Posts Tagged ‘Naz Shah’

Vox Political on the Skwawkbox Interview with the Man behind the anti-Blairite T-Shirt

July 28, 2016

The Skwawkbox blog, which was partly set up to campaign against the privatisation of the NHS, has managed to track down and interview ‘Ged’, the elderly gentleman wearing the notorious anti-Blairite T-shirt. Ged was photographed wearing the shirt, bearing the slogan ‘Eradicate Blairite Scum’, flanked by two of the very people the shirt condemns: Lewis Parker of Portland, and Anna Philips of Progress. In the past few weeks there have been numerous stories about that shirt. It was said that Ged was tricked into wearing it by the two jokers as part of a smear campaign against the Corbynites. I was taken in by this story, and repeated it on my blog. However, Ged states that the T-shirt is genuine. Ged states that he’s a genuine follower of Corbyn, and, like millions of others, was inspired by his opposition to Thatcherism. He said he had the shirt made after the May Day rally. He also states that most people realised that the shirt was talking about political eradication.

This has changed after he was photographed with Phillips and Parker. Neither of the two told him, who they were. And so the rumour has grown up that he was part of their campaign to smear the Corbynites. This has reached the extreme of a story that he is part of an underground group inspired by the murder of Jo Cox. Ged strenuously denies this, calling it ‘absolute filthy rubbish’. Ged states that he was not part of any such campaign to smear Corbyn, nor did he intend to incite anyone to violence, especially as he is a union health and safety officer.

Ged’s own health is not good. He has been treated for mouth cancer, this added additional worry about his physical safety. Nobody assaulted him, but he did become paranoid because people gave him a wide berth and stared at him.

Mike states that Ged has been so clearly misrepresented by the two Blairites, that he has an excellent case for bringing a libel action. He says

It seems ‘Ged’ may have a very secure case for libel against the other people in the photograph. Clearly it would not have been used in the way it has if they had not taken it, and then spread lies about it.

Would any lawyer care to take on the case? It seems easy money, to This Writer!

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/27/vermin-t-shirt-wearer-tracked-down-its-not-what-weve-been-told-the-skwawkbox-blog/

and following the links to the original interview.

I think losing a libel action brought on behalf of ‘Ged’, and the wider community supporting Jeremy Corbyn, would have a very salutary action on the Blairites. Their whole campaign has been one long stream of abuse and misrepresentation after another. Eagle claimed she was abused at a Labour party meeting because of her sexuality, when no such thing occurred. The mother of another woman, who had married her female partner, testified to that. Eagle also lied about a brick being thrown through her office window. That also never occurred. And then there were the accusations of anti-Semitism brought against Red Ken, Naz Shah, Jackie Walker and others. Leninspart is many things, but he is demonstrably not an anti-Semite. You only have to look at his speeches and writing condemning all forms of racism, including against the Irish and anti-Semitism. Indeed, he devotes pages in his book, Livingstone’s Labour, to attacking the Labour party because it gave sanctuary after the War to Nazis, convicted of the most horrendous crimes against humanity, including active participation in pogroms against the Jews and the Holocaust. These monsters were given safety in Britain, because it was believed they could assist British intelligence in the Cold War against Communism. Jackie Walker is of mixed Black and Jewish heritage. Her Black British mother was thrown out of America for participating in the Civil Rights agitation. Her father is a Russian Jew, and therefore probably knows more than most about anti-Semitism. Walker is also an ardent campaigner against racism and prejudice, including anti-Semitism, and her partner is also Jewish. As for Naz Shah, she was on good terms with her local synagogue. This should say for itself that she isn’t anti-Semitic.

I’d say that these people have an excellent case for libel against the Blairites accusing them of anti-Semitism, particularly Jackie Walker. She said in an interview that her partner’s family had broken off contact with her. Clearly, this should constitute proof that the accusation has cause demonstrable distress and harm to her interests.

I’m not sure whether such libel actions would succeed, however, as in Britain you’re guilty unless proven rich. And New Labour had some very rich donors. Nevertheless, in my eyes and opinion New Labour has committed libel, and any attempt to claim otherwise in a court of law is flagrant perjury.

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The Political Abuse of Anti-Semitism Accusations: Jeremy Corbyn, and the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia

July 3, 2016

I’ve put up a whole series of article attacking and debunking the accusations of anti-Semitism, which have been directed against the Labour party, and more specifically its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. As I’ve shown, these are all false, gross distortions of history and offensive personal smears of decent men and women. Ken Livingstone, for example, was entirely correct when he said that Hitler favoured at one time the emigration of Jews to Israel. He did. The Nazis, including Adolf Eichmann, one of the most notorious of those responsible for the Holocaust, aided people smugglers in getting Jews into Palestine, then under the British Mandate. They also supplied arms to the Haganah, the clandestine Jewish military organisation in Palestine, so that it could aid the British in suppressing the Arab rebellion against British rule – the First Intifada. This is documented in the work of the Jewish historian and passionate Zionist, David Cesarani, on the Holocaust and the origins of the Israel. Naz Shah, one of the others, who have been accused, has the support of her local synagogue. This surely provided good testimony that whatever faults she may have, anti-Semitism isn’t one of them. As for Jackie Smith, one of the others slandered with this accusation, she is a veteran anti-racism campaigner. Her mother was Black British civil rights activist, who was deported from America for her activism by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Her father was a Russian Jew, and her partner is also Jewish.

The source of these allegations lie in the Blairite wing of the Labour party, who are desperate to use any tactic to cling on to power, and the Israel lobby. These latter are determined to smear anybody and everybody, who objects to their oppression and maltreatment of the Palestinians, as an anti-Semite, even when these are other Jews, such as the head of Bernie Sander’s Jewish outreach department in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

I’ve also been struck by the way the anti-Semitism allegations recall earlier attempts to discredit left-wing political leaders, in fact and fiction. David English, the editor of the Daily Mail, believed Ken Livingstone was an anti-Semite, and continued to press the issue for about a year in the early 1980s. There was also a piece on the Going Underground news programme on RT, hosted by Afshin Rattansi, which compared the anti-Semitism smears with the plot of the 1980s novel and Channel 4 series, A Very British Coup, in which the media and opposition politicians manufacture false accusations of anti-Semitism to discredit a genuinely popular left-wing Labour Prime Minister.

And the Soviet Union under Brezhnev also used accusations of anti-Semitism in its campaign against the proposed democratisation of Communist Czechoslovakia under its leader, Anton Dubcek, in 1968. Dubcek wished to free his country from the rigid control of the Soviet Union. While remaining very much a Communist, he also planned on introducing platform of reforms aimed at liberalising the country, while retaining the Communist party’s privileged position as the country’s leading political authority. He was going to allow a certain degree of political freedom, in allowing non-Communist groups and voluntary societies to be formed. Inside the Communist party, the policy of ‘democratic centralism’ was to be replaced by democracy and the free discussion of ideas. The security services was to be made responsible solely for defending the Czechoslovakian nation, and not for protecting the Communist parties. The command economy was going to be weakened, to allow greater consumer choice. State enterprises were not going to be privatised, but were going to be freed from the constraints of following the plan, and allowed to manage their own affairs. He was also in favour of something like workers’ control, and the democratic election by the workers of the management committees. In many ways, it prefigures much of Gorbachev’s reforms in the Soviet Union during Perestroika.

