November 30, 2005

Judaising the Negev

Here's Donald McIntyre in the Independent:
The 3,000 or so residents of Bir al Mshash are distinctly unmoved by the prospect of Israeli elections next March. The villagers, who like all their fellow Bedouin in the Negev desert are Israeli citizens, many of whom serve in the Israeli army, normally vote Labour. "I don't want to vote for any party now," says Ibrahim Abu Speyt, 48. "I want to boycott the elections."

The reason isn't hard to find. Two weeks ago, a 50-year-old problem came to a head for Bir al Mshash. Israeli police and ministry of interior officials arrived to put formal notices on 12 houses slated for demolition in what the villagers believe is the first of a multi-stage operation in which they will be moved off the land they regard as having been theirs since Ottoman times.
So why are they being moved?
much of the Negev has long been earmarked for development for and by Jewish immigrants; more than 40 years ago the Israeli military leader and politician Moshe Dayan summed up with clarity the "sharp transition" he envisaged: "We must turn the Bedouin into urban labourers ... It means that the Bedouin will no longer live on his land with his flocks but will become an urbanite who comes home in the afternoon and puts his slippers on. His children will get used to a father who wears pants, without a dagger, and who does not pick out their nits in public. They will go to school, their hair combed and parted. This will be a revolution, but it can be achieved in two generations. Not by coercion but with direction from the state. This reality that is known as the Bedouin will disappear."
Ah, but Moshe Dayan is dead now. The zionists are crowing that Israel has moved to the left. This ethnic cleansing of Israelis. shows how far Israel has moved to the left.

Arab MKs less equal than others

Here's an article in Ha'aretz from a couple of days ago demonstrating that the presence of Arab members in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) does not make Israel the democracy that zionists make it out to be.
According to the logic that has been guiding attorneys general (Elyakim Rubinstein and Menachem Mazuz) for several years now, Arab MKs are not allowed to do what journalists, arms dealers and exporters are allowed to do - namely, maintain contact with "an enemy country." At present, MK Azmi Bishara is being tried for visiting Syria and Lebanon, and making declarations considered to be incitement there, according to the prosecution. Moreover, Mazuz is considering filing an indictment for "entry to an enemy country" against MK Ahmed Tibi, and inviting MK Taleb al-Sana, who recently visited Damascus, to a police investigation.
So much for democracy but what about peace?
A country that claims that it is pursuing peace not only should not punish such activity, but should welcome it and encourage any contact among the nations. The attorney general and the Shin Bet should stop the campaign against the Arab MKs, cancel the lawsuit against Azmi Bishara, and refrain in the future from indicting any MK who travels in similar circumstances, in the context of fulfilling his public mission.
It's lucky that Israel now has a centrist Prime Minister.

November 29, 2005

Hilary and the littler town of Bethlehem

Just Peace is a quirky list. It tolerates zionism and anti-semitism and bans people for swearing. Even Engage's Linda Grant has been posting there recently and Gilad Atzmon has support there. But some decent people hang in there and there are some posts that make it worth being in the loop. This is an excerpt from a letter from a Bethlehemite to US presidential hopeful, Hilary Clinton, following her recent photo opportunity at the apartheid wall:
I was surprised last week when I saw your picture in Ha'aretz (November 15, 2005), which was taken near the Wall, just outside of our town. I know that many Palestinians would have loved to welcome you in their homes in Bethlehem, but you did not come to visit us. Perhaps you simply did not have time to stop by and greet us, the people who would be the other half of any agreement which would allow Israel to live in security and peace. Or perhaps while you had Bethlehem in the background of the publicity photos, you had certain of your constituents in New York in the forefront of your mind. In one month s time you will be singing O Little Town of Bethlehem. I wonder how you will sing it this year, having declared your support for transforming our little town into a big, open-air prison, leaving no green space for our children to play or our olive trees to grow?
Of course by the time Hilary sings her carols the little town will have got a bit littler.

Back! says Forward

The one time Bundist, now fairly zionist Jewish newspaper Forward has an article by Martin van Creveld not simply arguing for, but arguing for the inevitability of, a hasty US retreat from Iraq whilst, at the same time arguing that a complete withdrawal from the region is impossible. Van Creveld is quite an expert on military matters and, as Forward notes, he is the only non-American to feature on the American army's reading lists for its officers. I know that comparisons of Iraq with Vietnam are obvious and rather cliché now but van Creveld puts it well and doesn't have much quarrel with US imperialism as such. That doesn't make his argument more valid but anti-imperialists would compare the Iraq war to Vietnam because they would want a) America not to invade in the first place, and b) if America did invade they would want them to lose. so the guy's got no axe to grind here.
Confronted by a demoralized army on the battlefield and by growing opposition at home, in 1969 the Nixon administration started withdrawing most of its troops in order to facilitate what it called the "Vietnamization" of the country. The rest of America's forces were pulled out after Secretary of State Henry Kissinger negotiated a "peace settlement" with Hanoi. As the troops withdrew, they left most of their equipment to the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam — which just two years later, after the fall of Saigon, lost all of it to the communists.

Clearly this is not a pleasant model to follow, but no other alternative appears in sight.
It's a remarkable article and it goes into a lot of detail about how difficult the essential withdrawal will be, right down to the fact that if the retreat is too hasty much costly, too costly, equipment will fall into the hands of the resistance.
simply abandoning equipment or handing it over to the Iraqis, as was done in Vietnam, is simply not an option. And even if it were, the new Iraqi army is by all accounts much weaker, less skilled, less cohesive and less loyal to its government than even the South Vietnamese army was. For all intents and purposes, Washington might just as well hand over its weapons directly to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Ok, that's enough cuts on the war itself. Let's skip to the end:
For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins.
Ahh, I love a happy ending.

Tip: JS Narins

November 28, 2005

The cycle of non-violence

The DVD for the Cycle of Peace, a bike ride from Europe to Jerusalem, has been available since 1/10/2004 but it is now to receive a public screening.

Monday 5th December 2005 7.00pm
The Old Cinema, 309 Regent Street, London W1
(Nearest tube: Oxford Circus)
Tickets: £5

Narrated by acclaimed actress Julie Christie, this feature length film follows the amazing story of the "Peace Cycle".

In the summer of 2004, twenty five cyclists of various nationalities and faiths embarked on an epic 2,700 mile bike ride from London to Jerusalem in the name of justice and peace.

The film captures the emotional six week journey through 44 major cities in Europe and the West Bank – from the torrential thunderstorms in France and over the daunting Alps, across the length of Italy and the scorched hills of Greece, through the blistering heat of the Jordan valley and finally an astonishing reception by the Palestinian people!
For more information contact

BBC's balancing act

Here's a letter to the Guardian denouncing the disciplining of Barbara Plett by the BBC.
The decision to maintain the disciplinary proceedures against Barbara Plett and even to go as far as to establish a commission of inquiry into the way the BBC covers the Palestine question (BBC bias complaint upheld, November 26) is one of many manifestations of the grotesque phase we have all reached in this troublsome part of the world.

Had it not been for Ms Plett's balanced and informative reports, it would have been difficult to distinguish between the BBC coverage of the occupied territories and that of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority. Ms Platt admirably tried for many months to "balance" a simple imbalanced reality: of Israeli occupation and Palestinian victimisation. The atrocities on the ground - the killing of children and women and the blowing up of houses - warranted an emotional response as it is, and it was only natural that once, and only once, this would show in her reports (as many BBC reporters allowed themselves a show of emotion when reporting the deaths of George Best or Princess Diana). Only outside pressure could have produced such an ill-thought procedure and action.

As for the inquiry commission, one can save taxpayers' money. The cable companies in Israel come now and then under official pressure for allowing free access to international TV news stations. They would like to remove CNN and al-Jazeera. There are no complaints in Israel about Fox news (representing the US neoconservative point of view) and the BBC. The BBC is indeed a pro-Israeli news agency and is going to remain so if its directors silence the professional reporting of Barbara Plett.
Ilan Pappe
Tivon, Israel
There's another letter "balancing" out the first but I don't want to reproduce it here. You'll have to go here. If you want to know what all the fuss about Plett was for then go here or if you want to see more about the BBC's grovelling to the racist war criminals of Israel then go here.

