Posts Tagged ‘Soldiers’

Steve Bell Cartoon in Guardian Spiked for Supposed ‘Anti-Semitism’

June 8, 2018

More fake accusations of anti-Semitism by the Israel lobby to censor criticism of their barbarous treatment of the Palestinians. Yesterday Mike put up a piece reporting that Guardian editor Kath Viner had spiked a Cartoon by Steve Bell commenting on the shooting of the Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar. This showed May and Netanyahu having a cosy chat around the fireplace, in which al-Najjar is burning. The cartoon was intended to show the complete indifference to al-Najjar’s murder by the IDF. But Kath Viner decided it was anti-Semitic, because she thought it compared the actions of modern Jews to those of the Nazis in the Holocaust. Bell himself strongly rejects any such comparison, and wrote to her in an email, saying

“I cannot for the life of me begin to understand criticism of the cartoon that begins by dragging in ‘wood-burning stoves’, ‘ovens’, ‘holocaust’, or any other nazi-related nonsense.

“That was the last thing on my mind when I drew it, I had no intention of conflating the issues of the mass murder of European Jews and Gaza.

“It’s a fireplace, in front of which VIP visitors to Downing Street are always pictured… and the figure of Razan al-Najjar is burning in the grate. It’s a widely known photograph of her, becoming iconic across the Arab world and the burning is of course symbolic. She’s dead, she was shot and killed by the IDF while doing her job as a medic.”

He said he suspected “the reason that you did not get in touch was because you did not really have an argument. The cartoon is sensitive, not tasteless, not disrespectful, and certainly contains no anti-Semitic tropes.”

Mike makes the point here that the people making the accusation of anti-Semitism see what they want to see. They expect to see anti-Semitism, and so they see anti-Semitism. And so they ignore issues of authorial intent, context and commonsense.

Mike makes the point that it is not anti-Semitic to point out that an unarmed medic was murdered by an Israeli soldier, nor anti-Semitic to point out that Britain’s own response to the murder has been lukewarm. He goes on to say it is not anti-Semitic to question whether this lack of an appropriately strong response is due to the immense amount of trade Britain does with Israel, or whether the arms we sold them were used in her killing. He goes on to conclude that if the author’s intent is ignored in the interpretation of the image, then it’s the wrong interpretation.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/06/07/guardian-cartoonist-steve-bell-accused-of-anti-semitism-over-razan-al-najjar-image/

I’m not surprised that Bell has been censored because of this cartoon. The Israel lobby regularly responds to criticism of the barbarism it metes out the Palestinians with accusations of anti-Semitism, including cartoons. A few years ago, Mark Regev, the noxious, lying Israeli ambassador, sent an angry letter to the I attacking a cartoon by Gerald Scarfe about the construction of the anti-Palestinian wall as ‘anti-Semitic’. Why? The cartoon showed Netanyahu building the wall using the blood of murdered Palestinians as mortar. He decided that this was anti-Semitic because it referred to the ‘Blood Libel’, the vile anti-Semitic myth that Jews murder Christians and use their blood to make the matzo bread eaten at Passover. The cartoon did nothing of the sort, but nevertheless, the I caved and issued an apology.

And last week a German cartoonist was accused of anti-Semitism and sacked for the alleged anti-Semitism of his caricature of Netanyahu. Klein, the minister or civil servant responsible for rooting out anti-Semitism, decided that this was anti-Semitic because it exaggerated Netanyahu’s nose and lips, just like the caricatures of the Jews produced by the Nazis and other anti-Semites. It’s a highly debatable point. caricaturists work by exaggerating features, including, and often particularly, the nose and lips. Germany has been very pro-Israel since the end of the Second World War, partly out of guilt for the Holocaust, and Jews are actually treated very well there. So much so that it’s a favoured destination for young Israelis to go on holiday. a few weeks ago I found an article published in Counterpunch by a radical, anti-racist German journo, which followed the Israeli embassy in Germany in equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Which is what the real issue is here: suppressing criticism of Israel.

As for Bell’s cartoon, he is certainly not alone in depicting political figures holding their talks around the fireside. in the 1980s, the games comic Diceman ran one game story in which the reader played Ronald Reagan, desperate to save the world from nuclear war. One scene showed him and Gorbachev holding talks around a blazing fire. As Reagan droned on, Gorby dozed, and the artist, Hunt Emerson, had great fun drawing all kinds of figures in the fire. At one point the flames made little KKK figures, who joined hands and danced. I’m afraid I can’t put my hands on the issue at the moment, otherwise I’d put up the image, but it’s around here somewhere. There is nothing as strong as that in Bell’s cartoon.

And the Guardian has always, like other newspapers, been under pressure to spike any reports of Israeli atrocities. Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of the Guardian, described in the Channel 4 Despatches documentary on the power of the Israel lobby, how after accurately reporting them, he would be visited by someone from the Israel lobby or the Board of Deputies of British Jews, complete with their pet lawyer, who would rant and rave about how such reports were anti-Semitic. After his reporting of the Gaza bombardment, the two visitors claimed that the newspaper’s accounts were anti-Semitic, because they would encourage people to attack Jews in the street. Which didn’t happen.

Since then, the newspaper has been the conduit for the Israel lobby’s propaganda. For example, they once ran an article by Steve Pollard of the libel organisation the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which claimed that the far-right, anti-immigrant president of Poland couldn’t be anti-Semitic, because ‘he was a good friend of Israel’. Well, the Israelis have all kinds of ‘good friends’ who are Fascists and anti-Semites. They’ve welcomed Alt-Right leader Steve Bannon to one of their military jamborees, and had Richard Spencer, the founder of the Alt-Right, on their television. Why? Spencer describes himself as a ‘White Zionist’, who admires Israel as the kind of racially pure ethnostate he’d like America to become, but for Whites only. Tony Greenstein was so angered by the Groan’s switch from objective reporting to servile pro-Israel commentary, that he wrote Viner or her subordinates a letter of complaint.

