Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Chunky Mark on Increasing Poverty and Cuts, While Boris Wants Private Jet

May 24, 2018

This is another piece bashing Boris Johnson, our vain and incompetent Foreign Secretary. But it also tackles much more than that. This is another video from Chunky Mark, the Artist Taxi Driver. In this piece, he comments on how Boris is tired of flying first class with other people, and now wants his own jet. This is while the rest of Britain is labouring hard with paper hats on, working to pay for the royal wedding, the Tories’ stately homes, and the corporate elite knocking back their Pina Coladas in the Bahamas. He shows the covers of the newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Mirror. The Mail launched an attack on the House of Lords, which Chunky Mark compared to a snake eating itself, beginning with its tail, until only the head remains. Moving on to the Mirror, he comments on their front page story, which is how amused Meghan was when a bee flew into Harry’s ear. And this will go on forever. He makes the point that while this is on the cover, there’s grim news inside. The Tories have cut 700 school nurses, attacking children’s health in schools. Marks and Spencer’s are to shut 100 stores. The cuts in the number of school nurses is to pay for the corporate feasts and the Tories’ garden parties, while the closure of the M&S stores will devastate towns up and down the country. This is Theresa May’s hostile environment: child poverty, homelessness, austerity, Grenfell, Windrush.

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Thinking Aloud Next Week on the Failure of the Business Schools

May 23, 2018

There’s also a very interesting and provocative edition of the Radio 4 programme, Thinking Aloud, next Wednesday at 4.00 pm. Entitled ‘Shut Down the Business School!’ the blurb for it on p. 127 of the Radio Times says

Laurie Taylor talks to Martin Parker, professor at the Department of Management, Bristol University, who argues that business schools have produced a generation of unreflective managers, primarily interested in their own personal rewards. He makes the case for a radical alternative.

This could be very interesting indeed, as the massive pay rises and additional bonus packages awarded by managers for performance, which is either mediocre or utterly disastrous, shows he has a point. Way back in the 1990s Private Eye had a series in which they charted the performance of various companies after they were taken over by various chairmen, who were rewarded with massive salaries. The companies were all top-performing, or at least, they were at the time these much-vaunted managers were given their jobs. The charts were of these companies’ share values, and they showed the companies’ value dropping catastrophically until these managers then left. Usually with a massive, and massively unmerited goodbye package.

And everywhere there seems to be the same pattern. The ordinary workforce is cut, while the ranks of management expand massively. Wages for the lowest ranks of employees are also frozen, or else are given raises below the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, the managers give themselves massive pay rises, uses under the pretext of ‘performance related pay’. Even though the stats often show that the companies are actually performing worse than they were before these managers took over. The BBC is itself a prime example of this bloated, top-heavy management structure, but you find it all over industry. It’s part and parcel of the Zombie economics of Thatcherism, and has been criticised by the economist Ha-Joon Chang, amongst others.

Of course, one solution might be to put workers in the boardroom, and tie management pay to the performance of the company and improvements in pay and conditions for the workers, in line with the company’s growth and profitability. If the company prospers, and their workers benefit from the company’s performance, then the managers receive a pay rise. If they don’t, and the workers have to receive a cut in wages, then the management should also see their wages cut. There’s no way that can be brought in without screams from the rich that this would be a terrible imposition on them, and would prevent the best talent coming to British industry. But as I see no evidence at the moment of there being much talent in the massed ranks of British management except for grotesquely enriching themselves at the expense of their workers, there’s absolutely no reason to take this criticism seriously.

‘If America Knew’ On Attempts to Define Criticism of Israel as Anti-Semitism

May 20, 2018

Part of the anti-Semitism smear campaign against the Labour party is the attempt to foist upon it and wider society the definition of anti-Semitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which specifically includes criticism of Israel. Although, as Mike points out, the definition only states that such criticism may be anti-Semitic, but not necessarily so in all cases. Nevertheless, this is how the IHRA’s definition is interpreted by the Israel lobby, and why it is being used to attack and smear decent, anti-racists when they object to it or question it. Jackie Walker, one of the vice-chairs of Momentum, was accused and vilified as an anti-Semite, despite her own Jewishness, precisely because she questioned this definition and the exclusive focus of Holocaust Remembrance Day on the Nazis’ attempts to exterminate the Jews, rather than include other races, who had also suffered their own genocides.

The IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism is completely ahistorical and just wrong. Anti-Semitism, as defined by Wilhelm Marr, the man, who coined the term and founded the Bund Antisemiten – ‘League of Anti-Semites’ – in 19th century Germany stated that it was hatred of Jews as Jews, regardless of religion. And this was well before the foundation of Israel. Mike has also several times posted the views of a very senior lawyer on this issue, that this is indeed the proper definition of anti-Semitism.

