Posts Tagged ‘Islamaphobia’

Isaac Levinsohn, Refuter of the Blood Libel

February 7, 2018

Levinsohn was a 19th century eastern European rabbi, whose book, whose title translates into English as ‘No Blood’ refuted the Blood Libel.

I found this entry on him while flicking through The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, edited by John Bowker, (Oxford: OUP 1997). This states

Levinsohn, Isaac Baer, or Ribal (1788-1860).
Hebrew author. Levinsohn’s literary output was mainly polemical. He was one of the founders of the Haskalah movement in Russia, and he was concerned with the position of the Jews in eastern Europe. His best-known work,
Te’udah be-Yisrael, (Testimony in Israel, 1828), described the Hebrew language as ‘the bond of religion and national survival’, and he argued against the use of Yiddish. His book considerable influence on Jewish life in Russia, although it was banned by the Hasidim. He also wrote Beit Yehudah (House of Judah, 1838) which was an attempt to answer Christian questions about Judaism, and Efes Damim (No Blood, 1838) which was written to refute the blood libel. (p. 575).

I really don’t know anything about him apart from this article. However, I thought people here might want to know about him because of the way the Blood Libel – the medieval myth that Jews used the blood of Christian children in the matzo bread at Passover – has been a central part of much anti-Semitism. It’s included in the grotesque tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which has been instrumental in promoting anti-Semitism and Nazism ever since it was cooked up by the tsar’s secret police, the Okhrana, to encourage him to persecute the Jews even more.

There has been a resurgence of Fascism and Nazism across the western world. In America we’ve seen the rise of the Alt-Right and various other White supremacists around Donald Trump, while in eastern Europe there are a number of anti-Semitic and vehemently islamaphobic parties, like Fidesz in Hungary. There has been particular concern this week over Poland, because the present government has just passed a law making it a criminal offence to attribute guilt to Poles for the crimes of the Nazis. And in Germany the very anti-Semitic and islamaphobic Alternative Fuer Deutschland has entered the Bundestag for the first time. This party contains some real Nazis, including one character, who denounced the Holocaust Memorial in Germany as ‘a badge of shame’, and declared he wanted to set up an underground railway to Auschwitz. These are horrifying, vile people, who need to be fought.

Thus, while I don’t really know anything about Isaac Levinsohn, I thought it might be useful to know about him, because he wrote one of the most important refutations of the Blood Libel myth. Just in case there’s anyone out there trying to promote that stupid and murderous lie.

The Rise of Fascism and the Failure of Neoliberal Capitalism

September 30, 2017

Today Mike put up a very good piece attacking Theresa May’s speech praising capitalism as the greatest force in human history for raising people out of poverty. In fact, as Mike shows, the type of neoliberal crony capitalism May is really in favour of, has done nothing but reduce people to poverty. The force that raised living standards in Britain and gave British people the highest standard of living that they enjoyed in 1977 was the mixed economy of democratic socialism and the welfare state introduced after the War, and which the Tories have been trying to destroy ever since the rise of Thatcher.

This should come as no surprise. The Korean economist, Ha=Joon Chang, makes pretty much the same case in his book, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism. Chang is also an admirer of capitalism, but his book is a sustained attack on Thatcherite neoliberalism. He shows that every country in the world has begun its rise to economic prosperity through protectionism, and that the countries with the most flexible labour markets and stable, prosperous industries are those with a mixed economy of socialized and private industries and a welfare state. And this includes those countries, where the industries may not be nationalized, but the workers have a share in the management, such as in Germany and Austria.

