Friday 10 March 2017

Turmoils within a CADFA event.

Last Sunday the 5th of March, CADFA organised an event in St Pancras Church Hall to celebrate the International Woman's Day. It was a real success and one of the best event organised by CADFA to whom I had the opportunity to attend so far. However, without the tenacity of the members of CADFA, especially Nandita, this evening would have been cancelled.

Indeed, the celebration was initially planned in the Kentish Town Community Center, old friend of CADFA with whom we maintain very good relations and where was held numerous CADFA events. However, following of the general outcry aroused by the week of the Israeli apartheid, somebody complained to the Camden Council about this evening by pointing at the main speaker, Jenny Tonge.

Jenny Tonge has been a MP for years and is a fervent defender of the Palestinian cause. She was forced to resign from the Liberal Democrat party after some of these words were described as controversial. She was even accused of anti-Semitism although her judgments have always been directed towards the policy of Israel and never to the Judaism. It is not the first person to experience that though.

The reaction of the Kentish Town Community Center (KTCC) was really disappointing. To avoid any problem, they preferred to withdraw very quickly from the celebration and informed us that this one could not take place in their premises. This is very disappointing because the KTCC knows CADFA very well and is aware that any form of racism, the anti-Semitism included, is not admitted by CADFA. This kind of attitude is not to help small organisations as CADFA who fight for worthy causes, here human rights. One must show solidarity. However, it is a common situation in particular when it is about the Palestine issue and the KTCC, which tries to protect itself, remains less to blame that the person(s) who complained using false arguments. Complains were also received by the St Pancras Church Hall which chose to ignore them.

This situation engendered quite a lot of worries to the association and to the participants who had already bought them tickets for the most part. We even organised a meeting during the preparation in case we would have had to face ill-intentioned people which would have wished to enter the room. We also decided to film the celebration to prove the reality of a CADFA event.

To be honest I found Jenny Tonge's speech very moderate, really far from any form of anti-Semitism. Although it is very frequent, I still do not understand why defenders of Palestine such as Jenny Tonge are demonized, defined as extremists or accused of anti-Semitism. To criticise the policy of a country has to be part of free speech.

Aside from those incidents, the event was very pleasant, Jenny Tonge's speech was very interesting and we could enjoy of a magnificent show of Dabkeh and a delicious Palestinian meal.