Category: #oppression

The Peterloo Massacre

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The Manchester Observer was a short-lived non-conformist Radical newspaper based in Manchester, England. Its radical agenda led to an invitation to Henry “Orator” Hunt to speak at a public meeting in Manchester. The Peterloo massacre and the shutdown of the newspaper resulted from that Public Meeting.

By 1819, the allocation of Parliamentary constituencies did not reflect population distribution. The major urban centres of Manchester, Salford, Bolton, Blackburn, Rochdale, Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham and Stockport, had a combined population of almost one million. They were represented only by their county MPs. Lancashire was represented by two members of parliament: John Blackburne of Hale Hall and Edward Smith Stanley, (Lord Stanley). Lord Stanley was a Conservative Whig and member of the “Derby Dilly” – a breakaway group of Conservative Whigs. The name derives from the family title “Earl of Derby” and the name of a stagecoach: the “Diligence” or “Dilly”; The title was bestowed on the Group by Irish Nationalist Leader Daniel O’Connell in a scathing reference to an erratic coach, with Stanley driving the horses.

It was quickly picked up by others, and the name stuck. Stanley’s reputation was as the “Prince Rupert of Debate”: leading his followers to attack but unable to rally them afterwards. As a result, it was difficult to estimate the number of MPs who were actually part of the ‘Dilly’. But the name did highlight the turmoil of the Ruling Classes. Change was very much in the air. 

Both Blackburne and Stanley were Oxford educated Landowners whose families had “been in politics” for some time and were not liking the change. Not the Cooperativism and Utopian Socialism of one time Manchester resident Robert Owen – Pioneer of the Cooperative Movement and member of the Manchester Board of Health. As Whigs they were aware of the rising demands of the emerging Working Class. There was something in the air.

Indeed, in 1820, The Radical War burst out in Scotland when A Committee of Organisation for Forming a Provisional Government put placards around the streets of Glasgow late on Saturday the first of April, calling for an immediate national strike. By the third of April there was a strike.

Work stopped over a wide area of central Scotland including Stirlingshire, Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, with an estimated total of around 60,000 stopping work, particularly in weaving communities. Eighty eight men were charged with treason. The leaders – Andrew Hardie and John Baird – were hanged and beheaded. The last beheadings in the British Isles. 

The 1819 Peterloo Massacre was normal, not exceptional.

Voting, in 1819, was restricted to the adult male owners of freehold land with a rateable value greater than forty shillings. The equivalent of a rateable value of about £172 as of 2018, which equates, approximately, to owning a Freehold property worth £172,000. The amounts are approximations as the Rateable Value was largely abolished with the introduction of the Poll Tax of 1990. This property qualification resulted in very few people having the Vote. Those who did have the vote numbered around two percent of the population, and, in Lancashire the number was even lower. When 60,000 people turned out to hear Orator Hunt talk, they outnumbered the voting population for the whole of Lancashire. 

The imbalance of power was not simply between Men and Women but between Rich and Poor. Indeed, Radicals were demanding that Women get the Vote. Which “moderates” saw as a step too far. Indeed Women – over thirty, of a certain class – only got the Vote after violent confrontation with the Liberals – under Asquith – and Moderates in 1918: almost a century after Orator Hunt stated that Women, who were single, tax paying and of sufficient property should be permitted to vote.

Equality of voting rights only really came about with the 1928 Representation of the People Act. The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 only allowed propertied women to vote and almost all men. The Franchise for all Working Class Adults has only really existed for about ninety years. The Electoral Register for Local and National Elections only became the same register in 1949 and the voting age fixed at 18 in 1969. Every step of the way was fought for. 

In 1819 votes in Lancashire could only be cast at the county town of Lancaster, by a public spoken declaration at the hustings. There was no Secret Ballot. Britain’s first secret ballot box, which was used in Pontefract in 1872, was mandated by the Ballot Act of 1872. The Liberal candidate, H.C. Childers was elected MP for the town and the Returning Officer announced the result of the secret ballot in the Town Hall after the votes had been counted.

In 1819, the vote was cast by standing up in public and announcing for whom you cast your vote. The Returning Officer would then record the cast vote. This was of much concern to Chartists who saw the affront to democracy in people being influenced – by drunkenness or threats – at the hustings. Indeed, the specific Electoral Offence of “treating” derives from the practice of candidates providing food and drink at the hustings to induce a favourable vote.

The first automatic secret ballot box was built and patented in Merthyr Tydfil by a former iron puddler, turned grocer, William Gould. Gould was disparaged as a “Chartist Lip” – who served as a Poor Law Guardian – but understood secret ballots prevented industrialists and landowners having influence at the ballot box. The principle behind his ballot box was that each voter had a token and each candidate a ballot box. The voter inserted the token into the box of their choice and the vote was registered onto a clock face on the box. This would reduce the potential for intimidation. Despite campaigning, his idea was not adopted. In terms of secrecy of the vote, it was a huge step up from the spoken declaration at the hustings. 

The problem of getting to Lancaster is that most working people would need to walk. Using modern roads, the hike would be about seventeen hours each way at a brisk pace. In addition, time would be needed to be taken away from working; food would need to be carried and accommodation organised. The large scale movement of people was a terrifying prospect for Justices and Politicians and Landowners. An election in which there was Universal Adult Suffrage would have been revolutionary with hundreds of thousands of people moving to Lancaster to cast a vote.

The logistics of voting, alone, would have extended the ballot to weeks if not months. Which would increase the time away from work and the food required and, in no uncertain terms, disrupt the entire economy. The Rotten Boroughs were not simply a symptom of corruption but of the collapse of the practical political and economic life of the Country. 

Stockport fell within the county constituency of Cheshire, with the same franchise, but with the hustings held at Chester. This would have complicated the matter further. Both Chester and Lancaster Returning Officers would be obliged to confer and coordinate. Many MPs were returned by Rotten Boroughs such as Old Sarum in Wiltshire, with one voter who elected two MPs. Dunwich in Suffolk had almost completely disappeared into the sea yet returned Members of Parliament. Closed Boroughs with more voters, dependent on a local magnate meant that more than half of all MPs were elected by boroughs under the control of a total of just 154 proprietors. This hugely disproportionate influence on Parliament of the United Kingdom drove calls for reform.

The Manchester Observer was formed by a group of radicals that included John Knight. John Saxton and James Wroe. The popularist form of articles aimed at the growing literate working-class meant that, within twelve months, it was selling 4,000 copies per week to its local audience and more further afield. By late 1819 it was being sold in most of the booming industrialised cities – Birmingham, Leeds, London, Salford – all calling for non-conformist reform of the Houses of Parliament. It was a powerful demand for Democracy to be part of life for everyone and not just the few. 

Orator Hunt stated: 

“The Manchester Observer is the only newspaper in England that I know, fairly and honestly devoted to such reform as would give the people their whole rights.”

The non-conformist articles, combined with a popularist style, often resulted in the main journalists of T. J. Evans, John Saxton and James Wroe constantly being sued for libel. Being found guilty, particularly for articles critical of Parliament’s structure, resulted in jail which then raised circulation. Despite its popularity, the radical agenda was seen as bad for sales by traditionalist conformist-Whig businesses. Advertising revenue remained low with only one of its 24 columns being filled by adverts. The lack of advertising meant the Observer was always in financial difficulties.

In Early 1819, Johnson, Knight and Wroe of the Manchester Observer formed the Patriotic Union Society. Leading radicals and reformists in Manchester joined the organisation, including members of the First Little Circle. The First Little Circle had formed in 1815, influenced by the ideas of Jeremy Bentham and Joseph Priestley. While the members were Unitarians, the political ideas were practical, utilitarian and resolutely reforming. Members went on to become Editors and Members of Parliament and to be involved in the Businesses of Manchester whose emerging Municipal Socialist, Cooperativist and Feminist movements would have a lasting impact on Britain.

The objective of the Patriotic Union Society was parliamentary reform both locally and, in the longer term, nationally. The Patriotic Union Society invited Henry “Orator” Hunt and Major John Cartwright to speak at a public meeting in Manchester. The national agenda of Parliamentary reform, and the local agenda to gain two Parliamentary Members for Manchester and one for Salford, were to be the subject of the speech but, to avoid the police or courts banning the meeting, the Patriotic Union Society and the Observer advertised only, “a meeting of the county of Lancashire, than of Manchester alone.” 

On August 19th 1819, at St Peter’s Field, Manchester, cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000-80,000 Men, Women and Children. As the meeting began, local magistrates called on the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry to arrest Orator Hunt and those on the hustings with him. A Yeomanry charge into the crowd, knocked down a woman and killed a child before detaining Hunt. The 15th Hussars were then summoned by the Chairman of the Lancashire and Cheshire Magistrates, William Hulton. They charged with sabres drawn, killing 18 people and injuring 700 more. The Hussars had been ordered to Manchester by a panicked government who believed an insurrection was being planned on the basis of an intercepted message between the Manchester Observer’s founder – Joseph Johnson – and Orator Hunt: 

“Nothing but ruin and starvation stare one in the face in the streets of Manchester and the surrounding towns, the state of this district is truly dreadful, and I believe nothing but the greatest exertions can prevent an insurrection. Oh, that you in London were prepared for it.” 

The Local Magistrate, William Hulton, had the meeting declared illegal as the intention of choosing representatives without the Monarch’s Permission was seditious and a serious misdemeanour. This began a series of planned meetings and cancellations with the terms of the meeting being constantly changed to conform to the desire for Members Of Parliament and the repeated escalation of the State against the Radicals. Eventually, the Meeting was policed by six hundred of the 15th Hussars; the 88th Regiment of Foot Cavalry; two six-pounder guns from the Royal Horse Artillery unit; four hundred men of the Cheshire Yeomanry; four hundred special constables; and one hundred and twenty cavalry of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry.

The Yeomanry were described by the Manchester Observer as being, “generally speaking, the fawning dependents of the great, with a few fools and a greater proportion of coxcombs, who imagine they acquire considerable importance by wearing regimentals”.

Subsequent descriptions include, “younger members of the Tory party in arms”, and, by later historians, “the local business mafia on horseback”.

Field Marshal John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford, rather than supervising events as he had indicated he would, spent the day at York Races – where he had two entries – and left the matter of Manchester in the hands of Guy L’Estrange.

HC Deb 24 November 1819 vol 41 cc228-301

No. 36. REPORT from Lieutenant Colonel l’Estrange, inclosed in the foregoing.

Dated Manchester, August 16, 1819, eight o’clock, P. M. 

...I have, however, great regret in stating, that some of the unfortunate people who attended this meeting have suffered from sabre wounds, and many from the pressure of the crowd…

Geo. L’Estrange,
Lieut. Col. 31st regiment.

The Military rioted and massacred the Civilians; many, of whom, were wearing their Sunday Best Clothes and had marched from all around Manchester. Carrying banners and organised for a picnic. The imbalance of power was not simply political but of brute force. There were banners for Manchester Female Reform Society – Votes for Women! – “No Corn Laws”, “Annual Parliaments”, “Universal suffrage” and “Vote By Ballot”. Nothing really radical. Mary Fildes (born Pritchard) a political activist and an early suffragette was on the platform with Orator Hunt.

Mary remained a radical and was later arrested, in 1833, as a member of The Female Political Union of the Working Classes. She was arrested for distributing “pornography” – in fact contraceptive advice. The only banner to survive has the words “Liberty and and Fraternity” and “Unity and Strength” carried by Thomas Redford – who was cut down by cavalry. The crowd was dispersed in about ten minutes; but rioting was sparked as far away as Macclesfield and Oldham.

Field Marshal Byng was promoted to lieutenant general in 1825; then advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1828; advancing, again, to Commander-in-Chief of Ireland and then to the Privy Council of Ireland. He was elected as a Whig Member of Parliament for Poole in Dorset in October 1831. One of the few military men to supported the 1832 Reform Bill. His role in Peterloo never once prevented him from enjoying political power. 

Wroe, as then editor of the Observer, described the incident at the Peterloo massacre. He took his headline from the Battle of Waterloo four years previously. Subsequently, Wroe wrote pamphlets entitled, “The Peterloo Massacre: A Faithful Narrative of the Events”. They sold out each print run for 14 weeks with national circulation. Saxton, having been on the hustings with Hunt, was arrested and imprisoned. He stood trial with Hunt at York Assizes.

His defence that he was present as a reporter, not participant in the hustings party, was successful. The success of his defence did not sit well with the Government. Hunt was sentenced to five years at Ilchester Jail, fined one thousand pounds and made to find two sureties of five hundred pounds having escaped the charge of High Treason.

