genocide

Refuting Anti-Semitism Smears with the Reasonableness Test: Part Two

The claims that some of the comments made by critics of Israel are anti-Semitic because of their imagery and language used also reminds me very strongly of the claims made by some of the paranoid conspiracy theorists themselves. For example, Israel has constructed a wall around itself designed to keep the Palestinians out. This is very controversial, and the great British caricaturist, Gerald Scarfe, drew a cartoon of the Israelis building it using the blood of the Palestinians as mortar. The picture was published either in the Independent, or the I. The Israeli ambassador, an odious creep called Mark Regev, immediately declared that the cartoon was anti-Semitic. The inclusion of blood in the picture was a reference to the Blood Libel, the murderous lie that Jews kill Christians and use their blood in the matzo bread at Passover.

In fact, the cartoon contained no reference to this vile libel. There were no references to either the Passover, matzo bread or ritual murder. It was purely about the wall, and the Israelis’ butchery of the Palestinians. But the accusation had the intended effect. The I or Independent caved in and made an apology. But blood and its imagery is a very common image used to portray the brutality of oppressive, violent regimes and groups of all types around the world. It is certainly not confined to Jews. Regev was, of course, making the accusation of anti-Semitism to close down a graphic portrayal of the Israeli state’s brutality, as the Israel lobby has been doing to its critics since the 1980s. But his accusation bears less relation to objective fact than to some of the really paranoid theories that have circulated around America about secret cabals of Satanists plotting to destroy American society from within.

One of these, which surfaced c. 1982, concerned Proctor and Gamble and their logo, as shown below.

As you can see, this shows a ‘Man in the Moon’ surrounded by thirteen stars. According to the rumour, which was boosted through its inclusion by several Southern fundamentalist Christian preachers in their sermons, the imagery reveals that the company is run by Satanists. The thirteen stars represent the thirteen members of a witches’ coven, and the ‘Man in the Moon’ is really Satan himself. Especially as the curls of the figures hair is supposed to show the number 666, the number of the Beast, the Antichrist, in the Book of Revelations. See the illustration below, where I’ve circled where I think these ‘Satanic’ curls are.

Now if you applied the rule adopted by the lawyers for the Israel lobby to the imagery here, you could argue that it is fair to accuse Proctor and Gamble of Satanism, because that’s how its logo and its imagery has struck thousands of Americans. But you be ill-advised to do so, because the company vehemently denies any Satanic connections. It’s actually a patriotic symbol, with the thirteen stars representing the thirteen founding colonies of the USA. The company has also redesigned the logo to iron out those curls, so that they no longer appear to show 666, and engaged the services of other right-wing fundamentalist preachers, like Jerry Falwell, to show that the company is not run by Satanists. They also have a very aggressive legal policy, so that if you do claim that they’re a bunch of Satanists, they will sue. And I very much doubt that the court will be impressed by claims that the company must be Satanic, ’cause somebody can think that looking at their logo.

This is real, Alex Jones, tin-foil hat stuff. And stupid rumours of Satanic conspiracies have real consequences for ordinary people, just like the smears of anti-Semitism have been used to damage the lives and reputations of decent people. We have seen people falsely accused of child sacrifices and abuse, based on no more than fake recovered memories, in scenes that could have come out of the Salem witch hunt back in the 17th century. Some of them have even gone to prison. This is why it is absolutely important that people are always considered innocent until proven guilty, and that accusations of Satanic ritual abuse, and anti-Semitism, should always be held to objective, not subjective standards. The rule that such accusations must be believed, because somebody may think that a person is a Satanist or racist, simply on the way a comment subjectively strikes them, only leads to terrible injustice.

The Israel lobby here are showing the same paranoid psychology that permeates the racist, anti-Semitic extreme right. The type of people, who search the newspapers and other texts looking for proofs that the Illuminati really do run the world. Or that the Zionist Occupation Government really has taken over America and the West, and is attempting to destroy the White race through racial intermixing. Or that Communists have burrowed into the American government.

One of the proofs of this last conspiracy theory was the tiny lettering on the Roosevelt dime. Just below FDR’s neck and extremely small, were the letters ‘JS’. According to the rumour, the letters stood for ‘Joe Stalin’. This rumour first appeared in the Cold War, in 1948, when the scare about ‘Reds under the bed’ was just beginning. But it’s completely false. Oh, the letters are there, but they don’t stand for Stalin. They’re the initials of the coin’s designer, John Sinnock. You can claim all you want that the claim is subjectively true, because liberalism and the welfare state = Communism, or some such similar right-wing bilge. But it wouldn’t stand up in a court of law.

And some Christian fundamentalists in America have also seen in the colours used by state roads signs evidence of a conspiracy to put them in concentration camps. Back in the 1990s there was a rumour panic going around about the colours used in spots adorning the highway signs in Pennsylvania. These were supposed to show the location of the concentration camps, in which true Christians would be incarcerated when the Communists or one world Satanic conspiracy came to power. In fact they showed no such thing. The state’s highway department used the dots as a colour code to mark the year the sign was first painted. This was to show how old the sign was, and so indicate when it should be repainted.

Continued in Part Three.

Afshin Rattansi Asks What Boris Johnson Is Doing in South America

In this short clip from RT’s ‘Going Underground’, host Afshin Rattani raises the question of what Boris Johnson is doing in Chile, Argentina and Peru, and reminds his viewers of the atrocities committed by Chile’s bloody dictator, General Pinochet. Johnson began a tour of these countries yesterday. Rattansi describes all of these countries as allegedly America’s proxies, but particularly Chile. He tells how Pinochet was warmly supported by Johnson’s heroine, Margaret Thatcher. Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected Socialist president, Salvador Allende, in a CIA-backed coup. The dictator was responsible for the murder and disappearance of 40,000 people. There is a sequence, in which Raymond Peredes, the son of the head of the Chilean army under president Allende, describes what happened to his father. He had every bone in his body broken, and was burned with a flame thrower before finally being shot with 20 bullets. His killers, however, did not touch his head, because they wanted him to remain conscious.

Pinochet was arrested by the Labour government after he came to London, following a warrant put out by a Spanish examining magistrate, judge Baltazar Garzon, who charged him with genocide. There is also a clip of Jeremy Corbyn stating that Pinochet does not enjoy diplomatic immunity from the charges, which including hostage-taking, genocide and extraterritorial murder.

But the old brute was defended by Maggie Thatcher, here looking even more aged, decrepit and malignly insane than ever. Thatcher stated that he’d been a good friend and ally of Britain, but now, thanks to his arrest, his health had been broken and the esteem of Britain’s courts around the world damage. So, as you might expect from a Tory premier, who backed Fascists and Fascist death squads throughout Latin America, there’s plenty of sympathy for him and none whatsoever for the tens of thousands he tortured and murdered. After his arrest, he was released by Tony Blair’s government. Rattansi continues that today the country is in the grip of more neoliberal change, which the opposition claims will cause further poverty.

