Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Ilan Pappe’s Demolition of the Myths of Modern Israel and Its Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinians

March 28, 2019

 

Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths About Israel (London: Verso 2017)

Ilan Pappe is an Israeli historian and activist, who has extensively researched and documented Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from its foundation in 1948 till today. Because of this, he was subjected to abuse and academic censure by the authorities and his university. He now teaches, I believe, at Exeter University. He has been a signatory of several of the letters from academics and leading members of the Jewish community defending Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters from the charges of anti-Semitism.

This book tackles the ten myths Pappe identifies as central to the history of modern Israel and its continuing dispossession of its indigenous people. The blurb for the book states

In this groundbreaking book, published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Occupation, the outspoken and radical Israeli historian Ilan Pappe examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel.

The “ten myths” that Pappe explores – repeated endlessly in the media, enforced by the military, accepted without question by the world’s governments – reinforce the region status quo. He explores the claims that Palestine was an empty land at the time of the Balfour Declaration, as well as the formation of Zionism and its role in the early decades of nation building. He asks whether the Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948, and whether June 1967 was a war of “no choice”. Turning to the myths surrounding the failure of the Camp David Accords and the official reasons for the attacks on Gaza, Pappe explains why the two-state solution is no longer viable. 

The book is divided into three parts. Part 11, ‘Fallacies of the Past’, contains the following chapters attacking these particular myths.

  1. Palestine was an empty land.
  2. The Jews were a people without a land.
  3. Zionism is Judaism.
  4. Zionism is not colonialism.
  5. The Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948.
  6. The June 1967 War was a war of no choice.

Part II, ‘Fallacies of the Present’, has the following

7. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.

8. The Oslo mythologies.

9. The Gaza mythologies.

Part III ‘Looking Ahead’

10. The two-states solution is the only way forward.

Conclusion: The Settler Colonial state of Israel in the 21st First century.

There’s also a timeline of Israeli/Zionist history from the 1881 pogroms in the Russian Empire to 2015 and the fourth Netanyahu government.

This is a short book, the actual text taking up 153 pages. Although it is properly documented with notes and index, it’s clearly written and seems to be aimed the general reader, rather than an exclusively academic audience. Much of it will be familiar to readers of the blogs of the great Jewish critics and activists against Zionist racism, like Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and David Rosenberg. He points out, for example, that Zionism was a minority movement amongst Jews before 1948, and that it was preceded by Christian Zionism, which wished to see the Jews return to Israel in order to hasten Christ’s return to Earth and the End Times, as well as more immediate religious and geopolitical goals. Some hoped that the Jews would convert to Christianity, while others, like Palmerston, believed that a western Jewish presence in the Holy Land would help shore up the decaying Ottoman Empire. Others associated it with restoring the glory of the Crusades. Most Jews at the time, however, were much more eager to remain in the countries of their birth. For Reform Jews and the Socialists of the Bund, this meant fighting for equality as fellow citizens and adopting wider European secular culture to a greater or lesser extent so that they could fully participate in the new societies from the Enlightenment onwards. So determined were they to do so, that Reform Judaism removed altogether references from their services to the return to Israel. They also rejected the idea of a Jewish state because they felt its establishment would cast doubt on their loyalties to their mother countries as proper English or Germans. Orthodox Judaism remained far more conservative, rejecting the Enlightenment, but still determined to remain in their traditional homelands because Israel could only be restored through divine will by the Messiah. Until he came, it was their religious duty to wait out their exile.

Nor was Palestine remotely empty, despite the Zionists maintaining that it was – ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’, as the Zionist maxim ran. 18th and 19th century European travelers noted that Palestine was very definitely occupied, and that ten per cent of its population was Jewish. Zionist settlers there found to their shock and discomfort that there were Arabs there, with whom they were going to have to live. And that these Arabs weren’t like them. Which shouldn’t really be surprising. However marginalised eastern European Jews were, they were still part of European society and so were bound to have certain aspects of their culture in common with other Europeans. As for the Palestinians themselves, they were perfectly willing to provide shelter and help to the early Jewish settlers when it seemed that they were simply migrants, who were not intending to colonise and displace them. They only became hostile, ultimately turning to violence, when it became clear just what the Zionists’ intentions towards them were. Pappe also points out that at the time the first Zionist communities were being founded, Palestinian society was undergoing its second wave of nationalism. The first was the general wave of Arab nationalism from the 19th century onwards, as the Arabs became conscious of themselves as a distinct people with the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire. The second was when the individual Arab nations, such as Syria and Egypt, became conscious of themselves and began demanding their separate independence. And these new, emerging Arab nations included Palestine.

