Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Mid-week round-up

Too busy to finish the loose threads in the comments, too busy for original blogging. Some links in the meantime:

Immigration, the far right and the white working class
Paul in Lancs: Labour beyond Glasman: racism, truth & reconciliation. I've not yet read this long piece, but a quick skim tells me it is most definitely worth printing out and reading properly. Another Blue Labour review from Sane Lynch, which I've also yet to read but looks interesting. Pub Philosopher: As the BNP declines, political and communal violence will increase. Some overlapping issues addressed here from a very different perspective. Related, Steve Hilditch on the word "chav", including a derogatory instance from a Lib Dem peer and human rights commissioner, who in my view ought to resign now. From across the Atlantic, I have also not yet read Matthew Lyons' long review of Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind's Tea Party Nationalism.

The antisemitism of good intentions
The UCU congress at the weekend, at which my trade union voted to disassociate itself from the EUMC working definition of antisemitism at any possible opportunity and not to use it in any education or dispute context was, in my view. David Hirsh live-blogged. A few lies and distortions in the debate. Sue Blackwell claimed the EUMC definition was used to stifle free speech when Denis Macshane tried to get the Universities of Birmingham and Cambridge not to host Hamas' Azzam Tamimi. As far as I can see, however, Macshane was unsuccessful; he did not quote the EUMC working definition; he did not go through the union but through the university management and the government; and Tamimi's main offence is not his intensified criticisms of Israel but the fact that he is a spokesperson for a terrorist organisation that engages in killing Jews. Also worth noting that the previous week, Cambridge had cancelled Benny Morris from speaking after the university’s Islamic and Pakistan societies who claimed he was an “Islamophobic hate speaker”, so not good evidence for the EUMC working definition stifling free debate on Israel/Palestine.

Sean Wallis, who once darkly accused the anti-boycott movement to be fuelled by secret Lehman Brothers accounts, made a bizarre "asajew" intervention against the EUMC claiming he had been libelled, although the EUMC working definition appears to have had no negative impact on his ability to speak freely in the union. Blackwell made use of Richard Kuper's attacks on the EUMC, including his allegation that it is the product of American Zionists, invoking Kenneth Stern as evidence. As I wrote once in a comment thread here:
Levi denies that "expert on antisemitism" is a good way to describe Stern and prefers "American Zionist". For those of you with longer memories, Stern was the defence lawyer for the AIM activists, including Leonard Peltier, who were indicted for the events at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation and regarded as heroes by most on the left who don't see everything through the framework of only-Israel-is-evil. He has written vast amounts on this case, on the Militia movement and religious right in America, on David Duke, on Nazi skinheads, and on hate crime in general. He has written nothing that I am aware of that is about Israel. 
Credit to Ronnie Fraser and the AWL's Pete Radcliffe for being the voices of reason at the congress. Also read: Rob Marchant at LabourListDan Sheldon of the UJSDavid Schraub, Martin Bright, Trevor Phillips, Denis NobleRebecca L and the comment thread at Shiraz Socialist.

In other news, Ignoblus on the asajews in Move Over AIPAC, and Dave Rich on Mehdi Hasan's version of the Lobby thesis.

(Whenever I hear people start speeches with the words "Speaking as a Jew...", I remember my time as a delegate to the NUS conference ca.1990, when I heard two different men (one in Socialist Organiser, now AWL) say "Speaking as a lesbian and gay man"...)

Ratko Mladic (and Noam Chomsky)
Sarah Correia in Prijedor on the arrest. James asks if it is time for the professor to apologise. Further comment from Mod.

Libya and liberal interventionism
Two from the Fat Man: What's it all about? and Cassandras.

AtzmonWatch
I managed to miss the fact that Lauren Booth is now advocating for Gilad Atzmon.

South London sound systems
Transpontine on the Saxon archive.

Utrophia on the move
...and Jewish prayerbooks in Deptford.

Other round-ups
From Roland and Stuart.

98 comments:

skidmarx said...

I see that Benny Morris has made some controversial remarks. By some happenstance the Jewish Chronicle left out this side of the story.

I notice that on the thread of your TCF post the point of it all seemed to be to recognise that some of the attraction of the EDL is an understandable phobia of Islamofascism. I think that's actually a way of looking at things thatgives too much ground to the right and is not going to impress Muslims much.

Sarah AB said...

I agree that he has made some very offensive remarks - but I suspect universities have hosted speakers who have said worse.

skidmarx said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
skidmarx said...

Sarah - nice to see you're here. I was going to take a break and read some of the other links, but I did want to ask about the characterisation of UCU as a "racist" union [Notably in the HP banner, there's also a small debate on Shiraz Socialist on the subject]. One question is how you think UCU members who may not even have heard about the EUMC WD vote (a point I've seen you raise in other contexts) would respond if they happened across HP and saw themselves so maligned? And obviously no anti-racist can remain in a racist union...
[You can treat these questions as being asked with as much bad faith as you like]
I was also reminded by the liveblog of a woman in a Norman Finkelstein documentary complaining that he was upsetting her by attacking Israel. Maybe the reason the vote was one-sided was that rather than being ignorant as much of the pro-definition comment alleged, most of those present realised that if supporters of Israel make accusations of anti-semitism about everything their opponents say[We can see some evidence on the Mark Dankof thread on HP]they probably should be allowed to impose a definition of racism that concerns itself with political criticism at all.

Flesh said...

Credit also due to Camila Bassi of the AWL, who spoke at UCU Congress against Motion 36 to circulate the boycott call.

Here's something of hers which looks worth reading.

http://www.acme-journal.org/vol9/Bassi10.pdf

Good round-up Bob. UCU's good intentions aside (and even the worst of us have those) do you think it might be time to leave UCU, since it has opted not to extend protection to objects of certain forms of discrimination that look like anti-Israel campaigning?

I'd imagine many would say that it isn't time - I'd like to hear the best people's best arguments before I act.

Sarah AB said...

skidmarx - it is difficult to know how to define what a union is - I don't think most members know about all this, and I don't think most members are racist. I am prepared to accept that even some people who favoured this motion may well have thought they were acting from antiracist motives. But I don't think that's enough. A union must be able to support colleagues concerned about racism. Repudiating this particular definition sends out strong signals about what kinds of concerns would be considered legitimate grounds for complaint.

Obviously people commenting on blogs over react in all directions. But we are not talking about something not being quite right on the internet, but about what messages a union is sending out to its members.

Sarah AB said...

Flesh - am I right in thinking that members aren't automatically sent information about the motions to be discussed? If so, would this be a good procedural thing to pursue? It should be possible for us all to be sent information via email.

Roland Dodds said...

Many thanks for the link, and again, a fine list of things to read. If only the skidmarx types could find another realm to dwell in...

kellie said...

Hi Bob. Link to Sarah Correia's post missing above. Looking forward to following some of the other links when I'm more awake.

bob said...

Bob comments 2 June

Thanks for comments. Flesh, is it time to resign? I think not, for two reasons. First, I think we need a union now more than ever. The HE and FE sectors are under attack from funding cuts, including the massive ESOL cuts which the UCU has been campaigning on. These, the fee issue, the pace of “reform” in HE, the pressure of the REF and so on will be leading to job losses and to management and department heads bullying people into leaving. And there are also the attacks on pensions. All this, of course, makes it more reprehensible that the NEC devote their energies to boycotting the EUMC and promoting an “open debate” on Middle Eastern history. And it means the union will be less able to defend some members who are bullied in some ways. But it also means that we can’t afford to stand outside the union now.

Second, I don't think this is a pivotal moment. As Sarah says, I don’t think most union members had a clue about the motion or about the issues. It is ridiculous to call the UCU a racist union. The poor democratic process that means members are never told about congress debates (and indeed rarely know who their congress delegates are if they miss the meeting where the election is held) is not unique to UCU and is independent of the EUMC and Israel issues. My view is that NECs come and go, and policies come and go, and this is not a defining moment. I am not, however, sure what a defining moment would look like!

Re Benny Morris. As Sarah says, what he said is nothing compared to what regularly gets said in meetings at universities. My point, though, is that the anti-EUMC faction seem to have a hard time finding examples of when the EUMC has closed down debate, and the one example Blackwell came up with is not only not an example but is undermined by the fact that the only cancellation was of Benny Morris because of alleged Islamophobia and not a Hamas speaker because of alleged antisemitism.

Re the EDL. I notice that on the thread of your TCF post the point of it all seemed to be to recognise that some of the attraction of the EDL is an understandable phobia of Islamofascism. I think that's actually a way of looking at things thatgives too much ground to the right and is not going to impress Muslims much I don’t think this was even vaguely “the point of it all”. The EDL’s attraction is mainly anti-Muslim racism and xenophobia, but there are also totally legitimate concerns about political Islam. Every time I go through Tavistock Square and remember the mangled bus in July 2005, it’s not a figment of some Islamophobic fantasy. Driving a wedge between legitimate fear of that sort of thing and Islamophobia will be a big blow against the EDL. Driving a wedge between ordinary Muslims and jihadi Islam will be another, and a good in itself. And as most Muslims, in my view, are not jihadi murderers of clerical fascists, I don’t see why they’d be un-impressed by taking such a stand.

bob said...

