Archive for the ‘Archaeology’ Category

Simon Webb on Black History’s Appropriation of Other Cultures

November 24, 2021

In this video, Simon Webb of History Debunked critiques another Black history book promoting racial propaganda and fake history. The book’s Black History Matters, published by Franklin. The book follows Martin Bernal’s Black Athena, published in the 1980s, in viewing ancient Egypt as not only a Black civilisation, but the ultimate source of western civilisation as its cultural achievements were taken over by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Webb states he read the book in the 1980s, and while it was interestingly written he thought it was a load of rubbish. Since its publication there has been further research into the ethnic origins of the ancient Egyptians, including DNA analysis. This has found that the ancient Egyptians didn’t descend from Black Africans, but were genetically related to the people’s of the ancient Near East, such as Mesopotamia. The Black component of the modern Egyptian genome was introduced later during the Arab occupation. The book has pages on ancient Egypt,, and at one point declares one of the manuscripts recovered to be a ground-breaking medical compendium. Well, sort of, but not really. It’s a collection of spells for use against various diseases. This was pretty much the standard practice in the ancient Near East at the time. Similar spells against disease are known from Babylon and the Hittite Empire. But it ain’t medicine as it’s now understood, Jim.

The book goes on to discuss Ethiopia, but neglects to mention that this was an Arab colony, as shown by the Semitic nature of its languages, Amharic and Tigrinya. These are descended from various South Arabian languages, like Sabaic, the language of the ancient kingdom of Sheba, now Marib, in Yemen. The book also discusses the Swahili civilisation without acknowledging that it, too, was the result of Arab colonisation. The Swahili culture was founded by Arabs from the Sultanate of Oman, who were also responsible for setting up a slave trade in east Africa. However, while there is plenty of material in the book on the transatlantic slave trade, there is absolutely nothing whatsoever on the Arab slave trade. This is despite the fact that the Arab slave trade captured and transported the same number of slaves as White Europeans.

The belief that the ancient Egyptians were Black and were the ultimate source for western culture is widespread in the Black community and passionately held. Much of it comes from the Senegalese Afrocentrist scholar, Cheikh Anta Diop in the 1960s, and Webb has also made a video debunking this fake history. It goes back further back, however, to Black American travellers to Egypt in the 19th century. It’s understandably based on a simple syllogism: Africa is the home continent of the Black race. Egypt is in Africa, therefore the ancient Egyptians were Black. There’s also a psychological need behind the identification of the ancient Egyptians as Black: much western scholarship before the rise of the modern Black power movements scorned African culture as worthless, and Blacks themselves as racially and intellectually inferior. This has created a need amongst Black activists to demonstrate their cultural and intellectual equality, if not superiority to Whites. And as the best known, and most magnificent ancient African civilisation, ancient Egypt fits this requirement. There also seems to be a conspiracy grown up about the Black identity of the ancient Egyptians as well. I remember being told by a Black American exchange student at College that the reason so many statues from Egypt missed their noses and lips was because they had been hacked off by those evil imperialist Victorians determined to hide their true race. As noses and lips are some of the features most likely to be chipped off over time, regardless of the race of the statue, I don’t believe that at all. But it shows the paranoia and racial suspicion among some Afrocentrists.

There have been a number of attempts outside of Afrocentric history to find an African component in ancient Egyptian civilisation. A few years ago archaeologists examining a number of mummies found that the features of their occupants were more characteristically African than the portraits on the cases. This fuelled speculation that, due to first the Greek and then the Roman domination of Egypt, indigenous Egyptians were deliberately having themselves painted to appear more European. If this was the case, it would come from the oppressive system of apartheid the Romans operated which reduced indigenous Egyptians to second class citizens. A head of Queen Tiyi, which has rather African features, was also adduced as proof that the ancient Egyptians were Black, or had some Black ancestry.

In the 1990s New Scientist also published a piece speculating about a prehistoric sub-Saharan contribution to ancient Egypt. An ancient stone circle had been found further south, and the central stone seemed to be roughly carved to resemble a cow. The archaeologists behind the discovery speculated that the circle dated from the time when the Sahara was still green and had been made by a Black, pastoralist people. As these people’s livelihood and culture was based on their cattle, they naturally worshipped a cow goddess. As they climate changed and the region became a desert, the herders moved north to join the White ancestors of the Egyptians, and the cow goddess became the ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor.

There were also programmes by the Beeb at the same time that claimed that the Egyptians were Black until the race became lighter following the Arab conquest. On the other side, I don’t recall any of the Roman or Greek authors, like Herodotus, who visited ancient Egypt, describing its people as Black.

To be fair, not every Black intellectual believes this. Caryl Phillips wrote a book, Afrocentrism, debunking it way back in the ’90s/ early 2000s, which was reviewed in the Financial Times. I’ve seen the Egyptians as a race somewhere between White and Black. They certainly portrayed themselves as darker than Europeans. Ancient Egyptian art stereotypically shows men as reddish-brown in colour, and women as yellow. European cultures, like the Minoans, painted themselves as pink. The Egyptians also, however, painted the Black cultures further to the south as Black. However, it makes more sense to see ancient Egypt as part of the ancient Near East because it was part of that geopolitical and cultural area. Basil Davidson, a White Afrocentrist, defended his view that the ancient Egyptians were ultimately the source of Greek and Roman culture and science by stating that it was what the Romans themselves said. Perhaps, but the majority of the foreign contribution to Greek science actually comes from the Middle East, such as Babylonia and Phrygia, rather than Egypt.

Davidson also wrote an interesting history of the Swahili culture, which I found in Bristol’s Central Library years ago. This was written as a kind of ‘bottom-up’ history. Instead of viewing it as an Arab culture that had been imposed on Black Africans, he saw it as Black Africans accepting Arab culture. However, he did not deny or omit the Arab contribution, as this book appears to do.

The book’s title clearly shows that it’s been rushed out to cash in on the Black Lives Matter movement. Unfortunately, instead of being proper history it’s just pushing racial, if not racist, propaganda. I’d argue that any attempt to argue that Black Africans are the unacknowledged source of White culture and dwelling on the transatlantic slave trade while saying nothing about the Arab is racist against Whites.

African culture and history is genuinely fascinating without its reduction to myths and racial propaganda, and there are a number of excellent books about it. Unfortunately it looks like they’re going to be ignored in favour of extremely flawed and biased treatments like this.

Quinn Discusses Possible Screen Adaption of ‘Hyperion’

November 9, 2021

This interesting little snippet comes from the ‘Quinn’s Ideas’ YouTube channel. Quinn’s a Black American fantasy/ SF writer and graphic novelist with a taste for galaxy-spanning SF that tackles the big metaphysical ideas, like power, responsibility, suffering, the nature of humanity and the possibility of alien life and truly sentient AI. He’s a big fan of Frank Herbert’s classic Dune, which has now been filmed by Denis Villeneuve and has been playing in cinemas around the country. Quinn’s put up a series of videos about Dune, which are well worth watching, as well as other great SF works like Asimov’s Foundation. In this video he talks about the news that there are plans to adapt Dan Simmon’s Hyperion, but it’s not known yet whether this would be for the cinema or TV. He hopes it’s TV.

Hyperion is another of his favourite books, and he’s also posted videos about it. It, too, is another SF classic. It set in a future in which humanity has expanded throughout the galaxy, united into a type of interstellar UN called the Hegemony. Outside the Hegemony are the Oustlers, a society of nomadic humans, who have adapted themselves to space, who attack and raid vulnerable Hegemony worlds. Also outside the Hegemony is the Technocore, a society of intelligent AIs, who rebelled against their human creators centuries ago and fled into space. Their whereabouts is unknown, but they have established apparently friendly relations with humanity offering advice and technology. Earth was destroyed hundreds of years ago by accident in an attempt to create an artificial Black Hole. Although the humans have FTL spaceships, these are still quite slow compared to the cosmic spaces they traverse, so that it can take months or years to travel from one planet to another. These transit times are offset for the crew and passengers of such ships through a form of relativistic time dilation, so that the subjective time they experience in flight is shorter than that in the outside universe. A more immediate form of travel are the Farcasters, technological portals that allow the user to pass instantaneously across space from one world to another.

Hyperion itself is a sparsely populated agricultural world, threatened with attack from Oustlers. It is home to the mysterious Time Tombs, strange monuments that have appeared to have travelled backwards in time. Haunting them is the Shrike, a gigantic humanoid killing machine, whose body is a mass of cruel spikes and blades. In this future, Christianity has declined to the point where it’s a minor sect that survives on only a few worlds. Among the new religions that have replaced it is the Church of the Final Atonement, centred around the Shrike. Six pilgrims are periodically selected to go to Hyperion, journey to the Tombs and meet the Shrike. It is believed that although the creature will kill five of them, it will grant the wish of the survivor. The novel follows six pilgrims, who entertain each other by telling their stories on their way to meet the creature.

The pilgrims include a former Roman Catholic priest, sent to investigate the disappearance of a fellow former cleric while conducting an anthropological study of the Bikura, a mysterious human tribe; a female gumshoe from a heavy gravity world, investigating the murder of the biological and cybernetic reconstruction of the poet Keats; a Jewish academic from a farming world, desperately seeking a cure for his daughter’s condition. An archaeologist investigating the Time Tombs, she has started to age backwards after a mysterious event until she reaches infancy. There is also a noted galactic poet and writer of trash historical fantasies about the last days of Earth, a Palestinian Martian colonel and a Templar master. The Templars are another new religion, which worships trees, and the Templars have converted some of the vast trees on their homeworld into spacecraft.

The book’s influenced not just by Keat’s poem ‘Hyperion’, but also by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I therefore think Quinn’s right in that it would be better as a TV adaptation, as each tale could constitute an individual episode within the overarching story. At the heart of the book is the problem of evil, how the universe can contain such immense pain and suffering. It’s an issue that has challenged philosophers and theologians down the centuries. Hyperion is a Science Fictional attempt to examine the problem, as exemplified by the Shrike.

Hyperion was the first in a series of novels completing the story: The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion and the Rise of Endymion, all of which I found similarly worth reading. It would be great if Hyperion was adapted for screen, but I’m afraid that, like some of the Dune adaptations, some of the central ideas which make the book an SF classic might be lost. If, that is, the book’s ever adapted at all. Things seem rather tenuous and it may all come to nothing. We shall have to wait and see.

Have Scientists Recovered Fragments of Dinosaur DNA?

November 4, 2021

I found this fascinating little video on Russian science vlogger Anton Petrov’s YouTube channel. Petrov, who characteristically greets his viewers with the phrase, ‘Hello, wonderful person’ usually covers astronomy and space, but frequently branches out into other areas like biology. In this video, he discusses a scientific paper that claims that fragments of DNA have been recovered from a small dinosaur, Caudipteryx. This was a creature about the size and shape of a chicken, and it’s one of the dinosaur fossils found in the Jehol beds of China.

The possibility that dinosaur genetic material may have survived clearly brings us into Jurassic Park territory, and Petrov says that he was so amazed and excited by the movie that it was one of the things that caused him to become a scientist. He originally wanted to be a palaeontologist, and studied a bit of geology and went on digs. He makes a joke about how the viewers will now have to imagine the Jurassic Park music playing in the background. Why can’t they have it for real? Copyright, he sighs, it’s always copyright.