All this was too much for Brezhnev’s USSR, which invaded. One of the reasons for the Soviet Union’s hostility to the reforms, according Hugh Lunghi, in his introduction to the book, Dubcek’s Blueprint for Freedom (London: William Kimber 1968) was the fear that the USSR’s covert operations manipulating and dominating its satellites would be revealed by Dubcek’s de-Stalinisation campaign. Dubcek was determined to go ahead with the investigation of Stalin’s terror and the rehabilitation of the old thug’s victims. This would almost certain produce evidence of the activities of the Soviet Union and its secret police in destroying the opposition to the imposition of Communism and those countries’ direct control by Moscow.

Dubcek was, however, genuinely popular amongst the peoples of Czechoslovakia. Surprisingly, he also had the backing of the Czechoslovak secret police. When the KGB tried to infiltrate the country disguised as Czechoslovak secret agents, their passports and documents were in such awful Czech that the country’s real agents had no trouble recognising them and rounding them up. They were then delivered to the Russian embassy with the explanation that their Czech was so terrible, they must obviously be American spies.

Unable to find anyone willing to collaborate with them in a puppet government to replace Dubcek and his supporters, the Soviet authorities tried instead to grind him down by stalling his reforms and trying discredit Dubcek and his supporters. One of the ways they tried to do this was through entirely spurious accusations of anti-Semitism. Lunghi writes:

About a month later, on October 11th, Dubcek repeated [not to introduce a secret police terror campaign] in a major speech in which he explained why the Czechoslovak leadership had refused to authorise a programme of unjustified arrests and dismissals which “some Communists” (he did not specify in which country) demanded for anti-Semitic and other reasons. “Some individuals,” said Dubcek, “think this is now the time to move towards excesses similar to those of the ‘fifties, that this is a time to return to the deformities of sectarian non-Leninist methods.” Communists should understand, continued Dubcek, that “”socialist thought in our country is not deformed, for example, by anti-Semitism…” (p. 29, emphasis Lunghi’s). Several of those forced out of office on the orders of the Russians were the victims of anti-Semitism. These included Dr. Frantisek Kriegel, who was accused of being a ‘Zionist’. (p. 30). Which sort of prefigures the accusations of anti-Semitism against Jackie Smith, who’s half-Jewish, has a Jewish partner, and is a dedicated campaigner against racism. Or against Rhea Wolfson, who, despite being Jewish, was dropped as a candidate for the NEC by her constituency party on the advice of Jim Murphy, because she was connected with Momentum, which was an anti-Semitic organisation.

It seems the Blairites and their allies are following a very old pattern of using allegations of anti-Semitism to smear left-wing opponents. Well, the joke in Private Eye about Gordon Brown had him as a Stalinist apparatchik, issuing diktats, decrees and party purges like the thug himself.

Secular Talk on New York Governor’s Criminalisation of the BDS Campaign

June 9, 2016

A week ago I put up a number of pieces criticising the anti-Semitism smears against various Labour politicians, including Naz Shah, Jackie Walker and Ken Livingstone, none of whom can or should be described as anti-Semites. The real motivation for these attacks is continuing criticism of Israel for its murderous treatment of the Palestinians and its long-time objective of expelling them from Eretz Israel – the land of Israel – and seizure of their land and property. The Zionist attacks on critics of Israel, including devout Jews, has become increasingly venomous and bitter because of the success of the BDS movement – the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign – which requests companies and individuals not to have anything to do with organisations, commercial companies or goods from the occupied West Bank. The BDS campaign has itself come under attack, and is being reviled and criminalised by the American authorities for its supposed anti-Semitism.

In this piece from Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski discusses New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s signing of an executive order which requires state authorities to sever any connections with organisations and companies supporting the BDS campaign. He attacks it as intolerant and anti-Semitic, and claims that this will help the Israeli people in their struggle for freedom and democracy. Kulinski points out that this is the exact opposite of the truth. Far from struggling for freedom and democracy, Israel is an apartheid state that denies freedom to its Palestinian citizens. He also repeats the point that you can criticize a religion or ideology, without attacking its people. You can and should be able to criticise Zionism without being anti-Semitic, just as criticising Islam does not mean that you want the persecution of its people. And the same could be said of criticising any religion or ideology.

He also attacks the argument that giving into the BDS campaign and the demands of the Palestinians is anti-Semitic, as some of them aren’t satisfied with going back to the pre-1967 borders in a two-state solution. He points out that this isn’t really a criticism, as it’s how negotiations often start: with an inflated claim, which then gets whittled down to more reasonable proportions as the talks and bargaining continue. Yes, there are some Palestinians who want it all back, just as there are Israelis, who also want all of the Palestinians’ territory. But if you open negotiations, hopefully these claims will be discarded in favour of something more moderate.

The Young Turks on the Alt Reich and the Anti-Semitic App

June 9, 2016

After the false allegations of anti-Semitism against leading members of the Labour party, like Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah and Jackie Walker, comes the real thing on the other side of the Pond. This time, it’s brought to you through the miracle of computer software. A few days ago, the I newspaper carried a very brief story that Google Chrome had taken off an app that was being used to track Jews on-line. This is discussed in this clip from The Young Turks, with the hosts Cenk Uygur, Bill Mankiewicz, Jimmy Dore and John Iadarola. The app was being used by a group of Conservative Trump fans styling themselves the Alt Right. There are about 2,400 of them. The device had a database of Jewish surnames, and was being used to flag up if someone had one of these monickers. The example they give is ‘Fleishman’. If someone had that surname, then the Fleishman would appear in double or triple brackets to indicate they were Jewish, thus (((Fleishman))). The members of the group posted comments about its use, saying that ‘a pattern is emerging’. To their credit, Google removed the app.

Uygur and the others try to be fair to Trump and say that he’s not responsible for their actions, and may not have been aware of what they were doing. But they make the point that he is broadly responsible for what they have done in that he has opened up the racist closet with his attacks on Muslims and Mexicans. When Trump launched his offensive against Muslims, it was rightly condemned by the ADL – the Anti-Defamation League. This is the major US body that protects Jews against anti-Semitic smears and attacks. They did so not just because it was right to condemn all forms of racism and discrimination, but also because once it became permissible to discriminate against one group, that licence would soon spread to attacks on Jews. And it has. Trump has attracted racists and White supremacists to his campaign. He’s tried to distance himself from them, but not very hard, merely stating that he doesn’t know anything about them or their support.

The Turks also have a good, well deserved laugh at the stupidity of these anti-Semites and conspiracy theorist. Bill Mankiewicz, who’s Jewish, jokes that if his people really were out to enslave the world, then why are they talking about it? If they had, there’d be no question about it. The Turks also make the wider point about the contradictions in all these daft conspiracy theories. If White gentiles are the master race, then why aren’t they in charge of everything, instead of the Jews? And also, if they’re so superior, why are their jobs being taken by supposedly racially inferior Mexicans?

