Month: April 2016

The Media and Political Attacks on Ken Livingstone are a Disgrace


The nation seems to have lost its collective mind over Labour MP Ken Livingstone stating that Hitler supported Zionism. Specifically, he said: “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”. At first when I read about this, I was shocked but not sure about what to think of his suspension from the Labour Party. However, I then went and did some research into whether Ken’s remarks had any truth behind them. Well, it turns out that he’s completely correct; Hitler did indeed support Zionism in 1933, when his government struck up a deal with German Zionist Jews to allow them to emigrate to Palestine and leave Germany. Ironically, this was partially in response to Jewish efforts to boycott the Nazi regime, somewhat mirroring the current desperate efforts of the Israeli regime and its loyal servants in the West to crush the BDS movement.

While Ken’s comments were somewhat ill-advised at a time when the Labour Party is being repeatedly smeared with accusations of anti-Semitism, it is no less despicable and abhorrent how the media, the political class and large segments of the public are clamouring to attack him in total oblivion to the facts. No one in the media seems to be pointing out that what he said is completely true; instead, he is being labelled an anti-Semite and even a “Nazi apologist”. All of this is an indication of the totalitarian culture in the UK which has been successfully whipped up by Zionist elements, in which any criticism of Israeli crimes is immediately viewed as an attack on the Jewish people as a whole. The irony of this is that it is the people accusing anti-Zionists of anti-Semitism who are in fact being anti-Semitic; they are the ones equating all Jews everywhere with the State of Israel, regardless of whether they are supportive of Israel or not. In fact, Jews have been at the forefront of the BDS campaign, recognising that Israel is an apartheid state and that its racist and criminal destruction of the Palestinian people is an extreme injustice. By equating Jews with Zionism, these people are defining what constitutes being a legitimate Jew; if a Jew is anti-Zionist, they are not a ‘real’ Jew, and therefore the Jewish community as a whole is inextricably linked with the crimes of the Israeli regime, while those Jews who oppose Israeli atrocities are ostracised and victimised.

Now is the critical time to step up the pressure on the Israeli government to end its atrocities against the Palestinian people. According to Israeli journalist and dissident Gideon Levy, the first signs of fascism are beginning to materialise in Israel. The country currently has the most right-wing, extremist government in its history, and as its attempts to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians become more and more horrific and criminal, so too the attempts in Britain and the wider Western world to whitewash Israeli atrocities and crush efforts to support the Palestinians gradually intensify. Likewise, as human beings we must also fight to combat anti-Semitism in all its forms; it is true that a minority of people who identify as pro-Palestinian are actually simply anti-Semites, but it is also true that much of the most extreme anti-Semitism comes from the Zionist movement, as Zionists continue to abuse and alienate those Jews who oppose the Israeli occupation. Justice will prevail in the end, but we cannot let ourselves be silenced.

Why the EU Debate is Becoming a Distraction


The debate over whether or not Britain should leave the EU has become the dominant issue in the mainstream British media. Week after week on the BBC’s Question Time, for example, ‘Brexit’ seems to be the only topic up for discussion. The elites and corporate media factions are busy warring over this issue, whereas it is hard to know whether the public even cares a great deal. In fact, numerous audience members on Question Time have expressed their frustration at not knowing which way to vote, due to the disinformation and misinformation disseminated by both sides of the debate.

What this demonstrates more than anything is the media’s power as agenda-setters. They choose which topics dominate public discourse, and thus which topics deserve attention and which topics do not. The reason why the EU debate seems to be the only topic being discussed these days is because the corporate media has been endlessly clamouring over it, as have the dominant elites in society. What we have ended up with is warring establishment factions with vested interests in the outcome of this debate, using the influence they have in the media and in public discourse to try and manipulate the public into making a vote which will ultimately end up benefitting one elite faction over another. When debate is vigorously occurring within the establishment framework, the value and significance of this debate should automatically be treated with great skepticism. It is highly unlikely that the outcome of this debate will end up changing the lives of ordinary citizens for the better; what is more likely is that whatever benefits result from the outcome will be for those at the top, rather than for those at the bottom.

This is not to say that the debate over leaving the EU is entirely worthless. It is an important issue. But the supreme status it has been afforded in public discourse has come at a cost to other stories and issues of equal, if not greater, significance. For example, two weeks ago a VICE News investigation revealed that Britain has been secretly colluding with American drone strikes in Yemen by providing crucial intelligence support, which have killed up to 1,651 people, including up to 261 civilians. This should have been a national scandal, given the fact that the natural conclusion of these revelations is that the British government has been systematically lying about its role in America’s covert war in Yemen; in 2014, UK Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hugh Robertson stated: “Drone strikes against terrorist targets in Yemen are a matter for the Yemeni and US governments”. The fact that hardly a whisper of any of this was made in the mainstream press should surprise no one who has been paying attention to the state of national public discourse for the past few years, but it is no less disturbing.

imgA mural depicting a US drone in Sanaa, Yemen. (Source: Khaled Abdullah, Reuters). 

