September 29, 2010

Jewish boat for Gaza stopped by Israel

It looks like Israel got the first word in about how they stopped the Jewish boat for Gaza from reaching there. The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli soldiers has boarded the boat peacefully but now the article has been changed to take a witness account from an Israeli who was on board the boat. Here's the sub-title of the article:
Commando 13 warship peacefully diverts yacht from Gaza after illegally enters waters; IDF spokesperson calls boat "provocation."
And here's the newly inserted first paragraph:
An Israeli passenger who was on board the Irene, a boat carrying Jewish activists and aid to Gaza that was intercepted by the IDF on Tuesday, says there was violence on board despite the IDF Spokesperson asserting otherwise.

"There are no words to describe what we went through on that boat, " said Yonatan Shapira, a passenger and former Israeli Air Force pilot.
Ha'aretz too is reporting witness accounts of violence by Israeli forces:
Earlier Tuesday the IDF reported that Israeli naval commandos peacefully boarded the Jewish aid boat attempting to break a naval blockade on Gaza, saying "IDF naval forces recently boarded the yacht 'Irene', and it is currently being led to the Ashdod seaport along with its passengers."

However, testimonies by passengers who were released from police questioning later in the day seemed to counter the IDF's claims, with Israeli activist and former Israel Air Force pilot Yonatan Shapira saying that there were "no words to describe what we went through during the takeover."
I can't now find any trace of the original Jerusalem Post article but it looks Israel is having increasing difficulty getting its word to be believed, even in the Jerusalem Post. But a later article in the Jeruslam Post, whilst carrying some of the witness statements, still reads: Navy peacefully diverts Gaza-bound Jewish activists. So the hasbara machine is still being briefed on this, it seems.

September 28, 2010

Trailer: Seven Deadly Myths

"We didn't come to them [the Palestinian villagers in the Negev] to collect their taxes. We came to inherit the land from the hands of strangers. That was the basis of our thinking. To inherit the land. And he who inherits, dispossess others. That's why we wouldn't let them return" - Amnon Noiman

Tony Greenstein reports on a report

I just don't get the time to read reports these days but fortunately Tony Greenstein has read the UN's report on Israel's flotilla raid:
The Report of the UN Fact Finding Mission, established on 2nd June by the UN Human Rights Council into the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, is a devastating critique of Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and its aftermath, in particular regarding the Mavi Marmara. That Israel has dismissed its findings as 'biased' etc. is no surprise. Any independent fact finding report, such as the Goldstone Report which they have since quietly admitted is true, is always rubbished by Israel.

At 56 pages, the Report is at once both devastating in its factual conclusions and in its concise legal summary of the implications of those facts. It should be used by activists to nail the Israeli lies and the BBC’s continued peddling of those lies, in particular the Panorama programme, Death on the Med which was broadcast from the viewpoint of the killers.

It is extremely interesting that the BBC was given, according to its own boast, ‘unique access’ to the killers whilst it has refused to supply any evidence to the UN Inquiry. One wonders why it is that the Israeli state thought it could trust the BBC so much. Possibly because it knows that these days the BBC, and its wretched Director General, Mark Thompson, can always be trusted to put out a propaganda line on their behalf.

The Report begins (all numbers in square brackets are paragraph numbers [16] by expressing ‘its profound regret’ at Israel’s ‘non-recognition of and non-cooperation with the Mission.’

Unlike the BBC, the Committee made what was an obviously sensible decision regarding Israeli video footage. [20]
In light of seizure of cameras, CCTV footage and digital media storage devices and of the suppression of that material with the disclosure only of a selected and minute quantity of it, the Mission was obliged to treat with extreme caution the versions released by the Israeli authorities where those versions did not coincide with the evidence of eyewitnesses who appeared before us.’
Israel is now refusing to have its soldiers/sailors give evidence even to the UN inquiry rigged in its favour. No surprise there.

September 27, 2010

Jewish boat to Gaza supported by Miliband's mum

I think there has been a certain amount of relief in leftish, anti-war and Palestine solidarity circles that Ed Miliband beat his brother, David, in the contest for leader of the UK's Labour Party. Brother David was implicated in the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, the torture of rendition victims and he was an ardent supporter of the State of Israel whilst in office and never uttered a critical word after leaving office. I'm not expecting much better of brother Ed really but at least brother David has been punished for his unprincipled opportunism.

Ok, all that is by the by. I have heard many times that the mother of the Miliband brothers and the widow of their father, legendary British marxist, Ralph Miliband, is an activist with Jews for Justice for Palestinians. Her name is Marion Kozak. I don't know if that's her original name or if she remarried.

Anyway, the Jerusalem Post is finding it all rather fascinating in the context of this Jewish boat, Irene, to Gaza and some of the "talkbackers" are in apoplexy over the news.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the British organization which organized the boat sailing for Gaza on Sunday, has over 1,600 signatories including Marion Kozak, the mother of recently elected Labor leader Ed Miliband, according to its Web site.

