Tag Archives: Arab

Israel’s Arab MPs back Corbyn – and oppose IHRA definition – in antisemitism row

In a Knesset session, Arab MPs protest against recent legislation that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

If your knee-jerk reaction to the headline is, “They would, wouldn’t they?” then you need to read what follows.

You see, the letter from the Joint List MPs in the Israeli Knesset – who include one Jewish representative – could really put the cat among the pigeons.

It highlights the double-standard of a UK organisation setting Jews above all other minorities – giving them protections available to nobody else – when the self-defined “nation-state of the Jewish people” has just stolen rights from all minorities in Israel.

It highlights the fact that the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism – which the Labour Party in the UK is under extreme pressure to adopt in full – prohibits opposition to Zionism, which is not a characteristic of Judaism but a political philosophy that, as characterised by the government of Israel, is racist.

Where does this put those in the UK who are demanding that Labour adopt the IHRA definition?

Where does it put Gordon Brown, who has put pressure on Labour’s NEC to adopt IHRA in full, “unanimously, unequivocally and immediately”, saying Labour is all about equality and solidarity?

IHRA would grant Jewish people more privileges than any other minority in the UK. That’s not equality. The demand that Labour supports Zionism is not solidarity.

It would be collusion in racism, as the Joint List letter makes clear.

Where does it put Margaret Hodge, who has admitted that the anti-Semitism row in the Labour Party is about right-wingers like herself and Mr Brown trying to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party?

She said: “The problem is that he is the problem.”

It puts them on particularly weak territory.

And where does it put Labour’s National Executive Committee, which is due to vote in a meeting on Tuesday, on whether to adopt the full IHRA definition, with all its examples including support for Zionism with all the implications of support for racism that it entails?

If it supports the change, the NEC will be deliberately provoking constituency party units that have supported the current code of conduct, which supports the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism but omits some examples in favour of explanations that improve on those put forward by the IHRA – removing ambiguities that prohibit criticism of Zionism and/or policies of the Israeli government?

It leaves them up to their necks in the… soup.

If they support a move to describe criticism of racist Israeli policies as anti-Semitic; if they support demands to prohibit criticism of the racist, land-grabbing and genocidal political philosophy that supports such policies; if they support self-determination for Jewish people but not for Palestinians…

They will be worse than those who are demanding it of them – because they will be silencing international condemnation that may be the only way to prevent the name of Palestine becoming just another entry in a history book – and the Palestinian people being the victims of another avoidable genocide.

A political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties in Israel’s parliament have broken ranks with fellow legislators to announce their support for Jeremy Corbyn.

In a letter to the Guardian, the Knesset members said they commended the Labour leader for “his long-standing solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people”.

They added: “We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and we recognise him as a principled leftist leader who aspires for peace and justice and is opposed to all forms of racism, whether directed at Jews, Palestinians, or any other group.”

“As long as efforts to curb anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK are focused on combating the disparagement of Jews merely for their membership in a minority group, they have our full support,” said the group, which includes the deputy speaker, Ahmad Tibi. But they added that the definition of antisemitism “goes far beyond anti-Jewish animus to include anti-Zionism”.

Arab and other minorities in Israel have felt under threat after the Knesset passed a law in July declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination, encouraging Jewish settlement, and downgrading the status of the Arabic language.

The Joint List letter said Palestinian citizens of Israel have “yet to experience a single day of equality”, adding that millions more in the West Bank live under occupation and “under siege in the Gaza Strip”.

“Incredibly, instead of taking that government to task for its unadulterated racism, the British political class ignores the Palestinian historical plight,” it said. “With the Netanyahu government ramping up the racism, our struggle for survival is more precarious than ever.”

Source: Israel’s Arab MPs back Corbyn in antisemitism row | World news | The Guardian

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Lipman gave the game away at protest against anti-Semitism

Maureen Lipman: You’d think a performer of her standing would know the danger in ill-advised words.

