August 07, 2015

Scottish PSC reaffirms commitment to anti-racism while CounterPunch reaffirms commitment to antisemitism

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign has sent an open letter to the US Campaign to End the Occupation supporting the latter's disassociation from certain white supremacist and antisemitic elements who seek to legitimise themselves by cosying up to the Palestine solidarity movement.

Here's a chunk, indeed the gist of SPSC's letter:
Across the whole range of Palestine solidarity groups and networks in the UK, none could write or appear even once in White supremacist newspapers or social media; it is unthinkable. Any association with any brand of extreme right, racist formations would disgust and repel all those who currently give us active and passive support. It would be madness. 

The back story to the controversy mostly in the US between Palestine solidarity activists who believe the movement must be anti-racist across the board and those who believe that the movement should be so broad as to accommodate racists has become a little complex now but it began with Jewish Voices for Peace writing privately to a fairly high profile antisemite, Alison Weir, stating their disapproval of her approach and her associations.  She went public on the spat and far-rightists seem to have taken the opportunity to try to steer the movement their way.  Here's the take of the US Campaign to End the Occupation.  I'll just provide the intro here:
The following statement, issued by the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation 

1. summarizes our receipt of a complaint against Alison Weir and the organization If Americans Knew and our subsequent action following that complaint, 

2. provides further discussion of our position on the political issues that this case touches upon,  

3. and provides evidence and documentation that undergirds the decisions that have been made by the organization. 
Among many issues raised regarding Weir was a clearly antisemitic article she had published in CounterPunch where she reran the allegation that Israel hunts people down and kills them specifically to take their internal organs (the kernel of truth being that Israel, in common with several other states including the UK, has indeed taken organs from the dead) and she linked this to the allegation that Jews killed Christians in medieval times to use their blood for ritual purposes.

Support for the far-right came from an unexpected quarter when Louis Proyect, a high profile former leftist published an utterly bogus defence of Alison Weir and an attack on JVP on his blog which he still calls Unrepentant Marxist.  Subsequently he also posted some kind of petition to support Alison Weir that he hasn't actually signed himself as far as I could see last time I looked.

Well I was wondering when CounterPunch would host something in support of their antisemitic occasional (but by no means isolated) guest. I assumed they would come up with something denying the antisemitism but I was wrong.  They've posted something openly antisemitic.  Certainly the article by a Jack Dresser repeats all the lies and glossovers you can see on Louis Proyect's blog and which are ably exposed in US Campaign's statement but Dresser introduces a real howler:
Alison’s politically incorrect policy has been to disseminate salient facts to anyone, anywhere to achieve the broadest possible reach among American citizens, without political discrimination. The expelling organizations undoubtedly fear that the knowledge will feed anti-Semitism. Maybe it will, but the appropriate remedy would be a collective demand by the Jewish diaspora to end the Zionist project, make reparations to its victims, and establish a democratic state, not to withhold information from people who might use it to make Jewish Americans uncomfortable.[emphasis added]
Ok, let's leave aside the guy's ignorance of the fact that many zionists are antisemitic and vice versa but how do Jews issue a collective demand?  Really, unless you believe there is such a thing as a worldwide Jewish conspiracy to which all Jews are party, how can you believe that Jews are capable of issuing a collective demand?

Now I have to say, from what I have seen of CounterPunch over the years this kind of thing is by no means atypical.

I blogged about Elise Hendrick's post titled CounterPunch or Suckerpunch where using samples of posts from CounterPunch she demonstrated that the motivation of the editors appears to be the promotion of some kind of red-brown alliance given the ratio of far-right posts to leftist posts.  All the various supporters of CounterPunch have managed to do so far is quibble over her arithmetic.

The idea that CounterPunch is bona fide leftist publication is no longer tenable (if it ever was) unless essentialising bigotry aka racism is part of the leftist credo.




July 25, 2015

Emergency demonstration against the demolition of the Palestinian village, Susiya

Sunday 26 July 2015 2-4pm: 

Emergency demonstration against the demolition of the Palestinian village, Susiya, in Occupied Palestine. There have been joint demonstrations by Palestinians and Israeli human rights activists. Let’s make our voice heard in support of them and Susiya’s 340 villagers.

Entrance to the Israeli embassy, Kensington High Street, London W8, nearest tube: Kensington High Street. 

More info on Susiya via Twitter

July 22, 2015

Red-Brown Black and Blue - CounterPunch Editor Licks His Wounds

Yes, it's as disgusting as it sounds.  Jeffrey St. Clair, the Counterpunch editor, has done what CounterPunch never allows its targets to do and that is exercise his right of reply on a blog.   The blog, Messages from Exile (or in the original, meldungen aus dem exil), belongs to Elise Hendrick who has written a wonderfully detailed report on CounterPunch's longstanding relationship with the far right.  It's titled CounterPunch or Suckerpunch.

Well, Jeffrey St Clair has been so stung by it he has penned as disingenuous a response as you will see anywhere on anything. It was so at odds with what had been written in the main post, I'm not even sure if Elise realised what he was playing at at first.  Now at this point you might want to go and read Elise's post but it really isn't necessary to see what a clown St Clair is being.  Just note that Elise's main objections to CounterPunch are its propensity for posting racism and conspiracy theories.

