Month: January 2012

Power, Armies And Unacceptable Demolitions

The excess of power twists peoples’ perspective, it brutalises us and affects our humanity as evidenced by US forces’ activities in Haditha.

That is true of the British Army’s long list of atrocities in Northern Ireland.

We can see that in the Libyan and Syrian armies murder of civilians and elsewhere.

Nevertheless, that brutalising and detachment from humanity does not occur overnight.

Israel’s occupation in and around the West Bank has desensitise many Israelis, leading to unacceptable behaviour, the demolishment of ordinary people’s homes:

“UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations has called on Israel to immediately halt the destruction of Palestinian homes in the West Bank after reporting a dramatic rise in demolitions in the past year.

Israeli forces destroyed 622 Palestinian homes in the West Bank in 2011, “forcibly displacing” almost 1,100 people, over half of them children, according to a UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report.

“The current policy and practice of demolitions cause extensive human suffering and should end,” UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, Maxwell Gaylard, said late Friday.

Gaylard said the demolition figures represent a “dramatic” increase on previous years and that tens of thousands of people remain under threat of dispossession, demolition and displacement.

Israel says it only demolishes structures that have been built without required permission. Palestinians say they are rarely granted permits.

Gaylard said he went on Thursday to the village of Anata near Jerusalem where seven Palestinian homes were demolished this week.”

Welcome New Readers

I seem to have got some new readers.

However, from my brief scanning of some of the comments many of them are not the type of readers I could wish for, as their remarks come out as intemperate, aggressive and lacking in any argument.

Please make an effort to read this blog’s Comments Policy and stick to it.

Posting here is a privilege, not a right.

There are plenty of forums on the web where abusive behavior is tolerated and even welcomed, please go there if you can not stick to my Comments Policy.

Meanwhile In Austria

We should never forget that those ideas and sentiments that lead to mass murder during WW2 are still very much with us:

“VIENNA (AP) — Austrians gathered in memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis condemned plans to hold a ball of extreme rightists later in the day Friday, saying the event’s timing transformed it into a macabre dance on Holocaust victims’ graves.

Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, celebrated each year on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Ball organizers insisted the fact that their event coincided this year with the 67th anniversary of the death camp’s demise was coincidental and denied suggestions that those attending were extremists.

But opponents vehemently criticized both the day chosen to hold the WKR ball and the political views of those attending it, suggesting it regularly attracts elements from the neo-Nazi fringe. The ball is to be held in Vienna’s ornate Hofburg palace, less than a minute’s walk away from the memorial event.

The dispute reflects both the distance Austria has come in acknowledging its role in Nazi atrocities and stubborn rightist sentiment among some here, who see themselves as Germans and Germans as the superior race — a common regional building block of anti-Semitism.

Some of the most bitter comments came from the crowd that converged on Vienna’s Heldenplatz, or Heroes’ Square, to lay wreaths for the victims of the Holocaust.

“You, who will dance and celebrate here; we remind you of the murder of two-thirds of Europe’s Jews,” proclaimed death camp survivor Rudolf Gelbard. Insisting that Nazi atrocities must never be forgotten, Greens’ Party head Eva Glawischnig declared, “It is all the greater perfidy that there will be dancing today on the graves of Auschwitz.” “

The Guardian’s Quibbling About Security for the Jewish schools

The Guardian is a strange mix.

On the one hand, it once had fine leader articles dealing with antisemitism and yet it has become the favoured online home of many anti-Jewish racists.

After much pressure it implemented some token measures to combat the most extreme racism frequently found in the pages of its Comment Is Free. Recently, it admitted there was a problem, as Chris Elliot wrote:

For antisemitism can be subtle as well as obvious. Three times in the last nine months I have upheld complaints against language within articles that I agreed could be read as antisemitic. The words were replaced and the articles footnoted to reflect the fact. These included references to Israel/US “global domination” and the term “slavish” to describe the US relationship with Israel; and, in an article on a lost tribe of Mallorcan Jews, what I regarded as a gratuitous reference to “the island’s wealthier families”.

