Friday, April 27, 2007

And doctors now

Hot on the heels of the NUJ, a bunch of British doctors are calling for a boycott of the Israeli Medical Association. Source: TotallyJewish, World War 4 Report. How representative these 125 are of British doctors, a fairly conservative bunch, remains to be seen.

By the way, I have been adding lots of links about the NUJ boycott here.

Remember Guernica

As Jim reminds us, today is the 70th annivesary of the bombing of Guernica.
Update/trackback: DJ Durutti presents a great selection of Spanish Civil War songs, from Vini Reilly to the Clash) Keyword: mp3

Hope for Marxism (middle class unite and fight)

I missed this in the paper, but that's what blogs are for. TWP posted on a report from Britain's Ministry of Defence outlining the threats we face in the future:
"The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx," says the report. The thesis is based on a growing gap between the middle classes and the super-rich on one hand and an urban under-class threatening social order: "The world's middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest". Marxism could also be revived, it says, because of global inequality. An increased trend towards moral relativism and pragmatic values will encourage people to seek the "sanctuary provided by more rigid belief systems, including religious orthodoxy and doctrinaire political ideologies, such as popularism and Marxism".
Soundtrack for this post: "Middle Class Kid" by Pelle Carlberg (mp3 from Polaroid)

Dictatorship in America ain't gonna happen any time soon

It doesn't take much effort for Norm to demolish the utter idiocy of Naomi Wolf's "Fascist America in 10 easy stages". I'm sick and tired of people using the word "fascism" to mean slightly-more-authoritarian-take-on-liberal-democracy-than-most-versions.

Euston Manifesto Conference

The Euston Manifesto Conference, ‘Solidarity and Rights: The Euston Manifesto one year on’, is on 30 May in London.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

NUJ Boycott/Alan Johnston 2

More on the NUJ boycott of Israel

U.S. Reps. Gary Ackerman, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, and Shelley Berkley (both Democrats), have written against the National Union of Journalists' decision to boycott Israel. They said: "it would be extremely unfortunate" if the organization was boycotting Israel to appease Palestinian terrorists who kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston in Gaza last month. "Such behavior would only beget more violence". [Source] The Gazette in Montreal has also come out against the NUJ boycott. (But lose a little credibility by calling the NUJ the BUJ.)

Engage are leading the fight against the NUJ boycott. NUJ members can sign up to fight the boycott here.
Thanks to Arieh for many of the links
By the way, if it is true that the Israel boycott motion was supported as an act of appeasement in aid of Alan Johnston, it is interesting that the Palestinian journalists union (the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate) have called for a boycott, not of Israel, but of the Palestinian Authority (PA), until Johnston is freed. (See WAFA, NUJ, JP, IPC.) Meanwhile, the PA and Hamas militia are using violence against the journalists. (See RSF, Xinhua, IndiaeNews.)

Added links (via Arieh)

Reporting for Duty With Britain’s Israel-hating Mob by Nathan Jeffay in The Forward (new!)

Sean Gannon in Ha'aretz on the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign's (IPSC) 'recent success in persuading Ireland's official arts association, Aosdna, to pass a resolution urging Irish artists to "reflect deeply" before engaging in any cooperation with state-sponsored Israeli cultural events and institutions'. Lucid analysis.

Conor Foley at CiF on the NUJ boycott

Trade Union Friends of Israel's letter to the
Guardian on the boycott's empty gesture politics.

Richard Cohen in WP on boycotting Israel


Journalists' partnership with Hezbollah (via Jogo)

BBC Alan Johnston widget (via Adam Tinworth)

Pro-Israel left

JewSchool is calling for the launch of a "new pro-Israel left"

Previous: The three-way fight

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lewisham bloggers in the flesh

So, the second bi-annual Lewisham bloggers meet-up at the Jolly Farmers came to pass on Friday. I was somewhat worse for wear on Saturday, but had a great time.

