Hebrew

Labour Plans Rail Nationalisation that Will Save Commuters £1000 a Year

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/12/2019 - 3:04am in

This is another story I found in yesterday’s I. It’s by Harriet Line and it’s about how Labour plans to cut rail fares to save passengers money by nationalising the railways. The article runs

Regulated fail fares in England will be cut next month if Labour wins the general election, the party says.

Jeremy Corbyn intends to renationalise the railways when contracts expire if he wins on 12 December, and has announced plans to cut regulated rail fares by 33 per cent from January 2020.

The party estimates the policy would save the average commuter more than £1,000 a year, and says it would represent the biggest ever reduction in rail fares.

It comes after Britain’s train companies confirmed over the weekend that they will raise prices by an average of 2.7 per cent next year.

Labour has also pledged to deliver a simple ticketing system across the nation – with “islands” within which zonal rail fares will apply across all public transport. There would also be a daily price cap.

Labour estimates that the policy will cost £1.5bn per year and would come from exiting Department for Transport budgets. Mr Corbyn said: “Taking back control of our railways is the only way to bring down fares.”

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary said: “This is another desperate attempt from Labour to distract from their inability and unwillingness to be straight with people.”

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Rail companies have been calling for some time for changes in regulations to enable an easier-to-use, better-value range of fares, but it’s a red herring to suggest that reforming fares needs a change of ownership.”

There are two comments to make here. First, it is one again a piece of massive hypocrisy for Grant Shapps – of all people – to accuse Labour of not being ‘straight with people’. As we’ve seen time and again, it’s the Conservatives who lie and suppress documents. Like that report into possible dangerous Russian influence in the UK. And their reputation for telling the truth is so far down the tubes, that it provoked nothing but laughter from the audience during the Beeb leader debates when Boris decided he wanted to talk about transparency. As for Shapps personally, I remember a little while ago that he got caught trying to charge the taxpayer for Hebrew lessons, either for himself or for his boyfriend. I’ve got nothing against people learning Hebrew, and certainly not Biblical Hebrew. Or indeed any other language. But unless it’s something a politician needs as part of their job, they shouldn’t expect Joe and Josephine Public to pick up the bill.

As for the Rail Delivery Group, their objection is also easily dismissed. Since Thatcher privatised the railways, we’ve been paying more in subsidies for a poorer service. This is partly because of the way the service was privatised, so that rolling stock was separate from track, but it’s also because it’s directors want to make a profit for their shareholders. And that means cutting services while raising fares.

There is going to be considerable opposition from the Tories, as they represent the interests of big business, the proprietors and managers against working people and the ordinary people, who actually use public services. But people are fed up of poor services and the same old excuses being trotted out again and again by the rail companies. Nationalisation won’t make it perfect. British Rail was something of a joke when I was when growing up. But it’s better than what’s replaced it.

A Corbyn victory and nationalisation can’t come soon enough!

Ultra-Zionists’, Blairites’ and Tories’ Anti-Semitic Abuse of Labour Pro-Palestinian Activist

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/11/2019 - 5:12am in

On the 27th October last year, 2018, Labour Left Voice put up a post about the disgusting anti-Semitic abuse hurled at their consultant and convenor, Sally Eason. Eason had been on the receiving end of abuse twitter messages from Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents in the Labour Party, whom she had outed as members of a troll network. This continued for several years without anything being done about it, even though she complained to Sam Matthews and Labour’s Compliance Unit. So she left, setting up Left Labour Voice as a support network for socialists who were in the same position as herself.

Her departure from the Labour party has not stopped the abuse, and the post reports that there is now a third twitter account parodying her. This one does so as ‘Sally the Jew’. It’s because Eason is of Sephardic Jewish descent on her mother’s side. The Sephardim are the branch of the Jewish people, who settled in the Iberian peninsula. Their vernacular language, Ladino, was a form of Old Spanish. They are named after a Biblical Hebrew term that was believed to refer to Spain.

