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Ken Livingstone “really sorry” for “upsetting people” – but defends remarks about Hitler and Zionism. as a “statement of fact”.

with 11 comments

Always Pleased with Himself.

 

Asked if he was sorry, Mr Livingstone said: “I’m sorry to Jeremy and to the Labour Party,” but followed it up with saying, “It wasn’t me that started this.”

Asked if he regretted his comments, he said: “How can I regret stating the truth.”

Offering a rather qualified apology for his remarks, he said: “I’m sorry that I’ve said that because I’ve wasted all this time.” He says he wants the focus to be on the upcoming elections.

Yesterday.

Ken Livingstone uses a RAPE comparison when asked about Labour suspension

Ken Livingstone remained defiant over the Labour anti-Semitism row he fuelled – and used a rape comparison when asked about his suspension from the party.

He said: “If a woman turns up at a police station and says, ‘I’ve been raped’, the police have to investigate that.

“And as I’m on the national executive that oversees those investigations, you understand that person should be suspended.

“Given a lot of Labour MPs are accusing me of being anti-Semitic, that’s really something the party has to investigate.”

Livingstone’s narcissistic ‘politics’ have now reached their terminus.

Anybody wishing to go further into this topic – there is also a rebuttal of Livingstone’s source Brenner on Facebook by Jewish Socialist leaders – should read begin with these contributions:

Timothy Snyder, Yale University history professor and author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015)  BBC.

It is inconceivable that Hitler could have wanted to move Jews to Israel, because there was no such place in 1932.

Using the word “Israel” when what is meant was “the British mandate of Palestine” has the unfortunate consequence of stripping away the actual historical context and putting the words “Hitler” and “Israel” in the same sentence.

Hitler was not a supporter of Zionism.

He believed, on the contrary, that Zionism was one of many deliberately deceptive labels that Jews placed upon what he believed to be their endless striving for global power and the extermination of the human species.

‘Categorically false’

From Hitler’s point of view, Jews were precisely not normal human beings because they did not care about territory, but cared only about global domination.

“He was supporting Zionism” is categorically false and reveals a total and fundamental misunderstanding of what Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all about.

Tens of thousands of German Jews did emigrate to Palestine before British policy made this all but impossible. And some German officials did take an interest in Zionism. But there was never a German policy to support Zionism or a future Israel.

On the contrary, the German orientation in the Middle East was to support Arab nationalism. The official German policy, enunciated clearly in 1937, was to oppose the creation of a State of Israel.

‘Logically inconceivable’

Before, during and after 1932, Hitler referred to the Jews as a problem for the entire world, not simply for Germany.

When the Holocaust took place, the vast majority of Jews killed were people who lived beyond Germany.

Both in theory and in practice, Hitler’s extermination of Jews was international, applied to millions of people. For this reason as well, it is logically inconceivable that his ideas could ever have been limited to sending German Jews to Palestine.

Well before 1932, in his book Mein Kampf, Hitler had made clear that the Jews were, in his view, a “spiritual pestilence” that had to be removed from the face of the earth in order to rescue the human species, the natural order of the planet, and God’s creation.

It was not clear just how this could be carried out; but there is no sense in which the idea of deporting Jews to Palestine is sufficient to this vision.

And,

Ken Livingstone, Lenni Brenner, and Historical Distortions: A Case Study Paul Bogdanor.

Just to cite one passage:

The picture painted by Brenner is one of reactionary Ukrainian pogromists gaining the full collaboration of the Zionists. But the facts are as follows: the Ukrainian nationalists came to power on a socialist and inclusive platform; but the Zionists anticipated pogroms and tried to prevent them, while boycotting the government blamed for the subsequent atrocities. Brenner’s brief treatment of these events is a tissue of distortions and falsehoods.

Brenner is a propagandist, not a historian, and only a fool or a knave would rely on his books.

Labour antisemitism row: there was nothing Zionist about Hitler’s plans for the Jews  Professor of Modern European History; General Editor “The Holocaust in History and Memory”, University of Essex.

Again to quote some passages,

The Nazis’ plans for “concentrating” Jews in specific territories, be they Palestine or Madagascar, had nothing whatsoever to do with self-determination. These were expressions of the complete opposite: the use of force to strip Jews of all their rights, property and dignity.

As was proved by the establishment of the General Government in central Poland in October 1939, the Nazis were not in the least concerned that the territories where they intended to “concentrate” Jews were in a position to help their populations sustain themselves. They were looking for dumping grounds for Jews and other “undesirables”. These people were at best treated as ‘assets’ to exploit or, later, a stock of slave labour, and at worst simply expected to die of disease and starvation.

Any claim that Nazis and Zionists ever shared a common goal is not only cynical and disingenuous, but a distortion of clearly established historical fact.

We wonder how Livingstone – not to mention others, such as George Galloway,  square up to this (Wikipedia):

From late 1944, Joseph Stalin adopted a pro-Zionist foreign policy, apparently believing that the new country would be socialist and would speed the decline of British influence in the Middle East. Accordingly, in November 1947, the Soviet Union, together with the other Soviet bloc countries voted in favour of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine,[which paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel. On May 17, 1948, three days after Israel declared its independence, the Soviet Union officially granted de jure recognition of Israel, becoming only the second country to recognise the Jewish state (preceded only by the United States’ de facto recognition) and the first country to grant Israel de jure recognition.

Golda Meir was appointed Israel’s minister plenipotentiary to the Soviet Union, with her term beginning on 2 September 1948 and ending in March, 1949. During her brief stint in the USSR, Meir attended Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at the Moscow Choral Synagogue.

In addition to the diplomatic support, arms from Czechoslovakia, part of the Soviet bloc, were crucial to Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. During the war, the Soviet Union supported Israel when it was attacked by Arab countries that opposed the 1947 United Nations General Assembly resolution for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.

