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.

Socialists, Scarfe’s Cartoon And Inverted Commas

Socialists tend to expound socialism, the view that there is something beyond the bleak and avaristic world that we live in, or at least that is what they used to do.

Nowadays many on the Left have an unhealthy attitude towards one particular ethnicity, Jews.

So watching modern-day socialists discuss the atrocious Scarfe cartoon is not for the faint hearted, or those with any appreciation of antiracism.

Scarfe-Cartoon1

Rather than debate what is offensive, what is racist and why, the discussion in the comments box hinged on whether not is acceptable to put the word, Holocaust, in inverted commas.

One of the posters had objected:

“10. Moderator: putting the world “Holocaust” in inverted commas is highly abusive, particularly if, like me, you know what concentration camp your relatives were sent to.

CJB ought to be banned. He could always go to some Holocaust denial site and post his garbage there.

Posted by prianikoff 30 January, 2013 at 9:48 am”

The moderator finally came out with a bizarre explanation:

“Moderator: putting the world “Holocaust” in inverted commas is highly abusive, particularly if, like me, you know what concentration camp your relatives were sent to.

Prianikoff, I guess you’re seeing a completely united management team here – it’s clear that me, John and Andy agree that aspects of your posts have been abusive.

However: I’m the one who put the “abuse deleted” in yours – and CJB’s – posts.

Let me explain: You can argue hard against him using quotation marks around the word ‘Holocaust’ without calling him a piece of shit. Cos you don’t know why he did it – he used the word twice in his post, once in quotes and once without. That *might* mean he has a nuanced position on the Holocaust as a historical fact, and the “Holocaust” as an ideological industry. I don’t know – but your politics are solid enough for you to be able to put a decent argument in without calling him names.

So, his use of quotation marks isn’t offensive unless he then comes back and starts denying that the Holocaust happened. You didn’t know at the time, and since then he’s come back and given an explanation.

I hold you to quite a high standard as it goes – I told Andy last night that I find you really interesting to read. You can do this without calling people names.

Posted by Tony Collins 30 January, 2013 at 10:33 am ” [My emphasis.]

It’s depressing that many modern socialists can’t see where this type of debate leads or why certain individuals put the Holocaust with in inverted commas. There is an almost complete lack of perception and understanding of how anti-Jewish racists work and their methods.

In the past there was a more direct confrontational approach taken by these racists, but with the advent of the Internet they change their approach, slower, subtler, pushing discussions towards a certain area and seeing who bites. Who takes up or agrees with their anti-Jewish sentiment.

But it is a damning indictment when socialists can’t discuss these issues with any degree of sensitivity, are unable to comprehend the background to real racism affecting Jews, its implications, why racist and bigots purposefully denigrate the memory of the Holocaust. They have truly lost it. By way of comparison, at Engage there is an intelligent discourse on the significance of David Ward’s remarks and where such thinking leads.

Steve Cohen provided plenty of examples of this detachment and ambiguity towards Jews amongst elements of the Left.

Still, I can’t help thinking that socialism needs better advocates. Some that grasp the techniques of the Far Right and salami-style Holocaust revisionism. Particularly those that understand when the **neo-Nazis at Stormfront approve of a cartoon then something is seriously wrong.

[**Warning: Indirect link to neo-Nazi filth at Stormfront as a record of their views.]

Update 1: It might be argued that the above is a poor example, isolated or not representative, however, a similar hostile attitude towards Jews can often be found at Liberal Conspiracy, Why aren’t the usual suspects defending the Sunday Times over its ‘anti-semitic’ cartoon?

Update 2: It seems that the penny has finally dropped and one of the moderators sees the issues, after it was highlighted.

Update 3: I think Norm makes many good points in his Alibi Antisemitism, notably when he argues:

“A second form of the Israel alibi for antisemitism is the plea that antisemitism should not be ascribed to anyone without evidence of active hatred of Jews on their part; without, that is to say, some clear sign of anti-Semitic intent. A well-known case of this second form arose with Caryl Churchill’s play ‘Seven Jewish Children’, following upon Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008-9. This play puts into Jewish mouths the view that Palestinians are ‘animals’ and that ‘they want their children killed to make people sorry for them’; but that there is no need to feel sorry for them; that we – the Jews – are the chosen people and that it is our safety and our children that matter; in sum, that ‘I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out’. I will not insist here on how this echoes the blood libel; it is enough that Churchill ascribes to the Jews, seeing themselves as chosen, murderous racist attitudes bordering on the genocidal. On the face of it, one would think, this is a clear candidate for anti-Semitic discourse. ” [My emphasis.]

Update 4: It seems that Liberal Conspiracy moderators are filtering out the worst comments from obvious bigots. Most commendable. I hope they continue this approach as they will, unfailingly, touch on related subjects in the next weeks and months.

Update 5: Liberal Conspiracy appeared to be down, but this comment from the Google cache was illuminating:

“Shuggy 12:34 am, January 31, 2013

Oh for goodness sake! Anyone familiar with the history of anti-Semitic imagery and propaganda calls this out of what it is. Those that don’t need to go back to school.

