Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Vox Political and Eoin Clarke Refute Smears of Tory Warmongers Against Corbyn

May 27, 2017

Mike over at Vox Political has produced another excellent blog post utterly demolishing the lies of the Tory warmongers that Jeremy Corbyn supported IRA terrorism, and that his election would somehow leave Britain more vulnerable to atrocities such as the one on Monday night in Manchester.

His piece contains a graphic by Eoin Clarke showing that far from supporting terrorism, Corbyn consistently condemned paramilitary violence and sincerely looked and worked for peace in Northern Ireland. As such, he was respected not only by the Republicans but also by Loyalists.

Clarke’s graphic states, for example:

* In November 1994 Corbyn signed a parliamentary early day motion condemning the Birmingham Pub Bombings committed by the Provisional IRA.

* The same year, Corbyn held several meetings with four Loyalist leaders to discuss the release of Neil Latimer, a member of the UDR, and to be informed that October at the Labour Party’s conference of the ceasefire the following week.

* In October 2015 Ian Paisley’s wife told the Belfast Telegraph that she found the Labour leader courteous and polite, and thought he was a ‘gentleman’.

* In February 1987 the Times apologised to Jeremy Corbyn. Murdoch’s British ‘paper of record’ had smeared him by claiming that he had not phoned the police to warn them of a suspected Provisional IRA terrorist in London. In fact Corbyn had.

* In August 1988 the Irish Times hailed him as ‘a tireless campaigner for the Irish.’ Corbyn had worked to the quash the wrongful convictions of the Guildford Four, and reopen the inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

* Corbyn in fact only ever met Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams after Adams had been elected to parliament, 14 years after the commencement of the Troubles, in Adams’ capacity as an elected MP. He did, however, oppose Thatcher’s ban on broadcasting the voices of elected Sinn Fein politicians, and was keen that Adams’ constituents in West Belfast should not be silenced.

* When Adams visited Westminster in 1996, Corbyn was only one of a number of Labour MPs, who met him. The meetings were solely concerned with reviving the IRA ceasefire. This was achieved several months later. And Bill Clinton, who was then president of the US, had the previous year invited Adams to the Whitehouse. As Clarke’s graphic points out, this places Corbyn’s meeting with Adams firmly within the context of wider attempts by politicians to secure peace in Ulster.

Clarke does admit that there are two incidents, which are controversial, and do require an explanation.

* Shortly after the Brighton bombing of the Tory conference, Corbyn and other MPs met Republicans in Westminster. Corbyn’s motive for doing so was to end the strip searching of female prisoners on remand. However, Clarke states that the meeting was insensitive and wrong.

* In May 1987 Corbyn stood for a minutes’ silence to show respect for eight people, who had been killed by the British armed forces in Northern Ireland at a meeting of Irish sympathisers in London. Although one was entirely innocent, seven were members of the Provisional IRA. The circumstances of their deaths were unclear, and they may have been the victims of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. The European Court ordered the payment of £10,000 each to the eight victims’ families.

* As for Adams himself, Clarke states that it was the Tory government, who began talking to him eleven years before Corbyn became an MP. Adams had been released in prison for the secret talks the Conservatives were holding with Irish paramilitaries following the deaths of 476 people in 1972, the worse year of the Troubles. This was revealed in MI5 files released under the 30 year rule. The files also showed that the Tories considered that Adams genuinely wanted a ceasefire and an end to the violence, and that his answers to questions were ‘reasonable and moderate’.

So while Corbyn did meet with Gerry Adams and other Irish Nationalists, he also worked with Ulster Loyalists. It certainly appears from this that Corbyn wanted to find a fair, peaceful solution to the violence and hatred in Northern Ireland.

Mike’s piece also includes a short video, running just under a two minutes, by the Labour MP Chris Williams. Williams points out that 14 years ago in 2003, Corbyn had warned that ‘the Iraq war will set off a spiral of conflict that will fuel the wars, terrorism and misery of future generations.’ He also warned several times that police cuts would leave the country more vulnerable to terrorism. He also warned that intervention in Libya would lead to it becoming a breeding ground for terrorism. He also objected to selling arms to Saudi Arabia for the same reason. Williams states that Labour has a crystal-clear policy to make Britain safer, unlike the Tories. They intend to undo the cuts to the police force, and have the longer term goal of rethinking this country’s foreign policy. This means not sending more of our courageous young men and women to die in wars no-one invited us to take part in, and destabilising countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. And Williams asks his viewers to challenges the Tories, the rich, the media magnates and the cheerleaders for these wars in voting for Labour. New approaches and responses are required following the evil terrorist atrocity in Manchester, and Labour has precisely done that.

