Posts Tagged ‘Demonstrations’

Hugh Thomas on Jewish Involvement in the Atlantic Slave Trade

October 6, 2018

In my last post I put up the descriptions on Amazon of a couple of books of orthodox, respected historical scholarship on Jewish participation in the slave trade to America and the Caribbean. These, by Saul Friedman and Eli Faber, were written to refute the anti-Semitic claims of the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, that Jews were chiefly responsible for the infamous trade. These books show that Jews formed a vanishingly small percentage of those involved in the slave trade.

Jewish involvement in the slave trade became part of the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters in the Labour party when it was used to smear Jackie Walker, Momentum’s vice-chair. Walker herself is Jewish and a woman of colour, whose parents met on a Civil Rights demonstration in America. She is far from being an anti-Semite or, indeed, any kind of racist. But she was smeared as such after someone from the badly misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism hacked into a Facebook conversation she had with two others about Jewish involvement in the slave trade. What she said was based very firmly on entirely orthodox, respectable historical research. But because she left out a single word, which she expected the other two in the conversation to understand, her comments were left open to deliberate misrepresentation. They were then leaked to the Jewish Chronicle, which then smeared her. Walker herself has made it clear that while there were some Jews active in the trade, as brokers, financiers and sugar merchants, they did so as junior partners. The real responsibility for the trade lay with the monarchs of Christian Europe. As for Walker herself, her father was a Russian Jew, her partner is Jewish and her daughter attends a Jewish school. There should be no question of her commitment to her faith, her community and to combating racism and prejudice, including anti-Semitism.

Hugh Thomas also discusses the Jewish involvement in the slave trade in his massive, and exhaustively researched The Slave Trade: The History of the Atlantic Slave Trade 1440-1870 (London: Picador 1997). He writes

For a time, in both Spain and Portugal, the slave trade was dominated by Jewish conversos: for example, Diego Caballero, of Sanlucar de Barrameda, benefactor of the Cathedral of Seville; the Jorge family, also in Seville, Fernao Noronha, a Lisbon monopolist in the early days in the delta of the Niger, and his descendants; and the numerous merchants of Lisbon, who held the asiento for sending slaves to the Spanish empire between 1580 and 1640. The most remarkable of these men was Antonio Fernandes Elvas, asentista from 1614 to 1622, connected by blood with nearly all the major slave dealers of the Spanish-Portuguese empire during the heady days when it was one polity.

Yet these men had formally become Christians. The Inquisition may have argued, and even believed, that many of them secretly practiced Judaism, tried some of them in consequence, and left a few of them to be punished by ‘the secular arm’. Some no doubt were indeed secret Jews, but it would be imprudent to accept the evidence of the Holy Office as to their ‘guilt’. That body, after all, was said to have ‘fabricated Jews as the Mint coined money’, as one inquisitor himself remarked.

Later, Jews of Portuguese origin played a minor part in the slave trade in Amsterdam (Diogo Dias Querido), in Curacao, in Newport (Lopez Rodrigues Laureno). In the late seventeenth century Jewish merchants, such as Moses Joshua Henriques, were prominent in the minor Danish slave trade of Gluckstadt. But more important there is no sign of Jewish merchants in the biggest European slave-trade capitals when the traffic was at its height, during the eighteenth century – that is, in Liverpool, Bristol, Nantes, and Middelburg – and examination of a list of 400 traders known to have sold slaves at one time or another in Charleston, South Carolina, North America’s biggest market, in the 1750s and 1760s suggests just one active Jewish merchant, the unimportant Philip Hart. In Jamaica, the latter’s equivalent ws Alexander Lindo, who later ruined himself providing for the French army in its effort to recapture Saint-Domingue. (p. 297). (My emphasis).

This seems to bear out Friedman’s and Faber’s research, that Jews played only a very small role in the slave trade, as well as Walker’s statement that the overall responsibility lay with the Christian monarchs who initiated and supported the infamous trade.

I really don’t have anywhere near the knowledge of Walker, Friedlander and Faber about this aspect of the slave trade. But I hope this helps people make sense of this issue, and refute the claims of genuine anti-Semites that the Jews were solely responsible, or the dominant force, behind the enslavement of Africans to the Caribbean and Americas. And it is utterly repugnant and disgusting that Walker herself has so vilely been libeled for her informed discussion of an entirely legitimate topic of historical research.

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Protests against UKIP Racism at their Party Conference

September 25, 2018

A few days ago, on the 21st and 22nd September, 2018, UKIP held their annual party conference at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre. The event was billed as the party’s 25th birthday celebration.

