Galloway exposes himself …

February 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm (anti-semitism, Asshole, Galloway, israel, Jim D, Racism, Respect, students)

… as a racist and antisemite

It’ll be interesting to see whether anyone who is not an avowed or obvious antisemite is prepared to defend Galloway over this:

From Cherwell.org (Oxford students’ online magazine) Wednesday 20th February 2013:

George Galloway has been accused of ‘pure racism’ by his debate opponent after ‘storming out’ of Christ Church.

George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford West, has been accused by Oxford students of anti-semitism.

Mr Galloway “stormed out” of a debate at Christ Church on Wednesday evening, upon finding out that his opponent, Eylon Aslan-Levy, a third-year PPEist at Brasenose, was an Israeli citizen.

Mr Galloway had spoken for ten minutes in favour of the motion ‘Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank’, before giving way to Aslan-Levy.

Less than three minutes into Aslan-Levy’s speech against the motion, Galloway was made aware that his opponent was an Israeli citizen.

“I have been misled,” Mr Galloway then commented, interrupting Aslan-Levy’s speech. “I don’t debate with Israelis”. He then left the room with his wife, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi, and was escorted out of Christ Church by a college porter. When prompted to explain why Aslan-Levy’s nationality prompted him to abandon the debate, Galloway stated that “I don’t recognize Israel.”

In a statement late on Wednesday evening Galloway explained that “I refused this evening to debate with an Israeli, a supporter of the Apartheid state of Israel.

“The reason is simple; No recognition, No normalisation. Just Boycott, divestment and sanctions, until the Apartheid state is defeated.” Mr Galloway is a leading political proponent of the campaign to ‘boycott’ Israeli goods, services and – it emerged tonight – people.

After the debate Aslan-Levy said that “I am appalled that an MP would storm out of a debate with me for no reason other than my heritage.
 
“To refuse to talk to someone just because of their nationality is pure racism, and totally unacceptable for a member of parliament.”
 
Mahmood Naji, the organiser of the debate, told Cherwell that he “condemned Mr Galloway’s walkout, on the basis of his opponent’s nationality.”
 
He went on to deny that he had “misled” the MP. “At no point during my email exchange with Mr Galloway’s secretary was Eylon’s nationality ever brought up or mentioned.” He added, “nor do I expect to have to tell the speaker what his opponent’s nationality is.”

150 Comments

  1. comradeNosaj said,

    • Sensorite said,

      Why is it utter shite? Would it also be utter shite if he said the left could learn from the ‘presentational skills’ of Boris Johnson. Try opening your mind, you never know what you might find!

      Btw, I’ve gathered that this is supposed to be a left-wing blog but I’m really starting to wonder whether this is correct (?)

      • comradeNosaj said,

        Try not being a dumb cunt. Yes, what the left needs is bumbling, stuck-on-a-zipline fuckstick BoJo to learn from who’s only qualification to being brought up in conversation by anyone is “He’s that funny bloke off the telly, aint he? Funny blonde hair!” Dipshit. Best scoot off to Liberal Conspiracy, think they’re more your type. MoRan.

    • sensorite said,

      Similarly, have you ever tried expressing yourself without expletives?

    • sensorite said,

      By the way, since we’re trading insults, if you won’t even entertain the idea that The Left could learn from the considerable electoral and popular success of its’ enemies I suggest you return from the planet ‘ultra orthodox Marxism’ you seem to have materialised from.

      The article, correctly, points out that the left are often not as good at presenting a case as they could be e,g, most people could understand that if a company or country is going bankrupt, the possibility of the rate of interest on your loan going up is not the top priority, but they don’t put it that way.

      Do you really believe the Lenins, Castros etc would have got where they got without abit of charisma and popular appeal?

  2. Sensorite said,

    While this is somewhat OTT i.e. refusing to actually take part with an Israeli is probably going too far and this action is at best eccentric. There are, of course, many Israelis who are opposed to the actions of their government. That said, Galloway’s position is that only boycotts and sanctions will change the actions of said govt. For the 1 billionth time, anti Zionism DOES NOT equal anti-semitism, and those who mix the 2 up often have a barely hidden agenda.

  3. Jim Denham said,

    Sensorite: Galloway doesn’t even attempt to present his position as “anti Zionism”: he makes it crystal clear in both the video of the incident and in his tweets since, that he’s refusing to debate with an Israeli – *any* Israeli – because of that person’s country of origin. Period.

    How is that *not* racism?

    And just out of interest, what would be Galloway’s position with regards to an Arab Israeli citizen?

    Or is it just Jewish Israelis he objects to?

    • sensorite said,

      Well, I have to admit his total non-recognition of Israel a’la Hamas was news to me. I haven’t lived in Britain for quite a while. That’s my ‘excuse’.

      However, there are historical reasons to question the legitimacy of the state of course and such a position is neither anti-semitic or racist, any more than a refusal to negotiate with Hamas is anti-Muslim.

      That said, this position is OTT and of course hypocritical given he has shared a platform with Ilan Pappe. Perhaps he won’t debate with Israelis – only agree with them!

      • Jim Denham said,

        Sensorite: your ‘excuse’ re Galloway is accepted.

        But I cannot accept your argument that “questioning the legitimacy” of Israel (a polite way of saying denying its right to exist) is in some way equivalent to refusing to negotiate with Hamas (not that I agree with that, btw).

        The denial of the state of Israel to exist in any shape or form (eg behind 1967 borders) is a denial of the Jewish people to national self-determination: a position the left doesn’t take towards any other people or nation (including “settler” nations based upon the genocide of the native population, which despite many crimes and even atrocities, is *not* the way Israel came into existence).

        A refusal to negotiate with Hamas is an understandable but mistaken reaction to an antisemitic, terrorist organisation whose charter denies the right of Israel to exist.

        Such a denial, whether from Hamas or from sections of the “left” is objectively antisemitic.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Jim,

        “The denial of the state of Israel to exist in any shape or form… is objectively antisemitic”

        I know I am amalgamating two sentences, but is that really what the AWL believe?

      • Jim Denham said,

        Yes.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Jim,

        I am assuming that the AWL has debated this notion at length, discussed the implications with reference to wider theoretical discussions?

        Is that the case?

        Or was it a quick decision without considering all of the possible alternatives?

      • Jim Denham said,

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Jim,

        That’s not an argument.

        A polemic from your ex-leader is simply a polemic, not a reasoned argument.

        Back to my original question, was there any theoretical discussion on this? Before the policy was decided by the AWL?

      • Jim Denham said,

        Mod says:
        “Jim,

        “That’s not an argument.

        “A polemic from your ex-leader is simply a polemic, not a reasoned argument.”

        I say: Mod, it’s a much more cogent and reasoned argument than anything you’ve ever managed to come up with.

        It is also the case that the AWL, in dumping the “Democratic Secular State” (ie: One State/destruction of Israel) position on the Middle East and adopting “Two States” in the 1980’s, carried out an extensive, in-depth and sometimes heated debate throughout the organisation (not just the “leadership” or the National Committee) and even brought in Tony Greenstein as a sort of outside “expert witness” to argue at meetings in favour of the destruction of Israel. The fact that Greenstein’s case was rejected by the AWL membership and he himself humiliated in debates with the much more informed and erudite Matgamna, seems to have rankled with Greenstein and have led to his hysterical hostlility towards the AWL ever since.

        P.S: when reading the Matgamna Open Letter to Cliff, I also recommend that you follow the link to Stan Crook’s piece on the Stalinist roots of “left” anti-“Zionism”.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        ” it’s a much more cogent and reasoned argument than anything you’ve ever managed to come up with.”

        Jim,

        I could write reams around the subject, but that wasn’t my point.

        You seem to have misunderstood what I’m getting at.

        I am asking for the theoretical underpinning to this line of reasoning.

        Thus far I received little other than “Sean says so”.

        I am a little perplexed, I had assumed the AWL had debated this issue at length and would be able to defend this point of view with reason or logic?

    • Sensorite said,

      Thanks for the article. I will have a look at it.

      I’m only interested in defending Galloway where he should be defended – for the sake of accuracy. As you pointed out yourself ‘even’ Galloway criticised David Ward recently for his anti-semitism. Also, I have read statements from him suggesting he is not anti-semitic.

      Re – the right of Israel to exist or not to.

      A couple of years ago I heard a speech by Obama whereby he stated that this right was not a matter for debate. Having studied this issue in a reasonable amount of depth, I would say that this issue is, indeed, a topic worthy of debate.

      I am, as you might have guessed, slightly involved in, and a strong advocate for, Palestinian rights, and I ALSO take the personal view that the presence of jewish people in what we might call Israel means that they have now have a natural right, owing to facts on the ground, not to be expropriated and made refugees in the way the Palestinians were. 2 or 3 wrongs don’t make a right.

      That said, a political position which questions the very right of the state of Israel, which was non-existent in any form 200 + years ago, may be aggressive, unfair etc but it is NOT anti-semitic. It is a political position which one is entitled to (and is not entirely without factual justification btw).

      ‘I do not recognise Israel’ could mean ‘I don’t recognise the legitmacy of a ‘jewish state’ in what was once called Palestine and think we should strive for a one state solution in which the 2 ‘nationalities’ live together harmoniously’ – the position of Tariq Ramadan for example.

      Is that also anti-semitic?

      Having read your recent emails I no longer, fortunately, question your recognition that the Palestinians do, in fact, have rights, but I would have thought it is crystal clear that these POLITICAL POSITIONS are not anti-semitic.

      Some/many who ‘don’t recognise Israel’ may be anti-semitic, in the same way that some/many ‘Zionist apologists’ are racist and/or Islamophobic, but the 2 are NOT synomymous.

      What, if any, benefit could there be in claiming that a political position is anti-semitic?

      • Jim Denham said,

        Sensorite: I thank you for what is clearly a considered and thoughtful reply.

        Modern antisemitism is not always subjectively racist. For instance, I doubt that George Galloway or Ken Livingstone wake up each morning seething with hatred of Jews.

        But to deny the Jewish people the right to self-determination, and to claim that – uniquely amongst “settler” nations – Israel is an “illegitimate” state, is, I would contend, objectively antisemitic, *regardless of the personal feelings of whoever puts that position forward*. Sean Matgamna’s open letter to the Jewish socialist and founder of today’s SWP, Tony Cliff, is an excellent explaination of the politics of this, in my humble opinion.

        Paradoxically, the “one state” people, in denying Israel’s right to exist, are also denying that right (which us left wing two-staters vehemently support) to the Palestinian people.

    • Sensorite said,

      Dear Jim,

      Thanks for your thanks, and apologies for my previous less temperate posts.

      Firstly, I am surprised to hear you suggest that ‘Red Ken’ has been anti-semitic. In what way?

      Re your argument about questioning the legitimacy, or even denying the right of Israel to exist.

      Firstly, there is a difference between the two. Unlike Barack Obama, I do believe that the validity of the debate over the legitimacy of Israel’s coming into being should be accepted, and not ‘swept under the carpet’. No big news that this is a debate many Muslims and non-muslims wish to have, and therefore it should, of course, not be ‘closed down’ by alleged ‘democrats’.

      Also, I still strongly dispute that either position is inherently anti-semitic or racist. To use your analogy, the argument that The USA should be ‘returned’ to the Native-Americans would certainly be fanciful, but would it be racist?

      Once again, I believe that suggestions that even radical political positions such as ‘not recognising Israel’ may well be extreme, intransigent and of course, possibly suggestive of a militiary and violent resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict, but NOT racist.

      Indeed, I suspect you may well disagree with this (!), but it is even theoretically possible to hold a position that UK ‘immigrants’ should be encouraged to return to the lands of their ‘ethnic forefathers’, without ACTUALLY having anything against peoples not considered to be ‘native Britons’. It would be grossly unfair and unjust. not to mention extremely impractical, especially given the difficulty and futility of deciding who is a ‘native’ Briton’.

      Of course nearly everyone, if not everyone, who holds this position IS indeed also racist, but the argument is not racist AS SUCH. I know this is probably VERY controversial.and my view on this may explain our disagreement on the issue of anti Zionist and/or anti-semitic views..

      I hope your not now fuming too much (!)

      Why is the argument over whether ‘not ecognising Israel’ important? Because arguments should be recognised for what they are, when they are, political, not racist, positions. Confusing the 2 serves nobody, except for the interest of Zionist ‘apologists’ who do seem to often do so, subconsciously, or consciously in order to muddy the moral waters for ‘their own ends’, and I’m very happy to read that you are, yourself, not a ‘Zionist apologist’.

      Re the merits of a one-state vs two state solution I have my opinions but I guess we both have ‘shit to do’, and I’m mostly concerned with what I see as the sometimes deliberate abuse of the term ‘anti-semitic’, especially as the chances of a one-state solution ‘coming to pass’ is about as likely as pigs flying over a contiguous State of Palestine!

      Pls be rest assured that I’m definitely NOT a closet BNP supporter (!), I’m just saying that political arguments should be separated from the racist prejudices which may OR MAY NOT motivate them.

      PS Was the dispossesion of 100,000s followed by the occupation followed by the settlement programme, involvement in Lebanon, criminally disproportionate response to Palestinian terrorism etc inherently ‘anti-Muslim/racist’? I would say no, although ‘racism’ has motivated such ‘policies’ they were/are primarilly motivated by an unspeakably inhumane, extremely selfish and aggressive self-interest, and of course, to some extent, the valid concerns about anti-semticism in Europe and elsewhere. I do believe that Israel, like the pre black civil rights movement USA can fairly be described as an ‘apartheid state’ but that is another issue.

      Finally, I hope you don’t think I’m splitting hairs but I think the separation of what is ‘racist’, and what is not, is vital to the health of the very necessary debate on these issues.

      PS What’s the AWL? :)

      PPS Not that it’s really relevant, but I, myself, am, apparently, according to recent research into my family tree, ethnically a jew. Hopefully not a ‘self-loathing one’!

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Jim,

        I will continue this at another juncture.

        You have your hands full.

  4. Minerva Strigiform said,

    Owen gets the wrong end of the stick there.

    Galloway is not any form of socialist, in fact (and I can’t be arsed looking it up) he told one of the papers that he not a socialist and on balance thinks capitalism is better. Galloway is many other things though: repulsive, sexist, and sleazy. He is a right wing populist/communalist dog and pony showman with a raging case of transferred nationalism.

    Nothing more to see here. Jog on.

  5. Sue R said,

    The thought of Galloway exposing himself is deeplu unpleasant.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Sue: *everything* about that piece of racist, antiisemitic, rape-denying shit, is “deeply unpleasant.”

    • Jabez said,

      I agree that Galloway would have been wasting his time on trying to get through the thick headed Israeli Levy. Good on you George – there is zero debate as far as occupation of the West bank and the illegal confiscation – THEFT – of land. The Israeli government practices apartheid and will always follow the illogical hard line belligerent policy towards Palestine. Do not ever waste time on this issue again George – just keep plugging away with your lectures and articles. I am delighted that you are an MP.

  6. Minerva Strigiform said,

    “And just out of interest, what would be Galloway’s position with regards to an Arab Israeli citizen?”

