Friday, June 24, 2011

Rounding off the week

Webbery: Nayha Kalia writes on Sri Lanka's killing fields, Edmund Standing argues that the war on multiculturalism needs to be fought, Jim Denham takes on Gaddafi's foreign legion, George Monbiot names the genocide deniers, Ben Cohen reflects on the Yale antisemitism issue, Rosie deconstructs the Staggers' idiocy about the Gay Girl blog, while Marko blames the whole blogosphere, and Stuart surveys the week on the democratic left web. Three book reviews by Max Dunbar: of Owen Hatherley's Uncommon, of Owen Jones' Chavs and of Hitch-22.

75 Years In The Forward: British Colonial Minister William Ormsby-Gore reported in the British Parliament that the Arab population of Palestine has increased, mainly as a result of the increase of the Jewish population. Ormsby-Gore reported that since 1922, more than 250,000 Arabs have immigrated to Palestine. They have moved there to avail themselves of the economic opportunities that have been created as a result of the arrival of large numbers of Jews, who have settled mainly in the areas of Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem. In those areas they have created large agricultural settlements in which many Arabs work.
Music: First, some rebetika, the music of the "Greek" people dispersed from Asia Minor in the ethnic cleansing of the 1920s, as played in Israel today. Totally different, when I posted the Specials earlier this week, I somehow managed to miss George Szirtes' fantastic "A few days of ska" series. I had never heard of Slim Smith, who is great. Here's a different sort of ska, from South London:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

EDL in Cambridge

Sarah has a post at HP about the EDL in Cambridge.
I was surprised a while back when a friend told me she had been celebrating Eid at Kelsey Kerridge Sports Hall.  The reason is very simple – the current Cambridge Mosque is housed in a fairly small building on Mawson Road and cannot accommodate everyone who wants to worship there. So a new mosquehas been planned on nearby Mill Road. 
I saw today in the local paper that the EDL plans to march in protest against the new mosque on 9 July.   They explain:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Too much fighting on the dance floor

The antisemitism of good intentions, continued: Norman Geras on the Sally Hunt elcubration 123; David-Hillel Ruben's UCU resignation letter; Deborah Lipstadt on YIISA; Petronella Wyatt on dinner table antisemitism. And a footnote from Matt.

Self-hatred: Keith Kahn-Harris on self-hatred; Norm responds.

Leftists who rape, and leftists who excuse rape: Sofie Buckland on Lindsey German and rape-rape: Strauss-Kahn v. Assange; Hugo Schmidt on Germaine Greer on liberal interventionist rape.

Extreme protest: Oliver Duggan on Jody McIntyre and Ron Paul agreeing about Iran. And Gimpy on Brian Haw and the false cures of quackery (h/t Kellie).

Blue Labour: Ed Rooksby on dog whistle politics.

The Middle East: Nick Cohen on an apartheid state.

Bloggery: The Normblog profile of Rob Marchant. Rob blogs here. He also has a nice post on the virtues of "independent bloggers". I was glad to read this: "And Martin in the Margins is a well-read liberal-left independent thinker with no time for lefty dogmas (we need more of those)." And I was also glad to be introduced to Marbury.

And lots more fantastic links from Martin and some Arendtian comment trails from Noga.

Bob's beats: Andrew Calcutt on The Specials' "Ghost Town", thirty years on. More from Kellie, plus a little more Mick Jones.

The Specials - Ghost Town by EMI_Music

Sunday, June 19, 2011

EDL in Redbridge: More violence against Asians

The English Defence League marched through Redbridge and Dagenham yesterday (unusually with no police escort in Redbridge), and, true to form, they Asian local residents, one of whom had his jaw broken. More from Flesh is Grass and Hope Not Hate.

Added: And the EDL brought violence to Leeds over the weekend too (h/t WS in comments). They are due in Romford this weekend - and the same story will most likely be repeated there.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


That's 21-year old Hagit Yasou, of Ethiopian origin but from Sderot in the Western Negev, singing in Arabic on Israel's "A Star is Born" talent show. Kind of puts the X Factor into perspective. (H/t The Blank Pages)

