Friday, June 29, 2007

Boycott stuff again

Here's my last list of links this week:

  • Useful quotes[pdf] from the Stop the Boycott campaign. Some examples:

  • “It is through cooperation based on mutual respect, rather than boycotts or discrimination, that our common goals can be achieved. Our disaffection with, and condemnation of, acts of academic boycotts is predicated on the principles of academic freedom, human rights and equality between nations and among individuals.
    The reason I don’t believe the boycott is the way to go is that I believe peace must be built on the bridge between two civil societies.”
    Sari Nusseibeh President Al-Quds University (Jerusalem)

    “To target academics in this way is not only anti-academic; it also targets the very people who are most likely to help in a liberal answer to the peace process in the Middle East.”
    Professor Lord Winston

    “Instead of proposing unwieldy and blunt instruments such as boycotts, all interested parties in the UK should work to support talks between the democratically elected governments of Israel and Palestine, and support efforts to ensure that international law is followed and applied on all sides.
    While these debates have certainly been coming to the fore in several unions, I do not believe that the Trade Union movement as a whole is favourable to boycotts of this kind. I think that the overwhelming majority of Trade Unions are approaching these debates with a clear intention of trying to aid their Israeli and Palestinian sisters and brothers.”
    Mr Jon Cruddas MP Labour Party Deputy Leader Candidate

Soundtrack to this post:
Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra -- Indictment (mp3 via the wonderful Tuwa's Shanty. On the list: Condoleeza Rice, Noam Chomksy)

Previous boycott round-up here

London bomb

So, an unexploded bomb in central London.

Whoever proves to be responsible for this, this is more grim news.

No doubt the speculations and rationalisations will begin soon - it will be seen by some as payback for the "provocative" knighting of Salman Rushdie, by others as a warning shot to the new administration to get out of Iraq, and so on.

No doubt many will continue to put scare quotes around "terror" and "war on terror", continuing to deny that London is under attack.


From 2001 to 2005, we knew it would happen in London, but we somehow managed to think it wouldn't. When July 2005 came, we had somehow expected it, but somehow refused to believe it would happen here. Since 2005, the fear abaited, but was always there.

Earlier, of course, we enduring a campaign of Irish Republican terror that lasted from the Post Office Tower attack in 1971 to the Aldwych bus bomb of 1996, the fascist David Copeland's nail bombings of Brixton, Soho and Brick Lane in 1999, and the bombing of the Israeli embassy in 1994, so, on one level, we should be used to it. But I guess you never do.


Added: Bloglink: Autobombe in Haymarket, London (in German)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Feed your ears: MP3 blog goodness

Palms Out Sounds' regular feature "Sample Wednesday" showcases music that recent artists have plundered. Here's vaguely Sarf London starlet Lily Allen's source material. Boy, dat girl got taste. (But here's Floodwatch Music, exorcising hatred of Ms Allen.)

I've only recently discovered sQuare Productions, quality electronic music blog. But thanks to them, I have discovered Pantha du Prince, German techno geniuses who are apparently also Marxists.

I want to buy almost all the records Teruah gives notice of here: Yiddish hip hop, Ladino blues, folk for far out cats, Hebrew indie, "Turkish hash bars meet Hasidic Brooklyn juke joints with ‘70's era psych rock well in tow", Jewish bluegrass - what more could you want?

That "far out folk" refers to Fred Katz, who you can read about at the brilliant Locust St. The "Hebrew indie" refers to Blue Fringe, who you can listen to at Obscure Sound. That "Yiddish hip hop" refers to Socalled, who has a new album out, Ghettoblaster, and you can listen to some of it at Bricolage Fantasy, pop drivel, 5 acts, and the consistently good comfort music.

Also from Comfort Music, I have posted before about the great song "Guns of Brixton", but didn't know there was a band of that name. Well, now I do.

Staying with the Clash and dub, DJ Durruti posts some top class Clash as part of an excellent series on dub reggae.