Will do Sarah C link later too

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Skid

I notice that on the thread of your TCF post the point of it all seemed to be to recognise that some of the attraction of the EDL is an understandable phobia of Islamofascism. I think that's actually a way of looking at things thatgives too much ground to the right and is not going to impress Muslims much.

Um, what? I'm genuinely confused about how you can get that from the discussion that took place, as I really don't see it. I don't think anybody (apart from BrianfromLondon, who is quite obviously from the 'other side' to most people on that thread) would describe the EDL's activities as arising from a "reasonable phobia". The whole point about the EDL is that they're not just an organisation against far right Islamists, they're against Muslims, as Muslims.

I'd argue that they're exploiting a vacuum that currently exists among the left on the issue, but that's an entirely different argument.

And yeah, as Bob points out, most Muslims don't support the Islamists in any way. That includes small c conservative traditionalist Muslims as much as it does Muslim liberals.

By implying that's an issue, I actually think you're the one giving ground to EDL arguments- they claim that all Muslims are secretly Islamists.

Levi9909 said...

I don't see anything under the heading "The antisemitism of good intentions" that amounts to antisemitism except the "asajew" reference to that Wallis chap, which I am guessing wasn't intentional antisemitism by Bob.

I don't think a throwaway reference to Denis MacShane is sufficient to accuse Sue Blackwell of lies and distortions; assuming it is she you are accusing. MacShane is a supporter of the working definition and he has tried to get Tamimi banned from campus. Tamimi has denounced the antisemitic elements of the Hamas charter.

Benny Morris has openly lamented the failure of zionist forces to expel all of the Arabs from Palestine in the 1940s. Morris's exclusion from campus is straight forward anti-racism. That doesn't provide an example of anything regarding the EUMC working definition.

How successful or not zionists have been in using the EUMC working definition to shut down debate is irrelevant to what the WD was produced for and how it could, subject to overall context, be used.

An ad hominem defence of one of the main drafters of the working definition, Kenneth Stern, says nothing of where he stands on the question of Israel and how it should be protected from criticism. There are many people who are good on one cause and bad on another. Look how many zionists opposed apartheid in South Africa and segregation in America.

What is informative is the way Israel advocates have seized on the UCU motion as a mobilising cause. If the working definition isn't being used then why defend it? If it is being used, where are the examples? What has been achieved by its use? And why are so many Israel advocates describing it as THE definition when the EUMC has described it as a "work in progress’ … with a view to redrafting"?

BTW, Richard Kuper has an article on the UCU and EUMC on Open Democracy:
http://tinyurl.com/3m6age7

Ben White has a piece here:
http://tinyurl.com/3vkxhof

skidmarx said...

WS - no I don't think so, which is why I didn't bother to address the question when it came up on the last post, and I think Bob's "legitimate fears" are far closer to what you're attacking here than anything I'd think.[And it isn't just the outright jihadis you seem to be classifying as beyond the pale. George Galloway does that.]
Actually I was thinking of the 2005 bombings in a completely different context: that supporters of the WD were using the Mac Pherson thing to redefine their unwillingness to face political criticism as racial assault, and this was an insult to such as Stephen Lawrence or Dwayne Brooks who faced the real thing.
About the one thing that Sarah AB I've agreed with on this is:
"Repudiating this particular definition sends out strong signals about what kinds of concerns would be considered legitimate grounds for complaint,"
only I'd see that in an entirely positive way.
And I don't really think you've addressed the suggestion that
1. HP has grossly insulted everyone in the UCU (and you and your friends may think that accusations of racism are something to be casually tossed about, but it's not a universal view)
2." I am prepared to accept that even some people who favoured this motion may well have thought they were acting from antiracist motives." That's so generous of you. Maybe you should provide some evidence that any of them acted from racist motives.
3.Whether it's an accusation that the union is racist top to bottom, or just that those at the top revel in an anti-semitic atmosphere this can only serve to educate UCU and other union members about what a small political minority thinks about them and I think that can only be a good thing.

Bob, I would address your attempt to pick holes in the anti-WD case, but after the response to my pointing out an inconsistency in the pro-WD case provoked a torrent of personal abuse from David Hirsh, I don't really feel inclined to such unreciprocated courtesy. On Benny Morris: maybe there are other speakers that are unacceptable, though such as Abdel Bari Atwan never said anything comparable (unless we're living in a WD world which thank God we're not), and my point was simply that the JC only presented one side of the story, and that is rubbish journalism.

Sarah AB said...

I'm not sure it matters what their motives are - it's the effects I'm worried about. I can't read their minds and I haven't scanned every word they've said (though some people have used what seems to me a/s discourse, eg that Lehman brothers remark) but I think the main problem isn't active a/s, but a refusal to accept that the concerns raised by others are being raised a good faith, a wilful blindness to problems such as the Masuku invite, a refusal even to investigate the reasons for people's resignations.

Levi9909 said...

Sarah, you have thrown allegations of antisemitism around yourself with no explanation as to what is antisemitic about what or who it is you are accusing. You must recognise that if bad faith allegations are made constantly then eventually good faith will not be assumed. The boy who cried "wolf!" springs to mind.

But with regard to resignations, what's to investigate? You haven't resigned, Bob hasn't, David Hirsh hasn't and Ronnie Fraser hasn't. Have any of you investigated why others have? If so, what did you come up with? The fact that you haven't resigned suggests that you don't, as yet, see a reason to. But how seriously are you taking the resignations given that you are still a member?

Just as a general point to no one in particular, I think the UCU has been a great help in shining a light on Israel advocacy and its methods. It beggars belief that so many Jewish organisations are now promoting as THE definition of antisemitism a working definition that essentialises Jews as Israel supporters and as a nation, race or people apart by way of its assertion of a Jewish "right to self-determination".

Michael Ezra said...

I am pleased to see that the LSE will be hosting Benny Morris in a couple of weeks.

Thankfully the university is ignoring the evil members of the UCU who would like to see such events banned.

Flesh said...

Bob, your take on this rests on a more impersonal view of UCU membership than I currently have.

"Second, I don't think this is a pivotal moment."

There is a need to discuss and identify pivotal points, but I have to confess, I am badly chafing against this conceptualisation of trade unionism as exclusively a matter of strategy. Trade union anti-racism has always been primarily ethically, rather than strategically motivated. It's pretty confusing.

"First, I think we need a union now more than ever."

I wish there were a "we". Speaking ethically and personally, UCU branch and UCU in general make me feel like a piece of meat, rather than part of a stalwart movement. There are branches shaped by people who vote against motions to do something about antisemitism (i.e. the branch does or should know what is going on, but there is no will to take responsibility), remaining would force a member to choose between two modes - either to lose themself mutely within a larger corpus of UCU membership, subordinating anti-discrimination principles, or to take a stand on antisemitism, in which case only their other credentials and attributes will mitigate the vicious anti-Zionist attacks on their integrity. Basically, it's become clear to me that you have to be a real over-achiever to effectively fight antisemitism in UCU, and enjoy fighting.

I'm not an academic, don't have academic freedom - if I challenge colleagues politically, there is a chance it deters them from working with me in my central services role.

If we stay in the union we need to be active against antisemitism - we need to move motions and get them to conference. But if you are in a branch which embraces activism against 'Zionists', you end up simply succumbing to being diverted by their diversion. You end up helping them, and it won't fight the cuts. And you hurt yourself in many ways.

There has been interesting discussion on this blog about objective pro-fascism - my experience of branch motions has been one of objective pro-antisemitism. This is why I don't find it "ridiculous" to call UCU racist, though to only call it so without explanation means that the charge is even easier to shrug off than it already is. My feeling is that members *do* know what is going on but that they are getting the message that there is a hierarchy of things to worry about, and that antisemitism should be relegated.

Antisemitism needs to have consequences, personally I'm not good at arguing my corner in hostile environments, and so I'm out of ideas other than to leave. It's reached the stage now where the only way I can get things back in proportion is to relinquish responsibility at the site of the antisemitism - i.e. leave.

I don't want a pity party. The main question I ask myself is, what would I expect of, or recommend to, somebody else in my position? Well, it's a no brainer - I'd be encouraging them to remove themselves from the site of the pain and wasted energy. So while I'd be grateful for a way out of this corner, advice to be a better functionary won't be persuasive. UCU has already made it clear that individual members' needs can be sacrificed to activists' whims. That has got to have consequences, and given my own personal circumstances I can't think of anything else to do.

Michael Ezra said...

Perhaps Mark Elf (Levi9909) should read the Macpherson Report before commenting further on how antisemitism is or is not defined.

Levi9909 said...

Michael - instead of posting an advert for the MacPherson Report, perhaps you could tell us the part of it (the report, not the advert) that you believe is relevant to antisemitism a la working definition, assuming you have read it, that is.

