Justice

Alt Right Leader Richard Spencer Admits to Not Caring About Free Speech

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 27/05/2018 - 10:25pm in

In this video from Sam Seder’s Majority Report, Seder’s co-host, Michael Brooks and his team comment on a video conversation Richard Spencer had a few month’s ago with another Fascist on a now defunct Alt Right website. The other Fascist isn’t well known, so Brooks doesn’t give his name. But in the conversation between the two, Spencer states very clearly that they – the Alt Right – aren’t in favour of free speech, but it’s important that they appear to be.

Brooks states that his show is very much in favour of free speech, both ideologically and programmatically. He also talks about other American journalists, who are also genuine supporters of free speech from Marxist and genuinely liberal viewpoints, and who therefore give space on their shows to people of opposing opinions. But this never happens with the Alt Right, and its supporters like Dave Rubin and Bari Weiss. He also states that much of the Alt Right’s rhetoric about free speech is them trying to garner support for their legal suit against the Southern Poverty Law Centre for calling them a racist or adjacent racist organisation.

Brooks goes on to mention the comments about the way the rhetoric about free speech and its defence has become inverted, so that it actually discredits real free speech from the Yugoslavian philosopher, Slavoj Zizek. Zizek states that free speech is under attack all over Europe. And the problem, says Brooks, is that whenever you hear someone stating that they’re in favour of free speech, it’s always because they’re expressing a Fascist or a soft-Fascist viewpoint.

But if others describe them as Fascists and racists, this is not suppressing their free speech. This is simply the opponents of Fascism expressing their right to a free opinion. Free speech does not mean going easily on Fascists, and screw everyone else.

This is quite an important piece, because it exposes the Far Right’s claim to be defending free speech for the cynical charade it is. As Brooks and his team drily comment in the video, Fascists don’t believe in free speech. But they claim to support it as part of their propaganda campaign to promote themselves and spread hatred against those of other races and ethnicities. They claim to be telling the truth about Blacks, Jews and Muslims that the liberals in power, ‘cultural Marxists’ and the multiculturalists want to suppress. While at the same time they wish to deny their opponents the right to express their opinions freely. There are problems with race and free speech, as in some cases the censorship of individuals for having allegedly racist or otherwise bigoted opinions has gone too far, and moved far into the realm of subjectivity than objective fact. But this shows the danger on the other side, of the way the real Fascists and racists are trying to exploit genuine concerns about restrictions on free speech to promote their bigotry and prejudice, while cynically planning to destroy it when they get the opportunity.

Kevin Logan on Tommy Robinson’s Arrest

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 27/05/2018 - 9:21pm in

Mike put up this morning a piece about Tommy Robinson’s arrest and sentencing for contempt of court. Robinson is the former leader of the EDL, and was arrested last week for filming outside a courtroom, where a group of Muslims were being tried on charges of paedophilia. This is illegal, and Robinson has just been given a 13 month sentence for contempt.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/26/far-right-politician-is-jailed-with-hilarious-consequences/

In this video, male feminist and scourge of Fascists and manospherian misogynists Kevin Logan, explains the circumstances behind Robinson’s arrest, and why it’s important that he is jailed. Robinson was videoing and commenting on a trial in a court in York, where a group of Muslims were being tried for paedophilia. Logan states that it’s quite likely that the accused men are actually guilty, and he certainly isn’t defending them. But they have a right to a fair trial. However, there are cases where, because of the biased reporting or comments about a trial, the accused have been released despite their probably guilt, because they were unable to get a fair trial. Logan states that something similar happened to Jayda Fransen and one of the other far right storm troopers, who were jailed on charges of racially aggravated harassment, although he then admits that this was a slightly different issue.

Robinson’s supporters claim that this is a free speech issue, and that he’s a journalist. But Robinson isn’t a journalist. He wasn’t reporting any of the facts of the case, and is actually so incompetent that even the far right Canadian outfit, Rebel Media, won’t have him. Logan points out that he used to be the head of the English Defence League, and before then was a member of the BNP, so he’s simply a Fascist. And he just wants to spread Islamophobia and fear of Brown people. He also states that Robinson has already got a suspended sentence for doing the same thing outside a court in Canterbury last year, down the other end of the country. He describes him as an ambulance-chaser, running around behind court cases of Muslims. So when Robinson got himself arrested for breach of the peace, it was his own fault.

