Corbyn must stand strong against attacks on criticism of Israel

Jeremy Corbyn is “an anti-Semite who has “given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate”, the former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks has said. In an interview with the New Statesman, he described Corbyn’s remarks on “Zionists” as, “the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech”.

He goes on:

“Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite as the leader of the Labour Party and her majesty’s opposition.”

One of those countries where anti-semitism is now rampant is Victor Orban’s Hungary. This is the same Orban who was recently an honoured guest of the Netanyahu government. In our own country, The Middle East Forum, who are a hardline pro-Israel conservative think tank were funding fascist Tommy Robinson while he was in prison. In the words of their Director, Gregg Roman, who has worked in Israel’s Defence and Foreign Ministries, “we are helping Robinson in his moment of danger in three main ways .. to fund his legal defence … bringing foreign pressure on the UK government to ensure Mr. Robinson’s safety and eventual release …”
MEF previously funded far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ legal defence, “against Dutch charges of inciting racial hatred”.

It has now reached the level of absurdity when before criticising Israel, we must prove that we are not anti-semitic.

My father was one of the first Allied doctors to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The photos he took there, and later showed me, of the skeletal prisoners scarred my young mind. It was those haunting pictures that led me to a lifetime of anti-fascism. I took part in street fights against the British Movement, forerunners of the British National Party, the National Front and today’s Israeli-backed fascist, Tommy Robinson.

But my opposition to Zionism now makes me ‘anti-semitic’. Well, I join a good crew. Albert Einstein said, “The (Israeli) state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed … I believe it is bad.”
Primo Levi, a survivor of Auschwitz, said, “Everyone has their Jews and for the Israelis they are the Palestinians”.

Then there is Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the1943 Warsaw uprising. In a letter in support of the Palestine resistance, he compared them to ZOB, the Jewish fighters in Warsaw and greeted them thus, “Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations.”

All of them now stand accused of anti-semitism.

So who are the Zionists? Founder of Zionism at the end of the 19th century and a proponent of a Jewish homeland was Theodor Herzl. He was an admirer of the British Empire and wrote to Cecil Rhodes, who named the white settler colony Rhodesia after himself, “You are being invited to help make history … it does not involve Africa but a piece of Asia Minor, not Englishmen but Jews … I turn to you … because it is something colonial ..”
Chaim Weizmann, who suceeded Herzl, wrote to the Manchester Guardian: “Should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence and should they encourage Jewish settlement … we could develop the country, bring back civilisation and form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal.”

Of the contemporary Zionists we cannot forget the Evangelical Christian Right. Prayers at the US Embassy, on the day Trump moved it to Jerusalem, were delivered by Robert Jeffries, a Dallas megachurch pastor who said Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral land.

Amongst the first Jews who opposed Zionism were those who set up the Jewish Bund in Poland and Russia. They stressed the four principles of socialism, secularism, Yiddish and doyikayt or “localness.” Doyikayt was encapsulated in the Bund slogan: “There, where we live, that is our country.”

“We Bundists”, wrote one of their early leaders, Viktor Alter, “wish to shatter the existing economic frameworks and show the Jewish masses how a new society can be built not by escape, but by struggle. We link the essence of the Jewish masses’ life to that of humankind.”
Their contemporaries in this country can be found in Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Peace and many others.

If opposition to Israel is a definition of anti-semitism then add me to the list along with Corbyn’s mum and my dad. She was blocking Mosley’s fascists at Cable Street in the 1930s, while the Daily Mail, who are today leading the demands for Corbyn to resign as Labour leader, was lauding Mussolini and Hitler.

One last word to Rabbi Sacks and the New Statesman. Recently he led a march through Palestinian east Jerusalem which news site Haaretz described as “a gender-segregated, extreme-right, pro-occupation religious carnival of hatred” in which participants chanted “Death to the Arabs” and “Al Aqsa will be burned down.” You can find more info at Haaretz here

To the New Statesman I say this: If you have any remaining respect for the tradition and history of your magazine you should distance yourself from your interview with Sacks and apologise to your readers.

It’s long past time to call out these people for who they are. No pasarán!

Palestinians should have the right to return… and live

At the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, opened with these words, “Abraham passed the greatest test of faith and the right to be the father of our nation. In Jerusalem, King David established our capital three thousand years ago as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel.” He went on to offer praise for the IDF’s brave and heroic defence of the ‘Jewish State’.