The book also shows how Zionism is colonialism through comparing Israel with other White nations, like those of  North and South America, New Zealand and so on, where the indigenous people were massacred and their land seized for White colonisation. He  then shows how Zionist leaders such as David Ben-Gurion had planned in 1948 to cleanse what they could of the Israel state they were creating of its Arab population in order to ensure that Jews were in the majority. Thus Palestinian towns and villages were razed and their people massacred. At the same time, the Israelis spread propaganda that the Palestinians had somehow voluntarily left their homes, rather than fled. He also argues that the Israeli government was determined to exploit diplomatic and military tensions with Nasser’s Egypt and Syria in 1967 in order to manufacture a war that would allow them to seize the West Bank and the holy places of west Jerusalem, with their rich archaeological sites. Pappe shows that, whatever their composion, whether Labour, Likud, or, as in 1967, a coalition of parties across the Israeli political spectrum, successive Israeli government have pursued a policy of securing the greatest amount of land for Israel with the least amount of Palestinians. This has meant redrawing and redefining the boundaries of what is Jewish territory, with the intention of forcing the Palestinians into minuscule cantons or bantustans, to use the word applied to similar settlements in apartheid South Africa. The Palestinians were to have some autonomy within them, but only if the acted as Israel’s peacekeeper within those territories. This was the real intention of the Oslo Peace Process, which was unacceptable to Yasser Arafat and the Arab leadership because far from improving conditions for the Palestinians, it actually made them much worse. It was a deal that the Palestinians could not accept, hence the breakdown of the talks and the eruption of the Second Intifada.

Pappe describes the Israeli attacks on Gaza as an ‘incremental genocide’. He states that he has been reluctant to call it thus, because it’s a very loaded term, but can find no other way to reasonably describe it. Each stage begins with a Palestinian rocket attack, which kills very few Israelis, if any. The Israelis then launch massive counterattacks, killing hundreds, with names like ‘Summer Rains’, ‘Autumn Rains’, and then ‘Operation Cast lead’, which the Israelis claim are just reprisals against Palestinian terrorism. The goal is supposed to be the removal of the Hamas government in Gaza. While Hamas are an Islamic organisation, they were democratically elected and their rise was initially aided by Israel, who believed that the real threat to their security was the secular, nationalist Fatah.

The chapter arguing against Israel as a democracy shows that it cannot justly be considered such given the apartheid system that dispossesses and marginalises the Palestinians. Part of this apartheid is based on willingness or suitability for military service. Rather like the future Earth of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, civil rights are connected with national service. The Israelis disbar the Palestinians from serving in the armed forces on the grounds that the Palestinians would be unwilling to join them. But even here the Palestinians do the unexpected: a majority of them have shown themselves willing in a poll to join the Israeli army.

Pappe considers that the two-state solution, as a realistic solution to the Palestinian crisis, is near its end. Its only real purpose was to give the Israelis a justification for seizing the most land while dispossessing the indigenous people, who lived there. It will eventually fall, one way or another, because the Israelis are determined to colonise the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. He also makes the point that no discussion of the issue of human rights in the Middle East, in nations like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, for example, can be complete without including the 100 year long persecution of the Palestinians. At the same time, the West allowed Israel to emerge as a settler colonial state, at a time when settler-colonialism was being abandoned, partly out of guilt over the Holocaust. Germany in particular contributed a large amount of funding to the new state. But the foundation of Israel hasn’t solved the problem of anti-Semitism, only increased it. The discrediting of the ten major myths about Israel should ensure better justice for the Palestinians, and a fitting, proper end to the legacy of the Holocaust.

It’s a very effective demolition of the myths Israel uses and exploits to support its own existence and its policies towards the Palestinians. For example, Israel claims that its occupation of the West Bank is only temporary, while the facts on the ground amply demonstrate that it intends to be there permanently. Pappe is also extremely critical about the use of the Bible and archaeology to justify Israel’s occupation of Palestine. He seems to support the Biblical minimalists assessment that the Bible isn’t a reliable source of historical information. I don’t think this can be reasonably maintained, as while archaeology can’t be used to establish whether some episodes in the Bible are historically true, it does seem clear that ancient Israel undoubtedly existed, at least after the Exile and probably before then. But he certainly raises proper moral questions about the use of archaeology to justify the removal of Palestinian communities and their transformation into Israeli settlements on the grounds that they are really ancient Israelite towns and villages.

Pappe has always maintained that his countrymen are decent people, who just need the situation properly explained to them. He attempted to do this himself by holding open evenings at his home every Thursday night, in the Israeli village in which he lived. During these evenings anyone could come to his home and ask him what was really going on. These evenings eventually grew to such an extent that, despite the real anger and hostility against him by the academic and political establishment, he had 30-40 people in his front room. In the book he also properly pays tribute to the courage and determination of those Israelis, who are determined to challenge their country’s attacks on the Palestinians. If there is to be hope for the Palestinians, then they should surely play a part on the Israeli side.

I don’t know if there will ever be proper justice for the Palestinians. The Israel lobby has shown itself to be determined and expert at the demonisation of its opponents here in the West. That’s been shown in the recent expulsions of prinicipled anti-Zionists and anti-racists like Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Mike and now Jackie Walker on trumped up charges of ‘anti-Semitism’ from the Labour Party. But there are signs that the Israel lobby is losing its grip. They’re turning from Jews to Christian Evangelicals in America for support, while Ireland has recently passed legislation supporting the BDS movement. These are signs for hope. But the process will be long and difficult. This book, however, helps provide the means by which more people can fight back against Israeli and establishment propaganda to support a proper peace with justice, dignity and proper autonomy for Jews and Palestinians in a single state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Museum Exhibition on Anti-Semitism Pushes Anti-Labour, Pro-Israel Smears

March 14, 2019

Tuesday’s I, for 12th March 2019, featured a review by Etan Smallman of a new exhibition on anti-Semitism at the Jewish Museum in London. This included comments from the Museum’s director, Abigail Morris, and Deborah Lipstadt, the professor of Jewish history at Emory University in America and the author of Anti-Semitism: Here and Now. Lipstadt is best known as the American academic, who exposed David Irving as a holocaust denier and falsifier of history in court in the 1990s. This was portrayed in the 2016 film, Denial, in which she was played by Rachel Weisz.

