Sunday, July 31, 2011

Class will out! Or so we hope.

THERE he was, Binyamin Netanyahu, beaming with pride that there were no mass demonstrations on the streets against his government, like those that had erupted across the Arab world.

Not even like those in Spain or Greece.

That his Israel was a stable democracy. Well, if you forget the three million or so Palestinians over whom it has ruled as occupier for forty-four years, yes it is a democracy of sorts.

But any illusion in it as an oasis of social peace has been blown through by the desert wind, Netanyahu should be sorry that he spoke. More than 150,000 Israelis have been exercising their democratic right to demonstrate on the streets for another basic right, to a decent place at a price they can afford. This weekend they began calling for Netanyahu to go.

Here's Netanyahu, not rescuing any hostages but giving one to fortune:

Because the housing demonstrations began so broad, uniting all sorts of people on a single issue, some of the organisers said they were "not political", just raising a human issue. The peace group Gush Shalom begged to differ, in one of its weekly ads in the newspaper Ha'aretz, designed to make people think:

Housing there - or here?

Thousands of young people
Demonstrate against
The housing prices.
Some say:
"This is not a political issue"

That is a mistake:
There is a direct connection
Between the huge
State investments
In the settlements –
And the lack of housing
All over Israel.

Published in Haaretz - July 22, 2011

What has sparked the housing protests was a government-backed bill in the Knesset encouraging private development and housebuilding for the rich.

At the outset the mass demonstration in Tel Aviv had political, as well as social, ripples, if not by advancing directly to unity between Israeli Jewish workers and Palestinian people, as leftists might hope, but by raising a class issue, housing for all, that could shove aside the racists who had been diverting social tension in poor south Tel Aviv neighbourhoods into hostility to Arabs and non-Jewish immigrants.

At first, media reporters reassured readers with reference to the respectable "middle-class", i.e. university educated character of many of the demonstrators, whose evocations of Tahrir Square might have seemed belied by the neat lines of proper camping tents that appeared to make up their tent cities.

Reports on the alternative +972 news site suggest a different picture. Here it is describing the demo in Tel Aviv last week:

Dimi writes:

Hundreds of protesters for social justice clashed with police in central Tel Aviv tonight under chants of revolution and signs reading “Mubarak. Assad. Netanyahu.” Some 42 people were arrested, a rare if not unprecedented number for a Tel Aviv demonstration on any issue.

After a huge turnout to a well-organized march (estimates vary between the 20 and the 40 thousand ), a clash began as the demonstrators were dispersing. Eyewitnesses said one person was detained, which prompted several dozen people to block the Kaplan-Ibn Gvirol intersection, a major junction in central Tel Aviv. The crowd quickly grew into hundreds, who camped out in the middle of the intersection, barricading it with barriers “borrowed” from nearby repair works. The crowd chanted slogans in favour of the police, pointing out they, too, can’t afford decent housing with their miserly salaries. Others spoke to policemen, encouraging them to fight for the right to unionise (which policemen in Israel are banned from by law). Eventually, police cleaned up the junction using selective arrests, mounted police and motorcycles. This assault was met with indignation by the crowd, who briefly lodged beer cans at the police, but the protesters quickly regained their composure and began singing pro-police and pro social justice slogans, punctuated with “Revolution! Revolution! Revolution” and “Non-violence! Non-violence!”.

UPDATE: 43 people were arrested by police following the demo.

Dahlia reports on the demonstration preceding the clash:

The demonstration on Saturday night in Tel Aviv spearheaded by the housing tent-protest leaders, had everything in it but the kitchen sink. Among the over ten thousand who attended, as reported by Haaretz (since I’m not much of a crowd-counter), there were representatives from the housing protestors, feminist groups, social workers, teachers and probably doctors or medical residents too, also striking this week, although I can’t be sure; the speakers on the stage in the plaza outside the Tel Aviv Art Museum (Rabin Square is under renovation) even remembered to mention elderly Holocaust survivors, and everything was translated into sign language. The only thing missing was, for me, the critical thing: a strong cry in support of democracy, rejection of the boycott law and every other legislation to threaten our freedom. Ah, yes, and a coherent message in general.

The crowd was huge, angry and wanted to show it. The feeling was markedly different from the calm, jovial familiarity of the more intimate left-wing gatherings: the enormous surge of people stalking up Ibn Gavirol Street in central Tel Aviv to the museum was sweaty, hyper, young and noise-making – music, drums, groovy dancing and all.

But the message, the message. A rundown of the signs and chants gives a sort of vague composite picture of a cry for socialism, especially if you take a few steps back and don’t look for fine resolution or details. The most common cry was “Welfare state!” and the demand for public housing. A sign that seemed ubiquitous said: “the market is free – are you?” Here were some others, signs and chants and slogans:

Danger, construction – for the rich

Bibi, wake up – women are more valuable (this rhymes in Hebrew)

The people want public housing

Welfare state now

The people are calling for social justice

The answer to privatization? Revolution!

This weekend the demonstrations in Israeli cities had evidently grown bigger and wider, attracting some of the poorest people, and so had the official demands, as reported in mainstream media. Here is Ilan Lior in Ha'aretz:

"Another organizer commented on Netanyahu’s response to protester demands. “The prime minister is trying to frighten the public, by claiming that social justice will cause economic collapse,” he said, “He should open his eyes and understand that the collapse is already here. It is the economic system itself that had collapsed. It is this collapse that had brought the people to the streets in protest, here and now.”

Yet another protest leader said that the government must immediately get involved in the housing market. She said they would like to see fair housing for all, achieved by the construction of public housing projects, in addition to government oversight over the rentals market.

The protesters are no longer limiting themselves to housing-related issues. They are also demanding a nation-wide free and egalitarian public school system from birth to matriculation, and government-backed financial aid for academic studies for those who need it.

The protesters also expressed their support for the doctors' protest saying all their demands are justified.

Though Netanyahu's broad-based, conservative governing coalition should keep him in office until the next election in 2013, polls show his personal approval rating has been plummeting.

As Netanyahu cancelled a visit to Poland aimed at lining up Israel's allies against Palestinian statehood, to try and cope with the domestic crisis, expressing "sympathy" for the young people but no change in policy, Gush Shalom's weekly ad made the connection between 'Bibi' at home and abroad:

Netanyahu promised

The young people,
Who are demonstrating
In their tens of thousands,
“Affordable housing”.

They don’t believe a word.

And why should they?
Where was the truth
In all his announcements –
From “evacuating outposts”
To “Two States”?

Published in Haaretz, July 29, 2011

Tens of thousands march through central Tel Aviv in protest at the high cost of living in Israel, July 30, 2011.

If the demonstration organisers have not recognised all the connections, the settler right-wing has, condemning the protesters for putting their aspirations to "normality" and a decent life for their children before the special, God-given and state subsidised task of conquest and expansion. This fear is understandable, and hopefully, will be justified. The number of young Israelis prepared to break the law by refusing to serve in the occupied territories is small. But the number whose willingness to subsidise and stand guard of the settlements is being tested by their lack of reward could be much greater. Unconvinced by Netanyahu conjuring up an external threat, they may lose patience with the usual tried catch-all argument of Israeli governments, the one word "security"

"We have to understand that we are moving away from a security mindset to a social mindset," Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said on the top-rated Channel Two television news. This when whatever diplomatic alliances and UN votes Netanyahu can amass against Palestinian independence will not stop a fresh Intifada. Besides which, Israel's stalwart backer the United States is not looking so all-powerful anymore.

"We see the talk about the debt crisis in Europe. We are even hearing talk of a possible default in the United States," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said. "My supreme duty is to ensure we do not reach this situation in the State of Israel."

Steinitz rejected calls for the authorities to curb industry chiefs, who are often accused of artificially inflating the price of consumer goods through cartels tolerated by Netanyahu and his predecessors (The housing demonstrations were preceded by a successful consumer boycott of cottage cheese to curb price rises, even as the government was reaching for legislation to outlaw the boycott of settlement produce).

For Likud stalwart Steinitz, it would seem defence of capitalist interests is as much a sacred duty as defence of the Torah and the territories is for his religious political allies. "We will not part with our principles. We will not create anarchy here," Steinitz told reporters. "We will attend to (market) concentration but we will not turn the rich and the business people and the investors and the industrialists into the enemies of the people, because they are part of a healthy economy."