It’s a controversial claim, and one he says will have scientists arguing for some time to come. DNA begins to break down soon after death. It has a half-life of 521 years, meaning that after that period of time, half the DNA in a creature’s remains will have vanished. And all of it will be gone after about 6 million years. However, DNA from Greenland plants has been recovered from 800,000 years ago, showing that the country was warmer and greener than it is now. Fragments of DNA from Neanderthal people have been recovered from 100,000 years ago, showing that DNA can survive quite long periods. In the case of the Caudipteryx dinosaur, some of the DNA may have turned into silicates, which may have preserved the rest. The scientists were able to discover the DNA through using the same process of chemical staining that is used to find it elsewhere. It does seem likely that they have discovered individual cells in the animal’s fossil, which is itself a major advance.

It’s an interesting possibility, but I don’t think we have to be afraid of scientists recreating the dinosaurs to create a new theme park just yet. I think the DNA is far too fragmentary for that. I can remember there being similar controversies about the recovery of Neanderthal DNA, which is far more recent. That said, there are people, who’d like to bring back the mammoths by combining ancient mammoth DNA with modern elephants, and there are considerable ethical and environmental issues about this. Not to mention the scientific problems of finding enough surviving mammoth DNA and being able to combine this successfully with its modern, surviving relative.

My Defence to the Labour Party Against the Anti-Semitism Allegations

August 29, 2021

On Thursday I submitted my defence against the utterly false accusations of anti-Semitism levelled against to the Labour party. Although the complaints procedure is severely flawed, perhaps deliberately so in order to secure convictions of guilt more easily, I felt I had no choice. I had seven days to respond and they were determined to go ahead with the charges even if they didn’t have a response from me. In my defence I not only refute the anti-Semitism charges, but I also voice my criticisms of the entire complaints and disciplinary procedure. I also include a biographical statement making it clear that by upbringing and education I am not an anti-Semite. Here is my defence. Be warned: It is long.

Antisemitism Accusations: Refutation

I have never been an anti-Semite, and, given the horrors perpetrated against the Jewish people, especially the Holocaust, find this form of racism particularly abhorrent. I therefore find these accusations to be nothing short of vile calumny.

The Accusations: Baseless and Insubstantial

I have looked at the accusations and the evidence that have been levelled against me, and find them to be so baseless, contrived and ahistorical that they are actually both personally insulting and an attack on real scholarship by people who I can only surmise are sectarian political propagandists. As you will be aware, I am an historian and archaeologist with a doctorate in the latter subject. I consider historical truth extremely important and have nothing but absolute contempt for those who wish to falsify or deny history. And I am afraid this is precisely what my accusers have done. Let’s go through the accusations.

  1. David Sivier (the Respondent) has engaged in conduct prejudicial and / or grossly detrimental to the Party in breach of Chapter 2, Clause I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book by engaging in conduct which:  

     
    1. may reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on religion or belief ;  
  • Engages in stereotypical allegations of Jewish control in the media, economy, government or other societal institutions;  

I should begin by stating that I find this a very poorly constructed document. It seems that you have a list of accusations, which you have decided must be applied to all cases such as mine involving accusations of prejudice, regardless of their individual applicability. Furthermore, you provide no supporting argument for these accusations. You simply reproduce the prohibitions from the party handbook, the blog post which appears to offend you and a list of quotes. Some of these, which you seem to find anti-Semitic, are anything but. For example, with the above quote

“My own preferred view is that anti-Semitism is simply hatred of Jews as Jews, and that no state or ideology should be beyond debate and criticism. This includes Israel and Zionism,”  

Your objections themselves, if I am reading you correctly, show considerable prejudice.

  1. It was Wilhelm Marr who defined anti-Semitism as hatred of Jews as Jews, regardless of religion or ideology. Marr was the founder of the German League of Anti-Semites. Are you telling me that the definition of anti-Semitism, used by the anti-Semites themselves, is somehow anti-Semitic? If so, you are depriving historians of the means to judge and understand the actions and motives of real anti-Semites, people responsible for the most horrendous crimes.
  2. Are you stating that there are certain states and ideologies that are beyond criticism? Does this attitude apply to highly repressive regimes such as North Korea, the Islamic State and the Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan? Does this principle mean that I may not criticise other, viciously racist, murderous regimes like Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia? Or, come to think of it, Idi Amin’s Uganda and Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe or even apartheid South Africa. By adopting this attitude, you appear to be siding with monstrously oppressive regimes rather than the grand, democratic socialist tradition of universalism and human rights.
  3. You seem to believe that Israel and Zionism should be exempt from debate and criticism. But where a state violates human rights and engages in systematic persecution, it should be criticised, as should the underlying ideology. The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which has been foisted on the party, only says that criticism of Israel may be considered anti-Semitic, if similar criticisms are not applied to other countries. But I do apply them to other countries on my blog. You just have selected a single blog post, and decided that it is representative a general attitude of particular hostility to Israel because of the religion of its founders and government. This is not the case.

The accusers seem to mistakenly conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and opposition to or criticism of the state of Israel. But as I have said above, Wilhelm Marr, the founder of the League of Anti-Semites, viewed anti-Semitism as hatred of Jews as Jews, regardless of religion or ideology. Georg von Schoenerer, an Austrian nationalist, stated ‘Religion is only a mask- the foulness is in the blood’. See Peter Vansittart, Voices 1870-1914 (London: Jonathan Cape 1984) XV. Also ‘Anti-Semitism’ in Taylor, James, and Shaw, Warren, A Dictionary of the Third Reich (London: Grafton Books 1988) 37, ‘Der Politischen Antisemitismus’ in Ritter, G.A., Das Deutsche Kaisserreich 1871-1914: Ein Historisches Lesebuch (Goettingen: Vandenoeck & Ruprecht1981)131.. This excludes Zionism. Judge Sedley has also expressed and promoted a similar definition of anti-Semitism as a particular attitude towards Jews as Jews. The racial basis of anti-Semitism was also demonstrated by the Nazis in their persecution of the Jews. Talmudic Jews were persecuted and sent to the death camps because of their race, not their religion. The Karaites were allowed to go unmolested because they are held by some to be descended from gentile converts to Judaism, such as the Khazars.

Zionism cannot be equated with Judaism. Zionism is an ideology, not a religion. Nor can it be viewed as uniquely Jewish phenomenon. The first individuals to argue for the resettlement of Jews in Palestine were fundamentalist Christians. This has continued, to that the largest Zionist organisation in America today is Pastor Ted Hagee’s ‘Christians United for Israel’. And anti-Semites have also supported Zionism.  Witness the scheme of anti-Semites around the time of the Second World War to depart Jews to Madagascar, for example. See ‘Madagascar’ in Taylor and Shaw, ibid, 225. Or the brief agreement Adolf Hitler signed with the Zionists, the Ha’avara Agreement, to support German Jewish emigration to the nascent Jewish colonies.

I have also taken care not to smear all Zionists. You will note that I refer to ‘ultra-Zionist fanatics’. While I condemn utterly and absolutely the Israeli state’s persecution of the Palestinians, I have every respect for those Israelis, who are working for a genuine and just peace between Israel and the Palestinians. My objections are not to the Israeli people, but to their right-wing politicians and military. I respect left-wing Zionists, such as those Israelis who received vile personal abuse for praying the kaddish over dying Palestinian civilians, who had been shot by the IDF.

I also consider Tony Greenstein and the other victims of the witch hunt to be decent people, and do not find anything anti-Semitic in my declaration of support for them or the views and actions of these people themselves. I have seen absolutely nothing to suggest Mr Greenstein has ever been a self-hating anti-Semite. He has rightly shown great pride in the way the anti-Fascists from his home town of Brighton and Hove gave Oswald Mosley and the BUF a damn good hiding when they tried to recruit there. He has also written with pride about the group of former Jewish servicemen, including the hairdresser, Vidal Sassoon, who took the fight against the Fascists to the streets after the War when groups like Mosley’s BUF and the Britons, and others sought to come back. I have also made it very clear that I particularly condemn the victimisation of Jews in this current witch hunt, Many of these, have personally experienced anti-Semitic abuse and assault. I am very much aware that very many Jewish Brits have lost relatives in the Holocaust. Indeed, I personally know Jewish people who have. Which is why I regard the way Jews have been singled out for what I consider to be baseless smears to be especially vile and abhorrent.

And there is abundant and undeniable evidence that Israel is a racist state. It practices apartheid between Jews and Arabs. Intermarriage between the two is discouraged, there are separate roads for Jews and Palestinians, Palestinian farmers and businesses suffer strangling regulations which do not apply to Israelis and their homes, which have been there for millennia, have been and are being demolished to make way for Jewish settlements. This is established fact. Am I to assume that my accusers have decided that I must be anti-Semitic on the grounds that I am repeating facts about a state’s treatment of its indigenous population? In which case, my accusers have shown themselves hostile to objective truth.

Now there is the question of the various statements I cite in the essay that express anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist attitudes. But these come from the historical figures, who uttered them. Are you saying, for example, that the Nazi ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg, did not write in his notorious Myth of the 20th Century that Jewish emigration to Palestine must be encourage?

Are you telling me that Francis Nicosia made up his statement that the Nazis wished to encourage Jewish emigration to Palestine? I understand Mr Nicosia is an entirely respectable, mainstream historian. Please let me know if you do believe that he has falsely represented Nazi policy in this regard, and that you therefore regard him as a possible anti-Semite, so I may inform him and his lawyers.

As you should be aware from reading my blog post and Tony’s article, each quote and extract from a historical text is properly supported with the source from which it is taken clearly cited You therefore seem to be upset that I am discussing aspects of Zionist history that you would clearly prefer kept quiet. But in a properly democratic society and organisation, issues such as this should be open to discussion, even if they are uncomfortable for those who hold them. My accusers seem to wish to sanitise the history of the Zionist movement. Perhaps I should contact the Historical Association and inform them that the Labour party is now engaged in historical censorship and that if they come to power, orthodox, respectable mainstream historians will be accused of anti-Semitism simply for mentioning these uncomfortable truths about Zionism?

The Quotations

You have presented me with a list of quotes, but, as with the article itself, if you have not provided me with any arguments informing me what, if anything, is offensive or anti-Semitic about them. And many of them, if correctly read, are clearly the reverse.

“Zionism was until recent decades very much a minority position among European Jews.”  
This is as I understand it, based on my reading of Jewish history and Jewish socialists. I understand that the Bund, the main Jewish party in pre-War Poland, explicitly rejected Zionism and its members sought to be seen as fellow Poles of the Jewish faith. As did Jewish Brits, Frenchmen, Germans and so on.  See Ilan Pappe’s Ten Myths About Israel, pp. 249, for example, as well as the other historians and historical figures I quote in my article. .The description of Zionism as a minority position is therefore neither a distortion of history nor anti-Semitic. There is nothing anti-Semitic in rejecting Zionism when one also supports the Jewish people’s struggle for dignity and equality at home, in contrast to the attitude of the Nazis, for example. Far from it. It shows that one values Jews as vital fellow citizens.

“it is an internalisation of gentile anti-Semitism, with which it has collaborated, including in the mass murder of Jews, such as in the Holocaust, by real anti-Semites.”  
I consider this statement also to be fair and justified. Anti-Semitism has at its heart the belief that Jews and gentiles are racially distinct and incompatible. This was the attitude of the founders of Zionism, such as Theodor Herzl and Ben Gurion. It was also the attitude of that most notorious of 19th century anti-Semites, Wagner. Wagner had Jewish friends, but hated them as a people and wanted them deported to Palestine. See the book The German Dictatorship by Karl-Dietrich Bracher. And the Zionists did collaborate with the Nazis. The Judischer Rundschau, the main German Jewish Zionist newspaper, praised the vile Nuremberg laws and urged Jewish Germans to wear the magen Dawids forced upon them with pride. The nadir came in the case of Rudolf Kasztner, who willingly collaborated with the Nazis in sending Hungarian Jews to the death camps just so that some could be sent to Israel instead. This is documented fact, not an anti-Semitic slur. Again, the accusation here seems to be another assault on historical truth.