    Probably depends, either Palestinian or an evil apartheid-supporting Zionist.

    Mind you Galloway’s appears to identify the mythical figure of Jesus as a Palestinian Xtian sorely oppressed by the [Zionist] authorities, rather than the Judean Rabbi of the stories.

  7. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    Not a pleasant title bringing to mind as it does George cavorting about in a leotard….

    As Jon Lansman pointed out in comments at Newman’s blog the BDS movement itself opposes boycotts of individuals and GG himself certainly does not apply this rule to his friends Ilan Pappe or Gilad Atzmon.

    But I suspect there is something both deeper and shallower here – so enamoured is George with the sound of his voice and the perfection of his own opinions that he clearly finds it actually painful to listen to anyone who disagrees with him – especially in a formal debate setting where he can’t bluster away over them.

    This also explains his apparent lack of interest in actually attending the House of Commons to which he intermittently puts so much effort into getting himself elected.

    • Pinkie said,

      Why lump together Ilan Pappe and the anti-Semite Atzmon? Mistaken or dishonest? Who cares, it’s a blog.

      • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        Because Galloway has published an interview with Pappe and has appeared on platforms with Atzmon? (or at least been billed as being at the same events – whether they actually did appear side by side I really can’t be bothered to find out).

        My point being not that they are equivalent (Atzmon achieves the difficult feat of being an even more loathsome human being than Galloway who as a particularly cynical and dishonest demagogue is in turn undoubtedly a much worse person than a mere academic like Dr Pappe can every hope to be) but that they are both Israeli citizens – and if Galloway was consistent he’d have to boycott them too.

      • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        Socialist Worker 2027, 18 November 2006

        London: Tower Hamlets
        Mon 27 Nov, 7pm
        Jazz, racism and resistance
        Live music and spoken word with
        Gilad Atzmon and his band,
        George Galloway MP,
        Martin Smith

        Now there’s a line-up to run screaming from….

  8. Jim Denham said,

    The BDS campaign’s statement (dated 21st February 2013) on “Boycott of Individuals” (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) doesn’t mention Galloway, but at first blush would seem to be an attempt to distance themselves from his walk-out at Christ Church and subsequent justifications of it on twitter:

    “The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian unions, mass organisations, refugee networks and NGOs that leads and and sets the guidelines for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, supports all principled action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality that is in line with universal human rights and international law.

    “In its 2005 BDS Call, Palestinian civil society has called for a boycott of Israel, its complicit institutions, international corporations that sustain its occupation, colonization and apartheid, and official representatives of the state of Israel and its complicit institutions. BDS does not call for a boycott of individuals because she or he happens to be Israeli or because they express certain views. Of course, any individual is free to decide who they do and do not engage with.

    “The global BDS movement has consistently adopted a rights-based approach and an anti-racist platform that rejects all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

    “These guidelines and the fact that BDS has been initiated and is led by Palestinian civil society are major reasons behind the rapid growth and success that the BDS movement has enjoyed around the world.”

    But read it more closely, and pay particular attention to this:

    “Of course, any individual is free to decide who they do and do not engage with.”… in other words, boycott individuals if you want, just don’t expect us to publicly endorse your action (but we certainly won’t condemn it).”

    Hypocritical, lying, antisemites!

    • sensorite said,

      Are you forever going to persist with manipulative misuse of the term ‘anti-semitism’? Do you really think it strengthens whatever ‘argument’ you have?

      The BDS strategy is the only one which can get Israel to change. It won’t work, especially as long as there are people like you around who are wont to dismiss any action as ‘anti-semitic’?

      How do you propose to get Israel to change, or perhaps you don’t want it to. I used to think that Socialism was about social justice, but maybe I’m abit old-fashioned
      .
      This action worked, to some extent, against apartheid, but of course it is also necessary to have a dialogue with your ‘enemies’. Oh, sorry, was that an anti-semitic term?

  9. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    “Of course, any individual is free to decide who they do and do not engage with.”

    To be fair that is simply a truism – they have clearly made the point that they do not call for a boycott of individual Israelis or for that matter Zionists.

  10. Jim Denham said,

    Sure, it’s a truism: but in context it tells us all we need to know about their true position.

    • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      Can we really talk about ‘their’ and a ‘true position’ with such utter precision?

      Clearly there is variation ranging from on the one hand indisputable fascists and anti-semites all the way through to actual members of the Jewish Israeli left who support some or all of the BDS position.

      And if we are talking only of the BDS National Committee in Palestine it is presumably as divided as Palestinian political and civil society itself.

      In any case we are taking something complex and messy and over-simplifying it – the Galloway case illustrates strains and divisions in their coalition and this is a good thing as it forces people who are in any way principled non-racists and democrats to reconsider their position and the company they keep.

      Of course I have few illusions about how far this can actually go given just how profoundly irrational positions are on both sides….

      • Jim Denham said,

        Roger: the only point I’m making is that the BDS campaign’s claim to be against the boycott of individuals isn’t true: their official response, as published on their website and quoted in full by myself, shows this. I don’t understand what is problematic about pointing that out.

        Btw, I agree with you that there are some decent people (not only left wing Jews) who support the BDS position: all the more reason to point out that Galloway’s action and words demonstrate what’s inevitably wrong (I’d argue, objectively antisemitic) with it.

  11. daneil young said,

    Just George taking the blinkered moral ground.What hope socialism Palastine.

  12. Jim Denham said,

    Rachel Shabi in the Graun/CIF:
    “Galloway is entitled not to recognise the state of Israel – or even to speak to Israelis – but it doesn’t help the anti-occupation cause”:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/22/george-galloway-debate-israelis

  13. SteveH said,

    Well done George. A very brave and principled position.

    Support the Israeli boycott!!!

    PS Thanks for your great support George from UNISON and all Palestinian trade unions.

    • Monsuer Jelly More Bounce to the Ounce (Much More Bounce) OOps upside your Head this time with feeling said,

      what a thick cunt. now speaks for UniSoN and pally trade unionists. utter moRan

  14. Colin from Cleckheaton said,

    Well done, George.

    Not racist at all. If he had stormed out because his opponent was Jewish, then yes, racist as they come. But to refuse to have anything to do with Israel and by extension Israelis, he is just making his point, dramatically as usual.

    Boycott Israel.

  15. modernity's ghost said,

    What a marvellous self exposure of bigotry.

    Had Galloway walked away in a huff because his debating opponent was French, then possibly even stupid Colin and moronic SteveH would see the issue?

    But let me explain it, it is bigotry to attack someone purely based on their nationality.

    If you were in a job to show such behaviour, then you would, potentially, be dismissed for discriminatory actions.

    It doesn’t matter if the person is: Somalian, Syrian, Indonesian or even Israeli, when you attack someone purely on their nationality you are in the territory of the Extreme Right.

    That should cause anyone, who thinks they aren’t a bigot, a moment’s thought.

    • Sensorite said,

      Not really, sorry. To refuse to debate with someone when they are involved in a cultural, or otherwise boycott, is stupid, unhelpful and unproductive, but not racist. It there were such a thing against the French, it would not be racist, just stupid, unhelpful and unproductive.

    • Sensorite said,

      Btw, is it also ‘racist’ not to buy Israeli oranges?

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Sensorite,

        You seem to deliberately miss the point.

        If you make a personal choice, not to buy an orange, that is one thing.

        If, however, you choice to boycott **individuals** they solely on their nationality (not their views, not their actions or otherwise) then you are practising discrimination.

        Under British law (aimed at reducing prejudice), if you did such an action in a job, an office, shop, etc then you could be prosecuted.

        I imagine you won’t understand why, but think on, if people arbitrarily chose to discriminate against individuals, such as Saudis, Eritreans or Tibetans, would you agree with them?

        If a hotel said “we are not going to allow any Irish in our rooms”, would you find that acceptable?

      • Sensorite said,

        This reply is supposed to be to Modernity’s Chost, but for some reason the system won’t let me reply to him, so here it is, in response to ‘it is racist/anti-Semitic’ not to debate with Israeli’s – and is it different to boycotting Israeli goods.

        Would it also be racist if we boycotted the Israeli football team?

        The South African cultural and sporting boycott, which, as far as I am aware, was actually at least partly instrumental in bringing down apartheid, of course involved refusing to interact with South African PEOPLE. Even possibly well-meaning ‘initiatives’ like Paul Simon’s Graceland album had to be opposed.

        So, while Galloway’s walkout was misguided – even during the South African boycott, it was not necessary to refuse to even TALK to Pro-Apartheid South Africans – it was not racist.

        Apologies for the late response. I did respond to Mod’s comment a couple of days ago and don’t know why the response seems to have disappeared.

  16. Jim Denham said,

    Steve H writes “A very brave and principled position”.

    Look Steve: you and I obviously disagree on this quite fundamentally. I think you’re an antisemite, for instance.

    But Galloway’s walkout “brave”? In what possible sense of the word?

    It never ceases to astonish me that people who verbally attack Israel, or do or say or write anything critical of Israel and/or the “Jewish Lobby”, are routinely described as “brave” as though they’re doing something dangerous or terribly daring against some terrifying force. Actually, Israel-bashing has been a popular British passtime since 1948. The only difference these days is that whereas it used to be a Tory preoccupation it’s now commonplace across the UK political board and probably most vociferous on the Guardianista liberal-“left.”.

    PS: it goes without saying that I accept that “Israel-bashing” can range from perfectly legitimate criticism (eg of their treatment of the Palestinans and toleration/encouragement of the settlers) through to antisemitic denial of Israel’s very right to exist. I also accept that successive Israeli governments, by their actions, have to a considerable extent brought this on the people of Israel.

  17. Jim Denham said,

    For the record, SteveH responded to my last comment, but I’ve deleted it.

    We have some standards here.

    Complete and utter bollocks that isn’t even negatively educative, and doesn’t warrant a reply, will be deleted. Coments here should be either use or ornament. Mr H’s latest was neither.

    Comments we don’t agree with but are intelligent, will always be welcome. Even crap that is educative, will be tolerated. But not crap that’s “not even wrong.”

    PS: Mr SteveH’s reply included the following: “For the record, I regard you as pro imperialist, racist and an Islamophobe. I regard all pro imperialists as racist and facilitators of racism. Your anti Semite slur bothers me not a jot.”

    You’ve been banned from here before, Mr H: I don’t know why you keep crawling back, but please now just stay away.

    • Dan said,

      Monsuer Jelly More Bounce to the Ounce (Much More Bounce) OOps upside your Head this time with feeling said,
      February 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm
      what a thick cunt. now speaks for UniSoN and pally trade unionists. utter moRan

      Like this one Jim?

    • Sensorite said,

      Sorry to bombard you with posts about abusive responses, but it seems to have gone un-noticed, but I also received this charming response from ‘comrade NosaJ’

      ‘Try not being a dumb cunt. Yes, what the left needs is bumbling, stuck-on-a-zipline fuckstick BoJo to learn from who’s only qualification to being brought up in conversation by anyone is “He’s that funny bloke off the telly, aint he? Funny blonde hair!” Dipshit. Best scoot off to Liberal Conspiracy, think they’re more your type. MoRan’

      Whereas the people you objected were expressing an opinion they are entitled to, admittedly quite forcefully, no matter how much he might dislike certain points, it would be nice if he could bring himself either to try to present a reasoned argument or better still, if you ain’t got nothing worthwhile to say…….

      • comradeNosaj said,

        Oh, sorry there old bean! Did I offend your precious sensibilities? Oh Dear! Oh, I say! One is ever so sorry! Let me doff my bowler hat to you and offer a hearty apology, my good and gracious sir.

      • Sensorite said,

        You didn’t offend my sensibilities too much. It’s just that, as I suggested to someone else who posted here, ‘comments’ like yours belong, if anywhere, on you-tube commenting on some crappy music video.

        I suppose, if you’re not able to make a reasoned case, however, you might feel the need to resort to mindless abuse, but if this is the case pls don’t bother me again.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Sensorite,

        People can be polite to you, ask you a question and even assume you’ll respond in a reason way.

        But you don’t seem very engaged with these issues.

        I haven’t had any considered response to my comment of February 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm.

      • Sensorite said,

        Sorry to repeat the comment – I now seem to have worked out how to reply.

        In response to your question – ‘it is racist/anti-Semitic’ not to debate with Israeli’s – and is it different to boycotting Israeli goods.

        Would it also be racist if we boycotted the Israeli football team?

        The South African cultural and sporting boycott, which, as far as I am aware, was actually at least partly instrumental in bringing down apartheid, of course involved refusing to interact with South African PEOPLE. Even possibly well-meaning ‘initiatives’ like Paul Simon’s Graceland album had to be opposed.

        So, while Galloway’s walkout was misguided – even during the South African boycott, it was not necessary to refuse to even TALK to Pro-Apartheid South Africans – it was not racist.

        Apologies for the late response. I did respond to your comment a couple of days ago and don’t know why the response seems to have disappeared.

    • Sensorite said,

      Btw, as I’m still happy to correspond with yourself, I guess I could check out the website but I would really like to know whether the ‘2 state solution’ envisaged by the AWL is similar to the one proposed a year or so ago by Obama that got him into so much trouble with the PRO-ZIONIST supporters in the USA (?)

      I’m sure you have alot on, but I would appreciate a response if you have time.

      Cheers.

  18. Boleyn Ali said,

    “please now just stay away.”

    To the blogger commentator who loves a “strong man” (GG on this occasion), and wants to be like him, that request is like a red rag to a bull.

  19. Monsuer Jelly More Bounce to the Ounce (Much More Bounce) OOps upside your Head this time with feeling said,

    slit his throat in the dead of night. that would be better.

  20. Minerva Strigiform said,

    @sensorite “have you ever tried expressing yourself without expletives”

    because at eton you were told that “expletives” were a sign of a limited vocabulary, employed by the brutes of the lower orders, in fact one should avoid english and other rude germanic tongues and rather communicate with ones fellows in latin old bean.

    • Sensorite said,

      The obvious retort would be f… off, but if you really want to indulge in that form of ‘debate’ I suggest you stick to you-tube.

    • Sensorite said,

      Btw, I didn’t go to Eton, if you consider that relevant, but there’s nothing like abit of reverse classism is there?

  21. Boleyn Ali said,

    Anti Zionism = Rape Apology

    Discuss

    • Sensorite said,

      Pro ZIonism = what on Earth are you doing posting on a supposedly Socialist blog. Discuss.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Sensorite,

        You might think of yourself as an anti-racist, but you don’t understand the issues and your inability to provide any considered response to my comment of February 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm shows that,

      • Sensorite said,

        I just did respond to it. You, on the other hand, haven’t answered my questions.

        I’ll put it a different way, Was the sporting and cultural boycott of South African sportspeople etc also racist?

      • Sensorite said,

        Actually, though, you’re right. I don’t understand why a cultural boycott of Israel is racist whilst the cultural boycott of South Africa, presumably, was not. Could you explain?

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Sensorite,

        I have explained this, but you’re being deliberately glib.

        It wasn’t about boycotting a nation, it was boycotting an individual based on their nationality.

        That is illegal under British law. British Race Relations legislation classifies it as discrimination.