This isn’t about real anti-Semitism in the press. This is about censoring criticism of Israel, using the horrific suffering of Jews in the Holocaust as a pretext. It’s a disgusting desecration of their memory as well as a gross libel on the cartoonists. Viner, Klein and Regev should be ashamed.

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Vox Political: Shami Chakrabarti Wants to Convict Livingstone Without Evidence. Perhaps She Should Step Down?

May 16, 2018

On Sunday, Mike posted up a piece commenting on Shami Chakrabarti’s statement on the Beeb’s Sunday Politics that she did not believe that there was any reason for Livingstone to remain in the Labour party. Chakrabarti is the Labour party’s Shadow Attorney General, and the author of the report into racism and anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Livingstone was accused a year or so ago of bringing the Labour party into dispute by making entirely accurate statements about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis initially cooperating with the Zionists to send German Jews to Palestine. The Nazis even sent one of their members to the nascent Jewish settlements, and struck a medal in commemoration.

There is no question that this is all historical fact. The brief period of cooperation between the Nazis and Zionists is called the Haavara Agreement, and is documented on the website of the international Holocaust museum in Israel. Tony Greenstein, another Labour member falsely accused of anti-Semitism and expelled, has provided extensive documentation of it on his site, including reproduction of the Zionist newspapers, like the Judischer Rundschau, which heartily supported the Nazi regime and urged Jewish Germans to ‘wear their yellow stars with pride’.

Mike states in his article that Livingstone has made several dubious statements about the relationship between the Nazis and Zionists since then, but these are not what Chakrabarti is referring to. He also states that as a lawyer, Chakrabarti should know that under British law, you are innocent until proven guilty. Livingstone has not been tried yet. His case is due to be examined in three month’s time.

According to the Groaniad’s article, Chakrabarti went on to say

“she would have to “look at the rationale” before deciding how to respond, when asked if she would step down from the frontbench, but said she found it “very difficult to see that any rational decision-maker in the light of what has happened in the last two years could find a place for Mr Livingstone in our party at this moment”.”

Mike makes the point that this is part of a wider campaign to destabilise Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party by claiming that the party has been full of anti-Semites since he took over its leadership. This is entirely false. Corbyn is not an anti-Semite, and neither are very many of the people, who’ve been accused of it. Many of them are decent people, who are sincerely anti-racist. As I’ve pointed out over and over again, very many of the victims of these smears and libels are Jews, who have suffered genuine anti-Semitic abuse and assault. Even more shameful is the fact that a number of these people are the children of the very fortunate few, who managed to survive the Holocaust. This to me clearly shows how utterly wicked these libels are.

Anti-Semitism has actually fallen in the Labour party since Corbyn took power. And the real crime of the people falsely accused of it, is that they have criticised Israel or supported the Palestinians. Those making these smears are the Israel lobby and the Blairites in the Labour party. They are repeated by the Tories and the right-wing media.

Mike makes the point that it is these villains, who Chakrabarti should be demanding to be investigated, not Livingstone.

Instead, she seems to feel that Livingstone’s membership would, in Mike’s words, attract far too much criticism to the Labour party. And so she is trying to appease them.

This is profoundly and utterly wrong. You cannot appease bullies.
The expulsion of genuinely decent people from the Labour party on these trumped up charges has taught the Israel lobby and its collaborators that they can continue smearing people with impunity. Throwing Livingstone to them will only serve as further proof that their vile tactics are successful, and that they can continue until Corbyn himself is removed, or left without significant allies.

It is also extremely dangerous to real history, as it shows that politicians can rewrite it completely and erase embarrassing episodes that nevertheless happened. Just like the Nazis try to deny the Holocaust, because it brings shame and hatred upon them, the Israeli state has been trying to suppress the truth of their own massacre, persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. They attempt to suppress any mention of it through smearing those who do as anti-Semites. And their attempts to suppress the reality of the Israeli state’s persecution of the Palestinians also has real consequences. It’s how the Israeli state and its soldiers believe they can get away with the mass murder of Palestinian protesters yesterday with only the flimsiest of excuses: that they were put up to it by Hamas, and are a militant terrorist threat to Israel. The Israel lobby, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and Labour Friends of Israel believe that if they hide the evidence of the Nakba and ongoing persecution and injustice through accusations of anti-Semitism, this will lead the British public to believe their lies and propaganda spuriously justifying their continued persecution.

They have to be stopped, confronted and defeated. Those falsely smeared as anti-Semites should be readmitted to the party. Those smearing them should be investigated and tried in their turn for bringing the party into disrepute. And there should be real consequences for those outside the Labour party responsible for propagating the smears, like the Board and the CAA.

And if Shami Chakrabarti is not prepared to stand up for innocent people in this, like Red Ken, perhaps she should leave the front bench.

For Mike’s article, go to: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/13/if-chakrabarti-would-convict-livingstone-without-evidence-then-perhaps-she-should-quit-labours-front-bench/#comments

RT: Protesters Say Why They’re Against Trump’s Embassy Move to Jerusalem

May 15, 2018

Trump movement of the American embassy to Jerusalem has caused widespread protests. Palestinians in Gaza have gathered at the enclosing fence to protest. 59 of them have been killed by Israeli soldiers, and something like a further 200 injured.

In this short video from RT, the protesters state exactly why they are against the movement of the embassy. One young man says its because Jerusalem is a contested city, where 35-40 per cent of its occupants – the Palestinian Arabs – are under occupation. A young woman says that Trump is gambling with the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis, which he has no right to do. The journo then asks Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli parliamentarian, what he thinks. Tibi responds by stating that it is a licensed demonstration, but immediately it began they were attacked, he was attacked, because of the Palestinians, and they were pushed back. He states Jerusalem is occupied territory. It should be the capital of the state of Palestine. The video then shows someone pushing Tibi back, while a woman states that they have tried to arrest the head of the Palestinians in Israel. She goes on to say that they will not allow this, and goes on to insist on their right to protest.