Rattansi goes on to cover Argentina, where he says that Margaret Thatcher arguably helped end one American proxy dictator after she won the Malvinas/Falklands War. However, he states that ‘the bad old days’ could be returning, because the country’s president, Macri, has just taken out a loan with the IMF. Rattansi goes on to report how the president of Peru, Martin Vizcarra, hasn’t been elected yet. He only took power after his predecessor was forced to resign in a corruption scandal. But he was first to welcome US vice-president, when he touched down last week. The clip ends with Pence stating that all Latin America’s problems are due to the president of Venezuela, Maduro.

From this it seems that Boris has gone to these countries, to wee what Britain can pick up once neoliberalism hits these nations once again. In return for loans, the IMF insists that countries approaching it for aid scale down their welfare spending and privatise their state industries, usually by selling them to the Americans. It’s been described as part of the international network of American corporate imperialism. My guess is that Johnson is hoping that we might be able to buy some of the privatised industries in Argentina and also Chile and Peru. And it’s always good to remind people just how nasty Pinochet was, as well as Thatcher’s deep affection for the butcher. This tells you exactly what kind of person Thatcher was, and what kinds of people those who continue to idolise her, like BoJo, are.

As for Blair’s arrest of Pinochet, that was hopelessly bungled. There was a question about it at the time on the Beeb’s News Quiz on Radio 4. Clive Anderson, who is a lawyer as well as comedian and broadcaster, stated that in situations like that, nations are supposed to issue warning notices that particular individuals will not be welcome in their countries and would be subject to arrest before they arrived there. Blair didn’t. Chile did help us during the Falklands War, which is partly why Thatcher defended him. But he was still a brutal dictator, responsible for horrific and indescribable crimes.

*This ain’t rock and roll.  This is genocide

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/05/2018 - 6:06am in

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genocide

*This ain’t rock and roll.  This is genocide

‘If America Knew’ On Attempts to Define Criticism of Israel as Anti-Semitism

Part of the anti-Semitism smear campaign against the Labour party is the attempt to foist upon it and wider society the definition of anti-Semitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which specifically includes criticism of Israel. Although, as Mike points out, the definition only states that such criticism may be anti-Semitic, but not necessarily so in all cases. Nevertheless, this is how the IHRA’s definition is interpreted by the Israel lobby, and why it is being used to attack and smear decent, anti-racists when they object to it or question it. Jackie Walker, one of the vice-chairs of Momentum, was accused and vilified as an anti-Semite, despite her own Jewishness, precisely because she questioned this definition and the exclusive focus of Holocaust Remembrance Day on the Nazis’ attempts to exterminate the Jews, rather than include other races, who had also suffered their own genocides.

The IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism is completely ahistorical and just wrong. Anti-Semitism, as defined by Wilhelm Marr, the man, who coined the term and founded the Bund Antisemiten – ‘League of Anti-Semites’ – in 19th century Germany stated that it was hatred of Jews as Jews, regardless of religion. And this was well before the foundation of Israel. Mike has also several times posted the views of a very senior lawyer on this issue, that this is indeed the proper definition of anti-Semitism.

But this is not what the Israel lobby wants people to believe. And so when Corbyn met the Board of Deputies of British Jews a few weeks ago, after they organised a demonstration smearing Labour and its leader once again as anti-Semitic, they pressured him yet again to adopt the HRA’s spurious definition. If adopted, it would make criticism of Israel and its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Robin Ramsay, the editor of Lobster, discusses this in a recent edition to his article, ‘The View from the Bridge’ in Lobster 75, Summer 2018. His article also points to an excellent piece by Alison Weir of the If America Knew Blog on this history of this attempt to foist the HRA’s definition on America and other nations. It’s at
http://ifamericaknew.org/history/antisemitism.html

The article also includes this handy timeline giving the important dates in the development of this project.

Timeline for creating new Israel-centric definition of anti-Semitism

Following is a timeline of some of the key events in the creation, promotion and adoption of the Israel-focused definition of antisemitism. It provides an outline, but does not include every step of the process, all the key players, or every action.

