30 September 2006

Shock! Iran Wanted Nukes

Shock, horror, we are surprised (sarcasm) has reported by the BBC:

"A letter from 1988 in which Iran's top commander says Iran could need a nuclear bomb to win the war against Iraq has come to light in Tehran.

The commander is quoted in the letter, written by the father of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, to top officials in the final days of the war.

It has only now been made public - by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The letter seems at odds with Tehran's statements that Iran is not seeking a bomb because it is against Islam.


The letter from Ayatollah Khomeini lists the requirements of military commanders if they are to continue fighting against Iraq.

It mentions more aircraft, helicopters, men and weapons, and also quotes the top commander saying Iran would within five years need laser-guided and atomic weapons in order to win the war.

Some Iranian news agencies have, however, deleted the reference to atomic weapons in the letter.

It is sensitive because Iran has always said it is not seeking a nuclear weapon and leading clerics say an atomic bomb would be against Islam.

Ayatollah Khomeini's letter also reveals how challenged Iran's economy and military were by the eight years of war against Iraq.

The letter quotes the prime minister of the time saying the economy was operating at a level below zero and volunteers for the front were in short supply.

Ayatollah Khomeini's letter has been made public at a time when Iran is preparing for a possible confrontation with the US over its nuclear programme.

But it also comes against a background of an argument between Mr Rafsanjani and a top military commander over who was instrumental in persuading Ayatollah Khomeini to agree to a ceasefire with Iraq that the Ayatollah himself likened to drinking a poisoned chalice. "

Of Books and Things to Read

Deciding which books to read can be a bit of a hit and miss process. I have more than my fair share of "looked good at the time but questionable quality" type books, so finding a good source of bibliography information is very valuable and saves time.

The topic of the Middle East is unlikely to disappear from our horizons any time shortly, and I think it pays to be well-informed on the region and its goings-on, so why not try the Mideastweb as it provides a searchable bibliography of books relating to the region..

28 September 2006

David Aaronovitch - Fighting Terror

Whilst I remember, here are the clips which make up David Aaronovitch's Fighting Terror programme shown recently on Channel 5.

Thanks to Harry's Place.

27 September 2006

YouTube and Fighting Terrorism

YouTube is very handy, and the recent Channel 5 programme Don't Get Me Started by David Aaronovitch is a fine example of how technology is allowing people across the world access to British Television.

Watching clips directly on YouTube is okay, but if you want to download the clip, then help is at hand.

1. Get the URL of the clip, e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbznv15JQ5M

2. Goto http://javimoya.com/blog/youtube_en.php

3. Paste into the space below “Download direct from most video sites” and on the right toggle bring "YouTube" and click on download (right handside).

4. Wait a moment and the file download link will appear, do a right click and save the file.

5. Bring up Media Player Classic or your favourite media player and watch locally.

6. If your player complains about missing FLV codecs, visit the FDDshow page, download, install and try again.

7. Alternatively use this FLV player.

8. NB: Make sure that the downloaded file has the FLV extension.

Update: I forgot to add that the VLC media player will probably play FLV files too.

Better Fox?

Version 2.0 of Firefox is coming out of Beta, with the first release candidate being shipped today.

Firefox 2.0 has a wide range of new features, which include, but not limited to:

Built-in phishing protection
Enhanced search capabilities
Previewing and subscribing to Web feeds
Inline spell checking
Improved Add-ons manager
JavaScript 1.7
Extended search plugin format.
Updates to the extension system
New Windows installer

A fair few existing extensions don’t work with the Beta 2.0 of Firefox, but hopefully those problems will be resolved shortly.

25 September 2006

BBC Radio 4 Listen Again

The BBC Radio 4 Listen Again is great, it allows listeners to re-play programmes that might have been missed or just to enjoy again, I would recommend tonight's offering: With Great Pleasure

24 September 2006

Nasrallah View: from the Jordan to the Mediterranean

According to reports, in his recent speech, which was aimed at shoring up his position, Hassan Nasrallah made many grandiose claims but one in particular will find some resonance amongst the historical illiterates:

“Mr Nasrallah said that the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon showed that if Arab states had the will, they could destroy Israel. "The Arab armies and Arab peoples are able not only to liberate Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In all simplicity, with decision and will they can restore Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] sea," he said.”

