Media 99: Anti-semitism campaign a fabrication – Norman Finkelstein charges the British elite & its media
Richard House has drawn attention to the latest Media Lens report: ‘Suspending Chris Williamson – The Fury And The Fakery’ – which includes a comment in a forceful and eloquent video by American political scientist, activist, professor and author, Norman Finkelstein (right), whose mother survived the Warsaw Ghetto, the Majdanek concentration camp and two slave labour camps and whose father was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Auschwitz concentration camp. He writes:
‘Corbyn . . . did not present a threat only to Israel and Israel’s supporters, he posed a threat to the whole British elite. Across the board, from the Guardian to the Daily Mail, they all joined in the new anti-semitism campaign . . . this whole completely contrived, fabricated, absurd and obscene assault on this alleged Labour anti-semitism, of which there is exactly zero evidence, zero.’
Media Lens points out that more than 150 Labour MPs and peers – the “infamously pro-war, Blairite section of the party have added to the propaganda blitz by protesting against the decision to readmit Williamson in a statement led by the bitterly anti-Corbyn deputy leader Tom Watson”.
A recent blog on the Jewish Voices for Labour site also stated that a “hostile, personal campaign is being waged against Chris, who is a hard-working and diligent MP with great standing in his constituency and a strong record of anti-racist campaigning”.
It adds: “This country stands in desperate need of a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, aiming to unite people around protection and promotion of hard won rights and services, the party needs the dedication and principled commitment of Chris Williamson and others like him”.
In 2018, Noam Chomsky commented on this campaign: ‘The charges of anti-Semitism against Corbyn are without merit, an underhanded contribution to the disgraceful efforts to fend off the threat that a political party might emerge that is led by an admirable and decent human being, a party that is actually committed to the interests and just demands of its popular constituency and the great majority of the population generally, while also authentically concerned with the rights of suffering and oppressed people throughout the world. Plainly an intolerable threat to order.’ (Chomsky, email to Media Lens, 9 September 2018).
He commented on these issues again this month in correspondence with journalist Matt Kennard:
‘The way charges of anti-Semitism are being used in Britain to undermine the Corbyn-led Labour Party is not only a disgrace, but also – to put it simply – an insult to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The charges against Chris Williamson (right) are a case in point. There is nothing even remotely anti-Semitic in his statement that Labour has “given too much ground” and “been too apologetic” in defending its record of addressing “the scourge of anti-Semitism” beyond that of any other party, as he himself had done, on public platforms and in the streets.’
Media Lens’ challenging conclusion asks what sanction the Labour Party should put on those politicians who personally voted to authorise illegal British and US wars in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria – acts which did not merely offend but killed, maimed and displaced millions of people, bringing whole countries to their knees.
It’s official: arms trading countries note: “Wars and conflicts are driving hunger in a way never seen before”
In 1991, the writer stopped standing orders to the largest charities after making a report with cut & pasted text and photographs from their own newsletters (pre-computer), documenting a three-year cycle:
- poignant appeals every Christmas for money to help war-torn Sudan, Ethiopia and Mozambique.
- followed by a cease-fire and aid for the victims
- and rebuilding destroyed schools and hospitals
- followed by renewed conflict and destruction
- and further appeals
Only one aid charity said, throughout this period, “there can be no development without peace”.
The reports were sent to the various headquarters and all replied courteously, agreeing that the accounts were correct and giving lip-service to the peace cause. Though there are still low-level conflicts in Sudan, following the first attack on Iraq and the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, there have been increasing levels of death and destruction in the Middle East.
Thousands of air strikes on this region – execution without trial – are killing people. destroying buildings, roads, bridges and damaging the water and electricity supplies. All rarely reported in the mainstream British media – perhaps because the government aids the American ‘coalition’-led onslaught, using ‘special forces’ deployed without parliamentary agreement.
Peter Hitchens summarised our country’s recent record:
“We are not morally perfect ourselves, with our head-chopping aggressive Saudi friends, our bloodstained Iraq and Libyan adventures, and our targeted drone-strike killings of British citizens who joined IS”.
60% of the 815 million chronically hungry people—those who do not know where they will get their next meal—live in areas experiencing armed conflicts.
Jessica Corbett has written an article following the release of the World Food Program (WFP) Global Report on Food Crises on Thursday, which found that “conflict continued to be the main driver of acute food insecurity in 18 countries—15 of them in Africa or the Middle East.”
