Archive for the ‘Arabs’ Category

Labour Online Rally for Palestine Next Month

June 24, 2022

I also had this email from Labour and Palestine giving the details of an online rally next month. Here it is:

ONLINE RALLY: Time to Speak Up for Palestine

Monday 18 July, 19:00. Register here // Invite here // Retweet here // Get ticket for whole festival here.
 

Rally with special guests from Palestine, plus: Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP // Kim Johnson MP // Yasmin Dar, Labour NEC // Louise Regan. National Education Union // Hugh Lanning, Labour & Palestine // Ryvka Barnard, PSC // & more tba.
 

An online event as part of Arise 2022 – A Festival of Left Ideas in association with Labour & Palestine.

Lotus Eaters Now Blaming Migrants for the Housing Crisis

June 21, 2022

I had to blog about this, as it’s another example of the right-wing media only telling you one side of the story. Yesterday or the day before the Lotus Eaters put up a video claiming that the housing crisis was a result of immigrants taking up so much housing, and no doubt looking at the channel migrants in particular as they did so. Because they should all be deported to Rwanda, of course. They argued that immigration was the source of the housing shortage, and thus all the new building work that is threatening to cover our green and pleasant land with concrete, as the British birth rate is 1.24, below that needed to maintain the population. The reason why our population is growing, however, is because of immigration. Now the Lotus Eaters are fervent Brexiteers, hate Woke and are very strong opponents of immigration. But they’re not wrong. I believe the Pears Cyclopedia 1984 edition said the same nearly 40 years ago. It’s solid fact, rather than racist myth. Mind you, I also believe that that the population has grown also because people are living longer and not dying off as young as they did, and so there’s a younger generation growing up at the same time as its grandparents and great-grandparents are still alive. But possibly for not much longer if Johnson and his foul effluvium have their way. In the past decade they’ve been in power, life expectancy has gone into reverse so that the present generation has a shorter life expectancy than we did.

Now for what John, Callum and Sargon aren’t telling you. The welfare state and capitalism need a population that’s stable or growing. Years ago, the Financial Times wrote that the welfare state was maintained by the contributions of the present generation of workers, which were needed to maintain the level of benefits to support the older generation. Fewer people being born means less money being paid into the welfare state,, equals cuts to welfare provision. This presumably is the thinking behind the Tories’ decision back in the ’90s to try and get people paying into private ‘workplace’ pension schemes rather than the state pension, and why the state pension’s been kept low. It’s also no doubt being used to support the cuts to the welfare state in general, following Thatcher’s line that we now can’t afford to support everybody and people should have to look out for themselves. This may not affect the Lotus Eaters, as their smug sneers about ‘socialism’ and ‘leftists’ and general support for unfettered capitalism suggests to me they come from monied backgrounds. But I could be wrong.

But capitalism also requires a stable or growing population. It’s all about consumer demand, you see. The more people, the more demand for goods and services, which in turn stimulates production and should produce more profits and less unemployment as workers are taken on to produce the goods. If you have fewer people, you have less demand, declining profits and rising unemployment.

Immigrants help solve these problems, because they tend to put more into the welfare state than they take out in terms of benefits and so on. And by maintaining or expanding the population, they help to create the demand that powers industry.

And I suspect some of the demand for new housing is local to certain parts of the country. A few years ago the ‘Communist’ BBC as the Lotus Eaters no doubt think of the Corporation produced a documentary following a prospective Romanian immigrant as he tried to find accommodation over here. He ended up sleeping rough in one of the London parks. At one point he went north seeking available homes. He found a whole street-load, boarded up and deliberately kept empty. Because some obscure reason of capitalism. He was obviously not impressed, and made the obvious comment that it was stupid to have houses go empty when people needed them.

I think – and this is only my impression – that some of the migration pushing up house prices and creating demand is internal. People from the declining north, or some of them, are moving south in search of work and opportunities. People in the countryside are being priced out of local homes by rich outsiders seeking second homes. And respect to the council the other day that was reported to have banned this! Here in Bristol local people are being priced out of the housing market due to recent migrants, not from Africa, Asia or Jamaica, but from London. As a result, some Bristolians are looking towards places like Wales and the borders for affordable homes, which is going to push the prices up there. And so there’s a knock-on effect.

And last but not least, the Tories and the Heil can take some of the blame. In order to keep the economy afloat, I think it was George Osborne who linked some part of our financial performance to house prices. As a result, house prices have to be kept high. Quite apart from the Daily Heil in the ’90s constantly advising its readers on the ‘money’ pages to invest in brick and mortar as part of the ‘buy to rent’ boom. People have done that, leaving less homes around for people, who actually want to live in them to purchase.

Yes, I think there are a lot of problems surrounding immigration that need proper discussion and solution. There are problems of assimilation and integration, and while I don’t like Kemi Badenoch’s party, I think she is right about growing segregation. That’s been going on for some time, since at least the beginning of this century. The concentration on race is probably a part of it, but only a part. But you can’t blame immigrants solely for the housing shortage and new building work.

Hidden behind this is also an anti-feminist agenda. Sargon and the other Lotus Eaters have the same anti-feminist views as American conservatives. In their view, the population decline is due to modern women choosing not to settle down and marry but concentrate on having careers. They’d like to return to the old traditional family in which mum stayed at home to raise the kids and Dad worked to support them. Now I think that if they were given the choice, more women probably would stay home to look after their children. But they don’t have a choice. Since women entered the workforce, it’s been argued that the economy has responded so that families need the income from both parents to pay off mortgages and buy the family groceries. However, this claim also needs examination as I’ve also read that long before the 70s families needed both parents to work. And back in the 30s and 40s, women didn’t have a choice about not working. Some of the firms in Bristol would not employ married women with children, which was a real problem for women running away from abusive or criminal husbands.