Mike has written a superb piece about the shooting of Palestinian protesters by the Israelis, and the shameful attempts to excuse the Israeli state by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Labour Friends of Israel. He calls out the Beeb for remaining silent and not condemning this atrocity. And he puts up Tweets from ordinary people, including those whom the Board would probably describe as ‘the wrong type of Jews’, who have condemned the Israeli armed forces. He also shows footage of Israelis also protesting the move and the IDF shooting of Palestinian protesters.

Mike explains, despite the probability that the Israel lobby and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism will find this yet another reason to smear him, why Gaza can fairly be compared to a concentration camp. He talks about the Nakba, the Palestinian term for their persecution, massacre and ethnic cleansing when Israel was set up, and that the Israeli state is engaged in a campaign of genocide against them. And he cites and shows various Israeli politicians, who have not minced words and talked about the killing of Palestinians in very bloody terms. One of these is a female politico, who talks about not only killing terrorists and demolishing their homes, but also about killing their entire families. This has sparked condemnation from the people Mike follows on Twitter, which include not only Muslims like Aleesha and Nadim Ahmed, but also Jeremy Corbyn, Craig Murray, who compares the shooting of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers to the Yemeni kids killed by British bombs, as well as Tom London, Shlomo, David Clarke and the comic actor, David Schneider. A number of Labour and SNP MPs also stood outside Parliament in support of the Palestinians, though this is a mere handful compared to the larger number, who kept their mouths firmly shut.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews and Labour Friends of Israel both issued statements blaming Hamas for putting the people of Gaza and the Palestinians up to protesting, thus causing them to get shot. These are nasty, weasel words. Others, including Tony Greenstein, long ago despatched that nasty excuse for Israeli atrocities. Palestinian society is split between a number of political factions. Hamas doesn’t have the absolute totalitarian control to move 40,000 people to the fence enclosing Gaza. What is driving the Palestinians is the simple fact that this is another assault on them, their national identity and their right to their ancestral homes. The Board and LFI also took those statements down when they found they weren’t convincing anyone, but people have taken screenshots of them.

And those trying to defend Israel have also brought back the old excuse that ‘Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East’. There are two answers to this. The first is that it isn’t. Lebanon is also a democracy. It’s different from Israeli and Western democracy, in that the various sects and religions are also guaranteed particular places in their parliament, according to the size of their population in a system known as consociality, but it’s still a democracy. The other argument is that it may be democracy for the Israelis, but it isn’t for the Palestinians. Yes, there are Arab members of the Knesset, and an Arab party is represented, but the Palestinians themselves live under an oppressive system of apartheid. And it shouldn’t matter whether a country is a democracy or not, atrocities are atrocities and the state or government which commits them is just as guilty as any other.

Mike makes it also clear that he feels the reason why no-one in the media is condemning these atrocities, or worse, they’re actually giving their support, is because they’re afraid of being libelled as anti-Semites. He states that these cowed journos shame us all. Mike’s a journalist, who prizes fairness and integrity, for which he was greatly respected by the people in local government when he was a local hack.

And he’s right about this. Norman Finkelstein has said in one of his videos that the Israel lobby has been smearing the country’s critics as anti-Semites since the 1980s. In fact he called them ‘a machine for creating anti-Semites’. And years ago, when the Israeli state started bombarding Palestine, a book came out entitled The Political Uses of Anti-Semitism. It was a volume of essays highly critical of Israel, half of which were authored by Jews. I also remember that one of the people, who spoke out against that was the thesp Miriam Margolies, who said she spoke as ‘a proud Jew, and an ashamed Jew’.

Shlomo, one of peeps on Twitter Mike has reblogged, urges everyone not to believe that Jews are somehow enemies within, who support Netanyahu 100 per cent, and that Jews are as British as anyone else. Shlomo isn’t the only Jewish Brit, who feared that Israel and its actions would result in British Jews being suspected as dangerous foreigners in their own country. Samuel Montague, in his famous memorandum, objected to Balfour’s decision to back the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine for precisely this reason.

As for Jerusalem, the UN resolution that recognised Israel stated that it should be a free city. As al-Quds, it’s the third holiest city in Islam, and so its occupation by the Israelis was bound to be bitterly resented. More than that, the Israeli paper Haaretz published an article a years or so ago reporting that hostility by the Israeli inhabitants against Arab residents was increasing along with calls for them to be expelled. The reporter was appalled at this, and called for a little more tolerance.

Mike’s statement that the Israeli state’s campaign of persecution against the Palestinians is genocide may well draw the ire of people like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, but he isn’t alone in describing it as such. One of those, who includes the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians with other forms of genocide is the Israeli professor at Hebrew university in Jerusalem, who wrote a whole book entitled Genocide. This includes the Holocaust, naturally, though the Israel lobby hate anybody comparing the two. I’ve got a copy of the book on my shelf.

As for the Beeb’s silence, Lobster years ago commented that the corporation ties itself in knots trying to convince itself and others that it’s biased reporting is, in fact, impartial. Peter Oborne, in his Despatches investigation into the Israel lobby stated that off the record, many of the journalists and researchers in the Beeb’s news team complained that there was considerable pressure from management not to criticise Israel. This brings to mind the case of Danny Cohen, a very senior member of BBC management, who shot off to Israel a few years ago complaining of rising levels of anti-Semitism in Europe. Jews weren’t safe, and so should move to Israel. Which is the standard line of the Israel lobby. He’s since come back to Britain, which indicates that anti-Semitism can’t be that rife in Britain.

