Orientalism, Palestine and covering Islam

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CROSSPOST: Dr Hatem Bazian

Three of Edward Said’s books are as timely today as the day they were published almost 40 years ago: Orientalism (1978), The Question of Palestine (1979), and Covering Islam (1981). The three constitute Said’s trilogy that focused on literary and artistic representation in the service of empire, colonial dispossession, and the media shaping and reproducing Orientalist tropes. Said’s contributions are an invaluable source for anyone attempting to deconstruct the ebbs and flows of events and development in the Arab and Muslim worlds. At the same time, the three books offer a strong critique of Western policies and public discourse that purport to cover the “East” as a separate and mysterious place filled with irrationality.

Observing the daily events in the Arab and Muslim worlds, one is at a loss to comprehend the sheer destruction and the snuffing out of hope faced by a multitude of peoples – 1.4 billion, to be precise. Said’s writing intuitively de-constructed the racialized lens used by Western academics, press, and policymakers to justify their continued disregard of the needs and well-being of the Arab and Muslim worlds.

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Zionism is a global apparatus that seeks to shut down will of the people

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CROSSPOST: Nadia Elia

Last week, millions of Palestinians around the world commemorated the 68th anniversary of Al Nakba, the catastrophe that befell Palestine, without which the Jewish state could not have come into being.

Palestinian refugees in the Naqab desert, in Gaza, in the West Bank, and in a number of refugee camps in neighbouring Arab countries held symbolic “return marches” in a determined assertion that we are not surrendering our Right of Return. The “March of Return” in the Naqab was especially significant, as it was held in defiance of Israel’s ban on any commemoration of Al Nakba.

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The “Grassroots” Pro-Israel Activist Groups Dedicated to Conflating Anti-Zionism with Anti-Semitism

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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 herefor 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.

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Sykes-Picot: A Century of Conspiratorial, Fatal Games

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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[1]

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.

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William Shawcross, Peter Clarke Invited to a Conference of Neocons, Apartheid-Supporters, Anti-Muslim Bigots

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For much of the Muslim minority and from the perceptions garnered from my contacts working in the third sector, the impartiality of the Charity Commission and specifically the head, William Shawcross, is, to put it mildly, a running joke. A recent find by the journalist, Ben White, (posted on Facebook) has further added fuel to the pro-Israel, anti-Muslim fire.

William Shawcross the current chair of the Charity Commission and Peter Clarke, the individual who headed the investigations into Trojan Hoax allegations at Birmingham schools at the behest of Michael Gove, have been invited to a conference held in the Zionist entity. The Commission has confirmed that Shawcross has “politely declined” the invite, however this is unsurprising given the fact that he has had to come out and publically state he is not targeting Muslim charities and now needs to respond to a legal action which alleges that his Commission has exceeded its powers. The fact that he has made the itinerary of the conference does indicate that he may have initially accepted the invitation. Regardless, the fact that the conference organisers sought him fit to speak on a provocative topic speaks volumes about Shawcross and his neocon companion Clarke.

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The Neoconservatism in Michael Gove and Celsius 7/7 (3) – Foreign Policy and an Amoral “Moral Clarity”

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In this series, we will delve deeper into the views held by our new Justice Secretary, Michael Gove as articulated in his book, Celsius 7/7, with additional commentary explaining the neoconservativism underpinning the statements where appropriate, and the impact it has thus far had on the good Britons of this country.

Click here to read Part 1.

Click here to read Part 2.


 

Michael Gove’s views on Foreign Policy

Gove’s articulation of foreign policy issues are, in typical neocon fashion, equally belligerent and supremacist.  He arrogantly writes that,

“If we believe in the superiority of our way of life, if we believe in, as the anti-apartheid movement the civil rights movement believed… then we should believe in, and want urgently to work for, the spread of democracy across the globe.”[1]

Warring is thus arrogantly premised upon the colonialist notion of superiority.  The remit of a discussion on the appropriateness of democracy for all nations is beyond our scope, however, it is a dubious claim to say the least.

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The Neoconservatism in Michael Gove and Celsius 7/7 (2) – Islam and Muslims as the Enemy

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In this series, we will delve deeper into the views held by our new Justice Secretary, Michael Gove as articulated in his book, Celsius 7/7, with additional commentary explaining the neoconservativism underpinning the statements where appropriate, and the impact it has thus far had on the good Britons of this country.

Click here to read Part 1.


The belief in Islam has been used by the Police and other Government bodies in Britain to disadvantage Muslims (see here, and here, for instance). The core understanding of this draconian manifestation can be found in Michael Gove’s book, Celsius 7/7. An inspection of this book reveals views that give credence to Whitehall sources, which have been quoted as having said that,

“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.”

The Whitehall source went onto suggest that his agenda drove his militant “intervention” into the Birmingham schools last year vis-à-vis the Trojan Hoax plot.

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