Tag 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.

Guardian writer George Monbiot: “Time for an air war against Israel.”

Cross-posted at CiFWatch.

In a deeply ironic article The Guardian’s George Monbiot asks why, in light of NATO’s current air war against Islamic State, the west doesn’t “bomb the Muslim world – all of it” and possibly “flatten the entire Middle East and West Asia” his thesis being that with there being so many human rights abusers in the region why concentrate solely on Islamic State/ISIS.

No article like this for The Guardian would be complete unless it contained a totally unjustified attack on Israel. Soon into his piece Monbiot writes:

“In Gaza this year, 2,100 Palestinians were massacred: including people taking shelter in schools and hospitals. Surely these atrocities demand an air war against Israel?”

Monbiot adopts the usual hard-left line of Israel having committed a “massacre” in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. He is doing the work of Hamas’ propaganda arm for them. Civilians were the main victims of Operation Protective Edge, as they are in any war. Civilians are already being killed by NATO in Syria.

But a significant proportion of those 2,100 dead in Gaza are likely to have been the Hamas fighters who had fired rockets at Israeli citizens from nearby to those schools and hospitals, who had dug attack-tunnels under Israel and who came out of those tunnels with the aim of killing as many Israelis as possible.

Monbiot goes on to suggest air attacks against Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Shia militias in Iraq due to the horrendous treatment of many citizens in those countries by their governments.

By citing Israel alongside such oppressive oppressive regimes Monbiot puts Israel on a par with with some of the worst human rights abusers when in fact Israel is not only the most liberal country in the region but on a par with the west when it comes to, inter alia, freedom of speech, freedom to practice religion and freedom to express one’s sexuality.

But Monbiot’s biggest crime in this article is to underplay what is happening to religious minorities at the hands of Islamic State.

Monbiot cites individual cases of human rights abuses by the corrupt dictatorships in Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia but is this really on the same level as lining up hundreds of innocent civilians and shooting them in the head before pushing their lifeless bodies into a river or shooting them dead in mass pits, burying them alive or crucifying them like Islamic State terrorists have done to Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims and others?

No reasonable person could approve of what has been happening on a daily basis in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iraq. But the regimes that head these countries are not Islamic State.

Neither is the west ignorant of these countries and has been attempting “political solutions” that Monbiot calls for in the penultimate paragraph of his piece. A change of leadership was recently forced through in Iraq and short-lived democracy movements sprung up in Iran, Bahrain and Syria. Although the latter were brutally oppressed they are waiting to rise again. Courageous women continue to attempt to demonstrate for more freedoms in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Islamic State is far worse than these corrupt dictatorships. Roger Boyes in the London Times (behind paywall) sums up the war against Islamic State:

“The mission would be easier if we were pitted against a corrupt dictatorship since no amount of brainwashing can stop conscript soldiers making the calculation: is it worth dying to defend this man’s palaces? Splitting Isis is infinitely more complex.”

There are no calculations for Islamic State’s brainwashed terrorists to make. Defending, propagating and dying for their extreme interpretation of Islam is their only objective. All obstacles are liquidated.

Monbiot fails to fully grasp this.

His piece does justice neither to Israel, expected from him, nor to those suffering under the brutality of Islamic State, unexpected from him.

A bad week for “Britain’s powerful Israel Lobby”.

IMO secretary-general Koji Sekimuzu addresses Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub last week.

IMO secretary-general Koji Sekimuzu addresses the Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub last week.

In the last few weeks accusations of Britain having a “powerful Israel Lobby” are being reiterated once again.

David Ward MP tweeted “shame there isn’t a powerful, well funded Board of Deputies for Roma”. This seems to be an indirect reference to the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Meanwhile, in his opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph Peter Oborne described Conservative Friends of Israel as “by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group”.

Oborne attacks CFI for acting “as if every Jew in the country is a Likud supporter” on the basis that CFI seemed to be parroting Netanyahu’s criticisms of Iran’s interim nuclear agreement with Britain, USA, France, Russia, Germany and China.

In 2009 Oborne made a documentary for Channel 4 called Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby which he introduced with the sinister line “Tonight on dispatches how British policy is influenced by supporters of a foreign power”.

So I thought about how effective these lobbies actually are and the recent picture doesn’t look rosy.

The irony of Oborne’s piece for the Daily Telegraph is that “by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group” did not achieve for Israel what Israel had wanted, namely the total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear programme.

For, let’s remember, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has said that “Israel is a cancer that must be removed”. No, not the “Zionist entity” or even “the Apartheid state”, but Israel, hook, line and sinker.

Then we discover that Britain has been carrying on behind-the-scenes negotiations with Hezbollah. Hezbollah is Iran’s surrogate in Lebanon and Syria and is also determined to annihilate Israel.

Britain, unlike America, quite unbelievably recognises Hezbollah’s political wing, despite this political wing, no doubt, directing the military wing to bomb American and Jewish targets around the world. Britain’s talks with Hezbollah were not explicitly condoned by America, which doesn’t recognise either wing of Hezbollah, but America “will listen with interest” to what is being said.

