Tag Archives: tony benn

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.

Sarah Colborne. You’re fired.

Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burden and Yasmin Qureshi owe Theresa May, the Home Secretary, a huge debt of gratitude for having had Sheikh Raed Salah detained on Tuesday night. She might just have saved their careers.

Had the homophobic preacher been allowed to speak at wednesday night’s event at the Houses of Parliament there would now be photographs circulating of them sharing a platform with him.

These photos would, no doubt, have featured in the political literature for the next general election and would probably have led to these MPs’ crushing defeats, as sharing platforms with self-confessed homophobes is not something the British public would wish to be associated with.

Instead Salah is awaiting deportation back to Israel.

Meanwhile, in his defence Middle East Monitor and Palestine Solidarity Campaign have been raising the straw man that Salah is not an anti-Semite on the basis of lack of proof.

While he is accused of claiming that Jews use the blood of children to make their bread, his blatant homophobia has not been made a huge issue of. His supporters are defending him only against claims of anti-Semitism.

Qureshi and Burden issued similar statements along these lines.

But Just Journalism has now uncovered a 2003 interview with Haaretz where Salah gave these answers:

What is your opinion of the legislation now being discussed in the Knesset, which would grant Muslim women rights similar to those of Jewish women in matters of personal status?

“That bill is tantamount to a war on Islam. It is an attempt to dictate different, foreign values that are neither Muslim nor Palestinian values.”

What is your opinion of homosexuality?

“It is a crime. A great crime. Such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society. Those who believe in Allah know that behavior of that kind brings his wrath and is liable to cause the worst things to happen. There is no solution for this, unless the individual’s faith is strengthened.”

In this statement Salah denies most of the accusations:

“It has been claimed that he repeated a ‘blood libel’ by saying, ‘among those whose blood was mixed with the sacred (Jewish) bread’; this is an absolute lie and a malicious fabrication.”

“With regard to the statement that ‘the Creator made from you [the Jews] monkeys and losers’, this is again a lie and fabrication.”

“I unequivocally condemn all forms of racism, including anti- Semitism, Islamophobia, and racism towards my own people, the Palestinians.”

There are no denials about his homophobia and thoughts on the inequality of women.

So what does Sarah Colborne think of sharing a platform with someone who thinks homosexuality “is a crime…that is liable to cause the worst things to happen”. Obviously nothing.

Colborne uses her own homosexuality as a political weapon. She recently wrote to Marc Almond complaining about “real homophobia confronted by the LGBT community inside Israel” and urged him to cancel his tour to Israel. He did cancel, although Almond said it “was not for any political reason”:

“Dear Marc Almond,
I was shocked to hear that you were scheduled to perform in Israel. Listening to your music, I always assumed that you had a clear and unstinting compassion for those who face discrimination and oppression. Your music provided the soundtrack to many lesbians and gay men growing up in a hostile society. And as a lesbian who has been actively supporting Palestinian rights for over a decade, I felt obliged to write to you personally.

Israel is attempting to ‘pinkwash’ itself as tolerant, and gay-friendly in an attempt to paint over the discrimination, racism and apartheid that Palestinians face on a daily basis. It is an attempt to cover up Israel’s flouting of international law and its violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Those who support Israel’s crimes continue to propogate the colonialist fantasies of a civilised and gay-friendly Israel, as opposed to hostile, homophobic Palestinians. This not only denies the real homophobia confronted by the LGBT community inside Israel, but also the reality of life as a lesbian or gay Palestinian living under a brutal military occupation. By propogating this fantasy, Israel is attempting to co-opt support from LGBT artists and activists in other countries for its violence towards Palestinians.

I have worked with the Palestinian community in Britain and internationally, travelled to Palestinian towns and villages, and I was on the Mavi Marmara last year when it was attacked by Israeli commandos whilst in international waters, taking aid to Gaza. Our shared experiences of homophobia and discrimination should make us even more sensitive to, and supportive of, the cause of equality, freedom and justice for Palestine.

I urge you to listen to the voices of Palestinian gay and lesbian organisations, for example Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PQBDS). Please listen to those of us in the LGBT community in Britain, who believe that until Palestinians are free, none of us are free.

The cause of Palestine is the cause of justice and freedom. Please do not taint the love of the LGBT community for your music by playing in Israel.