Here the Toaster Talks sings the praises of the deeply uncool Derek and the Dominos. I used to have the gatefold LP of this, and treasured it (horrible admission: I bought it off a junkie schoolmate who stole it off his mum to feed his habit), but I have no idea what happened to it.

Finally, here's a bunch of Balkan and gypsy music, older and newer, on Nialler9.

Bob's beats artist keywords: The Clash, Lily Allen, SoCalled

Previous: Hava Nagila with Harry Dean Stanton; Hybrid musics; Bagels and Bongos.

The Axis of Bias

A friend of mine once made the sublime observation that untrue information always travels at a greater velocity than true information. Here's Stephen Pollard on the Robert Fisk-Seymour Hirsh axis of untruth.
[via Jogo]

Rushdie and "secular fundamentalism"

This is the third in a series of posts inspired by Salman Rushdie. For the previous one, see here. These were all written last week, in the immediate wake of the knighthood, but I've had limited internet access since then so apologies for posting as the issue cools down.

I promised, some weeks back, to clarify my position on what I have been calling “secular fundamentalism”. This post will not really clarify it, but clear some ground, prompted by the latest twist in the on-going Rushdie affair.

Salman Rushdie has become a cause celebre of the secular movement, not so much because of the content of his work, but because of the hatred he has stirred up in the theocrats of Islam. It is worth asking, though, why his work, and not, say, the explicitly anti-religious polemics of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, arouses such anger from the clerics of hate. Obviously, the fact that he comes from a Muslim background is crucial – as it is with Ayaan Hirsi Ali – in other words, the fact that he is seen as an apostate.

But I believe that there is something more important. This is the fact that he takes religion seriously, that he understands it – understands it spiritually. His novels – and I am thinking in particular of his two great works, Midnight’s Children and above all The Satanic Verses, one of the greatest novels of our age – are not anti-religious. Instead, they rigorously explore the magic and myth of religion, the aesthetics of faith, the narrative power of scripture, and, crucially, its spiritual and moral truths. He writes, not to deconstruct, to denounce or to scorn, but to understand and, in some ways, to do justice to religion.

It is because I think we must do justice to religion in such a way that I differ from the contemporary partisans of militant secularism – Hitchens, Dawkins, my comrades Will and Ophelia – however much I respect their crusade.

I have decided, Will might be glad to hear, to abandon my use of the term “secular fundamentalism” for their position. My abandonment was prompted by reading the opening lines of the letter Mohammed Bouyeri, the Islamist murdered of Theo van Gogh, wrote to Hirsi Ali, which he pinned to van Gogh’s body with a knife: “You, as unbelieving fundamentalist…” To create (or appear to create) a moral equivalence between Hitchens and Bouyeri is clearly obscene.

But there is a dogmatic and messianic quality to some of this militant secularism. Etienne Balibar, a very wise French Marxist, responding to the headscarf debate, has written of “the powerful religiosity that animates anti-religious political ideologies – sacralized ‘secular struggle’, as in France, socialist or nationalist messianism”.

What is at stake, here, is two conceptions of secularism, two conceptions of the Enlightenment, two conceptions of radical politics. Ulrich Beck (not usually a theorist I much care for, but I like this quotation) has written: “To me, Enlightenment is not a historical notion and set of ideas, but a process and dynamic where criticism, self-criticism, irony and humanity play a central role.” The Enlightenment, the secularism, I want to advocate is perhaps the “Spinozist” secularism Balibar proposes: where the public sphere is not cleansed of religion (as in the Lockean and Hobbesian models), but where citizens (or collectives) are free to bring their commitments, their faiths and their heresies, into the space of politics – but contentiously, opening them to dispute.

This means – and again in the spirit of Spinoza and, I believe, Marx – reconstructing the ideal of universality, not as the imposition of residual Christian theology or as generalised Western rationalism, but allowing universality to be, as Balibar puts it, “the stake and the result of a confrontation of all the political discourses” including religious-political ones.

