The Guardian

After the BDJ, It Should Be the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Who Need to Be Criticised and Investigated

If not broken up altogether, as the malign, libellous and morally corrupt organisation it really is. I’ve commented already on a post Mike put up on Thursday, reporting the barrage of criticism the Board of Deputies had called upon itself from outraged citizens up and down this country. They were enraged at the Board’s comments on the Gaza massacre, and the way they placed the blame, not on the Israeli squaddies, who murdered 60 people and wounded 200 more, but on the victims. Ah, it was all the fault of Hamas, who put all the 40,000 or so Palestinians massing at the fence, up to it. After all, 50 of those killed were members of Hamas.

It doesn’t matter if they were members of Hamas or not. They were unarmed. This makes their killings assassinations, which is the mark of a death squad. Which is Fascism.

Also, what about the 10 that weren’t members of Hamas? They didn’t deserve to die. Not least the baby that was killed when Israeli squaddies threw a tear gas grenade into a tent.

Liberal Judaism and Yachad wrote letters to the Board stating that the Board had grotesquely misrepresented their views. And ordinary, individual Jews were also incensed. One of them was the comic actor David Schneider, who said very plainly that the Board didn’t represent Jews like him.

Mike opened his article with the smug face of the Board’s president, Jonathan Arkush, who he said was soon to be ex-president of the Board.

Well, we live in hope.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/17/huge-backlash-against-supporters-of-israeli-government-over-gaza-massacre/

Arkush is a nasty piece of work, not least for the way he’s weaponised the anti-Semitism smears against the Labour party, and tried to make Corbyn the sole person responsible for it. It’s a lie, as he must surely know, as anti-Semitism has gone down in the Labour party under Corbyn. It’s now lower than in ordinary British society. And as Mike’s repeatedly pointed out, if you want to see real, baying racists and anti-Semites, with the vilest of views, you have to look at the Tory and Tory affiliated web-pages.

But when Arkush and the Board attack the Labour party for being anti-Semitic, this is only a cover for their real concern: to stifle criticism of Israel. And the Israel lobby has been using that smear since the 1980s. So much so that the American Jewish critic of Israel, Dr. Norman Finkelstein, has described it as a machine for manufacturing anti-Semites.

It’s a tactic shared and employed wholesale by the odious Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. And it was explicitly set up to stifle criticism of Israel caused by their treatment of Gaza. It’s founder, Gideon Falter, was left unnerved by the popular opposition to Israel aroused by the bombardment of Gaza in 2007 or so. He did what the Israel lobby always do in such circumstances, and defined criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. Oh yes, in debates the pro-Israel pundits and speakers will allow that Israel should rightly be the subject of criticism where it’s justified. But in practice, any support for the Palestinians is met with outrage, and claims of anti-Semitism. Especially if you call it an apartheid state, or point out just how similar it is to Fascism or the Nazi policies towards the Jews before they embarked on the horrors of the ‘Final Solution’ in 1942.

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism hasn’t said a peep about the Gaza massacre. They don’t represent British Jewry in the same way as the Board, and so there’s no call for them to. But you can bet they’ve been watching the wave of outrage against the Board for its vile comments, and been taking notes, if not names. The Israel lobby hates even the reporting of atrocities committed by Israel or its allies. They alleged that respected BBC foreign correspondents Jeremy Bowen and Orla Guerin were anti-Semites for their reports on the conflicts between Israel and its neighbours. They were particularly upset by Bowen’s report that the massacres of Muslim Palestinians by the Christian phalange in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon were committed by Israel’s allies. Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, described in an interview with Peter Oborne in his Despatches programme on the Israel lobby how he was regularly placed under pressure by the Board demanding that he retract articles on Israeli crimes and human rights violations because they are anti-Semitic.

It isn’t just the Board that needs to be investigated and reformed because of their support for the shooting of unarmed civilians. It’s the entire Israel lobby, including the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Their patrons, as Mike and Tony Greenstein has pointed out, are largely Tories with a history of racism and Islamophobia. And they have been principally involved with the anti-Semitism smears against members of the Labour party, in conjunction with pro-Israel organs like the Labour Friends of Israel. There have been calls for the latter group to be expelled from the party, just as there has been an internet petition on Change.org to have the CAA deregistered with the Charity Commission for being a political organisation, not a charity.

It has been the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism that libelled Mike as an anti-Semite and holocaust denier just because he had the temerity to defend Ken Livingstone. Just like they’ve libelled and smeared so many other decent people, Jew and gentile, even those, who have spent their lives combating racism and anti-Semitism. Even those, who have suffered genuine anti-Semitic abuse and assault themselves.

And just as many British Jews were rightly angered by the Board’s comments about Gaza, so Jewish Brits have also been annoyed by the way the Campaign presumes to speak for them. Especially when its pronouncements are made by gentiles like Luke Akehurst or Stephen Pollard, who then go on to declare that all British Jews, as Jew, must support Israel. They are rightly incensed at being told what they must believe as Jews by those, who aren’t.

Criticism of the Israel lobby should not stop at the Board and its vile president. It has to go beyond, to organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, BICOM and others.

Arkush should be called on to resign for his comments. And so should Gideon Falter, and his wretched smear group be broken up for its similar tactics, libels and goals.

Marx predicted our present crisis; and points the way out – The Guardian, LONG READ, 20 APR 2018, print and audio versions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/05/2018 - 2:35am in

For a manifesto to succeed, it must speak to our hearts like a poem while infecting the mind with images and ideas that are dazzlingly new. It needs to open our eyes to the true causes of the bewildering, disturbing, exciting changes occurring around us, exposing the possibilities with which our current reality is pregnant. It should make us feel hopelessly inadequate for not having recognised these truths ourselves, and it must lift the curtain on the unsettling realisation that we have been acting as petty accomplices, reproducing a dead-end past. Lastly, it needs to have the power of a Beethoven symphony, urging us to become agents of a future that ends unnecessary mass suffering and to inspire humanity to realise its potential for authentic freedom.

[TO LISTEN TO THIS ARTICLE BEING READ OUT, CLICK HERE]

No manifesto has better succeeded in doing all this than the one published in February 1848 at 46 Liverpool Street, London. Commissioned by English revolutionaries, The Communist Manifesto (or the Manifesto of the Communist Party, as it was first published) was authored by two young Germans – Karl Marx, a 29-year-old philosopher with a taste for epicurean hedonism and Hegelian rationality, and Friedrich Engels, a 28-year-old heir to a Manchester mill.