November 27, 2005

See more of Lenin on Hitchens

My mate Lenin (he of the Tomb) has just had a withering denunciation of the late Christopher Hitchens published in the Monthly Review. Here's how it starts:
Picture a necrotic, sinister, burned-out wasteland -- a vast, dull mound of rubble punctuated by moments of bleak emptiness and, occasionally, smoking. Those of you whose imaginations alighted instantly on the Late Christopher Hitchens have only yourselves to blame, for I was referring to Fallujah.
And here's how it finishes: .
The sort of degraded, hallucinatory nonsense that this poetaster of genocide exudes these days ought not to be exposed to daylight, never mind offered up as intellectual sustenance for a class of powerful men. Hitchens can't change, of course, and he will just have to live with the thought of what a hideous figure he has become. Or, more probably, die with it, perhaps suffocating on the impacted faecal matter that is perpetually welling up inside him. Let's just say that when that tumescent cadaver finally explodes, the left should be grateful to think of what new friends he will surprise.
And the intervening 5,221 words are worth a read too.


I just nicked this post to the Just Peace list.
Interesting that Sharon's new party Kadima means "forward" in Hebrew.
In Arabic Kadima means "old" and in colloquial Palestinian the word "Kadima" is commonly used to describe an old joke. Coming back from Jordan last week, the general feeling, also reflected in the Arabic press, is that Sharon's new party and political games will result in no change or, if anything, a change to the worse. A summary of such feelings is in a recent cartoon by the leading Arab cartoonist Hajjaj.
This of course represents a counter-argument against what appears to be a concerted drive in the UK media to portray Sharon as a born-again peacemaker.

November 24, 2005

Al-Jazeera: don't bomb us blog

Thanks to Mohamed for pointing me in the direction of the Don't bomb us blog, run by al-Jazeera staffers.
Al Jazeera staff have organised a symbolic gathering outside their offices both in Doha and around the world on Thursday 24th of November 2005 at 2pm Doha time (GMT+3).

We will be demanding that the truth aboutDaily Mirror report to be revealed and that the Britsh and American governments set the record straight about the revelation made in the paper. If you haven't heard yet, President Bush discussed bombing Al Jazeera's Headquarters in Doha.

Check back for pictures and updates.

Yes do that. Check back for pictures and updates.

Plan to bomb al-Jazeera officially denied

So Bush really was going to bomb al-Jazeera. A comment below said how al-Jazeera had reported the bomb plan in quite neutral terms. I think this response from John G (Game, I think) deserves more prominence:
I don't think it's surprising that Al-Jazeera carried the story in a neutral way. It's true that if, for example, CNN, were to be targetted in this way, they would get pretty frenzied. Thats because everyone would know that if something like this was exposed, it wouldn't happen again. That's not the case for Arab journalists. The US has been killing reporting staff from Al Jazeera for years now (as well as getting its allies to trump up charges against them and have them locked up) and the extent of global concern has been restricted to a few peripheral documentries late at night.

Of course if US public opinion moves (which it is in the process of doing of course) there might be a change. For the moment however Al Jazeera know that they are targets and they don't want more of their staff murdered. Hence the neutral careful reporting.

Thats the world we live in. Thats what the President of the United States and his vice President of torture represent in the world today. If you're an Arab journalist and you disagree they kill you. If you're a western journalist they just go through your tax returns. The North-South divide.
The Guardian seems to be pursuing this story more than other UK papers, on its front page and in its editorial column.

November 23, 2005

Bush planned to bomb al-Jazeera

According to the Guardian, George Bush planned to bomb the offices of al-Jazeera in Doha, Qatar. The issue is shrouded in mystery now because a memo purporting to contain details of the plan has now been declared an official secret and two people who are said to have handled and passed on the document have been charged under the official secrets act and the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, has threatened editors with prosecution if they publish the document.
Under the front-page headline "Bush plot to bomb his ally", the Daily Mirror reported that the US president last year planned to attack the Arabic television station al-Jazeera, which has its headquarters in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where US and British bombers were based.
The most detail I could find on this is in the South African Dispatch online.
In April 2003, an al-Jazeera journalist died when its Baghdad office was struck during a US bombing campaign. Nabil Khoury, a US State Department spokesperson said the strike was a mistake.

In November 2002, al-Jazeera's office in Kabul, Afghanistan, was destroyed by a US missile. None of the crew was at the office at the time. US officials said they believed the target was a terrorist site and did not know it was Al-Jazeera's office.

Peter Kilfoyle, former defence minister in Blair's government, called for the document to be made public. "I think they ought to clarify what exactly happened on this occasion," he said.

"If it was the case that President Bush wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in what is after all a friendly country, it speaks volumes and it raises questions about subsequent attacks that took place on the press that wasn't embedded with coalition forces."
Enduring freedom indeed.

November 22, 2005

Beyond Chutzpah in bullet points

Matthew Abraham has very helpfully reduce Norman Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah to bullet points here:
these elements in the Holocaust Industry’s juggling act are identified...:

* The Holocaust uniqueness thesis, which states that Nazi genocide and the death of six million Jews cannot be compared to other mass slaughters. This sacralization of the Holocaust, with the “never again” mantra morphing into “if ever again; not us alone” mentality, allows Israel to function as a “crazy state” (a term of art within the international relations literature suggesting how Israel can blackmail the international community with promises of cataclysmic violence if crossed or denied military or diplomatic support) as the only country in the region possessing the nuclear weapons capable of destroying the region and most of the world;

* Zionism equal Judaism. In fact, Zionism suppressed diversity of expression among Jews in the wake of the Holocaust;

* Anti-Semitism is irrational and eternal—consequently there can never be a justifiable expression of animus toward Zionist Jews, no matter how reprehensible are Israeli actions;

* Zionist Jews can not be condemned because everything Jews do, according to philo-Semitic doctrine, is beyond reproach;

* To reproach Zionist Jews in their support of Israel is to traffic in anti-Semitic stereotypes;

* Israel, as the homeland of the Jewish people (although many Jews refuse to allow Israel to speak in their name), is always justified in what it does—no matter how horrific the consequences may be for others;

* Israel is a democracy even though its right of return only applies to Jews and is governed by racist landholding laws;

* Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and until recently, Gaza, were justified by security measures and apparent biblical warrant—despite being in contravention of international law, particularly U.N. Resolution 242, which requires Israel to withdraw to the June 1967 Green Line, along with minor territorial adjustments;

* Despite the uniform judgments of human rights organizations that Israel employs torture against Palestinian detainees, uses illegal detention, and the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes in occupied territory, Israel’s apologists undermine international law because it does not conform to Israel’s or the United States’ wishes for the Middle East region;

* Israel can be described as a model democracy because it maintains respect for the rule of law which no other country facing similar threats has.
The book's still worth reading in full.

November 21, 2005

Ariel Sharon in the middle of the road

Ariel Sharon is quitting the Likud party to found new "centrist" party. According to Ha'aretz:
Likud officials said the new party would be a "true centrist party, from every perspective: political, economic and social."
Sharon the centrist? Wonderful!

November 20, 2005

Rare fair comment on the boycott "debate"

Here's a report in the Education Guardian on the boycott debate in Birmingham between David Hirsh and Ilan Pappe. I'm guessing it's more trustworthy than the Engage site on the same thing. Here Gargi Bhattacharyya sets the scene
The academic boycott has been controversial to say the least - and the debate has been deeply felt, acrimonious and, occasionally, bordering on the threatening. In Birmingham, a significant proportion of the audience appeared to have come to voice their opposition to Pappe himself, as opposed to the boycott or any other issue. Another smaller group, including myself, came with serious suspicions about the project of Engage. Although both speakers presented thoughtful if controversial accounts of their positions, I am not so sure that the audience felt that we were engaged in a debate.
And on the debate itself:
Hirsch stated clearly that he opposed the occupation of Palestine and supported the rights of Palestinians - but that he did not agree with the tactic of boycott, which he considered to be counterproductive and playing into the hands of anti-semites. Pappe spoke of the atrocities against Palestinians that he had witnessed and the reasons why he believed that only the pressure of international sanctions could change opinion in Israel.