In an interview over the phone from the UK, Naomi Wayne, a co-founder and acting treasurer of the left-wing group, confirmed Kozak's support and laid out her organization's manifesto.

"Our slogan is Rabbi Hillel's quote that which is hated by you do not do to your neighbor," she said. "We want the end of the occupation and for Israel to sit down and speak with all the Palestinians. We believe the occupation itself is a violent act...What we are hoping to do by sending the boat is reach Gaza in a very peaceful and friendly way. We do not believe people should be locked in without being able to leave."

Jews for Justice for Palestinians was founded in 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada. Besides Kozak other well-known signatories include Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, actor and comedian Stephen Fry, and the late playwright Harold Pinter.
One talkback says of Ed's (and David's) mum, "she should never have survived the holocaust".

September 25, 2010

Nick Clegg's journey to the dark side

Palestinians and their supporters must have been quite pleased at the inclusion of the Liberal Democrats in the UK coalition government as Nick Clegg, the LibDem leader, has expressed criticism of Israel that neither of the leaders of the two larger parties, Conservative and Labour, would ever utter.

Back in January 2009 when Israel was slaughtering Palestinians in Gaza, Nick Clegg was a lone voice among parliamentary party leaders calling for a UK/EU arms embargo against Israel. Subsequently he expressed surprise at Netanyahu's insistence that Israel not simply be recognised period but be recognised as being Jewish. That, according to the Jewish Chronicle, caused quite a stir.

Well now he's Deputy Prime Minister he has to appease the lobby so off he pops to the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel fringe meeting at the LibDems annual conference:
Nick Clegg, the coalition's Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, attended the Liberal Democrats Friends of Israel fringe meeting on Monday 20 September alongside LDFI President Sir Alan Beith MP, the President of the New Israel Fund, Professor Naomi Chazam, and the new Deputy Israeli Ambassador to the UK Alon Roth-Snir. The event was hosted by the long-time chair of LDFI, Monroe Palmer OBE. There was speculation amongst some party members about whether Mr Clegg would indeed arrive at the meeting, given his visit to the UN this week for a meeting on the Millennium Development Goals. He did, however, arrive on time to deliver a short yet highly suggestive speech to a tightly packed audience hanging on his every word with great anticipation. His speech indicated to many previous supporters a shift in his views on the Middle East, evidence, perhaps, of his evolving persona as he deals with the new politics of the coalition government.

He began by thanking the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel for all the work it had done to promote the organisation within the party; in doing so he acknowledged that the party and LDFI did not always see eye to eye. He described himself and "many, many" Lib Dem members as "real admirers of the democratic traditions and liberal ethos of life within Israel' and went on to say that this was a period of "immense delicacy" as talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority take place. He was "acutely aware" that all "we" can do is to create the conditions helpful to negotiations. The only time Mr Clegg referred directly to Palestine was when he noted how much depended on the talks: "So much hinges on the talks, not only the security and safety of the Israeli people which has been under constant threat... but the prosperity and safety and stability and future of the Palestinian communities."
Clegg has certainly come a long way since the days when he could make speeches and write articles with no regard for what he might say, write or do when in power. But of course, Clegg has shown he is not really in power at all. No doubt he is paid more than he was. And he is certainly in office. But he had more power before the election. He had the power to speak out against the racist war criminals of the State of Israel, That's more than he dare do now he is in office, albeit a largely honorary office.

It's worth an endnote that Clegg was accused of a "gaffe" when, as new Deputy Prime Minister, he stood at the despatch box in parliament and denounced the US/UK war on Iraq as illegal. Apparently, he stands by his claim. So now as a member of government he needs to be more obsequious to Israel than to his predecessors or even his government senior partners.

September 24, 2010

Judge states obvious, shock!

Many thanks to a Simon Natas for posting this Guardian online article to the Just Peace UK list. It has Melanie Phillips's husband, Joshua Rozenberg, worrying that protesters who caused damage at an arms manufacturer's factory successfully availed of a "prevention of a worse crime" defence.

People may remember the case from back in July this year:
His Honour George Bathurst-Norman presided over the trial of eight campaigners who were acquitted of conspiring to cause criminal damageat a company in Brighton involved in the manufacture of weapons components for Israeli F-16 fighter jets.

Bathurst-Norman – who retired in 2004 and, therefore, sat as a deputy circuit judge – correctly directed the jury that a defendant has a lawful excuse for damaging someone's property in order to protect property belonging to someone else.

For that defence to apply, it is also necessary to show that the defendant believed that the other person's property was in immediate need of protection and that the means of protection used were reasonable in the circumstances. That would cover the case of a firefighter who smashes a window because he/she believes that a building may be in danger.

In this case, the defendants argued that they had damaged property in Brighton to protect property in Gaza from being damaged by the Israeli air force.

They also argued that they were entitled to use such force as is reasonable in the prevention of crime – in this case, war crimes. Unlike the "lawful excuse" defence, this is an objective test.

It appears from Bathurst-Norman's summing-up that the Crown Prosecution Service had accepted the defendants' claim that the Israelis were guilty of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, nearly two years ago.

