Category Archives: Iran

The Poetry of Hizbullah.

To say that my question “Is this book pro-Hezbullah?” wasn’t well received on Tuesday night at SOAS is an understatement.

I was at the book launch of The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication written by Lina Khatib, Dina Matar and Atef Alshaer.

After I had asked my question Dina Matar said “I knew you were going to ask that” and Lina Khatib waved the book at me and said “Why don’t you read it?”

The book explains how Hizbullah has been successful in staying relevant since its 1982 inception by adapting itself to changing situations and communicating these adaptations through various means such as poetry and social media.

Hizbullah are poets? Who knew.

One can imagine: “To kill a Jew, or not to kill a Jew. That is the question.”

So, according to the authors, Hizbullah’s 1980s narrative was one of “victimisation” to attract Lebanon’s marginalised Shia Muslims.

During the 1990s it was one of “resistance” against Israel and connection with “Palestine”.

From 2000 onwards it was focused on “defence” after Israel had left south Lebanon with Hizbullah disseminating the narrative that the Lebanese army is not strong enough to defend Lebanon from Israel.

Now Hizbullah is back to a “victimisation” theme after being implicated in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and others by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and also due to its fighting alongside Bashar Assad in Syria.

Dina Matar said that although Hasan Nasrallah has lost some credibility because of Syria he is still popular, and people in the Arab world listen out for his speeches.

She said there’s a sense that Nasrallah is “just like us, he’s approachable, he speaks the language of the people, he’s funny, he jokes and he’s humble in appearance”.

If this is true then it is a sad indictment on the Arab world that with Hasan Nasrallah complicit in the deaths of over 200,000 innocent Syrians he is still thought so highly of.

I wasn’t trying to be controversial when I asked whether this is a pro-Hizbullah book. I was concerned by this comment by Lina Khatib at the beginning of her presentation on the book to the large student audience:

“Books on Hizbullah seek to frame Hizbullah as a terrorist movement. This is primordial. We have evidence to the contrary. But this is the dominant discourse in America.”

Khatib lives in America. One might forgive Americans for thinking such a thing with the murder of 241 of their fellow citizens by Hizbullah in Beirut in 1983.

And what about the 200,000 dead in Syria and Hizbullah’s attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aeries in 1992 (29 dead) and on the AMIA builing in Buenos Aeries in 1994 (85 dead), the Burghas Airport bombing in Bulgaria in 2012 (6 dead) and Hasan Nasrallah, true to his word of going after Jews worldwide, is now targeting Jews in Peru.

This book is worth reading (if you can stomach the 30 page chapter on Hizbullah poetry) but only with a view to finding out how a modern day Nazi group, totally funded by Iran, portraying itself as a positive force continues to hold a beautiful country like Lebanon to ransom while bringing death and destruction both to Lebanon’s citizens and to Syria all with the final objective of destroying Israel and the Jewish people that live there.

Protesters compare “Palestine” to Auschwitz and Dachau outside Israeli Embassy.

Yes, that really does say Auschwitz, Iraq, Dachau, Palestine.

Yes, that really does say Auschwitz, Iraq, Dachau, Palestine.

Some mocked the Holocaust, others disfigured the Israeli flag, a few screamed “Allahu Akbar”, they all called for the destruction of the Jewish state.

That was the scene outside London’s Israeli Embassy yesterday afternoon as many thousands thronged to hear blood-curdling speeches calling for the end of Israel.

Kensington High Street was closed off to traffic leaving London buses stranded by the protesters who requisitioned them and covered them with anti-Israel slogans.

The protest against Israel’s latest attack on Hamas in Gaza was a toxic mix of Islamists, trade unions like Unison, charities like War On Want, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and, of course, the extreme religious Jewish sect Neturei Karta.

I knew I had outstayed my welcome when a protester grabbed me and shouted “A Zionist!”. I shook him off and made for the relative safety of the tube station.

Here’s a clip for you to savour some of yesterday’s toxicity and some photos:

Disfiguring Israel's flag. At least they didn't burn it.

Disfiguring Israel’s flag. At least they didn’t burn it.

"Cheap Jewish settlements" because Jews are tight money grabbers of course!

“Cheap Jewish settlements” because Jews are tight money grabbers of course!

War On Want's Executive Director John Hilary.

War On Want’s Executive Director John Hilary.

Agreed! Palestinians should be freed from their Hamas oppressors.