Nasrallah is playing to his audience’s ignorance, “just one last push and the Jews will be thrown in the sea” is his sub-text, conveniently forgetting that generations of Arab rulers, dictators, military has-beens have tried such tactics since 1948, without any success.

Since 1948 Israel has defeated the combined armies of all neighbouring states and it is barely seems conceivable that feuding local Arab dictators, theocrats and monarchs will summon up the unity and gross stupidity to try it again.

Nevertheless, Israel should not drop its guard, where possible it should sign peace treaties with neighbouring states and reduce to an absolute minimum the low level conflict with the Palestinians, which hopefully will lead to a Palestinian state and remove any festering sore that could unite the disparate Arab rulers and their ballooning military budgets:

"Saudi Arabia's defense budget of dlrs 25.4 billion corresponds to dlrs 962 per capita, spending by Oman of $3.02 bn equates to $1,007 per head and the UAE's $2.65 bn expenditure works out at $1,035 each for its 2.56 million inhabitants.

The ratio is even higher for Kuwait, an equivalent of dlrs 1,856 per head for its dlrs 4.27 bn defense budget in 2005. In Qatar, the cost reaches $2,538 per capita to make up its dlrs 3.02 bn expenditure.

In terms of the country's GDP, Iran's defense spending works out at only 3.5 percent, higher than only than the UAE's 2.23 percent among Persian Gulf countries.

Expenditure in Bahrain, which is equivalent to $764 per capita, is 4.1 percent of GDP. In Qatar it is 6.19 percent, in Kuwait 6.24 percent, in Saudi Arabia 8.44 percent and in Oman 9.64 percent, the report said"

Oh great, poverty spreading across the Middle East and it is Guns before Butter, how social 'progressive' in the 21st century!

22 September 2006

Light Relief

As way of light relief and instead of any drugs, it is good to visit JibJab, and their funny takes on DC, this land, etc but also human ingenuity

21 September 2006

Tonge tired or Lack of Education?

I hadn't intended to blog on the comments of Baroness Tonge, but two issues occurred to me: words and education.

By words, I mean the primary medium which politicians can communicate by. A mechanic has his toolbox of wrenches, an engineer has a toolbox of screwdrivers and assorted equipment, etc, but a politician only has words and how he or she uses them determines their career and livelihood.

As a result politicians tend or at least try to use words in a more pointed and occasionally precise way than the rest of us (excluding barristers, lawyers, journalists and associated jobs, which politicians often do as well).

As words and the choice of them are of utter importance to a politician, particularly when composing a speech for a meeting at party conference. The politician will consider and measure the impact of the words in his or her speech: are they appropriate for the audience? Do they convey the right message? Are they too extreme? What point is being made? Can the speech be misconstrued?

And so it is with Baroness Tonge's comments at the Liberal Democratic Party fringe meeting on Palestine, in Brighton. Baroness Tonge has been a politician for some 25 years, starting as a local councillor and finally acquiring ermine in 2005. She is not a political novice.

Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that she knew what she was saying and the impact that it would have.

Turning to education, Baroness Tonge is not, as many people might suppose, ill educated. Far from it, she is a Doctor and has a degree from University College (although biographical details on the Web seem a bit scant at the moment).

In Baroness Tonge, we have essentially an educated career politician and that seeks to conjure up or inadvertently uses borderline antisemitic imagery: Jews controlling finance/banks.

I am at a loss to understand why Baroness chose to say the words that she did, I can only assume that she is undereducated in terms of antisemitic myths or imagery.

Which brings me to the final point, I think that across the political spectrum there are a wide range of people who are barely conscious of the creeping antisemitism which is entering the mainstream discourse, highlighted by the recent Parliamentary report.

