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Jeremy Corbyn Issues Welcome Statement on Banishing Anti-Semitism from the Labour Party.

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The cover of today's London Evening Standard

An important and dignified statement.

Some sections, which grapple with points which many people have made, are in bold.

Instead of taking notice of the reactions of those hostile to the Labour Party we should take them to heart.

The Jewish Chronicle reports,

Jeremy Corbyn has issued a direct apology to the Jewish community over the Labour Party’s continued antisemitism problem.

In a statement issued only hours before his meeting with leaders of the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council, Mr Corbyn writes: “We have not done enough fully to get to grips with the problem, and for that the Jewish community and our own Jewish members deserve an apology.

….

Writing in the Evening Standard, Mr Corbyn admitted the party’s monitoring of antisemitism had “been simply not fully fit for purpose” and also suggested that under his leadership the party “did not look closely enough at ourselves”.

Jeremy Corbyn: What I’m doing to banish anti-Semitism from the Labour Party

Evening Standard.

Anti-semitism is a poison that must be challenged wherever it raises its head, across Europe and at home. Hatred and bigotry towards Jewish people has no place in our society, whether on the streets or online. And that of course goes for the Labour Party too.

Today I am meeting leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council to discuss working together to tackle both old and new forms of anti-Semitism.

We have a particular duty to lead the fight against anti-Semitism in and around our party and movement. Jews have found a natural home in the Labour Party since its foundation, and been central to our movement.

The party has a long and proud record of standing against anti-Semitism. Jews belong in the Labour Party and we are utterly committed to making it a safe and welcoming place for them.

But we must also face the uncomfortable fact that a small number of our members and supporters hold anti-Semitic views and attitudes, which need to be confronted and dealt with more rapidly and effectively.

The evidence is clear enough. Labour staff have seen examples of Holocaust denial, crude stereotypes of Jewish bankers, conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.

So let me be clear. People holding those views have no place in the Labour Party. They may be few — the number of cases over the past three years represents less than 0.1 per cent of Labour’s membership of more than half a million — but one is too many.

We are taking action. In the past fortnight more than 20 individuals have been suspended from party membership, and more are being investigated. But we have not done enough to get to grips with the problem, and the Jewish community and our Jewish members deserve an apology. My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress caused.

We must strive to understand why anti-Semitism has surfaced in our party, which has always stood for equality for all and opposed racism and discrimination.

As I indicated in my letter last month to the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, there are two particular contemporary sources. First, individuals on the fringes of the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people can stray into anti-Semitic views.

The struggle for justice for the Palestinian people and an end to their dispossession is a noble one — just as a genuine two-state solution is essential to lasting peace in the Middle East. But when criticism of or opposition to the Israeli government uses anti-Semitic ideas — attributing its injustices to Jewish identity, demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct, or comparing Israel to the Nazis — then a line must be drawn.

Anti-Zionism is not in itself anti-Semitic and many Jews themselves are not Zionists. But there are also a very few who are drawn to the Palestinian question precisely because it affords an opportunity to express hostility to Jewish people in a “respectable” setting. Our movement must not be a home for such individuals.

Second, there are people who have come to see capitalism and imperialism as the product of conspiracy by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system. That is only a step from hoary myths about “Jewish bankers” and “sinister global forces”.

I

These views do no service to the struggle for a just society. Instead, they reproduce the sort of scapegoating that we recognise when directed at ethnic or religious minorities.

Anti-Semitism was responsible for the worst crimes of the 20th century. According to a survey conducted last year by two leading Jewish community organisations, anti-Semitic views are held by a minority in Britain, and are more likely to be found on the right of politics. But we did not look closely enough at ourselves.

I also believe our party’s structures, built to service a far smaller membership than we have now, have been simply not fully fit for purpose when it has come to dealing with complaints about anti-Semitism.

The problem has been aggravated by social media, which is where most of the instances of abuse appear to take place. Some high-profile cases have also been delayed by legal proceedings, and the reforms proposed by Shami Chakrabarti two years ago to make our response more effective were not fully implemented.

That is why our new general secretary Jennie Formby has, on my instruction, made it her priority to get on top of this problem and ensure that all complaints are dealt with swiftly and fairly, with investigations resourced as necessary. She will be setting out her plans in the coming weeks, including the appointment of a new legal adviser, and we are already taking action in many cases.

We will also embark on a programme of political education to deepen Labour members’ understanding of what anti-Semitism is and how to counter it.

When members of Jewish communities express genuine anxieties we must recognise them as we would those of any other community. Their concerns are not “smears”.

I want to engage with the full range and diversity of Jewish organisations and have no truck with any attempt to divide the Jewish community into the “right” and “wrong” sort of Jews. Debate and pluralism are abiding characteristics of the Jewish community, and I celebrate them both within and without the Labour Party.

I hope that by taking the steps outlined, Labour will be reconnecting with our finest traditions of solidarity and equality. We stand with any community beleaguered or subject to hateful prejudice.

 

We cannot and will not fail our Jewish brothers and sisters now.

Key issues for the left include challenging those for whom an anti- Zionist position – that is criticisms of the belief that Israel is the legitimate aspiration of a Jewish nation, and criticism of the Israeli government – have strayed into “attributing its injustices to Jewish identity, demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct, or comparing Israel to the Nazis.”

The latter is particularly striking and has been the cause of major rifts within the left of the left, as well as within the broader labour and progressive movement.

The problem of “people who have come to see capitalism and imperialism as the product of conspiracy by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system.” which many have underlined for some time, is broader than anti-Semitism. It represents a wider failure of the socialist movement to educate supporters.

