Jeremy Bowen, BDS and Obvious Questions

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Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East Editor recently stated:

I feel there are many serious questions that need to be asked about BDS and racism.

I have covered them many times before, but this handy Tumblr draws them together:

Twitter, Storify and how to spot a bigot.

[The above image was taken from one of the numerous antisemitic web sites that support BDS.

How do I know it was antisemitic? Because it rants on about 9/11, blaming Jews, and promotes Holocaust denial. That is how!]

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Islamophobia And Social Media

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There is a new report covering the phenomenon of Islamophobia and social media.

It comes from the superb Online Hate Prevention Institute and leading scholar in the field, Dr Andre Oboler.

“On International Human Rights Day, December 10th 2013, the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) have released a major new report into the growing problem of online hate targeting the Muslim community. The full report, titled ‘Islamophobia on the Internet: The growth of online hate targeting Muslims’, is available below as a free download.

The report examines anti-Muslim hate on Facebook and was produced by the Online Hate Prevention Institute, Australia’s only charity entirely dedicated to the growing problem of online hate. We thank the Islamic Council of Victoria, the peak body representing Victoria’s Muslim community, who we consulted regularly in the preparation of this report. The report follows previous major works by OHPI examining online hate against Indigenous Australians, the Jewish Community, and the ANZACs and Military Veterans.

This major work examines 50 anti-Muslim Facebook pages. The Facebook pages range from “The Islamic threat” which today passed the 113,000 supporter mark and continues to rapidly grow, to “Mohammad the PIG” which vanished after reaching 2000 supporters. From these 50 pages the report documents 349 images of anti-Muslim hate. These images represent 191 unique images and many repetitions as messages of hate move between the different pages.”

Read more here.

The link to the download is towards the end of the page and marked ‘Islamophobia on the Internet: The growth of online hate targeting Muslims by Andre Oboler.

Update 1: The Online Hate Prevention Institute has produced a number of fine and informative publications which can be found here.

Not forgetting their briefings and opinion pieces.

Fake Quotes And Nelson Mandela

As I commented elsewhere, even before Nelson Mandela’s body was cold various cynical operators were trying to expropriate his memory.

As distasteful as that is, it is to be expected. Political activists have axes to grind and often very little self-awareness.

They cannot understand when they are being tasteless, silly or cynical. That applies across the political spectrum from the Left to the extremes of the Right.

However, there are no excuses for using fake quotes.

These are very common in the arena of debate on the Middle East.

Regrettably, the speaker and personality Mohammed Ansar has allowed himself to be manipulated in this area.
MoAnsar1

Mohammed Ansar may have had the best of intentions. But it is incredibly sloppy for anyone in the lime-light, with access to Google. Public figures and organisations on Twitter need to take extra care.

We know this is fake because the original author, Arjan El Fassed, admits it.

Even the Electronic Intifada site acknowledges that fact:

Editor’s note, 28 June 2013: This article was written by Arjan El Fassed in 2001 in the satirical style then being employed by Thomas Friedman, of writing mock letters from one world leader to another. Although it carries El Fassed’s byline, it has been repeatedly mistaken for an actual letter from Mandela. It is not. It is a piece of satire. El Fassed has written this history of the piece and how it subsequently was mistaken for a real letter, on his personal blog.” [My emphasis.]

My own view is, by all means criticise any government for their actions or deeds, but don’t get pulled into demonisation or use fake quotes. In the age of Google there is no excuse.

The One Law for All Campaign Does Not Even Understand The Question

The One Law for All campaign is run by seasoned political activists. That makes their inability to comprehend the question of amicability to neofascists, EDL supporters/sympathizers all the harder to understand.

Reminds me of the old adage “When in a hole, stop digging.”.

I will comment on it later on but in the interim I have taken the liberty of reposting Anne Marie Waters’ statement on the issue, lest it vanish:

“Anne Marie Waters October 8, 2013 at 10:44 pm:

Ok, before I start, I speak on my own behalf, not Maryam’s, or One Law for All, but I simply cannot let this go on without speaking out.