Palestinians Request International Criminal Court to Investigate Gaza Massacre

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 27/05/2018 - 6:44pm in

This is a short report from the Arab news channel, Al-Jazeera. The Palestinian foreign minister has asked the International Criminal Court in the Hague to investigate Israel after the Gaza massacre last week. Israel is trying to block the move, on the grounds that it isn’t a member of the court, and Palestine isn’t a state. On the other hand, Palestine has been granted membership of the court, but the court has said it will only investigate crimes that have happened since Palestine became a member in 2014. The video includes an interview with a Palestinian politicians, who says that if the Court does decide to investigate, it means that certain Israeli politicians will be unable to travel to Europe, where many countries are also members of the court. He states that this isn’t about punishing the soldiers, but bringing the politicians responsible for the massacre to justice. The news team also talk to a Palestinian family, whose father, a disabled man in a wheelchair, was killed by Israeli soldiers in the massacre. They are obviously looking forward to the massacre and those responsible being investigated. The report concludes with the statement that it is now up to the court to decide what to do.

Refuting Anti-Semitism Smears with the Reasonableness Test: Part 3

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/05/2018 - 7:29pm in

It is also possible to find parallels in the careers of individuals, which, when carefully selected, may refer to a completely different person. As an extreme example, consider the eulogy made by some of the French at the Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany. They began praising a great national leader, responsible for aggressively including those parts of his nation, that had been separated from the main, parent homeland for centuries. Sounds like Hitler after the annexation of the Sudetenland, doesn’t it? This same national figure was also responsible for persecuting and expelling a religious minority, working against his country and its faith. Which also sounds like Hitler and the Jews.

It wasn’t.

The figure they were talking about was Louis XIV. The Sun King had begun a series of wars to annex French-speaking communities in other nations, like the Kingdom of Burgundy, which had previously been part of the Holy Roman Empire. He was also responsible for the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the renewal of persecution and final expulsion of the Huguenots, French Protestants. Many of these fled to England, where they brought new skills in weaving and clock-making, for example, and contributed to Britain’s industrial revolution taking off earlier than its counterpart in France. People hearing the speech were intended to believe it was about Hitler until the real identity of this national leader was revealed.

Through carefully selecting parallels and facts, you can make almost anyone appear as something they are not. Which is something the Israel lobby and the people making those smears know very well, as they twist and deny facts, and take words and comments out of context, or simply make them up.

But to return to the subject of racial insults and the subjective evidence of how they may appear to other people, this reminds me of two notorious cases in America where people were falsely accused of racially insulting Blacks.

One of these concerned a Black staffer working in the US Treasury department during Clinton’s presidency. He was responsible for setting or estimating the funding levels. A Black colleague tackled him on his figures, criticising them for being too low. The staffer rejected this, and said, ‘No, I’m not being niggardly’. His interlocutor then sued him for his use of racist language. Presumably this was because ‘niggardly’ sounds like ‘n888er’. In fact, the two words are etymologically distinct. The modern English term ‘niggard’, comes from the Middle English word ‘nig’, meaning a miser or worthless person. It has absolutely nothing to do with later racist terms for people of colour. But it’s similarity to that term was enough to anger his opponent, who doubtless sincerely felt that it was a derogatory term, and that he had been insulted.

The case was much discussed in the press, because of its similarity to a novel that had recently come out by one of America’s great literary giants, The Human Stain. This is about a man in a well-paid, responsible job, who is also brought low and sued for racism, when he uses an ambiguous term, which his accusers believe is racist, but which really isn’t.

And then there’s the case of the Jewish student at one of the American colleges, who was sued by a group of Black sorority girls. The poor fellow had been revising for an exam he had the next day. Unfortunately, right outside his window and below him there were a group of young Black women very loudly celebrating some sorority even. At last, driven to exasperation by his inability to concentrate due to the noise they were making, he threw open his window and shouted out, ‘Shut up, you water buffalo!’ The girls decided they’d been insulted, and so took him to the college authorities. And the court proceeding there seem almost farcical. One member of staff turned up to give evidence that water buffalo were African animals. They aren’t. They’re East Asian. The accused student himself defended himself by saying that he was using ‘water buffalo’ to translate the Hebrew word ‘behema’, which has no racial connotations. In fact, as I understand it, the word ‘behema’ simply means ‘beast’, of any kind.

Both of these are stupid, wrongful accusations, that should never have come to court, although I’ve no doubt the people making the accusations sincerely believed they’d been terribly insulted because of their race.

And they clearly show the terrible dangers and miscarriages of justice which occur when subjective impressions are taken as the yardstick for assessing whether a comment or statement is racist or not.

And subjective impressions, and the rule that something may be racist, if another person thinks it is, regardless of whether it really is, or was intended to be, must not be allowed to become the standard for upholding the anti-Semitism smears against Labour party members. Or anyone else for that matter.

As this article has shown, it privileges emotion, ignorance and pernicious urban myths against truth and fact. It is also of a piece with the ‘paranoid style’ animating the Fascist right, and which has resulted in the creation of real, terribly evil conspiracy theories, which are a danger to Blacks, Jews, left-wingers and members of new religious movements, like practising occultists, who were accused of Satanic ritual abuse in real witch hunts back in the 1990s. Quite apart from ordinary people, who also found themselves accused of Satanism because of false memories and the coaching of those utterly convinced that a Satanic conspiracy exists.