I am unsure as to whether this is intentional or not, but I think there is a need for a concerted campaign to cover 3000 years of antisemitic myths and explain them in detail to all types of people, supposedly educated or not.

Politicians and political activists will be reluctant to ever admit that they don't know something and certainly antisemitism is a topic which falls into that area.

Many of them would probably be able to give a summary of the most overt Nazi antisemitic myths, but how would they fare when trying to discern the subtler manifestations and demonisation which regularly takes place in the media?

So, my contribution to the topic is to recommend that Baroness Tonge and many others read Anti-Semitism: The Longest Hatred by Robert S. Wistrich, ISBN: 041365320X, before they have another Mel Gibson "moment".

20 September 2006

It Had to Happen?

Who’s to blame for 9/11, the Asian Tsunami, Katrina, Climate Change and now genocide in Sudan?

You got it! Israel and Jews are to blame for these problems, according to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The President dispenses with the normal camouflage of saying ‘Zionists’:

“It is very clear there is a plan to redraw the region," especially after the invasion of Iraq, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir told a news conference on the sidelines of a ministerial U.N. General Assembly session.

"The main purpose is the security of Israel. Any state in the region should be weakened, dismembered in order to protect the Israelis, to guarantee the Israeli security," he said.”

How tediously predictable.

You could almost foretell for each up-and-coming modern catastrophe: hurricane, earthquake, thunder or lightning or genocide, who people will blame.

In one shape of words or the other they say “it was the Zionists/Jews/Israelis that are to blame”.

The chronic antisemitism and conspiracy theories that pervade much of modern thinking are a throwback
to the Middle Ages when Jews were blamed for the Black Death:

"In the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of all kinds of slanders and were scapegoats for the problems of the day.

* Blood Libel _ In 1144, a myth began in England that Jews murdered Christian children. This myth was expanded to become an accusation which persisted for centuries that the Jews used the blood of Christian children in the preparation of their Passover unleavened bread (matzohs). This "blood libel" was ironic in that the consumption of any blood is expressly prohibited by Jewish law.

* Black Death_ the bubonic plague, the cause of the Black Death that liquidated a quarter of the population of Europe in the 14th century, was blamed on the Jews in Europe and Asia. The Pope issued a bull declaring that Jews were not responsible for the plague, but not before many Jews were burned alive or hanged by enraged mobs."

How regressive, it is as if cranky marginal beliefs normally confined to neo-Nazis, their camp followers or fellow travellers are spreading through modern thought on a daily basis.

Google Single Sign On

Google accounts which allow a single sign on to Google services will shortly add Writely to the services offered.

Less hassle or are Google trying to take over the world? you decide.

19 September 2006


Terrible news from Oslo:

"OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- Shots were fired at a synagogue in central Oslo early on Sunday and police said they were investigating whether the incident was linked to religious hatred.

Armed police sealed off the synagogue after the incident at around 2.30 a.m. (0030 GMT). No one was injured.

"It seems some of the shots hit the synagogue," said Bjoern Christian Joergensen, a police spokesman.

Asked if the shooting was connected to religious intolerance, he said: "We are keeping all options open and investigating this possibility."

The Mosaic Religious Community, which owns the synagogue, had asked for better protection of its property following threats and after the site was vandalized in early August.

"This is the last in a series of incidents this summer whose purpose, it sees, is to scare us," Anne Sender, the leader of the Mosaic Religious Community, told Reuters."

18 September 2006

News from Germany

Depressing news from Germany, 6.4% too many:

"Neo-Nazis capture seats in Merkel's home state
By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Published: 18 September 2006

Neo-Nazis dealt an embarrassing political blow to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday after winning parliamentary seats in her eastern home state for the first time since the country's reunification in 1990.

The overtly racist National Democratic Party, won 6.4 per cent of votes in the Baltic coastal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where Mrs Merkel has her parliamentary constituency and keeps a holiday home.

