August 31, 2011

Musicians against apartheid at the Proms

The Proms is an annual musical event at the Royal Albert Hall in London. I didn't know but apparently it is organised by the BBC but now I do know I am not surprised that this year they have invited the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to perform.  Here's a letter in yesterday's Independent protesting at the BBC siding with the racist war criminals of the State of Israel yet again:

Proms exploited for arts propaganda campaign
As musicians we are dismayed that the BBC has invited the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to play at the Proms on 1 September. The IPO has a deep involvement with the Israeli state – not least its self-proclaimed "partnership" with the Israeli Defence Forces. This is the same state and army that impedes in every way it can the development of Palestinian culture, including the prevention of Palestinian musicians from travelling abroad to perform.
Our main concern is that Israel deliberately uses the arts as propaganda to promote a misleading image of Israel. Through this campaign, officially called "Brand Israel", denials of human rights and violations of international law are hidden behind a cultural smokescreen. The IPO is perhaps Israel 's prime asset in this campaign.
The Director of the Proms, Roger Wright, was asked to cancel the concert in accordance with the call from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI). He rejected this call, saying that the invitation is "purely musical".
Israel's policy towards the Palestinians fits the UN definition of apartheid. We call on the BBC to cancel this concert.
Derek Ball (composer)
Frances Bernstein (community choir leader)
Steve Bingham (violinist)
John Claydon (saxophonist)
Malcolm Crowthers (music photographer)
Raymond Deane (composer)
Tom Eisner (violinist LPO)
Nancy Elan (violinist LPO)
Deborah Fink (soprano)
Catherine Ford (violinist, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment)
Reem Kelani (Palestinian singer, musician and broadcaster)
Les Levidow (violinist)
Susie Meszaros (violinist, Chilingirian Quartet)
Roy Mowatt (violinist, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment)
Ian Pace (pianist)
Leon Rosselson (singer-songwriter)
Dominic Saunders (pianist)
Chris Somes-Charlton (artist manager)
Leni Solinger (violinist)
Sarah Streatfeild (violinist LPO)
Sue Sutherley (cellist, LPO)
Tom Suarez (violinist, New York)
Kareem Taylor (Oud Player/Guitarist and Composer)
Miriam Walton (pianist, organist and French horn player)
I actually got this from the Israel advocacy site, Engage, where the first comment questions the musical credentials of the signatories though not the contention that Israel is an apartheid state as per the UN definition. That's left to the last comment by someone who appears not to know how the UN defines the crime of apartheid.

Dana and Blumenthal do Tel Aviv

Joseph Dana and Max Blumenthal published their promised article on the J14 protest movement, and it is disappointing. The only part of Israel they see is the Ashkenazi middle class of Tel Aviv. That, the protest of that sector, which started the #J14 events, they dismiss as nothing more than an attempt to return to the Zionism of the “good old days.” Fair enough. Everything they say about the limitations of the protest movement, I agree. Although their attempt to offer a pop psychology of the “radical Israeli left” (two people, to be precise) should have been beneath them.

Then there is the bad part. Look at whom they interview, there is a media professional, a mainstream journalist, a young labor apparatchik, a think tank fellow. That is Israeli society? Tent protests happened all the way from Sderot to Kyriat Shmone, places as far in social outlook from Rothschild Blvd as Gary Indiana is from East Village. Even in Tel Aviv they were multiple protests, of very different social make up. Dana and Blumenthal note how the Rothschild encampment chose its location to resonate with the Zionist narrative. Yet veteran Mizrahi activists set up an alternative camp near the “New” central station, amidst piss poor residents, emaciated sex workers, Sudanese refugees and foreign laborers, picking a pre 1948 Arab-Jewish neighborhood destroyed by Zionist “development” as a counter-historical symbol of the crushing brutality and racism of Zionism in Tel Aviv itself. The authors apparently were in Tel Aviv, so why not interview activists who specifically decided against joining the Rothschild camp? Dana is Israeli and Blumenthal is American. Why is it that the only Israel they notice, the only people they care to ask for their opinion, even if only to dismiss them, are the Ashkenazi middle class of Tel Aviv? Is it because these are the people in Israel who are most like themselves?

Then there is the question of expectations. They challenge the idea that this protest movement could "initiate a process that will eventually lead to the unraveling of the occupation and discrimination against Palestinians." There are no doubt those in Israel, as well as in the world, who want to see Israelis leading the movement for Palestinian liberation. It is therefore essential to repeat a thousand times. Only a Palestinian led movement can liberate Palestinians. Besides, Palestinians have already initiated that process. So there is nothing for #J14 to initiate. But unless the Palestinian strategy involves new weapons coming out of science fiction movies, changing Israeli consciousness is going to be part of the struggle and part of the victory. That cannot happen overnight. It will be a process. Nor can it happen of itself. Activists are going to be an essential ingredient, and they will have to have strategies of engaging with that process that is going to be messy and often unpleasant. Israelis cannot see the occupation. That some of them might be able to see the state’s war against the Bedouins, perhaps for the first time, matters. That’s what a process means. This by no means implies that the process has a predetermined direction. On the contrary, the odds are bad, all the exits are in the wrong direction, and it would take both labor and luck to steer it anywhere better. Radical left activists in Israel only stand a chance of succeeding to turn their society around if BDS succeeds in the West and if the Arab revolutions really fulfill their promises, which is far from guaranteed. These different tracks impact each other even if they are not communicating with each other. This is what the petulant keyboard brigadiers like Yossi Gurvits, who whine about lacking “solidarity,” don’t understand, that what the left in Israel (the real left) needs most, is not a pat on the back, but our success in all the struggles that relate to Israel. On the other hand, it could probably do without being criticized for not staying home and watching TV.

August 30, 2011

People and justice in a racist state

I just got this from Independent Jewish Voices.
“The People Want Social Justice” was the main slogan of the masses. But who are the people and what is the justice called for?

The Hebrew word for People (“‘Am“) is usually associated with another word – Israel.  “‘Am Yisrael” is the people of Israel, a religious and national term that relates to the Jewish people who live in biblical Eretz Yisrael or in modern Israel. Citizens of the state who are not Jewish, for example more than one million Arab-Palestinians, never consider themselves as part of the Israeli people (ha-’Am ha-Yisraeli) or of the people of Israel (‘Am Yisrael), as they are not part of the Jewish collective. This works also vice versa. When an Israeli-Jewish person says “we are all one people” it is obvious that the “we” includes Israeli-Jewish society only.
The “justice” desired by the vast majority of the demonstrators is also far from being inclusive. It is a good term, very catchy, and many in Israel want to be associated with the struggle to achieve it. But the fact that the protests began in 2011 – in a period of increasing privatisation in Israel and relative economic prosperity – proves again that the justice is actually “Jewish justice”, or at least a desire to stop processes of economic injustice alone. It is, however, by no means a genuine call for justice. If that was the case then the demonstrators would have been more willing to speak about the most obvious Israeli injustices, which began as soon as the state was established: the discrimination against its Arab-Palestinian citizens. Even with regards to the issue of building and accommodation alone, one can realise how severe is the situation: the lack of Master Plans for Arab villages in Israel, discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel with regards to infrastructures, the letter signed by 50 state rabbis calling for Jewish citizens  ”not to rent apartments to Arabs”, continuous house demolitions in Arab villages and cities in Israel, the refusal to grant building licenses to Israeli-Arab citizens, state-projects whose declared goal is to offend the Arab population in Israel (such as the project of “Judaising the Galilee”) and many more.
All these issues remain unheard in the current protest, and even the activity of one courageous tent (titled “Tent-1948″ or the “Arab-Jewish tent”) that tries to speak about these matters, seems like a drop in the ocean of the Israeli-Jewish protest. Instead, the leaders of the demonstration, so we heard, want the protests to remain a-political. In other words, please do not mention the Palestinian citizens of the state, and also not the 44 years of occupation, and not the money poured into Israeli military establishment and industry. Try to protest only about the common denominator of Israeli-Jewish-Zionist discourse. And if possible, also call it “justice”.
The article is by a Yoni. Whoever they are they certainly burst the bubble of the Israel advocates who are quite proud of the protests because they make Israel look kind of normal.