Meanwhile seventy miles away the Israeli army were giving their brave and undivided attention to defending the nation’s borders by ensuring that Israel remains divided with the blood of its original inhabitants, the Palestinians.

Apart from the dubious historical claim that King David established Jerusalem 3000 years ago, note Netanyahu’s reference to Jerusalem being ‘undivided’. This is code for not sharing Jerusalem with the Palestinians. Jerusalem is for Jews only.

But the inhabitants of the ‘nation’ of Israel do not come from a cohesive geographical area, nor do they share a common history. The Ashkenazi have their antecedents in Eastern Europe and Russia. The Mizrahi in The Maghreb and the Middle East and the Sephardin who can be traced to the Iberian Peninsula, Finally there are  130,000 Ethiopian Jews, some of whom claim descent from Menelik, King Solomon and Queen Sheba’s son.

Historical accuracy is difficult wherever you look in the world and nowhere more so than in Israel. There are those who claim some Jews are not descended from Jews at all. One of these, Professor Shlomo Sand, a Tel Aviv University historian, published this claim with his Invention of the Jewish People. He was reinforcing Arthur Koestler’s The Thirteenth Tribe published in 1976. He advanced the idea that the Ashkenazi Jews are not descendants from the Israelites of antiquity, but from Khazars, a Turkic people whose origins were in the Caucasus region (historical Khazaria), and who converted to Judaism in the 8th century. They later migrated north and westwards into current Northern and Eastern Europe.

In the last thirty years, 300,000 people from Russia and the former states of the Soviet Union have arrived in Israel as “Jews’. Most of them are Halakhally, claiming at least one Jewish member in their family. It is estimated that 40,000 are practising Orthodox Christians.

Under the ‘Law of Return’ Israel grants automatic citizenship to anyone who has a Jewish grandparent, yet as many as a quarter of those who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet countries are not considered Jewish according to the official Israeli rabbinate.

I have been told the story of one such ‘Jewish’ family. Two years ago, and claiming her maternal grandmother had been Jewish, a Russian woman, her husband and two children emigrated to Israel. They arrived in Tel Aviv and were given a house, some welcome money and school places for their teenage children. No supporting documents were asked for. The mother was happy with her new life, but the father didn’t like it there and they were both concerned that the two teenagers would become liable for military service.

In Germany, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has been encouraging Jewish immigration for those of ‘Jewish nationality or have at least one Jewish parent or one Jewish grandparent.’ Over 33,000 Israelis have emigrated to Germany since 2000. And that figure excludes those who haven’t taken out German citizenship. So the two applied for entry to Germany on the same basis as they used to enter Israel. They live there now, happy to have reached security at the centre of Europe, in a country that they have as much a link to as they did to historical Palestine.

Meanwhile back at the US Embassy, the opening prayers were offered by Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor who once said that Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral land. ‘Religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism,’ he said, ‘lead people to an eternity of separation from God in Hell.’

The situation in Israel is indeed Hell for the people whose home has always been there, brought to them by the madness at the heart of Zionism.

Israel commits act of hypocrisy and terror in murder of over 50 protesters

“Hamas seeks to massacre innocent men, women, and children.’ Israeli army statement, 13 May 2018. One day later, over 50 killed and thousands injured by the Israeli army.

This is not a post about Gaza or the number of Palestinians killed. If it was, it would surely be an example of unwarranted focus on Israel in which case it would be an antisemitic post. So this is not a post about Gaza or the number of Palestinians killed. Michael Rosen

The Oxford Dictionary definition of terrorism is, “The use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims”.