Addressing the U.N. Security Council by video on Friday, World Food Program (WFP) executive director David Beasley reported that, largely due to armed conflicts, there has been “a staggering and stomach-churning 55 percent increase” in the number of acutely hungry people worldwide over the past two years, according to the head of the U.N. food agency. Millions of people are severely, even desperately, hungry.
Our friend and ally
The globe’s largest arms companies sold $370.7 billion worth of military equipment last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri). The United States dominates the trade, accounting for $209.7 billion of the global total in 2015.
A warning about mounting conflict in the Sahel
Addressing the U.N. Security Council by video on Friday, David Beasley issued a specific warning about mounting conflicts in Africa’s greater Sahel region, noting, “In the five core countries of the Sahel—Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania—acute malnutrition has risen 30 percent in the past five years.”
– but no reference to the potential consequence of the encirclement and taunting of Russia
As Peter Hitchens said, we have no real quarrel with Russia: “We have made it up out of nothing, and now we are losing control of it. If Britain really wants a war with Russia, as our Government seems to, then Russia will provide that war. But it will not be fought according to the Geneva Conventions. It will be fought according to the law of the jungle”. He asks:
“Before we embark on this, could someone explain why we actually want such a war? We are a minor power on the edge of Europe. What national interest does it serve? What do we gain from it? And will we win it?”
David Beasley said that the Global Report shows the magnitude of today’s crises, but also that “if we bring together political will and today’s technology, we can have a world that’s more peaceful, more stable, and where hunger becomes a thing of the past.” His vitally important message:
“The fighting must stop now and the world must come together to avert these crises happening right in front of our eyes”.
People in Iraq, Libya and Yemen are desperate for strong and stable government. Theresa May is partly why they don’t have it, says Steve Beauchampé.
The General Election campaign has returned after last week’s brief hiatus and with it a volley of unedifying Conservative attacks on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s historic support for a united Ireland and the Palestinian people, highlighting the most tenuous of links and associations.
Yet serious examination of Jeremy Corbyn’s activism shows him to have been on the right side of history and ahead of mainstream public opinion time and again, standing up for anti-racist and anti-apartheid causes, refugees and asylum seekers, gender equality, the LGBT community, environmental issues, animal rights and the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and self-expression long before such things gained widespread acceptance. Perhaps not surprising then that when you campaign in support of so many marginalised groups and outsider causes that you will from time to time encounter those whose frustrations and sense of powerlessness has led them to step outside of the law.
As regards Irish republicanism Corbyn’s attempts to achieve conflict resolution through dialogue may at times have been naive, but were his actions so dissimilar to the approach adopted around the same time by MI5 and later by John Major, both of whom ultimately realised that a decades-old conflict, whose death toll was inexorably rising, could not be won solely by military means?
But whilst Jeremy Corbyn’s peripheral rôle in the republican cause has been (and continues to be) pored over and examined by his opponents half a lifetime later, the record and judgement of Theresa May with regard to much more recent UK military interventions requires equally forensic scrutiny given her claims to be a fit and proper person to lead Britain.
And frankly, history’s judgement on this aspect of Theresa May is unlikely to be generous. After first being elected an MP in 1997, she voted in favour of the 2003 invasion of Iraq (having already supported the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in the frenzied post-9/11 atmosphere). Like so many of her colleagues on the opposition Conservative benches at the time, May failed to hold the Blair government to account despite the widely expressed caution of many experts over both the reasons for going to war and the lack of a post-conflict plan to stabilise Iraq. Instead, May limply and dutifully gave her support.
What followed for Iraqis has been almost fifteen years of societal breakdown throughout large parts of this once architectural, cultural and scholastic gem of a nation, with swathes of land occupied until recently by Islamic State and a fracturing of the country along religious, sectarian and tribal lines in a way that will be hard, if not impossible, to heal.
By 2011, and as the then Home Secretary in the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government, Theresa May backed the Anglo/Franco-led military action in Libya, which despite its billing as merely creating a no-fly zone to protect civilians and rebel fighters, mainly located in the east of the country, quickly escalated into regime change, culminating in the overthrow and lynching of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Again, as a senior government minister Theresa May ignored warnings that historic tribal divisions, the absence of a strong and stable government or a long-term strategic plan would quickly fracture the country.
