May 31, 2005

Letter to America

Here's a letter by a chap I know published in USA Today.
I have read many articles in U.S. media about the future of the Middle East. None of them seems to understand that the region's problems cannot be solved by money; only by the pursuit of justice through the law.

Sen. Bill Frist starts his commentary with the ludicrous claim that Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is "courageous." Since when does it require "courage" to finally comply with the law after nearly 40 years of abuse and defiance?

Palestinians' problems are not even touched by the largely insignificant withdrawal from Gaza. There are only about 8,000 would-be colonists in Gaza, whereas in the occupied Palestinian territories altogether there are more than 400,000; a number that is growing daily as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon continues his theft of Palestinian land and the United States remains in impotent silence.

It is a distortion of reality to claim that the "international community has provided the Palestinians with a great deal of money over the years, only to see it frittered away through fraud and waste." It hasn't been frittered away. In my view, it has been destroyed by Israeli military action.

The article follows slavishly the claim that "ending terrorism is the prerequisite for peace in the region." The ignorance that such a claim reveals is frightening. The terrorism is a final reaction to 50 years of Israel's racist defiance of international law over refugees, settlements and occupation.

Only the inept and the inadequate seek to cure symptoms.

It is justice and the law that are the real prerequisites.

Christopher Leadbeater

Kent, England
I'm surprised they published it and it goes to show the value of writing to the press even when you think they're a dead loss.

May 30, 2005

Interview with George Galloway

Sorry I'm so late with this but the friend of mine who actually conducted the interview in Washington for Counterpunch didn't tell me about it until yesterday. My fault I suppose for not phoning sooner! Click the headline above for the full interview.
Esther Sassaman: a little bit of a selfish question, but very useful to us - You already said that such an alliance [between Muslims and socialists] can prosper in the US. My question is - how? One of the main problems we have here as progressive Muslim and non-Muslim activists in the US is we have trouble mobilizing the larger Muslim community due to an atmosphere of fear after September 11th. How - how do we overcome that?

George Galloway: Well, ithats understandable, and at the beginning you will only be able to mobilize the most courageous and the best established. There's a clear difference between someone who - whose "jacket is here on a shaky nail" as we say, and someone who was born here, of Muslim extraction. That person is likely to be more courageous in facing up to the prevailing atmosphere - than someone who has just arrived or thinks that that they might be just a transient here. But of course the local population is, more and more, the second generation population. And that's where I'd start. I'd start with the most politically advanced of the older generation and I'd start targeting the younger generation. And say to them: politics can change things. Democracy can change things. The extremists .... the Salafids, they argue that voting is haraam, that elections are haraam, that working with what they call the kufr, the unbelievers, is haraam. We say, no, it's vital. And, it works. And Bethnal Green is a good example of it.
Esther jumped on a bus to Washington from Cleveland just to see the man. She ended up inside the hallowed halls of the self-styled "world's greatest deliberative body" to see an UnAmerican Activities Committee make history, by collectively taking the fifth on the grounds that anything they said might incriminate them.

Letter from America

I just got this email from a zionist in America.
"So the boycott campaign is over, or is it? The campaign will be revisited in future AUT conferences, many academics are instituting their own personal boycotts, and the notion that Israel is an apartheid state is now in front of many people as never before. As, an unintended consequence of, an Israel Insider headline has it "the stain remains."

Admit it. You guys lost this one bigtime. All you proved was that your policy of attempting brainwashing of British students couldn't stand the test of debate in a country that is more sympathetic to Palestinians than Israelis in a community that perhaps the most pro-Palestinian part of society. [to translate - the British public is more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel and the AUT membership is more pro-Palestinian than the British public - my problem here is that surely the boycott motion would have been retained if this were the case, or is the correspondent suggesting that the zionists got their way against the beliefs of the majority of both British society and ther academic community in particular?]

The Guardian and the Independent have been publishing articles calling Israel an apartheid state for years. The AUT "boycott" didn't gain you any more supporters.
Leaving aside the sheer paranoia of saying that a union resolution amounts to "attempting brainwashing" perhaps the correspondent could send some online links to all these Guardian and Independent articles "calling Israel an apartheid state for years." Meanwhile, reality based (I hate that expression) readers might want to ponder the Guardian's editorial on the boycott, published, I think, the morning of the first resolution. In it the Guardian pays lip service to abuses of Palestinians' rights but here's the final paragraph:
Supporters of boycotts often argue that Israel should be treated like apartheid South Africa. That is a controversial parallel which many Israelis see as delegitimating their state. Friends of the Palestinians should question whether this kind of boycott is not a blunt instrument that is unlikely to serve their cause well.
In fairness to my American correspondent, the Guardian can't quite bring itself to say that Israel is not an apartheid state; it is after all a newspaper of record. But this is hardly a ringing endorsement of the pro-boycott anti-apartheid camp.

May 29, 2005

Brenner and the Board

Lenni Brenner has challenged the Board of Deputies of British Jews to a debate over nazi-zionist relations. The issue began with a report in the Jewish News saying that the Board had pressed Amazon to issue a warning about Brenner's latest book 51 documents. Brenner wrote to the Board asking to see a copy of any compaint they had made to Amazon as the JN report said
A Board spokesman said: "We have urged Amazon to acknowledge on the site that this book is of a dangerous and controversial nature."
The Board responded thus:
Firstly I must inform you that no written representations have been made to Amazon on this issue.
So how did they make their representations? Did they phone? Did they organise a meeting? Or did they issue a call through the Jewish News? Funny old business.

Boycott: lessons in class

Here's a good article in Zmag. Titled The Lessons of the AUT Boycott Reversal, it raises various class issues arising out of the campaigns for and against the AUT boycott. Early on in the article it is pointed out that Univerity teachers are not quite a proletarian vanguard.
Though university lecturers are hardly the stereotypical representation of working class struggles, they do represent a sector with considerable moral weight in setting the agendas of class struggle in their given social, political and economic manifestations. Furthermore, the possibility of selectively boycotting Israeli institutions, organizations, and universities, remains a possibility amongst wider sectors of the Western working class, including amongst its productive/ industrial/ service sectors. Here lies a crucial strategic weakness of Israel and its US partners. UK and US complicity in the crimes of Israel can indeed be threatened if “industrial quiet” which facilitates profit making, is disturbed and interrupted domestically. This relates to the classic power of the working classes whose interests – distinct from any other class – are to resist its own exploitation and the machinations of its capitalist elites.
But stressing the class nature of zionism and, in particular, US/UK support for it, it sets out a class response in terms of direct and solidarity action, as inspired by the AUT.

I don't think it's necessary for anti-zionists to explicitly renounce anti-semitism every time Israel is discussed but the writer, Toufic Haddad, makes a useful detour from the main thrust of this article to do just that:
The fact remains that US, and more broadly speaking, Western imperial interests in supporting Israel stem from the crucial significance these capitalist elites have attributed to the region and the role Israel can play in this regard. It is long overdue that Palestinian solidarity activism does away with conspiratorial theories about the power of AIPAC or of "world Zionism". Though no doubt Zionist forces are organized and have considerable powers, this is not sufficient to explain why the US, and the EU as well, support Israel as a "Jewish state". If indeed these forces were the reasons for US or EU policy, why is it that a famous anti-semite like Richard Nixon would ensure that Israel was airlifted supplies during the 1973 October War? Or why Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is still in prison? Or why the US has at times directly intervened to stop Israeli arms sales to India and China? Egypt receives the second largest amount of US foreign aid – almost comparable in size to Israel - but nobody has ever raised the question of "the Egyptian lobby". It is finally time to do away with these ideas as they actually tend to play into the hands of the Zionists who can then paint Palestinian solidarity activism as a re-articulation of genuine anti-Semitism – something we must be vigilantly opposed to both morally and organizationally.
Ok, I have found a couple of points to criticise here. First, I usually find that Palestinian and other anti-zionists do identify British and American imperialist interests as being behind US/UK support for Israel. The second is that, whilst Egypt does receive comparable levels of aid in national terms, Israel many times more in per capita terms. Also, zionism does infect American political culture in a way that cannot be attributed to any Egyptian ideology. When Condoleesa Rice visited Israel last year she told an audience that when she landed in Jerusalem, she felt she had "come home". She doesn't even say that when she comes home. This is not to negate the materialist reasons for American support for Israel but the blowback from that support is distorting relations between the two states. This is by no means unique. Look at Britain and Ireland. When the UK created the Orange state of Northern Ireland, NI was supposed to pay the UK £150 million per annum: the imperial levy. In the event Britain had to send in so many troops to prop up the ridiculous (and thoroughly nasty) entity, Northern Ireland became British imperialism's loss leader. Look also at Irish demands for "British standards of justice" to be applied in Ireland. Only recently did it become clear that Britain had repatriated the appalling standards of "justice" inflicted on Ireland for centuries, back to Britain.