This which appears in the Guardian is a good place to begin from, even if it underlines some serious difficulties.

The central problem is that much (although by no means all) of the antisemitism in the Labour party has emerged from the online-fuelled grassroots movement that has been a major factor in sustaining Corbyn’s leadership.By its very nature, this movement resists control. The passion that drives it is not conducive to careful speech. Antisemitism is more than just carelessness (for some it is very deliberate) and it is more than just speech, but any attempt to address it must begin with serious attention to language in an age in which communication – on any issue – constantly threatens to spiral out of control.

While many in the Labour party are aware of the problems that unrestrained speech can cause, there are few practical suggestions as to what to do about it. Owen Jones has called for a mass “political education” campaign, but it will be difficult to corral Labour supporters into the institutional frameworks necessary for this. In any case, antisemitism is one symptom of a wider culture of tit-for-tat purging and abuse that has permeated the party for decades. Those who currently hold the whip hand (Corbynites now, New Labour in the past) are never eager to address it.

Corbyn has repeatedly condemned abuse, antisemitic or otherwise, although he rarely goes into specifics. Yet his supporters tend to ignore his less convenient pronouncements. He does not wield his authority with an iron fist and is unlikely to have the ability or the will to lead a mass disciplining of unruly Labour voices

While no one who sees themselves as part of the grassroots Labour movement really knows how to draw on its productive energies without its dark side, there is another section of the Labour left that does understand discipline and control. Parts of the trade union movement – and those, such as McDonnell, who are close to it – have considerable experience in these political arts. Formby’s appointment, backed by Unite, as Labour general secretary, backed by Unite, and the failure of the bid for the post by the Momentum founder Lansman, were a demonstration of the vulnerability of grassroots politics when it comes up against machine politics.

Cynics might therefore suggest that Jewish organisations who want Labour antisemitism addressed should concentrate on building ties with Formby, McDonnell and with the unions. Although some of the more authoritarian leftists within the party have themselves been accused of antisemitism, they are also pragmatic, and they have the ruthlessness to rid the party of antisemites and the message-discipline to refrain from hateful language – should they feel it’s in their interests to do so.

Of course, not only am I not advocating such an alliance, no appetite exists for it on either side. For one thing, ties between the Jewish community and beleaguered Labour centrists, including the centrist-leaning Jewish Labour Movement, are strong and deep. But the prospect of the decentralised grassroots Labour left eventually being subjugated by its centralising cousins is a very real one, whether or not it is antisemitism that provokes it.

Those who value the idealistic passion that permeates the Labour grassroots (including, with much ambivalence, myself) need to grapple with how its abusive, uncontrollable tendencies can be curbed, since these invite its suppression. Facing up to antisemitism and to the wider issue of abuse on the left isn’t just the right thing to do for its own sake, it is the key to ensuring the resilience of the movement.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 24, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

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Today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (ArmenianՄեծ Եղեռնի զոհերի հիշատակի օր Mets Yegherrni zoheri hishataki orRussianГеноцид армян День памятиGenotsid armyan Den’ pamyatiTurkishErmeni Soykırımı Anma Günü) or Armenian Genocide Memorial Day is a national holiday in Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh and is observed by the Armenian diaspora on 24 April. It is held annually to commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. In Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, hundreds of thousands of people walk to the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial to lay flowers at the eternal flame.

24/04/1915: DEPORTATION OF ARMENIAN INTELLECTUALS FROM ISTANBUL

24 April 1915 is a symbolic date for commemorating the victims of the Ottoman Empire’s near total destruction of its Armenian population.

This day saw the arrest of 235 leading members of Istanbul’s Armenian community – amongst them poets, doctors, religious leaders and political dissidents representing some of the most prominent Armenian intellectuals in the Ottoman Empire.  Many of the 235 would be tortured and publicly executed in the months following their arrest.

Armenians within the Ottoman Empire already occupied a precarious position when the First World War broke out in 1914.  Major pogroms during 1894-96, and again in 1909, had seen thousands massacred.  After a number of military setbacks in the First World War, Ottoman leaders undertook measures to deport Armenian populations from their homes despite the vast majority not being located in areas of military activity.

The Armenians were deported along a number of routes to desert areas that could not sustain them.  When the Armenian community of Van, a town in the southeast of Turkey, resisted attacks against them on 20 April 1915, Ottoman leaders decided to make deportations an empire-wide policy.  The Armenians forced to undertake these death marches were deprived of food and water.  Rapes and murders were routinely committed against those deported.

Satenig Ehranjian was an Armenian deported with her family from Erzurum in June 1915.  The authorities had already taken her fiancé when she was forced from her home.  After several days walking towards the desert, she was separated from her mother and sister.  Her mother was too ill to continue on the torturous journey and her sister was abducted.  As with her fiancé, Satenig never saw her mother or sister again.

Deportations like this occurred across the Ottoman Empire throughout 1915 and 1916.  By the end of the First World War, Ottoman policies of expulsion and extermination had resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children.

Adolf Hitler later referenced the systematic destruction of the Armenians as the Nazis planned the extermination of European Jews.  Today, many communities across the world come together on 24 April to remember the victims of the Ottoman Empire’s campaign to annihilate its Armenian population.

 Image result for holocaust memorial trust

Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan has issued an address on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

Dear compatriots,

The year of 1915 made it into the history of the Armenian people as the year of the Armenian Genocide – the villainous program implemented in the Ottoman Empire at a state level.

On 24 April the whole Armenian people mourns and bows before the sacred memory of the Genocide martyrs. It is a tribute to 1,5 million our compatriots, innocent children, elderly people and women, workers of culture and arts, state and political figures, ordinary people who have fallen victims of Turkish scimitar only because they were Armenians. Hundreds of thousands of people became refugees leaving their homes and finding shelter in different corners of the world.

