The letter also appears as a pic on Tony's blog but he was too modest to provide the link which left me with a bit of searching to do on the garish indie site.There is an irony about the BBC and Jimmy Savile. When you apply for a grant from BBC’s Children in Need you have to supply reams of child protection policies, yet Savile was able to roam and abuse at the very heart of the BBC. Every charity has to have an enhanced Criminal Record Bureau check for any volunteer working with a child. Did Stoke Mandeville do this and if not, why not? Will anyone be prosecuted for this?The stench of Establishment hypocrisy is overpowering. David Cameron pledges that it must never happen again. We know that similar abuses of power will almost certainly recur, with the same promises that it will never happen again.Missing are concrete proposals which challenge the citadels of power that allowed Savile to roam free. Five police forces were made aware of complaints against Savile and did nothing. That is systemic failure.The BBC should be publicly accountable rather than a plaything of the great and good. When the BBC tried to assert its independence over the Iraq war, it was squashed by Blair and Lord Hutton. During the reign of Mark Thompson, it became a faithful lapdog to those in power. In 2006, Thompson personally vetoed a Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza as the BBC’s coverage became overtly pro-Israeli.If Cameron is serious, then he will ensure that his Government’s proposals for charging those prepared to blow the whistle will be dropped and the whistleblowing legislation strengthened.Tony GreensteinBrighton
October 31, 2012
But anyway, Benjamin Pogrund was born and grew up in the old apartheid South Africa and now he has exercised his privilege as a Jew to live in occupied Palestine, aka, The State of Israel. Here he is in The Guardian's Comment is Free section explaining how his personal background equips him for this rather tricky hasbara exercise:
Ultimately he is saying that Israel isn't an apartheid state and that its Jewish population doesn't particularly want it to be and he should know because he lived under apartheid as a dissident working for a dissident newspaper. As luck would have it, Ben White has made quite a speciality out of exposing the apartheid nature of the State of Israel before and after the occupation of 1967 and here he is on the al Jazeera website explaining what Benjamin Pogrund ought to know. It is not addressed to Pogrund but it could be. Here's a little taster:
Benjamin Pogrund has some form for this defence of zionism using his former opposition to apartheid.Firstly, a clarification about terminology. To talk about Israeli apartheid is not to suggest a precise equivalence with the policies of the historic regime in South Africa. Rather, apartheid is a crime under international law independent of any comparison (see here, here, here, and here). As former UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard put it in the foreword to my first book: "It is Israel's own version of a system that has been universally condemned."
It is impossible to understand this "system" without remembering that its foundations were laid by the ethnic cleansing that took place in the Nakba. With the establishment of Israel in 1948, up to 90 per cent of the Palestinians who would have been inside the new state were expelled, their properties confiscated, and their return prevented. As these refugees were denied citizenship and their right to return ignored, Israel passed legislation to open up the new borders to Jews everywhere.
Technically and legally, the adjective 'Israeli' refers to all citizens of the state. Palestinians of 48, the land's indigenous people, are thus technically 'Israelis.' Indeed many in Israel call them 'Arab-Israeli,' with the convenience of eliminating Palestine a side benefit. One would expect however that, logically and linguistically at least, an Arab-Israeli is an Israeli, just like one would say that a tea cup is necessarily a cup. Surprise! When the adjective is used in normal discourse, 'Israeli' refers to the Jewish citizens of Israel alone. 'Israeli' public opinion in what Jews in Israel think. Israeli history is the history of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. Israeli culture is Amos Oz and Marcel Ianco. It is not Mahmoud Darwish. Israeli economy, as Netanyahu recently quipped, insightfully, does quite well if you just don't count those who don't count. etc. etc.
Palestinians with Israeli citizenship have basically two possible responses that are both embedded in the adjective. They can accept it or reject it. Whichever they choose, they are like the audience member who is invited on stage to 'participate' in the magician's show; the choices are scripted into the performance. If they want to adopt the adjective, recognizing that it includes them, they soon discover that they have adopted the adjective in the second sense, as one that excludes them, thus recognizing and affirming their own erasure and Jewish domination over them in return for dubious and illusory "fitting in." If however they reject it, it turns out that what they reject is the adjective in the first sense. Namely, they reject the democratic state, the will of the majority, their (second class) civil rights, etc. And thus they become grist to the Israeli propaganda mill ('the Arabs understand only force,' etc.) and trigger the famous mechanisms by which as everybody knows "democracy defends itself against those who abuse its democratic means to try to destroy it." la-di-da, la-di-da.
The video below, on an Al-Jazeera show, and if you watch the whole episode, (you will probably wince a lot), you will see the magician at work, and also the incredible racism that Palestinian must contend with regularly. You will also see Stav Shafir, a leader of the #J14 protest movement from a year ago, discovering her inner career politician (she is now running to parliament on the most wretched party ticket in Israel, the labor party). Here you can see her mastering the Obamish art of platitudes, 'change' and 'yes we can' and a few others, all in the Israeli inflection. I find her viscerally repellant; but your mileage may vary. My prediction, in a few years she will be under investigation for corruption.
