Category Archives: Inciting against Muslims

Nathan Lean, the Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims (Book Review)

Book review

Nathan Lean, the Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, Pluto Press (2012)

by Elias Davidsson, 12 October 2016

The book represents genuine efforts by the author to expose the racist nature of Islamophobia, particularly as it affects the United States, and the main promoters of such racist propaganda. He focuses on what could be termed the lunatic fringe of US Islamophobia, i.e. on individuals and outfits whose main agenda is to incite the population against Muslims and Islam. His book provides very useful, und largely unknown, details about this coterie, including on the nexus between this lunatic fringe and mainstream media and politics. Largely due to this focus, the author ignores institutional and less blatant efforts that induce popular  distrust towards Muslims and Islam.  In his study of Islamophobia, the author hardly mentions the decades-long demonization of Arabs by Hollywood.

The author describes in some detail FBI-led stings in Muslim communities, which understandably created a lack of trust among Muslims towards law-enforcement authorities. Unfortunately, the author erroneously designates these FBI efforts as efforts to merely “monitor” these communities.  In fact, most FBI stings consist of actively nurturing extremism and inducing terrorist plots by vulnerable Muslims. Trevor Aaronson’s book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, presents conclusive details about such FBI policy. Ignoring such important evidence about FBI efforts to manufacture terrorism does not speak favorably about the author’s scholarship.

The author downplays the public impact of the official Global War on Terror, which is largely understood and presented as an “Islamic terrorist threat”.  When governments and mainstream media harp on a particular threat, their message has far greater impact on public opinion than hysterical rantings by Zionist zealots.  By focusing on the lunatic fringe, the author unwittingly paints a distorted reality.

Apart from a number of minor errors that do not affect the author’s tenor but tar his scholarly rigor (see below), his book suffers from two major factual errors, that lead the author to false conclusions about the purpose of Islamophobia:

First, the author claims that Muslim terrorists carried out the mass-murders of 9/11, and in Madrid and London (pp. 3, 17-18, 38-39, 41, 63). Such claims are baseless. There is no evidence whatsoever that these mass-murders were carried out by Muslims. Available evidence supports far better the presumption that the US government, or more specifically, the Pentagon, planned and carried out 9/11 and that the events in Madrid and London were similarly covert state operations. The present book review does not permit even a short substantiation of this argument. Those who are interested in reviewing the arguments are invited to consult my study “Hijacking America’s Mind on 9/11”, also available on Amazon. It contains all necessary facts – richly annotated – that allow the definite dismissal of the official legend on 9/11.

Second, the author claims that Osama bin Laden was “the villainous mastermind of 9/11” (p. 9). There is no evidence either for this claim, notwithstanding his reference to a statement allegedly made by bin Laden, in which he allegedly claimed responsibility. In any case,  the FBI was not convinced by such statements, as it refrained from accusing Bin Laden for 9/11 (see FBI’s own poster on Osama bin Laden on FBI’s website). Asked why the FBI has not accused Bin Laden for 9/11, FBI’s spokesperson Rex Tomb said in June 2006, that the FBI has no hard evidence to link him to the mass-murder. Anyone interested in that issue, can simply google these names and terms and verify what I am writing.

Relying on a flawed factual base, it is not surprising that the author wrote: “[I]t must have felt quite natural and right after September 11, 2001 to ask uncomfortable questions about Islam.” Natural? The preoccupation with Islam was not at all natural: It was not prompted by personal experience but induced by unverified media accounts. Far more surprising is, that no journalist asked the following uncomfortable questions: “Why has no one been allowed to see the authentic passenger lists of the four aircraft that were allegedly hijacked on 9/11?  Who saw the alleged hijackers board these planes?  Why did the FBI refuse to forensically identify the wreckage of the allegedly crashed planes? Why did the White House oppose a public investigation of 9/11?  Why has no person, including those interned in Guantánamo, been charged and prosecuted for planning, financing, coordinating or participating in 9/11?

These blind spots undermine the implicit thesis of the author, namely that Islamophobia is essentially the work of a fringe cabal of Zionist Islam-haters. The truth is that Islamophobia is part and parcel of the institutional Global War On Terror needed to keep the military-industrial complex churning profits, to justify wars of aggression and the military occupation of African countries, and to establish a national security state within the United States. Islamophobia in today’s world serves a similar purpose as antisemitism was by the Nazi regime: To serve the interests of the ruling wealthy elite and pit ordinary people against each other.

I recommend this book for those who wish to know more about the professional Islam-bashers of the United States (although the coverage of this scene is by far not comprehensive). For those who wish to understand the political agenda of Islamophobia, its strategical role for US imperialism and to the role played by government-manufactured “Islamic terrorism”, the book will be of little value.

20 questions regarding the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015

20 questions regarding the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015

by Elias Davidsson, 15 November 2015

1.  The Bataclan attackers came by car they left outside. What became of that car?

2.  When did police and special forces arrive to the Bataclan? Why did it take more than two hours to assault the attackers at the Bataclan? What did the police do in these two hours?  How many forces participated in the assault on the attackers? How long did it take to overcome the attackers? Did any independent person witness the police’s assault?  Why did they insist that three attackers blew themselves up and one was shot dead, if the next day this figure has changed?  What was the role of the woman seen with the attackers? Who is she?

3.  Who witnessed the circumstances in which the attackers of the Bataclan died?

4.  Why has the situation at the Bataclan been described as “hostage taking”?

5.  Why did the attackers fail to kill their “hostages”?

6.  Did the attackers speak French without accent, as claimed by witnesses?

7.  Who from the police negotiated with the attackers, as mentioned by witnesses, and about what was negotiated?

8.  Did anyone really blow himself up outside the Stadium? Are there any independent witnesses?

9.  Who issued bomb threats earlier in the day?

10.  Were some of the attackers 15-18 years old, as estimated by the Institut médico-légal?

11.  Who was shooting from the window of the Bataclan on the outside, as experienced by Le Monde journalist Daniel Psenny and witness Carole Massemba, and why?

12.  Who left a car related to the attack in Montreuil?

13.  Why were weapons left the car in Montreuil?

14.  Will the police release the CCTVs from the attacks, that it is currently examining?

15.  Did the alleged attackers shoot at the police in Bataclan in self-defense?

16.  From where did the attackers obtain weapons, explosives and cars?

17.  How could the police immediately identify the type of explosives used?

18.  What did the Procureur de Paris mean when he said that five terrorists had been ”neutralized”? Were they killed?

19.  What was the origin of the IS communiqués? From where were they sent? How is it possible to authenticate these communiqués?  What is the telephone number and email address of the Islamic State’s government (It is assumed that a government ruling over a huge territory has a fixed location, uses telephones and has access to internet)?

20.  How was President Holland able to announce a state of emergency, the closure of borders and designate the attacks as an “act of war” before consulting his government and before the attacks had ended?

Pitfalls of Comparing the Terrorist Crimes of ISIS With Crimes of Other Religions

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/pitfalls-comparing-terrorist-crimes-isis-crimes-other-religions

Pitfalls of Comparing the Terrorist Crimes of ISIS With Crimes of Other Religions

By As’ad AbuKhalil – Thu, 2015-02-19 16:44- Angry Corner

American writer Susan Jacoby wrote a very interesting article for The New York Times about the crimes of the Crusades [1]. She cited the valuable contribution of James Carroll in his book, “Constantine’s Sword.” Jacoby intended to compare this horrific chapter in the church’s history to the crimes being committed by ISIS. But, is that method useful, or does it do more harm than good?

Some well-meaning leftists have trouble understanding and explaining ISIS’ crimes. The horror of the images produced by their scary propagandists has spread around the world. ISIS takes its terrorist mission very seriously. Terror is an end of itself, and is often unrelated to the mission. Some will counter by saying that ISIS aims at establishing and broadening the scope of the caliphate. But does anyone really think that ISIS, as delusional as its leaders are, is considering seriously the project of including the US and Europe in the borders of their precarious caliphate? Why would ISIS wish to also terrorize the citizens of Europe, the US and clearly the rest of the world? ISIS possesses certain theatrical qualities; the theatrics are not less important than the caliphate, although they don’t seem to be winning new converts to their cause. ISIS is not a global movement but a localized movement that operates inside Syria and Iraq (or even in Lebanon), but only on the basis of local issues based on the exploitation of sectarian grievances — real or imagined.

But the attempt by Susan Jacoby and others to remind Westerners about the long-forgotten history of crimes of Christianity or Judaism may not in fact help improve Western rhetoric about Islam and Muslims. The invocation of religious analogies unwittingly helps to provide religious — not political — legitimacy to ISIS. No matter what anti-Islam bigots maintain — and this is reflected in the recent ISIS article in the Atlantic Monthly — one should insist that ISIS not be analyzed or discussed within the framework of Islam, even if the intention is to absolve Islam from responsibility for ISIS. Similarly, no one dares — and no one should — discuss Israeli war crimes in the context of Judaism, as such an invocation would be viewed as a manifestation of anti-Semitism.

ISIS is a non-state actor engaging in criminal terrorist activities. It uses religious slogans, but is comprised of a variety of previously non-religious criminals, gangs, and war thugs from Syria. Religion is their language and the framework for their theatrics. The fact that no one among mainstream and less mainstream Muslims takes the discourse of ISIS seriously is a sign that ISIS is feared but not believed. So if one wants to make an analogy between the crimes of ISIS and the crimes of other entities, one does not need to go back in history to dig out the scenes of the crimes of the Crusades. ISIS is more a modern phenomenon and not a historical movement in Islam. It is more related to the world of the wars that were generated by the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. The crimes against civilians by ISIS should be instead compared to the crimes of the American armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan (or to Israel although ISIS and the jihadist terrorists don’t seem to be concerned about Israeli crimes, which raises a lot of questions in Muslim minds about the agenda and sponsors of ISIS). The orange prison uniform of ISIS’ prisoners was not ordained by the Qur’an, obviously.

Many critics of the American and Western policies in Syria from 2011 warned of deadly consequences of the glamorization and romanticization of a Syrian “revolution” that didn’t exist. Western governments provided Jihadi recruits with the licences to travel and operate in the Syrian non-revolution. It was only after it became too obvious that the Syrian rebels were largely comprised of Jihadi terrorists that Western governments (and the Gulf sponsors of those Jihadis) changed course. But Islam should not be part of the discussion about ISIS. Indeed, politically, the Saudi royal family and its policies and vision are more relevant.

