Posts Tagged ‘Falklands War’

Conservative Guest on GB News Says Prince Andrew Should Renounce Royal Titles and Army Connections and Disappear

January 7, 2022

Oh dear, things are not going well for Prince Andrew and his fight against the allegation that he had sex with an underage girl enslaved as a prostitute by his mate, Jeffrey Epstein. Ghislaine Maxwell, another of Epstein’s close friends, has also been found guilty of child trafficking. I believe the woman, although 17 at the time, is nevertheless considered underage as in American law the age of consent is 18, rather than 16 over here. And whether it’s consensual or not,, I think it’s considered ‘statutory rape of a minor’. It may well be that Andrew isn’t guilty, just like Peter Mandelson, who also turns up in Epstein’s little black book. But as Mike has pointed out over at Vox Political, he’s undermining the monarchy by behaving as if he were. He has repeatedly tried to get the case thrown out of court, declared that a photograph of him with the girl is a fake, and claimed that at the time in question he was eating at Pizza Hut in Reading with his daughters. Does anybody really believe this claim? I can’t remember what I was doing on specific dates years ago, and I have trouble believing that his lordship would eat at a popular, downmarket place like Pizza Hut. It might be true, and there’s nothing wrong with the Hut. I’ve dined there with friends myself. But it just doesn’t seem to fit with Andy’s place as a member of the aristocracy. You expect he’d eat somewhere are little more exclusive. And nobody else seems to remember him there, despite the fact that the place would be alive with security guards and the mere presence of the man and his daughters would be a massive occasion and surprise.

And some Conservatives are getting sick and tired of his evasions and denials. I found a video today by GB News in which a very establishment guest, Rafe Heydel-Mankoo, described as a broadcaster and royal commenter, argued that Andrew should renounce his royal titles and army offices and links, and disappear for the sake of the monarchy. He believes that Andrew may be prepared to do this, as he served in the Falklands War and so has had the ideolog of service that animates both the British monarchy and the armed forces. When asked where he could possibly disappear to, Heydel-Mankoo suggests Scotland. This might help reinforce the union. His interviewer, someone called Brazier, replies that it could instead push them even further to independence. He’s got a point. I got the distinct impression that the monarchy is particularly unpopular over the border. Some of this may well go back to the Jacobites, but it may also be simply caused by the fact that they’re perceived as distant from Scotland and its affairs, despite the Bowes-Lyons family’s personal estates in Scotland and Her Maj spending her hols at Balmoral.

And Andy’s problems also don’t stop there. Another news report I found on YouTube, which I didn’t read, claims that the cost of defending himself is disastrously eating into his own personal finances. He has been forced to sell a £32 million chalet in Switzerland.

I don’t know if Andy is guilty. Like everyone else, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know how it works in American law, but over here you’re innocent until proven guilty. But his evasive behaviour, in my view, makes him look guilty and I believe it is undermining the monarchy.

I therefore agree with Mr Heydel-Mankoo that he should disappear, at least for a while. Or he should face his accusers and clear himself, if innocent, in a court of law.

The Protests at the LSE Against the Israeli Ambassador Weren’t Anti-Semitic – They Were Against a Racist, Anti-Semitic Fascist

November 11, 2021

That’s the only way I think Tzipi Hotovely can fairly be described. She’s the Israeli ambassador who was hurried off the campus at LSE by the cops and her security guards as protestors against the genocidal brutality of the Israeli state made their feelings extremely clear. Needless to say, the government and the Blairite Labour leadership have metaphorically clutched their pearl in horror at what a terrible deed has been done to her. The protests have been condemned by Priti Patel and Starmerite rentagob Lisa Nandy. Mike has put up a couple of pieces about the incident, pointing out that Hotovely was never in any danger because of the police protection she enjoyed. And today he’s posted another article quoting a number of well-informed Twitterers and commenters, including Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada; the Groaniad journo Owen Jones, Natalie Strecker; Another Angry Voice and a Palestinian gent, Omar Ghraeib, which showed exactly how deeply unpleasant her extreme Israeli nationalist views are.

The Nakba, the forced expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians to create the nascent Israeli state in 1948 is well-documented. Historians have uncovered that it was achieved through massacres of thousands of Palestinians. People were gunned down hiding in mosques for sanctuary. A group of women tried to appease the Israeli troops through bringing them baskets of rice. They were shot in the stomach. All documented fact, covered in histories of the reality of the creation of Israeli on videos available on the internet. I think a few of them were put up by Abi Martin of The Empire Files on Tele-Sur. But Hotovely has declared this all ‘a lie’. This is, to me, as deplorable as the Nazis and anti-Semites peddling their lies that the Holocaust never happened, or the Turkish state covering up the Armenian genocide. But it’s also not just the Nadba she denies. She claims there’s no Palestinian people – a common trope of the Israeli state and its supporters over here. It started with Gold Meir and the Zionist pioneers claiming that the Palestinians were really recent settlers from Syria and other Arab nations because the landlords were absentees in those countries. It comes from the old Zionist slogan ‘A people without a land for a land without a people’ – except the land already had a people. Hence all the lies that the Palestinians don’t really exist, which I’ve seen repeated on extreme right-wing American and Canadian websites.

As an Israeli far-right nationalist, she wants Arab villages razed to be replaced by Jewish settlements. In May she was one of the main speakers at a Zionist demonstration in support of the Israeli embassy. During which the demonstrators showed just what kind of disgusting human beings they were by chanting in favour of burning down Palestinian villages and supporting Rabbi Mei Kahane, the founder of Kach. This is a group so extreme that even the Israelis call it a terrorist organisation. She so right-wing that she’s even called for Israel to invade Jordan and Syria. This is bonkers, but it would be supported by Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, which would also like Israel to invade and annexe parts of Egypt and Iraq. Technically I think Syria is still at war with Israel due to the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. A madman or -woman calling for real, renewed armed war is obviously a threat to peace in the Middle East. Which, incidentally she’s never given her explanation of how it can be achieved. A war-hungry maniac like her should not be let anywhere near power or international relations.

But let’s be fair, it’s not just Palestinians she hates. She also despises Jews, who protest against the Israeli state’s atrocities. In one of her wretched tweets she sneered at German Jewish critics, claiming in very anti-Semitic language that they were only doing it for the money. ‘Oy vey my German Euros!’, she tweeted. The mad right-wing Zionists trying to shut down any criticism of Israel do so by screeching that any critical remark must be an anti-Semitic trope. But this is a real one: that of the money-grubbing Jew. And right-wing Zionists also accuse their critics of being ‘offensive’! Well, I can only imagine how offensive her remarks must be to Jewish Germans, because the myth that Jews are materialistic, greedy and exploitative was at the heart of Nazi Jew-hatred and persecution. I’m also at a loss to know quite where she thinks these ‘German Euros’ that she claims were somehow being paid to her country’s Jewish German critics come from. They aren’t going to come from the German state, which supports Israel, nor its people, who are generally very friendly and well-disposed towards Jews. Germany is so welcoming towards Jews that many Israelis go there for their holidays. Nazism is banned under the Basic Law and Mutti Merkel’s government tried over and over to show that Germany was now a pluralist, anti-racist society that welcomed ethnic minorities. I dare say that there are individual Nazis ensconced in parts of the German state. But the German state as a whole is very, very definitely not going to give any kind of support to real anti-Semites.

The German-Jewish critics of Israel seem to me to be determinedly anti-racist generally. There’s a video on the web somewhere of the awesome Jackie Walker speaking at one of their meetings, and being given a warm welcome. This was after she was expelled from the Labour party on a trumped-up charge of anti-Semitism. She’s been subject to a torrent of horrendous abuse ever since, some of it viciously racist. She’s Black, and so her racist attackers have claimed she can’t be Jewish. There’s a vicious anti-Black racism in Israel. Abi Martin made a documentary a few years ago about the abuse and physical assaults made against Black Israelis. This included a maniac stabbing a baby in the head. The German Jews, who welcomed Walker and gave her a platform are far better people than Israel’s White supremacist defenders.

And just to show us what the state Hotovely so enthusiastically represents is actually like, Omar Ghraeib have tweeted about the shooting of a 13-year old Palestinian boy by an Israeli soldier, and Agent Rachel Swindon has also tweeted about the Israeli army’s destruction of water pipes serving four Palestinian villages. This is quite common, and is a method of squeezing the Palestinians in an attempt to force them off their land. Israeli soldiers also throw chemicals into Palestinian wells to make the water undrinkable. And the tweeters also rightly point out that the UN has condemned Israel as practicing apartheid.

