Posts Tagged ‘Colonialism’

Archaeology Confronts Neoliberalism

March 5, 2017

I got the latest catalogue of books on archaeology and history from Oxbow Books, an Oxford based bookseller and publisher, which specialises in them, a few days ago. Among the books listed was one critical of neoliberalism, and which explored the possibilities of challenging it from within the profession. The book’s entitled Archaeology and Neoliberalism. It’s edited by Pablo Aparicio Resco, and will be published by JAS Arquelogia. The blurb for it in the catalogue states

The effects of neoliberalism as ideology can be seen in every corner of the planet, worsening inequalities and empowering markets over people. How is this affecting archaeology? Can archaeology transcend it? This volume delves into the context of archaeological practice within the neoliberal world and the opportunities and challenges of activism from the profession.

This isn’t an issue I really know anything about. However, I’m not surprised that many archaeologists are concerned about the damage neoliberalism is doing to archaeology. 15 years ago, when I was doing my Masters at UWE, one of the essay questions set was ‘Why do some Historians see heritage as a dirty word?’ Part of the answer to that question was that some historians strongly criticised the heritage industry for its commodification of the past into something to be bought, sold and consumed. They placed the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of Maggie Thatcher and her Tory government. Rather than being an object of value or investigation for its own sake, Thatcherite free market ideology saw it very much in terms of its monetary value. They contrasted this with the old Conservative ethos, which saw culture as something that was above its simple cash value.

Social critics were also concerned about the way Thatcherism was destroying Britain’s real industries, and replacing them with theme parks, in which they were recreated, in a sanitised version that was calculated not to present too many difficult questions and represented the Tory view of history. One example of this was a theme park representing a mining village. It was on the site of a real mining village, whose mine had been closed down. However, other pieces of mining equipment and related buildings and structures, which were never in that particularly village, were put there from other mining towns and villages elsewhere. It thus showed what an imaginary mining village was like, rather than the real mining community that had actually existed. It was also a dead heritage attraction, a museum, instead of a living community based around a still thriving industry.

There were also concerns about the way heritage was being repackaged to present a right-wing, nationalistic view of history. For example, the Colonial Williamsburg museum in America was originally set up to present a view of America as a land of technological progress, as the simple tools and implements used by the early pioneers had been succeeded by ever more elaborate and efficient machines. They also pointed to the way extreme right-wing pressure groups and organisations, like the Heritage Foundation, had also been strongly involved in shaping the official, Reaganite version of American ‘heritage’. And similar movements had occurred elsewhere in the world, including France, Spain and the Caribbean. In Spain the concern to preserve and celebrate the country’s many different autonomous regions, from Catalonia, the Basque country, Castille, Aragon and Granada, meant that the view of the country’s history taught in schools differed greatly according to where you were.

Archaeology’s a different subject than history, and it’s methodology and philosophy is slightly different. History is based on written texts, while archaeology is based on material remains, although it also uses written evidence to some extent. History tends to be about individuals, while archaeology is more about societies. Nevertheless, as they are both about the investigation of the human past, they also overlap in many areas and I would imagine that some of the above issues are still highly relevant in the archaeological context.

There’s also an additional problem in that over the past few decades, the Thatcherite decision to make universities more business orientated has resulted in the formation of several different private archaeological companies, which all compete against each other. I’ve heard from older archaeologists that as a result, the archaeological work being done today is less thorough and of poorer quality than when digs were conducted by local authorities.

I haven’t read the book, but I’m sure that the editor and contributors to this book are right about neoliberalism damaging archaeology and the necessity of archaeologists campaigning against it and its effects on their subject. By its very nature, the past needs to be investigated on its own terms, and there can be multiple viewpoints all legitimately drawn from the same piece of evidence. And especially in the case of historical archaeology, which in the American context means the investigation of the impact of European colonisation from the 15th century onwards, there are strongly emotive and controversial issues of invasion, capitalism, imperialism, the enslavement of Black Africans and the genocide of the indigenous peoples. For historians and archaeologists of slavery, for example, there’s a strong debate about the role this played in the formation of European capitalism and the industrial revolution. Such issues cannot and should not be censored or ignored in order to produce a nice, conservative interpretation of the past that won’t offend the Conservative or Republican parties and their paymasters in multinational industry, or challenge their cosy conception that the free market is always right, even when it falsifies the misery and injustice of the past and creates real poverty today.

William Blum’s List of American Foreign Interventions: Part 1

February 15, 2017

Yesterday I put up a piece about American hypocrisy in the allegations that Putin was blackmailing Donald Trump, when the Americans themselves interfered in the Russian elections in 1996 in order to secure Boris Yeltsin’s election as Russian president. This was, however, hardly the first time America had intervened in the domestic politics of a foreign country. William Blum devotes two chapters to this in his book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. In one he lists the various interventions America has made in other countries, including invasions and military coups, and in the other cases where America has interfered with the conduct of elections in order to secure a win for their favoured candidates.

Both of these are very long and ignominious lists. Here’s part 1 of a list of foreign interventions by the US.

American Interventions

China 1945-51
Aiding Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang against Mao’s Communists.

France 1947
Backing French Socialist party against the Communists, using Corsican mobsters to attack Communist party and Communist-aligned trade unionists.

Marshall Islands 1946-58
Indigenous people of Bikini Atoll removed from the island in order to make way for nuclear tests.

Italy 1947-1970s
Backing Conservative Christian Democrats to keep the Socialists and Communists out of power.

Greece 1947-9
Backing neo-Fascists and creating intelligence unit for them in the civil war against the Communists.

Philippines 1945-53
Military actions against the left-wing Huk forces.

Korea 1945-53
Korean War. However, afterwards US backed Conservatives, who had collaborated with the Japanese, and Fascist dictators, also committed atrocities against fleeing civilians.

Albania 1949-53
Backing anti-Communist guerillas, most of whom were collaborators with the Nazis and Italian Fascists.

Eastern Europe 1948-1956
Head of CIA Allen Dulles deliberately heightened paranoia in the eastern bloc, causing hundreds of thousands of imprisonments, purge trials and murders by the Communist regimes.

