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Toff Priyamvada Gopal Throws a Wobbly Over Uppity King’s College Porters.

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‘Madam’ ne sied pas à son altesse, Dr Gopal.

Priyamvada Gopal is a person with a bit of a history.

Support for gender segregation in 2013, See, Gender Segregation and the Postmodern Politics of Despair.

Attack on Mary Beard earlier this year: Oxfam scandal sparks Twitter row between Cambridge academics.

Her latest escapade was not in long in getting into the media.

The Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal announced today that she will refuse to supervise any students at Kings’ College, due to what she described as “consistently racist profiling and aggression by Porters”.

The Cambridge Student.

This is apparently the substance of her charges.

She described one of her experiences at the college: “‘I repeatedly asked them to address me as ‘Dr Gopal’ and repeatedly failed to get them, including the aggressive Head Porter to whom I attempt to complain to address me as anything other than ‘madam.’”

Gopal apologised to students but pointed to similar testimonies from other members of the university from ethnic minorities. She said that a King’s student told her that “the issue of racial profiling and unconscious bias at the King’s gate is something we are aware of”.

The response from King’s College Visitor Service was described by the academic as a “classic nopology” – the head of the department stated “it has not been my experience”, according to Gopal.

The professor, who came to Cambridge in 2001, has been involved in several public controversies in recent months, including an argument with Mary Beard over the Oxfam scandal and a Daily Mail article depicting her as a “hate-filled don”.

She has also been an active user of Twitter as a platform for defending her beliefs, having 18,000 followers. In March, however, she announced she would tweet less as she feared “turning into an anti-troll”.

King’s College have said the following: “We have investigated the incident and found no wrongdoing on the part of our staff.

“Every visitor was asked to show their card during the course of that day, as the College was closed to everyone except King’s members.

“Non-members such as Dr Gopal were asked to take alternatives routes, around the College.”

“This was a matter of procedure, not discrimination.

Some might observe that Madam Gopal is the embodiment of conservative upper-class entitlement masquerading as the fight against oppression.

Apparently she has taken the following action ” I have finally decided on my behalf & of other people of colour.”

 

Bless!

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Written by Andrew Coates

June 20, 2018 at 12:19 pm

City of Ghosts: from Syria to Europe and the fight against the far-right.

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City of Ghosts was shown on BBC 4 last night.

This moving documentary about a group of Syrian activists, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.  (RBSS)

The hopes of an Arab Spring resounded in their home, the city of Raqqa in the north of Syria. Protests against the Assad regime were countered by violent repression. The arrival of ISIL, in April 2014, the country’s branch of  Islamic State, was followed by the rule of their version of Islamic ‘law’. There were public beheadings, firing squad executions, mock crucifixions and  Volkish placard shaming.

At great risk to themselves RBSS opposed the take-over in the only way they could. They reported and filmed undercover the regime of what became the de facto capital of Daesh.

The documentary showed images of clandestine protests against Daesh and the slaughters the jihadists committed. Perhaps the most disturbing moments were when the new rulers tried to bring the young into their fold. “Children are Isis’s firewood” they said, and we saw a band of joyful babes and youngsters following a bearded fighter chanting their hate. A near-infant was filmed being trained to stab and behead on a large teddy bear.

This backdrop confirmed the worst scenes in Peter Kosminsky’s The State.

Many RBSS activists left the city, though they kept a core group of courageous witness inside Raqqa.

They used social media and the Net to broadcast their message. ISIL devoted a great deal of time to trying to search their supporters out.

In May 2014, Al-Moutaz Bellah Ibrahim was kidnapped by ISIL and murdered. In July 2015, ISIL released a video showing two men being strung up on trees and shot. Though ISIL claimed the two murdered men had worked with RBSS, one of the founders of RBSS denied they were members. Another friend of the group was similarly executed. Hamoud al-Mousa, the father of one of the group’s founders, was killed in ISIL custody. On October 30, 2015, RBSS activist Ibrahim Abdul Qadir (age 20) and his friend Fares Hamadi were found stabbed and beheaded in Urfa Turkey. It was the first acknowledged assassination outside of ISIL controlled territory. (Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently)

The sight of Hamoud al-Mousa’s execution, followed by that of the same RBSS activist’s brother’s murder, being watched in a safehouse in Germany was harrowing.

City of Ghosts deserved the highest awards.

But above all the activists of RBSS, merit the greatest respect we can possible give to other human beings.

Avoiding fruitless debate about the essential nature of ‘Islam’ one of them says,

“It is not my Islam”.

Europe.

Towards the end of the documentary there were scenes in which the Syrians were  confronted by  the German far-right Pegida calling for the removal of refugees.

There was also  commentary on the actions of Daesh in Europe, including the Bataclan massacre.

This opens up the issue of how we should both support the fight of groups of democrats like RBSS and combat the racist far-right.

With the Tommy Robinson campaign in Britain this has become an issue of burning importance.

People have noted that the groups Stand up to Racism and Unite against Fascism are dominated by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) (“Both these groups are front organisations of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and receive their political direction from its leadership.”  Socialist Resistance)

In 2014, as Raqqa fell to the genociders Socialist Worker published this article by Hassan Mahamdallie, co-director of the Muslim Institute.

