Israel, Islamism and Palestinian ideology

 
















    

 

Introduction
Palestinians: harsh realities [to right]
Democracies and warfare: harsh realities [to right]
Misunderstanding moderate Muslim society
Banning extremist speakers
The Hamas Charter: timidity and intimidation
Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D Roosevelt and the IDF
Human Rights Watch
Blockades of Gaza, Cuba, boycotts of Israel, US
Efraim Karsh: 'What occupation?'
Jeff McMahan: a philosopher goes to war
Bombardment: killing and the prevention of killing
Palestinian society: an illustrated indictment
    On the streets of Gaza (animal abuse, other abuses)
    Palestinian media
    Financial support for terrorists
    Suicide bombing and 'Nazi, genocidal Israelis'
    Homosexuality
    Holocaust denial and a 'war crime'
Gaza: starvation and obesity
Sentimentality and distortion
Freedom and partial freedom
Practical information
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and its Index
Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign: days of rage
The Showroom cinema and 'The Green Prince' 
Some pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel people: introduction
     Academics  CU- Cambridge University.
      KU - Kingston  LSE - London School of Economics             MU - Manchester RH - Royal Holloway, London
      SHU - Sheffield Hallam  SU - Sheffield
     Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead (LSE): the Ship of Fools
     Dr Ian Patterson (CU): 'Is he in his right mind?'
     Dr Jason Scott-Warren (CU) shouts 'Out! Out! Out!'
     Drs Sebastian Nye, Lorna Finlayson (CU): signing on
     Dr Andrew Zurcher (CU), selective  libertarian
     Dr J. Wallace, Mr M. Golding (CU): student critics
     Dr A.Takriti (SU): historian, censor, slogan shouter
     Dr Paul Kelemen (MU) and a Moral Megalopolis
     Dr John C Smith (KU) on racism and imperialism
     Dr Dick Pitt (SHU), blogger and debater
          Others
     Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield Cathedral
     MP's: Paul Blomfield, Louise Haigh, Clive Betts
     Greta Berlin and Charlie Hebdo
     A confused dreamer
     The Quaker Gordon Ferguson: not totally harmless
     Antony Loewenstein and accuracy
     Vittorio Arrigoni and Kayla Mueller, hostages
     Ethical Consumer Magazine
Links  

See also, since there are significant linkages between Irish nationalist ideology (the British allegedly the worst exploiters) and Palestinian ideology (the Israelis allegedly the worst exploiters):

Irish nationalist ideology
 
and  the pages

Ethics: theory and practice
Religions and ideologies

Supplementary material below is in italics

Introduction

The world is and always has been been harsh and dangerous.  There are many anti-Israel campaigners who promote the view that the contemporary world is harsh and dangerous for one reason above all others - Israeli policies and actions. This is a view which shamelessly distorts and falsifies. Unfortunately for the Israeli cause and the defenders of Israel, unfortunately for truth, unfortunately for clear thinking, unfortunately for moral values, Palestinian society has one undeniable advantage: an instinct for self-publicity, an instinct for exploiting the feelings of  many non-Palestinians who would like to identify with an exotic society about which they know not nearly enough.

Alan Dershowitz has written well on the allure of violence and the rewards of violence. This is from an article of his published in the 'Jerusalem Post'  

' ... terrorism has proved to be a successful tactic.  It works.  That’s why ISIS engages in it.  That’ why Al Qaeda engages in it.  That’s why Boko Haram engages in it.  That’s why the Taliban engages in it.  And that’s why Hamas engages in it.

'Compare the visibility and success of groups that employ terrorism as the main tactic for responding to their grievances, with comparably aggrieved groups that reject terrorism. [He gives the Tibetans as one example] Hamas is more popular than ever among Palestinians following their kidnapping and murder of three Israeli schoolchildren, their brutal slaughter of the Fogel family, and their deployment of rockets and tunnels against civilians from civilian areas.  The same is true of Hezbollah.  

'Now comes ISIS which is quickly becoming the terrorist group of choice for disaffected radicals, because their brutality is now in the headlines.'

Palestinians aren't to be equated with Nazis (the fact that so many Palestinians equate Israelis with Nazis is grossly stupid, based on ignorance of history or the deliberate ignoring of historical fact and is one reason why Palestinian society is grossly deficient) and so some words of the German general von Runstedt are quoted simply for their obvious good sense, for once. After D-day, when German forces faced  superior forces in Normandy, von Rundstedt advised, 'Make peace you fools!' the loose translation of 'Schluss mit dem Krieg, Idioten!' Good but abrupt and abrasive advice to the Palestinians would have been 'Make peace you fools!' at an early stage in the recent fighting (and earlier fighting)  when damage to Gaza was much lighter and the loss of life and the material damage were much less. But harsh realities have no meaning for all too many Palestinians - and their supporters.

Radical Islamism has been devastating in its damage, including the loss of human freedoms as well as the loss of so many lives. Nazism and communism were assaults on freedom too, but have been responsible for far greater loss of life. The highest death tolls occurred in Stalinist Russia, Mao Zedong's China and in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Estimates of the total deaths inflicted by communist regimes range from 85 to 100 million.

Gunnar Heinsohn, the director of the Raphael-Lemkin-Institut für Xenophobie- und Genozidforschung at the University of Bremen has compiled statistics to rank conflicts since 1948 by the number of deaths incurred.

These are the first 14 entries in the list, showing the leading causes of death in conflict.

1. 40,000,000 China, 1949-76
2. 10,000,000 Soviet Bloc: late Stalinism, 1950-53; post-Stalinism, to 1987
3. 4,000,000 Ethiopia, 1962-92
4. 3,800,000 Zaire (Congo-Kinshasa): 1967-68; 1977-78; 1992-95; 1998-present
5. 2,800,000 Korean war, 1950-53
6. 1,900,000 Sudan, 1955-72; 1983-2006
7. 1,870,000 Cambodia: Khmer Rouge 1975-79; civil war 1978-91
8. 1,800,000 Vietnam War, 1954-75
9. 1,800,000 Afghanistan: Soviet and internecine killings, Taliban 1980-2001
10. 1,250,000 West Pakistan massacres in East Pakistan (Bangladesh 1971)
11. 1,100,000 Nigeria, 1966-79 (Biafra); 1993-present
12. 1,100,000 Mozambique, 1964-70 (30,000)
13.1,000,000 Iran-Iraq-War, 1980-88
14. 900,000 Rwanda genocide, 1994

If the list is extended back to the twentieth century, then the 'context' becomes even clearer but even more difficult to bear.

Estimates for the death toll during the Stalinist era vary very much, but 20 million is a not too-conservative estimate.

Estimates for the death toll during the Second World War are about 50 million.

At some periods in history, some Christians have been active persecutors, active torturers, active killers and active in suppressing human freedoms, although not remotely on this scale. But whereas Nazi, communist and the lesser Christian excesses are largely in the past, the excesses of radical Islamism are current and pose an immediate threat.

If one state (or would-be state) is in conflict with another, the decision as to which  to support is very easy if one of them  is immensely preferable to the other, unless support brings very great risks and very great disadvantages. The decision is unaffected by the fact that a vastly more civilized state which goes to war may often wage war ruthlessly, often using some of the  methods of the vastly less civilized state. States which wage war using barbaric methods at all times can't be regarded as more civilized states, of course. Barbaric methods aren't necessarily methods which lead to many, many civilian casualties. The accepted humanitarian legislation for the conduct of war accepts many civilian casualties, mass civilian casualties, in some circumstances, just as it permits the use of such horrific weapons as flame-throwers. I don't give here the reasons why Great Britain whilst the Nazis held power in  Germany was a vastly more civilized state than Nazi Germany, but Nazi Germany's practice of genocide is obviously one of the reasons, and Nazi Germany's aggression against Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium and other states.

Present day requirements for a civilized state include the rule of law, a free press, absence of torture (not counting very occasional abuses), few or no executions. Not too many states in the distant past would have qualified as civilized: judicial torture was used in German states during the time of Bach, as was generally the case in Europe at the time.  England at the time of the 'bloody code' executed very, very often.

When a state goes to war for such contrasting ends as to protect civilized values and for national survival, then the state of war is liable to lead to understandable changes, such as a press which is less free, and very drastic changes, such as the British policy of area bombing during the Second World War - the deliberate targeting of civilians and their housing. The bombing of Dresden is the best known example, although the policy was followed much more generally.

The bombing of Dresden and other German towns and cities was not a 'war crime' which showed that Britain was 'no better' than Nazi Germany. At all times, policies and actions have to be considered not in abstraction but as embodied. The accusation of a war crime may abstract the act from the reasons for the act, the times in which the act was carried out. Subtraction is allowable, but not cancellation. The policy of area bombing didn't 'cancel out' the British moral superiority, although it did diminish British moral authority - the moral authority of the ones responsible for the decision to employ it, not in the least the moral authority of the bomber crews, heroic men whose qualities have been recognized but who deserve wider recognition still.

Faced by obvious blunders and defects, my first recourse is to ask, is there any compensating evidence, are there any  their any  obvious successes and virtues? The BBC's coverage of Gaza has been biased, superficial and shameful, but the BBC's immense strengths aren't always missing. On one evening, there was a  ridiculously bad report on a Palestinian solidarity march for Gaza, against Israel (this was the news programme 'Look North,' for Yorkshire, so viewers in other parts of the country were spared this particular simplistic propaganda piece, even if not  simplistic propaganda pieces on their own regional news programmes, and the national news programmes). It made the false claim that anyone with any compassion would be bound to endorse the objectives of the march. In fact, the march had a false agenda, based on flagrant distortion. Later that evening, there was a programme on the British bombing campaign and the Lancaster bomber which took account of drastic choices and hideous moral dilemmas. The BBC has strengths in military history, which demands strengths in compassionate realism, and not just the history of the bombing campaign. Recommended, another film about the bombing campaign,  Bomber Boys by Colin and Ewan McGregor.

See also some further  comments of mine on the British bombing campaign during World War 2.

I make every attempt to be fair-minded. My critical page on feminism includes a section, 'Friendly fire and hostile fire' where I criticize some anti-feminist sites. There can be no guarantee whatsoever that supporters of Israel can never be deeply mistaken. This was the case when supporters of Israel were successful in calling for the cancellation of a conference at Southampton University. Professor Geoffrey Alderman of Buckingham University writes well about this blunder, as about the far worse blunders and deficiencies of anti-Israel activists,  in an article published in 'The Jewish Chronicle' (April 8, 2015)

http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/columnists/133640/an-own-goal-southampton

'As a research-orientated academic I receive many invitations to present conference papers. Last October one was forwarded to me from the University of Southampton, inviting expressions of interest in making presentations to a conference to be held in mid-April 2015 entitled "International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism." As it happened, I already had some material prepared (originally for inclusion in a submission I had already made to the UN Human Rights Council) that seemed to me ideally suited. So I contacted the conference organisers and was pleased that my proposal - to address the conference on the subject of "Jews, Judaism and the Jewish State: Ethnic Rights and International Wrongs" - was accepted.

'What I proposed to argue was that under international law and in principle ethnic Jews have the right of settlement throughout the area of Mandate Palestine west of the Jordan River (including what is known as the West Bank), that this right extends to Jews whether or not they are citizens of the state of Israel, but not to Israeli citizens who are not ethnically Jewish, and that the state of Israel has a legal obligation to take any step and all steps necessary to uphold this right. Now it appears that I may not have the opportunity to make this presentation because, following feverish lobbying by a miscellany of Jewish interests, and some threats of physical disruption, the university authorities at Southampton have unilaterally ordered the conference to be cancelled.'

Links to all Geoffrey Alderman's articles in the 'Jewish Chronicle,' which comment on Israeli affairs and give a cogent defence of Israel:

http://www.thejc.com/user/posts/5

His Website:

http://www.geoffreyalderman.com/

Misunderstanding moderate Muslim society

A video which will astonish many people. It will correct some common misunderstandings of moderate Muslim society, even if many people in moderate Muslim society disagree strongly with the speaker's opinions, and   even if the title given to the film is pitiful: 'Muslims Admit That ALL Muslims are Sexist, Homophobic Murderers.'  I criticize the over-use and misuse of words such as 'homophobic,' 'sexist' and 'murderers'  but the content owes nothing to whoever posted the film. The speaker  claims to describe the attitude of  Moslems he describes as non-radical and non-extremist to issues as different as separation of men and women at Islamic events and stoning to death.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jivSU139eLw

The speaker says, 'Everyone in the room. How many of you are normal Muslims, you're not extremists, you're not radical, just normal Sunni Muslims. Please raise your hands.'



'How many of you agree that men and women should sit separate? Please raise your hands.'



'How many of you agree that the punishments described in the Qur'an and the Sunna, whether it is death, whether it is stoning, for adultery, whatever it is, it is from Allah and his messenger, that is the best punishment ever possible for human kind, and that is what we should apply in the world? Who agrees with that?'




See also a film on 'Free speech' which is about gay people and Islam. The film takes a little time (about 45s) to reach the criticism and condemnation which are its most striking elements. The title of the film refers to 'Homophobic Muslim Women' and again, I object to the use of 'homophobic,' which means 'fearing homosexuals.' It's clear enough that it isn't  fear of homosexuals which is the dominant emotion.

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

From an article published in 'Harry's Place:'

On 20th June this year, Ghoncheh Ghavami had gone along to watch Iran’s national volleyball team play against the Italian side. In any normal country, this would have been a joyous event, but in Iran for Ghoncheh and other women it carried a risk. Women are not allowed to enter sports stadiums in Iran and watch men play sports like football or volleyball.

'Ghoncheh and some other women, who had seen this as an opportunity to protest against this discrimination against Iranian women, were arrested. They were later released on the same day after signing a pledge not to engage in such actions again. Their personal belongings however were kept by the security forces for further examination.

'Ten days later, Ghonche went to collect her personal belongings but was arrested again. Security agents then searched her house and collected more of her belongings. Ghoncheh was transferred to the notorious Evin prison and spent 41 days in solitary confinement. Although her interrogation is reportedly now finished, they have extended her detention by another 2 months.'

What are the factors which make opposition to this blatant injustice more likely to be effective? I give no arguments against the people who would consider it no injustice at all, but fully justified, I simply express my disgust. It might be easier to give some factors which make it less likely to be effective. Without allowing for obvious exceptions and himan inconsistency and unpredictability - people who insist that women must sit separately from men are less likely to oppose the imprisonment of someone who went to watch a segregated sporting event. And people who claim that the Palestinian territories have by far the most urgent claim on our attention and on our constructive action are less likely to support action in this case.

There are many, many other instances of injustice where the same convictions are likely to be a factor
This page draws attention to many common misunderstandings of Islam. For example, in the section on Dick Pitt, who is committed to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, I quote from one of my emails to him. He assumes that the attitude of Moslems to the Qur'an must be a selective and relaxed one, similar, perhaps, to the attitude of non-fundamentalist members of the Church of England,  with a selective and very relaxed attitude to the truth of the Bible - not so.

I'm astonished to read your observations on the Qur'an. Most contemporary Christians are non-fundamentalist – they do not believe that the whole of the Bible is the literal word of God. Christianity has undergone intellectual reforms which have transformed the outlook of most believers. You will find, as a matter of strict fact, that liberal Moslems, as well as radical Islamists, generally believe that the whole of the Qur'an is the literal word of God, or Allah. Those who believe otherwise aren’t regarded as Moslems at all.'

Anyone who fails to understand contradictions and paradoxes fails to understand human nature. There are convictions which are firmly held and inflexible, but these firmly held and inflexible convictions may be surprisingly pragmatic. Palestinians, and 'moderate' British moslems, may believe that sura 4:34, which advocates wife-beating, is, like all the suras in the Qur'an, is the literal word of God, without feeling the least need to implement it - although many, many Moslems do act upon it. Palestinians and 'moderate' British moslems may believe that people who leave Islam should be treated very harshly, by execution, perhaps, but give such low priority to the punishment that it is effectively forgotten. But there are Moslems who give high priority to the punishment and who have no hesitation in carrying out.

Banning extremist speakers

See also Comment: banning extremist speakers on the page 'About this site.'

Haitham Al-Haddad has defended the hitting of a wife, female genital circumcision, the execution of apostates from Islam, called for the outlawing of homosexuality and praised Osama bin Laden. In an article on the man, which concentrated on his hostility to homosexuality, Habibi concluded, 'No wonder many people just want Haddad stopped. Liberal it’s not. Understandable it is. They’ve had enough. (Articles in 'The Guardian' which make excuses for Islamism or minimize the threats from Islamism are likely to be followed by huge numbers of comments from people who have had enough.)

Raheem Kassam, the director of 'Student Rights,' which campaigns against extremism on campuses, has concluded, 'He is the epitome of illiberal views that should have no place on university campuses.' 'Student Rights' makes frequent calls for the banning of extremist speakers. On the site of 'Student Rights,' there's this, in connection with Adnan Khan, a speaker from Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT), due to speak at the School of Oriental and African studies in London.

 

'HT has been 'No-Platformed'  by the National Union of Students (NUS), which declared  that the group was "responsible for supporting terrorism and publishing material that incites racial hatred".

Meanwhile, the government has stated there is “unambiguous evidence to indicate that…Hizb-ut-Tahrir, target specific universities and colleges...with the objective of radicalising and recruiting students”.

'Khan has argued  apostates that “openly leave Islam, and choose to remain in the state” should face the death penalty, as this is “treason and a political attack”.

'He has also claimed that apostasy should be viewed as “a question of what kind of person would openly and publicly abandon Islam with full knowledge that they will be killed for it”.

'In the same book Khan also writes that “equality is not the basis of Islam and never has been in the history of Islamic jurisprudence. This is a term alien to Islam”.

'He will be joined at the event by SOAS student Mujahid Dattani, who has compared  Israeli actions to those of the Nazis - an anti-Semitic act in the definition  used by the Community Security Trust (CST). 

'That an activist from a ‘No-Platformed’ organisation has been invited to speak at this event should concern SOAS.

 

The views of Haitham Al-Haddad and Adnan Khan are loathsome and stupid and the view that they should be banned is plausible, but I don't think it's right. Surprisingly, Haitham Al-Haddad's  own Website allows freedom of expression. Contrary views are published and attempts are made to answer the criticism, even if the attempts are loathsome and stupid. He has to be given credit for this. These are two comments which were freely allowed


Mitchell

'The liberal principles cultivated in the West will not be sent to the moral mass grave of Islamic ‘values.’ We will not capitulate to unreasonableness, and we pride ourselves on the enlightenment values of Mill, Voltaire and Shelley. Alan Turing, Steven Fry, Douglas Murray.. these men are of solid moral fibre and to condemn how they love is to make a mockery of anything a decent religion would stand for. Churchill spoke of the retrograde nature of Islamism. Second class citizenship for homosexuals will not cut it. Your right to your opinion is there, but if you wish to flex your theocratic muscles, please do it to the tune of masturbating Ayotollahs and fawning Sheikhs, for you will not mobilise your totalitarian forces on the shores of rational, liberal democracy. I urge you to embrace the principles that built the World Trade Centre rather than the world-view that toppled it.'

Joe

'It’s people like you that cause tensions between muslim immigrants and nativesin the western world. People, including muslims, flock here from all over the world to benefit from our economic opportunity and freedom-and that is fine, and understanable. However, it is time for these people to realise that our prosperity is a direct result of the freedom we have to do, say, think, drink, smoke and sleep with whoever we like. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, if you want a state that represses and hates gays, go live in Iran. If you want to live in a nice house, plenty of food and no chance of getting your hands chopped off by the police, stay here but accept the life choices of others.

'Obviously, you are free to express your opinions just like I am (another one of the freedoms that make the western world so prosperous), but Islamic-Christian relations would be so much better if we had a few more Islamic preachers with the intelligence and maturity to respectfully disagree with other people’s life choices without calling them criminals.'

It's common for people not nearly as loathsome and stupid or not quite as loathsome and stupid or not loathsome and stupid at all to exclude all comments from the comments sections of their sites which are critical in the slightest.

The Hamas Charter: timidity and intimidation

The Hamas Charter (also known as the 'Hamas Covenant,' 'The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,' 18 August, 1988) should strip away many illusions about Hamas and help to explain the loathing felt by the majority of Israelis towards Hamas. I share this loathing myself.

Apologists for Hams who aren't radical Islamists are likely to find the document not at all to their liking, for very different reasons. Although there are many, many people who like their illusions, and find them very comforting, for this purpose illusions which encourage sentimentality are generally preferred. Not many people outside the Islamist circle would find the Hamas Charter in the least comforting. The Charter gives no support for sentimentality. This is a chilling document, one of those documents which is too important to be neglected by people with any interest in the conflict between Gaza and Israel but so off-putting as to be almost unreadable. Like many manifestations of radical Islamism, it intimidates, but there has to be a forceful rejection of timidity when confronted by intimidation.

The full text in English is available at the site of the Avalon Project of the Yale Law School.

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp

Extracts:

The Covenant begins:

'In The Name Of The Most Merciful Allah

'Ye are the best nation that hath been raised up unto mankind: ye command that which is just, and ye forbid that which is unjust, and ye believe in Allah. And if they who have received the scriptures had believed, it had surely been the better for them: there are believers among them, but the greater part of them are transgressors. They shall not hurt you, unless with a slight hurt; and if they fight against you, they shall turn their backs to you, and they shall not be helped. They are smitten with vileness wheresoever they are found; unless they obtain security by entering into a treaty with Allah, and a treaty with men; and they draw on themselves indignation from Allah, and they are afflicted with poverty. This they suffer, because they disbelieved the signs of Allah, and slew the prophets unjustly; this, because they were rebellious, and transgressed." (Al-Imran - verses 109-111).

'Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory.

The section 'Definition of the Movement: ideological starting points' contains thirty-six articles. Article six includes this:

'The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine ...
From Article Seven:

'The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders. It goes back to 1939, to the emergence of the martyr Izz al-Din al Kissam and his brethren the fighters, members of Moslem Brotherhood. It goes on to reach out and become one with another chain that includes the struggle of the Palestinians and Moslem Brotherhood in the 1948 war and the Jihad operations of the Moslem Brotherhood in 1968 and after.

'Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

' "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).'


This is Article Eight in its entirety. It endorses jihad:

'
Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.'

From Article Eleven, which amongst other things makes clear the status of Sharia law. When Hamas Chief of Staff Muhammad Deif said, 'Today you [sraelis] are fighting divine soldiers, who love death for Allah like you love life, and who compete among themselves for Martyrdom like you flee from death' he was faithfully following the principles of the Covenant.

'The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?

'This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.'

Anyone who believes that Hamas would like a peaceful resolution to the problems of the area will be disappointed - not if Hamas follows the Covenant.

This is Article Thirteen:

'Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion.

Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. "Allah will be prominent, but most people do not know."

'Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. Some accept, others reject the idea, for this or other reason, with one stipulation or more for consent to convening the conference and participating in it. Knowing the parties constituting the conference, their past and present attitudes towards Moslem problems, the Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realising the demands, restoring the rights or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Moslems as arbitraters. When did the infidels do justice to the believers?

' "But the Jews will not be pleased with thee, neither the Christians, until thou follow their religion; say, The direction of Allah is the true direction. And verily if thou follow their desires, after the knowledge which hath been given thee, thou shalt find no patron or protector against Allah." (The Cow - verse 120).


'There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with. As in said in the honourable Hadith:of Syria '

"The people are Allah's lash in His land. He wreaks His vengeance through them against whomsoever He wishes among His slaves It is unthinkable that those who are double-faced among them should prosper over the faithful. They will certainly die out of grief and desperation."

This is Article Fourteen, which, although it was written in the late twentieth century reflects  patterns of thought from very much earlier - the seventh century, in fact:

'The question of the liberation of Palestine is bound to three circles: the Palestinian circle, the Arab circle and the Islamic circle. Each of these circles has its role in the struggle against Zionism. Each has its duties, and it is a horrible mistake and a sign of deep ignorance to overlook any of these circles. Palestine is an Islamic land which has the first of the two kiblahs (direction to which Moslems turn in praying), the third of the holy (Islamic) sanctuaries, and the point of departure for Mohamed's midnight journey to the seven heavens (i.e. Jerusalem).

' "Praise be unto him who transported his servant by night, from the sacred temple of Mecca to the farther temple of Jerusalem, the circuit of which we have blessed, that we might show him some of our signs; for Allah is he who heareth, and seeth." (The Night-Journey - verse 1).

'Since this is the case, liberation of Palestine is then an individual duty for very Moslem wherever he may be. On this basis, the problem should be viewed. This should be realised by every Moslem.

'The day the problem is dealt with on this basis, when the three circles mobilize their capabilities, the present state of affairs will change and the day of liberation will come nearer.

' "Verily ye are stronger than they, by reason of the terror cast into their breasts from Allah. This, because they are not people of prudence." (The Emigration - verse 13).'

he opening of Article Fifteen, stressing jihad yet again:

'The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised. To do this requires the diffusion of Islamic consciousness among the masses, both on the regional, Arab and Islamic levels. It is necessary to instill the spirit of Jihad in the heart of the nation so that they would confront the enemies and join the ranks of the fighters.' Article Seventeen. A section supposedly on the Moslem woman turns out to contain mainly mad conspiracy theory|:

'The Moslem woman has a role no less important than that of the moslem man in the battle of liberation. She is the maker of men. Her role in guiding and educating the new generations is great. The enemies have realised the importance of her role. They consider that if they are able to direct and bring her up they way they wish, far from Islam, they would have won the battle. That is why you find them giving these attempts constant attention through information campaigns, films, and the school curriculum, using for that purpose their lackeys who are infiltrated through Zionist organizations under various names and shapes, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, espionage groups and others, which are all nothing more than cells of subversion and saboteurs. These organizations have ample resources that enable them to play their role in societies for the purpose of achieving the Zionist targets and to deepen the concepts that would serve the enemy. These organizations operate in the absence of Islam and its estrangement among its people. The Islamic peoples should perform their role in confronting the conspiracies of these saboteurs. The day Islam is in control of guiding the affairs of life, these organizations, hostile to humanity and Islam, will be obliterated.'

Conspiracy theory is continued with Article Twenty-Two, which includes very brief and, of course, deluded theories about the outbreak of the First and Second World Wars:

'For a long time, the enemies have been planning, skillfully and with precision, for the achievement of what they have attained. They took into consideration the causes affecting the current of events. They strived to amass great and substantive material wealth which they devoted to the realisation of their dream. With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.

'You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.

' "So often as they shall kindle a fire for war, Allah shall extinguish it; and they shall set their minds to act corruptly in the earth, but Allah loveth not the corrupt doers." (The Table - verse 64).

'The imperialistic forces in the Capitalist West and Communist East, support the enemy with all their might, in money and in men. These forces take turns in doing that. The day Islam appears, the forces of infidelity would unite to challenge it, for the infidels are of one nation.

' "O true believers, contract not an intimate friendship with any besides yourselves: they will not fail to corrupt you. They wish for that which may cause you to perish: their hatred hath already appeared from out of their mouths; but what their breasts conceal is yet more inveterate. We have already shown you signs of their ill will towards you, if ye understand." (The Family of Imran - verse 118).

'It is not in vain that the verse is ended with Allah's words "if ye understand." '

Article Thirty makes clear that free and independent thought is regarded as an impossibility and that the position of 'writers, intellectuals, media people, orators, educaters [sic] and teachers is a completely demeaning one:

'Writers, intellectuals, media people, orators, educaters [sic] and teachers, and all the various sectors in the Arab and Islamic world - all of them are called upon to perform their role, and to fulfill their duty, because of the ferocity of the Zionist offensive and the Zionist influence in many countries exercised through financial and media control, as well as the consequences that all this lead to in the greater part of the world.

'Jihad is not confined to the carrying of arms and the confrontation of the enemy. The effective word, the good article, the useful book, support and solidarity - together with the presence of sincere purpose for the hoisting of Allah's banner higher and higher - all these are elements of the Jihad for Allah's sake.

' "Whosoever mobilises a fighter for the sake of Allah is himself a fighter. Whosoever supports the relatives of a fighter, he himself is a fighter." (related by al-Bukhari, Moslem, Abu-Dawood and al-Tarmadhi).
Article Thirty-two has this - but by now, the sentiments are surely becoming predictable:

'Leaving the circle of struggle with Zionism is high treason, and cursed be he who does that. "for whoso shall turn his back unto them on that day, unless he turneth aside to fight, or retreateth to another party of the faithful, shall draw on himself the indignation of Allah, and his abode shall be hell; an ill journey shall it be thither." (The Spoils - verse 16). There is no way out except by concentrating all powers and energies to face this Nazi, vicious Tatar invasion. The alternative is loss of one's country, the dispersion of citizens, the spread of vice on earth and the destruction of religious values. Let every person know that he is responsible before Allah, for "the doer of the slightest good deed is rewarded in like, and the does of the slightest evil deed is also rewarded in like." '

Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D Roosevelt and the IDF (Israeli Defence Force)

The Swedish army and the army of the Irish Republic have never had to face the criticism and the accusations directed so often at the British army and the United States army and other forces, including the Israeli Defence Force. Sometimes, the criticisms and accusations have been fully justified, but in general, any mistakes and shortcomings are those to be expected in all complex human actions. Goethe: 'Man errs so long as he strives.'

Criticism is generally healthy - essential - but criticism may overlook vital distinctions. Criticism may  cynically ignore vital distinctions. Criticism of the Israeli Defence Force is so often blatantly ideological criticism, with no attempt at fair-mindedness and no attempt to understand extreme experience.

The American president Theodore Roosevelt wrote (there's surely no need for anyone to respond to the unfashionable style with condescension):

'It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.'

Criticism of the conduct of the British and the (segregated) American armed forces during the Second World War, which deliberately targeted German civilians (in the case of the British air force) and Japanese civilians (in the case of the United States air force) should never ignore the vital distinction between allied war aims and allied conduct of the war and Nazi war aims and Nazi conduct of the war. This comment of the American president Theodore Roosevelt is surely relevant to these matters, and to President Franklin D Roosevelt's conduct during the war. It can be applied too to the Israeli conduct of  operations in Gaza, including the conduct of the Israeli Defence Force.

So much for the armchair critics of Israel.

Éamon de Valera, who led Ireland during the Second World War, had no responsibility for the bombing of Tokyo or the bombing of Dresden. He led a state which stood aside, which never went into the arena.

My page Ireland and Northern Ireland: distortions and illusions includes this quotation:

'...it was difficult to withhold one's contempt from a country such as Ireland, whose battle this was and whose chances of freedom and independence in the event of a German victory were nil. The fact that Ireland was standing aside from the conflict at this moment posed, from the naval angle, special problems which affected, sometimes mortally, all sailors engaged in the Atlantic, and earned their particular loathing.

'Irish neutrality, on which she placed a generous interpretation, permitted the Germans to maintain in Dublin an espionage-centre, a window into Britain, which operated throughout the war and did incalculable harm to the Allied cause. But from the naval point of view there was an even more deadly factor: this was the loss of the naval bases in southern and western Ireland, which had been available to the Royal Navy during the first world war but were now forbidden them. To compute how many men and how many ships this denial was costing, month after month, was hardly possible; but the total was substantial and tragic.

'From a narrow legal angle, Ireland was within her rights: she had opted for neutrality, and the rest of the story flowed from this decision. She was in fact at liberty to stand aside from the struggle, whatever harm this did to the Allied cause. But sailors, watching the ships go down and counting the number of their friends who might have been alive instead of dead, saw the thing in simpler terms. They saw Ireland safe under the British umbrella, fed by her convoys, and protected by her air force, her very neutrality guaranteed by the British armed forces: they saw no return for this protection save a condoned sabotage of the Allied war effort: and they were angry - permanently angry. As they sailed past this smug coastline, past people who did not give a damn how the war went as long as they could live on in their fairy-tale world, they had time to ponder a new aspect of indecency. In the list of people you were prepared to like when the war was over, the man who stood by and watched while you were getting your throat cut could not figure very high.'

In the competing murals of Belfast, new images and messages have started to appear: in Nationalist areas, ones which support the Palestinians, in Loyalist areas, ones which support Israel. Irish nationalists may well overlook a potential conflict of interest. Many nationalists have taken for granted the 'fact' that the British are the worst exploiters in the world and the most brutal of people, but Palestinians make the conflicting claim that the Israelis are the worst exploiters and the most brutal of people.

Human Rights Watch

From an article by Robert L. Bernstein published in the 'New York Times,' not an original contribution, but a compelling one, and applicable in part to Amnesty International.

'As the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.

'At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.

'That is why we sought to draw a sharp line between the democratic and nondemocratic worlds, in an effort to create clarity in human rights. We wanted to prevent the Soviet Union and its followers from playing a moral equivalence game with the West and to encourage liberalization by drawing attention to dissidents like Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky and those in the Soviet gulag — and the millions in China’s laogai, or labor camps.

'When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.

'Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East. The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.

'Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

'Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

'Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

'Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again ... '

Blockades of Gaza, Cuba, boycotts  of Israel, US

It's often said that opponents of Israel, who call for boycotts of Israel and other action, are inconsistent. Israel is being singled out, unfairly, whilst states with vile records are excused - no boycotts for them. I agree with this argument. Here's another instance of inconsistency, one I've never come across anywhere: the arguments for boycotting Israel are arguments for boycotting the United States. The parallels are fairly exact. I don't, of course, think that the United States should be boycotted, any more than Israel.

We all know about the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Not nearly so many people know that there's a Cuba Solidarity Campaign which claims to work for 'the Cuban people's right to self-determination and sovereignty.'

There's been a United States blockade of Cuba for a long time: 'February 2012 marks 50 years since the US imposed its vindictive blockade on Cuba - a vicious policy which has cost the Cuban economy at least $105 billions and cause the Cuban people immense suffering and hardship.

The blockade denies access to food, educational and medical equipment.'

'3,478 Cubans have died in terrorist attacks from US backed right-wing exile groups.

'For the 23rd consecutive year the UN voted to condemn the illegal US blockade of Cuba.'

There are no parallels with the settlements in Palestinian territory, but what there is in Cuba is Guantanamo Bay, a place which many boycotters could well think merits a boycott even if there were no other objections.

Many of the same people who call for a boycott of Israel have very firm opinions about US actions in such countries as Afghanistan. There are different estimates of civilian deaths in Aghanistan, but according to Jonathan Steele of the Guardian, up to 20,000 Afghans may have died as a consequence of the first four months of US airstrikes in Afghanistan. The total is far higher.

The similarities between Gaza and Cuba are  similar when it comes to human rights violations. At this point, boycotters will want to turn their attention to more congenial things. I mention many Palestinian human rights violations on this page. The Cuban record is atrocious: human rights advocates and people not guilty of criminal acts sentenced to long periods of imprisonment - 20 years or more - forced labour camps where there's 'verbal and physical mistreatment ... work from dawn to dusk ... scare food.'

Castro described 'faggots' as 'agents of imperialism' and their treatment was very harsh. More recently, there has been much greater tolerance - unlike Gaza.

Efraim Karsh: 'What occupation?'

Efraim Karsh notes that 'Few subjects have been so falsified so thoroughly as the recent history of the West Bank and Gaza.' His article, 'What occupation?' is a calm correction of fraudulent claims, gross distortions and malicious lies about Israel's part in the history of the West Bank and Gaza. Professor Karsh is a leading academic in the field of Middle East (and Mediterranean) Studies and the author of many books on the history of Israel and Israel's opponents, including 'Palestine Betrayed' and 'Fabricating Israeli History.'

A lengthy extract follows. The complete article:

http://www.aish.com/jw/me/48898917.html
'Palestinian intellectuals routinely blur any distinction between Israel's actions before and after 1967. Writing recently in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, the prominent Palestinian cultural figure Jacques Persiqian told his Jewish readers that today's terrorist attacks were "what you have brought upon yourselves after 54 years of systematic oppression of another people" -- a historical accounting that, going back to 1948, calls into question not Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza but its very legitimacy as a state.

'Hanan Ashrawi, the most articulate exponent of the Palestinian cause, has been even more forthright in erasing the line between post-1967 and pre-1967 "occupations." "I come to you today with a heavy heart," she told the now-infamous World Conference Against Racism in Durban last summer, "leaving behind a nation in captivity held hostage to an ongoing naqba [catastrophe]."

' "In 1948, we became subject to a grave historical injustice manifested in a dual victimization: on the one hand, the injustice of dispossession, dispersion, and exile forcibly enacted on the population ... On the other hand, those who remained were subjected to the systematic oppression and brutality of an inhuman occupation that robbed them of all their rights and liberties."

'This original "occupation" -- that is, again, the creation and existence of the state of Israel -- was later extended, in Ashrawi's narrative, as a result of the Six-Day war:

The charges against Israel's various "occupations" represent a damning indictment of the entire Zionist enterprise. They are also grossly false.

' "Those of us who came under Israeli occupation in 1967 have languished in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip under a unique combination of military occupation, settler colonization, and systematic oppression. Rarely has the human mind devised such varied, diverse, and comprehensive means of wholesale brutalization and persecution."

'Taken together, the charges against Israel's various "occupations" represent -- and are plainly intended to be -- a damning indictment of the entire Zionist enterprise. In almost every particular, they are also grossly false.

'In 1948, no Palestinian state was invaded or destroyed to make way for the establishment of Israel. From biblical times, when this territory was the state of the Jews, to its occupation by the British army at the end of World War I, Palestine had never existed as a distinct political entity but was rather part of one empire after another, from the Romans, to the Arabs, to the Ottomans. When the British arrived in 1917, the immediate loyalties of the area's inhabitants were parochial-to clan, tribe, village, town, or religious sect-and coexisted with their fealty to the Ottoman sultan-caliph as the religious and temporal head of the world Muslim community.