My understanding of the report is that it is about marginalised communities and racism as an aggravating factor in other offences. Remember, the report arose over how police handled the racist murder of a black guy. It didn't arise in connection with condemning a state based on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and segregationist laws like, say, The State of Israel.

Gabriel Ash wrote a good piece on this on JSF:
http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2009/07/future-of-rotten-definition-of.html

I don't think the misrepresentation of the MacPherson report is very good for community relations between Jews and people of colour. But then maybe that's not your concern.

Flesh said...

Hi Sarah, the motions are available in advance on the UCU web site.

It would be helpful to have a reminder sent round to read them carefully, but I know of a branch which explicitly rejected the idea that members should mandate delegates in advance to vote in a certain way on boycotting Israel, citing that they need to approach the issues open mindedly and use their own judgement. And I have heard that at least one delegate refused to tell his branch how he voted on the boycott.

You're right to raise democratic processes. The antisemitism is a symptom of a problem with union representation.

davebrockly said...

skidmarx
from 2009
"A prestigious panel of speakers will visit Halifax this month to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. They include Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence – murdered for being a black man in London in 1993"
As we know Doreen Lawrence has campaigned against racism and attended Holocaust memorial day events.
Its quite possible she is against anti-semetism as much as anyone .
i wonder what she thinks of the UCU stance.
As for Dwayne Brooks you can contact him for his views quite easily as i,m sure you know he is a lib dem councillor in downham an area with a strong previous vote for the far right.

if you want to boycott israel for its governments actions .I hope you won,t forget to consider boycotting Gaza for its Hamas government.

article 8 Hamas charter 1988
"The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree "

Levi9909 said...

Israel is a colonial settler state based on ethnic cleansing and segregation. About 2/3s of the Gaza population comes from Israel and is barred from there and Gaza is subject to the most comprehensive boycott of any territory on earth. Hamas is not engaged in ethnic cleansing or colonial settlement. It says and does bad things, stupid and vicious things but it is not a case for a boycott and the blockade of Gaza is a wantonly murderous disgrace only supported by racists who support Israel.

I too wonder about Stephen Lawrence's mum, not that her view of antisemitism or the working definition is relevant to anything. I often wince wondering what she would make of the sheer abuse of MacPherson going on in defence of the bogus working defenition of antisemitism.

Michael Ezra said...

I did not link to "an advert for the MacPherson Report," but to the front page of the website for the official online publication of the report. Mark Elf did not realise this because he is sloppy. He makes numerous factual errors and that is one of the many reasons why his own website that he links to is not worthwhile reading.

In any event, had he bothered tio read the MacPherson Report which he can do via the link that I provided, he would have seen in chapter 6 section 4 the following:

"Racism in general terms consists of conduct or words or practices which disadvantage or advantage people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. In its more subtle form it is as damaging as in its overt form."

He would have seen Section 6.17:

"Unwitting racism can arise because of lack of understanding, ignorance or mistaken beliefs. It can arise from well intentioned but patronising words or actions. It can arise from unfamiliarity with the behaviour or cultural traditions of people or families from minority ethnic communities."

He would have seen in Section 6.34 institutional racism referred to as a "corrosive disease" and defined as:

"The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people."

Consequently, Elf is wrong when he refers to the discussion in the Macpherson report as to be about "people of colour" because the report specifically discusses "colour, culture, or ethnic origin."

As was widely reported, recommendations of the report included that racism be defined as to encompass:

" any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person."

i.e this definition allows the victims of racism to determine what racism is. It does not allow the racists to determine what racism is! The EUMC working definition of antisemitism has been supported by the major Jewish communal bodies in the UK. These bodies may not represent every Jew in the UK as there is estimated to be between 250,000 and 300,000 Jews here but they represent a damn sight more than organisations such as Jews Against Zionism and Jews for the Boycott of Israeli Goods, organisations that would do little more than fill up an old red telephone box with the amount of supporters that they have.

Michael Ezra said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Levi9909 said...

Michael - I ban trolls who cannot back up what they say with evidence. I also try to keep the ad hominem attacks to a minimum. And I wouldn't normally allow an allusion to someone's job unless it was relevant to the discussion.

Very quickly, colonialism is not defined by where settlers are from, but where they go, under whose auspices and what they do when they get there. In the case of the zionist movement, the intention was ethnic cleansing. There is no hard and fast rule as to whether the extraction of resources or the exploitation of natives are essential factors in colonialism, just the fact that the new arrivals have more rights than those already there and have the backing, as zionists and now Israel now have, of outside force.

Following your logic, English settlers in South Africa would be colonialists and Irish settlers would not be.

DaveBrockly said...

LEVI
Israel is a state created because some of the jews living in that area wanted it and because some Palestinians were unable to accept the growing number of jewish immigrants coming to the area.
The British prior to ww2 planned to divide palestine into jewish and non jewish areas because of the violence between arab and jew.
.
You admit that hamas the governing party in gaza says and does bad things .But object as racist any attempt by its neighbour to stop weapons reaching Hamas who just happen to be racist,homophobic,fascist etc etc.
Hamas stated intention is to remove jews from Palestine zionist or not .

Your argument seems to be that Hamas although bad are unable at present to remove the jewish population from Palestine .But they should be allowed to plan and store weapons to remove jews and to do this without prevention; because to try and prevent hamas doing so would be racist.
Just so their can be no mistake i oppose the blockade of gaza,with the exception of military weapons and material that can be proved would be used to create them.

skidmarx said...

Bob - I am torn between being outraged about Michael Ezra's last post and pointing out that it is an outrage if it isn't deleted forthwith, and thinking that aside from the damage to its target, it does show how easily a rich man like Micheal Ezra can indulge his passion of witch-hunting the left.Not an acceptable person for anyone on the left to associate with.

Mikey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
davebrockly said...

the soviet union voted for partition of palestine at the un as a anti-colonialist move supported by the short lived palestinian NLL.
though i don,t want anyone to think that because the soviet union was in favour of the partition that somehow means the left all were.

Waterloo Sunset said...

As was widely reported, recommendations of the report included that racism be defined as to encompass:

" any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person."


Mikey, just out of interest, do you accept that this means that Harry's Place is a racist blog, because of the abuse that Lee Jasper suffered over there?

He certainly perceived it to be racist and he was definitely the victim in that case.

If so, can you explain why you post on a racist blog? Is it so you can find new drinking buddies?

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Skid

And it isn't just the outright jihadis you seem to be classifying as beyond the pale

Sure. We should judge movements on their political and social character, not whether they're prone to violence or not. (The latter is basically a liberal position, not a class based one).

To give an obvious example, surely we'd agree the BNP are beyond the pale, despite the fact they are too all intents and purposes a non-violent party at this point?

Sarah AB said...

Levi - I resigned and rejoined - given that there is no obvious alternative to the UCU I felt it might be better to rejoin and be more active/aware - take part in branch activities and, where appropriate, draw colleagues attention to the issue. I don't believe I throw accusations around - I specifically said that the problem is as much to do with indifference arising from an over zealous pursuit of other goals.

Michael Ezra said...

Waterloo Sunset,

I did not follow the whole business about Lee Jasper, but if the alleged racism was in the comments box then I see no reason to resign from Harry's Place. The comments box at that blog seems to be a law unto itself. I rarely read comments on any post apart from my own posts.

I do seem to recall an allegation re Terry Fitz(gerald), but he was never a main poster on the site.

Levi9909 said...

Restricting the definition of colonialism to exploitation of land or of people does not exonerate Israel of wrongdoing. There are many forms of colonialism. Israel's is settler colonialism. The support Israel gets from the west is for strategic reasons and there are obvious financial benefits from a constant state of conflict, just as whole careers can be made from a constant state of denial.

The proposal of the UK to partition Palestine before WWII involved the removal of 225k - 300k Arabs from Galilee and the establishment of a Jewish state there. The rest of Palestine was to be ruled by Jordan. It was rejected by both zionists and Palestinians. The main internal zionist argument of that time was for a Jewish state covering the whole of Palestine and Ben Gurion made it clear to the movement that he was only accepting partition as a tactic pending the conquest of the whole of Palestine.

Israel does not simply prevent weapons getting to Hamas. It counts the calories of the food going into the strip.

Sarah AB - I still say what's to investigate? but you have now seen at least three of the working definition's supporters turning the history of Palestine on its head, arguing the toss over how to define colonialism, though the CST suggests that only racists quibble over THE definition of racism. You may have even spotted a little attempt at intimidation. I am surprised that Bob has allowed it even from someone he describes as a comrade. That should say enough about the working definition itself.

I'm a terrible skimmer sometimes but did anyone post the relevant bit of MacPherson that means that zionists get to define antisemitism?

It's curious that people who broadly agree with Bob want me and skidmarx banned and yet we only ever engage in honest debate and keep our arguments on topic or in line with the thread. Bob's "comrades" can play by completely different rules.

