Monday, January 26, 2009

Zionists for the BBC!

My wife Zsuzsanna and I discussed last night how many comment pieces from Zionists lauding the BBC's decision not to screen the Gaza appeal would be published in Monday's daily newspapers. We both agreed that it was long odds-on that The Times would publish such a piece and both agreed that Janet Daley would use her Monday column in the Daily Telegraph to argue that the BBC was right. And we both thought it was the biggest certainty of all time that Melanie Phillips would do likewise in her Daily Mail column.

And lo and behold, what do we have.

In the Daily Telegraph, Daley writes:

I am inclined to support the BBC's position, and that is not (as the anti-Zionist lobby will claim) because I am Jewish and generally, but not uncritically, pro-Israel

In the Daily Mail, veteran BBC-basher Melanie Phillips says:

"I personally believe that on this occasion the BBC has made the correct decision".

And in the most outrageous offering of all, in The Times (where else?), neocon historian Andrew Roberts pens a column entitled "The charities are guilty not the BBC".
"The Corporation is right not to run the Gaza appeal. Oxfam and others are clearly anti-Israeli."

In my post on Saturday, I talked of Britain’s "numerically small, but influential Zionist lobby" Paul D, a Zionist commenter on this blog, asked me what I was talking about. Well, Paul, try reading the odd newspaper and you’ll see what I mean.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Burns Night! -and a memory of the late, great Alistair Sim

A very happy Burns Night to all Scottish readers!

Last year on Burns Night I posted a clip of that great Scottish actor John Laurie, so this year, I thought I'd carry on the tradition and post a clip of another great Scottish thespian- the late Alistair Sim, one of my all-time favourite actors.

"He was a charming communist who had a passion for Havana cigars" was how film director Ronald Neame described Sim. Sounds ok to me. You can read more about Sim in Mark Simpson's new biography- a book I can heartily recommend.

In the clip above, from that wonderful comedy 'The Happiest Days of Your Life', Sim appears alongside another great performer- Margaret Rutherford.

Rutherford is probably most remembered today for her roles in the MGM Miss Marple films of the early/mid 1960s, but one little piece of information you might not know is that she was also the auntie of a certain socialist politican named Tony Benn.

Genius clearly does run in families.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Shame (and hypocrisy) of the BBC

I always thought that the BBC was owned by and is accountable to the British public.

It seems that I got that wrong. How else can we explain the decision by the BBC bigwigs not the screen a humanitarian appeal for the people of Gaza?

The BBC say that it wants to preserve its 'impartiality' and that broadcasting an appeal on Gaza would be too 'controversial'.

Could this be the same institution that, during the NATO war with Yugoslavia in 1999 broadcast several appeals on behalf of the Kosovan Albanians? (you can see one, above)

What happened to its commitment to 'impartiality' then?

The BBC has of course, caved into pressure from the Israeli government and from Britain's numerically small, but extremely influential Zionist lobby who do not want pictures of the death and destruction that their beloved IDF brought to Gaza on our television screens.

Over 1,300 people were killed in the Israeli invasion of Gaza- a third of them children- and international aid agencies talk of the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe there. Yet rather than raise money to help the people of Gaza, the BBC deems it more important not to upset the editor of the Zionist Jewish Chronicle.

If you want to register your disgust at the BBC's capitulation to the Zionist lobby, then you can do so in several ways.

You can call the BBC on 03700 100 222.

You can email them: Media Lens has a list of the relevant addresses here:

Or, you can join the Stop the War protest outside the Broadcasting House in London at 2pm this afternoon.

Remember: it's our BBC- if a privately-owned newspaper wants to follow a biased, pro-Zionist line, then that's their look-out, if the publicly-owned BBC wants to, then it's something different altogether.

A commenter on Media Lens' message board writes:

Tony Benn was brilliant on BBC new 24 just now on the question of the BBC Gaza appeal ban. He stunned the interviewer by immediately interrupting her by saying "seeing as the BBC will not broadcast the appeal I will, she tried to intervene but he said "you are not going to stop me" and he gave out the appeal phone no and details as well as the numbers of casualties. She looked bewildered as he angrily raged against the BBC and said "we all know who is behind this, the Israeli Government" Well done Tony Benn who refused to be curtailed by the BBC's employees. We need more of this.

Tony Benn: the greatest Living Briton- without a shadow of a doubt.

You can watch Tony Benn on BBC News 24 below. Many thanks to Dan for the link:

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Puffing President

This article of mine appears in The New Statesman.

Last Tuesday was a momentous day in American political history.