Detailed articlesThe forgotten alliance. The establishment of Israel owes much to the Soviet Union and the wide range of support — diplomatic, demographic and military — it offered the young state. Michel Réal.  (Quand l’Union soviétique parrainait Israël. Michel Réal . Le Monde Diplomatique September 2014.)  Aux origines du soutien soviétique à Israël. Gabriel Gorodetsky. le Monde Diplomatique February 2016.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 30, 2016 at 11:39 am

The Left and anti-Semitism, Livingstone Drags the Debate to the Gutter.

with 27 comments

Livingstone: “when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.”

27 April 2016

Earlier today, JLM National Chair Jeremy Newmark made the following statement about events following the revelation that Naz Shah MP had posted antisemitic statements on Facebook some time before her election as an MP:

“Naz Shah is a politician who is clearly on a political journey, from a Respect firebrand in the choppy waters of local Bradford politics to the Labour Party. She courageously stood up to George Galloway’s bigotry at the General Election. However, her historic remarks and posting were repugnant and completely unacceptable.

Her contrition expressed over the past day seems to be genuine and sincere. This is part of that journey. We are optimistic that she will now take steps to deepen her understanding of Jewish identity. We do not ask or expect her to mute her criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government. We do ask and expect her to build upon her apology and contrition with a programme of education and action that includes standing up to anti-Semitism on the left and within the Palestine Solidarity Movement.”

Shortly after this statement was released it was announced that Shah had been suspended.  Jeremy Newmark commented:

“The suspension of Naz Shah by the Labour Party is fair and consistent. I hope it will provide the context for a programme of education as we, at JLM, have set out.”

Jewish Labour Movement.

Jim comments on Shiraz Socialist.

It was right and also inevitable that Naz Shah was suspended from the Labour Party following the revelation of anti-Semitic Facebook posts suggesting that Israel should be “relocated to the US” and likening Zionism to al-Qaida (made, incidentally, before she was an MP).

In her defence it should be noted that (1) she made an immediate and unequivocal apology, with no attempt to claim that this was just “anti-Zionism” and (2) she has been brought up in a political culture in which saying offensive things about Jews, Israel and Zionism is considered acceptable and in which many people don’t even recognise that anti-Semitism is much of a problem: check out Ken Livingstone’s reaction, for instance.

(More on site…)

I note in passing that the Facebook post – which Shah did not create –  was shared by many people, that it was one of many virulent posts circulating during the Israeli military actions against Gaza.

I, like many, opposed these armed repressive actions, and said so.

If some people got caught up in their emotions and have since, as Shah has, thought through her politics on a democratic basis then all credit to them, and to her.

This response does not help (Politics Home).

Speaking to BBC Radio London, Labour NEC member Ken Livingstone accused the “Israel lobby” of a campaign to smear its critics as anti-Semites, after Labour MP Naz Shah was suspended for sharing a post calling for Israel to be relocated to the United States.

“She’s a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over the top but she’s not anti-Semitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians but I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic…

“It’s completely over the top but it’s not anti-Semitic. Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews. The simple fact in all of this is that Naz made these comments at a time when there was another brutal Israeli attack on the Palestinians.

“And there’s one stark fact that virtually no one in the British media ever reports, in almost all these conflicts the death toll is usually between 60 and 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli. Now, any other country doing that would be accused of war crimes but it’s like we have a double standard about the policies of the Israeli government.”

As I’ve said, I’ve never heard anybody say anything anti-Semitic, but there’s been a very well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-Semitic. I had to put up with 35 years of this…

“Let’s look at someone who’s Jewish who actually said something very similar to what Naz has just said. Albert Einstein, when the first leader of Likud, the governing party now in Israel, came to America, he warned American politicians: don’t talk to this man because he’s too similar to the fascists we fought in the Second World War.

“Now, if Naz or myself said that today we would be denounced as anti-Semitic, but that was Albert Einstein.”

He hit back at Lord Levy’s criticism of the leadership’s response to the anti-Semitism storms in Labour.

“After Jeremy became leader I was having a chat with Michael and he said he was very worried because one of his friends who was Jewish had come to him and said ‘the election of Jeremy Corbyn is exactly the same as the first step to the rise of Adolf Hitler to power’.

“Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as anti-Semitic from the moment he became leader. The simple fact is we have the right to criticise what is one of the most brutal regimes going in the way it treats the Palestinians.”

There are many aspects to this controversy, which has been envenomed by Livingstone’s comments.

One is the claim that some people are deliberately making wild claims about antisemitism on the left which may, as Livingstone alleges, be connected to a broader attack on the socialist left.

This indeed happens and could be seen on Newsnight yesterday.

Lady Neuberger claimed the issue in Labour was “attached to Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader”, and “an issue within the hard left”.

A measure of how wide Neuberger was prepared to extend her net was that she included ‘Militant’, that is the Socialist Party in the charge.

This is a good illustration of just twisted the debate has become.

The Socialist Party has been both an opponent of boycotting Israel and a supporter of the right of the Jewish people to their own state (Boycotts of Israel: Will they help the Palestinians?)

Boycott:

Israeli Jewish workers are also inevitably alarmed when some of the staunchest advocates of boycott action in Britain and elsewhere, such as the SWP, have a record of opposing the right of the Jewish people to their own state. Whereas in the case of South Africa, a majority of black workers there supported international sanctions against the ruling white elite, Israeli workers are not in agreement with sanctions against Israel.

A boycott under these conditions is a mistake, and a gift to the Israeli right.

State:

The Palestinians and the Israeli Jews have a right to their own separate states. But achieving such states, with lasting, peaceful co-existence and decent living standards, will be unviable on a capitalist basis.

The only way that will be possible, will be on the basis of Israeli workers building the workers’ movement in Israel to challenge the power, profit and prestige of the Israeli capitalist class, and of Palestinian workers also building their own united movement.

