August 21, 2017

Kultur Kampf?

This is a straight lift from the Free Speech on Israel website:

FSOI rejects antisemitism smears against artists boycotting Pop-Kultur 



As so often occurs, allegations of antisemitism are being leveled at artists who have taken a principled decision not to participate in a cultural event which receives sponsorship from the Israeli state.

The 6th artist to withdraw from Berlin’s Pop-Kultur festival on August 23-25, Annie Goh, issued a statement via Facebook on August 20 explaining the reasons for her cancellation, criticising misinformation put out by Pop-Kultur’s organisers regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and describing as ‘despicable’ smears against four Arab artists who withdrew from the festival.

Goh is the second UK Pop-Kultur participant to pull out following a call from Artists for Palestine UK, supported by Brian Eno and Roger Waters, to respect the Palestinian boycott call. Israeli citizens have also lent support to the boycott call.

Free Speech on Israel rejects the attacks on the Arab artists whose statements to the festival, cited in the APUK letter, make clear the humane and principled reasons for their protest.
By accepting sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy, Pop-Kultur festival enables Israel to use culture to sanitise and normalise an apartheid regime.

The cultural boycott is an anti-racist protest against that racist endeavour. In this case, the Israeli funding was kept secret until just before the festival, perhaps anticipating and hoping (as it turned out mistakenly) that they could avoid performers withdrawing from the festival in protest.

By falsely accusing them of antisemitic motives, festival organisers try to cover up their own complicity with the racist agenda of the ongoing “Brand Israel” campaign.

As a Jewish-led campaign, Free Speech on Israel asserts: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel is not antisemitic.

April 08, 2017

Ken Livingstone and Naz Shah

Here's an article on Ken Livingstone by David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group.  In it he seems to come on the side of those seeking Ken's expulsion from the Labour Party:
If  Livingstone had had the nous, he would have simply noted Shah’s acknowledgement that she had crossed a line into antisemitism, welcomed her apology and then used all the weight of his background in anti-racism in London to utterly condemn the Tories for their thoroughly racist campaign against Khan. That could,  and should, have been the story. Instead he tried to excuse Shah’s tweets as “completely over the top but … not antisemitic”. Immediately after this came his infamous remarks about Hitler and Zionism.
David goes on to take exception to Ken invoking Lenni Brenner as a source for his Hitler/Zionism remarks.  David finds Brenner's work wanting.
Brenner’s book reads much more like tabloid journalism than any serious academic study. It makes crude allegations of Zionist-Nazi collaboration, treats the actions of some Zionists as representing all Zionists, and utterly distorts the power relations between Zionists and Nazis.
Within the same article David mentions the main victims of Zionism who have been absent from most of this bogus antisemitism campaign, the Palestinians:
this whole effort to try to find evidence of Zionists behaving badly in the 1930s in order to expose the way Zionism behaves today, is such a poor way of supporting the Palestinians and their just demands. It rests on too many crude generalisations. You do not have to go back to Hitler and the 1930s in order to expose and challenge the oppression of Palestinians by Zionist ideology and practice today.

I have a few problems with David Rosenberg's take on all this and here's something I wrote elsewhere:
Did Naz Shah actually apologise specifically for saying "the Jews are rallying" for Israel or was it a more mealy mouthed showtrial sort of apology couched in terms that failed to pinpoint what she had actually said that was antisemitic?  I thought it was the latter. In fact the more she apologised the more she seemed to be saying something like, "I'm sorry I said whatever I said, I had no idea of the extent to which the Jews rally for Israel".

And did Ken Livingstone actually make an intervention? Or was he invited to a radio interview with Vanessa Feltz? I thought that was the latter.

The first mention of Hitler was by Feltz and Ken responded.  He seemed to be pointing up the hypocrisy of the Zionist movement on the whole question of Nazi Zionist collaboration or of comparisons between Israel and the Nazis.

Certainly Ken invoked Lenni Brenner as a source but there are many sources to support the idea of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis including some that say that Hitler himself must have intervened to maintain Ha'avara when other leading Nazis were against it.

I think to gift the Zionists by throwing Ken under the bus when the NCC seems to have deliberately avoided examination of what Ken (and by extension, Naz Shah) actually did say would be a major mistake not least because if Ken's offence in the eyes of the NCC was to defend Naz Shah then what becomes of people who defended Ken?

My own view is that the NCC didn't expel Ken and avoided discussion of the "historical facts" because, as David said, most of what Naz Shah said wasn't antisemitic and what she did say that was antisemitic was no different from what most Zionists say (and indeed did say at that appalling select committee).  

The NCC avoided what Ken said about Hitler, Nazism and Zionism because what Ken said was broadly correct regardless of whether we run with Lenni Brenner as a source or not.  (eg, see this)

Of course this isn't now simply about the NCC charges. Ken is now being condemned for defending himself whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Regarding whether or not an exposé of Zionist collaboration with antisemitism or nazism is good or bad for the Palestinians is irrelevant given that Ken isn't being accused by JLM or the NCC of not being good for the Palestinians and if he was being good for the Palestinians no doubt he'd be accused of antisemitism for that.

So I don't think we have to twist or ignore facts to support Ken Livingstone. We should welcome a more forensic examination of all of the facts of both Ken and Naz Shah's cases.
For a more detailed examination of the case of Ken Livingstone and the NCC see this article, Compulsory Lies by Mike MacNair in the Weekly Worker.