As I finish writing this, however, on Thursday night, the News at 10 comes on, showing an Afghan school where the Taliban attacked and shot young girls because they object to the education of girls. This makes debates about headscarves in French schools or Salman Rushdie’s place on the honours list seem a little trivial…


Boycott stuff for today

Today's round-up on the UCU, Unison and NUJ Israel boycotts.

  • Vote in the New Statesman poll, which you can find on this page
As ever, thanks to Arieh for some of the links, and for fighting the fight.

Previous boycott round-up here.

Friday, June 22, 2007


This is the second in a series of posts inspired by Salman Rushdie. For the previous one, see here. The next one is here.

The clerical fascists of Pakistan and Iran, and their supporters in the UK like Lord Ahmed, have spoken of Rushdie (or, in this case, the British state for honouring him) provoking Muslim anger, even violent anger, including suicide bombings. I didn’t think that many people here would treat that notion with anything but contempt, until I read discarded copies of Wednesday’s Times and Independent on the train today, and saw lots of letters from people with very British names, including relatives of British soldiers serving in Iraq, expressing exactly that view.

The idea of provocation has been expressed many times by western leftists and liberals. The idea that 9/11 was an example of “chickens coming home to roost” or that 7/7 was “blowback” for Iraq are variations on this theme.

A similar logic is at work in the claim that “we” (the West) are responsible for the tens of thousands, or indeed (if you accept the rather contentious Lancet methodology) hundreds of thousands (or even, if you have Lenny Lenin’s “dialectical” grasp of maths, “nearly a million”) deaths in Iraq. Clearly, the Coalition is directly responsible for many deaths in Iraq – insurgent combatants, but also far, far too many civilians killed as a result of criminally stupid blunders, tactical errors, excessive uses of force, mindless displays of muscle. But, the argument goes, “we” are also responsible for those killed by the insurgents and the sectarian gangs and the Al-Qaeda operatives and so on, because we removed Saddam, or simply because we are there.

These claims about provocation and responsibility say something about agency. Specifically, they say that “we” (the West, white folk) have agency – and “they” (the Muslims, the brown folk) don’t. “We” rationally calculate our actions – they simply respond mindlessly. This view is profoundly racist; it infantilises Muslims. It is time “we” gave Muslims enough respect as to hold them morally to account for their actions.

Trackback: Judeopundit, including other links on the same subject.

Trotsky on TV

Trotsky talking English on YouTube. Although I agree with what he's saying (about the crimes of Stalinism) it is hard to take him seriously because his accent - and, I guess, his look - are so semi-comedic vintage movie foreign villain.

[Found via Further Left Forum]

Yet more boycott stuff

Just a couple for today:

In general

UCU Boycott

NUJ Boycott

Previous boycott link round-up here.

Thanks to Arieh for some of these, and for spreading the word!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pakistan-loving Tories on Salman Rushdie

How's this for solidarity:

Tory MP Rob Wilson, vice-chairman of the all-party Parliamentary Pakistan group, said, he was surprised that the people involved in this (knighthood process) didn't anticipate the controversy it would cause."I have tried to read one or two of his books myself, and I would have got more stimulation from the Yellow Pages,” chairman of the all-party group on Pakistan, Tory MP, Stewart Jackson said. [source]
There's Conservatives for you.

More Rushdie: Lisa Appignanesi; Andrew Marr; International PEN; the wonderful Ophelia (1, 2, 3, 4)
And this I haven't fully digested, but is interesting: Sepia Mutiny

Boycott stuff: UNISON now

UNISON boycott

I've just read that UNISON, Britain's largest union I believe, has passed a boycott motion. Jon, blogging live from conference, writes:
As I write we are in the international debates. The debate on Cuba was enlivened by one contribution from a delegate who described Cuba as a “dictatorship” and opposed a motion in solidarity with Cuba. The motion went on to be passed all but unanimously.

