Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

Human Rights Lawyer Maria LaHood on Israel’s Suppression of Criticism in the US

September 25, 2018

This is another video from the conference ‘Israel’s Influence: Good or Bad for America?’, organized by the American Educational Trust, which publishes the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs; and Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. The speaker in this piece is Maria LaHood, a deputy legal director at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, who works to defend the constitutional rights of Palestinian civil rights activists in the US. In this clip she describes some of the cases she’s worked on defending Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists from legal attack by the Israel lobby. These includes the case of the Olympia Co-op, Professor Stephen Salaita, and filing Freedom of Information Act Requests to obtain government documents about Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. The speaker also says she works on the Right to Heal Initiative, helping Iraqi civil society and veterans seeking accountability for the damage to Iraqis’ health from the last war. She’s also challenged the American government over the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and Caterpillar over its sale of the bulldozer used to kill Rachel Corey to Israel. Before joining the Centre, she also worked campaigning for affordable housing in the Bay area of San Francisco.

She begins by talking about attempts to harass, prosecute and suppress pro-Palestinian students and professors at US universities.

The first case she talks about is Professor Stephen Salaita, an esteemed Palestinian-American lecturer, who had a tenured position at Virginia Tech University. He was offered a position at the University of Illinois, Urban Champagne on its Native American Studies programme, which he accepted. He was due to begin his new job at the University of Illinois in the summer of 2014. During that summer he watched, horrified, Israel’s devastation of Gaza and tweeted about it. Two weeks before he was due to take up his post, he received an email from the Chancellor telling him not to bother because he would not be accepted by the Board of Trustees. The professor and his family were thus left without jobs, an income, health insurance and a home.

Salaita lost his job due to a self-declared Zionist, who’d been following his tweets. These were published on the right-wing blog, Legal Insurrection. Professor Salaita was also targeted by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Jewish Federation and the Anti-Defamation League. Also, wealthy donors to the uni threatened to withdraw their money. The Chancellor and the Board later stated that they withdrew his job offer based on those tweets, which they considered uncivil, and anti-Semitic. LaHood states that accusations of anti-Semitism is commonly used to silence criticism of Israel. Christopher Kennedy, who led the Board’s rejection of Salaita, was later given an award by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

CCR sued the university, the trustees and top administrators. The court found in his favour, and the Chancellor resigned a few hours later the next day, and the Provost resigned a few weeks later. LaHood states that last autumn (2015) Salaita became the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut, and settled his case for $875,000 against the university. LaHood paid tribute to the immense grassroots support for Salaita, with thousands signing petitions, five thousand professors boycotted the university, and 16 U of I departments voted ‘no confidence’ in the administration. The American Association of Professors also censured the university. Salaita went on to talk about his experience to more than 50 unis, and his works on Israel and settler colonialism are more popular than ever.

The Olympia Food Co-op is a local food co-op in Olympia, Washington; a non-profit organization, it has been very involved in social work and political self-determination. It has adopted a number of boycotts, and in 2010 the board voted by consensus to boycott Israeli goods. Five of the co-op’s 22,000 members voted to prosecute the 16 board members, who’d passed the vote, over a year later. Six months before the lawsuit was filed, the Israeli consul general to the Pacific northwest, based in San Francisco, travelled to Olympia to meet the co-chairs of Stand With Us Northwest, the lawyer representing those suing, and some Olympia activists. Stand With Us is a non-profit organization supporting Israel around the world. It is one of the groups trying to suppress free speech on Israel in the US. It maintains dossiers on Palestinian rights activists. The five issued a letter to the board members telling them to rescind the boycott or else they would be sued and held personally accountable. They were accused of violating the co-op’s governing principles, and the board asked their accusers how they had done this, and invited them to put their proposal to a membership vote, according to the co-op’s bye-laws. The accusers refused to do so, and went ahead and filed the suit. After they did so, Stand With Us put it out on their website that they had brought the suit in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spearheaded by the Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Alon. Alon admitted that the Israelis were behind the lawsuit, and using it to amplify their power.

CCR then sued, using an anti-SLAPP motion. SLAPP stands for ‘Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Half the states in America have legislation to deter the abuse of laws to chill free speech. The trial court dismissed the case as a SLAPP, held the Board had the authority to initiate the boycott, and awarded them each $10,000. The accusers launched an appeal, this was turned down, and they then appealed to the Supreme Court. The Washington Supreme Court turned down the anti-SLAPP motion, and referred the case back to the trial court. The CCR’s motion to dismiss the case again was denied. The case goes on, and the board members, most of whom are no longer in their post, have been subject to discovery and intimidation. The boycott of Israeli foods continues, however.

LaHood states that these are not isolated incidents, but only two of numerous cases where those, who speak out on Palestine are attacked. In September 2015 the CCR and their partner, Palestine Legal, issued a report, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in US, documenting the increasing attempts in the US to silence and punish advocacy in favour of Palestine and speech on Israel, including BDS. The report details to the tactics and many cases studies, and is available on both of the organisations’ websites. In 2015 Palestine legal dealt with 240 cases of suppression, including false accusations of terrorism and anti-Semitism. 80% of those incidents were against students and professors at 75 campuses, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. She talks about some of these tactics and cases, such as that of the Irvine 11, who were criminally prosecuted for walking out of a speech by the-then Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. Several schools have been given complaints by the Zionist Organisation of America, claiming that advocacy on campus for Palestinian rights creates a pro-anti-Semitism atmosphere on campus. Even though these complaints are unconstitutional, universities respond by investigating those accused and cracking down on speech.