1991 – Jean Kahn is elected president of the European Jewish Congress at its plenary session in Israel. He announces an ambitious agenda, including demonstrating solidarity with Israel and European countries coordinating legislation to outlaw antisemitism.
1997 – Kahn “convinces 15 heads of state” to create the The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia to focus on “racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.”
2000 – The Monitoring Centre issues a position paper calling for the definition of antisemitic offenses to be “improved.”
2003 – Israel’s minister for diaspora affairs Natan Sharansky founds the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism, stating: “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.”
2004 – Sharansky, who is also chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, issues a position paper that lays out the “3-D Test of Anti-Semitism:” statements that “demonize” Israel, apply a “double standard” or “delegitimize” Israel are “antisemitic.” These will form the blueprint for new definitions adopted by lobbying organizations and finally governments.
2004 – US Congress passes law establishing special office and envoy in the State Department to monitor antisemitism that includes statements about Israel under this rubric. (Sharansky is witness at Congressional hearing.)
2004 – American Jewish Committee directors Kenneth Stern and Rabbi Andrew “ Andy” Baker work with Israeli professor Dina Porat to draft a new antisemitism definition and push the Monitoring Centre to adopt it, according to Stern. Their draft drew on Sharansky’s 3 D’s.
2005 – Monitoring Centre issues a “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism” that includes Sharansky’s 3 D’s, based on Stern et al’s draft. While standard dictionary definitions of antisemitism didn’t even mention Israel, fully half of the newly devised Monitoring Centre definition referred to Israel.
2007 – UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) adopts the new antisemitism definition focused on Israel, after pro-Israel students introduce a motion misleadingly entitled “AntiRacism: Challenging Racism on Campus and in Our Communities.” Some student unions at various UK universities then follow suit.
2008 – The first U.S. State Department Special Envoy on antisemitism, Greg Rickman, endorses the Monitoring Centre working definition in State Department report to Congress. (Rickman later went to work for AIPAC.)
2009 – The Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (CCA), which brings together parliamentarians from around the world, issues the London Declaration signed by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and others. The Declaration calls on governments to use the Monitoring Centre definition and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.” US Congressmen Ted Deutch and Chris Smith are members of the CCA’s steering committee.
2010 – Second US State Department Special Envoy on antisemitism Hanna Rosenthal officially adopts European Monitoring Centre definition; this is subsequently referred to as the State Department definition of antisemitism. Rosenthal creates course on antisemitism using this definition to train Foreign Service Officers.
2012 – Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law is founded and immediately begins promoting the new definition. Within a year it launches an initiative to establish student chapters at law schools throughout the U.S.
2013 – Successor organization to the European Monitoring Centre (called the European Fundamental Rights Agency) quietly drops the working definition from its website. When questioned about this, the agency’s director says the organization had “no mandate to develop its own definitions.” (Groups using the definition continue to use it.)
2014 – Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with help from Ira Forman and Nicholas Dean of the U.S. Department of State, initiates efforts for another agency to adopt and promote the working definition of antisemitism.
2015 – European Commission creates a special position to coordinate work on combating antisemitism, appointing German Katharina von Schnurbein to the post. Schnurbein proceeds to promote use of the Israel-centric definition.
2015 – Indiana University passes resolution denouncing “anti-Semitism as defined by the United States State Department and will not fund or participate in activities that promote anti-Semitism or that ‘undermine the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.’” University of California Santa Barbara and UCLA also pass such resolutions.
2016 – The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), consisting of 31 Member Countries, adopts the definition; the goal is to inspire others to also adopt “a legally binding working definition.” An analyst writes that the IHRA action is “a potentially crucial tool for forcing governments and international agencies to confront and take action.”
December 2016 – U.S. Senate passes law to apply the State Department’s definition of antisemitism to the Education Department, for use in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes. Now the law defines actions connected to criticism of Israel as “religiously motivated.”
December 2016 – UK announces it will formally adopt the Israel-centric definition–the first country to do so besides Israel. UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement during a talk before 800 guests at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual lunch.
December 2016 – Adoption of the definition by the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had been heavily lobbied by the American Jewish Committee, is blocked by Russia. The AJC then says it will push for individual member states to adopt it.
March 2017 – South Carolina House of Representatives passes legislation under which the State Department’s definition “would be used in probes of possible anti-Semitism at state colleges and universities.” The Senate version will be discussed in 2018. Similar bills are being considered in Virginia and Tennessee.
March – May 2017 – Resolutions adopting the Israel-centric definitions are passed by student governments at Ohio’s Capital University and Kent State, California’s San Diego State University and at other campuses around the U.S.
April 2017 –
Austria adopts the definition. (The Austrian justice minister previously announced that the new definition would be used in the training of new judges and prosecutors.)
The ADL, which uses Israel-centric definition of antisemitism, announces that antisemitism has risen by 86 percent in 2017, but includes questionable statistics. News organizations throughout the U.S. report the ADL claim.
Reports that Trump administration budget cuts might cause special antisemitism envoy position to remain vacant provokes outrage among Israel lobby groups and others. Samantha Power calls for entire Trump administration to focus on antisemitism. Soon, Trump administration says it will fill post.
All 100 US Senators send a letter to UN demanding it stop its actions on Israel and connects these to antisemitism.
May 2017 –
Israel-Britain Alliance begins asking candidates for Parliament to sign a pledge that they will support the new definition.

RT: Protesters Say Why They’re Against Trump’s Embassy Move to Jerusalem

Trump movement of the American embassy to Jerusalem has caused widespread protests. Palestinians in Gaza have gathered at the enclosing fence to protest. 59 of them have been killed by Israeli soldiers, and something like a further 200 injured.

In this short video from RT, the protesters state exactly why they are against the movement of the embassy. One young man says its because Jerusalem is a contested city, where 35-40 per cent of its occupants – the Palestinian Arabs – are under occupation. A young woman says that Trump is gambling with the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis, which he has no right to do. The journo then asks Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli parliamentarian, what he thinks. Tibi responds by stating that it is a licensed demonstration, but immediately it began they were attacked, he was attacked, because of the Palestinians, and they were pushed back. He states Jerusalem is occupied territory. It should be the capital of the state of Palestine. The video then shows someone pushing Tibi back, while a woman states that they have tried to arrest the head of the Palestinians in Israel. She goes on to say that they will not allow this, and goes on to insist on their right to protest.

Mike has written a superb piece about the shooting of Palestinian protesters by the Israelis, and the shameful attempts to excuse the Israeli state by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Labour Friends of Israel. He calls out the Beeb for remaining silent and not condemning this atrocity. And he puts up Tweets from ordinary people, including those whom the Board would probably describe as ‘the wrong type of Jews’, who have condemned the Israeli armed forces. He also shows footage of Israelis also protesting the move and the IDF shooting of Palestinian protesters.

Mike explains, despite the probability that the Israel lobby and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism will find this yet another reason to smear him, why Gaza can fairly be compared to a concentration camp. He talks about the Nakba, the Palestinian term for their persecution, massacre and ethnic cleansing when Israel was set up, and that the Israeli state is engaged in a campaign of genocide against them. And he cites and shows various Israeli politicians, who have not minced words and talked about the killing of Palestinians in very bloody terms. One of these is a female politico, who talks about not only killing terrorists and demolishing their homes, but also about killing their entire families. This has sparked condemnation from the people Mike follows on Twitter, which include not only Muslims like Aleesha and Nadim Ahmed, but also Jeremy Corbyn, Craig Murray, who compares the shooting of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers to the Yemeni kids killed by British bombs, as well as Tom London, Shlomo, David Clarke and the comic actor, David Schneider. A number of Labour and SNP MPs also stood outside Parliament in support of the Palestinians, though this is a mere handful compared to the larger number, who kept their mouths firmly shut.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews and Labour Friends of Israel both issued statements blaming Hamas for putting the people of Gaza and the Palestinians up to protesting, thus causing them to get shot. These are nasty, weasel words. Others, including Tony Greenstein, long ago despatched that nasty excuse for Israeli atrocities. Palestinian society is split between a number of political factions. Hamas doesn’t have the absolute totalitarian control to move 40,000 people to the fence enclosing Gaza. What is driving the Palestinians is the simple fact that this is another assault on them, their national identity and their right to their ancestral homes. The Board and LFI also took those statements down when they found they weren’t convincing anyone, but people have taken screenshots of them.

And those trying to defend Israel have also brought back the old excuse that ‘Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East’. There are two answers to this. The first is that it isn’t. Lebanon is also a democracy. It’s different from Israeli and Western democracy, in that the various sects and religions are also guaranteed particular places in their parliament, according to the size of their population in a system known as consociality, but it’s still a democracy. The other argument is that it may be democracy for the Israelis, but it isn’t for the Palestinians. Yes, there are Arab members of the Knesset, and an Arab party is represented, but the Palestinians themselves live under an oppressive system of apartheid. And it shouldn’t matter whether a country is a democracy or not, atrocities are atrocities and the state or government which commits them is just as guilty as any other.