And then there are the geopolitical reasons, which might influence the Beeb’s culpable silence. Comparisons were made between the creation of Israel and the establishment of Northern Ireland by the Ulster Protestants, and it was suggested at the time that the British government was trying to create a little Jewish enclave amongst the Arabs in the same way that one of Ulster’s cities was a little Protestant enclave amongst the Roman Catholics. Which implies that behind this lies more British imperialism. Especially as Britain’s foreign policy in the region relies on two allies, the Israelis and the Saudis. The Beeb’s the state broadcaster, and it seems to me that it’s reporting reflects long term establishment views. And so they’re not going to be critical of the Israelis, in order to avoid alienating a valuable ally in the region.

And so, despite the horror of ordinary Brits and people across the world, the mainstream media remains silent about these atrocities.

For Mike’s brilliant analysis of the media’s silence and what’s happening, go to his post at https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/15/heres-why-people-are-afraid-to-denounce-the-genocidal-brutality-of-the-israeli-regime/

Netanyahu Rejects Liberal American Jews for Christian Zionists

December 8, 2017

Yesterday, 7th December 2017, Jonathan Cook published a very revealing piece about Netanyahu’s attitude to towards liberal American Jews in Counterpunch. The Israeli butcher is basically turning his back on them. Cook begins his piece by noting that most American Jews are politically liberal domestically. But they support Israel, and have been prepared to overlook or support the atrocities it has committed as they believed they had the right to a strong state themselves following the Holocaust. But he goes on to argue that Netanyahu’s increasing intolerance towards liberal Judaism makes this position increasingly difficult, and that they will have to confront their hypocrisy.

Much of this centres around the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the remains of Solomon’s Temple. At the moment it’s controlled by Orthodox rabbis, who do not want Reform Jews and women praying there. There was an attempt to set up a special space for them, but the Orthodox was resolutely against it and Netanyahu caved in. As a result there has been outrage amongst Jewish Americans. Avraham Infield, a liaison to the American Jewish community, told Haaretz that many Jewish Americans now believe that Israel doesn’t give a dam’ about them.

Matters have been made worse by Tzipi Hotovely, the deputy foreign minister. She criticised American Jews for not fighting in either the US or Israeli militaries. They were leading ‘convenient lives’. Cook notes that this echoes the views of Orthodox rabbis, who argue that Reform Jews aren’t real Jews, and may even be enemies of Judaism.

This has been accompanied by an increased intolerance of Israeli critics of the regime. Netanyahu’s government has for a long time denounced the Palestinian human rights group B’Tsalem and the veterans’ organisation Breaking the Silence as traitors. But now they have targeted the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which is the Israeli equivalent of the American Civil Liberties Union. According to Netanyahu, the group supports ‘terrorists’. Recent decisions by the government allow pupils to give racist answers in exams, and expand gender segregation at the universities. The government is also trying criminalise boycotting the Israeli state. There are two bills to make advocating this illegal, punishable with seven years in jail or $150,000 fine. The Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, wants stronger power to clamp down on protesters and critics, including the ability to detain without charge.

And Cook notes that for the first time, Jews are being asked at their airports what their political views are.

He also cites an article in the far-right Israeli newspaper, Makor Rishon, owned by the American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. This apparently gave Netanyahu’s reasons for turning his back on liberal American Jews. Netanyahu is convinced that the low birth rate and high rate of intermarriage amongst American Reform Jews mean that they will die out within a couple of generations. So he’s abandoned them in favour of cultivating closer ties to Orthodox Jews and Christian evangelicals.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/07/netanyahu-ditches-us-jews-for-alliance-with-christian-evangelicals-and-the-alt-right/

I am not surprised at Netanyahu’s attitude towards Reform Jews. Orthodox Judaism very much is the religion of the Israeli state. And the pronouncements of leading Jews in this country have shown their intolerance towards Reform Jews. A few years ago, the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, caused outrage when he declared that Reform Jews were ‘enemies of the faith’. There is indeed a very high rate of intermarriage amongst male secular and Reform Jews in the Diaspora. I think it’s about 80 per cent, though against that the rate of intermarriage for women is much lower. As a result, many Jews are worried that they’re people are disappearing. As for Christian Zionists, as Richard Coughlan pointed out in his video on this issue, they’re the largest Zionist group in America.

It is thus all too credible that Netanyahu is turning his back liberal, American Jews.

I don’t know whether it will force them to reconsider their support for Israel. It may well do so, as an increasing number of young Jewish Americans are coming to despise the country and the way it treats the Palestinians, even when they have been on the heritage tours organised by the Israeli authorities. This includes Jews, who have been victims of anti-Semitism. Other critics of Israel, like Norman Finkelstein, have pointed out that Israel was traditionally very peripheral to mainstream Judaism, and that by far the majority of American Jews wanted to live as equal citizens in America. They definitely did not want to go to Israel, and did not see Israel as having any potential to revive interest in their religion or community.

This all changed in the late 1960s, when Israel defeated the Arabs in the Six Day War. The American Right also seized on these victories as psychological compensation for American defeats in Vietnam. And the Neocon movement was launched by American Jewish Zionists as part of a campaign to drum up support for Israel. American support for Israel is therefore a relatively recent phenomenon.

Whatever happens, I think we can expect more screaming and shouts of anti-Semitism at Israel’s critics, including Jews, as Netanyahu’s government becomes increasingly intolerant. And this may, in turn, cause more people to turn away from supporting Israel, as they find themselves tarred as anti-Semites and supporters of terrorism simply for not being quite so enthusiastic in their support as Netanyahu demands.

