Pro-Israel activists have been gathering momentum in their concerted effort to conflate Zionism with Judaism/Jewish identity and therefore censor particular references and discourses.
Based on dubious and deceptive conflation, several Labour MPs have been suspended. Notable organisations fronting these efforts are “feeder” groups which often forward information onto other Israel lobby groups like the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council. These grassroots organisations are linked to other organisations which have been, for instance, directly responsible for the eventual suspension of Jackie Walker – a Jewish anti-racism activist who made the “mistake” of saying “millions more Africans were killed in the African Holocaust”. Similar conflations by these organisations have been made about NUS President Malia Bouattia (see here and here, for instance).
A brief peruse down the social media timelines shows that some of their campaigns have targeted (I would argue legitimately) those instances which genuinely constitute anti-Semitism. This, however is insidiously supplemented by a concerted campaign to confuse anti-Israel views and political activism with anti-Semitism. Bullying and intimidation tactics, like in the case of Walker, are adopted to force this conflation. In doing so, boundaries on what can and cannot be articulated about Israel are redrawn and free speech – the favoured neocon invocation for anti-Islam hate – is assaulted. The organisations also profess views which are often aired from the Zionist far-right.
Mark Sykes, 1917
“I want to see a permanent Anglo-French entente allied to the Jews, Arabs, and Armenians which will render pan-Islamism innocuous…” – Mark Sykes, 1917
The Middle East is experiencing convulsions as the vicious cycle of violence continues and the boundaries which were once drawn upon ignorance and arrogance remain in a state of uncertainty. The continued Western violence in the Muslim world and the destructive responses of individuals in Europe too are also not disconnected from history and historic politics. Indeed, the upheavals in the Middle East are not an isolated phenomena, as is often made out to be.
The source of this great distress for Muslims has been in no part due to the intrigues and “great games” which have played out over the past century.
An old article which, eleven years on, demonstrates that the tactics of the pro-Israel activists have not changed much. Smear criticism as racist to shutdown discussion about the crimes of a terrorising, racist state.
CROSSPOST: Ken Livingston
Racism is a uniquely reactionary ideology, used to justify the greatest crimes in history – the slave trade, the extermination of all original inhabitants of the Caribbean, the elimination of every native inhabitant of Tasmania, apartheid. The Holocaust was the ultimate, “industrialised” expression of racist barbarity.
Racism serves as the cutting edge of the most reactionary movements. An ideology that starts by declaring one human being inferior to another is the slope whose end is at Auschwitz. That is why I detest racism.
The neocon propaganda machine is at full tilt as the government reveals its ultimate legislative weapon to excise active Muslim political activists from civil society under the dissent-suppressing counter-extremism discourse. Andrew Gilligan has already taken a swipe at Muslim organisations through his trademark blend of Muslim “extremists”, spin and lies. Even Peter Oborne could not help but notice that his article contained “a number of unsubstantiated claims” and “a number of factual errors”.
Elsewhere, David Cameron apparently likes Muslims. Well *some* Muslims would be more accurate. In what must be the most sterile PR stunt ever, he has lent his approval to a head-scarf wearing Muslim contestant of the TV show, the Great British Bake Off. One can understand why:
- Is her politics reflective of a Muslim who needs to prove her “Britishness”? Check.
- Does the Muslim belong to a gender group which needs to be saved from Islam? Check.
- Does the show have the word “British” as part of its title? Check.
- Are the general public supporting her? Check.
It sure is a safe bet. Previously, in Eid messages, Cameron has spoken of the “good Muslims” who fought for “our freedoms” off the back of the brutal colonialism of the Muslim world. Later, in his Birmingham speech, he would go onto proclaim that he was going to “actively encourage the reforming and moderate Muslim voices.” These voices incidentally belong to “progressive Muslims” who also happen to be primed by key neoconservative officials and who support their key policies, from the discourse on Muslims and global democracy-spreading to Trident. Such promotion and support is key to maintaining the neoconservative assumptions around the Muslim context. The fundamental impediment is garnering legitimacy from the mainstream Muslim community.
Crosspost: CJ Werleman
Those who naively and optimistically believe the “enlightened” West is incapable of repeating the genocidal horrors of the 20th century are those most susceptible to mankind’s destructive impulse.
In American society, there’s an unconscious faith in the nation state, technology, modernity and science that assures Americans that the horrors of a fascistic state could never happen here. But to believe this one must forget, as Karen Armstrong, a prodigious religious historian reminds us, that the most advanced educational institutions in the Western world were located directly next door to the gas chambers.
Notwithstanding the fact it was not that long ago hundreds of thousands Japanese American civilians were harassed, removed from their homes, and placed into military internment camps. Decades later those of Russian heritage were treated to similar discrimination.
Crosspost: Media Lens
The sudden cancellation of an academic conference on Israel, as well as the lack of outcry from ‘mainstream’ media, demonstrates once again the skewed limits to ‘free speech’ in ‘advanced’ Western democracies. ‘Je suis Charlie’ already feels like ancient history. It certainly does not apply when it comes to scrutiny of the state of Israel.
The conference, titled ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’, was to be held at the University of Southampton from 15-17 April 2015. Planned speakers included Richard Falk, the former UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Gabi Piterberg, a historian at the University of California at Los Angeles, Israeli academic Ilan Pappé and Palestinian historian Nur Musalha.
The meeting was billed as the ‘first of its kind and constitutes a ground-breaking historical event on the road towards justice and enduring peace in historic Palestine.’ The approach would be scholarly with ‘multidisciplinary debate reflecting diverse perspectives, and thus genuine disagreements’. Rather than being a coven of political extremists and violent hotheads, this was to be a serious gathering of respected and authoritative academics with in-depth knowledge of Israel and Palestine.
But intense pressure from the Israel lobby about the airing of ‘anti-Semitic views’ has torpedoed the University of Southampton’s earlier stated commitment to uphold ‘freedom of speech within the law’. In a classic piece of bureaucratic hand-wringing, the university issued a corporate-style statement on 1 April that leaned heavily on the pretext of ‘health and safety’ to kill off the conference. This happened a mere two weeks before the conference, planned months earlier in consultation with the university, was due to begin.
The reports of late around the increases in anti-Semitic reporting have primarily centred on Palestine, with Andrew Gilligan for instance, attempting to forge a link between the rise in attacks and Muslims Islam.
This came to a more emphatic, anti-Muslim assertion made by a Jew amongst the audience on BBC’s Question Time (05/02/2015), who stated that (at 57 minutes),
“There is a strong correlation between the rise of Muslims in Britain, and the rise of anti-Semitism… we don’t how many come from Muslims and how many don’t, but I suspect, there is a very strong relationship.”
The assertion was calmly made as though it was a statement of fact, yet it was admitted that the actual figures were not known. An unsubstantiated attack on the Muslim minority, no less.
In my piece on Gilligan, I highlighted how Gilligan focussed entirely on Muslims and Muslim behaviour. He also dragged in Muslim organisations and individuals in what was a Salafi-bashing piece, a nod to RICU directives, presumably. After reading Gilligan’s propaganda material, it would be understandable why the gentlemen in the audience relayed his anti-Muslim thoughts in the manner he did.