I would say that the Socialist Party reflects what is in fact the mainstream left position of the issue, although one can be, to say the least,  sceptical about the possibility of socialist states in the region.

If many of us are opposed to the policies of the Israeli government, if we are critical and the structures it is built on, we continue to hold to this two-state position. Equally we have every sympathy for the Palestinians, their plight, and efforts to create their own independent state and society.

Another is the fact that in some quarters of the left, notably those influenced by the ‘anti imperialism of fools’, there is a strain of hatred against ‘Zionism’ which shades into antisemitism.

Livingstone’s remarks about Hitler’s support for Zionism indicates that his claim about never hearing anti-Semitic remarks in the Labour Party disproves the widely-held view that he loves the sound of his own voice.

But everybody else heard him.

In response all I can say is that if that if anybody thinks for one fucking minute that the majority of the left, and the part of it the Tendance belongs to, will ever stop fighting antisemitism and will cease from defending the right of the Jewish people to determine their own future and state, and that they have any sympathy for would-be genociders, they are fucking joking.

*******

Statement on “Labour’s problem with antisemitism”

from the Jewish Socialists’ Group

Antisemitism exists and must be exposed and fought against in the same way as other forms of racism by all who are concerned with combating racism and fascism.

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same. Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish life since it emerged in 1897, and it is entirely legitimate for non-Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it, whether positive or negative. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Zionists are Jews.

Criticism of Israeli government policy and Israeli state actions against the Palestinians is not antisemitism. Those who conflate criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism, whether they are supporters or opponents of Israeli policy, are actually helping the antisemites. We reject any attempt, from whichever quarter, to place legitimate criticism of Israeli policy beyond the Pale.

Accusations of antisemitism are currently being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party with claims that Labour has a “problem” of antisemitism. This is despite Corbyn’s longstanding record of actively opposing fascism and all forms of racism, and being a firm a supporter of the rights of refugees and of human rights globally.

A very small number of such cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism. Others represent genuine criticism of Israeli policy and support for Palestinian rights, but expressed in clumsy and ambiguous language, which may unknowingly cross a line into antisemitism. Further cases are simply forthright expressions of support for Palestinian rights, which condemn Israeli government policy and aspects of Zionist ideology, and have nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism.

The accusations do not refer to antisemitic actions but usually to comments, often made on social media, long before Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership. Those making the charges now, did not see fit to bring them up at the time, under previous Labour leaders, but are using them now, just before mayoral and local elections, when they believe they can inflict most damage on the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

The attack is coming from four main sources, who share agendas: to undermine Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Labour; to defend Israeli government policy from attack, however unjust, racist and harmful towards the Palestinian people; and to discredit those who make legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy or Zionism as a political ideology. As anti-racist and anti-fascist Jews who are also campaigning for peace with justice between Israelis and Palestinians, we entirely reject these cynical agendas that are being expressed by:

• The Conservative Party

• Conservative-supporting media in Britain and pro-Zionist Israeli media sources

• Right-wing and pro-Zionist elements claiming to speak on behalf of the Jewish community

• Opponents of Jeremy Corbyn within the Labour party.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group recognises that ordinary Jewish people are rightly concerned and fearful about instances of antisemitism. We share their concerns and a have a proud and consistent record of challenging and campaigning against antisemitism. But we will not support those making false accusations for cynical political motives, including the Conservative Party, who are running a racist campaign against Sadiq Khan, and whose leader David Cameron has referred to desperate refugees, as “a swarm” and “a bunch of migrants”. The Conservative Party demonstrated their contempt for Lord Dubs, a Jewish refugee from Nazism, when they voted down en masse an amendment a few days ago to allow 3,000 child refugees into Britain while Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, gave total support to Lord Dubs and his amendment.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group sees the current fearmongering about antisemitism in the Labour Party for what it is – a conscious and concerted effort by right-wing political forces to undermine the growing support among Jews and non-Jews alike for the Labour Party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and a measure of the desperation of his opponents.

We stand against antisemitism, against racism and fascism and in support of refugees. We stand for free speech and open debate on Israel, Palestine and Zionism.

Comment.

While some of the Jewish Socialists’ points about the origins of the present furore are borne out by the facts there remain problems about this statement.

Apart from underestimating the growth of overt antisemitism, not just from stray comments but from full-blown Ant-Semites of the type described by Sartre in Réflexions sur la question juive, this downplays the extent to which by denying the right of Israel to exist at all – and thus of the Jewish people where large numbers wish to – has a coherence within the framework of the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’.

Support for the view that Socialist Fight’s claims about a ‘pan-national Jewish bourgeoisie’ at the heart of world-wide Zionism, may seem a lunatic fringe affair.

But backing, sometimes unconditional,  for the Islamist Hamas – which makes no secret about its hatred of the Jewish population in the Middle East –  on ‘anti-imperialist’ grounds is much more widespread.

We note that  within the Labour Party and the wider left there are strong critics of these positions, and that John McDonell  has been sufficiently concerned to issue a declaration calling for there to be no place for antisemitism in the movement.

 This careful and lucid examination of the media-famous incidents ignores the points raised in the previous two paragraphs: Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got an ‘antisemitism problem’. His opponents do. Jamie Stern-Weiner 27 April 2016

 

Socialist Worker Attacks “dull and uninspiring” Jeremy Corbyn over Europe Referendum.

with one comment

SWP Predicts End of Tories if Brexit Comes. 

In Socialist Worker today Charles Kimber lays into Jeremy Corbyn,

It’s probably hard to make a good speech when you’re uncomfortable with the message you’re communicating.

That’s why Jeremy Corbyn made such a dull and uninspiring presentation launching Labour’s pro-European Union (EU) campaign last week.

The SWP National Secretary has his own unique theory as to why Corbyn calls for a Remain Vote:

It turned out the way to make Corbyn back the EU was to elect him Labour leader. He compromised to keep at least some of the right vaguely on side.