Dr. As’ad AbuKhalil is a Professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus, a lecturer and the author of The Angry Arab News Service. He tweets @asadabukhalil [2]

Source URL: http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/pitfalls-comparing-terrorist-crimes-isis-crimes-other-religions

Links:
[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/opinion/sunday/the-first-victims-of-the-first-crusade.html?_r=0
[2] https://twitter.com/asadabukhalil
 

80% of Anti-Muslim Attacks in France Against Women

http://www.newsweek.com/80-anti-muslim-attacks-france-against-women-says-report-307389

80% of Anti-Muslim Attacks in France Against Women, Says Report

By Lucy Draper, Newsweek, February 17, 2015
 
80% of the anti-Muslim acts which occur in France are carried out against women a new report published today by Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, has revealed.

The commissioner, who produced the report after visiting France in September last year, warned of increasing attacks directed at homosexuals, Jews and Muslims and said that there should be more efforts to integrate and care for immigrants and asylum seekers.

Muižnieks recommends a national plan to promote and protect human rights as well as ratifying Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights on the general prohibition of discrimination in order to “further strengthen the legal framework.”

Attacks on Muslims have been on the rise in France since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January. Earlier this month the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) published data that showed that between the Charlie Hebdo attacks on 7th January and the end of that month there were 147 ‘acts’ carried out against Muslims.

In the week following the attacks the CFCM reported that 26 separate mosques had been attacked across the country. In some cases the buildings were firebombed and in other grenades were thrown.

Fiyaz Mughal, the director of UK-based interfaith thinktank Faith Matters says that the term ‘acts’ covers a huge range of hostile actions. He says they have received complaints from Muslim women which include: “Spitting, general abuse, pulling and tearing at the niqab and the hijab, plus dog faeces being thrown at women, as well as bottles from passing cars and people shouting things like ‘Muslim whore’ ‘Muslim bitch’ or ‘Muzzie’.”

On why he believes Muslim women might face more abuse than their male counterparts, Mughal says: “All our data… shows that visible women are the ones that are targeted at a street level. This means that women who wear the hijab are the ones that are sometimes targeted for abuse and those who wear the niqab suffer more anti-Muslim hate incidents and more aggressive assaults.”

He also believes that there is a gender imbalance in terms of anti-Muslim hate at a street level, saying that victim data shows that perpetrators are usually male and aged between 15-35, while their victims are mostly women and aged between 15-45.

Sahar Aziz, a professor who teaches about Middle East law at the Texas A&M University School of Law wrote an article for American news site CNN in which she condemned the lack of response to these increased attacks from French feminists who had celebrated the 2011 ban on full face veils. “As Muslim women face threats to their safety in the anti-Muslim backlash, one cannot help but notice the deafening silence of French feminists,” Aziz writes.  

Muižnieks’s report addresses a wide-range of problems in France including racism and discrimination against a variety of people including Roma, migrants and those with disabilities.

Although the commissioner commended France for combating the issues he raised in their courts and institutions, he went on to suggest that the country “include the fight against discrimination in a national plan to promote and protect human rights”.

“It is essential to put an end to such acts, including on the internet, and to punish those responsible,” he wrote.

Related
Freedom of Speech Facing ‘Major Threat’ in France
‘France Wants Assimilation Not Integration’: The Problem with French Secularism

Who really bombed the Paris metro in 1995?

Who really bombed the Paris metro in 1995?

Naima Bouteldja, The Guardian, Thursday 8 September 2005 00.02 BST

The evidence is that the 1995 Islamist attacks on the French metro were in fact carried out by the Algerian secret service

Ever since the 1995 bombing of the Paris metro by the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) made France the first western European country to suffer so-called radical Islamist terrorism, its politicians and “terror experts” have consistently warned Britain to the dangers of welcoming Islamist political dissidents and radical preachers to her shores.

In the aftermath of the July London attacks, commentators were quick to argue that France’s “zero tolerance” policy and campaign of “integration” in the name of republican values – embodied in the 2004 ban on the display of all religious symbols in schools – has spared the country from terror attacks, while Britain’s failure to follow Spain and Germany in adopting the French model has proved a spectacular own-goal. However, as Tony Blair made clear in unveiling his government’s proposed legislation on August 5, “the rules of the game have changed”. Suddenly, the French recipe for dealing with Islamist terror has become feted by British politicians and media alike.

But how would we regard the virtue of the French model if, a decade after bombs ripped through the metro, enough evidence had been gathered to demonstrate that the attacks allegedly carried out by Islamist militants were not fuelled by fundamentalism, but instead were dreamt up and overseen by the Algerian secret service as part of a domestic political struggle that spilled over into Algeria’s former colonial master? The most comprehensive studies – including Lounis Aggoun and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire’s Françalgérie: Crimes and Lies of the State – argue that this is exactly what happened.

In 1991 Algeria’s main Islamic party, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), won a first-round victory in the country’s inaugural multiparty general elections, which threatened to strip away the power of the generals who had controlled the state from the shadows.

Exploiting Europe’s fear of an Islamic government, the Algerian army intervened to halt the second round of voting, forcing the president to step down and a temporary commission to rule the country. But the legitimacy of this new arrangement could only be assured if the Islamic opposition could be discredited and crushed.

The DRS – the Algerian secret service – systematically infiltrated insurrectionary Islamist groups such as the GIA and from 1992 onwards launched its own fake guerrilla groups, including death squads disguised as Islamists. In 1994, the DRS managed to place Jamel Zitouni, one of the Islamists it controlled, at the head of the GIA.

“It became impossible to distinguish the genuine Islamists from those controlled by the regime,” says Salima Mellah, of the NGO Algeria Watch. “Each time the generals came under pressure from the international community, the terror intensified”. By January 1995, however, Algeria’s dirty war began to falter. The Italian government hosted a meeting in Rome of Algerian political parties, including the FIS. The participants agreed a common platform, calling for an inquiry into the violence in Algeria, the end of the army’s involvement in political affairs and the return of constitutional rule.

This left the generals in an untenable position. In their desperation, and with the help of the DRS, they hatched a plot to prevent French politicians from ever again withdrawing support for the military junta. As Aggoun and Rivoire recount, French-based Algerian spies initially given the task of infiltrating Islamist networks were transformed into agent provocateurs. In spring 1995, Ali Touchent, an Algerian agent, began to gather and incite a network of disaffected young men from north African backgrounds to commit terrorist attacks in France. The DRS’s infiltrators, led by Zitouni, also pushed the GIA to eliminate some of the FIS’s leaders living in Europe.

On July 11 1995 Abdelbaki Sahraoui, a FIS leader in France, was assassinated. The GIA claimed responsibility. Two weeks later the metro was hit by bombs, killing eight. After a further attack, Zitouni called on President Jacques Chirac to “convert to Islam to be saved”. The resulting public hysteria against Islam and Islamism saw the French government abandon its support for the Rome accord.

So what happened to the perpetrators? The masterminds of the main attack were never caught. Despite being publicly identified by the Algerian authorities as the European ringleader of the GIA and by French investigators as the key organiser, Touchent evaded capture, returned to Algeria and settled in a secure police quarter of Algiers.

France’s inability to bring to justice those genuinely responsible for the 1995 attacks was evidently more than an accident. According to Mohamed Samraoui, a former colonel in the Algerian secret service: “French intelligence knew that Ali Touchent was a DRS operative charged with infiltrating pro-Islamist cells in foreign countries.” It has never been officially denied that in return for supplying the French authorities with valuable information, Touchent was granted protection.

This is not the only explanation for French collaboration with the Algerian government. Algeria is one of the main suppliers of gas and oil to France, and an important client. François Gèze of La Decouverte, a French publisher which exposed the involvement of the Algerian secret services in the dirty war, argues that at the heart of this economic relationship is a web of political corruption. “French exporters generally pay a 10 to 15% commission on their goods. Part of this revenue is then ‘repaid’ by the Algerians as finance for the electoral campaigns of French political parties.”

What the true story of France’s 1995 brush with “Islamic terror” reveals is that the attacks, while probably executed by a small number of Muslim extremists, were conceived and manipulated by vested interests. British policymakers would do well to understand the specific context and complex colonial legacy of French-Algerian relations before they go looking for direct comparisons. The 1995 case is also a warning against blaming “Islamists” for terror, while turning a blind eye to repressive actions of governments in the Arab world when they suit western governments’ agenda.

· Naima Bouteldja is a French journalist and researcher for the Transnational Institute

Who profits from killing Charlie?

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-080115.html

THE ROVING EYE
Who profits from killing Charlie?
By Pepe Escobar

Putin did it. Sorry, he didn’t. In the end, it was not Russia “aggression” that attacked the heart of Europe. It was a pro-style jihadi commando. Cui bono?

Careful planning and preparation; Kalashnikovs; rocket-propelled grenade launcher; balaclavas; sand-colored ammunition vest stuffed with spare magazines; army boots; piece of cake escape in a black Citroen. And the icing on the lethal cake; faultless Paris-based logistical support to pull that off. A former top French military commander, Frederic Gallois, has stressed the perfect application of “urban guerrilla technique” (where are those notorious Western counter-terrorism “experts” when one needs them?)

They might have spoken perfect French; others said it was broken

French. Anyway, what matters is that they uttered the magic word; “We’re al-Qaeda.” Better yet; they told a man in the street, “Tell the media that this is al-Qaeda in Yemen”, which means, in American terror terminology, al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), which had Charlie Hebdo’s editor/cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier (“Charb”) on a hit list duly promoted by AQAP’s glossy magazine Inspire. Accusation: “Insulting the Prophet Mohammed.”

And just to make sure everyone had the perpetrators implanted on their brain, the killers also said, “Allahu Akbar”; “We have killed Charlie Hebdo”; and “We have avenged the Prophet.”

Case closed? Well, it took only a few hours for French police to identify the (usual?) suspects; French-Algerian brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi. The third man – the driver of the black Citroen, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad – then turned himself in with an ironclad alibi. So the third man remains a cipher.