The Kippers’ were expected to launch their new manifesto at the conference, copies of which were to be given out to everyone attending. The party announced that they would have “brand new policies on the economy, housing, taxation, policing, the foreign aid budget and many other important areas, all designed with the key principle of putting our people first”.

Hope Not Hate have pointed out that Batten himself is a long-time anti-Muslim activist, and since he became the party’s new fuehrer in February has taken it even further to the right. The anti-racist, anti-religious extremism organization said that the manifestos would indicate whether Batten was putting his islamophobic rhetoric into policies.

The conference was also going to include three other extreme right-wing personalities. These were Paul Joseph Watson, Carl Benjamin, alias ‘Sargon of Akkad’, and Mark Meechan, alias Count Dankula. Watson used to be the British best mate of Alex Jones, the notorious conspiracy theorist, on his channel, InfoWars. He seems to have gone his own way and is now putting out his videos on YouTube. According to Hope Not Hate, in 2013 Watson declared that the 7/7 bombings were a false flag event, and that Media Matters also reported Watson’s extreme views on race. He claims that liberals are anti-science, because they don’t accept that people from Africa and the Middle East have lower IQs and are more aggressive. Benjamin, or ‘Sargon’, is a Sceptic who has decided that his mighty intelligence has allowed him to perceive how false feminism is, and posts videos on the internet attacking it. Which suits UKIP, some of whose members have extremely misogynist and reactionary views about women. As for Count Dankula, he’s the idiot that got tried and convicted of anti-Semitism ’cause he taught his girlfriend’s do to do the Nazi salute.

The conference was also due to vote on whether to accept Tommy Robinson, the former founder and leader of the EDL, as a member. Robinson had been banned under the party’s rules forbidding former members of the BNP and EDL from joining the party. Despite Batten’s support, the vote was cancelled by Tony McIntyre under a legal technicality. But Robinson’s supporters were still expected to turn up at the conference to make their views known.

See: https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/2018/09/21/watch-ukip-conference/

There were mass protests against the party and its racism outside the conference. Yesterday, RT UK put up this video of the demonstration on YouTube. The video show protestors chanting ‘We are here to say racist UKIP go away’. They hold placards denouncing UKIP’s racism and also saying ‘Refugees’ welcome. One elderly lady tears up one of the placards, saying ‘That’s what I think of them.’ Presumably she’s an irate Kipper, not a member of the protesters.

The video shows one man talking to the camera, who states that

UKIP is becoming increasingly irrelevant in British politics. I think that’s why they’re clutching at straws, trying to court the Far-Right to try and rebuild their ranks because they are really on the margins of politics with very few supporters.

Another man say that

Since the Brexit referendum, where they were very important and very influential, they have declined and have internal squabbles and a much more smaller organization, and they’ve been associating themselves with Far-Right demonstrations against Muslims.

A third man gives his opinion on the Kippers, saying

Gerard Batten has taken UKIP to the extremes of the Far-Right, the fact that he wants Tommy Robinson to be in his organization speaks volumes.

It’s significant that Tommy Robinson is still a controversial figure for the Kippers, despite the very public islamophobia and racism of some of their members. But Robinson has been welcomed in Israel, and the Blairite MPs and Marie van der Zyle, below, of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, were more than happy to attend the fake protest against anti-Semitism organized by the North West Friends of Israel. Who are firm friends of Tommy Robinson and the EDL.

Yes, it is childish, but I’m still not sick of this joke yet.

This shows very clearly just how racist and islamophobic the Blairites and the Board are, when even UKIP is more liberal and anti-racist.

RT: Protesters Say Why They’re Against Trump’s Embassy Move to Jerusalem

May 15, 2018

Trump movement of the American embassy to Jerusalem has caused widespread protests. Palestinians in Gaza have gathered at the enclosing fence to protest. 59 of them have been killed by Israeli soldiers, and something like a further 200 injured.

In this short video from RT, the protesters state exactly why they are against the movement of the embassy. One young man says its because Jerusalem is a contested city, where 35-40 per cent of its occupants – the Palestinian Arabs – are under occupation. A young woman says that Trump is gambling with the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis, which he has no right to do. The journo then asks Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli parliamentarian, what he thinks. Tibi responds by stating that it is a licensed demonstration, but immediately it began they were attacked, he was attacked, because of the Palestinians, and they were pushed back. He states Jerusalem is occupied territory. It should be the capital of the state of Palestine. The video then shows someone pushing Tibi back, while a woman states that they have tried to arrest the head of the Palestinians in Israel. She goes on to say that they will not allow this, and goes on to insist on their right to protest.