This troll account attempts to dox her and reveal her location as well as intimidate her. Labour Left Voice also notes that it’s stolen their logo.  It’s followed by a number of the anti-Semitism witch-hunters, including the head of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. It lists those following the troll account as

*Emma Feltham (Picken) Lewisham East CLP Labour currently under investigation JLM

*Euan Philipps (AKA @Bellatrixlittle) Tonbridge & Malling CLP Labour currently under investigation JLM

*Labour Against Antisemitism – Official

*Tracy Ann Oberman – Actress Ex Labour

*Simon Myerson QC Ex Labour

*Saul Freeman @nudderingnudnik – Ex Labour – LAAS

*Mark Hopkins – @lifeonacanal Conservative

*Professor David Hirsh – Ex Labour

*Matthew Ravenhilll – Chair Taunton West branch Labour Party.

*Steve Silverman – Head of Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA)

*Dan Fox – Ex Director of Labour friends of Israel

*Jonathan Hoffman – Consultant and activist LAAS – member of Herut UK

*Labour Intl CLP Moderates – AKA TheGreenKnight200 / RosalieJulius / JewsagainstJC – Jessica Jacobs-Schiff Ex Intl Labour / JLM LAAS

*Rosemary Emery – LAAS, Llanelli CLP JLM

*Chris Evans JLM, Labour and LAAS

*Zoe Kemp (78Soylentgreen) LAAS, JLM – formerly Hampstead & Kilburn CLP

*Denny Taylor – Current Labour member LAAS JLM

*Karen Bradley (RedTory2016) Ex Labour

*Gnasherjew – David Collier, Richard Millett, Simon Cobbs, Joseph Elfassy, John Arnott, CAA.

How anti-Semitic are the posts? Very. This is an example.

The post quotes Buddy Hell, of the Guy Debord’s Cat blog, as saying looking at them is like ‘bathing in sewage’. It makes this observation on the membership of this troll network and their objectives: to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn and his leftist Jewish supporters.

What is clearly obvious here is that rather than the left being antisemitic. We have a mix of Labour Right, Tories and the Far-Right who are working together to ATTACK leftist Corbyn supporting Jews. Their common interest: Ultra Nationalism and the fear of Jeremy Corbyn recognising Palestine. Jonathan Hoffman is a Conservative and member of Herut UK, a Far-Right organisation and can be seen marching with the EDL on protests but is also bizarrely the consultant for the outfit Labour Against Antisemitism, whose non Jewish operators Euan Philipps, Emma Feltham and Denny Taylor also follow the above parody.

It also reproduces a number of anti-Semitic tweets attacking her from various sock accounts connected with the Gnasherjew troll farm. Like the one below.

Some of those sending Eason abusive twitter messages were Euan Philipps and Mandy Blumenthal of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. The post goes on to describe the problems Eason has had combating these troll accounts. It says

Sadly Twitter has been no help at all despite continuously reporting the problem for 2 years at least. The previously Twitter suspended Gnasherjew brags of being reinstated by the CAA and CST and that they have a ‘human handler’ at Twitter. The problem is as shown above, that the CAA are part of the abuse. There is a conflict of interest. The CAA is worryingly also a police agency – although we suspect that the current Met police investigation into the CAA incitement of death threats to Corbyn will alter that relationship.

Another problem here is that Twitter is US based and the extremely Pro Israel Anti Defamation League (ADL) took over as Account Managers in around February of this year as monitors for antisemitism across all of America’s Social Media. Many times the UK police have said that US Twitter refuse to pass over details of the troll accounts. There is a political impasse.

The post states that the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism are – or were – under investigation for inciting death threats against Jeremy Corbyn. LLV reiterate that their mission is to help Left Labour/ Pro-Corbyn members, who were under attack for their beliefs by the above accounts and their superiors at CLP level. They ask victims of such attacks to get in touch with them and share their stories, whether its of vexatious claims or targeted attacks by the above, and give the email address which can be used to do so. They also conclude

We will keep you informed of the progress in the current police investigation as and when we are updated with any major news. As for now, we encourage all socialists to block the above accounts, be careful of the tone and language used in your posts and deprive these agenda driven accounts of a target.