Nandy was yelling that the demonstration was terrible attack on free speech. Which also shows what a revolting hypocrite Nandy is. As Daniel Finn points out, Nandy will not breathe a word in defence of the Palestinians. Her commitment to anti-Palestinian racism is ‘quite extraordinary’.

Of course, Patel and Nandy have also screamed that the demonstration was ‘anti-Semitic’. No. Definitely no! Many of Israel’s most ardent critics are themselves decent, Torah-observant and secular Jews. They’re severely normal, self-respecting people, who aren’t ‘anti-Semitic’ or ‘self-hating’ or any of the other wretched, vile smears that have been thrown at them. Some of them are Haredi Jews, who believe they are to remain in galut – exile – until the coming of the Messiah, as commanded in the Hebrew Bible and Torah. Others do so because they believe Israel violates the fundamental principles of the liberal Judaism they were raised in. You know, the type of Judaism that takes as its watchword ‘Jews should always be for the oppressed, never the oppressor’. And many are socialists following the ideas of the pre-War Bund, the Jewish socialist party that wanted Jews to stay in their ancestral homelands, fighting to be accepted as equals and friends by their gentile compatriots. Over here the British Jewish community before the First World War held exactly the same attitude. They wanted to be seen as patriotic Brits and Englishmen and women, not foreigners. The British Jewish establishment actually condemned the Balfour Declaration because they were afraid it would make gentile Brits see them as foreigners. It would create anti-Semitism. Philip Gould has posted a tweet from a Jewish group over here critical of Israel, Na’amod: British Jews Against Occupation. Now I don’t claim to be any kind of expert of Judaism, but I think it’s clear from their Hebrew name that they aren’t self-haters and anti-Semites. Natalie Strecker has also posted a tweet showing that, in contrast to Israeli nationalist propaganda, it is far-rightists like Hotovely who are unrepresentative of the Jewish community: “Imagine being so racist that you think a white supremacist who believes Palestinians should be subject to genocide represents Jews!!!” This was in response to someone called Caolan, who claimed that the protests were all anti-Semitic.

Way back in the early part of this century, Blair got into terrible trouble when he arrested the Chilean Fascist dictator, General Pinochet. Pinochet was responsible for horrific torture and massacres, which included the murder of a Spanish lad. Spain had put out an extradition for his arrest. Pinochet had arrived in Britain and was visiting his old friend, Maggie Thatcher. Blair pounced and had him arrested for crimes against humanity pending extradition to Spain. Thatcher and the right screeched in protest because, well, Thatcher and a large section of the Tory party support right-wing Fascist thugs like Pinochet, and he had given us aid during the Falkland’s conflict. It was all horribly bungled, as Pinochet should have been officially told first that he was not welcome over here. Blair’s regime was also guilty of human rights violations because of its grubby illegal invasion of Iraq. But in this instance it was trying to act in accordance with international law and humanity.

Hotovely is not the head of her state, but Israel is still guilty of many of the crimes for which Pinochet’s regime is abominated and reviled. I think it can be fairly said that rather than being defended and protected, the British state should be demanding her withdrawal because her racism is so much opposed to genuine, liberal British values.

In my opinion, she’s a Fascist of the same stripe as Pinochet, who should be facing tough questions from the International Court of Human Rights. But the British establishment just loves foreign Fascists if they’re on our side. And so we could expect nothing but smears and condemnation of the LSE protesters by Patel and Nandy.

Are Israeli Politicos Afraid of Personal Prosecution for War Crimes?

November 9, 2020

I found this fascinating little snippet in William Blum’s America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy, which I think may explain some of the sheer panic and personal vindictiveness of the Israel lobby. Israel’s ministers and politicians responsible for the slow-motion ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians may be afraid that if a genuinely pro-Palestinian government ever takes power in Europe, they personally are up before the beak facing charges of war crimes.

Just before the publication of Blum’s book in 2014, the Spanish announced they were launching a war crimes investigation into seven high-ranking Israeli officials over the assassination of a Hamas commander in 2002. Blum writes

Lastly, Spain’s High Court recently announced it would launch a war crimes investigation into an Israeli ex-defense minister and six other top security officials for their role in a 2002 attack that killed a Hamas commander and fourteen civilians in Gaza. Spain has for some time been the world’s leading practitioner of ‘universal jurisdiction’ for human-rights violations, such as their indictment of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet a decade ago. The Israeli case involved the dropping of a bomb on the home of the Hamas leader; most of those killed were children. (p. 118)).

I remember the arrest and attempted extradition of General Pinochet. I don’t know if the laws are still in force, but the Spanish granted their investigating magistrates wide and extraordinary powers to prosecute human rights abusers around the world. They wanted Pinochet because for his government’s arrest and murder of a young Spanish man. The old brute was over here at the time visiting his friend Maggie Thatcher. Blair responded positively to the Spanish warrant for his arrest and extradition by placing him under house arrest, and there was much talk about packing him off to Spain for trial. Obviously it was a much controversy at the time, with Thatcher crying publicly how awful it was that such a friend of Britain should be treated so terribly. Well, yes, Pinochet had given us aid against Argentina during the Falklands War. But his regime was also responsible for the arrest of a number of British citizens, including women, who were carted off to be tortured in horrific ways I cannot decently describe. The use of electrodes on the eyes and genitals by these thugs is just the start.

I don’t know what happened to that case. It may have collapsed, because of procedural errors by the Blair administration. Talking about the affair on The News Quiz, the comedian and lawyer Clive Anderson said that before governments can order the arrest of prominent foreign citizens, they need to issue statements that the alleged criminal would not be welcome in their country and would face arrest if they did so. Blair didn’t, hence Anderson believed that the case would fall through.

I haven’t heard any more of the attempted prosecution of the Israeli officials. In fact I only know about it from reading Blum’s book. It’s possible that case could have been dropped too. But it does suggest that some of the Israeli politicos funding and aiding the attacks on the country’s critics and opponents may be motivated by personal desperation for avoid their own prosecution. The Spanish investigation was launched, I’d guess, c. 2012. That was when groups like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism were set up. This vile outfit of inveterate liars and smear-merchants was founded, I believe, by Gerald Falter, who was frightened by the way the British public had become critical of Israel over its bombing of Gaza. Or so I believe. I don’t doubt that Falter and his fellows were frightened at the prospect of the former defence minister and his accomplices facing prosecution in a Spanish court.

It also partly explains the sheer venom behind the Israel lobby’s smears of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites. Blissex, one of the great commenters on this blog, has repeatedly pointed out that Corbyn isn’t anti-Israel. Just as he very definitely is no, absolutely no kind of anti-Semite. But he is genuinely keen for the Palestinians to receive justice and equality. Hence a Labour government with him at the head would do what it could to stop more Israeli atrocities against the country’s indigenous Arabs. And like Blair’s attempt to arrest and extradite Pinochet, that could lead to senior Israeli officials and ministers getting the same treatment over here.

I also wonder about Starmer’s motivations as well. A few days ago he suspended Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour party simply for stating, quite correctly, that the incidence of anti-Semitism in the Labour was extremely low. He didn’t deny it was a problem, or claim that it didn’t exist. He just stated the factual truth that it was low. This was too much for Starmer, who claimed that he had to suspend the former Labour leader because of the hurt his comments had cause the Jewish community. He’s now trying to stop ordinary Labour members discussing this massively unjust decision. Starmer’s a Blairite, and it looks like he’s using allegations of anti-Semitism to purge the party not just of Corbyn, but also of his left-wing supporters.

Starmer is also a former director of public prosecutions, and while he was in that post met senior members of the American judiciary and Republican politicians. There have therefore been questions about just what he discussed with them. I wonder if Starmer’s also worried from a professional viewpoint as a senior government lawyer that if Corbyn, or someone like him gets in, Israel’s Likud politicos and their allies would face prosecution for crimes against humanity.

Before anybody says anything, I don’t doubt that Hamas is an Islamist party that wants the destruction of Israel. But that doesn’t justify the killing of civilians or the institutional racist brutalisation of the entire Palestinian people. I think the Spanish High Court was quite right to wish to investigate the Israeli minister and officials for war crimes. I wish all of the Israeli politicos responsible for the atrocities against the Palestinians were in the dock being prosecuted in the International Court of Human Rights in the Hague or wherever. Along with all the other murderous butchers around the world, like the Chinese criminals responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Uighurs.

