the press

Radio 4 Programme Tomorrow on Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ Speech

Radio 4 tomorrow, 14th April 2017, are marking the 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ Speech with a programme in their ‘Archive Hour’ series at 8.00 pm. Entitled ‘Archive on 4: 50 Years On: Rivers of Blood’, the blurb for this on page 117 of the Radio Times runs

Amol Rajan reflects on the Conservative MP Enoch Powell’s incendiary 1968 Rivers of Blood speech, and the impact it continues to have today. And for the first time the speech is broadcast complete on British radio, as actor Ian Mc Diarmid reads it in full. The text of the speech included observations on immigrants taken from Powell’s Wolverhampton constituents, and ended with a reference to a moment in Virgil’s Aeneid, when the prophetess Sibyll predicts a civil war in Italy with “the Tiber foaming with much blood.’

The paragraph on the programme on the opposite page, 116, by Jane Anderson, the magazine’s radio editor, gives the following additional information:

It has been 50 years since Enoch Powell delivered his incendiary Rivers of Blood speech to a Conservative party meeting in Birmingham. Only a short section was recorded at the time and so, like presenter Amol Rajan, I have read the speech in its entirety. The post-Brexit vote echoes are rather chilling. What shocked me most, however, was not Powell’s own words – he was an incredibly bright and eloquent man, whatever his political views – but those of his constituents, as read in full here by the actor Ian McDiarmid: “Then the immigrants moved in. With growing fear, she (an old lady) saw one house after another taken over. The quiet street became a place of noise and confusion. Regretfully, her white tenants moved out.”

Lord Adonis has already expressed his very strong fears about the programme. According to today’s I, he has written to Ofcom expressing his deep concern that the programme should be broadcast at this time, and requesting them to order the Beeb not to broadcast it. The I‘s article also states that Ofcom has no power to tell anybody what or what not broadcast. The Beeb has also issued a reply stating that broadcasting Powell’s infamous words does not constitute endorsement.

No, it certainly doesn’t, and the selection of a British Asian presenter for the programme does indicate fairly clearly that this is not going to be an endorsement of Powell’s vile views. And there’s an irony here in the choice of actor to read the speech. If memory serves me correctly, Ian McDiarmid, amongst other roles, was the Galactic Emperor, AKA Senator Palatine, AKA Darth Sidious in Star Wars. Of course, there are probably very many other good reasons why he is the right person to read the speech. But for all the Star Wars fans, it’s still going to be the Dark Lord of the Sith reading out Powell’s evil speech.

I’ve no problem with it being read out in its entirety, if it’s properly critiqued. This is why I don’t have a problem with German universities issuing an annotated version of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. If you want to combat evil and racism, you have to study it, and take it apart to refute it. And Powell’s wretched speech has cast a long shadow over British politics. Yasmin Alibhai-Browne in one of her column’s in the I mentioned how some Whites mutter comments about Enoch being right without going any further. The NF used to sell Union Jack badges, which had around the edge ‘Enoch Was Right’. And last year or so Simon Heffer and other right-wing journos from the Torygraph and Heil published a volume of articles celebrating the noxious old monetarist, Enoch at 100.

The impression I had was that Powell, otherwise known as ‘Scowly Powelly’ as the other kids at school used to call him, really wasn’t racist. He could speak Urdu, and sincerely admired Indian culture. On the other hand, a friend I used to work with, who was very active in the anti-Apartheid movement, said that could have just been from a desire for promotion. British civil servants in India were paid more if they could speak an Indian language. He also initially believed that Britain had an obligation to support and treat well its imperial subjects. What he was unprepared for was the hostility to the new coloured immigrants from ordinary Whites in his constituency.

And the issues outlined in the speech are still with us. I’ve heard people complain about Whites being forced out of their neighbourhoods by Blacks and other immigrants, who wanted to take their houses. I’ve seen this complaint directed against Muslims by the Islamophobic ‘counterjihad’ websites. And the Tories are still playing on these fears. Mike earlier this week put up a piece about the Tories producing a pamphlet directed at the residents of one area around London. This threatened that if Labour got won the council elections in May, then they would increase the area’s links with the inner city so that the area would be awash with crime and drugs. In other words, a middle class White area would be deluged with Blacks and Asians, bringing these problems from their urban ghetto.

I also understand that some of the events Powell alluded to in his wretched speech were completely bogus. A friend of mine, who was very anti-racist, told me that they tried to investigate Powell’s allegation that old ladies had had excrement pushed through their letter boxes by ‘grinning picaninnies’. They couldn’t find it. Never happened. Another friend also told me that another, similar incident, was also imaginary. Another old lady had claimed that a black man had forced his way into her home, and defecated on her carpet. That never happened too. The old lady, apparently, was a nasty piece of work continually making up vile stories about her neighbours. She was, however, supported by a Black family next door, who looked after her, and who seemed to regard her hateful slanders as a bit of joke. There’s a whole chapter devoted to Powell and the ‘Rivers of Blood’ and its lies and falsehoods in the book, Bloody Foreigners: A History of the English.