Now here's St Clair:
You are, naturally, quite free to draw what ever conclusions you like about the political slant of CounterPunch, but your assertions should at least have some tenuous tether to reality, especially when you purport to do a deep “statistical” analysis of stories and authors. We’ve published more than 55,000 articles since 1999. Ralph Nader, alone, has written more than 400 articles for us. Is Ralph left or right? Well, he’s of Lebanese descent, so we can surmise where you would slot Ralph. That’s another 400 articles for your right wingers, I guess. How about Edward Said. Dozens of articles for the pre-eminent intellectual critic of Imperialism. But, yes, Edward was Palestinian and thus by your crafty declinations he was a birth-right right-winger. Kaching! More bonus points for you!! What about Fidel Castro, left or right? We run all of Fidel’s columns, all of Ricardo Alarcon’s, too. Critics of Israel. Shame on them. What about Philip Agee, former CIA spook who spilled the beans? We ran lots of story by Phil before he died. How about Subcomandante Marcos. We’ve published almost all of his dispatches from the Lacondon. Left or right? Hard call. He is a smoker. Right hand column, I guess. Uri Avnery, Jew, former member of the Knesset, served with Begin in the Irgun. 500 articles by Uri. Hmm. Hard call. Put him in the excluded middle I guess. What about Kathy Kelly? Catholic Worker, nominated several times for Nobel Prize. We published more than 300 pieces by Kathy and a book. More bait to lure naives leftists into a ‘trap.’ Could be. What about one of the greatest living black novelists, Ishmael Reed? He is he dupe? How about his daughter, Tennessee. We published her book on how the US education system throws one roadblock after another in front of young black women. That’s an entire book. How about Kevin Alexander Gray, one of the leading black civil rights organizers in the US, led the campaign to vanquish the Confederate Flag in South Carolina for two decades. Dozens of articles by Kevin and two books. But, whoops, he’s a critic of Israel. Does that make him a black white supremacist? I guess they do exist, consider the spectacle of Clarence Thomas. But I don’t think even you could squeeze Kevin into that box–not in his presence anyway. What about our book, Killing Trayvons? Just another con job? Frankly, I don’t care how you align our writers on your bifurcated little list, which has ominous overtones of other little lists kept by your compatriots in the not-so-distant past, but you should at least acknowledge their existence! And stop calling what you’re doing “statistical analysis”. As that infamous right-winger Mark Twain said, there’s lies, damned lies and statistics. But you don’t even HAVE statistics. Just your own hand-picked glob of silly putty. Good luck with your auto-de-fe.
He's obviously too radical for spacing or paragraphs or anything conventional like that.

First, in his panic he's confused statistics with, er, counting every single one of something.  How about sampling and proportions, Jeffrey?  I know significance is a concept in statistics but even non-statistically the significance of CounterPunch publishing rather a lot of racist tosh among its 55,000 articles is lost on poor wounded Jeffrey.  And was it an issue with political, numerical or literary comprehension that Jeffrey missed Elise's (not so) honourable mention of Ralph Nader:
in his April 2014 Left-Right AliancesRalph Nader concludes:
 It is a neglected responsibility of the mainstream media to expand reporting on left/right concurrences, especially where they move into action around the country. It is our responsibility as citizens to more visibly surface these agreements into a new wave of political reform. Guess what? It starts with left/right conversations where we live and work. Not even corporatists can stop you from getting that train moving.
If there are any potential drawbacks to this strategy – perhaps evident from the various historical precedents for Querfront – Nader does not see fit to mention them.
Jeffrey St Clair didn't see fit to mention them either or maybe he just didn't see them.

And "how about Edward Said?" Indeed.  How about the fact that Edward Said died in 2003. I don't know if I knew Counterpunch in 2003 but I certainly discerned its then flirtation with antisemitism a year later. I well remember my dismay when I found there was no space for comments nor a letters page.

But hold on, what does St Clair say about Said?
Edward was Palestinian and thus by your crafty declinations he was a birth-right right-winger. 
And what did he say about Ralph Nader?
Is Ralph left or right? Well, he’s of Lebanese descent, so we can surmise where you would slot Ralph. 
Wow! What's he on about?  What's he on, period?  Could he really have simply invented a false allegation of essentialising ethnicities against Elise Hendrick or was he running with a kernel of truth for what was an egregious lie?  I thought and thought and I could only reckon that Jeffrey St Clair was so stung by criticism after people tiptoed round his racist rag for so long that he actually thought white supremacy was not an ideology but an ethnicity.  Really, he thought that in denouncing white supremacism Elise Hendrick was denouncing whites for being white.  There can be no other explanation.  And as I said earlier, if you look at the comments, it was so irrational a comment, even Elise missed it at first.

Anyway, he then lists out various contributors with their names, their subject, and, naturally, their ethnicity and there we see a pattern of the promoters of white entitlement seeing or claiming to see racism in their detractors criticisms.  And thus Jeffrey St Clair's integrity lies in tatters courtesy of a blog I had never heard of only one week ago.

But Jeffrey St Clair shouldn't see himself in denunciations of white supremacy.  He's just been beaten black and blue which isn't white at all. Maybe next time he should stay in his sewer to lick his wounds.

July 17, 2015

If Anti-Racists Knew Alison Weir

Statement on Complaint Filed Regarding Alison Weir and If Americans Knew 


July 16, 2015


The following statement, issued by the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation 

1. summarizes our receipt of a complaint against Alison Weir and the organization If Americans Knew and our subsequent action following that complaint, 

2. provides further discussion of our position on the political issues that this case touches upon, 

3. and provides evidence and documentation that undergirds the decisions that have been made by the organization. 

