Month: December 2012

Rev Stephen Sizer: More Anti-Israeli Than Pro-Palestinian

Rev. Stephen Sizer is once more indulging in victimhood and self-promotion. He has managed to convince some worthy individuals to write him references.

Ever shy and retiring Rev. Sizer has published them on his website.

They say, essentially, ‘he’s a jolly good fellow, not a racist, but a fighter for human rights’.

This is an extract from Rev. Dr. Don Wagner of Chicago:

“I have known and worked with Stephen for nearly 15 years and have the utmost respect for his writing, pastoral ministry, and his speaking around the globe on behalf of the victims of persecution and human rights violations.

I suppose, in part, that might be true, however, Rev. Sizer silent criticism of the Assad regime is noticeable.

You might, not unreasonably, think that in 21 months of slaughter in Syria that Rev. Sizer could have made a critical comment of the Syrian government. After all, he’s immensely capable of criticising Israelis, but suddenly acquires writers’ block when it comes to Assad and Syria.

It is a symptom which seems to inflict many Western “pro-Palestinian” supporters, capable of criticising Israelis at the drop of a hat, yet barely able to muster any criticism whilst Assad is slaughtering civilians.

Just to be clear, I am not accusing Rev. Sizer of hypocrisy, racism or anything else. Merely observing that in 21 months he might have at least commented once on the hundreds of Palestinians killed in Syria.

Rev. Sizer has written on Syria, but I can’t find any criticism of Assad. In fact, the opposite when he uses a proxy to say in June 2012:

“Revd Awad insists Qatar and Saudi Arabia along with the US are funding mercenaries from Libya and Iraq to attack civilians in Syria and that the army are not responsible. He is convinced the President enjoys the support of at least 75% of Syrians. He insists none of Syria’s diplomats around the world has defected to the opposition. He is confident that the Kofi Annan report will exonerate the Syrian government and that the external forces seeking to destabilise Syria will not succeed. “

It drips of paranoia and defensiveness, but later on of that month, June 2012 invokes Robert Fisk to argue Syria: Its all about oil.

For want of his own opinions Rev. Sizer employs Elizabeth Kendal’s Syria: The Lies Being Told.

Unfortunately, it appears that Ms. Kendal is a conspiracy theorist and believes that the Houla massacre committed by the Assad regime’s forces was a contrivance:

“For more on the Houla massacre, now exposed as a false flag operation wherein Free Syrian Army forces disguised as pro-Assad ‘thugs’ massacred unsympathetic mostly non-Sunni families and blamed the regime…”

So as far as I can see Rev. Sizer has written nothing to criticise Assad or his dictatorship which brought about the events in Syria after massacring peaceful protesters in March 2011.

In August 2012, Rev. Sizer utilises the words of others and latterly employing a questionable photograph to hint at something else:

“The first reaction of President Bashar al-Assad was to initially respond with hints of reform. But soon he launched violent crackdowns that could have dispensed with the opposition if not for outside support.

So what we see is conscious effort to blame everyone else, but the repressive Syrian government. The idea that people could rise up against a dictatorship, of their own free will, after being shot at, murdered and tortured seems to have escaped Rev. Sizer and these various proxies.

Despite 21 months of conflict Rev. Sizer can’t say a single word against Assad.

In short, Rev. Sizer is proclaimed as “speaking around the globe on behalf of the victims of persecution and human rights violations” yet I have not read one word from Rev. Sizer critical of Assad on the hundreds of Palestinians killed, the 40,000+ Syrians dead, hundreds of thousands injured and millions displaced within the country.

A curious omission?

Update 1: Whenever I post on Rev. Sizer’s antics the blog gets a lot of spam, incoherent or abusive comments. I would remind potential commentors to read, disgest and understand the Comments Policy.

Update 2: You might almost say “the world goes to hell in a handbasket whilst Rev. Sizer has other preoccupations”. Despite the mounting death toll in Syria, Rev. Sizer’s main concern is, somewhat predictably, Rev. Sizer.

More recently he has cajoled some friendly clergy into supporting him, Bethlehem Bible College, Canon Dr Mike Butterworth, Friends of Sabeel, Revd. Phil Hill, Manfred W. Kohl, Professor Scott Elias, Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA and Bishop Riah Abo El-Assal.

The excuse “some of his best friends are…” is threadbare by use, but I am sure these theologians will be able to explain why Rev. Sizer continually, regularly and mistakenly posted links to vile, hardcore, antisemitic filth.

Laurie Penny, Chagos Islanders And Mormon women

Jake Wallis Simons is better than the average Tory, certainly the Daily Telegraph could do with better writers and a wider intellectual pool of ideas.