Mrs Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats were narrowly beaten by the ruling Social Democrats in the state, which is renowned for having the highest unemployment in Germany. However, the Social Democrats lost more than 10 per cent of the vote, and it was unclear whether the party would continue its so-called "Red-Red" ruling coalition with reform Communists or attempt a grand coalition with the conservatives. Harald Ringstorff, the state's Social Democrat prime minister, described the NPD's gains as an " absolute catastrophe" yesterday.

He added: "Our most important task now is to take on these brown brothers and defeat them through argument." The NPD campaigned on a strongly anti-foreigner platform. Its share of the vote was enough to enable the party to enter the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament.

However, its leaders admitted the party's role would be confined to " stirring up opposition" to the established parties.

The party shocked Germany two years ago after obtaining seats in the eastern state of Saxony for the first time in 36 years.

In Berlin, where city state elections were also held yesterday, the ruling Social Democrats headed by the city's openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, captured 31 per cent of the vote to stay in power.

The Social Democrats faced the choice of continuing their ruling "Red Red" coalition with the reform-Communist Left party, or forming a new alliance with the Greens, who won over 13 per cent of the vote.

In Berlin, the outcome was also interpreted as a defeat for Mrs Merkel's conservatives, who won 21.6 per cent of the vote."

17 September 2006

Say No to Rome?

I don't normally comment on religion, it is not one of my major concerns, as an atheist.

I think faith is a private matter and for each individual to decide upon, but when religion, religious beliefs or its exponents cause major social damage or death (as we saw with the cartoon fiasco) then I feel that the matter is worthy of comment.

As far as I can discern from extracts of the Pope's speech, he is quoting a 14th century individual, and the words should probably be best viewed in that world wide and historical context.

Spats between religions are nothing new, historically speaking, many religions manufacture conflicts to differentiate themselves and acquire power, but should it concerned believers in secular society (and by that I mean the separation of Church and State, etc)?

Should religions be beyond criticism? Should secularists walk on eggshells when discussing religion?

I think we all should be concerned, religions are not beyond, criticism after the Reformation, and in contemporary society we should expect a vigorous debate on religion, its impact on society and where to draw some boundaries.

I don't think that we should necessarily go out of our way to the offensive to individuals concerning religion, but the Reformation happened and so did the age of Enlightenment.

We are no longer compelled to seek religious guidance for every action in life, we are no longer compelled to defer to the Papacy or watch as the Inquisition burns people.

Puritans no longer control British life as they did in the 17th century, so believers in civil society, religious or otherwise, need to make the point clear that incitement to violence or killing people merely because they wish to discuss some aspect of religious belief must not be tolerated in any way shape or form.

Killing people because they offend your religion or belief system, with words or cartoons, is murder pure and simple.

Ironically, the last word goes to Popery:

"The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...."

Update 1: The Taliban wants in on the act "Afghanistan's Taliban on Saturday demanded Pope Benedict XVI to apologise for remarks linking Islam with violence, adding the comment showed the Christian West was waging war against Muslims."

Surreal or what?

16 September 2006

Forage for Darfur

A new online game highlights the issue of genocide in Sudan: Darfur is Dying

14 September 2006

No Blind Spot for Hizbollah's War Crimes

Guardian Unlimited reports that Amnesty International has accused Hezbollah of War Crimes, as if it were a novelty, or unexpected?

“Hizbullah militants broke international humanitarian law during the recent conflict with Israel, an Amnesty International report concluded today.

The report said Hizbullah had violated law by firing thousands of rockets into Israel and killing dozens of civilians during the fighting.”

Amazing? Hizbollah hiding behind civilians? Hizbollah storing missiles in people’s houses? Deliberately starting a war? Kidnapping people or killing members of the IDF?

I think Amnesty International is brave for stating the bleeding obvious, but a bit little too late

The report is here

Still that will sure annoy the usual apologists for Hezbollah.