Part 1: Process and Decision with Respect to Complaint against Alison Weir and If Americans Knew

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a coalition of hundreds of US-based groups working for Palestinian rights. In 2012, the Steering Committee of the US Campaign, elected at our annual conference, formed a working group to address racism within the coalition as part of our ongoing effort to become an anti-racist organization. The work of this group resulted in the adoption of our anti-racism principles in 2013 and the establishment of procedures for handling instances of racism and bigotry within the coalition.

Earlier this year, the US Campaign received a formal complaint from a member group regarding actions and statements by Alison Weir while representing a coalition member group, If Americans Knew. A committee was formed to review this complaint, to allow Ms. Weir to respond to the complaint for herself, and to determine whether our anti-racism principles have been violated; importantly, the committee also assessed whether these violations are likely to continue in the future. 

After a thorough review and a correspondence with Ms. Weir, the committee has concluded that Ms. Weir’s repeated statements and actions, often as the Executive Director of If Americans Knew, did indeed violate our anti-racism principles, as detailed later in this statement. Ms. Weir's responses led us to believe that these violations will continue in the future.  Based on the report of the review committee, our Steering Committee voted in favor of removing Ms. Weir and If Americans Knew from our coalition.

Ms. Weir and If Americans Knew have been notified of this determination which is effective immediately. Per our established procedures, Ms. Weir and If Americans Knew are entitled to reapply to join the coalition, at which time the US Campaign Steering Committee will assess whether concerns detailed herein have been addressed.

Our decision was informed by the following actions taken that we believe violate our anti-racism principles. In the attachments to this decision, we include full footnotes and evidence undergirding each point:

1. Ms. Weir posted a blog on her personal website that references Jews as a race being “an object of hatred to all the peoples among whom it has established itself,” effectively blaming Jews for anti-Semitism. (See Section 1 of Part 3)

2. In writing about a controversy surrounding allegations of the Israeli military harvesting the organs of Palestinians in 2009, Ms. Weir responded to supporters of Israel claiming this was a new “blood libel” by citing the research of Ariel Toaff, who purported to have uncovered ritual murder of Christian children by Jews in medieval Europe (the very definition of “blood libel”). (See Section 2 of part 3)

3. Ms. Weir has appeared at least five times for hour-long episodes on notorious white supremacist and militiaman Clayton Douglas’s radio show, the “Free American Hour,” between 2010 and 2012. A cursory glance at Douglas’s homepage would raise concerns about the host and program’s political content. Douglas’s homepage features the confederate flag, a video that opens with the title “9/11 Brainwashing and the Holohoax,” and numerous references to the “Jew World Order” and its “war on Adolph Hitler,” as well as claims of “ritual murder of Christians and Children by Jews.” While interviewing Ms. Weir, Douglas:

a. made derogatory remarks about Arabs (See 3.a and 3.d of Part 3)

b. repeatedly asserted Jewish control of the world (3.b, 3.g, 3.h, and 3.j)

c. quoted and played speech by the former head of the KKK, David Duke, proclaiming a war on Christianity (3.c, 3.e)

d. demonized adherents of communism, insinuating it is a Jewish conspiracy (3.h)

e. downplayed or denied the existence of apartheid historically in South Africa, analogizing criticism of white South Africans during apartheid, which Douglas sees as unfair, to the treatment of white Americans today. Similarly, Douglas analogizes the average German between WWI and WWII and average white American today (3.f 3.j) 

Confronted with these assertions and statements, and knowing full well Douglas’s larger record of white supremacist views, Ms. Weir made little to no effort to challenge, confront, or rebut any of these views; on the contrary, she continued to appear on the show, placing Palestinian rights advocacy within the context of -- rather than in opposition to -- those views.

4. During appearances on Douglas’s radio show, Ms. Weir:

a. explained her view that Muslims are much closer to Christians than Jews, stating “...sadly, if you look at the theology of Judaism, that is quite different. So again, it’s not that I like to tell negative things about any group, but we do need to be fully informed on this.” (See Section 4a of Part 3)

b. acknowledged several books Douglas mentioned when ranting about communism and its connection to Jewish people, stating that she "read some portions of those books and they are as you say, they do discuss the Jewish connection to the Gulags..."(4b, Part 3)

c. acknowledged that Douglas is perceived as racist, but indicated that she dismissed these allegations. (4c, Part 3)

5. In addition to appearing on the “Free American Hour”, Ms. Weir spoke more than once, and as recently as April 2015, to the American Free Press, another white supremacist publication whose homepage currently features numerous defenses of the confederate flag, including an article proclaiming that the outrage around the Charleston shooting of nine Black church-goers is a tactic in the “ongoing war on traditional America.” The front page of their print publication declares “Civil War II: Hate group exploits tragic shooting as catalyst for vicious assault on Christian, Southern culture.” (See Section 5 of Part 3)

According to her response to our inquiry, Ms. Weir is fully committed as a matter of principle to continuing to contribute to American Free Press, “Free American Hour”, and any other show regardless of its agenda. That may be her principle but it is not ours.

Taken as a pattern, we concluded that Ms. Weir’s views and actions, on behalf of If Americans Knew, contradict the US Campaign’s anti-racism principles.

The US Campaign contacted Ms. Weir privately so that she could respond to the assertions herself, in her own words. Our correspondence with Ms. Weir was sent in accordance with our anti-racism procedures. Ms. Weir chose to publicize the private inquiry and misrepresent it as a public, divisive “attack” on her and her freedom to organize. Ms. Weir’s representation of our communication is inaccurate and functioned as a substitute to addressing the serious concerns we raised.

