Posts Tagged ‘The Real News’

Real News Network on Israeli Political Interference against Jeremy Corbyn

March 1, 2019

This is another great video from the Baltimore-based The Real News, posted on YouTube four days ago on the 25th February 2019. The news service’s host, Greg Wilpert, talks to Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada about Israeli meddling in British politics to smear and discredit Jeremy Corbyn.

The Campaign against Ilhan Omar and Leah Whitson

Wilpert reports that the same day that Ilhan Omar in the US was attacked for anti-Semitism for comments she made about her country’s Israel lobby, an orchestrated campaign was launched in Britain to smear Leah Whitson of the Middle East section of Human Rights Watch. She had tweeted ‘Why is Israel interference in British politics acceptable? Is it only a problem when Russia does this?’ She was talking about the al-Jazeera documentary about how Israeli politicians tried to delegitimise left-wing politicians, particularly in the Labour party.  Then the eight Labour MPs split, accusing Corbyn of bad leadership on Brexit and anti-Semitism. The deputy leader, John McDonnell, said they were making a mistake and should hold bye-election. This is followed by a clip of McDonnell saying that they should remain in the party to fight their corner. But if they don’t, they lose Labour party support, and should hold an election.

Wilpert then introduces Winstanley, mentioning his recent article for the Electronic Intifada, ‘Yes, Of Course Israel Is Interfering in British Politics’. Wilpert states that Israel has allocated considerable funding for Hasbara -propaganda-operations through various channels. Hasbara groups are very media savvy and have coordinated attacks in America and Britain. He then asks Winstanley what they are trying to do. What would they gain by the sacking of Leah Whitson.

Winstanley replies that they have been doing a huge number of things over the years with various degrees of success and failure. Human rights watch has been a thorn in their sides for many years because Israel is a state that abuses human rights, and this is impossible for Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to ignore. Human Rights Watch puts out detailed information about human rights abuses in Israel, war crimes against Palestinians and injustices that Israel has always perpetuated against them.

Corbyn and the Labour Party

Wilpert then asks about what Israel is trying to achieve by smearing the Labour party with anti-Semitism. Winstanley replies that the anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour party is a campaign by racists to smear anti-racists. It’s a complete inversion of reality. Which is not to say that there is no such thing as anti-Semitism in the Party, it’s a mass movement of half a million people according to the latest figures, so statistically there are going to be some anti-Semites. In the main all the headlines about anti-Semitism in the Labour party have been at best an exaggeration and in many cases outright fabrications. A narrative that pro-Israel groups in the UK have been pushing for the last 3 1/2 years in order to sabotage the Labour Party. There’s footage at this point of pro-Israel demonstrators, wrapped in the Israeli flag, standing around with megaphones. Winstanley states that the party’s left-wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has for many decades been a Palestine solidarity activist. It fits in with the Israel lobby’s decades-long strategy of accusing anyone who is involved in Palestine solidarity of being an anti-Semite.

Wilpert remarks that Corbyn seems to be taking a passive approach to these attacks and is not going on the offensive against pro-Israeli groups. that are trying to undermine him and his party’s electoral chances. He asks Winstanley why he thinks Corbyn’s taking this approach. Winstanley replies that he doesn’t know the answer, and believes that there are several different reasons. But Winstanley feels that essentially he feels boxed in and limited it what he can do. Corbyn’s support from the party’s grassroots always comes most strongly when he fights his corner, as he had done on so many issues. Unfortunately the issue of anti-Semitism goes straight to the heart of what it means to be an anti-racist popular movement. Jeremy Corbyn has a strong record in this regard for decades, and the accusations of racism really hurt and are having an effect. Anyone on the left, who doesn’t realise this is deluded, and there are too many people in denial about it. Smears and allegations of anti-Semitism are the main weapon of the anti-solidarity movement, and this needs to be faced up to before it can be combated.

Why No Official Investigations of Israeli Propaganda Groups?

Wilpert goes on to say that it isn’t just Corbyn, but the Israel/Palestine debate as been a major issue in British politics although Britain has not occupied Palestine for 71 years. Why doesn’t Britain investigate accusations of espionage by Israeli hasbara groups? And what do the eight former Labour MPs hope to achieve by going against the dominant political views of their own constituents? Winstanley replies that it’s an excellent question, and that when the al-Jazeera documentary ‘The Lobby’ first came out, showing Israeli interference primarily here in the UK, mainly in Labour but also in the Conservatives and others, the Labour Party’s initial response, even from people like Emily Thornberry, Corbyn’s shadow foreign secretary, who was one of the Israelis’ supporters in parliament, a supporter of Labour Friends of Israel, called for an investigation into ‘improper interference in British politics’. But this was not followed up and nothing came of it. And this week, with the defection of the eight, now nine, Labour MPs away from the party, all but one of whom joined this new group, called the Independent Group, a political party in all but name, the vast majority of whom were pro-Israel. Of the initial eight, six were listed as supporters of Labour Friends of Israel, and Ian Austin, who also resigned today [25th] is also a member of Labour Friends of Israel. This calls into question Labour Friends of Israel. If a number of its MPs are not in the Labour party, then what is it doing in the Labour party. In Winstanley’s opinion the NEC should proscribe this organisation. After all, it’s a front group for the Israeli embassy in the UK, and its activities really need to be investigated.

