Sunday, January 31, 2010

Soul Power!

Talking of the southeastern corner of Greater Brockley, the Brockley Jack Film Club will be screening Soul Power on Monday 8 February:
While the eyes of the world were on the Rumble in the Jungle, the ears of the world were on Zaire ‘74, a legendary music festival to accompany the epic boxing match between Mohammed Ali and George Foreman. Using spectacular archive footage, this exhilarating documentary conveys all the colours, styles and sounds of a bygone age. People who lived through the 1970s won’t forget it; people who didn’t, won’t believe it. Roll up, roll up, come see the flamboyant costumes, extreme personalities, and melodramatic performances. And that’s just offstage. Onstage we see and hear music legends at the peak of their talent - including James Brown, B.B. King, Miriam Makeba, Manu Dibango, Bill Withers and many more - all giving the performances of their lives to a mammoth Zairian audience. Soul Power packs a bigger punch than Ali or Foreman. This was one of the definitive music events of the 20th Century. Luckily, someone filmed it.

Watch the trailer

If you've seen the wonderful When We Were Kings, Leon Gast's awesome documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle, some of the most compelling scenes are of the Zaire '74 concert, especially Miriam Makeba at her absolute best, so Soul Power should be a real treat.

Here is one of my personal gods, BB King, performing his best song, "The Thrill is Gone", at Zaire 74.

Now go and book your tickets!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I want to sleep with common people

We are all Seismic ShockWatch the movie.

The Hitch

I linked last week to Michael Totten's interview with Christopher Hitchens. But I somehow missed this excellent post by Kellie about what is wrong with some of the Hitch's formulations on Iran, drawing on Machiavelli. The key fault line, here, is regime change from above or regime change from below. Closely related, here's Carl on Hitchens and neoconservatism.

Liberal interventionism?
Ben Cohen points out the gap between Gerald Kaufman's robust interventionism when it comes to nice and simple war crimes committed by Israel, and his John Majoresque anti-intervention stance on "complicated" Bosnia. And this is the best thing you could possibly read of all the thousands of words written about Tony Blair's appearance at the Chilcott Inquiry (although you should read this too).

Another subject close to the Hitch's heart, the Vietnam war, as discussed at the end of this comment thread: at Poumista, Michael Ezra shares some Vietnam folk protest songs.

Another excellent post, which made me think differently, from Peter Ryley, riffing on Dovid Katz on the Tory alliance with the Euro-right and the Baltic campaign for Soviet-Nazi equivalence. At stake here is the meaning of totalitarianism, and the meaning of history. And Mazower's Dark Continent (as recently recommended at this blog by Graeme) is a reference point. On a related topic, something I have more to say about at some future date, Dan at Third Estate on Heidegger and fascism and Mick H on the same topic.

Who cares about the white working class?
Carl Packman, on another issue I have a post written in my head about. Further reading in the post and comments here. I'd like to read Michael Collins on white disaffection in England's deep South but it's subscription only.

Haiti footnotes
Ben C on Hugo Chavez and Haiti's debt. Noga on the Munchhausen Syndrome of some American liberals.

Carl again, at the Third Estate, on France and the burqa. Julie Burchill on UCU antisemitism. Two from Sceptic Isle, one on the "VIP treatment" immigrants get and one, highly recommended, on the failure of the left.

Comment trail
Did Martin Luther King ever actually say that anti-Zionism is antisemitism? I left the same comment at Tony Greenstein's, CifWatch's and TNC's MLK posts.

This week's David Cameron: first, Olly's Old Etonions, and, second, Rory Bremner runing one of my favourite songs for me.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Never again

Last week, Geoffrey Alderman, in his regular Jewish Chronicle column, noted the Labour MPs in marginal seats with enough Jewish voters to unseat them in the coming election went Tory. Among them were Hendon's Andrew Dismore and Harrow East's Tony McNulty. I wouldn't want to suggest cynical motivation to McNulty's excellent Holocaust Memorial Day speech in the Houses of Parliament:

It is a pleasure, if that is the right word, to speak in this debate in this place. As my hon. Friend Mr. Dismore suggested, we have had a role in these events through history, however small. Let me just point out to Mr. Keetch - I had a row with Michael Heseltine about this once-that the Nazis were not elected. They never secured a majority. It was the foolishness of the Deutsche Zentrumspartei and the German Conservative party-no partisan point intended- that allowed Hitler and the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei into power. They were never elected. That may be a small point, but I make it.