Although the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation deliberated solely on the allegations made and the subsequent facts uncovered by our review, we acknowledge that this issue has raised significant political questions that are relevant to the movement at large -- issues such as white supremacy, anti-Semitism, privilege, racism, and others. In the following section, we elaborate on some of these issues.


Part 2 - The US Campaign’s Position on Issues Raised by the Alison Weir Case 


We are striving to build a progressive, inclusive, and effective movement for Palestinian rights in the US. If Americans Knew and Executive Director Ms. Weir have long contributed to our movement, providing useful resources and tirelessly advocating for Palestinian rights. It is precisely for this reason that many of us were taken aback and disappointed by the stance Ms. Weir took in responding to what we believed would be an opportunity for a member organization to send a clear and powerful message opposing white supremacy, hate and racism. Some, including Ms. Weir, have incorrectly claimed that the US Campaign is acting at the behest of Jewish Voice for Peace. This suggestion seems to assume that only Jews can be concerned about anti-Semitism and racism in our movement. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our movement cannot flourish and achieve its aims if we tolerate the same biases and bigotry against which we fight.

• On allies: In Ms. Weir’s response and public comments, she insists that we need to spread the word about Palestinian rights, wherever we can, to gain more allies to our cause. We strongly believe that one cannot be an ally to the Palestinian cause if one’s objection to Israel’s actions toward Palestinians is part and parcel of one’s broader worldview of hatred toward all non-whites and non-Christians. Such “allies” want to use our movement to further their racist aims rather than truly help the Palestinian people. Just as we would not accept the KKK as an “ally” we also cannot accept individuals or groups that believe in its hateful ideology. It is the same logic we apply in not accepting any overtly Islamophobic, Zionist or homophobic groups in our coalition. 

• On strategic value: Claiming a strategic value in appearing on white supremacist media without challenging the racist or bigoted views presented, on the basis that it allows our message further access, may sound compelling, and even courageous to some, but it is an argument rooted in white privilege. We know that it is Palestinians, their struggle, and other people of color who suffer the consequences when movement members carry such affiliations. Principled advocates of Palestinian rights appear on media outlets that have promoted bigoted narratives, such as Fox News or CNN, in order to challenge, not reinforce, racism in all of its forms, including anti-Palestinian bias, Zionist propaganda, Islamophobia and white supremacy.

• On white supremacy: White supremacy is racism emanating from white privilege, or the belief that white people are superior to all other groups and races. The institutionalization of this hateful ideology has led to the killing and oppression of millions of native, African-American and other non-white people throughout the history of the United States. Institutionalized white supremacy continues its attack on black and brown communities today in various forms including police brutality, mass incarceration, anti-immigrant policies, and widespread Islamophobia. Appeasing white supremacists for political gain empowers and legitimizes white supremacy, which contributes to its ongoing ability to materially affect people’s lives.

• On divisiveness: We have heard concerns that bringing up these issues can be considered ‘divisive’ in our movement. We do not take those concerns lightly. We weigh them against the tendency in dominant culture to shy away from discussion about race and racism in order not to break a perceived consensus. This is as true for race in this country as it is for Palestinian advocacy. However, to be true to our principles, we must recognize that what is truly divisive is condoning racism or bigotry of any kind. Appeals to unity that fail to address issues of racism are rooted in white privilege, ultimately placing the burden on people of color to accept this racism as part of joining the movement or our coalition.

• On muzzling of dissent: We recognize that advocacy for Palestinian rights is often met with attempts to muzzle speech or portray legitimate criticism of Israeli policies as anti-Semitic. We have all learned to be vigilant to bring these efforts to light whenever they occur. Just as we insist on continuing to speak up loudly and forcefully for Palestinian rights, we hold the same commitment regarding racism and other forms of bigotry. Failing to do both violates our principles and damages the movement at large. Part 3 - Evidence and Documentation Supporting the US Campaign’s Decision The evidence and supporting documentation presented below pertains to actions taken by Ms. Weir and referenced in Part 1 of this statement. It contains quotes from materials that she posted on her website, and statements made to her in public conversations that she did not challenge. None of the evidence presented below refers to re-posts of her materials on third party websites or other acts or expressions not under her control. We feel compelled to present this information in detail as it fully conveys the gravity of the situation. This is not an isolated incident, and it is not rumor or hearsay; rather, it is a series of repeated, documented instances of accepting and condoning extreme racist speech. Moreover, the quotes below illustrate that this is not a case of re-branding legitimate criticism of Israeli policies as anti-Semitic; rather, it is a case of an individual favorably re-posting racist content on her website and failing to challenge racist statements made during interviews she participated in.

1. As part of a series of attacks on Palestinians who signed a statement distancing themselves from Israeli writer Gilad Atzmon, Ms. Weir hosted an original blog post on her personal website by Roger Tucker. In this post, Tucker quotes Jewish-French thinker Bernard Lazare’s 1894 Anti-semitism, its History and Causes:

“If this hostility, even aversion, had only been shown towards the Jews at one period and in one country, it would be easy to unravel the limited causes of this anger, but this race has been on the contrary an object of hatred to all the peoples among whom it has established itself. It must be therefore, since the enemies of the Jews belonged to the most diverse races, since they lived in countries very distant from each other, since they were ruled by very different laws, governed by opposite principles, since they had neither the same morals, nor the same customs, since they were animated by unlike dispositions which did not permit them to judge of anything in the same way, it must be therefore that the general cause of anti-Semitism has always resided in Israel itself and not in those who have fought against Israel.”