The Israeli government definition of terrorism would be, “The use of peaceable words and actions, especially by civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”
It has now reached the level of absurdity when, before criticising Israel, we must prove that we are not anti-semitic. But let’s do it.
My father was one of the first Allied doctors to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The photos he made there, and later showed me of the skeletal prisoners, scarred my young mind. It was those haunting pictures that led me to a lifetime of anti-fascism.
At 16 I had my first contact with anti-semites. One Saturday morning, thugs from the British Movement, forerunners of the National Front, and shouting “You bloody Yids” beat me up in Bromley High Street for selling Peace News. I discovered the headquarters of the Zionist Federation, told them what had happened and they gave me Star of David badges. The following Saturday I, and a fellow pacifist wore these badges proudly and were beaten up again.
As a member of the Anti-Nazi League in the 70s, I helped set up a support and defence group in North West London for Asian shopkeepers attacked by the National Front. Need I go on?
To anyone who would accuse me of being anti-semitic, I bring as my defence witnesses three prominent Jews. The first is Albert Einstein who said, “The (Israeli) state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed … I believe it is bad.” 
Primo Levi was a survivor of Auschwitz. He said, “Everyone has their Jews and for the Israelis they are the Palestinians”.
My third witness would be Marek Edelman, last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw uprising. He wrote a letter in support of the Palestine resistance, comparing them to ZOB, the Jewish fighters in Warsaw. He opened that letter of support with, “Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations – to all the soldiers of the Palestine fighting organisations.”
Myself and my three distinguished witnesses would today be defined as anti-semitic by those who continue with their blind faith in Israel, right or wrong.
For definition of ‘terrorism’, I will stick with the Oxford Dictionary.

Cruel Tory ruling on disabled benefits overturned in court

My son lives in Cornwall and, aged 45, has been disabled since he was six months old after a vaccination precipitated Salaam epilepsy. In hospital, he contracted meningitis and started a life of physical and, more recently courtesy of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), mental hardship.

Today his eyesight is poor and the right side of his body has atrophied and shortened. He often falls and has to use a stick.

After a recent scan on his right ankle which was causing him discomfort, he was given anti-inflammatories and painkillers. His doctor is currently helping him with a request to be given an electric wheelchair.

He has never been able to hold a full-time job, but occasionally picks up small bits of income working as a DJ and running an online radio station from his home. I have to include all this biographical/medical information so that you can better understand what follows.

For 20 years, he received a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) of £80 per week and £108 per week working tax credits, a weekly income of £188.

Because his mobility was worsening, he contacted the DWP to request assistance with his housework. He could only stand for a short time without pain. “Their answer was to tell me that my benefits had been assessed and that I would lose them.” says Ben. “As a result, my weekly income fell from £188 to £67. They said I could apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which had replaced DLA. I did so, but my application was rejected. It was a massive blow and has left me with a huge shortfall. It’s crazy because my disability means I have to take five tablets twice a day as I’m in constant pain.”

He appealed their decision and the DWP then carried out an ‘assessment’ on Ben’s condition which concluded that their original decision to cut his benefits was the correct one.

The assessment was carried out by a private firm, Atos, one of two companies (the other is Capita) who between them earn more than £125 million a year from the taxpayers for their work. Work which doesn’t actually involve any face-to-face assessments at all. I have been unable to find out whether they employ any medically-trained staff.

The Guardian gives a figure of 80 suicides a month by disabled people refused their benefits. “Before our eyes,” writes Frances Ryan, “ the principle of a benefit system is being reduced from opportunity, respect, and solidarity to destitution, degradation and isolation”.

Those resilient enough to continue their lives and, as with my son, lucky enough to have strong family and friendship support, have been pressing their cases on to a final court-based Tribunal appeal.

Of these about 60% are successful. Ben is one of them so here’s the story of his court hearing on Tuesday 8 May at Truro Magistrates Court.

I am there as a witness for Ben which took place in front of a judge, a GP and a disability professional. It was an eye-opener to me that once the government is not present, (one of the Tribunal members said, ‘you will be pleased to know that the DWP are not represented here”), then everyone can and does start behaving as human beings.

The questions dealt with the reality of my son’s life and not with assessments carried out at the other end of the country and without anything being assessed. So it came down to ‘how do you peel potatoes?’, ‘how often do you pause when you are walking?’, ‘what are your pains and what medicines do you take?”

Ben’s cousin Peter had put together the papers for the Tribunal and when he asked to speak critically on the DWP’s assessments, was told by the judge, ”Don’t bother with that. We don’t take them seriously.”

Sir Patrick McLoughlin, former Chairman of the Conservative Party, said ministers had to view the funding for people with disabilities in the context of a wider need to reduce the UK’s budget deficit and that “as far as supporting disabled people, I think overall we do very proudly in this country.”

Scope called on the chancellor Philip Hammond to withdraw his “totally unacceptable and derogatory comments” after he said Britain’s sluggish productivity could partly be blamed on more disabled people in the workforce.