The debate on Palestine is considerably more controversial with strong views on both sides around the question of a boycott of Israel. Tony Greenstein from Brighton and Hove branch has just won thunderous applause for an impassioned speech in support of the motion from Wolverhampton which the National Executive Council are (rightly in my view) supporting. This is a wide ranging motion about solidarity with the Palestinians – however the focus of the debate is around the question of a boycott of Israel. The motion calls for an immediate arms embargo and expresses principled support for an economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott.

Leftwing opponents of the boycott proposals appear to me to cling to a very abstract view of class politics, leading them to believe that there could be some unity, in current circumstances, between Israeli and Palestinian workers. Helen Jenner, speaking on behalf of the NEC has explained that UNISON policy is absolutely in favour of dialogue, but that we have to respond to the appalling way in which the Palestinian people are being treated. UNISON is not opposed to the Israeli state or the Israeli people but to the policies of the Israeli government. Boycotts are a tactic to be considered and employed as appropriate...

The Conference has just overwhelmingly supported Motion 53 including the tactic of a boycott.
Motion 53, according to JPost,
says that a "just" solution to the conflict must be based on international law and that Israel should withdraw to 1967 borders and allow the refugees of 1948 to return home. The motion calls for Israel to "remove all settlements from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Occupied Syrian Al-Joulan; take down the Apartheid Wall; respect the Palestinian people's right to national self-determination and establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in Jerusalem."

The motion galvanizes the union to support a full boycott to pressure Israel to end the occupation and condemns the sanctions placed on Hamas following the 2006 elections "which make worse the appalling economic circumstances of the occupation. It is a unique example of economic sanctions imposed, not upon an occupier, upon a population struggling against illegal military occupation." [via]
Key parts of the motion, that include the boycott call are: "Conference believes that ending the occupation demands concerted and sustained pressure upon Israel including an economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott." And:
Conference instructs the National Executive Council to:

a) continue to campaign with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others as appropriate;

b) continue to develop capacity building projects with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU);

c) call upon the United Kingdom government to end the arms trade with Israel;

d) produce UNISON's own material on Palestine to build knowledge among members;

e) consider inviting a PGFTU delegation to tour regions;

f) seek ways to work with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and other trade unions on the basis of the TUC 2006 Congress resolution;

g) raise the issue of Palestine with UNION's overseas partners and with international trade union federations with the aims of:

i) suspending the European Union/Israel Association Agreement; and

ii) a mandatory United Nations Arms Embargo on Israel of the kind the Security Council imposed on South Africa in 1977; and

h) encourage branches and regions to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), help build PSC branches and consider twinning with PGFTU organised public sector workers in Palestine.
That is, it supports a boycott as part of the strategy, but doesn't explicitly resolve to help implement one. (See conference decisions here.)

Background: JPost
Unison's "anti-Zionist witchhunt" against LabourStart: JC, AWL


NUJ Boycott
UCU Boycott
Previous boycott link round-up here. The other academic freedom issue here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hamas in Gaza/Six Day War

The news from Gaza is very depressing. There's some interesting stuff at AlertNet, such as this on the Al-Qaeda-inspired "radical fringe" in Gaza. Daniel Z has some thoughts here, and comments here. Richard S has thoughts here. Added: Analysis from Ghassan Khatib.

P.S. I meant to add Daniel's 1967 reflections (1 & 2) to my Six-Day War post, but didn't get around to it. Also this by Ralph Seliger, this by Tom Segev. Added: Fred Halliday's reflections.

John Lennon "Beautiful Boy"

Just listened to Yoko Ono on Desert Island Discs. I got all emotional when she played John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" - specifically this bit:
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While you're busy making other plans
Here's the song on YouTube.

