September 29, 2006

Nasrallah said what?

I blogged an LRB article by Charles Glass on Hizbullah a few weeks ago. Have a look at the post or the article itself here. It was about how Hizbullah had come of age over the past couple of decades. Well the article elicited an angry response in the letters page in the next edition. See this:
I do not support the terrible excesses of Israel’s bombing of Lebanon, nor do I regard all criticism of Israel as an expression of anti-semitism, but Charles Glass’s defence of Hizbullah is beyond the pale (LRB, 17 August). Is Glass familiar with these statements, made by Hizbullah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah? ‘If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide’ and ‘They [Jews] are a cancer which is liable to spread at any moment.’ The leader of the Party of God (a grotesque conception of a political party, although that doesn’t seem to bother Glass) is not simply a resistance fighter. He is an anti-semite with fantasies of genocide. Glass makes Hizbullah sound like a rational movement that does little harm, but on the contrary does a great deal of good and learns from its mistakes. What lessons had it learned from the debacle of the 1980s when it provoked a war that has brought so much havoc to its own country, without even consulting the government in which it serves? Glass tells us that he was kidnapped by Hizbullah. Has he succumbed to Stockholm syndrome?

Eugene Goodheart

Waltham, Massachusetts
Well Charles Glass wasn't having any of that:
Eugene Goodheart asks whether I am familiar with two statements he attributes to Hizbullah’s secretary-general, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah (Letters, 7 September). Goodheart uses the inflammatory quotations to accuse Nasrallah of being ‘an anti-semite with fantasies of genocide’. If I am unfamiliar with the statements, it is because they are in all likelihood fabrications. The first (‘If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide’) was circulated widely on neo-con websites, which give as its original source an article by Badih Chayban in Beirut’s English-language Daily Star on 23 October 2002. It seems that Chayban left the Star three years ago and moved to Washington. The Star’s managing editor writes of Chayban’s article on Nasrallah, that ‘I have faith in neither the accuracy of the translation [from Arabic to English] nor the agenda of the translator [Chayban].’ The editor-in-chief and publisher of the Star, Jamil Mrowe, adds that Chayban was ‘a reporter and briefly local desk sub and certainly did not interview Nasrallah or anyone else.’ The account of Nasrallah’s speech in the Lebanese daily As Safir for the same day makes no reference to any anti-semitic comments. Goodheart’s second quotation – ‘They [the Jews] are a cancer which is liable to spread at any moment’ – comes from the Israeli government’s website at For the record, a Hizbullah spokeswoman, Wafa Hoteit, denies that Nasrallah made either statement.

Goodheart wonders whether, as a former captive of Hizbullah, I may have succumbed to Stockholm syndrome; may I ask in return whether he is succumbing to the disinformation that passes for scholarship and journalism in certain quarters in the United States?

Charles Glass
What's fascinating here is that these statements attributed to Nasrallah have been doing the rounds, unchallenged, for a few years now. Googling the whole sentence throws up over a hundred sites and googling chunks of it yields thousands. I can't be bothered to check right now but I'm sure there were many zionists who justified the recent Israeli onslaught against Lebanon simply by reference to these statements.

One of the sites running the first quote is Normblog. Norman Geras very helpfully provides a link to the original article. The site has been acting up today but I have seen the article and it carries no disclaimer, retraction or health warning. I've written to them suggesting that they should publish some kind of disclaimer or retraction.

Frankly when I heard about these things I just wished he hadn't said them. It now looks like my wish came true.

September 28, 2006

Engage TV?

I haven't seen this programme myself but Engage have touted it quite heavily and it includes some of their contributors so it might be fun. It's David Aaronovitch and friends in a show called No Excuses for Terror. It's hosted for now on Harry's Place but going from the comments I think it will soon be available on Google. Here are some (maybe all) of the cast:
Jon Pike, Alan Johnson, Eve Garrard, Jane Ashworth, Norman Geras, John Strawson, Shalom Lappin, amongst others.
Wot no Alf Green?

I have to put the moderator back on today because I'm away from the pc all day and I don't want the trolls taking over. Thanks for your forbearance in this matter.

Many thanks to Hulkagaard in the comments.

Oh, one more thing. Here's a curious comment to the Harry's Place post:
David Aaronovitch, whose brother played Deidre's nemesis Jon Lindsay in Corrie - "Free the Wetherfield One" - is extraordinarily sensible for a Leftie. Like Nick Cohen. Could it be because they is Jewish?
They certainly have Jewish surnames but I'm fairly certain that neither of them claim to be Jewish, in fact Nick Cohen strenuously denies it....when he's not masquerading as Baruch Spinoza that is.

September 27, 2006

War continues in Gaza

It's a bit of a one sided war of course. This report is from the BBC website:
In a village in southern Gaza, an old Palestinian woman stood surveying the wreckage of her life, and her home - bulldozed by the Israeli army.
Subhiya Mouamr pointed out her family's store of flour strewn in the rubble, and the tent she now lives in.

"We sit here - between the earth and the sky - and we survive just on what the Red Cross brings us," Subhiya Mouamr said.

"They destroyed everything."

But on that night when the Israelis came late last week, Subhiya Mouamr lost even more than her home and all that she owned.

She also lost her son and her daughter-in-law.

What happened in the village of Um al-Nasr is typical of the nature of the Israeli offensive in Gaza - which is now going into its fourth month.
Still Blair made a jolly good speech.

Arthur Neslen's Tel Aviv diary

I picked up a copy of Red Pepper on the way up to Manchester on Saturday and I was pleased to see a diary from Tel Aviv during the recent war on Lebanon by Israel. The diary was maintained by Arthur Neslen and the thing that struck me was its indictment of the zionist "left" in his August 10 report:
After five weeks of war, a bombshell has finally hit Tel Aviv. The big guns of the Israeli left have turned and hopefully not just to shoot themselves in the foot. Israel’s campaign in Lebanon is staggering from one bloody calamity to the next and the ‘Zionist left’ has decided to break ranks - and the national consensus. It was only two days ago that Yossi Beilin, the leader of the ‘far left’ Meretz party, was claiming that his group had ‘passed the test’ of Lebanon by taking a position neither for war, nor peace but both at the same time.
Other Red Pepper reports and comments on Palestine are here.

Saudi confirms contact with Israel

This report is from the Washington Post:
Saudi Arabia denied on Tuesday a newspaper report that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently held a meeting with a senior Saudi royal, calling the story fabricated.
I think that's as close as it gets to confirmation.

September 26, 2006

Better a shack in Palestine than a palace in Kuwait

Here's a letter in today's Independent criticising earlier zionist efforts in the same paper that I posted here:
Sir: Mr Daniel Naftalin (letter, 20 September) argues that your presentation of the facts of Israel's killing of Palestinian children is "a subject used throughout the years to marginalise and dehumanise Jews". He is misguided on two counts. Firstly, the photographs on your front page do show children who had been killed by Israelis. This is an incontrovertible fact and cannot be seen as being biased against Israel.

Secondly, the argument that every criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic is wearing very thin indeed. It is also highly disrespectful of those Jews who suffered so much simply for being Jews. Their suffering had nothing to do with the State of Israel and should not be used to justify every argument in support of that state.

On the same day Professor Reuben suggests "if the notably underpopulated Arab states had compassion for their compatriots, every refugee could live in a palace". The arrogance of such a statement is unbelievable. I am a Palestinian. I wish to live in my homeland, on my father's land in Netanyah in Palestine. I would much rather live in a free and democratic Palestine in a small shack than in a palace in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.


The first letter on Israel in today's edition says that Israel wished the Palestinians well when it "withdrew" from Gaza. Strange when one recalls that Ariel Sharon called the withdrawal "a punishment and not a reward for the Palestinians." Maybe the writer didn't know he said that.

September 25, 2006

Israel-Saudi talks?

I'm seeing reports of Ehud Olmert visiting leading Saudi royals; possibly even the king himself. This is from the International Herald Tribune:
According to Yediot, the secret talks 10 days ago between Olmert and the senior Saudi official focused on Iran's nuclear program and achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel and the United States say Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The Saudi peace initiative, which calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from lands it captured in the 1967 Mideast war in exchange for normalization and relations with all Arab countries, had been rejected by Sharon outright.

But in an interview with Yediot last week, Olmert responded differently.

"I am very impressed with different processes and statements that are connected to Saudi Arabia, some that have been stated publicly and others as well. I am very impressed with King Abdullah's wisdom and sense of responsibility," Olmert was quoted as saying in Yediot.

When asked if Israel was holding secret contacts with Saudi Arabia, Olmert said: "I do not have to answer every question."
I'm guessing that Iran was more important to Saudi than the Palestinian issue but who knows?