Look, it’s a simple distinction between a right and an obligation; the former doesn’t necessitate the latter with regards to publication. Take three recent examples:

1) The Guardian has the right to publish Burchill’s article but since it was a piece of shit, they shouldn’t have.

2) The Sunday Times has the right to behave like Der Sturmer, I suppose, but anyone with any knowledge of European history would hope they might have more sense.

3) Most recently, we have an anti-Scottish racist cartoon by Steve Bell. I would defend the right of the Guardian to publish it – but obviously as a Scot, I rather wish they hadn’t.

But I’m not that surprised because quite frankly the British ‘quality’ press has a bunch of thugs working in it these days and it would be refreshing if you had something to say about that rather than, “Ooh, Nick Cohen defended this but doesn’t defend that…” You both work for the same increasingly shitty paper, after all – and you haven’t even touched upon the cesspit that is the Daily Telegraph, which is – as they like to remind us – Britain’s best-selling ‘quality newspaper’. [My emphasis.]”

Shuggy calls out the Liberal Conspiracy’s piece as more of a spat between media types than any particular concern for correctly analysing antisemitism.

That seems a fair judgement given the LC’s coverage of such matters.

Update 6: The Guardian contrasts two views on that awful cartoons, however the comments box is as poisonous as ever.

David Ward MP And Subconscious Themes

Whatever other attributes they might have, we like to think of politicians as having a way with words, a deeper understanding of issues and a certain intellectual subtlety.

That clearly isn’t the case with the LibDem MP, David Ward.

The BBC, rather typically, underplay is the issue:

“”Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

According to his Wiki entry, David Ward is highly educated and was an academic.

So it at all the more disappointing that he doesn’t understand the use of words. In particular, how he’s managed to blame the world’s entire Jewish population in one fell swoop. Ward doesn’t, as you will notice, criticise the Israeli government or even Israelis for electing them, but “the Jews”.

Such terminology was prevalent in the latter part of the 19th century. Demagogues and political extremists would stir up racial hatred by blaming a country’s or the world’s ills on “the Jews”.

Subsequently, such usage was considered toxic, a remnant of the Extreme Right, but more recently there has been considerable linguistic slippage, with the return of comparable expressions.

Occasionally, senior LibDem politicians have been found in the company of conspiracy freaks and racists like Ken O’Keefe.

But it’s not all words, in the West there is a subconscious theme which seems to percolate just below the surface, a nasty afterglow from the 20th century, something which many people have not truly divorced themselves from. David Ward’s words and usage make that much clear.

Update 1: The CST examines Holocaust Memorial Day abuse part 3: David Ward MP:

“Mr Ward may know exactly where he stands on antisemitism, the Holocaust and the Israel-Palestine conflict. He may be utterly assured of his spotless morality and faultless compartmentalisation of all three issues. He may well have signed the Book of Commitment in order to encourage “constituents to work together to combat prejudice and racism today”.

Sadly, however, this is not quite how racism works; and neither is it how Jews (nor many others) will react to this latest opportunistic and amoral debasement of Holocaust commemoration.

Update 2: The Daily Mirror picked up the story although don’t add any biting commentary.

Update 3: Paul Evans has written a highly intelligent piece:

“In a stroke such analogies belittle the suffering of the past, obscure our understanding of the present and most dangerously, suggest a kind of retroactive collective responsibility should be carried by Jewish people for their own suffering. “Yes,” they say “Jews suffered…” – you can smell the caveat coming, can’t you? “But look at the suffering they have caused too! Can they really be called victims? Unlike perpetrators of that genocide, Jews haven’t even learnt anything from being murdered in their millions! What is wrong with them?”. David Ward might not have meant all of that, I think he probably just thought he was being clever and decent when his office sent out that press release. But that is the dirty subtext which he bought into – and he should be held accountable for it.

For these reasons, we must be vigilant in calling out and countering such tawdry rhetoric, which helps Palestinians not at all and hurts Jews the world over. It is incumbent upon us to foster an environment in which accuracy and restraint, and not provocation, poison and hyperbole, characterise public discourse on the Holy Land. Most pressingly for this weekend, let’s not allow David Ward MP to distract us from taking time on Sunday, January 27th, to commemorate the people that hatred killed.”

Update 4: Huff Post covers it too, however, the toxic nature of the comments box suggests a wider problem.

Update 5: Sky News reproduces much of the same without a particularly intelligent critique. There is a small video clip of Ward digging a bigger hole doing the rounds. I will post a copy of it when I can find a non-Tory source (yes, I am aware that Guido Fawkes is all over it like a bad rash).

Update 6: Earlier, Ward was on BBC Radio 5 demonstrating an almost complete lack of insight. He plays the martyr and tries to make political capital from it all.

Update 7: Ward has released an updated version of his previous statement, still exceedingly poor.