Lenin’s Speech Denouncing Anti-Semitism

November 22, 2017

I found this fascinating little clip of a speech by Lenin, the founder of Soviet Communism, on Maoist Rebel News, presented by Jason Unruhe. I am very definitely not a Maoist, as I think it’s undeniable that he was one of the most murderous tyrants of the 20th century. About 60 million Chinese died in the purges and mass starvation created by the ‘Cultural Revolution’, and countless precious art treasures and other monuments from the country’s rich, ancient past, were destroyed.

Nevertheless, this piece is interesting and important as it shows how the Bolsheviks took seriously the threat of anti-Semitism, and were keen to stamp it out. Unruhe made the video in response to an appearance by Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars on Mark Levin’s radio show. Harrison owns the pawn shop featured in the show. It’s an American programme, but it’s also shown over here on one of the satellite/cable channels. I tried watching it once, when it was on the History Channel, in the vague hope that it might actually be interesting. It wasn’t. The programme largely consisted of the crew musing over various artifacts – in this case, a couple of pistols left over from the Old West – and speculating about how much they were worth. It reminded me a little of the Beeb’s antiques’ programmes, with the exception that the people looking at the antiques didn’t actually seem to know very much about them, apart from the very basics.

On Levin’s show, Harrison went off and laid into Barack Obama. Obama was ‘anti-business’ and blamed the Jews and intelligentsia for everything, just like Lenin. Well, no. Barack Obama is not at all like Lenin. Barack Obama is very definitely not ‘anti-business’, even remotely. As the Jimmy Dore Show and other alternative news shows have pointed out, ad nauseam, Obama is a bog-standard corporatist politician. He tried to privatise the public schools by turning them into Charter Schools, the American equivalent of British academy schools. Even Obamacare is private enterprise. It was originally dreamed up by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and promoted by Newt Gingrich, an arch-Republican. The last time I looked, America was still very much a private enterprise economy. Obama has even said that he considers himself to be a ‘moderate Republican’.

But such accusations are almost par for the course for the bonkers end of the Republican party. There have even been right-wing Christian radio hosts declaring that he was a mass-murderer, who was secretly planning to kill even more people than Mao and Stalin. And this is apart from all the hysterical screaming that he was a Communist-Nazi-crypto-Islamist terrorist intent on bringing about the fall of America and western civilisation.

He also spent eight years in power, and has now departed. Nobody was assassinated, or rounded up in cattle trucks to be deported to death camps. Or incarcerated in FEMA, which would be the modern equivalent, if you believe Alex Jones. But the rhetoric shows the sheer, blind hysteria that gripped some of these maniacs whenever Obama was mentioned.

Unruhe points out that it is factually incorrect that Lenin blamed the Jews for the problems of the nascent Soviet Union. He states that the Soviet leader spent a year touring the former Russian Empire, denouncing anti-Semitism and Jew hatred. How is this known? Because there are recordings of him. He then plays one. It’s clearly from a gramophone recording, complete with crackles and scratches, but it is subtitled in English. My Russian really isn’t very good at all, but from what little I can catch, the translation is accurate, and it states what Lenin is actually saying.

Lenin states that it is the capitalists, the landowners and the tsars, who were trying to stir up hatred against the Jews, as a way of dividing the working people of all nations and getting them to hate each other. He states that it is a medieval, feudal superstition, that exists only when workers and peasants are kept in slavery by the landlords. He says that most Jews are workers, and therefore our brothers. He acknowledges that amongst the Jews there are capitalists, the bourgeois and kulaks, just as there are all of these amongst Russians. He states that this hatred against the Jews is being stirred up by the capitalists to divert attention away from who really is exploiting working people: capital!

He cries out several times ‘Shame upon the tsars’ for stoking hatred against the Jews, for stirring up pogroms, massacres and persecution.

Unruhe points out in his introduction to the speech that it was actually Lenin’s opponents, the tsars, who were anti-Semitic. This is solid, established fact. Nicholas II was viciously anti-Semitic himself, and believed firmly in the ‘Blood Libel’ – the poisonous myth that Jews killed Christian children and used their blood to make the matzo bread for Passover. One of the issues that discredited Nicholas II’s rule was his repeated attempt to prosecute a Jew, Beilis, on this charge, despite the most anti-Semitic of his ministers telling him that it was stupid and ridiculous.

And in opposition to the workers’ and revolutionary movements, there were the Black Hundreds. These were groups of extreme right-wing supporters of the traditional order, who were viciously anti-Semitic.

It’s obviously glaringly true that Lenin was ‘anti-business’. But saying that makes it appear as though it was just a matter of prejudice. It wasn’t. Russia’s working people and peasants at the time laboured in appalling conditions, with many on literal ‘starvation wages’. And although the serfs had been freed in the 1860s by Alexander I, their lords and masters still treated their workers as unfree slaves. There were cases where factory masters told their workers ‘We own you!’ Hence before the Bolshevik coup there were hundreds of strikes and peasant revolts up and down the Russian Empire. You can easily see why before Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power, there was a revolution that overthrew the Tsar, and the workers began electing left-wing parties like the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Trudoviks and Socialist Revolutionaries on to the workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ soviets they set up to represent their own interests against the power of the capitalists.

As for the capitalists and business using anti-Semitism to divide working people of all nations, anti-Semitism in the West has been rightly discredited and regarded with loathing by the majority of people since the defeat of Nazism. But the right has used racism to try and attack the left and organised Labour. You can see it in the way the Tories have tried to stir up nationalist sentiment against Muslims and other ‘unassimilable’ immigrants, quite apart from the fearmongering about workers coming from elsewhere in the EU and eastern Europe.

I’m not a fan of Lenin. He created a very authoritarian system, which eventually led to the murderous tyranny of Stalin. But he was no anti-Semite, and his speech still remains a very relevant commentary on the political uses of racial hatred.