These complaints are not only brought by the Z of A, but also the Brandeis Centre, the Ampline Centre, Sheriat Hedin, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Anti-Defamation League amongst others. Netanyahu has launched a full attack on BDS, which Israel has declared to be the biggest threat it faces. Movements to divest from Israel across America have been accused of being anti-Semitic. The American Studies Association was received death threats when they voted to endorse the call to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Sheriat Hedin, the Israeli law centre, threatened to sue them if they didn’t end the boycott. Sheriat Hedin admits that it takes advice on which cases to pursue from Mossad and Israel’s National Security Council. Also in response to the ASA’s decision, legislatures around the country voted on bills to withhold state funding from colleges that used any state aid to fund academic organisations advocating a boycott of Israel. Mobilisation of public opinion prevented these bills from being passed, but now 15 states have introduced anti-boycott legislation. Some states have also passed non-binding resolutions against the BDS, but those have no legal effect. Last year (2015) Illinois passed a law demanding a black list of foreign companies that boycott Israel and compelled the state pension fund to divest from those companies. Florida passed a similar bill in 2016, which also outlaws state contracts with such companies for amounts over a million dollars. New York has even worse legislation pending.

The US Congress has introduced legislation to protect these state laws from federal pre-emption challenges, but these cannot prevent challenges under the First Amendment. Anti-Boycott provisions were introduced into the Federal Trade Promotions Authority Law, making it a priority to discourage BDS from Israel and the Occupied Territories. More information can be found about anti-BDS legislation at righttoboycott.org. Anti-BDS isn’t confined to the US. Israel has anti-boycott damages legislation and France has criminalized BDS. And people have been arrested for wearing BDS T-shirts.

She states that these laws are an extension of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. They have no defence, so they attempt to stop the debate. Free speech and free inquiry is essential to the functioning of democracy, especially at universities, and open debate helps shape public attitudes. Campus opposition helped turn the tide against the Vietnam War, Apartheid in South Africa and will eventually do the same against Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. The mounting opposition to people working against the occupation and other violations of international law shows how strong the pro-Palestinian movement is, and how it will eventually win.

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Max Blumenthal on How Israel Destroys the Careers of Its Critics

September 24, 2018

In this video from RT America of just over eight minutes in length, posted in 2015, Priya Reddy, one of the broadcaster’s own producers, talks to the news anchor about Max Blumenthal and his book, Ruin and Resistance in Gaza: The 21 Day War. Blumenthal had been speaking about the book at an event the previous evening, which Reddy had attended and interviewed him.

Reddy begins by describing how well attended the event was, and how many Jewish people were there, talking and being very critical of Israel. Blumenthal made it very clear that Judaism and Zionism are not the same thing, not every Jew identifies as a Zionist, and that there’s a whole new generation of young Jewish people, who are very critical of Israel.

The news anchor asks her how she would compare Blumenthal’s approach to that of the general US media. Reddy states that what she respects about Blumenthal’s work is that, rather than doing Israel’s PR, he went to Gaza, interviewed the victims and extensively documented some of the most horrific war crimes in modern history. Which is what a real journalist does. Blumenthal stated that the standard US media coverage of Gaza was simply to take talking points from Netanyahu’s right-wing government and repeating them.

This is followed by a clip of Blumenthal saying that he wanted to honour the resistance of the Gaza strip by telling their own stories and presenting their testimonies in their own words. And most importantly he wanted to identify and expose the criminals, who devastated Gaza, who killed over 2,200 people, including 550 children.

Blumenthal described the incident when the Israeli navy fired on small Palestinian boys playing soccer, the kids were aged 9 to 11 years old. Israel routinely targets children, but what was different this time is that it occurred right in front of an hotel where foreign journalists were staying, and so they couldn’t ignore it, and it was reported with more accuracy than the rest of the war.

There’s then another clip of Blumenthal, in which he says that there’s still a fear here in DC among the media and political elites, among the influential people in Washington of taking on Israel as it is, as an apartheid state that doesn’t want peace, which intends to occupy permanently Palestinian land and hold Gaza under siege. To do that is just a bridge to far, not because people don’t realise that here. They realise it. You could see at his talk people knew something was wrong and it was resonating. But there is a pressure machine, there is a lobby that can still destroy your political career. For Blumenthal personally, he was able to do it because he’s an independent journalist, and he really has nothing to lose by telling the truth.

Reddy goes on to state that Blumenthal’s book exposes some of these extremely horrific war crimes. There’s a long-standing pattern in the US media of downplaying these crimes, which has been extensively documented by groups like Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting and many others. She also states that it was interesting to learn from Blumenthal that Sheldon Adelson and Haim Habad – who supports Hillary Clinton – actually discussed buying the New York Times and LA Times outright. Controlling the narrative is a top priority for the Israel lobby. Israel has not only banned journalists from covering Gaza, but has actually bombed media buildings and shot and fatally killed a number of journalists.

The news anchor continues, saying that Sheldon Adelson is a big heavyweight when it comes to buying, or as they would put it, contributing or donating to campaigns, typically to the Republicans. Reddy then interrupts, saying the buy both Republicans and Democrats.

The news anchor then goes on to describe a recent incident where Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian home, burning the family alive, killing an 18-month old baby. Reddy had asked Blumenthal, who he thought was responsible for inciting that kind of violence. Reddy replies that it is not unusual for settlers to target Palestinians, and there is almost never any legal penalties, which sends the message that it’s no big deal if you murder a Palestinian. Reddy says she asked Blumenthal specifically about inflammatory statements made by top level officials, like Netanyahu, Eilet Shaked that not only sanction but encourage this type of barbaric behaviour.

This is followed by a clip of Blumenthal stating that incitement to genocide and incitement to killing children is legitimate when it’s inciting the citizens of Israel to do it in army uniform, and that’s what Eilet Shaked did when she called for the killing of mothers in the Gaza strip, their extermination in order to prevent them giving birth, in her words, to ‘little snakes’. This was the Justice Minister, the person in charge of the court system. Moshe Alon, the Defence Minister, recently pledged to hurt children in airstrikes in Lebanon, in April 2015. That was considered legitimate. What is not considered legitimate is a fanatical settler like Moshe Orbach, who wrote a manual, which isn’t even in wide-publication, for burning Palestinians alive in their homes. He wasn’t calling for that in army uniform, he called for it in vigilante fashion and so was pulled in for interrogation. So the state, which has killed 550 children, many of whom were burned alive, uses the settlers as moral cover for its own crimes.

