Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Islamism

Conspiracy theorists, Sarah Abdallah and Syria.

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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.

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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:

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 19, 2018 at 11:57 am

Oppose the Attacks on Syria, Oppose Marching with Assad Supporters.

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Can the left March with Assad Supporters?

Then there is the latest tweet from this:

 

Iran, the other prop of Assad with Putin, is a theocratic Islamist dictatorship with a  blood-stained record.

Its own militias (Islamic Revolutionary Guard CorpsQods For) and Lebanese allies, Hezbollah, are fighting for their own religious and political interests.

Or daily papers of the left (Morning Star)  that publish this:

Russia claims it has ‘irrefutable’ evidence chemical attack was staged by foreign intelligence.

MOSCOW claimed today to have “irrefutable” evidence that an alleged chemical attack in Syria was staged by foreign intelligence agents pursuing a “Russophobic campaign.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference that an unnamed country was leading a campaign against Russia.

“We have irrefutable evidence that it was another staging and the special services of a state which is in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had a hand in the staging,” he said.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov accused Britain of staging the attack.

“We have … evidence that proves Britain was directly involved in organising this provocation,” he said.

Mr Lavrov warned that a strike against Syria risked a similar outcome to previous wars in Libya and Iraq.

Not to mention this a few days earlier.

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Christine Shawcroft quits over anti-Semitism case. What is anti-Semitism in the UK Today?

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Christine Shawcroft

Shawcroft: Facing Calls to Step Down from the NEC.

Christine Shawcroft resigns and becomes the first casualty of Labour’s new civil war. Stephen Bush.

Shawcroft is facing calls to step down early from the NEC, from Richard Angell, the director of the Corbynsceptic pressure group Progress, and Jennifer Gerber, head of the Labour Friends of Israel. She will be loath to do so as that would mean giving a position on the NEC to Eddie Izzard, who ran on the Corbynsceptic slate, but ultimately even if she is forced to stand down, it will make little difference to the balance of power on the NEC.

More important, though, is what it means for the composition of the vital NEC officers group, which among its wide powers has a vital role to play in selections, particularly selections in parliamentary by-elections. Shawcroft’s role as chair of the disputes panel gave her a seat around the NEC officers table, and although there is a “left” majority in the NEC officers, that is not the same as a majority for the Labour leadership and is different again from a “Momentum majority”. Shawcroft was the only true-blue Momentum representative on that group, with the major power brokers the representatives of three of Labour’s biggest trade unions: Unite, Unison, and the GMB.  Shawcroft’s departure may mean that the Momentumites find themselves shut out should a parliamentary seat fall vacant over the next few months.

That will put further pressure on intra-left relations in the Labour party. Shawcroft’s email was only sent to fellow members of the Labour left, and Jeremy Corbyn’s office had already backed sanctioning Bull. The leak, as well as doing further damage to Shawcroft’s reputation, comes at a time when the Labour leadership is under renewed pressure over the party’s failure to deal robustly with anti-Semitism in its ranks. That such unhelpful leaks are coming “from inside the house” as one senior Corbynite put it to me tonight, is a sign that while the Labour left may have won the civil war with the party’s right, its own internal battle may only just be beginning.

John McDonnell says Labour antisemitism will now be eradicated

McDonnell said: “We woke up to it two years ago when it was pointed out to us, we launched the Chakrabarti report, they [its recommendations] have not been implemented effectively. We have now brought in a new general secretary, they will be implemented.”

McDonnell added: “We will deal with it firmly and severely. We will not accept it, Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear. We are now meeting with the various representative groups of the community. We will be taking their advice, they will assist us in rooting out this problem and we will eradicate it from our party.”

Labour’s Disciplinary Chief Christine Shawcroft Quits Amid ‘Holocaust Denial’ Row

Shawcroft said she was “wrong and misguided” to have sent an email calling for Alan Bull to have his suspension lifted as she had not been aware of all the information in the case.

According to the Press Association, Shawcroft said: “I sent this email before being aware of the full information about this case and I had not been shown the image of his abhorrent Facebook post. Had I seen this image, I would not have requested that the decision to suspend him be re-considered. I am deeply sorry for having done so.

“This week we have seen a clear expression of the pain and hurt that has been caused to Jewish members of our party and the wider Jewish community by anti-Semitic abuse and language, and by the reality of anti-Semitism being denied and downplayed by others. In light of this, I have decided to stand down as Chair of the Disputes Panel to ensure my wrong and misguided questions on this case do not cause doubt or anxiety about our processes.

“We must eliminate anti-Semitism from our party and wider society. To do this we must make sure our processes are as robust as possible and have the faith and confidence of our members.”

Over a quarter of British people ‘hold anti-Semitic attitudes’, study finds.

BBC. September 2017.

More than a quarter of British people hold at least one anti-Semitic view, according to a study of attitudes to Jewish people.