Our people managed to survive this bloody catastrophe, not only to survive, but also build new homes and hearths, develop their native land and defend it, celebrating great victories. The guarantees of these victories today are the two free, independent and sovereign Armenian republics that due to the united efforts and dedication of our hardworking and creative people, our sisters and brothers from the Diaspora, are steadfastly moving towards a reliable future.

The Genocide is severe pain and open wound of the entire Armenian people, which obliges us always be on alert and vigilant, do everything possible for the continuous development and strengthening of the independent Armenian statehood. To be firm, consolidated and united, believe and rely on our own strength, considering national interests and values above everything else. This is the only way of our people’s progress, this is the most important lesson of the Armenian Genocide.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 24, 2018 at 10:58 am

Macron, Un Président Philosophe. Brice Couturier. The Anti-Populist Progressive? Review.

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Macron, Un Président Philosophe. Aucun des ses mots n’est le fruit de hasard. Brice Couturier. Editions l’Observatoire. 

An interview which broke with the deferential traditions of the 5th Republic made the French headlines all week. On Sunday the 15th of April the journalists Jean-Jacques Bourdin and Edwy Plenel questioned the head of state for two hours on the balance-sheet of his administration. Elected with a sweeping majority for the party La République en marche, he defended a policy of immediate reforms, from the rail service, to higher education. Macron “listened” to the anger of opponents – the railway workers, students, aeroplane pilots, functionaries, and the squatters occupying the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. But republican norms had to be respected. Universities were victims of “professionnels du désordre” (le Monde 17.4.18).

As the exchange got underway Plenal, the anti-Macron founder of the independent Mediapart, and a former member of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, interrupted. “You are not our Teacher, and we are not your pupils”. An Editorial in Le Monde the previous day talked of Macron as a pedagogue ready to lecture, regardless of the wishes of his audience, until he had completed his lesson. (Macron au cours préparatoire. 14.4.18) Excluding the possibility that the President was unaware of his interlocutor’s troublemaking potential one assumes that a snappy put down far from a chance part of the course.

The Anti-Populist Progressive? 

But what syllabus is France’s President instructing us from? This is far from an issue limited to the Hexagone. There are policies on the European Union. Macron’s “camp progressiste” has stimulated interest amongst homeless supporters of the Third Way, Die Neue Mitte, and the liberal centre. For many of these people Macron represents a successful ‘anti-populist’ unifying force.  Much of the French left, which saw many transfers from the right of the Parti Socialiste (PS) and allied figures, to the new President’s camp, by contrast, announced immediately after his victory that this was a Presidency for the wealthy, for the ‘elite’. For former Socialist Minister Anicet Le Pors, he is “mandated” by international finance, the ruling circles of the EU, the bosses, the administrative technocracy, show business, and nearly all the media. (April 2018. Le Monde Diplomatique)

With the present unrest attracting attention the English-speaking left has been quick to label Macron a neo-liberal, a spin of Tony Blair and Thatcher, out to attack the labour movement and impose markets on the public sphere. The ‘bromance’ with Donald Trump over Syria adds force to the comparison with the former British Prime Minister.

Perry Anderson, in a peremptory post-election account, went deeper. Adorned in best periodic style, he suggested that the “neoliberal reformation of France”, attempted for over three decades, had been impeded on different sides by the constituencies of right and left. Macron, in effect, cut through the various knots tiring up the centre left and right, and formed a real “bloc bourgeois” ready to carry out a liberalisation of the economy, and free up entrepreneurial energy. (1)

But some clarity is needed about the beast in power. There are already plenty of books about the President, and the electoral campaign that swept him to the Élysée. But what is his ideology, beyond carrying out his neoliberal “mandate”? ‘Macronism’ appears a less promising candidate than Thatcherism or even the rebarbative Blairism. A suggestion by Régis Debray that – the reader will have guessed this – that the Head of State represents Americanisation, with a ‘Protestant’ twist (see below), this does not take us far. It might be better said that his ideology is something picked up and stuck together as the result of an academic, administrative, business and political career.

In Macron, un président philosophe, Courtier who has a solid academic, and media background, and a less firm commitment to a form of left wing liberalism, offers us a series of insights into this broad picture. As he indicates, the former assistant to the philosopher Paul Ricœur, graduate of French elite Political and Administrative colleges, Finance Inspector, Rothschild Banker, and Minister under François Hollande, offers rich intellectual pickings. Blair, the erudite few may recall, had the lecturer Peter Thompson at Oxford, and the lessons of reciprocity from John Macmurray, behind his Christian socialism. Macron has somebody, Ricœur, a thinker with a Protestant backdrop, whom people have often heard of, if not read.

The President, we learn, has many many more figures in his hinterland. French books have a vexing lack of indexes. It would be hard work to list every sage cited in un Président philosophe, they range from Hegel, Marx, Carl Schmitt, Nietzsche, Peter Sloterdijk, Joseph Schumpeter, Michael Young (meritocracy), to Jürgen Habermas. This only follows the reference-laden writings and speeches of the book’s subject.

From Ricoeur to Saint Simon. 

It would be useful to boil this down to the essential. To begin with here is the debt to Paul Ricœur. For Courtier he offered the germs of an “identitié narrative” from the individual to the nation, to history. The use for a President of certain ideas about France, recently indicated in recognition to the importance of the legacy of Catholicism, is obvious. Macron has, in other words, considers cultural legacies, the presence of memory, to hold the country together – a view whose originality or interest is not immediately apparent.