The Observer printed an article claiming that, “something was previously arranged”, as Manchester Royal Infirmary had been emptied of patients, on the 15th of August, anticipating the massacre. That all the surgeons had been summoned to attend on 16th. The Board of the infirmary vigorously denied this. The Liverpool Government then instigated repeated prosecutions of the Manchester Observer and those associated with it. Vendors were prosecuted for seditious libel. Fifteen charges of seditious libel were brought against Wroe, his wife and his two brothers resulting in the temporarily suspension of publication. Wroe relinquished ownership of the copyright and resumed under the last proprietor of the Manchester Observer (Thomas John Evans). At trial Wroe was found guilty on two specimen charges.

The other charges against him, his wife and his brothers being given “to lie”. The charges would only lie provided the publication of “libels” ceased. Wroe was sentenced to six months imprisonment and fined £100 with a further six months, and being bound over to keep the peace for two years, to give a surety of £200 and to find two other sureties of £50 each.

The prosecuted charges related not to anything in the Manchester Observer, but to articles in Sherwin’s Weekly Political Register, which Wroe had previously sold. It was clear that the Liverpool Government wished to silence Wroe and took the most certain way of doing so. Prosecuting Richard Carlile, who had been present at Peterloo enabled prosecution on the coat tails of conviction. Carlile wrote an article on the “Horrid Massacres At Manchester”. The Government responded by closing Sherwin’s Weekly Political Register. Carlile responded by changing the name to The Republican and writing: 

“The massacre… should be the daily theme of the Press until the murderers are brought to justice…. Every man in Manchester who avows his opinions on the necessity of reform, should never go unarmed – retaliation has become a duty, and revenge an act of justice.”

Carlile was then prosecuted for blasphemy, blasphemous libel and sedition and publishing material that might encourage people to hate the government; for publishing Tom Paine’s Common Sense, The Rights of Man and the Age of Reason. In October 1819 he was found guilty of the blasphemy and seditious libel and sentenced to three years which enabled Wroe to be caught up in the moral panic of atheist Republicanism and prosecuted with impunity.

The sentences were said to have been reduced because of the distressed state of the Wroes. A distress brought about by the Government but which cast the Government in a poor light. It was a delicate balance to secure an effective remedy to the power of Wroes publications. Wroes successor, Evans, was subsequently (June 1821) convicted on one charge of a seditious libel another of libelling a private individual and imprisoned for eighteen months and bound over for three years in the sum of £400 with two other sureties of £200. By then the 11 members of the first Little Circle excluding William Cowdroy Jnr. of the Manchester Gazette had helped cotton merchant John Edward Taylor found The Manchester Guardian.

The Manchester Observer had ceased publication. The Government had driven it into silence by repeated prosecution. The final editorial recommending:

“I would respectfully suggest that the Manchester Guardian, combining principles of complete independence, and zealous attachment to the cause of reform, with active and spirited management, is a journal in every way worthy of your confidence and support.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley was in Italy at the time of Peterloo. In response, Shelley wrote “The Masque of Anarchy: written on the Occasion of the Massacre at Manchester“. Because of radical press restrictions, it was not published until 1832 – the same year as The Representation of the People Act (1832).

The Act introduced a system of voter registration, to be administered by the Overseers of the Poor; and instituted a system of courts to review disputes relating to “voter qualification”. The Act limited the duration of polling to two days – formerly forty days. The reform act increased the number of people able to vote, across the country, to about 650,000 – about ten times the largest estimate of the number of people attending Peterloo.

When Shelley wrote:

“Men of England, heirs of Glory,
Heroes of unwritten story,
Nurslings of one mighty Mother,
Hopes of her, and one another;
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you –
Ye are many – they are few.”

He was writing lyrics for punk bands like The Mekons, Scritti Politti and Strike Anywhere. The radical sentiments of Peterloo never vanished regardless of how submerged they were. Indeed Shelley is claimed to be part of the inspiration for the Arab Spring, Ghandi and numerous other radical causes. The truth is closer: “A spectre is haunting Manchester – the spectre of Peterloo. All the powers of old England have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Liberal and Tory, Johnson and Swinson, European Research Group and Big Data-spies.” To paraphrase those later journalists of the Manchester Guardian: Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.

For a few months following Peterloo it seemed England shook, towards an armed rebellion. Abortive uprisings took place in Huddersfield and Burnley, the Yorkshire West Riding Revolt, the Cato Street conspiracy, the Cinderloo Uprising in the Coalbrookdale Coalfield, the Pentrich rising, the March of the Blanketeers, the Spa Fields, and the Radical War ll made the end of Regency Civilisation more and more vivid. The Government introduced the Six Acts, to suppress radical meetings and publications. By the end of 1820 every significant working-class radical reformer was in jail. Civil liberties were largely gone.

Two hundred years later, the Tories are again splitting and civil liberties are again being rolled back.

 

Picture: The Skelmanthorpe Flag. Anonymous.

Image © Kirklees Museums & Galleries

The unarmed Palestinian protestors who were killed on the Gaza border include an 8 month old baby

The United States blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council statement that called for an “independent and transparent investigation” into Israel’s killing of Palestinian protestors on the Gaza border.

The statement, drafted by Kuwait ahead of a meeting on Tuesday, expressed “outrage and sorrow” at the deaths of at least 58 people during demonstrations over the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

It also demanded all countries comply with a decades-old Security Council resolution calling on them not to station diplomatic missions in the contested holy city.

“The Security Council expresses its outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest,” the draft text reads.

“The Security Council calls for an independent and transparent investigation into these actions to ensure accountability.”

The statement also called on “all sides to exercise restraint with a view to averting further escalation and establishing calm”.

Most UN member states say the status of Jerusalem – a sacred city to Jews, Muslims and Christians – should be determined in a final peace settlement and that the relocation of the US embassy has prejudiced any such deal. France, one of the council’s five permanent members, has condemned “the violence of Israeli armed forces against demonstrators” and said president Emmanuel Macron would speak to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.  

On Monday, 10 of the council’s 15 members wrote to UN secretary-general to express profound concern” that a 2016 resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building on land that Palestinians want for an independent state was not being implemented. UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov reported last year that Israel was continuing to flout the demand for an end to settlements, which is prohibited by international law.

Back in January, Trump threatened in a tweet to cut millions in funding support contributions in order to force Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas into coming to the negotiating table to hash out a peace deal with Israel. 

In cutting the aid package, the administration appeared to be in line with Trump’s tweet in which he wrote that Palestinians were receiving “hundreds of millions of dollars” but gave the US “no appreciation or respect.” 

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue…

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

…peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?

One of the sticking points in the peace process has been the control of Jerusalem. Trump broke with 70 years of diplomatic procedure and announced the US would recognise the holy city as the capital of Israel. 

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, had originally advocated for cutting off funds going to UNRWA completely, echoing her sentiments that the world body had an “anti-Israel bias.”

She was talked down after Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that if the relief agency’s efforts are severely hampered it could cause further unrest in Jordan, an ally which hosts several million Palestinian refugees. 

Nicky whatsit

Nikki Haley walked out of an emergency Security Council meeting yesterday when the Palestinian envoy began to speak, just hours after she praised Israel for acting with “restraint” in handling the protests in Gaza. The meeting was held to discuss the violence in Gaza. Haley told the Security Council that Hamas, with the help of Iran, was to blame for the violence and pointed to “Molotov cocktails being flown into Israel via kites.”

Israeli forces dropped drones with tear gas and shot at Palestinian protesters in Gaza on Monday, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner called the protesters “part of the problem and not part of the solution.” Kushner’s family has longtime ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and previously failed to disclose that he once led a group that funded West Bank settlements, which are illegal under international law.

Hours after Kushner’s speech, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah also claimed that the Palestinian deaths on Monday were “an unfortunate propaganda attempt” by Hamas.

The United States unveiled its new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, the same day as Israel’s independence day, after having moved its location from Tel Aviv. The move has been roundly condemned by Palestinian leadership and other world leaders, as East Jerusalem — under Israeli occupation since 1967 — has been recognised as the capital of a future Palestinian state by the international community.

But the protests in Gaza were about more than the embassy. Many of those involved were participating in the “March of Return” protests, which began on March 30, and involved tens of thousands of Palestinians marching to the Gaza border fence to demand the right to return to family homes lost in 1948.

Riots in the region had already broken out in the wake of Trump’s “recognition of Jerusalem” and cutting off all aid is likely to have have escalated protests and violence.

UK policy should reflect the asymmetry of the two parties (occupier and occupied), the importance of international law and human rights treaties as a reference point, and accountability for violations of that body of law and of those treaties.

The British Government must suspend the granting of arms export licenses to the Israeli military,  produce, and formulate tougher rules for charities regarding support for settlements, building on the recent Charity Commission warning.

The UK should condition bilateral ties with the Israeli government, including in relation to trade arrangements, in respect for international law and human rights.

British Palestinian scholar-activist Yara Hawari wrote “The past is not in the past. Britain continues to be complicit in the suffering of the Palestinians through its diplomatic and trade relations with Israel”.

Ending that complicity would be the best form of apology.

Israel claims that its troops were “defending its border” and accused Hamas militants of using the protests as a cover for attacks. It said 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in “violent riots” along the border and that some had tried to breach security fences. However, no Jewish people were killed. It’s not clear what danger Israel faced from unarmed protestors, nor is it explained why the response from the military was so absolutely disproportionate.

The unarmed Palestinian people who were atrociously murdered 

Medics and journalists were among the injured in what the Palestinian Authority condemned as a “massacre”.  The Israeli military,  however, claim they were defending the state borders.

The following was published on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, by Middle East Eye.

The Gaza Ministry of Health has released the names of 58 unarmed Palestinians killed. They were protesting for their freedom and dignity. 

From left: Ahmed Alrantisi, Laila Anwar Al-Ghandoor, Ahmed Altetr, Alaa Alkhatib Ezz el-din Alsamaak, Motassem Abu Louley (Photo: Screengrab)

From left: Ahmed Alrantisi, Laila Anwar Al-Ghandoor, Ahmed Altetr, Alaa Alkhatib Ezz el-din Alsamaak, Motassem Abu Louley (Photo: Screengrab) 

Editor’s note: Middle East Eye has live coverage of protests in Palestine and Israel here.

Sixty-one people were either killed or died of wounds inflicted by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip on Monday and Tuesday as thousands of Palestinians demonstrated across the occupied territory to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba.

The youngest victim was just 8 months old. Laila Anwar Al-Ghandoor’s family told media that the baby’s mother had left the child at home to join the demonstrations. When the infant began crying her uncle took her towards the protest area in order to locate his sister. 

Reports on Palestinian social media said Laila had been in a tent away from the security fence when a tear gas canister was dropped by a drone.  

Fresh protests are expected. Tensions are running high as many families bury their dead.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Gaza Ministry of Health released the names of 58 Palestinians killed:

1. Laila Anwar Al-Ghandoor, 8 months old

2. Ezz el-din Musa Mohamed Alsamaak, 14 years old

3. Wisaal Fadl Ezzat Alsheikh Khalil, 15 years old

4. Ahmed Adel Musa Alshaer, 16 years old

5. Saeed Mohamed Abu Alkheir, 16 years old

6. Ibrahim Ahmed Alzarqa, 18 years old

7. Eman Ali Sadiq Alsheikh, 19 years old

8. Zayid Mohamed Hasan Omar, 19 years old

9. Motassem Fawzy Abu Louley, 20 years old

10. Anas Hamdan Salim Qadeeh, 21 years old

11. Mohamed Abd Alsalam Harz, 21 years old

Fadi%20Abu%20Salmi%20-29%20Motaz%20Al-nuFrom left: Fadi Abu Salah, Motaz Al-Nunu, Jihad Mohammed Othman Mousa, Mousa Jabr Abdulsalam Abu Hasnayn, Ezz Eldeen Nahid Aloyutey, Anas Hamdan Salim Qadeeh 

12. Yehia Ismail Rajab Aldaqoor, 22 years old

13. Mustafa Mohamed Samir Mahmoud Almasry, 22 years old

14. Ezz Eldeen Nahid Aloyutey, 23 years old

15. Mahmoud Mustafa Ahmed Assaf, 23 years old

16. Ahmed Fayez Harb Shahadah, 23 years old

17. Ahmed Awad Allah, 24 years old

18. Khalil Ismail Khalil Mansor, 25 years old

19. Mohamed Ashraf Abu Sitta, 26 years old

20. Bilal Ahmed Abu Diqah, 26 years old

21. Ahmed Majed Qaasim Ata Allah, 27 years old

3_46.jpg


From left: Mahmoud Wael Mahmoud Jundeyah, Ibrahim Ahmed Alzarqa, Musab Yousef Abu Leilah, Jihad Mufid Al-Farra, Saeed Mohamed Abu Alkheir, Mohamed Hasan Mustafa Alabadilah (screengrab)
 