September 24, 2006

Lenin ruined my Manchester

I had a wonderful time in Manchester yesterday. The journey up from Euston was very pleasant, in fact I bumped into Lenin - of Tomb fame. See his site for a description of the journey up. When we got off the train I was talking to a woman whose company I was quite enjoying. She wasn't with a group there and she wasn't a member of a party. We got to Albert Square which is where the march started out. Lots and lots of people but plenty of time before the march was to kick off so we went for lunch. She was into homeopathy this woman. Very stylishly dressed and intelligent sounding. She thought that the pharmaceutical industry was conspiring against homeopathy. I asked why they didn't just adopt or co-opt it. She didn't know. We finished lunch and went back out to the crowds and the march began. A helicopter flew overhead and she said she thought that it sent electro-magnetic waves to alter the mood of the crowd to suit the powers that be. If they wanted to discredit us with a riot they could do it. If they wanted us in a good peaceful (if a tad angry) mood they could do that too. A few planes flew overhead leaving vapour trails which she said was another form of crowd control. Don't get me wrong she was very pleasant. I didn't question what she was saying. I just kind of smiled and nodded. Somewhere along the route she picked up a "Time to Go" placard and kept it til the end. We got to where the speakers were speaking.

I'm terrible at reporting speeches back but I remember George Galloway wishing the Jews a happy new year. Is that Judeocentric of me to remember that? Actually, that's not fair, I do remember some others. There was a guy from the British Medical Association or the Lancet or some such who denounced the war and the lies and the accusation that the Lancet had lied about the fatalities. There was a woman conveying Hizbullah's gratitude for the support from the UK (people that is). Brian Eno made one of his understated speeches. He really conveys the indignation of the not-so-ideologically committed. My new woman friend enjoyed and applauded it all and so did I. I had a wander for some tobacco at one point and bumped into a morris dancer I recognised from Broadstairs.

Anyway, the thing drew to a close and we headed back to the train. We had a bit of time so we popped into a pub. I phoned Lenin and asked him to save us a couple of seats. I told him that the woman I was with was a bit wacky but harmless and quite pleasant. We got to the train and walked the (what seemed like) two miles from the back end to about three carriages from the front. We sat down with Lenin. The train pulled away. She started to talk about how Bush and co had staged 9/11. She said it wasn't planes at all. I just nodded and giggled a bit. I still thought she was a bit wacky but harmless and still quite pleasant. Lenin confronted her on her theory about 9/11. Would you believe Lenin actually read all the conspiracy stuff on 9/11 and all the stuff that shows it's a lot of tosh? She insisted that the Americans are shortly going to declare a world government. Lenin countered that it wasn't in their interests to have a world government. I should point out here that I wasn't listening that intently. I had parked a load of lefty papers and magazines that I bought on the way up with Lenin and I wanted to read those or maybe have a kip. I should have mentioned that for fear of missing the train in the morning I stayed up all night the night before so I was quite knackered on the way home. Finally Lenin asked her why she thought that all these conspiracies were running things when what we know is bad enough and weird enough. Ok, I'm oversimplifying because he actually subjected her to quite a thorough (I thought at the time, playful) cross-examination. She said that it all goes back to a banking cartel that overthrew Napolean back in the day. Again Lenin pointed out by reference to sources she had quoted and to corrective sources that she was talking tosh. Anyway, she said she needed to go to the buffet car and asked if we wanted anything. I said I'd have water. Lenin passed. She went.

When she went Lenin said that all conspiracy theorists are antisemitic. Eh? What's this? Remember I wasn't participating but frankly I missed the significance of the banking cartel and Napolean. But she was nice. I would have steered her on to talking about homeopathy or holistic massages, I might have even got a holistic massage but Lenin's a purist. He had to cross-examine her until she got right down to her bottom line: it's the Jews wot dunnit, it's the Jews wot do it, and it's the Jews wot are always gonna do it. But she was so pleasant. He ruined it for me. She didn't come back. I even looked for her the length of the train. I couldn't find her. I thought Lenin had driven her to suicide. I was genuinely concerned. He wasn't, he was chuffed with himself. We chatted for a while and then I went to the buffet for tea. I saw her by accident and she told me that Lenin had really upset her by doubting her after all she had read.

I went back and sat down with Lenin again. We arrived in London earlier than planned. The Jews don't control the railways then. And do you know what Lenin did? After driving a stylish and articulate (if a bit nutty) woman away from me, he asked me if I had two quid. Can you believe that guy? Asking if I had two quid. Of course I had two quid, I'm part of a banking cartel!

Nasrallah: Restore Palestine from the river to the sea

According to the Scotsman on Friday Lebanese Hisbullah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said that the Arab world could liberate Palestine if the will was there.
Mr Nasrallah said that the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon showed that if Arab states had the will, they could destroy Israel. "The Arab armies and Arab peoples are able not only to liberate Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In all simplicity, with decision and will they can restore Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] sea," he said.
"Decision and will?" Two things that are lacking in most, maybe all, Arab states.

More on the antisemitism gag

Here's Jonathan Cook in Counterpunch with another article on the "new antisemitism" and how it is used and has been used to stifle exposure of Israel's crimes againt its native and neighbouring populations.
The trajectory of a long-running campaign that gave birth this month to the preposterous all-party British parliamentary report into anti-Semitism in the UK can be traced back to intensive lobbying by the Israeli government that began more than four years ago, in early 2002.

At that time, as Ariel Sharon was shredding the tattered remains of the Oslo accords by reinvading West Bank towns handed over to the Palestinian Authority in his destructive rampage known as Operation Defensive Shield, he drafted the Israeli media into the fray. Local newspapers began endlessly highlighting concerns about the rise of a "new anti-Semitism", a theme that was rapidly and enthusiastically taken up by the muscular Zionist lobby in the US.

It was not the first time, of course, that Israel had called on American loyalists to help it out of trouble. In Beyond Chutzpah, Norman Finkelstein documents the advent of claims about a new anti-Semitism to Israel's lacklustre performance in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. On that occasion, it was hoped, the charge of anti-Semitism could be deployed against critics to reduce pressure on Israel to return Sinai to Egypt and negotiate with the Palestinians.

Israel alerted the world to another wave of anti-Semitism in the early 1980s, just as it came under unprecedented criticism for its invasion and occupation of Lebanon. What distinguished the new anti-Semitism from traditional anti-Jewish racism of the kind that led to Germany's death camps, said its promoters, was that this time it embraced the progressive left rather than the far right.

The fresh claims about a new anti-Semitism began life in the spring of 2002, with the English-language website of Israel's respected liberal daily newspaper, Haaretz, flagging for many months a special online supplement of articles on the "New anti-Semitism", warning that the "age-old hatred" was being revived in Europe and America. The refrain was soon taken up the Jerusalem Post, a rightwing English-language newspaper regularly used by the Israeli establishment to shore up support for its policies among Diaspora Jews.
If there's anything new in this article it is that Cook goes on to show how the antisemitism allegation is being used to drum up support for an attack on Iran.

September 23, 2006

Ready to go to time to go

Ok, I have to go in a couple of minutes to get the train to Euston to get the special train to Manchester for the Stop the War demo.
•National Demonstration Manchester

•Saturday 23 September • 1pm
•Labour Party Conference


Organised by Stop the War Coalition, CND, BMI and MAB, and supported by Islam Channel, Friends of Al Aqsa, CWU, PCS, NUJ, TGWU, RMT, BECTU, UCU

Bring the streets of Baghdad to Manchester
The United Nations has just announced that 6600 people have been killed in Iraq in the last two months. This will be much lower than the actual figure, as many deaths go unreported because of the Muslim practice of burying the dead within 24 hours.

I've been up all night because it wasn't worth going to bed by the time I got home last night/this morning. Hopefully I'll sleep on the train. There probably won't be another post here until tomorrow.

Ok, chocks away!

September 22, 2006

Alexandra Simonon: an apology

It pains me to admit it but I might owe Alexandra Simonon, of the zionist smearsite, Engage, an apology. You see some time ago I discovered that she had the same IP address as an abusive and contrary troll by the name of Alf Green. I emailed them both to see what they (or she or he) would say and I got no reply. So I ran the post headed Alf Green and Engage's Alexandra Simonon, are they by any chance related? Well of course the clear implication was that I was saying that they are one and the same person. I did say that I might be wrong but I didn't mean it because I never imagined that I could have been.

Well get this. I didn't know that Alexandra Simonon and Dr David Hirsh are an item. Yes, an item. I don't know if they are married (still less do I care) but they live together and have children. Dr Hirsh even mentioned his children in a post once before thinking better of it. I'm sure it's common knowledge among Engageniks that the two are an item but I didn't know. So that's why I feel an apology is in order. I mean Alf Green might be a pseudonym that Dr Hirsh uses to abuse critics of Israel and not a pseudonym for his partner.

The problem here is that that makes this sock-puppetry even worse. You see, Alf Green, when he isn't simply trolling to make a mockery of comment facilities (he was involved in the harrassment that led to my setting up moderating on this site), supports David Hirsh's comments on other sites and even on the Engage site. I think you'll find that Engage effectively belongs to Dr Hirsh and Ms Simonon. Alf Green has been used to support the Euston Manifesto (as did David Hirsh and Alexandra Simonon), to rebuke even Engage supporters for mild dissent from the Engage line or style and someone told me today about two forays Alf made into the hallowed ground of the Inside Higher Education website. He saw fit to comment on two posts on the academic boycott of Israel campaign. Here's the first and here's the second.