Ami Kaufman formerly of Ha'aretz complained on 972.mag that the protests in Israel weren't being covered by the mainstream media like for example violence between Israel and its natives and neighbours might be covered. As it happens  the protests had been covered in the LA Times, the New York Times and the Guardian  days before Kaufman's article but perhaps he would have liked an article like Yoni's to set out how a protest over housing can play in the racist political culture of the State of Israel.

August 29, 2011

Brand Israel can't turn a liability into an asset

Here's an article in the Forward about how Israel's sexy branding campaign doesn't quite cover for the repugnant nature of the state and its policies.  See how the writer, Gary Wexler, focuses on the problem of marketing Israeli products even in America:

I pulled out my smart phone and did a quick Google search. I found that Sabra Foods is owned by Pepsico Corporation. But as I searched further, buried under other information, I read that Sabra is a joint partnership between Pepsico and Strauss Foods. The next Google search brought up Strauss Foods of Israel.

Why is the national identity of Sabra Hummus not clearly stated right on its label, like the pride with which spicy red tomato sauces are called Mexican Salsa? Or tomato sauces with garlic and oregano are called Italian Tomato Sauce? Or Indian Curry? Or Greek Olives? Or Turkish Delight? Certainly not because other Middle-Eastern nations can also claim hummmus as their own cuisine. The Turks and Greeks claim everything each other cooks. The same with the Indians and Pakistanis, as well as Mexicans and all their Central American neighbors.

Is the Israeli-ness of the hummus hidden because of boycott fears, legitimately fueled by the smashing of Israeli wines in Europe and Canada? Perhaps. But isn’t America supposed to be the last bastion in the world of big Israel supporters?

I don’t blame Strauss Foods for positioning these product lines in America as “Mediterranean.” They’re in the business of selling food, not selling Zionism. The unfortunate truth, though, is that “Israel,” associated with anything except hi-tech and security products, is proving to be an increasing liability, especially when it is identified with mass consumer goods. Even with all the efforts of Camera, the Israel Project, the Jewish Federations and all the other organizations that blast my email inbox daily with defensive statements, Israel is increasingly emerging as the world’s pariah nation.............

It has become clear that the world doesn’t care about Israel’s wines, its Bauhaus architecture, its fashion, its alluring women, its sexy gay men, its beaches, its ballet or its hummus. The world, its media and its university campuses are riveted upon Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians as well as the state of its democracy.

No, the answer to Israel’s image problems does not depend upon the marketing. It depends first upon the policies.

Actually it might be the state itself that is hard to sell.

August 28, 2011

The lobby in the UK

There are two curious pieces in Friday's Jewish Chronicle.  The first describes how
The [UK] government has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after a minister described Israel's security barrier as a "land grab" and said that Israel deliberately took water away from the Palestinians.
The minister's remarks were in a video. Here's more detail:

In the video Mr Duncan declared: "The wall is a land grab. It hasn't just gone along the lines of the proper Israel boundary. It's taken in open land which actually belongs to Palestine". He added: "Israeli settlers can build what they want and then immediately get the infrastructure so that takes the water deliberately away from Palestinians here."
The UK has previously told Israel that it believes the security barrier encroaches on Palestinian territory and the government has a consistent policy of opposition to settlement building.
The Board of Deputies wrote to Mr Duncan on Monday to demand the withdrawal of the video, copying in his boss, Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, and Foreign Secretary William Hague.
The video was taken down shortly afterwards.
So the Board of Deputies can effectively order the removal of a video from a UK government website but it gets worse. In a front page comment, Martin Bright, the JC's political editor wrote the following, under the headline, It was a Palestinian narrative:
Ministers are in a very difficult position on this matter because Mr Duncan was, strictly speaking, doing no more than expressing official UK government policy. It does believe that Israel has failed to keep to its borders in constructing the security wall, and it is opposed to settlement building and the implications for natural resources such construction brings with it.
So a UK minister has used a video on a government website to express government policy on Palestine and the Board of Deputies of British Jews has told him not to do that.  And he has dutifully removed the video from the site.

We now have two front page articles in the most recent edition of the Jewish Chronicle boasting of a Jewish lobby group's ability to affect government behaviour and policy.  Next week perhaps there will be a couple of front pages telling us that it is antisemitic to speak of a Jewish lobby.

In fairness to Jews like me, it should be called the zionist lobby and the Board of Deputies should make it clear it only represents a zionist perspective.  But of course honesty has never been the best policy for zionists and honesty is certainly not going to be the policy of either the Board of Deputies or the Jewish Chronicle any time soon.

August 26, 2011

Israel murder campaign against Gaza continues

Notice how at the end the Al-Jazeera correspondent presents the standard false equivalence between Israel and Gaza. Mubarak fell and now aljazeera English replaced him.

August 25, 2011

The mighty Zionist struggle against racism

The relation between Zionism and racism never ceases to amaze. On the one hand, Israel's willing apologists can't see 90% of the racism in Israel. Some can't see 110%. On the other hand, they have an ear with absolute pitch and subliminal sensitivity, that identifies not just racist notes, but even forth and fifth harmonics of racism, no matter how inaudible even to expert musicologists. But they hear those exquisitely difficult to hear tones on two conditions only: 1. The victim of racism is not an Arab. 2. The "perpetrator" of racism has criticized Israel. If those two conditions are not met, you can treat these "anti-racist" lions to the crudest racist diatribes and be certain they will never ever roar. Such ears, carefully attuned to hear only what's important to the hunt and discard everything else, are an evolutionary marvel fit for a David Attenborough TV special. If I didn't know better, I'd suspect the Volcani Center found a way to genetically engineer that old Zionist dream, a "new man."

The latest example is Adam Holland's assault on Silverstein's "racism." Now, if you want to know who Adam Holland is, it would be enough to note that he lists among his recommended links, MEMRI, a US government funded, Israeli security apparatus initiated, pro Saudi antisemitism, but otherwise Islamophobic, (mis)translation and disinformation service. You can go through his blog, but I saw nothing there to cast doubt on the idea that Adam Holland major concern is defending Israeli apartheid.

