Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rise of the Religious Left

There seems to be no limit to what the SWP, not to mention George Galloway's Respect party, will do to get Muslim votes, even if it means contorting reality to reconcile a religion with secular Socialism. Why don't they just dump the socialist stuff and become a proper Islamist party?

Unlike Gorgeous George's Adventures in Egypt or an obscure postal dispute in Belfast, the world headline-dominating Danish Cartoons fiasco clearly wasn't important enough to merit an online update to the Socialist Worker, but the long wait is finally over. Here is my take on their take on the Danish Cartoons:

"This is not about “freedom of speech”… It’s about racism..."

Ah, so basically the editorial board of the SWP couldn't agree on Freedom of Speech so they decided let's talk about racism instead.

"The same paper [Jyllands-Posten] supports the French government’s ban on young Muslim women wearing headscarves in school. What’s “tolerant” or “liberal” about that?"

I don't know but your counterparts on the French far-left supported it! When faced with lining up with French socialists or religious conservatives, guess who the SWP picks!

"As for those who claim it is impossible to be racist against Muslims because Islam is a religion “not a race”, consider the followers of the Jewish faith."

Why bring the Jews into this? Why not mention Sikhs who are also regarded as a race.

"the media is further demonising Muslims by suggesting that they don’t understand “Western democracy” and press freedom."

Why is Western Democracy in quotation marks? Does the SWP not recognise it?

This “respectable” Islamophobia fuels the violent racist attacks of the Nazi British National Party (BNP), which exploits the general anti-Muslim climate and whose leader, a Holocaust denier, walks away from a court case over incitement to racial hatred."

A Holocaust denier! Ah...isn't that what David Irving is too? Tell me, whose website have does the Muslim Public Affairs Committee's website bear a striking resemblance to?

Exhibit A: http://bannedbyelf.blogspot.com/

"And when those on the receiving end of all this speak out and protest, they are demonised again."

No-one is being demonised for speaking out or protesting. People are being demonised for burning down Embassies, marching down Sloane Street dressed as a suicide bomber, and dressing children up with headbands reading "I Love Al-Qaeda."

"It’s like kicking someone repeatedly and then, when they hit back, saying, “Look, I told you they were violent.”

Umm...no...it's like criticising people for burning down embassies, marching down Sloane Street dressed as a suicide bomber, and dressing children up with headbands reading "I Love Al-Qaeda".

"Yvonne Ridley is a leading member of Respect and a convert to Islam. She said, “There have been continued attacks on Muslims in Britain. These include 3,000 police raids since 9/11. Stop and search of Muslims has rocketed since the 7 July terror attacks on London. I’m sick of people thinking that Muslims are an easy target.”

Well at least she calls them "terror attacks." The BBC is too politically correct and refers to call them "London bombings".

But Jyllands-Posten, the right wing paper…

So hang on...the political leanings of the newspaper affect its Freedom of Speech?

"When the fascist Benito ­Mussolini came to power in Italy in 1922, the paper wrote, “The very strong man, that Mussolini absolutely is, is exactly what the misruled Italian people need.”

1922!!! Is that most recent example of a slightly extreme sounding quote the SWP could find!

Perhaps the MPAC brigade would have time to research the rise of Fascism in Italy if they didn't spend so much time reading David Irving.

"If there are no limits to free speech, would it be okay for newspapers to publish child pornography on their front pages?"

Nice - so the SWP is now borrowing lines from the Hizb-ut-Tahrir representative who appeared on Newsnight last week!!

"There is no comparison between The Satanic Verses and the Danish cartoons. The latter are crude attempts to insult Muslims, while Rushdie’s novel was a complex work of art by an author of Indian Muslim origins who was trying explore the roots of the faith into which he was born."

Oh OK so basically you can only criticise a religion if

a) you do so in a complex arty way (i.e. you are not a right-wing newspaper) : AND

b) you were born into that religion.

"Repression – and ideological intimidation – predominate in much of northern Europe. Denmark and the Netherlands offer leading examples of this policy"

Challenge of the Week: Please find a country, anywhere in the world, with a better Human Rights record than Denmark or the Netherlands, or a more liberal society.

"This puts a huge onus on the left in Britain and the rest of Europe. It is up to us to show that there is an alternative to the main options presented to Muslims by the establishment – silence, repression, or the dead end of Islamist terrorism."

The dead end of terrorism? So are the SWP opposing terrorism because it is wrong, or just because it is a dead end and wont achieve anything?


SWP Silence vs. The Libya of British Politics

In another statement on its website, Respect's John Rees declares:

"Islamophobia has become the justifying ideology of war and occupation in Iraq and Palestine, just as anti-Communism was the ideology of the Cold War."

So Islamophobia is the new anti-Communism!?... Correct me if I'm wrong but anti-Communism was totally justified!

"[Muslims] are now on the receiving end of discrimination that would be unacceptable if it were targeted at any other ethnic or religious group."

...what about Christianity, Mr Rees, which is lampooned vritually daily in the media or the arts?

Respect is the Libya of the British politics, seeking marry Islam and Socialism. This didn't work in Libya and it wont work for Respect.

All that said, at least Respect is saying something about the Danish Cartoons issue, which is now headline news around the world. This contrasts with the deafening silence from the SWP. Another day goes by without an up-date on the Socialist Worker website, even though they have been updating to tell us about such important things as a postal dispute in Belfast and George Galloway's Adventures in Egypt.


If tomorrow's Socialist Worker finally addresses the main news story of the week i.e. the Danish Cartoons, allow me to make the following predictions as to what it will say:

i) It will condemn the decision to publish the cartoons;

ii) It will hop around the more difficult issue of whether the press have a right to publish the cartoons;

iii) It will go on the offensive about "Islamophobia".


Monday, February 06, 2006

Danish Cartoons: Another Shibboleth for the Left

The British Far-Left is in crisis over the decision by certain elements, notably SWP and George Galloway's Respect Party, to team up with Islamic organisations and target Muslim voters.

In the hunt for Muslim votes, SWP and Respect have been willing to compromise on issue after issue which one would have thought progressives and socialists would never budge. Lindsey German famously declared that she wouldn't allow gay rights to become a "shibboleth", dividing her secular leftists from the Islamists with whom they seek some unholy alliance.

Since then the SWP/Respect has compromised on the Hijab in France and ritual slaughter. It even supports the Government's Religious Hatred Bill, a position which puts it in the same camp as the New Labour MPs and on the opposite side from the Labour rebels. It is bizarre.

Now this distinctly unimpressive statement from Respect on its website (you guessed it, they blame Islamophobia for the Danish Cartoons):

"This rise in Islamophobia is a direct result of the Bush and Blair wars in Iraq and Afghanistan... In this context it is no wonder that many Muslims feel insulted and angered by the unnecessary publication of cartoons hostile to the Prophet Mohamed, which have been featured in European newspapers.