Germany 1950s
Lengthy campaign of terrorism, dirty tricks and sabotage against East Germany.

Iran 1953
Prime Minister Mossadegh overthrown by CIA and British led coup, as dared nationalise what is now British Petroleum oilfields.

Guatemala 1953-1990s
CIA backed Fascist coup against democratic socialist Jacobo Arbenz for nationalising plantations owned by American company, United Fruit. Result: forty years of terror, with 200,000 people murdered.

Costa Rica mid-1950s and 1970-1
Attempted assassination of liberal democratic president, Jose Figueres, because considered too soft on the left, and for making his nation the first in Central America to establish diplomatic links with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and questioning American foreign policy, like the invasion of Cuba.

Middle East 1956-58
Attempts to overthrow the Syrian government, shows of force in Mediterranean against opposition to US-backed governments in Jordan and Lebanon, landing of 14,000 troops in Lebanon, and attempts to overthrow and assassinate Egyptian president Gamal Nasser.

Indonesia 1957-8
Attempts to manipulate elections, assassinate, blackmail and start a civil war to overthrow President Sukarno. Sukarno neutral in Cold War, went on trips to China and USSR, nationalised private property of Dutch colonialists, and did not crack down on the Communist party, which was then engaged on electoral path to power.

Haiti 1959
Trained troops of notorious dicator Papa Doc Duvalier, and destroy attempted coup against him by Haitians, Cubans and other Latin Americans.

Western Europe 1950s-1960s
Granting of American money through charities and so on to various groups and organisations in pursuit of American anti-Communist, anti-Socialist policies.

British Guiana/Guyana 1953-64
Attempts to force out of office democratically elected socialist premier, Cheddi Jagan by America and Britain.

Iraq 1958-63

Long campaign against nationalist leader General Abdul Karim Kassem after he overthrew the monarchy and established a republic. USA and Turkey drew up plan to invade; this dropped in favour of arming Kurds, as well as assassination attempts. Kassem helped set up OPEC and created nationalised oil company. Kassem was finally overthrown in a Ba’ath coup, which also led to a clampdown on the Communist party, which was backed by both America and Britain.

Soviet Union 1940s-1960s
Cold War campaigns of espionage, propaganda and sabotage, backing of resistance movements against USSR.

Vietnam 1945-73
Vietnam War.

Cambodia 1945-73
Overthrow of Prince Sihanouk enabling Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge to gain power.

Laos 1957-73
Armed insurrection and bombing against reformist left, led by Pathet Lao party.

Thailand 1965-73
Armed forced against insurgents.

Ecuador 1960-63
Overthrow of president Jose Maria Velasco for not clamping down on left and not following US policy against Cuba.

Congo/Zaire, 1960-65, 1977-8
Overthrow of Patrice Lumumba in favour of dictator and mass-murderer Mobutu Sese Seko.

France/Algeria 1960s
Backed French military coup in Algeria to stop country becoming independent. Also hoped repercussions would overthrow De Gaulle, who was blocking American attempts to dominate NATO.

Brazil, 1961-64
Backed military dictatorship which overthrew President Joao Goulart for being too independent and friendly towards Communists, despite the fact that Goulart millionaire devout Roman Catholic.

Peru 1965
Military action against leftist guerillas

Dominican Republic 1963-5
Overthrow of liberal president, Juan Bosch.

Cuba 1959-Present
Attempts to overthrow Communist regime.

Indonesia 1965
Overthrow of Sukarno and bloody suppression of Communists by successor, General Suharto.

Ghana 1966
Overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah

Uruguay 1969-72
Dirty War against Tupamaro leftists guerillas.

Chile 1964-73
Long campaign against democratic Communist, Salvador Allende, culminating in Fascist coup of General Pinochet.

Greece 1967-74
Intervention against liberal Greek president George Papandreou, as he wanted to take Greece out of NATO and declare Greek neutrality in Cold War. Overthrown in the Fascist coup that inaugurated the rule of the Colonels.

South Africa 1960s-1980s
Assistance to South African apartheid government against African Nationalist Congress, which, amongst other things, led to the arrest and imprisonment of Nelson Mandela.

Bolivia 1964-75
Military campaign against President Victor Paz for supporting Cuba.

Australia 1972-5
Operations to have Gough Whitlam, the leader of the Aussie Labor party, removed by America and British, ’cause he was opposed to Vietnam.

Iraq 1972-5
CIA backed Kurds, not for them to get autonomy, but to distract Iraqi army and make sure they didn’t overthrow the Shah of Iran.

Portugal 1974-76
comprehensive series of measures, including shows of force by NATO warships, against radical policies proposed by the army officers, who overthrew the previous Fascist dictatorship of General Salazar.

East Timor 1975-99
Backing of Indonesian invasion, which killed 1/3 of the island’s population.

Angola 1975-1980s
Angolan civil war, which was basically proxy war between US, China and South Africa on one hand and USSR and Cuba on the other.

Yoav Litvin on How Jews Must Fight Against Anti-Semitism and Zionism

February 11, 2017

Yoav Litvin, one of the long time contributors to Counterpunch, has written an excellent article, ‘To Oppose Trump, Jews Must Join the Fight Against Fascism and Zionism’. Litvin notes the rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incidents under Trump, and the presence of anti-Semites and Nazis like Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer amongst Trump’s supporters and his cabinet. He also shows how, despite this, Israel is doing little or nothing to criticise Trump, because Trump is a very vocal supporter of Israel.

He notes the similarity between the White racism of Trump and his Fascist supporters in the Alt-Right, and the ethno-nationalism behind Zionism. He also comments on the way Zionists and the Israel lobby, particularly Alan Dershowitz, have particularly smeared as anti-Semites liberal Jews, with traditional cosmopolitan values who oppose Zionism as another form of racism. As for Trump, he and his allies hide behind the specious argument that because they have Jewish friends, they can’t be anti-Semites. Mr Litvin writes

One would logically expect the American Jewish community to unite around vocal opposition and resistance as a response to the new Republican administration’s fascist tendencies and ties to White nationalists and neo-Nazis. Though some rabbis have come out in protest over Trump’s Muslim travel ban, the American Jewish community’s response to the new administration has been weak and split, with one main reason – Israel. Trump and his gang have capitalized on the inherent contradiction between liberal cosmopolitan Jewish values and an ethical emphasis on human rights, and the unjust nationalist policies of Israel towards indigenous Palestinians.