Mike also includes a wonderful little video of Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy refuting Michael Fallon, the Tory defence minister. Guru-Murthy quotes Boris Johnson at him. Boris had said that the Iraq invasion didn’t create the problem of Islamist terrorism – the attack on the Twin Towers occurred before that – but it did sharpen their resentment. Fallon then attacks the quote, believing it was said by Jeremy Corbyn. When Guru-Murthy points out it’s by Johnson, he then flails around trying to claim that it shows that Johnson really concurs with him, that this does not explain terrorism. But the Channel 4 newsman goes on, and quotes Boris as saying that you can’t disagree with the nay-sayers, who say that the invasion has increased Islamic resentment. Even after he’s been told, Fallon continues to state that he’d have to see what Boris Johnson really says for himself, and denies that Britain’s foreign policy explains away terrorism.

Mike comments drily if there’s anyone, who doesn’t agree with Jeremy Corbyn? (Apart, obviously, from Michael Fallon).

And at the very top of the piece is a quote from the former director of MI5, Theresa Manningham-Buller, that the Iraq invasion ‘undoubtedly increased the terrorist threat in Britain’.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/27/dont-believe-the-warmongers-on-jeremy-corbyn-get-your-story-straight/

So Jeremy Corbyn was right about the Iraq invasion. He’s been right about the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi in Libya, and he was right about the cuts to the police force. And he is very right to demand a ban on arms sales to the Saudis.

And while two of his actions in support of the Republicans in Northern Ireland have been insensitive, he is not a supporter of terrorism, as the Scum, Heil and Torygraph would have us all believe.

Go to Mike’s blog and read and watch the full article. Eoin Clarke’s information about Corbyn is in the form of a graphic, so that you can post it elsewhere on line to refute the Tories and their stooges, who still continue with their smears about the Labour leader.

And if you really want to see a just end to the violence in the Middle East, and a sensible policy to eradicate Islamist terror in this country, then vote Labour on June 8th.

If we don’t, if we continue to follow the Thatcherite warmongering of Blair, Cameron and May, it will only lead to worse violence and terror in the Middle East and at home.

The Ancient Near East as the Birthplace of Democracy

May 15, 2017

This is a bit of a rejoinder to Boris ‘Mugwump’ Johnson. Johnson, as a public schoolboy steeped in the Classics, believes that everything great and good began with ancient Greece and Rome. But a few years ago I put up a blog post about a book, The Origins of the Democracy in the Ancient Near East, which argued that the roots of democracy went further back, and further east, than ancient Greece. It began instead in the popular assemblies, which governed ancient mesopotamian civilisations such as the city state of Mari.

I found this passage about the democratic nature of ancient near eastern civilisation in the entry ‘Law (Mesopotamian)’ in Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Biblical World: A Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology (London: Pickering and Inglis Ltd 1966), 356-359. This states

The pattern of society in early Mesopotamia has been described as “primitive democracy”. There was an assembly (Sumerian ukkin, Akkadian puhrum) of the elders and young men with whom they chieftain or leader (antecedant of the later king) must consult. All major decisions were put to a vote. In addition, the cheiftain was obliged to give to his tutelary deity an annual account of his conduct of authority during the previous year. No doubt here also, as in the case of Egypt, there was drastic modification in practice especially in later years when, for example, such strong men as Sargon of Akkad, Hammurabi of Babylon or Sennacherib of Assyria ruled. But the principle remained in daily life as a unique characteristic of Mesopotamian civilization and spread into Syria and Anatolia as well. 356.

I don’t doubt that in the half century since the book was published, this view of ancient near eastern society as democratic has been revised. I think the book that came out about it a few years ago said that these states weren’t democratic. However, popular assemblies did exist.

Mesopotamia was the old name for the area that is now Iraq, and I wonder how much of its ancient history and precious archaeology has survived the western invasion by Bush and Blair, sectarian conflict and the destructive fury of ISIS. Nicholas Wood in his book, The Case Against Blair, describes how the Americans trashed Babylon when they chose to make it into one of the bases. And the barbarians of ISIS released a vide of them levelling Nineveh and destroying priceless antiquities in one of Iraq’s museums.

And their fury against anything they judge to be un-Islamic isn’t confined to the ancient past. They’ve also desecrated and destroyed Christian churches and the country’s Muslim shrines and mosques. And this is besides the horrific carnage and destruction which the war and its aftermatch have unleashed on the region and its people.

Iraq was one of the major centres of world civilisation, and the destruction of its ancient monuments and artefacts is a massive loss. And all because Bush, Blair and the Saudis wanted to steal the country’s oil and other state-owned industries for American big business.

Vox Political: Torygraph Spreading More Lies about Break-Away Labour Group

May 11, 2017

It seems the Torygraph will publish any old rubbish, not matter how hackneyed and obviously wrong, to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. Yesterday Mike put up a piece about an article in it, which claims that about 100 Labour MPs are in talks with potential donors about setting up a new ‘Progressives’ group in parliament if Corbyn stays on after a Tory landslide.

As Mike says, this is just the same old rumours that right-wing Labour MPs were planning to split the party that were circulating just before Corbyn won his second leadership election with a landslide.

He concludes

This is just a stupid smoke-and-mirrors bid to sap support for Jeremy Corbyn after Labour’s storming campaign launch and yet more blunders from ‘Team Terrible’ – I mean, Team Theresa.