"Freedom of speech" should not be abused as a convenient cloak to cover-up racism and Islamophobia, whether it comes from the BNP or disguised as puerile cartoons."

Source: Respect: the Unity Coalition at http://www.respectcoalition.org/

It's all so hypocritical, and it's deeply unsatisfactory. "Unnecessary" publication? - sure, but the question for the Left isn't whether they personally would have printed the cartoons, or whether the cartoons were "necessary" (we know the answer to both of these questions is "No"), it is about whether a newspaper has the right to?

Nevertheless, Respect is firmly the control of Gorgeous George, and it's pro-Islamic stance is part of the raison d'etre of the party, so I doubt there were hours of bitter argument at Respect HQ over the wording of the statement.

Not so at the SWP.

The Socialist Workers' Party has a long history on the British Far-Left scene, stretching back to the days when secularism and womens' rights were big campaign issues, to the days when Islam was either a non-issue, or was lumped together with the other religions as being part of a reactionary opium of the masses. I sense there are "anti-revisionists" inside the SWP who still hold true to the anti-religious, or at least secular tenets of traditional Trotskyism.

I suspect the internal debate over the Danish Cartoons has been harder in the SWP. Maybe that's why my Letter calling on the Socialist Worker to actually cover the story has gone unasnwered. Maybe thats why the SWP website still doesn't have a statement!

The Socialist Worker online now gets updated between editions - and it has been this week, to cover George Galloway's arrest and subsequent release in Egypt, as well as an industrial dispute in Belfast. With the Danish Cartoons issue now front-page news around the world, why on earth is the biggest party on the British Far-Left remaining silent!?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Palestinian Election Debate at SOAS

This evening I attended a Public Meeting in the Khalili Lecture theatre at SOAS on the topic of the recent Palestinian Elections. The speakers included an Independent Fatah-supporter, a Hamas supporter and a former US Diplomat.

Below is my write-up of the evening's events. It is not intended to be a word-for-word transcript of everything that was said. In publishing this write-up I am doing so in the belief that it constitutes fair comment on a matter of public interest. If anyone feels I have misrepresented what they said or implied, or have contained an innacurate description of them or an inaccurate translation of something they said, please let me know.


* * *

Title: The Palestinian Elections and their Consequences – part of the Middle East Critical Issues Series

Called by: London Middle East Institute

Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS

Date: Wednesday 1 Feb 2006


i) Mr Ziyad Abu Zayyad – former Independent member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Lost his Jerusalem seat to Hamas in the 2006 elections. A lawyer by training (Uni. of Damascus), also worked as a journalist. Co-edits the Palestine-Israel Journal with an Israeli colleague.

ii) Dr Azzam Tamimi – Director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought and Hamas supporter. Holds a Ph.D from the University of Westminster and a BSc from the University of Sunderland. Has written numerous pamphlets and books.

iii) Mr Robert Pelletrau – former US Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East to Secretary of State Warren Christopher in the Clinton Administration. Educated at Yale and Harvard, has served as US Ambassador to Bahrain, Tunisia and Egypt. Delegate a the Madrid Peace Negotiations. Involved with a program called Search for Common Ground, based in Jerusalem.


The London ME Centre Representative made some general statements of welcome before explaining the format of the evening. He stressed that questions should be polite and respectful and he read an extract from the SOAS guideline re: public meetings.

Ziyad Abu Zayyad (herein referred to as “ZAZ”)

ZAZ was introduced by the London ME Centre representative as having just arrived from ‘Palestine’, although it later pertained that he had flown in from Tel Aviv, Israel. Anyway, ZAZ began by saying he was proud to be here in London, speaking about democracy, and that the Palestinian elections had been an example to the Arab world.

He mentioned that the elections had happened under occupation and that “all of the territory” is under occupation, which would appear to include the Gaza Strip. He said he had feared “elements” whom he didn’t name would try to disrupt the elections but was thankful this had not happened.

ZAZ conceded that the election results were surprising to many. He briefly explained the Palestinian Election Law, and the system whereby candidates are elected on a mixed local/national list basis. He claimed that this meant the Hamas vote translated into a considerable number of seats in the Legislative Council, and that it was important to remember that most Palestinians participating in the elections (54% of them in fact) voted for parties other than Hamas.

He reported the results as follows:
Hamas 44.95% of total votes cast, Fatah 41.43% and the remainder to others incl. PFLP and People’s Fedayeen.

ZAZ went on to consider “what happened to the Fatah vote?” and gave the following as explanatory factors:

i) Fatah was associated with the Palestinian Authority (herein referred to as “the PA”), and with the PA’s perceived corruption. Hamas on the other hand was successful partly because of its slogan of “change and reform”.

ii) Internal problems within Fatah, including, inter alia; internal rows over who would file the party lists with the Election Commission, chaotic primaries, cheating in the primaries, candidates running as Fatah candidates in defiance of party leadership.

iii) The economy, especially the 35% unemployment rate, for which ZAZ blamed Israel, in particular the Security Barrier, which ZAZ referred to as “the wall” and claimed was preventing access to crops.

iv) Protest vote against the PA for its failure to negotiate strongly enough on behalf of the Palestinians.

v) Fatah was mixed up with the PA’s security forces – overlap of membership, and therefore corruption in the security forces tainted Fatah.

ZAZ then turned to the issue of the “influence of the elections on Palestinian Society”. He said that “jokes” had been circulating following the Hamas victory that Hamas would bring in laws requiring the wearing of the Hijab by women, and that Hamas was giving out hijabs. ZAZ said that Hamas is not the Taliban and that Palestine is not Afghanistan. He said Hamas was “pragmatic” and “wont intervene in the social life” of the people, but will “move quietly”, without provoking incitement.

ZAZ went on to say that the US and the EU must recognise Hamas as being the elected government, and that if the US/EU was making demands of Hamas, why was it not making demands of Israel re: the dismantling of West Bank Settlements? Dismantling “the wall”?

ZAZ acknowledged that Hamas were regarded by the West as terrorists, but said “now [Hamas] is legitimate.” The election of Hamas, he suggested, would be a step towards “disengaging” Islam from terrorism. This argument was somewhat unconvincing, as if a secular politician was trying to shore up Islamist support by making sympathetic statements about Hamas and Islamism.

Azzam Tamimi (herein referred to as “AT”)

AT prefaced his speech with the Islamic greeting in Arabic “bismillahi rahmani ar-raheem, as-salamu alaykoum wa rahmat-allah” (translation: in the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, peace be upon you and God’s blessings).