Read them and you will see all the usual misrepresentations, non sequiturs, insults, projection, etc, so loved by the Engage people. But please do read them. You'll have to scroll down a bit to find Alf. He's after David Hirsh in both cases.

Scrolling down further to the place where you can post comments you will see that you have to give your email address "for verification purposes." So what do they do to verify? Do they email commentors? If so, what did Alf do? I think we should be told because this sort of thing must surely give academia a bad name. I don't think you have to be an academic to commment on the site but I'm fairly certain that you have to exist.

So now someone using the same IP as Dr Hirsh's partner has endorsed the Euston Manifesto, rebuked dissenters on Engage, called for people to be banned from Engage when the moderators (ie Hirsh and Simonon) do that routinely anyway, supported Simonon's article on Comment is free and supported Hirsh as required. The whole thing stinks, and that's leaving aside the sheer ineptitude of these two watchdogs against "antisemitism."

The disappearing Palestinian state

Here's a Ha'aretz report on the issuing of tenders for the construction of still more settler houses in the occupied West Bank.
The government is planning to build 164 new homes in three settlements in the West Bank, despite an obligation under a U.S.-backed peace road map to halt such construction on land Palestinians seek for a state.....

The latest tender follows one published on September 4 to build 690 new homes in the settlements of Maaleh Adumim and Beitar Ilit, the largest number of housing bids for settlement building offered since Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took office in May.
I remember Jonathan Freedland arguing in the Guardian that Israel's defeat in Lebanon meant that it will try that much harder to retain large swathes of the West Bank. Something like that anyway. Well, the 690 new settler houses in the article were ok'd by Olmert and Peretz before the defeat in Lebanon.

Liberal intellectuals?

Tony Judt, in the London Review of Books, laments and seeks to explain the decline and fall of the liberal intellectual in America and in Europe:
Why have American liberals acquiesced in President Bush’s catastrophic foreign policy? Why have they so little to say about Iraq, about Lebanon, or about reports of a planned attack on Iran? Why has the administration’s sustained attack on civil liberties and international law aroused so little opposition or anger from those who used to care most about these things? Why, in short, has the liberal intelligentsia of the United States in recent years kept its head safely below the parapet?

It wasn’t always so. On 26 October 1988, the New York Times carried a full-page advertisement for liberalism. Headed ‘A Reaffirmation of Principle’, it openly rebuked Ronald Reagan for deriding ‘the dreaded L-word’ and treating ‘liberals’ and ‘liberalism’ as terms of opprobrium. Liberal principles, the text affirmed, are ‘timeless. Extremists of the right and of the left have long attacked liberalism as their greatest enemy. In our own time liberal democracies have been crushed by such extremists. Against any encouragement of this tendency in our own country, intentional or not, we feel obliged to speak out.’

The advertisement was signed by 63 prominent intellectuals, writers and businessmen: among them Daniel Bell, J.K. Galbraith, Felix Rohatyn, Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Irving Howe and Eudora Welty. These and other signatories – the economist Kenneth Arrow, the poet Robert Penn Warren – were the critical intellectual core, the steady moral centre of American public life. But who, now, would sign such a protest? Liberalism in the United States today is the politics that dares not speak its name. And those who style themselves ‘liberal intellectuals’ are otherwise engaged. As befits the new Gilded Age, in which the pay ratio of an American CEO to that of a skilled worker is 412:1 and a corrupted Congress is awash in lobbies and favours, the place of the liberal intellectual has been largely taken over by an admirable cohort of ‘muck-raking’ investigative journalists – Seymour Hersh, Michael Massing and Mark Danner, writing in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books.

The collapse of liberal self-confidence in the contemporary US can be variously explained. In part it is a backwash from the lost illusions of the 1960s generation, a retreat from the radical nostrums of youth into the all-consuming business of material accumulation and personal security. The signatories of the New York Times advertisement were born in most cases many years earlier, their political opinions shaped by the 1930s above all. Their commitments were the product of experience and adversity and made of sterner stuff. The disappearance of the liberal centre in American politics is also a direct outcome of the deliquescence of the Democratic Party. In domestic politics liberals once believed in the provision of welfare, good government and social justice. In foreign affairs they had a longstanding commitment to international law, negotiation, and the importance of moral example. Today, a spreading me-first consensus has replaced vigorous public debate in both arenas. And like their political counterparts, the critical intelligentsia once so prominent in American cultural life has fallen silent.
He also discusses Israel's influence on intellectual liberalism's demise and its role in setting precedents for America's foreign policy today.

September 21, 2006

Judge awards ownership of Tel Aviv to Arabs!

Sorry, not Tel Aviv and not Arabs. The city, reported in the Independent, is Perth in Australia and the people are called aborigines or indigenous Australians.
Aborigines have been declared the traditional owners of Perth and given the right to hunt and fish in the area, in the first successful claim by indigenous people to an Australian state capital.

The landmark ruling by the Federal Court astonished Aboriginal groups, with one community leader, Noel Pearson, welcoming the "absolutely extraordinary" decision. The judgment opens the way for similar claims over cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.
And Tel Aviv and ....

September 20, 2006

Israel and the Kurds

Someone at my work today told me that there was a BBC Newsnight item last night about Israel training Kurds inside Iraq. I've been hearing about Israel and the Kurds for years now so I didn't think too much of it. Now I've received a comment to the post below saying the same thing. So here's the beeb on Israel and the Kurds:
The BBC has obtained evidence that Israelis have been giving military training to Kurds in northern Iraq.

A report on the BBC TV programme Newsnight showed Israeli experts in Kurdish areas of north Iraq, drilling soldiers in shooting techniques.

Kurdish officials have refused to comment on the report and Israel has denied it knows of any involvement.

The revelation is set to cause enormous problems for the Kurds, not only in Iraq but also in the wider region.

Inside Iraq as well as in the wider region Israel is seen as an enemy of Arabs and Muslims.
Ok skip to near the end:
Ever since the US-led invasion of Iraq began over three years ago, Arab journalists have been speaking of Israelis operating inside the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

They said this was evidence that toppling Saddam Hussein was only the first chapter in a wider American-Israeli conspiracy to eliminate threats to their strategic interests and re-draw the map of the Middle East.
Now this is worrying. I'm not saying that Kurds and other non-Arab peoples in the Middle East don't have legitimate grievances and aspirations. They do as surely as Arabs do. But it does worry me how they are exploited by outside forces. In fact this isn't that far from my concerns about Sudan/Darfur. I really don't know where it will all lead. But I think we can look forward to various zionist groups calling for the break-up of Iraq. This of course will upset Iran. Who cares about Iran? Well, not the zionist movement. But it might upset Turkey too. Now who cares about Turkey? The zionists probably don't care any more about Turkey than they do about Iran but Turkey is an ally of Israel. I'm still not sure where this all leads but Turkey might be a constraint on zionist ambitions in that part of the Middle East. Of course that's without getting into the fact that if the Kurds were to achieve anything with the zionists in tow whatever it is will be resented across the Arab and, presumably, the Muslim world.

Independent letters on Israel

My over-reliance on google means that I sometimes miss even the Independent's front page. For those that don't know, the Independent is a (used to be) broadsheet. It's market is the liberal minded end of the same UK market as for the Times, Telegraph and Guardian. Its unique selling proposition is its in-yer-face front page as shown here.

It's had a few covers recently on Israel and Lebanon. Also it had a crop of letters recently some of which likened Israel to nazi Germany. Well now they have published a letter from a chap complaining that that is why he (and indeed other "zionist Jews") doesn't buy the Independent anymore.
Sir: Like most Zionist Jews, I have been unable to read The Independent for a number of years. Your headline "Gaza: the children killed in a war the world doesn't want to know about" (19 September) reminds me why.

At a time when the UN is meeting to discuss the crisis in Darfur, where there are fears of genocide, and there is talk of a constructive dialogue being established between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, The Independent returns to one-sided Israel-bashing in the most emotive of ways - devoting its entire front page to Israel killing children, a subject used throughout the years to marginalise and dehumanise Jews.


But there is an expression of gratitude from one reader:
Sir: I cannot thank you enough for your recent campaign to bring attention to the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, nor encourage you enough to continue this campaign so the world cannot say it didn't know about the desperate situation in Gaza.

I just returned home to the US from doing human rights work in Palestine, and it is absolutely maddening to me how the US media never tires of defending and making excuses for Israel's crimes against Palestinians.

I understand that speaking out against Israel's gross violations of human rights ensures you an onslaught of criticism. However, you must believe in the urgency of your work and continue with your campaign to bring attention to the plight of Gaza.


And then we're back to zionist mythology:
Sir: Harry Perry's paean of hate against Israel (letter, 13 September) offers scant hope for any peaceful resolution of the conflict and misses many vital points.

