Racism in Britain

Rod Liddle’s Open Racism At The Spectator

specy1

This post is a public record, because I would expect that Rod Liddle’s open display of racism at the Spectator will soon be removed.

It is utterly senseless and disgusting.

Therefore, it is worthwhile recording Liddle’s racism and its appalling implications:

“I was slightly puzzled by the early media reports of the appalling murder in Woolwich and particularly the wrangling over whether or not this could be called ‘a terrorist attack’. Does it make much difference? Two black savages hacked a man to death while shouting Allahu Akbar; that’s really all you need to know, isn’t it? In a sense calling it an act of terrorism somehow dignifies the barbarism. The media will now go into crowd-control mode and tell us how all Muslims are as shocked by this attack as are the rest of us and how Islam is a peaceable religion. No, it isn’t.

All credit to the woman police officer who shot the scumbags, although I suspect we will soon have an inquest into why it took the ‘boyden’ (that’s ghetto slang for police, apparently, dear readers) took 20 minutes to arrive. “

It is like reading a commentary from a 1970′s National Front member: bigoted, stupid and openly racist.

Update 1:  That page vanished but not before a screenshot was taken:

rliddle1

Update 2: At this time, I can’t see much of the media taking Liddle to task for his racism, but the Huff Post covers it, Rod Liddle’s ‘Two Black Savages’ Spectator Blog Draws Accusations Of Racism.

If any readers find good links on this issue please do leave a comment, I will try and update the post.

Update 3: I had forgotten about Liddle’s previous form in this area. Spectator to pay out £5,625 over Rod Liddle’s Stephen Lawrence article:

“The Spectator has been ordered to pay £5,625 in fines and compensation for breaching reporting restrictions over a Rod Liddle comment piece published during the trial of Stephen Lawrence’s killers.

Judge Howard Riddle ordered the publisher of the Spectator to pay a fine of £3,000, plus £2,000 in compensation for distress to Lawrence’s parents, in a hearing at Westminster magistrates’ court in central London on Thursday morning.

The Spectator pleaded guilty to breaching a court order with the Liddle article, published in November 2011 at a key moment in the trial.”

Update 4: I think Liddle’s comments reflect a wider racism towards Muslims in British society. The antiracist campaign, Tell Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks (MAMA), summarizes part of that racism as:

“•632 anti-Muslim hate incidents reported to ‘MAMA’ since March 2012,
• Muslim women increasingly targeted (58% of all incidents),
• Victims of incidents range from a five-year-old child to an 89-year-old pensioner,
• 2:1 ratio of female victims in Islamic clothing to men in Islamic clothing,
• 74% of incidents take place on-line,
• 6% of incidents involve attacks on mosques/property,
• 5% of victims are white converts to Islam,
• Three-quarters (75%) of perpetrators are male,
• Far Right BNP/EDL supporters linked to over half (54%) of all cases,
• 23 arrests, 18 prosecutions (cases pending),
• MAMA pursuing review of police decision not to charge EDL leader,
• Trend of rising Islamophobia, recorded by YouGov figures (7 March)”

Update 5: Liberal Conspiracy deals with Liddle’s half-hearted semi-apology, Rod Liddle apologises for ‘black savages’.

Update 6: If you have a strong stomach, the comment box on the revised article at the Spectator is overflowing with xenophobia, anti-Muslim racism and the odd bit of antisemitism, dressed up as “anti-Zionism” not pretty:

“allymax bruce jjjj • 4 days ago −
Most you describe is true, BUT, what you fail to realise /question, is that this is being functionsd by the Zionists. I’m not being anti-semetic in saying this; in-deed, closing down intelligent thought & discourse is the result of using that anti-semetic excuse! Moreover, most Jews living in Israel are against the Zionists; are they anti-semetic too? No, ofcourse not. Slurring intelligent thought & discourse as anti-semetic only further disenfranchises us, but more importantly, furthers what you fear is happening to us. If you want to to truly stop the rot by this political Establishment, then you must consider it is a Zionist enforcement.”

