Saturday, March 31, 2007

Normal service WILL be resumed

I realise I haven't posted for a while - too much going on in my non-virtual life.

I will be back soon - I promise!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Niqabs allowed, blankets not

Inayat Bunglawala's tongue slips, from The People's Republic of Newport

Previous: veil fetishism 2

One for the cabal: Jew/not a Jew

I don't know if you've ever played the celebrity game "Jew/not a Jew", a variant of "dead/not dead", played mainly by Jewish people and anti-semites. It seems from my google referrals that many people find their way to this site by playing this game. Last night, I got a search on |Children's Minister Beverley Hughes jew| (for which this page and this page gave hits no.2 and 3.). In the past, I've had |David Cameron Jewish|, |ann summers jewish|, and plenty more along those lines.

So, as a service to my readers, I am going to start a new series, "Jew/not a Jew". I'm thinking of starting with female chanteuses, after Jogo sent me the Forverts article on Amy Winehouse. Keep your eyes out, khaverim.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lewisham blogging

1. Just checked in with the latest - bumper - edition of Andrew's Lewisham blog round-up. Lots to munch on. Surfing around from there, James C's post on Blair's apology for slavery caught my eye, as did Andrew's own post on our MP, Joan Ruddock's, opposition to Trident. I was very moved by the tribute to local socialist and humanist Malcolm Rees, too. You might also want to check out the Catford Man's rival Catford blog round-up.

2. Andrew is also organising the next Lewisham bloggers' night out. I'll be there. As well as the folks who were at the last one, I'm hoping to meet the flesh versions of Richard, Neil, [moe], Kate, Henry and Courtney. (I never got around to blogging about the last one, which I enjoyed very much. If you created the typical Lewisham blogger from the people there, he'd be male, white, about 35, have a child or two, drink real ale, and be a councillor or former councillor. Although I'm in most of those things, I'm hoping this time we can be a bit more "diverse" as they say. One area where there was plenty of diversity was politics - Conservative, Labour, Green, UKIP and Save Ladywell Pool were all represented, and getting on well - which says something nice about Lewisham I think.)

3. Lewisham celebrity watch: [moe] offers us Keeley Hazell, apparently a Tory eco-warrior. (Be sure to read Max's comment, offering us someone who looks even better in a swimsuit). Andrew offers us Michael Gambon.

Cuban books in search of a library

Cuban books in search of a library, at CafeBabel (via Arieh)

Tom Paine on Tom Paine

Looking For A Voice on the greatness of (the original) Tom Paine

Friday, March 16, 2007

Erev shabes post

Jogo sent me a bit of the Mishna
R’ Elazar said: One who becomes compassionate to the cruel will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate, as it is written, “And Saul and the nation spared Agag and the best sheep and cattle.” [I Samuel 15:9], and it is written (Ibid. 22:19) “And Nov, the city of priests, he smote with the edge of a sword.”
Tanhuma, Parashat Mezora,1; Yalkut Shimoni, I Samuel, Chapter 121.

I'll leave it up to you to work out the contemporary political relevance.

Apologies for my bad loshn koydesh in entitling this post originally. Thanks to Jogo for pointing out my error, in an e-mail appropriately labelled shmendrik.

Democratiya: new issue


Zimbabwe: Human rights and labour rights

ACT NOW - via LabourStart

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Leeds University bows to Islamist threats

A talk by Matthias Küntzel, a reknowned researcher on Islamic anti-semitism, has been cancelled due to pressure from Islamists, including threatening e-mails which caused "security concerns".

Leeds University gave an absurd justification:
"The decision to cancel the meeting has nothing to do with academic freedom, freedom of speech, anti-semitism or Islamophobia and those claiming that is the case are making mischief.
''Nor are we bowing to threats or protests from interest groups. The meeting has been cancelled on safety grounds alone and because - contrary to our rules - no assessment of risk to people or property has been carried out, no stewarding arrangements are in place and we were not given sufficient notice to ensure safety and public order.''
Having worked in academia, and organised countless seminars and conferences, I know that there is no practice of risk assessing academic talks. Essentially, therefore, the cancellation on security grounds must be seen as a triumph for terrorism.