Without further ado, AT then proceeded to list the reasons for Hamas’ victory as follows:

i) Hamas’ loyalty to “Palestinian rights”. He said it was ironic that both Fatah and Hamas came from the same roots – the Brotherhood meetings in Kuwait in the 1950s. Fatah had succumbed to pressure to become moderate whereas Hamas “withstood”. AT went on to say that for “us” by which he appeared to be speaking for Hamas or the Palestinians generally, it was not clear, “Palestine was invaded…the Palestinian people have been made to pay for the guilt of the Europeans…Palestine is ours!!” He said the Palestinians have every right to “return” to their homes. At this point AT was getting pretty heated. Threw in a comment about Israel being the “pampered child” of the “world order”.

ii) Hamas has been willing to arrive at a ceasefire with Israel. At this point AT decided it would be nice to throw in a comparison between Hamas and the IRA, as if this would somehow make Hamas look good. He mentioned that both sides in the conflict have dreams – the Zionists of an eretz yisrael from the Nile to the Euphrates, and the Palestinians of the removal of Israel – “let them dream, let us dream”.

iii) Hamas has offered to put aside bloodshed.

iv) Failures of the PA has clearly advantaged Hamas, which isn’t associated with those failures.

v) Islamic nature of Hamas has endeared it to Palestinians, particularly for the Islamic principles of clean government. In fairness to AT he did at this point state that Christians and Jews had nothing to fear from Hamas.

AT then went on to ask the question “what will happen now?” He said Hamas has given Fatah an opportunity to co-operate with it, but that if Fatah turns this down, then Hamas is perfectly capable of forming a government on its own. Confirmed there was no prospect of Hamas introducing laws requiring the hijab/veil.

AT then stated the choice was basically between Hamas and Al-Qaeda – Hamas has a “moderate, peaceful approach”, and if that approach fails, “Al-Qaeda will prevail”. He then appeared to address the West saying “and you will pay the price.”

He then claimed that the US/EU had “scandalously failed” to seize the opportunity. At this point AT started getting considerably animated and was gesticulating and beginning to take on a rather scary tone. “To Hell with your money!” he bellowed, before plummeting to the darkest part of his speech about the “Blood of its [i.e. Hamas’] martyrs” and how Hamas was “willing to give more [blood].” He continued “To Hell with your money!...We are the victims! We are not the oppressors! We are revolutionaries! We are like Nelson Mandela!”

AT then predicted that Hamas would not recognise Israel, saying categorically “it will never happen”. He mentioned that Sheikh Yassin had offered a truce, and that the international community was pressurising Hamas to recognise Israel, to which he replied, apparently addressing Israel “well you bloody exist don’t you! You exist!” How this sits with his earlier statement that Hamas would “never” recognise Israel I’m not sure.

Although his speech was followed by applause from some, there was a sense of a chill in the air with AT, as we had just watched a very angry man in action to say the least. It was a totally different atmosphere to that of ZAZ who came across as a very moderate and gentle man.

Robert Pelletrau (herein referred to as “RP”)

RP started out by saying that the situation was one in which two peoples (i.e. the Jews and the Arabs) had two different narratives of history with deeply felt grievances.

RP suggested that the Hamas victory was a result of the old guard of Fatah from the Arafat era wrongly hoping they could simply hold on to “power and privilege”.

RP began praising President Mahmoud Abbas for being behind the ceasefire in the wake of the Gaza pullout but criticised him for his inability to restrain and disarm militants. RP said Palestinians had a right to choose their leaders and that elections were both the culmination, as well as the beginning, of a process. RP said the election raised the following questions:

i) Will a new coalition emerge?

ii) Will violence/instability decline under a Fatah/Hamas coalition?

iii) How will Hamas activists behave now that Hamas is a part of government? How will they respond to continued Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank? Will they be able to reform? Will they be able to resist violence?

RP acknowledged that Fatah’s provision of services had been “lousy” and that Hamas was perceived as more “upright”. He further acknowledged Hamas had avoided “triumphalism” in victory. RP predicted priorities for Hamas would be:

i) Building better institutions/public services;

ii) the Palestinian education system and the Islamification thereof, saying this was an attribute of Islamic parties everywhere;

iii) Gradually increasing religious observance generally, including “selective” imposition of Sharia law.

iv) Taking measures to allay the fears of secular Palestinians and Palestinian Christians.

RP said that Fatah was heavily associated with the PA security forces, and therefore tainted by their reputation for corruption.

RP pondered whether a Hamas-led government would endorse the Saudi plan for the Middle East put forward by Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

RP pointed out the following regarding the US reaction to the elections:

i) The US does not dispute the validity of the Palestinian elections.

ii) The US is concerned about the rise of Hamas. In law, in Congress, and in American public opinion, Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation, and this will be difficult to change.

iii) President Bush could have denounced the outcome and the process, but did neither. Instead the President praised the election as illustrating the “power of democracy” etc.

iv) The Israel-Palestine issue is a priority, but not the priority for the US.

RP suggested that the full picture of the Hamas victory will not really be formed until the 28 March Israeli elections.

RP said that the impulse reaction in the US would be to continue regarding Hamas as a terrorist organisation unless it a) disowns its charter, and b) disowns the militants, neither of which it can do immediately.

RP predicted Hamas would change now that it is in government, but pointed out that a “legitimately elected representative”, which Hamas is, is not the same thing as a “legitimate partner in negotiations.” A lengthy testing period lies ahead.

The London ME Centre Representative then gave the speakers the right to reply to anything that had been said by the other speakers. None of the speakers chose to exercise this right so the Representative moved to the Q&A Session.

Question and Answer Session

1st Questioner

1st Questioner addressed AT. Said he admired AT’s position re: the “sins of the Europeans”, asked whether AT would agree that the “other branch of the Germanic tribe, the English” were also to blame re: the Balfour Declaration.

Response to 1st Questioner

AT said that the English have “always been the devils.” To be fair to AT, he said this in a fairly jokey way, not in the heated manner of his earlier speech. AT went on to say in more seriousness that in his view it was really the Holocaust which transformed support for Zionism from an elite Jewish viewpoint pre-WWII into a viewpoint held by a majority of ordinary Jews post-WWII. He said Hitler helped make the Jews think of themselves as outsiders and implied that this led them naturally to gravitate towards Zionism.

2nd Questioner

2nd Questioner is known to me as an academic from SOAS’s Law Dept. She mentioned that she was from the Law Department but chose not to mention her name, so in respect of that decision I see no reason to name her here. She had two questions, both of which she addressed to RP:

i) Words to the effect of “there is much talk of the US/EU pressuring Hamas, but what about the US/EU holding Israel to account? Holding the occupying power to its existing obligations?

ii) Words to the effect of “Why did you feel the need to add the word ‘honest’ in your description of Mahmoud Abbas?”