Update 7: This is rather good, Rod Liddle and the Economics of the Commentariat:

“While a pretty poisonous clutch of miserablists all told, I wouldn’t consider them racist. Dan and Brendan, definitely not. Mel, well, she has written plenty of things that could certainly be construed that way but as awful as they are, but she just about stays on the right side of the line. But Rodders is a different kettle of fish. There are only so many situations available for former liberals and lefties as they migrate to the lucrative uphills of remunerated bigotry. And though Rod has been on his journey for a while, he’s taken his own sweet time. I blame his penchant for footy forums. But the market for anti-Islam rants is a crowded one, so how to stand out among the swivel-eyed and hard-of-thinking? Well, why not dance pack and forth across the line. And so, of last week’s appalling murder in Woolwich, he writes “two black savages hacked a man to death while shouting Allahu Akbar; that’s really all you need to know, isn’t it?

It’s not so much a problem of Rod’s dinner party racism, but with the whole economy of media commentary.”

Update 8: Talking of racism, another thread at Liberal Conspiracy seems to have succumb to antisemitism, again, Meet Woolwich Truthers who claim attack a “hoax”:

“Once you dig far enough and realise thru the Rothschild/Rockefella Ashkenazi-faux-jews and other pretend ‘Christian’ satanist-elitist families of the “Western World” (demon-strated quite clearly in the bible as “Synagogue of Satan” club ‘members’) that the West is dictatorially dominated by such eg all senior cabinet and top politicians are all so-called ‘Jews’ thoroughly misleading the vast majority (who are totally ignorant of this stitch-up) and making our lives hell.
Go back to Khazar history and you will find the same parasites who are in charge today as bankers and parasitical crony corporation owners stealing direct from the taxpayer and avoiding most or all taxes.”

Update 9: Musa Okwonga makes an excellent point:

“When bile such as “black savages” is sent unchecked into the atmosphere, it poisons the air. In this context, after all, “black savages” suggests that beneath the thin veneer of the apparently civilised Western-born black male lurks an irredeemably violent thug, and that all it takes is the right triggers to unleash him. That is precisely the same thinking upon which imperial attitudes were, and indeed still are, proudly based. “

Is Liberal Conspiracy Hung Up on Jews?

Snap 2013-02-01 at 18.35.06

I like Liberal Conspiracy. As a blog it has much to recommend it, there is a diversity of posters and a variety of topics.

Well, that’s what I like to think, however, some of its recent posts suggests an unhealthy concentration.

At Liberal Conspiracy within the space of a few days, there have been two, rather mean spirited and fairly questionable, posts.

Scarfe.

One which seemed to categorically argue that nothing was wrong with Gerald Scarfe’s offensive cartoon.

Another takes a pop at the Jewish Chronicle’s editor, Stephen Pollard.

The former, I could, just with some effort, understand. There is a debate to be held on what constitutes racism towards Jews. There is a diversity of opinions on this lurid cartoon, but to argue emphatically that it couldn’t ever be seen as offensive to one particular ethnic minority is silly, in the extreme.

The fact the author of the posts doesn’t find such cartoons offensive doesn’t mean other people can’t, or see elements of the past in it, as Mark Gardner argued:

“Unfortunately for Jews – and for satirists – antisemites and antisemitism also have ‘a thing’ about blood; and especially about the allegation that Jews murder others (children in particular) in order to use their blood or organs for heinous purpose. It is a harsh fact that blood has long played a profoundly disturbing part in the history of antisemitism, and this has obvious consequences for Jews and antisemites today. The actual intentions of Gerald Scarfe and the Sunday Times count for very little within this broader context of history, and its contemporary emotional and racist impacts.

But as I say, there is a debate to be held on these issues. I feel the way the Liberal Conspiracy brushed over, even the possibility, that this cartoon, content and timing could be seen as offensive, was intellectually loutish and distasteful.

Pollard And Cartoons.

[Up front: I am not a fan of Stephen Pollard, still less his time at the awful Daily Express.]

The other post is ostensibly on Stephen Pollard’s hypocrisy on offensive cartoons.

The post goes on to argue that Pollard is guilty of double standards, etc. Apparently, condoning the publication of the anti-Prophet cartoons but decrying ones when they are aimed at Jews. Some of the commentators point out the obvious difference between, right to publish and having the sense sometimes not to.

Pollard’s own arguments can be heard in this audio extract of the BBC Radio 4 Today programmme. They are more sophisticated than the post suggests.

Initially, I had put the odious tone of the post down to another spat between media types. It seems fairly common. The underlying argument is normally disregarded as an opportunity to settle scores.