Bonus, the remarkable presence, trapped as she is by the magician's tricks, of Hanin Zoabi. Shlomo Sand also acquits himself decently, to some extend by a few of the things he says and to an even greater extent by the feeling that he is just short of rupturing a vein.
October 30, 2012
Remember the title of the article. It's supposedly about the left. Now see this:
why do today’s European socialists identify with Islamists whose worldview is light-years removed from their own? In recent years, there has been an increased blurring of the distinction between Jew, Zionist and Israeli. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the militant group Hezbollah, famously commented: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli.”Ok, so even if the quote is accurate and it might be, what has that to do with the left? Now see this:
Ken Livingstone, a former newspaper editor and mayor of London, has a long history of insensitive remarks about Jews — from publishing a cartoon in 1982 of Menachem Begin, then Israel’s prime minister, in Gestapo uniform atop a pile of Palestinian skulls to likening a known Jewish reporter to “a concentration camp guard” 20 years later. Today, he contributes to Press TV, the English-language outlet for the Iranian government.That's it? Yes, that's it. Where's the beef? Perhaps I should ask, what's the beef?
Sometimes the left distinguishes between vulnerable European Jews who have been persecuted and latter-day “Prussians” in Israel. Yet it is often forgotten that a majority of Israelis just happen to be Jews, who fear therefore that what begins with the delegitimization of the state will end with the delegitimization of the people.But it's not leftists that conflate states with people. Zionists and other racists do that. Colin Shindler makes it easy to do that by glossing over or outright avoiding the facts of Israel's existence. For example he likes Sartre because
He understood the legitimacy of Israel’s war for independenceDid he understand or acknowledge that the war was mostly a war on a civilian population? Did he know that it was a war of ethnic cleansing. I don't know and Shindler doesn't say. But if you avoid these facts then you might well make a case for "delegitimisation" of Israel being unreasonable but in his article, Colin Shindler hasn't even managed that.
October 29, 2012
Where it says "click here" there is a link to the WZO's website but the article is gone, the link is broken. I eventually found the full article on the Africa Speaks website and it turns out that the title was/is A European Experiment in Jewish Statecraft and it goes into a surprising amount of detail regarding dates, people and places. It doesn't name the author of the piece but I believe it is someone from the WZO. I wonder what made the WZO get rid of the piece.Posted on April 3, 2002According to an article published at the World Zionist Organization's (WZO) website:
"REMARKABLY, the Khazars, a people of Turkic origin, converted to the Jewish religion sometime in the 9th century, beginning with the royal house and spreading gradually among the general populace. Judaism is now known to have been more widespread among the Khazar inhabitants of the Khazar kingdom than was previously thought. In 1999, Russian archaeologists announced that they had successfully reconstructed a Khazarian vessel from the Don River region, revealing 4 inscriptions of the word "Israel" in Hebrew lettering. It is now the accepted opinion among most scholars in the field that the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism was widespread, and not limited merely to the royal house and nobility. Ibn al-Faqih, in fact, wrote "All of the Khazars are Jews." Christian of Stavelot wrote in 864 that "all of them profess the Jewish faith in its entirety." Click here to view the full article and links to the original source.
UPDATE: Many thanks to Asa Winstanley in the comments below for directing me to the Web Archive's own copy of the Khazars article which originally appeared at http://www.wzo.org.il/en/resources/view.asp?id=140 but now, for some reason, has been taken down. At least it shows that the piece was originally hosted by the World Zionist Organisation and that the author was a Kevin Brook who appears to have written extensively on the history of the Khazars.
October 27, 2012
A young Druze man refuse to serve in the Israeli Army: A young druze man sent out a letter to the Prime Minister... tinyurl.com/8o7mfp8Here's the letter as published in English on the IMEMC site:
— IMEMC News (@imemcnews) October 27, 2012
A young druze man sent out a letter to the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak, explaining why he refuses to be part of the Israeli army. Young secular Druze men are required to conscript into the Israeli military the same as their Jewish peer group, however some of them refuse to do so.
Below is an English translation of the letter.
No point in adding emphasis, it's all pretty emphatic.To the Israeli Prime Minister,
To the “Defense Minister”,
Subject: refusal to appear for compulsory military recruitment.
I’m the undersigned, Omar Zahr Eldin Mohammad Saad from the village of Mughar – Galilee, have received a notice to appear in the military recruitment offices on 31.10.2012 to conduct tests according to the conscription law imposed on the Druze community. I would like to make the following points:
I refuse to appear for tests, because I oppose the law of conscription imposed on my Druze community. I refuse because I am a man of peace and I hate all forms of violence, and the military institution represents for me the peak of physical and psychological violence. Since I received the notice to appear for tests, my life has changed, I became more nervous, my thoughts were distracted, I remembered thousands of cruel images, and I couldn’t imagine myself wearing military uniform and participating in the suppression of my Palestinian people or fighting my Arab brothers. I oppose the recruitment to the Israeli military and any other military for conscience and nationalistic reasons. I hate the injustice and oppose the occupation; I hate intolerance and restriction of freedoms. I hate those who detain children, the elderly and women.