Most of the exhibition seems uncontroversial, as it looks at the anti-Semitic depictions of Jews as money-grubbing, and the history of medieval anti-Semitism. The exhibition shows board games depicting Jews as grasping, including one which the song-writer Steven Sondheim said taught people to be anti-Semitic. It covers notorious events in English history, such as the York pogrom of 1190, stating that England was the first country to expel Jews. It also covers how the Roman Catholic church only renounced the idea that the Jews killed Christ in 1965, and notes how, in depictions of Judas Iscariot, he is given stereotypically Jewish features while Christ and the other disciples, who were also Jews, were not. It also discusses Fagin in Dickens’ Oliver Twist, and shows Yugoslav Nazi poster depicting Jews as the forces behind both capitalism and communism.

However, the Museum also seems to be promoting the lie that the Labour party under Corbyn is acutely anti-Semitic. It also tries to rule out inquiring about Israeli funding for particular political groups by claiming that this is also anti-Semitic. And it hails liar and internet bully Rachel Riley as some kind of heroine in the fight against anti-Semitism.

The article states

More recently, Labour has been mired in cases of anti-Semitism, culminating in Luciana Berger resigning from the party last month. Six people, including two from the left, have been convicted of race hate against the Jewish MP for Liverpool Wavertree.

Lipstadt describes the situation as “unprecedented”. “We’ve never seen anything as institutionalised in a Western democracy as we’re now seeing in the Labour party.”

A party spokesman said it “takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms”.

Before we go any further, let’s critique this little piece. First of all, of those convicted of race hate against Berger, only two were from the left. And what does ‘from the Left’ actually mean? Were they members of the Labour party? The article doesn’t say, so I would think they actually weren’t. And the incidence of anti-Semitism in the Labour party is belied by the stats. Looking at the statistics, only 0.O8 per cent of Labour party members have been suspended or expelled for anti-Semitism. And even there, the stats are unreliable because many of those charges, such as against Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and Mike Sivier, were utterly false. In fact anti-Semitism has actually gone down under Corbyn, and is less than in the rest of British society.

But the article continues

In the vanguard of the online battle against the anti-Semites is the unlikely figure of Countdown’s numbers expert Rachel Riley, who has responded to a wave of abuse by coining the hashtag #BeLouder. 

Yes, this is the same Rachel Riley, who accused a sixteen year old school girl with anxiety problems and her father of being anti-Semites, got her followers to dogpile on to them, and threatens anyone who points out how false and libelous her accusations are with litigation.

The article then continues to quote a spox for the pro-Israel paramilitary vigilante group, the Community Security Trust.

The “dilemma”, however, according to Mark Gardner, of the Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors anti-Semitism, is that increased media coverage of anti-Semitism results in a spike in reports of hate crimes against Jews.

Except that the stats collected by the CST and its companion race hate organisation, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, can’t be trusted. They exist to spread fear that anti-Semitism is spreading, and so inflate the statistics. To the extent that one of the two organisations declared that anti-Semitism had risen by 1,697 per cent in Wiltshire! Tony Greenstein has published many pieces destroying these organisations’ highly manipulated statistics. As for the CST itself, it’s a vigilante force supposedly formed to protect Jews from assault. It’s trained by former members of Mossad, and is not averse to thuggery itself. Greenstein in one piece described some of the assaults its members had carried out stewarding Zionist rallies. And it’s a long, ugly list, which includes women, the elderly and even non-Zionist rabbis. And, of course, at one such rally they separated Muslims from Jews by force. All this was done while the police stood and watched, but did not intervene. See Greenstein’s article at

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/03/manipulating-antisemitism-statistics.html

The article goes on

Lipstadt is resolute that it needs to be condemned wherever it is found, “not just because of Jews”, but because “anti-Semitism is a classic conspiracy theory. If you have increasing numbers who believe, ‘Aha! The Jews are being paid to do this’, ‘The Jews are doing this all because of Israel’, they’re going to believe conspiracies about everything else.”

This isn’t entirely wrong, as along with the classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Jews there is a tendency to try to fit other daft conspiracies into the pattern, like reptoid aliens. But it is absolutely not anti-Semitic to point out that Israel is the force behind some actions. Shai Masot, an official at the Israeli embassy, was filmed conspiring to have Alan Duncan removed from the Tory cabinet. And the Israeli government does have a special department, the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Elon, to spread smears that Israel’s critics and opponents are anti-Semitic.

The article then goes to say that there is a problem tackling anti-Semitism because Jews are perceived as rich, and because they’re White. It then quotes Gardner as saying that being careful to use the word “Zionist” rather than “Jew” is no defence if you are still indulging in age-old anti-Jewish imagery, nor does being Jewish yourself inoculate you from perpetuating anti-Semitism.

But as we’ve seen, the concept of what counts as an anti-Semitic trope is so wide, that it’s used to silence people, who aren’t actually talking about the Jews as a whole, and who are factually correct. As Mike was when he talked about Masot’s conspiracy at the Israeli embassy. As for Jews also being guilty of anti-Semitism, we’ve seen how that accusation has been used against decent, self-respecting secular and Torah observant Jews like Walker, Greenstein, Martin Odoni and countless others.