As a work of political literature, the manifesto remains unsurpassed. Its most infamous lines, including the opening one (“A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism”), have a Shakespearean quality. Like Hamlet confronted by the ghost of his slain father, the reader is compelled to wonder: “Should I conform to the prevailing order, suffering the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortune bestowed upon me by history’s irresistible forces? Or should I join these forces, taking up arms against the status quo and, by opposing it, usher in a brave new world?”

For Marx and Engels’ immediate readership, this was not an academic dilemma, debated in the salons of Europe. Their manifesto was a call to action, and heeding this spectre’s invocation often meant persecution, or, in some cases, lengthy imprisonment. Today, a similar dilemma faces young people: conform to an established order that is crumbling and incapable of reproducing itself, or oppose it, at considerable personal cost, in search of new ways of working, playing and living together? Even though communist parties have disappeared almost entirely from the political scene, the spirit of communism driving the manifesto is proving hard to silence.

To see beyond the horizon is any manifesto’s ambition. But to succeed as Marx and Engels did in accurately describing an era that would arrive a century-and-a-half in the future, as well as to analyse the contradictions and choices we face today, is truly astounding. In the late 1840s, capitalism was foundering, local, fragmented and timid. And yet Marx and Engels took one long look at it and foresaw our globalised, financialised, iron-clad, all-singing-all-dancing capitalism. This was the creature that came into being after 1991, at the very same moment the establishment was proclaiming the death of Marxism and the end of history.

Of course, the predictive failure of The Communist Manifesto has long been exaggerated. I remember how even leftwing economists in the early 1970s challenged the pivotal manifesto prediction that capital would “nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere”. Drawing upon the sad reality of what were then called third world countries, they argued that capital had lost its fizz well before expanding beyond its “metropolis” in Europe, America and Japan.

Empirically they were correct: European, US and Japanese multinational corporations operating in the “peripheries” of Africa, Asia and Latin America were confining themselves to the role of colonial resource extractors and failing to spread capitalism there. Instead of imbuing these countries with capitalist development (drawing “all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation”), they argued that foreign capital was reproducing the development of underdevelopment in the third world. It was as if the manifesto had placed too much faith in capital’s ability to spread into every nook and cranny. Most economists, including those sympathetic to Marx, doubted the manifesto’s prediction that “exploitation of the world-market” would give “a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country”.

As it turned out, the manifesto was right, albeit belatedly. It would take the collapse of the Soviet Union and the insertion of two billion Chinese and Indian workers into the capitalist labour market for its prediction to be vindicated. Indeed, for capital to globalise fully, the regimes that pledged allegiance to the manifesto had first to be torn asunder. Has history ever procured a more delicious irony?

Anyone reading the manifesto today will be surprised to discover a picture of a world much like our own, teetering fearfully on the edge of technological innovation. In the manifesto’s time, it was the steam engine that posed the greatest challenge to the rhythms and routines of feudal life. The peasantry were swept into the cogs and wheels of this machinery and a new class of masters, the factory owners and the merchants, usurped the landed gentry’s control over society. Now, it is artificial intelligence and automation that loom as disruptive threats, promising to sweep away “all fixed, fast-frozen relations”. “Constantly revolutionising … instruments of production,” the manifesto proclaims, transform “the whole relations of society”, bringing about “constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation”.

For Marx and Engels, however, this disruption is to be celebrated. It acts as a catalyst for the final push humanity needs to do away with our remaining prejudices that underpin the great divide between those who own the machines and those who design, operate and work with them. “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned,” they write in the manifesto of technology’s effect, “and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind”. By ruthlessly vaporising our preconceptions and false certainties, technological change is forcing us, kicking and screaming, to face up to how pathetic our relations with one another are.

Today, we see this reckoning in millions of words, in print and online, used to debate globalisation’s discontents. While celebrating how globalisation has shifted billions from abject poverty to relative poverty, venerable western newspapers, Hollywood personalities, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, bishops and even multibillionaire financiers all lament some of its less desirable ramifications: unbearable inequality, brazen greed, climate change, and the hijacking of our parliamentary democracies by bankers and the ultra-rich.

None of this should surprise a reader of the manifesto. “Society as a whole,” it argues, “is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other.” As production is mechanised, and the profit margin of the machine-owners becomes our civilisation’s driving motive, society splits between non-working shareholders and non-owner wage-workers. As for the middle class, it is the dinosaur in the room, set for extinction.

At the same time, the ultra-rich become guilt-ridden and stressed as they watch everyone else’s lives sink into the precariousness of insecure wage-slavery. Marx and Engels foresaw that this supremely powerful minority would eventually prove “unfit to rule” over such polarised societies, because they would not be in a position to guarantee the wage-slaves a reliable existence. Barricaded in their gated communities, they find themselves consumed by anxiety and incapable of enjoying their riches. Some of them, those smart enough to realise their true long-term self-interest, recognise the welfare state as the best available insurance policy. But alas, explains the manifesto, as a social class, it will be in their nature to skimp on the insurance premium, and they will work tirelessly to avoid paying the requisite taxes.

Is this not what has transpired? The ultra-rich are an insecure, permanently disgruntled clique, constantly in and out of detox clinics, relentlessly seeking solace from psychics, shrinks and entrepreneurial gurus. Meanwhile, everyone else struggles to put food on the table, pay tuition fees, juggle one credit card for another or fight depression. We act as if our lives are carefree, claiming to like what we do and do what we like. Yet in reality, we cry ourselves to sleep.

Do-gooders, establishment politicians and recovering academic economists all respond to this predicament in the same way, issuing fiery condemnations of the symptoms (income inequality) while ignoring the causes (exploitation resulting from the unequal property rights over machines, land, resources). Is it any wonder we are at an impasse, wallowing in hopelessness that only serves the populists seeking to court the worst instincts of the masses?

With the rapid rise of advanced technology, we are brought closer to the moment when we must decide how to relate to each other in a rational, civilised manner. We can no longer hide behind the inevitability of work and the oppressive social norms it necessitates. The manifesto gives its 21st-century reader an opportunity to see through this mess and to recognise what needs to be done so that the majority can escape from discontent into new social arrangements in which “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”. Even though it contains no roadmap of how to get there, the manifesto remains a source of hope not to be dismissed.