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) said the finding came from the largest and most detailed survey of attitudes towards Jews and Israel ever conducted in Britain.

But it said the study did not mean that British people were anti-Semitic.

Researchers also found a correlation in anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes.

The study found a relatively small number of British adults – 2.4% – expressed multiple anti-Semitic attitudes “readily and confidently”.

But when questioned about whether they agreed with a number of statements, including “Jews think they are better than other people”, and “Jews exploit holocaust victimhood for their own purposes”, 30% agreed with at least one statement.

Despite this, the researchers said they found that levels of anti-Semitism in Great Britain were among the lowest in the world.

The report said about 70% of the population of Britain had a favourable opinion of Jews and did not hold any anti-Semitic ideas or views.

Muslim views

The JPR’s researchers questioned 5,466 people face-to-face and online in the winter of 2016/17 – 995 of these were Muslims, although a smaller number of Muslims were included in the statisticians’ nationally representative sample.

They found more than half of Muslims (55%) held at least one anti-Semitic attitude.

Dr Jonathan Boyd, director of the JPR, said: “Our intention here was not to make any broad generalisations about the Muslim population and their attitudes towards Jews.

There does seem to be some relationship between levels of religiosity in the Muslim population and anti-Semitism.”

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The researchers also questioned people about their views on statements about Israel and the conflict with the Palestinians.

Their report said fewer than one in five people questioned (17%) had a favourable opinion of Israel, whereas about one in three (33%) held an unfavourable view.

The report said: “The position of the British population towards Israel can be characterised as one of uncertainty or indifference, but among those who hold a view, people with sympathies towards the Palestinians are numerically dominant.”

Dr Boyd said: “Anti-Israel and anti-Jewish views exist both together and in isolation.

“The higher the level of anti-Israel attitudes measured, the more likely they are to hold anti-Semitic views as well.”

The study also revealed that anti-Semitic attitudes were higher than normal among people who classified their politics as “very right-wing”.

Among this group they were two to four times higher than among the general population.

The researchers said the prevalence was considerably higher among right-wingers than on the left.

So there are two groups, those who are “very right wing” and some Muslims who are a particular problem.

Contemporary anti-semitism cannot be reduced to these categories, as some of the “conspi” themes of the far-right have crept into a fringe of the left.

The classic far-right is well known and their anti-Jewish racism is part of a wider set of prejudices, against black people,  Muslims, and against all foreigners

But this is also important to look at the issue of Islamist anti-Semitism, both classically religious and in its modern Salifist and Jihadist forms.

The following caused controversy in  April 2016.

C4 survey and documentary reveals What British Muslims Really Think

Between April and June 2015, polling company ICM undertook research on the views of British Muslims for Channel 4 and Juniper Television, including polling of British Muslims on their attitudes towards Jews and antisemitism.

44%

of British Muslims think Jews have too much power in the business world

90%

of British Muslims do not know how many Jews died in the Holocaust

26%

of British Muslims think antisemitism is a problem, compared to 46% of the general British population.

The below is a critique of these findings.

Trevor Phillips’ research on British Muslims is dangerous and wrong. No wonder Islamophobia is on the rise.

Channel 4 irresponsibly released its deeply flawed study. To claim, without sufficient evidence, that British Muslims are a separate “nation within a nation” – that they are not, or do not perceive themselves to be British – is to suggest that Islam and the West are at odds.

This is not to deny legitimate concern about extreme levels of social conservatism, anti-Semitism or alienation from mainstream society within some western Muslim communities. But the consistent misrepresentation of European and North American Muslims is likely to increase a worrying trust deficit and the “clash of civilisations” that Isis and right-wing xenophobes are keen to promote.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 29, 2018 at 12:30 pm

As Jewish Board of Deputies Protests, Labour, the Left, Jeremy Corbyn and Anti-Semitism.

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Jewish groups attack Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism

BBC.

“Enough is enough,” Jewish groups have said in a letter accusing Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism.

The Labour leader has said he is “sincerely sorry” for the pain caused by “pockets of anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party.

Mr Corbyn said he would be meeting representatives of the Jewish community to “rebuild” confidence in his party.

However, the organisations behind the open letter are planning a protest outside Parliament later.

The letter – drawn up by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council – said there has been a “repeated institutional failure” to properly address anti-Semitism. (1)

It accuses Mr Corbyn of being unable to “seriously contemplate anti-Semitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities”.

The organisations refer to Mr Corbyn’s apparently supportive message to the creator of an allegedly anti-Semitic mural in 2012 and his attendance at “pro-Hezbollah rallies”.

They say the Labour leader has “sided with anti-Semites” either because of “the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism” or “a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy”.

The letter says those who push anti-Semitic material view Mr Corbyn as “their figurehead” and that he is “the only person with the standing to demand that all of this stops.”

Response.