That led the judge to make his personal feelings very clear while, in the same breath, telling the jury to ignore them. He said, for example: "It may be as you went through what I can only describe as horrific scenes, scenes of devastation to civilian population, scenes which one would rather have hoped to have disappeared with the Nazi regimes of the last war, you may have felt anger and been absolutely appalled by them, but you must put that emotion aside."

Using the classic formulation that judges adopt when distancing themselves from their own remarks, he added: "You may think that perhaps 'hell on earth' would be an understatement of what the Gazans endured at that time."

There have been calls for Bathurst-Norman to be disciplined over these remarks. He would no doubt say he was doing no more than reminding the jury of the evidence they had heard. The regulations under which judges may be disciplined say that a complaint must be dismissed if "it is about a judicial decision or judicial case management, and raises no question of misconduct".

That leaves Bathurst-Norman in the clear. Even so, I would not be surprised if Lord Judge, the lord chief justice, took the opportunity to remind judges that they should not appear to be giving their own opinions when addressing a jury.

More difficult, perhaps, is the decision to be taken by Dominic Grieve, the attorney general. Under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972, he may seek the opinion of the court of appeal on a point of law in a case that has led to an acquittal. Whatever the outcome, however, the acquittal remains unaffected.

Grieve has been asked – by me and, I believe, others – to seek a ruling from the higher courts on whether the end can justify the means in cases such as this.

To some extent, senior judges have said it cannot – particularly Lord Hoffmann when ruling on charges of criminal damage and aggravated trespass against defendants seeking to disrupt Britain's involvement in the Iraq war.

But that case dealt with different offences. Without a clear ruling from the courts, there is a risk that campaigners will regard Bathurst-Norman's summing-up as some sort of legal precedent. It is not.

Hmm. I don't know if it is or it isn't. As the article says, there have been other examples of such defences being successful though I couldn't find any mention of the Raytheon case.

Zionists are particularly anxious about this case. If you followed the link above to the Daily Mail article, you would have seen that the headline claimed that the judge was accused of, guess what, antisemitism. If you read the article you would see that no one is actually quoted as accusing the judge of antisemitism, not even Jonathan Hoffman of Zionist Federation notoriety. Now that could have been interesting and it still could be. The judge compared the Israeli army actions in Gaza to the wartime atrocities of the nazis and, of course, the zionists in Europe are trying to get that kind of thing made illegal as it forms one of the examples of the stupid EUMC "working definition" of antisemitism. If that got tested in (and thrown out of) court, where would that leave the zionist campaign to have criticism of Israel made illegal?

Israel shoots UN flotilla report first but will ask questions later

Really, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office is "furious" about a report by the UN Human Rights Council condemning Israel's flotilla raid. The bizarre thing is that, from what I can gather from Ha'aretz, the Israelis don't seem to have read the report. Here's some of the story:
Israel is pressing the United Nations to postpone debate on its report on the Gaza flotilla raid until it finishes its own internal inquiry into the incident, the Israeli envoy to the UN in Geneva said on Friday.

The UN Human Rights Commission (sic) released a report on Wednesday which said that Israeli forces violated international law when they raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing nine activists, earlier this year.
Actually the full report is here. It's a pdf and I should point out that I haven't read the whole thing.

What I noticed about the Ha'aretz article was how it concluded after setting out complaints from three branches of the State of Israel. Here are the complaints. From the Israeli envoy to the UN in Geneva:
the outcome of the UN Human rights Commission report had been pre-determined.
There you go. The genteel language of a career diplomat.

No such restraint from Netanyahu who:
slammed the UN report on Wednesday, calling it "biased and distorted."
And no one would expect restraint from the Israeli foreign minister who said that:
the Human Rights Commission (sic) had a biased, politicized and extremist approach.
And the last words of the article?
They have since said that will "study" the report.
Oh I see. So all those complaints were predetermined by Israel? Biased and distorted maybe? Or perhaps they were politicized and extreme?

But Israel's propaganda efforts are in a sorry state when they can slam and otherwise dismiss a report condemning yet another Israeli atrocity when, by their own admission, they have yet to "study" it.

I don't know if it's worth noting as a postscript that, according to Wikipedia, the UN Commission for Human Rights was replaced by the UN Human Rights Council in 2006. Such is Israel's commitment to human rights under international law that they don't even appear to have read the headed paper. I think they must get to the bit where it says, "United Nations" followed by "Human Rights" and then they bin the thing.

September 22, 2010

At last someone calls Israel on its deal-breaking demand

Ah well, it doesn't seem to have made it into the print edition of The Guardian but there is an article in The Guardian on line calling into question the, ahem, appropriateness of Israel having its right to exist as a state for the world's Jews recognised. It's by Omar Rahman:
Recognising Israel's right to exist in peace and security was an existential question, and a necessary preamble to real and sustained peace between Israel and its neighbours. In so doing, the Palestinians had accepted the partition of their historic land and the two-state solution.

