Take a Left to Corbyn’s Hamas.

July 14, 2015

There is increasingly a bizarre section of the Left that often fights so hard in Western countries for equal rights and for the fall of oppressive power structures, but that completely abandon those principles if the abusers of those principles happen to dislike Israel or the US. Indeed in this case, the hatred for Israel is so penetrating that liberal values are shelved in order to join hands with those with an equal hatred for Israel regardless of motives or aims. The values of the enemy of the enemy are either pushed aside entirely, or excuses are made for them, highlighting wonderfully that which Bertrand Russell referred to as the fallacy of the superior virtue of the oppressed. Jeremy Corbyn did this in 2009 shown in the video above, in which he – now famously – refers to Hamas as his friends.

Corbyn was scrutinised on these hideous comments last night by Krisnan Guru-Murphy, whereby he deflected blame onto the media outlet for doing their job by scrutinising him – a man standing for leader of a Party, and hoping to be Prime Minister – rather than Israel. He goes on to insist that he only meant that Hamas should be brought to the table for discussions on peace. Which is of course contradicted, given that in the same video from 2009 a few moment later, Corbyn goes further and comments on their principles by insisting that Hamas are – and yes, he seriously says this – dedicated to “social justice” and “peace“. On Channel 4, Corbyn when questioned says:

“The wider question is Hamas and Hezbollah are part of a wider peace process. Even the former head of Mossad says that there has to be talks involving Hamas.”

– A wonderfully creative deflection; simply tell the interviewer what he should be saying in order to take attention away from yourself. I’m sure when you’re scrutinised for claiming an organisation dedicated to re-establishing a Theocracy over the entire region, is rabidly homophobic, and teaches kids to hate Jews.. is actually “dedicated to social justice“…. the ‘wider discussion’ becomes one in which attention is deflected from you.

One wonders which of his friends in Hamas are committed to “social justice” and “peace“. Perhaps it was Hamas’ former Minister for Culture Atallah Abu Al-Subh, who gave a sermon in which he states:

“The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth, because they have displayed hostility to Allah.”

– Or perhaps he’s close friends with those beacons of social justice over at Hamas’ Ministry of Refugee affairs, when asked to comment on the UN’s plan to include teaching the horror of the holocaust to Palestinian refugee children:

“We cannot agree to a programme that is intended to poison the minds of our children…Holocaust studies in refugee camps is a contemptible plot and serves the Zionist entity with a goal of creating a reality and telling stories in order to justify acts of slaughter against the Palestinian people.”

– Or perhaps he enjoys a friendly chit-chat with Hamas MP Ahmad Bahr, who – dedicated to “peace” as he most definitely is – said:

“If the enemy sets foot on a single square inch of Islamic land, Jihad becomes an individual duty, incumbent upon every Muslim, male or female. A woman may set out (on Jihad) without her husband’s permission, and a servant without his master’s permission. Why? In order to annihilate those Jews. Oh, Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters.”

– Everyone knows we liberals should support anyone who believes land is to be owned and controlled by one single religion, that women require permission to go out the house, that servants and master’s is an acceptable social hierarchy, and the death of anyone who doesn’t fit its narrative. It’s “social justice” after all. Or perhaps Corbyn is really close friends with Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar, a man who in 2005 described his theocratic dream:

“We are part of Allah’s promise that Islam will enter Palestine and every home in the world, with a revelation of the power of Allah the Omnipotent, and a revelation of the inferiority of the infidels. Hamas is leading this plan in Gaza, the West Bank, and the 1948 territories, and the Muslim Brotherhood is leading it everywhere else. This is part of Allah’s predestination.”

– This, by the way, is the same Mahmoud Zahar whose idea of “liberation” doesn’t extend beyond his own sexuality, referring to the LGBT community as:

“…a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”

– The LGBT community of Palestine – completely abandoned by people like Corbyn – who are just as Palestinian, as anyone else there, just as entitled to civil protections and human rights, are obviously not to be considered in this “liberation” movement for Palestinians, given that in April 2011, Hamas’s Al-Aksa TV presented Syrian Writer Muhammad Rateb al- Nabulsi, who grotesquely said:

“Homosexuality involves a filthy place, and does not generate offspring. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of the homosexual. That is why, brothers, homosexuality carries the death penalty.”

– Back to Mahmoud Zahar. Zahar who spoke at the funeral of suicide bomber responsible for the murder of four people Reem Riyashi (an attack that attracted widespread criticism in Palestine, including by her own brother-in-law) to say:

“She [first Hamas woman suicide bomber] is not going to be the last because the march of resistance will continue until the Islamic flag is raised, not only over the minarets of Jerusalem, but over the whole universe.”

– This, by the way, is the same Mahmoud Zahar – co-founder of Hamas – who explained what it is he doesn’t like about Israel, and reflected the words of Hamas’ Charter:

“We don’t recognize the state of Israel or its right to hold onto one inch of Palestine. Palestine is an Islamic land belonging to all the Muslims.”

– If Jeremy Corbyn was any sort of liberal, democratic, secularist, he would denounce Hamas as a theocratic organisation using terror as a means to an end. That end being the submission of the entire region for the privilege of one sect of one religion. A homophobic, misogynistic, anti-Semitic death cult that cannot and will not rest until the land and everyone in it is wholly owned by a religious sect of thugs. To call them his “friends” is one thing, but to misrepresent them as dedicated to “social justice” and “peace” is a betrayal of both liberal principles, and the human beings who would – and do – ultimately suffer at the supremacist hands of terrorist groups like Hamas.


Tim Wise: Misrepresenting Hamas.

April 27, 2015

There is a tendency – since passions are high in the debate – for the partisans on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict to creep into the realms of bigotry to make their case. With anti-Semitism on the rise across the World, it is sad to see those who ordinarily stand against bigotry and privilege, crossing the line into a subtle anti-Semitism in order to strengthen their position. To highlight this, I had noticed that Tim Wise – the usually excellent anti-racial privilege writer – had attempted to completely rewrite the goals of Hamas, downplaying their bigoted & supremacist intentions and history, in order to strengthen his own position:

timwise
– Here, Tim Wise has compared the goals of Hamas to the goals of Einstein and secularists. He stops at that. Hamas want an end to a Jewish state. This is a wildly simplistic and manipulative re-imagining of what it is Hamas actually wants; the basis of which is articulated – contrary to any secular thought processes – in Article 14 of Hamas’ Charter declares:

“For Palestine is an Islamic land…”

– A reader with a basic grasp of 20th Century European & Middle Eastern History will understand that far from having anything in common with secularism – or Einstein, who supported a bi-national state that favoured no single group or religion above any other – Hamas and their ideological struggle – as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood – are the product of 1930s/40s Western Fascism infused with a delusional sense of religious ownership of land.

Far from the implication that Hamas share common goals with secularists, in reality, Hamas are an extension of the political far-right, fused with religious dogma; an obsession with a global Jewish conspiracy, that has its birth in Medieval Christendom, perpetuated hideously by the Catholic Church – especially in Germany – only to be exported by the Nazis, and Haj Muhammad Amin el-Husseini – Grand Mufti – to the Muslim World in the 20th Century, and appropriated by the Brotherhood. For the Mufti, anti-Semitism was a religious duty. For the Fascists, it was a socially racist necessity. The mixing of the two gives us Hamas. Mahmoud Al-Zahar of Hamas epitomises that link perfectly. As well as insisting that religious persecution of Jews throughout history, is there own fault (a victim-blaming narrative entirely), al-Zahar had this genocidal warning for the future:

“…there is no place for you among us, and you have no future among the nations of the world. You are headed for annihilation.”

– The desire to eradicate Jewish people has been the thread (and often successful – as with the massacres in Baghdad, of Jews in 1941) that has held Brotherhood offshoots – like Hamas – to the Mufti’s ideals and the Brotherhood since its early days. Indeed, in the 1920s, the Grand Mufti – prior to his support for the holocaust – disseminated literature that included the phrase:

“O Arabs, do not forget that the Jew is your worst enemy and has been the enemy of your forefathers.”

– Further, as the Nazi’s were making their way through Egypt in the mid-1940s, the Mufti was given free reign to air radio broadcasts direct from Berlin. In one example, he stated:

“kill Jews wherever you find them for the love of God, history and religion.”

– Alongside the Mufti, the Muslim Brotherhood were instrumental in translating both the anti-Semitic forgery ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and ‘Mein Kampf‘ into Arabic, and continue to spread both. Hamas references the Protocols in its Charter here:

“Their scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there.”

– The Brotherhood obsession with a global Jewish conspiracy is reflected not just with Hamas, but also in Egypt – the birthplace of Islamism (not Saudi, as many believe) – after the fall of Morsi and his Brotherhood supporters. Both sides of the fight for power have accused the other of being ‘Jewish’ and attempting to implement the Protocols. Hamas continues to do the same.

Contrary to Wise’s misrepresentation, Hamas’ Charter doesn’t simply call for the end to a “uniquely Jewish State“. Allow me to highlight exactly what Hamas’ Charter states:

“As to the objectives: discarding the evil, crushing it and defeating it, so that truth may prevail, homelands revert [to their owners], calls for prayer be heard from their mosques, announcing the reinstitution of the Muslim state. Thus, people and things will revert to their true place.”

– It continues:

“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it.”

– Waqf, in this context, means owned by that single religion. Hamas’ opposes a Jewish state, because it believes the entire region must be subjected to the rules and regulations of their one sect of their one faith. They are religious supremacists. This is reflected in how they police areas in which Hamas has control. For example, Shaul Ganon, of Agudah, a gay rights group in the region, said:

“I know of two cases in the last three years where people were tried explicitly for being homosexuals,they were both beheaded.”

– But what about any peace initiative? Any at all:

“[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion.”

– Unless a peace initiative is designed to completely eradicate Israel, with power in the hands of one religion, and its believers, Hamas are not going to support a peace settlement.

“Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the nonbelievers as arbitrators in the lands of Islam. Since when did the Unbelievers do justice to the Believers? “And the Jews will not be pleased with thee, nor will the Christians, till thou follow their creed. Say: Lo! the guidance of Allah [himself] is the Guidance. And if you should follow their desires after the knowledge which has come unto thee, then you would have from Allah no protecting friend nor helper.” Sura 2 (the Cow), verse 120 There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.”