But this is not what the Israel lobby wants people to believe. And so when Corbyn met the Board of Deputies of British Jews a few weeks ago, after they organised a demonstration smearing Labour and its leader once again as anti-Semitic, they pressured him yet again to adopt the HRA’s spurious definition. If adopted, it would make criticism of Israel and its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Robin Ramsay, the editor of Lobster, discusses this in a recent edition to his article, ‘The View from the Bridge’ in Lobster 75, Summer 2018. His article also points to an excellent piece by Alison Weir of the If America Knew Blog on this history of this attempt to foist the HRA’s definition on America and other nations. It’s at
http://ifamericaknew.org/history/antisemitism.html

The article also includes this handy timeline giving the important dates in the development of this project.

Timeline for creating new Israel-centric definition of anti-Semitism

Following is a timeline of some of the key events in the creation, promotion and adoption of the Israel-focused definition of antisemitism. It provides an outline, but does not include every step of the process, all the key players, or every action.

1991 – Jean Kahn is elected president of the European Jewish Congress at its plenary session in Israel. He announces an ambitious agenda, including demonstrating solidarity with Israel and European countries coordinating legislation to outlaw antisemitism.
1997 – Kahn “convinces 15 heads of state” to create the The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia to focus on “racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.”
2000 – The Monitoring Centre issues a position paper calling for the definition of antisemitic offenses to be “improved.”
2003 – Israel’s minister for diaspora affairs Natan Sharansky founds the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism, stating: “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.”
2004 – Sharansky, who is also chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, issues a position paper that lays out the “3-D Test of Anti-Semitism:” statements that “demonize” Israel, apply a “double standard” or “delegitimize” Israel are “antisemitic.” These will form the blueprint for new definitions adopted by lobbying organizations and finally governments.
2004 – US Congress passes law establishing special office and envoy in the State Department to monitor antisemitism that includes statements about Israel under this rubric. (Sharansky is witness at Congressional hearing.)
2004 – American Jewish Committee directors Kenneth Stern and Rabbi Andrew “ Andy” Baker work with Israeli professor Dina Porat to draft a new antisemitism definition and push the Monitoring Centre to adopt it, according to Stern. Their draft drew on Sharansky’s 3 D’s.
2005 – Monitoring Centre issues a “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism” that includes Sharansky’s 3 D’s, based on Stern et al’s draft. While standard dictionary definitions of antisemitism didn’t even mention Israel, fully half of the newly devised Monitoring Centre definition referred to Israel.
2007 – UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) adopts the new antisemitism definition focused on Israel, after pro-Israel students introduce a motion misleadingly entitled “AntiRacism: Challenging Racism on Campus and in Our Communities.” Some student unions at various UK universities then follow suit.
2008 – The first U.S. State Department Special Envoy on antisemitism, Greg Rickman, endorses the Monitoring Centre working definition in State Department report to Congress. (Rickman later went to work for AIPAC.)
2009 – The Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (CCA), which brings together parliamentarians from around the world, issues the London Declaration signed by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and others. The Declaration calls on governments to use the Monitoring Centre definition and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.” US Congressmen Ted Deutch and Chris Smith are members of the CCA’s steering committee.
2010 – Second US State Department Special Envoy on antisemitism Hanna Rosenthal officially adopts European Monitoring Centre definition; this is subsequently referred to as the State Department definition of antisemitism. Rosenthal creates course on antisemitism using this definition to train Foreign Service Officers.
2012 – Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law is founded and immediately begins promoting the new definition. Within a year it launches an initiative to establish student chapters at law schools throughout the U.S.
2013 – Successor organization to the European Monitoring Centre (called the European Fundamental Rights Agency) quietly drops the working definition from its website. When questioned about this, the agency’s director says the organization had “no mandate to develop its own definitions.” (Groups using the definition continue to use it.)
2014 – Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with help from Ira Forman and Nicholas Dean of the U.S. Department of State, initiates efforts for another agency to adopt and promote the working definition of antisemitism.
2015 – European Commission creates a special position to coordinate work on combating antisemitism, appointing German Katharina von Schnurbein to the post. Schnurbein proceeds to promote use of the Israel-centric definition.
2015 – Indiana University passes resolution denouncing “anti-Semitism as defined by the United States State Department and will not fund or participate in activities that promote anti-Semitism or that ‘undermine the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.’” University of California Santa Barbara and UCLA also pass such resolutions.
2016 – The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), consisting of 31 Member Countries, adopts the definition; the goal is to inspire others to also adopt “a legally binding working definition.” An analyst writes that the IHRA action is “a potentially crucial tool for forcing governments and international agencies to confront and take action.”
December 2016 – U.S. Senate passes law to apply the State Department’s definition of antisemitism to the Education Department, for use in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes. Now the law defines actions connected to criticism of Israel as “religiously motivated.”
December 2016 – UK announces it will formally adopt the Israel-centric definition–the first country to do so besides Israel. UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement during a talk before 800 guests at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual lunch.
December 2016 – Adoption of the definition by the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had been heavily lobbied by the American Jewish Committee, is blocked by Russia. The AJC then says it will push for individual member states to adopt it.
March 2017 – South Carolina House of Representatives passes legislation under which the State Department’s definition “would be used in probes of possible anti-Semitism at state colleges and universities.” The Senate version will be discussed in 2018. Similar bills are being considered in Virginia and Tennessee.
March – May 2017 – Resolutions adopting the Israel-centric definitions are passed by student governments at Ohio’s Capital University and Kent State, California’s San Diego State University and at other campuses around the U.S.
April 2017 –
Austria adopts the definition. (The Austrian justice minister previously announced that the new definition would be used in the training of new judges and prosecutors.)
The ADL, which uses Israel-centric definition of antisemitism, announces that antisemitism has risen by 86 percent in 2017, but includes questionable statistics. News organizations throughout the U.S. report the ADL claim.
Reports that Trump administration budget cuts might cause special antisemitism envoy position to remain vacant provokes outrage among Israel lobby groups and others. Samantha Power calls for entire Trump administration to focus on antisemitism. Soon, Trump administration says it will fill post.
All 100 US Senators send a letter to UN demanding it stop its actions on Israel and connects these to antisemitism.
May 2017 –
Israel-Britain Alliance begins asking candidates for Parliament to sign a pledge that they will support the new definition.

