‘This includes any reference to their wildlife’

  This is a guest post by Max Dunbar.

Following my post on the Manchester Leila Khaled controversy, a reader got in touch to share a marvellous Morning Star letter from Linda Clair, a Manchester PSC activist who was supposed to be hosting the Khaled event.

Not being a regular reader, I am unfamiliar with the Morning Star quiz. I’m not going for high-minded disdain. Maybe I really am missing out. A few weeks ago, the quiz apparently included a question about Israel’s national bird, the Hoopoe. This provoked letters from two readers, Linda Clair and George Abendstern, who complained that the question breached the anti-Zionist left’s academic and cultural boycott of Israel. I am not making this up.

I often wonder why so many of its readers find the Morning Star so exasperating.

Despite its condemnation of zionists it yet finds space to include an item in its daily quiz about Israel’s national bird.

Is the Star not aware there’s a cultural boycott going on?

And then, despite it’s condemnation of the Bahrain Grand Prix and rightly so, it then goes on to tell us who won.

For goodness sake comrades, get your act together.

George Abendstern



The Morning Star has always been the newspaper you could rely on to support the cause of the Palestinians, so why of all the birds in the world did you choose the Israeli national bird to include in your quiz?

Maybe you don’t support the methods chosen by the International Solidarity Movement of BDS to assist the Palestinians in their struggle for freedom and justice – a demand that came from them originally.

This includes any reference to their wildlife.

Linda Clair


Full credit to the Star though, for publishing this whimsical response from another reader, Martyn Lewis. The signoff makes it.

As a shareholder and daily
Reader of The Morning Star
I find Abenstern and
Clair’s objections to a bird
Just bizzare. It’s a pity the
United Nations can’t get
The dove of peace flying in
For some birdsong. No doubt
My letter will hit the waste
Paper bin faster than a can
Of Spam!

Marytn Lewis
Leighton Buzzard

But Lewis’s playful riposte was, unfortunately, not the end of it as the Rochdale duo, with an apparent lack of any humour or self awareness, decided to write another letter about the bird quiz question:

Regarding Martyn Lewis’s dismissal of our objection to quiz questions on Israel’s national bird (M Star April 30), it’s not the bird we object to but what this bird represents – the racist and apartheid state of Israel.

We too are shareholders and daily readers of the Morning Star and the Daily Worker before it.

George Abendstern & Linda Clair


The Star’s letter page has a tagline saying ‘If you have enjoyed this article then please consider making a donation to the Morning Star‘s Fighting Fund’. For moments like this, I’m tempted.

11 Responses to “‘This includes any reference to their wildlife’”

  1. snoopythegoon Says:

    PSC and sense of humor? Surely you are expecting a lot…

  2. mark gardner Says:

    Do we have a Zionist cuckoo in the Morning Star’s quiz dept?

  3. Absolute Observer Says:

    We support and have defended the rights of Hoopes to fly where they wish. What we object to is the establishment of their own nest. Hoopes in flight are part of the progressive movement, Hoopes at rest are the enemies of humanity.

  4. mark gardner Says:

    The staff and readers of the Morning Star are resolutely opposed to all forms of ornithobia, including and especially antihoopoeism.

  5. Thomas Venner Says:

    Are we sure these people weren’t just taking the piss? These letters read like something I would write as a piss-take.

    • Absolute Observer Says:

      If only – although Lewis strikes the right tone and, in doing so succeeds in ruffling some feathers.

  6. Joseph Says:

    They must think all the Zionists live in Finch-ley and Goldcrest Green.

  7. Dov Says:

    “We too are shareholders and daily readers of the Morning Star and the Daily Worker before it.”
    Er, shouldn’t all the capital be owned by the workers?

  8. Soupy One Says:

    Presumably anti-Israeli fanatics will be boycotting Israel’s national animal as well? The Mountain gazelle


  9. Thomas Venner Says:

    Anyone know what the Palestinian national bird is?

  10. Look How Far We’ve Come « Max Dunbar Says:

    […] 2012: We are all Eurasian hoopoes now: writing for Engage, I explore the controversy that erupted when the Morning Star’s weekly quiz included a reference to the Israeli national bird. […]

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