An Analysis of The Telegraph’s Complicity in Genocide


The first important thing to note about this article, which appeared in The Telegraph earlier this year, is the headline. At first I thought it was perhaps ironic, and the writer of the article was engaging in a kind of dry, sarcastic humour, given that the words are so obviously absurd and nonsensical. 90% of children and 21.2 million people in total in desperate need of humanitarian aid, making the crisis in Yemen the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world right now” according to Save the Children, does not seem to fit any rational definition of “peace and stability”, after all. However, after scrolling down through the article and finding out that it was in fact written by none other than Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi ambassador to Britain, all hopes that this in fact could be a satirical article and not a defence of genocide were dashed. The second important thing to note is the mistake in the sub-heading referring to “the Saudi intervention in Syria”, rather than “in Yemen”, which offers another revealing insight into the minds of those who defend Our Crimes at all costs; it doesn’t really matter where we are slaughtering people. It could be in Yemen, it could be in Syria, it could be anywhere; so long as we are the perpetrators, it’s justified.

The article begins with some elementary fact-stating about the international reaction to the Saudi-led, UK and US-supported destruction of Yemen, setting the scene for how the condemnation of the aggression is monstrously unfair and unjust. However, the second paragraph then makes an interesting point.


Indeed, the UK has suggested that “the most effective way” for these investigations to move forwards is “for the Saudis” to investigate themselves. This is conventional wisdom; when someone is accused of committing crimes, obviously the most effective way to investigate the crimes is for the accused to investigate themselves. A great example of this judicious process occurred last year after an American airstrike had (almost certainly deliberately) blown up an MSF hospital in Afghanistan (a serious war crime). However, this was soon cleared up after the Obama administration promptly investigated itself and found itself innocent; everyone soon forgot about what had happened. It is highly probable that the Saudis will also investigate themselves after a firm talking-to from the UK, and will promptly find themselves innocent, clearing up any fanciful notions about ‘war crimes’ and ‘atrocities’ and making the UK’s arms sales to the Kingdom respectable once again.


The Telegraph reassures us that the Saudi regime “deeply regrets any civilian deaths”. Thank God for that. If you’re going to wage a war of extermination against a defenceless civilian population in the Middle East’s poorest country, at least have the decency to internally regret what you’re doing. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what separates Us from Them. While they gladly revel and glory in the perverse pleasure they gain from killing civilians, we shed tears whenever we do the same. And then we continue to do it. The Telegraph also correctly mocks the shameless “political posturing” of terrorist front groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN accusing the Saudi regime of “deliberately targeting civilians”. These organisations are allowing themselves to play into the hands of evil maniacs like ISIS – groups that behead people, stone women to death and kill gays. We wouldn’t want to be associated with people like that, now would we?


As The Telegraph promptly informs us, the Saudi dictatorship is not only innocently attempting to “preserve its own security and promote regional stability”, but is actually making a noble effort to defend democracy against a sinister “Iran-backed” rebellion. And remember, good citizens: Saudi Arabia are Our Friends and Allies (hooray!), and therefore they’re Good; Iran are Our Enemies (boo!), and therefore they’re Bad. And what’s not to believe about the dictators of Saudi Arabia wanting to defend democracy in Yemen?


Not only is Saudi Arabia going out of its way to defend democracy, but is also exercising its right to self-defence, just like we were doing in Iraq. When someone attacks you, what other option do you have except to create “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world right now”? Furthermore, we can’t let evil ISIS and Al Qaeda (remember: Bad Guys) grow and represent “a clear threat to the region and to the international community”. Not only are the Saudis defending themselves, they’re also defending us by destroying Yemen. And what better way to defeat extremism than by creating a humanitarian catastrophe in one of the world’s poorest countries?