For anyone reading the excerpt Tucker chose (emphasis ours), it is evident it is aimed at blaming Jewish people [referenced as “Israel” given that the state did not exist at that time] for any bigotry they might face. Tucker also exceptionalizes Jewish religious texts by citing them as evidence that Jewish people are inherently racist, a practice we often identify as Islamophobia when done to the Qur’an:

“Just take a look at the Old Testament, let alone the blatant contempt for the “goyim” (non-Jews) found in the Talmud. The dehumanization of “the Other” is a very old and characteristically Jewish pattern. For tribal Jews and their allies, the “shabbas goyim,” to bandy about the term “racism” is hypocrisy of the highest order. (“The term shabbos goy refers to a non-Jew who performs duties that Jewish law forbids a Jew from performing on the Sabbath.” – wikipedia) What I am getting at is that Ali Abunimah et al are arguably shabbas goyim, non-Jewish elements of the currently dominant political force in the Western world that James Petras refers to as the Zionist Power Configuration (JPC).”

Finally, Tucker attributes Israel’s apartheid and settler-colonial policies to Jewish culture:

“...take a look at this, Ali Abunimah attacking Gilad Atzmon at the Stuttgart One State conference (Dec 2010. “Jewish Culture.. doesn’t explain anything at all.” This remark is not only absurd – it would be like saying that slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War…”

On this last point, it is important to understand that to conflate Judaism and Jewish people globally with the state of Israel is to replicate Zionism, a political ideology that has spent decades trying to convince the world that they are one in the same.

2. See Ms. Weir’s 2009 article “Israeli Organ Harvesting” http://www.counterpunch.org/2009/08/28/israeli-organ-harvesting/

3. Statements made by Clay Douglas to Ms. Weir during his interviews of her on his radio show:  
a. Made derogatory statements about Arabs [5:00],

b. referenced the Protocols of the Elders of Zion - a long debunked forgery claiming Jewish plans to control the world - as fact [22:25],

c. played clips of former head of the KKK David Duke speaking in which he declares that there is a war on Christianity in the United States, supporting sentiments Douglas himself frequently expresses. [35:00],

d. asked Ms. Weir, “The Palestinians aren’t Arabs; there’s a lot of them that are Christians TOO, aren’t they?” [32:23]

e. cited David Duke criticizing the presence of a menorah on the White House lawn but not a Christmas tree. Ms. Weir responded skeptically to the menorah story, but went on to state, “You know, if I moved to a country that was largely Muslim or largely Jewish, I wouldn’t feel, “Well, my.., I should suddenly take over and change that country, I would have to fit in and play a role.” [41:23]

f. downplayed the existence of apartheid in South Africa, criticizing the treatment of white South Africans and pejoratively calling Nelson Mandela a communist. Douglas went on to suggest that “Americans” (presumably referring to white Americans) are now similarly being unfairly treated as he believes white South Africans were under apartheid. [24:25]

g. claims that all of our media is controlled by Jewish people, then asks Ms. Weir, “If the Jews control the media and the newspapers, all of our sources of news, and they call our money… Alison, are we Palestinians on our own land, right now?" Ms. Weir responds challenging the use of the term 'the Jews,' highlighting that Jews aren't monolithic and mainstream Jewish organizations may take actions that not all Jews agree with. Yet at no time does she challenge Douglas' assertions including that Jews “call our money,” control all of the media, etc. [30:06]

h. begins ranting against Communism, claiming that all of the communist [used pejoratively] leaders were Jewish. Douglas says that the Russians used to call communism "Judaism for the masses." He continues on a bigoted and factually inaccurate rant, "60 million White Christian Russians were killed after the Soviet Union took over. The politburo in the Soviet Union was 90% Jewish. Marx and Lenin, the founders of communism, were Jewish. Stalin was Jewish. And all of the commissars that forced the Russians into battle against the Germans... they happened to be Jewish." Douglas then claims that the people running detention centers in the Soviet Union were Jewish. He continues, "We have the same setup, the same scenario, going on in America now." Ms. Weir begins her response to this rant by stating, "There's a lot happening that people truly need to wake up to..." [36:00]

i. Douglas regularly attacks communism and communists in all of the episodes of his show reviewed, including denouncing the late South African President and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela and his ANC party as communist.

j. mentions the possibility of President Obama being impeached due to a “lack of a birth certificate,” which Ms. Weir does not directly respond to but rather says she and Douglas agree on the point that "people should be getting the full facts." [44:50]

k. says that Hitler was "perceived as a hero to the German people because they were starving to death, their economy had crashed" and then appears to suggest that Americans are dealing with similar issues. Douglas subsequently blames the “Schiffs and the Rothschilds” for these issues, presumably referring to the two Jewish families. [45:40]

l. stated that, instead of calling those he was referring to “Jews,” he would call them “Morlocks,” a reference to fictional reptilian antagonists, in H.G. Wells novels, who dwell underground. [23:15

4. Statements made by Ms. Weir to Clayton Douglas on his radio show.

a. Ms. Weir explained that Muslims are much closer to Christians than Jews, stating “...sadly, if you look at the theology of Judaism, that is quite different. So again, it’s not that I like to tell negative things about any group, but we do need to be fully informed on this.” [29:00]

b. Ms. Weir acknowledged several books Douglas mentioned when discussing communism and its connection to Jewish people, stating that she "read some portions of those books and they are as you say, they do discuss the Jewish connection to the Gulags..." [38:55]

c. Throughout her interviews with Douglas, Ms. Weir repeats her belief and agreement that Douglas is not racist, violent or anti-Semitic.