The decline of the existing, traditional populations is also one of the arguments against abortion. If all the kids lost to abortion were allowed to come to term and live, then the population would be growing. This isn’t necessarily a racist argument. Turning Point, an arch-conservative think tank, put up a video of one of its presenters challenging a young woman on the issue. He argued that the reason the Black population has remained at 13% in the Land of the Free is due to abortion. If there was less abortion, the population would expand. She was obviously racist for being in favour of abortion, and hence fewer Blacks, while he wanted more of them. I don’t want to get into the politics of abortion, except to say that it includes major issues of bodily autonomy, female healthcare, the dangers of a return to backstreet abortions and poverty. What happens in the case of women too poor to bring their children up? Conservatives like Thomas Sowell already blame the welfare state for the decline of the Black family, but without it many women would be too poor to have the children Conservatives would like them to. In the 1920s Mussolini got very worried about falling Italian birthrates, and one of the methods he chose to tackle it, apart from getting women out of the workplace, was providing something like the equivalent of family allowance. Perhaps, if the Tories want women to stay at home and raise their families they should consider providing them with a state income for doing so. But I can imagine the screams and horror from the right if someone dared suggesting that. They shouldn’t, not if they’re good classicists. The later Roman emperors were so worried about the declining population of their empire, they passed legislation giving first Italians, and then all Roman citizens throughout the empire, a kind of family allowance. Possibly not something Johnson wants to be reminded of, for all he goes on about how wonder the Romans were.

Years ago New Scientist covered this issue with an interview on demographics. A declining birthrate is happening not just in the West, but also in Japan and China. Way back in the 90s one of the leading Japanese newspapers was so worried about it that they published an article that declared that if it carried out, in one thousand years the Japanese would be extinct. They also tried encouraging men to take an extra day off work to improve marital relations with their wives and so make more little Japanese. This got an angry response from a housewife, who said that relations between married couples didn’t improve simply because the husband was at home. China and India are also suffering from a shortage of women because of generations of infanticide. What the New Scientist demographer noted, was that the countries that have the highest birthrate have the less macho cultures and men are prepared to share the childrearing. Thus Scandinavia has a higher birthrate than Italy, and China and Japan, which have the same traditional attitudes to the division of labour, also have a low birthrate. In the case of Japan, there’s also the problem that young Japanese aren’t dating and having sex. Some even say that it revolts them. A decade ago there was a Radio 4 programme reporting this phenomenon and asking why it was so. I honestly don’t know, but I’m sure someone will blame video games.

The birthrate is also falling all over the world, although obviously in developing countries it is still much higher than over here. But Africa loses very many of its infants to appalling rates of infant mortality, so its population is very stable. In fact, there are fears that if the population continues to fall in some of these nations, their population will actually decline.

Which bring me to another point: the same demographer predicts a population crash throughout the globe in the middle of this century. This obviously contradicts the predictions of the various scientists and experts of the ’70s, who were worried about the ‘population bomb’. If this happens, countries will instead compete with each other to attract migrants. P.D. James’ SF film, Children of Men, showed that. It’s a dystopian movie in which the human race has become infertile. As a result, there’s massive political instability, but Britain has managed to keep order by becoming a quasi-Fascist state. But migrants from the rest of the world are invited, as shown by Arab mule trains around London. The hero in the story is charged with protecting an immigrant woman, who’s become the first in a very long time to become pregnant. Its a chilling movie, and one which marks a departure from the detective novels with which she made her name. But it was chilling realistic and had a point.

There are issues with immigration, but it ain’t the sole cause of the housing shortage, nor is the solution the Lotus Eaters want underneath it palatable to today’s women wanting independence. It may not even be one that works. We might instead be better off passing legislation giving greater assistance to manage family and work, like perhaps more maternity leave, and encouraging dad to share some of the housework more. But those aren’t good, Conservative attitudes and involve capitulating to feminism and greater state legislation of industry. But this terrifies the Lotus Eaters, and so they ain’t going to tell you about it. Except to argue against it.

The Lotus Eaters Read Out Detransitioners’ Harrowing Stories of Pain and Regret

June 14, 2022

Readers and followers of this blog know very well how I feel about Sargon of Gasbag and the Lotus Eaters. He and they are arch-Conservative reactionaries, fully in support of the Brexit that has wrecked British trade and the agreement that has so far kept the fragile peace in Ulster. They’re fully behind privatisation, but refuse to believe that the Tories are selling off the NHS – even though it’s right under their noses – because they don’t see how anyone would want to buy it. They’re also strongly anti-feminist, believing in traditional sex roles and that a woman’s place is in the home. Sargon himself did much to destroy UKIP, simply by joining it under Gerald Batten’s fuhrership. When he did so, a number of local UKIP parties either disaffiliated from the national party or simply dissolved, and a large proportion of their membership, who weren’t racists, walked away. When this happened, I put up an angry video from one such Kipper who was absolutely livid about Sargon and other figures on the populist right, like Count Dankula and Paul Joseph Watson joining. I also utterly despise their attitude. I find them smug, complacent, and resent the way they continue to push the smear that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters are anti-Semites. Corbyn wasn’t, and we’re not. Especially not the Jewish brothers and sisters who have been abused, smeared and purged simply because the fanatically pro-Israel right hates them condemning Israel’s decades-long ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. As for the Lotus Eaters’ libertarianism, all their arguments in favour of this daft ideology were answer over a century ago by writers like T.H. Green, who supported the New Liberalism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

But I have to give Carl Benjamin and his mates credit where credit’s due. On some issues, such as the transgender debate, I think they’re right, or mostly so. Now I shall repeat: I do not support discrimination against, abuse, violence or persecution of people simply because of their sexuality or gender presentation. But there are very serious issues regarding trans ideology, the Queer Theory that informs it, and the medical-industrial complex that supports it. Quite apart from the dangers it poses to women’s sport, dignity and safety. Such as the danger to women in prisons when they are jailed with biological men, often brutal sex criminals, simply because the man identifies as a woman.