'Under a League of Nations mandate explicitly meant to pave the way for the creation of a Jewish national home, the British established the notion of an independent Palestine for the first time and delineated its boundaries. In 1947, confronted with a determined Jewish struggle for independence, Britain returned the mandate to the League's successor, the United Nations, which in turn decided on November 29, 1947, to partition mandatory Palestine into two states: one Jewish, the other Arab.

'The state of Israel was thus created by an internationally recognized act of national self-determination -- an act, moreover, undertaken by an ancient people in its own homeland. In accordance with common democratic practice, the Arab population in the new state's midst was immediately recognized as a legitimate ethnic and religious minority. As for the prospective Arab state, its designated territory was slated to include, among other areas, the two regions under contest today -- namely, Gaza and the West Bank (with the exception of Jerusalem, which was to be placed under international control).

'None of the region's Arab regimes viewed the Palestinians as a distinct nation.

 As is well known, the implementation of the UN's partition plan was aborted by the effort of the Palestinians and of the surrounding Arab states to destroy the Jewish state at birth. What is less well known is that even if the Jews had lost the war, their territory would not have been handed over to the Palestinians. Rather, it would have been divided among the invading Arab forces, for the simple reason that none of the region's Arab regimes viewed the Palestinians as a distinct nation. As the eminent Arab-American historian Philip Hitti described the common Arab view to an Anglo-American commission of inquiry in 1946, "There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not."

'This fact was keenly recognized by the British authorities on the eve of their departure. As one official observed in mid-December 1947, "it does not appear that Arab Palestine will be an entity, but rather that the Arab countries will each claim a portion in return for their assistance [in the war against Israel], unless [Transjordan's] King Abdallah takes rapid and firm action as soon as the British withdrawal is completed." A couple of months later, the British high commissioner for Palestine, General Sir Alan Cunningham, informed the colonial secretary, Arthur Creech Jones, that "the most likely arrangement seems to be Eastern Galilee to Syria, Samaria and Hebron to Abdallah, and the south to Egypt."

'The British proved to be prescient. Neither Egypt nor Jordan ever allowed Palestinian self-determination in Gaza and the West Bank -- which were, respectively, the parts of Palestine conquered by them during the 1948-49 war. Indeed, even UN Security Council Resolution 242, which after the Six-Day war of 1967 established the principle of "land for peace" as the cornerstone of future Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, did not envisage the creation of a Palestinian state. To the contrary: since the Palestinians were still not viewed as a distinct nation, it was assumed that any territories evacuated by Israel, would be returned to their pre-1967 Arab occupiers -- Gaza to Egypt, and the West Bank to Jordan. The resolution did not even mention the Palestinians by name, affirming instead the necessity "for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem" -- a clause that applied not just to the Palestinians but to the hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from the Arab states following the 1948 war.

'At this time -- we are speaking of the late 1960's -- Palestinian nationhood was rejected by the entire international community, including the Western democracies, the Soviet Union (the foremost supporter of radical Arabism), and the Arab world itself. "Moderate" Arab rulers like the Hashemites in Jordan viewed an independent Palestinian state as a mortal threat to their own kingdom, while the Saudis saw it as a potential source of extremism and instability. Pan-Arab nationalists were no less adamantly opposed, having their own purposes in mind for the region. As late as 1974, Syrian President Hafez alAssad openly referred to Palestine as "not only a part of the Arab homeland but a basic part of southern Syria"; there is no reason to think he had changed his mind by the time of his death in 2000.

...

'What, then, of the period after 1967, when these territories passed into the hands of Israel? Is it the case that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been the victims of the most "varied, diverse, and comprehensive means of wholesale brutalization and persecution" ever devised by the human mind?

'At the very least, such a characterization would require a rather drastic downgrading of certain other well-documented 20th-century phenomena, from the slaughter of Armenians during World War I and onward through a grisly chronicle of tens upon tens of millions murdered, driven out, crushed under the heels of despots. By stark contrast, during the three decades of Israel's control, far fewer Palestinians were killed at Jewish hands than by King Hussein of Jordan in the single month of September 1970 when, fighting off an attempt by Yasir Arafat's PLO to destroy his monarchy, he dispatched (according to the Palestinian scholar Yezid Sayigh) between 3,000 and 5,000 Palestinians, among them anywhere from 1,500 to 3,500 civilians. Similarly, the number of innocent Palestinians killed by their Kuwaiti hosts in the winter of 1991, in revenge for the PLO's support for Saddam Hussein's brutal occupation of Kuwait, far exceeds the number of Palestinian rioters and terrorists who lost their lives in the first intifada against Israel during the late 1980's.

This "occupation" did not come about as a consequence of some grand expansionist design, but rather was incidental to Israel's success against a pan-Arab attempt to destroy it.

Such crude comparisons aside, to present the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as "systematic oppression" is itself the inverse of the truth. It should be recalled, first of all, that this "occupation" did not come about as a consequence of some grand expansionist design, but rather was incidental to Israel's success against a pan-Arab attempt to destroy it. Upon the outbreak of Israeli-Egyptian hostilities on June 5, 1967, the Israeli government secretly pleaded with King Hussein of Jordan, the de-facto ruler of the West Bank, to forgo any military action; the plea was rebuffed by the Jordanian monarch, who was loathe to lose the anticipated spoils of what was to be the Arabs' "final round" with Israel.

'Thus it happened that, at the end of the conflict, Israel unexpectedly found itself in control of some one million Palestinians, with no definite idea about their future status and lacking any concrete policy for their administration. In the wake of the war, the only objective adopted by then-Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan was to preserve normalcy in the territories through a mixture of economic inducements and a minimum of Israeli intervention. The idea was that the local populace would be given the freedom to administer itself as it wished, and would be able to maintain regular contact with the Arab world via the Jordan River bridges. In sharp contrast with, for example, the U.S. occupation of postwar Japan, which saw a general censorship of all Japanese media and a comprehensive revision of school curricula, Israel made no attempt to reshape Palestinian culture. It limited its oversight of the Arabic press in the territories to military and security matters, and allowed the continued use in local schools of Jordanian textbooks filled with vile anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda.

'Israel's restraint in this sphere -- which turned out to be desperately misguided -- is only part of the story. The larger part, still untold in all its detail, is of the astounding social and economic progress made by the Palestinian Arabs under Israeli "oppression." At the inception of the occupation, conditions in the territories were quite dire. Life expectancy was low; malnutrition, infectious diseases, and child mortality were rife; and the level of education was very poor. Prior to the 1967 war, fewer than 60 percent of all male adults had been employed, with unemployment among refugees running as high as 83 percent. Within a brief period after the war, Israeli occupation had led to dramatic improvements in general well-being, placing the population of the territories ahead of most of their Arab neighbors.

...

Under Israeli rule, the Palestinians also made vast progress in social welfare. Perhaps most significantly, mortality rates in the West Bank and Gaza fell by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 1990, while life expectancy rose from 48 years in 1967 to 72 in 2000 (compared with an average of 68 years for all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa). Israeli medical programs reduced the infant-mortality rate of 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 in 2000 (in Iraq the rate is 64, in Egypt 40, in Jordan 23, in Syria 22). And under a systematic program of inoculation, childhood diseases like polio, whooping cough, tetanus, and measles were eradicated.

No less remarkable were advances in the Palestinians' standard of living. By 1986, 92.8 percent of the population in the West Bank and Gaza had electricity around the clock, as compared to 20.5 percent in 1967; 85 percent had running water in dwellings, as compared to 16 percent in 1967; 83.5 percent had electric or gas ranges for cooking, as compared to 4 percent in 1967; and so on for refrigerators, televisions, and cars.

Finally, and perhaps most strikingly, during the two decades preceding the intifada of the late 1980's, the number of schoolchildren in the territories grew by 102 percent, and the number of classes by 99 percent, though the population itself had grown by only 28 percent. Even more dramatic was the progress in higher education. At the time of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, not a single university existed in these territories. By the early 1990's, there were seven such institutions, boasting some 16,500 students. Illiteracy rates dropped to 14 percent of adults over age 15, compared with 69 percent in Morocco, 61 percent in Egypt, 45 percent in Tunisia, and 44 percent in Syria.'

Jeff McMahan: a philosopher goes to war

Jeff McMahan is a philosopher who has written  on the ethics of warfare. His books include 'Killing in War' and his articles include one in 'Prospect magazine: 'Gaza: Is Israel fighting a just war?'

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/philosophy/gaza-is-israel-and-hamass-conflict-a-just-war

The article and the book are instructive examples of the catastrophic failure of so many philosophers when they turn their attention to the harshness of reality, although the catastrophic failure is due to low-level misunderstanding, and above all, laziness in approaching factors that are non-philosophical. The accusation of laziness is a strong one but justified, I think. Alternatively, he can be accused of culpable ignorance.

Philosophers concerned with the applied ethics of war are engaged in a composite study, one with a philosophical component and a non-philosophical component. (Here, I'm concerned almost entirely on the non-philosophical component of the article and the book.) The non-philosophical component requires a thorough study of military history, or at least an adequate background in military history. A philosopher writing about the conflict between Israel and Gaza needs to have more than a perfunctory knowledge of the intertwined histories of Israel and Gaza. A philosopher writing about the First World War should have avoided the stupidity and simplicity of this claim,  'There was no reason, in effect, for anyone to go to war.' He overlooks the fact that Belgium had every reason to defend itself in view of the fact that it lost most of its territory during the German invasion and overlooks so much else. In writing about the bombing of Hiroshima, he claims that the greatest civilian death toll of the war occurred here. Not so. He overlooks the need for simple fact checking.

This is the book that Thom Brooks, the editor of the Journal of Moral Philosophy, praises in these terms:

' ... Killing in War represents a tremendous achievement from one of today's leading moral philosophers. Never before has a book so swiftly challenged my own views and convinced me that I was in error. I cannot recommend it highly enough.' (Review in the 'Times Higher Education Supplement,' 8 October 2009.)

To begin with, the article concludes with this:

'If Israel were to abandon the aim of controlling territories to which it has no right, and to respect the right of Palestinians to a fully self-determining life in the lands allotted to them in the UN settlement of 1948, those who now fire rockets into Israel and conduct raids on Israeli forces would lose what sway they now have over the Palestinian people. Ordinary Palestinians want what other people want: to live with dignity, free from domination and oppression by others, to be secure and self-determining, and thus to have the opportunity to flourish in their own way.'

The last phrase, 'flourish in their own way' is a reminder that this is a philosopher in full flow, even if the extract includes no distinctively philosophical argument. 'Flourish' is almost certainly an allusion to the virtue ethics of Aristotle, whose concept of εὐδαιμονία has such prominence in the Nicomachean ethics. 

Jeff McMahan's assumption that we're all the same, we all want simply to be left to get on with our lives in peace, is wide of the mark. 'Palestinians want what other people want: to live with dignity, free from domination and oppression by others, to be secure and self-determining, and thus to have the opportunity to flourish in their own way.' Many Palestinians want exactly that, many Palestinians want the exact opposite, and many Palestinians want simply want to get on with their lives in peace after first wiping Israel from the map.
The view of human nature presented is a product of the 'word-sphere,' a concept which I employ in various places in this site. 'The word-sphere is the natural home of imaginative writers. This isn't a pejorative use of the term. 'Word-sphere' in the pejorative sense refers to evasion, to faulty {substitution}. The word-sphere is often used to evade reality. Reality is very often difficult, intractable, sometimes defeating any attempt at {modification}. It's far easier to arrange words so that words become a substitute for action, so that words deflect attention from the lack of action. This is the world of ringing declarations and facile claims. It offers a more congenial home than reality. The word-sphere is the natural home for ideologists even when action in the world isn't an issue, avoiding the need to come to terms with uncomfortable facts.'

It would be impossible to explain the human recourse to war and conflict, time and again, if the quietism of this passage were the reality. 'Ordinary Palestinians want what other people want ...' Many, many ordinary people have simply wanted to get on with their lives in peace, 'free from domination and oppression by others' and many, many ordinary people have wanted to dominate and oppress others. They have shown every sign of eagerness to acquire easy pickings, an easy life at the expense of others. Those films of Germans and Austrians cheering as Hitler made one annexation and conquest after another have had countless parallels. The author's view of human nature and human history is stunted, impossible to take seriously. Palestinian support for Hamas is substantial but limited, but the majority of Palestinians support the extinction of Israel. The 'other people,' the people of supposedly good will he mentions so casually include the homicidal maniacs of ISIS (the Islamic State) and their supporters and apologists. The 'other people' include an endless variety of barbarians, suffocating conformists, hypocrites, mean-spirited nonentities ... and, of course, so many other exemplars of human failings, to accompany the exemplars of human triumphant success, and endlessly varied other characters.

The author lacks the imaginative capacity to enter into the worlds of people very different from himself. The world I delineate in  Palestinian society: an indictment is a very different world from the academic world at Oxford, Cambridge and other universities where the author has spent so much of his time.

The notion that anything that the Israelis could do, short of complete surrender or suicide, would appease 'those who now fire rockets into Israel and conduct raids on Israeli forces' is nonsensical. The notion that enlightened action by the Israelis would cause the rocket-firers to ''lose what sway they now have over the Palestinian people.' is nonsensical. The author writes,

'If Israel were to abandon the aim of controlling territories to which it has no right, and to respect the right of Palestinians to a fully self-determining life in the lands allotted to them in the UN settlement of 1948, those who now fire rockets into Israel and conduct raids on Israeli forces would lose what sway they now have over the Palestinian people.'

Philosophers tend to emphasize reason, which should be sharply contrasted with 'reasonableness.'  Philosophers have used reason to question the common-sense reasonableness of the commonly accepted world, pointing out the pitfalls of sense perception. Reasoned arguments, such as arguments which make use of the phenomenon of optical illusions, cast doubt on the 'reasonable world.' In the ethical world, philosophers like Jeff McMahan often use reason to exclude the unreasonable. Writing in 'Tablet,'  Lee Smith writes exceptionally well about the pitfalls of reasonableness: 'What's Wrong With Being Reasonable About the Middle East? Nicholas Kristof's totally reasonable, utterly delusional recipe for peace.'

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/179742/kristof-reasonable-middle-east


' ... there is a way out, according to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Luckily for both Israelis and Palestinians, the prescription for peace is a simple one: We need “to de-escalate, starting with a cease-fire that includes an end to Hamas rocket attacks and a withdrawal from Gaza by Israel ...

'Kristof’s formula is a reasonable and balanced one. The only problem with it is that, in order to be so reasonable and balanced, it ignores two basic facts that have been reported in every newspaper in America. A ceasefire has already been offered by Egypt: Jerusalem accepted the ceasefire, and Hamas rejected it. Israel then stopped shooting for six hours, while Hamas continued firing dozens of rockets into Israel while loudly proclaiming that it had no intention of honoring the truce. So, no ceasefire.

'The second fact that Kristof’s reasonable-sounding formula ignores is that there already was an internationally supervised election in Gaza, back in 2006, which was won handily by Hamas. There is little to indicate that Hamas would do any worse at the polls this time around—after all, they didn’t run on a good-government platform but a war with the Zionist Enemy platform, and they’ve delivered on their campaign promises not once but three times since taking office ...

'So, is Nicholas Kristof really that ignorant of basic facts reported by his own newspaper as well as the rest of the entire international press? Of course not. He is not describing reality but is rather re-touching his self-image as a man of reason and compassion who can look on the world of mere mortals from Olympian heights and see the suffering and folly of both sides. “Here we have a conflict between right and right,” Kristof writes, “that has been hijacked by hard-liners on each side who feed each other.”

'But of course, the conflict is not about hardliners on both sides. Rather, it’s between a state led by a risk-averse prime minister that, whatever its failings, openly wanted peace and quiet, and a U.S. State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization that openly announced its desire for war and has continued firing rockets despite warnings, attacks, cease-fire offers, and other devices in the military-diplomatic play-book.

...


'The posture of reasonableness requires one to blame both sides, because both sides are responsible for solving the issue ...'
Jeff McMahan writes, 'If Israel were to abandon the aim of controlling territories to which it has no right, and to respect the right of Palestinians to a fully self-determining life in the lands allotted to them in the UN settlement of 1948 ...' This is an account of the history of the time and place which is not so much inadequate - although it's clearly inadequate - as fraudulent.

According to the author, Palestinians are very easily pleased. After giving the land, the problem goes away. The moderates who would accept this are dominated and overwhelmed by the non-moderates who want far more, whose demands are almost insatiable - nothing less than the wiping out of Israel. The Hamas Charter is clear, but there are no signs that Jeff Mcmahan has looked at this fundamental document.

Another stumbling block is that he misunderstands and distorts the history of land occupation in the area, if he has made any effort to investigate it at all. A superb corrective is provided by Efraim Karsh, the author of What Occupation?

The author gives some remarkable proposals for enhancing the moral understanding of soldiers. He writes,

' ... if we wish to prevent the initiation of unjust wars, one of the most important courses of action we can take is to try, so far as possible, to eliminate the epistemic excuses available to unjust combatants - or, in other words, to enable soldiers to have both a greatly enhanced understanding of the moral character of the war in which they are commanded to fight, and certain forms of legal support if their improved moral understanding leads them to engage in conscientious refusal to fight.

'I have elsewhere proposed that the best way to pursue this goal would be to establish an impartial international  court whose function would be to interpret and administer a reformed and morally better informed body of law ... '

There are so many objections to this. These are just a few.

Utopians, and the excessively idealistic, never make good military thinkers and Jeff McMahan is in the grip of a full-blown utopian delusion. Breaches of the international laws relating to armed combat are relatively easy to recognize and interpret. An international court can decide these matters fairly easily. Not so the justice or injustice of a war. Here, bias and ideology run rampant, irreconcilable differences are rarely reconciled and an 'impartial' international court is  an impossibility. A court decision, if acted upon by the forces of a state in large numbers, causing the state to become the losing side in a conflict, would be catastrophic for the court.

The war in Vietnam was a war against communism and the greatest death tolls have  occurred in communist regimes. Gunnar Heinsohn, the director of the Raphael-Lemkin-Institut für Xenophobie- und Genozidforschung at the University of Bremen has compiled statistics to rank conflicts since 1948 by the number of deaths incurred. Stalinist Russia, Mao Zedong's China and in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Estimates of the total deaths inflicted by communist regimes range from 85 to 100 million. If this is nothing like a full justification for going to war against Vietnam, Americans in doubt about the moral justification for going to war could be persuaded by such facts. It would not, however, fit in with  Jeff McMahan's view.

Any McMahian international court sitting at the time of the cold war would have been very unlikely to have condoned action against communist regimes, if communist regimes had their way. This was a time of deep and irreconcilable differences. This is still a time of deep and irreconcilable differences, with very little common ground and no endless supplies of impartiality.

Would this impartial court have ruled that British men should not enlist? A court decision on these lines would have been treated with contempt. After all, there seemed ample justification for thinking of this as a just war for the British.

Liddle Hart's 'History of the First World War' (which I quote because written by someone who fought in the war and wrote the book not so long after the war ended, is one of the very many historians who have stressed the injustice done to neutral Belgium by the Germans:

' ... the British Cabinet was still wavering. A majority of its members were so anxious for peace and uncertain of the public attitude that they had failed to give a clear warning which might have strengthened Bethmann-Hollweg in his feeble efforts to withstand his own war party. Now it was too late and the military machine was in control ...

'Germany came to the rescue. Her long-prepared ultimatum to Belgium, demanding a free passage for her troops as required by her still longer-prepared war plan, was delivered on the evening of August 2nd. The Belgian government sturdily refused to allow its neutrality to be violated. On the morning of August 4th, the German troops began their invasion. The threat, even before the act was known, was decisive in hardening British opinion to the point of intervention, even though that intervention was already inevitable, as the German Staff had correctly calculated.'

Gary Sheffield in 'Forgotten Victory:'

The Germans overran all but a sliver of Belgium in 1914. Belgium was a small state but an economically important one. Faced by the resistance of Belgian workers and industrialists to working for the invader, the Germans effectively de-industrialised Belgium by destroying plant or shipping it back to Germany. Belgium was also viewed as a valuable source of labour. As many as 120,000 Belgians were deported to Germany in 1916 - 17. The Germans used starvation as a weapon to force the Belgians to work. William Alexander Percy, an American volunteer with Herbert Hoover's Commission for Relief in Belgium, remembered seeing batches of Belgian workers returning from forced labour in Germany. 'They were creatures imagined by El Greco - skeletons, with blue flesh clinging to their bones, too weak to stand alone, too ill to be hungry any longer. This was only a miniature venture into slavery, a preliminary to the epic conquest and enslavement of whole peoples in 1940, but it seemed hideous and unprecedented to us in 1917.'

The armed forces of utterly ruthless states are the most likely by far to be ordered to fight in an obviously unjust war, and refusal to fight is likely to mean a very high likelihood of execution. The armed forces of liberal, democratic states may be conscripts or professionals. Conscripts who consider the cause to be unjust and refuse to fight are likely to be recognized as conscientious objectors. Professionals who consider the cause to be unjust and refuse to fight will lose their job and are likely to face imprisonment.

To expect ordinary military personnel to have a detailed and informed knowledge of the factors which make military action desirable or undesirable is asking the impossible. A government may have access to secret information which make military action desirable or essential. To divulge the information could well put at risk the informants.

Even if , as in  the majority of cases, recourse to war will not be based on top secret information, the circumstances are likely to be highly complex. Again and again, the moral case for going to war is accompanied by urgent practical reasons for not going to war, which may well be very abstruse and uncertain - the effects on various alliances, for instance. The moral case for opposing ISIS in Syria is as strong as the moral case for opposing ISIS in Iraq, but, of course, action in Syria has to take account of President Assad's rule in the country. In Iraq, the moral case for fighting against ISIS has to recognize the immense war weariness of the countries which fought for so long in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan.

The armed forces who are asked to be moral arbiters, to decide whether they should embark on a new conflict, may have been through the gruelling process of conflict recently, in no fit state to give much thought to the moral implications of a new conflict. Jeff McMahan only considers decisions to be made before a conflict, not the decisions which arise as a result of changes in the conflict. To ask troops who had fought their way up Italy in a conflict which was bloody and demanding to give thought to the morality of bombing Monte Cassino would be to ask the impossible.

Miners who were engaged in back-breaking work before the First World War, hewing coal with pick-axes in indesribably harsh conditions, at a time when mining accidents were common - does Jeff McMahan expect them to calmly give thought to 'epistemic excuses' for unjust war and how to avoid them?

Jeff McMahan seems to show not the least awareness of all the forces which make for distortion - the distortions of the media, not always good at analysis of current events, the tide of popular opinion, the shameless lying to be found in the social media.

If 100 000 soldiers see no moral difficulties in fighting in the next war but 5 000 soldiers see real difficulties, he would support the loss of these 5 000 soldiers. An army, navy or air force can't possibly be run on this basis. (And it may take a generation or two, or more, before a clearer view is obtained of the issues surrounding a conflict. At the time of the conflict, a clear view is much more difficult. Or there may be conflicting opinions about the morality of a conflict for an indefinite period.)

Jeff McMahan has proposed a reform which is no reform at all and which has absolutely no chance of being implemented. Any armed forces which did implement it would never gain by it.

The severe limitations of Jeff McMahan as a thinker on war are  revealed in more astounding passages in 'Killing in War.' Very near the beginning of the book is this. He presents outworn, conventional opinions in apparent unawareness that these opinions have been challenged by revisionist historians.

''World War I is the paradigm of an utterly pointless war. There was, in effect, no reason for anyone to go to war. This war was a consequence of fatuous assertions of misjudgments about anticipatory mobilization, alliance commitments, and so on ... '

One of these revisionist historians is Professor Gary Sheffield, the author of 'Forgotten Victory: The First World War: Myths and realities.'

'The First World War was a tragic conflict, but it was neither futile nor meaningless.'

' ... the work of many diplomatic and political historians points firmly away from the popular view that the war was a ghastly accident and instead underlines that the war was fought over substantive issues.' 'In the aftermath of the Second World War, democratic West Germany was readmitted to the family of Western States. West German historians were understandably anxious to stress the discontinuities of German history, to arguethat Hitler and the Nazis had been a uniquely evil phenomenon. It is easy to understand the fury that exploded in the 1960's when the Hamburg historian Fritz Fischer published books arguing that Germany deliberately planned and executed a war of aggression in 1914. Perhaps worse, Fischer drew attention to the similarities between the German war aims under the Kaiser and those of the Third Reich. Fischer's writings caused more than a spat between historians; they were oyf national consequence. By implying continuities between some aspects of the policy of Wilhelmine and Nazi Germany, he caused Germans to question the comfortable notion that Nazism had been an aberration. Forty years later, Fischer's thesis is still at the centre of the debate of the origins of the First World War ... '

Jeff McMahan's claim that nobody had any reason to fight is obviously nonsensical. Whether Fritz Fischer's thesis is accepted or not, it's historical fact that early in the war, Germany occupied almost all the territory of Belgium and a large part of France. The Belgians and French had every reason to fight to regain their territory.

As for the claim that Austria-Hungary's fight in the war was particularly futile, it would be difficult to deny the claims of Italy, which was the most opportunistic of the combatant nations and whose battles on the Isonzo under the leadership (for want of a better word) of General Cadorna were genuinely futile, unlike, for instance, the often quoted example of the forces taking part in the Battle of the Somme. (William Philpott's 'Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme' is an excellent corrective to the received view obviously shared by Jeff McMahan. William Philpott argues that the Battle was a necessary stage in an intensive war of attrition, a stage in which the British army learned so much.

Another supposedly 'killer argument' from Jeff McMahan:

'It is revealing about our attitudes in general that we sometimes do take combatants who have committed war crimes to be fully excused, or even justified… Perhaps the most notorious case of this sort is that of General Paul Tibbets, who was the commander and pilot of the Enola Gay,the plane … from which the atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August of 1945… This single act by Tibbets, with contributions by the other members of his small crew, had as an immediate physical effect the killing of more people, the vast majority of whom were civilians, than any other single act ever done … all plausible moral theories, including even the most radical forms of consequentialism, prohibit the killing of that many innocent people in virtually all practically possible circumstances. Tibbets's act is therefore the most egregious war crime, and the most destructive single terrorist act, ever committed, even though it was committed in the course of a just war. Yet he was congratulated for it by President Truman… (pp. 128–29)

To many people, this will seem very impressive. Who could argue against such a civilian death toll?

To begin with, the extract shows that his knowledge of military history isn't adequate to the task. Nobody who writes about the bombing of Hiroshima should be unaware that the bombing never involved 'the killing of more people, the vast majority of whom were civilians, than any other single act ever done.'

 

As I write in the section Democracies and warfare: harsh realities, the bombing of Tokyo on the night of 9 - 10 March 1945 caused more deaths than the bombing of Hiroshima.

 

The author fully indulges in the current tendency to use words irresponsibly, with no regard at all for essential distinctions - but concern for these essential distinctions, any care at all for the health of language, has been all but abandoned.  If I point out that since 1948, Israel has carried out only one execution, of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann, and that this is in sharp contrast with such states as Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, which carried out executions on a massive scale, then someone may claim that the Israelis have 'executed' thousands of Palestinian people. To use the term 'execution' for the people killed during operations of war is misuse of the word 'execution.' The word 'murder,' like the word 'execution' has a judicial context or background and should never be used freely. 'Genocide' is an attempt to kill all the members of a group and it should be obvious that Israel has never come remotely near to genocidal action in the Palestinian territories.

 

 

Jeff McMahan uses the word 'terrorist' for an operation ordered by the head of state and is misusing the word.

 

His misunderstanding of consequentialism is worrying in the case of a professional philosopher. Consequentialism has to work in the case  of very large numbers as well as in the case of small numbers. Whether a tiny number of civilian deaths is at issue or a massive number, the consequentialist has to look at the imperative to minimize the number of deaths. The war in Europe had ended. Every day that the war in the Pacific went involved many, many deaths, military and civilian. The imperative was to bring the war to an end in this theatre as quickly as possible, but the alternatives involved horrendous difficulties. Even now, with the benefit of hindsight, no agreement exists concerning the wisest choice in the circumstances. At the time, after the most gruelling and costly military operations, in the midst of the most gruelling and costly military operations, the choice was more difficult by far.

Without wishing in the least to minimize the arguments against the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, these are some arguments in its favour. At least I avoid Jeff McMahan's completely spurious claim to certainty and to superior insight. The furious debate at the time and later leaves not a trace in his complacent and simple-minded account.

The Wikipedia account 'Debate over the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki' can be wholeheartedly recommended. If I quote only from the section concerned with support for the case for bombing, I recommend wholeheartedly not just reading more of this section but the study of as much as possible of the section which puts the case for 'Opposition.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate_over_the_atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki

'Te U.S. anticipated losing many soldiers in Downfall, although the number of expected fatalities and wounded is subject to some debate. U.S. President Trumanstated in 1953 he had been advised U.S. casualties could range from 250,000 to one million men.[10][11] Assistant Secretary of the Navy Ralph Bard, a member of theInterim Committee on atomic matters, stated that while meeting with Truman in the summer of 1945 they discussed the bomb's use in the context of massive military and civilian casualties from invasion, with Bard raising the possibility of a million Allied soldiers were being killed. As Bard opposed using the bomb without warning Japan first he cannot be accused of exaggerating casualty expectations to justify the bomb's use, and his account is evidence that Truman was aware of, and government officials discussed, the possibility of one million deaths or casualties.

...


'In addition, a large number of Japanese military and civilian casualties were expected as a result of such actions. Contemporary estimates of Japanese deaths from an invasion of the Home Islands ranged from several hundreds of thousands to as high as ten million. General MacArthur's staff provided an estimated range of American deaths depending on the duration of the invasion, and also estimated a 22:1 ratio of Japanese to American deaths. From this, a low figure of somewhat more than 200,000 Japanese deaths can be calculated for a short invasion of two weeks, and almost 3 million Japanese deaths if the fighting lasted four months.[17] A widely cited estimate of 5 to 10 million Japanese deaths came from a study by William Shockley and Quincy Wright; the upper figure was used by Assistant Secretary of WarJohn J. McCloy who characterized it as conservative.

...
'T
he great loss of lives during the battle of Iwo Jima and other Pacific islands gave US leaders a clear picture of the casualties that would happen with a main land invasion. Of the 22,060 Japanese soldiers entrenched on Iwo Jima, 21,844 died either from fighting or by ritual suicide. Only 216 were captured during the battle. 

...

'Supporters of the bombing argue waiting for the Japanese to surrender would also have cost lives. "For China alone, depending upon what number one chooses for overall Chinese casualties, in each of the ninety-seven months between July 1937 and August 1945, somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 persons perished, the vast majority of them noncombatants. For the other Asian states alone, the average probably ranged in the tens of thousands per month, but the actual numbers were almost certainly greater in 1945, notably due to the mass death in a famine in Vietnam. Historian Robert P. Newman concluded that each month that the war continued in 1945 would have produced the deaths of 'upwards of 250,000 people, mostly Asian but some Westerners.'"

'The end of the war liberated millions of laborers working in harsh conditions under a forced mobilization. In the Dutch East Indies, there was a "forced mobilization of some 4 million—although some estimates are as high as 10 million—romusha (manual laborers)...About 270,000 romusha were sent to the Outer Islands and Japanese-held territories in Southeast Asia, where they joined other Asians in performing wartime construction projects. At the end of the war, only 52,000 were repatriated to Java."

...


'Supporters of the bombings have emphasized the strategic significance of the targets. Hiroshima was used as headquarters of the Fifth Division and the 2nd General Army, which commanded the defense of southern Japan with 40,000 military personnel stationed in the city. Hiroshima was a communication center, an assembly area for troops, a storage point and had several military factories as well. Nagasaki was of great wartime importance because of its wide-ranging industrial activity, including the production of ordnance, ships, military equipment, and other war materials.

'On 30 June 2007, Japan's defense minister Fumio Kyuma said the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan by the United States during World War II was an inevitable way to end the war. Kyuma said: "I now have come to accept in my mind that in order to end the war, it could not be helped (shikata ga nai) that an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and that countless numbers of people suffered great tragedy." Kyuma, who is from Nagasaki, said the bombing caused great suffering in the city, but he does not resent the U.S. because it prevented the Soviet Union from entering the war with Japan. Kyuma's comments were similar to those made by Emperor Hirohito when, in his first ever press conference given in Tokyo in 1975, he was asked what he thought of the bombing of Hiroshima, and answered: "It's very regrettable that nuclear bombs were dropped and I feel sorry for the citizens of Hiroshima but it couldn't be helped (shikata ga nai) because that happened in wartime."

Nagasaki mayor Tomihisa Taue protested against Kyuma, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized over Kyuma's remark to Hiroshima A-bomb survivors.In the wake of the outrage provoked by his statements, Kyuma had to resign on 3 July.' His resignation was surely unnecessary. This was a legitimate point of view.'

 Aerial bombardment: killing and the prevention of killing

I begin with information about Musheir El-Farra of Sheffield but go on to criticize the 'leaders of Gaza civil society' (he was one of them) who signed an 'important statement' which did nothing to halt killing in Gaza.

The poet Richard Eberhart:

'You would think the fury of aerial bombardment
Would arouse God to relent ... '

Or furious criticism arouse the Israelis to relent?

On 5 August 2014, the Daily Mail' published a piece on the aerial bombardment of Khan Younis in Gaza. These are some extracts:

'The misery of Palestinians in Gaza has been brought home to the UK after a Yorkshire man lost 11 members of his family to a single Israeli air strike.

'Musheir El-Farrah, a civil engineer from Sheffield, learned on Friday morning that his cousin's home in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, was hit by a warplane overnight.

'Five children, aged from four to 15, are among the dead. Five of Mr El-Farrah's relatives - including his cousin Mahmoud El-Farra - are fighting for their lives in intensive care.'

'The El-Farrahs were killed in a flurry of Israeli air strikes just over an hour before a ceasefire was due to temporarily halt the relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip.'

'Israel's global standing has taken a nose dive after nearly 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the 27 days that its forces have waged war on the besieged territory.'

Musheir el-Farra is the chair of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Is this not conclusive evidence that Musheir El-Farra is right to oppose Israel and that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is right to oppose Israel?

I sympathize with his loss. I recognize fully the hideousness of aerial bombardment: men, women and children killed, crushed beneath rubble, or horribly injured, crushed beneath rubble. But I give reasons for opposing Musheir El-Farra's view of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign's view of the conflict.

Harrowing experience is no guarantee that response to the experience, interpretation of the experience will do anything to make these terrible events less likely in the future. Politicians and other people who want to end a humanitarian catastrophe and to make similar humanitarian catastrophes less likely in the future have to be guided not just by intense emotion.

I sent an email to the Sheffield Solidarity Campaign (13.09.2014) to inform him that I'd added to the site a section which concerned him. I also wrote, 'If there are any comments and criticisms then I would be glad to receive them. (Alternatively, you could consider publishing them on your Website.) They may help to make the section, and the page as a whole, as accurate and fair as possible.' I haven't received any comments and criticisms and none have been published on the Campaign's Website.

Musheir El-Farra's relatives were killed 'just over an hour before a ceasefire was due to temporarily halt the relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip.' But Musheir El-Farra had already opposed ceasefires, except on terms which would make a ceasefire impossible.

Musheir El-Farra's relatives were killed or injured on 1 August, 2014. Just over a week before, on 23  July, an 'Important Statement' was published in various places, signed by a large number of  'Gaza Civil Society Leaders,' including Musheir El-Farra and his sister Mona El-Farra. To summarize, at  a stage in the conflict between Israel and Gaza when casualties were still relatively light, these leaders of Gaza civil society declared their support for Hamas' policies in the conflict, which included the use of indiscriminate weapons, the rockets aimed at Israel, and Hamas' futile insistence on ceasefires which were unrealistic, certain to be refused by the Israelis, certain to lead to further casualties in Gaza. A ceasefire was eventually accepted by Hamas under terms almost identical to the early ones.

These leaders somehow failed to see what was staring them in the face. They failed to see that refusing a ceasefire would be followed by unnecessary casualties. If they were taken by surprise, they should not have been. An object released falling to the ground by the action of gravity would be no more surprising.

The signatories showed monumental political obtuseness. Their support for the continued firing of rockets into Israel - not counting the ones which fell short and landed in Gaza - if the unrealistic demands were not accepted amounted to an ethical failure.

 

The signatories are at one with Hamas in rejecting the ceasefire offered. If an early ceasefire had been accepted, then the relatives of Musheir El-Farra would not have been killed, with so many others. The statement makes this claim:

'Hamas represented the sentiment of the vast majority of residents when it rejected the unilateral ceasefire proposed by Egypt and Israel without consulting anyone in Gaza. We share the broadly held public sentiment that it is unacceptable to merely return to the status quo – in which Israel strictly limits travel in and out of the Gaza Strip, controls the supplies that come in (including a ban on most construction materials), and prohibits virtually all exports, thus crippling the economy and triggering one of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the Arab world.

'To do so would mean a return to a living death.'

There was absolutely no prospect that Israel would agree to the preconditions demanded by the signatories, such as this: 'Unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air.' To include them was to guarantee failure, was to guarantee that there would be no ceasefire. Unlimited import means unlimited import of weapons for attacks on Israel, unlimited import of construction materials for building tunnels for attacks on Israel. This is the work of political innocents, people with a faint sense of realities.