I think the most important aspect of this article is the focus on trade unionism and not on academia. The expression "academic intifada" is good fun to hurl around, but this has been, and is, a trade union struggle and it will spread to other unions.

Jamming in the name of the L-rd

The link in the headline is to a fairly amusing article by Uri Avnery. Here's a taste:
Perhaps there are countries where drivers stuck in traffic jams don't get annoyed. They know they can do nothing about it, so they wait patiently. Think their own thoughts, listen to the radio or read until the jam disperses.

We Israelis are not like that. We are a nervous lot. We have no patience. When we are stuck in a jam, we curse the world and the government, demanding a solution, perhaps a dirt road by which we might escape.

This is why I find it so hard to understand the tactics of the settlers, who use the traffic jam as their main weapon. If they believe that by blocking major traffic arteries, burning tires and creating huge jams throughout the country they are going to win the sympathy of the public, they are even more divorced from reality than it seemed already.

Actually, the blocking of roads is a declaration of war against the Israeli public. It marks a clear front-line: the settlers and their adherents on one side and the majority of the population on the other.
And here's another, more telling one:
The settlers are playing a very sophisticated double game. Their leaders threaten civil war. On the walls there appear graffiti announcing "We have killed Rabin, we shall kill Sharon!" (Rabin's murderer did indeed come from this camp, but for years we were admonished not to mention this, because it might "split the nation".) Every day, spokespersons use the media to sketch blood-curdling scenarios: masses of sympathizers will march on Gush Katif, traffic throughout the country will come to a standstill, matters will "get out of hand", blood will be spilled.
Thus the settlers aim to put the pain into "painful concessions".

AUT boycott motion overturned

The Association of University Teachers has overturned its resolution to boycott two Israeli Universities following a special conference convened by way of 25 dissenters registering their disapproval of the original motion. It's interesting to see who applauds this latest decision. Here's Kim Howells, UK minister with responsibility for the middle east (and former chair of Labour Friends of Israel)
I welcome the decision by the Association of University Teachers to overturn the boycott of Haifa and Bar Ilan universities in Israel.

The British Government believes that the best way we can help achieve a peaceful resolution in the region is to encourage both sides to take the steps necessary for progress through close engagement. We do not believe that sanctions and boycotts help towards that aim.
The UK's Chief Rabbi Jonothan Sacks
I hope we will now see an increase in genuine academic dialogue in Britain, as is already happening between Israeli and Palestinian academics in Jerusalem and elsewhere.
The Israeli ambassaor to London, Zvi Heifetz described the original boycott motion as
a deeply flawed and biased vote.

The academic world must play a constructive role in building bridges and encouraging co-operation, rather than taking retrograde steps that can only sabotage progress. Let this decision today send an unequivocal message that baseless and overtly discriminatory boycotts do nothing to further steps towards peace and reconciliation in our region.
Rounding up, AUT General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said
It is now time to build bridges between those with opposing views here in the UK and to commit to supporting trade unionists in Israel and Palestine working for peace
So the boycott campaign is over, or is it? The campaign will be revisited in future AUT conferences, many academics are instituting their own personal boycotts, and the notion that Israel is an apartheid state is now in front of many people as never before. As, an unintended consequence of, an Israel Insider headline has it "the stain remains."

Terrible twin?

Following George Galloway's mauling of the US Congress a couple of weeks back he addressed a rally at which he remembered the twinning of Dundee with Nablus and Glasgow with Bethlehem and the flying of the Palestinian flag over Town Halls in Scotland. He further pledged
if Respect wins the London borough of Tower Hamlets, we will twin with Jenin, and the Palestinian flag will fly over the town hall of the London borough of Tower Hamlets, and that’s a promise.
Needless to say, this has some zionists a tad hot under the collar with Jewish News. editorialising that the Bethnal Green and Bow MP is somehow failing his Jewish and other non-Muslim constituents. I can't find the editorial online but here's Eric Moonman of the Zionist Federation
He would be making a real blunder if he imagines such talk is popular with the majority of its constituents.

Around one-quarter to one-third of the constituents are Muslim, while the majority are very typical east enders. While he got the majority he needed I’m not sure he was able totally to persuade everyone about his extraordinary attitude to the Middle East and Iraq.
Some explanation is in order for the full quote here. How, for example do Muslim east enders differ from "very typical east enders". Also I gather that Galloway supports a two state solution for Palestine and, of course, his antiwar stance is probably what won him the election. How is this "extraordinary" apart from the fact that it is indeed an extraordinary British politician who risks his career to oppose both Israel and the war on Iraq? Somehow I don't think this is what Eric Moonman had in mind.

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy said
We are sure that his intention behind twinning Tower Hamlets and Jenin is that it will encourage the capital of Palestinian terrorism to adopt the peaceful nature of its British twin. Lets hope that Mr Galloway will be able to see shades of grey rather than his usual monochromatic attitude.
I thought you could see shades of grey with monochrome.

May 25, 2005

Anti-apartheid II, this time it's personal

South Africa's Minister for Intelligence has added his voice to the demand for a boycott of Israeli universities on the grounds that Israel is an apartheid state and that its academics do not do enough to assuage the effects of its apartheid system on its victims. Ronnie Kasrils is a former commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress. Together with Victoria Brittain in today's Guardian, Kasrils makes a forceful case for the boycott. On the same page, two zionists argue against the boycott citing the old chestnuts of harming those it seeks to help, singling out Israel and of course, they say, it's anti-semitic. Anyway, the sad thing is that, in spite of the clear similarities between Israel now and South Africa in the apartheid era (yes I know Israel's based on expulsion whereas South African apartheid was based on exploitation - it's the principle stupid!) Ronnie Kasrils has to issue a disclaimer that he is writing in a personal capacity. And why so? Because South Africa has precious trade arrangements with Israel. Unbelievable huh? Israel does not simply have an apartheid state structure, it was South Africa's chief, sometimes its only, ally. Israel broke the arms embargo against South Africa, goods made in South Africa were often labelled "Made in Israel" to subvert the boycott of South African goods, there was co-operation in the nuclear weapons sphere and of course there was the vile and cynical visit of John Vorster (the late South African PM) to Yad Vashem during a one week trip to Israel during which he met with the great and the good of the Israeli government and opposition. Humanity's great champion, Shimon Peres, together with other zionist leftists like Chaim Herzog and David Ben Gurion had already visited the nazi collaborator, Vorster, in South Africa. I remember a pamphlet, back in the eighties, called Israel-South Africa: a strategic alliance. That was an over-simplification; Israel's relationship with the other apartheid state was ideological, not simply strategic.

May 24, 2005

War criminal opposes boycott, shock!