If the manifesto holds the same power to excite, enthuse and shame us that it did in 1848, it is because the struggle between social classes is as old as time itself. Marx and Engels summed this up in 13 audacious words: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”

From feudal aristocracies to industrialised empires, the engine of history has always been the conflict between constantly revolutionising technologies and prevailing class conventions. With each disruption of society’s technology, the conflict between us changes form. Old classes die out and eventually only two remain standing: the class that owns everything and the class that owns nothing – the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

This is the predicament in which we find ourselves today. While we owe capitalism for having reduced all class distinctions to the gulf between owners and non-owners, Marx and Engels want us to realise that capitalism is insufficiently evolved to survive the technologies it spawns. It is our duty to tear away at the old notion of privately owned means of production and force a metamorphosis, which must involve the social ownership of machinery, land and resources. Now, when new technologies are unleashed in societies bound by the primitive labour contract, wholesale misery follows. In the manifesto’s unforgettable words: “A society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.”

The sorcerer will always imagine that their apps, search engines, robots and genetically engineered seeds will bring wealth and happiness to all. But, once released into societies divided between wage labourers and owners, these technological marvels will push wages and prices to levels that create low profits for most businesses. It is only big tech, big pharma and the few corporations that command exceptionally large political and economic power over us that truly benefit. If we continue to subscribe to labour contracts between employer and employee, then private property rights will govern and drive capital to inhuman ends. Only by abolishing private ownership of the instruments of mass production and replacing it with a new type of common ownership that works in sync with new technologies, will we lessen inequality and find collective happiness.

According to Marx and Engels’ 13-word theory of history, the current stand-off between worker and owner has always been guaranteed. “Equally inevitable,” the manifesto states, is the bourgeoisie’s “fall and the victory of the proletariat”. So far, history has not fulfilled this prediction, but critics forget that the manifesto, like any worthy piece of propaganda, presents hope in the form of certainty. Just as Lord Nelson rallied his troops before the Battle of Trafalgar by announcing that England “expected” them to do their duty (even if he had grave doubts that they would), the manifesto bestows upon the proletariat the expectation that they will do their duty to themselves, inspiring them to unite and liberate one another from the bonds of wage-slavery.

Will they? On current form, it seems unlikely. But, then again, we had to wait for globalisation to appear in the 1990s before the manifesto’s estimation of capital’s potential could be fully vindicated. Might it not be that the new global, increasingly precarious proletariat needs more time before it can play the historic role the manifesto anticipated? While the jury is still out, Marx and Engels tell us that, if we fear the rhetoric of revolution, or try to distract ourselves from our duty to one another, we will find ourselves caught in a vertiginous spiral in which capital saturates and bleaches the human spirit. The only thing we can be certain of, according to the manifesto, is that unless capital is socialised we are in for dystopic developments.

On the topic of dystopia, the sceptical reader will perk up: what of the manifesto’s own complicity in legitimising authoritarian regimes and steeling the spirit of gulag guards? Instead of responding defensively, pointing out that no one blames Adam Smith for the excesses of Wall Street, or the New Testament for the Spanish Inquisition, we can speculate how the authors of the manifesto might have answered this charge. I believe that, with the benefit of hindsight, Marx and Engels would confess to an important error in their analysis: insufficient reflexivity. This is to say that they failed to give sufficient thought, and kept a judicious silence, over the impact their own analysis would have on the world they were analysing.

The manifesto told a powerful story in uncompromising language, intended to stir readers from their apathy. What Marx and Engels failed to foresee was that powerful, prescriptive texts have a tendency to procure disciples, believers – a priesthood, even – and that this faithful might use the power bestowed upon them by the manifesto to their own advantage. With it, they might abuse other comrades, build their own power base, gain positions of influence, bed impressionable students, take control of the politburo and imprison anyone who resists them.

Similarly, Marx and Engels failed to estimate the impact of their writing on capitalism itself. To the extent that the manifesto helped fashion the Soviet Union, its eastern European satellites, Castro’s Cuba, Tito’s Yugoslavia and several social democratic governments in the west, would these developments not cause a chain reaction that would frustrate the manifesto’s predictions and analysis? After the Russian revolution and then the second world war, the fear of communism forced capitalist regimes to embrace pension schemes, national health services, even the idea of making the rich pay for poor and petit bourgeois students to attend purpose-built liberal universities. Meanwhile, rabid hostility to the Soviet Union stirred up paranoia and created a climate of fear that proved particularly fertile for figures such as Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot.

I believe that Marx and Engels would have regretted not anticipating the manifesto’s impact on the communist parties it foreshadowed. They would be kicking themselves that they overlooked the kind of dialectic they loved to analyse: how workers’ states would become increasingly totalitarian in their response to capitalist state aggression, and how, in their response to the fear of communism, these capitalist states would grow increasingly civilised.

Blessed, of course, are the authors whose errors result from the power of their words. Even more blessed are those whose errors are self-correcting. In our present day, the workers’ states inspired by the manifesto are almost gone, and the communist parties disbanded or in disarray. Liberated from competition with regimes inspired by the manifesto, globalised capitalism is behaving as if it is determined to create a world best explained by the manifesto.

What makes the manifesto truly inspiring today is its recommendation for us in the here and now, in a world where our lives are being constantly shaped by what Marx described in his earlier Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts as “a universal energy which breaks every limit and every bond and posits itself as the only policy, the only universality, the only limit and the only bond”. From Uber drivers and finance ministers to banking executives and the wretchedly poor, we can all be excused for feeling overwhelmed by this “energy”. Capitalism’s reach is so pervasive it can sometimes seem impossible to imagine a world without it. It is only a small step from feelings of impotence to falling victim to the assertion there is no alternative. But, astonishingly (claims the manifesto), it is precisely when we are about to succumb to this idea that alternatives abound.

What we don’t need at this juncture are sermons on the injustice of it all, denunciations of rising inequality or vigils for our vanishing democratic sovereignty. Nor should we stomach desperate acts of regressive escapism: the cry to return to some pre-modern, pre-technological state where we can cling to the bosom of nationalism. What the manifesto promotes in moments of doubt and submission is a clear-headed, objective assessment of capitalism and its ills, seen through the cold, hard light of rationality.

The manifesto argues that the problem with capitalism is not that it produces too much technology, or that it is unfair. Capitalism’s problem is that it is irrational. Capital’s success at spreading its reach via accumulation for accumulation’s sake is causing human workers to work like machines for a pittance, while the robots are programmed to produce stuff that the workers can no longer afford and the robots do not need. Capital fails to make rational use of the brilliant machines it engenders, condemning whole generations to deprivation, a decrepit environment, underemployment and zero real leisure from the pursuit of employment and general survival. Even capitalists are turned into angst-ridden automatons. They live in permanent fear that unless they commodify their fellow humans, they will cease to be capitalists – joining the desolate ranks of the expanding precariat-proletariat.