Related: Norm's Beatles poll

Previous: Bob Dylan's Chabad telethon

Thursday, June 14, 2007


This week's top search engine referrals (as usual, hyperlinks are to the pages the search throws up, to keep that SEO juice flowing):
  • Punishment for sex tourism - this relates to Ken Livingstone's mate
  • Cornish extremism
  • Pajero will not engage - I like the thought of people with car trouble coming to me for advice and finding their car's name is a swearword in Latin America...
  • Realism in the Bush government
  • Is David Cameron Jewish? - I've been getting this periodically for a long while now, but there's been a minor resurgance, presumably because he announced that he is a "Zionist" in solidarity with Israel against the proposed academic boycott.
  • "I am a Zionist," Conservative Party leader David Cameron told an audience of party supporters of Israel in London on Tuesday. "If what you mean by Zionist, is someone who believes that the Jews have a right to a homeland in Israel and a right to their country then, yes, I am a Zionist and I'm proud of the fact that Conservative politicians down the ages have played a huge role in helping to bring this about," Cameron declared.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The other battle for academic freedom

I have been giving a fair bit of attention in this blog to the proposed UCU boycott of Israeli academics, but there is another, more pressing struggle for academic freedom going on in Israel/Palestine. That is the exclusion of many Palestinian students from Palestinian universities: an Israeli ban that prevents all Palestinian students in Gaza from studying in the West Bank, for "security" reasons. This is a gross infringement of academic freedom, experienced directly and concretely by Palestinian students, and is utterly inexusable, whatever the security situation.

To their credit, Israeli universities - and Israeli intellectuals at large - are protesting vigorously against the ban.

I should also point out that - as with the Engage website - my criticism of this Israeli policy is not some cynical ploy to portray myself as even-handed; this is not the first time I have written about this issue.

Bonus link: Gisha

Burn Israel Burn!

From Blue Star PR:
Bring your computers and cellphones with their Israeli components, your medications for multiple sclerosis, cancer, schizophrenia and numerous other diseases, your state of the art medical equipment such as radiation free breast cancer diagnostics and ingestible video pill cameras, your environmentally friendly drip irrigation systems and other such Israeli offenses to Clifford’s tower in York. All of these Israeli products will be burned in the tower at noon.

Clifford’s Tower is the site of England’s greatest moment in her never ending struggle against Jewish hegemony and aggression. Without the fiery victory over the Jews of York in 1190, this fair island might have served as a base for colonialism and imperialism stretching from here to India and beyond.

The event will conclude with a live reenactment of the 12th century immolation. All pro-Israel British Jews are asked to report to the tower at 3:00 PM. Petrol and matches will be provided by the British Union of Colleges and Universities. [pdf of poster]

Blog links: Engage, Swords and Ploughshares, Committee for Two States
Previous: Israeli Arabs face hostility from British academics, We are all Israelis!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bob Dylan, Peter Himmelman and Harry Dean Stanton Kick Out The Jewish Jams!

YouTube video of Chabad telethon featuring the above mentshn from Some Velvet.ds: Hava nagilah, Jewish music

CLR James meets Tony Soprano

I understand that on the other side of the Atlantic, the wonderful Sopranos series is coming to an end. The also wonderful Scott McLemee writes about it (found via Histomat).

For a soundtrack to this post, go to Call Me Betty.words: Alabama 3

Fat and fast

(Post accidentally killed due to a combination of being shit, and this individual blogger being incompetent. Can't be bothered to resurrect it.)

Where is Sarf London?

Daniel, in a comment on my last post, and an American reader about a year ago to whom I never replied, ask "What or where is 'Sarf London'?" The short answer is that this is the generally accepted phonetic rendering of how people from South London say "South London". Of course, if you don't have a London accent, then the way you'd naturally read the letters S-A-R-F would not sound like it should; I think the correct transcription is "sæːf". (Savage London produce clobber branded "Souwf London", which seems more accurate to me, but Lambeth-born Michael Caine endorses the SARF spelling.)