For the first time in more than 30 years, a regular smoker was installed in the White House. But whereas Gerald Ford openly puffed on his pipe in the Oval Office, it is unlikely that the new incumbent will be quite so forthcoming.

"It's not something I'm proud of," says Barack Obama of his long-standing and much-discussed cigarette habit. The 44th president certainly takes great care never to be seen smoking in public.

But is this the right move?

Historical evidence suggests that if Obama really wants to go down as a great American president, being a smoker - and a smoker not afraid to be seen smoking in public - can only enhance his chances.

James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution", was a cigar smoker throughout his presidency, and smoked right up to his death at the age of 85. The Civil War hero - and supporter of civil rights for African Americans - Ulysses S Grant smoked 20 cigars a day. In the 20th century, Franklin D Roosevelt, the man whose New Deal Obama would like to emulate, was seldom seen without his jauntily clenched cigarette holder. And Ford, who smoked on average eight pipeloads a day while in office, has been labelled America's "greatest president" by the political pundit Alexander Cockburn, simply because he did the least damage. In contrast, we can reflect that Ronald Reagan and both George Bushes were non-smokers.

Twenty-first-century America is, of course, a country where some consider smoking to be one of the seven deadly sins. But if the actress Maggie Gyllenhaal has the courage to face down the antis and light up a cigar on a live television programme, as she did in 2003, surely the US president could do likewise.

Most commentators agree that the success or failure of Obama's presidency will depend on whether he has the courage to stand up to powerful vested interests.

Lighting up a cigarette in the Oval Office would be a symbolic gesture that, at last, America has a president not afraid to be his own man.

And if Obama really wants to be another FDR, why not buy a cigarette holder?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Gaza Ghetto: After Israel Left

Pictures speak louder than words. The First Post has put together a series of photographs showing the destruction of Gaza: 'The Gaza Ghetto-After Israel left'.

The pictures are shocking, and I hope they will give those who describe themselves as 'Friends of Israel' cause to at least ponder for a while the position they take on this issue.

If you really think that the deaths of 24 Israeli citizens over the last four years from rocket attacks justifies mass murder and destruction on this scale, then I'm afraid there is something very, very wrong with your moral compass.

Why didn't he telephone Hamas?

We're told that new President Barack Obama telephoned Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas yesterday to tell them how committed he was to Middle East peace. Well, one thing yesterday tells us is that Obama is not too committed to democracy. Whether you like the fact or not, Hamas - and not Fateh- won the 2006 Palestinian elections- and as such, can be said to represent the democratic wishes of the Palestinian people.

The Zionist slogan 'Yes to Hummus, No to Hamas' might have a certain ring to it, but there can be no effective Middle East peace-deal which doesn't involve Hamas- the idea that a lasting deal can be stitched up between Tel Aviv and Fateh is naive to say the least. What Obama's actions show is that he, like his predecessors is a Henry Ford democrat. Countries have the right to elect in any colour governments they like, so long as Washington (and in the case of Hamas, Tel Aviv), approves.

If people have the temerity to vote the wrong way- as they did in Palestine in 2006, or in Federal Yugoslavia throughout the 1990s, then their elected representatives will be shunned- and if they still don't toe the line and adopt a suitably servile position, then it's time to build the air-raid shelters.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Twelve Things I'd Like the 44th President to do...

1. Face down the antis and smoke openly in public.
2. Announce that the US is going to stop giving blank cheques to Israel.
3. Ditch Joe Biden as VP and replace him with Maggie Gyllenhaal.
4. Announce that he’s going to introduce a free national health service.
5. Visit Tehran and Damascus and adopt a new, friendlier stance towards Iran and Syria.
6. Ditch Hillary The Hawk and appoint Jimmy Carter or Ramsey Clark as Secretary of State.
7. Announce that the US will only act in accordance with international law.
8. Announce that the US will pay reparations to the people of the former Yugoslavia for the illegal bombing of the country in 1999- and that it will also compensate the Iraqi people for the illegal attack on their country in 2003.
9. Announce the immediate withdrawal of US troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan.
10. Announce the closure of most of the US’s overseas military bases.
11. Stand up and say “The ‘war on terror’ was a load of old baloney- it was a neo-con smokescreen for extending US hegemony around the globe”.
12. Appoint Ralph Nader Trade Secretary.

Of course, it would be a miracle if he even does one of these things.

But wouldn’t it be nice if he did!

Anyway, that’s my wish-list. What's yours?

UPDATE: 'Nicki' has added her list in the comments below - and there's three of hers I wish I'd added to mine:

2. Ban political donations from Agents of foreign countries and corporate political donations. Cap political donations at $100. Return democracy to the American people.