Similarly, the London-based group Privacy International recently obtained previously confidential files from the British government as part of an ongoing legal case challenging British spies’ bulk collection of data. The files reveal an incredibly invasive regime of mass surveillance aimed at ordinary British citizens, whom the security services themselves recognise are not a threat to national security or even suspected of a crime. The documents reveal that the security services are able to scoop up and store extremely intimate and personal details about people’s private lives, such as their “political opinions, religious beliefs, union affiliation, physical or mental health status, sexual preferences, biometric data, and financial records”. For anyone remotely interested in not living in an Orwellian dystopia, this should be of particular concern. However, yet again, the mainstream press has excluded this story from the headlines, in favour of obsequious, fawning displays of reverence and awe for the Queen’s birthday.

There is nothing inherently wrong with covering stories that are more trivial in nature. But when these come at a cost to real issues which would horrify the British public if they were aware of them, then this is inexcusable. Similarly, the debate over the EU is beginning to seriously overshadow stories of real significance that reveal the immorality and corruption with which the government exercises its power in secret; in other words, stories that should be the first to hit the headlines in a democratic society with a free press. But such a society was only ever an illusion.

On Bernie Sanders and the Palestine Issue

Bernie Sanders is by far the best candidate in the current US presidential race. His stance on issues of social justice is admirable, and he would be far more tolerable as President than Clinton, Cruz, Trump or Kasich, all of whom exist in the same militaristic, hawkish, neoconservative spectrum. However, it seems that he has a blind spot when it comes to the issue of Palestine.

In 2014, Bernie Sanders voted in support of the Israeli attack on Gaza (known as ‘Operation Protective Edge’), which slaughtered over 2000 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, including up to 500 children and over 200 women. The opinion of journalist Max Blumenthal is that the reason he did this was obviously to please Party fundraisers. Blumenthal goes on to ask the obvious question that can be drawn from this: “if they [Bernie Sanders and other liberals] are willing to abandon millions of people to the malevolence of one of the most powerful militaries in the world because of fundraiser pressure, who else could they abandon?”. What does voting in favour of a brutal slaughter say about Sanders’ integrity?

Furthermore, his comments on the Palestine issue at best reflect great ignorance as to the reality of the situation. In a recent interview with the New York Daily News, Sanders opposed the continued building of settlements on Palestinian land, but said that there “are going to be demands being made of the Palestinian folks as well”. So, demands will have to be made of the people being dominated and occupied, who have been suffering under systematic subjugation over a number of decades, who are being subjected to continuous repression and humiliation, and who, in the words of Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, are being “ethnically cleansed”. The US will have to be tough on these people, too. What this reflects is a common condition in mainstream Western discourse: an inability or unwillingness to see that Palestine and Israel are not two equal sides. As pointed out by Max Blumenthal, “this is not a conflict; it’s a conquest”. Yes, there is resistance on the Palestinian side to Israeli terror, but this is in no way comparable to the brutal, vicious and unrestrained aggression on the Israeli side. This is not to excuse Hamas rockets or suicide bombings which sometimes result in civilian casualties; it is to point out how in liberation struggles and resistance movements throughout history, oppressed and persecuted people have always sometimes resorted to unjustified tactics. But to compare the oppressed to the oppressors and make them equal indicates at best ignorance about the situation, and at worst wilful distortion of the facts.

Furthermore, Bernie had said that Israel “overreacted” in the attack on Gaza which he voted for. But overreacted to what, exactly? If it was to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths some weeks before, then in what way was the destruction of Gaza a response to this? The kidnappers were not in any way affiliated with Hamas, the leadership in Gaza. So why would you carry out a murderous assault on a group of people totally unconnected with the incident, rather than carry out a criminal investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice? The answer is obvious: the attack on Gaza was not in response to anything. The Israeli government used the kidnappings as an opportunity to stoke hysteria and bloodlust in the Israeli public, which they could use to justify their latest attempt to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the Holy Land. The US Senate does not even pretend that the Israeli assault was in response to the kidnappings – instead, it states that it was in response to “unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organisation”. Ignoring the fact that these rockets are more like high school science projects and mostly land in empty fields, the fact remains that there were no Hamas rockets fired into Israel prior to an escalation of Israeli military operations in Gaza and the West Bank; the first Hamas rockets were fired on July 7 – almost a month after Israel’s Operation Brother’s Keeper began. So, the conclusion is clear: Operation Protective Edge was an unprovoked act of aggression carried out against a defenceless civilian population detained in the world’s largest open-air prison, not an “overreaction” to anything.

While it is true that Bernie Sanders is more progressive than the other candidates with regards to Palestine – refusing to speak at an AIPAC conference and simply recognising that the Gazans are human beings, which has led to him being accused of ‘blood libel’ by the former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren – he should still be held to account over his unsettling remarks on the issue and his support for the 2014 destruction of Gaza. If he truly is a ‘progressive’, he would own up to his mistakes and reverse his support for the Israeli government, rather than continue to make vague criticisms of Israel and refuse to talk frankly about Israeli aggression without constantly bringing up “Hamas rockets”, as if they were in any way comparable.