What else? Flesh on a broader definition of antisemitism; Roland on postmodernism and the death of solidariy; Greens Engage on Cynthia and Jello; Martin on Grayling, Glasman, Ken and Noam; Paul  Anderson on libertarian socialism in a cold climate; Nick Cohen on MF Husain and censorship; Rebecca on the beauty of Jerusalem; Richard S with some Paul Mattick Jr on socialism or barbarism; the AWL for a union campaign against antisemitism and on Libya, anti-imperialism and the Socialist Party; Hikmet Karcic on the Visegrad massacre; Neil on Nazi iconography in football; Marko from the archive on the left revisionists on the Balkans; Carl on Chavez, anti-Zionism and antisemitism; Michael Walzer from the Golan Heights; James Bloodworth on George Orwell the socialist; Richard on the Heygate, Broadgate and green capitalism; Transpontine on Brixton's anti-poll tax movement; Adam Barnett on Pamela Geller the genocide denier; linkage on Ratko Mladic from Kellie and mainly but not just on Iz/Pal from Matt.

Also Darren's long series on Class War: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. I've printed it out to read properly.

And from a totally different place, I only just noticed that Ben Cohen has his own website, with media punditry here, and a blog here. I saw this, on Brixtonian Mike Jones formerly of the The Clash on Jewishness and the Libyan uprising. (Is "brogue" the right word for a South London accent?) And on Mladic's appeasers and Yale's downgrading of antisemitism scholarship.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Website of the week

I never realised that the great Cuban anarchist Tarrida Del Marmol is buried less than a mile from my house in Brockley and Ladywell cemetery. How did I miss that? On the other hand, I did know about Toulouse Lautrec in Catford.

On engagement
I missed this post by Keith Kahn-Harris on “engaging” with extremists and others, as well as on Engage and iEngage. Food for thought.

Down 'the rabbit hole of conspiracism'
Jonathan Kay, author of Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground, on the Today programme this week (h/t Gregor). Conspiracy theories cannot be refuted, he argues, because the response to counterfacts is simply to expand the scope of the conspiracy theory claim. He also suggests that the "basic structure" was laid down in the Protocols of the Elders, although antisemitic theories are now in the minority.

Wingnuts on the right
I was fascinated to read this piece from Canada’s “Stop Racism and Hate” collective about Gaddafi’s supporters in Canada. I’ve covered some of Gaddafi’s leftist friends, both the oddball Healeyite Trotskyists of yesteryear and the “anti-imperialists” of today, but less his right-wing friends. Here’s an extract:
Libyan agents began forging ties with the leaders of Canada’s extreme right in the late 1980s. Twice, the Gaddafi regime brought delegations of Canadian “white nationalists” to Tripoli, where they were feted and given cash. “The common ground was the hatred of Jews,” said Grant Bristow, who went on one of the trips in his capacity as an undercover Canadian Security Intelligence Service agent. “That was the basis of the relationship.”
The far right folk in question are Don Andrews of the Nationalist Party and his friend Wolfgang Droege, the co-founder of the Canadian Ku Klux Klan. There is an amusing bit when they discover Gaddafi is also funding the ANC...

Sticking with the reconfiguration of the far right, Coatesy has an interesting summary of caroline Fourest on Marine Le Pen.

Genocide and its denial
Marko writes that the trial of Ratko Mladic will not bring justice.
at the time of writing, not a single official of Serbia, Montenegro or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – i.e. of the regime that organised the war – nor any officer of the JNA (excluding officers of the Bosnian Serb army who had previously served in the JNA) has been convicted by the ICTY of war crimes in Bosnia. The weight of ICTY punishment has, so far, fallen exclusively on the Bosnian Serbs, while the regime of Milosevic in Belgrade and the leadership of the JNA have been mostly let off the hook.[...] As for Mladic, he was merely a middle-ranking agent in the planning and launching of this enterprise – more than a pawn, but not more than a knight or a bishop. So while his arrest and trial should be celebrated, and while we have much to expect from it, let us not pretend that justice is being served.
Mladic has some strange supporters, including Pamela Geller, who claims only a couple of hundred were killed at Srebrenica.

Also interesting is Henry Theriault on the Armenian genocide.

Genocide denial leads us logically to Noam Chomsky. Slightly out of date now, but worth reading: Talking Squid on the perfidy of the professor.

Paul Stott asks about the Red Anchor youth resistance to Nazism. And, from the archive, here's the young Robert Kennedy in Palestine in 1948, something that would have fitted well in this post about The Promise, as would these footnotes on the Farhud. (Lots more on the Farhud via Point of No Return.)

Prejudice on the left
A fascinating personal account by Falastin of the bizarre flora and fauna on the white middle-class British left.