12. Put all neo-cons and associated corporate racketeers on trial for high treason and crimes against humanity.

13. Transform the WB and IMF. Change the culture of American consumerism, stop encouraging usury, free people from debt, free other nations from debt. Truly bring liberty and freedom to the world.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Defence of whose Realm, Mr Brown?

Well, there was I thinking that when British servicemen and women join up to 'Defend the Realm' the realm in question was that of the United Kingdom.

It seems I got it totally wrong. British armed forces are, it seems, there to defend the Israeli Realm.

The BBC reports:

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has offered British naval resources to help monitor events in the Gaza conflict and stop weapons being smuggled in.

He wants to help ensure protection and monitoring of the crossings into Gaza.
Mr Brown said: "We will do everything we can to prevent the arms trading at the root of the problems.

So there you have it, dear British readers, our Royal Navy, funded by your taxes, is going to be working for the Israeli government.

Do we, the British people, have any say in all of this?

Our country is all but bankrupt, and our armed forces hideously overstretched, but here is our Prime Minister offering 'naval resources' to assist a foreign power.

A foreign power incidentally, which is such a 'strong ally' of Britain that it carried on selling arms to the fascist Argentinian junta of General Galtieri during the Falklands war.

You might have thought that H.M. Opposition would make a big stir about Gordon Brown's announcement. But so far, not a word. In Britain's one party state, unequivocal support for the State of Israel is, it seems not negotiable.

It's about time that changed.

UPDATE: Charlie Marks has more on this shocking, if unsurprising news.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Austrian Way

This column of mine appears in The Morning Star.

The Austrian Way

I SPENT this Christmas in Austria, a country which, thankfully, has been wise enough not to follow the British path and privatise its entire economy.

In Austria, not only are the railways still in public ownership but prices are determined by a simple distance-based system, with the price you pay determined by the number of kilometres you travel.

At rush hour, instead of fares rising to price people off the trains, Austrian State Railways simply lays on more trains with more carriages.

Even at the busiest times, travellers always get a seat, as they do in other European countries which operate under the same model.

Compare this to what happens in Britain, where commuters, having forked out a fortune for their season tickets, face years of overcrowding, because the train companies prefer to ram people like sardines into trains rather than lease extra carriages from the rolling stock companies.

It was disclosed recently that overcrowding on Britain's trains was so bad that commuters were being allocated less space than the EU minimum for transporting farm animals.

The late "One Nation" Tory Sir Ian Gilmour, a staunch critic of privatisation, called his party's proposal to privatise the railways "crazy." He was putting it mildly.

Gatwick - a living nightmare.

It used to be said that the most stressful part of flying was the flight itself. But flying is now a doddle. The real stress comes with having to deal with a privatised British airport.

On my way to Austria, I experienced the living nightmare that is Gatwick.
Herded like sheep, my family, together with thousands of other weary passengers, were told that we had to queue outside due to the lack of space inside the terminal.
And just why is there so little space inside the terminal? Because Britain's privatised airports are first and foremost shopping malls from where you can also fly, as opposed to being places to fly from with one or two shops.

The difference between the BAA-owned airports and those still in public ownership could not be more different.

While Britain's privately owned airports are widely condemned as an international disgrace, municipally owned Manchester airport is regularly voted one of the world's favourite airports by its users.

For privatisation zealots, that is, of course, unwelcome news.

Tory MP Graham Brady acknowledges that Manchester airport is a "magnificent gateway" to northern England, but still calls for its privatisation.

"Next door to my constituency, there is a thriving modern plc worth £3 billion which remains in the public sector without anyone batting an eyelid," he complains. Brady lambasts Manchester airport's "anachronistic ownership structure" as "a monument to old-fashioned municipal socialism."

As opposed of course to being a monument to old-fashioned Thatcherite dogma, like Gatwick.

Rail companies provide lousy new year tradition.

IN Germany, a long-standing new year tradition is the television screening of the classic 1960s comedy sketch Dinner For One, starring Freddie Frinton as an inebriated butler.

In privatised, neoliberal Britain, we have a different and less humorous new year custom - the announcement of above-inflation price rises by Britain's profiteering train companies.

This week, fares on Britain's railways, already by far and away the most expensive in Europe, have gone up by average of 7 per cent, with some season ticket prices rising by as much as 11 per cent.

Train companies say that the increases are necessary to pay for "much-needed investment."

If you believe that one, then I'm sure that you also believe that Israel is a force for peace in the world, that Tony Blair is a man who never tells lies and that Father Christmas is a real, living person.

