History will judge us. Which side are you on? Compassion and humanity, or terrorist apartheid Israel?

Little girl in Gaza covers doll's eyes.

A little girl in Gaza covers her doll’s eyes that it should not witness what she is seeing – her compassion and humanity shining through despite all she has been through. Those inflicting such horror on children are on the wrong side of history, and all of us should take a stand against their hideous crimes, or be judged complicit.

History will judge us all

History will surely judge the Israeli Zionist state as among the most evil of the present era.

It will also judge those who sought to support or appease this terrorist regime as complicit in its crimes against humanity.

The governments of the UK and USA, who are declared friends of Israel and who support it in many ways, are in it up to their necks.

South African parallel

I lived in apartheid South Africa from December 1979 to June 1987. I know about the justification of violence and the dehumanisation and demonisation of “the other”. I know about the siege mentality, brainwashing and the imperviousness of the brainwashed to reason. It was ultimately the cold hard logic of sanctions, including a cultural and sport boycott, that broke apartheid.

The Israeli mindset is arguably worse – even less amenable to persuasion.  The only thing that will work is force – peaceful force in the form of boycott, divestment and sanctions – which will make it impossible for the Israeli murder, theft and propaganda machine to continue.

Bravo, Latin America!

Latin America takes a stand against Israel.

The people and governments of Latin America are showing the way.

The people and governments of Latin America have shown the way. They have been shaking off the stranglehold of US neoliberal imperialism and they are calling Israel out for what is. They are increasingly  supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Joyce Macmillan article

Joyce Macmillan thinks that an Israeli state-sponsored show should go ahead. I say fine, if it condemns Israel and crowd-sources funds.

Joyce Macmillan

Joyce Macmillan, of course I support freedom of expression, but all those who are sponsored by (or support) the State of Israel are complicit in its crimes.

If an Israeli state-sponsored theatre company wants to put on a show in Edinburgh it should repudiate the Israeli state’s actions, return the funds, and crowd-source alternative funding, as suggested by Neill Walker on Facebook. I would then happily support it.

Please, Scottish Government…

Please, Scottish Government, understand how history will view you if you effectively side with genocide. Examine your consciences and take a stand. Individual ministers and MSPs, if the government or your party, respectively, won’t condemn Israel and support boycott, divestment and sanctions, I think you should consider resigning. For the sake of humanity.

Humza Yousaf

Humza, please take a lead on this.

Humza, I know you a bit. You are intelligent, thoughtful, caring and principled. Please do what you must know is the right thing and take a principled stand on this. Who is pressuring you? What are they threatening you with? What is most important right now?

Please sign this open letter to Humza Yousaf

Readers, please consider signing this open letter to Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Government Minister for External Affairs and International Development, calling for the Scottish Government to unambiguously condemn Israel’s ethnic cleansing and support boycott, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel to compel it to recognise Palestinian human rights under international law.

Let Scotland and its people be judged well when history looks back on us.

We don’t have to wait until after 18 September to make the world a better place.

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Partial victory against Israel in Edinburgh, but the struggle goes on.

Human rights protesters target Israeli show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

About 100 of us picketed Israeli Government-sponsored show, Incubator Theatre’s ‘The City (A Hip Hop Opera)’, at the Edinburgh Fringe Underbelly venue. We persuaded them to close the show at that venue, but the Underbelly management are seeking another.

Unbelievably, in view of Israel’s record on human rights and the ongoing slaughter of innocents in Gaza, the management of the Underbelly venue at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival somehow thought it a good idea to book and then not cancel a show sponsored by the Israeli Government. Naivety or a flagrant disregard for human rights?

Incubator Theatre, which receives funding from the Israeli Government, was staging ‘The City (A Hip Hop Opera)’ but we, a diverse group of human rights activists brought together by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others, were determined not to let what is effectively a display of solidarity with the state of Israel and its heinous crimes continue.  We picketed the main entrance at the back, refusing to budge when the police and the security staff urged us to move.  We picketed the front too, when we realised they were letting people in there. We stayed in place for several hours, bracketing the show’s performance.

Eric at protest against Israeli show

Here I am!

Your tickets are covered in Palestinian blood!