Subjective impressions don’t lead to truth. They lead to witch hunts, false convictions and massive injustice. Which is why the Israel lobby and is collaborators in the Labour party are determined to use it. It has to be stopped, and the real yardsticks – impartial fact – used instead.

Ken Livingstone Talks about his Resignation from the Labour Party due to Anti-Semitism Smears

On Monday, Ken Livingstone resigned from the Labour party. He had been suspended from the party following the smears that he was an anti-Semite and had claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. This was completely untrue. As Red Ken goes on to say in the interview with RT, he never claimed that Hitler was a Zionist, only that he briefly supported Zionism. It is abundantly clear if you read Livingstone’s 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, that a racist of any stripe is the very last thing the former head of the GLC is. He makes it very clear that he is firmly opposed to anti-Semitism as well as anti-Black and anti-Irish racism, and details with the disgust and outrage the way the British state recruited Nazis, including those responsible for pogroms against the Jews and the Holocaust, as agents in the Cold War struggle against Communism. The claim that Livingstone said Hitler was a Zionist is an invention of John Mann, the Blairites and the Israel lobby, and repeated ad nauseam, ad infinitum, by the Conservative press and media in order to smear and discredit him. And they are still doing it. Deborah Orr, one of the wretched columnists in the I newspaper, claimed that he had said the Hitler was a Zionist, which shows how much she, and her editor, care about factual reporting. Mike has also covered on his blog how the Israel lobby continue to point to an interview Red Ken gave on Sky as showing that he was anti-Semitic. Which also shows they haven’t bothered to watch it, as in the interview Ken thoroughly refutes the allegations and shoots down those making them.

In this interview, Livingstone answers the question why it has taken him so long to resign. He replies that his instinct has always been to fight on to the end, whether it was against Thatcher or Tony Blair. But he chose to resign now because the controversy and lies surrounding him were becoming too much of a distraction. He was suspended two years ago in 2016. After a year, there was another three day hearing, which couldn’t refute the charges against him, and so extended the suspension for another year. He wanted to take his accusers to court, but was told by his lawyer that it would take at least two years to get there. He considered that it was too much of a distraction from Labour’s real programme under Corbyn, which he makes very clear has a real chance of winning.

When asked about whether the allegations have damaged Labour’s chances, for example, in Barnet, which has a high Jewish population, Red Ken said that of course people would be shocked when they hear that he said that Hitler was a Zionist, that it’s not anti-Semitic to hate Jews in Israel, or that Jews are Nazis, but he was struck by the number of Jews, who came up to him on the street to tell him that they knew what he said was true. This was that in 1933 Hitler and the Zionists made a deal to send some Jews to Israel. They didn’t like each other, but as a result, 60,000 Jews emigrated to Palestine. If they had stayed in Germany, they would have been murdered in the Holocaust. So it’s the lesser of two evils, according to Livingstone.

When the interviewer asks him if these allegations haven’t put a dent in Labour’s electoral chances, such as in Barnet, Livingstone tells him that half a dozen Jews have asked him on the street why he claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. And he’s told them that he never said that. Unfortunately, Livingstone never completes that reply due to a technical fault.

The interviewer then moves on to ask him if he really believes that Labour has a chance under Corbyn. Livingstone says clearly that everyone said that Labour would be wiped out during the next election. But in fact, Corbyn delivered the greatest increase in the Labour vote since the 1945 election, and they came within two per cent of the Tories. They could have gotten more, if the party had been united and MPs hadn’t been trying to unseat their leader. He states that Corbyn has excellent plans for massive public investment, improved service, creating new jobs and investing in high tech industries. That connected with people, and will connect with people at the next election.

The interview ends with the question of what Livingstone will do now that he’s retired from politics and whether he will return. Livingstone states that he retired from politics after he lost the election to Boris Johnson in 2012. Now he’s an old age pensioner and a house-husband, walking the kids and feeding the dog.

It’s a very, very good interview with Livingstone making it very clear that he definitely did not say what the liars in the Blairites, the Israel lobby and the press have accused him of. As for Jews telling Livingstone that they know he didn’t say those things, I can well believe this. Mike has put up innumerable pieces on his blog showing the support of many Jews and Jewish groups for Corbyn and the victims of the anti-Semitism smears, pointing out that there is absolutely no truth in them. Especially as so many of those libelled as anti-Semites are self-respecting Jews. The alliance between the Nazis and the Zionists is solid historical fact, and included in respected historical studies of the Holocaust, such as that of the Zionist historian, David Cesarani. It was called the Ha’avara agreement, and there’s a page on it on the site of the International Holocaust Museum in Israel. All you have to do is google it to find out that what Livingstone said was the truth.