The truth is that the companies are raising fares to boost their already obscenely high level of profits and to pay even higher dividends to their shareholders.
In its most recent half-year figures, the Go-Ahead Group made a pre-tax profit of £58 million, while Stagecoach recorded a £105 million surplus.

Arriva made £66 million, First Group £54 million and National Express £47 million.
These profits have been at the expense of Britain's long-suffering commuters and taxpayers who pay around four times more in subsidy to the private rail operators than they did to the much-maligned British Rail.

Only when the railways are bought back into full public ownership and run once more for the benefit of the travelling public and not wealthy shareholders will Britain's great train robbery come to an end.


Great Sage of Wokingham

REMEMBER John Redwood - the wild-eyed free-market fanatic who once challenged John Major for leadership of the Conservative Party?

On his blog, the Great Sage of Wokingham reflects on why Britain's trains are so expensive.

"There is one simple reason why train fares are so high and rising so fast - the costs of train travel are too high and rising too fast," he opines. Sorry, John, but the simple reason why train fares are so high and rising fast is because our trains are operated by profiteering plcs.

Nowhere in his article does Redwood mention the fact that Britain's railways, unlike those in Europe, are in private ownership.

Writing an article on why Britain's trains are so expensive without mentioning their ownership structure is as ridiculous, and dishonest, as writing an account of World War II without mentioning Adolf Hitler.


It's time for nationalisation

THE Campaign for Public Ownership's new website will be up and running very shortly, with details of our latest campaigns and how you can get involved.

Let's make 2009 the year that nationalisation is put firmly back onto the political agenda, not as an emergency measure to bail out failing banks and building societies but as an integral part of economic policy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Weekly Fromm: Erich Fromm on Zionism

For our first ‘Weekly Fromm’ of 2009, I thought it appropriate, in the light of events in Gaza, to post the thoughts of the great man on Zionism from 1959:

It is often said that the Arabs fled, that they left the country voluntarily, and that they therefore bear the responsibility for losing their property and their land. It is true that in history there are some instances — in Rome and in France during the Revolutions when enemies of the state were proscribed and their property confiscated.

In general international law, the principle holds true that no citizen loses his property or his rights of citizenship; and the citizenship right is de facto a right to which the Arabs in Israel have much more legitimacy than the [European] Jews. Just because the Arabs fled? Since when is that punishable by confiscation of property and by being barred from returning to the land on which a people's forefathers have lived for generations? Thus, the claim of the Jews to the land of Israel cannot be a realistic political claim. If all nations would suddenly claim territories in which their forefathers had lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse.

No doubt if Fromm were alive today and expressed such opinions he would be denounced as an ’anti-semite’, even though he was Jewish.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wally of the Week: Elizabeth Wurtzel

It is said that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. But in 2009, it's making false and unfounded accusations of anti-semitism against those who oppose Israel's brutal invasion of Gaza.

There have been many shocking examples of this phenomenon in the past few days, but the most execrable effort of all was published in today's Guardian.

It is not Israel's action, but the vitriolic reaction to it that has been disproportionate. There's only one explanation: anti-Semitism

says the blurb to Elizabeth Wurtzel's piece.

What utter claptrap.

People oppose Israel's action because it is wrong, not because it is being carried out by Jews. Zionists might find it hard to believe, but the majority of people around the globe do not approve of shelling UN schools, refugee centres and ambulances.

As one of the commenters to Ms Wurtzel's piece writes:

We now have a new definition for anti-semitism - Opposition to the killing of innocent civilians and the shelling of UN buildings. That defines the world as being 99.999999999% anti-semitic.

Despite admitting that she hasn't set foot in Europe since 2002, Wurtzel claims that Europe "has become an unbearable place to be, as the anti-American feelings in light of the Iraq war have mingled with antisemitism to a point where they are indistinguishable, the new phobias of the First World."

Again, what utter claptrap. There is a concerted campaign being waged by apologists for Israel's aggression to maintain that Europe has become an anti-semitic cesspit.

It hasn't. People's anger is rising, but it's anger directed against the state of Israel, not Jews in general.

On the subject of 'phobias', it's worth pointing out that Ms Wurtzel found fame and fortune by writing the book 'Prozac Nation' which talked about her battle with depression.

I think it would be better for all of us if she concentrated on dealing with her own phobias, instead of writing about the imaginary "new phobias" of a continent she clearly knows nothing about.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Israel's war queers the pitch for peace

This article of mine appears in The Australian.

FOR Imperial Japan it was Pearl Harbor. For the Soviet Union it was the invasion of Afghanistan. For the "1000-Year Reich" it was Operation Barbarossa.