Next Macron can be compared to Saint-Simon, the prophet of a society run by “industrials” and “intellectuals”. In this vein he is said to consider globalisation as a system of fluxes to be organised and regulated (Page 253). Finance, the mark of neo-liberalism, is to be channelled to the long-term greater good.

If Macron is a believer in capitalism he acknowledges it is not a system that works smoothly, if with great effort, like some building a planetary network of Saint-Simonian canals. There are moments of creative destruction (Schumpeter), clearing out the old inefficient enterprises, bureaucratic burdens and the “corporatism” of organised labour. ‘Progressive’ states, and the transnational European project, are needed to both facilitate and harness this process. .

Finally, there is building European Sovereignty, and the problems that globalisation creates. Courtier refers to David Goodhart in outlining the problems France faces. (3). Can Macron bring together the France of the “zones péripheriques”, the old working class far from the elite, and the metropolitan “gagnants de la mondialisation” (winners of globalisation), regarded as Macron’s core backing, if not electorate, together? (Pages 291 -2)

The difficulty of reconciling the “somewhere’ salt-of-the-earth folk and the – scorned – “nowhere” cosmopolitans would appear hard for somebody identified with the (however misleadingly) with the latter “bobos”. The task of bringing integration against the ‘identitarians’ of the far-right and those who assert the absolute right to multicultural difference, by the “modèle republican français” appears equally arduous. The often reverential, if not hagiographical tone of Un président philosophe, does not help resolve the difficulties. The use of Goodhart to bolster his opinions indicates a rightward slant with no countervailing force. 

The philosophical commentator Alain famously declared that when somebody says that they are neither right nor left, he is sure of one thing – that they are not of the left. Macron is always careful to declare that he is of the right and the left. But there is a little indication of the latter. Pierre-André Taguieff has represented him as the herald of “successful globalisation”, a Europe in which France would be a “nation-start up” and the “État-enterprise”. To decipher the business-talk Anglicisms that pepper Macron’s speech is to confirm this view.

Managerialism, Saint-Simon, Schumpeter, both far from any conception of “bottom up” democracy, political or economic, and a homeopathic communitarian philosophy suggested by Courtier’s reading of Goodhart, do not make an attractive picture of France’s President. If this is what “progressivism” has become in Europe, than it is doubtful if it will attract many enthusiasts beyond France, and certainly not from left-wingers (3)

The European Project and the left.

In the article cited above Anderson pins the ultimate root of this strategy on the European Project. In the trickle down from his approach, others seize on every obstacle to the EU – Brexit included – as an advance against neo-liberalism. Today’s French strikes and protests – regardless of their specific causes or aims – are considered part of this movement.

But the real issue for the French left, in the aftermath of their defeat, may be said to have been whether Macron could be opposed by the “left populist” strategy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI), to ‘federate the people” against the “elite” or by a new “left bloc” based on alliances between the parties (now stretching from the remains of the PS, Benoît Hamon’s group, the PCF, LFI and its allies, what is left of Les Verts, Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, NPA) with the social forces presently fighting the wave of Macron reforms. This, as Stefano Palombarini suggested last June, would require an internationalist strategy towards changing the EU that breaks from the populist drift to ‘sovereigntism’. (4)

It is said that with his steam-roller reforms Macron has now been abandoned by whatever support he had from the ‘reformist’ liberal left. That after a year’s presidency he has veered towards authoritarianism  to “jacobinisme vertical”. Whether this is true or not the left is not united. There is no indication that the largest group in the French National Assembly, LFI, at the moment engaged in a “war of movement” to capture hegemony over the left, intends to explore this possibility. It might still be said, that to wrestle the European issue out of the hands of the Macrons and the existing EU system of governance, while fighting the sovereigntists, remains the key issue for our continent’s left, in all its diversity, strengths and weaknesses.

****

(1) The Centre Can Hold. Perry Anderson. New Left Review. No 105. May/June 2017. See: L’Illusion du Bloc Bourgeois. Bruno Amable. Stefano Palombarini. Raisons d’agir. 2017. Speculation that François Hollande and his immediate circle played a part in Macron’s Presidential ascension has waned with the publication of memories reproaching his one-time protégé for his actions.

(2) The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. David Goodhart. Hurst & Company. 2017.

(3) Page 283. Macron: miracle ou mirage? Pierre-André Taguieff. Editions l’Observatoire. August 2017

(4) Face à Macron, la gauche ou le populisme? Stefano Palombarini

French Conspiracy Theorists Backing Assad.

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Parce que c'est Notre Projeeeeeet !

French Conspis.

France is the birthplace of one of the grandfathers of modern conspiracy theory, the ‘complotiste’ Thierry Meyssan.

The author of one of the best-known 9/11 ‘Truth’ books, L’Effroyable imposture, (2002),  Meyssan is at present installed in…Syria.

He is a journalist for the Russian weekly magazine Odnako (Однако).

This is how he presents himself, “Political consultant, President-founder of the Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network). Latest work in French – Sous nos Yeux. Du 11-Septembre à Donald Trump (Right Before our Eyes. From 9/11 to Donald Trump).”

Those less friendly towards him observe his obsession with “l’Occident et les sionistes” (the West and the Zionists).

This is latest post, which he publishes translated into approximative English.

Washington forces its allies to accept a bipolar world

By firing missiles on Syria with its French and British allies, the strange President Donald Trump has managed to force the Western powers to accept the end of their unilateral domination of the world. The insignificant result of this demonstration of force drags NATO back to reality. Without having made use of its weapons, Russia now succeeds the Soviet Union in the balance of world power.

..