Six years on and Libya exists in little more than name only. There is no central government, armed militias and feudal warlords hold considerable power, whilst every international Islamist terror group of substance now boasts a flourishing branch office in the country from where they increasingly export their murderous ideologies. And every month, if not every week, scores of desperate migrants, people who long ago lost all control of their lives, drown off the Libyan coast whilst seeking something better than the hell that their lives have spiralled into.
Learning nothing from history and the consequences of her own actions, in August 2013 Theresa May supported Prime Minster David Cameron’s unsuccessful attempt to persuade MPs to back UK air strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The absence yet again of a coherent post-conflict strategy was sufficient for Labour leader Ed Miliband to refuse his party’s support to Cameron, who narrowly lost a House of Commons vote on the issue. The main beneficiaries of such an intervention, with its intention to downgrade Assad’s military capabilities (if not to remove him from power), would likely have been the plethora of extremist groups engaged in the Syrian civil war, principal amongst them the then nascent Islamic State.
Since becoming Prime Minister Theresa May has continued the supply of British made weapons and military expertise to Saudi Arabia for use in its war crime-strewn bombing campaign in Yemen, a campaign which has killed countless numbers of civilians and is fast creating yet another failed state in the region.
Iraq, Libya and increasingly Yemen: countries where British military interventions have created power vacuums swiftly filled by a combination of anarchy, lawlessness, violence and economic depravation, with catastrophic consequences and relentless, unending misery for millions of civilians.
Theresa May supported each and every one of these military interventions. Jeremy Corbyn opposed all of them. So whose judgement would you trust?
May 29th 2017
Written for The BirminghamPress.com
“Jeremy Corbyn is perfectly right to relate this week’s Manchester terrorist atrocity to British foreign policy in the Middle East.”
A Moseley reader draws attention to the thoughts of Simon Jenkins in the Guardian today. A summary:
Jenkins asserted that Jeremy Corbyn is perfectly right to relate this week’s Manchester terrorist atrocity to British foreign policy in the Middle East.
He reminded all that Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron clearly stated that they were spending soldiers’ lives toppling regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya at enormous expense in order to “to prevent terrorism in the streets of Britain”.
In the Andrew Neil programme this evening Corbyn added that Boris Johnson, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee – and MI5 had also expressed these views ‘on record’!
Their aim was to suppress militant Islam but Jenkins points out that when their intervention clearly led to an increase in Islamist terrorism, we are entitled to agree with Corbyn that it has “simply failed”.
We committed armed aggression against sovereign peoples who had not attacked us
Regimes were indeed toppled. Tens of thousands died, many of them civilians every bit as innocent as Manchester’s victims. Terrorism has not stopped.
Militant Islamists are indeed seeking to subvert the west’s sense of security and its liberal values. But the west used the language of “shock and awe” in bombing Baghdad in 2003, giving the current era of Islamist terrorism a cause, a reason, an excuse, however perverted.
Jenkins ends: “Islamist terrorism is related to foreign policy. However hateful it may seem to us, it is a means to a political end. Sometimes it is as well to call a spade a spade”.
A lightly edited section of today’s mailing – to read it in full, plus an account of our involvement via the arms trade and of Emily Thornberry’s Yemen motion, click here.
At first sight, compassion appears to loom large in ‘mainstream’ politics and media. When the American and British governments target countries like Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, ‘compassion’ is always at or near the top of the agenda.
State-corporate propaganda is full of ‘shoulds’, all rooted in ‘our’ alleged ‘responsibility to protect’. Why ‘us’? Why not Sweden or Iceland? Because ‘we’ care. ‘We’ just care more.
Time and again, the cry from the political system is: ‘We Must Do Something!’ ‘We’ must save Afghan women from the ‘Medieval’ Taliban. ‘We’ must save Kuwaiti new-borns flung from their incubators by Iraqi stormtroopers. ‘We’ must save Iraqi civilians from Saddam’s shredding machines. ‘We’ must save civilians in Kosovo from Milosevic’s ‘final solution’.
As for the suffering civilians of Aleppo in Syria, hard-right MPs like Andrew Mitchell demand, not merely that ‘we’ save them, not merely that ‘we’ engage in war to save them, but that ‘we’ must confront Russia, shoot down their planes if necessary, and risk actual thermonuclear war – complete self-destruction – to save them:
A key task of the corporate media is to pretend this is something more than a charade. The truth is hinted at in BBC political programmes that open with jovial, bombastic, comical music, as if introducing some kind of music hall farce. The cast is currently led by foreign secretary Boris Johnson, a P.G. Wodehouse character reimagined by Stephen King.