I am a musician, I play the Viola , I have played in many places, I have musician friends from Ramallah, Jericho, Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, Shfa’amr, Eilabun, Rome, Athens, Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Oslo, and we all play for freedom, humanity and peace, our weapon is the music and we shall not have any other weapon.
I am from a community that was unjustly treated by an unjust law, how can we fight our relatives in Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon? How can I hold arms against my brothers and people in Palestine? How can I be a soldier standing at Qalandia checkpoint or any other checkpoint, after I experienced the injustices at these checkpoints? How can I prevent someone from Ramallah to visit his city, Jerusalem? How can I guard the apartheid wall? How can I be a jailer to my own people while I know that the majority of prisoners are freedom prisoners and seekers of rights and freedom?
I play for joy, for freedom, for a just peace based on halting settlements, the end of the occupation in Palestine, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem its capital, the release of all prisoners in prisons and the return of displaced refugees to their homes.
Many of the youth from my community have done the compulsory service in the army, what have we received? Discrimination in all areas, our villages are the poorest, our lands were confiscated, there are no master plans, and no industrial zones. Percentages of university graduates in our villages of the lowest in the region, the unemployment rates in our villages are the highest. This mandatory law has kept us away from our Arab connection.
This year, I will finish high school, and I seek to complete my university education. I’m sure you will try to make me concede my human ambition, but I announce it loudly:
I’m Omar Zahr Eldin Mohammad Saad will not be the fuel to the fire of your war, and will not be a soldier in your army .
Signature: Omar Sa'ad
"[T]he widely accepted definition of antisemitism" is the EUMC working definition of antisemitism which even the EU hasn't accepted. Ronnie Fraser is the academic who challenged the UCU's rejection of the dodgy definition and has quite remarkable powers of clairvoyance as noted here last year.A Jewish academic’s employment tribunal against the University and College Union is due to begin next week.Ronnie Fraser threatened UCU with legal action last year following its rejection of the widely-accepted definition of antisemitism. His tribunal will begin in central London on Monday, and is expected to last two weeks.
October 26, 2012
Except of course, Freedland rarely condemns Israel. The article attracted well over 800 comments most of which seemed to notice that there has been nothing like "silence on Syria". And Chris Doyle of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding had a withering criticism of Freedland published in the letters page a couple of days after Freedland's piece appeared:
We condemn Israel. So why the silence on Syria?
Luckily for the hasbaristas Jenny Tonge also had a letter published saying,
Jonathan Freedland makes the usual plea "why condemn Israel?". Israel claims to be a western-style democracy that respects human rights and international law. The US and the EU, as well as our own country, have social, academic, cultural and trade links with Israel, and many of us have friends or colleagues in Israel. To many UK citizens, it is their home too. Israel drove the Palestinians from their homeland and livelihoods in 1948 and for 45 years Israel has occupied the West Bank. The treatment of the Palestinians is brutal and humiliating, as I have witnessed. We are right to condemn Israel for its actions. We are right to demand a higher standard of behaviour from Israel than from Arab states that are only now struggling to achieve political change. I have been to Syria. Does Mr Freedland really want Israel to be judged by the same standards by which we judge Syria?
House of Lords
Jim Denham at Shiraz Socialist was also rather pleased about Jenny Tonge's letter. He describes Freedland's ludicrously transparent zionist propaganda as "wisdom" and he just loves Norman Geras's "devastating reposte" to Jenny Tonge. But even Jim Denham is forced to concede that western bankrolling and arming of Israel makes a real difference from the west's approach to Syria.
But it was thanks to Jim Denham jumping through hoops to serve the racist war criminals of the State of Israel that I saw what truly was a "devastating reposte" to Freedland's effort. It was in one of the below the line comments to the original (well, not that original) article from a David Pavett. It's a long comment so I won't reproduce it in full here. Let these few lines suffice:
Many comments make a similar point and it is encouraging to see that zionists are no longer getting away with their hasbara antics though it is worrying to think that Freedland thought that he could get away such nonsense without people noticing.
October 24, 2012
Here we go.This late in the campaign, everything is about swing states – and the foreign policy debate was largely about Florida, where moderate Jews could well decide who gets the state’s 29 electoral votes.On those grounds, on the basis of issues important to Florida Jews, President Obama won this debate, but in a bizarre, looking-glass sort of way in which the candidates seemingly exchanged personalities. Mitt Romney sounded like Obama: reasonable, measured, and knowledgeable about foreign policy. Barack Obama sounded like Romney: making strong rhetorical points with little attention to detail.On Israel, for example, it was Obama who struck first, citing his support of the Iron Dome defense system, and using the phrase “stand with Israel” numerous times. Romney, meanwhile, sounded like a Democrat: arguing for peace talks with the Palestinians, and a measured approach to Iran.So too on the emotional issues likely to resonate with the bubbes and zaydes of Palm Beach County. Could anyone have predicted that President Obama would invoke the holocaust in his discussion of the State of Israel? And yet that’s what he did, noting that on his trip to Israel, he visited Yad Vashem (the holocaust memorial, he explained to the non-Jewish voters who happened to be watching the debate too), whereas Romney went to fundraisers.But that’s not all – this debate was often a lesson in Israeli geography. Obama visited Sderot. Romney visited Hertzliya. What’s next: Obama prefers Sima’s meorav Yerushalmi, but Romney likes Sami’s. At times it was hard to tell whether this was a presidential debate or an itinerary from Birthright Israel.