And the decline of socialism and communism in Europe has had terrible consequences. On Tuesday Counterpunch published a lengthy article by Gregory Barrett commenting on the rise on votes for the Nazi Alternative fuer Deutschland, The German Election: The West’s Nervous Breakdown Continues. He makes the point that this was assisted by the massive poverty and disillusionment caused by the failure of western capitalism to improve the lives of people in eastern Europe. He writes

As Stephen Gowans writes in his recent essay “We Lived Better Then”:

‘Of course, none of the great promises of the counterrevolution were kept. While at the time the demise of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe was proclaimed as a great victory for humanity, not least by leftist intellectuals in the United States, two decades later there’s little to celebrate. The dismantling of socialism has, in a word, been a catastrophe, a great swindle that has not only delivered none of what it promised, but has wreaked irreparable harm, not only in the former socialist countries, but throughout the Western world, as well. Countless millions have been plunged deep into poverty, imperialism has been given a free hand, and wages and benefits in the West have bowed under the pressure of intensified competition for jobs and industry unleashed by a flood of jobless from the former socialist countries, where joblessness once, rightly, was considered an obscenity. Numberless voices in Russia, Romania, East Germany and elsewhere lament what has been stolen from them — and from humanity as a whole: “We lived better under communism. We had jobs. We had security.” And with the threat of jobs migrating to low-wage, high unemployment countries of Eastern Europe, workers in Western Europe have been forced to accept a longer working day, lower pay, and degraded benefits. Today, they fight a desperate rearguard action, where the victories are few, the defeats many. They too lived better — once.’

While the often racist and xenophobic manner in which East Germans and Eastern Europeans express their anger at what they see as an influx of foreigners who go to the front of the line for Western largesse — while the 30-year betrayal of the promises and misleading propaganda directed at themselves from 1989 to 1991 continues, although unacknowledged — is ugly and despicable, it is not hard to understand in its historical context. Somehow the assurances of the good life for all, thanks to the benevolent “invisible hand of the free market”, and the forecasts of blooming landscapes of prosperity across Eastern Europe, have failed to materialize. After more than a quarter of a century, prosperous areas exist but are exceedingly rare. In East Germany many small towns and villages are dying, and the population is shrinking as many follow the jobs westward, since few major employers have chosen to come eastward to them. Unemployment is much higher than in West Germany, and the cultural divisions between the citizens of the old DDR and West Germans have proven very stubborn and difficult to overcome. But the damage has not been confined to those in the formerly socialist countries. As Stephen Gowans points out:

‘But that’s only part of the story. For others, for investors and corporations, who’ve found new markets and opportunities for profitable investment, and can reap the benefits of the lower labor costs that attend intensified competition for jobs, the overthrow of socialism has, indeed, been something to celebrate. Equally, it has been welcomed by the landowning and industrial elite of the pre-socialist regimes whose estates and industrial concerns have been recovered and privatized. But they’re a minority. Why should the rest of us celebrate our own mugging?

This poverty hasn’t been confined to eastern Europe. It’s led to us in the west being forced to work harder, for less pay, and fewer welfare benefits. Otherwise capital simply outsources our jobs to one of the eastern European nations.

He then examines the way Merkel and the Christian Democrats, and the other right-wing parties have persuaded their workers to vote for policies which only benefit the rich industrialists. This is by stressing ‘innere sicherheit’, ‘internal security’, and the threat to it posed by crime and immigrants. Just like the Tories, Kippers and other parties of the right over here. She also took credit for many of the welfare reforms initiated by the SDP, the German equivalent of our Labour party. This has led to the SDP being reduced to only 20 per cent of the vote, and they have said that they are no longer available as coalition partners. Barrett is extremely pessimistic, stating it is probably too late, with the exception of Britain, to save Europe’s Social Democratic heritage. Germany now joins the Netherlands as a country, whose political landscape is a mosaic of competing parties. A landscape in which one element is the extreme right, who believe she betrayed Germany by allowing an influx of migrants.

See: https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/26/the-german-election-the-wests-nervous-breakdown-continues/

There isn’t much to add to this, except that the SPD could probably save themselves by scrapping the heritage of Gerhard Schroeder and moving leftwards, as Labour has over here. Schroeder was the German equivalent of Tony Blair, and just as Blair tried to remake Labour as a party of the neoliberal right, so did Schroeder try to do something similar with the German Social Democrats.