Their failure to learn from the conflict between Israel and Gaza of 2008 - 9, when Israel undertook Operation Cast Lead, is astonishing. Then, the conflict began when Israel attempted to stop the firing of rockets into Israeli territory and to stop the flow of weapons into Gaza. Operation Cast Lead proved, if proof were needed, that Israel would stand firm and show vast military superiority in future conflicts, unless circumstances were to change dramatically in the interim. There were no dramatic changes which would make it in the least likely that Israel would accept rocket attacks and flow of weapons into Gaza in 2014. The signatories should have realized this at the very beginning of the recent hostilities. This is inability to learn from experience on a grand scale - or grandiose scale.

After hostilities ended in 2009, ' ... the European Union, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference   and over 50 nations donated humanitarian aid to Gaza, including the United States, which donated over $20 million. On January 7, a UN Relief Works Agency spokesman acknowledged that he was "aware of instances where deliveries of humanitarian aid into Gaza" were diverted by the Hamas government, though never from his agency.'

After hostilites ended in 2014, governments and non-governmental agencies must again donate on a massive scale to a territory which never seems to learn. A familiar dictum of economics is: 'Scarce resources and infinite wants.' The desperate needs of the world can never be met, and why the needs of Gaza should have priority is a mystery. Will Palestinians continue to fire rockets and continue to invite certain retaliation and continue to expect foreign aid for reconstuction at frequent intervals? Perhaps the donors will eventually draw conclusions and become less generous and decide to give their money to other causes.

The ceasefire which was eventually accepted in 2014 met none of the demands of the signatories, as could have been predicted.

 

Musheir El-Farra and the other signatories should have been exerting as much pressure as they could on Hamas to accept a ceasefire and to keep to the ceasefire. As I put it publicly at one of Sheffield Solidarity Campaign's events, 'Stop firing rockets. Stop breaking ceasefires.'

The Important Statement contains this:

'With temporary shelters full and the indiscriminate Israeli shelling, there is literally no place that is safe in Gaza.'

Since Hamas hasn't provided shelters for all the population, all the more reason not to fire rockets and invite certain  retaliation. Where would rockets fired in the future be fired from? As in the case of the rockets already fired, very often from sites near to residential buildings and such buildings as schools. All the more reason to do everything possible to avoid Israeli attacks on launching sites. Hamas is a terrorist organization which has carried out many suicide bombings in Israel, which has built a network of tunnels to attack Israel, and which declares that its objective is to destroy Israel. Given the fact that the Hamas personnel who are legitimate targets of the Israelis are very often to be found in close proximity with the general population, this is a further reason to avoid Israeli action by avoiding firing rockets.

 

If Musheir El-Farra and the others can't realize the obviousness of these considerations and their extreme importance, then these representatives of Gazan civic society are doing nothing for the reputation of Gazan civic society. As for the claim of  'indiscriminate' Israeli shelling, then their knowledge of military history, the broad history which is essential for context, essential to provide comparisons, is dangerously lacking. Warnings of impending attack were evidently not given in all cases or most cases but they were given in very many cases, by phone message or by non-lethal blows to the roof of a building. In the history of warfare, this is very, very uncommon. People who fail to concede obvious points and to make any necessary qualifications are liable to see their credibility lost, although not in gullible circles, such as the branches of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

 

The reports of the deaths of the relatives of Musheir and Mona el-Farra omit - and this is completely understandable - the military situation in the town. In the Gaza conflict, a main Palestinian weapon is the IEF or improvised explosive device, familiar from operations in Afghanistan. Familiar too are the fearful injuries to British soldiers when these devices have exploded.

 

Khan Younis has been a major centre for operations by the IDF against Hamas operatives, who have planted innumerable  IED devices in the area.

A report on operations:

'Inside Gaza, Hamas has booby-trapped hundreds of homes and installations with improvised bombs. One such IED killed three Israeli soldiers on Wednesday [30 August, a few days before the relatives of Musheir and Mona el-Farra were killed] in a building labeled as an UNRWA clinic in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, where IDF soldiers were searching for a tunnel shaft. IDF’s Gaza Division commander, Brig. Gen. Micky Edelstein, told journalists that in one Khan Younis street he encountered, 19 of the 28 homes were booby-trapped, ready to explode over IDF soldiers who enter them.

 

The claim is made that there was no warning before the operation which killed the relatives of Musheir and Mona el-Farra, but operations in Khan Younis have been preceded by warnings. In a report in the New York Times for July 8:

 

'The call came to the cellphone of his brother’s wife, Salah Kaware said Tuesday. Mr. Kaware lives in Khan Younis, in southeast Gaza, and the caller said that everyone in the house must leave within five minutes, because it was going to be bombed.

'A further warning came as the occupants were leaving, he said in a telephone interview, when an Israeli drone apparently fired a flare at the roof of the three-story home. “Our neighbors came in to form a human shield,” he said, with some even going to the roof to try to prevent a bombing. Others were in the stairway when the house was bombed not long afterward.

'Seven people died, Mr. Kaware said, a figure also stated by the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, which also said that 25 people were wounded. The Israeli military said that targeted houses belonged to Hamas members involved in launching rockets or other military activity, and that they had been used as operations rooms.'

The Important Statement has its quota of distortion and falsification, for example this: 'As academics, public figures and activists witnessing the intended genocide of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip ... ' The familiar misuse of the word 'genocide.' The Nazi genocide was an attempt to kill every Jew in Nazi-controlled territory. To suppose that Israelis intend to kill every Palestinian they can is psychotic rubbish. Whereas the Nazis set up gallows and gas chambers and used firing squads, the Israelis have never used the death penalty in the history of the modern state, with one exception, the Nazi Eichmann. (The Palestinian territories  make use of the gallows and firing squads.)

Without a constant barrage of simplifications, evasions, distortions and falsifications and the repetitive, debased language used to express them, the Palestinian ideology would be lost.

The statement refers to 'basic freedoms that have been denied to the people for more than seven years.' These 'basic freedoms' apparently include the freedom to import materials without restriction, including the freedom to import materials for constructing new tunnels for attacks on Israel and materials for constructing rockets for attacks on Israel. What of the basic freedoms which   are denied by Hamas and not acknowledged by the majority of Palestinians, such as the basic freedoms of gay people and Christians to live their lives without fear? What of the   basic freedom to express opinion freely, including criticism of Hamas?

 

The Important Statement mentions poverty and unemployment in Gaza. Discoverthenetworks.org 'A Guide to the Political Left' has a significant discussion of these very topics, adapted from 'Who is Really Oppressing the Palestinians?' by David Meir-Levi.

 

 http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=824

 

'How did the Palestinians reach their current tragic state? Are the Israelis responsible? What part of the blame falls on the other Arab states and the Palestinians’ own leaders?

These are important questions. The answers are complex, requiring a historical literacy and a willingness to go beyond the simplistic notion of the international media that the Mid-east conflict is a matter of conflicting rights and Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian lands.

'Within a few days of the June 10 cease-fire following Israel's victory in the Six Day War of 1967, Abba Eban, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, made his famous speech offering to negotiate the return of captured territories in exchange for three Arab concessions: diplomatic recognition of Israel; negotiations to decide on universally recognized borders and other issues; and peace as a final outcome. Western countries expressed amazement that the victor was offering to negotiate with the vanquished and was willing to make concrete concessions (return of territories) in exchange for symbolic and diplomatic ones.

'To formulate a response to this unexpected new reality, the Arab states called a summit meeting in Khartoum (capital of Sudan). The result was the now infamous three Khartoum NOs: no recognition, no negotiations, no peace. Thus Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza was caused first by Arab aggression and then by Arab refusal to negotiate a peace after the Arab armies had been vanquished.

'After the war, Israel began what is sometimes called its “mini-Marshall plan” for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, investing hundreds of millions of dollars to bring them both into the 20th century with regard to infrastructure, roads, sewerage, electricity, phones, radio and TV broadcasting, water purification and water supply. World Bank records indicate that the GDP of the West Bank grew at the average rate of 13% per year between 1967 and 1994. Tourism skyrocketed, unemployment almost disappeared as hundreds of thousands of Arabs worked in Israel’s economy earning far more than their counterparts in other Arab countries ...

'And, perhaps most telling of all, free and unencumbered access to Israel’s medical infrastructure resulted in a declining infant mortality and a rise in longevity ...

'All this time, the Arab nations remained formally at war with Israel. In 1979, Egypt alone among the Arab states agreed to sign a peace treaty with Israel. In response to Egypt’s willingness to sign the peace, Israel withdrew its forces and settlements in the Sinai.

When the 1993 Oslo Accords allowed Yasser Arafat to set up shop in the West Bank as the head of the newly created Palestinian Authority, the existing robust economy created in partnership between Israel and the Arabs ground to a halt and then went into a steep decline. By 2002, the West Bank’s GDP was one-tenth of what it had been in 1993.

'Data provided by the UN Human Development program of 2005 indicate that the economic difficulties experienced by the Palestinian Arabs were largely the result of policies of the Arafat regime and not from any oppression by the State of Israel. Looking at what it calls “The Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT),” the UN report notes, for instance, that the second Intifada beginning in September 2000 resulted “in a sharp deterioration in living standards and life chances.”  The poverty rate nearly tripled from 20% in 1999 to 55% in 2003. In one telling example, the report notes that because of the Intifada, the town of Nablus -- a prosperous commercial hub prior to September 2000 -- became an economic basket case. Shops were closed; to survive, workers had to sell their tools, and farmers were forced to sell their land. It was Arafat’s war, not Israeli rule, that destroyed Palestinian prosperity and bled its people.

'Israel is the scapegoat for the plight of the Palestinians, but from the 19th century onward, Arab leaders, both local and external, have betrayed the Palestinian Arabs, forced them into poverty, cheated, intimidated, and oppressed them, condemned them to serfdom and stolen the land out from under them. Every opportunity for statehood was squandered by leaders who chose war and terrorism over peace and cooperation and thus condemned their people to poverty.'

BBC Watch on life in the Gaza strip:

 

http://bbcwatch.org/2013/01/01/life-in-the-gaza-strip-according-to-the-bbc/

Even with the corruption, mismanagement and incompetence of the Hamas administration, to describe life in Gaza as a 'living death' is flagrant exaggeration. Compare life in Gaza with life in the Warsaw Ghetto (a placard at a Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration made exactly this comparison, an ignorant and contemptible comparison.

One  magazine chosen for publication of the Important Statement, 'The Revival,' is one of the more enlightened Islamist publications, but not nearly enlightened enough. It attacks terrorist actions by Moslems which take place in this country - good, obviously - but where Israel is concerned, nothing but the blackest of blacks, nothing but the most absolute of condemnations, nothing but unflinching and complete criticism will do. Another outlet chosen for publication was the Freedom Flotilla Foundation's 'Gaza's Ark.' 

Musheir el-Farra is the author of 'Gaza: when the sky rained white fire.' The book is about the effects of Operation Cast Lead. The 'white fire' of the title is a reference to phosphorus munitions. 

 

The 2008 - 2009 Israeli operations in Gaza, operation 'Cast Lead,' were intended to stop rocket attacks on Israel and to prevent the flow of weapons into Gaza. From the Wikipedia entry on operation 'Cast Lead:'

 'After watching footage of Israeli troop deployments on television, a British soldier who completed numerous combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Intelligence Corps defended the Israeli Army's use of white phosphorus. The soldier noted, "White phosphorus is used because it provides an instant smokescreen, other munitions can provide a smokescreen but the effect is not instant. Faced with overwhelming enemy fire and wounded comrades, every commander would choose to screen his men instantly, to do otherwise would be negligent."

'Colonel Lane, a military expert testifying in front of the fact-finding mission in July 2009, told that white phosphorus is used for smoke generation to hide from the enemy. He stated, "The quality of smoke produced by white phosphorus is superb; if you want real smoke for real coverage, white phosphorus will give it to you."

'Professor Newton, expert in laws of armed conflict testifying in front of the committee, said that in an urban area, where potential perils are snipers, explosive devices and trip wires, one effective way to mask forces' movement is by white phosphorus. In certain cases, he added, such choice of means would be less harmful for civilian population than other munitions, provided that the use of white phosphorus withstands the proportionality test. In discussing the principle of proportionality he said that the legality of using white phosphorus in an urban setting could only be decided on a case by case basis taking into account "the precise circumstances of its use, not in general, generically, but based on that target, at that time". He stressed that the humanitarian implications were vital in this assessment giving the example that using white phosphorus on a school yard would have different implications to its use on another area. He also said that in his view white phosphorus munition is neither chemical nor incendiary weapon and is not intended to cause damage. He said its use was not prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

'An article by Mark Cantora examining the legal implications of the use of white phosphorus munitions by the IDF, published in 2010 in the Gonzaga Journal of International Law, argues that Israel's use of white phosphorus in Gaza was technically legal under existing international humanitarian laws and "Therefore, it is imperative for the international community to convene a White Phosphorus Convention Conference in order to address these issues and fill this substantial gap in international humanitarian law."

Appendix:

List of those who signed the 'Important Statement.' 

Akram Habeeb, Assistant Professor of American Literature, Islamic University of Gaza (IUG)

Mona El-Farra, Vice President and Health Chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society

Ramy Abdu PhD, Chairman of the Euro-mid Observer

Abdullah Alsaafin, Palestinian Writer/journalist

Ali Alnazli, Businessman

Adel Awadallah, Head of the Scientific Research Council

Hanine Hassan, Graduate Research Assistant

Sheren Awad, Journalist

Yahia Al-Sarraj, Associate Professor of Transportation, IUG

Tawfik Abu Shomar, Writer and political analyst

Hasan Owda, Businessman

Ibrahim AlYazji, Businessman

Walid Al Husari, Chair, Gaza Chamber of Commerce

Nael Almasri, Dentist

Wael El-Mabhouh, Political researcher

Rami Jundi, Political researcher

Ashraf Mashharawi, Filmmaker

Mohammad Alsawaf, Journalist

Hasan Abdo, Writer and political analyst

Kamal El Shaer, Political researcher

Omar Ferwana, Dean of Medicine Faculty, IUG

Iyad I. Al-Qarra, Journalist, Palestine newspaper

Musheir El-Farra, Palestinian activist and author

Khalil Namrouti, Associate Professor in Economics, IUG

Moein Rajab, Professor in Economics, Al-Azhar University - Gaza

Basil Nasser, Planning advisor

Hani Albasoos, Associate Professor in Political Science, IUG

Arafat Hilles, Assistant Professor, Al-Quds Open University

Imad Falouji, Head of Adam Center for Dialogue of Civilizations

Moin Naim, Writer and political analyst

Yousri Alghoul, Author

Mohammad Jayyab, Editor of Gaza Journal of Economics

Mousa Lubbad, Lecturer in Finance, Al-Aqsa University

Iskandar Nashwan, Assistant Professor in Accounting, Al-Aqsa University

Shadi AlBarqouni, Graduate Research Assistant

Adnan Abu Amer, Head of Political Department, Al-Umma University

Wael Al Sarraj, Assistant Professor in Computer Science, IUG

Said Namrouti, Lecturer in Human Resource Management, IUG

Khaled Al-Hallaq, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering, IUG

Asad Asad, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs, IUG

Hazem Alhusari, Lecturer in Finance, Al-Aqsa University

Shadi AlBarqouni, Graduate Research Assistant

Deya’a Kahlout, Journalist, Al-Araby newspaper

Raed Salha, Assistant Professor in Geography, IUG

Sameeh Alhadad, Businessman

Tarek M. Eslim, CEO, Altariq Systems and Projects

Sami Almalfouh PhD, Senior engineer

Fayed Abushammalah, Journalist

Fadel Naeim, Chairman of Palestine Physicians Syndicate

Zeyad Al-Sahhar, Associate Professor in Physics , Al-Aqsa University

Iyad Abu Hjayer, Director, Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution

Wael Al-Daya, Associate Professor in Finance, IUG

Younis Eljarou, Head of the Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip

Donia ElAmal Ismail, Head of the Creative Women Association

Zeinab Alghonemi, Head of Women for Legal Consulting 
Amjad AlShawa, Palestinian Nongovernmental Organizations Network (PNGO)

Mohsen Abo Ramadan, Head of Palestinian Nongovernmental Organziations Network (PNGO)

Abed Alhameed Mortaja, Assistant Professor of Linguistics, IUG

Talal Abo Shawesh , Head of Afaq Jadeeda Association

Zohair Barzaq, Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip

Marwan Alsabh, Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip

Ghassan Matar, Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip

Rania Lozon, Writer

Ashraf Saqer, IT Specialist

Samir AlMishal, Mishal Cultural Centre

Jamila Sarhan, Independant Commission for Human Rights

Jalal Arafat, Union of Agricultrual Work Committees

Khalil Abu Shammala, Aldameer Association for Human Rights

Jamila Dalloul, Association Head of Jothor ElZaiton

Maha Abo Zour, Psychologist

Psychologist Ferdous Alkatari

Yousef Awadallah, Health Work Committee

Yousef Alswaiti, Al-Awda Hospital Director

Taysir Alsoltan, Head of Health Work Committees

Taghreed Jomaa, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees

Imad Ifranji, Journalist, Alquds TV

Jehal Alaklouk, Activist

Adel Alborbar, Boycott Committee

Hatem AbuShaban, Board of Trustees of Al-Azhar University - Gaza

Saleh Zaqout, Secretary of the Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip

Mohammed Alsaqqa, Lawyer

Nihad Alsheikh Khalil, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, IUG

Mohsen Alafranji, Lecturer at Media Department, IUG

NNedal Farid, Dean of Business Faculty, Al-Aqsa University

Salem Helles, Dean of Commerce Faculty, IUG

Ahmad Ali PhD, Economic Analysis

Raed M. Zourob PhD, Head of the Department of Preventive Medicine, Ministry of Health

Mosheer Amer, Professor of Lingusitics, IUG

Moheeb Abu Alqumboz, Lecturer

Fatma Mukhalalati, Supreme Court judge

Fahmi Alnajjar, Supreme Court judge

 

 

For the influence of radical Islamist views in Palestinian society:bombing

Runa Khan, a mother of six, was sentenced in December 2014 to more than five years imprisonment in this country for promoting terrorism. There are many, many Palestinian mothers (and fathers) who promote terrorism and extremist views. Runa Khan's views pervade Palestinian society. Runa Khan openly supported suicide bombings, amputation as a punishment and stoning to death. Palestinian majority opinion supports suicide bombings, amputation as a punishment and stoning to death. Palestinian society isn't shocked, on the whole,  to find that a mother wants her children to become suicide bombers. Wafa al-Bass, who was treated at an Israeli hospital for severe burns after a household accident, hasn't been condemned in the Palestinian media for putting on a suicide vest and attempting to bomb the hospital where she was treated.

From the BBC news Website article on Runa Khan.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-30439913

She had 'posted a picture of a suicide vest' on Facebook. '...  police had found photos of Khan's children holding guns and swords.' She had 'posted a message on an extremist website, saying she wished her son would one day become a jihadi.' 'Prosecutor Paul Jarvis said Khan held "extreme Islamist views."

Judge Peter Birts QC described her as an "avowed fundamentalist Islamist holding radical and extreme beliefs".

He said: "You hold to an ideology which espouses jihad as an essential part of the Islamist obligation.

"I sentence you not for your beliefs, abhorrent though they are to all civilised people, but for your actions in disseminating terrorist material with the clear intention of radicalising others."

Referring to her online activities, he said: "Your purpose was to encourage and promote your particular brand of violent fundamentalism. This brand of violent fundamentalism is commonplace in Palestinian society.

"You were deeply committed to radicalising others, including very young children, into violent jihadist extremism.

The judge added: "You appear to have no insight into the effect of radicalising your children, having selfishly placed your own ideology and beliefs above their welfare in your priorities." Runa Khan gave her own children toy guns. On the streets of Gaza, children are given real guns.

Palestinian society: an illustrated indictment

On the streets of Gaza (animal abuse, other abuses)

Some very different examples.  The first, Palestinians mishandling and cutting the throats of cattle imported from Australia.

Some images from a Youtube video which is no longer available because the Youtube account has been terminated.

Warning from the organization 'Animals Australia'

Stabbing a cow in the eyes

Man about to shoot cow in the legs


Brutal handling

The middle east is uniformly reliant on authoritarian rule and Israel is the only exception. The middle east is uniformly oblivious to issues of animal welfare. The only exceptions are isolated individuals in those countries - and the state of Israel. Israel hasn't taken the attitude that, faced by enormous threats, it can neglect every other consideration but survival and protection. It recognizes that civilization requires care for animals. Israel was one of the first countries in the world to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, in 1995. (Britain still has no national ban, although many local authorities do have bans.) On this page (in the left hand column): a demonstration to free a circus elephant in this country.

Israel used to be the fourth largest producer of foie gras in the world. Unlike, of course, France, it banned the production of foie gras, recognizing that the ethical objections were unanswerable.

There are many other developments: animal rights/animal welfare activity in Israel has developed enormously. Israel has even banned dissection of animals in primary and secondary schools. At Universities, dissection is optional. Vegans in the Israeli Defence Force are given vouchers to buy vegan food - and are not required to wear leather boots. Boots made with synthetic materials are provided. Israel has never had a whaling industry but it joined the International Whaling Commission so as to vote against any resumption of whaling. Opposition to the fur trade is intense in Israel. Legislation is being considered which would be the most far-reaching in the world, to prohibit the import, production and sale of all fur products. A survey of Israeli opinion carried out by the polling company Maagar-Mohot gave these results. In answer to the question, 'Do you find it moral to kill animals if they are killed only for their fur?' 86% of Israelis were opposed. On the question, 'Would you support a bill to ban the trade of fur in Israel?' 79% were in favour of a ban.

Palestinian motorcyclists drag through the streets one of those executed as Israeli 'spies.'


Israel has executed only one person since the foundation of the modern state in 1948: Adolf Eichman. I oppose the death penalty for a variety of reasons - see my page on the death penalty - but I agree with the Israeli exception here. None of the Palestinians who survived an attempt at suicide bombing or who killed by other terrorist action have been executed. A truly barbaric country would not have failed to enforce the death penalty. Truly barbaric nations have never failed to execute an a large scale.

The Palestinian authorities execute freely - and not only in the case of Israeli 'spies,' but for ordinary offences. Hamas executed 6 people in 2012. In the same year, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, far more populous, obviously, executed only 1 person in each country. Japan, again, far more populous, executed 7 people.

In many countries, governments are far more liberal than majority opinion. In abolitionist countries, governments often resist calls to reinstate the death penalty, for example. Hamas, a terrorist organization, governs a society where majority opinion is more barbaric than Hamas in matters relating to the death penalty. Although 84% of Palestinians support stoning to death for adultery, adulterers are not even executed by hanging. Although 66% of Palestinians support execution for people who leave Islam, apostates aren't hanged either. The majority of Palestinians would probably support the death penalty for homosexuals, as in Iran, but the maximum penalty is ten years, by Iranian standards barely a slap on the wrist.

Palestinians who claim that Israel executes freely - executes Palestinian citizens - are misusing language. It's essential to preserve the essential distinction between 'murdering' and killing in general and executing and killing in general. John Keegan wrote, in 'The Face of Battle,' 'killing on the scaffold and killing on the battlefield are, of course, markedly dissimilar activities.'  Even in Western Europe, the Nazis carried out many, many executions, for example at Tulle in France, where 99 people were hanged, and during the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane.

None of the failed Palestinian suicide bombers have been executed, no members of Hamas or other terrorist organizations have been executed. A state which never executes its active opponents - to regard Israel as Nazi or worse than Nazi is demented. Nazi Germany publicly hanged at Tulle 99 Frenchmen who were innocent of any crime. This was an exception in Western Europe, although, many, many individuals were executed. In Eastern Europe, similar acts were commonplace.

A statement published by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (whose view of the conflict in Gaza is in general very different from my own) on 22 August 2014:

'The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) is deeply concerned by the extra-judicial and summary executions of suspected collaborators taking place in the Gaza Strip in violation with the law.  On 22nd of August 2014, 18 suspected collaborators including two women were executed by firing squad in different parts of the Gaza Strip.

'ICHR emphasizes on the importance of committing to the rule of law and present suspected criminals before the law through fair trials. Once their criminality is proved, criminals will be sentenced and punished according to the law. While fully  recognizing  the dangerous role those  accused of collaborations  with the  Israeli occupying forces,  ICHR strongly believes that suspected collaborators have the right to a fair trial and should be punished once proven of their collaboration in accordance with the law.

'ICHR confirms that rule of law should be respected and implemented in all circumstances especially in conflict situations and war time.  ICHR therefore calls upon the Palestinian Authority and all political factions in the Gaza Strip to take immediate measures to stop these summary executions and extra-judicial killings and their negative implications which violate the law to allow the legal institutions to take their role in guaranteeing justice, rule of law and respect to human rights.'

The Commission rightly opposes extra-judicial killings but supports judicial execution. A large number of jurisdictions have abolished the death penalty, for all offences or for offences committed in peacetime, and the Commission would do well to consider the arguments for abolition of the death penalty in Gaza, for all offences.

On 10 October 2014,a  Joint Declaration against the Death Penalty was released. It was  signed by these  Foreign Ministers of these (countries).

Héctor Marcos Timerman (Argentina), Julie Bishop (Australia), Nassirou Bako Arifari (Benin), Djibrill Yipènè Bassolé (Burkina Faso), Duly Brutus (Haiti), José Antonio Meade Kuribreña (Mexico), Luvsanvandan Bold (Mongolia), Børge Brende (Norway), Albert F. del Rosario (Philippines), Didier Burkhalter (Switzerland), Mevlüt Çavusoglu (Turkey), Philip Hammond (United Kingdom).

The World Coalition against the death penalty has a good page on the Declaration,

http://www.worldcoalition.org/foreign-ministers-declaration-world-day-against-death-penalty.html

An extract:

'The international declaration released on the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty is an open invitation to all governments, but also to the public at large, to engage in serious investigations and frank discussions on the death penalty. It emphasizes the need for proper information on the risks and shortcomings of the death penalty, including on the irrational fears and hopes often involved in retaining it. 
The declaration aims to dispel the popular myths that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to crime, that it brings victims of crime relief and that a justice system can be free from error. It is believed that once properly discussed, only one conclusion will be made: there are no arguments in favour of the death penalty – only myths, risks and failures (and in some places, very high costs).
The signatories to the declaration are foreign ministers who come from all regions of the world and represent populations with different religions, of varying socio-economic status and culture, demonstrating that abolition is not related to any particular region, but truly universal.'

Opponents of the death penalty are likely to have opposing opinions about matters other than the death penalty. Many opponents of the death penalty will not agree with my views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, for example. Many people who agree with me about the Israel-Palestine conflict will support the death penalty. These are instances of what I refer to as cross-linkage and cross-contrast.

A third example: Gaza Residents Celebrate Ceasefire (the open-ended ceasefire agreed on 26 August, 2104.) In the first twenty seconds of this film, two children are shown holding powerful automatic weapons, a chilling demonstration of a widespread Palestinian attitude to childhood.

Palestinian media

The gross crudity and gross excesses of the Palestinian media are documented on the Website of Palestinian Media Watch, a very comprehensive and very impressive site: www.palwatch.org If the Palestinian media which are documented on the site aren't the worst in the world, then they are surely amongst the worst. Admittedly, the world's worst or almost the worst is a category with a vast range of examples.

Youtube gives samples of children's programs and programmes featuring children which have been broadcast on Palestinian TV. This is one of them: horrific (and repetitive) questioning of the children of a female suicide bomber, who killed five Jews.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay3ztL9wFq8

and this is another: an encouragement to 'beat up Jews and kill the Jews.'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57Q8K5TmivM

'Songs of praise.' Not in this instance the BBC's programme of hymns from parish churches but children singing in praise of suicide bombing on Hamas TV:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3OYjKZ2Cu8

From a Hamas TV programme for adults: the psychotic claim that the Jews planned the Holocaust.


Friday sermon on Hamas TV:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPvc-eTym-Q

The call to 'come and kill' the Jew is frequently quoted in Gaza. This is what happened after Palestinians carried out an attack on a pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001. It killed 15 Jews, including children, and injured 130 others. From the Associated Press report:

“Palestinian university students opened an exhibition that included a grisly re-enactment” of that mass murder. The students built a replica of the Sbarro pizzeria, with fake blood, splattered pizza, a plastic hand dangling from the ceiling, and a fake severed leg wearing jeans and a bloody black sneaker.

“The exhibit also includes a large rock in front of a mannequin wearing the black hat, black jacket and black trousers typically worn by ultra-Orthodox Jews. A recording from inside the rock calls out: ‘O believer, there is a Jewish man behind me. Come and kill him,’” The exhibition became a popular attraction in Palestine. Children were taken to see it.

Financial support for Palestinian terrorists

The subject is discussed in many places. The article 'How British and American aid subsidises Palestinian terrorism' by Edward Black, published in 'The Guardian'  is one:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/11/british-american-aid-subsidises-palestinian-terrorism

An extract:

'On both sides of the pond, in London and Washington, policymakers are struggling to weather their budget crises. Therefore, it may astound American and British taxpayers that the precious dollars and pounds they deploy in Israel and the Occupied Territories fungibly funds terrorism.

'The instrument of this funding is US and UK programs of aid paid to the Palestinian Authority. This astonishing financial dynamic is known to most Israeli leaders and western journalists in Israel. But it is still a shock to most in Congress and many in Britain's Parliament, who are unaware that money going to the Palestinian Authority is regularly diverted to a program that systematically rewards convicted prisoners with generous salaries. These transactions in fact violate American and British laws that prohibit US funding from benefiting terrorists. More than that, they could be seen as incentivizing murder and terror against innocent civilians.

'Here's how the system works. When a Palestinian is convicted of an act of terror against the Israeli government or innocent civilians, such as a bombing or a murder, that convicted terrorist automatically receives a generous salary from the Palestinian Authority.

...

'About 6% of the Palestinian budget is diverted to prisoner salaries. All this money comes from so-called "donor countries" such as the United States, Great Britain, Norway, and Denmark. Palestinian officials have reacted with defiance to any foreign governmental effort to end the salaries.'

A site which deals with the subject very comprehensively. 

http://www.notaxesforterror.com/

An extract:

'The PA does not discriminate: terrorists from every group - Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad - get funding.'

...

'The salaries are usually far higher than the West Bank average wage of $533/month and sometimes higher than those of any other civil servants ... The worst offenders, those who commit mass murder, get the top wage of 12,000 shekels ($3,400) per month—up to 10 times more than the average pay.'

Suicide bombing and 'Nazi, genocidal Israelis'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq9EkBZ6LmA

A film about Wafa al-Bass, who was treated at an Israeli hospital for severe burns caused by the explosion of a gas cylinder whilst she was cooking.  (The sub-titles are in French but the commentary is in English.) The hospital received a thank you letter ('une lettre de remerciements' in the sub-title below) from her family. The care she received at the hospital, it said, was 'wonderful and warm.'

The treatment was as different from Nazi, genocidal treatment as can be imagined. Is this the action of a 'genocidal' state? Or are Palestinians cynically misusing words?

Before going back to the hospital for further treatment, she put on a suicide bomber's vest. She stated that she intended to blow herself up, together with Israelis, at the outpatient clinic of the hospital (the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva.) She later said she had been angry about allegations that  guards had ripped out pages from the Qur'an at an Israeli prison, claims denied by Israel. She said, 'What angered me and the Palestinian people is the abuse of the Qur'an. Should we sit in silence with our hands tied?'

She was stopped as she crossed into Israel at the Erez Crossing and tried to explode the bomb. The detonator failed. She was imprisoned for some years and then released. The mildness of the punishment is in stark contrast with the portrayal of the Israelis in Palestine Solidarity circles. (The Nazis would have executed her and hundreds of others who had nothing to do with the incident.) Before being imprisoned, she showed remorse but after being relased, she told the schoolchildren gathered at her home in Northern Gaza to welcome her back, 'I hope you will walk the same path we took and if Allah so wills, we will see some of you as martyrs.'

From www.beyondimages.info

'In September 2004 Suhad Aslan, was sent by the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the Gaza Strip to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel, after she required medical treatment in the Al-Muqaddas hospital in Jerusalem. The plan had been for her to rendezvous with the bomb planners at the hospital who would instruct her where to go to carry out the attack.  Israeli security personnel arrested her before the attack could be carried out.'

From the algemeiner

'A report published ... by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) shows that 219,464 Palestinian patients received medical treatment in Israeli hospitals during 2012 – 21,270 of them children. These numbers include companions accompanying the patients to Israel.

'The numbers show a dramatic increase in Palestinians receiving treatment from Israeli medical professionals. 197,713 Palestinians received medical treatment in Israel in 2011, and 144,838 in 2008.'

A report not specifically concerned with suicide bombing (despite the title of the film), from the Israeli media, not the Palestinian media. The woman from Gaza in this video has a child being treated in an Israeli hospital for a heart condition. She hopes that on recovery, he will become a 'Shahid,' the word translated in reports in English as 'martyr.'

The word 'shahid' is used for Moslems who die during Jihad, in the military expansion of Islam, and often, for Moslems who die as suicide bombers.

Another 'shahid:'
From Fatah’s Facebook page,

'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Shaloudi, who died as a Martyr (Shahid) on the noble soil of Jerusalem. Rest in peace, we are loyal to you.”
 “And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision." (Quran, Sura 3:169, translation Sahih International) 
The Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) - Silwan branch accompanies to his wedding the heroic Martyr Abd Al-Rahman Al-Shaloudi,
who carried out the Jerusalem operation, in which settlers in the occupied city of Jerusalem were run over.'

The driver killed a three year old girl with his car, and injured eight people. 

Pew Research: Muslim Views on Suicide Bombing

http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/07/01/concerns-about-islamic-extremism-on-the-rise-in-middle-east/pg-2014-07-01-islamic-extremism-10/

Notes: Asked of Muslims only.

Question wording: "Some people think that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Other people believe that, no matter what the reason, this kind of violence is never justified. Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified to defend Islam, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?" [Source: Spring 2014 Global Attitudes survey. Q100]

Results: %  responses Often justified / sometimes justified


                 
 From a report in the Jerusalem Post.

'Sources say the daughter of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was treated in Tel Aviv.was admitted to an Israeli hospital for emergency medical treatment this month after she suffered complications from a routine procedure, two sources familiar with the case said.

...

'Haniyeh, who has 13 children, is the leader of the Islamist group in Gaza and one of its most senior figures overall, serving as a deputy to Khaled Meshaal, who lives in exile.

...

'Butt he said that in most cases a request by a Palestinian doctor to allow a patient across the border for urgent treatment was sufficient - indicating Haniyeh may not have been personally involved in his daughter's application.

...

'Israeli media has reported that one of Haniyeh's granddaughter's was treated in an Israeli hospital last November, while his mother-in-law sought treatment in a Jerusalem hospital in June.'


The IRA conducted their dogged, doomed, futile struggle using as their main weapons bombs and bullets. In their planting of bombs, they were extraordinarily fastidious compared with Hamas in its prime, far more ethical, even though the reality was shocking.  The paramilitaries of the IRA sometimes blew themselves up  by accident as a result of mistakes or  incompetence, but they never blew themselves up deliberately, killing as many civilians as possible at the same time. Hamas and other Palestinian groups did, of course. The suicide bombings were carried out from 1989 until 2008 and killed a total of 804 people.

More on the Troubles in Northern Ireland and my own experiences.

Homosexuality

(I'm not myself gay. I decided to use 'homosexual' rather than 'gay' in this section, despite misgivings. The documents I quote from the Pew Research Center and the United Nations use 'homosexual.')

 
Richard Elliott, writing in 'The Commentator:'

' ... the Palestinian authority in the Gaza strip still legislates that homosexuality is illegal and faces severe penalties of up to10 years in prison. The West Bank is a slightly different matter; homosexuality was made legal as far back as 1951, and there has been no repealing of this law.

'The difference between the West Bank and the Gaza strip, however, is that the legalisation of homosexuality in the former was installed by the Jordanians, not the Palestinians.

'The legal punishments in place for homosexuals in Gaza may strike many readers as terrible; but the social injustices often outweigh the legal ones. In Russia, while the injustices enforced by law are technicalities compared to the far more serious civil intolerance and often physical cruelty which gay men face, so it follows that the social outweighs the legal in Palestine.  

'Several years in prison, as is the legal recommendation for homosexuality in Gaza, is nothing compared to what could happen if a gay man were to fall foul of a gang of radical Islamists ...

'There is nothing new about gay Palestinians fleeing to Israel because of the hostility they face from their fellow countrymen. Reports dating back to at least 2003 from the BBC suggest that many gay Palestinians who undertake the risk of fleeing to Israel feel far safer and socially accepted there than in their native Palestine.

'Palestinian homosexuals in Israel proper are grateful for the legal protection they receive from the kind of intolerant violence many men sharing their orientation are used to in Palestine; a report documented in a piece for Vice magazine suggests that there are at least 2,000 homosexual men originating from the Palestinian territories living in pluralist Tel-Aviv. Evidence that integration of Palestinian homosexuals works is that the gay bars in Tel-Aviv are filled with both Arabs and Jews.

'There is at present a large community of Arabs working to institute LGBT rights in Palestine, working under the name Al-Qaws. No doubt this is a noble endeavour, but one cannot help but notice the irony when the article states both that Al-Qaws is based in Jerusalem, and that the next edition of their monthly ‘Palestinian Queer Party’ is given the location of “TBD, Israel”.

'None of what I have mentioned is in any way an attempt to justify Russia’s recent reversion of tolerant standards; but the comparison with Palestine, the championed moral cause of so many, is worth noting.'

Anyone who has a strong interest in gay issues should devote time to the Iranian regime and its ruthless attitude. Iran, not Israel, not in the least Israel, is an enemy of gay rights. Boycotting Israel whilst excusing Iran is not just ridiculous but monstrous, for anyone who detests persecution of gay people, and in general, I'd claim. This is from the 'Guardian' (3 September, 2011):

'Three Iranian men have been executed after being found guilty of charges related to homosexuality, according to a semi-official news agency.