Recognising Israel as a "Jewish" state, however, is a question of national character, and is not relevant to the Palestinians living as a foreign nation outside Israel. This is a domestic issue and it is up to the citizens of every country to decide the identity and character of their own state.

Is the international community obliged to determine if Congo wishes to be called the Democratic Republic or Iran the Islamic Republic? No, this is something chosen – in the case of a democracy – by the citizens who live there.

The issue also goes deeper and challenges the demographic reality of the Israeli state and its democracy. The axiom of "two states for two peoples, one Jewish and one Palestinian", currently being peddled by Israeli spokespersons, distorts the demographic reality of Israel in favour of depicting a population that is entirely Jewish.

Although it was intended to be just that, the practicalities of creating that state on land already inhabited by Palestinians left Israel with a significant population that did not fit its Zionist ideology. The very principle of a "Jewish state" in this circumstance is altogether contradictory to Israel's claims to be democratic.

Moreover, by forcing the Palestinian Authority to recognise the state's "Jewishness", Israel is obliging the Palestinians to recognise a system in which Israel's Arab citizens are second class. Those people, who represent 20% of Israel's population, become the "non-Jewish" citizens of the "Jewish state" – a contradiction with serious implications.
I'd question the entire notion of recognising Israel period.

September 19, 2010

France's "justice" persecutes BDS

On 29th October, representatives of CAPJPO Europpalestine, a French BDS group, are to appear in a French court in Paris, to answer charges that publishing the above video of a BDS action that took place in July 2009 at a Carrefour supermarket in Avry, constituted an "offense of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence against a group of people on account of their belonging to the Israeli nation."

The plaintiff, the "National Bureau of vigilance against antisemitism (because, naturally, according to antisemites and fake "vigilantes against antisemitism" alike, to speak against Israel is to attack Jews for being Jewish), is looking for opportunities to promote repression of Palestine solidarity activism, and the French state is more than happy to oblige. Europalestine was chosen out either randomly or out of convenience. As a matter of fact, the action was sponsored by a long list of organizations, including a Jewish group (IJAN) and a national political party (the New Anti-Capitalist Party), both of which it would probably be counter-productive for the Zionists to attack in court.

CAPJPO is asking everybody to host this video in solidarity with their struggle against this spurious accusation of racism, which targets political expression, uses laws against racism to defend war crimes, and is a scandal given the magnitude of the real racism that is spearheaded by the state of Israel and defended by this judicial action.

So please host this video.*

The cited activists also ask everybody to write to
Monsieur le Procureur de la République
près du Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris
Palais de Justice 14, quai des Orfèvres,
75001 Paris, France,
and ask to be included among those charged for racial incitement. We should be proud of being "accused" of associations with such BDS actions against Israeli apartheid. To be accused of racism by such racist rascals is a badge of honor.

Likewise, please take action to protest this type of attempt to persecute activists and to declare solidarity with Palestinians "racist."

This latest judicial persecution is not a single incident but a campaign: This month will come to appeal the conviction of Sakina Arnaud for racial incitement for having damaged an Israeli product packaging. Next month, three activists from Perpignian, Yamina Tadjeur, Jeanne Rousseau et Bernard Cholet From "Collective 66 for Peace and Justice in Palestine" are going to be tried for BDS. Later in October come to trial the cases of Green Party activist Alima Boumedien-Thiery and New Anti-Capitalist Party activist, Omar Salouti. There are probably many more in the pipeline.

Please let the Paris court know that this is not a "French" matter. It is a universal human rights matter, and we've taken notice!


*(BTW, all of you fascist trolls who "stood in solidarity" with Harry's Sewage, this is your opportunity to show that you really care about freedom of expression, not just free smearing of antizionist activists. And no, I don't really expect that you would do it. I'm only pointing it out for the benefit of those confused leftists who don't understand who they are really dealing with.)

Israel's lack of legitimacy

I just stumbled on this article by Faisal Bodi in The Guardian. I could call it timely but being titled Israel simply has no right to exist, as long as the State of Israel exists it will always be as timely as it was when it was first published in January 2001. I remember when it was first published. It is one of maybe two articles that have zionists whingeing that The Guardian is anti-Israel but have a read of it. It's all very straight forward:
Several years ago, I suggested in my students' union newspaper that Israel shouldn't exist. I also said the sympathy evoked by the Holocaust was a very handy cover for Israeli atrocities. Overnight I became public enemy number one. I was a Muslim fundamentalist, a Jew-hater, somebody who trivialised the memory of the most abominable act in history. My denouncers followed me, photographed me, and even put telephone calls through to my family telling them to expect a call from the grim reaper.
Thankfully, my notoriety in Jewish circles has since waned to the extent that recently I gave an inter-faith lecture sponsored by the Leo Baeck College, even though my views have remained the same. Israel has no right to exist. I know it's a hugely unfashionable thing to say and one which, given the current parlous state of the peace process, some will also find irresponsible. But it's a fact that I have always considered central to any genuine peace formula.

Certainly there is no moral case for the existence of Israel. Israel stands as the realisation of a biblical statement. Its raison d'être was famously delineated by former prime minister Golda Meir. "This country exists as the accomplishment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be absurd to call its legitimacy into account."