Response to 2nd Questioner

RP said that Hamas is no longer simply “harikat al-muqawama” (the resistance movement) it is a party of government and therefore must ask itself whether its Charter and suicide attacks are appropriate for a governing party? He seemed to imply in reference to 2nd Questioner’s first question that the focus should be on Hamas as the newcomer to the situation, not on Israel.

In relation to the second question re: “honest” Abbas, RP admitted his use of the word ‘honest’ may have been confusing. The question clearly on everyone’s mind in the room was ‘when RP said Abbas was honest, was he implying that he thought Arafat was dishonest?’ RP said that Abbas has an honest negotiating style and doesn’t appear as motivated by internal power struggles as Arafat did, and is less secretive. To some laughter, RP stated that he didn’t see this has necessarily reflecting negatively on Arafat.

3rd Questioner

3rd Questioner addressed his question to AT. His first question was actually quite interesting. He asked as a question to the effect of “If Hamas is unable to recognise Israel, is there scope for a distinction between Hamas party policy and the official policy of a government including Hamas?” i.e. if Hamas as a party isn’t ready to recognise or deal with Israel, would it at least consider being in a government that did?

His follow-up point was that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was urging Hamas to take a more moderate stance.

Response to 3rd Questioner

AT replied that governments do not give up their stance on winning power, and gave the example of US President Bush and UK PM Tony Blair going to war in Iraq. AT made two important points:

i) Reiterated the “truce offer” to Israel; and

ii) Said that Hamas would honour agreements signed by Fatah-controlled PA as long as those agreements did not go against the interests of the Palestinian people. AT then explained that Oslo was “not in consultation with the Palestinian people”, and that this fact was a factor in the election result. AT didn’t specify whether “not in consultation” equals “goes against the interests” and therefore won’t be honoured.

4th Questioner

4th Questioner asked AT whether he could put a figure on the number of Palestinian refugees whom Hamas thought should be able to “return to Israel” and what demographic effect this would have on Israel as a Jewish state.

Response to 4th Questioner

This was a rather tense moment – a Hamas supporter confronted with someone who appeared to be a Zionist – the first genuinely contentious question of the evening. Up to now, questions had largely been sympathetic to the person being asked.

AT started out by saying that “history is between us”. He said there was no question of Jews being expelled back to Europe, but that “Zionism is a racist ideology” under which Israelis are superior to everybody else. He spoke of “living together in peace.” Failing that, the best Hamas could offer was a bare truce. AT suggested that he supported a South African model of co-existence.

AT did not suggest a figure.

Retort by 4th Questioner

4th Questioner pointed out that AT hadn’t given up the actual figure amount asked for.

Response to 4th Questioner

AT still failed to suggest figure, or even explain why he couldn’t do so. Instead he said words to the effect of “nobody has the right to allow or disallow refugees to return.” He said there are 15million Jews in the world “they can return to Palestine, I cannot return to Palestine!”

5th Questioner

Although she didn’t name herself, 5th Questioner is known to me to be Betty Hunter, General-Secretary of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in Britain. I feel it is justified to name her because of her high public profile.

Ms Hunter director her question at AT and “our American visitor” RP.

Ms Hunter asked a somewhat rhetorical question along the lines of “would you agree that the election is a clear declaration of the Palestinian people’s rejection of the sham peace process, and that it is a challenge to the international community, a challenge to the Israeli people to take action to recognise Palestinian rights?”

Coming to her familiar theme, Ms Hunter asked what people in Britain of the US could do to help end the occupation.

Response to 5th Questioner

At this point, the London ME Centre Representative sensed that ZAZ hadn’t had a chance to answer a question, so he re-directed the question to ZAZ.

ZAZ started out by saying it wasn’t fair to keep blaming the Germans or the British for the situation. The important thing was – how can we get out of this situation? ZAZ stressed the “terrible conditions” in which Palestinians are living. “Life is not fun” he added, “we want to get rid of the occupation…live in peace and dignity.”

ZAZ called on Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, including a withdrawal from East Jerusalem. He also called on Israel to come to a “fair settlement” of the refugee problem. ZAZ accepted that there would be no dismantling of 1948 Israel and that he didn’t expect Israel to “commit suicide” by dismantling itself.

ZAZ, a trained lawyer, then made a legal point regarding whether or not Hamas would/should honour agreements signed by the PLO/Fatah. He pointed out that it was important that Hamas must honour these agreements. In any event, ZAZ suggested that the problem wasn’t the agreements themselves, but rather the implementation of them.

ZAZ stressed than in his view the occupation of Gaza was ongoing, and that Gaza was “under siege” by Israel.

ZAZ said that the election result was a “rejection of the occupation, but not a rejection of the peace process.” He conceded that Hamas has the advantage of not being associated with Oslo. With reference to the PLO Charter, he said it had been changed and nothing was achieved in return, the implication being ‘why should Hamas change theirs?’ He called on Israel to give Hamas a reason to change its Charter.

ZAZ made the point that if Hamas succeeded in bringing down “the wall” etc, support for Hamas would increase.

6th Questioner

6th Questioner read a large chunk from the Hamas Charter, including the notorious portions which contain inflammatory anti-Semitic references to Jewish control over international banking and the economy, and which bizarrely implicate freemasons and the Rotary clubs in an international conspiracy. He then asked AT whether as a Hamas supporter he agreed that there was a Jewish conspiracy?

Response to 6th Questioner

AT responded to the effect that he personally had always been in favour of changing the Hamas Charter. AT claimed that since 1990, no Hamas official has mentioned the Charter. AT reiterated his support for a new Charter, one which is not based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which AT explicitly acknowledged to be “a forgery.”

7th Questioner

7th Questioner addressed his question to AT and asked a question to the effect of ‘if you say to Hell with our money, how will you finance the PA?’

Response to 7th Questioner

AT suggested that the PA could find an alternative source of finance from the wealthy oil states of the Gulf or other Islamic nations.

At this point ZAZ interjected to say “I don’t say to Hell with your money.” There was some laughter. ZAZ called on Israel to return tax money withheld from the Palestinians, and not to punish Palestinians financially for any problems Israel may have vis-à-vis Hamas.

8th Questioner

8th Questioner pointed out that there has traditionally been a tussle between the President and the Prime Minister, and also spoke about Islamic Jihad and how it could complicate matters.

Response to 8th Questioner

ZAZ began by explaining that according the Palestinian Basic Law, the President was commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, and that Arafat did not give up this role to the Prime Minister. Instead, ZAZ said, the President would work with the Prime Minister.

Retort by 8th Questioner

8th Questioner retorted that he wasn’t really asking what the formal legal relationship was between the role of the President and that of the Prime Minister, but rather what the practical relationship would be

Response to 8th Questioner

ZAZ said there would be no change. The Law puts the security forces under the control of the President and that wasn’t going to change.