Agreed! Palestinians should be freed from their Hamas oppressors.

Is that because Israel builds bomb shelters but Hamas doesn't bother, possibly?

Is that because Israel builds bomb shelters but Hamas doesn’t bother, possibly?

Courageous guy climbs a traffic light.

Courageous guy climbs a traffic light.

They're the stars of the show at these hate events.

They’re the stars of the show at these hate events.

Will she be off to protest against Assad, Iran, ISIS and Boko Haram now?

Will she be off to protest against Assad, Iran, ISIS and Boko Haram now?

Police under pressure and looking under-numbered for once.

Police under pressure and looking under-numbered for once.

Libyan support despite things not looking too rosy in Libya either.

Libyan support despite things not looking too rosy in Libya either.

One of our buses gets occupied. Tell Boris!

One of our buses gets occupied. Tell Boris!

Remind me to invite him over for Friday night dinner soon.

Remind me to invite him over for Friday night dinner soon.

War On Want flags. WOW to be renamed War On Israel anyone?

War On Want flags. WOW to be renamed War On Israel anyone?

Not too sure what to say about this, so I think I'll leave it at that.

Not too sure what to say about this, so I think I’ll leave it at that.

Hmm, they mean Iran, Saudi, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq don't they? Oh wait...

Hmm, they mean Iran, Saudi, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq don’t they? Oh wait…

Can we have our bus back now please?

Can we have our bus back now please?

Errr, the problem is not Gaza, the problem is Hamas.

Errr, the problem is not Gaza, the problem is Hamas.

Ask them to ring back, you're at an anti-Israel protest!

Ask them to ring back, you’re at an anti-Israel protest!

War On Want No! Who can argue with that?

War On Want No! Who can argue with that?

Oh really. Now where does it say such a silly thing like that?

Oh really. Now where does it say such a silly thing like that?

"Cover up, sweety, it's getting a bit chilly". Aw.

“Cover up, sweety, it’s getting a bit chilly”. Aw.

(I dedicate this blog to the memory of my recently deceased mum whom I loved and miss and who, before she lost the ability to speak due to her terminal illness, always gave me one piece of treasured advice when she knew I was going to an anti-Israel event: “Be careful.”)

My appearance on 4ThoughtTV: Are Jews Still Persecuted in Britain Today?

Tonight at 7.55pm on Channel 4 I am in 4ThoughtTV’s slot on whether Jews are still persecuted in Britain today, which is the theme of the week.

There are seven contributions in all. Here is the link to mine and the other six:

http://www.4thought.tv/themes/are-jews-still-persecuted-in-britain-today/richard-millett?autoplay=true

1. I spoke about my experiences of harassment at anti-Israel events when I have merely tried to get Israel’s point of view across.

2. Stephen Sizer is an anti-Israel/anti-Zionist Christian Minister. I once went to hear him speak at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event held in a church. He said, inter alia, that churches that side with Israel have “repudiated Jesus, have repudiated the bible and are an abomination”. On my way out of that meeting I was accosted by an audience member who let out some of the most Holocaust denying anti-Jewish vitriol I have ever heard. She told me, inter alia, that Jews died in the Holocaust from having “had their foreskins chopped off.”

In his 4Thought clip Sizer claims it’s important to be able to criticise certain Israeli policies without being accused of anti-Semitism. Let’s be clear: criticising Israel’s policies is legitimate, just like it is legitimate to criticise the policies of any country.

Sizer and his ilk are accused of anti-Semitism because they want the world’s only Jewish state to disappear. This is completely different to criticising Israel’s policies. Instead, they single out the Jewish state, the collective Jew, for destruction. So, Sizer is being highly disingenuous. If he were truthful he would have admitted he wants the Jewish state removed.

3. Another who wants the Jewish state removed is Ahron Cohen, of the extremist religious Jewish sect the Neturei Karta which believes that Jews should only go to the Holy Land once they have received a direct order from God to do so. The Neturei Karta also embraces Iran’s Holocaust denying President Ahmadinejad who repeatedly calls for the destruction of Israel. Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei has referred to Israel as “the Zionist cancerous tumour in the heart of the Islamic world”.

In his clip, Cohen blames Palestinian terrorism “on the very existence of the sectarian state known as Israel”.

4. Mike Marcus has also fallen for the myth that “The Zionist lobby uses the label of anti-Semitism to silence their critics”.