Of course these accusations and conspiracies don’t make sense. Their contradictions have been pointed out hundreds of times in books and articles on the Nazis and the international Fascist right. The Turks also point out that it’s very clear when you go on White supremacist websites like Stormfront that most of the Nazi right aren’t as bright as they think they are either. That’s also true. If you look at some of the posts from the various British Nazi organisations Hope Not Hate have reproduced on their website, you’ll find that most of them are badly spelt, with an extremely poor vocabulary, most of which seems to consist of obscenity and curses. A left-wing friend of mine, who very definitely isn’t racist, also told me he once read a copy of Spearhead, the NF rag he found in the gutter outside his house after a football match, and couldn’t believe just how stupid and moronic it was. But the reality is that Trump, by advocating racist policies, has made genuine racism and Nazism just that little more acceptable in America. Here’s the video:

Vox Political: Jewish Candidate Rejected for Labour NEC because of Anti-Semitism Allegations

June 2, 2016

This is another incident that shows how grotesquely and obviously false the anti-Semitism accusations are, and how they are very much based on the political maneuverings of the Blairite camp to maintain power in the Labour party. Ken Livingstone has been suspended from the Labour party pending an investigation over the supposed anti-Semitism remarks. Unable to stand for election himself to Labour’s National Executive Council, he supported instead Rhea Wolfson, a Jewish Scotswoman. She is in fact the only Jewish person standing for election to the NEC. She states that she had the support of many other constituency Labour parties, but needed the nomination of her own, Eastwood, for the election. Unfortunately, Jim Murphy, the former head of the Labour party in Scotland, contacted them and asked them to turn her down. She had been endorsed by Momentum, which had been accused of anti-Semitism, and so was a political liability as there were many Jews where she would be standing.

Ms Wolfson writes of this disgraceful incident on her Facebook page

“Needless to say, this is hugely disappointing. It is disappointing because I am the only Jewish candidate in this election, because the wide range of organisations endorsing me includes the Jewish Labour Movement, and because I have a long record of challenging anti-Semitism and have in fact faced it on a daily basis since my candidacy was announced. But above all, it is disappointing because I know there are many members who want to vote for me, who could now have lost that opportunity. I am considering my options going forward.”

Mike makes the point that that it is extremely unlikely that a genuinely anti-Semitic organisation would ever nominate a Jew to the National Executive. This is just the Blairites Jim Murphy and John Mann, who made the allegations against Ken Livingstone. Mike is appalled by these false allegations, and about how the Jewish members of Ms Wolfson’s Constituency Labour Party allowed themselves to be taken in by Murphy’s lies. He also suggests that

It seems appropriate for other Labour branches and constituencies, considering these events, to recommend that Mr Murphy be referred to the party’s current inquiry into racism – and for both he and Mr Mann to be referred for disciplinary action on the grounds that they appear to have conspired to affect the outcome of the NEC elections.

The dirty dealing that blocked the only Jewish candidate from election to Labour’s NEC

I agree absolutely with this. It really does show how hollow the accusations of anti-Semitism are, when a Jewish woman, who has dedicated her political career to tackling racism and anti-Semitism, is turned down on the grounds that she’s representing anti-Semites in the Labour party. This seems to be the British equivalent of the similarly grotesque case in Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. His Jewish Outreach Officer was forced to resign, because she criticised Israel. Despite the fact that she was not only Jewish herself, but also very active in her community. Ms Wolfson isn’t the only Jewish person, who’s been smeared with these allegations. I’ve posted several pieces on this already, pointing out that none of those accused are anti-Semites. One of the most notable is Jackie Walker, whose father is Jewish, partner Jewish, and whose mother was a Black woman thrown out of America for fighting racism during the Civil Rights campaign. As for Red Ken, he’s always been an opponent of all kinds of racism, including anti-Semitism. It’s in his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, p. 112. And there are at least two chapters where he details how Britain and the US recruited former Nazis in their campaign against Communism. As for Naz Shah, she also has the confidence and support of her local synagogue. Her only crime, like the others, was to criticise Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians.

As for Jim Murphy, this is the man, whose tepid, uninspiring leadership of Labour in Scotland has caused it to be virtually wiped out by the SNP. Like the rest of the Blairites, Murphy was afraid of standing up to Tory cuts and defending the welfare state, in case it would offend all the middle class, ‘aspiring’ voters they think will back them rather than the Tories. Just like Shrillary’s New Democrats in America cracked down on the welfare state to appeal to all the swing voters ready to embrace the Republicans. Both are now failed policies. They’re busted flushes, which promise nothing to either Britain or the US than more poverty and misery. The lies of the Neoliberals are now wearing so thin, that the IMF is making very weak criticisms of them, while trying to carry on as before in the hope that nobody will notice.

It’s high time to call a stop to this charade. Those accused have been viciously maligned, and Ms Wolfson denied a chance to represent her constituents and her religious community through cynical smears, made without any qualms as to the damage they do to decent people, and to the wider Labour party. Mike’s right: the true villains are Murphy and Mann, and they show be duly disciplined for their actions.

Norman Finkelstein on the Media Lies of the Israel Lobby

May 31, 2016

I would like to drop blogging about Israel and the Palestinians for a bit, having posted a number of articles about them over the past few days. However, just as I think I’ve said enough about the subject for now, something else crops up.

Porky Scratchings Zionist Trolling

On Monday Mike posted up a piece about how somebody calling themselves ‘Porky Scratchings’ and declaring themselves to be a Zionist, had slandered him on a Twitter as an anti-Semite. This was simply because Mike has published many pieces disputing and refuting the charges of anti-Semitism made against members of the Labour Party. These charges are obviously wrong and should be deeply shameful for the people who made them. Those accused, like Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah and Jackie Walter, are not certainly not Jew-haters, but principled people who have criticised Israeli’s barbarism towards the Palestinians. In addition to his slander, Porky Scratchings tried to lure Mike into writing something anti-Semitic. When Mike disappointed him, Mike’s Twitter account went down. Somebody had tried to hack it. Twitter had frozen it, and advised Mike to change the passwords. I blogged yesterday about how Mike is certainly not either racist or anti-Semitic, and further pulled apart Porky Scratchings utter lack of logic. Commenting on the incident over at Mike’s blog, Florence said that she believed that Porky Scratching was not some isolated troll. Instead, he looked like a paid interrogator. This sounds likely and it fits with the cyber-attack. The accusation of anti-Semitism brought against Jackie Walker ultimately came from a Zionist cybergroup, who based it on remarks she made on her Facebook page comparing the enslavement of Black Africans to the Holocaust and Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians. Walker’s father is a Russian Jew, her partner is Jewish, and one of the friends she was talking to is also Jewish. Her mother was a Black civil rights activist. By any reasonable standard, the accusation is risible and should be laughed out of court, along with the fools who made it. But it seems clear from this that the Israel lobby is engaged in cyber espionage and warfare. And it seems from Mike’s experience with Porky Scratchings that if the Israel lobby can’t find any quote from you they can reasonably claim is anti-Semitic, they will hack into your account and invent one. And as this video with Norman Finkelstein shows, unfortunately the Israel lobby has long history of outrageous, unchallenged lying.

The Lies of the Israel Lobby

Finkelstein here lays into several falsehoods that are manufactured and deployed by the Israel lobby. These are that the conflict with the Palestinians are based in ancient, Biblical feuds; that the experience of the Holocaust was unique, and so normal standards do not apply to Jews in their treatment of the Palestinians; that there is a massive revival of anti-Semitism and rise in assaults on Jews, and concludes with a discussion of the sheer mendacity in Alan Dershowitz’s In Defence of Israel.

Arab Opposition Not Biblical, Based on Zionist Colonisation in 19th and 20th Centuries

The video begins with him saying that the conflict between Israel and the Arabs is not based on the ancient struggles between Israel and the surrounding Canaanite and other states in the Bible, nor in some thousand-year old antagonism between Arabs and Jews. It is simply resistance to the attempts of the Zionist settlers in Palestine to take over their land and expel the indigenous peoples. He states that this is just obvious common sense when applied to every other nation, but it literally jumped off the page at him when he read Benny Morris say it in his book in the 1980s. Morris has since become very right-wing in his attitude to the Palestinians, but that doesn’t change the value of the remark. He compares the situation to the resistance the Amerindians put up to White colonisation in America. He states very clearly that, unless you’re very PC, it’s recognised that the Amerindians were very brutal in their assault on Whites. They killed women and children. Nevertheless, they did so not because they were inherently anti-White, or motivated by some anti-Christianism, but because they were defending themselves and their homeland from subjugation and dispossession.