I notice the name of the Torygraph reporter is ironically appropriate – C Hope? There’s no hope for Tories to see here.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/10/how-many-times-must-we-read-this-twaddle-about-mps-breaking-away-from-corbyns-labour/

A little while ago Florence, one of the great commenters on this blog, posted this remark about similar rumours of a Labour split:

It seems you may not have long to wait, as rumour has it that Blair is indeed trying to found a new party (or should that be a New Party?), with Sainsbury’s money being redirected from Progress to the New Blair Party. I have no doubt at all that this will claim to hold the middle ground as long as the ideals of neoliberalism seem centrist and “moderate”. I also have no doubt that this is yet another attack on the working people of the UK.

Let’s just stick with the current Labour party, that has promised to represent the 99%, and not the 1%?

My guess is that the Torygraph writer has heard some of these same rumours, and decided to repeat them as fact. It might be true that Blair wants to set up a new ‘Progressives’ party – the title of this new ‘moderate’ – read: neoliberal – group touted by the Torygraph seems to be based on ‘Progress’, the Blairite faction in Labour. Blair himself wants to return to British politics and was in the papers a week ago spouting on about how he wishes to spread ‘moderate’ politics.

I doubt he would have any chance of forming a new party. As Richard Seymour has pointed out in his book on Jeremy Corbyn, Progress is tiny numerically. It’s only causing trouble because its members have seized key position in the party. Furthermore, Blair himself is politically toxic, though like Thatcher he has no idea that he is long past his political sell-by date. Mike and Seymour in his book have pointed out that from 2002 to the end of their administration, Labour lost five million votes. He alienated voters with his right-wing policies.

And even some Tories despise him for reasons that are entirely right and correct. The Mail on Sunday columnist, Peter Hitchens, refers to him as ‘the Blair creature’ and voices his intense disgust at him for starting the needless wars in the Middle East which have cost so many brave men and women their lives and limbs.

My guess is that if the 100 Labour MPs did split off from Labour, it would result in them immediately losing their seats. The party would then be able to put up proper left-wing candidates, who would support Corbyn – or a suitably left-wing successor. These proper Labour MPs would then win the seats previously held by their Blairite predecessors.

But as Mike said, rumours of these splits have run before, and been wrong. The Blairite MPs themselves have been desperate to hold on to their nominations as Labour MPs by any means, fair or foul. We’ve seen whole local Labour parties suspended on trumped up charges because they’ve scared the Tom Watson and his minions by threatening to deselect their Blairite MP.

And Barry Davies, one of the long-term commenters over on Mike’s blog, raises the spectre of what happened to the SDP:

Well let’s honest if they “moderate’s” broke away what are they going to do, renew the social democrats?, start another party? join the lib dems, whatever they would be assured of losing their cushy jobs.

Yes, what did happen to the SDP? They were supposed to be about to break the mould of British politics. I can remember David Owen telling his troops to go back home and prepare for government.

It didn’t happen.

But he did get an invitation from Screaming Lord Sutch to join the Monster Raving Loony Party. Sutch said in his autobiography, Life As Sutch, that if Dr Owen had joined them, he’d be in government by now.

This looks like wishful thinking at best from the Torygraph. They’ve been one of the most venomous and persistent of Corbyn’s critics in the media. Possibly this is due to the paper’s very blatant right-wing bias, made worse by its ownership by the weirdo Barclay Twins, and desperation to ingratiate itself to potential advertisers by spiking stories that reflect badly on them. According to Private Eye, this prostration before the advertisers has resulted in readers leaving it in droves. I got the impression that this has resulted in mass sackings by doddery CEO Murdo McClellan and the Gruesome Twosome in order to keep the paper’s share price up.

Either way, it’s the Torygraph that’s in dire straits, not Labour. And hopefully one result of a Labour victory will be to utterly discredit the Telegraph and the other right-wing denizens of Fleet Street as influential opinion-formers.

Middle Eastern Asylum Seekers Forced to Use Food Banks or Starve

May 8, 2017

I heard this from my mother after she came back from church yesterday. It’s one of those stories which makes you wonder what’s wrong with the people of this country. And the minister, who told it, made it very clear he thought something ought to be done about the poverty being inflicted on the poor and desperate right NOW.

One of the ministers at our local church also helps out at one of the city’s food banks. He told mum that one of the people, who is now forced to use it is a female asylum seeker from one of the war-torn countries in the Middle East. The woman was married with a husband and child, who she had left behind. Fortunately, when she arrived here she was able to claim benefits.

That is until she was joined by the rest of her family. This should have been a joyful reunion. Another family given sanctuary from fear and murder in Blighty. And I dare say for a time it was, until the DWP told the lady that, as her circumstances were changed, she was no longer entitled to benefits.

And so, like over a hundred thousand other people in this miserable country, she was forced to come to the food bank or starve.

The minister was upset and outraged by this obvious injustice. And it’s just one of a hundred thousand others. I’ve reblogged pieces before from some of the great sites and pages on the Web by people, who work in food banks, or who otherwise have contact with those who do, or are forced to use them.