However, although it would seem that there was some common ground politically between these two positions, the discussion from the floor was not about how best to support Palestinians. A large number of contributions attacked Ilan Pappe for suggesting that Palestinians were suffering and needing support - because, it was alleged, this was a one-sided and violent view. Pro-Palestinian speakers felt they had to answer the allegation of anti-semitism - understandably, as that was how the debate was set up. One member of the audience expressed his regret that the discussion could not be conducted in a manner more in keeping with the dialogic traditions of Judaic scholarship. I clapped him - but not many others did.
I just don't think debate with supporters of a triad of moral and political impairments, ie, Israel with its colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws is possible. They lie, they distort and they attack individuals. That's it. The discussion needs to be on how to expose Israel for what it is and how to establish boycotts as a means of isolating Israel.

UPDATE: I have to hand it to David Hirsh for posting Brian Robinson's report on the Birmingam debate.
At the very end, after Pappe's really quite brilliant - and emotionally highly appropriate, no dry ivory tower detached academic he - summing up (he spoke last) I'd felt he'd been given such an unfair time of it that I stood up from my seat in the 5th row and shouted out "Bravo Ilan"!) ... I went up to the platform afterwards - cos I've corresponded with both of them on and off for some time. I told David Hirsh that I thought these were appallingly difficult human problems, reminding both him and Ilan how difficult I'd found it to make up my mind on the concept of boycotting academia, but having thought a lot more about it, I was now definitely on Pappe's side ... He laughed and said that I'd be back in his camp in 2 months. But I really don't think he's right. I don't like being harrangued, I don't like false accusations of antisemitism (they act as smokescreen apologetics, they're exaggerated opportunistically, they're counterproductive) and I don't like ad hominem slurs.
But please read the whole piece in full. Go here and scroll down.

Ann Clwyd making it up?

Lenin's Tomb has a good post on Ann Clwyd's propensity for making it up as she goes along on the occupation of Iraq. Examples are torture, napalm (or new improved napalm I should say), conditions in Abu Ghraib, etc. She also makes the most outrageously racist claim to explain human rights abuses in Iraq and how they can be stopped.
We have been trying to train the Iraqis in human rights. We’ve set up conferences for the Iraqis on human rights with all the NGOs. We’ve been trying our very best to get human rights into the Iraqi psyche. We want to help them I think.
She thinks? She's not sure. But anyway, have a look at the Tomb, especially the first comment where a guy doesn't see what's so racist about requiring British occupation forces to drum human rights into the "Iraqi psyche".

Rabbi rebukes religious right

I think that's called alliteration. According to Yahoo news, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, which Yahoo describes as the largest branch of American Judaism, has taken a swipe at the religious, presumably Christian, right in America. At one point in a speech to an audience of 5,000, Rabbi Yoffie compared the religious right to the nazis, particularly with regard to their anti-gay hatred.
"We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations," Yoffie said. "Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry."
It's nice that anyone would come out against the increasing Christianisation of the American state but this is the second time, that I know of, that a Jewish American leader has come out against the conflation of religion and politics in America whilst refraining from criticising the Judaisation of Palestine. I've had a quick read about Rabbi Yoffie and he seems to be a bit anti-occupation but he happily describes Israel as a democracy in a way in which he would never describe America if America was subject to the same kind of rule that Palestine, ok Israel, now is.

November 19, 2005

David Aaronovitch, neither zionist nor Islamophobe?

Last week in the Jewish Chronicle (subscription only), David Aaronovitch denied being either a zionist or an Islamophobe. Amazing huh? How could could he deny either of those things with all that we know of his writing rubbishing anti-zionists and Muslims and broadly supporting, not simply Israsel's "right" to exist but also its right to deny the Palestinians the right to return? I'll post his article here in due course and then we'll see that he can deny being a zionist by running with two narrow dictionary definitions of the word "zionism" which he claims not to subscribe to. In the meantime here's a response to Aaronovitch's denial in this week's JC.
David Aaronovitch (JC, November 11) denies being Islamophobic and asserts that our organisation consists of “idiots” who have never read his work. Actually, we’ve been avid readers for years. For instance, back in 2003 Mr Aaronovitch cited the example of Muslim women in hijab as people who engender “my greatest feelings of discomfort” (Guardian, June 17, 2003).

There were more than undertones of Islamophobia in his opposition to the socialist-Muslim anti-war alliance. He calls anti-war campaigner and Muslim convert Yvonne Ridley “the woman who liked the burka so much she bought the religion,” sarcastically stereotyping the whole religion with practices enforced by the Taliban (Guardian, June 5, 2004).

Mr Aaronovitch’s anti-Islamic prejudice can be demonstrated by contrasting his response to the Iranian earthquake with his reaction to the New Orleans hurricane. He asserts that the American authorities are probably doing lots that the media can’t see and the disaster “only tells us how vulnerable we are” (Times, September 3, 2005) — whereas the Bam earthquake tells us how incompetent and corrupt the Iranians are (Guardian, December 30, 2003).

We agree with Mr Aaronovitch that “what I have said and written speaks for itself.” Need we go on?

Catherine Hossain,
Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK
More later, or more likely, tomorrow.

November 17, 2005

It's Wednesday, there must be an anti-semitism inquiry

There have been loads of reports on anti-semitism in the last few years. This is how the Guardian reports this latest inquiry in the UK parliament:
MPs yesterday launched an all-party inquiry into anti-semitism amid fears that incidents have reached record levels.
Actually the police disputed the idea of a rise to that level, saying that the figure had been fairly constant but that the Community Security Trust had not maintained the figures as accurately as the police had in the years prior to 2004. Then we have to consider the fact that anti-zionist slogans are considered anti-semitic by zionists and we might also like to consider the fact that Ken Livingstone's run in with Olver Finegold of the Evening Standard will have been recorded as an anti-semitic incident. Actually we will also have to bear in mind that both Rod Liddle and Melanie Philips have both gone on record to say that anti-capitalism is displaced anti-semitism.

So with this ever-widening definition of anti-semitism, our MPs should be quite busy for a while.
The committee requires written submissions by December 30. A report will be published next spring.
I shouldn't prejudge but I bet the report is complete nonsense.

Guardian retracts lies about Chomsky

The Guardian has withdrawn an almost complete pack of lies it ran about an interview with Noam Chomsky. I'm not Chomsky's biggest fan I have to say so when the net started buzzing about how he had been misrepresented by the Guardian I didn't take much notice. But someone sent me the Guardian's correction (or is it a clarification?) today and it's quite extraordinary. It seems to accuse Emma Brockes of deliberate falsehood.
Principal among these was a statement by Ms Brockes that in referring to atrocities committed at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war he had placed the word "massacre" in quotation marks. This suggested, particularly when taken with other comments by Ms Brockes, that Prof Chomsky considered the word inappropriate or that he had denied that there had been a massacre. Prof Chomsky has been obliged to point out that he has never said or believed any such thing. The Guardian has no evidence whatsoever to the contrary and retracts the statement with an unreserved apology to Prof Chomsky.
Now then, now then, but look it gets worse:
The headline used on the interview, about which Prof Chomsky also complained, added to the misleading impression given by the treatment of the word massacre. It read: Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated? A: My only regret is that I didn't do it strongly enough.

No question in that form was put to Prof Chomsky

Now here's a tricky bit:
Ms Brockes's misrepresentation of Prof Chomsky's views on Srebrenica stemmed from her misunderstanding of his support for Ms Johnstone. Neither Prof Chomsky nor Ms Johnstone have ever denied the fact of the massacre.
So hang on a sec. She misunderstood Ms Johnstone and Chomsky's support for Johnstone and felt that what she believed of Chomsky and Johnstone gave her carte blanche to fake interview questions and answers.