And I’d like those, who use allegations of anti-Semitism to try and defend the regime, to be similarly exposed as their aiders and abettors.

‘I’ on Vote by Chileans to Get Rid of Pinochet Constitutions

October 29, 2020

Here’s a piece of good news from Tuesday’s I for 27th October 2020. According to this piece by Aislinn Laing, entitled ‘Citizens vote to scrap Pinochet-era constitution’, the Chilean people overwhelmingly voted to get rid of the constitution that’s been governing the country since General Pinochet’s Fascist dictatorship. The article runs

Citizens poured into the country’s main squares on Sunday night after voters gave a ringing endorsement to a plan to tear up the country’s Pinochet-era constitution in favour of a new charter drafted by citizens.

In Santiago’s Plaza Italia, the focus of the massive and often violent social protests last year which sparked the demand for a new “magna carta”, fireworks rose above a crowd of tens of thousands of jubilant people singing in unison as the word “rebirth” was beamed onto a tower above.

With more than three-quarters of the votes counted, 78.12 per cent of the voters had opted for the new charter. Many have expressed hopes that a new text will temper an unabashedly capitalist ethos with guarantees of more equal rights to healthcare, pensions and education. As votes were counted on live television around the country, spontaneous parties broke out in the streets.

It’s clearly not only Spain that is voting to get rid of the legacy of its Fascist dictators. Pinochet seized power thanks to a coup organised and assisted by the CIA, because America could not tolerate a democratically elected Marxist regime on its doorstep. The former president, Salvador Allende, vanished and left-wingers were rounded up and sent to prison camps in which they were raped, tortured and massacred. And just to make it clear that Pinochet himself thought he was Fascist, the regime’s military uniforms were deliberately modelled on those of the Nazis.

Pinochet was a Monetarist, and Milton Friedman and others from the Chicago school went on trips to Chile to see how he was implementing their wretched economic theories. Friedman and the rest looked forward to the seizure of power by a Fascist dictator, because they realised that people would not vote for a leader determined to destroy the welfare state.

He was also a friend of Maggie Thatcher. She liked him because of the assistance he gave Britain during the Falkland’s War. And doubtless the other reasons behind their friendship was that she had also started her career as a Monetarist and similarly wanted to destroy socialism. When Pinochet came to Britain, I think she put him up at her house, and complained bitterly when Blair attempted to have him arrested for the murder of a Spanish lad.

Pinochet may have made Chile safe for capitalism, but his legacy has been terrible. He wrecked his country’s education when he adopted the Monetarist scheme to give its citizens vouchers, which they could spend on state or private schooling. Buddyhell, Guy Debord’s Cat, put up an article about how this destroyed the Chilean education system and resulted in gaping educational inequalities.

I think it’s brilliant that the Chilean’s have decided to get rid of the dictator’s constitution, and hope that the new constitution they decide on will give its people greater access to welfare benefits.

And I hope it won’t be too long before the legacy of Pinochet’s friend Thatcher is thrown out over here.

See: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/remembering-the-other-911/

https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/chile-neoliberalism-and-discontent/

Ignore the Tory Flag-Waving: Labour and Socialism Represent Real Patriotism

September 3, 2020

It was announced this week that there are plans to set up two independent networks to rival the ‘woke, wet BBC’ as the Daily Mail decided to describe the state broadcaster. This has been described by left-wing bloggers like Zelo Street quite rightly as attempts to set up a kind of Fox News in the UK. And the name of one of these broadcasters shows you just what type of audience they want to appeal to: GB News. Two of its presenters have already been announced. They are Andrew Neil and Nigel Farage. It’s another example of the Conservatives and right Brexiteers laying the claim to be patriots defending Britain, its people and traditions. And it’s rubbish.

The Tories have been making this claim almost since they appeared in the 17th century, but the nationalism became particularly acute under Thatcher. She took over Churchill’s heroic view of British history and consciously modelled her style of government on Churchill’s. Or what she thought was Churchill’s. The result was headlines like one in the Sunday Telegraph defending the patriotic middle classes: ‘Don’t Call Them Boojwah, Call Them British’. World War II and the Falklands were invoked at every opportunity. The Tory party election broadcast was a particularly blatant example. It started with World War II footage of Spitfires zooming about the skies while an excited voice told us that ‘We were born free’. It’s a line from the 18th century Swiss advocate of radical democracy, Rousseau. His Social Contract begins ‘Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains.’ Obviously, you can see why the Tories didn’t want to include the last bit.

Thatcher passed legislation intended to make New Commonwealth immigration more difficult by revising British citizenship to restrict it only to those born here or who had been naturalised. Previously it had extended to anyone born in the British Empire. At the same time, the Tory press ran article after article attacking Black and Asian immigrants, warning of the dire threat of ‘unassimilable immigrants’. The riots of the early 80s were ascribed, not to Blacks protesting against real racism, but to the racism of the Black community itself. The Labour party was full of Commies and traitors supporting the IRA, a lie that BoJob repeated yesterday in an ad hominem attack on Keir Starmer. Britain was under threat, and only Maggie Thatcher, personifying the spirit of Boadicea and Winston Churchill, could save us.

In fact the reverse was true. We almost lost the Falklands War, despite all the propaganda, flag-waving and sabre-rattling, because of Thatcher’s defence cuts. The Argentinians waited until the British ship guarding the islands had sailed away. We only won thanks to American and Chilean support. Hence Thatcher’s friendship with the old Fascist butcher, General Pinochet.

At the same time, Thatcher was responsible for the destruction of British industry and its sale to foreign companies. She didn’t want the government to bail out ailing firms, and so they were allowed to go under. State-owned enterprises were sold to foreign companies, so that many of the railway companies are owned by the Dutch, French and Germans, while I think Bristol Water is owned by an Indonesian firm. This has not brought the investment Thatcher claimed. Instead, these foreign firms simply take the profits from British companies and concentrate on their own domestic operations.

At the same time, the deregulation of the financial sector, which was supposed to take over from manufacturing as the main motor of the British economy, resulted in capital flight. The Tories hate the free movement of people, except when they’re rich, but are very keen to make sure that the British rich can invest wherever they like around the world, even at the expense of British domestic industry. Hence Jacob Rees Mogg also has investments in a number of far eastern and Indonesian companies.

And the British Empire has actually also been a problem for British domestic industry. British capitalists took their money there to exploit cheap indigenous labour. Even now the City is geared more to oversees investment than domestic, with the result that British industry is starved of investment. Labour tried to solve that problem in the 1980s by advocating a domestic investment bank. That went out the window when they lost the 1987 election, and Kinnock and his successor Blair did a volte-face and turned instead to the financial sector with promises of ‘light touch’ regulation. Further reforms by Blair, continued by the Tories, have resulted the extremely rich taking their money abroad in tax havens like the Cayman Islands in order to avoid paying British tax. Yet the same billionaires still demand the British taxpayer to bail them out. We saw this a month ago when Beardie Richard Branson called on the government to bail out Virgin Airlines, despite the fact that he is resident in the Virgin Islands and his company is also registered abroad in order to dodge paying tax in Blighty.

The playwright and Fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw called out the Tories on the fake patriotism nearly a century ago in his 1928 book, The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism. He wrote

So far we have considered the growth of Capitalism as it occurs at home. But capital has no home, or rather it is at home everywhere. It is a quaint fact that though professed Socialists and Communists call themselves Internationalist, and carry a red flag which is the flag of workers of all nations, and though most capitalists are boastfully national, and wave the Union Jack on every possible occasion, yet when you come down from the cries and catchwords to the facts, you find that every practical measure advocated by British Socialists would have the effect of keeping British capital in Britain to be spent on improving the condition of their native country, whilst the British capitalists are sending British capital out of Britain to the ends of the earth by hundreds of millions every year. If, with all our spare money in their hands, they were compelled to spend it in the British Isles, or were patriotic or public-spirited or insular enough to do so without being compelled, they could at least call themselves patriots with some show of plausibility. Unfortunately we allow them to spend it where they please; and their only preference, as we have seen, is for the country in which it will yield them the largest income. Consequently, when they have begun at the wrong end at home, and have exhausted its possibilities, they do not move towards the right end until they have exhausted the possibilities of the wrong end abroad as well. (pp. 133-4).