And one of the major issues is that there are powerful commercial and ideological incentives to push young people who feel dissatisfied or alienated from their birth gender towards transition. I believe that some people genuinely suffer from these issues, and have benefited from transition. My problem is not with that. My problem is with the attitude that has now emerged among gay and transgender activists that such problems are automatically a reflection of a permanent sexual identity among those suffering them. An identity which it is forbidden to question or to treat with anything but support and affirmation. According to academic research, 60%-85% of teens suffering from gender dysphoria grow out of it. The majority of them becoming gay men or women, but otherwise happy and secure in their sexual identity. And the process of transition itself also carries serious health risks. As has been admitted, puberty blockers like Lupron are not reversible, and their long term effects are unknown. The cross-gender hormones given to those making the transition can damage the heart and other organs, as well as reduce bone density. And the sex-change surgery itself may create complications that require additional surgery to correct.

Medical transition can be immensely profitable for the doctors, surgeons and clinics performing it. In Britain, I believe, there are only a small number of NHS clinics performing such treatment and so there have sprung up a number of private clinics to take over the slack. And private healthcare is all about profit. Decades ago the Beeb broadcast a documentary about the American private healthcare system, revealing the immense number of unnecessary operations that were carried out, simply because they made money for the private hospitals and surgeons. Something like this may be going on here as well.

There is a small but growing number of ‘detransitioners’. These are transpeople, who bitterly regret their decision, and are seeking as far as possible to return to their birth sex. I say small, but that’s in comparison to the people now deciding that they want to transition to the opposite gender. The online detransitioner community numbers about 20,000. Which to me is a lot.

Here Sargon and his co-host read out their stories of deep regret, and as Sargon himself says, it’s harrowing stuff. Most of the stories come from women who transitioned to men, though there is one from a man, who transitioned to a woman. They were all very young when they started to transition, some about 18 and 20 years old. One former woman says that she was 16. All the detransitioners are repelled by their new bodies and regret the loss of their natural, biological gender. One detrans woman says that she is in mourning for it. And at least one of them has serious health issues, including having to sleep for 14 hours a day, because of the treatment.

Transitioning has worked for some, but not these. This is why I strongly believe that when it comes to such radical and life-changing treatment and surgery, the greatest care should be taken to ensure that this is genuinely and absolutely appropriate for the patient.

This is why I strongly oppose the affirmation model and the attempts by trans activists to outlaw conversion therapy for trans people. Because there is the real danger that it is an attempt to ban really appropriate psychiatric treatment for people, who will be harmed, not helped, by transitioning.

A History of Racism in the Islamic Middle East

May 27, 2022

Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East: An Historical Enquiry (Oxford: OUP 1990).

Bernard Lewis is a veteran scholar of Islam, and this book is an examination of the emergence and development of predominantly Muslim Arab racism in the Middle East. The book is a reworking of two previous studies from the 1970s, one of which was first published in French. It started off as part of an academic examination of intolerance, concentrating on religious bigotry. Lewis, however, believed that issue had been solved and so moved on to racial intolerance. Unfortunately, as the past fifty years have unfortunately shown, religious hatred and bigotry has certainly not died out, as shown here in Britain with the sectarian violence in Ulster.

Arab Ethnic Identity Before Colour Prejudice

Islam is viewed as an anti-racist religion, and the Qur’an states categorically that Blacks and Whites are both equal and should be treated as such. This admirable attitude was maintained by its theologians and jurists. However, with the emergence and expansion of the Islamic empires this began to change and prejudice and racism, based initially in ethnic differences and then on skin colour, emerged. The book argues that the pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arabs, like the other nations around them, had a strong sense of their own superiority against those of the surrounding peoples. This was based on ethnicity, not colour. A variety of colours were used to describe the variations in human complexion, and were used in relative rather than absolute terms. Thus the Arabs saw themselves as black compared to the ‘red’ Persians, but white compared to the Black peoples of Africa. As the new Arab ruling class intermarried with the peoples they had conquered, so there developed an attitude which saw Arabs of mixed descent as inferior, leading to dynastic conflicts between those of pure and mixed race. Muslim Arabs also saw themselves as superior to converts to Islam from the indigenous peoples of the Islamic empire, and a set of rules developed to enforce the converts’ inferior social status. At the same time, the Arabs formed various explanations based on the environment for the ethnic differences they observed among different peoples. An Iraqi writer believed that Whites had been undercooked in the womb due to the coldness of the environment they occupied. Blacks, on the other hand, were overcooked. The Iraqi people, however, were brown and mentally and physically superior to the other two races.