The men, only identified by their initials, were hanged on Sunday in the south-western city of Ahvaz, the capital of Iran's Khuzestan province.

"The three convicts were sentenced to death based on the articles 108 and 110 of Iran's Islamic penal code, for acts against the sharia law and bad deeds," the Isna agency quoted a judiciary official in Khuzestan as saying.

Iran Human Rights, an independent NGO based in Norway, said the men were charged with "lavat" – sexual intercourse between two men.' The page Persecution of Homosexuals (Palestinian Authority area) contains strong claims, with supporting evidence:

Quotes:

'What seems less well known, however, is the appalling treatment of gays under Yassir Arafat's Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza. [Since that time, the situation seems not to have improved out of all recognition.] At least it was less known until Yossi Klein Halevi wrote about it in the August 19th New Republic. Palestine makes rural Texas look like San Francisco.

'According to Halevi, one young man discovered to be gay was forced by Palestinian Authority police "to stand in sewage water up to his neck, his head covered by a sack filled with feces, and then he was thrown into a dark cell infested with insects." During one interrogation Palestinian police stripped him and forced him to sit on a Coke bottle.

'When he was released he fled to Israel. If he were forced to return to Gaza, he said, "The police would kill me."

'An American who foolishly moved into the West Bank to live with his Palestinian lover said they told everyone they were just friends, but one day they "found a letter under our door from the Islamic court. It listed the five forms of death prescribed by Islam for homosexuality, including stoning and burning. We fled to Israel that same day," he said.

'The head of a Tel Aviv gay organization told Halevi, "The persecution of gays in the Palestinian Authority doesn't just come from the families or the Islamic groups, but from the P.A. itself."

'Palestinian police have increasingly enforced Islamic religious law, he said: "It's now impossible to be an open gay in the P.A." He recalled that one gay man in the Palestinian police went to Israel for a short time. When he returned to the West Bank, Palestinian Authority police confined him to a pit without food or water until he died.

'A 17-year-old gay youth recalled that he spent months in a Palestinian Authority prison "where interrogators cut him with glass and poured toilet cleaner into his wounds."

'The U.S. State Department, which more and more seems to be living on some other planet, blandly noted in a 2001 human rights report, "In the Palestinian territories homosexuals generally are socially marginalized and occasionally receive physical threats." That's one way to put it. 'In the last few years, Halevi reports, hundreds of gay Palestinians, mostly from the West Bank, have fled to Israel, usually to Tel Aviv, Israel's most cosmopolitan city. Many are desperately poor, he says, "but at least they're beyond the reach of their families and the P.A.

. . .

' ... Many Palestinian gays say they would still rather live under house arrest in Israel, where homosexuality is not considered a crime, than at home.

...

'A 21-year-old university student with serious professional ambitions, Nawal wouldn't dream of performing in his hometown, where homosexuality, as in the rest of the Palestinian territories, is strictly taboo, sometimes violently so. Last year, a group of gay Palestinians visiting East Jerusalem from the United States were threatened and one of them badly beaten after they announced plans to join an Israeli gay pride rally ...'

United Nations statements shouldn't be considered sacrosanct, beyond criticism. Far too often they are biased, misguided or partial. But this declaration, from the UN News Centre, is far from misguided, I'm sure.

 http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=37026#.VHWVf3lyawU

'Universal decriminalization of homosexuality a human rights imperative – Ban

'10 December 2010 – Noting that over 70 countries still consider homosexuality a crime, Secretary-General  Ban Ki-moon today appealed for its complete and universal decriminalization ...

'In an event on sexual orientation at UN Headquarters in New York, held in conjunction with Human Rights Day, Mr. Ban deplored discrimination against homosexuals and the violence of which they are often victims, for which the perpetrators escape punishment.

' "Together, we seek the repeal of laws that criminalize homosexuality, that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, that encourage violence,” he said. “When individuals are attacked, abused or imprisoned because of their sexual orientation, we must speak out. We cannot stand by. We cannot be silent.

“This is all the more true in cases of violence. These are not merely assaults on individuals. They are attacks on all of us. They devastate families. They pit one group against another, dividing larger society. And when the perpetrators of violence escape without penalty, they make a mockery of the universal values we hold dear.” '

Repeal of anti-homosexual laws in Gaza - when is it going to happen? Soon or never?

Holocaust denial and a 'war crime'

Above, scene at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Below, crematorium at Dachau concentration camp

Colonel William W Quinn of the US 7th Army said of the concentration camp at Dachau: 'There our troops found sights, sounds, and stenches horrible beyond belief, cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind.'

Trooper Fred Smith, who took part in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, wrote, '"Because the German civilians in nearby towns were still in denial, we took them to the camp to see what had happened.'

In its attitude to the Holocaust, Hamas is in denial and too many Palestinians are in denial. Dachau was liberated by soldiers from the American Seventh Army and Bergen-Belsen was liberated by British and Canadian troops. The number of witnesses is very large. Do these Palestinians doubt their testimony? Who is doing the lying? Not these soldiers and other witnesses.

The Holocaust is inextricably linked with Nazi atrocities to non-Jews. Do these Palestinians accept that non-Jews of many different nationalities died at Bergen-Belsen and Dachau (they included many Russian prisoners of war at Bergen-Belsen) but that no Jews died there? Do they accept that 2 000 Romani people died at the extermination camp at Treblinka but refuse to accept that at least 700 000 Jews were exterminated there? Do they accept that SS troops hanged almost 100 French non-Jews and that more than 100 others died at Dachau but that the executions of Jews throughout occupied Europe, enormous in number, are fictitious?
Palestinian holocaust denial is part of a much larger issue: Palestinian denial (or denial by many, many Palestinians) of any evidence which is in conflict with Palestinian ideology. Many, many Palestinians refuse to accept overwhelming. evidence. Palestinian denial (or the denial of many, many Palestinians ... ) that the Holocaust ever took place contradicts the Palestinian belief that the Holocaust did take place but that the Jews planned it.

Wikipedia has a good page on  the dispute between Hamas and the United Nations Reflief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which planned to include coverage of the Holocaust in schools it ran in the Palestinian territories. An extract from the page:

'Protesting what it said were plans to teach eighth-graders in U.N. schools about the Holocaust, the Hamas-affiliated Popular Committee of Palestinain refugees  sent an open letter to the chief of UNRWA offices calling the Holocaust "a lie made up by the Zionists" and demanding it "immediately" erase the part that speaks about the Holocaust from the Palestinian pupils' curriculum.

...

'The head of Hamas' education committee in Gaza, Abdul Rahman el-Jamal, said that the Holocaust was a "big lie".

...

'Hamas spiritual leader Yunis al-Astal  said teaching children about the Nazi genocide of Jews would be "marketing a lie", and characterized the possible introduction of the subject into Gaza schools as a "war crime".

...

'Jamila al-Shanti, a Hamas legislative official, said: "Talk about the Holocaust and the execution of the Jews contradicts and is against our culture, our principles, our traditions, values, heritage and religion" '.

Palestinian Media Watch gives disturbing insights into the vicious and warped Holocaust denial and distortion indulged in by so many Palestinians.

Extracts from a very candid interview with John Ging, head of UNRWA's operations in Gaza, from Adi Schwartz's site.

Are people in Gaza aware to the fact that they are responsible for their situation?

'We teach the children of Gaza the consequences of suicide bombing and of throwing rockets in Israel. They cannot turn around and be self indulgent of irresponsible behavior. We also teach them that on the other side there are good human beings who want nothing more than a peaceful solution to the conflict but their legitimate concern is that of security because of their experience. Due to history, people in Gaza have to prove to their neighbors that they are truly committed to peace”.

'Ging’s relationship with Hamas, the Islamic movement that controls the Gaza Strip, are far from being good, and he was even the victim of an unsuccessful assassination attempt in 2007. “We have a component of the population in Gaza which is very violent, destructive and extremist”, he says. “There is violence against Israel and also inside Gaza, for example against UNRWA’s schools. The extremists accuse us of the feminization of the society, which is the equal opportunity that we are teaching and of which we are proud. The violence is directed towards anyone who seeks to promote universal values”.

'What role is Hamas playing in the Gaza Strip? Is it helping the human development of the population?

“The economy of Gaza has collapsed during the period of Hamas governance creating unprecedented levels of impoverishment. The public services are overstretched and overburdened as there is no investment or development. The impact that Hamas has made on the economic status of the general population is negligible, as it is the donations of the international community that sustain the population.'

 


Gaza: starvation and obesity 


Compare and contrast the Siege of Leningrad and the Siege of Gaza. During the 900 days of the Siege of Leningrad (earlier and now again called St Petersburg) when the city was encircled by Nazi forces, 800 000 Russians died of starvation, about a third of the population at the beginning of the siege, reduced to eating wallpaper paste, in some cases, when rats were unavailable.

According to The Economist's 'Pocket World in Figures' (2007) Gaza and the West Bank had many people anything but emaciated, despite the Israeli 'siege.'  42.5% of women were classified as obese, the third highest in the world, and 23.9% of men, the eighth highest.

Steffen Jensen, a Danish reporter, wrote about food for sale in Gaza in 2010:

'Judging from the media, the situation in Gaza is desperate, everything is about to collapse, and the community is on the brink or at the level of a third world country.

'The Palestinian community's immediate downfall has been prophesied numerous times in the media. People have nothing to eat, we sometimes know. The UN must from time to time to stop food distribution, either because their stocks are running low, or because they can not get diesel for their trucks, and therefore can not carry food in. And so on.
...

'When I yesterday morning drove through Gaza City, I was immediately surprised that there are almost as many traffic jams as there always has been. Is there not a shortage of fuel? Apparently not. Gasoline is not even rationed.

' ... I went over to the Shati refugee camp, also known as Beach Camp. Here is one of Gaza's many vegetable markets that sell much more than just fruits and vegetables.

'I will not say whether, in better times has been a larger product range than there was yesterday. But there was certainly no shortage of vegetables, fruits or any other ordinary, basic foods. Tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, watermelons, potatoes - mountains of these items in the many stalls.

'I must admit I was a little surprised. Because when I call down here to my Palestinian friends, they tell me about all the problems and deficiencies, so I expected that the crisis was a little more clear.

'And the first woman we interviewed in the market confirms this strange, contradictory, negative mindset:

' "We have nothing," she said. We need everything! Food, drinks ... everything! "

'It disturbed her not at least that she stood between the mountains of vegetables, fruit, eggs, poultry and fish, while she spun this doomsday scenario.

'Yousuf al-Assad Yazgy owns a fruit and vegetable outlet here in the market. All his fruit is imported from Israel.

' "Not all fruit and all vegetables come from Israel. Ours does. They come from Israel. But in the Gaza Strip there is not very much fruit cultivated ... " '

From Elder of Ziyon

How is a 10% stunting rate [for children in the Palestinian territories] considered terrible in 2009 and 11.5% considered outstanding in 2011? It depends on what propaganda goal you have in what you are writing. When you want to demonize Israel, you cherry pick numbers to make the health situation look bad; when you want to make the PA look good and ready for a state you do the exact opposite. That "objective data" mentioned in the NYT is now seen to have been presented in the most subjective manner possible - by not comparing it to similar territories worldwide.

And by the way, both those numbers seemed to have been taken from studies made in 2006. Did things worsen? 

Well, the Lancet followed up in 2010, and reported on a newer 2008 Bir Zeit study:

6% of 1883 children who were assessed were stunted (8% of 930 boys vs 3% of 950 girls, p=0·01), less than 1% had wasting, 2% were underweight, 11% were anaemic (7% of boys vs 14% of girls), and 15% were overweight and obese (11% of boys vs 20% of girls; 11% were overweight, and 4% were obese).
Between 2006 and 2008 - when Israel already had the blockade in Gaza - children in the territories got a lot fatter, and stunting went down seemingly dramatically, from 11.5% to only 6%! 

Stunting rates according to a UNICEF report of November 2009:

Qatar 8%
Palestinian Territories- 10%
Algeria - 15
Lebanon - 11
Jordan - 12
Oman - 13
UAE - 17
Saudi Arabia - 20
Libya - 21
Morocco - 23
Kuwait - 24
Iraq - 26
Syria - 28
Egypt - 29
Yemen – 58

Sentimentality and distortion




How could whoever posted the image above imagine that 'saving Gaza' would save humanity at the same time? (or perhaps a little later.) 'Saving Gaza' is difficult enough, whatever the interpretation of 'saving,' but 'saving humanity' is impossible. Anyone who would like to help to 'save Gaza' would be well advised to do so by offering constructive criticism, since 'saving Gaza' is much the same as saving Gaza from its own mistaken acts and policies, the dangerous delusions which fester in Gaza. Whenever healthy self-criticism is lacking, the best course of action is to offer healthy criticism, in the hope that the capacity for self-criticism will take root. All the same, Gaza is hard and unpromising ground.

Did the person who posted the image believe that a Gaza without Israeli actions would be a guarantee of peace and stability? Did this person imagine that all terrorist organizations, ISIS included, would leave the infant state in blissful contentment and have no interest in easy pickings?  What was the identity of this person? What sort of person? I found it was someone called Yasir Mukhtar, an Indonesian Moslem whose blog isn't entirely in the same rarified realm. It even makes concrete claims, all false,  including these. The last two are laughable, the first is despicable:

'There is a heavy indoctrination in Israel, from an early age in schools, which uses the holocaust to create paranoia and fear against ‘the enemy.’

'All media in Israel has to go through the IDF [Israeli Defence Force] censorship.

'All police departments in the US are trained by the Israeli military and are taught the same brutal tactics used against Palestinians.'

This mixture of mawkish-ethereal claptrap when the subject is Gaza and shameless distortion and falsification when the subject is Israel is a familiar one.

The Website of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign has a photo which shows a large banner, and on it is inscribed this sentimental sentiment, the prose equivalent of doggerel (but perhaps the members of SPSC think of it as not prose but poetry):





Freedom and partial freedom

 
Time for users of slogans such as 'Freedom for Gaza!' to give some thought to some potential difficulties and  to some overwhelmingly likely difficulties.

Have you given nearly enough thought to the place of disillusionment, disappointment, crushing disappointment in human experience? Have you given nearly enough thought to the fragility of freedom and the limitations of freedom? Nobody is completely free. The experience is captured in this quotation, from Yeats' 'Parnell' ('New Poems'):

Parnell came down the road, he said to a cheering man:
'Ireland shall get her freedom and you still break stone.'

I quote these lines in the section The present: the residue of the Troubles of the page 'Ireland and Northern Ireland: distortions and illusions.'

Back-breaking work continues after the attainment of freedom. The freedom here is 'freedom from British rule,' but, as I point out in the section The Second World War of the same page, the freedom of the Irish Free State during the Second World War would have been lost if it had not been for the protection of Britain:

'According to the mythology of Irish nationalists,  nobody has suffered like the Irish, nobody has exploited others like the English. [Compare the mythology of the Palestinians: nobody has suffered like the Palestinians, nobody has exploited others like Israel.] But in a conflict which was more devastating than any other in history, which inflicted suffering on a greater scale than any other, the English, and the other countries of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, a constituent part of the United Kingdom, carried on the war against Hitler alone, for a time, with exiled groups from many countries and volunteers from many countries, including volunteers from the Irish Republic, who served in large numbers. Irish nationalism and the Irish Free State stood aside and did nothing. The IRA actively sought help from the Germans. During The Second World War, the Irish Free State was neutral. After the death of Hitler, condolences were offered from only two sources, Portugal and the government of The Irish Republic. 'The Cruel Sea' is a popular novel by Nicholas Monsarrat.' The factual claims here are confirmed by Brian Girvin in his scholarly 'The Emergency: Neutral Ireland 1939 - 1945).

'...it was difficult to withhold one's contempt from a country such as Ireland, whose battle this was and whose chances of freedom and independence in the event of a German victory were nil.'

If it had not been for British sacrifices, the Irish of the Irish Free State would have lost their freedoms and had to submit to the domination of incomparably worse rulers than the British: the Nazis.

Pro-Palestinian activists are lacking in political imagination if they can't envisage invasion and rule by forces vastly less enlightened than the Israelis. If they were ever to succeed in their objectives (overwhelmingly unlikely) they would have the responsibility of organizing an effective defence. They would no doubt be able to give excuses for not doing so and give excuses for incompetence, but they would most likely pay the price and go under.

Even if the worst possibilities are never realized, pro-Palestinian activists need to be reminded - but they should be capable of realizing this without any reminder - that freedom includes the freedom to commit blunders, the freedom to make a catastrophic mistake, or a whole series of catastrophic mistakes, for that matter.


The Palestine Solidarity  Campaign and its Index

The 'Index Librorum Prohibitorum' ('List of Prohibited Books) of 1599, replaced by the 'Tridentine Index,' abolished only in 1966, was a list of publications regarded as heretical by the Roman Catholic Church. It was intended  to protect the faith and morals of the faithful. 

There are indications that a PalSoliCamp Index may be emerging. The PalSoliCamp Index of prohibited fruit, vegetables and other foodstuffs, cosmetics, flags and other non-edible products, books, articles, advertisements, films, videos, sound recordings, Websites, emails, tweets, statistical analyses, philosophically possible worlds, maps, timetables, cartoons, jokes, doodles, graffiti, wishes, hopes, aspirations and thoughts - but not limited to these - is designed to protect the faith and morals of the faithful members and supporters of PalSoliCamp as well as the whole population of this country and eventually every other country by preventing the reading, writing, watching, speaking, singing, listening to and thinking of material regarded as heretical.

An example of the kind of prohibited material which the Index would rigorously ban, in this instance statistical analysis (from the Website of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign):

'October 1, 2014

'An open letter signed by 7,000 people was today sent to the BBC calling for the removal of the broadcaster's Head of Statistics from all reporting on Palestine and Israel.

'The demand followed an article published on the BBC website, in which the Head of Statistics, Anthony Reuben, misused Palestinian casualty figures in an attempt to back up Israel's claims that it had not targeted civilians during its July/August assault on Gaza.'

This is an extract from an email I sent to one PalSoliCamp would-be censor, Willem Meijs (more below in the section Heckling the boycotters.) I began by quoting from an email he had sent me:

' ... you no longer have my permission to use my text, in whole or in part.' What? Is he serious? People who are sent an email can be forbidden to quote some of the email or all the email, if the sender disapproves? Anyone who has found evidence that the boycotters have too much of a tendency to prohibit, too much of a tendency to demand, that the boycotters have a limited view of freedom of expression, will find this demand of his not too surprising.

'At the end of his first email, Willem Meijs wrote this: 'I would appreciate it if you put the above piece on your Linkagenet site in full. If you want to cut or alter things, please consult with me first via this email address, wjmeijs@gmail.com'

At least this was nearer to a request than a demand, but the urge to control seems never very far away. I was supposed to consult him, ask his permission. I wasn't supposed to decide what should and shouldn't appear on my own Website! If this isn't actual censorship, it's not libertarianism  either. So, an abrupt volte-face, and some contradictory demands. Publish my text in full! Don't publish any of my text! Or publish only parts, after you've got my approval.

It's unrealistic to expect that a Website should publish a long email as a matter of course. An atheistic Website, which gives extended arguments against Christianity, can't be expected to publish a long email from an evangelical Christian - or ten of them, if ten evangelicals make the same request, or demand - adorned with quotes from The New Testament to establish the claim that everybody should accept Christ as their personal lord and saviour and quotes from The Old Testament, as 'evidence' that the authors were prophesying the coming of the saviour. Willem's arguments were 'standard stuff,' put forward very often, and  demonstrably partial, misleading or much worse - full of falsehoods.'

The Links section of this page includes an entry for 'Stand for Peace,' which has a page on the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign:

http://standforpeace.org.uk/palestine-solidarity-campaign-2/

Below, extracts from the page. There are many members of PalSoliCamp  who don't in the least hold the deranged views of so many of the individuals whose views and actions are described in these extracts, who don't in the least endorse the views of Gilad Atzmon, for example. They may not endorse the policies and acts of vile people, vile organizations and vile countries, they may simply want to see a free Palestinian state living in peace, but there are many, many reasons why their idyllic vision is overwhelmingly unlikely to be realized. Most of the optimistic hopes of the Arab Spring have been frustrated. There's absolutely no reason to think that a 'liberated' Palestine  would not be in the least danger of falling into the clutches of the Islamic State or another ultra-extremist group, or the least danger of civil war.  It's absolute folly - madness - to ignore or antagonize or not accept gratefully the support of Israel, the one democracy in the Middle East. To ignore every strategic consideration, every consideration of national interest by treating Israel and Hamas as equally worthy of support or - more likely - preferring Hamas to Israel, is deranged - not nearly as deranged as the views of Gilad Atzmon, but deranged enough.

From the Stand for Peace Website ('Stand for Peace' isn't the best of names, I think). The material may perhaps give undue prominence to the most fanatical element in PalSoliCamp. I think it likely that the different branches vary markedly in the balance between 'fanatics' and 'moderates:' but the moderates, in my experience, give analyses and propose 'solutions' which are not based on good arguments or good evidence.

The PSC employs a liberal and democratic narrative to advocate its message, and portrays itself as an organisation committed to supporting human rights. We believe the reality to be very different.

merely propagating the views of guest speakers; PSC members have repeatedly espoused virulently racist views – rhetoric almost identical to that encouraged by far-right organizations.

... The PSC’s bigotry is ...  accused of homophobia. In 2006, Outrage, an organization that campaigns for gay rights around the world, attended a PSC event at which they raised concerns about the systematic brutalization and murder of gay people in Gaza and the Disputed Territories. They were subsequently attacked ..

The failure of the PSC leadership to condemn the activities of its core members, while at the same time providing national platform for fascist ideologues such as Salah, is indicative of, at best, toleration of such ideas; and at worst, endorsement.

Well-meaning organizations that collaborate with the PSC on the basis of a presumed mutual belief in human rights, democracy and peace, should be informed of the PSC’s true nature ...

The PSC engages in a great deal of political lobbying, and regularly appeals to both British and EU politicians. It manages a group of MPs who coordinate their activities and raise relevant issues in Parliament – working to bring those putatively responsible for “war crimes” to justice, lobbying government to ban the import of settlement goods, and demanding an end to Britain’s arms trade with Israel. The PSC also calls upon the EU to suspend its Association Agreements with Israel. 

The website of Waltham Forest PSC recommends, and links to, the notorious Deir Yassin Remembered website, an organisation heavily criticised for its promotion of Holocaust denial

Merton has claimed that the brutal murders in Norway by Anders Breivik were part of a conspiracy by the Israeli government.

Gill Kaffash is the former Secretary ]of the Camden branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Here are her comments to Iranian news agency IRNA about the Holocaust:

“There is no doubt that a great number of Jews along with other victims of the Nazi army were killed by Hitler. However, historical phenomena need to be further examined to uncover the truth. Therefore banning opposition to the theses termed as `invariable reality` is irrational.”

Paul Eisen has noted that while he was supporting Holocaust denial within the PSC, Kaffash provided 'solidarity', as noted in his essay, ‘My Life as a Holocaust Denier’.

Sammi Ibrahem was chair of the West Midlands PSC, and runs an anti-Jewish website called Shoah.org.uk. Ibrahem is not a Holocaust denier; rather, and far more shockingly, he supports the Nazi attempt to eradicate the Jewish people. Ibrahem has voiced his admiration for the Nazi regime and poured scorn on Jewish holocaust victims. Here,he laments the trials of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg:

“I bow my head in reverence to those who were judicially murdered at Nuremberg. They were the world’s martyrs, not villains. Not one of them would have been condemned to death in a fair trial – not one! They sacrificed an entire nation, and in the end themselves, to save Western civilization. They were defeated by thugs in robes and gangsters in uniform – and by the conspiracies hatched by shysters from the ghettos of Eastern Europe.”

The Liverpool PSC website includes a page titled "The Power of Zionists"  The first item under this headline is this cartoon, showing a Jewish man with a hooked nose and a Star of David flag, ordering an American soldier to fight a war.

In 2011, a protest outside the Israeli embassy, partly organised by the PSC, had the crowds waving Hezbollah and Hamas flags – groups that have both declared their wish to eradicate the Jewish people from the face of the earth.

The crowds chanted ‘Khybar, Khybar al-Yahud’. Al-Yahud is Arabic for ‘the Jews’, and Khybar is in reference to the ancient slaughter of the Jewish tribe in Medina. In other words: Slaughter the Jews.


The PSC has openly and repeatedly made clear its support for Hamas. In October 2010, PSC representatives met with Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza, who has made deeply homophobic and anti-Semitic comments.

In January 2009, he called for the killing of Jewish children “all over the world” and in an interview published by Reuters on 28 October 2010, he attacked the West for supporting Israel, saying “you do not live like human beings. You do not [even] live like animals. You accept homosexuality”. On 29 July 2011 Zahar said “we are not going to accept Israel as the owner of one square centimetre because it is a fabricated state.”

T
he list of examples could go on and on. To make our point, let’s take a look at just one PSC branch, based in York, whose senior members include staff from the University of York.

In
2009, Andrew Collingwood, a PSC activist, published photos of a protest in which he was involved, including one of a placard that featured a witch with accentuated Jewish features, which posited that anti-Semitism is a made-up concept.

In
2004 a vigil was held at Clifford’s Tower to commemorate the terrible massacre of Jews in 1190. This was gatecrashed by PSC activists, who saw fit to exploit the massacre of more than 110 Jews with their own political agitprop.

Endorsement of the far-right and overt anti-semitism now appears commonplace within the PSC. Reading PSC member Anthony Gratrex recently wrote:

'I
nfamous lunatic Gilad Atzmon is also a favourite of many PSC members. Atzmon claims that Fagin and Shylock accurately represent Jewish identity, the credit crunch was caused by the Jews, the Holocaust is a religion, and Hitler may be proved right about the Jews.'

 Tony Gosling, darling of the Bristol PSC, told the Muslim News  he was “personally disgusted” by books that teach about homosexual relationships: “No way should kids be indoctrinated in this way. Anyone who says so is branded as homophobic which they are not; it’s the gay mafia in full swing.'

In
early 2011, a Facebook page appeared calling for renewed violence in the Palestinian territories. The page contained the text: “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. The first two intifadas claimed thousands of Palestinian and Israeli lives, many of whom were murdered by terrorist attacks. The PSC joined the cacophony of extremist voices jcalling for a renewal of such ‘resistance’.

Following a great deal of support from pro-violence movements for a Third Intifada, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign helped organise a rally in favour ...

T
he PSC’s own website 
notes that it “works closely with trade unions and currently has seventeen unions affiliated – representing more than 80% of trade union members of the TUC – while a growing number of trade union branches and regions are affiliating to the campaign.” PSC chair Hugh Lanning is also the deputy chair of the Public Commercial Services Union.

B
ritain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC)  ended its annual conference with a call on its affiliates to review any bilateral relations they might have with Israeli organisations.

According to an amendment proposed by the PCS civil service union, “Congress calls on all unions on the basis of this policy to review their bi-lateral relations with all Israeli organisations, including Histadrut.”

TULIP, a pro-peace organisation dedicated to bringing Israeli and Palestinian trade unions together noted with disappointment:

'
Israel is being singled out, and the Histadrut is being isolated, because that is what the Iranian regime wants – and it using not only its proxies in Hamas and Hizbollah to do so, but its arm in the British trade union movement – the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

'T
he PSC has successfully pushed British unions to uncritically embrace the view of the rabidly anti-union dictators in Tehran regarding Israel and its trade unions.”

Martial Kurtz, National Organiser for the PSC, has said, “It will be for the Palestinians to decide which way this is going. A one-state solution, as a bi-national democratic state, will indeed mean the end of an Israeli Jewish state, as it exists.”

The PSC website states  that it is “in opposition to…[the] Zionist nature of the Israeli state”. There is a consummate hypocrisy in supporting the self-determination for one people while denying it for another. This is yet further suggestion that the PSC is not committed to peace.

T
he Israelis have accepted that the 950,000 Jews forced from their homes in Arab states from the 1940s onwards do not require any form of compensation, as few would wish to return. However, the return of Palestinian refugees who fled after the Arab states invaded Israel in 1948 is a key issue, and a driving force behind the emotional justification of pro-Palestinian activism.

'It is understood by genuine advocates for peace on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides that a compromise will have to be found over the issue of refugees. The PSC, however, advocates for the Palestinians to have an absolute “right of return” to their homes, or their ancestors’ homes, abandoned on Israel’s creation in 1948. It is this sort of absolutism – this unwillingness to negotiate – that is overtly detrimental to the prospects of peace.

'O
nce idealism sets in this strongly, truth itself is the usually the first to suffer. The outpourings, radicalism and obsessiveness of the PSC are an all clear example of this. For example, the PSC condemns Israel for “aggression against neighbouring states” but consistently fails to mention in its literature and events that Israel was attacked in 1948 (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria), 1967 (Egypt, Jordan and Syria) and 1973 (Egypt and Syria).

Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign: days of rage

There was a large demonstration by Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign outside Sheffield Town Hall recently (9th August), the day which the Campaign's Website called 'the day of rage.' But for so many of these activists, every day is a day of rage.

The centre piece was a massive Palestinian flag, held horizontally. When I arrived, a man was shouting slogans from the town hall steps and the crowd responded by shouting slogans. I added my voice to the general tumult, but with different content. The way to restore peace and quiet to Gaza, I said, doing everything I could to make up for the lack of a loudspeaker, was simply this: 'Stop firing rockets! Stop breaking cease-fires!' I pointed out that Gaza wasn't the only issue. What of  the critical situation in Iraq?

I put more detailed arguments to some of the demonstrators, before the main mass of demonstrators made an excursion and carried their flag to another part of the city centre (the area, incidentally, where our war dead are commemorated on Remembrance Sunday every year) and the town hall area became much quieter. (I resumed my public dissent when these demonstrators returned to the town hall.)

I wasn't threatened. No attempts were made to silence me.  It's just possible that many of the demonstrators were all too aware that Hamas had just broken a ceasefire. There did seem something half-hearted about their shouting.

At one previous Palestinian Solidarity event,  it proved easy to bring about a pause in the tedious and repetitive slogan-shouting, even though it seemed full of (illusory) conviction, and I took full advantage, asking individual demonstrators what their attitude was to suicide bombing. There was general lack of agreement with suicide bombing, but I was only able to put the question to a few people before a very powerfully built Palestinian came over and took up position a few centimetres away from me. It seemed an obvious attempt to exert pressure but I refused to move away or give way and in the end, he quietly rejoined the demonstrators. The present Sheffield group may well be one of the better groups, in terms of its general behaviour, but this has not always been so.

A socialist group called the AWL, whose politics are far removed from my own, gives an account of clear-cut aggression by some Palestinian supporters in Sheffield:

'Members of the AWL have been involved in demonstrations and actions for years and never have we experienced what took place on Saturday 17th January 2009 in Sheffield. A placard which read "No to the IDF. No to Hamas" was forcibly removed from a young woman's hands and torn up and stamped on in front of the crowd, a majority of whom cheered and clapped (including members of the Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the SWP and Permanent Revolution, who are all very hostile to any 'two states' position). This is a disturbing level of intolerance and censorship ... We hope that activists in Sheffield will take a serious look at this incident. This is no way to deal with political disagreements amongst us. This kind of censorship and the intolerance it breeds is unacceptable. We are not asking you to agree with our political perspective but we are asking you to support our right to raise criticism of Hamas on demonstrations. This is a basic democratic principle and we would uphold it for others. Already one 
anonymous posting on Indymedia has said we were "lucky not to be beaten up" and another, they would join in "chasing us off". Someone claiming to be a member of Sheffield's Palestine Solidarity Campaign called "Steve" has written: "maybe simply ripping down and stamping on their banner is not going far enough. Maybe they need a stronger disincentive, preferably undertaken away from the glare of those on the demo..." '

The Showroom cinema and 'The Green Prince'

 

 

Above, the film 'The Green Prince' wins the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. Below: why the Showroom cinema in Sheffield is unlikely to show 'The Green Prince' and why the cinema is likely to continue its collaboration with Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which has failed to condemn disruption and interference with freedom of expression. A new cinema is due to open in Sheffield, part of the Curzon group, which is about to show the film. From the Curzon group's Website:

  'Set against the chaotic backdrop of recent events in the Middle East, Nadav Schirman's The Green Prince retraces the details of a highly unprecedented partnership that developed between sworn enemies. In the style of a tense psychological thriller, this extraordinary documentary recounts the true story of the son of a Hamas leader who emerged as one of Israel's prized informants, and the Shin Bet agent who risked his career to protect him.

'As a defiant teenager growing up in Palestine, Mosab Hassan Yousef's fervor against Israel was unquestionable, ultimately landing him in prison. Shaken by Hamas's brutality within the prison's walls and a growing disgust for their methods, particularly suicide bombing, he had an unexpected change of heart and began to see Hamas as more of a problem than a solution. Recruited by the Shin Bet (Israel's internal security agency) and given the code name "Green Prince," he spied on the Hamas elite for over a decade, constantly risking exposure and certain death while grappling with the perception that he had betrayed his own family and people. Along the way, what started as a cautious alliance between Mosab and his Shin Bet handler Gonen Ben Yitzhak grew into an enduring loyalty that no one could have predicted.

'Based on Mosab Hassan Yousef's bestselling memoir Son of Hamas, The Green Prince exposes a complex world of terror, betrayal, and impossible choices. Through exclusive first-hand testimony, dramatic action sequences, and rare archival footage, decades of secrets come to light in this unflinching exploration of a profound spiritual transformation and the transcendent bonds of friendship.

'The screening will be followed by a panel discussion. '

  From a report in the Sheffield Telegraph:

'Officials from The Showroom, on Paternoster Row, have welcomed the rival operator’s imminent arrival in the city. In September, Melanie Crawley, marketing development manager, said: “We hope to cultivate a good relationship with the Curzon, but we see the role of The Showroom as being very distinct from this cinema operator.”

She said The Showroom will remain as Sheffield’s ‘only truly independent cinema’.'  The Showroom may be independent in many ways or most ways but it shows no spirit of independence in matters relating to Israel and the Palestinians.

 

 

 

The Showroom Cinema in Sheffield is wonderful, a very important asset to the city. One of its many achievements is Philosophy at the Showroom

'Philosophy at the Showroom is a series that involves sessions that probe the philosophical questions raised by some of cinema’s most intriguing films, and also sessions that discuss books that have philosophical themes (either philosophical texts, or other works that raise philosophical questions). Our obligations to others, heroism, death, and the functioning of the mind are just some of the themes these screenings and the book events will explore.

 

'Each film will be introduced by a philosopher from the University of Sheffield, and followed by a group discussion of the philosophical problems it confronts.'

 But the Showroom seems to have avoided all debate and discussion of the Israel-Palestinian issue - debate and discussion, that is, which allow the putting of the pro-Israel case. The calm and reasonable conditions which allow discussion of such issues as the functioning of the mind are  unlikely to be permitted by pro-Palestinian activists.

 

From the section on this page A debate at Sheffield University

 

'A group of hecklers interrupted speakers at the latest debating society event.

 

'Speakers from the University of Sheffield debating society were “incessantly insulted” as they talked on the topic of Israel’s launch of air strikes on Gaza, during its latest military offensive.

 The debate entitled ‘this house condemns the Israeli air strikes’ took place on Monday November 26 at Coffee Revolution at 7pm.

 

The hecklers aimed their insults at those speaking in opposition calling them “an absolute disgrace” and “liars”.

...

 

'An observer at the event told Forge Press the speeches almost had to be stopped several times because of the constant insults.'

 Students were forthright in condemning the disruption and standing up for freedom of expression.

 

Dr Abdel Takriti's disruption of  a talk whilst he was a doctoral student at Oxford University (he's now an academic at Sheffield University) is discussed in my profile Dr A.Takriti (SU): historian, censor, slogan shouter.

 

The Showroom has a festival 'Cinema Palestino,' which has been taking place for over five years. The films shown no doubt have many virtues and are far from propagandist, but the selection is far from unbiased. The other side of the argument has been systematically ignored. It would be good if the Showroom could make amends by screening the film 'The Green Prince.' It's unlikely that screening of the film would be straightforward. Disruption would be very likely. If the Showroom can't contemplate the showing of the film, then its timidity is, as I've remarked 'understandable, but not in the highest traditions of courageous independence.' I've written to the Chief Executive of the Showroom Cinema putting my case and received a prompt and unsatisfactory reply - an understandably unsatisfactory reply, perhaps.

I make this simple request: let the Showroom Cinema show 'The Green Prince' as part of the 'Philosophy at the Showroom' series, the screening of the film to be followed by free debate and discussion. Members of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other people with pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel views can put their views forward, and so can people like myself, with very different views. First, though, it would be good if Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign could put out a statement in which it condemns disruption of free debate and criticism. If the Solidarity Campaign can't declare that it supports free discussion and the conditions needed for free discussion, then the Showroom Cinema should end its collaboration with the Solidarity Campaign. If the Showroom continues its collaboration with the Solidarity Campaign then in the interests of balance and fair-mindedness it should be willing to collaborate with a group with very different views.

 

Some pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel people: introduction

 

This section gives profiles of  pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel people, with a growing number of profiles of propagandist academics - who, like the others, may well well have distinctive strengths, of course, apart from their propagandist weaknesses. There are two sub-sections:

Academics
Others

 

Some of the profiles of  academics give information about denial of free expression with a direct connection with the Israel-Palestinian conflict, others are concerned with denial of free expression with no direct connection with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In all these cases, the academic has pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel views. In the section Conjugates of my page 'Ethics: theory and practice' I explain the need to take account of any co-factors (such as denial of free expression in a matter which has no direct connection with the Israel-Palestinian conflict) which accompany the principal factor (a view of the Israel-Palestinian conflict).