There is resistance to this frenzy of Islamophobia

The beheading of US journalist James Foley by the Islamic State, formerly known as Isis, was horrific. But is the Nigerian military slitting the throats of 16 young men and boys any less horrific?

Or last week’s Israeli air strike that blew to smithereens the wife and seven month old son of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif? Surely that was horrific and disturbing too?

..

In the 1930s radicalised young men from the same mining communities illegally made their way into Spain to take up arms against general Franco’s fascist army.

It must have been the fault of their Welsh Methodist upbringing.

But Howells’ drivel was modest fare compared to the truly millennial frenzy that was gathering pace.

In authentic End of Days tones, US secretary of defence Chuck Hagel said Isis represents “an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.

“They’re beyond just a terrorist group. This is beyond anything we’ve seen, so we must prepare for everything.”

I much preferred the response of the spokesperson from south east London’s Lewisham Mosque.

The press asked him to condemn a tweet from a woman “Jihadi” in Syria who might have once attended the mosque.

He retorted, “The young woman’s desire to travel to Syria has nothing to do with the Centre. Unfortunately, the Muslim community are being subjected to a burden of proof based on a ‘guilty by association’ standard”.

He rightly attacked the press’s demand, as “loaded with an Islamophobic assumption that Muslims by default condone such brutality”.

It was good to see someone refusing to bow to the frenzy, a spark of resistance in a very dark week.

There was much in a similar vein, from the SWP and groups such as Counterfire, understanding the ‘radicalisation’ of those who volunteered to be part of Einsatzgruppen and concentrating their fire on the prospect of Western intervention in the civil war.

Unlike RBSS their criticisms of the Assad regime was fairly muted.

This ambiguity continued.

When Charlie Hebdo (12 deaths) and the Porte de Vincennes Hypercacher (5 deaths)  attacks took place  in 2015, the same forces took it upon themselves to understand why this “blowback” against France in general and the ‘Islamophobic” satirical weekly took place. Charlie “had it coming to them”. Counterfire railed against ” a crude and absolutist fetish of free speech”.

These people are unable to confront violent Islamism.

With such a tainted history these groups have no moral authority whatsoever.

There are many many people on the lest who do not back groups which fail to take a resolute stand against the jihadist Islamism, and against Assad.

The fight against Robinson’s supporters, many (from the Clarion to Socialist Resistance) suggest, should come from the mass organisations of the labour movement and the Labour Party.

We cannot unite around  “defeating fascism” as Lindsey German puts it, until we have a clear view that the violent jihadists and the mouvance around them, with roots in Europe as well as the Middle East and the Maghreb,  are also enemies of the far right.

And we need to back the Syrian democrats, whose heroism is so powerfully illustrated in City of Ghosts.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 12, 2018 at 10:37 am

Syria: *The* Issue for the International Left.

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Syria: The World’s War.

At the end of last week BBC 2 showed a thorough, moving, pair of documentaries on Syria.

Syria: The World’s War

Lyse Doucet tells the story of one of the biggest humanitarian crisis of our age, the Syrian civil war – seven years of brutal conflict, surpassing the length of World War II. In this two-part series, Lyse Doucet, who has reported on the conflict from the start, explores how peaceful protest for change spiralled into unspeakable savagery – half a million people killed, millions of lives shattered and so much of Syria in utter ruins.

The series tells the inside story of the war from multiple perspectives. It hears accounts of the experiences of Syrian people from different sides – civilians and fighters who stayed loyal to the government of President Assad as well as those who rebelled.

This second film in the series picks up the action as Raqqa falls to a mixture of Islamist and moderate forces. The story of the extraordinary events of the following months is told by two characters. One is a protester who aims to build a new civil society based on democracy, the other is a torture victim who joins the Islamists as a hired assassin. Within a few weeks of the fall of Raqqa, a new, even more extreme Islamist group arrive – ISIS. The civil society activists ends up being tortured in an ISIS jail, the other ends up joining ISIS and working his way through a kill list they have given him. Each tell their story with extraordinary candour.

As Raqqa descends into chaos, arguably the most important battle of the war is entering its second year – Aleppo. Lyse meets the militia leader who was a key player in the government fightback against the rebels who had occupied a large part of the city. On the other side we meet the bomb-maker who takes us inside the Islamist forces as they dig tunnels underground to blow up government buildings on the other side of the frontline. To gain greater understanding of how this catastrophe unfolded, Lyse also speaks to politicians and soldiers from within Syria and also from western and regional powers. She asks difficult questions of the foreign minister of Syria itself, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, concerning their involvement in the decisions that shaped the conflict. She also gains candid interviews with the key Western leaders from the time, such as the then foreign secretary William Hague and US Secretary of State John Kerry. They tell the story of how the US and then the UK finally enter the war – not against Assad, but against ISIS.

By 2015, four years since the start of the war, the Assad government is under real pressure. The crucial battle is Aleppo. We talk to the fighters on both sides who felt that the city could have been lost to rebels – something that might have proven a mortal blow to the regime. Through interviews with politicians close to the action, Lyse tells the story of how Russian intervention turned the war in President Assad’s favour. In the final terrible months of the siege of Aleppo, we see the suffering of civilians under the massive bombardment through the eyes of a doctor whose hospital is repeatedly hit. Lyse interviews a local politician who claims the hospital is an Al Qaeda base – something denied by those who worked there.