Mike is disappointed with Ken’s decision to resign, as this also affects the legal chances of those, like him, who have been smeared trying to defend Livingstone. He writes

The shame of it is that certain people will take Mr Livingstone’s decision as an admission of guilt – and that he will not have the opportunity to put the record straight.

That means he is letting down others who have been put in the same situation (like This Writer).

I’m not backing down – and if Labour’s disciplinary panel find against me, I’ll happily sue the party because my good name is not a negotiable commodity.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/21/ken-livingstone-quits-labour-not-due-to-any-guilt-but-because-of-the-row-kicked-up-by-right-whingers/

It goes without saying that I’m backing Mike, and everybody else who has been foully smeared by these contemptible knaves, 100 per cent. While I understand why Livingstone has raised, I am afraid this will just serve to encourage the Blairites and the Israel lobby in their campaign against Corbyn and the true Labour moderates. They will not be placated by just taking down a few, sacrificial supporters, like Livingstone. Now that they’ve seen their campaign is effective, they will keep on and on. The best defence is attack, and the only way to tackle them is to meet them head on, and refute every one of their dam’ lies. They are not as secure as they think they are. The Blairites live in holy terror of the constituency parties deselecting them. The Israel lobby itself is becoming painfully aware that smears of anti-Semitism aren’t having the affect they used to have. And Jonathan Arkush’s own position as president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews is looking very rocky after his disgusting comments trying to cast the blame on the victims of the Gaza massacre, rather than the Israelis.

The Blairites and the Israel lobby are bullies. They are in a far weaker position than they wish to appear, and are responding by smears, lies and throwing their weight around. But you can stand up to bullies, and bring them down.

Some comments on Zygmunt Bauman’s “A Chronicle of Crisis”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/05/2018 - 11:21pm in

I recently read the book by the UK sociologist Zygmunt Bauman and want to comment on a few things that I really like and a few I did not. The book starts with interesting chapters (originally, articles) on, among other things, Amartya Sen’s Theory of Justice. Bauman writes on page 22 (source):

“Just society” is a society permanently sensitive and vigilant to all cases of injustice and undertaking to take action to rectify them without waiting for the search of the universal model of justice to be completed”. In somewhat different and perhaps simpler terms, a society up in arms to promote the well-being of the underdog; the “well-being” including in this case the capacity of making real the formal human right to decent life – recasting “freedom de jure” into “freedom de facto”.

This is very interesting, almost revolutionary in today’s Western societies. Yet I think that the societies we live have largely been built by people promoting the well-being of the many, assaults on the welfare state and the public sector in general in the last few decades notwithstanding. I believe there is today a very large gap between what we think is how societies, and with it, economies work and they way the actually work. Financial crises, trade wars, polarization and inequality do not spring up from out of nowhere. They are symptoms of underlying processes. Bauman picks up this topic on page 50 (source):

There were, in other words, “natural” limits to inequality and “natural” barriers to social exclusion; the main causes of Karl Marx’s prophecy of the “proletariat’s absolute pauperisation” turning self-refuting and getting sour, and the main reasons for the introduction of the social state, a state taking care of keeping labour in a condition of readiness for employment, to become a “beyond left and right”: a non-partisan issue. Also the reasons for the state needing to protect the capitalist order against the suicidal consequences of leaving unbridled the capitalists’ morbid predilections, their fast-profit-seeking rapacity – and acting on that need by introducing minimal wages or time limits to the working day and week, as well as by legal protection of labour unions and other weapons of workers’ self-defence.

This should be undisputed, but probably it is not be the mainstream view of today, at least not in Germany and those countries in Europe that were left relatively unscarred by the last economic crisis.

Now we come to the main issue that I do not agree with, written on p. 76 (source):

Watching the already exorbitant yet still fast rising federal debt of the US, one may feel excused if wondering whether Bin Laden and his successors might have managed to take a hint and learn the lesson, and are set to repeat Reagan’s feat.

The idea that the federal debt of the US is a problem is moot. The US is issuer of its own sovereign currency and hence faces no budget constraint. Stephanie Kelton wrote as much in her LA Times article last year:

In other words, the government spends money and then collects some money back as people pay their taxes and buy bonds. Spending precedes taxing and borrowing – STAB. It takes votes and vocal interest groups, not tax revenue, to start the ball rolling.

If you need proof that STAB is the law of the land, look no further than the Senate’s recent $700-billion defense authorization. Without raising a dime from the rest of us, the Senate quietly approved an $80-billion annual increase, or more than enough money to make 4-year public colleges and universities tuition-free. And just where did the government get the money to do that? It authorized it into existence.

Whoa, cowboy! Are you telling me that the government can just make money appear out of nowhere, like magic? Absolutely. Congress has special powers: It’s the patent-holder on the U.S. dollar. No one else is legally allowed to create it. This means that Congress can always afford the pony because it can always create the money to pay for it.

