Elsewhere at MEMRI TV, Ken Livingstone has finally found his true home amid the cranks and anti-Semites. I can't quite bring myself to embed the full video clip, but go here if you can bear it - the man speaking yesterday in an interview on Al-Ghad Al-Arabi TV, and recycling the same old crap. From the transcript:
Livingstone: The creation of the state of Israel was fundamentally wrong, because there had been a Palestinian community there for 2,000 years....
The creation of the state of Israel was a great catastrophe. We should have absorbed the post-WWII Jewish refugees in Britain and America. They could all have been resettled, whereas 70 years later, the situation is still very tense, and there is potential for many more wars, potential for nuclear war.
Interviewer: Do you support the global movement for boycotting Israel?
Livingstone: I never buy anything [that comes from Israel]. I could make mistakes sometimes. I like dates, but I don't buy dates that come from Israel. […]
Interviewer: Europe decided that the solution, in order to get rid of the Jews, was to establish their own national state in Palestine. Is this not unjust?
Livingstone: This is the interesting thing. There was a lot of antisemitism in Europe. The Europeans were very hostile toward the Jews. When Hitler won the elections in 1932 and came to power, his policy was not directed toward killing the Jews. He wanted to deport all the Zionists to Israel. If you look at the Arab world at the time, there were large Jewish communities that never suffered threats or attacks. They lived in peace alongside their Arab neighbors. But all of this was destroyed with the establishment of the state of Israel, and all the Israeli communities in the Arab world were deported to Israel. This is unparalleled. If you examine the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad - he recognized Moses as a divine messenger. He also recognized that the Jews could live alongside the Arabs in the Middle East. All of that was destroyed, and I think it was catastrophic.
You hardly know where to start with so much nonsense and disinformation. The Farhud in 1941, maybe? - or Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Palestine and well-known Nazi collaborator? Or the unbroken three thousand years of Jewish habitation in the land of Israel. But what's the point - he's beyond reasoning.
I have always believed that the failure to resolve the [Palestinian] problem fuels the terrorist attacks. What makes a 15- or 16-year-old boy go and fight with ISIS, or carry out the barbaric attacks that we saw in Paris or Brussels? They don't do it because they enjoy killing, but because they believe that they are the victims of injustice. The West must deal with the injustice, or will continue to fuel terrorism.
Update: and, for more on Livingstone and his rants, read this, by Martin Bright in the Jewish Chronicle.
Here's Sheikh Fathi Rebaï, a delightful Tunisian Imam, in a Friday sermon delivered at the Essalem Mosque in Sfax, on April 29.
From the transcript:
Listen to this hadith, my brothers. The Prophet Muhammad said: "Whoever you find engaged in sodomy - kill both the man who does it and the man to whom it is done." I will explain the hadith, so that I am not accused of belonging to ISIS, or of being a criminal, a terrorist, a takfirist, or a supporter of murder. This call to kill both the man who does it and the man to whom it is done is directed at the ruler who rules according to the shari'a. According to shari'a law, in the event of homosexual sex, both the man who does it and the man to whom it is done should die, if the latter has done it out of consent. The verdict for both is execution, because their sick souls cannot be cured. Their cure is execution. The only disagreement among the ulema was about the method of execution. According to the Hanafi school, the ruler should give the order for the homosexual to be taken to a high place and thrown off from there, and then to be stoned to death.
So no, he shouldn't be accused of belonging to ISIS, or being some kind of extremist. This is mainstream Islam, straight from the hadith...
Over the town of Blackhawk, South Dakota, June 1, 2015:
On Thursday, Israel will mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah. As has been the custom for over six decades, a 2-minute air raid siren will be blared across the entire country and citizens from all walks of life will interrupt their daily routines for a moment of solemn reflection. Jan. 27 of this year also marked the decade anniversary of the United Nations-designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which member states are encouraged to commemorate. Though an Israeli initiative, International Holocaust Remembrance Day has gradually been subjected to the universalizing prescriptions of those who would water down the particularly Jewish aspect of the Nazi extermination of the Jews.
