Posts Tagged ‘Bush’

Norman Finkelstein on the Coming Break-Up of American Zionism: Part 1

May 28, 2016

I’ve put up several videos recently criticising Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and examining the growing disconnection – ‘distancing’, in the jargon of the sociologists who’ve studied it – of young American Jews with Israel. The speakers in these videos have included the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, and the American historians and activists Norman Finkelstein and Elizabeth Baltzer, both of whom are descended from Holocaust survivors. As I’ve made clear in previous posts, I’ve been prompted to do this because of the smears against leading members of the Labour party – Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah and Jackie Walker, amongst others, of anti-Semitism. Those accused are not to my knowledge anti-Semites. The above three certainly aren’t. Leninspart in his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, states quite clearly that all forms of racism, whether against Blacks, Jews or the Irish, is the worst form of reaction, and needs to be opposed. Naz Shah has the support of her local synagogue, which would be highly unusual if she were a Nazi. And the accusation is both risible and disgusting in the case of Jackie Walker. Walker’s mother was a Black woman, who was thrown out of America because of her participation in the civil rights movement. Her father was a Russian Jew, and her partner is also Jewish. These people haven’t been accused of anti-Semitism because they are Jew-haters. They’ve been accused of anti-Semitism simply because they’ve criticised Israel for its persecution of the Palestinians. Walker was accused because she compared Black slavery to the Holocaust in a conversation with two friends, one of whom was also Jewish, on Facebook. This comment was lifted and turned against her by a pro-Israel group.

One of the things than comes out very clearly from this talk by Prof Finkelstein is that in America such accusations are wearing very thin. They don’t impress large numbers of American Jews, who can see through all the BS when it’s applied to genuinely liberal, decent politicians. An example of this is Jimmy Carter. Carter was accused of being an anti-Semite because he wrote a book about Israel with ‘Apartheid’ in the title. So the leading members of the Israel lobby, like Alan Dershowitz, began to smear him in the vilest terms imaginable. He was an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, and a supporter of terrorism. It was the kind of invective Stalin’s prosecutor, Vyshinsky, used against the victims of the purges during the show trials. Carter, who organised the Camp David peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt in the 1970s, then decided to take the battle to the Neo-Cons. He arranged a debate with Dershowitz at Brandeis University, the largest secular Jewish university in the US. Carter described it as ‘going into the lion’s den’. Even before he opened his mouth to speak, he received 3 or 4 standing ovations from the students. When it came to Dershowitz to talk, 2/3 of the students left the lecture hall before Israel’s most vocal defender in the US had even uttered a word.

And there’s more, much more. American Jews are, by and large, very liberal. American liberalism – the rule of law, the separation between church and state and so on, has allowed American Jews to prosper. As a result, the political affiliation of American Jews is almost the complete mirror image of that of Israelis. The majority of Israelis are now right-wing in the political leanings. American Jews are largely left. They also want a two-state solution to the problem of Palestine. And they are also largely opposed to the Iraq invasion. Finkelstein makes the point that American Jews were largely uninterested or opposed to the foundation of Israel, because they were afraid that it would lead to the accusation that they were more loyal to the new Jewish state than they were to their homeland of America. They seem fear of being seen as somehow treacherous, as less than patriotic, as well as other, liberal feelings and attitudes, has led them to reject both George Bush and the war in Iraq. The Israelis by and large love George Dubya. American Jews generally despise the Smirking Chimp. And 70 per cent of American Jews are opposed to the war in Iraq. This is partly out of a desire not to be seen as its authors, as the war was planned by the Republicans in America, and Israel’s Likud party.

