Channel 4

Dave Douglass, An Almost Final Word On Thatcher’s Funeral

When next someone ask you about what it was like to live under Thatcher and what she did, please refer them to Dave Douglass.

His dignified and measured interview on Channel 4 is one man’s summation of Thatcherism, which speaks to us all.

Mali, Ronnie Raygun And Stephen Sizer’s Plight

The headline news on Mali conveys very little. I think it is useful to try and understand the background to events.

Heather Hurlburt argues that Mali’s crisis caused by development failures, not military aid which seems a bit off, but at least it does provide one side of the argument.

Peter Beaumont’s contribution is much better:

“In Mali’s post-dictatorship history, Bamako’s response to these periodic outbreaks of rebellion has, depressingly, remained the same – a “militiatary” policy that meant that different groups armed to neutralise each other. That policy was pursued over a long period even as former peace agreements were largely allowed to slip on their commitments and old grievances allowed to fester.

Indeed, close analysts of developments in Mali have been concerned for almost a decade by the increasing dysfunctional nature of the country’s government, as well as by the re-emergence of Tuareg and Islamist armed factions in the north. “

The New Yorker is pessimistic and sees the next quagmire:

“The situation in Mali dates back to March of last year, when, in a surprise coup, low-ranking government soldiers overthrew the former Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure. Since then, the country has been broken in two, with the lawless north slipping into a hell of medieval-era punishments like flogging, stoning, and even, reportedly, amputations, all dictated by a severe form of Sharia law practiced by the Islamist radicals who now dominate the area. France, the United States, and other Western powers have been nervously watching this unfold, concerned that Mali would become the next major organizational hub and training ground for Al Qaeda. They hoped that the nations of West Africa would intervene on the Malian government’s behalf, but as those countries dragged their feet about doing so, and as the Islamist rebels continued moving steadily into the southern part of Mali, it began to seem that if someone did not take action to halt their advance, it would be too late to stop them. “

Africa is A Country has a good backgrounder, France in Mali: the End of the Fairytale.

Scott Edwards at Amnesty International USA provides a who’s who, which is very handy.

CNN reports on the growing humanitarian crisis in Mali.

I had always appreciated that Ronald Reagan was intellectually decrepit and only capable of repartee when it had been written for him, but I had not realised he could not process information in a written form, as most presidents do.

Apparently, the CIA provided him with simplistic reports and analysis in the form of films:

By chance I read of Rev. Stephen Sizer’s plight on Craig Murray’s sites. It sounds positively miserable:

“That Stepehn is not an anti-semite and has not knowingly endorsed anti-semitism, I have no doubt. But what worries me is the growing bravura with which all critics of Israel or supporters of the Palestinians are charged with the – rightfully – damning slur of anti-semitism.”

Leaving aside the poor spelling and even weaker reasoning within Murray’s post, I imagine he would have had a stronger case if the comments box had not been littered with obvious antisemitism.

I will bet that neither Rev. Sizer nor Craig Murray would be able to adequately explain why that occurred, but this is a very small sample:

[Apologies to readers, as I have left in the links to neo-Nazi and racist web sites, as a public record. It indicates the type of material that is considered fit and proper reading amongst some of Rev. Sizer's supporters.]

“Cryptonym 13 Jan, 2013 – 12:36 am

I later sampled Behind Communism by Frank L. Britton**, available on hundreds of other websites too, it tries to tell the story of pre, during and post-revolutionary Russian history, not found hardly anywhere else, and can hardly do so without mention of its Jewish population and their huge role, it has a tellingly critical tinge that intrudes on the story…”

It isn’t an impossibility to be anti-jewish with perfect ethical and moral justification, nothing is above criticism, it like all religions simply being a set of madcap ideas, constituting a bogus identity, rammed into impressionable minds and causing permanent damage. It seems any subject matter which mentions the chosen ones, not closed off only for their exclusive consumption, and which isn’t quite the prescribed Hollywood gloss revisionist whitewash version of events -is proscribed reading nowadays. “

[** See below for details on Frank L. Britton.]

Many of Murray’s readers seem to relish the opportunity to digest more antisemitic and neo-Nazi material.

