Month: November 2011

Balochistan And The Berber Revival.

The plight of women and girls in Balochistan goes unreported so this piece from the IRIN is all the more important:

“QUETTA, 29 November 2011 (IRIN) – Gehava Bibi, 9, is very excited. She is visiting the city of Quetta, capital of the southwestern province of Balochistan, with her father to buy some basic school supplies. She has never held a pencil or piece of chalk. “This seems like magic,” she told IRIN as she awkwardly drew a few squiggly lines across a piece of paper offered to her by the shop-owner.

Bibi has never been to school; there is no educational facility in her village in the Bolan district, some 154km southeast of Quetta, and like 90 percent of women in rural Balochistan, according to official figures, she is illiterate.

However, recently, an elderly villager, who had spent many years in the southern port city of Karachi, has returned to Bolan and offered to provide the girls in the village with some basic education.

Fazila Aliani, a social activist, educationist and former member of the Balochistan provincial assembly, recently told the media the reason for the lack of educational facilities was the “insurgency” in the province, “while a lack of necessary funds, absence of a well-defined education policy, lack of girls’ schools, acute shortage of teaching staff, and poverty are other factors which contribute to the backwardness”.

She said that except for Quetta, educational institutions were “non-existent in Baloch-dominated areas of the province”. Aliani also said foreign donors seeking to set up schools in Balochistan struggled to do so because of the lack of security and government resistance.”

Elsewhere in Libya, Berbers are hoping to revive their language and culture after decades of repression under Gaddafi:

“After the Arab conquests in the seventh century and Arabization policies promoted by populist, modern-day Middle Eastern leaders, Berber culture has been slowly driven nearer and nearer to extinction. In Libya, Muammar Qaddafi championed the country’s Arab heritage and even its African roots, but would never acknowledge the country’s original inhabitants, savagely suppressing their language and culture.

Qaddafi banned Libyans from writing or owning books in Tamazight and arrested Amazigh activists — including Buzakhar and his twin brother — to suppress the group and keep them from organizing against his rule. It was little surprise, then, when Amazighs became some of the fiercest fighters in Libya’s revolt against Qaddafi’s rule. Brigades from the Amazigh-heavy Nafusa mountains helped lead the final assault on Tripoli in August.

Now with Qaddafi gone, the Amazigh are taking advantage of their newfound freedom and trying to reclaim their long-suppressed heritage. Cultural organizations, spearheaded by eager young people in the Nafusa mountains and Tripoli, are working hard to spark a cultural revival. Women’s groups, arts societies, and education centers are teaching Tamazight script and trying to preserve Amazigh cultural sites.”

The Arab Spring Should Liberate.

Jeff Goldberg has a thoughtful column on Bloomberg:

“Cairo is rife with anti-Semitism. On my last visit, I met with leaders of ostensibly liberal parties who were convinced Jews were conspiring to bring about the collapse of the Egyptian economy (something that Egypt’s military rulers are accomplishing all by themselves). One suggested to me that George Soros, Benjamin Netanyahu and a certain “Dr. Rothschild” were working jointly to buy the Suez Canal from Egypt.

A BBC journalist named Thomas Dinham recently wrote of his own encounter with anti-Semitism in Cairo. Dinham, who is neither Israeli nor Jewish, told of one potentially dangerous confrontation: “Someone pushed me from behind with such force that I nearly fell over. Turning around, I found myself surrounded by five men, one of whom tried to punch me in the face. I stopped the attack by pointing out how shameful it was for a Muslim to assault a guest in his country, especially during Ramadan.” He went on, “I was appalled by the apology offered by one of my assailants. ‘Sorry,’ he said contritely, offering his hand, ‘we thought you were a Jew.’”

Expressions of anti-Semitism are common even at the higher reaches of Egyptian politics. Presidential candidate Tawfiq Okasha, speaking on the television station he owns, recently said, “Not all the Jews in the world are evil. You may ask: Tawfiq, what is the ratio? The ratio is 60-40. Sixty percent are evil to varying degrees, all the way to a level that words cannot describe, while 40 percent are not evil.” He noted that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is “one of those Jews who adhere to the Zionist ideology, which is one of the worst ideologies.”