Holland is unhappy that Richard Silverstein dared criticize a Black politician for taking AIPAC's blood stained money and for writing (was it a quid pro quo, or just the appearance thereof?) a nauseating op-ed in Der Jerusalem Stürmer. I must thank Silverstein for reading through that filth, as I would otherwise not know of it. In that op-ed, Jesse Jackson "advises" Palestinians (like a Mafioso, without even saying it) not to seek UN recognition, and worse, not to engage is massive civil, non-violent protest, because of the negative effect that this will have on the US. To add to the injury, he used Martin Luther King as his inspiration for that advice! In the same breath, Jackson also criticized Palestinians for NOT having a non-violent resistance (which is a lie) AND attacked (in a racist, ad hominem way) Marwan Barghouti for calling for non-violent resistance, AND advocated himself that Palestinians should be "pursuing a path of nonviolent active resistance." In this mishmash of lies and nonsense, he also approvingly cited Israel's top fascist Avigdor Lieberman, commended Netanyahu for his willingness to meaningless "talk," and, in a telling reflection of this knave's genuflection before US and Israeli militarism, referred to his own visit in Israel as "boots on the ground."

To be clear, other than the fact that Jackson used MLK to justify surrender to racism, there was nothing about Jackson's performance to which the fact that he is African-American makes any difference. It was the kind of weaseled, uninformed, stupid, anti-people, militaristic, genuflecting and obsequious to power performance that one expects from anyone feeding at the trough of US gunboat capital. That is also a point on which I will disagree with Silverstein, since his focus on the Black Caucus's relation with AIPAC did not include any substantial argument related to their role as representatives of African American interests, there was no reason to criticize Black representatives separately from white representatives on matters where there is really no difference between the two.

What is Holland's smokin' gun? Silverstein spelled words without the final 'g', "whorin' and schnorrin'". That, according to Holland's exquisitely tuned ear, is supposed to be a parody of African American linguistic practices. puleeeeze! Is that it! Dropin' that f**in' g' is racist? As Silverstein points out, the phrase was applied to Congress, not to Jackson, and the usage is all American, just listen to George Bush speakin'. It could have been a racist overtone if Silverstein had used the form specifically to parody Jackson, which he didn't. But here's a deal, dear Adam, if you support the Palestinian Right of Return, I will support legislation that forbids Jewish Israelis from using expressions such as "dir balak" as well as mangling "yl'an dinak." Together we can score two against racism!

Then Holland got exercised by Silverstein's reply, titled "The Negro's greatest friend," a title which Holland found offensive. I assume it was supposed to be offensive, because it was clearly meant to offend Holland by painting him as a kind of benevolent white guy who supported slavery but got really offended when slave owners didn't use Mr. and Mrs. when talking to their slaves. If that was Silverstein's intention, bully! Although the pose Holland is striking is worse. Holland is using false accusations of racism against one group of people, African Americans, in order to defend racism against another group of people.

Far from us however to discourage Holland from his new commitment to fighting racism. We certainly need more people. Here are some interesting topics that, given his present activities, suggest Holland might be uniquely qualified to tackle: the use of white racist imagery and arguments in the US political discourse in support of Israel mass murdering of Palestinians, for example, by Rabbi Hier. The use of the false accusation of antisemitism in order to derail African-American attempt to win reparations. The role of Zionist donations in undermining political representation for poor and oppressed African American communities. The historical ties between Black liberation movements and Palestine. The link between Black struggle and BDS. One can go on. Lots of work for you, Adam! We'll keep an eye on your progress.


Mondoweiss, as usual, was first on the story, and as often, got high on its hobby horse and missed the point. Although it is surprising he didn't, Holland did not define the phrase "pro-Israel rich Jews" as racially offensive, although he clearly didn't like it. His attack on Silverstein was, for a change, not riding on antisemitism, but on racism against Blacks. That is also common Zionist practice, and something worth criticizing in its own sake, not only in solidarity with Palestinians, which Weiss gets, but also in support of the millions of African Americans who continue to be victims, as jail inmates and their families, as poor people, as evictees, as unemployed, of US imperialism, militarism, racism and capitalism. That latter point, I am afraid, is still one with which Weiss has quite a lot of difficulty.

UPDATE: Another thought

The reason J Street attacked Silverstein has nothing to do with ideas. J Street is building power in Washington, and they need powerful friends. Jackson is the kind of Democratic weasel who is closer to J-Street ideologically. J-Street, by presenting itself as more "balanced," can help Jackson reconcile his African American voters with apartheid in a way AIPAC cannot. If J-Street cannot win Jackson, it has no hope of ever getting anyway near power. That is why it is defended Jackson.

August 22, 2011

No Israeli dates for Ramadan

Another "This is how it's done" video from London. This time of a successful action that got a store to pull out its Israeli dates and promise not to stock Israeli products in the future. compliments also for the store owners for quickly admitting their mistake.

Gideon Levy attacks Israel's self-appointed protest princess (from the left!)

Gideon Levy at his best, performing a public service with a full blooded attack, (from the left, for God sake!), on the phony, opportunistic, "social-democratic," (actually national-socialist) Shelly Yachimovich, who thinks the tent protest is her ticket to the PM office.
The fake left came out of the closet once again this week, and this time it's called Shelly Yachimovich. In an interview with Gidi Weitz in Haaretz magazine, the candidate for the leadership of Labor revealed her worldview: social democracy without ethics, chauvinism just like that of the right - a distorted, disguised and laundered left.
Bad old Labor has come in from the cold: social justice for Israelis only. There is no such thing, except in a country where ostensible social democrats established the disinheritance enterprise. And now an ostensible social democrat is their successor.
Drink the olive oil produced in the settlement of Har Bracha (Mount of Blessing ), Shelly, whose curse you don't even begin to understand. You will find it tasty. But olive oil that is produced from stolen trees on exploited land cannot touch the lips of a person of conscience. You say that you are against boycotts? Any moral person will have to boycott you from now on. Anyone but Yachimovich in the primaries.
We already thought we had been weaned from that, that Labor had expressed remorse for the settlements, for which it bears more responsibility than any other party; Labor is their founding father. But even in the summer of 2011, Yachimovich sees no sin in them. The land was stolen, its owners are oppressed, their nation is battered, living under a tyrannical regime - one reason being the existence of the settlements. And the pretender to the throne of the left sees nothing wrong in that. She has a particularly original explanation. They were in the consensus. From now on, be aware: All the injustices and crimes of history will be justified after the fact, if they were in the consensus.
Nor does the princess of Israeli social democracy see any ethical problem in the disgraceful exploitation of Palestinian workers. She has never taken an interest in their tribulations, their checkpoints, their inhuman daily routine, nor in the tens of thousands of unemployed produced by the occupation, who are denied work because of their national affiliation.
She hasn't heard about the regime of separation in the territories, she is concerned only about the Jewish poor. But every night, half an hour's drive from her home, thousands of workers crowd at the checkpoints like domestic animals. Thousands of others sleep and are hunted like wild animals. That doesn't interest the priestess of social justice. Just as there is no social democrat in the world who isn't concerned about the rights of the immigrants in his country, there is no genuine Israeli leftist who won't fight against this injustice.
Nor does Yachimovich see any connection between the huge sums that stream into the settlements on the one hand, and social hardship on the other. The philosopher of the left says "that is unrelated to the situation." Why? Because a school that is built in the settlements would have been built in Israel. For her too, money is everything, as it is for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and businessman Nochi Dankner. But even if we set aside the huge expenditures allocated for protecting the students of this school and the inflated budgets of the settlers' networks, what about the immorality of building it, for heaven's sake? It doesn't interest her.
With a left like that we no longer need a right. Just when an impressive social protest has awakened here, one of its spiritual leaders is taking us back to Labor's dark days, when with one hand it presumed to take care of the workers and with the other it was involved in disinheritance. Just when it seemed that Israelis were beginning to ask the right questions, this idea came and hit us between the eyes. Yachimovich's justice remains chauvinist justice.
The interview with her is important: it exposed a truth. About 10 months ago, I published an article about her in this newspaper, entitled: "Sweden's welfare minister." I thought at the time she was suited to be a Scandinavian welfare minister, but (still ) not an Israeli leader. At the end I wrote - excuse me for the lack of modesty - "Run, Shelly, run, but finally get up your courage and wave all the flags."
I naively believed at the time that Yachimovich's problem stemmed from opportunism and a lack of courage to risk getting burned, and that was why popular struggles - such as those against the tycoons and in favor of the workers - sufficed for her. I thought that deep in her heart she understood that social justice does not go hand in hand with occupation, and that only fear was silencing her. I was wrong.
It was neither opportunism nor cowardice, but something far worse. A provincial and benighted worldview, with a double standard, which maintains that social justice stops at the Green Line. Now all those who favor social justice must rid themselves of this enemy of justice. A star was born in Labor, and she is the star of the chauvinists and the settlers. (Haaretz, 21 August 2011    )
There is a simple principle that can save everyone a lot of unnecessary question marks. Nothing good ever comes of Israel's labor party. (btw, Levy is too generous. Yachimovich is both benighted and opportunistic. She endorses racism because she is a racist, and because in Israel racism opens doors and qualifies for the high office she craves. )