As he was speaking news came that his ministry's director-general, Haim Shani, a man with experience running hi-tech industry, had resigned.

The Israeli demonstrations have been very mixed and confused. What else can we say about a crowd which waves the national flag, seen by Palestinians and sympathetic outsiders as a sign of oppression, along with the iconic portrait of Che Guevera! ?

But perhaps any big movement like this is bound to begin confused. When people are fed up with promises and take to the streets in these numbers they are not patiently sitting down to pen a thesis. On the other hand when they have once stepped out of routine acceptance they can learn pretty fast.

That the demonstrators have raised demands like public housing and free education when Labour in Israel, as in Britain, took part in the abandonment of such social democratic goals, may have some irony for the intellectual onlooker, but in no way invalidates the wish to claim them as rights.

With Bedouin in the Negev being told they must pay the state for the cost of repeatedly demolishing their homes, the movement must encompass everybody's rights if it is really to be for social justice. This is not only a moral question, and people are entitled to fight for their rights and living standards without being judged on some moral test. Better a confused movement than none at all, because it is a first step.

But while avoiding issues like the occupation may win adherents, it won't win trust. And it won't answer the questions of how, in a country which once had a powerful labour organisation in the Histadrut, with its own banks and a building co-operative that was the biggest contractor (now a capitalist-owned company), people are having to raise the need for social housing as if it was a new idea. What went wrong, and how do you change the pattern? "If I am not for myself, who is for me? But if I am only for myself, then what am I?" There are big questions to be answered if this movement is really to go forward. "And if not now, then when?" Fortunately, some comrades are seeking answers.

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wiesenthal fails to withdraw lies and tall tales about Norway

AS if home-grown nutters with guns killing the kids was not enough, Norwegians have had to contend with another kind of hate-stirring. coming from abroad, and it is not just the weekend thugs of the EDL and Walter Mitty knight crusaders with whom Breivik chatted on the internet, who are responsible.

In November 2004, a bunch of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant campaigners linked with Norway's Forum Against Islamisation and the Democrats' Party - a break away from the right-wing Progress Party - had what they thought was a smart idea for a stunt.

On the morning of November 9, the anniversary of Hitler's 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom against the Jews, a message posted on the Democrats' website claimed that Norway's Kristallnacht commemoration had been taken over by Jew-haters and left-wing "extremists". The Democrats therefore called on people to turn up that night with Israeli flags.

So you see, the gimmick we have seen adopted by EDL and Stop the Islamification of Europe in Britain is nothing new, even if some of the new friends of Zion here have had to roll down their sleeves to hide those embarrassing Nazi tattoos.

What made the Norwegian gesture more significant is that the organisers of the Oslo march had publicly stated they did not want any national flags carried, so as to avoid their event being marred by any clashes over the Middle East. The police were notified of this specification.

When the racists and Islaphobes turned up, they were accompanied by a couple called Erez Uriely and Rachel Suissa, from the Norwegian Israel Centre. Uriely wore a talit, a Jewish prayer shawl. Several Jewish people objected that he was both making a mockery of the religion and abusing the occasion of a Holocaust commemoration.

Prevented from joining the Kristallnacht march, and told by the police to go home, the right-wingers started screaming before they left, that the police were refusing to allow Jews to commemorate Kristallnacht.

That might have been the end of it. But Uriely and the Norwegian Israel Centre contacted the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles, with the story that Jews who had come with "some Norwegian friends" to take part in the commemoration had been kept away. The Wiesenthal Centre did not bother to check this for itself, but protested to the Norwegian ambassador in Washington. It put out a press statement claiming that the Kristallnacht commemoration in Norway had been made "judenrein" - a Nazi expression meaning rid of Jews.

The hue and cry about Norway was taken up and spread on the internet by various websites and bloggers, both anti-Islamic and pro-Zionist, AND THEIR VERSION REMAINS UP ON THE NET.

This is not the only time that the US-based outfit had taken it upon itself to interfere in the affairs of European countries and their Jewish communities. We have commented before on its international campaign against Ken Livingstone when he was mayor of London, attempting to turn his intemperate exchange with an Evening Standard reporter late one night into a major issue of antisemitism. Those who saw it differently, and Livingstone's apology to the reporter, were ignored.

In the Norwegian case, the Wiesenthal Centre made no effort to ascertain the views of the Norwegian Jewish community. Had it done so it would have learned that far from having any sympathy with Erez Uriely and his partner, Der Mosaiske Trossamfund (DMT), the official Jewish community in Oslo, had decided to exclude them because of their links and behaviour. The board of DMT said in a statement that the Forum Against Islamisation represented an ideology which the Jewish community, as a cultural and religious minority in Norwegian society could not accept.

Both the DMT and the Norwegian Association Against Antisemitism sent letters to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre trying to clear up what had actually happened in Oslo on Kristallnacht and correct its wrong impression. Apparently the American-based centre did not even bother to reply.
(Norway: Jewish community expels couple who marched with racists, report by Tor Bach, Searchlight magazine, January 2005).

Maybe the attitude of some big well-funded American organisations towards Jewish communities in other countries reproduces the arrogance of US imperialism towards these little countries. Norway is a NATO member, and has been part of the Western intervention in Afghanistan. But its Labour government is not right-wing enough for the American Right, either on social policies or treatment of minorities and immigrants.

To make matters worse, it has earned the enmity of the Israeli Right. Even the Oslo peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have come to be seen as a criminal affair by some of those now running Israel. Wasn't former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin murdered for his part in them? More recently the Norwegian government has come in for stick for showing sympathy for the Palestinians' rights, as when the state pension fund decided to withdraw investment from companies engaged in the Israeli military industries or profiting from the occupation.

Even allowing for the reactionary and lumpen attitudes that find widespread expression in internet discussions, it is not pleasant to read some Israelis' comments gloating on the Norwegian slaughter, alongside the more human expressions of sympathy.

That has been commented upon by J.J. Goldberg in the New York Jewish daily Forward:

"The Norway massacre has touched off a nasty war of words on the Israeli Internet over the meaning of the event and its implications for Israel. And I do mean nasty: Judging by the comments sections on the main Hebrew websites, the main questions under debate seem to be whether Norwegians deserve any sympathy from Israelis given the country’s pro-Palestinian policies, whether the killer deserves any sympathy given his self-declared intention of fighting Islamic extremism and, perhaps ironically, whether calling attention to this debate is in itself an anti-Israel or anti-Semitic act."

Israelis Debate on the Web: Did Norway Get What It Deserved?By J.J. Goldberg
Read more:

See also:

The idea of an alliance or Israeli backing for Europe's Islamophobes may be more a matter of wishful thinking by this section of the Far Right seeking sponsors, than reality. Even the EDL and its bonkers so-called "Jewish Division" have fallen apart, with tattooed Brazilian Roberta Moore announcing she must go elsewhere.

But there are connections at some levels, which cannot be ignored.

On the other hand the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which ignores what Jewish people and anti-racists tell it (just as it ignores Israelis advising against building its "Museum of Tolerance" over a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem) is in no way fitted to lead a struggle against antisemitism or any other form of prejudice.
A new book by Tom Segev reveals that Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was for years financed in his activities by Mossad. One can't help suspecting that whatever money was paid him is nothing compared to the sums paid into the Centre that bears his name. (Director Rabbi Marvin Hier became one of the best-paid CEOs of a 'non-profit' institution in the United States).

Is it worth it? The politicians and governments with whom it takes issue tend to be exclusively those that the Israeli government does not like. If it were concerned today with hunting down Nazi attitudes rather than witch-hunts then it would have to turn some attention to the Right in Israel, not to mention the United States.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, July 29, 2011

The "Lionheart" lies low in Malta.

AN anti-Muslim crusader who admits he might have inspired Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has been traced to Malta. Paul Ray, who blogs as "Lionheart", borrowing the soubriquet of King Richard I,was one of the founders of the English Defence League(EDL), but says he left England fearing arrest for inciting racial hatred.

Interviewed by Daily Telegraph reporters, Ray conceded that he had been in direct contact with Breivik online, “I am being implicated as his mentor. I definitely could have been his inspiration. ...But what he did was pure evil. I could never use what he has done to further my own beliefs.”