If capitalism appears unjust it is because it enslaves everyone, rich and poor, wasting human and natural resources. The same “production line” that pumps out untold wealth also produces deep unhappiness and discontent on an industrial scale. So, our first task – according to the manifesto – is to recognise the tendency of this all-conquering “energy” to undermine itself.

When asked by journalists who or what is the greatest threat to capitalism today, I defy their expectations by answering: capital! Of course, this is an idea I have been plagiarising for decades from the manifesto. Given that it is neither possible nor desirable to annul capitalism’s “energy”, the trick is to help speed up capital’s development (so that it burns up like a meteor rushing through the atmosphere) while, on the other hand, resisting (through rational, collective action) its tendency to steamroller our human spirit. In short, the manifesto’s recommendation is that we push capital to its limits while limiting its consequences and preparing for its socialisation.

We need more robots, better solar panels, instant communication and sophisticated green transport networks. But equally, we need to organise politically to defend the weak, empower the many and prepare the ground for reversing the absurdities of capitalism. In practical terms, this means treating the idea that there is no alternative with the contempt it deserves while rejecting all calls for a “return” to a less modernised existence. There was nothing ethical about life under earlier forms of capitalism. TV shows that massively invest in calculated nostalgia, such as Downton Abbey, should make us glad to live when we do. At the same time, they might also encourage us to floor the accelerator of change.

The manifesto is one of those emotive texts that speak to each of us differently at different times, reflecting our own circumstances. Some years ago, I called myself an erratic, libertarian Marxist and I was roundly disparaged by non-Marxists and Marxists alike. Soon after, I found myself thrust into a political position of some prominence, during a period of intense conflict between the then Greek government and some of capitalism’s most powerful agents. Rereading the manifesto for the purposes of writing this introduction has been a little like inviting the ghosts of Marx and Engels to yell a mixture of censure and support in my ear.

Adults in the Room, my memoir of the time I served as Greece’s finance minister in 2015, tells the story of how the Greek spring was crushed via a combination of brute force (on the part of Greece’s creditors) and a divided front within my own government. It is as honest and accurate as I could make it. Seen from the perspective of the manifesto, however, the true historical agents were confined to cameo appearances or to the role of quasi-passive victims. “Where is the proletariat in your story?” I can almost hear Marx and Engels screaming at me now. “Should they not be the ones confronting capitalism’s most powerful, with you supporting from the sidelines?”

Thankfully, rereading the manifesto has offered some solace too, endorsing my view of it as a liberal text – a libertarian one, even. Where the manifesto lambasts bourgeois-liberal virtues, it does so because of its dedication and even love for them. Liberty happiness, autonomy, individuality, spirituality, self-guided development are ideals that Marx and Engels valued above everything else. If they are angry with the bourgeoisie, it is because the bourgeoisie seeks to deny the majority any opportunity to be free. Given Marx and Engels’ adherence to Hegel’s fantastic idea that no one is free as long as one person is in chains, their quarrel with the bourgeoisie is that they sacrifice everybody’s freedom and individuality on capitalism’s altar of accumulation.

Although Marx and Engels were not anarchists, they loathed the state and its potential to be manipulated by one class to suppress another. At best, they saw it as a necessary evil that would live on in the good, post-capitalist future coordinating a classless society. If this reading of the manifesto holds water, the only way of being a communist is to be a libertarian one. Heeding the manifesto’s call to “Unite!” is in fact inconsistent with becoming card-carrying Stalinists or with seeking to remake the world in the image of now-defunct communist regimes.

When everything is said and done, then, what is the bottom line of the manifesto? And why should anyone, especially young people today, care about history, politics and the like?

Marx and Engels based their manifesto on a touchingly simple answer: authentic human happiness and the genuine freedom that must accompany it. For them, these are the only things that truly matter. Their manifesto does not rely on strict Germanic invocations of duty, or appeals to historic responsibilities to inspire us to act. It does not moralise, or point its finger. Marx and Engels attempted to overcome the fixations of German moral philosophy and capitalist profit motives, with a rational, yet rousing appeal to the very basics of our shared human nature.

Key to their analysis is the ever-expanding chasm between those who produce and those who own the instruments of production. The problematic nexus of capital and waged labour stops us from enjoying our work and our artefacts, and turns employers and workers, rich and poor, into mindless, quivering pawns who are being quick-marched towards a pointless existence by forces beyond our control.

But why do we need politics to deal with this? Isn’t politics stultifying, especially socialist politics, which Oscar Wilde once claimed “takes up too many evenings”? Marx and Engels’ answer is: because we cannot end this idiocy individually; because no market can ever emerge that will produce an antidote to this stupidity. Collective, democratic political action is our only chance for freedom and enjoyment. And for this, the long nights seem a small price to pay.

Humanity may succeed in securing social arrangements that allow for “the free development of each” as the “condition for the free development of all”. But, then again, we may end up in the “common ruin” of nuclear war, environmental disaster or agonising discontent. In our present moment, there are no guarantees. We can turn to the manifesto for inspiration, wisdom and energy but, in the end, what prevails is up to us.

Guardian archive 2003: Macmillan backed Syria assassination plot

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/05/2018 - 9:00pm in

Back in 2003 the Guardian still remembered – sometimes – that facts are sacred and even occasionally spoke truth to power. Here it tells the story of the UK’s various conspiracies (there really is no other word) to overthrow the Syrian government in 1957, by means of false flags, “encouraging internal dissent” and assassination of key figures. Can Jonathan Freedland, Nick Cohen et al still claim the West has the moral high ground when fifteen years ago their own paper was proving it didn’t and never had? SOURCE:https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/sep/27/uk.syria1 Documents show White House and No 10 conspired over oil-fuelled invasion plan Nearly 50 years before the war in Iraq, Britain and America sought a secretive “regime change” in another Arab country they accused of spreading terror and threatening the west’s oil supplies, by planning the invasion of Syria and the assassination of leading figures. Newly discovered documents show how in 1957 Harold Macmillan and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s pro-western neighbours, …

Nicholas ‘Fatty’ Soames Uses Homophobic Insult against Owen Jones. No Censure from Tories.