Two weeks ago a columnist used the term “the chosen” in an item on the release of Gilad Shalit, which brought more than 40 complaints to the Guardian, and an apology from the columnist the following week. “Chosenness”, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are “burdened” by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.

One reader wrote of the column: “The despicable antisemitic tone of this rant is beyond reason or decency.”

Newspapers have to be aware that some examples involve coded references. They need to ask themselves, for example, if the word Zionist is being used as a synonym for Jew.”

Nowadays if you want to find an article which sneers at Jews or paints them in an unfavourable light then the Guardian is your paper of choice.

I am not surprised that the Guardian quibbles over government funding for security in Jewish schools, but significantly it doesn’t even ask *why* it is necessary, such is the poverty of critical thinking at the Guardian Media Group:

“Michael Gove, the education secretary, awarded £2m of public money to an organisation that he promoted as an adviser for four years.

The education secretary personally made the decision to give taxpayers’ money to an organisation that distributes funds to pay for better security at Jewish schools. Gove has promoted the Community Security Trust (CST) as an adviser since 2007.

Documents obtained by the Guardian show that Gove personally wrote to the trust confirming that the education department was awarding the money to it. He issued a public statement saying that he had “secured the funding” to the trust.

Richard Benson, the trust’s chief executive, replied to Gove twice thanking him for his “personal commitment” to providing the funding. Benson’s letter lists Gove as a member of its advisory board, along with more than 50 others.

All the money is distributed by the Community Security Trust to the schools which then employ the security guards. As the trust’s role is essentially administrative, none of the money is retained by the trust or pays for any of the trust’s work. “

It is hard to fathom the type of thinking that doesn’t ask the question, why in the 21st century do Jewish schools in Britain need such extra security?

Julian Assange On Russia Today

I thought this Guardian piece rather funny, if understated:

“It’s the television channel that has given voice to a thousand anti-western conspiracy theories, while avoiding criticism of the hand that feeds it. Now state-run Russia Today, the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda arm, has forged an unlikely partnership – with the self-proclaimed defender of truth and freedom Julian Assange.

One day after the WikiLeaks founder said he was launching a 10-part series of interviews with “key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries”, Russia Today announced it had won exclusive first broadcast rights for the show, titled The World Tomorrow, and was due to begin airing the show in March.

“Our viewers are open to the discussions that will be presented through Julian’s show on our channel,” the channel’s editor-in-chief, Kremlin loyalist Margarita Simonyan, said in a statement.

Assange fits Russia Today’s profile of giving airtime to views and experts it says are avoided by the mainstream media. But that strategy has meant giving voice to bloggers and self-proclaimed pundits who come appeared on air to proclaim that Freemasons were behind the revolution in Egypt or that repeated showings of the film Deer Hunter in Stockholm were a sign of Sweden being a US pawn.”

The Plight of Saeed Malekpour

Saeed Malekpour’s situation is terrible:

“Last week, the Iranian Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence for computer programmer Saeed Malekpour, whose photography program was used without his knowledge, to upload pornography to the internet.

Canadian resident Mr Malekpour was arrested while visiting his dying father in Iran during October 2008. He was held in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison for a year without charge, according to Amnesty.

He made confessions, which were later televised, to his charges, which according to the EFF include “acting against national security through propaganda” and “production and publication of obscene materials through computer systems”.

However, in a letter sent from the prison in March 2010, Mr Malekpour states, he retracted these confessions, stating they had been given under duress after prolonged interrogation and torture by the “Revolutionary Guards Cyber Counterattack” team. He also wrote that he still not been allowed to visit his lawyer.”

The Palestine Telegraph And Racism

[Warning, by necessity and as an illustration this post contains links to racist web sites and material. Apologies. ]

One of my readers asked me to “find any racist material in a 4-5 minute trawl of the Palestine Telegraph home page today.”

Cleverly, the request is deliberately restricted to the homepage of the Palestine Telegraph, which we could assume, as with many racist websites, is not going to have the most hard-hitting material.