We did not physically bar people from entering, but they had to run a gauntlet of our leaflets and chants, not least among which, ‘Your tickets are covered in Palestinian blood!’

We probably deterred many from attending, and the noise we made would also have damaged the experience of audiences at other Underbelly venues and disturbed office-workers and residents in the area. We feel that the Israeli Government, the Incubator Theatre Company, and the management of the Underbelly must take responsibility for this. What did they expect?

Victory?

Israeli group have show cancelled after protest

A partial victory. Click on this image to read the story.

Later that day we learnt that the show would not proceed at that venue. However, according to the Edinburgh Evening News, “Underbelly and Incubator Theatre will work to identify other suitable venues for the show to perform at in Edinburgh.”

Underbelly staff urged to get up petition against management’s decision to find other venue for show

What kind of warped mentality would consider continuing with this show, now that it should be clear that it amounts to support for mass murder?  We shall, of course, protest again if another venue is found, and I would personally urge the employees of Underbelly to get up a petition against the management’s decision. You are, in my personal view, complicit in crimes against humanity if you do nothing.

Boycott the Underbelly, de facto supporter of crimes against humanity

I also urge people to boycott all Underbelly shows until the Israelis are definitively sent packing. Please, in the name of humanity.  On the other hand, if they cancel the show completely, I shall make a point of attending shows there.

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Gaza: BBC admits hiding the horror @BBCr4today

Protest in Glasgow at BBC pro-Israel bias.

I was one of thousands of protesters at the BBC’s Glasgow headquarters. We were objecting to the BBC’s blatant pro-Israeli bias

The BBC, de facto ally of the murderous Israeli regime, has possibly come as close as it ever will to admitting that its coverage of what is happening in Gaza is…. ahem… partial. Someone’s head may roll for not considering the admission contained in the words used in this morning’s episode of the Today programme on Radio 4.

In a report on the support of West Bank Palestinians for those being butchered in Gaza, the BBC said something along the lines of ‘the media in the West Bank expose them to more horrific images of what is happening in Gaza than are shown on the Western media’.

This wee girl is witnessing the carnage in Gaza. The caption reads: 'On the festival of Eid al-Fitr, children were out playing in Gaza City and witnessed explosions and their aftermath.'

This is about as graphic as the BBC gets, but even this image speaks volumes. This wee girl is witnessing the carnage in Gaza. The caption reads: ‘On the festival of Eid al-Fitr, children were out playing in Gaza City and witnessed explosions and their aftermath.’

The BBC undoubtedly includes itself in ‘Western media’ . Just think, then, what this means. The implication of its words is that the West Bankers are stirred to demonstrate by images of what is really happening in Gaza, not revealed by the BBC. We can therefore assume that the public reaction against gross abuses of human rights by the Israeli regime here in the UK would be more extreme if we were also shown what is happening. In effect, then, the BC admits that it is batting for Israel.

Mark Regev

Israeli spin-doctor Mark Regev is given so much airtime he should be on a BBC salary.

Want more evidence? Note the hugely disproportionate time given by the BBC to slick Israeli spokesmen (sticking doggedly to the script written for them by a US PR expert).  I am thinking of launching a campaign for the sinisterly smooth Mark Regev to receive a BBC salary.

…Oh, here’s a footnote on the Today programme. The piece on the West Bank and Gaza was tastelessly followed by a long and frivolous discussion on forthcoming porn-flick, 50 Shades of Grey. Draw your own conclusions about the BBC’s priorities.

You may wish to read some of my other pieces on Israel/Palestine/Gaza.

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Israel’s “right to defend itself”: repeat a lie often enough…

Israel's lies that it is defending itself

Israel has repeated the mantra that it has “the right to defend itself” so many times that it has all the mainstream media chanting it and half the world believing that it is, indeed, defending itself. The old propaganda trick – repeating a lie often enough – is working. Well, it’s time we called them out on this.

If you think it’s OK to say “Israel has a right to defend itself”, you have already been propagandised

I am sick of hearing about “Israel’s right to defend itself”. This seemingly innocent statement is, in fact, a cunning piece of propaganda which plays on the commonsense notion that everyone has a right to defend him- or herself. If you think along these lines upon hearing the phrase then you have already been propagandised.  Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. This is what Israel has done.

