Israel Palestine · US

Israel continues its Murder in Gaza. Buttigieg blames Palestinians.

Israel has been continuing its murderous attacks in Gaza. As reported in the Electronic Intifada:

The number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip rose to at least 25 on Wednesday as Israel escalated its lethal attacks on the territory that began on Tuesday morning.

Three children are among those slain.

Gaza’s health ministry said that more than 85 Palestinians have been injured, including 30 children.

Tamara Nassar, Electronic Intifada

Now, what does our favourite terrible mayor who just loves Israel have to say about this?

Now, I think all the candidates in the Democratic primary have a bad stance on Israel, including Sanders (though he has began to move in the right direction) and Gabbard (my favourite on many other issues e.g. Syria). I would not defend ANY of their positions. But Buttigieg is particularly atrocious in his Israel love in.

I know that Buttigieg is currently experiencing a bit of a mini-sorta surge in Iowa.

It’s clearly a 4-horse race in Iowa with Buttigieg clearly in the top 4, unlike in the general polls in which there is a 3-horse race between Biden, Sanders and Warren. New Hampshire also has a bit of an improvement for Buttigieg in the most recent poll (according to 538). These are states with white demographics though, which is the group that is most keen on Buttigieg. He is doing very badly with black voters. In South Carolina, he is way behind, and to be honest, everyone else is far behind Biden. Even Harris outpolls him in South Carolina and her campaign has gone to pot since the expert destruction of her record by Gabbard.

So there is a slight risk that a good showing for Pete Buttigieg in Iowa boosts him, though still somewhat unlikely because of his issues winning the black vote. I ain’t telling you who to vote for but I would never vote for this guy in a million years, I don’t care how many languages he can speak.

Israel Palestine

Breaking Down MPs’ Letter to Boris Johnson on Netanyahu’s new plans for Annexation

This letter was written on the 12th September and came out of the office of Richard Burden MP, and it refers to an announcement by Benjamin Netanyahu:

If I am elected I commit to annex the Jordan Valley. It is our eastern border, our defense wall. Give me the mandate. No previous Israeli prime minister has proposed doing so.

Benjamin Netanyahu

The election that was due to take place in Israel happened on September 17th.

Here’s a graph from the BBC of the election results.

As can be seen from the graph Netanyahu’s party Likud did not win the election and they are now the second largest party behind the Blue and White party.

There are now discussions on the formation of a coalition.

Let’s return to the MPs letter to Boris Johnson regarding Israel. I’m going to post it below, complete with all signatories. Here’s the images:

Now, it may seem like a good thing that this letter exists. If you look closely you will see that the hardore Israel lovers who defend Israel no matter what – like Margaret Hodge & Tom Watson – haven’t signed this and have probably called every MP that did sign this an anti-Semite by now.

I believe this letter deserves to be broken down in terms of the language and content it relies upon in order to make its arguments and why this ‘liberal’ pro-Israeli position isn’t much – if any – better for Palestinians than the hardline Zionist rhetoric of the likes of Netanyahu.

In paragraph two of this letter, it quotes Boris Johnson saying: “you have to have a two state solution or else you have a kind-of apartheid system”. Now, this quote from Johnson is incorrect. You can have a two-state solution AND an apartheid system; they are not mutually exclusive. Failing to recognise this fact ignores the practice of apartheid within the 1967 borders:

Adalah, a legal rights group for Palestinians in Israel, has compiled an online database listing Israeli laws that explicitly discriminate based on ethnicity. The Law of Return and the Citizenship Law are the most significant, but there are nearly 70 more of them.

Jonathan Cook, ‘Why Israel is an Apartheid State’.

To then follow up by stating that Netanyahu has chosen apartheid is misleading. Yes, Netanyahu is a passionate supporter of Israeli Apartheid. But to say he ‘chose’ it acts as if he is operating within a system where this is some sort of abnormality. In reality, Israel has been based upon apartheid principles from the beginning, starting with its expulsion of Palestinians from their land in the Nakba in order to create a state that would be demographically dominated by Jews.

To state that this move is ‘a threat to the two-state solution’ is also misleading, as it implies that a two state solution is viable and realistically on the table, if Netanyahu wasn’t sabotaging it with this potential annexation move. In fact, a two-state solution has not been viable for a long time because of Israeli settlements in the West Bank Balkanising any potential basis for a Palestinian state. A formal annexation is just a step further along the same road, not a radical departure.

The third paragraph then mentions the situation in Russia and Crimea. I don’t think this situation is remotely comparable to that in Israel on any level. Russia isn’t dominating and treating as second class citizens the people who live in Crimea [in fact a large proportion are ethnic Russians who day-to-day use the Russian language and not Ukrainian] & Russia is not an apartheid state.

Paragraph 4 is rather conflicting, in the sense that it says we need more than just words to criticise Israel, but it doesn’t suggest any possible policy solutions that the signatories would like to see, such as a ban on arming Israel.

