Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Mid-week mini-miscellany

The revolutions in the Middle East
Kellie on making excuses: highly recommended. Fascinating bit of citizen journalism here, with Twitterers debunking a myth about Israeli weaponry being used in Libya. Related: Fred Halliday on the left and jihad. And I missed this Kenan Malik piece on the Arab revolutions, from February.

Iz/Pal
Geoffrey Alderman on Benny Morris on Ilan Pappe. Freedland asks Where's the Goldstone report into Sri Lanka, Congo, Darfur – or Britain?

AV
I really don't know how to vote in the referendum, and think I will end up not voting. I had decided to vote for, and then read this post and this post by Marko, and changed my mind.(Marko: "the still more important reason for voting against AV - the overriding need to kick Nick Clegg.")

Crofton Park Library
A bit of detail on the future of the library here.

39 comments:

Waterloo Sunset said...

Kicking Nick Clegg is absolutely a legitimate principle we should be following here and not just for reasons of schadenfreude.

If the Lib Dems don't get AV, it's going to put them in disarray- it means that they really have got nothing from the coalition. If they win it, it will paper over the cracks. So, the best chance we have of fucking over this coalition is a no vote.

In other words, voting against AV is not simply a matter of electoral systems, it's the strongest option in terms of defeating the cuts.

skidamrx said...

Kellie - not challenging is making excuses, while Matgamna's stupidity( on a par with the extreme left and right must be the same because that's the circle of life) doesn't deserve analysis.

WV:bureasy - is that what happens when Stelios gets ahold of North Korea?

skidmarx said...

Obviously AV means that fewer first preferences will achieve the desire. You pays your money, and you takes your choice.

Mira said...

If you scroll down the Israeli weaponry story, you find that the ayatolla's telly channel PressTV went with it anyway. The news had an upsetting effect on its commenters - PressTV accused of taking its orders from Tel Aviv, some of the pro-Ghadaffi commenters now coming suspiciously close to Israel advocacy. News of the debunk, ignored. Meltdown.

sackcloth and ashes said...

WS, spot on. Couldn't have put it better myself.

In any case, and for all its flaws, FPTP has kept extreme right parties such as the BNP and SWP from polluting the body politic.

kellie said...

On Twitter rumours, they're like zombies, kill 'em and they still keep walking. Here's a more recent one, @Liberty4Libya citing Al Jazeera Arabic on 5 April:

Palestinians tip Libyan National Council on ship loaded with weapons from Israel, headed to #Gadafi #Tripoli Vessel intercepted by TNC.#AJA

No confirmation from any other source since, no pictures, nothing. Nor can I even find confirmation that Al Jazeera Arabic reported this in the first place.

Al Jazeera Arabic did publish the earlier unsourced rumour that Israel was recruiting mercenaries for Gaddafi, though they have now changed the story.

@Liberty4Libya also links to a series of posts from Middle East Monitor, Stratfor, JPost, and others, all regurgitating the following:

A report in the Algerian newspaper Al-Shuruq claims that the former Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan was one of a number of Palestinians "involved in a deal to supply weapons from Israel to Muammar Gaddafi". The secret deal was facilitated using a ship which sailed from Greece. The source for the information was Libyan dissident Omar El-Khadraoui.

The only Google results for Omar El-Khadraoui seem to be the very many reproductions of this story.

kellie said...

Comment eating monster on the loose again. Showed up in email feed though, so doubt it's in the spam folder. That's what I get for including links.

Meantime here's a tune:

http://www.myspace.com/dukeellington/music/songs/tulip-or-turnip-38836416

The Contentious Centrist said...

A-propo, Israel's weapons story, I am eager to share this blogger's take on it:

"A few days ago, Aljazeera aired a report about Israeli weapons used by Qadhdhafi's forces. So after the report, they hosted a representative of the lousy opposition group, led by `Abdul-Jalil. The guy was so nervous and said that, yes, they did find Israeli weapons but that they may have been obtained through the arms market, and not directly. He was so afraid of charging Qadhdhafi with direct dealing with Israel."

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/israeli-weapons-in-qadhdhafis-hands.html

Amusing to think that if the guy had stuck to the memo, chances are the honorable professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley, would have found nothing particularly "lousy" about the opposition.

kellie said...