And while some genuine anti-Semites hide their Jew-hatred behind rhetoric about Zionism, those criticising Zionism mean exactly that when they talk about it. They aren’t talking about the Jews.

The article concludes with Morris saying that she hopes the exhibition will get non-Jews to understand why Jews are so worried, and will contradict the perception that they’re overreacting. She says

I hope we can explain why it’s so serious – because we know where this kind of thing can lead.

So what is Morris claiming? That Corbyn and his supporters are going to hold torch-light processions and start pogroms, ending in the establishment of new concentration and death camps? They aren’t. Corbyn and his supporters are actually the least racist, and are determined opponents of anti-Semitism. But the Israel lobby fears and despises him and them because he also stands up for the Palestinians. Hence the panic. And as Norman Finkelstein, another Jewish American professor has observed, Israel and its lobby have always responded to their critics by smearing them as anti-Semites.

And this seems to be the real purpose of the exhibition, and to make the smear seem all the more compelling by putting it in the context of genuine anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred. I am very disappointed that the Jewish Museum has done this, and that Professor Lipstadt has been involved in it. I’ve never been in the Museum, but I can remember watching with great interest one of the antiques programmes on TV, which had a brief piece about it. They showed some of the priceless artifacts of Jewish history, including a Bible published in 17th century Italy, and the tokens Orthodox Jews used to pay their donations to the synagogue, as their religion forbids them from handling money on the Sabbath. This exhibition and the involvement of a respected academic like Lipstadt will reinforce the lie that criticism of Israel, and questioning Israel’s involvement in British politics, is anti-Semitic. A large section of the Jewish community strongly disagrees.

But the Museum and Lipstadt clearly represent the Zionist establishment, who are doing everything they can to stoke fear amongst the Jewish community by smearing any and all criticism of Israel, however, reasonable, as anti-Semitism, and then associating those smeared with real Nazis. Morris and Lipstadt should be ashamed they are complicit in this.

Uri Avnery on Trump and Israel’s Anti-Semitic Zionists

May 9, 2017

The accusation that Ken Livingstone is a anti-Semite is partly based on his historically accurate statement that there was initially an agreement between the Zionists, or at least, some of them, and the Nazi party, to take Jews out of Nazi Germany and smuggle them into Palestine, then under the British Mandate. This was when sections of the Nazis didn’t care where Jews went, so long as they weren’t in Germany. It’s the Haavara agreement, and is recorded fact. There is an entry for it on the website of the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Israel. The agreement didn’t last very long. Nevertheless, it existed. And at the end of last year, Uri Avnery, an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom, wrote a piece in Counterpunch describing other collaborations between Zionists and anti-Semites.

His article was a response to Netanyahu’s reaction to a UN motion condemning Israel for its expansionism and maltreatment of the Palestinians. The UN had attempted to have similar motions passed many times before, but had been blocked by the US, using its veto. This time Barack Obama had not blocked it, and the motion had passed.

Netanyahu was furious. He withdrew Israeli ambassadors from Senegal and New Zealand, nations that have always been friend to Israel, called in foreign ambassadors to upbraid them, and generally ranted and raved.

Avnery states that while it was monumentally stupid on a diplomatic level, it was a very astute move domestically. It allowed Netanyahu to present himself as the virtuous defender of his nation, another David pitted against the Goliath of the UN. He makes the point that Jews and Israelis have taken a perverse satisfaction from the rest of the world’s opposition to them. In his view

For some reason, Jews derive satisfaction from a world-wide condemnation. It affirms what we have known all the time: that all the nations of the world hate us. It shows how special and superior we are. It has nothing to do with our own behavior, God forbid. It is just pure anti-Semitism.

As an example of this bizarre mentality, back in the days of Golda Meir one of the Israeli army’s dance band used to play a tune with the lyrics ‘The whole world is against us/ But we don’t give a damn…’

He goes on to say that the establishment of the state of Israel was supposed to put an end to this, by making Israel a normal country. But it hasn’t. He goes on to observe how Donald Trump has sent a rabidly right-wing Jewish American to Israel as his representative, a man so right-wing he makes Netanyahu seem liberal, while also appointing as one of his closest aides an anti-Semitic White racist. He states that Trump can support both anti-Semites and Zionists simultaneously as both have the same goal of taking Jews out of their historic homelands and relocating them in Israel.

He states that Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, tried the same tactic with the anti-Semites of Tsarist Russia. Herzl offered to persuade the Jews to emigrate, if the Russians helped them. This was during the horrific pogroms of the late 19th century. it didn’t quite work as Herzl wanted, as the Jewish emigrants largely went to America, not Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire.

He also gives as an example of such anti-Semitic Zionism the British and American evangelicals, who preached that the Jews should return to Israel. This was before the foundation of the Zionist movement proper, though he suggests it may have served as one of the inspirations for it. These evangelicals did so in the belief that the return of the Jews to their ancestral homeland would result in the Second Coming of Christ. This would be followed by the conversion of a minority of Jews to Christianity. Those, who did not convert, would be destroyed.