It is also of value to note that many members of the Labour Friends of Israel signed this letter, which makes it difficult to take seriously as something that is a genuine attempt to get justice for Palestine.

Israel Palestine

Problems of the “Two State Solution” Rhetoric: A Primer for Questioning Politicians

“I support a two-state solution.” These are generally the words of any Democratic presidential nominee in the US. Or the words of those in the Labour Friends of Israel, who carry the slogan “Working towards a two-state solution” on their website homepage. What I want to do in this post is lay out a primer of why this kind of approach is problematic and why any politician advocating it should be critically questioned.

In defense of Israel

The two-state solution line is generally used by those who at least to a degree defend Israel. The idea behind this line is that the politician in question is stating that they support Israel, but that they don’t necessarily agree with everything Israel does so that they can imply some sort of support for Palestinians. In reality the two-state solution argument acts as a shield for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.

To state support for a two state solution ignores several key facts. The first fact is that Israel *does not want* a two state solution. Israel has shown no willingness to concede anything and agree to 1967 borders; in fact, Israel continues to expand settlements into the West Bank on pretty much daily basis. This fact that Israel does not want a two state solution, but that supporters of Israel in the West, such as the Labour Friends of Israel, continue to state the position of supporting a two-state solution shows the dishonesty of the position. It reveals the real purpose of a two-state solution rhetoric as simply being a shield.

Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal on their podcast ‘Moderate Rebels’ spoke to Ali Abunimah about this so-called ‘Zombie Peace Process’ where the mantra of a two-state solution is repeated by pro-Israeli politicians while the facts on the ground are ignored:

If you examine the reality of the West Bank, Israel has made any sort of basis for a ‘Palestinian state’ non-viable with its settlements. In reality, the West Bank isn’t even under nominal Palestinian control. It is actually divided into three areas. A is that under Israeli control, B is joint control, C is Palestinian Authority control. The areas in C are small and don’t make up a viable basis for a state. Israel has deliberately pursued the policy of Balkanising the West Bank in order to undermine any hypothetical Palestinian state. When any politician brings up their support for the two state solution, raise this reality with them.

In Defense of the Nature of the Israeli State

The other major problem with a focus on a two state solution is that it ignores the nature of the Israeli state. Even if a two-state solution could be hypothetically – beyond all evidence to the contrary – be implemented tomorrow, this would not address the fundamental nature of the Israeli state – which is an apartheid state that rests on the idea that some citizens are superior to others.

The reality is that Israel practices apartheid even within the 1967 borders, and not just within the occupied territories. This article by Jonathan Cook, called ‘Why Israel is an Apartheid State’ can shed some light on this issue.

Although it is generally understood that [Palestinian citizens within the 1967 borders] suffer discrimination, the assumption even of many scholars is that their treatment in no way undermines Israel’s status as a western-style liberal democracy. Most minorities in the west – for example, blacks and Hispanics in the U.S., Asians in the U.K., Turks in Germany, and Africans in France – face widespread prejudice and discrimination. Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian minority, it is claimed, is no different.
This is to profoundly misunderstand the kind of state Israel is, and how it relates to all Palestinians, whether they are under occupation or Israeli citizens. The discrimination faced by Palestinians in Israel is not illegal, informal, unofficial, or improvised. It is systematic, institutional, structural and extensively codified, satisfying very precisely the definition of apartheid in international law and echoing the key features of South African apartheid.

Jonathan Cook, ‘Why Israel is an Apartheid State’.

This is a long article, so I’m just going to cite one example from the article that shows the detail of these apartheid practices within the 1967 borders. For more depth read the linked article.

Adalah, a legal rights group for Palestinians in Israel, has compiled an online database listing Israeli laws that explicitly discriminate based on ethnicity. The Law of Return and the Citizenship Law are the most significant, but there are nearly 70 more of them.

If Israel practises apartheid even within the 1967 borders, then it follows that even with a two state solution, apartheid would continue to exist in the world despite the fact that apartheid is a moral outrage.

These two points should be raised with and against all politicians who continue to use the rhetoric of the two state solution to hide the reality of what is going on in Israel.

Israel Palestine · US

Israel, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

There has been a large amount of controversy surrounding the issue of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, two US congresswomen of colour and of the Islamic faith who have been known for their criticisms of the situation in Israel.

At the beginning of March 2019, there was a large controversy involving Rep. Omar and her comments about the Israel lobby’s influence on American politics, with many outlets and individuals calling her an anti-Semite for pointing out that AIPAC funds politicians. Omar also introduced a bill stating the right to boycott Israel and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Omar and Tlaib (with a small group of Democrats and one Republican) also voted no on H Res. 246, a pro-Israel text that criticized the BDS movement and reinforced pro-Israeli language and arguments. They along with most of the ‘more progressive’ democrats, with the exception of Ro Khanna, refused to co-sponsor HR1837, an atrocious piece of legislation that allows the President of the US to basically give Israel any weapons they want.