Finkelstein also states that Americans, including American Jews, are becoming increasingly less impressed with evocations of the Holocaust. It’s been overused so much that it’s actually lost its proper emotional impact. Finkelstein discussed how rhetoric about the Holocaust was used by Netanyahu and the Israeli government to drum up support for a war with Iran over the country’s nuclear weapon’s development programme. Netanyahu repeatedly described Ahmedinijad as Hitler, and said that if the Iranians developed these weapons, it would lead to a new Holocaust in the Middle East with the destruction of Israel. Those trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Iranians were denounced as appeasers, and compared to Neville Chamberlain at Munich. And the attitude of American Jews to this was marked indifference. In a survey of Jewish Americans under 35, it was found that fifty per cent said it would not affect them if Israel was destroyed. Finkelstein himself says he is somewhat dismayed by this figure, as the destruction of any country or culture saddens him. And American Jews tend to share the rest of the world’s fears, as expressed in opinion polls, that Israel is the real threat to world peace.

Finkelstein begins his talk by discussing how American Jews were extremely uninterested in Israel in the period from 1948 – it’s foundation – to the 1967 War. He states that this was a period in which the barriers to Jewish advancement in America suddenly came down. Many institutions before 1948 would not employ Jewish scholars. He quotes Noam Chomsky as saying that the reason why MIT became such a centre of scientific excellence over Harvard, was because Harvard would not take Jewish scientists and mathematicians. So they all trooped down the road to take up positions there. As the barrier fells, Jews became far more involved in making successful lives, and living the America dream.

As a result of this, they had extremely little interest in Israel. Finkelstein quotes the great American sociologist, Glazer, whose 1957 study of the attitude of American Jews and Jewish life found that the impact of Israel on American Jewry was remarkable slight. He also discusses a survey of 30 leading American Jewish intellectuals at an academic symposium, who were asked about the situation of American Jews. Only three of them even mentioned Israel, and of those three, two only did so in order to dismiss it as of any importance. He also quotes an interview in Israel with the celebrated author, Elie Wiesel. At the time there was a fear that Jews were becoming too assimilated, and Wiesel was asked how Jews could be made to reconnect with their Jewishness. Wiesel talked about the Holocaust and the situation of the Jews in Russia. But he did not see Israel as having any use in this process.

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Cameron Wins Vote to Bomb Syria

December 3, 2015

Okay, Cameron’s finally got his way, and MPS have voted by something like a majority of 179 to bomb Syria. Mike and very many other bloggers, activists and journalists have repeatedly stated that this will not make Britain safe, or end the tyranny of ISIS in Syria. My fear is that it will only play into their hands. By killing civilians – innocent men, women and children, who just happen to live in the enclaves taken over by the Islamist State – we will just increase radicalisation by seeming to bear out ISIS’ claim that they are really the defenders of Muslims and Islam against Western aggression, while everything is the complete opposite.

Cameron has been so desperate to join the ten other countries in bombing Syria, that he libelled Corbyn, and the rest of the opponents of bombing, as ‘terrorist sympathisers’. This also includes the 65 or so members of his own party, who held fast to their opposition to Blairite wars and voted against it.

Mike’s written an excellent piece taking apart Cameron’s slander here, at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/02/tis-the-season-to-be-jolly-cameron-insults-half-the-uk-slanders-mps-in-eagerness-to-bomb-syria/.

He also produced this little meme, showing how closely his rhetoric resembles the tactics used by Hermann Goering and the Nazis to whip up popular enthusiasm in Germany for war.

Goering War and Pacifism

Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. This will not keep us safe, and it will be used by ISIS and their sympathisers to radicalise young and disaffected Muslims. The Iraq invasion was supposed to keep us safe from al-Qaeda. It has done everything but. The country has been seriously destabilised and is riven by sectarian fighting, out of which has come ISIS. And the Islamists have also used the war to promote themselves as Islam’s true defenders. Various radical Islamic groups have declared that the war was ‘a war on Islam’ or a ‘war on Muslims’.

This simply wasn’t true, except in the limited sense that it was supposed to be part of the war against al-Qaeda and Islamism, Islam as practiced and distorted by murderous fanatics. Even George Bush, who authorised and promoted it, denied that it was a war on Islam. Indeed, parts of the Christian Right in America were angry that Bush refused to let certain Christian charities and organisations in to help in the work of reconstruction, or to try to gain converts after the invasion.