I regard the profiles as having multiple functions. They reflect an interest in people, a 'disinterested interest,' to an extent (in the older meaning of 'disinterested,' not with the more recent meaning, 'uninterested') and they are intended to go beyond the giving of information and commentary, to support activism, in ways which I don't spell out here.

My criticism isn't relentless. I completed a profile of an individual who had written an ant-Israeli piece which I considered vile but  I found that he'd had to abandon his career as a result of serious health problems. I knew immediately that I couldn't publish the profile.

Only some of the profiles on this page appear here. There are others in the last section of this page, 'Heckling the boycotters,' which in fact was written first. All the profiles are of people who called for the boycott of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, or who disrupted the performance by singing. This section includes some of the most grotesque grotesques. All of them, of course, have made a more general contribution to the pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel cause.

 The fullest profiles are of

Tony Greenstein, described by Oliver Kamm as 'a political crank of the first order.' He's now written a book called 'The fight against fascism in Brighton and the south coast.' To me, the title is ludicrous, like the author. Even if the fascism to be found on the south coast isn't so very genteel, it lacks the horror and ruthlessness of continental fascism in a previous age, and the implied portrayal of the author as a fighter against a dangerous enemy is wide of the mark. Still, Tony Greenstein is one of the more enlightened pro-palestinian-anti-Israeli people. Although shockingly bad in general, his views are nowhere near the brutish level to be found in the lower depths.

 

These profiles appear in the third column of the section:

Willem Meijs is distinctly superior to the average level too. He's very much the buffoon, but a buffoon who would like to order other people around and to control them - but this is familiar behaviour in these people.

Sue Blackwell is another buffoon but a less interesting one - that is, even less interesting.

Deborah Fink to simplify without too much distortion is primarily an exhibitionist.

 

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi to simplify without too much distortion is another exhibitionist.

These profiles appear in the section column of the section:

 

Raymond Deane is a composer and part-time Hizbollah supporter.

 

Reem Kelani can be respected for some of her views.

Tom Eisner is a professional violinist - someone with a massive talent as an instrumentalist, without any talent that I know of in political matters.

 

Some pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel people: academic

Professor Rosenhead: the Ship of Fools



'Narrenshiff,' 'Ship of Fools,' depicted in a German woodcut of 1549. The Ship of Fools carried 'crazed and crazy' people and 'foreign lunatics' (Michel Foucault, 'Madness and Civilization') although no foreign lunatic  so crazed and crazy as Greta Berlin.


Professor Rosenhead sailed on a 'Free Gaza'
ship in 2008, together with another academic from the Management department at LSE, the Research Fellow Mike Cushman. So far as I'm aware, neither has commented on the views of Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza movement. Greta Berlin has claimed that Jews played a leading part in promoting the Holocaust and that Jews (specifically MOSSAD)  carried out the recent murders in Paris, at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket. Professor Rosenhead is recorded as criticizing the views of another  demented and deranged individual, Gilad Atzmon.

Professor Rosenhead is the Chair of BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine) and Mike Cushman is the Web editor and mailing list manager.

Jonathan Rosenhead spoke in favour of boycotting Israel at a debate at Sheffield University (27 November, 2014.)

The Facebook page of the Students’ Union introduced the debate in these terms, shockingly biased:

‘Would you consider joining in an academic collaboration with an occupying state that continuously commits war crimes against the people of Palestine ?!! or do you have a different opinion on the matter?’
 
The Motion was "This house believes that UK academics should join the movement for academic boycott by refusing to engage with any Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends the occupation and abides by international law."

Jonathan Rosenhead's speech was standard pro-boycott material, effortlessly evasive. He mentioned Professor Stephen Hawking. It’s true that Stephen Hawking is now on the side of the boycotters, but gifted scientists have varied views on this matter, as on others. Stephen Hawking, for all his achievement, has never won the Nobel Prize. This is a statement from some scientists who have, from the site 'BDS Cookbook'

http://www.stopbds.com/?page_id=191

The site gives an abundance of arguments and evidence opposing the 'Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions' movement:

'Dear Members of the University of California- Berkeley Student Senate:

'We, the undersigned Nobel Laureates, urge the members of the UC Berkeley student senate not to adopt an immoral resolution singling out the state of Israel, a liberal and democratic state seeking peace with the Palestinian people and neighboring Arab states, for condemnation and divestment.

'We commend your idealism and desire to provide leadership to the university; but true moral leadership requires taking responsibility, accessing knowledge and making correct, not ideological and radicalized, choices. The resolution before you is wrong in many points of fact and it is unjust by intention: Israel is an imperfect democracy defending itself in a threat environment by Western standards of warfare and checking itself constantly by way of a fiercely independent judiciary committed to international standards of human rights.

'A decision by the Berkeley Senate to single out Israel for condemnation, rather than any of the myriad real human rights offenders in the world – including the majority of contentious states surrounding Israel such as Iran, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon is frankly a decision of the highest moral obtuseness, which we trust you will not pursue.

'It is our hope that the UC-Berkeley Student Senate who represent future leadership in the world will find a more constructive and effective way – but primarily a moral and just way – to address the difficult and complex issues of Middle East peace rather than siding against one side in the conflict. In no way can your resolution advance peace, as it is an expression of the very radicalism and historical blindness that drives the conflict and blocks reconciliation.

'We have faith in your ability to rise to the occasion and shed light instead of hatred on this most difficult issue. Please defeat this wrong resolution.

Roald Hoffmann
Nobel Prize-Chemistry, 1981
Cornell University

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
Nobel Prize-Physics, 1997
College de France Paris

Dudley Herschbach
Nobel Prize- Chemistry, 1986
Harvard University

Dr. Andrew V. Schally
Miami, Florida
Nobel Prize in Medicine 1977

Steven Weinberg
University of Texas
Nobel Prize-Physics, 1979'

 
Speaking against the motion was an academic from  Leeds University. In the first minute or two he said something which gave me no confidence that he would present the case against boycotts with the least effectiveness. He said that he shared many of the opinions of the pro-boycotters as regards Israel. After that, he focussed his attention on purely pragmatic objections to boycotts – they wouldn’t have the desired effect. He considered that Israel should be opposed, but not by means of academic boycotts.

The Sheffield University Debating Society debate on boycotting Israel which took place two years ago was disrupted, unlike this debate. I wasn’t there, but I’m sure that the case for Israel must have been put much more ably. Nobody with pro-Palestinian views would have objected very much to what Dr Hubbard had to say, or felt it necessary to disrupt his speech. Like Jonathan Rosenhead, he’s quite an accomplished speaker, but with very little substance on this occasion.

Also a member of BRICUP is Sue Blackwell, who has a section of her own on this page,  including this:'

' ... Sue’s reaction to the defeat of the “boycott” position within the AUT: instead of acknowledging that she and her supporters had simply LOST, like many of us have lost within unions, over the years, Sue fell back upon bizarre allegations of “a massive and well funded campaign against us and incredible pressure put upon members in the run up to this debate”. I’ll ask you straight, Sue: WHO, exactly, ran and financed this “massive campaign” against you? Tell me, please. As far as I am aware, it was the rank and file AUT members Camila Basi, Jon Pike and David Hirsh, who ran the campaign to overturn the AUT’s “boycott” policy. None of them are particularly rich. None of them were financed from “outside”. So what, exactly are you –Sue- trying to suggest? And you continue to protest that your campaign is not antisemitic?

'They are rich Jews? Paid agents of Israel? If that is not what you are suggesting, then please explain what you mean by “a massive and well funded campaign against us”? You really do have to explain your bizarre outbursts since losing the vote.

 

Dr Ian Patterson: 'Is he in his right mind?'

From the introduction to these profiles of academics, 'Some of the profiles of  academics give information about denial of free expression with a direct connection with the Israel-Palestinian conflict, others are concerned with denial of free expression with no direct connection with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In all these cases, the academic has pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel views.' Dr Patterson is a prolific pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel statement signer.

From his LRB [London Review of Books] blog, 15 March, 2012:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2012/03/15/ian-patterson/cambridge-cracks-down/
 
' ... a sense of outrage and disbelief unparalleled in my experience spread through the university today ...
 
What was the massive human suffering or the massive injustice which occasioned this massive response, this unprecedented wave of outrage and disbelief in the Cambridge academic community, allegedly? Perhaps mass beheadings after extreme torture? He continues:
 
‘as it became known that the court had imposed a sentence of seven terms rustication ... [that is, suspension from the University, on the PhD student Owen Holland].
 
Is Dr Patterson in his right mind? Does he really want the wider world to take this extraordinary, misguided display of outrage as an extraordinary display of Cambridge humanitarianism, of Cambridge values and Cambridge priorities?

Dr Patterson, like Dr Zurcher, is a lecturer in the English faculty of Cambridge University. Both of them are members of Queens' College, and both of them actively supported the occupation of the Law Faculty buildings in supposed solidarity with Gaza, and the disruption of David Willetts' speech at Cambridge, which was led by Owen Holland. My profile of Dr Zurcher gives detailed information about both issues.

Ian Patterson's blog article includes this:

'I have to declare an interest ...  I’m Owen Holland’s second supervisor' and

 

'Milton and Dryden were both rusticated from Cambridge, it’s true, for quarrelling with college authorities, and Swinburne from Oxford for speaking in support of an attempt to assassinate Napoleon III, but I don’t think anyone has previously been punished in this way for reading a poem.'

 

To put this ludicrous display of anger in perspective, Hashem Shabaani, like Ian Patterson a poet and teacher - but there the resemblances end - was punished with a very different kind of suspension - hanging.  He was arrested in February 2011 with four other Iranian Arabs 'apparently in connection with their cultural activities, such as organizing events in the Arabic language, conferences, educational courses, art classes, and poetry recital gatherings' according to Amnesty International, sentenced to death in July 2012 for 'waging war against Allah, sowing corruption on earth, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and acting against national security,("waging war on God"), as well as "sowing corruption on earth, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and acting against national security and hanged at an undisclosed prison in January 2014.

Information about another Iranian case, in the section below Iran:

 

'Iran is the most prolific executioner in the world now, after China, executing political prisoners, homosexuals, dissidents, people found guilty of 'enmity against God,' and a 16 year old schoolgirl, Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh, on charges of adultery and 'crimes against chastity.' She was hanged in public.

 'It's Israel which is described by the prominent anti-Israeli campaigner and disrupter Deborah Fink as 'The Satanic state.' It's likely that her attitude to Iran is much less critical.

 The former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who blamed the "Zionist regime" of Israel for starting both the First and Second World Wars), speaking to university students in the US, said that Iran is 'the only nation' that 'can offer a new model for life to the world.'

 

'Haji Rezai was the prosecutor, judge and witness in the trial of Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh. He also tortured Atefeh, and he was the hangman. He placed the noose around her neck before she was hoisted on a crane. He was insistent that the verdict and sentence complied with the laws of Islam. No charges have been brought against him. The Supreme Court of Iran gave an order that Atefeh should be freed, although the Court was already aware that she had been executed.

 

'Previously, she had been arrested three times by the Moral Police and convicted of having sex with unmarried men. For each offence, she was imprisoned and given 100 lashes - the punishment for single women. The punishment for married women is still technically stoning to death - stones which are not too large are specified, as large stones would cause death too quickly. Stoning to death is unlikely to be carried out in Iran now - which counts as progress. Even so, at least six people have been stoned to death in Iran since 2006.

 

'When she appeared in court for having sex with a taxi driver, she removed her hijab at one point. This was regarded as severe contempt of court. No lawyer was provided. She appealed against her death sentence but no lawyer was provided for the appeal.'
To return to the injustice, or 'injustice,'  which angered Dr Patterson and the other letter-signers, including such Serial Signers as  Dr Zurcher (in  contrast with injustices in Iran, let's say) I emailed Dr Patterson:
I can make this profile of yourself fairer and better informed if I have some further information. Whether you provide the information is up to you.

'Hid you take part in the protest against David Willetts? You were the supervisor of Owen Holland. Was the protest and the form the protest took his idea? Did he mention his intention of disrupting David Willett’s talk? If so, did you give him any advice? Did you warn him, for example, of the possibility of sanctions?'

[A further question now. Many academics signed a letter in support of Owen Holland when he was charged with ''recklessly or intentionally impeding free speech within the Precincts of the University' and a letter protesting against his suspension when the case against him was found to be proved. It might have been expected that you would sign both letters. You signed neither. I doubt very much if you suddenly decided that Owen Holland had only himself to blame, or that you were simply not aware of the letters until it was too late to sign them. Can you shed any light on these puzzling matters?]
 
'The profile includes a link to film of the event, which makes it perfectly clear that the sanction originally imposed was for much more than ‘reading a poem.’ You gave an evasive and distorted version of events.'

This is the link to 'Cambridge University students hijack talk by David Willetts, Minister for Higher Education 22/11/11.'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMQaIJoTr2M

I'd sent him an email drawing his attention to this page, including the profile of Dr Zurcher. His reply was forthright, making it clear that I wasn't to email him again. I did send a reply, which included this, ' ... the slight irritation of an occasional email from me is nothing for you to get worked up about.'

Owen Holland appealed against the suspension. 'The Cambridge Student' on the outcome: 'generosity.'

http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/news/0017943-a-merciful-course-details-of-owen-hollands-appeal-revealed.html

' ... the Septemviri [the University's Appeal Court] were at pains to point out the 'one-off' nature of their generosity: "We have therefore decided, but in this case only, to follow a merciful course."

 

'The Septemviri therefore reduced Holland's sentence from seven term's 'rustication' (or suspension) to one term on 22 June. This still means however that Holland, currently studying for a PhD in English at St Catharine's College, will be unable to use the University's premises and facilities, and will no longer officially be deemed a student of Cambridge University, for the duration of Michaelmas Term 2012, returning to the University at the start of 2013.

 

There's more on the reasons for the original sanction:

 

"brought his current misfortune on himself"

 

'The majority of the Chairman's report sets out in detail how the Septemviri upheld the original verdict of 'guilty' on the charge that Holland "had intentionally or recklessly impeded freedom of speech within the precincts of the University".

The charge relates to an incident on 22 November last year, when Universities Minister David Willetts was prevented from starting a lecture on "The Idea of the University" in Lady Mitchell Hall on the Sidgwick Site by around 30 students from activist group Cambridge Defend Education (CDE). As Willetts arrived at the lectern, the protesters began chanting a 25-minute poetic letter, or 'epistle', entitled "Go home, David", via call and response led by Owen Holland. After the chant finished, a group of around 20 protesters proceeded to occupy the stage. Upon this, Willetts left without giving his lecture, and the event was cancelled. The protest was followed by a week-long occupation of Lady Mitchell Hall by CDE activists.'

 

On another page of 'The Cambridge Student:'

 

http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/news/0012290-cambridge-students-hijack-willetts-speech.html

'CUSU President Gerard Tully, said in a statement: "David Willetts is the architect of higher education policy which is actively damaging to the quality of education that Cambridge (and other universities) offer and creates an unfair financial barrier to students from the broadest backgrounds aspiring to University. It is entirely right that students and academics protest these policies, as over 100 did today before Mr Willetts' talk. Tonight students had the opportunity and choice to hear and question Mr Willetts, in the 800-year old tradition of academic enquiry and freedom of speech that Cambridge has pioneered. Students have now been denied that opportunity, and CUSU cannot support this.

'Freedom of expression is one of the founding principles of University education - no matter how objectionable the views being espoused are. Students believe in this principle and so does CUSU, so we cannot support any protest that violates it - which the disruption of David Willetts' talk tonight clearly did." '

 

Dr Patterson didn't sign the letter below (or a further letter written after the sanction of suspension had been imposed.) This is difficult to explain, given his views.  Dr Zurcher and Dr Scott-Warren signed both letters. The list of signatories is a list of people with an alternative view of freedom of speech. Confining attention to speaking at a meeting and not other forms of speaking, or writing or other forms of expression, freedom of speech is the freedom to prevent someone from speaking, not the freedom to speak at a meeting. This is only if the disrupters have approved views - not applicable, of course, to right wing disrupters trying to stop a left-wing speaker from addressing a meeting.

 

How the authorities could come up with a definitive list of supporters of the action isn't made clear. Whenever there's a disturbance, it's usually impossible to charge everybody concerned. Charging the most prominent person - in this case, the person doing leading the disruption, Owen Holland - isn't unreasonable. But the practicalities aren't uppermost in the minds of such people.

 

Here is the list of signatories, then, which can be viewed as either the List of Honour or the List of Shame, the List of the Righteous or the List of the Self-righteous, the List of Freedom Fighters or the List of the Deluded, with the letter which they signed. The letters after most of the names indicate the college affiliation. At the time that other people were signing, Ian Patterson was very busy, unwell (in which case I  sympathize), out of the country or -  remote possibility - had decided that the protest led by Owen Holland was idiotic.

Letter to the University Advocate and to the Vice Chancellor, 7th March 2012

 

Dear Dr Thornton,

 

We understand that a student has been charged with “recklessly or intentionally impeding free speech within the Precincts of the University” in connection with the protest action which took place at Lady Mitchell Hall on the 22nd of November 2011 when the Minister for Universities and Science Mr David Willetts was scheduled to speak.

We regard the prosecution of a single junior member of the University as arbitrary and wrong: we wish to point out that this was a collective act and that we the undersigned were all involved in it – whether directly or indirectly, actively or in a supportive capacity. We therefore ask that the same charge be brought against each of us before the appropriate University court.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

RA Alexander
R Arnott-Davies, CC
M Barford, T
N Bazin, K
MB Beckles, K
D Benjamin, T
A Booth, R
RE Bower, CL
R Braude, PEM
S Carlo, CHU
A Diver, CC
CR Doherty, JN
A Odin Ekman, W
BK Etherington, CHU
L Finlayson, K
JB Frances, K
R Geuss
A Gilligan, JN
P Gopal, CHU
S Haf, HOM
M Hrebeniak, W
K Jenkins, EM
J Katko, Q
JV Kinsella, CHU
S Langsdale, K
M Laven, JES
A MacDonald, K
L McMahon, K
L McNulty, HOM
TJ Miley, DAR
M.J. Morey, F
G Mulligan, G
C Mouhot, K
D Morris, CC
F Musallam, JN
G Oppitz-Trotman, JN
O Oriogun-Williams, CL
B Patrick, N
C Page, SID
T Phibbs, K
JH Prynne, CAI
JE Riley, W
A Ring, N
LW Roberts, JN
J Scott-Warren, CAI
H Sillitoe, K
A Shahvisi, DAR
GM Stevenson, FITZ
S Stillwell, G
F Taylor, JN
I Urquhart, HOM
W Yaqoob, PEM
CH Walker-Gore, SE
J Whitfield, K
H Warner, CTH
A Wood, T
AE Zurcher, Q

 

Yet another appeal  from 2012:

 

'As staff, students, and alumni of Cambridge and Oxford Universities, we are calling on the Home Secretary to stop deportation proceedings against Trenton Oldfield for disrupting the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in April 2012.'

 

Sure enough, Dr Zurcher and Dr Patterson both signed.

 

'I've the instincts of a polemicist, I'm an experienced activist, but I try never to lose sight of human realities that go beyond polemics and activism.

 

I sent this message. Whether I'm right to include it here I'm not sure, although I think I'm right not to delete this section on Ian Patterson.

 

'I contacted you earlier today to draw your attention to a very critical profile of your partner Ian Patterson. At the time, I had no knowledge at all that you're suffering from inoperable cancer. I'm much the same age as you and I'm very, very saddened to learn that the prognosis is what it is. If I'd known then what I know now, I wouldn't have posted that message. I contact people often who have views which I oppose to a greater or lesser extent, but I never lose sight of the fact that they are people first and foremost and opponents, or people with views very different from my own, only to a lesser extent.

With warmest good wishes,

 

Paul Hurt'

Jason Scott-Warren shouts 'Out! Out! Out!'

 

From the introduction to these profiles of academics, 'Some of the profiles of  academics give information about denial of free expression with a direct connection with the Israel-Palestinian conflict, others are concerned with denial of free expression with no direct connection with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In all these cases, the academic has pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel views.' Dr Jason Scott-Warren is a prolific pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel statement signer.

 

Paul Sagar wrote an article for Liberal conspiracy, 'The student 'protest' at Cambridge last night was deluded.'
Dr Jason Scott-Warren wrote to correct him in the Comments section:

'It wasn’t only students who were involved in this ‘protest'; several academics were involved too. I was one of them. I was told in advance (during the protest which began at 4.30) about what was planned, and when it started I joined in with the chant that drowned Willetts out.'


Paul Sagar wrote:

'Willetts was introduced – with an explicit appeal for reasonable discussion – and the man himself took the stand. But as he began speaking, he was immediately interrupted. A single individual  [Owen Holland] began shouting.

'His every line was immediately repeated by 20-30 or so others. Thus began a long, ponderous series of declamations, bizarre poetic allegories, and varying denunciations of Willetts, his Government, the future of education, and everything in between.

 

'Willetts could not get a word in edge ways. The tension in the room was dramatic. It felt like it went on and on. Shout then chant, shout then chant ...

 

'When the “speech” from the floor was over, the instigators began chants of “Willetts Willetts Willets, Out Out Out”, and surged forward. They took the stage. Willetts had already left. The event was abandoned. A hundred or so other people were forced to exit without being able to voice their opinion or take part in the public debate they were invited to attend.

 

'I left the hall angry, disgusted and embarrassed. And I write as somebody who took part in the Cambridge Occupation last December, and has attended several recent protests against the Government’s cuts ...

 

'Firstly, it ... irritated all of those in the room who were not privy to CDE’s  unilateral decision. [CDE: Cambridge Defend Education] The result was the wasting of their time and making them feel marginalised, and in many cases also very angry. It’s hardly a good strategy for winning friends.

 

'Secondly, it allowed Willetts to leave Cambridge being able to claim that he’d tried to engage openly, but that irrational, unreasonable, selfish students had prevented any constructive dialogue. Anybody who thinks that this ‘action’ was a victory against Willetts is living in cloud cuckoo land.

There’s a considerable irony here too. One of CDE’s stated complaints about Willetts and his Government is that it is so sure of its own convictions they ride rough-shod over the opinions, concerns, rights and needs of others. And yet that is exactly what CDE did tonight.

 

'It was a show of disguised selfishness; the indulgence of a self-satisfied moral superiority.' 

 

In his comment, Dr Scott-Warren urges those people who are critical of the form the protest took (he's obviously not in the least critical) to be 'attacking the real enemy: a government with no democratic mandate for change destroying its public education system.'

 

His ignorance of the democratic system is obvious. The electorate have democratically elected a government. The electorate hasn't democratically voted for all the policies of the government which have been proposed or implemented after they were elected.

He's wrong, of course, to think that the electorate in general opposes the government's policies in higher education. There's widespread public indifference to higher education and the government's policies and actions which affect higher education.

 

I don't share this indifference in the least. I think that higher education -  not just teaching and research in science, technology, medicine and other subjects with obvious practical importance but teaching and scholarship in the humanities and other subjects without obvious practical importance - has massive importance. I think that academics, whose skills and knowledge are so often at a very, very high level, deserve to be paid more, perhaps much more.

 

There are many people who are hostile to universities. They may think, for example, that students are lazy layabouts. If Dr Scott-Warren doesn't realize this, he should mingle more with ordinary people. He might well be surprised, and shocked. He took part in a protest which would confirm  the contempt of so many ordinary people. It would confirm them in their view that universities aren't worth bothering about, or that people in universities are stupid, or that universities are hostile to British society.

 

This comment from 'cjcj' on the same page of 'Liberal Conspiracy' reflects the reaction most ordinary people would have to Dr Jason Scott-Warren, or a reaction far more likely than 'obviously a principled and justifiable protest.

 

'Jesus f*cking Christ, an academic (and from my own college too I discover after a quick google!) chooses to drown out a visiting speaker.

Perhaps I should pop into one of your lectures, Jason, and drown you out.'

 

Anyone who thinks that impoverished university graduates amount to a scandalous problem and have a very strong claim on public sympathies may like to take into account this view, presented by James Kirkup in the 'Daily Telegraph' (15 May, 2014):

 

'One person in five who receives university education becomes a millionaire, according to official figures.

 'Twenty per cent of all adults who hold at least one university degree — more than two million people — now have wealth totalling at least £1 million, data from the Office for National Statistics show.

 

'Almost a tenth of all British adults now own assets — property, pensions, savings and physical objects — worth £1 million or more.

 'The total number of millionaires in Britain has risen by 50 per cent in four years despite the recent financial crisis. The figures showed a stark gap in wealth between people with different levels of education. Only three per cent of people with no formal educational qualifications have assets worth more than £1 million.

 'The gap in wealth as it relates to education has widened over time. In 2006-07, some 16 per cent of graduates were asset millionaires, compared with two per cent of people without formal qualifications.

...

 

'David Willetts, the universities minister told The Telegraph that the figures were “more evidence of why going to university is a very good deal”.

 

'Nhe higher wealth of people with degrees justifies Coalition policies to charge higher tuition fees and push more school-leavers to go to university, he added.

 

' ''It shows why it’s fair to ask graduates to pay back the cost of their higher education, and why increasing the number of people who go to university will spread wealth and opportunity.' '

 

See also my profile

 

Dr A.Takriti (SU): historian, censor, slogan shouter

which includes a link to a film of Shimon Peres speaking at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford University. At 4:00 Abdel Razzaq Takriti begins to shout slogans and is removed.

htps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbT2Z4dh-KA

 

Drs Sebastian Nye, Lorna Finlayson: signing on


 

 

Above: at a demonstration in Paris against the death penalty in Iran. In the profile of Dr Ian Patterson (Queens College, Cambridge) I give information about two Iranian death penalty cases: the case of Hashem Shabaani, like Ian Patterson a poet and teacher, who was sentenced to death for 'waging war against Allah, sowing corruption on earth, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and acting against national security,("waging war on God"), as well as "sowing corruption on earth, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and acting against national security and hanged at an undisclosed prison in January 2014. And the case of Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh, a 16 year old schoolgirl who was charged with adultery and 'crimes against chastity' and hanged from a crane in public, a common method of carrying out executions in Iran.

 

In this double profile, I discuss  Dr Sebastian Nye and Dr Lorna Finlayson versus the state of Israel (with Iranian and other allies) and Sebastian Nye and Lorna Finlayson versus the liberal view of free speech (which is not much favoured by theocrats in  Iran, for different reasons. Although there are dissidents in Iran as well as exiled dissidents, Dr Nye  and Dr Finlayson seem not to be particularly interested in them, on the evidence of their  published statement-signings.)

 

Along with a large number of other people, including many from Iran, a country they obviously think is vastly superior to Israel, Dr Sebastian Nye (Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge) and Dr Lorna Finlayson (King's College, Cambridge) signed a statement put out by 'Back the Boycott,' philosophers and political theorists for a boycott of Israel,' which called for the standard 'boycott, divestment and sanctions.' I don't provide arguments in this section against boycotts of Israel. I provide arguments in various places on this page, including the section Heckling the boycotters.

 

Dr Sebastian Nye (Signatory No. 4) condemns Israel, Dr Lorna Finlayson (Signatory No. 11) condemns Israel, ] it comes as no surprise that Raymond Geuss (Signatory No. 48 and Guru to many occupiers and boycotters) condemns Israel - and 'philosophers and political theorists' in Iran condemn Israel (again, no surprise) and took the trouble to sign the Statement.  No doubt philosophers and political theorists in Saudi Arabia condemn Israel, from their equally secure position, although there are no Saudi Arabian signatories on the list.  Sometimes it can seem that the whole world condemns Israel. Fortunately, this is not so. There are still many, many people with other concerns and other priorities, including the people who organized the Paris demonstration against the use of the death penalty in Iran, difficult though it may be for many thinkers to comprehend this alarming event. What? A demonstration not aimed at Israel? The Palestinians not at the very centre of the moral universe? The universe not Palestino-centric? Heresy! Still, it's certain that there will be many statements condemning Israel in the future, demanding no more than the typing of a name and a few clicks of the mouse, giving further opportunities for Palestino-centric people, further opportunities  for the display of effortless moral superiority.

 

I doubt that Dr Nye and Dr Finlayson will regret signing. They may, possibly, regret one obvious consequence:  the fact that statements of this kind and the long lists of signatories are in the public domain gives people like me information which can be used for  criticism of some of the people. 'Sign in haste, repent at leisure.'

The statement they signed and the revealing list of signatories is published on the site

 

http://backtheboycott.com/

 

The statement made a comment on critics who are 'singling Israel out’.

'As many have persuasively argued over the last few weeks, it is Israel that singles itself out:  through its claims to moral impeccability, its celebrated status as a democracy, through its receipt of massive support from the US and other nations, and through its continual abuse of the legacy of the holocaust in order to deflect criticism and to discredit the Palestinian struggle.'

What? Its 'celebrated status as a democracy' is supposed to count against it? 'Abuse of the legacy of the holocaust' is beneath contempt.

The list of signatories is given at the end of this section. Many academics and would-be academics in Iran signed. Apart from ones obviously based in Iran, there are the  people with an affiliation with other Iranian universities: Imam Sadiq university, which 'bridges the gap between the Islamic seminary and traditional university' according to Wikipedia, and which includes courses in criminal law and . Islamic jurisprudence, and the universities of Khajeh, Nasir al-din tusi,  Motahari, Shiraz, Semnan, Allaame tabaatabaae, Tarbiat Modares, Razi, Alzahra, Yazd, Monaghegh ardabili, Zanjan, Kharazmi, Mashahd and Tabriz.

 

Al-Quds is a Palestinian University. Brandeis University suspended its partnership with Al-Quds University on November 18, 2013, for reasons to do with a demonstration there:

'The Nov. 5 demonstration on the Al-Quds campus involved demonstrators wearing black military gear, armed with fake automatic weapons, and who marched while waving flags and raising the traditional Nazi salute. The demonstration took place in the main square of the Al-Quds campus, which was surrounded by banners depicting images of “martyred” suicide bombers.'

The President of Al-Quds university did condemn the demonstration, after the routine and sentimental sentiment with which his statement began, 'The university is often subjected to vilification campaigns by Jewish extremists ... '

 Lorna Finlayson and Sebastian Nye contributed to an event 'No Platform and Hate Speech' which took place in 2013 in Cambridge. Lorna Finlayson's talk had the very revealing title, 'Free Speech as Liberal Fiction.' Sebastian Nye's talk was 'No-platform, Speech and Speech Acts.' I wasn't present at his talk, but it's likely that the discussion of speech acts was by the way. 'Most of us make our moral judgments intuitively and then look for a reason to justify our decisions.' (This formulation comes from an unexpected source, 'Under the ancient oaks: Musings of a Pagan, Druid, and Unitarian Universalist.' I don't have the least sympathy with the general views of the author but not all his views are the views of a crank. I'm sure that one or two members of the Cambridge Philosophy Faculty (two members, for sure) could learn something from this Pagan, Druid and Unitarian Universalist.

 

So far as I'm aware, the only material on free speech which the Cambridge Faculty of Philosophy Website presents is information about this event.

 

http://www.phil.cam.ac.uk/past-events/no-platform-hate

It includes this:

 

'Should fascists and/or racists be given a platform? Does denial of platform deprive racists of freedom of speech? Should that freedom be protected? Liberal conventional wisdom tends to answer most, or all, of these and related questions in the affirmative. This workshop will critically engage with the liberal conventional wisdom and challenge the assumptions underpinning it.'

 

The record of philosophy at Cambridge, past and present, is a record of massive achievement, including the contributions of Wittgenstein and G E Moore but so many others.

 

'Should fascists and/or racists be given a platform?' This is naive in the extreme. Now, 'racism' and 'fascism,' 'racist' and 'fascist' are used as all-purpose condemnation words, a facile way of establishing instant moral superiority, supposedly, with many, many meanings and many, many applications, spurious and otherwise.

 

Would  the Cambridge philosophers Sebastion Nye and Lorna Finlayson include 'Islamofascists' and 'feminist fascists' in the policy of 'no platform for fascists?' If not, why not? Because ethics for people with their views is about looking good rather than being good, and to oppose radical Islamists and radical feminists (such as Sandra Harding, who claimed that  Newton's Principia Mathematica is a 'rape manual' because 'science is a male rape of female nature.') wouldn't in the least give a good impression?

 

My own view, which I don't defend in any detail here, is a very conservative one, one which advocates a very sparing use of  'racism' and 'fascism,' 'racist' and 'fascist.'

 

'Slate' has an interesting article by Christopher Hitchens defending 'Islamofascism' as valid:

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/

fighting_words/2007/10/defending_islamofascism.html

 

He gives linkages between fascism and 'islamofascism:'

 

'The most obvious points of comparison would be these: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. ("Death to the intellect! Long live death!" as Gen. Francisco Franco's sidekick Gonzalo Queipo de Llano so pithily phrased it.) Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined "humiliations" and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia (interestingly, also, with its milder cousin, anti-Freemason paranoia). Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repression—especially to the repression of any sexual "deviance"—and to its counterparts the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures.'

 

My page on feminist ideology includes a critical section on the anti-feminist Steve Moxon. An extract:

 

'His anti-feminist pieces are undermined for me by a common mistake, his misuse of 'fascist' again and again, as here (in a piece on George Galloway and the rape laws): ' ...the ridiculous sex laws in the UK (as other places in the PC-fascist West).'  He could easily appeal to usage, the fact that 'fascist' has come to mean not much more than 'bad.' The same could be said of the word 'Nazi,' another word often used by anti-feminists. I take the view that usage isn't the ultimate court of appeal. A common usage can still be misuse. If glue-sniffing had become overwhelmingly, common, this would still have been misuse of the substance. Very common usage wouldn't have made it legitimate. So I persist in arguing that these are misuses of words, and underlying the misuse a hideous obliviousness to realities and to crucial differences.

 

'Any good or even adequate anti-feminist site deploys arguments and evidence. Steve Moxon has abilities in scholarship, to an extent, but his critical standards are sometimes abysmal, as in this badly-written worse than routine piece, where good sense goes hand in hand with nonsense, 'Rotherham Council exemplifies PC-fascism (November 24, 2012) ... ' 

 

'Racist' is another simplification word subject to overuse and misuse. It can even mean 'pro-Israeli.' My section on John C. Smith gives further discussion.

 


Dr Andrew Zurcher, selective libertarian

 

Dr Andrew Zurcher of Queens College, Cambridge, is an outspoken defender of free speech. If someone is invited to address a meeting but protestors disagree with the speaker, then outdated notions of free speech would defend the speaker's right to speak, not the protestors right to shout the speaker down. Not so! At least, for Dr Zurcher and many other Cambridge academics. The free speech of the censors is what counts. Obviously, the cause must be a virtuous one. If the speaker is an elected MP and a minister of a democracy, then this is no defence.

 

Andrew Zurcher is a committed defender  not just of freedom of speech, in this special sense, but freedom of action, such as occupation of buildings for as long as it takes - until demands are met, or unless 'repressive' action puts a stop to it.

 

I'm not sure if he would agree with disruption of his lectures (by such means as chanting a poem) or occupation of his own living quarters. There are limits to his tolerance.

 

 

He was one of  sixty Cambridge University academics who 'have spoken out in dismay at the university's handling of a peaceful protest in which more than one hundred students occupied the Law Faculty,' in the version of reality put out by  Cambridge Gaza Solidarity.  The occupation, which lasted a mere six days, before being terminated by the university authorities, was intended to show solidarity with the people of Gaza. The students made 'six main demands' (the number of lesser demands isn't given, whether small or large). One of the main demands was for  disinvestment from the arms trade.

In their letter (February 6, 2009) the academics write

'We ... strongly agree that an educational institution should not be involved with or benefit from the arms trade which has brought so much suffering around the world, and therefore support students' calls for disinvestment from this industry.'

And if every liberal democracy decided to have nothing to do with the arms trade, then every liberal democracy would go under. ISIS would no longer be bombed from the air and the guns would fall silent, the guns of liberal democracies' unarmed forces (formerly, armed forces), that is. ISIS could  invade this country in perfect safety, and could carry out beheading of kuffars, including the deluded people who signed the letter.

 

The consequences of principled objections to the arms trade before the Second World War are obvious, if not to these academics: a successful invasion of this country, followed by mass executions, genocide (genuine genocide, that is , not the genocide which it's claimed the Israelis carry out), forced labour and the ending of free speech.

The champions of Cambridge Cretinization also add some relatively inoffensive waffle.

'As teachers, we strive to foster in our students an interrogative and transformative attitude towards the world' whilst maintaining, in many or most cases, perhaps, an unquestioning belief in the dogma of Palestinian righteousness. This was one proclamation which didn't include even a token reference to Israel's right to defend itself.

Instead of indulging their self-indulgence, like the sixty academics, the University authorities gave a more valuable lesson to the students, in the form of a reality check: the limits to self-indulgence. (This will be a valuable lesson if any of these students are tempted to try similar tactics when they enter employment: occupation of the employer's premises won't be met with gratitude for their enlightenment.) 'Over the course of the six-day sit-in, the University threatened matriculation sanctions and legal action. It also endeavoured to prevent any food being brought into the building for the occupiers.'

If one of the main demands had been for the University to impose an academic boycott against Israel, and a hundred protestors had occupied a Medical Faculty Building and a hundred more Science Laboratories and a hundred more Geography buildings, until the university became gridlocked, if  a hundred radical Islamists had descended on the Law Faculty, occupied a different part of the building and demanded implementation of Sharia law, if hundreds and hundreds of other protesters had decided to occupy University buildings for other causes and made their demands, then even these academics might just have realized that this couldn't possibly go on. 