– Here, the reason given for opposing a secular and inclusive structure to a Palestinian settlement, is the Jews, and Christians. It is backed by a victim narrative. The Charter isn’t finished with simply declaring the entire region Islamic – and all who live in it, which never ends well for the LGBT community or apostates forced to live under such brutal Theocracies – it then explains who its enemies are. You’ll perhaps note that it has very little to do with an Israeli occupation, and far more to do with the ethnicity of the people, as is consistent with a Brotherhood/Nazi obsession with eradicating Jews:

“Within the circle of the conflict with world Zionism, the Hamas regards itself the spearhead and the avant-garde. It joins its efforts to all those who are active on the Palestinian scene, but more steps need to be taken by the Arab and Islamic peoples and Islamic associations throughout the Arab and Islamic world in order to make possible the next round with the Jews, the merchants of war. “We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loves not corrupters.” Sura V (Al-Ma’idah—the Table spread), verse 64.”

– Hamas’ issue with Israel is not simply with perceived oppression in the territories, but with Jews in general. Hamas, in Article 32 of their Charter, calls upon Muslims across the World to oppose the Jewish population, as a precursor to a religiously-ordained ‘next round’ with the ‘merchants of war’.

Article 7 of Hamas Charter quotes Bukhari:

“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 (cited by Bukhari and Muslim).”

– Two key themes run through Hamas’ Charter, as ran through the Muslim Brotherhood’s purpose. Firstly, the entire region must be brought under the control of one religion. A Theocracy. Secondly, supported by their own interpretation of religious dogma, and mixed with 20th Century fascism; Jews are the enemy. Not Israel. Jews. To both ends, Hamas uses the same anti-Semitic propaganda, the same victim of Jewish aggression narrative, the same Jewish global conspiracy narrative, and a call to fight Jews, to further its end-goal of the region entirely engulfed by their particular brand of religious supremacy. Hamas inherited and furthered the 20th Century Islamist & Nazi narrative. They have nothing in common with secularists. For Tim Wise to downplay the role of religious supremacy and its Fascist origins in Hamas’ Charter – and thus, downplay almost a century of genocidal Brotherhood intentions that inform Hamas – is so vastly dishonest, offensive to the principles of secular liberty, and quite clearly crosses the line into anti-Semitism.


Stop The War Coalition: How to be a good Jew.

August 13, 2014

There is a wonderful scene from the sketch show comedy ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’ in which Jesus is telling his disciples the story of ‘The Good Samaritan’. Half way through, one of the disciples perceptively notes the inherent racism of the story. The fact that a Samaritan doing something ‘good’ – by Jesus’s standard – warranted a story, implies that Jesus doesn’t consider Samaritans good in the first place. As if it’s a big shock that a Samaritan could do a good deed. I was reminded of this clip this morning, after reading David Wilson’s article for The Stop The War Coalition.

Wilson’s article blurs the lines between two separate issues, as if they’re one in the same. He begins his piece by mentioning the protests against recent Israeli action in Gaza, before quickly switching to the issue of existence of a state of Israel in the first place:

“Numerous Jewish groups joined the march. They marched as Jews to show their opposition to the state of Israel, which for 66 years has endlessly stolen Palestinian land and imposed the most brutal occupation and siege on Palestinians. Jewish marchers saying “not in my name” included, the Jewish Bloc, The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Jews Against the war on Gaza.

These Jewish marchers were part of a long and honourable tradition. Many prominent Jewish figures over the past century — from Albert Einstein to holocaust survivor Primo Levi — have opposed the idea of an ethnically exclusive Israeli state.”

– There is a manipulation going on here. Those Jewish protesters – such as “Jews For Justice For Palestinians” – marching to protest Israeli foreign policy in 2014, are conflated with more radical groups like The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and names from the past who to some degree disapproved of a state of Israel existing in the first place (though the article massively oversimplifies Einstein’s beliefs). Despite the plethora of views represented, they are one long tradition, according to Wilson. This is clearly not the case, when we note what “Jews For Justice For Palestinians” say on their website:

“Jews for Justice for Palestinians is a network of Jews who are British or live in Britain, practising and secular, Zionist and not. We oppose Israeli policies that undermine the livelihoods, human, civil and political rights of the Palestinian people.
We support the right of Israelis to live in freedom and security within Israel’s 1967 borders.”

– Despite Wilson’s implied unity between Jewish groups at the march, and the list of Jewish names he throws forward opposing the existing of the state of Israel, “Jews For Justice For Palestinians” represent a web of views from the Jewish community, and support the existence of a state of Israel. Conflating the two – Israeli policy toward Gaza in 2014, and the existence of a state of Israel in the first place – betrays Wilson’s willingness to manipulate the thoughts and motives of a diverse community for his own ends, used to strengthen his own prejudices. Blurring the lines between the two issues also allows for the false suggestion that those of us critical of the STWC tactics and rhetoric are in fact using the cry of anti-Semitism at any criticism of Israeli policy in Gaza. I’ve seen that excuse a lot recently.

The obvious conclusion most of us would make, is that the Jewish community – like atheists, Christians, Muslims, tall people, people with blue eyes – are a vast group of individuals, all with different beliefs, motives, experiences, memories, from different cultural, economic, and social settings, differing hugely at some points or with more nuanced differences at others depending on the issue. From left to right, from orthodox to non-practicising. This is true of all communities, not worthy of a story in itself, and so I’d suggest Wilson’s article – a sort of patronising “this might surprise you…” article – is his very own ‘Good Samaritan’ moment.

After manipulating the thoughts and motives of such a vast and diverse group to appear to confirm his own ideals, Wilson then goes about creating a false dichotomy that only digs his increasingly anti-Semitic hole much, much larger. Those Jewish folk who opposed the existence of a state of Israel, he refers to as “honourable“. The good Jews, if you will. The implication being that if Jewish folk do not oppose the existence of a state of Israel – or as it seems, disagree with David Wilson – they are less than honourable. The bad Jews. Wilson’s own political beliefs are now the benchmark to judge the ‘honour’ of the entire Jewish community against. A framework of right and wrong for Jews alone, with the moral base being David Wilson’s own political beliefs. If they conform to Wilson’s beliefs, they get a spot at the ‘honourable’ Jew table. In the meantime, he’s prepared a handy “look at these good Jews!” list for Jewish folk everywhere to aspire. It isn’t a new dichotomy, it has its roots in a view of Jews as inherently bad, and has been commented on by Ilana Angel of New Jersey Jewish News:

“It is offensive when people say I am one of the ‘good Jews’. What does that mean? Is the implication that Jews are bad people, but I managed to somehow not be? Is there a private club of ‘good Jews’? How do you qualify to make it into this elite group of chosen people?”

– This is what David Wilson’s article works to accomplish. At first, it blurs the lines between two completely separate issues, secondly it manipulates the plethora of views of the Jewish marchers to seem to be in line with his own, and thirdly it creates a dichotomy of good and bad, right and wrong, based entirely on his own political thoughts. In short, if you’re Jewish, you might want to check with David Wilson at The Stop The War Coalition to find out if you’re the right kind of Jew or not. If you’re lucky, he might even pat you on the head.


Israel & Gaza; It isn’t “being selective” that is the issue…. it’s the motive for the selection.

August 11, 2014

I’ve been writing on this blog for several years now, and every now and again I’ll be asked “why do you focus so much on….” The question is usually followed by “Islam?“, “Christianity?“, “God, even though you don’t believe in Him?“, “The GOP?“, “Tories?“. And for the most part, those people are right. It’s not a big selection of issues that I tend to focus on. I am selective. I focus on religion, because I’m a secular atheist interested and critical of all things religion. I focus on the US Republicans, because I find their shift to the far right to have created an intriguing atmosphere in US domestic politics. I focus on the Tory Party, because, well, I don’t like them. It’s that simple. I am selective. But I’m clear in my motives and my prejudices and on such issues that don’t have a clear right or wrong, I expect a lot of disagreement from others.

In Owen Jones’s latest article for The Guardian on the rise anti-semitism, I tended to agree with much of what he wrote, but some of it I found to be more excuses for his own recent motives. He was correct when he points out that during the protests, a section of the Western right-wing attempted to paint all of those attending, as anti-Semites, which completely dilutes the term ‘anti-semitic’. It was a hideous misrepresentation of many well meaning people with genuine concerns and a wish to see the end of immense human suffering in Gaza. Where Owen slips up, is in his characterisation of the criticisms that I and others have regarding the selective outrage of sections of the Western left. Owen writes:

“The response of many supporters of Israel’s attack has been instructive. In a world where there is so much injustice and bloodshed, they say, why not march against the sectarian murderers of Islamic State (Isis) or Boko Haram? This is known as “whataboutery”: an attempt to deflect from one injustice by referring to the suffering of others. Some defenders of Israel’s governments believe the supposed special attention received by the conflict is itself evidence of antisemitism. But Israel’s atrocities attract this attention because the state is armed to the teeth and backed by western governments, rendering them directly complicit; IS and Boko Haram, on the other hand, are (quite rightly) opposed by our rulers. Demonstrations and protests are generally a means of exercising influence over supposedly democratically accountable governments.”

– This paragraph highlights my point throughout this debate entirely. It’s probably worth noting that taking issue with Owen’s selective outrage does not make one a “supporter of Israel’s attack” nor a “defender of Israel’s government“. To subtly hint at such, is as ridiculous as suggesting that criticism of Israeli policy, comes from “supporters of Hamas“. It is not worth dignifying with a full retort.

Next, the entire paragraph is irrelevant in an article on the rise of anti-Semitism, there is no reason to include it, and so I suspect the entire article was written as a response to the criticisms Jones has faced in recent weeks. (Mehdi Hasan attempted a similar excuse, which I wrote on here.) It also fails, because whilst he’s correct that demonstrations and protests are a means of exercising influence over a government, there’s no reason – nor precedent – for protests being solely connected to whom the UK/US/West funds and/or arms. The conclusion to his paragraph therefore, does not follow from his overall argument. Protests against the Sri Lankan Civil War urged World leader’s to push Sri Lanka to declare ceasefire. Their motivation wasn’t that the UK had grotesquely sold almost £14mn in arms to Sri Lanka in the recent years of the conflict (that knowledge came later), it was a concern for human rights and a possible genocide. The Global Day of Action for Burma did not include in its demands any reference to funding being the sole justification for their protest, and instead focused on raising awareness and working to pressure governments of the World into taking action. The ‘Stop Kony’ fad of 2012 – whilst it didn’t achieve its key goal, and was doubtless a fashionable fad for many rather than a protest – did achieve significant goals. It raised awareness, leading to Human Rights Watch saying:

“We’ve spent years investigating the horrors perpetrated by the LRA in central Africa – Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan. We gathered evidence at massacre sites – wooden clubs covered in dried blood, rubber strips from bicycle tires used to tie up the victims, and freshly dug graves – and spoke to hundreds of boys and girls forced to fight for his army or held captive as sex slaves. And we’re elated that #stopKony is a trending topic on Twitter – if anyone deserves global notoriety it’s Kony.”