Later other members of the Zionist movement cooperated with anti-Semites in Poland and Nazi-occupied Europe. 1939 the extreme Zionist leader, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky approached the anti-Semitic commanders of the Polish army with a similar deal to the Haavara Agreement. If they took on and trained Jews, the Zionists would send them to Palestine to liberate the country from the British, and the Jews would then leave Poland to emigrate there. This plan collapsed after the Nazi invasion.

During the War, but before the Holocaust, Abraham Stern, the founder of the Irgun, approached Adolf Hitler through an intermediary in neutral Turkey, offering to aid the Nazis against the British. Hitler didn’t reply.

Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer in charge of the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz also attempted to make a number of deals with the Zionists. Eichmann approached Israel Kastner and his group in Budapest. If the allies gave the Nazis a thousand trucks, he would halt the deportations. As a good will gesture, he allowed a few hundred Jews to escape to Switzerland. Kastner sent Yoel Brand as his messenger to the Zionist leadership in Jerusalem. However, he caught by the British and so the deportation and extermination of Hungarian Jews continued.

Netanyahu’s right-wing minister of defence, Avigdor Lieberman, also went berserk at the French plan to convene a meeting to secure a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in Paris. Avnery notes that the French plan was almost identical with one he and his friend published in 1957. Lieberman, however, went off ranting that it was the notorious Dreyfus Affair all over again, referring to the case in which a Jewish officer in the French army was court-martialed and sent to Devil’s Island on trumped up charges motivated by his accuser’s anti-Semitism.

Despite the French offer of a peaceful settlement, the Israelis still want Trump, with the Zionists and anti-Semites in his administration, to support them.

See http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/30/trump-and-israels-anti-semitic-zionists/

Guy Debord’s Cat on the Main Political Parties and the Israel Lobby

October 6, 2016

I’ve been blogging a lot recently about the malign influence of the Israel lobby, and specifically about the its tactics of smearing good men and women as anti-Semites for daring to criticise and expose Israel’s appalling record on human rights and its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. I’d genuinely like to get away from this subject, but it continues to demand my attention as its a persistent issue. Despite most of those accused of anti-Semitism, if not all, now having been cleared and reinstated as members of the Labour party, and Mr Segalov’s recent article in the press defending Momentum from the charges of anti-Semitism, the Israel lobby still carries on smearing decent people, including Jews and committed anti-racists. It erupted earlier this week, when the Jewish Labour Movement contrived to have Jackie Walker dismissed as vice-chair of Momentum because she questioned the exclusive focus of Holocaust Memorial Day at a recent training event on the Jews to the exclusion of the many other peoples that have suffered genocide, and the assumed need for Jewish organisations, including her daughter’s school, for high security.

Mrs Walker is not an anti-Semite. She is the daughter of Black civil rights activist mother and a Russian Jewish father. She has made it clear that when she was earlier smeared as an anti-Semite for the heinous crime of discussing with a Jewish friend on Facebook the participation of some Jews in the slave trade, she was speaking as a Jew. This is exactly like the many other communities and peoples, that are also confronting their participation in this inhuman trade. She is, rather a woman with a critical intellect prepared to ask awkward questions. It is awkward people like her that have done so much to move human civilisation forward. I am pleased to say that she had received messages of support from both Black and Minority Ethnic and Jewish members of Momentum.

Unfortunately, the Israel lobby is extremely powerful. Guy Debord’s Cat posted an article four years ago in 2012, citing and quoting the blog Occupied Palestine, the Guardian and PressTV, on the Zionist organisations within the three main political parties. Not only is there a Labour Friends of Israel, headed by Luke Akehurst, there is also a Conservative Friends of Israel and a similar organisation in the Lib Dems. 80 per cent of Tory MPs are members of the organisation, and from 2010 to the date the article was written the Conservative Friends of Israel spent £30,000 taking more than 24 Tory backbench MPs on trips to Israel and the West Bank. The Guardian notes that Labour Friends of Israel are less unquestioning in their support, but have taken more MPs on trips to Israel than any other party – 60 since 2001.

The Cat begins his post with the rhetorical questions ‘Have you ever wondered why British politicians are so keen to put Israel’s position across in a positive light? Have you ever wondered why Foreign Secretary William Hague went on television and seemed rather biased towards Israel?’ and says Now you know why nothing ever changes. Israel has bought political influence in this country.

See the article at: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2012/11/page/2/

Unfortunately, as it’s untitled, I can’t link directly to it. But scroll down until you reach the post marked November 24. That’s it.

The Cat also comments on the Christian religious reasoning behind some members of these groups’ support for Israel:

I suspect that these “Friends of Israel” see themselves as helping to hasten the Second Coming of Christ (yes, they genuinely believe that Book of Revelations gobbledegook). Of course, the bonehead Zionists can’t see that.

I take issue with the Cat’s dismissal of the Book of Revelations as ‘gobbledegook’, but otherwise agree with the point. The Book of Revelations is a very difficult text for Christians to understand. I was taught at school that you need to read it with a gloss to explain the dense and obscure imagery. One view of the Book, which I believe explains the real meaning of the text, is that it’s largely a coded description of the persecution of Christians during the reign of Nero. If you examine the Number of the Beast, 666, using the gematria, the alphabetical number system of the ancient world, where he letter of the alphabet has a corresponding numerical value, you find that it is the value of the name Neron, the Greek form of Nero, or Qsr Nero, the Syriac for ‘Emperor Nero’. And one of the Roman historians describe Nero’s literal bestial antics, when he was an indolent and bored young aristocrat. He used to dress up as a beast, and wander the streets of Rome at night, attacking people. The Book looks forward to the renewal of the Earth and the general resurrection of the dead at Christ’s second coming, but is not meant as a literal account of the Last Days, as it is supposed by book’s like Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth and the Left Behind series of Christian novels.