Shaw was right. In terms of practical politics, the Socialists are the only real patriots. The flag-waving nationalism of Thatcher, BoJob and Farage is to distract you from the fact that they’re not.

Don’t be misled by patriotic rhetoric, the fake controversy about the Proms, the attacks on immigrants and names like GB News. The people who really believe in Britain and all its great people are on the left.

Disgraceful! Starmer Caves in to Board’s Racist Demands over Black Women MPs

May 4, 2020

Mike put up a piece on Saturday reporting that Labour leader Keir Starmer had caved in to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and reprimanded two leading and highly respected Black women MPs, Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy.

These two ladies offended the Board because they appeared in a conference on Zoom, whose audience included Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, who asked questions. The Board objected, as Jackie and Tony were two of the many people smeared as anti-Semites and expelled from the party. One of the noxious Ten Pledges that the Board persuaded Starmer and the other leadership contenders to sign was that no Labour member would share a platform with someone expelled for anti-Semitism. Hence Marie van der Zyl, the Board’s current president, sent in a complaint about the incident to Starmer calling for him to deal with them.

However, the Board’s complaint is wrong for a series of reasons. Firstly, Jackie and Tony weren’t actually expelled from the party for anti-Semitism. And as Mike says, saying that they’re anti-Semites simply because the Labour party said so has less weight than gossip.

Secondly, the two women weren’t sharing a platform with the two accused. They were merely in the audience. The fact that the van der Zyl and the Board chose to attack the two women anyway not only shows their determination to attack them, but also their failure to understand how Zoom works. Perhaps they’re like the American congressman, who was so ignorant about the internet when it first emerged in the ’90s that he asked if you needed a driver’s licence to go on the information superhighway as it then was.

Thirdly, while Starmer and the others are free to sign anything they wish, decisions affecting the party as a whole have to be ratified by conference. And the Ten Pledges weren’t. Starmer’s disciplining of the two women is therefore constitutional.

The Board’s complaint also looks more than a little racist itself. Zionism has a long history of collaborating with real anti-Semites and Fascists so long as its purposes are served. And these are frequently against the safety and wellbeing of the Jewish people as a whole. The Zionists in Nazi Germany supported the Nuremberg Laws, which defined Jews as racially distinct and incompatible with gentile Germans and signed the infamous Ha’avara Agreement in which the Nazis sent Jewish emigrants to Israel. During the War, the head of the Zionists in Hungary, Rudolf Kasztner, also made a pact with the Nazis to send tens of thousands of Jews to Auschwitz just so that a few could be sent to Israel. Israel has also supplied weapons and expertise to a string of Latin American dictatorships, including Guatemala when that nation’s government was exterminating the Mayans. When a neo-Nazi government took power in Argentina in the mid-70s and began persecuting Jews there, the Israeli government did not scruple to supply them with arms. Arms that were used against us during the Falklands War.

The Board defines itself as a Zionist organisation. It’s also politically right-wing, although perhaps not all its members are members and supporters of the Tories. And the Tories have hated Diane Abbott ever since she entered parliament in the 1980s. She was a left-wing firebrand, one of the first Black women MPs, who was determined to attack anti-Black racism. Over half of all the abusive messages sent to MPs go to her. She was one of those racially bullied by the Blairite plotters, according to the leaked anti-Semitism report. Not only did the scumbags reduce her to tears, but they told journalists where she was crying. This is in stark contrast to the treatment of Black anti-racist activist Marc Wadsworth, who was accused of anti-Semitism and reducing a Jewish woman to tears after he caught her passing information on to a Telegraph journo at a meeting at which he was speaking. Yet instead of suspending the plotters, Starmer instead has disciplined Abbott and Ribeiro-Addy.

The Board’s record when it comes to defending Britain’s Jews against Fascism is blotchy. In the 1930s when Mosley’s British Union of Fascists was marching through the East End of London in order to intimidate the Jewish inhabitants, instead of standing up to them the Board advised Jews to stay indoors out of the way. Fortunately many courageous people ignored it, and joined Irish people, trade unionists and Communists in blocking Mosley’s march and giving his storm troops a well-deserved hiding.

The Board also showed the same twisted mentality forty years later in the 1970s when the National Front was on the rise and trying the same tactics. Instead of attacking them, the Board turned its fire on their opponents, the Anti-Nazi League. Jews were forbidden to join the organisation or allow it to hold meetings in synagogues. This was ostensibly because its founder was an anti-Zionist, and they were afraid of Jews hearing anti-Zionist propaganda. But others suspect that it was because the Board itself had White supremacist views.

Tony Greenstein has written a piece on his blog taking the Board and Starmer to task for their treatment of Abbott and Ribeiro-Addy. He discusses the shameful behaviour of the Board towards British Fascism, and quotes Maurice Ludmer, the Jewish founder of the anti-Nazi magazine, Searchlight.  Ludmer wrote in issue 41 of the magazine

“In the face of mounting attacks against the Jewish community both ideologically and physically, we have the amazing sight of the Jewish Board of Deputies launching an attack on the Anti Nazi League with all the fervour of Kamikaze pilots… It was as though they were watching a time capsule rerun of the 1930’s, in the form of a flickering old movie, with a grim determination to repeat every mistake of that era. “

The-then secretary of the Anti-Nazi League, Paul Holborrow, also wrote that they were under attack from the Board. Tony is annoyed that genuine anti-racists like himself are smeared as anti-Semites for opposing and criticising Israel, while genuine racists, like Katie Hopkins, were given an invitation by the Zionist Federation to attend their gala dinner and meet the Israeli ambassador, Mark Regev. As for the Board, its previous head, Jonathan Arkush, welcomed the election of Donald Trump. Trump’s a racist, and his cabinet included real anti-Semites. However, he got a pass because he supports Israel.

Abbott and Ribeiro-Addy issued an apology for their actions. They had no call to do so, being blameless and actually the real injured parties in this sordid case. Greenstein in his piece advises them to stand firm and act like two of the heroes of the civil rights struggle in America, Paul Robeson and Angela Davies.

Robeson was a member of the Communist Party, and was thus hauled before the House Inquiry on Un-American Activities. When McCarthy asked him if he was a Communist, Robeson refused to answer, challenging the senator instead to stand behind him the next time he voted and fish his voting paper out of the ballot box to see. Greenstein also doesn’t mention it, but it is a significant fact here that Robeson was also an opponent of anti-Semitism. He gave a concert in Moscow after the War at the end of which he sang a Yiddish song by the Jewish resistance fighters against Nazism. This was not just to celebrate the millions of Jews killed by the Nazis, but also the millions of Soviet citizens murdered by Stalin.

Angela Davies is a Black American civil rights activist, who last year, 2019, was given the Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award by the Civil Rights Institute of Birmingham, Alabama. However, the Alabama equivalent of the Board got mightily offended and complained, because Davies is a critic of Israel and its persecution of the Palestinians, which she compares to the police’s maltreatment of Black Americans. The Alabama Board complained, and then issued an embarrassed retraction and apology for their own racism when Davies stood her ground and called them out instead.

And the British Board deserves to be called out on its racism. It includes as deputies individuals like Robert Festenstein, an islamophobe who appeared in a Rebel Media video with Tommy Robinson, the founder of the English Defence League and Pegida UK. Arkush and van der Zyl have also appeared at meetings in which members of the audience sported Jewish Defence League T-shirts. The JDL is a Judaeo-Nazi organisation, whose predecessor, Kach, is banned as a terrorist group in Israel. Unlike the majority of modern Jews, who strongly reject any idea that their religion makes them superior to anyone else, Kach was founded by Meir Kahane, an extreme right-wing rabbi. He really did believe that Jews are superior to gentiles, and urged Jews to arm themselves. He also absolutely believed that the Holy Land belonged solely to the Jews, and demanded the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people.

There’s a connection here to the militia movement that emerged in America during the ’90s. These were the successors to the Survivalists of the 1980s. They were arming themselves against the American government, which they believed had been corrupted by liberalism and was about to establish a murderous totalitarian dictatorship. According to their critics, such as the Southern Poverty Law Centre, the militias were White Supremacists with close connections to American Nazism and the Klan. However, according to Adam Palfrey’s Cult Rapture, an examination of American fringe culture in the aftermath of the Oklahoma bombing, there was also Jewish militia. This group also based their ideology on that of Kahane’s. Palfrey sees them, as well as the fact that the leader of one of the other militias was Black, that the movement as a whole wasn’t White Supremacist. I think he’s wrong, and it’s just that some parts of the movement were less strict in their racism than others, and were prepared to include Jews as fellow White Supremacists.