The Telegraph also discloses that Ray played host to Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair, former leader of the Ulster Freedom Fighters in Malta last February, adding that "He is also known to be friends with Nick Greger, a German “known as Nazi Nick,” who describes himself as a 'former neo-Nazi-leader, convicted terrorist, militiaman, artist, book writer and preacher;”.

It says Greger posted a video online them together with Adair on Youtube last year, titled “The Gathering.” The film shows them visiting historic churches around Malta, cut together with footage showing UFF terrorists and Greger with a Kalashnikov, set to a trance music track and illustrated with slides of Templar Knights.

Greger was a supporter of Liberian ruler Charles Taylor. Breivik claims to have travelled to the Ivory Coast and Liberia in 2002 telling his friend he was planning to “research the potential to smuggle blood diamonds and selling them in London.” In London soon afterwards, he said he had attended the founding meeting of the “Knights Templar Europe” explaining that he “joined the session after visiting one of the initial facilitators, a Serbian Crusader Commander and war hero, in Monrovia, Liberia.”

Breivik wrote that due to “EU persecution for alleged crimes against Muslims” the Serbian was “living at one point in Liberia.” This fits with reports that Serbian mercenaries, including members of the notorious Scorpions unit accused of the massacre at Srebrenica, had found further employment in Africa, both in Zaire (Congo) and Liberia. In his 1,500-page "compendium", Breivik wrote that his “assigned mentor” at the London meeting was “referred to as Richard (the Lionhearted).”

Paul Ray, originally from Luton, was arrested in Britain in 2008 over blog postings allegedly inciting racial hatred but said he was never charged. He left the country the same year.

Further information about Paul Ray comes from Richard Bartholomew's well-informed blog 'Notes on Religion' which says the Luton man played a part in the creation of the English Defence League, although he was quickly sidelined and created his own breakaway “St George Division”.

"He also moved to Malta, where his means of sustaining himself financially remain mysterious, and he became friends with Nick Greger, an ex-neo-Nazi (now reformed and with a black wife) who in turn is friends with the exiled Northern Ireland loyalist leader Johnny Adair. Ray and Greger at one point claimed that Adair would help them to reclaim leadership of the EDL; Ray has suggested that two of the EDL’s leaders are of Irish Catholic ethnic background and that there is a link with the IRA (this accusation explains why EDL leaders have been so keen in turn to claim a link between Ray and Breivik).

"Ray announced the launch of the “The Ancient Order of Templar Knights” in late 2009, to the irritation of an American blogger who uses that name; it is highly unlikely that there are more than a handful of members. One complicating factor is that someone has tried to create the impression that Ray is a neo-Nazi. In August 2009 I received an email from someone faking Ray’s identity and using a similar email address. The message directed me to a website which had reposted some of Ray’s blog posts along with a new posting praising the neo-Nazis of Stormfront; whoever did this obviously wanted me to write a bogus exposé, perhaps to cause trouble for Ray or perhaps to make me look foolish. A few weeks later, the real Ray complained on his site that someone had planted fake messages in his name on a website called RevolutionMuslim. It seems to me that a thorough police investigation exploring all avenues ought to check out who created this bogus site, and why. I have my own suspicions, based on other bogus communications I have received.

"By his own account, Ray was a petty criminal and drug addict in his youth, although he changed his ways after converting to Christianity. According to a Dunstable on Sunday news report from c.2000 (not online), he worked for a time with the police as a speaker in local schools warning against drugs, while running a computer business. Ray blames the failure of this business on local Muslim gangs, and this seems to have been his catalyst for becoming involved in political activism".

Today's Times also picks up on Paul Ray, but not on his connection with 'Mad Dog' Adair. Murdoch's newspaper also mentions a picture with an AK47 in Palestine. Maybe this is meant to leave readers with the impression Ray had some kind of connection with Palestinian guerrillas, but as Ray's 'Lionheart' blogs have made clear he had no sympathy with the Palestinians and was surprised to find them living near the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem.

Here is what Richard Bartholomew tells us:

"He first came to wider public notice in 2006, after claiming to have infiltrated the International Solidarity Movement while on a visit to Israel. Ray joined several foreigners who had come to Israel to be part of the ISM on a trip to Jericho in the West Bank, where they allowed themselves to be photographed posing with guns; Ray then forwarded these photos to Lee Kaplan’s Stop the ISM, which publicised them and described him as a “Stop the ISM operative” (The ISM responded here, stating that the individuals in the photos had acted on their own initiative, and “had not attended ISM’s mandatory intensive non-violence training and were new to the country” ). Ray later claimed that his actions also amounted to an exposé of Antifa, as Paul Stott explains (and debunks) here.

As well as “Ray”, Paul Ray uses the names “Paul Cinato” and “Paul Sonato”, and while undercover in Israel and the West Bank was “Paul Andrews”; “Ray” is reportedly his mother’s maiden name.

American anti-Muslim campaigner Pam Geller identified Ray as the Christian "sleuth" who had been the source for a story attacking the ISM. The FrontPageMag story by Lee Kaplan appeared in September 2006, and claimed:

One of our volunteers in the United Kingdom for Stop the ISM managed to infiltrate the ISM late last June in the Holy Land where the ISM operates in direct support of terrorists. Our volunteer (who prefers to remain anonymous to avoid retaliatory attacks) has had prior experience going undercover for the police in the UK. The photos and intelligence he brought back are proving invaluable to intelligence agencies watching the ISM and have been in official hands for over a month prior to this publication.

But later when asked about the English Defence League on her blog, Geller argued that:

I have found Paul Ray to be dishonest and duplicitous. I broke with him in 2007 when he tried to strong arm me to support the BNP. He is abusive. And yet has the indecency to say he has many Jewish friends and then cite me for example, years later. He derides the EDL because they threw him out and yet, he had the audacity to start a new group calling it EDL: St German division despite EDL protestations.They asked him repeatedly not to be associated with EDL[20].

She adds:

I have researched the EDL and I am comfortable with the EDL. I stand with EDL. They are NOT BNP but the campaign to smear them is relentless. The EDL has my confidence in fighting a global scourge. If, at any time, they take action or do something counter to our fight, I will be first to call them out on it.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Friends of the Killer, Coming Your Way?

AS more than 150,000 people gathered in Oslo to honour those murdered by racist fanatic Anders Behring Breivik, and messages of sympathy and condolences came from around the world, more 'respectable' right-wingers sought only to separate the murderer's supposed 'madness' from his ideas, and theirs, while more open reactionary thugs did not even do that.

In Oslo, people carried red roses, the symbol of the Labour Party, and sang a song of wartime resistance to the Nazis. In the United States, Glenn Beck, a former radio chat host with Murdoch's Fox News, ignorantly and disgustingly compared the Labour youth campers who were Breivik's main victims with the Hitler Youth. He evidently found these democratic young people enjoying a summer camp more "disturbing" than their being murdered.

The killer Breivik has praised the writings of Daily Mail columnist and Islamophobe Melanie Phillips. He has written sympathetically of both the Nazis and Israeli Zionists, though most immediately he shares a mutual admiration and aims with anti-Islamic gangs like the English Defence League (EDL). If some EDL members were anxiously trying to dissociate themselves from the crazed bomber and gunman, businessman Alan Lake, who provides the EDL with much of its 'brains' and funding, was less bothered.


Lake described the massacre of more than 90 people in Norway as “chickens come home to roost”. In other words, the more than 90 victims, and people who defend their democratic and multi-cultural, tolerant society, brought this on themselves.. On his website, Lake wrote:

Apparently, in a long screed Anders Behring Breivik posted on line, he did this attack to protest against the way that Islam is taking over large parts of Europe. By attacking the leftist politicians that are enabling this, the chickens have actually come home to roost – altho I’m sure it won’t be depicted that way.

Breivik had already boasted of contact with the EDL and Stop the Islamification of Europe (SIOE), and on Tuesday the Northern Echo reported that the Norwegian had taken part in an EDL demonstration.

The anti-fascist magazine Searchlight says Breivik was in contact with the EDL, and was involved in a Norwegian Defence League.

"Only months before he went on his murderous killing spree he exchanged several messages with EDL supporters using his internet pseudonym Sigurd Jorsalfare, the name of the 12th century King of Norway who led one of the Crusades.