First of all, Pat Condell. Pat Condell is not a racist – he has been very clear on numerous occasions that his issue is with religion, not race. I second that. There are disturbing rape statistics in Scandinavia. This report from Norway discusses it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWWrpv-pbuc The girl interviewed tell us that her rapist told her that he could do whatever he liked to her because his religion says so. You will probably now call the Norwegian police racist, but I doubt that they are. The police woman in question was right that attitudes to women are relevant and we’ve got to have the courage to discuss them. These attitudes stem from religion, not race. BobFromBrockley you wrote: “It’s the language that is racist, not whatever factual basis may or may not exist for his claims”. So you’re unconcerned about the facts? Telling the truth is racist? I’m afraid not. What is racist though is raping Norwegian women because they are Norwegian. Raping “Aussie pigs” because they’re Aussies, is also racist http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/07/13/1026185124700.html

You might also be interested in the young rapist who escaped punishment here in Britain because he believed women “to be no more worthy than a lollipop that has been dropped on the ground”. He claimed he was taught this by Islam. Note please, he said this. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2268395/Adil-Rashid-Paedophile-claimed-Muslim-upbringing-meant-didnt-know-illegal-sex-girl-13.html)

At no point did Condell blame this on race, but on religion. And perhaps he’s got some reason to given the words of the rapists themselves. The idea that women are to blame for rape is not some lunatic fringe, but state policy in many Islamic states. Sorry if that is inconvenient but the truth often is. You are no doubt going to focus on who did the reporting of these words, and ignore the words, but that is something I can never do. Even the Daily Mail doesn’t get away with fabricating facts.

To suggest (and nobody is) that all Muslim men view women in this way is absurd and grossly offensive, but it is just as absurd to suggest that religious and cultural norms which imprison women for being rape victims has no impact whatsoever on the views of some of these men – especially when they believe that this comes from God. This cannot carry on. We owe it to the victims to be honest about this. And before you say it, no decent person is going to blame all Muslims, or all “immigrants”.. only people such as yourselves lump people in to groups like this. Most people don’t. But the motive matters and it must be addressed.

You might think facing the truth is “stirring up hatred” but I rather think it might be the rapes that are doing that. If the truth hurts, it is the truth that must change, not the fact that people are telling it.

Please try to understand the damage that this causes. Shouting racist at people for recognising reality is the reason that there are 1000s of girls in this country having their genitals butchered every year, are forced in to “marriages”, forced out of school and imprisoned in their homes. Police and social workers are terrified because people like you shout racist at them at every given opportunity – whether what they say is true or not. This is obscene and those who do it need to have a serious look at themselves.

In summary: standing back and doing nothing to protect young girls and women because of their skin colour – that is racism.

You have also demeaned the word racist and made it so that it is no longer taken as seriously as it should, and the result will inevitably be that people who suffer because of their colour of their skin will be ignored. You are having the opposite effect and leaving people to suffer – because of their skin colour, while calling everyone else racists.

SarahAB – I agree with you “there are different shades of opinion amongst EDL supporters”. Yes there are. I don’t like the EDL, I have never supported them and I wish they didn’t exist – but they do, and do you know why? Because people shouted “racist” at everyone who had a legitimate concern about Islam and drove everyone away – creating racial tension, doing nothing to solve anything and instead making it immeasurably worse. Government, police, social workers all ignored it – because they would be called racists if they did anything. This causes the problems you now complain of – this is why the EDL exists.

As for QueenLareefer, who the hell is anyone to tell her she’s a racist? Do you know her? I didn’t know she was EDL but I would have to get to know her before I make judgements on her – to understand what her reasons are. She’s an individual and deserves to be treated like one. The EDL has seriously nasty people in it yes, but many people turn to it because they feel they’ve got nowhere else to go. Where is she to turn to express herself? To the left? What if she loves her country as she clearly does? That makes her a racist to many on the left, especially if that country happens to be England. She will automatically be dismissed. No political party will entertain anyone who expresses a dislike of Islam and what if she doesn’t subscribe to left-wing beliefs? I know that some of you believe anyone who isn’t left-wing is a racist, but that is your problem. I happen to love this country too, as do many black and Asian Brits – what category do you put them in? What is your view on the nasty elements of the UAF? An organisation which has an avowed Islamist as its vice chair? (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewgilligan/100140248/ken-livingstones-anti-fascist-group-appoints-fascist-as-vice-chair/) Do you condemn the UAF just as loudly? I didn’t think so.