As for Merkel, I think her mistake was announcing that one million immigrants from Syria and the Middle East could settle in Germany. She meant well, and I think it was a genuinely liberal, generous gesture intended to show how non-Nazi and welcoming modern Germany was. But she failed to take into account some of the simmering racial tensions in Germany. The German birthrate is falling, so that when I was at school in the 1980s, there were headlines in the Frankfurter Allgemeine, Germany’s paper of record, stating that there would be 30 million fewer Germans by the year 2000. Of course, this was before reunification boosted the country’s total population. The Germans have also been worried about Turkish Germans creating a parallel society, in which they needn’t speak German, because they’re surrounded by Turkish businesses and Turkish language broadcasters. And some German Turkish writers have also written about how the authorities in their communities placed pressure on the young in their community not to become friends or associate with ethnic Germans, or to see themselves as Germans, but to remain Turks and isolate themselves from mainstream society.

Of course Germany isn’t the only country facing such issues. Our government has similarly expressed fears about the immigrant, and particularly Muslim communities over here, as have the French across le Manche.

Even so, I think some of the xenophobia that led to the increased voting for the AfD could have been avoided, if Germany had not suffered the 200-odd spate of rapes committed by Syrian or North African immigrants the other Christmas. I’ve no doubt whatsoever that most rapists in Germany are ethnic Germans, just as the majority of child molesters over here are White Brits, and not Pakistanis or other Muslim Asians. But just as resentment over the rapes and abuse committed by the Asian paedophiles in Rotherham, and the failure of the local authorities to act against it, aided UKIP, so did the rape attacks aid the far right in Germany.

And also, it should be said, the rest of the world. They were widely reported to the point where a new word, ‘rapefugee’, was coined by the Islamophobic right.

Across Europe and America, immigrants and decent, ordinary people are facing the threat of renewed Fascism. It will need determined action by anti-Fascists to defeat it and support genuine anti-racist, tolerant and pluralistic societies. At the same time, we also need to recognize the role of neoliberalism in creating the poverty and insecurity, which leads to so many traditional White Europeans fearing for their future, and the way Conservatives and Fascists across Europe and America are exploiting this to keep themselves in power by misdirecting these fears onto immigrants, Blacks, Muslims, Roma and Jews.

Sunday’s Anti-Sharia March in Bristol – A Liberal Façade Hiding Real Fascism

September 12, 2017

Last Sunday afternoon, 10th September 2017, there was a demonstration against sharia law in Bristol by the groups Gays Against Sharia and British and Immigrants Against Terrorism. RT posted up a video about it yesterday, and it was also covered by ITN News, but not the Beeb. They were met by a counterdemonstration, Bristol Against Fascism.

http://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/update/2017-09-10/gays-against-sharia-march-starts-in-bristol/

If you look at some of the videos that have been posted, this could seem to many like a liberal demonstration against radical Islam. There is a section of the Muslim community, which would like sharia law incorporated into British law. And the preachers of hate, who have stood in front of their congregations to whip up hatred against Jews and Christians have also violently denounced gays. One picture of the march shows a White man and Black gent in African dress, supposedly united in the opposition to Islamic law and bigotry.

There’s also a video on YouTube by one of the march’s supporters, Greek Anne UK Lover, who is at pains to argue that these are nice liberal people, and it wasn’t an EDL march.

Well, it may not have been, but many of the same people were involved. At one point she shows a poster of the various people, who were expected to speak. And they include the usual Islamaphobes and Nazis. One of them was Paul Weston, of Liberty GB. Liberty GB is, or was, an anti-Islam political party, and Weston is part of the ‘counterjihad’ movement. I think Liberty GB could be fairly described as the political wing of the EDL. It was certainly allied to it, and Weston is associated with the members and leaders of the far right counterjihad movement, including Pamela Geller of the Atlas Shrugs website, Robert Spencer and so on.