 

Andrew Zurcher outlines his particular interests:

'I work on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature, with a particular focus on the works of Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney, and William Shakespeare. My research to date has emphasised early modern legal history, Elizabethan colonial and military activity in Ireland, textual studies (including palaeography and manuscript studies), the sixteenth-century reception of Academic and Pyrrhonist epistemology, early modern secretarial practice, and the theory and practice of allegory in the sixteenth century.'

Most of his work is remote from the military and ethical dimensions of the Israel-Gaza conflict. His publication 'English Handwriting 1500-1700: An Online Course, written with Raphael Lyne and Gavin Alexander, wouldn't provide many transferable skills, but his study of military activity in Ireland might have given him some useful insights. It seems not to have done so.

This is from his book 'Edmund Spenser's "The Faerie Queene": A Reading Guide'

Chapter 1. Mapping and making

' ... he was never far from the brutal and repressive violence of Elizabeth's military campaigns in Ireland. He was present at Lord Grey's victory at Smerwick in the autumn of 1580, when at least 600 Spanish and Papal troops surrendered and were summarily massacred. He later accompanied Lord Grey on similarly brutal campaigns in Wicklow and Wexford and he must have seen - and perhaps done - terrible things durig the war that slowly engulfed Ireland after the revolt of the Earl of Tyrone in 1594 ... '

 

Notice that although it seems very likely that he considers Israel beyond the pale, he has a very much more flexible attitude to Edmund Spenser. Edmund Spencer's involvement in 'brutal campaigns' doesn't count against him, or not decisively.

 

My page Ireland and Northern Ireland: distortions and illusions gives a harsh estimate of the position of Ireland at different periods of its history. At these times, it's virtually certain that if Ireland had not been under British influence, or rather, British occupation, it would have been occupied by another powerful state, and more brutal state than the British. See in particular the section on the period of the Second World War.

 

The harsh fact is that Israel provides protection for the Palestinian territories. Israel would do everything possible to prevent the Palestinian territories being occupied by Isis or another radical islamist organization worse than Hamas.

 

Irish nationalist opinion has sometimes made the ridiculous claim that no country has suffered more than Ireland and that no exploiters and oppressors have been worse than the British, which is even more ridiculous. Many Palestinians and many pro-Palestinians have often claimed that nobody has suffered like the Palestinians and that Israelis are the worst exploiters and oppressors. This too is ridiculous. However, I don't have any confidence that these Cambridge academics or the disrupters have a healthy sense of the ridiculous, or a healthy feeling for realites. The people who do the cleaning for the college or who take away the College rubbish may well have superior insights in very many cases, even if they couldn't express the insights with any fluency.

 

A personal note. I'm an alumnus of Cambridge University, although I never graduated there. I left voluntarily after a year to do a variety of ordinary jobs. I'm from a working class background in Sheffield and just couldn't adapt at the time. My higher education wasn't in the least straightforward. I studied later at the University of Keele and eventually graduated from the New University of Ulster, as it then was.

 

Cambridge University's achievement in the most diverse fields is obviously magnificent, overwhelming, but doesn't exclude all mediocrity. The achievement of the signatories, from what I can tell, is very significant, magnificent in individual instances but in this role, they weren't at their best.

 

Dr Zurcher is featured in the article 'Cambridge's most eccentric professors,' published in 'The Tab,' a tabloid magazine produced by students at the University. I don't in the least gloat at the portrayal of Dr Zurcher in the article. I don't find the article interesting in the least, except for the brief quotation of Dr Zurcher's poetry. This, I think has obvious strengths.  'The Tab' on the other hand is tedious, I find, lightweight but leaden, another instance of the mediocrity which can coexist with achievement at Cambridge.

 

The Cambridge Gaza Solidarity page which gives the text of their letter also gives a list of links to other occupations. Highly recommended: the list of occupations. Reading the list of occupations will be more than enough for everyone but the most devoted occupiers, who will be certain that this kind of occupation is virtuous whilst Israel's (alleged) occupation is evil.

So, on to another cause, the 'Cambridge Defend Education' activists, which involved yet another occupation, this time the occupation of Lady Mitchell Hall. This is supplementary material, as the issue had nothing to do with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. There are obvious linkages, however, with the disruption of Shimon Peres' talk by Abdel Takriti.

 

This is one source of information on the protest.

http://www.oxbridgeessays.com/blog/is-cambridge-defend-education-defensible-765/


'The Cambridge Defend Education campaign group was formed in October 2010 in opposition to the dramatic cuts to the government’s education budget and the raising of tuition fees to £9000.

'Dr Andrew Zurcher, in an open letter in support of CDE, published on their website, claimed that any threat to the core values of the university posed by the protesters when they interrupted Willetts’ speech was offset by the fact that the very act of inviting him to give the speech was, in the light of his recent political decisions, an insult to the moral standing of the university in itself. He challenged Goldhill: “You have said that CDE has mistakenly attacked the core values of the university. Perhaps you have undermined them, by inviting a politician to whitewash his ideologically driven rape of the university sector, in a speech that would rhetorically re-describe it as consensual sex.”

'Dr Simon Goldhill, of the Faculty of Classics, had publicly spoken out against the government’s new education policy; even joining a group of 681 academics who sent an open letter of protest against it to the national press last year. But when Willetts’ speech was interrupted, he reacted with an angry statement on the faculty website, claiming that the protesters had denied Willetts himself the very freedom of speech they claimed to be trying to protect.'

 

He wrote,

'There are two reasons why I was disappointed with the form of the protest. I say the form of the protest because, like Naomi Wolf who spoke in Cambridge two weeks ago, I believe that protest is a democratic necessity, and like most who work in the University I have been appalled by the nature of the proposed government reforms of education. I would have been surprised if there had been no expression of the anger many feel. But I was equally annoyed by the way these few students elected to behave.

'The first reason is that we lost an extraordinary opportunity. Mr Willetts agreed to do something very few politicians ever do: to face his critics for an hour of questions without any preconditions. We had some of his most articulate critics in the audience. This exceptional opportunity to change public opinion, whatever Mr Willetts’ response, was lost.

The second reason is that the protest, in the name of protecting the values of the university, destroyed the values of the university. You cannot defend the university as a place of rational debate, as the home of the free and critical exchange of ideas, by preventing people from listening to a talk they wish to hear, by refusing to listen to views you disagree with, and by shouting down any opposition ...

 

'The history of the twentieth century reveals again and again the disastrous consequences of this sort of behaviour. It starts with anger, often, as in this case, justified anger, but when it moves through absolute certainty, to violently excluding other voices, then the political consequences become lethal. I stood for a good while with the protesters earlier outside Lady Mitchell Hall, and heard speaker after speaker extol the opportunity for anyone to speak, to hear the marginal voices, and many passionate defences of educational principles with which I agree – and then sadly watched the violent destruction of such ideals in the protest’s strident, totalitarian yelling.’

I agree with Simon Goldhill. For the record, I've an immense respect for the achievements of this country in scholarship and in scientific and technological research and dismayed by the under-valuing of academics. I think they should be paid much more, even if a  minority wouldn't deserve to be paid more. 

 

 

The Oxbridge Essay site gives this information:

'Willetts was prevented from speaking at all, as several students around the hall began chanting a 25-minute poem beginning "David Willetts, the future does not belong to you/This is an epistle that is addressed to you". [Surely the word is 'doggerel,' not 'poem.'] The chanting was done using the so-called "people's microphone" method, whereby Owen Holland read out each line, which was then repeated back by all the other protesters. Willetts had been due to give a speech on "The Idea of the University", but left the hall during the course of the 'epistle'. The protest divided opinion among Cambridge students, many of whom, including CUSU President Gerard Tully, claimed that it had violated David Willetts' right to freedom of speech.'

The people who signed the letter in support of the occupation of the Law Faculty building may or may not have supported the disruption of the speech.

Film of the protest:

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMQaIJoTr2M

See also

http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/news/0015649-universities-minister-finally-comments-on-students-rustication.html

 

 

 

 

Dr J. Wallace, Mr M. Golding: student critics

  Mr Martin Golding and Dr Jennifer Wallace are both at Peterhouse College, Cambridge. They signed the anti-Israeli statement of 28 September, 2014. All the other Cambridge academics with profiles on this page signed as well, except for Sebastian Nye. In these other profiles, in the page as a whole, I've given counter-arguments and evidence.

It's heartening that a group of Cambridge students opposed these academics. Congratulations to Josh Goodman of Churchill College, who organized the counter-statement.  A link to the counter-statement and the list of signatories:

http://camisraelstatement.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/counter-statement-by-students-at.html?m=0


An extract from Till Schöfer's  report in 'Varsity' (17 October, 2014):

'A group of Cambridge students has published a statement condemning the use of anti-Israel rhetoric by university academics. The statement, with 61 signatories, is a direct reaction to a similar piece released late last month by a group of university academics.

...

'The roughly 60 supporters of the new, pro-Israel statement have taken strong exception to the “misguided and myopic statement issued by Cambridge academics [and to] the discriminatory practices of our university lecturers”.

 

'According to these students, the singling-out of Israel is immoral, particularly considering that several global conflicts have produced much higher death tolls. The signatories further urge the pro-Palestine academics not to rely so heavily on figures concerning civilian deaths released by Hamas.

 

'The statement goes on to underline the poor treatment of Palestinians in Lebanon, the civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq and the military asymmetry between China and Tibetan and Taiwanese separatists.

 

'These conflicts, according to the Cambridge group, provide a global context in which the students “condemn these academics for singling out Israel, the policies of which are open to criticism like any government’s, but which has been deemed by this group to be the only country in the world worth criticising.”

...

'The Cambridge University Israel Society commented on this independently issued statement as follows: “This eye-opening letter from the student body rightly highlights the lack of nuance from some Cambridge academics in their strikingly un-academic torrent

Dr A. Takriti, historian, censor, slogan-shouter

See also Dr Jason Scott-Warren (CU) shouts Out! Out! Out!' with video link, 'Cambridge University students hijack talk by David Willetts, Minister for Higher Education 22/11/11.' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMQaIJoTr2M

 

Film of Shimon Peres speaking at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford University. At 4:00 Abdel Razzaq Takriti begins to shout slogans and is removed.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbT2Z4dh-KA

 

This noisy and chaotic episode, described below, dates from his time at Wadham College, Oxford, when he was a doctoral student. 

 

Dr Abdel Takriti  is now a lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield. Although elimination of all bias in the teaching of history is obviously impossible, the avoidance of gross ideological bias and outright propaganda in the teaching of history isn't an impossible objective. If Wikipedia can make strenuous efforts to be fair-minded, no less should be expected of a department of history in a British university. He currently teaches a module  'Palestine and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Whether his teaching of the topic is partisan, or propagandist I've no way of knowing. I'm receptive to any evidence.

 

He may still think of his protest as deeply principled. I'm requesting that he should say what his attitude to his protest is now, that he should either defend it or regret it. Would he recommend that  students at the university should follow his example in the unlikely event that a high-ranking politician from Israel came to speak at the university?

 

One principle he was certainly  attacking, a principle under relentless attack now, not least in so many universities, and a principle which it's essential to defend, is the enlightenment principle of freedom of speech, expressed memorably in the credo 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.' (often attributed to Voltaire, but in fact the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in her  book 'The Friends of Voltaire' of 1906. She summarized Voltaire's attitude towards Helvétius, not the words of Voltaire.)

 

In the section below Heckling the boycotters (who tried to prevent or to disrupt a performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra) I point out that other groups try to prevent or disrupt musical performances for very different reasons, such as Islamist groups who object to all musical performances. Radical Islamist groups would condemn performances approved of by anti-Israel boycotters, including performances by the Palestinian rap grop 'Dam.' Disrupt the speech of Shimon Peres but allow Christians to give sermons? Impossible, according to radical Islamists. Better by far to have as few limits on free speech as humanly possible. If Abdel Takriti has an answer to these arguments, I'd be glad to hear about them.

 

A report on Mr Takriti, soon to be Dr Takriti, in action. I find it very disturbing. It was published by the pro-Palestinian site 'Electronic Intifada' (20 November, 2008.)

  'Text messages came from student protestors who had managed to get inside the lecture hall. They let the their  fellow demonstrators outside know that their chanting could be heard inside over the voice of Israeli President Shimon Peres. There was clapping and stamping of feet and placards banged on the railings to make as much noise as possible, along with the constant “Free, free Palestine” which did not stop for a moment of the hour-long lecture.

Silent women in black, shouting students, small babies in prams, university lecturers and a local elected official were just some of the crowd gathered to voice their protest against an Oxford college’s decision to honor Peres on Tuesday, 18 November as he gave the inaugural lecture in a series to be named after him. Some handed out leaflets and many were carrying signs, one of which read “Globalization of Apartheid,” a pun on the title of the lecture, “Globalization of Peace.”


'After the Master of Balliol College, Dr. Andrew Graham, refused to cancel the series  the Oxford University Student Palestine Society in conjunction with the city’s branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) called for the people of Oxford to protest outside the hall as students interrupted the lecture inside.

 

'Halfway through the lecture, Abdel Razzaq Takriti, a Palestinian graduate student at Oxford’s Wadham College, Oxford was ejected from the hall. “Shimon Peres was making a particularly offensive remark claiming that ‘you [Palestinians] could have had a state if it wasn’t for your own mistakes’ and that Israelis fought for their state,” he told this writer, who was also participating in the protest. He then stated “We don’t need your permission to exist” and got support from other students for it. Takriti explained: “So I stood up and walked towards [Peres], saying, ‘how dare you say this at a time when you are besieging 1.5 million people in Gaza? 1.5 million people are starving to death! Shimon Peres, you’re a war criminal. You are responsible for the massacre of hundreds of people in Qana [southern Lebanon]. You’re responsible for an apartheid state. Shame on you.’ so I was dragged out.” '

 

Some comments, with background information. First of all, Shimon Peres was a 'dove' not a 'hawk,' or at least became a dove early in his career - but Israeli 'hawks,' like the 'doves,' deserve to be listened to without any attempts to shout the speaker down if they come to speak at a British university.

 

Some extracts from 'Israel: A History,' by Martin Gilbert on Shimon Peres. The estimate of other historians may be different, possibly very different, but Abdel Takriti's description is a travesty. Perhaps he would like to give a much fuller, carefully considered estimate of Shimon Peres, with evidence. If he still regards him as a war criminal, what does he think about the use of rockets by Hamas against Israeli civilians: a war crime or not?

 

I’m not a professional historian but I have an immense respect for historical scholarship (with exceptions, of course.) I think that this is a golden age for historical study and historical scholarship, based on my very wide reading in the field, and I think that undergraduates and graduate students who choose to study history or to do research in history have chosen wisely.

 

Martin Gilbert writes,

'Turning to Shimon Peres, Leah Rabin urged him 'to lead the people of Israel to peace', and to do so 'in the spirit of Kitzhak [Rabin]' who had spoken in these terms:

'I want this government to exhaust every opening, every possibility, to promote and achieve a comprehensive peace. Even with Syria, it will be possible to make peace.'

'Shimon Peres continued with the peace process. The Oslo Accords had been his creation: he now had the full authority as Prime Minister to pursue their timetable.'

' ... on February 25 [1996] a suicide bomber, entering a bus in Jerusalem, killed twenty-five people, most of them Israeli soldiers. A Muslim Arab, Wael Kawasmeh, who was waiting for a bus, was also killed. That same day a suicide bomber in Ashkelon blew himself up at a bus stop. One Israeli was killed, twenty-year old Hofit Ayash, who had recently chosen a wedding gown for her marriage in four months' time.

'Arafat's adviser, Ahmed Tibi, condemned the bus bombs. 'The circle of violence must be broken and stopped,' he said. 'There is no place for revenge attacks.' But on March 13, thirteen more Israelis were killed by a suicide bomber in the heart of Jerusalem on the same bus route, No. 18, as the previous bomb. One of those killed, nineteen-year-old Chaim Amedi, had unintentionally missed the bus that had been destroyed in the last attack. Another of those killed, thirty-eight-year-old George Yonan, was a Christian Arab who had been deaf from birth.

'On the following day a suicide bomber struck in Tel Aviv, in a crowded shopping street in the centre of the city, killing eighteen. These were enormous explosions that ripped the buses apart, mutilating many of the dead beyond recognition. The mood inside Israel was of near despair. It seemed impossible that the peace process could go on while such terrorist killings, on a far larger scale than before, went on.

'Immediately after the March 3 bus bomb, Peres had warned Arafat that the future of the peace process 'hangs in the balance' unless the Palestinian Authority took immediate action against Hamas. Israel could not be the only party to the agreements to keep its commitments. 'It cannot be unilateral.' ...

'The continuation of the Oslo Accords was under great strain. The Government of Israel, first under Rabin and then under Peres, repeatedly declared that it would not allow terror to derail the peace process, and negotiations with the Palestinians continued on the many issues relating to Palestinian autonomy and Israeli withdrawal ...

'Peres, the architect of Oslo, was himself under enormous public pressure to react  to the killings. But he declined to suspend the timetable of the Oslo Accords. Instead, in agreement with the Palestinians, he postponed the redeployment on Hebron, and called an election. In doing so, and thus inviting the Israeli public to express its opinion through the ballot box, he hoped to win and endorsement for continuing the peace negotiations. These included negotiations with Syria, to which Peres, like Rabin before him, was prepared to return most, and even all, of the Golan Heights in return for a full peace between the two countries.'

...

'The election was held on May 29 ... Labour emerged with the largest number of seats in the Knesset: 34 seats as against Likud's 32. But in the separate vote for Prime Minister the former leader of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, won, by the narrowest of margins ...

...

'Following his defeat in the 1996 election, Shimon Peres [described as a 'war criminal' by the demonstrators in Oxford who tried to stop him speaking, including the would-be censor Abdel Takriti] had refused to give up his vision. 'We shall continue to dream together,' he wrote, 'of a Middle East of light and hope.' In pursuit of that dream, he continued to advance the cause of economic cross-border activities, and to 'tutor' his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, in what could be achieved for the region through mutually acceptable agreements with all its neighbours.'

In a speech in the Knesset on October 7, Shimon Peres said,

'I want to say what real peace is in my experience. True peace is the way of agony. I remember what my comrades and I have gone through over the past year, seeing that man, the great military leader and the courageous statesman Yitzhak Rabin murdered before my eyes.' [He was assassinated by a Jew, not a Palestinian.]

...

'And afterwards I saw - I, a man who pursues peace - the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. I know what it is to leave one's office and be told that a bus has exploded. You also showed it on television. Thank you. I went there and I saw the blood and the flesh and the murder and the killing, and I saw the people screaming at me: 'You are guilty'.'


 

Abdel Razzaq Takriti, a doctoral student at Oxford University at the time, makes the reckless and completely false claim that '1.5 million people are starving to death!' The section on this page Gaza: starvation and obesity includes this information, published not long before his outburst:

 

'According to The Economist's 'Pocket World in Figures' (2007) Gaza and the West Bank had many people anything but emaciated, despite the Israeli 'siege.'  42.5% of women were classified as obese, the third highest in the world, and 23.9% of men, the eighth highest.'

 

Below, I discuss at length Richard Goldstone, not at all uncritical of Israel, when he believes it can be justified, and the Goldstone report, which was very critical of Israel but later comprehensively modified. Included is a section on the claim that Israel is, in the words of Dr  Takriti, 'an apartheid state.'

'Richard Goldstone has  published a significant letter in the New York Times on the claim that Israel is an 'apartheid state.' (November 1, 2011.) Extracts:


' "Israel and the Apartheid Slander," by Richard Goldstone for the New York Times:


'The Palestinian Authority’s request for full United Nations membership has put hope for any two-state solution under increasing pressure. The need for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians has never been greater. So it is important to separate legitimate criticism of Israel from assaults that aim to isolate, demonize and delegitimize it.
One particularly pernicious and enduring canard that is surfacing again is that Israel pursues “apartheid” policies. In Cape Town starting on Saturday, a London-based nongovernmental organization called the Russell Tribunal on Palestine will hold a “hearing” on whether Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. It is not a “tribunal.” The “evidence” is going to be one-sided and the members of the “jury” are critics whose harsh views of Israel are well known.
While “apartheid” can have broader meaning, its use is meant to evoke the situation in pre-1994 South Africa. It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations.
...
'In assessing the accusation that Israel pursues apartheid policies, which are by definition primarily about race or ethnicity, it is important first to distinguish between the situations in Israel, where Arabs are citizens, and in West Bank areas that remain under Israeli control in the absence of a peace agreement.

'In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: “Inhumane acts ... committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.

...
'The situation in the West Bank is more complex. But here too there is no intent to maintain “an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group.” ... until there is a two-state peace, or at least as long as Israel’s citizens remain under threat of attacks from the West Bank and Gaza, Israel will see roadblocks and similar measures as necessary for self-defense, even as Palestinians feel oppressed. As things stand, attacks from one side are met by counterattacks from the other. And the deep disputes, claims and counterclaims are only hardened when the offensive analogy of “apartheid” is invoked.
Those seeking to promote the myth of Israeli apartheid often point to clashes between heavily armed Israeli soldiers and stone-throwing Palestinians in the West Bank, or the building of what they call an “apartheid wall” and disparate treatment on West Bank roads. While such images may appear to invite a superficial comparison, it is disingenuous to use them to distort the reality. The security barrier was built to stop unrelenting terrorist attacks; while it has inflicted great hardship in places, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the state in many cases to reroute it to minimize unreasonable hardship. Road restrictions get more intrusive after violent attacks and are ameliorated when the threat is reduced.'
...

'Jewish-Arab relations in Israel and the West Bank cannot be simplified to a narrative of Jewish discrimination. There is hostility and suspicion on both sides. Israel, unique among democracies, has been in a state of war with many of its neighbors who refuse to accept its existence ...

 

Below, I also quote the Canadian writer and politician Michael Ignatieff, who wrote, 'Israeli Apartheid Week is ... a dangerous cocktail of ignorance and intolerance ... By portraying the Jewish state as criminal, by demonizing Israel and its supporters ... the organizers and supporters of Israeli Apartheid Week tarnish our freedom of speech.


“On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our parliamentary caucus, I urge all Canadians to join with us in once again condemning Israeli Apartheid Week here in Canada and around the world.”

 

On this page, the section Democracies and warfare: harsh realities gives background information which is relevant. The site

 

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article28827.htm

 

gives information on NATO's killing of civilians during an operation in Libya. It's instructive for the parallels (the linkages) with the alleged massacre at Qana, mentioned by Dr Takriti:

 

'Family members, eyewitnesses and Libyan government officials claim that NATO’s air-strikes at Majer killed 85 people, including 33 children, 32 women and 20 men. Reporters and visitors were shown 30 of the bodies in a local morgue, including a mother and two children. Officials and residents explained that approximately 50 bodies were taken to other locations for family burial and most of the injured rushed to hospitals at Tripoli.

 

'At Majer, NATO chose to bomb three neighboring compounds and visitors examined a total of five bombed-out houses. There was no evidence of weapons at the farmhouses, but rather mattresses, clothes and books littered the area.'

 

It isn't heartless to point out that the senior politicians of the NATO countries had no direct responsibility for this tragic mistake, or an indirect responsibility for that matter. If these politicians had been shouted down when they spoke at a university, if there had been calls to boycott the  orchestras of these NATO countries and to boycott goods produced by these countries, it would have been unfair - and ridiculous.

 

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!

 

(Wordsworth, 'The Prelude,' XI, 692 - 693, 1805 version)

 

Dr Takriti, writing on the Arab Spring, gets it spectacularly wrong in this article, published in 'The Guardian' (18 February, 2011). And he claims that he, like others who 'campaigned for change,' was 'brutalised.'

 

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/feb/18/arab-dreams-revolutionary-heritage

 

'Arab youth, don't lose momentum now: Our generation has finally rediscovered the lost revolutionary heritage of our forefathers - we must keep the dream alive.

 

'Those of us who campaigned for change were ignored and brutalised. Yet, by the grace of this Egyptian revolution and its Tunisian sister, the struggles of the last decades have been vindicated and the tradition has been reclaimed. Popular movements now will begin a new chapter of legitimacy and honour in a struggle for genuine representation. We are living a dream.

'Against all the odds two tyrants have so far been overthrown; and Arab youth across the world are exchanging excited messages. "Mabrouk" (congratulations) is the word of the day and 11 February 2011 will be permanently marked as an anniversary of celebration and joy, a milestone in the international history of democracy.

'This Arab quest for freedom and liberation has always had powerful opponents; our dreams are their nightmares. They know as well as we do that the Egyptian revolution represents not just the overthrow of the ancien regime, but the decolonisation of the country. The first condition of true representative democracy is independence. But this is not something that the American, Israeli and other foreign governments wish for Egypt or any other Arab country, in spite of the attempts at presenting the Egyptian military establishment as a free-standing independent actor.

Yet, it may still be possible to realise our dream if we can keep close to popular consensus, which in Egypt's case has growing influence within the lower ranks of the army, who are overwhelmingly patriotic. The challenge for this generation of Arab youth is not to lose the momentum: our generation has finally rediscovered the lost revolutionary heritage of our parents and grandparents. Today, hundreds of thousands are struggling for their freedom in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Palestine. If the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions have taught us anything, it is that we organise without respite until the rest of the Arab world is also free: we carry the dream.'

 

A less naive historian, one who is aware that time after time, hopes have been bitterly disappointed, one with a keen sense of historical realities, would not have been so rash.

 

The author now finds that Egypt is under authoritarian rule, although authoritarian rule which is surely preferable to the authoritarian and incompetent rule of the Muslim Brotherhood - and an Egypt which is hostile to Hamas.

 

Current developments in Tunisia are partly promising, partly hideous. David D. Kirkpatrick, writing in the New York Times,

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/world/africa/new-freedoms-in-tunisia-drive-support-for-isis.html?_r=0

 

'New Freedoms in Tunisia Drive Support for ISIS

 

'Nearly four years after the Arab Spring  revolt, Tunisia remains its lone success as chaos engulfs much of the region. But that is not its only distinction: Tunisia has sent more foreign fighters than any other country to Iraq and Syria to join the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State.

 

'And throughout the working-class suburbs of the capital, young men are eager to talk about why.

“ 'Don’t you see it as a source of pride?” challenged Sufian Abbas, 31, a student sitting at a street cafe in the densely packed Ettadhamen district with a half-dozen like-minded friends.

 

'Tunisians have approved a new Constitution by a broad consensus, and a second free election is to take place this month. The country has the advantage of one of the Arab world’s most educated and cosmopolitan populations, numbering just 11 million, and it has some of the most alluring Mediterranean beaches.

 

'But instead of sapping the appeal of militant extremism, the new freedom that came with the Arab Spring revolt has allowed militants to preach and recruit more openly than ever before. At the same time, many young Tunisians say that the new freedoms and elections have done little to improve their daily lives, create jobs or rein in a brutal police force that many here still refer to as “the ruler,” or, among ultraconservative Islamists, “the tyrant.”

 

 

 

Dr Paul Kelemen and a Moral Megalopolis

Here in Northern England, there are calls to create a mighty mega-city, a 'global economic powerhouse' which would unite the massive resources of Manchester, Sheffield. Leeds and Liverpool. Could there be an intellectual megalopolis, too? Or even a Moral Megalopolis, which would combine the moral insights of the Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Leeds Solidarity Campaign and the Liverpool Friends of Palestine?

 

If so, Paul Kelemen would be likely to play a not insignificant part. He's a sociologist at the University of Manchester and a member of   the Board of Trustees of the 'Ahmed Iqbal Race Relations Resource Center' in Manchester (although in his Biography section in the Manchester University site he uses the misspelling 'Ahamad ... ')  but he also has links with Sheffield, the city where I live. He's a member of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign and until recently was a governor at a secondary school in the city.

 

Paul Kelemen on the Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of war crimes:

 

'Over 600 Jews, including myself, signed an advertisement condemning the vilification of the Goldstone report. It is those who seek to defend the indefensible who are guilty of bigotry. I am proud to be a member of Sheffield PSC [Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign].

 

Another contribution to the same page:

 

'I’m sick and tired of the Israel bashing and the blatant, narrow, politically correct, left wing bias on what is supposed to be a community station but which has been hi-jacked by people only interested in promoting one side of the agenda.'

 

Is Paul Kelemen one of these Israel-bashers with a blatant, narrow, politically correct, left wing bias, someone interested in promoting one side of the agenda only? I'm sure that he is, despite his academic credentials.

 

Paul Keleman's naive belief in the power of numbers -  600 Jews united in their defence of the Goldstone report - is undermined by a closer look at some of the 600. Every near-illiterate, conspiracy theorist and head-case who signs an on-line petition adds to the numbers and helps to give the impression that the case is unanswerable - but the impression is deeply mistaken, based on rubbishy assumptions.

 

Take Deborah Fink and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, for example, two of the celebrated 600, and two of the people who disrupted a Proms concert given by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, discussed at length below in Heckling the boycotters.  Signing a resounding declaration takes only a moment. The ability to present convincing arguments, based on evidence, is much more demanding. I doubt very much if Deborah Fink or Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi would be up to it. My comments on Deborah Fink, sometimes described as a 'soprano,' are here. She led the singing at the disrupted Proms concert. A video which shows her in action, first of all singing 'Happy birthday to you' at a demonstration, with a change of words, 'Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, I'm ashamed as a Jew.' Later, taken away with the police. She protests, 'Get off me, you fascist.'

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OknjF8YQwh0

I write about Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi that she is 'a tireless campaigner against parking fines as well as against the state of Israel. She once chained herself to some railings as a protest against a fine. She has the tirelessness of unending, misdirected effort ... The literary critic F. R. Leavis wrote of the poet Edith Sitwell and her brothers (in 'New Bearings in English Poetry') ' ... the Sitwells belong to the history of publicity rather than poetry.' The disruption of the Proms concert by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and the others belongs to the history of exhibitionism rather than authentic struggle. It's no more likely to lessen in the slightest the intractable problems of the Middle East than her parking protest.'

 

Tony Greenstein, another signatory, is given much fuller coverage in my discussion below. I quote Oliver Kamm:

 

'Tony is himself a political crank of the first order ... he distinguished himself by writing in outrage tothe far Left London Labour Briefing complaining that it had praised Mrs Thatcher's courage in defying the Brighton bombers ... 'The attack on Mrs Thatcher by the IRA was obviously legitimate. She was a military target.' Obviously legitimate to eliminate the Prime Minister of a democracy? You've got a lot to learn! Tony Greenstein has been described as an 'ignoramus.' This seems excessively generous. He admitted in a letter to Weekly Worker ... 'Yes, I want the state of Israel to be destroyed. On the Holocaust, he argued that 'without a Zionist movement ... it is hard to believe that anything like 6 million would have been allowed to die.'

 

It's difficult to be exact, but Paul Kelemen is perhaps a political crank of the second or third order. What's much more certain is that his opinion of the Goldstone report, and the opinion of the 599 or so other would-be opinion formers, was deeply flawed. To the Prime Minister at the time, Gordon Brown, there was this plea: 'We ... urge you to endorse the Report at the next available opportunity.' Endorsing the report would have been deeply mistaken. From my discussion below:

 

'At the time of writing, Judge Richard Goldstone had found Israel responsible for war crimes in a United Nations report (and Palestinians guilty of war crimes too), but the writers are naive in believing that a report that comes from the United Nations comes with a guarantee of objectivity, impartiality, fairness and accuracy.


'The evidence is that whatever effort Richard Goldstone took to make the report objective, impartial, fair and accurate, his success was limited and that the report was flawed. There's general agreement that he reconsidered, recanted, although some disagreement about the extent. This is the opinion of Carlo Strenger, very often a strong critic of Israel, its actions and policies, sometimes, but not always, with complete justification - I think he sometimes falls into the trap of 'perfectionism,' a less than adequate, unrealistic approach: a pervasive error. It was published in 'The Guardian.'

His very interesting and accomplished piece is headed, 'Richard Goldstone's changed mind on Israel should lead to official retraction.

'If the UN were to scrap the Goldstone report, it might help to rebuild some Israeli trust in the international community.'

 

'An extract:

'Richard Goldstone's Washington Post op-ed retracting some of the central conclusions of his earlier report is something of an earthquake: his 2009 report has marked one of the deepest rifts between Israel and the international community.


'Its bottom line was simple and resounding: Israel had committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity in Operation Cast Lead by intentionally targeting the civilian population.


'Goldstone's Jewishness and Zionist past gave the report special weight: It seemed that the UN had chosen a judge who could by no means be dismissed as anti-Israeli.

'If you actually read the report, it is more differentiated than the bottom line. But in a world of headlines, the damage was phenomenal. He had created the impression that Israel was acting cruelly out of choice.


'Goldstone had not given an accurate picture of what it is like to face an enemy devoid of any humanitarian considerations even towards its own population, willing to make it pay a horrible price for political gain.


'The Goldstone report drove Israel's public opinion even further to the right, because Israelis, for good reasons, felt that the report was slanted and one-sided.

'I took a clear position during operation Cast Lead in public, and I haven't changed my mind since. I thought, and continue to think, that Israel has the right and the duty to defend its citizens. After the years of incessant shelling of Israel's south, drastic action was inevitable.


'I was, and continue to be, utterly disgusted by Hamas's cynicism; its use of civilian population as a hiding place for weapons and terrorists; its booby-trapping of buildings with civilian inhabitants. Hamas even exploited the relative weakness of the rockets that it sent into Israel: because they inflicted little actual damage, the world never realised how deeply the Qassam attacks terrorised the population in Israel's south, and it made the extent of Israel's retaliation look disproportionate.


'Nevertheless, I thought that Israel was going too far in Operation Cast Lead, and I haven't changed my mind. I wrote at the time that even an enemy like Hamas must by no means dictate Israel's moral standards. The fact is that both Tzipi Livni and the defence minister, Ehud Barak, wanted to end the operation a few days after it began, but then Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, insisted on continuing – repeating his terrible failure of judgment in the 2006 Lebanon war.


'Israel was faced with terrible choices, and only superficial moralists can argue that Israel could have done nothing. Faced with an enemy devoid of restraint, the question was where to draw the line. I believe humanitarian considerations could and should have played a greater role in limiting the extent of death and human suffering inflicted on Gaza's civilian population.


'But there is a world of a difference in having to choose between terrible options and the Goldstone report's original accusation that Israel intentionally targeted civilians.

'Goldstone's retraction is therefore immensely important. While it is legitimate to criticise Israeli policies, Hamas's systematic targeting of Israeli civilians and Israel's attempt to neutralise Hamas's military infrastructure simply belong to different moral universes: Israel tries to defend itself within the framework of international law – Hamas cynically exploits suffering for its own purposes.


'We do not know exactly what has made Goldstone change his mind. One of the reasons certainly is that he sees that Israel indeed investigated its actions in Operation Cast Lead seriously, whereas Hamas continues to behave like a terror organisation that has no interest in the truth, and only in political gain.


'Hence I agree with Barak's call to Goldstone to make his conclusions more widely known, and Netanyahu's call to the UN to scrap the original report – even though this is unlikely to happen.


'The UN might consider that the history of one-sided anti-Israeli resolutions has led to the point where Israel's citizens and politicians have no trust in the UN, and certainly do not see it as the impartial, moral arbiter it is supposed to be. An official retraction might do something to build a minimum of trust for Israelis towards the UN.'

 

In the section on

 

The letter signed by the 600 wasn't in the least an extremist document. It included this statement, 'We further note that the Report unequivocally condemns not just Israel’s devastation of Gaza but also Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli neighbourhoods and does not in any way deny Israel its right to legitimate self-defence.'

 

I've every reason to believe that some of the signatories do deny Israel its right to legitimate self-defence, or if they do believe this, are completely unwilling to accept that Israel can only defend itself militarily, and that military action is certain to lead to civilian casualties. These signatories were on their best behaviour. The statement was for public consumption and didn't reflect their real views. If Dr Kelemen disputes this, he's very welcome to contact me, or to make known his disagreement in a convenient place, such as the Website of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

 

Dr Kelemen was one of the speakers at the 2014 Oxford Israel Apartheid Week. In the section on Dr Takriti, who was another speaker at this event. In the section on Dr Takriti, I give an extract from Richard Goldstone's article Israel and the Apartheid slander which was published in the 'New York Times (November 1, 2011.) A few short extracts from this extract:

 

' ... While “apartheid” can have broader meaning, its use is meant to evoke the situation in pre-1994 South Africa. It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel ...

'In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: “Inhumane acts ... committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.

 

'In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: “Inhumane acts ... committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment ... Those seeking to promote the myth of Israeli apartheid often point to clashes between heavily armed Israeli soldiers and stone-throwing Palestinians in the West Bank, or the building of what they call an “apartheid wall” and disparate treatment on West Bank roads. While such images may appear to invite a superficial comparison, it is disingenuous to use them to distort the reality. The security barrier was built to stop unrelenting terrorist attacks ... Jewish-Arab relations in Israel and the West Bank cannot be simplified to a narrative of Jewish discrimination. There is hostility and suspicion on both sides. Israel, unique among democracies, has been in a state of war with many of its neighbors who refuse to accept its existence.'

I also quote the Canadian writer and politician Michael Ignatieff, who wrote, 'Israeli Apartheid Week is ... a dangerous cocktail of ignorance and intolerance ... By portraying the Jewish state as criminal, by demonizing Israel and its supporters ... the organizers and supporters of Israeli Apartheid Week tarnish our freedom of speech.