The people, who come to them are genuinely desperate. They don’t use them, as the Tories have lied ad nauseam, because it’s free food. You need to be referred by your local jobcentre because you have no money. And thanks to the government’s determination to brand every job- and asylum seeker a potential scrounger, and throw them off benefits, an increasing number are. And all so the government can appeal to the embittered souls, who read the Daily Heil, and play up to the growing anti-immigrant sentiment in this country.

Except, contrary to all the lies put out by the Tory press, these people aren’t taking our jobs. They do jobs we don’t want to do, as shown in the film, Dirty Pretty Things. Many of them are also highly educated people, frequently with technical backgrounds, whose skills this country needs.

They also are a net contributor to what remains of our welfare state. Immigrants and asylum seekers pay into through taxes and NI contributions, but are less likely to be on benefits than the traditional population.

As for the fears that we shall be overwhelmed with them, they impression I have had is that they really don’t want to leave the homelands. They have genuinely been driven out because of real threats against their lives and those of their families. When the wars in their native countries end, or the oppressive regime is overthrown, they’ll be only too glad to go back.

But you ain’t going to hear about this from the likes of the Scum, the Mail, and the Express. You’re just going to hear tales of violent criminals sponging off the system, or of militant Islamists trying to islamicize the place by stealth.

Not only is this playing up to the worst aspects of the national psyche, it also has a more obscure, but equally important role in promoting the interests of right-wing parties like the Tories and UKIP, before their decimation in the election last week. Playing on fears of immigrants helps divide the working class, just as portraying the rest of the genuinely poor and desperate as scroungers, and trade unionists as evil troublemakers determined to wreck the country. Since the collapse of Communism the Tories and their lickspittles in the press haven’t been able to claim that they’re all the tools of Moscow. this might come back, though, with the new Cold War and the determined campaign to blame everything on Putin. At the moment, however, they’re just content to harp on about the ‘Winter of Discontent’ and the ’70s.

And as they do, it helps keep working people from uniting with others, who are deliberately being kept poor and desperate so that May, and Blair and Thatcher before her, could give tax cuts and a supply of cheap, disposable labour to big business.

It’s time people saw through the lies and propaganda, and realised their common interests with the long term unemployed, the disabled, and asylum seekers, everyone who is sneered at and demonised by the Tories and the neoliberals in the Labour party.

We shouldn’t need food banks. We should have a decent benefit system, which gave people what they need to survive, and recognised that the people, who are out of work, have been thrown there due to a rigged economic system and collapsing jobs market.

Peter Hitchens Spearing BBC Anti-Russian Propaganda over Syria

May 7, 2017

Peter Hitchens is somewhat of a political maverick. He started his political career as a Trotskyite, before gradually abandoning Marxism and embracing Conservativism. He’s not a supporter of gay marriage, although he admits that opposing it is a lost battle. He supports the reintroduction of the death penalty, the return of grammar schools and more stringent punishments as a deterrent to crime. He’s also very strongly anti-cannabis.

Against that, he has opposed the selling off of council houses and does not believe that private firms should run prisons, as the maintenance of justice and its machinery of punishment and correction should be the exclusive preserve of the state. He got up the nose of his editors at the Mail of Sunday for persistently referring to David Cameron as ‘Mr Slippery’, or similar derogatory names.

And he absolutely despises Blair, whom he terms ‘the Blair creature’, for his invasion of the Middle East. Hitchens has made it very clear in his column that he loathes Blair for sending so many courageous men and women to their deaths in an illegal conflict.

And he is also very definitely not going along with the current Beeb propaganda against the Russians over the war in Syria.

This short video of his appearance last year on the Andrew Marr Show by Scot TV, Hitchens refuses to go along with the general condemnation of the Russians for bombing Aleppo. He makes the point that the al-Nusra Front, whom we are now being told to support by our government and media, are Islamist terrorists, and a form of al-Qaeda. He states that the footage we see of noble white helmeted rebels rescuing the injured victims of Assad and Putin is propaganda footage. We are not allowed into those areas, so we don’t see what’s really going on. Also, we are not shown the horrors that our shelling and attacks, or those of the rebels we are currently backing, have perpetrated on Assad’s supporters.

Hitchens is absolutely correct, but his stating this horrifies Marr’s two other guests.

In recent months there have been well-documented reports of the supposed heroic rebels massacring those trying to flee rebel-held areas. In the last incident, a suicide bomber scattered crisps and food in front of train, so that the children of those fleeing would first leap out of the train to scrabble for them. He killed 68 people. 12 of these were kids.

There has also been the suggestion that the victims of the poison gas attack, which was falsely blamed once again on Assad, were in fact pro-government villagers kidnapped by the rebels, and then killed by them, their bodies then used as macabre props for a very nasty piece of propaganda.

And the rebels have also faked poison gas attacks several times in order to draw America into the war, setting of chemical weapons themselves as ‘false flag’ attacks.

Hitchens is very much a member of the Tories, but I respect his integrity and independence on this issue. Just as I like him for his manifest disrespect to David Cameron, although his reasons may not be the same as mine.