The news anchor says that this is a difficult situation, and many people will be asking what they can do to change it. Reddy says that there is international law, but there is a massive failure of international institutions to hold Israel accountable, such as the UN or the ICC, that’s why grassroots movements are so important and individual actions are so important. Blumenthal talked about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Reddy therefore asked him why the BDS movement, which is explicitly anti-racist and pro-human rights, is so aggressively attacked by well-funded Israel lobbyists as anti-Semitic.

There’s then a clip of Blumenthal saying that it’s the same thing people hear from White supremacists here in the US: that when African-Americans talk about racism, they’re being racist, or when they talk about White violence against African-Americans, racially inspired violence, they’re being racist. It’s the language we hear from Zionists when they complain that the BDS movement is a movement of hatred, when all they’re doing is supporting international law.

Israel Based Journo Shows How Censorship of Steve Bell Cartoon Plays into Hands of Real Anti-Semites

June 11, 2018

Last week the editor of the Groaniad, Kath Viner, spiked a cartoon by the paper’s Steve Bell for supposed anti-Semitism. The cartoon commented on the complete indifference to the murder of 21 year old Palestinian medic, Razan al-Najjar by the IDF shown by Netanyahu and Tweezer. Bell depicted the two having a cosy chat by the fire, in which al-Najjar was burning. This was too much for Viner, who immediately did what the Israel lobby always does whenever the country is criticised for its brutal treatment of the Palestinians: she immediately accused the critic of anti-Semitism. The cartoon was anti-Semitic, apparently, because al-Najjar’s place in the fire was supposedly a reference to the Holocaust and the murder of the Jews in the Nazi gas ovens. Despite the fact that Bell denied that there was any such intention in his work, or indeed, any overt references to the Holocaust at all.

Bell was naturally outraged, and issued a strong denial. I’ve blogged about this issue, as has Mike, and Bell’s denial was also covered by that notorious pro-Putin propaganda channel, RT. And an Israel-based journalist, Jonathan Cook, has also come down solidly on Bell’s side and against censorship.

Mike posted a piece reporting and commenting on Mr Cook’s view and analysis of the case on Saturday. Cook is a former Guardian journalist, who now lives in Nazareth, the capital of Israel’s Palestinian minority. Cook praised Bell’s cartoon because of the way it held power to account, and indicted the powerful and their calculations at the expense of the powerless. He stated

In other words, it represents all that is best about political cartoons, or what might be termed graphic journalism. It holds power – and us – to account.

He then went on to describe how, by siding with Israel over the cartoon, the Guardian was siding with the powerful against the powerless; with a nuclear-armed state against its stateless minority. He then goes on to make the point that when criticism of Israel is silenced, the country benefits from a kind of reverse anti-Semitism, or philo-Semitism, which turns Israel into a special case. He writes

When a standard caricature of Netanyahu – far less crude than the caricatures of British and American leaders like Blair and Trump – is denounced as anti-Semitic, we are likely to infer that Israeli leaders expect and receive preferential treatment. When showing Netanyahu steeped in blood – as so many other world leaders have been – is savaged as a blood libel, we are likely to conclude that Israeli war crimes are uniquely sanctioned. When Netanyahu cannot be shown holding a missile, we may assume that Israel has dispensation to bombard Gaza, whatever the toll on civilians.

And when we see the furore created over a cartoon like Bell’s, we can only surmise that other, less established cartoonists will draw the appropriate conclusion: keep away from criticising Israel because it will harm your personal and professional reputation.

He then makes the point that doing so plays into the hands of real anti-Semites, and generates more:

When we fail to hold Israel to account; when we concede to Israel, a nuclear-armed garrison state, the sensitivities of a Holocaust victim; when we so mistake moral priorities that we elevate the rights of a state over the rights of the Palestinians it victimises, we not only fuel the prejudices of the anti-Semite but we make his arguments appealing to others. We do not help to stamp out anti-Semitism, we encourage it to spread. That is why Viner and the Guardian have transgressed not just against Bell, and against the art of political cartoons, and against justice for the Palestinians, but also against Jews and their long-term safety.

Mike goes on to make the point that we need to be more critical about the raving paranoiacs, who see anti-Semitism in Steve Bell’s cartoon, and also in Gerald Scarfe’s depiction of Netanyahu building his anti-Palestinian wall using the blood and bodies of the Palestinians themselves. This was attacked by Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador, as ‘anti-Semitic’, who claimed that it was a reference to the Blood Libel. It wasn’t, but the I apologised anyway. Mike goes on to say that there is no such thing as an unintentional anti-Semite, but authorial intentions are routinely ignored in these cases.

He then goes to state very clearly that as the authorial intentions of these cartoons weren’t anti-Semitic, Viner was wrong about Bell’s cartoon. Just as the Sunset Times, as Private Eye dubbed the rag, was wrong about Scarfe and Mike himself, as was the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. And so are the people, who’ve accused Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and so many others of anti-Semitism. And in the meantime, Netanyahu gets away with mass murder.

Mike concludes

But Mr Cook is right – these attitudes only fuel real anti-Semitism among those who draw the only logical conclusion about what’s going on in the media, which is that the Establishment is protecting the Israeli government against censure for its crimes.

It suggests to me that all those involved in this charade have been creating problems that will come back to harm all of us in the future.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/06/09/israel-based-journo-shows-how-guardian-editor-helped-anti-semites-by-censoring-steve-bell/

Now part of the problem here could be certain developments in anti-racism and postmodernist literary theory. For example, some anti-racist activists have argued that there is such a thing as unconscious racism, and have used it to accuse people and material they have seen as spreading or legitimising racism, but without any conscious intent to do so.

In postmodernist literary theory, the author’s intent is irrelevant. In the words of one French postmodernist literary theorist, ‘all that exists is the text’. And one person’s interpretation of the text is as good as another’s.