The Young Turks Condemn Comments Celebrating Persecution of Palestinians

May 16, 2018

This is a video from the American left-wing news show, The Young Turks, in which main man Cenk Uygur comments on the appalling views of American Conservatives on the Israeli state’s persecution of the Palestinians. One of them remarked on American television about how wonderful and transparent Israeli democracy was. He thought it was the most democratic country in the world. He also praised Israeli walls. These were great too, unless you believed that Palestinians were people.

He was referring to the wall built by the Israelis, to keep the Palestinians the Israelis expelled from their ancestral homes out. The Israelis have been trying to expel all of the Palestinians from Israel and the occupied territories ever since the Nakba at the birth of Israel. They have also refused to readmit Palestinians, who fled the massacres committed by the Israel forces at the time, for purely racist reasons. They have said quite openly that they weren’t going to allow them to return as this would upset the ethnic composition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Uygur then comes to the comment of Ben Shapiro, a very young Republican political commentator, who for some reason they revere as some kind of great intellectual. Shapiro tweeted that Israelis like to build, while Palestinians prefer to bomb and live in sewage. Uygur makes the point that the reason the Palestinians live in squalor is because they don’t control their economy and the Israeli state is forcing these conditions upon them. He also point out that with this, the Republicans are demonising the Palestinians, just as the Nazis demonised the Jews. And it’s done for the same reason: to make their genocide easier.

He also acknowledges that Arabs and Palestinians also demonise Jews and Israelis, and he’s very firmly against that as well. They’re all human beings, and the only proper solution to this is a two-state solution. He also praises the ‘If Not Now’ movement, which demonstrated against the murder of the protesters yesterday. This is made up of young Jews and rabbinical college students.

But there was one person, who was pleased with the murder of the protesters: Anne Coulter. She tweeted that Israeli soldiers had killed 28 protesters (the total number is 59), before asking ‘Can we do that?’

She was referring to Trump’s plans to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out. Uygur argues passionately that if the Israelis get away with shooting the Palestinian protesters caged in Gaza, then it’ll encourage Trump to believe he can shoot Mexicans trying to enter the US. Because just as the Israeli state demonises the Palestinians as terrorists, so the Trump and the Republicans claim that Mexicans are rapists, drug abusers and members of criminal gangs like MS-13.

And if that happens, you can also bet it’ll have a knock-on effect over this said of the pond. We’ll have the islamopobes and anti-immigration lobby over here claiming that we need to have the right to shoot illegal immigrants for the same reason.

Review: Joe Sacco’s ‘Palestine’

May 12, 2018

(London: Jonathan Cape 2001)

This is one of the classics of the graphic novel. Joe Sacco is an American journalist. He spent two months with the Palestinians in late 1991 and early 1992 in Gaza and the West Bank during the time of the first Intifada. He wrote and drew Palestine after his return to the US, basing it on his notes, publishing it as a nine-part comic strip. These were later collected into a single volume to form the graphic novel. The book also has a kind of introduction, ‘Homage to Joe Sacco’, from Edward Said, the author of Orientalism, critic of western imperialism and attitudes to the Arabs, and himself a Palestinian.

This is precisely the type of book the Israel lobby does not want people to read. Not BICOM, not the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which was set up because Gideon Falter, its founder, was worried about British attitudes becoming more hostile to Israel after the blockade of Gaza, not the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion and the companion party to the Israeli Labor Party, not the various ‘Friends of Israel’ societies in the political parties, Tories and Labour, nor the Jewish Leadership Council and definitely not the Board of Deputies of British Jews. All of them shout ‘anti-Semitism’ at anyone who dares to publish anything critical of Israel, or show the barbarity with which it treats the Palestinians.

The book shows Sacco’s experiences as he goes around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, talking to both Palestinians and Israelis, meeting them, entering their homes, and listening to their stories. He starts the book in Cairo, the beginning of his journey to Israel, and to which he returns at his departure. During his time there, he visits the Vale of Kidron, the Arab quarter of Old Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza strip, as it then was, Balata, another refugee camp on the West Bank, Nablus, the town of Gaza itself, and finally Tel Aviv.