It is instructive, too, to look back in Hansard and read the 1937-38 debates on the emergency in Europe that led to the Kindertransport initiative. Many strong speeches were made saying that we must do something, but there were also those which asked what it had to do with us. Let us remember that this was at a time when the Prime Minister of the day, Neville Chamberlain, wrote - I do not have the exact quotation, but I cited it on the 70th anniversary of the Kindertransport - that the Jew, although rather shifty was not terribly unpleasant and we should probably do something to help them. That was the Prime Minister in 1937-38.

When my hon. Friend asks whether national Holocaust memorial day has been successful, my answer is that that is debatable. I recently did a question time with others at a synagogue in my constituency, and some of the questions asked revolved around the issue of whether it was safe for British Jewry to remain in Britain. The answer is profoundly yes, with qualifications, but if people have to ask that, we have some way to go. Why do we remember? It is for two reasons. First, we must never forget, but secondly, we must never repeat. The two go hand in hand.

Why do we remember the Shoah, the holocaust, more than any other historic event? It is because of its banality, its normality and its extraordinary ordinariness. It is because of the mechanised, industrial scale on which a state's decision to eradicate a race was carried out. We should not equivocate in comparing atrocities, but that mechanistic and industrial nature is unprecedented, and that is why we remember it and should continue to remember it. As the survivors fade away, we have all the more reason to remember. [...]

The main point that I wish to make is that you cannot equivocate on this issue. You cannot say that you are doing all you can to avoid a subsequent holocaust if you let things slide or pass. I say that not as a partisan point: I genuinely mean it. You cannot indulge Kaminski, given his past. You cannot indulge people who dabble with the history of the Latvian Waffen SS and claim, "That's okay, we don't really mean it and we'll gloss over their history." You cannot do that and mean it when you say, "Never again." The lesson of national Holocaust memorial day must be that you cannot be just a little bit anti-Semitic. You cannot be just a little bit of a holocaust denier, and you cannot be just a little bit in support of terrorism.


It is a disgrace that at any stage since the inception of national Holocaust memorial day the Muslim Council of Britain has boycotted it. I have said that to its members' faces, so I am not saying anything here that I would not say to them. It is very disappointing that Dr. Abdul Bari decided that Davos was more important than attending the commemorations. That is a matter of profound regret, given the nature and sensitivity of the day. Someone else from MCB attended in a personal capacity, whatever that means, and a rather junior person attended in Dr. Bari's stead. That is a matter for regret for MCB, as well as for the unity that we all seek.

We cannot say "never again" and then indulge Ahmadinejad, the holocaust denier, or others. During the demonstration in London last summer - I was not on it, but I passed it - I saw genuinely sincere people holding banners saying, "We are all Hezbollah now". That made me weep when I saw it. But the leader of that movement thinks that all Jews are the grandsons and granddaughters of pigs and monkeys, he is a holocaust denier and he wants to push Israel into the sea. That is not to say that Israel is above criticism, but that is a different matter. We cannot as a Government or a country equivocate on those points. You cannot be a little in favour of terrorism and fully support national Holocaust memorial day. You cannot, as al-Qaradawi has done, condemn 7/7 here but then say that our little children bombers in the west bank and Gaza will take on Israel because it is a war state and there is no such thing as an Israeli civilian. You cannot equivocate on such matters: you have to condemn, and you have to condemn harshly.