Development of Anti-Black Prejudice

As Islam expanded into sub-Saharan Africa anti-Black racism developed. This did not initially exist, not least because Ethiopia had been one of the major superpowers in the Arabian peninsula with a superior culture. Muslims also respected the Abyssinians for giving sanctuary to many of Mohammed’s followers during their persecution by the Meccan pagans. Over time, however, an attitude of contempt and racial superiority emerged towards Blacks. This racism even extended towards highly regarded Black Arabic poets and the governors of provinces, who were reproached and vilified for their colour by their enemies. Here Arab racist views of Blacks is nearly identical to those of White European racists. They were seen as lazy, ugly, stupid and lustful. The prurient view of Black women as boiling with sexual desire mirrors the racist attitude towards Jewish women amongst western anti-Semites. On the other hand, Blacks were also seen as strong, loyal, generous and merry. They also had excellent rhythm. Although both Whites and Blacks were enslaved, White slaves had a higher status and different terms were used to describe them. White slaves were mawlana, literally, ‘owned’. Only Black slaves were described as slaves, abid, a term that is still used to mean Black people in parts of the Arab world today.

The expansion of the European states and empires effectively cut off or severely diminished the supply of White slaves, and as a consequence the value of Black slaves began to rise. Unable to afford White slaves and concubines from Europe and the Caucasus, the peoples of the Middle East turned instead to Abyssinians and the Zanj, Black Africans from further south. Abyssinians in particular were prized for their beauty and other qualities, and its from this period that the Arab taste for the beauty of Black Africans rather than Whites developed. And as anti-Black racism developed, so Muslims scholars and authors wrote pieces defending Blacks from racism, not least because many of Mohammed’s Companions had been Black and the emergence of powerful Muslim kingdoms in Africa.

Islamic Slavery and Slave Armies

Islamic slavery was comparatively milder and more enlightened than western slavery. Although technically slaves could not own property and were disbarred from giving evidence in court, there was limitations on the punishments that could be inflicted on them. Muslims were urged to treat their slaves humanely and manumission was praised as a noble act. It was particularly recommended for the expiation of particular sins. At the same time Islam permitted contracts to be made between master and slave allowing the slave to save enough money to purchase his freedom at an agreed date. There were stories of particular Muslims who freed their slaves even in circumstances where punishment would have been expected. One master freed a female slave after she asked him why he was still alive, as she had been trying to poison him for a year. Slaves could rise to high office. The viziers and other chief dignitaries of the Ottoman empire were slaves. Slaves were used to staff Muslim armies, and there were separate regiments for White and Blacks slaves. Sometimes this resulted in battles between the two, as during the dynastic battles where one side used Black soldiers and the other White. The mamlukes, the Egyptian warriors who ruled Egypt and who expelled the Crusaders and stopped the Mongols conquering the Middle East, were White slaves. They were freed after completing their military training and their leaders preferred to purchase other slaves for training as their successors rather than pass on their position to their own children.

Islam’s acceptance and regulation of slavery, like Judaism, Christianity and other religions, as well as the views of ancient philosophers like Aristotle, also meant that there was opposition to its abolition. Muslim defenders of slavery produced the same arguments as their Christian counterparts, including the argument that Blacks and other infidels were better off enslaved as it introduced them to a superior civilisation. When a 19th century British consul inquired of the king of Morocco what steps he was taking regarding slavery and the slave trade, he was politely informed that all the legislation was based on the Qur’an and sharia and that there was no intention of banning slavery as it was permitted by Islam. Indeed, the Ottoman province of the Hijaz, the area around the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, was exempt from the Ottoman ban on slavery and the slave trade after the ulema and nobles declared it to be an attack on Islam, along with legislation allowing women to go in public without the veil. The Turks were declared to be apostates, who could be killed and their children enslaved. Many of the pilgrims to Mecca came with a number of slaves, who acted as living sources of funding. When the pilgrim needed more money, he sold one or two of them.

The Myth of Muslim Non-Racism

In the last two chapters, Lewis discusses the emergence of the view of Islam as completely non-racist and that its slavery was benign. He argues that this was largely the creation of western scholars reacting to the horrors of New World slavery during the American Civil War. Christian missionaries also contributed to this myth. They attempted to explain their failure to make converts by arguing that it was due to Black African revulsion against harsh western slavery. In fact it was due to differences of colour. Islam spread because it was promoted by Black African preachers, rather than White westerners. Particularly influential in the creation of this myth was Edward Blydon, a Black West Indian who was educated in Liberia by the missionaries. He became convinced that Islam was more suited to the needs of Black people, and his books also stressed White guilt, contrasting it with Muslim tolerance. Lewis also believes that the myth is also due to a widespread feeling of guilt among western Whites, which he sees as the modern counterpart to Kipling’s White man’s burden.

Along with the text of the book itself are extensive notes and a documentary appendix containing texts including a Muslim discussion on national character, the rights of slaves and diplomatic correspondence and observations on the 19th century slave trade.

Race and Slavery Compared with Brown’s Slavery & Islam

This book should ideally be read alongside Jonathan A.C. Brown’s Slavery & Islam, as the two present contrasting views of slavery and racism in Islam. Brown is a White, American academic and convert to Islam. While he condemns slavery totally, his book presents a much more positive view of Islamic slavery compared with western servitude and even the conditions endured by 19th century free European workers. He also extensively discusses Islamic abolition and the voices for it, while Lewis lays more stress on Muslim opposition. Brown recognises the existence of racism in the Islamic world, but also emphasises Muslim anti-racist texts like The Excellence of the Negroes. But as Lewis points out, these texts also show the opposite, that there was racism and bigotry in the Muslim world.