The evolution of two different days of Holocaust commemoration and the ways they increasingly run counter to each other are symptomatic of the seizure of Jewish history and suffering for ulterior purposes. This victim displacement appropriates the most traumatic experience in Jewish history, pointedly erases the specificity of the events supposedly being commemorated, and then harshly chides Jews for inserting their own particularistic concerns into the discussion. At a certain point, these phenomena become a continuation of a specific form of oppression and erasure rather an antidote to “hatred.”...
To understand the perverse logic of the Holocaust without Jews, one must work backward from the political end goal of those pushing it: the de-legitimzation of the Jewish State. For if the Holocaust isn’t about Jews, then Jews have no claim on their history, or reason to fear anti-Semitism, or the need for a state. The complaint used to be that Jews abused the Holocaust as a shakedown. Now, the Holocaust—at least as much as it was as a crime targeting the Jews above all others—doesn’t exist at all....
In this era of hypersensitivity about “cultural appropriation” (which, taken to its extreme, has seen college campuses erupt in protest over yoga classes and the serving of bad Asian food in dining halls), it’s noteworthy how often the greatest crime in human history is casually manipulated by those who purport to be concerned with “oppression.” But to the mandarins of the progressive left, the Holocaust’s meaning is always and necessarily to be found in its “universalism.” According to this historical interpretation, the evil of the Nazis can be located in their abandonment of the European cosmopolitan tradition and descent into bestial particularism and nationalism—the very qualities that Israel, foremost among the nations, is charged with embodying today. This sleight of hand has the miraculous effect of clouding the causes of the Holocaust so that anti-Semitism is relegated to a background role, if it is mentioned at all. Harping on the fact of six million dead Jews, then, becomes weirdly tribal, even Nazi-like; asserting Jewish peoplehood is too close to asserting Aryan-ness, the disastrous results of which Europeans have been expiating for the past seven decades. It doesn’t matter that there is no Israeli Auschwitz, or anything even approaching it; the particularism and nationalism of Israel is enough to imply everything that has followed or at least could follow. Israel is the carrier of the European disease that wise Europeans have transcended through their enormous, Christ-like suffering, and formation of the European Union.
Last November in Sweden, the organizers of a Kristallnacht commemoration chose not to invite Jews lest the universal lessons of the Holocaust be marred by the official participation of the people who were its primary victims. Yet the left-wing activists who organized the rally had no problem with Palestinian flags or posters equating the Star of David to a swastika, both of which make annual appearances at an event ostensibly called to remember the genocide of Jewish people.
Erasing Jews from the history of the Holocaust makes the likening of them to Nazis more palatable. In the upcoming documentary film Let My People Go, Marcel Ophuls promises to expose modern-day Israel like he did Vichy France in his classic,The Sorrow and the Pity, telling similarly “unpleasant truths.” Ophuls teamed up with Eyal Sivan, an Israeli filmmaker self-exiled in Paris who speaks of anti-Zionist Jews as a righteous minority akin to anti-Apartheid Afrikaners or members of the French resistance. To capture the full enormity of the Jewish State’s depravity, the two traveled to Germany to meet with what Robert Mackey, the blogger then of theNew York Times, called “young Israeli dissidents” who fled the Jewish State, in the words of Sivan, “seeking refuge from Israel’s politics in Berlin.”
For the dwindling true-believers in a post-national Europe, it is hard to imagine a story that could be more satisfying than Jews fleeing their Nazi-like nation-state for the utopia of Berlin, whose residents have learned the lessons of their past as the stiff-necked Jews manifestly have not. For anyone not quite so enamored of the EU, it is hard to imagine a story that is at once so magnificently self-flattering, and which lets Europeans off the hook so completely for their repulsive historical crimes—while further enabling the deeply ingrained anti-Semitism that made those crimes so deadly.
Warm enough - at last - for cycling shorts. Down the Lea to the Twelvetrees gasometers and Cody Dock, then back by Hackney Wick:
At the moment access across the river to Twelvetrees and down to Cody Dock involves a long round trek to get to the road bridge, but they're working on the Twelvetrees Ramp Project - part of the Leaway - which will make it all much easier and more accessible. Due to open this autumn...