August 19, 2011

Smash something!

With all the moral panic about riots that is washing over the UK, the sadistic response of the state, the tsk-tsk-ing of the professional intellectuals, and even the attempts of revolutionaries to correct the mistakes of the masses, such as the failure of the hoi polloi to attack the right targets, missing is an actual apology for rioting (the word 'apology' is used in here in the classical sense, not an expression of regret, but a defense in the court of letters, an archaism which is appropriate because riots have been with us at least since a beret wearing animal wrote a note on Eve's facebook wall, inciting her to help herself to someone else's private property, God forbid!

Good historians (or as they are known affectionately in the nuttier parts of the spectrum, "cultural Marxists") have long noted that riots are guided by theories about right and wrong, and in particular, theories about what the economy should look like. E.P. Thompson cleared the way in his groundbreaking article about the 18th century English food riots, "The moral economy of the English crowd in the 18th century." As happens to all good ideas, it spawned an industry of "riot studies," ranging from the awful to the brilliant. Among the latter, a special word of recommendation is requisite for Le Roy Ladurie's Carnival in Romans, as well as for EP Thompson's own "Whigs and hunters: the origin of the Black Act," in which Thompson examines the social origins of another sadistic response of the British state to rioters. Who says the English don't value tradition?

The following is not a "riot study," and will therefore stay clear from any half-baked sociological observation, but a defense, on the level of principle, of riots in general, not of this particular riot with its particular grievances and trajectories. This is not to say that riots are good strategy, or that this riots was good strategy, or that I disagree with all the critique of the riot offered by people who do know better (a category excluding everyone in the mainstream press or political establishment). But a fair balance sheet has two columns. This is strictly about the less mentionable one, the positive.

Riots redistribute

In the wake of recent weeks in London, the Gini Coefficient of the UK inched down 0.00002 (a wild guestimate). Surely, burning cars is not the most efficient way of lowering the Gini. But nobody else is doing even that much.

Riots are Keynesian

During the Great Depression, Andrew Melon recommended roughly the same policies that are enacted now by governments today under the name of "austerity": "liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers..." In contrast, Keynes suggested that the government should hire people to dig useless holes and then fill them in order to boost the economy. While the UK government is on the side of Melon, the rioters are objectively on the side of Keynes. Every smashed window has to be mended. Someone will have to be paid to do it (maybe even the brother-in-law of the person who smashed it). As a model of economic growth, smashing London is not as painless as Keynes imagined the New Deal should be, and yet it is a lot less painful than what the current UK government has in mind. It is also somewhat less immoral than the military Keynesianism of Bush and Blair, which consisted in hiring the people who might otherwise riot and sending them to smash Baghdad and Kandahar.

Riots are an expression of our collective super-ego

If one brings up Freud at all, most people (including Freud) think riots are an expression of our id. They are wrong.

Remember Hamlet?
What a piece of work is a man! How noble in
Reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving
how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! and yet to me, what is
this quintessence of dust?
400 years later, have we improved on Hamelt's gap between the actions of angels and the quintessence of dust? Look at the world we've made. Slavery, genocides, billions of people degraded, not enough caviar in Harod's to feed millions about to die of hunger in Somalia. Is this the image of a creature "noble in reason," "infinite in faculties," "in action like an Angel"? And as we grow in power, as technology multiplies our capacity to act exponentially, as science and modern communication increases our apprehension exponentially, how much more crushing the magnitude of the gap between what is and what can be should be for us than it was for Hamlet's generation? Don't you feel like driving a sword through a curtain, or at least smashing something, just for thinking about it? You should. I mean, you should smash something.

Riots are participatory

You can't elect people to riot for you. That alone makes rioting infinitely better than democracy as a way of making collective decisions. True, it is not really a mechanism for decisions. Yet. But it prefigures, "as through a glass darkly," the potential of popular power. To be fair, this is quite ambiguous. It is a service to the ruling class that popular power should be prefigured only through such violent and destructive forms that would scare most people away from ever wanting to participate. We have nothing today remotely like the factory committees that sprung up in Allende's Chile for example. That is why it is so important to keep in mind the overwhelming presence of the dark glass, which is our current economic and political system, and to imagine, as difficult as it is, what it would be like to see popular power one day without it, "face to face."

Riots separate the women from the girls

I saw on one of the videos from the riots that made the rounds, a women walking calmly through the rioters, like an apparition, getting to a motorcycle, setting it ablaze, than walking calmly away. That was sub-zero cool. If you know a teenager looking for a role model, send him or her this video. It beats Christina Aguilera 20 to 1.

Riots reconstitute culture

George Bataille observed that the essence of human culture is waste, represented in all religions through the centrality of the sacrifice. Closed circuit efficiency and mindless accumulation, which are the central values of our economic system, are the opposites of human culture. There are not just wrong values. They are anti-values. Riots enact, (again, "through a glass darkly,") the potluck, a moment of shared, sacrificial, collective destruction that affirm humanity as surplus value, as that which remain after we satisfy our needs, as waste, as value that serves no purpose except for being consumed and destroyed, rather than accumulated. Think of Marx's metaphor of capital as vampiric, undead labor. Undead labor is labor that is prevented from dying. The riot is the ceremony of driving a stake through the heart of undead labor, in order to release the surplus value that was appropriated in it, and return it to its living, that is, to its dying, form, which, through sacrifice and "inefficient," but socially shared, waste, is the form of culture itself. A burning motorcycle is an offering.