Ryan and the Theft of Labour Membership Details

We have also seen this week Joan Ryan, one of the MPs, who’s joined this Independent Group, she’s being accused of improper access to Labour Party members’ data. Winstanley doesn’t know the full details about this yet. It looks like she accessed Labour members private electoral data. With her known links to Israeli embassy agents, including the embassy spy, Shai Masot, who was expelled from our country in 2017 after being exposed by the al-Jazeera documentary, questions have to be asked. There should be an investigation by the British authorities into this. What is she doing with that data? and it is a completely fair question to ask if she’s sending it back to Israel. In the al-Jazeera documentary on America, one of the LFI’s members, Jon Rubin, said in his own words ‘Joan will talk to Shai most days.’ She was in close association with someone who was effectively an Israeli spy. Is she still talking to the Israeli embassy most days? This is a real question to ask, but the mainstream media aren’t going there.

 

Novara Media Claims Belief that Israeli State Behind Labour Anti-Semitism Smears ‘Conspiracy Theory’

February 28, 2019

I’m a fan of Novara media and its editor in chief, Ash Sarkar. She’s young, bright and with a very incisive grasp of politics and a firm supporter of the left-wing policies we need to put this country back on its feet, empower ordinary people, and fight real racism. I think the company generally supports Corbyn and the Labour party. But I was immensely disappointed earlier this week by a video in which Sarkar talked to James Butler and Kehinde Andrews, a professor of Black Studies at one of the universities in a piece entitled ‘The Blair Rich Project’. The video’s on YouTube, and is 1 hour and 24 minutes long. I tried watching it, but gave up after about 20 minutes when James Butler declared that the belief that Israel was involved in the anti-Semitism accusations was only held by a minority of Labour supporters, who were themselves anti-Semitic.

This is the establishment narrative, although I dare say that Butler thinks he was countering it by stressing that the people, who hold this belief are only a tiny minority. But the people, who believe that the Israeli state is involved in these smears are absolutely right. The anti-Semitism accusations are part of Israeli hasbara, civilian propaganda. The point has been made again and again by activists and journalists like Tony Greenstein, Glenn Greenwald, Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada. Who was earlier this week in a discussion about this with The Real News alternative news network. The Real News is based in Boston, America. Al-Jazeera, the Arab news agency, and it’s subsidiary channel, AJ+, has unsurprisingly exposed Israeli involved in British, and now American domestic politics. Those making these revelations aren’t anti-Semites either. Greenstein’s Jewish, as is, I think, Greenwald, who writes for the Intercept.

But for some reason Novara Media are ignoring all this. Butler blithely seemed to accept unquestioningly that the Israeli state wasn’t involved, and that the people, who believed it were ‘conspiracy theorists’. Well, genuine conspiracies exist. And Israeli hasbara and state-directed smears of Corbyn are one of them.

But I do wonder why Butler, and his boss, Sarkar, don’t believe this. it might be that, like so many of the British media, they simply have a blind spot about the secret state. Or else they believe that, as anti-racists, they should reject any accusations about a plot by an ethnic minority, even when that plot is real, and the perpetrators don’t represent all of their ethnic group. The Israeli state and lobby claim that they represent all Jews, but they clearly don’t. Not even close, as Jews like Greenstein and Walker, who have been accused of anti-Semitism and self-hatred would attest. Perhaps it’s simply the mainstream academic disdain for parapolitics and conspiracy theories, which are seen only as the province of the stupid, paranoid and hateful.

Or perhaps Butler and Novara are afraid that if they give credence to the idea that the Israeli state is behind these vile smears, they’ll be accused of anti-Semitism in turn, and that the station’s financiers and advertisers will pull out, causing it to go under. It’s a small station, and so is very vulnerable financially.

It could be either or both of the above. Or any number of other explanations. But I’m disappointed that they haven’t realised what is really going on behind these smears, and who is directing and ultimately responsible for them.

Private Eye on the Integrity Initiative and Its Links to American Intelligence

December 30, 2018

I’ve just put up a piece by left-wing British vlogger Gordon Dimmack on the Integrity Initiative and its parent organization, the Institute for Statecraft, which have been revealed as British intelligence operations running smears against Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that he’s supported by the Russians. It’s pretty standard British establishment disinformation. In the 1970s MI5 ran a similar campaign against Harold Wilson, claiming that he was a KGB spy. The Sunday Times smeared the former Labour leader, Michael Foot, the same way in the 1990s, and have repeated the same libels recently. And then there are all the absurd attacks on Jeremy Corbyn in the press that he’s a Communist, Trotskyite or Stalinist.

Private Eye also ran a piece about the Integrity Initiative in this fortnight’s Christmas issue, for 22nd December 2018-10th January 2019. The article, entitled ‘Hot News, Cold War’, runs

The Integrity Initiative, ostensibly a campaign against “Russian disinformation”, faced Labour Party anger and a Foreign Office (FCO) inquiry when it emerged recently that the supposedly “independent” initiative was backed by 2m pounds of government money and had been circulating anti-Jeremy Corbyn articles.

Private Eye can now reveal that the project to “defend democracy against disinformation” has also relied on help from one John Rendon, the US political PR supremo dubbed “the man who sold the Iraq war” after his company, Rendon Group, was paid millions by the US government to build the Iraqi National Congress, the supposed “dissident” group behind fake tales about weapons of mass destruction that helped launch the Iraq war.

The Integrity Initiative was launched in 2016 by the Institute for Statecraft, a charity that claims to be “totally independent and impartial, not dependent on funding from political or government agencies”. However, documents released by hacktivist group Anonymous in November revealed that it got nearly 2m pounds from the Foreign Office in 2017/18 specifically to run the Integrity Initiative-figures subsequently confirmed by an embarrassed Sir Alan Duncan, Foreign Office minister, in a written parliamentary answer.

The Anonymous documents included detailed FCO plans to build up secretive “clusters” of friendly journalists and academics to spread their messages, with monthly reports back to government.