Sarah Colborne”

Yet, here she is sitting next to him on Monday night at an event sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which she heads, and Middle East Monitor.

Conway Hall: Salah and Sarah Colborne in the middle

Conway Hall: Salah and Sarah Colborne in the middle

It just goes to show that Salah’s vile views can be overlooked where the joint goal is the vilification of Israel.

Will Qureshi, Corbyn and Burden now denounce Salah as a homophobe or do they consider homophobia to be less serious than anti-Semitism?

At the next general election the British public will be made well aware that these three Labour MPs were due to share a platform with someone who has clearly expressed homophobic views.

And what about the PSC, which sponsored the event on Monday night where Salah spoke and sponsored the event at Parliament on Wednesday where he was due to speak?

Will the PSC’s patrons stay silent about an organisation they support, but which has now sponsored a homophobic preacher?

Those patrons include Tony Benn, actress Julie Christie, Victoria Brittain, playwright Caryl Churchill (who wrote Seven Jewish Children), RMT leader Bob Crow, writer William Dalrymple, the reverend Garth Hewitt, Ghada Karmi, Bruce Kent, Lowkey, Karma Nabulsi, Ilan Pappe, Alexei Sayle and Benjamin Zephania.

On the Reverend Stephen Sizer’s blog there is also a defence of Salah. Salah is referred to as a “well-respected Palestinian leader”.

Do Salah’s views on homosexuality make him a well-respected leader?

On The Apprentice the project manager on the losing team is invariably fired for the team’s losing performance. In the case of PSC chief Sarah Colborne Alan Sugar would already be pointing his finger and saying:

“Sarah. You’re fired.”

Jody McIntyre: “We will set the streets of London alight”

The Neturei Karta picking up some tips on Tuesday night.

The Neturei Karta picking up some tips on Tuesday night.

On Tuesday night there was yet another of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s rallies to try to delegitimise Israel’s attempts to defend its citizens against Hamas’ rocket attacks.

Unsurprisingly, the PSC called the rally “Remembering Israel’s War on Gaza”.

First, Hugh Lanning, the PSC Chair, recited his poem (below). Then we rose for a one minute silence to remember the “1400 people slaughtered in Gaza”. Murdered Israelis were ignored:

They stole my land,
Burnt my orange trees,
Destroyed my house,
Took my water,
Bombed my country,
Killed my mother,
Took my job,
Starved us all,
Humiliated us all,
And I am to blame for I shot a rocket back.

So they stole more of my land,
Burnt my orange trees,
Destroyed my house,
Took my water,
Bombed my country.

Tony Benn (see clip below) then told us that “what we have in Palestine is an Israeli state which is, in effect, an American colony” and gave us this synopsis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

The Palestinians had lived for thousands of years in Palestine.
The Balfour Declaration was to bring America into World War One.
“Rich Jews came in and they bought farm and land off the Palestinians”.
“The Jews settled in Palestine and then in 1948 they declared a state, got recognition and the Palestinians were driven out of their homes.”

From Jody McIntrye (see clip below) we got fighting talk.

McIntrye is the new darling of the far-left. He was profiled in the Observer recently in an article on internet radicals and was, inexplicably, pulled from his wheelchair by the police during the violent student riots in London, which gained him even more media exposure. He blogs at Life on Wheels.

He pulled no punches:

“Whether you are fighting against Millbank or Mubarak, if you are fighting for freedom, we are with you.”

And with reference to the recent self-immolations in the Arab world: “We must take inspiration from them this year when we set the streets of London alight.”

The far-left loves McIntyre, but not as much as they love the rapper Lowkey.

Lowkey (see clip below) gave us a lecture on why you should be proud to be an anti-Zionist and how anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.

His reasoning was that the French resistance against the Nazis was not because of anti-German feeling and objection to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was not due to anti-American or anti-British feeling. Similarly, anti-Zionism does not mean you hate Jews.

But he told us: “Israel today is every bit the supremacist state that Theodore Herzl intended it to be.”

It was Lowkey who played the meeting out with his rap anthem: “Free Palestine, Free Gaza”.

Sadly, George Galloway (who was in Beirut), Gerald Kaufman, Ghada Karmi, Jenny Tonge and Caroline Lucas, who we were promised, were absent last night but they sent messages of support.