Hence, those arguing that the above cartoons are anti-Semitic, could do so citing these ideas above.

Now there clearly is something to unconscious racism. If you look back at some of the discussions and depictions of racial issues in 1970s popular culture, they are often horrendously racist by today’s standards. But they weren’t seen as such then, and I dare say many of those responsible for some of them genuinely didn’t believe they were being racist, nor intended to do so. And unconscious racism is irrelevant in this case too. The accusers have not argued that these cartoons are unconsciously racist. They’ve simply declared that they are, without any kind of qualification. Which implies that their authors must be deliberately anti-Semitic, which is a gross slur.

As for postmodernist literary theory, the accusers haven’t cited that either. And if they did, it could also easily be turned against them. If there are no privileged readings of a particular text, then the view of someone, who thought Bell’s cartoon was anti-Semitic, is no more valid than the person, who didn’t. Which cuts the ground out from such accusations. That argument doesn’t stand up either, though here again, the people making the accusations of anti-Semitism haven’t used it.

Nevertheless, their arguments about the anti-Semitic content of these cartoons and the strained parallels they find with the Holocaust, or anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, are very reminiscent of the postmodernist texts the American mathematician Sokal, and the Belgian philosopher Bricmont, used to demolish the intellectual pretensions of postmodernism in their 1990s book, Intellectual Impostures. One of the texts they cited was by a French feminist arguing that women were being prevented from taking up careers in science. It’s a fair point, albeit still controversial amongst some people on the right. However, part of her evidence for this didn’t come from studies showing that girls start off with a strong interest in science like boys, only to have it crushed out of them later in their schooling. No! This strange individual based part of her argument on the medieval coat of arms for Brussels, which shows frogs in a marsh. Which somehow represents the feminine. Or at least, it did to her. For most of us, the depiction of frogs in a marsh in the coat of arms for Brussels is a depiction of precisely that: frogs in a marsh. Because, I have no doubt, the land Brussels was founded on was marshy.

But Cook and Mike are right about these accusations, and the favouritism shown to Israel, playing into the hands of anti-Semites.

The storm troopers of the right are very fond of a quote from Voltaire: ‘If you want to know who rules over you, ask who it is you can’t criticise’. Or words to that effect. Depending on whether the person using the quote is an anti-Semite or an Islamophobe, the answer they’ll give will be ‘the Jews’ or ‘the Muslims’.

Of course, their choice of the French Enlightenment philosopher is more than somewhat hypocritical. Voltaire hated intolerance, and in the early stages before it became aggressively anti-religious, the French Revolution stood for religious toleration. A set of playing cards made to celebrate it showed on one card the Bible with the Talmud, the Jewish holy book containing extra-Biblical lore and guidance, and the Qu’ran.

But by ruling that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, the Israel lobby very much appears to show – entirely falsely – that the anti-Semites are right, and that the Jews really are in control of the rest of us. It gives an utterly false, specious confirmation of the very conspiracy theories they claim to have found in the works of the people they denounce. The same conspiracy theories they claim to oppose, and which have been responsible for the horrific suffering of millions of innocent Jews.

It’s high time this was stopped, and accusations of anti-Semitism treated with the same impartial judgement as other claims of bias or racism. And false accusations should be firmly rejected as a slur, and apologies and restitution demanded from the libellers.

Gordon Dimmack on Frankie Boyle Pushing Anti-Labour Anti-Semitism Smears on New Show

May 28, 2018

Another week, another pile of steaming BBC propaganda against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. In this video, Gordon Dimmack talks about the first edition of Frankie Boyle’s new show, Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, and in particular it’s very strong bias towards Israel, and against the Labour party. Boyle began the show with a joke about the Israelis shooting Arabs. This was topical, as the show was broadcast the same week as the Gaza massacre. But this was cut. This was the only joke or comment Boyle made about Israel. Instead, Boyle spent a long time talking about the problems of the Labour party under the headline ‘In four years time Labour will lose Britain’s last ever general election’. He then went on to discuss its putative problem with anti-Semitism with David Baddiel.

Dimmack says about the video on its YouTube page:

As the BBC cut his jokes about Israel, Frankie Boyle and David Baddiel have come under fire for discussing anti-Semitism in the Labour party, rather than the Gaza massacre – but is it fair they are under attack? Or is this another case of BBC editing?

I’m afraid I can’t tell you. The video’s just over 34 minutes long, and I only had the heart to watch the first couple of minutes. This just seemed to tell you all you really needed to know: that it was just the Beeb repeating the smears against the Labour party again. If you want to see it, here it is:

I am not surprised that the Beeb cut the joke about the Israelis. I dare say the Corporation would defend, and argue that they had to do it on grounds of taste. However, Peter Oborne in his programme on the Israel lobby for Channel 4’s Despatches noted that of the record many of the BBC newsroom staff said that there was pressure on them from higher management to give a positive bias to stories about Israel. Presumably this pressure came from managers like Danny Cohen, the Beeb’s director of programming, who ran off to Israel a few years ago screaming the Israel lobby’s lies that anti-Semitism was at its highest in Europe since the 1930s, and Jews should move to Israel for their safety. He’s since returned from Britain, so obviously the level of anti-Semitism in this country isn’t like that of Nazi Germany. In fact, it’s nowhere near. Polls show that only 7 per cent of Brits have negative feelings about Jews. Most people either have positive views of them, or simply don’t see them as either bad or good.

And while I’m not complacent about the problem of anti-Semitism and racism in British society, with the exception of grotesque Nazi groups like the banned terrorist organisation, National Action, there aren’t nutters goose-stepping around in uniforms, trying to hold torchlight rallies or swearing their eternal allegiance to Hitler. And those groups that do, like National Action, have minute memberships. As an electoral force, the BNP is effectively defunct, as they announced a few months ago that they wouldn’t be fighting the council elections.