This contradiction was highlighted in a recent debate between Rabbi Matt Rosenberg and Richard Spencer, in which the latter justified the creation of a white “ethno-state” by using the example of the exclusionary Zionist ideology and practices of the state of Israel. The rabbi was left speechless. Accordingly, the term “white Zionism” has been used to describe “alt-right” ideology.

In line with widespread support for Trump in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu has been very favorable, even jovial at the prospects of the new Republican administration. With Donald Trump as their champion, the Tea Party represents tribal, misogynist and nationalistic attitudes that are championed by Jewish right-wing Zionists like Netanyahu. In fact, the very idea for the “alt-right” Breitbart news website was conceived in Israel and it has faithfully served as an outlet for the Tea Party, anti-Semitic and Zionist agendas. On a personal level, Trump and Netanyahu are mirror images of each other in their corruption, extravagance and talent in manipulating the press.

But this is nothing new. Zionists and anti-Semites have historically shared mutual interests. While anti-Semites have wanted to get rid of Jews, Zionists have concentrated their efforts on attracting them to Israel’s shores, i.e. Judaizing Israel as a means to fight the “demographic threat” posed by native Palestinians.

Litvin states that there are positive aspects to Israel and Zionism. The country has served as a model for nation-building, revived Hebrew as a living language and created a new, confident Jewish people, who fight for their rights, work the land and have pride in themselves. But these achievements are offset by the terrible suffering and persecution inflicted on indigenous Palestinians:

However, as with all settler-colonialist and exclusivist projects, the indigenous population has paid the price. As a result of political Zionism and Israeli policies, Palestinians have undergone a process of ethnic cleansing and genocide to make room for non-native Jewish settlers.

As the blooming relationship between the Trump administration and Israeli politicians and apologists shows, the ethno-centric character of Israel shares many attributes with- and has been a source of inspiration for- American White nationalism, now embodied in Trump’s administration.

In order to effectively fight this new administration and protect community members against the growing tide of anti-Semitism, American Jews need to recognize these parallels, come to terms with the failure of political Zionism and renounce collaborators such as Alan Dershowitz and David Friedman.

To counter Trump it is essential that American Jews fight against all ethno-centric, exclusivist forces, including fascism, White supremacy and Zionism. The long history of trauma and persecution must guide Jews in a quest to vanquish these forces alike toward a vision of justice, freedom and equality for all.

Read the whole article at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/10/to-oppose-trump-jews-must-join-the-fight-against-fascism-and-zionism/

Litvin’s precisely right, and this is the crime for which left-wing Labour members like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Naz Shah were smeared as anti-Semites by the Israel lobby: they did treat Zionism as another form of racism. None of them were anti-Semites. Livingstone in his book Livingstone’s Labour denounced anti-Semitism as another form of racism, along with anti-Black racism and hatred of the Irish. He also specifically discusses in the book the way Nazis responsible for horrific crimes against the Jewish people and humanity generally were recruited by the Allies after the War as part of the global campaign against Communism.

But he was smeared because he dared to make the historically accurate point that the Zionists had collaborated with the Nazis over immigration to Israel. It’s the same point Litvin makes in his article.

And many members of the anti-Zionist movement are Torah-observant Jews and people of Jewish heritage. Jackie Walker’s father was a Russian Jew, her partner’s Jewish, and her daughter goes to a Jewish school. Both she and her parents were and are very active campaigners against racism, including anti-Semitism. But this made no difference. She had placed the Holocaust, as terrible as it was, in context as one genocide amongst the others that have disgraced human history down the aeons, including Black slavery. She also stood up for the rights of the Palestinian people, and discussed how Jewish merchants had also been involved in the slave trade, even though the overall responsibility lay with the Christian empires in which they lived and whose monarchs they served. This was a perfectly reasonable point, which is discussed by Jewish historians.

But the Zionists saw it as a terrible threat to their own interests, and so they smeared her.

I think Litvin’s right in that Israel and Zionist lobby’s silence over the genuine anti-Semites behind Trump should lead to more Jews becoming aware of the racism at the heart of modern Zionism, as well as discrediting Zionism amongst decent Americans generally.

After all, Trump’s friendly relationship with Israel and Netanyahu, despite, or because of the Nazis in his cabinet, blatantly and flagrantly bear out what Walker, Livingstone and the others are saying about Zionism as another form of Fascism.

Trump Insults Australian Prime Minister and Mexican President

February 4, 2017

Another day, another example of how absolutely, constitutionally unsuited for government, or even civilised company, Donald Trump is. Yesterday there was the news that Trump had managed to insult the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, and threatened the president of Mexico with invasion.

Trump had been discussing an agreement signed last November between Obama and the Ozzies in which America promised to take a few of the refugees coming to Australia, who were temporarily settled in the camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Dictator Drumpf really doesn’t like the idea of taking prospective immigrants to Oz, and made his opposition very plain. According to the Washington Post, the orange megalomaniac told Turnbull that it was ‘the worst deal ever’, accused the Ozzie PM of trying to send him the next Boston bombers and said he was worried that the deal would kill him politically. He also told Turnbull that he’d already spoken to four national leaders that morning, including Putin, and that this was the ‘worst call so far’. The phone call was expected to last an hour, but Drumpf rang off after only 25 minutes.

Here’s the Young Turks video in which John Iadarola and Ana Kasparian discuss Trump’s highly undiplomatic phone call.

Then there are reports that in his phone call to the Mexican president, Trump is supposed to have accused the Mexican army of cowardice in trying to sort out the drug cartels, and threatened to send US troops to do the job instead. He is claimed to have said

‘You have a bunch of bad hombres down there. You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.’