– It also led to Senators Jim Inhofe and Chris Coons raising the issue in the US Senate and pledging the US’s support for governments in Africa trying to track down leaders of the LRA. It led to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees noting an unprecedented reaction to the atrocities and new commitments to stop the LRA. To a large extent, it worked. Mobilising, protesting, using the power of social media, and all forms of pressure do not require first analysing the financial transactions of the UK. Which leads me to point two:

I am not keen on this new excuse that amounts to a sort “we don’t fund them, so we’re not that fussed” reaction. This is not how the international left traditionally went about its business, and as seen with prior protests, has not been a major theme. It didn’t strike off the list all of those human rights abusing nations or groups that weren’t receiving Western aid. It wasn’t a primary concern, and I’m not sure why it is now. It is also a badly crafted excuse and I don’t buy it as the real motive. Pakistan is one of the biggest recipients of bilateral aid, with a large chunk from the UK, despite Pakistan’s violent grip on Balochistan, to no protests whatsoever from the Western Left. The US funded the gangland regime in Honduras for years, which in turn created a brewing humanitarian crisis on the US/Mexico border with very little registering on the US Left. Afghanistan with its awful Shia Family Law, corruption within the PA, Congo, Jordan, the list goes on, and the murderous, oppressive regimes receive little protest from the left. It is a self-evidently weak excuse, and still fails to do its job, because the selective outrage is still applied inconsistently. Those conflicts may involve the US to a degree (when isolated from all other context), but they don’t directly involve Israel, so the outrage may be limited to a few words of condemnation, in perhaps a Tweet or two about how it’s all the US’s fault. I would also argue that this inconsistency and a tendency to single out Israel under a daily microscope, whilst making excuses for that, has fuelled the rise of the very anti-semitism Jones now rightly argues against.

Thirdly, my criticism is not that Owen and others like him are selective in their outrage. We all do that. I do that. Whether on foreign issues like Gaza, or domestic issues like the Bedroom Tax, we’re all selective and we all have our motives for being selective. Being selective is not a negative in itself. It would be ridiculous of anyone to demand we register equal protest and outrage at every conflict in every part of the World on every single day. That appears to be what Owen believes we’re doing, but it simply isn’t the criticism I have. I am clear with my criticism, and it is based on motive. Motive drives us all in how we select, and that is no different for that particular section of the Left. My criticism is that there is a significant section of the Left that increasingly selects its moral outrage and how it chooses to protest, on the basis of whether or not the crisis and the victims can be used as a vehicle to progress a rabid anti-US/UK/Blair/Israel sentiment. Through this, I am frustrated by their rewriting of history to filter out surrounding context, by underplaying the contribution to the crisis from figures other than the US/UK/Israel, by sharing images that do not show what they purport to show, and articles that are far less than accurate and cannot be dismissed as simple oversight. The motive is not primarily concern for victims (though I don’t doubt that concern for victims plays its part, I’m not suggesting Owen’s section of the Left lacks empathy), nor is it the traditional Left’s motive of fighting oppression where ever it is found. It is the cynical use of conflicts, to progress the underlying narrative of anti-US/Israel/West, that forms the bases of my criticisms.

When such a dogmatic motive for a very narrow narrative lies just beneath the surface, it may not be formed through conscious bigotry, but it manifests itself in simplistic analysis, and manipulative rhetoric that perpetuates bigotry (see Galloway’s recent comments). As previously mentioned, Mo Ansar played to that crowd when working to underplay the devastation caused by Hamas rocket fire. This is also evident in Owen’s past articles. For example, in his article entitled “Why the left must speak up about the persecution of Christians” – a noble fight – it doesn’t take Owen long to simplistically blame the US and UK, betraying the original point of the article:

“It is, unsurprisingly, the Middle East where the situation for Christians has dramatically deteriorated in recent years. One of the legacies of the invasion of Iraq has been the purging of a Christian community that has lived there for up to two millennia.”

– Yup. It’s the West’s fault. For the rest of us, it is the ‘legacy’ of a plethora of causes, that to an extent includes the incompetent conducting of and the aftermath of the invasion, the sectarian and disuniting policies of Maliki’s government, but those are given their strength by religious turmoil for centuries including the massacre of Assyrian Christians in the 1930s, private funding for groups like ISIS from donors elsewhere, Saddam’s relocation of Christians away from strategic resources and an emphasis on the notion that Christians are to be ‘tolerated’ in those areas, rather than considered equal. It is not simply ‘legacy of invasion, blame the US’. The problems are rooted far deeper. The context far wider.

When it came to the crisis with the self-titled ‘Islamic State’ – ISIS – in Iraq, the focus for Jones was another overly simplistic analysis, in which surrounding context can just be dismissed, in a quest to blame the US/UK. This time, the self-serving motive was less subtle: “We anti-war protestors were right; the Iraq invasion has led to bloody chaos”. It’s almost as if there wasn’t bloody chaos – a couple of genocides, nothing to see here – prior to the Iraq invasion. In his incredibly reductive analysis, Jones chooses to ignore the Iraq that Saddam left behind devoid of any semblance of democratic institutions, a massive Syrian civil war, ignore the Arab Spring, ignore a power play between Saudi Arabia – seeking to weaken Maliki whilst also opposing Jihadists at home – and Iran in Iraq & Syria, ignore what seems to be support for anti-Shia groups in Syria from private donors in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, ignore a largely heavy handed Shi’ite security force in Iraq, ignore the fight for a resurrected Caliphate from extreme elements within Islam for decades (it’s difficult to blame Blair for the popularity of al-Nabhani’s ideas and the strength of Hizb in the 1980s/90s across the globe), ignore centuries of sectarianism (including Saddam’s hideous massacre of around 100,000 Shi’ite Muslims in and around Karbala and al-Najaf a year before Blair took over as leader of Labour), ignores al-Maliki’s sectarian governance, ignores a weak Iraqi constitution, ignores the tensions between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. All surrounding context is filtered out, because it doesn’t indicate a line directly from Blair to ISIS.

So, we can discount the ‘we fund them’ excuse, because it doesn’t seem to extend far beyond Israel, and still leaves us with the same criticism of the motives for selection. We can discount the ‘we protest to pressure the government’ because that is the case with most protest movements regardless of whether or not we fund the culprits. We can discount the ‘whataboutery’ complaint, because it isn’t the criticism we actually have in the first place. My conclusion remains the same; there is a purpose in working to oversimplify conflicts in the manner that the Galloway-left often does. Being selective is not the issue. The motive is the issue. In this case, ‘being selective’ is focused entirely on how a crisis can be used to progress an anti-US/Israel narrative. Manipulated and reductive history, dismissal of all surrounding context, blatantly false or emotive images and information, and awful excuses, are all utilised to that end. And I’m fine with that bigoted motive, if only they’d admit it, because at the moment it gives the rest of us on the Left a bad name.


Israel & Palestine: The underlying racism.

July 26, 2014

For most, it is doubtless the case that what fuels their interest in the conflict in Gaza and Israel, is a desire to see a peaceful resolution, with the region secure for all who live on the land. I have no doubt that the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians just want to live a peaceful co-existence. But for others – including many in the leadership of both Israel and Palestine – the fuel is Messianic conquest; a desire to see the region controlled by their faith and their faith alone. Basic civil rights and protection of the people are a secondary concern. With this religiously motivated superiority complex, comes a familiar dehumanisation process aimed at those deemed to be the enemy. This comes from both sides of the aisle.

In the Arab world, it takes just one inoffensive cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad to spark off a campaign of violent reprisals. Yet, Arab-Muslim media outlets daily print cartoons portraying Jews (not Israelis) in the most offensive tone possible. The caricatures of Jews follows centuries of anti-semitism from the Catholic Church, appropriated by the Arab World. In 2002, Tishrin in Syria printed a cartoon of the Statue of Liberty smashed to pieces and replaced by a statue of a Jewish stereotype; a man with a long beard, and hat, crooked nose, holding the Torah in place of the Constitution, suggesting a Jewish takeover of the United States. In 2005, Al-Yawm in Saudi Arabia published a photo of the Jewish star of David interlaced with the words “Born to Kill”. In Qatar in 2006. Al-Watan published a cartoon of crooked nosed monstrous-looking villain chiseling a star of David underneath the Dome of the Rock. Most hideously of all, the website of the Arab European League published a cartoon of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank, and the caption: “Write this one in your diary, Anne“. The racist cartoons published by the Arab press help to perpetuate a narrative that has existed for centuries, that insists that Jewish people are inherently evil, seeking to dominate the World (ironic, given the oppressive dominance of Islam over the functions of state in many of those countries). In 1543 Martin Luther wrote:

“I have read and heard many stories about the Jews which agree with this judgment of Christ, namely, how they have poisoned wells, made assassinations, kidnaped children, as related before. I have heard that one Jew sent another Jew, and this by means of a Christian, a pot of blood, with a barrel of wine, in which when drunk empty, a dead Jew was found. There are many other similar stories.”

– Blood libel, caricaturing the Jewish people as inherently monstrous and murderous. This hasn’t stopped. It simply moved to a new form of media. Cartoons, alongside educational material in Palestinian textbooks for children that frame Jewish folk as the enemy, and horrifying pictures posted almost daily on social media of those killed in the Syrian civil war, reframed to look as if they were killed by Israeli troops. Also on social media, we see those deeply partisan few posting completely false statements by Israelis, to give credit to their deeply partisan comment:

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– The irony of this specific Tweet, is that the quote is massively exaggerated, and works to perpetuate racist narratives that portray Jews as seeking complete domination. The Ben Gurion letter is a blueprint for his Zionist vision, and anti-Arab in tone. But the quote above, is wildly inaccurate and works to suggest a much more violent tone to the letter. Ben-Gurion – According to ‘Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting In America’ (CAMERA) actually said:

“We do not wish, we do not need to expel the Arabs and take their place. All our aspirations are built upon the assumption — proven throughout all our activity in the Land — that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs in the land [of Israel]. And if we will have to use force, not for the sake of evicting the Arabs of the Negev or Transjordan, but rather in order to secure the right that belongs to us to settle there, force will be available to us.”

– The blatant misrepresentations, the cartoons, the pictures from other conflicts that someone somewhere has sat and purposely manipulated, are all a continuation of centuries of anti-semitism, and it all plays into the hands of a group like Hamas, whose main goal isn’t the safety and security of the Palestinian people (their method of using civilians as shields for their weapons is evidence enough of that), but complete dominance of the entire region that they’re convinced was divinely ordained for they alone.