People often feel they have nowhere to go when they dislike Islam, as they perfectly entitled to do. I don’t agree with every word Queen Lareefer says, but amazingly, as an adult, I can still respect her right to express herself without smearing her as a racist. She clearly has issues with Islam: she and I have that in common. I retweeted her today (and you can ‘presume’ all you like about what tweets of hers I saw or didn’t) because I support the view that we should move on and all anti-Islamists reject actual racists and work with Quilliam and others to defeat the real threat of Islamism. Serious kudos are due to Quilliam for this. We’ve got to stop alienating and pushing everyone away, we’ve got to identify racism for what it is – it’s about race, not religion. Opposition to Islamism is not some exclusive club and who the hell do people think they are to think they get to dictate who is or isn’t a racist?

As for paranoia which someone has thrown at me recently because of my website. 85 sharia tribunals and counting? Paranoia? Imams caught on camera marrying little girls. Paranoia? You might want to check out Undercover Mosque http://vimeo.com/19598947 and http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xr1al0_undercover-mosque-the-return_webcam Or are the cameras racist too?

Now I know you are inevitably going to call me a racist for all this, do your best. I really am past caring.

You can continue to focus on who follows who on twitter, and I will continue to focus on little girls and women being raped and mutilated. You have your priorities, I have mine.

[Editor’s note: I apologise to reader for the linkage to the appalling Daily Mail, etc but I wanted to give Ms. Waters the opportunity to fully air her views.]

Lack of Commonsense At One Law for All Campaign

I find if I make a mistake it is good to apologise, but there is a need to do it sincerely. Conversely, I find amongst most politicos, the university educated and with many men: a serious reluctance to ever admit they are wrong. No matter the overwhelming evidence.
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One example is the MPs expenses scandal. Even at the very end, these rich, well-educated and privileged individuals could not admit they were wrong, openly. It was abundantly clear to everyone outside of Westminster that there had been serious wrongdoings on MPs expenses. To the bitter end some MPs would not say “Sorry, we did wrong.”

That seems to be the problem with the One Law for All campaign, or least their spokesperson Anne Marie Waters.

Despite being reassured by their leader that they will reply early next week I have yet to see even the slightest mea culpa.

In fact, Ms Waters seems to be digging her heels in, but I don’t wish this to be an acrimonious dispute.

I just want nonracists to ostracised neofascists, neo-Nazis, their friends, their allies, their water carriers and PR teams. To shun them, completely.

Surely, that is not too much to ask?
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Notwithstanding how I outlined my disagreement on Storify, Ms Waters seems intent on misunderstanding my points. Therefore, I have taken the liberty of condensing a few tweets which described the issue as I see it (I fixed some typos):

“We’re often told by “anti-Islamists”/secularists/atheists that they have nothing inherently against Muslims, yet this doesn’t always stack up. If said individuals have nothing intrinsically against Muslims, then they shouldn’t be found exchanging pleasantries with racists/neofascists. This is a fairly simple point, & it applies widely that nonracists should not, cohabitate, aid or otherwise normalise racists/neofascists.

But we can see how the spokesperson of the One Law for All campaign is exceedingly friendly with EDL sympathisers/supporters. You might not unreasonably expect that nonracists should avoid any friendly contact with neofascists or their allies, based on the above. Because otherwise we may assume that they share similar views, in this case a loathing for Muslims, to varying degrees.

That point applies broadly, if we look at “anti-Zionists” we would hope not to find them anywhere near antisemitic material, but we do. We should hope that those who express strong views in relationship to Muslims or Jews, do not associated anyway with neofascists or neo-Nazis. Nevertheless, there is evidence that “anti-Zionists” have distributed antisemitic links over time, this is only one example.

Equally, supposed “secularists”, such as @AMDWaters are on very good terms with a few EDL supporters/sympathisers.

I would personally prefer if that were not the case, but the evidence in their timelines, is proof enough, look yourself: @AMDWaters @freegazaorg

I hope the One Law for All Campaign make a serious effort to understand these points. These ideas are not complex for those committed to antiracism, or anyone literate.