Mohammad Sawalha, of the British Muslim Institute and who organises the Gaza flotillas, updated us on plans for the next flotilla, which is due to be launched from London to arrive in Gaza for the anniversary of the Mavi Marmara tragedy in May.

Meanwhile, this Friday night at the Trinity United Reform Church from 6pm to 10pm is the 6th Camden Festival for Palestine. Frank Dobson MP is due to be joined by Roger Lloyd-Pack, who played Trigger in Only Fools and Horses, and Ivor Dembina, who is described on the flier as “Jewish stand-up comedian”.

And Ahron Cohen, of the Neturei Karta, is speaking at LSE on 1st February (room E171, East Building, 6pm-7.30pm.)

Cohen will talk on, surprise, surprise, “Are Judaism and Zionism incompatible?

Harry’s Place recalls that Cohen stated that the Holocaust would never have succeeded “if the victim did not deserve it in one way or another”.

Feel free to go and express polite disapproval of Mr Cohen.

Ahava feels the heat

Thirty anti-Israel protesters congregated outside Ahava in Covent Garden for two hours on Sunday handing out leaflets and singing anti-Israel slogans. There was, as ever, a small counter-demonstration.

The incessant chants of “Israeli mud, Palestinian blood” disturb adjacent shop-owners and residents who might now ask Ahava’s landlords not to renew Ahava’s lease.

Obviously this is unfair. The protests, that take place every two weeks now, have nothing to do with Ahava. It is a perfectly legitimate business that provides a valid service to a strong customer base.

The protesters handed out leaflets sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Boycott Israeli Goods that call for the banning of “illegal settlement produce”. International Solidarity Campaign is also an organiser.

But as with all of these protests, it isn’t really about settlement produce.

An organisation called “Boycott Israeli Goods” gives away the true nature of the protests and when you start speaking to the protesters the settlements are the last thing they mention.

They talk of the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Arabs from Israel in 1948, the seige of Gaza and the supposedly awful treatment of Palestinian Israelis.

As for the latter I am sure that there is much more than Israel can do to alleviate poor conditions for many of the 1.2 million Palestinian Israelis that live inside Israel.

But many of them do very well economically and enjoy all social freedoms. Such freedoms they could only dream of if they lived under other Arab governments, including a Palestinian one. Recently, Islamic extremists destroyed a United Nations summer camp for children in Gaza.

As for “ethnic cleansing” I am still trying to get my head around the arithmetic of how 600,000 Jews could possibly ethnically cleanse 750,000 Palestinians while fighting both them and the invading armies of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon.

And as for the siege, the protesters forget that it is enforced by Egypt also. Most Israelis are unhappy with such a “siege” but know the tragic consequences of allowing Hamas to appropriate imported materials meant for the people of Gaza. This would allow Hamas to quickly replenish its deadly stock of Kassam rockets.

Even the leaflets the protesters hand out make no pretence that this is only about settlement produce.

The leaflets state: “This call for a ban on illegal settlement produce is part of a campaign to boycott all Israeli goods until Israel abides by international law and respects human rights.”

So now, it seems, anyone can find a political issue they are passionate about and harrass a legitimate business connected with that issue just to make a point. If Ahava closes, which now seems quite possible, people will lose their jobs and livelihoods.

Ahava’s manager came out towards the end of the protest to speak to the protesters and to explain this point but, as polite as they were, they just explained back to her that she is “an innocent bystander in all this” and that “there’s a far bigger cause at stake”.

Would these self-styled “peace activists” stand outside a Palestinian owned business protesting Hamas’ atrocities against not just innocent Israeli civilians but Palestinian opposition activists? “Of course,” they claim, “we don’t support Hamas but the Palestinians have a right to elect who they wish.”

But electing a government doesn’t mean that government has the right to fire thousands of Kassam rockets into Israel and summarily execute its own people.

The PSC’s patrons are: Jenny Tonge, Tony Benn, Victoria Brittain, Julie Christie, Caryl Churchill, Jeremy Corbyn, Bob Crow, William Dalrymple, Reverend Garth Hewitt, Dr Ghada Karmi, Bruce Kent, Karma Nabulsi, Illan Pappe and Benjamin Zephaniah.