This Tory government and their devotion to weakening the already weak are beyond contempt, but their policies have a logic which is both cruel and unjust.

They take place in the context whereby the richest 1% of the global population is receiving 82% of the newly created wealth worldwide. Oxfam claims this is brought about by tax evasion, erosion of workers rights and continuing social benefit cost-cutting in countries such as the UK.

Back in Truro we were sent out of the court while the panel deliberated and after a short time, we were called back. The judge was smiling as he told us not to bother to sit down. Ben had won his appeal. The panel then told him that he would now be receiving enhanced benefits.

As we were leaving the room the judge’s final comment was “serves the DWP right”. The Truro Trio were giving a massive finger to the DWP and the government.

Ignore the media, Corbyn’s Socialist Labour remain on the up

I have spent most of my life believing that socialism would never come via a vote in Parliament. I will never forget the start of a march on Westminster against the 1970s anti-union laws and agreeing with the speaker who recommended we don’t go there as he didn’t believe in disturbing the dead.

And on the Labour Party I took Ralph Milliband’s words seriously when he wrote: “Pious references to the Labour Party being a ‘broad church’ which has always incorporated many different strands of thought fail to take account of a crucial fact, namely that the ‘broad church’ of Labour only functioned effectively in the past because one side – the Right and Centre – determined the nature of the services that were to be held, and excluded or threatened with exclusion any clergy too deviant in its dissent.”

But Jeremy Corbyn changed all that for me and I have now joined the Labour Party. I am probably one of the few geriatric members of Momentum. At the recent local elections, and because of illness, I have been unable to join in party canvassing but try and help the party where I can. And I have Jeremy to thank for now believing that perhaps radical change can come about with a Left social democratic party.

That process started when Jeremy won the leadership, but it is a struggle in every sense of the word.

On the morning of 4th May, I woke and turned on the radio to hear thRight-wing MPs, Jess Phillips and Chuka Umunna, demanding an enquiry because the Labour Party had done so badly. I am not supposed to drink coffee, but was now on my third and it was only 8 am.

Why wasn’t Jeremy being interviewed or, at least, a shadow minister who would speak truth to this nonsense.

As the day went on it became obvious that these MPs were blatantly lying. The BBC’s own figures settled on the following.

Labour won 2,323 seats – up 62

Conservatives won 1,330 – down 32

Lib Dems won 536 – up 75

The Greens won 39 – up eight

UKIP won three – down 123

What in heaven’s name is their definition of ‘badly’.

There is no way the right wing of the Labour Party will tolerate Corbyn and his challenge to the consensual tweedle-dum, tweedle-dee politics of the last decades.

At the heart of this is the neo-liberal agenda of austerity for the many and riches for the few, privatisation and war.

Labour’s right wing MPs have and will actively continue to oppose any moves to the Left in their party and seem happy to sabotage a Corbyn leadership which has gathered together ½ million members. As even the ‘corporate’ media have recognised, any successes from the 3 May local elections have been attributed in no small measure to the dedication of Momentum members.

The ghostly ghouly Blair sits smiling on the shoulders of Tess and Chuka and the other right wing MPs who are ably backed by their non-recall salaries and their invitations to the front pages of the right-wing media and the comfortable sofas of BBC chat shows.

Elections and their results are important – Jess, Chuka and the BBC understand that well – which is why election results are misinterpreted, but we now need to stress that a socialist Labour Party is not just about elections. We must not return to the days of incumbency in place of insurgency, church politics in place of non-conformist dissent.

The Labour Party needs to return to the mass rallies we saw at the beginning of Corbyn’s ascendancy. Be present on picket lines and demonstrations. Stand with and lead popular protests on Grenfell and Windrush. Fight for and with the disabled and the welfare-robbed poor. Defend the NHS from the privateers. Be central to the anti-war movement and alert to those in their own ranks who have taken us to war in the past and likely to do so again – and soon.

The victory that was achieved yesterday was won by a socialist Labour Party, a party that continues to make ground, a party we should be proud to support and vote for.

Philip May profiting from wife’s military policies

Philip May

The dogs of war” were words first uttered by Mark Anthony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. “Cry Havoc,” he said, “and let slip the dogs of war.”

Enter stage right our Prime Minister’s husband, Philip John May. May is a banker and pension fund expert. He is a senior executive at Capital Group, a US investment company that controls $1.4 trillion in assets.