There have been denials that this was ever said from the Mexican president’s office, but it appears to be true. John Iadarola, discussing the report in the video below, suggests that the denial might be an attempt by President Pena Nieta to save face. When he stood up to Drumpf last week, his approval ratings unsurprisingly shot up. Trump talking to him like this looks like a humiliation, and so he may have wanted to cover it up to prevent his approval ratings plummeting accordingly. It does, however, unfortunately seem to be true.

Iadarola and Kasparian make the point in the video about Trump’s insulting phone call to Premier Turnbull that Drumpf is perfectly happy to bomb the nations of the Middle East, but as soon as their citizens want to move out and seek refuge in America, he’s gets upset. In fact Australia’s immigration policy is itself highly controversial. I can remember Duncan Steele, an Australian astronomer at one of the British universities, saying at the Cheltenham Festival of Science in the 1990s that their treatment of refugees made him ashamed to be an Ozzie.

As for the drug war in Mexico, the drug cartels are indeed ‘bad hombres’. Actually, I think that term gives a romantic gloss to gangs of utter scum, who are completely subhuman in their cruelty and barbarism. In one of the Mexican provinces where they’re particularly strong, the gangs were engaged in feminicido – feminicide – as a kind of very sick sport. They got their kicks raping and killing women. And far from being cowards, the Mexican cops, who take them on are as hard as nails. A few years ago the on-line humour magazine, Cracked, did a list of the toughest real life vigilantes. Top of the list was a secret organisation of Mexican coppers, dedicated to rubbing out the gangs and their members. The identities of their members were unknown, to prevent reprisals against their families. The overall impression given was that these men were like the Punisher, but even more ruthless and absolutely dedicated.

I’ve no doubt that the Mexican army isn’t as good, as well trained or as well equipped as the Americans. But considering that America and her allies are still in Iraq and Afghanistan after nearly a decade and a half, I really don’t see that the Americans would have any more success in dealing with the drug cartels than the Mexican authorities.

Quite apart from the fact that you don’t tell the head of a friendly neighbouring state that you’re going to invade his country if he doesn’t sort a domestic problem out. Trump really has no idea how that sounds, not just to other nations generally, but specifically to Latin Americans. There’s considerable resentment of America in Central and South America, particularly in Argentina. It dates from the 19th century. Before then, many Spanish American liberals were solidly in favour of the US as the kind of modern, progressive country they wished their nations to be.

Then the US invaded Mexico, and causing these intellectuals to reverse their previous positive attitudes. They became bitterly resentful of what they saw as the US’s contemptuous, colonialist treatment of Latin America. It was the start of what I think is called ‘Arielismo’, in which South America writers used the character of Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the brutish servant of the wizard Prospero, as a metaphor for the imperialist contempt with which they perceived Americans treated their Spanish-speaking neighbours to the south and their culture.

The Young Turks in the video above also talk about how Trump’s brusque, insulting treatment of his Mexican opposite number may imperil the NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico. This has resulted in a loss of jobs in America, as firms have shifted their locations south to take advantage of the cheaper labour there. But they argue that it has also benefited America.

Trump is clearly one of the most undiplomatic presidents in American history. You really do wonder how long it will be before this loudmouthed buffoon starts another bloody war, or a major international incident, simply because he can’t keep a civil tongue in his head.

He can’t even be counted on to behave decently with our head of state. Mike a few days ago carried a story on his site that Prince Charles had been told not to lecture Drumpf on global warming, if he meets him, as otherwise the Orange Supremacist will ‘explode’. Now I’m well aware that not everyone reading this site is a monarchist, and the exaggerated deference, with which they’re treated should definitely go. I’m referring to all those arcane rules of behaviour, which dictate that you must only talk to the queen if she speaks to you. Those rules should have no place in the 21st century. But that does not excuse another head of state from going on a rant at ours.

Vox Political: Pro-Israel Figures and Groups Should Be Investigated after Israeli Embassy ‘Take Down’ Comments

January 9, 2017

Mike over at Vox Political has posted another good article, stating that pro-Israel groups should be subjected to a public inquiry after Shai Masot, the senior political officer at the Israeli embassy, was recorded by Al Jazeera TV talking about how he wanted Sir Alan Duncan and other, unnamed MPs, ‘taken down’. Masot made the comments in October last year when he met Maria Strizzolo, an aide to education minister Robert Halfon, and an undercover reporter, referred to as ‘Robin’, in a restaurant.

Halfon is a former political director of Conservative Friends of Israel, and ‘Robin’ was posing as a pro-Israel activist, who had set up the meeting to find out how he could help combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. The meeting, and Masot’s comments, were recorded as part of an investigation by the Arab news agency.

Masot asked Strizzolo if he could give her some names of MPs that he would liked to have taken down. Strizzolo replied that all MPs had something to hide. Masot then carried on ‘I have some MPs. She knows which MPs I want to take down’, and then mentioned Alan Duncan specifically.

He also discussed Boris Johnson, saying he was ‘basically good’, but then qualifying it by saying ‘He just doesn’t care. He is an idiot… If something real happened it won’t be his fault .. it will be Alan Duncan. Duncan is impossible to rebuff… he has a lot of friends’.

The Israeli embassy issued a statement saying it rejects the comments about Duncan, and claimed they were made by a junior embassy employee who was not an Israeli diplomat. Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador, also apologised and, like the embassy, stated they were unacceptable.

The Foreign Office has stated that they consider the issue closed. The Labour party, however, has rightly demanded an inquiry. Masot has previously admitted that he has set up party political and fake grassroots pro-Israel organisations, like Labour Friends of Israel. Duncan was specifically mentioned as someone the Israelis wanted removed because he has criticised their construction of illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.