I am also not convinced that everyone who voted for Brexit is racist. Some left-wingers voted for it because the EU is a very neoliberal organisation, which does have policies promoting privatisation. For left-wing critiques of the EU, read Lobster or Counterpunch. Many people undoubtedly voted ‘Leave’ because they wanted to give a shock to the elites governing this country, without actually considering that it might actually happen. Unfortunately, they won. And most of the people, who did vote ‘Leave’ probably were racists, as Tom Pride and so many others have pointed out.

So I’m going to say that people have a right to listen to this programme, and hear what Powell actually said, regardless of the dangers. I sympathise with Adonis, but at the same time, I don’t like anyone – including former New Labour ministers – telling me what I may or may not listen to. I sincerely hope that the Beeb will in this instance try to live up to it role as a public service broadcaster, and provide a suitably incisive critique of it. Regardless of whether Boris, Heffer and the rest of the Tories want it or not.

Private Eye on Luciana Berger

It was Luciana Berger, who found that comment by Jeremy Corbyn from 2012, commiserating with the graffiti artist, whose picture had been censored because of anti-Semitism. This was the picture, you remember, that showed six white bankers dealing over a table resting on the bodies of Blacks. The comment formed the basis of the renewed attacks on Jeremy Corbyn for anti-Semitism two weeks ago, despite the fact that Corbyn has said he hadn’t properly looked at the painting and didn’t really know what was going on. But it’s also moot how anti-Semitic the painting actually was. Only two of the bankers portrayed were Jewish. These included Rothschild, obviously, but the other four were gentiles, and included Rockefeller. At the time, the Jewish Chronicle only said that the painting had an ‘anti-Semitic undertone’. Now, six years later, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council worked themselves up into a bug-eyed frenzy to denounce the mural and Corbyn as anti-Semitic. It’s entirely faux outrage. The BDJ and Jewish Leadership Council hate Corbyn, not because he is anti-Semitic – he isn’t, and they probably know it – but because he is genuinely anti-racist and supports the Palestinians from his commitment to fighting racial injustice. Israel was founded on massacre, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and its policies towards the Palestinians are indefensible, except by attacking the country’s critics as anti-Semites. And so that’s what the Israel lobby – the Board, Jewish Leadership Council, Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Labour Friends of Israel, Jewish Labour Movement – has done.

I found this brief description of Berger and her political career in Private Eye for 18th – 31st March 2011, in the ‘New Boys and Girls’ column. This is the column that gives brief descriptions of the careers and activities of new members of parliament, who have recently been elected. Here’s what the Eye had to say about Berger.

She may recently have been voted the most fanciable member of parliament, and since being elected as Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree last year she has developed a drooling fan club of sad, middle-aged men in the Commons – but looks deceive.

Twenty-eight year old Lucian Berger is what the comrades used to describe as “right operator” . Within a few months of her arrival, Ed Miliband had already promoted her to the frontbench as a shadow minister for energy and climate change.

Her swift climb up the greasy pole began soon after she left the Haberdasher Aske’s School for Girls and went to Birmingham University, where she became an executive member of the National Union of Students, convening national anti-racism campaigns. She resigned in 2005, accusing the NUS of taking a lax attitude to anti-Semitism on university campuses.

She later took up a “public affairs” post at Accenture and went on to advise the NHS Confederation, but not before the rumour mill had come alive with talk of a relationship with Euan Blair after the pair were pictured at a party. Denials came thick and fast, not only from Blair but also from the Labour party, which took it upon itself to issue an official statement saying that young Luciana “was not, and had never been” romantically linked with Euan Blair.

One of her predecessors in the Liverpool Wavertree seat, the late Terry Fields, might have doffed his fireman’s helmet to her for the at she managed to get selected in the first place, for it came straight out of the old Militant Tendency’s instruction manual. While Labour was choosing its candidate, Berger lived for about a month at the home of Jane Kennedy, then the sitting MP, whose partner was the Labour official who ran the selection process, Peter Dowling. The completed ballot papers were then returned to Kennedy’s home address for counting.

A furious Frank Hont, secretary of the regional branch of the Unison trade union, lodged protests with party bosses, to no avail. Although veteran Liverpool Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle branded her a “student politician” who lacked the experience to do the job, Berger went on to beat Liverpool councillors Wendy Simon and Joyce Still by a margin of around 2-1 to win the candidacy on an “all-wimmin” shortlist. By this time, Berger was in a relationship with the MP and journalist Sion Simon, who was shortly to stand down from parliament to devote his energies to becoming mayor of Birmingham. The pair were talked of as a new “power couple”.

Berger didn’t improve her stock with incandescent Scousers by committing a series of gaffes that would have sunk a less shameless candidate. In January 2010, the Liverpool Echo tested Berger with a four minute quiz on Liverpool live and history. She scored two out of four, not knowing who performed “Ferry Cross the Mersey” and not recognising the name of former Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly.

In her defence, Berger said that “you can’t ask a girl a football question” and added: “I’m not new to the city. I’ve been coming here for the past decade through all different jobs.” It is difficult to know what caused more offence, Berger’s failure to have heard of Shankly or her reference to coming to the city “through all different jobs” – jobs, after all, being a commodity in short supply in Merseyside.

For a while it looked as though she would be given a run for her money at the election by Scouse actor and former union activist Ricky Tomlinson, who announced that he would stand for the Socialist Labour Party under the election slogan “Berger-my arse!” – but then wimped out because of “personal and contractual obligations”.