Update 8: The Guardian’s contribution initially makes Ward out to be the victim, rather than self-absorbed and keen to exploit the HMD 2013 for his own political ends. At the end of the article, however, Ward manages to dig a deeper hole:

“Asked if he accepted that he was accusing Jews, rather than the Israeli state, of inflicting persection on the Palestinians, he replied: “I’m accusing the Jews who did it, so if you’re a Jew and you did not do it I’m not accusing you. I’m saying that those Jews who did that and continue to do it have not learned those lessons. If you are a Jew and you do not do those things and have never done those things then I am of course not criticising you.”

Ward is employing the old “Good Jews, bad Jews” dichotomy, as RationalWiki explains:

Relation to anti-Semitism and Judeophobia

The dichotomy dates back to ancient stereotypes regarding Jews as evil people, particularly those stereotypes spread in Christian-ruled polities. However, due to the focus of the Bible upon ancient Israel/Judah/Judea/Canaan and its inhabitants (and all the purported divine interventions in reality as written in the Bible), it also accords a strong cultural significance (often to the point of obsession) upon anything that has to do with Judaism, Jews or Israel; in other words, in the eyes of those who hold to this fixation, any of the three become dehumanized and turned into tools.

Someone who uses the “good Jew, bad Jew” dichotomy may also be prone to say “b-but some of my best friends are Jewish!”

[My emphasis.]

Update 9: Lib Dem Voice has a thread on it, Has it all gone Jenny Tonge for David Ward? Which is not as bad as it could have been, not brilliant but a few perceptive comments.

Update 10: This guide is for all of those readers who don’t quite understand antisemitism and even those who think they do:

“Don’t use the Holocaust/Nazism/Hitler as a rhetorical prop. The Jews who were murdered didn’t set foot in what was then Palestine, let alone take part in Israeli politics or policies. It is wrong and inappropriate to try to use their deaths to score political points. Genocide, racism, occupation, murder, extermination—go ahead and use those terms, but leave the Holocaust out of it.”

I hope David Ward reads that, stops and thinks for a moment.

Update 11: Jenny Tonge provides David Ward with much needed support:

“Jenny Tonge. 26th Jan ’13 – 7:05am
I do not usually add to the masses of indignation that is published on LibDem Voice, but I must point out that Israel insists that it is the JEWISH State of Israel , which leads to some people assuming that what Israel does is endorsed by all Jews.
Many Jewish people support the Palestinian cause and those of us who try to bring the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli government to the attention of the citizens of this country.
We must not be deterred by the sickening and self righteous indignation that comes from the Zionist Lobby.
David is a fine MP and understands the issues, and deserves our support.”

Unfortunately for Tonge and Ward, many commentators (including one at LibDem Voice, David) can see the issues with a degree of sophistication:

“David 26th Jan ’13 – 8:51am
@ Jenny tongue.

If David Ward understands the issue, why did he not just issue a clarification, rather than become defensive and restate his highly offensive position. He has stood by his comment of “The Jews” as a collective.

This is not a Zionist Lobby issue (as convenient as it would be to make them a scapegoat and deflect attention from David Ward MP’s words).

David Ward MP has had countless times to clarify his statement and has not. Presumably, in his eyes, a British Jew, a citizen of this country, who has no vote in Israeli elections, pays no taxes to Israel, who has less influence on Israeli policy than him, an elected politician, is to blame. We should remember that attacks on Jews in this country rise during tensions in the Middle East., so at all times, we should be using correct language to stop a collective ethnic blame.

[My emphasis.]

Update 11: Engage’s contribution makes a subtle point, how many would balk at generalisations aimed at “the Muslims” or other ethnic minorities, but can’t see the problem when that is applied to Jews, all 14+ million.

Read the original, David Ward, Israel, the Holocaust and the Jews – by Sarah AB.

Update 12: Norm is characteristically evenhanded, but has a marvellous observation:

“So if David Ward is innocent, this is innocence in one of two other meanings than the blameless meaning. It is either the innocence of a political fool, someone who should know better and is culpable for not going to the trouble of knowing better; or it is the dishonest innocence of the person who chooses not to understand what the fuss is about.”

Update 13: The LibDem Chief Whip’s letter, which is rather restrained.

Update 14: Matthew Harris gets to the point:

“It stinks, and it would stink just as much if said about Muslims, about British Asians, or about any other minority group. History teaches us at all costs to avoid the politics of “I blame the Jews”. “

Continue reading

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.

Ed Balls, Timid Labour And China

Ed Balls is not an impressive politician, not by virtue of his shrewdness, delivering or occasional principles. Still, you might hope of paid politician, someone who does it for a living, would eventually get the hang of it.

But no, Balls doesn’t, as Neil Schofield argues:

“There’s some nice triangulation there. Balls is trying to play both sides of the street on welfare and benefits, and manages to get in a bit of One Nation rhetoric as well. But the point is that his underlying assumptions are both wrong and, in my view, counter-productive.