        If you disbelieve me, start a business or try to hire someone in the UK then include in the advert something like:

        “No Irish need apply”

        You will be arrested for such conduct.

        Again, when you discriminate against an individual based on their nationality, it is against the law.

        It is racism.

      • Sensorite said,

        But by the same token, wasn’t refusing to play cricket with the South African team also against the race relations act (?)

        And I’m sure that, much as you dislike Galloway, you appreciate that his objection to debating with the Israeli was not because he ‘doesn’t like’ Israelis but, rather, it was for very valid political reasons. Also, employing someone is somewhat different to engaging a debate with them, as I’m sure you can also appreciate.

        Another minor(ish) but also obvious and important point – ‘no Irish or Israeli need apply’ would not be racist as neither nationality constitutes a ‘race’.

        I’m interested in Jim’s contention that the boycott against South Africa was, on balance, justifiable but a boycott of Israel would not be, and looking forward to hearing more.

        Btw, why is it that you seem to feel it’s more or less OK for someone to call me a ‘cunt’ but not to call me a ‘Zionist stooge’?

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Senorite,

        I gave you more curtsey than you gave me.

        I, initially, took you seriously, thought you didn’t understand the issue, in particular racism.

        But now I understand you are a wind up merchant.

        You plainly don’t understand anti-racism when you say:

        “would not be racist as neither nationality constitutes a ‘race’.”

        WRONG, it does for the purposes of modern antiracism, the law, etc

        If you show prejudicial behaviour towards an individual, solely based on their nationality, in a job, etc then you are committing an offence, and you simply saying “no it ain’t” does not make it so.

        Senorite, I don’t know your background but you should educate yourself on the history of the Race Relations Act 1976.

      • Sensorite said,

        Fair enough, if that’s how the act defines it.

        However, I’m not a wind-up merchant and sorry if you take it that way. I am, indeed, myself considerably ‘wound up’ by the fact that criticism and action against Israel is constantly deemed ‘racist’ on this site but apparently criticism and action against apartheid in South Africa was not, and I’m not yet convinced by the argument that it’s because BDS activists want to destroy, or ‘denormalise’ Israel. If sanctions couldn’t denormalise Israel they would be pointless. Sanctions have to make things worse before they can get better. That’s how they work, or at least Western govts believe they ‘work’ against countries like Iraq and Iran. The sanctions against Iran, of course, are currently showing signs of working in terms of turning people against their government.

      • Sensorite said,

        I’m also, not exactly ‘wound up’ but genuinely upset that you don’t seem too much me being a ‘cunt’ but…..I’ve made this point before….

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Sensorite,

        Clearly, you don’t understand antiracism.

        I would guess that other people think you are taking the piss, an agent provocateur.

        I am not interested in that, but obviously you don’t take antiracism seriously or these exchanges wouldn’t have to be so belaboured.

        You need to educate yourself before typing. You need to think a bit and realise there is a *lot* of history behind these issues.

      • Sensorite said,

        Mod,

        Your responses to my questions about why boycotts of Israel, as opposed to South Africa should be considered racist have only been met with your rather patronising and condescending assertions that I don’t understand the issues involved. Therefore, I would hope you understand why my responses to this were somewhat discourteous. Just for the record I HAVE actually studied the history of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

        Clearly not the 1976 race relations act though, but my rather embarrassing ignorance of its’ definition of racism doesn’t completely preclude me from expressing an opinion on the racism or otherwise of the BDS campaign . You don’t need to have read Das Kapital to understand the Palestinians grievances. All you need is abit of compassion and knowledge of the history of the conflict since the birth of Zionism, which most/many Westerners don’t have sadly.

        I’m neither a wind-up merchant nor an agent provocateur for the sake of it. I did have a particular shit day yesterday – probably not a good day to post on blogs but sometimes one can’t help oneself – apologies.

        I am, however, someone who does his bit to challenge what he sees as unjustified and unhelpful accusations of anti-semiticism and who also tries to ask the necessary ‘difficult questions’.

        Speaking of which, you still haven’t explained IF AND WHY it is OK for someone who suggests a cultural boycott of Israelis is not racist to be described on this blog as a ‘cunt’ but it’s apparently not OK for Jim to be described as an imperialist.

        Speaking of the whom, I greatly appreciated his taking the time to explain to me why he feels that a cultural boycott of Israel is less acceptable than that imposed on the South African apartheid regime, rather than just telling me I didn’t know what I was talking about!

        Shalom!

  22. afsdfadsf said,

  23. Jim Denham said,

    Sensorite: your question to those of us who oppose the BDS boycott of Israel – why is it different to the Anti Apartheid boycott of South Africa – is a serious one that deseves a serious answer. I will attempt to provide one.

    Firstly, I and comrades who think like me (eg the AWL) had serious criticisms of the Anti Apartheid boycott campaign, though in general and on balance we supported it. Our criticisms were that (1) consumer boycotts, etc, are not the way socialists generally fight oppression and injustice and do nothing to promote working class unity; (2) boycotts of individuals – especially academics, trade unionists activists and artists who were often themselves outspokenly anti apartheid -were positively counterproductive and set back the cause of working class unity; (3) there was and is little evidence that the boycott campaign played any significant practical role in finally bringing down apartheid (though its symbolic effect cannot be denied).

    However, that said, the boycott campaign gave those of us who wanted to demonstrate our opposition to Apartheid an easy way of doing so, and no doubt boosted the morale of campaigners in South Africa itself. And there could be no serious misunderstanding of the motives of those of us who picketted Barclays or gave out leaflets against Outspan; there quite clearly is a lot of ambiguity, confusion and misunderstanding about the motives and the demands of BDS camapaigners.

    The crucial difference, however, is that the Anti Apartheid boycott camapaign did not seek to deny the right of South Africa to exist or the right of whites to live there – it simply demanded majority rule within South Africa. The BDS camapign is fundamentally different: as Galloway eloquently stated at Christ Church, the aim is to delegitimise (sometimes “denormalise”) the state of Israel itself. That can only, logically mean, seeking to destroy it one way or the other and deny Jews the right to live there as a collective (ie nation) and in reality, the right to live there as individuals as well (though one-staters deny this of course; but their denials fly in the face of common sense).

    The BDS camapign is inevitably, essentially, antisemitic despite the protestations (often but not always, made in good faith) of its supporters. It’s no accident that it began with a camapign to boycott Marks and Spencers and has now produced Galloway’s boycott of individual IsaraIi Jews - regardless of their political views.

    Despite that, if there was any evidence that the boycott campaign would help the Palestinians in any positive way (as opposed to simpl,y hurting Israel), there might be a case for supporting it. I contend that that isn’t the case.

    As the AWL’s Sean Matgamna wrote about ten years ago when the BDS camapign was just beginning, and largely took the form of pickets outside Marks and Spencers and an academic boycott in which, for instance, a Manchester Professor, Mona Baker, removed two Israeli colleagues from the editorial boards of two journals she edited:

    “If boycott will help the Palestinians escape from the trap which their Israeli chauvinist-enemies and their own wretched leaders have boxed them into, then the case for boycott is overwhelming. The decisive argument against boycott is that though it may answer the creditable need felt by individuals in Britian to ‘do something’ it will not help the Palestinians. It will in practice, whatever people like Hilary and Steven Rose [supporters of Mona Baker - JD] intend, not be an anti-Israeli-chauvinist but an anti-Jewish movement. That will not help the Palestinians.”

    • Sensorite said,

      OK. Still looking forward to 2 onwards and also whether you also considered the Anti Apartheid sporting and cultural boycotts racist.

      One more thing, your colleague (?) mod seems to think that someone calling me a ‘cunt’ on this blog is not too much of a problem, yet you deleted a post, which I actually saw briefly, which was quite aggressive but at least did not include expletives. Does the AWL only support unfettered freedom of speech when people are failing to ‘toe the party line’?

  24. Jim Denham said,

    Sensorite: I have now completed my post (above) which was interrupted by a technical glitch. It’s one major (and perhaps unfair) advantage I have as one of the folks who run this blog and have access to the gubbins on the dashboard that you folks never see…

    The policy on what we (ie Shiraz Socialist) do, and do not allow in the comments boxes has been a long-running bone of contention. The truth is that we don’t have a clear or consistent policy regarding (eg) personal abuse, foul language, racism, etc. Perhaps we should, but over the years it’s proved beyond us and we tend to operate on a case-by-case basis, with the default position being not to censor/delete except in the most extreme and/or exasperating instances.

    Finally, although I am an individual member of the AWL, no-one else involved in Shiraz is (and there are a couple of others, though they don’t contribute as frequently as me) and the views expressed here do not represent those of the AWL unless specifically flagged up as doing so (eg the Matgamna quote above).

    Quite frequently, I will re-blog a piece because I think it’s interesting, provocative (in a good way) or simply because it’s well-written or amusing: that doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with it and it certainly has nothing to do with the AWL’s “line.” This is *not* an AWL blog.

    • Sensorite said,

      Thx for your response, but it strikes me as a bizarre attempt to add several 2s to make 600.

      I am one of several, I’m sure, ‘one staters’ and supporters of the BDS movement, as much as I know about it at the mo – I’ll research further – who would, ideally, like to see the Palestinians and Israelis live and even work together in the area of land they both have a claim to, rather than the Palestinians being consigned an area of land which was not even part of the Palestine mandate overseen by the Brits and the Ottomans before them.

      But a 2 state solution is much better than no solution, which is exactly what the article you on this issue recommended, apart from one sentence suggesting that the answer is to ‘unite with the left’ in Israel/Palestine. How’s that going to work?

      Anyway, neither a 1 state or 2 solution is going to happen unless the Israeli government and voters change, and that is never going to happen unless they are hit where it hurts e.g. the pocket. If that’s a racist position I’m a flying Dutchman and if yours (plural) is the AWL position there is very little ‘
      danger’ of me becoming a member – probably much to your relief!

      So, there is no evidence that sanctions worked against South Africa? No, none at all, apart from the proof of the pudding. So you are suggesting that De Klerk helped with the dismantling of apartheid because of altruism or a sudden interest in black rights?

      Sanctions don’t work? Hmmm…..Haven’t heard that one since Thatcher!

      Also, I’m still amazed that you apparently seem to think calling someone a cunt is not as bad as what Steve H wrote to you, which was at least some kind of political argument.

  25. Jim Denham said,

    Sensorite, I’ll post a more detailed reply to all your points shortly (eg on the ineffectiveness of sanctions), but for now can I just assure you that I personally and the AWL are strong supporters of two states (the usual complaint is that we bang on about it too much). I’m not sure which article you’re referring to (the open letter to Cliff?) but if I recommended it you can rest assured it was written from a two states perspective.

    • Sensorite said,

      I know that you support 2 states. I support one secular state for both ethnicities ideally but a 2 state solution is better than no solution.

      The link I’m talking about is this one you sent me;

      http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2012/07/03/israel-palestine-and-left-debate

      I look forward to your suggestions on how any kind of resolution of this conflict can be brought about without sanctions, given that there is precious little chance of it given the current status quo in Israel/USA.

      • Bob-B said,

        Why would anyone think that a one state solution would work better in Israel-Palestine than in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the Indian subcontinent, Sudan or the British isles?

      • Sensorite said,

        Presuming your suggestion that e.g. ‘the one-state solution’ of e.g. the Union of Scotland and England ‘doesn’t work’ is a serious one, I would suggest that it is clearly preferable to the current status quo in Palestine/Israel. There are plenty of examples of ‘one state solutions’ whereby people of different ethnicities and/or religions live relatively harmoniously in the same secular state. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and visa versa, and herein lies the problem, given that the Palestinian issue was barely discussed in the recent Israeli elections as I presume you are aware.

  26. Jim Denham said,

    Sensorite: I do not have a simple solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict, but I’m absolutely certain that it has to involve workers and progressive forces on both sides. I do not rule out an element of external pressure – coercion even – on Israel, but that is highly unlikely to be decisive. Building links and solidarity between Israelis and Palestinians will be, and campaigns like BDS (and the so-called “one state solution” that naturally underpins BDS) make that less, not more, likely.

    I promised to come back to you on South Africa and sanctions (some, but not all, of this repeats what is argued in the link I previously provided):

    Contrary to myth, there is not a lot of evidence that the South African boycott worked. It ran from the early 1960s to 1994, with little effect. What was decisive was the struggle of black workers and the poor in the townships, who from the late 1970s became organised, for instance in the multi-racial trade unions. They brought the apartheid regime to its knees, forcing it to hand over to the ANC for fear of something ‘worse’, i.e. a workers’ revolution.

    There were also problems with the boycott as it was constituted – the leaders of the ANC, for instance, tried to use it to prevent direct links between the independent trade unions and workers’ organisations in other countries. But, overall, the left had no choice but to support the boycott. Its aim was to make apartheid South Africa stink in the nostrils of world public opinion, and rightly so. Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians also stinks, but the differences are decisive. Israel-Palestine is not South Africa.

    For Marxists, “apartheid” was not simply a term of abuse, but had a definite class content. It was a peculiar social system in which a white caste, intertwined with the capitalist ruling class, denied the black majority elementary political rights (ie democracy) in order to enforce super-exploitation. The answer, short of socialist revolution, was a single state with equal rights for all. For democrats, let alone socialists, there was no question of ‘national rights’ for the whites, of collective rights for whites as a group (as distinct from living with individual equal rights after the overthrow of apartheid). The majority of the people in the single state of South Africa supported the boycott. It was therefore right to support it, albeit with criticisms.

    The Israelis are not a narrow caste, and Israeli is not an apartheid state, but a nation – one that denies rights to and oppresses the Palestinians, but a nation nonetheless. Iraq, Iran and Turkey are not “apartheid states” because they oppress the Kurds, Russia is not an “apartheid state” because of its occupation of Chechnya and China is not an “apartheid state” because of its denial of national rights to Tibet.

    Israel’s social structure is decisively different to that of apartheid South Africa. It is a national entity, not simply a settler-caste state. Within Israel, there are Israeli-Jewish-Hebrew speaking capitalists, workers, intermediate layers. The great majority of the working class is ethnically ‘Jewish’, and for the reasons I’ve explained above, their view matters. They do not have the right to support the denial of rights to the Palestinians, but they do have the right to want to keep their own national rights. That is why in Palestine, unlike in South Africa, the best immediate settlement from a working-class point of view is two states (with equal rights for everyone in both states, of course).

    P.S: On One State or Two States, and just to show that the Two States position is not unique to the AWL (actually it’s in theory the mainstream leftist position, but you’d never know that in the UK), here is Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom very politely making mincemeat of the academic poster-boy of all professional Israel-haters, Ilan Pappe:

    http://www.inminds.com/article.php?id=10155

    • Sensorite said,

      Dear Jim,

      Many thx for taking the time to write such a full and polite explanation of your views, and I fully respect your views.

      I agree that dialogue with the left in Palestine/Israel, both the Palestinian and Israeli left, is probably crucial, and if they feel that sanctions and/or boycotts are not an effective form of changing the status quo in Israel, then that is of course a hugely important consideration in any action.