Mike makes it also clear that he feels the reason why no-one in the media is condemning these atrocities, or worse, they’re actually giving their support, is because they’re afraid of being libelled as anti-Semites. He states that these cowed journos shame us all. Mike’s a journalist, who prizes fairness and integrity, for which he was greatly respected by the people in local government when he was a local hack.

And he’s right about this. Norman Finkelstein has said in one of his videos that the Israel lobby has been smearing the country’s critics as anti-Semites since the 1980s. In fact he called them ‘a machine for creating anti-Semites’. And years ago, when the Israeli state started bombarding Palestine, a book came out entitled The Political Uses of Anti-Semitism. It was a volume of essays highly critical of Israel, half of which were authored by Jews. I also remember that one of the people, who spoke out against that was the thesp Miriam Margolies, who said she spoke as ‘a proud Jew, and an ashamed Jew’.

Shlomo, one of peeps on Twitter Mike has reblogged, urges everyone not to believe that Jews are somehow enemies within, who support Netanyahu 100 per cent, and that Jews are as British as anyone else. Shlomo isn’t the only Jewish Brit, who feared that Israel and its actions would result in British Jews being suspected as dangerous foreigners in their own country. Samuel Montague, in his famous memorandum, objected to Balfour’s decision to back the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine for precisely this reason.

As for Jerusalem, the UN resolution that recognised Israel stated that it should be a free city. As al-Quds, it’s the third holiest city in Islam, and so its occupation by the Israelis was bound to be bitterly resented. More than that, the Israeli paper Haaretz published an article a years or so ago reporting that hostility by the Israeli inhabitants against Arab residents was increasing along with calls for them to be expelled. The reporter was appalled at this, and called for a little more tolerance.

Mike’s statement that the Israeli state’s campaign of persecution against the Palestinians is genocide may well draw the ire of people like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, but he isn’t alone in describing it as such. One of those, who includes the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians with other forms of genocide is the Israeli professor at Hebrew university in Jerusalem, who wrote a whole book entitled Genocide. This includes the Holocaust, naturally, though the Israel lobby hate anybody comparing the two. I’ve got a copy of the book on my shelf.

As for the Beeb’s silence, Lobster years ago commented that the corporation ties itself in knots trying to convince itself and others that it’s biased reporting is, in fact, impartial. Peter Oborne, in his Despatches investigation into the Israel lobby stated that off the record, many of the journalists and researchers in the Beeb’s news team complained that there was considerable pressure from management not to criticise Israel. This brings to mind the case of Danny Cohen, a very senior member of BBC management, who shot off to Israel a few years ago complaining of rising levels of anti-Semitism in Europe. Jews weren’t safe, and so should move to Israel. Which is the standard line of the Israel lobby. He’s since come back to Britain, which indicates that anti-Semitism can’t be that rife in Britain.

And then there are the geopolitical reasons, which might influence the Beeb’s culpable silence. Comparisons were made between the creation of Israel and the establishment of Northern Ireland by the Ulster Protestants, and it was suggested at the time that the British government was trying to create a little Jewish enclave amongst the Arabs in the same way that one of Ulster’s cities was a little Protestant enclave amongst the Roman Catholics. Which implies that behind this lies more British imperialism. Especially as Britain’s foreign policy in the region relies on two allies, the Israelis and the Saudis. The Beeb’s the state broadcaster, and it seems to me that it’s reporting reflects long term establishment views. And so they’re not going to be critical of the Israelis, in order to avoid alienating a valuable ally in the region.

And so, despite the horror of ordinary Brits and people across the world, the mainstream media remains silent about these atrocities.

For Mike’s brilliant analysis of the media’s silence and what’s happening, go to his post at https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/15/heres-why-people-are-afraid-to-denounce-the-genocidal-brutality-of-the-israeli-regime/

The Social Hierarchy that Makes Prejudice towards Some Minorities More Acceptable Than Others

Way back on April 23rd, Mike also wrote an article commenting on the near complete media silence over islamophobia in the Tory party, contrasting this with the furore over the supposed anti-Semitism in Labour. Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi had appeared on Robert Peston’s programme to state that islamophobic incidents and rhetoric were almost weekly occurrences in the Tory party. The only news outlet that reported Warsi’s statement, which not even Peston himself commented on, was RT. Which shows just how much we need the Russian-owned broadcaster and supposed ‘propaganda outlet’ to correct the massive bias in our own media.

Aleesha, a Muslim female blogger and political activist, who talked about the massive increase she’d seen in Tory islamophobia, but which went unnoticed and unremarked by the media, and which no one was condemning or acting against. She discussed the vehemently islamophobic comments of the Tory MP, Bob Blackman, Zac Goldsmith’s campaign for the post of mayor of London against Sadiq Khan, and the official EU Leave campaign, which said that Europe has an ‘exploding Muslim population’.

Aleesha further asked

“Why is nobody acting? I have been blocked by Tory councillors and Tory MPs when I call islamophobia out. Why are these MPs and councillors supporting islamophobes? It makes me think that the Tory party has an actual problem with islamophobia, not to mention the dozens of times I’ve been religiously abused by Tories.

“Are we just going to ignore it? When will we give these cases the rightful outrage? Islamophobia is absolutely normalised in British politics and nobody is really doing anything about it. The silence from our politicians shows their inability to act and their legitimation/endorsement of these views. Are we going to act, or are we going to do nothing and let MPs like Bob Blackman host more extremists in Parliament?”

Mike ended his article by referring back to Baroness Warsi’s comments, and concluding that the real reason islamophobia is being ignored is because the Tories love it.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/04/23/sick-of-labour-anti-semitism-lets-talk-about-tory-islamophobia-instead/

As Mike has pointed out repeatedly, racism of all types, including islamophobia, is far more prevalent amongst the Right, including the Tories, than the Left and the Labour party. But the media aren’t commenting on it, and are playing up the supposed anti-Semitism in Labour for purely political reasons. They fear Corbyn’s Labour and its programme of ending neoliberalism, renationalising the NHS, part of the electricity grid and the railways, and restoring the welfare state. The Blairites in the Labour party and their allies in the Israel lobby also despise him, not because he is an enemy of Israel, but because he demands dignity and justice for the Palestinians. This also attacks traditional geopolitics in the region, where the West has supported Israel and Saudi Arabia against Russia and the surrounding Arab nations. As a result, the Tories, the media, the Israel lobby and the Thatcherite Labour Right, the Blairites, have all seized on the spurious allegations of anti-Semitism against Corbyn and his supporters as a way of trying to unseat the Labour leader and marginalise and expel his supporters.