AT then interjected and said all institutions have to have the backing of the people, and cannot be overly connected to a particular faction. The security forces should be independent of Fatah. He suggested that the current Palestinian security forces had been set up with Israeli security in mind, rather than Palestinian security.

ZAZ took objection to that last point, responding in Arabic “azab ya3ni” (a rough translation of which would be “shame on you”) for suggesting that the men of the Palestinian security forces were there to protect Israel and not the Palestinians.

10th Questioner

10th Questioner alluded to Hamas’ social programs and asked whether in reality Hamas did have an Islamist component and a religious design for Palestinian society.

Response to 10th Questioner

AT replied that Hamas’ policies would be in line with what the people want, and that Islam couldn’t be imposed, citing the Taliban and Iran as example where this had either failed or was experiencing difficulties. AT claimed that the most important Islamic qualities of Hamas were its honesty and insistence on clean government an accountability.


The London ME Centre Representative then brought matters to a close, inviting each speaker to make some concluding remarks.

ZAZ chose not to make any closing remarks.

AT made some brief remarks which were largely repetitious of his earlier points.

RP set out two possible scenarios, any of which could come to pass:

i) The ideal situation – a negotiated settlement, two states of Israel and Palestine living in peaceful co-existence;

ii) Continued unilateralism by Israel, a continuing no-war/no-peace situation.

The London ME Centre Representative thanked the speakers for their comments and for travelling to London from Tel Aviv (ZAZ), Tokyo (AT) and the United States (RP) in order to attend the talk. He thanked the audience for turning out in such numbers and for being polite.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Israel Boycott Meeting at ULU

Last night I attended a Public Meeting at ULU under the banner "Boycott Apartheid Israel." In very short time, Mikey has prepared an excellent write-up of the evening's events. I had the dubious fortune to be seated on the floor immediately next to the panel and heard some heckles/comments which Mikey did not. I shall therefore add these additional observances by way of a comment to this post.

On behalf of Oli and Jonny's Blog I'd like to thank Mikey for his write-up, which I include below with his permission:

- Oli

The notes are not designed to be a word for word transcript but are taken from hand written notes I made at the meeting.

PUBLIC MEETING, Wednesday 25th January, University of London Union


This meeting was called by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) to renew calls for a boycott of Israel and to support the Uxbridge Seven who have a court action pending in relation to Carmel-Agrexco and the picket they carried out. We need direct action and we therefore call for a boycott of all Israeli companies to help the Palestinians in their fight against colonisation, occupation and settlement.

The speakers include

Sandy Hale, from the Uxbridge Seven
Dr Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian writer and academic
Lena Green, someone who has recently been in the occupied territories and an ISM activist
Uri Davis, an academic who will be an expert witness in the court case and will be arguing that the business of Carmel Agrexco is not legal as the company is sustaining illegal settlements that is a crime of the apartheid state of Israel.
Sue Blackwell from the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel centred around three universities – Bar Ilan, Haifa and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Betty Hunter, General Secretary of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign

Sandy Hale – Uxbridge Seven

I believe a boycott is both viable and justified against Israel. I finished school in 2004 and travelled to the West Bank with the ISM. The actions were focussed on helping communities in their struggle against the apartheid wall. There was little the Palestinians could do apart from protest and little we could do apart from show solidarity. We trespassed on land stolen by the wall, but we were met with tear gas from the IDF. It was this sort of thing.

Israel does not listen to criticism or indeed to international law. I was there when the International Court of Justice declared the wall illegal and said it had to come down. We thought the wall would come down but it continued to be built. America vetoes UN resolutions against Israel so there is little that can be done through that channel.

If sanctions can not come through and official routes then in order to help the Palestinians direct actions need to be taken. We started off calling for direct action against companies that visibly support Israel such as Marks & Spencer and Caterpillar and have moved on to other companies. The boycott gives the campaign some political momentum. It is the most and least we can do.

Dr Ghada Karmi

I am a Palestinian. I have been a Palestinian activist for more years than I can remember. I wanted to come to express my support for the Uxbridge Seven and everyone who has helped their case.

I want to make a few remarks about the importance of the boycott of Israel.

Last year I was working in Ramallah. This was interesting but my motives for going was to see if the activities that I had been carrying out for many years was the right thing to do and the best thing to do.

I came to the conclusion that in so far as direct aid for Palestinians there was an awful lot of direct aid. There was a lot of money, non government organisations and people doing good and looking after all aspects of Palestinian life. This is fine from a humanitarian sense but not fine from a political sense. There is no political context to this aid. In the case of Palestine this is inexcusable.

If you don't attack the policies that bring about these conditions then you are left with the effects. Donors may keep giving money until they get compassion fatigue. It is very clear that the best policy for people to help the Palestinians is to attack the cause of what is hurting them.

There are only a small number of us active in the Palestinian cause and we must therefore focus our efforts on something useful. The best way we can employ ourselves, not the only way, but a really focussed way is to attack the Israeli end of this equation. I do not mean that it is necessary to enlist in the militia and take on soldiers. What I mean is by attacking the outside support. Israel gets away with it because they are allowed to get away with it by the British Government, the Americans and the EU. Also many misguided Jews who believe by supporting Israel they are doing something moral and fine also support Israel.

How do you weaken support for Israel?

The most intelligent way of doing this is to boycott Israel in all ways. I know of a doctor who refused to take part in a medical conference because it was held in Jerusalem. It does not matter what it is – If it is in sport, in medicine, a literary conference or anything Israel must boycotted. Israel must get the message that it is persona non grata in all fields. I suggest we all try and co-ordinate with our professional associations or trade unions to boycott Israel in whatever fields we work in and this is the right way of helping the Palestinians.

Lina Green

(This speech was very long winded and wordy and I may well have missed a number of her points about her experiences in the West Bank. Any omissions by my part are not on purpose – It was just quite difficult to get down. I believe however I have the main points.)
I spent six months in Palestine collecting evidence for the court case involving Carmel-Agrexco. Carmel-Agrexco is 50% state owned and is a company that exports fruit from Israel and the Occupied Territories. The Uxbridge Seven defendants have been prosecuted for trespass and blocking the entrance to Carmel-Agrexco. The defence case includes matters that the company is acting illegally. It is selling fruit claiming it was made in Israel when it was made in the occupied territories. The other defence is that Israel is an Apartheid state and the occupation is illegal.

I was in the Jordan Valley which is cut off from the rest of the West Bank both geographically and psychologically as well. The land covers one third of the West Bank. There are no big population centres in the Jordan Valley with the exception of Jericho which is on the fringes. The Palestinians from the rest of the West Bank can not get into the Jordan Valley easily due to cheque points. The occupation has led to economic stagnation in the area.

