Our London-based Keeptalking group held a packed-out meeting on 3rd October for the popular Israeli-Palestine speaker and author Miko Peled, in St Annes’ church in London. The usual suspects objected of course – although we’re slightly wondering how they got into our email group to hear about the meeting, as we don’t publicly advertise. They published photos of the meeting and started moaning about it. In no time the St Anne’s church caved in and issued an apology. Below is their craven apology with my letter in response (which has received no reply).

Our group now has a website – https://letskeeptalking.home.blog/ although for years we weren’t sure if that was a good idea because of the opposition groups Hate not Hope and Antifa, the free-speech busters, which seek to disrupt it. Normally they only get going if my name  is featured on the program (although our recent public debate about whether we went to the Moon 50 years ago only had my initials NK on, as one of the debaters – but that was enough to get Britian’s only public debate on the subject cancelled in less than 24 hours notice … but I digress!) but here they are complaining about my mere presence …

The above (in no particular order) gives you a flavour of the mega-publicity we are getting. Well done Ian for getting a special 9/11 and 7/7 T-shirt – being shocking your mid-seventies isn’t easy. See the big red arrow pointing at him! He has now graduated to being a ‘hardcore conspiracy theorist’!

Our group has Muslims, Jews and Christians happily mingling together, and you might have thought a church would welcome such a group wanting to discuss the Holy Land. But, no …

i replied 

I replied to them:

Dear Jake Lee,

                                                           St Anne’s Room Hire

KEEPTALKING MEETING ON OCTOBER 3rd

   I’m sorry that your Church has put out an apology (Sunday 6th) for our meeting held in your lovely room last week: we had the brilliant and charismatic speaker Miko Peled talking about the difficult inter-relation between Israel and Palestine, Jew and Arab. As one born in Israel and who was in their army for some time, but who has now become more pro-Palestine, we felt he was in a fine position to comment.

We’re not a political organization and have no collective position on this matter. We were just aware that we had a packed-out room, that everyone loved his talk, and that he had a few well-received books of his to sell.

That is the country where Jesus lived. It therefore seemed to us, rightly or wrongly, that your Church would be suitable to hold the meeting.

You write: “We apologise for the offence that has been caused to members of the Jewish Community.” Why do you believe that it did cause such offence? It was a private group holding a not-publicised meeting, and putting out no report on it. Are you really claiming that holding such a private meeting caused offence to people not there, who had not heard about it?

There are people who wish to block any hint that Palestinians might have some sort of rights, and they are braying that our group is in some way ‘far-right.’ You have written: “St Anne’s absolutely opposes any form of hatred:” Whatever it is that you think you mean by that, are you trying to suggest that our private current-affairs discussion group (which has been meeting monthly for eight years) is somehow pro-hatred?

Miko Peled did say that Israel was an Apartheid state, and that it was wrong that six million Arabs living in Israel had not been allowed to vote. Our group is pro-democracy, so its members are going to tend to approve of such a one-man-one-vote position. Are you really saying, that you regret having allowed a private meeting to go ahead, in which such a pro-democracy anti-Apartheid position was advocated?

Or, do you wish to ban any discussion of politics of the Holy land? Your Apology states that it has “the aim of ensuring it does not happen again” – so, that is what it sounds like: one more nail in the coffin of free speech.

Do you remember the earlier meeting our Keeptalking group held in your lovely church? It was a year ago, in the larger hall downstairs, and was about exploitation of the pop-music business. Again, we all enjoyed that!

I hope that, in reflecting on this difficult matter, you will wonder what Jesus Christ might have advised, rather than taking the path of timidity and prudence.

 yours,

 

 

 

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