Lewis also recognises that Muslim slaves generally enjoyed good conditions and were treated well. However, the real brutality was inflicted on them during the journey from their place of capture to the Islamic heartlands. He also suggests that this relatively benign image may be due to bias in the information available. Most Muslim slaves were domestic servants, unlike the mass of slave labouring on the plantations in America. There were gangs of slaves working cotton plantations and employed in mining and public works, and these laboured in appalling conditions. It may also be that there were more slaves working in agriculture than recognised, because the majority of the information available comes from the towns, and so ignore what may have been the harsher treatment in the countryside.

He also discusses the absence of descendants of the Black slaves, except for a few pockets, in the modern Middle East. David Starkey in an interview for GB News claimed it was because the Muslim slave masters killed any babies born by their slaves. I don’t know where he got this idea. Lewis doesn’t mention such atrocities. He instead suggests that it may have been due to the castration of large numbers of boys to serve as eunuchs in the harems. The other slaves were forbidden to marry and have sex, except for female slaves purchased for that purpose. Slaves were also particularly vulnerable to disease, and so an epidemic lasting five years could carry off an entire generation.

Importance of the Book for an Examination of Contemporary Racial Politics

I was interested in reading this book because of the comparative lack of information on slavery and racism in Islam, despite the existence of books like Islam’s Black Slaves. Lewis in his introduction states that researching the issue may be difficult and dangerous, as it can be interpreted as hostility rather than a genuinely disinterested investigation. I think there needs to be more awareness of the history of Muslim slavery and Islam. For one reason, it explains the emergence of the slave markets in that part of Libya now occupied by the Islamists. It also needs to be more widely known because, I believe, the emphasis on western historic slavery and racism can present a distorted image in which the west is held to be uniquely responsible for these evils.

Riley Claims Rowling Abused for Opposition to Anti-Semitism, Not Trans

May 23, 2022

I really do wonder what goes on in the mind of Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley. Yes, she’s another fanatical supporter of Israel who can’t tell the difference between anti-Zionism – which is opposition to an ideology – and anti-Semitism, which is simply racial hatred of Jews. But her hatred of anti-Zionists, or indeed, of any critic of Israel’s barbarous treatment of the Palestinians, has now grown so fervent that sometimes she speaks utter nonsense. As when she accused the Durham Miner’s band of being some kind of SS Nazi organisation because they played Hava Nagila at the close of the miners’ gala, just as they did every year. Even a brief knowledge of real Fascism and Nazism is enough to dispel that. One of the first things Hitler did was smash the trade unions, replacing them with a much weaker, pro-management substitute, the Deutsche Arbeitsfront. Mussolini tried to win over the established socialist trade unions after banning the socialist parties. When he couldn’t, he banned them and made it compulsory for Italian workers to join the Fascist trade unions. The black trade unions which formed part of the MSI, the Italian neo-Fascist party after the war, were anti-socialist and supplied blackleg labour during strikes. In Britain, the opposition to Oswald Mosley and the BUF included the Communists and trade unions, as well, of course, of self-respecting Jews and Irish. And Ken Livingstone, in his 1987 Livingstone’s Labour, describes how bog-standard, ordinary mineworkers and the unions objected to the employment of former Nazis by the Coal Board after they offered their services to British intelligence.

Examining some of her statements, I find myself using the same advice Private Eye gave its readers when reviewing the books written by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s esteemed pater. You read it very carefully, and then turned it round 180o, and bingo! You’d reached the right conclusion.

Last week Riley raised her head to claim that J.K. Rowling had suffered horrendous abuse and vilification, not because she didn’t believe that transwomen were women, but because she was opposed to ‘Corbyn and anti-Semitism’. Well, it’s true that she did issue various statements over the net attacking Corbyn as an anti-Semite. She also accused Mike of being an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier. All this told me is that, whatever her strengths as a novelist, she was credulous in this regard and believed everything she read in the papers.

Rowling has come under fire for many of her views. The anti-immigration Alex Belfield types attacked her for defending asylum-seekers and the channel migrants. They demanded that if she was that in favour of them, she should put a few up in her multi-million pound mansion. They can’t make the same accusation of Benedict Cumberbatch, of course, because he has indeed taken one of them in.

But most of the abuse Rowling’s suffered came from a tweet she made a few years ago, in which she told her trans readers that they should dress how they want, sleep with whoever would have them, live their best lives, but that transwomen weren’t women. Not a hateful statement at all, as far as I can see. But because of this she was immediately accused of hating transpeople and wanting to kill them. Since then there were moves to exclude her from the documentary marking 20 years since the Harry Potter movies, and trans activists telling the world to read her books but ignore the fact that she wrote them. In all of this, I haven’t seen any evidence of anti-Semitism from her trans critics and opponents. In fact, I don’t recall seeing any evidence of anti-Semitism from trans rights activists at all. Rather the opposite. Maria MacLachlan, who posts her gender critical videos on the Peak Trans channel on YouTube, has one in which she refutes the accusation that ‘TERFs’ – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists – are right-wing. Among the tweets she shows which make this accusation is one that says that ‘Terfs are Nazis, literal Nazis’. Which is utter nonsense. Many, if not most, gender critical feminists come from the radical left and are utterly opposed to racism, which includes anti-Semitism and Jew hatred. As for the trans rights activists, in all of their abuse I don’t think I’ve seen one that mentions Jews, let alone expresses anti-Semitism views. As far as I can make out, Rowling’s trans opponents are simply opposed to her refusal to accept their dogma that transwomen are women. And I have to say that her criticisms of Corbyn and the Labour were so long ago that I’d forgotten them until Riley reminded me of them.