The Telegraph then reassures us in the best way possible: we are also helping Saudi Arabia destroy Yemen. We’re definitely Good Guys; there’s no way we would ever do anything immoral. The Saudi-led campaign of aggression must be good; we can be sure of that. “All foreign observers have expressed satisfaction with the safeguards in place” as well (so long as you discount the world’s leading human rights organisations). It all looks good and clean to me.


And if all of these well-reasoned, clear and fact-based arguments have done nothing to convince you of the goodness and necessity of the destruction of Yemen, there’s always room for trying the Israel Technique – accuse the people you’re bombing of bombing themselves. It’s perfectly obvious that the noble and human rights-respecting Saudis are not really responsible for creating the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen; it’s those dastardly Houthis who are really to blame, by hiding in “hospitals, schools and civilian homes”, thus forcing the Saudis to bomb civilian targets (who deeply and sincerely regret doing so, but, alas, they have no choice). The Yemenis are killing themselves. We have no evidence of this, but who are you going to believe: the Saudis, or the world’s leading human rights organisations (AKA commie-jihadi-Iranian terrorist front groups)?

After some earnest declarations about the Saudis’ continuing support for human rights and justice, the article ends:


Almost brings a tear to my eye. Rest assured, good citizens: all is right with the world.

Genocide in Yemen


This is baby Udai. He was five months old when this picture was taken. He died five days later, finally succumbing to the ravages of starvation. According to his parents, he vomited yellow fluid from his nose and mouth before finally ceasing to breathe.

Baby Udai was one of 1.3 million under-fives currently suffering from malnutrition in Yemen. According to Save the Children, almost 90% of Yemeni children are in desperate need of humanitarian aid, and almost 10 million have no access to safe water, making the current crisis in Yemen the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world right now”, although “not enough people are talking about it”. Around half of the country is on the brink of famine, and according to the UN 21.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, compared with 12.2 million in Syria. As Professor of International Human Rights Law Dan Kovalik writes in the Huffington Post, the US-UK-Saudi-led destruction of Yemen clearly constitutes genocide. According to the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, any of the following three acts constitute genocide: “(a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”. As Kovalik writes, “there is no doubt that the Saudi-led coalition, with U.S. [and UK] help, is carrying out all three of these wrongful acts, and a on a massive scale”.

UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia have totalled around £6bn over the past year alone, while leading human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, alongside the UN, have simultaneously compiled clear evidence that the Saudi-led bombing coalition is targeting Yemeni civilians. According to Donatella Rovera, the Senior Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International, “The Houthis and their allies are the declared targets of the [Saudi-led] coalition’s 5-month-old air campaign. In reality, however, it is civilians . . . who all too often pay the price of this war. Hundreds have been killed in such strikes while asleep in their homes, when going about their daily activities, or in the very places where they had sought refuge from the conflict”. Moreover, a “coalition-imposed blockade on commercial imports remains in place in much of the country and the ability of international aid agencies to deliver desperately needed supplies continues to be hindered by the conflict”. The U.N. World Food Program has also warned that the primary victims of the mass starvation now ravaging Yemen are “women and children”.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond claims that the Saudi-led coalition is “defending the legitimate government” of President Hadi in Yemen. This offers an interesting insight into official lexicon: a government is “legitimate” if it is serving our interests, and “illegitimate” if it is serving the interests of its population while not showing proper respect for American and British business interests. Hammond’s declaration is reminiscent of that of American intellectuals that America went to war in Indochina in defence of the South Vietnamese government, which was itself a US creation. As noted by British expert on international affairs Finian Cunningham, “Hadi was kicked out because he reneged for three years on a promised transition to democracy, as demanded by the Yemeni population”. Hadi has, for three years, allowed American drones to rampage across Yemen, murdering suspects and massacring countless innocent civilians in the process, with British support. The potential for the Yemeni working class, who now comprise a large swathe of the population opposed to the regime, rising up and taking power for themselves is too great a risk for the US and Britain, who treasure having a reliable puppet regime firmly in power. The effect of the political turmoil on American corporate interests is already evident; the Wall Street Journal reported in March of 2015 that American oil corporations such as Occidental Petroleum have flown their staff out of Yemen in response to the uprisings. This is clearly intolerable; destruction of the country and genocide of the population is preferable to having American corporate and hegemonic interests threatened by the stupid natives wanting to manage their own affairs.