The recapture of Aleppo by Government forces in late 2016 arguably marked the point at which President Assad could no longer be removed by force. The film tracks the most recent year of the war ending with the recent events in Eastern Ghouta and Douma – incidents which mark Assad’s gradual re-assertion of control of the areas around Damascus.

This two-hour series provides the most comprehensive account to date of how the tragedy of Syria unfolded. Importantly, it gets as close to a 360-degree account of some of the key moments in a war that by now has drawn in 75 countries and counting.

I realise that we in the UK have other pressing issues on our minds than the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the millions of refugees.

But perhaps this indicates the gravity of what is happening,

The worst humanitarian crisis of the century. A conflict that has gone on longer than the second world war, drawing in 75 countries and counting. Half a million killed. Millions displaced. A country in utter ruins. And still, seven years on, no military solution, no prospect of a diplomatic answer and no end in sight. This tremendous – and necessarily distressing – documentary (part two is on Friday), fronted by the veteran correspondent Lyse Doucet, begins with the now stock phrases and statistics that trick us into thinking we know this war. Then it tells the story of what actually happened. The facts, as they used to be known.

And we need to be reminded. The appalling truth of a war so long and entangled in world politics is that you become confused, disengaged and desensitised. Despair blots out the need to know and keep knowing. This is how we begin to forget why wars started in the first place.

But those on the left in other lands have been writing on the issue.

This, from the excellent site Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières, (there is much more in the French language section).

How Assad chases, tortures and kills the best of Syria’s young pacifist leftists – For Syria’s disappeared. For Syria’s future  by WESSELS Joshka

Last week Rami Hennawi’s family received the news from Syrian authorities that their son and partner died in prison and they can collect his body. Rami was a pacifist leftist young activist who was detained in 2012. Five years he spent in the most inhumane conditions in one of Assad’s torture houses. Rami came from Sweida, a majority Druze city under regime control and considered in general pro-Assad. But in fact, the underground resistance against Assad in Sweida is strong. If anything, local people in Sweida remembered the anti-colonial hero Sultan Basha al-Atrash, leader of the 1925 Great Syrian Revolt, and took the opportunity several time to congregate in front of his statue to voice their opposition against Assad. This is why the Syrian regime is very wary of the underground opposition from Sweida.

According to one of my sources from the area, at the moment, Sweida inhabitants are under repression by many different factions of pro-Assad shabiha, who kill to steal motorbikes, teenagers get killed because of fights at the schoolground and Assadist shabiha rape at random, terrorizing the local girls and women. There is a sense of lawlessness, and those who are supportive of the regime benefit from this situation. Those who now legally carry weapons in Sweida, have a history of violence and can do all illegal activities they aspire because no one is stopping them.

“The war in Syria only benefits the counter-revolutionary forces” – A comprehensive outlook  DAHER JosephFARAS AntonisTHEODOROU Lina

The issue of Syria is a burning one for the international left.

The founder of the Marxism List, which links to many valuable articles in the same vein, Louis Proyect has engaged in a furious war for the truth against ‘red brown’ (a ‘left’ admirer of Marine Le Pen) conspis like Diana Johnstone on the issue of Syria.

Johnstone now puts Assad in the ‘axis of resistance’

This is his latest bulletin.

Diana Johnstone’s attack on Tony McKenna.

Like a lot of people who were radicalized in the 60s, Johnstone developed a reverence for Stalinist strong men as a way of overcompensating for LBJ, Nixon, et al. Totally alienated by American society, she became infatuated with men like Assad, Putin, Gaddafi and anybody else who was pilloried in the bourgeois press. Like the fraternity boys who kept posters of Ronald Reagan chopping wood on dorm room walls, her heart flutters for Vladimir Putin and anybody else who embodies her romantic idealization of men and women on horseback.

This would include Marine Le Pen, the ultraright Islamophobe that she described once as “basically on the left”. When people came out to protest Donald Trump’s viciously racist immigration crackdown, Johnstone described them with as much malice as Ann Coulter: “Whatever they think or feel, the largely youthful anti-Trump protesters in the streets create an image of hedonistic consumer society’s spoiled brats who throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want.”

Most people with their head screwed on right understand that Le Pen is a nativist just like all the other scum that are rising to the surface in Europe, from Viktor Orban in Hungary to Nigel Farage in England. In 2017, Johnstone decided that the real issue in the French election was national sovereignty and who better to defend it than Marine Le Pen? After all, Johnstone states that “Le Pen insists that all French citizens deserve equal treatment regardless of their origins, race or religion.” Oh, how nice. This politician said that if she was elected, she’d stop all immigration to France.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 9, 2018 at 5:36 pm

Fall out from Anti-Semitism and Barnet, from Morning Star to Conspiracy Site Skwawkbox .

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Owen Jones Talks Sense.

Hat-tip Jim D.