Often when you study racist websites you find the salacious racism hidden behind a nice facade, and so it is with the Palestine Telegraph.

Readers should bear in mind that racism comes in many different strands and intensities. Those that push it do not always use the crudest methods, as can be seen below.

Firstly, on the front page of the Palestine Telegraph, there is a picture of Newt Gingrich, surprisingly wearing a kippah and the article contains this piece:

“It is generally considered taboo in the United States and even evidence of “anti-Semitism” to talk about the influence of “Jewish” or pro-Israel money in elections. That a former Gingrich advisor and well-known Republican pundit is doing so openly is a notable development.”

So in this piece we see two main messages, one that Newt Gingrich is beholden to Jews and there is ‘the influence of “Jewish” or pro-Israel money in elections‘. Therefore, according to the article, it is Jews that somehow buy elections in the US.

Still it is not that crude, more of what American call a political dog whistle.

Now anyone remotely familiar with old fashion antisemitic imagry will remember the racist lie about “Jews controlling the world”, which has mutated to “Jews control US elections”.

Secondly, there is a piece entitled “The Jews go to war (with themselves)” taken from the well known racist site, Redress.

The piece’s author, Lawrence Davidson, believes there is a dictatorship in Israel as evidence in this contribution “Zionist-Israeli Dictatorship Comes to Full Cycle With Netanyahu” where he argues:

“About five million Jews enjoy full rights while eleven million Palestinian Christians and Muslims have been denied any human rights, deprived of citizenship, and half of them have been forced to live under the brutal Israeli military occupation since 1967.

Only about one and a half million Palestinians were allowed to stay inside the Zionist state with citizenship but without equal rights.

Now the Zionist dictatorship is extending suppression to Jews, showing the dictatorial, racist, apartheid Israeli regime for what it really is.”

I won’t pick apart the obvious mathematical error of 11 million and the monomaniacal tone which aggressively exudes from his work, but suffice to say Dr. Davidson’s hyperbole suggests that he doesn’t know what real dictatorships, like Burma, North Korea, etc look like.

Looking at the opinion pieces in the Palestine Telegraph we are treated to a meandering tract from Laura Booth where she quotes the racist, Gilad Atzmon:

“In 2003, he wrote in an essay; ‘There is no anti-Semitism any more. In the devastating reality created by the Jewish state, anti-Semitism has been replaced by political reaction’. This is a point he returns to this evening. “

That is a common theme found amongst anti-Jewish racists. They don’t want to have to deal with or explain the reality of racial violence against Jews in Britain, which even the BBC and the Guardian report on.

Elsewhere the Palestine Telegraph asks the question, “Which is more evil, al-Qaeda or Israel?” By now readers can guess what the Palestine Telegraph’s answer is.

Not unsurprisingly, the Palestine Telegraph publishes a very sympathetic piece on Fred Toben, well-known Holocaust denier. That’s just for starters.

So racism, yes, you can find it at the Palestine Telegraph. It is not always the crude stuff of neo-Nazi web sites. They learnt their lesson after pushing David Dukes videos. The racism is there, if you are sensitive to it.

One final example from the Palestine Telegraph:

It turns out that WW1 and WW2 were planned in advance for the sake of a group following the dictates of Zionism, a non religious socio-political Ideology which puts their leaders at the top of a Pyramid, while the rest of mankind, their “servants” are piled in a heap right at the bottom, unaware of what is being instigated at the pinnacle of this structured pyramid!! It is not too dissimilar to a Social Class Ladder: the working class, that is the masses or, I prefer to use a stronger and more apt term, the Servants/Slaves; then we have the Middle class, the middle men who in turn receive their delegated orders from the higher echelons of society, their MASTERS, the Elite, Aristocracy, the “Illuminati Factor” in fact, the billionaires in Power, who are covertly controlling our world and our communities and lives, choosing methods that are abhorrent to a fair, just ethical moral Society.