5. Jose Martin correctly blames the media for whipping up anti-Semitism due to its unfair reportage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

6. Yisrael Abeles, a Holocaust survivor, also blames the media for driving much of what has, these days, become “institutionalised anti-Semitism” as opposed to street anti-Semitism.

7. The most moving clip is by schoolgirl Eden Simones-Jones who says that she still suffers from depression and anxiety due to anti-Semitic harassment. She finishes:

“If people say there is no problem with anti-Semitism, I think they should wake-up, open their eyes and really look about what’s going out there because they’re obviously sheltered in their own little dreamland where everything’s rosy, because anti-Semitism’s everywhere. You’ve just got to know what to look for.”

Sadly, she’s right. Anti-Semitism is everywhere. In Britain today anti-Zionism, an attack on Israel as the collective Jew, is the modern updated version of anti-Semitism, the attack on Jews as individuals. “Anti-Zionism” is a label that has been adopted by many of Britain’s  academics, journalists, politicians, religious leaders and charities to hide their true feelings about Jews. This is the “institutionalised anti-Semitism” referred to by Yisrael Abeles.

Nick Clegg just can’t bring himself to support Israeli defensive action against Iran.

The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg attended a Q&A session at Hasmonean School in north-west London last night. The event was staged by the Jewish News and chaired by ITV correspondent Tom Bradby

While Israel was under concerted rocket fire from Hamas in 2009 Clegg wrote “We must stop arming Israel”. In 2010 he acknowledged that there had not always been an equal voice for Israel within the Liberal Democrats and in 2011 he said he craved a time when the Community Service Trust, which protects Britain’s small Jewish community, wasn’t needed.

He did finally force Jenny Tonge to resign from the Lib Dems. when she said that Israel won’t be here forever, but it was also back to business as usual this year when he called Israel’s settlements “deliberate vandalism”.

Clegg doesn’t get that it’s precisely this hostility to Israel which is one of the main reasons the CST continues to be needed. Whenever he and his ilk criticize Israel’s defensive actions or the settlements in such an unbalanced manner synagogues and Jewish schools have to tighten their security and it gives encouragement to those seeking to harass Israeli-owned shops and disrupt Israeli productions visiting these shores.

Surprisingly, there were very few questions about Israel and the Middle East last night considering that Israel is still under constant fire from Hamas rockets, David Cameron is currently in the Middle East selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the so-called Arab Spring is descending into mass murder and oppression.

However, my colleague Jeremy Havardi was given the opportunity to ask the following on Iran:

“I gather you support the policy of sanctions against Iran, which is great. Will you support an Israeli strike on Iran if it was an absolute last resort in stopping its illegal nuclear weapons programme?”

Notice the words “absolute last resort”. A simple question, but Clegg spent the next 6 minutes obfuscating even when pushed twice to answer Havardi’s question by Bradby. Here is some of how Clegg didn’t answer the question:

“I would counsel against the idea that there is a simple military solution.”

“Most experts say that if you took military action you’d probably delay a nuclear programme, but you wouldn’t eliminate it.”

“What we are doing is, if it works, more effective….squeezing harder and harder with tougher sanctions, which are having a real effect…”

“To risk all the dangers of a unilateral military strike, which might not provide a permanent solution… is unwise.”

Clegg continued in the same vein even when Bradby asked whether Clegg would expect military action once Iran had loaded nuclear weapon technology into a missile and, finally, if Israel’s intelligence showed that they couldn’t sit and tolerate the situation anymore.

Yet still Clegg could not bring himself to support Israeli defensive action, even against such an existential threat as an all-out nuclear attack.

Luckily, my colleague Clive wasn’t given the opportunity to ask “What’s the capital of Israel?” Just imagine how long it would have taken Clegg to answer.

Here is Clegg’s full answer from last night:

Paralympics are Go: Israeli team receives warm welcome from home crowd.

A simple message from last night.

A simple message from last night.

Londoners have been suffering severe bouts of POD (Post Olympics Depression) this last few weeks, so it was good that the Paralympics have finally arrived and last night was the opening ceremony, which I was lucky to attend.

The theme for the evening was one of exploration, both of ourselves and the universe we inhabit, and the narrator was none other than Professor Stephen Hawking.

After a colourful opening (see below) the teams from the 164 competing nations filed round the track in the usual alphabetical order.