Capital Group’s portfolio includes JP Morgan Chase, ($7bn) Philip Morris International ($9bn), McDonald’s ($5bn) and significant investments in Amazon and Starbucks. Selling books, coffee, burgers and fags is not a crime, although some of these companies’ tax avoidance scams might be.

Since 2009, Capital Group has declared a turnover of £467 million, but declared losses of £125 million. Despite what might be considered a colossal business failure, in the same period Mr May and other Capital Group directors have pocketed £43million in salaries, pensions and other benefits.

Even the Daily Mail has said, ‘It’s very odd a business can pay substantial amounts to directors while not turning a profit.’

Capital Group proudly claim they are significant shareholders in weapons’ manufacturer, Lockheed Martin ($6.6bn), and are the largest shareholders in BAE Systems. Both companies are world leaders when it comes to profiting from death and destruction.

Before there was any evidence of a chemical attack and in a heartbeat, Theresa May hitched herself to Donald Trump’s recent air stike in Syria. It was another Groundhog Day moment, remember Iraq? Predictably, BAE share prices soared.

Meanwhile, in Yemen, the Saudis continue to bomb Yemeni wedding parties into dust with their BAE hardware.

Capital Group has been linked to the Paradise Papers scandal with Private Eye suggesting that the company uses the offshore law firm, Appleby, to arrange investments in tax havens.

Capital Group’s Cayman Island funds and Bermuda investments are channelled through a South American agriculture company. Both are offshore jurisdictions, known for zero rates of tax.

None of this presents a moral or ethical problem for the Mays. “Neither the Prime Minister nor Mr May have any direct offshore investments,” the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said recently. “Their investments have been declared to the Cabinet Office and are held in a blind trust.”

The salient words here are “direct” and “blind”. Their investments are carried out through third-party companies. “Blind” investments are truly unseen. Politicians often place their personal assets in blind trusts to avoid public scrutiny and accusations of conflict of interest. Perhaps Mrs May should have tutored Michael Cohen about this.

Talk about keeping it all in The Family. Theresa May pursues military policies that directly enrich her husband and herself, probably beyond their wildest dreams.

At least Ivanka Trump’s “lifestyle products” empire hasn’t killed anyone, although her father has blood on his tiny orange hands.

The dogs of war have been let loose and it is past time we, the people, drag them back and put them on the leash.

The right have it wrong, criticising Israel is not antisemitic

We are in the final weeks before the 3 May local elections and need to be out there talking about the Windrush scandal, the Syria missile attacks, Theresa May’s war-profiteering husband, Grenfell Tower, the plight of the disabled…. But we are having to face The Daily Express’, “Jeremy Corbyn supports anti-semitism again and again” and the Daily Mail’s “Jeremy Corbyn downplays anti-semitic abuse”.

The headlines have been hijacked by those desperate for distraction and, let it be said, with a questionable relationship to racism and fascism.

That ‘heavyweight’ historian, Michael Gove states, “At a time when people say that ‘I’m not an anti-Semite, I’m just anti-Zionist, it is important that we should say no, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

He is not alone in this but, not only is Gove wrong, he is ignorant of the historical antagonisms between Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews.

If we follow Gove we’d find a long, distinguished list of ‘anti-semitic’ Jews, from Albert Einstein to Natalie Portman.

It’s time for Gove to receive a history lesson.

Founder of Zionism at the end of the 19th century and a proponent of a Jewish homeland was Theodor Herzl. He was an admirer of the British Empire and wrote to Cecil Rhodes, he of the white settler colony named after him, Rhodesia, “You are being invited to help make history … it does not involve Africa but a piece of Asia Minor, not Englishmen but Jews … I turn to you … because it is something colonial ..”

Chaim Weizmann, who suceeded Herzl, wrote to the Manchester Guardian: “Should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence and should they encourage Jewish settlement … we could develop the country, bring back civilisation and form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal.”

Opposed to their colonialism were those who set up the Jewish Bund in Poland and Russia. They stressed the four principles of socialism, secularism, Yiddish and doyikayt or “localness.” Doyikayt was encapsulated in the Bund slogan: “There, where we live, that is our country.”

“We Bundists”, wrote one of their early leaders, Viktor Alter, “wish to shatter the existing economic frameworks and show the Jewish masses how a new society can be built not by escape, but by struggle. We link the essence of the Jewish masses’ life to that of humankind.”

