February 29, 2008

Israel's shoah business all over the web

Unlucky little Israel. Yet again a leading Israeli has likened Israel to the nazis, in other words, once again, Israel, by a combination of its structure and its behaviour, has likened itself to the nazis. In know I covered this in my previous post but the person who sent me the story from the Guardian about Israeli deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, threatening the Palestinians of Gaza with a holocaust said that he had read the same story in Der Spiegel, but Der Spiegel didn't carry the h-word at all. No surprises there given Germany's post war appeasement of Israel. Then Ellis Sharp posted a comment saying that the BBC has run with the h-word, then dropped it, then picked it up again with an explanation of what the poor misunderstood minister actually meant.
“Speaking on Israel Army Radio, Mr Vilnai said if Palestinians increased rocket fire, they will bring upon themselves what he called a "shoah" - a Hebrew word for catastrophe, and for the Nazi Holocaust. The BBC's Katya Adler in Jerusalem says many of Mr Vilnai's colleagues have quickly distanced themselves from his comments and also tried to downplay them saying he did not mean genocide.”
I then googled "vilnai shoah" only without the quotes, and the first time, 1,360 sites came up. Maybe two minutes later, 1,370. The top one was the UK's Daily Mirror.

The Mirror article is very similar to the Guardian one except where the Guardian had 32 Palestinians dead in the last two days, the Mirror had 33:
Israeli air strikes have killed at least 33 Gazans, including five children, in the past two days, and Israeli leaders said cross-border rocket fire may leave the Jewish state with little choice but to launch a broader military offensive.
But my main point here, apart from the genocidal nature of the State of Israel and its zionist ideology, is the way the hasbara flock have clearly tried to get at the story and in spite of that, it is all over the web. Of course it's terrifying news, but the good news is that Israel and its apologists can't seem to control the flow of information any more.

There is of course the other little issue that if Israel ever does embark on a final solution type solution to its Palestinian "problem" no one will be able to say that they didn't know.

PS - I just went back to google to get the url for the search "vilnai shoah" and the search now yields 1,440 sites.

Israel threatens "holocaust" against Palestinians

About time too. Israel has been carrying on a creeping, sometimes galloping, genocidal campaign against the Palestinians for many a decade. It has been likened to the nazis by at least one of its own ministers before now. And of course there was the Israel commander who told his troops to learn how the nazis destroyed the Warsaw Ghetto so that they too could learn how to destroy a ghetto. Now, according to the Guardian, we have an Israeli minister threatening to inflict a holocaust on the Gaza population. See this:
"The more Qassam [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves," Matan Vilnai, Israel's deputy defence minister, told army radio.

Shoah is the Hebrew word normally reserved to refer to the Jewish Holocaust. It is rarely used in Israel outside discussions of the Nazi extermination of Jews during the second world war, and many Israelis are loath to countenance its use to describe other events.
I was never keen on holocaust uniqueness arguments but the zionists have really blown it this time.

I thought I remembered a letter by Ilan Pappe to the Guardian, saying that the Gaza "disengagement" was a ploy to get Jewish settlers out of the way so that Israel could have a good crack at the native population. I've searched the Guardian site but I can't find it. I also thought that I remembered a bunch of zionists, all of whom (naturally) support, they said, a two state solution, writing to complain that Pappe was exaggerating, scaremongering or some such. I tried google and faired better. See this from Ilan Pappe on the Electronic Intifada site:
The Lebanon war provided the fog for a while, covering the war crimes in the Gaza Strip. But the policies rage on even after the conclusion of the cease-fire up in the north. It seems that the frustrated and defeated Israeli army is even more determined to enlarge the killing fields in the Gaza Strip. There are no politicians who are able or willing to stop the generals. A daily killing of up to 10 civilians is going to leave few thousands dead each year. This is of course different from genociding a million people in one campaign -- the only inhibition Israel is willing to undertake in the name of the Holocaust memory. But if you double the killing you raise the number to horrific proportions and more importantly you may force a mass eviction in the end of the day outside the Strip -- either in the name of human aid, international intervention or the people's own desire to escape the inferno. But if the Palestinian steadfastness is going to be the response, and there is no reason to doubt that this will the Gazan reaction then the massive killing would continue and increase.
Prophetic and scary stuff written on 2 Sept 2006.

But now can we liken Israel to the nazis? We really are running out of descriptions.

February 28, 2008

Palestinians terrorise, Israel responds

I got two articles yesterday and today which both deal with the unequal treatment accorded to the protagonists in occupied Palestine by the mainstream media, indeed by the mainstream everything. See this from Yonatan Mendel in the London Review of Books:
In most of the articles on the conflict two sides battle it out: the Israel Defence Forces, on the one hand, and the Palestinians, on the other. When a violent incident is reported, the IDF confirms or the army says but the Palestinians claim: ‘The Palestinians claimed that a baby was severely injured in IDF shootings.’ Is this a fib? ‘The Palestinians claim that Israeli settlers threatened them’: but who are the Palestinians? Did the entire Palestinian people, citizens of Israel, inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, people living in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab states and those living in the diaspora make the claim? Why is it that a serious article is reporting a claim made by the Palestinians? Why is there so rarely a name, a desk, an organisation or a source of this information? Could it be because that would make it seem more reliable?

When the Palestinians aren’t making claims, their viewpoint is simply not heard. Keshev, the Centre for the Protection of Democracy in Israel, studied the way Israel’s leading television channels and newspapers covered Palestinian casualties in a given month – December 2005. They found 48 items covering the deaths of 22 Palestinians. However, in only eight of those accounts was the IDF version followed by a Palestinian reaction; in the other 40 instances the event was reported only from the point of view of the Israeli military.

Another example: in June 2006, four days after the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped from the Israeli side of the Gazan security fence, Israel, according to the Israeli media, arrested some sixty members of Hamas, of whom 30 were elected members of parliament and eight ministers in the Palestinian government. In a well-planned operation Israel captured and jailed the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem, the ministers of finance, education, religious affairs, strategic affairs, domestic affairs, housing and prisons, as well as the mayors of Bethlehem, Jenin and Qalqilya, the head of the Palestinian parliament and one quarter of its members. That these officials were taken from their beds late at night and transferred to Israeli territory probably to serve (like Gilad Shalit) as future bargaining-chips did not make this operation a kidnapping. Israel never kidnaps: it arrests.

The Israeli army never intentionally kills anyone, let alone murders them – a state of affairs any other armed organisation would be envious of. Even when a one-ton bomb is dropped onto a dense residential area in Gaza, killing one gunman and 14 innocent civilians, including nine children, it’s still not an intentional killing or murder: it is a targeted assassination. An Israeli journalist can say that IDF soldiers hit Palestinians, or killed them, or killed them by mistake, and that Palestinians were hit, or were killed or even found their death (as if they were looking for it), but murder is out of the question. The consequence, whatever words are used, has been the death at the hands of the Israeli security forces since the outbreak of the second intifada of 2087 Palestinians who had nothing to do with armed struggle.

The IDF, as depicted by the Israeli media, has another strange ability: it never initiates, decides to attack or launches an operation. The IDF simply responds. It responds to the Qassam rockets, responds to terror attacks, responds to Palestinian violence. This makes everything so much more sensible and civilised: the IDF is forced to fight, to destroy houses, to shoot Palestinians and to kill 4485 of them in seven years, but none of these events is the responsibility of the soldiers. They are facing a nasty enemy, and they respond dutifully. The fact that their actions – curfews, arrests, naval sieges, shootings and killings – are the main cause of the Palestinian reaction does not seem to interest the media. Because Palestinians cannot respond, Israeli journalists choose another verb from the lexicon that includes revenge, provoke, attack, incite, throw stones or fire Qassams.

Interviewing Abu-Qusay, the spokesman of Al-Aqsa Brigades in Gaza, in June 2007, I asked him about the rationale for firing Qassam missiles at the Israeli town of Sderot. ‘The army might respond,’ I said, not realising that I was already biased. ‘But we are responding here,’ Abu-Qusay said. ‘We are not terrorists, we do not want to kill . . . we are resisting Israel’s continual incursions into the West Bank, its attacks, its siege on our waters and its closure on our lands.’ Abu-Qusay’s words were translated into Hebrew, but Israel continued to enter the West Bank every night and Israelis did not find any harm in it. After all it was only a response.

