots had called Palestine Expo 2017. He denied this and resumed his lunch, however we called for the security to evict him when he did. His wife was most put out at this attack on freedom of speech, which is rich coming from those whose whole life is spent trying to suppress Palestinian freedom of speech. Given the anti-Zionists are never allowed in Zionist functions and when they are spotted are usually assaulted Mr Collier should be grateful that we didn’t behave like his friends.
An admission I did nothing wrong. Apparently I should be thankful I was not assaulted.
This ‘real time’ post from activist Barry Ackerman:
This a thread after a comment from activist Elleane Green:
Elleanne admits to helping ‘report and identify me’. Nelis is clearly proud. Sandra Watfa is the face of InMinds and has previously used the hashtag ‘jewnitedstatesofamerica’. But on that thread is also a comment from a sitting member of the House of Lords, Jenny Tonge. I witnessed and reported on the event that was to lead to Tonge’s resignation from the Lib-Dems, so it is possible Tonge does not think highly of me, but she is still a sitting member of the House of Lords. She is congratulating a fascist style eviction of a person who has done no wrong. Truly disgraceful, from someone who should inherently seek to protect our freedoms, not cheer on those that seek to destroy them.
Not the only one
I later found out I was not the only Zionist Jew evicted. Someone named Jason was inside the event, had attended speeches and had wandered around unhindered *until* he wore a Jewish head covering. Ten minutes later, he was evicted:
There is absolutely no excuse for allowing this type of hatred to go ahead in Central London. A celebration of the marriage between Islamists who refuse to accept a self-defining Jewish presence, Marxists who are inevitably at war with the self-determination of Jews, and hard-core antisemites, who just do not like Jews however they are defined.
Nor is there any way people should be evicted from these events on discriminatory grounds.
The videos of the event speeches are flowing freely on social media, thousands attended the event, and the hatred of Israel and Jews has just received a government assisted boost in the arm. We all know the hate is there. We all know there is a network of groups who have issues with Jews. What on earth was the reasoning behind allowing them to takeover a public building such as the QEII in London?
Our Jewish children are no longer welcome at the heart of the Democratic Estate in a building owned by Her Majesty’s Government. Why? Because the people inside do not want them there. No further excuse necessary. Just a month after Hezbollah flags were being waved in Oxford Street, Jew hate was allowed a weekend of celebration at the QEII. There is perhaps something symbolic in this, From Oxford Street to Parliament Square. The Jew hating flags have moved ever closer to the UK Parliament.
- Jackie Walker’s Select Cuts (John-Paul Pagano)
- Palestine Solidarity Campaign: A case study in the correlation between anti-Zionism and antisemitism (UK Media Watch)