That biblical promise is Israel's only claim to legitimacy. But whatever God meant when he promised Abraham that "unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the Euphrates," it is doubtful that he intended it to be used as an excuse to take by force and chicanery a land lawfully inhabited and owned by others.

It does no good to anyone to brush this fact, uncomfortable as it might be, under the table. But that has been the failing with Oslo. When it signed the agreement, the PLO made the cardinal error of assuming that you could bury the hatchet by rewriting history. It accepted as a starting point that Israel had a right to exist. The trouble with this was that it also meant, by extension, an acceptance that the way Israel came into being was legitimate. As the latest troubles have shown, ordinary Palestinians are not prepared to follow their leaders in this feat of intellectual amnesia.

Israel's other potential claim to legitimacy, international recognition, is just as dubious. The two pacts which sealed Palestine's future were both concluded by Britain. First we signed the Sykes-Picot agreement with France, pledging to divvy up Ottoman spoils in the Levant. A year later, in 1917, the Balfour Declaration promised a national home for the Jewish people. Under international law the declaration was null and void since Palestine did not belong to Britain - under the pact of the League of Nations it belonged to Turkey.

By the time the UN accepted a resolution on the partition of Palestine in 1947, Jews constituted 32% of the population and owned 5.6% of the land. By 1949, largely as a result of paramilitary organisations such as the Haganah, Irgun and Stern gang, Israel controlled 80% of Palestine and 770,000 non-Jews had been expelled from their country.

This then is the potted history of the iniquities surrounding its own birth that Israel must acknowledge in order for peace to have a chance. After years of war, peace comes from forgiving, not forgetting; people never forget but they have an extraordinary capacity to forgive. Just look at South Africa, which showed the world that a cathartic truth must precede reconciliation.

Far from being a force for liberation and safety after decades of suffering, the idea that Israel is some kind of religious birthright has only imprisoned Jews in a never-ending cycle of conflict. The "promise" breeds an arrogance which institutionalises the inferiority of other peoples and generates atrocities against them with alarming regularity. It allows soldiers to defy their consciences and blast unarmed schoolchildren. It gives rise to legislation seeking to prevent the acquisition of territory by non-Jews.

More crucially, the promise limits Israel's capacity to seek models of coexistence based on equality and the respect of human rights. A state based on so exclusivist a claim to legitimacy cannot but conceive of separation as a solution. But separation is not the same as lasting peace; it only pulls apart warring parties. It does not heal old wounds, let alone redress historical wrongs.

However, take away the biblical right and suddenly mutual coexistence, even a one-state solution, doesn't seem that far-fetched. What name that coexistence will take is less important than the fact that peoples have forgiven and that some measure of justice has been restored. Jews will continue to live in the Holy Land - as per the promise - as equals alongside its other rightful inhabitants.

If that kind of self-reproach is forthcoming, Israel can expect the Palestinians to be forgiving and magnanimous in return. The alternative is perpetual war.
I tried to see what Bodi is up now. He certainly has his detractors but that article certainly hits the spot.

September 18, 2010

This is the way in Amarillo

Many thanks to Joe 90 on the Just Peace UK list for posting this youtube clip about how a multi-faith group prevented a Quran burning ceremony from taking place in Amarillo, USA.

With the Pope visiting the UK and denouncing what he sees as secularism, it's good to see a display of what democratic secularism is all about. It is not about intolerance towards religion per se or of this or that religion. On the contrary, it is about tolerance and acceptance of the adherents of all religions and none.

UPDATE: And many thanks to Cliff in the comments for pointing out that there is an "autotune remix" of "Dude, you have no Quran".

Actually if I had read Joe 90's email right through to the end, he also linked to the autotune remix version but thanks again, Cliff. Oops!

September 12, 2010

Pete Seeger urged to withdraw support for ethnic cleansers of the JNF

I have to admit I was shocked when I first saw that Pete Seeger was lined up to play a gig for one of the organisations most responsible for the instigation and covering up of zionist ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population of Palestine. Even those artists who play gigs in Israel can usually come up with some mealy mouthed justification for their actions or they donate proceeds to some charity or other whilst appeasing the lobby. But what possible excuse can there be for raising funds for ethnic cleansing or for planting forest over the sites where ethnic cleansing has taken place?

News of Pete Seeger's betrayal was greeted at first with a stunned silence from activists though I gather some did write to him privately and, since he doesn't use email, in hard copy.

Well now it's all gone public according to Yahoo news:
Folk music legend Pete Seeger has been asked to abandon an upcoming concert in Israel and show his support for a Palestinian-led cultural boycott of the nation.

The singer/songwriter is billed to perform at the With Earth and Each Other: A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East - an event organised by the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and the Jewish National Fund in November and his involvement has upset activists calling on all musicians to scrap Israeli shows.

Officials at steering human rights group Adalah New York insist they are among 40 organisations urging Seeger to change his mind about the show, and join the likes of the Pixies, Elvis Costello and Carlos Santana in boycotting concerts in Israel.