It’s not an easy read. This is an occupied country during deep unrest, and the threat of violence and arbitrary arrest and detention without trial is every where. There are patrols of soldiers, demonstrations, explosions and stone throwing. And he shows, with quotes, the contemptuous, lofty and hostile attitude the early Zionists and Lord Balfour had for the indigenous population. He quotes Balfour as saying

‘Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit this ancient land. We do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the inhabitants’.

Ben Gurion thought it would be simple to expel the Palestinians, because he felt they had no real attachment to their homeland. He wrote that the Palestinian ‘is equally at ease whether in Jordan, Lebanon or a variety of other places’. With the approach of war, he made it clear their expulsion was going to be through military force: ‘In each attack a decisive blow should be struck, resulting in the destruction of homes and the expulsion of the population.’ When that was done, ‘Palestinian Arabs have only one role – to flee’. He also quotes Golda Meir, who stated that a Palestinian people, defining itself as a Palestinian people, did not exist, and ‘we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They do not exist’. 400 Palestinian villages were razed in the war marking the birth of Israel. Meir’s lie – that the Palestinians don’t exist as a people – is still repeated by Republican and pro-Israel bloggers. Golda Meir was also concerned about the Palestinian population outstripping that of the Israelis, another issue that is still very alive today.

His hosts are polite, welcoming him into their homes, and plying him with tea. But occasionally there is an outburst from one of them, when he’s asked what the point of him being there, of them talking to him, is. Because other journalists have been there too, and they’ve talked to them, and nothing has happened, nothing has changed. They also talk to him about the other factions, and of the peace process. In a separate text at the beginning of the book, he states that, while the peace process set up the Palestinian authority and gave them a government, it changed nothing for ordinary Palestinians, and the occupation and theft of land by the Israelis still goes on.

He also reveals that the Israelis appropriate 2/3 of the land in the West Bank for their own us, which includes the establishment of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. And the governments gives Israelis plenty of incentives to move to them. They’re given a government grant if they do, lower interest rates on loan, the housing itself is cheaper than in Israel, and an income tax rate of 7 per cent. The settlers themselves can be extremely aggressive. Sacco’s hosts tell them about incidents where settlers have come into Palestinian villages, smashing windows and demanding that the owners come out. Of people shot by them, and the trivial sentences given to the settlers guilty of this. They’re given jail sentences of a few months. If they’re convicted in the first place. Palestinians who shoot and kill Israelis are jailed for years. Some lavish homes do exist in Palestine, occupied by Arabs, but most live in very bare houses, often with leaking roofs, which are vulnerable to storms.

His cartoons show what his Palestinian hosts tell him it’s like in prison camps like Ansar III, with crowds of prisoners crammed into small, bare rooms with no heat and poor ventilation. There are also few eating utensils, to the various political factions in the camp – Fateh, Hamas, Popular Front, organise meal times so that everyone gets a turn with the cup and plate to eat and drink. Several of the people he talks to were arrested simply on suspicion. Israeli law allowed them to be held without charge while evidence was compiled, with his captors returning to court over and over again to request a few more days more, until the judge finally listens to their lawyer, has the procedure stopped and the prisoner released. He also shows how the prisoners were tortured through beatings, being forced to stand for hours with bags over their heads, a process permitted under Israel law. A judge ruled that torture could not be used, but what methods were to replace them were kept secret. So many Palestinians have been incarcerated, that a green identity card showing a man has been in jail is a matter of pride. And not to have been to prison correspondingly is a mark of shame.

He talks about how the Israelis have a deliberate policy of not allowing the Palestinians to industrialise, so that they compete with the Israel. The State has also put obstacles in place to prevent Palestinian farmers competing with Israelis. They also deliberately uproot the olive trees many Palestinians grow to support themselves. The Israelis also appropriate most of the water, and dig deeper wells, so that the Palestinians have a much poorer water supply and their own wells are becoming increasingly saline. As a result, unemployment in Gaza was at 40 per cent. And Sacco himself was approached several times by Palestinians, hoping he could do something so that they could leave and go abroad to study or find work.

He describes a school, without electricity, as well as a school for the deaf, which is supported through volunteers and whose staff complain of their lack of training for dealing with people with disabilities. He also hears and illustrates the story of one Palestinian woman, whose son was shot by Israeli soldiers, but was prevented from taking him directly to hospital. Instead she was ordered to go hither and thither, where she was told a helicopter was waiting to take her and the boy. When she gets there, there is no helicopter. She eventually takes him to the hospital herself in a car, by which time it’s too late and the lad dies.

The book also shows the mass of roadblocks and the permit system which Palestinians have to go through to go to Israel. At the same time, Israelis are simply allowed to whiz through in their separate lanes.