Mike in his post asks the questions how many other politicians have also been subject to Israeli interference, how Britain can protect against further interference from the Israelis, and whether the pro-Israeli organisations set up by Masot were responsible for the smearing of Labour politicians on false charges of anti-Semitism. Until an inquiry is held and it’s known how far this rot has progressed, it’s unclear whether any of the claims about anti-Semitism, Zionism or Israel have any validity at all.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/01/09/pro-israel-groups-and-figures-should-face-inquiry-after-take-down-video-leak/

This issue of Israeli interference in British political affairs deserves an investigation for several reasons. Firstly, the statement that Masot was a junior embassy employee is rubbish. If he’s the senior political officer, then by definition he’s not one of the junior staff. Secondly, the Israelis have been involved in the internal affairs of the Labour party. The anti-Semitism smears were made against Labour members, who were sympathetic to the Palestinians and critical of Israeli colonialism and brutality. Many of those who made the smears were members of Zionist organisations, such as the Labour Friends of Israel. And one of the leaders of these organisations had been a director in the Israeli embassy.

It’s interesting to see the Labour party demand an inquiry, as this could result in some very unpleasant material coming to light for the Blairites. Tony Blair and New Labour were, according to Lobster, financed through the Labour Friends of Israel, and by Israeli business people through connections arranged by Lord Levy and the Israeli embassy.

And the Israeli state in Britain has previous in interfering in strictly internal British affairs. There was, you will recall, a case a few years ago in which the Israelis were caught over here spying on British citizens in Blighty itself. This is quite contrary to accepted international diplomacy, which prohibits friendly countries from spying on each other. This did not, however, result in any punishment for the Israelis, save the metaphorical ‘slap on the wrist’, because they apologised.

This is in stark contrast to their treatment by Maggie Thatcher, when she caught them spying against Brits during her tenure at No. 10. The Israeli spy base was closed, and I think a whole slew of Israeli diplomats came close to being thrown out of the country. But when they were caught again this century, nothing happened. I have a feeling the incident might have occurred when Blair was in power, in which case he probably didn’t want to sour his own personal good relations with his sponsors in the Israeli state.

It’s also possible to contrast the treatment of this Israeli diplomat, who has clearly been caught trying to interfere with the appointment of British MPs, with all the yelling over the other side of the Atlantic about the Russians interfering in internal American politics. The FBI, CIA and the Democrats under Obama have accused Putin of meddling with the conduct of American democracy through leaking details of Hillary Clinton’s corrupt deals with Wall Street. Despite their claims, there’s no real evidence that Putin was behind the leaks, and the former British diplomat, who took custody of the leaked information, has said that it all came from dissatisfied Democrat insiders.

Beyond this, Shrillary and her team have been claiming that Trump is somehow a tool of Putin because one of his staffers also has business dealings with the Russian president. Hence, some of the more hysterical Democrats have demanded that Trump should be tried for treason. Saturday Night Live, the American comedy show, even had a sketch with Putin referring to Trump as ‘the Manchurian candidate’, in other words, an undercover Russian agent ready to his bidding once he gets into power.

Now compare this outrage, whose basis in fact remains extremely tenuous, with the lack of similar concern and anger over the real interference that this interview implies has been exercised by the Israelis. Strizzolo has resigned, but no-one has demanded to know what connection her employer, Halfon, has in this affair, if any, or how many other British politicians and public servants have been keen to do the bidding of the Israelis against other British politicos. The Israelis frequently try to deflect criticism by claiming that they are unfairly singled out for opprobrium, while other regimes equally guilty of human rights violations are allowed to go with minimal criticism. This episode shows that, when it comes to meddling, or allegedly meddling, in the internal affairs of friendly nations, the opposite is true: Israel is treated far more leniently than other countries.

Counterpunch: Palestinians Wish to Sue Britain for ‘Balfour Agreement’

November 8, 2016

Last weekend’s online edition of Counterpunch carried an article by Ramzy Baroud, reporting that 99 years after the Balfour Declaration the Palestinians wish to sue Britain for giving away their homeland to the Zionist colonists. Balfour was the British Foreign Secretary, who, in a note given to Walther Rothschild, the leader of Britain’s Jewish community on 2nd November 1917, in which he pledged British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Baroud quotes the letter, which read

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

And concluded

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Baroud puts this agreement in context, as part of a wider movement by the colonial powers to divide up the Middle East and the Arab nations for themselves. This was the geopolitical background to the Picot-Sykes agreement, drawn up a year or so earlier, which settled the boundaries of British and French mandated territories and colonial possessions in the region.

Last July, the Palestinian Authority took the step of asking for wider Arab support in suing Britain for the agreement. Baroud states that at the time the Declaration was made, and the Picot-Sykes Agreement signed – the latter in secret – Britain was not in possession of Palestine or the other territories, which were still part of the Ottoman Empire. This was dismantled after the War. Baroud reproaches the British and the West for their hypocrisy in supporting Zionist emigration and colonisation of Palestine. At the same time, Britain also gave a series of spurious promises to the Palestinians, including offering them independence. The Palestinians finally rebelled when it became obvious that the British were helping the Zionists. Nevertheless, the League of Nations mandated the new Arab territories to Britain. The Balfour Declaration prepared the international stage for the full-scale ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in the decades to come, and that the British continued their support of the Jewish colony after it became Israel, while at the same time also promising some small measure of support to the Arabs.

Baroud concludes

While Balfour cannot be blamed for all the misfortunates that have befallen Palestinians since he communicated his brief, but infamous letter, the notion that his ‘promise’ embodied – that of complete disregard of the aspirations and rights of the Palestinian Arab people – that very letter is handed from one generation of British diplomats to the next, in the same way that Palestinian resistance to colonialism has and continues to spread across generations.

That injustice continues, thus the perpetuation of the conflict. What the British, the early Zionists, the Americans and subsequent Israeli governments failed to understand, and continue to ignore at their own peril, is that there can be no peace without justice and equality in Palestine; and that Palestinians will continue to resist, as long as the reasons that inspired their rebellion nearly a century ago, remain in place.