Sarf London is not exactly geographically co-terminous with South London, if the latter term is taken to mean any part of London south of the river. For example, Sarf London excludes most of Clapham (or "Claum" as it is reputedly called by its gentrifying denizens), a territory colonized by
the rich and stupid of North London. But it includes the estates like Winstanley, Surrey Lane and Doddington around Clapham Common, the areas that gave us those archetypal Sarf Londoners The So Solid Crew. I don't know the southern reaches of the Northern Line very well, places like Tooting and Wimbledon, so I'll reserve judgement on them - but I'd like to include them, in order to include Jamie T and To The Tooting Station. And it absolutely doesn't include Richmond, which is basically Surrey as far as I'm concerned.

In the east, I'm not sure where Sarf London shades into Kent. Years of connections through hop- and fruit-picking, caravan holidays, and white flight have blurred the borders there. Blackheath, one of the places in South London that North Londoners are likely to have heard of, has always seemed like an interloper to me.

I suppose, more than a place, Sarf London is a state of mind, a structure of feeling. It is Charlie Chaplin, Michael Caine, Jamie Forman. It's Freddie Forman, Charlie Richardson, Mad Frankie Fraser, the Great Train Robbers. It's Jade Goody, Charley Uchea, Millwall Football Club, Charlton Athletic. It's bear-baiting in Southwark and Christopher Marlowe's death in Deptford. It's Graham Swift's The Last Orders, Michael Winterbottom's Wonderland, Gary Oldman's Nil By Mouth, Hanif Kureishi's Buddha of Suburbia. It's Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Saxon Sound System, Kirsty MacColl, Squeeze, speed garage and jungle music. It's Electric Avenue and Deptford High Street, pie and mash shops,
the Dog and Bell in Deptford, the Brixton riots and the Battle of Lewisham, Jah Shaka at the Moonshot, Club Multepulciano at the Rivoli Ballroom, and perhaps even the Flying Pickets at the Albany Empire.

Readers, feel free to nominate more truly Sarf London things in the comments below.

Extra links: Transpontine; Slightly Lost in Sarf London; Ed Barrett "The making of London's 'white trash'" (on Michael Collins' The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class); Will Self "Southern Discomfort"; Darcus Howe "Welcome to the Republic of Sarf London; Simon Jenkins "Nuffink wrong wiv accents guv"; Wikipedia "Southern English Dialects"; Cockney English; "Sarf London Lily" (on Lily Allen).

Friday, June 08, 2007

Big Brother: Noone likes us we don't care

Obviously, I am not watching Big Brother. The bits I've caught of the series seem to have been even more dire than the last series, which itself hit a new low in Big Brother history.

But, what do you know? Two of this blog's obsessions seem to be central to the series. Charly Uchea is a Sarf London girl, representing (like her predecessor Jade) some of the area's real and imagined qualities of fuck-you belligerence and idle poverty, nicely summed up in this academic paper[pdf] by Millwall fan Garry Robson. Most press reports describe her as "from Lewisham", but I'm told on good authority that she comes from "Ghetto" (New Cross), although my only web verification for this is dodgy: "new cross woman", an anonymous contributor to a gossip forum, who claims "lives opposite new cross bus garage in those big houses" and then adds "SHE LOOKS LIKE FUCKING MAN".

And Carole Ann Vincent (according to Wikipedia: "a bisexual former sexual health worker, political activist and demonstrator from East London... arrested on numerous occasions for breaching the peace during demonstrations") stood for Respect in the Markhouse Ward of Walthamstow in the 2006 UK Local Election. So, following her great leader George Galloway's example. According to The Sun, she is also an SWP member. There's also a tenuous Abu Izzadeen connection.

So, maybe I will start watching.

For a completely different take on Big Brother, check The Soul of Man...

Keywords: Charlie Uchea

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The best of a bad couple of days

Taking lots of little breaks from what I ought to have been doing, I have posted lots of little posts today/yesterday, and added stuff to recent posts. Here's everything that's been posted or added to today, which I'll update later if I post any more:

P.S. I have started the long overdue rehaul of my blogroll, over to the right. Mainly, so far, I've added to the "Commies, Trots and Lefties" section. I've got a lot to add in the "Sarf London" section and elsewhere, and I want to remove some stuff as well. So, if I've promised to add you, and I haven't yet, be patient!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Israeli Arabs face hostility from British academics

Read this article about an Israeli Druze PhD student studying at the University of London. As Ignobus writes,
At this, I'm moving a little more toward blaming the pro-boycott delegates at the UCU congress of voting out of antisemitic motivations. Surely, there is still a mix of motivations, and even if PACBI is all about hating the Jooos, that's not the case with all of the UCU delegates who voted in such a way. But Hanifes's depiction of the "debate" is remarkable.