Now, that doesn’t mean the government can buy absolutely anything it wants in absolutely any quantity at absolutely any speed. (Say, a pony for each of the 320 million men, women and children in the United States, by tomorrow.) That’s because our economy has internal limits. If the government tries to buy too much of something, it will drive up prices as the economy struggles to keep up with the demand. Inflation can spiral out of control. There are plenty of ways for the government to get a handle on inflation, though. For example, it can take money out of the economy through taxation.

So, if you want to create a “just society” as Zygmunt Bauman envisioned it, there is no financial problem of “running out of money” or “rocketing public debt”. There are internal limits – you can only use the resources that government can buy for its money – and there is inflation, which can be handled by taxing people (which we already do).

Those reading Zygmunt Bauman should be warned. I applaud Bauman the sociologist for his clear thought and ideas. However, I would not recommend Bauman the economist who seems to believe that national governments like that of the US can be driven into bankruptcy by “over-spending”.

RT Video on Justice For Grenfell Rally

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/05/2018 - 11:14pm in

This is another great little video from RT of the rally outside parliament demanding justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The speakers included Diane Abbott, who said ‘You can talk about the cladding, you can talk about regulations, but there is also an attitude to communities that needs to be exposed.’

Another speaker was Clary, a Black lady from Grenfell United. She said, ‘We are here until we get justice. This is not an overnight thing. This is not a road for the swift. But guess what? We’ve asked for something and as humans we’ve demanded something. It’s our right. It’s our basic human right, and the fight goes on till we get it.’

Richard Burgon, the MP for Leeds East, praised the people of Grenfell, saying that they’ve inspired people across this country and across the world, ‘because when they see your struggle for justice, a struggle you shouldn’t have to be waging, by the way, they feel inspired in their own struggles as well.’

Natasha Elcock said ‘Grenfell should never have happened, and it never, never, never, never, never, never should have to happen to anybody. No-one should go through what Grenfell United, the community of North Kensington, and those communities living out there, with cladding on their tower blocks, should never have gone through this. And I urge every single MP, Grenfell United (did) a big parliamentary event last week here, over a hundred MPs promised their support, and we hope today they deliver that. Grenfell must never be forgotten. 72 people died as a result of that fire. And if one thing’s for certain, we will continue to add pressure.’

The video also shows a display of small, black circles, each bearing the name of one of the fire’s victims.

It’s disgraceful that after so long, the fire’s victims are still waiting for justice. Remember how the government, just after the fire, promised them that they’d all be rehoused within three weeks? That promise was very soon broken. Even the number of people who died may be inaccurate, as it’s based only on the number of bodies that were recovered. Some of the victims may not have left anything in the way of remains, because the fire would have incinerated them so completely. And instead of ensuring that horrors like this don’t happen again, the Tories have just passed legislation making safety regulations on tower blocks and the materials used in their construction even lower.

Much of the abuse Diane Abbott gets probably comes from the perception, aided by the Scum, that she’s an anti-White racist. But when she says that the government’s response to the fire’s victims also shows an attitude to communities that needs to be tackled, I’m sure she’s absolutely right. The people in Grenfell Tower were poor, and very many of them were non-Whites and immigrants. And we’ve seen just how the Tories really view BAME people in the racist comments posted on Tory affiliated websites, as reported last week by one blogger, as well as EvolvePolitic’s piece on the 18 Tory candidates at the council elections last week, who were suspended for alleged racist, homophobic, misogynist and bigoted remarks. Both these stories were covered by Mike on his blog. And then there’s the way Tweezer herself, when she was Cameron’s Foreign Secretary, removed the legislation permitting the Windrush Generation to stay in this country as British Citizens. The result has been the shameful deportations.

And Mike today has put up a piece commenting on May’s expression when she was given a painting of the burned out building by Damel Carayol, whose sister, Khadije Saye, was one of those, who died in the fire. She called it ‘powerful’, but her face suggests instead that she really doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.

Mike’s article goes on to discuss how a group of Grenfell residents came away feeling let down last week, when they went to the Prime Minister to discuss setting up a more diverse panel with the powers to make decisions as part of the inquiry process. One of them, Nabil Choucair, who lost his mother, sister, brother-in-law and three children, told her had no confidence in her. May responded by saying she’d ‘reflect on it’. Choucair went on to say that it was like it went in one ear and out the other. He complained it was bad enough having to go through the experience all over again, without having to ask for the panel, which May should have understood immediately. He concluded that she had caused a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/14/grenfell-tower-theresa-mays-face-tells-us-all-what-her-mouth-wont/

Of course she has, because, as a Tory, her sympathies are with the rich and with Kensington Council cutting costs on construction materials, in order to save money for the rich at the expense of the safety of the poor.