At the time of writing JLM, CAA, BoD and the Labour Party have not responded to our tweets.

See: https://lableftvoice.co.uk/your-shout/f/october

Eason’s not the only one to receive anti-Semitic abuse, simply because she’s a person of Jewish heritage, who supports Corbyn. It’s been dished out to Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, and I’ve no doubt any number of others. Just as gentiles like Mike have also been abused and smeared as an anti-Semite for the same reason.

What is particularly interesting is that among the abusers from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Labour Against Anti-Semitism, Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel are our old friends Tracy Ann Oberman, Jonathan Hoffman Karen Bradley – the one from The Apprentice?  – and David Collier, John Arnott and chums from Gnasherjew.

These scumbags have, in my opinion, no call whatsoever to accuse anyone else of being anti-Semitic. Not when they appear to be posting vile anti-Semitic abuse themselves. And anyone wondering if there’s any truth to any of their claims should take a look at the abuse they produce and spread and then ask themselves the following:

Who is going to be more trustworthy – decent, genuinely anti-racist people, both Jews and gentiles, who are targeted for abuse, like Eason, simply because they support Jeremy Corbyn? Or a bunch of vile, abusive right-wing trolls, who fling around anti-Semitic smears while hypocritically claiming to combating it? 

Because that’s how I view them.

The Biblical Command to Support and Protect Refugees

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/09/2019 - 2:56am in

One of the great passages in the Old Testament that speaks directly to today’s world, is the statement in Deuteronomy that God loves and demands justice for widows, orphans and foreigners. Deuteronomy 10: 18-19 runs

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

(Eyre & Spottiswoode Study Bible, Revised Standard Version).

A similar command is issued in Exodus 23: 9: ‘You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’.

The commentary on Exodus in The New Bible Commentary Revised, D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A. M. Stibbs and D.J. Wiseman, eds (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press 1970) states that the Hebrew word translated as ‘strangers’ is Gerim, which means ”refugees’, folk seeking political asylum.’ (p. 119). The same book’s commentary on the two verses in Deuteronomy states that ‘this demand for Israel to love the alien is without parallel in Ancient Near Eastern legislation. While the Israelites were commanded to honour and fear their parents and to listen to the prophetic message, they were commanded also to enter into a relation of affection with the sojourner as a reminder of God’s love during the Egyptian captivity.’ (pp. 217-18′.

Now imagine the horror amongst the Tories if the archbishop or some other leading member of the clergy quoted those verses in a sermon attacking Conservative attitudes to asylum seekers, using the literal translation of ‘refugee’. They’d go berserk criticising him or her for interfering in politics, just as they attacked Robert Runcie when he was Archbishop of Canterbury for daring to attack Thatcher’s policies towards poverty.

The Biblical Condemnation of Lying

Exodus Chapter 23:1-4 also contains proscriptions against lying and perverting the course of justice. These are

You shall not utter a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man, to be a malicious witness. You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; nor shall you bear witness in a suit, turning aside after a multitude, so as to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his suit.

The people smearing decent, self-respecting, anti-racist women and men as anti-Semites, and suing them for libel when they dare defend themselves, like the odious Rachel Rily is trying to do to Mike, should not this passage and remember it.

Bonkers Hateful Riley Compares Durham Miners’ Brass Band to KKK

Has Rachel Riley’s mind finally snapped? Is she really trying to discredit herself? Does she actually believe socialists and trade unionists are really anti-Semites? And does she think that of all working people? I ask this because yesterday Mike put up a piece reporting Riley’s deranged sneer at a tweet about Durham Miners’ Brass Band. They had held their annual gala at which they’d played the Israeli folk song, ‘Have Nagila’. This had been put on the web by Charlotte, who tweeted ‘A brass band playing Hava Nagila at Durham!! Chag Miners’ Sameach friends’ followed by three hearts. This was too much for the hateful Riley, who commented

‘As tasteful as showing Black Panther at a Klan rally’.

