Monday, February 26, 2007

Israeli anti-semites?

A guest post by Jogo
I always understood that there was a very dark side to the in-migration of Soviet Jews to Israel. The entire enterprise is racist -- Jewish-racist. The Law of Return (itself problematical, and more than a little dubious) has been applied to Soviet persons who are barely -- in many cases, not -- Jewish. If, in Israel's one-drop accounting system, you have a Jewish grand-parent, you are "Jewish," and qualify for this mythic "re-patriation."

So, of course (who could be blind to the possibility?), the stream of Russians would enevitably come to include emigres who have 0.00% Yiddishkeit, and are less integrated into Am-Israel than into Russian-ness, including normative Russian anti-semitic thinking and attitudes. The State-sponsored influx of Russians increased the population with a significant number of Russian people whose qualification for membership in Israeli society was one in the wood-pile (in the distant past), and whose baggage included their teenage skin-head children (in the present). Having no roots in old, authentic Jewish communities (as had Iraqis, Tunisians, Moroccans, etc.), many of these people needed to be "re-Judaized" by Rabbi-developed and State-mandated night school classes.

And now we see in Israel a weird underbelly of citizenship-holding Jew-haters -- not our bretheren, the garden-variety of Leftwing so-called self-hating Jews; but real, actual anti-semites of the classical European, even neo-Nazi, persuasion.

See this story from Ha-Aretz.

Mansour Osanloo on trial

From LabourStart, news that Mansour Osanloo, the courageous Iranian bus drivers union leader, is about to go on trial.

Previous articles (background): Mansoor's arrest in November; The campaign to free him (December); The release (December).

Hat tip: Arieh

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Egyptian blogger unjustly imprisoned

Abdelkareem Nabil Solimanm, via Positive Liberty.

Strange world

1. The Saudi royal family are going to build a hotel in Tel Aviv.

2. A Croatian company is using Hitler's face to sell sugar.

(Both via Sevenfatcow)

Zilla Huma Usman

"Female Pakistani minister shot dead for 'breaking Islamic dress code'"
A Pakistani minister and woman’s activist has been shot dead by an Islamic extremist for refusing to wear the veil.

Zilla Huma Usman, the minister for social welfare in Punjab province and an ally of President Pervez Musharraf, was killed as she was about to deliver a speech to dozens of party activists, by a “fanatic”*, who believed that she was dressed inappropriately and that women should not be involved in politics, officials said.

Mrs Usman, 35, was wearing the shalwar kameez worn by many professional women in Pakistan, but did not cover her head.

The attack happened in Gujranwala, 120 miles southeast of Islamabad, where the minister’s office is based. As Ms Usman, 35, stepped out of her car – where she was greeted by her co-workers throwing rose petals - the attacker pulled out a pistol and fired a single shot at close range, hitting her in the head. She was airlifted to hospital in the provincial capital Lahore, but died soon afterwards.
*Note "fanatic" in scare quotes...

(Hat tip Jogo, in e-mail entitled "Religion of peace strikes again")

Blog links: Butterflies and Wheels; Daily Kos; Neocon Express; The Muslim Woman; And Coffee Too; Shitebot: Shitehead of the Week.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jewish Book Week

Jewish Book Week is coming up quickly. Here's a couple of things that look good: Bookniks: Postcards From the Unholy Land, with Etger Keret and others (chaired by Keith of Metal Jew); The Illusion of Return - Samir El-Youssef in conversation with Linda Grant (spondored by Peace Oil) [I just got the book as a present from my sister - might review it here when I read it!]; a session on Louis Jacobs, chaired by Engagenik Josh Cohen; Paul Kriwaczek on the Yiddish civilization; the wonderful Howard Jacobson.

Anti-Terror Stunts

Martin Jacques talks nonsense; Scribbles replies.

Why is the left obsessed with the Middle East?

Voltaire's Priest proposes a great topic for the next Carnival of Socialism: Why is the left obsessed with the Middle East?

Yes to road pricing

No to right wing populism! No to big cars! Yes to big government! No to e-mail as a basis for political organising!

Via Will, a pro-road pricing petition:
Will says: "Tax them until the pips squeak. Cars are disgusting."


Friday, February 09, 2007

Abu Izzadeen (from the archive)

As Abu Izzadeen is in the news again, here is the guest post by Jogo that I published on him back in September: Abu Izzadeen. And here is Neo-Jacobin's post on him.

9/11 Conspiracies

George Monbiot at CiF:
There is a virus sweeping the world. It infects opponents of the Bush government, sucks their brains out through their eyes and turns them into gibbering idiots. First cultivated in a laboratory in the US, the strain reached these shores a few months ago. In the past fortnight, it has become an epidemic. Scarcely a day now passes without someone possessed by this sickness, eyes rolling, lips flecked with foam, trying to infect me.