He is absolutely right about Syria, and it is refreshing to see him speak in contradiction of the lies and propaganda we are being fed by the government and news media.

Internet Petition to Revoke Charitable Status of Zionist Front Group Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

May 7, 2017

Mike put up a piece yesterday explaining how he had been suspended by the national Labour party because of libels spread by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism that he was an anti-Semite. These libels were repeated by the local Welsh press and then echoed by the local Conservative MP. As I’ve blogged many times before, Mike is very definitely not anti-Semitic in the slightest. He has friends of different races, and does not judge people on their ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

He is proud to have been invited by one of his female friends to be a reader in a performance for Holocaust Memorial Day when he was at College. I remember his obvious pride in telling me how the girl, who was Jewish, told him that his performance reading some of the names of those butchered by the Nazis had left her profoundly moved.

Mike’s crime is simply that he stood up for the very many other decent, anti-racist women and men, who have been falsely defamed as anti-Semites, simply because they have criticised the state of Israel for its discrimination and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians. Those smeared have, as I have said, included both gentiles and Jews, many of whom have suffered abuse and violence themselves because of their Jewish heritage or, if they are non-Jews, because of their friendship and solidarity with Jews.

In his article Mike linked to a petition on Change.org by Tony Greenstein. This is to get the Charity Commission to deregister the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism because it does not do what it claims to. The organisation isn’t interested in genuinely defending Jewish people against prejudice and discrimination. Instead it is a Zionist front organisation, which exists solely to exploit the Jewish people’s history of persecution as a weapon to smear Israel’s critics. Mr Greenstein’s explanation of his petition runs:

The so-called Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is a McCarthyite Zionist propaganda organisation whose aim is to smear and libel opponents of Israel’s apartheid regime.

Ever since its formation during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, when over 2,000 Palestinians, including 551 children were murdered by Israeli missile attacks and shelling of civilian areas, it has sought to tarnish supporters of the Palestinians and anti-Zionists with the label ‘anti-Semitism’.

The fact that the CAA is officially a registered charity is outrageous. It provides no Public Benefit, the test of any charity nor are its activities remotely charitable. It is a nakedly right-wing political Zionist organisation.

Last Friday it attacked a member of Hove Labour Party and a Momentum supporter Rebecca Massey. She has since received death threats. Yesterday it smeared the veteran Israeli Jewish anti-Zionist Emeritus 80 year old Professor Moshe Machover as ‘anti-Semitic’. With its attack on Machover, the CAA has reached a new low.

A cursory search of its archives reveals almost nothing on fascist groups, who are anti-Semitic holocaust deniers. There are however 21 entries for Jewish Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, who supports the Palestinians, 70 entries for Jeremy Corbyn and 29 for Shami Chakrabarti – all of them hostile. There were 8 for Theresa May, but only to congratulate her!

The CAA’s purpose is to limit freedom of speech by attacking as ‘anti-Semitic’ opponents of the Israeli state. Please support this petition.

I’ve signed the petition, stating that I have done so because of its libels against Mike and other decent, anti-racist people.

And the other people mentioned in Mr Greenstein’s introduction, who have also been falsely smeared as anti-Semites, certainly shows the malign nature of this organisation. I think Gerald Kaufman was one of those MPs, who were caught fiddling their expenses a few years ago. However, I have never seen anything to doubt his integrity as a genuine voice for peace and justice in the Middle East, to which he has been a frequent visitor.

Like Gerald Kaufman, Jeremy Corbyn has also been smeared because he too supports the Palestinians.

As for accusing Shami Chakrabarti, the civil liberties campaigner, this shows how deeply politicised the organisation is. The very accusation is farcical.

I am also horrified and revolted that they have smeared the Hove Labour party member, and supporter of Jeremy Corbyn Rebecca Massey, and that the lady has received death threats as a result.

Just as I am by their smear of Prof. emeritus Moshe Machover. Professor Machover has been referenced several times by organisations campaigning against the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. I believe I have seen him mentioned several times in articles in Counterpunch. The fact that they have so smeared such a distinguished scholar, not sparing his years, tellingly shows how utterly bereft of genuine integrity these people have.

They are moral pygmies trying to support a brutal, racist regime through libels and intimidation against people who are their moral superiors in every way. The fact that they can only use libels also shows that they have no real arguments to support them, and can only attack their critics using twisted lies.

There has been a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in recent years, just as there has been an increase in racism generally. But these people are not interested in
combating genuine abuse and violence, and their failure to do so gives the lie to their claim that they are.

It’s high time this bullying stopped, and the organisation was brought to account for its foul smears.

If you would like to sign the petition, it’s at https://www.change.org/p/the-charity-commission-to-get-the-charity-commission-to-deregister-the-zionist-campaign-against-anti-semitism?utm_source=embedded_petition_view

Or you can go to Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/06/no-council-seat-for-vox-political-writer-because-of-politically-motivated-interference/ and use the link there.