Michael Ezra said...

Elf's case was destroyed many year ago (in 1966) by the Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) who effectively argued against the idea of Israel being a colonial settler state:

"Not one of the traits that characterize colonialism – the military lending a strong hand to missionaries in order to open up a path for merchants and to make it possible to exploit the labor of the colonized – can be found in the Jewish immigration movement in Palestine. In place of a mother country – Jews chased from one country to another country in Europe; in place of soldiers – proletarians and intellectuals armed with pickaxes; merchants (Jews = merchants?) – there were none; as for missionaries, it would be well to recall that Zionism was a lay movement inspired by socialism (for example, Borochov)."

Incidentally, the best argument in favour of Israel being a colonial settler state was made by Maxime Rodinson in his seminal essay, Israel: A Colonial-Settler State? (Pathfinder Press, 1973). However, even Rodinson admits on pp.30-31of the book that:

"the Arab Palestinian fellahin [peasants] are not exploited. And by the very fact that the Jews have settled there, their standard of living, their buying power, and their cultural, technical and health standards have been raised to a considerably higher level, so that they are now much better off in Israel in every respect than they would have been in the independent Arab countries. The image they present seems to have little in common with that of miserable victims of colonialism."

Moreover, in all his comments, Elf, when talking about partition, simply ignores the fact that the Zionists accepted it and the Arabs not only rejected it but started a war "to drive the Jews into the sea."

As for restricting food into Gaza, here is a picture from Gaza.

One wonders if Elf can write a simple sentence without either distorting the truth, presenting a very unfairly biased account, or lying.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Michael

You're missing the point. Lee Jasper believes that HP, as a blog, acted in a racist way.

So, if you're arguing that the victim of racism is the one who automatically defines a racist incident, it logically follows that Lee Jasper's view is the one you should be adhering to.

(As you can tell, I don't actually agree with Macpherson on that. I think it's perfectly possible to make an objective decision on whether a specific act is racist on the facts alone. People forget that Macpherson's definition of "institutional racism" as made, in part, to let the cops who investigated the killing of Steven Lawrence off the hook. By suggesting it was a problem of institutions, it sidestepped the real issue, that of the racism of the individual officers).

Michael Ezra said...

I should of course add that Rodinson was a well known Stalinist who defended Stalin's infamous and antisemitic Doctors' Plot.

Michael Ezra said...

Waterloo Sunset,

I am not familiar with all the details. I know there was some kind of long debate. However, as the comments section is hardly moderated then one might as well say that the Internet is racist because there is plenty of racist material on the site.

I believe that there was an erroneous allegation that Terry Fitz(gerald) was an approved writer for Harry's Place. This was not the case. I do not believe he ever had a login.

Consequently, if Jasper's accusation is based on incorrect facts then that should be corrected. To provide a different example: on occasion I receive abusive messages from people who think I am crook because of stories such as this. I normally send them a message saying that the name "Michael Ezra" is more common than they may think and I am not the same person as the one in the article. A similar point is made, a correction to a fundamentally incorrect fact is reasonable to mention as that additional information could effect the accusation of the accuser.

Michael Ezra said...

hmm.. my comment has gone missing. Let us hope it reappears. In the interim I shall add that Waterloo Sunset's rejection of the Macpherson report is pathetic. To provide an example as to why it is pathetic, he could of course not agree with the drug laws in the UK. However, if he decided to import a kilogram of heroin and got caught, his rejection of the law would not stop him being thrown in prison. Until the Macpherson report is overturned, if indeed it is ever overturned, it stands. As such, the UCU should pay attention to it.

Waterloo Sunset said...

I'm sure your comment will reappear when Bob turns up.

I'm not talking about the UCU. In fact, I disagree with the vote on the grounds that, if you want to reject the EUMC working definition you need to provide either a revision or an alternative. What the UCU have done is just voted to not have a policy on antisemitism, which is farcial.

I'm arguing about whether the Macpherson definition is useful or not. So you haven't actually addressed my point at all.I have a better analogy to go with what you're arguing.

To provide an example as to why it is pathetic, he could of course not agree with slavery in times gone past. However, if he decided to free some slaves and got caught, his rejection of the law would not stop him being thrown in prison.

If you're going to arguing for a strictly legalistic approach to everything, at least have the decency to use the hard issues, not the soft ones.

Waterloo Sunset said...

In the meantime, a quote from Jasper to help you decide.

Harry’s Place refused to take my complaint seriously. They trivialised that compliant, they denigrated me as a victim of serious racist abuse and they sought to obscure that compliant by constant counter accusation and showering me with personal abuse.
Whilst they have now belatedly banned Fitzpatrick the whole episode reinforces my claim that they are sympathetic to racist and Islamophobes. Their disgraceful inaction after receiving my compliant left me doubly victimised as victim of racist abuse. Their comments policy is not worth a jot and their collusion with racism is brutally exposed by this case.


Now, do you believe that Jasper, as the victim of racist abuse, has the final word on the definition of this incident.

That reply won't take you long. It's one word. Either "yes". Or "no".

Michael Ezra said...

Waterloo Sunset,

We need some kind of standard and we have law to do that. This is what occurs in liberal democracies: a legal system. In Communist countries they just killed people that they did not like - something they had in common with Nazi Germany.

Of course, the law can be wrong, but if you do not like it, why not go and live somewhere like Cuba, a Communist haven? Of course you would be prevented from travelling and you would no longer have access to the Internet but that may be a small price for you to pay for the Communist dream.

Most people reject Marx, Engels, Lenin and Communist tyranny and rightly so. In the UK, they accept that we have free speech (exceptions such as falsely shouting "Fire!" in a crowded cinema being noted) which allows people such as you to promote on the Internet your views, ones that if attempted to be enacted would simply lead to mass murder - and this has been historically determined.

In the interim, places such as Barnet Council have adopted the Macpherson Report's definition of racism.

Waterloo Sunset said...

You're flailing. You've not answered a single one of my points.

But I will note, from your answer, that you would condemn Rosa Parkes as a lawbreaker if you'd been around at the time.

And your "go back to Cuba" is such a hilarious caricature I'd suspect you of deliberate self-parody. If I wasn't aware that your sense of humour is no better developed than your debating technique.

The fact you don't seem to have realised, after all our previous exchanges, that I'm not a Marxist, let alone a Leninist, shows quite how painfully bad your reading comprehension is.

Still, I guess you don't need much talent to manage hedge funds. (As you previously brought up other people's jobs in this thread, I'm assuming you think yours is fair game for mockery, posh boy).

Now go and write 12 paragraphs crying about how someone kicked you in the shins one time.

Waterloo Sunset said...

p.s. What part of "Either yes. Or no." do you need me to explain for you?

Michael Ezra said...

Waterloo Sunset,

When Jasper says "Harry’s Place refused to take my complaint seriously. They trivialised that compliant [sic]," who is "They"? Seriously, is Jasper referring to the editor of Harry's Place or is he referring to someone in the comments box?

Harry's Place does have, as I have stated, a relatively relaxed comments box policy. The blog allows evil people from the SWP to post in the comments section. These people support Trotsky, a man who was responsible for a massacre of thousands at Kronstadt. They have also allowed Lee John Barnes of the BNP to post in the comments box. The reason they banned him was not because he was a prominent BNP activist but because, I believe, Harry's Place found evidence that suggested the BNP, or members of the BNP, were involved in attempt to get Harry's Place taken down via methods that were not legal - hacking etc.

It is therefore entirely possible that Jasper was the victim of racist abuse but that does not mean to say that Harry's Place is responsible for that abuse any more than Twitter is responsible for information being leaked onto that platform about a certain footballer.

Waterloo Sunset said...

a) Fitz was an above the line commentator.

b) It's clear from the context he's talking about the blog editor.

To repeat, does Jasper have the right to define this incident, as the victim of the racist abuse in question? Because he clearly blames not just Fitz but HP, the blog.

Michael Ezra said...

If you are not a Marxist, I apologise. Perhaps you are an anarchist?

Regarding segregation in the US prior to the civil rights act, the answer is no, I would not have condemned her because I would have argued that the Declaration of Independence that Jefferson wrote stated clearly, "all men are created equal." The separation of black people to the back of the bus might have been legal by the State but I would have argued not in keeping with the Declaration of Independnce and should have been ruled ultra vires.

Waterloo Sunset said...

If you are not a Marxist, I apologise. Perhaps you are an anarchist?

It's as good a definition as anything.

And Nechayev? Honestly, he wasn't even that influential on anarchism at the time, let alone since then. Your article on Ian Bone was at least amusing and about stuff vaguely relevant to the modern anarchist movement.

The separation of black people to the back of the bus might have been legal by the State but I would have argued not in keeping with the Declaration of Independnce and should have been ruled ultra vires.

But it wasn't declared ultra vires. Which is conclusive proof that, at the very least, the law is not always correct.