Greenbelt: British Christians, Syria And Assad

A yearly Christian festival has come in for criticism to the extent that Greenbelt felt compelled to put out a Statement on Israel/Palestine programming by Greenbelt. Whilst there is the broader question of, whether or not Westerners should be interfering in the Middle East, there should be no circumscription on criticising the human-rights record of any governments. Any.

cross1 There is much to criticise in the Middle East and the Israeli government is not immune from it. The continued occupation in the West Bank. The treatment of immigrants to Israel and the rise of right-wing racist ideas. However, we must not forget that it has been Israelis at the very forefront of these issues and opposing their own government.  That opposition takes various forms from the human-rights organisations, such as B’Tselem to Rabbis For Human Rights and beyond.

Where is it, Syria?

Except that Israel is not the only country in the Middle East.

Nor is it the only one connected to the Christian faith and therefore of interest to many Westerners or festival-goers at Greenbelt.

I could not help but notice a strange omission from the festival programme, any mention of Syria. Whilst it has slid down the news agenda, the 2½ year conflict involves many millions, with probably over 120,000 dead, millions of refugees flooding into neighbouring countries and it should deserve at least one word of commentary. I thought it was a peculiar oversight, but then, is it?

I wondered, could it be that those fixated with Israeli misdemeanours give the rulers of Syria an easy time? There is one whole article on the Greenbelt site relating to Syria, whereas the search result on “Israel” amount to 7 pages of searches, 63 entries.

A Hypothesis.

The  hypothesis, that strident and negative views on Israel would lead to a bias in reporting of the Middle East needed testing, the question was how?

Well, I supposed that choosing the most strident Christian critics of the Israelis I could think of might prove illuminating. Surely, I reasoned, they could not fail to indict Bashar Assad for instigating the conflict in Syria? Or using tank shells and aircraft on unarmed civilians?

All of this did not happen overnight. The conflict started in March 2011 when the Syrian government decided to shoot peaceful demonstrators. The Western media begun to document the abuse by the Assad regime, including disappearances and regular use of torture.

I thought that even the harshest adversary of the Israelis would not be so lopsided as to moderate their acerbic attitudes when it came to the quasi-dictatorship in Syria.
Continue reading

Antisemitism, Anonymous And Twitter

Finding antisemitism on Twitter is easy, but it’s surprising how few attempt to stop it, as witnessed by the 170,000 plus followers of the Anonymous Operations account.

Remembering that wherever you find racism, sexism and the degradation of women is often not far behind.

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My first storify looks briefly at the issues, Holocaust Denial at Anonymous.

Elsewhere, there is a nice tumblr account which tries to track this form of racism.

Also, the new humourously entitled Zionist Entity blog aims to tackle antisemitism and supports Kestrels.

Finally, Oliver Hotham is blogging and always worth a read.

Mitt Romney, Nick Clegg And The Art of Parody

Nick Clegg’s insincere and poor apology has brought forth a few spoof videos on Youtube, but to my taste they lack a certain punch.

Elsewhere YouTube is full of good parodies of Mitt Romney and I enjoyed this one:

Update 1: The Daily Show tears into Romney.

Clegg’s Non-Apology

The blogosphere and twitter are a buzzed with Nick Clegg’s non-apology, which is here. The video clip is unremarkable and demonstrates a monumental lack of introspection by a politician, but the comments are wonderful and before they are removed this is a selection:

“A blatantly self-serving apology issued because the Cleggeron can smell his own imminent political death. He’d already decided to ditch this policy *before* the election but declined to tell the electorate & carried on making empty promises. Just a shame for him that his 30 pieces of silver haven’t lasted as long as he thought they would. Go fuck yourself, Nick. I look forwards to your consignment to the dustbin of history…

Fattybill2011 22 seconds ago

Why do politicians always say “I say this” before saying something? No one else does it. It sounds so insincere and weird. Anyway, Clegg, you can put your onion away and dry your little tears. No reasonable, well-informed person is going to vote for your mob ever again.

HertsHoopsDotOrg 2 minutes ago

Ah conference season, or more ironically for many new universities, the new academic year is about to begin.
Too little too late. Voted Liberal Democrat at the last general election, and sincerely regret doing so. They will say exactly what you want to hear so they could get into a position of power; dump all their manifesto promises (incl. the NHS), do their own thing by the Tory ideological book, and forget all the people who put their faith in them to do a good job.
Never again.

jpezzaa 9 minutes ago

Changing the tax system to make it fair?? WHAT??HELLO??You guys must think we’re morons. You lot are the morons. DV is gonna go up as women will be more financially dependent, more people will die, working class are going to stop being able to afford to go to uni. the 50p tax rate has been cut. Make goldman sachs, amazon google vodafone and tesco home pay their tax, review MPs pensions, cut the house of commons restaurant subsidy and get the money back of the banks. shame on you.