Which makes you wonder just how much hatred Riley has for the organised working class. From this sneer, quite a bit.

It really is quite irrational, and a very nasty smear at good people. Hava Nagila’s a great tune, which is widely enjoyed by all kinds of folks. I’ve got the sheet music for it at home here, and have enjoyed playing it. I’ve never heard anyone say that it’s offensive for non-Jews to play it. And it’s clear that Charlotte not only really loves the song, but she also might be Jewish. I can’t speak Hebrew, but know enough about Judaism to know that the chagim is the Hebrew word for the Jewish feasts and holy days. So the phrase ‘chag …. sameach’ might be a special greeting or phrase indicating approval. It seems very clear to me that Charlotte enjoys it being played regardless of the ethnicity or religious affiliation of the people playing it.

And the Durham Miners’ haven’t done anything to deserve the implied smear that they’re racists and anti-Semites. They’re simply working people playing great tunes. They replied to Riley with the following tweet

Dear Rachel Riley

Your damaging comments regarding one of our community brass bands has caused great hurt to good people.

Hava Nagila has been played at the Durham Gala by many bands over many years.

We invited you to Durham to meet and learn from the men, women and children who play in brass bands, celebrating their culture alongside music around the world.

It’s a very gracious response to a very ungracious sneer. But I doubt that Riley will take them up on their invitation. She seems too convinced in her twisted views of the working class and their organisations. She really does seem to believe that Jeremy Corbyn, his supporters, and by extension the entire Labour party and trade union movement are anti-Semites who want the destruction of Israel. But as has been said many times by very many people, some very strong members of the Jewish community, Judaism and Israel are not synonymous, no matter what Benjamin Netanyahu wants everyone to believe. Nor do everyone, who support the Palestinians, including Jeremy Corbyn, hate Jews or even the Israeli people. What they want is for the Israeli slow-motion ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and the Israeli state’s machinery of oppression and apartheid to stop. As do many Israelis, to whom the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, pays tribute in his book, Ten Myths about Israel.

As for the Durham miners’ and their brass band, there’s absolutely nothing there to show that they in any way deserve Riley’s accusation. There’s nothing to indicate what views, if any, they have about Israel. And in fact, I’d say that if they’re playing it, it indicates that they have a positive view of Jews. The real anti-Semites and racists object to playing anything from other races and ethnicities. The Nazis didn’t like Jazz, because it was invented by Black people. Similarly they violently objected to modern music composed by Jews, just as they hated art and literature created by them, because they thought it was part of the plot to ‘jewify’ Germany. Genuine anti-Semites and Nazis therefore wouldn’t have played ‘Hava Nagila’ or any other kind of Jewish music. And in fact, for all we or anyone else know, some of the band themselves may even be Jewish, have some Jewish ancestry or have Jewish friends or relatives.

And there’s a nasty parallel here to the outrage Garrison Keillor caused last Christmas or so ago, with a comment he made which was very much seen as anti-Semitic. I think he was annoyed about the number of seasonal songs that had been written by Jews, like ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Rudolf the Red-Nose Reindeer’. So he posted a comment saying that Jews should stop colonising Christmas, or something like that. This naturally cause great offence, and people of all backgrounds replied to tell Keillor exactly what they thought of him. But it seems Riley holds similar views about music and ethnicity/ religion. Just as Keillor objected to Jews writing music celebrating a Christian festival, so Riley appears to hate the idea of working class non-Jews playing a Jewish song, based on no more than her own prejudiced views. If Keillor’s unacceptably prejudiced for his own comment, then so’s she.