Typically, Iran and Iraq are alphabetically close to Israel but luckily the partying Irish are in the middle to diffuse any underlying tensions.

The Israeli team received a warm welcome when they emerged from the tunnel, as you can see here:

But nothing beats the noise and emotion when the home nation emerges as here with Paralympics Team GB:

I know we aren’t supposed to feel sorry for the athletes. But, as they filed round I couldn’t help feeling upset by the missing limbs on such young people while imagining the hardship this must entail every day of their lives. The organisers didn’t shy away from the issue and surprisingly played a version of Spasticus Autisticus by Ian Dury.

Finally, after three and a half hours we were sent on our way after a very moving rendition of I Am What I Am by Beverley Knight:

From last night also:

Reproduction of Marc Quinn's sculpture of disabled artist Alison Lapper heavily pregnant.

Reproduction of Marc Quinn’s sculpture of disabled artist Alison Lapper heavily pregnant.

The Israelis are in the house.

The Israelis are in the house.

Umbrella lifts to illuminate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Umbrella lifts to illuminate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Marching with the Union Flag before it is raised.

Marching with the Union Flag before it is raised.

A Union Flag coloured eyeball (I think).

A Union Flag coloured eyeball (I think).

Mesmerised by algebraic equations and logarithms.

Mesmerised by algebraic equations and logarithms.

Trigger from Only Fools and Horses says “Don’t attack Iran”.

Roger Lloyd Pack - "intellect has rapidly diminished over the years until it reached its current level of hilarious stupidity"

Roger Lloyd Pack - "intellect has rapidly diminished over the years until it reached its current level of hilarious stupidity"

It’s a shame when an actor from one of Britain’s best loved comedies joins with the forces of darkness to come to the defence of one of the world’s most reviled regimes, but such is the fate of Roger Lloyd Pack who played Trigger in the BBC’s Only Fools and Horses.

Lloyd Pack is a seasoned anti-Israel activist and so it is no surprise to find his signature among the usual suspects in a letter to Wednesday’s Guardian supporting Stop The War Coalition’s Don’t Attack Iran Campaign.

Ironically, the BBC website gives the following description of Trigger:

“Although initially a (relatively speaking) sharp-minded villain Trigger’s intellect has rapidly diminished over the years until it reached its current level of hilarious stupidity.”

Who said art doesn’t sometimes mirror life?

The Guardian website even generously links the letter to the Don’t Attack Iran Campaign website. Why take out an expensive ad in a national newspaper, hire an expensive London venue or print millions of leaflets when all you need do nowadays is write a letter to The Guardian who will give you free advertising space if you’re anti-Israel.

The familiarity of these hardcore anti-Israel signatories is positive in as much as it shows how so alone they are in their support for such an oppressive ideology as Iran’s:

Tony Benn,
Jeremy Corbyn MP,
Brian Eno,
Lindsey German,
George Galloway,
Kate Hudson,
Jemima Khan,
Ken Loach,
Roger Lloyd Pack,
Lowkey,
Len McCluskey,
John McDonnell MP,
John Pilger,
Michael Rosen,
Jenny Tonge.

You’d have thought that after her forced resignation from her party after wishing away Israel’s existence they might have left Jenny Tonge off for once but, then again, her recent statements that “Israel is not going to be there forever” and “then they will reap what they have sown” ties in nicely with Ahmadinejad’s genocidal desire to wipe Israel off the map.

Some say Ahmadinejad was mistranslated and that he merely wanted to eradicate Zionism.

Let’s forget that Israel and Zionism are not mutually exclusive and gloss over Ahmadinejad’s “mistranslation” and listen to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei who, as reported by Press TV, “described Israel as a cancerous tumor that must be removed”.

It doesn’t get more unambiguous than that and straight from the fool’s and horse’s mouth!

And calling it an attack on Iran is like calling Operation Cast Lead an attack on Gaza or on the Palestinians when, in actual fact, it was a legitimate attack on the terrorist group Hamas in self-defence.

Attacking Iran’s nuclear sites will also be a legitimate act of self-defence unless Iran opens itself up to a full nuclear inspection in accordance with its non-proliferation treaty obligations, something that it has so far proved suspiciously unwilling to do.

And calling itself Stop The War Coalition is as equally disingenuous. Let Them Die Coalition would be far more accurate judging by their calls for non-intervention in Libya and, now, Syria.