One of the other speakers, or at least among those listed on her wall, was Jack Buckby. Buckby’s the founder of the ‘National Culturalists’, another far right organization, who were thrown off campus by the students’ guild at Liverpool uni as Fascists. He’s also one of the two extreme rightists photographed sitting bang right next to Jacob Rees-Mogg at the annual dinner of the Traditional Britain Group. This is another far right, anti-immigrant group, various of whose members are also fascinated with Nazis and quite like the idea of the return of feudalism. Mogg, of course, tried to distance himself from them as soon as the Independent published the story. He claimed that he didn’t know who they were when he accepted their dinner invitation. Which sounds highly unlikely to me.

As for Buckby himself, there’s absolutely no doubt that he is a Fascist. He used to be a member of the BNP, and Hope Not Hate has piccies of him proudly shaking the hand of Nick Griffin.

The march’s liberalism is therefore something of a façade. Behind it are the usual bigots and Nazis, who are deeply opposed to Islam as a whole, and not simply sharia law and Muslim terrorism.

But this again follows the standard policy of EDL. In many of their demonstrations, they tried to present themselves as multicultural liberals, among whose banners were Jews and Sikhs. But a Channel 4 documentary screened a few years ago also showed that, despite their liberal protestations, their members were by and large the same racists and White supremacists as those in the BNP and NF.

I am also at a loss why they should be marching in Bristol. I’ve no doubt that a few members of the Muslim community down here might be supporters of Islamist terrorism. But I’ve heard of no major scandals. To my knowledge, there haven’t been Muslim hate preachers standing on street corner spouting their bigoted bilge.

But there have been various Islamophobic attacks in the city, including one on a local mosque, and the EDL did hold a demonstration here a year or so ago. One of the other news reports stated that none of the marchers came from Bristol. It doesn’t look like a response to a local issue. Just the usual islamophobes trying to stir up more hatred.

Don’t be deceived by the appearance of liberalism and multiculturalism. Behind it were genuine racists and Nazis. Sharia law and Islamist terrorism should be opposed, but these aren’t the real issues here. This is all about drumming up hatred against Muslims. And once they’ve done that, the Nazis would come out of the woodwork and start preaching hate against the other groups Blacks, Asians, Jews, and the gays they claim to want to protect.

The march’s supporters have made videos denouncing Antifa and the other counterprotesters as intolerant fascists, but actually, Antifa and the other anti-racists were quite right.

Thoughts and Prayers for the Victims of the Suspected Terror Attack in London

June 4, 2017

This morning I, and millions of others, got up to the news that there had been another suspected terror attack in London on Vauxhall Bridge. A group of six men drove up in a van, deliberately knocking people down, before climbing out and running amok. They ran in and out of the bars stabbing people before they were finally shot by London’s finest. One of them was heard to say, ‘This is for Allah’ as he was stabbing a woman.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.
I also salute the courage and professionalism of the police as they took down these monsters. Apparently, the attackers were wearing fake bombs to deter people from retaliating.

I’ve also no doubt that the other emergency services and medical teams are giving their very best for the victims. We’ve seen the great response they made to aid the victims of the Manchester suicide bombing last Monday.

Nothing justifies such mass slaughter, and it is important to remember that these butchers are not representative of British Islam. I remember a few years ago, when one of these fanatics started stabbing people at one of the London railways stations. A young Muslim guy was heard to shout to him, ‘You ain’t no Muslim, bruv.’ It’s important to remember this, before the islamophobes and Nazis start trying to use this attack to spread their own hate.

If this is another terror attack, it’s important to realise that it’s been staged because ISIS are losing. Swathes of Syria and Iraq are being liberated from their tyranny. And so as their hold in the Middle East crumbles, they’ve taken to attacking the West directly, in order to shore up their waning inspiration of their legions.

And it’s important that Britain stay united throughout this. These thugs are seeking to promote racial and religious hatred between Muslim and non-Muslim, so that Muslims will be persecuted. They want this to occur so that it will radicalise more Muslims, who will join them in their jihad against the West.

We mustn’t let them. And I’m sure we won’t, because we’re stronger. The British people, White, Black, or brown, gay and straight, old and young, is better than that. So long as British tolerance exists, these monsters will never succeed in spreading hate and fear in this proud nation.