Riots can be, paraphrasing Herman Melville, "my Harvard and my Yale"

When the cost of university skyrockets, the number of people who can afford to study the history of the Paris Commune within hushed libraries diminishes. Riots offer a democratic alternative, with low entrance fees and no artificial exams, for learning "political science", namely, what is the power of the state and what is the power of the people, how are each manifested and exercised, how the latter can overcome the former, and also, crucially, what doesn't work.

Riots exercise the cardiovascular system

This one goes without saying. Participating in riots also causes the brain to release endorphins, which feels good.

August 18, 2011

Artists against Israel's attack on Jenin theatre

This isn't news now but I only just received the following press release from "Friends of Jenin Freedom Theatre:


New York, N.Y., August 17, 2011—More than 260 artists and supporters of the arts—including dozens of prominent playwrights, actors, directors, filmmakers, producers and theater professors from the U.S., New Zealand, Israel, England and other countries—have signed a public letter to Israeli authorities decrying the Israeli military’s attacks on The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, a northern city in the West Bank, Palestine.

The statement was hand-delivered today to the Israeli Mission in New York and the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. The U.S. artists include Edward Albee and Tony Kushner, Pulitzer prize-winning playwrights; actors Susan Sarandon, Olympia Dukakis, Alec Baldwin, Mandy Patinkin, Kathleen Chalfant and Mercedes Ruehl; prominent theater educators such as James Bundy of the Yale Drama School and Catherine Coray and Mark Wing-Davey of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

A total of 267 artists and supporters of the arts community signed the protest, which called the Theatre “a beacon for artistic expression, offering youth in Jenin a safe space in which to express themselves, and to explore their creativity and emotions.”

The statement urged the Israeli military authorities to release those arrested or make their charges public and to pay compensation for  the buildings that were damaged.

 (A full statement and a list of all the signers can be found at the end of this release.)

The open letter follows an Israeli army attack on the Jenin-based theater that occurred on July 27 at 3:30 a.m. during which soldiers hurled rocks at the building, knocking out many of the windows.  The theater’s facilities manager was arrested, along with the president of the theater’s Jenin Board, whose home was also damaged.
On August 5, Israeli forces blindfolded and arrested a 20-year old acting student, part of The Freedom Theatre’s young acting troupe, at a checkpoint near Jenin.

“We have been very concerned about the health and safety of our colleagues since their arrests,” said Constancia Dinky Romilly, President of the NY-based support group, Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre.
“Our supporters,” Romilly continued, “have been calling the authorities in Jenin and in Washington but no one has given us any information about their condition or the charges facing them, if there are any.  This is a truly shocking attack on a cultural institution in Palestine and one more horrific example of what goes on in a country under occupation.

For further information, call Jen Marlowe at 202-375-3492.

A full statement and list of signatories follows.

We the undersigned, members and supporters of the arts community, deplore the recent attacks in Jenin on The Freedom Theatre, its people and property. The Freedom Theatre is a beacon for artistic expression, offering youth in Jenin a safe space in which to express themselves, and to explore their creativity and emotions. The Theatre has the following admirable goals:

-To raise the quality of performing arts and cinema in the area.

-To offer a space in which children and youth can act, create and express themselves freely, imagining new realities and challenging existing political, social and cultural barriers.

-To empower the young generation to use the arts to promote positive change in their community.

-To break the cultural isolation that separates Jenin from the wider Palestinian and global communities.

To our dismay, the Israeli military attacked The Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp at 3:30 a.m. on July 27, 2011, hurling rocks at its building and damaging windows.  During this raid, they arrested Adnan Naghnaghiye, the Theatre's facilities manager, and then went to the home of Bilal Saadi, the President of the Theatre's Board in Jenin, and arrested him after damaging his home.  Charges against them have not been made public.

On August 6, 2011, while at a checkpoint crossing with members of the Theatre's acting troupe, soldiers of the Israeli military arrested, handcuffed and blindfolded Rami Awni Hwayel, a 20-year old third-year acting student.

Calls to the military authorities to get information about all three have yielded no information.

We call on the Israeli government either to make public any charges against the three Freedom Theatre personnel or release them immediately.  In addition, we insist that the Israeli military pay damages for the destruction to the Theatre and to Mr. Saadi's home.

We call on all supporters of the arts everywhere, including our fellow artists and supporters of the arts in Israel, to support The Freedom Theatre as an inspiring source of cultural understanding and artistic hope and to demand that attacks against it cease.

Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre
P.O. Box 592
Tarrytown, NY 10592
917- 991 -5653
Affliliations for Identification Only
Kathleen Chalfant, actor, New York
Henry Chalfant, filmmaker/photographer, New York
James Bundy, Dean/Artistic Director,Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre, Connecticut
Miriam Margolyes, actor, London, UK
Lucy Sexton, Producer, New York
John Tydeman, O.B.E., Drama Director, Former Head BBC Radio, UK
Clare Coss, Playwright, New York
Karen Malpede, playwright/director, New York
George Bartenieff, actor/producer/director, New York
Joanne Beretta, singer, New York
Austin Pendleton, actor,director, playwright, teacher of acting, New York
Michael Cumpsty, actor/teacher, New York
Michele Zackheim, writer, New York
Ben Rivers, psychotherapist, applied theater specialist, California
Andrew Courtney, citizen, artist, photographer, New York
Ben Aylsworth, senior producer CBC TV, Ontario, Canada
Richard Congress, author, music producer, adjunct professor, New York
Adam Z. Grumbach, teacher, arts supporter, New York
Corey Johnson, actor, student, California
Lisa Fender, TV producer, CBC, Toronto, Canada
Carol Horwitz, arts supporter, New York
Haifa Staiti, arts supporter, Vancouver, Canada
Heidi Rosbe, amateur film maker, One Brave Thing, New York
Catherine Coray, arts professor, NYU TSOA Dept of Drama, director & curator, New York
Heather Davis, student, art writer, Montreal, Canada
Ann Cook, arts supporter, New York
Jenny Heinz, arts supporter, psychotherapist, New York
Jeremy Lawrence, actor, playwright, New York
Betty Shamieh, writer, New York
Bettina Aptheker, writer, professor, New York
Barbara Harvey, lawyer, arts supporter, Michigan
Detroit Chapter, Jewish Voice for Peace, Michigan
Barbara Howard, New York Theatre Workshop, arts supporter, New York
Vic Ulmer, educator, California
Barby Ulmer, educator, California
Waris Hussein, film,TV, theatre  director
Grace Said, arts supporter, Maryland
Ahmad Shirazi, filmmaker, film appraiser, New York
Ann Shirazi, freelance illustrator, film appraiser, New York
John Erickson, arts supporter, Northern California Friends of Sabeel, California
Barbara Erickson, arts supporter, Northern California Friends of Sabeel, California
Jeff Jones, arts supporter, New York
Jane Stillwater, writer, actor, California
Helen Engelhardt, independent audio documentary producer, poet, writer, storyteller, New York
Kathleen Russo, producer, New York
Joan Countryman, arts supporter, Rhode Island
Christine Jones, artistic director Theatre for One, New York
Jeanie Shaterian, arts supporter, California
Joan Vieira, teacher, Texas
Brad Chamberlain, arts supporter, Washington
Nora Lapin, arts supporter, New York
Nitin Sawhney, Ph.D., assistant professor media studies, New School for Public Engagement, NY
Tony Litwinko, writer, editor, friend of the arts, California
Salam Al-Rawi, arts supporter, New York
Kelly L. Grotke, PhD, academic & friend of the arts, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, Finland
Catherine Hanna, director, teaching artist -theater arts specialist, New York
Bruce Robbins, arts supporter, professor, Columbia University, New York
Mohammad Sabaaneh, cartoonist, Palestine
Graham MacPhee, PhD, academic, arts supporter, Pennsylvania
Annick Le Floc’hmoan, arts supporter, France
Sunaina Maira, professor, writer, arts supporter, California
Ruth Tracy, arts supporter, Ohio
Allen Bergson, arts supporter, New York
Deirdre Bergson, arts supporter, writer, New York
Elly Bulkin, arts supporter, New Jersey
Kathy Engel, poet, teacher, activist, New York
Sybille Pearson, playwright, teacher, New York
William Ota, retired high school math teacher, arts supporter, California
Katherine Wilson, Middle East Studies Organization, Graduate Center/City University of New York
Vivian Zelaya, arts supporter, California
Mercedes Ruehl, actor, New York
Patricia Ann Abraham, arts supporter, South Carolina
Marjorie Wright, filmmaker, producer, New York
Mark Russell, director of the under the radar festival, The Public Theater, New York
Nejwa Ali, arts supporter, New York
Hazel Kahan, artist, writer, radio host, New York
Robert Bethem, arts supporter, California
Sloan Shelton, arts supporter,
Zamir Havkin, arts supporter, Israel
WESPAC, New York
Oskar Eustice, Artistic Director, the Public Theater, New York
Tony Kushner, playwright, New York
David Henry Hwang, playwright, New York
Mandy Patinkin, actor, singer, New York
Maria Goyanes, Associate Producer the Public Theater, New York
Richard Sentner, Jr., arts supporter, Massachusetts
Simone Zelitch, novelist, Pennsylvania
Suzanne Gardinier, writer, New York
Shaina Low, arts supporter, New York
Silvia Tennenbaum, writer,
Evelyn Crawford, arts supporter, Georgia
Sheila Slater, arts supporter, New York
Scott Kennedy, arts supporter, California
Terri Ginsberg, Ph.D., college professor - cinema studies Board member, International Council for Middle East Studies, New York
Maria Tucci, actor, New York
Naila Alatrash, theatre director, actress, Syria
Jane Adas, retired professor of music, New Jersey
Jennifer Little, actor, director, educator, New Jersey
Jonathan House, MD, arts supporter, New York
Michael Ratner, attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York
Terry Weber, teacher, arts supporter, New York
Matthew Lombard, attorney, California
Jan Bauman, retired photographer and arts supporter, California
Leopold Lambert, architect, writer, New York
Clemency Burton-Hill, actor, writer, broadcaster, New York/UK
Sarah Schulman, playwright, New York
Orel Protopopescu, author, poet, New York
Mark Wing-Davey, Chair, Graduate Acting, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
Martha Mangan, arts supporter, New York
Mangalika de Silva, arts supporter, New York
Michael Levin, musician, Illinois
Anne Bogart, Artistic Director SITI Company, Professor Columbia University, New York
Janet M. Fishman, actress, playwright, professor University of the Arts, Pennsylvania
Lisa Schlesinger, playwright, Illinois & Iowa
Caitlin Stilin-Rooney, arts supporter, Pennsylvania
Bob Zellner, writer, New York
N.M.B. Piette, arts supporter, The Netherlands
Khalid Franklin, arts supporter, New York
Willemijn Lamp, cultural entrepreneur, journalist, The Netherlands
Karin Pally, arts supporter, California
Pamela Cullerton, arts supporter, Illinois
Steven Fake, background/extra worker in film industry, arts supporter, Louisiana
Caridad Svitch, playwright, New York
Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director, Grassroots International, Massachusetts
Diane Lefer, author, playwright, California
Karen Platt, arts supporter, California
Chiori Miyagawa, playwright, educator, Bard College, New York
Judy Richardson, documentary filmmaker, Massachusetts
Jason Grote, playwight & television writer, New York
Elizabeth Hess, performer, playwright, professor, New York
Jane Hirschmann, arts supporter, New York
Richard Levy, artist, civil rights lawyer, New York
Margaret R. Zellner, Ph.D., L.P., psychoanalyst, behavioral neuroscientist, arts supporter, NY
Brian Pickett, theatre teacher, New York
William Tracy, editor, Washington
Shane Ann Younts, voice and speech teacher, NYU, dialect coach Broadway, New York
Iman Aoun, artistic director, Ashtar Theatre, Palestine
Cornelia McGiver, arts supporter, New York
Nhu Miller, arts supporter, California
Tom Miller, arts supporter, California
Roberto Gutiérrez Varea, theater director, Associate Professor, Performing Arts and Social Justice, University of San Francisco, California
Stephanie Gilman, educator, New York
Brenda Wehle, actor, New York
Edith Cacciatore, arts supporter,
Stephan Wolf-Schönburg, actor, acting teacher at The Freedom Theatre, Germany
J. Ed Araiza, actor, director, playwright, New York
Diana Wilson, musician/arts supporter/peaceseeker, California
David McReynolds, arts supporter, New York
Noelle Ghoussaini, playwright, director, arts educator, New York
Joyce Kozloff, artist, New York
Kathy Roberts, arts supporter, Massachusetts
Elspeth Murray, Company Manager, Puppet State Theatre Company, Scotland
Doris Soroko, writer, New York
Eldad Benary, sound engineer, supporter of the arts and of human rights, New York
Rich Siegel, musician/songwriter, RS Musical Services, New Jersey
Josh Perlstein, actor, director, university professor, Massachusetts
Esti Marpet, arts supporter, New York
Tom Freudenheim, arts supporter, New York
Louis Williams, arts supporter, Israel
Sarah Patterson, arts supporter, New York
Donald Patterson, arts supporter, New York
Susan Lourenco, arts supporter, Israel
Dyala Husseini, arts supporter,
Monica Raymond, writer, Massachusetts
Mary Dwan, painter, poet and clinical psychologist, British Virgin Islands
Theodora Skipitares, theater director, New York
Nancy Fleischer, arts supporter, California
Jeremy Kamps, writer, educator, New York
Gideon Spiro, journalist, peace and human rights activist, Israel
Rafael Magnes, photographer, New York
Ify Nwokoye, yoga teacher, Connecticut
Miriam Adams, Retired science/reference librarian/ researcher/Painter /cello player /arts supporter, New Mexico
Frank A. Walter, arts supporter
Sharon Mazer, Associate Professor, Head, Theatre & Film Studies, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Camila Perez Bustillo, Lead Attorney, International Tribunal of Conscience, Pueblos en Movimiento, Mexico
Dorinda Moreno, poet, performer, U.S. Liaison and Rep, FuerzaMundial, TICPM, and Hitec Aztec Communications, California
Jose Galvan Galvan, director, actor, Mexico
Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, Wesleyan University, Connecticut
Betty G. Robinson, arts supporter, Maryland
Carolyn Harris, arts supporter, California
Gordon Fellman, professor of sociology, Brandeis University, Massachusetts
Thomas Haley, photo-journalist, Sipa Press, France
Meredith Whitford, writer, arts supporter, Australia
Carol F. Yost, writer, visual artist, student of acting and other arts, New York
Staughton Lynd, historian, lawyer, Ohio
Elizabeth Baker, art educator, Maryland
Roni Ben Efrat, writer, teacher, editor, Israel
Naomi Wallace, playwright, Kentucky
Kate Taverna, filmmaker, New York
Aline Alterman, librarian, philosopher, poet, France
Jackie Miller, theatre artist, New York
Libbie Frank, arts supporter and activist, Pennsylvania
Dorothy Burlage, PhD, child psychologist, Massachusetts
Susan Miller, arts supporter, Israeli citizen, Pennsylvania
Hanna Braun, arts supporter, UK
Karen Leonard, arts supporter, California
Ray Wofsy, arts supporter, New York
Rob Orchard, Performing Arts Department, Emerson College, Massachusetts
Susan Richards, artist, Pennsylvania
Judith Ackerman, actress, teacher, New York
Lillian Rosengarten, poet, writer, teacher, psychoanalyst, New York
Pam Benvenue, arts supporter, Georgia
Judith B. Solomon, ceramist, New York
Phyllis Bloom, arts supporter, New York
Sturgis Warner, theatre director, New York
Sherry Alpern, arts supporter, New York
Joel Simpson, photographer, New Jersey
Gloria Montero, novelist, playwright, Spain
David Fulton, arts supporter, Spain
John Roger Hammond, arts supporter,
Susan Sarandon, actor, New York
Andrew N. Rubin, professor, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Alec Baldwin, actor, New York
Douglas Humble, residency manager, arts supporter, Texas
Jennifer Natalya Fink, writer, professor, Georgetown University, Washington DC
Sut Jhally , Executive Director, Media Education Foundation, Professor of Communication, UMASS-Amherst, Massachusetts
Kendra Hodgson, Media Education Foundation, Massachusetts
Susan Windle, poet, Pennsylvania
Dr. Wendy Galson, filmmaker and school psychologist, Pennsylvania
Leila Buck, actress, writer, teaching artist, New York
Joyce Ravitz, retired educator, arts supporter, New York
Robert Croonquist, arts supporter, New York
Fritzie Brown, Executive Director, CEC ArtsLink, New York
Hector Leonardi, artist, New York
Daniel McCarey, arts supporter, Massachusetts
The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB), New York
Kathryn Levy, poet, arts educator, New York
Charlie Cooper, arts supporter, Maryland
Joan Cooper, arts supporter, Maryland
Adam Mathias Bittlingmayer, software engineer, arts supporter, California
Sarah Dillner, Executive Assistant, Schooner Capital, Massachusetts
Vin Ryan, Chairman, Schooner Capital, Massachusetts
Jean Stein, arts supporter, New York
Edward Albee, playwright, New York
Etienne Balibar, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Université Paris-Nanterre
Distinguished Professor of Humanities, University of California, Irvine, France
George Beres, arts supporter, writer, Oregon
John McGillion, arts supporter,
Colleen Fitzpatrick, arts supporter, California
Hania Toubasi, arts supporter,
Amal Eqeiq, arts supporter, Washington
Skip Schiel, photographer, writer, and filmmaker, Massachusetts
James E. Vann, architect, arts supporter, California
Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, theatre director, Professor of Theatre and Film, Siena College, New York
Anne Remley, writer and arts supporter,
J Christine Yau, marketing, arts supporter, California
Leslie Angeline, arts supporter, California
Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights
Carol Ann Clouston, Prof. of Voice & Speech, American University in Cairo, Egypt
Stathis Gourgouris, Director of Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University, New York
Nancy Farrell, teacher, arts supporter, Washington
Katie Robbins, National Organizer, Healthcare-NOW!, arts supporter, Pennsylvania
Anita Rapone, arts supporter,
Carole Monferdini, arts supporter, New York
Malkah B. Feldman, Grassroots International, arts supporter, Massachusetts
Victoria Mills, documentary director, New York
Sarika Arya, Yale University Fellow/ Director/ Arts Supporter, New York, UK
Jen Marlowe, filmmaker, playwright, author, Washington
Olympia Dukakis, actor, Jewish Voice for Peace, California
Elizabeth Cross, actor, arts supporter, Florida
Mariam C. Said, editor, arts supporter, New York
Erin B. Mee, Assistant Professor, New York University
Linda S. Chapman, Assistant Artistic Director, New York Theatre Workshop, New York
Kathleen Cleaver, law professor, writer, Georgia
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace, New York