The Allies pretend that Syria kept stocks of chemical weapons, despite its membership of the Convention which prohibits them. They claim that they targeted only areas linked to these weapons. And yet, for example, they fired four missiles at the international commercial airport in Damascus, an exclusively civilian target. Happily, the Syrian Arab Army managed to intercept them all.

On the 15th of April Meyssan singled out the White Helmets,

 …Casques blancs » (White Helmets). Celle-ci, qui se présente comme une « association humanitaire », est en réalité partie au conflit. Elle a officiellement participé à plusieurs opérations de guerre, dont la coupure d’eau des 5,6 millions d’habitants de Damas durant une quarantaine de jours [3].

They, who claim to be a “humanitarian association” are in fact part of the conflict. They have officially participated in several war operations, including cutting the water supply off to 5,6 million Damascus inhabitants for around forty days.

Réseau Voltaire also publishes this item (20th of April) ,

The Russian army has discovered an underground chemical laboratory set up in Douma in the area that the jihadists who had occupied the city, have now abandoned.

17 April 2018: Alexander Rodionov, an expert on chemical weapons, declared on Rossiya TV, that basic ingredients for chemical weapons such as thiodiglycol and diethanolamine, had been discovered in the lab. Importantly, such chemicals are used to manufacture mustard gas.

Translation
Anoosha Boralessa

Another pro-Assad propaganda agency is the French far-right site, Égalité et Réconciliation, is a paradigm of political confusionism.

It is a political association created in June 2007 by Alain Soral, who claims to be a former activist of the French Communist Party, and also a former member of the central committee of the National Front (2007). Other founders are Jildaz Mahé O’Chinal and Philippe Péninque, two former activists of Groupe union défense (GUD), a violent extreme right student group now disappeared.

The political association describes itself as cross factional and “left nationalist.”[2] The association also that its intention is to bring together “citizens who are part of the nation that determines political action and social policy which are the foundations of the Brotherhood, an essential component of national unity,” and that it is “on the Left for the workers and on the Right for morals.”

Wikipedia (edited).

“Égalité et Réconciliation se mobilise pour la défense des régimes baasistes, le nationalisme arabe étant perçu de longue date par les nationalistes révolutionnaires comme un opposant au communisme et au capitalisme anglo-saxon »”

It supports in defence of the Baasit regimes, having, as nationalist revolutionaries considered, for a long period, Arab nationalism as an opponent of communism and anglo-saxon capitalism.”

(French Wikipedia)

As can be imagined it takes a keen interest in Syrian events.

Chroniques de la paix universelle est une émission d’ERFM animée par Youssef Hindi et Gearóid Ó Colmáin.

They peddle the usual conspi line about a world riven by plotting Powers.

These authors are linked to the this site, Agoravox.

It publishes this, claiming, you guessed it, that the most recent chemical attacks never happened.

That they are a set up.

Syrie : L’enfant soi-disant victime d’une attaque chimique raconte que tout est faux (18/04/18)

 

There are many further long standing links between the Syrian regime and the French far right:  Les liens entre l’extrême droite française et le régime syrien des Assad.

These may be the far-right fringes but a far wider layer has taken up similar themes, as the excellent site Conspiracy Watch indicates,

Syrie : un « centre pharmaceutique » détruit par les frappes de la coalition… ou une intox complotiste ?

One of the further problems in France is that some of the strands working in  Égalité et Réconciliation, “sovereigntist” nationalism, has a wider resonance. The defence of national sovereignty overrides everything else.

Assad is seen as defender of this principle against the New World Order, led by the US and darker powers.

Marine Le Pen’s position is well known.

In 2017 she declared, “French Far-Right Leader Says Backing Assad ‘Least Bad Option’ In Syria.”

It is alleged that a part of the French left is not immune to these ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 21, 2018 at 12:42 pm

In Defence of Richard Seymour – “Labour’s Antisemitism affair” largely gets it right.

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“Media-Manufactured Anti-Semitism Crisis” Says Weekly Worker: Richard Seymour Disagrees.

There is no joy like that of Tendance Coatesy’s at the welcoming back of a sinner into the fold.

In celebration this Blog’s editorial committee – a powerful and influential body on the international left – has sent to the rubbish bin one of our posts criticising the esteemed comrade.

Not everybody is of the same view.

The Monster Raving Greenstein Party expresses his opprobrium, at great length, in the latest issue of one of his many House Journals, for whatever faction he is now leading, the Weekly Worker.

No doubt piqued by the fact that Seymour does not mention him once he states, in words that could have been written by that master of revolutionary polemic Gerry Downing,

“Seymour’s article, entitled ‘Labour’s anti-Semitism affair’, on Labour’s media-manufactured anti-Semitism crisis, proves the maxim that those who leave the SWP invariably drift to the right.2 In Seymour’s case this involves a wholesale abandonment of class politics in favour of subjectivism and a crude empiricism.”

Here is the master polemic:

Both sides of the fence. Leftist intellectuals have taken fright when faced with the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign. Tony Greenstein responds to Richard Seymour

No doubt piqued by the fact that Seymour does not mention him once this is one of his other opening comments,

Seymour’s latest article in Jacobin suggests he is wandering aimlessly across the left, dragged in the undertow of conflicting political currents without either ballast or firm conviction.

Followed by, blah blah…..

..mired in the swamp of identity politics and this is causing him to lose his political bearings.

To sum it up ,in words that could have been written by that master of revolutionary polemic Gerry Downing  Greenstein asserts,

Seymour’s article, entitled ‘Labour’s anti-Semitism affair’, on Labour’s media-manufactured anti-Semitism crisis, proves the maxim that those who leave the SWP invariably drift to the right.2 In Seymour’s case this involves a wholesale abandonment of class politics in favour of subjectivism and a crude empiricism.