So much for the Tories and their vaunted ‘Respect’ policy. These are the people, who claim that Labour is riddled with anti-Semites and misogynists, all busily insulting nice young Blairites like Luciana Berger and Angela Eagle. Berger has received anti-Semitic abuse and threats, but they’re nowhere near as extensive on the left as she’s claimed. And one Blairite made up her tale of misogynist abuse completely. They exaggerate and lie because it’s convenient for them to say so, in order to cling to power in the Labour Party. And, of course, for their allies in the Tories to cling to power in government.

Allies? Really? Isn’t that going too far? No, not at all. As one terrified local Blairite Labour leader called for Tories and Lib Dems to join her party, in order to stop it being overrun by the ‘far left’, by which she means Momentun and mainstream social democrats, and the Blairites stand for exactly the same policies as the Tories – privatisation and welfare cuts – it’s fair to describe them as exactly that.

Jones had written an article criticising the mainstream media for living in the London bubble. It ignores everything outside the capital, and is dominated by groupthink. It is also full of mediocrities and incompetents, who got there not on personal merit, but because of who they knew.

Mike was a professional journalist, and brings his own considerable journalistic skills to his blogging. And he entirely concurred. And what Jones said is not remotely controversial, except to offended establishment journos. The Guardian and Independent have talked about how national journalism is dominated by London. Just as so many of the leading journos were also friends and neighbours of Dave Cameron in the Cotswolds. I noticed long ago that some of the stories that got into the national press about burglaries and murders were only in there, because they occurred in London. The same crimes are perpetrated all over the country, but these cases were only considered worthy of national news because they took place in the nation’s capital.

As for groupthink and classicism, you can see it. The mainstream media all follow the establishment line that unquestioningly accepts the need for austerity, and gets very shrill and upset when somebody else does. You look at the backgrounds of the main journos, and you’ll see that the majority of them are very comfortably upper-middle class with family connections to the press and media. Paul Dacre’s father was another hack with the Mail, when he was writing admiring stories about Hitler in the ’30s, for example. The editor of the Scum is an old Etonian.

And what makes this situation worse, though Jones didn’t mention it, is that the industry relies heavily on unpaid interns. The worst offender is the Groaniad, if Private Eye exposes can be believed. It’s very difficult for talented outsiders to break into, and they are being exploited by the hacks and mediocrities above them.

This was all too much for the establishment journos, who all dogpiled into Jones to revile him. And the odious Soames was in there as well, calling him by a homophobic epithet. Jones is gay, and Soames called him a ‘sh*tweasel’. According to the Urban Dictionary, this is someone who inserts his penis up another’s bottom by surprise without warning. So pretty much an anal rapist, then.

It’s an ugly term, and an ugly slur. Mike considers the possibility that Soames may not have known what it meant, and though it just meant he was someone who stabbed people in the back, in the conventional way.

Not an excuse.

Not that Soames is exactly a stranger to controversy. I can remember how he was all over the News Quiz on Radio 4 under Major for his monstrously bigoted comments.

But the silence about this from the Tories and the mainstream media is deafening. As Mike points out, you can imagine the howls of outrage from the Tories and the mainstream press if this had come from a Labour MP, and directed at a Tory or Blairite. Especially with the upcoming debate on anti-Semitism. But when it’s good, right-wing Tories making such comments, there’s nothing.

So much for the new Tory embrace of the gay community. Well, I can remember how, over a decade ago, backbench Tory after backbench Tory had to resign after making homophobic and racist comments. Cameron said he was going to clean it all out as part of his campaign to modernise the party. He clearly hasn’t, as Soames remark shows.

The Tories are an organised hypocrisy, and this shows once again how corrupt and partisan the mainstream press are. Get them out.

The Guardian, “Russian bots” and the dehumanisation of dissent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/04/2018 - 11:30pm in

Heather Stewart, The Guardian's chief stenographer political editor, has copied and pasted a press release written a new article all about "Russian bots". The trouble is she doesn't seem to know what either of these words actually means.

Viktor Orban Goes Conspiracy-Theorist Fascist about George Soros

Earlier this week, Mike put up a piece showing the Tories’ hypocrisy over the anti-Semitism smears. While happy to smear Corbyn’s Labour as full of Jew haters and Nazis and demanding the strongest possible action, the Tories are not so eager to do anything about the greater number of anti-Semites and racists in their own. And indeed, the party very frequently indulges in coded and overt racism, and has no problems congratulating some very nasty foreign heads of state, who are vehemently anti-Semitic.

Like Viktor Orban, the president of Hungary and head of the ruling Fidesz party. This is a far-right, Christian party with a very nasty line in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. A little while ago he spouting about how the invading Muslims hordes, or for the rest of us, brutalised refugees fleeing Syria would never be allowed into Hungary. He’s especially fixated with George Soros. Soros is, of course, an international financier, and the sponsor of several pro-democracy organisations and courses in Hungarian universities. He’s also of Hungarian Jewish descent, and because Soros is very definitely anti-Fascist, Orban naturally hates him with a passion. Mike’s article pointed out how Orban’s speech was very similar, and used all the tropes the Nazis and other Fascist groups since then have used about ‘Jewish bankers’.

This did not stop the Tories trying to cosy up to him. Boris Johnson sent him a message congratulating him on his election victory. Which shows you just how seriously the Tories really take anti-Semitism and real racism when it suits them. But I’m not surprised. The people making these accusations against Labour are massively hypocritical. The current Polish president is also the head of another anti-Semitic party. But this didn’t stop Stephen Pollard, of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, writing an article in the Groaniad claiming that he wasn’t, because he was ‘a good friend of Israel’. The Polish supremo had just signed a deal to buy a whole load of Israeli military jets. I’ve got a feeling that Orban’s Hungary has just done the same, or something similar. For the Israel Lobby, and its very Tory, establishment members, it’s only anti-Semitic if it criticises Israel. Otherwise, their perfectly happy with viciously anti-Semitic regimes.

Soros himself has a very good reason to despise Israel. He loathes Zionism because of the way Kasztner, the head of the Zionists in Hungary, allowed the Nazis to deport tens of thousands of Jews to the gas chambers, just so a few could be sent to Israel. But obviously, this isn’t an episode of Zionist history Pollard, Arkush, Goldstein and the rest of the Israel lobby want you to know about, or else they’ll throw another wobbly and accuse whoever tells them of being ‘anti-Semitic’.

But I digress. Now it seems, Orban has gone full Alex Jones, conspiracy-theory nutjob. One of the Hungarian magazines has apparently published an article, according to the I, in which he names 200 groups and individuals he brands as ‘mercenaries’ in the pay of George Soros. These include respected human rights organisations. We’re back to the Nazis and their claim that democracy is a ‘Jewish plot to enslave the Aryan man’. Okay, so in this case, it’s Hungarians, not Germans, but the reasoning is exactly the same.