“he had previously not come forward to add his support because he didn’t want people to think that he was a Jew-hater.”  

Again, this is historically true. Pappe explicitly mentions the case of a German aristocrat in his book. Again, documented fact which my accusers seek to deny.


“These quotes clearly show that the criticisms of Israel and the Zionist movement by people like Tony Greenstein and the others are historically justified,”  

Not an anti-Semitic statement – Israel is a state, like any other, and so deserves to be criticised like any other repressive or persecutory state. And I believe by criticisms of Zionism are also historically and politically justified, based on the scholarship Mr Greenstein has cited and which I have personally read. As I have said, Zionism is not Judaism. It is an ideology that has been shared by many gentiles, including anti-Semites, and rejected by many Jews. Any attempt to claim that Zionism = Judaism is a gross distortion of history, and religious and political identity.

“My own preferred view is that anti-Semitism is simply hatred of Jews as Jews, and that no state or ideology should be beyond debate and criticism. This includes Israel and Zionism.”  

There is no anti-Semitism in this statement. Quite the contrary – I have made it clear that no state or ideology should be beyond debate and criticism. The operative words are ‘state’ and ‘ideology’. I have not said ‘religion’ or ‘people’. I have made it clear that my criticisms and condemnation are against the state of Israel and its right-wing leaders and military. I am not against Jews, Judaism or the Israel people qua Jews, Judaism or the Israeli people. I have said that anti-Semitism, in the words of its founder, was about hatred of Jews as Jews, regardless of their religion or the ideologies they may hold. I realise that this is rejected by the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, but this states that criticism of Israel may be anti-Semitic, if Israel is singled out for criticism while other states aren’t. If you read my blog, you will be aware that I condemn all persecution and ethnic cleansing everywhere, including the Holocaust, the slave trade, the Turkish persecution of the Kurds, and the current Chinese genocide against the Uighurs. I comprehensively reject the claim that I am anti-Semite, based on this highly selective reading of this quote.

“I’ve come across the adage, ‘Two Jews, three opinions’.  

No anti-Semitism here, either, from what I can see. The saying is actually Jewish, not something that has been applied to Jews by gentiles. It is also the title of a book by Barbara Davis, published in 2019 by Resource Publications. Its ISBN number is 1532673329. This was about the Jewish Community School Network, founded in 1980, which was based on klal Yisrael, the unity of the Jewish people, and intended to unite Jews of different religious views. Hence the title. See the Amazon page here: Two Jews, Three Opinions: Amazon.co.uk: Davis, Barbara Sheklin: 9781532673320: Books

 I believe I encountered the saying in an essay written by two rabbis as part of a two-day symposium called by the American president to combat the rise of Fascism in Europe. Their argument was that Jews are an innately democratic people, who have always valued debate and discussion against enforced political and religious conformity. I make the point that it supports the idea that the Jewish community is not monolithic, but diverse and pluralist – admirable qualities that multiculturalism seeks to promote against anti-Semitism and Fascism. I have also used the quote to demonstrate the admirable pluralism of the contemporary British Jewish community, and the attempts by British Zionists to present British Jewry as some kind of monolithic community is the type of misrepresentation used by totalitarian regimes, such as the Nazis against their opponents.

Furthermore, Jews aren’t the only people, who religious disputatiousness became proverbial. During the Reformation in the Netherlands, it was said that if there were three Dutchmen, two would form their own sects and accuse the third of being a heretic. And yet the Netherlands has a noble tradition of religious tolerance. It was one of the few nations, for example, which didn’t expel the Jews, one of the more famous members of its community being the 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. I believe it to be this tradition of religious debate and pluralism that has made Dutch society, like British Judaism, a solid bedrock of democratic values.

“people, who hold entirely reasonable opinions critical of Israel are being vilified, harassed and purged as the very things they are not, racists and anti-Semites.”  

This is my opinion, based on the published writing of many of the victims of the witch-hunt and my personal relationships with some of them. I have seen nothing in the writings of Tony Greenstein, as I have said, that is, in my opinion, remotely anti-Semitic. Indeed, Mr Greenstein, like so many of the people I personally know, has suffered abuse and vilification for his Jewishness. I also know other Jews and gentiles, who have had the same experience, including real anti-Semitic assault. Or if gentile, they have been abused and vilified for supporting Jews and attacking anti-Semitism. This is my personal experience. I therefore reject the accusation, and regard it in itself as supporting anti-Semitism.

Now let’s go through some of the other accusations levelled against me.

  1. may reasonably be seen to involve antisemitic actions, stereotypes and sentiments;  

Baseless. As I’ve said, I am not an anti-Semite and will not publish genuinely anti-Semitic material. My argument is against the state of Israel and the ultra-Zionists that support it, not Jews or the Jewish religion. If the arguments are used do involve anti-Semitic actions, stereotypes and sentiments, it is most often when I have refuted them, as I have done so in posts against the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, for example. I have also noted the use of ‘anti-Semitic tropes’ as a way of denying political reality. The IDF has a practice of poisoning the wells of Palestinian villages with a noxious substance to make the water undrinkable. This is similar to the medieval anti-Semitic accusation that the Black Death was spread by the Jews poisoning the wells. But the medieval lie should not be used to stop the reportage of current IDF practice. One is fact, the other malign falsehood. What matters is fact and truth. Anti-Semitic Jewish stereotypes should not be invoked to suppress current reality.

  1. Engages in stereotypical allegations of Jewish control in the media, economy, government or other societal institutions;  

In the words of the Comic Book Guy in the Android’s Dungeon in the cartoon, The Simpsons, ‘Hah! You jest!’ This is the only way I can see this accusation, so far is it from reality. I have repeatedly condemned the classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish capitalists and control of the media, government and economy in my blog, as expressed in the Nazis’ vile lies about Jewish bankers, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the current Fascist fear that the Jews are importing non-Whites to replace the White population. I have very specific criticisms of the way parts of Britain’s Zionist milieu has sought to mobilise the media and exerted control of the political parties. This is based on my observation of the way the accusations of anti-Semitism were enthusiastically adopted by the wider British political and media establishment in order to discredit Mr Corbyn and his supporters. I have not suggested that Jews control the media, economy or government. I have said that the allegations mobilised by right-wing Zionists were taken up by the British state and press. This was not done through coercion or any form of covert Jewish control, and the quote makes that clear.

  1. Accuses the Jews as people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust;  

I have never said that the Jews or Israel have invented the Holocaust. Far from it, I have always bitterly opposed Holocaust denial. Nor have I accused the Jews or Israel of exaggerating the Holocaust, which is something else that Nazis have done and which I wholeheartedly reject. And I am at a loss to know how this accusation applies to me regarding the above article. The article does not state that the Holocaust was invented or exaggerated. This accusation is therefore inapplicable, and I can only regard as a grotesque smear.

Repeats stereotypical and negative physical descriptions/descriptions or character traits of Jewish people, such as references to wealth or avarice and equating Jews with capitalists or the ruling class;  

My piece was about historical anti-Semitism and its links to Zionism. No discussion of real anti-Semitism can be made without repeating the smears and allegations of anti-Semites themselves. As you should be able to discern for yourself, repeating and discussing the views of anti-Semites does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of them. And the article should, I hope, make it clear that I do not endorse the real anti-Semitic views of the individuals I cite, such as Alfred Rosenberg.

Now let’s turn to the questions you have for me personally. Many of these are innocuous and reasonable, but others are much more sinister. Certain of them remind me of forced confessions of guilt of the accused in the show trials of Stalin’s Russia and the ‘self-criticism’ of dissenters and non-conformists in Mao’s China. The objective seems to secure admissions of guilt, followed by due repentance and contrition following the pattern of inquisitions and ideological persecution down the centuries.

Here are my replies.

  1. Please see the evidence attached overleaf. The Party has reason to believe that this is your Word Press web blog account. Can you confirm this is the case?  

A. Yes, that’s true.

 2)      The Party further has reason to believe that you posted, shared or endorsed these statements yourself. Can you confirm this is the case? If not, each individual piece of evidence is numbered so please specify which of the pieces of evidence you are disputing posting, sharing or endorsing?  

A. This is also true.
 

3)      Taking each item in turn, please explain your reasons for posting, sharing or endorsing each numbered item of evidence included in this pack?  

4)      Chapter 2, Clause I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book provides:  

“No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. The NEC and NCC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party. The disclosure of confidential information relating to the Party or to any other member, unless the disclosure is duly authorised or made pursuant to a legal obligation, shall also be considered conduct prejudicial to the Party.”  


What is your response to the allegation that your conduct may be or have been in breach of this rule?

A. I deny that I have breached this rule. At no point do I support or endorse anything in the above article that may be considered bigoted or prejudicial against the above people and groups. As I have made clear, the post is a criticism of Zionism’s historic links to anti-Semitism. It is certainly not an endorsement of anti-Semitism. As for Zionism, I have made it clear that it is an ideology, and ideologies should be open for debate and criticism. 

5)      The Code of Conduct: Social Media Policy states that members should “treat all people with dignity and respect” and that “this applies offline and online.” Do you think your conduct has been consistent with this policy?  

A. The Labour party has a tradition of robust debate and criticism. I consider my post to be entirely within this. Furthermore, I consider the question hypocritical. At the time of writing, members of the party’s right-wing, including prominent supporters of Mr Starmer, have uttered vile comments and smears on social media. I refer particular to Neil Coyle’s tweet vilifying Jewish Voice for Labour as ‘communists’ who should be expelled. I also note that the accusations and expulsions of innocent, decent people smeared by the party as anti-Semites has resulted in them being deluged with the vilest criticism. Jackie Walker, for example, has received messages stating that she cannot be Jewish, because she is Black, and that she should be lynched, set on fire, killed and her body dumped in bin bags. It seems here that the party has a policy of making such contrived accusations, publicising them, but leaving it to others to do the actual dirty work of vilification and harassment.
 

6)      Looking back at the evidence supplied with this letter, do you regret posting, sharing or endorsing any of this content?  

  1. No, because I believe it to be truthful, warranted and necessary.

7)      Do you intend to post, share or endorse content of this nature again in the future?  

  1. So long as innocent people are being so smeared and vilified and Israel’s history is being falsified, then yes, I do.

8)      Are there any further matters you wish to raise in your defence?

  1. I find this attitude to be repulsively partisan, hypocritical and a diversion from the rising prejudice against Muslims, left-wing Jews and people of colour in the party.  I utterly condemn this mercenary use of the accusation of anti-Semitism. As they accuse me of anti-Semitism, real hatred against the Jews is rising in the Labour party, as well as other forms of racism. I note that many of the victims of this scummy witch hunt are decent Jews, like Mr. Greenstein. I note that the Jews and their gentile supporters, who have been accused, also have a proud record of standing up not just against Zionism, but also against other forms of racism. They have demonstrated and denounced apartheid South Africa abroad, and the NF, BNP and domestic Fascists over here. Muslim brothers and sisters in the Labour party are also subject to rising abuse and harassment. One third of our Islamic kin have said that they have experienced such prejudice and maltreatment in the party.