The Origins of the Different Moral Standards Claimed by Zionists

He states that the attitude that Jews are not subject to the same moral constraints as others first appeared in 1967, with the Jewish rediscovery of Israel. This was the time when the Holocaust industry first got going. As for the allegations that there is a rise in anti-Semitism, he states that every ten years there is a new piece on ‘the new anti-Semitism’ in the media. It ultimately goes back to a 1974 article by the joint heads of the Anti-Defamation League, with the title ‘The New Anti-Semitism’. And what was it about? The musical Jesus Christ Superstar. They claimed it was anti-Semitic because it made Pilate sympathetic to Jesus, and put the responsibility for His crucifixion on the Sanhedrin. The film was directed by Norman Jewison, who wasn’t Jewish, but was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was now, in Finkelstein’s words, the new Hitler. And then the charge that there was a new anti-Semitism appeared again in another article written by the heads of the ADL again in 1982. And its appeared regularly every ten years or so ever since. He compares the attack on Jesus Christ Superstar with the recent controversy over Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

Lies about the Rise in Anti-Semitic Attacks

He then lays into recent article which claimed that there was a rise in assaults on Jews on campuses throughout the US, after a report in one of the newspapers that a Jewish student at Harvard had been assaulted by an Arab. He rang up the universities, and contacted the Hillels. These are the Jewish representatives on campus. There had been no rise in attacks on Jews. And Harvard and its Hillels stated that the attack reported in the papers had not occurred. So he phoned up the journo who wrote it, and asked her where she got it from. She got it from Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. Robertson is right-wing televangelist, who like so many of them says things that are just outrageous and sheer bonkers. Secular Talk has taken a number of pot-shots at him over the years, because of some of the terrible things he’s said. These have included advising men on when it’s Biblically permissible for them to cheat on their wives, and to hit their kids if they say they’re atheists. So not exactly a reliable or unbiased source. Furthermore, if you look at the official statistics, you find that actually there was less anti-Semitism in 2004, presumably when the video was made, than 13 years previously 1991.

Anti-Semitism Allegations Made to Attack Critics of Israel

Finkelstein states clearly that most of the allegations of anti-Semitism are directed at criticisms of Israel, and its treatment of the Palestinians. Where there are genuine anti-Semitic comments made, they’re usually a result of the above. And not surprisingly, says Finkelstein. Israel is the Jewish state, and all the Jewish organisations support it, so it isn’t surprising that Jews become the subjects of hostility for its actions. He compares this with the growth of anti-Americanism around the world, which was a response to American atrocities committed during the Vietnam War.

Dershowitz and In Defence of Israel

As for Dershowitz’s book, In Defence of Israel, Finkelstein states that it’s so bad, he doesn’t think that Dershowitz either wrote or, before he debated with him, had even read it. Whole sections of it are plagiarised. He uses uncritically the work of Joan Peters, who argued that there were no Arabs in Palestine until the Jewish settlers arrived. Finkelstein states its a lie, concocted from a very selective use of Ottoman (Turkish imperial) sources. She also alters and amends these texts to suit herself as well. And when he isn’t plagiarising, he’s simply making stuff up. For example, he talks about the case of a Palestinian who was shaken to death in Israeli custody. All the doctors and physicians, who examined the case concurred that this was the case. Dershowitz, however, states that an independent body concluded that he had died of a pre-existing condition. This is simply not true. Dershowitz, or rather his ghost writer, simply made it up. And nowhere in the book does Dershowitz cite or quote any of the recognised human rights bodies – Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN. He doesn’t for a very good reason. If he did, he’d have to alter the book and change its title to The Case for Palestine.

Finkelstein states that for most cases of pseudo-scholarship, all you have to do to tell it’s wrong is to look at the author’s biography, what organisations they belong to, and who’s publishing it. But this simply isn’t the case by the stuff churned out by the Israel lobby. It’s published by very reputable publishers, its authors often hold prestigious academic places – Dershowitz himself is a professor of law, and the head of a law department at one of the US universities.
And these books and their lies are given very good reviews by the papers and literary journals. For example, he said that after he debated Dershowitz, there was a bit of back forth between him and others about the book, and one of the journos wrote something about it. And then the book received four and five star reviews from papers like the New York Times.

Israel Lobby’s Attitude to Truth that of Revolutionary Communists

So why do they do it? Finkelstein states that they’re motivated by the same attitude as some revolutionary Marxist organisations: that it’s true, if it serves the cause. Finkelstein was a Maoist in the ’60s and ’70s, and used to know a member of the Vietnamese Communist party. In the ’70s there was some debate over whether The Diary of Anne Frank had actually been written by her, or was really the work of her father. Finkelstein states that in 1978 he asked his Maoist mentor about it. He said, ‘It’s true, even if it isn’t’. In other words, if it serves the cause, then it’s true, even when it’s a lie. And these lies serve the Israeli cause.

Here’s the video.

Finkelstein’s detailed exposition here of the sheer mendacity of the Israeli lobby and the deep complicity of the mainstream media, who automatically repeat it without even bothering to do the most basic checks for factual accuracy, is astonishing. These are people, who lie without any qualms, destroying their lives and reputations of decent people, including many active, proud, observant Jews, without any conscience whatsoever. This explains how it is that one of their trolls tried to bait Mike into saying something anti-Semitic, and then tried to fabricate something when Mike didn’t.

This shows that the Israel lobby are liars, and it’s long past the time they were called out, exposed, and discredited for their lies, along with the mendacious and compromised media that repeats and supports them.

Twitter Bigot Falsely Accuses Vox Political Writer of Anti-Semitism For Criticising Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 30, 2016

I suppose it had to happen. The grotesque abuse of allegations of anti-Semitism is now so widespread, and so promiscuously used, that even those seeking to defend those accused of it are now themselves being accused. And Mike over at Vox Political has now joined their numbers.

He reports that yesterday, somebody on Twitter calling themselves ‘Porky Scratchings’, using a picture of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter from the Alice in Wonderland film, accused him of anti-Semitism. Mike was anti-Semitic, according to this idiot, because he rejected the accusations of anti-Semitism against the various members of the Labour party. Porky Scratchings, then departing from most reasonable standards of logic, attempted to support this accusation by arguing that if Jews said someone or something was anti-Semitic, then it was. Mike refuted this by arguing that something was not anti-Semitic, if it was true. He also accused Porky Scratchings of racial supremacism in his turn, as he was trying to argue that Jews had a right to use double standards when it came to defining who was anti-Semitic. Mike also stated that he was ending the conversation.

At that point, Mike’s Twitter account went down, and Mike was then told that somebody had tried to hack in. It had therefore been frozen, and Mike was requested to change his passwords.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/29/wow-did-vox-politicals-writer-just-endure-an-anti-gentile-attack/

So it looks very much like Porky Scratchings, really he wasn’t going to get anywhere with Mike, threw a strop and tried a bit of cyberwarfare.

This is risible and grotesque, as are the accusations of anti-Semitism against the Labour party members. Mike has always been anti-racist, anti-Nazi and very definitely not any kind of anti-Semite. It was Mike, brought me back from a College trip to Berlin a book from a exhibition on the Gestapo, SS, and Reich Security Service Headquarters in the city, which documented their crimes against humanity when I was studying it at Uni.