Letter in today’s Morning Star:

Before the idea takes root among Star readers that the Barnet Labour group of councillors is a nest of “hard-core of the Labour right” determined to “attack the left and their own party” (M Star May 5-6), I can assure anyone that is willing to listen that that is far from being the case.

On the electoral impact of perceptions of anti-Semitism, as on other issues, denouncing the messenger does not change the truth of the message. Group leader Cllr Barry Rawlings and ex-councillor Adam Langleben just told it as it is – the great majority of of Labour-inclined Jewish voters in Barnet are horrified at the national party’s response to incidents of anti-Semitism in the party and far too many have withdrawn their support, while Jewish Tories are far more certain to turn out against us.

And not voting for Jeremy Corbyn as leader does not put any of us in the “hardcore of the Labour right” or make us some sort of traitors to the party. Apparently the Star’s contributor Kevin Ovendon has belonged to more than one party opposed to Labour, unlike Jeremy Corbyn who, like me, has fought the party’s cause under a variety of national leaders.

Belatedly, Jeremy has acknowledged that we have to do better on anti-Semitism and, yes, it has been weaponised against him.

Weaponising issues is mainstream activity in politics. It is time that all the left recognised, as Momentum has done on this issue, that your opponents raising an issue does not imply in itself that the issue is fabricated or exaggerated.
GEOF COOKE
Chief Whip, Barnet Labour group and Morning Star reader.

Cooke is restrained.

Kevin Ovendon is the former bag-man for Gorge Galloway’s Respect party. He stood by when there were calls to make the organisation, “Zionist free” – to cite one of the many anti-Semitic incidents that marked the organisation’s career (Respect Party:Wikipedia)

This is what Ovendon wrote in the Morning Star.

The furore about “Labour anti-semitism” doubtless had an impact. How could it not? It is not only that it has been weaponised by the Tories. It has been adopted for two years by a hardcore of the Labour right to attack the left and their own party.

And that includes by Labour councillors in Barnet — all but two of whom backed rivals to Corbyn in the leadership elections. Far from helping to deal with the issue, they’ve taken up the claims emanating from the Tories.

So the leader of the Labour group Barry Rawlings says it all should have been dealt with two years ago, but it was the Labour general secretary supported by the right over those two years who failed to do so or to implement the comprehensive recommendations of the Chakrabarti report dealing with the matter.

Unsurprisingly, that has not stopped anti-Corbyn elements of the Labour Party, in collaboration with the Tories, trying to use the result not to seek the implementation of that report but to reheat the political assault.

Ovendon appears to think that concern on the issue of anti-Semitism is “weaponised” – he later talks of  “sabotage”.

What words does he have for the Morning Star’s opposition to Labour policy on Europe, its backing for Brexit, and its support for the Arron Banks funded Trade Unionists Against the EU?

More fall out has appeared in the shape of Skwawkbox.

Labour Has Betrayed Jewish Voters – Corbyn Must Take Action Now

Tonight I will ask that Corbyn comes to Barnet and apologises to the Jewish community.

Adam Langleben

Former Labour councillor for West Hendon

Chalutzim’ means ‘pioneers’ in Hebrew. Many of the early founders of the Labour Movement were Chalutzim from the mainstream Jewish community. That is why what happened last Thursday in the local elections is so distressing. It was the first complete electoral collapse of Jewish voters for Labour.

……

But some wish to paint a different picture. The alt-left blog Skwawkbox, which has a record of spreading fake news, claims that because Labour increased its share of the vote in Barnet and in Gateshead, there is no problem.

In response, and to his credit, John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, messaged me and asked for a meeting to discuss this issue and the wider issue of Labour antisemitism and its impact on Barnet. I am seeing him tonight and what I will be telling him is that fake news, conspiracy theory websites such as Skwawkbox provide a dark place for antisemitism to fester and be nurtured. Antisemitism’s dark past started with conspiracy, ending in gas chambers. History has taught us this. He and others should come out and say clearly that such websites are not part of our Labour movement’s discourse and that they are detrimental to our success and to our anti-racist, evidence-based Enlightenment values.

I look forward to talking to John. I am going to tell him hard truths: that there was rarely a canvass session over the past month in Barnet where we did not lose votes over antisemitism. And I am going to ask that he, Jeremy and the Shadow Cabinet come to Barnet as soon as possible to apologise to our activists and the Jewish community. The issues raised by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council remain outstanding. The Party can no longer hide behind process.

Huff Post.

Previously  Langleben had said in the Huff Post.

As I am filming this, an alternative left-wing news website called Skwawkbox is going through all of the tweets attacking me, as a Jewish Labour Party member, now former councillor, that accuses me of being a Mossad agent, that accuses me of trying to undermine the leadership, accuses me of all sort of things and it is propagating this bollocks, propagating anti-Semitism.”

He added: “The Labour leadership can do something very simple and easy and say that these alternative fake news websites do not speak for them.

This pouting does not seem to have impressed the Labour Party.

I was a Jewish Labour councillor in Barnet – and I warned Jeremy Corbyn what was coming.

 ADAM LANGLEBEN.

On the doorstep I heard lifelong Labour voters say anti-Semitism was driving them from the party. When I told Labour HQ, I was ignored.