Mike has written a superb piece about the shooting of Palestinian protesters by the Israelis, and the shameful attempts to excuse the Israeli state by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Labour Friends of Israel. He calls out the Beeb for remaining silent and not condemning this atrocity. And he puts up Tweets from ordinary people, including those whom the Board would probably describe as ‘the wrong type of Jews’, who have condemned the Israeli armed forces. He also shows footage of Israelis also protesting the move and the IDF shooting of Palestinian protesters.

Mike explains, despite the probability that the Israel lobby and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism will find this yet another reason to smear him, why Gaza can fairly be compared to a concentration camp. He talks about the Nakba, the Palestinian term for their persecution, massacre and ethnic cleansing when Israel was set up, and that the Israeli state is engaged in a campaign of genocide against them. And he cites and shows various Israeli politicians, who have not minced words and talked about the killing of Palestinians in very bloody terms. One of these is a female politico, who talks about not only killing terrorists and demolishing their homes, but also about killing their entire families. This has sparked condemnation from the people Mike follows on Twitter, which include not only Muslims like Aleesha and Nadim Ahmed, but also Jeremy Corbyn, Craig Murray, who compares the shooting of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers to the Yemeni kids killed by British bombs, as well as Tom London, Shlomo, David Clarke and the comic actor, David Schneider. A number of Labour and SNP MPs also stood outside Parliament in support of the Palestinians, though this is a mere handful compared to the larger number, who kept their mouths firmly shut.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews and Labour Friends of Israel both issued statements blaming Hamas for putting the people of Gaza and the Palestinians up to protesting, thus causing them to get shot. These are nasty, weasel words. Others, including Tony Greenstein, long ago despatched that nasty excuse for Israeli atrocities. Palestinian society is split between a number of political factions. Hamas doesn’t have the absolute totalitarian control to move 40,000 people to the fence enclosing Gaza. What is driving the Palestinians is the simple fact that this is another assault on them, their national identity and their right to their ancestral homes. The Board and LFI also took those statements down when they found they weren’t convincing anyone, but people have taken screenshots of them.

And those trying to defend Israel have also brought back the old excuse that ‘Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East’. There are two answers to this. The first is that it isn’t. Lebanon is also a democracy. It’s different from Israeli and Western democracy, in that the various sects and religions are also guaranteed particular places in their parliament, according to the size of their population in a system known as consociality, but it’s still a democracy. The other argument is that it may be democracy for the Israelis, but it isn’t for the Palestinians. Yes, there are Arab members of the Knesset, and an Arab party is represented, but the Palestinians themselves live under an oppressive system of apartheid. And it shouldn’t matter whether a country is a democracy or not, atrocities are atrocities and the state or government which commits them is just as guilty as any other.

Mike makes it also clear that he feels the reason why no-one in the media is condemning these atrocities, or worse, they’re actually giving their support, is because they’re afraid of being libelled as anti-Semites. He states that these cowed journos shame us all. Mike’s a journalist, who prizes fairness and integrity, for which he was greatly respected by the people in local government when he was a local hack.

And he’s right about this. Norman Finkelstein has said in one of his videos that the Israel lobby has been smearing the country’s critics as anti-Semites since the 1980s. In fact he called them ‘a machine for creating anti-Semites’. And years ago, when the Israeli state started bombarding Palestine, a book came out entitled The Political Uses of Anti-Semitism. It was a volume of essays highly critical of Israel, half of which were authored by Jews. I also remember that one of the people, who spoke out against that was the thesp Miriam Margolies, who said she spoke as ‘a proud Jew, and an ashamed Jew’.

Shlomo, one of peeps on Twitter Mike has reblogged, urges everyone not to believe that Jews are somehow enemies within, who support Netanyahu 100 per cent, and that Jews are as British as anyone else. Shlomo isn’t the only Jewish Brit, who feared that Israel and its actions would result in British Jews being suspected as dangerous foreigners in their own country. Samuel Montague, in his famous memorandum, objected to Balfour’s decision to back the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine for precisely this reason.

As for Jerusalem, the UN resolution that recognised Israel stated that it should be a free city. As al-Quds, it’s the third holiest city in Islam, and so its occupation by the Israelis was bound to be bitterly resented. More than that, the Israeli paper Haaretz published an article a years or so ago reporting that hostility by the Israeli inhabitants against Arab residents was increasing along with calls for them to be expelled. The reporter was appalled at this, and called for a little more tolerance.