Another obvious example is South Africa. Apartheid was enshrined in law and your stance would have led you to upholding it if you'd lived there at the time- to do otherwise would be to do what you condemn and pick and choose what laws you follow.

Michael Ezra said...

No, it is not clear that Jasper is talking about the editor as he does not say the editor. You state that Fitz was "an above the line commentator" but that is not true. It is an error. It is ungrounded. It is false. It is wrong. It is fallacious.It is misguided. How many more ways do you wish me to say this?

Terry Fitz was given one or two guest posts that were posted above the line but he never had the right to post above the line himself. Those guest posts did not contain any racist argument.

Harry's Place did make an official response to these scurrilous allegations, which you have tried to perpetuate by falsely arguing that Fitz was an above the line commentator. I suggest you read it.

Will you or Jasper be accusing Socialist Unity of racism because that site allowed Terry Fitz to post in its comments section as recently as March 2011?

Michael Ezra said...

Another of my comments has gone missing.

But to Waterloo sunset's latest. In my comment of 22:48 today, I stated, "Of course, the law can be wrong." I am not sure what point he is making by bringing up segregation in the US and Apartheid in South Africa. Perhaps these are standard examples he uses any time he argues against a law he does not like. He reminds me of those who campaign for prisoners to be released from prison. These people correctly point out a previous miscarriage of justice and use that to suggest the case they are referring to is similar. It is pathetic.

I have been careful to refer to "liberal democracies." I do not believe that a state or country that has segregation based on race can be deemed "liberal."

Michael Ezra said...

I find it amusing that Waterloo Sunset tries to play down Nechayev. This is of course the very same Nechayev who was a friend of leading anarchist thinker, Mikhail Bakunin.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Michael

I stated, "Of course, the law can be wrong."

But you also stated that

Of course, the law can be wrong, but if you do not like it, why not go and live somewhere like Cuba, a Communist haven?

and

Until the Macpherson report is overturned, if indeed it is ever overturned, it stands.

In other words, you have argued, in your own words that anybody who does not like a law should go and live somewhere else and that the law stands, unless it is legally overturned.

At no point did you qualify that by saying that an unjust law was not included in your statement.

I am not sure what point he is making by bringing up segregation in the US and Apartheid in South Africa.

That is clear, but I'm afraid the fault does not lie with my analogies. It's especially amusing that you should complain about this when you brought up Nazi Germany in your post. But I am used to hypocrisy from you (as seen by your previous refusal to apply your supposed strident anti-communism when Searchlight were brought up) so I shall move on.

Perhaps these are standard examples he uses any time he argues against a law he does not like.

No, they're examples when somebody like you suggests all laws should be followed. It's all there in your own words.

These people correctly point out a previous miscarriage of justice and use that to suggest the case they are referring to is similar.

No, I'm pointing out they are applicable to your previous argument that all laws should be followed. My, you're a dishonest little debator.

It is pathetic.

More or less pathetic then your repeated refusal to directly address points put to you?

You really are a coward.

I have been careful to refer to "liberal democracies." I do not believe that a state or country that has segregation based on race can be deemed "liberal."

But you previously argued that America was a liberal democracy at the time of the Vietnam War, where, for most of it, segregation was still in place. You pick and choose your political definitions to suit your argument. You aren't even capable of internal consistency.

I find it amusing that Waterloo Sunset tries to play down Nechayev. This is of course the very same Nechayev who was a friend of leading anarchist thinker, Mikhail Bakunin.

Yes? How is his personal friendship relevant. Go on then, explain how his theories have an influence on modern anarchism. Your arguments, not just citations of revisionist historians, for the record.

Hey everybody! Let's all watch as Michael avoids addressing yet another point he's unable to counter!

bob said...

Sorry I have been off-line for another 24 hours. I managed to rescue some things from the spam queue slowly, but have not actually read anything here. I will try and snatch a few minutes to do so.

Comment is Cheap said...

I feel better about this blog now. Before it was simply Israel haters and holocaust deniers who were perverting the comments threads. Now there's every insult under the sun, from every direction. Violence embraced. Entire political movements dismissed. People's professions disparaged. Law accepted without question. Soap operatics. I can't wait to join in: what a fucking masturbatory mess.

Michael Ezra said...

waterloo sunset,

I know exactly what I have said and what I have not said. Yes, I said that someone can go and live in Cuba if they did not like the law here but, as we live in a liberal democracy, we are entitled to campaign against the law. To provide an example, I do not like the current libel laws, and as such I campaign against them. What I do not do is libel someone and expect to get away with it or at least be able to defend myself at low cost. The law, as it currently stands, means that it is expensive to defend a libel action in England. And back to the example of antisemitism. If one calls a Jewish person a "rich ZioNazi who uses his money and influence to control American foreign policy for the benefit of Israel" then I think it would be reasonable to conclude that the statement is an antisemitic one. This is what the EUMC definition allows.

It is true that the person did not say a "rich Jew who uses his money and influence to control American foreign policy for the benefit of Israel" but attacked the person for being a Zionist. It would be no good someone saying in defence (what David Hirsh has called the Livingstone formulation) that Zionists always use the antisemitism tag against critics of Israel. The EUMC working definition enables thinly veiled antisemitic statements to be classified as such and this is what the UCU hates.

Just as the Stalinists used old antisemitic tropes and replaced the word "Jew" with "cosmopolitan" or "Zionist", so there are those who have been involved with the UCU who seem to do similar with the word Zionist. One can consider why Jenna Delich, a so-called left-wing member of UCU, used David Duke's web site as a source for information to use on the UCU left-wing discussion board.

In any event, your history is very faulty. You amusingly say that for most of the Vietnam War there was segregation in place in the USA. It can be noted that American marines never landed in Vietnam until March 1965. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 put an end to all state laws requiring segregation.

Regarding Nechayev, you say, implying that I cannot, "Go on then, explain how his theories have an influence on modern anarchism." Issue 2 of the 1980s anarchist newspaper Class War stated:
"Now is the time for every dirty lousy tramp to lie in wait outside the palaces of the rich and shout to stab them to death as they come out." Nechayev would have been very proud. Had he been alive,he could have edited Class War himself.

But what your real gripe seems to be is with Searchlight, a magazine and organization that, for many years, has done sterling work in the fight against fascism. Perhaps, what you really do not like about Searchlight is that it is law abiding. How awful hey, obeying the law!

bob said...

Don't really know where to start. A comment on Macpherson. I personally think the Macpherson victim-defines-it thing is problematic. Undoubtedly, the victim should be listened to and taken seriously (altho of course some victims of racism don't recognise themselves as such). It is useful in defining an incident as "a racist incident" for the purpose of monitoring and for the purpose of investigation. It is not useful, however, in the context of coming to a decision about whether something actual IS racist and the resulting steps from that, e.g. censure within a union, increased sentencing harshness because crime is "racially aggravated/motivated" etc. Because the victim's view is never sufficient in defining an event; there needs to be some kind of agreed standard. That is why there is a need for more comprehensive definitions of racisms, towards which I see the EUMC WD as a step, however imperfect. To rule it out without ruling something else in is insane in my view, unless as a response to an attempt to make it the official union definition, which has never happened.

I also think it is wrong to make different racisms into a competitive sport or a zero sum calculation: this one or that one, this one is more serious than that one, etc. This kind of victimhood competition is what is more damaging to "community relations" or, rather, to solidarity.

Arguably, the Macpherson ruling leads towards such a victimhood competition, by elevating the victim status to a special position. (The reductio ad absurdum being proposed legislation on religious hate in terms of "causing offence".)

The Lawrence Inquiry also took place within the context of litigation culture imported from the US, and the lawfare-ization of the anti-racist movement, if that's not too clumsy a way of putting it. (And, to loop around to the other topic, Lee Jasper is one of the main instigators of that lawfare-ization, altho he occasionally likes to return to the street to demonstrate his "community" credentials - not that the street thinks much of him, judging by the graffiti in Brixton.)

HOWEVER, the key principle, that the victim needs to be taken into account, is absolutely correct and important.

--

I also think it is important not to see racism solely in terms of "marginalised communities". In my view, class is more important than race, but it is wrong to think that only the marginalised can be the victims of racism, including extremely damaging and destructive racism. (Anti-Muslim racism against an inner city Sylheti origin woman is not more racist than anti-Muslim racism against a comfortable suburban Turkish Cypriot businessman, for example.)

bob said...

Morris's exclusion from campus is straight forward anti-racism. That doesn't provide an example of anything regarding the EUMC working definition. How successful or not zionists have been in using the EUMC working definition to shut down debate is irrelevant to what the WD was produced for and how it could, subject to overall context, be used

The UCU motion and its supporters claim that the EUMC WD is used to stifle debate. They say this again and again, but fail to provide any examples of the stifling of debate. The nearest to an example is Birmingham with that veteran, where no debate was actually stifled, and unsuccessful attempts to stop a Hamas speaker, which I can't see invoked the EUMC WD. So, no case to answer.