We were asked about Jackie Walker’s views on Jews and the slave trade. We were asked about Ken Loach’s Jew-splaining. We were asked about Ken Livingstone’s Holocaust revisionism.

….

Ken Livingstone’s repeated outrageous ramblings on Zionism, Hitler, the Holocaust and Jews – and the party’s lack of action – compounds the situation. The more I think of his words, the more I hear implication of what he says – which is that Jews were complicit in their own genocide. Nothing is more offensive than that. Surely that cannot be compatible with membership of the Labour Party?

Since we lost in Barnet, our Labour candidates have had lots of support from MPs, Momentum supporters, members and others who are desperate to fight anti-Semitism. However, there is a small but very vocal hard-left group within the party – certainly not the majority even within Momentum – within which this sickness festers, and it is to these people that Jeremy Corbyn needs to clearly state: this is not in my name.

 

Here.

Some Political Background on Mark Wadsworth.

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Before beginning I wish to make it clear that I am completely opposed to the expulsion of Mark Wadsworth.

But this background has been the subject of intense discussion in recent days and should be more widely known rather than filtering through through other mediums.

How far this account is 100% accurate I do not know but I have some acquaintance with it – I was at the ANL (Anti Nazi league) demo cited below and had some contacts with the ARA  (Anti-Racist Alliance).

From: Ken and the rise of Socialist Action.

Andrew Hosken, Ken: The Ups and Downs of Ken Livingstone, Arcadia Books, 10 April 2008.

At the forefront of the campaign was the journalist and left-wing activist, Marc Wadsworth, who worked closely with John Ross to secure support for black sections from the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs. Ross promised to use his influence with the Campaign Group. ‘If the Campaign Group did not support black sections,’ wrote John Ross to Wadsworth in March 1986, ;this would lead to a problem between Socialist Action and the Campaign Group, not between Socialist Action and the black section. Support for the black section is a bedrock of politics’.[44] The Campaign Group did support Wadsworth[45] and despite Kinnock’s initial reluctance,[46] black sections under the umbrella of the Black Socialist Society were eventually recognised by the Labour Party in October 1990.[47]

In 1991, Marc Wadsworth set up the Anti-Racist Alliance, or ARA, an organisation which would be predominantly led by black people in the struggle against neo-Nazis and racism. The organisation acquired offices in Red Lion Square in Clerkenwell and soon secured the support of powerful trade unions like the Transport and General Workers Union. [48] Wadsworth approached John Ross for Socialist Action’s support for the new campaign. Wadsworth says: ‘I went way back with Socialist Action. Socialist Action not only supported the principle of self-organisation for black people’s campaigns but they also appeared at the time to support that much thornier issue of black leadership. We had white allies but we did it ourselves. Socialist Action appeared to us to be very good on principles very dear to our heart.’

Ross suggested appointing Ken Livingstone, as co-chairman of the ARA, a titular position only, leaving the bulk of the work with co-chair Leela Ramdeen. Eventually, approximately seven Socialist Action members were put on the executive committee, including some who later became Livingstone’s mayoral advisors.

The establishment of the ARA acted as a ‘provocation’ for Socialist Action’s main rivals on the Trotskyist far left, the ‘Socialist Workers Party, or SWP, which then decided to resurrect its own dormant anti-racism organisation, the Anti-Nazi League, or ANL. These two anti-racism organisations and the causes they espoused now became proxy warriors for two Trotskyist organisations – the SWP and Socialist Action – fighting to control this important campaign. Ken Livingstone went to extraordinary lengths to help join Socialist Action in its sectarian scraps with its main rival.

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The SWP/SA race war rapidly forced itself on the attention of the Socialist Campaign Group of hard left Labour MPs who had always strived to make links with their fellow travellers on the Left outside the PLP and were often perplexed by their uncomradely feuds. Tony Benn’s diaries make it clear that the spat was already an issue in early 1992. On 15 January 1992, Benn wrote that there had been a ‘flaming row between those who support the Anti-Nazi League in its recreated form’ and the Anti-Racist Alliance ‘supported by Ken Livingstone and the Black Sections’ adding: ‘It is absolutely absurd that there should be these arguments between anti-racist organizations. It is left-wing politics at its most ludicrous.’ [49]

At the annual general meeting of the Campaign Group a fortnight later, another row broke out between Bernie Grant, the black MP for Tottenham who supported the ANL, and Ken Livingstone when Wadsworth attempted to distribute an ARA leaflet. Grant tried to prevent distribution, at which point Livingstone stood up to leave saying, ‘I am leaving if this behaviour continues… This is how Kinnock behaves. We have always been allowed to distribute literature.’ Benn observed, the ‘boiling hatred’ between the two groups, describing it as ‘so crazy’.[50] It perhaps was not that crazy when you realise the increasing importance that Trots placed on anti-racism politics. During the early 1980s, black people had been predominant among those rioting in Brixton, Toxteth and Bristol. Here was a large group of people possibly in need of leadership who really understood oppression and injustice.

The ARA highlighted what it claimed to be a rapid increase in the number of racially motivated attacks in Britain, from 4,383 in 1988 to 7,780 three years later. [51] But within two years the ARA would be destroyed in a nasty internal battle over campaigning strategy between Ken Livingstone and Socialist Action on one side and Marc Wadsworth and his supporters on the other. The trigger was the most infamous racial murder since the war.