Mike’s statement that the Israeli state’s campaign of persecution against the Palestinians is genocide may well draw the ire of people like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, but he isn’t alone in describing it as such. One of those, who includes the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians with other forms of genocide is the Israeli professor at Hebrew university in Jerusalem, who wrote a whole book entitled Genocide. This includes the Holocaust, naturally, though the Israel lobby hate anybody comparing the two. I’ve got a copy of the book on my shelf.

As for the Beeb’s silence, Lobster years ago commented that the corporation ties itself in knots trying to convince itself and others that it’s biased reporting is, in fact, impartial. Peter Oborne, in his Despatches investigation into the Israel lobby stated that off the record, many of the journalists and researchers in the Beeb’s news team complained that there was considerable pressure from management not to criticise Israel. This brings to mind the case of Danny Cohen, a very senior member of BBC management, who shot off to Israel a few years ago complaining of rising levels of anti-Semitism in Europe. Jews weren’t safe, and so should move to Israel. Which is the standard line of the Israel lobby. He’s since come back to Britain, which indicates that anti-Semitism can’t be that rife in Britain.

And then there are the geopolitical reasons, which might influence the Beeb’s culpable silence. Comparisons were made between the creation of Israel and the establishment of Northern Ireland by the Ulster Protestants, and it was suggested at the time that the British government was trying to create a little Jewish enclave amongst the Arabs in the same way that one of Ulster’s cities was a little Protestant enclave amongst the Roman Catholics. Which implies that behind this lies more British imperialism. Especially as Britain’s foreign policy in the region relies on two allies, the Israelis and the Saudis. The Beeb’s the state broadcaster, and it seems to me that it’s reporting reflects long term establishment views. And so they’re not going to be critical of the Israelis, in order to avoid alienating a valuable ally in the region.

And so, despite the horror of ordinary Brits and people across the world, the mainstream media remains silent about these atrocities.

For Mike’s brilliant analysis of the media’s silence and what’s happening, go to his post at https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/15/heres-why-people-are-afraid-to-denounce-the-genocidal-brutality-of-the-israeli-regime/

RT Video on Justice For Grenfell Rally

May 15, 2018

This is another great little video from RT of the rally outside parliament demanding justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The speakers included Diane Abbott, who said ‘You can talk about the cladding, you can talk about regulations, but there is also an attitude to communities that needs to be exposed.’

Another speaker was Clary, a Black lady from Grenfell United. She said, ‘We are here until we get justice. This is not an overnight thing. This is not a road for the swift. But guess what? We’ve asked for something and as humans we’ve demanded something. It’s our right. It’s our basic human right, and the fight goes on till we get it.’

Richard Burgon, the MP for Leeds East, praised the people of Grenfell, saying that they’ve inspired people across this country and across the world, ‘because when they see your struggle for justice, a struggle you shouldn’t have to be waging, by the way, they feel inspired in their own struggles as well.’

Natasha Elcock said ‘Grenfell should never have happened, and it never, never, never, never, never, never should have to happen to anybody. No-one should go through what Grenfell United, the community of North Kensington, and those communities living out there, with cladding on their tower blocks, should never have gone through this. And I urge every single MP, Grenfell United (did) a big parliamentary event last week here, over a hundred MPs promised their support, and we hope today they deliver that. Grenfell must never be forgotten. 72 people died as a result of that fire. And if one thing’s for certain, we will continue to add pressure.’

The video also shows a display of small, black circles, each bearing the name of one of the fire’s victims.

It’s disgraceful that after so long, the fire’s victims are still waiting for justice. Remember how the government, just after the fire, promised them that they’d all be rehoused within three weeks? That promise was very soon broken. Even the number of people who died may be inaccurate, as it’s based only on the number of bodies that were recovered. Some of the victims may not have left anything in the way of remains, because the fire would have incinerated them so completely. And instead of ensuring that horrors like this don’t happen again, the Tories have just passed legislation making safety regulations on tower blocks and the materials used in their construction even lower.

Much of the abuse Diane Abbott gets probably comes from the perception, aided by the Scum, that she’s an anti-White racist. But when she says that the government’s response to the fire’s victims also shows an attitude to communities that needs to be tackled, I’m sure she’s absolutely right. The people in Grenfell Tower were poor, and very many of them were non-Whites and immigrants. And we’ve seen just how the Tories really view BAME people in the racist comments posted on Tory affiliated websites, as reported last week by one blogger, as well as EvolvePolitic’s piece on the 18 Tory candidates at the council elections last week, who were suspended for alleged racist, homophobic, misogynist and bigoted remarks. Both these stories were covered by Mike on his blog. And then there’s the way Tweezer herself, when she was Cameron’s Foreign Secretary, removed the legislation permitting the Windrush Generation to stay in this country as British Citizens. The result has been the shameful deportations.