This refusal by Omar and Tlaib to throw their support behind Israeli apartheid led to them being barred from visiting Israel. According to CNN Netanyahu said of this decision:

The plan of the two Congresswomen is only to damage Israel and to foment against Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu

There was immediate criticism of this move by even many Israel supporters in the Democratic Party. This is likely because Trump supported the ban on the two congresswomen, and thus this gives mainstream Democrats a chance to attack Trump to score political points, without actually advocating for any change in the US relationship with Israel. For example, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi criticised the ban despite saying that she “loves Israel”:

Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness, and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel.  The President’s statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President.

Nancy Pelosi

Because Rashida Tlaib is Palestinian American, Israel stated that they would allow her to visit her grandmother in Palestine on ””humanitarian”” grounds so long as it was not used to promote a boycott of Israel. Here is the statement made by Tlaib about this:

Statement from Rashida Tlaib about why she feels a ‘humanitarian’ non political visit to Israel is not acceptable.

The US relationship with Israel will not be changing because of this incident. Trump will continue to back Israel and Netanyahu no matter what. However, I doubt even if the Democrats got into power in 2020, they would make significant changes.

Nancy Pelosi wants to feign outrage over the issue because as I said, it may harm Trump politically, but she has been previously known for dismissing ‘The Squad’ – Omar and Tlaib as well as Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – four young women of colour who are more left-leaning Democrats – as essentially politically irrelevant. Bernie Sanders did suggest that if Israel wants to bar US congresswomen, it should also stop accepting funding from the US:

I Apologize for linking TYT/Emma Vigeland, but Sanders’ comment is the first ten seconds or so, so you don’t actually have to listen to TYT thankfully.

Of course, Bernie Sanders has a less than perfect record on the issue of Israel himself, as does every American politician. This article praises Sanders for some of his stances relating to Israel, but also acknowledges the flaws of his position. Sanders has historically voted to fund Israel even while making some criticism of the way Israel used that aid. Unless there is a legitimate threat to stop this aid to Israel, they will continue as they are, no matter how many negative statements are made about their apartheid state by Sanders or anyone else. No Democratic presidential candidate has a good position on Israel as far as I have seen: they range from atrocious (someone like Buttigieg) to pretty terrible (Sanders). Of course, all the mainstream Democrats like Israel. In fact, this incident will probably make them end up seeming more anti-Israel than they actually are because they can get in some criticism of Israel that they believe may give them support among young people – without actually in any way challenging the nature of the apartheid regime in Israel.

This situation does represent a larger trend of more progressive Democrats in the party being more sceptical and critical of Israel. Polls have demonstrated that there is less support for Israel than there has been in the past among these voters. Younger people are also more likely to sympathise with the Palestinians than other age groups, which reflects in the fact that Omar and Tlaib are two of the younger people in Congress. Despite this, views in America as a while towards Israel remain positive. Despite this incident essentially leading to some bad PR for Israel, things are unlikely to change until there is a critical mass of people who oppose funding of Israel and support the boycott of the apartheid state.

Israel Palestine · UK

Examining ‘Engine of Hate’ and the Labour ‘Anti-Semitism Crisis’

There has been a new report released about alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour party called ‘Engine of Hate: the Online Networks behind the Labour Party’s anti-semitism crisis‘ So yeah, lets assess this thing. Any quotes from Engine of Hate unless otherwise stated.

Disclaimer: I am not, nor have ever been a member of the Labour Party or any other political party. If you want to try and get me banned from Labour, well you can’t.

The problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party over the past four years has been fuelled by a flow of antisemitic tweets and posts on social media, carried out in the name of the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

I’ve always found the framing around this anti-semitism [AS for brevity] crisis problematic, the reason being that these organisations ignore any AS prior to Corbyn and then rant on and on about how Labour is ‘institutionally antisemitic’ under Corbyn, as if one man magically made Labour bigoted. In reality, there was some (relatively small) AS before Corbyn, and some (relatively small) during Corbyn’s tenure. Pretty much nobody is claiming there is zero AS in Labour.

The article then puts a bunch of tweets which it claims to be offensive. Now I would agree that some of these tweets are a bit sketchy, to be honest, and some have examples of AS in them. But I would make two points here: the first would be, if you wanted to find a Corbyn supporter online who is AS, that’s possible, the same way it’s possible to find a hardcore racist Tory. It doesn’t prove anything about the party as a whole, in both cases. The second point is: a lot of the tweets they highlighted aren’t AS. If these are legitimately the best they can find, they don’t have a strong argument.

Here are some tweets that are definitely not AS:

  • Someone claiming Margaret Hodge is a “vile racist witch”. You can agree or disagree with this claim, but it has nothing to do with her being a Jew.
  • Someone calling Rachel Riley a “racist scumbag”. Again, you can agree or disagree with this claim, but it doesn’t invoke Jewishness in any way.
  • Someone criticising the IHRA definition. Many people and many countries do not use the IHRA definition for various reasons.