Dennis Skinner Calls Trump a Fascist

February 3, 2017

Here’s a bit of real, Old Labour Socialism coming through. In this clip, the veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner, the ‘Beast of Bolsover’, invites the Foreign Secretary to go back with him to the time when he was hiding under the stairs as Britain was being bombed by two Fascist dictators, Mussolini and Hitler. Now May is walking hand in hand with another Fascist, Donald Trump. He calls on the Foreign Secretary to condemn Trump’s visit and states that the Orange Dictator isn’t fit to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela.

There’s another clip of this speech, which shows BoJo rising up to respond to Skinner, saying that he is mistaken about Mussolini bombing Britain, but he hears his criticism. He then tries to answer it by saying that the government rejects the recommendation to cancel Trump’s visit, and instead will work to get the best deal for British citizens.

I left that out because, quite honestly, it’s more infuriating Tory lies. May and the Conservatives made the same claim about working to get the best deal for Britain with Brexit. And what they’ve actually managed to get is quite the opposite: a very bad deal for Britain, which has left millions of people worried about their jobs and how they’ll manage with the expected rise in prices now we’re outside the EU tariff wall.

And Mike this week put up a piece, which made it very plain that what limited criticism the Tories have made about Trump was motivated by their desire to defend a Muslim Tory MP from being stopped if he goes to America.

In fact, it seems to me that vast parts of the Tory party and press are solidly behind the ban. The Daily Mail, the Express and the Torygraph have for years attacked non-White immigration. I remember a number of articles from these papers in the 1980s where they talked about the growth of ‘unassimilable’ immigrants. As for the Scum, way back in the 1990s when the Sun was very loudly trying to tell the world that it was somehow non- or even anti-racist, Private Eye reminded its readers that the paper had been convicted something like 19 or 21 times by the Press Complaints Commission of racism. In one of the most repellent of the cases, the Scum ran a cartoon showing pigs marching in protest with banners. The caption read, ‘Even now the pigs are complaining about being compared to Arabs’. Or if not those precise words, then something very similar.

The party that was appealing for illegal immigrants to hand themselves in so they could be deported, amongst other anti-immigrant policies is not going to condemn Trump for his hardline stance against Muslim immigration. However much David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith may have tried to present the Tory party as now entirely anti-racist and comfortable with multiculturalism.

Massachusetts Attorney General Attacks Trump’s Muslim Ban

February 3, 2017

After Governor Inslee and the attorney general of the state of Washington launched their attack on Trump’s Muslim ban, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Maura Healey, the state attorney general there, have also launched their appeal to block the ban. They are joining an action from the Massachusetts branch of the ACLU, as well as representing the University of Massachusetts, who saw two of their professors temporarily held over the weekend due to the ban. Attorney General Healey states that she and her colleagues have reviewed the legislation, and found it harmful, racist and unconstitutional. And just as Governor Inslee and the attorney general there believed that the Muslim ban was economically harmful to their state, so Healey is expected to argue that the detention of leading researchers and business experts will also damage the state’s economy.

This makes you wonder if any other states are going to come forward to challenge the ban, just as ordinary Americans have been doing at demonstrations across their nation.

Vox Political on the Racist and Islamaphobic Retweets from Leading Brexiter

June 21, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has put up another piece, this time from the Guardian, about the extremely ugly racism at the heart of the Brexit campaign. Arabella Arkwright, a businesswoman on the board and finance committee of the Vote Leave campaign, was forced to resign after the Groan asked her a few awkward questions about some of her retweets.

One of the Twitter messages she passed on was a comment from someone saying that they would be glad to give up Chicken Tikka Masal if it got ‘seventh century barbarism’ – meaning Islam – out of Britain. She retweeted it with her own message, ‘No to Sharia Law. Bye Bye, chicken tikka’.

What brought her down, however, was a picture of a White girl surrounded by women clad in burqas with the caption, ‘Why didn’t you stop them, granddad?’