Guy Verhofstadt and Other MEPs Call for Boris To Be Sacked

October 4, 2017

Here’s something a little more positive from the EU, and yes, it’s another video from RT. MEPs, including Guy Verhofstadt and Manfred Weber from the German European People’s Party, have called for Theresa May to sack Boris Johnson. They state that it’s not clear who’s in charge of the Brexit negotiations – her, Boris or David Davis. They want a clear line of authority and know who is really in charge. And so they call on her to sack the blond buffoon.

I couldn’t agree more. And it isn’t just because he’s trying to dictate the terms under which Britain leaves the EU himself, simply to make himself that bit more popular and bring himself just a little closer to 10 Downing Street.

It’s because he’s a clown with a complete lack of tact, who is completely insensitive to the feelings of others and the delicate and nuanced language required for effective diplomacy. On Sunday Channel 4 showed footage of the British ambassador to Myanmar, Andrew Jenkins, doing his best to save Anglo-Burmese relations when BoJo started reciting The Road to Mandalay on an official visit to Myanmar’s holiest Buddhist temple, Shwedagog Temple, in Yangon, the country’s capital.

Johnson couldn’t see that reciting a poem from one of the great literary figures of British imperialism, Rudyard Kipling, in their holiest place, might not be welcome to his hosts or the country’s people.

And then he told the Tory conference that Sirte in Libya could be next Dubai, ‘once they’ve cleared the bodies away’. As Mike has pointed out in his blog, Sirte was the site of a battle between the Libyan government and the Islamists, that left over 100 police officers dead and hundreds of innocent bystanders killed or wounded in the crossfire. Again, some might argue that treating the carnage that occurred so casually was again insensitive. And it says much about the mentality of his audience that the Tories there had a jolly guffaw and chuckle at his comments.

Now imagine the outrage if he had shown the same apparent lack of tact over a similar battle, in which a hundred or so British squaddies and members of the general public were killed. Not that I don’t think Boris isn’t capable of that either. He’d be just as likely to say it – but only if the bodies were those of proles – and his wretched gang of sycophants and admirers just as likely to laugh, if this did happen. He’d then try to pass it off as just him being a bit inept again, but look, he’s a lovable clown. Just a bit accident prone. He didn’t mean any harm.

He clearly is someone who doesn’t care what he says, nor what offence he may needlessly cause.

As for Sirte becoming the next Dubai or similar luxury travel destination in the Middle East, I don’t know how much real benefit that will bring the Libyans themselves. Gaddafi was a thug and a dictator. However, under him the Libyan people had free education and healthcare, and something like a welfare state. And while he certainly used the Islamists to assassinate his foreign enemies in Africa and the Middle East, they were very definitely not tolerated on Libyan soil. All that seems to have gone, thanks the Neocons in the American government and Killary, who giggled when announcing the dictator’s death.

She was a war-hungry maniac, who palled up with the unindicted war criminal Henry Kissinger, and wanted to expand more chaos and death further around the Middle East, while ramping up tensions with Russia and China. She shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near America’s foreign policy.

And neither should Boris. He’s a liability. He’ll sacrifice this country’s prosperity and the possibility of good relations with the EU and the rest of the Commonwealth simply for the sake of his vain ambition to become PM. It’s time he was shown the door. If not the boot.

Trump Officially Declared Major Threat to Human Rights

January 30, 2017

In this piece from the David Pakman show, the presenter discusses an announcement by the respected human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, that Trump’s government and the rise of the far Right in Europe represent a major attack on human rights. The organisation publishes yearly reports on the state of human rights in 90 countries. In this year’s report, they list the threats and attacks Trump poses to human rights. These are

* Deportation of immigrants
* Curtailment of women’s rights
* Threats to media freedom
* Threats to going back to using torture
* Threats to kill the families of terrorists
* Threats to invade countries to extort oil
* Confusion about why nuking Europe would be bad.

The report notes that the combination of Donald Trump’s administration and certain far Right European politicians would lead to tyranny.

Pakman and his staff state very clearly that Trump is a demonstrable threat to human rights, because of his mockery of a disabled reporter, the family of a Muslim soldier, who fell doing his duty to America, and his jokes about sexually assaulting women. They also discuss Trump’s plans for a Muslim registry, and make it clear that they think that it isn’t just a case that Trump merely said all his illiberal nonsense just to get votes. At some level, he really believes it.

Considering that Trump has passed his ban on Muslim’s entering the US, I think it’s very clear that the Orange Duce believes all his vile, racist and misogynist policies. As one senior right-wing statesman said of Adolf Hitler, ‘This man is dangerous. He believes his own propaganda’.

Trump is a threat to human freedom. And as Pakman and his producers show, their only defence against this will be to make ludicrous counter-accusations about how it’s all biased ‘fake news’, written by the paid hacks of George Soros or some other multi-millionaire with liberal, or ‘liberal’ views, who haunts the right-wing imagination like a Bond villain. But this won’t stop increasing numbers of people across the world from rising up to oppose him.

Lenin on the Russian Soviets as a New Form of Workers’ Democracy

July 4, 2016

The word ‘Soviet’, as in the name for the old USSR – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – meant a council. These were original councils workers, peasants and soldiers, which were set up by the Russian working people themselves during the 1905 and 1917 revolutions before the Bolshevik coup. The largest and most important was the Petrograd Soviet, in what is now St. Petersburg. They were composed of delegates elected by the workers, peasants and squaddies of the Russian Empire, in contrast to the Russian duma, the country’s parliament. The soviets were not originally the sole monopoly of the Bolsheviks. Their members included representatives from all of the Russian Socialist and revolutionary parties, including as well as Lenin’s Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries and Trudoviks. They became a pillar of the monolithic, totalitarian Communist state after the Bolshevik coup and the dissolution of all parties except the Communists. Lenin deliberately changed the name of his faction from Social Democrats (Bolsheviks) to Communists to show that the model for the new, Marxist Socialist society was going to be the Paris Commune of 1872, which rose up in protest against both the French monarchy and the German invasion during the Franco-Prussian War.