All of this is met with astonishing silence in Britain, even though our role in this atrocity goes far beyond simply supplying Saudi Arabia with the weapons used to murder civilians; statements from the Saudi foreign ministry reveal that British and American military personnel are in the command and control rooms in which airstrikes are planned and launched, making this very much an Anglo-American war. The silence in the press and in Parliament over this mass-murder campaign has been shameful. Aside from some courageous reporting in The Independent and The Guardian, and snippets here and there in other newspapers, the genocide of the population of some Third World country is simply not deemed important. As the intellectual and political class fuss and fight over Brexit, which has been characterised by petty squabbling on a farcical level, Yemen has been dying a slow death, and it’s all been funded and supported by us. We killed baby Udai, just as we’re killing the children of Yemen right now. A referendum on Brexit is important, but perhaps an even more important referendum would be on whether we should be committing genocide in poor, starving nations, or on whether we should have a press which reports these things to us so that we can actually do something about it, instead of remaining complicit.

The devastation currently being wrought on Yemen is off the record. The situation is strikingly similar to the situation in East Timor from 1975 to 1999; most of the violence and savagery was carried out by a regional aggressor, in this case Indonesia, but could only continue with the eager support and participation of America and Britain. The destruction of East Timor was arguably the worst genocide of the 20th Century after the Holocaust; up to a third of East Timor’s population was exterminated. Ordinary citizens in America and Britain were kept almost completely uninformed about the situation in East Timor by the mainstream media, which meant that no large-scale protest movement could form, which in turn meant that the crimes could continue unabated. The devastation in Yemen has not yet reached the level of devastation in East Timor at the height of atrocities; there is still some hope that the crimes will stop, and a few pieces of Yemen may survive if we’re lucky. If not, Yemen will almost certainly become extinct “as a cultural and historic entity”, as the historian Bernard Fall warned would happen to Vietnam in 1967 during the American onslaught.

When jihadis carry out indefensible and abhorrent attacks in Brussels or Paris, the media and political figures rush to condemn what has happened and remind us of the humanity of the victims. When we destroy a starving Third World country for the sake of advancing strategic interests, the reaction is the same every time: “meh”. The people we slaughter are unpeople – they’re not really human and their lives don’t matter. While our leaders complain about the intolerable burden of a few refugees fleeing our crimes wanting to enter Britain in search of a better life, human misery is reaching new peaks all over the world; much of it is down to us. We have the choice of allowing it to continue or making it stop.

Dan Berrigan:”Nothing is ever lost”

Theology in the Vineyard

Chris Wallace, is the Fox News Sunday host and son of the legendary 60 Minutes journalist .In 1981 Wallace interviewed Dan Berrigan. the following clip says it all aboutAmerican celebrity culture and its almost total inability to fathom the life of the spirit, in this case the depth of a man such as Dan Berrigan. The interview was at the time of the Ploughshares action when Dan and Phil and six others broke into a nuclear plant a General Electric factory in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. They invoked the prophet Isaiah’s words as they hammered on an inert Mark 12 A nuclear warhead.

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 2: 4


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Douglas Murray Has Saved Britain.

Douglas Murray: a celebrity in the dizzying world of far-right fanaticism, anti-Muslim bigotry and all-round hatefulness. A defender of torture and a professional apologist for war crimes, it’s hard not to admire his dedication to supporting everything wrong with the world. It’s as if he has some uncontrollable compulsion to side with Evil over Good; as if his moral compass has been pre-fixed to point in exactly the wrong direction. This unsatisfiable urge to serve the dark forces that reign supreme in the darkest corners of Hell, to lie and deceive and spread misery, is so deeply ingrained within his soul that he’s unable to admit the truth even when the evidence is literally staring him in the face, like that time he claimed what was happening in the Abu Ghraib photographs wasn’t torture.