As for anti-Semitism in the Labour party, Mike has pointed out that yes, it does have its anti-Semites. But anti-Semitism is actually lower in it than in the rest of British society and some other, competing parties: like the Tories. But most of the people, who’ve been accused of anti-Semitism were cynically smeared as such, not because they were, but because they opponents of Israel, or at least its seven-decades long policy of persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Or, like Mike, they defended those, who had been smeared.

I’m not impressed with David Baddiel appearing on the programme either. He is a really funny comedian and comic writer, and very intelligent. He’s got a Ph.D. from Oxford, along with a double first. But if he does really believe that the Labour party has a genuine problem with anti-Semitism, then all I can say is that he’s checked his brains at the door and allowed himself to be deceived by the Israel lobby.

I’ve no doubt that if you complained about the show’s content to the Beeb, you’d just get the standard piece of pompous verbiage telling you that everyone in the Beeb’s news team is trained to be scrupulously impartial. Or they’d tell you that the programme represents the presenter’s personal views; or that the BBC is required to represent a wide variety of viewpoints, and so on.

Whatever they would say to justify it, this is still just more of the Beeb’s right-wing, Conservative, pro-Israel bias against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.

Palestinians Request International Criminal Court to Investigate Gaza Massacre

May 27, 2018

This is a short report from the Arab news channel, Al-Jazeera. The Palestinian foreign minister has asked the International Criminal Court in the Hague to investigate Israel after the Gaza massacre last week. Israel is trying to block the move, on the grounds that it isn’t a member of the court, and Palestine isn’t a state. On the other hand, Palestine has been granted membership of the court, but the court has said it will only investigate crimes that have happened since Palestine became a member in 2014. The video includes an interview with a Palestinian politicians, who says that if the Court does decide to investigate, it means that certain Israeli politicians will be unable to travel to Europe, where many countries are also members of the court. He states that this isn’t about punishing the soldiers, but bringing the politicians responsible for the massacre to justice. The news team also talk to a Palestinian family, whose father, a disabled man in a wheelchair, was killed by Israeli soldiers in the massacre. They are obviously looking forward to the massacre and those responsible being investigated. The report concludes with the statement that it is now up to the court to decide what to do.

Ken Livingstone Talks about his Resignation from the Labour Party due to Anti-Semitism Smears

May 24, 2018

On Monday, Ken Livingstone resigned from the Labour party. He had been suspended from the party following the smears that he was an anti-Semite and had claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. This was completely untrue. As Red Ken goes on to say in the interview with RT, he never claimed that Hitler was a Zionist, only that he briefly supported Zionism. It is abundantly clear if you read Livingstone’s 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, that a racist of any stripe is the very last thing the former head of the GLC is. He makes it very clear that he is firmly opposed to anti-Semitism as well as anti-Black and anti-Irish racism, and details with the disgust and outrage the way the British state recruited Nazis, including those responsible for pogroms against the Jews and the Holocaust, as agents in the Cold War struggle against Communism. The claim that Livingstone said Hitler was a Zionist is an invention of John Mann, the Blairites and the Israel lobby, and repeated ad nauseam, ad infinitum, by the Conservative press and media in order to smear and discredit him. And they are still doing it. Deborah Orr, one of the wretched columnists in the I newspaper, claimed that he had said the Hitler was a Zionist, which shows how much she, and her editor, care about factual reporting. Mike has also covered on his blog how the Israel lobby continue to point to an interview Red Ken gave on Sky as showing that he was anti-Semitic. Which also shows they haven’t bothered to watch it, as in the interview Ken thoroughly refutes the allegations and shoots down those making them.

In this interview, Livingstone answers the question why it has taken him so long to resign. He replies that his instinct has always been to fight on to the end, whether it was against Thatcher or Tony Blair. But he chose to resign now because the controversy and lies surrounding him were becoming too much of a distraction. He was suspended two years ago in 2016. After a year, there was another three day hearing, which couldn’t refute the charges against him, and so extended the suspension for another year. He wanted to take his accusers to court, but was told by his lawyer that it would take at least two years to get there. He considered that it was too much of a distraction from Labour’s real programme under Corbyn, which he makes very clear has a real chance of winning.

When asked about whether the allegations have damaged Labour’s chances, for example, in Barnet, which has a high Jewish population, Red Ken said that of course people would be shocked when they hear that he said that Hitler was a Zionist, that it’s not anti-Semitic to hate Jews in Israel, or that Jews are Nazis, but he was struck by the number of Jews, who came up to him on the street to tell him that they knew what he said was true. This was that in 1933 Hitler and the Zionists made a deal to send some Jews to Israel. They didn’t like each other, but as a result, 60,000 Jews emigrated to Palestine. If they had stayed in Germany, they would have been murdered in the Holocaust. So it’s the lesser of two evils, according to Livingstone.

When the interviewer asks him if these allegations haven’t put a dent in Labour’s electoral chances, such as in Barnet, Livingstone tells him that half a dozen Jews have asked him on the street why he claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. And he’s told them that he never said that. Unfortunately, Livingstone never completes that reply due to a technical fault.

The interviewer then moves on to ask him if he really believes that Labour has a chance under Corbyn. Livingstone says clearly that everyone said that Labour would be wiped out during the next election. But in fact, Corbyn delivered the greatest increase in the Labour vote since the 1945 election, and they came within two per cent of the Tories. They could have gotten more, if the party had been united and MPs hadn’t been trying to unseat their leader. He states that Corbyn has excellent plans for massive public investment, improved service, creating new jobs and investing in high tech industries. That connected with people, and will connect with people at the next election.

The interview ends with the question of what Livingstone will do now that he’s retired from politics and whether he will return. Livingstone states that he retired from politics after he lost the election to Boris Johnson in 2012. Now he’s an old age pensioner and a house-husband, walking the kids and feeding the dog.