Integrity Initiative staff have intelligence links. The documents name as part of the team one Harold Elletson, a former Tory MP identified by the Observer in 1996 to have been an MI6 agent (see Eye 916). Another team member, Chris Donnelly, is a reserve officer in the British Army Intelligence Corps.

Integrity Initiative “clusters” across Europe push articles “written by independent journalists in newspapers” which were “based on material provided anonymously by the cluster”. The documents show the FCO-funded “clusters” were not just aiming at “Russian disinformation”. Instead the attacked European politicians they believed were too “pro-Putin”.

The papers show how John Rendon helped shape this FCO-funded campaign. He was a top speaker at a 45,000 pound programme of Integrity Initiative seminars to “educate core team and clusters”, and his firm helped write Integrity Initiative dossiers.

The Rendon Group works extensively for the CIA, Pentagon and other US agencies. Famously, it was paid nearly $100m to help shape the Iraqi National Congress (INC) from the 1990s onwards. The INC built its western media contacts to pump out fake stories about WMDs. After Saddam’s fall, the INC proved to have little support in Iraq itself. Rendon’s experience shows the danger of secretive government PR supposedly aimed at foreign opponents distorting domestic politics.

The FCO says the Integrity Initiative documents were exposed by a Kremlin hack and “amplified” by “Russian disinformation”. Russian media are certainly delighted by the news, and Russia may well have hacked the press, but they are real. (p. 11).

The people thus smearing Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left as Russian stooges are aided by an outfit that the helped to cause the illegal invasion of Iraq, an outfit that works for the American intelligence establishment. This makes sense. The Boston-based alternative news network, The Real News, have also put up a video about Initiative revealing that it doesn’t just smear British politicians and activists, but also American. This is a real scandal, and there needs to be a proper exposure of this organization and inquiry. And especially of the hacks, who are putting the organization’s lies into print to undermine real democracy across Europe and America.

The Real News on the Polish Government’s Collaboration with Fascism

December 2, 2018

This is another video from the Boston-based Real News network. It’s a report on the steady march towards the extreme right by the Polish government’s Law and Justice party, and their collaboration with Fascism and Holocaust revisionism. The country’s a member of the EU and NATO, and is bitterly hostile to Russia, from whom it has requested America provide protection. Donald Trump is thus considering building a new NATO base there, named after himself. Naturally.

The video discusses the march through Warsaw last month, November, 2018, to commemorate the centenary of Poland’s independence. 200,000 people attended. The march was, however, initially organized by the Far Right, and attended by extreme right-wing groups from all over Europe. The march was then co-sponsored by the government, and the president, Andzrei Duda, marched in front of a number of explicitly Fascist organisations.

The programme talks about this with Dr. Dovid Katz, an academic specializing in the rise of Fascism in eastern Europe, who is rightly alarmed by these developments. He states that Fascism exists in many countries, but it bodes badly for democracy when the government partners with it. He describes how the Polish government has been increasingly taking the country towards Fascism. Katz says that this is ‘so sad’ because Poland was the first major country invaded by Hitler, with no disrespect to Czechoslovakia. It’s thus particularly alarming to see Nazis marching on Poland’s hallowed national day, along with the president and thousands of other, non-Nazi people, who nevertheless felt comfortable marching with the Far Right. He pays tribute to the mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who tried to prevent the march from going ahead, but was overruled by the rest of the council. As well as leading politicians, the Groaniad reported that the Polish armed forces also marched side by side with Fascist organisations like the National-Radical Camp, or ONR, the successor to a pre-War anti-Semitic organization, as well as the Italian Fascist organization, Forza Nuova.

Gronkiewicz-Waltz apparently came from the Centrist party, but her attempt to ban the march was overturned by Duda, who announced that it would go ahead as the Rightists had originally planned. A court also overturned the ban, effectively combining the government and Fascist marches. The government put a cordon of military police between the two marches, but Katz argues that this really did nothing to distance the government from the Fascists. Katz states that the governments collaborating with the Far Right, such as those in the three Baltic states, use similar tactics, but they don’t morally make any difference. He makes the point that on this sacred day, the government is showing that it’s in solidarity with people who believe in Aryan purity, who hate Jews, Blacks, Roma and gays. In other words, all the same people the Nazis hated.

The documentary notes that the Law and Justice party began as a nominally centre right party with a strong Christian orientation. Since taking power in 2015 it has moved further right. This year, 2018, it purged the supreme court of a third of its members, and reappointed their successors in October, provoking protests. It has also become increasingly nationalistic. Katz states that as centre-right party, it was ostensibly like the British Tories and American Republicans. But its far-right character has been revealed by its neutralization of democracy through the attacks on the independence of the judiciary. He states that it’s to Poland’s credit that there is a vibrant opposition which has led to the situation being covered, unlike similar events in the Baltic states.

But parallel to the attacks on democracy is the rise of ethnic nationalism and an emphasis on the racial purity of the Polish people. This has also come with a rise in anti-Semitism. The video shows a clipping from a newspaper report about a hostel that declared that it was only for Poles, Jews were forbidden. This is despite the majority of Polish having been either killed or fled during the Holocaust. In February this year, Duda passed a law criminalizing the mention of Polish complicity in the Holocaust. This effectively made Holocaust revisionism mandatory, and anyone who discussed the reality of Polish complicity in the Holocaust could be jailed for up to three years. Katz states that it is important to recognize that most Poles aren’t anti-Semites and never were. In the case of the Holocaust, a quarter of the Righteous Gentiles, the rescuers of Jews, in Europe during the Nazi era came from Poland. He also states that for hundreds of years, the Polish kingdom and then the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth provided a haven for Jews and other minorities. But these new Fascist forces are tapping into the worst forms of Polish nationalism and Roman Catholicism, which also had a deep anti-Semitic theological tradition built into them, which the Nazis were easily able to exploit. And the term ‘Christian’ here is being used as a dog-whistle for ‘ethnic Poles’. Katz states that Poland is a very ethnically homogenous country. There is no challenge to Polish ethnic identity. It’s the Far Right attempt to create and exploit problems, which don’t exist. And the real victims of this attempt to create a Fascist state are the Poles.

