Saturday, 22 August 2015

Another Holocaust Denier Linked to Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has been a Patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign since at least 2003. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) was founded in 1982 but almost collapsed in 1998. One of its executive members, Francis Clark-Lowes, helped "resuscitate" it by serving as its National Chair between 1998 and 2001. Later he served as one of its Directors.

Francis Clark-Lowes is a Holocaust Denier and was obsessed with "Jewish power" from the beginning of his involvement with the PSC.

In January 1999 he wrote to his fellow members of the PSC committee urging the PSC to recruit more Jews because "non-Israeli Jews in the West are, as a body, an extremely potent force". In the same note he complained that:

"only rather bland statements follow about the unworthy use of ‘the holocaust’ [his quotation marks], and anything which might conceivably be construed as revisionism is avoided like the plague."

In May 1999 Clark-Lowes told a conference that:

"a cursory review of holocaust literature reveals that most of the books on this subject are written by Jews, and their almost exclusive concern is the suffering of Jews. I ask myself whether this process has more to do with buttressing the ‘fantasy’ ... of Jewish identity than with understanding the nature of atrocity...At the risk of being labelled a revisionist...I want to suggest that there is something wrong with the use of the Nazi atrocities for this purpose...It is for this reason I find it better to avoid the word ‘holocaust’, and to refer instead to ‘Nazi massacres’, or ‘Nazi atrocities’.

In 2000, he wrote to all member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign suggesting that they should engage with Jews because "they are more likely to be interested and to have the power to influence Israeli politics than any other group. Their influence on those in the West with the power to exert pressure where it matters is also likely to be greater."

Clark-Lowes is a close friend of Paul Eisen - the self-declared Holocaust Denier whose events Corbyn has attended. In 2005 when Eisen declared himself to be a Holocaust Denier, Clark-Lowes defended him, writing that "unconsciously or consciously almost all criticism of Israel and support for the Palestinians undergoes a process of amendment to comply with the demands of Jewish power." and that "Whatever the truth about the Nazi atrocities, we agree, I think, that Finkelstein is correct is describing 'the Holocaust' as an industry. To me that industry is a tangible representation of Jewish power."

Clark-Lowes himself eventually came clean declaring "I am proud to call myself a ‘Holocaust denier.’"

Eventually, Clark-Lowes was expelled from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in 2011 and appealed at its AGM in January 2012. In his appeal speech he spoke of the "Holocaust myth" and the need to challenge "Jewish ideology". The members of the PSC voted to uphold the expulsion - although 20% refused to do so.

Jeremy Corbyn was present at that AGM!

So once again Corbyn is faced with awkward questions about his relationship with a Holocaust Denier. When did he become a Patron of the PSC? How many events organised by Clark-Lowes has he attended? How may meetings has he had with Clark-Lowes? When did he become aware that the PSC was being run by a Holocaust Denier?

What explanations will Corbyn come up with to explain yet another association with a Holocaust Denier?

Monday, 17 August 2015

Why a Corbyn Win Might be Good for the Jews

It is looking increasingly likely that Jeremy Corbyn will be elected to lead the Labour Party and this is causing concern among Britain's Jews because of Corbyn's links to antisemites. I think that a Corbyn win could be very good for the Jews precisely because of those links. Here's why.

My starting point is to ask what we're all so worried about? Yes Jeremy Corbyn has come into close contact with a significant number of people who are antisemitic and this suggests that he does not take the issue very seriously. But is there anybody seriously suggesting that Corbyn himself is antisemitic? I don't think so. And I don't think he is. So what damage can he do to Britain's Jews if elected Labour leader?

If he wins, he will be given a much stronger platform from which to spread his far-left anti-Israel position. That may, in turn, fuel higher levels of antisemitism. But we already hear that position regularly whenever there is a flare-up in the fighting. Corbyn may have a stronger platform if he wins but that platform will bring with it a stronger level of scrutiny, beyond what he is used to. His anti-Israel position will be challenged in a way it has not been before. We have already seen how badly he deals with those kind of challenges (see his Channel 4 News interview).

As a candidate and front-runner in the leadership campaign he is already coming under attack because of his links to antisemitism but so far he is getting away with not answering the questions that those links raise. He will get no such lee-way as Leader of the Opposition.

For a short time (before Corbyn is forced out) there will be an opportunity to shine a spotlight on pro-Palestinian antisemitism like never before. It might not be politically fatal to Corbyn but hopefully it will be for pro-Palestinian antisemitism.

Am I being hopelessly naive? Is this just wishful thinking? Or do you agree with my analysis? Please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Jeremy Corbyn and Hezbollah

Jeremy Corbyn has never been shy of his long-standing support for the Palestinian cause. He is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and regularly talks at pro-Palestinian rallies. This association, however, seems to be coming back to haunt him somewhat.