5. As late as April 2015, Ms. Weir gave an interview to American Free Press. The front page of the American Free Press print publication declares “Civil War II: Hate group exploits tragic shooting as catalyst for vicious assault on Christian, Southern culture.” The website’s current top post is an apartheid apology and diatribe against Nelson Mandela


 - See more at: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=4510#sthash.poBIooPr.ZNQUFOe9.dpuf

July 04, 2015

Louis Learns Lesson

I'm absolutely convinced that Louis Proyect's hosting of a post supporting Alison Weir was such an aberration it must have been a mistake that his ego won't let him admit to. I honestly believe that he hosted the post without having read it.  Just like I used to take Louis too seriously so I took the first series of True Detective too seriously as well until I started seeing negative reviews and a couple of spoofs.  Here's a parody of True Detective that could equally apply to Louis Proyect's ducking, diving and lying his way through a thread on his blog before finally being confronted with what had actually happened. He simply cannot have read what he posted:





Other JSF posts on this here and here and Louis Proyect's post is here.

July 03, 2015

Louis Proyect remains Unrepentant

I could have called this Here Lies Louis Proyect but he's lied in so many places it would be misleading.

I've already posted on this so just briefly, it all began when I got my subscriber email for Louis Proyect's then latest post titled, The Jewish Voice for Peace Attack on Alison Weir: JVP Loses Its Balance. Following the link to the post I found that it was broken but googling some words I found the post on Louis's Marxmail site. I assumed that Louis had posted the piece in error because whatever else one can say about the post the main point of it was to defend an antisemite, Alison Weir.  Now since I've already posted on this, I will just copy and paste the emails from me to Louis and back and between Louis's guest poster, Amith Gupta and me.  Here goes:

Dear Louis

I was dismayed to see an email of a post from your blog defending Alison Weir and attacking some of her detractors.  I followed the link because I wanted to comment on the piece.  Off the top of my head I was going to mention her organisation, The Council for the National Interest (which your guest poster fails to mention presumably because the name alone should set alarm bells ringing) and I was going to dig up her article in Counterpunch in which she linked Israel's harvesting of Palestinian organs to the blood libel of yore even misrepresenting Israel Shahak to make her point.

I hope you've either deleted the post or decided not to run it because I was just doing a post criticising a David Aaronovitch article where said:

 many left-wingers and sympathisers with the Palestinian cause in this country and elsewhere can no longer tell the difference between progressive thinking and "essentialist" bigotry that used to be the preserve of the anti-democratic and racist right.

I'd hate you of all people to prove Aaronovitch right.

I've been googling for the defence of Alison Weir post and it isn't in the google cache of Unrepentant Marxist but it is on marxmail.  If you have deleted it from UM then perhaps you could also delete it from marxmail.

Regards
And here's how Louis responded:
It was taken down because I have to work on the formatting. You will have an opportunity to comment on it tomorrow. I am cc'ing the author.
Not quite the response I was hoping for so I quickly replied:
I emailed you in good faith assuming you had rectified an honest mistake but if you're knowingly promoting racism further comment is pointless.
but it gets worse.  Here's Louis's guest to me:
There is nothing beyond the pale in the article you cited. Weir discusses a Swedish report of a medical scandal involving Israeli soldiers accused of mutilating the bodies of their victims and engaging in organ trafficking. The Knesset itself investigated some of these charges and admitted that some of them were true: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2009/12/2009122315425789179.html

As far as Toaff and Shahak, the only reason Weir brings them up at all is because the Israeli officials who categorically denied the accusations in the Swedish report cited the blood libel myths against Jews. So Weir cites Toaff's controversial work in which he documented and continues to maintain that in some small, exceptional cases, there may have actually been some small number of unrepresentative deviants who actually engaged in such practices. For this, Toaff was condemned. 

I do not see how this can be seen by anyone as an attempt by Toaff or Weir for that matter to validate the blood libel. Only to show how accusations of blood libel can be used mask and defend deviant behavior, in this case, a serious war crime by Israeli troops. 

I do not know why you think any of this somehow validates Aaronovitch's claim. In my experience, to the extent that it is true, it is that lefties do not take the dignity of Arabs and Muslims seriously.
It was clear to me that I was dealing with a racist and I had only written to Louis to help him spare his blushes but here's me back to Gupta:
The reason Weir mentions Toaff and misrepresents Shahak is not to say that shit happens but to make out that such things have been done by Jews since time immemorial as part and parcel of the Jewish identity.  It's true that zionists use the blood libel libel (sic) as a smokescreen but Weir uses it as "evidence".

Your last paragraph is utterly nonsensical. I had no idea you or Alison Weir were claiming to speak for Arabs and/or Muslims and if you're not a leftist yourself, Aaronovitch wasn't referring to you.  He could certainly have a lot of fun using Louis Proyect's stupidity and lack of integrity against the whole of the left in future, only in future he won't have to make anything up.

I notice you haven't mentioned Weir's leadership of the Council for the National Interest presumably because if you did you might find yourself owning up to the fact that Alison Weir doesn't seem to take Arabs and Muslims particularly seriously unless they serve what she sees as the national interest.

Anyway, I told Louis Proyect that I emailed him in good faith because I assumed he had made an honest mistake. It appears I was wrong.  I never assumed you were being honest in the first place and on that, I was right.