Not very edifying, but such is the media. Then I began to ponder alternative possibilities, and I did not like them. To settle scores but with whom?

Hung Up on an ethnicity?

For quite some time I had noticed that the comment boxes at Liberal Conspiracy often became cluttered with nasty remarks, in one certain direction. Time and again, there were the stray arguments of the Far and Extreme Right. Most covered with euphemisms, but a well-worn animus was evident. Those common themes.

I have seen such derangement at Comment is Free, and it seems prevalent in parts of the British media.

Yet I debated, was a persistent sub-plot at Liberal Conspiracy that I was missing? Not in the comments, but the articles and their focus.

Analysing Bias

Fortunately, there was a methodology which was developed many years back, to remove my or anyone else’s subjective judgement.

It is fairly simple.

You tally up the articles around a certain subject matter and then categorise them, negative or positive. If that result is balanced or within expected tolerances that is one thing. However, if the majority of the articles are hostile towards one or more particular ethnicity then there is an issue. The Over Coming Hate portal discusses these issues and its section, Fanning The Flames, provides a useful background on the media, racism and the issues. Teun A. van Dijk’s Racism and the Press is helpful in explaining some of the issues [PDF].

Gwen Sharp summarised one application of this approach, Who’s Reporting The News? An Analysis By Race And Ethnicity.

If I ever get the time I might apply those techniques to Liberal Conspiracy and see what patterns come out.

Personally, I would prefer if Liberal Conspiracy employed its usually politically sophisticated approach to this and related subjects.

Yet I am not sure that will happen where one particular ethnicity is concerned. Worrying.

Update 1: This is a fair summary of the arguments about Scarfe’s cartoon from the JLC:

  • “Jews (and others) throughout the country reacted to this cartoon with a visceral disgust that is unprecedented in recent years. This was due to the gratuitous and offensive nature of the image, made worse by its use of blood and its being published by Britain’s leading Sunday newspaper on Holocaust Memorial Day.
  • Blood has a long and ugly tradition within the history of anti-Semitism, premised upon the notorious medieval Blood Libel, with Jews being alleged to steal the blood of others for religious purposes. The use of blood, including on occasion the actual Blood Libel, persists in extreme Arab and Iranian anti-Israel propaganda. It is a profoundly disturbing example of the adaptation of anti-Semitism for modern day usage.
  • These historical and contemporary contexts have racist impacts upon victims and proponents alike. This is why so many Jews were wounded by the cartoon, regardless of the initial motivations of Gerald Scarfe and the Sunday Times.

Update 2: This is a good interview with Jeremy Newmark from Radio 5 Live, as an MP3.

Update 3: Marc Goldberg looks more broadly at these issues, nevertheless argues:

“But what I hated was the timing of all this, for me an undercurrent of hostility which occasionally raises it’s head, the dark side of an England in which I was hard pressed to feel at home came into the light. The Holocaust Educational Trust has done sterling work in making sure that the tragic event that saw so many Jewish communities in Europe wiped out has become a part of the national consciousness but there has been a blowback effect, the likes of David Ward and Gerald Scarfe put this on centre stage and the people who rallied around Ward in particular, show off the extent to which this is a point of view that is bigger than him alone.

Update 4: Mark Gardner in 2010 wrote:

“Anti-racists must condemn anti-Jewish racism as readily as they would any other type of racism. Anything less and they risk fostering the notion, seductive for a dangerous minority, that antisemitism in the name of anti-Israel hatred is somehow a legitimate form of political protest. On previous occasions when we have tried to discuss the issue of antisemitism on this forum, we have been accused of various things. First, that we are part of some global conspiracy to shut down criticism of Israel. Second, that the figures are fake and exaggerated. Third, that even though the figures are lies, they paradoxically prove that the escalation in antisemitic incidents is the fault of Israel and the fault of Jewish representative bodies. Indeed, the fault of everybody but antisemites.”

Update 5: For the moment, the final word will go to a poster at Liberal Conspiracy:

“32. Shatterface 10:53 pm, February 1, 2013

  • attacking someone for hypocrisy is a weasely way of dodging the main issue which is the continual use of antisemitic tropes by British cartoonists.
  • It’s perfectly possible to criticise the Israeli politics without falling back on stereotypes of big-nosed puppeteers using blood as an ingredient just as it is possible to comment on African politics without images of black people with bones through their noses cooking missionaries in a pot
  • or, for that matter, portraying the English as football hooligans with the George Cross tattooed across their faces. ” [My emphasis.]