The only debate stifling I have seen evidence for is Benny Morris. I'm not arguing he should or shouldn't have been cancelled for anti-racist reasons. I'm arguing that this undermines the anti-EUMC case that the EUMCers are doing the debate-stifling. That's all.

--

An ad hominem defence of one of the main drafters of the working definition, Kenneth Stern, says nothing of where he stands on the question of Israel and how it should be protected from criticism.

I'm not sure what an ad hom defence of a person is. Stern was cited by Blackwell as example of foreign Zionists forcing the WD on to us poor Europeans. My point was that Stern is a bad example, as he has a strong record as an anti-racist and civil rights lawyer, and no record as a "Zionist".

--

I've not got time for any more.

Levi9909 said...

Bob - Stern works for the American Jewish Committee which is a zionist organisation and the working definition contains at least two zionist pre-suppositions regarding the Jews' right to self-determination and the idea that establishing the State of Israel was not racist.

The bogus allegation of antisemitism, of which the working definition provides three examples, is used to stifle debate. That's its obvious purpose by reference to the Israel section which contains at least two zionist presuppositions. The whole point of a stifled debate is that it cannot be proven readily because it has been stifled. And, of course, where it does not stifle debate, it libels those who take one side against the other. Those of us who believe that Israel is a singly racist state, that Israel's behaviour and its structure is comparable to aspects of nazi Germany and those of us who focus more on Israel than other serial human rights abusers (for whatever reason) are libelled as antisemitic. That is to stop us from saying what we say or to rubbish us as characters. The upshot is an attempt at stifling debate. How successful it is is arguable but that it is an attempt at stifling debate is not.

Also Bob, you appear to be ignoring the abuse of the MacPherson principles by the promoters of the working definition. You seem to be the only one who is not suggesting that leaving zionists to define what is antisemitic is somehow at one with the MacPherson principles. The point is, it is not. The point is not whether or not you agree with the MacPherson principles. You often do that Bob. I think it's called going off on a tangent.

An obvious problem with the zionists' misappropriation of the MacPherson principles is that if the victims of zionism perceive zionism as racism and the zionists perceive anti-zionism as racism, then which side does MacPherson come down on? It should be a "no-brainer". Zionism is clearly racism. The Palestinians are clearly victims. Anti-zionism of itself does not have victims.

There is also a problem with the EUMC WD's assertion of a Jewish right to self-determination which means that Judaism itself was antisemitic for most of the past 2,000 and it means a change in the general principle of self-determination which is supposed to be applied to the people of a country as a whole and was never intended to facilitate the ethnic cleansing essential to the zionist project.

But regarding the EUMC WD, I think there is now enough in the public domain in the way of thoroughly bogus argumentation to totally ditch this miserable piece of negative hasbara. To that extent, Sue Blackwell has performed a great service for anti-racists everywhere. As a Jew myself, I am relieved that this antisemitic document is at last coming under genuine scrutiny.

Bob - time is precious to me too but there are times when the rubbishing of a person's arguments are used to undermine the person. If you don't want responses, don't argue with people or make a rule that people aren't allowed to argue with you. As it stands you allow the most outrageous slurs from your "comrades" and make bogus arguments against your critics. Just say that's how you want it and all you'll be left with are your "comrades". And we can both save time.

Levi9909 said...

Regarding acceptance or not of the UN partition of Palestine, the zionists' acceptance, as evidenced by the zionists' ethnic cleansing and expansion of the territory beyond the area proposed by the UN for the Jewish state prior to the departure of the British and the declaration of the State of Israel, was, as Ben Gurion made clear, a tactic. The Arab states only mobilised after at least 300,000 Arabs had already been expelled.

Regarding the "throw the Jews into the sea" comment, this has never been proven by anyone to have actually been said and even if it had, since the Arab states had no power to effect this, their armies were outnumbered by three to one and outgunned technologically, it has no relevance. The aim of zionism from at least the early 20th century was to establish a state for the world's Jews at the expense of Palestine's Arabs.

Sarah AB said...

Apologies if I'm ignoring anything addressed to me, but I've slightly lost track with this thread after a couple of days away. I agree with Bob about MacPherson. I think the point about denying self-definition is that it only *might* be problematic, not that it automatically is. I don't think the view of the 'victim' can be absolutely decisive in defiance of all logic. I will give a rather odd example of a case where I felt someone was waving an accusation of a/s around rather wildly (though I think in good faith). This was someone on a Times Higher thread. We were having a conversation about kinds of universities and someone had invoked the idea of being elitist against someone who was being a bit snobby about post 92s. Then someone said that word was a/s even when used in a completely remote context. I really really couldn't see that. In fact that happens to have nothing to do with Israel. I also think that the phrase 'blood libel' is used a bit too freely by some in the context of Israel. Again, I'm not saying this is done cynically, just trying to demonstrate that it is possible to deplore the UCU decision while agreeing that the WD, like any comparable WD of any 'ism', might be invoked inappropriately - yet it still seems to me that it is Israeli voices which are more likely to be silenced such as the case of the senior Arab Israeli speaker at a university recently.

bob said...

Bob - time is precious to me too but there are times when the rubbishing of a person's arguments are used to undermine the person.

Well, yes, but I'm not going to ban people from rubbishing other people's arguments. But I would prefer it if everyone stopped rubbishing others personally.

If you don't want responses, don't argue with people or make a rule that people aren't allowed to argue with you.

Sometimes I'm here to have a conversation amongst friends. (By which I don't just mean people who think exactly like me - the gap between, say, Ross or Waterloo Sunset or Schalom Libertad and, say, Marko AH and Mikey Ezra is pretty enormous.) Sometimes I'd like to convince people of my views. Please don't expect me to be consistent or only here for one reason. This is my personal blog, read by a couple of hundred people a day, not some public service broadcast or party line left newspaper.

As it stands you allow the most outrageous slurs from your "comrades" and make bogus arguments against your critics. Just say that's how you want it and all you'll be left with are your "comrades". And we can both save time.

If I had time today, I would read carefully what Mikey and WS and others have written today and possibly delete some of it, but I'm too busy.

But, yes, actually I'd like to be left with my comrades please.

skidmarx said...

Bob - perhaps you've missed Michael Ezra's comments here and here.
They contain references to someone's profession that are really quite threatening. Michael Ezra doesn't allow any references to his profession at Harry's Place, though it would often seem relevant that someone whose hobby is to attack the working class and socialists the world over and throughout time is in one of the most "capitalist" professions imaginable.
Maybe you haven't seen it, but consciously allowing him to get away with this would be deeply shitty.

Levi9909 said...

Bob - I think you may come to regret describing certain people as comrades but maybe not; you have surprised me a few times with your associations. Also, you really shouldn't mention someone in a post who you don't want contributing to the thread.

Re the differences between you and certain others, the only one I recognised was Waterloo Sunset who appears to agree with your take on Israel being no special as serial human rights abusers go. I think that in spite of your professed "non-zionism" you are setting zionism as the key to what you deem to be acceptable.

Meanwhile, before I leave you with your "comrades", any chance of anyone explaining with quoted references how MacPherson is relevant to the EUMC WD?

Thanks

Michael Ezra said...

Mark Elf rambles on about "zionists' ethnic cleansing" when he has no evidence for this. He just made it up. As Benny Morris made clear in his letter to the Irish Times a few years ago: "Most of Palestine's 700,000 'refugees' fled their homes because of the flail of war (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of victorious Arab invaders)." He specifically added: "There was no Zionist 'plan' or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of 'ethnic cleansing'. Plan Dalet (Plan D), of March 10th, 1948 (it is open and available for all to read in the IDF Archive and in various publications)."

Elf goes on to grumble that the accusation against those who compare Israel to Nazi Germany is antisemitic is being used "to stifle debate." Those who deny the Holocaust and are accused of antisemitism also say that debate on the subject of whether or not the Holocaust occurred is being stifled. His argument is crass.

A further argument Elf makes is that "Zionism is clearly racism." This statement might be clear to Elf but it hardly would pass Gradgrind's desire for facts. He lives in fantasy land.

But then again Elf shows himself to be a caricature by beginning a sentence, "As a Jew....." It is the sort of stuff that is so amusing Booker Prizes can be won from the idea.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Levi's sanctimonious statement "Re the differences between you and certain others, the only one I recognised was Waterloo Sunset who appears to agree with your take on Israel being no special as serial human rights abusers go. I think that in spite of your professed "non-zionism" you are setting zionism as the key to what you deem to be acceptable."

for some reason reminded me of Mr. Collins:

"The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this. And it is the more to be lamented, because there is reason to suppose, as my dear Charlotte informs me, that this licentiousness of behaviour in your daughter has proceeded from a faulty degree of indulgence, though at the same time, for the consolation of yourself and Mrs. Bennet, I am inclined to think that her own disposition must be naturally bad, or she could not be guilty of such an enormity at so early an age. Howsoever that may be, you are grievously to be pitied, ... Let me advise you then, my dear Sir, to console yourself as much as possible, to throw off your unworthy child from your affection for ever, and leave her to reap the fruits of her own heinous offence."