Sacco also doesn’t shy away from showing the negative side of Palestine – the anti-Semitism, and particularly infamous murders, like the killing of Klinghoffer aboard the Achille Lauro, and the massacre of the Israeli Olympic team by the terrorist group Black September. This can turn into support for the murder of Israeli civilians. There’s also a chapter on the plight of Palestinian women, This is a society where women are still very much treated as inferiors and subordinates, where honour killings are carried out as the punishment for female adultery. It is also a society where collaborators are murdered, and those, who belong to the wrong faction may also be shot and killed.

The book was written 27 years ago, but nothing really seems to have changed since then. The illegal settlements are still there and expanding. Settlers are still seizing Palestinian homes and property, the apartheid separating Israelis from Palestinians is still in place, unemployment is still high, and Palestinians are still being treated as foreigners, refugees and second-class citizens on their own land.

However, some attitudes are changing. The Israeli liberals Sacco talks to only support the Palestinians up to a point. When pressed, some of them will say that Israel should keep the Occupied Territories, because they seized them in war. Or that they need to keep them for security reasons. But an increasing number of young Jews in America and elsewhere are appalled at the continuing maltreatment of the Palestinians and are becoming increasingly critical and hostile to Israel because of this. And there have also grown up major opposition groups like the human rights organisation B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence in Israel.

The Israeli state and its lobby and supporters in this country and others are increasingly scared. It’s why they’re trying to pass laws to criminalise the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in America, and to outlaw criticism of Israel in this country through tortuous definitions of anti-Semitism that are stretched to include it. It’s why they’re smearing, with the connivance of the right-wing media, the Blairites in the Labour party, and the Conservatives, decent people, who have fought racism and anti-Semitism, as anti-Semites.

Very long, detailed books have been written about Israel’s brutal treatment, dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Sacco’s Palestine presenting this as graphic novel, is an example of how comics can also be serious literature, tackling a difficult subject with both narrative and artistic skill and style. I’ve mentioned on this blog before the alternative comics that were also published from the ’60s to the 1980s/1990s on political topics, including the Israeli maltreatment of Palestinians in Pat Mills’ Crisis. Palestine is very much in that tradition, and in 1996 won the American Book Award.

Holocaust Education Trust Claims Corbyn Responsible for Abuse Against Volunteers

May 12, 2018

This is another anti-Semitism smear against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. On Wednesday, the I ran a story about the Holocaust Education Trust, a charity that works with schools to educate children about the Nazi’s murder of the Jews. A spokeswoman for the charity, Alison Pollard, claimed that some of the volunteers for the charity had suffered anti-Semitic abuse, although they were gentiles. If this is true, then it’s disgraceful. However, I lost sympathy with Pollock further on, when she claimed that the Labour leader was somehow responsible for this situation. She claimed that the anti-Semitism in the Labour party under Corbyn had normalised it in the rest of the society, and called on him to do something about it.

This looks like the Israel lobby trying to smear Corbyn and the Labour party yet again. I don’t know who Alison Pollard is, but I did wonder if she was related to Stephen Pollard, one of the leaders of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. The CAA is the organisation that has libelled Mike and so many others as anti-Semites, simply because they have either criticised Israel, or defended someone, who has. 5,000 people have signed an internet petition calling for it to be removed from the Charity Commission’s registers as it is a political organisation, and so doesn’t qualify as a charity.

Most of the people smeared as anti-Semites in the Labour party are no such thing, and include self-respecting Jews, many of whom have lost family in the Holocaust, or have parents, who were among the extremely fortunate few to survive. Others have been subjected to real anti-Semitic abuse and violence.

Also, as Mike has pointed out so many times, anti-Semitism has actually fallen in the Labour party, while it has risen in surrounding society. And it’s actually much higher in the Tories. Pollard did not claim that those, who abused her volunteers were connected to the Labour party in anyway. She also produced no proof that they were influenced by any anti-Semitism in the Labour party. She simply asserted that this was the case. Like the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the CAA have done when they claim that since Corbyn took over the party, it has become infested with anti-Semites. This is an assertion Pollard, the Board and the CAA know to be untrue.

The claim that Corbyn is somehow responsible is not another, highly politicised smear. I’m not sure if it appeared elsewhere in the press, as Mike didn’t mention it on his site. So it seems to be another piece of biased reporting by the supposedly ‘independent’ newspaper.

The Racists and Reactionaries Who Are the ‘Honorary Patrons’ of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

May 11, 2018

On Wednesday, Tony Greenstein also put up a very revealing post discussing some of the honorary patrons of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. This is the organisation responsible for many of the anti-Semitism smears and libels, including that of Mike. Greenstein notes that it’s suspected of being funded by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs as part of their campaign of dirty tricks against the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement. And the CAA’s patrons are a grim lot of reactionaries, racists and islamophobes. They include the former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, Eric Pickles, Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord, Mike Freer, and Richard Kemp.

Carey got himself into trouble with Britain’s Muslim community in 2004 with a tactless comment about Islam, which included the words ‘During the past 500 years, critical scholarship has declined, leading to strong resistance to modernity’. It’s a very simplified version of Islamic history, which leaves out Modernists like Mohammed Abduh, the Egyptian ulema, who began the process of modernisation in their country before its conquest by the British and French, and secularist radicals like Turkey’s Kemal Ataturk.