August 17, 2011

4 years prison for facebook postings

The establishment has gone bonkers. The government is announcing a new policy to deal with "disorder" every day, magistrates are being advised to ignore the usual sentencing rules when dealing with riot related defendants and now a judge has put two young guys away for four years each over stuff they put on facebook, inviting rather than inciting people to riot. Nobody turned up for the riot but the guys still got four years.

I told a criminal barrister last night what I thought I had heard on the radio and she was sure I had misheard. She actually convinced me for a while that I must have misheard.

Looking at most of today's front pages would also lead people to suspect that the belief that a 20 year old and a 22 year old had both been sentenced to 4 years in prison for what they posted on facebook was erroneous. Only two papers had the story on their front pages and they were The Times and the little i. I find that more shocking than the sentences themselves.

This Ian Bone chap puts it all much better than me. And on the riots more generally and the establishment responses to them, Mike Marqusee has a very useful article on his own site.

August 13, 2011

Benny and the burqas?

Benny Morris gave a talk at the London School of Economics back in June this year. Because of his overt support for genocide in both Palestine and the US there were protests against his presence. Here is how he described an encounter with protesters against him near to the venue of the talk. Here's how Benny Morris described the encounter:
As I walked down Kingsway, a major London thoroughfare, a small mob—I don't think any other word is appropriate—of some dozen Muslims, Arabs and their supporters, both men and women, surrounded me and, walking alongside me for several hundred yards as I advanced towards the building where the lecture was to take place, raucously harangued and bated me with cries of "fascist," "racist," "England should never have allowed you in," "you shouldn't be allowed to speak." Several spoke in broken, obviously newly acquired, English. Violence was thick in the air though none was actually used. Passersby looked on in astonishment, and perhaps shame, but it seemed the sight of angry bearded, caftaned Muslims was sufficient to deter any intervention. To me, it felt like Brownshirts in a street scene in 1920s Berlin—though on Kingsway no one, to the best of my recall, screamed the word "Jew."
Further on in the article Morris uses the encounter to draw a wider lesson about Muslims and the west:
Another disconcerting element in what went on in the lecture hall was the hosting LSE professor's brief introductory remarks, which failed completely to note the harrassment and intimidation (of which he had been made fully aware) of the lecturer on Kingsway, or to criticize them in any way. My assumption was that some were LSE students.

There was a sense that the chairman was deliberately displaying caution in view of the world in which he lives. Which brings me back to what happened on Kingsway.

Uncurbed, Muslim intimidation in the public domain of people they see as disagreeing with them is palpable and palpably affecting the British Christian majority among whom they live, indeed, cowing them into silence.
Well I can't be bothered to watch the video of the lecture but it turns out that Morris was lying about the encounter on Kingsway.

If you skip to about 30 minutes into the clip you will see that there was nothing about the protesters to make anyone assume that they were Muslims or Arabs.  It's not just distant history that Morris rewrites these days.