Lenin made the ideological nature of the new, governmental system through workers’ councils clear in the section ‘A new Type of State Emerging from Our Revolution’ in his April Theses. He wrote

The Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, Peasants’ and other Deputies are not understood, not only in the sense that their class significance, their role in the Russian revolution is not clear to the majority. They are not understood also in the sense that they constitute a new form or rather a new type of state.

The most perfect, the most advanced type of bourgeois state is the parliamentary democratic republic: power is vested in parliament; the state machine, the apparatus and organ of administration, is of the customary kind: the standing army, the police, and the bureaucracy – which in practice is undisplaceable, is privileged and stands above the people.

Since the end of the nineteenth century, however, revolutionary epochs have advanced a higher type of democratic state, a state which in certain respects, as Engels put it, ceases to be a state, is “no longer a state in the proper sense of the word”. This is a state of the Paris Commune type, one in which a standing army and police divorced from the people are replaced by the direct arming of the people themselves. It is this feature that constitutes the very essence of the Commune, which has been so misrepresented and slandered by the bourgeois writers, and to which has been erroneously ascribed, among other things, the intention of immediately “introducing” socialism.

This is the type of state which the Russian revolution began to create in 1905 and in 1917. A Republic of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, Peasants’ and other Deputies, united in an All-Russia Constituent Assembly of people’s representatives or in a Council of Soviets, etc., is what is already being realised in our country now, at this juncture. it is being realised by the initiative of the nation’s millions, who are creating a democracy on their own, in their own way, without waiting until the Cadet professors draft their legislative bills for a parliamentary bourgeois republic, or until the pedants and routine-worshippers of petty-bourgeois “Social-Democracy”, like Mr. Plekhanov or Kautsky, stop distorting the Marxist teaching on the state.

Marxism differs from anarchism in that it recognises the need for a state and for state power in the period of revolution in general, and in the period of transition from capitalism to socialism in particular.

Marxism differs from the petty-bourgeois, opportunist “Social-Democratism” of Plekhanov, Kautsky and Co. in that it recognises that what is required during these two periods is not a state of the usual parliamentary bourgeois republican type, but a state of the Paris Commune type.

The main distinctions between a state of the latter type and the old state are as follows.

It is quite easy (as history proves) to revert from a parliamentary bourgeois republic to a monarchy, for the machinery of oppression – the army, the police, and the bureaucracy-is left intact. The Commune and the Soviets smash that machinery and do away with it.

The parliamentary bourgeois republic hampers and stifles the independent political life of the masses, their direct participation in the democratic organisation of the life of the state from the bottom up. The opposite is the case with the Soviets.

The latter reproduce the type of state which was being evolved by the Paris Commune and which Marx described as “the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economic emancipation of labour”.

We are usually told that the Russian people are not yet prepared for the “introduction” of the Commune. This was the argument of the serf-owners when they claimed that the peasants were not prepared for emancipation. The Commune, i.e., the Soviets, does not “introduce”, does not intend to “introduce”, and must not introduce any reforms which have not absolutely matured both in economic reality and in the minds of the overwhelming majority of the people. the deeper the economic collapse and the crisis produced by the war, the more urgent becomes the need for the most perfect political form, which will facilitate the healing of the terrible wounds inflicted on mankind by the war. The less the organisational experience of the Russian people, the more resolutely must we proceed to organisational developments by the people themselves, and not merely by the bourgeois politicians and “well-placed” bureaucrats. Lenin: The April Theses, 3rd Edition (Moscow: Progress Publishers 1970) 36-8.

Plekhanov and Kautsky were two of the great leaders of European Marxism at the time. Plekhanov was one of the founders of Russian Marxism, while Kautsky was the leader of the Austrian Social Democrats. Both defended parliamentary democracy. The Cadets Lenin also criticises aren’t students at a military academy. They were the Constitutional Democrats, a liberal party and I think the largest party in the duma at the time. Most historians now also believe that Marx, Engels and Lenin were wrong about the Socialist nature of the Paris Commune. The Communards weren’t motivated by Socialism so much as the Parisian local tradition of political autonomy, against the rest of the France, and patriotic outrage at defeat by Prussia, and the government that had failed to defend France, during the Franco-Prussian War.

Parliamentary democracy is superior to a government by workers’ councils, in that it does allow everyone in the state a vote and the opportunity to participate politically. This was recognised by Kautsky, who was a bitter critic of Bolshevik tyranny. However, there is still something deeply attractive about a governmental system that allow working people some measure of direct political power, rather than relying on a class of MPs, who may become distant from their electors, as has frequently happened.

Secular Talk: Horrified Ambassador’s Email Describes Destruction of Iraq under Allied Occupation

March 6, 2016

This is another grim, compelling piece of reporting from Secular Talk. Kyle Kulinski here discusses an email from 2010 to Hillary Clinton that has just been released. It’s from a former ambassador, Joe Wilson, who visited the country after the western invasion. He vividly describes his horror at the immense damage done to Iraq and its people, and the vicious racism of the occupying American soldiers.

Wilson states he was left ‘slack-jawed’ during his visit to Baghdad at the way an historical vibrant city has been ‘bled to death’. He compared it to Berlin and Dresden during the Second World War, but states that even these cities were not subject of seven years of occupation, during which time they were the victims of ethnic cleansing, religious segregation, and brutalisation by the regular army and ‘private military contractors’. That’s mercenaries, to you and me. He believed that Gaza was suffering from similar dehumanizing effects. He stated that the fabric of Iraqi urban society had been destroyed through the walling-off of whole neighbourhoods.