This bias of course applies in the mainstream media and establishment politicians throughout the west, as is demonstrated in Ben White's article in the Palestine Chronicle.
Of course, Western media outlets either unquestioningly reprint official IDF press releases, or ‘balance’ the two contradictory accounts.

Let’s be clear. The residents of Sderot are unquestionably living through a nightmare. Indeed, some thought it worthwhile to organize a concert in Los Angeles this week in solidarity with the town. Hollywood stars were in attendance, and according to Yedioth Ahronoth online, the three presidential candidates all sent messages of support.

John McCain, bizarrely, believes that Palestinian violence “is not condemned by world nations”. Hilary Clinton commented on Sderot’s courage and sacrifice, while Barack Obama said that as a father, he “could only imagine the terror that these rockets cause”. The deaths of Mohammad the university student or Hassan the farmer, however, went unnoticed and unlamented.
Going back to the idea that the Israeli media is more critical of Israel than the western media is, there was a line in the Mendel piece in the LRB that particularly caught my eye:
Corruption, social decay and dishonesty are pursued with commendable determination by newspapers, TV and radio. That Israelis heard exactly what former President Katsav did or didn’t do with his secretaries proves that the media are performing their watchdog role, even at the risk of causing national and international embarrassment. Ehud Olmert’s shady apartment deal, the business of Ariel Sharon’s mysterious Greek island, Binyamin Netanyahu’s secret love affair, Yitzhak Rabin’s secret American bank account: all of these are freely discussed by the Israeli media.
This is to offer a contrast thus:
When it comes to ‘security’ there is no such freedom.
Not entirely fair given the work of Levi, Hass and, er, erm, ok Levi and Hass, but at least they are regulars in Ha'aretz. Who regularly condemns Israel in the UK media? (with links please if there are any takers - thanks!)

February 27, 2008

What's New? Israeli forces kill Palestinian near Gaza border

If you look down the right margin of my home page you will see the Institute for Middle East Understanding updates under the heading "What's new". I would have advised against that heading because the top headline today is Israeli forces kill Palestinian near Gaza border. Now that is hardly new. The article is from Reuters:
Israeli troops killed a Palestinian farmer near the Gaza Strip's border on Tuesday, his relatives and hospital officials said, but the Israeli army described the dead man as a militant.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said a tank unit spotted a Palestinian planting a bomb at Gaza's periphery patrol road near Kissufim border crossing, and shot him.

The man was brought to a Palestinian hospital, where he died of his wounds. Hospital officials identified him as a farmer from the nearby Qarara village. Relatives said he had been tilling his land when he was shot.

Israeli forces frequently strike Gazan frontier areas suspected of being used by Palestinian militants to launch cross-border rocket attacks. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by Sami Aboudi)
It's terrible of course, and according to Reuters, and anyone willing to tell the truth, it happens all the time. That is to say, it's not new.

Perhaps IMEU should change the header to "News Update" or something like that. Israel killing civilians is certainly nothing new.

February 25, 2008

Another disappearance from Engage

More weirdness from the Engage site courtesy of its main man, Dr Hirsh. Can I summarise this quickly? Gilad Atzmon and Mary Wizo have another petition to defend the promotion of antisemitism in the Palestine Solidarity movement. It's not entirely clear (to me anyway) who drafted it but it describes Gilad and Mary as "outstanding personalities" and denounces Tony Greenstein who has put quite a lot (arguably too much) into exposing, in particular, Atzmon's antisemitism and promotion of neo-nazis and holocaust deniers. I'm guessing it was Atzmon and Wizo that drew it up but I really don't know. It would certainly belie the previous petition which she headed "Palestinians are the priority". Clearly she now thinks that non-Palestinians like herself and Atzmon are the priority. And if she was sincere with her previous petition she would call on comrades to not allow themselves to be distracted by a mere spat. Instead she calls on people ("Palestinians [the priority] and non-Palestinians [not the priority]) to sign a document describing her personality as outstanding and to express solidarity with two non-Palestinians!

Anyway, what has this to do with Engage? Well since there's not much that can be said in favour of the racist war criminals of the State of Israel, the false allegation of antisemitism, the exaggeration of its incidence and the bogus analysis as to what are its causes have become the stock in trade of the zionist hasbara movement. This puts them in a bit of a cleft stick when the real thing rears its head. This has been happening, mostly on line, for a few years now using the real repugnance of zionism to denounce all Jews. I suspect that the hand of Israel is in this somewhere because the main targets of the antisemitic abuse are Jewish anti-zionists.

Now Tony Greenstein has been a very long standing campaigner against zionism and he is actually the kind of campaigner that Dr Hirsh has blamed for Atzmon and co's antisemitism in the past but as the Atzmon/Wizo campaign intensified, another zionist group, the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, decided to mischief make by running a post titled "Defend Tony Greenstein" and since it is an obvious embarrassment to Tony, who is being described as a crypto-zionist by the Atzmon/Wizo axis, Engage climbed aboard and ran the post as well.

They ran it here. But click o the link and you get this:
Genuine apologies to all - I was moderating comments and I deleted this whole post by mistake - DH
Now this is very strange because in the time he spent to write his "genuine" apology, he could have googled "defend Tony Greenstein", scrolled down a bit and rescued the post from the google cache. He could then have seen what he wrote in the first place:
Defend Tony Greenstein from the antisemites!Tony Greenstein has been banned from the Indymedia network for insisting accurately that Gilad Atzmon is an antisemite.

More from Workers' Liberty.
And then he could have copied and pasted what he found back into the post. Maybe he was tired after clicking the "delete this post button" and then clicking the "ok" button when the dialog box asked "do you really want to delete this post?" Or maybe he just highlighted the whole post and deleted that. Either way, why didn't he go to the cache like I just did?

As is the way with Engage, curious always gets curiouser because the comments have disappeared too. Again, google cache to the rescue, but be quick because the cache disappears after a few days.

Comments about Defend Tony Greenstein from the antisemites! :

Toby Esterhase posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:18:05 AM


David Hirsh posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:19:08 AM

Because he's Jewish and he's being attacked for being Jewish by antisemites. End of...

Carrie posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:20:34 AM

First they came for the antisemitic Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not an antisemitic Jew...

David Hirsh posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:21:59 AM

And we'll defend the Jew Atzmon too, when the antisemites come for him - and they will do one day.

Carrie posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:24:50 AM

Then they came for the money-lending, capitalistic, pro-imperialist Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a money-lending, capitalistic, pro-imperialist Jew...

Then they came for the Bolshevik Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Bolshevik Jew...

Then they came for the Likudnik Jews and I did not speak out becuase I was not a Likudnik Jew...

Ruth C posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:28:48 AM

"I want to support Greenstein in the same way as the rope supports a hanged man..."

VI Lenin


Mikey posted on February 23, 2008 at 11:19:32 AM


I am very disappointed that you are linking in a positive way to this article. As I expressed my view in the comments section to that article:

"In my opinion, it is perfectly reasonable to attack Gilad Atzmon for his views but that does not mean to say that genuine socialists and anti-racists should resort to defending Tony Greenstein. Theoretically if Stalin had attacked Mao as a mass murderer, would Workers' Liberty have defended Stalin?"

The limited resources of Engage can be used in a far better way than to "Defend Tony Greenstein." I am sure most readers to this site are quite familiar with the views of Greenstein so I do not need to elaborate on them here, but for anyone who isn't the comments section of the Workers' Liberty thread that this post links to can be read.

Rather than defending Tony Greenstein, it would be far better to simply attack Indymedia for publishing and supporting the views of Atzmon, Rizzo and their cohorts. The dispute between Greenstein and Atzmon has gone on for some time, I expressed my views on the issue on the following guest post to Harry's Place:

I concluded as follows:

"One wonders who sane and rational people should support in this dispute. Should they support Tony Greenstein who wants 'the state of Israel to be destroyed' and who thinks that Hamas and Hizbollah are not anti-semitic or Gilad Atzmon who is happy to support Hamas, wants Israel to disappear, and who also thinks burning down a synagogue is a rational act?"

Can I ask if positively supporting Tony Greenstein, which in this instance supports him spreading his vile views on the Internet, is the view of the editorial board of Engage or is simply your own view?