Israel exists by decision of the League of Nations and the UN. The partition boundaries of 1948 were set on the basis of land purchase by the Jews, and their extension occurred because of unsuccessful Arab aggression. Few countries have such a claim to their territory.

I am sorry about the plight of the displaced Palestinian Arabs, as are many Israelis, but over half the Israeli population is descended from Jewish refugees from Arab lands, who were resettled at Israeli expense.

Mr Perry might like to reflect that the increase in oil revenues to Arab states and Iran this year amounts to about $140,000 per refugee. If the notably under-populated Arab states had compassion for their compatriots, every refugee could live in a palace.


I've said before that, as far as I know, the Independent is the only UK newspaper with a Jewish editor. I think so anyway.

September 19, 2006

Peace, propaganda and the promised land II

Here's the video I said I'd like to host but didn't know how to. Thanks to servant I do now. I think simplicity is part of my blog's charm. It might even be all of its charm so don't expect too many videos in future. And bear in mind that this video is American. I think there's a bit of hand wringing to the effect, "why can't our media be more like the BBC?" But apart from that it is worth a see and apparently there's a DVD you can buy which is presumably better quality than the online effort.

The DVD can be got from the Media Education Foundation.

Black and white in Darfur?

Here's a comment piece from Jonathan Steele in today's Guardian about Darfur and the clamour for yet another western intervention:
It is true that the government, as often happens in asymmetrical war, overreacted in its use of force when rebels attacked. The so-called janjaweed militias that Khartoum organised and armed did not distinguish between civilians and guerrilla fighters. They burned huts, raped women and put tens of thousands of civilians to flight, forcing them across the border into Chad or into camps inside Darfur. But the rebels also committed atrocities, a fact that was rarely reported since it upset the black-and-white moral image that many editors preferred.

In most wars, governments spin and the media (at least sometimes) seek the truth. Darfur reversed the trend: the media spun while governments were more sophisticated. In spite of efforts to describe the killing in Darfur as genocide, neither the UN nor the EU went along with this description. It was not because of moral myopia, but because they understood the difference between a brutal civil war and a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing. Darfur is not Rwanda. Only the US accepted the genocide description, though this seemed a concession to domestic lobbies rather than a matter of conviction. Washington never followed through with the forcible intervention in Darfur that international law requires once a finding of genocide is made.
You might wonder why the clamour is solely against the government of Sudan and not simply for a ceasefire. Look at this post on the Engage site. Apparently, Sudan is an issue for the watchdogs against antisemitism.

Sudan gets a passing mention in an article about Israel by Gabriel Piterberg in the latest London Review of Books:
only when Israel raises money from American Jews do we Israelis claim that the entire Arab world is a united juggernaut determined to drive poor little Israel into the sea. In fact, the Middle East is a jigsaw puzzle of peoples and cultures. Minority regimes run Syria and Iraq. King Hussein and his Bedouin are a minority in Jordan, outnumbered by Palestinians. Sudan has a large animist and Christian minority. Algeria and Morocco have large Berber minorities. If Israel could succeed in contacting all these groups which oppose Arabism and Islam, then it could break the Islamic world into pieces.
That passage brings us closer than most commentary on the subject to explaining why so many zionists are keen to campaign on the issue of Darfur.

September 18, 2006

Israel's remote killers

Patrick Cockburn, on the front page of the Independent, reports how Israel's cluster bombs are killing Lebanese civilians at a rate of four a day since the war that it claims has not ended.
Every day, some of the million bomblets which were fired by Israeli artillery during the last three days of the conflict kill four people in southern Lebanon and wound many more.

The casualty figures will rise sharply in the next month as villagers begin the harvest, picking olives from trees whose leaves and branches hide bombs that explode at the smallest movement. Lebanon's farmers are caught in a deadly dilemma: to risk the harvest, or to leave the produce on which they depend to rot in the fields.
Inside the paper, Thomas Nash calls for cluster bombs to be outlawed.

September 17, 2006

Israel boycott proposed from home of the boycott*

I've been sent this report from the Irish Times (subscription only) by a woman who has her own blog here. Anyway here's the report:
A group of 61 academics has called for the introduction of a moratorium on support to Israeli academic institutions both at Irish and European level, in light of the ongoing situation in Lebanon and Palestinian territories.

In a letter published in today's Irish Times, the 61 signatories noted there is "widespread" international condemnation of Israel's policy of "violent repression" of the Palestinians in the occupied territories and its "aggression against the people of Lebanon".

"The Israeli government appears impervious to moral appeals fro world leaders and to long-standing United Nations resolutions," the letter states.

"We feel it is time to heed the Palestinian call to take practical action to pressure Israel to comply with international law and basic human rights norms."

Among the signatories to the letter are Prof Ivana Bacik of the School of Law at TCD, Dr Kieran Allen of the School of Sociology at UCD, Prof Brian Maguire, head of the faculty of fine art at NCAD, Prof Seamus Dean at the Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Dr Bill McSweeney of the Irish School of Ecumenics and Prof John Coakley of the School of Politics in UCD.

The letter states that many national and European cultural and research institutions regard Israel as a European state for the purposes of awarding grants and contracts.. This includes those funded by the EU, it says.

"We call for a moratorium on any further such support to Israeli academic institutions, at both national and European levels," the letter states.

"We urge our fellow academics to support this moratorium by refraining, where possible, from further joint collaborations with Israeli academic institutions. Such a moratorium should continue until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of Palestinian territories."
We have a mutual friend called Liz who has a blog here.

If you're wondering about the admittedly clunky headline go here.

Zionist and anti-zionist Irish republicans

Here's an article in Ha'aretz, tiresomely having to point out that criticism of Israel isn't antisemitic at the same time as detailing some interesting facts about the overlap between the Irish republican movement and the zionist movement.
Israelis will never be secure until they admit their responsibility to make restitution for the crimes of their state against the Palestinians. Israelis should beware of false friends who tempt them to avoid this responsibility by misrepresenting the critics of Israeli policies as anti-Semites.

A salient example of this phenomenon appeared in Haaretz last week, in an article ("One hundred years of hostility," Sept. 8), which alleged that Sinn Fein was and is anti-Semitic, and tried to smear the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) by association. Belonging to no party, I will leave it to Sinn Fein to defend itself. However, those Zionist Irish Jews who were prominent supporters of Sinn Fein would be surprised at last week's characterization.

In his autobiography ("Living History"), Chaim Herzog wrote "My father [Yitzhak Herzog, later first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel] was an open partisan of the Irish cause. The outstanding Jewish leader in the revolution was Robert Briscoe."

Eamon de Valera, president of Sinn Fein from 1917 to 1926, was hidden in Rabbi Herzog's home on several occasions during the revolution. Briscoe, who made several trips to Germany to buy arms, was one of the hard-line Sinn Feiners, who followed de Valera in rejecting the 1921 treaty with Britain - an event which triggered civil war in the new state. Briscoe was also a Zionist who, while spending 38 years in the Irish parliament, found time to visit Poland in 1938 as an agent of Jabotinsky and to raise funds for the Irgun in New York in 1939, using his stature as a Jewish fighter for Irish independence. De Valera became a life-long friend of Herzog, meeting David Ben-Gurion in Herzog's Jerusalem home in 1950 and being honored by the Irish Jewish community in the mid-1960s by the planting of a forest in Israel.

In its early years, Israel received a great deal of sympathy in Ireland. While Briscoe's prominent place in Irish politics may have played a role, the two main reasons were a fellow-feeling for Jews as another people who had experienced religious persecution and ignorance about the dispossession of the Palestinians. As the truth about 1948 became known and the horrors of the post-1967 occupation became apparent, attitudes changed.

Coincidentally, the first English-language article to debunk the myth that the Palestinian refugees of 1948 had left on the orders of Arab radio broadcasts ("The Other Exodus," by Erskine Childers, The Spectator, May 1961) was written by the grandson and namesake of a prominent Sinn Feiner, who used his yacht to import arms from Germany in 1914 and who took the same side as Briscoe in the Irish Civil War.

The IPSC reflects the fact that Irish people, having experienced settler colonialism, understand the suffering of Palestinians who endure it today. However, IPSC membership also includes Israeli Jews and Palestinians living in Ireland. Moreover, far from being "a subset of the Republican movement," as was claimed, the Belfast branch has Unionist members and supporters.

Our shared goal is universal human rights. We want all who have the right to reside between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, including refugees, to enjoy that right in peace. Unfortunately, many Israelis think that Palestinians should have less entitlement in their homeland than Jews who migrated to Palestine since 1882. The IPSC thinks both ethnic groups should enjoy all rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We have no view on the future organization of the territory. That is a decision for all those who are Palestinian or Israeli or both, including refugees.
Let's have that last paragraph again:
Our shared goal is universal human rights. We want all who have the right to reside between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, including refugees, to enjoy that right in peace. Unfortunately, many Israelis think that Palestinians should have less entitlement in their homeland than Jews who migrated to Palestine since 1882. The IPSC thinks both ethnic groups should enjoy all rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We have no view on the future organization of the territory. That is a decision for all those who are Palestinian or Israeli or both, including refugees.
Now why is that so controversial?