A spokesman says, "The organisations have called on Seeger to support the Palestinian-led movement for a cultural boycott of Israel, modelled on the artists’ boycott that helped end Apartheid in South Africa.
"Insist"? What's all that about?

The letter, signed by over 40 groups, is here.

September 09, 2010

Sex "as a Jew" verdict still racist

I read in The Guardian last night that the case of the Palestinian guy getting convicted of rape because he passed himself off as a Jew was the result of a plea bargain. Allegedly his real offence was a rape in the conventional sense of a man forcing someone to have sex with him.

I blogged the case here when it was first reported and even the zionists at Harry's Place were bewildered at the obvious racism behind the verdict.

Here's The Guardian (it's in the print edition today apparently so it's worth a letter if you have the time and inclination):
Fresh details have emerged in the case of a Palestinian man an Israeli court convicted of "rape by deception" after he was accused of posing as a Jewish man in order to have sex with a Jewish-Israeli woman.

The case caused international outrage when it was first reported, in July, but now an Israeli newspaper has reported that the conviction was the result of a plea bargain over a violent rape.

Ha'ir, a Tel Aviv weekly and part of the newspaper group that owns Haaretz, published extracts from the victim's unsealed testimony. It also reported that the prosecution had agreed to the reduced charge of "rape by deception" because of the victim's confused account and concern at facing another court appearance.

Saber Kushour, from East Jerusalem, said he had had consexual sex with the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, within minutes of meeting her on a West Jerusalem street.

He was sentenced to 18 months in prison after the Jerusalem district court ruled he was guilty of rape by deception. One of the judges said that, although the sex had been consensual, the woman involved "would not have consented if she had not believed Kushour was Jewish".
That's really just a taste and there is far more detail to the case than in that chunk.

The Guardian article isn't exactly an apologetic for Israel but it is implying that there was more to be gleaned from the case than first time around. I suppose they could be saying that if the woman's allegations are true then he deserves to be convicted of rape and that he deserves a custodial sentence. And it of course would mean that the defendant is not deserving of sympathy.

But that isn't the take at Harry's Place:
A translation of the article from here can be read below.

Having read the full translation:

1. This sounds like a very standard rape case. A typical rape case involves a confused social encounter, assertive sexual conduct from a man, and will often involve women who give confused and contradictory testimony, because they have been drinking or are otherwise vulnerable.

2. A case like this might be subject to some form of plea bargain in the United Kingdom – perhaps with the defendant pleading guilty to indecent assault.

3. Many cases like this end up going to trial in the United Kingdom. There is a political reluctance to plea bargain or discontinue rape trials, even when the evidence is very weak. That is one of the reasons that acquittal rates are so very high.

What makes this story different from any other case disposed of by plea bargain is that the conviction was premised upon the defendant’s acceptance of a significantly artificial “factual” basis, which was itself newsworthy – and disturbing.

Unsurprisingly, the defendant did not mention the complainant’s allegations, or the medical evidence that suggested that sex might not have been consensual. Why would he?

It is a very great pity that the world’s press – including Israel’s – did not treat this story with more caution.

I wonder whether this story will be reported further, outside Israel.

Well I don't know how widely reported it was first time round but the verdict was the verdict however the plea was arrived at. The guy was put away for eighteen months because it was claimed that he passed himself off as a Jew when he was actually an Arab. Does anyone at Harry's Place really believe that in any other western country a plea bargain over an alleged violent rape could be reduced to a plea of guilty to the accusation that the accused had lied about their ethnicity or religion? Surely the racism would have to be inherent to the system in the first place.

Assuming that all the judges had to go on was the guilty plea with the passing off of an Arab as a Jew then both the guilty plea and the sentence were a racist outrage regardless of the true facts of the case. This new twist does nothing to serve the zionist cause from an anti-racist point of view. Rather it goes to show that many of them don't seem to realise that they are racist at all.

September 08, 2010

Bibi will dare but not Blair

Ha! No sooner do we get the news that Blair won't dare face his UK critics than news comes in that Netanyahu is to pop over here to give a keynote speech for the UK's main hasbara outfit, BICOM - The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre.

Here's the Jewish Chronicle:
The JC has learned that Benjamin Netanyahu is to visit Britain in early November. The Israeli Prime Minister will meet the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and will be the keynote speaker at the annual dinner of BICOM, the Israel lobbying organisation, on 1st November.At this stage his full schedule has yet to be agreed but there are no plans yet for other communal meetings, although this may change.
I misread the piece at first and thought that Cameron was going to give the keynote speech to BICOM but that would have been too much of a give-away. As it happens, the JC reported some time after Cameron's "Gaza as prison camp" speech, that they thought he was just playing games and that Obama had put him up to it to pressure Israel - some pressure! I'm sure this meeting with between Bibi and Cameron will be all smiles and business as usual.

With friends like Blair's....