History is littered with examples of countries and regimes that have destroyed themselves by launching ill-thought-out and over-ambitious attacks on others.

Could Israel, by its invasion of Gaza, have joined their number?

Let me declare my position from the start: I oppose the Israeli military invasion of Gaza because I believe it to be illegal and immoral. But I also believe that from Israel's point of view, Operation Cast Lead is a colossal strategic error.

There's no doubt that Israel's bombardment has inflicted damage on Hamas's military capability. But liquidating Hamas as a political and military force, as Israel's leaders hoped the operation would achieve, is another thing altogether.

Hamas now has the legitimacy of a resistance movement fighting against a foreign occupier and its popularity among Palestinians - and Muslims - across the world is likely to rise accordingly.

That's bad news for Fatah, Israel's preferred Palestinian faction, whose leaders have been denounced by Hamas and its supporters as cowards and Western collaborators.

It's not only the knock-on effects on internal Palestinian politics that should concern Israel. In the past couple of weeks there has been a significant shift in global public opinion towards the Jewish state. Despite the best efforts of its well-oiled public relations campaign and its supporters in the media, Israel's international image has taken a battering.

For many, the abiding image of the past fortnight will be the picture of a Palestinian mother weeping over the death of her five daughters, graphically displayed on the cover of The Washington Post. Israel has bombed UN schools and killed paramedics, and it stands accused of shelling a house full of refugees. We are used to Israel being condemned by radical Islamic clerics: now the condemnation comes from the UN, the Red Cross and the Vatican.

The shift in my views on Israel is, I believe, typical of many. In 1998, I attended Israel's official 50th birthday celebrations.

Last Saturday, along with at least 100,000 others, I took part in a huge anti-Israel demonstration in London. The London march was only one of many similar demonstrations across the world.

In Germany, where for obvious and understandable historical reasons criticism of Israel has been inhibited, protesters have marched with banners comparing Israel's actions with those of the Nazis in World War II. The point here is not whether such an analogy is accurate but that the comparison is now being made.

The global outrage that Israel's actions in Gaza have provoked has also given a powerful boost to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign aimed at subjecting Israel to an international boycott similar to the one that ended apartheid in South Africa.

The European Union, the world's biggest importer of Israeli goods, is under increasing pressure to suspend its recently upgraded trade agreement with Israel, while calls for a ban on arms sales to Israel have also intensified.

This wave of anti-Israel feeling is a far cry from the situation 40 years ago. In the 1960s and '70s, Israel basked in the warm glow of global public approval. Moshe Dayan, the hero of the Six-Day War, enjoyed a level of popularity that rivalled that of the day's biggest film stars, while prime minister Golda Meir was among the most respected political figures in the world.

When Israeli athletes were massacred at the Olympic village in Munich in 1972, there was widespread grief and anger.

This goodwill towards Israel, though tarnished by Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, endured until the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, an event that ushered in a more aggressive era in Israeli foreign policy. In the space of 40 years, Israel has gone from hero to villain: in 1967, 73 per cent of Europeans said they supported Israel; by 2007, 67 per cent were siding with the Palestinians.

And perhaps most worrying of all for Zionists is the fall in support for Israel in the US, where only 31 per cent of Democrats say they support the invasion of Gaza.
Zionists claim that growing public opposition to Israel signals a revival of anti-Semitism. But in fact the reason is simple.

In the wars of 1967 and 1973, Israel was seen as a country defending itself against hostile neighbours. In recent years it has been seen not as the victim but as the aggressor: both in Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza now.

Some of the more intelligent Zionists realise that the Gaza invasion is a huge own goal.

British writer and commentator Peter Hitchens, a self-described consistent hardline supporter of the Jewish state, argues the invasion of Gaza will make it much harder to persuade Arab states and their people that Israel has a right to exist.

There can be little doubt that Gaza has given the anti-Zionist movement greater momentum.

It wasn't a Hamas spokesman but a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, who declared at Saturday's march in London: "Zionism is bullshit!" When Murray told the crowd he did not accept Israel's right to exist, he received one of the loudest cheers of the day.

Israel's operations in Gaza make a two-state solution to the Middle East problem less likely, as a growing number of people begin to question the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

Operation Cast Lead also undermines Arab regimes that have friendly relations with Tel Aviv. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak's 28-year hold on power is looking increasingly vulnerable, with anti-government demonstrations taking place almost every day.

Thirty years after the Islamic revolution in Iran, the coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt would be a disaster for Israel, but it is an outcome that becomes more likely each day the Gaza offensive continues.