When I talked to the British Board of Deputies early in the consideration of my hon.
Friend's Bill to introduce a national Holocaust memorial day, I said that part of the purpose was to remind people that "never again" meant exactly that. As other hon. Members have said far more eloquently than I could, we have not held to that. If we slip and indulge other people and their ideologies simply because that makes things easier for us, we will fail in ensuring that it never happens again. We should, of course, engage with all communities, including the Muslim Council of Britain, but we should do it in terms that leave people in no doubt about our collective values. That includes condemning anti-Semitism and all forms of racism. If we slip on that just a little or if we tell people what they want to hear rather than what they should hear, we fail. We fail not only as a Government, but as a nation and as parliamentarians.

The substantive point behind national Holocaust memorial day was, of course, never to forget, but-and this is where we have our failings-it is also about ensuring that it is never, ever repeated in any form, but certainly in that mechanised, racist and ethnocentric form. We are in better shape now than we were, but we are being a tad complacent if we think that somehow, 10 years on from the first national Holocaust memorial day, we have done the business and there will never be another holocaust of any description. I hope that that is right, but that legacy of hope is what we build on and hope that it is not formed of eggshells.

And another good Holocaust memorial day speech from Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi here.

Video from Peter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My father reminisces

It is my policy not to implicate my family in this blog, especially without their permission, but I thought I'd share this extract from an e-mail my father sent me:
As a student, in about 1960, I participated in a sit-down street demonstration with the very elderly (I think he was 90) Bertrand Russell. It was either about the Congo or anti-nuclear. Sat right next to him, only two feet away, but was too shy and over-awed to speak to him.

The cop who carried him away remarked how light he was, to which he replied that he was just as light when he was young, but no-one had wanted to carry him then.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A local blog for local people

As I have "Brockley" in the title of my blog, I feel duty bound to direct you all to the Guardian's "Let's all move to South East London" feature ("a pocket of niceness with decent boozers, villagey bits, parks everywhere and good neighbour­liness"). My friends at Brockley Central are boiling over, as their property prices go up. Having said that, living in the southeast corner of what I call Greater Brockley, I was glad to see Ewhurst Rd getting a good airing at Brockley Central.

Meanwhile, Transpontine welcomes some new local bloggers to the fold, and mourns some of our lost friends. (Also some local radical history: Lewisham Communists and Emile Zola in Norwood.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blogging, hate and free speech: Seismic Shock vs Stephen Sizer

See here and here and here.

More miscellany

Chomsky watch
Jim Denham has a great post on Chomsky, Malcolm Caldwell and Cambodia, and Mike Ezra has another, which address some of the issues we raised here and here. Watch this space. Oh, and I see from Andy it's also covered at AaronovitchWatch, with another interesting comment thread.

Apologists, appeasers, revisionists
Louis P on Iran regime apologists: MRZine drunk on its own rotgut ideology.
Martin in the Margins on Iraq regime appeasers: The mental deformations of appeasement (riffing on Nick Cohen).
Aram Mattioli on Italy's Mussolini revisionists.

The Hitch
Michael J Totten interviews Christopher Hitchens - part I and II.

Anti-fascist histories and futures

Slack Andy commemorates the big strike of 1956. (Read this if you don't get it.)
Tony Greenstein remembers anti-fascist foot soldier Dave Hann.
Martin recovers his East End roots, and hopes that his ancestral lands do not fall to the extremist demagogues.

Bob's Beats
The Amazing Rhythm Aces - a blast from my past.
A new book about John Zorn. (H/t Jogo) And from Zorn's Tzadik label, here's Keiji Haino & Yoshida Tatsuya.

Zionism, anti-Zionism and anti-anti-Zionism
Tony Judt and the Velvet Genocide - on the ortho-Marxist roots of anti-Zionism (with my comments in the comment box). In an unexpected place, Alex Brummer applauds Judt for opening the debate.
Workers Liberty on Why Left Wing Students Should Not Support Boycotts of Israel.
Two from Engage: David Hirsh’s talk at UCU and David Hirsh’s response to the film ‘Defamation’

Comment trail
On the material basis for antisemitism today at Adam Holland's place.