Shachtman posted on February 23, 2008 at 12:45:28 PM

Tony Cliff said many years ago "If i saw a bunch of skinheads beating up a rabbi , i'd beat up the skinheads , then i'd beat up the rabbi"
In other words defend the rabbi against an antisemitic attack , then beat up the rabbi for being a rabbi.

Well we shouldn't beat anybody up , we should defend Greenstein against antisemitic attacks from Atzmon , and we should be criticial of Greenstein for his vulgar "antizionism"

David Hirsh
posted on February 23, 2008 at 02:02:35 PM

Mikey, I would support anybody who was being attacked by racists because of their designated 'race' or because they speak out against racism.

In order to stand with somebody against racists it is not necessary to agree with what they say. It is even not necessary to point out their own part in creating an environment where racism flourished.

I could imagine arguments for excluding Tony Greenstein from a discussion on the basis that he is, himself, an antisemite; or that he pushes antisemitic ways of thinking; or that he has nothing of interest to say; or that he's arrogant or rude or tedious. But those are not the same things as what is happening here, which is that he has been excluded because he is a Jew who opposes (some) overt antisemitism.

No matter how vile Greenstein is, it is a pathetic sight to see him being attacked as a Jew by the antisemitic bullies. Antiracists should stand with him when that happens.

In my view we should defend Tony Greenstein against antisemitic attack. If you want to know what other members of the editorial board think then you should ask them Mikey. I have no idea.

Toby Esterhase posted on February 23, 2008 at 02:05:20 PM

Why should a person be beaten up for being a rabbi?

Mikey posted on February 23, 2008 at 02:08:32 PM

Shachtman, Tony Cliff said many things and I did not agree with much of it. Tony Greenstein is not deserved of support. Carrie above has made a pun on the poem attributed to Martin Niemöller, "First they came..." These are actually wise words. Indymedia should be attacked but Tony Greenstein should not be defended.

posted on February 23, 2008 at 02:28:19 PM

"Tony Greenstein should not be defended."

He used to be very keen on telling poeple that his father was a reverend.

"Why should a person be beaten up for being a rabbi?"

I don't think he should be. I can't ask Cliff for obvious reasons.

Mikey posted on February 23, 2008 at 02:44:33 PM

In that case I would not have a problem defending Tony Greenstein's father.

On a different note, and to clarify if people think I would not defend anti-Zionist Jews from attack then they are wrong. The Satmar sect is very anti-Zionist (for theological reasons) and I would defend them from attack, but then again, Satmars do not send messages to Internet web sites saying they "wouldn't lose a minute's sleep" if masses of American Jewish activists were "vapourised" as Greenstein did last year.

posted on February 23, 2008 at 04:19:24 PM


What kind of support to want to lend him? Should we protest so that Indymedia would restore his right to publish his views on their web site? Do you really care?

If he had been beaten in the street by antisemites that would have been a completely different matter. But for his freedom to air his bigotry on a site of anti-semites? Suppose that they ban Mickey (it might have happened in the past - I guess) would you care to mention this here?

David Hirsh
posted on February 23, 2008 at 04:26:10 PM

Yes of course. Indymedia should restore his right to say that Gilad Atzmon is an antisemite.

Yes, of course I care that one does not get excluded from spaces on the left for calling antisemitism.

Daniel posted on February 23, 2008 at 05:14:39 PM

I suppose David would have also defended Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski of the Lodz ghetto against antisemitic attacks.

This idea that we have to defend all "Jews" who are attacked by antisemites no matter how despicable and antisemitic they are is absurd. To fight against antisemitism you don't have to defend antisemitic victims of antisemitism.

The only reason Tony calls Atzmon and antisemite is that the latter doesn't exclude him from the people he hates. If Greenstein had renounced his own vicious views about Jews I would then defend him, but not till then.

Allowing Greenstein to call someone an antisemite on and indy website isn't exactly the gold standard of anti-racist activity.

David Hirsh posted on February 23, 2008 at 06:03:06 PM

This is not about Greenstein. This is about fighting for a labour movement - and a left - which knows how to recognize, and does not tolerate, antisemitism. And Indymedia is tolerating an antisemitic attack against a Jew.

We don't defend Greenstein because he's a Jew. We defend anybody who suffers racist exclusion or demonization.

Karl Pfeifer
, Vienna posted on February 23, 2008 at 06:07:58 PM

I cannot understand why one should protest because the antizionist Greenstein cannot post in the antisemitic indymedia.
Greenstein is wrong to ask the antisemites not to be antisemites. Greenstein wants to discuss with antisemites who are glad to have token Jews like Atzmon and use the services of the Swedish Russian antisemite Adam Ermash, formerly Jöran Jermas, who is publishing his stuff under the name of Israel Shamir.
If SWP likes Gilad Atzmon and "Deir Yassin remembered" likes "Israel Shamir" and Greenstein is criticising this, Atzmon and "Shamir" will pretend that Greenstein is a crypto-Zionist. If Engage is going to defend him, they will take that as proof that Greenstein is a crypto-Zionist. So by defending him, you will hurt Greenstein. And now I am at the end of my wisdom, should we defend him?

Toby Esterhase posted on February 23, 2008 at 06:21:17 PM

"By defending him, you will hurt Greenstein..."

Well that sounds like a workable compromise then!

Noga posted on February 23, 2008 at 06:55:06 PM

"If Engage is going to defend him, they will take that as proof that Greenstein is a crypto-Zionist. So by defending him, you will hurt Greenstein."

I must say, this is a really tough ethical nut to crack. Or maybe not.

X, Y, Z are characters in a drama. X hates Y and wants to be friends with Z.
Z accuse Y of some wrongdoing.

X, knowing this is not right, tacitly sides with Z by keeping silent about what he knows.

Time passes and X falls out of favour with Z. Y can provide some relief for X who still hates Y.

If Y keeps silent, Y is like X - keeping silent when an immoral position is maintained.

Result: Nothing changes and X will continue to hate Y, imperturbably.

If Y speaks up in defence of X, what then?

Y is seen to be doing the right thing, in complete adherence to his declared principles, regardless of the satisfaction of seeing X justly hoist on his own petard.

X continues to hate Y, but much of the fuel for this hatred will be ruined. X is then placed in a position of continuing to hate Y even though Y rendered him an undeserved good service.

Poetic justice, to place X in the ironic position of owing a debt of gratitude to Y, whom X will continue to hate, but most perturbably. In other words, X's pleasure of hating Y will be greatly eroded.

Y (Engage) is the moral winner.

But does anybody, except for Engage, care?

unseen posted on February 23, 2008 at 06:57:24 PM

The thing I can't stand about Greenstein is he says in 10,000 words that which ought to be said in 50. His blog-posts are utterly unreadable and take up too much space on my screen.

Linda Grant
posted on February 23, 2008 at 08:12:07 PM

I saw Gilad Atzmon in the lobby at the BBC last week. We were both waiting to go into studios. He was talking at some length to someone on his mobile phone about the best method of suing someone, based on the case he is himself, he said, preparing again 'Greenstein.' He was dressed all in black and I was left with the impression that he dyes his hair. Personally, I find that iffy in a guy, but very common in the music business, I suppose.

Toby Esterhase
posted on February 23, 2008 at 08:21:45 PM

Do you think you can be sued for saying that an antisemitic saxophonist dyes his hair?

posted on February 23, 2008 at 08:43:58 PM

I don't think David that it matters that Indymedia is "on the left". You publish your views very often, and so do they, and I have not found much in common between you and them. For that matter Tony Greenstein could have been banned at a far-right web-site. I couldn't care less.

And, yes, so many rational people on the left have been denied the option of posting their comments on far-left web-sites. I am sure that in many cases it was because they have protested overt/covert antisemitism and the demonization of Israel. You say that you care but I have missed probably all the posts calling Engage readers to defend them. Why do you distinguish Greenstein from others? Is it so important for you that he would continue to criticize Atzmon on Indymedia? Why?

Noga posted on February 23, 2008 at 09:11:53 PM

"I was left with the impression that he dyes his hair. "

I'm sure we are all grateful for this insider's information, as irrelevant and mean as it is.

How about if I said that I am not going to bother about some author's new book because there is something very "iffy" and shallow about that author keeping a blog which discusses the latest fashion in handbags?