And Mike today has put up a piece commenting on May’s expression when she was given a painting of the burned out building by Damel Carayol, whose sister, Khadije Saye, was one of those, who died in the fire. She called it ‘powerful’, but her face suggests instead that she really doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.

Mike’s article goes on to discuss how a group of Grenfell residents came away feeling let down last week, when they went to the Prime Minister to discuss setting up a more diverse panel with the powers to make decisions as part of the inquiry process. One of them, Nabil Choucair, who lost his mother, sister, brother-in-law and three children, told her had no confidence in her. May responded by saying she’d ‘reflect on it’. Choucair went on to say that it was like it went in one ear and out the other. He complained it was bad enough having to go through the experience all over again, without having to ask for the panel, which May should have understood immediately. He concluded that she had caused a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/14/grenfell-tower-theresa-mays-face-tells-us-all-what-her-mouth-wont/

Of course she has, because, as a Tory, her sympathies are with the rich and with Kensington Council cutting costs on construction materials, in order to save money for the rich at the expense of the safety of the poor.

It’s long past time the government honoured their promises, and gave the people of Grenfell Tower homes and justice.

Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday’s TUC March

May 15, 2018

I’m a few days behind with this. Mike posted a piece on this just after it occurred, complete with the video of Corbyn speaking. So, apologies for being so late. On Saturday there was a TUC march attended by thousands of people against the Tory government and it’s austerity programme. This video by RT shows Corbyn’s speech at the event.

He talks about how we’ve had eight years of austerity, “during which real wages have fallen, there have been massive cuts in public expenditure, as well as an attack on NHS spending. All of those public facilities that have been closed around the country.”

Later on in the video Corbyn states that ‘We will not be doing a sweetheart trade deal with Trump’s government to destroy working conditions on both sides of the Atlantic’.

The stage on which he speaks has the slogan ‘A New Deal for Working People’.
The video also shows the marchers with their banners and balloons, which included the National Education Union and placards with slogans like ‘Strike, Campaign, Resist to get them out’, and one, which simply says ‘Tories Out’. RT reports that the TUC issued a set of demands for the government. These were for increased funding for the NHS and other public services; end zero hours contracts, increase the minimum wage to £10 per hour, repeal the trade unions act and clamp down on tax avoidance.

These are all policies which this country desperately need.

Asian Speakers Silenced at Far Right ‘Day for Freedom’

May 14, 2018

This is another video from Kevin Logan. This time he comments on how two speakers with Muslim monickers, Ali Dawah and Mo Hijab, were denied the platform at the far right ‘Day for Freedom’ event the Sunday before last by its leader, Tommy Robinson. The speakers included a long line of racists and Islamophobes, like Robinson, formerly of the English Defence League, Lauren Southern, who was part of the anti-migrant boat that was prevented from patrolling the Mediterranean, and Stefan Molyneux, another far right vlogger and leading voice in the manosphere. Dawah – whose name is the Islamic term for Muslim evangelism – was prevented from speaking by the organisers. When he tried to get through, he was attacked and physically assaulted by members of the Football Lads Alliance, an association of football hooligans.

The event’s organisers claim that they are defending free speech against the left’s attempts to silence them. Logan has made the point before that this is spurious, as they are always talking very loudly about their views. Also, the event was held at Whitehall, right between Buckingham Palace in one direction and the Houses of Parliament in the other. It’s one of the most sensitive areas in London, yet there was no attempt to close the event down. So much for them being silenced.

He also makes the point that it’s suspicious that the two, who were prevented from speaking were Asians, while all the rest were Whites, who had no difficulties in addressing the crowd.

The video contains footage from the event itself. Since then the event’s organisers have claimed that the accusations of racism are ‘fake news’ and that Dawah was assaulted because he tried to get through the security barrier. This has also been rebutted by others on the web.

Review: Joe Sacco’s ‘Palestine’

May 12, 2018

(London: Jonathan Cape 2001)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Far Right ‘Free Speech’ Gathering This Sunday to be Opposed by Anti-Fascists

May 2, 2018

This is another little video from RT, warning about a demonstration at Whitehall which is due to be held this Sunday, 6th May 2018. The demonstration is being organised by the far right, and include Tommy Robinson, Milo Yiannopolous, Count Dankula and Laura Southern.