The murder of Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old black student, by a gang of white racists on 22 April 1993 was a shocking and seminal event. He was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack near a bus stop in Well Hall Road near Shooter’s Hill in southeast London. It later led to an inquiry by the judge Sir William Macpherson who strongly criticised the failure of detectives to bring the killers to justice and condemned ‘institutionalised racism’ within the Metropolitan Police. [52]

Marc Wadsworth, as national secretary of the ARA, contacted Stephen’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, and played a significant role in bringing the tragedy to public attention. According to one BBC commentator later: Wadsworth was determined to present the Stephen Lawrence case differently, and to break through the indifference of the tabloid press towards black victims of racism’. Wadsworth highlighted the fact that Lawrence wanted to be an architect and that he had been law abiding, diligent and respectful. ‘We were saying to white society: “Stephen Lawrence was like you.” [53] Few people thought .it a coincidence that the bookshop-cum-headquarters of the far right British National Party were in Welling, not far from where Lawrence died.

Wadsworth says he came under increased pressure from the Socialist Action contingent to use the Lawrence couple more aggressively in the ARA campaigns: ‘They wanted complete control and the problem was how they were going to move that campaign along. Their primary aim was their sectarian battle with the SWP. They wanted to use the Lawrence campaign to trump the Anti-Nazi League.'[54] He says he told Socialist Action: ‘We’ve got to have a much more softly-softly approach to this couple. They’re not a pushover; not that I would want them to be. I’m black myself and a parent. You can’t just use them as pawns.’

Racial tensions increased during 1993 and culminated on 17 September 1993 in the shock victory of the British National Party a by-election cor- Millwall, a seat on Tower Hamlets Council in east London. The flash point came in October 1993 when the ANL and the ARA held rival protests on the same day. Wadsworth’s ‘crime’ was to organise a peaceful anti-racist demo of 3,500 people for 16 October 1993 in central London after police consultation while 12 miles away up to 15,000 people attended a violent ANL demo at the BNP’s bookshop. To make matters worse, Doreen Lawrence attended part of the ANL protest. [55]

It is clear that the Lawrence parents were becoming increasingly confused about being caught in the crossfire between the two groups. They had come to realise that the ANL was a ‘front for the Socialist Workers Party’. Writing later, Doreen Lawrence said,’… the various groups that had taken an interest in Stephen’s death were tearing each other apart and were in danger of destroying our campaign which we wanted to keep focused and dignified.'[56] In the end, Doreen and Neville Lawrence wrote to both the ANL and ARA to demand that they ‘stop using Stephen’s name’.[57]

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Wadsworth claims that Ken Livingstone and Socialist Action now colluded to get rid of him because he would not do what they wanted, ‘Socialist Action thought they could impose decisions on me including how we focused on the Stephen Lawrence campaign,’ says Wadsworth. ‘When I refused to go along with that they said, OK we’re going to get rid of you.’ Through late 1993 and early 1994, the ARA deteriorated rapidly.

A former Socialist Action member of the ARA insists Wadsworth’s strategy was wrong, both in terms of the Lawrence campaign and towards the BNP by-election victory in the East End: “The correct response was to have a demo in the East End and Marc didn’t want to do that so he was increasingly separating himself out from the most important issues that were going on in racism in order to pursue his own things.’ [58] On 17 March 1994, Livingstone chaired a meeting of the ARA executive. [59] During the four-hour ‘rowdy meeting’ in a House of Commons office, Wadsworth threw a punch at Livingstone. He says: ‘It was at one of these crazy meetings where he was making these rulings and telling me to shut up that I launched at him. I didn’t actually hit him. I hit his hand. I was going to hit him. This had gone on for months and he treated me like a boy sitting next to him.’ [60] At another meeting, on 30 March 1994, Livingstone and the Socialist Action contingent failed by only one vote to persuade the executive to dismiss Wadsworth on grounds of professional misconduct. [61]

The infighting continued for another six months as Livingstone and Socialist Action attempted to wrest control from Wadsworth. On 23 September 1994, the Anti-Racist Alliance issued the foil towing statement: ‘Ken Livingstone, supported by a faction called Socialist Action and a handful of unprincipled and unrepresentative members of the executive committee, has been waging relentless campaign to sack the national secretary. This behaviour is undemocratic and has led to unnecessary divisions in the ARA which the chair has made even worse by his repealed attacks on national office staff.’ [62]

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‘When they come for you they are incessant and they are like pit bulls,’ Wadsworth says of Socialist Action. ‘It’s just incessant obsessive politicking.’