Labour is an anti-racist party and I utterly condemn antisemitism, which is why as leader of the Labour Party I want to be clear that I will not tolerate any form of antisemitism that exists in and around our movement. We must stamp this out from our party and movement.

We recognise that antisemitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour Party and the rest of the country. I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused.

Our party has deep roots in the Jewish community and is actively engaged with Jewish organisations across the country.

We are campaigning to increase support and confidence in Labour among Jewish people in the UK. I know that to do so, we must demonstrate our total commitment to excising pockets of antisemitism that exist in and around our party.

I will be meeting representatives from the Jewish community over the coming days, weeks and months to rebuild that confidence in Labour as a party which gives effective voice to Jewish concerns and is implacably opposed to antisemitism in all its forms. Labour will work to unite communities to achieve social justice in our society.

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Oppose antisemitism and malicious accusations by supporters of the Tory Party

Jewish Socialists’ Group statement

The Jewish Socialists’ Group expresses its serious concern at the rise of antisemitism, especially under extreme right wing governments in central and Eastern Europe, in America under Donald Trump’s Presidency and here in Britain under Theresa May’s premiership. The recent extensive survey by the highly respected Jewish Policy Research confirmed that the main repository of antisemitic views in Britain is among supporters of the Conservative Party and UKIP.

This political context, alongside declining support for the Tories, reveals the malicious intent behind the the latest flimsy accusations of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. These accusations have come from the unrepresentative Board of Deputies and the unelected, self-proclaimed “Jewish Leadership Council”, two bodies dominated by supporters of the Tory Party.

Between now and the local elections the Tories would love to divert the electorate on to accusations of antisemitism against the Labour Party rather than have us discussing austerity, cuts to local authority budgets, the health service, and social care. Many Jews within and beyond the Labour Party are suffering from these policies along with the rest of the population, and oppose them vehemently.

Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies, was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election as President of the United States on behalf of the Board. This action was harshly criticised by many Jews he claims that the Board represents. He also gives unqualified support to Israel’s pro-settler Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who enjoys good relations with the very far right political forces in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic who are fanning bigotry against minorities, including Jews.

Until very recently the Jewish Leadership Council was chaired by Sir Mick Davies, who was appointed Tory Party treasurer in February 2016 and is now the Chief Executive of the Conservative Party.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group includes many members of the Labour party, and we know many Jews who have joined or re-joined the Labour party enthused by the progressive leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour is the party that brought in anti-discrimination legislation at a time when many Tory members were open supporters of and investors in apartheid South Africa. The Tories are the party that have dished out the harshest treatment to migrants and refugees, especially when Theresa May was Home Secretary. Shamefully, they are still refusing to accede to the proposal of Labour peer, Lord Dubs, who came to Britain as a Jewish refugee on the Kindertransport, to take in a small but significant number of unaccompanied child refugees from Syria.

We have worked alongside Jeremy Corbyn in campaigns against all forms of racism and bigotry, including antisemitism, for many years, and we have faith that a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn and Labour-led councils across the country, will be best placed to implement serious measures against all forms of racism, discrimination and bigotry.

Some of us have long-standing views on the issues raised in this controversy.

For many on the left, including groups on the ‘far left’ there is a problem with anti-Semitism in today’s Britain and the rest of Europe.

That we consider that some parts of the more vocal left (notably those groups that run the Stop the War Coalition) in the name of ‘anti-imperialism, misunderstand the issues to the extent that they show a tolerance towards anti Semitism.

A stark example was given by the present Labour Executive Director of Strategy and Communications  Seumus Milne’s reaction to the Charlie Hebdo and the  Hypercacher massacre in 2015: The attacks in France are a blowback from intervention in the Arab and Muslim world. (Guardian January 2015)

Milne threw a few words around about nothing justifies the murders – except that it can be explained in the context of Charlie’s  ” repeated pornographic humiliation” of the ‘Prophet”.

He then went on to claim an insight into the origins of the killings, which singled out not just Charlie Hebdo but a Jewish supermarket.

“Of course, the cocktail of causes and motivations for the attacks are complex: from an inheritance of savage colonial brutality in Algeria via poverty, racism, criminality and takfiri jihadist ideology.

He concluded,

But without the war waged by western powers, including France, to bring to heel and reoccupy the Arab and Muslim world, last week’s attacks clearly wouldn’t have taken place.” 

Labour’s present head of spin not only ignored any moral responsibility in the killers themselves but failed to ask why “Amedy Coulibaly singled out a Jewish supermarket and  murdered four Jewish hostages, and held fifteen other hostages during a siege in which he demanded that the Kouachi (the gunmen in the Charlie attack) brothers not be harmed. The police ended the siege by storming the store and killing Coulibaly.”

Apart from this ‘anti-imperialism’ there is also the growth of “confusionist” politics, represented in the infamous Tower Hamlets Mural, which align anti-globalisation themes, classical hatred of Jews with conspiracy ideology on the New World Order.