And here's another tricky bit:
Prof Chomsky has also objected to the juxtaposition of a letter from him, published two days after the interview appeared, with a letter from a survivor of Omarska. While he has every sympathy with the writer, Prof Chomsky believes that publication was designed to undermine his position, and addressed a part of the interview which was false.
Well the Guardian has now removed the interview from the Guardian Unlimited website but not the two letters, though it no longer juxtaposes them. It also still carries an article by Norman Johnson that draws quite heavily on the Brockes "interview", that's as in, it was so not an interview.

November 16, 2005

Ilan Pappe in London

Meeting tonight at University of London (ULU)
Palestine Israel; Peace or Apartheid?

Wednesday 16 November 2005, 5:30pm

Room 101, University of London Union Malet Street London


Dr Ilan Pappe, University of Haifa (in a personal capacity)

Betty Hunter, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK


Dr Nur Masalha, University of Surrey

Organised by BRICUP and PSC

Dr Pappe and Dr Masalha are two of the world’s most prolific historians of Palestine-Israel: between them they have authored and edited over 25 books (in English, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish and Italian).

Dr Pappe’s books include: Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-51 (1988); Jordan in the Middle East (1994); The Making of the Arab-Israel Conflict, 1947-51 (1994); The Israel/Palestine Question (Rewriting Histories) (1999); A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (2004).

Dr Masalha’s books include: Expulsion of the Palestinians (1992); Is Israel the State of All its Citizens and Refugees? (1993); A Land Without a People (1997); Imperial Israel and the Palestinians (2000); The Politics of Denial (2003); Catastrophe Remembered: Palestine, Israel and the Internal Refugees, Essays in Memory of Edward W. Said (2005).
Please note the disclaimer by Pappe's name.

November 15, 2005

In praise of Arafat

Unlike the tributes to Yitzhak Rabin, there's been comparatively little in the media about the anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat. Here's an article on the man and the myth by Karma Nabulsi in the Guardian.

Regarding the myth, Nabulsi feels that only the negative aspects took root.
The myth instead gave rise to Ariel Sharon, as the Israeli public felt only a Sharon could deal with that mythical monster Arafat. It gave the neoconservative hawks in the US administration the opportunity to redesign the Middle East in harmony with the views of their ally Israel, and for the British government to absolve themselves from doing anything whatsoever. Instead they watched, some cheering, while a democratically elected leader was imprisoned for years and slowly killed, without apparently feeling any moral queasiness or shame. This myth made all that possible. Arafat the obstacle.
She believes that a positive myth will replace the negative one:
What of the alternative myth of Arafat - the one that will eventually triumph in the history books? The one that will include just a fraction of the epic stories about him that most Palestinians grew up with? Arafat, for all his flaws and mistakes, stood for a just peace, based on a historic compromise. He believed in international law, in a two-state solution based on implementing UN resolution 242, and for a just settlement for refugees, the main victims of this conflict. His legitimacy came from more than the fact that he was democratically elected: he performed a historic purpose in the life of Palestinians, a purpose as yet unfulfilled. By representing his people's general will and collective spirit, he symbolised the absent state's sovereign institutions.
Ha'aretz reports that the Palestinians are seeking a UN inquiry into Arafat's death, arguing that he was poisoned by Israel.

November 14, 2005

Where Rabin lies, Clinton lies

Accrding to a Guardian editorial, former American president, Bill Clinton, has used the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Yitshak Rabin's death to dig up the old chestnut of Ehud Barak's generous offer. Then, to its credit, the editorial goes half-way to criticising this position:
Clinton's version of this story is not new or incontrovertible, as other participants have argued that Israel's offer at Camp David in 2000 was neither as generous or as final has been painted. But then there is Arafat's response to Sharon's subsequent provocation: a second intifada that destroyed Oslo in a bloody welter of Palestinian suicide bombings and "targeted killings" by Israel. Yet this blame game works both ways: why does the US refuse to pressure Israel, even for its own good? Does Israel really expect to be able to maintain its biggest settlements in the West Bank, isolate Jerusalem and reduce a future Palestinian state to unviable and disconnected Bantustans?
Not only that, it is refuted by Barak himself.
On the eve of his departure for the summit, Barak announced five "Red Lines", which he would not cross under any circumstances. Among them: Israeli sovereignty over the entire city of Jerusalem, No return to the 1967 border, Keeping 80% of the settlers were they are, No return of a single� refugee to Israel. Afterwards he softened some of these stands, but not enough to come anywhere near an agreement.
Anyway the Guardian then goes and spoils it by invoking Dennis Ross, a former CEO of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Bill Clinton's, hardly impartial, special envoy to the "peace" process, thus:
And Dennis Ross, a veteran American negotiator, is right to say that Washington needs to do more. Condoleezza Rice has not yet managed to correct the impression that George Bush will always acquiesce in whatever new facts Sharon has created on the ground.
Now Bill Clinton could have used this occasion simply to praise his chaver, Rabin, in general terms, but he chose to lie for Barak instead. It doesn't bode well for any change in direction of American Middle East policy any time soon.

November 13, 2005

Israelis boycott Starbucks

A rare piece of good news from Israel. Apparently Starbucks is struggling to break even in west Jerusalem because of the competition from east Jerusalem. Something like that anyway. Here's the Independent's Donald Macintyre:
It says something about the stubbornness of Jerusalem's coffee drinkers that Starbucks has, not for want of trying, totally failed to penetrate the city. Howard Schulz, chairman of that most global of companies, is well known for his passionately pro-Israel views. But this has cut no ice with Israelis in Jewish West Jerusalem. In the past 15 years or so - after a long, bleak period when Nescafé and a muddy concoction that constituted the Israeli version of Turkish coffee were all that was available - the city has spawned an excellent home-grown espresso bar culture. In a short stretch of Emek Refaim, the main street of the German colony, there are half a dozen first-rate cafés, each with its own distinctive character. Clients frequently spend the entire morning there working on their laptops. One, Aroma, is even open on Saturdays, when it is always packed. (My favourite in East Jerusalem is the elegant El Dorado, which gives you a chocolate with your Arabic coffee or espresso and where the orange juice is always freshly squeezed.) Who needs Starbucks?
Who needs Starbucks indeed?

November 11, 2005


I have just learned from the Gush Shalom site, quoted on the Just Peace UK list, that Peretz is Hebrew for breakthrough.

Giving the lad a chance

I was probably a bit harsh on Amir Peretz simply because he made a few nice noises about Rabin. Here are a couple of comments I received that deserve a bit more prominence than they get tucked away in haloscan.

Dave G (rendered daveg on Haloscan)
His focus on the "peace thing" this is very interesting, and refreshing.
And Hulkagaard quoting the Jerusalem Post:
But Peretz's image was not only due to his background. Over the years, he had become a divisive figure. His outspoken views were a factor, not only on matters such as minimum wages and privatization, but also on security issues. He positioned himself at the most radical edge of Labor, supporting a Palestinian state 20 years ago, when it was still a dirty word.

20 years ago -- not bad.
And I suppose his proposed "disengagement" from Sharon's government is still more cause for a little optimism.

November 10, 2005

Mizrahi revolution?

Well probably not but the Israeli media likes to talk these things up. Thanks to David Shasha for mailing out the two press cuttings on the accession of Amir Peretz to the Labour leadership. I've linked here in case they fall off the net.

Here's Yediot Ahranot in an article headed A Moroccan to head Labor?:
The truth must told: Our Ashkenazi brothers in the Labor Party can't stomach the thought that a dark-skinned Moroccan, with a thick mustache to boot, could possibly lead the party.
Isn't it wonderful that a mainstream, right of centre Israeli paper, can be so in tune with the issue that is racism within Israeli Jewish society?

But don't expect much to change. Here's Ha'aretz:
The new Labor chairman emphasized this move is a direct continuation of Rabin's political heritage: "I came today to make a vow to Rabin, once again, that I intend to do everything I can to continue his way, I intend to do everything I can so that [Rabin's] assassin would know he failed to murder peace."
Uh oh. Cue the third intifada.