About a month ago he was asked on Channel 4 News about a video in which he spoke of "our friends from Hezbollah" and "friends from Hamas". During the questioning he got quite angry but went on to say that he used the term in a "collective way" but that he does not agree with either Hamas or Hezbollah.

This week, the Daily Mail reported that Corbyn had written a letter of support on behalf of Rev Stephen Sizer who had posted links to antisemitic material on his facebook page. Rev Sizer posted a link to an article entitled "9/11 Israel did it" and commented "Is this antisemitic?...It raises so many questions." This, of course, was not the only time Rev Sizer had done something like this and many similar examples can be seen in this article by Daphne Anson.

According to the Daily Mail, Corbyn wrote to Church authorities claiming that:
"Reverend Stephen Sizer seems to have come under attack by certain individuals intent on discrediting the excellent work that Stephen does in highlighting the injustices of the Palestinian Israeli situation."
In the same article Corbyn's links to Paul Eisen's Deir Yassin Remembered organisation is discussed. Eisen is an avowed Holocaust denier writing:
"I question that there ever existed homicidal gas-chambers… Deny the Holocaust! For my money, a child of six can see that something's not right about the Holocaust narrative... For me, "Holocaust Denier" is a label I accept."
According to the Daily Mail article, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign disowned the group in 2007. But this is actually not true. Tony Greenstein tabled a motion at their 2007 AGM calling for such a move on the basis of DYR's antisemitism but the motion was actually rejected. Corbyn's office rejected any connection between Corbyn and Eisen but would not comment on the claim that Corbyn donated money to Eisen or that he attended their events. He was also not available to comment on his connections with Rev Sizer.

In my opinion the question of donating money to DYR in its early days is not relevant. At that time nobody knew it would become a vehicle for antisemitism and Holocaust denial. But what cannot be denied is that Jeremy Corbyn's involvement with the pro-Palestinian movement has brought him into close contact with some unsavoury characters.

His endorsement of Rev Sizer is not a one-off. In 2012 Corbyn was one of the main speakers at the Al Quds Day rally in London. One of the other main speakers was, of course, Rev Sizer. For many years now, the rally has been a vehicle for support of Hezbollah. From at least 2006 these rallies have featured Hezbollah flags and placards declaring "We are all Hezbollah". 2012 was no exception as pictures from the organisers and others show.

In fact, here is Jeremy Corbyn himself posing in front of a Hezbollah flag at the 2012 rally:
Jeremy Corbyn poses in front of a Hezbollah flag

He says he does not agree with what Hezbollah do but he certainly seems to have no problem associating with those who do.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Conveyor-Belts and Suicide-Belts

Recently, David Cameron made a speech about extremism and in it he said:

"any strategy to defeat extremism must confront, head on, the extreme ideology that underpins it... as we counter this ideology, a key part of our strategy must be to tackle both parts of the creed – the non-violent and violent. This means confronting groups and organisations that may not advocate violence – but which do promote other parts of the extremist narrative."

Anonymous Mugwump took this to mean that Cameron had signed up to the "conveyor-belt" theory of Islamism which argues that non-violent Islamism leads to violent Islamist terrorism. AM argues very strongly that this is incorrect and, as usual, provides numerous academic and non-academic sources to back up that view. AM argues that "there is no causality between Islamism and terrorism" and his sources show that support for Islamism doesn't make someone any more likely to support terrorism.

David Paxton has written a strong rebuttal arguing that Cameron did not mean to invoke the "conveyor-belt" theory, rather he meant that Islamism provides the "mood music" (as Maajid Nawaz puts it) for violent Islamism.  He says that there is a link between Islamism and terrorism even if it is true that being an Islamist doesn't make you more likely to be a terrorist.

This is obviously a crucial question and, with some hesitation, I think both AM and DP are both right and wrong. 

AM's point (as I have understood it) is that supporting the Islamist ideology does not make you more likely to become a terrorist or to undertake acts of violence. Therefore tackling non-violent Islamist groups will not reduce terrorism. DP's response that the Islamist ideology is inherently violent because it supports state violence may be true but not really relevant to the discussion about reducing terrorism in Britain. 