Harry’s Place indicates one case today,

Antisemitism, homophobia and the NUS’s National Executive Council

Ayo quite proudly asks people to call him a ‘conspiracy theorist’ as he shares an antisemitic video about the “Rothschild’s master plan”. The video he shares goes on to talk about how the Rothschild’s run every central bank in the world (apart from North Korea, Iran and Cuba). It discusses how the Rothschild’s manipulate countries to go to war for them as they have an “unlimited amount of money and power”. The video suggests 9/11 was an inside job, carried out in order for the Rothschild’s to gain control of Afghanistan’s and Iraq’s banks. The video is quite simply a piece of antisemitic propaganda. Ayo tells people to “do a little research on this” – we did. Google “Rothschild’s master plan” and you will get taken into a world of antisemitic conspiracies, much coming from far-right, neo-nazi sites and forums.

It is true that limited parts of the left, and wider society, reflect these prejudices.

But to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of anti-semitism, as some in the Jewish community and commentators in the press are now doing (most openly on social media) is not only false, but beneath contempt.

Phil puts many related points in this post today.

Corbynism and Anti-SemitismPhil Burton-Cartledge

Unfortunately anti-semitism has yet again resurfaced and as everyone reading this knows, this time it’s Jeremy Corbyn who’s in the firing line for failing to notice the image above, which he commented on, was racist. In the world of social media there is a tendency to shoot from the hip without looking properly at what or who you’re commenting on/sharing. It’s happened to me enough times when posts shared on Facebook have been construed as supporting the Tories because of the titles (as such I was expecting some earache for Friday’s effort). And I’m happy to accept that Jeremy’s explanation that he wasn’t paying attention. After all, over the course of his career he has put his name to eight Early Day Motions attacking anti-semitism, and under his leadership Labour has adopted a line far harsher on anti-semitism than any of his predecessors. And still, this happened.

While the Labour Party does not have an anti-semitism problem distinct from the anti-semitism problem of society as a whole, unfortunately a section of the left does, particularly those that have historically prioritised anti-war and Palestine solidarity activity. We’re not talking conscious Jew hate a la neo-Nazis and assorted fash riff-raff, though some on the fringes of anti-war work order their conspiracy theorising with a side of anti-semitism, but rather a certain carelessness which, persistent and unchecked, amounts to anti-semitic behaviour. Cast your eyes over the Socialist Workers Party, for example. Previously the key organising force of Stop the War, Respect, and ‘official’ anti-fascism as per Unite Against Fascism, when it came to matters anti-war they tended to put a plus wherever the British establishment put a minus. They weren’t hard “defencists” (i.e. calling for the defeat of one’s own military and victory to whoever they are fighting), but in practice this meant tolerating far right Serbs on the small marches against the war in Kosovo, ditto with Islamic fundamentalists in the anti-war movement and, in the case of notorious anti-semite Gilad Atzmon, not just rubbing shoulders with but actively sponsoring his events. The SWP has a history of turning a blind eye to such characters. Sometimes this was for expediency’s sake, such as not wanting to threaten the “united front” of whatever bandwagon they’re riding at that moment. For others it’s because they are of some use. Atzmon was so promoted because a now disgraced former leading member was really into jazz.

The SWP have diminished influence these days, but their attitude to problem people is typical. For them, overlooking the foibles of allies could be justified in terms of their lust for the big time, which was always one more demo, strike, and paper sale away. For others not so invested in sect building, making episodic common cause with people who shouldn’t be touched with a barge pole was simply a fact of life of doing left-wing politics: you work with what you’ve got. Up until the sudden change of fortunes occasioned by the 2015 Labour leadership contest, self-described leftists were a small and dwindling bunch. The likes of Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, both of whom are prophylactics for socialist politics, were tolerated because there wasn’t exactly a massive pool of activists to draw upon. And it had been this way for a long time, so turning a blind eye was in many cases a condition of getting things done. Which also meant “left” anti-semitism wasn’t taken seriously – a culture of sensitivity was absent.

..

What should be done then? The party is now institutionally anti-anti-semitic, but there remains a persistent and stubborn layer of members who either believe there is no issue, don’t think it’s worth talking about, or is entirely a weapon used against the leadership by the usual suspects. Clearly, there is much political education to be done. I don’t mean every branch and CLP hosting its own diversity training or whatever, but rather a left declaration of war against anti-semitism specifically and the kind of thinking – conspiracy thinking – that incubates it and, in turn, finds a ready audience among large sections of Corbyn’s online support. As a rule, the so-called alt-left media sites are dismal failures in this regard and, indeed, stoke the fires of click bait conspiranoia. This has to be opposed by materialist analysis, of understanding the world as it is so we can make the world what we want it to be. This takes a concerted effort at building an intellectual culture that encourages comrades to think critically for themselves, and treat with extreme prejudice any and all explanations that place social ills, however they’re defined, at the feet of secret cabals working away in the shadows. Then, perhaps, the culture of carelessness can be overcome and “left” anti-semitism goes back to being what it should be: an oxymoron.