The problem with Ed Balls really lies in that second quote, where he continues to use the rhetoric of austerity. Austerity is failing, and there is an increasing body of evidence to show why that is the case – I’ve referred to the IMF’s evidence about the multiplier before. The evidence is increasingly showing that we need precisely the opposite of spending cuts, and that any tax increases should fall overwhelmingly on the wealthier, for reasons of both equity and to ensure that they do not damage demand (Balls’ argument that his scheme should be paid for by reducing the pension tax advantages of those on the highest incomes is very welcome, but misses the point – more spending and an end to austerity would increase tax revenues across the economy as a whole). “

Any compassionate person reading the Where’s the Benefit blog would be struck by the ferocity and persistency of government attacks on the disabled, a Testing Journey and If you can only walk twenty metres you’ll get no help :

“When PIP starts to replace Disability Living Allowance next year anyone who can walk just twenty metres will not qualify for help with mobility. Twenty metres is less than the distance most of the disabled parking bays at my local Tesco are from the door. It’s really not much. Hundreds of thousands of people will no longer get a mobility allowance and as a result will no longer be eligible to lease a Motability car. One day it might be you that needs this.

The government has also left out the phrase “safely, reliably, repeatedly and in a timely manner” from the PIP regulations. This means that if a person can do something just once, or can push through pain to do it, they might not get help and can’t even challenge it at tribunal. “

The Labour Party has a problem challenging the Tories on this issue, they essentially agree with the Tories’ underlying assumptions as Liam Byrne’s thinking has shown.

It’s a pity that it takes The Children’s Society to point out the downside of Tory policies:

“Half a million soldiers, nurses and teachers will have their income slashed under the coalition’s benefits crackdown, according to a new report. The chancellor’s sub-inflation rise in benefits and tax credits over the next three years will hit a whole range of the country’s most trusted professionals.

Up to 40,000 soldiers, 300,000 nurses and 150,000 primary and nursery school teachers will lose cash, in some cases many hundreds of pounds, according to the Children’s Society. The revelation appears to contradict the government’s stated intention to target shirkers and scroungers, and will raise the temperature of the Commons debate and vote on the plan on Tuesday. “

A reminder, for timid Labour, of what Tory attacks really mean:

“On Friday night Christina Martin posted a link which caught my eye. It was a few lines from a local paper which said that a blind, deaf, tube-fed, non verbal, disabled man from Scotland had been deemed fit for work by the DWP. As a result of not completing the form correctly his benefits will be stopped on 7th June and he will have to access the appeal process to have this decision over turned.

This man has to have 24 hour care and the person who had completed his form for him as his disability prevents him had not included something in the 30 page form which meant that due to that error his money will stop. “

That was not an isolate incident:

Elsewhere, Syrian journalists caught in middle of conflict

In the US, Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower is surprising.

Austria still has issues:

“(JTA) — The number of anti-Semitic incidents documented in 2012 by Austria’s Jewish community has doubled from the previous year, the leader of Vienna’s Jewish community said.

Oskar Deutsch told the Kurier newspaper that the Jewish community registered 135 such incidents last year, compared to 71 in 2011.”

Tom Pride’s post on China is worth thinking about:

  • China is the world’s largest authoritarian dictatorship.
  • About one third of the industrial waste water and more than 90 percent of household sewage in China is released into rivers and lakes without being treated.
  • Half of China’s population lacks safe drinking water.
  • China’s incredibly high rates of liver, stomach and esophageal cancer have been directly linked to contaminated drinking water.
  • In China, in 2008 six babies were killed and 300,000 were left sickened after consuming infant formula contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.
  • In summer of 2011, the China government reported 43 percent of state-monitored rivers are so polluted, they’re unsuitable for human contact.
  • Most of China’s rural areas have no system in place to treat waste water.
  • An estimated 980 million of China’s 1.3 billion people drink water every day that is partly polluted.
  • In October 2009, Greenpeace identified five industrial facilities in southern China’s Pearl River delta that were dumping poisonous metals and chemicals—such as beryllium, manganese, nonylphenol and tetrabromobisphenol— into water used by local residents for drinking.
  • In March 2010, more than 3.5 tons of “yard-long” green beans contaminated with banned pesticide isocarbophos, were destroyed after being discovered on sale in the central city of Wuhan.
  • In Shenzhen, southern China, nearly one third (28pc) of food made with rice flour were found to have levels of aluminium above national standards.
  • An undercover investigation in March 2010 estimated that one in 10 of all meals in China were cooked using recycled oil, scavenged from the sewerage drains beneath restaurants.
  • Research showed that 10 per cent of rice sold in China was contaminated with heavy metals, including cadmium, some contained up to five times the legal limit.

Bloomberg’s Mapping China’s Red Nobility is excellent for detailing the interconnections and relationships amongst China’s elite.

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.

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….”

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.