Blair has cancelled another self-promo, this time scheduled for the Tate Modern art gallery. Here's Bloomberg:
Tony Blair cancelled a reception scheduled for tonight at London’s Tate Modern Gallery to mark the publication of his memoirs after the threat of protests.

His decision marked the second public event the former prime minister has called off while promoting the book, “A Journey.” He cancelled a book-signing in London this week after he was pelted with shoes, eggs and plastic bottles in Dublin on Sept. 4 by people protesting the Iraq war. He wasn’t hurt.

“It is sad in a way because you should have the right to sign books or see your friends if you want to,” Blair told ITV’s This Morning program today. “But it was going to cause so much hassle. The people at the party tonight are friends -- and some of them are not political at all.”

If they're friends why doesn't he just invite them to one of his own houses rather than sully the reputation of an art gallery.

Of course, Blair being Blair, he gets even more nauseating in his self-promotion. The cancellation of the gallery do isn't for himself you understand:
“I don’t mind going through protesters; I have lived with that all my political life,” Blair said. “But for other people it can be a bit unpleasant and frightening.”
So can you, you nasty self-serving creep!

September 07, 2010

Blair boycotts Waterstones

So should we all. Showing a rare sign of humanity Blair has finally got so disgusted with himself, he is boycotting his book signing at Waterstones in London. From The Guardian report, the MD of Waterstones isn't a happy fellow traveller:
Waterstone's confirmed that the scheduled book signing had been cancelled, "according to the wishes of the author". The managing director, Dominic Myers, said: "Our job as a bookseller is to bring books to our customers, and where possible enable them to meet authors as well. It is a matter of regret that because of the likely actions of a minority, our customers are now not able to meet a three-times elected prime minister of the United Kingdom, whose book has become our fastest-selling autobiography ever."
But there are other institutions willing to be sullied by Blair's presence:
The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) said it was planning to protest at a launch party for Blair's book at the Tate Modern in London tomorrow night. Lindsey German, convenor of StWC, said: "It's a stain on the reputation of Tate Modern, to host a gathering of war criminals."

The limited number of signed copies of A Journey will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, one copy per customer.
I hope people do boycott Waterstones for years to come and there may even be an immediate price to pay for their collusion with this low-life:
Waterstone's is also having to cope with a number of anti-Blair protesters moving his memoirs to the crime area of their stores, after thousands joined a group entitled "Subversively move Tony Blair's memoirs to the crime section in bookshops".

The Facebook page, which now has almost 8,000 members, urges them to "make bookshops think twice about where they categorise our generations [sic] greatest war criminal".

This could run and run unless they do the decent thing and apologise.

September 06, 2010

Hats off to Ireland, naff off to Israel

Here's some good news for now. See this from Ireland's main broadcaster, RTE:
The European Commission has halted a proposal to allow Israel access to potentially sensitive data on European Union citizens following concerns expressed by the Irish Government.

The concerns arose following the use of forged Irish passports in the murder of a Hamas operative, allegedly by Israeli agents.

In a surprise move this morning, the Commission said they would withdraw the application to effectively recognise Israel's data protection standards as being on a par with those enjoyed in the EU.

According to a spokesman for the Department of Justice, the European Commission acknowledged the concerns expressed by an Irish official about the reliability of the Israeli data protection regime.
There are some technical issues around Israel's data protection but there is a little more to it than that:
the Irish Government had raised concerns in the context of the fraudulent misuse of information on Irish passport holders for an extra judicial killing in Dubai and had articulated its anger about that on a number of occasions.

The objection, he said, was a further manifestation of this anger and protest at what had transpired in relation to, what was in essence, the stealing of data from legitimate Irish passports.

Mr Martin added, however, that he has made it consistently clear that Ireland wants good relations with Israel.

But over the past 18-24 months, he said, a series of events had happened which had put a strain on that.
So good news and bad really. That one of the economically weaker member states of the EU is standing up to Israel is a good thing but a clear majority of member states want those racist war criminals to get their hands on personal information about EU citizens. This will presumably help Israel harass anyone from the EU area who wants to assist the Palestinians in any way, be it campaigning, human rights information gathering or feeding or educating Palestinians. But there's respite because Ireland is digging in...for now.

September 04, 2010

Hats off to Ireland, Shoes off to Blair

Great news from Ireland. According to The Guardian Blair thought that the Irish would love him so much for the fact that he put the finishing touches to a peace process in Ireland that was initiated by his Tory predecessor, John Major, that he wouldn't get the rough ride he can expect in the UK when he flogs his stupid book.
Violence has broken out at the first public signing for Tony Blair's memoirs, with anti-war protesters hurling shoes and eggs at the former prime minister.

The projectiles did not hit Blair as he arrived at a bookshop in Dublin, Ireland, to be greeted by scores of demonstrators chanting that he was a "war criminal" and had "blood on his hands" because of the invasion of Iraq.

Irish police blocked off streets around the Eason store on O'Connell Street following the clashes with activists who tried to push down a security barrier.

The demonstrators also shouted: "Hey hey Tony hey, how many kids have you killed today?"

The city tram service was suspended and shops in the surrounding area also closed.