Nevertheless I was somewhat shocked and pleased to read his In defence of Laurie Penny:

“Call me contrarian, but I quite like being friends with people who come at life from markedly different perspectives. Not only does it broaden one’s own point of view, but it prevents one from plumping for one’s political preconceptions, and instead consider each issue on its own merits. If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I feel an Adorno quote coming on: “Thought that does not capitulate before wretched existence comes to nought before its criteria, truth becomes untruth, philosophy becomes folly”. Indeed. Facebook is nothing if not a stream of “wretched existence”, and sometimes it is wise to allow thought to capitulate before it – or at least allow for that possibility.

Here’s the thing. In recent weeks and months, it has been impossible to read Laurie’s status updates without being shocked at the sheer volume and viciousness of the hatred she is subjected to online. If you have the stomach for it, google something like “Laurie Penny hate”. The results are appalling. People have threatened and insulted her in the very worst terms, and have even gone so far as to post cartoons of her being abused and beaten up.

Now, Laurie Penny is a provocative and controversial figure, and a lot of people find her intensely irritating. It is only to be expected that she will attract a fair amount of friction. Even David Starkey took leave of his manners and tried to intimidate her in the most atrocious way. But look: call me old-fashioned, but didn’t there use to be such a thing as a civilised disagreement? “

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Newsnight, Paul Mason And Spanish Neofascism

Paul Mason’s report on the resurgence of Spanish neofascism is a must see.

It is available on Iplayer, starts 01:05.

The Wikipedia entry on España 2000 is quite revealing.

I hope that Newsnight have the wits to release the clip onto YouTube, allowing it to reach a wider audience.

Gun Laws, Causes And Who To Blame

In the aftermath of the shooting in Newtown most people are still trying to get to grips with the enormity of this crime. Twenty young children killed and six teaching staff.

It is hard to take in.

However, certain types of politicians and politicos, who are not given to reflection, are trotting out their particular agendas with indecent haste.

Gawker draws attention to Oregon State representative, Dennis Richardson’s crass comments:

“If I had been a teacher or the principal at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and if the school district did not preclude me from having access to a firearm, either by concealed carry or locked in my desk, most of the murdered children would still be alive, and the gunman would still be dead, and not by suicide. “

Incredibly, Mike Huckabee blames the killings on the separation of Church and State.

According to Pink News, Westboro Baptist Church blames Gays for the shooting.

Salon points out that James Dobson blames gays, abortion for shootings and Mary Elizabeth Williams blasts apart Mike Huckabee’s oafish views.

Astonishingly, someone with a particular affliction uses the killings in Newtown to attack Jews.

JHate explains:
[Warning: links to racist material, as a matter of public record.]

“On his December 14 radio show, American anti-Semitic activist Mark Glenn reveals that the villains responsible for the Sandy Hook school massacre are…wait for it…the Jews. “When you see these kinds of things happening,” Glenn says, “you see these kids basically acting out this program that has been installed on their hard drives since they were born, you have to go to the source. Who programmed them? Who taught them that it was OK to do things like this? And again, for me the bottom line is that it’s the Jewish mainstream media….” Glenn is a longtime anti-Semite who is a commentator for Press TV, a semi-official Iranian broadcast network. In recent months he has also founded an internet radio network featuring a roster of anti-Semitic hosts, based on the blogtalkradio.com broadcasting platform.”

Glenn has a long history as an active antisemite and not unsurprisingly, is a friend of Gilad Atzmon.

The dire, Brendan O’Neill at the Torygraph poses a question without a moment’s intellectual engagement:

“There is one question that the pious critics of America’s so-called gun culture cannot answer. If mass school shootings like that in Connecticut really are a product of the apparently mad Second Amendment, of the fact that guns are widely available in the US, then why did such shootings only take off in the late 1970s and early 1980s? Guns have been available in the US for more than two centuries, but multiple-victim shootings in schools, of the sort that rocked Connecticut and Columbine before it, are a very modern phenomenon. It cannot be simply the availability of guns that leads people to massacre children or their fellow students, or else there would have been horrors like this throughout American history. “

Obviously, the difference was the availability of assault rifles, a product of modern technology. That is part of the reason, all of which eluded the contrarian O’Neill.

The Nation demonstrates how assault rifles are available at Walmart in the US.
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Westboro Baptist Church To Picket Newtown

It is hard to credit the thinking behind Westboro Baptist Church’s decision to picket Newtown High School in the aftermath of the recent massacre:

“The Westboro Baptist Church, the controversial group known for protesting outside funerals of slain U.S. service members, announced that it will picket a vigil for the victims of Friday’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the second largest mass killing in American history.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, a spokesperson for the group and, like most members of the organization, a relative of the group’s founder, Fred Phelps, announced on Twitter on Saturday the group’s plan “to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment.”