Shimon Peres's name topped the list of several Nobel prize laureates today in a letter to the Guardian today opposing the AUT boycott of two Israeli universities. The only other two names I recognised were Elie Wiesel and Betty Williams. George Monbiot said that "satire died on the day Henry Kissinger received the Nobel peace prize". I'd say it's been resurrected by this letter:
There is nothing more intrinsic to the academic spirit than the free exchange of ideas. Academic freedom has never been the property of a few and must not be manipulated by them. Therefore, mixing science with politics, and limiting academic freedom by boycotts, is wrong.

We, scholars from various disciplines who have devoted our academic lives to the advancement of humankind [priceless! the butcher of Qana is a scholar now.], express our unequivocal support for the separation of science from politics. The Nobel prizes we were honoured to receive were granted without the slightest consideration of nationality, ethnicity, religion or gender. Any deviation from this principle should not be allowed.

Supporting a boycott will undermine these principles. It is our hope that academic reasoning will overcome political rhetoric.
I would be wondering why the Guardian publishes such self-serving tosh but they did publish a couple of decent letters too. Like this one
One fact omitted from the anti-boycott advert in the Guardian (May 20) is that the boycott by the Association of University Teachers (AUT) of Bar-Ilan University is based on its support for Ariel College, an exclusively Jewish settlement constructed on illegally seized land in the occupied West Bank. Bar-Ilan supervises degree programmes at Ariel. The AUT resolution, which we hope is upheld this week, states that a boycott of Bar-Ilan should persist "until it severs all academic links" with Ariel. As the Israeli commentator Tom Segev pointed out in Ha'aretz, the boycott hurts only "those Israelis who support the perpetuation of the Israeli presence in the occupied territories".

We call on the British government and the EU to fall in line with the principled stance of the AUT. States must ensure that no Israeli institution that contributes to the violations of international law inherent in the land seizures and construction of illegal settlements in the Israeli-occupied Palestin ian territories should qualify for any government or EU-sponsored assistance.
This too was signed by lots of people. And then there was this
It is not AUT members supporting the boycott that remind me of the foe that the "people of Britain" triumphed over 60 years ago (to quote the anti-boycott ad) but the Israeli state with its repeated armed incursions into occupied land, destruction of houses and construction of a wall to exclude those of the wrong race or religion. The AUT should stand firm.
Andy North
Birmingham NUT executive.
before giving the last word to zionists thus:
Sue Blackwell, of Birmingham University, asserts that: "Israel is an apartheid state. It has many parallels with South Africa and the (academic) boycott campaign models itself on the campaign against South Africa."

As expat South Africans, some of us intimately involved in the anti-apartheid struggle, we reject this parallel. Israel may adopt policies with which we disagree, but the institutions of social democratic Israel do not bear comparison with the authoritarian and racist structures of apartheid South Africa. To equate this with Israel distorts the historical record.

We would wish to support those in Palestine and Israel who are seeking to forge dialogue, and we cannot see that an academic boycott would enhance that process.
This last one I find quite disturbing. Israel retains 92% of its surface area for Jews only, it bans non-Jewish refugees from returning to their land and it invites colonial settlers from around the world. Assuming that these "anti-apartheid" activists are Jews then it seems that they are like those Jews who supported Martin Luther King whilst supporting Israel as ardently as anyone could. They opposed segregation in America but supported in Palestine. Israel Shahak had this to say about such people
Surely one is driven to the hypothesis that quite a few of Martin Luther King's rabbinical supporters were either anti-Black racists who supported him for tactical reasons of 'Jewish interest' (wishing to win Black support for American Jewry and for Israel's policies) or were accomplished hypocrites, to the point of schizophrenia, capable of passing very rapidly from a hidden enjoyment of rabid racism to a proclaimed attachment to an anti-racist struggle - and back - and back again.
How else does one explain this?

May 23, 2005

Pinkos really do oppose the boycott

This is what the more cynical members of the anti-boycott camp are saying. Well the Pink'un does anyway. Here's a wonderfully one-sided article from the Financial Times on the likely overturning of the boycott resolution at the AUT's special conference on Thursday. There are a couple of sops to balance but the general tenor is decidedly anti-boycott and pro-Israel
Academic boycott of Israeli universities likely to be overturned
By Jon Boone

The supporters of a controversial boycott of two Israeli universities have accepted that the measure is likely to be overturned at a special meeting of Britain's biggest university lecturers' union later this week.

Sue Blackwell, an academic at the University of Birmingham who attracted worldwide condemnation [and worldwide support]for leading calls to cut academic links with the universities of Bar-Ilan and Haifa, said she expected the boycott to be rescinded on Thursday by the Association of University Teachers.

"I think a stitch-up is quite likely. It looks like the meeting is going to be packed with people who never usually bother to come to conference because of the campaign that has been waged against us," she said.

Members of the AUT voted at their annual conference in Eastbourne last month to boycott the two universities for their alleged [alleged?]complicity in human rights abuses.

Haifa University was accused of restricting the academic freedom of staff who are critical of the Israeli government, and Bar-Ilan University was boycotted for its links to a college in the disputed settlement of Ariel.[disputed? I thought was illegally occupied and illegally settled by the population, well Jewish population anyway, of the occupying power]

Haifa has started defamation proceedings against the union over the allegations.
Anti-boycott activists hope they will overturn the original motion, which they say was not properly debated and did not represent the balance of views of the whole [new] membership.

Even if the policy is overturned, supporters of the boycott say the campaign has encouraged more British academics to shun joint scientific projects in Israel than ever before.[now that is true]

"The boycott is there, active and expanding," said Professor Steven Rose, a professor of biology at the Open University. "Because of the campaign it has become a much more high-profile issue and academics will not be able to ignore the treatment of Palestinians when they do joint-projects with Israelis.

"[Israel] is very strong in areas such as neuro-science, genetics and stem cell research so British scientists will lose out. But the people who will lose out most are the Israelis because they value links with Europe so highly."

Opponents said the boycott would have little effect on research, but was an unacceptable attack on academic freedom. David Hirsh, a lecturer at Goldsmiths College and one of the co-ordinators of the campaign to overturn the boycott, said Israel was being "unfairly demonised".

He said: "The logic of their position is that Israel is an illegitimate state and that Jewish nationalism is unlike that of any other nationalism. I think that is essentially an anti-Semitic position and there is a risk of Jews working and studying at British universities being unfairly painted as racist if they do not describe themselves as anti-Zionists." [this might apply to Israelis generally but definitely not to Jews in general]

Dr Blackwell said she was offended by the suggestion that the boycott was in some way motivated by anti-Semitism, and said she had a track record of fighting all forms of racism.
I have to hand to Sue Blackwell, she's been very courageous. She has been personally vilified in all of the mainstream media now and no one wants to be accused of anti-semitism. And I agree with her, the passing of the boycott resolution in the first place will have a lasting impact with many no seeing a)Israel as an apartheid state and b) the zionist movement marshalling its forces to overcome what was a democratically taken decision. The zionists are getting clumsy in their arrogance. They're still going on about Ken Livingstone believing that having the mainstream media on their side represents a victory. Wrong again.

Israel: British doctors killed Tom Hurndall

According to today's Guardian, Jocelyn Hurndall has accused the Israeli army of lying about and covering the circumstances surrounding the killing of her son by an Israeli soldier.
"From the start it was a tremendous shock that we were not dealing with authorities who were adamant about getting to the truth," she said.

"You can only conclude that the command colluded in the soldier's original lies, and colluded in it for weeks until they couldn't sustain it any more."

Mrs Hurndall's comments came amid renewed accusations that the military leadership has created a climate of impunity for soldiers who kill civilians.

Last week, a military court sentenced a soldier who shot dead a Palestinian man as he adjusted the television aerial on his roof to 20 months in prison. Last month, the army dropped charges against a soldier who shot dead a British journalist, James Miller, in the Gaza strip.
Tom Hurndall had been in persistent vegetative state for nine months when he died of pneumonia in a London hospital. The defence in the rare trial has argued that British doctors gave him to much morphine.