The distribution of land and what land can be used for is starkly different between the Palestinians and the settlers. A lot of settlers who have left Gaza will be moving to the Jordan Valley. Palestinians are at risk particularly through the demolition of their homes that are in illegal areas. Houses there are made of wood, plastic and a few sheets of metal and even these houses are demolished. Even in the legal areas, the areas Palestinians are allowed to live on are tightly defined. A Palestinian man had to move some trees he had planted a few meters because they deemed to be illegal. This restriction on where Palestinians can live creates problems for them. Someone showed me their family house with 2 rooms and 10 adults living in it as the children had grown into adults and elder relations were also living there. The difficult living conditions mean that the natural population growth is restricted.

By contrast settlers obtain grants, subsidies and loans to move there. A spokesman for Israel stated the wanted to double the number of settlers and provide them with grants for agricultural development. Many of the settlers that have left Gaza will likely move to the Jordan Valley. Settlements have roads, water, electricity and are protected by the Israeli forces. The settlements also have the infrastructure of a local government. There is a massive agricultural industry that the settlers are able to carry out. I was told that the vast majority of this produce is exported via Carmel-Agrexco.

Access to water for Palestinians is denied and soldiers often protect the water wells. We saw a young girl on a donkey and she was going to a well to steal a couple of litres of water as this is all that she could carry and she risked imprisonment by doing so. Palestinian wells have dried up due to deeper settler wells nearby.

There was one well that got polluted in 1982 as sewage from the settlers goes into the ground at the same level as the well. Last year they got permission to build a new well but in the interim over one thousand people who had relied on that well had to obtain water by going on a cart to Jericho and bringing back water in black tanks. By midway this water was warm and not safe for drinking.

The Palestinian population in the Jordan Valley is Bedouin. It is made up of refugees from 1948. They are often moved due their houses continually getting demolished. I asked one family where they would live if their house got demolished. They said they would live in a tent provided by the Red Crescent. I asked where they woiuld put that tent and they responded that they would put it in the same place as they have nowhere else to go..

People who live in the Jordan Valley either work in the settlements on low pay and bad conditions or they try and produce their own agricultural products. Given the shortage of water some of the Palestinian farmers are so desperate that they irrigate their crops with sewage water. If the farmers do manage to produce crops then it becomes difficult to sell. They can take the crops to Jericho to sell. However by the time they get there, Jericho often already have so much agricultural products already and the prices they achieve for the produce is so low that it means it is not economical to harvest.

Palestinian farmers in the Jordan Valley do have another option. They can sell their produce through Carmel-Agrexco. Some farmers I spoke to are no longer prepared to do this. The quality grading, sizing and packaging required make it to expensive. Furthermore Carmel-Agrexco pay different amounts for produce from the settlers as opposed to by the Palestinians. There was one case where Palestinian farmers who sod their produce through a shady person claiming to represent Carmel-Agrexco told the farmers that the ship had sunk and therefore would not pay them for their goods. Their was one land over that was ripped off by $150,000 by this person.

It is for this reason that the UK case is so important. Palestinian farmers can not get Carmel-Agrexco into court. We can in the UK.

It was a powerful experience being in the Jordan Valley and noting the vast difference in the standard of living between Palestinians and the settlers.

Sue Blackwell

Why are we still calling for a boycott when there is a positive process going on for the Palestinians? Today there is an election, but 2/3 of the Palestinians do no live in the occupied territories and can not vote. 5 million Palestinians live in the Diaspora, in camps or in the land called Israel. 1/3 live under military occupation and 2/3 are the disenfranchised. In the election, only one candidate, Israel's favoured candidate was allowed free movement. Others couldn't move freely and some were detained. Hamas couldn't even campaign in East Jerusalem. Israel refuses to negotiate with a government that includes Hamas. So much for a free election.

Israel still control Gaza by land, sea and air and have reserved the right to invade Gaza at will and they do. Members of Al Quds Brigade have been killed and the area in the north of Gaza is routinely bombed. Now sonic booms occur over Gaza from low flying F16's that create shock waves, break windows and cause panic.

There were 8,000 settlers that occupied 40% of the land in Gaza. They have gone but the 1.3 million Palestinians left in the Gaza ghetto can not move back to the land they were ethnically cleansed from. Last year nearly 13,000 settlers moved into the West Bank. This is nearly twice as many as the amount that were evacuated from Gaza.

Palestinians in Gaza are prevented from having an education. It is very difficult for Gaza students to study at Birzeit or one of the eight Palestinian universities as they can't get there due to the separation. Students are separated from their colleges by the apartheid wall.

When the AUT passed motions to boycott Israel, the Israelis had the chutzpah to complain about academic freedom (Sue pronounced the word "chutzpah" by pronouncing the first part as one would pronounce the first part of the word "chuck"). What about academic freedom for Palestinians? Palestinians are even prevented from using roads.

At Haifa university, Professor Arnon Sofer who is an expert on the demographic threat held a conference on the matter i.e. the issue that Palestinians were having too many babies. Can you imagine if this happened in Birmingham? A conference on whether an ethnic group were having too many babies? There would be uproar and pickets. There were some picketers to this conference but they got arrested. Not surprisingly, not a single Arab attended that conference. Then there is the case against Dr. David Bukay from the Department of Political Science who made a comment that "Arabs are only interested in sex and alcohol".

The reason why we are boycotting The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is that bulldozers were sent in to destroy houses on Palestinian land to build dormitories. The Jerusalem District Court may have ruled that this was legal but I don't give a toss what the Jerusalem District Courts says as the occupation is illegal.

I make no apology for the campaign to boycott all of Israel. In universities we will be doing our bit to keep the campaign going.

Uri Davis

A senior politician in the State of Israel had an opinion piece in Haaretz that there is a number of ways of assassinating an individual. This could be done by hanging, by shooting, by poisoning etc. There are also a number of ways of assassinating a people. Genocide can be perpetrated in a number of ways. This is in particular reference to the policies of Israel in the West Bank and Gaza.

A standard objection by Zionist apologists to the boycott is that of "singling out". They argue that whilst Israel may not be devoid of blemish, there is no need to single them out.

There are two reasons for singling out Israel. One is unjustified and the other is valid.

The first argument is racism. Racism is defined in international law and I believe the Israeli position is sound. Racism may be rife in Israel but the position on racism in Israel is not that different from say Indonesia, the United States or the United Kingdom. To single out Israel for racism should be avoided. This is not the case with the second argument that of apartheid.

With apartheid there is nothing in common with other countries. The State of Israel is the only member of the United Nations that uses legislative machinery to impose apartheid laws.

People may object to the concept of a Jewish state, but you can't argue against it as the United Nations accepted the principal and therefore the Jewish state is legally legitimate.