Worthwhile Remembering: The Antisemitic Discourse in Britain

This is the CST’s summary of the Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2011 and essential reading for antiracists:

  • “Explicit antisemitism against Jews is rare in British public life and within mainstream political and media discourse. Nevertheless, antisemitic themes alleging Jewish conspiracy, power and hostility to others can resonate within mainstream discourse about Israel and (especially) about so-called ‘Zionists’.
  • When explicit antisemitism does occur, it tends to do so within circles that are also racist or hateful towards other groups.
  • The internet and social media are providing new opportunities for the spread of antisemitic discourse. This includes mainstream companies, such as Amazon, selling blatant antisemitic propaganda, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last.
  • Fears that economic troubles in 2011 would spark antisemitism in Britain proved largely unfounded.
  • 2011 was notable for the public reaction to antisemitic remarks made by fashion designer John Galliano. The case was not especially remarkable, but provided a focus for numerous articles in mainstream media that analysed and spoke strongly against contemporary antisemitism.
  • The trend to blame so-called ‘Zionism’ for anti-Muslim hatred intensified in 2011. This included allegations that Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik was inspired by ‘Zionism’.
  • The controversy surrounding the Home Secretary’s (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to deport Sheikh Raed Salah epitomised debates around antisemitism and overseas Islamist figures. This case also included false accusations that the UK Government had acted at Israel’s behest and was somehow under the control of Israel’s supporters in the UK. This falsehood encourages and reinforces antisemitic attitudes.
  • The Guardian reinforced its reputation as being the most subjective and contentious mainstream newspaper on issues of antisemitism in the context of Israel and Zionism. This, despite the paper also warning against antisemitism.
  • The publication and promotion of Gilad Atzmon’s book The Wandering Who? introduced a relatively new form of antisemitism into ‘anti-Zionist’ discourse.
  • Britain’s refusal to attend a United Nations anti-racism conference, due to prior instances of antisemitism there, was an especially important public statement.
  • In Scotland, the conviction of Paul Donnachie on criminal and racist charges showed that anti-Israel behaviour can be prosecuted under legislation relating to race, colour, nationality or ethnicity.
  • Fears and concerns about antisemitism, as expressed by mainstream Jewish communities and bodies, are routinely ignored, or even maliciously misrepresented, within supposedly ‘progressive’ circles, including some media, trade unions and churches. Few, if any, other minority representative groups are treated with such reflexive suspicion and ill-will.

The full report is available as a PDF.

The British Empire, Far Right And Press TV.

News just in, the British conquered most (or at least tried to) of the world!

Rather fittingly the Torygraph informs its readers that:

“A new study has found that at various times the British have invaded almost 90 per cent of the countries around the globe.

The analysis of the histories of the almost 200 countries in the world found only 22 which have never experienced an invasion by the British.

Among this select group of nations are far-off destinations such as Guatemala, Tajikistan and the Marshall Islands, as well some slightly closer to home, such as Luxembourg. “

I can’t say I am surprised. Anyone familiar with British society can tell you about the low level of jingoism that permeates it. Not as stark as it once was, but it is still around, lurking in the corners.
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Rounding Up Romney, Sesame Street And The World

The US Presidential election is almost over, in a day or two voting will be completed and the counting starts.

Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, has received a more than fair hearing by the world’s media, but as far I can see they have avoided talking about his weirder views and what might happen under a Romney Presidency.

Mitt and Big Bird

Some have strong opinions about Romney’s proposed cuts to PBS:

“Organizers of the Million Puppet March on Capitol Hill in support of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television and National Public Radio (NPR) put the turnout at around 1,000 people, three days before the US presidential vote.

Characters from the children’s show “Sesame Street” — a PBS staple since the network’s founding in 1970 — figured prominently, including two Big Birds, many Kermits and Elmos, and a Miss Piggy grooving to “Dancing in the Streets.”

But the family-friendly rally on a chilly and cloudy day also attracted a frisky marionette of President Barack Obama and a blue-suited protester in a Mitt Romney mask jammed into a trash can with Big Bird on his back.

There was no shortage of sometimes witty placards, like “Keep your Mitts off Big Bird,” “puppets for peace” and, on the arm of a middle-aged gentleman with a skunk puppet, “Romney smells funny.”

The New Yorker looks at Mormonism, private equity, and the making of a candidate:

“Just about the only thing in life that Mitt Romney is obviously not very good at is the public aspect of running for office. During his four campaigns for office—U.S. senator, in 1994; governor, in 2002; President, in 2008 and 2012—he must have undergone endless hours of training and practice, but the magic just isn’t there. In June, I spent a few days on the campaign trail with him, in Wisconsin and Iowa. Romney’s trip had several purposes. A film crew was gathering footage for campaign commercials to run in the fall; Romney stopped in Janesville, Wisconsin, talking privately and doing an event with Paul Ryan, soon to be his running mate; and it was another attempt, apparently fruitless, on the part of the campaign to demonstrate the candidate’s concern with ordinary people. This segment was officially called the “Every Town Counts” tour. Romney rode around in a sleek bus painted with all-American scenes of mountains, church steeples, and ships in harbors. “

Joan Smith looks at a similar issue, men with power and keeping it to themselves:

“Now he’s been criticised by the first female head of the Home Office, the kind of person who very rarely speaks out, for excluding women from top government posts. Dame Helen Ghosh, who left her job as permanent secretary last month to run the National Trust, told students at a Cambridge college that Westminster is run by powerful networks of men which are hard for women to break into. She pointed out that there was a “magical moment” six years ago when half the heads of government departments were women, but now there are only three female permanent secretaries. “

The West-friendly Bahrain regime is locking up people, again:

“MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A defense lawyer in Bahrain says a prominent human rights activist is in custody after defying an official ban on protest gatherings in the Gulf kingdom.