Need help viewing? Try here.
October 21, 2012
Looking at the intro to the posting of the interview it turns out that,
This conversation happened on Monday, June 29th, 2009 but was not published until September 20122009? Why wasn't it published until this year? Never mind. That was just one post and there has been another post, by a Richard Gold, since then. It was posted on 18th October 2012 and it is, in total, as follows:
It's the not very shattering news that BDS seeks the abolition of specifically Jewish statehood. Let's follow that link. It's Mondoweiss and a post dated, 22nd April 2010. Wow, last month they posted an interview from 2009 and this month they have a not very informative link to a post from early 2010.
BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.October 18, 2012 — Richard Gold
At least i agree on one thing with Ahmed Moor when he says,
Ok fine. So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state
So it’s not a campaign to end the occupation after all. Who’d have thought it.
On the current monthly projection Engage's modernisation programme should all be over by Christmas.
October 19, 2012
After story that @jnfuk has lost "half its revenue" twitpic.com/b5979o, news its regional director is made redundant jewishtelegraph.com/man_1.htmlChecking out the pic,
— Ben White (@benabyad) October 19, 2012
I googled "JNF loses half its revenue". I found the article on Press Display though not in the Jewish Chronicle itself, where it originally appeared. But Jonathan Hoffman is the gift that keeps on giving. There he was on his JC blog protesting, "JC leads with crude JNF smear story".
The JC article suggests that funding had dropped because of "politicisation" though how a beneficiary and instigator of ethnic cleansing can avoid politics must be a tricky issue. But Hoffman doesn't like the allegation:
Ooh, he's getting cross:in the article we got:The dramatic fall in its revenues has been blamed on a perceived politicisation of the charity by Mr HayekPrecisely WHO is 'blaming Mr Hayek', we are not told. Or how many people. Or the basis for the statement. Did Simon Rocker conduct an opinion poll? Or (more likely) is the statement simply a smear of the crudest kind...
Now I don't know about cause and effect here but last year, David Cameron resigned as an honorary patron of the JNF. An excuse was given to the effect that it is too specific to one country rather than the objections to its charitable status, but the section in the Wikipedia entry dealing with his resignation is worth quoting:
Then we get:A senior communal figure said: ‘This collapse in philanthropic support is the clearest possible signal that the community no longer sees the JNF, under its current leadership, as a credible receptacle for its charitable support for Israel. On the basis of these accounts it is questionable whether the JNF can any longer be described as a major communal organisation. Its long-term sustainability looks uncertain’So who is this anonymous "senior communal official" pronouncing on what "the community" thinks and why is he scared of commenting on an attributable basis? Is he by any chance the same person who is badmouthing Sam Hayek to Simon Rocker - who then of course reported it as if it is accepted wisdom? And what about the people in Israel whom the JNF is helping - does this "senior communal official" give one jot about them?
The charitable status of the JNF-UK has come under increasing attack. British prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had been Honorary Patrons of the JNF-UK, like all British prime ministers before them since its inception. Confounding expectations, David Cameron resigned as Honorary Patron to JNF-UK in 2011. According to a spokesman, Cameron's surprise refusal was due to the JNF-UK being an organisation that was specifically focused around work in one specific country, i.e. Israel. Cameron's decision was interpreted as a snub, in spite of the spokesman's assurances that his decision had "absolutely nothing to do with any anti-Israel campaign". However, campaigners claimed that Cameron's resignation was due to political pressures motivated by the JNF-KKL's discriminatory policies in Israel. Since then, the JNF-UK's Honorary Patrons include no leader of the main British political parties. An Early Day Motion in the British parliament condemning the JNF and calling for the revocation of the JNF's charitable status in the UK was launched in 2011 and by February 2012 had been signed by 66 Members of Parliament. In 2012 the Green Party called for the JNF to be stripped of its charity status and pledged to sign up to a campaign which calls the charity "racist".I don't think it's too much of a stretch to suggest that the JNF's troubles spring from the flight of its high profile political patrons which in turn happened because of campaigning against the JNF's inappropriate charitable status. So in a way, Hoffman was right. It's not the politicisation of the JNF that has had funders running for cover but that politicians have been running for cover from their association with the JNF.
he takes a swipe at BDS:
Well SPSC isn't having any of that:
Yes, you will have it, David, and sooner rather than later. As you know, Margaret Thatcher opposed sanctions against apartheid South Africa as long as she could and told her Ministers that the ANC was “a typical terrorist organisation” (even while she supported the genocidal Khmer Rouge). Later, she, and you, were keen to have your photos taken with Nelson Mandela.