RockinMadz 16 minutes ago

Keep talking you’re just digging deeper. You have no credibility, and appear to be a perks of office hungry tory lackey.

straylightc4b 21 minutes ago 19

You lied, you stole my vote. You broke every pledge and every promise. I pledge never again to campaign for, vote for or support any member of the Liberal Democrat party at any level, local or national. Unlike you I keep my promises.

PARIDABY 21 minutes ago 2

Politically speaking, Cleggy’s just shot himself in the foot. Such an overdue apology is going to do more bad than good for the Liberal Democrats. Promising “I will never again make a pledge unless as a party we are absolutely clear about how we can keep it. ” is just ridiculous.
Tom Landers 21 minutes ago “

If the Labour Party had any gumption and savvy then they would follow the Democratic rapid response team’s tactics in the US and release a shortened version, a humourous, dubbed version of Clegg’s non-apology and stick it to the LibDems in the Tory coalition.

There is a very strong anti-Tory sentiment in Britain which the Labour Party should try and capitalise on.

Mitt Romney On Twitter

Mitt Romney is being pulled apart by the British media and on Twitter under the hastag #RomneyShambles

There are far too many good contributions, but these struck me as about right:

SheSheGo ‏@SheSheGo

At this point, Mitt Romney is making George W. Bush and Sara Palin look like Rhodes Scholars. #RomneyShambles

Michael Pacholek ‏@MichaelPacholek

When Boris Johnson looks smart and sane by comparison, you know your trip to Britain is in #RomneyShambles.

Organic Democrat ‏@organicdemocrat

#RomneyShambles The sad part is that @MittRomney was up all night learning his lines for his meeting with PM.

DR ‏@pollbuster

#romneyshambles: More Romney fallout: ‘Apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity’ and this was one of the better reactions.”

If readers see any other good ones, please let me know.

Even the America media are getting in on the act.

Update 1: Vanity Fair covers it:

“Mitt Romney’s disaster of a European vacation continues to implode. In an Olympic ceremony in Hyde Park this afternoon, London mayor Boris Johnson mocked Romney’s earlier gaffe—Disconcerting-gate—and Romney’s dumb name. “There’s guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!” Did Johnson make air quotes with his hands when he said “Mitt Romney”? “

Update 2: The NY times touches on his real reason for visiting London:

“Although Mr. Romney hasn’t won over the British Prime Minister or the British Olympic Committee, at least some Londoners seem to have embraced the Republican candidate. The Telegraph reported yesterday that executives at Barclay’s—the bank that paid a huge fine over the Libor scandal–have donated $1 million to Mr. Romney. (All American citizens?) The Guardian said there is a fundraiser for him tonight in Mayfair for between $50,000 and $75,000 a ticket.

Update 3: Time haven’t missed out either.

TPM points to the real issue, money:

“With his London visit mired in controversy, Mitt Romney is also facing criticism for taking money from individuals implicated in an ongoing banking scandal.
Barclays executives have donated over $1 million to Romney’s campaign, according to the Guardian, and many are expected to be in attendance at Thursday’s fundraiser, raising eyebrows on both sides of the pond.”

Update 4: It’s on the BBC too.

Update 5: With the Huff Post picking it up I can’t wait for the YouTube spoofs to appear.

Politicus USA hasn’t missed out the comparison, Romney in Shambles as Britain Proclaims Him Worse than Sarah Palin.

Update 6: Romney and vanity go together rather well, as the Salt Lake City Olympics commemorative badges (pins for American readers) demonstrates.

Update 7: Over at the Atlantic, The Best of #romneyshambles.

Update 8: Romney gaffes in full.

The WSJ’s Romney’s Not-So-Secret Meeting With MI6.

No gold medal for Mitt Romney from British press.

From 2007, Mitt Romney: I won’t let US go the way of UK.

Mitt Romney’s Olympics blunder stuns No 10 and hands gift to Obama.