Actress Maureen Lipman gave the fake crusade against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party a shot in the foot on Sunday when she accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour members of opposing – not Jews, but Israel.

Opposition to the actions of the Israeli state is not anti-Semitism and never has been considered to be – at least, not by reasonable people. How could it be, when we see so many examples of Israelis behaving like this? The Campaign Against Antisemitism, which organised the demonstration on Sunday where Ms Lipman made her ill-advised comment, has a somewhat problematic position on the matter – as, of course, must the various Parliamentary ‘Friends of Israel’ organisations which are constituted to support the nation, not the Jewish religious/ethnic group.

Here’s Ms Lipman, talking herself into accusing Mr Corbyn of hating Israel and supporting Arabs:

One of the proposals for future ways in which Labour should tackle anti-Semitism is, of course, education – to ensure that members know what currently constitutes this attitude. But some of us are there already. Not only do we know what it is – we know what it isn’t, and we know what it means when people talk about it in a certain way:

Ms Lipman, of course, courted ridicule at the demonstration when she said Mr Corbyn was the reason she left the Labour Party. She had said the same thing about Ed Miliband in 2014, a fact that was – conveniently? – forgotten by certain newspapers (note the name of the paper mentioned below)…

… but not by members of the public…

…who, of course, found a unique way to remind the mainstream media’s representatives – who should have been reporting this to the public anyway:

This issue has always been about misrepresentation, though – misrepresentation of Jeremy Corbyn and notable Labour members (including myself) as aggressors; misrepresentation of Jews as victims (a position against which many right-thinking Jews have taken offence).

Result: British Jews are divided and the British public is disinterested. Who profits from that?


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Here’s the best video on Jews, Arabs, Israel and Palestine for a long time. See for yourself

This is uplifting because it’s not about hate, but about understanding.

See for yourself – and don’t be fooled by the title:

We must always remember that there is a solution to the situation between Jews and Arabs in Israel, Palestine, or whatever you want to call that much-disputed land in the Middle East.

And it can be found, if people just put away their preconceptions, hang up their hate for a while, and try – I don’t know – talking for a while.

Maybe they could start by talking about the weather, as suggested in the video! It’d be a start.

Let’s see more communication like this, please – and less of the hate that we’ve had for so long.

I’d be especially keen to run a video along the same lines from a Jewish point of view – or from that of people who don’t belong to either ethnicity but live in the same area. How about it?


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Uncomfortable facts that should be addressed – not just on Holocaust Memorial Day but every day

A woman and a man at the memorial plaque at Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany [Image: Jens Schlueter/Getty Images].

Here‘s a worthwhile article on the Beastrabban blog, making an important point about the way the scope of Holocaust Memorial Day seems to have been limited.

Today is, I believe, Holocaust Remembrance Day, when the world, or at least the Western world, reflects on the Shoah and the calculated extermination of six million Jews.

As we commemorate the sufferings of the Jews during the Nazi regime, we also need to take on board that it isn’t just about anti-Semitism, but about similar horrors that have disfigured human history down the centuries, and murderous, criminal regimes that are perpetrating them today.

Just so. The Nazi Holocaust, the killing of millions of Jews, and the way in which they were murdered, should never be forgotten. But part of this remembrance must involve recognition that similar hate-motivated atrocities can happen – and are happening – even now.

Unfortunately, there are some highly vocal people who seem to want to mask this fact, as we have seen on This Site over the last few days.

Holocaust Remembrance Day isn’t just about commemorating the Holocaust and its victims, but other genocides and their victims that have occurred throughout history. Hitler partly made his decision to go ahead with the extermination of the Jews because of the complete lack of western reaction to the Young Turks’ massacre of the Armenians. He commented, ‘Who remembers the Armenians?’ And before then, the German colonial authorities in what is now Tanganyika had attempted to exterminate the Herrero after they revolted, using similar eugenicist logic.