Scholars For Peace in the Middle East statement via Will@DSTP4W

Also see Engage, Harry's Place, The Times, The Telegraph
Update: SPME article
More: Ruth Gledhill; Shiraz Socialist

Keywords: Matthew Kuntzel, Islamic anti-semitism, Arab anti-semitism, Nazism
Previous: Jewish students under attack at Leeds University

Iraq, Darfur and the fate of liberal interventionism

The legacy of Iraq is that the world stands by while Darfur burns
A great piece by Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian yesterday.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Itzik Manger: Yiddish Ballads

Itzik Manger Ballads.

Manger was one of the great Yiddish poets of the 1930s and 1940s. The Livnat Brothers and Helen Beer, drawing on jazz and klezmer, bring his ballads to life. Great stuff.

(via DanielZ)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The race for Darfur's oil - a blessing or a curse?

Here's another from the AlertNet blogs: The race for Darfur's oil - a blessing or a curse?

Previous: Isn't it ironic?; Latte-drinking liberals and the Darfur genocide; George Galloway on Darfur; Slow Motion Genocide; Sudan divestment; Sudan versus Iraq; Belarus and Darfur; Sudan at Passover.

A Voice from the Aliens

Hak Mao has posted the pdf of a wonderful text by Jewish trade unionists in Britain from the end of the nineteenth century, attacking the "anti-alien" (anti-immigrant) sentiment prevelant in the labour movement. Then, Jewish workers were the object of right-wing labour's hatred; now it is Eastern European workers. The text has been re-published by No One Is Illegal.

(Hak Mao gives one example of anti-Eastern European racism from right-wing labourism: our old pal George Galloway.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Suppressing debate on Israel

Ameinu: Who is really suppresing debate on Israel? (via Arieh)

Jeffrey Mallow on the new orthodoxy that the Israel lobby are stifling debate on Israel.

Mallow cites an International Herald Tribune column by Roger Cohen:
[Cohen writes that] Professor Fred Lazin"...attended a meeting of the American Jewish Committee... said that if he wrote a favorable review of Jimmy Carter’s recent book... he’d be ‘blackballed as a speaker in many American Jewish venues.’”

Say what? An Israeli professor critical of Israel’s policies, speaking to one of the pre-eminent American Jewish organizations, says that if he lauds the book of former President Carter, who just spoke to an SRO crowd at Brandeis, America’s pre-eminent Jewish university, he will be blackballed by American Jews? Hello Planet Earth.

But seriously folks, this is getting serious. Cohen in the same IHT article decries “post 9/11 American taboos that have lowered debate of Israel to the scurrilous (and paralyzing) if-you-back-Palestinians-you-back-terrorists level”; Professors Mearsheimer and Walt have a fat contract for their soon-to-be-published book claiming that they are being muzzled; hardly a day goes by without someone somewhere criticizing Israel, in print or blog read by millions, then moaning that he or she is being censored by “the powerful Israel lobby.” If it’s so powerful, how come it’s so ineffectual at shutting anyone up?
Read the rest.

Chinese imperialism

Following yesterday's Great Fire Wall of China post:

Lefties, Muslims, etc (lorra lorra links)

Leftists and the Middle East

13th Carnival of Socialism at the new Shiraz Socialist site: why is the left obsessed with the Middle East? (Ive yet to go through this properly. Might report back when I have.)

Frank Furedi on the "new" anti-semitism (via Judeosphere)

Dave Broder on the SWP's sucking up to reactionary scum

The Middle East: totalitarianism versus freedom

Iraqi LGBT blog (via ModernityBlog)

Hak Mao on Hamas

Iraq Mojo, a great blog

Leftists, etc

Tommy Sheridan comes out swinging, from The Daily (Maybe)

More reasons to hate Bono, from Ambuscading (via Fisking Central)

Harry Barnes on Nick Cohen

Richard King on The Anti-Totalitarian Left
(via the Euston Manifesto blog)

Dave Broder on George Galloway's anti-Polish racism

Your Friend in the North on the SWP

Ideological purity: a bloggers' spat

From But I Am A Liberal, I became aware of a little spat in the Dean's World corner of the blogosphere over whether or not Islam should be regarded as the enemy or not, which you might want to check out. First, Dean does a William F Buckley and "draws a line in the sand" over this question: either you can hate all Muslims or be part of Dean's gang. You can read the ensuing debate (unfolding chronologically downwards, which is nice in this day and age) here. One who refused to get on the correct side of that is Ron Coleman.