It’s long past time the government honoured their promises, and gave the people of Grenfell Tower homes and justice.

Review: Joe Sacco’s ‘Palestine’

(London: Jonathan Cape 2001)

This is one of the classics of the graphic novel. Joe Sacco is an American journalist. He spent two months with the Palestinians in late 1991 and early 1992 in Gaza and the West Bank during the time of the first Intifada. He wrote and drew Palestine after his return to the US, basing it on his notes, publishing it as a nine-part comic strip. These were later collected into a single volume to form the graphic novel. The book also has a kind of introduction, ‘Homage to Joe Sacco’, from Edward Said, the author of Orientalism, critic of western imperialism and attitudes to the Arabs, and himself a Palestinian.

This is precisely the type of book the Israel lobby does not want people to read. Not BICOM, not the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which was set up because Gideon Falter, its founder, was worried about British attitudes becoming more hostile to Israel after the blockade of Gaza, not the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion and the companion party to the Israeli Labor Party, not the various ‘Friends of Israel’ societies in the political parties, Tories and Labour, nor the Jewish Leadership Council and definitely not the Board of Deputies of British Jews. All of them shout ‘anti-Semitism’ at anyone who dares to publish anything critical of Israel, or show the barbarity with which it treats the Palestinians.

The book shows Sacco’s experiences as he goes around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, talking to both Palestinians and Israelis, meeting them, entering their homes, and listening to their stories. He starts the book in Cairo, the beginning of his journey to Israel, and to which he returns at his departure. During his time there, he visits the Vale of Kidron, the Arab quarter of Old Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza strip, as it then was, Balata, another refugee camp on the West Bank, Nablus, the town of Gaza itself, and finally Tel Aviv.

It’s not an easy read. This is an occupied country during deep unrest, and the threat of violence and arbitrary arrest and detention without trial is every where. There are patrols of soldiers, demonstrations, explosions and stone throwing. And he shows, with quotes, the contemptuous, lofty and hostile attitude the early Zionists and Lord Balfour had for the indigenous population. He quotes Balfour as saying

‘Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit this ancient land. We do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the inhabitants’.

Ben Gurion thought it would be simple to expel the Palestinians, because he felt they had no real attachment to their homeland. He wrote that the Palestinian ‘is equally at ease whether in Jordan, Lebanon or a variety of other places’. With the approach of war, he made it clear their expulsion was going to be through military force: ‘In each attack a decisive blow should be struck, resulting in the destruction of homes and the expulsion of the population.’ When that was done, ‘Palestinian Arabs have only one role – to flee’. He also quotes Golda Meir, who stated that a Palestinian people, defining itself as a Palestinian people, did not exist, and ‘we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They do not exist’. 400 Palestinian villages were razed in the war marking the birth of Israel. Meir’s lie – that the Palestinians don’t exist as a people – is still repeated by Republican and pro-Israel bloggers. Golda Meir was also concerned about the Palestinian population outstripping that of the Israelis, another issue that is still very alive today.

His hosts are polite, welcoming him into their homes, and plying him with tea. But occasionally there is an outburst from one of them, when he’s asked what the point of him being there, of them talking to him, is. Because other journalists have been there too, and they’ve talked to them, and nothing has happened, nothing has changed. They also talk to him about the other factions, and of the peace process. In a separate text at the beginning of the book, he states that, while the peace process set up the Palestinian authority and gave them a government, it changed nothing for ordinary Palestinians, and the occupation and theft of land by the Israelis still goes on.

He also reveals that the Israelis appropriate 2/3 of the land in the West Bank for their own us, which includes the establishment of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. And the governments gives Israelis plenty of incentives to move to them. They’re given a government grant if they do, lower interest rates on loan, the housing itself is cheaper than in Israel, and an income tax rate of 7 per cent. The settlers themselves can be extremely aggressive. Sacco’s hosts tell them about incidents where settlers have come into Palestinian villages, smashing windows and demanding that the owners come out. Of people shot by them, and the trivial sentences given to the settlers guilty of this. They’re given jail sentences of a few months. If they’re convicted in the first place. Palestinians who shoot and kill Israelis are jailed for years. Some lavish homes do exist in Palestine, occupied by Arabs, but most live in very bare houses, often with leaking roofs, which are vulnerable to storms.

His cartoons show what his Palestinian hosts tell him it’s like in prison camps like Ansar III, with crowds of prisoners crammed into small, bare rooms with no heat and poor ventilation. There are also few eating utensils, to the various political factions in the camp – Fateh, Hamas, Popular Front, organise meal times so that everyone gets a turn with the cup and plate to eat and drink. Several of the people he talks to were arrested simply on suspicion. Israeli law allowed them to be held without charge while evidence was compiled, with his captors returning to court over and over again to request a few more days more, until the judge finally listens to their lawyer, has the procedure stopped and the prisoner released. He also shows how the prisoners were tortured through beatings, being forced to stand for hours with bags over their heads, a process permitted under Israel law. A judge ruled that torture could not be used, but what methods were to replace them were kept secret. So many Palestinians have been incarcerated, that a green identity card showing a man has been in jail is a matter of pride. And not to have been to prison correspondingly is a mark of shame.