I hope this correspondence is over now.
But back comes this Gupta chap again:
Hi,

That is not why she cited Toaff at all. The rest of your strange criticisms, including Arab/Muslim representation are addressed in the original piece.

Are you the only person behind JSF? I have always liked that blog. Never meet your heroes, they say.
As it turned out I did spend more time than is good for a person trying to reason with Louis on twitter, on his blog and here on JSF but to no avail. He got worse and worse and was happy to get the support of a couple of trolls supporting the racist post though, like Louis, neither seemed to have read it or the thread properly.  I actually think Louis probably did make a mistake in the first instance and that my email to him made him realise he couldn't simply walk away from it. He'd dug a hole for himself and decided to keep digging.  So here, there and in lots of other places lies Louis Proyect but he remains unrepentant.

June 26, 2015

Knowing the difference between Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism

David Aaronovitch had an article in The Jewish Chronicle a few weeks ago where he commends Sarah Annes Brown for spotting the antisemitism of one of the organisers of the recently postponed Southampton University conference on Israel.  It's a quirky piece but, typically, it ends up taking a swipe at the anti-zionist left.

Let's see how he starts:
What with one thing and another, I followed the spring furore over the "Israel" symposium at Southampton University only rather loosely.....

What I hadn't realised is how far gone some of the conference's animating spirits are in what I can only call the New Judeophobia. The gap in my education was filled this week with the latest edition of the magazine Fathom and an article by Professor Sarah Brown, anatomising the thinking of the Southampton academic and symposium organiser Oren Ben-Dor.
See that?  Maybe you didn't notice but Aaro only followed loosely what had been appearing all over The JC, for which he writes, for weeks before and after the event was postponed and the JC article he linked to no longer appears on the JC site but he snapped up and eagerly devoured the latest edition of the mouthpiece of Israel lobby group, BICOM, for which he doesn't yet write. Strange for a self-styled "non-Zionist" but let's read on:
One of the more unwelcome phenomena of recent life in the broad diaspora has been the appearance of a certain kind of Israeli exile who insists on telling us how bad Jews are.
See that?  In the previous paragraph he hadn't known about what in the next paragraph he describes as "phenomena of recent life".  Fast learner this guy.

And the next paragraph is a flat contradiction of the "recent life" one which, as we've seen contradicted the one before that.
until last week I had imagined that Mr Atzmon was more or less unique
So "recent life" began last week.

But for all that nonsense I think Aaro's understanding of what Sarah Annes Brown wrote was fair and in turn her understanding of Oren Ben-Dor was fair too.  And here is Aaro's take:
his article is entitled "Occupied Minds: Philosophical Reflections on Zionism, Anti-Zionism and the Jewish Prison..... it argues that Zionist and most anti-Zionist Jews are captives of the same primeval Jewish mindset, and that it is this mindset that, in effect, provoked antisemitic reaction, right down to the Holocaust itself.
In other words, Jews have been asking for it throughout history, and in fact quite like it when they get it.
Actually he misses the bit where Ben-Dor says that the nazis had to become like Jews themselves in order to carry out the holocaust but I suppose that's relatively small beer against the central thesis. Actually to give Sarah more credit than Aaro does, she refers to Ben-Dor's methodology such as it is by mentioning his penchant for "dark suggestion" over hard evidence, or indeed any evidence. But anyway, where does Aaro go with all this?
What is depressing about Ben-Dor is that many left-wingers and sympathisers with the Palestinian cause in this country and elsewhere can no longer tell the difference between progressive thinking and "essentialist" bigotry that used to be the preserve of the anti-democratic and racist right.
Now that was the bit that had me sending an email to the JC as follows:
Dear Sir

If nothing else the now "postponed" University of Southampton conference on the legitimacy or not of the State of Israel has raised the profile of one of its organisers, Oren Ben-Dor.

Ben-Dor's antisemitism was noticed and blogged by anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein back in 2008 whereas David Aaronovitch has only just noticed it.

In fairness, that doesn't tell us anything about David Aaronovitch's perception of antisemitism. The Board of Deputies knew nothing of Ben-Dor's warped world view when it lobbied the University of Southampton to cancel the conference using "two lines of attack...legal and health and safety".  Note, not antisemitism.

Zionists John Strawson and Geoffrey Alderman were going to address the conference. Neither of them raised any issue about Ben-Dor.

Even on the Israel advocacy and self-styled anti-antisemitism blog Engage, Zionist academic and racism expert Ben Gidley failed to mention any issue with Ben-Dor.  Engage's Dr David Hirsh simply said that Ben-Dor "has come to the defence of an open antisemite", not that he is antisemitic himself.

Given his low profile, Oren Ben-Dor has flown below the radar of most activists, both Zionist and anti-Zionist.  So why does David Aaronovitch berate the left and Palestine solidarity supporters over a failure to "tell the difference between progressive thinking and "essentialist" bigotry"?

It might even be that in defence of the State of Israel, Zionists have made so many bad faith allegations of antisemitism they can no longer differentiate between the crying of "wolf" and the wolf itself.

Yours faithfully
Now as luck would have it the JC didn't publish my letter.  I say it's lucky because one usually incisive blogger, Louis Proyect, the Unrepentant Marxist, has decided to prove Aaro at least partly correct by publishing a lengthy and tedious defence of quite a high profile American antisemite by the name of Alison Weir.

Now Louis Proyect's take on the various antisemites rearing their heads mostly on the internet has ranged from dismissive (Atzmon) to disgusted (Moon of AlabamaMRZine).  He's never been supportive before and I haven't noticed him being evasive when challenged before now.  Anyway, here's his post, which as I said is a guest post.  When asked why he was defending Weir he asked the questioner to elaborate. I reckon evasion is all Louis Proyect has when challenged over this post but I'll update if anything changes or maybe even if nothing does.