Th executive summary summarises the article, but what I find interesting here is it connects the twitter accounts that it claims are the fuel behind this ‘Engine of Hate’ and their use of alternative media, such as the Canary and Electronic Intifada. So this report is also a way of attempting to discredit alternative media, as well as just discredit Jeremy Corbyn, so it fits in with the mainstream agenda twice over.

Left-leaning alternative media websites that are used as source material for these online networks are disproportionately focused on the issues of antisemitism and Israel/ Palestine compared to their interest in other political issues.

This is a quotation that’s beyond absurd. Literally, its saying if you focus too much on the negatives of the Israeli state, then that somehow implies that you are AS or an AS sympathiser. How exactly is ‘disproportionate’ coverage of Israel/Palestine defined? Is it okay to talk about Israeli crimes 1% of the time but if you talk about them 10% you’re sketchy? Also they keep saying that they don’t like Electronic Intifada – well of course EI ‘disproportionately’ focuses on Israel/Palestine as it is literally a website about Israel/Palestine. This blog has 3 posts on Israel Palestine: one critiquing Ro Khanna’s stance, one critiquing Tulsi Gabbard’s stance, and one critiquing Preet Kaur Gill’s membership of the Labour Friends of Israel. I have 16 published posts prior to this one. Ignoring the fact that this is a joke sample size, is 3/16 or 18.75% ‘disproportionate’ or not? The whole idea of this is a joke.

The reason that Western anti-imperialist commentators often focus heavily on Israel has nothing to do with Jews, at least among most commentators. It has to do with two things: The apartheid nature of the Israeli state, which makes it particularly repulsive, and the fact that the West funds and sells arms to Israel constantly. The idea of criticising Israel thus becomes linked to the struggle to stop Western states from keep funding Israel. It’s a different case with say, human rights issues in the DPRK or Iran, where we don’t fund & arm them. Hell look at my posts on the topic, they are criticising Western politicians for being too pro-Israel. This implication that this ‘disproportionate’ coverage is linked to some anti-Jewish agenda is bollocks.

The article goes on to define AS and then ‘anti-Zionism’ as if being opposed to a Zionist ideology, which by definition supports an ethnostate, is even remotely similar to AS. Obviously the article is capable of giving examples of AS that are genuine AS, though I would like to point one thing out:

Jews have been blamed for many things, such as the death of Jesus

There has been an allegation of AS against Tom Watson for making specifically this claim.

Here’s what it says bout Zionism:

‘Zionism’ simply means a belief in the right of the Jewish people to a state, and support for Israel’s existence as an expression of Jewish national self-determination. The term ‘antiZionism’ describes a wide range of hostile attitudes towards Jewish self-determination, and particularly towards the existence of the State of Israel. This is different from criticism of Israel’s policies and actions.

Now I would call myself an anti-Zionist being as this article is insistent on invoking the term anti-Zionist. The whole problem with ‘the right of the Jewish people to a state’ is that it defines citizenship based on ethnicity and religion and does not define citizenship on civic grounds. I oppose all ethnostates on principle, and Israel is an ethnostate as it considers Jews to be superior to non-Jews (most specifically Arabs, but also black people). It will give citizenship to Jews, but excludes a lot of Palestinians based on race, even if those Palestinians were living there prior to 1948, or descended from those living there at that time. I also find invoking the term ‘self-determination’ in this kind of context problematic – self-determination is valid when discussing an oppressed country’s right to be independent – such as Cuba or Venezuela – but isn’t valid when referring to the maintenance of an ethnostate. And yes I would say that I oppose the existence of the state of Israel because the concept of Israel is defined as a Jewish state, therefore it is an ethnostate by definition. I don’t consider anyone has the ‘right’ to an ethnostate because ethnostates always oppress the ‘unfavoured’ nationalities.

Not all anti-Zionists are antisemites: for example, a minority of Jews, usually for religious reasons, do not believe that the existence of the current secular State of Israel is in the best interests of the Jewish people. However, they do not deny the Jewish people’s historical and religious links with the land of Israel. Beyond this group, though, much antiZionism today is expressed in ways that deny Jewish peoplehood entirely; are actively hostile towards Jews and towards the Jewish people as a collective group; or that mimic older antisemitic language and imagery.

So basically, unless you are a Jew you are not allowed to be anti-Zionist. Also, no-one is denying any ‘historical links’ with anything. Russians have ‘historical links’ to Ukraine, but no one then argues that they should be allowed to impose an apartheid state on the Ukrainians.

Some of the examples in the anti-Zionist section do constitute AS, but some don’t:

Attributing the characteristics or behaviour of Nazi Germany to Israel

Comparing one state based on ethnic supremacy to another state based on ethnic supremacy is AS. apparently.

This next part of the article does a rather terrible bait and switch, which we shall soon see. It quotes left wing articles saying that the AS claims are smears.