The organisers have said it is to defend freedom of speech, without which our other freedoms crumble away.

Antifa have said that it will be a march of far right, anti-Muslim bigots and ‘anti-Fascists from across the country need to take to the streets to oppose them.’

Tommy Robinson is the founder and former leader of the Islamophobic English Defence League. Milo Yiannopoulos is the Alt-Right speaker and ‘virtuous troll’, who attacks gays, ethnic minorities, feminism, Islam and the left in general. Earlier this week I put up a video of him leaving a New York bar. He’d popped in just as the Democratic Socialists of America New York chapter were holding a meeting. So they chanted at him, ‘Get out, Nazi scum!’

Yiannopoulos was claiming that he was pushed and threatened, but as the video shows, nothing of the sort happened. Sam Seder and his team over at Sam Seder’s Majority Report also questioned whether it was quite an accident that Yiannopoulos just happened to go there for a drink while the Democratic Socialists were holding a meeting. It looks, they said, like he was trying to put himself back in the news and trying to boost his ailing career again.

And Lauren Southern is another fixture of the Far Right. She was part of the anti-immigrant team, who were planning to cruise round the Med rounding up immigrant boats. They were stopped after a massive outcry and campaigns by anti-racist groups like Hope Not Hate.

Yiannopoulos and the rest of the Far Right have been trying to organise meetings and conferences under the claim that they are defending freedom of speech against attack by the left.

There are issues of democracy involved, so they’re right about that. The legislation criminalising ‘hate speech’ does contravene absolute freedom of speech. But it does so in order to protect ordinary people from abuse, assault and possibly murder whipped up against them for no other reason than that they are of a different ethnicity, colour or religion.

And I don’t believe for a single minute that the far right believes in true freedom of speech either. Fascists have always done their level best to suppress the activities and arguments of their enemies through brute force.

I don’t like the implicit threat in this report, that the meeting will result in violence between the Far Right and the anti-Fascists. But I agree with the principle that anti-Fascists have to march to protest them.

Esther McVie and the Rape Clause: Adding Lies and Insults to Traumatic Assault

April 20, 2018

I really can’t let this go without comment. In one of the history books I’ve got here at home, there’s an observation that you can tell how civilised a culture is by how high the status of women is. I think it’s in part of the book discussing the ancient Egyptians, where the status of women was very high for the ancient world. If that’s the case, then Esther McVile and the Tories are dragging us back into real barbarism.

McVile was before the Scots parliament this week to give her testimony regarding child benefit, and the infamous ‘rape clause’. You can only receive child benefit for two children, but it is available for rape victims, provided they can show that their third child was conceived through rape. This in itself is immensely controversial, and Ruth Davidson, the head of the Tories in Scotland, briefly earned herself the soubriquet ‘Rape Clause Ruth’ after she got up on her hind legs to justify the rape clause. That was repulsive enough. Now the Tories have gone even lower and got Esther McVie to try to defend the indefensible.

And what did the Wicked Witch of the Wirral say? That the rape clause offered victims the chance to talk about their assault, and offered them ‘double support’.

It does no such thing. Everything about the modern Job Centre interview is design to humiliate, bully and degrade the prospective claimant. It’s all part of Thatcher’s sacred Victorian values. She followed the ‘less eligibility’ ideology of the workhouse, in which claiming benefits was to be made so harsh and degrading that only the very desperate would willingly go on them.

As for the psychological harm rape does, I know very little about it. But I do know that it leaves victims traumatised and mentally scarred. They may irrationally blame themselves, and definitely do not want to relive the experience over and over again. I can remember watching a documentary on Channel 4 about new advances in neuroscience and mental health, which included a piece about doctors in Canada, who were treating a French Canadian lady. This poor woman was still massively depressed and anxious a year or more after her assault. And it goes without saying that there are any number of rape victims like her. They don’t like talking about their experience, and they feel so deeply ashamed that in general they really don’t want other people knowing about it.

And the DWP is not known for its sensitivity. Like when its wretched servants ask depressives why they haven’t committed suicide yet. No depressed person should be asked this question. And no rape victim should be required to describe the event for an unsympathetic bureaucrat, whose only concern is to find some excuse to sanction their benefits.

One of the many great commenters on Mike’s blog, Aunty1960, posted this about their experience of the way the DWP handles rape claims.