I do not think Corbyn is personally antisemitic, but it is evident that he has difficulty recognising that the problem takes a specific form on the left and the “anti imperialist” milieu. This stems from his own lack of political sophistication, his background in crude New Left “anti imperialism” and (possibly) with the fact that Stalinists are influential in his inner circle. Corbyn’s difficulty in recognising the problem is, sadly, typical of significant sections of the left.

What lies behind Corbyn’s difficulties with “left-wing antisemitism”?

(1) Full Text of Letter.

Today, leaders of British Jewry tell Jeremy Corbyn that enough is enough. We have had enough of hearing that Jeremy Corbyn “opposes antisemitism”, whilst the mainstream majority of British Jews, and their concerns, are ignored by him and those he leads. There is a repeated institutional failure to properly address Jewish concerns and to tackle antisemitism, with the Chakrabarti Report being the most glaring example of this.

Jeremy Corbyn did not invent this form of politics, but he has had a lifetime within it, and now personifies its problems and dangers. He issues empty statements about opposing antisemitism, but does nothing to understand or address it. We conclude that he cannot seriously contemplate antisemitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities.

When Jews complain about an obviously antisemitic mural in Tower Hamlets, Corbyn of course supports the artist. Hizbollah commits terrorist atrocities against Jews, but Corbyn calls them his friends and attends pro-Hizbollah rallies in London. Exactly the same goes for Hamas. Raed Salah says Jews kill Christian children to drink their blood. Corbyn opposes his extradition and invites him for tea at the House of Commons. These are not the only cases. He is repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly antisemitic views, but claims never to hear or read them.

Again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with antisemites rather than Jews. At best, this derives from the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel. At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy. When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, Jews expressed sincere and profound fears as to how such politics would impact upon their wellbeing. Our concerns were never taken seriously. Three years on, the Party and British Jews are reaping the consequences.

Routine statements against antisemitism “and all forms of racism” get nowhere near dealing with the problem, because what distinguishes antisemitism from other forms of racism is the power that Jews are alleged to hold, and how they are charged with conspiring together against what is good. This is not only historic, or about what Jeremy Corbyn did before being Party leader. It is also utterly contemporary. There is literally not a single day in which Labour Party spaces, either online or in meetings, do not repeat the same fundamental antisemitic slanders against Jews. We are told that our concerns are faked, and done at the command of Israel and/or Zionism (whatever that means); that antisemitism is merely “criticism of Israel”; that we call any and all criticism of Israel “antisemitic”; that the Rothschilds run the world; that ISIS terrorism is a fake front for Israel; that Zionists are the new Nazis; and that Zionists collaborate with Nazis.

Rightly or wrongly, those who push this offensive material regard Jeremy Corbyn as their figurehead. They display an obsessive hatred of Israel alongside conspiracy theories and fake news. These repeated actions do serous harm to British Jews and to the British Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn is the only person with the standing to demand that all of this stops. Enough is enough.

Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council

Afrin Falls to Jihadists and Turkish Army but Fight and Solidarity Continue!

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Turkish Backed Jihadists Demolish, “blacksmith Kawa, a legendary figure for the Kurdish movement.”

Just breaking….

Syria war: Turkey-backed forces oust Kurds from heart of Afrin

BBC.

Turkish-backed forces have taken full control of the centre of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin.

Fighters waved flags and tore down the statue of a legendary Kurdish figure after claiming the city centre on Sunday.

The two-month Turkish-led operation aimed to rid the border region of a Kurdish militia that Turkey considers a terrorist group.

Activists say 280 civilians have died, although this is denied by Ankara.

Pictures and video footage emerged of forces tearing down a Kurdish statue with a bulldozer.

The monument depicted the blacksmith Kawa, a legendary figure for the Kurdish movement.

A statement on a Whatsapp group for the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces called it the “first blatant violation of Kurdish people’s culture and history since the takeover of Afrin”.

A Turkish armed forces Twitter page posted a video of troops displaying the nation’s flag in Afrin’s centre.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Jihadist Umar Haque taught Genocide at Islamic School.

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There is immense sadness, and anger, after the conviction of Umar Haque and his associates, Abuthather Mamun, Muhammad Abid, and Nadeem Patel (‘I’ News)

The Independent chose the right words in saying, “Isis fanatic tried to recruit children for ‘death squad‘ to launch terror attacks in London.”

The ‘self-radicalised’ supporter of ISIS has been found guilty of preparing “children for martyrdom by making them roleplay terrorist attacks in London.”

He was able to do this at the Lantern of Knowledge Islamic school and the Ripple Road Mosque.