It’s a very, very good interview with Livingstone making it very clear that he definitely did not say what the liars in the Blairites, the Israel lobby and the press have accused him of. As for Jews telling Livingstone that they know he didn’t say those things, I can well believe this. Mike has put up innumerable pieces on his blog showing the support of many Jews and Jewish groups for Corbyn and the victims of the anti-Semitism smears, pointing out that there is absolutely no truth in them. Especially as so many of those libelled as anti-Semites are self-respecting Jews. The alliance between the Nazis and the Zionists is solid historical fact, and included in respected historical studies of the Holocaust, such as that of the Zionist historian, David Cesarani. It was called the Ha’avara agreement, and there’s a page on it on the site of the International Holocaust Museum in Israel. All you have to do is google it to find out that what Livingstone said was the truth.

Mike is disappointed with Ken’s decision to resign, as this also affects the legal chances of those, like him, who have been smeared trying to defend Livingstone. He writes

The shame of it is that certain people will take Mr Livingstone’s decision as an admission of guilt – and that he will not have the opportunity to put the record straight.

That means he is letting down others who have been put in the same situation (like This Writer).

I’m not backing down – and if Labour’s disciplinary panel find against me, I’ll happily sue the party because my good name is not a negotiable commodity.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/21/ken-livingstone-quits-labour-not-due-to-any-guilt-but-because-of-the-row-kicked-up-by-right-whingers/

It goes without saying that I’m backing Mike, and everybody else who has been foully smeared by these contemptible knaves, 100 per cent. While I understand why Livingstone has raised, I am afraid this will just serve to encourage the Blairites and the Israel lobby in their campaign against Corbyn and the true Labour moderates. They will not be placated by just taking down a few, sacrificial supporters, like Livingstone. Now that they’ve seen their campaign is effective, they will keep on and on. The best defence is attack, and the only way to tackle them is to meet them head on, and refute every one of their dam’ lies. They are not as secure as they think they are. The Blairites live in holy terror of the constituency parties deselecting them. The Israel lobby itself is becoming painfully aware that smears of anti-Semitism aren’t having the affect they used to have. And Jonathan Arkush’s own position as president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews is looking very rocky after his disgusting comments trying to cast the blame on the victims of the Gaza massacre, rather than the Israelis.

The Blairites and the Israel lobby are bullies. They are in a far weaker position than they wish to appear, and are responding by smears, lies and throwing their weight around. But you can stand up to bullies, and bring them down.

Boris Blusters as Thornberry Tells Him to Resign

May 24, 2018

I’ve already put one piece up, commenting on how Boris ran from the chamber when Emily Thornberry rose to ask for the government’s comment about the Gaza massacre. Just as he also ran away from her in February, when she terrified him with a question about Northern Ireland. And in this short video from RT, she lays into Johnson again, over the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Mike reported last week that the Iranians had added yet another trumped up charge to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s list of spurious crimes, and increased her sentence. This time she has been charged with spreading propaganda. It’s sheer nonsense, of course, but it shows the arbitrary, despotic nature of the regime.

However, this woman’s plight has been compounded by the sheer, hamfisted incompetence of the current Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson. The Iranian government claimed that she was really spying, and had been teaching journalism during her stay in the country. She hadn’t. She’d actually been taking her daughter, Gabrielle, to meet her Iranian family. Boris, however, decided to leap in with both feet, and claimed in a TV interview that she had indeed been teaching journalism, thus apparently confirming the Iranians’ charges.

There was naturally an outcry against Boris for so ignorantly making the situation worse. So Michael Gove decided to exercise his minuscule intellect, and appeared on television to defend BoJo. And he made matters worse, by stating in an interview that ‘we don’t know what she’s doing’. In fact, the government knew perfectly well what she was doing, and BoJo and Gove only had to look at the briefing papers. Neither of them appear to have bothered. This wouldn’t have surprised Ken Livingstone, who said that Boris often didn’t read them.

Mike in his article about the issue raised the obvious question of why Boris Johnson is still Foreign Secretary, considering all he’s done is make matters worse. He concluded that he is only there, because someone wants him there, not because he has any talent.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/21/innocent-brit-faces-more-years-in-iranian-jail-tory-who-failed-to-rescue-her-is-still-foreign-secretary/

In the video, Thornberry turns her attention to Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, and asks how many times more times must Boris this happen? How many more times must he insult our international partners and damage our international relations, and imperil British nationals abroad, before Tweezer sacks him? And if she doesn’t, because she doesn’t have the strength or authority perhaps Boris himself should show a bit of personal authority that this job, where words have gravity and actions have consequences, is not for him.

BoJo then bounces up and starts blustering, stating that it is unfair to attack the Foreign Office, that have been working day and night so secure Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release. To which Thornberry simply mouthes ‘Just you’, pointing to the fatuous buffoon. He then goes on to claim that her comments are a distraction from the people, who are really responsible for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s situation.

This then provokes heated remarks from both sides, with the Deputy Speaker crying for order.

Boris is right that the people really responsible for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment are the Iranians. But they’ve been assisted in this by Boris’ massive incompetence. It’s also very clear to me that they’re holding her as a political bargaining chip. When they first imprisoned her, Boris ended flying out to Tehran, and Britain mysteriously unlocked about £250 million of Iranian funds, that had previously been frozen in banks over here. Both sides claimed that this was unrelated to Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment, but it looks far too much that it was very much connected for the excuse that it was all coincidence to be at all convincing. The problem is that the Iranians have learned that all they have to do is retain Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and add a few more years to her sentence, and the government will automatically try anything to secure her release. Try and fail, because she’s too big an asset for them to throw away now.

And I think that the fresh charges they’ve drummed up against Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe are not unrelated to the current crisis in American-Iranian relations. America has imposed sanctions on Iran, and has blocked them from using the dollar as their currency of international trade. Even third party companies, who are not American, are prevented from trading with Iran in dollars, if they wish to do business in America. This is intended to make it difficult for the Iranians to trade oil, as the Americans have made the dollar the international trade currency for it. This has the benefit, for the Americans, of boosting their economy. If the world stopped using the petrodollar, and switched to another currency, the American economy would be devastated. Hence one possible motive for the Americans’ overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi was because the Libyan dictator was planning to ditch the dollar, and set up the dinar as an alternative trade currency. Venezuela was also planning to ditch the dollar. And the Russians and Chinese have also made similar plans.
And the Iranians have gone through with theirs, and replaced the dollar with the euro. This has resulted in Trump and his colleagues going berserk, and threatening all kinds of reprisals against Iran and Europe.