David Cameron
and Boris Johnson
A great series of Tory ads from Beau Bo D'Or:

david cameron, snow, gritting

boris poster 1

boris johnson poster 2

Conservatives Drugs don't work

david cameron tory poster

There's lots more. Or try this one from Jacob:


Friday, January 15, 2010

Untermenschen and Asylum Seekers. London Conference Sunday 24th of January 2010.

I want to strongly recommend this conference taking place on Sunday week. The event explores the politics of the refugee experience, including Jewish refugees from Naziism and from Arab lands, African refugees in Israel, Palestinian refugees in Gaza and Iranian refugees in Britain. The material below is from Meretz UK, with a couple of added hyperlinks. On a personal note, let me add that David Rosenberg is an excellent speaker, so it is well worth turning up on time!

24th January 2010
Start 09.45 (9.00Doors Open), End 1930 (approx.)

Venue: Meretz UK - 37a Broadhurst Gardens, NW6

Costs: Advance £25 / Concessions £15.
Donation ticket £65 (£40 will go directly to charities present on the day).
On door £30/£20. Donations welcome.

Any surplus income will be donated to charities related to the
presentations, including Asylum Aid, ARDC, SOS Children Villages, Save Behnam.


Mimitah Best New Comer Awarded Singer
to perform at our refugee day
  • David Rosenberg: The 1905 Aliens Act . How it came to be, its impact and why it is important to know about it 110 years on.
  • Leslie Baruch Brent: Sunday's Child? My life story and how it shaped me.
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind: 25min. FILM documentary, (Harris / Ben Tovim) Narrated by Juliet Stevenson
  • Edwin Shuker: Jewish Refugee from 1970s Iraq. How being a refugee has shaped me.
  • Jayyab Abusafia: Refugee Existence in Gaza. A young Palestinian journalism student recounts his years growing up as a Palestinian refugee in Gaza under Israeli occupation.
  • Nitzan Horowitz: Current Meretz Israel Member of Knesset (MK), Israeli House of Parliament.
  • The Forgotten Refugees (2005): Award winning Documentary about Jewish refugees from the Middle East and the Maghreb produced by the David Project (Boston).
  • Ben Du Preez: Refugees cared for by African Refugee Development Centre (ARDC), Tel Aviv.
  • Maurice Wren: Director, Asylum Aid. London: Asylum Aid 2010. Contemporary challenges and successes
  • Pauline Levis: One person can make a difference. How and why I got involved in running a campaign to safe Behnam
  • Mimitah Abofando: Professional singer originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She will perform live as well as talk a little about growing up in a refugee family!

If any people are experts on being refugees by their experiences throughout human history, the Jewish people would surely make a good candidate. Jewish people with direct refugee experience live still amongst us and can recount their still vivid memories. What the German Nazis labelled to be racial sub-humans "Untermenschen" were to be expelled from the German Reich by force. Today many Jewish people are well settled in relatively safe countries. Our refugee experience obligates us to look around us. What are the realities of refugees today? The last few decades saw a tightening of the EU borders to outsiders, with an increase of desperate people willing to risk all to reach Western shores. Many just want a better chance in life, others are refugees from the war torn battlegrounds that humanity fails to prevent or end. Asylum Laws have tightened in spite of the introduction of the European Human Rights Charter in the U.K. 1000s of people drown every year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, others perish in deserts. Many live phantom existences in European towns, exploited, without medical aid, always on the run. People smuggling has grown into a sophisticated business involving criminal gangs from many corners on earth. In Israel Darfurian Sudanese refugees and other migrants who hoped the Jewish people will understand have made headlines, mostly because of appalling treatment by the state and related authorities. The birth of Israel supposed to end unsafe refugee existence of Jews caused other Jews from Arabic speaking countries to become refugees and the stories of Palestinian refugees goes hand in hand with the establishment of Israel, and remains still unresolved. This is the reason why Meretz UK has decided to dedicate a special day on the issue of refugees and migrants to inform, discuss and encourage to help and take action. We have succeeded to get an excellent line of speakers and what's more money raised through this event will reach refugees in Europe and in the Middle East.