Once in parliament, Berger’s ability to upset local sensitivities continued. Last October she infuriated Liverpudlians by appearing on a Radio Five Live show with Kelvin MacKenzie, who was editor of the Sun at the time of the Hillsborough disaster and whose coverage of the story led to a boycott of the paper on Merseyside that lasts to this day. Berger’s lame defence was that she “didn’t know who the other guests were”.

With yet another little local difficulty somehow shrugged off, Luciana has also shrugged off Sion Simon and is now romantically involved with an equally ambitious Chuka Umunna, who has been dubbed “the British Obama”. With the pair already being talked of as a new “power couple”, let’s hope the Labour party doesn’t go and spoil things again by issuing a denial.
(p. 9).

She comes across very much as a typical New Labour politico – young, fiercely ambitious, very middle class and with a signal lack of interest in her constituency. Remember how Blair had various Tory defectors parachuted into safe Labour seats, ordering the sitting MPs to give way for them. The Tory defectors were immensely wealthy people, with very grand houses in London, and absolutely no connection to the constituencies they were given.

She sounds genuinely concerned about attacking anti-Semitism, but that doesn’t change the fact that the allegations against Corbyn and his supporters are grossly fraudulent and libellous. It just means she’s either very cynical as well, or that she really does believe that criticism of Israel equals Jew hatred.

And the circumstances of her selection as the official Labour candidate is so, er, irregular, that it could come from Stalin himself. ‘It’s not who votes that counts,’ said the old thug, ‘it’s who counts the votes.’ Quite.

It’s also highly ironic that she was propelled to the front bench by Ed Miliband. This is the Labour leader Maureen Lipman denounced as an anti-Semite, and claimed his election as leader forced her to leave the party. Miliband is of Jewish heritage, and in any case, anti-Semites don’t promote Jews to leading positions in politics. Lipman’s talking nonsense, but I’m sure you knew that already.

Her background with Accenture, formerly Anderson Consulting, shows that she is very definitely New Labour, with its orientation to the aspirational middle class and ideology focussed on privatisation and cutting welfare benefits. When Blair came to power, he did so with a plan prepared by Anderson Consulting, which the Tories had just thrown in the bin. She manifestly does not represent the working class, who New Labour ignored and took for granted. When Gordon Brown didn’t attack them as ‘feckless’ and responsible for their own problems, of course.

Her attack on Corbyn is all about undermining the Labour leader and preventing a return of real socialism, while advancing her own career as a leading Blairite in parliament.

Israeli Labour Party Severs Ties with Corbyn to Complete Indifference

Mike has also put up a piece today commenting on a report in Jewish News Online that Avi Gabbay, the head of the Israeli Labour Party, has broken off links between his party and the British Labour party because of Corbyn’s supposed hostility to the Jewish community, anti-Semitism and his attacks on Israel’s government and security forces, in which the government and opposition in Israel are one. As Mike points out, this is just rubbish. Corbyn has always actively campaigned against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, and his supporters include many Jews and Jewish organisations. Nor is he against Israel. He is just against the Israeli state’s persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Which is what Gabbay is really against. Gabbay is fully behind the dispossession of the Palestinians, and has described the illegal settlements built on land seized from the indigenous Arab inhabitants as ‘the beautiful and devoted face of Zionism’ and sworn that an Israeli Labour government would never include Arab members of the Knesset. He’s a nasty, virulent racist, and I dare say most people would probably think the Labour party was better off not having anything to do with him or the party he leads.

Labour Friends of Israel, however, see things very differently. They were complaining that Corbyn has never responded to their requests for a meeting, or gone with them to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. They have also said that Gabbay’s decision will not affect the Labour Friends of Israel, which will still continue to have ties with the Israeli party.

Mike in the title to his article about this states clearly that no-one’s actually bothered. Martin Odoni, one of the great commenters on Mike’s blog, has said that he believes that 99 per cent of the people in the Labour party probably don’t know that there is an Israeli Labour party, or that it’s linked to Britain’s, and probably don’t care either. Other commenters have also expressed their disappointment with the Israeli Labour party. They’d hoped for something better from it, but while there are some good people in it, it’s as pro-War, neoliberal and corrupt. Joe Sucksmith, another commenter, said that the Israeli Labour Party is institutionally racist and that Corbyn should cut ties with them. The only Israeli parties Corbyn should establish links to should be those dedicated to stopping the building of the illegal settlements, and allowing the Palestinians to return to their ancestral homelands. Both of these are demanded by UN resolutions.

In fact, a look at Tony Greenstein’s websites and discussion of the history of the Israeli Labour Party shows that historically, under Golda Meir and David Ben-Gurion, the party was as determined to massacre and ethnically cleanse Israel of the Palestinians as the right-wing parties. Rather than being a mark of shame, it could be said that Gabbay’s decision to cut ties with the Labour party is actually a good thing, as it means that genuine British anti-racists and opponents of anti-Semitism aren’t members of a party with links to the Israeli Labour Party and its policies of land seizure, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

As for no-one being bothered, I’ve seen little coverage of this in the I. It wasn’t completely ignored, but was the subject of only a tiny paragraph on page 2. So not exactly a major issue for the I then, although I don’t doubt that the Tory press will try to inflate this into a major crisis later on.