Keir Starmer has also taken no action against the Labour apparatchiks who have abused and bullied Black MPs and activists, like Diane Abbott. This is despite his opportune and cavalier embrace of Black Lives Matter. As a result, Labour is haemorrhaging Muslim and Black members, party workers and supporters. There is a wide belief that Labour cannot be trusted to tackle racism, and has nothing but contempt for its Muslim and Black members. As it has for its left-wing, Jewish members.

9)      Is there any evidence you wish to submit in your defence?  

  1. Please see the personal statement below.

Personal Information

I come from an Anglican Christian family that has always rejected Jew hatred. My grandmother, who was an active trade unionist and member of the Labour party, had a deep respect for the high degree of learning of the Jewish rabbis. One of my uncles, with whose family we used to go on holiday before his sad death in the 1980s, was Jewish, with the almost stereotypical surname of Hyman. I remember him and his wife, my aunt, with warm affection.

From an early age, I was very much aware of the horrors of the Holocaust. I particularly remember a strip in the boy’s war comic, Battle. This was about a group of squaddies fighting their way through Nazi lines until the reached a concentration camp. This strip showed a glimpse of the horrific conditions the inmates were kept in, as the last panel showed the troopers shocked and horrified by the sight of the emaciated inmates.

My father did his national service in Bielefeld in Germany. His best friend while in the army was Jewish, who remarked on Dad’s lack of any animus against Jews. My father is justly very proud of the respect and friendship he earned through his lack of prejudice, an attitude that he has passed on to me. During his time in Bielefeld, Dad visited the remains of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He photographed the memorial set up to its victims, the legend of which bilingual in English and Hebrew. When I was a child Dad showed me the photographs of the graves and the remains of the camp and told me how the Jews had been murdered there. This has obviously left a very strong impression on me.

I was a junior schoolboy in 1977 when Punk exploded on the British pop scene. Unfortunately, some idiots at the time took it upon themselves to wear swastikas and other Nazi regalia. This was also at a time when war films were popular at the cinema and on British television, along with war comics such as Battle, Warlord, Commando Picture Library and so on. I remember asking my mother about the Nazis and the Swastika. She told me that they were a group of very evil men, and that if she caught me wearing one, she’d spank my bottom. It’s the kind of comment I’ve no doubt was made by many decent parents up and down the country. In my mother’s case, she had a personal reason to detest the Nazis. One of her school friends had a Jewish surname, and during the War the girl and her family had been very much afraid of Nazi invasion and the child’s consequent murder.

I was educated at a Christian, Anglican comprehensive school, St. Mary Redcliffe, by Christian teachers, clergy and support staff. All of whom had a hatred of racism and sectarian bigotry. I can remember a number of sermons preached in assembly that particularly condemned the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland as well as anti-Black racism, referring to the colour bar in Rhodesia. The school taught the Holocaust long before it became part of the school syllabus. At the same time the school was active in trying to dispel prejudice against non-Christian religions. I particularly remember the RE teacher, a vicar’s wife, showing a gentleman from the city’s Jewish community up the stairs as he carried a number of the holy artifacts of his faith, such as the menorah.

I took my first degree at another Christian institution, the College of St. Paul and St. Mary, which I believe has now expanded and gained university status as the University of Gloucestershire. My major was in History, which included a course on the rise of Communist and Fascist Regimes in Europe. This has given me an extensive knowledge of the nature and history of these dictatorial, persecutory regimes and the scholarship behind it. It also gave me considerable insight into the political mobilisation of antisemitism, and the nature of political antisemitism as formulated by its founders and activists, like Wilhelm Marr, the founder of the Bund Antisemiten, the League of Anti-Semites, one of the odious precursors of the Nazi party. I therefore feel justified in some of the definitions of anti-Semitism, which you have chosen to interpret as evidence in themselves that I am a Jew-hater. This, in my opinion, is an ignorant and intellectually dishonest assault on historical fact.

My minor subject was in Religious Studies. One of the mandatory courses in my first year was on the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible. As with my secondary school, I was taught by Christian lecturers, who had a deep hatred of Fascism and Communist totalitarianism. I understand that the mother of one of my lecturers, a man who had a deep respect for China and its people, had died in a Maoist concentration camp. The theology lecturer also told us that he had such a deep repugnance to Friedrich Nietzsche, whose philosophy was pillaged by the Nazis to support their vile doctrines, that he was not going to teach it.

Our Old Testament lecturer was a renowned authority in his field who had a very warm affection for the Jewish people. The Holocaust was taught as part of the Judaism course, one of the elective courses in that part of the degree. This particular gentleman was powerfully moved by the sufferings of the Jewish people in this most terrible of anti-Jewish persecution, a feeling he passed on to his students. The lecturer I studied under for this part of the course shared his colleague’s profound respect for the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish people. One of the essays we were set was to explain the Psalmist’s delight in the Pentateuch. At the same time, he was keen for his students to experience modern varieties of Jewish faith and tradition. At the time I was taking the course, there was a pop musician on tour, whose pieces included the Kaddish as played on a synthesiser: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.” This particular musician was playing in Cheltenham. He described the piece as deeply moving, and urged us all to listen to it. I should also say here that I also took the College’s course on Islam, which was taught by an excellent Indian lecturer who believed in interfaith dialogue and harmonious coexistence. I have Muslim friends, and am particularly worried about the resurgence of islamophobia in British society, of which the accusations against me seem to be a part.

I have had many Jewish friends, and readers of my blog will know that I have repeatedly condemned and attacked real antisemitism. I do not publish articles or comments that are genuinely anti-Semitic, such as those that preach noxious, murderous lies such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the conspiracy theories about Jewish bankers. For an example of this, please see my comments about a video on YouTube by the Irish Nationalists of Eire, whose leader talks about international financial capitalism. This man states he wants Jewish financial involvement in the ‘Irish slave trade’ investigated, which more than suggests he is a supporter of such noxious conspiracy theories. I make it very clear that I condemn it and them.

I have also written for a number of fringe magazines, in which I have also done my best to attack the resurgence of Fascism in fringe western culture. One of these was the return of the Nazi saucer myth, the belief that the Nazis successfully constructed flying saucers.  See, for example, my article ’Gazumrah’s Sons: The Pyschopathology of the Nazi Saucer Myth’ in Magonia, 63, May 1998, 11 -14. Many perfectly decent people have been taken in by this, but among its supporters and propagandists are real Nazis such as Wilhelm Landig and Ernst Zundl. Much of this material is so ludicrous as to make you wonder how anyone could believe it. For example, the conspiracy theories about Jews running the world has been promoted by Hatonn, who purports to be a 9/12 foot tall reptilian alien from the Pleiades, as channelled back in the ‘90s by an elderly American lady. This is noxious and bonkers, but the channeler was not without influence on the American right. Colonel Bo Gritz, one of the leaders of the Militia movement, was among those visiting her to listen to her messages. See the relevant chapter in Adam Parfrey’s Cult Rapture for further information. For my condemnation of this and other forms of Nazism, racism and anti-Semitism, I refer you to issues of the sceptical UFO magazine, Magonia.

Since graduating, I have sought to expand my own knowledge of Jewish faith and the history of Bristol’s Jewish community. I have tried to each myself Biblical Hebrew, for example. I also discuss the archaeology of Bristol’s medieval Jewish community in my 2004 book, Anglo-Saxon and Norman Bristol. I discuss the construction of the houses in Norman Bristol’s Jewish quarter, and the remains of a miqveh, a Jewish ritual bath, which was discovered on Hotwells Road. I am pleased that my city also has a very fine synagogue on Park Row and that one of the neighbouring hotels is named after King David, which surely suggests ties between Bristol’s Jewish community and Israel.

I have also voiced my opposition to the Tories’ persecution of the poor and unemployed by comparing them to other victims of the Nazis. During the Third Reich, the habitual unemployed, amongst others, were denounced as ‘asocial’ and sent to the camps. They were forced to wear a badge, just as our Jewish brothers and sisters were made to wear theirs, on their prison uniform. In the case of the unemployed and arbeitschau, the badge was a black triangle containing a white ‘A’, for ‘asoziale’. I am also greatly concerned with the persecution of religious minorities in Putin’s Russia. Pentecostal Christians were particularly persecuted during the Soviet dictatorship, and now the Arkhiplut has raised similar accusations and persecution against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Dissenting Christians, such as the followers of Pastor Bonhoeffer and particularly the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists were also martyred in the camps for their refusal to conform to the Reich’s anti-Semitism and disloyalty in rejecting Hitler as a secular messiah. I have no right to wear the Magen Dawid, as I’m not Jewish an don’t wish to be seen to be ‘Jewsplaining’ or cynically exploiting the Shoah.. But I am religious and I have been unemployed, so to show my solidarity with the victims of those persecutions, I made cardboard copies of the badges they were forced to wear in the Nazi camps and posted up a video about is on YouTube. This is at This was my attack on totalitarianism and the persecution that has directly affected people like me. See my video at Protesting Against Benefits Sanctions with Nazi Unemployment Badge – YouTube

I do not expect you to know about my life history or be aware of fringe publications like Magonia. This is why it is dangerous to the accused and the party to make such accusations of anti-Semitism based on a highly selective, prejudicial reading of a single article. I have been also been accused of bringing the Labour party into disrepute. I have not done so. I am simply airing my opinions on what I consider to be a particularly odious campaign of smear and lies against innocent people according to the party’s century old tradition of internal democracy and robust debate. I contend instead that it is my anonymous accusers, who have brought the party into disrepute by their false accusations against fine, anti-racist Jewish and gentile women and men. This is amply shown by the Labour party haemorrhaging members, trembling on the verge of bankruptcy, the failures and bare victories in the local and by-elections and the plummeting popularity of the party’s leader, Keir Starmer.

Blog Posts Attacking Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories

As I have said, I have also published several pieces on my blog attacking real anti-Semitism and noxious anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. These are at the heart of modern Fascism and Nazism, and constitute a real, existential threat to Jews. Here is a selection of such posts.

History Debunked Tears to Shreds the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Simon Webb, the man behind the YouTube channel History Debunked seems to me to be a man of the right. The channel’s devoted to refuting fake history, but much of the myths it debunks are false claims made in the name of anti-racism by Black activists. He also believes that there are racial differences in intelligence, with Blacks on average less intelligent than Whites, and Whites also on average less bright than Asians. In other words, the Bell Curve stuff that has been loudly denounced and refuted over the past decade or so. That said, his videos are always based on solid fact and well argued, and I don’t believe that he is personally racist. Indeed, he has put up a video about home schooling, in which he states very clearly that not only has he done it himself, but he is also helping and giving advice to a group of Black British parents, who wish to do it.

In this video History Debunked takes on the infamous Tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Webb states that he’s doing this after some of his previous videos were taken down by YouTube, or he was warned that they may be taken down because of their controversial content. But this video is not only historically right, no-one should be able to accuse him of racism or hate speech because of it. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a notorious anti-Semitic forgery, which is at the heart of the various stupid conspiracy theories about the Jews secretly trying to take over the world through controlling the media, banks, business and so on. It was concocted in the very early 20th century by the Russian monk, Nilus, for the Tsar’s secret police, the Okhrana, in order to make Nicholas II persecute the Jews even more harshly. As Nicholas II believed in the Blood Libel, the myth that Jews murder Christians to use their blood in the matzo bread at Passover, it’s hard to see how Nicholas could be even more anti-Semitic. Especially as his attempts to prosecute one Jewish man, Beilis, for this, was worrying his ministers who viewed it as a serious embarrassment to the autocracy.