May 22, 2005

Check out Montages

I don't do much in the way of blog promotion but I just linked (below) to an article by the author of the blog, Critical Montages. Well worth a look at.

Tatchell crosses the line

A friend of mine told me that Peter Tatchell was again at the Free Palestine demo yesterday. Apparently he was with a group of about thirty people (with a police escort) bearing placards saying "Stop the Honour Killings". The expression "honour killings" is usually used to refer to domestic murders of women deemed unworthy. It's used by western Orientalists to suggest that there is something worse about this than the two women killed by men every week in the UK. So why is Tatchell using the expression to condemn the killing of gays in Palestine? And why does he see fit to demonstrate against Palestinians at a Free Palestine rally? When he first invade the demo last year he bore a placard with the inane slogan "Israel stop persecuting Palestine - Palestine stop persecuting queers". Now by conflating homophobia in the third world with extreme domestic violence, and putting as orientalist a spin on it as he could think of, he's crossed the line from seeking to embarrass Palestinian officialdom to full-blown anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia.

I haven't found any on line reports of this latest, er, outrage, but here's an article on the previous one.

Ingrams on George

Here's Richard Ingrams's take on George Galloway on the Hill. I have just received a text message from a friend in Ohio, saying that she has joined Respect following George Galloway's demolition job in Congress. Now, note the fact that "two of America's most prestigious papers, the Washington Post and the New York Times," failed to report the proceedings.

George and the dragon

Galloway's knack of making smug Americans mad is his star quality

Richard Ingrams
Sunday May 22, 2005
The Observer

When George Galloway wrote his autobiography the publishers asked me for a quote to put on the cover which hopefully would help to boost sales. My submission ran as follows: 'George Galloway is awful - but I like him!'

For some reason, however, it failed to find favour and was not used. Yet it seemed to be the response of many people last week who up till then had failed to warm to the newly-elected member for Bethnal Green and Bow. Whatever their doubts and misgivings, they could not conceal their delight in the way the MP had flown to Washington and berated a group of smug-looking senators sitting in judgment on him.

Journalists like myself will also have relished his description of our own Bush-supporting hack, Mr Christopher Hitchens, described, accurately, by the MP as a 'drink-sodden former Trotskyite popinjay'.

The general satisfaction here perhaps had less to do with whether or not people supported the invasion of Iraq and more simply to do with seeing pompous Americans made to look foolish. Because when it comes to pomposity there is nothing to beat a pompous American, and if anything their journalists are even more pompous than their politicians.

Thus it was noted that Galloway's telling remark that, contrary to what was alleged, he had met Saddam Hussein no more often than Donald Rumsfeld (who had actually sold him weapons), this was not reported the following day in two of America's most prestigious papers, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Why ever not? The only possible explanation would be that they considered it disrespectful towards a distinguished American statesman.

May 21, 2005

Academic intifada update

Bittersweet news from the Free Palestine demonstration today. Sue Blackwell said that she expects the boycott motion to be lost at the special meeting of the AUT on Thursday 26/5/2005, though she pointed out, as I did in an earlier post, that many gains have already been made. Many people will have heard for the first time that Israel is an apartheid state based on ethnic cleansing, colonial settlement and relentless aggression, many people will see for themselves the power of the zionist movement and now a new expression has passed into the political lexicon of the left: the academic initifada. Already ENGAGE, the anti-boycott blog, is crowing that
Thursday will be a victory for the authentic left over the posturing left

David Hirsh
Goldsmiths College

Without Engage’s efforts, AUT would still have an effectively racist policy, [effectively, not actually, racist. This is an echo of the anti-divestment from Israel campaign in America which was denounced as being anti-semitic in effect if not in intent, so at this point, the author is not accusing the pro-boycott camp of racism, but read on]would be haemorrhaging members at a perhaps fatal rate and would be regarded as a racist union in the UK and worldwide by many people. So AUT activists should be pleased that Engage has rescued our union.[ok then, let's ignore the fact that it was AUT activists who supported the boycott] Over the last few weeks we have been the strongest AUT loyalists around.[mobilising non- and even anti-union people to join up to get an apartheid state off the hook of public disapproval]

There are two pernicious sentiments hanging around AUT at the moment. [hmm, sentiments? How do we recognise sentiments?]One is that all the Jews came out of the woodwork because their ‘communal’ interest was threatened - they don’t really care about the union or about their colleagues - only about their own interest.[all the Jews? Who said this? And which anti-zionist sees zionism as a Jewish communal interest? Didn't a predominantly Jewish audience recently vote in favour of a motion in a debate titled Zionism today is the real enemy of the Jews? Leaving the wilful dishonesty to one side, see now how the author has slipped from using the term "effectively racist" to accusing the boycott's supporters of denouncing Jews as Jews - without naming anybody of course]

The other pernicious sentiment hanging around is that we (we Jews? we Engage?) pretend to be outraged by Israel’s racist treatment of the Palestinians but we really don’t care; we are just some sort of ‘Zionist Front’ (Jewish Front? Board of Deputies Front?) organisation. We are not serious about supporting Palestinians, we have no record of supporting Palestinians and we will not support Palestinians in the future.[I don't think anyone who supports the boycott is suggesting that "we Jews" have no history of support for the Palestinians. "We Jews" have a fine tradition of support for the Palestinians and all pro-boycott activists know so and say so. So who does the author mean? To suggest that Engage has no history of support for the Palestinians is probably a fair comment since I don't think it has much of a history period.]

Firstly, neither of these sentiments are actually based on fact. [which gives them something in common with David Hirsh's allegations] While it is true that some Jewish AUT members were motivated to join with Engage and to attend their own special branch meetings, it is also true that many more non-Jewish members were activated either because they are genuine anti-racists, [who support Israel!] or because they believe in academic freedom or because they believed that their union had been plunged into crisis. The campaign against the boycott has not been a communalist campaign, it has been an anti-racist, and pro-union campaign.[conducted with support from non-unionists and Likudniks]

The victory at next week’s Special Council will be a victory for the authentic left against the posturing left. It will be a victory for those who stand up for Palestinian rights and who stand against the Sharon regime [then why is it supported by Sharon's ambassador to London?] - and it will be a victory for those who do so without allowing themselves to be polluted by the ’socialism of fools’ - antisemitism.[there! he's said it. The dreaded A-word. The word that strikes terror into the hearts of all of us who are offended by ethnic cleansing and segregation. The word that has been so overused of late that it's losing all meaning. Melanie Phillips and Rod Liddle have even said that anti-capitalism is displaced anti-semitism. But this guy's a leftist, says he. But now he has moved from saying "effectively racist" to accusing the pro-boycott camp of anti-semitism. No "effectively" there then.]

Secondly, even if it were true that Jews had come out to defend themselves as Jews from their own union’s antisemitic policy - what would be suspect or unusual about that?[how about the fact that Jews aren't being attacked in the union? Also the author has now come dangerously close to making the generalised allegation of communalism among Jews that he has falsely accused the pro-boycott camp of doing]

If I wanted to detail the track record of support for Palestinians and for the Israeli peace movement represented by each contributor to Engage I could do. [Even though no one's asked him to] Most of us have been involved for many years in arguing and fighting against the racist policies of Israeli governments; many of us have been working in support of the refusenik movements. Many of us have proud records of supporting Palestinian rights and Palestinian national aspirations. Many of us are involved in academic projects and research that links with this record. And the boycott, after all, is a policy designed not for activists but for people who seek some kind of tokenistic way to feel that they are doing something to help.[so it's the pro-boycott camp that has no history of support for the Palestinians nor any intention of doing anything in the future? I should say here that there are anti-occupation campaigners who oppose the boycott, but they don't as a rule call the pro-boycott camp anti-semitic because it's a smear, nothing more. And this is where the sincerity of this particular writer is suspect]

But the point is not our record or our future plans. The point is the validity of what we argue. Opposing a racist policy in AUT does not commit those oppositionists to spending the rest of their lives doing Palestine Solidarity work in order to prove that they have the right to speak. AUT should make and facilitate links with Palestinian and Israeli academics; AUT should help and encourage Palestinians and Israelis who are fighting against the occupation, for freedom and for academic freedom. [it does] Individual Jews in the UK do not have any particular responsibility to do this [who says we do? I know there are many people in the media demanding that Muslims condemn any or every act of terrorism or resistance but who is telling Jews to denounce zionism or the occupation?] – any more than anyone else does – and any more than they have a particular responsibility to oppose China’s occupation of Tibet or Russia’s occupation of Chechnya.