Terror Topography

On his site, he has put up numerous pieces attacking the Right for racism. In one recent piece, he reminded everyone how the Tory MP, Gulzabeen Afsar, had said that she would not serve under ‘that Jew’, when Ed Miliband was campaign to be PM. Miliband’s Jewish, and Afsar’s comment is clearly anti-Semitic. Mike was outraged not just at the comment, but also at the leniency with Zabar was treated by the Tories. She simply issued an apology, and the Tories then claimed it was all over. Which is precisely what they aren’t doing with the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/26/remember-when-tories-practised-anti-semitism-rather-than-hypocritically-complaining-about-it/

Mike also recently reblogged a piece from Pride’s Purge, about how one of the Nazi grouplets tried to set up a stall in Leicester to persuade people to join the ‘Leave’ campaign on the EU. This group is Britain First, which most definitely is anti-Semitic. One of the drawings the group has produced, which Pride’s Purge did not reproduce, shows a stereotypical kneeling Jew being shot through the forehead from behind. The fact that Mike reblogged this story attacking those nutters should be enough to show that, whatever his views on the anti-Semitism allegations, he isn’t a Nazi or anti-Semite, as Porky Scratchings has alleged.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/26/nazi-sympathiser-working-for-vote-leave-campaign-prides-purge/

The post about Britain First, on which Tom Pride drew for his piece about them trying to attach themselves to Vote Leave, including their vile cartoon, is at the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism website, Hope Not Hate. See http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/blog/insider/something-very-unpleasant-attaches-to-vote-leave-campaign-4891

None of this should really need to be said. There is ample evidence enough on Mike’s own website. But this isn’t about history or attacking real, genuine anti-Semitism. The character of the accused show this. Red Ken has been accused, yet Ken Livingstone’s administration when he was head of the GLC was reviled by the Tory press and media because of its firm stance against all forms of prejudice, including racism. I’ve put up pieces from his book, Livingstone’s Labour, in which Marxist-Leninist Newt Fancier clearly condemns racism, including anti-Semitism, and attacks the post-War US and British authorities for dropping charges and actively recruiting Nazi war criminals in the Cold War campaign against Communism. Jackie Walker, one of the others accused, is of mixed Black and Jewish heritage. Her mother was a Black civil rights activist thrown out of America for campaigning against the oppression of Black Americans. Her father was a Russian Jew, who would therefore have been well acquainted with real, brutal anti-Semitism. She herself actively campaigns against racism, and her partner is also Jewish. As for Naz Shah, she has the support of her local synagogue. The real crime of the above it isn’t anti-Semitism; it’s simply that they dared to criticise Israel for its barbarous oppression of the Palestinians.

This is about the Israel lobby trying to deflect criticism and international outrage against its occupation of the West Bank, its bombardment of Gaza and its seventy year long project of expelling the indigenous Palestinians from their ancestral homes. And those who criticise this policy in America have also been accused of anti-Semitism, even when they manifestly are not. Like former President Jimmy Carter, and the head of Obama’s Jewish Outreach Campaign. This lady was not only Jewish, but she was also a very active part of her community. It didn’t matter. She was still dismissed on a trumped-up charge of anti-Semitism.

Norman Finkelstein, who has done so much to document and raise awareness of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian and other Arab nations, has stated that these accusations are wearing very thin. The accusations of Holocaust denial, or moral complicity in the Holocaust, have been overused to such an extent that he says, ‘We’re all Holocausted out’. And the same is true of the allegations of anti-Semitism. Just how seriously the majority of young American Jews took it can be shown by the fact that when Carter came to debate Alan Dershowitz at Brandeis University, the largest secular Jewish uni in the US of A, Carter got 3 or 4 standing ovations from the students before he even spoke. And when it was Dershowitz’s time to speak, 2/3 of them walked out before he had opened his Neo-Con gob.

So those making the accusations are becoming increasingly isolated and impotent. Hence the shrill accusations and petulant foot-stamping.

Now let’s go through some of the issues raised in Mike’s argument with Porky Scratchings. Firstly, Mike is entirely right that it is not anti-Semitic, or indeed prejudiced generally, to use facts and historical truth. For example, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious forgery produced by the Tsar’s secret police, are anti-Semitic because it’s an enormous lie, produced with the object of provoking hatred. The Protocols purports to be the notes of a secret meeting of Jewish leaders discussing their plans for world domination and the enslavement of Gentiles. No such meeting took place, or has ever taken place. The Protocols were written by the Tsarist Okhrana to drum up support for their persecution of the Jews in Russia.

It was not anti-Semitic to point out that in 1995, the Republican Party in America and Israel’s Likud party jointly produced a plan for the invasion of Iraq, an illegal invasion that was eventually carried out by George Dubya, and which 70 per cent of Jewish Americans under 35 oppose.

It is similarly not anti-Semitic to compare the enslavement of Black Africans, the Holocaust and the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians, as Jackie Walker did. These were all terrible crimes against humanity, which were and are all too real.

Now there’s the matter of the subjective nature of Porky Scratching’s argument about what constitutes anti-Semitism. Porky Scratchings states that it’s only prejudice, if the offended person believes it is. He cites the example of a female victim of sexual harassment. If the woman was offended, then it’s sexual harassment. But this flies in the face of accepted standards of truth and justice. These are notions which depend on objectivity. Just because someone is offended by something, doesn’t mean that it’s a case of prejudice or injustice to mention it.

To give another example, much of the bitter hostility towards Britain in Iran is due to our maltreatment of the country during imperialism, our domination of their oil industry – it was completely owned by us as British-Persian Oil, and our toppling of Mossadeq, the Iranian Prime Minister, in 1957 when he nationalised it. Now the chants of ‘Death to Britain’ by the Mullah’s legions is clearly anti-British. However, it would not be anti-British for a delegate from the Islamic Republic to discuss Britain’s exploitation and abuse of his country and its people if this once again became an issue, such as perhaps an unfair trade deal. Or if he were trying to explain to a Western audience just why the Islamic Republic will not allow westerners to own its industries.

Under Tony Blair, New Labour passed a number of laws further defining and outlawing hate speech. This was criticised by the Conservatives in this country, just as the Republicans attack similar legislation in America, partly on the grounds that it left too much to the perception of the offended party. If somebody believed they had been the victim of a racial slur, they were, even when they weren’t.

One of the victims of such an attitude was a Black White House aid under Obama. He worked for the US Treasury, and was accused of racist abuse by another Black government official because of a remark during a discussion about funding. The budget for some aspect of US state spending was considered too parsimonious by the man’s accuser. The man responded by saying, ‘No, I’m not being too niggardly.’ He was then prosecuted for using a racial slur. But he hadn’t. ‘Niggard’ comes from the Middle English term, nig, which simply means a miser. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ‘N’ word.

Or consider the case of the exasperated Jewish student, who was sued for racial harassment by a group of Black sorority girls at his university. This poor fellow had been revising ready for an exam the following day. Unfortunately, the sorority girls were just outside his window. They were loudly celebrating something, and he couldn’t concentrate. So he lost his patience with them, and shouted out, ‘Shut up, you water buffalo!’ So they sued him for racial abuse. Members of the academic staff solemnly stood up at what was basically his trial, to testify that the water buffalo was an African animal, and so the Jewish guy must have been prejudiced. Water buffalo ain’t. They come from Indonesia. At the time this case was reported in the Financial Times, the maligned student was trying to defend himself by saying that ‘water buffalo’ was his translation of the Hebrew behema, ‘beast’, which has no racial connotation.