Israel's leaders say that they had no alternative but to launch the attack on Gaza in the light of Hamas rocket attacks.

But it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the decision to invade owed less to concerns over Israel's long-term security than to an attempt to secure the ruling Kadima-Labour Party coalition's return to power in the forthcoming general election.

"I have some good news," declared Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian academic and prominent Hamas supporter, at Saturday's London rally. "Israel has dug its grave."

Some will dismiss such talk as wishful thinking. But there are plenty of reasons for believing that he could be right.

Many thanks for your support

Many thanks for your terrific support in the 2008 weblog awards. We pulled 1,014 votes- just short of last year's total, which was a great achievement, seeing that this year's poll took place during Orthodox Christmas week and many of our Serbian and Russian readers were away from their computers. In addition, I've received a complaint that in Russia the voting circle on the screen did not appear: that's something the organisers are looking into.

Last year our total of 1,116 votes was enough to win the Best UK Blog award by a distance, this year though, hitting the 1,000 mark got us fourth place. But seeing that we were up against the blog representing Britain's second biggest city- Birmingham-and which was touted in the Birmingham media and on the websites of the city's MPs -and one hosted by The Spectator, we did really well to get as many votes as we did.

Congratulations to 'Created in Birmingham', who subject to official confirmation, are the winners of the 2008 award.

Update: The Exile has more on the awards here.

Friday, January 09, 2009

2008 weblog awards: your support is required!

Many thanks for all those who have voted to date for this blog in the 2008 Weblog awards, Best UK Blog category. We've polled almost 600 votes to date, but are now over 800 votes behind the warmongering, fanatical Zionist Melanie Phillips, who is picking up a lot of 'overnight' votes from the U.S.

It's not all over yet however and if you keep the votes coming in then you never know what might happen- there are still a full four days to go before polling ends (at 10pm GMT on Tuesday, not Monday as previously mentioned). Remember, you are allowed to vote every 24 hours from the same computer. You can vote here, and also by clicking the Awards logo on the right.

Also, please try and spare ten seconds or so to vote for fellow socialist anti-war blogger Madam Miaow in the Culture Blog vote, she needs your support too.

Many thanks, and wherever you are in the world, do try and get to an anti-war march tomorrow, it's so important that we all come together to register our total disgust at what Israel is doing to the hapless civilians of Gaza. Details of the London march can be found here.

Israel (and the BNP) v The World

So there you have it. Israel responds to a UN Security Council Resolution calling for an immediate end to its assault on Gaza by stepping up its assault on Gaza, with 50 new air strikes.

But it isn't quite accurate to say that Israel stands alone. The far-right British National Party is standing fully behind Israel.

What's that saying about birds of a feather?

Israel sinks to new depths of depravity

The Times reports:

The United Nations has cited witnesses accusing Israeli troops of evacuating scores of Palestinians – including children – into a house in Gaza on Sunday and then shelling the property 24 hours later, killing approximately 30 people.

Just hours after calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the UN cited witnesses of the alleged attack in the house in Zeitun, an eastern Gaza city neighbourhood.

The UN said that "according to several testimonies, on January 4, Israeli foot soldiers evacuated approximately 110 Palestinians into a single-residence house in Zeitun (half of whom were children) warning them to stay indoors. 24 hours later, Israeli forces shelled the home repeatedly, killing approximately 30".

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) described it as "one of the gravest incidents since the beginning of operations" by Israeli forces in Gaza on December 27.

It's not only the UN which has lost patience with Israel's actions. The International Red Cross too has condemned Israel for obstructing its operations and for blatant breaches of humanitarian law.

On this blog we've had a lively debate this week as to whether Israel's brutal actions in Gaza can be equated to those of the Nazis. The case of those who maintain that they cannot gets weaker by the hour.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

European protestors dare to mention the Holocaust

Here's my article from The First Post on how European reticence to criticise Israel- a reticence based on feelings of guilt over the Holocaust is fading- and why there is nothing anti-semitic about the strong anti-Israel feelings sweeping the continent.

UPDATE: Since my article was written, the Vatican's Justice Minister, representing an institution which, in the past, has felt inhibited about criticising Israel too strongly, has said that Israel's bombardment of Gaza has turned the area into a "big concentration camp".

“As a Jew, it's very moving to see so many people who are so outraged at Israel's actions," said the comedian Alexei Sayle after Saturday's 10,000-strong anti-war protest in London. He would certainly be moved by the reaction of the people of Europe to Israel's military aggression.