Katz goes on to say that Poland was different from the Baltic states and western Ukraine, in that it was the victim of the Nazis, and so has nothing to fake history about. The law banning any discussion of Polish involvement in the Holocaust was also expressed in blatantly anti-Semitic terms. In the Baltic states, however, the wording of similar laws is much more deceptive. The equivalent law in Ukraine talks about equal evaluation of totalitarian regimes. Which means that if someone says that only the Nazis committed genocide, and that the Soviet crimes, as horrific as they were, don’t constitute genocide, then they can be sent to prison. In Latvia this is five years, 2 years in Lithuania, three in Hungary and 10 in Ukraine.

The international outcry that followed the passage of Poland’s Holocaust law forced the government to amend it to make it less severe and remove the jail sentences. But this problem isn’t confined to Poland. Katz is a member of the web journal, Defending History, which tracks Holocaust revisionism in eastern Europe. They stress that Fascism is appearing elsewhere in eastern European NATO member states. The anti-Semitism in the Baltic isn’t overt – the government sponsors Jewish plaques, conferences and memorials, but there is still the Fascist emphasis on ethnic purity and the desire to falsify the history of the Holocaust.

Katz is an excellent speaker, who clearly has a deep respect for Poland and its people. He’s also right about Poland providing a refuge for the Jews during the centuries of persecution. And there are monuments in Poland to those, who helped the Jews in the Holocaust.

Poland was the victim of genocide and ethnic cleansing under the Nazis. Hitler himself said that the war against the Poles would be one of extermination. Of the gentile Christians, who were persecuted by the Nazis, the majority were Polish Roman Catholics. The Nazis despised the Slavonic peoples of eastern Europe as non-Aryan subhumans. The handbooks issued to the Hitler Youth urging them to keep themselves racially pure had diagrams showing the typical features of the peoples of Europe. Those of the Slavic peoples, beginning with the Poles, are shown has becoming increasingly east Asian, with high cheekbones and slanted eyes, until they finally merge into those of the peoples of China and the other Asian countries.

Nevertheless, there is a deep strain of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in these countries that is being exploited. I wonder how much of the trend towards Fascism in Poland is being driven by the same economic and psychological forces behind the rise of the Far Right in Hungary. Poland’s another state that had to fight for its independence against domination by the German, Austiran and Russian Empires, and was threatened by the Turkish conquest of the Balkans and expansionism from the 15th to 17th centuries. I’m left wondering if the Polish people also suffered through the collapse of Communism, like those of Russia and Hungary. And if they also, like Hungary, were badly hit by the 2008 financial crash.

And despite their affected concern with defending Jews from anti-Semitism, Israel and its lobbyists in Britain will not attack the Polish government. Because Poland, like Ukraine and Hungary, has bought Israeli arms. Thus Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, appeared in the pages of the Guardian to deny that the Law and Justice Party was anti-Semitic, because they were good friends of Israel.

One of our uncles was Polish, a man who worked his way across Europe from Germany to France until he came to Britain. He was a decent man, who worked hard to support his family. It’s horrifying that his country is going down the same path towards Fascism, and that Nazism is rising again in eastern Europe with connivance of these nations’ governments.

Everyone in the West has to join together to fight it, before it undermines all of western civilization.

Radio 4 Programme Next Week on Press Censorship and Election Rigging

October 30, 2018

According to the Radio Times for 3rd to 9th November 2018, next Monday’s edition of Radio 4’s ‘Analysis’ is about the increasing destruction of democracy. Entitled ‘How to Kill a Democracy’, for blurb for the programme runs

Matt Qvortrup examines how democracies around the world are being dismantled through the silencing of the press and manipulation of elections.

The programme is being broadcast, appropriately enough, on the 5th November at 8.30 pm.

This has been going on for years. The Groaniad’s John Kampfner wrote a book about it years ago, Democracy For Sale, about how government across the world were trying to make a pact with their peoples by giving them prosperity at the expense of genuine political freedom. The countries discussed included not only Lee Kwan Yew’s Singapore and Putin’s Russia, but also Sarkozy’s France, Berlusconi’s Italy and Britain under that well-known ‘centrist’, Tony Blair.

But the curbs on free speech and publication aren’t just extending to the press. They’re also attacking the internet under the pretext of protecting us all from ‘fake news’. Facebook recently took down 800 pages, mostly of left-wing and oppositional sites, including those critical of the government. The Real News has recently posted up a report showing that this was done under the supervision of a Neocon American politico, who was gloating that this was just the beginning. I’ll post that one up later.

Democracy and free speech and press are under attack right across the globe, including here in the UK. It’ll be interesting to hear what the Beeb has to say about all this, and whether they’ll mention the corporate assault on the Net. This could be a dodgy issue for the Beeb, as more people are turning away from them and other established and establishment news sources for the Net. And groups on the internet, like the circle of new news media journalists Mike, the Canary, the Skwawkbox and Another Angry Voice belong to. As the Beeb can’t mention Corbyn without a sneer or depicting him as a wild, anti-Semitic extremist, I can see the programme shying well away from the subject of internet censorship.