Riley’s talking nonsense. I don’t know if she made this ridiculous accusation because her hatred of Corbyn has now become so intense and obsessive that he’s living rent-free in her head, or whether Starmer’s position as head of the Labour party is now so shaky that she’s somehow afraid Corbyn will come back. But she’s talking arrant bilge regardless, bilge which deserves to be refuted along with her other prejudiced statements about the Labour left.

Oh the Irony! David Evans Asks If I Could Be a Labour Organiser!

May 13, 2022

Remember David Evans, the Labour party’s utterly poisonous Blairite General Secretary, who did everything he could to oust Jeremy Corbyn and defame, smear and purge his followers? Now, it seems, he and the party are on the hunt for future organisers. And I got sent this invitation from him to join an online workshop on becoming one last Saturday. The event was Monday evening, and I didn’t go. It was tempting, because as a supporter of Corbyn and a critic of the Israeli state’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians with a black mark against me for doing so online, I am precisely the type of person he, Starmer and the other Blairites really don’t want in the party. Here’s the email to amuse you. I’ve removed the text with the links.

‘Dear David,

When I was appointed General Secretary, I set out my three priorities: to win the next election; to deliver a first class organisation; and to become a diverse and inclusive employer. 

The local election results showed that we are making real progress with gains right across the country and I thank every one of you for your support and effort during this campaign.

As we now look to the next general election, we are recruiting 21 Trainee Organisers to join our party on that journey. Not only are we going to recruit the very best, we want those organisers to be representative of our country and party.

Our Trainee Organisers will be the campaign leaders in those seats we need to win, and through on the ground and classroom learning, will gain the skills and knowledge to deliver a Labour victory whenever the election comes.

Find out more about the Trainee Organiser role and apply:

Apply Here

We are committed to ensuring our Trainee Organisers reflect the diversity of our party, our communities and our country.

We welcome applications from everyone regardless of background, and from groups currently under-represented in our workforce, including women, ethnic minorities and disabled people. 

That is why we are holding a bespoke online session open to all where staff and politicians from the Labour Party will explain the Trainee Organiser scheme, how to apply, what the scheme involves and what you’ll learn along the way. 

The session will take place at 6pm on Monday 9 May over Zoom. Register today.

I look forward to you joining us.

Best wishes,

David Evans
General Secretary’

Well, the Labour party’s Black and Asian members are leaving the party in droves, because Starmer’s Labour isn’t representing them or doing anything for them. Starmer was tepid in his support of Black Lives Matter when it first emerged. He conspicuously took some time before he and Rayner gave it their support, indicating that this was just another publicity stunt. The party did nothing to reprimand or investigate the allegations of racist bullying by party apparatchiks against Black and Asian MPs and activists like Diane Abbott. And Muslim members have complained of rising islamophobia, with 1/3 claiming to have been victims of such racist incidents. But there’s been no crackdown or investigation of that.

And ordinary disabled people don’t really have a reason to give their unqualified support for Labour. It was Tony Blair who introduced the work capability tests, which have seen tens of thousands of genuinely disabled and critically ill people thrown off the benefits they need because they’ve been falsely judged fit for work. And all too often the clerks interviewing them have been numbskulls like the moron who asked an amputee when he expected his limbs to grow back!

As for women, while I don’t doubt that the party is sincere in its desire to give them fuller representation, the women they’re aiming for are affluent, middle class women, who nevertheless believe in the Blairite message of pruning back the welfare state in order to make the proles more self-reliant. Or desperate, as Maggie did.

But I do find it hilarious that they sent out this appeal to me, after having me investigated for wrongthink.

I hope you found this as funny as I did. And Corbyn forever!

Stop the War Coalition Demonstration Tomorrow Against Israeli Atrocities Against Palestinians

May 13, 2022

I had this bit of news come today in an email newsletter from the Stop the War Coalition. Following the fatal shooting of a journalist for Arab news agency, al-Jazeera, the Coalition are organisation a protest tomorrow, 14th May 2022, outside the Beeb’s headquarters in Portland Place in the Smoke. The email reads

Protest for Palestine – Tomorrow!

Israel’s murder of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in occupied Jenin is part of an escalation of violence against Palestinians. She was fatally shot in the head by Israeli forces while reporting on a military raid in the Jenin refugee camp yesterday. Her murder is described by Al-Jazeera as an “assassination in cold blood.”

The shameful and disturbing scenes of occupation forces attacking her funeral today highlight the urgent need to end Israeli apartheid. People across the world are taking to the streets to demand that Israeli forces are held to account and push for an end to the oppression of Palestinians.


Join us tomorrow at midday outside the BBC on Portland Place. The Palestinian people need our solidarity now more than ever.

Click Here for Full Details

Somehow I don’t think the lady’s shooting was entirely accidental. One of the articles in the Counterpunch book about the decline of critical reportage, especially of Bush and Blair’s Gulf War, End Times: The End of the Fourth Estate, discussed the number of journos who’d been killed covering the war. This isn’t exactly suspicious in itself, as war reporting, by its very nature, is extremely dangerous. But these were journalists who didn’t follow the approved Pentagon line, and were determined to show what was really happening rather than follow American state propaganda. William Blum in one of his book on American imperialism attacked the hypocrisy of the American government for decrying enemy attacks on civilian news broadcasting stations and journalists, while at the same time doing exactly the same. One major example was the American strike against the Serbian state broadcaster during the war in Yugoslavia. It looks to me that Abu Akleh was deliberately shot because she was a journalist for al-Jazeera, and therefore would have been instrumental in producing footage and commentary of what was really going on, outside Israeli and American spin.