JC laments media's neglect of "antisemitism" report

Alex Brummer in last week's Jewish Chronicle complains that the Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism has been under-reported in the mainstream media. Norman Finkelstein has suggested that a mere glance at the "witness" list is enough to guess at he motivation behind the report and Michael Rosen has stuck the boot into to it too. Richard Bartholomew offered a more balanced critique that I linked to here.

Alex Brummer claims that:
Only the Times, which claimed credit for spurring MPs into action after first reporting a surge in antisemitism, did the report full justice with a tabloid page of coverage, the main points summarised and a leading article.
And that
The Telegraph’s religion correspondent John Petre also produced a page-lead story noting that the “acts of violence and abuse are an affront to any society”
But that:
The two papers which cover the Middle East most comprehensively — the Guardian and the Independent — gave the report only the most cursory coverage
Now look at the report and note the criticisms of Finkelstein, Rosen and Bartholomew. I'd say that those latter two (used to be) broadsheets actually did the Jewish people a favour by being so dismissive of such a load of tosh clearly designed to protect Israel from criticism.

September 15, 2006

Jewish values?

Here's a report in the Jerusalem Post, lamenting the fact that some Jews apply what they see as Jewish values to humanity as a whole and not just to their fellow Jews.
The good news is, then, that Jewish education works. A generation of young Jews around the world have internalized the message that "being Jewish" means fixing the world in its totality, without regard to race, religion or nationality.

The bad news for the Jewish state and people is that this generation of American Jews have taken from their education that acting Jewish means doing justice without regard to nationality or peoplehood.

While it feels good to support all peoples and all victims, the nature of the world in which we live in - where Hizbullah amassed thousands of rockets and attacked Israel; where Iran edges towards nuclear weapons; and where over a third of Israel's Jews, and, surprisingly, 20 percent of New York Jews live under or close to the poverty line - makes an ethics of universalism simply irresponsible at the moment.

It is at times like these that we who care about our families need remember the inherent obligation of peoplehood: Justice means providing full support to those whom you live with, those who would die for you, and the people whom you came from, no matter what the world thinks.

THE NEW JEWS seem to have forgotten this obligation. Shaped by the Diaspora, educated into multiculturalism and a universalistic morality, these young Jews equate their Jewish identity with global social justice. Even at a time of war they organize a benefit concert for all the war's victims, even if it means necessarily reducing the amount of aid provided to those who sacrificed for our welfare.
Where will it all end?

Peace, propaganda and the promised land

Someone has emailed this link to me. I don't know how to host videos just yet so follow the link and let me know what you think. And if you can tell me how to host a video that would nice too!

The video is largely about zionist propaganda and how it infests the western media. It also debunks the same. I'm writing this as I view the video so I haven't seen the whole thing yet. I just heard that CNN has ordered its "journalists" to call the colony of Gilo, a "Jewish neighbourhood."

So go ahead, watch the whole thing.

I have to issue a health warning here. The video is criticising the American media. The BBC is coming out far better than it deserves. Cue Orla Guerin.

September 14, 2006

Woops! Blair didn't call for a ceasefire

Here's the front page article from today's Independent:
A Foreign Office minister has conceded that Tony Blair's refusal to call for a ceasefire during 34 days of slaughter in Lebanon may have been a mistake.

The admission by Kim Howells, minister for the Middle East, reflects the growing worries of senior figures in government that Mr Blair's defence of US foreign policy at every turn is damaging his administration at home and abroad.

Mr Howells also conceded that the decision to oppose - with the US - the international demand for an immediate ceasefire was not properly explained to the British public.

Mr Blair's isolated stance is seen as a major reason for the revolt that forced him to announce last week that he would be standing down within 12 months.
Curious stuff. Kim Howells used to be chairman of the Labour Friends of Israel. Now he's saying that Blair's support for the racist war criminals of the State of Israel has cost him his premiership. One question, since he would have been ignored anyway, why didn't Blair call for a ceasefire? He's marked out as a serial liar anyway. No one would have taken him seriously. So why didn't he do it?

September 13, 2006

Linda Grant on anti-zionism

I don't want to get drawn into discussion on the provisional wing of Engage, ie Harry's Place, so can someone explain this pearl of wisdom from zionism's elder stateswoman, Linda Grant?
Anti-Zionists point out, quite reasonably, that they they are entitled to have a divergent opinion on Israel without being accused of anti-semitism. I don't disagree with that. However it remains the case that since the end of WWII most Jews have been Zionists. If you have a politics, which the SWP does, of demonizing Zionists, of saying that they're as bad the Nazis,. that they are the source of all the trouble in the world, then whether you mean to or not, whether you think you are taking on a political ideology which exists independently of Jews, de facto, you are making the case against the Jewish majority.

The charactersitic of this form of anti-Zionism is that it seldom has any interest in doing the parctical work of making solutions to the conflict that guard the rights of Jews in a future post-Zionist state. The responses are a pollyanaish belief that since human natuire is essentially good, it will all work out; or a shrug of indifference. I find it interesting that those who believe that human nature is benign, who believe that after all their suffering the Palestinians will treat the Jews fairly and equally, do not fail to point out that after the Holocaust, the Jews took on the characteristics of the perpetrators. So suffering will ennoble the Palestinians, despite it apparently doing the opposite to the Jews. It must be the fault of the Jews, then, that they were not ennobled.
I'm sure it's worth discussing in a serious forum which is why I think it's pointless trying to discuss it at Harry's Place. But Linda raises an interesting point. She seems to be acknowledging that some bad stuff has happened to the Palestinians at the hands of Jews. She thinks that most Jews support the right of Jews to do that stuff. She rejects the idea that having suffered, the Palestinians will not seek revenge on Jews and that therefore Israel has to be a state that denies justice to non-Jews. She uses the fact that the Jewish victims of the nazis in Europe have been beastly to the Palestinians as evidence of the fact that victim communities can be (or indeed are) vindictive to their persecutors. She doesn't notice that most Israelis engaged in wrongdoing to Palestinians are not holocaust survivors. She also doesn't notice that cruelty to the Palestinians (even if it was by holocaust survivors) does not amount to vindictiveness towards a persecutor because the Palestinians were not the persecutors in the holocaust. The nazis and their allies were. So, why is Israel so cruel to the Palestinians? Anti-zionists suggest it is because of the colonial settler nature of the state of Israel. Linda Grant suggests that anti-zionists are saying that it is because the colonial settlers are Jewish that they are cruel. What does Linda Grant say? The corollary of her point would be to suggest that non-Jewish colonial settlers would not be or are not cruel. This isn't born out by history or the present but Linda Grant doesn't get into that comparative stuff.

And that's all without getting into the idea that the SWP believes that Israel "is the source of all the trouble in the world."

The main thing I noticed is that Linda is happy to use the expression "zionist" without the quotes on Harry's Place, but when she is playing the war-weary elder stateswoman, usually she puts it in quotes as if it is somehow euphemistic.

But anyway, whilst Linda is engaging in yet another smear against anti-zionists, I feel that what she has said deserves discussion in a forum that doesn't lend itself to the ad hominem attacks and bullying that we find on the Engage and Harry's Place sites.

So please somebody, have a look at the quote above and tell me what she's on about. I've even turned the moderator off but remember, her main motifs are name dropping, recalling her past articles in the Guardian and claiming that she has been misrepresented. And she dines with libel lawyers, so be careful now.

Finkelstein on that "antisemitism" report

Norman Finkelstein notes the witness list appended to the "antisemitism" report. I should say here that the only reports I am seeing on this stupid report are reports saying how stupid it is. A friend of mine told me that it got a positive report from some "Anglicans for Israel" hack at the Times but I can't be bothered to look.
Download the Word doc original here.

A central thesis of my book Beyond Chutzpah is that whenever Israel faces a public relations debacle its apologists sound the alarm that a "new anti-Semitism" is upon us. So, predictably, just after Israel faced another image problem due to its murderous destruction of Lebanon, a British all-party parliamentary group led by notorious Israel-firster Denis MacShane MP (Labor) released yet another report alleging a resurgence of anti-Semitism (Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into Antisemitism, September 2006). To judge by the witnesses (David Cesarani, Lord Janner, Oona King, Emanuele Ottolenghi, Melanie Phillips) and sources (MEMRI, Holocaust Education Trust) cited in the body of the report, much time and money could have been saved had it just been contracted out to the Israel Foreign Ministry.[1]

1. The report's statement that "we received no evidence of the accusation of anti-Semitism being misused by mainstream British Jewish community organizations and leaders" (para. 79) perhaps speaks more to the selection of the witnesses than the reality.
Thanks to bimsherman in the comments for drawing my attention to this.