The Real News on Labour’s Plan For Nationalisation and Workplace Democracy

October 16, 2018

In this 15 minute video from the Baltimore-based The Real News network, host Aaron Mate talks to Leon Panitch, professor of political science at York University about the proposals announced at the Labour party’s conference last month that Labour intended to renationalize some of the privatized utilities, introduce profit-sharing schemes and workplace democracy in firms with over 250 members, in which 1/3 of the board would be elected by the workers.

The video includes a clip of John McDonnell announcing these policies, declaring that they are the greatest extension of economic democratic rights that this country has ever seen. He states that it starts in the workplace, and that it is undeniable that the balance of power is tipped against the worker. The result is long hours, low productivity, low pay and the insecurity of zero hours contracts. He goes on to say that Labour will redress this balance. They will honour the promise of the late Labour leader, John Smith, that workers will have full union rights from day one whether in full time, part time or temporary work. They will lift people out of poverty by setting a real living wage of ten pounds an hour.

McDonnell also says that they believe that workers, who create the wealth of a company, should share in its ownership and the returns that it makes. Employee ownership increases productivity and improves long-term decision making. Legislation will be passed, therefore, for large firms to transfer shares into an inclusive ownership fund. The shares will be held and managed collectively by the workers. The shareholders will give the workers the same rights as other shareholders to have a say over the direction of their company. And dividend payments will be made directly to the workers from the fund.

Commenting on these proposals, Panitch says that in some ways they’re not surprising. McDonnell stated that Labour would inherit a mess. But his remarks were different in that usually governments use the fact that they will inherit a mess not to go through with radical policies. Panitch then talks about Labour’s commitment to bring the public utilities – rail, water, electricity, the post office – public ownership, pointing out that these used to be publicly owned before Thatcher privatized them. McDonnell particularly focused on water, before going beyond it, citing the 1918 Labour party constitution’s Clause IV, which Blair had removed. This is the clause committing the Labour party to the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, under the best form of popular administration. And unlike previous nationalized industries, these will be as democratically-run as possible. Councils would be set up in the water sector made up of representatives of the local community and workers’ representatives to be a supervisory council over the managers in the nationalized water industry.

They then go to a clip of McDonnell talking about the nationalization of the utilities. McDonnell states that the renationalization of the utilities will be another extension of economic democracy. He states that this has proved its popularity in opinion poll after opinion poll. And it’s not surprising. Water privatization is a scandal. Water bills have risen by 40 per cent in real terms since privatization. 18 billion pounds has been paid out in dividends. Water companies receive more in tax credits than they pay in tax. And each day enough water to meet the needs of 20 million people is lost due to leaks. ‘With figures like that’, he concludes, ‘we cannot afford not to take it back into popular ownership’.

Mate and Panitch then move on to discussing the obstacles Labour could face in putting these policies into practice, most particularly from the City of London, which Panitch describes as ‘the Wall Street of Britain’, but goes on to say that in some ways its even more central to financialized global capitalism. However, Panitch says that ‘one gets the sense’ that the British and foreign bourgeoisie have resigned themselves to these industries being brought back into public ownership. And in so far as bonds will be issued to compensate for their nationalization, McDonnell has got the commitment from them to float and sell them. He therefore believes that there won’t be much opposition on this front, even from capital. He believes that there will be more resistance to Labour trying to get finance to move from investing in property to productive industry.

He then moves on to talk about Labour’s plans for ten per cent of the stock of firms employing 250 or more people to go into a common fund, the dividends from which would passed on to the workers up to 500 pounds a year. Anything above that would be paid to the treasury as a social fund for meeting the needs of British people and communities more generally. Panitch states that this has already produced a lot of squawking from the Confederation of British Industry. Going to giving workers a third of the seats on the boards, Panitch states that it has already been said that it will lead to a flight of capital out of Britain. He discusses how this proposal can be radical but also may not be. It could lead to the workers’ representatives on these boards making alliances with the managers which are narrow and particular to that firm. The workers get caught up in the competitiveness of that firm, it stock prices and so on. He makes the point that it’s hardly the same thing as the common ownership of the means of production to have workers’ sitting on the boards of private companies, or even from workers’ funds to be owning shares and getting dividends from them. Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction of socializing the economy more generally, and giving workers the capacity and encouraging them to decide what can be produced, where it’s produced, and what can be invested. And if it really scares British and foreign capital, this raises the question of whether they will have to introduce capital controls. Ultimately, would they have to bring the capital sector into the public sphere as a public utility, as finance is literally the water that forms the basis of the economy?

Mate then asks him about Labour’s refusal to hold a second referendum on Brexit, which angered some activists at the conference. Labour said that any second referendum could only be about the terms of the exit. Panitch states that people wanting Britain to remain in a capitalist Europe try to spin this as the main priority of the party’s members, even Momentum. He states that this is not the case at all, and that if you asked most delegates at the conference, most Labour members and members of Momentum, which they would prefer, a socialist Britain or a capitalist Europe, they would prefer a socialist Britain. The people leading the Remain campaign on the other hand aren’t remotely interested in a socialist Britain, and think it’s romantic nonsense at best. He states that the Corbyn leadership has said that they want a general election as they could secure an arrangement with Europe that would be progressive without necessarily being in Europe. They would accept the single market and a progressive stand on immigration rather than a reactionary one. They did not wish to endorse a referendum, which the Tories would have the power to frame the question. And this is particularly because of the xenophobic and racist atmosphere one which the initial Brexit vote was based. Panitch states that he is a great critic of the European Union, but he would have voted to remain because the debate was being led by the xenophobic right. He ends by saying that capital is afraid of the Trumps of this world, and it is because of the mess the right has made of things here in Britain with the Brexit campaign that capital might give a little bit more space for a period at least to a Corbyn government.