Also, while many Iranians are probably quietly in favour of better relations with the West, official Iranian ideology demonises both America and Britain. America is ‘the great Satan’, while Britain is ‘the little Satan’. And there is much popular suspicion and hatred of Britain as the country’s former colonial master. The country was never formally incorporated into the British Empire, but we owned their oil industry and interfered many times in their politics from the 19th century onwards. The Qajar shahs were overthrown and replaced with the Pahlavis because they took out loans with us for modernisation, which they could not repay. And we overthrew their last, democratically elected president, Mossadeq, because he nationalised the Iranian oil industry. The Iranians therefore have a saying, ‘If there’s a pebble in your path, it was put there by a Brit.’

The Iranian dissident, Shirin Ebadi, has said that so great is this popular hatred of Britain, America and the West, that it is actually harmful for them to support Iranian dissident movements. When that is done, the Iranian authorities try to undermine them by claiming that these are subversive movements working against Iran with the country’s colonial enemies.

It therefore seems clear to me that the Iranians are keeping Zaghari-Ratcliffe as a possible bargaining chip in case of further confrontations with America over their switch from the petrodollar to euro. As well as Trump withdrawing from the nuclear treaty Obama signed with the Iranians. And the Iranian authorities are probably also keen to exploit the propaganda value of continuing Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment, while Britain impotently pleads for her release.

Boris is right that the real villains in this are the Iranians. But they’ve been assisted by his and Gove’s massive incompetence. Thornberry is right. It’s long past time Johnson was sacked. Not just because of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, but because of all the other stupid mistakes he’s made, which have threatened our international relations, business interests and the welfare of our citizens abroad.

But Mike’s right. May won’t sack him, because he’s too dangerous to her outside the cabinet. So he will continue in his post as foreign secretary for as long as she’s in power.

Which means that, if we want to do something to improve diplomatic relations and free Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, they’ll both have to go.

Labour’s Emily Thornberry Condemns Tory Abstention from Vote on Gaza

May 22, 2018

More ringing condemnation of the government’s attitude to the Gaza massacre from Labour’s Emily Thornberry. In this video from RT, Thornberry discusses why Tweezer and her gang declared last Tuesday they were in favour of a vote on Gaza, only to decide against it three days later. She states that the answer to this issue can be found in the statement they issued on Friday, which called for the Israelis to make their own independent investigation.

Thornberry makes the point that this is a contradiction in terms, but it’s consistent with Tory policy. This is the same government, she points out, that said that the Saudis should be allowed to make their own independent inquiry into their bombing of weddings. This is the same government that said that Bahrein should be allowed to make its own investigation of the torture of nine year old children in its prisons. And she goes on to say that before the government extols the virtues of Netanyahu’s government, she will remind them of the last time the Israelis conducted an independent inquiry. This was in 2014, when four boys playing hide and seek in a fisherman’s hut were blown to pieces by an Israeli bomb. Israel conducted its own inquiry, and came up with a nasty piece of nonsense completely exonerating the IDF, claiming that the hut was really a Hamas terrorist compound. She states that that is what an independent inquiry by Israel looks like, rather than the international commission of inquiry that the government opposed on Friday, and that it is nothing short of a disgrace.

Absolutely. And just as disgraceful was the response of the American news media to the murder of a group of children by the IDF. I think the company in this case was CNN, but I’m not sure. It may also be the same kids Thornberry’s discussing in the video above, I don’t know, but during the bombardment a report for one of the American news channels showed during his report a group of children playing football. Minutes later the children were all dead, killed by an IDF bomb. The reporter did his job, and included that in his report.

And guess what? It led to all kinds of outrage and internal questions at his company, and he got the sack. The Israel lobby does not like the world’s media reporting their crimes against humanity, and will do everything to close them down and get their reporters the sack. I can remember when they did it to one of the Beeb’s female reporters when she unguardedly expressed her disgust at the Israeli’s bombardment of Gaza back in 2014. They accused her of being ‘anti-Semitic’. She, or one of the other reporters, also said that what provoked her comment was a group of Israelis nearby, who were making comments and celebrating the bombardment.

This is not only what the Tories defended, when they abstained from voting, but it’s also what the Israel lobby – the Blairites, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Labour Friends of Israel, Jonathan Arkush of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the rest are also defending: the butchery of civilians and children. All done using the tactic of smearing those, who report and protest these crimes as ‘anti-Semites’. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.

Boris Runs Away from Questions on Gaza Massacre

May 22, 2018

This comes from Gordon Dimmack’s channel on YouTube. It’s his report and comments about Boris Johnson showing once again how massively unsuited he is to be foreign secretary. After the Gaza massacre, Labour’s Emily Thornberry rose to ask for the government’s statement on the mass murder, and how it would affect the peace process. As you can see from the video below, before Thornberry has even asked the question, Boris gets up and rushes out of the chamber almost as soon as Bercow announces that she is to speak.

The reason he does is, as Dimmack shows, parliamentary questions are tabled in a schedule given to MPs, so that they know exactly what questions they will be facing and which are going to be discussed. Boris therefore knew the question was coming, and definitely didn’t want to answer it. And so he did a runner.