22. Mahmoud Rabah Abu Maamar, 28 years old

23. Musab Yousef Abu Leilah, 28 years old

24. Ahmed Fawzy Altetr, 28 years old

25. Mohamed Abdelrahman Meqdad, 28 years old

26. Obaidah Salim Farhan, 30 years old

27. Jihad Mufid Al-Farra, 30 years old

28. Fadi Hassan Abu Salah, 30 years old

29. Motaz Bassam Kamil Al-Nunu, 31 years old

30. Mohammed Riyad Abdulrahman Alamudi, 31 years old

31. Jihad Mohammed Othman Mousa, 31 years old

32. Shahir Mahmoud Mohammed Almadhoon, 32 years old

33. Mousa Jabr Abdulsalam Abu Hasnayn, 35 years old

4_36.jpg
From left: Shahir Mahmoud Mohammed Almadhoon, Khalil Ismail Khalil Mansor, Mahmoud Saber Hamad Abu Taeemah, Mohamed Ashraf Abu Sitta, Mustafa Mohamed Samir Mahmoud Almasry, Obaidah Salim Farhan (screengrab)
 

34. Mohammed Mahmoud Abdulmoti Abdal’al, 39 years old

35. Ahmed Mohammed Ibrahim Hamdan, 27 years old

36. Ismail Khalil Ramadhan Aldaahuk, 30 years old

37. Ahmed Mahmoud Mohammed Alrantisi, 27 years old

38. Alaa Alnoor Ahmed Alkhatib, 28 years old

39. Mahmoud Yahya Abdawahab Hussain, 24 years old

40. Ahmed Abdullah Aladini, 30 years old

41. Saadi Said Fahmi Abu Salah, 16 years old

42. Ahmed Zahir Hamid Alshawa, 24 years old

43. Mohammed Hani Hosni Alnajjar, 33 years old

44. Fadl Mohamed Ata Habshy, 34 years old

45. Mokhtar Kaamil Salim Abu Khamash, 23 years old

46. Mahmoud Wael Mahmoud Jundeyah, 21 years old

47. Abdulrahman Sami Abu Mattar, 18 years old

48. Ahmed Salim Alyaan Aljarf, 26 years old

4_37.jpg
From left: Mohammed Hani Hosni Alnajjar, Yehia Ismail Rajab Aldaqoor, Mohammed Riyad Abdulrahman Alamudi, Ahmed Adel Musa Alshaer, Fadl Mohamed Ata Habshy, Ismail Khalil Ramadhan Aldaahuk (screengrab)
 

49. Mahmoud Sulayman Ibrahim Aql, 32 years old

50. Mohamed Hasan Mustafa Alabadilah, 25 years old

51. Kamil Jihad Kamil Mihna, 19 years old

52. Mahmoud Saber Hamad Abu Taeemah, 23 years old

53. Ali Mohamed Ahmed Khafajah, 21 years old

54. Abdelsalam Yousef Abdelwahab, 39 years old

55. Mohamed Samir Duwedar, 27 years old

56. Talal Adel Ibrahim Mattar, 16 years old

57. Omar Jomaa Abu Ful, 30 years old

58. Nasser Ahmed Mahmoud Ghrab, 51 years old

59 – 61: Unidentified

The UN tweeted this response:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzOpUMAmRkU

 

Related

UN spokesman cries on camera over Gaza school attack

The UK government must stop selling arms to Israel and end its own complicity in human rights abuses

 


 

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The UK government must stop selling arms to Israel and end its own complicity in human rights abuses

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Russia, France, and the UK have all expressed “serious consternation” over the legality of the US Embassy moving to Jerusalem, and Israel’s heavy-handed response to the ‘clashes’ it has provoked, which have reportedly caused at least 58 deaths, including six children under 18, killed by Israeli fire during demonstrations on the day of the US embassy’s inauguration in Jerusalem. There are at least 2,771 injured among Gaza protesters.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said: “We have publicly criticised the move multiple times. International resolutions declare that the status of Jerusalem – one of the most important issues of the entire peace process – must be resolved in direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine.” 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also said that Donald Trump’s decision, made last December, “violated international law,” but expressed particular alarm at IDF tactics.

“France calls on all actors to show responsibility to prevent a new escalation,” Le Drian said in a statement. “France again calls on the Israeli authorities to exercise discernment and restraint in the use of force that must be strictly proportionate.” 

The UK government has reaffirmed its commitment to keeping its embassy in Tel Aviv and said it was worried that the unilateral move could derail an already dormant peace process. 

A spokesperson Theresa May said “We are concerned by the reports of violence and loss of life in Gaza. We urge calm and restraint to avoid actions destructive to peace efforts. The UK remains firmly committed to a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital.” 

I think president Trump is at the helm of that very ship that has now sailed. 

Britain has also called for a UN investigation looking at why “such a volume” of live ammunition was used by Israeli troops against Palestinian protestors in Gaza. That is a truly priceless comment, given the sheer volume of arms sales the UK government has made with Israel. The UK government approves thousands of  arms deals with states it condemns for human rights abuses. And then is “surprised” when those states use them.

Back in 2015, the UK government lifted all restrictions on arms sales to Israel following a year-long review of 12 export licences for weaponry which it admitted may have been used in the bombardment of Gaza.

Then business secretary, Sajid Javid, said his department was satisfied that the licences for material including components for military radar and tanks meet the UK’s export criteria, which ban any sale of arms where there is a “clear risk” that they may be used to commit serious breaches of human rights.” 

The UK gave the go-ahead for dozens of military exports to Israel, including components for drones and air-to-surface missiles, in the immediate aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, which claimed more than 2,000 lives, including those of hundreds of Palestinian civilians.

Campaigners said the exports showed that the government was conducting “business as usual” in its arms sales to Israel and turning a “blind eye” to the risk that UK-made weaponry could be used in any fresh clashes between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Britain’s refusal to suspend the 12 licences led to the resignation of Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi, who said Britain’s stance was “morally indefensible”.

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has today said that Israel’s killing of 58 Palestinian protesters and wounding of thousands more is an “outrage” and a “wanton disregard for international law”. 

He said: “Firing live ammunition into crowds of unarmed civilians is illegal and inhumane and cannot be tolerated.”

The Labour party leader also made comments on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, saying “the majority of the people of the Gaza Strip are stateless refugees, subject to a decade long blockade and the denial of basic human and political rights.

“More than two thirds are reliant on humanitarian assistance, with limited access to the most basic amenities, such as water and electricity,” he added. 

Corbyn has supported for the European Union and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for an independent investigation into Gaza, and long encouraged a review of arms sales to Israel.

He has previously said: “The UK government must support the UN Secretary-General’s call for an independent international inquiry into the killing of protesters in Gaza and review the sale of arms that could be used in violation of international law. The silence from international powers with the responsibility of bringing a just settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict must end.”

His statement concluded that a return to negotiating a two-state solution is the only way to end the conflict.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry was equally scathing, calling Israel’s actions “vicious and utterly avoidable slaughter” and urging an independent investigation.

Corbyn said the UK’s response was “wholly inadequate,” adding: “We cannot turn a blind eye to such wanton disregard for international law. That is why Labour is committed to reviewing UK arms sales to Israel while these violations continue.”

Labour MP Luciana Berger said America’s decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem was “hugely inflammatory”.

I’m currently researching and writing an in depth article on the UK’s arms trade and the implications of selling weapons and components to states with records of human rights abuse. I’m exploring the symbiotic relationship between neoliberalism and militarism. Scientific and technological research has made possible the manufacture of ever-more complex and powerful modern weaponry with such massive destructive potential and has further increased the risk of large-scale warfare and escalation into nuclear conflict. Yet the UK continues to sell weapons of mass destruction and arms components, which then inflame conflicts and further fuel proxy wars, that are already destabilising our fragile world security.

Information warfare has also gained a growing significance, exemplified by increasing US National Security Agency (NSA) and UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) global data capture, and has led reference to be made to the evolution of a “military-information complex”. 

There is a detailed list and quarterly breakdown, from Wolverhampton TUC, of UK’s arms and weapon component exports to Israel, going back years, here.

From the 2017 Department of Trade’s Strategic Arms Export Controls document, there are listed details of the exports the UK government made to Israel (page 420): 

Types of goods on licence     No. of licences       Value
Military                                            109                   £215,585,497
Non-military                                    158                  £65,428,168
Both Military and Non-military       7                  £2,545,798

Total                                                   274                 £283,559,464

 

For:

aircraft military communications equipment.
assault rifles (2).
ballistic test equipment.
body armour.
components for aircraft military communications equipment.
components for assault rifles.
components for ballistic test equipment.
components for body armour (2 licences) [See footnote 13].
components for combat aircraft.
components for combat helicopters (3 licences) [See footnote 23].
components for combat naval vessels (3 licences).
components for decoying/countermeasure equipment (4 licences).
T components for decoying/countermeasure equipment.
components for ground vehicle military communications equipment.
components for launching/handling/control equipment for missiles.
components for launching/handling/control equipment for munitions.
components for military aircraft head-up/down displays.
components for military communications equipment (5 licences).
components for military diving apparatus.
components for military guidance/navigation equipment.
T components for military guidance/navigation equipment.
T components for military helicopters.
components for military improvised explosive device decoying/detection/disposal/jamming equipment.
components for military infrared/thermal imaging equipment (3 licences).
components for military radars (3 licences).

components for military support aircraft (4 licences).
components for military support vehicles.
components for military training aircraft (6 licences).
components for naval electrical/electronic equipment (3 licences).
components for NBC protective/defensive equipment.
components for pistols.
components for sniper rifles.
components for submarines (10 licences) [See footnotes 18, 20, 21].
components for surface-to-air missiles (6 licences).
components for tanks (2 licences).
components for targeting equipment (4 licences).
T components for targeting equipment.
components for weapon control equipment.
decoying/countermeasure equipment.
energetic materials additives.
equipment for the development of multi-role missiles.
equipment for the production of military support aircraft.
equipment for the use of attack alerting/warning equipment (2 licences).
T equipment for the use of military electronic equipment.
equipment for the use of military radars.
equipment for the use of targeting equipment.
T general military vehicle components.
general naval vessel components (3 licences) [See footnote 22].
T high power RF weapon systems (2 licences).
T launching/handling/control equipment for munitions.
military aircraft ground equipment.
military aircraft head-up/down displays (2 licences).
military communications equipment (2 licences).
T military electronic equipment.
military equipment for initiating explosives.
T military guidance/navigation equipment.
military helmets (2 licences) [See footnote 13].
naval electrical/electronic equipment.
rangefinding equipment.
small arms ammunition [See footnote 19].
sniper rifles (4).
targeting equipment (2 licences).
technology for military communications equipment.
technology for military electronic equipment.
technology for military guidance/navigation equipment.
technology for military radars.
technology for multi-role missiles.
test models for multi-role missiles.
training small arms ammunition.
weapon sights (2 licences).
aero-engine assemblies.
T analogue-to-digital equipment.
biotechnology equipment (2 licences).
calibration equipment for guidance/navigation equipment.
civil explosive detection/identification equipment (7 licences).
civil NBC protection clothing.
civil NBC protection equipment.
components for civil explosive detection/identification equipment.
components for magnetometers.
composite structures.
corrosion resistant chemical manufacturing equipment (18 licences).
dimensional measuring equipment.
T direct view imaging equipment.
electromagnetic wave absorbing materials.
equipment for the production of gas turbines.
explosives detection equipment.
extended temperature range integrated circuits.
fibrous/filamentary materials (2 licences) [See footnote 5].
frequency changers (4 licences).
graphite materials.
helium-3.
imaging cameras (18 licences) [See footnotes 17, 25].
T imaging cameras (6 licences).
inertial equipment (3 licences).
information security equipment (28 licences) [See footnotes 10, 15, 31].
T information security equipment (3 licences) [See footnotes 27, 28].
information security software (7 licences).
instrumentation cameras (2 licences).
laser acoustic detection equipment.
lasers (2 licences).
liquid rocket propulsion systems.
machine tools.
magnetometers.
metal alloy cylindrical forms (2 licences).
T network analysers (2 licences) [See footnote 29].
neutron generators (2 licences).
nickel powders.
oscillators.
pressure transducers (11 licences).
T real-time oscilloscopes.
RF direction finding equipment.
semiconductor wafers with epitaxial layers.
T signal analysers (8 licences) [See footnotes 12, 30].
T signal generators (7 licences).
software for information security equipment (7 licences) [See footnotes 10, 15, 31].
sonar log equipment.

There have been more UK parliamentary visits to Israel-Palestine than anywhere in last two years. In total, the visits made either side of the 2017 election were worth more than £2 million, £1.2 million of which came from the Conservative side of the House. Other declarations show that Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Hong Kong contributed to nearly half of the £1,105,490 worth of travel covered by foreign governments, offering free flights, hotels and meals to their guests.