Ideas on Darfur

I commend Peter Tatchell's suggestions on Darfur:

"# Enforce a no-fly zone over Darfur to halt the Sudanese bombing of African villages

# Send into Darfur a 15,000-strong UN peace-keeping force to protect the civilian population and aid workers, keep the warring factions apart, and disarm the militias

# Provide food, clothing, shelter and medical care to the victims of the conflict, and provide the refugees with assistance to leave the camps, return to their homes and rebuild their lives and communities

# Impose sanctions against the Sudanese government leaders and the leaders of the Janjaweed militia, including an arms embargo and arraignment before the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, torture and crimes against humanity"

Also, see Global Day for Darfur and events in London

13 September 2006

On the Same Page? On the Same Report?

Have you ever read a book or seen a film only later on to read a review of it?

And then to be mystified by the review as if it is talking about another book or film, certainly not the one that you read or saw.

So it is with the Parliamentary report on antisemitism, I have been mystified by people's comments, in particular George Galloway’s and Michael Rosen’s.

Now in some respects I can understand Galloway's point of view, he is allegedly in the pockets of various Middle Eastern dictators and cannot afford to annoy them, too much. Of course in his recent radio programme Galloway made melodramatic pronunciations and then proceeded to slam the report, much as you might expect from such a shallow demagogue and friend of dictators.

But Michael Rosen's views are entirely different, he is known as an activist, poet and man of principle. So Rosen’s article on the Parliamentary report, in the Socialist Worker, makes interesting, if confusing, reading.

Does Mr Rosen discuss attacks on Jews in broad daylight? NO

Does Mr Rosen highlight attacks on synagogues? NO

Does Mr Rosen talk about the increase in antisemitism? Yes, some two thirds of the way in

Does Mr Rosen bring up the desecration of Jewish graves? Eventually, on the second to last paragraph

Well, what does he do?

He spends most of the article concentrating on definitions and how the report is really a sly attempt at attacking anti-Zionists.

Mr Rosen bemoans definitions, his condemnation verges almost on the paranoid when he states:

“The message is clear - anti-Zionists beware. Criticism of Israeli government policies will be permitted, but if you attack the core creed of Zionism, then we’ll call in the law.”

However,if you actually read the report , it makes clear that criticism of Israel, is not automatically antisemitic.

In fact, the report belabours the distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism, nor does it suggest that anti-Zionists should be jailed for their views.

Some examples from the report are below:

Page 7, “The committee unanimously recognised that criticism of Israel should not, in itself, be regarded as antisemitic…”

Page 23: “76. One of the most difficult and contentious issues about which we have received evidence is the dividing line between antisemitism and criticism of Israel or Zionism.”

Page 24: “79. However, most of those who gave evidence were at pains to explain that criticism of Israel is not to be regarded in itself as antisemitic. It is perfectly possible to be critical of the policies and actions of the government of Israel without being antisemitic. The Israeli government itself may, at times, have mistakenly perceived criticism of its policies and actions to be motivated by antisemitism, but we received no evidence of the accusation of antisemitism being misused by mainstream British Jewish community organisations and leaders.”

Page 24: “80. Some witnesses felt that it is misleading to characterise as antisemitic any contemporary attacks on Jews deriving from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Page 24: “82. Rather than explaining the distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government, we took the view that anti-Israel discourse can, at times, become polluted by antisemitism and it is more important in each case to identify whether or not this has occurred.”

Page 24: “83. For example, criticism of Zionism is not in itself antisemitic. However, in some quarters an antisemitic discourse has developed that is in effect antisemitic because it views Zionism itself as a global force of unlimited power and malevolence throughout history.”

And so on, I shall deal with other points later on.

Suffice to say only the most deluded, political illiterate or those who haven't read the report thoroughly, would concur with Michael Rosen’s summary of the report.

I confess that I tried to take up some of these issues with Michael Rosen at Harry's Place, but I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer on many outstanding questions.

It does make me wonder if we were reading the same report?

12 September 2006

Parliamentary Report into Antisemitism and Galloway

Before commenting on the Parliamentary report into antisemitism, I would like to advise people to listen to the recordings of George Galloway's radio special from last Friday, 8th September 2006.

Then compare Galloway’s hatchet job on the report with the reality of the evidence, and see the difference.