Last weekend thousands of Europeans took part in anti-Israel demonstrations. In Paris, around 25,0000 demonstrators, many wearing Palestinian headscarves, marched through the city chanting slogans such as "Israel killers" and "We are all Palestinians". In the Netherlands, thousands marched through Amsterdam, criticising the Israeli attacks and the Dutch government's failure to condemn them. One banner declared: "Anne Frank is turning in her grave. Oh Israel!"

Protestors have not been afraid to compare Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazis' treatment of the Jews. In Stockholm, protestors set fire to an Israeli flag painted with a swastika. In Madrid more than 1,000 people marched, many carrying banners equating Zionism with Nazism. One banner declared: "This is not a war but a genocide".

Some of the biggest demonstrations were in countries where for historical reasons, people have previously felt particularly inhibited about expressing criticism of the Jewish state. In Salzburg in Austria around 2,500 people took to the streets. In Germany there were sizeable demonstrations in several cities: around 10,000 people protested in Frankfurt, a further 7,000 in Berlin. In Dusseldorf protestors held up a doll representing a bleeding baby with the placard "Made in Israel".

The significance of these protests cannot be underestimated. For most of the first 60years of its existence, Israel got an easy ride from Europeans due to European guilt over the Holocaust. But as revulsion over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians grows, the 'Holocaust card' - long used by Zionists in order to stifle legitimate debate over Israel's actions - no longer has the same impact.

Zionists will, of course, claim that the growing European opposition to Israel is a sign that the continent is reverting to anti-semitism; the staunchly pro-Israel commentator Melanie Phillips has already dismissed the anti-Israel protestors as "leftists, Jew-haters, Muslims and useful idiots".

But the most striking thing about the demonstrations to date has been the absence of anti-semitism. Anger is rising across Europe, but it is anger directed against the state of Israel - not Jews in general; in fact in some demonstrations, such as the one in London, Jewish groups themselves took part.

"Everybody is somebody's Jew. And the Palestinians are the Jews of the Israelis", the Jewish writer and holocaust survivor Primo Levi once famously remarked. It seems an increasing number of people across Europe are coming to the same conclusion.

UPDATE: For a shocking example of a Zionist playing the 'Holocaust card' to defend/apologise for Israel's actions in 2009 in Gaza, take a look at this piece by The Times' Chief Leader writer and tireless Israel propagandist Daniel Finkelstein.
They say that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel- in 2009 it's using The Holocaust to defend/apologise for Israel's war crimes.

Hat tip: The Exile.

John Pilger on Gaza

"Every war Israel has waged since 1948 has had the same objective: expulsion of the native people and theft of more land. But why are we in the west silent on this truth?"

You can read the rest of John's brilliant New Statesman article on Gaza, here.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The 2008 Weblog Awards

Many thanks for your support in the 2008 weblog awards: please keep the votes coming in- and remember you can vote once every 24 hours from the same computer. You can vote here.

Another request: could you also spare 10 seconds or so to cast a vote for Madam Miaow’s blog in the poll for Best Culture Blog? Madam Miaow aka Anna Chen, has a wonderful blog- combing socialist and anti-war commentary with lots of interesting features on the arts. It deserves to win. Many thanks again.

UPDATE: We need those votes more than ever- as Melanie Phillips has gone into strong overnight lead. She's put an appeal for votes on her Spectator blog and judging by the comments from her supporters there's no doubt that her victory would be held as evidence of support for Israel's actions in Gaza.

Христос се роди и срећна Нова година!

A very happy Christmas (and Happy New Year) to all Serbian readers!

And the same to all our friends in Russia!

Viva Venezuela!

Venezuela has become the first country to expel the Israeli Ambassador from its country in protest over Israel's invasion of Gaza.

The Holocaust, that is what is happening right now in Gaza," Hugo Chavez (above), the Venezuelan president, said in televised comments.
"The president of Israel at this moment should be taken to the International Criminal Court together with the president of the United States."

Let's hope more countries have the courage to follow suit.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Those 'moderate' Israelis strike again

The day before yesterday it was a crowded mosque at prayer. Yesterday, it was an ambulance. Today those oh so 'moderate' Israelis- you know the ones who, according to Melanie Phillips and other Zionist propagandists, are defending 'civilisation' by invading Gaza, excelled themselves. They bombed not just one, but two schools.

In Jabaliya, at least 41 people died when Israeli tanks shelled a UN school - a school which the UN insists was clearly marked. Earlier three young men – all cousins – died when the Israelis bombed another UN school, the Asma primary school in Gaza City. And as if this was not enough, at least 12 members of an extended family, including seven young children, were killed in an air strike on their house in Gaza City.

When is the world going to say 'enough is enough' an order an immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Gaza? And then make sure that those responsible for such crimes against humanity answer for their crimes?

