Celebration of Steve Cohen’s life , this Sunday.

coverCelebration of the life and achievements of Steve Cohen. Manchester Town Hall.
Sunday 5th July 11am.- 5pm

There’ll be various speakers, including speakers on antisemitism, friendship, Ireland, anti-deportation, Steve’s life, various speakers from campaigns Steve was involved in,and also a reading by Julie Hesmondhalg from Steve’s recent novel . Followed at 2 pm by the Immigration Law Practitioners Association 25th anniversary celebrations “Perspectives on Immigration”
All welcome.

Hal Draper: How to Defend Israel – a Program for Israeli Socialists (1948)

Cross-posted on Greens Engage:

Hal Draper and his political party, the Workers’ Party, rejected the idea of partition and believed the ultimate decision to set up a new nation state of Israel in 1948 was a regrettable one. But, recognising that most socialists had not pursued an argument against nationalism in general and should not do so with Jews in 1948, and cognisant of the nature of the enemies of Israel at that time, he authored How To Defend Israel: a Political Program for Israeli Socialists.

This was a time, note, when religion was eclipsed as an influence in Middle East conflicts by a raft of other warring ideologies, and so does not receive the emphasis he would probably give it if he were writing today. The idea of Britain being part of the Big Three is also quaint. And the notion of ‘imperialism’ is, as ever, left unpacked (in my previous post Moishe Postone examines how anti-capitalism became internationalised as anti-imperialism). It was also a time when Palestinians who had suddenly found themselves as Israel’s Arab citizens were living under military rule; since that time a great deal of progress has been made (notwithstanding the present Israeli government – as Mohammad Darawshe remarks “There have been worse”). However, Hal Draper’s thinking about Israel is worth revisiting because of his distinction between elites (which he terms ‘Zionist leadership’ and ‘Arab lords’ or ‘effendis’) and the interests of two peoples, and his acknowledgement of their right to self determination.

“… socialist thinking on this subject must start by understanding the distinction between (a) the Jews’ right to self-determination, and (b) the correctness or advisability of exercising this right to the point of separation under given conditions. We need only refer to the fact that, before and after the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks’ program called for defense of Finland’s right to self-determination: before the revolution, Marxists in Finland advocated separation; after the revolution, the Communists in Finland advocated unity with Russia; but both before and after, there was no question in their minds but that the Finns had the right to separate if they so willed. Never under Lenin did the Soviets attempt to deprive them of that right by force of arms.

But in the present case we do not even have the complication of a workers’ state being involved. Far from it! The attack upon the Jews’ right to self-determination comes from a deeply reactionary social class – the Arab lords – whose reactionary aims in this case are not alleviated by the fact that they themselves suffer from the exploitation of British imperialism (at the same time that they cling to that imperialism in order to defend their privileges against their own people).

In this conflict, as socialists – that is, as the only thoroughgoing and consistent democrats, we not only support the Palestine Jews’ right to self-determination but draw the necessary conclusions from that position: for full recognition of the Jewish state by our own government; for lifting the embargo on arms to Israel; for defense of the Jewish state against the Arab invasion in the present circumstances.

But for us this is not the end of the question but only the beginning.

The question which we have asked, following Lenin’s method, was: What politics does this war flow from? War – so goes the platitude – is the continuation of politics by other, forceful, means. In the case of every concrete war, we try to analyze concretely the politics of which that war is the continuation. The Spanish loyalist government was an imperialist government; it exploited Morocco and oppressed the peasants (and shot them down when they revolted!). But when the Franco fascists sought to overthrow even this miserable government, we called for its defense – in our own way, by revolutionary means, and without giving the slightest political support to the bourgeois People’s Front leaders – because our analysis of the concreteness of events showed that the anti-Franco war did not flow from the loyalist government’s imperialist character but from the fascists’ attack upon its democratic base.

This was ABC once.”

Read on.

(I also got a lot out of Hal Draper’s his ABC of National Liberation Movements. I have yet to read his much-cited Two Souls of Socialism. See also Sean Matgamna, whose organisation Workers’ Liberty frequently draws on Draper’s thinking, and who cautions “Draper, I think, did contribute more than a little to the Zionophobe conquest of so much of the left”.)

Via Contested Terrain.

A message from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns 1969–2009

Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns 1969–2009

Dear Museum Friend,

On Friday, June 19, our Museum community joined the family and friends of Officer Stephen Johns at a deeply moving service that mourned his loss, celebrated his life and paid tribute to his legacy. Officer Johns’ pastor challenged all of us to do more to honor the ideals that our beloved colleague sacrificed his life protecting. We are moving forward with renewed dedication to our work, but our first priority is Officer Johns’ family.

Therefore, the Museum has established the USHMM Officer Johns Family Fund. One hundred percent of your gift will be forwarded directly to the family of Officer Johns. Please note that under IRS regulations gifts such as this are not tax-deductible.

Gifts can be made in any of the following ways:

Visit http://web.ushmm.org/officerjohns
Mail a check payable to USHMM Officer Johns Family Fund to USHMM, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW, Washington DC 20024.
Call toll free 877-91USHMM (877-918-7466) from 8:00am to 8:00pm Eastern time.

We are most appreciative for the outpouring of support and messages of condolence we have received from so many concerned citizens and organizations across the country and around the world. Officer Johns will be deeply missed by his Museum family and all who knew him.

Sara J. Bloomfield
Sara J. Bloomfield

Particularism on the left, and its critics

Where is the outcry in my trade union about the murder of Iranian students by the Iranian authorities and its executors, the Basij militia? Why is Israeli state violence against Palestinian universities so much more important to UCU members in Britain than Iranian state violence against its own universities and students?