I also don’t think the Zionists are quite as boneheaded as the Cat believes in their acceptance of Christian Zionist support. I think that many of them are undoubtedly aware of the theology behind it, and simply don’t care. They’re just happy to exploit it for the support it gives them. I have come across books critiquing and refuting Christian Zionism. I shall probably try and get hold of one of them at one point, because of its importance in promoting Israel and justifying or excusing its crimes both in America and over here in Britain. It’s been pointed out that there are more American Christians, who support Israel, than Jews.

Chris Sterry on the Democratic Need to Prosecute Blair for War Crimes

July 9, 2016

I’m sorry if this seems a bit incestuous, and rather narcissistic, but I thought Chris Sterry’s comment on his reblog of my post from this morning also deserved to be posted over here. Chris Sterry is one of the many great commenters on my blog. This morning I put up a piece about three videos by the American left-wing comedian Jimmy Dore, in which he gives a line-by-line commentary on Blair’s speech responding to the Chilcot report. This has damned him for waging an unprovoked war, launching hostilities before the available peaceful solutions had been explored. The British people were lied to about Saddam Hussein’s military ambitions and capabilities. There was no proper consideration of how order and peace were to be restored after the conflict was won. And Blair, his minions and allies, were warned that the result of the invasion would be ethnic and religious violence and trouble from Iran.

And Blair remains completely unrepentant. He acknowledges, casually, that ‘mistakes were made’ – in the passive voice, note, as if they just happened with no-one being responsible for them. He then claimed that all the carnage that followed could only be known with hindsight, despite having been told at the time. Michelle, another of the great commenters on my blog, remarked on how sickening this was.

I’m flattered that Chris decided to reblog the piece, commenting:

I thank Chilcot and Jimmy Dore for their condemnation of Tony Blair. It as all been said, no one can be unaware that Tony Blair is the biggest liar in the world and he created the current situation in the Middle East and was the creator of modern radicalisation. This does not mean that George W Bush is an innocent, for he is as guilty as Blair, but that is for the people of America to comment on.

For Blair what should the next step be, there needs to be a process started to bring him to court for being a ‘War Criminal’ for if there is not, we are all complicit in being war criminals.

So be warned Presidents and Prime Ministers in waiting you are accountable for your action both now and in the future. Any atrocities created by these actions are on your shoulders and your shoulders alone for which you will suffer the consecquences.

See: https://61chrissterry.wordpress.com/2016/07/09/the-videos-by-jimmy-dore-on-tony-blair-and-the-chilcot-report/

Chris is right. Democracy means that our leaders are ultimately accountable to us. They govern us through our consent, which we can withdraw at elections by voting for another party or candidate. Democracy means the rule of law, from which our leaders are not exempt. In normal society, criminality is prosecuted and punished. Murderers are tried and sent to jail. Tony Blair lied to the people of one nation, and committed mass murder to the people of another. The Iraqis, and the surrounding Middle Eastern peoples were direct victims of his aggression. But we have also paid the price. The British taxpayer has been forced to fund a war for which there was no legal or moral justification. Morally, our country has been sullied through the atrocities and violence committed through the invasion. And our forces and people have also suffered. Blair sent courageous and capable men and women to die, or return home mutilated and mentally scarred. Their families have lost husbands, wives, sons and daughters. British Muslims have also lost family members, radicalised through the violence they have seen against their co-religionists in Iraq. Some of them have gone on to destroy themselves and others in acts of the most appalling violence.

Blair has said that he takes ‘full responsibility’. In the videos, Dore remarks that it won’t re-animate all the dead killed through his war. The only way he can take full responsibility is by going to jail. Absolutely. Full responsibility means just that. It means more than words, and must entail due punishment for crimes committed. For democracy to mean anything, leaders and governments have to be tried when they commit offences. The great thinkers of the Enlightenment, like Voltaire and Kant, were against cruelty, mass murder and arbitrary government. Kant reformulated the Golden Rule ‘Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you’, in the words of Christ, though the maxim was known long before Him in the Middle East, as ‘If you legislate for one, you legislate for all’. Laws have to apply to everyone, rulers as well as ruled. The execution of Charles I by the Roundheads after the English Civil War shocked England and Europe. He was executed for crimes against the British people. This was a dangerously radical idea, as until that point it was universally accepted, and continued to be so for centuries after, that the king was above the law as the ultimate lawgiver. But no more. Our leaders have to be subject to the same laws as their citizens. This means us, as well as the tyrants we have tried for war crimes, like Ratko Mladic, Slobodan Milosevic, and the other butchers from the former Yugoslavia. Like the Nazis at Nuremberg and Richard Nixon after Watergate. And now Blair should be taken to the dock to face justice for all the horror and violence he has unleashed.