“A Node 13 Jan, 2013 – 1:37 am

I’m with Cryptonym on this one. Thanks BoD and Kempe for the tip-off about this useful resource.

http://www.iamthewitness.com/

Sure there’s some stuff there that’s a bit rabid for my taste, but there is much that seems reasonable comment.

It’s absolutely fascinating and resonates with a lot of my findings elsewhere.
Really, thank you Bod, and particularly you, Kempe, for providing the link.”

“Brendan 13 Jan, 2013 – 1:47 am

Posting a link is now an offence? Blimey.

http://www.holocaustdenier.com/

Smell them apples then.

Note: I do not deny the holocaust.
… “

Holocaust denial and the themes of “Judeo-Bolshevism” are not considered antisemitic by Murray’s poster, although it is a common notion pushed by the Extreme Right and racists, such as David Irving.

“Zona Norte 14 Jan, 2013 – 2:19 am

An anti-semite is someone who hates someone of semitic origin simply because that person is semitic.

I argue, therefore, that it is not anti-semitic:

To deny the Jewish holocaust.
To deny the uniqueness of the Jewish holocaust.
To compare Jewish suffering with that of other peoples.
To point out that Jews figured prominently in the Bolshevik Revolution.
To claim that AIPAC calls the shots in the US’ Middle East foreign policy.
To opposed the existence of the State of Israel.

Such statements or claims may be controversial or dead wrong and could be motivated by anti-semitism but of themselves are not anti-semitic. Refusing a Jew (or Arab) a job because of their race is anti-semitism. Jailing or attacking a Jew or Arab because of their race is anti-semitism. Prejudicial behaviour is the key to anti-semitism. “

[My emphasis.]

“Mary 15 Jan, 2013 – 12:07 pm

Not (fully) reported in the Zionist-controlled corporate media.
…”

etc etc.

[Explanatory note on reference above. Lorne Bair Rare Books notes on Frank L. Britton's publication, American Nationalist "was the racist and anti-Semitic house organ of Frank L. Britton, a California anti-Communist crusader who was one of the first to detect the presence anti-American influences in Hollywood. Content of the current issues is about equally divided between Jew-baiting and exposure of the plot to "mongrelize" the United States through interracial marriage (also, not surprisingly, a Jewish plot)." ]

I suspect had Frank L. Britton been alive today he’d be commenting on Craig Murray’s site to widespread approval and raising cash for Rev. Sizer’s defence.

Anyone capable of reading should know that the whole “Judeo-Bolshevism” nonsense is the staple of neo-Nazis and hardened antisemites, as are many of the ideas circulating in that thread.

The complaint against Rev. Sizer is here, as a PDF, and fairly damning it is too.

The BOD statement, One Sizer doesn’t fit all.

Update 1: Rev. Sizer hasn’t been slow garnering support enlisting his PhD supervisor, Dr Martin Davies.

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.

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.

Anti-Muslim Violence Pictured Across The UK

Racism is on the rise in British, again, and TellMamaUK is a great initiative to help combat it.

The graphics below, which covers only a small period of time, shows the sad necessity of Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks):

Faith Matters explains more:

The majority of Muslims being physically attacked, harassed or intimidated because of their faith are women, according to interim results from the UK’s first ever ‘official’ anti-Muslim violence helpline.

Victims have included children as well as pensioners in their 80s. Even Baroness Warsi, the co-chairman of the Conservative Party, and socialite and journalist Jemima Khan, have been subject to online threats picked up and reported to the police by the TELL MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) campaign.

TELL MAMA, which was set up with Government backing at the end of February by interfaith organisation Faith Matters, has chronicled over 140 cases to date and led to the arrests and charging of three far-right English Defence League (EDL) sympathisers, with more cases and arrests likely in the coming months. Approximately 75% of the cases involve female victims, with far-right British National Party (BNP) or EDL sympathisers linked to one-third (33%) of all incidents.

The helpline records a disturbing picture of low-level anti-Muslim harassment: incidents in the workplace, in the street, between neighbours and particularly online, which may not always hit the headlines but have a devastating effect on peoples’ lives.

Dealing With Anti-Muslim Racism & More.