It is unclear when the group plans to protest, although a tweet from Margie Phelps implied that it would be during a vigil that will be attended by President Barack Obama on Sunday evening.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church say that America is being punished for its acceptance of gays and lesbians. In recent days, Phelps family members have sent tweets about the Connecticut shooting that have said “God sent the shooter.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the Westboro Baptist Church “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America,” while the Anti-Defamation League calls it “a small virulently homophobic, anti-Semitic hate group.”

I am speechless.

James Meredith

I grew up listening to the radio and am a fan of BBC World Service, for all of its faults. Their recent documentary on James Meredith was superb, showing the complexities of the civil rights struggle, discussing the issue and the reality of modern America.

It is available at, A Long Walk Into History.

Downloadable as an MP3 here.

Other BBC World Service podcasts as well.

The Spartacus entry on James Meredith.

On this day in history: James Meredith barred from Ole Miss.

Huff Post.

Sexist Of The Year 2012: George Galloway

The End Violence Against Women Coalition poll has finished, there is a winner, George Galloway!

I hope he enjoys his Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, here’s an extract:

” IN the present state of society it appears necessary to go back to first principles in search of the most simple truths, and to dispute with some prevailing prejudice every inch of ground. To clear my way, I must be allowed to ask some plain questions, and the answers will probably appear as unequivocal as the axioms on which reasoning is built; though, when entangled with various motives of action, they are formally contradicted, either by the words or conduct of men.

In what does man’s pre-eminence over the brute creation consist? The answer is as clear as that a half is less than the whole; in Reason.

What acquirement exalts one being above another? Virtue; we spontaneously reply.

For what purpose were the passions implanted? That man by struggling with them might attain a degree of knowledge denied to the brutes; whispers Experience.

Consequently the perfection of our nature and capability of happiness, must be estimated by the degree of reason, virtue, and knowledge, that distinguish the individual, and direct the laws which bind society: and that from the exercise of reason, knowledge and virtue naturally flow, is equally undeniable, if mankind be viewed collectively.

The rights and duties of man thus simplified, it seems almost impertinent to attempt to illustrate truths that appear so incontrovertible; yet such deeply rooted prejudices have clouded reason, and such spurious qualities have assumed the name of virtues, that it is necessary to pursue the course of reason as it has been perplexed and involved in error, by various adventitious circumstances, comparing the simple axiom with casual deviations.

Men, in general, seem to employ their reason to justify prejudices, which they have imbibed, they cannot trace how, rather than to root them out. The mind must be strong that resolutely forms its own principles; for a kind of intellectual cowardice prevails which makes many men shrink from the task, or only do it by halves. Yet the imperfect conclusions thus drawn, are frequently very plausible, because they are built on partial experience, on just, though narrow, views. “

Wollstonecraft is neglected in the media dominated by men. I hope these links will, in part, helped to reverse that trend, her ideas are as relevant today as they were in the 18th century.

Mary Wollstonecraft Legacy.

History Guide on Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Wollstonecraft on education.

Mary Wollstonecraft: A ‘Speculative and Dissenting Spirit’

Virginia Tech’s electronic version of A vindication of the rights of woman.

Spartacus on Mary Wollstonecraft.

Some quotes from Mary Wollstonecraft.

In Our Time discusses Mary Wollstonecraft. As an MP3 file.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry.

If you know of any other informative links, please leave a comment.

Google’s Tax, Awful Pam Geller And The Census

Google didn’t pay a lot of tax last year, according to Mashable.

The truly awful Pam Geller, friend of the English Defence League, was on Russell Brand’s TV show and surprise, surprise she lied:

“BRANDX TRANSCRIPT.

Russell: “Do you believe President Obama supports jihad against America?”
Pamela: “Only in Libya. . . . [He's] not pro-jihad.”

FACT CHECK. On her blog, Pamela has written that “one thing is for sure: [Barack] Hussein [Obama] is a muhammadan. He’s not insane ………..he wants jihad to win.”

The Daily Mail and Home County types are having a fit about the latest British census, whilst one family of scroungers are planning a slap up Christmas.

Ripped-Off Britons shows how UK national debt isn’t as big as the Tories make out.

Open democracy had a good report from Oliver Huitson, How the BBC betrayed the NHS: an exclusive report on two years of censorship and distortion.