They all wore balaclavas. The Kouachi brothers have not been captured. But the police seem to know very well who they are. Because they found an abandoned ID in the black Citroen (oh, the troubles of being a command in a rush …) How come they didn’t know anything before the carnage?

Right on cue, Cherif Kouachi’s bio was splattered all over. He was on a global watch list. Along with six others, he was sentenced in May 2008 to 3 years in prison for “terrorism”; in fact unloading a dozen young Frenchmen via madrassas in Egypt and Syria to none other than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the killed-by-an-American-missile former head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the spiritual father of Daesh/ISIS/ISIL.

Also right on clue, a full narrative was ready for mass consumption. The key point; French police privileges the hypothesis of “Islamic terrorism”. According to their “experts”, this could be an attack “ordered from abroad and executed by jihadis coming back from Syria that have escaped us”, or it could be “suburban idiots that radicalized themselves and concocted this military attack in the name of al-Qaeda.”

Scrap option two, please; this was a pro job. And staying with option one, this points right at – what else – blowback. Yes, they could be Daesh/ISIS/ISIL mercenaries trained by NATO (crucially, France included) in Turkey and/or Jordan. But it might get even false-flag nastier. They could also be former or current French special forces.

Blast Islam, will travel
Predictably, Islamofascism peddlers are already having a field day/week/month/year. For simpletons/trolls/hordes exhibiting an IQ worthy of sub-zoology, when in doubt, demonize Islam. It’s so convenient to forget that untold millions from Pakistan’s tribal areas to street markets across Iraq continue to feel pain devastating their hearts and lives as they are expendable victims of the jihadi mindset – or “Kalashnikov culture”, as it is known in Pakistan – profiting the “West”, directly or indirectly, for decades now. Think ritual droning of Pakistani, Yemeni, Syrian, Iraqi or Libyan civilians. Think Sadr City witnessing carnages over 10 times worse than Paris.

What French President Francois Hollande defined as “an act of exceptional barbarism” – and it is – does not apply when the “West”, France in the front line, from King Sarko to General Hollande himself, weaponizes, trains and remote-controls assorted mercenaries/beheaders from Libya to Syria. Oh yeah; killing civilians in Tripoli or Aleppo is perfectly all right. But don’t do that in Paris.

So this, in the heart of Europe, is what blowback feels like. This is what people feel in the Waziristans when a wedding party is incinerated by a Hellfire missile. In parallel, it’s absolutely impossible that the oh so sophisticated Western intel network had not seen blowback coming – and was impotent to prevent it (how come the scapegoats du jour, the Kouachi brothers, were not in the gallows?)

Of course the ultra-elaborate Western counter-terrorism expert network – so proficient at strip-teasing us all at every airport – saw it coming; but in shadow warland, portmanteau “al-Qaeda” and its myriad declinations, including “renegade” Daesh/ISIS/ISIL, are used as much as a mercenary army as a convenient domestic threat “against our freedoms”.

Who profits?
US Think Tankland, also predictably, is busy spinning the drama of an “intra-Muslim” split which provides jihadis a lot of geopolitical space to exploit – all this sucking the Western world into a Muslim civil war. This is absolutely ridiculous. The Empire of Chaos, already during the 70s, was busy cultivating jihadi/Kalashnikov culture to fight anything from the USSR to nationalist movements all across the Global South. Divide and Rule has always been used to fan the flames “intra-Islam”, from the Clinton administration getting cozy with the Taliban to the Cheney regime – helped by Persian Gulf vassals – advancing the sectarian Sunni/Shi’ite schism.

Cui bono, then, with killing Charlie? Only those whose agenda is to demonize Islam. Not even a bunch of brainwashed fanatics would pull off the Charlie carnage to show people who accuse them of being barbarians that they are, in fact, barbarians. French intel at least has concluded that this is no underwear bomber stunt. This is a pro job. That happens to take place just a few days after France recognizes Palestinian statehood. And just a few days after General Hollande demanded the lifting of sanctions against the Russian “threat”.

The Masters of the Universe who pull the real levers of the Empire of Chaos are freaking out with the systemic chaos in the racket they so far had the illusion of controlling. Make no mistake – the Empire of Chaos will do what it can to exploit the post-Charlie environment – be it blowback or false flag.

The Obama administration is already mobilizing the UN Security Council. The FBI is “helping” with the French investigation. And as an Italian analyst memorably put it, jihadis don’t attack a vulture hedge fund; they attack a satirical rag. This is not religion; this is hardcore geopolitics. Reminds me of David Bowie: “This is not rock’n roll. This is suicide.”

The Obama administration is already mobilized to offer “protection” – Mob-style – to a Western Europe that is just, only just, starting to be diffident of the pre-fabricated Russian “threat”. And just as it happens, when the Empire of Chaos mostly needs it, evil “terra” once again rears its ugly head.

And yes, I am Charlie. Not only because they made us laugh; but because they were sacrificial lambs in a much nastier, gruesome, never-ending shadowplay.

Pepe Escobar’s latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook. He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

The German Left’s Palestine Problem

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/the-germans-lefts-palestine-problem/

The German Left’s Palestine Problem

by Leandros Fischer

Die Linke’s position on Palestine has isolated it from the global solidarity movement and strengthened the party’s worst elements.

It was a truly bizarre scene, worthy of a Peter Sellers film: a man frantically running through the Bundestag’s lifeless corridors. Behind him, another man, David Sheen, accuses him of smears and putting his life in danger from Israeli right-wing thugs. The man is Gregor Gysi, head of the Left Party’s (Die Linke) parliamentary caucus. He walks to a bathroom and closes the door shouting to Sheen “Raus mit dir!” (“Out with you!”).

Annette Groth and Inge Höger, two Die Linke parliamentarians who were aboard the 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla, try to calm Sheen and his associate, Max Blumenthal.

What exactly happened?

It seems that Gysi went out of his way to cancel an event with Blumenthal and Sheen scheduled to take place at Die Linke’s premises in the Bundestag. Another party MP, Petra Pau, co-signed a letter along with a politician from the Green Party and a Social Democrat heading the main Israel lobbying organization in Germany, urging the Volksbühne Theatre to cancel an event with Blumenthal and Sheen scheduled for November 9.

The letter claimed Blumenthal and Sheen were a “one-sided duet” who compare Israel to Nazis, and who had the nerve to stage an anti-Israel event on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Pandemonium ensued after the release of the video showing Gysi heading to and from the toilet. Die Linke’s reformist right-wing not only forced the party’s parliamentarians who invited Blumenthal and Sheen to apologize to Gysi, but is now openly calling for their expulsion from the caucus, more or less accusing both of them of antisemitism.

Heike Hänsel, another allegedly sympathetic MP, went as far as to openly state that she will never work with Blumenthal and Sheen again. That a German party, even a left-wing one, should be somewhat cautious in criticizing Israel, in a country where the definitions of Judaism, Israel, and Zionism have been consciously conflated for half a century, should not come as a surprise. But that parts of its top brass should actively work with the media to smear two internationally known Jewish anti-Zionists as “antisemites” is truly alarming and casts serious doubts on the party’s ability to relate to the global Palestine solidarity movement.

The history of the German left’s attitude to Israel/Palestine is truly complex and for the uninitiated foreign leftist, perplexing and occasionally shocking.

When I first moved to Germany from Cyprus during the height of the Second Intifada, I didn’t pay much attention to the conflict other than instinctively lending my moral support to whoever happened to be the oppressed in this and any other conflict. But at university, I was shocked to find that when left-wing, mostly autonomist-minded activists on campus used to talk about Palestine, it wasn’t even to adopt the minimally acceptable position of condemning Israel’s brutal “pacifying” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but to romanticize the country as some kind of Middle Eastern Cuba under threat from Nazi-inspired Palestinian suicide bombers.

Clearly this attitude was not and is not representative of the entire left on this issue, but it nevertheless points out a more problematic trajectory than in other Western European countries.

While the fact that Germany is responsible for the industrial murder of millions of Jews partially explains the German left’s Palestine problem, the East-West dimension is equally crucial; Gysi has been the official face of East German post-communism for the last twenty-five years. The case of Die Linke merits special attention here, since the inner dynamics of an outcast left-reformist party in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s modern Germany amid the contradictions of the Eurozone crisis also influence its approach to the Middle East.

The German Left and Palestine: A Brief History

Like the British Labour Party, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the trade union bureaucracy were stridently pro-Zionist in the 1950s and 60s. Postwar social democracy saw Israel as a socialist-inspired state, paving a “third way” between Western liberal capitalism and Eastern “totalitarianism.”

Such a policy was seen as permissible from a left-wing point of view. After all, German conservatives — despite paying reparations to Israel for the Holocaust — refused to establish diplomatic relations with Israel until 1965, despite secretly arming the new state. This was done ostensibly to uphold the “traditional German-Arab friendship,” but was in reality aimed at preventing a wave of recognition for the “illegitimate” German Democratic Republic (GDR) by the Arab states.

For young Marxist intellectuals on the fringes of the SPD, establishing diplomatic relations with Israel became a left-wing cause in response to a political establishment that integrated former Nazis into the state apparatus, most notably Hans Globke, a top advisor to Konrad Adenauer and co-author of the infamous Nuremberg race laws.

East Germany’s Communist government, on the other hand, had to follow the twists and turns of Stalinist foreign policy. Accordingly, the Soviet line on supporting the Zionist militias was adopted in the crucial period of 1947-49. On the other hand, the East German bureaucrats engaged in party purges in the early 1950s that effectively mobilized antisemitic sentiments against undesirable elements, prompting a Jewish exodus from East Germany.

With the Soviet Union’s pro-Arab tilt around the same time, the GDR also tried to outdo itself in anti-Israeli rhetoric to gain vital diplomatic recognition by the Arab states. The GDR was anti-Zionist insofar as it opposed Israel’s policies. But like the Soviet Union, it never questioned its settler-colonial nature, seeing Israel’s alliance with imperialism as simply a matter of bad choice. It was Israel’s territorial expansionism at the expense of Soviet allies that bothered the Eastern Bloc, not so much the discriminatory nature of its ruling ideology.