On 30 September 1994, Livingstone went to the High Court to determine voting rights for the delegates to the ARA’s forthcoming annual meeting and an out-of-court settlement was reached. At the meeting on 15 October 1994, both Livingstone and Wadsworth stepped down; Wadsworth gave way to Kumar Murshid, a future Livingstone mayoral advisor on race but not a member of Socialist Action. Murshid walked away from the job after turning up at the ARA offices to find that Wadsworth had changed the locks. ARA collapsed rapidly after unions including the Transport and General Workers Union withdrew support. By February 1995, the National Assembly Against Racism, or NAAR, had been established largely by Socialist Action members, namely Redmond O’Neill, Jude Woodward and Anne Kane. [63] Former member Atma Singh says that Socialist Action was so used to splits and sectarianism that ‘breaking one organisation and creating a new one is nothing dramatic for them’. [64] Lee Jasper, who became Livingstone’s senior mayoral policy advisor on equalities, was its first secretary. He had also been one of the few non-Socialist Action opponents of Wadsworth on the ARA.

Today, the NAAR is one of Britain’s biggest anti-racism groups with several subsidiary organisations, all supported strongly by Mayor Livingstone. Members of Socialist Action would continue to work closely with Livingstone throughout the 1990s. But they would come into their own when Livingstone became the first directly-elected mayor of London.

Giles Fraser, former Guardian Columnist and Present Priest of St Mary’s, Newington, Touts for Assad in Syria.

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Giles Fraser, Vicar, former Guardian Columnist Touts for Assad.

Hat-Tip JP.

This will remind many people of the kind of criminal lies and delusions spread by the fellow travellers of Stalin.

As in  David CauteFellow-Travellers: A Postscript to the Enlightenment,  1973 (revised edition, as The Fellow-Travellers: Intellectual Friends of Communism,  1988.)

He is not alone:  London Times articles about Assadist university professors  Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist)

Fraser has a more recent history of deluded apologies for murder.

2016:

Giles Fraser (Guardian) attacks Charlie Hebdo.

Zineb El Rhazoui, formerly of Charlie Hebdo, “white atheist sneering at non-white believers” says Giles Fraser. 

Giles Fraser is a columnist for the Guardian.

In his spare time he is  parish priest at St Mary’s, Newington.

Giles Fraser does not like French secularism.

He devotes most of his energy to unmasking Republican France’s  “foundation myth”, the “glorious triumph of atheistic rationality over the dangerous totalitarian obscurantism of the Catholic church.” (France’s much vaunted secularism is not the neutral space it claims to be)

During his morning bath Fraser thinks of the Vendée and the Drownings at Nantes (Noyades de Nantes) of refractory clergy.

A walk on the beach sends him musing on the ‘Burkini’.

Passing by a Stationer’s  the Priest considers the shadow of the secularist Guillotine.

It goes without saying that he did and does not like Charlie Hebdo, modern Atheist “Iconoclasts

It is with little surprise that we find that Fraser now manages to drag Charlie into this debate: “Kelvin MacKenzie has been cleared by Ipso over his column on the Channel 4 News presenter. What message does that ruling send?” (Is it ‘open season’ on Muslims, as Fatima Manji suggests? Our panel responds.)

 Fraser comments,

Defending freedom of speech is one thing, but freedom of speech is brought into massive disrepute when it becomes a moral alibi for white atheists to sneer at non-white believers, and Muslims in particular. It was exactly the same with Charlie Hebdo – they hid their racism behind that all-purpose moral pass, freedom of speech. But at least they were equal opportunity offenders – they had a pop at all-comers: Jews, Christians, Muslims.

Racism?

Is Charlie a group of ‘white atheists’?

You mean that anybody criticising Islam gives an “alibi” to ‘racists”?

That Charlie “hid” its racism?

As in the case of this much loved comrade….

Zineb el Rhazoui, Charlie Hebdo survivor, discusses why the world needs to ‘Destroy Islamic Fascism’ (New York Times 18.10.16.)

Undeterred by fatwas and death threats, the author has released an incendiary and thoughtful new book, bound to provoke debate.

She leads a clandestine existence, on the move and under 24-hour guard as France’s most protected woman. Yet Zineb El Rhazoui, the Charlie Hebdo journalist who happened to be in Casablanca on January 7 last year, the day terrorists “avenging the Prophet” massacred nine people at the satirical magazine in Paris, believes she has a duty to defy Islamists desperate to silence her.

Shaken but undeterred by the fatwas and relentless, precise death threats issued via social media to “kill the bitch” since she helped produce the publication’s first survivors’ issue following the attack — and spoke about it in Arabic for the Arab press — the Moroccan-French writer refuses to assume an anonymous identity. Fleeing Paris or abandoning her human rights activism, and her unforgiving critiques of the religion she grew up with, are also out of the question.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 16, 2018 at 11:07 am

Gilad Atzmon, Anti-Semitism and the Left.

with 12 comments

 

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Former star at SWP and Respect events. 

Near the end of of one his humorous articles for the ‘I’ Mark Steel yesterday made this serious point (Who knew Jeremy Corbyn’s antisemitic beetroot would cause such anger at the Daily Mail?)

Parts of the left promoted the jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, who stated we should “take seriously” the idea that “Jews are trying to take over the world”. To be fair to him, constructing an argument that the race trying to take over the world is the one that came nearest to being systematically wiped out, is setting yourself quite a task, especially if you try to do it as a solo on the saxophone.

Indeed they did.

Which parts?

Gilad Atzmon and the SWP: a brief chronology

Bob from Brockley. 