UPDATE 3/7/2015 09:51 - I'm being told by supporters of MRZine that Louis Proyect was smearing by association when he denounced them here.  I really don't know enough of what he was talking about to comment on that - though others may wish to.  What I have noticed in Louis Proyect's post titled, MRZine regular circulates anti-Semitic filth, is the logic he employs could easily apply to his own decision to publish support for an antisemite and a promotion of engagement with white supremacists.

See this from the post itself:
It doesn’t really matter if Chandan did not write this filth himself. He made the decision to publish the article by Muhammad Nasr, a long-time anti-Semite who writes for http://freearabvoice.org/.
And here's Louis in the comments:
I don’t think that MRZine is “promoting” these views, only that one of their favorite bloggers is too stupid to have noticed that an article he put on his blog was garbage.
I still don't know much about this but Louis has certainly published garbage on his blog with the guest post from this Amith Gupta.  He might not have realised what he was posting when he first posted it but when it was brought to his attention that Alison Weir has plenty of form for antisemitism in her own right without getting into her "repeat and friendly" associations with white supremacists he went into denial, blocked critics on twitter, started hurling insults around and ended up simply lying.  I also noticed that in spite of the post being about antisemitism and definitely not about Palestine, he has tagged it to Palestine and not to antisemitism.  It suggests to me that he does have the good sense to want the post buried and forgotten eventually and certainly he doesn't want it compared and contrasted with his usual position on antisemitism.  But given his ducking, diving, insulting, lying and blocking I don't suppose we'll ever know why he hosted a guest post by someone who wants antisemites to enjoy credibility in the Palestine solidarity movement.

All in all I have been shocked by Louis Proyect's sheer lack of integrity. The guest post was at best disingenuous and Louis's defences of it, such as they were, have been worse. I know that many bloggers let their egos get in the way of their integrity but what is genuinely sad is that Louis Proyect has shown such appalling judgement in all this

Access denied at the JC again but why?

David Aaronovitch had an opinion piece in the JC just recently and at the start he linked to an article that seems to have been disappeared.  The article was about the cancellation of the Southampton University conference on Israel and it was titled, Don't rush to welcome cancellation.  Clicking the link I got this:

Access denied

I searched for what I could glean from the url and came to the very useful pressreader.com site and from there to some Ireland based Palestine solidarity site where I found the article in copyable form.  So here it is:
Don’t rush to welcome cancellation
By: Simon Johnson

ONE OF the Jewish Leadership Council’s day-to-day jobs is to co-ordinate the best response and engagement when Israel-related issues impact on the UK Jewish community. In the past fortnight, there have been two issues which required a more sober, more sceptical analysis than the headlines provided. 

The first was the decision by Southampton University to cancel the “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” conference on the grounds of health and safety and security. There is no doubt that this conference was an appalling example of delegitimisation of Israel, a manipulation of academic freedom to promote hatred and discrimination. Jewish community organisations and grassroots activists had worked closely together to oppose it. 

But the fact Southampton University chose to cancel for health and safety reasons and security concerns represents a double-edged sword. 

Those who seek to undermine the legitimacy of Israel are already accusing Jewish organisations of threatening violence to force the cancellation of the conference. We do not know all of the complicated security considerations of Southampton University, but pro-Israel groups were planning to protest peacefully and appropriately. 

Another problem is that “security reasons” have been used in the past by other universities and student unions to prevent Israel supporters or Israel embassy representatives from speaking on campus. Sometimes these are real fears about violent protests or attacks, but other times we suspect that universities have misused “security” to kick out pro-Israel events. We have emphasised to university authorities that security of speakers is an inalienable element of universities’ duty to protect freedom of speech. 

So, the challenge for Jewish community organisations is this — how can we welcome this security decision and yet condemn others when those same reasons are used against our interests? 

This is why the JLC has not rushed to judgement and is thinking carefully about what this cancellation means in the bigger picture. 

Recently, Amnesty International published a report entitled Unlawful and Deadly: Rocket and Mortar attacks by Palestinian Armed Groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel Conflict. At first glance, there seemed to be a welcome rebalancing of Amnesty’s previous anti-Israel publications. The report rightly condemned Hamas for its indiscriminate firing of rockets at Israeli civilian areas; its callous disregard for Gaza based civilians in the firing of rockets, and even rightly identified a Hamas rocket as the cause of death of 11 children and two adults in a Palestinian refugee camp in July. That is what made the headlines. 

But, if you study the full report, it is clear that Amnesty tries to explain away Hamas’ actions by referring to the Israeli blockade — a context denied to Israel in its report on Israel’s actions last year. The report contains criticism of Israel for its treatment of Bedouins inside its recognised borders; this isn’t related to Hamas rockets but it’s clearly a theme that Amnesty — with its relentless focus on Israel — is likely to return to. 

And of course, the organisation’s bona fides in its reports on the region are called into question by Amnesty UK’s continued employment of Kristyan Benedict, a man with a track record of provocative social media postings that some have seen as antisemitic. 

That is why we and other organisations have reserved judgement so we can discuss the troubling detail. 

So, a delegitimising conference cancelled and a critical report on Hamas? Behind these headlines lie complex issues that we will be wrestling with for months. We should sometimes be careful what we wish for.
Now why on earth did the JC bury the article?