This latter section on Brexit is now largely obsolete because Labour has said it will support a second referendum. However, it does a good job of explaining why many Labour supporters did vote for Brexit. The editor of Lobster, Robin Ramsay, is also extremely critical of the European Union because of the way neoliberalism and a concern for capital and privatization is so much a part of its constitution.

Otherwise, these are very, very strong policies, and if they are implemented, will be a very positive step to raising people out of poverty and improving the economy. Regarding the possibility that the representatives of the workers on the company boards would ally themselves with capital against the workers, who put them there, has long been recognized by scholars discussing the issue of workers’ control of industry. It was to stop this happening that the government of the former Yugoslavia insisted that regular elections should be held with limited periods of service so that the worker-directors would rotate. Ha-Joon Chan in his books criticizing neoliberal economics also makes the points that in countries like France and Germany, where the state owns a larger proportion of firms and workers are involved in their companies through workers’ control, there is far more long-term planning and concern for the companies success. The state and the workers have a continuing, abiding interest in these firms success, which is not the case with ordinary investors, who will remove their money if they think they can get a better return elsewhere.

My concern is that these policies will be undermined by a concentrated, protracted economic warfare carried out against the Labour party and the success of these policies by capital, the CBI and the Tories, just as the Tories tried to encourage their friends in industry to do in speeches from Tweezer’s chancellors. These policies are desperately needed, but the Tory party and the CBI are eager to keep British workers, the unemployed and disabled in poverty and misery, in order to maintain their control over them and maximise profits.

Jim Lobe on Who Funds AIPAC

September 23, 2018

This is a short, five minute clip from The Real News, based in Boston, put on YouTube ten years ago in 2008. It’s an extract from a longer interview with Jim Lobe, the bureau chief of the Inter press Service in Washington, about the Neocons, the Israel lobby and their power in the US. In this clip, they ask Lobe who’s funding AIPAC, one of the main organisations in the Israel lobby in America.

Lobe replies that one of them is Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate. Adelson owns the Las Vegas Sands in Las Vegas, has opened casinos in Macao, and is the third wealthiest America with a fortune worth between $12 and $30 billion. He offered to be the major donor for AIPAC’s new building. He’s very close to Benjamin Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky, who is part of the Shalem Centre, a Natanyahu/Likud front thinktank in Israel. Adelson founded his own institute, the Adelson institute in Israel, which is headed by Sharansky. He’s also the biggest contributor to the Republican Jewish Coalition, a very Neoconservative, pro-Likudist group, and was also a founder and by far the biggest contributor to another lobby group, Freedomswatch, which was aiming to influence the Congressional races in November 2009.

Lobe says that there are also other, very wealthy contributors, and recommends that the interviewer talks to Michael Massing, who has written quite a bit on the Israel lobby as a kind of corrective to the Walt Mearsheimer thesis first published in the London Review of Books. Asked about Mearsheimer’s views, Lobe replies that they’re putting the issue of the influence of the Israel lobby – that is the confluence of American presidents, AIPAC, the really big organisations, on US policy into the debate – is absolutely critical, particularly under this Bush administration. What we’ve seen is things go seriously, seriously bad in the Middle East, and that a lot of that is due to the policies that these large, very influential American Jewish organisations have first endorsed, then pushed.

Their ( Mearsheimer’s) idea of Israel is something along the two-state solution and getting it done. And they see Israel without such a solution still holding onto Arab lands and so on, as a serious drag on US foreign policy success, as a detriment in the region. They took a realist position, but not one Lobe feels compromises or would compromise Israel’s security so long as it defines its borders more modestly than it does at the present time. Lobe thinks that they were saying that support for Israel should not be unconditional, that there should be clear conditions put on that support, which Israel can either accept or reject. But their main point was that the influence of the Israel lobby, particularly organisations such as this, on Congress, was distorting American interests because the support for Israel in Congress is essentially unconditional, and that’s not getting the US anywhere. It’s also undermining Israel’s security in the long-term. Lobe says that there isn’t much to disagree with in that assessment, or at least Lobe himself says he doesn’t disagree with it much.

Of course, the Israel lobby isn’t confined to American Jews. It also includes Christians, like Ted Hagee’s Christians United For Israel, while many American Jews are becoming increasingly alienated and critical of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.

The Real News on AIPAC’s Suppression of Al-Jazeera Documentary on Israel Lobby

September 18, 2018

This is another video about the Israel lobby in the US from the Boston-based The Real News Network, posted on YouTube in March 2018. In it, presented Aaron Mate talks to Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada about Al-Jazeera’s documentary about America’s Israel lobby, and AIPAC’s efforts to suppress it.

AIPAC is one of the main pro-Israel lobbying organisations in the US. I’ve already put up a video by Dena Takruri of AJ+, YouTube’s companion channel to Al-Jazeera, of what she saw when she attended AIPAC’s annual conference way back in 2016. The conference was attended by all the presidential candidates, including Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, all pledging their total support for Israel. The only one, who didn’t attend, was Bernie Sanders.

The video opens with a clip of Democrat congressman Chuck Schumer making an incredibly ignorant speech at AIPAC, in which he claims that the reason why there isn’t peace between Israel and the Palestinians is because the Palestinians don’t have the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament. They don’t want a Jewish state at all, and that’s because they don’t have the Torah, which supports it.