Labour’s John Mann made trips to Israel, most were related to his role as the UK chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism. Nevertheless, eyebrows were raised at the discrepancy in declarations between a trip made by Mr Mann to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, said to have cost £818, and a trip to the same area, made by Hendon Conservative Matthew Offord, which he declared as costing $3,450. Offord’s visit — in April 2018 — is understood to have taken place under the auspices of the Conservative Friends of Israel.

Mann, who registered eight overseas visits on the Register of Interests in the year following the election, the most recorded by any MP, said these trips are “part of the job”.

Most trips to Israel and the Palestinian territories were covered by pressure groups including Conservative Friends of Israel, Labour Friends of Israel or Medical Aid for Palestine. And most of them were described as “fact-finding missions”, visiting both Israel and the Palestinian territories.

 

Britain is now the second biggest arms dealer in the world, official government figures show – with most of the weapons fuelling deadly conflicts in the Middle East.

Since 2010 Britain has also sold arms to 39 of the 51 countries ranked “not free” on the Freedom House “Freedom in the world” report, and 22 of the 30 countries on the UK Government’s own human rights watch list.

A full two-thirds of UK weapons over this period were sold to Middle Eastern countries, where instability has fed into increased risk of terror threats to Britain and across the West.

Israeli tank

Among the export licences granted to 130 British arms-makers, one is for a company selling components for Israel’s main battle tank. Photograph: Atef Safadi/EPA

Through the arms trade, the UK is complicit in the violations of Palestinians’ human rights. Despite the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the UK remains a major arms exporter to Israel, and purchaser of Israeli weapons and technologies. More than 100 companies manufacturing and selling military equipment to Israel have offices and manufacturing plants in the UK. Many financial institutions are invested in the weapons trade and profit from it. By holding shares in companies that export military technology and weapons to Israel, and by providing and facilitating loans to companies producing such military technology and weapons, these companies are complicit in the murder of Palestinians. 

BAE systems, Rolls Royce, Boeing and Babcock are all involved in providing arms and components to Israel. Banks like HSBC are involved in financing loans for some companies, and have ties with the arms industry. 

The prime minister’s husband, Philip May, works for a private investors company that is the largest shareholder in arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, whose share price has soared since the recent airstrikes in Syria. The company, Capital Group, is also the second-largest shareholder in Lockheed Martin – a US military arms company that supplies weapons systems, aircraft and logistical support. Its shares have also rocketed since the missile strikes earlier this year. 

Capital Group was also linked to the Paradise Papers scandal in 2017. News and current affairs magazine, Private Eye, suggested at the time that Philip May’s company used offshore law firm Appleby to devise investments in tax havens.

When asked at the time of the scandal about her husband’s role, a spokesperson for the prime minister told reporters: “Mr May is involved in the development of Capital Group’s retirement solutions. He is not an investor but consults with other Capital associates on retirement products and solutions for clients.”

“Capital allocation strategy” is the process of allocating financial resources to different sources to ‘maximize profits’ and ‘increase efficiency’. Overall, it is management’s goal to ‘optimize’ capital allocation so that it generates as much wealth as possible for its shareholders. This is often done using a principle of ‘blind trust’. Investments are carried out through third-party companies. “Blind” investments are unseen. Politicians often place their personal assets in blind trusts to avoid public scrutiny and accusations of conflicts of interest.

Nonetheless, there clearly ARE some serious and deadly conflicts of interest.

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Marginalisation of left leaning Jewish groups demonstrates political exploitation of the antisemitism controversy by the right wing

Ruth Smeeth, shown here, is surrounded by right wing journalists, Kevin Schofield, editor of Politics Home, (he used to work with the Sun), Richard Angell, bullying executive director of the moderate group Progress, who oppose Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Senior Political Correspondent at The Telegraph, Kate McMann, and John Adrian Pienaar, who is currently Deputy Political Editor for BBC News, and presenter of Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live. It is the right wing journalist Kevin Scofield who says clearly on the video that Marc Wadsworth’s comments constitute “antisemitism”. 

Marc Wadsworth, a former BBC journalist and member of the Momentum Black Connexions group, had been suspended by the Labour Party since the 2016 row with Smeeth at the launch of Shami Chakrabarti’s report into antisemitism, where he accused the MP of “working hand in hand” with the Daily Telegraph to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. That a group of so-called moderates in the party have worked with the right wing press – and at times, even with Conservative MPs – to attempt to discredit Corbyn, isn’t open to dispute. They have.

See for example, John Woodcock’s comments on Pienaar’s show. Woodcock is the only Labour MP to state publicly that, if re-elected, he would not support Corbyn as Prime Minister. It’s a well established fact that the plots by so-called moderates to marginalise Corbyn and his supporters have been going on since he became party leader. To pass a comment on this is not remotely “antisemitic”. The fact that Ruth Smeeth is Jewish does not make the comment  antisemitic. 

In his statement, Wadsworth says “At the Chakrabarti event, I handed out a press release in defence of him. I was dismayed when I saw journalist Kate McCann, from the arch anti-Labour Daily Telegraph, hand it to a member of the public. That person told me brusquely she was ‘Ruth Smeeth Labour MP’. So, I suspected an unhealthy cosy relationship between the two of them. I later found out the MP was one of Corbyn’s dissident frontbenchers who had resigned to damage him.

“Anyway, after being called out by McCann in a hostile question about me to the Labour leader, I responded by saying what I genuinely thought I had spotted.The MP walked out filmed by the cameras of news media uninterested in the important issues covered by the Chakrabarti report and looking for an anti-Corbyn scoop. I mainly spoke about the lack of black people at the event aimed at combatting racism and, sadly, the journalists were not interested in that. Corbyn sympathetically supported my observation and said the party needed to do better to improve black representation. I didn’t know the MP involved was Jewish.”

Wadsworth also says: “As a black activist, I’ve fought racism and antisemitism all my life. The Hitler-worshipping Combat 18 paramilitaries put me on a death list after I founded the Anti-Racist Alliance in 1991, and helped Doreen and Neville Lawrence set up the Justice for Stephen Lawrence campaign. After I was able to introduce Stephen’s parents to Nelson Mandela, the campaign became the causecélèbre it deserved to be. This April marks the 25th anniversary of black teenager Stephen’s brutal, racist murder.

“I’ve been on the frontline, side by side with Jewish, black and other anti-racist campaigners, opposing the fascist BNP, including on the Isle of Dogs when one of their members was elected a councillor. Together we managed to shut down the BNP’s “nazi bunker” headquarters in south east London, close to where Stephen was murdered.

“Despite my history of anti-racist campaigning, Labour expelled me by email the very same day of the June 2016 launch of the party’s Shami Chakrabarti report into antisemitism and racism I attended. I was shocked, thinking it must be a practical joke. I was caught up in what’s been called a “media concocted firestorm”.  

“Since then I’ve been pilloried and had my reputation trashed. Most painful has been the non-stop trial by media – print and online.”

Smeeth didn’t look to be in tears when she left, as the media reported: she glanced at the cameras and rather pointedly stormed out. That was following Schofield’s smirking comments about alleged antisemitism. 

What is telling about this whole series of events Smeeth’s statement at the time claims the comment Wadsworth made was definitely antisemitic, leaving no room for doubt when there clearly IS room for doubt. Furthermore she uses this to call for Corbyn to stand down, yet again, claiming unreasonably that Corbyn is “unfit” to be leader. 

Corbyn did not hear an antisemitic comment because it wasn’t clearly an antisemitic comment. It’s rather difficult to put aside the previous attempts by Smeeth and other moderates – the neoliberal party within our party – to deliberately attempt to discredit the twice-elected left leaning, anti-neoliberal leader of the party.  The comment made Wadsworth simply highlights this, in my view. 

Travesty: Marc Wadsworth exclusive interview on week of his expulsion from UK Labour party.

You can support Marc Wadsworth’s appeal campaign here.

Is antisemitism worse in the Labour Party than in others?  The evidence of the Home Affairs select committee strongly suggests it’s not. 

 

commons select committee antisemitism
This finding is in spite of the fact that no-one appears to be affording other parties the same level of scrutiny.

Julie pierce plant QT

 

Julie Pierce, pictured in the centre (above), a Conservative plant in the audience on Question time this week, asked why Labour have a “problem with antisemitism”, and why the Labour party only “attack Israel”, the only Jewish state”, rather than other countries in the middle east.

As a matter of fact Labour have consistently also criticised Saudi Arabia’s history of human rights violations in Yemen. I thought Caroline Lucas’s response was even handed and spot on.

Linguistic entrapment

I have pointed out elsewhere that there is a basic frame composed of an over simplistic, false dichotomy regarding the Labour party’s alleged antisemitism, which the media have also rolled out. The frame itself is a trap. It runs like this: If the Labour party confirm that they are “addressing” an antisemitism problem, regardless of whether that problem is real – then it is read as an admission of guilt. However, if the party says there is no problem – regardless of whether there is or isn’t – that will simply be read as a denial of “guilt” and the action of a party that “doesn’t care” about antisemitism more generally.

The phrasing of accusation is designed to make the party and members look bad either way. However, as a person who has warned and written extensively about the dangers of growth of social prejudice since 2012, again, I won’t ever claim that antisemitism is eradicated or negligible. It isn’t either, unfortunately. I will maintain, however, that it is no greater problem within the Labour party than it is in wider society. That is NOT the same thing as saying there is no antisemitism within the party membership. The rise of social prejudice within the UK is partly because of a toxic, divisive, intolerant right wing authoritarian political culture and a media that acts a PR service for Conservative rhetoric, amplifying their racist values.

Antisemitism reached its highest level since records began in the UK back in 2014, before Corbyn was party leader, and before Momentum formed. Yet the media and moderates are using Corbyn’s reasonable commitment to address antisemitism as “proof” that antisemitism is now “rife” in the party. However, a survey of anti-Semitic attitudes in Britain, published last September by the respected Institute for Jewish Policy Research — an organization with no ties to any political party — contains several findings that are worth considering amid this uproar. First: Levels of anti-Semitism in Britain are among the lowest in the world. Second: Supporters across the political spectrum manifest anti-Semitic ideas. Third: Far from this being an issue for the left, the prejudice gets worse the farther right on the political spectrum that you look.

There are two issues here, which I hope I have made clear. One is the justified concern regarding antisemitism in the UK and within the Labour party among members, the other is how that is being politically exploited. This does little to genuinely address antisemitism. Furthermore, it has caused further division among Jewish communities, with left leaning Jewish groups being marginalised in this debate. See, for example, Jewish and Black activists united in support of antiracist campaigner Marc Wadsworth, which is Jewish Voice for Labour’s statement on this issue.

The accusations of antisemitism have been redesigned for use as a political stick with which to beat Corbyn. Again, I would not claim there is no antisemitism within the party. If there is, it must be addressed. However, mine is a question of proportionality, and whether the media focus and comments of right wing commentators are reasonable and justified. This is the same branch of the media that displayed no qualms in systematically dehumanising migrants and asylum seekers in their drive to force the EU referendum.

The comments made by Wadsworth were certainly not overtly antisemitic. Comment about the party moderates’ relationship with the press include people who are not Jewish, too. Furthermore, he says that he did not know Smeeth is Jewish. Nor did I until she spoke about it in parliament. I didn’t know Margaret Hodge is until very recently, either.

The fact remains that the group – which includes Jewish and non-Jewish people alike – are bound by the same neoliberal ideology, and have systematically set out to destablise the party and discredit the twice-elected leader, using the right wing press to do so, as well as opportunities for parliamentary commentary.  I don’t believe commenting on that is antisemitic. Exploiting Jewish suffering to prosecute petty vendettas, wage factional warfare and discredit legitimate criticism of Israel is however, dismally nasty. In the process, this is poisoning relations between British Jews and movements for social justice; fomenting antisemitism while claiming to combat it.

Most of the moderates are indistinguishable from the Conservatives in terms of the policies they support, which are underpinned by a neoliberal ideology. Graham Jones for example, said in 2015I want to see [Corbyn] change some of his policies. I think we need to be fiscally more responsible. We’ve got to stop turning our back on the debate on immigration. On welfare, are we just leaving people to a lifetime on benefits?”

And then there is this:

proamber rudd

The responses from Labour party members to this ill-conceived but revealing Tweet categorically demonstrated that the Labour party has no common ground with Rudd whatsoever.

Labour policies under Corbyn have been formulated using public consultation, it’s clear that the right of the Labour party are out of touch with what the public actually want. After seven grinding years of targeted austerity – a plank of neoliberalism – and the ever-lower standards of living under the Conservatives, the wider public have had enough. 