Greg Palast in his book, Armed Madhouse, makes it very clear that the reasons were chiefly economic: the Libertarians wanted to create a free market utopia, where they could try out their stupid and fallacious ideas of transforming the country into a low tax, free trade zone. And the American and Saudi oil companies simply wanted to steal the country’s large oil reserves. There were also geopolitical considerations. Back in the 1990s, the Repugs in America and the Likud in Israel planned an invasion of Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein supplying arms and other aid to the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, the Islamist claim does have a kind of specious validity due to the very vocal support of some Republicans, who do seem to see it as part of a general campaign against Islam, and who make little difference between ordinary Muslims and violent extremists. You can bet that their words will be used in Islamist propaganda.

I can remember reading Akhthar’s article, Be Careful with Mohammed, back in the 1990s during the controversy over Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Akhthar was one of the leaders of the groups demanding the book’s suppression. The article is basically one long rant against Christianity, democracy, and western society in general. There were other pieces written by Muslims explaining why they found it offensive and arguing for its banning, which took a much more conciliatory approach to wider, non-Muslim society. Akhthar’s book wasn’t one of them. At the end was a short appendix with the title, ‘What Western Intellectuals Think About Islam’. This consisted of a series of quotes from leading western intellectual figures criticising or denouncing Islam. These were presented in isolation, and without any context. They were deliberately included to try and persuade his readers that western society and its leaders uniformly despised Islam, and that they should stop listening to them and support him and his clique as the Prophet’s righteous defenders.

From what I remember of the quotes, some of them were probably responses to atrocities committed in the name of Islam by terrorist groups or despotic states like Gadaffi’s Libya or Iran. Or Saudi Arabia. Regardless of their original context, Akhthar cited them purely for his own political, radical Islamic agenda. Now I don’t recall Akhthar himself demanding Muslims take part in a terror campaign. He was simply trying to make his Muslim audience hate non-Muslim, mainstream British society, and create further alienation and disaffection. I think it’s because of this, and similar radical Islamic propaganda, that the term ‘Islamism’ was devised: to make a distinction between Islam and the terrorists. This was to protect ordinary Muslims on the one hand, and prevent the words uttered by politicians and other public figures on the other being twisted to add specious verisimilitude to the Islamists’ own propaganda. The anti-Islamic Right have also criticised Western intellectuals and political leaders for not criticising or denouncing Islam in the wake of successive terrorist attacks, as they do not share the belief that there is a difference between Islam and Islamism. Indeed, they are extremely critical of the use of the term, and the promotion of the distinction between the two.

Unfortunately, even such linguistic delicacy has not prevented the growth of Islamist terror, intolerance and murder. Part of the reasons for the growth has been the continued military campaigns by the West in Iraq and the Middle East. I am not saying by any means that we should not strike back against ISIS with our armed forces. I am saying that we need to be extremely careful to avoid playing into their hands. And I’m afraid that Cameron and the supporters of the bombing campaign against Syria have just done so.

Private Eye on Obama’s and Cameron’s Impatience with UN Weapons Inspectors

September 6, 2013

This fortnight’s Private Eye (6th-19th September 2013)in its ‘HP Sauce’ section has a piece on the reasons Cameron and Obama have demanded that the UN weapons inspectors leave Syria so that they can begin bombing. According to the Eye, this is because the inspectors keep showing their claims of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction to be bogus. In 2003, for example, the Bush administration advised the inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to leave Iraq so that they could commence the invasion. American and British intelligence had claimed that Saddam Hussein was importing uranium from Africa. The IAEA, however, demonstrated that the documents supporting this claim, the so-called ‘Niger Forgeries’, were indeed fake. Nearly a decade earlier, the Sunday Times ran a series of stories stating that Khidir Hamza, an Iraqi nuclear scientist, had tried to defect with proof that Hussein was building nuclear weapons. The Foreign Office believed that the evidence presented by Hamza was credible, and supported the hard line the government was taking with Hussein’s regime. This was again demolished by the IAEA, who showed that these documents were also forgeries. This important fact was not reported to the press, and Hamza went on to concoct even more fake stories of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in the time preceding Bush’s invasion of Iraq. As a result, Britain and the US had Mohamed ElBaradei removed as head of the IAEA because of his independence, and continued to spy on the Agency. The Eye concludes ‘It seems much less likely that UN inspectors will contradict British assertions on Assad’s use of chemical weapons. But it looks as if Obama and Cameron can’t deal with an independent voice on Syrian war, as controlling both what is said and when it is said are crucial to building the shaky consensus for an attack’. In other words, Obama and Cameron are acting as totalitarian dictators in demanding absolute control of information in support of an invasion of independent country for their own ends. Just like Hitler and Stalin.