The reappointment of Pat McFadden as shadow minister for Europe was seen as the first victory for Labour’s right under Corbyn’s leadership. The announcement that the party would campaign to stay in the EU followed.

McFadden eventually resigned, but was replaced with another strongly pro-EU figure.

Kimber accuses Corbyn of being pivotal in moblising the ‘Remain’ vote.

If Corbyn backed Leave, it is highly likely that the vote would be to break from the EU. Polls suggest that Corbyn is far more trusted on the issue than Tories on either side.

His support would banish completely the myth that only the right wants to exit. He would particularly appeal to young people who presently see the EU as a left wing project.

In place of any argument about workers’ rights, social Europe, or internationalism, or whatever the SWP used to dredge up as ‘principled’ reasons to stand for Little Britain,  Kimber places this centre stage

Corbyn insists a Leave vote would boost the right. But with the political feeling in Britain at the moment it is more likely it would see Cameron’s resignation, turmoil in the Tory party, the loss of their parliamentary majority and an early election. This offers the hope of the end of the Tories before 2020, surely something to be grasped.

In other words, don’t vote just against Europe, but to get rid of the Tories….by replacing Cameron by a more right-wing anti-European Tory.

One can imagine the SWP National Committee…..

The comrades are respectfully silent.

Kimber is gazing into the dialectical  crystal ball.

The Leave side has won!

The Organiser sees movement, a hideous Tory party, a gnashing of teeth, resignations, fights,  disarray, messages of international support to Socialist Worker.

A new regime, perhaps of the hardest of hard rights.

Outrage, strikes, divisions: the regime falls.

Kimber continues his divination.  An election, which will….. – here the prophecy grows dark: only the shifting shapes of masses of workers and protesters can be seen.

There’s a glimmer….

2,000, perhaps 200,000 thousand copies of Socialist Worker sold!

Lowestoft recruits ten new members!

The comrades smile: the Seer of Socialism has Seen!

In French this is known as la politique du pire: the worse the better.

After the exalted visions the SWP cannot resist a sharp, but more mundane,  attack on Barack Obama.

Chief SWP theoretician Alex Callinicos finely analyses the speech of the Monarch of the global Empire,

Obama’s intervention stops anyone pretending any longer that they haven’t noticed where global capitalist interests are lining up. The Emperor himself has told them in words of one syllable that Brexit will harm his empire.

Meanwhile the Carnival of Reaction from the Leave camp continues:

‘We want our country back’ Farage rallies troops ahead of ‘Independence Day’ Brexit vote

NIGEL Farage has given his most rousing speech to date by declaring that a vote for Brexit will become Britain’s Independence Day.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 27, 2016 at 4:51 pm

Malia Bouattia: “Condemnation of Isis appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamophobia.”

with 25 comments

Anti-Jewish Riots and Killing in Constantine 1934.

Malia Bouattia, new President of the NUS,  stood on a radical grassroots platform and made headlines last year after opposing a motion to condemn Isis reports the Guardian.

The new president is a controversial figure among many students, coming to prominence in the national press after speaking against an NUS motion “to condemn the IS and support Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention”.

The motion failed to pass and Bouattia said she had objected to the wording, issuing her own statement expressing solidarity with the Kurds against Islamic State and condemning the group’s “brutal actions”.

“We recognise that condemnation of Isis appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamophobia,” she said at the time. “This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.”

Obviously this issue interests an audience on the left far wider than the student movement.

A particularly ridiculous response is offered by Lindsey German of Counterfire, who simply ignores the subject of the Kurdish fight and ISIS and states this,

Her most recent profile has been round a series of meetings opposing the government’s Prevent strategy. Her background as someone of Algerian descent gives her a first-hand knowledge of imperialism and racism. That means she understands the concerns of many of the students she will be representing.

The backlash against her has begun on day one. She will need all the support and solidarity that she can get. But today marks a victory for those who oppose war and racism. And a defeat for those who don’t.

Counterfire.

We note that anybody from an Algerian background, which saw a civil war in 1991 break out between the repressive Algiers state and violent Islamism (MIA, GIA, GSPC and the still active, AlQaïda au Maghreb islamique,  AQMI)  should express a position not just on imperialism and racism, and not only the blood-drenched Algerian military,  but on a very specific type of racism and persecution: that embodied in various forms of Islamism (Guerre civile algérienne).

This is what she says,

….describing how her family had been forced to flee civil war in Algeria when she was child .

“I know too well the price of terrorism, the consequences of racism and oppression,” said Ms Bouattia, a leading figure in the Students Not Suspects campaign against the Prevent anti-terrorism agenda.

“I saw a country ripped apart by terror and was forced into exile,” she explained, adding: “I know too well the damage done by racism and persecution.”

She explained how her university lecturer father was almost killed by a bomb and her school had been attacked by gun-wielding militia, causing her family to flee.

“I know many of you will have seen my name dragged through the mud by rightwing media, and might think I am a terrorist and my politics driven by hate,” she said, adding: “How wrong that is.”

THSS.

Bouattia comes from Constantine, Algeria. 

The city is also infamous for the French far-right Parti Social Français, PSF, and their successful efforts to incite Muslims against Algerian Jews that led to the antisemitic pogrom of 1936 (link gives another version of the causes) in which 25-34 Jews were killed and some 200 stores were pillaged. There is a long history of anti-Semitic activity in Algeria (by both pieds-noirs and Muslims) and the Vichy regime instituted official anti Jewish legislation.

In the present example 1941 around 18 to 20% of the City’s population were Jewish.

There have been no Jewish community in Constantine since the end of the Algerian war of Independence.

We would be interested to hear her views on this and more details about her – horrific – experiences in Algeria.

Indeed we would be curious  to know how the Algerian civil war was a creation of ‘imperialism’.