Does the fact that Atzmon may be vain and/or thoughtful (take your pick) about the way he looks have any bearing whatsoever upon his bizarre views re: Jews and Israel? Does the fact that he may dye his hair render his opinions even more odious?

Where is the oh-so-scrupulous moderator when one of his or her favoured regulars brings such useless gossip to our attention?

posted on February 23, 2008 at 11:56:39 PM

"Do you think you can be sued for saying that an antisemitic saxophonist dyes his hair?"

If the saxophonist feels that it has somehow made his social standing less and has caused him great emotional harm as a result, why not? But then I'm an American with a rather low opinion of the British libel laws so I could well be wrong.

posted on February 24, 2008 at 03:50:19 AM

"No matter how vile Greenstein is, it is a pathetic sight to see him being attacked as a Jew by the antisemitic bullies. Antiracists should stand with him when that happens"

What does 'standing with him' mean? I'm not about to start going through his old post looking in vain for a silver lining to show everybody that he is deserving of a voice. That is not going to happen. I don't have to - Greenstein deserves a voice on any site that gives a holocaust denier, muck-spreader, and self-confessed despiser of Jewishness like Atzmon (http://tinyurl.com/yb8v5w) a voice, full stop. But that's not a defence of Greenstein.

'Defending' Greenstein amounts to defending a purveyor of one kind of antisemitism (the kind of anti-Zionism that blames Zionists as the worst form of antisemites) who complains about the *wrong* kind of different antisemitism as peddled by the people he calls 'Hitlerites' in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Since Tony Greenstein is a menace to anybody fighting antisemitism, I'd say it's important to *avoid* defending him in any way other than incidentally, based on principles most people hold about standing up to antisemitism. Maybe the effect for Greenstein and for Indymedia is the same. But it shouldn't require, as AWL did, the call to 'Defend Tony Greenstein!' which risks all kinds of unconditional warm feelings towards him from people who don't understand his project and don't realise that he believes that an enormous proportion of Jews - those who he identifies as Zionists - are the biggest antisemites and cause of antisemitism of all.

I'd much rather consider the way Indymedia betrays the notion of Independent Media, its pathetic device of slapping the word 'hidden' all over an article, failing to explain this adequately, and showing it anyway (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/01/389837.html), its enthusiastic hosting of an outright antisemite who think that the behaviour of American Jews render debate about whether the Protocols are true irrelevant. Indymedia is a hateful site.

All very untidy I know and I will tidy it up when I get the chance [27/2/08 - I've tidied it up now for what it's worth] but I wanted to publish this asap so that people can see what it was that Dr Hirsh claims he accidentally deleted, both the post and the comments, by following the links to the caches before they too disappear.

If you can figure out what's being said here you can see the problem Engage has with Tony Greenstein. He is a principled anti-zionist, that is he is someone that Engage would normally accuse of antisemitism but he is clearly on the receiving end of an antisemitic campaign. Now since principle has never been Engage's business they didn't really have to do anything but I suspect they couldn't resist the opportunity to embarrass Tony. But this merely highlights the fact that Tony isn't antisemitic. So what do they do? They defend Tony Greenstein, allow 13 comments, some saying "why should we?" some saying why "we" should.

I mentioned a few times in the past how Linda Grant has a tendency to post off-topic stuff. Well you'll have seen that already if you read this far down. But let's have it again:
I saw Gilad Atzmon in the lobby at the BBC last week. We were both waiting to go into studios. He was talking at some length to someone on his mobile phone about the best method of suing someone, based on the case he is himself, he said, preparing again[st?] 'Greenstein.' He was dressed all in black and I was left with the impression that he dyes his hair. Personally, I find that iffy in a guy, but very common in the music business, I suppose.
This suggests to me that Atzmon was talking English on his mobile. He calls himself a Hebrew speaking Palestinian. The petition calls him a non-Palestinian. Now the thing that gets me is that Atzmon is also English speaking and yet he insists on calling himself Hebrew speaking. His beef with anti-zionists who identify themselves as Jewish is that he says to identify yourself as Jewish in a camaign is the same as zionism. Stupid really since it doesn't exclude anyone from campaigning and it certainly doesn't involve any ethnic cleansing. But Atzmon is being a hypocrite here. He calls himself Hebrew speaking because he wants people to know that he has a Jewish connection or else he would call himself English speaking. The petition calling on Palestinians (you know, those people who are being killed, as I write, by Atzmon's compatriots) to show their solidarity with him, calls him non-Palestinian and yet he is promoting it in spite of calling himself a Palestinian. Perhaps he thought that Palestinians wouldn't accept him calling himself Palestinian when he is actually Israeli.

Sorry, I shouldn't have gone off on a tangent on a garbled post anyway but this shows the sheer buffoonery of Hirsh and Atzmon so I could neither resist the post nor the digression.

So, like I said, I wanted to rush this out before the cache goes cold but I will tidy it up later.

Meanwhile, I should say that if someone comes up with a legalistic reason for Hirsh disappearing (or at least trying to) his own post and the comments, maybe this here post will disappear. If so, try google cache, while it lasts.

UPDATE: 22/3/2013

I just stumbled on these comments to the above post.

dsf posted on February 25, 2008 at 12:13:53 PM
Is there a back-up, or a chance of it being rewritten?

In the meantime, the link to Workers Liberty post on the topic:
NIMN posted on February 26, 2008 at 06:48:55 AM
Ahhh.  Perhaps Hirsh lies.  Perhaps there was a cunning plan here...  see Mark Elf's masterful investigation and Tony Greenstein's wise explanation.

Zkharya posted on February 27, 2008 at 06:27:04 PM
NIMN, are you saying David had an ulterior motive in not resurrecting the thread? If so, what?

NIMN posted on February 27, 2008 at 08:25:28 PM
Nah, I was being ironic.

February 24, 2008

Israeli antisemitism?

Here's an article from Ha'aretz, effectively about Israeli antisemitism through the prism of Israeli emigration. I was sent it a few days ago but it's not news, many Jews have complained about Israeli disdain for diaspora Jews and there have been many essays on it. And of course the "negation of the diaspora" is a long standing tenet of mainstream zionism.
one of the striking phenomena that characterizes Israeli communities abroad is their separation from veteran Jewish communities. Paradoxically, even Israelis who have chosen to leave Israel regard "Diaspora Jews" with reservations and sometimes even scorn.

"The young Israelis are very put off by the Jewish communities," says Lev-Ari. "They find the community's customs odd."

A 26-year-old student told her: "'In our age group, we do everything to avoid them. It exposes us to Diaspora Jewish traits that threaten me.'" The other Jews are perceived as too religious. Their clothing is out-of-date, and the young Israelis also feel their attitude toward Israeli is obsolete. "People have told me: 'They like old Israeli music - Yehoram Gaon, Yaffa Yarkoni. I am not part of that,'" says Lev-Ari.

"The connection to the Jewish community is far from perfect," agrees Spielman. "I feel close to the Jews, but the difference is clear, the mentality is different and this sometimes leads the Israelis to hold negative attitudes. There are Jewish behaviors that Israelis consider ridiculous, and some refer to them as 'Yids' among themselves."

A parallel study among Israelis in the United States last year found similar tendencies.

"The longer Israelis stay in the United States, the weaker their connection to Israel," says Dr. Uzi Ravhon, of the Institute for Contemporary Jewry at Hebrew University, who conducted the study. "This is manifested in less familiarity with the social and political situation in Israel and less connection with relatives and friends in Israel," says Ravhon.

"For the second generation that was born in the United States, or moved there at an early age, the connection is much weaker. They are much more fluent in English, and a larger percentage have American citizenship."

"Israeli identity is very much based on defining yourself vis-a-vis an enemy," says Sarit, an Israeli who has been living in London for 10 years. "It could be that when Israelis move abroad they don't really have an enemy to face, so their identity also begins to disappear."
This really demonstrates the cleft stick the zionism has led some Jews into. They want to be a nation with a territory, they don't like diaspora Jewish culture or languages and when it doesn't work out in Palestine back into the real world they go. But the zionist myth of everyone hating Jews everywhere is just that, a myth, so they don't have the enemy to help them maintain their Israeli identity. So, having abandoned their Jewishness in favour of Israeli Jewishness they now lose their Israeli identity. Perhaps they'll start to learn that the hatred of those you have dispossessed isn't enough to build an identity on.