I have witness statements on my After Atos feedback survey from rape and child sex survivors who say they have to recount their ordeal up to ten times every time they are called for an assessment as they have to again go through it with GP social worker, psychiartrist, DWP physiotherapist counsellor etc etc in order to get each bit of paper and supportive documentary evidence.

The assessors are not understanding or supportive and can ask really inappropriate and insensitive questions.

One witness statement says that all the work that has been done over the years has been totally undone because of having to go through the assessments and retell it and relive it everytime. No closure and respect for PTSD triggers, just keep opening the wound over and over again.

Some very inappropriate comments by assessor on women and their sexuality and sexual experiences. Even outright disapproval of a woman being a lesbian and inappropriate comments.

A lot of work undone and lost. and that includes physical ailments where interventions have been completely undone and undermined.

I cannot stand most people most of the time and professionals about sexual abuse and social discrimination and prejudice, Same ideas still there. This just reinforce and compounds it 100 times more.

But McVile’s statement is designed to play to that part of the Tory-voting public, who are fortunate never to have stepped into a jobcentre, at least, not recently. The people, who are prepared to take the Tories comments about their welfare reforms at face value, and swallow all the lies about how they’re not cutting benefits, their simply refocusing them to help people better. The lies that workfare isn’t about giving cheap, subsidised forced labour to big business, including the supermarkets, but about helping people into work by giving them new skills and other such specious rubbish. Quite apart from the morons that believes the lies put out by the Scum, the Heil and the Depress that all benefit claimants are really scroungers, no matter how severe their disability. ‘Cause these papers says so, and they saw that character in a wheelchair running about in Little Britain. Oh yes, and single mothers only have babies to claim the child and other benefits.You can read off the standard Tory attitudes of the people, who will believes McVile’s monstrous, platitudinous lies, almost like ticking boxes in a list.

Not the Scots, however. The day after McVile uttered this bilge, they organised a demonstration against her. Bravo! and maximum respect! McVie is truly vile, along with the rest of the squad running the DWP – Damian Green and his predecessor, Ian Duncan Smith. All of them should be cleaned out and charged with crimes against humanity for their role in manipulating the benefits system to cause the victims of their sanctions to starve to death or commit suicide.

Unfortunately, they’re likely to be rewarded instead. Rape Clause Ruth was in today’s papers because Time magazine has named her one of the 20 most influential women, or at least, influential women in Scotland. Which is enough to have millions of Scots voting SNP because of Nicola Sturgeon. Although I’d rather see named as more influential than Davidson the actress, who played Mary Hen, Rab. C. Nesbit’s long-suffering wife.

Apart from being offensive in itself, McVile’s stupid comments are dangerous because they try to justify a system that is causing people harm. And her words themselves are likely to upset victims of sexual assault and their families. One of the things I’ve learned from being made redundant along with others is that it isn’t just an official action that hurts. It’s also the dull platitudes management offer to try and make it more palatable. I used to be a civil servant years ago, and one day a whole group of us were called in individually to be told we were going to be made redundant. One young lad left in tears. Talking to him afterwards, he told me that it wasn’t the redundancy itself, but the nonsense the manager came out with about the possibility of getting jobs elsewhere in offices in the area. The lad knew that there was no hope of that. The redundancy stung, and what made it all the worse was the smooth assurances made by someone from outside the office to make it all seem better. McVie’s comments are like that, but much worse because of the horrific nature of the crime to which these women have been subjected.

McVie deserves her nickname. She really is vile, and so are the rest of her corrupt and mendacious crew. Get them out, and Labour in!

The Anti-Semitism Smears and the Tories’ Long History of Racism

March 29, 2018

On Monday, the Jonathan Goldstein of the Jewish Leadership Council and the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, wrote a letter complaining that Corbyn had done nothing to tackle what they claimed was the rampant anti-Semitism in the Labour party, and that Corbyn had consistently sided with anti-Semites against Jews. This was accompanied of a mass demonstration outside parliament organised by the two organisations.

Arkush and Goldstein’s claims are frankly lies. Jeremy Corbyn has consistently opposed all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. He is the only MP, for example, who has been arrested for protesting against apartheid in South Africa. He also has the support of very many Jews, and Jewish organisations, who rallied to support him on social media.

The real issue here, which Arkush and Goldstein’s smears of anti-Semitism are meant to cover up, is Corbyn’s attitude towards Israel. They claim he’s anti-Israel and anti-Zionist. He isn’t, but he is pro-Palestinian. But this is too much for the Israel lobby, who smear anyone, who wants justice and dignity for the Palestinians as anti-Semite. Even if they are proud, self-respecting Jews, who have suffered real anti-Semitic assault and abuse. Or decent, anti-racist gentiles, who have also been the subject of vilification and assault by Nazis.