Then Universities UK produced a document on preserving free speech in universities and in one section the document gives a case study on what to do in the event that any speaker is disrupted. Remarkably, it is British Jews who are the transgressors in this fictional case study.

Case Study 4 “Israel and Palestine” describes how a university’s Jewish society and the local synagogue have expressed concerns about a pro-Palestinian speaker. The local Rabbi has even written to the local paper. During the event “there are concerted attempts to shout the speaker down and prevent him from speaking”. People are asked to leave and do so voluntarily (see page 30 of said document).

I have never heard of British Jews actually trying to prevent a pro-Palestinian speaker from speaking. It is pro-Israel speakers who are regularly shouted down as was the case recently in Sheffield when protesters stormed the stage at the Model United Nations student conference while Israeli deputy ambassador Alon Roth-Snir was speaking.

Finally, the International Maritime Organisation is currently meeting in its 28th session in London. On the agenda was the election of 40 member states to the IMO’s Council.

Israel was up for election and a few days before the vote I found myself in a bar in Westminster among diplomats from various IMO member countries. Israel’s Ambassador Daniel Taub gave a speech and the secretary-general of the Council lit the Chanukah candles.

Over canapes and an endless supply of wine the idea was to mingle and sing Israel’s praises. The Bahamas delegation assured me Israel and they were voting for each other so I moved on. The Turkish delegate assured me that “there was every possibility” that he would vote for Israel.

Turkey and the Bahamas were among those elected, but Israel failed despite the incredible contribution Israel can make to important seafaring issues such as security, safety and technology.

It was yet another failure chalked up by Britain’s “powerful Israel Lobby”.

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:

Anti-Israel QC: “Israel is not the most peaceful of nations.”

As soon as you hear that someone is a human rights lawyer you hope that the subject will not move on to Israel because, for many on the left these days, human rights do not apply to Israel.

This was apparent last night when human rights lawyer John Cooper QC (here’s his showbiz blog) appeared on Sky News to review today’s newspapers alongside Deborah Haynes, Defence Editor of The Times.

Haynes and Cooper were reviewing the story on page 4 of today’s Daily MailIsrael planning to attack Iran before U.S. election‘. Haynes was discussing the ramifications of such an attack and the possibility of scud attacks on Israel. She said she had just returned from Israel and felt that no decision had yet been taken by Israel on attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.

She tried to stay objective by restating Iran’s claim that its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes.

Then Cooper had his say and you got a sense of what the chatter around his dinner table must be like when he and his guests discuss the Middle East. Here is the exchange:

Cooper: “You’re the expert on this obviously but I sometimes think we should take a moment to step back from demonising everytime Iran is mentioned. I’m not going to support or standby the atrocities and appalling behaviour that takes place in Iran, certainly not. But I think we often need to analyse what Israel may say is happening. And just because they are saying it is Iran doesn’t mean to say we should always take it from Israel.”

Haynes: “I think it is Iran that is developing nuclear weapons.”

Cooper: “Yes, but on the other hand Israel is not the most peaceful of nations.”

Haynes: “Well, it has got quite combative neighbours. Iran has said that it wants to wipe Israel off the planet.”

Cooper: “All I will say is we shouldn’t always accept, when it comes to international politics, that Israel is the most peaceful of nations. They can be bellicose and they can, to use a colloquialism, ‘wind people up’ as far as their neighbours are concerned.”

Haynes: “Well, they’re using every tool in their box.”

Cooper: “And they have big friends with the Americans, which some of us dont.”

Haynes: “Well, that’s the big thing; whether they can do it on their own or whether America will have to help them and a lot of people say they wouldn’t be able to actually effectively destroy the nuclear facilities on their own.”

Cooper: “The Israel-American axis is sometimes overpowering.”

So, I am not sure what is more disturbing:

1. Cooper acknowledging that Iran commits “atrocities” against its own people, yet he still seems willing to trust Iran’s word over Israel’s.

2. Cooper acknowledging that Iran is developing nuclear weapons but it doesn’t seem to bother him much because, after all, the nation of Israel does tend to “wind people up”. Is the implication that, because of such behaviour, Israelis deserve to be nuked?

3. Cooper twice referring to Israel as “not the most peaceful of nations“. What other country in the world gets referred to as a “nation” these days? For example, in the above exchange Cooper refers to America, not the American “nation”.

Does “nation” include EVERY Israeli? 18% of Israelis are Arabs. I presume he doesn’t mean to include those Arabs, so he must mean EVERY Jewish Israeli?

Seeing as being Jewish seems to be a defining trait could this definition be extended to Jews not just living in Israel? The history of the Jewish people contains, after all, many people who thought we had a knack of winding them up and our ancestors paid a heavy price for such false sentiments.

Either way, had someone said that, for example, Pakistan, the Palestinians or the French are not peaceful nations would that not be considered to have racist overtones?

Worryingly, Cooper has been named by The Times as one of the top 100 influential lawyers of 2012 in the UK.

I wish Haynes had picked Cooper up on his use of the term “nation”. The next best thing would be to be a fly on the wall at one of Cooper’s dinner parties when the subject of the Middle East comes up.

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.