The Innovative Minds website has an article to accompany the video clip.

August 10, 2011

On Hizbullah on Assad

Far be it from me to criticise heroic resistance to the State of Israel, after all I am all Hizbullah, but this Qunfuz blog has a very detailed critical piece on where Hizbullah stands on the repression now taking place in Syria:

One of my favourite chants from the Syrian uprising is the powerful and cleanly apparent illi yuqtil sha‘abu kha’in, or ‘he who kills his people is a traitor.’ It’s cleanly apparent to me at least – but not to everybody. Some kneejerk ‘leftists’ (a rapidly diminishing number) still hold that the Syrian regime is a nationalist, resistance regime, a necessary bulwark against Zionism, and that therefore it must be protected from its unruly subjects; that in fact it’s the unruly subjects, rather than those who murder them, who are the traitors.
Very sadly, Shia Islamists – Lebanon’s Hizbullah, the sectarian parties in power in Baghdad, and Iran – have repeated the same argument, not because they believe it but for tedious clannish reasons. Syrians aren’t very surprised by the Iraqi or Iranian positions; it’s Hizbullah’s betrayal which sticks in the craw. After all, until Hassan Nasrallah began propagandising on behalf of the regime’s repression, Syrians of all sects supported and admired Hizbullah. During Israel’s 2006 assault they welcomed southern Lebanese refugees into their homes. Indeed, the regime’s alliance with Hizbullah can in large part be credited to the Syrian people; the alliance was one of the regime’s only real sources of popularity. The Asad clique needed Hizbullah’s resistance flag to cover its own nationalist nakedness.
Sectarianism is the old curse of the mashreq, exacerbated in modern times by Sykes-Picot, minority dictatorships, Zionist meddling, and the invasion of Iraq....

Despite my disappointment with Hizbullah’s leadership, I still of course respect and admire their victories against Zionism. Look at this organisation, the first Arab organisation to confront and defeat the occupier: it succeeds because it is of its people, it fights for justice for its people, it arms its people. None of these things can be said for the Syrian regime, which arms against the people, and fears the people – which is why the Syrian regime will never confront and defeat the occupier.
It is entirely true that in a period of violent transition, with numerous internal and external actors plotting, nobody can know what kind of regime may rise after the Asads. One thing is certain, however: if the next system is to any extent democratic or representative, it will oppose Zionism, demand the return of the occupied Golan Heights, and struggle for the rights of the Palestinian people. The history of Syria (in struggle with Zionism since before the modern states of Syria or Israel were established) and the sentiments of 23 million Syrians attest to that.
I missed a big enough chunk from the middle to make the site well worth a visit and I wish he'd name some names of those he describes as "kneejerk "leftists"". But if you visit, check out the about page.

August 06, 2011

This time we went too far

Who went too far? The Jerusalem Post. that's who. I reported on their disgusting editorial effectively blaming multiculturalism for the Norway killings and how a postscript to the piece tried to disclaim what the editorial was actually saying. Well apparently the disclaimer wasn't enough and now the Jerusalem Post has an editorial entirely devoted to apologising for the earlier editorial together with a couple of opinion pieces by two of their dodgy journos:

We hope that the Norwegian government and people will accept the 'Post’s apology and forgive us for any offense or hurt caused at this sensitive time.

Of course they only meant to offend foreigners living in Norway, not Norway's liberal establishment.

The end of zionism?

This David Hearst article appeared in the main section of The Guardian yesterday.  In it he explores the possibility of a one state solution for Palestine:
 If Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank, and allows it to join with Gaza, the result could be two states – a Palestinian one alongside an Israeli one. But if you accompany that with a civil rights movement inside Israel, the goal could be very different – a secular, democratic state "for all its citizens", where Jew, Christian and Muslim are equal. A one-state solution in which Jewish citizens lose an inbuilt majority. The end of Zionism, no less.
It's a fairly innocuous article but it seems to have caused some panic at Harry's Place.

UPDATE: From Wodge in the comments:  The panic seems to have spread with Norman Geras reporting the article under the headline, To hell with the Jews, no less.  In his panic he went and let on as to why Jews are not a suitable case for self-determination which he takes to mean granting people of a given ethnicity a power of veto as to whether compatriots can come, remain or return to their homeland.  A quick surf around other usual suspects suggests that it must be August and some dodgy academics are on holiday.

August 04, 2011

What do Breivik, CounterPunch, David Duke, Stormfront and the Jerusalem Post have in common?

Damn, no Atzmon on the list.  I saw Duke and read Atzmon.  Silly me or am I?  It seems like only yesterday that  neo-nazi David Duke was distributing his Letter to the Courageous Former Israeli Gilad Atzmon.

I ought to say that it is seriously not nice to try to make political capital over the slaughter that took place in Norway just recently though if there are political lessons to be learned then they should be and there are many outpourings on the web and in the mainstream media that are trying to glean lessons from the Norway killings that go beyond mere security issues.  There are also anecdotes arising out of the commentary and I suppose this post just draws on and adds to those.

So, I got the title for this post from a comment under the Louis Proyect blog, The Unrepentant Marxist post headed, "What do Alexander Cockburn and the Norwegian mass murderer have in common?" For openers:

The short answer to that is an affinity for the writings of paleoconservative William S. Lind. If you do a search on “by William S. Lind” on the Counterpunch website, you will come up with 16,500 hits. It should be understood that many of these hits refer to the same article, but clearly we are dealing with someone who was at one point as much of a presence there as fellow paleoconservative Counterpuncher Paul Craig Roberts is today.

Last October Alexander Cockburn defended this orientation to the right in an article that referred to me as an “old Trotskyist lag” in light of my unaccountable inability to appreciate the Tea Party:

Contrary to a thousand contemptuous diatribes by the left, the Tea Party is a genuine political movement, channeling the fury and frustration of a huge slab of white Americans running small businesses – what used to be called the petit-bourgeoisie…
It could be Hilary Clinton campaigning against Obama.

As the thread develops through Cockburn's (and therefore Counterpunch's) flirtations and affairs, the Jerusalem Post's availing of the opportunity provided by the Norway killings to denounce multiculturalism to David Duke's similarities with the Jerusalem Post, a commentator put the following point:
So, it’s kinda boiling down to “what do Breivik, CounterPunch, David Duke, Stormfront and the Jerusalem Post have in common?”
So what's all that got to do with Atzmon. Well nothing really but very few have put a marker down on David Duke's letter to the courageous chap and I thought somebody ought to. Atzmon on line does a curious mix of bragging, hoaxing, sock-puppetry and smears and, of course, he is always welcome at Counterpunch. And now, Duke isn't just running articles by Atzmon, he is heaping praise on the man whilst setting out a racist position that he fears Atzmon may not have fully considered. Now given that Atzmon loves a bit of praise, I am surprised that he hasn't mentioned or responded to Duke's letter, not publicly anyway.

PS: Actually I think this site is an Atzmon effort and it is happy to run Duke's letter so I'm guessing the great man is at least fairly pleased with it though even he has enough decency to be embarrassed by it. He shouldn't be embarrassed of course. He has no responsibility for who supports him and the shoah site links to Jews sans frontieres! Naturally I wish it wouldn't do that but it's not my responsibility. It might be my responsibility if I shared a worldview with the site owner or administrator but I don't.