Okasha did concede that, while even among the 40 percent of non-evil Jews there is only one in a million who is blameless, it is possible to “coexist” with this sort of Jew because they “do not betray, conspire, extort or view others as Gentiles.”

In Cairo today, this might count as a progressive idea.

The Arab Spring should liberate people not only from oppressive rulers, but also from self-destructive and delusional patterns of belief. Anti-Semitism, the “socialism of fools,” not only threatens the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and dehumanizes Jews. It also undermines rationality. It prevents its adherents from seeing the world as it is — and it will only be an impediment to actual change in the Arab world. “

The Stupid Host the Racist, Gilad Atzmon

Some stupid people around Bradford have decided to host the racist, Gilad Atzmon.

I say, stupid because it is probably better to assume ignorance than malice in most situations.

However, it is getting harder and harder to understand how anyone with access to the Internet could be ignorant of Atzmon’s racism.

Firstly, Atzmon’s work is peppered with conspiracy theories, a key componant of anti-Jewish racism.

Next, Atzmon constantly denigrates Jews and Jewish history.

Further, his “criticism” such as they comprise, are aimed squarely at Jews.

In short, any considered review of his work would have to conclude that he is a racist towards Jews.

Now the trite response is that “he is a Jew too, therefore can’t be racist against Jews.”

This line of argument conveniently forgets that it is what you do that confirms the charge of racism or not. Not who you are.

A person’s own ethnicity is a quinary consideration at best.

Rather what is most important is the content of what they say, its relationship to traditional racist imagery and myths, and how its fits in the wider scheme of racist thinking.

If you think a Jew can’t invoke racism against other Jews then ask yourself, can Chris Rock/Eddie Murphy invoke racial imagery when they use old stereotypes of African-Americans? Of course they can.

It it what people do, not their own ethnicity, that defines if their actions are racist or not

Or look at it another way, suppose a woman pushed sexism and sexist imagery, the retort “she can’t be sexist, she’s a woman” would probably be ignored by those keen to absolve Atzmon of racism as nonsense, and rightly so. Anyone can be racist, anyone can be sexist.

Any thoughtful person would have to conclude that such a line of argumentation is woefully inadequate as it does not engage with the content of Atzmon’s racism, which is the real point.

So we are back to those stupid people in Bradford at Raise Your Banner.

I think they should read this great piece by Nick Lowles at HOPE not hate.

Update 1: Over at Lancaster Unity, Atzmon Quotes From BNP Website To Attack Hope Not Hate. I wonder what his defenders at Raise Your Banner think of that?

Bigots In The New Greek Government

The JC has a piece on Georgios Karatzaferis, leader of the Far Right, Popular Orthodox Rally in Greece:

“The new Greek coalition, formed after the resignation of Prime Minister George Papandreou, held its first session on Friday, but concerns have been raised by organisations worldwide over the presence of the fast-rising, ultra – right LAOS party, the Popular Orthodox Rally, in the coalition government.

During Operation Cast Lead in 2008, LAOS leader Georgios Karatzaferis said in a newspaper editorial, that the Israel Defence Forces were acting “with savage brutality only seen in Hitler’s time towards helpless people.” He has also publicly questioned why Jews did not “come to work on 9/11″ in 2001 and accused the then-Greek prime minister during a parliamentary session in 2002, of having a daughter who “secretly married a Jew”.

The party has been condemned by the American Jewish Committee, after it joined the unity government together with the Socialist PASOK party of Mr Papandreou and the Conservative New Democracy party. At least one LAOS member is expected to gain a ministerial post.”

Observers have long noted that Greece has a serious problem with antisemitism.

The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism has documented problems in Greece for years, particularly concerning LAOS:

“In May 2009, MP Elias Polatidis (LAOS) cast doubt on the uniqueness of the Holocaust when he submitted a question to the culture minister regarding the erection of the Holocaust monument in Athens (inaugurated in May 2010), asking why the state has not demonstrated similar sensitivity towards genocides of other groups of people.