Summer 2004: Gilad Atzmon speaks and performs at the Socialist Workers Party’s Marxism 2004 event. Atzmon criticised by SWP blogger Richard Seymour as “disgraceful, incoherent and completely at odds with what the SWP stands for” and a “crank”.

April 2005: Atzmon rave review in Socialist Review by Brian Richardson, announcing forthcoming gig at Marxism event.

Summer 2005: The SWP’s Socialist Review has a rave review of Atzmon’s Orient House ensemble tour (only note of criticism is that he likes Ken Livingstone too much), and Atzmon plays Marxism 2005 as well as speaking at Bookmarks. Jews Against Zionism picket the Bookmarks event. JAZ are not by any means an oversensitive pro-Israel group, but made up of left-wing people like Tony Greenstein, Moshe Machover and Hilary Rose. Leading left-wing anti-Zionist website Labournet plays major role in this. SWP responds with a statement that refuses to accept any truth in the allegations.

2006: SWP organises “Five for Trane” concerts featuring Atzmon and the SWP’s Martin Smith. At least six gigs (MarchJuneOctoberetcetc).

Autumn 2006: Atzmon speaks and plays alongside George Galloway (then in alliance with the SWP in Respect) and Martin Smith at an SWP-organised Stop the War event in Tower Hamlets. (The SWP boasted it was a successful fund-raiser for them, and Smith interviewed Atzmon for Socialist Worker. Atzmon told Smith “I will be playing at the Cultures of Resistance concert because I support the Socialist Worker appeal… “For me to play jazz is to fight the BOB (Bush, Olmert and Blair) world order.”)

January 2007: Michael Rosen, a high profile Jewish anti-Zionist very close to the SWP, criticises SWP for hosting Atzmon. Organisers of the SWP’s Cultures of Resistance (Hannah Dee, a current SWP CC member, and Viv Smith, a former CC member) deny he is an antisemite (archived). Evidence? “We would never give a platform to a racist or fascist. Our entire history has been one of fierce opposition to fascist organisations and antisemitism.” Therefore impossible that Atzmon could be a racist, because he was invited to our event.

Summer 2007: Atzmon plays Cultures of Resistance gig at Marxism 2007, and reprises the Martin Smith collaboration in Liverpool, and later Pete Segal in Socialist Review gives another rave review of his CD Refuge, with no note of criticism or mention of Rosen’s letter.

Autumn/Winter 2007: Atzmon plays an SWP fund-raiser, Now’s the Timer, with Martin Smith. Four gigs. Positive reviews (“Politics continues to drive Atzmon’s music forward”) of his records in Socialist Worker. Martin Smith also mentions him in another Socialist Review article.

January 2008: Atzmon now an explicit Holocaust denier, as revealed by Tony Greenstein and others, eliciting no comment from the SWP, despite their close association with him.

May 2008: Socialist Review again promotes Atzmon, listing him in their “Five things to get or see this month”

April 2009: Another Socialist Review rave review of an Atzmon CD, In Loving Memory Of America, again no note of criticism.

October 2010: SWP promotes the Jazza Festival, featuring Atzmon and several Atzmon-linked groups.

November 2010: No trace left on any SWP website of their earlier statements and clarifications about Atzmon.

Summer-Autumn 2011: Richard Seymour’s publisher, Zero, publishes an antisemitic book by Atzmon. Seymour and other authors issue statement against the publication, published on Seymour’s blog.

 

The American Socialist Worker (No relation!) published this in 2014.

A pass for anti-Semitism?

The career of Gilad Atzmon is an instructive case. Atzmon is an Israeli-born Jew and musician turned Palestine activist. His writings on Zionism contain venomous attacks on Jews, including the argument that Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians are not a product of imperialism but represent something wrong with Jews. Atzmon calls the accusation of anti-Semitism “a common Zionist silencing apparatus.”

In spite of this, a number of Left institutions have excused or rationalized Atzmon’s bile. For a few years, Atzmon regularly performed at the British Socialist Workers Party’s annual conference, before he was quietly dropped without an explanation or apology from the SWP’s leadership. Atzmon’s writings still appear in Counterpunch, perhaps the most widely read online publication on the American left. Finally, Zero Books, a British publisher that has published authors like Richard Seymour and Laurie Penny, published a treatise on Jewish identity by Atzmon which is still available through their website.

Another example is “leftist” academic James Petras, whose articles on Jewish control of the media and government still appear on Dissident Voice and in Counterpunch. A single pass for someone like Atzmon or Petras is a case of bad judgment. Multiple passes represent a pattern of unwillingness or inability by the left to address anti-Semitism.

Instead of an instinct to show solidarity with Jews, the pro-Palestine left has developed an instinctive skepticism towards reports of anti-Semitism, which makes the movement more open to real Jew-haters.

Weekly Worker 2008.

Time to say goodbye

Why does the SWP not break its links with holocaust-denier Gilad Atzmon? Tony Greenstein has more evidence of his anti-Jewish racism

 George Galloway was (and as far one can tell, is) another supporter of Atzmon.

Image result for atzmon George Galloway

We shall leave it to others to remark on Greenstein appearing on the same Galloway platform.

Here are some of Atzmon’s latest views.

How Antisemitsm Became Noise

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2018 at 1:06 pm