Now Arkush and Zyl did not meet the American Kahanists. But by speaking at meetings attended by their British cousins they have shown a culpable willingness to tolerate real Islamophobes with paramilitary sympathies. They deserve to be called out on this, as should the Zionist Federation for its endorsement of Hatey Katie.

Starmer should not be kowtowing to the Board and punishing real anti-racists like Abbott and Ribeiro-Addy. He should be backing them instead and holding the Board to account for their racism. As Angela Davies’ case shows, it can be done.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/05/02/keir-starmer-has-turned-labour-into-the-party-of-hypocrisy-and-racism/

https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-new-mccarthyism-zionist-board-of.html

 

Tony Greenstein on Anti-Semitic and Fascist Support for Zionism

May 1, 2020

In my last piece, I discussed Tony Greenstein’s examination of the leaked report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Greenstein shows that report still uncritically accepts the existence of mass Jew hatred in the party, and the necessity of conducting a purge of members accused of it. But he shows that these allegations and the witch-hunt were entirely motivated by a corrupt political establishment, including and especially that of Britain’s Jewish community, which simply wanted to oust Corbyn and protect Israel and its decades-long ethnic cleansing of the country’s indigenous people. His article is an effective expose of the witch-hunt, its smears against decent, anti-racist people, like Tony himself, and the absolute stupidity of Corbyn and his team in complying with the smear merchants’ demands. As part of his case, Tony shows how real anti-Semites, far from fighting Zionism as Zionist propaganda claims, actively supported and promoted it. Tony writes

‘Zionism has never fought anti-Semitism just anti-Zionism 

One thing missing from any discussion of the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign is that Zionism has no interest in opposing anti-Semitism.

 ‘Maybe there was some kind of fiddling of the figures by the oligarchs who ran the TV stations (and who were mainly, as some lost no time in pointing out, of Jewish origin)

The above quote is from Boris Johnson’s book 72 Virgins published in 2004. As The Independent notes it depicted Jews as controlling the media, amidst a torrent of racial slurs and stereotypes. Yet the Board of Deputies and the Zionists said nothing. If their real concerns were about anti-Semitism then they would surely have said something?

Indeed when  Boris Johnson became Prime Minister  they fell over themselves to congratulate him. Johnson’s previous record as a racist, anti-Semitism included, was ignored. He was, after all, a strong supporter of Israel.

Imagine if Corbyn had penned such a book? Corbyn was criticised by the Zionists for not mentioning anti-Semitism when reviewing Imperialism by John Hobson, a standard academic textbook, because he didn’t mention that a few lines out of 334 pages were anti-Semitic. The hypocrisy of the anti-Semitism mongers is breathtaking but the authors of the Report never seemed to notice these double standards.

When Theodor Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism, wanted to hold the First Zionist Congress in 1897 his choice of venue was Munich. The Jewish population promptly rose up in protest and accused the authorities of anti-Semitism. Why? Because the Zionist proposition that Jews formed a separate nation from other Germans meant that they were therefore aliens. This was exactly what the anti-Semites were saying.

Alfred Rosenberg, Minister for Ostland and the Nazi Party’s main theoretician, who was hanged at Nuremburg in 1946, wrote that

 ‘‘Zionism must be vigorously supported in order to encourage a significant number of German Jews to leave for Palestine or other destinations.’[Francis Nicosia, Third Reich and the Palestine Question, p.25]

As author Francis Nicosia noted, Rosenberg

‘intended to use Zionism as a legal justification for depriving German Jews of their civil rights’ and he ‘sanctioned the use of the Zionist movement in the future drive to eliminate Jewish rights, Jewish influence and eventually the Jewish presence in Germany.’ [TRPQ, pp. 25-26]

Francis Nicosia, the Raul Hilberg Professor of Holocaust Studies at Vermont University and himself a Zionist wrote that:

whereas today non-Jewish criticism of Zionism or the State of Israel are often dismissed as motivated by a deeper anti-Semitism, in Herzl’s day an opposite non-Jewish reaction, one of support for the Zionist idea, might have resulted in a similar reaction. [Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany p.7]

When Herzl sought the support of the Grand Duke of Baden, the uncle of Kaiser Wilhelm II, for Zionism the Duke’s

‘chief misgiving was that if he supported the [Zionist] cause, people would misinterpret this as anti-Semitism on his part.’ (Diaries of Herzl]

Zionism was unique as a movement amongst Jews because it accepted that anti-Semitism was the natural biological reaction of non-Jews to the Jews in their midst. As Herzl wrote in his Diaries:

“In Paris… I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to ‘combat’ anti-Semitism.” [The Diaries of Theodor Herzl, London: Gollancz, 1958, p.6]

This was in the middle of the Dreyfus Affair which culminated in the triumph of Emile Zola and the Republicans and a defeat for the clerical and military caste that wanted to restore the monarchy.

It was the Zionist acceptance of anti-Semitism as something that was natural, which could not be fought and only utilised, that was the basis of the collaboration between the Nazis and the Zionists. When German Jews and world Jewry were aghast at the assumption of power by the Nazis in January 1933 and instituted a boycott, the Zionists only saw a golden opportunity. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister saw Hitler’s rise as:

a rare opportunity to achieve the “Zionist solution”, the only true solution to the problem of the Jewish people.’ [Yechiam Weitz, Jewish Refugees and Zionist Policy during the Holocaust, p.355, Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 30, 1994 – Issue 2]

Dr Noah Lucas, a critical Zionist historian wrote that:

 ‘As the European Holocaust erupted, Ben Gurion saw it as a decisive opportunity for Zionism… Ben Gurion above all others sensed the tremendous possibilities inherent in the dynamic of the chaos and carnage in Europe… In conditions of peace,… Zionism could not move the masses of world Jewry. The forces unleashed by Hitler in all their horror must be harnessed to the advantage of Zionism. … (The Modern History of Israel, pp. 187/8)

Ben Gurion’s deputy, Berl Katznelson was even more explicit. The rise of Hitler was

an opportunity to build and flourish like none we have ever had or ever will have [Nicosia, ZANG, p.91]

Nor was this attitude to anti-Semitism confined to the pre-State days. When there arose in Argentina in 1976 a neo-Nazi Junta, the first in the post-war era, it targeted Jews. The most famous victim was Jacobo Timmerman, Editor of La Opinion. He was released and deported to Israel after having been savagely tortured. With the advent of the Lebanon War, Timmerman fell out of love with Israel.

The Argentina Junta murdered up to 3,000 Jews. According to Juan Pablo Jaroslavsky of the Barcelona-based Commission of Solidarity with Relatives of the Disappeared

“Jews represented more than 12 per cent of the victims of the military regime while constituting under 1 per cent of Argentina’s population,” See Jews targeted in Argentina’s dirty war,

What was Israel’s reaction? There wasn’t one. Instead it took the opportunity of the United States’s decision to cut off arms sales to this vile regime to increase its own arms sales. During the Falklands/ Malvinas war Israel became the Junta’s main arms supplier.

retired Argentine pilots and military figures who testified that in 1982 they secretly flew to Israel, where they met with representatives from the military and defense manufacturers and returned with their plane loaded with light arms, mortars, air-to-air missiles and anti-tank weapons.

Not once did Israel condemn the anti-Semitism of the Junta. Zionist organisations in the United States instead defended the Junta, minimising its atrocities. The Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires refused to help or grant visas to Jews that the Junta declared were subversives. The Knesset refused to discuss what was happening in Argentina during the 7 year life of the Junta.

An article in Ha’aretz, Argentine-Israelis Urge Israel to Disclose Past Junta Ties describes how Wanda Clara and Marcus Weinstein appealed to Israel concerning the arrest and disappearance of their son Mauricio. Weinstein said he felt the Israeli diplomatic representatives

“cared little interest about the disappeared Jews, including his son and a second Israeli citizen.”

This is the bastard ‘Jewish’ state that Lansman and the Momentum authors of this Report defend with the sterile accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’.’