      I would, personally, argue that the ‘denormalisation’ is a crucial part of change, given that the ‘norm’ is making any chance of any resolution of this conflict on a daily basis in the form of the settlement program.

      I also think that, whether you or I would prefer a one or two state solution is important, but the most important task is to help to create conditions in which Israelis and Palestinians appreciate the desirability of working together in order to resolve their conflict, and that the solution should also be in the hands of those peoples.

      Just to re-iterate, my utopian ‘one-state solution’ does not involve the obliteration or forceful repatriation of Israelis. As I’ve said before, 2 or 3 wrongs don’t make a right. The closest model I have for a fair resolution of this problem is the relative peace which has been achieved in Northern Ireland. As you know I’m sure, in that case, US pressure helped bring the relevant parties to the table. Since the US is either unwilling or unable to do this in the case of Israel/Palestine, I would argue, yet again, that the current status quo does, indeed need to be ‘denormalised’. I also think it is unhelpful to all parties to ascribe racist connotations to suggestions which would not be ascribed if they were used in relation to other conflicts.

      A quick note on Galloway – although his actions can be, at best, embarassing and counter-productive to the Palestinian cause, given that he is one of the only UK mainstream politicians who appears willing to speak assertively for the Palestinians, I, unfortunately, find it hard to dismiss him out of hand.

      I’m aware that the ‘2 state solution’ is the mainstream one. Btw, are the 2 states you have in mind geographically the same as those proposed by mainstream UK and US politicians?

      Once again, thanks for your very considered response.

      Shalom!

    • Sensorite said,

      My question doesn’t seem to be up here so just quickly. If you have time I would like to know whether the 2 state solution you and/or the AWL is similar to that proposed by Obama recently.

      Cheers

  27. modernity's ghost said,

    Jim,

    Surely, the futility of exchanges with “anti-Zionists” is evidenced in this thread?

    Firstly, in Sensorite (and I use him/her as an example for a wider phenomena, it is nothing personal), you have someone who has entrenched on Zionism/the Middle East, etc but does not understand the basics of antiracism.

    Second, that his/her attitudes are not isolated. I have lost count of the number of preaching “anti-Zionists” who demonstrate an almost complete lack of awareness of the tenets of antiracism.

    Invariably, they have a fixed view of the Middle East and who is to blame yet won’t (or can’t) see the implications of their actions in the West, which is to increase racism towards Jews in Europe and elsewhere.

    Thirdly, when you point out how many of their central arguments are limited, misconceived or factually incorrect they rarely acknowledge it.
    But when they do, it is in a dismissive manner and carry on regardless, without for a moment readjusting their previous statements or arguments.

    Fourthly, in this whole process there is NO meaningful exchange of views, more a shouting matches where the antagonists lay out their points with little or no reference to their interlocutors rebuttals.

    Finally, when you tie this together, you end up arguing with people who basically don’t care what you say, aren’t terribly interested in the ramifications of these issues or the racism engendered, ignore basic facts and seem to treat the whole exercise as a bit of political game or football match.

    Thus, it seems futile to discuss complex subjects with people that have no genuine interest in them (otherwise they’d educate themselves on the complexities, but don’t) and those who make a habit of ignoring your counter arguments.

    Ultimately, you can’t reason with those devoid of reason, or an ability to show self-awareness on these topics.

    PS: I note how Bob’s recent pithy comment and more importantly, its implications, were not addressed by Sensorite.

    • Sensorite said,

      Give me a chance mate. I just have responded to it. You, on the other hand, have merely asserted that I don’t understand the issues and focussed on my ignorance of the definition of racism as defined in the UK Race Relations Act. Who’s the intransigent one? However, If that’s how you want to continue I’m happy to ‘plead ignorance’ and end this ‘discussion’.

  28. Bob-B said,

    The idea that Israelis and Palestinians can be expected to get along together in a single state when Czechs and Slovaks, Serbs and Croats, Indians and Pakistanis, North Sudanese and South Sudanese, and British and Irish have found that impossible is absurd. Only someone who lives in a fantasy world could believe it.

    • Sensorite said,

      I can only respond by re-stating my previous statement that it’s not impossible for people of different religions and nationalities to live on the same peace of land where there’s a will. I won’t provide a list except to assume your knowledge that the list of where this is the case is considerably longer than the one you have provided. Btw, where is the state you have described where British and Irish people ‘get along’. Northern Ireland? That’s a rhetorical question, as I’m actually quite fed up with the aggression of people posting on this site, with the exception of Jim Denham.

      As I’ve also previously stated, it’s not necessarilly for us to decide what the solution to this issue is, given that we are not the ones involved.

  29. Bob-B said,

    How well do people of different religions and nationalities get along elsewhere in the Middle East?

    • Sensorite said,

      Egypt is an example of relatively harmonious relations between people of different religions but I can see where you’re going with that question. Fine, so you don’t believe in a 2 state solution. I’m wondering whether you personally believe in any solution but that’s another story. I expect you’re thinking of e.g. Lebanon but I would argue that the destabilising behaviour of the Israeli government can largely be blamed for the behaviour of Hizbollah etc. Also, never say never (?)

      Just a quickie. As you should be aware ‘fantasists’ like M Gandhi didn’t want India and Pakistan to be separated. I don’t know what your position on M Gandhi is but I’d guess not favourable.

      As I’ve said, it’s not for left-wing or other activists in The West to decide the best solution to this problem even though ‘we’ are largely responsible of the largely sorry state of affairs which exists in the area concerned.

      Mod has suggested that it’s pointless to discuss these issues with ‘anti-semites’ like me and I’d have to say the feeling is mutual, although I would hope that my recent response to Jim Denham demonstrates that if someone presents a case suggesting that they share an interest in the grievances of the Palestinians but propose a different solution I, personally, as unwilling representative of the ‘anti-semites’ am willing to ‘listen’ and take their views on board. If they are not willing to present such a case, although I’m tempted to use a similar Anglo-Saxonism to ‘comradeNosaj’s’ description of my as a ‘cunt’, I’ll try to be abit more subtle.

      So, unless you want to have a slightly more ‘socratic’ exchange of views, erm, go away!

    • Sensorite said,

      Egypt is an example of relatively harmonious relations between people of different religions but I can see where you’re going with that question. Fine, so you don’t believe in a 2 state solution. I’m wondering whether you personally believe in any solution but that’s another story. I expect you’re thinking of e.g. Lebanon but I would argue that the destabilising behaviour of the Israeli government can largely be blamed for the behaviour of Hizbollah etc. Also, never say never (?)

      Just a quickie. As you should be aware ‘fantasists’ like M Gandhi didn’t want India and Pakistan to be separated. I don’t know what your position on M Gandhi is but I’d guess not favourable.

      As I’ve said, it’s not for left-wing or other activists in The West to decide the best solution to this problem even though ‘we’ are largely responsible of the largely sorry state of affairs which exists in the area concerned.

      Mod has suggested that it’s pointless to discuss these issues with ‘anti-semites’ like me and I’d have to say the feeling is mutual, although I would hope that my recent response to Jim Denham demonstrates that if someone presents a case suggesting that they share an interest in the grievances of the Palestinians but propose a different solution I, personally, as unwilling representative of the ‘anti-semites’ am willing to ‘listen’ and take their views on board. If they are not willing to present such a case, although I’m tempted to use a similar Anglo-Saxonism to ‘comradeNosaj’s’ description of my as a ‘cunt’, I’ll try to be abit more subtle.

      So, unless you wish to have a slightly more ‘socratic’ exchange of views, erm, please go away!

      Maybe you should heed Mod’s advice and don’t bother ‘debating’ with me. Why not stick to the good old Left-wing hobby of preaching to the converted?

  30. modernity's ghost said,

    Sensorite,

    I am not being rude, but you are deliberately obtuse.

    You make a central point that Galloway (or by implication anyone) can’t be racist as (I paraphrase) “nationality does not constitutes a ‘race’ ”

    When I point out that is factually and historically incorrect, you carry on without a moment’s pause.

    This is a key point which you miss:

    it is perfectly possible to be racist towards an ethnic or national minority, even if they don’t constitute what you consider to be a “race”.

    That is not me just saying it.

    That’s the law, that is proven by history, that’s an accepted fact by active antiracists and theorists in this field and with good reason.

    But and this is my point to Jim, you and other “anti-Zionists” don’t reflect on these matters with much thought, don’t understand the subtleties and don’t let facts or the history of racism get in the way of your (ever repetitive) arguments.

    It is like a game to most “anti-Zionists” I have run across, not very serious about these issues and unconcerned to think things through.

    All in all, it is a very insular way of thinking. Knowing you are right, ignore inconvenient facts and repeating your position without reference to your interlocutors.

    Common enough in many fields, but rather tedious on such an important set of issues.

  31. modernity's ghost said,

    PS: Sensorite, you are misrepresenting /misreading my views again.

    I did not say: “…it’s pointless to discuss these issues with ‘anti-semites’ like me “

    I said: futility of exchanges with “anti-Zionists”… where the antagonists lay out their points with little or no reference to their interlocutors rebuttals.

    What could we have written to change your views?

    Sensorite, you came here with predetermined opinions and presumably will leave with them, intact, unchanged and uninterested in antiracism.

    • Sensorite said,

      ‘anti-semites’ is of course a reference to my weariness of the, as I say it, over-use of the term ‘anti-semite’ and other, as I would put it. Even Jim, who posted a very reasonable reply to my question about the alleged racism of the BDS boycott, alleged as in an accusation whereby the jury is still out,calls the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe a ‘poster boy for the Israel-haters’. I’ve just started reading a book by Pappe with rave reviews from The Times and Independant. Are they Israel-haters? My point, although Jim sent me AN (i.e.not the ‘definitive’) answer to this question – at what point does an Israel ‘critic’ become an Israel hater? It’s worth thinking before we trade insults, and of course I need to practice what I preach. As M Gandhi might have put it ‘if you fight fire with fire you end up with an inferno’.

      Also apologies if I don’t repeat statements such as ‘futility of exchanges with “anti-Zionists” verbatim. I do have other stuff to do and if you think I’m deliberately mis-representing you I can’t stop you.

      More happily, as I said, Jim’s response did provide food for thought and I will give them the digestive time they deserve.

      I do accept that most people see debate as a way to try to prove ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ which is futile. I don’t dismiss sensible, compassionate and reasonably put arguments out of hand although, of course, many, if not all, of those on both sides of this, and other, debates, do tend to. To prove it, I recently read with interest this link sent by someone else I correspond with on these issues, which puts the Israeli point of view in a constructive way.

      http://www.peacewithrealism.org/jihad/jihad02.htm

      Like I said, I accept that some of my posts have been ‘deliberately glib’ and I tried to explain why. On the other hand, if I don’t ‘come round to your point of view’ it doesn’t by definition mean I’m uninterested in your point of view. And ‘apologies’ if my views are ‘repetitive’. I know variety is ‘the spice of life’ but I’m not going to change my views just for the sake of it!

      Shalom?

      • Sensorite said,

        I don’t see why you say I confuse your views with Jim’s. Mine was a reply to you, not to him. I hope you can see that if I didn’t take this issue seriously I wouldn’t keep putting long posts up here. I am indeed very serious about anti-racism and Islamophobia for want of a better word although, of course, wasn’t aware of it’s definition according to the Race Relations Act of 1976.

        You seem to me to be looking for any way to discredit and patronise me rather than discuss the issues with someone who, admittedly, knows less about the many if not all of the issues involved than yourself. That’s fine, but suggests that, if you will only discuss issues with full-time activists etc then whatever political organisation/s you associate with, if any, are only ever going to have a very limited appeal.

        Whilst I don’t have a Phd in the relevant issues I do know considerably more about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict than the average Brit and/or Westerner. If you feel I am too unhinged and/or ignorant to discuss these matters with you that’s absolutely fine by me.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        “I don’t see why you say I confuse your views with Jim’s. “

        I demonstrated above how I don’t use certain words and you have suggested that I do.

        I do not call someone an antisemite unless I think they are

        If I thought you were we would not be having this exchange. I do not believe in being polite to antisemites.

        Unlike Jim, I use that term VERY, very sparingly.

        “You seem to me to be looking for any way to discredit and patronise me rather than discuss the issues”

        As I made the point earlier, which you seem to have disregarded/missed, I initially assumed you were ill informed, NOT malicious.

        I still hold to that opinion.

        ” I am indeed very serious about anti-racism and Islamophobia for want of a better word although, of course, wasn’t aware of it’s definition according to the Race Relations Act of 1976.”

        That’s good, I think that anti-Muslim bigotry is a problem.

        But my criticism was NOT of you knowing the contents of the Race Relations Act, rather your simplistic contention that one could not be racist against nationalities.

        That was my issue. It is not a small issue in antiracism.

        And I’m surprised you are British, as Britain has a long and unsavoury history of racism towards the Irish, the French and many other nationalities.

        It is hard in Britain not to run across the jingoistic xenophobia from the tabloids, UKIP and other anti-European elements which play into anti-French sentiment.

        It is difficult to understand how the British can have access to the Internet yet could be ignorant of their own racism towards the Irish.

        This page might illuminate the topic, http://www.victorianweb.org/history/race/Racism.html

        During the 1970s the National Front and Pub racists often used a similar argument lines of “I have nothing against Blacks, it is the Jamaicans I can’t stand.” which plays off your original argument that you can’t, supposedly, be racist towards nationalities.

        I hope you see the implications of those latter points?

      • Sensorite said,

        Fair enough. I kind of,wrongly assumed that from some comments that you and Jim were somehow ideological soul-mates and instrumental in the running of this blog. Apologies for this and I’m also mindful of Benny Hill’s cautioning against assuming! Joke…

        Just so you know I’m not ignoring your posts and do take these issues VERY seriously, particularly the Israeli/Palestinian conflict which I am partially ‘active’ in as a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, I’ll read your comments and links you recommend more fully and give you a considered response in the next day or so.

        Shalom

      • modernity's ghost said,

      • modernity's ghost said,

        OK,

        But please be very clear, I am not Jim, and he wouldn’t want to be me.

        In the PSC? Hmm, (bemused).

        One final long thought, you have suggested that you’re being maligned for your desire to boycott Israelis.

        I understand that.***

        But try this, pop over to a forum in Australia and Canada, make a list of their crimes against the indigenous people of those countries and a strong, sturdy case for boycotting Canadians/Aussies, then see what response you get.

        My bet is that posters won’t be *half* as polite as they are here.

        When you effectively say “Yes, let’s boycott Israelis, not worry about the ramifications and if racism against Jews rises, hard cheese” then you touch a nerve.

        Surely, you see that?

        The same applied if you suggested to Canadians boycotting them for their forced settlement, rape of the land and destruction of indigenous people’s rights, etc etc

        Do you see the parallels?

        [*** It was probably Will, he's like that. I think he said I should be killed, several times when I spoke out against Hitchens, but never mind him. Best ignore abusive types.]

      • Sensorite said,

        Mod,

        I’ll look at the Independant article later but here are some immediate thoughts. Apologies if some of them are stating the bleeding obvious which probably nearly everyone who comes to this blog knows and sound like I’ve spent the last 10 years living in a cave, and also apologies if any of the below is a repeat of comments I’ve made on this page. Btw, although I’m British I’ve lived outside of the UK for most of the last 10 years including currently in Saudi Arabia. Some of these points are to sum up and also addressed to others who’ve commented on my posts. Sorry again.