The central point on this, however, is that supporting Palestinians without saying anything about Israeli rights is one sided and counter-productive. The anti-Zionists who (through ignorance) [ignorance of what?] flirt with antisemitism [how so?] do damage to the cause of Palestinian liberation and to the cause of peace in the Middle East. [decades of appeasement of the racist war criminals of Israel has seen a growth in religious extremism on both sides but to consider both the most powerful state in the middle east and a stateless people in terms of "six of one and half a dozen of the other" is as dishonest a stance as one could adopt, but clearly appeasement has been a failure...a deliberate failure]
Anyway, it goes on for a little bit more and the author is quite proud of his work. To me, it reads like a Melanie Phillips diatribe, but if there's one honest thing about Mad Mel, she doesn't claim to be a leftist.

No Pride in Jerusalem

The World Pride event that was going to take place in Jerusalem this year has been postponed on account of the "disengagement". That's curious because the "disengagement" has been postponed as well. I read in the Jewish Chronicle that the organisers' reasoning is that policing the event would be too difficult because of the police required to deal with anti-"disengagement" activists.

George Galloway, the movie

If you didn't see the live coverage of George Galloway's confrontation with the self-styled "world's greatest deliberative body," here's the link to the movie itself. It's 47 minutes long and well worth a look and listen.

Harry on George

Letter from Harry Cohen MP on George Galloway's "splendid and brave presentation to the Senate". Looks badly cut to me but here it is:
Congratulations to George Galloway on his splendid and brave presentation to the Senate. As well as stoutly defending himself, he vigorously exposed the bankrupt, murderous and thieving consequences of the sanctions, war and post-war policy toward Iraq. I do not agree with the implied assumption in your leader (May 18) that his peroration did not matter much.

I am sure that if he had not achieved such success, some of my more feeble-minded parliamentary Labour colleagues would have been referring him to the parliamentary commissioner for standards to get him suspended and subsequently thrown out of parliament. They would have been prompted and encouraged by the whips, who prior in the process would have been prompted by Downing Street.

There are a lot of examples of frivolous complaints to the commissioner against opposition politicians that the commissioner himself has complained about. So it was important that George won. Now the speaker can fulfil his promise to fully protect the rights of backbenchers, including George
Harry Cohen MP
Lab, Leyton and Wanstead

Free Palestine - today!

Demo at Trafalgar Square:

21 May 2005

Assemble 1pm Embankment, outside the station, on Victoria Embankment

Rally in Trafalgar Square with music, stalls and speakers: (among others)

Sharif Omar (Regional coordinator for Qalqilya Stop the Wall campaign)
Amneh Badran (Jerusalem Centre for Women)
Husam Zomlot (Palestinian General Delegation to UK)
Paul Mackney (NATFHE president)
Billy Hayes (CWU general secretary)
Sue Blackwell ( BRICUP - British Committee for Universities of Palestine)
Charley Pottins (European Jews for a Just Peace)
Dr Azzam Tamimi (Muslim Association of Britain)
Stuart Hemsley (Pax Christi)

Followed by Palestinian music by Shadia Mansour and Band Traditional Dabke dance from the Palestinian Folklore Art Group for Freedom and an exceptional Jazz4Peace live concert:

Organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Supported by: Muslim Association of Britain, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Stop the War Coalition, Friends of Al Aqsa, War on Want, National Union of Teachers, Trade Union Friends of Palestine, Palestinian Forum in Britain

May 19, 2005

Galloway admits to sanction busting

I intend to round up the week's media coverage of George Galloway's appearance at the US Congress on the weekend but I saw the man himself tonight at the Friends Meeting House in London so I'm using this to put down a reminder to myself. When he arrived he received a rapturous standing ovation that literally brought tears to his eyes. He was the top of a bill of high profile speakers from Respect. When he spoke he made his dramatic confession to sanction busting whilst in Washington. He admitted that, while in Washington, he smoked a Havana. cigar and blew Cuban smoke at the White House. So there we have it, guilty as charged.

May 16, 2005

Single party Sedgefield

Letter to the Guardian.

Some of the most rotten aspects of New Labour are embedded in the Sedgefield Labour party. Reg Keys's vote was significant in its own right, but the stance on the doorstep that people were voting for Labour but not for Blair was widespread. The campaign merits detailed analysis. Many people dared not display window posters for Reg Keys for fear of losing their jobs, while it was almost impossible to acquire suitable committee rooms, despite an abundance of empty property, and printers declined election work, despite having the capacity. Union reps feared their members would be punished if they assisted Reg's campaign. The result is a widespread perception of a Sedgefield one-party state and party membership has steadily declined.
Bob Clay
Agent for Reg Keys

May 15, 2005

Oona King on the Today Programme

Quite a lot has been written about the easy time Oona King was given to denounce Respect and many of her former constituents on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme. You can listen to the whole thing via the link in the headline above. Leaving aside the fact that it is almost inheard of for a losing candidate (even an incumbent) to be interviewed at length by any broadcaster, the most remarkable thing about the interview was the planning of it; it was a freestanding edited programme in its own right. Each of her comments came after cuts from other broadcasts like the start of George Galloway's speech, Galloway's denunciation of the Returning Officer and even Jeremy Paxman playing the race card against the gorgeous one. I should point out that Oona herself felt insulted by Paxman use of her blackness to undermine Galloway. Imagine how Galloway must have felt! Other notable features of the interview were the lack of any challenges to King. She said that she was calling for war on Iraq from 1999. Which other wars has she called for? No one asked her. She said the Bangladeshi press said that she wanted to ban halal meat. She wasn't asked to name a newspaper or writer. At one point she seemed to suggest that whilst she was accustomed to anti-Black racism, she found anti-semitism particularly disturbing. Why should that be? And who was she accusing? Again she wasn't asked.

This might be a good time to welcome Oona to the establishment but she's a light weight, she's got no chance except maybe in carefully edited broadcasting. Even full-blown establishment insiders face challenging questions on the Today Programme. John Humphrys is always throwing Jack Straw on to the ropes but he can take it. I don't think Oona King could take it. My abiding memory of her was when she stood up to speak when Parliament was recalled to honour the Queen mum on her death. This is from Hansard
Ms Oona King (Bethnal Green and Bow): I speak in this debate to represent the people of the east end who, as the whole country knows, held the Queen Mother in great affection. I shall speak not about what the Queen Mother inherited or passed on, but what the Queen Mother merited. She merited respect, and nowhere is that respect greater than in my constituency—land of the pearly kings and queens who were inspired by the sparkling monarch who picked her way through the rubble.