Eric Pickles, whom Buddy Hell at Guy Debord’s Cat has nicknamed ‘the Sontaran’ because of his striking resemblance to those aliens from Dr. Who, used to be progressive and anti-racist. That is before he and Maggie’s Tory cabinet decided to back Ray Honeyford, the headmaster of a Middle School in Bradford. Honeyford had written a piece in the right-wing Salisbury Review, claiming that there was a link between race and intelligence. The local authority wanted to sack him, but he was supported by the Daily Heil and Thatcher. And so Pickles also decided to throw in his lot behind Honeyford. And he’s been a populist ever since.

Blackman, Offord and Freer all put their weight behind the campaign ‘Operation Dharmic Vote’ by the National Council of Hindu Temples back in 2017. This looks like an attempt to copy David Lammy’s Operation Black Vote earlier this century, which was a campaign to get more Black people to vote so that more would be done for them by a more diverse parliament. ‘Operation Dharmic Vote’ sounds similar, but was definitely not as benign. The National Council of Hindu Temples were annoyed that British parties, like Labour, were trying to outlaw caste discrimination, especially against the Dalits. This is the term now used for the Untouchables, the people of the lowest caste, who are given the dirtiest, lowest paid and most demeaning jobs. Indian Dalit activists and writers have described their conditions as ‘slavery’. There are reports in this country of Dalits being refused medical treatment by their doctors. It’s disgraceful, but Blackman, Offord and Freer decided to back the campaign to get the votes of the most reactionary elements of British Hinduism.

Blackman also went further, also hosted a meeting in parliament, at which one of the speakers was Tapan Ghosh, an Indian islamophobe and christophobe. Claiming to be defending human rights, Ghosh talked about ‘800 years of Arab Islamic’ aggression, and ‘200 years of European Christian aggression’. He also described the Rohingyas, now being butchered in Myanmar, as ‘violent’.

Both Islam and Christianity largely entered India through military conquest, though India also has a community of indigenous Syriac Christians in Kerala, who entered the country as refugees from persecution in the Persian Empire. The Hindu Nationalist right bitterly hate Christianity and Islam, as neither religion has a formal caste system like Hinduism. There is a kind of caste system in Indian Islam, but it’s less severe than Hinduism. As a result, many Dalits have converted to Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. The Hindu nationalists have reacted by organising pogroms against Christians and Muslims, as well as Sikhs and extreme right-wing Hindus have carried out forced conversions of Christians. This seems to be the type of Hinduism Ghosh seems to represent, and it’s as racist and intolerant as the militantly extremist forms of the two religions Ghosh denounces.

Then there’s Colonel Richard Kemp, who was successfully sued by Baroness Warsi after he wrote a column in the Jewish News claiming that she was trying to excuse the horror committed by Daesh.

For further details, see Tony Greenstein’s article at http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/the-campaign-against-anti-semitism_9.html

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is the group that’s claiming that since Jeremy Corbyn became head of the Labour party, it’s been infested with anti-Semites. Perhaps there should be an outcry instead on the way it’s supported by very real racists and islamophobes.

Tory Voter ID Scheme Is a Devise to Stop People Voting

May 9, 2018

The council elections last Thursday were also the occasion for the Tories to test their latest wheeze regarding people’s right to vote. This purports to stamp out electoral fraud by demanding that only people carrying proof of their ID should be allowed to cast a vote at the polling station. The scheme was trialled in Bromley, Woking, Gosport and Swindon. As a result, a total 3,981 people were prevented from voting in these constituencies. People were turned away from about one in five polling stations.

Mike reported this on his blog, making the point that their were only 28 cases of voter fraud amongst 45 million people in 2917. He commented that as a scheme to allow everyone to vote, who had a right to vote, it was a complete disaster. But he went to suggest that this wasn’t the real reason for the scheme. This was to cut down on the number of people able to vote for the competing parties.

He then quoted Labour’s Cat Smith, the Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, who stated that there was no point in introducing the scheme in the first place, and that the government had ignored the warning signs to set up a discriminatory scheme which denied people their right to vote.

She demanded that the government abandon the scheme, saying “We cannot allow the Conservative Party to undermine our democracy, which is why Labour is calling on the Government to scrap their voter ID plans as a matter of urgency.”

And Mike concluded his article with the comment

If the Conservatives go ahead with this, based on the evidence we’ve seen, we’ll know they are trying to nobble democracy.

Over to you, Tories.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/05/voter-id-pilot-turned-away-too-many-people-tories-are-bound-to-roll-it-out-across-the-uk/

Actually, there shouldn’t be any doubt about this. The Tories are trying to nobble democracy. A year or so ago I put up piece about a similar scheme introduced by the Republicans in America. This altered the rules for registering to vote, ostensibly with the same intention of preventing voter fraud. In fact, it was intended to deprive the Democrats of votes by making more difficult for students, the poor and Blacks, who form a large part of the Democrats’ electoral support, to vote. One Republican in one of the southern states actually admitted this. The issue was reported and heavily commented on by some of the American left-wing alternative news sites, like The Young Turks. I’d guess that there’s a similar situation in Britain, where support for the Labour party is strongest amongst the young, the poor and ethnic minorities. All of whom might find it more difficult to produce proof of their identities than older, richer Whites.