So you see how dangerous it is to use definitions of abuse and prejudice, based simply on perception and feeling, rather than actual fact.

Finally, Mike states that Porky Scratching’s double standards on the issue of anti-Semitism – it’s anti-Semitic only if Jews say it is, whatever gentiles believe – shows that Porky Scratchings is himself bigoted against gentiles. In this case, Porky Scratchings has by his behaviour tried undermine something Jews have been trying to dispel as part of their campaign for emancipation and freedom to participate in their country’s national life as fellow citizens. In the 1920s at least some synagogues in Germany dropped one of the lines in the service, as it was feared this gave the impression that Jews believed they were superior to them. They did not wish to give any support whatsoever to anti-Semitic impressions and misperceptions.

Mike isn’t an anti-Semite by any measure. But I think he’s right about Porky Scratchings’ own bigoted views. And it’s a disgrace that Porky Scratchings holds them, after so many people, Jews and Gentiles, have struggled for so long against bigotry and prejudice.

The Break-Up of American Zionism and the Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 28, 2016

I’m aware that I’m in serious risk of doing this subject to death, but this needs to be said. I’ve put up several blogs featuring the videos of talks and interviews given by Israeli and American Jewish activists and historians – Ilan Pappe, Elizabeth Baltzer and Norman Finkelstein, laying bare the terrible history of Israel’s persecution and systematic ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population. As I’ve repeatedly said, this is because of the smears against leading figures in the Labour party that they are anti-Semites, when they are nothing of the sort, and demonstrably nothing of the sort. Ken Leninspart, when he was leader of the GLC, was notorious and reviled for his anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia stance. And if you want to read what he has to say about anti-Semitism, it’s written down in his book, Livingstone’s Labour. He decries it as one of the worst forms of reaction, along with all other forms of racism, whether it be against Blacks, Jews and Irish. Naz Shah has the backing of her local synagogue. And Jackie Walker is the daughter of a Russian Jew and Black civil rights activist, deported from America as one of the ‘Reds under the Bed’ McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover were so scared of. Her other half is also Jewish. It’s truly grotesque that she should be slandered as an anti-Semite when it is clearly not the case.

Jimmy Carter

These slanders have not been confined to Britain. They were made against the Jewish Outreach Officer of one of the Democratic presidential candidates. The lady was forced to resign, despite the fact that she was not only Jewish, but a very active member of her community dedicated to their welfare. They even tried it on with Jimmy Carter, who was just about called everything bar a card-carrying member of the American Nazi party and supporter of Stormfront. Again, dead wrong. I can remember way back in the 1970s when old peanut teeth hosted the Camp David peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt. In his own state, he was instrumental in removing the colour bar and segregation laws against people of colour. He is not, and never has been an anti-Semite or a Nazi, whatever his failings as president were. And he certainly doesn’t have the sheer amount of blood on his hands that his successor, Reagan, had through his sponsorship of real Fascists in South and Central America.

And Carter showed that he wasn’t afraid to prove he was innocent of all charges, guv. He went in front of the students at Brandeis University, the biggest secular Jewish university in the US to debate one of the author of the smears, Alan Dershowitz. He got three or four standing ovations simply for appearing on stage. And when it came to Dershowitz’s time to speak, 2/3 of the audience walked out even before the old Neo-Con warmonger had opened his mouth.

Jewish Americans Liberal

American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal. Most of them want a two-state solution – for the Palestinians to have their own state. By and large they despise George Dubya Bush and 70 per cent of them are opposed to the war in Iraq. And despite the move of the majority of Israeli voters to the right, Ilan Pappe stated in his video that Israelis were decent people. He stated that going around, talking to people, especially small businessmen and farmers, who knew what it was like to have to struggle to make something for yourself, won people over to the Palestinian cause.

Livingstone, Shah and Walker Historically Correct

Nothing Leninspart, Shah or Walker said should be remotely interpreted as racist. Red Ken was factually correct: Hitler did briefly support Zionism and the emigration or deportation of the Jews to Israel. Walker was smeared because she compared the treatment of Black Africans under slavery to the Holocaust, and the persecution of the Palestinians in Israel. Now, I can understand historians picking at this to see if they really are equivalent. Africans were captured and worked to death simply as instruments of labour, rather than because there was a conscious desire to exterminate Black Africans, as in the Holocaust. Though against that was the gradual erection of the whole intellectual edifice trying to justify their enslavement as racially inferior, just as the Nazis used twisted biological theory to justify their extermination of the Jews. It’s reasonable for historians and political scholars to debate the similarities and dissimilarities between them. But I don’t think many genuine scholars, certainly not of the slave trade or the Holocaust, would dispute that these are terrible crimes against humanity. And the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians should be no different. There is a real debate on the legal definitions of genocide, because there are so many of them. So many, in fact, that I’ve heard an academic of the subject state that these definitions should be dropped simply in favour of ordinary, common sense. When states, or their majority populations start persecuting an ethnic group or trying to suppress their identity through force, then it’s genocide.

What also comes out is that the views of Livingstone et al by and large are supported by historical scholarship, including those of mainstream historians. Finkelstein states that there’s little difference between Israeli school textbooks and dissident, left-wing scholars on the origins of Israel. It is known that Israel had a programme of ethnic cleansing from the very first. It is incontrovertible that Israel is engaged in mass torture and human rights violations. And Finkelstein himself states that it is the Israelis, not the Palestinians, who consistently failed to ‘give piece a chance’ in the words of Lennon and Ono.

Denial of Palestinian’s History ‘Historicide’

As for the view produced by the historian, Peters, that there were no Arabs until the Jews settled in Israel, bringing development and jobs, this has been comprehensively disproven. Finkelstein or Pappe, I can’t remember which, describe it as ‘historicide’, the deliberate destruction of a people’s historical reality.

Jewish and Israeli Opposition to Persecution of Palestinians

There is absolutely no question that the facts are on the side of the accused. And I honestly believe that if Leninspart, Shah and certainly Walker were given the chance to rebut their enemies in debate at a university, they would do so in the same way Carter and his supporters vociferously routed Dershowitz. 72 per cent of British Jews say that Israel is important to them, compared to only 50 per cent of American Jews under 35. But that does not mean that British Jews do not want to see an end to their country’s persecution of the Palestinians. There are Jewish organisations in Israel helping the Palestinians defend their homes, families and livelihoods. You can find pictures of Orthodox rabbis in the long, black coats and broad-brimmed hats, forming cordons and lying down in front of bulldozers. University anti-racism and Palestinian solidarity groups have invited members of these organisations to speak. It would surprise me not one whit if many of those Brits reaching out to Palestine were Jews, and active members of their universities’ Jewsocs.

Political Motives behind Accusations

This isn’t about historical truth, however. This is about the Israel lobby trying to derail any criticism of the state and its persecution of the indigenous Arabs with accusations of anti-Semitism. It’s about the Blairites trying to hang on to power in Labour party by playing the race card against Jeremy Corbyn. But those accused have no real case against them. In any just court of law, they would be declared innocent, with damages found against their accusers.