The divisions being fostered between left and right leaning Jewish groups demonstrates the political exploitation of the antisemitism controversy

Jewdas was recently denounced by the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, as “a source of virulent anti-Semitism.” The board, which has claimed to speak for British Jewry since the 18th century, usually keeps its head down and avoids the headlines. In the 1930s, it held back as other Jewish groups, mostly on the left, led the struggle against a nascent fascist movement on the streets of London, in the battle of Cable Street. An inglorious role, perhaps, but one that has allowed the Board of Deputies to appear nonpartisan and impartial. However, Arkrush has openly expressed that he supports the Conservatives and DUP. He is not impartial:

“If the governing party, which is a strong supporter of Israel, loses so much ground, then of course it has to be something of a loss for Israel and the Jewish community,” Arkush, who was in Israel at the time, told The Times of Israel in an interview.

“And that loss is compounded when it comes to the gains by Labour. Corbyn’s party has policies that are supportive of Israel, supportive of the two-state solution, but will see its “far-left faction, which is far less sympathetic to Israeli concerns, bolstered by the strong showing.”

Interviewed on TV, Arkush proposed that Jewdas’s members “are not all Jewish,” as if he were in a position to make authoritative pronouncements on the subject. 

This part of the controversy marked the turning point from serious debate about repugnant antisemitism into fabrication, political point-scoring and abuse. Jeremy Corbyn attended a Passover meal with Jewish left-wing group Jewdas in his constituency, an engagement that had been made well in advance of the controversy. Jewdas is a collective of left leaning Jewish people that focuses on diaspora Jewry and giving UK Jews a space outside of the self-appointed “mainstream” to meet, pray, learn and party. The group is generally anti-Zionist, but support the view that Zionism in itself is not a problem since Zionism is a movement that had as its original aim the creation of a country for Jewish people, and that now supports the state of Israel. That support, say Jewdas, does not entail condoning “land grabs” and the murder of Palestinian civilians. 

Jewdas is famed for its satirical takes on UK Jewish communal life, and its thoughtful and humorous political and religious resources. 

Those attempting to discredit this group on the grounds that they are left wing should read Article 10 of the Human Rights Act. They should also consider that it is always under the conditions of political intolerance, right wing authoritarianism, and a toxic culture of discrediting and persecuting political opposition, that the conditions for a divided society and the growth of social prejudices arise.

The Nazis – who, despite the title they adopted to win working class votes – were right wing authoritarians, who brutally murdered socialists, trade unionists, anarchists, disabled people, as well as Jewish people and other groups. Yet those groups are currently becoming increasingly divided in their fight for social justice, because of poisonous right wing political manoeuvering and the political exploitation of a very serious issue. As it is, the Labour party – her Majesty’s opposition – are now portrayed by the right as pathological – we have become political dissidents in what was once a democratic state.

Jewdas, who are a liberal, diversity-embracing group, say: “We campaign against fascism, and against antisemitism on the left and on the right, running workshops and creating educational materials to help other people and organisations do the same. (And we’ve been campaigning against antisemitism on the left since before it became ‘cool’.)

“We also participate in solidarity campaigns to support other oppressed minorities, including sustained pro-Palestine activism, interfaith events with the Inclusive Mosque Initiative, and yesterday’s rally at East London Mosque to counter the so-called #PunishAMuslimDay.

It was particularly galling to see the moderate Labour MPs use the communal fight to intentionally marginise and isolate left wing Jews from their own community.

The “moderates” didn’t like Corbyn’s meeting with this Jewish community in his constituency, and made a somewhat incoherent claim that meeting with the Jewish group somehow “dismisses” the case for tackling antisemitism:

Smith Jewdas

In a supreme act of discourtesy, Smith also refers to the Passover Seder as “seber”.

In 2016 Smith backed a vote of no confidence in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in events which led to a leadership election in which Corbyn was re-elected as leader.

John Woodcock, who is not a Jew, takes it upon himself to decide which Jewish groups are “mainstream”, apparently, and which are not.

Jon woodcock judas

Apparently, it was the “wrong” seder and engagement with the “wrong” Jews. Before the event was finished, Guido Fawkes (a trashy gossip-mongering, hard right wing blog) had posted about Corbyn’s meeting. 

Labour MPs of the “moderate” kind had condemned Corbyn’s Passover. Joined by the Jewish Board of Deputies, of course. And the usual suspects in the media, who not only come off as antisemitic, in their parsing of “good Jews” and “bad Jews” based on their political beliefs,  some even managed to insult people with their diversity blind comments about mental health status:

andrew neil antisemitic

I posted that comment, along with the one below from moderate supporter Dan Hodges, on Twitter, and asked the moderate MPs who express their “concern” about antisemitism, to actually condemn the antisemitic statements. I tagged the MPs in the post. 

Not a single one has condemned the comments made by two right leaning pundits. Yet the comments are very clearly antisemitic and also openly express political intolerance. 

Finally, here is a statement from the Jewish socialist community, which is not a view that you will see fairly represented in the right wing media, who are stage-managing our democracy and repressing the right to political expression from the left:

“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.”

Related

Left wing Jewish groups don’t agree with right wing ones, surprisingly enough

Promoting social solidarity is a positive way to address antisemitism and the growth of social prejudice

Antisemitism and the growth of prejudice and oppression in the UK

UKIP: Parochialism, Prejudice and Patriotic Ultranationalism

Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got an ‘antisemitism problem’. His opponents do – Jamie Stern-Weiner

 


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Left wing Jewish groups don’t agree with right wing ones, surprisingly enough

Image result for antisemitism

Parsing Jewish groups on the grounds of their political beliefs and preferences is deplorable. I have seen the right-slanted media going all out to discredit and denigrate left wing Jewish groups in particular this past few weeks. The general theme has been that Conservative Jews are “good” and left wing Jews are somehow “bad”. In their haste to portray the entire left of centre as dangerous “cultists” and “antisemites”, some of media commentators have inadvertently displayed their own antisemitism for all to see.

Antisemitism on any grounds is an affront in a so-called civilised and democratic country.  Abuse, discrimination and oppression directed at people because of their political beliefs is also contrary to our human rights legislation. Our freedom of expression – protected by Article 10 of the Human Rights Act – is fundamental to a functioning democracy. It means we’re free to hold opinions and ideas and share them with others without the State interfering – which is crucial to keeping our government accountable and transparent. 

Article 10 covers:

  • political expression – including peaceful protests and demonstrations.

The thing about human rights is that they apply to everyone. They would be pretty pointless if they only apply to Conservatives or Centrists. As it is, those of us who oppose neoliberalism are being targeted not only by Conservatives, but by the neoliberal faction within the Labour party. 

andrew neil antisemitic

Antisemitic comments from pundits that target left wing Jews

Over the last few weeks, I have witnessed abuse and experienced it myself from those on the right, and some of the so-called “moderates” in the Labour party. I have written about and campaigned against prejudice for a number of years, and discussed the dangers of a divided society where prejudice and discrimination are permitted to grow – including racism, antisemitism and other expressions of prejudice. These are issues I feel very strongly about. My support of the Labour party is based on principles of solidarity inclusion, equality, valuing diversity, mutual aid, and its antidiscriminatory, human rights-based policies.

I believe that when division and prejudice are permitted to grow within a society, many groups are systematically stigmatised – prejudice “multitasks”. These are invariably groups that have been traditionally marginalised from societies, and most vulnerable to political abuse – disabled people, Jewish people, other ethnic groups, poor people and those deemed to be political “dissidents”, among others. I belong to two of those groups.

In 2014, the UK witnessed the highest level of antisemitism since records began. It does not begin to address this serious problem when it is simply used as a political weapon by the right and centre to discredit the Labour party leader. That is not the same thing as saying there are no antisemitic Labour party members. I have witnessed antisemitism on the far left on two occasions over the last few years. The people concerned were actually Green party members. I challenged it and I always will. Where there are allegations of antisemitism made, the Labour party must be permitted to investigate those allegations and the evidence fairly. Once that is done, the party must then act.

In a world where people can set up fake accounts and troll groups to disrupt discussions, and discredit commentators, it is best to check if the allegations are also genuine. Having experienced this from trolls or shills on the far right and far left, I know that this happens. 

The accusations of “smearingare not a statement that antisemitism does not exist on the left. It exists throughout our society. That isn’t “whataboutery”, it’s an evidenced statement of fact. I am convinced that the antisemitism debate has been politically weaponised by the right and centrists because of the abuse I have experienced myself – including from the executive director of Progress.

Those left of centre – including Jewish groups – are also experiencing abuse in the mainstream media and on social media. If antisemitism in the Labour party was “rife” as the right are claiming, the left leaning Jewish groups would most certainly have been among the first to raise this serious issue. As it is, their accounts are being marginalised, discredited and stifled by the right. 

There has never been a more oppressive, dnagerously authoritarian culture within UK politics as there is right now.

Jewish opinions from the left

Many Jewish groups who are left wing have pointed out that their voices have been marginalised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and other right leaning groups.

The chair of the Jewish Voice for Labour group said on Radio 4’s Today programme:  “None of us in my group has ever experienced any antisemitism within the Labour Party.”

In an interview this morning ahead of Jeremy Corbyn’s meeting with the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, Jenny Manson said evidence of the “very worst” antisemitism “has always been” on the far-right.

Asked about Margaret Hodge’s comments, suggesting she had never known antisemitism in Labour to be as bad it was now, Manson said that Hodge would have been better advised to “go to the Labour Party rather than complain to the media about it”.

Dismissing claims that antisemitism was “rife” within the party, Manson said: “In my area I talk to other Jewish people in my acquaintance and that’s the general consensus.

“What we are saying is it is a misery and a tragedy that Margaret Hodge and other Labour MPs have received nasty antisemitic comments.

“I suspect most of these have been on social media and I suspect nobody has actually worked hard to find out who this nasty stuff is coming from.

“If they do I think it’s much better to go to the Labour Party than to complain to the media about it.”

Discussing Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts to deal with the issue, Manson added: “What we can’t have is a witchhunt. What the Board of Deputies and the JLC seem to be demanding far too often… is that people should be expelled from the Labour Party without due process.”

Manson also referred to a survey conducted by the Campaign Against Antisemitism group saying: “Evidence including very recent evidence commissioned by a Jewish body suggests the very worst antisemitism is still on the right, on the far right and always has been.”

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From The Jerusalem Post UK JEWISH LEADER: KINGMAKER DUP IS FRIEND OF THE COMMUNITY AND ISRAEL

Last year, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, told The Jerusalem Post that he and his colleagues met in Belfast with DUP leader Arlene Foster and the party’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds, whom he described as having been “exceptionally warm and friendly.”

The DUP has strong links to Protestant churches and is staunchly pro-Israel. It has also publicly stated its support for the Board of Deputies’ “Ten Commitments” – a part of its Jewish Manifesto that includes requests to parliamentarians regarding policy on issues that affect British Jewry.

The DUP defends Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom and takes a conservative approach to social issues. The party’s 10 seats would give May a fragile but workable partnership.

While Arkush said that an arrangement between the two parties would promote the UK’s strong friendship with Israel, he also noted that “May is clearly a strong friend of Israel and her authority and her government’s ability to govern has been weakened, so that is not something our community can take lightly.”

Back in 2016, it was reported that the British Jewish community responded angrily after Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Board of Deputies, publicly congratulated Donald Trump on his election win.

In a statement published on the Board’s website, Arkush said: “I would like to congratulate Donald Trump on his victory.

“After a divisive campaign, I hope that Mr Trump will move to build bridges and ensure that America’s standing as a beacon of progress, tolerance and free-thinking remains strong.”

Arkush’s statement sparked a wave of negative responses on social media. Aaron Simons was one of the first to respond to the announcement, and his reaction set the tone for much that followed:

Dr Ruvi Ziegler, law lecturer at the University of Reading, tweeted: “What does an organisation representing British Jewry congratulate this vile man endorsed by the KKK? #NotInMyName”

Rachel Wenstone, a former National Union of Students vice-president, responded: “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?! Why did you think this was at all necessary? You do know that you’re congratulating the KKK-backed candidate?”

Ivor Caplin, a former British Defence Minister and ex-MP for Hove, was personally critical of Mr Arkush, saying:  “Arkush should have kept quiet but he seeks publicity instead of reflecting concerns of Jews.”

Arkush did not escape criticism from fellow Board members.

I don’t think it’s @BoardofDeputies job to congratulate Donald Trump on his election, and I’m sure the Jewish community will agree with me”, said Tal Ofer, who is on the Board’s executive committee and defence division.

Other members echoed that sentiment:

Ella Rose@ellarachelrose
 
 
 

No words for how badly this statement is judged. I’m embarrassed to be a Deputy.