Counterpunch Interview with Palestinian and Israeli Nonviolent Campaigners

May 6, 2017

Last week, Counterpunch published an interview by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb with Sami Awad, a Christian Palestinian, and Yoav Litvin, a former Israeli soldier, about their campaigns to bring about an end to the brutalisation of the Palestinian people and conflict between Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land, based on the Gandhian principles of nonviolence and civil resistance. For example, Sami Awad in the articles states that he is horrified that Palestinian children don’t have Jewish friends, thanks to the system of segregation. Rabbi Gottlieb also notes that apart from the well-known conflict between Israelis and Arabs there are also tensions between Eurpean and American descended Jews and the Mizrahim, the indigenous Middle Eastern Jews. She states that the myth of the Jews returning to their ancestral homeland after 2000 years of exile has resulted in the Jewish state erasing the long history of the region’s indigenous Jews.

In her introduction, Rabbi Gottlieb writes

Sami Awad and Yoav Litvin are two men whose lives have been deeply impacted by the events of 1948 and 1967 when Palestinians were collectively driven from their homes and villages in order to make room for Jewish settlement. The Israeli Occupation of Palestine is ongoing; Israeli policies that resulted from the events of 1948 and 1967 continue to create daily suffering in the lives of Palestinians.

Sami Awad comes from a lineage of Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem. He was influenced to follow the path of nonviolence by his uncle, Mubarak Awad, a follower of Gandhi. Sami created an alternative institution, The Holy Land Trust, which is part of the wave of nonviolent movement building dedicated to resisting Occupation, which grew out of the first Intifada.

Yoav Litvin went through a personal journey from acceptance of the pre-determined role of Zionist soldier-guardian, to a person who dissents from the Israeli status quo regarding Palestinians. He uses his skills as a psychologist/neuroscientist and writer/artist to promote accountability, healing and reconciliation.

People who resist the systemic violence of Israeli Occupation in Palestine and Israel have a lot to teach us about building nonviolent movements for justice and social change under extremely challenging conditions. Millions of Palestinians suffer under a settler-colonial regime that is engaged in continuous appropriation of land, ghettoization and isolation, the imposition of hundreds of check points that curtail freedom of movement and economic growth, destruction of homes, villages and farm land, forced water deprivation, the blockade of Gaza, constant military invasion and assault, two separate and unequal systems of justice and so many other features of Israeli rule that deprive Palestinians of their capacity to live peacefully and without fear upon the land of their ancestors or fulfill their personal dreams. In addition to the Israeli Jewish and Palestinian conflict, social, political, cultural and economic divides among Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews in Israel is another complex component of the process of conflict transformation. The Zionist myth of a 2000-year absence and subsequent return of Jews to the land erases the long history of the Jews of the Middle East who are indigenous to the region.

In response to Israeli apartheid, Palestinians have chosen to resist forced removal from ancestral lands with a variety of mostly nonviolent tactics. Inspired by the successful South African struggle to end apartheid, Palestinians called upon the international community to take up boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as a nonviolent solidarity tactic on July 9, 2005 after the International Court of Justice declared the Separation Wall illegal on July 9, 2004. In addition to BDS, Palestinians employ prisoner hunger strikes, Friday demonstrations against the Separation Barrier, the creation of ‘Tent Cities’, and Palestinian cultural arts to remain ‘sumud’, that is, ‘steadfast’ to their commitment to keep living on ancestral lands and preserving Palestinian culture. Palestinians refuse to be erased from history and place. Intifada, in its original meaning, means to shake off oppression through the art of resistance. This is a daily, and unavoidable practice for Palestinians, as it is a condition of existence under Israeli occupation for those who remain.

Israeli Jews who dissent from Occupation, although few in number, continue to create methods of solidarity in support of Palestinian human rights. Groups such as Israeli Committee Against Home Demolition (ICAHD), Combatants for Peace, Breaking the Silence, Who Profits?, Anarchists Against the Wall, Machsom Watch, Shministim, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and +972 are platforms of resistance to Occupation. The Palestinian community living inside ‘1948’ also engages in resistance through alternative institution building and human rights advocacy that includes groups like Adalah-the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adammer (prisoner rights) and many more. Palestinians living inside Israel face ongoing assaults on their capacity to remain on traditional lands and neighborhoods as well as achieve equal rights under Israeli law. The ongoing atmosphere of racism is the price Palestinians pay for continuing to live in Israel.

This is a fascinating alternative insight into the activism of decent, honourable men and women, seeking to remove a monstrous injustice. Much of this is new to me. I don’t believe I’ve heard anyone talking about non-violent resistance by the Palestinians. The news you hear about from the region seems to be exclusively about bloodshed. I’ve come across the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, but have never come across many of the other Israeli groups mentioned in this article, such as Combatants for Peace. I’m not surprised, however. Amos Oz in his book, The Israelis, records the sorrow and guilt expressed by many Israeli soldiers for their role in expelling Palestinians during the Six Day War.

The article’s at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/28/never-give-up-nonviolent-civilian-resistance-healing-and-active-hope-in-the-holyland/

May the Lord bless all those striving to bring a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and indeed to everyone trying to create a better future in the Middle East, one without terror, sectarianism, and imperialism.