Update 6: Certainly, whatever your opinion of Liberal Conspiracy’s choice of topic, many of its posters have grotesque views:

“46. sara ann 12:27 pm, February 3, 2013

why is it wrong to not like Israel or Judaism?

we are encouraged not to like say iran, argentina, mali etc and certainly to dislike Islam .”

Update 7: Barely a week passes and Liberal Conspiracy are at it again.

A nonsensical and linguistically illiterate piece attempts to compare David Ward MP’s disparaging remarks with those of the Israeli Prime Minister, Why is there no backlash when Benjamin Netanyahu focuses on “the Jews”?

I suppose the simple answer is context.

Here is an easy example, suppose a tattooed neo-Nazi skinhead went around making disparaging remarks about ethnic minorities and then invokes the “N” word. Suppose that.

Would it be the same if an Afro-American rapper used that awful expression in the song? No, of course, not.

But that’s an argument often heard on the Far Right: that because ethnic minorities occasionally use the “N” word that therefore it is legitimate for the Far Right to use it. All nonsense but that’s how they argue.

Bigotry at Liberal Conspiracy Goes Unchallenged

Liberal Conspiracy is an interesting and frequently informative blog, however, its occasional forays into commentary on the Middle East often allow racist or bigoted comments to go unnoticed or unchallenged.

That is what happened recently.

Unrelated to the topic, one of the posters started comparing the number of Jewish MPs & the number of British Jews.

As the CST pointed out last year:

The concept of “Jewish entitlement”, whereby Jews (or other minority groups) are limited to a certain number of seats in Parliament according to their numbers, is entirely alien to British democracy. Candidates are supposed to appeal for votes on the basis of their policies rather than assuming “entitlement” because of their religion or ethnicity; and for a party to select candidates on the basis of their religion or ethnicity would almost certainly be illegal.”

There are, broadly, three themes to consider: the roots of this remark, the blog’s comments policy and the wider applicability of this line of reasoning.

Snap 2013-01-25 at 00.50.20

Firstly, it is a very common feature found on the Far and Extreme Right.

Stormfront, the neo-Nazi forum, covered this in January 2012, for the obvious reason that to the hardcore antisemite “one Jew is one Jew too many”.

Antisemitism is predicated on conspiracy theories, of secretive power and supposed manipulation, etc. which underlies the comment.

This is ingrained into the antisemite’s consciousness and an obvious tell-tale sign of their thinking. Anyone remotely familiar with antiracism should have familiarised themselves with these particular tropes, which is why it is exceedingly annoying to find it at Liberal Conspiracy, a left-wing antiracist blog.

The comment (#9) itself is cut and paste from an article by the racist, Stuart Littlewood from May 2010. The essence of the comment is common currency across anti-Jewish and racist web sites as any simple search of Google would show.

Secondly, this is all the more egregious as Liberal Conspiracy prides itself on having a tight comments policy aimed at fostering constructive debate.” [My emphasis.]

I can only assume that moderators at Liberal Conspiracy can’t see the implication of the comment or understand its antecedents.

I had tried to illuminate this issue to those running Liberal Conspiracy, but it seems that the comments policy varies considerably in implementation, although they say:

“We believe in free speech but not your right to abuse our space.
Abusive, sarcastic or silly comments may be deleted.
Misogynist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic comments will be deleted.”

Thirdly, such interjections and conceits are a mainstay of racists. The particular target may vary, but the argument is similar, running along the lines of “there are too many …….[fill in ethnicity] here” or “why are so …….[fill in ethnicity] doing this job”.

In Britain that applies, whether or not the target is Polish immigrants**, Afro-Caribbean nurses or other ethnic minorities.

In short, I think that Liberal Conspiracy is right to provide critiques on the Middle East and related matters, but they should be conscious of how anti-Jewish racism is fostered. They should educate themselves in the various figures of speech and arguments use by the Far/Extreme Right. Their comments policy should be implemented in an even-handed but intelligent manner. Its moderators should be aware, more broadly, of these racist arguments and where they lead.

Finally, ignorance of this type of racism is no excuse, particularly at Liberal Conspiracy.

PS: **Apologies for linking to the Daily Mail, but the atrocious comments connected with the article illustrate my point.

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.

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?

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.