Be there listen, participate, get encouraged, take action!

More details:

David Rosenberg: is a teacher and writer who also leads guided walks on London's radical history ( He is on the National Committee of the Jewish Socialists' Group and on the editorial committee of the Jewish Socialist Magazine. During the 1980s he was co-ordinator of the Jewish Cultural and Anti-Racist Project and then worked for the Runnymede Trust - a research and information body dealing with issues of racism and discrimination.

Leslie Baruch Brent's autobiography is called "Sunday's Child? A Memoir." He is University of London Emeritus Professor, and a Kinder-transport refugee, and has been outspoken on a number of civil rights and human rights subjects in the past.

Edwin Shuker fled Iraq when Arab Nationalism caused Jewish expulsion as a response to the foundation of Israel. However he is a man of bitter sweet memories, who thinks that the Jewish experience amongst Arab and Muslim countries has more to offer than an example of failure, but also a possible example how "Others" can live successfully amongst a non-Jewish Muslim majority in the Middle East.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind is a 25 min documentary following three mothers as they struggle to provide a normal life for their children against the shocking reality of being an asylum seeker in the UK. Emily Harris and Yoni Bentovim are an award winning filmmaking duo. They began collaborating whilst studying at the London Film School and have continued to produce successful projects ranging from drama shorts and feature to television documentaries. The film was recently screened at the Human Rights Film Festival.

Jayyab Abusafia is from Jabylia Refuge Camp in the north of Gaza Strip, the biggest Refugee Camp in the Occupied Territories. He is studying for a Journalism career here in London.

Nitzan Horowitz current Meretz Member of Knesset (MK), Israeli House of Parliament. Nitzan Horowitz was a foreign affairs journalist with Haaretz and Israeli News Channel 10 before becoming a parliamentarian. Since his election in 2009 Nitzan Horowitz has campaigned tirelessly for the human and civil rights f non Jewish immigrants in Israel and of Palestinians inside Israel and those in the Occupied Territories. He shares one of only three Meretz seats and has recently been called Israel's least corrupt politician.

Ben Du Preez (formerly Amnesty International (Refugee Rights) and Sadaka-Reut): Refugees cared for by African Refugee Development Centre (ARDC), Tel Aviv. ARDC was one of the first is today one of the leading organisations to reach out to non Jewish African refugees in Israel. Ben Du-Preez worked alongside ARDC as part of his mission in Israel to check on refugees in prisons. Du-Preez currently took a break from work to study at SOAS.

David Project (Boston). An educational trust and lobby group that serves to promote "strong voices for Israel," who also campaigned for the story of Arabic speaking Jewish refugees to be publicised. They are producers and promoters of the documentary "The Forgotten Refugees," winner of the Marbella Film festival 2007 and The Warsaw Film festival 2006.

Maurice Wren, Director, Asylum Aid. London: Asylum Aid 2010. Contemporary challenges and Successes:Asylum Aid is a leading national charity working to secure protection for people seeking refuge in the United Kingdom from persecution and human rights abuses abroad. They provide legal aid, and act as a lobby and support group

Pauline Levis is a single-handed grassroot campaigner for an Iranian Refugee and Asylum Seeker. She is a former chair of Meretz UK by coincidence. [see Behnam: Fighting deportation and Behnam Askari must stay.]

Mimitah Abofando
is a professional singer originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She grew up in a refugee family in the UK and has recently won the award of best new talent at the 2nd African Music Award.

Buy Tickets either via our online facility here, with a cheque issued to to Meretz UK, 37a Broadhurst Gardens, London NW6 3BN or pay on door. Limited Availability!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Far Outliers in Salonica

I recently came across the fascinating blog Far Outliers: "Exploring migrants, exiles, expatriates, and out-of-the-way peoples, places, and times, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region."