There are also a number of reasons why islamophobia is far also far more acceptable than other forms of racial prejudice. Colour prejudice is one factor. Most Muslims in this country are Black or Asian, and Muslims may also be seen as more foreign than other ethnic groups because historically they lay outside and beyond the European Christian mainstream. While there have been Muslim communities in parts of Europe, like Spain, the Balkans and Russia and the Baltic states since the Middle Ages, they were always marginal communities outside the European mainstream. Europe in the Middle Ages was Christendom. Muslim Spain was part of the Islamic world, as were the Muslim communities in the Balkans which were established after the region was conquered by the Muslim Turks. The Ottoman Turks were an aggressive, expansionary threat to the European Christian states up until the late 17th century. The massacres of Christians carried out by the Ottomans at the end of the 19th century, when the Greeks and Serbs fought their wars of independence, became notorious, and so contributed to this stereotype of Islam as an innately hostile threat. At the same time, the massacres carried by Christians against Muslims was little reported and did not provoke the same outrage.

There is also the legacy of British imperialism, and its conquest of part of the Dar al-Islam in the creation of negative views of Islam and its peoples, followed by the continued instability of the region after independence. The result has been that Islam and Muslims have continued to be seen as a threat completely opposed to Europe and the West. The stereotype has been reinforced by the rise of militant Islam following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Islamist terrorism and highly emotive campaigns by some Muslims in Britain, such as the Iranian fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the controversy over the Satanic verses, and the marches and demands for Pope Benedict’s death after he quoted a medieval Byzantine emperor’s negative comments about Mohammed.

And added to all this is Huntingdon’s ‘Clash of Civilisations’ thesis, which stated that after the collapse of Communism, there would be an inevitable conflict between the West and Islam. Huntingdon’s idea has been taken up by very many on the right, from the Republicans in America to UKIP, the Fascist and Nazi right in Britain and Europe, and now, it seems, a very large part of our own Conservative party.

But a few years ago, one right-wing writer also offered his own views on why prejudice against some minorities was more acceptable than others. He wrote

‘Is there, in effect, an unofficial pack of equality Top Trumps cards? In egalitarian Britain, who has the best minority credentials? They could go something like this:’

He then laid his scheme of how these cards would look as follows:

LESBIANS AND GAYS
Media Connections 9
Victim Status 4
Rarity Value 3
Fear Factor 6
Political/financial clout 8

MUSLIMS
Media Connections 4
Victim Status 6
Rarity Value 4
Fear Factor 9
Political/financial clout 4

JEWS
Media Connections 9
Victim Status 8
Rarity Value 6
Fear Factor 5
Political/financial clout 10

DISABLED
Media Connections 2
Victim Status 9
Rarity Value 8
Fear Factor 1
Political/financial clout 2

GURKHAS
Media Connections 7
Victim Status 5
Rarity Value 6
Fear Factor 9
Political/financial clout 4

TRANSSEXUALS
Media connections 1
Victim Status 3
Rarity Value 10
Fear Factor 2
Political/financial clout 3.

So who was the terrible person, who compiled this league table of marginalised groups? Well, actually it was Daily Mail sketch writer Quentin Letts, in his book Bog Standard Britain: How Mediocrity Ruined This Great Nation (London: Constable 2009), pages 115 to 117. They’re in the chapter ‘Bum Rap’, where he comments on the way the vile homophobia of some Caribbean rap lyrics are apparently considered acceptable, when Lynette Burrows was reported to the cops for homophobia when she questioned on the BBC the right of male gay couples to adopt baby girls. He concluded on this issue that

… it is hard to escape the conclusion that the police leave rap music alone because it has more minority value than the gay people it so charmlessly attacks. Lynette Burrows was collared because she was an easy target and because she was one of the majority. The rappers are more frightening and they have the political Scotchguard of victimhood.

But you could use his grading of the comparative power and victim status of various minority groups to argue that anti-Semitism is far more unacceptable than other forms of racial prejudice, because Jews have a greater victim status and political and financial power. If this came from someone on the left now, they would almost certainly be libelled as an anti-Semite. But there has been no such outcry against Letts. And I hope there isn’t, because I don’t believe he has written anything anti-Semitic.

There is some truth in what he writes, as the majority of Westerners are acutely aware of the long history of persecution the Jews have suffered in Europe, culminating in the Holocaust. Jews are also generally more integrated than some other groups, and Brits have a more positive attitude towards them. Only 7 per cent of Brits in polls say they are anti-Semitic. Many leading businessmen and media figures are Jewish, though this certainly does not mean that the vile conspiracy theories that claims Jews control business and the media are anything but murderous lies. And the anti-Semitic smears of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and the Jewish Leadership Council carry weight, because they are part of the Tory establishment.

Against this, there are still anti-Semitic attacks and harassment. Nazi groups, like the banned National Action in England and the Alternative Fuer Deutschland in Germany have made terrifying speeches calling for the murder and extermination of Jews. And many of those libelled by the Blairites, the Tories and the Israel lobby as anti-Semites are self-respecting Jews, whose only crime is that, like their gentile anti-racist friends and comrades, they support Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left.

Real, murderous anti-Semitism, like other forms of racism, still exists, and Jews have given their support to other marginalised groups suffering racial abuse in the West. The ADL, the American Jewish organisation dedicated to tackling anti-Semitism, for example, also came out in support of Muslims against Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

Thus, for a variety of historical, social and economic reasons, prejudice against some minorities, such as Jews, is far less acceptable than others, such as Muslims. But racial prejudice generally is far more common in the Tory party, and the current attacks on anti-Semitism in the Labour party has far more to do with politics than real anti-Semitism, as shown by the fact that so many of those smeared are genuinely anti-racist and Jewish.

Book Review: Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:37pm in

In Red Famine: Stalin’s War on UkraineAnne Applebaum offers a new comprehensive account of the Holodomor: the famine that led to the deaths of millions of Ukrainians through starvation in the early 1930s. Drawing on archival documents, written and oral testimonies and historical scholarship, this is a valuable addition to our understanding of this devastating and long-neglected event, reccommends Vlad Onaciu. 

If you are interested in this review, you may like to listen to a podcast of Anne Applebaum’s lecture ‘Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine, and Why it Still Matters’, recorded at LSE on 4 October 2017. 

Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine. Anne Applebaum. Penguin. 2017.