Unexamined assumption

The unexamined assumption (lie) is that Israel is indeed “defending itself”. Well, (a) it is not “defending itself”, it is committing mass murder, and (b) it certainly has no right to “defend itself”, when “itself” is a colonising apartheid entity that systematically brainwashes its citizens (who, by the way, can only be Jewish), and brutalises them as well as it brutalises those it labels “Arabs”. (Their passports are not marked “Israeli” but “Arab”.)

Israel, an occupier and besieger

This wee girl is witnessing the carnage in Gaza. The caption reads: 'On the festival of Eid al-Fitr, children were out playing in Gaza City and witnessed explosions and their aftermath.'

The caption on the BBC article in which this appears reads: ‘On the festival of Eid al-Fitr, children were out playing in Gaza City and witnessed explosions and their aftermath.’

To take the point about not defending itself a bit further, remember that Israel is an occupying power that has successively displaced Palestinians from their native land and has corralled nearly two million human beings into a tiny strip of land (139 sq miles), the Gaza Strip – effectively a concentration camp.  Those who venture too near the borders (such as the arbitrary limit for fishing boats at sea) are often summarily shot.  Basic services, such as sewage, drinking water and electricity, are severely restricted at the best of times, and absent during Israel’s mad attacks. If this were the experience of you and your family, how would you react?  Would you not be tempted at least to dig tunnels to the outside world? Would you not be tempted to fight back? (Contrast the restraint of the Palestinians to the obscene butchery inflicted on the people of Iraq by the US-UK military-industrial complex because their leader supposedly had weapons of mass destruction.) No, the people who do have “a right to defend themselves” are the Palestinians, not the occupiers/besiegers.  I am not supporting the firing of rockets, but you’d have to be particularly closed minded not to understand why a few feel driven to fire them! This is an asymmetric situation to say the least.

Please take action: every peaceful means

If Israel observed human rights and UN resolutions, and was not constantly encroaching on Palestinian land and indiscriminately killing innocents by the hundred, it would, of course, have a right to defend itself. Until that day comes, it would be wonderful if at least some of the time you hear people mindlessly repeat the sentence “Israel has a right to defend itself”, you challenge it.

We must use every peaceful means at our disposal to fight for human rights, such as through the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign and through calling out Zionist propaganda whenever we see it.

Further information and opinion

Here’s what Jon Snow witnessed:

Please watch this excellent short primer video on the Israel-Palestine conflict.  Also look at some of my earlier pieces on Israel/Palestine/Gaza which have various links in them, , read the statements of the Shministim conscientious objectors, visit Jewish Voice for Peace, and see Avigail Abarbanel’s examination of the Israeli psyche. Since she wrote this, I attended a talk by her, and it seemed to me that she is specifically likening Israel’s psychology to that of someone suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Fascinating and disturbing.

Finally, here is the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign website.

Shalom!

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Social injustice is killing on a grand scale

Listen to Kirsty Young interview Professor Sir Michael Marmot.

I am delighted that Profeesor Sir Michael Marmot, an expert on the links between socio-economic status and health and longevity, has been interviewed by Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs. Click on the picture to visit the episode’s webpage and listen to it.

Praise where praise is due.  I have previously criticised the BBC for its championing of GM and for offering a Pinochet-apologist a platform for his obnoxious views without challenging them. Now I must praise the BBC for hosting Professor Sir Michael Marmot on Desert Island Discs. Sir Michael is famous for exposing the links between inequality, morbidity and mortality, and for stating that ‘social injustice is killing on a grand scale’.

In his interview with Kirsty Young he talks about his famous study of Whitehall civil servants, which showed that their rank was inversely correlated with their health and wellbeing, and that this could not be attributed to their behaviour, and argues strongly for social justice to be a fundamental consideration in public policy.  On the basis of solid evidence, he argues that it is wrong to simply blame individuals for their life choices without tackling fundamental causes of inequality. He also addresses the issue of low social mobility: the ‘Great Gatsby curve’ – the greater the income inequality in a society, the lower the social mobility.

You can listen to the episode.