Meanwhile in the West, things were changing. Israel was now the United States’ prime ally in the Middle East, while the latter was fighting an unpopular war in Vietnam. Germany and Israel established official relations two years before and the war witnessed a multitude of pro-Zionist frenzy in the right-wing Springer press.

As Israel officially became a front-line state in the struggle against communism, West German students, organized in the Socialist German Student Association (SDS) were joining their peers in the United Kingdom, France, Scandinavia, and elsewhere, in proclaiming their solidarity with the Palestinian fedayeen. Palestinians were now not just a logistical refugee issue but visible subjects, with the more left-leaning organizations of the Palestinian Liberation Organization contributing greatly to the framing of this struggle as part of the wider endeavor for self-determination in the Global South.

After SDS disbanded in 1970, its different successor organizations also took up Palestine as a cause (although due to the German historical context, much less than in other Western countries). The most prominent examples were undoubtedly the Red Army Faction (RAF) and the Revolutionary Cells, two terrorist groups that were to a great extent armed and trained by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

While overemphasized, these were not the only examples. Palestine solidarity in one form or another existed along the entire spectrum of the Left — from the Maoist “communist groups” and Trotskyist and workerist tendencies, to the “milder” pro-Soviet German Communist Party and even the youth section of the SPD.

Death of a Movement: The Antideutsch

The collapse of a pro-Palestinian consensus is undoubtedly linked to the global retreat of the left that commenced in the late 1970s. The German radical left after 1968 was never a mass movement with a wide appeal in the working class, unlike its counterparts in Great Britain, France, and Italy. West German capitalism was better at integrating the upheaval of 1968.

In political terms, it was Social Democracy that was the main beneficiary of 1968. The radical left found itself increasingly isolated, a part of it turning to urban terrorism. The bloody crescendo reached its climax in the “German autumn” of 1977, when kidnappings and plane hijackings by the RAF ended in the deaths of two of its imprisoned founding members.

This only helped accelerate a turn away from the support of armed struggles in the Third World and toward broader ecological and pacifist movements, a turn that was given political expression by the Green Party. Some Marxist groups continued to operate but mostly ineffectually.

Meanwhile, other militant sections coalesced around the autonomist movement. The Autonomen continued to uphold anti-imperialism, including the Palestinian cause. They were a subculture as much as a movement, characterized by squatting and militant confrontations with the police. But their profound disdain for theory also made them susceptible to the effects of the cataclysmic political events that came in 1989.

In the face of a neo-Nazi offensive following reunification, a significant part of the autonomists adopted the worldview of the Antideutsch, the “anti-Germans.” These ex-Maoist remnants expressed the view that the biggest enemy for the German left to confront was the abstract notion of “Germany” as nation. An alliance was necessary with anyone perceived to be against “Germany.”

Israel did not figure prominently in the beginning of the Antideutsch movement. This changed after the outbreak of the Second Intifada and 9/11. The Antideutsch were already thrilled by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s Hitlers Willing Executioners. They now fervently applied his idea of “eliminatory antisemitism” to virtually any movement opposing US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, be it secular nationalist or Islamist.

Matthias Küntzel, an ex-Maoist and Antideutsch ideologue in the tradition of the French nouveaux philosophes, even devoted an entire book to “prove” (without the slightest knowledge of Arabic) that the ideology of Hamas and Hezbollah was “Nazi-inspired.” By this point, the hardcore of the Antideutsch bid the Left farewell, proclaiming it “dead.” Remnants of the movement have since made common cause with far-right Islamophobes.

However, the cultural aesthetics and ideas of Antideutsch — a bizarre mix of techno music, self-managed housing projects, and endless discussions on the “structural antisemitism” of the anti-globalization and Occupy movements — characterize a large share of the current German radical left. This is especially true in eastern Germany, where a strong far right often engages in a demagogic, antisemitic kind of anti-Zionism. This, incidentally, is also the part of the country where the disastrous legacy of Stalinism and the chronic weakness of organized labor are more visible.

Newspapers like Jungle World that celebrate autonomy in Chiapas, queer politics, and radical ecology are stridently pro-Israel in their outlook. It’s not that all autonomists in Germany support Israel in every instance or are indifferent to the existence of Islamophobia. But openly questioning Israeli oppression of Palestinians is deemed out of bounds, since this could open the gates to existing latent antisemitism.

When Israeli bombs fall on the Gaza Strip killing and maiming thousands, many from the alternative scene abstain from protesting in solidarity with the victims, arguing that since Hamas doesn’t present an “emancipatory alternative,” there isn’t really anyone the Left can embrace.

In this, there is an uncomfortable and often unwilling convergence of autonomist discourses with the rampant Islamophobia currently plaguing Germany, with regular attacks on mosques coupled with calls on Muslims to “integrate” and “disassociate” themselves from ISIS. When a mob of five thousand hooligans, many of them active neo-Nazis, gathered in front of Cologne’s main train station on October 26 to protest “Salafism,” the far smaller counter-demonstration assembled under the abstract slogan “against racism and religious fundamentalism,” apparently eager to disassociate itself from the Salafism.

This had the rather unsettling effect of equating young discriminated Muslims with the direct political heirs of Himmler and Goebbels.

At a subsequent meeting convened to discuss the aftermath of the demonstration, I witnessed how left-oriented German students could genuinely not fathom why the counter-protest’s slogan was outright wrong. This drew the desperate ire of a comrade of Iranian background, a symptom perhaps of a deepening rift between significant parts of the Left and Muslims living in Germany.

Enter Die Linke

Die Linke is vital terrain to struggle against this tendency. Born from a 2007 merger between those fleeing the SPD’s turn to the center — as well as activists energized by the anti-globalization and anti-war movements — and the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the successor to the former East German ruling party, the party runs the entire gamut of the German left.

Those inside the tent include center-left trade unionists, Trotskyists, left-Keynesians, East German ex-communists, autonomists, and even an Antideutsch-inspired group with influence in the party’s youth wing. The party’s founding momentum was the result of a twin rejection of neoliberalism as well as “humanitarian intervention” abroad, which the SPD and the formerly pacifist Greens had championed in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

The question of Palestine has subsequently become a largely symbolic issue between those who see it as a matter of principle that an internationalist party should show solidarity with a liberation movement and those who envisage future Die Linke participation in a coalition government as a junior partner of the SPD and the Greens.

A layer of professional politicians from the PDS section — a mass party in the eastern states — leads the second camp. It had already participated in coalitions with the Social Democrats in a few states, including Berlin, where it has often subordinated its left-wing program to neoliberal fiscal concerns. The people currently calling for pro-Palestine MPs Annette Groth and Inge Höger to be expelled include supporters of these coalitions like Stefan Liebich, who professes to be a member of “Atlantik-Brücke,” a think tank dedicated to strengthening the German-American alliance.

They also include Klaus Lederer, Die Linke’s chairman in Berlin, who spoke at a pro-Israel rally during the 2008-09 war on Gaza. “Reflection” and “guilt” over East Germany’s record of “one-sidedness” in the conflict are stated as the main reason for this tilt to the Zionist point of view. Descending from the old GDR’s state-affiliated professional caste, it is not hard to recognize why being in government is seen as a more effective way to change things than being in a movement.

Gysi has been careful to play a more integrative role within the party. But during a speech in 2008 at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the party’s think tank, he explicitly linked the prospect of Die Linke joining a future coalition government with the acceptance of the German Staatsräson, or national interest, shared by all other parliamentary forces. In addition to acceptance of Germany’s commitment to NATO and the European Union (EU), this includes assent to its “special relationship” with Israel.

This relationship is evident in German sales of nuclear-capable submarines to Israel, as well as German vetoing of initiatives within the EU to upgrade the status of Palestine. By couching its support for Israel in moral terms, Germany is thus cynically providing a fig leaf for an otherwise morally indefensible status quo that profits its armaments industry.

On the other hand, Oskar Lafontaine, the former SPD maverick whose defection from the Social Democrats was crucial in forming Die Linke, has rarely commented on Palestine. The only exception was a 2006 radio interview during the war on Lebanon, where he spoke of an additional, indirect German responsibility towards the Palestinians.

In all of this, there has been a synergy between the Antideutsch within the party and key sections of the mainly eastern ex-Communists. The first group has engaged in smearing its political opponents as antisemites, something the latter has also taken up, since those outspoken on Palestinian rights often tend to be opposed to future participation as a junior partner government.

Mobilizing the media has been an important aspect of this slander. In 2011, a member of the Antideutsch caucus BAK Shalom – which regularly engages in occupation apologetics – published a “scientific study” on “anti-Zionist antisemitism in Die Linke” in the Frankfurter Rundschau, a mainstream daily. This caused a media storm, with the other parliamentary parties convening a special hearing in the Bundestag on Die Linke’s “antisemitism.”

Amid a subsequent heated internal debate within the party’s parliamentary caucus, a directive was issued prohibiting any discussion on the one-state solution, participation in the BDS campaign, or the second Free Gaza Flotilla. The decision was far from unanimous. Many MPs boycotted the bill, and others were forced into signing off after Gysi threatened to resign if it was rejected. While this has shielded the party from further accusations of antisemitism, it has also driven a wedge between the biggest left-wing German party and the growing global solidarity movement.

Since then, things have been quiet. The party doesn’t just unceasingly call for a two-state-solution, but has elevated it to a political identity, completely detached from realities on the ground and to be defended against Palestinian activists or Israeli leftists like the ones who called on Die Linke to disassociate itself from outfits like BAK Shalom.

However, a significant number of officials and activists actively avoid bringing up the subject, given its divisive potential. The historical weakness of the postwar German left and its constant fragmentation have led to an almost compulsive need for “unity,” even by people whose support for Palestine is not under question. This is often justified by framing the debate as a useless squabble that has no concrete effect.

Up to a certain point, this is understandable. Die Linke is engaged in a delicate effort to create a popular opposition to the powerful Merkel consensus. But this is also a dishonest approach, tantamount to denying the special responsibility of the German government in propping up the occupation, as well as the potential of the German left to actively challenge this collusion with apartheid and to engage in effective — not just symbolic — solidarity.