Arkwright has denied that she’s racist, and says she abhors racism in every form.
To which Mike asks the obvious question whether anybody really believes this, and if so, why.

See the article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/06/21/vote-leave-board-member-who-quit-over-anti-muslim-retweets-denies-racism/

Farage: The Text-Book Islamaphobe

January 22, 2015

Farage Drawing

Last week Nigel Farage was criticised again for his comments about Muslims following the massacre of the Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris and the attack on a Jewish supermarket. The Fuehrer of the party for the arch reactionaries and xenophobes, had said that while he recognised that the extremists were only a minority of Muslims, nevertheless there was a problem within the Islamic community that had allowed them to arise. Critics claimed that Farage had accused British Muslims of forming a fifth column within Britain itself.

This is actually text-book right-wing Islamaphobia. Literally. One of the anti-racist sites I was reading a little while ago stated that right-wing politicians and xenophobic groups had accused Muslims of forming a ‘fifth column’ in Britain promoting terrorism.

Which is precisely what the Kipper Duce had done.

There is absolutely no hiding it. Farage corresponds precisely to the text-book descriptions of populist, racist politicos and the threat they pose to society and specifically members of the religious or ethnic communities they criticise and attack. The affable man of the people image is just that – an image. It’s as false as that of Hitler as Herr Average German during the War, who stood for folksy, peasant German values. Farage is a menace, and its now so obvious it’s undeniable. He should be treated as such.

Vox Political: Michelle Thomasson on Peacefully Tackling Extremism

January 20, 2015

Vox Political has a guest piece by Michelle Thomasson, discussing approaches to Islamic radicalisation, Islamaphobia and the Fascist extreme Right. Entitled You can peacefully combat extremism – Michelle Thomasson it describes a conference called by the Labour MP Rushanara Ali. It begins

Last week at the House of Commons in London there was a discussion on ‘Youth, Alienation and Radicalisation’ – terms that can equally encompass young Muslims as well as white working class people.

Rushanara Ali MP had agreed to sponsor the meeting and she was joined by Fiyaz Mughal OBE, director of Faith Matters, an interfaith and anti-extremist organisation and Professor Matthew Feldman, an expert on fascist ideology and the contemporary far-right in Europe and the USA.

There were comments from the discussion that can prompt us all to do our part to peacefully combat extremism and as one of the attendees I was keenly listening for anything that may shed light on the root causes of this disenchantment and how it could be addressed.

The article is based on the notes Thomasson made at the discussion. The discussion covered the possible social causes of the radicalisation of young Muslims, such as social alienation, racism, and reactions to the aggressive international policies of Britain, America and the West after 9/11; the rise of Islamophobia as the major motivating ideology in the contemporary far right, replacing anti-Semitism; the role ordinary people themselves have in personally challenging extremist ideologies, the lack of legislation specifically protecting Muslims, unlike Jews or Sikhs, and the lack of funding for equalities organisations. She also notes that the speakers believed that a decline in neighbourliness in British society had also resulted in greater social fragmentation and distrust. Far right ideologies had also benefited from the sense of powerlessness that resulted from a world dominated by Neo-liberal economics. The speakers felt that we could tackle extremism by a developing a common sense of social ownership.

The article is at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/01/20/you-can-peacefully-combat-extremism-michelle-thomasson/. It deserves to be read.

One important point to take away from this is that, while hate crime against Muslims has risen, much of its seems to come from a few hardened individuals. It’s impossible to be absolutely sure, as Thomasson states that hate crime is grossly under-reported, but nevertheless about half of all such crimes are committed by the same people. While the Fascist fringe is still about, and throwing up new forms, such as Britain First, even after the decline of the BNP, the number of people involved shouldn’t be overestimated. And despite UKIP’s boast of its rising political importance, 85 per cent of the people in this country are opposed to it. The Fascists are still small, marginal groups, and its important not to concede them too much importance or feel that they somehow speak for anything like a majority of this country’s people.