Michael Rosen on that "antisemitism" report

Here's Michael Rosen in the most recent edition of Socialist Worker on that "antisemitism" report. Headed Antisemitism accusations - an attempt to smear anti-Zionists into silence, Michael Rosen points out that, far from being about antisemitism, this is about silencing dissent on Israel and it is part of a Europe wide movement to do so.
Last week saw the publication of a report by a group of MPs called the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into Antisemitism. It is an important document to confront, because it is part of a Europe-wide attempt to widen the definition of antisemitism to include root and branch criticism of Israel.

So, even as it highlights a form of racism that is on the increase in Britain, it prepares the way for what could be legal action against people who are opposed to the racism of Israel.

We need to be clear about what we’re talking about, so here are some definitions and distinctions:

* Judaism is a religion observed in varying ways all over the world. All people who observe Judaism are Jews, but not all Jews observe Judaism. Those who don’t are usually called “secular Jews”.
* Zionism is a political creed that created the nation state of Israel, which Zionists describe as the “Jewish homeland”. Plenty of non-Jews are Zionists (such as most members of Western governments) in the sense that they are in favour of Israel being this Jewish homeland.

What’s more, it is quite clear that there is a real material difference between those Jews who take the creed at face value and go and live in Israel and those Jews who support Israel while preferring to live elsewhere.
* Anti-Zionism is the political creed opposed to those who created and now run the state of Israel.
* Jews, as a worldwide phenomenon, are neither purely a religion, nor a political movement. This is because many people who describe themselves as Jews either do not practise the religion, nor are they active Zionists.

This leaves a proportion of people who are Jews either because they describe themselves as that, or because an outside authority claims that they are.

The reasons usually given are that either or both of their parents are Jews, and this in turn may well be wrapped up with an idea of “Jewishness” which may include speaking Jewish languages and slang, having a taste for Jewish food or music, following Jewish festivals and the like.
* Antisemitism is racism towards Jews - verbal or physical abuse, discrimination or prejudice. As with all racisms, antisemitism has appeared in many different places at different times in history and reached its most terrible form in the planned, industrialised and scientific genocide of Jews carried out by Hitler’s Nazis.

The parliamentary report uses all these terms. But in one key area it has blurred the distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Here it is:

“Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context could include... denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour.”

So if I should write that the Jews have every right to self-determination, but not if it is at the expense of others (as is the case with Israel), it would seem that now I, a Jew who is utterly opposed to antisemitism, am guilty of antisemitism.

Worryingly, this is part of a working definition of antisemitism proposed by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia. The writers of this parliamentary report recommend that this definition is “adopted and promoted by the government and law enforcement agencies”.

The message is clear - anti-Zionists beware. Criticism of Israeli government policies will be permitted, but if you attack the core creed of Zionism, then we’ll call in the law.

The excuse for such a drastic change in the approach to antisemitism is the claim that people are using criticism of Israel as a cover for their hatred of Jews. The two main groups who come under suspicion for this are ­liberal or left wing groupings and some Muslims.

What is curious here is that, in my experience, if people both hate Jews and the state of Israel then they say so. One of the classic forms of antisemitism is to say that “the Jews” are in a “conspiracy” to take over the world, or that they are running the world.

Sometimes, they may say there’s a “Zionist” conspiracy to run the world - but that’s hardly a cunning disguise for a hatred of Jews.

Within this bit of conspiracy theory is the antisemitic idea that “the Jews” or “Israel” or “Zionists” run the US. Again, the people who believe this say so.

It’s a nonsense because the people who run US capitalism and the people who defend what it calls “America’s strategic interests” (often just a euphemism for “raw materials and markets we want to get our hands on”) are simply US capitalists, their officials, allies and armies.

This report highlights the fact that this kind of antisemitism has increased, but it confuses the matter by suggesting that it is hidden within criticism of Israel, rather than being nakedly obvious.

The effect of this is to put pressure on those who criticise Israeli policies - such as the butchery going on in Gaza - and give them cause to wonder if they have been caught up in what the report calls “antisemitic discourse”.

Meanwhile, the report has collated the most up to date statistics on hostility and violence directed towards Jews simply and only because they are Jews. It shows that this is on the increase.

But how much of this is old European style antisemitism (the kind with the bloodiest record) and how much comes out of the Middle East is not clear. We have to fight the merging of these very different kinds of racism.

For many of us, our experience has been that when we’ve marched against those who would desecrate Jewish cemeteries, we haven’t been supported by the Jewish establishment, but when we’ve spoken out against Israel, we’ve been vilified and in some cases threatened.

Even so, we have to go on opposing hatred and violence towards Jews while insisting that we have the right to oppose the hatred and violence meted out by Israel on the Palestinians.
There follows a link to an article by Anindya Bhattacharyya in the same paper titled Muddying the waters on antisemitism.

September 12, 2006


I have new notifier for those who like to be updated on posts to Jews sans frontieres. I had 78 before I transferred from the now defunct "bloglet" to Feedblitz. Some names looked a bit bogus to me but a good fifty have transferred over. So, if you want to be notified of new posts, go to the right margin, scroll down to just below the sitemeter and type your email address in the bar.

September 11, 2006

Deadly retribution?

Here's a crop of letters in today's Independent. All of them are critical of Israel so here they all are:
Israel will face a deadly retribution

Sir: I cannot fully express my outrage at the treatment meted out by Israel to the people of Palestine ("A people betrayed by the world", 8 September).

Since 1967, these wretched refugees have endured the most inhuman and degrading lives at the hands of a barbaric and brutal Israeli government, a government encouraged and armed to the teeth by the biggest bully in the playground, the US, and by repeated UK governments.

I lose count of how many UN Security Council resolutions to desist which this artificially created state has ignored. Likewise, the 4th Geneva Convention has been cynically dismissed. Yet when these refugees find ways to express their anger - to feebly fight back by peaceful or terror means - they are labelled collectively as terrorists and punished with appalling collective cruelty.

It may have been hoped that a people who suffered so dearly at the hands of Nazi Germany would behave with compassion, and value human life, but the opposite would appear to have happened, with the Israeli army nearly rivalling the cruelties of the Third Reich.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinians are imprisoned in their homes. Whole towns are now prison blocks, each home a cell. Agriculture and most jobs have been destroyed, power, water, food and medical care cut off. Many homes and official buildings have been razed. Political leaders are kidnapped. Thousands of civilians are held without charge for years. Random airstrikes and shelling maim and kill unarmed civilians, by night and day. Every day.

It is amazing that this puppet state of the US believes its actions will bring it peace and harmony, secure borders and everlasting economic growth. Palestine must survive. Can the Israeli government not see how it is worsening its own position by ensuring the hated of many, many generations to come in the Arab and Muslim world? If it succeeds in wiping out the Palestinians, how much worse will this hatred become? Can they not see that they are the lead player in the creation of a never-ending cycle of East vs West turmoil?

I am white, aged 53, married with children, and I have a good job and life in Britain. If I feel the way I do, then how must people feel in Palestine, how must their friends, relatives and those of similar backgrounds and faith feel? Does nobody ask why people are resorting to terrorism? Or why British governments do nothing, or even encourage this slaughter of the innocents, this ethnic cleansing?

There must be an immediate pullout by Israel to the pre-1967 borders. There must be full repair of the Palestinian infrastructure and society, and full support financially and spiritually by the "free world", and Jerusalem must be declared an international city. This will not remove the hatred, but at least it will help to stop the situation worsening. If Israel continues as it is, there is no telling how severe will be the retribution it is dealt by those who fight by unconventional means. A call for peace and justice is not anti-Semitism. It is humanity.



Sir: The smokescreen of "The Global War on Terror" slavishly adopted by the present government, with the convenience of parliamentary recess, means domestic attention has studiously avoided the plight of the people of Gaza.

The main casualty of the war on terror has been loss of adherence to the Geneva Conventions. The British and US coalition cannot guarantee successful intervention with Israel for delivery of relief convoys, safe passage of civilians, evacuation of the wounded, safety of journalists and implementation of UN resolutions.

President George Bush's recent admission of illegal imprisonment on European soil is to further condemn his allies in their complicity in the war crimes Israel is committing. To criticise Israel is not to be anti-Semitic. The Orthodox Jewish Rabbis of Neturei Karta regularly express their support for the Palestinian people and decry Israel's activities, in the understanding that Zionism perpetuates anti-Semitism .

Last month, Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli government, stated they had never intended to go into Lebanon because they were "totally involved in Gaza". He did not elaborate.

If we too do not become totally involved in the plight of Gaza, the fate of 1.5 million people will be a further stain on the collective British conscience. It is imperative that the British Government demand urgent and immediate cessation of Israeli atrocities and relief for the stricken Palestinians. This would make the Prime Minister's visit to Israel worthwhile.



Sir: The Independent has headlined a real concern which MPs should attend to, rather than the date when Tony Blair starts writing his memoirs.

In May, 97 MPs signed Early Day Motion 2041, protesting about the EU freezing of funding to the Palestine Administration. That statement was a prediction that an already impoverished population would be facing unprecedented hardship yet voices of reason were ignored and Israel has been allowed to act as it has, including bombing civilians, without a murmur from our government.