 

Board of Deputies of British Jews

@BoardofDeputies

President Jonathan Arkush congratulates Donald Trump – http://www.bod.org.uk/president-jonathan-arkush-congratulates-donald-trump/ 

The Republican’s final campaign advert before yesterday’s poll was widely criticised by Jewish groups for its alleged antisemitic overtones.

Jay Stoll – who is a member of the Jewish Labour Movement executive, said:

The Board has misjudged the anxieties that many have over the election of a racist demagogue to the highest office in the world. I not only question the necessity of the statement, but believe it is actively harmful to our relations with other faith groups who are deeply fearful of the election’s outcome.

“The Board should not be congratulating a candidate endorsed by a range of white supremacists, including the KKK, and it is mind-blowing that this even needs pointing out.”

More than 90 young British Jews had put their names to a letter addressed to Arkush, expressing their concern at the Board’s decision to congratulate Trump.

The letter was signed by members of the Board of Deputies including Amos Schonfeld, Liron Velleman and Ben Lewis, as well as members of the Jewish Labour Movement and workers from Jewish youth groups including Habonim-Dror, RSY-Netzer and Noam.

We do not welcome the ascendancy of Donald Trump and Mike Pence,” the letter said.

“We urge the Board of Deputies to retract their congratulations and show their support to American communities that have been targeted with Trump’s incendiary rhetoric throughout this campaign.

It is beneath contempt to congratulate a candidate who was censured by the ADL for using antisemitic tropes, who has enabled mainstream antisemitic abuse and who has secured the endorsement of the KKK and other white supremacists.

“This message of congratulations is contrary to our community’s best interests and is an affront to our ancestors and contemporaries who have stood against racism and fascism in all its forms.”

I posted this article on Twitter, with the comment that Jonathan Arkrush supports the DUP and Conservative coalition. I was immediately attacked by the executive director of Progress, Richard Angell, who ludicrously called me a “liar”, a “racist” and said the post was “whataboutery”. I did point out to him that the article wasn’t actually mine. I’ve also been called a”cultist”.  I have strongly opposed and campaigned against racism, antisemitism and other forms of prejudice, discrimination, exclusion and oppression for a number of years. There was nothing in my comment that was untrue or even remotely “racist”.

The “whataboutery” charge also doesn’t hold, since the political preferences of Arkrush are relevant in that they have some influence on his motivations and narrative. Pointing out someone’s political preference is in no way denying antisemitism. As it is, there are different, sometimes contradictory perspectives and narratives being presented from the left and right wing Jewish communities. Highlighting that does not mean I either endorse or deny antisemitism within the Labour party.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group statement – Oppose antisemitism and malicious accusations by supporters of the Tory Party says:

“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 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.”

The rest of the article is also worth a read. (Link above).

 

Related

Promoting social solidarity is a positive way to address antisemitism and the growth of social prejudice

 Institute for Jewish Policy Research – Antisemitism in contemporary
Great Britain

 


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Promoting social solidarity is a positive way to address antisemitism and the growth of social prejudice

Oppose antisemitism and malicious accusations by supporters of the Tory Party

Jeremy Corbyn addressing the huge rally at Cable Street 80 in 2016.

In 2014, the Guardian reported that “Antisemitism is on rise across Europe ‘in worst times since the Nazis.'” As far back as 2012, a survey conducted by the EU’s Fundamental Rights agency of some 6,000 Jews in eight European countries – between them, home to 90% of Europe’s Jewish population – found 66% of respondents felt antisemitism in Europe was on the rise; 76% said antisemitism had increased in their country over the past five years.

In the 12 months after the survey, nearly half said they worried about being verbally insulted or attacked in public because they were Jewish. It was commented on then that a process of normalisation, whereby antisemitism is being made somehow acceptable, was happening. 

In 2015, it was reported in the Guardian that antisemitic attacks in the UK were at highest level ever recorded. The Community Security Trust recorded 1,168 incidents against Britain’s Jewish population in 2014, more than double that of the previous year. 

There were extremely worrying reports of violence, property damage, abuse and threats against members of Britain’s Jewish population. The Community Security Trust, a Jewish security charity which runs an incident hotlinerecorded 1,168 antisemitic incidents  directed against Britain’s 291,000 Jews in 2014, against 535 in 2013 and 25% up on the previous record in 2009.

Theresa May, the home secretary at the time, described the figures as “deeply concerning” and “a warning to everyone to do more to stop antisemitism in Britain”, while Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said they were “appalling”.

In 2014, one in five of the incidents were threats or abuse on social media, fuelling claims that Twitter, among others, is not cracking down hard enough on hate-speech. In August, Luciana Berger, the shadow health minister, received a message on Twitter from a 21-year-old neo-Nazi, Garron Helm, that showed her with the Star of David on her head. It used the hashtag #Hitlerwasright and called her a “communist Jewess”. Helm was jailed for four weeks.

Berger was then bombarded with more than 2,500 hate messages tagged #filthyjewbitch. After Helm’s release, more antisemitic tweets began to emerge from his Twitter account. When Ed Miliband tweeted a link to his article about Holocaust Memorial Day, the user of the account tweeted back “Burrrn! lol”. 

Berger said she was horrified by the CST figures. “I know from the online hate campaign directed at me by neo-Nazis at home and abroad, that antisemites are using every digital platform to intimidate and harass Britain’s Jews,” she said. “Digital media companies, particularly Twitter, need to sharpen up their acts and move faster to remove accounts being used to spread and incite hate. To date, they have been too lax, and moved too slowly, allowing racists a free rein.”

Cooper called on “companies like Twitter to take stronger action against hate crimes on their platforms”. She outlined Labour’s hate-crime strategy which urged Twitter to speed up its removal of racist and antisemitic tweets, improve its communication of criminal activity online to the police, and prevent offenders simply restarting abuse from fresh accounts from the same IP address. 

That was in 2014. The same year I wrote an article about the dangers of nationalism and commented on the toxicity of socially divisive political and media rhetoric. I outlined the dangers of permitting far-right rhetorical flourishes to define and portray the putative “outsider” as an economic threat. This has been used to justify active political exclusion of the constitutive Other.

In 2016, I spoke at a psychology conference in Manchester about the dangers of neoliberal notions of competitive individualism, stigma, and the new era of political-economic scapegoating more generally. I spoke about how neoliberalism, as a totalising doctrine, embellishes our separability from other human beings. It profoundly seperates and alienates us. 

Neoliberalism scripts social interactions that are adversarialand hierarchical in nature, rather than social and cooperative. It is the antithesis of collectivism, mutual support, universalism, cooperation, solidarity and democracy. Neoliberalism has transformed our former liberal democracy into an authoritarian state that values production, competition and profit above all else; including citizens’ lives, experiences, wellbeing and social conditions. 

I have also written about the dangers of essentialising traditionally marginalised social groups, and  rise of eugenic policies more recently, critiquing notions of  politically constructed categories, such as an “employment resistant personality” and its easy elision with notions of “improving” the qualities of particular populations, copled with political concerns regarding the reproduction of people with “undesirable” qualities. The recent limiting of tax credit/universal credit support for children in poor families to two children, to “incentivise behavioural change”, has dangerous eugenic consequences.

Furthermore, such a eugenic approach has a profoundly damaging and reductionist focus on individuals, casting them as biologised neoliberal commodities, which obscures wider social problems, such as political-economic neglect, inequality, imbalanced power relationships, poverty, political exclusion, abuse and oppression. These attitudes are shaping social perceptions and relationships.

 

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120. Despite significant press and public attention on the Labour Party, and a number of revelations regarding inappropriate social media content, there exists no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party. We are unaware whether efforts to identify antisemitic social media content within the Labour Party were applied equally to members and activists from other political parties, and we are not aware of any polls exploring antisemitic attitudes among political party members, either within or outside the Labour Party. The current impression of a heightened prevalence of antisemitism within in the Labour Party is clearly a serious problem, but we would wish to emphasise that this is also a challenge for other parties.” 

The rise of antisemitism in our society prededated Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party. Yet this past week I have experienced abuse online – on Twitter in particular – on the basis of my political beliefs. I support Labour party policies. I do not support antisemitism. I challenge it. As someone who has written a lot about prejudice, discrimination and oppression more generally, and as someone who holds strong principles of internationalism, inclusion, equality and I also value and have a deep respect of diversity, I was deeply upset at being accused of being an “apologist”,  “complicit” with antisemitism, and of supporting a party where it is “rife”. 

If you point out that this is untrue, the next outraged accusation is that you are “in denial”, “evil”, “disgusting”  and that you “don’t care”. Many of these posts were directly aimed at linking Corbyn and Momentum with antisemitism. However, that does not address the antisemitism and the growth of prejudice, intolerance and oppression more generally in our society. It does nothing at all to ensure that everyone takes responsibility for challenging antisemitism, by passing it off as merely “Labour’s problem”. 

The growth of social prejudice, which was politically directed at traditionally targeted social groups, predated Momentum and Corbyn’s leadership. However, that does not mean that the Labour party has no responsibility in addressing these issues, both within its membership, and within wider society.

Abusing people because of intolerance and discrimination based on the political beliefs they hold does not address antisemitism, nor is it right to devalue the need to by directing prejudiceand hatred at those on the Left. People have a fundamental human right to hold political beliefs without being discriminated against. The right have been trying to pathologise legitimate democratic opposition for a long time now. The language they use is an attempt to discredit Her Majesty’s opposition, and impose a one party state.

Nothing contributes more to the rancor of political discourse than the indiscriminate use of political labels as partisan and prejudiced epithets. Terms and phrases like “cult”, “snowflake” ,”leftard”, “virtue signaler”, “Communist”, “Marxist” ,”Putin’s useful idiots”,  and of course recently, there is the irrational and guilt by association tag “antisemite” and “apologist” are being bandied about by pundits, politicians and those on the right (and some of the left wing neoliberals) more generally.

This oppressive language entailing the wide use of such terms of abuse, aimed at discrediting people on the grounds of their political beliefs, has become so normalised, that when you point it out, people cannot see it for what it is. The practice of labeling persons is dehumanising, it’s a way of dividing, outgrouping and turning human beings into an “it”. When labels are used as weapons to attack and discredit a person, a group, a politial movement, or ideas, they are insidiously irresponsible and repressive. They exploit base emotions and encourage a dangerous mindlessness that buries reason along with its victims.

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In the face of such profoudly toxic divisions in our society, it is worth remembering this. Jewish people, trade unionists, socialists and other groups once stood together, side by side, united in the battle of Cable Street, for example. In solidarity, they fought together against the growth of fascism in the UK.

Depiction of the Battle of Cable Street. 

Let’s also not permit other expressions of prejudice and oppression to be taken out of our collective history. It is important to remember the other victims of the Holocaust, too, who include disabled people, Roma people, socialists, communists, trade unionists, other political dissidents including anarchists, gay people, poor people, Polish people, Jehovah witnesses and Afro-Germans, as well as Jewish people, among other groups.

Living among us today remain Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. The Holocaust was an unparalleled atrocity, it mobilised global opinion against eugenics and antisemitism, powerfully stripping it of the terrible prejudice, discrimation and oppression status at its heart, that had been fostered in many European countries. But that does not mean it vanished. The more recent wave of antisemitism is expressed in slightly different language, but the prejudices and hatred behind the rhetoric are the same, which is plain to see.

It is not “whataboutery” – an attempt to deflect from one injustice by referring to the suffering of others – to discuss the rise and impact of social prejudice more generally, and to point to other social groups that have been politically marginalised and othered. There is no hierarchy among groups who are oppressed and persecuted. As I have said on many occasions, prejudice multitasks and grows. This was a point made only too well by Martin Niemöller, a German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor. He is best known for a widely-paraphrased statement, of which he made different versions, one of which is “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Socialist ...”. Pastor Niemöller understood the dangers and horror of bystander apathy.

Prejudice, discrimination and oppression is part of a political-social process that tends to affect more than one traditionally marginalised social group over time. 

In the UK, disabled people are also experiencing an unprecedented rise in experiences of hate crimes, discrimination and oppression. A United Nations inquiry, prompted by disabled people, verified that disabled people’s human rights have been systematically and gravely violated by the government, because of their extremely punitive policies and the systematic withdrawal of lifeline social security support. We live in fear for our future. Yet currently, we stand alone in our fight for justice, dignity and freedom. Yet the only way we can fight oppression is by standing together in solidarity to face it. 

The rise of antisemitism is a global phenomemon, and is directly linked to the rise of other forms of prejudice

The Jewish Socialists’ Group has expressed a 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. 

The group say: “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.”

The group goes on to say: “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.

Corbyn has spent his entire political life fighting all forms of prejudice, discrimination and oppression. We should all do the same.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett named the rise of the far Right in various countries, the refugee crisis and the Internet as major factors spurring an increase of antisemitic incidents around the world, as he presented the annual antisemitism report to the government in January, 2018.