As I drove to Parliament this morning, I passed the plaque at the bottom of my road that reads:
here fell the first flying bomb on London.
Sixty thousand British civilians died during the war, 30,000 of them in east London. Indeed, the first early-day motion I ever tabled was on a memorial for civilians who died during that war. Earlier, the Prime Minister quoted the Queen Mother saying of the east end carnage:
the destruction is so awful, and the people so wonderful, they deserve a better world.
The Queen Mother inspired the east end during the blitz. One eastender recalls that
There was still an air raid on when she walked through the rubble. I always thought the world of her. She doesn't sit back pompous-like. I remember her putting her arm around people covered in blood and grime, and consoling them. I feel she knows what our lives were like.
As my neighbour Mary Isaacs said:
She came down Bow road slowly, and oh what a lovely smile.
As another cockney woman put it
Ain't she lovely! Oh ain't she just bloody lovely![I remember Oona using her best Dick van Dyke accent for that quote]
The century the Queen Mother spanned has closed. She was the last Empress. Although the world in which she was born and in which she moved has vanished, the characteristics with which she is associated endure, and we in the east end give thanks for them.
Fair brung a tear to me eye.

May 14, 2005

Boycott, by royal disappointment

There's a bizarre front page on the Jewish Chronicle this week. Headed Boycott shocks Prince Philip a fairly lengthy article on the AUT boycott of two Israeli universities contains just the following paragraphs on Prince Philip's alleged reaction to the boycott.
Prince Philip has described himself "shocked to the core" at the boycott of Israeli universities by Britain’s leading academic union.

News of the royal disapproval emerged this week as one of the universities targeted turned the screw on the Association of University Teachers by threatening libel action through a top London law firm.

Prince Philip's reaction came at a private dinner at the Archbishop of Canterbury's official residence in London last week. It was conveyed in a conversation with a British-born Jewish studies professor from Israel, Rabbi Daniel Sperber.

Professor Sperber revealed the remarks to the JC this week. A Buckingham Palace official said he could not comment on a "private" conversation."
It shouldn't surprise too many people that the Prince, who is as famous for racist remarks as he is for being married to that Elizabeth woman, is a supporter of Israel.

May 13, 2005

Galloway beyond the pale?

Curiously insightful comment by the ever repentant Roy Greenslade.
In quick succession since his election victory last week in Bethnal Green and Bow, Galloway has been subjected to a television mauling by Jeremy Paxman, a radio sandbagging by the MP he defeated and a raft of newspaper headlines about a set of reheated allegations which he has not only strenuously denied but which ended with him winning a major libel action.
What seems to have triggered Greenslade's article is the rehashing of the old allegations of "oil-for-Galloway" and the way they have been handled by the media.
In spite of Galloway's court victory and the accumulated evidence in his favour, the BBC saw fit to lead its news bulletins yesterday with the story of supposedly "new" accusations that he received money from Saddam Hussein's Iraq through its oil-for-food programme. Yet the only difference between the claims made against Galloway by the Daily Telegraph in April 2003 and a US Senate subcommittee this week was that they were based on (already published) documents allegedly retrieved from Iraq's oil ministry rather than its foreign ministry - and not, as wrongly claimed, that they covered different periods.

In all other essentials, the allegations made by the Senate committee are the same as those originally outlined in the Telegraph articles that resulted in Galloway being awarded £150,000 in libel damages and £1.2m in costs, though an appeal against the high court ruling in his favour is still outstanding.

During the case Galloway successfully rebutted every point in the Telegraph story that led its journalists to conclude that he had profited from Saddam's government. So it's hardly any wonder that Galloway has found himself repeating his former denials.
He ends with a nice swipe at Oona King
Naturally, when she did lose, King was devastated, as were many other unseated MPs. But, unlike them, she was given a lengthy slot on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this week to air her grievances in what was a strikingly tame interview - no balancing material was offered - allowing her to vent her spleen about the nature of a "dirty" campaign and insinuating that Galloway's Respect party had been responsible for her suffering anti-semitic slurs.

A Respect spokesman described the claims as ludicrous and a smear. But I saw it differently. The nature of the King interview, in which she was not challenged with anything like that programme's normal robustness, was further evidence of the way Galloway is now regarded within the media. He is simply not being given a fair crack of the whip.

Campaign Group for Academic Freedom?

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, a zionist organisation, (the zionist organisation that led the charge against Ken Livingstone that you may have heard about) has formed an anti-boycott group called the Campaign Group for Academic Freedom (CGAF).
its remit will be to coordinate activity within and beyond the Jewish community in order to overturn the AUT decision.

In taking this step the Board has consulted with major communal organisations, those Israeli Universities named in the AUT resolution and those academics involved in opposing the boycott at grass-roots level.
Here's an email from the group doing the rounds:
Dear Sir / Madam,

I am writing to you from the Campaign Group for Academic Freedom which has been inundated by requests for information from AUT members around the country about the location and timing of emergency AUT meetings that have been called in advance of the extraordinary meeting of the AUT council to be held in London on 26th May 2005.

I am making this contact on their behalf in order to avoid local associations from being swamped with enquiries as I realise that you will be exceptionally busy at this time.

It would be a great help if you could forward details of any special local association meeting that you will be holding before the 18th May and whether or not non-members or outside speakers will be permitted to attend. I will then pass this on.

Many thanks for your assistance,

Phil Stone
Campaign Group for Academic Freedom
Obviously, given the influence of the zionist movement and the depth of ignorance about Israel's colonial settler nature (even in academia) there is a deal of gloom among some boycott campaigners. This is misplaced. Even if the boycott is overturned many people will still know exactly why it was instituted and other boycotts could kick in or grow, eg, sport, culture and goods. Also, the fact that, at first, some zionists resigned from the AUT and now zionists are calling on non- and indeed anti-union people to join, shows the zionist movement in a rare state of disarray. Reasons to be cheerful, no?

May 12, 2005

The growing case against Dershowitz

Many thanks to Roland for sending me this link to an article by Samar Elatrash titled, Alan Dershowitz's Amazing Wonderland. It's good fun to read the whole thing so I know I won't be spoiling it by cutting straight to the end here:
Circumambulate Dershowitz’s Wonderland, and you will arrive to Finkelstein’s conclusion: Dershowitz is "constitutionally incapable of saying anything that is true. I think that if a true word actually came out of him, he would implode.”

Actually that is almost true. In his memoirs, you will discover a nugget of truth spoken by Dershowitz the advocate for Israel:

"Almost all my clients have been guilty."
So spake Israel's defender.

Back not forward: Brown's unapologetic apologetics

Here's an article by Seumas Milne in Le Monde diplomatique. aimed, possibly, at those who are naive enough to believe that Gordon Brown would make a significant difference to Blair.
BARELY a generation after the ignominious end of the British empire, there is now a quiet but concerted drive to rehabilitate it, by influential newspapers, conservative academics, and at the highest level of govern­ment. Just how successful this campaign has already been was demonstrated in January when Gordon Brown, chancellor of the exchequer and Tony Blair’s heir apparent, declared in east Africa that "the days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over" (1). His remark, pointedly made to the Daily Mail - which is leading the rehabilitation chorus - in the run-up to May’s general election, was clearly no heat-induced gaffe.
Now read on....

May 10, 2005

Zionists want their 51 documents back

Well maybe they don't want them back but the Board of Deputies of British Jews (as one British zionist organisation likes to style itself) is trying to persuade Amazon to issue a health warning to the effect that Lenni Brenner's "51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis" is "dangerous and controversial". Needless to say, the BoD doesn't say what the danger or the controversy is. The Jewish News likens the campaign against Lenni Brenner's factual. book to a similar campaign over the anti-semitic forgery, The Protocols.
Last year, following a request from the Board, Amazon posted a message on their web page for the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to make the anti-Semitic nature of the notorious forgery clear.

Stressing that Amazon did not endorse the Protocols, the note added: "This book is one of the most infamous, and tragically influential, examples of racist propaganda ever written."

The Board wants a similar warning to accompany "51 Documents". A Board spokesman said: "We have urged Amazon to acknowledge on the site that this book is of a dangerous and controversial nature.

"Currently Amazon has shown an appreciation of our concerns and we are looking at ways of ensuring such texts will not be bought by those who unwittingly believe them to be accurate accounts of history."
I wonder what sources the Board wants people to read on zionist/nazi collaboration. Perhaps they've got a reading list.