There is no justification for the imprisonment of a nation, and this government and the EU have to revert to aiding the Palestinian people, whoever they elect as their government, because the alternative is genocide.



Sir: A year or so ago, an English Jewish journalist compared the treatment by Israel of Arabs in the Gaza Strip with the treatment of Polish Jews by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940-44. She was duly vilified by the Zionist propaganda machine.

I have just finished reading Beyond These Walls: Escaping the Warsaw Ghetto, a Young Girl's Story, by Jenina Bauman. Throughout her story of conditions in the ghetto, I was struck by the parallels with present events in Palestine, the progressive tightening of the boundaries, restriction of movement, destruction of water and electricity supplies, random killings, and restrictions of food supplies. It is long past time that this government, the United Nations and responsible governments throughout the world made it clear to Israel and the United States that this must stop.

I write as a half-American, born in America who was proud of this half of his ancestry until very recently. No more.



Sir: My dictionary defines genocide as "the policy of deliberately killing a nationality or ethnic group". This, it seems, is Israel's policy towards the Palestinians, who are being systematically humiliated, degraded, deprived of their livelihood, starved, and killed. It is revolting, and it is being done in front of the world.

Historically, Britain has a responsibility in this; we helped carve up the Ottoman Empire, and aided theft of Palestinian territory. No Balfour spoke for the Palestinians. Assuming responsibility and taking decisions lays the consequences of these actions on our conscience. Yet we continue to collude with Israel's policies, and allow Israel trading privileges and concessions with Europe, while denying promised financial support to Palestinians.

As for the arrogant and obscene decision to use Lebanon as bait, to try to provoke Iran and Syria to retaliate, shame on all of us.


I hate that "not in my name" stuff.

September 10, 2006

The courage of the Israeli Air Force?

I've just been sent this link to Ha'aretz. Ze'ev Schiff is arguing that the Israeli airforce (IAF) performed best out of all of Israel's forces. But how so? Cop this:
The last war was unusual in its fairly ideal conditions for the IAF: It faced no opposing air force; the enemy lacked surface-to-air missiles and had only a small number of anti-aircraft guns; the battle took place close to bases that were well-defended and available at all times; and the IAF had time on its side.
In other words, the IAF performs best when it is unopposed by those gun thingies. The zionists must be so proud of their airborne heroes!

Save the children of Gaza

I just keyed "Israel" into google and Save the Children was the top site, above the news items. It's the not the first time that this has happened. I'm guessing they pay for that but who knows?
Gaza - Children continue to suffer as rich world meets to discuss aid.
As donor governments gather in Sweden to talk about what further humanitarian assistance is needed for Gaza, children in this densely populated area face another day of extreme hardship and suffering, due to a combination of Israeli restrictions and the ongoing freeze on funding imposed by the very governments who are meeting to talk about finding more.

Since 28th June, 44 children have been killed, electricity and water infrastructure has been destroyed and humanitarian assistance has been routinely blocked from getting to those people who need it. Since 15th August, for example, no humanitarian aid at all has been allowed through some gates and even humanitarian workers have had their movements heavily restricted.

Sue Smith, Regional Director of Save the Children UK, said, "Gaza needs more financial support, but donor governments and Israel must first and immediately loosen the stranglehold they have on funds that already exist.

Because of the freeze on aid and tax revenues, and the detention of PA ministers, basic health and sanitation services are collapsing, threatening a public health disaster, and the education system is in chaos from top to bottom.
It's not all about Gaza. It goes on to appeal for Lebanon too and even for Israel.

There was another thing I noticed on google this morning. When I searched for "Israel," the second item, again above the news items, was a site called which seems to be a site for youngsters to discuss current affairs. Well it claimed to lead to a discussion on Israel-Hizbollah. When I clicked the link it led here, a page that "does not exist" or "may have been deleted." Now it doesn't even appear on the google list. This Newz Crew thing looks like a worthy project but are they restricting discussions? Is Israel being kept off the agenda? I think you'd have to register to find out.

UPDATE - I've now found that newscrew snippet again on google. It's now down the right margin under "sponsored links" and it looks like this:
Israel-Hezbollah Conflict
Is it getting out of hand?
Teens debate the heated issue.
So, follow the link and .... nothing! Why's that then?

September 09, 2006

Richard Bartholomew on that "antisemitism" report

This is a bit upsetting. I have plenty of time for the blog, Bartholomew's notes on religion and so it was with some dismay that I saw that Richard Bartholomew found anything to commend the recent "Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism." I am grateful that he read it because a mere glance at the "witnesses" had me reaching for the sick bag. And he does eventually get round to criticising it in his own understated way:
However, this is where the report becomes problematic:
The EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism, quoted in full on page 6, identifies some of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel:

• Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, for example by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

• Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

• Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (for example claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis.

• Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

• Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

The EUMC Definition goes on to state that criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

But how exactly do we define “double standards”? What does “self-determination” mean? For example, I support the right of return for Palestinian refugees, but I’m told by some that that would dilute the Jewish character of state, and therefore undermine Jewish “self-determination”. I think that’s probably the case, but I don’t see why justice for Palestinians should therefore be denied, since I would not accept this as a legitimate ground for my own dispossession. Does that make me an anti-Semite? And the “double standards” complaint is often no more than a smokescreen. Rather than deal with a criticism of Israel, the response is often: “ahh, but what about Islamist terrorism and anti-Semitism? Why do you criticise Israel when China occupies Tibet? etc. etc.” Yes, those injustices should also be opposed, and on some sort of scale may be “worse” than Israel’s behaviour. But why should it be necessary to reel off a litany of all these other ills before one can reasonably expect a complaint about Israel to be taken seriously?

The report goes on to quote Shalom Lappin:

Professor Shalom Lappin submitted to us that the conflict itself is not reported with the detachment applied to other areas of conflict such as Darfur or Chechnya:
“The Israel-Palestinian encounter has been largely denaturalised and removed from its political and regional context. It is no longer seen as a political and military struggle between two nations with a long and complex history...Instead, it has been endowed with the peculiar status of an iconic clash between good and evil. Israel has increasingly come to be construed as the purest embodiment of imperialism, racism and oppression whose sole national purpose is to dispossess the Palestinians.”
Such interpretations of the conflict no doubt do exist, and are regrettable – but shallow and “denaturalised” approaches do not, of course, invalidate analyses critical of Israel that do not share this flaw. And if we transpose the words “Israel” and “the Palestinians” in the last sentence, we have a reasonably useful description of the same vice as it appears in a fair bit of pro-Israel discourse.

There’s also a section on the academic boycott debate, where all attempt at discursive discussion goes out the window. The inquiry takes the line of the “Engage” anti-boycott organisation, without seeking any input from academics such as Steven or Hilary Rose, the Jewish academics who first proposed the idea of breaking links with Israeli institutions:
We conclude that calls to boycott contact with academics working in Israel are an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange. We recommend that lecturers in the new University and College Lecturers Union are given every support to combat such selective boycotts that are anti-Jewish in practice. We would urge the new union’s executive and leadership to oppose the boycott.
The boycott is termed “anti-Jewish in practice” because it would supposedly have its biggest impact on Jewish academics, and on the discipline of Jewish studies. But a bit more context is needed: one issue raised by the debate was links between Israel’s higher education system and the infrastructure of the occupation. The motion that was passed by the (now defunct) union NAFTHE was in the context of “academic responsibility”, and
invites members to consider their own responsibility for ensuring equity and non-discrimination in contacts with Israeli educational institutions or individuals, and to consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from such policies.
I think this formulation was flawed, and I would certainly have much preferred a more impersonal approach asking academics to consider how their links with particular institutions or projects might be ethically compromised through association with the occupation. But this is hardly “an assault on academic freedom”. Rather than deal with the text of the motion that was actually passed, the Inquiry instead relies on lurid accounts from Engage about Jewish academics facing the prospect of having their emails to foreign universities monitored.There is also a more general discussion of the availability of racist and anti-Semitic material on the internet, and a disturbing suggestion from a former minister:
The former Home Office Minister Paul Goggins MP gave evidence of a model which could possibly be applied to racist material on the internet. In the case of child pornography it is now an offence to download images from the internet, and it may be possible to develop a similar law in regard to material which could incite racial or religious hatred.
As someone who has trawled through a few far-right websites for research purposes, that seems to me to be a very bad idea. And surely the current offence is not so much “downloading” child pornography as possessing it, whether electronically or on paper? Are the owners of racist books (or their own manuscripts, even) also to be targeted?

Of course, these are just a few of the things from the report I happened to find the most interesting: it’s worth reading the whole thing.
So go on, read the whole thing. And inscribe on your banner that "Israel simply has no right to exist" before it becomes illegal to do so.

"He forgot that Israel is the state of the Jews. Period."