Ziocentrism and the media
Carmel Gould on the re-balancing of Middle Eastern news coverage (in CiF of all places!). And Ron Radosh on how "leftist" (I would say "liberal") groupthink about Israel is created (using the New Yorker as an example).

Mir zaynen do: choose life
A nice talk by Deborah Lipstadt on Jews as subject rather than object.

The cities that nobody sings
The music at the top, courtesy of Brockley Dave, is by nick nicely. Wikipedia sez:
nick nicely (always spelled with lower case n) is a British musician. His music can be categorized as psychedelic rock. nicely was born in 1959 in Greenland during a transatlantic stopover by his parents, but he grew up in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, as Nickolas Laurien. [...] "Hilly Fields (1892)", released by EMI in 1982, is regarded by many as nicely's masterpiece and in spite of, or due to, its obscurity is considered in some circles as "legendary".[1] "Hilly Fields" took almost a year to complete, and the track features an obvious 1960s pychedelic influence, cello playing, the 1980s synth-pop sound and what may have been the first ever example of scratching on a non-hiphop recording. The title is inspired byHilly Fields park in Brockley, southeast London.
And according to an unofficial site, 2006's 'London South' is on Terrascope compilation 2. More from The London Nobody Sings.

Hitchin keeps cropping up in my life, most recently in relation to George Szirtes. Talking of George, who I am reading in anticipation of my first trip to Budapest, read him on Liszt and Gypsy music and on photographers exiled from Hungary.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The antisemitism of good intentions, continued

This post is around the UCU rejection of the European Monitoring Centre’s Working Definition of antitsemitism. Engage has lots of great stuff at the moment, including Talking Squid’s great “Are you antisemitic?” flowchart, Simply Jews’ call for action against the new antisemitism in the UK (Francis’ comments below it recommended), and Adam Langleben at Left Foot Forward. On very closely related issues, here's Philip Mendes on the left, antisemitism and anti-Zionism in Australia. Below the fold are extracts from two longer pieces worth your attention.

Counterpunch is, er, controversial

I am continuing my edit wrangle at Wikipedia on the Counterpunch article, where a couple of editors who believe that Israel harvests Palestinian organs exercise a very high degree of "ownership" over the article, deleting any possible suggestion that Counterpunch is anything other than on the side of the angels. To that end, I am just pasting here a sentence that was deleted from the article, and the sources cited, for the record. In a while, I will return to the article and try another way of saying this and see what happens.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I'm not racist, but...: further thoughts on links and comments

We have already discussed at some length in several different comment threads some of the ethical, political and practical issues of dealing with racism in comment threads and so on. Two very different but related developments have made this stuff more pressing for me. This post briefly reflects on that, and is probably only of interest to regular readers, and so I'm putting it below the fold.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Big lunch in the rain

This post is for Brockley Dave.

I had a wonderful Brockley weekend. In Saturday's glorious sunshine, I was on Hillyfields at the Brockley Max festival. Some galleries here. Thankfully, no Gilad Atzmon playing this year, and I didn't manage to lose any of the kids I was in charge of this year. Didn't realise that excellent new local business Hills and Parkes would have a food stall, so bought a Turkish picnic from the TFC in Lewisham. Brockley Max is now in its 11th year, and testament to the level of communal and creative energy down here.

Then Sunday was Big Lunch day. Lewisham is the world capital of big lunches, apparently. There were several in my area. In what estate agents are now calling "Crofton Park Village", Peter the butcher (a local hero) had a busy day supplying meat to the barbecues, and there were bouncy castles across Honor Oak Park.

Unfortunately, the weather was not so good. (I blame David Cameron for corrupting the word "big".) The street I was on we had a cake competition, rum punch, a pub quiz, a salsa lesson, a raffle and some gorgeous food. It all got a bit British by the end, sheltering under the gazebo, but wonderful nonetheless.

If you have a Big Lunch story you'd like to share, please do in the comment thread.

Here's Marlin Chops, who headlined at Brockley Dave's big lunch ("despite gazeebo galore the equipment and band was in danger from water getting in"), doing a not bad version of one of my favourite songs, all too apt given the weather.

And here's my ruminations and second thoughts about the big lunch and the big society.

Monday, June 06, 2011

New Jewish Resistance: Fighting Zionism and Anti-Semitism, Defending Pan-Semitic Unity

I don't have enough blogging time at the moment, but I just came across this via WW4Report. Not sure what to think. I don't like the idea of "Pan-Semitic", but kind of interesting no?

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.

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.