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2020/04/pt-2-labours-leaked-report-sad-sorry.html

This is a lengthy passage, which I’ve reproduced in full because it is such a comprehensive refutation of a central ultra-Zionist claim. Ken Livingstone was smeared as an anti-Semite and suspended from the party because he correctly stated that Hitler supported Zionism. Which the Fuhrer did, initially, through the Ha’avara agreement. And my brother, Mike, was accused of anti-Semitism in turn because he wrote a piece, The Livingstone Delusion, showing that the Spartacist newt-fancier was correct. Mike is currently suing the party for breach of contract for their treatment of him.

And the Israel lobby and its supporters are still making the grotesque claim that somehow Zionism = Judaism and Zionists are the Jews’ friends. In her response to  the decision of a judge in her ongoing case against Laura Murray that Murray had made a factual statement, which had a tendency to be defamatory – but crucially did not rule that it was – Rachel Riley claimed that he had ruled in her favour. She concluded her tweet by thanking all her supporters, whom she claimed were opponents of anti-Semitism and the friends of Jews.

While Riley has been the target of real anti-Semitic abuse, I believe, many of the people she has accused of anti-Semitism were simply supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. She accused them, and Corbyn himself, of being anti-Semitic, because he was a critic of Israel. And it seems that she also subscribes to the absolutely false belief that Zionism = Judaism, and Zionists are the most ardent defenders of Jews against prejudice and hatred.

But they aren’t. Time and again Zionists have been supported by real, genocidal anti-Semites and Fascists, to the point where they have actively colluded in the murderous persecution and genocide of Jews, so long as Israel’s interests are served.

It has frequently been the case that the Jewish peoples’ real defenders – and their greatest heroes – have been anti-Zionists. And it is these people, that the self-appointed witch-hunters have smeared and libeled, and twisted history through lies and propaganda to misrepresent themselves as the real protectors of the Jews.

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2020/04/pt-2-labours-leaked-report-sad-sorry.html

BBC Replaces Footage of Boris at Cenotaph with Ceremony from 2016 to Avoid Embarrassing Him?

November 11, 2019

Here’s another reason not to trust the BBC’s news coverage. Boris Johnson’s performance at the Cenotaph yesterday, when he formally laid the wreath to commemorate all those, who lost their lives fighting for this country, was shambolic. Our clown Prime Minister was caught looking around during the Two Minutes’ silence. He then walked out to the monument two earlier, and laid the wreath upside down. This was picked up by Royal Central and the Mail Online yesterday, which both commented on it, according to Zelo Street. But you could be fooled into believing that it didn’t happen by the media coverage. There’s no mention of it on the front pages of the papers. Instead, the rags concentrate on trying to claim that our economy is thriving under BoJob’s wise leadership and there is absolutely no mention of it in the Scum, which is just wall to wall Tory propaganda. Zelo Street comments

The Bozo Cenotaph shambles encapsulates the sheer venality of our free and fearless press. It is airbrushing of reality that would have made the editors of Pravda and Isvestiya blush. And it demonstrates the challenge for Labour in the upcoming General Election.

We have a press desperate to put an inept, philandering, mendacious, bigoted, uncaring clown into Downing Street. Because he’s one of theirs. I’ll just leave that one there.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/press-cenotaph-hypocrisy.html

The comparison with the Soviet manipulation of the news is also appropriate when it comes to our state broadcaster. Mike posted up a piece earlier today about how the Beeb had decided to replace the real footage of BoJob laying the wreath with a clip from 2016. This was discovered very quickly by the good folks on Twitter, who were rightly massively unimpressed and wanted to know why the Beeb had done it. The Corporation tried to wriggle out of it by saying that it was a production error, for which they apologised. This, as our parents used to say, is a likely story. The peeps commenting on the switch weren’t convinced, and neither am I. Simon Maginn, who has put in an official complaint about the Jewish Chronicle’s latest smear of Corbyn being in breach of electoral law, spoke for very many when he said

You’re liars and we know you are. You lie about things big and small, but always to Tories’ advantage.
We don’t believe a word you broadcast, because we have no reason to.
You’re corrupt, rotten and dishonest, and everyone knows that now.
Labour will reform you.
Bring it on.

Others, who didn’t believe it either included the author and scriptwriter Stephen Gallagher, and the ex-Beeb/Sky/Reuters/ PA journo Julian Shea. Evolve Politics stated that it was very unlikely that it could have been a genuine mistake, as the Beeb would have had to look through their archives to find footage from that far back. They also pointed out that the 2016 footage had obviously been substituted, because it included appearances from politicos, who have since left government. Like the former Prime Minister, Tweezer.

One viewer, Gayle Letherby, sent a written complaint to the Beeb. This ran

“I cannot accept that this was a ‘production mistake’ not least because it is clear in the 2016 footage that Theresa May and not Boris Johnson was the Prime Minister. Additionally, it surely takes some ‘skill’ to mix up footage from yesterday with footage from three years ago. I, and I know many others, can only conclude that your intention was to present the PM as more statesmanlike, more respectful, than yesterday’s performance showed him to be.

“Bias.”

Mike comments that he hopes everyone sending complaints to the Beeb like this will also post them to Ofcom, which is still investigating whether the Beeb breached its own rules on impartial coverage. He also watched Politics Live to see if they would cover this story and issue an apology. They didn’t, so he sent them this tweet to the editor, Rob Burl.

@RobBurl I was looking for the apology for BBC Remembrance Day coverage showing images from 2016 rather than yesterday, which someone clearly had to go and find, to use it instead of the shots of @BorisJohnson showing contempt for our veterans. Where is it please?

So far, he has received no reply, and thus concludes

The BBC has outed itself as a propaganda arm of the Conservative Party. Its election coverage – and other news output – should therefore be avoided on the basis of prejudice, and should be reported to Ofcom.

BBC digs out Remembrance Day clip from 2016 to avoid showing up Boris Johnson. What happened to impartiality?

Both Mike and Zelo Street compare this with the outrage the media tried to work up against Corbyn’s appearance at the Cenotaph, when they falsely accused him of wearing a blue coat to the ceremony.

But what makes this very obvious media bias to BoJob and the Tories is the complete lack of care he and they have for the real veterans. The Mirror covered the story of the death of  an 82-year old veteran, who had been evicted from his squat in Manchester along with 12 other ex-squaddies. Mike reports that they were just 13 out of the 13,000 former servicemen and women, who are now living on the streets. Mike points out that almost all of them suffer from PTSD, which often leads to drug and alcohol addiction. They receive no help from the government, which means that the Armed Forces Covenant – that those who serve or have served in the armed forces are treated fairly, which became law in 2011, is a sick joke. He quotes Chris Barwood, of the Salford Armed Forces Veterans Network, who said

 “We are turning our backs on our troops who have taken the Queen’s shilling, sworn the oath of allegiance and offered up their lives to keep us safe and yet in return we do nothing to ensure that they have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies for their remaining years.”

The only help these courageous people receive comes from charities.

Mike concludes

The crowning irony is that most members of the Armed Forces are ardent Conservatives.

I hope they reconsider that position.

Why should they vote for a party that throws them into pointless conflicts, then throws them onto the streets when they get PTSD, and whose leader shows nothing but contempt for those of their comrades who have died defending their country?

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/11/10/boris-johnsons-contempt-for-the-forces-goes-much-further-than-laying-a-wreath-wrongly/

This problem comes round regularly, whenever the Tories get into government. I remember how, nearly 30 years ago, there were reports of homelessness, unemployment and poverty amongst ex-service personnel during John Major’s government following the first Gulf War. The army was being cut, and so thousands of squaddies were turned out onto the streets with no preparation or support for civilian life. Just as Maggie inflicted drastic cuts on the armed forces after the Falklands War. Spitting Image/Private Eye made a very bitter comment on the cynical use of British servicemen and women in their book Thatcha! The Real Maggie Memoirs, which spoofed the former Prime Minister’s own when they were published. This featured a parody of a boy’s war comic, whose hero is a Falklands veteran. Proud of serving his country until he’s shown the door, the strip ends with him gunning down a bus queue in rage and despair. This was also, obviously, a comment on the mass shootings that were just then appearing across the Atlantic and elsewhere.

I don’t know of any shootings like that, which have been done over here by former servicemen and women. I hope there hasn’t and will never be one.

But the Tories’ treatment of men and women, who have served their country with pride, honour and courage is utterly, utterly disgraceful. And Mike is quite right to ask members of the forces to reconsider their allegiance to a party that treats them so cynically. 