In the video, Webb shows how the Protocols was based on an earlier book, a Dialogue between Machiavelli and Montesquieu in Hell. This was an attack on the government of Napoleon III of France, who French liberals feared was trying to take over and control everything, including the press and business. He illustrates this through pointing to some of the metaphors that Nilus took from the earlier book. The Dialogue describes Napoleon as having a hundred arms, like the Hindu god Vishnu, each arm extended into some part of society. And here it appears again in the Protocols, which describes the Jewish conspiracy as like the Hindu deity with hundreds of arms extending through society.

Apart from the Dialogue, Nilus also plagiarised Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland Herzl was the founder of modern Zionism, and the Altneuland was his attempt to depict and popularise a Jewish state. In my view, Zionism has caused immense suffering and conflict in the Middle East, and led to the persecution and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians. I’d say they were entirely justified in despising Herzl’s book. But it isn’t about a global conspiracy or a programme for the mass enslavement of non-Jews, as the Protocols purports to be.

Webb jokes that if there is a Jewish conspiracy as the Protocols claims, then it can’t be much of one if they’ve had to take their ideas from a satire published decades earlier about Napoleon III, and Herzl’s Altneuland. He also states that the other daft conspiracy theories about Jews are ultimately based on the Protocols. One of these is the Kalergi Plan. From what little I know of it, the Kalergi Plan is supposed to be a secret plot by a cabal of European leaders to import non-Whites into the continent and the west in order to destroy the White race. Yep, it’s another permutation of that heap of bilge.

Here’s History Debunked thoroughly refuting the Protocols.

An old French political satire which has, indirectly, had an immense effect upon the world – YouTube

The Protocols are notorious as a forgery, but have been massively influential in spreading real Fascism and Jew-hatred. They inspired many of the Fascist movements that arose after the First World War. At least one of the British papers serialised them, until they saw sense and realized that they were a forgery. Then they published criticisms and refutations. However, even when readers of the wretched book have had it shown to them that they’re a forgery, such is their power that some of them continue to believe that they’re ‘symbolically true’.

The Protocols have been responsible for some of the most horrific anti-Semitic persecution and violence. And unfortunately they’re still being published. Apparently you can’t pick up copies on street corner kiosks in Putin’s Russia, and they were turned into a major television series on Egyptian TV. Way back in the 1990s a branch of Waterstone’s in this country stocked them because they were cited by various UFO conspiracy theorists that Reptoid aliens really were running the world or some such nonsense. One of these books claimed that the ‘Jews’ referred to in the Protocols were really the Illuminati of much contemporary American conspiracy theorising. No, the authors of the Protocols meant to attack the Jews, and whether someone chooses to believe that it’s really about the Illuminati or not, the Protocols are still vile, dangerous, murderous rubbish.

There’s a large body of literature debunking the Protocols. One of the classics is Norman Cohn’s Warrant for Genocide. And this video is also an excellent short but acute refutation of them.

History Debunked Tears to Shreds the Protocols of the Elders of Zion | Beastrabban\’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Conspiracy Book’s Debunking of Anti-Semitic Forgery ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’

A week or so ago I put up a post about The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups by Jon E. Lewis, and its chapter roundly debunking Holocaust denial. The book is a popular volume on conspiracy theories, describing and frequently debunking 100 such conspiratorial beliefs about the death of Princess Diana, the Men In Black, the assassination of J.F.K., and Martin Luther King, Area 51, Ronald Reagan, the Priory of Zion of Holy Blood, Holy Grail infamy and many more, including Holocaust denial.

Another infamous anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, that also gets thoroughly disproven, is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which the book gives in its full title, the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, and deals with on pages 433 to 450. The Protocols are a notorious forgery, concocted by the tsar’s secret police, the Okhrana, to encourage Nicholas II to be even more anti-Semitic and persecute the Jews even worse than he already was. It is one of the leading sources of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and was read and influenced many Fascists. It was proven to be a forgery as long ago as the 1920, but even after this was revealed, some of those, who had read it continued to be maintain that it was symbolically true, even if it wasn’t factually. Unfortunately, the book continues to have a very wide circulation, particularly in the Middle East and in eastern Europe.

The history of this vile book is briefly described on pages 433-5. The chapter states that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was first published in 1897 as an appendix to the book, The Antichrist Is Near At Hand by the Russian writer, Sergei Nilus. It claims to be an instruction manual for a cabal of anonymous Jews planning to conquer and subdue the Christian world.

It states that the chief points of the Protocols are that the plot will remain invisible until it is so strong it cannot be overcome; government is to be increasingly centralized; press freedoms shall be restricted; gentile are to be distracted by games and amusements; and all non-Jewish religions will be swept away.

The book was immensely popular in Russia and the rest of the world. One enthusiast was the industrialist Henry Ford, of motor industry fame, who printed sections in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. He believed it exactly described the world situation as it was in his time, and used them to try to influence the US senate to stop America joining the League of Nations.

The first person to show that the Protocols were a forgery was Lucien Wolf. In his The Jewish Bogey and the Forged Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion of 1920 showed that sections of the Protocols had been lifted with only very minor changes from a satire written by a French lawyer, Maurice Joly, Dialogue aux Enfers entre Montesquieu et Machiavelli (“Dialogue in Hell between Montesquieu and Machiavelli”). This was itself influenced by Eugene Sue’s 1843 conspiracy novel, The Mysteries of Paris. The Protocols was also based on the 1868 novel, Biarritz, by the German spy Hermann Goedsche, written under the pseudonym Sir John Retcliffe. This had a chapter describing how a fictitious group of rabbis met at midnight every century in a cemetery to plan the further progress of Jewish world domination.

Lewis suggests the Protocols were probably forged by Matvei Golovinski, one of the agents of the Okhrana. He hoped to justify the tsarist regime’s persecution of the Jews by whipping up a scare about revolutionaries in the pay of the Jews planning the downfall of the monarchy. As a result, pogroms were launched against the Jews in 1905-6. And the truth of the conspiracy described by the Protocols was seen by all too many people as confirmed by the Russian Revolution of 1917, some of whose leaders happened to be Jews.

After the Nazi seizure of power in Germany, Adolf Hitler made the Protocols compulsory reading in schools. Lewis goes to describe how, despite or because of their influence in causing the Holocaust, the Protocols continue to be held as ‘fact’. Egyptian television broadcast a series in 2000 that claimed there was a connection between the Protocols and the foundation of Israel. The Protocols could also been found in al-Qaeda training camps. They’re also popular with Hamas, and in America they’re distributed by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. That section of the chapter ends

In fact, wherever anti-Semites gather you’ll find well-thumbed copies of the Protocols. That any of these organisations or their adherents could not discover within at most thirty seconds’ worth of research that the Protocols are, as a Swiss court described them as long ago as 1935, “ridiculous nonsense”, forgeries and plagiarism, beggars belief.

The book gives each conspiracy a threat level, according to how apparently plausible they are. You won’t be surprised to find that the threat level of the Protocols is zero.

The chapter also lists for further reading the following:

Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, 1996.

Daniel Pipes, The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy, 1998.

Lucien Wolf, The Jewish Bogey and the Forged Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, 1920.

The book provides extracts from the main documents behind or about the various conspiracies, so that readers can make up their own minds. This includes the Protocols, extracts from which are reproduced on pages 436-50. Lewis obviously trusts his readers to follow his entirely correct judgement of the Protocols, and similarly realise that they are a forgery. This is also useful, because opponents of anti-Semitism, racism and Fascism can read them without having to give money to Nazis, anti-Semites and Islamists.

I wondered if they’re shouldn’t be a proper, scholarly edition of the Protocols, written by orthodox historians and opponents of anti-Semitism, aimed not just at debunking the Protocols, but also for decent people interested in its noxious influence on Nazism and other anti-Semitic ideologies. The Bavarian government did something like this a little while ago to Mein Kampf after it came out of copyright. The government had used its ownership of the book’s copyright to prevent its publication in Germany. When this expired, they decided that the best way to combat its adoption once again by neo-Nazis would be to prepare a properly annotated version by mainstream historian of the Third Reich.

The problem with suppressed literature is that it acquires a glamour simply by being forbidden. I doubt very many people in Britain have even heard of the Protocols, but they are published and read by Nazis, and briefly appeared on the shelves of one bookshop in the north of England during the conspiracy craze of the 1990s because they were cited by one of the UFO conspiracy theorists, Bill English, in his book, Behold a Pale Horse. In this situation, it is very good that apart from general books on Fascism and Nazism, there are works specifically dedicated to exposing and debunking this vile, murderous hoax.

Conspiracy Book’s Debunking of Anti-Semitic Forgery ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ | Beastrabban\’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Hope Not Hate: Fascist and Holocaust Denial Literature on Sale at Mainstream Bookshops

I got this disturbing email today from the good peeps at the anti-racism/anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate, reporting that some very nasty and notorious pieces of Fascist, anti-Semitic and Holocaust Denial material are being sold by this country’s big booksellers. They’d like this scandalous situation to be brought to more people’s attention on Facebook and Twitter. The email went

David,

I’m not sure you’re going to believe this… these antisemitic, Holocaust-denying, and fascist books are listed right now for sale online at Waterstones, Foyles, WHSmith, and Amazon.co.uk:

Do you think huge, reputable booksellers should profit from hate content — not to mention lend credibility to hardcore racist views? We don’t.

Last week, we contacted these retailers to bring it to their attention. Only Foyles and Waterstones even responded and neither made any commitment to pulling down these extreme materials. So we’re going to take action.

If you agree that major booksellers should stop making hate readily available, let them know. Join us in kicking up a storm on social media now:

These booksellers are acting dangerously. Despite our queries, Waterstones and Amazon’s sites continue to list The Turner Diaries, a book explicitly credited with inspiring the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people.

It looks like our pressure is already working – over the weekend, a number of these titles, including famous Holocaust denial book Did Six Million Really Die?, disappeared from Foyles’ website. If we can make some noise, they’ll listen, and ultimately, act.

Let’s make it clear these booksellers can’t ride this out. Join together to create public outcry at this very urgent concern.

If the images are too small for you to see clearly, they include pictures of the covers of David Irving’s The War Path, with a picture of Adolf on the front, the notorious Tsarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, two notorious pieces of Holocaust Denial, Did Six Million Really Die? and Curated Lies – The Auschwitz Museum’s Misrepresentations, as well as the Turner Diaries and Oswald Mosley’s Fascism for the Million.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a very notorious piece of the type of bogus conspiracy theories I was talking about yesterday. They were forged by the Tsarist secret police to encourage the already anti-Semitic Nicholas II to persecuted the Jews even harder. It purports to be the minutes of secret meeting of global Jewish leaders discussing their plans to rule the world and enslave gentiles. It successfully deceived many people in the 1920s, before it was very clearly shown to be a fake, with articles demonstrating that this was so in the Times and other parts of the press. Even so, some of the people, who were convinced by it still continued to protest that if it wasn’t factually true, then it was still somehow symbolically true. It’s been a significant influence promoting anti-Semitism and Fascism.

This isn’t the first time there’s been an outcry at it being on sale in a mainstream bookshop. It was quoted at length by Bill English, an American conspiracy theorist, who believed the Illuminati were running things secretly behind the scenes, and aliens were really coming down to abduct and experiment on us. English claimed, however, that where the passages he included referred to the Jews, they were really referring to the Illuminati. This led to a branch of Waterstones in one of the northern cities stocking it. It was also quoted by David Icke in his book, The Robots’ Rebellion. This is why there have been protests and accusations that Icke is an anti-Semite, although Jon Ronson in his Secret Rulers of the World, where he covered one such demonstration in Canada, said that he believes Icke isn’t anti-Semitic, but really does believe the world is being run by evil reptoid aliens.