It is … important to remember the other victims of the Nazi camps as well.

This included the congenitally disabled, who were murdered by Nazi doctors under the Aktion T4 programme with the assistance and supervision of the SS… This prefigured and prepared for the murder of the Jews, particularly in the use of poison gas.

I made the point that disabled people are being persecuted to their deaths by the Conservative government in the United Kingdom – right now – in a response to comments in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday (January 24).

And what initial response did I receive?

Denial. And denial is one of the ten stages of genocide, as we all know from the Holocaust Memorial Day website. Right?

The Nazis also attempted to exterminate the Romanies – the Gypsies – as they too were considered, like the Jews, to be subhuman and a threat to German society and racial industry.

Other victims of the camps included the mentally ill, neurotics, prostitutes, recidivist criminals, Prisoners of War, and political prisoners, such as trade unionists, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, gay men, and slave workers from the Slav nations. The last were worked to death in horrific conditions, including building the Nazi fortifications and tunnels in the Channel Islands.

The Holocaust Memorial Day website devotes a couple of paragraphs on a page to these victims of the Nazi Holocaust. The highest estimate of the death figures shows they outnumber Jewish victims by a ratio of nearly two to one.

The website also devotes several pages each to the genocides in Cambodia, Darfur, Bosnia and Rwanda, and mentions the atrocities against Armenians which encouraged Hitler to commit his own.

It omits many other genocides, both recent and historical.

Nothing is said about the indigenous people of America, for example. Those of you who are aware of the HMD website may not even know there is a site for Aztec Natives, which makes the following pertinent point:

“The Mexican people are the descendants and the end product of five centuries of genocide – the greatest Holocaust in human history. Over 100 million of our ancestors, i.e. at least 90% of natives were killed.”

100 million dead, and no commemoration on Holocaust Memorial Day. It seems some groups have stronger public relations people than others.

Genocides have continued to be perpetrated, such as the various crimes against humanity committed by Fascist regimes across Latin America, Asia and Africa, supported by American foreign policy. The persecution of the Rohingya is just the latest of these.

Isn’t it interesting how we can identify the wrongdoings of people in other countries, yet we say nothing about what’s happening in our own? “It couldn’t happen here”, as the saying goes.

It has; it does; it is.

Those who deny it are complicit.

Fortunately, the Beastrabban piece provides a ray of hope. We see that not everybody supports the overwhelming concentration of attention on the Nazi Holocaust, and it is important to note that Jewish scholars are among those leading the way in this regard.

And Jews have been involved in protesting and commemorating them and their victims as well. In Canada, the leader of the mainstream Jewish organisation, Bernie Farber, organised a ‘Shabbat for Darfur’ after that city was attacked by the Islamist Janjaweed Militia in the early part of this century. Farber’s generous action has been bitterly criticised by members of the transatlantic conservative Right, who feel that Jews should concentrate solely on their own sufferings in the Holocaust, and not expand their experience of suffering, persecution and attempted genocide to form solidarity with the other persecuted ethnic and religious groups.

Why not form solidarity with other persecuted groups? We all know there is strength in numbers. Is it because making such connections might reveal uncomfortable truths about events closer to home?

Israeli scholars have also noted that the Holocaust, while horrific, was not a unique event. See Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review, edited by Israel W. Charny, the executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust, Jerusalem, and Director of Postgraduate Interdisplinary and Graduate Social Work Programs in Family, Therapy, Bob Shapell School of Social Work, Tel Aviv University. Dr. Charny’s book also includes a chapter on the ethnic cleansing of Israel’s indigenous Arab population, which is definitely unwelcome to the Likudniks.

But it bears out Ilan Pappe’s assertion that Israelis are still decent people, who need to have the situation and issues properly explained to them. But odiously, Netanyahu, Likud and other ethno-nationalists in his ruling coalition are doing all they can to prevent that occurring. As are his little helpers over here in the shape of the Jewish Labour Movement and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.