As for the Labour Friends of Israel claiming that Gabbay’s decision doesn’t affect them, well, yes, it does, whether they like it or not. By retaining links with Gabbay’s outfit, they have become a group inside the Labour party hostile to its leader, and with links to an outside, hostile party. As have the Jewish Labour Movement. Formerly Paole Zion, the Jewish Labour Movement has said in its constitution that it is the sister party to the Israeli Labour Party. This makes their relationship to the Labour party and its membership as a whole very problematic, especially if they continue to try to undermine Corbyn’s supporters by smearing them as anti-Semites and seeking to get them expelled.

Mike also quotes Tom Pride, of Pride’s Purge, who also points out that while anti-Semitism certainly exists, and must be taken seriously, the real anti-Semites are generally right-wing. They despise Corbyn, the Labour Party and the left in general, and love Katie Hopkins, Nigel Farage, Brexit and Trump, as well as the Daily Mail. Oh yes, and they also hate Blacks and Muslims as much as they hate Jews. In my experience, this is absolutely true. You only have to look at the letters pages in the right-wing press, and the comments section for videos about race and immigration on YouTube. The racist readers of the Daily Heil hate Labour, because they see it as the party of unlimited coloured immigration. More specifically, they believe the allegation of a former British civil servant that Blair was determined to increase non-white immigration in order to change Britain demographically and rub the Tories’ faces in a new, multicultural Britain. This civil servant is the only person, who has made this claim, but it was repeated by the Heil and rest of the Tory press, and believed by very many of its readers.

Mike’s article also includes a Tweet from Chelley Ryan, which includes a video with a Jewish lady talking about the issues of anti-Semitism and the anti-Semitism smears under the hashtag #wrongkindofjew. This lady’s family comes from Vienna, and her mother’s family were nearly all butchered by the Nazis. She herself was a member of the Labour party up to the Iraq invasion, when she could no longer be a member. She rejoined as a supporter with the election of Jeremy Corbyn. She has many Jewish friends, with whom she discusses these issues. She states that while she doesn’t say that there isn’t any anti-Semitism in the Labour party, she hasn’t seen it or been subject to it. As for the anti-Semitism smears, she makes three points:

1. It’s a distraction from Israel’s horrific persecution of the Palestinians. This week, 15 unarmed protesters were shot by the IDF.
2. It’s also a distraction from the greater racism in the Tories, for example, Boris Johnson and his vile comments about ‘grinning picaninnies’.
3. It’s also about the forthcoming elections, and the determination of the Blairites to undermine Corbyn so that they can return to power. She also points out that many members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the other Jewish organisations making the accusations of anti-Semitism are Tories. She is also afraid that the appropriation of anti-Semitism by the right will backfire. But unfortunately, it won’t backfire on the right, but on the Jews generally. She has a point. Other people have also warned that the use of allegations of anti-Semitism purely as a political smear is dangerous, because it devalues anti-Semitism, to the point that people may become indifferent to real abuse or brutalisation of Jews, simply for being Jews.

Other Jewish members of the Labour party and Jewish Labour groups have said the same, or similar things. They also have a right to be heard in this debate. But the Thatcherite political establishment – the Tories, press and the Blairites in the Labour party – are determined to make sure that they aren’t. Like Jewdas, they’re ‘the wrong kinds of Jews’.

Anti-Semitism and the Criticism of Corbyn for Meeting Jewdas

Last Monday, Jeremy Corbyn attended a Passover seder with Jewdas, a left-wing Jewish organisation. Jewdas’ members are religious, observant Jews, who combine their faith with left-wing politics and activism. They were glad of the Labour leader’s presence, and the opportunity it gave them to discuss with him topics of importance to them and Britain’s Jewish community.

This was, however, too much for the Tory press, and the very Tory Jewish establishment. The Board of Deputies of British Jews and one of the other organisations repeating the same smears of anti-Semitism against Corbyn and his supporters, immediately went berserk along with the Blairites and started making renewed accusations of anti-Semitism. According to John Woodcock, Corbyn was being anti-Semitic again because this was an insult to Britain’s mainstream Jews, who were being sidelined. This did not go down at all well with Corbyn’s Jewish supporters, who thought that Woodcock had a cheek as a non-Jew telling Jews what was, and what wasn’t, anti-Semitic.

Corbyn’s attendance at the meeting was a private affair, until it was leaked to the press. Corbyn’s left-wing, but not far left, and so it makes perfect sense for him to seek the company and opinions of those with whom he already is in broad agreement. The Board’s complaint that he was sidelining mainstream Jews is another piece of camouflage, designed to disguise their real complaint. They have been trying to undermine Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party almost from the day he took office, repeating the lie that he and his supporters are anti-Semitic. He and they aren’t. But he is pro-Palestinian. And as the Board and the other parts of the Israel lobby have decided that criticism of Israel equals anti-Semitism, they use the accusation to smear him and his supporters.