David Irving is the notorious Holocaust Denier, who ended up losing a libel case against an American academic, who showed up page by page how his book on Hitler and the Holocaust misquoted and distorted the works it cited and falsified history. The last I heard of him, he was serving a jail sentence in Austria, one of the countries where Holocaust Denial is a crime.

The Turner Diaries is a bizarre piece of SF that also became notorious in the 1990s, after it was revealed that it influenced Timothy McVeigh, the America militiaman, who blew up the Federal building in Oklahoma City. It’s written as a series of diary entries by a White race warrior, who is part of violent uprising against ZOG – that’s the Zionist Occupation Government, not Ahmed Zogu, the former king of Albania. The hero and his fellow Nazis are also determined to stop the ‘Zionists” planned destruction of the White race through racial intermixture. There’s an infamous passage in there, where he talks about hanging a whole load of college girls for this ‘crime’, as well as making sure that America becomes a pure White homeland, and Blacks and other non-Whites are either cleansed or put firmly in their place.

Mosley was, of course, the leader of the British Union of Fascists during the Second World War, who then tried briefly to come back into politics as the leader of the Union Movement in the 50s and early 60s. Despite his best efforts, we’re very lucky that his Fascism very definitely did not appeal to millions.

I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, but I’m very happy to publicise this noxious state of affairs.

None of these books should be sold by any reputable booksellers. They are evil and very dangerous, and should be taken off their on-line shelves now.

Hope Not Hate: Fascist and Holocaust Denial Literature on Sale at Mainstream Bookshops | Beastrabban\’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Isaac Levinsohn, Refuter of the Blood Libel

Levinsohn was a 19th century eastern European rabbi, whose book, whose title translates into English as ‘No Blood’ refuted the Blood Libel.

I found this entry on him while flicking through The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, edited by John Bowker, (Oxford: OUP 1997). This states

Levinsohn, Isaac Baer, or Ribal (1788-1860).
Hebrew author. Levinsohn’s literary output was mainly polemical. He was one of the founders of the Haskalah movement in Russia, and he was concerned with the position of the Jews in eastern Europe. His best-known work, 
Te’udah be-Yisrael, (Testimony in Israel, 1828), described the Hebrew language as ‘the bond of religion and national survival’, and he argued against the use of Yiddish. His book considerable influence on Jewish life in Russia, although it was banned by the Hasidim. He also wrote Beit Yehudah (House of Judah, 1838) which was an attempt to answer Christian questions about Judaism, and Efes Damim (No Blood, 1838) which was written to refute the blood libel. (p. 575).

I really don’t know anything about him apart from this article. However, I thought people here might want to know about him because of the way the Blood Libel – the medieval myth that Jews used the blood of Christian children in the matzo bread at Passover – has been a central part of much anti-Semitism. It’s included in the grotesque tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which has been instrumental in promoting anti-Semitism and Nazism ever since it was cooked up by the tsar’s secret police, the Okhrana, to encourage him to persecute the Jews even more.

There has been a resurgence of Fascism and Nazism across the western world. In America we’ve seen the rise of the Alt-Right and various other White supremacists around Donald Trump, while in eastern Europe there are a number of anti-Semitic and vehemently islamaphobic parties, like Fidesz in Hungary. There has been particular concern this week over Poland, because the present government has just passed a law making it a criminal offence to attribute guilt to Poles for the crimes of the Nazis. And in Germany the very anti-Semitic and islamaphobic Alternative Fuer Deutschland has entered the Bundestag for the first time. This party contains some real Nazis, including one character, who denounced the Holocaust Memorial in Germany as ‘a badge of shame’, and declared he wanted to set up an underground railway to Auschwitz. These are horrifying, vile people, who need to be fought.

Thus, while I don’t really know anything about Isaac Levinsohn, I thought it might be useful to know about him, because he wrote one of the most important refutations of the Blood Libel myth. Just in case there’s anyone out there trying to promote that stupid and murderous lie.

Isaac Levinsohn, Refuter of the Blood Libel | Beastrabban\’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

George Soros and Genuine Neo-Nazi Conspiracy Theories

Left-wing and anti-racism bloggers, commenters and campaigners have pointed out again and again how right-wing conspiracy theories about the supposedly nefarious activities of the financier George Soros, such as those promoted by the far-right Fidesz government in Hungary, conform to the poisonous Nazi conspiracy theories about evil Jewish bankers. Mainstream Conservatives have also blamed Soros’s influence for opposition to their policies in Britain. For example, Jacob Rees-Mogg, apart from accusing John Bercow and another Jewish politico of being ‘Illuminati’ – which has its own anti-Semitic overtones – also claimed that George Soros was financing the Remain campaign.

But the conspiracy theories about George Soros don’t just resemble Nazi mythology. They are a part of it, at least in some of the material that arose from the neo-Nazi fringe in the 1990s. In his book on contemporary Nazi paganism, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity (New York: New York University Press 2002) Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke discusses the work of Jan van Helsing, real name Jan Udo Holey, and his 1993 Geheimgesellschaften und ihre macht im 20. Jahrhundert (Secret Societies and their Power in the 20th Century). Two years later, in 1995, Helsing published Geheimgesellschaften 2. This consisted of his extended responses to interview questions. As you can imagine, despite Helsing’s avowed denials, it is a deeply anti-Semitic book. Goodrick-Clarke writes

Here he denies the charge of anti-Semitism, claiming Jewish friends and colleagues, before making the disingenuous distinction between Semitic Hebrews and Ashkenazi Jews or Khazars, who are his real antagonists in the persons of Rothschilds, Warburgs, the English royal family (!), Marx, Lenin, Stalin, etc. This ploy recapitulates the progressive disqualification of Jews from their Israelite heritage in Christian Identity doctrine. He then reprints several pages of Dr. Johannes Pohl’s vicious translation of the Talmud that was published by the Nazi Party in 1943 as anti-Semitic propaganda. On the Protocols, Helsing simply denies that their authenticity is an important issue: they exist and they are being applied. To complete his anti-Jewish rotomontade, he reveals that former Chancellor Helmut Kohl was born Henoch Koch and shows how George Soros is ruining East European economies through his liberal economic writ. Helsing’s dubious sources, his constant repetition of Jewish names as members of private and public organisations, and above all his emphasis on the assets and powerbroking influence of the Rothschilds as the top Illuminati family leave no doubt that his conspiracy theories are aimed at Jewish targets. (P. 296, my emphasis).

In case any of this sounds remotely credible, it’s worth noting that the royal family aren’t Jewish and neither were Lenin or Stalin. Stalin definitely not – he was a bitter anti-Semite. Helmut Kohl, the former German chancellor, wasn’t Jewish either. Van Helsing also believed that there’s a secret Nazi underground base in Antarctica, as well as colonies of other Reich Germans in the Canaries, the San Carlos area of Argentina, the Bermuda Triangle and the Himalayas. They also have a standing army of 6 million soldiers, including immigrants from Aldebaran. Yes, van Helsing believes the Nazi saucer mythology, in which Adolf and his band of thugs were helped by aliens from the star Aldebaran, who told them how to build flying saucers. Of which the Reich Nazis have an armada of 22,000.

When Jacob Rees-Mogg or the other Tories rant about George Soros, they are repeating an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory and should be criticised for it. But Conservative anti-Semitism has received nowhere near the amount of attention as the anti-Semitic smears against Corbyn and the Labour party. This is despite anti-Semitism being far lower in Labour. John Mann, the Tories’ anti-Semitism tsar, has shown himself completely uninterested in investigating it in the Tories, and blocked and called the children’s poet, Holocaust educator and broadcaster Michael Rosen a troll when he tried to draws Mann’s attention to some examples.

This shows how fake the Tories’ concern about anti-Semitism really is, just as the inclusion of George Soros in van Helsing’s wretched, vile anti-Semitic conspiracy theories show the real Fascism in similar fears about the financier in Tories like Rees-Mogg.

George Soros and Genuine Neo-Nazi Conspiracy Theories | Beastrabban\’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

These are a selection of some of the posts about this subject I have published on my blog. I could list many more, but I hope these will be sufficient to show that I am definitely no anti-Semite, and that the charges against me have no validity.

Anti-Semitism Accusations: My Email to Private Eye

August 21, 2021

I have also written an email to Private Eye informing them that I have been unfairly accused of anti-Semitism, and offering to give them more information on this sorry affair and the process by which innocent people are smeared and purged from the Labour party. This, I say, will correct their previous biased reporting in favour of the witch hunters. The email runs

“Dear Sir,

I am a long term reader of your magazine, which have greatly enjoyed. I have followed with interest your coverage of the mass accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party and the purges of those accused. I regret to say that I have found this coverage to be almost wholly one-sided. You have given little opportunity for the victims of what can only be described as a witch-hunt to speak for themselves. Worse, you seem to have blindly followed the media groupthink and automatically assumed that the Labour party did have a severe anti-Semitism problem, that Jeremy Corbyn was an anti-Semite, and that those accused were indeed guilty.

This left me somewhat perplexed, as your magazine has a strong tradition of criticising Israel and standing up for those, who have been falsely accused. I am offering you the opportunity to correct this bias.

Yesterday I received a message from the Labour Party Complaints Team informing me that I was being investigated for anti-Semitism, based on an article I had published on my blog as far back as 5th December 2020. In this I agreed with another blogger, Tony Greenstein, a proud Jewish critic of Zionism, that Zionism was an internalised Jewish version of anti-Semitism and that Israel is indeed a racist, colonialist state. The argument is supported by solid historical scholarship, quoting reputable historians and the major figures in Zionist history themselves.

I am not an anti-Semite, a form of racism that I find particularly abhorrent and have published very many pieces on my blog attacking it and other forms of racism, as well as its political expressions, Fascism and Nazism.

I am offering you the chance to hear about this witch hunt and the perversion of justice used by the NEC and the anonymous accusers from one of its victims. If you wish to hear about all this from the horse’s mouth, as it were, you may contact me at the above email address or by telephone at [redacted]

Yours with very best wishes,

David Sivier, BA (Hons) History; MA History, PhD Archaeology.”

I doubt this will do any good. When Hislop has published letters from the victims of the witch hunt, it is immediately followed by an editor’s comment stating that Labour must have an anti-Semitism problem based on the comments of Jon Lansman. Lansman is one of the founders of Momentum, who is still claiming that Labour is riddled with Jew-hatred despite the evidence to the contrary. But still, I am determined to fight this and publicise it as much as possible in order to embarrass the party apparatchiks behind it.

And I’ll let you know if I get a response from Private Eye.

Vandals! Israel Destroys Ancient Canaanite Cemetery for Settler-Only Road

July 19, 2021

Mike’s also written an excellent article about Starmer’s planned purge of the Labour left while remaining absolutely complacent and ineffective against the Tories. He also makes the point that the purge is being directed against socialists and genuine supporters of traditional Labour values and policies. This includes decent, principled men and women who are opposed to Israel’s brutalisation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Many of them, who have been terribly demonised and vilified, are self-respecting, upstanding Jews, like Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein. Mike’s put up a series of tweets by peeps criticising Starmer for this renewed persecution, as well as some of the atrocities Israel is pushing through without a murmur from him. This includes the destruction of an ancient Canaanite cemetery as reported by the independent Lebanese journalist Sarah abdallah, who tweeted

Israel just destroyed the oldest known Canaanite cemetery in Palestine, a 4,200-year old site, to build an Israeli-settlers-only road. This is a war crime. The occupation regime is literally erasing Palestine’s history as the world looks on in silence.