This racist and supremacist attitude is of course not restricted to the Arab side of the conflict. In Israel, Professor Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University studied 124 school textbooks on history, citizenship, and literature, concluding that the textbooks of the 1950s through to the 1970s told of an ancient industrious land of Palestine, ruined by the Arabs, and now to be saved by the returning Jewish people. Bar-Tal says the textbooks insisted that Jewish people were there primarily:

“…improving the country in ways they believe the Arabs are incapable of.”

– Bar-Tal goes on to say that the Israeli textbooks were portraying Arabs as:

“…tribal, vengeful, exotic, poor, sick, dirty, noisy, colored”
“…they burn, murder, destroy, and are easily inflamed.”

– Eli Yishai – ex-Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, and former leader of Shas – grew up as these textbooks that worked to dehumanise the Arab population of Palestine were prevalent. It is no surprise that Yishai now has an awful lack of consideration for human beings in Gaza. In 2012, Yishai said:

“The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years.”

– This horrendous attitude was reflected by Gilad Sharon – son of Ariel Sharon – who also in 2012 said:

“We need to flatten all of Gaza. The American’s didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough – so they hit Nagasaki too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.”

– It takes a special kind of desensitisation to human suffering in order to advocate the comple ‘flattening’ of a city, invoking the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as desirable. Further, a poll of students in Israel conducted in 2010 by Israeli research institution Maagar Mochot, found that over half of those surveyed believed Arab-Israelis should not be banned from election to the Knesset. The majority of those who wished to see Arabs banned from the Knesset, were very religious, whilst almost half of secular Israeli teens also concurred that Arabs should be banned. Therefore, almost half of the secular students surveyed, along with a vast majority of religious students supported the institutionalisation of racism.

The lack of moral decency from the racists on both sides isn’t confined to a few supremacists. It is entrenched in media outlets, it shapes the debate, it ensures a new generation are ingrained with the same hatred through school textbooks, it goes viral on social media, it pushes ordinary people to embrace the extremes like Hamas, it empowers the religious supremacists, it serves a victim mentality used to justify sadistic acts of violence against innocents, and so by extension, it prevents a peaceful resolution.


Mehdi Hasan and the nature of complicity.

July 17, 2014

The horrifying stories and pictures coming out of Gaza as Hamas launch rockets indiscriminately across the border, and Israel bombard the isolated region resulting in innocent lives lost and fear gripping both sides, rightfully strike at our collective sense of humanity. But it is the romanticised notion of a David and Goliath situation, and the bizarre attempts to either refuse to acknowledge the crimes of Hamas (upon Palestinians as well as Israelis), any wrongdoing whatsoever on the Palestinian side, or to explain away anti-Israeli sentiment whilst willfully silent on abuses elsewhere when they crop up, that seems to be the centre of the Galloway-left response.

Mehdi Hasan’s article for Huffington Post, entitled “We Single Israel Out Because We in the West Are Shamefully Complicit in Its Crimes” was one such attempt to justify a moral compass that only swings into action on human rights and oppression, when it involves Israel or the West in general, isolated from all surrounding context. Hasan says:

“According to the likes of Ben-Ami, there are much more vile regimes, and more violent groups, elsewhere in the world. Why pick on plucky Israel? What about the Chinas, Russias, Syrias, Saudi Arabias, Irans, Sudans and Burmas? Where are the protests against Isis, Boko Haram or the Pakistani Taliban?”

– The criticism from ‘the likes of Ben-Ami’ is a correct one. Western faux-liberals are essentially silent on the crimes of ISIS or Boko Haram, or Hamas. If they do offer criticisms, it’s very quickly glossed over with a criticism of the US or Israel. A sort of “Yeah ISIS is bad, but Blair…” mentality. There are very few willing to stand up for those lives threatened and lost due to blasphemy laws across the religious World, instead having a collective meltdown whenever someone publishes a cartoon of Muhammad. There isn’t a care in the World for the people of Balochistan. The hideous treatment of the LGBT community in the Middle East and Uganda only gets a passing mention by Hasan in a horrifyingly self serving article, in which they’re just a tool to explain to the reader why he doesn’t consider himself a homophobe. Mehdi goes to great lengths to explain why it is he feels the need to focus so much time and energy on Israel. I don’t buy his excuses.

One of Hasan’s ‘complicity’ points in his new article, is that Israel is funded to a large degree by the US. This is of course true, but it is also true – to a much less extent, but still represents ‘complicity’ in the same form – of the Palestinian Authority. By 2010, the main contributors to the Palestinian Authority – amounting to around $1.8bn in 2008, and $1.4bn in 2004 – were the EU and the US. This, despite a ‘Middle East Monitor’ (MEMO)report on widespread corruption within the PA. MEMO, referencing an EU report, quotes a figure of $2bn in aid to the PA, lost to corruption. It quotes a Kuwaiti newspaper in 2005, that accused Arafat of transferring large amounts of aid money to foreign bank accounts. A senior official at the Ministry of Finance in Palestine was caught trying to flee to Jordan with $100mn. In 2012, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights released a report accusing the Palestinian Authority of:

“…inhumane practices and human rights violations.”

– In 2013, blogger Anas Awwad – a critic of the PNA – was arrested and charged with “extending his tongue” against the policies of the PA and President Abbas. Similarly, Ismat Abdul-Khaleq – a lecturer at a university in the West Bank – was arrested for criticising Abbas. If the EU and US is complicit in the crimes of the Israeli leadership, which in turn means we should single out Israel, then they are also complicit in the crimes of the Palestinian leadership , as are those offering their unquestioning support for the Palestinian leadership, and so by implication, we should single the PA leadership out too. A leadership that has enriched itself, to the detriment of the Palestinian people.

According to the World Bank, Pakistan is one of the biggest receivers of US aid, with $3508.6mn in 2011 alone. Why no outrage at the Pakistani treatment of the Baloch region? Why very little mention of the millions displaced people from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas? Are we not complicit in that and should we be therefore singling Pakistan out for special criticism? Should we be less outraged, because less money (even though it’s still a huge amount) is given to Pakistan than Israel? If so, by Mehdi’s standards, we should be marching on London right this second.

In 2011, $977.8mn of US aid went to Jordan. Human Rights Watch reported that Jordan had been turning away Syrian refugees who happen to be of Palestinian heritage, or sending them to holding camps near Ramtha, simply for being Palestinian. Jordan also prohibits the right to convert from Islam. Are we not complicit in that too? Should we be singling out Jordan for their anti-apostasy laws, and their ill treatment of Palestinians?

The Democratic Republican of Congo received $5532.5mn in US aid in 2011, despite torture of civilians by authorities, and members of the army using rape as a way to punish those from communities they dislike. Are we complicit with those too, and should Hasan therefore be more vocal in his criticism?

Let’s also not forgot that George Galloway handed £25,000 to Hamas live on TV a few years back. That was in 2009. On April 7th 2011, Hamas shot a Kornet anti-tank missile at a school bus in southern Israel, killing 16 year old Daniel Viflic. If even a penny of that £25,000 went to procuring the missile that killed Viflic – or any act of violence since 2009 by Hamas – Galloway is complicit, and Hasan remains silent.

Hasan goes on to ask:

“Which other country is in receipt of $3billion a year in US aid, despite maintaining a 47-year military occupation in violation of international law?”

“Which other country’s prime minister could “humiliate” – to quote the newspaper Ma’ariv – a sitting US vice-president on his visit to Israel in March 2010, yet still receive 29 standing ovations from Congress on his own visit to the US a year later?”

– Well, they’re very specific comparative criticisms. He’s right. No other country has maintained a 47-year military occupation, receiving $3bn in US aid. However, that particular crime (and it is a crime) doesn’t negate the crimes of other nations receiving similar amounts. It’s just one specific crime he mentions. For example, Whilst the US gave just over $3bn in aid to Israel in 2012, it gave over $12bn in economic and military aid to Afghanistan in 2012. This, despite Aghanistan’s National Security Agency accused of torturing suspects, and harassing journalists, and despite the LGBT community facing long jail terms and despite Karzai signing into law the hideously misogynistic ‘Shia Family Law’. Israel may be occupying a region, but in Afghanistan, religious supremacists occupy the entire country, by enshrining its unjustifiably privileged position into the function of state. To rephrase Hasan’s question, which other country is in receipt of $12bn in US aid, despite enshrining religious supremacy to the point where women and the LGBT community are relegated to second class, and criminals?

He’s also right again. No other Prime Minister received 29 standing ovations after humiliating the Vice President. Because that’s a very specific criticism. However, according to Kenya News Online and The Daily Caller, President Karzai humiliated the President of the United States, more than once. Very specific comparative criticisms posed in this way, do not add any credit to the overall point, and appear weak when placed into context.

Indeed, we could also argue that statements Mehdi has made in the past (non-believers lacking intelligence, living like animals, whilst Muslims have the moral high ground), render him complicit in the perpetuation of religious supremacist narratives that continue to manifest as human rights abuses. Complicity, like every other point of debate in the Israel and Palestine conflict, is easy to use against those so deeply partisan on the subject on both sides. In this case, the argument from Mehdi did not seem to be a high quality, well reasoned argument, solely because that wasn’t its aim. Its aim was to absolve Mehdi of his inconsistent moral compass, that lays dormant until a global event that involves Israel or the US appears, at which point, his moral compass spins wildly out of control.


Stop underplaying Hamas’s rocket attacks.

July 11, 2014

Those innocent lives lost as a result of Israeli attacks on perceived Hamas locations in Gaza are not the victims of just one side, they are the victims of both sides and the fact that both leaderships find it easier to hurl rockets at each other, to provoke each other, than they do to negotiate a settlement that protects all civilians in the region. They are the victims of the failures of leadership not just in Israel and Palestine, but the international community also. Too often, those seeking to highlight the plight of the Palestinians and the misery caused by occupation and bombings, try hard to underplay the misery caused by those in groups like Hamas seeking to kill as many as possible.

A couple of days ago, Mohammed Ansar posted this:

mopalestine
– I see variants of this theme all too often. The image of an apparent Hamas rocket on a barely scratched road implies a pathetically inconsequential capability from the group. When Ansar chooses a picture of a charred road, rather than a picture of dead or injured Israelis to highlight what happens when a rocket from Gaza strikes Israel, he does so consciously, the image of one rather than the other is chosen for a purpose, and so the image Ansar shared works only to dehumanise those victims of Hamas’s rockets in the past, and the recent terror inflicted upon those in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, Eshkol, Sderot and more, by subtly hinting that those rockets do no real damage. Ansar then posted pictures of the bodies of victims of Israeli bombs in Gaza. This works to downplay the horrific consequences of rocket fire by Hamas (dismissed as a charred road), whilst highlighting the horrific consequences of the bombings by Israel. The political motivation of such a hideously manipulative tactic, is fuel for the fire of groups like Hamas, and when emulated on the opposite side, fuel for the fire of religious fanatics in Israel.