These Masters, controlled by such luminaries as the Rothschild Dynasty, have been working in the wings establishing their Corporate Financial and Imperialist ,Colonialist Empire, getting richer by the day, their power increasing by the hour, while their servants, their minions, their puppets do all the hard work, shed blood sweat and tears, and physical and mental sacrifice.”

The Palestine Telegraph is replete with monomaniacs, racists and 911 truthers, so those that read it should be aware of its authors and their obvious agenda, the advancement of anti-Jewish racism.

I do not believe it is representative of Palestinian opinions as it is published in Britain and many of its authors are not Palestinians, rather people with serious chips on their shoulders, against Jews.

The Palestine Telegraph is filled with negative imagery of Jews, conspiracy theories, the works of racists, etc., it should be avoided by anyone who is genuinely committed to anti-racism and those that wish a peaceful resolution to conflicts in the Middle East.

Duke University

This article deserves more coverage:

“DURHAM, N.C. — A group of about two dozen Duke University students urged administrators Tuesday to create a better climate and provide more financial support for black students, saying they’ve been disappointed so far in how top officials have reacted to their viewpoints.

The students, almost all of whom were black, unsuccessfully sought a meeting with university President Richard Brodhead at his campus office in hopes of explaining a document they describe as a call to action for the prestigious, private southern school.

Concerns range from the future location of a black culture center to the lack of support for a black student group’s annual event and a recent study that suggested African-American students switched to less-difficult majors. “

Jeremy Moodey and The PSC Set Me Thinking

[Warning: by necessity this post contains links to racist web sites, as evidence. Apologies. ]

After my brief exchange with Jeremy Moodey I decided to test a theory.

I wondered how long it would take me to find something really unsavory in the posts of a pro-Palestinian activist? A day? A week? Or even longer?

As I knew Jeremy said he doesn’t “have an anti-Semitic bone in my body”, and I believe him, he seemed a good candidate.

If Jeremy was right it would take ages or be an impossible task.

Sadly, it was shockingly easy.

Exhibit no. 1,
Jeremy Moodey’s Twitter account is following the unusually named wikizionism. They seem to be a neo-Nazi creation as suggested by their publishing of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and a piece by William Pierce. He was the brains behind the National Alliance, the American neo-Nazis and the author of the Turner Diaries. There’s a lot more racist filth there, but that enough.

That took about 30 seconds, allowing for a slow Twitter.

Next, I wondered if Jeremy had pushed any links to antisemitic sites in his tweets, by mistake of course.

That I thought would be harder and take forever, as Jeremy wasn’t some crank.

In fact, Jeremy was a potential Tory candidate and is an ex-Banker. Obviously he’s very smart, not a hothead or flake material, so presumably would see through any disguised racism.

Exhibit no. 2, Jeremy approvingly links to a Palestinian Telegraph article:

“Article on how the Board of Deputies stifles free speech in the UK through unfounded accusations of anti-semitism dld.bz/a88Qb

Readers will remember how the Palestine Telegraph published a David Duke video and wrote revolting articles accusing Jews of organ theft. I could go on, but a quick scan of their articles reveals that same disgusting conspiratorial racist tone. Yuck.

Exhibit no. 3,

“#PSC is under pressure from allegations of a Marxist takeover and (wrongly) anti-Semitism. Should be an interesting AGM bit.ly/z8yIHY

I was going to stop there, but it occurred to me that Jeremy had, conceivably, a dark sense of humour when he linked to the racist Uprooted Palestinians blog. Or perhaps I am being charitable?

It is a Gilad Atzmon fan site and run by the cranks, Stephen Lendman and Stuart Littlewood. If you ever want to see naked racism and 9/11 truthers then such a blog is made for you.

That took about 3 minutes.

So in the space of about 4-5 minutes it was trivial to find how a PSC supporter (and I assume Jeremy is one) used racist material, linked to it or at the very least read it.

I imagine the defence would be something like “these were mistakes, trivia, not of consequence” or something similar. The problem with that excuse is, I should not have been able to find any racist material in the first place, connected to a PSC supporter but I did.

