An Orwell, The Middle East And Boycotts Round Up

There is never enough time to read, reflect and blog, so whilst I think over other posts here is a quick round up of stories that caught my eye.

I was surprised to find that George Orwell had a piece on antisemitism. In many respects, it is as if it were written yesterday:

“I could fill pages with similar remarks, but these will do to go on with. Two facts emerge from them. One — which is very important and which I must return to in a moment — is that above a certain intellectual level people are ashamed of being anti-Semitic and are careful to draw a distinction between “anti-Semitism” and “disliking Jews”. The other is that anti-Semitism is an irrational thing. The Jews are accused of specific offences (for instance, bad behaviour in food queues) which the person speaking feels strongly about, but it is obvious that these accusations merely rationalise some deep-rooted prejudice. To attempt to counter them with facts and statistics is useless, and may sometimes be worse than useless. As the last of the above-quoted remarks shows, people can remain anti-Semitic, or at least anti-Jewish, while being fully aware that their outlook is indefensible. If you dislike somebody, you dislike him and there is an end of it: your feelings are not made any better by a recital of his virtues. “

At Liberal Conspiracy, Sunny Hundel is direct in his criticism, Publicity-hungry extremists to protest at US Embassy London.
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In Syria Residents Suffer Death and Destruction

HRW has released some striking images of the Syrian government’s shelling in Homs:

“Local sources have reported that approximately 700 civilians have been killed and thousands wounded in Homs since the Syrian military began its current assault on the city on February 3, 2012. Indiscriminate shelling and sniper fire has caused most of the casualties in Baba Amr, which is a residential area where elements of the armed opposition have sought refuge. Human Rights Watch interviewed 15 Homs residents who escaped the city in the last two weeks, as well as two foreign correspondents who spent time in Baba Amr during the military assault.

“These new satellite photos and witness accounts show the extent of the brutality unleashed on Baba Amr,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Despite the killing, Russia and China continue to block any international action.”

Human Rights Watch acquired and analyzed this commercial satellite image of the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs on February 25. A wide view of the image clearly shows the extensive damage caused by the use of surface-delivered explosive weapons in a populated area. The image reflects the damage that has occurred since previous images were taken between four and six weeks ago.”

Yossi Gurvitz on Syria

I suspect that lot of what Yossi Gurvitz says applies to attitudes in Britain and Europe:

“Last Thursday, a special UN commission on Syria found that the Assad regime is committing crimes against humanity, and that senior regime officials are participants in these crimes. The commission was significantly limited in its ability to report on events, as the regime denied it entry into Syria, and it had to rely on the testimonies of refugees. Even so, it is important to take its conclusions seriously: in several previous cases, the first testimonies about crimes against humanity came from refugees.

The refugees supply us with only a partial view, yet they indicate a terrible desolation, thousands of casualties, the systematic use of rape as a tool of terror, and prevalent torture. The number of civilians massacred by the regime in the last year is estimated in the many thousands – many more, for instance, than the number killed by the IDF during the Second Intifada. Naturally, the precise number is not known, but an opposition site that is considered reputable cites 8,791 dead; another site, which also furnishes a map of the atrocities, estimates the number of dead at 9,236. These numbers are updated to the time of writing of this post, and both of them reflect only the known dead – people identified by others. It’s very probable that there are hundreds more, unrecognized.

Read more at Opposition activists must choose: Either human rights or Assad.