Some extra boycott links: Geoffrey Alderman at CiF (the sub-editor uses "totalitarian" in a rather slapdash way, I think, although the article doesn't), Eric Lee's message to the unions.

Added Monday 11th: Committee for Two States; Gisha on Israeli academics' support for Palestinian students

Previous: We are all Israelis!, Israel, Palestine and the republic of letters

Solidarity and rights

The Euston manifesto blog posts mp3 and other files of the Euston Manifesto folks' conference last week.

Urban history: Brockley

A great piece on Brockley's history at Coterie of Zombies

Happy National British Day

Via Andrew, comes this fantastic list at Freemania of options for a "national day to promote a stronger sense of British identity", as proposed by the blessed Ruth Kelly.

Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut

Via Tom of Fisking Central comes this enjoyable demolition of Robert Fisk as a linguist.

And, here, Snoopy Fisks Fisk on Lebanon.

We are all Israelis!

This is kind of interesting:
An International Call To Academics and Professionals To Stand In Solidarity With Our Israeli Academic and Professional Colleagues

Written by: Alan Dershowitz, Steven Weinberg, Edward Beck and Members of the SPME Task Force on Countering Academic and Professional Boycotts

June 4, 2007 To: Academics and Professionals Standing In Solidarity With Our Israeli Academic Colleagues Against All Boycott Proposals and Actions

Please Join Us By Signing and Circulating The Following Solidarity Statement With Our Israeli Academic and Professional Colleagues

We are academics, scholars, researchers and professionals of differing religious and political perspectives. We all agree that singling out Israelis for an academic boycott is wrong. To show our solidarity with our Israeli academics in this matter, we, the undersigned, hereby declare ourselves to be Israeli academics for purposes of any academic boycott. We will regard ourselves as Israeli academics and decline to participate in any activity from which Israeli academics are excluded.

Alan Dershowitz
Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law
Harvard University

Stanley Deser
Dirac Medal
Ancell Professor of Physics
Brandeis University

Roald Hoffmann
Frant H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters
Cornell University

Daniel Kahneman
Nobel Prize - Economics
Professor of Psychology
Princeton University

Eric R. Kandel
NobelPrize - Medicine
University Professor
Columbia University

Steven Weinberg
Nobel Prize-Physics
Josey Regental Professor of Science
University of Texas, Austin

Elie Wiesel
Nobel Peace Prize
Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities
Boston University

I am trying to decide (or, rather, my anonymous academic "flesh" alter ego is trying to decide) whether to sign this. Is "solidarity" the correct attitude towards Israel? It kind of has the wrong connotations for me. Second, asking to be boycotted requires quite a serious thinking through, and is not to be done lightly, so I think I need to spend a little while deciding... Any thoughts?

Other boycott links: Snoopy on the real face of the boycott movement; Boycotting Israel is moral masturbation; Something Something on double standards; Shalom Lappin's response.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007

Six Day War

Keywords: Israel, Palestine, 1967

Against secular fundamentalism

I welcomed Shuggy's gentle critique of Hitchens (and the wider ravanchist atheist movement he - and many of my dearest blogfriends - are part of). At some point, I will get around to posting exactly what I think is wrong with Jacobin secularism.

Update here.

NB: Parallel to the Hitch meme, is this Johan Hari - Chris Dillow - Freemania - Norman Geras meme.

Oddly, while writing this, "The Rebel Jesus" by Jackson Browne came up on my mp3 shuffle.

Previous: Religion and the American right, God Is Not Great