It seems to me that Riley’s rage and hatred at Corbyn and his supporters is becoming increasingly irrational. Assuming that it was ever rational in the first place. it reminds me a little of the conspiracy theorists, who made themselves tinfoil hats in order to stop the CIA/Russians/Red Chinese/THEM beaming their mind-control rays at their brains. Years ago somebody made a documentary about the weird fears and myths some White Protestants in the American south have about Blacks and Roman Catholics. The film’s called The Darkness at the Top the Stairs, if I remember rightly, and records some really bizarre ideas, like:

  • Black people have a secret powder they put on themselves to make them appear White. Thus, your best friend could be Black, and you wouldn’t know it.
  • Roman Catholics are telepathic and use their powers to make Protestants think about Roman Catholicism. If you find yourself suddenly thinking about the Pope, it’s because somewhere a Roman Catholic is beaming this image into your mind.

I don’t think Riley has quite reached this level of deranged paranoia yet, but if she’s accusing decent people like the above brass band of being anti-Semites, simply based on her own weird political and ethnic assumptions and prejudices, then it seems to me that she’s not far off.

Mike in his piece about this nasty incident compares it to Riley’s own attack on Mike for his article reporting how she bullied a schoolgirl suffering from anxiety. He invited his readers to look at Riley’s tweet about the band and decide for themselves who they thought was right. As Riley is suing Mike, he also asked his supporters if they knew other people, who were as offended by her attack on the band as he was, and might consider donating to his fund to defend himself from her suit. Mike ended his article

It’s only my personal opinion but I think that Ms Riley’s behaviour is utterly unacceptable. If you agree, please spread the word about my campaign as widely as possible.

Did Rachel Riley’s ‘Durham Miners’ tweet upset you? Support Mike’s libel fight!

Mike’s right: Riley’s behaviour is unacceptable, but she’s getting away with it. As one of Mike’s great commenters, Mark C., says

Every day she is showing her true colours; this seemingly has nothing to do with anti-semitism, and everything to do with her hatred of the Labour movement and its desire to level this country’s playing field.

I wonder how long and how far she can go on before people in this country wake up and realise how crazy and venomously hate-filled she is.

 

 

Israeli Education Minister Condemns Jewish Intermarriage as ‘Second Holocaust’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 14/07/2019 - 7:17pm in

Here’s another item that shows just how vile the Israeli state is. Last Thursday’s I, for 11th July 2019, reported that Rafi Peretz, the Israeli education minister, had managed to upset Jewish America by condemning intermarriage between Jews and gentiles as a ‘Holocaust’. The article on page 24, by Bel Trew, ran

Israel’s new education minister has likened intermarriage among diaspora Jews to the Holocaust, sparking uproar and accusations of racism.

A spokesman for Rafi Peretz, who is a former chief rabbi of Israeli’s army, confirmed that he said that “assimilation is like the Holocaust” in a cabinet meeting on 1 July.

Mr Peretz suggested that the rate of intermarriage among the American Jewish community was “like a second Holocaust” after ministers discussed the increase in marriage between Jews and non-Jews in the US, the US-based news website Axios reported yesterday.

The inflammatory comments have piled pressure on relations between Israel’s Orthodox community and the more liberal streams within America’s large Jewish population.

Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, a US-based pro-Israel organisation, said: “It is inconceivable to use the term ‘Holocaust’ to describe Jews choosing to marry non-Jews. This… does little other than inflame and offend.”

Jay Ruderman, the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation – a US-based Jewish organisation that aims to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the US – said it was “irresponsible and disrepectful to talk about US Jews without talking with them”.

Okay, very many Jews are worried about the rate of intermarriage in their communities. The rate of intermarriage for Jewish men has been estimated as 75%, although the rate for Jewish women is much lower. This has led to some Jews worrying about the extinction of the Jewish people.

And Peretz is by no means alone amongst the Israeli state and its organisations in his attitude towards it. Civil marriage is not recognised in Israel, thus preventing marriage between Jews and non-Jews as equal partners. There is also considerable opposition to it. Tony Greenstein a while ago put up a piece about this, commenting on the outcry that occurred when a Jewish presenter on Israeli television married an Arab. Books about romances between Jewish women and Arab men are banned from the Israeli school curriculum, and there are religious organisations set up to deter Jews from marrying Arabs. These frequently cooperate with municipal authorities and police departments. Apparently Israeli television even carried a helpline at one time for a Jewish organisation that helps Jewish women get out of marriages or relationship with Arabs.