The files are hosted at Night Studies: first hour, second hour.

11 September 2006

Playing to the Gallery or Incitement to Murder

We might suppose that members of the Knesset would have a better grasp of history and the concepts of "Judenrein", however, that does not appear to be the case with MK Effi Eitam (NU-NRP), according to the Jerusalem Post:

"MK Effi Eitam (NU-NRP), called Sunday for the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and the removal of Israeli-Arabs from the political scene, Army Radio reported."

Now he may have been playing to his constituency, or he may wish to emulate Hamas's attitude towards Jews, he should know better.

Either way, such racist comments are unacceptable, I concur with Yossi Beilin:

"Meretz chairman MK Yossi Beilin called Eitam's remarks "racist incitement [that] even crosses the red lines of the extreme right. A Jewish democratic state cannot live with such statements." Beilin and other Meretz members called on Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to press criminal charges against Eitam for "racist incitement."

Sep 11

I had intended to blog on the topic of 9/11 conspiracy theories, combined with the stream of irrational ideas behind it and how Popular Mechanics had debunked most of them.

I would have wrote about some humans predisposition towards irrationality in spite of all the evidence (video footage, survivors accounts, etc)

but in the end I didn't have the heart, I think we all need to remember the planes crashing into the buildings and reflect on it, each in our own way.

10 September 2006

What Excuses in the Internet Age

We live in an age of instant media, pictures, video and journalistic accounts of events can be passed around the world in seconds.

Email systems buckle under the volume of video news footage, and yet people in Western countries seem oblivious to disasters, genocide and human tragedy in one of the world's major continent: Africa

Over the decades we have heard excuses in the West, such as “we didn't know what was going on”, “we haven't got the resources”, “it's a consequence of colonialism” or worst still “it is all tribal over there, nothing we can do helps”

Today, there are no such excuses, even if they were valid years back (which I would seriously doubt), the Internet allows millions and millions of people to see the consequences of genocide in Africa, by using a few mouse clicks.

By simply accessing YouTube and typing Darfur in the search box (upper right hand corner) horrific events from Africa are available for all to see. Ignorance is no excuse.

The “international community”, be it Western countries or oil rich Arab nations or Asian economic powerhouses, have sufficient resources (military, humanitarian, etc) to employ when necessary at home, and bearing in mind that a few resources goes a long way in Africa then the excuse of “resources” is hardly tenable.

The latter two excuses of “colonialism” and “tribalism” are fatalistic justifications for inactivity (for decades).

If we truly wish to improve human morality, human health, human ethics and the state of the world, then the least we can do is to stop the genocide in Darfur.

A first step would be for people to acknowledge that it is occurring and that it can be stopped, if there is the will.

Here are some videos which detail the appalling situation in Darfur, remember ignorance is no excuse in the Internet age.

Alternatively go to google videos and type in Darfur

09 September 2006

Galloway and Syria

After briefly listening to Galloway on TalkSport, I was reminded of his trip to Syria.

Galloway praised the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as:

"For me he is the last Arab ruler, and Syria is the last Arab country. It is the fortress of the remaining dignity of the Arabs, and that's why I'm proud to be here."

Again Galloway defends his crawling to the Syrian dictator.

Next time, Galloway and his Respect/SWP/StWC supporters should consult the Syrian Human Rights Committee and their latest report which details terrible human rights abuses in Syria.

08 September 2006

EUMC Working Definition Of Antisemitism

Whilst working through the report I thought it best it highlight the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism, taken from page 6 (note the bolded text, my emphasis):

EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism

Working definition: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister
stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

• Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

• Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective – such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

• Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

• Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

• Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

• Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

• Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

• Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).

Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.


I shall be digesting that report but in the mean time why not visit the Iraq Memory Foundation

07 September 2006

Will It Be So Predictable?

After collecting information over the past year, the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism report will be published today.

Whilst I do not wish to prejudge the issue, I suspect that the response from the usual suspects (fanatical anti-Zionists) will be all too predictable.