Libel and Establishment Lies and Smears

Unfortunately, when it comes to libel, there is no justice in Britain. You are guilty until proven rich. And the accusations suit the British establishment very well. The Tories love it, because it harms Labour. And the Beeb’s Newsnight programme with Evan Davis uncritically swallowed all the guff from the guests that Labour had an ‘anti-Semitism problem’. One of the guests on RT’s Going Underground, with Afshid Rattansi, stated that the smears looked like the establishment coup against a leftwing British prime minister, as described in the novel and Channel 4 TV series, A Very British Coup. Listening to Finkelstein, I think that’s entirely plausible. There were smears by the establishment against Harold Wilson, which accused him of being a Communist spy. Many of them seemed to come from MI5. Finkelstein states that American funds Israel far and beyond the amount it gives to other nations, because it sees it as defending its interests in the Middle East.

Britain and America Supporting Israel to Retain Power in Region

I believe that this, or something like it, explains the British establishment’s attitude to the allegations. I can remember reading years ago a discussion on a right-wing American website about Israel, the Arabs and Britain under the Mandate. The site took the bog-standard right-wing American view that Brits must be anti-Semites, ’cause all Europeans hate Jews, as shown by the Holocaust and the increasingly secular nature of European society. The participants in the debate argued that the British deliberately set the Jews and Arabs at each other’s throats in order to maintain their control over the region. They quote the correspondence between one of the British officers involved in the Mandate, on this point. The quote was merely his own conclusion after studying the situation, and did not conclusively prove that it was so. They also quoted other correspondence, in which one British politician accused another wishing to establish a Jewish presence in the region as a kind of outpost of British influence, similar to Protestant Belfast amidst Roman Catholic Ireland.

It would not surprise me if something like that were the case. It may simply be that Britain gives unconditional support to Israel, because the Americans also give Israel their unconditional, or nearly unconditional support, in order to retain influence in the region. And since we declined as a world power, we’ve been acting as the American Empire’s junior partner and lickspittle. One former British ambassador to the US even went on Radio 4 and said that he was told by the Mandarins in London that his job was to go to Washington and ‘get up the American’s arse and stay there’.

The Beeb is the voice of the British establishment. It’s news programmes consistently support the Conservatives and industry, especially finance industry, against Labour and the trade unions. The establishment undoubtedly identifies British interests with those of Israel, though Robin Ramsey, the editor of Lobster, has said that the Beeb ties itself in knots trying to deny that it is pro-Zionist. So it is, unfortunately, a foregone conclusion that the Beeb and the establishment won’t give the accused a fair hearing. Not if there’s even more millions to be made from another bloody war.

Fighting Back against the Lies

Which doesn’t mean that the accused can’t win. The mainstream American media is also very staunchly pro-Israel and rabidly demonises the Arabs and the Muslim world. Despite this, in the polls Israel is just one point more popular amongst Americans than Iran. And you consider the massive negative campaign and image of that country in American media. The Israel Lobby – AIPAC and the leadership of J Street in America, the Labour Friends of Israel and BICOM over here, know that they’re losing the public’s hearts and minds. Hence the smears. I think the best course would be for Livingstone, Shah and Walker to stand up to them, call them out on their lies. Don’t expect any honesty from the press, ’cause that went long ago. But do it in the court of popular opinion – at public meetings, university seminars and talks, at literary events. Adam Shatz, of the London Review of Books, introduced Finkelstein and Baltzer when they spoke in New York. Perhaps the LRB can be relied on to give an unbiased platform. They should, at least regarding Jackie Walker. I can remember way back in the 1990s they published a piece on slavery at the time it was once again coming back into national consciousness. The treatment of Black people, and their abuse and discrimination, is of obvious acute interest to Jackie Walker, and so I think that more than some of the other media, they could be more inclined to give a sympathetic hearing.

This ain’t just about defending a group of accused Labour MPs. This is also about defending free speech and historical scholarship against the personal smears and gross historical distortions of a mendacious and deceitful establishment. An establishment that is prepared to grind down and destroy Jews, as well as Muslims, Christians, and those with no religion, in its campaign to preserve a monstrously racist order.

Norman Finkelstein on the Coming Break-Up of American Zionism: Part 1

May 28, 2016

I’ve put up several videos recently criticising Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and examining the growing disconnection – ‘distancing’, in the jargon of the sociologists who’ve studied it – of young American Jews with Israel. The speakers in these videos have included the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, and the American historians and activists Norman Finkelstein and Elizabeth Baltzer, both of whom are descended from Holocaust survivors. As I’ve made clear in previous posts, I’ve been prompted to do this because of the smears against leading members of the Labour party – Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah and Jackie Walker, amongst others, of anti-Semitism. Those accused are not to my knowledge anti-Semites. The above three certainly aren’t. Leninspart in his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, states quite clearly that all forms of racism, whether against Blacks, Jews or the Irish, is the worst form of reaction, and needs to be opposed. Naz Shah has the support of her local synagogue, which would be highly unusual if she were a Nazi. And the accusation is both risible and disgusting in the case of Jackie Walker. Walker’s mother was a Black woman, who was thrown out of America because of her participation in the civil rights movement. Her father was a Russian Jew, and her partner is also Jewish. These people haven’t been accused of anti-Semitism because they are Jew-haters. They’ve been accused of anti-Semitism simply because they’ve criticised Israel for its persecution of the Palestinians. Walker was accused because she compared Black slavery to the Holocaust in a conversation with two friends, one of whom was also Jewish, on Facebook. This comment was lifted and turned against her by a pro-Israel group.

One of the things than comes out very clearly from this talk by Prof Finkelstein is that in America such accusations are wearing very thin. They don’t impress large numbers of American Jews, who can see through all the BS when it’s applied to genuinely liberal, decent politicians. An example of this is Jimmy Carter. Carter was accused of being an anti-Semite because he wrote a book about Israel with ‘Apartheid’ in the title. So the leading members of the Israel lobby, like Alan Dershowitz, began to smear him in the vilest terms imaginable. He was an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, and a supporter of terrorism. It was the kind of invective Stalin’s prosecutor, Vyshinsky, used against the victims of the purges during the show trials. Carter, who organised the Camp David peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt in the 1970s, then decided to take the battle to the Neo-Cons. He arranged a debate with Dershowitz at Brandeis University, the largest secular Jewish university in the US. Carter described it as ‘going into the lion’s den’. Even before he opened his mouth to speak, he received 3 or 4 standing ovations from the students. When it came to Dershowitz to talk, 2/3 of the students left the lecture hall before Israel’s most vocal defender in the US had even uttered a word.

And there’s more, much more. American Jews are, by and large, very liberal. American liberalism – the rule of law, the separation between church and state and so on, has allowed American Jews to prosper. As a result, the political affiliation of American Jews is almost the complete mirror image of that of Israelis. The majority of Israelis are now right-wing in the political leanings. American Jews are largely left. They also want a two-state solution to the problem of Palestine. And they are also largely opposed to the Iraq invasion. Finkelstein makes the point that American Jews were largely uninterested or opposed to the foundation of Israel, because they were afraid that it would lead to the accusation that they were more loyal to the new Jewish state than they were to their homeland of America. They seem fear of being seen as somehow treacherous, as less than patriotic, as well as other, liberal feelings and attitudes, has led them to reject both George Bush and the war in Iraq. The Israelis by and large love George Dubya. American Jews generally despise the Smirking Chimp. And 70 per cent of American Jews are opposed to the war in Iraq. This is partly out of a desire not to be seen as its authors, as the war was planned by the Republicans in America, and Israel’s Likud party.