But it is about a contemporary Islamist movement, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that the present controversy has erupted.

Here is the background: Report on that Motion (2014) by Daniel Lemberger Cooper

Two motions debated at NUS NEC

The meeting then turned to motions submitted by NEC members. Unfortunately this part of the meeting was no feast of reason. There are two motions I want to focus on: Iraqi solidarity and Israel/PalestineI urge you to read the motions before continuing.

The “Iraqi solidarity” motion had been worked on with Roza Salih, a Strathclyde university student of Kurdish descent (she submitted an almost identical motion to the Scottish equivalent of the executive, the Scottish Executive Council, which I will post later, which, incidentally, did pass! One must ask Scottish executive members why vote for a motion in Scotland, but not in England?!).

The motion was opposed by Malia Bouattia, the NUS Black Students’ Officer, for astonishing and bewildering reasons. Bouattia argued that the motion was “Islamophobic” and “pro USA intervention” – (see Aaron Kiely, a fellow NUS NEC member’s, tweet during the meeting as reflective of the position). The motion then fell as large numbers of NEC members either abstained or voted against (including the bulk of the political Left on NEC). I think this says a lot about the current state of the student movement.

(I must also put on record that after only a single round of speeches, Toni Pearce moved the debate on. This was wrong: there was no opportunity to respond to Bouattia’s allegations. I had my hand up to speak in response, but was not called.)

Let us look at Bouattia’s arguments: is the motion anti-Muslim or pro US intervention?

The motion was partly written by a Kurdish student activist, and presented by the International students’ officer, Shreya Paudel. I have looked again and again at the contents of the motion, yet I cannot track any Islamophobia or racism.

Pro-intervention?

The US occupation, and its aftermath, has been an utter disaster for the people of Iraq. Resulting governments, led by Nouri Al-Maliki, have been authoritarian and carried out virulent Shia sectarianism. A civil war in the mid 2000s killed 34,000 civilians. Today there are 1.6 million refugees.

The dynamics in 2014 are complex. ISIS, who have grown out of Al-Qaeda, have seized huge swathes of the country; there is a new, shaky, shia-sectarian government; and a Kurdish regional government, whose self determination I believe we should support.

The ultra-Islamist group ISIS is a threat to all the people of Iraq. It is repressing and persecuting minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, and Sunni Muslim Arabs. On the 29th June it declared a “caliphate” (a religious dictatorship). It has carried out rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as weapons against women in IS-occupied areas.

These developments have been exacerbated and driven by US policy deliberately fostering sectarianism.

The situation is desperate.

In this situation, it is fundamental that the political Left, trade union and student organisations, like NUS, show our solidarity with the Iraqi people, in particular the hard-pressed student, workers and women’s organisations, and those fighting for democracy and equality.

It is unclear whether Western forces (which congregated in Paris the day before the NEC meeting, on the 15th of September, to announce a “game plan” to defeat ISIS) will send boots onto the ground in Iraq. We know already that French aircrafts have begun reconnaissance flights over Iraq; and that US aid has assisted the Kurds and Yazidis. However it is unlikely they will want a re-run of a war that even they believe to have been a colossal failure. It may be more likely that the USA assists established forces from afar to defeat ISIS.

However, the motion cannot be clearer in saying that such forces cannot be relied upon to deliver democratic change in Iraq: “no confidence or trust in the US military intervention.” If one were to believe it is not sufficiently clear or that the motion is not worded strongly enough, fine: make an amendment to the motion; or seek to take parts to remove or strengthen a particular aspect. Instead, the whole motion – which calls for solidarity with oppressed forces in Iraq – was argued as wrong. This is a grave shame!

It is also true – and Left-wingers should think this over – that the Kurds and Yazidi’s thus far would not have been able to survive if it had not been for aid from the Americans. Calling simply for an end to this intervention is the same as calling for the defeat of the Peshmerga forces by ISIS. The policy is based on a negative criteria – opposing the US and UK – instead of positive criteria – solidarity with the oppressed.

Perhaps this is what Bouattia meant when saying that the motion is pro-intervention? Such a suggestion is arrived at only when one’s “analysis” becomes an issue of principle: that even within limited parameters, that to suggest that imperialism is not the only problem is somehow to “support” imperialism. This is the basis of “Stalinist” politics on international questions: that one considers forces that oppose the US as either progressive or, at worst, not the real issue -no matter how barbaric and reactionary and fascistic that force is. This is not a useful or effective way of looking at the world

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty published a short time afterwards some important qualifications about this report: Fact and fiction about the Kurdistan row in NUS.

Daniel Cooper: I objected to Malia opposing the motion on Iraq proposed by me, Shreya Paudel and Clifford Fleming, and responded to her claims that it was Islamophobic and pro-imperialist. Some people have claimed I misrepresented Malia. The only justification I have heard for this is, firstly, that I did not state that Malia condemned ISIS. That is because it was so blindingly obvious: before the right-wing attacks on Malia, the idea that anyone on NUS NEC would not condemn ISIS had not even occurred to me. And, secondly, that I failed to report that Malia offered to support a different motion on Kurdistan at the next NEC if it fitted with her politics. Whether or not I should have reported this or not, it is hardly decisive! Does anyone seriously believe that if I had stated either of these things it would have prevented right wingers distorting and making use of what I wrote?

The AWL now comment,

The controversy surrounding Bouattia’s attitudes to Islamism and to anti-semitism over the last two weeks is not simply a matter of interpreting this or that comment at a meeting, or exchange on the internet. It has deeper political roots, which we are precisely attempting to sketch out here

Last year, Bouattia denounced a left-wing motion to NUS NEC in support of the Kurdish national liberation struggle as “racist” and “imperialist” and helped get it voted down. This sparked wide criticism from Kurdish and left-wing students, but when some right wingers including in the press noticed this and tried to whip up a storm against her by absurdly and shamefully portraying her as a supporter of Daesh, she responded by whipping up a storm against the proposer of the motion, Workers’ Liberty comrade Daniel Cooper.