Round up the usual suspects and Blair will still lose

Well finally Blair has lost a whipped Commons vote and by a bigger marging than could be accounted for by "the usual suspects". This is from the Guardian:
In the biggest reverse for a government on a whipped vote since James Callaghan's administration, Mr Blair was defeated comprehensively by 322 to 291, with 49 Labour backbenchers, including 11 former ministers, defying a three-line whip. Thirteen others abstained
Even the Unioists, hardly noted for taking a principled stand against repression, deserted Tony Blair:
Mr Blair's position weakened during the day when he discovered that the nine Democratic Unionist MPs were going to vote against the government, angry at a separate bill published yesterday giving an amnesty for terrorist on the run in Northern Ireland. The forecast revolt of Conservative dissidents evaporated, leaving Mr Blair hoping that his basic appeal to loyalty would save him. But the rebellion spread beyond the usual suspects.
A couple of years ago, Richard Ingrams in the Observer, said that Blair will manufacture an excuse to resign to appear as a man of principle before the lies surrounding the war on Iraq catch up on him. Perhaps this 90 day detention proposal is that excuse. Here's hoping.

November 09, 2005

Naches from your children

Accroding to Ha'aretz, Shulamit Livnat certainly got naches from her daughter, the Israeli Education Minister, Limor Livnat. Limor quadrupled the allocation to a college run by her mother on a salaried basis.
Limor Livnat has been threatening to sue Ha'aretz for its reporting on this issue: "Haaretz will have to have a long conversation with my lawyers," the minister warned in an interview yesterday with Israel Radio. She said that she had nothing to do with the leap in Education Ministry allocations to Livnat senior's association.

"Do you know what Haaretz's headline says? `Minister Livnat signed an amendment.' Did I sign an amendment? I don't sign amendments. Ministers don't make amendments," she asserted, accusing Haaretz reporter Ayelet Fishbein of "personal persecution."

However, a look in the Israel Official Gazette (Reshumot) of July 30, 2002, and on the Justice Ministry Web site shows that Livnat did indeed sign the amendment that enabled a quadrupling of the financial support for her mother's association.
There are also allegations regarding her dealings with her husband's company. So naches. all round!

War footage from Fallujah

I just got this link from Lenin's Tomb. It's film of, and commentary on, the "battle" for Fallujah. It's should come with a warning but I don't know what to warn.

Britain's message to war criminals

Greville Janner's in today's Guardian lecturing war criminals on what might happen if they are on the losing side. This is topical because a nazi war criminal, Anthony Sawoniuk has just died in prison in the UK. He doesn't mention what might happen if they are on a side that keeps winning, like, say Israel.

November 06, 2005

Remembering the real Rabin

Thanks to Hulkagaard for finding Amira Hass's Ha'aretz article on the Kibush site:
Before the handshake on the White House lawn, before the Nobel Prize and before the murder, when Palestinians were asked about Rabin, this is what they remember: One thinks of his hands, scarred by soldiers' beatings; another remembers a friend who flitted between life and death in the hospital for 12 days, after he was beaten by soldiers who caught him drawing a slogan on a wall during a curfew. Yet another remembers the Al-Amari refugee camp; during the first intifada, all its young men were hopping on crutches or were in casts because they had thrown stones at soldiers, who in turn chased after them and carried out Rabin's order.
Telling it how it is.


I was just reading about the riots in France on Lenin's Tomb and then decided to google it a bit and I stumbled on Melanie Phillips's horrid blog. She has titled her article on the "Muslim riots" in France "Eurabia on the rampage". This surpasses Jesse Jackson calling New York "Hymie Town" and sounds more to me like the Viennese Mayor, Karl Lueger's characterisation of Budapest as "Judapest". Jesse Jackson was being plain stupid, especially as he denied having even said what he later admitted he did say. But he wasn't calling for ethnic cleansing like Lueger was nor was he calling for repression and the intolerance that Melanie Phillips seems to favour. I wonder how Melanie has reacted to people applying names to places to suggest that there are just too many Jews in that place. Honestly I can't see a moral difference between Melanie Phillips's take on Muslims and Karl Lueger's on Jews.

Zionist leader demands a democratic secular state

Thanks to Anthony Loewenstein for pointing me in the direction of this Ha'aretz report. Apparently Abe Foxman, the head of one of America's main zionist organisations, the Anti-Defamation League, has called for a strict adherence to the prinicples of democratic secularism. The head of an organisation that devotes most of its resources to defending Israel believes that the rise of the religious right:

poses a tangible danger to the principle of separation of church and state and threatens to undermine the religious tolerance that characterizes the country.

The country here is the USA. Heaven forbid Foxman from calling for such religious tolerance in Israel. I should point out that the ADL has never shied away from denouncing Christian missionary activity targeted at Jews but this seems to be a first with regard to Christian influence at the state level. So what do we make of this stand? Is it tactics? is it opportunism? hypocrisy perhaps? Perhaps we need two words: Beyond chutzpah.

Also posted to Lenin's Tomb

Rabin, heir to Begin?

Thanks to Dizzy for providing this link to "Some of [Israel Shahak's] Letters to the Editor published in Hebrew newspapers." Here some letters or extracts that specifically mention Rabin
Stuffed skins masquerading as human beings

In his excellent article ("The 'Golda, please don't leave us' neurosis", Hadashot Supplement, July 3), Doron Rosenblum asks: "What is the meaning of this obsessive urge - manifest in particular in the [Israeli] Labor party - to request the resigning leaders to remain in power". I think I can provide him with an answer.

Prof. Gideon Doron, who had been a member of a strategic team advising Rabin during the electoral campaign, thus explained (Al Hamishmar, June 26) Labor's electoral strategy to Amiram Cohen: "One of our central aims was to convey an image of Rabin as the true-blue successor of Begin". In other words, Rabin really had nothing to say as himself, but with the help of his "strategic team" he could at least disguise himself as Begin's look-alike. True, at a different time he would disguise himself as Begin's political enemy. But in general, Rabin's lifetime political career has amounted to no more than a game of adopting different disguises.

Since Ben-Gurion's retirement, his successors from among the [Israeli] Labor party and its "leaders", have done nothing apart from practitioning the art of adopting disguises. All the "leaders" of Labor have thus been no more than stuffed skins. Inside those skins there is straw, but no principles. It means that they really are not themselves, but their own look-alikes. The stuffed skin labeled as "Shimon Peres" has beaten all the records of achievement. It could be exhibited as several look-alikes at the same time: as Geula Cohen*, as a believer in paradise to be soon established in the entire region, and under other semblances.

Haaretz, 28 August 1992
*After the notorious Geula Cohen lost her Knesset seat in the recent elections, Peres commended her in exalted terms, and deplored that "we will miss very much", her absence from the Knesset.[Shahak's own note. I know I'm trying to focus on Rabin here but Peres is quite old and, no doubt, when he dies we'll be subject to all the nauseating hagiographies on him that we have had to endure on the limb-breaker Rabin.
Best of intentions?

Yoel Markus writes ("No miracle is going to happen", Haaretz, August 21) that "the new Israeli government has the best of intentions" about conducting the peace talks. But the proposals of this government which he himself quotes are identical with what had been already proposed by Begin [in 1981], except for some changes to Palestinian disadvantage which, according to Markus, are necessitated by the fact that "the Territories have in the meanwhile been filled with Jewish settlements".

It follows that if this government has "the best of intentions", Begin's government had them too. The reverse is also true: If Begin didn't have "the best of intentions", Rabin has them neither. Rabin's "best of intentions" are relative, compared with the madness of Shamir or Sharon. But if we recall the bone breaking orders, we can only conclude that Arens had better intentions [toward the Palestinians] than Rabin.

In my view, no fundamental difference exists between Likud and Labor. Both parties are part of an overgrown, clumsy and demented core of Israeli politics. A real change in Israel is possible only after these two core parties, which date from the 1920s already, will at last come to the end of their days.