Zionists are fond of telling anyone who cares to listen that Israel can't be a racist state because it has Arab members of its parliament and Arab mayors, deputy mayors and councillors. Well here's an article in Ha'aretz that demonstrates how this so-called Jewish democracy can limit the democratic rights of the Arab "minority" or Arab sector it tends to be called in Israel.
The meeting opened, and one by one the council members laid out Hamis' misdeeds: "You harmed the home front and the Israel Defense Forces," accused Rami Dotan, a council member for the Likud party and one of Regev's allies, opening the strange session and setting the tone.

The members who spoke after Dotan were from all parts of the political spectrum. Hamis helped to solidify the Jewish members into one bloc, united as if in the face of a cruel enemy. For two hours, they accused him of treason, collaboration with the enemy, giving aid to Nasrallah, opposition to Israel, denying the justness of the war, failing to function during the war, sowing division between Jews and Arabs, and so on.

"I felt it was like a terrible lead-up to a stoning, recalling dark periods in history," said Hamis. "They threw me to the dogs, because they claimed I helped the enemy in time of war. There is no more serious accusation than that. I'm a lawyer, and I know there are places where an accusation like that is like a death sentence. All in all I expressed my opinion against the war, and for that I need to be tried by a kangaroo court?"

On the morning of the ouster, Hamis still tried to affect the outcome. He called a press conference and announced his intention to resign as deputy mayor. It was the only way to spare himself humiliation, and to deny his fellow members the pleasure of dismissing him.
And why?
He forgot that Israel is the state of the Jews. Period.
Said his chief tormentor, Councillor Yitzhak Regev. Well this democratically elected and zionistically dismissed former deputy mayor, won't forget that Israel is the state of the Jews again.

September 08, 2006

George Galloway on yet another report on antisemitism

Tune in if you can. Galloway has just described the holocaust as the worst crime in human history. He is now condemning holocaust denial. He says it should be a crime. And he is saying that he will not stand for being accused of antisemitism. Now be quick, he's introducing Michael Rosen. So hurry hurry. Here are the details:
George Galloway will be presenting a special, extra three hours of his phone in show on TalkSport – Available on 1089/1053 AM, Sky Digital 0108, Freeview 723, Digital Cable, DAB Digital and at – on Friday 8 September from 10pm. He'll be joined by broadcaster and writer Michael Rosen to discuss the fallout in Britain from the conflict in the Middle East. Is anti-Semitism on the rise, as an unofficial committee of MPs claims this week? When does legitimate criticism of Israel cross over into anti-Jewish prejudice? Phone 08704 20 20 20 or text in via 81089 or email via the website – – to join the discussion.
Oh no! A technical hitch and we can't hear Michael Rosen. Aha, here he is.

September 07, 2006

Michael Rosen and George Galloway Talk Sport

Following publication of the Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism
George Galloway will be presenting a special, extra three hours of his phone in show on TalkSport – Available on 1089/1053 AM, Sky Digital 0108, Freeview 723, Digital Cable, DAB Digital and at – on Friday 8 September from 10pm. He'll be joined by broadcaster and writer Michael Rosen to discuss the fallout in Britain from the conflict in the Middle East. Is anti-Semitism on the rise, as an unofficial committee of MPs claims this week? When does legitimate criticism of Israel cross over into anti-Jewish prejudice? Phone 08704 20 20 20 or text in via 81089 or email via the website – – to join the discussion.
Did you see what I just saw? Look again.
Is anti-Semitism on the rise, as an unofficial committee of MPs claims this week?
Unofficial? Is that a typo or does this group have no formal status within Parliament? I'll have to check this.

So, stay tuned - Available on 1089/1053 AM, Sky Digital 0108, Freeview 723, Digital Cable, DAB Digital and at

The more delirious the rhetoric, the more hollow the policy.

That line's a lift from this Sidney Blumenthal article in today's Guardian. I don't know what to make of this Blumenthal chap. He's a former adviser to Bill Clinton. In this article he seems to be reducing America's foreign policy adventures to the aspirations, prejudices and the relationship of two people, George Bush and Condoleezza Rice.
As national security adviser, before 9/11, Rice protected Bush from warnings by the counter-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke, about al-Qaida attacks - and demoted Clarke. Before the invasion of Iraq, she lent her imprimatur to the disinformation about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and peddled it to the media. She did not demand an Iraq postwar stabilisation plan. Nor did she object to the Pentagon's seizure of Iraq's civil governance responsibilities from the state department. Before Israel's attack on Lebanon, she did not caution against the possibility of Israeli failure against Hizbullah. She was party to the decision to lend full war materiel and intelligence support to the effort if Israel would undertake it.

In the beginning, the didactic academic lectured her pupil that he stood at a crossroads like in 1947, at the making of the cold-war policy. After 9/11, she inculcated in Bush the notion that he was a world-builder and could imprint his design on a scale to match the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 that established the sovereignty of nation-states.

A few months after Rice became secretary of state, in July 2005, she transported senior staff to a West Virginia retreat where her head of policy planning, Stephen Krasner, delivered a lecture on the Peace of Westphalia followed by one on the Truman Doctrine to explain the magnitude of Rice - and Bush's - ambition for "transformational diplomacy".

This May, as the situation in Iraq drastically worsened, Rice told senior staff that she wants no more reporting from the embassies. She announced in a meeting that people write memos only for each other, and that no one else reads them. She said she wouldn't read them. Instead of writing reports, the diplomats should "sell America", she insisted. "We are salesmen for America!"
She sounds like Marie Antoinette to George Bush's Louis XVI. Could that really be how America works?

September 06, 2006

Engage on Ronnie Kasrils

Engage has linked to an article by South Afica's intelligence minister, Ronnie Kasrils. They've actually posted what they consider to be the salient points. The full article is in the Mail and Guardian. Remember Engage claims to be, not a zionist site to insulate Israel from criticism or condemnation, but a campaign against antisemitism. So they seem to have posted what they did on the grounds that they want their supporters to claim that the following short extracts are somehow antisemitic.
In fact, from the onset, Zionism aimed at the dispossession of the indigenous population so that Israel could become a wholly Jewish state. As the Palestinians became aware of these intentions they, quite naturally, began resisting. At Israel’s independence in 1948, based on the United Nations Partition Plan -- about 56% of the land to the Jewish state and 44% to the Palestinians -- Israel acquired the power, aid and resources to expand to 78% of the former territory, expelled Palestinians and, with American backing, became the regional superpower. .


Lebanon, too, has been a part of Zionist annexation plans. Israel long regarded the Litani river to its north as its natural border, and constantly sought to turn the country into a Christian bulwark against the Muslims. It invaded in 1948, 1978 and 1982 and stayed in the south until 2000, before being driven out by Hizbullah. In that period Israel provoked civil war, connived in massacres, created a proxy army in the south, and still holds on to strategic farmland. No wonder a retreating Israeli soldier grumbled that Lebanon was a never-ending story.
None of this is antisemitic. I think we can assume that Alexandra Simonon didn't post this because she approved of it. She might well believe the article. But she definitely wants zionists to denounce it as antisemitic and maybe hone some arguments around it.

She must have been quite disappointed with the comments. Most don't address what he actually said but his background. The tone was set with the first comment:
Another one of the new conservatives ?
That was it. That was a contribution to the debate. Linda Grant realised that they were going to have to do a bit better than an ad hominem attack. So she got straight to the heart of the matter and, er, changed the subject:
I dunno, Ronnie, how much longer will S. Africa allow Mugabe to get away with starving his own people?
The rest (mostly anyway) deal with his background. John Strawson left a comment criticising the people who were attacking his background. He's the brain end of the Engage operation. I think he stood for election for the World Zionist Congress but he wouldn't tell me when I asked him. I don't think he answered anyway. He claimed that his support for Israel was no different from his support for Iran, North Korea, Syria and Bulgaria. Anyway, digression. Sorry. Here's John Strawson's comment:
Ronnie Kasrils has been a great figther against oppression and is a hero of the struggle against apartheid. The implication from Green and Jeremy that membership of MK and military training in Odessa is some how suspcious is absurd, it was couragous - and politically and ethically correct. Ronnis is wrong about Zionism and his current views on Israel not because of his background but inspite of it.
See that? He's clever John Strawson is. He realised what these zionists were doing. How many comments from Engage supporters condemning a man's anti-apartheid credentials before someone from Engage cottoned on to the fact that their penchant for ad hominem attacks was leading them to denigrate the anti-apartheid struggle. Or was it just their penchant for ad hominem attacks? Perhaps they are so wedded to their racist ideology of zionism and they are so morally compromised by their support for the racist war criminal zionist project in Palestine that they really cannot understand an anti-racist struggle. That coupled with their deliberate, dishonest and false conflating of antisemitism and anti-zionism. In all of the comments, I only saw one out of (at the time of writing) 15 that actually took issue with the facts as related by Kasrils in his article. Others (including John Strawson) simply said he was wrong about zionism without saying how he was wrong, since he wasn't.

The fact is that Ronnie Kasrils was a courageous fighter against racist rule and he still is. He is no more wrong on zionism than he was about apartheid.