New Politics’ Review of Frank Wolff’s History of the Russian/Polish Jewish Bund

May 11, 2022

I went on Google the other night to see if there were any books available on the history of the Bund, the majority Jewish socialist party of the former Russian empire and later Poland. I doubt very many people know about it apart from historians of the Jewish communities in those countries. I was therefore surprised to find that there are quite a few, in both English and Yiddish. However, one of the most informative and concise summaries of the Bund’s history is in Marvin S. Zuckerman’s review, ‘The Soul of the Bund’, of Frank Wolff’s Yiddish Revolutionaries in Migration: The Transnational History of the Jewish Labour Bund  translated by Loren Balhorn and Jan-Peter Herrmann, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2022, paperback, 532 pp in New Politics, a magazine for the democratic Left. The review begins with a quote from Wolff’s book from Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who describes how the discovered the history of the Bund through a book about Marek Edelman, a member of the Bund and hero of the Warsaw uprising. In the book, Edelman talks about the Bund, and Cohn-Bendit states that both the Stalinists and Zionists have tried to erase it from memory. Then the review continues thus:

‘Books and monographs have been published about the Bund, in Yiddish and English, German and Polish, and in other languages. Nevertheless, Cohn-Bendit’s remarks remain relevant. To fill the still-existing broad gap in  knowledge of the Bund, before describing Frank Wolff’s book about the Bund, here are some facts that will give some notion of the “forgotten history” of the Bund.

The Bund was the first modern Jewish political party in the Russian Empire, as well as the largest social democratic movement in the entire empire. On the eve of the Second World War, it was also the strongest Jewish party in Poland.

In its early years (it was founded in 1897) the Bund achieved considerable success, attracting 40,000 supporters by 1906, making it the largest socialist group in the Russian Empire. From mid-1903 to mid-1904 the Bund held 429 political meetings, 45 demonstrations, and 41 political strikes; it issued 305 pamphlets, of which 23 dealt with the pogroms and self-defense. In 1904 the number of Bundist political prisoners reached 4,500.

In the 1930s, one hundred thousand Jewish workers belonged to Bundist unions, meaning that one-quarter of all unionized workers in Poland were led by the Bund, giving them enormous power. The Bund held the overwhelming majority in the national council of Jewish Trade Unions, which, at the end of 1921, comprised seven unions with 205 branches, and 46,000 members, and, in 1939, 14 unions with 498 branches and approximately 99,000 members.

Together with the left Labor Zionists, the Bund administered a network of secular Yiddish schools. At its peak, in the late 1920s, its TSYSHO (Tsentrale Yidishe Shul Organizatsye or Central Yiddish School Organization) maintained 219 institutions with 24,000 students, spread across 100 locations, including 467 kindergartens, 114 elementary schools, 6 high schools, 52 evening schools, and a pedagogical institute in Vilnius.

The Bund also maintained a youth organization, Tsukunft, which numbered 15,000 members on the eve of WW II, and a children’s organization, SKIF, blending scout activities, sports events, and politics; a women’s organization, YAF; and a sports organization, Morgnshtern, the largest such organization in all of Poland, Jewish or Polish.

In 1938, in the municipal elections in 89 Polish cities and towns, the Bund won 55% of the votes cast, more than all the other Jewish parties put together. The Bund thus became communal spokesmen and aggressive advocates of financial aid to all Jewish institutions, including yeshivas and religious institutions.

Most importantly, and as it relates to Frank Wolff’s book, being a member of the Bund meant you lived your life through the Bund—it was your union, your education, your church.’

The review then goes on to describe how the Bund was at the forefront of resistance to the Holocaust, and as Social Democrats, who believed in establishing socialism democratically, they were firmly opposed to the Communists. It also describes their attitude and struggle with the Zionists:

‘The Bund struggled with the Zionist movement for the hearts and minds of the Polish Jews. Looking back, one wonders how the Bund could have maintained that “There where we live (and have lived for hundreds of years), that is our country.” One forgets how chimerical the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in Palestine was. Herzl’s dictum that Palestine was “A land without people for a people without a land” was simply not true. Palestine was peopled by over 1 million Palestinians. In 1914, for example, Palestine’s non-Jews outnumbered Jews by 8 to 1.

The Bund argued that 3.2 million Polish Jews, and the other millions in Eastern Europe, would not pull up and move to Palestine. In any case, the Turks, and later the British, were not permitting Jews to enter. The practical and immediate thing to do was for the Jews in their millions to fight for their civil rights and for social democracy in the lands in which they were living, not dream of emigrating to Palestine.

It is tragically true that annihilation was the fate that befell the Polish and other East European Jews, but that same fate would have befallen the Jews of Palestine if the British army had not stopped the advance eastward of the German army with the British victory at El Alamein, Egypt. The Yishuv in Palestine would have been exterminated and with it would have perished the dream of a Jewish state in Palestine.’

The review describes the book as a social and cultural history, describing the Bund’s tactics in reaching the Jewish masses on one hand and fighting for their civil rights, against their exploitation and attacks on them by real anti-Semites. After the party’s suppression in Poland, the book follows its members as they emigrated abroad to New York and Buenos Aires.

But the Bund, although now long gone as an organisation, still exerts a powerful influence. There’s a quote from the book about Daniel Katz’s analysis of Bernie Sanders first run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Katz believed that Bernie was motivated not just by socialism – he was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, but specifically Yiddish socialism and its tradition of fighting oppression, and especially Bund’s transnational appeal. It was this tradition that was able to enthuse and inspire millions of young Americans. The quote concludes

‘The history of the Bund as a party may have come to an end, but the effects of it cultural and political work and their unifying humanitarian yet activist spirit described here continue to matter today.’