Iraq, not race or sex, lost King her seat

Here are two letters to the Independent supporting George Galloway:
Sir: Respect MP George Galloway has received much criticism for deposing one of the few black women MPs. This is a nonsense argument. I am a black Afro-Caribbean male who was born and bred in Hackney and stood for Respect in the Hackney South and Shoreditch constituency. There were no cries of outrage that New Labour were standing a white middle-class woman, the Blair babe Meg Hillier, against a local working-class black man in such an ethnically diverse constituency.

Political commentators should stop patronising the voters in Bethnal Green and Bow and write something interesting, like a report on why Respect's policies against the war, against privatisation and against racism are finding an echo among many people who used to look to Old Labour. As well as winning in Bethnal Green and Bow, Respect came second in three other constituencies, just 18 months after its formation. This demands some serious analysis, not tedious mud slinging.



Sir: Following George Galloway's victory (and more pertinently, Oona King's defeat) I found comments by Tony Banks (and many others) patronising, insulting and highly offensive to us British-Bangladeshis/ Muslims.

Contrary to the shameful excuses they were making for her, we did not vote against Ms King because she was a woman, or because she was black, or because she was Jewish. She was all those things when we voted for her in 1997 and 2001. We voted her out this time because she did not listen to us on Iraq. If she had done her job and represented her constituents she would still be our MP. Simple.

And here's a cut from Jeremy Paxman's cross-examination of Galloway for the impartial BBC:
JP: We're joined now from his count in Bethnal Green and Bow by George Galloway. Mr Galloway, are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in Parliament?
GG: What a preposterous question. I know it's very late in the night, but wouldn't you be better starting by congratulating me for one of the most sensational election results in modern history?
JP: Are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in Parliament?
GG: I'm not - Jeremy - move on to your next question.
JP: You're not answering that one?
GG: No because I don't believe that people get elected because of the colour of their skin. I believe people get elected because of their record and because of their policies. So move on to your next question.
JP: Are you proud -
GG: Because I've got a lot of people who want to speak to me.
JP: - You -
GG: If you ask that question again, I'm going, I warn you now.
JP: Don't try and threaten me Mr Galloway, please.
GG: You're the one who's trying to badger me.
JP: I'm not trying to badger you, I'm merely trying to ask if you're proud at having driven out of Parliament one of the very few black women there, a woman you accuse of having on her conscience 100,000 people.
GG: Oh well there's no doubt about that one. There's absolutely no doubt that all those New Labour MPs who voted for Mr Blair and Mr Bush's war have on their hands the blood of 100,000 people in Iraq, many of them British soldiers, many of them American soldiers, most of them Iraqis and that's a more important issue than the colour of her skin.
JP: Absolutely, because you then went on to say "including a lot of women who had blacker faces than her"
GG: Absolutely right, absolutely right. So don't try and tell me I should feel guilty about one of the most sensational election results in modern electoral history.
JP: I put it to you Mr Galloway that Nick Raynsford had you to a T when he said you were a "demagogue".
GG: Sorry?
JP: Nick Raynsford. You know who I mean? Nick Raynsford. Labour MP?
GG: No, I don't know who you mean.
JP: Never heard of him.
GG: I've never heard of Nick Raynsford, no.
JP: What else haven't you heard of?
GG: Well, I've been in Parliament a long time...
JP: He was a Parliamentary colleague of yours until very recently.
GG: Well, most of them just blend one into the other, Jeremy, they're largely a spineless, a supine bunch.
JP: Have you ever heard of Tony Banks?
GG: Yes I have, yes.
JP: Right, Tony Banks was sitting here five minutes ago, and he said that you were behaving inexcusably, that you had deliberately chosen to go to that part of London and to exploit the latent racial tensions there.
GG: You are actually conducting one of the most - even by your standards - one of the most absurd interviews I have ever participated in. I have just won an election. Can you find it within yourself to recognise that fact? To recognise the fact that the people of Bethnal Green and Bow chose me this evening. Why are you insulting them?
JP: I'm not insulting them, I'm not insulting you
GG: You are insulting them, they chose me just a few minutes ago. Can't you find it within yourself even to congratulate me on this victory?
JP: Congratulations, Mr Galloway.
GG: Thank you very much indeed. [Waves, removes microphone]
Curiously the BBC website cuts the bit where Paxman refers to people (ie himself) not agreeing with Galloway.

May 08, 2005

Call for Paxman's dismissal

From yesterday's Guardian:
Jeremy Paxman's insulting treatment of George Galloway MP on BBC TV in the early hours of the election results programme should result in his immediate dismissal. He not only insulted the victor of Bethnal Green and Bow (Galloway victory a blow for Labour, May 6) by insisting on asking in his first question whether Galloway was proud of defeating a black female MP, he also insulted the 15,801 who voted for Galloway. He also insulted Respect candidates wherever they stood, including neighbouring constituencies where the party gained second places, and Salma Yaqoob's outstanding 10,498 second place in Birmingham Sparkbrook.
Alan Tucker
Solihull, W Mids
And this:
After Oona King's defeat, I found comments by Tony Banks and others patronising and insulting to us British-Bangladeshis/Muslims. Contrary to the pathetic excuses they were making for her, we did not vote against Ms King because she was a woman, or because she was black, or Jewish. She was all those things when we voted for her in 1997 and 2001. We voted her out because she did not listen to us on Iraq. If she had done her job and represented her constituents (rather than pursue her personal ambitions by following Blair) she would still be our MP. Simple.
Suber Akther
And finally this:
Whatever one's view is on Iraq, all agree - even anti-war protesters - that Saddam Hussein was an evil man. He should be bracketed with dictators as Hitler and Stalin for crimes against humanity. However, we now have a British MP who bestowed praise on him. I'm thankful I don't live in George Galloway's constituency.
Michael Perry
Baildon, W Yorks

May 07, 2005

If you weren't up for King...

Click the link in the headline for links to the BBC's film clips of Oona King being ousted, Galloway being "interviewed" by Jeremy Paxman and of a jubilant Galloway being carried along Brick Lane by his supporters.

I have to say that Paxman was a disgrace. He started by asking the stupidest question he could think of which was if Galloway was proud of having unseated one of the very few black women MPs. Galloway warned Paxman that he would terminate the interview if Paxman kept asking the same stupid question. Paxman lifted a quote from Galloway out of context to the effect that Iraqi women with blacker skins than Oona King had been killed thanks, in part, to her vote for war. Paxman omitted to say that this was in response to Galloway's detractors suggesting that he shouldn't be challenging a black woman MP. Finally, Galloway indicated that he had had enough of the interview and Paxman said something about Galloway refusing to talk to people who disagree with him. I didn't know it was Jeremy Paxman's job to lift quotes out of context to undermine his interviewees and to disagree with them. I think we should be told what it is about Respect and George Galloway that Jeremy Paxman doesn't agree with and whether he should be allowed to give vent to his own political partiality under the cover of the supposedly impartial BBC.

Galloway defeated New Labour, not Oona King

Here's a slightly sneery article on Galloway's election victory on Thursday. Lenin, over at the tomb is in good cheer regarding much of the election. Me, I found it a bit of a damp squib except for the Galloway result. But look how the Guardian and the BBC are trying to belittle what was a great success for the anti-war movement:
Mr Galloway has been criticised for ruthlessly targeting a seat with a high Muslim vote rather than hitting out at Mr Blair in his Sedgefield constituency.
This is a seat with a large number of anti-war voters and one that had a pro-war MP. The only other places for anti-war voters to go was to the Lib Dems (who seem to have supported the war once it was on and support the occupation now) or the Greens whose sectarianim has mean that little has been heard from them througout the campaign. Anyway, look how Jeremy Paxman chose to address Galloway:
in a morning confrontation with Jeremy Paxman...[George Galloway] repeatedly refused to say whether he was "proud" of having unseated one of the few black women MPs.