See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/04/why-palestinians-want-to-sue-britain-99-years-since-the-balfour-declaration/

I think the Palestinians are right to sue Britain. We clearly had no right whatsoever to grant a territory we did not have to the Zionist Federation in complete disregard to the wishes of its indigenous inhabitants. There are also other aspects to the Balfour Declaration, which are not mentioned in Baroud’s article, but which give a different perspective on domestic Jewish support for the embryonic Zionist state. According to Lobster, many, perhaps the majority, of British Jews did not support its creation. Herbert Samuel, the only Jewish member of the Cabinet, opposed it, as did very many Jews, including many leading members of the British Jewish community. I think that Samuel may have presented the government with a list of 72 leading Jewish families, who were against it. Samuel, along with the majority of European Jews of the time, at least in western Europe, wished to be patriotic members of their European homelands, and to be seen and accepted as such by their gentile compatriots. Samuel was afraid, with considerable justification, that the creation of an independent Jewish state would lead to Jews being suspected of having double loyalties, of not really being ‘British’. It’s easy to see why he feared that. This is, after all, the attitude that has led to Jews being persecuted throughout history, and which has survived in stupid conspiracy theories like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and similar fantasies of the Nazis and the Alt Right.

It also needs to be pointed out that the Palestinian population also included indigenous Jews, who have also been exploited and expelled by Israel. About 60,000 Arab Jews, or Jewish Arabs, were forced out of Israel in the 1960s. The Mizrahim, Arab Jews, who were invited to immigrated to Israel to build up the labour force, were given the poorest housing and jobs, and looked down upon as inferior by the European Zionist colonists. As Counterpunch has also pointed out in previous articles, Israel sees itself as a Western state, and has maltreated its indigenous inhabitants according to the manner other western settler states have brutalised and ethnically cleansed theirs.

Balfour’s note states that he wanted the civil and religious rights of the indigenous Palestinians respected, and did not want it to prejudice the rights and the way Jews elsewhere were seen. But this has been what has occurred. And Baroud is absolutely right to say that there can be no real peace without a just settlement of the Palestinians and their right to a homeland of their own.

Lobster on the Rise of British Mercenary Companies

October 12, 2016

This winter’s edition of Lobster carries a very interesting article, ‘Team Mercenary GB’ by Nick Must on the rise of the various mercenary companies in Britain now being hired out by governments all over the world. Most of the British mercenary companies, or, in modern parlance, Private Military Contractors, seem to have been founded by ex- or serving members of the SAS. Sometimes their founders even alluded to their former regiments in the names they gave their own private armies, such as John Banks’ Security Advisory Services, e.g., SAS. These companies have been involved in a long line of very murky dealings, including several attempts to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi. In the 1960s and 1970s they were involved in the fighting in Yemen, Angola, Congo, Oman and the notorious Biafran civil war in Nigeria. The African writers Abdel-Fatah Musah and J. ‘Kayode Fayemi note that this was a deliberate response by the colonialist regimes to counter these nations’ independent movements. They were also involved in abortive coup attempt to overthrow the government of the Seychelles. In the 1970s the City of London also got involved in the action, with several Lloyd’s syndicates offering various anti-kidnap packages.

Must’s article also describes how they have prospered by taking any worthwhile government security contracts. This has seen them provide military training for some very nasty organisations and individuals, such as Sultan Qaboos of Oman and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka for its bloody repression of the Tamils. Major Walker’s KMS company also got into trouble for supplying arms and assistance to the Contras in Nicaragua, along with fighting with them in the capital, Managua. One of the company’s leaders, Major Brian Baty, had also caused something of an incident while in the SAS. He and a group of other SAS soldiers illegally crossed the border from Ulster into Eire, which they blamed on a map reading error. They were also embarrassed by a question Red Ken raised about an advertisement they had placed in a brochure produced by International Military Services Limited, which was involved in large-scale arms dealing, assisted with bribery.

MI5 were also closely involved with the deal between the British mercenaries and the Sri Lankan government, which not only involved the repression of dissident Tamils at home, but also in Britain. In this, the British government used them as its proxy in order to facilitate an arms deal without offending Indira Gandhi’s government in India, which supported the Tamils. The suppression of the Tamil uprising used the same tactics the British used against the IRA and other Nationalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland – imprisonment, random beatings and assassination. This was so brutal that one of those providing the training, Robin Horsfall, left after three months as he felt that they were training the wrong side. KMS also provided military advice to the Indian government on the suppression of the Sikh paramilitary occupation of the Golden Temple of Amritsar. This ended in the Indian army storming the Temple, an act of sacrilege that is still bitterly resented by Sikhs thirty years later. It should be mentioned, however, that the eventual plan adopted was not that of KMS.

It also covers the attempt by a group of mercenaries under ‘Brigadier-General’ Simon Mann to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea involving Mark Thatcher. This was thwarted, and Mann imprisoned. He was released after a year, and is now providing security advice to the country’s dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Since 2011 he has also been working with another mercenary company, Moda Solutions. A previous director of this company was Des Browne, a former defence secretary, and one of its present directors is Lord Brennan, who is a QC at Cherie Blair’s Matrix Chambers. So much for her interest in human rights.

This is the first of a couple of articles, the second of which will be how the War on Terror has led to immense profits for these companies. Even limited to this period, where the mercenary companies were just beginning to develop, shows how they were involved in a series of corrupt, grubby and brutal operations for both foreign dictators and as an ‘arms-length’ instrument of the British state.

See: http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster72/lob72-team-mercenary.pdf

New Book Repeating the Anti-Semitism Smears against the Labour Party

October 10, 2016

Unfortunately, despite the fact that Shami Chakrabarti cleared the Labour party of institutional racism, and that most of the people smeared as anti-Semites have similarly been cleared and reinstated, the allegations keep being repeated. Browsing through the Cheltenham branch of Waterstone’s on Friday, I came across a book repeating the allegations. Written by David Rich and published by Biteback, the book’s title told you precisely how it was biased: The Left’s Jewish Problem, with the word ‘Jewish’ on the cover surrounded by a stylised Star of David. The blurb for it on its back cover stated that the Labour party having to conduct three investigations into anti-Semitism after the election of Jeremy Corbyn was no accident. It then went on to allege that the ‘left’ and in particular the Labour party was deeply contaminated with anti-Semitism. This was, it declared, due to the anti-apartheid campaigns launched against Israel, which saw members of the Left ally themselves with radical Islam.