My earlier attempted comment, this time with HTML links removed to avoid spam folder:

On Twitter rumours, they're like zombies, kill 'em and they still keep walking. Here's a more recent one, @Liberty4Libya citing Al Jazeera Arabic on 5 April:

Palestinians tip Libyan National Council on ship loaded with weapons from Israel, headed to #Gadafi #Tripoli Vessel intercepted by TNC.#AJA

No confirmation from any other source since, no pictures, nothing. Nor can I even find confirmation that Al Jazeera Arabic reported this in the first place.

Al Jazeera Arabic did publish an earlier unsourced rumour that Israel was recruiting mercenaries for Gaddafi, though they have now changed the story, publishing a denial instead.

http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/ali-abdullah-saleh-and-conspiracy-theories/

@Liberty4Libya also links to a series of posts from Middle East Monitor, Stratfor, JPost, and others, all regurgitating this story:

A report in the Algerian newspaper Al-Shuruq claims that the former Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan was one of a number of Palestinians "involved in a deal to supply weapons from Israel to Muammar Gaddafi". The secret deal was facilitated using a ship which sailed from Greece. The source for the information was Libyan dissident Omar El-Khadraoui.

The only Google results for Omar El-Khadraoui are reproductions of this story.

http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/2205-report-claims-that-dahlan-supplied-gaddafi-with-israeli-weapons

bob said...

Sorry about the comment eating monster Kellie. I fed him some sardines instead and he regurgitated yours. Let the fat free version you subsequently added, as it had extra link at bottom, and I wanted to show media bias towards you. (Spam shows up i e-mail if you subscribe, so subscribers get to see the stuff the monster doesn't like.)

I should have said that the twitter rumour story is h/t Jogo.

Will actually read the comments now.

bob said...

WS, I think you've swung the balance for me. I'll vote no.

S&A, I'm not too convinced by the "extremist" argument against AV, (a) because it seems to empirically wrong and won't make it easier for "extremist" parties to get in (e.g. where Respect has gotten in on FPTP it may well be that the "mainstream" voters second preferences would have stopped them hitting 50%), and (b) because I don't like the idea of excluding "extremist" parties from politics, as most mainstream voters' idea of "extremist" would certainly include me!

The Contentious Centrist said...

Perhaps the rumour began with this information, placed on Debkafile:

"As Washington commended the Arab League for approving a proposed no-fly zone over Libya and European powers drew up plans for saving the anti-Qaddafi movement from defeat, Syria began sending Muammar Qaddafi supplies of arms, ammunition and weapons spare parts to sustain his effort to crush the uprising. debkafile's military and intelligence sources report exclusively that over the weekend a Libyan army general arrived at the Syrian Naval command at Tartous to establish a liaison office for organizing military hardware supplies from Damascus to the Libyan army and arrange shipping schedules.
Our sources report that another Libyan official was in Damascus early last week to negotiate with Syrian President Bashar Assad the types of weaponry required, prices and transport arrangements. After he left, Assad ordered Syrian emergency military stores to be opened and civilian freighters chartered to carry the consignments they had decided on across the Mediterranean to Libya.
The Syrian and Libyan arsenals are fairly compatible: both are dominated by Russian military products, Mig and Sukhoi fighters and bombers, T-72 tanks, BM-2"

http://www.debka.com/article/20761/

Levi9909 said...

Freedland asks "Where's the Goldstone report into Sri Lanka, Congo, Darfur – or Britain?"

There are a few letters in today's Guardian responding to Freedland, including this one:
http://tinyurl.com/4yt9joc

While Arab regimes are oppressive to maintain the governments in power, Israel's oppression goes to the heart of its existence as a state to which Jews from around the world have more right to live than the native non-Jewish population. This involves the ethnic cleansing of the native Arab population in order to secure and maintain a Jewish majority.

Other states have carried out ethnic cleansing in the past. But Israel owes its ethno-religious majority to a recent, current and ongoing campaign of displacement of the indigenous population. That was true of the US, it was true of Australia. It has been true of many states. But Israel's crimes are more recent and, therefore, its continued existence is predicated on its human rights [abuses]
.