Not that the Democrats themselves haven’t been averse to using similar methods. Counterpunch in their book, End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate reported a similar scheme introduced by them in Florida, which resulted in thousands of Blacks and Latinos being turned away.

The Tories have taken very many of their ideas from the Republicans over the pond. These include the introduction of private police forces, which was dreamed up in the 1980s by Libertarians like Rothbard, E. Nozick and Gauthier in Canada, as part of their ideal ‘minarchist’ state. Rothbard wanted to privatise the courts, which is probably too loony even for the Tories and Republicans. But you never know. Fiddling the voting requirements to stop people voting for the opposing party, all under the pretense of fighting electoral fraud, seems to be another idea they’ve adopted from the Republicans.

Cat Smith and Mike are right. This is all about nobbling democracy and denying people their right to vote. And if the Tories think it has given them a better chance at the polls, they will introduce it nationally. It has to be stopped. Now.

Science Fiction Becomes Chilling Science Fact: Plans for Autonomous Drones

May 7, 2018

Last week, the I carried a story reporting the debate over the development of truly autonomous military drones. At the moment these killing machines require a human operator, but there are plans to give them AI and autonomy, so that they can fly and kill independently. I’m afraid I didn’t read the article, so can’t really tell you much about it, except what leapt out at me.

And what did leap out of me was that this is very dangerous. The I itself reported that there was a controversy over the proposals. Some scientists and other people have argued that it’s dangerous to remove humans from war, and leave to it cold, dispassionate machines. This is a valid point. A decade or so ago, one tech company announced it was planning to build war robots to be used in combat. There was immediately a storm of protest as people feared the consequences of sending robots out to kill. The fear is that these machines would continue killing in situations where a humane response is required.

whistleblowers on the American drone programme have also talked about its dehumanising effects. The human operator is miles, perhaps even an entire continent away from the drone itself, and this creates a sense of unreality about the mission. The deaths are only seen on a screen, and so the operator can forget that he is actually killing real human being. After one trainee drone operator continued killing long after he had completed his mission, he was reportedly hauled from his chair by the instructor, who told him sternly, ‘This is not a video game’. Similarly soldiers and pilots in combat may also become dehumanised and enjoy killing. One of the volumes I read against the Iraq War included a letter from a veteran American Air Force pilot to his son, entitled ‘Don’t Lose Your Humanity’. The father was concerned that this would happen to his lad, after seeing it happen to some of the men he’d served with. He wrote of a case where a man continued to shoot at the enemy from his plane, simply because he enjoyed the chaos and carnage he was creating.

Already humans can lose their own moral compass while controlling these machines, but the situation could become much worse if these machines became completely autonomous. They could continue to kill regardless of circumstance or morality, simply through the requirement to obey their programming.

There is also another danger: that the rise of these machines will eventually lead to the extinction and enslavement of the human race. The idea of the robot’s revolt has haunted Science Fiction since Mary Shelley first wrote Frankenstein at the beginning of the 19th century. It’s one of the clichéd themes of SF, but some scientists fear it the danger is all too real. Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, included it among the dangers to the survival of humanity in his book, Our Final Minute?, in the 1990s. Kevin Warwick, professor of robotics at Reading University and former cyborg, also sees it as a real possibility. His 1990s book, March of the Machines, opens with a chilling description of a world ruled by robots. Humanity has been decimated. The few survivors are enslaved, and used by the machines to hunt down the remaining free humans living wild in places which are inaccessible to the robots. Warwick was deeply troubled by the prospect of the machines eventually taking over and leaving humanity far behind. He turned to cyborgisation as a possible solution to the problem and a way for humanity to retain its superiority and survival against its creations.

These plans for the drones also remind very strongly of an SF story I read way back when I was a teenager, ‘Flying Dutchman’, by Ward Moore, in Tony Boardman, ed., Science Fiction Stories, illustrated by David Mitchell, Paul Desmond, and Graham Townsend (London: Octopus 1979). In this story, a bomber comes back to base to be refuelled and loaded up once again with bombs, to fly away again on another mission. This is all done automatically. There are no humans whatever in the story. It is implied that humanity has finally killed itself, leaving just its machines continuing to function, flying and bombing in an endless cycle, forever.

Many of the other stories in the volume were first published in the SF pulp magazines. I don’t know when Moore’s story was written, but the use of bombers, rather than missiles, suggests it was around the time of the Second World War or perhaps the Korean. Not that bombers have been entirely superseded by modern missiles and combat aircraft. The Americans used the old B54s against the Serbs during the war in Yugoslavia. These plans to create autonomous drones brings the world of Moore’s story closer to horrifying reality.

SF has often been the literature of warning. Quite often its predictions are hilariously wrong. But this is one instance where we need to pay very serious attention indeed.