February 23, 2008

Right to return is a civil right

David T of Harry's Place has an article in today's Jewish Chronicle. In it he tells readers the "real motive of the boycotters". He's a lawyer, you know? He knows the law. So how did he manage to write this:
The BDS initiative takes the form of a call for an international boycott to advance three broad goals: ending [Israel’s] occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantling the wall; recognising the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Well easy, that is precisely the position of supporters of BDS - boycott of, divestment from and sanctions against Israel. But then he writes this:
Make no mistake. The main goal of the BDS movement is not the advancement of Palestinian civil rights.
Why are the BDS people calling for those rights - return, equality, etc - that most people associate with civil rights if they don't actually want Palestinians to have civil rights? The trick here is in the word advancement.

David T (né Toube) is a zionist. He believes in Jewish supremacy in Palestine and he knows that Jewish supremacy is incompatible with civil rights for the Palestinians. He knows that with Israel able and more than willing to repress Palestinians who show anything like steadfastness or even show their faces Israel does not have to make concessions for the time being. Therefore Palestinians can be denied their rights, even their right to life. But if Palestinians accept their lot, accept that most remain in exile, accept that those currently under occupation could see the end of Israeli ground troops and accept aerial occupation a la Gaza then they can have a semblence of advancement towards civil rights but not civil rights as such.

Maybe I should have pointed out that he said a lot of stuff in between the boycotters demands and his assertion that they don't want civil rights for Palestinians at all. He is still smarting from the One Voice debacle where there was to be a concert promoting Palestinian acceptance of the settlement blocks. This is what the thoroughly dishonest David T calls the "middle ground". Between what and what? He doesn't say.

He does say however that Israel cannot deliver on civil rights for Palestinians that westerners take for granted in the countries that support Israel the most. He does that in an article complaining about people calling Israel an apartheid state.

And yet it's Israel's insistence that it cannot allow equal rights to non-Jews that makes people conclude that Israel is indeed an apartheid state. Why doesn't the no longer mysterious Mr t just admit it?

Jim Denham: an apology

Oh no, this is terrible. In my previous post I posted the whole of the latest article on the Engage website. It was by Dr David Hirsh, the eminent sociologist, accusing the Guardian of an antisemitic conspiracy theory because they ran some articles on how the government had suppressed information on someone at the Foreign Office writing the word "Israel" in the margin of the first draft of what came to be known as the dodgy dossier. The thrust of Hirsh's article is that it is antisemitic to publish articles that show the government, any government, being underhanded about its dealings with Israel. I was sure that he would delete the article when he found out that the Jewish Chronicle had a run a very similar article on its front page, together with a leader comment. So I pasted the whole thing followed by the article that appeared on the front page of the Guardian. I then wrote below the Guardian article:
The first thing to note here is that there is not one word of theory here, just a statement as to facts followed by some opinion as what the Guardian and some of its writers think of those facts. Dr Hirsh, the sociologist, seems not to be able to distinguish fact from theory.
But what with the comments on Engage being almost as ludicrous as the article by Hirsh and the articles in the JC the post got too long so I deleted the Guardian article and put a link to it in the comment instead, thus:
The first thing to note here is that there is not one word of theory here, just a statement as to facts followed by some opinion as what the Guardian and some of its writers think of those facts. Dr Hirsh, the sociologist, seems not to be able to distinguish fact from theory.
But the link glitched and so when Jim Denham of the pro-war zionist "left" came to call he thought, or at least claimed to think, that I was claiming that Hirsh hadn't written any theory, just facts! Can you imagine, me accusing Hirsh of running facts? Oh please.

Anyway, let me be clear about what should have been clear from the headline of the post anyway, Dr Hirsh has accused the Guardian of an antisemitic conspiracy theory in that they reported that the Foreign Office had used a loophole in the Freedom of Information Act to withhold the fact that an unnamed FO officer had likened Israel to Saddam Hussein's Iraq in that the former has breached several UN resolutions and has nuclear weapons. The report was not a theory as Hirsh claimed, it was a fact.

Oi! Now go to bed Jim, I know I should.

February 22, 2008

Visit Engage where fact is theory, truth is antisemitic and so is the Jewish Chronicle!

Engage has surpassed itself with a bogus allegation of antisemitism levelled at yesterday's edition of the Guardian, where Engage's Dr Hirsh used to write for Comment is free. Remember that, it might be relevant.

It happens from time to time that when Dr Hirsh writes something embarrassing he just removes it and denies that it had appeared so I'll copy and paste it in full with it's links but please please check out the Guardian articles where you will find not a lot to tally with what Dr Hirsh is actually saying here except where the doctor effects this horrified tone as he sets out the truth as someone else sees it:
The substance of the exclusive story that the Guardian broke today (21 Feb 08) is this: in an early draft of the ‘dodgy dossier’ which ‘sexed up’ the intelligence on Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction in order to embellish the case for war, it was claimed that “no other country [apart from Iraq] [had] flouted the United Nations’ authority so brazenly in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction”. A Foreign Office spin doctor wrote “Israel” in the margin. When the document was published in response to a Freedom of Information request, the word “Israel” was deleted.

The Guardian editorial team decided to sex up the story too.

The front page headline is: ‘Labour kept criticism of Israel secret’ and it is illustrated by Israeli flags and Union Jacks fluttering in the breeze side by side; when you click the link on the website, it becomes ‘How Labour used the law to keep criticism of Israel secret’. A sub-headline informs us: ‘Israel’s weapons – a diplomatic no-go area’. And the leader brings together all of the soundbites and imagery of contemporary antisemitic conspiracy theory: censorship; suppression of the word ‘Israel’; cravenness (before the ‘lobby’); secret deliberation; an act of concealment; exploiting the loopholes; Israel regularly kicks up a fuss over far more minor matters; the blue pencil; decisions reached in secret; ‘Israel’ the banned word; how easily the tribunal can be influenced into concealing public material.

Conspiracy theory, which held that Jews conspired secretly with each other in their own interest, is a classic staple of many variants of antisemitism. By deceit, through smart organization and with their financial power, Jews wield huge but unseen influence. Jews corrupted society with revolutions, they exploited the work of others through capitalism, they started wars in which they themselves were not prepared to kill or to die. Jews owe their real allegiance to each other around the world; they are treacherous to their neighbours, their communities, their class and their nation.

Conspiracy theory is often mirrored in the ways that decent people increasingly think about Israel. Views that seem to be moderate and concerned with justice often take the form of antisemitism. Israel is often thought of as though it were uniquely cruel and influential. Yet Israel is neither.

The contemporary way of doing antisemitic conspiracy theory was given a stamp of professorial legitimacy by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. They also created a vocabulary which one could use to express conspiracy theory which did not seem to be antisemtic. They did not say that the Jews were responsible for the Iraq war, they said it was the ‘Israel lobby’. They did not say that Jews were not patriotic Americans, they said that the ‘Israel lobby’ perverted policy from the American national interest. They did not say that Jews run the American media and political system by a secret conspiracy, they said that the ‘Israel lobby’ controlled public discourse and it had a veto on who was elected to political power.

Conspiracy theory is nearly always, today, articulated using the Livingstone Formulation, which claims that Jews play the antisemitism card in bad faith in order to de-legitimize criticism of Israeli human rights abuses. In this way, anyone who raises a worry about contemporary antisemitism already stands accused of doing so maliciously; and they also stand accused of doing so as part of a common plan with others.

Today’s Guardian has antisemitic conspiracy theory running through it, from the front page to the inside pages, to the leader. Antisemitism of this sort is not explicit, is not obvious, and is not self-aware. It is necessary, therefore, to analyse and interpret a text to know whether it is antisemitic.

This is a story concerning one word written in the margin of one of many many drafts of a document. I’m glad that I don’t have to make all my own drafts public. That is the point of a draft. It is not published. The editorial staff of the Guardian decided to run this story as evidence of the corruption which the ‘Israel lobby’ foments in Britain. There are two notable aspects of the way that the story is treated. One is the picture of the Labour government it paints, cravenly bowing to a (Jewish) foreign power; the other is the language with which this picture is painted.