If you found this interesting you may also enjoy the following:

Work for many feels like rape/prostitution, but it needn’t be this way! Click on this image to watch David Erdal's inspiring talk on employee-ownership.

Work for many feels like rape/prostitution, but it needn’t be this way! Click on this image to watch David Erdal’s inspiring talk on employee-ownership.

See what David Erdal has to say about employee-owned companies, which have lower pay differentials and more-empowered employees (‘employee-owners’).

The Globalization of Addiction, A Study in Poverty of the Spirit

Click on the picture to read a review/summary of this amazing book.

Read what Professor Bruce K. Alexander says about the links between what he calls ‘hypercapitalism’ , ‘psycho-social dislocation’ and addiction.

Loads of information on the world's dominant economic system.

Tax breaks for “job-creators”? Toolkit for busting this and other neoliberal myths.

Learn more about the dominant global economic system (call it ‘neoliberalism’, ‘hypercapitalism’ or ‘free-market capitalism’). This may well shock you!

The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, with terrible consequences for individuals and society.

For a country of its GDP, Scotland is one of the most unhealthy in the world. As part of the grossly unequal UK, this is not surprising. How can we fix this? Click on the image for some ideas.

Read some of the reasons I think that Scotland should break free of the neoliberal UK and how we might make a fairer and healthier society.

And if you fancy a laugh…

The end of neoliberalism? The secret cloned leader of Better Together is not happy that the Lady Alba video has gone viral.

Watch my Downfall parody if you fancy a laugh. There are also plenty of links to sources of information below it.

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Unbelievably, yet more BBC pro-GM bias

Image

Botanist Sandy Knapp, clearly not an expert on GM, was led to support this highly dubious technology. This is the latest in a long line of non-evidence-based pro-GM propaganda by the BBC. Is Monsanto paying them? To hear it, click on this image and listen from about 23 minutes and 45 seconds.

[UPDATE: I have now received a response from the BBC dismissing my argument that the programme was biased but failing to answer my charge that Radio 4 programming as a whole is biased in favour of GM.  I have responded to this, asking for a response to this latter charge.]

I was greatly disturbed to hear yet another pro-GM propaganda piece by the BBC.  (See my previous blog entries about this.) Botanist Sandy Knapp, clearly no expert on GM, was led by interviewer Jim Al-Khalili to imply that anti-GM activists would be responsible for the destruction of the natural areas in which she gathers plants.

Listen to the interview from about 23 minutes 45 seconds and make up your own mind on this.  I hope you shall choose to complain, as I did, submitting the words below:

I was troubled to hear your presenter leading his interviewee (not a GM expert) in a pro-GM direction. He said something like, ‘If more GM crops are not produced I have heard that this will lead to the destruction of more of the wild areas in which you are working so that food crops can be grown. Is this true?’ Not at any point did he mention that opposition to GM crops is based on a broad array of arguments, not least the following:

1. Vast areas of rainforest have already been destroyed for the cultivation of GM soya.
2. As GM crops are patented, their seed cannot legally be harvested and re-sown (and some are not fertile anyway) . This is harmful to the food sovereignty and wealth of peasant farmers, who are forced to buy new seed every year,
3. GM crops displace multiple varieties of adapted indigenous crops, thus narrowing biodiversity and reducing the genetic base on which the breeding of future productive crops depends.
4. More than enough food is produced already – the issue is distribution and waste. The latter issues are due to profiteering by large corporations. How is putting more food production into their grasp going to improve this?
5. The most productive forms of agriculture, both absolutely but also and especially relative to the unsustainable input of fossil fuels, are small-scale integrated farms using organic and/or permaculture and analog-forestry techniques.
6. This adds to previous Radio 4 pro-GM bias. See http://biowrite.wordpress.com/?s=bbc+gm

Farmageddon - the true cost of cheap meat.

Farmageddon:
“This eye-opening book, urging a massive rethink of how we raise livestock and how we feed the world, deserves global recognition” – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
“A devastating indictment of cheap meat and factory farming. Don’t turn away: it demands reading and deserves the widest possible audience” – Joanna Lumley
“Offers the kind of realistic and compassionate solutions on which our prospects for a truly sustainable world depend” – Jonathon Porritt

I could also have mentioned the fact that huge amounts of food that could be consumed by people are fed to animals, because the relatively well-off eat far too much meat, but the BBC form only allowed me to write so much. On this topic, I intend reading Farmageddon soon.