In one message on the EDL forum, dated 9 March 2011, he wrote:

“Hello. To you all good English men and women, just wanted to say that you're a blessing to all in Europe, in these dark times all of Europe are looking to you in surch of inspiration, courage and even hope that we might turn this evil trend with islamisation all across our continent. Well, just wanted to say keep up the good work it's good to see others that care about their country and heritage. All the best to you all Sigurd”

Asked by EDL supporters if he was active in the Norwegian Defence League, Breivik replied:

“I was but, the site has been put down now. There was to be a demo in Oslo on the 26 of February but after the police security service put us on the "danger-list" the the internet site was sadly shut down.”

He went on to describe his hatred of society in Norway and specifically picked out the Norwegian Labour Party for his criticism.

“The biggest problem in norway is that there is no real free press, there is a left-wing angle on all the political topics so most people are going around like idiots. And of course with our norwegian labour party beeing in power for most of the last 50 years dont help. but i i think there is an awakening now at least i hope so. Do some of you know the truth about what happened to the ndl, there was some clames that neo-nazis had hijacked the organisation, but on the ndl site i cant really say i noticed anything like that. So may guess is that there were some kind of police pressure to stop the movement. Anyone here heard anything?”

In another posting he attacked the British society and expressed his interest in joining an EDL demonstration:

“i've seen with my own eyes what has happened to england, i was in bradford some years ago, me and a friend walked down to the football stadium of bradford, real "nice" neighborhood, same thing in the suburbs of london. well thinking about taking a little trip over the sea and join you in a demo. would be nice with a norwegian flag alongside with union jack or the english flag, that is if a norwegian would be welcome offcourse?”

This message appears to confirm the rumour that Breivik once lived in the UK. His father was a diplomat and is believed to have been based in London for some time.

Breivik was told by EDL supporters that he would be most welcome, to which he replied:

“I hoped so:) it's our common struggle against the islamofacists.”

EDL supporters were keen to have his support. An EDL forum member, username ‘Concerned’, replied: ‘Bravo sigurd admire your views and courage. no surrender and welcome.”

Breivik then went quiet. A few days later he shut down his facebook site, went offline and began the final countdown to his killing spree.

Searchlight's Graeme Atkinson says the Norwegian group claimed to have expelled some Russian Nazis, but still included "convicted nazi bank robber Werner Holm and violent nazis such as Johnny "Light" Olsen", Morten Andre Serensen and Dariusz Arnesen, all previously connected with the now defunct Norwegian 'Blood and Honour' network".

"The English Defence League has close links with the NDL. The NDL facebook site is administered by Jeff Marsh, a leading EDL organiser and football hooligan. Marsh was once given a two-year prison sentence for stabbing two Manchester United fans.

"In April 2011 the NDL held a demonstration in Oslo. Speaking at the event was Tower Hamlets-based EDL activist Darren Lee Marsh. Marsh has been a steward on EDL demos and is close to the EDL youth leader Joel Titus. He also claims to be a member of UKIP. Marsh’s facebook friends include several EDL organisers, including Jack Smith (the London EDL organiser), Paul Prodromou (aka Pitt) (the Essex EDL organiser), and Guramit Singh, who was the EDL’s press officer until recently".

"The EDL claim to be a peaceful organisation but its actions and views of its supporters prove otherwise. Here is a selection of comments made by leading EDL supporters in recent weeks:

Dave Davis: “Ratkoa Mladic is our friend. He killed 8,000 Muslims.”

Bill Baker: “know [sic] we need to kill or be killed and no mercy for anyone once it kicks off. Die or leave is the only choice they should have.”

Bill Baker: “If our Government won’t act against Islam and terrorism then we must arm and protect ourselves.”

North West Infidels: “East Belfast is up in flames, our loyalist brothers certainly know how to riot. Imagine [if] we could that against militant Islam.”

Roger Firth: “Something has to happen mate (and I don’t give a shit if the old bill are clocking this). For too long we have let ourselves be penned, while this scum do as they please, patriots being arrested, well today was the final straw, time to get violent.”


The EDL is threatening to hold a demonstration in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on September 3. This is almost on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, when thousands of East Enders and anti-fascists routed Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts and their police escort.

The East End has changed, and today there is a large Muslim, particularly Bangladeshi, community where once there were the Jewish people whom Mosley's fascists targeted.

Local people and anti-fascists have signed a petition to the Home Secretary to ban the EDL marching into the borough, and this is supported by the Tower Hamlets council. I would have signed the 'Hope Not Hate' petition supported by Searchlight, had it not included generalised references to "extremism" and said "extremism provokes extremism" - as though the EDL were waiting to be "provoked"! It's fine to have a frank discussion about extremism, political or religious, in Tower Hamlets, but do we really need to have it with a Tory like Home Secretary Theresa May?

What this Con-Dem coalition is doing to people is pretty extreme. It is helping create the kind of desperate conditions which racists and fascists want to exploit, to divide people up (and don't forget David Cameron's discovery that "multi-culturalism" is the problem). We socialists and trade unionists want to unite all working people and poor against this government's policies. Do we really trust this government to decide which political activities are to be curtailed?

People do have a right to demand that a bunch of thugs hoping to bring hatred and fear into their neighbourhood be stopped. Whatever the authorities decide, anti-fascists and local people who feel threatened are determined to oppose the EDL coming to Tower Hamlets on September 3. And whatever happens, if those in power allow the EDL threat to take place, they must take the blame. After Norway, no one can say they didn't know.,news-comment,news-politics,what-made-anders-breivik-quote-from-the-daily-mail-melanie-phillips-jeremy-clarkson

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Murderer with connections

MORE than 90 people have been murdered in Norway in a well-planned operation by a crazed right-wing killer. As more evidence is sought, it appears that Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old Norwegian whom police have arrested, had contacts with far-Right groups at home and abroad, including the English Defence League (EDL) in Britain.

As the first news came over BBC News of the Oslo explosion on Friday we kept getting commentators referring to al Qaida, Afghanistan, and cartoons of the prophet. The horrific news that the gunman's main target were teenagers at a Labour youth summer camp did not stop this weighted speculation.

The Sun front-page yesterday repeated the "Al Qaida" theme and proclaimed it "NORWAY'S 9/11"

THE SUN FRONT PAGE: Norway's 9/11 #skypapers on Twitpic

By the time the real picture emerged, of who had been arrested, the Norway killings had been replaced in tabloid headlines by the death of singer Amy Winehouse, and one would have had to search hard through the online edition of the Sun for any hint that Anders Brehing Breivik was more than a lone hunter and "gun nut".

Anders Brehing Breivik

ANDERS BREHING BREIVIK boasted links to far right groups across Europe.

Breivik was arrested on Utøya island where he shot and killed at least 85 people, mostly teenagers, after bombing Oslo's government district just hours before. Dressed as a police officer, he ordered the teenagers to gather round him before opening fire, and then went after those trying to flee, killing some who were swimming.

"Nut" or not, Breivik, a freemason, Christian fundamentalist and former member of Norway's right-wing Progress party, had posted a manifesto setting out his views and aims, and boasted of his contacts with the English Defence League and other anti-Islamic European organisations.

“We are not sure whether he was alone or had help,” a police official, Roger Andersen, said at a televised news conference. “What we know is that he is right wing and a Christian fundamentalist.”

Although some papers quoted police as saying they were not looking for international connections, Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, said Norwegian officials were working with foreign intelligence agencies to see if there was any international involvement in the slaughter. "We have running contact with other countries' intelligence services," he said.

In a 1,500-page manifesto, posted on the Web hours before the attacks, Breivik recorded a day-by-day diary of months of planning for the attacks, and claimed to be part of a small group that intended to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.”

He predicted a conflagration that would kill or injure more than a million people, adding, “The time for dialogue is over. We gave peace a chance. The time for armed resistance has come.”

The manifesto, entitled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” equates liberalism and multiculturalism with “cultural Marxism,” which it says is destroying European Christian civilization.

Signed Andrew Berwick, an Anglicized version of his name, it also describes a secret meeting in London in April 2002 to reconstitute the Knights Templar, a Crusader military order. It says the meeting was attended by nine representatives of eight European countries, evidently including Breivik, with an additional three members unable to attend, including a “European-American.”

Norwegian police were reportedly checking if there was another gunman on the island, and more explosives concealed in central Oslo where the car bomb was detonated. It was reported that Breivik ordered six tonnes of chemical fertiliser suitable for bomb making back in May. More evidence of his views was traced from his postings on right-wing and neo-Nazi websites.