Few will be arsed to read further, so let’s look at comrade Seymour’s contribution in its own right.

Labour’s Antisemitism Affair.    RICHARD SEYMOUR

Lenny begins by describing the absurdities of the Corbyn ‘Beetroot’ scandal and Judass (although as a seasoned far-left internet-surfer, they have largely only been at the corner of the Tendance’s interest).

Warning signs about anti-semitism begin to flash when he sees that,

“Some Corbyn supporters signing a petition defending him against a “very powerful interest group,” toxic language to use in this context.”

Delving into the nitty gritty of recent events, tackles  the Christine Shawcroft affair.

Seymour  suggests that her most recent behaviour at Labour’s NEC, which led to her ignoble resignation after it was discovered she’d defended a Holocaust denier,  may be explained, “Given her long-standing commitment to defending members against a hostile bureaucracy, it is plausible that Shawcroft acted on autopilot.”.

The Tendance is less generously inclined on learning, after this article will have been written, the following, (Leaked minutes show Labour at odds over antisemitism claims).

The minutes also reveal Shawcroft refused to recuse herself as chair when the panel heard the case of a Labour councillor who has been accused of using a racist term to describe a black council candidate and co-ordinating with the party of the disgraced Tower Hamlets former mayor Lutfur Rahman against Labour.

Shawcroft, an active member in Tower Hamlets who was once herself suspended for defending Rahman, was asked to recuse herself after other NEC members said she had acted as a “silent friend” of the councillor during his investigatory interview, but refused, the minutes said.

But from this point the article really gets into its stride.

The context is well set out,

Corbyn was not supposed to win. The fact that he did, with a landslide, was treated by many Labour MPs as a matter for counter-subversion. Rather than reflecting their weakness, they insisted, it was proof of the infiltration of Labour by a “hard left plot”: new virulent strain of Militant. For both the right-wing and the hard-center of the British press, it was evidence that an unthinking mob had taken over — akin, said the Financial Times, to the supporters of the Third Reich.

Then we have, amongst other cases, including, (an old star on this Blog) “Gerry Downing, a seasoned sectarian hack, was the next to appear in the headlines, for urging on ISIS victory against the US, and describing Israel as a form of “the Jewish question.”

And, he looks at Ken Livingstone going on about them there Zionists and Nazis.

Livingstone was making a gratuitous hash of a history which wasn’t particularly relevant to the issue, and dropping his party in a huge and unnecessary mess. He was suspended, amid a huge furor.

And …Jackie Walker at the Jewish Labour Movement training……

The nature of her intervention left no doubt that Walker was there to wage factional war, attacking the JLM’s approach to antisemitism and the political valences of Holocaust Day by suggesting (wrongly) that it was not “open to all people who experienced a holocaust.” On the most generous reading possible, Walker chose the worst terrain and format for making points that would have required nuance and careful unpacking. The audience was on edge as soon as she spoke, and her roundly heckled comments were secretly recorded and leaked. To anyone not steeped in Walker’s politics, this looked at best tendentious. In the coverage, it looked as though she was splitting hairs, belittling antisemitism. Walker’s tactical misadventure inadvertently damaged her own cause, and she was drummed out of the Momentum leadership.

One imagines this raised some hackles.

It’s a complex and well-researched  article – though some reference to very real anti-semitism not just in Hungary or the US but in the rather closer France where allegations of left-wing complicity have arisen would not have been amiss –  which merits being read in full.

Seymour rightly focuses on ” the traditions of anti-Zionism emerging in the post-1967 era tend to be socialist and internationalist. For example, Moshé Machover” and,

Mike Marqusee (who) was a celebrated figure on the Labour left whose moving memoir challenged Zionism’s claim on Jewish identity. The Jewish Socialist Group and the radical group Jewdas, (who) take their inspiration from the tradition of secular, anti-nationalist Bundism.

He concludes,

 As I have argued, while the issue of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is vitally important, Israel is not a major source of polarization in British politics. It has, however, become a displacement, a pseudo-explanation for much larger and longer-term social processes.

For some on the Left, meanwhile, the fight to defend Corbyn’s leadership has come to mean defending it against Labour Friends of Israel, the Board of Deputies, and the Jewish Labour Movement: in a word, the “Lobby.” But such groups are neither as cohesive nor as powerful as the “Lobby” thesis implies. If they were even a tithe as powerful as Unite, for example, Corbyn’s leadership might be in danger. Such groups merit criticism, but a singular focus on them cannot found a sensible politics.

It is, alternatively, possible to walk and chew gum. To refute bad-faith accusations of antisemitism, assert the simple justice of Palestinian rights, and recognize that the Left is not exempted from racism. The rise in antisemitism is not separate from the general increase in racism, and nor is it eternally marginal and out-of-power. At a time when nascent far-right movements are surfacing, with antisemitic tendencies linked to state power in Hungary and the United States, the Left has a particular responsibility to lead on this issue. It can’t do that if it’s so focused on the “Lobby” that it can’t see the problem clearly.

In other words some people on the left are obsessed about ‘Zionism’ to the point of losing any sense of judgement and that this ‘displacement’ has  mighty pissed a lot of others off, including a large section of the left.

That we had better direct attention to wider issues about racism, which includes an anti-semitic element – see above comment in the present article about France.

So what of poor old Monster Raving’s objections?