Finally, in case you think I am an armchair critic, doing nothing practical in this area, I am proud to be a member of the board of  Leith Community Crops in Pots. We are doing our bit to produce food in a sustainable way. Here’s  our Facebook page.

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Economic inequality is caused by… Get the facts. Reject the propaganda.

If Pastor Martin Niemöller were alive today he would have had a thing or two to say to those who scapegoat the vulnerable for society's problems.

If Pastor Martin Niemöller were alive today he would have had a thing or two to say to those who scapegoat the vulnerable for society’s problems.

Economic inequality is caused by “free-market” (rigged-market) capitalism, not immigrants, asylum-seekers, “benefits-scroungers”, etc.

  • Get the facts. Reject the propaganda.

Here’s a handy compilation of resources. I hope you will find it entertaining and informative, if not jaw-droppingly shocking. My novel may also be of interest.

  • Find out what Pastor Niemöller said.

Here’s one version of his famous words:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

  • Think.

Learn to distinguish between statistically unrepresentative anecdotes (propaganda) and evidence. In particular, be suspicious of those who scapegoat relatively powerless minorities for societal problems. They are almost certainly in politics to accumulate wealth and/or power for themselves and their cronies, regardless of the consequences for society at large.

I cannot possibly advise everyone on the planet on which parties and political movements to support or reject. However, I permit myself to make these observations about two countries:

South Africa

As I write this, in April 2014, I am visiting South Africa, which is in the run-up to elections twenty years after the ANC (African National Congress) first came to power. I have been struck by how many people of all races seem to be accusing the ANC of kleptocracy/crony capitalism. Were I South African I am not sure which party I would support. However, the DA (Democratic Alliance) strikes me as just another “free market”-worshipping neoliberal party which will therefore not be able to address the gap between the haves and have-nots. (I put “free market” in quotation marks as it is no such thing. As Ha-Joon Chang and others have pointed out, the market is heavily stacked in favour of the super-rich.)

While Michael Tellinger, the founder of the Ubuntu Party, also known as the Ubuntu Liberation Movement, has some far-fetched ideas, it strikes me that there is a lot of sense in much of their policy. Check them out.

Scotland

I am Scottish-born and -resident. On 18 September 2014 the people of Scotland have a unique opportunity to vote for independence from the UK, which in my view is our only hope of breaking free of the environment-destroying, inequality-generating and warmongering death-grip of “free-market” capitalism (crony capitalism/neoliberalism/hypercapitalism…).

Alas, the UK’s mainstream media are owned by hugely wealthy individuals and corporations who fail to see that their long-term enlightened self-interest also lies in a fairer economy. In their desperation to hold onto their wealth and power, they ceaselessly churn out propaganda against Scottish independence.

If the mainstream media are your major source of information you will probably not know what the term “neoliberalism” means, and you will be unaware of the work that has been done by us independence-campaigners in planning a sustainable and fairer society (info and links elsewhere on this blog).

If our only concern were the wellbeing of the people of the rest of the UK…

The main point I want to make here is that Scottish independence is not about “separation” or xenophobia. For all I know, there may be some anti-English sentiment amongst supporters of independence, but I have never encountered it amongst the people I campaign alongside. Indeed, I know that I speak for many of us when I say that if our only concern were the wellbeing of the people of Northern Ireland, Wales and England, then we would still support Scottish independence, because we believe the only way we can help is by demonstrating a more humane and caring, less unequal society. Only in this way can we give the lie to the scare stories of the pathologically wealth-hoarding super-rich (who require psychotherapy and education – they know not what they are doing).

I am against hatred and division and so I am against “free-market” capitalism/neoliberalism. To conclude, I repeat: the only way we, the people of Scotland, stand a chance of breaking free of this divisive philosophy, and of being a good neighbour and example, is by voting to govern ourselves. If you believe in togetherness, the evidence suggests that you should vote ‘Yes’.

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