And after him, who knows – Maggie? It would, naturally, be posthumous. Something like Khrushchev’s 1956 secret speech finally attacking Stalin’s ‘Cult of Personality’, and the true vileness of her policies and minions listed and enumerated. As for the charge, well, to quote Marlon Brando in The Wild One, or is it James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause: ‘What’cha got?’

Tolstoy’s The Law of Violence and the Law of Love

January 24, 2016

Tolstoy Law Love

(Santa Barbara: Concord Grove Press, no date)

As well as being one of the great titans of world literature, Leo Tolstoy was a convinced anarchist and pacifist. The British philosopher and writer, Sir Isaiah Berlin, in his book, Russian Thinkers, states that Tolstoy’s anarchist beliefs even informed his great work, War and Peace. Instead of portraying world history as being shaped by the ideas and actions of great men, Tolstoy’s epic of the Napoleonic Wars shows instead how it is formed by the actions of millions of individuals.

The writer himself attempted to put his own ideas into practise. He was horrified by the poverty and squalor, both physical and moral, of the new, urban Russia which was arising as the country industrialised, and the degradation of its working and peasant peoples. After serving in the army he retreated to his estate, where he concentrated on writing. He also tried to live out his beliefs, dressing in peasant clothes and teaching himself their skills and crafts, like boot-making, in order to identify with them as the oppressed against the oppressive upper classes.

Tolstoy took his pacifism from a Chechen Sufi nationalist leader, who was finally captured and exiled from his native land by the Russians after a career resisting the Russian invasion. This Islamic mystic realised that military resistance was useless against the greater Russian armed forces. So instead, he preached a message of non-violent resistance and peaceful protest against the Russian imperial regime. Tolstoy had been an officer during the invasion of Chechnya, and had been impressed by its people and their leader’s doctrine of peaceful resistance. Tolstoy turned it into one of the central doctrines of his own evolving anarchist ideology. And he, in turn, influenced Gandhi in his stance of ahimsa – Hindu non-violence – and peaceful campaign against the British occupation of India. Among the book’s appendices is 1910 letter from Tolstoy to Gandhi. I also believe Tolstoy’s doctrine of peaceful resistance also influence Martin Luther King in his confrontation with the American authorities for civil rights for Black Americans.

Tolstoy considered himself a Christian, though his views are extremely heretical and were officially condemned as such by the Russian Orthodox Church. He wrote a number of books expounding his religious views, of which The Law of Violence and the Law of Love is one. One other is The Kingdom of God Is Within You. Tolstoy’s Christianity was basically the rationalised Christianity, formed during the 19th century by writers like David Strauss in Germany and Ernest Renan in France. In their view, Christ was a moral preacher, teaching devotion to a transcendent but non-interfering God, but did not perform any miracles or claim He was divine. It’s similar to the Deist forms of Christianity that appeared in the 18th century in works such as Christianity Not Mysterious. While there are still many Biblical scholars, who believe that Christ Himself did not claim to be divine, such as Geza Vermes, this view has come under increasing attack. Not least because it presents an ahistorical view of Jesus. The Deist conception of Christ was influenced by the classicising rationalism of the 18th century. It’s essentially Jesus recast as a Greek philosopher, like Plato or Socrates. More recent scholarship by Sandmel and Sanders from the 1970’s onwards, in works like the latter’s Jesus the Jew, have shown how much Christ’s life and teaching reflected the Judaism of the First Century, in which miracles and the supernatural were a fundamental part.

In The Law of Violence and the Law of Love, Tolstoy sets out his anarchist, pacifist Christian views. He sees the law of love as very core of Christianity, in much the same way the French Utopian Socialist Saint-Simon saw universal brotherhood as the fundamental teaching of Christianity. Tolstoy attacks the established church for what he sees as their distortion of this original, rational, non-miraculous Christianity, stating that it’s the reason so many working people are losing their faith. Like other religious reformers, he recommends his theological views, arguing that it will lead to a revival of genuine Christianity. At the same time, this renewed, reformed Christianity and the universal love it promotes, will overturn the corrupt and oppressive rule of governments, which are built on violence and the use of force.

Among the other arguments against state violence, Tolstoy discusses those, who have refused or condemned military service. These not only include modern conscientious objectors, such as 19th century radicals and Socialists, but also the Early Church itself. He quotes Christian saints and the Church Fathers, including Tertullian and Origen, who firmly condemned war and military service. For example, Tertullian wrote

It is not fitting to serve the emblem of Christ and the emblem of the devil, the fortress of light and the fortress of darkness. One soul cannot serve two masters. And besides, how can one fight without the sword, which the Lord himself has taken away? Is it possible to do sword exercises, when the Lord says that everyone who takes the sword shall perish by the sword? And how can a son of peace take part in a battle.

Some scholars of the Early Church have argued that its opposition to military service was based on opposition to the pagan ceremonies the soldiers would have to attend and perform as part of their duties. As believers in the only God, these were forbidden to Christians. Nevertheless, despite his condemnation, Tertullian admits elsewhere that there were Christians serving in the Roman army.

Other quotations from the Church Fathers make it clear that it was opposition to the bloodshed in war, which caused them to reject military service. Tolstoy cites Cyprian, who stated that

The world goes mad with the mutual shedding of blood, and murder, considered a crime when committed singly, is called a virtue when it is done in the mas. The multiplication of violence secures impunity for the criminals.