Who is more powerful, Britain or Israel? Britain has the fourth largest economy in the world; Israel has the 35th largest economy in the world. Britain has a permanent seat on the Security Council; Israel is a pariah in the UN. Britain is an old and influential imperial power which gave its language to the world; Israel is a small country of a few million people, mainly in four smallish cities, which many people want to wipe off the map. For the Guardian to portray Israel as being in control of Britain is just weird.

The ‘lobby’ rhetoric holds that Israel controls the world because it holds the ultimate weapon, which is the accusation of antisemitism. It uses this weapon brazenly and dishonestly. Governments like the British government, goes the story, are too ‘craven’ to stand up to Israel when it ‘kicks up a fuss’; in any case politicians who stand up to Israel would be fatally wounded by accusation of antisemitism which the lobby controls; and in any case politicians are beholden to the lobby for their money.

The Livingstone Formulation headline in today’s Guardian, ‘How Labour used the law to keep criticism of Israel secret’ makes the newspaper’s spin explicit. Labour marshalled the full power of the state to prevent a little one-word (implied, possible) criticism of Israel by one Foreign Office official secret. You see how the lobby controls free speech? You see how the lobby forces a Labour government to do its work, secretly, in concealment, cunningly exploiting loopholes, wielding the blue pencil, banning even the word ‘Israel’. How easily the (formally impartial FOI tribunal) can be influenced into concealing public material. Influenced by who? Shhh. You know who.

David Hirsh

In today’s Guardian:
1. Leader: Hidden words
2. The FO's case to the information tribunal [this link is broken. I think he meant this]
4. Israel's weapons - a diplomatic no-go area
5. The Foreign Office is extraordinarily sensitive about Israel
6. Iraq dossier secrets

Simply Jews got it. Seth Freedman didn't get it.
The first thing to note here is that there is not one word of theory here, just a statement as to facts followed by some opinion as what the Guardian and some of its writers think of those facts. Dr Hirsh, the sociologist, seems not to be able to distinguish fact from theory.

The comments are worth a look at too. Let's just look at one from John Strawson, a stickler for hard evidence of anything Israel is accused of:
Many thnaks to David for his very perceptive comment on The Guardian peice. As I read it this morning, I did wonder whether I was living in world of my own where Israel was just a small country in the Middle East. Its nuclear weapons it should be added were supplied by France and since then India and Pakistan have obtained nuclear weapons - and South Africa, North Korea and Libya. But of course Israel is apparently a case on its own.

The FCO document and witness statement is highly instructive on the poor grasp of international law on the part of the FCO. There are no United Nations Security Council resolutions requiring Israel to dismantle its nuclear weapons unlike Iraq where repeated resolutions from 687 (1991) onwards adopted under Chapter VII did require this of Iraq. The marginal note is just plain wrong - As The Guardian cannot take its eyes off Israel it thus misses the fact that the maginal note is inaccurate.
First up, the margin note said one word, "Israel". It was written beside a paragraph that said
"no other country [apart from Iraq] has flouted the United Nations' authority so brazenly in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction".
The word "Israel" does not assert that Israel has "flouted the United Nations' authority so brazenly in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction", it just says "Israel". Clearly it means there is an issue about Israel with regard to the flouting of UN resolutions or there is an issue about Israel having nuclear weapons or both. There is nothing there to suggest that whoever wrote the word "Israel" thought that the UN has passed resolutions against Israel having or developing nuclear weapons. It made the point or both of the points that a)Israel has flouted the UN's resolutions and b)Israel has nuclear weapons. Israel hasn't been brazen about its nuclear weapons; it denies having them at all. Something of a worrying detraction from deterrence theory, except no one believes anything claimed on behalf of Israel. But that really makes John Strawson's list of states with nuclear weapons, leaving aside the ludicrous claim that Libya ever had them, irrelevant. The UN hasn't made rulings against them either. I think it has made general rules about the acquisition of nuclear weapons and if so, Mr Strawson is still being a bit too picky.

There are 12 comments at the time of writing this. I don't know if Dr Hirsh has chimed with the thoughts of his cohorts at the Engage site or if they see that his claims in this article are so ludicrous they had better defend him concertedly - not conspiratorially of course.

But he hasn't made his case here. There are two issues. One is that Israel is being shielded from criticism because Israel might go ape if it is criticised. The other is the casualness with which a Freedom of Information application was denied.

The zionists are fond of complaining that Israel is singled out, code for antisemitism, but here the singling out was by the Foreign Office people who decided to delete the word "Israel" whilst leaving implied or expressed criticisms of other countries in tact. That's newsworthy for goodness sake! In fact, let's have a look at a couple of paragraphs from yesterday's Guardian front page:
Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, said last year that it was in the public interest that the document should be released in its entirety. The FO appealed against his ruling and took it to the Information Tribunal.

The FCO had no objections to references to other countries in the margin of the Williams document. Alongside the claim that no other country apart from Iraq had twice launched wars of aggression against neighbours, the unknown FCO official writes: "Germany?" and " US: Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico". Against a reference to the use of chemical weapons, the official has written: "Japan in China?"

The mandarins here have singled Israel out for special favour and the Guardian merely pointed out that they had done so and that they had used official secrecy, thereby undermining the Freedom of Information Act, to do so. It could be that the Foreign Office types do harbour some antisemitic notions about Jewish power and that that is what led them to bend over backwards for Israel but that wasn't Dr Hirsh's point. He is claiming that their factual report was antisemitic theorising. If he was really on the ball he should have spun the FO's actions as being antisemitic. But then his cohort John Strawson tried that and faired no better than Hirsh did with what looks like a sordid vendetta piece against the Guardian. Has Cif been turning down his stuff?

But it all gets more silly when we note that two of the articles Hirsh is complaining of are by Jews, indeed zionists, Ian Black and Seth Freedman and for all we know right now, the editorial could have been by another resident zionist at the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland but then he tends to editorialise in Israel's favour.

And sillier still when we take a look at the Jewish Chronicle today. Like the Guardian, the Jewish Chronicle sees the story as being worthy of its front page. And a leader. And it helpfully and at risk to itself reproduces the statement of the chap who got the offending word, "Israel" removed from the published first draft.

Now it gets a bit more interesting because if you read the JC articles you will see that their thinking is closer to John Strawson's than it is to Hirsh's which makes it all the more remarkable that the thinking person's Engagenik, Strawson, described Hirsh's piece as perceptive. See what the JC says in its leader:
After taking legal advice, and aware of the inherent risks in publishing, we, along with The Guardian, decided that political and diplomatic expediency by the Foreign Office should not be allowed to override the overwhelming public interest in the witness statement’s disclosure. We print it in full today, and suggest to readers that it reveals far more about the British Government’s anxieties about its relations with Israel than it does about any ludicrous suggestion that Israel can be equated in any way with Saddam’s Iraq.
The fact is that both the JC and the Guardian were attacking the UK's Foreign Office, albeit for different reasons. Neither were attacking Jews or Israel. But perhaps that won't stop Dr Hirsh from condemning the Jewish Chronicle as antisemitic next time he does a post to the Engage site.

Ok, by way of a goodnight, let's just remind ourselves of the last line of Dr Hirsh's post:
Simply Jews got it. Seth Freedman didn't get it.
Go for your airbrush Dr Hirsh, it was you that didn't get it.

February 21, 2008

UK Foreign Office covers for Israel...yawn

As it happens it's not such a yawn. Someone at the UK's Foreign Office had the temerity to criticise Israel, according to the Guardian today. It all revolves around this "dodgy dossier" of Iraq war lore:
Along with unfavourable references to the US and Japan, the reference to Israel was written in the margin by someone commenting on the opening paragraph of the Williams draft. It was written against the claim that "no other country [apart from Iraq] has flouted the United Nations' authority so brazenly in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction"
As a bit of background for those new to this, the dodgy dossier was a story concocted to justify the war on Iraq that started in 2003 and continues to this day. The idea of the dossier was to "prove" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that it was in breach of UN Security Council resolutions for having them.