After chuckling about how ‘There is no other country that comes close to [Britain’s] record of belligerence’ in invading or conquering 178 out of 200 countries existing today, Johnson opined:
‘As our American friends instinctively understand, it is the existence of strong and well-resourced British Armed Forces that gives this country the ability to express and affirm our values overseas: of freedom, democracy, tolerance, pluralism.’
As Johnson doubtless understands, this was a near-exact reversal of the truth. He noted in 2014 of the 2003 Iraq invasion: ‘It looks to me as though the Americans were motivated by a general strategic desire to control one of the biggest oil exporters in the world…’
If politicians are clearly bluffers, corporate journalists are selected because they powerfully echo and enhance the alleged need for compassionate ‘intervention’. The likes of David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, John Rentoul, Jonathan Freedland and Oliver Kamm earn their salaries by appearing to tear their hair out in outrage at the crimes of official enemies and at the ‘useful idiocy’ of the perennial, naysaying ‘leftists’.
But the point is that compassion – the kind rooted in an understanding that all suffering is equal, the kind that feels even more responsibility for suffering caused by our own government – is not partial, it does not defer to power. It doesn’t fall silent when ‘we’ are committing crimes. Quite the reverse.
The Times reports that Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state, is among those who have warned that Britain’s “place and influence in the world would be diminished” if voters choose to leave the EU in next month’s referendum.
Scott Donovan: “Isn’t it hugely ironic that the country that led us with Blair’s connivance into the disaster of the Iraq war which has led directly to the emergence of Isis and the current disintegration of stability in the mid-east is now lecturing us again in their own self interest. Then the disaster of the extended stay in Afghanistan and the adventurist regime change in Libya all encouraged by the US. What a litany of failed foreign policy achievements!”
In a letter to The Times, 13 former US secretaries of state and defence and national security advisers say that the country’s “place and influence in the world would be diminished and Europe would be dangerously weakened” after a vote to leave in next month’s referendum:
Geoff Loughborough’s comment: “This from people who gave us Vietnam and Iraq”.
“In our globalised environment it is critical to have size and weight in order to be heard,” say the group of 13, which includes Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, George Shultz; the former CIA chief and defence secretary Leon Panetta; and Madeleine Albright, the first woman secretary of state.
After President Obama warned on a visit to London of the dangers of Brexit (‘back of the queue’), five former secretaries-general of NATO — Lord Carrington, Javier Solana, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, Jaap De Hoop Scheffer and Anders Fogh Rasmussen — wrote to The Daily Telegraph supporting Britain’s continued membership of the EU. They said: “Given the scale and range of challenges to peace and stability we collectively face, the Euro-Atlantic community needs an active and engaged United Kingdom . . . Brexit would undoubtedly lead to a loss of British influence, undermine Nato and give succour to the West’s enemies.”
Zovido: “OMG, if ever there was a reason to vote out it is when these people say stay in. Albright et al have brought the world nothing but misery”.
Secret State 16: are British drones and special forces assisting the United States in Libya – yet another disastrous military intervention?
Open government or secret state? What is going on behind the scenes?
Last week it was reported that Tobias Ellwood, the UK foreign office minister, wrote to parliament’s foreign affairs select committee to say he would not be able to provide further details of the role being played either by the Royal Air Force or UK-controlled drones over Libya. According to the Guardian, Ellwood has admitted that drones have flown over Libya and it has been repeatedly reported that UK special forces are in the country.
There are many media rumours of plans being made to send another thousand British troops to Libya. Will British citizens ever know what the elected government will decide and how taxpayers’ money will be spent?
US-NATO forces have bombed Libya’s irrigation system and wreaked havoc on the country. American attorney Ellen Brown (below left) reminds us that before 2011 Libya had achieved economic independence, with its own water, food, own oil, money, and state-owned bank.
Under Gaddafi it had risen from being one of the poorest of countries to the richest in Africa. Education and medical treatment were free; having a home was considered a human right; and Libyans participated in an original system of local democracy. The country had the world’s largest irrigation system, the Great Man-made River project, which brought water from the desert to the cities and coastal areas; and Qaddafi was embarking on a program to spread this model throughout Africa.