Fanatical anti-Zionists will probably say (and I'm guessing, but with some precedent):

1. “OK, there were a large number of physical attacks on Jews in Britain, but (and this is a big but) Israel is fundamentally to blame for the increase in anti-Semitism” (letting off every BNP type thug or neo-Nazi)

2. “anti-Semitism wouldn’t be a problem if British Jews distance themselves from Israel” (presumably by carrying placards, daily)

3. “anti-Semitism? What? the real issue is Islamophobia and the occupation of Arab lands by colonialist armies”

4. “anti-Semitism? never heard of it? It is exaggerated, even if it exists”

5. “anti-Semitism wouldn’t be a problem, if Israel didn't exist and never mind history, Israel is to blame (whatever the problem)”

6. etc

Responses to the report will no doubt forget that no other ethnic/social/religious minority in Britain would ever be blamed for provoking the attacks against themselves, and yet Jews are often blamed for bringing attacks upon themselves.

What nasty racist hypocrisy.

An example, can you imagine someone saying “he’s Turkish/Irish/Afro-Caribbean I thought that it was only right and proper to attack him, I am not to blame, it is his fault, he is to blame for being Turkish/Irish/Afro-Caribbean”

But we shall see, I hope I haven't prejudged the issue too much.

Update 1: the report is here
Radio 4's Today has a small piece here on it, with Iain Duncan-Smith and Inayat Bunglawala and here
with Shalom Lappin and Steven Rose (who interrupts and foaming at the mouth)

Update 2: Steven Rose uses excuse number 2 and 5, how predictable

06 September 2006

Evolution and Superstition

There is increasing evidence that we may be biologically predisposed to superstitious beliefs, or at least some of us according to a report in The Times:

“HUMANS have evolved over tens of thousands of years to be susceptible to supernatural beliefs, a psychologist has claimed.

Religion and other forms of magical thinking continue to thrive — despite the lack of evidence and advance of science — because people are naturally biased to accept a role for the irrational, said Bruce Hood, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol.

This evolved credulity suggests that it would be impossible to root out belief in ideas such as creationism and paranormal phenomena, even though they have been countered by evidence and are held as a matter of faith alone.

People ultimately believe in these ideas for the same reasons that they attach sentimental value to inanimate objects such as wedding rings or Teddy bears, and recoil from artefacts linked to evil as if they are pervaded by a physical “essence”.

Even the most rational people behave in irrational ways and supernatural beliefs are part of the same continuum, Professor Hood told the British Association Festival of Science in Norwich yesterday.

As an antidote to such beliefs, I present Crank Dot Net which “… is devoted to presenting Web sites by and about cranks, crankism, crankishness, and crankosity. All cranks, all the time.”

Their Crank of the Day is good fun.

04 September 2006

Browser Heaven

Firefox 2 Beta 2 has just been released with some nice features, and one that will be appreciated by poor typists like me, is an on-line spelling checker.

Firefox is a great competitive force for persuading M$ and others to continue the enhancement of browser technology, not forgetting Opera 9, Maxthon, IE7, Slim Browser, Avant Browser, Flock and many others.

Nothing like a bit competition

02 September 2006

Dead Historian: Pierre Vidal-Naquet

I am indebted to Bob from Brockley for bringing to my notice, the demise of Pierre Vidal-Naquet, a French historian and noted critic of Noam Chomsky.

In particular, these works are well regarded: The Assassins of Memory: Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust By Pierre Vidal-Naquet

I just managed to pick a copy of Vidal-Naquet's 'The Jews' and hope to read it over the next year, other books permitting.

01 September 2006

Samina Altaf

The Home Office has rejected Samina Altaf and her children application to stay in Britain, if ever there was a deserving case it is hers:

“Samina and the children fled Pakistan after domestic abuse by her husband. All 3 suffer from severe rickets and, for the first time, are receiving proper medical support in this country. But the Home Office want to deport them.”

Disabled mum faces destitution

This case has been going on for a long time, as pickled politics and HP links show.