And later:

"I must not, however, neglect the duties of my station, or refrain from declaring my amazement at hearing that you received the young couple into your house as soon as they were married. It was an encouragement of vice ... You ought certainly to forgive them as a Christian, but never to admit them in your sight, or allow their names to be mentioned in your hearing."

Levi9909 said...

I don't think I have written anything about Palestine in the period 1947-149 that hadn't been written at the time or shortly after. If the account of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians has been made up, it wasn't by me, but then it wasn't made up, it was true. If the zionists never intended the ethnic cleansing of the Arabs then they never intended to have a Jewish state and that is preposterous. And anyway, hundreds of thousands of Arabs were forced to flee Palestine before the Arab states mobilised, that is before most zionist accounts claim that the war actually began.

I am perfectly entitled to speak against antisemitism as a Jew and three of the working definition's points are antisemitic. No one has won a Booker Prize for mocking Jews who speak, as Jews, against antisemitism and anyway, the Booker prizes are for fiction. It shouldn't surprise anyone that zionists can win prizes for fiction. I'd be more anxious if Howard Jacobson won prizes for fact.

Anyway, since Bob has shown a preference for online thuggery (his "comrades") over facts and honestly expressed opinions, I won't waste more time here.

Michael Ezra said...

Mark Elf continues with his blather about "ethnic cleansing" being intended despite the fact that those such as Benny Morris,and his opponent Efraim Karsh has shown it to be false.

Moreover the State of Israel's Declaration of Independence stated, and I quote:

"WE APPEAL - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State if Israel to return to the ways of peace and play their part in the upbuilding of the State, on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its bodies and institutions - provisional or permanent."

Elf claims: "And anyway, hundreds of thousands of Arabs were forced to flee Palestine before the Arab states mobilised." What Elf does not say is who told them to flee! To quote again from Benny Morris's letter to the Irish Times:

"on the local level, in dozens of localities around Palestine, Arab leaders advised or ordered the evacuation of women and children or whole communities, as occurred in Haifa in late April, 1948. And Haifa's Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, did, on April 22nd, plead with them to stay, to no avail."


Hardly evidence of Zionist "ethnic cleansing"!

And on that note,that is why the allusion to Howard Jacobson was appropriate: Mark Elf writes fiction.

I am rather pleased he is not going to "waste" any more time here as it will save me time from responding to his garbage.

bob said...

I have now finally read the allegedly offending parts of the thread, and will do a little deleting, but I find the outrage rather far-fetched. We're talking about a reference to someone's job as they described it in their own comment thread, with no threatening overtones whatsoever. As with "red-baiting" in previous threads, I find the concept of "witch-hunting" pretty tendentious. I don't think ad hom attacks on an obscure blog really amount to "witch-hunting".

bob said...

On anarchism: I think it is wrong to indict an ideology by reference to one person. Even the most influential anarchists would not speak for the movement as a whole, especially such a diverse and fractious movement as anarchism. Nechayev is fairly marginal now and never was that mainstream, and his influence is minimal.

However, there is a Nechayevist impulse within anarchism that echoes down to our day, e.g. in the Unabomber or the Invisible Committee, and anarchists need to reckon with this and work towards an anarchism free of that impulse, just as Leninists and Trotskyists need to account for Kronstadt (and, for that matter, liberals need to account for the fact that their intellectual forefathers included so many slave-owners, and conservatives need to account for those who appeased fascism).

By the way, the "lousy tramp" quote is a paraphrase of Lucy Parsons.

bob said...

On Macpherson, there are at least two ways it is relevant. First, there is the issue of institutional racism, which Macpherson, drawing heavily on Stokely Carmichael, gives us the most comprehensive definition, and this is pretty relevant to discussion of antisemitism in a workplace or union.

Second, the All-Party Parliamentary Group recommended the use of the EUMC WD in UK law enforcement, and the official govt response was that this was unnecessary because the Macperhson definition of racism includes antisemitism.

bob said...

Sorry and a third, which is that the overwhelming majority of British Jews would define antisemitism along lines not too different from the EUMC WD, and it is right that their views of what antisemitism is be taken into account in defining it.

--

On the law, I don't think the legality or illegality of the EUMC motion or the Israel boycott is the grounds on which they should be opposed. Of course, a union can't really go around making illegal motions, but the political arguments against are the important ones to me.

bob said...

On the allegation that there is no political diversity amongst the in the comments here apart from the obvious dissenters, because everyone is pro-Israel and therefore Zionism is the key to what is acceptable. I am gob-smacked: only a completely but perversely Ziocentric reader
could come up with this analysis. Given that only a couple of the regular commenters here are Zionist and that Zionism is only the main topic of conversation when Levi comes visiting.

bob said...

Pasting part of Michael E's comment as a prelude to editing:

Further examples of Mark Elf's errors can be seen in his comment to this thread (02 June, 2011 13:04) where he says that the State of Israel is a state based on "colonial settlement." He clearly does not know the difference between colonisation and colonial settlement. As an example, Jews who moved to State of Israel included those who survived the Holocaust in countries such as Poland, hardly a colonial power, and those who moved there from countries such Iraq or Yemen, again, in this context, not colonial immigration. The Jews did not settle there there as a result of great power who wanted to extract the natural resources of the country back to the home country and doing so with the use of cheap labour from that country - the traditional colonial model. And so the list goes on with his errors.

But Mark Elf is not one to let the truth get in the way of a good story. In fact, he is against the truth and that is why in the past he regularly banned people from his blog - including those who informed him of his errors.I assume he still bans people from his decrepit blog. I do not know and I do not care if he does.

bob said...

And another:

Colonialism involves economic exploitation of a land. That is not what Zionism was about. What Zionism was about was creating a homeland for the Jewish people. Your argument that the Zionists intended ethnic cleansing is a fallacy. You have not backed it up with evidence as you have not got any. On the basis of your own rule, you would have yourself banned as you are making unsubstantiated allegations.

I'll now delete the rest of those two comments, not because I think they are particularly offensive, but as a warning for people to ease off on personalisation.

bob said...

I just re-read Levi's comment of 03 June 13:01 and noticed how much complete nonsense every single paragraph contained and started to write a response, but decided I have better things to do with my day, especially as Levi has indicated he won't waste his time here any more.

bob said...

I'm not sure whether I made the right editorial decision or not, but am now off to do family stuff, and probably won't have time to check in again today. Enjoy the sunshine.

Jogo said...

On Obliged to Offend on Chomsky: Excellent.

but my question (to the world, in general; and to "the Left," including the "student Left") is: why is Chomsky taken seriously by so many? why is he considered a major thinker?

why is he not relegated to the margins, as a crank?
(even a vile crank?)

why is he more (a lot more) than, say, Justin Raimondo?

why is he more than Ayn Rand?

"chomsky" is one of the most flamingly huge search words in all of google.
his books sell like hot-cakes.
every "student" knows his name, and believes that he "speaks truth to power."

who keeps the fire under Chomsky?
Hugo Chavez? Rage Against the Machine? Verso Press? The Nation? Amy Goodman?
is Chomsky the Left's crazy uncle?

please explain, if you can.

Flesh said...

On politics versus law (with growing threat of militant intervention - from almost every direction at the moment) - I once heard Nick Cohen mildly reprimanding the litigious instincts of some political activists, and I instinctively nodded along. I feel a bit different now. If politics - or a bit of politics - is sickening and there is nothing you can do about it, and nobody else knows what to do, and the threat of harm is significant, the alternatives are militancy or litigation. I hate militancy (as I understand it, thumping and smashing) because it is arbitrary, destructive, cruel and infectious. It is a degradation to all involved and I would only enter into if I absolutely had to. Litigation, on the other hand, can stimulate all kinds of political discussions. So often it is an adrenaline shot for politics (see Keith Ewing's Bonfire of the Liberties). Moreover, it is an ultimate protection. Like in Roth's The Plot Against America, where the US constitution is the final shield between Jews and antisemites. As Habeas Corpus was for the slave James Sommersett. And it's been observed that EU Human Rights law as to some extent restored balance in judgements in favour of protecting individual rights.

The Contentious Centrist said...

"On the allegation that there is no political diversity amongst the in the comments here apart from the obvious dissenters, because everyone is pro-Israel and therefore Zionism is the key to what is acceptable. I am gob-smacked: only a completely but perversely Ziocentric reader
could come up with this analysis. "

I don't understand why you are gob-smacked. Any non-Zionist who criticizes Israel without:

- relying on lies, rumours, slander
- using a double standard, one for Israel, another for the rest of the world
- scrutinizing Israel's behaviour through a magnifying glass while ignoring the other side's provocations
- expressing mandatory contempt and suspicion for Israelis or their supporters

is, as per definition, a Zionist.