Orban is repeating the lies and murderous conspiracy theories of the Nazis with his venomous fixation on Soros. Reading such stuff, you can almost go through it ticking off the similarities. It’s vile, terrifying stuff. But the Tory party and the Israel lobby will love him, defend and congratulate him, because, like the Polish premier, ‘he’s a good friend to Israel’. He might be, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a Jew hater. He’s a vile anti-Semite, and this shows their utter hypocrisy. And its high time the Tories and the Israel lobby were held to account for their own amoral attitudes supporting him and other Fascists.

Kitty S. Jones on Cambridge Analytica’s Datamining of Facebook

Aside from the Skripal poisoning, one of the major issues this week has been Cambridge Analytica and their datamining of Facebook to get the personal particulars of something like 50 million people, so that they could be targeted for political manipulation. Kitty’s article is a long one, but she makes some very good points. Not least is that GCHQ and the other western intelligence services discussed ways of using the internet to target particular individuals to manipulate them or disrupt groups that posed a threat to national security. She also connects this to ‘behavioural economics’ and the infamous Nudge Unit, which uses subtle psychological techniques to manipulate people into making decisions the government wants. With those two, we are well into the kind of dystopian future, where a totalitarian government manipulates the minds of its subjects portrayed in the Beeb’s classic SF series, Blake’s 7. Some of this datamining appears to have been done to benefit Russian oil interests. Michelle, one of the great commenters here, posted this to her piece, commenting on the immense value of personal information on the Net:

“The Wiley disclosure certainly had quite a media make over, he sits in a trendy bare room with a big photo shoot light for the Guardian and in a graffiti tunnel for ITV news, yet with all his intellectual prowess his deductive reasoning interestingly falls short on his employer making a link with Russian oil: “It didn’t make any sense to me,” says Wylie. “I didn’t understand either the email or the pitch presentation we did. Why would a Russian oil company want to target information on American voters?”

REF: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/data-war-whistleblower-christopher-wylie-faceook-nix-bannon-trump

The spotlight on this company must be just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2010 I had blogged about the EU intending to make it clear how internet users would have their digital data exploited and the New York Times had a comment re the intended EU overhaul of privacy regulations. I had written that the publishers value was not based on content or brand but on the information that can be collected about each digital visitor, as we click away our preferences and online patterns are being delivered up to the advertising market because the ability to sell this information about us is the true value a publisher holds. Here is the comment in the New York Times (20 Nov 2010) about the E.U´s intention to overhaul the online privacy rules to protect personal data which would hamper the “development of services” – a great euphemism for snooping:

“Rules requiring Internet companies to secure users’ consent upfront could hamper the development of services that align online advertising with Web users’ personal interests, as reflected in the Web sites they visit or the preferences they express in social networks and other online forums. From a marketer’s perspective, this could dilute one of the big advantages of the Web over traditional media.”

REF: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/05/technology/05privacy.html?_r=2

Evidently the misuse of data has been understood for many years, (as you have pointed out Sue), I also noted in 2010 a New Scientist article: “EVERY move you make, every twitter feed you update, somebody is watching you. You may not think twice about it, but if you use a social networking site, a cellphone or the internet regularly, you are leaving behind a clear digital trail that describes your behaviour, travel patterns, likes and dislikes, divulges who your friends are and reveals your mood and your opinions. In short, it tells the world an awful lot about you.”

REF: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727701-100-social-networks-the-great-tipping-point-test/

So how did the ‘security services’ miss Cambridge Analytica’s flagrant misuse of data when it has been clearly understood even in the public realm for almost a decade? These supposed revelations at this juncture come at a time when the hype to cold war status is already far too high…”

Kitty’s article is at: https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2018/03/18/cambridge-analytica-the-commodification-and-marketisation-of-democracy/

And the Americans are not alone in using Cambridge Analytica, it seems. I found this report by RT about our government also using them and their parent company, SCL, to gather data on us. RT’s presenter, Polly Boiko, states that the two were hired by the Ministry of Defence, and paid for providing staff with training and for keeping government secrets on their computer, amongst other services. Yvette Cooper has demanded a wider investigation into their activities. They have also been hired by some very dodgy governments around the world. Like Kenya, where Cambridge Analytica was hired by the ruling party to gather data on its opponents, and create a psychological strategy that would allow them to hold on to power. The company has been accused of stirring up ethnic tensions as part of this. They were also hired by Ukraine to undermine the breakaway Donetsk Republic. This ended in failure, but the company’s report not only went to the Ukrainians who commissioned it, but was also shared with the British government. She concludes that the next stage of the scandal will probably be the company’s connections to the world’s governments.

This has been touched on today in the I newspaper, which reported that Israel had also hired the company to swing elections Nigeria and St. Kitts and Nevis.

This is a real threat to democracy, but I doubt that many people are paying attention, because of the way May and her team are ramping up tensions with Russia to distract everyone from just how terrible they are. And if the MOD have been using them to gather data on British citizens, then the immediate comparison that comes to my mind is with the Stasi and the other totalitarian secret police. It ain’t Corbyn who’s a threat to democracy, but Cambridge Analytica and their Tory government paymasters.

The Guardian previews my Annual Shakespeare Lecture, tonight (19 March 2018) at the Rose Theatre

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/03/2018 - 7:05pm in

Mark Lawson, in today’s Guardian, previews my Annual Shakespeare Rose Lecture, ahead of tonight’s delivery. He begins with its title ‘Shake the Superflux’ and the statement: ‘The beauty of King Lear is that it encourages us to think about inequality’.

Is Theresa May Macbeth? Might King Lear agree with Jeremy Corbyn? On Monday night, one of Europe’s leading political thinkers – former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis – will tell a London theatre audience the lessons for contemporary politics and economics that he believes can be found in Shakespeare’s plays.

Varoufakis achieved Europe-wide celebrity in 2015 when he attempted to renegotiate Greece’s debt to the European Union during a financial crisis that paralysed his country. The politician resigned after a bailout plan was rejected by Greek voters in a referendum, but has remained a high-profile figure due to his style – he is often filmed riding motorbikes in black leather – and his ideas, outlined in books such as 2016’s And the Weak Suffer What They Must?

His books and speeches have always been studded with Shakespearean quotations, but it is only in next week’s lecture – to be given at the Rose theatre in Kingston, which is modelled on a playhouse from Shakespeare’s day – that the depth of Varoufakis’s investment in the dramatist will become clear.