Hadashot, 11 August 1992
This one detail's Rabin's culpability in Baruch Goldstein's Hebron massacre
A gross breach of the military discipline

The story of Mattay Cohen (Shishi, April 15) about the army doctor who refused to provide medical treatment to a Druze soldier upon noticing that "he bore an Arab family name" should remind all of us that the Israeli army career of the murderous doctor, Baruch Goldstein, had also begun with his refusal to provide medical treatment to non-Jews, and that the army hadn't drawn any consequences from this refusal. In addition to the breach of the Hippocratic Oath and the sheer inhumanity of such behavior, both cases under this discussion amount to a gross breach of the army's standing orders and of military discipline in general.

The massacre perpetrated by Goldstein could have been prevented. The heaviest responsibility for the failure to prevent it falls in my view on the high army command in 1984-85, and on the then Defense minister, Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin and his high command should have decided to court-martial Goldstein for disobeying orders and to dismiss him from the army. But the Israeli army and the individual who is commanding it behave in the same hypocritical and irresponsible way now as then. By refusing to deal with the current case of an army doctor who openly announced that "he refused to provide medical treatment to soldiers with an Arab family name", they show that they have neither learned nor forgotten anything.

Kol Ha'ir, 22 April 1994
I don't know if anything has changed since then.

Here's a letter condemning Rabin together with the whole of the zionist "left":
Sabra and Shatila No. 2

As was reported in the [Israeli] papers last week, some bombs and missiles dropped or fired by [Israeli] Airforce on the Hizbollah camp in Lebanon had been equipped with a delayed action mechanism. As one who was involved in investigating the Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians in 1982, I can testify that claims to the effect of the use of delayed action bombs and missiles, obviously aimed under such circumstances against the medical rescue teams and the already wounded, which were at that time made and never denied by Israel, were later confirmed. I regard the use of delayed action bombs under such conditions as equivalent to throwing bombs at a Red Star of David ambulance.25 In my view the premeditated barbarity on the part of a state which deliberately hits medical personnel in the process of rescuing the wounded is far worse than the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

If the present Lebanese claims (again not denied by Israel) about the use of delayed action bombs are correct - and I am afraid they are correct - I can only conclude that Rabin is worse than Sharon and Meretz is worse than Rabin. And the Peace Now. is not even worth mentioning.

Shishi, 10 June 1994
No change there then.

Finally, here's an extract from a letter with a withering attack on Yasser Arafat that equals anything that Shahak has said against any Israeli leader. I just want to note here that Shahak's letter was written a little over a year after a number of us left the Palestine Soldarity Campaign over its support for Oslo, a set up we believed to be doomed to failure and tantamount to a victory parade of zionism over the Palestinians:
It follows that Rabin's support of settlements by constructing a network of apartheid roads connecting them cannot be interpreted as mere tactics. It is a part of a grand strategy resting on two foundations: the intensification of apartheid in the Territories and hostility to any form of Palestinian democracy. The Israeli "peace camp", whose main preoccupation is to worship Arafat's personality, adheres to the same goals. This explains why it differs from Rabin so little. Both Rabin and the "peace camp" support - at least tacitly - any massacre of Palestinians if only it is perpetrated by Arafat's gangsters. The differences which exist between Rabin and, say, the tiny "peace block" about the settlements, are middling as compared to the view they share that Israeli interests dictate the preference for massacring the Palestinians by Arafat rather than by Israel.

Such policy objectives are more immoral than those of Yitzhak Shamir. And they stand no chances of materializing. As all records beating liar in the Middle East, Arafat cannot be relied on to keep promises he gave to massacre the Palestinians for Israel's benefit. He will massacre them only when it will suit his own interest. Likewise, Peres does not intend in 1994 to develop the Territories, just as in 1965, when he headed the Rafi party, he did not intend to fulfill his promise to give a car to every Israeli worker. Millions of dollars which in August [1994] Peres obtained from the Holst Fund for Arafat, were "invested" in trying to massacre Arafat's foes in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Even this attempt ended in failure.

The present "peace process" is immoral because its aim is to intensify the apartheid regime, in the Territories. But it is also doomed to fail because it rests on an accord with a dictator who is a failure even as a dictator. Unlike such dictators as Assad, Arafat is unable to keep agreements he signs.
Now that's what we like, a bit of balance.

November 05, 2005

Remember Shahak. Forget Rabin

Amid all the talk of how wonderful life would have been if Rabin had not been assassinated, it's good to remember Israel Shahak's letter to Kol Ha'ir over fifteen years ago. I found this tacked on to an article by Tony Greenstein for Return magazine.
Falsification of the Holocaust

I disagree with the opinion of Haim Baram that the Israeli education system has managed to instil a 'Holocaust awareness' in its pupils (Kol Ha'Ir 12.5.89). It's not an awareness of the Holocaust but rather the myth of the Holocaust or even a falsification of the Holocaust (in the sense that 'a half-truth is worse than a lie') which has been instilled here.

As one who himself lived through the Holocaust, first in Warsaw then in Bergen-Belsen, I will give an immediate example of the total ignorance of daily life during the Holocaust. In the Warsaw ghetto, even during the period of the first massive extermination (June to October 1943), one saw almost no German soldiers. Nearly all the work of administration, and later the work of transporting hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths, was carried out by Jewish collaborators. Before the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (the planning of which only started after the extermination of the majority of Jews in Warsaw), the Jewish underground killed, with perfect justification, every Jewish collaborator they could find. If they had not done so the Uprising could never have started. The majority of the population of the Ghetto hated the collaborators far more than the German Nazis. Every Jewish child was taught, and this saved the lives of some them "if you enter a square from which there are three exits, one guarded by a German SS man, one by an Ukrainian and one by a Jewish policeman, then you should first try to pass the German, and then maybe the Ukrainian, but never the Jew".

One of my own strongest memories is that, when the Jewish underground killed a despicable collaborator close to my home at the end of February 1943, I danced and sang around the still bleeding corpse together with the other children. I still do not regret this, quite the contrary.

It is clear that such events were not exclusive to the Jews, the entire Nazi success in easy and continued rule over millions of people stemmed from the subtle and diabolical use of collaborators, who did most of the dirty work for them. But does anybody now know about this ? This, and not what is 'instilled' was the reality. Of the Yad Vashem theatre, I do not wish to speak, at all. It, and its vile exploiting, such as honouring South African collaborators with the Nazis are truly beneath contempt.[that was John Vorster with Menachem Begin]

Therefore, if we knew a little of the truth about the Holocaust, we would at least understand (with or without agreeing) why the Palestinians are now eliminating their collaborators. That is the only means they have if they wish to continue to struggle against our limb-breaking regime.

Kind regards,

Israel Shahak
Limb-breaking regime, that was Rabin's legacy.

Ethnic cleansing of Jews not halal says Khamenei

Thanks to David Bloom of the World War IV report blog for bringing this fatwah to my attention. Apparently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that "neither throwing Jews into the sea nor setting the Palestinian territory on fire is in accordance with our Islamic principles." I have now noticed a little piece in the Independent on this but not on line. Funny how it doesn't get the same prominence as was given to the premature cartography of the Iranian President, Mahmud Ahmadinezhad.

Yuk! Rabin

I should have been following the commentary about the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. The Guardian has an editorial today "In praise of....Yitzhak Rabin". Well at least they hesitated before uttering the name. I think the Guardian's point is that Rabin made a major contribution to world peace by shaking hands with Arafat and managing not to throw up all over him.
It was Rabin who broke the mould by shaking hands with Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn after the Oslo agreement in 1993
Wow! In fairness they do have this to say on Oslo
Sentiment should not obscure the fact that Oslo was fatally flawed.
And who's fault was that? Again from the Guardian
Rabin was a brave man whose strategic vision did not go far enough.
I'll dig up all the stuff that most people know about his ethnic cleansing and his orders to the Israeli army to smash the limbs of children later.

November 04, 2005

Nick Cohen denies all knowledge of Baruch Spinoza

Sorry to go on but finally Nick Cohen has denied that he posted a comment to my blog using the name Baruch Spinoza.

I had been posting the link to my allegation against him on his blog when he suddenly closed down his comments so I wrote to him as follows:
Hi there

Your comments seem not to be working.