It’s questionable who the Board represents. The Board is very Tory in composition. Jonathan Arkush, its president, is a member of the Tory party. He sent a message of congratulation to Donald Trump on Trump’s election as US president. This is despite the vocal support for the Orange Fascist from real White supremacists, anti-Semites, Nazis and the Alt Right. But this doesn’t faze the Israel lobby. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former aide and another member of the Alt Right, has been invited to Israel to attend major state events. Richard Spencer, the founder of the Alt Right, has also appeared on Israeli TV. Spencer declares himself to be a ‘White Zionist’, and looks to Israel as the model of the kind of ethno-state he wants to create in America exclusively for Whites, just as Israel is the Jewish state. For members of the Israel lobby to accuse Corbyn of anti-Semitism after this is not only false, it’s also grotesquely hypocritical.

There are a number of Jewish groups and individuals, who have come out in support of Corbyn, who has a proud record of campaigning against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. Which is in sharp contrast to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which made a racist statement that Muslims were more likely to be anti-Semites than the rest of the British population. As for the Board’s claim that ‘mainstream’ Jews were being sidelined, this seems to me to mean the Conservative-voting, establishment, business types they represent, rather than the ‘mainstream’ in the sense of the vast majority of ordinary Jewish people.

And Mike has also pointed out how the Blairite’s and the press’ attack on Corbyn for meeting Jewdas is based on a distinction between ‘good’ Jews and ‘bad’ Jews, something which is itself anti-Semitic.

Mike’s not wrong there. Several of the works of the conspiracy theorists I’ve come across make this distinction. Since the 1980s there have been a stream of books from the American conspiracy fringe arguing that the global corporate elite are active trying to set up a world-wide, one world Communist state. This will remove all our freedoms and effectively reduce everyone to slavery. It’s the classic stuff of the nonsense Alex Jones spouts on Infowars about the evil globalists. The main villains in this pernicious fantasy are the elite bankers, like the Rothschilds, who set up, or helped to set up, international organisations like the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank. You can see the similarities to the vile Nazi fantasies about the Jewish banking conspiracy.

Many of these books also draw a distinction between ‘good’ Jews and ‘bad’ Jews. Rothschilds did lend money to Nazi Germany, even when they were persecuting the Jews. It’s a genuine crime, and the books have a point in this criticism of the Rothschilds and the other bankers, who also gave financial support and aid to Hitler and his murderers. They also make the point that millions of Jews weren’t involved in these schemes, and were murdered by the Nazis. Which is also true. They carefully make a distinction between ‘good’ Jews – the ordinary folks persecuted and murdered by the Nazis – and the ‘bad’ Jews – the Rothschilds and other bankers – who financed the Nazis. And the same kind of distinction is also made by others on the conspiracy fringe, who also promote these conspiracy theories. I believe there have been accusations of this kind aimed very squarely at David Icke.

In fact, the Rothschilds’ Jewishness is irrelevant to their dealings with Nazi Germany. They were bankers acting purely in self-interest, just like the various other big American corporations, like IBM, who also dealt with them. At the same time, there is much to criticise the IMF and World Bank for. They do act as the international representatives and enforcers of American corporate interests. Whenever a failing state in the Developing World is forced to go to them for a loan, they nearly always advise a programme of benefit cuts and privatisation, in which the companies being sold off are given to American multinationals. But this is a reflection of American capitalism, and does not come from some kind of secret Jewish conspiracy like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And the same is true of the bankers’ support for the UN and so on. This definitely isn’t part of a plot to create the one-world global dictatorship that keeps Alex Jones hollering into his microphone.

I’ve given these examples to show how the real conspiracy theorists do make the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Jews, just as Mike stated in his articles about this. It’s a distinction the Board and similar organisations are also making when they attack Corbyn for meeting Jewdas. Such distinctions have their basis in anti-Semitism, and show how the Board, the Tories and the press are quite prepared to ignore such concerns when it suits them.

Gideon Falter’s Lies and Smears at CAA Rally Against Corbyn

On Sunday, the deliberately misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism held a rally outside the Labour Party’s HQ, protesting against the party’s anti-Semitism and demanding the removal of Jeremy Corbyn. The CAA’s leader, Gideon Falter, declared that Corbyn had made the party a haven for anti-Semites and Holocaust Deniers.

As Falter knows, or should know, this is a flat-out lie. Corbyn has always campaigned against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. And the stats from his own wretched organisation show that under Corbyn’s leadership, anti-Semitism in the Labour party has actually fallen. It’s now lower than in other parties, such as the Tories, and wider British society, where it has actually risen.

But the CAA aren’t worried about such inconvenient things as facts. They’re true-blue Tories to a man and woman, and the organisation’s real purpose has absolutely nothing to do with combating anti-Semitism. They’re a pro-Israel outfit, who use the standard Zionist tactic of smearing the country’s critics as anti-Semites when they make awkward criticisms of it and its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians. This treatment includes apartheid, massacre and ethnic cleansing. But any mention of this, even by respected journalists, is rigorously policed and suppressed by the Israel lobby, who accuse those reporting it or commenting on it as anti-Semites. In the past, those reporters, who have been so attacked have included the Beeb’s Jeremy Bowen and Orla Guerin. And also Jonathan Dimbleby, when he made a comment objecting to the smears against his colleagues.