It is so according to Levi. And I agree with him. Because anyone who provides constructive criticism which is genuinely concerned with peace, and respectively, Israeli and Palestinian self-determination, statehood and safety, cannot but be a Zionist. I take my education in this matter from reading, among other sources, Levi's blog and Angry Arab blog both of which share a very broad definition of what "Zionist" means. It is basically: if you are not with Palestinian positions 100%, you are against Palestinians 100%, and that, in effect, makes you a flaming Zionist.

Flesh said...

"I'm a Zionist. Mark Elf says so."

Come on Noga, in what other sphere would you let yourself be defined by an Angry Elf?

The Contentious Centrist said...

Is there anything immoral about being a Zionist?

Flesh said...

Zionism is of course lovely - but if you're going to let yourself be defined from the outside, at least use somebody authoritative as a reference.

bob said...

My views on Israel/Palestine have not fundamentally changed in the last decade, and yet 10 years ago I would have, when pushed, say something like that I was a non-Zionist perhaps even leaning to the anti. My dislike of all nationalism, my belief in the diaspora and my sense of Zionism's supporting role in the tragedy of the rich variousness of diaspora culture, and of course my sense of the injustice experienced by Palestinians all made me much more anti than pro.

In the last ten years, however, the rate at which others have described me as a Zionist and the accelerated mutation of the word "Zionist" both to cover anyone who refuses the twisted worldview which has increasingly characterised anti-Zionism and as a euphemism for (non-exceptional) Jews - have led me towards, at the very least, leaning more to the pro than the anti and, at times, to consider that maybe taking on the name is the honourable step, and I am more and more inclined to agree with Noga.

One major caveat: "It is basically: if you are not with Palestinian positions 100%, you are against Palestinians 100%, and that, in effect, makes you a flaming Zionist." I don't think that most of today's non-Palestinian anti-Zionists are actually with the Palestinian positions. I don't think they (most of them) really care that much about Palestinians.

Most of them don't engage much with Palestinian politics and intellectual culture, do not practically engage with Palestinian civil society or grassroots activism, are not interested in what life might be like under Hamas or PA rule, see Fatah v Hamas only in terms of how it plays out in relation to Israel, are not interested in seeking out the most progressive or creative forces on the Palestinian street. You rarely see concern with what has happened to the Arab Christian community, what Druze communities think, what is going on with the Bedouins (apart from occassional outrage at something happening TO them), with Palestinian women's rights or gay rights, with Palestinian trade unions. You rarely see protest at the way Arab governments promote the exclusion of their refugee populations. You rarely see anti-Zionists following debates within the Israeli citizen Palestinian public sphere.

In other words, it's all about Israel. Anti-Zionism is precisely anti-Zionism and not pro-Palestinianism.

Mikey said...

Bob's point is, in my opinion, not only accurate but important. This is especially so when it comes to anti-Zionist Jews. Nobody reads the news pages of the Jewish Chronicle as closely as anti-Zionist Jews. This is what they focus upon. Three things really irritate them in Britain: the Jewish Chronicle, the Board of Deputies and the office of the Chief Rabbi. This can be combined with hatred of any other Jewish communal organisation that they can paint with the Zionist brush irrespective of whether or not it is justified.

Nothing summed up this idea of not being pro-Palestinian but being anti-Zionist more than the following event. Founding members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) included Tony Greenstein and Roland Rance, two anti-Zionist Jews who had been involved in the pro-Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Baath party linked, BAZO (British Anti-Zionist Organisation.) Around the time of the Oslo accords when the PLO made an agreement with Israel, Greenstein and Rance left the PSC as it was not sufficiently anti-Zionist. Hence, the support for Palestinians is only to the extent that this supports their own anti-Zionist position and no further.

As Bob implies - for such people being anti-Zionist is what really counts. Supporting the Palestinians is really a method to their primary aim- anti-Zionism.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Eve Garrard once, very perceptively, described antisemitism as a kind of pathology, a stalking syndrome. Anti-Zionism very often resembles that irresistible impulse to stalk Israel in the way specified by Mikey. A stalked person would have a hard time distinguishing between the motivation of one stalker and another: to her, the feeling of claustrophobia, lack of oxygen and even defencelessness,induced by the stalker is what matters. Anti-Zionists may salute themselves as humanitarian purists, but their behaviour and ways of expressing this humanitarianism is simply threatening and dehumanizing. It's all very good to mock and satirize them on blogs but stalkers are not harmless.

Flesh said...

A portrait of the Union as an old stalker.

Thanks for reminding us of that. Not harmless at all.

skidmarx said...

Anti-Zionism very often resembles that irresistible impulse to stalk Israel in the way specified by Mikey.
Michael Ezra does some stalking and you want to blame the victim. It's hard to know what your motivation is for such a 180 degree somersault from the truth, but there you go.

bob said...

Skid, if you can't see the difference between a whole movement with a stalking mentality towards a whole ethnicity (and an ethnicity that has historically been a major victim of racism) and one person doing some internet research and pursuing a few personal spats against individuals whose politics he finds completely reprehensible, then maybe Modernity is right about you after all.

The Contentious Centrist said...

I was speaking about a pathology, not merely gossip. skid would have trouble distinguishing between the two cases.

I wonder when Jacqueline Rose will decide to put the anti-Zionists on her psychiatrist's couch and dissect their historical traumas.

davebrockly said...

The simple truth is that Zionism was a reaction to the anti-semetism sweeping eastern europe in the 19th century.
So if anti-semetism was the cause of zionism ,the first thing a serious anti-zionist should do is combat anti-semetism.
i,m not a zionist myself if there is any anti-semetism in europe I will try and fight it here rather than go to Israel.

However given the depressing history of jews i fully understand why many would want to live in their own homeland .

These anti-zionists seem so obsessed in pointing out the failings of Israel and Zionism ;they often end up by design or accident using anti-semetic discourse from other anti-zionists.
They don,t seem to understand by doing this they strengthen and not weaken the case for israel and zionism.

just a brief indulgence if i may since this is a Brockly blog .
we nearly pulled a great "big lunch" on sunday lots of people out food competitions etc and bands and music to play.
Such a shame that when the main band came to play my street "marlin chops"that despite gazeebo galore the equipment and band was in danger from water getting in.
maybe next year .
bob perhaps you can leave an entry so others can comment on how their events went.

bob said...

Thanks Dave. Dedicated to you, a big lunch post: http://brockley.blogspot.com/2011/06/big-lunch-in-rain.html

bob said...

On anarchism again, Paul Stott just tweated to Mikey "u would be surprised how little on or by C19th Anarchists contemporary activists read". Probably very true. Partly good - the world has changed a lot since Bakunin's time, and a lot of what he says is quaint and irrelevant. Partly bad - as some of them (not Bakunin [or Proudhon or Most] so much, but Kropotkin, Lavrov, Ferrer, and later Rocker, the Wobblies, and others) had interesting and useful things to say.

Michael Ezra said...

Of course,on the subject of intent of ethnic cleansing which those such as Mark Elf are not prepared to admit, or could not care less about, an interesting article about the 6 Day War has just been published by Foreign Policy. It contains the following information:

"'We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants,' declared Palestine Liberation Organization leader Ahmad al-Shuqayri. 'As for the survivors -- if there are any -- the boats are ready to deport them.'"

bob said...

At his request, I have removed links to Modernity's blog from this post. Explanation may follow in a future post.

Comment is expensive said...

In fact, the Macpherson report and the whole of British anti-racism law is a Zionist plot. Our anti-racism law builds on the anti-discrimination and race relations law developed when Roy Jenkins was Home Secretary. (I don't know what Jenkins' attitude was to Israel, but he once gave the Israel Sieff lecture, endowed by the M&S chair, and he did once visit Israel, so he must be some kind of Zionist right?) A lot of this legislation was written by Anthony Lester, and Lester was a big influence on Macpherson and especially Macpherson's sidekick Richard Stone. Lester later gave the legal opinion requested by the UCU which ruled that an Israel boycott would be unlawful, because it would constitute discrimination. Quite clearly, while he was writing the anti-discrimination legislation of the 1960s and 1970s, Lester always had in mind protecting Israel from legitimate criticism. And when Macpherson and Stone were considering the Lawrence case, they were clearly not in the least interested in institutional racism in the British police force, but only in preventing legitimate criticism of Israel. In fact, it strikes me as I write this that probably when Wilhelm Marr coined the term "anti-semitism", he was probably not, as most people actually assumed, concerned with eradicating Jews from the German-speaking world, but with providing a word for Israel's later Zionist defenders to use to de-legitimise legitimate criticism of Israel. It's obvious isn't it?

sackcloth and ashes said...

'HP has grossly insulted everyone in the UCU'.

I'm a member of UCU, and I don't feel in the slightest way insulted about the HP banner. But I am absolutely furious that red-brown SWP types have hijacked my union, and that at a time when we should be focusing on (for example) the attack on our pension schemes hardcore racists of your kind are persisting with their anti-Semitic crusade.

I want these people out of my union before they wreck it for good.

Anonymous said...

Life In Occupied Palestine – Anna Baltzer