Contrary to Mo Ansar implying impotence of Hamas rocket fire, between 2001 and 2012, 64 people have been killed by Hamas’s rockets and hundreds more injured, whilst over 4000 in Sderot alone are treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In 2004, a nursery school in Sderot was the victim of a Qassam rocket, that killed Mordechai Yosepov, 49, and Afik Zahavi, 4. Hamas then claimed responsibility for an attack that wounded 30 and killed Yuval Abebeh, 4, and Dorit Benisian, 2 in Sderot.

In July 2006, the town of Ashkelon was hit when a rocket from Gaza struck a school – empty at the time, thankfully – and destroyed classrooms. In March 2008, again in Ashkelon, a rocket injured seven people. In May 2008, another rocket into Ashkelon hit a shopping mall, with four treated for severe injuries, 15 for minor injuries and 87 for shock. Most shockingly in Ashkelon, Iman Shefi – a Palestinian woman from Beit Lahiya – was in an Israeli hospital in Ashkelon, having given birth to two premature babies. Whilst in hospital, Hamas rockets were fired directly at it. Shefi said:

“I was scared that the rockets would hit the Ashkelon hospital where my two babies are.”

– Given the awful situation that Iman Shefi and her children (who are both safe and well) found themselves in, and being from Gaza too, she showed real class and integrity, and a sense of common cause with those affected by Hamas’s bombs in Israel when she said:

“I dream that my children will not have to go through what I have had to, that they will grow up in an era of peace. I pray that the residents of Sderot will not be angry with us. I sympathize with their suffering and don’t want them to be harmed, but we are victims as well. We have no control over the Hamas. They do as they please, in contradiction of the Quran. I do not want the Hamas in power, but I am not sure that Abu Mazen can stop the shooting.”

– Hamas do not care the heritage, or age of those they purposely hurl rockets at. The aim is to kill.

On March 18th 2010, a rocket claimed by both Ansar al-Sunna, and Fatah’s militant wing, al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades killed Thai national Manee Singmueangphon. He was working at an agricultural community in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Fifty other Thai nationals were treated for shock.

On April 7th 2011, Hamas shot a Kornet anti-tank missile at a school bus in southern Israel, killing 16 year old Daniel Viflic. On August 20th 2011, Hamas fired 64 rockets into Gaza, in which 500,000 people rushed to bomb shelters, and 38-year-old Yossi Shoshan of the town of Ofakim, and on his way to ensure his 9 month pregnant wife was safe, ended up killed. The same day, a four month old baby was badly wounded, as well as a 9 year old boy. On October 29th 2011, Moshe Ami of Ashkelon was killed after suffering serious shrapnel wounds as a result of a rocket sent from Gaza by Hamas.

Between March 9th – 15th 2012, Hamas and other groups in Palestine fired 300 grad missiles into Israel. In less than a week. 23 people were injured, 11 whilst fleeing in terror, for cover. on October 12th, the militant “Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem” fired a rocket into Israel, which exploded in the garden of a family home, and sent shrapnel into a child’s bedroom. Two were taken to hospital for acute stress reaction. A little over a month later, on November 15th 2012, Mirah Scharf (25), Itzik Amsalem (24), and Aharon Smadja (49) were killed by a rocket attack on an apartment in Kiryat Malachi. Mirah Scharf was a female emissary to New Delhi in India, and had come to Israel to give birth, when she was murdered by terrorists. Ahron Smadja was a father to an eight month old baby girl. The residents of the building were running for any cover they could find, as the rockets flew over, killing three of them.

As well as Mo Ansar, Owen Jones writing for the Guardian says:

“The macabre truth is that Israeli life is deemed by the western media to be worth more than a Palestinian life.”

– He then goes on to reverse his point:

“Israel under renewed Hamas attack”: this was last night’s BBC headline on the escalating bloodshed in Gaza. It is as perverse as Mike Tyson punching a toddler, followed by a headline claiming that the child spat at him.”

– All those killed, injured or terrified mentioned above over the years, are flippantly dismissed here as similar to the inconsequential spit of a child on a heavyweight boxer.

Let’s stop playing the “who kills the most” game, because it isn’t a game. Each civilian death must be regarded as an unacceptable tragedy regardless of which side of the border they happen to reside, for any serious discussion on peace to be workable. Each death is the responsibility of the leadership on both sides. Each death reaffirms the failures of the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, along with the international community, in coming to a negotiated settlement. The partisans who post insensitive and dehumanising comparisons like the one above, work only to provide fuel for those who seek no peaceful resolution, believing their side to be the sole victims of the aggressive opposite, when the reality is that both leaderships – for decades – shoulder the blame as the people they are supposed to be protecting continue to suffer.


The rights of Palestine.

July 8, 2014

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The history of modern revolutions is one in which – more often than not – oppressive regimes are threatened and overthrown by the forces of self-proclaimed ‘liberation’ whom themselves become the new oppressive regimes. The Cuban revolution replaced the US backed heartless and brutal regime of Fulgencio Batista, with the vicious and oppressive long lasting Castro regime. The French revolution sought to liberate the country from the excesses of monarchy, and resorted to Robespierre’s reign of terror, swiftly followed by Napoleon. The US revolution attempted to enshrine the concepts of human liberty, and the pursuit of individual happiness and did so to a great extent, whilst the Founding generation held slaves and extended democratic rights to propertied white men only (John Adams; the nation’s second President, warned against extending the vote to women). It is for this reason – the replacement of one form of deep oppression with another – that I tend to be reluctant to support a Palestinian state under its current leadership.

As a blogger on secularism and religion, I’m often asked about my thoughts on the Israel & Palestine conflict and which side I find myself on. I’ve neglected to write much on the subject, because I find it a difficult question to answer, whilst simultaneously a simple question to answer. It is a particularly difficult and confusing subject, where the balance of my opinions change from week to week.

It is a difficult question – not least because whatever you say on the subject, someone somewhere takes great offence in a way that no other subject can elicit – because I understand the grievances of both. I understand that Israel is a nation surrounded by nations that wish it extinct, that rockets are fired daily across its borders (today, a rocket from Gaza was intercepted over Tel Aviv), that its establishment (whilst poorly designed and implemented) was the result of historical oppression from Russia to Germany including centuries of anti-Jewish bigotry spewed by the Catholic Church, Mahmoud Abbas’s constant reference to Israel as Muslim and Christian only, and that the Arab press is horrifically racist in its representations of Jewish people as rats controlling some sort of hidden global conspiracy. I understand the paranoia and suspicion driving Israeli policy.

Equally, I understand that the Palestinians have a perfectly reasonable claim to the land and I find it hard to disagree with a ‘right’ to return though recognise how completely unrealistic Israeli acknowledgement of that ‘right’ is to any settlement deal. I understand that recent Palestinian history has been marred by forced removal as well as fleeing in fear from land, their chaining to a strip in Gaza and treated as prisoners, the Israeli right wing who have nothing less than viciously racist views that dehumanise Palestinians enough to make awful policy in the occupied territories palatable. Netanyahu’s deliberately provocative statements in the past, that the Palestinians suffer daily not only from the threat of Israeli bombs dropping around them, but from being used as shields by Hamas, and that the ceaseless building of settlements is a daily provocation. Indeed the average Palestinian is stripped of their natural human dignity by the political squabbles of the fanatical religious leaders of both sides of the argument. Earlier this year, Wajih al-Ramahi – a 15 year old Palestinian boy – was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers at the Jalazone refugee camp, for what seems to be no justifiable reason. This sort of crime – and the fear of this sort of crime – is a brutal reminder to the Palestinians that they are not free, and whose lives and liberty are to be treated as occupied and owned indefinitely by Israel.

However, It is an easy question, because my answer is; I take no side on this. I am critical of those who openly support Israel’s provocative policy of settlement development in the West Bank and defend their violent overreactions, and I am critical of those on the Western Galloway-left that are willing to abandon the principles of human rights, civil liberties, and freedom regardless of sexuality, faith, gender, belief and ethnicity if it means tacitly supporting any group that refers to itself as liberators fighting Israeli aggression.

I do however support the establishing of a state of Palestine. I feel I need to make that clear, because it seems that if you register concerns about the details of a future Palestinian state, you’re accused of abandoning the Palestinians in their fight for freedom, when in fact, the opposite is true. For the freedom of all Palestinians, the methods, and goals of their leadership requires thorough analysis and critique. To ignore those methods and goals, regardless of how oppressive they are, for the sake of supporting any reaction against Israel, is to abandon that freedom for a lot of Palestinians.

So, to be clear; my view is that the Palestinians have a right to be free, to self determination, to statehood, and to protection from oppression. That means all Palestinians, not simply Muslim, heterosexual Palestinians. The problem is, that isn’t what the Palestinian leadership has ever promoted. For that reason, it continuously amazes me just how willing Western ‘liberal secularists’ are to abandon their principles and overlook the stated goals and crimes of Hamas, in the quest to form a state of Palestine. The crimes of Hamas, are articulated by Amnesty:

“The human rights violations perpetrated … have included killings of fugitives, prisoners and detainees, injuries caused by severe physical violence, torture and misuse of weapons, the imposition of house arrest, and other restrictions that have been imposed on civil society organisations.”

– It is inexplicable given the circumstances, that anyone claiming to be of the left in the West, would support – in any form – the further enshrining of power for groups like Hamas. It cannot be considered an ‘ends justify the means’ situation – despite a lot of liberal secular Westerners claiming their reluctant support for Hamas is based on – because the end goal for Hamas is not a free state of Palestine, but a state as far removed from democratic, secular liberalism as possible. Indeed, Article (6) of Hamas’s charter notes:

“The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinct Palestinian Movement which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine. Only under the shadow of Islam could the members of all regions coexist in safety and security for their lives, properties and rights.”

– Throughout Hamas’s charter, are references to the region being Islamic by divine right, and their goal to ensure all in the region are tied to it. Hamas’s reason for being, isn’t to ‘free’ Palestine, it is to chain Palestine to Hamas’s interpretation of a single faith. Secular liberals cannot reasonably offer any support to Hamas given their aims, methods, and public declarations. Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, co-founder and senior leader of Hamas, described gay people as being:

“…a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”

– The rights of the LGBT community are not going to be protected in a Palestinian state with Hamas allowed a say in its foundation and constituting. Any defence of Hamas – any defence whatsoever – by those claiming to be secular or liberal, is an insult to those of us who are.