However much these people disagree with Israel’s policies, and even its very existence, surely the likes of Socialists Tony Benn and Bob Crow must be able to see the injustice of bullying a legitimate business in order to close it down with the consequent loss of jobs. Maybe just not when it comes to Israeli workers.

Section 11 of the Human Rights Act emphasises the right to peaceful assembly but what takes place outside Ahava is not peaceful. Shoppers quickly pass Ahava and the adjacent shops and restaurants to avoid the terrible noise. Takings of all businesses in the vicinity are down.

And who would wish to walk into a shop like Ahava that is flanked by four police officers and a security guard there to stop the inevitable invasion that would take place if they were absent (as happened on the first occasion these protesters turned up outside Ahava)?

Sadly, Britain is a society that protects the human rights of suspected al-Qaida terrorists more than those of employers and employees wishing to earn a living here.

“Free Palestine, Vote Labour.”

Tony Benn

Last night’s meeting in Parliament arranged by Friends of Al Aqsa was due to be about Israel’s building in east Jerusalem but turned out to be a party political broadcast for the Labour Party.

The three Labour MPs that spoke mainly turned their guns on the Conservatives.

Martin Linton, Labour MP for Battersea (majority – 163 votes):

“There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends. Now there are a number of Conservatives who have a very good record on this issue, I am not saying it’s a simple party political issue, but you must consider over the next few weeks, when you vote and when you make your constituents aware, of the attempt by Israelis and pro-Israelis to influence the election in this country and you must draw your own conclusions from that. If they get the message that trying to buy a Conservative victory, what’s more trying to buy Conservative support for Israel, is successful then they will carry on doing it. If they can see that it is not going to work, then they will desist. It is important for not only this country but also for the future of the Middle East that the result of the election in this country does not send that message.”

Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Manchester, Gorton (majority – 5808 votes):

“Just as Lord Ashcroft owns one part of the Conservative Party, right-wing Jewish millionaires own the other part.” (That’s a bit “rich” coming from someone who, according to the Daily Telegraph “charged the taxpayer £1851 for a rug he imported from a New York antiques centre and tried to claim £8865 for a television”).

Andrew Slaughter, Labour MP for Ealing Acton Shepherd’s Bush (majority – 5520 votes):

“There is no will in the Conservative Party to support anything other than the state of Israel. There has been a sea change on the Conservative Party over the course of a generation. That didn’t used to be the case. They are as firmly locked in now as the Republicans are in America. We have to challenge that through political power in this country.” (Did Slaughter not see William Hague’s condemnation of Israel in Parliament yesterday?)

It was stated by the Chairman of the meeting that the Conservatives were offered an invitation for someone to speak last night but they said that no one was available.

There was a sense that the pro-Palestinian campaign is suffering from event fatigue. With meetings and protests virtually every day over the last few weeks on the Goldstone Report, the arrests of british protestors over Gaza, protests against Mayor Nir Barkat as well as International Israel Apartheid Week recently finishing, things are losing steam.

Tony Benn spoke briefly but with nothing like his normal passionate anti-Zionist rhetoric. And Dr Phyllis Starkey, Labour MP for Milton Keynes South-West, who was due to speak last night, was a no-show.

And even Kaufman displayed some sort of concern for the future of Israel by explaining that its future is in jeopardy: “Either meaningful talks will take place soon or the population equation will take over.” It wasn’t an anti-Israel tirade, which one might have expected in front of this audience.

The meeting was told that all the main religions should be allowed to pray properly in Jerusalem “the third most Holy place in the world to Muslims”. Even this was met with light applause and nothing like Benjamin Netanyahu’s “Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is our capital”, which raised the roof at the AIPAC meeting in Washington on Monday in front of 7500 actvists and members of Congress.

Hugh Lanning of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign then spoke of future events including a global boyott, divestments and sanctions weekend, a campaign to ban Israeli settlement goods being sold in the UK, Naqbah Day on 15th May, a TUC action day in June and the six pledges* that all Parliamentary candidates must sign up to, but by then it was a case of information overdose.

The Six Pledges*:

1. Call on Israel to end its violations of international law, including ending its illegal occupation.
2. Oppose any attacks on universal jurisdiction and support bringing Israeli war criminals to justice
3. Work to end the siege on Gaza
4. Call on the government to ban the import of settlement goods
5. Call on the government to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement
6. Call for an end to the arms trade with Israel