Today the situation is dire
As Dan Kovalik wrote in the Huffington Post, “the human rights situation in Libya is a disaster, as ‘thousands of detainees [including children] languish in prisons without proper judicial review,’ and ‘kidnappings and targeted killings are rampant’.”
Ellen Brown adds: “NATO intervention was allegedly undertaken on humanitarian grounds, after reports of mass atrocities; but human rights organizations questioned the claims after finding a lack of evidence. Today, however, verifiable atrocities are occurring”.
Surely Britain and America will go down in history as having been more cruelly destructive in the Middle East than Genghis Khan, who is said to have brought unity, peace and security to the territories he invaded.
And is there more to come? Another country in their sights?
David Cameron has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn will be a security threat. Is he referring to economic security – the threat to the arms trade?
If peacemakers like Corbyn have their way, the profits which flow to the richest individuals and into Britain and American mainstream party coffers would be decimated – the economic security of arms manufacturers and dealers and sympathetic politicians would be threatened.
Starting with the anger aroused by their illegal Iraq war in 1991, the Anglo-Saxon alliance claims to be more at risk from terrorism than ever – but rising tension and conflict opens profitable avenues.
As Sir Simon Jenkins recently wrote, the West’s last seven wars – in Iraq, former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Libya – have ended in disaster; he asks: “Will our messianic leaders ever learn?” But do they want to learn? Their arms companies have made a packet’ (Ed)!
Over the past 15 years, he records that their wars have left an estimated 250,000 people dead, few of whom had any quarrel with the West. It left many more maimed, tortured, impoverished and driven into exile – fear driving mass migrations of peoples into Europe.
And yet, despite colossal military expense, as Jenkins states, the menace of ISIS in Syria and Iraq is worse than anything posed by the Taliban, Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gaddafi in Libya: “None of the ‘victorious powers’ dare walk the streets in the capitals they claimed to have freed from oppression”.
Revulsion at these policies is leading thousands to sign this open letter to Ban-ki Moon, UN Secretary General – extracts:
- After 70 years isn’t it time for the United Nations to cease authorizing wars and to make clear to the world that attacks on distant nations are not defensive?
- The danger lurking in the “responsibility to protect” doctrine must be addressed. Acceptance of murder by armed drone as either non-war or legal war must be decisively rejected.
- To fulfill its promise, the United Nations must rededicate itself to these words from the U.N. Charter: “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.”
- To advance, the United Nations must be democratized so that all people of the world have an equal voice, and no single or small number of wealthy, war-oriented nations dominate the UN’s decisions.
Has this revulsion also been one of the major factors in sweeping Corbyn, a peacemaker, to power?
Migrants? Many are refugees escaping from countries which the British government has helped to destabilise
According to the UN, the overwhelming majority of these people are escaping war. The largest group are fleeing Syria, a country in which an estimated 220,000 to more than 300,000 people have been killed during its appalling and escalating war. Many others come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Eritrea and Somalia – all places from which people are commonly given asylum.
As a reader reminded us today, refugees have rights under The 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol (extract below) and migrants do not – so ‘relabelling’ is advantageous to states who wish to avoid their legal obligations.
A very large number of refugees are fleeing from unimaginable misery and danger and a smaller number of people are trying to escape the sort of poverty that drives some to desperation.
Colin Yeo and other members of the immigration team at London’s Garden Court Chambers set up a blog to cover these subjects, with several graphs, one of which shows how very far from the truth is the media/state conveyed impression that Britain is number one destination and is being ‘swamped’..
So far this year, nearly 340,000 refugees have crossed Europe’s borders. A large number, but still only 0.045% of Europe’s total population of 740 million.
Contrast that with Turkey, which hosts 1.8 million refugees from Syria alone, Lebanon, in which there are more than one million Syrians and even Iraq, struggling with its own ‘war’, is home to more than 200,000 people who have fled its neighbour.
As Barry Malone on Al-Jazeera says: “There are no easy answers and taking in refugees is a difficult challenge for any country but, to find solutions, an honest conversation is necessary”.
But much of that conversation is shaped – distorted – by the media
For reasons of accuracy, the director of news at Al Jazeera English, Salah Negm, has decided that the word migrant will no longer be used in this context. Instead, where appropriate, they will say ‘refugee’.
The wording is correct but – terminology sorted – how can these huge destabilisations be redressed?