Wikileaks, Guardian Personality And Sexist Of The Year

Julian Assange is exceedingly annoyed at the Guardian, as can be seen from @Wikileaks timeline on Twitter:

Julian Assange2

I am not terribly interested in Assange.

He strikes me as a manipulative misanthrope and misogynist, and will probably end up doing a “Mel Gibson” one day.

But the activities of his supporters and how they attacked a female Guardian columnist I do find very disturbing. It reinforces the view that Assange’s supporters have no difficulty attacking women, verbally or otherwise:

Julian Assange3

So I thought it appropriate to have my own Sexist of the Year poll in support of the End Violence Against Women Coalition.

Obviously, any poll is incomplete and it probably could contain many more entries but these are, in my view, a representative sample.

I would welcome reader’s comments and observations. No sexism please, that’s a reminder to Assange’s supporters!

Update 1: A reminder to read Cath Elliot’s excellent, Assange, and feminism’s so-called male allies.

Update 2:
I have been remiss and didn’t explain why Julian Assange was so cheesed off at the Guardian. In short, he and his followers tried to rig the Guardian’s person of the year, but they found out.

His reason for wanting to cheat is clear enough.

The narcissistic Assange could not stand the very idea of a brave and injured 14 year old girl winning.

Had Malala Yousafzai won the Guardian poll then it would have taken attention and admiration away from Wikileaks, which would come with Bradley Mannings’ victory.

Assange wants to bathe in the reflected glory of Mannings’ win. He needs the limelight. So he arranged to fiddle it.

Update 3: I forgot to say, but you can vote for several individuals in this poll, not just one.

Update 4: News just in, George Galloway, world famous expert on bad sexual etiquette, has won the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s Sexist of the Year 2012 award:

“George Galloway MP has been voted ‘Sexist of the Year 2012’ in a poll run by the End Violence Against Women Coalition (1), and will be sent a copy of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman as a prize.

The MP for Bradford West received more than a quarter of all votes cast, and around one and a times as many votes than his nearest runner up, the Prime Minister David Cameron. He received four times as many votes as the ‘bronze medal winner’, Julian Assange. Mr Galloway said, in a broadcast on YouTube in August, of having sex with a sleeping woman, “It might be really bad sexual etiquette but whatever else it is, it is not rape.”(2)

The poll, which was launched at the end of October and was open for a month, saw supporters of the EVAW Coalition and members of the public encouraged to send their nominations by email and on the twitter hashtag #sexist2012.

Voters nominated prominent institutions as well as individuals for their sexist attitudes and behaviour during 2012, including the BBC for its handling of the Savile crisis, The Sun for its ongoing Page 3 ‘feature’ and the Taleban for the attempted murder of schoolgirl campaigner Malala.

Other prominent UK politicians who were nominated included George Osborne, Jeremy Hunt and Ed Miliband (nominated by former MP Louise Mensch for his failure to censure sexist MP Austin Mitchell).

The EVAW Coalition has more than 60 members around the UK who are working to end sexual and domestic violence, forced marriage, FGM, trafficking, stalking and other forms of abuse. They include service providers, lawyers and academics who are on the frontline of tackling abuse and campaigning for government to take a more strategic approach to ending violence by aiming to prevent it in the first place.”

A Neo-Nazi And The Swedish Democrats

This is a cautionary tale of the rise of the Far Right and where it leads:

“A man with a background in the neo-Nazi movement looks set to claim a seat on Lidköping municipal council in central Sweden in replace of a member of the Sweden Democrats, who have called on him to step down.

“It is extremely unfortunate that someone who represents completely different views gets in on the Sweden Democrat ticket,” party spokesperson Martin Kinnunen said to Sveriges Television.

“He has been made very aware that party believes that he should resign.”

69-year-old Carl Linusson has previously been a member of the now defunct National Socialist Front (Nationalsocialistisk front – NSF), an openly Nazi party which was formed in 1999 to coincide with the 110th birthday of Adolf Hitler.

Linusson won the seat on the council to replace the Sweden Democrat Christian Wallin after six people wrote his name on SD election ballots and the party had no other replacement.

Linusson however does not intend to represent SD and will instead push the agenda of the Party of the Swedes (Svenskarnas Parti) which was founded in 2008 by members of the NSF.

The party gained attention after the 2010 election when it won a seat in Grästrorp municipality, making it the first National Socialist party to win representation in a Swedish political assembly since the end of the Second World War.

Party leader Daniel Höglund held the seat for only a few weeks before it was established that he was disqualified because he was not registered as a resident in the municipality.

For the same reason Christian Wallin can no longer represent the Sweden Democrats on Lidköping municipal council after he decided to move.