After dismissing the whole piece on the grounds that “It is not for Richard Seymour to now lecture us on the evils of anti-Semitism.”  Greenstein does say one thing worth of note:

I was surprised that Jacobin published Seymour’s article, but reassured that the current editor, Bhaskar Sunkara, has told me that he completely disagreed with the thrust of the article. The previous editor, Max Ajl, has told me that he would never have published “such a shoddy piece”! So I still find it puzzling why Jacobin thought it worthy of publication, when so many rightwing sites would have welcomed such a ‘repentant sinner’!

Which confirms everything progressive opinion thinks of the oddly named Jacobin.

And provided the opening sentence of the present post.

That Sunkara even talks to this creature….

 

 

Conspiracy theorists, Sarah Abdallah and Syria.

with 13 comments

Tweet by @sahouraxo: "Nobody is happier about Trump's illegal attack on #Syria than Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Netanyahu. McCain and Hillary too. #SyriaHoax"

‘Sarah Abdallah’. Followed by “supporters of pro-Palestinian causes, Russians and Russian allies, white nationalists and those from the extremist alt-right, conservative American Trump supporters, far-right groups in Europe and conspiracy theorists.”

Anybody with a Facebook or a Twitter account who’s got an interest in politics, let alone the Middle East and Syria itself, has seen conspiracy theorists posting in abundance over the last weeks.

There is a constant drip drip of  claims that the reports of chemical warfare come from doubtful sources, “jihadist groups” and the “white helmets” “funded by countries committed to regime change”. Opponents of Assad are, apparently, not to believed. They have an axe to grind. Unlike those reporting at length on the crimes of the jihadists, Western intervention and the misdeeds of all those who wish to get rid of the Baathist regime.

The Morning Star published this yesterday,

Inspectors unable to investigate alleged chemical attack due to Western missile strikes.

EXTERNAL inspectors visited the site of an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma today.

Experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in the capital Damascus on Saturday but were unable to carry out investigations in Douma due to that morning’s missile strike by the US, Britain and France.

Syrian state media agency Sana reported the investigation team entered Douma last night.

France said it is “highly likely” that evidence disappeared from the site before the inspectors arrived in the area.

Britain, France and the US continue to say that they have evidence of a chemical attack which they insist was carried out by the Syrian government.

Their sources include jihadist groups and the White Helmets, founded by a former British military intelligence officer and funded by countries committed to regime change.

President Bashar al-Assad denies his forces have used chemical weapons and Russia has stated that it has “incontrovertible evidence” that British intelligence staged the attack to justify military intervention.

There are more systematic efforts to tie these threads together.

The ‘conspis’ (as French handily shortens this expression) have now got the attention of the BBC.

Syria war: The online activists pushing conspiracy theories

As the investigation continues into another alleged chemical attack in Syria, one group of influential online activists is busy spreading their version of events.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are attempting to access the previously rebel-held town of Douma, where medical organisations and rescue workers say President Bashar al-Assad’s forces dropped bombs filled with toxic chemicals in an attack on 7 April, killing more than 40 people.

The Syrian government and its key ally, Russia, say the incident was staged. But the US, UK and France – who support the opposition to Mr Assad – say they are confident that chlorine and possibly a nerve agent were used.

Despite the uncertainty about what happened in Douma, a cluster of influential social media activists is certain that it knows what occurred on 7 April.

They’ve seized on a theory being floated by Russian officials and state-owned media outlets that the attacks were “staged” or were a “false flag” operation, carried out by jihadist groups or spies in order to put the blame on the Assad government and provide a justification for Western intervention.

The group includes activists and people who call themselves “independent journalists”, and several have Twitter followings reaching into the tens or hundreds of thousands.

..

The network of activists includes people like Vanessa Beeley. She has more than 30,000 Twitter followers and writes for a news outlet that the website Media Bias/Fact Check calls a “conspiracy and conjecture site” that has “an extreme right bias”.

In response to a list of questions, she called BBC Trending’s story a “blatant attempt” to “silence independent journalism” and repeated unsubstantiated claims about alleged chemical weapons attacks.

But in the online conversation about Syria there are more influential activists, about whom much less is known.

Sarah Abdallah (@sahouraxo on Twitter) has more than 125,000 followers, among them more than 250 journalists from mainstream media outlets. Her follower count is comparable to BBC journalists who regularly report on Syria, such as BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen (167,000) and BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet (142,000).

In addition to pictures of herself, Sarah Abdallah tweets constant pro-Russia and pro-Assad messages, with a dollop of retweeting mostly aimed at attacking Barack Obama, other US Democrats and Saudi Arabia.

In her Twitter profile she describes herself as an “Independent Lebanese geopolitical commentator” but she has almost no online presence or published stories or writing away from social media platforms. A personal blog linked to by her account has no posts.

Her tweets have been quoted by mainstream news outlets, but a Google News search indicates that she has not written any articles in either English or Arabic.

She refused to comment several times when approached by BBC Trending and did not respond to specific requests to comment on this story in particular.

The BBC goes onto to underline this point:

The Sarah Abdallah account is, according to a recent study by the online research firm Graphika, one of the most influential social media accounts in the online conversation about Syria, and specifically in pushing misinformation about a 2017 chemical weapons attack and the Syria Civil Defence, whose rescue workers are widely known as the “White Helmets”.

They go on to observe,

Graphika found 20 million messages about the White Helmets, split between tweets in support and in opposition. Among the opponents, Kelly says, Sarah Abdallah was “by far the most influential”, followed by Vanessa Beeley.

The firm found that Sarah Abdallah’s account was primarily followed by a number of different interest clusters: supporters of pro-Palestinian causes, Russians and Russian allies, white nationalists and those from the extremist alt-right, conservative American Trump supporters, far-right groups in Europe and conspiracy theorists.