From North Korea's Rodong Simmun, last Friday:
A delegation of the International Peace Foundation headed by Chairman of its Advisory Board Alfred, prince of the Liechtenstein Principality, arrived here on Friday to take part in the event "International Academic Exchange for Peace and Development".
So who are these people? - and what are they doing in Pyongyang, posing for official photographs?
Well, the International Peace Foundation seems to be one of those institutions of the great and the good whose main function is to signal their overwhelming sense of virtue:
The foundation has been established exclusively for not-for-profit purposes, in particular to support peace universities as well as scientific projects and institutions dealing with research into conflict prevention and strategies for the solution of conflicts as well as with promoting peace activities, understanding and social exchange between peoples, their cultures and traditions. The foundation supports, in particular, not-for-profit scientific institutions of international, intercultural and multidisciplinary character which contribute to the development of new comprehensive approaches of thinking and acting.
The same photo, as it happens, appears in a BBC report from our intrepid man on a plane heading to North Korea, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, where we learn more, and put some names to those faces:
I'm sitting on a plane - the mountains of north-east China are slipping through the mist below us.
A few rows back three Nobel laureates are chatting with Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein. Ahead is North Korea.
It's definitely one of the more curious assignments I've been asked to do.
Journalists will find any way they can to get a glimpse inside the DPRK. Hence I am hanging on the coat tails of this unique delegation comprising an Israeli, a Briton, a Norwegian and a tall European prince.
They have been invited to meet students at Kim Il-Sung University to talk about medicine, economics and biology.
The academics' visit to North Korea has been organised by the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation (IPF).
Those taking part are:
Nobel laureate for economics Prof Finn Kydland from Norway, who works at the University of California in Santa Barbara
Nobel laureate for medicine Sir Richard Roberts from the UK, who is based at New England Biolabs in Ipswich, Massachusetts
Nobel laureate for chemistry Prof Aaron Ciechanover from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa
Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein, who chairs the IPF's advisory board
IPF chairman Uwe Morawetz, who has visited North Korea six times in the past two years.
Do these Nobel laureates, together with that very tall Liechtenstein prince, really think they're doing anything useful by visiting North Korea? - apart, that is, from boosting their own sense of self-importance.
There's more today from Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, when he accompanies the IPF group on their visit to Kim Il Sung University. "It's easy as an outsider to see this country as comical, or scary, or both. But for these people it's the outside world that looks scary", he says. Hmm. There follows an excruciating interview with some poor terrified youth, as though he's free to speak his mind. At the university, meanwhile, Sir Richard Roberts wants to know how these students do their research. Do they have unlimited access to the internet, he wonders? No of course they don't have unlimited access to the fucking internet, you idiot. Why are these people being so naive? - or, in the case of Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, so smug?
Just don't go there. You only do it on their terms. The whole thing is hopelessly compromised from the outset.
Daniel Finkelstein in the Times (£):
"For all its brutalities and failures, communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality. It encompassed genuine idealism and commitment.”
Once upon a time, an apparently sane and intelligent person, perfectly mannered, charming and with a good job, sat down, switched on his computer, paused for a moment to reflect, and then typed the passage I have just quoted. Then he sent it to a national newspaper where everyone could see it. Really he did.
It is right up there with “Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”
In the same article the author argues that it is “a moral and historical nonsense” to say that Stalin was as bad as Hitler because “there was no Soviet Sobibor or Treblinka”; complains that the number of fatalities caused by the Soviet system is exaggerated; says that there are lessons to be learnt from Soviet success; and, crucially, regrets that with its demise we lost a “powerful counterweight to western global domination”.
I was quite surprised that he didn’t add that you can’t make an omelette without killing a few million people.
Seumas Milne wrote this piece ten years ago for The Guardian(during a period in which Michael Gove dubbed it “the Prada-Meinhof gang”) and in 2012 reprinted it in his book The Revenge of History. In 2015 Jeremy Corbyn appointed his old friend and close ally executive director of strategy and communications of the Labour party.