Angry Iranians

Angry Iranian teachers, at Gateway Pundit. Thousands of them.

Previous: Mansour Osanloo on trial

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It's All Going to Get Worse

Image from Braveheart.

Isn't it ironic? No

(You'll already have noticed that today I have been mostly reading the AlertNet blogs.)

Great post by Megan Rowling on Darfur:
The naming of Ahmed Haroun, Sudan's state humanitarian affairs minister, by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as one of its first war crimes suspects in Darfur reminded me of the song Ironic by Canadian rocker Alanis Morissette on her album "Jagged Little Pill". If you've never heard it, here are a few of the lyrics:

A traffic jam when you're already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
... And isn't it ironic... don't you think?"

If you're already thinking, what's so ironic about these situations - well, that may be the point. As outlined in a Wikipedia entry dedicated to the song, arguably the only thing that's truly ironic about Ironic is that it contains no irony.

You might be wondering what on earth this has got to do with Darfur's four-year-long humanitarian crisis...

Haroun was Sudan's state interior minister during the height of the conflict in Darfur. According to ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the evidence his team collected showed that Haroun funded Darfur's Janjaweed militia from an unlimited budget that was not publicly audited and was seen personally delivering arms, ammunition and well-guarded boxes to the militia.
(Read the rest, and be sure to follow the wikipedia link.)

More on Darfur: "Darfur Needs More Than Words" Nick Grono in European Voice; Jeff W: Sudanese and Iranian genocide deniers' coalition; Jeff W: Cries of Rage; Eric Reeves on the ICC.


Another post by Megan Rowling talks of violence in Iraq threatening the literacy of its children. My problem with this post is that it doesn't give weight to the fact that the "insurrection" has systematically set out to target schools and colleges - particularly those where girls and women are educated - in its campaign of terror.


Finally, Nina Brenjo on Serbia's war crimes acquittal.


Previously: Latte-drinking liberals and the Darfur genocide; George Galloway on Darfur; Slow Motion Genocide; Sudan divestment; Sudan versus Iraq; Chomsky on Srebernica; Western Sahara; Belarus and Darfur; Sudan at Passover; Pinochet-Good Riddance; The trial of Saddam Hussein.

What's the world made of? (Bob or non-Bob)

What's the world made of? is a wonderful website. Using google, it calculates the relative weight of two different components of the world. Nicely, the world is 100% Bob, 0% non-Bob.

Found via an AlertNet blog:
Which is more topical - Iraq or Darfur? Iraq - it gets 93.6 percent...

The website compares how many pages search engine Google finds for each one.

Which means Darfur champion George Clooney gets just 30 percent, while refugee rights pin-up Angelina Jolie stars with 70 percent. Angelina gets better press for her international adoptions than Madonna, but the queen of pop wipes the floor with Angelina if you compare their general search hits, scoring a massive 91.1 percent.

Is good more powerful than evil? YES! (84.8 percent). Truth or beauty? The world is very superficial, apparently - beauty is well ahead on 77.4 percent. War or peace? Sadly, war gets three-quarters of the pie.

Fair trade coffee or conflict diamonds? Sixty-five percent for the guilt-free beverage. Fair trade bananas don't do so well, by the way. Just 51 percent, compared to 49 percent for the blood-stained jewels.

It's completely pointless and very silly, and yet strangely compelling. also brings you the Capital Ring walk (here is a nice South London segment: Falconwood to Crystal Palace) and this lovely Deptford walk.

Kathy Love, a great South Londoner (Or: Flinging Martin Amis across the room)

When the Guardian last week revealed that Martin Amis was to become professor of creative writing at Manchester University, it lapsed into a dangerous piece of journalistic shorthand: "Amis, who is often described as Britain's greatest living author . . ."