We remind the movement of this because we believe that Bouattia behaved like a petty and unprincipled factionalist, putting her resentment at her bad luck, her prestige and the chance to attack a political grouping she doesn’t like above the massive issue of the Kurdish struggle. Although the NEC eventually, two months later, passed a motion about Kurdistan, NUS circles spent far more time and energy on the row than on supporting the Kurds. So much for anti-imperialism!

We have little confidence that an NUS led by Malia Bouattia would be more habitable for political minorities and dissenters, more democratic or more serious about political debate and discussion than one led by Megan Dunn.

There remain a host of other  issues about the new NUS President, not least the fact that some on this left backed her.

That is a matter for students.

The Gerry Downing-Socialist Fight  style  anti-imperialism of fools which led, and justified a rejection do support for the Kurdish people in their hour of need  signals a broader problem.

The central question for a wider activist public is: what is Bouattia’s stand on Islamism?

How does she qualify, judge and assess the different Islamist movements?

If she does not support the misguided state ‘Prevent’ strategy does she offer any other way of combatting and fighting these anti-working class, anti-liberal, anti-feminist, anti-left, and violent groups?

Written by Andrew Coates

April 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Does Galloway Blaze Trail for ‘Left’ Shift to Align with Nationalist Right?

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Galloway Evokes Battle of Britain Spirit in London Mayor Bid.

 

This nationalistic posturing  reminds me of what’s been happening in France.

While there are admirable protests about the projet de loi Travail (El Khomri) and the interesting Nuit Debout movement anti-Europe nationalism.

They call it “souverainisme“, demands for  national sovereignty, migration, border controls, security, the constitution and cultural identity.

Most of those associated with this trend are clearly on the right, if not the extreme right.

But some on the French left have also been attracted by these themes.

This article from last year describes how some have passed over to the French nationalist right:

PARIS — When the newspaper Libération last month accused self-professed “left of the left” philosopher and best-selling author Michel Onfray of “doing the [far-right party] Front National’s bidding,” French intellectuals circled the wagons.

Onfray, who declined a request for comment for this article, went on to accuse France’s successive governments of “being contemptuous of the people” — what he calls, using the English term, “the ‘old school’ people”: French blue-collar workers, the unemployed, the poor, the pensioners. As for National Front leader Marine Le Pen, he said: “I don’t resent her as much as I resent those who made her possible.”

The first is the fate of France’s poor and working class – the “proletariat” Onfray says has been abandoned by the right and the left alike. In that vision, the governing left’s policies favor the globalized elite and the well-to-do, while catering to the needs of minorities (“the margins,” says Onfray) — such as immigrants, homosexuals and women.

The second theme is the visceral hostility towards Europe and the euro, seen as constraining economic and social policy and a fatal blow to the infamous “exception française,” a large and costly welfare state that’s supposed to shield the French from the turmoils of the global economy.

The drama is being played daily in the court of public opinion. Think of it as “the people vs. the euro.”

Onfray is well known for this vein of rhetoric.

This is what he said of the attitude of those who backed – ostensibly pro-European Constitution referedum (2005) towards those who would vote No to this agreement (the Non won).

They despised the common folk:

Les gens qui vont voter Non à la constitution européenne sont des crétins, des abrutis, des imbéciles, des incultes. Petit pouvoir d’achat, petit cerveau, petite pensée, petits sentiments. Pas de diplômes, pas de livres chez eux, pas de culture, pas d’intelligence. Ils habitent en campagne, en province. Des paysans, des pécores, des péquenots, des ploucs.

The people will will vote to the European Constitution are cretins, morons, imbeciles, uncultivated. They are hard up, small-brained, narrow mined and inward looking. They have no qualifications, no books at home, no culture, no brains. They live in the country, in the provinces. They are peasants, rustics, bumpkins, yokels.

Clearly Onfray hopes to repeat the result of the referendum on the European Constitution.

He however faces a nebulous target.

But British nouveaux réactionnaires have a unique opportunity: the UK Referendum on the European Union.

takes up the Onfray challenge:

Railing against those “a Byzantine system of governance largely beyond the reach of Euro-plebs” the former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and writer for Living Marxism muses, for the anti-elitist Spectator magazine, on The strange death of left-wing Euroscepticism

The further removed the left becomes from everyday people, the more it views the public as an obese, probably racist blob to be re-educated rather than as political citizens to be engaged. The left’s turn from hating the EU to at least wanting to stick with it is directly proportionate to its loss of faith in the masses. Democracy is no longer seen as a tool of progressive change. Lefties now trust EU suits more than they do the loud, odd locals of their own towns.

This comment from Briançon’s article sums up the empty nature of this stand,

““Europe here serves as proxy for globalization,” said a government adviser, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of “adding fuel to the fire.” “I call it the defeatist wing of French intellectual life: There’s no chance we’ll be able to make it, so let’s retract and retreat.”

Will others, hostile to ‘capitalist’ EU but more specifically to the free movement of labour, a substantial group  inside the so-called Lexit camp, follow their French counterparts and align, like Galloway, with the hard right?

Allied with UKIP for the European Referendum Galloway looks a trail-blazer.

Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous. Houria Bouteldja. Review: Post-Colonial Race-Baiting.

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Revolutionary Love.

Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous. Vers une politique de l’amour révolutionnaire . Houria Bouteldja. La Fabrique. 2016.

(The book will be presented at Berkeley: Towards a Politics of Revolutionary Love – Houria Bouteldja. 04/19/2016 – 1:00pm to 2:30pm. 691 Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley.

http://crg.berkeley.edu/node/990oWe invite you to hear her presentation of her book, just published a few weeks ago in France, and already the object of a very highly mediatized controversy. Live translation of Houria Bouteldja’s presentation into English will be provided.)