Hmm, yesteryear Johannesburg, next year, Jerusalem? Well, maybe some years yet....You had to eat her words about apartheid South Africa: who will eat yours about Palestine and apartheid South Africa?
October 18, 2012
I'm guessing that Lukashenko was trying to make his regime appear more humanitarian but the case does show that in various areas, high profile Israelis have been painted into a corner.
Meir Dagan, the former head of Israel’s spy agency Mossad, has been forced to seek a liver transplant in Belarus, Europe’s most autocratic state, after European and American surgeons reportedly refused to treat him. He is said to be in critical condition.Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’ hardline ruler, leaked details of the highly-secret medical operation late yesterday, revealing the patient’s identity only as a former head of Mossad. Israeli media worked out that the patient was Meir Dagan, 67, who stepped down as head of the spy agency last year.Portraying himself as the Israeli’s last hope, Mr Lukashenko, who has funneled his country’s resources into shoring up the country’s dictatorship, said that he agreed to take in the high-profile patient after America, Sweden and Germany refused. “No one wanted to conduct this operation on a former head of the Mossad,” Israeli media quoted him as saying at a news conference.
In honor of Ahmad Sa'adat, who is a political prisoner in Israel: Statement from the PFLP
Today we stop to remember October 17, 2001 heroic act carried out by Abu Ali Mutsfafa Brigades who assassinated Tourism Minister Zionist "Rehavam Zeevi," in response to the assassination of the Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Martyr Comrade Abu Ali Mustafa. After this heroic act, the PA (Oslo Authority) arrested PFLP Leader General Secretary Ahmed Sa’adat and his 4 Comrades who carried out the heroic act against the Occupation; Comrade Ahed Abu Gholmi , Comrade Hamdi Quran, Comrade Basel Al-Asmar, Comrade Majdi Rimawi and then handed them to the “Israeli” Occupation.
We raise our voices to say “NO to security cooperation between the PA and the “Israeli” occupation, Long live the Palestinian Resistance against Occupation and Apartheid.. the only way to Palestine passes through the barrel of the gun
http://pflp.ps/english/2012/03/on-the-sixth-anniversary-of-the-attack-on-jericho-and-the-kidnapping-of-comrade-saadat/PS. I do not share the strategic analysis embodied in the the last sentence, but the issue is not one of principle.
October 17, 2012
First, there are antisemites, a tiny minority. Second, there are those like Greta Berlin (and Henry Norr and others), who consider antisemites who support Palestinian liberation to be valuable voices, demand their inclusion, defend their legitimacy, and challenge refusal to tolerate them misguidedly as "silencing." This tolerant attitude towards bigotry is the most likely cause for Berlin's mistaken tweet. Third, there are the majority of Palestine solidarity activists, who don't care for the support of bigots, and consider their inclusion and especially, giving them any prominence, the kiss of death. The board of Free Gaza, to which Ann Wright belongs, appears to have firmly planted its feet in the second camp by the tenor of their response, which dismissed the controversy as a non-issue and rejected criticism, crucially criticism by some of the most respected and longstanding Palestinian activists, as illegitimate.
Finally, she or he may clearly see the problem, yet believe that this particular bigotry should be ignored in a particular case for reasons of a political urgency and expediency. "Utilitarian" debates of the last type are quite common. It must be noted that there are many cases where almost every leftist would consider that is it legitimate to work with people who hold political views that one abhors. To take the most extreme but well known example, the radical left-wing militias fought together with the extreme right-wing ones in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. To take a more pedestrian example, imagine a group of workers striking for pay while expressing bigoted positions on other questions, such as immigration: most leftists would support the strike. A closer example was the support many on the Egyptian left gave to the Muslim Brotherhood in the recent elections in Egypt. Thus, this last reason is indeed one that cannot be dismissed in principle and require serious attention, by evaluating context, situation and form. A key difference is between ad-hoc interactions, and sharing a single organization in which bigotry is normalized. The second is in principle never acceptable to leftists.
However, a prerequisite of debating how to respond to bigotry is the ability to see the difficulty and the costs, and to debate them rationally based on shared political assumptions. Those who cannot recognize antisemitism (or use a minimizing definition of it that is rejected by the vast majority of people on the left), and read rejection of bigotry, falsely, as an unacceptable challenge to "freedom of speech," rather than a matter of a fundamental political difference, do not fit the last category. That means that they fit in one of the other two. And that is the problem.
With regards to the Estelle, the matter is complicated by the circumstances. On the one hand, Wright was denied participation. There is no reason to deny someone participation in an action for the offense of not being clear or holding a minority opinion, beyond the minimal requirements that the group defines as its points of unity. It would be a mistake to start making stringent conditions on participating in political actions.
On the other hand, the Estelle is a small boat going into a potentially life-threatening situation. In this situation, trust is paramount, and those on the boat have a legitimate reason to carefully selecting whom they allow on board. Wright, as member of the FGM board, is responsible for the board's handling of the scandal, which included responding to respectful criticism by close colleagues with challenging the legitimacy of raising concerns. According to the statement of the former board members:
Consultations and efforts made by some of the former members of the board with the current board members were either rejected or set aside, which has added to our disappointment.