Breivik had talked admiringly online about conversations he had had with unnamed English Defence League members and the organisation Stop the Islamification ofEurope(SIOE)

"I have on some occasions had discussions with SIOE and EDL and recommended them to use certain strategies," he wrote two years ago. "The tactics of the EDL are now to 'lure' an overreaction from the Jihad Youth/Extreme-Marxists, something they have succeeded in doing several times already."

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Keeping their faith in Prince Rupert

Go to fullsize image MURDOCH and minder. Third wife Wendy Deng responded fiercely to shaving-foam pie wielder.

AS Rupert Murdoch and his minions stand pilloried, and custard pied, from all sides, one faithful band of friends of the multi-media emperor remains loyal. "Put not your faith in princes", advises the Good Book, but the Zionists who claim it as a title to real estate have disregarded this, among other counsels, or at least not considered it applied to press barons.

Here is a comment from the Jewish Chronicle, lamenting Murdoch's fall from grace:
"Anyone following the way Israel is portrayed here in Britain will be concerned. Murdoch's publications (from time to time, at least) provide rare counter blasts against the prevailing winds of anti-Israeli hostility. His commitment to Israel is resolute. In a speech last year to the Anti-Defamation League he spoke of "the disturbing new home that antisemitism has found in polite society - especially in Europe", and of "an ongoing war against the Jews".As long as Rupert is at the helm, The Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun are safe from the anti-Zionist consensus".

If like me you thought the media was overwhelmingly pro-Zionist in bias, you have to realise that this all depends where you are standing. If you sense a lot of people around you were not happy with, say, the Israeli bombing of Gaza, you have to blame it on the media. That the BBC refused to broadcast a charity appeal for the victims was an overdue acknowledgement that news coverage had been biased.

That the Sun carried a front-page story claiming (on the basis of a hoax) that Muslims were planning a campaign of attacks on prominent UK Jews, was irresponsible, you might say, but these things can be forgiven among friends. (Though not by Sir Alan Sugar,,2013,allan-sugar-sues-the-sun,75090?WTmc_id=rss).
A bit of tension keeps the troops in line.

The Zionist fears for the future of Murdoch's empire have been noted by my fellow blogger Mark Elf.

Among those he mentions are Issi Leibler, a former fellow-countryman of Murdoch now domiciled in Israel, from where he denounces allegedly less fervent defenders of the Zionist state, such as our Board of Deputies of British Jews, accusing them of succumbing to a growing anti-Israel, indeed anti-Jewish atmosphere in Britain.

In his own blog, Leibler says:

"For Israel, a major erosion of the Murdoch media would have highly adverse repercussions. In an era in which the liberal global media has increasingly turned against Israel, most of the Murdoch outlets maintain a fair and evenhanded approach.

"Murdoch, whom I met personally on a number of occasions, is himself unquestionably a genuine friend of Israel. In fact, he has frequently been falsely described as Jewish by hostile Muslims and other extremists.

"While always sympathetic to Israel as the plucky underdog, the turning point in his relationship was 1982, when Ariel Sharon hosted him with a group of editors on a helicopter tour where he witnessed 'the vulnerability of the country' in terms of defensible borders".

(That was of course the same year when vulnerable little Israel, the 'plucky underdog' bombed Beirut and invaded Lebanon, and unleashed the Christian Falangist massacre of Palestinians at Sabra and Chatila, for which an Israeli inquiry held Ariel Sharon morally culpable).

"His friendship towards Israel was publicly displayed when he was honored in 2009 by the American Jewish Committee and more recently in 2010 by the ADL. At the AJC meeting he stated: 'In the West, we are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States. I say to you: maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel… In the end, the Israeli people are fighting the same enemy we are: cold-blooded killers who reject peace… who reject freedom… and who rule by the suicide vest, the car bomb and the human shield'.

"If Murdoch is found to have been aware of the transgressions, his reputation will be destroyed and he will face major punitive sanctions. But as of now, while his enemies continue baying for his blood, most Israelis will be hoping that despite the criminal nature of the News of the World scandal, Rupert Murdoch and his senior management will be exonerated of direct malfeasance and his media holdings will remain substantially intact.

This column was originally published in Yisrael Hayom


Leibler has recently been in Britain observing how intimidated we Jewish people are by the anti-Israel mood, but he was heartened to meet a group of militant young Zionists hoping to emulate the right-wing US "Stand by Israel" outfit waging its brave war on the West Coast, and by such heroic figures as Jonathan Hoffman, of the Zionist Federation, and Daily Mail columnist Melanie Philips, author of Londonistan.

"She represents a beacon of light, fearlessly exposing the cant and hypocrisy of the viciously anti-Israeli media".

Like Mad Mel, Issi Leibler is concerned about Islamic and Saudi influence, indeed he has accused the World Jewish Congress of "grovelling" to the Saudi rulers by attending a UN-approved Interfaith conference in Saudi Arabia from which overtly pro-Zionist bodies like the ADL and Conference of Presidents were excluded as "too political". Mind you, he also accuses Shimon Peres of a "servile" approach to the Saudi monarch.

So I thought we might note this piece of news information:

Saudi Prince to retain shares even as News Corp's shame grows

The UK phone hacking scandal rocking Rupert Murdoch’s media world will not result in any change to News Corporation’s second largest shareholder’s “strategic investment”, according to Prince Alaweed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The Saudi billionaire told Reuters yesterday (10 July) that the commitment in News Corp by Kingdom Holding, which controls 7% of News Corp votes, is not in jeopardy - despite the decision by Mr Murdoch to close the most widely read newspaper in the UK after sickening accusations its journalists hacked the phones of a murdered teenager and victims of terrorist acts.

"The crisis does not make Kingdom Holding blink at all. It makes our partnership stronger," Prince Alaweed bin Talal is quoted as saying by Reuters.

The investments between the Saudi billionaire and News Corp are reciprocal. The Saudi conglomerate Rotana Media, which is owned by Kingdom Holding, has recently had a US$35 million cash injection from News Corp, which raised its shareholding by 50% to 14.53%.

News Corp took a 9.09 stake in Rotana Media for $70 million at the start of 2010. The deal forged then provided Rupert Murdoch’s group with an option to double its holding within 18 months – a facility it drew upon in May 2011.

"Since the crisis erupted I have been in touch with them [News Corp] to contain this problem," Prince Alaweed bin Talal told Reuters. "Their decision to shut down this tabloid [News of the World] in England is supported by me because we have to put this issue behind us."


For the EMEA region, News Corp plans to launch Sky News Arabia - an Arabic language version of BSkyB’s 24 hour rolling news channel – free-to-air in spring 2012. News Corp already broadcasts 12 channels in the Middle East and North Africa through its Fox International Channels arm, in addition to its Sky News channel which is available locally on pay-TV platforms.

Analysts had predicted the increased shareholding in Rotana Media would help News Corp to further expand its televisual presence in the Arab world, given the potential offered by a youthful audience sharing a common language.

Incidentally, so far as Rupert's own religion goes, notwithstanding the superstition among some backward Muslims and old-fashioned conspiracy theories, I know of no evidence that he is even remotely "Jewish". In America, where born-again Christian fundamentalists can be much more fanatical than any mere Jewish Zionists, he is known as a church-goer and admirer of evangelist Billy Graham. He was also ennobled as a Papal knight by John Paul II, one assumes for his generous donations to Catholic institutions and causes, rather than his newspaper's contribution to faith and chastity. Perhaps at his age this is like taking out double insurance,

Here the Church of England, which might have tolerated the titillation offered in the News of the World, must consider whether the passing of that other Sunday institution in the path of the 'phone hacking scandal is good or bad news for its £4 million holding in Murdoch's News Corporation.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Palestinian speaker freed - but gagged

ON the same day that the resignation of Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson was followed up by that of assistant commissioner John Yates, the Yard's senior anti-terrorism officer, the police and the government have had another humiliating reverse.

Palestinian religious and political leader Sheikh Raed Salah was conditionally released today, after three weeks in British jails. The government's lawyer admitted on Friday that Sheikh Salah had entered the country legally.

This case has nothing to do with the 'phone hacking scandal and links with Rupert Murdoch's media empire that have led to the downfall of senior officers (with Stephenson dropping a broad hint that if he was culpable of lack of judgement, David Cameron was more so) But it too raises questions about the judgement, and influences on decision-making of the police and Home Secretary Theresa May.