By guess who? I missed off the word "abuses" and they missed off lots of words I said about Freedland.
http://tinyurl.com/6fu77wy

brockleydave said...

don,t worry about Clegg he is too busy crying to music to worry about.
as for AV why vote for it ,its simply more democratic.
How many times have political parties put out leaflets telling us you shouldn,t vote for who you really want.
The story goes like this party x send leaflet with poll ,council result from whenever,last gen election result ,daily star poll telling us that only party x can beat party y .That voting for any other parties is a wasted vote and infact a vote for y.

Millions of voters are told they can,t actualy vote for who they want and some never do.

At least AV actualy allows the voter to vote for who they really want in the knowledge their second prefrence can be used to stop a party they don,t like from winning.AV actualy gives a better chance of voting really reflecting peoples views.

As for extremists they have no chance with AV as they would need to appeal to other voters and are unlikely to win over or near 50%.
This is why the BNP are against it.

bob said...

Brockleydave - This was exactly the reason I had eventually made up my mind to vote for AV (to vote a little closer to my conscience instead of having to think "tactically", but doing so without risking being responsible for a bad outcome). I think that is the strongest argument for AV. Nick Clegg is the strongest argument against AV. I'm not sure how to compute the equation here.

bob said...

Re the Guardian letter:
http://contentious-centrist.blogspot.com/2011/04/comments-trail-rethinking-goldstone.html

Levi9909 said...

I'm not sure which of Noga's points she thinks is most important, the time it took to moderate her comments (which was hours rather than days as can be seen from replies) or the word "abuses" that I accidentally omitted from my submission to The Guardian.

Here's the letter in full with the word "abuses" added, and without which the last line would flatly contradict the rest of the content:

There are major differences between the State of Israel and other serial human rights abusers that Jonathan Freedland names. Whilst Arab regimes are oppressive to maintain the governments in power, Israel's oppression goes to the heart of its existence as a state to which Jews from around the world have more right to live than the native non-Jewish population. Freedland must know that this involves the ethnic cleansing of the native Arab population in order to secure and maintain a Jewish majority. Other states have carried out ethnic cleansing in the past and others will attempt it in the future. But Israel owes its ethno-religious majority to a recent, current and on-going campaign of displacement of the indigenous population. That was true of the US, it was true of Australia. It has been true of many states. But Israel's crimes are more recent and, therefore, its continued existence is predicated on its human rights abuses.

Anyway, as any fule kno, Israel's existence is not predicated on human rights. Au contraire.

bob said...

Noga did not make a big deal of the moderation delay (cf "know you see it now you don't"). But, as Mark's quoted his whole letter again, I'll extract the original Noga comment:

"I think it was a Freudian slip of the tongue. It revealed what Elf really really feels in his innermost heart, and that is a great admiration and love for Israel. This error of omission of an important term, from someone whose wont is to drown the reader in words of the pettiest meaning, simply does not make sense otherwise.

Time for Elf to come out of the closet."

The resulting comment thread is quite revealing.

Noga said...

"...as any fule kno,... predicated ... Au contraire ..."

"OOOO that Shakespeherian Rag
It's so elegant
So intelligent"

___________

levi, I'm more or less convinced that you are not an unreconstructed Zionist but what about your friends? Are they as suadable as I am?

Levi9909 said...

She did make a big deal of the comment delay, she just made a bigger deal out of the delay at Tikkun than at JSF.

I'm entitled to take umbrage at having my comments disappeared when I'm responding to unpleasant smears. I would never allow a negative comment about a person to pass without the subject being allowed to reply.

But you're right Bob, the comments are revealing since Noga shows she is happy to be likened to Atzmon.

bob said...

Regretting keeping the lid off this can of worms. Not sure where Noga made a big deal of the delay at JsF (versus the delay at Tikkun). Re Atzmon, your summary of Noga's comment seems to me to require the quote in context, as Atzmon is a regular topic here at BfB:

Well, Atzmon is an Israeli. Just like I am. So we are similar in that respect. We are both from the same village, as the song goes. We also both speak very good English with an Israeli accent. Atzmon is a problem only to someone like you. He doesn't bother me. For all I know he might still be suffering from shellshock. He is a problem to someone like you because he serves a purpose. Having dedicated your years to demolishing the concept and meaning of antisemitism, you need to have manufactured him as your reference point for what a "real antisemite" is. Without a "real antisemite", where will you be? How can you feel morally superior to Zionists and other Jews?

bob said...

re "any fule", just noticed my own accidental Molesworthism: "cf know you see it now you don't". I meant, hopefully obviously, cf NOW you see it... referring to http://jewssansfrontieres2.blogspot.com/2011_04_01_archive.html#8702717363359251584

bob said...