The Guardian letter compares the build up to a possible war with Iran to that with Iraq. But Stop The War Coalition’s approach is itself reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of another evil regime.

Galloway and German say they aren’t pacifists and Galloway has said that World War Two was a just war, but how can he, and we, be so sure he would have called it “just” at the time.

Stop The War Coalition is, basically, an organisation that supports non-intervention against regimes that are anti-American and/or anti-Israel. They were ecstatic when pro-American/pro-Israel Mubarak fell in Egypt but have criticised NATO’s ousting of anti-American/anti-Israel Gaddafi and will no way want Assad to fall with the negative impact that would have on Iran and, ultimately, Hezbollah and Hamas.

The hypocrisy of the signatories to The Guardian letter is fully exposed when Stop The War Coalition feels comfortable standing back watching Libyans and Syrians slaughtered in their droves while defending the vile Iranian regime and staying silent about the continued oppression of Iran’s women, gays, Jews (the 25,000 strong community is limited to one MP), Bahais, Kurds and anyone wanting to live a life in Iran as free as those signatories themselves can do in the west.

George Galloway: “Iran ready to fight to the last drop of blood”.

Shirin Shafaie, Chris Nineham, Tony Benn, Lindsey German, Abbas Edalat prepare to spout nonsense.

Shirin Shafaie, Chris Nineham, Tony Benn, Lindsey German, Abbas Edalat prepare to spout nonsense.

George Galloway gave warning that should Iran be attacked by Israel then “the Persian Gulf will be on fire, the Straights of Hormuz will be on fire and the allies of America in the Gulf will be on fire” and Iran will also answer “inside Iraq”.

And he said that Iran is ready to fight to the last drop of blood.

He called on Muslims not to “fall for this gigantic fraud in which the imperialist countries who were bombing and murdering one kind of Muslim in Iraq now want to mobilise that kind of Muslim against another kind of Muslim on a sectarian basis dividing the Muslim world” and he warned that “once they’ve dealt with the Shi’ites, they’ll deal with you”:

Galloway was the final act in Monday night’s Don’t Attack Iran meeting in London organised by The Stop The War Coalition, a coalition that is against any war (unless it’s against Israel, of course), even the war in Libya which would have left possibly thousands to be massacred in Benghazi by Gaddafi’s forces had NATO not intervened.

And only a dunce from the Green Party could invoke the Nazis like Darren Johnson AM did when he warned that attacking Iran would unite the whole of Iran just like attacks by the Nazis even united the Conservatives and the Communists in this country:

Well, that wasn’t the case in Libya was it! NATO’s attacks on Gaddafi’s troops strengthened the opposition leading to Gaddafi’s downfall. And, likewise, I am sure that the good people of Iran would welcome an attack on their own cruel regime that still stones women to death and hangs gays for being gay. Johnson should stick to dealing with matters to do with London as he obviously hasn’t a clue about foreign affairs.

And then there was Tony Benn, the President of The Stop The War Coalition, claiming that the only reason America wants to attack Iran is because of its oil. Oh come on, Tony, you can do better than reel off that tired old line:

Benn disappeared early after the usual announcement that he had to be up early to give yet another talk, although it was more likely the lure of a hot cup of cocoa and a pair of warm slippers that sent him on his way.

Other speakers told us how cuddly and peaceful today’s Iran, basically, is. It had never attacked anyone, don’t you know!

Abbas Edalat, a professor in Computer Science at Imperial College, thought the war against Iran had started in 1979 after the Revolution, while Shirin Shafaie, a researcher at SOAS, claimed it started as far back as 1953 with the overthrow of Mossadeq.

Edalat claimed there was even a self-imposed fatwa against Iran possessing nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction and that the aim of the West was to recolonise Iran like it did in 1953.

These people honestly believe the rubbish that pours out of their mouths. It is a remarkable sociological study to hear such delusion and to see how an audience, albeit a small one, laps up this rhetoric.

Oh, and just in case there wasn’t enough instability in the Middle East I was passed a leaflet detailing how Palestinians living inside Israel and those from the West Bank and Gaza are due to be joined by Palestinians and others from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan for a Global March to Jerusalem arriving in Jerusalem on “Land Day” (30th March 2012 to you and me).

For an organisation that claims to want to stop war The Stop The War Coalition tries its damned hardest to encourage as much bloodshed in the Middle East as it possibly can.