Find this book: amazon-logo

The historiography on Soviet crimes is quite abundant, offering myriad interpretations throughout the Cold War and in the period after it. Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine is a new addition to this scholarship, focusing on the tragedy which befell the Ukrainian people under Joseph Stalin’s rule: namely, the Holodomor. This term has been used to define the genocide through hunger perpetrated between 1932 and 1933, causing the deaths of anywhere between 2 million and 12 million people. Some scholars have denied this description of the event by arguing that it was part of a wider famine, which hit other regions as well (Kazakhstan and the North Caucasus), although it is difficult to ignore Stalin’s disdain for Ukrainians, as expressed in his letters to Soviet politican Lazar Kaganovich. Anne Applebaum’s book stands as a synthesis of what has so far been researched, in terms of both archival documents and the expert analysis of various historians. As in her previous studies, she has combined this with written and oral testimonies, leading to a vivid account of the Holodomor. She makes an argument for its genocidal character, yet avoids a conclusion when it comes to the number of dead, arguing that the relative bureaucratic chaos of collectivisation and the Holodomor makes such an assessment impossible.

The author’s interest in the communist world is anything but new. Presently a Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics but with a journalist background, Applebaum’s first book was the Pulitzer-winning Gulag: A History, in which she analysed the Soviet system of forced labour camps, drawing upon the accounts of its victims. Another major contribution is The Iron Curtain, an in-depth analysis of how the communist regimes in Eastern and Central Europe not only took over politics, but also society.

In Red Famine, Applebaum analyses the struggle of the Ukrainian diaspora to make known their national tragedy. The subject first came to public awareness with the 1985 Harvest of Despair documentary. A year later, Robert Conquest published the book Harvest of Sorrow, which was based on the research undertaken at the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University, generating debates regarding the ethnicity of the dead and their estimated numbers in the absence of relevant primary sources. In the following decades, the number of academic publications focusing on these crimes increased. Among these, it is particularly worthwhile to mention Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, Norman Naimark’s Stalin’s Genocides and Terry Martin’s The Affirmative Action Empire. All three emphasise the role that Ukrainian identity played in Stalin’s decisions. Applebaum takes the same approach, focusing on the Bolshevik attitude towards the nationalities drawn together under the Soviet Union, while also explaining how collectivisation became a backdrop to genocide.

Image Credit: ‘The Memory Candle’ monument to victims of the Holodomor, Kiev, Ukraine (Jarosław Góralczyk CC BY SA 4.0)

Applebaum’s analysis of Ukrainian identity starts from the time of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the sixteenth century and the Tsarist Empire (from as early as the ninth century, starting with the Kievan Rus, up to 1917). She argues that in both Polish and Russian, Ukrainian means ‘borderland’: this came to illustrate the future downplay of the distinctiveness of the Ukrainian nation. Moving forward in time to the first years of the Soviet Union, she attempts to explain the paradoxical Bolshevik attitude towards this part of their new empire. Firstly, the experience of the Civil War came to shape the Soviet view of both external and hidden internal enemies. This was a time marked by extreme unrest and division in Ukraine as three big armies fought with little regard for the population. This led to an obvious lack of trust between the emerging national movement (mostly a peasant movement, including the ill-fated 1917-21 Ukrainian People’s Republic) and the Moscow-led Communists. Yet it was something of an ambivalent attitude, as Bolshevik ideology also supported autonomy for the Soviet republics, and for almost a decade there was an effort made towards developing Ukrainian culture and identity.

But, by the end of the 1920s, there were clear signs that the central authorities were planning to close this down. While the ‘Shakhty Trial’ has become the preferred example for Soviet show trials against supposed saboteurs, little attention has been given to the trial of the ‘Spilka Vyzvolenia Ukrainy’ (SVO – Union for the Liberation of Ukraine). This saw around 30,000 people placed under arrest (mostly members of the elite), and marked the beginning of the attack on Ukrainian nationalism and its leadership. In the book, Applebaum manages to illustrate the difference between official discourse and Stalin’s actual paranoia-driven intentions towards internal enemies.

Here, we arrive at the second defining element of the book’s interpretation: collectivisation as the background to the genocide. There has been a tendency in some parts of the historiography (especially in Russia) to explain at least some aspects of the famine through the policies of collectivisation, in a sense making it an unwanted or ignored consequence. While Applebaum accepts that this did in fact worsen the situation of the peasantry, she argues that there was more to the policy. As the food shortages increased, people began reacting in a hostile manner towards the regime, but they were in an already-weakened state due to the annihilation of the elites in the SVU trial. This led to arrests and deportations, while peasants fled to cities.

It is here that collectivisation in Ukraine took a genocidal turn according to Applebaum, as in 1932 Stalin installed a repressive system involving the harsh requisitioning of food, the blacklisting of individuals and the closing down of borders. She ties these efforts of the regime into a double-faceted phenomenon. On the one hand, the regime aimed at breaking any remaining resistance, something which was achieved. On the other, blocking migration was an attempt at hiding the scale of the Ukrainian tragedy to protect the official image of economic and social progress. In reality, as acknowledged in the introduction, Stalin’s policies in Ukraine left millions dead, and the survivors traumatised.

There is little criticism that can be brought to the approach of Red Famine. One issue that could have been better explored is the Polish element to Stalin’s paranoia. While it is mentioned on several occasions, usually in reference to past Ukrainian experience and accounts of the Holodomor, Applebaum does not define it in relation to the regime’s motivations. This aspect is relevant to understanding Stalin’s offensive: there was a genuine fear among the Bolsheviks that Polish national ambitions could pose a threat to the Soviet Union’s territorial integrity. This only served to further increase Stalin’s paranoia with regards to hidden enemies, convincing him that there was a need for a cleansing of Ukraine. Nonetheless, Red Famine is certainly a very useful addition to the existing historiography, offering a gripping account of the disaster befalling the Ukrainian nation in the early 1930s.

Vlad Onaciu is a PhD student in the Faculty of History and Philosophy at Babes-Bolyai University, where he previously finished his BA and MA in contemporary history. His doctoral research focuses on issues regarding the lives of workers in factories during the communist regime in Romania. His academic interests include the history of communism, oral history, international relations (mainly civilisational studies) and nineteenth- and twentieth-century history in general. Read more by Vlad Onaciu.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.


Jody Whiting: Another Victim of Tory Benefit Sanctions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/05/2018 - 6:20pm in

It isn’t just the Windrush Migrants, who have been savagely persecuted by the Tories. They’re just the latest victims in their ongoing campaign to humiliate, degrade and impoverish the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, BAME people, in fact anybody who isn’t rich and a member of the corporate elite.

Whiting was a young mother, who tragically took her life a few weeks ago. She had been thrown off benefits because she missed a jobcentre interview. She had good reason. She was in hospital at the time, being treated for a cyst on the brain. Common sense should tell you that this is a severe illness, and that treating it comes very much before attending jobcentre interviews, or indeed, anything else. The jobcentre didn’t see it that way, and stopped her benefits. Just as they stopped them for so many other seriously ill people in exactly the same situation.