Israel and German Islamophobia

The internal dynamics of Die Linke and its structural position between opposition and accommodation contribute to its position on Israel. Unfortunately, those same dynamics have prevented the party from taking a principled stance against the EU. Out of fear of being seen as veering too close to the positions of the Eurosceptic right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (“Alternative for Germany”), Die Linke has emphatically rejected questioning the wisdom of the single currency, while at the same time rightly rejecting austerity in the European South, a somewhat unconvincing and contradictory approach.

But its position on Palestine is also derivative of the wider historical and social structure. For this is not just any issue; it is closely linked to Germany’s obsessive need for an assertive new post-1990 national identity, as well as the prevailing Islamophobic climate.

Ever since the Green foreign minister Joschka Fischer justified Germany’s first combat mission since 1945 in Yugoslavia by claiming the aim was to prevent “another Auschwitz,” the historical lessons from the Holocaust have been constantly perverted by Germany´s political elite to pursue dubious political goals at home and abroad.

German pro-Zionism has had the historical function of reintegrating Germany into the “international community.” With Germany now a respected member of that community, Angela Merkel has deemed “Israel’s security” as in Germany’s national interest, which only serves to exclude German Muslims for the fictitious narrative of a “Judo-Christian legacy.”

In this, there’s a convergence with the discourse of “failed” multiculturalism. The killing of the Kilani family in Gaza and the silence of Germany’s political class is a brutal example of which German citizens are considered worthy victims and which are not. A commentary in the Welt, a right-wing daily owned by the Springer Group, even accused Muslims of indulging in constant self-victimization. The publication didn’t receive the slightest bit of backlash.

The overemphasis on “Muslim antisemitism” is a further symptom of this pervasive new ideology. Just consider the protests against Israel’s latest offensive on the Gaza Strip this summer. Media outlets were filled with reports of “Muslim antisemitism,” as antisemitic slogans were heard during spontaneous anti-war marches, where “ethnic Germans” make only a tiny minority of participants.

To be sure, the danger of antisemitism in Germany is a real one and shouldn’t be underestimated. Verbal abuse against Jews has been reported, as well as an arson attack on a synagogue in the city of Wuppertal. As Richard Seymour has shown in the case of France, this antisemitism also exists within Muslim communities that happen to be the victims of constant discrimination themselves.

But this phenomenon is also partly the result of the media’s constant conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel, as Rolf Verleger, a former member of Germany’s Jewish Board of Deputies has pointed out. Even a great deal of the German left speaks of “antisemitism and racism,” the implication being that while racism is something easily analyzable, antisemitism is beyond logical explanation.

On another level, this confusion also stems from the Left’s practical inability to relate to events on the street and actively seek dialogue with Muslim communities. Instead, a troublingly elitist emphasis on largely abstract theoretical debates is the typical approach of a large part of Die Linke on this issue.

When party organizations in the Western state of North Rhine-Westphalia organized protests in Cologne and Essen against Israel’s war on Gaza last summer, reformist party officials in Berlin stated that they would not tolerate members of Die Linke marching on demonstrations where antisemitic slogans are heard. This was a top-down approach towards the contradictory nature of spontaneous movements in general, and one that was also accompanied by the media slandering of local party activists as “pandering to Islamic antisemitism,” often in concert with those same party officials.

Activists on the ground, however, have defiantly organized successful protests in Berlin together with Palestinian communities and progressive Jewish organizations, including parts of Berlin’s large Israeli expatriate community. The experience demonstrates that when protests are strategically organized and coordinated, the results open up a number of possibilities, not just to engage in practical solidarity with Palestinians, but also to break the wide gap between the organized left and immigrant workers. Indeed, one might wonder what the possibilities would be if Die Linke threw its entire weight behind such an effort, instead of letting the right-wing media determine its actions.

This is not just an issue of solidarity with a people abroad. It’s a pressing social issue. For in Germany, the powerful ideological domination of capitalism is also the effect of an extremely elitist educational system that separates children from an early age and places them into three distinct types of schooling, only one of which provides eligibility for higher education.

Not surprisingly, it is people from immigrant and working-class backgrounds that are most harmed by the structure of the education system, while the student left tends to be largely middle-class. If the German left is to break the hegemony of Merkelism, it must actively challenge Germany’s alliance with Israel, for it currently serves as the spearhead of a wider Islamophobic discourse that weakens resistance to neoliberalism at home by dividing opposition along cultural lines. This is done by intentionally conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism, which in turn places the damaging stigma of the latter on those more likely to express solidarity with the besieged of Gaza.

On the other hand, the moral underpinning of German support for Israel cynically serves as a way of absolving German capitalism from its expansionist past, thus allowing German power to be projected abroad again; economically in the European South through austerity, and geopolitically against other imperialist powers like Russia. The historic circumstances are different, but Palestine is today to Germany what Algeria was to France in the 1950s — a source of chronic and self-inflicted weakness for the Left.

Which Way Forward for Die Linke?

The main challenge for activists within Die Linke is to link solidarity with Palestine to the struggle against all forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia in Germany. Boycotting Jewish activists like Max Blumenthal and David Sheen is an obvious setback and one that reinforces the current ideological status quo, which ultimately works against the party’s stated goals. Gregor Gysi might have momentarily garnered the sympathy of the right-wing Springer press, but the social and political agenda he stands for has been weakened in the long-run.

Die Linke, after all, will only be accepted by the establishment if it dumps its key defining positions on neoliberalism and foreign interventions. No doubt, some key people on its right-wing would like nothing more than that. But this would render the party unnecessary and politically irrelevant.

The Left within the party is fragmented, a great deal of it placing its hopes in winning the internal debate against reformists on a programmatic basis. This is a mistaken approach, since the party and parliamentary structure is inherently biased in favor of those wishing to soften Die Linke’s positions for the sake of government participation.

What can tilt the balance is an active linking with the international solidarity movement, as some scholars of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung attempted last summer, pointing to the striking contradictions between the party’s internationalist identity and its stance on Palestinian national liberation. It’s part and parcel of creating a movement dynamic enough to challenge the “new German ideology.”

Jewish volunteers for racial supremacy in Palestine

http://electronicintifada.net/content/jewish-volunteers-racial-supremacy-palestine/13695

Jewish volunteers for racial supremacy in Palestine

by Joseph Massad
The Electronic Intifada
4 August 2014

The European Christian fight for anti-Semitism was always a fight to grant Christians superior rights to Jews and to institutionalize that superiority as racial and religious supremacy.

In response, the European Jewish fight against anti-Semitism was and remains a fight against the reduction of the rights of Jews (if not their elimination altogether in the case of the Nazis), against the project to render European Jews an inferior species of citizens, and against white European Christian supremacy.

This has been a historical fight that multitudes of non-Jews have joined on both sides. However, ultimately it was European Jewish fighters against anti-Semitism and their gentile allies who won this key battle against inequality, oppression, racial and religious discrimination and genocide.

The European Jewish and Protestant fight (the latter preceded the former by three centuries) for Zionism, in contrast, has been and remains a fight to grant European Jews more rights than non-Jews (and non-European Jews) on a religious, ethnic and racial basis.

This superiority would be granted especially vis-à-vis Palestinian citizens of the Jewish settler-colony (if not eliminating their rights altogether as many Zionist Jews call for), as well as eliminating the rights of the Palestinians in the territories Israel occupied and colonized since 1967 and those it expelled and exiled since 1948 outside the borders of their homeland.

Multitudes of Jews and non-Jews have also joined this historical fight for racism, discrimination and colonialism. The Palestinians and their Jewish and non-Jewish allies refuse to give up and continue to resist Zionism’s insistence that European (and other) Jews must have superior and supremacist colonial, racial and religious rights in Palestine.

The Jewish fight for Zionism (which has never included and still does not include all Jews) is the exact opposite of the Jewish fight against anti-Semitism (which also never included all Jews); the former is a fight for European Jewish supremacy while the latter is against European Aryan and Christian supremacy.

This in a nutshell exposes the outright Zionist lie that claims that the struggle against anti-Semitism and the struggle for Zionism are one and the same.

Recruiting Jews to kill Palestinians

This is important to consider when we examine the international Zionist Jewish brigades that have volunteered to join the Israeli colonial army with much eagerness to kill Arabs and Palestinians. This has been a successful project in light of the mobilizational Zionist and Israeli Jewish propaganda in the last seven decades among the Jewish communities of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Argentina, to name the most prominent Jewish communities outside Israel.

This propaganda campaign aimed at transforming members of these communities from fighters against white Christian supremacy into fighters for European Jewish racial and colonial supremacy.

The dissemination of racist Israeli Jewish culture internationally goes hand-in-hand with Zionism’s pan-Jewishism, whereby, just as anti-Semitism speaks against all Jews, Zionism claims to speak for all of them — and reassures Jews that Israel is their country and that they should move to colonize it, failing which it would function as a spare country awaiting their arrival on a need to colonize basis.

That the major North American and European organizations that claim to speak for Jews have endorsed Israel’s right to speak for them and have been the major conduits for the hateful racist Israeli Jewish propaganda against the Palestinian people makes them fully complicit in the ongoing slaughter and oppression of the Palestinians. This is especially so given that they openly support anti-Palestinian Israeli colonial policies and urge their respective governments and media to do the same. (We must keep in mind these organizations and their wealthy leaders are not elected by members of the Jewish communities but appoint themselves as their representatives and speak for them in these organizations’ newspapers, which constitute what is referred to as the “Jewish” press.)

This is not to say that members of the Jewish communities are not pro-Israel and fervently anti-Palestinian, which they are in their majority, but it is to say that polls have shown them to be less murderous and hateful than the organizations claiming to represent them.

Thus, Israel has created a hegemonic racist Jewish culture that does not only dominate Israeli Jewish communities but also Jewish communities in Europe and its settler colonial extensions (in the Americas, in Australia and in South Africa). This, however, was never sufficiently successful to produce millions of Jewish volunteers for Israel’s colonial cause (no matter how much European and American Jews support Zionism and Israel, few would want to fight or die for it). But it did create the conditions for thousands of young Jewish (mostly male) fighters for European racial supremacy to join the Israeli colonial army seeking to prove the superiority of European Jewishness (and a concomitant European Jewish manliness) by slaughtering Palestinians.