Curt Linusson has meanwhile stated that he has no intention of succumbing to the Sweden Democrats demand and will formally sit as an independent.

In an interview with the Expressen daily, Linusson described himself as a “nationalist”.

“I have never been a real Nazi, one could say. When it comes to Nazism and National Socialism, I suppose I am a part of that, but I am a nationalist. I don’t want Lidköping to become an immigrant ghetto,” he told the newspaper.

Linusson is credited by the newspaper with having started the Legion Wasa paramilitary organisation in 1999 and having signed up to fight in Iraq in defence of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

In 2005 he was convicted of hate speech after he carried a swastika during an NSF demonstration.

The only step which remains before Carl Linusson can claim the SD seat on the council is the formal approval of the county administrative board’s legal unit. “

The Swedish Democrats are a Far Right Party in Sweden.

The Swedish antifascist magazine, Expo, has more on them.

Expo’s excellent, facts about Swedish Democrats.

London BDS, Racism And Press TV

London BDS & Jim Dean

Anti-Israeli boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigners often claim they against antisemitism and racism, yet their actions tell another story.

London BDS as an unfortunate habit of using material from the racist, Press TV.

Recently, they praised an article by Jim W. Dean.

Astute readers will know that Dean is intimately connected to the terrible Veterans Today, not only that but any cursory reading of the article would ring alarm bells amongst any antiracist, where he argues:

“Real historians like David Irving were attacked for printing the forbidden truth and made examples of to cower the rest of the sheep. And yes, Jewish lobbies had their fingerprints all over the dirty deed. “

If London BDS and other Western pro-Palestinian activists wish to be more convincing than they should stop digesting the racist filth that Press TV puts out.

Anyone ignorant of David Irving should read Holocaust Denial on Trial and the Guardian’s special report.

The SPLC on Veterans Today.

Update 1: The PSC have put out a statement distancing themselves from the @LondonBDS account:

“Palestine Solidarity Campaign is shocked and disgusted that a twitter account @londonbds tweeted an article with clearly anti-Semitic content. We oppose all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Anti-racism is a core value of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and the broader Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. Palestinians face systematic discrimination and building opposition to all forms of racism is a key part of our campaigning.

Supporting Palestine is supporting an anti-racist struggle and we shall continue to make clear that there is no place for any form of racism in our movement.

PSC has been informed that this is not the twitter account of London BDS group, whose account is @londonbdsgroup, but an apparently lone individual. We have reported this to twitter as hate speech. “

All very laudable, however, the PSC is not adverse to the racist Press TV, as a matter of principle, any simple search shows that.

The rest of their statement is decidedly implausible, as anyone with access to Google can see.

Readers will remember how long it took the PSC to kick out a self-proclaimed Holocaust denier, Francis Clark-Lowes, from their ranks. Even then about 1/5 of the conference delegates did not think Holocaust denial was antisemitic and wanted to keep him as a member.

Moreover, the notorious Ben White saw no problem with the @LondonBDS as can be seen.

My bet is their next gambit will be “Some of our best friends are….”

In Short: Syria And Egypt

Despite the many benefits of the Internet, access to news from all parts of the world and almost instantaneous translation, it is sometimes difficult getting a grasp of what is really happening in a certain country, particularly those in the Middle East.

Syria is but one example. After nearly 20 months, tens of thousands killed, millions of people displaced and hundreds of thousands injured, there is lethargy in the Western media concerning the fate of Syrians.

It used to be said that in journalism, what bleeds leads, but that clearly isn’t the case when it comes to Assad’s victims.

Yet as NPR reports things are changing, Project Looks At A New Way To Report On Syria.

Watch Syria Deeply for more developments.

The people in Egypt have been, rightly, demonstrating against authoritarianism, in the form of President Morsi and the new, proposed, constitution.

I am not a fan of the Middle East Research and Information Project but Ahmad Shokr makes some intelligent points:

“The draft constitution does not reflect a democratic consensus, as many in the opposition have argued that it should. It reflects an emerging relationship between the Muslim Brothers and existing state institutions, like the army, along with a great deal of appeasement of the salafis, whom the Brothers have embraced as junior partners. The rush to a referendum suggests a deep anxiety among the state elites about continuing instability and a desire to seize the opportunity to cement a new political framework as quickly as possible. More worrisome than the text itself is the vision these leaders have for which voices count and which alliances matter in the new Egypt. Should this vision go unchallenged, the losers would be all those who have been calling for more pluralistic and inclusive system.

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Polly Toynbee vs. Ed Balls

Last week I briefly glimpsed an interview with Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and major figure in the British Labour Party.