In no particular order, there was Andrew of Someday I'll... (who organised us into being there), Richard of Baggage Reclaim, Max (whose toilet widget I intend to add to my blog), Rob of Walking the Streets of Forest Hill, Andrew O of the Ragged School blog, Wulf of the eponymous Den, Tom of Let's Be Sensible, Michael of The Forest Hill Society, Lewisham Kate (who is trying to organise us better), James Cleverly, and Adam Tinworth (the granddaddy of Lewisham blogging), plus two bloggers I was completely new to: Obsessive Katy and Publican's Decoy, who brought down our average age a little.

Richard and Andrew both do the demographics in their posts: less politicians, more Christians, double the females, but still ale-drinking white blokes in their thirties predominate.

Hope to see you all in less than six months!

Provisional St George's Day Post

I might write a proper St George's Day post later, but for now, read this from Pretending Life is a Song and listen to the mp3s of Billy Bragg's take on "Jerusalem" and the great old anti-fascist band The Men They Couldn't Hang's "Ghosts of Cable Street".

Friday, April 20, 2007

I wasn't going to blog about Virginia Tech...

I wasn't going to blog about Virginia Tech, but...

Yesterday, my partner told me, with tears in eyes, about Liviu Librescu, the man who survived Hitler's death camps and then the anti-semitism and totalitarianism of Stalinist Romania, to die in a classroom at Virginia Tech, using his body to protect his students from the gunman's bullets. And on Yom Hashoah, the international day that commemorates Holocaust victims.

And then Jogo sent me this corruscating piece by Mark Steyn, on the infantalising tone of the coverage.

And then I read this wonderful post by Will on Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the anniversary of which it was yesterday.

And something kind of clicked.


While looking up Liviu Librescu, I was struck by something else too, the cosmopolitanism of the university department of engineering sciences where he worked. Academics in the leftist disciplines - the social sciences and humanities - like to bang on about multiculturalism and postcolonialism. But scientists and engineers just get on with practically making a postracial world real, without any fuss, doing useful stuff for all of us.


Finally, read this by Scribbles, on young men who slaughter.

NUJ Boycott/Alan Johnston

Snoopy joins the dots between the shameful NUJ Israel boycott and righteous anger at the kidnapping of Alan Johnston.

Here's the blog backlash to the boycott (thanks Arieh)

Will gives some good reasons not to boycott.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Santiago and Mahmoud, our brothers, murdered and jailed

Eric Lee of LabourStart writes:

In unions in different countries, we call each other by different names. Some unions use the word 'comrade', others use 'colleague'. And many use the terms 'brother' and 'sister' to describe fellow union members.

Are we simply using these words because we always have, or do they still have any real meaning?

I ask that question because in the last few days one of our brothers has been brutally tortured and murdered, and another one, an innocent man, jailed.

In Mexico, Santiago Rafael Cruz, a 29-year-old union organizer from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC, AFL-CIO) was brutally tortured and murdered. Santiago was a successful organizer in the USA who had moved down to Mexico to run the union's office there. His activities aroused the hostility of those who fear the growth of trade unionism among farm workers, and generated attacks in the media, threats of deportation, robberies and intimidation, culminating in this terrible crime.

Santiago has a family in Mexico, a mother, father, sisters and brothers. But his family is much larger than that; it includes all of us. We must grieve together with his family, and we must fight together with them as one large family to ensure that the Mexican government investigates the murder, arrests and prosecutes those responsible, and ensures the safety of union activists in that country.

Please take a moment to send off your message today:

About the same time that union-hating murderers were ending the life of this courageous young man in Mexico, on the other side of the world Iranian security forces lured union activist Mahmoud Salehi into the local prosecutor's office on the pretext of discussing plans for this year's May Day celebrations. Salehi, a former president of the bakery workers' union in the city of Saqez, was then arrested and put in jail for a year with a three year suspended sentence on top of that. His crime was that in 2004 he organized a May Day demonstration.

Tell the Iranian authorities to release Mahmoud Salehi now, and to drop all charges. Send off your message by clicking here:

I doubt very much if Santiago and Mahmoud ever met -- and yet they are brothers. One now languishing in an Iranian prison, the other in a Mexican grave.

If these two men were not just fellow trade union members but actually your brothers, the sons of your mothers and fathers, how would you react? I know that you wouldn't be silent -- you would be up in arms and the whole world would know your anger and your pain.