The ticklish little problem there was that we all knew that Israel had them and it would have been literally a miracle for Iraq to acquire them what with surveillance, no fly zones, daily bombardment and genocide by sanctions. So here's what the man from the ministry told the Information Tribunal about the note on Israel and what happened to it when a Freedom of Information Act application to see it was made:
Neil Wigan, head of the FCO's Arab, Israel and North Africa Group, said he did not know who had referred to Israel in the margin. He went on: "I interpret this note to indicate that the person who wrote it believes that Israel has flouted the United Nations' authority in a manner similar to that of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein."
Actually Israel has flouted the UN's authority whereas we now know as we did then that Iraq hadn't.

But what's the issue here? Why was the stuff about Israel withheld?
Its disclosure would seriously damage the UK's relations with Israel, Wigan said. The comparison with Saddam and the "implied accusation of a breach of the UN's authority by Israel are potentially very serious". It was "inevitable" that relations between the UK and Israel would suffer if the marginal note were allowed to enter the public domain, he added.

Wigan observed: "Unfortunately, there is perception already in Israel that parts of the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] are prejudiced against the country". The note on the Williams draft dossier "would therefore confirm this pre-existing suspicion and would increase the damage".
Oh no, Israel might get uptight and normally it's such a chilled sort of a regime. We wouldn't want the UK to be responsible for making Israel uptight, would we?

But what does it matter if Israel is uptight? It's always uptight anyway.
Writing in October last year, he noted that "criticism of Israel received a huge amount of media coverage". The margin comment mentioning Israel would thus be given a "high profile". Harming relations with Israel would undermine the FCO's ability to prevent and resolve conflict "through a strong international system". In addition, there was "an important national interest in relation to counter-terrorism", Wigan said.
So we don't want Israel thinking that we are critical of it having nuclear weapons, we don't criticise Israel killing children with or without their parents and we don't even criticise Israel when it kills Brits whether they're working for the International Solidarity Movement, Channel 4 or the UN. And the reason for that is so that we can be influential when it comes to middle east peace or work against terrorism.

This is absurd. The more sycophantic the UK and other states are towards Israel the more outrageously Israel behaves. If the UK won't act against Israel when it kills Brits what can we expect when Israel kills Palestinians? Not only that, this support for Israel must surely be a major cause of the kind of terrorism, this support for Israel is claimed to be preventing.

Whatever happened to "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime".

February 20, 2008

Updated Almog update

Ellis Sharp, in the comments below my Almog update post, pointed out that the Independent had a better article, by Andy McSmith, on the escape of war crimes suspect, Doron Almog, from the UK's London Heathrow Airport than the BBC one which I had drawn on.

The article in the Independent certainly asks a few searching questions that the BBC fails to. We know the story basically. There was this plane at Heathrow Airport.
Inside the plane was a senior Israeli army officer, Doron Almog, veteran of some of the most celebrated military operations in the troubled history of the Middle East. There were also armed Israeli sharpshooters.

Outside were officers of the Metropolitan Police, acting reluctantly on an arrest warrant served by a judge at the request of lawyers who wanted to launch a private prosecution against the general.

The question that can never be answered is what would have happened if the police had marched on to the plane to seize the general and haul him before the courts. Possibly, he would have come quietly, and a lot of lawyers would have been kept very busy as the courts weighed what to do next.

A much more sinister possibility is that the Israeli agents on board would have refused to let the general be arrested without putting up resistance. At best, that would have meant an ugly stand off followed by a major diplomatic row. At worst, it could have led to dead bodies aboard the plane.
So the Brits bottled out, as we say, and the Israeli war crimes suspect got away. Not only that Jack Straw, the then Foreign Secretary issued a grovelling apology to his Israeli counterpart.

But consider the fact that the tip-off led to a situation where British police officers or airport or airline staff could have been killed so there's a question to be put here and Andy McSmith does put it:
the police and the Government face some awkward questions, of which the most interesting is who warned the Israelis that there was trouble brewing at Heathrow?
Actually I think the most interesting is, why did Jack Straw have to apologise to Israel when the Brits did Israel a favour? But the most important is, who happily endangered the lives of the police and others to help the racist war criminals of the State of Israel? I think we should be told.

Ever met a nice Israeli?

Of course you have. Of course there are nice Israelis. What kind of political backwardness would it be to suggest that you couldn't meet a nice Israeli? Can you imagine the complaints against a broadcaster if they satirised a state, any state, with the words, "I never met a nice whatever"? Well that's exactly what the satirical puppet show, Spitting Image did during the era of apartheid in South Africa with the sketch "I never met a nice South African:

Now I've heard lots of zionists complaining bitterly about Israeli manners (or lack of), boorishness and arrogance, but can you imagine a sketch like that being applied to Israel passing the censors on any western tv outlet? The person who uploaded the sketch to youtube had this to say:
In response to all the looney comments: Look people, this is satire. No one truly believes that South Africans were/are any different to any other nationality. This song was simply a response to the South African policy of Apartheid. Please, bear this in mind 'BEFORE' you post a comment. And for the record, if anyone wrote a similar song about the Mugabe regime, I would be ok with that too.
But what about Israel? Would you be ok with that? Actually I think you would but we will never know because these days no one would dare satirise Israel in the mainstream in that way.

Almog update

Remember Doron Almog? He was the Israeli general who the British police apparently tipped off that he was facing war crimes charges, like so many Israeli adult males, if he got off his El Al plane at Heathrow Airport. Well it appears the police were scared that they might be shot by Israelis if they tried to effect an arrest at the airport.

That's according to this BBC report anyway.
An Israeli general wanted for alleged war crimes escaped arrest in the UK because British police feared an armed confrontation at Heathrow airport.

Documents seen by BBC News reveal how Major General Doron Almog managed to fly back to Israel when police failed to board his plane in September 2005.

He stayed on board for two hours after a tip-off that he was facing detention.

Police were concerned about a potential clash with Israeli air marshals or armed personal security on the plane.

Maj Gen Almog had flown to the UK for social and charitable visits to Jewish communities in Solihull, in the West Midlands, and Manchester.

Lawyers acting for Palestinian campaigners lobbied the Metropolitan Police to act over allegations he had ordered the destruction in 2002 of more than 50 Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip.

Campaigners say the homes were destroyed by the Israeli army as retribution for a Palestinian militant attack, in contravention of the laws of war protecting civilian property. Israel says destruction of Palestinian houses is among the necessary measures it takes to protect its citizens.

The Met initially refused to get involved, citing massive pressures on counter-terrorism teams in the wake of the London bombings.

But the legal representatives successfully applied to a judge for an arrest warrant for a private prosecution.
Now I thought it was a magistrate they applied to but never mind that. Didn't the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, issue some grovelling apology over this? Yes he did.
The Foreign Office says Mr Straw apologised to Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom "as a courtesy".

"He was saying he was sorry if the incident had embarrassed the Israelis," said a Foreign Office spokesman.
Given that we now know that British police were scared of being shot by officers of a "friendly" country in the UK's main airport, shouldn't it be the UK that's embarrassed about this?

Thanks to Montag

Israel is a spitting image for the old South Africa

I've told many people about this clip from a UK television satire called Spitting Image over the years, I never thought I would see it again but I stumbled on it tonight. There are a few things about the programme you need to know if you weren't around when it was being shown. It was a satirical puppet show dealing with the issues of its day, the 1980s. In this sketch another UK programme, the quiz show, Mastermind is used to demonstrate the oppressive nature of the State of Israel back then when the comparison with South Africa in the death throes of apartheid was easier to make because the comparison was current then. So here it is, Spitting Image:

That was from UK television in the 1980s. I still can't believe it's available for viewing again. A word on context, South Africa was still under the apartheid regime then as Palestine is now.

It's terrible to think that that programme was made in the 1980s and yet Israel still kills an inordinately high number of children. The trouble now is that many people have forgotten comparable regimes so people who think that killing children is not nice are accused of singling Israel out. The fact is that Israel is uniquely despised because Israel is uniquely despicable. But it wasn't always. Let's just thank Spitting Image for reminding us that, pre-liberation, South Africa just like Israel only without the ethnic cleansing*.

UPDATE - I've now been correctly called on this by someone called MFB in the comments to this post. The comment says:
Um, Mark, we did have a lot of ethnic cleansing in South Africa. For instance, in the Orange Free State down to the 1980s it was illegal for a person with "Indian" in his identity document to spend the night.