The difference between the Zionists and the Bund was class. The Bund saw their liberation linked to the universal struggle against exploitation. They wanted to fight the pogromists and the bosses at the same time. The Zionists developed their movement amongst middle class Jews, frustrated by the barriers of anti-Semitism to their social ascent. Their solution was to be the creation of a colonialist state linked to existing Empires.

Today that struggle between Zionists and socialists is replicated in the Jewish ‘homeland’ itself. On the one side we have the Israeli Defence Force shooting at Palestinian children. On the other Miko Peled, the son of an Israeli General, declaring, “I don’t call it Israel … The country has a name – its called Palestine.”

In the past the tradition of struggle and anti-Zionism included not only the Bund, but the many Jews who didn’t know a Yiddish from a raddish. One of them was the leader of the Jewish Warsaw uprising, Marek Edelman. He survived the destruction of the ghetto and, in his later years, supported Palestinian liberation.

Most socialists Jews today come from this tradition.

Some of those hounded out of the Labour Party by the Labour Right and the media, Jackie Walker and Cyril Chilson for example, join a long and honourable line of Jewish activists who do not view Israel as anything more than an ‘effective guard’ for imperial interests.

That is what lies behind the attacks on Corbyn’s ‘anti-semitism’ – Support for Israel.

As Jewish and non-Jewish socialists, homage should be paid to a tradition which started with the founding of the General Jewish Workers Alliance in a Vilnius attic on 7th October 1897. The eleven people present declared the need to form “a distinctive Jewish federation of workers, which will lead and educate the Jewish proletariat in its battle for economic, civil and political liberation.” And proudly, “There, where we live, that is our country.”

In their memory and with attention to the issues I highlighted at the start of this article vote Labour on 3rd May.

The Pornography of War

 

Chemical, gas, phosphorous, even radioactive weapons are fine when used by ‘our side’ but cause for military intervention when used by our supposed ‘enemies’. An intervention which draws on stocks from the above.

Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail stated that, ‘The U.S. invasion of Iraq has left behind a legacy of cancer and birth defects suspected of being caused by the U.S. military’s extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus.’

Witnessing the birth defects in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, Jamail added: ‘They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to … What this has generated is, from 2004 we are seeing a high rate of congenital malformations in this city.’

His view was supported in an epidemiological study in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health which concluded that: ‘Fallujah is experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia and infant mortality than Hiroshima and Nagasaki did in 1945.’ (Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009).

Fourteen years later ex-UK ambassador Craig Murray writes about Syria: ‘In this extraordinary war, where Saudi-funded jihadist head choppers have Israeli air support and US and UK military “advisers”, every time the Syrian army is about to take complete control of a major jihadist enclave, at the last moment when victory is in their grasp, the Syrian Army allegedly attacks children with chemical weapons, for no military reason at all.’

There is an interesting history to chemical weapons attack accusations. The alleged chemical attack by Syrian forces in Khan Sheikhoun in 2017, led to Trump’s decision to launch a cruise missile strike against the government’s Shayrat airbase in Homs, and was accompanied by Trump’s announcement that regime change in Damascus was now a US objective. A year later, the Douma attack has also come at a critical point, just as the entire district of eastern Ghouta has been ‘liberated’ from opposition militant groups, dominated by Jaish al-Islam.

Of the 2017 attack, Theodore Postol, a leading weapons academic at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), believed that the US government did not provide any “concrete” evidence that Assad was responsible. He said: ‘I have reviewed the [White House’s] document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria at roughly 6am to 7am on 4 April, 2017’.

Today the drums of war get louder with Donald Trump tweeting his love of the ‘nice, new and smart’ missiles he is about to launch, urged on by Tony Blair and with Theresa May summoning her ‘war’ cabinet.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the OPCW, have said they are not able to verify the reports on the alleged use of chemical weapons and want to send a special mission to Douma. Looks like Trump’s missiles may get there before they do.

Craig Murray is right to warn that, ‘The massive orchestration of Russophobia over the last two years is intended to prepare public opinion for a wider military conflict centred on the Middle East, but likely to spread, and that we are approaching that endgame.’

Perhaps there is another endgame in sight and they are linked. It’s the arrival of the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse, ‘War as Diversion’.