Please pass this message on. Let's tell the Mexican and Iranian governments that we in the international trade union movement are a single family, and we will not tolerate our brothers and sisters being tortured, jailed or murdered anywhere in the world.

Eric Lee


Fascinating article in The Forward (via Jogo)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The three-way fight - us, them, and them

Via Will, I read this long and thoughtful piece by Mike of the Sojourner Truth blog called "Challenges to Capitalism, Challenges for the Left: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and the Three Way Fight". I don't agree with all of it, but this is an important perspective. He is an anti-capitalist, who weighs up the dangers of "bi-polarity", an us-and-them, with-us-or-against-us attitude that pervades the left today: either US "imperialism" or Islamist "resistance". He identifies the Euston Manifesto and the pro-Israel wing of the Anti-German movement as following this polarity too far in one direction [and perhaps Engage do too...], while the "anti-imperialist" current dominant in the left goes the other way [his example is Left Turn, plenty more examples here and here].

Read it!

And there's lots more of interest on the blog and its companion, the Sojourner Truth Organisation archive.

The post also put me on to some other sites: the Three-Way Fight blog, where Mike also contributes; Oread Daily; and Democracy and Hip Hop.

Max Dunbar of Adbusters has come to similar conclusions, and his article, "In Search of New Comrades", is well worth reading. (Found via DLL and Transmontanus).

Academic anti-semitism?

A call to action

My trade union, UCU, will be debating an academic boycott of Israel at its next conference. There are three motions: IN1, which I broadly support, sets out a rigourous process which the union should go through in undertaking an international boycott; IN2, which I broadly support, requires a full member ballot before any boycott is imposed (which reduces the danger of "anti-imperialist" activists imposing their ideology on the rank and file membership); IN3, which I profoundly oppose, is basically an endorsement of the PACBI boycott call; IN4 calls for a resumption of international aid to the Palestinian Authority and opposes upgrading of the status of Israel in the European Union. (Full details are here.)

If you are a UCU member, we need to be campaigning against IN3. Find out who your conference delegates are and, if possible, get your branch to mandate them to vote against IN3. If you need resources, go to Engage.


Also: a quick update on Ilan Pappe's imminent arrival at the University of Exeter and the banning of Matthias Küntzel's talk at Leeds University. Engage and SPME have a lot of material on these issue, including:

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK has voted to boycott Israel. Michael Gove writes in The Times:

This boycott is not of a repressive state that outlaws free expression (of which, sadly, there are still too many) but of one of the few states in the Middle East with a proper free press: Israel.

The NUJ exists to defend, among other virtues, freedom of speech. That virtue is better defended in Israel than in any other nation of the Middle East and it comes under assault daily from forces driven by fanaticism.

Now is a time, for all sorts of reasons, for showing solidarity with those defending democracy in that region, not for passing on the other side of the road. So, with no little sadness, I feel that I have to leave.

They've also voted to support the Bolivarian "revolution"...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Brockleyism 2

1. There has been a proliferation in Brockley blogging lately (at least, coming to my attention), challenging my position, as BrockleyNick kindly put it, as "Brockley's most celebrated blogger".

Brockley Central
Brockley Central has been going for a couple of months now, with loads of great SE4-related stuff: where to eat, the invasion of the gastropubs, feeling safe...

"The undead are a perennial problem in SE4"
As well as Brockley Central, there's Howard at ZombieCoterie. He's posted this fragment of urban serendipity.

2. WikiBrockley. Brockley's wikipedia page has been heavily added to lately, by an anonymous editor (I like to imagine its a reader of this blog). I've been copy-editing it a bit, and added a couple of musicians to the "popular culture references" section at the end: Chris Inperspective (see below) and Remarc.

Soundtrack to this post: Chris Inperspective - Live @ Nu Killa Beats (long mp3, via DnBShare, featuring "Brockley Cross" by Chris Inperspective, very nice ambient drum and bass)

Related: NEF's campaign against Clone Town Britain.

(Image above from GlassGiant, via Jogo)

Welcome to the world of Bob

Despite the fact that I've been a bit slack in my blogging lately, I seem to have had a small surge (or is spike the right word?) in comments and links. Here's from who, in no particular order.