He talks about how the Israelis have a deliberate policy of not allowing the Palestinians to industrialise, so that they compete with the Israel. The State has also put obstacles in place to prevent Palestinian farmers competing with Israelis. They also deliberately uproot the olive trees many Palestinians grow to support themselves. The Israelis also appropriate most of the water, and dig deeper wells, so that the Palestinians have a much poorer water supply and their own wells are becoming increasingly saline. As a result, unemployment in Gaza was at 40 per cent. And Sacco himself was approached several times by Palestinians, hoping he could do something so that they could leave and go abroad to study or find work.

He describes a school, without electricity, as well as a school for the deaf, which is supported through volunteers and whose staff complain of their lack of training for dealing with people with disabilities. He also hears and illustrates the story of one Palestinian woman, whose son was shot by Israeli soldiers, but was prevented from taking him directly to hospital. Instead she was ordered to go hither and thither, where she was told a helicopter was waiting to take her and the boy. When she gets there, there is no helicopter. She eventually takes him to the hospital herself in a car, by which time it’s too late and the lad dies.

The book also shows the mass of roadblocks and the permit system which Palestinians have to go through to go to Israel. At the same time, Israelis are simply allowed to whiz through in their separate lanes.

Sacco also doesn’t shy away from showing the negative side of Palestine – the anti-Semitism, and particularly infamous murders, like the killing of Klinghoffer aboard the Achille Lauro, and the massacre of the Israeli Olympic team by the terrorist group Black September. This can turn into support for the murder of Israeli civilians. There’s also a chapter on the plight of Palestinian women, This is a society where women are still very much treated as inferiors and subordinates, where honour killings are carried out as the punishment for female adultery. It is also a society where collaborators are murdered, and those, who belong to the wrong faction may also be shot and killed.

The book was written 27 years ago, but nothing really seems to have changed since then. The illegal settlements are still there and expanding. Settlers are still seizing Palestinian homes and property, the apartheid separating Israelis from Palestinians is still in place, unemployment is still high, and Palestinians are still being treated as foreigners, refugees and second-class citizens on their own land.

However, some attitudes are changing. The Israeli liberals Sacco talks to only support the Palestinians up to a point. When pressed, some of them will say that Israel should keep the Occupied Territories, because they seized them in war. Or that they need to keep them for security reasons. But an increasing number of young Jews in America and elsewhere are appalled at the continuing maltreatment of the Palestinians and are becoming increasingly critical and hostile to Israel because of this. And there have also grown up major opposition groups like the human rights organisation B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence in Israel.

The Israeli state and its lobby and supporters in this country and others are increasingly scared. It’s why they’re trying to pass laws to criminalise the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in America, and to outlaw criticism of Israel in this country through tortuous definitions of anti-Semitism that are stretched to include it. It’s why they’re smearing, with the connivance of the right-wing media, the Blairites in the Labour party, and the Conservatives, decent people, who have fought racism and anti-Semitism, as anti-Semites.

Very long, detailed books have been written about Israel’s brutal treatment, dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Sacco’s Palestine presenting this as graphic novel, is an example of how comics can also be serious literature, tackling a difficult subject with both narrative and artistic skill and style. I’ve mentioned on this blog before the alternative comics that were also published from the ’60s to the 1980s/1990s on political topics, including the Israeli maltreatment of Palestinians in Pat Mills’ Crisis. Palestine is very much in that tradition, and in 1996 won the American Book Award.

Justice for Marc Wadsworth Tour Begins Next Tuesday

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/05/2018 - 3:43am in

Tony Greenstein, the veteran Jewish anti-racist, anti-Fascist and anti-Zionist, has today announced on his blog that the ‘Justice for Marc Wadsworth’ Tour begins next Tuesday, May 15th at the Indian YMCA in Fitzroy Square, London. Wadsworth is the Black anti-racist campaigner, who was thrown out of the Labour party by a kangaroo court on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism because he criticised Ruth Smeeth, the Blairite MP, after she passed on information to a Torygraph hack.

Wadsworth has not only campaigned for Blacks and Asians, including arranging for the parents of Stephen Lawrence to meet Nelson Mandela, he also had the law on racial harassment changed in concert with the Board of Deputies of the British Empire in the 1990s after a series of anti-Semitic attacks following the election of the BNP’s storm trooper, Derek Beacon.