Eventually, he said: "All those New Labour MPs who voted for Mr Blair and Mr Bush's war have on their hands the blood of 100,000 people in Iraq, many of them British soldiers, many of them American soldiers, most of them Iraqis.

"That is a more important issue than the colour of her skin. So don't try and tell me I should feel guilty about one of the most sensational election results in modern electoral history."

He accused Mr Paxman of "insulting" his new constituents by ignoring the result.

"They chose me. Can't you find it within yourself even to congratulate me?" he asked, before terminating the interview.
Paxman has widened the net of allegations against Galloway from focused anti-semitism to a more generalised racism. Paxman seems not to have noticed that his own belittling of the Muslim communities of Bethnal Green and Bow has more than a whiff of racism to it. Paxman should also note that the litigious George Galloway received increased damages from the Telegraph group when the Telgraph's barrister falsely accused him of anti-semitism.

May 06, 2005

Galloway wins Bethnal Green and Bow

George Galloway has won Bethnal Green and Bow, ousting Oona King, presumably on account of her support for the war on Iraq. With Labour's reduced majority this was probably their worst result of the election. Sadly, in Sedgefield, Reg Keys only managed a little over 10%. Even if all the other oppositionists dropped out, Blair would have still won with over 58% of the votes cast.

May 05, 2005

AUT Special Council Meeting on the boycott

I just saw this on a zionist blog
Following the receipt of a request from 25 members of council, notice is given that a special meeting of AUT council will be held on Thursday 26 May 2005 in central London.

The sole business of this special council meeting will be to have a full debate on proposals to boycott Israeli universities.

Details of how to register delegates for this meeting will be sent to local associations shorty.

Submission of motions by local associations

Motions for this council meeting should be received at Egmont House by 12 noon on Wednesday 18 May. Motions will be circulated to local associations as soon as is practical after that deadline. The deadline for amendments to those motions will be 5pm on Monday 23 May.

The council agenda committee will meet prior to the special council meeting and their report will be circulated to delegates on their arrival at the meeting.

Motions should be approved by a local association general meeting or in accordance with another provision set out in a local association’s local rules. A copy of the form for the purpose of submitting council motions is included in circular LA7629.

Alternatively, motions can be submitted by e-mail to Catherine Wilkinson from the contact e-mail address that is held by head office for the local association secretary. E-mails should state that the motion was passed at a quorate general meeting, and the date of that meeting (as shown on the attached form for submitting motions by post).

Receipt of all motions will be acknowledged; if you do not receive an acknowledgement before the deadline, please contact Catherine Wilkinson at head office.
Here's what an anti-boycott blog ENGAGE says
We need every academic to become an AUT activist, at least for the next 4 weeks. If you are not a member of AUT, please join, if you are eligible. Engage will help people who oppose the boycotts in each university to find each other and to begin the local campaigns. If you want Engage to link you up with other opponents of the boycotts in your university, please email Jon Pike at And keep watching the Engage website for the latest news, for tips on campaigning and for model motions for the Conference.
What I find odd about this website is that it accepts comments for most things but comments are "closed" on this one. Why doesn't ENGAGE want discussion of this issue? And look at the pitch to non-union members. I'm all for recruitment to the union but not for a once-off project.

AIPAC spy to appear before judge

From the Guardian:
A Pentagon analyst was arrested by the FBI yesterday on charges of passing classified information to the main pro-Israel lobby in Washington.(the America Israel Public Affairs Committee)

Larry Franklin, a Farsi-speaking Iran specialist at the Defence Intelligence Agency, surrendered to the FBI yesterday and was expected to appear before a judge in Virginia.

Blair didn't lie, shock

The Guardian has a profound and important leader today. It says that Tony Blair didn't lie. That is, he didn't say that he had watched Jackie Milburn play for Newscastle back in the 1950s when he couldn't possibly have done. So that's alright then. And the weapons of mass destruction?

May 04, 2005

Iraqi-Brits on the election

Here's a letter on Iraq and the election from "British citizens of Iraqi origin."
In the welter of headlines on Tony Blair's honesty, the consequences of the decision to go to war could be lost. Whether deplying a pack of lies or a bundle of sincerity, Blair and his New Labour MPs took Britain to war in line with a strategic outlook; to back the US in a unipolar world. They were cheered on by the anti-Europe brigades of Rupert Murdoch, Michael Howard and most Tory MPs.

As British citizens of Iraqi origin, we are daily reminded by friends and relatives in Iraq of the war's consequences: over 100,000 civilians killed, vast areas contaminated by depleted uranium shells, prisoners tortured, historic sites and libraries destroyed, and gangsters and terrorists allowed to wreak havoc.

Most British people opposed to the war, but without rejecting the Blair-Howard axis of pro-war candidates on Thursday, Britain will continue to be implicated in the Iraq war crimes and will inevitably be dragged deeper into a wider US-led war.
Sami Ramadani, Dr Kamil Mahdi, Haifa Zangana, Prof Kamal Majid, Tahrir Numan, Sabah Jawad
But Blair said that we won't be invading Iran and he wouldn't lie, would he?

May 03, 2005

So what is napalm-like?

Consider this letter in yesterday's Guardian by Ann Clywd MP.
Haifa Zangana (Comment, April 22) accuses the multinational forces in Iraq of using a "modern form of napalm" against the people of Falluja, "a crime that has been met with silence not just by Tony Blair but also by Ann Clwyd, his human rights envoy". In fact I raised the allegations with Foreign Office minister Elizabeth Symons, who told me in her February reply that "the reports are completely without foundation. Coalition forces have not used napalm - either during operations in Falluja, or at any other time." It's a pity Zangana ignores those Iraqis working with great courage to rebuild the country after the horrors of Saddam.
Ann Clwyd
Prime minister's special envoy on human rights in Iraq
Then consider these responses:
I am astonished by Ann Clywd's naivety (Letters, May 2).The Americans admitted in August 2003 that they used a "napalm-like substance" in Iraq. The denial she received, referring to "napalm", is obfuscation typical of this government. "New improved napalm" is based on kerosene rather than petrol, though I doubt it makes significant difference to its victims.
Nigel Smith

The US state department website says "mark-77 firebombs, which have a similar effect to napalm, were used ... in 2003", and white phosphorus shells were exploded over Falluja in 2004 ( Index/Illegal_Weapons_in_ Fallujah.html.) This does not sound much more human-rights friendly than napalm.
Sadakat Kadri
In other words, she was lying.

May 02, 2005

Outrage over Orla

I've just read in Jewish News (a mostly London based free paper) that Orla Guerin has been awarded an MBE for services to journalism. She's by no means an anti-zionist but zionists hate her. Her biggest crime against them was that she wondered out loud as to what the Israelis were trying to achieve by parading a child with special needs in front of the world's media in just his underwear. The Guardian showed the picture of the boy with his hands in the air on its front page at the time. I remember thinking that the boy must have been set up by the Israelis because, whilst some Palestinian armed groups have not been averse to using youngsters to carry out suicide attacks, this boy had learning difficulties and couldn't possibly be relied on to carry out the mission. Anyway, Orla Guerin was accused of anti-semitism by the world's leading authority on the subject, Nathan Sharansky. The report in Jewish News demonstrates something extremely unpleasant in the Jewish community nowadays. Here's lawyer Trevor Asserson who heads "BBC Watch":
The impression I have is that no one is more detested by the Jewish community than Orla Guerin. In that respect her achievement is outstanding.
Detested by the Jewish community? Sheesh! I know I was irritated when she reported a suicide bombing close to what she called Ariel Sharon's house in Jerusalem without troubling to mention that "his" house is in occupied territory, but I wouldn't say I detested her.