It was a general discussion on the Tories (misnamed) Autumn statement. The interviewer, whose name I forget, tried to pin him down into criticising George Osborne’s measures. However, the ever so cunning Balls was having none of it. He hummed and ahhed, instead of giving pointed answers and making it clear that Labour was stridently oppose the Tory measures, he prevaricated.

And that, for me, is the problem with the Labour leadership, they don’t really know which Tory measures there against, or even if they should oppose them totally, which is bewildering.

But I am not the only one to notice the malaise within the Labour leadership. The hardly radical, Polly Toynbee has some suggestions:

“To turn the public mood, Labour needs to find its voice and tell the stories that counteract Daily Mail scrounger anecdotes. For every cheat claiming disability while running a marathon, there are thousands of tales of the hard-working and the desperate-to-work queuing at food banks. Labour MPs’ surgeries brim with stories that need to be told, of families evicted unable to pay soaring rents, of children trapped in bed-and-breakfast single rooms, of “strivers” sinking through no fault of their own.

Labour needs to say what they see. Forget the polls and the focus groups, let the facts speak for themselves. Ed Miliband’s best instinct is that people are sick of Osborne’s callow politicking. Voters will reward honesty in politicians who speak their minds. If not, why bother at all?

My feeling is, that the useless Balls and Miliband are too wrapped up in the Westminster bubble to take this shrewd advice.

Channel 4, Stephen Sizer And Not Answering The Question

I had the misfortune to view a clip from 4thought.tv. It claims to be Channel 4′s daily religious, moral and ethical opinion show.

Provocatively, their latest programme is entitled Are Jews still persecuted in Britain today?

I am sure it is very well intentioned, however, it lacks two basic pre-requisites for an informed discussion of racism, a connection to the empirical evidence and an ability to differentiate between the spurious and the relevant.

They could have asked the simpler questions: ‘do Jews face racism in Britain?’ or ‘what type of racism do British Jews encounter?’

Yet, the Channel 4 producers decided to put up essentially a strawman argument, employing the shades of past persecution to diminish the problems faced by Jews in Britain today.

Additionally, the programme and contributions failed to differentiate between what is happening in Britain and the Middle East. It is perfectly possible to concede that many problems exist in the Middle East, without negating the issue of racial attacks on British Jews.

Moreover, I was struck by the small video from Stephen Sizer, which can be viewed on the 4thought.tv’s web site.

Readers will notice that initially Rev. Sizer does not actually answer the question directly or make any significant attempt to address the issue. Instead we are treated to a small rant about Israel and Zionism, two of Rev. Sizer’s favourite topics.

Readers might understand why Rev. Sizer is reluctant to engage with the actual question or make any significant attempt to talk about racism and how it affects Jews, given his pass misdemeanours in this area.

Readers will remember Rev. Sizer’s unfortunate mistakes, posting material from racist web sites on his blog.

These racist web sites had one, and only one commonality, they hated Jews, not anyone else.

So it is rather strange to see Rev. Sizer brought forward as having something meaningful to say, when he skirts around the issue and does not acknowledge his own stupidity in this area.

Better questions to ask would have been:

  • What is the extent of racism faced by British Jews?
  • What part does Christianity play in animosity towards Jews, historical and contemporary?
  • Or why do certain “anti-Zionists”, such as Stephen Sizer, Greta Berlin, etc have an unfortunate habit of posting links to racist material?

I would have hoped that Channel 4 could have made an effort to ask some penetrating questions on this important subject, or at least up their intellectual game a bit. Giving people a chance to grind their axes might make for cheap and frivolous TV, but it does not engage with these ethical and moral questions. Instead it confuses the matters and is unsatisfactory.

Better still, Channel 4 could ask the Community Security Trust (CST) for comment and why Jewish schools in Britain need extensive security measures? Possibly, after pondering that, they will be able to answer their own question.

Just in case, Stephen Sizer and his allies are ignorant of attacks on British Jews they should read the CST’s yearly reports (PDFs), Antisemitic Incidents Report January-June 2012 and Antisemitic Incidents Report 2011.

Overall, this particular programme was a missed opportunity. Channel 4 could have used it to illuminate, to shine alight on the problem of racism in Britain but it chose not to.

Next time, instead of making it an outlet for people’s resentment and personal grudges, the producers should stick to looking at the evidence, thinking about it and asking perceptive questions. That is the serious way to investigate this troubling subject.

Update 1: Many thanks to Rebecca for a pointer to this slightly tongue in cheek guide: How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic.