The disease is called Loose Change. It is a film made by three young men that airs most of the standard conspiracy theories about the attacks of September 11 2001. Unlike the other 9/11 conspiracy films, Loose Change is sharp and swift, with a thumping soundtrack, slick graphics and a calm and authoritative voiceover. Its makers claim that it has now been watched by 100 million people.

Read the rest.

On the other hand...

Jogo writes:
Why does jogo despise Michael Lerner? Why does he think that Michael Lerner is contemptible, and a mediocre and banal intellectual who obscures his shallowness with verbosity? Why does he think that followers of Rabbi Lerner (i.e., "the Tikkun Community") are pathetic morons? Why does he think that Michael Lerner is not even a man, let alone a Jew? Why does jogo respect Anna Nicole Smith more than he does Michael Lerner?

If you want an answer to these questions, look no further than here.
Basically, Lerner may not have been infected by the virus of 9/11 conspiracy, but he is certainly a carrier. The book he "contributes" to is 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out. I hate that word "intellectuals". As I said in a previous post, What's so good about "intellectuals"? Or, in other words, why aren't the plebs' voices just as valid? And the arrogance of naming yourself an "intellectual"!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

North American music

I am a big fan of The Band, so I liked this post on Richard Manuel (with YouTube video) at Positive Liberty, a blog normally devoted to political philosophy.

Positive Liberty, incidentally, will be hosting the next Carnival of Citizens, on the theme (dear to this blog's heart) of "Church and State".

Previous: Levon Helm in Three Burials.

Behnam: Fighting deportation

I received this, via Arieh:
Dear all,

I would like to draw attention to a petition on behalf of a family from Iran, seeking asylum in the UK. The older boy, Behnam, a brilliant 19-year-old artist, now at Central St Martins College of Art Design, is a former student of mine and the family are now close friends of mine.

They are wonderful people whose lives will be at great risk if they are returned to Iran. Themother and older son have been sentenced to prison and told they face a brutal punishment of lashes - because, as an act of kindness, they let two teenage schoolfriends stay in their flat in Tehran while the family were living in London. Those boys were arrested, having allegedly been printing anti-regime leaflets - this led to the arrest of the woman's husband at Tehran Airport in 2005 and the subsequent sentences in absentia on her and Behnam.

If you live in the UK and have not already signed Behnam's petition please sign the online petition, and encourage others to do so.*

Thanks for your support,
Pauline Levis
Cordinator Behnam and Family Must Stay Campaign
*The petition's full url is:

Article by Pauline Levis here. On-line petition here. IRR article here. Camden New Journal article here.

More: Worker's Liberty anti-deportation campaigns page.
Keywords: Behnam Askari

Monday, February 05, 2007

Dying dictators

So, 2006 was the year of dictators dying. 2007 appears to be the year of the resurgance of dictators.

Or "democratators" as the Committee for the Protection of Journalists has it. Chavez has his enabling law, letting him rule by decree. Pervez Musharraf "constitutionally" gets another five years on his misrule.

A glimmer of hope: Castro's imminent death. Read about his last 750,000 words (found via The Daily Maybe).

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Israel Lobby (again)

The New Left Review’s Norman Birnbaum has an article in the usually very good openDemocracy on the Israel lobby, entitled “Israel on the Potomac”. The article is inoffensive, but dull and unoriginal. Essentially, he is saying (a) there is an Israel lobby in American public affairs, represented by the triumvate of Aipac, AJC and ADC, along with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations; (b) it is immensely powerful; (c) it does not represent the views and of most American Jews; and (d) there are welcome signs that its power is waning.

Now, I do not deny the truth of (a). I gladly accept (c). I am agnostic about (d). Where I have a problem with Birnbaum is over (b). Birnnbaum says the lobby has been “remarkably successful in neutralising criticism of Israel”, “able to count on the support of the media”, has “the overwhelming support of Congress”, and able to make Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi, no less, dance to their tune.

Yet Birnbaum’s article itself provides plenty of evidence that these claims are wild. If the lobby was so powerful, would Jonathan Pollard have been abandoned by the American Jewish leadership? Would Lawrence Franklin get taken to task? Would Jimmy Carter’s book be on the bestseller list and getting rave reviews from mainstream newspapers? Would the academies of America’s ruling class (Harvard, Columbia, etc) not only employ but pay small fortunes to passionate anti-Zionists like Edward Said and Stephen Walt? Would no account Kissengerite foreign policy wonks like Walt and Mearsheimer be media stars? Would mainstream publishers like Farrar, Strauss & Giroux be giving them book contracts to rehash their new protocols of the elders of the lobby? Would highly respected and well paid scholars like Richard Sennett be attacking the ADL in the press? And so on.

(Footnote- Anyone who can tell me who these people are wins a BobFromBrockley prize: “those custodians of American tradition amongst the imperial managers who look back to Franklin D Roosevelt for inspiration, and to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr for ideas on the limits of American power”?)

Bonus links: More on this broad topic from MeretzUSA and Judeosphere.

Previous: Respectable prejudices