 

Ian Hislop Presents Beeb Programme on Fake News

October 6, 2019

According to this week’s Radio Times, Private Eye’s editor, Ian Hislop, is going to present a programme tomorrow at 9.00 pm on BBC 4 on fake news. The programme’s titled ‘Ian Hislop’s Fake News: A True Story’. The blurb for it on page 75 of the Radio Times runs

The concept of “fake news” may seem like a recent, politically motivated invention, but Ian Hislop takes a long view and finds that fake news was found to be profitable long before the uncertain times of internet trolls and echo chambers. He recounts the story of the 1835 New York Sun “scoops”, which told its readers there was evidence of flying man-bats on the Moon. He also learns how fake news caused a real war between America and Spain.

An additional article about the programme, written by the Radio Times’ editor, Alison Graham, on page 73, runs

Ian Hislop looks sceptically at Christopher Blair, an unapologetic purveyor of fake news, or rather, made-up nonsense that’s simply designed,  claims Blair, to provoke the American alt-right into a frothing frenzy. It’s all done,m he says, in the name of satire.

Of course, Hislop knows a thing or two about satire, and he is unconvinced, worrying that sending such pap into the universe means even sensible people doubt the truth of real and actual news stories.

In a jolly, occasionally serious history of fake news, which of course didn’t begin with Donald Trump, Hislop goes back to 1835 and an American newspaper’s pile of piffle about telescopes trained on the Moon spotting herds of bison and “flying man-bats”. It was a sensation as crowds thronged the street outside the paper’s offices, demanding more. Thus an important lesson was learnt: fake news sells.

The Origin of the Press in 17th Century Wars of Religion

The 1835 Moon hoax is notorious. It was based on Britain sending a real astronomer to oversee the construction of a telescope and astronomical observations in South Africa. The editor of the New York Sun used this as the occasion to run a spectacular story about this astronomer having discovered, through his telescope, life on the Moon. But fake news also long predates that incident as well. The ultimate origin of the news media lies in the 17th century and the 30 Years’ War in Germany and British Civil War. The first newspapers were written to inform merchants around Europe about evens in Germany, during a conflict which ended with 1/5 of the population dead of starvation. During the British Civil War supporters of both sides wrote news sheets not just to inform people of events, but also as propaganda. And some of it was very definitely fake news. This was a deeply religious age, and the wars were religious conflicts between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Germany, and the monarchy and Anglican church on one side against parliament and the Puritans and other, more radical Protestant groups on the other. Visions, omens and miracles were widely publicised, as it was believed that these showed God’s anger or favour towards the different factions. And some of these look very, very much like fake news. Such as the supposed encounter by a British ship out in the English channel with a merman, bearing a scroll in his hand. This fishy fellow told the astonished sailors that he was heading up the Thames to present the scroll to Crown and parliament in order to get them to desist. Or something like it. Whatever happened, it all seems very dubious to me, and looks very much as though the story ultimately had its origins in a tavern somewhere, written by the kind of hack, who used to write for the Scum and the Sport. Back in 1983 the Scum ran a story in which a medium supposedly contacted the spirits of dead British heroes and heroines to see which politicians they backed. Boadicea, apparently, gave her support to Maggie Thatcher and the warriors of Goose Green. While the Sport told us all how a B52 bomber had supposedly been found on the Moon.

The Sport and the Weekly World News

The Sport always struck me as an attempt to imitate the American Weekly World News and other tabloid newspapers. It was the Weekly World News that gave the world very obviously fake stories about aliens giving their vote to Bill Clinton and interviews with a man, who claimed his mother was the yeti. Quite. This all looked like harmless fun, a bit of sensationalism that despite academic fears, no-one ever really believed. But there are allegations that there was a much more serious, even sinister side to this. According to former tabloid reporter in his book about this side of the press, Grossed-Out Surgeon Vomits Inside Patient, the American intelligence agencies were planting false stories in them as deliberate disinformation.

The British State and Official Fake News

And it isn’t just the tabloid press that published disinformation and black propaganda on behalf of the government. Over here, the IRD – a department of the British secret state – used to plant fake stories in the newspapers as part of a propaganda battle with the Communist bloc. They also concocted fake stories to destabilise the IRA and other Republican groups in Northern Ireland, and to smear the Labour party as having connections with Communism or Irish nationalist terrorism. Indeed the amount of lies put out by the IRA and other terror groups and the British government was so bad, that academics trying to make sense of what was going on in Ulster stated that they had no idea what was going on. And we’ve seen a resurgence of the British government’s black propaganda against Corbyn and the Labour party with the tweets and fake news sent out across social media by the Institute for Statecraft, which has extensive links with British intelligence and the cyberwarfare section of the SAS.

BBC’s and Private Eye’s Lies about Labour Anti-Semitism

It is also richly hypocritical of the Beeb, and Ian Hislop, to produce a programme on fake news too, because of the role they have both played in promoting fake news against the Labour party. The BBC news team are incapable of opening their mouths about the Labour party without lying. This has become so bad and egregious that there is now a group appealing for funding to produce their own film refuting the lies about anti-Semitism in the Labour party put out in a recent, much criticised edition of Panorama. see, for example, Mike’s article at https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/10/03/leading-labour-figure-joins-documentary-to-counter-biased-bbc-panorama/

And Private Eye have been exactly the same in this regard. There is much excellent material in it, but it has shown itself as frantic as the rest of the lamestream press in denouncing Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites, simply because they are critical of Israel, or have pointed out that those who are, are historically correct. As Mike did when he wrote a piece stating that Ken Livingstone was right about Hitler initially supporting Zionism. That was the piece that got Mike attacked as an anti-Semite, and libeled as such in a series of articles in the press. These also claimed that he was a Holocaust denier. They were all flat-out lies, and the newspapers retracted them after Mike complained to IPSO. Nevertheless, Private Eye and the rest of the press are still pushing their lies about Corbyn and the Labour party, just as Mike, and others like him, like Jackie Walker, are still receiving foul abuse from ignorant fanatics.

And the Beeb’s history of right-wing lies doesn’t stop there. There’s also the infamous case where they put the footage of the police attack on the Miners during the Miners’ Strike the wrong was round. It was reversed, so it appeared to show the miners attacking the police. And I’ve no doubt there are many, many other incidents like this.

BBC Trying to Regain Loss Credibility with this Programme?

It’ll be interesting to see if the programme has anything to say about these incidents. But I’m not holding my breath. This looks very much like the Beeb tackling this subject partly as a way of trying to burnish its own squalid image. The BBC and the rest of the lamestream media are rapidly losing credibility in a digital age, when you can go on the Net and find out what’s really been said and done. Along with real fake news, it has to be said. This is frightening them, as the younger generation are turning away from the Beeb’s news output altogether. The Beeb is also frightened by the fact that they are increasingly unable to shape consensus opinion, and express this in statements that claim that as a society we are in danger of becoming more fragmented as people stick to the media niches they like, which may be very different from everyone else’s. Cut through this verbiage about fears about a more ideological fragmented society, and the real fear is that of the Beeb’s management and news hierarchy that they are no longer as credible or as influential as they were, and thus are increasingly irrelevant. As shown by the fact that BoJob has tried to make the internet work for him by circumventing the Beeb and holding some kind of ‘people’s Prime Minister’s Questions’ on the Net.

The Beeb has rightly become notorious for its fake news against the left, and this programme looks like an attempt by the Corporation to try to reclaim some of its loss credibility. By presenting a programme on fake news, it tries to show that it doesn’t do anything of the sort itself. And you can trust it, because the editor of Private Eye, which did prick the establishment, is presenting it. But Private Eye was set up by people, who were very much part of the establishment. John Wells was the headmaster at Eton, for example. And Ian Hislop is very much part of the same, privately educated, Oxbridge set.

It will therefore be very interesting to see if the programme has anything to say about the Corporation’s role in peddling fake news. But I very much doubt it will.

Reviewing the ‘I’s’ Review of Ian McEwan’s ‘Machines Like Me’

April 21, 2019

George Barr’s cover illo for Lloyd Biggle’s The Metallic Muse. From David Kyle, the Illustrated Book of Science Fiction Ideas & Dreams (London: Hamlyn 1977).