Which reminded me of this, for Skid and Simon Tisdall: http://jimjay.blogspot.com/2010/10/top-twenty-mis-spelt-words.html?showComment=1286484094561#c5437747158995470975

Levi9909 said...

I'm at a distinct disadvantage here because Bob has started openly moderating in favour of his friends allowing Mod to continue "personal slanging" and not allowing me to even be civil but the exchange between Noga and me went like this:

Noga:I think it was a Freudian slip of the tongue. It revealed what Elf really really feels in his innermost heart, and that is a great admiration and love for Israel. This error of omission of an important term, from someone whose wont is to drown the reader in words of the pettiest meaning, simply does not make sense otherwise.

Time for Elf to come out of the closet.

Levi: Spoken like a true Atzmonite, well done Noga!

Noga: Translation: Noga, you remind me of someone much worse than myself ... Gilad Atzmon!

Levi: That's precisely what I meant Noga. Zionists and antisemites remind me of each other and both are much worse than myself.

*****
Then Noga said what Bob lifted out of context.

Bob this isn't the first time you have excised text to change context and to cast a shadow over my integrity. I don't know how many other people you do that to.

Brockleydave said...

Bob
I think trying to kick Clegg over AV is the wrong battle in my view.
In any event as a Liberal i can,t see that AV will help the Libdems as much as they think it will.
An unpopular leader and unpopular party are just that in the end.
If your oppossed to lib dems having Clegg stay on as leader till the next election is likely to be a bonus anyway.
If you are determined to kick Clegg there will be plenty of other opportunities to do just that anyway.
Personnaly i think AV will boost Ukip and the Greens which may mean libs will end up 4 or 5th in some consituencies .

As a lib dem i can tell you that collapsing the coalition because of AV vote failure will just bring forward the Libs annhilation and is unlikely.
I think throwing away the chance of AV is an indulgence too far for a true democrat and should be resisted.

bob said...

Levi, I don't have time, energy or inclination to get into an argument about this. I started it because you raised the issue in a post on our parallel blog that "strange" things were happening here and that your posts were disappearing, which I don't think was the case, or if was any "strangeness" is down to Blogger.com's technology and a few hours when I wasn't on-line but rather in the sun with my family.

On me starting to "openly moderate": I have deleted ONE comment, and promised to delete others that continue a highly personalised slanging match, and have announced that I will delete any more from either side that continue the personalised spat. One of the participants in that slanging match is indeed my (virtual) friend (we have never met), but this is my house.

I regret allowing this can of worms to stay open here: I should have known I'd start off a new row, which is the last thing I want to do. Apologies to anyone who still bothers to read my comment threads in hope of interesting conversations...

bob said...

Thanks Dave - I hadn't had you down as a Lib Dem! I did some very crude calculations based on 2010 voting and looking at the three Lewisham wards. Making a number of assumptions that may or may not hold up (that most Tories would transfer votes to Lib Dems, that Greens would transfer votes to Labour and UKIP would transfer votes to Tory) then the Lib Dems would have taken Lewisham East and West from Labour, despite only getting a quarter of FPTP votes. Of course, that quarter is likely to have dropped enormously since the Coalition. I'll try and post this later.

I see a benefit to Greens and UKIP in that AV will reveal the true nature of their support, but will not benefit them (or at least not for a while) with actual MPs.

bob said...

p.S. dave: a bit more here http://jimjay.blogspot.com/2011/04/av-safe-o-meter.html?showComment=1302528929243#c8516592631482408001 except I got it wrong in the first comment so you need to scroll down!

Noga said...

To me it is clear that levi is simply bored to death. And who wouldn't be, in that echo chamber he calls his blog?

