This is the second part of a response to Maajid Nawaz’s opinion piece on Hamas, Gaza and Israel.
The first part can be read here.
Your Definition of Terrorism
The perception of linguistic gymnastics regarding “terrorism” and its ascription to Hamas plays into the continued demonisation and dehumanisation of Palestinian resistance movements. You define it is as,
“Terrorism aims to deliberately target civilians, and benefits specifically from their death or injury as a matter of policy. Hamas has this policy.”
Ignoring the point whether Hamas actually has such a policy, this invented definition has no solidifed legal basis in international law, the framework which you use to reference the “recklessness” of the Zionist entity’s murders. In fact, as we shall see, it is deeply uninformed. From an international legal perspective, there is no consensus on the definition of terrorism, precisely because of the teething issue of violence resulting from self-determination, a context which is most certainly applicable to Gaza and Hamas. Terrorism as a label is often also used for political expedience of taking sides, something which your article does, inadvertently or otherwise. The cliché “one man’s terrorist is another man freedom fighter”, could not be more apt.
Take for example, the following definition of international terrorism, proposed by the General Assembly in 1973 (28 UN GAOR Supp),
(1) Acts of violence and other repressive acts by colonial, racist and alien regimes against people struggling for their liberation…
… (3) Acts of violence committed by individuals or groups of individuals which endanger or take innocent human lives… This should not affect the inalienable right to self-determination and independence of all peoples under colonial and racist regimes and other forms of alien domination…
Assalamu alaykum Maajid Nawaz,
Many perhaps will baulk at the fact that I even addressed you with a supplication of peace, given your statements and in particular your recent reductionist article. However, just as you take the mantle of nuance in your discourses regarding “Islamists”, which incidentally has done more to oppress the Muslim minority and fuel anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK than anything else I can remember since 9/11, I too wish to approach issues with some degree of “nuance”, devoid, where possible, of emotional obscurity.
You have stopped replying to my Tweets, despite my concerted efforts to remain as impartial and respectful as possible. This endeavour has caused me to come in for criticism by Muslims as well as the far-right Christians, as they struggle to understand my position on you. I had stopped Tweeting and following you for a period but, withholding my tears, I came across your attempts at semantically trivialising Zionist aggressions in the blatantly one-sided “war” that is raging in Gaza. It is not a war, it is a massacre. I am thus addressing you once more, appealing to the side of Maajid which cries when it sees images of blasted Palestinian toddlers.
Despite your claims of balance and nuance, indicating towards impartiality, these two qualities are notable only by their absence in your article. There are several claims which need attention, in order to inject some contextual balance.
Your opening title suggests your Zionist leanings. Palestine must be free, I agree, but of usurpers, in this case the Zionists, which seems to have escaped your conscious completely.
A week ago, upon the authority of Reverend John Ray, I exposed the alleged architects of the Trojan Horse letter: evangelical Christians Cecil Knight (with the possibility of Peter Slough), Matthew Scarrott and Tim Boyes. Straight off the back of that particular blog, Karen Slater, a former teacher at Golden Hillock School, added to the chorus, rather hypocritically given her little Riverside Church circle consisting of Jo Tyler and co, were purportedly perpetuating the same.
Since then there has been much frenzy. The articles have had a mention in Peter Clarke’s flawed report, however Clarke, rather conveniently, chose to ignore the allegations made against the Riverside Church attendees citing absence of evidence (DfE Investigation Report, p.9). Ironically, his report and conclusions suffers from the same especially in the face of conflicting evidence. Perhaps it was the wrong religion being implicated. It is after all, difficult to posit Christianity as the governmentally defined “Islamism”, especially when no definition of “Christianism” exists. On a tangential note, his report, as well as the Birmingham City Council’s findings will be subjected to an analysis in upcoming blogs.
When describing Britain as a police-state, many have dismissed it as a “conspiracy” and moved on with a degree a nonchalance. The neoconservative threat to Britain, and the contributory influence against human rights is immense. With organisations like the Henry Jackson Society so close to Government, and people like William Shawcross running the Charity Commission, various organs of the Government have become political weapons deployed at targets as they see fit.
Human rights have been the thorn in the side of the government preventing arbitrary abuses of power. When the anti-terror legislation crept in on the back of the fear of a terror threat, the public, through our elected representatives handed our rights on a platter to the government. Rights, such as detention without trial, which, ironically, is strongly emphasised by David Cameron’s favourite document, the Habeas Corpus, contitutes a pillar of democracy. In an earlier blog I raised the fact that the anti-terror legislation was not even spoken about in media because it affected the Muslim minority, but the application of the legislation was being broadened to inhibit government scrutiny. It seems this is now being raised in the media, as David Anderson QC, citing David Miranda as an example notes,
“Look at the example of journalists and bloggers, who can be considered terrorists if they are seeking to influence the Government and if their words endanger life or create a serious risk to public health or safety… Foolish or dangerous journalism is one thing, terrorism is another”
The anti-terror legislation, PREVENT and the Channel programme, as well as the new “emergency powers” to tap communications are all erosions of civil liberty which bite the public when, either you are part of the Muslim minority, or, you ask the government and officials the “wrong” questions. Such erosions enable a psychology of power and unaccountability on the part of government organs and officials which results abuses, as we shall now see.