It should help those, like Rev. Sizer, who seem rather confused by this topic.

Boycotting Israel, Banning Women And The Crazed Right Wing

There is an up-and-coming election in Israel, and my bet is that many Western “anti-Zionists” would pick Benjamin Netanyahu, if they had a vote.

They must positively love Israel’s politically clumsy and callous Prime Minister.

Ever opportunistic those actively behind the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) see a marvellous opportunity, after the recent bloodshed in Gaza and the proposed building of settlements in the E1 area of Jerusalem.

Pro-boycotters are planning to make another move to foment more hostility towards Israelis.

It has to be said, the evidence suggests that pro-boycotters are not terribly concerned with human rights in the wider Middle East, as can be seen by Western attitudes to 20+ months of slaughter in Syria.

The conflict in Syria has resulted in some 40,000 dead Syrians, millions displaced and hundreds of thousands injured, yet not one Western organisation has ever demonstrated outside any Syrian embassy. Not one. Let alone proposed a boycott of Assad’s murderous government.

A similar complacency has been shown towards the imprisonment and torture of human rights activists in Bahrain. Not a single demonstration by Westerners or a proposed boycott of the awful Bahraini regime. And so on.

Across the Middle East in the last few years there have been numerous, hundreds of instances of human rights abuses by the various monarchies, potentates and dictatorships but you would not find an instance of a proposed boycott against them. Not a single demonstration by Westerners outside their embassies.

However, that is not true when Israelis pop into the picture.

Once that happens Westerners become extremely indignant, passionate and will organise demonstrations outside Israeli embassies at the drop of a hat. There is a sense that Western activists are concerned with the Middle East, but only a small part of it.

Still, we should not object to Westerners when they point out human rights abuses, even if it is obviously rather selective and particular. Highlighting abuses of human rights is good, even if certain obsessive Westerners mostly tend to focus on one country in the region.

- – -

Elsewhere, the Church of England has a serious problem with women, or at least putting them in positions of power. Therefore, we should not be too surprised when these poor misogynist attitudes are reflected in the activities of their co-religionists.

As Huff Post reports:

“A university’s Christian society has banned women from speaking at events and teaching at meetings, unless they are accompanied by their husband, it has been revealed.

The Bristol University Christian Union (BUCU) had originally decided women would be allowed to teach at meetings after their international secretary resigned in protest, the group changed its policy. “

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Right Wing Watch has a good page on the crazy antics over at WorldNetDaily:

“5. Obama is a Gay, Secret Muslim, Foreign-Born Imposter

The group’s most well-known “reporter,” Jerome Corsi, believes that President Obama wears a Muslim ring (confusing loops with Arabic), was married to his male Muslim roommate, orchestrated the murder of his gay ex-lovers, was born somewhere outside the United States and his father may be Frank Marshall Davis.

6. Gays Behind the Holocaust and Preparing to Lead the Next One

WND columnist Scott Lively, who is best known for his work in shaping Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is the author of the book, The Pink Swastika, about how gays were behind Nazism and the Holocaust in order to have “vengeance against the people whose moral laws had relegated pagan homo-occultism to obscurity and ignominy.” WND Super Store sells his bizarre book and WND editor Joseph Farah eagerly endorsed Lively’s claim while warning that the gay rights movement may bring Nazism to America. Another WND columnist, Erik Rush, even maintained that gays are planning a Holocaust against Christians, and WND commentator Judith Reisman argued that gay-straight alliances are modeled after the Hitler Youth. WND’s Molotov Mitchell has also praised Uganda for making homosexuality a capital offense because the founders would’ve agreed.

7. Obama is Orchestrating the Next Holocaust

If gay people don’t do it first, then President Obama must be the one behind the next holocaust. Farah claimed that he discovered proof that Obama wants a new Holocaust in a speech he delivered at Buchenwald where he used the line, “We are here today because we know this work is not yet finished.” Farah admitted that he is taking the line, which was about the need to combat Holocaust denialism, out of context. But since Obama has a tendency of “speaking in code” to Muslim audiences, Farah explained, then he must be sending a secret message to Muslims to kill Jews: “So, I ask you, am I really taking Obama’s words at Buchenwald out of context? Or am I the only one seeing them in context?

8. Secession Now

WND is extremely sympathetic to the secessionist movement, they only differ on the reasons. Farah believes that America may be forced to “literally…break-up” the nation if states continue to legalize same-sex marriage and WND columnist Vox Day called for a white supremacist secession movement to repel the “African, Asian and Aztec cultures” and “immigrants from various non-European nations.” Mitchell even released a video criticizing Abraham Lincoln for his stance against secession. “

There is a peculiar commonality between these attitudes, one that thinks engendering hostility towards Israelis is going to help peace in the Middle East? How treating women as second-class citizens is the way to run an organisation in a modern society? Or that bigoted stupidity aimed at President Obama is convincing?