This alone shows how the anti-Semitism smears are a real, political witch-hunt, of the type Arthur Miller described in his classic play, The Crucible. This used the 17th century Salem witch hunt as a metaphor for the McCarthy witch hunts against suspected Communists in ’50s America. Which is also appropriate, given the way various speakers at the CAA rally seemed to be convinced that he was another Marxist.

In fact, the numbers who turned up for the CAA’s rally were small. There were no more than 250 of them, which is about the entire membership of the CAA plus a few of their mates. So, hardly a mass movement showing widespread discontent against the Labour leader.

And Falter also crossed the line when he demanded Corbyn’s removal. The CAA is registered as a charity. Under the rules of the Charity Commission, registered organisations have to be non-political. But the CAA has clearly broken this regulation by demanding the Labour leader’s removal. As a result, Tony Greenstein, a long-time critic of Israel, who has also been smeared as an anti-Semite by the Israel lobby, posted up on his website yesterday a new post about the internet petition requesting the Charity Commission to remove it as a registered charity. 5,000 people had signed it so far. Mr Greenstein was hoping this would double by the end of this week.

The CAA’s pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian agenda was inadvertently demonstrated by comic actress Maureen Lipman, who spread her own lies and falsehoods at the rally. Lipman turned up with a placard saying ‘Corbyn Made Me a Tory’, and made a speech in which she claimed that she had left the Labour party because of Jeremy Corbyn. Whoops! No, she didn’t!. She left the Labour party in 2014 after the election of Ed Miliband as leader. This was because ‘Red’ Ed had also proposed some pro-Palestinian policies. She was complaining then about how his election showed that Labour was anti-Semitic. Hardly. Most people would probably argue otherwise, as Miliband is of Jewish heritage. For some people, some of the attacks on him and his father, Ralph, such as those of the Daily Mail, also had very nasty anti-Semitic overtones. As Mike’s article on this shows, the internet has been having immense fun with Lipman’s selective memory. Jokes about her include the suggestion that she has a time machine to go back to Ed Miliband’s election, so she could resign then in protest against Corbyn’s election.

Lipman also let the cat out of the bag about the real, underlying reason for the protests against Corbyn. She attacked him for always criticising Israel, and sticking up for the Palestinians. This is exactly the reason behind these allegations, and the pressure on the Labour party to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that defines as including criticism of Israel. This is despite the fact that Wilhelm Marr, the noxious German politico, who founded modern anti-Semitism in the 19th century and who coined the term, defined it solely as hatred of Jews as Jews.

I’m not surprised Lipman turned up at the rally. She has appeared in the press making noises about how Corbyn is a supporter of ‘terrorism’. She said it a month or so ago in an interview in the pages of the Radio Times. At the rally, she also claimed that Corbyn was a Marxist, who was trying to bring it back because it had worked so well in the rest of the world.

As so many people have pointed out, including Mike over at Vox Political and this blog, Corbyn isn’t a Marxist. He’s actually centre left, closer to the social democratic consensus which advocated a mixed economy, strong trade unions and social mobility. George Galloway despatched the accusation that Corbyn was a Marxist a year or so ago. The Scots political maverick stated that he’d known Corbyn for a very long time, and he wasn’t. But why let inconvenient facts get in the way of a good, Tory and Blairites smear?

The accusation that Corbyn’s a Marxist says nothing about him, but it says plenty about Lipman and her supporters. Rather than being a ‘disenfranchised socialist’ as she claimed, she comes across as another Blairite, worried that Blair’s policy of handing large sections of the state over to private industry is now going to be stopped by Corbyn. Communism didn’t work, although the capitalism that succeeded it in Russia hasn’t made things any better for ordinary people over there either. And neoliberal capitalism is failing here. It has brought ordinary working people in Britain and across the world nothing but poverty, starvation and hardship, all for the profit of big business and the immensely rich. Corbyn’s right to end it.

The CAA’s rally on Sunday was a pathetic affair, at which they just spewed the usual accusations against the Labour leader, all in support of the real reason for wanting his removal: to continue the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians without criticism, and keep the Blairite neoliberals in control of the Labour party. It’s depressing to see Maureen Lipman supporting them, as normally I have a lot of respect for her. But all too often you find that people you respect have monstrous or repulsive views in some area or another, and Lipman is no different.

Tory Vice-Chair Admits to Hacking Labour Opponent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 10/04/2018 - 10:44pm in

Kemi Badenoch, the vice-chair of the Tory party, managed to put her foot in it in an interview with the Daily Mail at the weekend. The ‘rising star’ of the Tory party was asked in an interview what was the ‘naughtiest thing’ she had done. Unlike Theresa May, who said that this was running through a cornfield while she was small, Badenoch actually owned up to something far more serious: hacking.

She stated that she’d hacked into the website of her Labour party opponent, and altered the content so that it said nice things about the Tories.

Hacking is, of course, illegal. According to Mike’s article on the issue, it may carry a penalty of a year in prison. The Tories have been scurrying to defend Badenoch, saying that she only guessed the password. Which is immaterial. It doesn’t matter if she guessed it or not, she still hacked into someone else’s website. They also claimed it was simply a case of ‘youthful exuberance’. Which it may well have been, but as she was 28 at the time, she should have known better. Besides, youthful exuberance isn’t a defence either. I’m sure some of the thugs terrorising our capital would just love to get away with their crimes by pleading that their stabbings are just a case of ‘youthful exuberance’.