Salah, mayor of Umm el Fahm and leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, had been invited for a speaking tour in Britain. He had given a talk in Leicester, and was on his way back to his hotel in London when he was arrested, on the night of June 28 .

Newspapers like the 'Mail' and the 'Express' promptly carried front-page stories suggesting that the Palestinian visitor was some kind of threat to the security of this country, and denouncing him as a "preacher of hate". Neither paper is known for its sympathetic coverage of Palestine or friendly attitude towards Muslims. But nor were they telling the truth about Raed Salah's record, or the quite open way he had entered the country, on a pre-publicised visit.

The suggestion that he had somehow sneaked past controls at Heathrow might remind us of the way the Express and others reported Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes had vaulted ticket barriers at Stockwell. Part of the rubbish fabricated to suggest armed police who killed him had reasonably thought they were pursuing a dangerous terror suspect. The officer directing that operation was Cressida Dick - now Assistant Commissioner, Specialised Crime, with a particular input on Olympic security, and perhaps even a candidate for the Commissioner's job.

The police officers who arrested Salah on the night of 28 June told him he was going to be deported because of immigration offences. Mr.Justice Stadlen noted in summarizing his reasons for granting bail that this point appeared on the police custody record. But a government lawyer admitted in court on Friday that when Salah had entered the country using his Israeli passport on 25 June he had done so legally.

Daud Abdullah, director of the Middle East Monitor (MEMO), who had invited Salah to Britain to give talks to politicians and academics, said: “We are confident that the release of Sheikh Raed will be the beginning of a successful attempt to exonerate him from the character slurs and allegations that have appeared in some sections of the media.”

Steven Kovats QC, the barrister presenting objections to Salah’s bail application on behalf of Home Secretary Theresa May, admitted that since no one had informed Salah of any banning order, he was actually entitled to board the plane to the UK and “didn’t do anything wrong in doing that.” This was what Sheikh Salah's hosts and supporters had said all along. In his summary, Justice Stadlen clarified Salah “was admitted lawfully” on a six-month visitor’s visa, and said it was accepted Salah’s entry was not in contravention of an exclusion order.

Although the judge freed Salah from custody he imposed severe conditions demanded by the Home Office. Salah will have to wear an electronic tag, report daily to an immigration centre and observe a 6pm to 9am night-time curfew. He will be barred from speaking to the public, or the press.

At a Parliamentary Select Committee hearing one week after the sheikh's arrest, Theresa May claimed she had personally signed an exclusion order on Salah two days before he entered. She said she deemed his presence “not conducive to the public good” since he engaged in “unacceptable behavior” — one of the legal grounds possible under the law on exclusions. May said there would be a “full inquiry” into why “something went wrong” – he was let into the country without even being questioned by the UK Border Agency (Home Affairs Select Committee: The Work of the Home Secretary, 5 July, Parliament TV).

But it became clear on Friday that Salah had been in the UK on at least four previous occasions between 1997 and 2009, and there had been no objections then from the government. Kovats said the government could not confirm or deny this, saying “we have no record of his movements” in our databases, but did not deny it was true. As an Israeli citizen, Salah does not need to apply for a visa before arriving in the country. Also, said Kovats, his passport was issued in 2011, so contained none of the old arrival stamps.

As Rezs Hussain QC, for Salah, probed into the Home Office rationale, it became evident part of the "unacceptable behaviour" alleged was supposed antisemitic incitement. The British press had cited an antisemitic “poem” they attributed to Salah. But under instruction from Salah, Husain emphasized he absolutely denies writing the poem and “finds it offensive” because of its anti-Semitic content.

The Home Office listed as another example of “unacceptable behavior” an interview with MEMO in which Salah advocated the Palestinian right of return and the boycott divestment and sanctions movement (“Raed Salah: Israel preparing to complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians,” MEMO interview, 14 June).
But exactly what he had said seemed unclear, let alone what was illegal or "unacceptable" about it. Judge Stadlen said in his summing up that he had heard no evidence to support the alleged statements.

Is the British government then anticipating Israeli legislation to outlaw views on Palestinian rights, or boycott and divestment?

It was revealed on Friday that on the same day May now says she signed the exclusion order, 23 June, two indictments against Salah were issued in a Jerusalem court. These related to an allegation of incitement from 2007 and an allegation of “obstructing a Police Officer” from April 2011. The government objection to bail also alleged that Salah has links with the Turkish charity IHH, which they said was alleged to have provided Hamas with aid – a claim rejected by IHH. The government submissions also alleged Salah has links to Hamas. Husain, acting on instructions from Salah, absolutely denied this.

We recently saw the bankrupt Greek government ordering its coastguard to intercept an aid flotilla trying to sail for Gaza. It has been variously claimed that the Israeli government promised to intercede with Greece's creditors, offered the country cheap natural gas, or agreed to supply tear gas because Greek riot police were running short. Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is reported to have promised to admit more migrant labour from Bulgaria and Romania if their governments agree to oppose Palestinian statehood in the UN.

Surely Britain, still one of the richest countries in the world, is not in need of such charity from the Zionist state (itself still biggest single recipient of US aid)? There has been speculation that the British government may take an independent line from the United States when the issue of Palestinian statehood comes up. But it seems the Home Office is being distinctly anti-Palestinian and even anticipating the Israeli government's wishes in its behaviour towards Sheikh Raed Salah.

Is this because the Home Secretary is anxious not to be seen as "soft" by right-wing tabloids like the Mail , Express and Murdoch's Sun?, Or because the kind of repression Netanyahu and co. demand against the Palestinians and Israeli Left accords with the kind of powers this government would like to have against its opponents here?

“We will continue to fight the Home Secretary’s exclusion order,” said Salah’s British solicitor Tayab Ali, who described bail as “the first step towards justice.” We don't have to agree with Sheikh Salah or his supporters to see the need to side with them against this government's attack on free speech.

(thanks to Asa Winstanley, and Electronic Intifada, for detailed reporting of this case, asides and opinions are of course my own).

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Unquiet flows the Cam (pbell)

View Image
PEACE and quiet of varsity not so removed
world of war as would like to think?
Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair

CAMPBELL close aide to Blair, called David Kelly
"liar". Downing Street told press the scientist was
"mentally unstable" - an odd charge, considering
Campbell's own past record.

YESTERDAY I was listening to a teacher from Cambridge - the city, that is, - describing proudly how people had turned out to repel an invasion by the far-Right English Defence League. He was addressing fellow-trade unionists, and mainly talked about the union response, but acknowledged that other people, including students, had joined the mobilisation.

Indeed, knowing some friends' sons who have graduated from the University of Cambridge, I can testify that despite its conservative, elitist image, - which helped conceal top Soviet spies among its pre-war alumni - the expensive University does have some decent students, aware of more than the May Ball, meritocracy and millionaire interests, and some of them stay active, and with our side.

On the more official side, Cambridge graduates can enjoy keeping abreast of the news from their fellows, the boat race, and alma mater, by perusing Cambridge Alumni Magazine, CAM, (though not to be confused as yet with similarly named publications relating to Computer Assisted Management, still less the Construction Association of Michigan). It's not all who's doing what research and what happened to old Buffy. As the editors say:
"Reinvigorating the art of the spirited essay, CAM brings together the best of Cambridge thought and debate, keeping alumni around the world up to date and on their toes".

So I guess they will be delighted to receive this letter:

Mira Katbamna
The Editor
University of Cambridge
The Cam magazine

17 July 2011

Dear Mira Katbamna,


Some time ago I took issue with a previous Editor that the CAM magazine made no mention of the Iraq war from the period 2003 to that day. It was as if this terrible atrocity, committed by the UK in joint enterprise with the US, was of no importance, and not worthy of even discussion in the crystal watery beauty of East Anglia. The destruction of Iraq, its culture, artefacts and people was of no consequence. It was rather like watching a Buster Keaton film where he is driving a train and totally oblivious of the Civil War going on beside him.

But then Cambridge would not want to draw attention to the war crimes being committed in that war would it? After all the University receives enormous sums of money for fellowships and research into new weapons and methods of waging war. The Cam would not want to rock THAT boat, and it continued to publish articles with smiling faces of dons and students as if nothing was happening in our name three thousand miles away.