To this, the board responded by characterizing all those who took issue with them, including the approach of the former board members, longstanding and respected Palestinian and solidarity activists, "vicious attacks." In doing so, the board effectively described fellow activists and the Israeli media are one and the same and asked the broad movement to treat them in the same way. This is the Ann Coulter strategy and the word for this is bullying, which is compound in this case in that the context is the Palestinian liberation struggle and some of those bullied are Palestinians engaged in that struggle for decades. On this background, the decision of the Estelle is understandable. People who respond to criticism by bullying the critics are dangerous to their friends, and could be deadly in the kind of situations that the Estelle might meet.
Furthermore, the mission of the Estelle is to bring attention to the plight of Gaza under Israel's siege. Since much of the impact depends on coverage, one assumes the tenor of the media coverage that the boat gets is of paramount strategic importance to participants. Having on board a person who would lead media attention on a tangent would be detrimental to the mission even if that person were impeccable. This is not, after all, about Wright, and she has no right to expect that the people on the Estelle jeopardize their mission in order to "prove" that they don't consider Wright an antisemite. Wright says that she was disinvited "due to allegations of anti-Semitism of the Swedish Boat to Gaza by pro-Israelis groups in Sweden." Crucially, the Estelle did not publish their decision. Instead of recognizing the fact that her presence at this time would not be in the best interest of the mission, Wright effectively launched a public attack on the Estelle, paraphrasing what she was told in a way that suggest the organizers are subservient to Zionists. Again, this is the Ann Coulter strategy, and it should be condemned. Most likely, the boat organizers don't want to spend their limited resources defending someone who made herself a liability by her own disregard of fellow activists. They are right to privilege their mission, and Wright's subsequent behavior only justifies them further.
Norr's intervention is another example of bullying, and one that is furthermore built on abusing language. "Guilt by association" is a logical fallacy that consists on drawing a conclusion about one person based on an a non-essential similarity or relation with another. For example: Stalin is a communist and a mass murderer. Therefore other communists are guilty of (or support) mass murder. Or: The Occupy Movement was praised by a Neo-Nazi, therefore the Occupy Movement has a Neo-Nazi problem. These are fallacies. On the other hand, when people willfully associate with each other, in speech, writing, or through formal association, their association is indeed reflective of their politics. This is not "guilt by association." It is common sense. If a party in the US issues a statement defending or denying Stalin's crimes, the leadership is not victim of "guilt by association". It is simply wretched. If a person repeats defining elements of Nazi arguments or rhetoric, it is not "guilt by association" to point this out. It's a true indication of where they are on the political map. There is a rule of thumb most people master by the age of 16. You shouldn't associate with people you don't want to be associated with.
So far, nobody has accused Ann Wright of anything (except me, here, of trying to bully others to shut up). She is certainly not "guilty by association." It is Norr who is guilty of loose, uncalled for language. Berlin (and others) are also not victims of "guilt by association." They are however responsible for who they associate with, especially when those association lead to damage to others, and should not be surprised if those associations cast shadows over their credibility. They are also guilty of not understanding, or pretending not to understand, that political work is carried out in associative form, and therefore the freedom of association is its primary freedom, of which the freedom not to associate is an essential part. They seek to deny the rest of the movement the freedom of association by bullying others, with their language of "witch hunt", "guilt by association", and "sheer madness," into association with bigotry that they reject.
With over 2,200 dislikes and counting, Izhar Ashdot's song about the routinization of violence in the Israeli psyche seems to have made history. It has also hit a royal nerve in Israel. It was banned by the radio channel of the Herrenvolk Army, and the usual suspects want Ashdot's scalp.
I think Ashdot is blessed. Few artists dare, and even fewer manage, to disturb the cosnsciousness of their society so royally and with such perfect pitch.
Watch, (note there are English subtitles) and share.
October 15, 2012
Nightmare for Israel if Obama wins.Biden outright lied about personal relations with Bibi. Susan Rice for State real nightmare.I don't know if this helps or hurts Israel or Obama or what. I just thought I'd mention it.
— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) October 13, 2012
October 13, 2012
October 08, 2012
It is no secret that the Syrian revolution divided the left globally. While divisions remain, the freshly issued statement that appears first below, translated by the Free Haifa blog, seems to me to represent an important step in the reconsolidation of progressive forces over clear support for the people of Syria.
Underneath it I reproduce an interesting analysis and call of radical Syrian activists that considers more directly the present and future of the armed struggle in Syria.
28 movements, parties and activists issue common declaration supporting the Syrian people and calling for the release of political prisoners in the Arab Homeland
From the Arab Gulf to Syria, the Nile Valley and the Arab Maghreb – The People Unite in Solidarity!
At the time that the Arab states turn toward legal, political and economic reforms, pushed by the popular anger against the legal and economic situation that was afflicted on our Arab countries during the past periods by autocratic and repressive regimes, which acted to weaken the Arab peoples, keep them in ignorance and kill all their creative energies in an orderly and systematic way, we find that some states didn’t stop practicing some violations against the Arab activists in their different countries, in spite of the arrival (to the government) of some of the political parties that suffered a lot from the authoritative practices.