In his opening comments, Bennett noted that while the number of violent antisemitic incidents recorded around the world decreased, the number of general antisemitic incidents had increased. “Antisemitism is the dangerous fuel feeding our enemies for generations,” he said. “We must ensure every Jew in the world can live a safe and proud life.”

“Also in 2017, we saw a strong antisemitic presence online,” Bennett said. “Much of this discourse was related to the changes in governments around the world, the refugee crisis and the visibility of antisemitism in social media. We must act with all available tools against current antisemitism to ensure the security of the Jewish People, in Israel and the Diaspora.”

Presenting the report ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was marked on January 27, the ministry highlighted the record number of antisemitic incidents recorded in the UK in the first half of 2017 – there was a 78% increase in physical attacks and a 30% increase in the number of overall antisemitic incidents.

The ministry also flagged the rise of the far Right in Germany and the influx of refugees to the country as factors that have negatively impacted the Jewish population. A study released in December by the American Jewish Committee’s Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations in Berlin found that antisemitism among Muslim refugees is rampant and requires urgent attention. A new edition of Adolf Hitler’s antisemitic manifesto Mein Kampf also became a bestseller in German bookstores in 2017, the report noted.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who attended the cabinet meeting, addressed the link between the far Right and antisemitism, noting that 15 years ago he proposed a method to distinguish antisemitism from legitimate criticism of Israel among the left, but today extremists from both sides of the political spectrum must be addressed.

Today we are witnessing a new and alarming phenomenon: The rise and emboldenment of right-wing political parties in Europe that profess support for Israel while supporting such antisemitic measures as outlawing circumcision and kosher slaughter, as well as historical revisionism of the Second World War and the rehabilitation of Nazi soldiers,” he said.

On the one hand, they proclaim that they stand with Israel, while on the other hand, they target and harm Jews. We see this in Austria, for example, where the local Jewish community has announced that it will boycott the official Holocaust commemoration ceremony in Vienna if ministers from the far-right Freedom Party attend the event. I have counted at least seven such political parties across Europe.”

We do not need and should not court such double-faced support, on either the right or the left,” Sharanksy said. “We must remain vigilant and not permit antisemitism to go without opposition and protest under the cover of convenient diplomatic stances or intercommunal bridge-building. I note both phenomena with alarm and demand that we do not play into the hands of antisemites, regardless of their political affiliations.”

The rise of the far right in the US was also flagged in the report, and specifically the violent “Unite the Right” rally, which was held in Charlottesville in last August.

The report also noted that the “continued increase of hate discourse among radical left-wing movements, which is mainly felt on college campuses.”

The picture in general in the US, is cause for concern. The Anti-Defamation League’s annual report on antisemitism released in November found that there was a 67% increase in antisemitic incidents across the US from January 1 to September 30, 2017, in comparison with the same period in 2016.

According to the FBI’s 2016 Hate Crime Statistics report, Jews, African Americans and Muslims are targeted more often than any other religious or ethnic group in the United States. The report found that more than half of the racially-motivated incidents in 2016, 54.2%, targeted Jews.

This figure is especially prominent in light of the low percentage of Jews in the US population,” the Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s report said. It also noted that the statistic was high when compared with attacks against other minorities: A quarter of the targets reported were Muslim, 4.1% were Catholic, 1.9% Eastern Orthodox and 0.5 Mormons.

Troubling statistics also emerged from Ukraine, with double the number of antisemitic incidents being recorded in comparison with the previous year, according to the report.

This included dozens of despicable acts of vandalism against memorials, museums and synagogues.

Additional findings highlighted by the ministry were extracted from a PEW survey conducted in 18 Central and Eastern European countries and published in May 2017. The ministry emphasized that the survey had found that 20% of citizens of those countries aren’t willing to accepting Jews as fellow citizens and 26% wouldn’t want Jews as neighbors. Only 42% would be willing to accept Jews as family. The attitudes expressed toward Muslims and Roma’s, were more negative.

About 57% of respondents said they would be willing to accept Roma’s as fellow citizens, 37% would be willing to accept them as neighbors and only 19% as family members.

Meanwhile, 65% would accept Muslims as citizens, 55% would accept them as neighbors and 27% as family.

My own thoughts and concerns about the growth of social prejudice more generally over this over the last few years summarised here. They are echoed by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who spoke the Park East Synagogue in New York City In January. The Secretary-General  warned against rising antisemitism and discrimination, saying that the world must “stand together against the normalization of hate.” Guterres spoke about the recent appearance of neo-Nazi groups and the violence they have espoused.

“They are less crude and more dangerous,” he said, adding that oftentimes, groups have tried to rebrand themselves so as to appear more gentle towards Jews.  White supremacist groups, for example, often tout their main cause as reaffirming “white culture” and “white pride,” but in doing so, vilify other ethnic groups, including Jews. 

“The neo-Nazi threat is growing,” he told the audience, which included Holocaust survivors. “Some still seek to deny or diminish the fact of the Holocaust.” 

Guterres added that now more than ever, organizations are using social media to rally groups that espouse hate. 

The UK government’s policies must lead by example and must be predicated on respect for human rights and the rule of law. We must also, as a nation, support those citizens around the world and within our country who are struggling for human dignity and liberty. That is what any civilised nation must do.

Many of our right wing politicians and pundits are so busy trying to discredit and demonise any person speaking from the Left that they fail to recognise their own profound antisemitism. Trying to discredit a left-leaning Jewish group on the basis of their political beliefs, is antisemitic. 

andrew neil antisemitic

 

 
“See the world through the eyes of society’s weakest members, and then tell anyone honestly that our societies are good, civilised, advanced, free.”  Zygmunt Bauman

With thanks to The Jerusalem Post for providing the information used in the second half of this article.

 

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UKIP: Parochialism, Prejudice and Patriotic Ultranationalism.

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Over the past four years, we have witnessed the political right using rhetoric that has increasingly transformed a global economic crisis into an apparently ethno-political one, and this also extends to include the general scapegoating and vilification of other groups and communities that have historically been the victims of prejudice and social exclusion: the poorest, unemployed and disabled citizens. These far-right rhetorical flourishes define and portray the putative “outsider” as an economic threat. This is then used to justify active political exclusion of the constitutive Other.

The poorest have been politically disenfranchised. Politically directed and constructed cultural and social boundaries, exclusionary discourses and practices create and define strangers. In Zygmunt Bauman’s analysis of the Holocaust, the Jews became “strangers” par excellence in Europe, the Final Solution was an extreme example of the attempts made by societies to excise the (politically defined) uncomfortable and indeterminate elements existing within them. Here in the UK, it’s evident that many citizens now feel like strangers in their own communities – they have been politically alienated. 

Definitions of citizenship and associated privileges have been reformulated and restricted here in the UK, and the current conservative neo-liberal framework of intensifying and aggressive competitive individualism is further motivated by far right reforms that embed social and economic Darwinism.

This has provided opportunity for UKIP and far right groups to become established as a populist part of the mainstream political conversation, the Tory rhetoric, founded on social divisions and established hierarchy, has created a space for UKIP’s subversive“insurgency”.

UKIP has an extremist appeal that is based entirely on fear-mongering, and attempts to shape and perpetuate hatreds, social group phobias and deliberate attempts at further undermining social cohesion. UKIP try to make this extremely divisive approach somehow “respectable”, (by the frequent use of phrases such as “we say what many think”, “we speak our minds” and  “it’s not racist to be worried about too many people coming here” are used to attempt to normalise and justify what are actually very objectionable, prejudice-laden opinions, for example) while offering nothing at all that might improve our living conditions and quality of life.

The right wing more generally tend to hold beliefs that some human lives have more worth than others. But when that view has been permitted to surface and become normalised in societies, it has historically led to atrocities.

UKIP is also manipulating an anti-politics, anti-establishment public mood. This is not just about gaining electoral success but in shifting the terms of debate. Farage admits that UKIP’s effect on the Tories is “psychological not numerical”. His success in this encourages the further right Tory backbenchers, encourages the populist strategies – wedge and dog whistle racism – of Lynton Crosby, as it forces political and media focus on right wing concerns, like welfare and immigration. Moral boundaries are being pushed in the UK.    

UKIP utilises, amplifies and perpetuates an increasingly poisonous climate of distrust and cynicism. UKIP manipulates public views and in particular, they perpetuate a myth that politicians of all colours are an out of touch elite that is far removed from, and largely unconcerned with, the everyday struggles of “ordinary people.”

UKIP make the mistake of portraying the entire political class as pampered elitistswhich is grossly inaccurate. While it’s true that the Conservative party most certainly can claim aristocratic membership, the same isn’t true of the Labour party. Furthermore, Farage, an ex-Tory public school boy (and Miliband attended a comprehensive school), an ex-stockbroker, with offshore tax havens and an considerable inclination for far right policy is hardly likely to be “in touch” with the man on the Clapham omnibus.

Although UKIP suffers from a chronic, persistent failure to appeal to three key groups of voters – women (because of the chauvinistic and anti-feminist views of UKIP members and politicians); young people (who find the party almost farcically out of touch with their own world-view) and ethnic minorities (because of its strident, extremely prejudiced and emotive language about immigration) UKIP does represent something of a “blue-collar revolt”- its electoral base is “old, male, working class, white and less educated,” say academics Matthew Goodwin and Robert Ford.

This would explain the strong anti-intellectual prejudice. Anti-intellectualism is a dominant feature of far-right politics – especially along the political spectrum of authoritarianism, totalitarianism and fascism. Nazism, despite the title “national socialists’ workers party”, was along the authoritarian far right of the political spectrum. The title was adopted to persuade the left wing working classes and trade unions to vote for the Nazis. Once in power, the Nazis murdered many trade unionists, socialists, communists and anarchists, among other political ‘dissidents’ on the left. The problem with populists is they tell lies. They manipulate and divide people to get their own way.

10403497_472514972893769_324031577992330978_n Anti-intellectualism and inverted snobbery from the patriotic nationalist and racist Britain First site on Facebook

The conservatives have parochialised both explanations of and responses to the global economic crisis. Parochialism entails neglect of the interests of identified “outsiders”, and this kind of isolationist tendency has also provided a political platform for nationalism. 

Parochialism tends to support inter-group hostilities, and it tends to lead to violations of human rightsParochialism directly opposes a fundamental set of principles that constitute these rights: namely that all humans beings are of equal worth, and that human rights are universally applicable – they apply to everyone.

The alternative perspective is Social Darwinism, which is used to justify a hierarchy of entitlement to rights. Modern eugenics was rooted in the Social Darwinism of the late 19th century, with all its metaphors of fitness, competition, and rationalisations of inequality. For progressives, eugenics was a branch of the drive for social improvement or perfection that many reformers of the day thought might be achieved through the deployment of science to “good” social ends. Eugenics, of course, drew appreciable support from Conservatives, concerned to prevent the “proliferation” of lower income groups and save on the cost of providing welfare support for them. The Tories always seem to forget that social security is publicly funded, however. 

The progressives progressed. They ceased to believe that progress was about advancing the human race by physical “improvement” – that kind of supremacist view was a product of its time – context bound by a cumulatively catastrophic zeitgeist. Progressives liberated themselves from the superficial characteristics and taxonomic ranking of human beings – the emphasis on “what” we are – and began to cherish “who” we are, delving into our human potential and celebrating our diversity as much as our individual equal worth.

Although eugenics programmes are usually associated with Nazi Germany, they could, and did, happen everywhere They focused on manipulating heredity or breeding to produce “better” people and on eliminating those considered biologically inferior. In the 1920s and 1930s eugenic sterilisation laws were passed in 24 of the American states, in Canada, and in Sweden. Here in the UK, Malthus saw overpopulation as the cause of misery and poverty, which was drawn from an element of Darwinism that contributed to the devaluing of human life, due to its stress on the struggle for existence and competition for resources. 

Eugenic doctrines were criticised increasingly during the inter-war years, on scientific grounds and for their class and racial bias, and were attacked widely when the eugenics narrative and role in the holocaust was revealedHuman rights evolved in response to the Holocaust, to ensure that the atrocity of genocide doesn’t happen again. Human rights are premised on the belief that all human lives are of equal value. That is why those rights apply to everyone, that was the whole point of them, and to exclude people on whatever basis from enjoying those rights is to stray onto a very dangerous slippery slope in terms of recognising the equal worth of other human beings. Again. But here we are. 

The concept of adaptation remains, and allows the right to claim that the rich and powerful are better adapted to the social and economic climate of the time, and the concept of natural selection perpetuates the supremacist argument that it is natural, normal, and proper for the strong to thrive at the expense of the weak. 