Anyone wanting to understand the argument about antisemitism and Labour needs to understand this: it is tangled up in something much bigger. The Corbyn left rejects western liberalism and the foreign policy that accompanies it....
For most of us in the political mainstream, Nato and its allies are the defenders of liberal values as well as national security. For Milne, for Jeremy Corbyn, for their supporters, Nato is the dark star.
What is happening in the Labour party is not (just) the crassness of a few councillors and the odd MP saying some embarrassing things about Jews. It is the abandonment of its identity as an Atlanticist progressive party. And it cannot be stopped until this identity is reasserted.
And, on the subject of Labour anti-Semitism, see David Hirsh's decisive refutation of those (many) who think it's all a smear got up to discredit Corbyn and the left.
Jeffrey Herf, Professor of History at the University of Maryland, and author of Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust - in other words, a proper historian - takes a look at Ken Livingstone's charge that Hitler was a Zionist:
During the Cold War the Soviet Union, its Warsaw Pact Allies and the Western far-left spread a variety of lies about the history of Zionism, the most famous of these falsehoods being the assertion that Hitler and the Nazi regime were supporters of Zionism. It was a falsehood that fit well with another big lie of Communist Cold War propaganda, namely that Zionism was itself a form of racism. If the latter were the case, it would make logical sense that racists such as Hitler supported Zionism. The fact is however that Hitler and the Nazis despised Zionism and did all they could to defeat it.
Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London and a long-standing prominent figure on the British left, has now repeated the myth of Nazi support for Zionism. However, what was a required and standard slogan of the Communist regimes, parties and the Western far-left during the Cold War, now faces opposition from some members of the British Labour Party. That a man as prominent as Livingstone, whom the citizens of London elected as their Mayor for eight years, repeats such rubbish says a great deal about the ideas that have been circulating in what presents itself as a major cosmopolitan city. At least parts of Britain’s left have sunk to the status of a provincial intellectual backwater. Livingstone and those who agree with him are oblivious of the following well-established historical facts....
Anti-Semitism, like all forms or racism and religious hatred, is built on lies and distortions about the past and present. Around the world, London stands for worldliness, cosmopolitanism and often for an understanding of history. When the former Mayor of this city reveals how little he knows about World War II and Britain’s role in it, one has to wonder what has happened to the qualities we admire in British intellectual life.
The Iranian regime, faced with a crisis in recruiting fighters to defend Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, has embarked on a new propaganda campaign to encourage children to join the war in Syria. Here's the video. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has translated some of the lyrics:
“On my leader [Ayatollah Khamenei’s] orders I am ready to give my life.
The goal is not just to free Iraq and Syria;
My path is through the sacred shrine [in Syria], but my goal is to reach Jerusalem.
… I don’t regret parting from my country;
In this just path I am wearing my martyrdom shroud.”
Iran’s regime has done this before. During the Iran-Iraq War, which killed around a million people between 1980 and 1988, the Basij recruited thousands of children to clear minefields.
After lengthy cult-like brainwashing sessions, the poor kids placed plastic keys around their necks, symbolizing martyrs’ permission to enter paradise, and ran ahead of Iranian ground troops and tanks to remove Iraqi mines by detonating them with their feet and blowing their small bodies to pieces....
“Deception of children by the mullahs and demagogy such as reaching Jerusalem via Aleppo point to two realities,” Shahin Gobadi, who’s on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI said to me in an email through an intermediary. “First, despite deploying more than 60,000 forces from the IRGC, foreign mercenaries, and even its regular army, the clerical regime is facing a complete deadlock in Syria. Its forces have sustained heavy casualties in Syria and as such are totally demoralized. For instance, at least 40 IRGC generals have been killed there. In order to fill this vacuum, the regime has resorted to deceiving children to be dispatched to the war fronts. This is what it used to do during the Iran-Iraq war, but it ultimately failed miserably.