Arkush is a true-blue Tory, as well as a massive hypocrite. He himself has been very keen to meet racists and anti-Semites, when it suits his agenda. Tony Greenstein on his site has a picture of him enthusiastically greeting Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, one of the anti-Semitic fixtures of the White Supremacist Alt Right. As for the Board of Deputies of British Jews fighting anti-Semitism, Greenstein also points out that when Oswald Mosley was goose stepping about the East End of London with his Blackshirts, the Zionists were telling Jews to keep out of the way and stay indoors. I don’t blame them for it, as Fascism has always been violent and brutal, and they would no doubt have attacked and beaten Jews they found on the street. But Fascists won’t go away if you hide from them. They’ll simply carry on. Fortunately, a number of Jews, trade unionists, and Communists weren’t prepared to leave the streets to them, and fought them head on. The result was the ‘battle of Cable Street’, which ended with Mosley and his squadristi routed from the East End. I am not recommending violence. I don’t approve of it. But sometimes, it’s inevitable. And for all the claim that Mosley wasn’t originally anti-Semitic and was genuinely perplexed at Jewish opposition, he and his wretched party were. And if the Nazis had invaded, or the BUF somehow gained power, it’s very highly likely that he would have aided the Holocaust and the extermination of Jewish Brits.

The Tories have, of course, taken all this as an opportunity to claim that Labour is riddle with anti-Semitism, unlike them. This covers up the fact that the Tory party has a very long history of racism and anti-Semitism going right back to the Die-Hards of the First World War. One of the other left-wing bloggers put up a very extensive list of Tory racist and anti-Semitic organisations, or racist organisations, whose membership was drawn from the Tories.

Like the British Fascists. They were a bunch of right-wingers, founded by a middle-class lady, who’d been emancipated by the Women’s Suffrage Act but had a hatred of organised labour. They modus operandi was to supply blackleg labour during strikes, disrupt socialist meetings and attack left-wingers and trade unionists. They once attacked a van belonging to the Daily Herald. They weren’t really Fascists, but Conservatives, and Mosley called them what they were. He declared they were ‘Conservatives with knobs on’. He asked their leaderene what she thought of the corporate state. Faced with the notion of an industrial parliament which included trade unionists as well as management and capital, she vehemently rejected it as ‘socialism’. Which confirms how little she knew about either Fascism or socialism.

The there’s the various Tory pro-Nazi groups founded in the 1930s – the Anglo-German Fellowship, the Link and a number of others, and on and on. One of the nutters involved in these groups wanted to found a group to purge the Tories of Jews. The Monday Club was riddled with anti-Semites until there was purge in 1970. But as the blogger showed, the anti-Semites were still there, still active.

And while we’re on the subject of racism, why didn’t Arkush and his fellows on the Board protest against the appointment of Toby Young to May’s universities watchdog. I am not accusing Young of anti-Semitism. But he is a eugenics fanatic, and attended a eugenics conference at University College London, which certainly did include real racists and White Supremacists. Eugenics was an integral part of Nazi ideology. Quite often when Nazis and other racists talked about the ‘biologically unfit’ as well as the poor and disabled in general, they also meant non-whites and Jews. But I don’t recall Arkush and the Board making any letters of complaint or raising any natural concerns about Young’s appointment.

And then there’s this election poster from 1902.

Okay, so the foreign master sacking his British worker to make way for his fellow foreigner isn’t explicitly described as a Jew. But the anti-Semitism is very definitely there. It was put up at a time when the Conservatives were worried about the mass immigration of eastern European Jews. They spoke Yiddish, a language descended from the medieval German middle Franconian dialect. Hence the foreign master speaks with a very middle-European accent. And while the term ‘alien’ simply means ‘foreigner’, in the language of the 19th and early 20th centuries it was very often used to mean Jews. The anti-Semitic nature of the poster is very blatant.

As you’d probably expect it to be. This was the era of the British Brothers’ League and other Conservative anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic organisations.

But the Tories want people to forget all this, and just see Labour as a hotbed of anti-Semitism. Despite many Jews in the party having said and written that they have personally never experienced it in the Labour party.

But it’s a good smear against Labour, and Corbyn, and everything he has done for Jewish Brits as well as his desire for a just treatment of the Palestinians. And that’s what Arkush, Goldstein and their friends in the Tories are really afraid of.