The advent of the MAMA project is most welcome.

Until now it has been hard to quantify the extent and level of racism which faces many Muslims in Britain. Years back when I tried to research the topic I found scattered information, incomplete police reporting and a serious lack of concrete information.

It is going to be a hard and depressing task, to correlate and document the level of racism faced by Muslims on a day-to-day basis in Britain, however, I hope that the MAMA project has the success that the Community Security trust does. Good luck to them.

James Bloodworth looks at a common British habit, When did looking down on others become the national pastime?

Report from Lhasa: February 18, 2012 makes difficult reading:

“Lhasa consists of approximately 1.2 million Chinese and approximately 200,000 Tibetans. The majority of these Tibetans live in an area which is now almost entirely enclosed by military compounds with walls between 10-16 feet; some with barbed wire. This isolation gives the impression of what the Warsaw Ghetto was like. Inside the “enclosed” area groups of armed soldiers, S.W.A.T. teams, and police patrol the streets 24 hours a day. Military drill songs can be heard throughout the day. S.W.A.T trucks and rows of 6 to 15 armored vehicles and tanks come through the area on a daily basis. Each vehicle has 3 to 4 soldiers at the opening turret, armed with assault rifles or machine guns aimed at the Tibetans.

All Tibetans must carry identification at all times. Tibetans residing in Lhasa are required to register with the police. There are approximately 134 new Police station checkpoints in Lhasa for random searches of pedestrians and vehicles. In addition to the military compounds in and around Lhasa, permanent military posts holding 1-10 armed soldiers have been established throughout the city. “

It could be just like Switzerland, that’s what Hirsh Goodman thinks.

Spiegel Online reminds us the Neo-Nazi Terrorist Threat Remains Real.

In local blog news, the Third Estate on How rich institutions, the big parties and the mass media have colonised the blogosphere.

Jeff Goldberg has a worrying piece, Iranian Scientist’s Wife Says Husband Sought Annihilation of Israel. The Fars News Agency has the original copy.

Norms of intervention.

Finally, Bradley Burston makes some excellent points:

“It’s Israel Apartheid Week 2012. Time for people who support Israel to tell the truth. Yes, the settlements are an obstacle to peace. Yes, the occupation, which exists to protect the settlements, is the opposite of democracy. Yes, the present government speaks of two states in theory alone.

In the democracy that was the United States in the year 1840, there were those who said that slavery was essential, irreversible, eternal, God’s will. And that people of color and women of all races should not, and therefore would not, be granted the freedoms and rights of full citizenship, that the only good Native American was a dead one.

And, at the same time, there were those who believed that democracy and equality would become law, however dreadful and protracted the process might be, and they were right.

It is 2012. America’s freedoms, its promises of opportunity and openness to immigrants and minorities, are still under attack, still being tested. The answer is not to dismantle America, but to strengthen its freedoms.

All Americans deserve democracy and self-determination. So do both of the native peoples of the Holy Land, Palestinians and Israelis alike. Just as in 1840 America, in this Holy Land there are people working on both sides, quietly, continually, toward that goal. Not freedom for one people at the expense of the other, but freedom and independence for both.

This is the lesson that BDS has yet to learn. And this is why BDS, and Israeli Apartheid Week, are failures. “

Channel 4 on the British National Party

I had forgotten that Channel 4 had produced a fine documentary on the BNP in 2002.

It is still relevant, Young, Nazi and Proud, isn’t available on their site at the moment, but can be found across the web, including here.

Mark Collett was a chairman of the Young BNP and Director of Publicity for the BNP, so he was not on the fringes of the party rather at its very heart.

Searchlight had a good piece on Collett and the BNP:

“The man tipped to become the next leader of the British National Party has admitted he is a nazi sympathiser and is inspired by images of German nazis “sieg heiling” in the streets.

Mark Collett, leader of the Young BNP and a member of the party’s ruling Advisory Council, made the admission to Channel Four last month. In a revealing documentary, he boasted of his support for Hitler’s Germany, said he would prefer to live in 1930s Germany than in many cities of northern England today and declared that he could not understand why people should find images of German soldiers giving nazi salutes upsetting.”

In the BNP, he’s not alone.