“Second,” he continued, “the war in Syria and keeping the dictator Bashar Assad in power is so crucial for the Iranian regime's supreme leader Ali Khamenei that he is willing to pay any price for this objective. In February in a meeting with the families of the regime’s forces who were killed in Syria, Khamenei said that if we did not fight in Syria, we would have had to fight with our opposition in major Iranian cities. Resorting to the tactic of mobilizing teenagers only leads to one conclusion, the mullahs are facing a deadly impasse in Syria.”
The Iranian government desperately needs the Assad regime in Damascus and the Abadi government in Iraq because they’re Iran’s only allies in the entire Arab world. A moderate and democratic Iran would have no trouble forging normal and friendly relations with moderate Arabs governments like Jordan’s, Tunisia’s, Morocco’s and possibly even Egypt’s, but the revolutionary state that’s been entrenched there since 1979 isn’t tolerated any better in capitals like Cairo and Riyadh than it is in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
By cutting deals with the Iranian government, the United States is increasingly out of step with the region, but if the Basij actually sends children into battle in Iraq and Syria—where ISIS crucifies and beheads its enemies and detests no one on earth as much as Iranian Persians and Shias—it’s going to be harder for Washington officials to explain themselves without going red in the face than it has been in a while.
Here's a very good point, from Yitzhak Santis with Roz Rothstein in the Times of Israel. If we're talking about collaboration with the Nazis...
In the uproar following Ken Livingstone’s comments about Hitler having been a Zionist “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews” a crucial point has not been raised: the collaboration at the highest levels with the Nazi regime by Haj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the father of Palestinian nationalism.
The intense criticism against Livingstone is appropriate. Correcting the history of the Zionist movement and its response to the rise of Nazism is paramount. Yet, if dealing in any manner with the Nazi regime delegitimizes a national movement, then Palestinian leader Haj Amin’s close collaboration with the likes of Himmler, Hitler, Eichmann and Goebbels should make anti-Israel campaigners rethink their strategy of injecting the Holocaust into their assault on Israel’s legitimacy.
There is a world of difference between the desperate effort of Zionist leaders to rescue German Jewry from the Nazis, which by definition required the need to “deal” with Berlin, and Haj Amin’s overt alliance with Nazi Germany including support for the Final Solution.
Anti-Israel campaigners often make the point that Palestinian Arabs should not be “made to pay for the Holocaust,” a “European crime.” This argument fails on two counts. First, it ignores the three millennia of unbroken Jewish habitation of the land of Israel, in which Jews are an indigenous people. Secondly, it denies the close collaboration with Nazi Germany by the Palestinian leadership of that era, which by 1941 knew of, supported and even participated in the Nazi genocide. This is something for which contemporary Palestinian leadership must finally acknowledge and take responsibility....
So, if Livingstone and his anti-Israel fellow-travelers wish to talk about Hitler and the Holocaust, let them. It opens the path for a full discussion on the period, allowing us to remind the world of the inconvenient truth of how Palestinian nationalist leaders knew of, and actively supported, the Holocaust.
We will then see how quickly they will again broadcast the lie about Zionist “collaboration” with Nazi Germany.
More on...well, you know. Melanie Phillips in the Times (£):
The current uproar over antisemitism is truly a wonder to behold. For the past three decades and more, antisemitism was the prejudice that dared not speak its name. It was deemed to have been stamped out, other than among cranks on the far right.
Anyone rash enough to protest that the anti-Israel animus in progressive circles was a mutation of ancient Jew-hatred was told they were “waving the shroud of the Holocaust” to sanitise the crimes of Israel. There could be no connection. The left was institutionally anti-racist, wasn’t it?
On the contrary, the left is institutionally anti-Israel and the connection is irrefutable. For sure, many who loathe Israel may not be hostile to Jews as people. Nevertheless the narrative of Israel to which they subscribe is inescapably anti-Jew....
Among the educated classes, Israel, the target of decades of Arab exterminatory aggression, is almost universally presented as the villain and the Palestinians as its victims. Israel is held to be responsible for the absence of a Palestine state and thus the obstacle to solving the Middle East conflict.