“We never studied Shakespeare at school because we have our own great playwrights: Euripides, Sophocles,” he told me on the phone from his home in Athens, where he was finishing the Rose speech, and making plans to launch a new Greek party to contest the 2019 EU elections.

Antony Sher as King Lear and Graham Turner as the Fool in the RSC’s 2016 production in Stratford.
Pinterest Antony Sher as King Lear and Graham Turner as the Fool in the RSC’s 2016 production in Stratford. Photograph: Ellie Kurttz/RSC

However, the teenage Varoufakis, knowing that Shakespeare had been influenced by the Greek tragedies, found on his parents’ bookshelves Greek translations of the canon, starting with Hamlet. “I was absolutely mesmerised by it: the play within the play, the prince’s existential angst.”

In the late 1970s, when his parents sent him to universities in England (first Essex, then Birmingham) to escape the Greek military dictatorship of that time, Varoufakis used Shakespeare to improve his English, studying all 37 plays over three years. He even kept a Collected Shakespeare in the bathroom.

King Lear has influenced him most ideologically. Shake the Superflux, the title of the London lecture, comes from a speech in which the English king, seeing his poor citizens helpless in a storm, vows to challenge “superflux” (excess) in society, and, casting off his clothes, becomes at one with the vulnerable. In what political commentators would call a U-turn, the monarch acknowledges that his reign has favoured the wealthy, saying: “I have taken too little care of this.

Yanis Varoufakis leaves the Athens finance ministry by motorbike in 2015.
Pinterest Yanis Varoufakis leaves the Athens finance ministry by motorbike in 2015. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

“The beauty of this speech, and King Lear,” says Varoufakis, “is that it encourages us to think about inequality, and the underlying causes of it. I will end my speech by asking what it would mean to ‘shake the superflux’ in today’s democracies.”

So, if he were running an economy today, what lead would he take from Lear? “Some would say it would mean a wealth tax. But, for me, the inequalities that we are facing are a symptom of the unequal distribution of property, land and information. That is what has to be addressed.”

The chancellor, Phillip Hammond, might point out that Lear endorses the redistribution of wealth during what is commonly referred to as his “mad scene”. Rightwing economists and politicians might also cite Timon of Athens – in which a Greek philanthropist gives away all his money to people who prove undeserving – as an example of a Shakespearean warning against socialism.

Yanis Varoufakis and Christine Lagarde.
Pinterest ‘I thought: ‘Oh my God, do I quote that speech from Macbeth to her?’’ Yanis Varoufakis and Christine Lagarde. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

“They would read Timon in that way,” acknowledges Varoufakis. “But remember that the greatest critic of philanthropy – of the mindset of giving all your money away – was none other than Karl Marx. Coming from that tradition myself, I don’t see Timon of Athens as an endorsement of freewheeling, all-singing, all-dancing capitalism. I see it as a reasonable critique of the belief that inequality can be addressed without questioning the underlying structures of the society.”

Macbeth – in which a leader who finds that the reality of power does not match the dream – may, he thinks, have relevance to Brexit Britain: “Macbeth becomes captured, trapped by his own scheme. He keeps doing worse things to try to resolve the original mistake. At the end, he realises that he is at the mercy of forces beyond his control. The greatness of this play is that is shows the immense powerlessness that power can bring. I don’t know if Theresa May has realised that yet!”

Varoufakis’s favourite Shakespeare speech – apart from Lear’s “shake the superflux” – is Macbeth’s conclusion, after multiple murders, that he is “in blood stepped in so far” that it is now easier to carry on with the mayhem than to stop. For Varoufakis, these lines, along with Lady Macbeth’s declaration that “what’s done cannot be undone”, reflect a ruinous political belief that, once started on a disastrous path, it is better to carry on to the end.

“During my first meeting as finance minister with Christine Lagarde, the director of the International Monetary Fund, about the Greek debt, she said that the EU had put so much political capital into its debt proposals for Greece that it was now impossible to go back. And, I thought: ‘Oh my God, do I quote that speech from Macbeth to her?’”

Trump and trade tariffs: big lies founded on small truths – The Guardian, 18 MAR 2018

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/03/2018 - 7:54am in

Donald Trump is perhaps the US president best equipped to understand that some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall. His personal business plan always involved racking up enormous deficits and debts, before finding a way to unload them on to others – his employees and creditors mostly. Last week the US president imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. The notion that he did so because he is concerned about America’s trade deficit collapses into a pool of implausibility when projected upon a businessman so intensely relaxed about being in the red.

The fact is, Donald Trump is only pretending to care about the trade deficit. And economic history is on his side. Since the mid-1970s, the United States became the first superpower in history that succeeded in massively boosting its global hegemony on the back of increasing trade … deficits. And how did America pay for these ever-expanding deficits? By maintaining the capacity of Wall Street and certain hi-tech industries to act as a magnet bringing into the country a sizeable portion of foreigners’ rents and profits.

Trump claims America is a victim of unfair trade and that his tariffs are necessary to support blue-collar workers. His liberal critics despair, pointing to the dead-weight losses, and the threat of a trade war, that these tariffs foreshadow. Once again, the public debate is dominated, on both sides of US politics, by big lies founded on small truths.

The small truths are that, yes, some jobs in the few US foundries that survive may be saved for a while; yes, there will be some losses for American consumers who will now pay more for cars and other metal-based goods; yes, the probability of a broader trade war has risen. But the big lie is that these are the issues to lose sleep over.

A closer look at the $375bn that is China’s trade surplus with the United States reveals an awkward fact: more than half of it is due to American corporations (with Apple being one of many) that export US-branded goods from China into America, while channelling their profits through a network of tax havens. And most of the rest of China’s surplus is due to Washington’s own restrictions on the sale of hi-tech equipment to Chinese companies that are dying to get their hands on it. While ‘national security’ is the excuse, the real reason, in most cases, is a penchant for preventing Chinese engineers and technologists from replicating them.

Trump is evidently motivated by short-term political gain. However, there is a longer game in progress here: America’s big tech, pharmaceutical giants and, of course, Wall Street would like to see his steel and aluminium tariffs as the first shot in a long campaign to demolish the Chinese walls, within which China’s companies are emerging as genuine competitors in the industries where real profits are made: artificial intelligence, intellectual property rights and financial services.

Antagonising the best customer of the federal government’s debt is, however, a dangerous move. Especially if done on behalf of America’s richest corporations at a time when massive tax cuts in their favour necessitate the production of a lot more federal debt. But then again should we be surprised if a president who rose so high by sin is felled by hubris?

Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ Documentary from 2009: Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby – Part One

Presented by the Conservative journo Peter Oborne, this is a very hard-hitting and extensive investigation into the malign influence and tactics of the Israel lobby. It covers not just the soft corruption of political lobbying – the various donations in money and paid trips to Israel given to Tory and Labour politicos, but also the co-ordinated smear campaign against anyone who dares to speak out in favour of the Israeli state’s victims. It’s a smear campaign that has seen very respected members of the Jewish community, including senior rabbis, and BBC journos like the late Orla Guerin, Jeremy Bowen and even Jonathan Dimbleby accused of anti-Semitism. The result has been that the Beeb was pressured not to put out an appeal for the victims of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, and there was complaints about its coverage of those murdered by Israel’s allies in the Christian Fascists of the Lebanese Phalange in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. And there has been constant pressure by these same bullying thugs on the Groaniad under its former editor, Alan Rusbridger. Who really does look like Harry Potter. Much of this pressure and screaming abuse seems to have come from America. The organisations are carefully structured, so that they keep the total number of donations secret, and their donors hide behind anonymity. When investigated they repeat the same, smooth words about just trying to keep the argument open by presenting Israel’s case, or mutter platitudes about supporting a two-state solution. All the while doing their level best to make sure that their voice is the only the British public hear, and rabidly pursuing business deals on stolen Palestinian land.

I’m afraid I may have misheard some of the names in the programme, and so misspelled them, but they should be roughly accurate.

The documentary begins with the Israeli invasion of Gaza and the Conservative Friends of Israel. Despite the horrendous carnage and destruction wrought, David Cameron in a speech made no mention of this, but instead praised the Israelis and his pledged his lasting support to them if he became Prime Minister. It was this that prompted Oborne to launch his own investigation into the Israel lobby. He makes the point that they have influence on both sides of Parliament, as shown by an exchange between a Conservative MP, who was a member of Conservative Friends of Israel, who asked a question about Israel’s continuing safety. This was answered by a Labour MP, who was a member of the Labour Friends of Israel. Oborne then interviews Michael Ancram, former Tory Shadow Foreign Secretary from 2003-5, about the Israel Lobby’s influence. as well as Sir Richard Dalton, the former British ambassador to Iran from 2003-6. Dalton states clearly that the Israel Lobby does exist, and is important in defining the debate about Israel and the Palestinians. The Conservative Friends of Israel is highly influential, and boasts that it includes 80 per cent of all Tory MPs. Its chair, Richard Huntingdon, received £20,000 last year (2008) in donations, and gave £34,000 to the Conservatives. And the director of the No. 10 club, that exclusive Tory fundraising outfit in which, for a mere £50,000, you can meet David Cameron or have lunch with William Hague, is also included. The Tory Friends of Israel also arrange paid trips to Israel for MPs. So far there have been more of these than equivalent trips to America and Europe combined. Oborne states that in fairness, he has to say that he went on one of these, and there was no pressure to report favourably about Israel. But two MPs, who went on one of these trips, then received afterwards £25,000 in donations. This prompts Oborne to ask Ancram if this explains the soft line taken by the Tories about Israeli influence, and why the Tories don’t like to talk about it.

The documentary then moves on to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, during which 1,000 Lebanese civilians were killed, and $3.6 billion’s worth of damage inflicted. Michael Howard gave William Hague £25,000 in donations. Hague then made the mistake of making a speech criticising the Israeli response to Lebanese attacks as disproportionate. As a result, Lord Kalms, a CFI donor and head of the Dixons electronics chain, was outraged, and threatened to withhold further funding. Which he did, and Hague never received a penny more. The Israel lobby attacks even the mildest criticism of Israel. The director of the CFI, Stuart Pollak, had a meeting with David Cameron after the speech. Then, at his lunch with the CFI, Cameron didn’t mention the Lebanese invasion at all.

The programme then moves on to the organisation’s income, as revealed by the Parliamentary Accounts Register. For comparison, the pro-Arab lobby revealed that they had been given £43,000 in donations. How many had the CFI been given? No-one knows. They didn’t register any. They’re structured as a group of individuals, and are not incorporated, so they don’t have declare any under the rules. In 2008 the CFI gave the Tories £2 million, but this is not the whole story. One Tory MP said that after a chance meeting with Stuart Pollak, he received two donations from businessmen he had never met, and who did not live in his constituency. The CFI gave £30,000 to Cameron’s team. And in 2005 Cameron met Plocha Zabludowicz, who gave the future Tory PM £15,000 and a further £35,000 to Tory Central Office. The total figure for the donations given by the CFI is £10 million, more than the other lobbies.

Then there’s the incident of the UN vote over a motion censuring both Hamas and Israel for the carnage in Gaza. The CFI rang Hague up to condemn the resolution and demand that he criticise it. Which he duly did.

But the Israel Lobby only became really powerful in Britain under Maggie’s favourite Labour pet, Tony Blair. Jon Mandelsohn, a prominent pro-Israel lobbyist, stated that ‘Zionism is pervasive in New Labour’ and ‘It is axiomatic that Blair will come to Labour Friends of Israel meetings’. There are more Labour MPs in Labour Friends of Israel than their opponents across the benches in the Tory Friends of Israel. The documentary describes how Blair met the rock entrepreneur, Lord Levy, at the Israeli embassy, who then raised £15 million for the Labour party before the row over ‘cash for questions’. When Blair became PM in 1997, he gave Levy a life peerage. Levy, however, was unpaid and never a formal servant of the British state, so that the deals he made as Blair’s special envoy to the Middle East between Israel and the Arab nations could be kept secret. The programme interviews Prof. Avi Shlaim of Oxford University’s Middle East department, who states that he considers Levy has damaged Britain’s reputation in the Middle East.

The documentary then moves back to CFI lobbyists at the Tory party conference. Their purpose there is to make sure Cameron’s policies are in line with Israel’s This means that Michael Kaminski, the Polish leader, who heads a small, far right nationalist party, is lionised by the Tories, despite his record of making anti-Semitic remarks and his refusal to apologise for the suffering of Jewish Poles during the Second World War. Stuart Pollak was most keen not to have Cameron’s speech to the CFI at the Tory conference covered. He is shown waving the camera crew away. The CFI totally support Kaminski. They also plead that they’re totally transparent through the distinction between their donations as a group, and those of individual businesspeople.

Continued in Part Two.

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