I was half tempted to buy it, simply to rip it to shreds, but I decided against it on the grounds that it would annoy me too much. Plus, I didn’t want to give Rich my money for his twaddle. But I shall try and give a brief refutation of his allegations here.

Firstly, the smears have been made not because the Labour party does have an anti-Semitism problem, but because of the desperation of the Blairites in the party and the Israel lobby to hang on to power by any means they can. Which basically means smearing decent people, Jews as well as gentiles, as anti-Semites when they are nothing of the kind. Norman Finkelstein, one of the leading Jewish American critics of Israel, and the author of several books, has made the point that the Israel lobby has always responded to criticism by smearing the critics as anti-Semites, even when they’re not. And those labelled as anti-Semites in the recent allegations within the Labour party are either critics of Israel, or those unfortunate to be labelled as such simply because they’re members of Momentum. Like Rhea Wolfson, whose bid to join the NEC was blocked by Jim Murphy, a leading member of Labour Friends of Israel and the head of the Labour party in Scotland. He recommended that Wolfson’s party should not support her bid, because, as a member of Momentum, she was linked to an anti-Semitic organisation. This was despite the fact that Wolfson herself is Jewish. Mike pointed out the monumental absurdity of the claim when he stated that anti-Semites don’t usually support a Jewish candidate for political office getting into power. They don’t. In fact, they’re bitterly opposed to it. That’s part of why they’re anti-Semites. And it’s one of the reasons the allegations against Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn are stupid and malign.

Rich is right about some of the opposition to Israel having emerged from the anti-apartheid movement. In the 1960s and 1970s Israel did indeed form a close alliance with White South Africa, as they were both pariah states, where Western settlers ruled as a privilege minority over non-Western indigenous population. The alliance also shocked many Israelis, who did not want to see their country allied to and compared with a nakedly racist state. Israel too has also developed its own form of apartheid in its treatment of the Palestinians, who are subject to repeated restrictions on the personal and collective freedoms in the name of security, and where the constant goal of the state itself has been their cleansing from Israel and the Occupied Territories.

The claims of an alliance with radical Islam is rather more complex. Some idiots have indeed supported ISIS as supposedly anti-imperial forces, rather than the sadistic, intolerant murderers they really are. But the numbers who have seem far smaller than the impression given by the Right. There’s a piece over on Guy Debord’s Cat, where he takes apart the claim that there was an attempt at one left-wing meeting to pass a motion of support for ISIS. In fact, out of all the hundreds of people attending the meeting, there was only three who proposed and supported such a motion. They were roundly defeated by everyone else. Nevertheless, the Cat described how this was seized on by the Conservative press and magnified so that instead of only three, it seemed that the majority of people attending the meeting supported the proposed endorsement of ISIS.

One of those blogging about supposed anti-Semitism on the Left and in the Labour movement is Adam Lebor. The extreme Right-wing Canadian blog, Five Feet of Fury, linked to his a few years ago when it posted up a piece about how anti-Semitism is supposedly rife on the Left. His blog on its masthead explicitly stated that it was dedicated to exposing this anti-Semitism. If I remember correctly, about twenty or so years ago Lebor was a supporter of the Palestinians and anti-Israel, anti-imperialist activist. He authored a book that was reviewed in the ‘books’ pages of the Financial Times’ ‘Weekend’ supplement. This described his meetings with a series of radical Islamic preachers and leaders, whom he did support as the enemies of imperialism. One of these was a vile individual he met in London, who told Holocaust jokes throughout his interview with Lebor. I think Lebor himself is Jewish. His interviewee’s behaviour was disgusting, and reading I wondered why Lebor persisted in talking to him and supporting him, rather than simply walking out there and then. Assuming this is the same person, it seems to me that in the intervening period he has had too much of the real Muslim anti-Semites, and this has tainted his entire attitude towards the Left and those who shared his former opinions.

However, that does not mean that everyone who supports the Palestinians is an anti-Semite, or, if they’re Jewish, a self-hating ‘un-Jew’. Nor does it mean that they are allied with radical Muslims. And there is much more to this latter claim than first appears.

I think both Lobster and Guy Debord’s Cat have posted pieces about the deliberate tactics Israel adopted to marginalise, isolate and destroy the credibility and influence of the secular wing of the PLO. This was done with the intention of leaving the more extreme, Islamic faction in overall control of the Palestinian territories, so that the Israelis could present themselves on the world stage as being locked in a battle with radical Islam. It’s a battle the Israelis themselves orchestrated in order to get as much support as possible from the West as part of the War on Terror. And Norman Finkelstein once again has pointed out that while terrorism goes back to the 19th century, the term was used most commonly after 1970 to describe Arabs and Muslims by the Israelis.

As for the narrative that the European Left are allied with radical Muslims, this was all formed at least about twelve years ago. I remember reading a review in the Spectator of a book set a few decades in the future, in which the remains of the European Socialist organisations had united with the Muslims to begin a new Holocaust against the Jews. It’s a vile, malicious fantasy, of course, and the fact that the Speccie gave a review of the book without calling it such shows how mendacious and vile Boris Johnson’s mighty organ was. The lie couldn’t really be run against Labour when Tony Blair was in charge, because of his strong links to the Israel lobby. It also couldn’t really be used against Ed Miliband, as he’s Jewish. I dare say, however, that some were probably willing to try. We’ve seen how they’ve smeared other Jews since. But they had their chance with the election of Jeremy Corbyn, who threatened the Blairites’ continued hold on power and that of the Israel lobby, with whom the Blairites were deeply intertwined.

And so these vile stories were taken off the shelf, dusted off, and decent men and women with proud personal histories of fighting racism and anti-Semitism were libelled, all because they took their commitment to combating racism and imperialism sufficiently seriously that they dared to criticise and question Israel.