Specialist Charles Graner and another soldier with detainees.Not torture, according to Douglas Murray.

This is all old news. But now Douglas Murray is making headlines again. No, he’s not praising some European neo-Fascist movement or trying to get Tony Blair a sainthood; if he was, the mainstream media wouldn’t care anyhow and would continue to invite him onto their shows. This time, he’s in the news because his competition to write a bawdy poem about President Erdogan of Turkey has been closed and the winner announced; it’s none other than establishment loon and former London Mayor Boris Johnson. Here’s the winning masterpiece:

“There was a young fellow from Ankara

Who was a terrific wankerer

Till he sowed his wild oats

With the help of a goat

But he didn’t even stop to thankera.”

What a terrific piece of satire. That’ll teach Erdogan. What’s even more fantastic is Douglas Murray’s accompanying ‘journalism’:


How courageous. Douglas Murray and his band of fearless journalists at The Spectator have used their talents for the good of mankind to take shots at a foreign leader. Never mind about the crimes of the Cameron government and the farcical antics of politicians at home: what we really need is a bunch of British journalists getting together with members of the Tory establishment to make fun of the leader of Turkey. I’m sure the editors of The Spectator can rest easy knowing that they’ve joined a long list of fearless, renegade journalists such as I.F. Stone, Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, who speak truth to power no matter what. Such heroism, such courage, such conviction. Bravo to The Spectator.

Douglas’s passionate tribute to freedom and democracy is enough to melt the heart of even the most hardened leftie:

“But this award is entirely anti-meritocratic. For myself, I think it a wonderful thing that a British political leader has shown that Britain will not bow before the putative Caliph in Ankara. Erdogan may imprison his opponents in Turkey. Chancellor Merkel may imprison Erdogan’s critics in Germany. But in Britain we still live and breathe free. We need no foreign potentate to tell us what we may think or say. And we need no judge (especially no German judge) to instruct us over what we may find funny”.

Yeah! Truer words were never spoken! We’re not gonna bow before the ‘Caliph of Ankara’! Way to go, Britain! In Britain we still live and breathe free; we’re not gonna let Erdogan dictate to us what we can and can’t say. Fuck you, Erdogan! And all these goddamn German judges trying to instruct us over what we may find funny. Fucking Germans. Oh man, Douglas Murray: what a hero, amirite?! He really showed those bloody foreigners.

And in other news, Britain continues to sell arms to Turkey as they massacre Kurds. The Spectator’s gonna bring this up any day now…

‘Collateral Damage’

“We take extraordinary care… There is unintended damage. There is collateral damage”.

– Victoria Clarke (Pentagon spokeswoman).


Babies killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, their bodies crammed into an ice-cream freezer. (Source: AFP).


Iraqi children bloody and traumatised after their parents are shot dead by US soldiers in Tal Afar. (Source: Getty Images).


An Afghan boy injured by a NATO airstrike lies wounded on a hospital bed. (Source: Reuters / Stringer).


Faisal, 18 months old, is treated for severe acute malnutrition in Yemen, a victim of the US/UK-backed Saudi bombing campaign. (Source: UNICEF).


Six of these children, from the al-Amouri family, were killed by a US airstrike in Syria. (Source: Middle East Eye).


A man and baby killed by a NATO airstrike in Tripoli. (Source: AP).

My beautiful picture

A baby born with birth defects due to American use of depleted uranium in Fallujah, Iraq. (Source: Dr. Samira Alani / Al-Jazeera). 

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people”.

– Howard Zinn.

On the British Government’s Destruction of Human Rights

On the 21st of August, 2015, the British government executed two suspected ISIS militants in Syria with no due process. One, Reyaad Khan, was a 21-year-old from Cardiff, while the other, Ruhal Amin, was a 26-year-old who was raised in Aberdeen. Britain, a country with no death penalty, now has the power once again to execute its own citizens; except these citizens no longer have to be even convicted of a crime. They now simply have to be suspected of a crime, not even charged, in order to justify the government murdering them.