In all these instances there is a detachment from reality, a falling back on hostile, essentially reactionary attitudes and we should think on, how terribly misplaced they are in the 21st century.

Not that I expect any these points to reach home or resonate with their proponents.

From experience, I have found that those who have, er, issues with Israelis, women or President Obama are generally not amenable to reason or intelligent discussion, on these topics. Pity though.

Anti-Muslim Fear Mongering

A piece in Wired has highlighted how fringe organisations stoke up fear with ant-Muslim sentiment in the US:

“A study published by a sociologist has revealed that fear-mongering non-governmental anti-Muslim organisations have been heavily influencing US media since 9/11, their messages seeping into news articles and television reporting and drawing their ethos from the fringes, straight into the mainstream.

What’s perhaps most troubling about the results is how these minor groups, which would ordinarily receive little or no air time, have gained an element of respect that has led to them receiving more funding and coupling with influential bodies. Their influence is such that they have even been able to paint mainstream Muslim organisations as radical, says the study.

“The vast majority of organisations competing to shape public discourse about Islam after the September 11 attacks delivered pro-Muslim messages, yet my study shows that journalists were so captivated by a small group of fringe organisations that they came to be perceived as mainstream,” the paper’s author, University of North Carolina assistant professor of sociology Christopher Bail, told Wired.co.uk. “

I can’t say I am surprised given the activities of Pam Geller and Robert Spencer, which I have covered before.

In Britain, MAMA is the organisation to contact in the event of racism or bigotry towards Muslims. They can be contacted at, phone: 0800 456 1226, text: 01157070007, email info@tellmamauk.org or on Twitter at @tellmamauk.

The original paper from Dr. Bail, “The Fringe Effect: Civil Society Organizations and the Evolution of Media Discourse about Islam,” American Sociological Review, 77(7) is available as a PDF here.

Over in Egypt

President Morsi’s move to give himself almost dictatorial powers was generally condemned, but his swift move to ratify the new constitution was a canny ploy.

Now the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt is mobilising all of its supporters and those dependent on it to push through this regressive constitution. However, many Egyptians are aggrieved by these actions and are actively demonstrating against them.

The Guardian’s coverage is good, and the fact that the new regime is using the old security apparatus against ordinary civilians should not surprise anyone:

“Egyptian security forces have clashed with opponents of Mohamed Morsi outside the presidential palace in Cairo to protest against his assumption of new powers.

The march came amid rising anger over decrees Morsi has passed that give him sweeping powers. Opponents say the drafting of a new constitution has been rushed and is a move towards dictatorial rule. Morsi has called for a referendum on the draft constitution on 15 December.

Marchers chanted that “the people want the downfall of the regime”, and held placards bearing slogans of “no to the constitution”. “

Punishing Israel

In light of recent events an adage needs updating:

Benjamin Netanyahu never seems to miss an opportunity, to miss an opportunity.

I am not the only one annoyed at Netanyahu’s maladroitness.

Two astute Middle East analysts, Meir Javedanfar and Hussein Ibish have noticed the issue, how Netanyahu has succeeded in isolating Israel and himself from potential allies by his own clumsy actions.

Ibish remarked on the UN vote:

Israelis must ask themselves how they lost their “quality minority” and why so many European and Western states that have been historically supportive of them or neutral moved rather dramatically today in the Palestinian direction. The war between Israel and Hamas shows that the situation on the ground is fundamentally unstable and untenable. The dramatic shift in the diplomatic landscape at the U.N. today demonstrates that the international community understands that and is losing patience.

Javedanfar puts his finger on it:

“The Iranian regime was hoping that the recent Gaza conflict between Israel and Gaza based militants would create a diplomatic crisis for Israel.

Unfortunately for the regime, this did not happen.

Ayatollah Khamenei must have been very disappointed to see that his regime’s military support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups did not lead to an Israeli military response which created a diplomatic crisis in Israel – EU and Israel – US relations.

What Iran could not achieve in Gaza, Netanyahu achieved for the Iranian regime with his latest plans for new settlement homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank: diplomatic crisis in relations between top EU countries and Israel. As Barak Ravid reported in Haaretz: “Europe threatens to withdraw support for Israel over settlement building plans”. According to the article the top 3 EU economic powerhouses Germany, UK, and France are protesting, so are the Dutch. More countries could follow.”

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