On March 27, the five-member Athens Appeals Court, a second level court, found well-known Greek antisemite and Holocaust denier and former LAOS member Kostas Plevris not guilty of “incitement to racial hatred and violence against the Jews” for his 1,400 page racist and virulently antisemitic book Jews – The Whole Truth. A “cassation in favor of the law [antiracist Greek Law 927/1979]” (which does not revoke or annul the Appeals Court verdict, but is aimed at protecting the public interest by preventing a wrongful judgment from acquiring the status of res judicata and from constituting a precedent for adjudication of similar cases in the future), submitted by the Supreme Court (Arios Pagos) prosecutor in July was dismissed in April 2010.

In the general elections of October 2009, the nationalist and xenophobic LAOS significantly increased its strength, gaining 5.63 percent of the vote (15 seats), compared to 3.8 percent (10 seats) in 2007. In the European Parliament elections of June 2009 LAOS (which is a part of the far right EFD [Europe of Freedom and Democracy] grouping) doubled its power from 4.1 percent in 2004 to 7.1 percent and from one to two MEPs.”

Marko Attila Hoare flags up ‘Abravanel, the Blog’, a Greek blogger with a superb post on the issue, Antisemitic Ministers and Holocaust deniers enter the new Greek government.

Update 1: I had forgotten Searchlight covered LOAS and the Greek Far Right in 2004:

“The widespread acceptance of these ideas was illustrated by the results for Giorgos Karatzaferis’ right-wing extremist LAOS party, which expresses similar ideas but has not been labelled as a nazi party. LAOS received 252,429 votes (4.12%) and its leader won a seat in the European Parliament as a member of the Independent Democrats group.

Karatzaferis does not want to be called a far-right leader but has a long history of cooperation with the nazis. In 1998, as an opposition New Democracy (ND) member of parliament, he called on members of Golden Dawn to join forces with ND and promised them the secretariat of a ministry in a future government. When the Greek Prime Mimister and ND leader, Kostas Karamanlis, was asked by journalists to comment on this by one of his MPs, he merely answered that “on historical issues there are different approaches”.

In 2001, having formed his own party, Karatzaferis made a speech in parliament claiming that there was a Jewish conspiracy behind the September 11th terrorist attacks. A Greek Communist Party MP, Giorgos Hourmouziadis publicly supported these comments.

In 2002, Karatzaferis included four nazis in his election list for the prefecture elections. Protests by the Antinazi Initiative wrecked the cooperation between LAOS and the nazis but LAOS still received 14% of the vote.

In the 2004 European election, LAOS included the notorious national socialist, Konstantinos Plevris, on its candidates’ list. Plevris is founder of a party called The Fourth of August (the anniversary date of the Metaxas dictatorship established in 1936) and was a councillor in the 1967-74 military junta.

He has also written a book about Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels’ diary in which he claims that Hitler’s troops “admired the Greeks” and that it was the English forces sent to Greece that caused the German invasion in 1941. In another book Let’s talk about Jews, he denies the Holocaust and the existence of the Nazi gas chambers.

The main ingredients of LAOS’ propaganda are antisemitism, xenophobia, nationalism and ranting against globalisation, the “New World Order”, the “Europe of the capitalists” and the so-called “global domination of Zionism”. These distasteful ideas are disseminated in the party’s weekly newspaper A1 and by its TV channel Tele-Asty which transmits all over Greece. “

Gilad Atzmon And The Friends of Palestine Society

News has reached us that the racist, Gilid Atzmon, is polluting students’ minds.

According to Exeposé, the Exeter University student newspaper, Atzmon was invited by the student’s Friends of Palestine Society.

Not unsurprisingly they deny that he is a racist.

No doubt the student friends of Atzmon will be able to explain away his conspiratorial statements:

“we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously…. American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the elder of Zion’ are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy. So far they are doing pretty well for themselves at least.”

Students with access to Wiki and web will be able to research how conspiracy theories are at the heart of anti-Jewish racism.

Hopefully having educated themselves on this form of racism they can not fail to conclude that Gilad Atzmon is a racist.