        Re your point about the Australian and North American abuses of the indigenous peoples there – a worthwhile point, but if these actions were occurring now I would say that a boycott is, indeed, justified. Allegedly we now live in post-colonial times and so callous disregard for the human rights of ‘indigenous peoples’ (note inverted commas) should no longer be tolerated, nor should they ever have been of course. And, without wanting to sound like a scratched record, most of the left, as far as I’m aware, agreed in the 80s that an economic, cultural and sporting boycott of South Africa was a necessary evil. I’m afraid I don’t accept the suggestion that support for the BDS action = a desire to ‘destroy Israel’.

        ‘Necessary evil’ I hope goes some way to answering your suggestion that some might see the BDS action as, sorry to say it again ‘anti-Semitic’. Don’t want to sound callous, but the BDS action is also supported by some jewish people, and if people can’t see that the action is against the Israeli govt and not jews in general, then I’m afraid it is, indeed, for them to sort out. I’m tired of this debate being hampered by people who can’t or won’t see the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-jew.

        Given that the current ‘norm/status quo’ in Israel.means that ANY solution, 1 state or 2, is impossible, so the political status quo in Israel does indeed need to be ‘denormalised’. I don’t see how any well-balanced person could apply racial connotations to this term, and, the BDS supporters I know of don’t want the ‘destruction’ of Israel, although I know even Norman Finkelstein has argued the opposite. The aim, again, is a change in the status quo. How many states are involved in the solution comes later. Although I should possibly know this already, any idea what the Israeli and/or Palestinian non-violent left thinks of the potential efficacy and/or morality of a boycott?

        Speaking of tough skins, btw, I will try to ignore abusive comments, but think that others should do the same, if you see what I mean.

        Onto the issue of race itself. Although I would say I have a ‘working knowledge’ of the CAUSES of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict I, by no means, claim to be any kind of expert on racial politics, but I’ll try to respond to your comments.

        My non-expert view is that, regardless of what it says in the RR act, bigotry towards those of a particular nationality should be treated as an issue which is separate from, but of course related to, and just as serious as, racism on the basis of colour of skin etc. Your point about anti-French bigotry seeming to be acceptable in ‘polite conversation’ and popular culture is an important one I would concur with. I don’t know if you saw the popular Rowan Atkinson film ‘Johnny English’ but alot of it was based around having a good old laugh at abit of harmless anti-French bigotry. I’ll try not to mention the war or even Fawlty Towers.

        Re anti-Irish bigotry, I’ll read the Independent article and then try to make a worthwhile response, but I do believe that Neil Kinnock, for what it’s worth, would have stood a better chance of being elected had he not been a redhead Welshman with freckles. And then there’s the lampooning of John Prescott, although, sadly, he was kind of ‘his own worst enemy’ in some ways, if you see what I mean, but there seems to have be a ‘popular consensus’ that Northerner with thick Hull accent = thicko, but then alot of that can also be explained by classism.

        I’m glad that you share my concern about Islamophobia. My feeling (stating the obvious?) is that myths about ‘Islamification of Europe and North America’ are becoming so prevalent in ‘Western society’ that this issue is in danger of becoming as endemic as anti-Semitism was in 19th century Europe, although I’m no expert on the latter. I also fear that it’s being a ‘pseudo-intellectual’ gloss by pseudo-intellectual ‘new atheists’ like Sam Harris with their misinformed suggestions that The Koran is the sole/main reason for terrorism, as opposed to geo-political factors. I also seem to find myself spending alot of time arguing with ‘new atheists’ on you-tube.

        I think it could be time for Muslim reformers and non Muslims to come together to counter what I prefer to call ‘Muslimophobia’. It’s a complicated issue I know but I think a charter on ‘how to criticise the Koran without being racist’ could be a good starting point.

        Sorry again if any of the above points are abit dumb but pls take them in the well-intentioned spirit they are meant. I look forward to reading the Independent article you sent, but may take abit of rest from this blog – this blogging business is exhausting!

        Cheers

      • Sensorite said,

        Mod,

        I’ll look at the Independant article later but here are some immediate thoughts. Apologies if some of them are stating the bleeding obvious which probably nearly everyone who comes to this blog knows and sound like I’ve spent the last 10 years living in a cave, and also apologies if any of the below is a repeat of comments I’ve made on this page. Btw, although I’m British I’ve lived outside of the UK for most of the last 10 years including currently in Saudi Arabia. Some of these points are to sum up and also addressed to others who’ve commented on my posts. Sorry again.

        Re your point about the Australian and North American abuses of the indigenous peoples there – a worthwhile point, but if these actions were occurring now I would say that a boycott is, indeed, justified. Allegedly we now live in post-colonial times and so callous disregard for the human rights of ‘indigenous peoples’ (note inverted commas) should no longer be tolerated, nor should they ever have been of course. And, without wanting to sound like a scratched record, most of the left, as far as I’m aware, agreed in the 80s that an economic, cultural and sporting boycott of South Africa was a necessary evil. I’m afraid I don’t accept the suggestion that support for the BDS action = a desire to ‘destroy Israel’.

        ‘Necessary evil’ I hope goes some way to answering your suggestion that some might see the BDS action as, sorry to say it again ‘anti-Semitic’. Don’t want to sound callous, but the BDS action is also supported by some jewish people, and if people can’t see that the action is against the Israeli govt and not jews in general, then I’m afraid it is, indeed, for them to sort out. Given that the current ‘norm/status quo’ in Israel.means that ANY solution, 1 state or 2, is impossible, so the political status quo in Israel does indeed need to be ‘denormalised’. I don’t see how any well-balanced person could apply racial connotations to this term, and, the BDS supporters I know of don’t want the ‘destruction’ of Israel, although I know even Norman Finkelstein has argued the opposite. The aim, again, is a change in the status quo. How many states are involved in the solution comes later. Although I should possibly know this already, any idea what the Israeli and/or Palestinian non-violent left thinks of the potential efficacy and/or morality of a boycott?

        Speaking of tough skins, btw, I will try to ignore abusive comments, but think that others should do the same, if you see what I mean.

        Onto the issue of race itself. Although I would say I have a ‘working knowledge’ of the CAUSES of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict I, by no means, claim to be any kind of expert on racial politics, but I’ll try to respond to your comments.

        My non-expert view is that, regardless of what it says in the RR act, bigotry towards those of a particular nationality should be treated as an issue which is separate from, but of course related to, and just as serious as, racism on the basis of colour of skin etc. Your point about anti-French bigotry seeming to be acceptable in ‘polite conversation’ and popular culture is an important one I would concur with. I don’t know if you saw the popular Rowan Atkinson film ‘Johnny English’ but alot of it was based around having a good old laugh at abit of harmless anti-French bigotry. I’ll try not to mention the war or even Fawlty Towers.

        Re anti-Irish bigotry, I’ll read the Independent article and then try to make a worthwhile response, but I do believe that Neil Kinnock, for what it’s worth, would have stood a better chance of being elected had he not been a redhead Welshman with freckles. And then there’s the lampooning of John Prescott, although, sadly, he was kind of ‘his own worst enemy’ in some ways, if you see what I mean, but there seems to have be a ‘popular consensus’ that Northerner with thick Hull accent = thicko, but then alot of that can also be explained by classism.

        I’m glad that you share my concern about Islamophobia. My feeling (stating the obvious?) is that myths about ‘Islamification of Europe and North America’ are becoming so prevalent in ‘Western society’ that this issue is in danger of becoming as endemic as anti-Semitism was in 19th century Europe, although I’m no expert on the latter. I also fear that it’s being a ‘pseudo-intellectual’ gloss by pseudo-intellectual ‘new atheists’ like Sam Harris with their misinformed suggestions that The Koran is the sole/main reason for terrorism, as opposed to geo-political factors. I also seem to find myself spending alot of time arguing with ‘new atheists’ on you-tube.

        I think it could be time for Muslim reformers and non Muslims to come together to counter what I prefer to call ‘Muslimophobia’. It’s a complicated issue I know but I think a charter on ‘how to criticise the Koran without being racist’ could be a good starting point.

        Sorry again if any of the above points are abit dumb but pls take them in the well-intentioned spirit they are meant. I look forward to reading the Independent article you sent, but may take abit of rest from this blog – this blogging business is exhausting!

        Cheers

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Senorite,

        Let me do what you’ve done and apologise.

        I’m afraid I have a real problem with people that don’t read/can’t understand what I am getting at.

        I have the same difficulty with Jim and many in the AWL, the inability to address specific points in a logical fashion.

        Instead each exchange becomes rambling stream of consciousness and don’t enhance our understanding of the issues.

        Sorry, if I seem abrupt but is very annoying.

        1. Please NOTICE: I don’t use the term BDS, I wrote boycott, specifically.

        2. Please remember: I did not imply that BDSers/PSC or anti-Zionists were antisemites. I don’t believe that so it is not a point that I make.

        If I think something is antisemitic I will say so. I am not shy.

        3.I made the clear case that, in MY experiences, many who debate these issues seem either stupid, disinterested in the issues or can’t get their heads around the history and sensitivities of these issues, that applies to both sides.

        4. So you’ve missed my point concerning Canadian/Australia completely.

        5. In my experience there is an almost complete lack of awareness of antiracism, history of the themes of antisemitism and the necessity to understand it amongst many “activists”.

        6. My point about understanding is simple.

        If someone is REALLY, really interested in an issue then they tend to educate themselves on it. That’s if they are serious, whereas my feeling is that many “activists” aren’t. They learn enough to parrot “apartheid”, etc but don’t make any effort to understand how such points are perceived.

        Let me explain it another way. Jim is interested in Jazz. Jim really knows about Jazz, not because someone told him what to think, but by hours of listening, thinking and discussing Jazz. Jim could probably talk, intelligen wall of the top of thetly, for hours on Jazz, even stuff he doesn’t like.

        Jim has a subtle understanding of Jazz, because he’s interested in it.

        Whereas many British “activists” ain’t interested in antiracism and without a deep understanding of it then making sense of the Middle East, how people see things or how they perceive others, is next to impossible.

        7. Finally, if British “activists” want to be taken seriously then they must address that issue, lest they are thought of as useful idiots for the Far Right (explanation: it is increasingly common to find “activists” either using old Far Right arguments, or material from the Extreme Rights. A few examples are Greta Berlin, Rev. Sizer, Gilad Atzmon, etc).

      • Sensorite said,

        Well, thanks for your response. I agree that an ordered response is easier to respond to than what you call ‘a stream of consciousness’, so I’ll stick to that format as much as I can.

        1 I mentioned that I’m not an expert in theories of racial politics, and can easily see how you could therefore argue that I’m not well-placed to judge whether something is racist or not. I do, having studied it, however, know considerably more about the reasons for the conflict over Israel/Palestine than most people I meet, which is sweet jack shit. This is one of the reasons why I feel it is my imperative on me to at least ‘do my bit’ for the cause of the Palestinians.

        You made more general points about anti-racism and/or Islamophobia and I tried to make some worthwhile responses, given that you previously ‘complained’ that you hadn’t received a response to one of your posts.

        I generally only, of course, comment about issues which I feel like I have enough knowledge to comment on. I do think that the power of common sense and compassion (as in, for example, an ability to a willingness to understand the plight of others on different sides of a conflict) is not to be under-estimated. Christopher Hitchens is one of many names which springs to mind of someone who was obviously quite intelligent and very-well read but talked alot of BS. Despite his superior knowledge I feel quite able to point out why alot of his ‘arguments’ were, indeed, total BS. What I mean, therefore is – more knowledge often, but not always, leads to a more valid opinion.

        2 If you feel that this blog is only for people who are expert in left wing and other political theory that’s understandable. I may well unsubscribe as I do find it very hard to keep my fingers to myself when I feel, for example, that people are writing BS about Palestine and the related issue of anti-semitism. I do also, for the record, have a reasonable knowledge of, for example, the basics of Marxist analysis and history for example having studies it to some extent.

        3 There are, of course, very few people have TIME to be expert in these areas. That, I would have thought, raises interesting questions re your suggestion, if I understood correctly, that only experts should be ‘active’ in politics. I also get frustrated at people who are involved in politics who are only able to make a simplistic analysis of complex issues. Does that mean, however, that only an elite few should be active in politics? I’m not suggesting that issues should be ‘dumbed down’ but, as I’ve suggested before, anyone with a certain amount of compassion and a ‘working knowledge’ of the Israeli/Palestinian issue is able to see that the status quo is profoundly unacceptable and therefore needs to be changed.

        4 You tell me I don’t understand arguments yet don’t explain why. So I misunderstood your point about Canada, Australia etc. If I make a point which I feel someone has misunderstood I don’t, personally, feel it’s enough to say ‘you don’t understand my point’.

        I will bare in mind your suggestion that I’m not qualified to make comments on this blog before I do so again. Again, sorry if I’ve misunderstood any of your points.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        “your suggestion, if I understood correctly, that only experts should be ‘active’ in politics. “

        Senorite,

        NO, that was not my suggestion.

        You’ve got the wrong end of the stick completely.

        What can I say? I have tried my best to explain these issues slowly, but you seem to skip the essence of my points.

        I think an interest in the Middle East is good, but that requires more than superficial talking points (“apartheid” “bds”, “don’t call me an antisemite”, etc).

        It does not require a degree or being a self-selected “expert” rather the willingness to UNDERSTAND racism and antiracism.

        Above all, it means leaving the British “Christian” baggage, which so many Western “activists” bring to this issue, which is seen as a hobby horse to bash Jews.

        If you are truly going to help the Palestinians, which is a good cause then you need to know what to *avoid* and why. That requires awareness of racism, a very broad grasp of it and an appreciation of antiracism.

        Take an interest, READ, think, avoid buzz words, avoid hard right sources (as with that above link which has an onward link to Daniel Pipes’ nonsense).

        Further, try to explain, in a lucid and considered way, why the PSC had a Holocaust denier in it, and what that tells us about how *some* people see this issue.

        It means understanding how PSC “activists” are seen, from the outside.

        Please, please, think before replying.

      • Sensorite said,

        Fair enough. Just a quicky. Re the PSC, it seems to me far less than perfect for the reasons you intimated, but as, seemingly, the leading ‘one issue’ Palestinian Support group, in the UK, for me, it has to be supported.

        For what it’s worth, if I ever got the chance, I would explain to them why I think they should be as robust in criticising Hamas as they are with criticising the Israeli government. I’m also aware that they have associated with some unsavoury characters.

        Given that you’ve criticised me for lack of clarity etc, what do you mean by British ‘Christian’ baggage?

        Cheers.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        My point concerning Australians/Canadians was three fold:

        1. The British are marvellous at criticising others, but often forget history of forced settlement, complete destruction of countries, etc committed by themselves, their own crimes

        2. You complained that people were criticising you, yet you could not understand why?

        Had you criticised Canadians or Australian (who have done along with the British, much worse than Israelis) then they would be very, very rude to you.