The detention of Yousef al-Muhafedha could further embolden Shiite-led demonstrators seeking a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.”

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Beginners Guide To Britain’s Far Right

Keeping up with the cranks, thugs and racists that comprise the Far Right is a full-time job.

These flaky individuals often work together for a few months or years then split off after a drunken argument, or simply because they can’t get on with each other or the rest of humanity.

Cataloguing the changing face of the Far Right is often a difficult job and the new Extremis Project is a useful resource in that respect.

Their Beginners guide to new groups on Britain’s far right is short, but it provides valuable insights:

“Whether culturism is a genuinely new strain of ideological thinking or a cynical euphemism for race remains unclear. However, Britain’s far right have long understood that openly racial language serves to alienate much of their core demographic. Hence, it is no surprise that an ideology that replaces racial preservation with cultural preservation may well be seen as an easier sell. Whether the language of culturism becomes more widely disseminated among Britain’s far right, or whether it proves to be an ideological cul-de-sac, is yet to be seen.

However, as the BFP scramble to jettison their far-right image in advance of their electoral endeavors, the language of culturism could perhaps prove useful in their pursuit of respectability and the ‘silent majority’. Further to this, the EDL’s leader, Tommy Robinson, yesterday resigned as deputy leader of the BFP. The motivation behind his surprise departure remains unclear, but it is possible that with several impending court cases Robinson is attempting to detoxify the BFP/EDL link and put distance between his criminal reputation and Kevin Carrolls attempt to become a Police and Crime Commissioner. Following his surprise departure from the BFP Robinson has indicated that he intends to develop the English Defence League as an independent political party, possibly targeting the 2014 European elections. Where this leaves the fledgling alliance between the BFP and the EDL remains unclear but the consensual belief that the BFP was now the political wing of the EDL is likely no longer the case. “

A Damp Round Up Of World News

Lighter blogging than expected, so it’s a good time for a roundup.

Tom points to David Cameron’s greed, Cameron is the first PM to pocket private rent while living at number 10.

Bob from Brockley argues that the slaughter in Syria is not really covered in the Western media with any vigour. The old adage of, if it bleeds it leads, doesn’t always applied to certain parts of the Middle East.

Sexism down under, as Julia Gillard rips into her conservative opponent.

Owen Jones on Hugo.

To quote Carl Packman: “Why are @GeorgeGalloway and Ken Livingstone silent about their employer giving so many anti-Semites a platform? …”

Elsewhere, Ruskin College is accused of academic vandalism and destroying its own historical records.

Battle of the ads in NYC, the campaign to counter Pam Geller’s bigoted nonsense.

Fit for work? Don’t believe it.

The statistics are frightening: I missed it but the Mirror pointed it out in April 2012. Chris Tattershall’s treatment was atrocious.

“Panorama also revealed that between January and August last year, on average 32 people died every week who the government had declared could be helped back into work in the medium term. “

Malala Yousafzai and the Taliban. As CNN reports:

“The Taliban controlled Malala’s valley for years until 2009, when the military cleared it in an operation that also evacuated thousands of families. Last year, Malala told CNN she feared “being beheaded by the Taliban because of my passion for education. During their rule, the Taliban used to march into our houses to check whether we were studying or watching television.” She described how she used to hide her books under her bed, fearing a house search by the Taliban.”

Norm on the Guardian’s pandering. The Beeb’s Malala Yousafzai: Portrait of the girl blogger. Related, the Safe World for Women campaign has a message. Alex Andreou is sharp on the Tories:

“Last year, he framed his speech with “Britannia didn’t rule the waves with her armbands on”. This year he says “it is time to sink or swim”. An elegant, if unwitting, indication of how his thinking has moved on; from foolhardy champion swimmer to panicked doggy-paddler. The UK economy is fast becoming a small makeshift raft, cobbled together from antiquated dogma, U-turns and fiascos, adrift in a sea of global uncertainty. Selling off the planks to passing sharks is not a solution. When the water is ankle-deep, crew and passengers look to the captain for action, not regurgitated rhetoric, however deftly delivered. All he can do is stand there and shout passionately “The Free Market will save us! Enterprise will save us! Aspiration will save us!” Abstract, deified, neoliberal concepts without a smidgeon of policy, detail or budget to back them up. I recognised his speech for what it was: A drowning man’s gurgling prayer. “

Immigration detention centres in Britain. Bradley Burston’s appeal:

“Send a message. The asylum seekers want nothing more than to live productive lives and contribute to this society. It makes much better economic sense to integrate asylum seekers into work places and schools, than it does to waste millions on building, maintaining, and operating centers for endless detention of non-criminals and their children. “

Nikolas Kozloff’s Chomsky, Ali, and the failure to challenge the authoritarian left is damning.