Tolstoy also cites a decree of the First Ecumenical Council of 325 proscribing a penance to Christians returning to the Roman army, after they had left it. He states that those, who remained in the army, had to vow never to kill an enemy. If they violated this, then Basil the Great declared that they could not receive communion for three years.

This pacifism was viable when the Church was a small, persecuted minority in the pagan Roman Empire. After Constantine’s conversion, Christians and the Christian church entered government as Christianity became the official religion. The Church’s pacifist stance was rejected as Christians became responsible for the defence of the empire and its peoples, as well as their spiritual wellbeing and secular administration. And as the centuries progressed, Christians became all too used to using force and violence against their enemies, as shown in the countless religious wars fought down through history. It’s a legacy which still understandably colours many people’s views of Christianity, and religion as a whole.

This edition of Tolstoy’s book is published by the Institute of World Culture, whose symbol appears on the front of the book. This appears from the list of other books they publish in the back to be devoted to promoting mysticism. This is mostly Hindu, but also contains some Zoroastrian and Gnostic Christian works, as well as the Zohar, one of the main texts of the Jewish Qabbala.

Pacifism is very much an issue for your personal conscience, though it is, of course, very much a part of the Quaker spirituality. Against this pacifist tradition there’s the ‘Just War’ doctrine articulated and developed over the centuries by St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and other theologians and Christian philosophers. This examines and defines under which circumstances and for which reasons a war can be fought, and what moral restrictions should be imposed on the way it is fought. For example, combatants should not attack women, children and non-combatants. Despite this, the book is an interesting response to the muscular Christianity preached during the days of the British Empire, and which still survives in the American Right. Many Republicans, particularly the Tea Party, really do see Christianity as not only entirely compatible with gun rights, but as a vital part of it. Bill O’Reilly, one of the anchors on Fox News, has stated that Christ would fully approve of the shooting of violent criminals, even in circumstances others find highly dubious. These include some of the incidents where teh police have shot unarmed Blacks, or where such resistance from the suspect may have been the result of mental illness and the cops themselves were in no danger. In the Law of Violence and the Law of Love, you can read Tolstoy’s opinion of the official use of lethal force, and his condemnation of the capitalist statism O’Reilly and Fox stand for.

The Young Turks on French Journalist’s Statement on ISIS and Bombing of Syria

December 5, 2015

Okay, this is yet another video from the left-wing American news show, The Young Turks. Here the Turks’ main anchor, Cenk Uygur, talks about Nicholas Henin, the French journalist, who was held captive by the mad butchers for over a year. He saw Mohamed ‘Jihadi John’ Emwazi murder six of his friends for their wretched propaganda videos, and still wonders about how many Syrians were butchered by him and who cares for them?

I blogged about this video yesterday, when it was included by Tom Pride of Pride’s Purge in an excellent piece he had written about not bombing Syria. Henin states that bombing won’t work, as it will only lead to further radicalisation. ISIS want to alienate Muslims and create division between them and the West, so that they can win them over by posing as the religion’s true defenders. In stark opposition to their dreams of creating hatred for the West amongst Muslims is the mass exodus of Syrian refugees to the West. It’s a slap in their face to their claim that they have created an Islamic ‘dreamland’, and they are mightily dismayed when the refugees are welcomed, rather than received with hatred.

Henin also states that they see the world through an ancient prophecy that states that Muslims will fight a battle against an army of 80 nations. I commented yesterday that this appears to be an Islamic belief about the end of the world. It’s similar to the Christian belief about the Battle of Armageddon, in which Christians will fight a battle against the forces of the Anti-Christ. Henin believes that this is the reason why ISIS is attacking so many countries, such as America, France and so on. They are hoping to create this army of 80 infidel nations, in order to fulfil the prophecy, or their interpretation of it.

Here’s the video.

Uygur adds a few more pieces of information about ISIS’ millennialist beliefs. He states that Sunnis believe in one version of the prophecy, Shi’ah another, and that many Muslims don’t believe in it at all. He points out that what’s important is that ISIS do believe in a poisonous version of it, and are acting to fulfil this interpretation. And so, he warns, we should be careful to avoid falling into their trap and doing exactly what they want us to do.

Like bomb Syria.

My guess is that ISIS are deliberately fighting for control over Syria as part of their end of the world beliefs, and not just because they see it as an important part of their projected caliphate. One of the Muslim prophecies about the end of the world concerns the rise of an anti-Christ, al-Dajjal, who will lead the Muslim community away from true belief and attack the remaining true believers. Muslims believe he will be killed by Christ Himself. Before Christ does, the Muslims will seek refuge at Jabal al-Dukhan in Syria, where they will be besieged by al-Dajjal and his forces of evil. (See IBN Kathir, The Signs Before the Day of Judgement (London: Dar Al Taqwa 1991), p. 52). I think the West and its allies would be extremely wise to consider how any military action they might pursue in Syria may be perceived and twisted to seem as a fulfilment of the ancient prophecies.

Hope Not Hate, the anti-racist, anti-religious extremism organisation, reported a new initiative by moderate Islamic scholars to combat the teachings of extremists like ISIS, al-Qaeda and the other Islamist groups. This is Imams On Line. If any Muslim has encountered Islamist propaganda, and is worried about it, they can go there to see it authoritatively refuted by mainstream Islamic scholarship.