Review: Post-Colonial Race-Baiting.

“Et que penser de la discussion sur les mérites culinaires comparés de la viande de nègres, d’Allemands et de Marseillais, ou sur la meilleure manière de civiliser les sous-hommes d’Afrique ou des Indes en les réduisant en poussière avec la « fée Dum-Dum », alias « balle Nib-Nib »?

And what to consider about the discussion on the relative culinary merits of the flesh of Negroes, Germans, and the inhabitants of Marseilles, or on the best way of civilising the African and Indian sub-humans by reducing them to dust by ‘Fairy Dumdum’ alias, the ‘Nib Nib bullet’?

Le Jardin de Supplices. Octave Mirbeau. 1899. (The Torture Garden).

Segré and Pérez have systematically shredded this historical picture to pieces. We can bin the idea that empires are a European invention, and, most fundamentally, that European colonisation began outside Europe, and not in the conquests of the East, and of Ireland. On the darker side of the history of the Arab rule in Iberia and of the Caliphate’s incursion and domination of large parts of Europe she is, perhaps understandably, more or less silent. Flowing amongst her would-be lyrical invective Bouteldja offers a few valid ideas. One stands out, that the Atlantic slave trade and violent colonialisation provided models for the Nazis. This insight is nevertheless amply considered elsewhere (by Hannah Arendt, to only give the best known). One might extend the idea and examine Timothy Snyder’s argument that Hitler was a ‘zoological’ ideologue who thought that ‘race’ was real and that struggle between races was the ultimate reality of history. Unfortunately this comes rather too close to Bouteldja’s allusions to the idea that ‘whites’ are engaged in the fight to the death with ‘blacks’…. (1)

Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous

ess with Jean Paul Sartre. Shoot Sartre (Fusillez Sartre) is her refrain, which sounds perhaps better in her armchair than on the paper. The Intellectual, novelist and philosopher, is an analogy for the French left. Why? This turns out to be well known, and may be summarised quickly. In the Maspero edition of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1968) his famous preface was withdrawn, on the insistence of Joie Fanon, who called Sartre a Zionist because he defended Israel in the Six Day War of June 1967.

Bouteldja is keen on the equally famous – and morally cretinous – Sartre lines expressed in that text: that killing a colonialist serves two purposes: the death of an oppressor and the making of a freedom fighter’s independent manhood. She admires Fanon, one of her titular figures along with James Baldwin and Malcolm X. But, like his widow, she detests Zionists. Exit – as she might say in one her numerous attempts at pithiness – Sartre. Welcome the unconditional supporter of the Palestinians, Jean Genet, “What I like about Genet is that he doesn’t give a Fuck about Hitler.” (“Ce que j’aime chez Genet, c’est qu’il s’en fout d’Hitler” Page 20)

The Shoah.

The European Civil Religion of the Shoah needs, Bouteldja is not shy to assert, needs blasphemers. Not to deny the Holocaust, or (?) not to give a toss about it, but to remove the moral legitimacy that atoning for the genocide gives the West and Israel. The Jews have turned from ‘dhimis’ (that, is second class citizens) in Europe, to become their colonial soldiers in the service of ‘imperialism’ (Page 51). The Jews, post 1945, have accepted the “racial pact of the Republic”, become part of the ‘Jewish-Christian civilisation”, “part of the race of the Lords”, trading their history and memories for a “colonial ideology” (Page 53) And in that context, for the ‘South’ the Shoah is less than a ‘detail’ of history, it is nearly invisible. Anti-semitism is European (Page 55). Arabs are not philosemites, but they are not anti-Semites either (Ibid). The European religion of commemorating the Holocaust is just that…European, a distant sound for those suffering from colonialism. Only by abandoning Zionism can the Jews drop their white masks and become comrades, sharing the skin of the noirs In other words, do what Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous tells them to do.

Bouteldja is a master of racial baiting, shouting down her opponents. These passages effectively deny self-determination to one group of people, the ‘Jews’, along with some unpleasant claims that insult people’s right to give genocide the importance it has. Her panders in academic post-colonial studies will no doubt be able to explain away these passages. They will surely be at Berkley in the near future. Some such people, and her domestic allies, will no doubt dismiss the sexism, homophobia and racism attacked by Segré and Pérez. No doubt there is an audience for an assertion and exploration of the identities and oppressions of the multiple communities of immigrant origin in Europe, ill-served by all the states, including the formally egalitarian France. Many writings exist. There is a need to talk about the new forms of anti-racism. There are occasional gleams of interest in the present work of personal experience, overshadowed all too often by slabs of pre-digested ideology. Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous, indeed has also the most ambitious possible intention: to speak for “nous”, the ‘noirs’ the ‘indigènes’ and to hail, with a shout the Vous, the Whites. Without doubt we should include the text on the reading lists. But, but, but…….

But behind the rodomontader there is a lack of substance. There is absolutely no discussion of the horrors taking place across the whole Middle East, from Yemen to Turkey, passing by Iraq and Syria, not to mention Israel and Palestine themselves. There are genocides happening there right now. But Bouteldja ignores them. Expect for a brief sentence about young people in the banlieue falling for violent extremism she ignores the international phenomenon of Islamism and, most significantly, the popular fight against it. The pamphlet avoids these, and other, profound issues in a puppet theatre, the crudest of seaside shows, with the Jews dangling on the strings of Imperialism, as if their cords only need to be cut for peace and justice to reign.

Faced with a culture ruled by White “égoists et individualistes”, a West “in decline” what does Bouteldja offer? Is there a way out of oppression? She proposes a “radical questioning of Modernity and a consideration of an alternative civilisation.”(Page 92) What is this superior option to the White Republic and is false promise of liberty equality and fraternity? Fanon’s Third Worldism, American Black Power ideology steps aside. She summons god, Allah, for a world without hierarchy, a “une seule entité et authorité à dominer: Dieu” – a single entity authorised to rule: god. “ a côtés de tout leurs frères et soeurs en humanité” – alongside all their brothers and sisters in humanity. (Page 133).