That Hacque’s activities went unnoticed by those in charge of these institutions, “staggers belief” as a former Policeman said on RT yesterday.

Deash, the Islamic State, and its adherents have committed genocide – against Yazidis (Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL), Christians, and Shiite Muslims (ISIS Is Committing Genocide. Huff Post).

Haque wanted to recruit for their genocidal racist Einsatsgruppen.

Were the preparations for murder carried out by those now convicted the work of the far-right, the entire liberal and left wing media would be boiling.

As it is most people are no doubt still numb.

Clearly Hacque’s systematic activities, helped by other, indicate that his ‘radicalisation’, was not a momentary or nihilistic coup de tête”.

He was able to ‘teach’ in Muslim institutions.

This is perhaps the first issue to look at, as the National Secular Society indicates today.

What of institutions like this school and the Mosque which have permitted these ideas to be broadcast?

There remain many more questions, not just about faith education, but about the fight against the genociders of Daesh and other jihadists.

On the ground, they have been fought back, with a key role played in Syria by the brave sisters and brothers of the Kurdish fighting units of the YPG.

But few are confident that support for their ideology has disappeared.

Lax home schooling laws exploited by extremists

 A half of 70 known extremists in London removed their children from state schools to educate them at home, according to Metropolitan Police study.

Details of the study into 70 extremists and their children emerged following Friday’s conviction of an unqualified teacher, Umar Haque, for plotting up to 30 terrorist attacks in London, reports the Sunday Times.

As previously reported by the NSS, Umar Haque brainwashed young boys attending the Ripple Road mosque in Barking, and made them carry out role-playing sessions where some took the part of police officers and others were jihadists. In one exercise they used imaginary knives to sever a head. Haque also taught at a private Islamic school in Leyton called Lantern of Knowledge.

The Met Police study appears to back up a previous warning from Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, that “segregated, isolated communities, unregulated education and home schooling are a breeding ground for future terrorists”.

Pressure is growing on the government to tighten lax home education laws after campaigners, including the NSS, have warned that they are being exploited by religious communities to educate their children in unregistered schools. Illegal schools have been found in Birmingham, Luton and a number of London boroughs. Some have links to extremist organisations, and many have almost no secular or English education. There is also evidence of children being exposed to hate-filled homophobic and misogynistic teaching material in them.

The NSS is supporting a new private member’s bill to safeguard children’s rights by better regulating home schooling. The Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill, moved by NSS honorary associate Lord Soley, would institute a duty for local authorities to monitor the educational, physical and emotional development of children receiving home education in England and Wales, and for a parent to register home-educated children with the local authority. It is due to be debated next month.

The NSS is also calling on the government to better regulate out of school educational settings, such as madrassas and yeshivas, that provide “intensive tuition, instruction or training” where children attend over six hours per week.

A government proposal for a system of registration and inspection of supplementary schools was recently shelved following opposition from the Church of England, which feared the registration of its Sunday schools, despite the fact they would be largely unaffected by the proposals.

At least 350 unregistered schools have been set up across Britain, according to Ofsted, which is calling for strengthened powers to tackle them. Warning notices have been issued to 50 suspected unregistered schools, 38 have closed or ceased to operate illegally and 12 are under criminal investigation. So far no proprietors of illegal schools have been prosecuted.

Robert Halfon MP, chair of the Commons education committee, has said there should be no ‘grey areas’ and is worried about the lack of regulation concerning unregistered schools.

Stephen Evans, National Secular Society chief executive, said: “After years of campaigning, we are finally seeing wide recognition that it is completely unacceptable for British children to be left to languish in unregistered settings where they are indoctrinated by fundamentalists and left exposed to harm.

“There is a balance to be struck between the rights of parents to home educate and the rights of the child to a proper education. But that balance must be struck in order to protect child rights.

“The denial of secular education and the teaching of intolerance and violence in unregistered schools has the clear potential to damage to the minds of young people and cause harm to wider society. The government can no longer look the other way.”

Background: the Guardian reported on Saturday,

Isis follower tried to create jihadist child army in east London

Umar Haque, 25, taught an Islamic studies class despite having no teaching qualifications and being employed as an administrator. He was allowed to supervise classes of 11- to 14-year-olds on his own, during which he re-enacted attacks on police officers and showed students videos of beheadings.

Police fear Haque attempted to radicalise at least 110 children, some of whom he was in contact with at the Ripple Road mosque in Barking, east London. Thirty-five of the children are receiving long-term support.

Haque also worked at the £3,000-a-year Lantern of Knowledge Islamic school, where he was again allowed access to children alone under the pretence of teaching Islamic studies when he was in fact employed as an administrator.

..

Haque was convicted by a jury at the Old Bailey on Friday of a number of offences, including plotting terrorist attacks. He had previously admitted four charges of collecting information useful for terrorism and one count of disseminating a terrorist document in relation to his attempts to radicalise children at the mosque. He was acquitted of conspiring to possess firearms.