You might have heard of the "pass laws", under which Africans were forbidden to live in urban areas without special permission. Millions of people were shipped off to the homelands (google "Surplus People's Project", or variants, and see what you find).

I mean, you don't think we whites took control of 87% of the land area of the country just because the blacks and the Khoi and the San somehow decided to wander off into little wastelands?
And here's my response:
You're right MFB. I was trying to say too much in one short line. There was even a musical in London about District 6 in Cape Town. I meant without the native majority.
That latter point has had David Aaronovitch arguing the toss over whether it's ok to call Israel an apartheid state. The crux for him isn't that Israel is a segregationist state that has ethno-religious discrimination enshrined in its laws:
Israel is not anything like South Africa, where a majority was denied all political and civic rights on the grounds of race.
But of course, the Palestinians are the majority but a majority of that majority are barred from the territory.

Meanwhile, I've found another Spitting Image sketch which shows just how much the media pulls its punches on Israel when compared to its treatment of the remarkably similar regime of South Africa.

February 19, 2008

Has Castro resigned?

I ask because I have just seen "09:32 Cuban President Fidel Castro has resigned (Israel Radio)" on the Ha'aretz news flash service. But I can't find it anywhere else.

UPDATE: Yes I can. It's all over the web.

February 18, 2008

Finkelstein spreads the word via MEMRI

MEMRI has done an uncharacteristically useful thing here and hosted a video of an interview with Norman Finkelstein which I now know is available also on youtube.

The interview was by Future TV which is a Lebanese terrestrial and sattelite channel.

February 16, 2008

More bad publicity for the gemstone cowboy

More bad publicity for Leviev, the gemstone cowboy. And this time it's in the UK's Jewish Chronicle:
Anti-Israel agitators target Leviev shops
By Rachel Fletcher
Anti-Israel demonstrators have targeted the diamond stores of Israel’s wealthiest man, Lev Leviev.

Protestors gathered outside the London and New York stores to deliver a “Justice Valentine”, claiming that “Lev’s diamonds are crime’s best friend.”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign invited supporters to spread an existing American campaign boycotting Leviev diamonds to London, with 20 demonstrators picketing the Old Bond Street store on Saturday. The protests were timed to coincide with the last major shopping day before Valentine’s Day.

PSC’s website accused Mr Leviev of building illegal settlements in the West Bank and added: “His diamond company has been accused of supplying blood rubies from Burma used to finance Myanmar’s military junta” — a charge the company strongly denies.

London demonstrators included members of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, Stop the Wall, and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, holding placards and leafleting passers-by.

In Manhattan, 45 protestors carried red heart-shaped signs with slogans such as “Settlements are Heartless” and sang a parody of the song Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.

A statement from Mr Leviev and the Lev Leviev Group of Companies said the protests were “politically motivated. Those who personally attack the companies or its founder deliberately neglect their extensive humanitarian and philanthropic work, which includes building schools, orphanages, and fostering economic development in communities around the world.

“These protests are also inaccurate in their charges against Leviev diamonds. Leviev is a rigorous supporter of the UN-mandated Kimberley Process concerning conflict-free diamonds and ensures that all gemstones — of all colours — are sourced through internationally recognized legal and ethical guidelines.”
Hmm, humanitarian work. Building settlements for Jews only in occupied territory doesn't really count as humanitarian. But perhaps this is a reference to the claim that Leviev donates big time to Oxfam America.

It wouldn't surprise me if Oxfam took money from Leviev since they're happy to partner Starbucks. But Oxfam isn't so happy to be associated with Leviev. See this from the Adalah NY newsletter:
Leviev Boasts A Contribution That Never Existed: Ma'ariv
Ma'ariv On-Line (NRG)
Business tycoon Lev Leviev's website boasts a contribution to a human rights organization, but there was no contribution at all.
by Gal Karniel
January 21, 2008
Economics Page

Lev Leviev, known for his wealth and philanthropy, volunteered misleading information regarding the destination of his charitable donations.

On December 28th, 2007, Lifestyle Magazine conducted an interview with the philanthropist Leviev. During the interview, several organizations were mentioned as recipients of donations from Leviev, among them Oxfam-US. The donation to Oxfam was also noted in profile pieces and other interviews with Leviev, for example in Women's Wear Daily on September 5th, 2007. The Lifestyle interview was quoted in full within the magazine of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS (Common-wealth of Independent States), an organization that supports Jewish communities in Russia, Israel, Germany, and the United States. Leviev is currently serving as the organization's president. [UPDATE - this link has now been disappeared and the Lifestyles mag article has removed all mention of Oxfam too.]

Following the supposed connection between Leviev and Oxfam, the organization Adalah-NY addressed Oxfam in a letter dated January 8th, 2008, which requested that Oxfam not accept donations from Leviev due to his involvement in settlement construction in the West Bank territories, in violation of international law. The letter also referenced Leviev's exploitation of the Angolan population working in the diamond trade, as well as the employment of workers and craftspeople under exploitative conditions in his Manhattan and Brooklyn enterprises, where many do not receive minimum wage and have complained of wage withholding.

Across from Leviev's Madison Avenue diamond store, human rights groups hold frequent demonstrations in denunciation of him and his activities.

The statement goes on to explain that "Oxfam's policies on donations are clear. We do not accept donations from businesses involved in illegal activities, or operating in occupied territory, including settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories."

Leviev's response did not arrive prior to the publication of this article.
I suppose we ought to be careful saying that he hasn't mde donations to Oxfam. He's a busy man. Maybe he just puts lots of coins in a blue tin or something like that.

February 14, 2008

Who said there's no such thing as bad publicity?

Well it wasn't Lev Leviev because he's not at all happy about the publicity he's been getting with his conflict diamonds and rubies. I don't suppose Yediot Ahranot coined the expression either. They have published this article about the protests against Leviev, but in the print edition, not on their website in Hebrew or in English. Thankfully, help is at hand with translations on the International Solidarity Movement website.

By Yaniv Halili, our correspondent in New York(Translation from Hebrew by Adalah-NY)

February 10, 2008

London and New York: Demonstrations Opposite Lev Leviev’s Jewelry Stores

“Lev Leviev’s diamonds are a crime’s best friends.” This was not the least of that which around 100 demonstrators chanted yesterday outside Lev Leviev’s diamond boutique on elite Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

The demonstration, which was organized by the American chapters of the organizations “Adalah” and “Justice in Palestine,” was designed to strike at the entrance of the Leviev boutique during an important time from a business point of view: Valentine’s Day. The demonstrators have been known to call out to customers, telling them not to buy jewelry for their wives on Valentine’s Day, which will take place on Thursday.

This is the first initiative of this type in New York. Until now, human rights organizations were satisfied with demonstrations against the government of Israel, opposite the Israeli consulate in that city and opposite the UN. Now, two of the groups are taking the protest a step further, in their readiness to cause financial damage to Leviev, the elite jewelry store owned by the Israeli businessman.

The strategy: maintaining a boisterous demonstration outside the boutique and distributing propaganda pamphlets with details chosen by the organizations.

“The crimes that Leviev has carried out are in every place in the world.” Says Issa Mikel, head of the New York chapter of Adalah. He said that the demonstration was not merely focused on “what Leviev has done in the territories.” “Customers of Leviev in New York need to know that he is involved in the construction of four different settlements in the territories including Maale Adumim and Har Homa. People need to know that he is also involved in activity with the corrupt government in Angola and that his company is violating building laws and union labor laws in New York.”

“We want his customers on Madison Avenue to know where Leviev gets his money from and why it is immoral to buy from him.”

Organizers of the demonstration have never worked together with partners across the sea: at the same time as the demonstration in New York yesterday, there was an identical demonstration in London, outside of the Leviev boutique on exclusive Bond Street. The demonstrators in the two countries held identical signs and worked together in order to intensify the boisterous protest.

In addition to the translation here there is also a little something on Democracy Now! which is always good news.

But this failure to publicise these demonstrations by withholding the news from English editions and the web is interesting. Clearly, Yediot Aharanot wants Israelis to know what is going on. The Hebrew language business publication of Ha'aretz, The Marker, also feels that the Israeli business community needs to be warned. And Maariv (another Israeli mainstream daily) is rattled too. But they don't want the morale of the demonstrators lifted and they certainly don't want more people joining them. Hence the reticence.