As well as Hamas’s goal being the subordination of the entire region to Islam, President Abbas tends to be just as provocative and hints at religious war for Jerusalem being an obligation on all Muslims when speaking directly to Muslims in Palestine (rather than an international audience, at which point, he advocates two states). For Abbas, this is a religious conflict. In 2010, on Al-Jazeera, Abbas said:

“I say to the leaders of our Arab nation and to its peoples: Jerusalem and its environs are a trust that Allah entrusted to us. Saving it from the settlement monster and the danger of Judaization and confiscation is a personal commandment incumbent on all of us.”

– Abbas is clear with his “Judaization” anti-Semitic rant; the land belongs to Islam. A revolution to replace one oppressor, with another. Jerusalem has of course been occupied by Jews, invaded by Christians, invaded by Muslims, and should in the 21st Century be open to all to visit and enjoy, not controlled by one faith. I find it impossible to support the establishing of a state whose leadership is infected by religious supremacists. If Hamas achieved their stated aims tomorrow, I would suggest that the tacit support for their cause and defence of their actions from those Western secular liberals over the years, would shroud any future complaints of Hamas’s human rights abuses in a deep sea of hypocrisy, by those who were willing to turn a blind-eye to atrocities and Hamas’s commitment to further abuses, pre-statehood. What good is an international liberal left, if it is only willing to voice concerns over the oppressive nature of a state, after it has facilitated the establishment of the same oppressive state?

The basic law established in 2002 as a proposed constitutional framework for a future Palestinian state and enacted by The Palestinian Legislative Council enshrines one religion, and binds all who live in the proposed state of Palestine, to that one religion in some form, whilst offering the impression of freedom for all. Its authors therefore have assumed for themselves the privilege of state supremacy for one faith:

“The principles of the Islamic shari`a are a main source for legislation.”

“Arabic is the official language and Islam is the official religion in Palestine.”

“The Palestinian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations.”

– This privilege for one faith cannot be an acceptable source of law making for anyone claiming to be a secular liberal. The implication is clear; a Palestinian state is to some degree an Islamic state. The two are to be considered inseparable. This is where I tend to part company with many of my fellow liberal secularists who seem unwilling to question, or worse, to offer tacit support to such a framework of state.

For me, Statehood must not precede human and civil rights, on a secular, liberal framework. Liberal, secular, civil rights and protections must precede statehood. The rights of all Palestinians – be they Muslim, Christian, atheist, Jewish, male, female, heterosexual, homosexual, transgender, Hindu, old, young – must be the starting point of any framework for statehood, with no privilege granted to any single faith.

Enshrining religion into the fabric of a new state brings with it human and civil rights abuses that are evident in the nations that enshrine Islam in the Middle East, and Christianity in Africa, regardless of assurances of “human rights protections”. In Jordan, the state inhibits the right to convert from Islam, does not recognise Baha’i marriages and the King has to be Muslim. In Lebanon (arguably the least oppressive Arab state in the Middle East), the right to legally change gender is prohibited, there are penalties for blasphemy, and Buddhists and Hindus are not allowed to marry. A Palestinian state must not enshrine the oppression of any group, must uphold civil rights with respect to belief, sexuality, gender, ethnicity and the basic right to expression and secular education. At the moment, the Palestinian leadership is far from a force for liberation, severely lacks respect for basic rights, and is extremely oppressive.

In 2012, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights released a report accusing the Palestinian Authority of:

“…inhumane practices and human rights violations.”

– In 2013, blogger Anas Awwad – a critic of the PNA – was arrested and charged with “extending his tongue” against the policies of the PA and President Abbas. Similarly, Ismat Abdul-Khaleq – a lecturer at a university in the West Bank – was arrested for criticising Abbas. Hamas enforced the wearing of the headscarf for all women entering government buildings. The Palestinian Education Ministry is run by Osama al-Muzayni, on his watch, schools in Gaza City have begun teaching children to speak Hebrew as the “language of the enemy”. The BBC found that at one schools in Gaza City, whilst the girls were quick to speak of the enemy of Israel and learning the language so they’ll know if an individual Israeli wishes to harm them, only one in thirty of the girls had actually met an Israeli. As well as not trusting the Palestinian leadership with the liberal and secular civil rights of all, I do not trust them with respect for free expression of the opponents of their policies, nor with the educating of vulnerable minds away from perpetual conflict and hate.

Palestinians are all who live on the land – regardless of gender, faith, ethnicity, sexuality, hair colour, eye colour – Palestinians are not a single religion or a single sect of a religion or a single history. Nor are adherents to one single religion inherently privileged above others. Nor is adherence to one particular religion enough to qualify those believers to legislate and punish others according to its dictates whilst enshrining their own privileg. For me it is simple; there can only be the illusion of human and civil rights, unless a constituted Palestinian state protects all, and privileges none. Palestinians have the right to self determination and a state of their own, with secure boarders and protected civil rights free from fear. Palestinians have a right to a state. Islam doesn’t.


The Blue Eyes of Saudi Arabia

September 14, 2013

Try to imagine for a second how you would react, how you would feel, and how every day would be for you and your family, if you were born with blue eyes, in a Country that not only viciously stigmatised those with blue eyes as an unforgivable perversion against nature, but that nation also tortured, and sometimes executed those caught with blue eyes.

Try to imagine, if the basis for the hate directed at you for having blue eyes, was a 7th Century book of myths. That, because that 7th century book of myths told a story of a city that God burnt to the ground for being full of people with blue eyes, even though that story has no basis in historical fact, you would forever be linked with the inhabitants of that city, and considered the enemy of God, regardless of the content of your character.

The Saudi Arabia UN Delegation made this plea to the UN earlier this year:

“Moreover, the Human Rights Council in last June condemned the Syrian regime on the violations of the Syrian people human rights. Any delay from the international community to take action means more suffering for the helpless Syrian people helpless.”

– It would seem from the rhetoric that Saudi Arabia cares deeply for applying international pressure for the sake of human rights. But it is quite simple to turn this Saudi call for action in Syria for human rights abuses, right back around to face Saudi Arabia itself. And the Delegation would be correct; any delay from the international community to take action in Saudi Arabia over its horrific record on human rights, means more suffering for the victims of the crime family that currently rules that country.

One simple paragraph from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: 2007-2008 offers a prime example of just why politically religious folk should never be allowed power over the apparatus of a State, nor over the lives of its inhabitants especially its children, in an enlightened World. The barbaric nature of their law:

“Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage…. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– It seems almost as if this is an attempt at an ironic art work. Because for a faith that believes their Prophet flew on a very fast magic flying horse to heaven and met Jesus, to claim to be able to speak confidently on anything pertaining to ‘sound nature’ is either an ironic art work, or the start of the most hypocritical speech in religious history. When it comes to the “unnatural”… religions have that one covered almost exclusively.

Either way, that one nasty paragraph – that completely misunderstands ‘sound nature’ – should be enough for those who profess to believe in the cause of social justice and human rights, to focus the majority of their time and efforts on freedom for Saudi Arabia. Currently, students are banned from school and university, if they are suspected of being gay. It isn’t just intense and violent homophobia today in Saudi Arabia that is the problem, it is the systematic attempts to instill into the vulnerable minds of children, that hate is acceptable. It is an attempt to poison those vulnerable minds with violent witchcraft and the acceptability of oppression rather than universal rights and biological fact.

For some odd reason, we do not treat this blatant abuse of the most fundamental rights, in the same way we would if we were to exchange the word “homosexuality” in the above, to “having blue eyes“. Both are part of a natural spectrum that we have no control over, and yet they are treated completely differently, despite being very similar. I would suggest that if the above paragraph from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks were to specify punishment for those with blue eyes, instead of homosexuality, there would be far more outrage both for the country in question, and the faith that spawned it. Here:

“Having blue eyes is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for persons with blue eyes, is death. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that those with blue eyes are to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– This paragraph, if enshrined into a Nation’s law, should not shock us anymore than when it said Homosexuality, and yet I am certain that it would. The ‘companions of the Prophet’ would be ignored as a product of their time not to be taken seriously today. I am certain that the World would act to ensure that a scientifically as well as historically untrue basis for such a law, were thoroughly discredited and pressure exerted to ensure the law never made it to any statute book, as a grave abuse of basic human rights.

But, when it is applied to homosexuality, it is often dismissed as a “cultural” difference by cultural relativists whose respect for the dignity of life and individual rights, are not universally applied and must come second when considered alongside violent Theocratic considerations. Tradition seems more important than rights. As if tradition and ‘cultural differences’ are an acceptable excuse for the fact that in the year 2000, Saudi Arabia executed three Yemen men for what it deemed the:

“…obscenity of homosexuality and imitating women.”

– By ‘imitating women’, I’m guessing they don’t mean having to cover everything with the exception of hands and eyes, and another male having ‘guardianship’ rights over her, like a piece of property, nor married off to dirty old men at the age of 9.
In 2005 over 100 men were arrested and sentenced to flogging for:

“behaving like women.”

In 2002, three men were beheaded for being gay.
In 2007, two gay men were sentenced to 7000 lashes, for being gay.
– However we dress it up; this is torture and murder and it is a flagrant disregard for even the most basic of rights; to life itself. We cannot imagine the fear that gay men and women must face every day in Saudi Arabia. Religion does not prevent homosexuality, just like religion would not prevent blue eyes. Because religion has no explanation for nature. It has unsubstantiated, tribal myths, and nothing more. And when nature outgrows religious explanation, religion resorts to violently repressing nature, instead of looking inward and accepting it might be the faith that is flawed.

Gay Palestinian men often risk their lives fleeing into Israel, where they feel far safer and respected, than in the deeply illiberal, Theocratic Palestinian territories. According to a BBC World Service Outlook report, one man fled Gaza to Israel after his family found out that he was gay. The man said that police in Palestine had beat and tortured him.

In 2011, police in Afghanistan publicly humiliated a man dressed in women’s clothes. The victim is seen on film with eyes tearing up as the officers humiliate him. The man says:

“Please have mercy, don’t make fun of me.”

In 1998 in the southern town of Kandahar, the Taliban ordered three gay men buried, with their heads sticking out of the ground, and a wall pushed on top of them by a tank… for the crime of being gay.

The Iranian Constitution states:

“Sodomy is a crime, for which both partners are punished. The punishment is death if the participants are adults, of sound mind and consenting; the method of execution is for the Shari’a judge to decide.”

– Imagine the international backlash, if that Constitution noted that “having blue eyes is a crime“. This constitutional addition has lead to 4000 gay men and women stoned, hanged, beheaded, thrown alive from tall buildings, and set on fire, as legally sanctioned punishments for being gay in Iran. But, because the precedent is set in certain Hadith, for some odd reason it takes on a form of respectability and credibility that those who aren’t Muslim, seem to feel must be respected to a degree. Why? It isn’t acceptable, and the words and deeds of religious figures that give these punishments the life they have, are also completely unacceptable.
One Hadith in question is particularly grotesque and must be condemned as such:

“Narated By Abdullah ibn Abbas : The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.”