Is he? By whom? Using what criteria? One agitated reader was moved to write to the paper - and threatened the ultimate sanction: "If the media refer to Martin Amis as 'Britain's greatest living author' once more," wrote Kathy Love from south London, "I shall kill myself. The fact that such a misconception exists at all is enough to make most people with a passion for books want to emigrate to Uruguay immediately. Please save my life and don't do it again."

I tracked her down to an internet cafe. "I have never enjoyed a Martin Amis book," she e-wailed. "Most of them I have flung across the room unfinished. I hate his self-conscious literary style, his pathetic posturing. More importantly, he has nothing to say. Greatness in a writer can only be awarded posthumously. Let them snuff it first, I say. Then we'll decide."

That's Stephen Moss in The Guardian, found via The Soul of Man Under Capitalism, the new(ish) blog brought to you from the same folks as brought you Cunt of the Week. Both are well worth a visit.

Basement Jaxx sampledelica

Basement Jaxx are a South London band, and I've been neglecting my South London related blogging recently. So, here is a superb post from Palms Out Sands with the sources of BJ's samples.

Biofuels - fuelling hunger?

Very good article at AlertNet on the biofuel revolution.
Fans of biofuels give the impression we could soon be running cars on maize, producing electricity with sugar, and getting power from palm oil. Using plants to feed our fuel needs sounds like a great idea, and it could be a moneyspinner for some poor countries, but it might well mean people go hungry as food prices rise.
Read the rest.

Incidentally, the article mentions the implications of biofuels in China, which is running out of the water needed to either feed its people or produce biofuels. is not accessible in China, according to the Great Fire Wall of China.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ugly Rumours

Something popped into my inbox at the end of last week on one of the left groups I subscribe to, complaining about the BBC "banning" the novelty single "War" by Ugly Rumours. Apparently, there was going to be a news article about it on Radio 1, but other more important news, believe it or not, displaced it.

Respect claims that an order came from on high pulling the news item. The BBC ("the Bush and Blair Corporation", as the e-mail from an SWP member/Stop The War Coalition organiser put it), who gave lots of air space to unrepentant Weather Underground and Angry Brigade bombers this morning, are clearly protecting the capitalist world order from the terrifying forces of subversion that are Ugly Rumours.

In a nice un-noticed irony, both the e-mail and the Ugly Rumours website direct people to, yes, a BBC news article for further information. (And another BBC article described the single as an example of e-democracy in action.)

Celebrity Big Brother star George Galloway is, of course, promoting the single, describing the BBC as "lickspittle" (love that Maoist language). We know he thinks suspending the rule of law (in Venezuela) is perfectly democratic; now we get a demonstration of how he understands the word "banning", this is even more mind-boggling.


Bonus link: Edwin Starr at Heraclitan Fire.

Update: In response to Max's comment in the comments box, here's the YouTube video of Sister Rosetta singing "Down by the Riverside". And here's some mp3 links: Pete Seeger singing it (from Some Velvet) and the New Christy Minstrels from Keep The Coffee Coming (and more on them here too).

The New Leader

George Orwell, Arthur Miller and Bertrand Russell have been among its contributors. Influential texts have included Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's then-secret denunciation of Stalin and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter From a Birmingham Jail."

The New Leader
, founded in 1924, is a chronically underfunded magazine that through will and vision became an important forum for liberal anti-communism and cultural debate during the Cold War and remains in business despite announcing it would fold a year ago.
Read the rest here. See also item here .

You can access the January/February issue by clicking on

Hat tip: Arieh

Previous: Anti-Stalinist left, Seymour Martin Lipset.

Anti-anti-Zionists for Obama

Apparently, Barack Obama is an AIPAC Zionist stooge.

UPDATE: More from Judeosphere.

Previous: Anti-anti-Zionists for Hillary.
All Barack Obama posts.

Atzmon yet again

A while back, I attacked the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign for inviting the hideous Gilad Atzmon to speak. To their credit, the SPSC realised they made a mistake.