He also stated that the troops were not keen to help the Iraqis help themselves. He looked for a souvenir he could bring back to his son as a memento of his stay in the country, but could not find one that was suitable. All the T-shirts were either racist or ‘horribly bellicose’. There were shirts showing mushroom clouds and the slogan, ‘temperature 38,000 degrees, and partly cloudy’. Other T-shirts referred to the Arabs as ‘camel jockeys’, but this was the least offensive. The service personnel, he stated, do not see themselves as there to bring peace, light, joy or even democracy to Iraq. ‘They are there to kill the camel jockeys’.

Kulinski notes how George Dubya moved the goalposts after America invaded Iraq, and people found out that his line that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 was a lie. Then Dubya told the country that he had weapons of mass destruction that he was prepared to use. That was also a lie. He didn’t have WMDs, and wouldn’t have used them on America anyway, as this would have resulted in the total destruction of his country. And when that lie crumbled, Bush and his cronies stated that he had to go, because he was a bad guy. So were many other governments, including America itself, that were not subject to regime change. Among the bad guys America is currently allied with are the Saudi royal family, who kill people for drug smuggling, sorcery and witchcraft, and are killing and massacring civilians in Yemen. Then Bush and the others tried to justify the invasion with the pretext that they were there to bring the country democracy. Wilson’s email gives the lie to that too. America is not there to bring democracy. The west is there to occupy, dehumanise and kill its people, and steal their oil.

Kulinski states that he’s embarrassed by all this as an American. He does not want his country to be remembered for this. He states that this in no way represents all Americans. It is the product of the worst parts of American government – the Neo-Cons – and the military-industrial complex, which is concerned with profit over all else. He asks, ‘how can we – how can anyone vote for anyone, who was ever okay with this war?’

More On Trumps Cynicism and Exploitation of Veterans and Christians from The Young Turks

February 2, 2016

Okay, I realise that I’ve already posted three blogs in a row about Trump, and this is a further piece to the one I’ve already written about his cynical and exploitative attitude to veterans. But this stuff just keeps coming, and Trump’s still out there.

Trump organised a special event on the 28th January, a few days ago, for US veterans, and has been very loudly proclaiming that he’s raising funds for them. But when it comes to paying out, the reality seems to be somewhat different. A year or so ago, a charity for homeless ex-soldiers, Veterans in Command, wrote to The Donald asking for a donation. They finally got their reply last week. It was a bumper sticker, come through the post, with a handwritten note saying that he wasn’t going to make a donation.

The piece’s anchors, Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, point out that this isn’t the first time Trump’s done something like this. In 1991 and 2004 he tried to get the food stand run by veterans cleared off the street in Fifth Avenue. The stands had been there for over a century, and had been expressly set up to give former soldiers jobs. But Trump wanted them to go, as they gave the area ‘the wrong image’.

Of the five million or so Trump’s fund for veterans has actually spent, only 73,000 came from Trump’s own pocket. So, he’s not exactly generous with his own money when it actually comes to supporting America’s wounded and poverty-stricken ex-warriors.

He’s also trying the same trick with the Christians in Iowa. There’s no evidence that Trump’s religious or has ever been a Christian, or gone to church. Someone wrote to the evangelical churches in NYC, and none of them had record of Trump attending. But he’s trying to pass himself off as a devout believer. He attended church in Iowa. When the communion plate was being passed around for the bread and wine of Holy Communion, Trump thought it was the collection plate and placed a wad of notes there. Uygur himself states he’s not a Christian, and wasn’t raised a Christian. He’s an atheist, who was raised a Muslim, and so he jokes that he doesn’t know what goes on in church services. But he does know that Trump is precisely the kind of person Christ threw out of the Temple. Exactly. Christ in the Gospels attacks the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, and the way they made much of their own piety and lavish donations to the synagogue, while all the while having absolute contempt for the genuinely pious, but not socially respectable poor. Again, this reflects the social situation of the time. The Pharisees did indeed look down on the poorer classes, particularly in Galilee, as the ‘amma ha-aretz, or People of the Land. One of them even declared, ‘Galilee, Galilee, thou hatest the Torah’. And the Prophet Amos centuries earlier in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Old Testament, attacked the rich, who gave lavishly to the temple, provided rich sacrifices, but who did not really observe the spirit of the Law of Moses, and who had nothing but contempt for the poor. There’s even a special sin – simony – named after Simon Magus in the Acts of the Apostles – for people who try to buy positions in the church, almost like Trump has tried to buy Christian support.

Uygur states that it’s a problem why Evangelical Christians, who claim religion is at the centre of their lives, support Trump, considering he’s not a Christian and just seems to be posing as such to get their support. He believes it’s just simple racism. They share his hatred of Mexicans and Muslims, and are voting for him because of this. I think it’s a fair point, although I would not care to say that this was true of all American Evangelicals. A book written a few years ago, The Truth about Evangelicals, actually said that about half of all theologically conservative Christians were political left-wing, and some even more so than American Roman Catholics. But it is very true of the type that listen to Pat Robertson and the rest of the televangelists that suddenly appeared during the Reagan era. It’s these people Trump’s trying to impress.

Well, Trump and the Republicans actually don’t give two hoots about the real problems faced by working class people in America, including Christians. There’s an entire chapter in the book on Neo-Conservatism, Confronting the New Conservatism, on how the Republicans and Neo-Cons cynically exploit these people’s religious fears, while giving them nothing in return. They make a lot of noise about sex and violence on TV and the cinema, the teaching of evolution, gay rights and so on, but this is generally just verbiage to describe their true agenda: cutting welfare programmes, and giving the rich massive tax cuts. Both believing Christians and old soldiers – who in many cases are no doubt one and the same, pilgrims – could do worse than face, front, stand square, and show this fraud the door.