Five Thousand People Sign Petition Calling for Deregistration of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

May 7, 2018

That redoubtable campaigner against all forms of Fascism and racism, including Zionism, Tony Greenstein, put up a post on Saturday reporting that 5,680 people have signed the petition calling for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism to be deregistered as a charity. Under the rules of the Charity Commission, charities have to be apolitical. The CAA clearly isn’t, as despite its monicker, as it pays precious little attention to real anti-Semitism. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is the malign, and highly political organisation, that libeled Mike and so many others in the Labour party as anti-Semites simply because they have criticised Israel, defended those who did, and worse, actually have historical fact on their side. It’s real purpose is to defend Israel by smearing its critics, as the Israel lobby has been doing pretty much since the 1970s.

Greenstein begins the article with the words

Some 5,680 people have signed a petition calling on the Charity Commission to deregister the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. It brings the whole charity sector into disrepute. There is no discernible public benefit arising from its operation. It is widely suspected to be funded by the Israeli state as part of its anti-BDS dirty tricks operations.

He then notes that Gideon Falter, the head of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, is also the director of the JNF UK. This the Jewish National Fund, the organisation that owns 93 per cent of all land in Israel, and which recently fought a decision by the Israeli courts to make it rent its property to non-Jews, like Arabs.

Greenstein then goes on to discuss two instances out of the very many cases where the CAA has libelled people as anti-Semites. One was a young Palestinian woman, Malaka Mohammed Shwaikh, a Ph.D. student as Exeter University. Shwaikh comes from Gaza, and was understandably furious and distress at the Israeli bombardment of her home. She used very strong words to describe her attitude to Israel, which the CAA twisted to make it appear she was anti-Semites. This was repeated in the press, including Mail and the Express. The university’s student guild investigated the claim, found it was false. Shwaikh was exonerated, and the press, including the Heil and Depress, had to issue corrections.

The other example is Jackie Walker. The CAA claimed that she had asked if Hitler could be blamed for the Holocaust. In fact, she said no such thing, but was just repeating a quote from Nahum Goldman, the President of the World Jewish Congress and the Zionist Organisation. And Goldman himself had been quoting the former Israeli president, David Ben Gurion.

Greenstein then goes on to show the immense hypocrisy of the CAA and the press repeating its lies in its treatment of headlines about the Jewish American banker, George Soros. The newspapers ran stories about Soros claiming that he was manipulating British politics. This is close to the anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish bankers controlling world politics. It’s the myth that the CAA and its fellows claimed Mike was repeating when he described the attempts by the former Israeli embassy official, Shai Masot, to interfere in British politics as a conspiracy. But it’s one rule for the CAA and quite another for everybody else.

Greenstein also discusses how the CAA has written 200 odd articles attacking Jeremy Corbyn for supposedly backing anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. Which is another gross libel. And it is also massively Islamophobic. It has smeared Britain’s Muslims by claiming that they are more likely than anyone else to be anti-Semitic. Among its patrons is the notorious Tory islamophobe Bob Blackman, who caused a storm by posting some highly offensive posts expressing his hatred of Islam and Muslims.

He also has this to say about the extreme right-wing views of the former head of the Charity Commission, William Shawcross.

The Charity Commission has, until recently, been Chaired by the Islamaphobe and right-wing bigot William Shawcross. Shawcross was an ex-Director of the cold war Henry Jackson Society and he was reported in the Guardian as having said in 2012 that ‘Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future”. The CAA, in response to a petition calling on the Charity Commission to deregister them tried to intimidate Change.org into taking the petition down (they failed!).

He continues

This has however got to be the beginning of the campaign to remove this political cancer. The CAA needs to be treated as any other racist and fascist organisation. It’s actions against genuinely anti-Semitic individuals are a mask for its real purpose. It pursues individuals like Alison Chabloz, a complete nonentity with severe personality and mental health problems, whilst refraining from criticising any anti-Semitic organisation that is pro-Israel. When the Tory newspapers launched a campaign against George Soros, using the traditional anti-Semitic meme that he was an international Jewish financier who was trying to ensure that Britain remained subject to the control of ‘global interests’, the CAA exonerated them. It’s headline was: ‘Today’s article in the Daily Telegraph about George Soros’ intervention in British politics is not antisemitic, but editors chose their headline poorly. Yes quite. And its reaction to the Sun’s ‘Puppet Masters’ headline? There wasn’t one!

And concludes his article by urging his readers to reblog his article, and urges people to email the current of the Charity Commission, Ms Grenfell, to make their views known regarding the Commission’s inactivity to date to act against the CAA.

http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/over-5000-people-sign-petition-saying.html

Greenstein is himself Jewish, like so many of the other people the CAA and their fellows have smeared as an anti-Semite. The number, who’ve signed the petition is low. It’s about the same number of people, who signed a petition calling on Tony Blair to stand on his head and spin in the early part of this century. But it also shows that a growing number of people are becoming aware of how fraudulent and politically motivated the CAA’s claims of anti-Semitism are. And the more people they smear, the more this number are going to grow, despite the efforts of the right-wing press to try and back them up.