As I said, I believe him when he says “I do not have an anti-Semitic bone in my body “.

But then again maybe we define antisemitism differently?

I am sure that Jeremy is one of that 81% of PSCers that reject Holocaust denial.

I can only guess what would have happened had I looked into the PSC’s 17%. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

[But enough of the humour, just in case people misunderstand me. Having read Jeremy Moodey's tweets with some care, I do not believe he is an antisemite, or anything close to that. He strikes me as having a genuine concern for Christians in Israel/West Bank.

Yet it is disturbing to find racist material so nearby. Not 100% sure what to make of it.]

Palestine Solidarity Campaign and The Question Of Racism.

I am indebted to Jeremy Moodey and Anthony Cooper for pointing me towards the controversy around the UK’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Surprisingly, at the weekend their annual general meeting upheld the decision to expel a rather nasty racist.

However, there was opposition to the expulsion, some 81% of delegates voted for it, about 19% were against it or abstained.

Cynics may suggest that means that the PSC has about 17% racists in its ranks, but I am sure that is not the case. How could it be?

Still, Jeremy Moodey and Anthony Cooper set me thinking. Jeremy argues that “Zionists” (whoever they might be) shut down debate, but he can’t really see the other side of the story.

That is when ‘anti-Zionists’ shout and scream about “Hasbara”, “Zionist propaganda” and “Media control” instead of looking at the occurrences of anti-Jewish racism found close to home.

That ultimately leads to a shouting match, which doesn’t actually answer why anti-Jewish racism is so often found close to, or accidentally pushed by Western supporters of the Palestinians’ cause.

[And let me say here and now, I think it's perfectly possible to criticise the government of Israel for its actions, as one could do with any government, as long as one avoids racist imagery, demagogic language and double standards.

Further, I think it does the Palestinians cause no good to be associated with racists, the Far Right and extremists in the West.]

The problem in many of these discussions is bad faith.

The assumption that naturally the other side in these debates are evil, wicked or mendacious. I think that’s a fairly pointless exercise, even if it were true.

Moreover, it doesn’t provide any meaningful answer to the questions, why do racists become drawn to these campaigns in the West, and why aren’t they ferreted out sooner?

In my experience, you don’t have to look very hard or long to find racism around these campaigns or the activists. I don’t mean that everyone is a racist or anywhere close, but as they wade knee deep in vitriol and invective against “Zionists” that racism pops out.

One of many examples is the case of Jenna Delich, Bob From Brockley explains:

“If you haven’t already read about British academic and trade union member Jenna Delich, who cites David Duke’s website in support of a boycott of Israel, and about the UCU activists who have threatened action against Harry’s Place for publicising the scandal, then below are some places you can read about it.

It is worth noting that the article to which Jenna Delich linked is not by David Duke. It is by one Joe Quinn and originally appeared on a 9/11 Truth Cult site called sott.net. It would not have reflected well on Jenna D if she had found the article there, but she didn’t; she found it on a Ku Klux Klan site, which reflects on her rather worse.”

Rather than admit her mistake, Ms. Delich sought to shut down the web site that first covered it and in the process brought more attention to her actions.

It would be far better if these “activists” made a serious effort to understand anti-Jewish racism, the Far Right and tread more carefully, lest people assume the worst.

Goodbye Lancaster Unity

I always found Lancaster Unity a good read but sadly it is shutting up shop.

There are many alternatives, a few listed on my side bar, but not forgetting Ketlan’s new blog at Searchlight and Anti-Fascists Online.

Goodbye Lancaster Unity and thanks for your sterling work.

Two Students’ Experiences Of Antisemitism

The Huff Post had a piece by Jay Stoll, an LSE student, reflecting on how a certain type of racism is now to be found on British campuses:

“The two most galling cases of anti-Semitism on campuses in recent years have occurred at Oxford and now, LSE. The former being of course when Oxford Students deemed it appropriate fancy dress to arrive at a party dressed as Orthodox Jews, carrying ‘bags of money’. It is also worth noting recently disgraced MP Aiden Burley was Oxford-educated and in fact, a former officer of the OU Conservative Association. Again, not a reflection upon the institutions themselves, but such knowledge should highlight the depressing reality of said instances occurring in the top academic arenas. This also prompt a reality check, regarding where and to whom specifically, we attribute our focus in fighting racism.