And this fear of racial intermixing is one of the reasons, I suspect, why various Israeli rabbis, secular authorities and pro-Israel groups in the West have been loudly claiming that there is rising tide of anti-Semitism here comparable to the 1930s. According to these fanatics, it’s all due to the socialist Left and Islam. For their safety, European Jews should head to Israel.

Some of this propaganda – which is all it is, there’s no truth behind any of it – is to solve demographic problems within Israel itself. The Jewish and Arab populations are near parity, and as the Arabs generally are more fertile than Jews, the Arab population could pass the Israel soon. Demography is destiny, and so the Israeli state is appealing for more colonists from Europe. Or rather, attempting to frighten them into emigrating by lying about their gentile fellows.

But I also believe part of this is also an attempt by the Zionists to preserve a pure Jewish race by isolating it from contact with gentiles and their shiksas. That’s the Yiddish term for gentile women. It’s not a compliment, as it comes from the Hebrew for ‘whore’, according to Tony Greenstein. The Zionists would like diaspora Jews to move to Israel, where they would be insulated from the temptation to marry and have children with gentiles.

And one method of doing that is to frighten them about the rise of anti-Semitism – but only from the Left and Muslims. The real anti-Semites on the Right are their allies, as they admire and support Israel as the kind of ethno-nationalist state they would like to make their own nations. And so we see the Zionist witch-hunters loudly denouncing genuine opponents of anti-Semitism and racism, like Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, while defending genuinely Fascist regimes as ‘good friends of Israel’, as the Jewish Chronicle’s editor, Stephen Pollard, has done for Poland’s Law and Justice Party.

Book on What’s Really Needed for Artificial Intelligence: Emotion, Spirituality and Creativity

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 06/07/2019 - 8:57pm in

The Muse in the Machine: Computers and Creative Thought, by David Gelernter (London: Fourth Estate 1994).

I came across this book looking around one of Cheltenham’s secondhand bookshops yesterday. I haven’t read it yet, but I fully intend to. Although it was published nearly a quarter of a century ago, I think the issue it addresses is still very real, and one that isn’t acknowledged by many computer scientists. And it’s immensely provocative. Gelernter argues here that the brain is not like a computer, and by concentrating on rationality and logic, computer scientists aren’t developing genuine Artificial Intelligence – true minds – but simply faster calculating machines. What is needed instead is creativity and inspiration, and that can only come from emotion and spirituality.

The blurb for the book in the inside cover runs

Is Artificial Intelligence really getting any closer to understanding the workings of the brain? Or is it, despite generations of smarter, more logical reasoning machines and more refined philosophical theories, missing the point? Is the AI model, for all its apparent sophistication, simply too crude?

David Gelernter believes that it is. In this dazzling, powerfully persuasive new book he argues that conventional AI theory is fatally flawed, ignoring as it does the emotional elements in the human mind. AI can go on improving its creations as much as it likes, but as long as it insists upon seeing the mind as a machine, it will always been building machines and not minds.

It’s time to tackle a fundamental truth: feeling isn’t incidental to thought, a pleasant diversion or unwelcome distraction. It’s essential, a precondition and part of all our thinking. A mind that can’t be irrational can’t be rational; a machine that can’t feel can’t think.

Spirituality is not failed science, anymore than poetry is botched prose. Significant as recent developments have been, suggests Gelernter, the real renaissance is yet to come. The new science of the mind will involve art and theology as closely as it does technology, and will owe as much Wordsworth and Keats as to Papert and Minsky.

Bound to cause a furore in the field of Artificial Intelligence, the Muse in the Machine has far wider implications than this, and far great importance. It is a book which demands to be read by everyone who values human thought and its achievements. If it offers much to intrigue and to provoke in its daring, wide-ranging discussion of the mind and its workings, it provides much, too, to delight and move.