In Israel there are Gideon Levi, Amira Haas, Akiva Eldar, bless them. They serve an important function in Israel's democracy. They force people to deal with the most provocative positions in the only way that fits a democratic ethos. So Israelis do not break into a sweat over such as Atzmon. In fact, if you were to poll Israelis, chances are very few, if any, will have a clue who he is. The only reason I know about him is that I decided a few years ago to check out the British blogosphere and found this great kerfuffle around an Israeli musician who did not quite make it in the Israeli artistic circles.

BTW, Atzmon has not said anything that Theodore Herzl had not said or written before he realized that it was not the Jews who were to blame for antisemitism. In that context, Atzmon stands to evolve into a great Zionist yet.

________

Bob: I hope you won't delete this comment despite the use of a bad word in disguise.

Levi9909 said...

What's to evolve? He's been there for years.

Brockleydave said...

Bob
thanks for the link .
I don,t know to be happy or sad that the libs may have won two seats in lewisham under AV.
It,s not going to happen now and whilst it was easy being a left leaning lib dem in the age of Brown/Blair and the war in Iraq it isn,t now.

One assumption you may have wrong is assuming that the green vote will go to labour .People vote Green for a whole number of reasons and often some don,t realise that the Greens are a radical party of the left .
On radio 5,s debate and mock election result in one constituency the greens came second to labour under AV.
I agree that the greens and ukip won,t win many seats under AV but they will definitley raise their profile in constituencies if they can come third behind labour and tories.

The big danger for Cameron is if he tries to appeal to dissafected lib dems to keep the coalition going he risks losing lots of voters to ukip .These right wing voters will think will think they can have their cake and eat it .
Indulge themselves by putting UKIP first and tory second .This isn,t an exact science and if Cameron is unpopular as he may get you could find a few constituencies where UKIP end up beating the Libs and the Tories in first prefrence votes .

That would really upset the right of the Tory party regards Cameron.
The election will be won and lost in how many ex libs end up voting Labour and how many of those dwindling band of Lib voters put Labour or Tory as a second choice under AV.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ BrockleyDave

How many times have political parties put out leaflets telling us you shouldn,t vote for who you really want.

*Coughs* Can you at least see why I'm raising an eyebrow at that argument from a Lib Dem member. Frankly, you're by far the worse offender for using "... can't win here" tactics, often entirely dishonestly.
At least AV actualy allows the voter to vote for who they really want in the knowledge their second prefrence can be used to stop a party they don,t like from winning.AV actualy gives a better chance of voting really reflecting peoples views.

AV takes the worst parts of FTTP and PR and mixes them up. It's not in any way a genuine step forward. If there was any real evidence it would lead to PR in the future, I'd waver on this more, but so far I haven't seen any.

In any event as a Liberal i can,t see that AV will help the Libdems as much as they think it will.
An unpopular leader and unpopular party are just that in the end.


That's true, but it's a question of whether it will proportionately help them. If they're ultra unpopular, as at the moment, they'll be unlikely to get as many votes as they did in the last election. But, with AV, I do think it's a system that does work in the LibDem's favour overall. Generally, we can assume that Labour and Conservative supporters aren't likely to transfer many votes to each other; the two parties are too tribal for that to be at all likely, despite the many similarities in their economic policy. Following from that, it seems to me self-evident that the LibDems are going to be doing better from second preference votes.

If you are determined to kick Clegg there will be plenty of other opportunities to do just that anyway.

Possibly. But why should we not use one as prominent as this?

As a lib dem i can tell you that collapsing the coalition because of AV vote failure will just bring forward the Libs annhilation and is unlikely.

Bluntly, I really have no problem with the Lib Dems being utterly annihilated. You joined forces with the enemy. And, even if the coalition doesn't collapse, a defeat here is going to lead to a lot of discomfort in your ranks. Weakening the junior coalition partner is a viable tactic for further attacks on the coalition as a whole.

I think throwing away the chance of AV is an indulgence too far for a true democrat and should be resisted.

I don't consider AV democratic or worth fighting for on its own merits anyway. If it was actually PR we were talking about, I wouldn't be arguing for a no vote, because that is enough of a significant step forward for your argument to hold water. But the Lib Dems made a conscious decision that being in government was more important than having a democratic electoral system and so are no longer in a position to play the "democracy card".