Finkelstein also states that Americans, including American Jews, are becoming increasingly less impressed with evocations of the Holocaust. It’s been overused so much that it’s actually lost its proper emotional impact. Finkelstein discussed how rhetoric about the Holocaust was used by Netanyahu and the Israeli government to drum up support for a war with Iran over the country’s nuclear weapon’s development programme. Netanyahu repeatedly described Ahmedinijad as Hitler, and said that if the Iranians developed these weapons, it would lead to a new Holocaust in the Middle East with the destruction of Israel. Those trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Iranians were denounced as appeasers, and compared to Neville Chamberlain at Munich. And the attitude of American Jews to this was marked indifference. In a survey of Jewish Americans under 35, it was found that fifty per cent said it would not affect them if Israel was destroyed. Finkelstein himself says he is somewhat dismayed by this figure, as the destruction of any country or culture saddens him. And American Jews tend to share the rest of the world’s fears, as expressed in opinion polls, that Israel is the real threat to world peace.

Finkelstein begins his talk by discussing how American Jews were extremely uninterested in Israel in the period from 1948 – it’s foundation – to the 1967 War. He states that this was a period in which the barriers to Jewish advancement in America suddenly came down. Many institutions before 1948 would not employ Jewish scholars. He quotes Noam Chomsky as saying that the reason why MIT became such a centre of scientific excellence over Harvard, was because Harvard would not take Jewish scientists and mathematicians. So they all trooped down the road to take up positions there. As the barrier fells, Jews became far more involved in making successful lives, and living the America dream.

As a result of this, they had extremely little interest in Israel. Finkelstein quotes the great American sociologist, Glazer, whose 1957 study of the attitude of American Jews and Jewish life found that the impact of Israel on American Jewry was remarkable slight. He also discusses a survey of 30 leading American Jewish intellectuals at an academic symposium, who were asked about the situation of American Jews. Only three of them even mentioned Israel, and of those three, two only did so in order to dismiss it as of any importance. He also quotes an interview in Israel with the celebrated author, Elie Wiesel. At the time there was a fear that Jews were becoming too assimilated, and Wiesel was asked how Jews could be made to reconnect with their Jewishness. Wiesel talked about the Holocaust and the situation of the Jews in Russia. But he did not see Israel as having any use in this process.

Norman Finkelstein and Elizabeth Baltzer on Young American Jews Rejecting Zionism: Part 1

May 27, 2016

This is as another video, which has some indirect relevance to the accusations of anti-Semitism against leading members of the Labour party – Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah and Jackie Walker. None of these are anti-Semites, and all of them have taken a strong part in anti-racist activism. Jackie Walker’s mother was a Black civil rights activist, who was deported from America for her protests against the official maltreatment of Black Americans. Her father was a Russian Jew, and her partner is Jewish. These allegations have nothing to do with anti-Semitism. They are about the Israel lobby attempting to deflect criticism of its oppression of the Palestinians by attacking its critics as anti-Semites, even when they most obviously are not. Coupled with this is the attempt by the Blairite faction in the Labour party, Progress, to hang on to power by smearing their opponents.

Yesterday I put up a post and a video by the Israeli critic of his country’s abuse and massacre of the Palestinians, Ilan Pappe. Dr Pappe is certainly not along amongst Jewish critics of Zionism and its persecution of the indigenous Arabs. A number of people , who were either Jews or of Jewish heritage, commented on an earlier piece in this blog, that they did not support Israel’s horrendous policies. This video is of a talk given by two more of the leading American Jewish critics of Zionism, Norman Finkelstein and Elizabeth Baltzer, introduced and moderated by Adam Shatz, of the London Review of Books. I think its from a literary festival in New York, and both Finkelstein and Baltzer have written a number of books about Israel and the Palestinians. They’re both activists, and Baltzer has spoken at various social, religious and political gatherings, including synagogues and churches. In this video, they talk about the growing abandonment of Zionism by young American Jews. The event consists of first a talk by Dr Finkelstein, followed by Madam Baltzer, and then a longer session where they respond to written questions from the audience.

Finkelstein in his talk describes how for a very long time Jewish identity was not automatically bound up with Zionism, and many Jews were either hostile or indifferent to the idea. The initial Jewish settlers were few. Most Jews wished to stay in their homelands in Europe. Many were opposed to the foundation of a Jewish state, as they feared that this would revive the suspicion that they had dual loyalties. Dr Finkelstein doesn’t mention it, but this was very much the case when Balfour’s Cabinet announced that it would support the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. The ‘Balfour Declaration’ was opposed by Samuel Montague, the only Jewish member of the Cabinet, because he feared that British Jews would be seen as less than British, with their loyalties ultimately more towards the new Jewish state. Montague was backed in his campaign against the decision by 75 of the leading British Jewish families.

Finkelstein continues, and states that even after the foundation of Israel, many Jews remained sceptical and hostile. He notes that Commentary, the main Jewish magazine in America, frequently ran articles by some of the now most zealous supporters of Israel, criticising it for the maltreatment of the Palestinians. This opposition changed after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and the defeat of the Arab armies. Israel then became imbued with the same sense of spiritual election and special destiny that informs the American self-image – ‘a shining city on a hill’, ‘a light to guide the Nations’. However, support for Israel by American Jews is by no means unconditional, especially amongst the young. Jewish American politicians, when given a choice between what will benefit Israel as against America, have consistently chosen America. And Israel increasingly plays little part in the self-identity of the younger generation, who increasingly see themselves as American with little connection to Israel.

Baltzer provides more information on young Jewish Americans rejection of Zionism, and their opposition to the continued abuse and maltreatment of the Palestinians. She discusses the dwindling membership of the Zionist organisations. The chapter in her home in Sonoma in California claims to be thriving, but won’t give the number of synagogues that are affiliated to it. On the other side, she lists a plethora of Jewish groups and organisations devoted to defending the Palestinians. These include such groups of as Young, Jewish and Proud. Baltzer, however, makes the point that ultimately it isn’t about Jews speaking on behalf of the Palestinians. They have their own voice, and it is they who truly deserve to be heard. She notes that some people feel that they somehow need Jewish permission before they support the Palestinians. She makes the excellent point that nobody should need permission, of Jews or anyone else, to listen to the Palestinian people and support them.

I am actually very glad she made this point, as I’ve refrained from blogging about this issue previously as I don’t want to appear anti-Semitic, nor give any succour to the genuine anti-Semites, who are trying to ride on the coat-tails of principled anti-racist opposition to persecution of the Palestinians. It is, paradoxically, good to hear a Jewish voice stating that you shouldn’t need Jewish permission to support the Palestinians, from the perspective that it is understood that the people she’s addressing aren’t anti-Semites.

Despite having the same ultimate gaols, Finkelstein and Baltzer have differences over tactics, and the form the emancipation of the Palestinians could take. One of these differences is over language. Finkelstein does not think that opponents of Israeli policy should use the term Zionism. Most people don’t understand it, and the gaols of the pro-Palestinian movement can be better expressed simply using plain language. These means just stating that you’re opposed to the occupation of the West Bank, or the inferior status of the Palestinians in Israel, the seizure and destruction of their farms, homes and property by the Israeli state.

He also makes the point that if the term ‘Zionism’ is used, their opponents will seize on it to make the worst claim they can about the person using it – that he or she is actively seeking the destruction of Israel, because of the ambiguity about the term’s meaning. They will also use it to try to divert the argument into one about Jewish identity – whether the Jews are a race, religion or people, or perhaps all three. The argument isn’t about Jewish identity. It’s about the appalling way Israel treats the Palestinians.

Baltzer, on the other hand takes the view that there is some good in a limited use of the term within certain contexts.