Mate states that this also reveals another reason why there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinians: liberal politicians in the US hold extremist position on Israel.

He then move on to talk about Al-Jazeera’s suppressed documentary about the US Israel lobby. After their documentary, The Lobby, which exposed officials at the Israel embassy in Britain conspiring with members of the British civil service to take down politicians that were insufficiently supportive of Israel, Al-Jazeera decided to make a similar documentary about the Israel lobby in the US. They sent undercover reporters into AIPAC and other organisations. Although the documentary they produced has not been released, the identities of the reporters themselves has become known. They were reported by the newspaper Haaretz in Israel, and some Jewish newspapers in the US.

Amongst other things, they found that the Neocon organization, the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies collaborates with the Israeli embassy and acts as a front for the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The documentary’s revelations are apparently so damaging to the Israel lobby, that they have sent a succession of their officials to Qatar. They haven’t said that they are trying to put pressure on the Qatari government to suppress the documentary, but it seems that this is what they’re doing.

The Foundation for the Defence of Democracies also spies on anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups and compiles lists of their members. Al-Jazeera also recorded its chief, Jonathan Schanzer, openly admitting that they smear critics of Israel and pro-Palestinian activists as anti-Semites as a weapon to defend Israel. However, he also says later in the video that this strategy is no longer as effective as it once was. Winstanley states that this is also damaging to the Israel lobby, as it wants to appear powerful and hegemonic.

Since the documentary was filmed, AIPAC and the other organisations have been trying to get the government to register Al-Jazeera as a foreign agent, in the same way that they forced, or tried to force, RT as an agent of Putin and the Russian government. But the FDD should also be forced to register because of its very strong links to the Israeli government. But there has been absolutely no moves to do so.

It’s clear that if the whole documentary was aired, it would be extremely damaging to the American Israel lobby and considerably embarrassing for the Israelis. It would seriously discredit their attacks on pro-Palestinian activists.

It’s particularly a pity that the clip of Jonathan Schanzer brazenly stating that they smear their opponents as anti-Semites hasn’t been shown. This should be posted up everywhere and go viral, as it would do immense damage not just to the American smear campaign, but also to its British counterpart against pro-Palestinian activists over here, and to Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party.

The Real News on Israel’s Arming of the Fascist Azov Battalion in Ukraine

July 9, 2018

This is something that won’t surprise critics and opponents of Israel such as Tony Greenstein. But I doubt you’re going to find it reported any time soon in the mainstream news, because, according to the Israel lobby, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, reporting or repeating any of Israel’s well-documented historical connections to real, genuine Fascism and Nazism is ‘anti-Semitic’. The show notes that the mainstream press are beginning to cover Fascism in the Ukraine. But even so, it’s going to be a very long time before they cover this.

In this edition of the Real News, host Ben Norton talks to the journalist Max Blumenthal about Asa Winstanley’s article in the Electronic Intifada revealing that the Israelis have sold arms to Ukraine’s Azov Battalion. The sales were uncovered by human rights lawyers in Israel, and the guns themselves shown off by the Azov Battalion itself on their own website. These are tavor rifles, very distinctive weapons issued to Israeli squaddies. They replaced the Uzi, and were used against some of the protestors in Gaza.

Blumenthal and Norton talk about the Azov Battalion, which adopts the Wolfsangel insignia of the WW2 SS auxiliaries. It was founded by Biletsky, as part of the National Patriot movement, which was itself part of the Social Nationalist Party. Members of the Battalion also wear SS tattoos, and have been photographed giving the stiff right arm Nazi salute. The organisation runs paramilitary training camps, including for children. They are anti-Semites, islamophobic and White supremacist. They have launched attacks on Roma and Jews. The organisation has now been incorporated into the Ukrainian armed forces, which gives Israel some plausible deniability, in that they can claim they are giving aid to Ukraine, not neo-Nazis. But it’s a very specious, thin defence.

Biletsky himself has said that he intends to restore the honour of the White race. He declared that if he got into power, he would abolish the Ukrainian parliament. The ethnic cleansing of Ukraine is the first step in their campaign of ‘Reconquista’, bring the race war to the rest of Europe in order to cleanse them of Jews, Roma and non-Whites. Monto, a western Fascist was arrested when tried travelling to Ukraine to join the Battalion. He intended to return to France to launch attacks on synagogues and mosques.

The Azov Battalion has also been given aid by the Canadians. They recently sent a military attache over there to hold talks with the Battalion’s leaders. When questioned on this, they said it would increase plurality and personal tolerance. Blumenthal points out that the current Canadian foreign minister, Freeland, is a Ukrainians, whose father was a Fascist collaborator, who was recruited over here during the Cold War. When three Russian diplomats had the temerity to point it out, Justin Trudeau expelled them, rather than remove Freeland.

Blumenthal also suggests that the Israelis in this case may be just proxies for American itself. He describes how, in the 1980s, Congress tried to halt arms sales to South American Fascists, such as the Contras in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and the Fascist regime in Guatemala, by demanding that the president personally sign any order to do so. As a result, Reagan’s regime turned instead to using the Israelis to convey arms to them. And the South American Fascist were hugely appreciative. Rios Montt, one of the leaders of these truly genocidal regimes, declared fulsomely that his regime and its death squads were full participants in the ‘spirit of Israel’ and went on to praise the Israeli state.

This is the reason, Blumenthal concludes, why he is not surprised that Israel should now be sending arms to a violently anti-Semitic Nazi organisation, despite the way it purports and postures as the defenders of Jews everywhere.