One common response to complaints about antisemitism in the Labour Party is that such complaints are a ‘smear’, concocted to damage Jeremy Corbyn, silence his support for the Palestinian people and prevent the success of his socialist project. For example, the proCorbyn website The Canary has written that “the Labour right, the Conservatives, and supporters of Israeli apartheid” are deploying “bogus antisemitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn”.16 In another article, Canary editor Kerry-Anne Mendoza claimed that there was a “coordinated effort” by “Blairites within the party and the media, along with their conservative peers and the pro-Israel lobby”, to conduct a “sickening smear campaign” against Corbyn because he supports Palestinian rights.17

Then watch a couple of paragraphs later:

Even worse, the notion that Jews would lie about antisemitism in order to prevent the election of a prime minister who would care for ‘the many’ against ‘the few’ echoes antisemitic conspiracy theories that accuse Jews of dishonesty and manipulation in pursuit of goals that are opposed to the interests of the nation as a whole. It assumes bad faith, cunning and secret coordination: standard features of antisemitic conspiracy theories down the ages.

Did you spot it? The intellectual dishonesty here? Well lets see, the Canary articles specifically accuse “the Labour right, the Conservatives, and supporters of Israeli apartheid” of smearing Corbyn. They did not accuse “Jews” as some sort of totalitarian entity of inventing anti-semitism to smear Corbyn. That association is all in the head of the writer. In fact there is no suggestion in the above quotes from the Canary that any Jews are even involved at all. You can be a member of the Labour right, a Conservative, or a supporter of Israeli Apartheid who isn’t Jewish – that’s obvious.

The idea behind this report (I’ve only addressed the first several pages) seems to be that if you question whether AS is as bad in the Labour party as is claimed then you are therefore AS. Lets try an analogy. Say I was to claim that the Labour party is ‘institutionally homophobic’ because it has an MP, Roger Godsiff, who defended homophobic protesters in Birmingham. If you said I was overstating the case based on 1 MP, are you a homophobic bigot? It’s the same logic.

Israel Palestine · US

Ro Khanna co-sponsors HR 1837, a terrible piece of pro-Israel legislation

I know this will be covered a little bit late due to George Galloway coverage going up first and the fact that this blog is not a full time commitment. However, I do believe it is important to discuss this bill, which passed in the house through co-sponsors.

There has been a lot of discussion about the resolution that was passed recently in the US, which criticised the BDS movement. I discussed this in my post on Tulsi Gabbard’s support for the resolution, which I was extremely disappointed with, as up to this point I had been pretty impressed with Gabbard. However Niko House (a passionate supporter of Tulsi Gabbard, who at least somewhat defended Gabbard over her vote for that resolution) flagged up to me on his Twitter page and Youtube channel this atrocious piece of legislation. So while I disagree with his opinion on Gabbard’s vote – my main argument is that it reinforces pro-Israel language and promotes a two-state solution without examining how Israel has undermined any such solution by Balkanising the West Bank – he is right to flag this legislation as even worse.

Niko House’s discussion of this pro-Israel legislation just passed in the House of Representatives.

149 Republicans and 143 Democrats supported this bill, showing that support for Israel is truly a bipartisan position. Among the Democrats who co-sponsored this bill we have individuals such as rigger in chief Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and former candidate for president (lol) Eric Swalwell, but also the alleged progressive Justice Democrat candidate Ro Khanna.

Tulsi Gabbard is not listed as a co-sponsor of this bill; neither is Ayana Pressley who also came under fire for signing H Res 246. Nor is any other of the more progressive democrats such as Omar, Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez.

Here is the link to the bill. The bill’s title is “United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act”. So let’s have a look what it actually says. There’s no way I can look at every single aspect of the bill myself as it would take too much time and effort for one person so I will pick out certain aspects to highlight. I have been looking at the second section which talks about assistance to Israel, and this paragraph seems key:

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Upon receiving information that Israel is under an existing or imminent threat of military attack, the President may waive the requirements of this Act and direct the immediate transfer to Israel of such defense articles or services the President determines to be necessary to assist Israel in its defense against such threat. Amounts obligated or expended to carry out this paragraph shall not be subject to any limitation in law, or provision of any bilateral agreement, relating to the amount of United States assistance authorized to be made available to Israel.

HR 1837

We should parse the language here. “An existing or imminent threat of military attack”. Such as what? We all know that Israel’s definition of a threat is pretty broad, being as they basically consider any Arab that exists on ‘their’ territory to be a threat. This could be used to justify giving literally infinite numbers of weapons to Israel, so long as they can point at a few rockets fired by Hamas.

Except in the case of an emergency as determined by the President, not later than 5 days before making a transfer under subsection (a), the President shall certify to the appropriate congressional committees that the transfer of the precision guided munitions—

(1) does not affect the ability of the United States to maintain a sufficient supply of precision guided munitions;

(2) does not harm the combat readiness of the United States or the ability of the United States to meet its commitment to allies for the transfer of such munitions;

(3) is necessary for Israel to counter the threat of rockets in a timely fashion; and

(4) is in the national security interest of the United States.