Mark Elf
And he replied thus:
Dear Mark,

Well, the problem is that I'm getting all kinds of neo-Nazi types coming in particularly when anything goes up about Jews. There's a side of me that doesn't mind, it just confirms my opinions. But another side is very uncomfortable about giving them a platform. Comments are suspended while I work out what to do.
best wishes,
Nick Cohen
This was quite an enigmatic response because when he posted an article "on" anti-semitism he got over 180 comments including one or two from an overtly anti-Jewish person. There were several from Linda Grant and David Hirsh supporting his insupportable argument that "all anti-semites are anti-zionists". A few of us posted comments disproving that assertion but, as I recall, the only person actually linking to anti-semitic sites was Linda Grant. And he doesn't post many articles about Jews. But please check it out for yourselves. Anyway, here's my response to his response:
Dear Nick

It's true that David Hirsh and Linda Grant support a nasty racist state and ideology but I wouldn't go so far as to call them neo-nazis. [that was my little joke] Of course you could be referring to that horrid Love Supreme character but you left her post in place whereas I now have a person call "Pearl" saying that you deleted a comment from her that she claims wasn't neo-nazi in content or intent. Funny old business.

Anyway since I'm writing to you, any chance of you owning up to that disgusting Baruch Spinoza comment?


Mark Elf
And here's his response to my response to his response:
Dear Mark,
I don't really understand who Baruch Spinoza is, but your email has persuaded me to close the comments. If people like you are going to accuse Linda Grant of things like that, I've got legal problems as much as anything else.
Now this is bizarre, it's my email that caused him to close his comments before. I had sent it. And what happened to all those neo-nazis? The bit about "legal problems" looked a little like intimidation to me but still I wrote back:
Calling Israel a racist state doesn't cause any legal problems.[I should have said "for the time being" as the zionists are clearly trying to get anti-zionism made illegal]

And someone came to my site from your password protected tracker and left a comment in the name Baruch Spinoza. It was either you or someone who has your password. If it wasn't you then you should check who has your password and have a word with them as they could cause you extreme embarrassment, not to mention legal problems.
Now I'm getting all manner of Nick Cohen defenders crawling out of the woodwork. First there was someone called "Roger" saying that he had written to the "webmaster", ie Nick Cohen, asking that he close the comments to protect the integrity of the blog lest it degenerate like Melanie Philips's or Johann Hari's, then there was the "what makes you think it was him?" then there was "he was right", in which case why the phoney name and pretence of being Jewish? then there was the "he's winding you up" like Nick and I are great mates or something.

Nope, I'm pretty confident it was him. And the evidence is right here:

Nick Cohen closes down comment

Nick Cohen seems to have closed down the comments on his blog. I have helpfully written to him and his webmaster to find out why that is.

It can't have been deliberate because when he launched his diatribe against my blog he said that one of the things he didn't like about George Galloway, Respect etc, was the way they
do everything to close down debate or discussion they disagree with,
So I'm sure it's just a temporary hitch and that Nick Cohen's blog will reopen to debate and discussion once he's learned how to selectively ban people.

November 03, 2005

Israel booms Palestine busts


Israel is indulging an old pastime whereby instead of bombing innocent people it sends supersonic jets to make supersonic booms over people's houses. This causes glass and even walls to break and causes fear panic and occasionally death. It's all great fun for Israel, but not such fun for the Palestinians whose suffering in Gaza, continues.

November 02, 2005

Nick Cohen playing the dissident Jewish Rationalist philosopher?

Get this bit of weirdness. I got this comment today:
"Just to add that there was a small contingent from the Socialist Workers Party and there was a local anarchist and some Respect people with us" [this was a quote from my post on the cantata picket]

They say never judge a man by his friends. But, you know, on this occasion I think I *will*.

Shame on you for your self-loathing sophistry. There is a rich tradition in Judaism of critique and dialectic: by keeping close quarter with Galloway's disgusting, viscerally antisemitic mob, who do everything to close down debate or discussion they disagree with, you discredit your own case which might well be very good for a healthy debate on Judaism and the rights of Palestinians of all faiths or none to a state.

You fall into the classic and dangerous chasm of Jewish self-hatred and cannot, I am afraid, see the fascism and totalitarian-appeasement of your new bed-fellows. You ought to be ashamed and write no more until your mind is free of egregious nonsense.
Then the guy signs off as Baruch Spinoza. Well this Baruch Spinoza is no rationalist philosopher. It is none other than Old Nick himself or someone very close to him.

Let me explain. Down the right hand side of the screen I have a tracker. It tells me where hits have come from, the IP addresses of the computers that were used and other stuff like country, town, etc. So if someone comes here by looking up, say "Nick Cohen" on google, my tracker will tell me so and I can find whatever the user found on google if I click on the link within my tracker. Well Nick Cohen too has a tracker (only his is hidden) and tracked a hit on his site back to Jews sans frontieres. He then left the outrrageous comment above. I got the IP address, not from my tracker actually but from haloscan (the comments facility) and looked it up on the IP locator of my tracker. The comment was so nutty I thought it had come from America so I was surprised to see that it came from London. It showed the link to the site where the hit came from and it was this:

Now if you click on the link you get a password dialogue box which means that Nick Cohen's tracker is password protected. Which in turn suggests that only he, or someone close to him, can use it. So was it you Nick or did you phone a friend?

What is so bizarre is that he calls me "self-loathing." We had that abuse hurled at us last night at the cantata. It's something the hard right likes to throw at people they consider to be insufficiently patriotic. It's something Jewish zionists throw at Jewish anti-zionists when they seek to, er, "close down debate or discussion they disagree with." But Old Nick Cohen went to eloquent lengths to deny being Jewish in a recent article and he's accusing me of self-hatred. Chutzpah on wheels!

Anyway, here's my response:
Not sure what you mean by sophistry here.

You'll have to explain the allegation of anti-semitism. Everyone I was with last night wanted equality not supremacy or inferiority.

You'll have to give some examples of "classic" self-hatred and explain why opposing a colonial settler state based on ethnic cleansing and segregationist laws is fascistic.

I'm sure "egregious" is a good word to use, I've seen Norman Finkelstein use it but I still haven't got round to looking it up.

Anyway, you're not Nick Cohen are you?
There are other comments too but my favourite is this:
I am not a member or supporter of the SWP and supported those who criticised its invitation to Gilad Atzmon. I am also not a member of Respect, and have always had the gravest suspicions of George Galloway.

However I have never seen any remark attributed to Galloway which could reasonably be interpreted as antisemitic. And on the two occasions I have heard him speak - once at a student meeting in Birmingham and once at a Stop the War meeting in Oxford - he launched a ferocious attack on questioners from the floor who made remarks that did appear antisemitic.

Some do accuse both Galloway and Respect and the SWP of opportunism in their attitude to Islamic fundamentalism and to some reactionary Arab regimes, as well as of communalism in their approach to elections.

Whatever the truth of the accusations, even if true they do not amount to antisemitism.

Some try to portray the SWP and Galloway as heirs to Oswald Mosley; for example the increasingly fruitcake 'democratic imperialists' at Harry's Place and the professional McCarthyite political thug Oliver Kamm, not to mention Jim Denham, the AWL's hysterically hyperventilating drag act imitation of Melanie Phillips.

They are all guilty of a variety of gutter politics which actually obscures any legitimate political criticisms that may, or even must, be made of those they target.

And it is surely the ultimate in chutzpah for someone repeating these politically illiterate hysterics to assume the name of an earlier Jewish heretic, who was a spectacular victim of persecution by the Jewish establishment of his day.
Get that Nick Cohen or friend of? How dare you assume the mantle of Baruch Spinoza whilst trying to "close down debate"?

UPDATE: It definitely was Nick Cohen. I just got this from his site: was launched in October 2005. The pages are maintained by Nick himself, based on a design by James Pittendreigh. The site is hosted and published by Tom who would like to thank Steven Thurgood and Neil Levine for their generous support.
I have tried writing to him and posting comments to his blog but he has now closed down his comments. And this from the man who came to my blog to denounce "Galloway's disgusting, viscerally antisemitic mob, who do everything to close down debate or discussion they disagree with." So, being kind, let's assume that the closure of his comments facility is a little glitch that had nothing to do with the great open debater himself.