Fearing that she would be unable to cope without state support, she took her own life. She dropped her kids off at school, went to the local forest and hanged herself. She had appealed the decision, and her benefits were reinstated. This came too late for her, after she was dead.

Mike put this up on his blog. It’s been a scandal in Scotland, and someone pointedly shouted to ‘Rape Clause’ Ruth Davidson about her, when she appeared to defend the Tories’ record before the Scots parliament. But Whiting is just one of nearly a thousand or more victims of Tory benefit sanctions, who have either starved to death penniless, or taken their own lives out of sheer desperation. There are so many that I’ve lost count. Stilloaks, one of the great commenters to this blog, has published a list on his site, as have disabled organisations and a number of other left-wing bloggers, including Johnny Void.

Many of these people left suicide notes explaining that they were killing themselves because of benefit sanctions. But all you hear from the Tories, when this issue is raised, is the constant refrain that there is no evidence to link their deaths with government policies.

It’s vile, murderous lie, to cover up what Mike and other bloggers are calling the genocide of the disabled.

Stop the deaths. Vote out May and her murderous crew.

Book Review: The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide by Azeem Ibrahim

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/05/2018 - 11:40pm in

This updated edition of The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide, authored by Azeem Ibrahim, aims to draw further attention to the ongoing atrocities being committed against the Rohingyas in Myanmar and to challenge some of the overarching myths that lie behind the persecutions. While she would have welcomed a deeper engagement with the legal components of the situation from the perspective of international law, Ebru Demir recommends this as a welcome contribution to the literature that will give readers insight into the historical roots of the crisis. 

The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide. Azeem Ibrahim. Hurst. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

The publication of an updated version of Azeem Ibrahim’s book, The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide, is very timely considering the current situation in Myanmar. Ibrahim has written his book with a clear purpose: to draw the world’s attention to the ongoing atrocities. Within the text, the urgency of the situation is constantly underlined, and the international community is repeatedly urged to take steps to intervene and stop the violence. At the start of 2018, international actors have stepped in, resulting in an agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar to start repatriating refugees. Yet, having read Ibrahim’s book, this seems unlikely to address the root causes of the situation and to guarantee non-repetition for the victims.

The book chronicles the events leading up to the current atrocities: readers gain insight into the origins and causes of the persecutions against the Rohingyas, an ethnic minority group living in Rakhine province in western Myanmar. Although there are many other ethnic minorities in Myanmar, why is it that the Rohingyas are specifically subjected to the denial of their freedom of movement, eviction campaigns, controls over family size, forced labour, expulsion from their lands and property, violence and torture?

According to Myanmar’s extremists (including some Buddhist monks and the military regime), the Rohingyas came to the region after 1824, which was the year when British colonisers arrived in what was then called Burma. Today, citizenship is still linked to this narrative, and is given to those whose ancestors were deemed to have lived in Myanmar before 1824. It is believed that the Rohingyas were ethnic Bengalis who arrived in the region because of British influence; since they were pro-British, they were the ones who were given employment in the colonial service and administrative structures. In the book, however, Ibrahim challenges this narrative by presenting official documents dating back to colonial era that prove that the Rohingyas were already living in the country before the arrival of the British. Although it is insignificant under international law as to where distant ancestors originated from when deciding citizenship, this point is nonetheless crucial for illustrating how the nationalist discourse both leads to, and is based on, the distortion of historical facts.

Image Credit:  Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, 2017 (DFID CC BY 2.0)

Ibrahim’s work is therefore especially important in challenging some of the myths surrounding Myanmar and the Rohingya crisis. Another of these is that the Rohingyas have not been denied citizenship or their fundamental rights since the independence of Myanmar in 1948. Between 1948 and 1962, Ibrahim acknowledges that there were some positive steps taken by the Myanmar government: the Rohingyas were treated like any other ethnic group and even had a small number of seats in parliament. However, during the period of military rule of 1962-88, the situation changed and direct persecution began.

Ibrahim explains this shift as part of the economic disaster experienced by the country at that time. According to the author, the military regime was failing to sustain socialism, resulting in economic crisis. As a result:

the regime needed an easily identifiable group it could victimise and against which it could construct wider discrimination. The Rohingyas fitted this role. They were unarmed, ethnically easily identifiable, spoke a non-Burmese language and were Muslims in a country where 90 percent of the population was Buddhist (53).

This shows that while the Rohingyas have not been in a position of permanent ostracism, their circumstances have been deeply connected with those of the country as a whole.

So can we believe that a democratic about-turn will solve the problems of this minority group? The answer is no, and this is another myth which Ibrahim challenges. The revised and updated edition under review here gives an insight into the period after the 2015 elections: ‘the first free polls in the country in decades and […] widely seen as fair’ (144). They were won by (Nobel Peace Prize winner) Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). But has the situation become better after the elections? Unfortunately not. Rather, atrocities have worsened. When we particularly consider the fact that all Muslims were removed from the candidate lists before these elections, we can see one of the reasons behind the failure. Thus, the situation in Myanmar offers another example that shows that democracy should not mean or be regarded as equal to elections only.

The title of the book is very clearly based on the argument that what is happening in Myanmar now is genocide. However, the actual language used in the book is more cautious, for example: ‘The charge in this book is that Myanmar now stands on the brink of genocide’ (100, emphasis added); ‘the situation in Rakhine can be described as almost a text-book case of pre-genocide’ (110, emphasis added); and ‘the book has argued that Myanmar stands on the edge of genocide’ (139, emphasis added). This discourse, scattered throughout the book, creates some inconsistency with the title.

In addition, the book has a standalone section entitled ‘Genocide and International Law’. The main argument of the book is linguistically shaped around a potential genocide, and therefore this section raises one’s expectations in terms of finding a legal analysis of the situation from the perspective of international law. However, this part remains firmly descriptive. Ibrahim discusses other genocides in history in order to illustrate the similarities with the case at hand. Yet, instead of this, more interviews from the field and depictions of the specific circumstances in Myanmar would likely have given greater insight and an opportunity to present further concrete evidence to establish the key component of genocide, ‘genocidal intent’.

All in all, the book is a very welcome contribution to the current literature on Myanmar. It enables readers to comprehend what is happening in the country today and the historical roots of atrocities in the region. As explained at the beginning of this review, the main goal of the book is to draw attention to the Rohingya crisis. In this revised version, Ibrahim makes it clear that an urgent step is needed from the international community. Since the Rohingyas are becoming more and more isolated, new extremist actors within the Rohingyas are emerging: such as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which carried out attacks in 2016 and 2017. Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD and the Myanmar military claim that ARSA has links with Al-Qaeda and/or the Islamic State. There is no doubt that their actions have ostensibly given more ‘rationalisation’ and ‘legitimacy’ to the Myanmar military to continue the atrocities. The recent agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar regarding the repatriation of the Rohingyas sounds like a solution. However, readers of the book will understand that ‘repatriation only’ is unlikely to enable the Rohingyas to be given dignified and equal citizenship upon returning home, if they have a home remaining.