Monday, January 05, 2009

The 2008 Weblog Awards

This blog has made the shortlist for the ‘Best UK’ Blog at the 2008 Weblog Awards, the largest of all the blogging awards, in terms of votes cast. Last year , thanks to your support, we won the award at a canter, polling almost twice as many votes as the second placed contestant. But that doesn’t mean that it’ll be just as easy to win this year.

The rules are the same as last year: you can vote once every 24 hours from the same computer. Voting closes on 13th January- you can cast your vote here.. Simply click on the circle next to the name of the blog.

All votes are greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: Melanie Phillips, yes 'Mad' Melanie Phillips, the woman who thinks Israel's actions in Gaza are "moral" and that the IDF is defending "civilisation" is currently leading the poll, having already received over 100 votes. She's clearly picking up the US Zionist vote- having gone from nowhere at bedtime UK time to a clear lead by the morning. In a week where the citizens of Gaza face death and destruction for having the temerity to vote the wrong way, I think it would be shocking if such an outspoken supporter of Israeli aggression won the 'Best UK Blog' award, don't you? Then, let's do something about it. Keep those votes coming in, and remember you can vote once every 24 hours from the same computer.

Israel "defends civilisation"- by shelling ambulances

Israel may or may not eventually manage to stop the Hamas rockets. But the Middle East conflict will not end until and unless the West comes to realise that Israel is in the frontline of the West’s own fight for survival, and starts properly defending the country struggling to defend civilisation....

Über Zionist Melanie Phillips, writing in today’s Daily Mail.

I wonder if Ms Phillips can explain how she thinks that shelling ambulances and killing paramedics is ‘defending civilisation’?

UPDATE: On her blog, Ms Phillips writes:

I have been absolutely overwhelmed today by messages pouring in following my column in the Daily Mail on the Gaza crisis. From these messages I have learned the following:
There is a large groundswell of support for Israel and detestation of Hamas; this is evident among people who are neither Jews nor evangelical Christians (who are usually pro-Israel) and have had no particular view about the Middle East one way or another. This in my view is a significant shift of opinion towards Israel amongst ordinary people.
There is a large groundswell of fury at the BBC in particular but also the print media for what people perceive to be morally bankrupt reporting, with gross prejudice against Israel and the ruthless delivery of Hamas propaganda...

Ms Phillips titles her blog post: Decency v Bigotry. You really couldn't make it up, could you?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Those 'moderate' Israelis strike again

The shells could not have fallen at a worse time. Yesterday's afternoon prayers in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya were unusually busy because worshippers had abandoned their evening prayers in the belief that if the Israelis planned to strike, they would do so at night.

But as the townspeople left the mosque at dusk, the explosions began, killing at least 12 people, six of whom were children. They came only hours before the Israeli ground offensive was launched into Gaza.

You can read more about yesterdays bombing of a crowded mosque in Gaza during afternoon prayers, by Israeli forces here.

Read it, and read about the other attacks on civilians carried out by Israel these past few days, and then ponder these words of Israeli's Foreign Minister Tzipni Livni, in her address to The Knesset.

The true conflict is between the extremist elements and the moderates in the region.

Well, I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I don’t think 'moderates' bomb a crowded place of worship and kill 12 people at prayer, do you?

Friday, January 02, 2009

Daniel Barenboim: Great Musician, Great Human Being

I always enjoy watching the New Years Day concert from Vienna, but this year was something special- the first time the Musikverein concert was conducted by the great Daniel Barenboim (pictured above). Barenboim, a Jew, has been an outspoken supporter of the rights of the Palestinians. Instead of just criticising Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, which he has called ‘morally abhorrent’, Barenboim has done all he can to build bridges between Jew and Arab communities in the Middle East-forming, with his great friend the late Edward Said, the West Eastern Divan Orchestra- consisting of both Jewish and Arab musicians.

After yesterday’s concert he told the audience that he hoped that 2009 would be a "year of peace in the world and of human justice in the Middle East." In a separate statement, Barenboim also said that Jews, more than anyone else, should know that killing innocent humans was inhuman and unacceptable- a clear reference to the Jewish experience of the Holocaust.

If only there were more people like Daniel Barenboim in the world. A great musician- and a great human being- someone who has transcended his own background and religion and who puts the cause of common humanity first.

On the subject of Israel’s aggression against the people of Gaza, you can read the details of tomorrow’s Stop the War organised march- and mass protest outside the Israeli Embassy in London -here.

And if you’d like to publicise other similar demonstrations in your country- please feel free to do so in the comments section below.