Among its gems, I particularly recommend the series of extracts from Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950, by Mark Mazower (Vintage, 2006), a book I've been intending to read for some time. The extracts are filed here, along with other Balkan material.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Islam4UK and the Muslim Council of Britain

Just been listening to the World at One as I wash up after lunch, and heard the disgusting sound of Inayat Bunglawala losing what little credibility he might have had by defending Islam4UK. It's not that I think a state ban on them is a good thing, it's just that using any breath defending them is a waste, and when it's done by the MCB it reflects badly on the mass of ordinary Muslims who apparently support the ban [listen from 14:27 here]. Anyway, this prompts me to link to Voltaire's Priest here, who expresses my views exactly.

Related: Dave S: Musing on the politics of war guilt.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


RCP watch
Sense on science? (via Graeme).

"Realism" watch: Israel
Socialism of Fools on the conservative re-alignment against Israel and its omnipotent "lobby". Closely related, here's Roland on the year Ron Paul went mainstream.

"Realism watch": the Balkans and beyond
Nick Cohen has published a large extract from his What's Left at Standpoint, a section dealing mainly with the Tory and Stalinist opposition to intervention in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the part Noam Chomsky played in that. (H/t Flesh.) John Major is one of the villains of this piece. On Major's dismissal of regime change, Peter says "I can think of some people who may disagree."

Atzmon watch
David "Hasbara" Aaronovitch on the conspiracy theorists who infect the mainstream liberal media.

Who started it?
Flesh is Grass has responded at length and elegantly to the Keith Kahn-Harris-ness I posted here, on how Jews comport themselves in debates about Israel. I think Noga would like it. I need to think some more.

It is one of my new year's resolutions to spend more time on this blog doing a small amount to get the Conservatives not elected. I'm not going to go as far as Darren and re-join. The comment thread on Terry's post about John Mann is interesting in this regard (specifically Peter, who argues that Mann is good on some things (anti-Zionism) and bad on others (socialism)). And, to keep in mind what we've got to deal with, Nick Cohen's reader's guide to Thatcherism.

Odd news item of the week
Jesse Walker on Beyoncé Knowles playing privately for Hannibal Gaddafi (son of Muammar Gaddafi). Conclusion: "You can read that story and damn Beyoncé for entertaining the thuggish son of a tyrant, or you can take it as another sign that liberatory vulgar culture is infiltrating the Muslim world. Or maybe you'll just marvel at the news that Jon Bon Jovi was on Qaddafi's guest list. Hell, you can do all three."

Chomskyism/Decent watch
And if you haven't read the whole of this long, involved and obsessive comment thread on Noam Chomsky (and Cambodia, anarchism, liberalism, popular frontism, anti-fascism, lesser evilism, decentism and much more). Related to some of those topics, as well as the Keith articles and the Bosnia stuff above, is Martin Bright's piece "Am I a neocon or an appeaser?" which starts with the question "How does the political editor of the Jewish Chronicle write about Gaza?", a propos of the great Joe Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza. (Also read: Martin Bright on Tzipi Livni and the Guardian, clarifies both some issues about both Decentism and Guardianism.) Update: Andy has a long and well-researched response on my comments about Chomsky and Cambodia here, and I forgot to link to Ignoblus' post on Berube here, and he has a follow-up here.

I added a couple of leftovers, Fisk on China and Cohen on anti-green convervatism, to this post, on Friday afternoon. Update: I'm still going through my leftovers, and here are two more from Adloyada: on the UCL Islamic Society and the Christmas Day bomb plot, and on Oliver Miles and the Arab Lobby.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Steve Hanson for the Orwell Prize

Am adding Steve Aitch to the blogroll, under "Awaiting shelving". Here's the posts that ought to win him the Orwell Prize:

1. Theodor and the Gas Man:

2. We-think:

3. Up Shares Down Shares:

4. The BA strike injunction:

5. The Circulation of Information – Freedoms and Unfreedoms:

6. Reflections on the Newport Socialist Party:

7. Reading on the Right:

8. Feudal Relations – some thoughts on green politics, class and real estate:

9. Reflections on the Abergavenny Left:

10. The King lost in Third Space:

I don't link often enough to blogs in that section of the blogroll, so while you're here, why don't you visit: A Rabbit's Eye View, Cafe Turco, Debate Link, Joel Schalit, Nem la nem aqui, Notes from a tunnel, Paperhouse, Politics, Theory, Photography, Potlatch, Raincoat Optimism, Reading the Maps, Thunder and Lightening and trinketization.