That would really upset the right of the Tory party regards Cameron.

Cameron doesn't need the Tory right in the same way Clegg needs the Lib Dem grassroots. In fact, he is likely to welcome their marginalisation; the Conservative 'awkward squad'are currently impossible to please for a Tory leader. In other words, the reason I'm concentrating on the Lib Dems currently is because they're where the Tory weak link is, not with the Tory hard right.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Bob-

Completely off-topic, have you come across The Indelicates yet?

If not, you might want to check them out for Bob's Beats. I think musically and lyrically they may be right up your street. And on a more cultural level, they're currently involved in an interesting experiment round finding different ways for musicians to put out their work. Start with American Demo- http://corporaterecords.co.uk/artists/The+Indelicates/American+Demo/

Brocklydave said...

Waterloo Sunset
Before you finally vote on AV you should read the list of people donating and operating the no to AV campaign .
read the article in todays independant should make someone on the left think twice about being against AV.
Most of your arguments against AV seem to be that it will help the libs.
Yet we have some labour politicians who are able to look beyond Clegg to its merits .
The next election will be decided on if the public trust Ed milliband to be prime minister or not and even you must recognise the libs will not be getting anywhere near the support they did at the last election.
As i stated before, voting against AV is unlikely to bring down the coalition any earlier as the libs would face annhilation earlier.
I was honest enough to own up to be a lib and this seems to have disqualified me in your mind to having a valid opinion on AV.
Yet AV can in my view exagerrate movements in popular opinion and could destroy the libs.
The Libs have not even started to reach their low point yet,just wait to see who will get the blame for the economy and Nhs debacle.
Voters expected the Tories to damage the public sector and care less about the poor,but they did not expect that from the libs.
Av or not will not save the libs .
You can vote for AV in the knowledge the libs are in terrible trouble whatever the result.

skidmarx said...

Bob - "separate" - I think I heard it on the radio once described as the most misspelled word in English. I find it easy once you're sure that "seperate" is incorrect.
"Definitely" I've never had a problem with, except maybe when typing quickly when I might miss out some Is as with "legitmately".
"Embarrass" I just had to learn that it was two doubled consonants, can be a face-losing one to mess up.
In fact "unnecessary" is the only one I think I have to think about, perhaps a mnemonic was helpful.

bob said...

Just checking out the Indelicates on the interweb. Remind me a little of some of the bands lots of my friends used to listen to in the early 1990s (which is more a compliment than an insult).

Do you think they mean "America" or is it high irony?

Waterloo Sunset said...

Remind me a little of some of the bands lots of my friends used to listen to in the early 1990s (which is more a compliment than an insult).

Heh, that actually would make perfect sense. In some ways, we all end up listening to music that sounds like the stuff we liked in our teenage years and I was 16 in 1990. Because of the anarchist connection, people generally assume I'm an old punk. While I do listen to that stuff, my heart is really that of an aging grebo/crusty- Carter USM, Pop Will Eat Itself, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, New Model Army, Levellers etc.

Do you think they mean "America" or is it high irony?

I find The Indelicates very hard to read at times, which is one of the reasons I like them. While they are very cynical, I think that song probably has more to it than just being sarcastic. It actually strikes me as too ambivalent to be purely a pisstake. I'm thinking of lines like:

Though it cuts me to my soul that
it must be America
it must be America
or nothing at all


It's one of the reasons I thought you might appreciate them; lyrically, some of their songs seem to coincide thematically with some of the interests of the Bob Project. (Heh, that sounds like a bandname!) Other songs that fit with that would be "Be Afraid of your Parents", "Anthem for Doomed Youth" and (in a different way) "We Hate the Kids". They're a lot more challenging to figure out than a lot of overtly political bands.

Waterloo Sunset said...

A few interviews with them that go a bit further than the standard "how did you meet" stuff in terms of explaining what they're about:

http://vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com/2008/01/01/the-first-significant-interview-of-2008-the-indelicates/

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/the-kids-arent-alright-an-interview-with-the-indelicates/

bob said...

Thanks WS. I will read those interviews, and also dig further. (And now I know how old you are. I had you down as a couple of years older than me, for some reason, but actually it's more like the other way around.)