It’s a farcical travesty that Wadsworth’s even been accused of anti-Semitism. Just as it has been for all the others, including Mike, who have been so smeared and libelled simply for opposing the Blairites or criticising the Israel and the Israel lobby. Or merely defending those who have.

On the stage with him is the comedian Alexei Sayle, who’s Jewish, and Jackie Walker, one of the leaders of Momentum, who was also smeared as an anti-Semite after she criticised the Israel lobby. Walker’s Black, but her father’s Jewish, she is a practising Jew, her partner’s Jewish, and her daughter attends a Jewish school. For most of us, this makes the charge of anti-Semitism ridiculous. But not to the Blairites and their allies in the Israel Lobby.

The tour is being put on by the groups Grassroots Black Left, Labour Against the Witchhunt and Jewish Voice for Labour.

Go to Tony Greenstein’s page at http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/marc-wadsworth-tour-begins-next-tuesday.html for more details.

Vox Political on the Private Police Force Now Being Unrolled by the Tories

Mike over on Vox Political has just put up a piece reporting and commenting on a private police force, My Local Bobby. This was first introduced in three of the wealthiest boroughs in London, and is now set to be unrolled nationally. He makes the point that we’ve known for a long time that the Tories have wanted a private police force. Now they look set to have one, while the real police are being run down and starved of funds and officers. He states that this looks like a protection racket to him, and asks what his readers think.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/08/private-police-or-protection-racket/

This another issue I really can’t let go. The Tories have been planning to set up a privatised police force since the late 1980s and early 1990s. I can remember Virginia Bottomley, one of Major’s cabinet, raving in the Mail on Sunday about how wonderful it would be.

It’s another idea that the Tories have taken straight from the Libertarians. It comes from the demented ideas of their leader, Rothbard, who would also like to privatise the courts. The Libertarians see themselves as Anarchists, though I think genuine Anarchists would vehemently dispute this. Especially as the Libertarians themselves have their own history of anti-Semitism. In the mid ’70s their journal in the states, run by one of the Koch brothers, ran an edition dedicated to denying the Holocaust. This included articles by some of the most notorious of the country’s real neo-Nazis. The purpose behind it was to attack Roosevelt. The Libertarians hate the minimum welfare state Roosevelt introduced with the New Deal. But Roosevelt is also popular for taking America into the War and helping to defeat the horrors of Nazi Germany. World War II is seen as a good war, because of the Shoah – the Holocaust. And so the Libertarians decided that to undermine the New Deal, they had to try and discredit Roosevelt generally. Thus the publication of the vile lies to try to convince people that the Holocaust never happened.

Then Ronald Reagan got into power, who supported the Libertarians. Finding themselves suddenly in the mainstream, they decided to bury their anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial to avoid this coming back to discredit them.

As for a private police force, there are several arguments against them. Firstly, justice must be the preserve of the state. Those who take the law into their own hands without the proper sanction of authority are vigilantes. And Fascist regimes have also incorporated right-wing paramilitary organisations as part of their police and military. The radical American journalist Chris Hedges, talked about how the Nazis did this with the SS. He predicted that Trump would do something similar with the paramilitary racist groups in the Alt Right, such as the violent, White supremacist ‘Proud Boys’. The private police here aren’t racist, but they are a private organisation carrying out police functions, and so somewhat like those predicted by Hedges. Which leads to the question: the Tories are deeply racist, as shown by Tweezer’s deportation of the Windrush migrants. How long will it be, if the Tories get away with this, before they start to give police powers to real, openly racist groups?

According to Mike’s article, these new private bobbies can use citizen’s arrests. Well, so can anybody. But the One Show a while tackled the issue, and it’s not as clear cut as it may appear. There are very strong legal restrictions on how they can be made. Put simply, you can only make a citizen’s arrest if there is a danger that the perp may escape before a real copper gets there. So these fake police are still dependent on the real thing.

Then there’s the argument from morality and efficiency. According to this scheme, you’re given the protection of this private police force, if you pay £200 a month. But what happens if not everyone in the area agrees to pay that, and some don’t sign up? Clearly, they don’t get police protection, which means they become at risk from crime. This is unjust. But it’s also a danger to the other residents. Say, for example, someone outside this scheme is murdered, and their home taken over by violent thugs. The private cops don’t move against them, because that person didn’t pay his £200 a month. But the occupation of his house by the gang also puts everyone else in the street or area in danger.

Private police are a rubbish idea. They don’t work and they’re immoral. Which is why this morally corrupt government backs them. This lot sound like a bunch of corporate vigilantes. And the fact that the scheme was tried out in three of London’s richest boroughs shows how classist this scheme is. The rich get policing, while the real police keeping the rest of us safe are deprived of staff and funding, making our streets much less safe.

Which is the Tories all round. It really is one law for the rich under them, and another for the poor.

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