It’s probably no surprise that Gelernter believes that art, literature and spirituality/ theology should also be important components of genuine machine intelligence. Not only is he credited as an associate professor computer science at Yale University, but also a lover of philosophy and published poet, with an MA in Classical Hebrew Literature.

For all that the book and its thesis were – and no doubt still are – controversial, he has correctly identified a major problem. Other philosophers and scientists, both of computers and the human brain, have pointed out that the brain isn’t a computer. Rather, the computer is simply the latest metaphor for the brain. Before then, the metaphor was of an immense telephone exchange. And before that, in the 17th century, when modern neurology was only just beginning, it was as a series of fountains. I also understand that many neurologists now believe, following the ideas of the paranormal researcher Stan Gooch, that much of human thought and cognition actually occurs deeper in the more primitive sections of the brain, connected with emotion. And I can imagine many atheists distinctly unsettled by the idea that true rationality also requires a spiritual, religious and theological component. That’s enough to send Richard Dawkins completely up the wall!

It’s going to be an very interesting, provocative book, and one I shall look forward to reading. And I’ll definitely post about it when I have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindu Nationalist Persecution of Christians in India under Modi’s Government

One of the ladies at our church gave a talk on Wednesday about the growing persecution of Christians in India by Hindu extremists, aided and abetted by President Narendra Modi and his squalid Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. This is an important issue for a number of reasons, and needs to be discussed. It’s naturally important to Christians concerned with the persecution members of their faith face in many other countries, but there are other reasons why it is important. It contradicts the view being pushed by the islamophobic right, that Christians are only, or primarily persecuted by Muslims. This is being particularly promoted by the neocons and Christian Zionists, like Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, who, it seems, are using it to work up support for Israel and for further western imperialist wars in the Middle East. Although the article was written for Christians, the laws criminalising Christian conversion and the mob violence they face are also part of a general persecution directed at other non-Hindu religious minorities, such as Muslims and Sikhs. Discussing the resistible rise of the BJP two decades or so ago, Private Eye’s ‘Letter from India’ described how the BJP was connected to the militant RSSS, a militant Indian nationalist organisation which was partly modeled on Mussolini’s Fascists, and which was responsible for attacks on Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.

I am also certainly not blaming all Hindus for the actions of the BJP, or trying to attack Hinduism generally. Hinduism is a religion with a bewildering number of deities and sects, and thus has an impressive reputation for pluralism and tolerance. The extremists encouraged by the BJP also target moderate, liberal or secular Hindus because of their support of Gandhi and Nehru’s vision of India as a religiously tolerant, secular nation in which people of different faiths could live together in harmony and peace. The Hindu extremists not only reject this, they also passionately and vehemently despised its founder. A week or so ago one of the columnists in the I published a piece about how shocked they were when they first met a Hindu, who hated Gandhi. The Hindu extreme right despise and vilify Gandhi because they wanted India to be a Hindu state, and believed he had done too much to appease the Muslims.

I am also very much aware that Christian has also been spread through imperialism and military force, and has persecuted non-Christians. I don’t approve of or justify this. Religious persecution is wrong, no matter which religion is doing it.

Christianity in India is very ancient. Before Europeans arrived, there was already an indigenous Indian, Syriac Christian church. The Mar Thoma Christian church of Kerala believe that Christianity was brought to India in 50 or 52 AD by the apostle Thomas, who was martyred in Chennai in 72 AD. In 883 AD Sighelm, an ambassador to Kerala from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, visited his shrine to present thank offering from King Alfred. Another apostle, Nathanael (Bartholomew) also visited India in the first century, who brought with him a copy of Matthew’s Gospel in Hebrew. Documentary evidence suggests that Christianity had reached India by the early third century AD. By 225 there was a bishop in Baith Lapat, now Shahabad in Northern India, caring for the souls of a Christian community that had been converted by missionaries from Persia and what is now Iraq. The following century, Bishop John the Persian signed the Nicene Creed, which had been drawn up as the formal statement of the Christian faith “on behalf of (the churches) in the whole of Persia, and in the great India.”