The issue for me is what Israel claims it has the right to do. The state claims the right to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians and to legislate to that effect. In Israel 93% of land is reserved for Jewish use. If a state makes apartheid claims in the name of the Jewish state then that claim has to be resisted.

In South Africa the Anti Apartheid boycotts and education did a lot to stop the apartheid situation as well as the armed resistance by part of the ANC. Suicide attacks in my opinion are not armed resistance. Boycotts are something that ought to be carried out urgently in order to reduce the pain of the Palestinians.

There are differences between South Africa and Israel. In South Africa they legislated the whole hog to include petty apartheid. Any visitor to South Africa had apartheid hit them in the face – Toilets for whites, toilets for non whites, parks for whites, parks for non whites, queues for whites and queues for non whites. This was the petty apartheid. In Israel apartheid is at the core of their land policy. 93% of land is reserved for Jews only in law and non Jews can only purchase 7% of the land. B'tselem published an article on the apartheid water situation. Back to the land if we look at pre 1967 Israel, the situation is worse. 20% of the population are legally restricted to 2.5% of the land. In Israel there is no petty apartheid. There are not separate queuyes for Jews and queues for non Jews. There are not segregated parks etc although there are parks built on old Palestinian villages. Israel is an apartheid regime.

We must divest from Israel and we must boycott Israel. This call is conditional until the apartheid government removes its apartheid laws and obeys all United Resolutions including resolution 181.

Betty Hunter

The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign is calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions. We want to campaign for a free Palestine. We must do everything we can to help the Uxbridge Seven.

Sue mentioned that today the Palestinians have gone to vote. The voting is an act of resistance against occupation. Every day that the Palestinians get to school and get to work is an act of resistance as they are showing they have rights.

The Palestinians have called to the grass roots of the international community to tell the world what has happened and to defend their rights. There were concerns that the Palestinians may be against the boycott but I have not come across any. The Palestinians want Israel to be a pariah state and to end the illegal occupation.

The International Court of Justice has ruled that the wall is illegal and must be dismantled. The settlements are also illegal and must be dismantled. Nothing has happened so the Palestinians are calling for the international community to boycott Israel. This is the only answer as far as the Palestinian people are concerned.

We must make this issue as important as the boycott campaign by the anti apartheid movement was for South Africa. For the young people in the room you must support Palestinian rights as in ten to fifteen years time, you may well get asked what you did to help and support the Palestinian struggle.

In Britain we took up the boycott campaign initially to boycott Israeli goods and only goods or firms that we could prove were directly assisting Israel such as Caterpillar.

All over the UK every Sunday there are people on streets outside supermarkets talking to people and giving out leaflets in favour of the boycott. This is grass roots stuff. If we can do this at grass roots level then the government might change their policy and impose sanctions if they are worried about the electorate. The EU is mealy mouthed - they take no action.

We need to build a mass movement. Why are we selling arms to an illegal occupier? Why are we trading with this regime? The financial world is fragile. If confidence starts to be threatened then things can happen quickly.

In America they are looking at divestment. Churches here are also ooking at divestment. We must look to trade unions where they have pension funds and union funds and get them to divest.

I don't think the situation for the Palestinians has ever been more urgent than it is today.

Ethnic cleansing and genocide is happening to Palestinians.

Palestinians will be in ghettos in Bantustans and forced to beg for work at whatever wage they can get.

We have got to do all we can to ensure that the Palestinians are not continued being ethnically cleansed from their own land.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has stated that the large settlements will stand and Jerusalem will be the unified capital of Israel.

We have to take action urgently. We have to give the Palestinians our support.


First questioner:

I'm an academic and support BRICUP. I am also someone raised in a national liberation movement and I understand the plight of the Palestinians. In an apartheid state racism is produced in a much more acute way than in other societies. It may not be equivalent but they feed off each other. We should not lose sight of the intersection between apartheid and racism. I want to remind everyone that what takes place in Palestine is as important as what takes place in London.

(The questioner was interrupted and told to give a question but he did not really have one)

Second questioner:

My name is Ben and I'm an Iraqi, a Jew and a Muslim. My question is to Uri. Every single Muslim country that has Shariah law is an apartheid country. Woman are second class citizens. Jews, Christians and Buddhists are also second class citizens. What do you say to that?

Third questioner:

The question was about how Palestinians can appeal to Israeli courts. Unfortunately I could not hear this questioner to note the exact point.

The moderator asked Uri Davis to respond.

Uri Davis:

Responding to the first questioner. I apologize for insinuating it is an either/or equation. I have worked for twenty years in the UK and I am a resident of Israel. There is an intersectionality between racism and apartheid. It is not necessarily either/or. The bottom line is a political decision needs to be taken and it is the correct political decision that we should take a page out of the book of the ANC movement.

Responding to the second questioner. I need time to reflect on this question. However to my knowledge citizenship is not denied under Shariah law. Ben interrupted to state that the Arabs in Israel have a vote. Uri then responded – Only 20% of them – most have been denationalised. Ben then responded – What about me? I am a refugee from Iraq. There are 150,000 of us at least. There was quite a bit of uproar at this point and calls to move on.

Responding to the third questioner. I believe apartheid can be defeated through the legal system.

Fourth questioner:

There is talk of genocide. Rwanda and Sudan – that was genocide. I hear talk of Israeli atrocities. Where is the evidence? I do not see the evidence. If you are going to carry out a boycott a lot of public life may grind to a halt. Israel is a thriving economy and produce such things as components for mobile phones and computers. You talk of the wall as an apartheid wall but it is keeping people alive. More money is granted to the Palestinians by the G8 than to the African states. There was quite a bit of uproar going on in this speech and the moderators were told to move on.

Fifth questioner:

This particular questioner made a number of disjointed comments as follows.

We are surrounded by Zionists designed to undermine the Palestinian people.

People who live in Palestine are Palestinians.

September the 11th is not the issue. The issue is the ten billion pounds of aid from America to sustain Israel.

Sixth questioner:

I want to ask about the boycott of Israel. Is this the boycott of any activity of Israel? Does it include the assistance the Israelis have given to Jordanians? Does it include the aid the Israelis have provided to the Rwandans? Does it include aid Israel offered to Iran?

There was quite a bit of uproar going on through this and the questioner was asked by someone in the audience if he had finished. The questioner responded that he had not even started. This caused more commotion. The questioner then said the point is that as the votes in the election seem to show the Palestinian people prefer blood thirsty murder to the rule of law. This caused further commotion.

Betty Hunter:

Amnesty International have published papers accusing Israel of war crimes. What about the school girl that was shot thirteen times by the IDF? You can not pretend these things do not exist. The United Nations special raconteur has called it "transfer". Transfer is a euphemism for ethnic cleansing. If you do not start treating Palestinians as human beings and giving the Palestinians the same rights as people in this room then it will be on your conscience.