Renegade Eye I've been reading for a while now, so it am glad to get a visit from its author, a secular socialist with great musical taste. Some recent stuff: The civil war in Lebanon, Argentina's dissappearances continue. Also blogs occassionally at Further Left Forum.

I keep intending to start posting more about music. So it was nice to be linked to by Los Amigos de Durutti (great music, great name). Here's a couple of recent gems: Cuíca madness, Ape is High (Mandrill and samples thereof).

I still haven't added the People's Republic of Newport to my blogroll, but I will. Here's a top post, on one-sidedness and Israel-Palestine. Two criticisms of this blog: too many posts to keep up with, and an anti-American streak.

I had a visit from J.B of newish blog Red Left Review, one to watch. Sample posts: on Respect and hyper-activism, on fascism and fighting it.

A visit from James Higham, of Nourishing Obscurity, also blogging at BlogPower. Interesting political perpective. Sample sentence: "Once, at a stag night, the stripper took me aside and said: ‘You’re not taking this seriously. It makes me nervous.’


Another visitor was Phil from A Very Public Sociologist. He's left the left, fair enough, but to follow Cameron!? (This is where I'd add in an irony-indicating emoticon, maybe involving a semi-colon and a bracket, but I'm just too old.) Fascinating long post on Stalinism and the unions.

Howard at ZombieCoterie and BrockleyCentral I've already namechecked at my Brockley post earlier. Another local blogger who recently added me to the blogroll (and I will reciprocate soon) is James Cleverly, Conservative. As an ex-military chap, he has been blogging heavily on the Iran hostage debacle.

I also got a nice hat-tip from Jim at Shiraz Socialist. Followed by a ringing endorsement from Will of General Theory of Rubbish, probably my blogging hero.

Technorati tells me I got a link from Paul Canning, who has an extremely interesting site, mainly about Web 2.0, but I can't find the actual link.

Google referral of the week
My favourite google search today: "Appolinaire breast of", linking here. (More here.) More great google referrals (hyperlinks to page google throws up): Rushdie Kylie (#2), Tommy Sheridan is a wanker (only #5, after gems like this and this,), Why has Respect got to be earned? (#2), and Cons of Mitsubishi pajero 2006 limited edition (#4, I hope I persuaded them not to buy a Pajero...)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

I was sad to read about Kurt Vonnegut's death. He had a huge impact on me when I read him as a teenager. Slaughterhouse 5, in particular, changed the way I thought about things. He taught me that life is absurd - and that the things done in the name of rationality are often the most absurd, and that nothing is more absurd than power - but that this is no reason to let go of humanity, of an ethical perspective. And he taught me that rage at the world and at power need not mean taking the path of hatred and bitterness.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


JANIP is the relatively new Jewish Academic Network for Israeli-Palestinianpeace, a cooperative project of Meretz USA and Ameinu. The Jewish Academic Network for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (JANIP) is being created to bring together scholars, teachers, and administrators who reject the increasingly polarized debate surrounding the Palestinian–Israeli conflict.

News from their site that Ilan Pappe is coming to the UK... Watch this space.

Sacco, Venzetti and the not so great United States

A new film by Paul Miller on Sacco and Venzetti, executed Italian-American anarchists.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Brockley's loss

Slightly lost in the world is leaving Brockley, to nearby Deptford. As a goodbye gift to us, he's posting 10 things he'll miss about Brockley.

(Note to Slightly: are you coming to the Lewisham bloggers meet-up that Andrew B is organising? It'd be great to meet you there!)

'Lebanon, Iran and the 'Long War' in the 'Wider Middle East'

I just bought the recent issue of the always excellent libertarian Marxist magazine Aufheben, which has an article on Iran, refuting the facile notion that the Bush government are preparing for war with Iran. The whole thing doesn't seem to be on-line, but the start (the juiciest bit) is at an Indymedia page.

Meanwhile, having failed to comment on the Iran hostage drama while it was live, I can only refer you to my betters, Snoopy and Scribbles.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Here's loads of Passover stuff from last year for you to sink your teeth into. Some of the links have died, but most are alive and kicking. Tuck in.

Something else new: a nice chametz story from Daniel Sieradski.

I'll probably be using a variant of this for my sedar.