Buyers at the signing had to hand over bags and mobile phones before entering the store. Undercover detectives mingled with the crowds taking names before Blair arrived at the shop at about 10.30am.
Hmm, "projectiles did not hit Blair"? I used to support the aims and objectives of the anti-war movement but maybe the aim needs a bit more work.

Many thanks to Sarah in the comments.

September 03, 2010

Massive Attack on Israel

This is good news from the New Statesman. It could be better because the Massive Attack in the headline isn't retaliation for Gaza or over 60 years of ethnic cleansing but the solidarity of a very prominent, massive even, musical duo with the Palestinian cause.
The movement for a cultural boycott of Israel in response to its treatment of the Palestinians, modelled on the boycott of apartheid South Africa, could eclipse decades of disingenuous political charades in engaging western intellectuals, academics and artists. Internationally renowned figures such as Naomi Klein and Ken Loach have supported the call, and now one of Britain's most successful bands, Massive Attack, is publicly backing the boycott.

“I've always felt that it's the only way forward," Robert Del Naja, the band's lead singer, tells me when we meet at the Lazarides gallery in Fitzrovia, London. Del Naja is an artist as well as musician and his face and fingers are speckled with paint. Dozens of his pictures are strewn all over the wooden floorboards, drying. "It's a system that's been applied to many countries. It's a good thing to aim for because it applies the continual pressure that's needed."

Musicians have a history of rallying the public to supporting political causes. The global anti-apartheid movement got the fillip it desperately needed when musicians began supporting it. The single "Sun City" by Artists United Against Apartheid in 1985 and the 70th-birthday tribute concert for Nelson Mandela at Wembley in 1988 catapulted the cause into millions of ordinary homes.
Could that happen with the Palestinian cause some time soon? They'll never get a Palestine solidarity show on to mainstream television any time soon but then the internet does kill Israeli PR.

ZioNazi SS

I've said before that I don't like the expression "zionazi". Zionism's bad enough without tacking things onto it. A friend of mine sent me this picture which was in the window of a gallery in Shoreditch in east London.

There I was in a pub, coincidentally not far from Shoreditch, when the picture arrived as a text message. I asked the friend about the picture and she didn't know anything about it except it costs £2,000 so she didn't enquire further.

I don't know what to make of the picture really. See the financial allusions? Dollars, even New Israeli Shekels. You see? Just below the SS in the middle are the two $ signs. And to the left of the dollar signs, NIS. No GBP, no £, except on the price tag. But at two grand, I'm guessing the artist is no beginner. Who is it? I wonder.

September 02, 2010

Blair in Jerusalem

To paraphrase Hannah Arendt, though I'm guessing that Eichmann was more honest in Jerusalem than Blair was in either Palestine or his stupid book. (Nope, I haven't read it. I mentioned before that I use the word "stupid" as a substitute for the f-word).

Blair was in occupied Palestine just recently promoting zionist victory over the natives and neighbours of that country. And he was in America after that to promote his stupid book, presumably because no UK bookshop dared have him given the protests that would ensue.

The Jewish Chronicle in the UK reported that whilst in Palestine
Former British prime minster Tony Blair nailed his colours firmly to the mast of Israel and democracy [!!!] this week in a stunning address to press, politicians and diplomats in Herzliya.

Speaking in his capacity as official envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, Mr Blair challenged critics of Israel not to apply double standards to the Jewish state.
Unbelievable, stunning even. This was days before the publication of his book in which he claims he has cried for the dead in Iraq. Isn't that a double standard? Israel couldn't hope to get away with its persistent war crimes in and around Palestine if it wasn't for the double standards it benefits from. And Blair is the "official envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East". I'm guessing it was a freudian slip that had the JC omitting final insult, peace, from Blair's latest job title.

Oh, on the crying over Iraq thing, did I mention I had a letter published in today's Guardian? Someone in The Guardian claimed that Blair had "admitted" to crying over Iraq. Here's my response:
I am always suspicious when journalists write of admissions rather than claims by politicians. So it is with Nicholas Watt writing that Blair "admits to shedding many tears at the loss of so many lives" in Iraq. If Blair was making a claim that diminished rather than enhanced his reputation, then to say he had "admitted" to something would be appropriate. But if he is making a claim that humanises himself, in spite of all that we now know, then to say he has "admitted" to anything is to participate in his self-exculpation.

Mark Elf

Dagenham, Essex

Ooh! "Self-exculpation". Well the spell-checker never chucked it out so I ran with it.

There's an awful lot of tosh in The Independent about Blair too, but they didn't publish my letter. They did publish several others in response to a wretched piece of nonsense by Blair biographer, John Rentoul. The piece is sub-titled,
Nothing he can say in his book today will stop the flow; the anger against him exists at a deeper level, impervious to reasoned argument, certainly from him
The problem that Blair is a transparent self-seeking bare-faced liar clearly hasn't occurred to Mr Rentoul or it has and he is of the same ilk. None of the letters agree with Rentoul so I'm dreading tomorrow when "balance" might kick in.