 

“ 'On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our parliamentary caucus, I urge all Canadians to join with us in once again condemning Israeli Apartheid Week here in Canada and around the world.” '

 

Dr John C Smith on racism and imperialism

 

 

Accusations of racism are flung around so freely now, and it’s sometimes assumed that anyone accused of racism – wrongly accused – has no alternative but to creep into a hole and admit that the accuser has a vastly higher moral sense. It won’t work. There are legitimate uses for the word, but 'racist,' like 'sexist' and 'elitist' is often used as a simplification-word. Accusations of racism have become reflex responses for many people. They by-pass the brain. Nothing is easier than shouting out 'racist!' and the word has come to be used as an all-purpose condemnation, the use of which confers instant superiority, supposedly. If the word is used, then the user should be prepared to give evidence and to give some sort of meaning to the word. In practice, the word is used again and again as an all-purpose derogatory word, signifying not much more than intense disapproval - and self-approval for the user.

'Racist' is one of the commonest words in the debased lexicon of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, along with genocide, apartheid, oppression. 'Racist' means 'not agreeing with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign or defending Israel or criticizing Palestinians.'

Musheir el-Farra uses the PSC definition of racism without shame. Recently, I took a stand at a Sheffield PSC event - a demonstration outside a supermarket which stocks some goods from Israel, calling on shoppers to boycott the supermarket. I urged shoppers to take no notice of the boycotters and I gave some information about Palestinian society which appears on this page. This didn't take much time. For most of the time that I was there, I was talking to a PSC member called  John C. Smith, who belongs to the SPSC Intelligentsia. He's a lecturer at Kingston University.  We discussed a wide range of topics, including the British Empire. As the British Empire is a very big topic and we discussed so much else, our discussion of the British Empire was far from comprehensive.  He said that the British Empire in its 'three centuries' of existence had caused as much harm in Latin America (Latin America?) Africa and Asia as Nazism. I disagreed strongly with that. I mentioned some benefits of the British Empire to do with the material conditions of life, such as the railways, which amongst other things made it easier to bring supplies to regions suffering from famine.

Before this private conversation, whilst I was making a public stand, Musheir El-Farra began to shout out 'Racist! Racist!' I went over to him and objected strongly. He knew practically nothing about me. What I'd said could never be interpreted as racism, or not by any reasonable person, surely.   Because I defended Israel and criticized aspects of Palestinian society then I was a racist, in his view. Although my conversation with John Smith was very amicable, he later called me a racist too - on the grounds that as I'd defended the British Empire (spoken a few words in defence of the British empire) I must be an 'imperialist' and all imperialists are racist!

John C. Smith is one of the many, many supporters of the Palestinian cause whose opposition to Israel goes with opposition to Britain and the United States, not including, of course, elements of Israeli, British and American society which share his views. There are many, many Islamists who will be completely opposed to John C. Smith and the elements of Israeli, British and American society who share his views, if they are 'kuffars' (non-Muslim.)

From an interview with Efraim Karsh, the author of Islamic Imperialism: A History.'

'FP: If the Left hates imperialism so much, where is it moral indignation regarding Islamic imperialism?

 

'Karsh: There is a pervasive guilt complex among left-wing intellectuals and politicians, which dates back to the early twentieth century and stems from the belief that the West “has been the arch aggressor of modern times,” to use the words of Arnold Toynbee, one of the more influential early exponents of this dogma. This has resulted in a highly politicized scholarship (especially under the pretentious title of “post-colonial studies”) which berates “Western imperialism” as the source of all evil and absolves the local actors of any blame or responsibility for their own problems. But this self-righteous approach is academically unsound and morally reprehensible. It is academically unsound because the facts tell an altogether different story of Islamic and Middle Eastern history, one that has consistently been suppressed because of its incongruity with the politically-correct dogmas ... '

The fact that I've written on the horrors of American slavery and worked on death penalty cases involving black defendants (disproportionately represented on American death rows) will do me no good. Racism is first and foremost  a Palestinian issue. Palestinians are the victims and Israelis and defenders of Israel are the racists.

The PSC definition of compassion is equally restricted. We all know what 'political correctness' is. 'Compassion correctness' is the view that compassion is ideologically determined. In the PSC interpretation, the suffering of Palestinians takes priority over any other form of suffering. It's legitimate for people to feel compassion for Christians persecuted in Nigeria or Moslems persecuted in Syria, but if a person feels more compassion for these Christians or these Moslems, then this is not real compassion. People who have compassion for Palestinian suffering but defend Israel are completely lacking in compassion and feeling. People who have compassion for Palestinian suffering but no compassion for other suffering - animal suffering, suffering in the Congo, Tibet, Kurdistan, anywhere but Palestine - are people of compassion and genuine feeling. My own record is a very poor one and I'm a person without any compassionate feeling, according to this definition, because I've spent so much time on animal causes, such as factory farming, and human rights, but not specifically Palestinian rights.

Niall Ferguson's 'Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World' should have been subtitled 'How Britain Helped to Make the Modern World' but the actual title doesn't exaggerate wildly. The book is a corrective to John C Smith's fastidious determination to deny any benefits at all to British rule.

In his conclusion, Niall Ferguson and in other places, Nill Ferguson defends the record of the British empire. John C. Smith would no doubt consider that his careful and balanced discussion is the work of an imperialist and that this makes him a racist as well.

'Without the spread of British rule around the world, it is hard to believe that the structures of liberal capitalism would have been so successfully established in so many different economies around the world. Those empires that adopted alternative models - the Russian and the Chinese - imposed incalculable misery on their subject peoples. Without the influence of British imperial rule, it is hard to believe that the institutions of parliamentary democracy would have been adopted by the majority of states in the world, [but not, of course, the overwhelming majority of states] as they are today. India, the world's largest democracy, owes more than it is fashionable to acknowledge to British rule. Its elite schools, [cries of rage at the mention of 'elite'] its universities, its civil service, its army, its press and its parliamentary system all still have discernibly British models. Finally, there is the English language itself, perhaps the most important single export of the last 300 years. Today 350 million people speak English as their first language and around 450 million have it as a second language. That is roughly one in every seven people on the planet.

'Of course no one would claim that the record of the British Empire was unblemished. On the contrary, I have tried to show how often it failed to live up to its own ideal of individual liberty, particularly in the early era of enslavement, transportation and the 'ethnic cleansing' of indigenous peoples. Yet the nineteenth-century Empire undeniably pioneered free trade, free capital movements and, with the abolition of slavery, free labour. It invested immense sums in developing a global network of modern communications. It spread and enforced the rule of law over vast areas. Though it fought many small wars, the Empire maintained a global peace unmatched before or since. In the twentieth century too it more than justified it own existence, for the alternatives to British rule represented by the German and Japanese empires were clearly far worse. And without its Empire, it is inconceivable that Britain could have withstood them.'

 

My discussion of material factors in Irish and Northern Irish history on the page Ireland and Northern Ireland: distortions and illusions is relevant here. See the sections Late 19th century stagnation and poverty and The Great Famine.

 

 

The section on ''The Great Famine' includes this:

 

'Christian Wolmar's 'Blood, Iron and Gold: how the railways transformed the world,' after pointing out one way in which diet was improved by the coming of the railways: 'There were countless other examples of the railways improving not only people's diets but their very ability to obtain food ...

'An isolationist interpretation of the Great Famine will focus attention on the callousness of the English response. A ((survey)) will take account of that but also such a factor as the incalculable benefits of the railway revolution, which began in this country. Christian Wolmar quotes Michael Robbins: 'Until about 1870 ... Britain was the heart and centre of railway activity throughout the world.' Writers on the evils of English colonialism have generally failed to acknowledge these incalculable benefits. Their ((survey)) has been defective.'

 

Simon Hornblower, the historian and commentator on Thucydides, writes in 'Greece: The History of the Classical Period,' the section 'Empire: Athens and the Alternatives,'

 

'That the fifth-century Athenian Empire (despite the protection which it offered to the more uncomfortably placed Greeks against Persia and, we should add, pirates) was, or became, an oppressive instrument should not be disputed. The strongest argument, against desperate efforts to see it as a benevolent and generally popular institution, is to be found in an important inscription of the year 377, which sets out the terms and aims of a second Athenian naval cenfederacy and explicity repudiates for the future a number of fifth-century practices - tribute, territorial encroachments, garrisons, governors, and so forth - which were clearly felt in retrospect to have been abuses.'

 

 

Simon Hornblower's evaluation of the Athenian Empire would benefit from the  counterfactual approach used in 'Alternative History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals.' The strength of Athens, which owed so much to its Empire, enabled it to play a dominant part in repelling the Persian invasions. What if ... an Athens without an empire had been unable to resist the Persian invasions, and the whole of Greece had become part of the Persian Empire.

 

The intellectual and cultural achievements of Athens in the fifth century are amongst the greatest in the intellectual and cultural history of the world. They include the work of Thucydides the historian, the achievements of the dramatists Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and works of architecture which are amongst the most influential in the world. But this very brief list cannot possibly convey the importance of Athenian achievement.

 

Dr Dick Pitt, blogger and debater


Dick Pitt was until recently a lecturer in Mathematics at Sheffield Hallam University. A non-mathematician, I have enormous respect for the abilities of mathematicians such as Dick Pitt, but his non-mathematical ability is a different matter. Those interested in same of the  non-mathematical thought and activities of Dick Pitt are welcome to read his blog, published on the Website of the Sheffield PSC:

www [dot] sheffieldpsc [dot] org [dot] uk/

The Website has a short section

'SPSC bloggers listing
Have a look at all the blog posts here'

but following the link gives very meagre and disappointing results: a few pages of one blogger only, Dick Pitt. There's no reason why the Website shouldn't host many, many pro-Palestinian blogs, but there's seems to be a shortage of informed, interesting comment in the ranks which should concern Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign very much.

 

The blog is mainly dispiriting, without  the least freshness, originality, individuality or depth. Unflinching honesty isn't a strong point.  Anyone who doubts this or denies this is welcome to study it carefully, to read and re-read it - all of it - to emit little gasps of admiration and delight whilst reading and re-reading it, and to share with as many people as possible  its wealth of insights.

 

I think that Dick Pitt is a dim blogger with a dismal blog which is hosted by the dire Website of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign. 'Dim' refers only to his capacity to enlighten in his blog, in his role as a fixture of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign. He's a low-wattage would be enlightener or rather no-wattage would-be enlightener, with all the power of a dead firefly. He's not dim intellectually or academically.

 

A page which is markedly better:  the one on Egypt and the Muslim brotherhood, despite its many defects. The topic called for a much fuller treatment. This is the page's final paragraph in its entirety. It doesn't mark the conclusion to an argument but is simply stranded on the page, an isolated comment which should certainly have been amplified:

 

'I have no doubt that the Arab street is much more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than the officers of the Egyptian army.' 

 

I mention one very important misconception which he has - one of many. I emailed him in connection with the contents of an email he'd sent me. I wrote,

 

'I'm astonished to read your observations on the Qur'an. Most contemporary Christians are non-fundamentalist – they do not believe that the whole of the Bible is the literal word of God. Christianity has undergone intellectual reforms which have transformed the outlook of most believers. You will find, as a matter of strict fact, that liberal Moslems, as well as radical Islamists, generally believe that the whole of the Qur'an is the literal word of God, or Allah. Those who believe otherwise aren’t regarded as Moslems at all.'

Bernard Lewis, a prominent historian of Islam, wrote in 'The Political Language of Islam:'

' "
Fundamentalist" is a Christian term. It seems to have come into use in the early years of last century, and denotes certain Protestant churches and organizations, more particularly those that maintain the literal divine origin and inerrancy of the Bible. In this they oppose the liberal and modernist theologians, who tend to a more critical, historical view of Scripture. Among Muslim theologians there is as yet no such liberal or modernist approach to the Qur'an, and all Muslims, in their attitude to the text of the Qur'an, are in principle at least fundamentalists. Where the so-called Muslim fundamentalists differ from other Muslims and indeed from Christian fundamentalists is in their scholasticism and their legalism. They base themselves not only on the Qur'an, but also on the Traditions of the Prophet, and on the corpus of transmitted theological and legal learning.'

The Qur'an contains some suras which Dick Pitt might like to receive pleasant non-literal interpretations but which Muslims have to take literally. Examples (translation from http://www.quran.com )

 

 4:34

 

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

 

5:33

 

Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.

 

He wrote the piece 'Liberals show their true face' for a page in the Socialist Worker Website. He and his co-writer Angela Shann are described as 'Socialist Alliance prospective city council candidates.' To be a candidate is more often than not to be a long way from political power, or to have not the least hope of political power. But to be a prospective candidate, a possible candidate? This is very, very tentative. It's possible that he's no longer  committed to the Socialist Worker cause.

 

This extract from weeklyworker conveys the futile work of this secular sect. Supporters of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign include members of many other secular sects, often with relations of fraternal hatred. However, Socialist Alliance (English branch) is actually supported by quite a large number of other political organizations, although none of them with any political power. They include the Communist Party of Great Britain, the International Socialist Group, the International Socialist League, Lewisham Independent Socialists, Red Action, the Revolutionary Democratic Group and the Socialist Solidarity Network


'Accordingly, comrade Hoveman suggested that the executive committee produce a composite document based on the 80-20 platform and that this be then circulated to all Socialist Alliances for amendment.

'Comrade Hoveman did, however, concede a major point floated in advance by the CPGB in the Weekly Worker. Each local SA will be allowed to submit both majority and minority amendments, which a conference arrangements committee would then composite.'

 

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is an opponent, with many others. An insight into the pitiful bickerings and hatreds of far-left politics, again, with an influence and  representation in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign which are far from negligible:

 


'So who are the Socialist Alliance? They are an eclectic rag bag of Trotskyists, former Stalinists, various other groupings and assorted individuals. The main organisations involved include: Socialist Workers Party, Militant (now calling itself Socialist Party of England and Wales, or SPEW), Alliance for Workers Liberty, Communist Party of Great Britain, International Socialist Organisation and Workers Power ...

'In any case, it is interesting to learn how such a disparate collection of former enemies could have come together in the first place. It does not seem so long ago that the AWL were accusing the SWP of 'violent thuggery' against some of their own members (see AWL pamphlet Why the SWP Beats Up Its Socialist Critics), and surely the former Stalinists of the CPGB would have balked at the prospect of talking to Trotskyists, let alone organising with them. But whatever particular ism each of these leftist sects subscribe to, they all represent the left-wing of capitalism's political apparatus, and thus are the enemy of the working class.'

 

 

I mention Dick Pitt in this contribution to a Comments section of the site 'Harry's Place,' given next. After that, I write a little more about Dick Pitt before turning to other matters: the freedom which is treated very finely in the section 'Comments Policy' of Harry's Place, and the freedom which is treated sentimentally, inadequately in the outpourings of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The comment I added to the Website began by criticizing a pro-Israeli commenter, 'Tokyo Nambu,' who makes a dim, dismal and dire comment:

 

 

'Tokyo Nambu's comment 'If the Labour Party weren't anti-Semitic scum ... ' is a grossly misguided generalization. Its ignorance is extreme. It ignores the Labour MP's who openly support Israel, many, but not all, members of the group 'Labour Friends of Israel.' It may have far less members than 'Conservative Friends of Israel' (it's a heartening fact that 80% of Conservative MP's belong to this group) but these MP's don't in the least deserve to be included in Tokyo Nambu's lazy-minded dismissal.

 

' think it's likely that supporters of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign are far more active in lobbying MP's than British supporters of Israel. I see it as essential to write to MP's, the ones who denounce Israel and the ones who support Israel - to write to a wide range of people and organizations - to express support for the supporters of Israel and to challenge the views of Israel's opponents.

 

'I recently wrote to a Sheffield Labour MP who used to be the vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, thanking her for her support for Israel, and to Dick Pitt, an academic who's a member of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign (he has an abysmal blog on the Campaign's Website.)

Dick Pitt regularly writes to this MP. He gives her stern advice, such as this: 'If you want to know about oppression 

 

- don't ask the opressor [sic].' The 'opressor' is, of course, as always, Israel. The persistence and stamina of these opponents of Israel are remarkable. They never seem to tire of accusing Israel and denouncing Israel, they never tire of using the same distortions, falsifications and evasions. The catalogue of Israel's alleged crimes is longer, much, much longer, than Leporello's list of Don Giovanni's women. Surely MP's (or many of them) deserve to be paid far more, given that they have to put up with people like this.

 

...

'Harry's place' is an absorbing site. It offers a wealth of interesting articles and comments (not including Tokyo Nambu's comment, of course.) These are part of 'internal' pro-Israeli activity. I hope 

that your contributors who haven't so far engaged in much 'external' pro-Israeli activity, which includes, in Britain, writing to MP's, will consider the advantages of doing so. It could hardly be easier, in one way. A list of email addresses is easy to compile and to use, but I think it's essential not to send emails in a routine way. I'd stress the importance of background knowledge.

 

'Whenever I engage in this 'external' activity, I tend to stress one set of arguments, in my experience more likely to have an effect than any other. The arguments are more likely to undermine the irrational belief that Palestinian society is intrinsically virtuous or vastly superior to Israeli society. I make use of these findings:

 

[I quote the findings of the Pew Research Center on attitudes in Islamic countries, given above in the middle column.]

 

'The many, many Labour MP's who don't support Israel, like other people who don't support Israel, shouldn't automatically be criticized or condemned. Pro-Palestinian propaganda is dominant in this country, as in so many others. To find out about the arguments and evidence for Israel generally requires a real effort, but MP's and the general population have so many other issues of concern to them. It isn't reasonable to expect that they will give priority to the issue of Israel and Palestine. This is after all a 'single issue,'



On 19 November, an academic emailed me. Dick Pitt  of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign had been in touch with her. He would be putting the pro-BDS case at a Sheffield University Debate on 27 November and he asked if she would like to put the anti-BDS case. In her email, she asked if I would like to put the anti-BDS case instead. If so, could I email Dick Pitt? I agreed at once and I emailed Dick Pitt on the same day.

An exchange of emails followed. In one of my emails, I put it to him that it was for  the organizers of the debate to invite speakers, and to choose now an anti-BDS speaker. Who were the organizers? I asked him to send me a contact email address, so I could contact them and give them some information about myself. It seemed most likely that it was Sheffield University Debating Society but there were other organizations which could have an interest in organizing a debate. He said that he'd forwarded my original email to him to the organizers. He didn't supply the organizers' contact address. I asked him again for a contact address but so far, he hasn't replied. I haven't been able to find out anything about this planned event. What's going on here?

Email sent to Dick Pitt, 24 November:
'The debate in which you claim to be speaking is still, it seems, ignored by the Internet. For example, it isn’t listed in the events for November in Sheffield University’s ‘Student news and events.’ You’ve ignored my request for information about the organizers and their email address, so now, I’m drawn some provisional conclusions. On my page [link given to this page] in the section ‘A debate in Sheffield: days of frustration,’ I give an extract from a student newspaper which describes disruption to a debate by pro-Palestinian activists. There’s no information about these activists. They may or may not have had a connection with Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Given that free expression is a fundamental requirement for honest debate, it’s time now for Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign to make a declaration that it promotes debate which is free from disruption. I intend to make these issues a principal focus of my own pro-Israel campaigning for some time.
 
Best Wishes,
 
Paul Hurt'

An article about disruption of a debate at Sheffield University, published in 'Forge today,' part of Sheffield University's 'Forge Media' (November 30, 2012):


http://forgetoday.com/news/uni-debate-heckled-by-pro-palestine-activists/

'A group of hecklers interrupted speakers at the latest debating society event.

 

'Speakers from the University of Sheffield debating society were “incessantly insulted” as they talked on the topic of Israel’s launch of air strikes on Gaza, during its latest military offensive.

 

The debate entitled ‘this house condemns the Israeli air strikes’ took place on Monday November 26 at Coffee Revolution at 7pm.

 

The hecklers aimed their insults at those speaking in opposition calling them “an absolute disgrace” and “liars”.

...

 

'An observer at the event told Forge Press the speeches almost had to be stopped several times because of the constant insults.

...

 

'Adam Hawksbee, from the University of Sheffield debating society, said: “At Sheffield debating, we were incredibly disappointed that certain individuals in the audience decided to heckle and intimidate our speakers due to the content of their speech.

 

' “We’re very aware of how heated and emotional this topic is for many Sheffield students which is why we decided to put the debate on in the first place.

 

' "The temptation in the future for us would be to stay away from this controversial topic to avoid the disrespectful behaviour we witnessed on Monday.

 

' "However, we will ignore that temptation and continue to put these debates on in the hope those who don’t want free and open discussion will just stay at home.” '

 

This defence of free expression (and the reporting) is exemplary.

 

Not exemplary: Dr Abdel Takriti's disruption of  a talk whilst he was a doctoral student at Oxford University. He's now at Sheffield University. See my profile Dr A.Takriti (SU): historian, censor, slogan shouter.

 

Also from 'Forge Today' (25 September 2014).

http://forgetoday.com/news/debating-underdogs-storm-europe-in-university-competition/

 

'Matthew Willmore, 21, and Adam Hawksbee, 22, became the first European debating champions from a Yorkshire institution after defeating Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh universities in the final.


Some pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel people: others

Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield Cathedral

The Dean has been heavily criticized for his role in a blatantly biased conference which was suppposed to shed light “on the Israel/Palestine Conflict and the prospect of peace” but which obviously did nothing of the kind. From the graphic account written by David Collier of the conference 'Holding Palestine in the Light,' held at Lichfield Cathedral.   The full account is at

http://david-collier.com/?p=2328

An extract:

... sitting next to me with her hand raised is Mandy Blumenthal. Zionist to the core, Mandy had asked a question of Yossi Meckleberg earlier in the day.  She had wanted to know why Yossi had seemed to imply settlements, rather than Arab rejectionism and violence was a (the?) major stumbling block. This time, with the knowledge that Mandy was a Zionist, the Chair was visibly ignoring Mandy’s raised hand.The Chair was desperately seeking questions from elsewhere in the audience. The questions had dried up. It was a stand-off. Mandy became vocal:

‘why won’t you let me speak?’

‘Because you spoke earlier’ came the reply.

As an answer it did not suffice. Several people had asked more than one question. The situation was absurd. There were no more questions. Only Mandy’s hand remained aloft. There were still 10 minutes left till the end of this session.

Several people became visibly agitated. A member of the audience asked why the chair was ignoring Mandy’s question. Mandy spoke up again:

“Isn’t this a conference, why is only one side allowed to be heard?”

Open confrontation. This was not what the Dean had wanted, he stepped in to soothe the situation and offered Mandy Blumenthal the microphone. Yet as he did this and as Mandy stepped up, the Chair led Kamel Hawwash off the stage. The ‘Jew’ question need not be answered. An awful, vile slur. In the end, Hawwash did return but only to claim that Blumenthal had lied.

It was break time again. There were several cries of “shame on you”, but I am not sure to who it was directed.  Someone came straight up to Mandy to apologise. ‘This is my town and I am Christian but that was unacceptable’. ‘I do not know why it happened’. Others started to get involved, some suggested they had not expected this conference to be so one sided. This time as I mingled I was approached by a young activist. He identified himself quite quickly as a ‘BDS supporter’, he did not understand why anyone was upset. I wanted to tell him.

My comment, one of the ones published below David Collier's absorbing and disturbing article:

The Church of England is often regarded as naive, blundering, ineffectual – but some naive, blundering, ineffectual people in the Church can cause real damage. Adrian Dorber, the Dean of Lichfield Cathedral, is one of these. (As I make clear later, I regard generalized criticisms of Anglicans as very unjust.)

 The Bishop of Lichfield claims that he couldn’t have stopped the Conference, but it was naive of him – more than that, a serious blunder – not to have realized that a Conference on this topic would be controversial. He ought to have intervened and made sure that the Conference would be fair-minded and balanced but failed to do that. Justin Welby says that ‘He has no direct authority over the Dean,’ but he’s admitting, in effect, that he, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is sometimes unable or unwilling to do anything about the anti-Israel propaganda which is allowed to go unchallenged far too often in the Church of England.

Here in Sheffield, a sermon preached at St Marks Church in 2014 included this:

‘The Revd Dr Stephen Sizer, who has researched and published broadly in this area, concludes ‘that Christian Zionism is the largest, most controversial and most destructive lobby within Christianity. It bears primary responsibility for perpetuating tensions in the Middle East, justifying Israel’s apartheid colonialist agenda and for undermining the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.’ ‘

What? The intractable problems of the Middle East, the atrocities in the Middle East, largely caused by Christian Zionists? The Revd Stephen Sizer is yet another naive and blundering Anglican, but a particularly dangerous one. He gave a link to an article which claimed that Israel was responsible for the 9 / 11 attack on the World Trade Center!

The Bishop of Guildford acted decisively: he made it clear that Stephen Siver was in danger of losing his job, as reported in 'Thhe Church Times' and other places,

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2015/13-february/news/uk/not-anti-semitic-just-stupid-stephen-sizer-ordered-offline-to-save-his-job

The Bishop of Lichfield needs to take strong action too, but there's an obvious difficulty - he failed to act at a time when he should have acted. If he'd acted, he could have prevented this embarrassing and ridiculous but very harmful series of events.

Let’s keep up the pressure on the Church of England and other organizations which far too often distort and falsify, accusing Israel and failing to examine fair-mindedly the multiple failings of Palestinian society. Above, in the section 'Palestinians: harsh realities,' I quote some findings of the Pew Research Center which give disturbing insights into attitudes in the Palestinian territories.

I posted a comment on David Collier's site and quickly received a reply from Ian G. His reply can be viewed by using the link above. This was my reply to Ian G. It gives further information about these matters.

Thanks so much for your comment, Ian G. I do take issue with some of your claims. Stephen Sizer wasn’t made to resign. It was made clear that he would have to go if he continued to engage in anti-Israel campaigning, as the Bishop of Guildford made clear to me in an email. Stephen Sizer is still at Christ Church, Virginia Water, Surrey. It’s not true that he resigned, and it’s not true that the current Bishop of Lichfield has only been in post for ‘a matter of weeks.’ According to the information I have, he became Bishop on 10 June, 2016. He’s been Bishop for about four months, then. He had ample time to examine very carefully the list of speakers at the Conference and to make representations. At that time, the case of Stephen Sizer was very well known . He should have realized that this conference could cause enormous difficulties for the Church, as it has done. I don’t accept that his power to influence events was so limited or that the Dean had almost unlimited power to do as he wished. Do you claim that if, next month, an event was planned in some diocese which included Stephen Sizer or even a holocaust denier, that the Bishop would be powerless to act? I accept that the Bishop of Lichfield and the Archbishop of Canterbury have spoken out against anti-semitism, but they haven’t so far been nearly as decisive in action as they could have been, given the importance of the issue. You write, ‘The conference was organised at a time when everybody else was very busy doing other things.’ I doubt very much that many of the things that preoccupied them were nearly as important as this. The neglect has had very damaging effects on the reputation of the Church. They should have given up some of their time – a great deal of time – to this very, very important matter. If they were aware of the case of Stephen Sizer, and it would be a grotesque oversight if they weren’t, then they should have regarded this conference as one of their priorities.

Bishops, like so many other people, have their specialities. Michael Ipgrave, the Bishop of Lichfield, has a great interest in the relations between Christians and other religious groups. You'd think, then, that he'd take a very close interest in this conference, where the relations between Christians, Jews and Moslems play an important role.  He was appointed Diocesan Chaplain for relations with people of other faiths in 1992. Later, he became Inter-faith Relations Advisor to the Archbishops' Council and Secretary of the Anglican Church's Commission on Inter-faith Relations. In the 2011 New Year Honours List, he was appointed an OBE 'for services to inter-faith relations in London.' And, he's the author of a book on inter-faith dialogue and has contributed to other publications on inter-faith matters. He was Bishop of Woolwich before he became Bishop of Lichfield.

Despite all this experience, general and specific, he failed comprehensively in this instance. He failed to do what was within his power, he failed to ensure that there was some degree of fairness in this disastrous conference.

President Harry S. Truman had a sign 'The buck stops here' on his desk. Recommended: that the Bishop of Lichfield has the same sign on his desk to remind himself of his responsibility.

It would be a bad mistake to generalize - to suppose that all Anglicans are naive, blundering, ineffectual. My page on Religions and ideologies contains this:

'
'There are still old-fashioned atheists who regard Christianity as the most harmful  force in the world today, ignoring the need for  {modification} of attitude.  In the twentieth century, fascism and Stalinism and other forms of communism completely eclipsed Christianity as a threat to body and mind. There are still old-fashioned atheists who overlook the many, many impressive Christians and followers of other religions. Their assumption that non-religious people must always be superior to religious people could be called childish, but I use the word 'unformed.'

There are and have been many, many outstanding Anglicans, the Bishop of Lichfield amongst them. His failure to act effectively in this particular instance - as I see it - isn't evidence of wider failings on his part.

My view of human imperfection is very different from the Christian one. I don't accept the Christian view of sin but I do accept the reality of human imperfection. (My view is very, very different from most others. (See my page {restriction}). I think that the Christian view takes far more account of realities than some non-Christian, atheistic views - and not just the ones which are utopian. The Christian view that a person can  put aside faults, including very serious faults, can go beyond them, can evolve, in moral terms, deserves to be treated very seriously. We must often criticize and condemn, but compassion is one of the most important of all virtues - and not, of course, a purely Christian one.

Professor Kamel Hawwash didn't like David Collier's account one bit.

Compare and contrast the cool, supposedly 'objective' tone of this

'Reflections of a diaspora Palestinian   Professor Kamel Hawwash'

and this, the Professor's mini profile

'Professor Kamel Hawwash: a British/Palestinian and a long standing campaigner for justice for Palestinians'

both to be found on Lichfield Cathedral's Website page on the recent conference on Israeli-Palestinian issues

http://www.lichfield-cathedral.org/news/news/post/123-conference-holding-palestine-in-the-light

- and the article written by Kamel Hawwash which has this headline

Lichfield Cathedral stands strong in the face of bullying by the pro-Israel lobby

and which refuses to consider any possibility of reasoned dissent, dissent based on arguments and evidence, and was published in that well-known purveyor of  ideological claptrap the 'Middle East Monitor'

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161015-lichfield-cathedral-stands-strong-in-the-face-of-bullying-by-the-pro-israel-lobby/

and also published on the evasive Website of Professor Kamel Hawwash

https://kamelhawwash.com/

who has every reason to be taken seriously as an academic civil engineer but has no reason to be taken seriously as a commenter on such issues as the politics and military conflicts of this particular area of the Middle East and the ethical issues which arise from them.

Lichfield Cathedral too has abandoned the basic principles of fair-mindedness and has become a purveyor of ideological claptrap, at least in this hideous fall from grace.

MP's: Paul Blomfield, Louise Haigh, Clive Betts and other South Yorkshire members of 'Labour Friends of Palestine ... '

A letter I wrote to the Sheffield newspaper 'The Star' and published October 15, 2016:


I lived in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. A short time before I left Northern Ireland and returned to Sheffield, I heard a  massive car bomb explode which had been planted by the IRA. It killed six civilians and left others maimed for life. (I believe the engine of the car landed in the barber's where I had my hair cut.)

A significant number of Irish nationalists seem to believe that 'Nobody has suffered like the Irish and the worst exploiters are the British.' A significant number of Palestinian supporters seem to believe that 'Nobody has suffered like the Palestinians and the worst exploiters - or the only exploiters - are the Israelis.' (I don't claim that the Labour MP's I mention here believe this.)

The organization 'Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East' has  a Website.  A few days ago, I consulted the site. I found one obvious mistake very quickly, not a trivial one. The MP's who are listed as supporters include Jeremy Corbyn and the Shadow Ministers Diane Abbott and John
McDonnell as well as some South Yorkshire MP's:  Clive Betts (Sheffield Attercliffe), Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central), Sarah Champion (Rotherham), Louise Haigh (Sheffield Heeley) and Rosie Winterton (Doncaster
Central.) Also listed as a current supporter is Harry Harpham (Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough). [Harry Harpham MP died in February of this year but none of the MP's and none of the people responsible for the site seem to have noticed his inclusion in the list. This material in brackets was missed out when the letter was printed.]

But the organization's distortions and evasions and selective use of evidence and misuse of evidence are often much more serious than this simple incompetence.  For example, 'Labour Friends of Palestine' claims that Israel has sentenced prisoners 'without a proper trail, which includes the right to present evidence, call witnesses and be represented by a lawyer who can visit them freely' but the safeguards of the Israeli legal system are vastly greater and more effective than those in Gaza. On 22 August 2014, 18
suspected collaborators were executed by Palestinian firing squad in different parts of the Gaza strip, without representation by a lawyer, without a proper trial or any trial at all. In the legal system of Gaza, homosexuality is a criminal offence, punishable with imprisonment for up to
ten years. A mother may be imprisoned for having a baby when unmarried. I've already written to some of these South Yorkshire MP's giving much fuller evidence and arguments than can be given here, including material relating to armed conflict and ethical issues during armed conflict. I'll contact the others soon.

Greta Berlin and Charlie Hebdo

Greta Berlin, described as 'one of the key campaigners for the Free Gaza Movement,' has made the psychotic claim  that Israelis, not Islamist terrorists, carried out  the killings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and that the Israelis carried out the attack to cause division between France (which had voted for recognition of a Palestinian state) and the Palestinians:

'MOSSAD just hit the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in a clumsy false flag designed to damage the accord between Palestine and France ... Here's hoping the French police will be able to tell a well executed hit by a well trained Israeli intelligence service and not assume the Moslems would be likely to attack France when France is their friend ... Israel did tell France there would be grave consequences if they voted with Palestine. A four year old could see who is responsible for this terrible attack.'

Amedy Coulibaly, who killed the hostages at the kosher grocery shop in Paris, made no allowances for France's support for the Palestinians. He claimed that he was defending 'oppressed Muslims' in Palestine, according to a telephone interview with him conducted by a TV channel.

mondoweiss.net is an anti-Israel-pro-Palestinian site but it draws the line at approval of Greta Berlin

http://mondoweiss.net/2012/10/if-only-it-was-just-one-tweet-one-activists-experience-in-the-our-land-facebook-group

The information it provides is very disturbing, including another psychotic claim: that Jews played a leading part in promoting the Holocaust:  according to Greta Berlin, the Holocaust 'was aided, abetted and to a large degree - created by them [the Zionists].'

There's an urgent need for people and organizations who have endorsed Greta Berlin to state publicly that they don't endorse her any longer. A photograph of Musheir El-Farra, the Chair of a branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and  one of the 'leaders of Gaza civil society' who signed the 'important statement' encouraging Hamas not to observe a cease-fire (except under impossible conditions) shows him with Greta Berlin: 

http://www.sheffieldpsc.org.uk/content/greta-berlin

On the page, she is  described as 'one of the key campaigners for the Free Gaza Movement.

Greta Berlin's stepdaughter (quoted on the site www.danielpipes.org):

'On numerous occasions I heard Greta launch the insults "the god damned Israelis and those f****** Jews" at the dinner table in front of my father (a Jew) and the few Israeli friends and relatives who ventured to visit. Additionally, any rational debate attempted by anyone with an opposing view to Greta's, was immediately terminated with the responses: "Shut up" or "You don't know what the hell you're talking about." '

For more on the 'Important statement' of 'leaders of Gaza civil society' see, on this page Bombardment: killing and the prevention of killing

The Russian analyst Alexei Martyonov offers an alternative view. He has claimed (on the mainstream news channel 'LifeNews') that US intelligence was responsible for the Charlie Hebdo killings, for various reasons, one of them being to exert pressure on the French President to maintain economic sanctions against Russia, and to prevent European countries from becoming allies of Russia and maintain their dependence on the US.

A confused dreamer

 

After making a public stand in defence of Israel at a large demonstration organized by Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the city centre, I talked to some of the folk gathered there and heard one or two pieces of folk-lore.

 

I had a constructive talk with one individual, to begin with. I mentioned the Yazidis stranded on Mount Sinjar, in acute danger from ruthless ISIS militants, and mentioned with approval that there would be bombing to relieve the danger ... he agreed with me ... but his mood abruptly changed when I mentioned that it would be the Americans doing the bombing. No! Not at all!

 

Useless to mention that to a Yazidi in imminent danger of death, bombing of ISIS militants nearby by Americans would be an absolute, unqualified good, that no other air force was nearby and able to do the bombing, that there was absolutely no prospect that the bombing could be carried out by an air force which the man approved of, such as the Cuban air force. This was a shocking insight into the mind of someone living, politically and militarily, at least, in a dream world.

 

If ISIS continues to make territorial gains, it's not impropbable that ISIS (or another ultra-militant force) will be able to threaten the Palestinian territories. The territories are militarily very weak and will inevitably fall, unless aided by outside forces. In their extreme need, the Palestinian territories may be very, very glad to accept the help of the Americans, and the Israelis, who would oppose with all their might territories on their borders controlled by ISIS.

 

People can suit themselves. They can accept realities or refuse to accept realities. In the past, Palestinians have chosen to refuse to accept realities again and again. But in this scenario, they might even choose to accept the reality of American or Israeli help.

 

There are many, many people in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign who resemble this dreamer. They are the people who detest Israel but who also detest America, and detest Britain too, but with no strong feelings about, say, the Iranian regime, unless they are strong feelings of approval.

 

On my page Ethics: theory and practice I discuss the concept of outweighing which illuminates moral dilemmas in ethics, other ethical issues and many non-ethical issues. I use the symbol > for outweighing.