The fact that the Arabs turned down proposals or offers of a Palestine state alongside Israel in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008, responding instead with terrorism or war, is ignored. The repeated statements of the Palestinian leadership that its real aim is to capture all of Israel are also ignored. It is never reported how the Palestinian Authority-controlled media and educational materials routinely incite Palestinian children to hate Jews, murder Israelis and capture every Israeli city.
Instead, Britain is told that the Israelis are child-killers. During the 2014 war in Gaza, when Israel finally responded to years of rocket attacks by launching airstrikes against Hamas, broadcast and print media claimed Israel was recklessly or deliberately killing hundreds of Palestinian children and other civilians.
In fact, as the High Level Military Group of western top brass told the UN last year, the lengths to which Israel went to try to protect Gaza’s civilians far exceeded the requirements of the Geneva Conventions, even at the cost of its own soldiers’ and civilians’ lives, and going further than any other nation’s army would ever do.
Yet the British public had been told, virtually without contradiction, that Israel had wantonly killed hundreds of children. Among those on the left now vowing to root out antisemitism, I didn’t notice any of them rushing to condemn that particular blood libel.
Last year, the Islamic adviser to Mahmoud Abbas taught on Palestinian Authority TV that Jews throughout history have represented “falsehood . . . evil . . . the devils and their supporters . . . the satans and their supporters”. The Palestinian Authority daily published an opinion article claiming that Jews “are thirsty for blood to please their god (against the gentiles), and crave pockets full of money”. Children were shown on TV reciting poems portraying Jews as “most evil among creations”, “barbaric monkeys” and “Satan with a tail”.
Progressive Britain never reports any of this. Instead, it amplifies the hate in its own intellectual, cultural and media echo-chamber.
Denying the legal and historical rights of the Israeli “settlers” to the land, it demonises and dehumanises them. When they are murdered by Palestinians, this is rarely reported on the grounds that they had it coming to them. Dehumanisation of the “settlers” leads inexorably to the dehumanisation of all Jews.
Or, as Julie Burchill succinctly puts it:
And, hence, the Labour Party has found itself supporting a sexist, homophobic, nihilist death cult – Islamism – just because the majority of those who practice it are dark skinned and the majority of Jews white.
And finally, the view from Israel. Liel Leibowitz: Labour’s Anti-Semitism Issues? Sorry, Not Our Problem.
The point is this: we no longer have to plea—to the left or the right or the Islamists or the nativists or to anyone else. If Britain—or Belgium or France or Sweden for that matter—wants to hound its Jews, that’s too bad, and it would leave these countries Judenrein and scrubbed of any claim on the heritage of the Enlightenment. But try to really mess with Jews, and you’ll learn the real lesson of Zionism’s triumph: we can defend ourselves now, and, if needed, will do so with great and glorious fury.
Which doesn’t mean, of course, that the anti-Semites are likely to be at all dissuaded. Haters, as Jewish history has repeatedly taught us, will hate. But now that Jews have a state and an army and six decades of collective memory rich with proud moments of self-defense, the affairs of anti-Semites are now, more than ever, trivial.
That the Labour Party is being gnawed to death by anti-Jewish zealots bodes ill for the Labour Party and for Britain at large; a nation whose citizens have been decapitated in broad daylight and whose trains are exploded by crazed terrorists needs strong and principled parties to balance the demands of national security with the dictates of democracy. Remarkably, the least affected here are the Jews: if push came to shove, they’ll join their French brethren on Netanya’s beaches, not an easy move but not, all things considered, a devastating one, either.
So good luck to our British brothers in their struggle to save whatever’s left of their civil society. As they fight to preserve tolerance, diversity, justice, and all the other wonderful things that makes the United Kingdom the robust beacon of liberty it wants to believe it still is, they may want to consult recent examples of national movements that succeeded in building thriving democracies despite considerable external threats. They can begin by reading up on Zionism.
Update: And here's Alan Johnson, interviewed for Newsnight.