The abhorrent BNP and the EDL, and even certain national publications, are all too quick in their McCarthyist agenda to embarrass the Muslim community with constant vilification for their extreme few. Yet when it comes to ‘fig-leaf’ anti-Semitism, I would argue the true ignorance stems from those who they would look last to accuse.

The recent UJS survey, conducted by IPSOS Mori and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, highlighted that 20% of Jewish students had experienced anti-Semitism, and a further 32% had witnessed anti-Semitism in the last academic year. Most Jewish students, therefore, live a happy and normal university life, with issues such as job prospects and a healthy social life (!) paramount, but this does not detract whatsoever from the severity of instances such as these. “

That led me to Leo Boe’s description of what happened to him on an anti-cuts demo:

“We gathered by LSE Students’ Union by Aldwych Street, waiting for the march to begin. The atmosphere was fantastic, and everyone was in good spirits, in solidarity with one another. Regardless of the kind of political or activist background, students were there en force to send one clear message to the government, or at least, that’s what I thought.

Whilst walking around the crowds, admiring slogans and placards, a student handing out a magazine stopped and asked if I wanted a copy. Before I had the opportunity to answer he told me that he knew who I was and that he followed me on Twitter. Rather taken aback and wondering indeed whether this was true, I asked if I could have a copy of the publication he was handing out. The rest of the conversation went something like this:
“You tweet a lot about Israel”

Feeling rather uncomfortable, “not that much”, I responded. Before I had the chance to say anything else, “yeah and about how much you hate Palestinians”
“I’ve never tweeted let alone said anything about hating Palestinians because I don’t, I tweet about Israel because I’m Jewish.”- again, cut off-
“Tweeting about Israel because you’re Jewish must mean that you hate Palestinians, come on admit it! Why can’t you and other Jews just stop hating Palestinians? Do you see Israel as a legitimate state?”
“I’m critical of the government’s approach to expanding settlements and of human rights abuses on both sides – I don’t hate Palestine or Palestinians, and yes I think that Israel and Palestine both have the right to self-determination”
“I can’t believe you just said that about Israel, Jews have no sense of justice”

Fairly shocked and disheartened at the student’s lack of willingness to listen to my side of all of this, and noting his decision to bypass me to get to students to pass out his pile of magazines, I decided to continue making sure my students were all together. How exactly does the Israel/Palestine question factor into a march defending, extending, and protecting the rights of students and future generations of students vis a vis government cuts? I asked myself. “

Twitter As News

I can’t claim any originality on these links or snippets, but I find Twitter invaluable for providing a different selection of news on events around the world.

Syria, an Arab league monitor resigned in disgust after witnessing Syrian government snipers killing civilians and children.

BBC 4 had a good programme on Mohammed Ali.

The deluded and racist thinking behind Ron Paul is laid bare at The New Republic.

Who’s who around SOPA by the Washington Post.

Jonathan Steele at the Guardian doesn’t seem to understand opinion polls, particularly in Syria. For once the comments at CiF are very sharp and expose his faulty reasoning, in particular I liked this:

“The Arab League has been reduced back to the talking shop of dictatorships it has always been.

The elevation of it to some sort of humanitarian council by the Western powers cynically seizing on it’s dislike of Gaddafi, has put ideas in its head that it is the Arabian purveyor of freedom and morality.

The Syrian situation has only encouraged the Western media to once, albeit slowly, again highlight its rank hypocrisy.”

The Turner artist and his EDL loving friend.

Tanya Gold on sick humour at the LSE and antisemitism in Britain.

On a sadly related theme, the PCAAF has some informative material.

More on the LSE and racism.

Finally, Muhammad Ali Through The Years.