Redacted Tonight: Mainstream Media Pushing War in Syria Hiding Connections to Arms Companies

April 25, 2017

This is another very incisive little clip from Redacted Tonight, a satirical politics show on RT. In this clip, their reporter John F. O’Donnell discusses disclosure, or rather, the absolute lack of it in the mainstream media when it comes to the connections of their contributors and presenters to arms companies when pushing for war in Syria. Media Matters, a media monitoring group, has criticised the way the Washington Post allows Ed Rogers to write for them urging more intervention in Syria and the Middle East, without mentioning that he is a lobbyist for Raytheon, the arms company that manufactures the Tomahawk missiles using in Trump’s airstrike last week. Fox News had retired American army general, Jack Dean on their show, who praised Trump’s air strike for showing that ‘American leadership is back’. But Fox News did not tell its viewers that Dean is on the board of General Dynamics, which makes the launching systems for the same missiles.

And guess who else also personally profited from launching the missiles? Yep, it’s Mr ‘Drain the Swamp’ himself, Donald Trump, now the biggest monster in it, according to the Young Turks. According to FCC records for last year, 2016, Trump also had stock in Raytheon, whose own stock has risen $5 billion since the attack.

War is business, as the saying goes, and under Trump, business is good.

These points are made in a humorous way by O’Donnell, who contrasts the media’s lack of disclosure with his own, as he makes coarse jokes about his bizarre sex practices, inability to impress a girl he fancied, and how he backed a friend’s lame business venture.

Blair Should Be Thrown Out of the Labour Party for Urging People to Vote Lib Dem or Tory

April 24, 2017

Mike also put up a piece yesterday commenting on the news that the former Labour leader, Tony Blair, had urged people to put party differences aside and vote for a Conservative or Lib Dem candidate if they have an ‘open mind’ about the Brexit deal. He said he wanted to maximise the number of people willing to stop May ‘steamrolling’ a hard Brexit.

Mike quotes a spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn, who said

“On 9 June, we will either have a Labour government or a Tory one. If you want Brexit to be used to turn Britain into a low-wage tax haven, vote Tory. If you want a Britain for the many not the few after Brexit, vote Labour. The choice is clear.”

This is absolutely correct. If you vote Tory, you will be voting for more poverty, more starvation and more privatisation of the NHS, all to turn Britain into an offshore tax haven. Lobster examined the source of Tory funds a few years ago. Guess what? They’re not coming from their grassroots members. Membership of the party was falling, and some branches were closed to new members. Others had closed entirely. And the grassroots members were complaining that they were being ignored by the party bosses. The Tories simply don’t have enough coming in from party subscriptions to support them. At the moment it seems that the party is being funded primarily by American hedge fund managers in London.

Mike also states, quite correctly, that Blair should be thrown out of the party for encouraging people to vote against it. He’s right. This is against the Labour party constitution. He also states he agrees absolutely with Eoin Clark that Blair’s administration was far better than the Tories under May. Well, you really can’t argue against that.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/04/23/tony-blair-should-be-drummed-out-of-labour-after-urging-voters-to-support-other-parties/

But this latest comment shows how tenuous Blair’s own connection to the Labour party was. Lobster and other political commenters have made the point that Blair and the New Labour coterie’s support for the Labour party was only tribal, not ideological. Blair himself also seems to have said that he joined the Labour party because he believed he had a better chance at promotion within it than any of the others. Once in power, he threatened to tear the party’s heart out by cutting ties with the trade unions, despite the fact that the Labour party was partly founded by them in order to represent the interests of British working people. He also ditched the Labour party’s commitment to nationalisation, Clause 4, and continued the Tories’ policy of privatisation, including the NHS. He was essentially a Tory entryist, and this latest pronouncement shows he still has the same mercenary attitude to politics.

And this is quite apart from the fact that he took us into an illegal war with his and Bush’s invasion of Iraq, a war that has killed and displaced millions of people across the Middle East and destabilised the entire region. There are very good reasons for having him indicted as a war criminal. See the book by Nicholas Wood and Anabella Pellens, The Case Against Blair: War Crime or Just War? The Iraq War 2003-2005 (London: South Hill Press 2005).

Blair did some very good things when he was in power. But he also managed to destroy much of Labour’s grassroots support, and pioneered some of the policies that have been continued so disastrously by Cameron and May. In some ways, his present disloyalty to the party he led is the least of his crimes. His actions in the Middle East alone mean that he should not be allowed anywhere near power, nor be listened to by anyone ever again.

Richard Seymour on the Dubious Electability of the Blairites

April 20, 2017

I’ve put up a few pieces about Richard Seymour’s criticisms of the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and his refutation of them in his book Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics. While I don’t agree with the book’s overall view – that Labour has never been a Socialist party, and has always compromised and taken over establishment economic policies – he does make some excellent points refuting some of the smears directed at the Labour leader – that he and his supporters are misogynists and anti-Semitic. In discussing the ‘Project Fear’ campaign against Corbyn, he also attacks the oft-repeated claim of the Blairite ‘moderates’ that they are far more likely to win an election than Corbyn. Seymour writes

The problem for the ‘moderates’ is this: they aren’t actually anywhere near as good at winning elections as they like to think.

