Saturday, November 10, 2012

Austerity Britain, Israeli apartheid, institutional antisemitism, etc

Austerity Britain
Local readers, I expect you are aware of the recent announcement of very harsh public spending cuts in Lewisham: £28 million over three years (reports here and here). The cuts are distributed across several services, but with the particularly big blows, I think, to the fund which prevents vulnerable people from becoming homeless, to day care centres, and to community safety team services to victims of sexual offences, domestic violence and hate crimes. As far as I am aware, there are no proposals to curb the pay of the highest salaried council executives. The Labour council is in an impossible position, it seems to me, having to pass on Coalition imposed cuts – but could they do more to resist?

The harshest blow locally is the proposed closure of the recently refurbished Accident and Emergency department at Lewisham hospital. I’ll blog about this soon; in the meantime read Clare’s Dairy and support the campaign to save it.

This week saw a large amount of attention for the Living Wage campaign, spearheaded by the Alinskyite UK Citizens movement and by the worthy Quaker reformists of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Francis Sedgemore has a nice post about the Living Wage's critics and Boris Johnson's admirable endorsement of it.

Israeli apartheid
As across Europe and elsewhere, it is indubitable that there is a problem with racism in Israel, including the anti-Mizrahi racism of many Ashkenazim (both liberal and not), the anti-migrant racism directed mainly at African asylum-seekers, and of course the anti-Arab racism which is intertwined with the on-going conflict between the state and its neighbours. In the last few weeks, literally hundreds (I've lost track now, but well over 600) rockets have been fired from Gaza into Southern Israel, which must further intensify hostility in the region's vicious cycle of hate.

A private philanthropy, the Yisraela Goldblum Fund, commissioned some research into Israeli attitudes to others. Just before Jewish new year, a telephone survey was conducted with a relatively small sample (500), spread across the disparate sectors of the Israeli population: religious, secular, "Russian"... Ha'aretz's Gideon Levy was entrusted with reporting the poll. His report, led by the notion that Israelis support apartheid, was highly inaccurate, distorting, decontextualising, mistranslating and misrepresenting the results to make the racism look far worse than the reality. Of course, Levy's version shot around the world on social media platforms, confirming what all anti-Zionists thought they already knew and deepening vulgar hatred of Israel. A number of careful refutations of Levy's misreporting - such as by Shany Mor in Ha'aretz and by the New Israel Fund's Noam Shelef- have been published, but they are not going to undo a fraction of the damage he has done. Racism in Israel, as anywhere, is a serious issue, and Levy has done a great disservice to the struggle against it (and to the profession of journalism) by his dishonesty.

Institutional antisemitism
There is currently in London an employment tribunal concerning the long-harassment of one Ronnie Fraser in UCU, a trade union. I intend to write about this, but only after the Tribunal concludes, but here in the meantime is some commentary: from Ben Cohen in Commentary, from Marcus Dysch, from the Times of Israel. [Update January 2014: I have no idea any longer what I planned to say about this, an issue of inexplicable interest to some of my readers. Here is what David Hirsh said about it, which is far more worth reading than anything I might say. Apologies too for the very bad phrasing of the first sentence of this paragraph.]

And also
The Soupy One has an illuminating post on British imperial history, the resurgent far right and the latter's promotion by global broadcasters Iran's Press TV and Russia Today. The Fat Man has a brilliant post on the different types of drones killing people in Pakistan. Mic Wright has an interesting post on what we could call the 1% Democrats of Silicon Valley, who vote Obama but live Romney. The Heeb has an amusing post on the idiot anti-Zionists of the Russell Tribunal. Over at ANT, we have some posts on Greek fascism, including one on the anti-antifa who have defaced a Holocaust memorial in Rhodes.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Australias seat on the UN council is a clear indication to Aborignial Australias they are well and truly alone, it wasnt long ago the UN, amnesty internation and the international human rights commission denounced Australia for their treatment of Aboriginal people, Australia it self has commission human rights inquiries, Australia has signed all agreements regarding indigenous people and have not followed any of the recommendations they commissioned or any from the international reports, Aboriginal people are right to think the UN represent an immoral power hungry toothless tiger, Australia is breaching its human rights obligations and being rewarded for it, cant wait for the people of earth (opposed to the self appointed rulers) take back this planet from those loonys in power

TNC said...

A general comment:

"The people of earth (opposed to the self appointed rulers)" cannot rule in modern nation-states. Advanced societies will always governed by some sort of elite ruling over (or in the name of) "the people". What matters is how is the elite composed (who are they) and whether they are permanent or circulating.

http://www.wisdomsupreme.com/dictionary/circulation-of-elites.php

"Changes of regime, revolutions, and so on occur not when rulers are overthrown from below, but when one elite replaces another. The role of ordinary people in such transformation is not that of initiators or principal actors, but as followers and supporters of one elite or another."

Sarah AB said...

Hi Bob - I have now posted on the Ronnie Fraser case too - I didn't want to while it was still in train (although it will be a while before the judgement is made).

http://hurryupharry.org/2012/11/17/ronnie-fraser-vs-the-ucu/