Bless!

(1) Black Earth. The Holocaust as History and warning. Timothy Snyder. Bodley Head. 2015.

Some notes from Frantz Fanon. A life, David Macey. Granta Books. 2000.

Of interest in this context.

“Even when Fanon is remembered in Algeria, the memory can be clouded by partial amnesia and ignorance, Fanny Colonna, who taught as the University of Tizi-Ouzo until she was forced by the rising tide of violence and xenophobia to leave for France in the early 1990s, recalls meeting school students who had read Fanon in their French class but did not know that he was black.”(Page 8)

““The Third Worldist Fanon was an apocalyptic creature; the post-colonial Fanon worries about identity politics, and often abut his own sexual identity, but he is no longer angry. And yet, if there is a truly Fanonian emotion, it is anger. His anger was a response to the experience of a black man in a world defined as white, but not to the ‘fact’ of blackness. It was a response to the condition and situation of those he called the wretched of the earth. The wretched of the earth are still there, but not in the seminar rooms where the talk is of post-colonial theory. They came out in the streets of Algiers in 1988, and the Algerian army shot them dead. They have been subsequently killed in there tens of thousands by authoritarian Algerian governments and so-called Islamic fundamentalists. Had he lived, Fanon would still be angry. His readers should be angry too.”(Page 28)

“Anti-Semitism was by no means unusual in North Africa, and no, despite all the talk of African and Afro-Arab unity, was anti-black racism. In both Algeria and Tunisia black people were commonly referred to as Al-âbid (the singular is ‘Ab’d’), meaning slave’ –a reminder that the corsairs of the Barbary Coast had enslaved black as well as white.”(Page 316)

“the function of the violence of the colonised is to negate and transcend the seriality created by the violence of colonisation. In doing so, to create a group-in-fusion with a common project and praxis.”(Page 485)

“The themes of Third World solidarity and unity, of a version of pan-Africanism and of the liberating power of violence have not worn well. Fro a generation, Fanon was a prophet. He has become a witness to the process of decolonisation but, whilst his discussion of racism remains valid, he has little to say about the outcome of that process.”(Page 503)

Former ‘Maoist’ Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Joins Farage, UKIP and Galloway in Grassroots Out Campaign.

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https://i1.wp.com/www.cpbml.org.uk/sites/default/files/referendumposter.jpeg

‘Communists’ Against Mass Migration.

The Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist) (CPB(M-L)) is an example of the development, post-Mao, of ‘Marxist-Leninist’ groups towards nationalism.

The party was formed in 1968 by Reg Birch as a split from the Communist Party of Great Britain, siding with the Communist Party of China. The party published The Worker from 1969 until 2000, when it became Workers. The CPB(M-L) sided with Enver Hoxha in theSino-Albanian split, and came to support the Soviet Union for a period in the 1980s, before dropping this line over Mikhail Gorbachev‘s reforms.

A key part of the CPB (M-L)‘s  case against the European Union is that weakened national sovereignty and borders has let in too many migrants into Britain.

The role of mass migration and “free” movement of labour in undermining wages and union organisation was contrasted with the assertions (or lies) that EU legislation protects workers.

They backed this recent meeting,

Grassroots Out Glasgow rally

7 April 2016, 7 pm

Hunter Halls, University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow  G128 QQ

With speakers Nigel Farage MEP, Dr Liam Fox, Peter Bone MP, Eddie McGuire (trade unionist), Mike Gold (CAEF), David Coburn and Brendan Chilton with more to be announced.

The way this group works is easy to trace: Eddie McGuire, ‘Trade Unionist’ turns out also to be:

 

And  (CPB- ML site): Composing British unity

Draw your own conclusions about which political party he backs….

The New Communist Party (a member of the Labour Representation Committee)  has, according to Wikipedia, also signed up.

The NCP has endorsed in March 2016 Grassroots Out the cross party movement launched to campaign to leave the EU.

If this is not the case we will be happy to post a correction.

Another one of the anti-EU alliances has just formed:

Leave EU – new group formed to fight for an exit Left.

A new left-wing anti-EU campaign group dubbed Lexit has been set up following a meeting in London.

The new alliance formed on Monday night from rail union RMT, Trade Unionists Against the EU, the Communist Party of Britain, the Indian Workers Association (GB), the Bangladeshi Workers Council of Britain, Scottish Left Leave, Counterfire and the Socialist Workers Party.

Other trade union, socialist and workers’ groups are expected to join Lexit in coming weeks.

Lexit will hold a series of rallies across Britain in the coming weeks and produce films and other publications to promote what it calls the “working class, left-wing and internationalist case” for voting to leave the European Union in the referendum on June 23. Some Labour MPs and prominent trade unionists have also indicated a willingness to appear on the group’s platforms.

Lexit chairman Robert Griffiths said that the EU debate until now had been “dominated by pro-big business and anti-foreigner arguments” on both sides.

“It’s high time that the interests of working people, their public services and their common aspirations regardless of race, religion and nationality were heard,” he said.

“The reality is that from Ireland and Portugal to Cyprus and Greece, the EU has been spearheading the drive for ruthless austerity and wholesale privatisation, dividing people and creating the conditions in which racist and fascist groups can thrive.”
Mr Griffiths said it was no surprise that most of the City banks and big companies that fund the Tory Party wanted Britain to stay in the EU.

These groups are on on the fringes of the labour movement.

Far from being left-wing or working class their actions help those who wish to  build a “bonfire of rights”, as Jeremy Corbyn has put it.

And please, let’s have less of these phony words about “Internationalism”.

With the CPB-ML we can at least see the real direction where this stand leads them.