Intellectual historian Moishe Postone talked about this sort of particularism at his SOAS presentation on Monday.

Update June 30th: see Martin in the Margins’ UCU does something right (hat tip Kellie):

“On Saturday UCU general secretary Sally Hunt represented the union at a protest outside the Iranian embassy, as part of the Justice for Iranian Workers campaign.

The UCU has also condemned the Iranian government’s arrest of 70 university professors, as part of the crackdown on opposition protestors.

More from Norm on the Guardian’s equivocations on 7 Jewish Children

Here on Normblog.

Incidentally, he has a word to say about Seumas Milne’s defence of the vile Ahmadinejad.


Trade Unions linking Israel and Palestine (TULIP) was represented by Eric Lee at the Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI) fringe meeting at UNISON Conference.

Read the report of an excellent event on the TULIP website.

UK pro-Palestinian group accused of hypocrisy

Jonny Paul reports in the Jerusalem Post Here.

The Guardian accepts 7 Jewish Children may be antisemitic

But it refuses to make a judgment about whether or not it actually is.

An antiracist newspaper?

See normblog.

Come to the fringe meeting UNISON tried to ban

No room at UNISON conference for friends of Israel

No room at UNISON conference for friends of Israel

What next for Israeli-Palestinian Trade Union Cooperation?

Yes to Peace, No to Boycotts Trade Union Friends of Israel Fringe Event with:

Eric Lee, Trade Unions Linking Israel & Palestine (TULIP)

Terry McCorran, Unison Member (speaking in a personal capacity)

Chris Hudson, Peace Activist

Time: 12:45 – 2:00pm, Wednesday 17 June 2009

Venue: Regent Room, The Grand Hotel (King’s Road, 2 minutes walk from the conference centre)

Buffet lunch with tea & coffee provided All welcome

UNISON have banned TUFI (Trade Union Friends of Israel) from having a stall at its conference.  Read the story here in the Jewish Chronicle.

More from Harry’s Place:

Bill Gilby, the union’s conference organiser, said he would not describe Tufi’s absence as “a ban”. He said his conference team had received “an expression of concern” at the possibility of Tufi being offered a stall, “because of the union’s long-standing policy position on the Middle East and concern about the welfare of individuals if such a stall were to be there”.

I think I understand this correctly.

Unison fears that its members will carry out antisemitic attacks on Jews, if TUFI is permitted its customary stall.

Isn’t this precisely the sort of thing that Nick Griffin’s BNP says to ethnic and cultural minorities – “You better not turn up – for your own safety”?

This is – or certainly should be, a matter of huge concern to Unison. If it is not, then could it be that Unison is supportive of attacks on Jews at its conference?

Remember how Eric Lee was treated by UNISON?

Toxic To Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, & Scapegoating – Chip Berlet


Charged with the fatal shooting of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in a church in Wichita, Kansas, last Sunday morning, Scott Philip Roeder is a regular consumer of conservative talk radio, television, and websites. But did Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck—or any other commentator whipping up an audience with overheated demonizing rhetoric—actually help pull the trigger?

It’s not that simple, explains Chip Berlet, senior analyst for the independent think tank Political Research Associates (PRA), in a new study entitled Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, and Scapegoating.

“They are not legally culpable for the assassination of Dr. Tiller, says Berlet, “but they must share some portion of moral responsibility for creating   a dangerous environment.”

According to Berlet:

“Right-wing pundits demonize scapegoated groups and individuals in our society, implying that it is urgent to stop them from wrecking the nation. Some angry people in the audience already believe conspiracy theories in which the same scapegoats are portrayed as subversive, destructive, or evil. Add in aggressive apocalyptic ideas that suggest time is running out and quick action mandatory and you have a perfect storm of mobilized resentment threatening to rain bigotry and violence across the United States.”

Read the entire Media Release Here

Read the Executive Summary

Read the full text of the body of the report

Read the full text of the back of the report Notes, Bibliography, Index, etc.

Executive Summary:

Even before Barack Obama was sworn in as the
44th President of the United States the Internet
was seething with lurid conspiracy theories exposing
his alleged subversion and treachery. Among the
many false claims: Obama was not a proper citizen of
the United States (and his election as President
should thus be overturned); he was a secret, fundamentalist
Muslim; he was a tool of the New World
Order in a plot to merge the government of the
United States into a North American Union with
Mexico and Canada.

Hours following a flubbed inaugural oath of
office, the Internet circulated claims that Obama was
not really President of the United States because the
wording of the oath of office had been scrambled by
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. A few
days after the inauguration came a warning that
Obama planned to impose martial law and collect all

Many of these false claims recall those floated by
right-wing conspiracy theorists in the armed citizens
Militia Movement during the Clinton administration
—allegations that percolated up through the media
and were utilized by Republican political operatives
to hobble the legislative agenda of the Democratic
Party. Assertions that President Clinton assisted drug
smugglers, ran a hit squad that killed his political
enemies, and covered up the assassination of his aide
Vincent Foster first circulated on right-wing alternative
media, spread to right-wing information networks,
and eventually appeared in mainstream
media outlets.

A similar scenario could add to the already
daunting challenges of the Obama administration.
When Obama’s “web-savvy” aides saw “conspiracy
theories building up on the internet,” they staged a
repeat swearing in as “the fastest way to stop the
speculation getting out of control.” Such events illustrate
the power and pervasiveness of conspiracism.

What Richard Hofstadter described as the “paranoid
style” in U.S. right-wing movements derives
from belief in an apocalyptic struggle between “good”
and “evil,” in which demonized enemies are complicit
in a vast insidious plot against the common
good, and against which the conspiracist must heroically Read the rest of this entry »