Even in their reputed ‘golden age’, beginning in the bright summer of 1997, New labour was the beneficiary of timing and fortune far more than of the strategic genius of Mandelson and company. The Tories had already decisively lost the support of a stratum of ‘secular’ voters who tend to vote with their wallets. Any general election held after the 1992 ERM crisis would have been Labour’s to lose. (admittedly, that is no surety that they would not have lost it; Mandelson’s savvy did not prevent the loss of the 1992 election.) New Labour’s first term in office, between 1997 and 2001, saw their electoral coalition shrink by 3 million voters, largely from the poorest parts of the country. Were it not for the ongoing crisis wracking the Conservative Party, and the oddities of Britain’s electoral system – two factors over which electoral gurus and spinners have little control – such a haemorrhaging of support could have been fatal; leaving Blair another one-term Labour Prime Minister.

Blair’s third general election victory in 2005 was obtained with just over a third of the popular vote, and a total number of votes (9.5 million) similar to the achieved by Ed Miliband (9.35 million) in the disastrous 2015 election, in which Labour finally lost the majority of Scotland. What was the bid difference between a record third election victory and crushing defeat? The revival of the Conservative vote. The Tories had undergone a detox operation, with a youthful, glabrous-cheeked leader doing his best Blair interpretation. The deranged Right had largely decamped to UKIP. A period in coalition government with the Liberals had persuaded middle-ground voters that the Tories were no longer dominated by rancorous flag-wavers and pound-savers. (one might add, since it has become a psephological commonplace, that the credit crunch was ‘Labour’s ERM crisis’, but this is only partially true: Labour decisively lost this argument in retrospect, and it was by no means inevitable that they should have done so.

What about today? Whatever they think of Corbyn’s electoral chances, the Blairites’ own electoral prospects are not necessarily better. Polls taken of the prospective Labour candidates before the leadership election found that of all the candidates, Corbyn was the favourite. The ‘moderates’, lacking an appealing message, were also about as charismatic as lavatory soap dispensers. Labour’s poll ratings under Corbyn are poor, but hardly worse than before despite the ongoing media feeding frenzy. There is no reason to believe that any of his lacklustre rivals would be doing any better than Corbyn presently is.

Why might this be, and why have the pundits been so easily impressed by the claims of Labour’s right-wing? Thinking through the electoral arithmetic on the Blairites’ own terms, it was never obvious that the electoral bloc comprising people who think the same way they do is even close to 25 per cent. The reason this hasn’t been a problem in the past is that elections in Britain’s first-past-the-post system are usually decided by a few hundred thousand ‘median’ voters based in marginal constituencies. As long as Labour could take the votes of the Left for granted, they could focus on serenading the ‘aspirational’ voters of Nueaton. Even the erosion of ‘heartland’ votes didn’t register, so long as this erosion was happening to mountainous, seemingly unassailable majorities.

What happens, however, when left-leaning electors defect in sufficient numbers and sufficient geographic concentration to pose serious questions about Labour’s medium-term survival? What happens when it is no longer just the odd Labour seat going to George Galloway or Caroline Lucas in sudden unpredictable surges, but the whole of Scotland being lost in a single bloodbath? What happens when votes for left-of-centre rivals surge (the SNP vote trebling, the Green vote quadrupling), millions of potential voters still stay at home, and all of this takes place while the Conservatives reconstitute themselves as a viable centre-right governing party? This is one of the reasons why Corbynism has emerged in the first place: in that circumstance, Blairite triangulation turn out to be as useful as a paper umbrella, only any good until it starts raining.
(Pp. 51-3).

This is a good analysis, and it’s what Mike over at Vox Political, Guy Debord’s cat and others have been saying for a long time: the Blairites actually lost voters by chasing the Tory vote in marginal constituencies. Corbyn has actually won them back to the party. And the electoral success of the Greens and the SNP was based on them presenting themselves as a genuinely left-wing alternative to a Labour party that was determined to turn itself into Conservatives Mark 2. There is one thing which I differ with this article on: the metaphor with lavatory soap dispensers. I think the soap dispensers are actually more charismatic than the Blairites. They perform a useful service for personal hygiene, helping to prevent the spread of disease. This is very different from Blair and his coterie, who have succeeded in doing the precise opposite in Britain and the rest of the world. Thanks to Blair’s pursuit of Thatcherite policies, the way was open for the return of malnutrition and the diseases linked to poverty under the Tories. And by joining Bush in his wars in the Middle East, they have murdered millions, from the violence of the war itself and vicious sectarian and ethnic conflicts that came afterwards, the destruction of these nations’ economies, and malnutrition and disease as sanitation and health services collapsed.

The Blairites’ claim that they are more electable than Corbyn are self-promoting lies. They aren’t, and the policies they pursue are, like the Tories they took them from, actively dangerous.