The full review can be read at: https://newpol.org/review_of_yiddish_revolutionaries_in_migration/?msclkid=37292abbd14d11ecacf172187342a816

Bernie would have been an awesome president, and broken the mould of American politics. He genuinely seemed to understand and care about the real problems of American working people. During one of his campaign rallies in a southern community, he was approached by a woman in tears wondering how she was going to support her family. Bernie comforted her as she poured our her concerns. One supportive commenter pointed out how amazing it was that a secular Jew from the north could reach out and appeal to a southern Christian. But that’s because he genuinely championed them against the corporatist political establishment.

It’s a massive shame that Bernie didn’t win, just like Jeremy Corbyn lost over here. Because the two of them in power together would have transformed British and American politics for the better.

YouTube Video of 1 Hour of Music from the Israeli Communist Party

May 11, 2022

Okay, I’ve put up a number of videos over the past few days as well as articles about songs in Yiddish from the Polish and Russian Jewish Bund, the mass socialist party for Jews in those countries. This was to make the point that it was the Bund that had the majority support of those nation’s Jewish populations, not the Zionists, contrary to the claims of today’s Israel lobby. And as the song in ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’ makes very clear, the Bund did indeed very powerfully reject Zionism in favour winning equal rights for Jews in the countries of their birth and fighting for the emancipation of Jewish working people as part of the international workers’ movement.

Going through YouTube the other day I found a video of an hour of Israeli Communist anthems in Hebrew. This is another video I’m not going to put up, because I think an hour of Communist music, whether in English, Hebrew, or whatever would be too much for most people. But the thumbnail to the video’s interesting because of what it shows of the party’s attitude to the Israeli state’s treatment of the Palestinians. It has the slogan ‘Stop the War: End the Occupation’ and the comments are from both Israelis and Arabs who are united in opposing the Israeli state’s decades-long programme of ethnic cleansing. Among the comments there’s this remark from JCSurge that makes the Jewish rejection of the anti-Arab persecution very clear: ‘

We, the Jewish people, did not toil, and suffer oppression for thousands of years to become the oppressor! We did not work so hard to establish a state that keeps our brothers [Palestinians] occupied in second-class conditions. This is not the work of which millions of Jews have died in vain for. Hativah L-Komunitzim b-Israel!’

And a gent from Lebanon, whose monicker is in the Arabic script so I can’t read it, posted:

‘As a Lebanese Arab im happy to see some Israelis wanting to unite with palestinian arabs under socialist rule’.

If you can speak Hebrew and want to watch it, or simply want to do so anyway, the video’s title is One Hour of Hebrew Communist Music, and it’s on the GETchan channel on YouTube.

On the 120th Anniversary Performance of the Bundist Song ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’

May 10, 2022

There’s a fascinating video on YouTube of the performance by Jewish radical musicians Daniel Kahn and Psoy Korolenko of the Bundist song ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’. It was sent over the internet to the Melbourne Bund as part of the 120th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the Bund, the mass Russian and Polish Jewish socialist party in 1897. Korolenko sings it in three languages, Yiddish, English and Russian. It’s militantly socialist and stridently attacks the rich and Zionism in no uncertain terms.

It begins with the tears of the Jews running into the sea, but the tears of the rich are clear, while those of the poor are bloody. It also sings about Jews and gentiles marching together are comrades in their shared homelands. As for Zionism, it says that the call for Jews to return to Israel is what they’ve heard from the priests. It’s just putting Jews back into another ghetto. The Zionists are concerned with the Jewish people’s fathers in their grave, but have no concerns for the present generation. But there’s a new messiah – the working man, who will transform the world.

It’s a great song which makes the Bund’s anti-Zionism very clear, preformed by too excellent musicians. It also adds further weight to the amount of historical scholarship showing that it was the secular Bund that represented the majority Jewish opinion in Poland and eastern Europe before the Second World War, and not Zionism. That said, I have issues with it that prevent me from putting the video up on this blog. I’m an Anglican Christian, but I found the rejection of the Jewish hope for the Messiah actually shocking and blasphemous. And if it shocks a gentile like me, I wonder how offensive it must be to religious Jews. I also realise that many religious Jews, even some Israelis, are critical of Israel or just disgusted at its treatment of the Palestinians. I’ve blogged before now of Haredi and other very Orthodox Jews, who believe their religious duty is remain in the countries to which Jews have been scattered, until Israel is redeemed by the Messiah. I understand from one of the Jewish anti-Zionist bloggers that one former Chief Rabbi held that view. When he was asked whether the redemption of Israel then would have the same result in the removal of the Palestinians, he replied that under the Messiah it would be done peacefully through negotiation. There are Israeli human rights groups like B’Tselem that are under attack from the right-wing Israeli establishment because they criticise their country for its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. I also remember the way Israeli nationalists attacked and vilified a group of liberal Israelis because they said the kadish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, over a dying Palestinian who’d been shot by the IDF. The song interests me as a historical artefact and as part of an alternative tradition of Jewish radicalism that still holds a place in current Jewish society.

But I don’t feel I can put it up on this blog because I genuinely don’t want to offend anyone’s religious beliefs.

My issue is with the Israel lobby and Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and with the way Zionist groups are trying to rewrite history so that only they appear as the true champions and expression of Jewish political aspirations, and definitely not with Jews or Judaism.

If you want to see the video for yourself, it’s on the Bund Melbourne channel on YouTube, and has the Yiddish title of ‘In Zaltsikn Yam – Bund 120 Yoyvl 2017’.