The Israeli colonial army advertises several programs to accommodate international Jewish volunteers for the oppression of the Palestinians. It provides them with the option to serve in the Israeli army in “full combat and support roles,” namely in its “Mahal” program, to fulfill their commitment to the Zionist cause of European Jewish supremacy without necessarily having to become Israeli citizens.
There is also the smaller “Marva” program in which young teenage Jewish recruits for Zionist Jewish supremacy can participate “in this immersive army program, serving alongside fellows from countries around the world.”

Israel’s killing machine proudly declares that “over 300 Jewish teens from all around the world volunteer to serve” in the Israeli colonial army annually as part of the four thousand “Jewish and non-Jewish” volunteers who “fly to Israel and volunteer in the IDF [Israeli military] for several weeks.” These may not be impressive numbers, but there are more.

One of the programs engineered to recruit Jewish youth for racial and religious supremacy is the “Garin Tzabar” project. Garin Tzabar means “cactus seed,” or “Sabra seed,” in reference to Palestine-born Israeli Jews, hence the importance of this program as a reproductive and masculinist project aimed at populating the Jewish settler-colony with more Zionist Jews committed to the superiority of European (and other) Jews over Palestinians.

Garin Tzabar, according to the Israeli colonial army, has “already helped over 1,500 teens from all around the world join the IDF and approximately 70 percent of the immigrants have stayed in Israel after their service.”

Garin Tzabar is not the only volunteer program. There are others like the “Sar-El” program, which claims that it has brought between 1983 and 2011 “more than a hundred thousand volunteers to Israel … 
Staying in Israel for several weeks, the participants share a true IDF experience on IDF bases” (Israel refers to these European and American volunteers for Jewish racial supremacy as “lone soldiers”).
The Israeli military claimed that in 2012, “5,500 lone soldiers” were serving in its colonial forces whereas today it claims to have 4,600 volunteers, one-third of whom are Americans.

In the ongoing barbaric slaughter of Gaza Palestinians, two of the Palestinian baby-killing Jewish soldiers (as I’ve written previously, targeting and killing Palestinian children is an old Zionist tradition) who were killed by the Palestinian resistance were American Jewish volunteers for Jewish racial and colonial supremacy.
They quickly became heroes for the American press, “Jewish” and “gentile” alike. Indeed an article appeared in The Washington Post to show how these baby-killers are different from Muslim foreign fighters who volunteered to overthrow the Afghani communist government and more recently several Arab governments (“‘Foreign Fighters’ for Israel,” David Malet, 22 July 2014). Few, however, mention the White European and American Christian mercenary foreign fighters who have served tyrannies around the word since the Second World War.

Colonial recruitment

These Israeli volunteer programs build on the legacy of the four thousand Jewish volunteers who came to fight the Zionist colonial war of 1948 that captured Palestine and expelled its population and established the European Jewish-supremacist settler-colony. Known as Mahal, the main volunteer program included American Jews as prominent and important members assisting in Israel’s colonial conquest.

They included Mickey Marcus, an American Jewish US Army colonel who became Israel’s first brigadier general. Marcus’ Second World War experience was instrumental in breaking the 1948 “siege of Jerusalem.”

Other important Jewish volunteers included the Canadian officer Ben Dunkelman and US pilot Milton Rubenfeld, as well as British Jewish Major Wellesley Aron who helped in the recruitment of American Jews for Zionism’s colonial war. European and American Christian Zionist mercenaries also helped, especially in the Zionist air force. These colonial volunteers fighting for racism, especially from the UK, constituted almost two-thirds of the settler-colony’s air force during the 1948 war.

David Ben-Gurion, the Jewish settler-colony’s first prime minister, was so thankful to them that he stated that “the Mahal [volunteer] Forces were the Diaspora’s most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel.” Indeed they were: 123 of them died in that colonial war.

Jews in the struggle against Israeli racism

But unlike Jews inside Israel, Jewish communities in Europe, North and South America, and even in Australia, live in cultures that are not fully controlled by Zionist propaganda and therefore are not fully under the sway of the racist culture that Israel seeks to impose on them. It is this that explains how an increasing number of prominent members in the Jewish communities of the US and the UK, among intellectuals and academics, are in the forefront of the struggle against Israeli Jewish racism and colonialism (in contrast with apartheid South Africa which had a substantial number of white anti-racist activists and intellectuals, only a few Israeli Jewish intellectuals have been able over the decades to escape Israeli racist brainwashing — a feat unto itself).

Today many American Jewish luminaries in academe oppose Israeli policies unreservedly. Whereas once Noam Chomsky was a lone Jewish academic voice critical of Israel, he is today joined by scores of Jewish academics and intellectuals in opposing Israeli policies (of course these Jewish academics along with anti-Zionist gentile academics remain a minority and are outflanked by the much larger Jewish and gentile academics who are militant enemies of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims).

Some, like the prominent American Jewish philosopher Judith Butler, have surpassed Chomsky in their opposition to Zionist and Israeli racism and colonialism, and are vocal supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and call for a one-state solution, both of which Chomsky does not support. In fact, a few Palestinian-American academics have also opposed both of these important positions or remained “neutral” on them (some used the rhetorical strategy, of “on the one hand this and on the other hand that”). Though in the last year some, fearing being left outside the leftist mainstream which has adopted these positions, have decided to show a belated “courage” in adopting these positions more than a decade after everyone else has.

And this is not limited to Jewish intellectuals but extends also to Jewish activists, especially groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (which, among many of its anti-racist activities, played an important role in helping Palestinians and others persuade the Presbyterian Church USA to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation), and the countless Jewish students joining, and in a good number of cases, leading groups like Students for Justice in Palestine based on their commitment to fight racism and colonialism, values that are the diametrical opposite of Zionist colonial racism and fascist tribalism.

It is these Jewish fighters against Zionism and Israeli colonialism and racism that are continuing the Jewish fight against anti-Semitism but who remain unsung heroes in the American “Jewish” and “gentile” press that prefers to celebrate baby-killing Zionist Jewish volunteers for Israeli Jewish supremacy instead.

These Jewish fighters against racism have joined the Palestinian people and their international allies (Jewish and gentile alike) in fighting this ongoing historical battle against the forces of racial supremacy and colonial conquest. They understand well, as the Palestinian national movement has always understood, that the fight for Palestinian rights and liberation from the Jewish settler-colony is the latest phase of the historic fight against anti-Semitism and that the fight for Zionism is part of the war for European racial supremacy and colonialism.

The carnage that Israeli Jewish soldiers and international Zionist Jewish brigades of baby-killers are committing in Gaza (and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, let alone against Palestinian citizens of Israel) is but the starkest reminder of this unshakeable conviction.

Joseph Massad is professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. He is author of the forthcoming Islam in Liberalism.

Racism is the Foundation of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/18732/racism-is-the-foundation-of-israels-operation-prot

Racism is the Foundation of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge
Jul 30 2014, by Joel Beinin

On 30 June Ayelet Shaked, chairwoman of the Knesset faction of the ultra-right wing ha-Bayit ha-Yehudi (Jewish Home) Party, a key member of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, posted on her Facebook page a previously unpublished article written by the late Uri Elitzur. Elitzur, a pro-settler journalist and former chief-of-staff to Netanyahu, wrote:

Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism… They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now, this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They must follow their sons. Nothing would be more just. They should go, as well as the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.

Shaked’s post appeared the day the bodies of three abducted settler teens­—Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach—were discovered. It has since received more than 5,200 “likes.”

For over two weeks, Netanyahu and the media whipped the country into a hysterical state, accusing Hamas of responsibility for abducting the teens without providing evidence to support the claim and promoting hopes that they would be found alive, although the government knew that the boys were likely murdered within minutes of their abduction. Their deaths provided a pretext for more violent expressions of Israeli anti-Arab racism than ever before.

The viciousness of Mordechai Kedar, lecturer in Arabic literature at Bar Ilan University, was even more creative than Shaked and Elitzur’s merely genocidal proposal. “The only thing that can deter terrorists like those who kidnapped the children and killed them,” he said, “is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.” As a university-based “expert,” Kedar’s heinous suggestion is based on his “understanding” of Arab culture. “It sounds very bad, but that’s the Middle East,” he explained, hastening to add, “I’m not talking about what we should or shouldn’t do. I’m talking about the facts.”

Racism has become a legitimate, indeed an integral, component of Israeli public culture, making assertions like these seem “normal.” The public devaluation of Arab life enables a society that sees itself as “enlightened” and “democratic” to repeatedly send its army to slaughter the largely defenseless population of the Gaza Strip—1.8 million people, mostly descendants of refugees who arrived during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and have been, to a greater or lesser extent, imprisoned since 1994.

Conciliatory gestures, on the other hand, are scorned. Just two days after Shaked’s Facebook post, Orthodox Jews kidnapped sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir from the Shu‘afat neighborhood of East Jerusalem and burned him alive in the Jerusalem Forest. Amir Peretz (Hatnua) was the only government minister to visit the grieving family. For this effort he received dozens of posts on his Facebook page threatening to kill him and his family. Meanwhile, vandals twice destroyed memorials erected to Abu Khdeir on the spot of his immolation.

The international community typically sees the manifestations of Israel’s violent racism only when they erupt as assaults on the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, or Lebanon. But Israel’s increasingly poisonous anti-Arab and anti-Muslim public culture prepares the ground of domestic public opinion long before any military operation and immunizes the army from most criticism of its “excesses.” Moreover, Israeli anti-democratic and racist sentiment is increasingly directed against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who comprise twenty percent of the population.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beytenu (Israel Is Our Home) Party made his political reputation on the slogan “No Loyalty, No Citizenship”—a demand that Palestinian Israelis swear loyalty oaths as a condition of retaining their citizenship. Since 2004 Lieberman has also advocated “transferring” Palestinian-Israelis residing in the Triangle region to a future Palestinian state, while annexing most West Bank settlements to Israel. In November 2011 Haaretz published a partial list of ten “loyalty-citizenship” bills in various stages of legislation designed to “determine certain citizens’ rights according to their ‘loyalty’ to the state.”