And this isn’t the first time BoJo the Clown has run away from Thornberry. Dimmack himself says that he had a bit of Deja Vu when watching Boris. He then found that Boris had indeed done it once before. This was back in February, when Emily Thornberry tormented him by rising to ask a question about Northern Ireland. Johnson couldn’t – or wouldn’t – answer that one either, and so he fled.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Boris Johnson is massively incompetent, and it’s a real mystery why he got the post in the first place. This is the man, whose ill-judged and erroneous comments resulted in the Iranians adding more years to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence, who started reciting the ‘Road to Mandalay’ in Thailand’s holiest Buddhist temple, and who managed to increase tensions with Russia during talks to calm them down. I suppose one answer to how he got the job in the first place was because the Tories were impressed with the way he handled the Chinese at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. But I think the real reason is simply Tory internal politics. Boris is an inveterate intriguer, who can’t be trust for an instant. May wants to keep in the government, where she can keep an eye on him, rather than exclude him from power and give him the freedom to attack her. It looks to me very much like a case of the old saying ‘keep your friends close, and your enemies closer’.

But if that’s the real reason BoJo’s got the position, then it shows that Britain’s relations with the rest of the world, and issues of peace and international justice, are of much less importance than letting Tweezer cling on to power.

After the BDJ, It Should Be the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Who Need to Be Criticised and Investigated

May 19, 2018

If not broken up altogether, as the malign, libellous and morally corrupt organisation it really is. I’ve commented already on a post Mike put up on Thursday, reporting the barrage of criticism the Board of Deputies had called upon itself from outraged citizens up and down this country. They were enraged at the Board’s comments on the Gaza massacre, and the way they placed the blame, not on the Israeli squaddies, who murdered 60 people and wounded 200 more, but on the victims. Ah, it was all the fault of Hamas, who put all the 40,000 or so Palestinians massing at the fence, up to it. After all, 50 of those killed were members of Hamas.

It doesn’t matter if they were members of Hamas or not. They were unarmed. This makes their killings assassinations, which is the mark of a death squad. Which is Fascism.

Also, what about the 10 that weren’t members of Hamas? They didn’t deserve to die. Not least the baby that was killed when Israeli squaddies threw a tear gas grenade into a tent.

Liberal Judaism and Yachad wrote letters to the Board stating that the Board had grotesquely misrepresented their views. And ordinary, individual Jews were also incensed. One of them was the comic actor David Schneider, who said very plainly that the Board didn’t represent Jews like him.

Mike opened his article with the smug face of the Board’s president, Jonathan Arkush, who he said was soon to be ex-president of the Board.

Well, we live in hope.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/17/huge-backlash-against-supporters-of-israeli-government-over-gaza-massacre/

Arkush is a nasty piece of work, not least for the way he’s weaponised the anti-Semitism smears against the Labour party, and tried to make Corbyn the sole person responsible for it. It’s a lie, as he must surely know, as anti-Semitism has gone down in the Labour party under Corbyn. It’s now lower than in ordinary British society. And as Mike’s repeatedly pointed out, if you want to see real, baying racists and anti-Semites, with the vilest of views, you have to look at the Tory and Tory affiliated web-pages.

But when Arkush and the Board attack the Labour party for being anti-Semitic, this is only a cover for their real concern: to stifle criticism of Israel. And the Israel lobby has been using that smear since the 1980s. So much so that the American Jewish critic of Israel, Dr. Norman Finkelstein, has described it as a machine for manufacturing anti-Semites.

It’s a tactic shared and employed wholesale by the odious Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. And it was explicitly set up to stifle criticism of Israel caused by their treatment of Gaza. It’s founder, Gideon Falter, was left unnerved by the popular opposition to Israel aroused by the bombardment of Gaza in 2007 or so. He did what the Israel lobby always do in such circumstances, and defined criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. Oh yes, in debates the pro-Israel pundits and speakers will allow that Israel should rightly be the subject of criticism where it’s justified. But in practice, any support for the Palestinians is met with outrage, and claims of anti-Semitism. Especially if you call it an apartheid state, or point out just how similar it is to Fascism or the Nazi policies towards the Jews before they embarked on the horrors of the ‘Final Solution’ in 1942.

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism hasn’t said a peep about the Gaza massacre. They don’t represent British Jewry in the same way as the Board, and so there’s no call for them to. But you can bet they’ve been watching the wave of outrage against the Board for its vile comments, and been taking notes, if not names. The Israel lobby hates even the reporting of atrocities committed by Israel or its allies. They alleged that respected BBC foreign correspondents Jeremy Bowen and Orla Guerin were anti-Semites for their reports on the conflicts between Israel and its neighbours. They were particularly upset by Bowen’s report that the massacres of Muslim Palestinians by the Christian phalange in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon were committed by Israel’s allies. Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, described in an interview with Peter Oborne in his Despatches programme on the Israel lobby how he was regularly placed under pressure by the Board demanding that he retract articles on Israeli crimes and human rights violations because they are anti-Semitic.

It isn’t just the Board that needs to be investigated and reformed because of their support for the shooting of unarmed civilians. It’s the entire Israel lobby, including the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Their patrons, as Mike and Tony Greenstein has pointed out, are largely Tories with a history of racism and Islamophobia. And they have been principally involved with the anti-Semitism smears against members of the Labour party, in conjunction with pro-Israel organs like the Labour Friends of Israel. There have been calls for the latter group to be expelled from the party, just as there has been an internet petition on Change.org to have the CAA deregistered with the Charity Commission for being a political organisation, not a charity.

It has been the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism that libelled Mike as an anti-Semite and holocaust denier just because he had the temerity to defend Ken Livingstone. Just like they’ve libelled and smeared so many other decent people, Jew and gentile, even those, who have spent their lives combating racism and anti-Semitism. Even those, who have suffered genuine anti-Semitic abuse and assault themselves.

And just as many British Jews were rightly angered by the Board’s comments about Gaza, so Jewish Brits have also been annoyed by the way the Campaign presumes to speak for them. Especially when its pronouncements are made by gentiles like Luke Akehurst or Stephen Pollard, who then go on to declare that all British Jews, as Jew, must support Israel. They are rightly incensed at being told what they must believe as Jews by those, who aren’t.

Criticism of the Israel lobby should not stop at the Board and its vile president. It has to go beyond, to organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, BICOM and others.

Arkush should be called on to resign for his comments. And so should Gideon Falter, and his wretched smear group be broken up for its similar tactics, libels and goals.