– If God creates people who happen to be gay, or who have blue eyes, and then demands stigmatising and punishment for those people, it is extremely problematic to label this God anything but a being that enjoys playing violent games with human lives, like rearing ants so that eventually you can point a ray of burning light through magnifying glass at them, and still demand that those tortured ants worship you for such ‘mercy’. This is a cruel Being with no redeeming features.

Secondly, there is no Qur’anic law or rule demanding the murder or torture of gay people (A similar thing cannot be said for the Bible). We could of course point to Sodom – in both the Bible & Qur’an – but, given that no evidence has ever surfaced to suggest this story is based in fact; it’d be like using Narnia for evidence that kids and lions make excellent rulers. And so if any law comes from the (completely unsubstantiated; as all Hadith are) words or deeds of the Prophet, I’m afraid those Muslims who endorse such man made laws, that in no way relate to the Qur’an, are guilty of a sort of idol worship, which of course is a grave sin for that particular faith. It is only through completely unreliable Hadith – reflecting the prejudices and scientific, and social ignorance of the time and place, along with the imperial structure of that particular time and place in history – that gay men and women in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations are persecuted so horrifically.

Whilst every move Israel makes is remarked upon, condemned, and watched with an unmovable eye from both Western Muslims, and a vast portion of those on the Galloway-Left whose ‘cultural relativist’ position is strangely less active when it involves Israel; the most vile regime in Saudi Arabia quietly carries out public lashings, torture and executions of anyone who doesn’t fit its very narrow vision of what it’s 7th Century book demands, with very little real anger from the rest of the World.

My position is quite simple. If your religious text claims universal and timeless truth, upon which it advocates death for any natural trait, be it homosexuality, or blue eyes… your religious text should not be taught to children, should not be allowed to influence policy, should be criticised, shamed, and satirised at every possible opportunity, and deserves not a single shred of respect. Any Nation that puts that text into political practice, must be the focus of united international condemnation from those who claim to have even an ounce of respect for the dignity of human rights and social justice. There is no acceptable excuse for the torture, and murder of anyone with blue eyes.


Galloway: When you defend Hamas…

July 28, 2013

George Galloway is working on a documentary to ‘expose’ the Blair administration as what he perceives to be ‘war criminals’. It might therefore be worth remembering the odious, anti-secular, violent, homophobic, misogynistic religious far-right war criminals that Galloway happily and publicly supports and funds.

In 2009, Galloway delivered an address in Gaza, in which he proudly states that he will be funding Hamas. Here:

“I, now, here, on behalf of myself, my sister Yvonne Ridley, and the two Respect councillors – Muhammad Ishtiaq and Naim Khan – are giving three cars and 25,000 pounds in cash to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Here is the money. This is not charity. This is politics.”

Later, Galloway insisted he actually doesn’t fund Hamas at all. It was all – presumably Western, Zionist, Neo-Con – lies:

“I didn’t give any money to Hamas, I gave it to the ministry of health in Gaza to pay for the salaries of the doctors and nurses who hadn’t been paid. By the way, we’re talking about 20 odd thousand pounds, not millions. It’s a symbolic donation. I gave it to the ministry of health in Gaza and I’m proud to have done so.”

He goes on:

“Maybe the Americans, the British, the Israeli’s don’t recognise Ismail Haniyah as the Prime Minister of Palestine, BUT WE recognise Ismail Haniyah as the Prime Minister of Palestine.”

– This horrendous sentiment summarises just why Galloway must be considered of the Islamist far-right, rather than of anything even slightly left. Ismail Haniyah referred to Osama Bin Laden as a ‘Muslim warrior’ whose soul ‘rests in peace’. Haniyah is also imperialistic, believing the entire region Islamic by divine right. He believes that peace with Israel can only come about, if they agree to give up Jerusalem, for no other reason, than being under the delusion that his particular fairy-sky man divinely ordained it for Muslims. If support for violent Islamist imperialism, based on faith is what passes for ‘left’ in the 21st Century, keep it.

hamas
– So flippant. So ignorant. “For all their mistakes”. This is a wonderful way to so effortlessly underplay the violent imperialism, so contrary to liberal, left wing ideals that Galloway at other times professes.
Incidentally, “for all their mistakes” is better articulated by Amnesty:

“The human rights violations perpetrated … have included killings of fugitives, prisoners and detainees, injuries caused by severe physical violence, torture and misuse of weapons, the imposition of house arrest, and other restrictions that have been imposed on civil society organisations.”

– Oh just simple mistakes then. Nothing to stop Galloway funnelling money to the leadership thereby perpetuating the inherently oppressive nature of Hamas.

When you defend Hamas by flippantly dismissing their guiding principle of Theocratic imperialism, you defend violence against other religious minorities in the West Bank, simply for being non-Islamic.
In 2006, a Christian YMCA was burnt to the ground in Hamas-controlled Qalqiliya, by Hamas members. The Christian’s ‘crime’? Being missionaries. A petition had previously been sent to local authority, by Muslim groups demanding:

“We the preachers of the mosques and representatives of major families in Qalqiliya ask you to close the offices of the YMCA because the population of Qalqiliya doesn’t need such offices, especially since there are not many Christians in our city. The act of these institutions of the YMCA, including attempting to convert Muslims in our city, will bring violence and tension.”

– It isn’t just in the West Bank that Christians must be fearful of how the Galloway-funded imperialists running the show might treat them. Imad Jelda, an Orthodox Christian who runs a Youth Training Centre in Gaza, said:

“People here do not celebrate Christmas anymore because they are nervous. The youth in particular have a fear inside themselves.”

– This, after Hamas worked to ensure no Christmas tree would be allowed any more in Gaza City, and Christmas no longer celebrated as a public holiday. Families are split, as Christians travel abroad to enjoy their freedom, leaving older family members in Gaza, unable to celebrate Christmas alone, and unable to celebrate with their dearly missed loved ones. This is the reality of the group Galloway chooses to fund.
But his own logic, appears to contradict his actions. Despite his deep involvement and love affair with the Hamas leadership, when talking to a caller on the subject of underrage marriage in Saudi Arabia, Galloway said:

“What happens in Saudi Arabia is none of your business. It is your business, what happens in Britain.”

– Well, George, what happens in Palestine is none of your business, and yet you seem more than happy to be funding a group that willfully attacks and threatens the rights of minorities. Galloway is of course very hypocritical, but a typical Islamist. Anything that gets in the way of Theocratic dominance, is deemed to be “imperialism”, whilst Islamist imperialism, is defended, and promoted.

When you defend Hamas by flippantly ignoring their guiding principle of Theocratic imperialism, you defend their murder sprees.
If then, you happen to be George Galloway, your 2005 election victory speech seems to be laden with hypocrisies:

“Mr Blair, this defeat is for Iraq and the other defeats that New Labour has received this evening are for Iraq. All the people you have killed and all the loss of life have come back to haunt you and the best thing that the Labour Party can do is sack you tomorrow morning.”

– The key to this, is his focus on innocent lives lost. Well, then we must play by Galloway’s standard. Let’s remember that Galloway not only defends Hamas, he also willfully funds them. This, despite knowing that a year prior to his 2009 funding effort, three Hamas members blew themselves up at Kerem Shalom border crossing, injuring thirteen people. Any attacks, following this, and following his funding effort, Galloway must shoulder some responsibility for, if we are to play by his own logic.

For example, a year after Galloway so whimsically and joyfully funded Hamas, the imperialist group attacked an Israeli settlement near Kiryat Arba, in which Tali Ames, a woman nine months pregnant was murdered along with her partner. They had a five year old child. Kochava Even Chaim was also killed. She was a teacher, with an 8 year old child. Hamas hailed the massacre of pregnant women, and a teacher with a young child, as a “heroic operation”.

Galloway then, knew of Hamas violence, and innocent deaths prior to funding them. He then funded them. And more pointless deaths, achieving nothing, occurred. By his own logic, George Galloway – a man who funds a group who find the murder of mothers, and pregnant women to be “heroic” – is partly responsible for the deaths of those people. He funds a group that wish to establish power for one faith, over the lives of all others. I hope, by his own words, the loss of life, and those killed, haunt him. I doubt they will.

When you defend Hamas by flippantly ignoring their guiding principle of Theocratic imperialism that seeks to cage those who don’t fit its narrow spectrum of 7th century moral teachings, you defend the increasing crackdown on human liberties throughout Hamas-controlled areas.

Those of us on the progressive, liberal, secular side of the aisle, support – and incidentally, “Respect” – the right for human beings to love whomever they wish without oppressive and grotesque ideologies forcing those people to live in fear of their lives. Gender is irrelevant. We must always support LGBT rights as natural human rights considered sacred, and oppose those who wish to oppress. Galloway-funded Hamas, incidentally, seek to harm those who aren’t exactly like them, in abhorrent ways, according only to the dictates of their single faith. For example, Shaul Ganon, of Agudah, a gay rights group in the region, said:

“I know of two cases in the last three years where people were tried explicitly for being homosexuals,they were both beheaded.”

Dr. Mahmoud Zahar (seen stood next to George Galloway in this video a co-founder and senior leader of Hamas, described gay people as being:

“a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”

– Does this fall under the flippant “for all their mistakes” that George Galloway thinks isn’t important enough to warrant his express condemnation, and cessation of funding? Where is Galloway’s outrage at the imperial, anti-human rights, destruction of all things those of the left should be fighting to protect against?

It isn’t just gay people that Galloway’s friends over in Hamas have issues with, and believe they have a divinely ordained right to harm. Predictably, for Islamic Theocrats, they don’t particularly like women either.
In 2009 (the year Galloway chose to fund Hamas) the feminist, secularist writer and journalist (those who we on the Left should absolutely be showing solidarity toward) Asma al-Ghul was detained by Hamas, for the terrible crime laughing loudly, around male friends, and not wearing a Hijab. al-Ghul says:

“They also wanted to know the identity of the people who were with me at the beach and whether they were relatives of mine.”

– Subsequently, the men who were with her, were detained, and beaten. This was in July, 2009. Galloway funded Hamas earlier that year. Perhaps his money went to paying the salaries of the Hamas officials who beat men, for hanging around with a woman who dared to laugh.
In March this year, the UN cancelled a planned Marathon in Gaza, because Hamas banned women from participating. Hamas Cabinet secretary, Abdul-Salam Siam said:

“We don’t want women and men mixing in the same race. We don’t want any woman running uncovered.”