Food for thought, I hope. But I wonder if critics of This Site and This Writer will be able to forgive me for including more groups in my own commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day than they do.

Source: Wishing Everyone a Solemn and Reflective Holocaust Remembrance Day | Beastrabban\’s Weblog


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Life and death issues – Labour’s living wage v another Tory weapons junket

We’re all about the money: David Cameron is in the Middle East, hawking our jet fighters to foreign powers.

It’s a matter of priorities.

On the left hand, we have the Labour Party, campaigning strongly for the so-called “living wage” – an earnings level for British workers that will provide enough for them to look after their families, heat their homes, feed their kids, care for their elderly relatives and plan for the future (as Ed Miliband was set to say at a speech today).

On the right hand, we have Conservative leader (and comedy Prime Minister) David Cameron, off on a junket to the Middle East in a bid to sell Typhoon fighter jets to Arab nations.

… Because that always works well for us, doesn’t it? (/sarcasm)

Conservatives have been selling weapons to foreign countries for decades. We know that 16 British firms were listed as having supplied arms to Iraq (the information is in a 12,000-page dossier the Iraqis kindly supplied to the UN in 2003). It has been alleged that one of the arms dealers involved in those sales was Mark Thatcher, son of the former Conservative Prime Minister. It’s a certainty that these companies were making their sales while the Conservatives were in power during the 1980s and 1990s, and probably benefited from Conservative government trade missions.

Perceptive readers will, at this point, assert that Labour governments have also sold to foreign powers, and this is true. I have been able to find evidence of sales to India and to Israel during Tony Blair’s controversial premiership.

It’s a very murky subject and nobody in British politics can say their hands are clean.

The best I can suggest is that Labour didn’t sell arms to anyone who was likely to use them on British citizens. The Conservatives were indiscriminate (and we know – or at least have good reason to believe – that arms sold to Iraq were indeed used against British soldiers).

Cameron himself has already earned adverse media coverage for selling arms to countries with questionable human rights records – in other words, those that might use those weapons on their own citizens. He has tried to talk these claims down –

– but it is telling that he has made damn sure there will be minimal media coverage of this trip. Downing Street has spent two years trying to restrict media access to the PM’s overseas visits, making him the only G7 leader who is not accompanied abroad by a full press corps. The preferred total is just one broadcaster (presumably, one who has been specially selected by Downing Street and who is, therefore “one of us”).

The deals Cameron hopes to make are said to be worth more than £6 billion to the UK. However, considering this government’s miserable record in tackling tax evasion and avoidance, one wonders how much of that will make it into the Treasury.

Contrast this secrecy with the full-on publicity campaign for the living wage, under way courtesy of Ed Miliband and the Labour Party, here in Blighty. The living wage is £7.45 per hour (outside London; £8.30 within the capital) – only a little more than £1 above the minimum wage, but it could make a big difference to workers across the country.

For every £1 spent in the private sector on getting workers up to the living wage, around 50 pence of that would come back to the government in savings on tax credits and benefits, and in higher tax revenue. In other words, it would help pay off the national deficit and debt.

“The living wage isn’t an idea that came from politicians,” says Mr Miliband in his speech today. “Or from academics in thinktanks.

“It came from working people themselves. People who recognised that they were giving their all for organisations that could afford to pay just a little bit more to give dignity to them, but who weren’t doing so. People who recognised that their firms might be more likely to succeed if they did.

“Our economy is not working for working people but just for a few at the top – a few taking ever-more of a share of the national cake, while other people struggle more and more to make ends meet.

Mr Cameron’s arms junket is living proof of the truth of those words.

Postscript: In his speech, Mr Miliband lists Labour councils that have introduced the living wage. I’m happy to add that Powys County Council, although independently-run, has pledged to research the possibility of introducing the living wage at the earliest opportunity.