While Lieberman and other MKs pursue legal channels to legally undermine the citizenship of Palestinian-Israelis, their civil rights are already in serious danger. In 2010 eighteen local rabbis warned that the Galilee town of Safed faced an “Arab takeover” and instructed Jewish residents to inform on and boycott Jews who sold or rented dwellings to Arabs. In addition to promoting segregated housing, Safed’s Chief Rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, tried to ban Arab students from attending Safed Academic College (about 1,300 Palestinian-Israelis are enrolled, some of whom live in Safed). The rabbinical statement incited rampages by religious Jews chanting “Death to the Arabs,” leading Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy to dub Safed “the most racist city” in Israel. In Karmiel and Upper Nazareth—towns established as part of Israel’s campaign to “Judaize the Galilee”—elected officials have led similar campaigns.

Palestinian Israeli Knesset members receive regular verbal abuse from their Jewish “colleagues.” For example, Hanin Zoabi (National Democratic Alliance), who participated in the 2010 Freedom Flotilla to the Gaza Strip, which Israeli naval commandos attacked, killing nine Turks (one of whom also held US citizenship), has been particularly targeted. In the verbal sparring over the murder of the three teens Foreign Minister Lieberman called her a “terrorist.” Not to be outdone, Miri Regev (Likud) said Zoabi should be “expelled to Gaza and stripped of her [Knesset] immunity.” Other Knesset members—some from putatively “liberal” parties—piled on. [Update: Yesterday—29 July—Hanin Zoabi was suspended from Knesset].

Violence against Arabs in and around Israeli-annexed “Greater Jerusalem” is particularly intense. Much of it is the work of Orthodox Jews. The Jewish Defense League, banned in Israel in 1994 and designated a terrorist organization by the FBI in 2001, and several similar groups regularly assault and harass Arabs. The day of the funeral of the three abducted teens, some two hundred Israelis rampaged through the streets of Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs.” The previous evening, hardcore fans of the Betar Jerusalem football club, known as La Familia, rallied chanting, “Death to the Arabs.”  The same chant is frequently heard at games of the team, which is associated with the Likud and does not hire Arab players. Hate marches, beatings and shootings of Arabs, and destruction of their property, long common in the West Bank, have become regular events in Israel-proper in the last month.

The citizenship-loyalty bills, Safed’s designation as “the most racist city,” the attacks volleyed at Palestinian elected officials, and mob violence against Arabs all took place before Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July. The operation—more aggressively dubbed “Firm Cliff” in Hebrew—constitutes Israel’s third assault on the Gaza Strip since 2008. As of yesterday, 29 July, the Palestinian death toll in that operation has reached over 1,200, the great majority of them civilians. Thirty-two Israeli soldiers and three civilians have also died. Israeli security officials sardonically call these operations “mowing the lawn” because well-informed observers know that Hamas cannot be uprooted and is capable of rebuilding its military capacity. There is no long-term strategy, except, as Gideon Levy put it, to kill Palestinians. Major General (res.) Oren Shachor elaborated, “If we kill their families, that will frighten them.” And what might deter Israel?

[This piece originally appeared in a special weeklong series on the Stanford University Press blog, and is reposted here in partnership with SUP blog. The entire ten-part series can be found on the SUP blog.]

Israel bans radio advert listing names of children killed in Gaza

Israel bans radio advert listing names of children killed in Gaza

Human rights group B’Tselem will petition Israel’s supreme court after advert was deemed to be ‘politically controversial’
in Jerusale
The Guardian,
Aid agencies said on Wednesday that a child had been killed in Gaza on average every hour for the preceding two days. Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP

The Israeli Broadcasting Authority has banned a radio advertisement from a human rights organisation which listed the names of some of the scores of children killed in Gaza since the conflict began 17 days ago.

B’Tselem‘s appeal against the decision was rejected on Wednesday. It intends to petition Israel‘s supreme court on Sunday in an effort to get the ban overturned.

The IBA said the ad’s content was “politically controversial”. The broadcast refers to child deaths in Gaza and reads out some of the victims’ names.

In its appeal, B’Tselem demanded to know what was controversial about the item. “Is it controversial that the children [aren’t] alive? That they’re children? That those are their names? These are facts that we wish to bring to the public’s knowledge.”

In a statement, the human rights group said: “So far more than 600 people have been killed in bombings in Gaza, more than 150 of them children. But apart from a brief report on the number of fatalities, the Israeli media refrains from covering them.” By Thursday morning, the death toll in Gaza had exceeded 700.

B’Tselem went on: “IBA says broadcasting the children’s names is politically controversial. But refusing to do so is in itself a far-reaching statement – it says the huge price being paid by civilians in Gaza, many of them children, must be censored.”

Aid agencies said on Wednesday that a child had been killed in Gaza on average every hour for the preceding two days, and more than 70,000 children had been forced to flee their homes. There has also been a spike in the number of premature births.

“The shocking number of children being killed, injured, or displaced in Gaza demands an unequivocal international response to stop the bloodshed,” Save the Children said. “Entire families are being wiped out in seconds as a result of the targeting of homes.”

Dr Yousif al Swaiti, director of al-Awda hospital, said: “We have witnessed many premature births as a result of the fear and psychological disorders caused by the military offensive. The number of cases of premature births per day has doubled, compared to the average daily rate before the escalation.”

Is media just another word for control?

http://johnpilger.com/articles/is-media-just-another-word-for-control

Is media just another word for control?

by John Pilger, 2 January 2014
 
A recent poll asked people in Britain how many Iraqis had been killed as a result of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The answers they gave were shocking. A majority said that fewer than 10,000 had been killed. Scientific studies report that up to a million Iraqi men, women and children died in an inferno lit by the British government and its ally in Washington. That’s the equivalent of the genocide in Rwanda. And the carnage goes on. Relentlessly.
 
What this reveals is how we in Britain have been misled by those whose job is to keep the record straight. The American writer and academic Edward Herman calls this ‘normalising the unthinkable’. He describes two types of victims in the world of news: ‘worthy victims’ and ‘unworthy victims’. ‘Worthy victims’ are those who suffer at the hands of our enemies: the likes of Assad, Qadaffi, Saddam Hussein. ‘Worthy victims’ qualify for what we call ‘humanitarian intervention’. ‘Unworthy victims’ are those who get in the way of our punitive might and that of the ‘good dictators’ we employ. Saddam Hussein was once a ‘good dictator’ but he got uppity and disobedient and was relegated to ‘bad dictator’.
 
In Indonesia, General Suharto was a ‘good dictator’, regardless of his slaughter of perhaps a million people, aided by the governments of Britain and America. He also wiped out a third of the population of East Timor with the help of British fighter aircraft and British machine guns. Suharto was even welcomed to London by the Queen and when he died peacefully in his bed, he was lauded as enlightened, a moderniser, one of us. Unlike Saddam Hussein, he never got uppity.
 
When I travelled in Iraq in the 1990s, the two principal Moslem groups, the Shia and Sunni, had their differences but they lived side by side, even intermarried and regarded themselves with pride as Iraqis. There was no Al Qaida, there were no jihadists. We blew all that to bits in 2003 with ‘shock and awe’. And today Sunni and Shia are fighting each other right across the Middle East. This mass murder is being funded by the regime in Saudi Arabia which beheads people and discriminates against women. Most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. In 2010, Wikileaks released a cable sent to US embassies by the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. She wrote this: “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, al Nusra and other terrorist groups… worldwide”. And yet the Saudis are our valued allies. They’re good dictators. The British royals visit them often. We sell them all the weapons they want.
 
I use the first person ‘we’ and ‘our’ in line with newsreaders and commentators who often say ‘we’, preferring not to distinguish between the criminal power of our governments and us, the public. We are all assumed to be part of a consensus: Tory and Labour, Obama’s White House too. When Nelson Mandela died, the BBC went straight to David Cameron, then to Obama. Cameron who went to South Africa during Mandela’s 25th year of imprisonment on a trip that was tantamount to support for the apartheid regime, and Obama who recently shed a tear in Mandela’s cell on Robben Island – he who presides over the cages of Guantanamo.
 
What were they really mourning about Mandela? Clearly not his extraordinary will to resist an oppressive system whose depravity the US and British governments backed year after year. Rather they were grateful for the crucial role Mandela had played in quelling an uprising in black South Africa against the injustice of white political and economic power. This was surely the only reason he was released. Today the same ruthless economic power is apartheid in another form, making South Africa the most unequal society on earth. Some call this “reconciliation”.
 
We all live in an information age – or so we tell each other as we caress our smart phones like rosary beads, heads down, checking, monitoring, tweeting. We’re wired; we’re on message; and the dominant theme of the message is ourselves. Identity is the zeitgeist. A lifetime ago in ‘Brave New World’, Aldous Huxley predicted this as the ultimate means of social control because it was voluntary, addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom. Perhaps the truth is that we live not in an information age but a media age. Like the memory of Mandela, the media’s wondrous technology has been hijacked. From the BBC to CNN, the echo chamber is vast.
 
In his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, Harold Pinter spoke about a “manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.” But, said Pinter, “it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”
 
Pinter was referring to the systematic crimes of the United States and to an undeclared censorship by omission – that is, leaving out crucial information that might help us make sense of the world.
 
Today liberal democracy is being replaced by a system in which people are accountable to a corporate state – not the other way round as it should be. In Britain, the parliamentary parties are devoted to the same doctrine of care for the rich and struggle for the poor. This denial of real democracy is an historic shift. It’s why the courage of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange is such a threat to the powerful and unaccountable. And it’s an object lesson for those of us who are meant to keep the record straight. The great reporter Claud Cockburn put it well: “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied”.
 
Imagine if the lies of governments had been properly challenged and exposed as they secretly prepared to invade Iraq – perhaps a million people would be alive today.
 
This is a transcript of John Pilger’s contribution to a special edition of  BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, on 2 January 2014, guest-edited by the artist and musician Polly Harvey. You can listen to the above transcript here
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18spvWk1qko

Manufacturing Discontent: The Case of the Danish Cartoons

Manufacturing Discontent: The Case of the Danish Cartoons

November 10, 2006

The Drouth, Summer 2006

The publication of offensive cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in Jyllands-Posten, a major Danish newspaper last year precipitated a bitter confrontation between Europe and the Islamic world that came to a head early this year. Events may have overtaken the cartoon war but the fallout from the controversy will shape European politics vis-à-vis its immigrant population for years to come. The deluge of articles and opinions in the media for the most part failed to provide context or insight into the issues involved. The common narrative placed “Western secularism” against “Muslim intolerance”; warnings of a “clash of civilizations” were legion. Many took refuge in absolutes, and defence of the cherished Western value of “freedom of expression” was deemed paramount. However, if we are to learn anything from this experience and understand the reactions on both sides it is imperative that myths are dispensed with, and agency and intent identified.