Uri Davis:

To the sixth questioner. I want to talk directly to you. What is your name? The questioner responded – Jack. Uri then asked if that was his real name. The questioned retorted that "Do you want me to show you my passport". Uri asked him where he lived. The questioner responded that it was not relevant. Uri then said: 'Can you accept that collective punishment is wrong? That the sins of the parents are not something that children should be blamed for?'. The original questioner responded that he could accept this.

Uri then said that we could condemn suicide bombings tohether and that we could also condemn war crimes together. If you put list of all the crimes, the war criminals Ariel Sharon and Shaul Mofaz would rate much higher on the list than the suicide bombers that would be at the bottom. This statement was greeted by applause from the audience. The original questioner said he could not accept that. At this point someone from the audience stood up pointing at the questioner and said "You, you shit". The original questioner responding to this man said "thank you". There was some more commotion and calls to move on.

Seventh questioner:

We Arabs has suffered too long. This boycott, what is it about? I have asked many times before but never got a response. Do you want 242 or 191 or all the land of the original Palestine? What is the goal? We can camouflage it and say it is about the occupation but what really is it that you want?

Betty Hunter:

We want to create a situation for the Palestinians to be able to exercise their rights to self determination. One state may be being forced on the world given the situation but it is up to the Palestinians to decide what they want as a state and what they will negotiate.

The pannel then summed up:

Sue Blackwell:

In so far as the academic boycott we have so far asked for narrow stuff. We want the Hebrew University to give back the land they took. We want Haifa University to respect academic freedom. In Haifa there was an MA student who wrote a thesis claiming that 200 people had been killed by the Haganah at the commencement of Israel. For his research he interviewed many people. The university was subsequently threatened with libel for this thesis. The university dropped him like a hot cake. Ilan Pappe then got involved and then the university picked on Pappe as well and tried to sack him.

I (Mikey) raised a point that the information about Pappe was factually inaccurate and if it went back on the AUT web site they would likely be the subject of a law suit initiated by Mischcon de Reya on behalf of Haifa University.

Sue responded that it is all up on her web site but it was up to the AUT what they wanted to do. She then continued:

It is not constructive to boycott individuals, it is not a boycott of Israeli academics or Jewish academics but just a boycott of Israeli universities.

There has been four law suits and I have received death threats about this boycott but I am not giving up.

Uri Davis:

No one predicted the date the Berlin Wall would come down or the date of the release of Nelson Mandela and no one can put a date on the success of the campaign we are promoting. We don't know when the apartheid wall will come down but it will definitely not come down if we don't campaign against it.

Betty is the General Secretary of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in the UK and is relatively restrained in what she can say. I am an ordinary resident in Israel and I am not restrained in my answer. I will continue to campaign for a boycott whilst all the apartheid laws surrounding the JNF land and the administrative and other apartheid laws are removed. Until that time we should continue to boycott and divest from Israel.

Betty Hunter:

Just because some people come along to intimidate us and take photos, we should not forget that we have many supporters from all walks of life. Thank you Uxbridge Seven.

The meeting then concluded but it was interesting to note someone at the back of the room shout out that there was a further meeting where Zionist were not invited to and were not welcome.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Do you think that George Galloway is an extremist

We were wondering whether Galloway was worth monitoring by this website. So it's up to you the viewer to decide. Is Galloway an extremist? enter the Poll.


In your opinion is George Galloway an extremist worth monitoring on an extremist monitoring blog?
No. He's a middle of the road politician

Free polls from Pollhost.com

Monday, January 23, 2006

Abu Hamza Trial

So today I went to sit in the Old Bailey and listen the Ugliest man in Britain 2005 defend himself against an accusation of racial hatred.

Obviously it is a little difficult to say much about this because of journalism restrictions.

Far fewer people in the public gallery than I'd imagined. (I think I can say that).

This could well be the first trial for Abs, but if it is true that the Americans are going to try and extradite him then he could have a whole string of hits, and may be he will be able to be no.1 fundamentalist in the US too.

- Jonny

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Letter of Protest

Hi, it's Oli - For those of you who want to email the Danish company but are unfamiliar with the practice of writing nasty letters to people, why not use my template, making whatever changes are appropriate:

London, 21st January 2006

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to protest at the business activities of “Fighters and Lovers” (herein referred to as “the Company”) as described on what I believe to be the Company’s official website at

I condemn the Company for its manifestations of financial support of and/or sympathy with the “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)”, and I call on you and the Company to reconsider your position.

I assure you and the Company that your activities are being monitored for any infringement of applicable laws, with a view to making representations to the appropriate authorities.

Yours faithfully,

Full Name

Fighters, Lovers and Terrorists

A Danish company by the name of 'Fighters and Lovers' ("the Company") is selling T-shirts bearing the name of two international terrorists organisations - the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known by its Spanish acronym FARC).

Not only is the Company selling PFLP and FARC-branded T-shirts, its website makes clear that 5 Euros (approx. US$ 6.07 or UK£ 3.43) per T-shirt will be sent to 'Palestine' or Colombia to help fund a radio station run by the PFLP or FARC!!

The website goes on to say "this is our tribute to these freedom fighters."

The story was covered by the BBC website yesterday; check it out at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4632578.stm

PLEASE take a couple of minutes out of your day to visit the Company's website at www.fightersandlovers.com - you will be shocked. You may wish to email the Company's representative 'Bobby' at bobby@fightersandlovers.com. Let him know what you think of the Company's activities!!

Also, it appears the Company uses a Paypal-style payment service known as eWire, another Danish organisation whose website is www.ewire.dk. I'm sure they'd be interested to know what kind of causes are being furthered via their payment facilities.

Jonny narrowly escaped becoming another statistic in the Middle East conflict in 2001, in a PFLP terrorist attack. This is serious stuff. If people in Denmark or elsewhere think it's trendy or hip to fund terrorist organisations from the safety of Scandinavia, they are wrong!!

Something must be done!


Well here it is - modest beginnings, but Oli and Jonny's controversial blog is now up and running.

I say controversial not because we aim to stir up controversy for the sake of it, but rather because we aim to use this blog to provide an alternative to the Left-Liberal prisim through which most academics and intellectuals tend to analyse important issues.

Terrorism, Extremism and the threat posed by Rogue Regimes are among some of Jonny's and my main concerns, and we'll tend to focus on these issues.

Focusing on developments in Britain, Europe and the Middle East, Jonny and I are particularly interested in:

(i) Monitoring and challenging extremist organisations on university campuses and elsewhere;

(ii) Monitoring and exposing websites, parties, organisations and individuals which support or have links to dubious groups around the world, and if necessary reporting them to the appropriate authorities;

(iii) Monitoring international media coverage of extremist organisations.

We hope you find our blog stimulating - get involved!!

Best regards,