These groups were instrumental in making the hashtag #SyriaHoax trend after the chemical weapons attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017.

That hashtag, pushed by Sarah Abdallah and influential American conservative activists, became a worldwide trend on Twitter. Many of those tweeting it claimed that the chemical weapons attack was faked or a hoax.

Here is a sample of ‘her’ work.

She admires Robert Fisk,

Some are a lot blunter than the BBC about this creature,

The real Sarah Abdallah – Part I

Meanwhile:

Written by Andrew Coates

April 19, 2018 at 11:57 am

Parliament debates anti-Semitism.

with 5 comments

Image result for leftist anti-semite dead bird

Image may contain: text

The Mirror reports on John Mann’s speech in the Parliamentary debate on anti-semitism yesterday.

A Labour MP’s wife was threatened with rape and was sent a dead bird through the post after he was appointed to lead a Parliamentary group on anti-Semitism, he told MPs.

In a powerful speech to the House of Commons, the furious Bassetlaw MP said he had been singled out for abuse for showing solidarity with Jewish Labour members.

“But worse than that,” he told MPs, “explicitly targeting Jewish members of the parliamentary Labour party because they are Jewish.””That is what is going on at the moment. I didn’t expect when I took on this voluntary cross-party role for my wife to be sent by a Labour Marxist anti-Semite a dead bird through the post.

“I didn’t expect my son after an Islamist death threat to open the door in the house on his own as a schoolboy to the bomb squad.

“I didn’t expect my wife, in the last few weeks from a leftist anti-Semite in response to the demonstration, to be threatened with rape. I didn’t expect my daughter similarly, and have to be rung up in the last few weeks by special branch to check out her movements in this country.

“No, I didn’t expect any of that.”

The paper also carries this: 

‘Denial is not an option’: Watch Luciana Berger’s powerful speech describing the anti-Semitic abuse she’s faced in full

Speaking in a general Commons debate on anti-Semitism, Ms Berger said she received her first piece of hate mail aged 19, saying it described her as a “dirty Zionist pig”.

Labour MP Luciana Berger gave an emotional speech describing some of the vile anti-Semitic abuse she has faced.

The Liverpool Wavertree MP was applauded by members on all sides of the house, after she spoke of the abuse she’s endured, including from people claiming to be supporters of Jeremy Corbyn .

Speaking in a general Commons debate on anti-Semitism, Ms Berger said she received her first piece of hate mail aged 19, saying it described her as a “dirty Zionist pig”

Standing on a Commons back bench, in front of the “More in Common” memorial plaque to murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, she told MPs: “Here starts my 18-year experience of contending with anti-Semitism.”

Ms Berger said she has been attacked by the far-right and far-left, later saying anti-racism is a central Labour value and there was a “time not long ago when the left actively confronted anti-Semitism”.

She added: “One anti-Semitic member of the Labour Party is one member too many.

“And yes, as I’ve said outside this place in Parliament Square, and it pains me to say this proudly as the chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, in 2018 within the Labour Party anti-Semitism is more commonplace, is more conspicuous and is more corrosive.

“That’s why I have no words for the people who purport to be both members and supporters of our party, who use that hashtag JC4PM, who attacked me in recent weeks for my comments, they attacked me for speaking at the rally against anti-Semitism, they’ve questioned my comments where I questioned comments endorsing that anti-Semitic mural, who say I should be deselected or called it a smear.”

Jewish Voice for Labour makes these relevant points,

JOINT STATEMENT ON TORY LINKS TO ANTISEMITISM IN EUROPEAN POLITICS

As the House of Commons holds a debate on antisemitism called by the Conservative Party, we are calling on the Prime Minister  to confront the political parties and governments in Europe that have exploited and fuelled a rising tide of antisemitism.

Last month, Latvia’s National Alliance opposition party called for the commemoration of Latvian soldiers who fought under the swastika banner to be reinstated as a national holiday. The party is formally affiliated to the Tories through their shared membership of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party is the Tories’ major partner in this group (based on seats in the European Parliament). Earlier this year, their leader and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki defended a controversial new law criminalising anyone who calls out the complicity of Poles in the Nazi genocide by stating that Jews were also perpetrators of the Holocaust. This came barely a month after Theresa May’s visit in which she signed a new defence and security pact with the Polish government and celebrated the “relationship between the United Kingdom and Poland, based on a shared history and a shared tradition”.

And just last week, Boris Johnson congratulated Viktor Orban and his autocratic Fidesz party on their election victory in Hungary, referring to them as his ‘friends’. This in spite of a campaign widely criticised  for its relentless anti-Semitic undertones, targeting and accusing Jewish philanthropist George Soros of a conspiratorial plot to take over the country.

This is not about guilt by association. If the Tories are serious about confronting antisemitism wherever it surfaces, they can no longer turn a blind eye to the deeply offensive rhetoric and actions of some of their European political partners, nor the dangerous precedent set by Poland’s recently enacted Holocaust law. We call on Theresa May to unequivocally condemn these parties for harbouring and mobilising antisemitism; to acknowledge and apologise for her failure to confront this in the past; and to withdraw the Tories’ membership of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group until it is genuinely free of all racist elements, including antisemitism.

Independent Jewish Voices
Jewish Socialists’ Group
Jewish Voice for Labour
Jews for Justice for Palestinains

From one of the splinters of Labour Against the Witch-hunt Tony Greenstein replies in his own fashion,

50 Years After Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood Speech’ Parliament Debates Fake ‘Anti-Semitism’ and Applauds Zionist MPs Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth.

This ‘anti-Semitism’ is an entirely bogus and fake exercise.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 18, 2018 at 11:55 am