Times Higher Education on UCU

Last week the Times Higher Education had a leader on the University and College Union and its problems, many of which are self inflicted:

“For most university staff, the role of a trade union is first and foremost to secure members a good deal on pay and conditions, and second to ensure that their sector is run in the public interest – as was spelled out in a 2008 report written for the University and College Union by Jeremy Waddington, professor of industrial relations at the University of Manchester. Unfortunately for higher education staff, some members of the UCU’s national executive seem to view its primary purpose as bringing down the capitalist system or otherwise grandstanding in pursuit of impossible political goals.

The most notable example is the obsession with Israel. In the past, members at the UCU annual congress have supported resolutions calling for an academic boycott of Israel, which have been dismissed as illegal by the union on legal advice; this year, members voted to reject the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia’s working definition of anti-Semitism. None of this has persuaded Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders.

What it has done is create negative publicity for the UCU, here and around the world, and cause the resignation from the union of dozens of Jewish and non-Jewish members in protest. A recent swipe came from Nick Cohen in The Jewish Chronicle, who wrote that “[the union] – which represents intellectuals and so, inevitably, is the dumbest and nastiest organisation on the Left – refuses to accept any definition of anti-Semitism for fear that defining prejudice would restrict its attacks on Israel”.

Whatever one’s views on Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians, it is hard to argue that the UCU’s stance has paid off politically or furthered the workplace interests of its members.”

If anything it understates the nature of the problems in UCU.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign Replies

Over at the New Statesman, the PSC replies to Rob Marchant’s critical article.

Hugh Lunning argues:

“This doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is committed to equality, and actively opposes racism and anti-Semitism, because they are fundamentally wrong — this reflects who we are, what we believe in, where we come from.”

Yet Mr. Lunning fails to deal with the specifics of over 10 PSC branches linking to racism, clear anti-Jewish racist material,

Engage provide details of the PSC’s problems with racism in their post, Evidence is emerging that the PSC tolerates antisemitism:

“Follow the links. Make a judgment about whether and why and how the Palestine Solidarity Campaign tolerates antisemitism. Debates on defining antisemitism should begin with a detailed look at the phenomenon being defined.

UPDATE: More from Norwich PSC

Leicester PSC

York and Leeds PSC

Norwich PSC

Norwich PSC

Norwich PSC

Norwich PSC

Liverpool PSC

West Midlands PSC

Scottish PSC

Bristol PSC

Reading PSC

Camden PSC

Waltham Forest PSC

Waltham Forest PSC

PSC backed Gilad Atzmon

PSC hosted repeater of blood libel

Again, all the fine words in the world from Mr. Lunning will not make the facts vanish. He has not address why ten plus branches of the PSC deliberately spread anti-Jewish racism.

Gilad Atzmon And A UFO Cult

I hadn’t appreciated it but the well known racist, Gilad Atzmon is a Honorary Raelian Priest.

Apparently, this weird religious grouping, believes that humans are the product of alien intervention or creation. It is a UFO cult.

Rick Ross has more on these cranks. I liked this piece by Geoff Stead from 1999:

“Sometime soon, aliens will descend on the Earth and snatch 144,000 humans. The chosen thousands will be whisked away to another dimension where they will remain while the world they knew is destroyed.

When the dust of the cataclysm finally settles, the hostages will be scattered back on the planet to begin rebuilding the human race, mostly through cloning methods.

Of course, the theory is totally unbelievable….unless you are a follower of the bizarre UFO-based cult known as the Raelian religion. Surprisingly, more than 40,000 people world wide are devotees.

That includes a Gold Coast group based in Mudgeeraba which met yesterday to discuss their extraterrestrial theories.

Among the planned activities was viewing a video message from the cult’s founder, former French sports journalist Claude Voril-hon, who visited Queensland in 1997.

Voril-hon, who changed his name to “Rael”, claims to have been visited by aliens in 1973 who told him they created the human race through cloning more than 25,000 years ago.

“Human cloning is a way to eternal life,” said the cult’s scientific director Brigitte Boisselier. “We embrace it because the Raelian religion is a religion of science.