This is absolutely true. Tony’s put up a series of pieces on his blog pointing out that there is an absolute ban on teaching or using books about Palestinian history and culture in Israeli schools. Furthermore, some archaeologists have criticised Israel for its imposition of nationalist Israeli interpretations on Israeli archaeology. For example, the periods into which the ancient history of Israel are divided are given names based on the country’s history as described in the Bible, such as that of King Solomon. The remains of ancient towns mentioned in the Bible, which have been excavated by Israeli archaeologists, generally lay underneath Palestinian settlements. The result has been that the information archaeologists have gained about ancient Israel has come at the expense of the destruction of Palestinian communities. I’m an historians and archaeologist, and while I support Biblical archaeology as far as it can reasonably be defended, I am definitely opposed at the destruction of the Palestinian people’s own archaeological heritage, which includes the country’s Canaanite remains. The destruction of the Canaanite cemetery is indeed a war crime. I think it may also count as an act of genocide under international law. If I remember correctly, this includes not just the massacre and physical extermination of a people, but also the forcible destruction of their ethnic identity. And I’d say that the destruction of Palestinian monuments and archaeology constitutes just such an atrocity, as well as a barbaric destruction of the past in itself.

But I’m not surprised Starmer hasn’t said anything against it. By his own admission, he’s an avowed Zionist and the Blairites showed the contempt they had for historical truth when they claimed that Ken Livingstone was an anti-Semite when he said that Hitler initially supported Zionism. Nothing in that statement is an anti-Semitic, as it’s factually correct. This was the Ha’avara Agreement made between Nazi Germany and the Zionists in which German Jews were to be smuggled into Palestine, then under the British mandate. It didn’t last long, unsurprisingly, but it certainly existed and is described on the website of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Israel itself. But it contradicts the approved Zionist view of Jewish history, and so those that mention it, like Livingstone, and their defenders, like Mike over at Vox Political, are smeared and libelled as anti-Semites.

History is valuable and needs to be protected from assault and falsification, regardless of who’s doing it. And Starmer is showing himself to be completely incapable of defending objective truth and fair, reasonable comment against politically motivated lies.

Two Fairy Sightings from 20th Century Britain

June 7, 2021

My last blog post was about a video I found on YouTube from Irish television in 1966. They were covering the attempt by an Irish docker, Tim Hayes, to spend 101 hours buried underground near a fairy fort in order to disprove the existence of the ‘Gentlemen’ or ‘Good People’. The film included a brief interview with a local man, who said he would definitely not want to interfere with the fairy fort, and would be extremely upset if anyone else were to do so or interfere with the field in which it lay. The film testifies to the continuing power of real belief in the fairies, despite the onward march of rationalism.

But it isn’t only in Ireland or the Celtic countries that belief in the fairies still persists. People are also still seeing them in England too. I found these two accounts from the 20th century in Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, (London: Reader’s Digest 1973), p. 121.

All dressed in green

‘… When we were on holiday in Cornwall, my daughter and I came down a winding lane, and all of a sudden there was a small green man – all in green with a pointed hood and ears. We both saw him … we were cold with terror and ran for the ferry below.’ A 20th century description by a man from Shropshire.

A fairy guide

‘… It was on the Berkshire Downs, and we’d lost our way, and didn’t know what track to take. When I looked round, there was small man in green standing at my elbow. “You’ll be all right,” he said, “You take that one; you’ll be all right.” Then he didn’t disappear, but he just wasn’t there any more’. Described in 1962 by a Somerset farmer’s wife.

And sightings continue to the present day. I went to a folklore/ paranormal conference a few years ago here in Bristol on the fairies, which included people who very firmly believed in them. And when I was studying for my archaeology Ph.D. at Bristol university, I went to a seminar on fairies presented by the epic Ron Hutton. Hutton opened by singing the theme to the Southern vampire TV series, Tru Blood, before describing a sighting of a fairy one evening by a young man and a women in Glastonbury. Well, where else? The couple saw this strange light bouncing along the ground. One of them asked the other what on earth it could be, and got the reply ‘It’s a fairy. What else could it be?’

Having said that, you have to be careful of jokers. My mother had an old friend from college down in Cornwall. She went down there one year to visit her. They were out on a trip somewhere, and she, the friend, my father and the friend’s mother went on to wherever they were going, leaving the friend’s father behind to have a sit down and rest. When they returned they found that he’d been talking to an American woman. This was at a time when there was a spate of fairy sightings. The American had asked the old fellow if he’d seen any. Oh yes, he replied, he certainly had. They were at the bottom of his garden. That wasn’t remotely true, and when they challenged him on it, he replied, ‘Well, it’s what she wanted to hear.’ Sometimes that smiling old rustic telling you of his supernatural encounters may not be the naive, horny-handed son of toil in touch with the supernatural you believe him to be.

But in the spirit of this post, here’s another video I found on YouTube. It’s the folk-rock band Steeleye Span playing ‘Wee Wee Man’ about a fairy from the 1970s.

Irish Docker Is Buried Alive in a Fairy Fort to Prove There Are No Fairies

June 7, 2021

I found this remarkable piece of news film on the channel CR’s Video Vaults on YouTube. It’s from 1966, and is about a dock worker, Tim Hayes, from Wexford, who spent 101 hours underground in a fairy fort to disprove the existence of the wee folk. His stunt was to open the village fete at Ballymore, but the other villagers didn’t want to dig his grave. The video begins with an old man telling the interviewer that he would definitely not wish to dig into or disturb a fairy fort, and he would be greatly upset if anyone else were to do so, or disturb the field in which it’s situated.

Then it goes to the docker himself at his work place, who explains he’s determined to show that there are no such things as fairies. He describes as ‘a yarn’ a letter he received from a woman in Douglas, who said she saw a fairy 30 years ago and hasn’t had any luck since. He was buried underground in a coffin with a ventilation tube to allow him to breathe, as well as telephone to speak to people outside. He also took a couple of books down there to read, one of which was Dracula. He also tells the interviewer that he’s spent much of his time thinking about people who’ve died – well, you would, wouldn’t you? – and when asked about toilet facilities, states that there’s no problem at all in that department. The film also shows him being dug up, and the men rescuing him putting warm woollies on to protect him from the colder air above ground.

His mother is one of the onlookers. When asked how she feels about her son, she tells the interviewer that she’s ‘died a thousand deaths since he went into the ground’ but that ‘he’s marvelous’ and she’s very proud of him.

When asked if he’s worried about others trying to outdo him, he has the attitude that they can try and last 100 hours underground and that he’ll come back and do it again.

I think this comes from a time when these kinds of endurance feats were all the rage. There have been Indian yogis, who’ve had themselves buried alive. I think one lasted for two weeks underground – an impressive feat, if true. Back in the late 1970s-early 80s the Fortean Times reported crowds gathering in one of the African countries after the return of an African holy man from a sojourn buried alive. He did so to prove the truth of indigenous African religion, and the crowd believed he had actually returned from the dead. More recently, in calls to mind the antics of David Blaine in the 90s, which was sent up on Jonathan Creek. In that episode, Klaus, Creek’s slimey partner, has himself buried alive. But there’s a passage down to a glass plate in the coffin so that people can see him. Unfortunately, Klaus has to be dug up and face the beak because the vibrations from the underground trains cause him to judder and twitch himself. Two women visitors saw him do this, and have accused him of, er, pleasuring himself.

Belief in the fairies always has been strong amongst the Irish and the other Celtic peoples. A century ago the American anthropologist and Theosophist, Evans-Wentz, wrote his classic study, The Fairy Faith in the Celtic Countries. Although Ireland is now as rationalist and secular as any other western country, or almost so, the fairy faith still remains strong amongst some Irish people. Way back in the 1980s, when DeLorean wanted to open a car factory in Northern Ireland, they wanted to pull down a fairy tree growing on the site. The workers refused and threatened to go on strike if the tree or bush was disturbed. The company had to back down.

A decade later in the 1990s one of the British papers – I think it must have been the Daily Heil – reported that a Sinn Fein councillor in one of the Ulster villages had asked an archaeologist if he could investigate the local fairy fort, as some of his constituents had seen things.

I read years ago that the fairy forts are in reality early medieval Danish forts left over from the period of the Viking invasions. However, the word rath means an ancient enclosed farmstead. These commonly consist of a circular raised bank, which have held a fence or palisade, inside which were the houses and other buildings of the occupier. They can date from as far back as the Bronze Age, but most date from the early Christian period 300 AD to 1100. They’re not scheduled, as there are about 30 – 40,000 of them in the island of Ireland.

I do wonder how delicately the archaeologist phrased his reply. Archaeology as a science can’t prove the supernatural, though I don’t believe it’s within its competence to disprove it either. All it can do is uncover the remains of past ritual and religious belief, which may include magical objects and practises. See books such as The Materiality of Magic, edited by Ceri Houlbrook and Natalie Armitage (Oxford: Oxbow 2015). I wonder how the archaeologist told the good councillor that if he did excavate – which could be illegal if it was scheduled ancient monument – all he would be able to say was that it was a monument of a particular type, probably dating from such and such a period, and that he probably wouldn’t find any trace of the Little People.

It also struck me that if this had happened over this side of the Irish Sea, it would have been excellent material for the type of comedies Ealing was pumping out at the time. These were about small communities faced with some kind of bizarre threat or other event, frequently at odds with modernity. Or later in the 1980s with the great Scots film, Local Hero. Perhaps here’s a suitable subject for the Irish film industry. It would make a break from all the episodes over here of Mrs Brown’s Boys.

The Satanic Rites of Glossop Tories

May 29, 2021

Ho ho! We suspected as much! People as evil as Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVile have to be in league with the forces of darkness. Now there’s the proof that at least one local Conservative club has had truck with the Evil One. ‘Cause archaeologists dug up the occult image they were using, as well as the remains of candlewax, chicken bones and other paraphernalia from their diabolical ceremonies.

A friend of mine helps run a psychic research society. Unlike the ghost hunters you see on TV, who every week seem to encounter real, unquiet spirits and run around screaming that they’re possessed, his organisation is very serious about investigating the paranormal scientifically. Quite a few of them have backgrounds in the medicine and the sciences. There is a very sizable academic literature on parapsychology and the proper investigation of paranormal events, including the proper scientific protocols to rule out misperception, fraud and false results. The paranormal is now regarded by very many people as something as a joke, but it was taken very seriously at one time. The founders of the British Society for Psychical Research included some of the most prominent politicians, academics and scientists of the 19th century.

As they’re unable to meet in person due to lockdown restriction, my friend’s been arranging a series of Zoom talks about the paranormal. He asked me if I’d like to give one. I agreed, and chose the archaeology of magic as the talk’s topic. There’s been a revival of interest in the history of magic and witchcraft by historians since the 1960s. This was pioneered in the 1960s and ’70s by French historians, who wanted to investigate the ‘mentalites’ – the mental worldview – of previous ages. Interest in witchcraft and the witch craze of the 16th and 17th is immense, because of the parallels between them and the persecution of minorities by the horrific totalitarianisms of the 20th century – Nazism, Fascism and Stalinist Communism – as well as parallels to the Cold War and ‘reds under the bed’. They’re also investigated because of what they say about these centuries attitudes towards women. Feminists are thus particularly interested, including activists who believe that the witches weren’t servants of Satan, but female adherents of an ancient mother goddess cult. Historians are also interested in witchcraft because it marks the transition from the enchanted world of the Middle Ages, when the universe was occupied by angels, demons, fairies and magicians, to secular modernity and the rationalism of the 18th century. And finally there’s the modern occult revival, which began in the 19th century, which has been particularly investigated by Dr Ronald Hutton of Bristol University.