HR 1837

Let’s look at the framing here again. Unless it is an emergency, the President must give some degree of justification for the transfer of these arms to Israel. But who decides the emergency? The President! Again one can just declare the firing of a few rockets from Palestinian territory an ‘Emergency’ and bingo! All the weapons Israel could ever want.

Before ending this article I would like to talk a little bit more about Ro Khanna, who was the only member of the group Justice Democrats (meant to be more progressive Democrats) to vote for this bill.

Now I’m going to be honest and state that I never fully trusted Ro Khanna. There’s a few dubious things I’ve seen him tweet out prior to this, mainly on the issue of Russia:

Ro Khanna talks about RT
Buying into narratives about the Skripals and probably also ”’gas attacks”’ in Syria

Khanna also voted for the H Res 246 that Tulsi Gabbard voted for (see link above for more details). I highlight this because I have to talk about this utterly ridiculous tweet of how Khanna tried to defend his vote:

Sent Netanyahu a letter! This is seriously being used as an argument. It’s laughable. I’m sure Netanyahu and his cronies are terrified of Ro Khanna’s letters. He might get a paper cut or something. Also a letter is literally ‘just rhetorical’ by definition. Of course this tweet looks even worse given the sponsoring of this even worse than 246 legislation.

This vote alone is beyond atrocious, and it’s the worst thing that he’s done – that I can think of at least (as a Brit who watches loads of American youtubers). I’ll state again as I did in the Tulsi Gabbard article: I won’t tell you who to vote for and who not to vote for, or support with contributions. That’s your choice. But the facts of this vote need to be recognised as what they are.

This bill has been passed in the House, but has not yet passed in the Senate, or gone to the President’s office to become law. I will try to keep an eye on this bill, though I assume it will pass easily in the Senate.

Israel Palestine · UK

Does Your Labour MP Support the Labour Friends of Israel?

Today, while I was researching my upcoming piece about Tom Watson and his challenger George Galloway & Galloway’s event at the Hare and Hounds yesterday, I made a discovery that horrified me. I was going through the list of MPs on the Labour Friends of Israel website and I found out that my MP is on the list! That is, Preet Kaur Gill MP of the constituency Birmingham Edgbaston.

Screenshot from Labour Friends of Israel and my tweet about it.

I’ve written her an email. I have written emails before trying to get her to stand up for Julian Assange (no luck on that score sadly). But I have wrote again about this, because I am to be frank, pissed off. Here is my email:

Dear Preet Kaur Gill MP, 
I recently learned that you are listed as a supporter of the Labour Friends of Israel. To be frank I was horrified by this. I had no idea that you supported this organisation. 

Israel is an apartheid state. It considers itself to be a Jewish state, which means that any individual who is a non-Jew is inferior in Israel. Israel considers the existence of Arabs in its territory to be a ‘demographic threat’. Israel committed crimes in 1948 through the Nakba, the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and refuses to allow anyone to return. Israel continues to commit crimes through the shooting of unarmed protesters during the Great March of Return protest including Razan Al Najaar, an unarmed 20-year old medic who was murdered by Israeli security forces with a sniper rifle. Israel continues to push its settlements in the West Bank, and much of the West Bank is not even under nominal Palestinian control, but is controlled directly by the Israeli state. The areas that are under nominal Palestinian Authority control are Balkanised as much as possible by Israel, so that there is no viable contiguous Palestinian entity in the West Bank. Gaza has been described by many as an ‘open air prison’ because of the absolutely awful conditions there. Israel is directly responsible for creating these terrible conditions through blockade and other tactics. Israel attacks Palestinian children constantly. Abd al-Rahman Shtaiwi was recently shot in the head by Israeli forces and had to go into hospital, he is 9 years old. Many Palestinian children are killed by Israeli tactics. Israel is also extremely racist against black people – including Ethiopian Jews.

The Labour Friends of Israel claims to support a two state solution in Israel. However this ignores the fact that Israel has done everything in its power to prevent any such solution, and has probably made any such solution non-viable. The West Bank is divided into three areas of control, areas A B and C. Area A is Palestinian Authority Control, Area B is Joint Control, and Area C is Israeli control. So Palestine does not even have nominal control over this alleged basis of a Palestinian state. Israel has pushed its settlements into the West Bank and thus completely undermined any basis for a two state solution. The ‘Israel supports a two-state solution’ has merely become a mantra repeated by those in the West in order to defend Israel and its crimes by supporting a ‘Zombie Peace Process’ (as Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton on their program Moderate Rebels called it). Labour Friends of Israel has also been at the forefront when it comes to blaming Palestinians for Israeli war crimes. In response to the murders carried out by Israel during the Great March of Return, the Labour Friends of Israel blamed Hamas rather than the perpetrators. (This was reported in the outlet offguardian). It also attempts to pinkwash Israeli apartheid, which as a member of the LGBTQ community I find repulsive.