The Indian Christian population is 65 million., and comprises about 2% of the population of India, 80% of whom are Hindus. In 2016 there were 348 incidents of persecution in India recorded by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. In 2017 this increased to 736, of which 351 were violent. Many incidents probably haven’t been recorded, and so the true number is probably higher.

The BJP has also passed a series of laws, ostensibly against forced conversion, as part of their campaign against Christianity. These forbid the use of force, fraud or allurement in conversion. I’m very much aware of the term ‘rice Christianity’, dating from the 19th century. This came from the supposed tactics of some missionaries, who promised the starving a bowl of rice if they converted. The use of such inducements to get people to convert is clearly immoral. But the laws brought in against them allow Christians to be falsely accused of these tactics. In September 2017 the Jharkhand state government passed a freedom of religion law, which punishes those guilty of using ‘coercion’ to convert Hindus with three years in prison. Anyone, who wishes to change their faith, has to obtain prior permission from a magistrate. Christians have been subjected to violence and arrest, and churches disrupted because of accusations that they are breaking these laws. But the BJP is determined to roll them out nationally. The opposition party has also moved rightward to compete with the BJP, and there is fears that this will also lead to greater intolerance of religious minorities.

The tactics used against Christians not only include social exclusion, but also assault and attacks and sabotage of church buildings and private homes. They are also subject to boycotts, and a campaign, “Ghar Wapsi” (homecoming) to force Indian Christians to renounce their faith. Two years ago, in January 2017, a 50 year-old Christian convert, Bartu Urawn, and his wife were immersed in a pond by a mob for 17 hours by a mob from their village in order to force them to recant their faith. Urawn refused, dying afterwards from his ordeal. The police, however, recorded his death as ‘natural causes’. Rural Christians are especially vulnerable, and all too often the police arrest the victims instead of the perps.

Many Christians are also Dalits, formerly the untouchables, the lowest-rung of the Hindu caste system, and are considered impure and polluting by the higher castes. There is a quota system to give them access to education and employment, but these quotas don’t apply to Christians or Muslims. They’ve also suffered attacks on their homes, churches, and water sources.

See ‘Courageous faith: India’s pressured christians’ in barnabasaid, March/April 2019, pp. 6-7.

I am also very much aware that the Christian right in several American states is trying to pass ‘freedom of religion’ laws with the same intention as the Hindu extremists in the above article: to exclude religious and secular minorities from political involvement. It hasn’t quite reached the level of the Hindu extremists as described in the above article, but the intolerance of parts of the American Christian right is similar in intensity.

The BJP is, if not Fascist, then certainly fascistic in its extreme nationalism. Indeed, a prayer used by one of the BJP’s allies or constituent organisations is included in an academic textbook on Fascism to illustrate Fascism’s mystical component. The BJP is part of the growth of religious and ethnic intolerance throughout the world. And as the book, Falling Off The Edge shows, a major cause of this tension and conflict is neoliberalism. The doctrine of absolute free trade without any form of government interference means that conditions for ordinary working people across the globe, whether in the developed West or the developing world, has got worse. And as conditions of grinding poverty have increased, so people have turned on minorities as scapegoats for their rage and desperation.

It’s what’s behind the growth of fascism in working class White communities in Britain. And I’ve no doubt it’s also behind the growth of Hindu extremism in India, all encouraged and promoted by Modi. It’s one of the classic tactics of the wealthy elite everywhere to divert opposition away from themselves by claiming that mainstream society is perfect. It’s only ethnic or religious minorities, who are behind all societies problems. Minorities like Jews, Muslims, Christians, Blacks, Asians or gays, depending on the society.

But one thing is absolutely certain: Fascism and intolerance has to be fought everywhere, along with the neoliberal economics that force people into poverty, despair and racism or religious extremism, whatever the colour or creed of the persecutors or their victims.