        3. You can’t understand how the callous argument to boycott Jews are felt, from the other side. If you had then you wouldn’t be surprised that people get very annoyed at it.

        Because in effect, what you are saying is:

        “All of the 200 countries in the world, with far far worse records of human rights abuses, I think the **only** that should be boycotted is one with a predominantly Jewish population.

        I don’t care about China’s settlement of Tibet or her crimes. I don’t care about Assad murdering 70,000+ people. I am not worried about British occupation of bits of the globe.

        No, I think Israelis are the worse and should be boycotted, even if that has echoes of the 1930s (see Poland, etc)

        I don’t care about the dozens of countries in the Middle East with worse human rights records, like Saudi Arabia, etc.

        No, I wish to boycott Israelis and only Israelis and I can’t see why they should be annoyed at that.”

        Because that’s what people *hear*. Now, you need to understand why they hear it that way….

      • Sensorite said,

        I just saw your second post. OK. Although a boycott against Israel’s government is not a boycott against jews – very ood point re other brutal regimes e.g. China which certainly deserves some thought. Re Syria, the answer is obvious. They should also be boycotted.

        I do have reasons for concentrated my ‘efforts’ on the Israeli/Palestine issue as opposed to other very important issues but I won’t bore you with them. Your quite aggressive style of communicating is one you are entitled to use but I find it quite unattractive I’m afraid. Maybe this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I’m more than happy to end this discussion although wouldn’t mind if you could answer the one question I posed in my previous post.

      • Sensorite said,

        I also see your point about ‘why should only the jews be targetted’ and the complexity that the history of anti-semitism brings to this issue of course. I could answer it but, like I said, your, for me, overly combatorial style is rather off-putting. The heat in this particular kitchen is abit too much for me at the moment.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Senorite,

        Three points.

        1. I can understand that you wish people to be sensitive to your feelings.

        Yet you do not acknowledge how insensitive a proposed boycott of Israelis (and only Israelis) is.

        Hmm, see the connection?

        Imagine how Israelis, who fight the Israeli Govt on a daily basis, feel when they are told:

        “No worries, we want to boycott you too, not for your views, not for your actions, but because you are an Israeli, for existing.”

        2. Was my question:

        Further, try to explain, in a lucid and considered way, why the PSC had a Holocaust denier in it, and what that tells us about how *some* people see this issue.

        Not clear enough? Please, try.

        From the outside, it looks like the PSC don’t give a damn about racism or Holocaust denial & think it is compatible with PSC membership (remembering that 1/5 of conference want to keep Francis Clark-Lowes as a member).

        How does it look from a PSC supporter’s side?

        3. Re: British Christian Baggage

        I would argue in much the same way that the British have (or have had) a negative societal view of the French/Irish, a similar attitude is shown towards Jews.

        Not exactly, but in a broader sense.

        That, in my view, is a relic of the dominant Christian teachings found in certain western countries. Such negative predilections go part way to explain many of the attitudes towards the Israelis/Jews as found in Britain.

      • Sensorite said,

        I’m going to be as succinct as possible. Although I have possibly made some somewhat aggressive posts here I haven’t subjected anyone to the unexpected Spanish inquisition. I know that maybe this is ‘la mode’ for left-wing activists but it isn’t my ‘cup of tea’. I’ll try to answer your question about boycotts in abit

        1 Re China. Having considered your point, a boycott would be totally justified and I would expect well-educated Chinese people to understand the reasons. Btw you’ve still not given me your answer as to whether the boycott of South Africa was justified. As I suggested on another post, if those who ‘fight the Israeli govt on a daily basis’ are opposed to a boycott then that is a very important consideration. Having done some research it appears that Palestinian NGOs and labor unions issued a call for boycott, but I’m happy to be corrected on this point.

        I don’t know about you, but I, unfortunately I’m a musician with job to hold down so, much as I’d like to have an even more in-depth knowledge of relevant issues….

        Just to reassure you, my ‘activism’, partly as I’m l’m living outside of the UK, is confined to a few emails, petitions and paying my subs. Maybe I should read the small-print better because…..As you may have noticed the can of ‘representative for all that you dislike about Pro-Palestinian ‘activists’ is one I’m not that well-equipped to carry.

        2 Believe it or not, I didn’t know about the member you are talking about. It sounds like the PSC is trying to do something about said member and, although this is probably a red rag, it is clear that 4/5 of the supporters want him out. The Palestinian cause attracts all sorts of people, some clearly anti-semitic.

        Alot of Labour party members are racist. Does that discredit BY DEFINITION the entire Labour party? Maybe you would say yes.

        ‘Hmm, see the connection?’ he says…..

        3 I am aware, of course, that the awful history of anti-semitism leading to the pogroms and holocaust affects peoples perception of these issues. My feeling is that the only solution, given that anti-semitism is often deliberately used to deflect criticism of Israeli govt actions, the only solution is to treat said govt in the same way as any other which consistently violates human rights and international law, no better and no worse.

        You may well think this comparison is banal but, to do otherwise, to me, would be like refraining from criticising Obama’s administration because he is mixed race.

        I’ve made points 2 and 3 despite your aggression (and I accept that I may have been guilty of the same) because I am interested in your answer to the following.

        A If the PSC is discredited, given that you accept that the Palestinian cause is a worthwhile one, which, if any group in the UK should someone who supports said cause support?

        B Since you are obviously opposed to a boycott, what would be your strategy for resolving the Palestinian/Israeli conflict?

        Re Britain and its’ role. As you are aware ‘we’ helped create and maintain this situation and therefore, I would argue it is up to ‘us’ to help solve it.

        I’ve never thought I would feel like the victim of cyber-bullying by a supposed Socialist, but I guess it takes all sorts. I am just someone who feels that, given he knows more about this issue than the vast majority of Brits, and, as a Brit, is currently part of the problem not the solution. I don’t actively support BDS. It just strikes me as a sensible, if unpleasant evil.

        I’d thank you to have the courtesy to respond to my 2 questions with some semblance of civility before I unsubscribe from this blog.

        Btw, I’m aware that you are not Jim but, despite the fact that he and I obviously profoundly disagree on the relevant issues, he was able to politely explain his views allowing me to return the compliment. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned, and maybe we all have failings.

      • Sensorite said,

        PS I’m also far from uninterested in the sensitivities of jewish people. In fact, as it happens, I am ethnically jewish myself.

      • Sensorite said,

        Sorry this response is a little less structured.

        Btw, I thought I’d also see if there’s any chance of you giving an answer to the question I’ve posed several times.

        1 Was the cultural, economic etc boycott of South Africa an attack on white South African people?

        I hope that was clear enough. In your words, I would like an answer. Please, try.

        You complain about me not accidentally no quoting you verbatim, as if I have time to cut and paste every comment you make, yet you apparently have no objection to ‘putting words into my mouth’, e.g. “No worries, we want to boycott you too, not for your views, not for your actions, but because you are an Israeli, for existing.”

        As it happens, I had some particularly shitty news followed by several people, yourself included, being arseholes to me. Not getting the violins out, just suggesting that you try a little civility when ‘talking to strangers’.

        Another reason I mention this is maybe it explains why I’m perhaps being abit slow before wondering whether what you are getting at when you ask whether Australians, Canadians would be a polite if……..is this,

        Perhaps you, yourself, have partial or more Israeli citizenship (?) If so, I’m glad I’ve been able to at least try to explain why a boycott would not be ‘because you are Israeli’.

        By the way, you say that you don’t consider me an anti-semite and that you don’t believe in being polite to anti-semites. You may well take this as a compliment, but I would really hate to meet you when you’re being rude!

        Is this relevant? Perhaps, at least in terms of the important ‘human issue’ of trying to be civil when having a conversation with a stranger. No matter how much you may despise my political views, a political disagreement doesn’t justify either verbal or physical aggression, does it?

        You were unimpressed by my previous request not to fight fire with fire, so instead I’ll mirror you.

        I’ve now asked you 3 questions. Were they not clear enough? Please, try.

        Sorry to give you a taste of your own medicine, but I gather you’re quite thick-skinned, so have a nice weekend. And I do mean it.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        1. Oh I see, so you are arguing that a boycott is a means to persuade people? Negative reinforcement ? Tut, tut.

        I can’t work out if that’s either naive or plain witless.

        As a brain excercise, I suggest trying this out on someone, that has annoyed you, but they’ve been completely innocent, say to them: “I am going to boycott and be really nasty to you, because of someone else’s actions, to teach you a lesson”

        My bet is they’ll tell you to “go away”, but not as polite as that.

        Negative reinforcement doesn’t work on children or in psychology and I am prepared to bet that it won’t work when it comes to Israelis, quite the opposite.

        Its idiotic to assume that boycotting someone is going to persuade them of anything, other than the offensiveness of boycott and the boycottors.

        It shows an almost complete inability to comprehend human psychology.

        The original boycott came from a few political headbangers, the Roses, Jacqueline and her hubby, Steve. After that a few NGO took it over. Not the other way around, as you’ve been told.

        2. With access to the Internet, which we all have, its fairly easy to find out the facts, ignorance is no excuse.

        Ignorance of Holocaust denial is no excuse. Ignorance of such crude racism has no excuse.

        “The Palestinian cause attracts all sorts of people, some clearly anti-semitic.”

        And now, ever thought why?

        3. In answer to your questions.

        A: I favour a Western pro-Palestinian movement that wasn’t used as a stick to beat Israelis/Jews with.

        I would really like a pro-Palestinian movement in the West which excluded political extremists and racists.

        I would like a Western pro-Palestinian movement which really cared about Palestinians, as the current one obviously doesn’t.

        I would recommend reading the Engage web site, follow the CST on racism, kept up with Tell MAMA and OneVoice movement.

        But whatever people do, I don’t like political posturing which ultimately would lead to increased racism in Britain towards Jews, if such boycotts succeed.

        B: No, I don’t favour boycotting Israelis or Jews as it is historically offensive and leads to racism.

        It’s a bit like going up to Afro-Americans and telling them “that slavery wasn’t that bad”, it is foul and disrespectful.

        It shows a complete and deliberate ignorance of history.

        Also, I don’t favour boycotting the Irish, French, etc even the Saudis for the same reason.

        “As you are aware ‘we’ helped create and maintain this situation and therefore,”

        Nonsense. Britain wanted to keep Palestine under its boot. It’s just Westerners wanting to keep their finger in parts of the pie elsewhere, without looking to their own faults, Ireland, etc

        Posturing from Westerners makes it much worse.

        PS: I have not been impolite to you. Quite the opposite.

        I made an effort to read your questions and understand your point of view. Even if you do not show me that same courtesy or make an effort.

        But you must understand me I’m disappointed that people talk about this subject without doing elementary research, which is so easy on the Internet.

        I am disappointed when someone who is a member of the PSC, can’t see why the PSC is viewed as mostly cranks, bigots or the home of extremists.

        I prefer Ghandi quotes, who I am a fan of, but Russell said something along the lines of:

        “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”

        I find the certainty of anti-Israeli boycotters bordering on religious fanaticism and equally distasteful.

      • Sensorite said,

        So, as you know, the idea of a boycott is not, of course to ‘be nasty’ to ordinary Israelis although if it didn’t have an effect on the economy then, granted it would have an effect on those people, but hopefully only enough to persuade the Israeli govt to engage in meaningful negotiation. I’m sure you realise this as I say. Either you’re being disingenous or just plain stupid. Yes, I have given up the politeness as it’s clearly not a language you understand. If you really think you are ‘polite’ then either take a look in the mirror or read your own posts.

        ‘No, go on, answer. Try.’ You sound like ‘Gripper’ from Grange Hill if you’re old enough to remember him.

        Also, even though you complain about my ignorance and not answering questions you still haven’t answered 2 of my 3 questions properly.

        1 Was the main idea of the boycott of South Africa to ‘be nasty’ to white South Africans?

        2 So, you are opposed to a boycott. Yes, I gathered as much. The question was what, if any, action can be taken to persuade the Palestinians and Israelis to take part in meaningful negotiations aimed at some kind of acceptable resolution of this conflict.

        So, I’ve explained that a boycott against China, Syria and any number of murderous regimes would be justified and it’s a case of ‘targetting jews’. You. on the other hand, IF I’ve understood correctly, seem to argue that, owing to the history and continued existence of anti-semitism in Western countries, we should allow the Israeli government to continue its’ current settlement policy etc until the 2 state solution many on this site seem to favour is an impossibility, especially since you haven’t proposed any alternative course of action.

        This is an inference one can often draw from more right-wing commentators on this issue, but you have actually been quite overt about it. Interesting.

        You have made other points which I would respond to if I was communicating with someone who respected my right not to be ‘verbally abused’ in my own living room.

        Re the PCS, I also agree it would be good if there were campaign groups I felt I could support who weren’t tainted by holocaust denial etc, and I will, indeed, check out the organisations you mentioned, so thanks for at least answering THAT question!

        You are also right that questioning one’s views is vital, and, I guess as there are libraries in the world we should all be as well-versed in philosophy as Bertrand Russell, right? I also accept that it would be good if I knew more about the history of anti-semitism etc. (No you didn’t actually use the term but you might as well have). It’s on my ‘to-do list’. But, in my genuinely humble view, it’s not necessary to do a phd before you can join groups who are campaigning for causes which you care deeply about and have a ‘working knowledge’ of. In other words. It takes more than a few google searches to have the knowledge of anti-semiticism and theories of racism that you (apparently) do, and I’m not convinced by any stretch that it these phenomena should affect ones ‘activism’.

        But back to Russell; yes, humility and examination of ones beliefs (or lack of) are signs of wisdom. Maybe you should try it some time.

        Goodbye.

      • Sensorite said,

        Btw, no doubt you see my withdrawing from the conversation as a result of…… but I asked you 3 questions and you only answered one of them, given that one was was what you WOULD do, not an invitation to re-iterate what you WOULDN’T do.

        Unfortunately though, I’m only prepared to give you one chance.

      • Sensorite said,

        I’ve just read your response. It’s written in your usual aggressive style so, although you make some interesting points, I’m not going to spend to long on responding but, just for the record, I will try to clear up a few points. I presume you won’t take this personally as you seem to be quite thick-skinned.

        1 ‘Slippage’ by some advocates between the terms ‘Israeli govt’ and ‘Israeli’ is not an argument against a boycott, any more than aggressive pummelling of aggressive sarcasm etc is not, actually, an argument against so-called Socialists, isn’t actually an argument against socialism, no matter how tempted I might be for it to be so for me!

        What I mean by ‘so-called socialists’ is that I personally believe that socialism should begin at home. I hope you see what I mean.

        2 I’m sure you are aware, in reality, that it’s very difficult measure human rights in precise quantatative terms, unless you really do believe everything your read. I get the impression you read very selectively btw.

        3 It’s not particularly fair or sensible to complain that people who have decided, as I have, to focus on Palestine/Israel are not doing enough to protest etc against other human rights abuses, in the same way that I wouldn’t complain that a pro-Tibet campaigner is not doing enough re the Palestine/Israel situation or Bahrain, for example. They are all important causes who, in the case of the 1st 2 examples, motivate people to feel the need to do something. I agree that we should do more re Bahrain. Good point.