On the Orwell Prize, bloggers, you have until the 20th to enter yourself. I couldn't help myself.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Press TV

Jeff Weintraub reminds us of what a disgrace Press TV is. Looking at their Iran news, the reader would have no idea that there is anything going on, let alone an uprising. This is the only inkling, which talks about "post-election unrest". Press TV is evidence for the totalitarian nature of the Iranian state.

Incidentally, among its paid employees are George Galloway, Yvonne Ridley, Tariq Ramadan,
Afshin Rattansi, Greenwich's own Andrew Gilligan, and, at least until recently, Derek Conway MP. The William Joyces of the 21st century?


(More on Gilligan. More on Ridley. More on Galloway. Full list of Iran regime apologists from Observing Iran: Abbas Barzegar, Abbas Edalat, Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Ardeshir Ommani, Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, CASMII, Darius Guppy, Elaheh Rostami-Povey, Flynt Leverett, George Galloway, Haleh Afshar, Hamid Molana, Hooman Majd, James Petras, John Rees, Just Foreign Policy, Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Ken Ballen, Leon Kuhn, Matthew Richardson, Mazda Majidi, Mehri Honarbin-Holliday, Nader Mokhtari, Nima Shirazi, Patrick Doherty, Phil WilaytoRoshan Muhammed Salih, Seumas Milne, Socialist Unity, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Stop the War Coalition, World Socialist Web Site, Yvonne Ridley.)

For accurate news on Iran, turn to the blogosphere: Iran Solidarity, Azarmehr, Neo-Resistance, HOPI, Maryam Namazie, Entdinglichung, Airforce Amazons.

Previous: Galloway and the tyrants; Ahmadinejad's British stooges; Ridley and Galloway; Press TV and Nicholas Kollerstrom at Wikipedia

Update: Jeff W sent me this e-mail:
I just saw your useful post on Press TV, with its useful round-up of propagandists and apologists for the Iranian regime.  I appreciate your mentioning one of my posts.

   I think it's was valuable for you (and Observing Iran) to have pulled together this list--though, alas, it's hardly a "full list".

   However, I did want to enter one small quibble.  I'm not sure Ray Tayekh really quite belongs in that list.  All the other individuals and organizations listed there have combined blatant and persistent apologetics for the Iranian regime with efforts to dismiss or smear the democratic opposition.  Now, it's true that Tayekh has often been the kind of foreign-policy pseudo-"realist" who has, at the very least, bent over backward to be sympathetic to the perspective of the Khamenei/IRCG/Ahmadinejad regime.  But even at his worst, he was never in the same class as, say, the appalling duo of Flynt Leverett & Hilary Mann Leverett.  More to the point, the fraudulent election in June 2009 and the Green Wave of opposition it provoked have had a genuine effect on his thinking, and everything he's written about Iran since then has had a new tone (e.g., see here & here).  Unlike the Leveretts, he has been unmistakably sympathetic, not hostile, to the democratic opposition, and he's been increasingly critical of the regime.  One still might not find his position entirely satisfactory, but I don't think it's appropriate any longer to include him in a list of that sort.

  But with that one caveat ... good work!
I deleted Tayekh from my list, and got Jeff's permission to post this here. He added:
I posted a similar message in the "comments" thread at Observing Iran, and got a polite but firm disagreement from Arash in return.  Arash's feeling was that Tayekh's previous work put him beyond the pale.

Ray Takeyh's book Hidden Iran is propaganda of the highest order, describing Khatami of all people as a "liberal". He remains on the list. You are right however that he is much better than the likes of Galloway and Everett but he is an apologist nonetheless.