There’s also a more serious issue at stake here beyond the cavalier attitude to computer privacy by Badenoch herself. She holds an important position in a party, which has shown itself all too willing in the past to give individual’s confidential information away to corporate interests. Last week, Facebook was caught datamining 50 million users in order to pass this information on to politicians so that they could target individuals. It’s therefore fair to ask the question whether Badenoch is a fit and proper person to be trusted with issues like internet privacy and security, and how seriously the Tory party itself takes them, when they have given away personal data in the past, and their vice-chair has no qualms about hacking rivals’ websites.

Observer Unveils Launch of New ‘Centrist’, Corporatist Party

On Sunday, the Absurder covered the launch of a new ‘centrist’ party, which it was claimed would break the mould of British politics. And talking about it with Mike, I certainly got the impression that the party sounded very mouldy indeed. It has been launched with £50 million worth of funding, backed by businessmen and donors.

Yes, businessmen and donors. This looks to me like more continuity Blairism: claiming to represent the centre, while instead promoting the policies and business interests of the corporate elite. Just like Blair did in New Labour, when he gave government posts to a whole slew of businessmen in return for their cash and support. The party’s launch was also covered by the Mirror, which quoted two of the leading officials in the Labour party about it. One described it as ‘a party for the rich, by the rich, and with the rich’, which sounds very true, although it also describes the Tories, Lib Dems and the Blairites in Labour. Another leading member mocked the new party for having no members, no rule book and no ideology.

Well of course it doesn’t. It looks very much like Tony Blair trying to claw his way back into British politics. I don’t know if he’s behind this, but he certainly made murmurings about starting a new party. This party has been set up a party to appeal to the ‘centre ground’ he thinks are being alienated from Labour by the ‘far’ left Jeremy Corbyn. In fact, Corbyn is centre left, and is actually becoming increasingly popular as the corporatist, Thatcherite policies pursued by Blair and the Tories before and after him are increasingly shown to be failing.

He also doesn’t seem to have learned that far from being attracted by corporatism, voters are actually repelled by it. Blair’s time in office was marked by numerous exposes of his rewarding greedy donors, as well as George Monbiot’s book, Captive State, which described how, under Blair and his predecessors, the British state had been made into the vehicle for the interests of big business. Like the supermarkets, led by New Labour donor David Sainsbury, amongst others. Far from this attracting voters, the Labour party actually lost them as Blair continued to ignore the party’s traditional base in the working and lower middle classes in order to appeal to ‘aspirational’ middle class voters.

And its lack of ideology is part of its Blairite nature. Blair too described New Labour as having left ideology behind, by which he meant socialism, and would use instead what worked. By which he meant private industry, which spectacularly hasn’t. It also appears that Blair believes that this new party will also borrow, or work with members of other parties where necessary or appropriate. Which is back to Blair’s ‘Government Of All the Talents’, which included leading Tories like Chris Patten.

So far from breaking the mould, this new party is simply more of the same from Blairism. It’s also highly debatable how different it is from the other, existing parties. The Tories are dominated by corporate interests, which they have been representing since the 19th century. So too are the Lib Dems under Vince Cable. Statistics gathered way back in 2012 or so showed that 77 per cent of MPs had one or more directorships. This is a major problem for those trying to get our elected representatives to work for ordinary people, rather than the corporate elite. The same problem is particularly acute in America, which is why Harvard University issued a report stating that America was no longer a functioning democracy, but an oligarchy. Once elected to office, American politicos follow the wishes of their corporate donors, not their constituents.

This new party isn’t going to reinvigorate democracy. It’s unnecessary, unwanted, and if anything a real danger to it by standing to give even more political power to business people as its members and donors. It looks less like a serious contender, and more like a vanity project by Blair, trying to show that the public still want him and his increasingly worn out policies.

Woohoo! The BNP Has Finally Collapsed!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 08/04/2018 - 8:53pm in

I got this round-robin email from Nick Lowles of the ant-racism/ anti-religious extremism organisation Hope Not Hate reporting that the last BNP councillor has said that he will not stand for re-election. This does not mean that Fascism in this country is extinct, as it will and is taking new forms. But for the moment at least, it seems that Nick Griffin’s vile little party is gone. Here’s the email:

Hi there,

Sorry to email you at the weekend but I thought that every HOPE not hate supporter would want to know: it was announced this morning that the last BNP councillor in office isn’t standing for re-election. It’s official – the BNP are no more.

The BNP as a force died a while ago – and we face new threats from an increasingly online and violent far right. But it’s good to take a breath, to celebrate the official end of the BNP, and say thank you to everyone who made it possible.

I remember how shocked people were when the first BNP councillor was elected in 1993. Things were really grim from 2002, first in Burnley and then in Barking and elsewhere. 2006 was their breakthrough: 33 councillors and strong results in another 80+ wards.

The BNP was cocky, it thought it was its time. But we fought them at every step.