Two other men, Abuthaher Mamun, 19, and Muhammad Abid, 27, were convicted for their roles in helping him. A fourth defendant, Nadeem Patel, 26, who had previously pleaded guilty to possessing a handgun, was acquitted of plotting with Haque.

..

The schools watchdog, Ofsted, faces questions over how it was able to rate the Lantern of Knowledge school as outstanding after an inspection held at a time when Haque was allegedly preaching hate to the children.

The Charity Commission confirmed on Friday that it has opened a statutory inquiry into the Lantern of Knowledge Educational Trust. The commission is also investigating the Ripple Road mosque.

..

His plan was to build an army of children,” said Commander Dean Haydon, the head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard. “He had shown them graphic terrorist videos of barbarity, beheading videos and serious injuries mostly in terrorist attacks overseas.

“He had instructed children not to say anything in relation to not telling their teachers or their parents. We had a wall of silence.

“He tried to prepare the children for martyrdom by making them roleplay terrorist attacks in London. Part of that re-enactment including attacking police officers.”

..

He was also involved in running evening classes in a madrasa based in a large marquee attached to the mosque in Ripple Road in late 2016 and early 2017.

He told the boys, aged about 12 to 14, that he had established contact with Isis and showed them a series of videos projected on to the wall inside the marquee, ensuring the doors were closed.

The images included blood, wounds and people falling from buildings. One film showed the exhumation of a boy. Haque told the children the child’s body had deteriorated because he had been beaten after death when he was unable to answer questions put to him by angels.

He also had the children in the madrasa doing push-ups, races and grappling with each other in order to train them.

There were sessions of role-playing during which the children would be divided into police and attackers, and there were demonstrations of how to sever a head. After the Westminster Bridge attack by Khalid Masood last March, Haque used the atrocity as inspiration for the roleplays.

He said he intended to teach the children to drive as they got older so he could carry out attacks across London. He forced them take an oath not to tell their parents, friends or teachers, and it is claimed he aimed to recruit 300 jihadists.

The 35 children in long-term support were “paralysed in fear” by Haque, Haydon said. “He threatened them if they were to talk. It doesn’t appear that any of those children raised the alarm.”

Six children gave evidence in court. The trial was shown video of a police interview with a child, who said: “He is teaching us terrorism, like how to fight.”

The boy said: “He has been training us, kind of. Apparently fighting is good. If you fight for the sake of Allah, on judgment day when you get judged for your good deeds and bad deeds, fighting is good.”

Ofsted inspectors visited the Lantern of Knowledge school in November 2015, two months after Haque started working there. In their report, they said: “The strong sense of community, harmony and respect within the school reflects the school ethos and aims of leaders and governors to develop well-rounded citizens.

“The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils is outstanding. They have an excellent understanding of the world around them and make a positive contribution to their community.”

Written by Andrew Coates

March 4, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Atheists face prison in Egypt as Non-Belief may be made illegal.

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Charged in 2012 with “defamation of Islam and Christianity, insulting the divine and satirizing religious rituals and sanctities and the prophets under articles 98, 160 and 161 of the Egyptian Penal Code”

There are many countries where Atheism is a crime.

Atheists, and those accused of defection from the official religion, may be subject to discrimination and persecution in many Islamic countries. According to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, compared to other nations, “unbelievers… in Islamic countries face the most severe – sometimes brutal – treatment” Wikipedia.

Last year the Independent reported,

In thirteen countries, you can be sentenced to death for not having a faith

1.    Afghanistan

2.    Iran

3.    Malaysia

4.    Maldives

5.    Mauritania

6.    Nigeria

7.    Pakistan

8.    Qatar

9.    Saudi Arabia

10.    Somalia

11.    Sudan

12.    United Arab Emirates

13.    Yemen.

These regimes have laws that put people to death for ” blasphemy or apostasy”.

In Egypt, a state where the Sharia is one of the ‘sources’ of legislation, there has long been intolerance and the criminalisation of non-belief.

In January 2015 this happened:

A student has been sentenced to three years in prison for announcing on Facebook that he was an atheist and thereby “insulting Islam”. Karim Ashraf Mohamed al-Banna, aged 21, was arrested in November 2014 with a group of other people at a cafe in Cairo.

Police then closed down the so-called “atheists cafe” in what is being viewed as a coordinated government crackdown on atheists. A local administrator told a news website that the coffee shop was “known as a place for satan worship, rituals and dances”.

Egyptian police shutdown ‘atheist cafe’ accused of harbouring ‘Satan worship’

#EgyptTurmoil

The café, on Falaky Street in the downtown neighbourhood of Abdeen, was “destroyed” after local residents reported customers as spreading “wrong thoughts regarding religions”, Arabic-language daily Sada al-Baladreported.