This happens while there is still Arab refusal to adopt a decisive stand against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad and his armed gangs, which commit daily massacres against the Syrian people and against the youth, who come out every day in peaceful demonstrations against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.
In Morocco nearly 80 activists from the youth groups, and at their foremost activists from “The 20th of February Movement”, are still held in detention. In Jordan the authorities arrested nearly 18 activists from “The Jordanian Popular Movement” and referred them to the State Security Court, which is a military unconstitutional court. All the activists in Jordan and Morocco are detained for their political views and their demands for reform programs.
In Cairo the Egyptian authorities still use some illegitimate practices against the Egyptian activists who demand some economic reforms and putting an end to the use of military courts against civilians, including demonstrators (Khaled Mekdad, Ahmad Al-Dakroury and Ahmad Manna) and children (Islam Harby and Mohammad Ihab) and the release of the revolution’s officers, which are detained on the order of the former Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi.
In Bahrain the authorities did not stop practicing continuous violations that are incompatible with human rights principles. The military’s influence still costs the lives of civilians. The last case was the killing of a demonstrator, aged 17, in his village South West of the Bahraini capital Manama. He was shot by the security forces and died as a consequence. The security forces also arrested dozens and keep them in detention without bringing them to trial. Dozens of prisoners of conscience and people detained for their political views are still languishing in Bahraini prisons, including Human Rights and political activists, which were arrested because of their demands for political, constitutional and legal reforms.
In Algeria many Human Rights, trade unionist and political activists are subject to detention and judicial harassment.
In Sudan the number of detainees held by the authorities exceeded 1700. The situation was aggravated by the detention of more than 15 Sudanese women. Some of them were released and others are still held under detention in Sudan’s prisons.
We, the undersigned groups, declare our full solidarity with the Syrian people, their right to self determination and their demand for Bashar Al-Assad giving up power. We affirm our support for the initiatives of peaceful struggle in Syria.
We also demand from the authorities in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan and Bahrain to respect Human Rights and the freedom of opinion and expression, to act quickly for the immediate release of all the detained activists and to put an end to all the extraordinary actions taken against them. We also call for the implementation of all the legitimate demands raised by those activists, including legitimate economic, legal and constitutional reforms.
6 April Youth Movement – Egypt
The Constitution Party – Egypt
The Egyptian Current Party – Egypt
No to Military Trials – Egypt
The Jordanian Youth Movement – Jordan
I Deserve A Civil Trial – IDACT – Jordan
Girifna Movement – Sudan
The 20th of February Movement – Morocco
ATTAC Morocco association against capitalist globalization
Association of Moroccan Workers in France – France
Independent Youth Movement for Change – Algeria
Syrian Peaceful Movement Group – Syria
“One People One Destiny” Campaign – Syria
Syrian Week – Syria
Demonstration Team – Syria
“Waw Al-Wasel” Group – Syria
The Syrian Democratic Forum – Syria
Youth Against the Settlements – Palestine
Palestinians with the Syrian Revolution – Palestine
Youth and Students sector in The Democratic Progressive Forum Association – Bahrain
Youth Bureau in The Patriotic Democratic Action Association (Wa’ad) – Bahrain
Libya Youth Movement – Libya
The Libyan Association for Humanitarian Relief – Libya
Arab National Figures
Human Rights activist – Khaled Ali – former candidate for the presidency – Egypt
Engineer Ahmad Maher – member of the Constituent Assembly for the Constitution
MP Ziyad Al-Alimi –member of the former People’s Assembly – Egypt
Khalaf Ali Al-Khalaf – Syrian writer
Rabab Al-Bouti – Syria
Ahmad Lanki – member of the Libyan National Congress
Mohammad Al-Aouni – head of “freedoms of media and change” organization – Morocco
Original English translation from the Free Haifa Blog.
Original Arabic link
The Chaos of the Armed Movement and the Organisation of the Syrian Revolution
from Yassari, Edition 11, by the Left Coalition in Syria – Mid-September 2012
The introduction of arms to the Syrian revolution, after months of peaceful struggle, did not come out of the blue, nor was it simply an emotional reaction. There were some parties who, from the beginning, called for arming the revolution and advocated violence. However, it was surely the increasing violence used by the authorities that made peaceful youth, who completely believed in a peaceful movement, change their minds, especially when the regime involved the Syrian army in a war against citizens at the end of July 2011, and when they adopted increasing tactics of killing and humiliating the people in Syria from August 2011.
There is no point, therefore, regretting the move from peaceful demonstrations, or fearing this significant step now. There is not even any point discussing it now. We have moved from the phase that the revolution started with, the peaceful spontaneous demonstrating of ordinary people, to the revolution of all methods, with demonstrating and fighting taking place together. Since we have reached this phase, it is important now to study the problems, as the revolution is now in need of planning, by learning from previous lessons and organising all elements.