I can sympathize ... but, for reasons I explained, I don't entirely agree.  And I also think that this is a situation where the good guys (i.e., us) have to be extra-careful and extra-scrupulous, not just for its own sake but also to avoid giving unnecessary ammunition to the bad guys.

Yours for reality-based discourse.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


**A couple more leftovers being added at the bottom of the post.**

It is a tradition in this part of the world to spend this time of year getting through mountains of leftover turkey. In this post, I am trying to get through some of the stuff I had building up in December but was too busy to deal with.

"Honour" killings
I have a half-written long post about so-called honour killings in my drafts folder, started when I read this by Tariq Ali several months ago, and revived in the wake of the horrific Tulay Goren case. I'm not going to finish it in 2009, so in the meantime read Rosie Bell, Penny Red and Dave Osler.

Sarf London
Highly recommended: When Lewisham had cinemas, an interview with an old-timer about the golden age of cinema here.

Zionism, anti-Zionism, racism
Eric Lee asks Racism and Anti-Semitism in the UK: Are union leaders and the Jewish community in denial? Three articles from Keith Kahn-Harris (Metal Jew): on Brian Klug and Jews taking offence, on three new books about Israel from the left, and on (a topic close to my heart) incivility in debates about Israel. And here's an interesting post and comment thread on Norman Finkelstein and the British SWP.

Dave Osler on Ahmadinehad's British socialist fellow travellers. More news on the uprising from Kellie and Mod.

UK politricks
: Tatchell
Sadly, Peter Tatchell is standing down as candidate for Oxford East, due to the health problems caused by his beating by Mugabe's thugs in 2001 and Russian bigots in 2007. He writes: “The injuries don’t stop me from campaigning but I am slower, make more mistakes, get tired easily and take longer to do things. My memory, concentration, balance and coordination have been adversley affected. I can’t campaign at the pace I used to." However, it seems to me his reduced pace far outstrips that of most of our elected misrepresentatives.

UK Politricks: John Major
Denis MacShane on Major's rewriting of history.

UK politricks: London
Andy kicks off the fightback against Boris. More too from Karen Buck.

Islamist terrorism
Jeff W on 1989, the Rushdie affair and independent bookstores.

Fascism and anti-fascism
Noga on strange alliances in Hungary. Duncan on Housing shortages and immigration. Property is Theft has a whole series of interesting posts on Anti-fascism in the 21st Century, and older posts on militarism and anti-fascism in WWII, Anarchism, ethnicity, and culture: revolution and reaction in the Middle East and Political and militant Islam.

Left sectariana
This might not mean too much to too many people, but Mike Ezra has put some 1980s satirical songs about Socialist Organiser (now Workers Liberty) here. Scroll down. (This guy would remember these songs, I reckon.)

To be added to the blogroll, via the Centrists, Ray Cook, writing thoughtfully on Zionism, anti-Zionism, Islamophobia and more. And a big welcome back to the blogopshere to Judeosphere.

Nick Cohen on the anti-green backlash. Robert Fisk asks two interesting questions: Why did no imams plead for Akmal Shaikh's life to be spared? How many Muslim clerics condemned the execution of Chinese Uighur Muslims?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Gnome Chomsky 2: The biggest gnome in the world

Before Christmas, I posted something about the Garden Noam, author of The Manufacture of Compost and Hedgerows not Hegemony. Turns out there's a whole genre. I'll post one once a month until I run out.

From The Little Rebellion:
Just Say ‘Gnome’ to Factory Farms
By James Leggate

Photo by James Petrich

Hidden away on Kelder’s Farm in the small town of Kerhonkson stands Chomsky, a 13-foot-6-inch garden gnome.

Chomsky was originally built by artist Maria Reidelbach and kept at a miniature golf course in lower Manhattan but was moved to Kelder’s Farm after the course was closed, where a new 10 hole course was built.

Chomsky was certified by the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the world’s largest garden gnome in 2007. While this is certainly impressive, it’s not all Kelder’s Farm has to offer.[...]

Come back in February for the next installment!