Now you have given space to Alastair Campbell to air his views on a good book to read on holiday. You are surely aware that there is a sword of Damocles hanging over his head in the form of an appearance at the Hague, and many hold that he was one of the authors of what was regarded at Nuremberg in 1945 as the most serious war crime of all, namely planning and conspiring and helping to direct an aggressive war? Yet you give him space.

Another Nuremberg crime was the provision of false news to excite passions for war. You must know about the 45 minute claim and the lies about Chirac that were approved by Campbell if not invented by him.
You must also be aware that his evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry has been called into question by MI6 and a leading general in his concoction of the Dodgy Dossier. Yet you give him space.

Then examine his treatment of fellow journalists. He punched the Guardian Journalist Michael White who joked about Maxwell. Of Andrew Gilligan, a reputable journalist, he said "We will fuck Gilligan ". To Labour's advertising agency he said " Now fuck off and cover something important you twats." As a result of Campbell's vicious campaign against the BBC over what he called a lie, Andrew Gilligan and Greg Dyke, Director General of the BBC were sacked. Yet you give Campbell space.

In a further attempt to divert attention from his own lies, Campbell claimed Dr David Kelly was a liar. Dr Kelly, a gentle man and a distinguished scientist, Downing Street labeled as a Walter Mitty character, a minor bureaucrat, and mentally unstable. So grotesque were these insults and the pressure put on Dr Kelly by the JIC that, in the official version, he killed himself. Yet you give Campbell space.

Do you give John Nick Griffin space? No, because he is an easy target. But a monster bully like Campbell, prone to rushes of blood to the head on the one hand, deep depression on the other, and a past interest in writing pornography, you give space.

You could at least wait for the verdict of the Hague before you ask him to give recommendations for holiday reading. It might have been 'The Goebbels Diaries'.

Yours Sincerely .

Nicholas Wood, St John's 1956

P.S. You might also ask one of the Cambridge scientists to find out why cattle in Iraq are born with six legs and its implication for the future of this planet.

My thanks to Iraqi friend Tahrir, for bringing this to my attention via Iraq Occupation Focus. Whether or not CAM publishes it, I hope the editor, or the author, won't mind me bringing it to a different readership. It reminds us of wider issues.

On a topical note, Alistair Campbell has informed the Metropolitan Police that he believes his 'phone may have been tapped by the News of the World's snoops in 2003. Well, it could and did happen to a lot of nicer people.

For more about Campbell's fascinating if other than edifying story, see:

On the lighter side, having occasionally tut-tutted at the over-use of the "f" and "c" words by young university-educated friends, I suppose I should not be surprised that Campbell, a graduate in English Literature, has such a renowned vocabulary. As the Wikipedia article says, "It is also hinted that the character of Malcolm Tucker from the BBC political satire comedy The Thick of It is loosely based on Campbell. Tucker is famous for his short fuse and use of very strong language. Campbell himself seems to have a few qualms about being associated with the character".

I was watching an episode of The Thick of It the other night and thought I recognised the charming character, if not the accent (though of Scottish parentage, Alistair Campbell was born and raised in Yorkshire).

On the more serious side, Alistair Campbell was a man at the heart of the New Labour 'project', and the war which killed a hundred thousand Iraqis, and from whose effects people continue to suffer. Whatever his millions-enriched boss Blair saves for the confession box, Campbell remains unrepentant, it seems.

Whatever our need to make war on this Con-Dem government, we have no reason to let bygones be bygones where 'New Labour' is concerned.

Thanks to Nicholas Wood, and Tahrir.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Chippy" will never seem the same

SO Rebekah Brooks (nee Wade) has gone. Quit as chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International within a week of the News of the World which she used to edit having bit the dust. Someone said then that Murdoch had got rid of the wrong red-top.

CHIPPING NORTON, above. Locals would prefer it wasn't associated with the wrong kind of celebrity.

Momentarily relief from headlines for Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Paul Stephenson, though he was reportedly facing questions from Prime Minister David Cameron and London mayor Boris Johnson, about his hiring of former News of the World executive Neil Wallis as a £ 1,000 a day personal media advisor.

Close: David Cameron and Christopher Shale at an event this month
CAMERON with Christopher Shale, who warned
that Tories came across as "always on the take".
Inquest on the West Oxfordshire Tory chairman
has been adjourned

This comes after reports that senior officers had dinner with News International people they were supposed to be investigating. And that among those whose 'phones were hacked were relatives of Jean Charles de Menezes, who was shot dead by police at Stockwell station. We can get the picture.

Neil Wallis, 60, was arrested yesterday by police investigating the 'phone hacking scandal, The Evening Standard said that Wallis's company, Chamy Media, through which he had been employed by the Met , was struck off the companies register two months ago for failing to file any documents since it was set up in 2009..

'Downing Street sources said Mr Cameron believes Sir Paul has "urgent questions to answer" and is angry the Met chief failed to inform him about Mr Wallis's employment when they met for crisis talks at No 10 earlier this week'.

Is that the sound of spin we hear? Cameron's own former press aide Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor, was arrested a week ago, leaving the prime minister to face questions over why he had hired Coulson in 2007, despite knowing that one of his journalists had been jailed for hacking into voicemails. Coulson was arrested on suspicion of conspiring in the illegal practice.

As for blustering Boris, he originally dismissed the 'phone hacking row as "politically motivated codswallop". Having kept up his wining-and-dining with James
Murdoch, he was counting no doubt on continued support for his re-election from Rebecca Wade and News International, before he discovered a sense of outrage at the media empire's excesses.

For David Cameron this affair has come close to home, personally and geographically as well as politically. Several papers have been talking about the "Chipping Norton Set", arousing amusement and then annoyance among locals in this Cotswold market town, which comes under Cameron's Witney, West Oxfordshire constituency. Rebekah Wade moved into the area with second husband Charlie Brooks. Cameron was at their wedding, as were Murdoch's son in law Matthew Freud, and broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson.

'Neighbours talk of a barbecue a few weeks ago where the alcohol flowed, and David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks are known to be regular visitors at each other's houses, "forever popping round for supper", according to one friend. They are known to have had dinner with each other at least once over Christmas (with James Murdoch), and were seen together at a drinks party in a neighbouring manor house on Boxing Day, in defiance of those who thought the PM should not get too close to representatives of a company seeking to take over BSkyB.

Of big houses, there is no shortage. But in the past decade, the mix of occupants has changed from nobs and bankers to include a mix of celebrities and politicos. When Cameron came to the area 10 years ago, he rented a cottage from Lord Chadlington, the brother of John Gummer, before buying a farmhouse in the hamlet of Dean when he won the seat of Witney. Matthew Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch began renting China Corner from the Duke of Marlborough's Blenheim Palace estate, before buying Burford Priory for £6m three years ago. Rebekah Wade followed suit, renting at Blenheim before moving in with her new husband, Charlie Brooks (part of a long-established Cotswold family and a friend of Cameron's brother, Alex), to his converted barn between Sarsden and Churchill.

It was at the end of June that an inquest was adjourned on the chairman of West Oxfordshire Conservative Association, Christopher Shale, 56, who had been found dead in a mobile toilet at the Glastonbury rock festival. Shale, a former Army officer, and managing director of a business supply company, had been praised by Cameron for his "massive contribution to the Conservative Party, both locally and nationally". Having done aid work in Rwanda, and a director of the right-wing Centre for Policy Studies, Chistopher Shale was seen as a big help to Cameron's 'Big Society' policy. He lived in Over Worton, a village near Chipping Norton, but there has been no suggestion that he was part of the Chipping Norton Set.

In fact, just before taking his family to Glastonbury he had produced a memo for Cameron warning that the Conservative Party, specifically in West Oxfordshire, came across to the public as "graceless, voracious, crass, always on the take". He reportedly died of a massive heart attack shortly after taking a 'phone call from Downing Street, concerned that his report had been leaked to the press.

One of the strongest attack on Cameron and his friends has come from the Tory Daily Telegraph:

"Mr Cameron allowed himself to be drawn into a social coterie in which no respectable person, let alone a British prime minister, should be seen dead. It was called the Chipping Norton set, an incestuous collection of louche, affluent, power-hungry and amoral Londoners, located in and around the Prime Minister’s Oxfordshire constituency. Brooks and her husband, the former racing trainer Charlie Brooks, live in a house scarcely a mile from David and Samantha Cameron’s constituency home. The two couples meet frequently, and have continued to do so long after the phone hacking scandal became well known.