Some say Keynes was right? The IMF?

Trending swastikas? Twitter shows that antisemitism is not dead, not even by half.

Atos and Scotland, I must start reading the Daily Record.

When next you meet a Press TV admirer remind them of how it openly pushes the Far and Extreme Right, plus a whole host of nasty racists.

Julian Assange and leaving Sweden.

Topically, sexual harassment and the 21st century.

Didn’t  anyone see this coming? Jean-Marie Le Pen backs Marine on kippah ban.

The UK Human Rights Blog is always worth reading, in particular, their post on Back in the spotlight: the detention of mentally ill asylum seekers.

In cult news, Scientology and the Nation of Islam. Even the free-wheeling Economist thinks Mitt Romney’s foreign policy is weak:

“In truth, his speech, though grave and stern in its delivery, was pretty short on policies that differ greatly from Mr Obama’s.”

B’Tselem’s camera project.

How a society treats minorities, women and rape victims is emblematic of its priorities.

Nick Lowles on football and how not to tackle racism.

Finally, lest we forget buttons, and why history is important, Kublai Khan.

Greta Berlin, Free Gaza And Racism

I have been away and missed the outburst of anti-Jewish racism from the Free Gaza movement via Greta Berlin.

Jeffrey Goldberg explains it:

“This last theory of his was largely forgotten until last week, when Greta Berlin, a co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement, published a message on the group’s Twitter feed: “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews.” It contained a link to a video of Mullins delivering his message.

The Free Gaza group, the leading edge of the international campaign to delegitimize Israel and bring about its end as the national home of the Jewish people, has always argued that it isn’t anti-Semitic, and is merely trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. The group came to public attention in May 2010, when it organized a flotilla of ships to attempt to break the blockade. Israeli commandos boarded the ships and were set upon by passengers wielding pipes and knives. In a terrible overreaction, they responded by opening fire, killing nine. The incident has nearly destroyed Turkish-Israeli relations, and helped make the flotilla cause popular across the Middle East and Europe.

Then Berlin’s Twitter message was discovered last week. Berlin said she posted the video without watching it, and that the message was meant for a private Facebook group. Her critics pointed out that the private sharing of Nazi propaganda doesn’t fall into a different moral category than the public sharing of Nazi propaganda, and so she then argued the message was meant to be part of a broader discussion about the nature of hateful propaganda. Free Gaza has officially disowned the post and taken it down.
But this isn’t Berlin’s first dalliance with purveyors of anti-Semitism. She has also endorsed the work of an ex-Israeli Holocaust revisionist (yes, such a person exists) named Gilad Atzmon, author of “The Wandering Who?” Atzmon has argued, among other things, that it was the Jews who persecuted Hitler, and that Jews who commemorate the Holocaust are followers of the “the most sinister religion known to man.”

Continue reading

Keeping An Eye On Neofascists And Anti-Muslim Sentiment

Slow blogging for me, but in the interim please do peruse HOPE not hate’s latest, Same old faces at anti-Islam demo. Not surprisingly, it was a day out for a sad mix of extremists and neo-Nazis, but let us not forget that is where anti-Muslim sentiment leads, to the extreme right.

“Jim Dowson’s Britain First had a rare public outing yesterday when they called for a demonstration outside of Parliament.

Despite Dowson now being the fundraiser for the rival “English Democrats”, he’s been all over the internet promoting Britain First as a patriotic, Christian alternative to both the EDL and the BNP.

One assumes Jim will not be happy this morning to hear that his group’s rare outing was hijacked by both the BNP and a host of other far-right extremists including members of the EDL and Eddie Stamton, a devout Hitler admirer and former C18 crank who burned the Saudi flag at the thirty strong demonstration. People also gave Nazi salutes for good measure.”

Nick Lowles and Matthew Collins’ Where now for the British far-right? is worth a read.

Over 40,000 Racist Incidents in England And Wales For 2011-12

Anyone familiar with the under currents in British society would know that racism is still a problem, but the latest figures the from Home Office are staggering.

There were over 40,000 reported racial instances last year, 2011-12.

Given the nature of these crimes it is very likely an underestimate. The real figures are probably higher, but whatever the final count, over 40,000 is a terrible indictment on British society.

I doubt the awful figures will spur any societal introspection, that would be uncharacteristically British, and as we’ve seen the question of race in Britain is often brushed under the carpet, or left to fester until it oozes out on its own.

This is an extract:

“There were 43,748 hate crimes recorded by the police in 2011/12.