Rachel Corrie cantata: pickets, police and counter-pickets

Here's an account of the counter-picket against the ghoulish Zionist Federation picket of the Skies are Weeping Cantata for Rachel Corrie. Rachel Corrie, of course, was the American International Solidarity Movement activist, killed when an Israeli bulldozer ran over her once and then back just to make sure she would die.
I'm just back from our counter-picket to the Zionist demo of the Hackney Empire. I think it was a successful intervention, and it was really important that we were there and didn't leave the Zionists unopposed.

They were extremely hostile, and I felt more threatened by them than on any occasion than I can remember. At one point, I was actually glad of the police presence. We were surrounded by aggressive thugs (one of them wearing a t-shirt proclaiming "Hebron now and forever")[and claiming to be from the Jewish Defence League], demanding to know whether we were Jewish, and muttering threats under their breath. Many of them took photos [and film], demonstratively thrusting cameras into our faces. After the police separated the two pickets (with us to the left, naturally), they had to return several times to remove Zionists who were haranguing and threatening us. Apparently other people -- nothing to do with us -- had also been threatened by the Zionists, who cannot have won many hearts and minds this evening.

The counter-picket was called by Jews Against Zionism, but many others joined us, forming over half of the leafletters. Some of them were passers-by, including local Jews who hadn't known that there were other Jews who thought like them and were happy to change their plans and join us. There was a lot of interest, both in our presence and our leaflet, with several people commenting that it was good, or unexpected, to see us there.

I didn't seriously expect to be attacked violently, since this would have seriously discredited the Zionist claim that they were demonstrating for peace; but their behaviour was certainly worrying, and we made sure nobody left alone. If they think that they can intimidate us off the streets, they will surely attempt to do so; so it would be good if more people supported any further such interventions. You don't have to give out a JAZ leaflet if you don't agree with it. One of your own, or simply a presence in support of our right to oppose the obscene Zionist demo, would be fine.
Just to add that there was a small contingent from the Socialist Workers Party and there was a local anarchist and some Respect people with us but all leftist and anti-war groups should be rallying to the cause of Palestine and the street must not be turned over to a well-resourced zionist movement intent on keeping Palestine wiped off of the map.

November 01, 2005

Can Israel survive democracy?

Well from the zionist letters to the Guardian below, obviously the zionists believe that it can't.

I just saw this on the Engage site. There's a link to the pro-war pro-zionist Harry's Place where there is a picture post on counter-demonstrations against Jerusalem Day in Berlin. Scrolling down we find this gem from the Turkish-German Green Party politician, Cem Oezdemir:
Israel will still exist when Iran is a democratic state, Egypt has finally democratic elections and even when Syria is democraticised
Maybe, but can Israel still exist when Israel is democratised. The zionists believe not. And I'm inclined to agree with them.

Israel: a state for the indigenous population?

Strange crop of letters in response to Dr Nur Masalha's call for a democratic secular state. Get this from a Lyn Julius:
Dr Nur Masalha is outraged at President Ahmadinejad's "appalling" comments to "wipe Israel off the map": in truth, there is little daylight between them. The former advocates politicide, the latter genocide. A bi-national secular, democratic, state would quickly result in yet another Muslim Arab state with a Jewish, albeit Hebrew-speaking, minority. Jews do not need reminding that their recent experience as a minority in Muslim Arab states has been an unhappy one. It is time for so-called moderates like Dr Masalha to accept that Zionism is not a "colonial" enterprise but the legitimate self-determination of an indigenous people, whose presence in the Middle East predates the arrival of the Muslim Arabs by 1,000 years.
Lyn Julius
Obviously most "Hebrew speaking" people in Palestine now are not indigenous and to suggest that the lot of Jews in predominantly Muslim countries was an entirely unhappy one prior to the advent of Israel is racist nonsense, not so much against Muslims but against Arab Jews. The clear implication being that the Jews of the Arab world were were simply lamguishing rather than living until Ashkenazi Jews came from Europe and liberated them. Still not all the letters are bad:
Once again, a Muslim rhetorical flourish has been perceived as more dangerous than real Israeli crimes. Iranian envoys in western capitals are summoned for chiding, but Israel receives political, economic and military support while perpetrating daily occupation. If Israel were put under real pressure to implement UN resolutions, to give up its nuclear arsenal, and to allow the return of at least some of the refugees it drove out, Muslim support for Ahmadinejad's rhetoric would rapidly diminish.
Robin Yassin-Kassab
Muscat, The Sultanate of Oman
And this:
Eric Heinze and others leap to conclusions when they interpret the Iranian president's words as meaning a holocaust. Ahmadinejad said "wipe out Israel" which I can only support if it means the same as "wipe out apartheid South Africa" did in the 80s. White South Africans have survived the destruction of their racist polity and I suspect Israelis in the Middle East would also survive the wiping out of this unfortunate, racist, Zionist experiment. Meanwhile, Palestine is being more brutally wiped out every day. Let's not get distracted from who is being wiped out and who is doing the wiping.
Bruno Crowe
And another reality check:
Words are certainly formidable weapons, but actions tend to have stronger repercussions. Since the inception of the state of Israel, that country has been involved in two major wars and has, at various times, been in occupation of territory belonging to Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. Israel has also been stealing land from the Palestinians. During the same period, Iran has never been an aggressor against a neighbour or stolen territory from another state, though it has been the victim of appalling aggression from Saddam Hussein. Israel possesses nuclear weapons. Iran does not. Iran hasn't the remotest chance of harming Israel; the prospects of Israel attacking Iran are now openly discussed on news programmes.
Lawrence Glover
before giving the last word to the zionists:
The Iranian president's recent remarks are about as serious as you can get from the head of an aspiring nuclear country. With the potential to deliver atomic warheads into the heart of Europe within a few years, now is the time to take this very real threat very seriously. Nuclear blackmail will soon arrive. Failure to deal with this issue head-on will, without doubt, lead to catastrophe. A nation that held 52 US diplomats and citizens hostage between 1979-81, and still that holds a British author under threat of murder, is not to be trusted with nuclear weapons. Especially a nation whose supreme leader regularly calls for the "death of America and Britain" and now whose president threatens Israel with destruction. We have been warned.
Dominic Shelmerdine
Still here's one that doesn't appear on the Guardian's site:
It is somewhat paradoxical that having correctly noted that "Muslim fundamentalists have failed to understand the reality in historic Palestine", the secular Dr Massalha falls into the same trap. As with President Ahmadinejad, Dr Masalha implies that the complexity of the entire history of the region, including its current problematics, is reduced to nothing other than the product of Israel's "brutal colonisation", "institutional racism" and "ethnic cleansing" of "Israel-Palestine" (and, the contradiction of how such an inherent violent entity should give rise to a "distinctive culture, language and flourishing literature" is not explained). Having delegitimised Israel's founding and continued existence in this way, Dr Massalha, again echoes President Ahmadinejad, by concluding his comments with a call for the dissolution of the State of Israel (what he terms the "bi-national reality"). It would appear, then, that President Ahmadinejad's "fundamentalism" and Dr Masalha's "secularism" represents more a difference of form rather than content.

David M. Seymour
School of Law
Lancaster University
Assuming the Guardian didn't publish this nonsense in its print edition they did this academic a favour; note he's from a school of Law and yet he sees no difference between democratic and Islamic law. He claims to believe that equality for Muslims is the same as an Islamic state and that equality for Christians, Muslims, Jews and others is tantamount to wiping people out. I wonder what rights he believes should be withheld from Muslims in other countries. Also he seems to be believe that there are only two types of state: Jewish ones and not specifically Jewish ones. And his fellow academic, David Hirsh, hosts this racist rubbish.

Imagine! These people are paid academics. At least I think they're paid. Who knows, perhaps they pay for their positions?