The story that made the rounds in the European media was that of an intrepid cultural editor of a mainstream Danish newspaper concerned with the stifling political-correctness in Europe who decided to “test the limits of freedom of expression” and challenge the rising self-censorship by publishing caricatures of the most revered figure in Islam. Unaccustomed to such high-minded ideals, the Muslim world reacted in characteristic way – with violence – but only after their sentiments had been sufficiently enflamed by itinerant Imams and rogue regimes months after the publication of the offending cartoons. Newspapers in several European countries published the cartoons simultaneously as a gesture of solidarity and the Islamic world responded with a commercial boycott of all Danish products.

As we shall presently see, there are many problems with this narrative, beginning with the publication itself.

Jyllands-Posten is Denmark’s largest selling newspaper with a notoriously anti-Immigrant editorial line. In 2001 it assisted Anders Rasmussen’s Prime Ministerial bid on an anti-immigration platform by publishing fake stories of asylum fraud by Palestinian refugees days before the election. A 2004 report by European Network Against Racism singled out JP for its excessive and skewed coverage of immigrant issues. Flemming Rose, the cultural editor who commissioned the cartoons, himself is a close associate of notorious Islamophobe and arch-Zionist Daniel Pipes, founder of the McCarthyite Campus-Watch and advocate of WWII style internment of American Muslims and complete ethnic-cleansing of Palestinians. Rose was already testing the waters in 2004, when he published a laudatory article on Pipes with a sample of his extremist views in the format of an interview. In one section Pipes declared he was “amazed that Europe is not more alarmed about the challenge that Islam poses” and questioned the wisdom of leaning back and waiting “for things to happen”. He need not have waited long; things did happen and it was his interlocutor who furnished the trigger. But is this sufficient explanation for the ferocity of the response?

An editorial in the Washington Post touched on the aspect of the story which had been duly ignored in the myriad commentaries on the subject. The paper called the publication of the cartoons a “calculated insult” by a “right-wing newspaper in a country where bigotry toward the minority Muslim population is a major, if frequently unacknowledged, problem”. In The Guardian Jonathan Steele quotes Jytte Klausen, a Danish political scientist as saying: “religious tolerance and respect for human rights have been sorely lacking in Denmark”. Klausen and others cite frequent statements by Brian Mikkelsen, the minister of cultural affairs, regarding cultural “restoration” and the evils of “multiculturalism”, as symptomatic of this intolerance. In an article in Index on Censorship, George Blecher quotes the independent Danish daily Information as saying that the publication of the cartoons was inspired by Mikkelsen’s speech at a Conservative Party meeting where he called for “a new offensive in the Culture Wars” and deplored Muslim immigrants for their “medieval standards and undemocratic ways of thinking.” The paper went on to say:

Among [Mikkelsen’s] points and examples was that “freedom of expression” was threatened, because a comedian “doesn’t dare piss on the Koran”, and illustrators don’t dare put their names on illustrations that show Mohammed’s face.

Rasmussen’s government relies for support in Parliament on the far-right Dansk Folkeparti with an anti-immigrant agenda and immigrants from Islamic countries are its primary targets. Even Kofi Annan has criticized the government for being “unsure of how to treat its significant Muslim population”. Racially motivated crimes doubled in the country between 2004 and 2005 according to the Danish Institute for Human Rights. Steele writes:

If there is a tolerance spectrum, with resistance to diversity at one end, acceptance of it in the middle and celebration of it at the other end…Denmark is still at the spectrum’s prejudiced end, a traditionally mono-ethnic country that has not yet accepted the new cultures in its midst. Public discourse is stuck where it was in Britain a generation ago, with angry talk about “guests” who ought to conform to the “host country” or go home.

It is a matter of no small significance that Rasmussen remains one of Bush’s very few allies in Europe and has sent troops both to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Danish queen’s exhortation to the citizens to show their “opposition to Islam” did not do much to ease the tension.

The publication of the cartoons within such an environment takes on an altogether different meaning, but does that justify the violent response? More importantly, why did it take four months to materialize?

As a matter of fact, the response to the publication of the cartoons was immediate and peaceful. Appeals from Danish Muslim groups to the Culture Minister Mikkelsen were rebuffed and a request of ambassadors from eleven Muslim countries to take their concerns to the Prime Minister directly was rejected. At this point Danish Muslim organizations lodged a complaint against Jyllands-Posten to the police on the grounds that it had committed an offence under section 140 and 266b of the Danish Criminal Code. Having exhausted all the legal avenues, leaders of the Danish Muslim community finally turned to the Muslim world for support. The Arab League duly issued a condemnation and criticized the Danish government for its inaction. In Denmark the Regional Public Prosecutor of Viborg decided to discontinue investigation into whether the paper had violated the Danish Criminal Code. Several Muslim countries withdrew their ambassadors from Denmark in protest and consumers in the middle-east started a boycott of Danish products. The Organization of the Islamic Conference issued a resolution condemning the publication and lodged a complaint with the UN. Danes were ordered out by militants in the Occupied Palestinian territories, and protests erupted in various Muslim countries. At this point, several newspapers in Europe decided to publish the cartoons simultaneously as “a gesture of solidarity” and the response, which had been hitherto measured, finally turned violent.

The sensational images of flags being torched, mobs burning down embassies and offices of the EU being occupied by gunmen clearly make for more exciting television. But the more significant story of the four months of silent protest was lost in the Drama. A few dozen extremists with offensive placards in London made headlines but the nearly 15 million Muslims of Europe who weathered the storm with dignity were deemed unworthy of coverage. Behaviour of the former was used to characterize the sentiments of the latter. The fact that 97 percent of the youth surveyed by the UN in Muslim countries deplored the violence, wasn’t considered newsworthy. Condoleezza Rice placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Washington’s official enemies: Syria and Iran (even though the campaign started in Saudi Arabia, an official ally). In The Nation, Gary Younge writes: “Muslims were in effect being vilified twice–once through the original cartoons and then again for having the gall to protest them.” Many in the Muslim world with their own political axes to grind made most of the opportunity and enflamed sentiments further, but that is irrelevant. It is a truism that we are all responsible for the predictable consequences of our actions. Given the racist and inflammatory nature of the cartoons it was reasonable to expect a response. It was also reasonable to expect that not all responses were going to be restrained. It is impossible that the JP editors did not take this into consideration. If someone has hijacked the legitimate grievances of more than a billion Muslims and is trying to make political capital out of it, the responsibility still lies with those who have provided this opportunity. Had the paper not published the cartoons, there would be no sentiments for the extremists to whip up.

Could it be that this was precisely the response the publication of the cartoons was meant to generate?

With the news of the first violent protests, Flemming Rose was quick to declare it the long predicted “clash of civilizations” and questioned the compatibility of “religion of Islam with a modern secular society”. Similar sentiments were voiced by his confederate Daniel Pipes invited on CNN to comment on the controversy. Neither one’s neocon connections, nor their links to each other were mentioned. The continuous coverage of the protests was clearly having an impact – a March 9 Washington Post poll revealed that nearly 46 per cent of Americans had a negative view of Islam, a number ten points higher than in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Given the timing and the provenance of the controversy, James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya have speculated that this may very well have been an effort to prepare public opinion for the upcoming attack on Iran. This would not be the first time that cartoons are used to provoke a violent response from a minority in order to discredit and demonize a whole racial, ethnic or religious group. The Southern white racists did it, the Nazis did it and so did the FBI.

So, was this about freedom of speech? As the British press revealed, the same publication had already turned down caricatures of Jesus on the grounds that readers will not “enjoy” them and they will “provoke an outcry”. In many European countries holocaust denial is a crime and the British historian David Irving is serving time for a speech made in the ’80s. Mein Kampf cannot be bought or sold in Germany. So freedom of speech is clearly not absolute. But assuming it was absolute; it would merely reflect the existing imbalance in society so long as it was not tempered by associated responsibilities. Otherwise, it gives the dominant sector in any society a license to offend. Younge writes:

The right to offend must come with at least one consequent right and one subsequent responsibility. People must have the right to be offended, and those bold enough to knowingly cause offence should be bold enough to weather the consequences, so long as the aggrieved respond within the law.

It is hard to see anything positive coming out of this episode except the principled and dignified stance of the British and American Left. In clear contrast to the French Left during the headscarf debate the Left in US/UK took a commendable position by refusing to let abstract principles distract from reality. They recognized the gratuitously offensive nature of the cartoons and the political motivation behind their publication. They also acknowledged that the “right to freedom of speech equates to neither an obligation to offend nor a duty to be insensitive.” The commitment to freedom of speech, and the commitment to fight racism need not be mutually exclusive. Freedom of speech could certainly find better uses than in attacks on the most vulnerable parts of our society. The decision to print the cartoons was political; it had nothing to do with principles. At the end of the day, the incident failed to put a wedge between Muslims and the US/UK Left as everyone had expected it would. The whole debate is best summed up by the political cartoonist Martin Rowson who regularly receives hundreds of angry and obscene e-mails when he draws President Bush with blood on his hands, but for him it is an acceptable price since “the purpose of satire is to attack people more powerful than you are.” Flemming Rose, and the Southern white supremacist would clearly disagree.

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad is a researcher for Spinwatch.

“The Nation’s Ward”, a cartoon by Grant Hamilton, portrayed an American Indian as a savage snake constricting a pioneer family while being fed by Uncle Sam even as the pioneers’ home burned; the Nazis used caricatures of Jews as dirty, unattractive and shabbily dressed men busy undermining the Reich to whip up anti-Semitic sentiments in the population (Philip Rupprecht, the most popular of these, ran in Der Stürmer); The FBI’s COINTELPRO Program used a fake colouring book to discredit the Black Panther Party and advocated “the use of cartoons, photographs, and anonymous letters” to ridicule the New Left: “Ridicule is one of the most potent weapons which we can use against it.” For a history of the relation between caricatures of African Americans and racism see: http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/caricature/