And just to remind people of the special relationship between Blair and Bush that allowed the Coalition to invade Iraq, here’s the video parody made for the Electic Six song, ‘Gay Bar’.

Sparaszczukster and Global Research: Did Britain Plan Chemical Weapon Attack in Syria

September 4, 2013

Sparaszczukster has collected a number of fascinating and very important pieces analysing and criticising the planned attack on Syria over on her blog, Granny’s Last Mix. One of the most significant, and if true, explosive pieces is an article from Global Research discussing a Daily Mail article, now vanished into the electronic ether. This article reported that a British arms company, Britam, had approached the American government about the possibility of using poison gas as a false flag operation to provide a pretext for military action against Syria. This article is at http://sparaszczukster.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/britains-daily-mail-u-s-backed-plan-to-launch-chemical-weapon-attack-on-syria/.

She has also found and linked to another piece on roughly the same subject by Global Research, ‘Did the White House Help Plan the Chemical Weapons Attack?’ This piece is on her website at http://sparaszczukster.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/did-the-white-house-help-plan-the-syrian-chemical-attack/.

She has also reblogged two pieces from the Real News website strongly arguing against military action in Syria. They’re at http://sparaszczukster.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/two-views-on-syria-twelve-months-apart-with-same-message-no-to-military-action/.

These pieces are important reading. If correct, and not ‘Troofer’ propaganda, the two pieces by Global Research show that Parliament, and the British and American peoples are being lied to by their governments in the same way Bush and Blair lied to justify the invasion of Iraq. Worse, they show that the British and American military-industrial complex has engaged in the mass murder of innocents to provide a pretext for more bloodshed. This is a crime against humanity for which the perpetrators should be tried and judged in the Hague, along with the other squalid mass murderers. You’ll have to make up your own minds about this evidence, though unfortunately I can well believe it. Please read it before our governments demand we start attacking Syria again.

Cameron’s Campaign against Syria: Two Quotes from 19th Century Germany

September 3, 2013

I found these quotes from two of the great figures of 19th century Germany, the Prussian minister and statesman Bismarck, and the prophet of atheism, Friedrich Nietzsche.

‘From this window I look down upon the Wilhelmstrasse and see many a cripple look up and think that if that man up there had not made that wicked war I should be at home healthy and strong.’

– Bismarck, reflecting on the soldiers, who came back maimed from his wars.

‘They say I good cause justifies any war, but I say unto you, a good war justifies any cause’.

-Friedrich Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra.

It strikes me very hard that the Coalition are hoping that their calls for action against Syria and a military strike against it, would allow them to ride a surge of patriotism and increase their popularity. As the vote against it and mass demonstrations proved, the public and their elected representatives are extremely cautious and opposed to further military intervention in the Middle East. This is due to the revelations of forged intelligence and sheer propaganda to justify the invasion of Iraq by Bush and Blair, the sight of the coffins of fallen soldiers coming back to Britain through Wotton Bassett and the return of often horrifically maimed and traumatised troopers from Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve also no doubt that a considerable number of the British public are also concerned about what other taxes will be imposed, and services cut, on the pretext of paying for this new military adventure. The countries that were expect to flourish into mature, liberal democracies in the Arab Spring now have either Islamic, theocratic governments, or are falling into chaos, like Egypt. And after all of this, still Cameron and the Coalition push for further action in the Middle East.