Reyaad-Khan_2951007b   Reyaad Khan on his last day at Cantonian High School, Cardiff, in June 2010. He was assassinated by the British government in August, 2015.

The justification offered by the British government was that these two young men had been plotting terror attacks on British soil and posed an immanent threat to the lives and security of British citizens. Therefore, they had to be stopped, and the only way they could be stopped was to murder them with no due process. However, the government provided no evidence to back up the claims that they were making. Regardless of this, the mainstream press did not even question the claims that the government was making to justify its actions; did not even suggest that maybe the government should provide evidence to the public that these two were indeed plotting terror attacks on British soil and therefore killing them was necessary. When the government makes claims to justify its own abuses of power, which it then fails to support with evidence, the natural reaction of journalists should be great skepticism about what the government is saying and what its stated motives are. That’s the function of journalism in a democratic society: to hold the government to account when it has been found to have been abusing its power. As per usual, mainstream journalists got confused and believed that their function is instead to act in conjunction with the government and repeat their claims without question.

If there was indeed evidence that these two were planning terror attacks on British soil which placed the lives of British citizens in danger, then there must have been some indication as to the nature of these plots. Would they have been carried out by a delegation sent from Syria by ISIS? Would they have been carried out by the men themselves as they attempted to return home? Or would they have been carried out by people already in the UK who were communicating with these two? The first two options are inconceivable; there is no possible way a delegation sent from Syria would have been able to enter the UK and carry out a terror attack given the current hysteria over protecting our borders from potential terrorists, and there is no way that these two men, who were known to the authorities to have travelled to Syria and joined ISIS, would have been allowed to set foot back in the UK. Therefore, the only other plausible option is that the people intended to carry out the attack were already in the UK, in which case murdering Khan and Amin would not have been the only course of action available to the government; another course of action would have been to identify the UK residents intended to carry out the attack inside the UK and arrest them before they could do so. There is no indication that any arrests were made inside the UK in connection to this, which therefore throws the government’s entire story about a potential terror attack in the UK into question. Even if somehow there were some other way for these men to carry out a terror attack in the UK aside from the options I have exhausted, there is no reason why the government could not have gone into a court of law and presented the evidence before a jury, who could have then decided whether or not the two men were guilty of a crime. Is that not the way justice is supposed to work in the UK?

The truth is that the assassination of these two men was one of the most extreme examples of the government abusing its power and violating human rights in the post-9/11 era. Whatever the real motive behind the executions, one thing is certain: an extraordinary precedent has now been set, whereby it is now legitimate for the UK government to kill its own citizens with no due process of law. In a democracy, it is extremely disturbing for citizens to fear their own government because the government has the power to murder them at anytime without due process, but this is exactly the situation in the UK at the moment. This, coupled with the draconian new surveillance powers currently being pushed through Parliament and the government’s plans to scrap the Human Rights Act in the coming days, should seriously alarm anyone at all concerned about clinging onto the human rights to which we are all entitled.

I’m sure it is true that many people will find it hard to sympathise with people who have joined ISIS. But they are still human beings, and all human beings, regardless of who they are or what they may have done, have human rights. This is a fundamental truism – all human beings everywhere have human rights, not because the government grants them human rights, but because of the simple fact that they are human. Once we begin declaring some people to be undeserving of human rights, we are denying their humanity, and once we begin doing this then what separates us from the people we claim to oppose? They too are responsible for denying the humanity of other human beings. The reason why ISIS are able to behead people and slaughter children is because they no longer see them as human, just as the reason that drone pilots are able to drop bombs on villages and annihilate women and children is because they do not see the people they are bombing as human. Once we stop seeing some people as human, we are capable of doing anything and everything. That’s how atrocities happen. That’s how ‘the good guys’ become no different from ‘the bad guys’. We cannot allow that to happen. It begins fairly easily, with a couple of so-called ISIS militants being assassinated with drone strikes with very little opposition or discussion in the mainstream, but then gradually it increases and the government’s powers expand more and more until our once-democratic society is no longer recognisable to us. Love will triumph over hate, and justice will triumph over injustice, but only if we fight for it. And by ‘we’, I do not mean the artificial governments that claim to represent us. I mean we the people. That’s where real change comes from.