Sensitive issues need to be addressed here. First, how to organise the armed struggle (connecting groups and finding clear strategies of how to develop this struggle). Secondly, how to coordinate between the armed movement and the popular movement, especially since the armed struggle has stolen all the attention and popular demonstrations have become marginal. Third, we need to think of how to organise and control the free areas, which are not under the control of the authorities anymore.
The armed people in Syria are actually separate groups who all call themselves “Free Army” (this is dangerous because it is a vague phrase which anyone could use) - some of them defected from the Syrian army (these are the main foundation), some are sectarian, and the rest, the majority, are ordinary people, with no experience in working with wars and weapons, and therefore they only undertake defence, and when they attack instead, lots of mistakes take place. They have made mistakes, but they haven’t learnt from them. The main mistake has been basing themselves inside residential neighborhoods, and staying there until the regime forces attack and destroy them, which has had a very negative effect on the popular movement there and almost stopped it in some areas. “Liberating” areas without considering the strength of the regime’s forces means aggravating the struggle instead of developing it. What is important now is to focus on attacking the sensitive centres, the army on their way to control cities, and the locations where rockets and cannons are based.
Most of these fighters are the same young people who took part in the demonstrations at the beginning of the revolution. They are fighting today without sufficient training, and with light weapons which they obtain from military warehouses or purchasing from weapons dealers at high rates. They won’t obtain any better weapons to win this war because those providing them with weapons don’t want the war to end. Thus, these groups are not able to turn into an army, and they will not be able to compete with the regime’s forces. They shouldn’t locate themselves at the centre of residential areas for a long time. Warfare at the street level requires replacing the policy of being at the centre with a dynamic policy, moving all the time, and the sudden attack of security and army centres, instead of waiting for them to attack first.
This requires an advanced military strategy against a regime using all its military abilities. It needs coordination between groups and organisation of their activities. It also requires forming a structure to being together these groups, with rules and laws to control their activities and their relations with the public, as well as their actions towards the ‘shabiha’ forces and the army officers who are fighting against their people, or even those who are in the Syrian army, but have not been involved in killing.
We must fear not pushing aside the extremist religious groups, in order to save the revolution from their foolish military or sectarian mistakes. We must not fear any conflict with them now, because it is much better to get rid of them than to wait until they become stronger later. It is one of the Free Syrian Army’s duties to protect ‘minorities’ now, who support the Syrian regime or are silent, to protect them from crimes which these extremist groups could commit against them. Some of these groups were formed to commit such crimes against ‘minorities’, who are part of the Syrian people, even if they are silent, hesitating, or only a small part of them is taking their part helping the Syrian revolution, because they fear the Syrian regime, or because they are not happy with the statements of some people in the Syrian opposition, or even fear the Gulf’s media and those behind it. It is very dangerous to allow some parties to play the sectarian game under the umbrella of the revolution. This only causes more fears for these people, and makes them even more convinced that the regime is the least scary option. What we need now is the exact opposite, we need to show them that the revolution is owned by all the people (including themselves), and we need to protect the public institutions in Syria, and the security of the people, since the situation here could allow gangs to control areas because the police is not able to protect people there.
The military strategy we need must support the people and their activities. We must recognise the popular movement, since it is the most powerful tool in this revolution. The revolution will not win without the popular movement, which causes more trouble to the regime than the weapons the revolutionaries have. The might of the revolutionary armed movement is dependent on the popular movement, and should not destroy this movement by moving to the centre of the residential areas in which the popular movement is based. This will eventually cause the destruction of these areas, since it is impossible to defend them, leading to the migration of the demonstrating people from these areas, becoming a burden in need of help rather than the main element in the revolution.
The strategy requires re-organising coordinating committees everywhere by learning from the experience they have gained during the revolution, so they can motivate the public movement. They should study the situation to organise when and how to demonstrate and what slogans reflect the revolution’s goals and the demands of the people involved. They also need to draw the main policies, to avoid counting on the international community and focus on the movement inside the country instead.
We should prepare to control the areas where the regime has no authority anymore (we are not saying these areas became librated, as mentioned above). We need to fulfill our duties by supplying the people with their daily supplies and to set up an alternative authority, to provide security.
To achieve that, we need to find true leadership from local committees and the armed groups together, as well as other community bodies which could organise the relations between parties, draw up the general policies and represent the revolution by working on achieving its goals.
In conclusion, the goals and policies of the revolution should be made clear now, after all the complications the revolution has been experiencing. It is very important to organise our work for the revolution, and to prepare to form an alternative authority with the collapse of the regime day by day. The regime may be making a last attempt, but it will fail as previous ones failed too. Therefore, there is no point being spontaneous anymore, and there is no space for confusion anymore. We need to forget about a purely military solution, and realise that the idea of ‘liberating cities’ doesn’t work. We are not Libya, and will not be. We must commit to our popular movement, supported by an armed movement to paralyse the forces of the regime and upset their military logistics.
We have progressed very well so far. The regime is no longer the strong side, and therefore we must organise ourselves to use this advantage and move the revolution forward.
Yassari, Edition 11, by the Left Coalition in Syria – Mid-September 2012