I would like to know how you can justify supporting such a state and such an organisation. I will state upfront that I will not vote for any individual who supports the Labour Friends of Israel, as I believe it to be a morally bankrupt group that whitewashes Israeli war crimes.

Here is the list of MPs that support Labour Friends of Israel according to its website. We all know about the likes of Tom Watson, but is your MP a less high profile supporter of this organisation? This is the list from the LFI website. I’ve deleted the Lords from it though they also deserve to be shamed. Constituencies added where I can find them quickly on Wikipedia.

LFI Officers:

Rt. Hon Joan Ryan MP, LFI Chair [Enfield North, actually now a ‘Change UK’ MP but still leader of this ‘Labour’ organisation apparently]

Dame Louise Ellman MP [Liverpool Riverside]

Sharon Hodgson MP [Washington and Sunderland West]

Rt. Hon Pat McFadden MP [Wolverhampton South East]

Rachel Reeves MP [Leeds West]

Rt. Hon John Spellar MP [Warley]

Jonathan Reynolds MP [Stalybridge and Hyde]

LFI Supporters:

Mike Amesbury MP [Weaver Vale]

Ian Austin MP [Dudley North, now ‘Independent’]

Luciana Berger MP [Liverpool Wavertree, now Independednt]

Rt. Hon Nick Brown MP [Newcastle upon Tyne East]

Chris Bryant MP

Rt. Hon Liam Byrne MP [Birmingham Hodge Hill]

Vernon Coaker MP [Gedling]

Rosie Cooper MP [West Lancashire]

Yvette Cooper MP [Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford]

Mary Creagh MP [Wakefield]

Jon Cruddas MP [Dagenham and Rainham]

Wayne David MP

Gloria DePiero MP [Ashfield]

Angela Eagle MP [Wallasey]

Chris Elmore MP

Chris Evans MP

Jim Fitzpatrick MP [Poplar and Limehouse]

Rt. Hon Caroline Flint MP [Don Valley]

James Frith MP [Bury North]

Barry Gardiner MP [Brent North]

Mike Gapes MP [Ilford South]

Preet Gill MP [Birmingham Edgbaston]

Mary Glindon MP [North Tyneside]

Lilian Greenwood MP [Nottingham South]

Nia Griffith MP

John Grogan MP [Keighley]

Andrew Gwynne MP [Denton and Reddish]

Fabian Hamilton MP [Leeds North East]

Rt. Hon David Hanson MP

Rt. Hon Margaret Hodge MP [Barking]

Rt. Hon George Howarth MP [Knowsley]

Dan Jarvis MP [Barnsley Central]

Diana Johnson MP [Hull North]

Darren Jones MP [Bristol North West]

Helen Jones MP [Warrington North]

Kevan Jones MP [North Durham]

Mike Kane MP [Wythenshawe and Sale East]

Liz Kendall MP [Leicester West]

Peter Kyle MP [Hove]

Rt. Hon David Lammy MP [Tottenham]

Chris Leslie MP [Nottingham East]

Ian Lucas MP

Sandy Martin MP [Ipswich]

Chris Matheson MP [City of Chester]

Steve McCabe MP [Birmingham Selly Oak]

Catherine McKinnell MP [Newcastle upon Tyne North]

Conor McGinn MP [St Helens North]

Stephen Morgan MP [Portsmouth South]

Melanie Onn MP [Great Grimsby]

Lucy Powell MP [Manchester Central]

Toby Perkins MP [Chesterfield]

Jess Phillips MP [Birmingham Yardley]

Bridget Phillipson MP [Houghton and Sunderland South]

Emma Reynolds MP [Wolverhampton North east]

Virendra Sharma MP [Ealing Southall]

Barry Sheerman MP [Huddersfield]

Ruth Smeeth MP [Stoke on Trent North]

Angela Smith MP [Penistone and Stocksbridge]

Jeff Smith MP [Manchester Withington]

Owen Smith MP

Karin Smyth MP [Bristol South]

Wes Streeting MP [Ilford North]

Graham Stringer MP [Blackley and Broughton]

Gareth Thomas MP [Harrow West]

Emily Thornberry MP [Islington South and Finsbury]

Anna Turley MP [Redcar]

Karl Turner MP [Hull East]

Derek Twigg MP [Halton}

Stephen Twigg MP [Liverpool West Derby]

Chuka Umunna MP [Streatham, also a Lib Dem]

Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP [Leicester East]

Tom Watson MP [West Bromwich East]

Phil Wilson MP [Sedgefield]

Rt. Hon Rosie Winterton MP [Doncaster Central]

These individuals should be called out for their moral bankruptcy in supporting Labour Friends of Israel. If you are constituent of one of these MPs, do you really want them supporting an apartheid state? Do you think it is in your best interest? You should tell them so. They probably won’t listen, but they need to be called out.