We campaigned against the BNP in elections the length and breadth of Britain, working with local parties, trade unions, faith leaders, the Mirror, and others. Lots of our work was crowdfunded from tens of thousands of supporters. I lost count of the number of leaflets and newspapers we got out in the campaigns. It was a lot. All in all, it was a truly grassroots effort.

I’m very proud of what everyone did to take the BNP from hundreds of thousands of votes and dozens of councillors to today, fading away with the announcement that their last councillor isn’t even standing again.

On Monday, we’ll be right back to fighting the far right in their new guises. But for today, I just wanted to write and say thank you.

Nick

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

Neumann then moves on to what Israel should do now in ensure its survival: it must leave the Occupied Territories.

‘with the acquisition of the
Occupied Territories in 1967,
Israel had a chance to make
handsome amends for the crimes
on which it was built. Saint-
lines or selfless optimism
were not required. Israel could
have sponsored and supported,
with true generosity, the
establishment of a sovereign
Palestinian state by backing
those amenable to reconciliation
and attacking those who were not.
This might not have been a just
settlement, but it would have
worked.’

American support for Israel following 1967 has made that possibility harder to achieve, and an exploration of this relationship is the subject of the book by James Petras. He dedicates the Power of Israel in the United States to Rachel Corrie, ‘US citizen and humanitarian internationalist volunteer in Palestine murdered by the Israeli military’. His style is that of the committed activist, in sharp contrast to the cool rigour of Neumann. There re times when his use of capitals, as in Terror Experts or Zionist Power Configuration, irritate. But while his writing is urgent, at times to the point of stridency, it is well sourced and invites the reader to inquire further into the areas he explores. Here is a flavour of the Petras style:

‘Through overseas networks the
Israeli state can directly inter-
vene and set the parameters to US
foreign aid in the Middle East.
The overseas networks play a major
role in shaping the internal debate
on US policy toward Israel.
Propaganda associating Israeli
repression of Palestinians as the
righteous response of the victims of
the Holocaust has been repeated
throughout the mass media. President
Ahmadinejad’s suggestion that
Holocaust victims might more properly
be compensated by land located in
Europe or in the countries that
victimised them was misreported, then
highly circulated to fuel, instead,
the notion of a rabid, anti-Semitic
Iran. From the height of the network
to the lawyers’ board-rooms, and the
doctors’ lounges, the pro-Israel
supporters of the network aggressively
attack as “anti-Semites” any critical
voices. Through local intimidation and
malicious intervention in the
professions, the zealots defend Israeli
policy and leaders, contribute money
organise voters, and run for office.
Once in office they tune in to Israel’s
policy needs.’

But hasn’t the United States always been subject to pressures exerted by those of its citizens with connections in other countries, be they links with Ireland or the countries of the former Eastern bloc? Petras accepts this, but answers:

‘The Cuban exiles in Miami
exercise significant influence
in both major parties. But in
no other case has linkage led
to the establishment of an
enduring hegemonic relationship:
an empire colonised by a
regional power, with the US
paying tribute to Israel, subject
to the ideological blinders of
its overseas colons, and launching
aggressive wars on its behalf.’

Who are these ‘overseas colons’? Petras has a very long line of ‘Israel Firsters’, people both inside Congress and electoral politics, and those unelected, such as Paul Wolfowitz and his friends in the Office of Special Plans driving the Iraq invasion, as well as many in the media. He tells us about the muscle asserted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations
with its Daily Alert (www.dailyalert.org/) prepared by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs; the American Jewish Committee; the Anti-Defamation League, and the Zionist Organisation of America.

Petras looks critically at the four principal US sources of financial support for Israel he lists as:

‘1. Wealthy, Jewish contributors
and powerful disciplined fund-
raising organisations. 2: The US
government – both Congress and
the Presidency. 3: The mass media,
particularly the New York Times,
Hollywood and the major television
networks. 4: The trade union bosses
and the heads of pension funds.’

In addition there are well-organised fundamentalist Christian groups with close links to Israel. Petras also sees the emergence under President Yeltsin of the Russian oligarchs (most possessing Israeli passports and having major financial interests in that country) as in part being due to President Clinton’s closeness to the Zionist lobby in the United States.

At times Petras is a little breathless in his description of the activities of those close to Israel, especially the people against whom legal proceedings have been taken after spying for that country while holding important Washington positions. This seems to be a measure of his anger and frustration at his native country being drawn into conflicts that he believes do not serve its interests. While I prefer the cooler logic of Neumann I also recognise the value of an emeritus professor of sociology like Petras alerting his readers in matters they can then look into in their own way and about which they can reach their own conclusions.

If Attorney General Lord Goldsmith advises prosecutions over cash for honours we may learn something of the financial network to which Tony Blair’s Middle East ‘envoy’ seems so central, and then perhaps something of the extent to which the Israel lobby has been influential on the politics of New labour. Whether or not the Crown Prosecution Service gets to dig a little below the surface of our political life, Britain could use both a Neumann and a Petras
to provoke examination of the way our electoral politics is linked to the fortunes of Israel. We should not be distracted by controversy over the veil covering the faces of Muslim women: there are other forms of concealment requiring our more urgent attention.
(Pp. 40-2, Winter 2006/7).

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

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

Here’s the article.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued in Part Two.

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