When British Values Hurt
The effect of the above is simple: the public has increasingly become transparent and government more and more opaque.
Contrary to Ian Kershaw’s (methodologically flawed) report, in the report leaking the DfE investigation into the Birmingham schools, Clarke states,
“The tactics that have been used are too similar, the individuals concerned are too closely linked and the behaviour of a few parents and governors too orchestrated for there not to be a degree of coordination behind what has happened.”
Interestingly, the above statement is another way of saying “we actually do not have clear, explicit evidence of takeover plot”. Despite this, I agree with Clarke’s statement – when it is applied to his little clique. Let’s apply this deduction to what happened in the government organs.
Michael Gove founded the neoconservative think-tank Policy Exchange in 2002, notorious for fabricating receipts in order to prove “extremist” material was being sold in masaajid. The report was authored by anti-Muslim Denis MacEoin who has been on record to state that he has very “negative feelings” about Islam.
Peter Clarke as early as 2008 was a member of the Advisory Council for Policy Exchange.
In 2008, at Quilliam’s launch, Michael Gove was listed as an advisor in their efforts to counter the “Islamist-Wahhabite” threat. In 2010 Gove was still listed as an advisor before the list was removed from the site for the sake of “privacy”.
Wait, another leaked document?! And this of a report written by a former counter-terrorism chief? With someone with skills in the counter-terrorism profession, who works as an advisor for major war-profiteering outfits, this is some seriously poor level of security on his part, and the people he has carried out the work for. Surely, an inquiry is in order?
Reading the piece in the Guardian which sumarises the findings of Peter Clarke’s leaked report, I couldn’t help but note the similarity in the narrative between Clarke, Michael Wilshaw and Michael Gove. Gove conflates religious conservatism as extremism, as a Whitehall official confirm:
“Michael Gove’s views are so incredibly black and white. It’s either his way or no way. He seems to think that anybody who strictly follows Islam is not really integrated… And he thinks anybody who holds conservative Muslim views is a bit of an extremist. He has been using Birmingham to pursue an ideological agenda that he’s had for many years.”
In submitting his evidence to the Education Select Committee, Wilshaw stated,
“What we did see was governors going into the school and deciding they would move head teachers out of the school… to promote their own ideas… [there was a culture which] “made children vulnerable to extremism”
The theme of “unchecked” orthodoxy is recurrent in both Wilshaw’s and Clarke’s statements. The culture was the beliefs of Muslims as gauged by the personal questions Ofsted inspectors have reported to have asked (which mosque do teachers pray at, for instance). Now we have Clarke’s statement:
“…sustained, coordinated agenda to impose segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline, politicised strain of Sunni Islam” on children in a number of Birmingham schools. A draft of the report, marked as sensitive, states: “Left unchecked, it would confine schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain.”
In fact, the statement sounds like Maajid Nawaz’s definition of extremism in the context of the Shari’ah, which he trotted out in a BBC interview:
“A desire to impose any given interpretation through law.”
There is no doubt that there have been failures, from governance issues to power-play, the problems entail a wide diaspora of issues in schools. The key point is this however: these problems are most certainly not peculiar to one faith, demographic or group. My articles in exposing various details of the attacks on the schools have sought to highlight the discriminatory targeting of the Muslim minority – they have never sought to exonerate any mistakes which have been made, unless there are good reasons in doing so, such as the plethora of lies, twists and distortions which have been peddled in the media.
This neatly brings us to my favourite reporter. The sock-puppeting “journalist” that is the hype-whore Andrew Gilligan did another piece mainly targeting the Jewish community.
Is Gilligan trying to restore some balance in his reporting by targeting the Jewish community? No Gilligan. One tokenistic piece is nothing compared to the targeted harassment of Muslims you have dished out over the six months and the continued surveillance you or your cronies subject victims too.
Despite some similarities in the allegations made about the Muslim faith schools/madrassas in the UK, and the Jewish schools (that they are insular, non-integrative and “indoctrinating”), there has not been an outcry regarding the Jewish community and the fallaciously constructed possibility of terrorism, despite the fact the British Jews are serving in the IDF. Neither have any of the neocons in Government blustered over the “shocking” revelations which are unseating “British values”, whatever they may be. After all according to the report, a number of Jewish schools stop teaching secular subjects to focus on yeshivas (religious studies), with Yiddish being the sole language being taught. In spite of this, no allegations, by Gilligan, are made of “hardliners” pushing “hardline” beliefs (as was done in the context of Muslims) and neither was the appellation “extremist” used to describe any of the aspects of the school’s “preaching”. Zionism is taught in their syllabi. Will Wilshaw be forming policy suggestions based on the potentially extremist nature of their curriculums and link it the fact that Zionism is a supremacist ideology which has been condemned as racism?