Israel Palestine · US

Don’t Defend Tulsi Gabbard’s vote on H. Res. 246, even if you Support Her

The first thing I will say regarding this article is that Tulsi Gabbard has been my favourite candidate in the race for the Democratic candidate for President. This was my opinion because of her speaking out against “regime-change wars” and opposing escalating tensions with Iran. And moments like her absolutely destroying Tim Ryan on the debate stage on the issue of Afghanistan:

Tulsi Gabbard making Tim Ryan look like a complete idiot.

However I have never thought that Tulsi Gabbard was perfect. It became clear to me that she had a weak position on the issue of Israel after the New York Times talked to the Democratic candidates, asking the question about Israel’s human rights abuses:

Humanist Report Video about Democratic candidates answers to questions. Section on Israel begins at about 12:00.

It seems that this weak position on Israel has translated into her votes in Congress. There has been a bill which has recently been voted for in the house called H.Res.246. The title of this bill is already pretty damning:

H.Res.246 – Opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel.

As can be seen from the roll call list Tulsi Gabbard voted yes on this bill. Some of the other more progressive democrats voted yes as well, though some also voted no (unsurprisingly Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as well as Ocasio-Cortez).

Let us have a look at this resolution in more detail and explain why it is terrible. I suggest you read the full text of the resolution (it isn’t very long), which is linked here and then we’ll examine the key assumptions of the resolution and its repulsive nature.

So here are my 4 problems with the resolution and why:

  1. It assumes that the two state solution is viable.

The difficulty with the two state solution in 2019 may not be immediately obvious to people who don’t follow the Israel/Palestine issue closely. Israel has deliberately pursued a policy of making any such solution non-viable by putting all its settlements in the West Bank in such a way that any contiguous Palestinian land is undermined. The West Bank is divided into areas A B and C, C being the area that is under full Israeli control. But this area actually makes up a large portion of the West Bank and so the land left under Palestinian ‘control’ is minor and split up into many different little non-viable blocks. The idea that this two-state solution ”peace” process will actually achieve anything for the Palestinian people is completely false. Western elites repeat the mantra that ‘Israel is committed to a two state solution’ while it carries out these policies of colonising more land. This resolution merely continues this trend:

Clip from Moderate Rebels about the two state solution

2. It promotes the narrative of ‘both sides’

Whereas the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement is one of several recent political movements that undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by demanding concessions of one party alone and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure;

H Res 246

This is the particular passage I am thinking of here. It claims that the BDS movement only wants Israel to make concessions and not Palestine. I mean this claim is true, but the whole framing here is wrong. The idea of both sides making concessions implies a conflict between two roughly equal powers, both of which are being equally intransigent. This is not the case in Israel-Palestine: this is case of one party oppressing and violating the rights of another party. To ask the oppressed party to make ‘concessions’ to the oppressor is absurd logic.

3. It promotes the idea of a ‘Jewish state’

Whereas the founder of the Global BDS Movement, Omar Barghouti, has denied the right of the Jewish people in their homeland, saying, “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”;

H Res 246

The idea of a ‘Jewish state’ is inherently problematic. I don’t support ‘the right of Israel to exist’ so long as the concept of ‘Israel’ is defined as a Jewish state. A Jewish state is problematic in the same way that a ‘white ethnostate’ is problematic. It builds a state around one ethnicity or group and defines that ethnicity or group as superior. This then means that any other ethnic group is defined as inferior, which then means that oppressive legislation comes into force that denigrates other ethnicities and treats them as inferior i.e. apartheid, which is what we have in Israel today. Leaving aside the question of whether or not we support nation states in general, a nation state needs to exist for all people living on its territory not just the Jewish, or white, ethnic group.

4. It uses the language of ‘national self-determination’ to refer to Israel.

Why is this problematic? The language of ‘national self-determination’ has been used by anti-imperialists to support nations such as Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, the DPRK, etc. and their right of independence from American empire. This is a perfectly legitimate use of the term self-determination. To use it to refer to “the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination” in the context of Israeli state ignores the fact that Israel is a settler-colonial state which is an ally of oppressor nations (UK, US etc) and an oppressor nation itself (towards the Palestinian people). It frames Israel as an oppressed nation and not as an oppressor.

There are other problems with the the resolution (assuming Israel is a democracy, for instance, when apartheid states cannot be democratic by definition as they exclude other ethnic groups from the ‘democracy’) but these four reasons are enough to make any vote from this resolution utterly damning. Tulsi Gabbard deserves condemnation for voting for this bill.

I’m not going to tell you how to vote in the Democratic primary (I don’t have a vote because I’m British) and I’m not going to tell you what is a deal breaker when it comes to political candidates. That’s your decision. But don’t do as some people have done and try to defend or water down Tulsi Gabbard’s support for this bill.