The FBI has now raided the offices of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. He was involved in the $130,000 payment to ‘Stormy Daniels’. Apparently she can describe the President’s ‘junk perfectly’.

For the sake of the dead and the soon-to-die and for all our sanities, it is time to oppose the way our governments are fetishizing and enabling these mindless wars.

Social Media is shattering the establishment’s control of the ‘Overton Window’

The Overton Window was a term first used in the 1990s by Joseph Overton, a former Vice-President of the right-wing US Mackinac Center for Public Policy, whose founding principles stated that, “The free market is a powerful engine of economic prosperity. We look forward to the day when the myths and fears of free-market capitalism are dispelled.”

He argued that an idea’s political viability depends on whether it falls within the window. Ideas that fall outside the window are to be banished from public discourse since they are out of step with ‘public opinion’.

Notice I have used inverted commas around ‘public opinion’ and that is because that opinion is defined by those who have turned a window into a mirror. They have narcissistically placed their world view at the centre of acceptable thought. ‘Mirror mirror on the wall, whose ideas can I install? Mine of course.’

Chances are that you have never heard of Mr Overton or his window, but you can bet your bottom dollar that our corporate media have not only heard of this particular fenestra, but spend their lives staring through it and polishing the glass. They also stand guard over it and decide what is allowed into view.

And what is in view is all that is in step with the neo-liberal agenda for promoting policies based on austerity for the many and wealth for the few, racism and war. This last given the Orwellian term of ‘liberal interventionism’.

I’ve heard a BBC political commentator claim that the Overton Window keeps out extremes that are both wrong and unworkable. Read that as too left or right-wing but, wait, what about Nigel Farange frequent appearances on BBC Question Time. The window must always be allowed some latitude towards the Right.

There is nothing new about any of this. In the 1950s sociologists Lewis Coser and Ralf Dahrendorf criticised the dominant sociological theories which emphasized the consensual, conflict-free nature of societies. They talked about forces of power, interests, coercion, and conflict. By the time I was a sociology student in the 60s, even Dharendorf was conservative for us as we turned to Marx and the ‘Communist Manifesto’, published soon after the 1848 revolutions in Germany, Italy and France broke all the windows.

Speaking of which I have been reading about the current strikes in France – not much on the BBC or in The Guardian. Who cares? We now have a social media which has turned its back on allowable opinions. The window is now wide open and we can jump outside and change the view.

Corbyn is no Anti-Semite – His record on standing up to racism shows that

 

Jeremy Corbyn has become ‘the figurehead for an anti-semitic political culture.’ So says Jonathan Goldstein of the Jewish Leadership Council and headlined in The Daily Mail. He adds that the Labour leader sides with anti-Semites because of “the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism”.

If opposition to Israel is a definition of anti-semitism then add me to the list along with Corbyn’s mum and my dad. She was blocking Mosley’s fascists at Cable Street in the 1930s, while Rothermere’s Daily Mail was lauding Mussolini and Hitler. My dad was one of the first Allied medics to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when it was liberated and the photographs he showed me of the camp’s inmates resulted in my early-in-life street battles with the British Movement, forerunners of the British National Party and the National Front.

If alive today, Einstein, Freud and the leader of the Jewish Warsaw uprising would join us in this so called ‘anti-semitic political culture’.

This is what they had to say about Israel.

Einstein, “The (Israeli) state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed. It is connected with many difficulties and a narrow-mindedness. I believe it is bad.”

Freud, “I can raise no sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of a Herodian wall into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings of the natives.”

Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the 1943 Warsaw uprising opened his letter of solidarity with the Palestine resistance, with these words, “Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations – to all the soldiers of the Palestine fighting organisations ….”

This is all about Israel and the fear of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. More immediately it is about putting the breaks on a Labour landslide in the May local elections.

I have been active on the Left for 60 years and am well aware that fascism and anti-semitism nestles in the minds, actions and words of those who now attack Corbyn and the left.

The Jewish leadership Council should take account of this and read these words from my friend Shirley Franklin, “The anti-Jeremy rhetoric is sickening. As a peace and health campaigner, and as a Jew (whose great great uncle, Herbert Samuel shamefully signed the Balfour Declaration) I know it is utter rubbish to declare Jeremy Corbyn to be antisemitic. To argue for a just world for all in Palestine, Gaza and Israel is NOT antisemitic.”