– George Galloway therefore, funded a group dedicated to Patriarchy and controlling women.
A month before George Galloway stood in solidarity with the Hamas leadership, promising them funds, Amnesty reported:

“Hamas gunmen have shot dead at least two dozen men since the end of December last year. In the same period, scores of others have been shot in the legs, subjected to severe beatings which caused multiple fractures and other injuries, or otherwise tortured or ill-treated, according to evidence given to Amnesty International. ”

“Most of the victims were abducted from their homes; they were later dumped – dead or injured – in isolated areas, or were found dead in the morgue of one of Gaza’s hospitals. Some were shot dead in the hospitals where they were receiving treatment for injuries they sustained in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza’s Central Prison.”

– Presumably George Galloway saw this, and thought…. “Yes! Abducting people from their homes, shooting them in the legs, dumping their bodies in isolated areas, is the epitome of freedom fighting! Let’s fund them!
As of April this year, the Education Ministry in Gaza, has decided men are no longer allowed to teach girls in schools, and boys and girls are not allowed to share classrooms, after the age of 9. Why? Because Allah! That’s why!

It is of course possible for those of us on the left to oppose restrictions placed on Gaza by Israel, to oppose the similar religious extremism of the far-right in Israel that undoubtedly fuel the fire of Islamic extremism in the region, and help empower Islamist groups like Hamas. We can do this, whilst simultaneously condemning absolutely everything Hamas do, everything they say, and everything they stand for.

George Galloway is not of the left. He is not a fan of democracy. He is anti-secular; choosing instead to fund a group dedicated to combining Mosque and State, and all the hideous oppression that comes with it. He funds a group dedicated to eroding civil liberties, and democratic rights. He funds a group dedicated to the imperialistic dream of Islamism; to control land they believe is theirs by nothing more than a child-like “my God said it’s mine!” rationale. He funds a group dedicated to achieving that imperialist goal, even if it means massacring pregnant women and innocent mothers. He funds a group willing to behead gay people, and detain feminists. He funds, and supports a group that wishes to impose a violently strict code of barbaric Islamist ‘morality’ upon citizens whether they want it or not. This is the antithesis of left-wing, liberal, secular principles, and should be resisted at every opportunity. It is the complete opposite of “Respect”.


Palestine at the UN

September 23, 2011

Ramallah is alive today. The calls for Palestinian Statehood is quite clearly popular. Though a vote for Palestinian Statehood in the UN, I can’t help but have a few issues with. I am convinced that Palestine needs to come to terms of Statehood with Israel before it comes to terms with the rest of the World. A State of Palestine is long overdue. But whilst religion plays its role, granting statehood is hardly likely to improve the situation, if it doesn’t include the support of the hated state next door; Israel.

We all know that Israel responds disproportionately every time. We can all condemn Israel non-stop, all day. But we hear very little about Palestine and the way it is run. The question has to be, should the international community be empowering Fatah and Hamas by UN recognition?

Even if we put aside the horrifically regressive policies of the Palestinian National Authority, with its law that says anyone caught selling land to a Jew will face death immediately – though after prolonged periods of torture, let’s put to one side the fact that Hamas have been known to use Palestinian civilians as shields and civilian homes as weapons bases for attacks against Israel, let’s also put aside the fact that religious buildings that aren’t muslim are always under threat from Hamas – including a Christian club in Qalqiliya which supported local sporting clubs and educational programs, which ended up burnt by members of Hamas after they sent this threat to the local authority:

“The act of these institutions of the YMCA, including attempting to convert Muslims in our city, will bring violence and tension.”

– Leave all that aside, What worries me, is the presentation to the UN today, is from Mahmoud Abbas – a man who many seem to think is a great moderate.

Abbas is the leader of Fatah. He took over leadership from Arafat; another fundamentalist nutjob. Fatah is a political party within the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Even though the UN officially recognised the PLO as representative of the Palestinian people in 1974, and gave it the right to participate in debates in the Security Council, in 1976; its largest member Fatah still carried out terrorist attacks in which they took over and killed 11 people in the Savoy hotel in 1975 and the Coastal Road Massacre in 1978 killing 37 Israelis. To take over the Savoy in the centre of Tel Aviv, they threw grenades at anyone who came close, and threatened to kill all hostages unless the Israeli government released five Palestinian prisoners. The killings were planned by Khalil al-Wazir, the man who set up Fatah. Al-Wazir, who is viewed as a great martyr in Palestine, was not simply retaliating for Israeli aggression, he believed Jerusalem was divinely handed to Muslims, and that Israel had stole it from them. The problem here, is religious fundamentalism. Fatah hasn’t changed that.

Today, the Constitution of the Fatah Party states quite clearly:

12. Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.
13. Establishing an independent democratic state with complete sovereignty on all Palestinian lands, and Jerusalem is its capital city, and protecting the citizens’ legal and equal rights without any racial or religious discrimination.

– It wants Israel gone. How can a State like Israel really expect to support the Statehood of a Nation next door, who wish to see it destroyed? How is that responsible? To compare, as Abbas has done, and as many Pro-Palestine bloggers do, the Arab Spring to the Palestinian problem is not helpful and very short sighted. The Egyptian people do not wish the wipe their next door neighbours off the map. There is no mention of setting up a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. It wants Israel gone, and Jerusalem entirely an Islamic city. It is a religious problem, nothing less.

Whilst Fatah is not considered a terrorist organisation (as dodgy, provocative and as dangerous as its constitution is), Hamas is. Earlier this year, Hamas and Fatah announced plans to join the two parties together into one government. Incidentally, Hamas’ constitution states its goals:

Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.

Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims. “Let the eyes of the cowards not fall asleep.”

– Hamas are dedicated to terrorism against Israel, not because Israel is incredibly repressive when it comes to Gaza (though i’d argue, that comes from paranoia), but because it is Jewish.
Article 31 of the Constitution of Hamas backs this up further:


Article Thirty
Men of letters, members of the intelligentsia, media people, preachers, teachers and educators and all different sectors in the Arab and Islamic world, are all called upon to play their role and to carry out their duty in view of the wickedness of the Zionist invasion, of its penetration into many countries, and its control over material means and the media, with all the ramifications thereof in most countries of the world. Jihad means not only carrying arms and denigrating the enemies. Uttering positive words, writing good articles and useful books, and lending support and assistance, all that too is Jihad in the path of Allah, as long as intentions are sincere to make Allah’s banner supreme. “Those who prepare for a raid in the path of Allah are considered as if they participated themselves in the raid. Those who successfully rear a raider in their home, are considered as if they participated themselves in the raid.”

– Hamas are dedicated to a religious war against Judaism in general, here. Article 31 reads like a paragraph from Hitler’s Mein Kempf. But it goes further. It claims the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and Colonialism were all Jewish conspiracies. We know how this sort of extreme thinking turns out.
The Charter of Hamas goes on:

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.

These people are designed for war. The fundamentalists that currently control the Gaza strip seems to assume that they have a right to kill whoever they want to kill, to threaten whoever they want to threaten purely because they’re Muslim, and Israel should just let it happen. It is not all Israels fault.

Hamas member “cleric Yunis Al Astal” stated in 2008 that Rome would soon become…

an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread though Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, even Eastern Europe.”

– To recognise these people as legitimate rulers, is simply provoking more violence from both sides. To happily advocate a Palestinian state that has two parties who despise Israel simply for being Jewish, one of those parties actively promoting continuous war and murder of anyone who happens to be Jewish is a serious miscalculation of what a Palestinian state; one that we all want to see, SHOULD entail. To ignore the issues that will certainly arise from formal recognition of the State of Palestine as it stands today – a short cut by an apparently ‘moderate’ Abbas who is ready to sign a deal with the monstrous Hamas – will bring with is grave consequences.

Fatah apparently renounced terrorism in 1988 as a means to an end. That being said, they still sponsor terrorist organisations. Force 17 is about to become the private security of Abbas. In 2007 Force 17 admitted kidnapped Moshe Levi, an Israeli soldier, and setting him on fire. His burnt body was found still on fire that same day.

Whilst Fatah is not considered a terrorist organisation, its leadership asked members of al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades (a terrorist organisation deemed so by the EU, USA, Canada, Israel and Japan) to join the Council of Fatah in 2003. Later that year, the BBC found that the Palestinian Authority through Fatah had been paying the al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades $50,000 a month, to which Fatah replied with:

“We have clearly declared that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades are part of Fatah. We are committed to them and Fatah bears full responsibility for the group.”
“The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, military wing of the Fatah movement will not be dissolved and Fatah will never relinquish its military wing.”

– Al-Aqsa Martyrs are responsible for countless suicide bombs. In 2002, a gunman from the group (paid for by Fatah, the guys we’re now considering giving keys to a Kingdom) opened fire on an innocent Bat Mitzvah celebration in Hadera, Israel killing six and injuring 33. A celebration for a twelve year old girl. The PA publicly condemned the attack, but blamed Israel for provoking it (how one can provoke shooting up a party for a 12 year old is beyond me), but their condemnations are laughable given that they continued to fund the group every month since. This past decade the Martyrs leadership has taken to radicalising and arming young teenagers to carry out suicide attacks against Jewish people.

Abbas’s talk of the Palestinians “hope and dreams” of statehood is admirable, though I feel slightly manipulated when he says it. I feel like he is not acknowledging that the people his party supports, and is entering into government with, want Israel gone. They have an irrational hatred of Judaism. Statehood, without the compromise, and backing of Israel, without a real peace deal, is going to solve nothing, and symbolically gives groups like the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade legitimacy through a corrupt and violent government that will be legitimised via the UN.

Abbas’s speech was just anti-Israel. Netanyahu seems ridiculously out of touch with his refusal to accept the illegality and outright provocation of settlements. Though it appears that Abbas is currently meeting with Netanyahu; hopefully peace talks and negotiations will resume.

Please do not take this blog, as my unreserved support for Israel. I have intense problems with the way Israel goes about its business. The burning of trees in Nablus and the confiscation of the 20 hectres of land in Palestinian Karyut this year is an act of aggression and terrorism. The provocation of settlements and violence through settlements is nothing short of an Israeli attempt to violate any sort of peace ideal. For Netanyahu to insist, in 2009, that no new settlements would be built, only to appropriate lane in Ramat Shlomo for 1600 houses, is provocative and dangerous. That being said, Israel exists. A dangerous and provocative Israel is already a State. Is it really wise to give another dangerous and provocative State, who despise their neighbours simply for their religious beliefs, and wish to wipe them off the map, UN recognition? Is it really wise to empower terrorists, to counter terrorists? Do we really believe democracy will flourish in a country where Hamas exists? I don’t think it is.