British and American imperialists employed the language of Social Darwinism to promote and justify Anglo-Saxon expansion and domination of other peoples. Such different personalities as Machiavelli, Sir Francis Bacon, Ludwig Gumplowicz, Adolf Hitler, and Benito Mussolini, each reasoning on different grounds, nevertheless arrived at similar conclusions. Imperialism to them is part of the natural struggle for survival. Those endowed with “superior” qualities are “destined” to rule all others. Imperialism has been morally excused as the means of liberating peoples from tyrannical rule or of bringing them the benefits of a ‘superior’ way of life. Imperialism is all about human aggressiveness and greed, the search for security, the drive for power and prestige and nationalist emotions, among other things.

Nationalism is anti-progressive. It’s a paradigm of competitive individualism that further undermines principles of cooperation, community, equality and social cohesion. It’s also a recognisable symptom of the rise of fascism. The UKIP brand of Parish pump politics nurtures fear, spite and vilifies people on the basis of one of our most wonderful assets: our human diversity.

Ordinary people did not caused the financial crisis. The real culprits are sat untouched in mansions, making even more money from the “austerity” imposed on the most vulnerable citizens, while too many comply with misdirected blame of their oppressed brothers and sisters, rather than a political elite that have deliberately engineered a prolonged recession in the UK, and continue with a programme of radical social engineering. Conservative governments always do.

Our current social hardships have been created by this government’s policies and not powerless immigrants, disabled people or those who are unemployed. These are people whose lives are being broken by a ruthless elite.

The answer to our problems isn’t making the rest of the world go away, it isn’t bigotry and “national pride” – we surely learned those are not tenable answers from the terrible consequences of Nazism. Dividing people by using blame and prejudice only weakens our opposition to oppression.

UKIP, however, have capitalised on the current government’s lack of clear, open and honest debate about why the UK has become more unequal and anomic (anomie – a sociological concept – is the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community resulting in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values. This has been heightened by a significant discrepancy between Conservative ideology – rhetorical values commonly professed – and what is real, actual and achievable in our everyday life).

UKIP have exercised a crass manipulation of those who are existentially destabilised: many people are confused and anxious about where they belong, where their country is heading, and why the current government won’t do anything about it. Of course Farage denies vigorously that in giving these anxieties a directed voice they are merely acting as outlets for prejudice and faux protest votes. But prejudice, protest and a politics of fear is nevertheless UKIP’s theme.

And farce. Like the UKIP councillor blamed the recent floods on the Government’s decision to legalise gay marriage. David Silvester said the prime minister had acted “arrogantly against the Gospel,” and God had punished the Thames Valley as a result. And John Sullivan, a UKIP candidate, explained that physical exercise in schools can “prevent homosexuality”.

Farage says he represents such “ordinary people”. As I stated earlier, he is an ex-Tory, a public school-educated former banker and stockbroker, whose policies will help him and his kin, in maintaining the status quo, while presenting a fake challenge to the establishment. He set up a trust fund in an offshore tax haven, in a bid to avoid paying thousands of pounds in tax money. So UKIP are a “protest vote” for pretty much more of the same. It’s a despicable con. 

Farage claims he is the voice of “common sense”, while having allegiance with every kind of homophobic, wild conspiracy theorist, misogynist, racist, chauvinist, classist, peevish, vindictive and resentful inadequate. The only sense he and his followers seem to have in common is a fear of anyone who is not like them. 

Farage disowned the entire 2010 UKIP manifesto – and not in the transparent manner of an honest politician admitting to past mistakes. Instead, he pretended he knew nothing of his party’s promises for a dress code for taxi drivers and a state-enforced repainting of the nation’s trains in traditional colours. Imagine if anyone else in public life said that a document they had put their name to, and claimed ownership of, was “drivel” and tried to avoid awkward questions by pretending that it had never been read. 

“Our traditional values have been undermined. Children are taught to be ashamed of our past. Multiculturalism has split our society. Political correctness is stifling free speech”, states the UKIP manifesto. Their “Pocket Guide to Immigration” promises to “end support for multiculturalism and promote one, common British culture”. After attracting some negative publicity, it has disappeared from here, but an archived version can be seen here

Bigots quite often seem to use the freedom of speech plea to justify their prejudice. They say they have a right to express their thoughts. But speech is an intentional ACT. Hate speech is intended to do harm – it’s used purposefully to intimidate and exclude vulnerable groups. Hate speech does not “democratise” speech, it tends to monopolise it. Nor is it based on reason, critical thinking or open to debate. Bigotry is a crass parody of opinion and free speech. Bigots are conformists – they tend not to have independent thought. It’s prejudice and Groupthink.

Being inequitable, petty or prejudiced isn’t “telling it like it is” – a claim which is an increasingly common tactic for the right, and particularly UKIP – it’s just being inequitable, petty or prejudiced.  And some things are not worth saying. Really. We may well have an equal right to express an opinion, but not all opinions are of equal worth. And UKIP do frequently dally with hate speech. Hate speech generally is any speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of e.g. race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. If we permit hate speech to flourish, history has already informed us that it ultimately leads to violence, murder and genocide.

In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. Critics have argued that the term “hate speech” is a contemporary example of Newspeak, used to silence critics of social policies that have been poorly implemented in order to appear politically correctThis term was adopted by US Conservatives as a pejorative term for all manner of attempts to promote multiculturalism and identity politics, particularly, attempts to introduce new terms that sought to leave behind discriminatory baggage attached to older ones, and conversely, to try to make older ones taboo.

“Political correctness” arose originally from attempts at making language more culturally inclusive. Critics of political correctness show a curious blindness when it comes to examples of Conservative correctness. Most often, the case is entirely ignored or censorship of the left is justified as a positive virtue. Perhaps the key argument supporting this form of linguistic and conceptual inclusion is that we still need it, unfortunately. We have a right-wing logocracy, creating pseudo-reality by prejudicial narratives, phrases and words. We are witnessing that narrative being embedded in extremely oppressive policies and in their justification rhetoric.

The negative impacts of hate speech cannot be mitigated by the responses of third-party observers, as hate speech aims at two goals. Firstly, it is an attempt to tell bigots that they are not alone. It validates and reinforces prejudice.

The second purpose of hate speech is to intimidate a targeted minority, leading them to question whether their dignity and social status is secure. In many cases, such intimidation is successful. Furthermore, hate speech is a gateway to harassment and violence. (See Allport’s scale of prejudice, which shows clearly how the Nazis used “freedom of speech” to incite hatred and then to incite genocide.)

As Allport’s scale indicates, hate speech and incitement to genocide start from often subtle expressions of prejudice. The dignity, worth and equality of every individual is the axiom of international human rights. International law condemns statements which deny the equality of all human beings. This process advances by almost inscrutable degrees. The public become bystanders, because they don’t fully understand what is happening. Until a group is attacked. Someone is murdered. Then someone else.

Article 20(2) of the ICCPR requires states to prohibit hate speech. Hate speech is prohibited by international and national laws, not because it is offensive, but rather, because it amounts to the intentional degradation and repression of groups that have been historically oppressed.

The most effective way to diffuse prejudice is an early preventative approach via dialogue: education and debate. Our schools, media and public figures have a vital part to play in positive role-modelling, in challenging bigotry, encouraging social solidarity, respect for diversity and in helping to promote understanding and empathy with others.

Hate speech categories are NOT about “disagreement” or even offence. Hate speech doesn’t invite debate. It’s about using speech to intentionally oppress others. It escalates when permitted, into harassment and violence. We learned this from history, and formulated human rights as a consequence. UKIP would have us unlearn the lessons of the Holocaust so that people can say “I’m not being  racist, but…” or “It’s not wrong to say immigrants should be sent home…” and so on.

There are recognisable effects of social norms and conformity on preudice: Minard (1952) investigated how social norms influence prejudice and discrimination. The behaviour of black and white miners in a town in the southern United States was observed, both above and below ground.

Results: Below ground, where the social norm was friendly behaviour towards work colleagues, 80 of the white miners were friendly towards the black miners. Above ground, where the social norm was prejudiced behaviour by whites to blacks, this dropped to 20.

Conclusion: The white miners were conforming to different norms above and below ground. Whether or not prejudice is shown depends on the social context within which behaviour takes place. See also Milgram experiment on conformity – Milgram showed that people tend to conform, in groups and defer to authority even when it means behaving immorally. It’s very depressing reading, but it’s important to recognise the role of conformity and obedience in the genocides we’ve witnessed, and Allport’s work is also important here too. Asch came up with more optimistic results, showing that an objection from just one  person could change the behaviour of the whole group.

And that’s our responsibility, surely.

UKIP are not simply a collective of classist, sexist, xenophobes and  homophobes: they are omniphobes. Political has been reduced to simplistic, crude dichotomies which provoke arguments instead of rational debate, the populist themes trade on fear, and fear provokes strongly emotive responses. You can’t reason with those, they don’t lend themselves well to rational discourse.

I am so appalled and horrified at the public stage that UKIP and other far right groups have gained, at how the right generally have pushed back our boundaries of decency and rationality and are cultivating prejudice and fear towards politically constructed Others, which share common themes with Nazi ideology, and worse, some people don’t see these terrifying connections. The poorest and most vulnerable citizens are being turned into Outsiders by both the Conservatives and UKIP. And that is NOT okay.

Disabled people are dying because of Conservative neoliberal policies. The public and much of the media  seem to be looking the other way

Farage demands that “We want our country back.” So do I. But my vision is very different to the shrunken patriotic neo-imperialism of Farage. No one hates his own country more that the resentful nationalist – and how they complain that  “Things ain’t what they used to be”.

My country is multicultural, rich and diverse, it is one that has learned from history and evolved. It is founded on progress and civil rights movements, past battles of the oppressed fought and won – our hard-earned freedoms to be who we are without fear.

We have a government that reduces benefits so that poorly paid workers can feel a little better about being so poorly paid. It’s a government that is all about lowering standards, and crucially, our expectations, and our regard of each other. So much mean spirited resentment has been kindled and perpetuated by the Coalition among the oppressed, redirected and aimed at the oppressed.

I recognise political themes of oppression and repression, and it is NOT okay. How can anyone think it is?

This governments’ schadenfreude – motivation for the vindictive policies that we’ve seen this past 4 years, which target the most vulnerable citizens most of all, is debated. Some people believe that the policies are a consequence of a redistribution of wealth from the poorest to the wealthy rather than being malicious acts. But the Tories laughed on hearing the accounts of suffering of the poorest people because of the bedroom tax and the food banks in parliament, for all to see.

But entertaining the idea for a moment that the inflicted suffering isn’t a motivation but a consequence, well that would make the Government at the very least indifferent, callous and unremorseful, since they show a supreme lack of concern for the plight of those least able to defend themselves against injustice and inflicted poverty.  

The shock and anger at the recognition that all of those principles and beliefs we held dear – such as justice, fairness, cooperation, democracy, freedom, government accountability, equality (at least in terms of the worth of each life), institutionalised philanthropy – all trodden under foot by this Social Darwinist aristocratic elite in just 4 years. And the faith we each had in those collective ideals undermined by the constant perpetuation of divisive and hateful propaganda tactics from the right wing.

Dividing people by using blame and prejudice only weakens our opposition to oppression.

We must each take some responsibility and work to put right the terrible mistakes and inhumane acts that we’ve allowed to be written into our collective history. Our starting point must be founded on an egalitarian doctrine that maintains that all humans are equal in fundamental worth and social status. We have to learn and evolve.

If we remain silent and indifferent, if we look the other way, that makes us complicit in a growing evil.164204381

 

We can forgive children who are afraid of the dark, the real tragedy of life is when men and women become afraid of the light.

Related

DEFINING FEATURES OF FASCISM AND AUTHORITARIANISM 

Nigel Farage schooldays letter reveals concerns over fascism

Techniques of neutralisation: Cameron says keep calm and carry on climbing Allport’s ladder

Winston McKenzie, organiser for UKIP, Croydon, defending normalisation and legitimisation of racism and racist language in the UK. Radio 4 PM, discussion with Sunny Singh; Friday May 23rd, 2014.

Remarkable linguistic bullying, from McKenzie and a Godwin’s law type of approach to the word ‘racism’, which UKIP seem to have adopted to shut down critical debate about racism. Racism and other forms of prejudice are normalised gradually, almost inscrutably and in stages, as Allport’s ladder demonstrated all too well as an explanation of how the Holocaust happened. Allport describes social processes, and how the unthinkable becomes acceptable, by a steady erosion of our moral and rational boundaries.   The prejudice happens on a symbolic level first – language – and it starts with subtlety, such as the use of phrases like ‘immigrants “swamping” our shores’ in the media, as part of political rhetoric and so on. Racists very seldom own up to being racists. They also quite often employ linguistic bullying strategies that makes challenging them very difficult. But as history has taught us, we must challenge them.

 

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