Here’s the clip:

It’s been the argument of Tony Greenstein and the other principled critics of Israel, like Asa Winstanley, that Israel has never cared about defending Jews from Fascism, except when there is a possibility that some would move to Israel. There are numerous statements from the earliest Zionist leaders stating that if all the Jews in Europe moved to England to escape the Holocaust and survived, they would far prefer it if only half survived and the rest moved to Israel. During the Second World War, Kasztner, the leader of the Zionists in Hungary, made a deal to send tens of thousands of Jews to the death camps in order that the Nazis would send some few to Israel.

This is the shameful history the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement and the rest of the Israel lobby are trying to hide when they smear decent people, who dare to talk about it. Like Red Ken and his comments about the Haavara Agreement.

The Azov Battalion and the regime it serves are Nazis. As well as Jews and Roma, they are also attacking pro-Russian Ukrainians and ethnic Russians in the east of the country. And it looks like they’re being used as proxies in a war against Putin.

Putin is a thug, no question. But these guys are worse. They’re true Nazis. And no regime or organisation that genuinely respects human rights, and cares for the safety of Jews, Muslims, Gypsies, blacks or any other ethnic minority, should be giving them any form of aid or succour.

Proud Haitians Defend Country as Free Black Republic after Trump’s ‘Sh*thole Countries’ Comments

January 14, 2018

Yesterday there were mass demonstrations in America, and expressions of outrage around the rest of the world at Trump’s grotesque comments about immigrants to America from ‘sh*thole countries’. As Mike put up on his blog, one of the countries that was most definitely not impressed was Botswana in Africa. This tiny African state, with a population of 2 million, has, as Mike pointed out, the highest growth rate in Africa, and a tradition of stable democratic government. It’s a developing nation, but definitely not a ‘sh*thole’. And the country’s authorities seemed determined to make that point when they called the American ambassador in to explain if their nation was one of the countries Trump was sneering at.

I was particularly impressed by a young Haitian woman, who appeared on the BBC news yesterday when the Corporation covered a demonstration against Trump and his racist comments in Florida. She stated that Haitians were a proud people, and that their country became the first Black republic, where the slaves overthrew their masters. She’s absolutely right. Modern Haiti was created by the ‘Black Jacobins’ under Toussaint Louverture, who organised a slave revolt inspired by the Revolution in France. Haiti had been a French colony, but they toppled colonial rule, and threw the French out. Louverture then renamed the country ‘Haiti’, rather than continue using the old French/ European colonial name, justifying the change by claiming that this was the indigenous name for it.

Lourverture’s revolution sent a shock wave throughout the Caribbean and America. It was an inspiration to Blacks struggling for their freedom, and alarmed the colonial authorities. The late 18th and early 19th centuries saw a series of slave revolts break out in the Caribbean, by enslaved people impatient for their freedom. These were ruthlessly and brutally suppressed, as the colonial authorities feared the influence of Haiti upon their enslaved subjects, and that the slaves would be in contact with the Haitian revolutionaries. And some free Black Americans moved to Haiti after they obtained their freedom. Major Moody, a British army officer, who was sent to the Caribbean in the 1820s to produce a report on whether the enslaved people of the British colonies were ready for emancipation, includes in his report correspondence between a Black American, who had done this, and his former mistress in America, who had freed him.

Haiti is a desperately poor country, as has been shown by the suffering and destruction it has sustained in recent years through a series of disasters. But much of this poverty and deprivation comes from American imperial intervention. The Americans invaded in the 1920s as part of their campaign to assert their dominance over the Caribbean, and defend their economic interests. And they’ve done the same thing at various intervals throughout the 20th and now the 21st century. A little while ago I found a piece on YouTube – I think it might have been by Abby Martin of TeleSur English’s The Empire Files, or it could have been the Real News people, which made the point that when the Americans invaded again a few years ago to overthrow the latest dictator, it wasn’t because of his human rights record. Rather, it was because he was redistributing wealth, which threatened American corporate interests once again. And the dictator’s left-wing opponent was kept from standing and taking over office through armed soldiers posted outside his house. It was the same pattern of invasion and coup that has been repeated over and over again, around the world, whenever a smaller, weaker country elects anyone remotely left-wing, or otherwise threatens the dominance of the big American corporations in their country’s economy. Just like Hillary Clinton five years ago in 2012 gave her backing to the Fascist coup which overthrew the liberal regime in Honduras.

One peculiar consequence of the American invasion of Haiti has been the rise of the zombie movie. The first of these appeared shortly after the 1920s American invasion, and left-wing, anti-colonial critics have argued that the movies represent an attempt by the country’s new colonial masters to present a picture of it as a terrifying land, steeped in superstition and black magic. Since then the zombie movie has moved away from Haiti to America itself, and under George A. Romero also developed satirical overtones criticising contemporary American society and capitalism. Like in one of his movies, the survivors seeks refuge in a mall.

Trump’s comments were offensive, and they clearly stung the pride of migrants to America, who nevertheless still felt strong bonds with their countries of origin, as well as the other peoples in the Developing World. But the young Haitian woman speaking up for her mother country made a very good point about how important it was for Black history. And if many of these countries are poor, ruled over by brutal, corrupt governments responsible for human rights abuses, one of the reasons is because the Americans have assisted these thugs into power to stop any redistribution of wealth or growth of democracy. All under the guise of protecting the world from the threat of Communism, and upholding American corporate interests. People around the world have been demanding that Trump apologise for his comments. They’re right, but it’s not just his comments that need to be critically analysed and opposed. It’s American imperialism itself, and the underlying cynical contempt for the nations of the Developing World and their people, who are there to be abused and sneered at in the interests of American corporate capitalism.