Note that this figure relates to the five monitored strands of hate crime classifications used by the criminal justice system and is not a count of crime as more than one form of hate crime can be assigned to an offence. Indicative data suggest that less than five per cent of hate crime offences have more than one monitored strand assigned (this ranged between 1% and 7% of offences for the 17 forces whose data was reviewed).

Of the 43,748 hate crimes recorded by the police:

  • 35,816 (82%) were race hate crimes;
  • 1,621 (4%) were religion hate crimes;
  • 4,252 (10%) were sexual orientation hate crimes;
  • 1,744 (4%) were disability hate crimes; and
  • 315 (1%) were transgender hate crimes.

Race hate crimes accounted for the majority of hate crimes in all forces. “

Who Is Sam Bacile?

The short answer is, he doesn’t exist.

He’s a pseudonym, a contrivance, a vehicle to stir up hatred, I have detailed it elsewhere, but the ADL does a much better job:

“The anti-Islam film that has sparked con­sid­er­able out­rage and vio­lence across the Mid­dle East and Islamic world appears to be a prod­uct of sev­eral Chris­t­ian anti-Muslim activists.


Although the false claim that the film Inno­cence of Mus­lims was the work of an “Israeli Jew” received wide­spread atten­tion in the U.S. and abroad, recent reports indi­cate that the film was cre­ated, pro­duced and pro­moted by indi­vid­u­als con­nected to a net­work of anti-Muslim organizations.

Nakoula Bas­se­ley Nakoula, a 55-year-old California-based Cop­tic Chris­t­ian, appears to be the one respon­si­ble for cre­at­ing the impres­sion that the film was cre­ated and sup­ported by Jews. Accord­ing to Amer­i­can offi­cials in an inter­view with the Arabic-language tele­vi­sion sta­tion Al Hurra, Nakoula is the alleged pro­ducer and film­maker of the anti-Islam film. Nakoula ini­tially exposed his role to inter­na­tional media under the pseu­do­nym Sam Bacile, a fic­ti­tious indi­vid­ual that the Asso­ci­ated Press had ini­tially reported was “an Israeli film­maker based in Cal­i­for­nia.” In the inter­view with the AP, Nakoula, speak­ing under a pseu­do­nym, said the film cost $5 mil­lion to make “and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jew­ish donors.” These claims have since been dis­proved with the rev­e­la­tion that Sam Bacile does not exist.

Steve Klein is a California-based anti-Muslim Chris­t­ian activist and for­mer U.S. Marine who claims that he pro­vided con­sult­ing ser­vices for the pro­duc­tion of Inno­cence of Mus­lims. In a recent inter­view fol­low­ing the out­break of vio­lence in Cairo and Beng­hazi, Klein described the film as being designed to spark out­rage. In addi­tion to his alleged role in the film’s tech­ni­cal pro­duc­tion, Klein is founder and board mem­ber of Coura­geous Chris­tians United (CCU), an orga­ni­za­tion that protests out­side of mosques, abor­tion clin­ics and Mor­mon tem­ples. CCU issued a state­ment today denounc­ing the film and indi­cat­ing that Klein had been removed from the board. Many of the links on the group’s web­site redi­rect read­ers to sites designed to con­vince Mus­lims, Mor­mons or Jehovah’s Wit­nesses to con­vert to Chris­tian­ity. Klein is also the founder of Con­cerned Cit­i­zens for the First Amend­ment (CCFA), an anti-Muslim group whose pri­mary ini­tia­tive is to warn high school stu­dents that they are being brain­washed through courses and les­son on Islamic his­tory. He has spo­ken at con­fer­ences on the sub­ject of Islam at the Church at Kaweah, a mil­i­tant Chris­t­ian church base in California. “

Update 1: Spiegel follows up:

“After the protests began, sources leaked a phone number to the Associated Press news agency. When reporters dialed the number, a man answered who claimed to be Sam Bacile, the film’s director. “Islam is a cancer,” he said, adding that he was an Israeli Jew who wanted to spread the truth about Islam. Some 100 Jews had donated money to the project, he said, supposedly to the tune of $5 million. Anyone who says something like that is not only willing to accept a few deaths; he is, at least in the eyes of many Muslims, also getting the state of Israel involved.

But the journalists felt that there was something about his story that didn’t add up. They found the address that corresponds to the man’s cell phone number. The man who came to the door in a cul-de-sac in Cerritos near Los Angeles denied being Bacile. He said that he was only responsible for managing the film team’s logistics, and showed them his driver’s license, but covered his middle name with one of his fingers. The journalists were able to read Nakoula Nakoula — and the rest was research. They found out that Nakoula was convicted of federal bank fraud charges in 2010. He was given a 21-month prison sentence and ordered to pay $790,000 (€600,000) in restitution.

Now, the reporters knew that his real name was Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian from Egypt with US citizenship. According to police records, he maintains at least 14 aliases. “Basseley” sounds almost like “Bacile”. US investigators believe that Sam Bacile, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and the director are one and the same person.

Update 2: Also, my previous posts Anti-Islam Film, The Truth Emerges and Anti-Islamic Film, Who, What and Where?