The “religion’s” head-quarters is in Montreal where it operates a theme park called UFOland.

Attractions include a full size replica of the spaceship Voril-hon claims visited him, a giant model of DNA and displays on cloning and genetics. What isn’t openly explained is why only 144,000 Earthlings will be taken when the aliens return.

For that information, it seems you have to join the organisation. And there appears to be no shortage of people who have signed up.”

I suppose the lesson is that culties can like racists too?

Not forgetting that David Duke is a fan of Gilad Atzmon as well.

(H/T: Adam Holland)

UNESCO And Settlements

David Schraub makes an excellent point:

“In response to Palestine’s successful bid to gain membership in UNESCO, Israel has approved a wave of new settlement construction, apparently on the theory that hacking off one’s own nose is worth it to spite someone else’s face. Seriously, one gets the sense that radical Palestinians can just play Israel like a flute at this point. Do something Israel doesn’t like, and watch as they furiously self-destruct.”

I am not keen on the tone of this article at HuffPost, but it makes some pertinent points:

“But the end of U.S. involvement in one lesser-known UN body, the World Intellectual Property Organization, may pose the most direct consequences for American business interests. If the U.S. is forced to stop funding the group, it would open the door to a possible contest for the attention of lawmakers between the pro-Israel and Silicon Valley lobbies.

WIPO hosts forums for the negotiation of international treaties on copyright protection. It is an essential outlet for Hollywood and Silicon Valley businesses seeking to prevent infringement in the developing world, such as from those who pirate DVDs in China and elsewhere.

The consequences of a diminished US presence in WIPO could be devastating, experts on intellectual property law predict.

“You’re trying to engage developing and developed countries in enhancing intellectual property protections where there are already barriers to your success,” said Suzanne Stoll, the former WIPO representative in Washington and now COO of the IP lobbying firm Raben Group. “Now you add that you can’t vote in the annual governing bodies as the result of a 20-year-old legislative provision involving Palestine. It’s not a good position for the U.S government to be in. You have to anticipate some diminution of your influence in that body. There are always people and interests and nations waiting to fill a void there.”

The State Department has said it recognizes these consequences, and is looking for a way to work around them. Yet it has also indicated they cannot see a way forward without new legislation.”

Hackers Vs. Drug Cartels

This is an unintentionally amusing piece on the proposed attack on drug cartels by hacktivists, who don’t seem that bright. It had never occurred to them how the drug cartels would naturally react if they were threatened, by killing anyone that crosses them. How terribly naive:

“Supposed members of the hacker-activist collective ‘Anonymous’ recently threatened to go after Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel, but reports now indicate that the fate of this so-called “Operation Cartel” may be in doubt.

As reported by the AP, the hacktivists’ latest project was announced in a YouTube video alleging that an Anonymous member had been kidnapped by members of the cartel. According to PCMag, the unnamed individual was said to have been “kidnapped during a street-level protest named Operation Paperstorm in Veracruz, Mexico.” The Register notes that the video was apparently uploaded to YouTube on October 6 but wasn’t translated to English until late in October.

However, doubts have arisen over the claim’s validity, and some worry about a possible backlash from the Zetas.

Following the wide distribution of the video’s English-language version earlier this week, security company Stratfor assessed the risk of speaking out against the notoriously violent Zetas and the likelihood of retaliation. “

UNESCO, Palestine, Syria And Julian Assange.

I think that the ultimate desire for a Palestinian state should be supported, as it is a very worthy aim. I won’t go over the arguments as Marko Attila Hoare does it far better than I could in his post, Israel and the West should embrace Palestine’s independence.

The decision today at UNESCO was a good one, however, the sour reaction from the US was not.

In related news, Tunisia has issued an arrest warrant for Mrs Arafat, presumably related to her connections with the dictator, Ben Ali.

Abuses against protesters in Syria is detailed at NBC.

Americans are worried about the gap in wealth.

The SPLC tries to help reformed Neo-nazis put their racist past behind them.

According to this report, weapons from Libya has leaked into Gaza.

George Brock looks at Julian Assange’s autobiography.

And a reflection on failing memory.