“We have destroyed the café of the devil worshippers in Falaki Street for being illegal and for having a number of atheists spreading their thoughts,” local police chief Gamal Mohi told the daily.

However, when speaking to independent outlet Mada Masr, Mohi denied the café had been demolished and said it was actually shutdown in November “following noise complaints from local residents”.

“There was no demolition involved, only confiscation of the coffee shop’s property,” he said. “This was all done in accordance with the law and legal procedures.”

The café owner was the only person arrested in the raid, according to Mohi, who said he was being held “as his coffee shop was unauthorised, unlicensed, and also because drugs were found inside”.

“There was no sign reading ‘atheists’ café’ outside, as nobody would put up such a public announcement. However, it was popularly known as a place for Satan worship, rituals and dances. There were also Satanic drawings at the entrance,” the police chief said.

No publicly available evidence has been produced to verify the police chief’s allegations of Satan worship at the café and he did not explain why atheists – who reject the existence of both God and Satan – would be engaging in such practices.

Egyptian rights activists denounced the café closure as being “the wrong and criminal action”, providing the business was operating legally.

“No one has the right to arrest someone for his thoughts,” Ali Atef, from the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, told The Cairo Post. “And to be fair and honest, usually these incidents happen for arresting atheists, and later they explain that the café papers were illegal, which is usually wrong.”

In August 2017 there was this,

Egyptian TV presenter El-Beheiry was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of blasphemy—a charge filed against him by Al-Azhar, Egypt’s highest Sunni authority. El-Beheiry’s show had tackled controversial issues on Islam such as punishments for apostasy, early marriage, and different interpretations of the Hadith—the sayings and teachings of Mohamed.

According to article 98 of the Egyptian Penal Code, those found guilty of insulting the monotheistic religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) could face a fine or up to five years in prison. But the blasphemy law works mostly in favour of Muslims because they are the ones who bring this charge against people the most.

As can be seen, ‘insulting’ religion is punishable by law, but atheism is not as such, yet, a crime.

But now the Egyptian authorities are considering extending this persecution to make atheism itself a crime.

Lawmakers in Egypt are seriously considering passing a law that would make atheism illegal.

Blasphemy is already illegal in Egypt, and people are frequently arrested for insulting or defaming religion under the country’s strict laws. The newly proposed rule would make it illegal for people not to believe in God, even if they don’t talk about it.

“The phenomenon [of atheism] is being promoted in society as freedom of belief, when this is totally wrong,” Amro Hamroush, head of Egypt’s Parliament’s committee on religion, said when he introduced the bill in late December.

“[Atheism] must be criminalized and categorized as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions,” he wrote in the local daily paper Al-Shorouq.

As France Info points out in a new broadcast, you are obliged to declare your beliefs to the authorities., which will then appear on your identity card.

Already Christians and non-Muslims are second-class citizens.

Now, if the legislation is passed, you will not be a citizen at all, and a resident of a prison cell.

Égypte : les athées seront-ils bientôt mis en prison ?

Background:

Egypt’s war on atheism

There have been waves of panic about atheism in the predominantly conservative Islamic country for some years, largely driven from the top-down by government officials, religious leaders, and some media. The ‘crackdown’ on atheism has included a campaign to ‘inoculate’ or ‘educate’ young people away from atheism. Some highly questionable regional polling data in 2014 determined that there were precisely 866 atheists in the country. The figure was used as a justification for the ‘war on atheists’, though ironically the figure (which would represent just 0.001% of the population) is undoubtedly a huge underestimate and was dismissed by atheists locally as “highly unrealistic”.

The former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, in September 2014, put the level of atheism at 12.5 percent of young people (which is more realistic but the origin of the figure is unclear). Figures from the Family Court state that 6,500 women filed for a divorce in 2015 due to their husbands’ atheism. (Under the Personal Status Law, Muslim women can apply for divorce if their husbands denounce religion.)

The Sisi government has been pushing a line that has been described as “militantly mainstream“, targeting some conservatives and extremist interpretations of Islam as well as atheists and liberals.

Police have raided internet cafes that were alleged to be meeting places for atheists, and while atheism has become a hot topic in the country’s media, those invited to advocate atheism in televised debates have faced death threats and harassment.

Last month, a 29-year-old computer science graduate Ibrahim Khalil was detained on the accusation of ‘contempt of religion’. He was accused of running a Facebook page called ‘Atheism’ on which he allegedly published “distortions of the Quran” and advocated atheism.

Another student, 21-year-old Karim Ashraf Mohamed al-Banna, was sentenced to three years in November 2014 for announcing on Facebook that he was an atheist.

The media, religious leaders and politicians sometimes link atheism to homosexuality, which is similarly reviled, and promote the idea that atheism and homosexuality are mutually reinforcing “psychological imbalances”.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 1, 2018 at 5:25 pm