PR fixer Matthew Freud, married to Mr Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth, is another member of this Chipping Norton set. When Mr Cameron bumped into Freud at Rebekah Brooks’s wedding two years ago, he and Mr Freud greeted each other with exuberant high-fives to signal their exclusive friendship.

The Prime Minister cannot claim in defence that he was naively drawn in to this lethal circle. He was warned – many times. Shortly before the last election he was explicitly told about the company he was keeping..."

Pity we didn't hear more about this before the election. Still, it looks like Cameron's days are numbered, though we dread to think whom the Tories might want to put in his place.

Meanwhile, my sympathies go out to the good folk of Chipping Norton, who are not all Tories, let alone associates of the coterie. Before all this, the town's most famous villain was James Hinde, a notorious highwayman, executed in 1652. Charles Stewart Parnell went to school in Chipping Norton, going on to become an Irish MP, patriot and reformer, "the un-crowned King of Ireland" before running fowl of the press. In 1873, sixteen women were convicted at nearby Ascott under Wychwood, some of them sentenced to hard labour, for interfering with scabs in a farm workers' strike. In 1913-14 there was an eight-month long strike by workers at the Bliss tweed mill, now converted to yuppie flats advertising the chance to "live in Chipping Norton despite the recession".

Ronnie Barker ran an antique shop in Chippy after retirement, and Who drummer Keith Moon ran the Crown and Cushion on the High Street. I have been able to enjoy a good pint in more than one hostelry in Chippy myself, though thankfully I did not encounter any of the Chipping Norton Set. Somehow it will never seem the same.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Watch on the Jordan

The Israeli Knesset has adopted a new law making it illegal to advocate a boycott of Israeli settlements in the post-1967 occupied territories, and their products. This suggests that the boycott which Israeli peace campaigners have been waging is more effective than people thought. Groups like Gush Shalom say the new law also shows that the 44-year long military occupation which denies the rights of Palestinians, also menaces the democratic rights of Israelis themselves.

The law comes after a report by the civil rights group B'Tselem, Dispossession and Exploitation detailing the way successive Israeli governments have treated the Jordan valley and Dead Sea regions, as a strategic zone, exempt from any negotiations.

'From 1967, when the Allon Plan was presented to the government, to 1977, the government initiated the establishment of 19 settlements in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area. The prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, wrote that these settlements would reflect the “political and security conception with respect to the peace borders in the Mideast.” '

In September 1977, following the rise of the Likud to power, Ariel Sharon, as head of the Ministerial Committee for Settlement, presented a plan that referred to the Jordan Valley as “the eastern security zone” and proposed expanding the chain of settlements in the area. From 1978-1992, under Likud-dominated
governments, 11 more settlements were built.

'Following the beginning of the Oslo Process in 1993, Israel’s government, headed by the Labour Party, undertook not to establish new settlements and not to expand existing settlements. However, it did not consider the undertaking to apply to the Jordan Valley. In his speech to the Knesset on approval of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (Oslo II), Prime Minister Rabin explained clearly that “the security border to protect the State of Israel will be set in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of this term.”'

In early 2011, there were 37 settlements in the area, including seven unauthorized outposts. The two largest outposts are Mevo’ot Yeriho, which lies east of Jericho, and Giv’at Sal’it, which is situated in the northern
Jordan Valley. Four of the settlements are Nahal encampments that were turned, without government
decision, into civilian communities in recent years. (Nahal is an army corps originally formed to enlist youth movement members, combining military service with pioneering frontier settlements). The most recent one – Maskiyot – became civilian in 2008. It is now populated by Israelis who were removed from the Shirat Hayam settlement in the Gaza Strip.

'In addition, the Jordan Valley Regional Council and the coordinator of the Tasks Department in the Kibbutz Movement, Yoel Marshak, are working to establish a new settlement next to the Yitav settlement north of Jericho, on land of an evacuated military base, and to establish a few settlements in the area'.

Many Palestinians became refugees when Israeli forces took the area in 1967. B'Tselem's report describes how their land was seized, sometimes for military use, sometimes for supposed nature parks - from which people were excluded from grazing their animals or using wells. Palestinians have had restricted access to what is a diminishing resource in the region, particularly without the advantage of a state to look out for them.

"The Friends of the Earth – Middle East estimates that the water enterprises of Israel,Syria, and Jordan have diverted more than 98 percent of the historical flow of the Jordan River that crossed the southern part of the Jordan River Basin. The river’s annual flow dropped to 20-30 million m3 a year, compared to flow that reached 1.3 billion m3 in the 1940s. The river lost more than one-half of its biological diversity due to the loss of habitats and waste that flowed into the river from towns and villages and from fish ponds inside Israel, which polluted it. Large sections of the river are now in danger of drying up".

"Restrictions on movement severely harm Palestinians living in the area, who are completely dependent on services available outside the Jordan Valley. Hospitals and most educational institutions are located outside the area, and anyone wanting to reach them must pass inspection at a checkpoint. The restrictions on movement also apply to ambulances, which are not permitted to enter the Jordan Valley. Sick and injured persons have to go to the checkpoint on their own, or with the aid of an Israeli rescue vehicle, where they are transferred to a Palestinian ambulance".

Needless to say, these restrictions also interfere with Palestinians' economic activity, while those forced to take employment on Israeli settlements are exploited free of safety and labour laws.

Before the occupation there had been some development of irrigation and modern farming by Palestinians in the Jordan valley near Jericho (Musa Alami's project), and people have also made use of Dead Sea salts for soaps and cosmetics, but this was on a small scale compared to recent Israeli exploitation and marketing.

"Despite international law’s prohibition on exploiting the natural resources of occupied
territory, for decades Israel has allowed Israeli private entrepreneurs to profit from the resources ....The Dead Sea Cosmetics concern, better know by its brand name “Ahava,” is located within the Mizpe Shalem settlement. The business is the best known Israeli enterprise that uses the plentiful black mud on the shores of the Dead Sea to manufacture a variety of products. The mud has a rare high concentration of minerals – magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potash, which soak up water and maintain a liquid state, becoming a natural moisturizer. Throughout history, this natural mud has been thought to contain almost mystic therapeutic qualities, especially for persons with skin and joint ailments. The enterprise praises itself, on its website, as “the only cosmetics firm in its natural environment,” ...

"The company was founded in 1988. It is owned by the Mizpe Shalem and Qalya settlements and by Israeli firms controlled by Gaon Holdings. The company does not provide figures on its sales turnover, the number of employees, or exports, but a press report valued the company in 2008 at $72 million. The report stated the company had 200 employees and operated a chain of shops marketing the Ahava brand in 29 countries".

It is not only Israeli companies at work in the area. B'Tselem refers to the waste disposal sites used by a subsidiary of the French company Veolia.

The Israeli rights group report concludes that:
'Given the illegality of the settlements, and the cumulative and continuing human rights violations they cause to the Palestinians living there, B'Tselem urges Israel to evacuate the settlements in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area in an orderly manner and in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. In so doing, the settlers’ rights must be protected, including payment of compensation. In addition, in accordance with international law prohibitions on exploitation of the natural resources of occupied territory, Israel must allow Palestinians access to all the areas that have been closed to them, and to allow them use of the water sources. Israel must also cancel the restrictions on movement and enable building and development in the Palestinian communities. Lastly, Israel must close the enterprises that profit from the area’s minerals and other natural resources, as well as the Israeli waste-disposal sites'.

This should come as a boost to campaigners here who caused Ahava to move from its Covent Garden premises, and are looking now at the way Veolia is entrenching itself in local government services and utilities in Britain. An Israeli "security zone" in the Jordan valley effectively encircles and isolates what is left of Palestine Authority territory, and constitutes a barrier to any real step to peace. Whatever the arguments about a general boycott of Israel, the targeted anti-settlement boycott is both justified and effective.

Israelis who have supported this boycott say they will continue and defy the law. We don't face any such restriction yet (apart from Britain's laws that could prevent industrial 'blacking'), though to hear some of Israel's guardians talk you'd think even discussing any boycott was a crime. Let's use our freedoms while we can.

See also:

Labels: ,