 

In the Second World War, an alliance with Stalinist Russia could have been rejected by Britain. The Stalinist regim was, after all, one which had terrorized, packed off to labour camps and killed huge numbers of Russians and other nationalities, such as the Ukrainians who were starved to death. But to reject Russian help would lead to certain defeat by Germany and the invasion and occupation of Britain, with forced labour, executions and other harsh penalties. This was a clear-cut case of outweighing. The moral objections to Stalinist Russia were outweighed by the overwhelming importance of national self-preservation and the avoidance of defeat and occupation. Symbolically:

 

[national self-preservation] > [moral objections to Stalinist Russia]

 

On the same page, I explain my concept of conjugates, which amongst other things accompany - are linked with - the single issues of single issue campaigners. These campaigners often support and oppose very strongly a range of other issues. What we get is not a single issue in isolation but a packet of issues. So, vegans oppose cruelty to farm animals and have adopted a diet which cuts out all animal products (with the possible exception of honey) but their conjugates are many: vegans are almost always pacifists, for example, or at least tend to have no interest at all in such matters as defence.

 

The conjugates of pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel activists very often include pacifism and a complete lack of interest in defence too, hostility to British and American policies and hostility to capitalism, often accompanied by a belief in small-scale economic organization which could never meet the demands of an unavoidably complex world.

 

Not many things seem to disturb their dream world (except for the nightmarish Zionist threat and the British and American threat) but their complacency is probably being undermined little by little by realities. If ISIS ever did try to invade the Palestinian territories. there might well be extreme disillusionment, similar to the disillusionment which took hold of so many communists after the Russian invasion of Hungary in 1956. Caroline Hoefferle, 'British Student Activism in the Long Sixties:'

 

' ... thousands left the Communist Party that year and the British Left was fractured into dozens of tiny Marxist sects, competing for membership and struggling to create a new vision of socialism.'

 

The dozens of tiny far left sects are still in evidence, and the  Palestine Solidarity Campaign includes many joint members, people who members of the Solidarity Campaign and members of one or another far left sect.

The Quaker Gordon Ferguson: not totally harmless


Perhaps it would be an exaggeration to describe the Quaker Gordon Ferguson  as deranged - or perhaps not. His naivety, his complete, uncritical acceptance of the Palestinian narrative is overwhelmingly stupid.

He writes, in connection with 'World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel: 21 - 27 Sept.
 

'This year’s theme is prisoners. Resources and activities prepared for the week will focus on the plight of Palestinians imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces ...

Everyone is invited to:

1write an open letter to the Palestinian people, offering your prayers and support for prisoners and their families. Rather than offering a template, you are asked to write a short message (around 200 words) from your own heart, expressing your solidarity with those in prison. Feel free to write the messages and/or prayers in your own language! If you can, please email your short message by 15 September to Yusef Daher, executive director of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre, atyusefdaher@yahoo.com. Yusef will collect all messages, and then prepare them for circulation among the Palestinian people.'

 

' ... prepare them for circulation among the Palestinian people' is a grandiose way of putting it. 'The Palestinian People' has become a very prestigious phrase for far too many people. As a matter of strict fact, the Palestinian people is made up in varying proportions of armed and unarmed psychopaths, very good and not so good people,  people well above average in insight, average and well below average in insight, and many other groups and sub-groups, although not so many Quakers. Those imprisoned by the Israelis are disproportionately once armed psychopaths, including failed suicide bombers.

 

Asking people to write 'in your own language' is the advice of a clueless person, one who doesn't think things through. I can't think of any initiative less likely to end the danger of hostilities in Gaza or the Middle East as a whole than the prayers and messages of these Quakers in Urdu or Somali or Bengali as well as English as a gift to Arabic speaking Palestinians.

 

A  Palestinian's view of Gordon Ferguson may be very different from what he imagines. This brings me to an issue which is not widely discussed. The majority of Palestinians - the vast majority of Palestinians, surely - believe that hell awaits the Quaker Gordon Ferguson, and for that matter all the people who call for boycotts of Israel and 'freedom' for Palestine, if these people happen not to be Moslem. This view of the future prospects for Quakers may not have occurred to many Quakers because Quakerism lacks a doctrine of eternal damnation.

 

The dire reality of rocket attack from Gaza is obviously far from the thoughts of this far from harmless individual. Anyone who, like Gordon Ferguson, believes in the power of prayer could try praying for Gordon Ferguson.

 

 

 

 

Antony Loewenstein and accuracy

 

 

 

 

Above: Tzipi Livni

 

From the Daily Telegraph Tim Blair blog, LEARN FROM THE MASTER

 


'Antony Loewenstein, a “long-term Middle East watcher and participant” who is writing a book on Israel and Palestine, reveals the vast extent of his specialist knowledge: 

 

'     Yet more evidence of Israel speaking the language of ‘peace’ but acting entirely differently came from a senior ally of Sharon, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. He told a legal conference in early December that, despite years of Israeli denials, Sharon himself imagines the 425-mile separation barrier as the future border between Israel and a potential Palestinian State.'    

 

As Tim Blair points out, Tzipi Livni is a woman.

 

Antony Loewenstein is an Australian. I'm a Yorkshireman. Australians and Yorkshire folk are supposedly no-nonsense, blunt-talking types who have no patience with obvious garbage. The Scots too. In my experience, pro-Palestinian anti-Israeli Australians, Scots and Yorkshire folk don't conform in the least to this stereotype. They're receptive to outlandish ideas and regurgitate outlandish ideas. To me, the claim that it's Israel, not Isis or Iran, which is by far the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East is an outlandish, a freakish idea. The claim that Palestinian society, in contrast to Israeli society, is a model society for humane, progressive people, likewise. 

 

 

Vittorio Arrigoni and Kayla Mueller, hostages

 

 

Vittorio Arrigoni, a pro-Palestinian activist, was abducted in Gaza and strangled, badly beaten, soon after abduction. Two Palestinians were sentenced to life imprisonment for his murder (the death sentence is often imposed for murder in Gaza) but the sentence was reduced to only fifteen years on appeal.

 

From www.frontpagemag.com/

 

'Arrigoni was sent to Gaza to assist the Islamist terrorists by the pro-terror International Solidarity Movement or ISM, the same group that once sent Rachel Corrie into Gaza to collaborate with terrorists and obstruct Israeli anti-terror operations ...

'So just why did the Islamists murder Arrigoni?  The answer is simple: These fanatics believe that everyone who is not a Muslim, and especially not a Muslim of their own particular fundamentalist genre, is an infidel, an enemy, someone deserving death.  It does not matter in the least that the infidel in question has come to Gaza to assist the terrorists.  In the case of Arrigoni, it did not even matter that he had tattoos on his body endorsing their terrorism.  The “bewilderment” being expressed by the ISM and its amen chorus, along with Arrigoni’s Stalinist Italian groupies, is simply further indicative of how little these people know about the Middle East.'

Islamists' murder of a 'peace activist,' someone completely committed to the Palestinian cause and completely opposed to Israel, was met with revulsion and incomprehension. The revulsion is not just understandable but thoroughly deserved. The incomprehension shows how little many people know about radical Islamism. The same response was made in the case of a victim vastly more deserving of respect, Alan Henning, the aid worker to Syria beheaded by Isis. When his aid convoy was held up by ISIS, all the Moslem members of the convoy were released. Alan Henning was made captive. To his captors, all non-Moslems are contemptible, worthy of death - and this includes all the non-Moslem people who work tirelessly for the Palestinian cause, such as Vittorio Arrigoni. The word used by Islamists for non-believers is 'kuffar.'

Kayla Mueller was the 'aid worker' who may have have been killed in a Jordanian air strike but was more likely killed by the ISIS group which held her captive after she was abducted  in Syria. Her courage can be admired - the courage needed to enter Syria, at least -  but not her  ideological idealism. She gave uncritical support to Palestinian rioters, had a liking for the rhetoric of rioting but, like Vittorio Arrigoni, was  no more than a 'kuffar,' one of the despised unbelievers, to  the repulsive people holding her captive. This is a sample of her writing. She views minarets as agents of liberation and resistance:

'Oppression greets us from all angles. Oppression wails from the soldiers radio and floats through tear gas clouds in the air. Oppression explodes with every sound bomb and sinks deeper into the heart of the mother who has lost her son. But resistance is nestled in the cracks in the wall, resistance flows from the minaret 5 times a day and resistance sits quietly in jail knowing its time will come again.'

She has no conception of realities. Included in the resistance which 'sits quietly in jail' are the terrorists who have slaughtered Jews and are given payment by the Palestinian authority for doing that.

Tom Gross writes about some of the victims of Palestinian terrorism. The category of Palestinian terrorism went unacknowledged by Kayla Mueller. It was missing from her world view. He mentions the 'Rachels.'

'Rachel Thaler, aged 16, was blown up at a pizzeria in an Israeli shopping mall. She died after an 11-day struggle for life following a suicide bomb attack on a crowd of teenagers ... Rachel Levy (aged 17, blown up in a grocery store), Rachel Levi (19, shot while waiting for the bus), Rachel Gavish (killed with her husband, son and father while at home celebrating a Passover meal), Rachel Charhi (blown up while sitting in a Tel Aviv cafe, leaving three young children), Rachel Shabo (murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 16 while at home), Rachel Ben Abu (16, blown up outside the entrance of a Netanya shopping mall) and Rachel Kol, 53, who worked at a Jerusalem hospital and was killed with her husband in a Palestinian terrorist attack in July a few days after the London bombs.'

 Edwin Black, writing in 'The Guardian:'

'On both sides of the pond, in London and Washington, policymakers are struggling to weather their budget crises. Therefore, it may astound American and British taxpayers that the precious dollars and pounds they deploy in  Israel and the Occupied Territories funds terrorism.

'The instrument of this funding is US and UK programs of aid paid to the Palestinian Authority. This astonishing financial dynamic is known to most Israeli leaders and western journalists in Israel. But it is still a shock to most in Congress and many in Britain's Parliament, who are unaware that money going to the Palestinian Authority is regularly diverted to a program that systematically rewards convicted prisoners with generous salaries.  These transactions in fact violate American and British laws that prohibit US funding from benefiting terrorists. More than that, they could be seen as incentivizing murder and terror against innocent civilians.

'Here's how the system works. When a Palestinian is convicted of an act of terror against the Israeli government or innocent civilians, such as a bombing or a murder, that convicted terrorist automatically receives a generous salary from the Palestinian Authority. The salary is specified by the Palestinian "law of the prisoner" and administered by the PA's Ministry of Prisoner Affairs. A Palestinian watchdog group, the Prisoners Club, ensures the PA's compliance with the law and pushes for payments as a prioritized expenditure. This means that even during frequent budget shortfalls and financial crisis, the PA pays the prisoners' salaries   first and foremost – before other fiscal obligations.'

Ethical Consumer Magazine

This space reserved for criticism of 'Ethical Consumer Magazine,' which supports boycotts of Israel - and for the magazine's response (if the people there can come up with one.) Recommended - a reading of this page, which gives a comprehensive introduction to the arguments and evidence against boycotts. In its policy on boycotting Israel, the magzine is ideological, not in the least ethical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links

 

Sussex Friends of Israel

A site of not just national but international importance, despite its name.

http://www.sussexfriendsofisrael.org/

No taxes for terror

Palestinian financial support for terrorism examined thoroughly.

http://www.notaxesforterror.com/

Just War Theory

 

Mark Rigstad's excellent site is about much more than just war theory: a very large and very comprehensive site, which includes a bibliography and reviews of books as well as articles. The entries include ones on  terrorism and counter-terrorism.

http://www.justwartheory.com/

Stand for Peace

Their Website includes material on topics which include counter-terrorism and counter-extremism. An excellent section on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign:

 

http://standforpeace.org.uk/palestine-solidarity-campaign-2/

 

the Algemeiner

 

www.algemeiner.com

 

An accomplished, important site

 

Fathom Journal

 

www.fathomjournal.org

 

Mainly Israeli contributors, but including such British writers as Alan Johnson and David Hirsh, and the American Michael Walzer. A fairly new and very impressive journal.

Mark Steyn's site

http://www.steynonline.com/

Elder of Ziyon

 

Quirky name, solid content.

 

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.uk/

Left Foot Forward

 

This page, Different perspectives on Gaza: Arab Commentators and Labour MPs' by Alan Johnson makes very telling use of quotations by some Arab commentators (critical of Hamas) and Labour MPs (critical of Israel.)

 

http://leftfootforward.org/2014/07/different-perspectives-on-gaza-arab-commentators-and-labour-mps/

 

Gatestone Institute

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org


Articles that will enlarge anyone's understanding of the issues, such as this, 'Austria: springboard for global jihad.'

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4651/austria-jihad

Tablet Magazine

http://www.tabletmag.com

Read, for example, Lee Smith, writing on ] reasonableness and delusion in the Middle East.

Camera

C
ommittee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America

http://www.camera.org/

Covers the distortions of the 'New York Times' and other American outlets.

 

Honest Reporting

 

www.honestreporting.com

 

A very informative site but also one which gives good advice on practical action.

Harry's Place

http://hurryupharry.org/

Concerned with a great variety of issues, but the issue of Israel and the Palestinians is very prominent.

 

Palestinian Media Watch

 

www.palwatch.org

 

Indispensable guide to a befuddled and deluded mindset.

 

Sharia Watch

 

www.shariawatch.org.uk

 

'Learning Jihad - Full Report' contains disturbing - terrifying - quotations from Islamist speakers.

 

http://www.shariawatch.org.uk/articles/learning-jihad-full-report#.VIaS-jGsVPM

Daniel Pipes

 

www.danielpipes.org

 

A Liberal Defence of Israel

 

 

http://mid-eastplus.blogspot.co.uk/

The heartening blog of the academic Denis MacEown.

 

 

Is the BBC biased?

http://isthebbcbiased.blogspot.co.uk/

A site which is  extensive in its coverage, but the BBC's bias against Israel is well documented here.

 

CiF Watch

http://cifwatch.com

BBC Watch

http://bbcwatch.org/

Excellent. Meticulous, thorough reports. Exclusively concerned with Israel, as the subtitle of the site makes clear: 'Monitoring BBC coverage of Israel for accuracy and impartiality.'

 

Hamas: the facts, the numbers

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dniYsb-Uzk

An informative film about Hamas


 

Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC)

 

www [dot] sheffieldpsc [dot] org [dot] uk/

 

Even the SPSC's Website's coverage of events is inadequate - the site isn't updated often enough, so that a long time after some events have taken place, they're described as taking place at a future date. The Website's discussion of issues, arguments and the evidence, for or against the Palestinian cause, is very poor. This page is  one of a very large number on the site and there are very many other issues which concern me, but I can claim that it's much more comprehensive in its treatment than the SPSC site - from, of course,  a vastly different viewpoint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Palestinians: harsh realities

Hamas is a radical Islamist organization but a large section of Palestinian society has radical Islamist views. Percentages below are from the Pew Research Center's extensive surveys of attitudes in Islamic countries.

66% of people in the Palestinian territories believe in execution for those who leave Islam.

Stoning to death for adultery may not be practised in the Palestinian territories but 84% of Palestinians support the punishment. 

Homosexuality is legal in Israel but illegal in Gaza and punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years. 89% of people in the Palestinian territories believe that ‘homosexuality is morally wrong.'

Honour killings have increased dramatically in the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian Minister of Women's Affairs, Rabiha Diab, blamed Israel for the increase in honour killings. Claims to victimhood will do nothing to solve the problem.

The conviction that a woman must always obey her husband is widely held, with 87% support in the Palestinian territories.

There are no Pew Research Center results for the issue of wife-beating. A September 2002 poll of the 'Palestinian Center for Public Opinion' found that 59.9% of Palestinians 'believe that a man has the right to beat up his wife if she underestimates his manhood.'  

Palestinian sanctions against women who have children out of wedlock can be severe. A Palestinian woman was sentenced to six years imprisonment for having an illegitimate child, whose formative years have now been spent in prison.

Support in Gaza for suicide bombings has declined but 62% of people in Gaza still believe that suicide bombings are often justified or sometimes justified to protect Islam. This is the highest level of support in the Islamic world.

The death penalty in the Palestinian territories may be imposed after a very brief trial, lasting only a day, or no trial at all, as in the case of some of the people executed by Hamas for alleged 'collaboration with Israel.' Israel has used the death penalty only once in its modern history - the execution of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann. 

There is widespread Palestinian support for such cruel punishments as amputation of the hand.
76% of people in the Palestinian territories support these punishments.

(The statistics relate to opinions at the time of the survey, conducted in 2013.)

A vigorous and free press - vigorous and free media - is essential. Anyone who claims that the Palestinian media are just as free as the Israeli media, just as free to comment and criticize, anyone who claims that freedom of opinion is just as much allowed in Palestine as in Israel, is surely living an illusion. The Palestinian authorities should end their restrictive attitude to matters of free expression, but aren't in the least likely to.

Hamas has yet to disavow the embarrassing and dangerous Hamas Charter (also known as the Hamas Covenant).

Hamas and very many Palestinians have  refused again and again to recognize harsh realities, such as this one - attacking Israel with rockets or other weapons will be followed by retaliation, just as attacks upon Britain during the Second World War were followed by retaliation. Casualties in Gaza during the recent conflict -  and material damage - would have been very light if only this principle had been followed: stop firing rockets, stop breaking ceasefires.

Gaza has been  confident that whenever it went to war, the international community would pay for reconstruction but now, donor countries are less ready to contribute. Meanwhile, building materials intended to be used for reconstruction are diverted to the construction of more tunnels for terrorist action and the Palestinian Authority continues to give financial support to people convicted of terrorist action by the Israelis - the worst terrorists receive a salary which is ten times the average Palestinian wage.

There are many extenuating circumstances in the case of Israeli use of force, such as the issuing of warnings before attack in innumerable instances. There are no extenuating circumstances which could possibly excuse Hamas' indiscriminate use of rockets against Israel.

Anti-Israel action, including BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) action, would almost certainly have these results, if successful: the replacement of Israel by a state with vastly less enlightened policies in such areas as the ones mentioned above, a state which would be militarily very weak - unable to prevent invasion by ISIS or other forces which are completely ruthless - and the  slaughter of Jews on a massive scale. Israeli power prevents the incursion of forces into the Palestinian territories which are vastly less enlightened than the Israeli state, just as British power prevented the invasion of the Irish Republic by the Nazis during the Second World War. Irish nationalist ideology ('nobody has suffered like the Irish and there are no oppressors as bad as the British') and Palestinian ideology ('nobody has suffered likethe Palestinians and there are no oppressors as bad as the Israelis') have significant linkages.

The evidence is that the conditions needed for the establishment of a successful democratic Palestinian state, such as a concern for freedom of speech, are largely lacking. If the external enemy, Israel, were ever to  disappear and a Palestinian state became a reality, then it's likely that there would be internal conflict and power struggles within the Palestinian state, most likely pursued by violent means, such as suicide bombing, rather than peaceful decision-making after free debate. A Palestinian state  under authoritarian rule would still be weak and vulnerable, at risk of invasion by a much stronger state or organization. Anti-Israel activists  ignore political and military realities in the region.

 


 

 

Democracies and warfare: harsh realities

Nazi Germany deserved to lose the Second World War, not Great Britain. The moral superiority of Great Britain, the evil of Nazi Germany, are not erased by the fact that British bombers killed these schoolchildren in Cologne, killed a total of 593 000 German civilians, according to some estimates, and converted vast areas of German towns and cities to rubble. W G Sebald, 'On the Natural History of Destruction:' ' ... at the end of the war 7.5 million people were left homeless, and there were 31.1 cubic metres of rubble for everyone in Cologne and 42.8 cubic metres for every inhabitant of Dresden.'

The democracies which are the focus of attention in this section are Israel, Britain and the US.


It's a gross misconception to believe that Israel cannot possibly be a liberal, humane state in view of its  attacks on Gaza by bombing from the air and other means. It's a gross misconception to believe that totalitarian states, such as the Nazi state, may kill many civilians and destroy many civilian homes, but that democratic states, such as Britain, the United States and Israel, can be expected always to fight wars without doing the same, killing many civilians and destroying many civilian homes.

It's a gross misconception to equate Israelis with Nazis, just as it's a gross misconception to equate the British and the Americans with the Nazis, or to claim that the British and Americans were no better than the Japanese at the time of the Second World War.

When a democracy is fighting for survival, in the midst of extreme danger, then the measured response which is approved by armchair critics is an ideal not always attained - impossible of attainment.

To overcome fanatical opposition, the armed forces of a democratic state often have no alternative but to use extreme force. To use slight force would be to guarantee defeat.

All the same, the armed forces of democracies have often used force which was excessive and cannot claim to have never broken the rules of war.         

Excesses, mistakes, blunders are often pounced on and taken as evidence that the forces of a democracy responsible for excesses, mistakes and blunders - generally committed under conditions of acute danger and danger which is not short-lived but which has tested the courage and stamina of the democratic forces in extreme ways - are just the same or almost as bad as their opponents. I find it essential to use the concept of 'outweighing,' which I explain on the page Ethics: theory and practice. The excesses, mistakes and blunders are considered as part of an overall ((survey)). They are outweighed by other considerations.


Britain's nuclear deterrent has cost not a single civilian (or military) life, but most deterrents in war aren't nearly so free of harm. A deterrent has to involve pain or loss, or possible pain and loss. When deterrents involve no pain or loss, they cease to be deterrents, or effective deterrents. (The British justice system sometimes fails to understand this simple point.)

A deterrent in war may involve many civilian casualties. It would be difficult to establish that Israeli actions amounted to war crimes, and even if some of them were war crimes, it would no more undermine Israeli superiority than the 'war crimes' of Britain during the Second World War undermined British moral superiority. The Palestinian use of rockets against civilians is without any doubt at all a war crime. In general, it would be very difficult to criticize the actions of The Israeli Defence Force without knowledge which it's impossible to acquire now. For example, a Hamas sniper is shooting at Israeli soldiers. In a built-up environment, the sniper is very difficult to remove. Israeli soldiers can't possibly be expected to expose themselves to continued fire and put their lives at great risk by trying and persisting with very 'conservative,' methods, methods which cause no harm to anyone else and no damage or very little damage to anything. At all times, the terrible risk of being captured by Hamas will be obvious to them - the risk of being held captive for years and years or being killed. (Operations of war where there it's certain that being captured by the enemy will be followed by death or mistreatment, not by prisoner-of-war status in accordance with accepted international legislation generally give rise to particularly intense revulsion against the enemy forces.) The longer the IDF forces have to operate here, the greater the dangers. Who can blame them for calling on the firepower which will remove the danger from the sniper reliably, even if it entails the destruction of the building where the sniper is based, or harm to civilians sheltering in the same building?

The gulf between a liberal democracy and a totalitarian state is most apparent not in what happens on the battlefield but the actions which take place away from the battlefield, such actions as  mass executions of civilians.

The combat operations of totalitarian states and of liberal democracies have many similarities, just as their weapons tend to be similar, including the use of flame-throwers. (This is not to overlook the differences, such as the use of penal battalions by the Soviet army, which were forced to undertake very dangerous or suicidal operations, and, of course, the use of suicide pilots by the Japanese.

The images of civilian casualties above are no evidence at all for the slogan, 'One picture is worth a thousand words.' Rather, 'one picture may need a thousand words of explanation.' The image of a sombre and dignified woman and a pile of bodies does nothing at all to establish the barbarity of British airmen and the barbarity of the British cause during the Second World War. Images are often a refuge for superficial people too lazy to do the work of acquiring the deep and comprehensive understanding necessary for an adequate  ((survey)).

The reports shown on BBC television and Channel 4 news in this country - to mention no others - on Israeli action during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza were  inadequate and very  often actively misleading. The use of graphic film footage was unaccompanied by adequate analysis. Adequate analysis would not have been hard-hearted but a necessity for fairness. Some of the sites mentioned in the Links section are concerned with the bias of the BBC and have explored the bias very thoroughly. An example is the site BBC Watch, which made these comments on the BBC's failure to inform and to do far more than transmit graphic images without adequate discussion. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign's complaints that the BBC has shown pro-Israeli anti-Palestinian bias is the opposite of the truth.


'In a very interesting article in The Tower the writer ...
David Daoud, explains “Everything You Need to Know about International Law and the Gaza War” and it is well worth the long read. Another recent interesting article on a similar topic is titled “The Ethics of Protective Edge” and it was written by Professor Asa Kasher.

[These two articles would enlighten members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and similarly minded people, but their RESISTANCE! entails resistance to evidence and arguments.]

'Throughout the seven weeks of conflict the BBC made remarkably little effort to explain to audiences the actual meaning of terms such as ‘disproportionate’, indiscriminate’,  ‘collective punishment’‘targeting civilians’ or ‘war crimes’ which were so frequently bandied about by its reporters and guests ... 

'Apparently though, there was no BBC memo informing its own employees that the indiscriminate and unwarranted use of such terms is both inappropriate for an organization professing to adhere to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality, as well as misleading to audiences who would quite reasonably (but wrongly) assume that the BBC’s frequent employment of such language must mean that a legal justification for its use exists. Obviously too, BBC presenters and producers had not been issued with any sort of guidelines on the topic of the legal definitions of such labels and the resulting significance of their use by correspondents and interviewees whilst no proven justification was available.'

First impressions ignore knowledge. Judgment requires knowledge, even if the acquiring of knowledge is no guarantee that the knowledge will be put to good use. Images of distraught, suffering people in Gaza are no substitute for acquiring knowledge, making an adequate ((survey)) and exercising judgment.

Opposition to Israeli actions in Gaza has often been based on the dogma of feeling, the supposition that feelings of outrage are conclusive. Feelings of compassion and humanitarian feelings are not necessarily conclusive. They can mislead, they can apportion blame mistakenly, they can lead to disastrously misguided action, doing nothing to correct a humanitarian catastrophe, perpetuating a humanitarian catastrophe.The selectivity of so many supporters of the Palestinians has often been noted. Almost all human suffering seems to pass these people by, or to be treated with insufficient seriousness, such as suffering at the hands of ISIS.

 

Anyone who believes that the Israeli Defence Force has fought in Gaza with unprecedented savagery needs to undertake as soon as possible a remedial course of study in military history. IDF warnings to civilians to evacuate an area are, of course, exceptional in the history of warfare.

There follow comments on British and American bombing operations during the Second World War.

 

Above: Lancaster bomber over Hamburg. Martin Middlebrook, 'The Battle of Hamburg:' 'During the whole of its wartime bombing, Hamburg lost approximately 55 000 civilians killed. This figure approaches the 62 856 Hamburg servicemen who were killed in action or who died of wounds or sickness during the war.'

Hamburg, like Dresden, suffered a firestorm, which had been deliberately caused by using a mixture of high explosive bombs and incendiary bombs. W G Sebald describes the grim aftermath of the raid of 27 July, 1943:

'Horribly disfigured corpses lay everywhere. Bluish little phosphorus flames still flickered around many of them; others had been roasted brown or purple and reduced to a third of their normal size. They lay doubled up in pools of their own melted fat, which had sometimes already congealed. In the next few days, the central death zone wa declared a no-go area. When punishment labour gangs and camp inmates could begin clearing it in August, after the rubble had cooled down, they found people still sitting at tables or up against walls where they had  been overcome by monoxide gas. Elsewhere, clumps of flesh and bone or whole heaps of bodies had cooked in the water gushing from bursting boilers. Other victims had been so badly charred and reduced to ashes by the heat, which had risen t, 1,000 degrees or more, that the remains of families consisting of several people could be carried away in a single laundry basket.' Sir Arthur Harris on the bombing offensive against Germany:

'The aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive...should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany.'

' ... the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.


'I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier.


'The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.'

From the Website of RAF Bomber Command, 'Assessment of the campaign:'

'The bombing campaign was the only way by which Britain could hit back at an aggressive enemy who had invaded most of Europe, had bombed British cities from Glasgow to Plymouth, had taken the first steps to invade the UK by an aerial assault in the Battle of Britain and who represented the greatest danger Britain had faced for centuries.

...

'Bombing disrupted production and held the full potential of the German industrial machine in check. Equally importantly, bombing attacks on the German homeland forced the Nazis to divert over one million men and 55,000 artillery guns to anti-aircraft defence within Germany itself. German aircraft production had to focus on fighter production for defence against bomber attack, rather than, as Hitler desperately wanted, be able to produce more bombers for offensive use. These resources were urgently needed elsewhere, particularly on the eastern front fighting the Russians, who were finally able to overcome the Germans and force them into a retreat.

'Historian Professor Richard Overy had studied the bombing campaign at length. He writes: ‘The critical question is not so much “What did bombing do to Germany?” but “What could Germany have achieved if there had been no bombing?”…... Bombing was a blunt instrument. It was a strategy that had a long and painful learning curve. But for all its deficiencies the 125,000 men and women of Bomber Command made a larger contribution to victory in Europe than any other element of Britain’s armed services.’

Albert Speer, Hitler’s Armaments Minister, knew more than anyone else in Europe about the true effect of the bombing campaign. He summed it up thus: ‘It made every square metre of Germany a front. For us, it was the greatest lost battle of the war.'

Martin Middlebrook: 'So there it was - Area Bombing - a terrible means of waging war but believed at the time to have been necessary and without any reasonable alternative, introduced by the R.A.F. only after all other, more acceptable, means of strategic bombing methods had been found to be unworkable with the tools available at the time. It was an awful means in search of a most desirable end - the swiftest and most economical defeat of an evil philosophy and the liberation of Europe ... '


The British policy of area bombing during the Second World War involved the deliberate targeting of civilians. British bombing of Nazi Germany was far more devastating than the Nazi German bombing of Britain.  However, international humanitarian law regulating aerial warfare was not in existence before or during the Second World War, so that strategic bombings did not amount to official war crimes. For this reason, no Germans or Japanese were prosecuted after the war for the aerial bombardment of such cities as Warsaw, Rotterdam, British cities attacked during the Blitz, and Shanghai.


Antony Beevor, writing in 'D-Day: The Battle for  Normandy,'
about French civilian casualties during 'Operation Overlord,' the allied invasion which began with D-day:

' ... the debate about the overkill of Allied bombing and artillery is bound to continue. Altogether 19,890 French civilians were killed during the liberation of Normandy and an even larger number seriously injured. This was on top of the 15,000 French killed and 19,000 injured during the preparatory bombing for Overlord in the firt five months of 1944. It is a sobering thought that 70,000 French civilians were killed by Allied action during the course of the war, a figure which exceeds the total number of British killed by German bombing.'

The allied bombing after D-day included the devastation of Caen.

Below, Caen after the bombing:



The liberation of France and the liberation of Europe by the allies did not become immoral on account of these facts. The moral superiority of Great Britain over Nazi Germany is not cancelled by these facts, or other facts, such as the fact that sometimes, British soldiers shot German soldiers who surrendered instead of granting them the status of prisoners of war. But it  was Nazi Germany, not Great Britain or any of the allies, which deserved to lose the Second World War.

Wikipedia is almost certainly correct in attributing the top image to Cologne (Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1979-025-19A), but 'Der Zweite Weltkrieg in Bildern und Dokumenten,' Dritter Band, 'Sieg ohne Frieden 1944 - 1945' edited by H-A Jacobsen and H Dollinger places the grim scene in the city of Braunschweig, which experienced 42 air raids during the war and was left with an estimated  3 670 500 m³ of rubble.  


The charred body of a woman who was carrying a child on her back, killed in the American bombing raid on Tokyo of 9/10 March 1945. This was the bombing raid with the highest death toll of the Second World War, higher than Dresden, Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

The US Strategic Bombing Survey later estimated that nearly 88,000 people died in this one raid, 41,000 were injured, and over a million residents lost their homes. The Tokyo Fire Department estimated a higher toll: 97,000 killed and 125,000 wounded. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department established a figure of 124,711 casualties including both killed and wounded and 286,358 buildings and homes destroyed. These casualty and damage figures could be low. Mark Selden, writing in 'Japan Focus:'

'The figure of roughly 100,000 deaths, provided by Japanese and American authorities, both of whom may have had reasons of their own for minimizing the death toll, seems to me arguably low in light of population density, wind conditions, and survivors' accounts.' (The Wikipedia entry.)

Fromhttp://www.pacificwar.org.au/AtomBomb_Japan.html

'To undermine Japan's capacity to continue the war, it was necessary for America to strike at Japan's industrial base. In doing so, the Americans faced a problem. Unlike the situation in many Western countries, most of Japan's major cities did not have clearly defined industrial districts in 1945. Instead, Japanese industrial facilities were mostly dispersed in residential areas. As precision bombing did not exist in 1945, it was impossible for high altitude American B-29s to destroy factories that serviced Japan's war machine without also hitting residential neighbourhoods that adjoined these factories.

'As the cost in American lives soared, and Japan showed no inclination to surrender, the Americans finally decided in early 1945 to strike at Japan's war industries even if it inevitably cost civilian lives. For ten days in March 1945, huge formations of B-29 bombers carried out saturation raids on five of Japan's largest industrial cities, including Tokyo. The raids were then suspended. Instead of inclining Japan to surrender, the Japanese government was able to use the air raids to whip up hatred of Americans and stiffen the will of the Japanese people to fight to the death as a nation. This was not as difficult in Japan as it would have been in Western countries. It has to be remembered that the Japanese people were products of a militaristic culture dating back hundreds of years. They felt intense pride in the power of their military, and Japan's military conquests in Asia and the Pacific. Japanese culture permitted Admiral Yamamoto to be viewed as a national hero after he engineered the treacherous sneak attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese government plans a fanatical defence of Japan's home islands to the last man, woman and child

In April 1945, the Japanese Suzuki government had prepared a war policy called Ketsugo which was a refinement of the Shosango victory plan for the defence of the home islands to the last man. These plans would prepare the Japanese people psychologically to die as a nation in defence of their homeland. Even children, including girls, would be trained to use makeshift lethal weapons, and exhorted to sacrifice themselves by killing an American invader. To implement this policy of training children to kill, soldiers attended Japanese schools and trained even small children in the use of weapons such as bamboo spears.

'The American government was aware from intelligence intercepts of the chilling implications of these Japanese defensive plans. Intelligence reports indicated that the Japanese would probably be able to muster two million troops and eight thousand aircraft for the defence of the four home islands against a traditional amphibious invasion. The dispersal of these military resources across Japan, and their careful concealment, would provide the Americans with no opportunity to destroy them from the air. The Ketsugo policy placed heavy reliance on suicide attacks on the American troops and their covering warships. For this purpose, several thousand aircraft would be adapted for suicide attacks. Other methods of suicide attack being developed included dynamite-filled "crash boats", guided human torpedoes, guided human rocket bombs (similar to the "Baka" rocket plane used against American ships at Okinawa), and specially trained ground suicide units carrying explosives. In addition, the invading Americans would have to face a civilian population drilled in guerilla tactics.'

So America decided to use the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There were arguments for and against this weapon, just as there were arguments for and against invasion of Japan and continuing the war by conventional means. The fighting in the advance towards Japan from one Pacific island to another had produced horrendous casualties, American and Japanese, and the closer the Americans got to Japan, the more fanatical the resistance.

R. J. Rummel, a professor of political science at the  University of Hawaii,  estimates that between 1937 and 1945, the Japanese military murdered from nearly 3 to over 10 million people, most likely 6 million Chinese, Indonesians, Koreans, Filipinos and Indochinese,  among others, including Western prisoners of war ... According to Rummel, in China alone, during 1937–45, approximately 3.9 million Chinese were killed, mostly civilians, as a direct result of the Japanese operations and 10.2 million in the course of the war.The most infamous incident during this period was the Nanking Massacre  of 1937–38, when, according to the findings of the International Military Tribunar for the Far East,  the Japanese Army massacred as many as 300,000 civilians and prisoners of war, although the accepted figure is somewhere in the hundreds of thousands.'

I distinguish low-tension and high-tension thought, and to appreciate the human qualities of the allied bomber crews and the massiveness of their achievement - including the crews whose operations involved the area bombing of civilian targets -  ultra-high tension thought is a necessity. (In the earlier period of the bombing campaign, there could be no clear distinction between civilian targets and targets of military importance, since precision bombing of military targets was an impossibility at the time.)

From my page on the philosopher Nietzsche:


'I regard Nietzsche as often, but not always, a low-tension thinker. A low-tension thinker can't keep opposed ideas in consciousness simultaneously, but has to emphasize one whilst denying others. There's a low-tension view unable to come to terms with the shocking aspects of reality but instead distorting reality. Sentimentalizing reality is a common approach.

'Nietzsche could keep the two ideas in consciousness at once, the harshness of reality and the wonder of reality. However, he lessened tension by flagrantly diminishing the harshness. And he refused to acknowledge one more strand which can't be ignored without distorting reality, or so I claim: active humanitarianism, the urge to reduce suffering, to improve the world, an attempt which will often be frustrated but which is not always frustrated, an attempt which is difficult and sometimes impossible but absolutely essential. This is a high-tension view.'

To appreciate the  bomber crews'  achievement, and their sacrifices, requires, preferably, sustained reading.

My page on the writer A L Kennedy includes appreciation of the crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress. Mi Amigo which on 22 February 1944 crashed not far from here with the loss of all crew members. Each year, on the anniversary, there is held at the crash site a commemorative service, which I attend. I write this about the risks they faced:

'Crews who completed twenty-five missions would return back to the United States. Some died on the first mission, some survived the twenty-five missions, but in the year before Mi Amigo was lost, the average was only fifteen missions survived. On just one raid in that year, the raid on the ball-bearing factory at Schweinfurt (a great deal of the German armaments work, including tanks and planes, depended upon ball-bearings) sixty American bombers were lost, and their six hundred crew members. Of the 15 aircraft in the 305th group, to which Mi Amigo belonged, only two returned. In the year that Mi Amigo was lost, the chances of survival were better, but still desperate. On the same day that this Flying Fortress was lost, 43 aircraft and 430 aircrew were lost also.'