Ebru Demir is a third-year PhD student and Associate Tutor at University of Sussex, Law School. Her research areas are transitional justice; transformative justice; women, peace and security; and peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Read more by Ebru Demir.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


Lobster Review of Pro-Jewish, Pro-Zionist Book Against Israel, and Against Israel Lobby In America: Part One

I found this review of by Lobster’s Tom Easton of Michael Neumann’s The Case Against Israel (Oakland: Counterpunch & Edinburgh: AK press) and James Petras’ The Power of Israel in the United States (Atlanta and Black Point: Clarity Press adn Fernwood Books) in Lobster 52. That issue of the magazine is on line, but it’s one of those you have to pay for. I’ve decided to reproduce it here, because it shows the issues that are really at stake over the anti-Semitism smears against the Labour party. This is about preserving the Israeli state from criticism for its barbarous and murderous campaign of persecution and ehtnic cleansing against the Palestinians, and the way it has built up a powerful lobby to hide its activities through a very aggressive advocacy campaign in the US.

Here’s the article.

In a year in which Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and Gaza were accompanied by more stories of New Labour loans and the arrest (twice) of Tony Blair’s fundraiser and Middle East ‘envoy’ Lord Levy, it would have been good to have seen British publications examining how Israel is bound up with the politics of its allies. But apart from the decision in March by the London Review of Books (LRB) to publish US academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt on the Israel lobby in their country, Britain has no serious recent initiatives on that front.

The New Statesman (NS) made a stab at the job in the 2002, but suffered very heavy criticism for its’anti-Semitism’ from, among others, the then Labour general secretary and now Foreign Office minister and colleague of Lord Levy, David Triesman. In the week that I write this, the award-winning NS political editor Martin Bright describes ‘Blair’s twin shame of Iraq and cash for honours’ as ‘on the one hand, a foreign policy catastrophe; on the other, a classic domestic sleaze scandal’. Several American writers, including one of the two authors under review, try to investigate links between ‘foreign policy catastrophe’ and ‘domestic sleaze’. One wonders how many years will pass before the NS will feel aboe to return to the subject of Zionism and New Labour, and when the LRB will feel able to run a piece on the Israel lobby in the UK.

When journalists and academics tiptoe around this elephant in the front room of British politics they leave a gap in our political understanding that is important for at least two reasons.

The one is that links between Israel and its supporters in Britain are a legitimate subject for inquiry given the extent to which those advocating terrorist tactics here often identify themselves as critics of Israel. If, as Home Secretary John Reid said in October, the ‘war on terror’ now demands the ingenuity shown by Barnes Walls and Alan Turing in opposing Nazi Germany, we are surely under a democratic obligation to ask how matters have come to such a pass that our traditional liberties are being so readily and uncritically jeopardised.

A second reason is that thre ‘war on terror’ agenda has now become indelibly linked in the minds of many with hostility to Muslims, a recipe for serious difficulties in a society as diverse as Britain. This is paralleled in some circles with talk about the ‘clash of civilisations’ stimulated by Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntingdon soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The work of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Jonathan Institute (Lobster 47 et seq) in promoting the ‘war on terror’ agenda to serve the interests of Israel goes back well before that time. But once the Berlin Wall fell, the blame for terrorism switched from the Kremlin and KGB to Israel’s neighbours and Islamic radicalism. Yet virtually all of the British electorate remains in ignorance of the origins and pruposes of this strategy.

These two books by small US publishers are not in themselves likely to change the direction of global politics. But in the extent that they chime with shifting American perceptions of Israel and policy in the Middle East (this is written ahead of the November mid-term elections), they may inform some in that movement for change. As we in New Labour Britain follow the US on so many things, the work of Michael Neumann and James Petras may just tempt the odd British writer and publisher into trying something similar here.

Neumann is a philosopher who, in the first sentence of The Case Against Israel, spells out his biases: ‘Mine are pro-Israel and pro-Jewish’. He says he uses ‘no material from Palestinian sources’ and adds that his book ‘presents the case against Israel, not Israelis’. Having further cleared the decks by telling us of his family’s suffering at the hands of the Nazis and his early predisposition towards Israel, he sketches his main agrument as follows:

‘The Zionist project, as con-
ceived in the 19th and early
20th century, was entirely
unjustified and could reasonably
be regarded by the inhabitants
of Palestine as a very serious
threat, the total domination by
one ethnic group of all others
in the region. Some form of
resistance was, therefore,
justified. That Zionist Jews,
and Jews generally, may later
have acquired pressing reasons
for wanting a Jewish state does
not change this. The legitimacy
of the Zionist project was the
major cause of all the terror
and warfare that it aroused.’

Neumann says what followed did not result from a long-standing territorial dispute between long-established populations. Rather, he says, the Zionists sought

‘to implant an ethnic sovereignty
in what was to them a foreign
land, on the basis of a population
expressly imported to secure that
end. Unlike other occasions for
territorial compromise, this one
did not involve two existing people
pursuing competing claims. Instead,
there was a claim at whose service
a people was to be created by
immigration from outside the area.
That claim was to be pursued against
the existing inhabitants, who had
never thought to advance some claim
of their own against the Jewish
people.’

The writer concludes his section on the birth of Israel thus:

‘The illegitimacy of Zionism
has important implications
for the legitimacy of israel
itself and for the early history
of that state. It was wrong to
pursue the Zionist project and
wrong to achieve it. For that
reason, how it was pursued and
achieved has little bearing on
the fundamental rights and wrongs
of the Israel/Palestinian conflict
…Zionism initiated a process
whose evolution was foreseeable
and understandable. Zionists are,
therefore, to an unusual degree
responsible for the consequences
of that fateful step. Their
project was not like raising a
child who, unexpectedly, turns
psychotic, but like releasing a
homicidal maniac – a child of
ethnic nationalism – into the
world. This is why the blame for
the conflict falls so heavily on
Zionist and so lightly on Palestinian
shoulders.’

But all that, says Neumann, does not argue the case for Israel’s destruction, any more than that fate should befall the United States because it was founded on genocide, massacre and exploitation. He says: ‘Israel’s existence is tainted, not sacred, but it is protected in the same useful international conventions tyhat allow others in the name of peace, to retain their ill-gotten gains.’

Continued in Part Two.

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