DP argues that even if it is true that there is a personality type that is drawn to terrorism, there nevertheless has to be an Islamist ideology in existence for there to be Islamist terrorists. He writes:

"The people who might follow the path that ends with terrorism would still be considered fairly ‘normal’ in society in terms of their characteristics and potential before they start on the path. The same person with a tendency towards that search for excitement and adventure might go to the Army after growing up with one identity and to Jihadist organisations if growing up with another. The variable is the alternative identity and its viability. So even if there is no movement between the two Islamist groupings (I suggest this is unlikely and that we do not have the studies yet to be conclusive either way), the non-terrorist Islamist is still assisting the development of the violent one by creating, propagating and articulating the grievance, the cause, the ideal and the identity. They are also assisting by working against the validity of the alternative identity, namely that of the country they live in."
In other words, the kind of person drawn to terrorism could have channelled those characteristics in a productive way and would have done so had it not been for the existence of Islamism. I think this is very similar to what Maajid Nawaz writes:

"despite the absence of empirical evidence either way, what cannot be denied is that there is a relationship, a link, to whatever extent, between believing that it is okay to kill apostates, and actually killing them. It is silly to deny that a pre-requisite for the act of killing apostates, is the belief that it is okay to kill them."
Well, firstly, there is empirical evidence which AM provides. But more importantly he's absolutely right, it is silly. So silly, in fact, that I don't think anybody would suggest it. Of course an Islamist terrorist must sign up to the Islamist ideology. But that isn't actually the question we need to answer. 

What we are concerned with is stopping terrorism and that means identifying its causes. As AM argues very strongly, adherence to non-violent Islamism is not one of those causes. Rather, there is something innate in a person that leads them on the path to violence. If that is true then tackling non-violent Islamism will not reduce terrorism.

DP argues that the existence of the Islamist ideology drives them on a specific path to terrorism and that without that specific ideology they would channel their innate characteristics towards something else. The problem with that argument is that there are plenty of ideologies and paths that lead a person to terrorism. In Europe, only a tiny proportion of terrorist incidents are the result of Islamist terrorism. If the Islamist ideology disappeared overnight, the person drawn to a path of terrorism would find plenty more to follow.

So it would seem that AM is correct and that there is no causal link between Islamism and terrorism. The kind of person who is going to become a terrorist would become one even without the existence of the Islamist ideology. However, there is one vital point which DP alludes to and which I think makes Cameron's approach vital and that is the nature of the terrorism.

An Islamist terrorist is signed up to the Islamist ideology and that seems to include the desire to murder apostates. As a result, Islamist terrorism is more deadly than other forms. Despite making up only a very small proportion of the total number of terrorist incidents in Europe, Islamist terrorism is responsible for the vast majority of the deaths from terrorism in Europe. This is not because the other terrorist groups are incompetent, it is because the Islamist terrorist wants to murder as many random people as possible whereas other terrorist groups do not.

In this regard, if the Islamist ideology disappeared overnight we would not have fewer terrorists but we would have fewer deaths from terrorism. In this regard there is a causal link between Islamism and terrorism. On this basis, if our aim is to reduce the damage caused by terrorism then tackling the Islamist ideology is a crucial part of the fight. In short, we are not aiming to stop the conveyor-belt but we should aim to stop the suicide belt.

Friday, 9 March 2012

BDS Still Desperate

While not as bad as highlighting a "victory" from 2003, the London BDS group is still desperate to find events to crow about. Their latest is the story that Veolia was fined £130,000 for breaches of security law that led to the death of a worker near Aylesbury.

I'm not going to comment on the logic or morality of using the death of a company employee in Britain as a political weapon against Israel, I'll just point out that the death was in 2004 and the fine handed down in 2010.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

BDS Antisemitism in Birmingham

Mark Gardner at The CST highlights a youtube video of BDS activity in Birmingham. The campaigners in it visit a number of Tesco shops placing stickers on Israeli products before piling them into trolleys and leaving them in the aisles or bagging areas with anti-Israel posters. Amongst the Israeli goods targeted were, in the words of one activist, "loads of kosher stuff."

I don't think BDS is inherently antisemitic. I think it is wrong and counter-productive and some of its proponents may be motivated by an antipathy towards the Jewish people. However, trying to get people not to buy Israeli oranges and encouraging Tesco not to stock Israeli peppers is not an inherently antisemitic campaign.

Nevertheless, targeting the Kosher section is antisemitic in effect. Because its effect is to encourage Tesco not to have a Kosher section which harms British Jews as Jews. Below are some pictures from the video showing the campaigners focussing on Kosher products.
Happy Passover? Not if these BDS Campaigners can help it.
Scouring the Kosher section for Israeli products

BDS campaigners don't want Tesco selling Kiddush wine to Jews
Or Sabbath Candles

Or Kosher soup

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

BDS Getting Desperate

You know things are bad for a campaign when it has to go back to past events. But how bad must it be when their latest victory is 9 years old?

London BDS posted the following tweet last night:

Follow the link and you'll see that the event referred to happened in 2003!