Archaeologists have been rather late to the party. I think this is partly because archaeologist tended to identify anything with a vaguely supernatural use as ‘ritual’, rather than religious. There was an attitude that archaeologists could not reconstruct the religious ideas of past societies from their material remains, although in the case of temples and shrines, that’s clearly not the case. But it can be difficult without textual information. Also, many archaeologists didn’t want the sensationalism that came with the words ‘magic’ and ‘supernatural’. The first major book on the subject was Ralph Merrifield’s The Archaeology of Ritual and Magic. The kinds of items and remains investigated by archaeologists as magic include human and animal remains buried under houses, possibly as foundation sacrifices, charms and amulets, curse tablets, witch posts – carved posts in houses to stop witches or the walking dead entering – witch dolls and bottles, as well as items of clothing like shoes also left behind walls in houses. One of the books I’ve been using is The Materiality of Magic, edited by Ceri Houlbrook and Natalie Armitage (Oxbow: 2015). This is a collection of papers on archaeology and magic that came out of an interdisciplinary course run by the University of Manchester.

One of these papers, by A.J.N.W. Prag, ‘The Little Mannie with his Daddy’s Horns’, recounts how Manchester museum acquired a devil figure – so they thought – in the 1970s. The museum was running an exhibition of Celtic heads, and the cleaner at the local Tory club in Hollingworth had discovered one when she was cleaning the cellar. The museum experts came down, examined it, and found the remains left from the last time it was used. Which was apparently in 1916 to benefit the troops at the front. The museum quickly arranged to purchase it from her, partly because they were afraid that Satanists, especially American, would get wind of it. However, after they acquired it, their staff suffered a series of accidents. People who hadn’t had a car accident in their life suddenly scratched both sides of their vehicles, one worker cut his head open and then managed to lock the keys in the car of the colleague who took him to hospital. Eventually it got to the point where no-one really wanted to touch, until one of the women took to soothing it physically. But there was a further surprise when they were about to put it on display. A visiting expert on Africa told them that it wasn’t actually Celtic, but African. Specifically, it was a nomoli figure from the Mende people of Sierra Leone. This raises the question how such an exotic item found its way to a Tory club near Glossop. The paper speculates that it may have been brought to Manchester by one of the Jesuits involved in the exorcism of the possessed nuns at the 17th century French convent, which formed the basis for the Aldous Huxley book, The Devils of Loudoun, and the Ken Russell movie, The Devils, with Oliver Reed. It’s possible that the image, brought to the convent by a missionary clergyman, may have been at the heart of the accusations of witchcraft.

The idea of the local Tories practising their Satanic rites sounds like something from Last of the Summer Wine. Back in the 1980s there was an episode in which Sid and his wife at the local cafe were catering for a Masonic-style secret society, the Bullocks. As Foggy and Clegg are talking about it downstairs with Sid and Ivy, Compo comes down from their upstairs room where they’re holding their secret ceremony. He calls them a load of pansies, or something similar. When asked, they’re all there stamping their feet like hooves and holding their fingers in front of their heads like horns, chanting ‘Who’s a pretty bullock then, moo, moo? Who’s a pretty bullock then, you, you.’ Later Clegg and Compo embarrass Foggy by stealing their banner and running across one of the hills with it, so it proclaims to all and sundry, ‘Bullocks’.

Is this the kind of thing that’s going on in Tory clubs up and down England, we wonder? I find the whole thing peculiar and funny, and it inspired me to make this painting of Thatcher as the Satanic figure, Baphomet. If you can’t quite make out the text, it’s supposed to read ‘The Satanic Rites of Thatcher’. Hope you enjoy it and don’t have nightmares.

Marvel Studios’ Teaser Trailer for the Eternals Movie

May 24, 2021

Marvel have released the teaser trailer for the movie of their comic, The Eternals. This shows a race of highly advanced, superpowered people landing on prehistoric Earth to teach early humanity. The voiceover announces that they’ve watched us create some splendid achievements, but have never interfered. Until now. There’s then scenes of them making their presence known, and family gathering in which a juvenile member talks about leading the Avengers and them all joking about it. The movie debuts in November.

After watching this, I’m in two minds about going to see it. I’m not really into superhero movies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate them. It’s just that I’ve no interest in most of them. I loved the original Superman flicks when they came out in the ’70s -80s with Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steele. I like the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and I actually think the Ang Lee Hulk movie is seriously underappreciated.

I actually got choked up a bit when I saw it at our local cinema. Yeah, it took liberties with the Hulk’s origin, but it actually got the tone of the book right. The Hulk was always a profoundly countercultural figure. Banner was a former nuclear scientist conducting bomb tests for the military. His girlfriend was the daughter of the senior officer in charge of the project. He was exposed to the gamma radiation that turned him into a ‘raging behemoth’, in Smilin Stan’s somewhat overheated prose, by rescuing a disaffected teenager, Rick, who had driven into the testing range playing his harmonica. I think the model for the character was probably James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause and similar teen anti-heroes. Banner threw him into the protective trench just in time to save him from the blast, but was himself caught in release of deadly radiation as the bomb detonated. And the army Banner served hated his alter ego. The army was determined to hunt him down, and so the Jolly Green Giant was constantly fighting running battles with the American military. And with the revelations of atrocities by American forces during the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, in some of the strips Banner was critical of the military and the dehumanisation of ordinary soldiers who participated in covert military experimentation. I am not surprised it flopped when it pitched its hero against the American army at a time when the American, British and European public were all being urged to support our troops during the War on Terror.

But I got choked up on the flick because it was faithful to that aspect of the strip. And in the scenes when the Hulk faces down and fights his father, who has also used the gamma ray process to become the supervillain, the Absorbing Man, they were shot almost exactly like the comic’s depiction of the Hulk’s battles with superpowered enemies. At least as they were drawn by mighty Bill Mantlo.

And then there was the nod right at the end to the Hulk TV series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. This is the scene where a group of paramilitaries walk into a camp where Banner is giving medical care to the local Latin American peasants. They declare they’re seizing his drugs and supplies. Banner naturally objects with the classic line ‘Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry’. All the while the camera is pulling upward until all you see is the tops of the trees. And then it ends with the Hulk’s roar.

Blow what the critics think, I thought it was awesome!

But back to the Eternals. They were drawn by Jack Kirby, and first appeared over this side of the Pond in Star Wars Weekly, if I remember correctly. The strip was based on the theories of Erich von Daniken. He’s the Swiss hotelier and the author of Chariot of the Gods and its various sequels, which claimed that humanity had been visited by spacefaring aliens in antiquity, who’d been worshipped as gods. Alien expertise were behind the construction of various monuments, like the pyramids, the Easter Island heads. The mysterious Nazca lines out in the Chilean desert weren’t made by the genius of the pre-Columbian Indian peoples. No! They were landing strips for the aliens’ spaceships. His ideas have been extensively debunked, most notably in Crash Go The Chariots. But they still exert a certain influence on the ancient astronaut crowd, along with the bonkers theories of Zechariah Sitchin and his wretched Nephilim.

In the strip, the Eternals were a sister race to humanity. Both peoples were the results of experimentation on ancient pre-human apes by the Celestials. These were fifty foot tall ‘space gods’, encased entirely in space armour and possessed of immense powers. The Eternals were blessed with immortality, highly advanced technology, and superpowers. Their names recalled those of the Graeco-Roman divinities. One of the leaders of the Eternals in their dealing with humanity was Ikaris, whose name is obviously a form of Icarus, the son of the inventor Daedalus, who died because he flew too close to the sun. Alongside the benign Eternals were a malign third race, the Deviants. Make up your own jokes here. I wonder if they’re going to be in the film, and if they are, whether they’ll give them a different monicker because of its sexual connotations. While the genomes of humans and Eternals were genetically stable, that of the Deviants very definitely wasn’t. They were thus monstrous in appearance, and were bitterly jealous of the handsome appearance of their cousins. Human-looking Deviants were hated and persecuted, forced to fight against each other in gladiatorial combat and the Deviants were constantly seeking ways to destroy humanity.

Meanwhile, the Space Gods themselves had returned to Earth to judge the results of their experiments. They would take fifty years doing so, during which time they remained immobile and hidden at the sites of their ancient landings and cults. If humanity was judged a failure, the Celestials would destroy us.

I liked it because at the time I was really into the possibility of ancient astronauts, and Kirby’s art was magnificent. He’d taken pains to educate himself about science and cosmology, and nobody drew ‘cosmic’ like Jolly Jack. Even now I’d say that he’s peerless in his depiction of alien gods and godlike beings like the Celestials and Galactus. In the 1970s he was approached to provide the concept art for a film of Roger Zelazny’s novel, Lord of Light. This fell through, but the idea and his art was later used by the CIA as a cover for rescuing American hostages in Iran. If you see some of it, you’ll see just how impressive Kirby was.

Kirby’s Art for the abortive film, Lord of Light, from Desirina Boskovich, Lost Transmissions – The Secret History of Science Fiction, Film and Fantasy (New York: Abrams Image 2019) 234.

But I’m in two minds about this movie.

I was fascinated by the Celestials themselves. They were huge, ridiculously powerful, and totally alien. They were roughly humanoid, with the same number of arms and legs, but encased in armoured suits that suggested more the gods of the ancient, primal societies of some Amerindian peoples and ancient Japan. They also had no interest in communicating with us whatsoever. When they returned, their emissary just took up his position in an ancient Mayan/ Aztec temple and then stood stock still. This was how he’d remain for the next fifty years. And the Celestials made it very clear that they wanted to be left alone. When a villainous scientist ignores the urgings of the Eternal Ikaris, in human disguise as Ike Harris, to leave, the Celestial uses his advanced technological powers to transform him into a cube of inert matter. The scientist will remain in this state for the next fifty years, when he will be restored when the Space Gods pronounce their final judgement on humanity.

They were like true aliens in that they were incomprehensible. And genuinely awesome in their immense power. You couldn’t challenge them, you couldn’t negotiate with them or even talk to them. You could only stay out of their way.

But the trailer doesn’t show them. The Guardians of the Galaxy showed glimpses of them, which is one of the reasons I like them. Apart from the fact that they also had Steve Gerber’s avian hero from a parallel dimension, Howard the Duck. I’d like them to be in the flick, and that they are as powerful and awesome as they were in the original comics and in their very brief appearances in the two Guardians movies.

But I’m afraid they won’t, or they will be underused, and that the film will be simply another superhero movie, as enjoyable as they are for Marvel aficionados. At the moment I’m cautiously optimistic, as Cosmic Book News and other SF/Fantasy/comics websites have covered photos released way back in 2019 showing the Space Gods tombs. These were originally passed off as sets for the latest Star Wars movie, but later revealed to be for The Eternals film. And they do show the influence of Jolly Jack.

See: Eternals Set Images Reveal Jack Kirby Influence | Cosmic Book News

This might make the film worth seeing, just for another reminder of the sheer cosmic awesomeness of Kirby’s creations.