        4 I’m sure I don’t really need to make this point, but Western govts and media are very focussed on Syria, although possibly the former should do more. They are not focussed enough on Israel, in my view.

        You’ve made some worthwhile points and, although reading your posts feels abit like being hit over the head with a mallet, I’ll try to digest them, although I’m not sure the orchestra you mention, laudable as it may be, can really seriously be seen as anything more than ‘a nice idea’.

        Re your aggression –

        For example, you refer to my point on Balfour and then follow up with;

        ‘Maybe not a good argument eh?’

        And then go on to sarcastically suggest that (to which a whole paragraph is devoted…..Forgetting perhaps that it’s the lowest form of wit. Worthwhile in small doses but……

        I could clarify what I really meant by our ‘hand’ in this situation but I really don’t think this conversation is any longer worthwhile. I have often also ended conversations on you-tube because people either cannot express themselves in a ‘socratic’ and courteous way, so it’s not exactly ‘personal’ in that sense.

        But this time it really is goodbye……

      • modernity's ghost said,

        To my way of thinking, it is peculiar that the *style* of what I argue is more important to you than the history of the region or the arguments.

        Granted, I tend to be fairly direct in my approach. It is not aggression, a bit of sarcasm, occasionally.

        I have found that assuming others can see between the lines is problematic in such exchanges, as we all come from different vantage points and thus see the world differently.

        I prioritise anti-racism, whereas many PSC supporters do not.

        I don’t mind if people are direct (even very blunt towards me) as long as they make an effort, don’t apply lazy assumptions and read my words (not those of others).

        My time discussing these complex issues with various “activists” means I expect a bit more.

        I suppose I feel that “activists” should make more of an effort (as with my analogy with Jim and Jazz), much of their concern, it strikes me, is part as some form of self-absolution, with the Palestinians taking the role of a proxy to beat the Israelis/Jews with

        The reason I say that, and this is something that you’ve avoided, is how the PSC and other “activists” are almost silent about the appalling treatment of Palestinians outside of the West Bank and Gaza.

        Palestinians being used by the Assad regime or slaughtered in Syria seem of little real concern to Western “activists”.

        Why? A genuine concern for Palestinians? Or “wrong type” of death?

        I’d be more concerned to ask difficult questions on those issues, not blank it out and leave worrying about *style* for another time, if I were you.

    • modernity's ghost said,

      Sensorite,

      You seem to confuse me with Jim.

      And in doing so, conflate my arguments with his.

      Clearly, this is a rather silly thing to do, as me and Jim have very different views on this topic.

      But not only that, it conveys the impression that you are not very serious about this topic, because if you were then you would represent your interlocutors’ views with a degree of accuracy.

      Further, if you can’t see the difference between me and Jim, or the reason to represent people’s views here accurately than it suggests you won’t be able to grasp complex issues, which is important when it comes to the Middle East.

      Your ability to quote Gandhi is marvellous, but I would be far more impressed if you had a basic understanding of antiracism.

      • Sensorite said,

        Will do

      • Sensorite said,

        Just a quick point/clarification. I used Jim’s suggestion that Pappe is ‘the poster boy for the Israel haters’ (hopefully quoted more or less correctly) as an example of unhelpful language often used re ‘Israel critics’ but as I, according to you, don’t know enough about the issues concerned to comment it probably doesn’t matter what I think, right?

      • Sensorite said,

        One more thing, you said ‘I prioritise anti-racism, whereas many PSC supporters do not’. I think you’re probably right, and that is a serious and extremely important criticism, but why tar every Palestinian “activist” (note double inverted commas) with the same brush?

      • modernity's ghost said,

        I’ll take two of your points and keep it short:

        1.“I actually agree with you that the PSC should say alot more than it currently does (seemingly nothing) about the treatment of Palestinians in other countries, not least in the countries they fled to.”

        But can anyone provide a diagnosis as to *why* that happened?

        Why are the PSC ambivalent towards the treatment of Palestinians, when they are NOT in the West Bank or Gaza?

        “why tar every Palestinian “activist” (note double inverted commas) with the same brush?”

        2. Frankly, I am NOT interested in Western Palestinian “activists” that:
        1) are complacent and lazy about racism
        2) are ignorant of antiracism
        3) conduct “activism” which targets individual Israelis
        4) show hypocrisy towards the Palestinians
        5) use specious arguments to justify questionable positions
        6) whose actions ultimately increase racism towards Jews
        etc

        Clearly, if Western Palestinian “activists” feel hard done by, then they might want to ponder how many Israelis feel…

        Plus, they might want to attempt to answer my question:

        Why are the PSC ambivalent towards the treatment of Palestinians, when they are NOT in the West Bank or Gaza?

    • modernity's ghost said,

      Senorite,

      I have made an effort to answer your questions, as best I can. I have only just seen your latter reply of March 1, 2013 at 9:07 pm.

      But I think you need to decide, is this issue a personal one or really about helping the Palestinians?

      Because if you really, genuinely think the Palestinians are of utmost importance then taking umbrage in such exchanges is counter-productive to their cause.

      This was your last question (if I am right with the tally, please correct me if I am not):

      1 Was the cultural, economic etc boycott of South Africa an attack on white South African people?

      I do not agree with the premise of this question.

      The clumsy sleight of hand trying to equate Israelis with the Boers in apartheid South Africa is not something I think that’s tenable.

      If you wish to compare regimes you could start with:

      a. Saudi Arabia (with its gender apartheid, its appalling treatment of workers from developing countries, its gross abuses of human rights (locking people up without arrest, use of torture, etc),

      b. next China (all of the above, aside from gender restriction) conquest and virtual enslavement of Tibetans, rape of the country and resources, etc)

      c. Or even Syria, a country controlled by a minority who enforce their rule by mass murder, torture, rape, etc etc.

      I could probably think of a dozen more worthy,

      So no, I don’t agree with your politically and historical illiterate comparison with Israelis.

      Did you have a fourth question?

      • Sensorite said,

        I’m being abit naughty and having a look at this site even though I have said I didn’t want to continue the conversation. I’m somewhat in 2 minds and I’m glad that this recent post was abit more ‘temperate’. Pls continue in this fashion if you do wish this conversation to continue.

        1st – the question, for the record, which I’m glad you answered, was not about whether you consider South African apartheid to be better or worse than Israeli governmental actions etc, it was using an example to ask whether boycotts in general are, by definition, RACIST, or whether only a boycott against the Israeli govt would be racist. If the govt there were to behave in a way that you WOULD consider on a par with the South African govt in the 80s and before, would a boycott still be racist?

        A comparison between regimes and which is worse, I’m sure you can see, is somewhat infantile, and conclusions are, by definition, subjective. I would dispute, for example, your statement that the actions of the Saudi ‘powers that be’, appalling as they are, are worse than those of the Israelis, but I also suggest we don’t bother going there.

        2nd – No there is no 4th question, but, with respect, you still haven’t answered my 2nd question which was – What, if any, action can or should be taken by Westerners who, I would hope you would agree, have had a hand, in the current status quo in that region, to say the least.

        You say that Britain played no part in the setting up of the exclusively Jewish state in the area. Well, this contradicts most historians I have read, having studied the subject, and no, I have not only read the Hamas charter! I’m sure you’ve heard of the Balfour Declaration, for example. Plus, the UK, as the USA’s staunchest ally, is therefore complicit in the fact that Israel, if I’m not wrong, is in fact one of the biggest beneficiaries of US aid not to mention weapons. I could go on.

        Re your point – Because if you really, genuinely think the Palestinians are of utmost importance then taking umbrage in such exchanges is counter-productive to their cause.

        Firstly, if I may read between the lines, it is interesting that you have now added the word ‘utmost’ to importance, making me question whether you ‘genuinely’ believe it is of much, if any, importance.

        Secondly, I’m actually not currently confident enough that I am in a position to ‘take you on’ fact for fact, and reading up so that next time I will be has moved up my ‘to-do’ list so I might be better placed for similar future exchanges. I do feel able to occasionally try to puncture ideas unfair allegations about anti-semitism but, as I say, fact for fact you are clearly ‘out of my league’. Like I inferred, I agree it a wise man or woman who admits he/she doesn’t know.

        But, more importantly, even if I were in a position to ‘take you on’, Palestinians are not helped by ‘debating’ with those who helped by those who, if I may critique, use a mixture of repeated claims of the ignorance of the opposition and aggression to convince themselves that they are right, while repeatedly not answering simple questions, such as, again…..

        If you do agree that the current status quo is unsatisfactory, what, if any, action can or should be taken by Westerners to encourage the 2+ relevant parties to reach an acceptable resolution of this conflict, be it a 1, 2 or more state-solution. I am generally interested in your answer, but would prefer it to focus on what might be good action, not bad.

        Lastly, you say that the ‘certainty’ of anti-Israeli boycotters is off-putting. Although, it’s. of course, important to ‘know your shit’, once you are decided on a course of action, you have to act on it, if you see what I mean.

        I hope you won’t mind my semi-joke. Had MLK added to his ‘I have a dream speech’ the caveat ‘but I’m not really sure if it’s going to come off’…I think you see what I’m getting at.

        Cheers.

        .

      • modernity's ghost said,

        I will try to Fisk your post of March 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm to make sure I don’t miss anything

        1. There is a constant slippage whenever these boycotts are discussed.

        One moment it is “whether only a boycott against the Israeli govt would be racist.”

        Which alternates, as with Galloway, to the reality a boycott of Israelis, as people.

        And in this instance, I think Norman Finklestein is right. It is profoundly dishonest to employ such techniques. In debate, or under scrutiny, pro-boycotters often tone down their language to make it seem more reasonable, when it is aimed squarely at Israelis, as individuals, as Galloway’s actions demonstrate, but they can’t say that, lest they lose support or appear as bigots.

        Conceivably, if I were charitable, I might suggest pro-boycottors really don’t see much different between the Israeli government and Israelis as individuals, but I am not sure as they are singularly sloppy and inarticulate in this particular area.

        2. “A comparison between regimes and which is worse, I’m sure you can see, is somewhat infantile, and conclusions are, by definition, subjective.”

        Ridiculous. They are not subjective. They are not subject to your or my opinions.

        There are major human rights organisations in the world, which spend considerable time and effort cataloguing these abuses. They produce detailed reports every year.

        So any analysis is not subjective.

        Any mature and universalist concern of the human rights, by definition, cannot be infantile, rather that is the approach that should be taken on these issues.

        And this is the nub of the argument, is this a genuine concern for human rights abuses in the Middle East or just when “Israelis” do them?

        Someone else, an intelligent blogger, pointed out that when the Israeli Govt kills people there are frantic demonstrations in Britain, numerous articles in the press and a fury seems to be instilled in the British, like no other.

        Yet 70,000 are killed by someone other than the Israeli Govt and not one national demo by said “activists”, plus there is an almost bored tone to the reporting from Syria, seen in Britain.

        That’s a contrast.

        Thus, it leads to the conclusion that the British are very, very agitated when the Israelis do something, but less so should a neighbouring government slaughter tens of thousands of civilians, make a million into refugees then British “activists” seem embarrassed, cough and try to look elsewhere.

        To anyone with genuine concern, that is a paradox.

        3. “What, if any, action can or should be taken by Westerners who, I would hope you would agree, have had a hand, in the current status quo in that region, to say the least.”

        I think they should try to support projects which help ordinary Palestinians (I like the B’tselem camera project) and ordinary Israelis who favour peaceful co-existence. As I suggested, projects like OneVoice but there are probably many more. Many Israelis are good at trying to bridge the gaps and highlighting abuses against Palestinians, which is why boycotts of Israelis would have a negative effect.

        I think supporting the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is another excellent idea.

        What I think Westerners should NOT do, is act as cheer leaders for nihilists, those that use bombs, rockets or shell to make their points. The region has had enough violence, such voyeurism is exceedingly distasteful and ultimately makes things worse.

        4. “You say that Britain played no part in the setting up of the exclusively Jewish state in the area.”

        Again, more slippage.

        Originally you asked:

        “As you are aware ‘we’ helped create and maintain this situation and therefore,”

        I replied:

        Nonsense. Britain wanted to keep Palestine under its boot. It’s just Westerners wanting to keep their finger in parts of the pie elsewhere, without looking to their own faults, Ireland, etc

        Sorry, if you are asking about Balfour, that’s slightly different. I was thinking of the immediate period before Israeli independence.

        But there are two points here.

        Firstly, you apply the argument that the British should interfere because “‘we’ helped create”, however, such a point is true for over 150+ countries, perhaps more. The British were notorious for having a finger in hundreds of nations, either having invaded them or wanting to do so. So it is a slippery argument which could justify interfering in all, but about 10 nations, in the world.

        But now I think of it, you might have a point. Since Britain helped create Syria maybe that could justify intervention? Would you be happy with that? Remember Sykes-Picot?

        Or even in Saudi where the British helped overthrow the Ottoman rulers. Then, of course, there is Yemen. UAE too.

        Hey, what about Bahrain? They are killing and torturing human rights campaigners, but there is little or no coverage in Britain. I haven’t seen one, national or regional, demonstration from “activists”.

        On reflection, it’s a bit of a double-edge sword, which could be used to absolve British interference in almost all of the Middle East, whole chunks of Africa and a good number of countries in Latin America.

        Maybe not a good argument eh?

        Secondly, as for Balfour to 1948. Not unsurprisingly, it is a bit more complex than you’ve been told. True enough the British sought to gain what they thought would help them around WW1. It was partly based on racist notions of how powerful Jews were, etc etc Afterwards, the British ruling classes regretted that statement and tried to weasel out of it.

        If memory serves, after WW2 Britain wanted to keep Palestine under its control and really did not like dealing with the Zionists of the period. It was only very begrudgingly. They had wanted to give limited autonomy, but circumstances on the ground changed too much. Bevin’s attitude was very abrasive and ultimately a negotiated settlement wasn’t possible.

        But to suggest (as some “anti-Zionists” have) Britain, really, really wish the creation of a State of Israel is false. Britain had its own geopolitical interests, which precluded that.

        The Balfour declaration was a sheet of paper and the British ruling classes would not let such niceties get in its way, if push came to shove. Ultimately, it couldn’t rule Palestine in the post-WW2 period, not by desire but necessity.

        Therefore, employing the Balfour argument is questionable precedent.

        “Plus, the UK, as the USA’s staunchest ally, is”

        Below the surface of media induced rhetoric, countries do what they perceive is in their national interest, the rest is meant for public consumption. Most government (US, UK, etc, included) work on the basis of Machiavelli’s thinking rather than some naïve notion of the “special relationship” as any study of the post war period should show.

        5. “If you do agree that the current status quo is unsatisfactory,”

        I do.

        I loath the Netanyahu Govt. They are worse than useless.

        What to do? Aid those that want a serious negotiated settlement (on BOTH sides).

        Bring to the British public’s (and anyone else’s) attention the Geneva Accord.

        Keep an eye on cranky organisations which pretend to be pro-Palestinian, but really have their own agendas and highlight their capitulation to racism when it suits them.

        You could do that.