Roland Rance writes on the Just Peace UK discussion list:
Mick Napier of Scottish PSC has published an article in their discussion forum strongly denouncing Shamir and Atzmon. I have already added my comments; I urge others to register and contribute to the debate. When we see the vile denunciation on Mary Rizzo's weblog of Michael Rosen for his letter in Socialist Worker, we must congratulate SPSC for their stance, for their recognition that it was a mistakee to host Atzmon recently, and for their principled courage in making this public statement.

Visit the discussion at
Hat tip: Arieh

Act for Salah Choudhury

Please read Jeff Weintraub's call for action for Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

Add your name to the petition sponsored by Scholars for Peace in Middle East.

Background available from previous posts here.

Breaking the great fire wall of China

I'm rather disappointed that this blog passes the Chinese internet censors. (As do the Drink-Soaked Trotskyist revisionists, but not that capitalist running dog Matt the Insomniac). Test your site here, and see who else is banned.

Update: Richard, always cooler than me, is banned.

Friday, March 02, 2007


The great Lewisham News blog, out of action for ages now, is back. But why is all of the news depressing?

While I'm here, my three favourite google search referrals this week: I'm #1 for "shared civic culture in India", no.21 for "diamond geezer anarchist", and no.2 for "vulgar materialism".

Two blogs I keep meaning to add to the blogroll: Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Republic (source of the image above - now you're intrigued, eh?) and Fat Man on a Keyboard.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Attack on Iraqi unions

On 23 February 2007, US and Iraqi forces raided the head offices of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW). This is deplorable, given that the trade unions in Iraq represent one of the most important sites of democratic civil society in Iraq, a bulwark against both religious communalism and Ba'athism. Protest via LabourStart.

UPDATE: Three Score Years and Ten reports that the issue has also been raised by Dave Anderson MP with Jack Straw, who has promised to have the matter investigated. Harry adds: "I am an honourary member of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) who merged to form the GFIW which is the Iraqi's TUC. These are fine people who are in need of your solidarity."

Saluting dictators

George Galloway - known for "saluting" Saddam's indefatigability and "glorfying" Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah - had an article in yesterday's Guardian (nicely placed on the page above an attempt to exonerate Slobadan Milosevic and the butchers of Rwanda) praising his buddy Hugo Chavez.
This month I watched with Chávez as thousands of soldiers, French and British tanks, Russian helicopters and brand new Mirage and Sukhoi fighter bombers passed by: the soldiers chanting "patria, socialismo o muerte" - enough to make any US president blanch. Chávez answered the salute with the words: "the Bolivarian revolution is a peaceful revolution but it is not unarmed".
Once again, Galloway reveals his fascination violence and strength, with men in uniforms. He swills in luxury here, while calling for the muerte, in the name of patria and socialismo, of ordinary working class brown-skinned people in other countries - Venezuela, Lebanon, wherever a strong-jawed demagogue calls for their sacrifice.

And once again, his obsession with patriotism, his volkish racial nationalism.

And, of course, his ridiculously pretentious language: the atmosphere in Caracas is "fervid", propoganda is "mendacious", and so on. (Admittedly, the "travesty" in the headline is the sub-editor's.)

Galloway says Tony Blair "only last year declared Venezuela to be in breach of international democratic norms - though when I pressed him in parliament he was unable to list them." Whatever the situation then, of course, Chavez has now suspended the rule of law in Venezuela ("been given enabling powers for 18 months" is how George euphemistically glosses it), pretty clear cut evidence for Chavez's disregard for democracy.
"Chávez's decision not to renew an expired licence for an opposition television station involved in a coup attempt - there are plenty of others - is being portrayed as the beginning of the death of democracy. It's as if Country Life's diatribes against the fox hunting ban were taken as irrefutable proof of totalitarianism in Britain."
Er, no it's not George. Banning a TV station for opposing the Bolivarian revolution is akin to Blair banning Country Life for opposing the hunting ban.

Anyone who thinks Chaviz is totalitarian is an idiot. (That old Cold War distinction between authoritarianism and totalitarianism actually does work.) And many of Chavez's social reforms are good. But Chavez is the worst possible model of a socialist world.

Previous: Democrators and dying dictators, A penchant for uniforms; Chavismo and lefty sectariana; Tropical fascism; Ken and Hugo; Libertarian take; Chavez anti-semitic?; Galloway the racial nationalist.