Shami Chakrabarti in her report into anti-Semitism in the Labour party showed Labour doesn’t have a ‘Jewish problem’. It is the Conservatives, Blairite entryists and Israel lobby, who have a problem with the grassroots Labour membership, as they’re rejecting Thatcherism on the one hand and the Neoconservatives abhorrent colonialism and imperialism on the other, an imperialism that is also intimately bound up with Israel’s cleansing of the Palestinians.

Mandelson’s Support for Israel in the Jewish Chronicle

September 25, 2016

This is another piece from Tom Easton’s ‘Tittle-Tattle’ column in Lobster 59 after New Labour’s links to the Israel lobby. This reported that before the 2010 general election, Peter Mandelson published a piece in the Jewish Chronicle urging its readers to vote Labour. He declared that ‘Our beliefs are your beliefs’, stating that ‘The Labour Party is driven by many of the same values that have historically united and defined the Jewish community.’ He then followed this up by writing

‘The Labour Party is, and will continue to be, a strong and loyal friend to Israel. We are very proud that Gordon Brown was the first serving Prime Minister to address the Knesset last year. Under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s leadership, Labour has worked tirelessly to ensure a just and secure settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We believe this settlement will be achieved through constructive dialogue and not through sanctions, boycotts and violence. In government, Labour will continue to lead international efforts to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and will not waiver from our commitment to promote regional stability and an enduring peace.’

Easton comments that this is as big an endorsement of Israel as any editor of that newspaper could have wished for.

And looking through that endorsement, what stands out very clearly is that Mandy stated that a ‘peaceful settlement’ would not be achieved through ‘sanctions, boycotts and violence’. Apart from the mention of violence, this also looks like an attack on the BDS movement – Boycott, Divest and Sanction – which urges people and businesses not to invest or do business with Israeli companies based in or supporting the occupied West Bank. Despite New York local authority formally outlawing the movement as an anti-Semitic organisation, the BDS includes very many Jews, as does the anti-Zionist movement as a whole, many of whom are doubtless like the writer Michael Marqusee, in viewing their actions as part of the Jewish ethical tradition. As for New York’s ban on the BDS movement, at the meeting in which this was debated there were six rabbis supporting the movement, which should disprove the screams of its opponents that the movement was anti-Semitic.

The anti-Semitism smear against Corbyn and Momentum have never been about anti-Semitism. This is obvious from the way those attacked have included committed anti-racists and Jews and people of Jewish heritage, who have also suffered from, and pledged themselves to combating, genuine anti-Semitism. This is all about the Israel lobby and New Labour trying to hang on to power, and defend Israel’s grotesque policy of colonialism and ethnic cleansing.

Counterpunch on the Israeli Theft of Arab Jewish Babies

August 15, 2016

This is another episode of Israeli history that will leave you feeling sick. Counterpunch today carried an article by Jonathan Cook, ‘The Dark Secret of Israel’s Stolen Babies’. This is about the emerging scandal that in the years following Israel’s founding in 1948, the hospitals and other institutions had stolen hundreds of Arab Jewish babies away from their mothers. It’s been a secret for decades, but last month the head of national security, Tzachi Hanegbi, finally admitted it had occurred. In actual fact, the numbers of children stolen from their parents is likely to be an underestimate. The real figure is probably in the thousands. Campaigners in Israel believe that as many as 8,000 children were taken in this way. The children were given to childless Jewish couples. The parents were told that their babies had died. In some cases, the nurses simply snatched them away, telling the mothers that they were wrong for having more children than they could look after.

Hanegbi, who was given the task of looking into the scandal by Netanyahu, remains unclear whether there was official involvement. Testimonies from those involved suggest that staff from the health ministry, judges and lawmakers were aware of what was going on. The papers relating to these poor children have been sealed until 2071, which certain suggests the Israeli state was involved, and that the government is trying to keep a lid on the scandal.

Cook’s article places the theft of these children in the context of the establishment of Israel as a colonial settler state. Israel was colonised by mainly eastern European Jews. The Zionist organisations, and its first president, David Ben Gurion, fully accepted the racist belief that European culture was innately superior to that of the Arabs and the Middle East. The children belonged to Arab families, who had immigrated to Israel, in the hope of finding sanctuary there from persecution. Ben Gurion and his fellows were afraid their Arab culture would contaminate and spoil that of the European settlers. The children were stolen in order to be raised by European Jewish colonists, who would bring them up in this supposedly superior culture.

Cook notes that Israel’s treatment of its indigenous population follows the pattern of other settler states in their persecution of their indigenous peoples, through genocide – such as of the Amerindians in America and the Aborigines in Australia, and apartheid and segregation, as in South Africa. He also notes that the theft of children was also used against Native American and Aboriginal Australian children. He also describes how campaigners in Israel have observed that the forcible transfer of children from one ethnic group to another constitutes genocide under international law. Cook concludes from the article that the lesson to be learned from this isn’t that the European Jewish establishment in Israeli hasn’t changed, but that it is resolutely opposed to living in peace with the peoples of the region, including its indigenous Jews as well as other Arabs.

See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/15/the-dark-secret-of-israels-stolen-babies/

The number of genocidal regimes and states that have stolen children is a longer than just the few described in Cook’s article, although they’re probably the best known. During the Second World War, the Nazis stole blond, ‘Aryan’ babies from Polish families. They were taken to be raised by German families, on the grounds that the Reich was rescuing supposedly lost ‘Aryan’ bloodlines. During the Dirty War in Argentina, the children of dissidents imprisoned by the Fascist state were also taken away from their mothers to be raised by respectable families. And there’s also been a scandal in Britain about babies from poor, working class mothers, who were also stolen, to be sent to Australia to aid in its colonisation.

Reading this, I also wondered if this scandal may also have been a contributory cause of Michael Foster throwing around renewed accusations about anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Reading between the lines, it looks very much like Foster is part of the Zionist lobby, which has come under fire from Corbyn, and which is very strongly linked to the Blairites. The best form of defence, as Clausewitz said, is attack, and it looks to me like Foster’s attack may have been partly to divert attention away from this latest scandal erupting in Israel.