        Finally, if you find you are making excuses for George Galloway, atop, take a cold shower, go for a walk and never repeat that mistake!

        PS: I have tried to take your arguments seriously and deal with them in a serious fashion. Please let me know if I missed anything.

      • Sensorite said,

        We can all question motives, and of course the atrocities carried out by Assad, which outdoes the Israeli govt at the moment, should be condemned loudly and clearly. I could also question the motives of people who make blanket statements that action against Israel is, by definition, anti-semitic without actually saying the word really providing any evidence but. I really could go on but, re style, partly as I, rightly or wrongly, am no more ‘active’ than the average Greenpeace member, for example, who signs up believing it’s a good cause without being an expert in climate science, although I understand your criticisms of such a position and will, indeed, look into the organisations you suggested.

        So, style is important because I’m happy to have an exchange of views in people who seem genuinely interested in my views and concerns rather than constantly suggesting a hidden agenda, but I have more than enough of my plate without, as I said, being hit over the head with a verbal mallet in my free time. I’m living in Saudi Arabia at the mo btw. Not much fun I can assure you!

        I actually agree with you that the PSC should say alot more than it currently does (seemingly nothing) about the treatment of Palestinians in other countries, not least in the countries they fled to. This is one of their many shortcomings. However, I hope you can see my point of view that, if one were a socialist and the Labour Party were the only mainstream socialist organisation…..

        I believe that you have some good intentions but, to quote from the old song ‘try a little tenderness’!

      • Sensorite said,

        My last p.s. seems to have done a disappearing act so just quickly, I accept the very serious criticism that many PSC supporters do not, but why tarnish all PSC ‘supporters’ with the same brush?

      • Sensorite said,

        To answer your question ‘Why are the PSC ambivalent towards the treatment of Palestinians, when they are NOT in the West Bank or Gaza?’, as I’ve said I agree with this important criticism and it’s a question I would also ask the PSC ‘movers and shakers’ myself if I had the chance, as well as why they seem fairly silent on the ‘shortcomings’ to say the least, of Hamas and other even more extreme Palestinian terrorist groups.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        “as I’ve said I agree with this important criticism and it’s a question I would also ask the PSC ‘movers and shakers’ myself if I had the chance,”

        The point here is not merely to criticise, but I am glad we agree on the broad facts. That the PSC does not care about Palestinians when they’re not in the West Bank, Gaza or when Israelis/Jews are not involved.

        The issue here is: analysis.

        To make plausible commentary on why that occurs. To try to work out why the PSC acts as it does, where it comes from and why.

        I am more interested in connecting some form of analysis to the facts, to explain them, that’s what should happen.

      • Sensorite said,

        Well, I would say that it’s more due to a naive feeling that Arabs themselves can’t be to blame for things (I don’t agree of course) e.g. the treatment and experience of Palestinians in countries other than Israel. This fear of criticising non-Western people is not uncommon in the left, or indeed in the right, as far as I can tell.

        By the way, you say that you are sparing in the use of the term ‘anti-semite’ but often use the, to my mind, equally serious allegation of ‘racism’. To my ill-informed mind, as we are primarily discussing prejudice towards Israel (which is different to prejudice towards jews but not acceptable either) we might as well call an anti-semitic spade a spade? So here goes

        I wouldn’t, and seemingly couldn’t, deny that there is also a strain of anti-semitism in the PSC and affiliated organisations although I’ve only attended 2 meetings. However, although I expect you will hate this, I think there is more than one kind of anti-semite. Here are 2 – not that I’m saying either ‘type’ are good.

        1 The Nick Griffin type, who is anti-semitic but who generally hates any group who don’t fit his conception of a ‘good British person’.

        2 The type who are probably, or definitely prone to prejudice/racism but have become anti-semitic PARTLY as a result of their experience of Israel and also the fact that, for example, people, unjustifiably, allege that criticism of that country is anti-semitic, with the obvious insinnuation that one is also somehow an apologist for the holocaust. This is more the Mahmoud Abbas type who, as I’m sure you know, has done ‘research’ suggesting that the number of people who died in the holocaust has been greatly exaggerated. This is partly why anti-semitism is relatively prevalent in the Middle-East, not least Saudi Arabia where I currently have the displeasure of living.

        Like I said, I’m definitely NOT trying to justify those who might come into category 2. All racism and anti isms are by definition bad and/or awful and make conflict resolution more difficult.

        That’s my, definitely not particularly well-informed view i.e. it’s not the result of reading up on theories of racism etc.

        No doubt a tirade follows, but fortunately I’m feeling abit stronger todaY. I would, however, be most grateful, if you choose to respond to this, if you could ‘tone it down’ a little with your response as I do need your more aggressive verbal onslaughts like a whole in the head!

        Cheers.

      • Sensorite said,

        Just to clarify, before I get accused of ‘slippage’, I should have said that I think the MAIN reason for the PSCs focus on Israel as opposed to other countries where Palestinians have been abysmally treated is the reluctance to criticise other Arab countries, as opposed to anti-semitism but the latter is probably a factor not least because anti-semitism is, as you pointed out, endemic to our society.

        This is really just my feeling on the issue though. I can’t back it up with evidence and as I said, I’m not at all well-equipped to be their spokesperson, although I’m sure the PSC hierachy would welcome your criticisms! Joke!

      • modernity's ghost said,

        My apologies, Sensorite, if I come over as far too aggressive, I don’t mean to be as I said, sometimes best if people read my comments as a bit sarcastic, not so literally.

        I think you have made a number of excellent points, in particular when you say “is the reluctance to criticise other Arab countries…”

        From which we could conclude that such an attitude is either, paternalism or condescension.

        I am reluctant to ascribe racist motivations, without evidence of intent, from the outset, I think it is preferable to build up a number of possible scenarios.

        But in the first instance I think do you think we might want to comply altogether a list of (for want of a better word) misdemeanours by the PSC. Won’t that simplify things and allow us to discuss the matter rather than argue?

        My contribution is firstly, the fact that the PSC is concerned only with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

        Secondly, that the PSC reluctantly expelled a Holocaust denier.

        Thirdly, that some 20% of conference attendee thought that Holocaust denial was compatible with PSC membership.

        If we can build up the facts, agree, broadly on them together, then they should lead us to various conclusions.

        Please do suggest a few undesirable aspects of the PSC that you’ve found and we could add them to that list.

        —————

        PS: When I said slippage, I should explained better, sorry.

        In such exchanges or when we are discussing other people we need to aim to be precise with our language.

        For example, if someone was to, say, they want to criticise the French government for a particular policy. I think that’s perfectly acceptable. I think governments should be criticised. However, should someone go on about the French” instead of the government, then I would have a problem with that attitude too

        Whilst it’s perfectly acceptable to criticise their government’s actions, say the bombing of Greenpeace’s ship in New Zealand. It isn’t right to generalise about a nation or a country, and certainly, not a people.

        That’s the approach I take to the Middle East. Substitute “Israeli” (as in individual) for “French” (person), etc etc

        I hope that makes sense?

      • Sensorite said,

        Well, I’m glad we have a measure of agreement. I don’t know any more misdemeanours of the PSC except the affiliation of a pretty dodgy 911 apologist type I read about a year or so ago.

        Re the 2 main failings I see that we/I mentioned i.e.

        A Their failure to point out, for example, how little Arab countries seem to have done to help Palestinians who have settled in those countries and thus miss out on the chance to become a Palestine Solidarity Campaign who don’t only work to put pressure on ‘Western’ government etc with regards to ISRAEL’s actions

        2 I have yet to read on their website any mention/condemnation of and and calls for action re terrorist acts committed by Palestinians or of the blatant anti-semitism of The Hamas Charter.

        I guess some people just like to be be able to focus their attention on the ‘baddie’ they can focus on, in addition to the possibility that it’s a result of a condescending and/or paternatlistic attitude towards Arab countries.

        Obviously it is not only successive Israeli govts who are to blame for the ‘way things are’ in that part of the world, and I do, also, think that if the PSC were able to show that they were more ‘even-handed’ they might be taken more seriously. If I ever get the chance to do so I may well raise these issues. In fact, to cut a long story short, I had a spell of attending quaker meetings and thought I might get barred for asking too many difficult questions!

        As you suggest, every organisation has a duty to ask itself difficult questions and thanks for giving me the chance to question my own beliefs. One problem with an overly aggressive style is it tends to make me skim-read some of your posts as I don’t really like to feel like I’m being hit over the head with a ‘verbal mallet’. Thus, this style defeats the purpose somewhat, but I notice that it seems kind of the norm on this blog and indeed I have also noticed it at left-wing meetings etc. Passion can be great but I, myself, have tried to curb the temptation to ‘point-score’ when discussing issues with people.

        Cheers.

      • modernity's ghost said,

        Thank you. I didn’t know about the 9/11 apologists and the PSC.

        But even on the scant evidence that we have put together, I think we could move towards a provisional conclusion that the human rights of Palestinians are seen as secondary to the PSC?

        Would you accept that? Is that a fair assessment?

        Because if the plight of the Palestinians was uttermost in PSC’s thinking, then it wouldn’t matter what country or what nation inflicted abuses on the Palestinians, the PSC would be duty bound, as a matter of principle, to highlight and campaign against such activities.

        Would you agree?

  32. Bob-B said,

    How well are the Sunnis and Shias getting on in Iraq? And the Sunnis and Alawites in Syria?

    • Sensorite said,

      I had a feeling something like that was coming. I notice you’ve narrowed your question somewhat from ‘where in the world have people of different ethnicities and/or religions ‘got on together’ to ‘where in The Middle-East……’

      If I may, a question for you. What is it about the Middle-East which means that peoples there cannot ‘get on together’?

      • Jim Denham said,

        “What is it about the Middle-East which means that peoples there cannot ‘get on together’?”

        I think you’ll find the answer is “history”, Sensorite. The entire history of the region throughout the twentieth century and in particular since 1948. Of course, all decent people would like to see Jews and Arabs/Palestinians living together in harmony – in fact why stop at the Middle East? We want a socialist world: why not campaign for the immediate abolition of all existing nations?

        Actually, a more realistic analogy would be the idea that the populations of France and Germany should be forced to live together within a single state… in 1945.

      • Sensorite said,

        Jim,

        I’m not suggesting that anyone be ‘forced’ to live together. Hopefully I’m not being naive but, although the animosity was necessarily not as great, history has not stopped Afrikaans people living in the same country as the previously banned ANC who were considered ‘terrorist scum’ inside and outside of South Africa, and then there’s Northern Ireland….

        Is your point about abolishing nations a serious one? I feel I should make you aware that, although I have some time for Marxist theory etc I’m not a Socialist as such – partly ambivalent and maybe a social democrat, but definitely someone with a strong interest in the Palestinian cause who found this site ‘by accident’ after doing a google search on Karen Armstrong. I hope you don’t mind. It didn’t seem relevant until now. I’ve mostly been commenting on issues relating to Palestine /Israel, as you know. I’m open-minded, have enjoyed some of these conversations and am willing to communicate with anyone, left, right, Trotskyist or any other ‘ist’ who is interested in issues such as this.

        As I’ve suggested before, re Palestine/Israel, where there’s a will there’s a way. The task is to create the will in the ‘powers that be’ possibly partly by solidarity with those in that nation who already do have ‘the will’ for peace.

        Btw, I’m very interested in whether the 2 state solution you support is geographically similar to, for example, the one recently suggested by Obama, for example.

      • Sensorite said,

        Btw, in case you are bemused by my previous ‘political announcement’ I can assure you that most people would probably regard my views on foreign policy as VERY left-wing, although I tend to view them as ‘fair-wing’. Although the left doesn’t have a monopoly on robustly anti-Zionist positions (see Peter Oborne and even Ron Paul in The USA) I agree to a large extent with e.g. Pilger and Chomsky on their critiques of ‘Western foreign policy’ worldwide. It’s on domestic policy I tend to be less ‘militant’.

        Hope that’s partly cleared that up!

  33. Bob-B said,

    My question was: why would you think that Arabs and Israelis would get on together in a single state better than Czechs and Slovaks, Serbs and Croats or North Sudanese and South Sudanese? There is no reason whatsoever to think this.

    • Sensorite said,

      I can’t comment on Sudan and am by no means an expert on the other 2, but as I understand they were 2 or more ‘nations’ forced together and held together by ‘communist’ dictatorships.

      Israel is, to it’s credit, a democracy which means, I would have thought, more ‘adaptable’ into the secular ‘2 ethnicityreligionsy/1 nation’ state I ‘dream’ about. Indeed, as I said to Jim, in the current geo-political climate I accept that this is the stuff of fantasy. I used to think those who even thought about like me were, indeed, ‘fantasist/dreamers’until I discovered that the fairly high profile Muslim reformer/campaigner Tariq Ramadan, who I’m sure you’ve also heard of, also supports this solution.

      If I may ask you a question I am genuinely interested in the answer to, do you support a 2 state solution and if so what would be the approximate Geography of these 2 states?

      Also, would you agree that whether you or I as Brits would like to see these 2 nations living in 1 or 2 states is somewhat academic and that this issue would be better decided by the parties involved?

  34. Bob-B said,

    If you think Tariq Ramadan is a reformer, you should read Paul Berman on the subject:

  35. Minerva Strigiform said,

    @Sensorite says:

    Another minor(ish) but also obvious and important point – ‘no Irish or Israeli need apply’ would not be racist as neither nationality constitutes a ‘race’.

    Why does this shit come up over and over again in supposedly ‘socialist’ debates. There is NO SUCH THING as ‘race’. The only race is the human race. All other ‘racial’ categories are inventions. Do you think different coloured cats and dogs are ‘races’ too? ‘Race’ is a pseudoscientific construct invented to justify the oppression of colonised/subject populations, eg the genocide and chattel slavery on which the USA was founded.

    • Sensorite said,

      Good point. Pls not (Mod) that I don’t have time to respond to all responses to my apparently controversial posts. I’ll leave that to those who feel strongly enough about the responses.

  36. Jim Denham said,

    Sensorite and others who doubt that ‘Two States’ is the only realistic way towards Israel/Palestinian peace and justice, may be interested to see an earlier piece on Shiraz about the only conceivable ‘One State’ solution that is not, in reality a code for “drive them into the sea”: Binationalism:

    http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/binationalism-and-the-sad-story-of-judah-magnes/

    • Sensorite said,

      Jim.

      I’ll have to infer from the fact that you haven’t answered my question about a 2 state solution that the answer is ‘yes’, you do agree with the ‘road-map’ suggested by Obama. Fair enough. We could debate it but…..

    • Sensorite said,

      Thx for referring me to this by the way

  37. Jim Denham said,

    Sensorite: the problem with the ‘road map’ (and the Oslo accords) was not the objective of two states based at least roughly on pre-1967 borders (which I’d agree with), but the lack of seriousness in implementation and the expectation that all the concessions had to be made by the Palestinians and not the Israelis:.

    http://www.workersliberty.org/node/6939

  38. Sensorite said,

    Well. I wouldn’t agree that that was the only problem by any stretch but I’ll check the article anyway.

    Cheers.

  39. Celeste said,

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to send you an
    email. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

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