The book’s pages of last Friday’s I , for 19th April 2019, carried a review by Jude Cook of Ian McEwan’s latest literary offering, a tale of a love triangle between a man, the male robot he has purchased, and his wife, a plot summed up in the review’s title, ‘Boy meets robot, robot falls for girl’. I’d already written a piece in anticipation of its publication on Thursday, based on a little snippet in Private Eye’s literary column that McEwan, Jeanette Winterson and Kazuo Ishiguro were all now turning to robots and AI for their subject matter, and the Eye expected other literary authors, like Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie, to follow. My objection to this is that it appeared to be another instance of the literary elite taking their ideas from Science Fiction, while looking down on the genre and its writers. The literary establishment has moved on considerably, but I can still remember the late, and very talented Terry Pratchett complaining at the Cheltenham Literary Festival that the organisers had looked at him as if he was about to talk to all his waiting fans crammed into the room about motorcycle maintenance.

Cook’s review gave an outline of the plot and some of the philosophical issues discussed in the novel. Like the Eye’s piece, it also noted the plot’s similarity to that of the Channel 4 series, Humans. The book is set in an alternative 1982 in which the Beatles are still around and recording, Tony Benn is Prime Minister, but Britain has lost the Falklands War. It’s a world where Alan Turing is still alive, and has perfected machine consciousness. The book’s hero, Charlie, purchases one of the only 25 androids that have been manufactured, Adam. This is not a sex robot, but described as ‘capable of sex’, and which has an affair with the hero’s wife, Miranda. Adam is an increasing threat to Charlie, refusing to all his master to power him down. There’s also a subplot about a criminal coming forward to avenge the rape Miranda has suffered in the past, and a four year old boy about to be placed in the care system.

Cook states that McEwan discusses the philosophical issue of the Cartesian duality between mind and brain when Charlie makes contact with Turing, and that Charlie has to decide whether Adam is too dangerous to be allowed to continue among his flesh and blood counterparts, because

A Manichean machine-mind that can’t distinguish between a white lie and a harmful lie, or understand that revenge can sometimes be justified, is potentially lethal.

Cook declares that while this passage threatens to turn the book into a dry cerebral exercise, its engagement with the big questions is its strength, concluding

The novel’s presiding Prospero is Turing himself, who observes that AI is fatally flawed because life is “an open system… full of tricks and feints and ambiguities”. His great hope is that by its existence “we might be shocked in doing something about ourselves.”

Robots and the Edisonade

It’s an interesting review, but what it does not do is mention the vast amount of genre Science Fiction that has used robots to explore the human condition, the limits or otherwise of machine intelligence and the relationship between such machines and their creators, since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. There clearly seems to be a nod to Shelley with the name of this android, as the monster in her work, I think, is also called Adam. But Eando Binder – the nom de plume of the brothers Earl and Otto Binder, also wrote a series of stories in the 1930s and ’40s about a robot, Adam Link, one of which was entitled I, Robot, which was later used as the title of one of Asimov’s stories. And although the term ‘robot’ was first used of such machines by the Czech writer Karel Capek in his 1920s play, RUR, or Rossum’s Universal Robots, they first appeared in the 19th century. One of these was Villier de l’Isle-Adam, L’Eve Futur of 1884. This was about a robot woman invented by Thomas Edison. As one of the 19th centuries foremost inventors, Edison was the subject of a series of proto-SF novels, the Edisonades, in which his genius allowed him to create all manner of advanced machines. In another such tale, Edison invents a spaceship and weapons that allow humanity to travel to the planets and conquer Mars. McEwan’s book with its inclusion of Alan Turing is basically a modern Edisonade, but with the great computer pioneer rather than the 19th century electrician as its presiding scientific genius. Possibly later generations will have novels set in an alternative late 20th century where Stephen Hawking has invented warp drive, time travel or a device to take us into alternative realities via artificial Black Holes.

Robot Romances

As I said in my original article, there are any number of SF books about humans having affairs with robots, like Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover, Lester del Rey’s Helen O’Loy and Asimov’s Satisfaction Guaranteed. The genre literature has also explored the moral and philosophical issues raised by the creation of intelligent machines. In much of this literature, robots are a threat, eventually turning on their masters, from Capek’s R.U.R. through to The Terminator and beyond. But some writers, like Asimov, have had a more optimistic view. In his 1950 I, Robot, a robot psychologist, Dr. Susan Calvin, describes them in a news interview as ‘a cleaner, better breed than we are’.

Lem’s Robots and Descartes

As for the philosophical issues, the Polish SF writer, Stanislaw Lem, explored them in some of his novels and short stories. One of these deals with the old problem, also dating back to Descartes, about whether we can truly know that there is an external world. The story’s hero, the space pilot Pirx, visits a leading cybernetician in his laboratory. This scientist has developed a series of computer minds. These exist, however, without robot bodies, but the minds themselves are being fed programmes which make them believe that they are real, embodied people living in the real world. One of these minds is of a beautiful woman with a scar on her shoulder from a previous love affair. Sometimes the recorded programmes jump a groove, creating instances of precognition or deja vu. But ultimately, all these minds are, no matter how human or how how real they believe themselves to be, are brains in vats. Just like Descartes speculated that a demon could stop people from believing in a real world by casting the illusion of a completely false one on the person they’ve possessed.

Morality and Tragedy in The ABC Warriors 

Some of these complex moral and personal issues have also been explored by comics, until recently viewed as one of the lowest forms of literature. In a 1980s ‘ABC Warriors’ story in 2000AD, Hammerstein, the leader of a band of heroic robot soldiers, remembers his earliest days. He was the third prototype of a series of robot soldiers. The first was an efficient killer, patriotically killing Communists, but exceeded its function. It couldn’t tell civilians from combatants, and so committed war crimes. The next was programmed with a set of morals, which causes it to become a pacifist. It is killed trying to persuade the enemy – the Volgans – to lay down their arms. Hammerstein is its successor. He has been given morals, but not to the depth that they impinge on his ability to kill. For example, enemy soldiers are ‘terrorists’. But those on our side are ‘freedom fighters’. When the enemy murders civilians, it’s an atrocity. When we kill civilians, it’s unavoidable casualties. As you can see, the writer and creator of the strip, Pat Mills, has very strong left-wing opinions.

Hammerstein’s programming is in conflict, so his female programmer takes him to a male robot psychiatrist, a man who definitely has romantic intentions towards her. They try to get Hammerstein to come out of his catatonic reverie by trying to provoke a genuine emotional reaction. So he’s exposed to all manner of stimuli, including great works of classical music, a documentary about Belsen, and the novels of Barbara Cartland. But the breakthrough finally comes when the psychiatrist tries to kiss his programmer. This provokes Hammerstein into a frenzied attack, in which he accidentally kills both. Trying to repair the damage he’s done, Hammerstein says plaintively ‘I tried to replace his head, but it wouldn’t screw back on.’

It’s a genuinely adult tale within the overall, action-oriented story in which the robots are sent to prevent a demon from Earth’s far future from destroying the Galaxy by destabilising the artificial Black and White Holes at the centre of Earth’s underground civilisation, which have been constructed as express routes to the stars. It’s an example of how the comics culture of the time was becoming more adult, and tackling rather more sophisticated themes.

Conclusion: Give Genre Authors Their Place at Literary Fiction Awards

It might seem a bit mean-spirited to compare McEwan’s latest book to its genre predecessors. After all, in most reviews of fiction all that is required is a brief description of the plot and the reviewer’s own feelings about the work, whether it’s done well or badly. But there is a point to this. As I’ve said, McEwan, Winterson, Ishiguro and the others, who may well follow their lead, are literary authors, whose work regularly wins the big literary prizes. They’re not genre authors, and the type of novels they write are arguably seen by the literary establishment as superior to that of genre Science Fiction. But here they’re taking over proper Science Fiction subjects – robots and parallel worlds – whose authors have extensively explored their moral and philosophical implications. This is a literature that can’t and shouldn’t be dismissed as trash, as Stanislaw Lem has done, and which the judges and critics of mainstream literary fiction still seem to do. McEwan’s work deserves to be put into the context of genre Science Fiction. The literary community may feel that it’s somehow superior, but it is very much of the same type as its genre predecessors, who did the themes first and, in my opinion, better.

There is absolutely no reason, given the quality of much SF literature, why this tale by McEwan should be entered for a literary award or reviewed by the kind of literary journals that wouldn’t touch genre science fiction with a barge pole, while genre SF writers are excluded. It’s high time that highbrow literary culture recognised and accepted works and writers of genre SF as equally worthy of respect and inclusion.