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.

Why The Snoopers’ Charter is an Unprecedented Attack on Our Freedoms

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Last week, the UK government pushed forward its Investigatory Powers Bill (or Snoopers’ Charter) through Parliament, which vastly increased their surveillance capabilities and powers to penetrate the electronic communications of ordinary citizens. This extremely authoritarian piece of legislation moved forward with disturbing ease in the House of Commons, gathering 281 votes in favour with only 15 against. There has been extraordinarily little public protest over this, either.

The freedoms which we value so highly in Britain are gradually slipping from our fingers. Under the Snoopers’ Charter, the government will now store the records of websites visited by everyone in the UK for 12 months incase the police or the intelligence services want to have a look at what we’ve been doing, phones and computers can now legally be bugged and companies must assist the government in peeling back layers of encryption from communications if they are ordered to do so. The government can now also legally monitor journalists and their sources, raising serious concerns about what consequences this will have for freedom of the press in Britain, which is already under severe attack.

The Tory government has taken frightening steps in recent months to destroy civil liberties and basic freedoms in Britain, from outlawing speech that it deems ‘extremist’ in nature and keeping Julian Assange arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorian Embassy to effectively legitimising the extrajudicial assassination of British citizens. The introduction of the Snoopers’ Charter is simply the latest in a long line of steps towards corroding our freedoms and increasing state control over the lives of ordinary citizens under the pretext of fighting terror. And for those who believe that these tyrannical measures are only aimed at ‘extremists’, then take a look at how David Cameron outlined his government’s approach towards fighting ‘extremism’:

“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance. This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach”.

Meaning: the government will no longer leave you alone if you simply ‘obey the law’. Obeying the law is no longer enough if you don’t want to be targeted by the government. The era of ‘passive tolerance’ is gone. Now, citizens must actively subordinate themselves to the interests of the State and not only must they stay within the bounds of the law; now, they must make active efforts to stay within bounds within the law that only the government has the power to define. Meaning one mustn’t express the wrong opinion, as even though it is legal for them to do so, this is no longer enough to protect them from being targeted by the law, subjected to surveillance or even imprisoned by the State. And all of this is necessary in order to defend British Values – such as democracy, the Rule of Law, and tolerance. Yes, it is necessary to abolish freedom of speech, in order to maintain respect for tolerance. And as for the Rule of Law, that never really existed. Because if it did exist, then David Cameron and the other members of the government involved in the destruction of Yemen would be in prison for war crimes. If the Rule of Law did exist, then half the government would be facing legal action for engaging in acts of ‘extremism’ as they themselves define it. The law has never applied to those at the top. The law is a weapon used by the State to subjugate and repress ordinary citizens who don’t possess the power or the privilege to defend themselves.

This is not a war against terror; it is a war against dissent. Of course there are people out there who do wish to do us genuine harm, but the way to combat those people is not by destroying our own freedoms so they don’t have to. If British Values really do exist, and are not just propaganda churned out by the authoritarian extremists who wield unlimited power in this country, then surely we should be reasserting and strengthening those values, not just here at home but overseas as well, so that the people of the world will see that we are serious when we say we want to fight terror and defend democracy? Surely it is insanity to become the very people we are claiming to oppose? Once again, it is up to ordinary citizens to fight back. We must put pressure on the government to take steps towards curbing mass surveillance, rather than expanding it. We must make our voices heard. Before it is too late.