Huge Protest for Gaza in London

David Rosenberg posted the following comment on a different article, as a report of today’s demo:

Just got back from the demo in London which was massive – probably three times as big as last week, or more, which on my estimate of last week (25,000) means probably more than 80,000 on a freezing cold day – snowing at one point!

Protest at gates of Israeli embassy

The positives were it was again very mixed in terms of ages and ethnicities, more trade union banners this week – and very militant. There was a vibrant atmosphere. Lots of Jewish anti-war protesters among the crowd, which was acknowledged from the platform, which also included Jewish speakers.

Very important that it was a massive turnout as tomorrow the Board of Deputies are organising a big pro-Israel rally to which they will be bussing people in for from far and wide.

Hope the organisers are sensible enough not to hold a another march next week but give themselves a breathing space to build for an even bigger one in maybe two/three weeks time. You can’t turn out huge numbers week after week.

Some of the negatives that need to be addressed:
* The stewarding was very poor. The failure to move people on past the Israeli embassy as darkness was falling and the riot police were tooling up made a confrontation almost inevitable and will give the media an excuse to skew the reports around the violence rather than the numbers, strength and demands of the demo.

* Although the vast majority of placards were clearly in line with the demands of the demonstration (end the siege, stop the killing) there were more than a sprinkling of placards this week with Nazi analogies etc that were more than borderline antisemitic and will be used by opponents to discredit the protest. Again the organisers/stewards need to think about how to deal with this.

* The SWP colonised a large section of Speakers corner where the march was gathering and were bellowing puerile slogans through their megaphones at the demonstrators as they arrived, appealing to them to “destroy Israel” (and presumably among them the Israeli anti-war movement) and calling on Zionists to “Go back to New York”. Not sure which aspect of socialist theory they think that comes from. But if they think the problem is Israeli/Jewish people rather than the oppressive Zionist state then they really have a lot of learning to do.”

See also the BBC, who say: “The Metropolitan Police says 20,000 people marched but the BBC estimates the figure could be as high as 50,000. ”

Picture at the top of the article by Ellis Sharp.

238 comments on “Huge Protest for Gaza in London

  1. On the issue fo stewarding – I think this is unjustly hard to blame the march organisers, whi have done a fantastic job in putting this together in a very short period of time, with very limited resources – well done to Stop the War.

    I wasn’t there, but I know it is a big task to move on a determined group of protesters who have their own agenda, and don’t want to be moved on. What could the stewards have done?

    The responsibility for the violence must be lain foursquare with the Metroploitan Police.

  2. David Ellis on said:

    I can’t agree with David Rosenberg’s contention that stewards should tear down placards that make an analogy of what is happening to Gaza to the holocaust. These people, far from being sectarian, are keeping the memory of the holocaust alive as an event that should never be forgotten and never be repeated. The zionists on the other hand use it as an excuse for their vile war crimes.

  3. Well david Ellis

    If a sophisticated anti-Zionist Jewish socialist like David Rosenberg thinks these placcards are problematic, then i think you should think hard about what political message they send.

  4. I think that the stewarding was in trouble well before the march reached the Israeli embassy. I was near the front and shortly after leaving Speakers Corner there were hundreds of demonstrators well in front of the stewards. One of the stewards said that they just did not have enough of them to control such a large demonstration.

    I was not surprised that the march virtually came to a standstill outside the embassy though, considering the pictures that we have been seeing from Gaza this week. I think that lots of us would like to have demolished the building brick by brick.

    Still, it was a very impressive mobilisation today in my opinion.

  5. David Rosenberg on said:

    David E – I’ve just replied on the other thread re holocaust analogies – and would be interested in your further comments because this is a complicated but important issue.

    Andy – I was pretty shocked by what I heard coming out of the SWP’s megaphones. They were by the entrance to Speakers Corner. I was standing in the middle of Speakers corner about 30 yards away when I heard it very clearly – and peoplel around me were pretty shocked too.

    Steph – I’m not letting the police off the hook – they were clearly up for a confrontation but I remember much more effective stewarding on the Lebanon demos in 2006.

  6. “I wasn’t there,”

    I was not able to make the protest either so best not to make statements about anything you saw or not seen above what was on the news.

    The BBC reporter in Kensington High Street was clearly taken back on how big the demo was and talked about the Police were cutting the demo in half and blocking peoples escape at the back – he also said at one point that 100,000 were on the demo today.

    Well done everyone today

  7. 6, I find this difficult to understand- I was at speakers corner, near the SWP, for a long time and didn’t hear anything like this.
    The reason it seems odd is because it is so unSWPish a slogan. I’ve never heard SWPers using cryptic slogans a la Spartacist League- if anything their slogans are deeply uninventive and unoriginal.

    On the issue of holocaust analogies- there were some and it is a problem but it should not be taken out of proportion. Certainly you can distinguish between making an analogy between two horrors (lets say Warsaw ghetto and Gaza) and making an anti-semitic point.

    The danger, of course, is that such a comparison is either belittling the former or exagerating the latter- right or wrong it is quite understandable that such a worldview exists in the minds of young, militant activists who see their own people blown to bits in the here and now.

  8. Thanks for that report David

    It was a vibrant and positive demo overall with a lot of feeling for unity. For instance I heard I think 3 of the speakers from the Muslim community make specifically positive references to jewish presence on the march and in opposition to the assault on Gaza – in all cases receiving a very loud cheer from the crowd.

    also interesting at a political level was the way this combined with attacks on the leadership of arab countries that have been quiescent. there appears to be a political development towards an understanding that this is a struggle of the oppressed against oppressor cutting across national, race or religious difference – something several speakers at the end referred to.

    The massive size and these factors point toward a revitalisation of the anti-war movement and a renewed radicalisation of the muslim communities, far from a retrenchement to so-called “communalism”.

    On the subject of the SWP – none of the above quite tunes in with the tenor of it’s current pre-conference discussion as reported in postings on this blog.

  9. I have just clicked on the link that David provided and seen that it is a Socialist Worker placard that he is referring to. I am actually very surprised that they have produced something like this. Although I am not averse to “having a pop” at the SWP from time to time (I am still recovering from what happened to the Socialist Alliance!, their coverage of Israel/Palestine has generally been excellent over the years. I do not like that placard and I would not carry it on ademonstration, although I do believe that there is a certain degree of overlap between Nazi and Zionist ideology, in the sense that you might say that they both espouse a very aggressive nationalism.

  10. That isn’t an SWP placard, it’s clearly a home made one that has been stapled to an SWP plcard. I was near the SWP stall for a long time, as it took so long to get onto the demo, and they weren’t saying anything of the sort. People should stop making stuff up.

  11. Paul Hunt on said:

    although i don’t agree with the swp’s position on israel / palestine which i believe to be wrong, it should be said that the photo, if you look carefully, has a poster stapled on to a SW placard, so in effect if is not an swp placard / slogan.
    though some of the stuff they say verbally is of course anti marxist

    great demo today everyone, quite cold though 🙂

  12. A placard designer writes on said:

    Pete, take a close look at the placard – someone has stuck their own poster over the top of the SWP design.

  13. Stockwell Pete- someone’s nabbed a Socialist Worker placard and stapled their own poster over the top. The website URL is still visible at the bottom, that’s all.

  14. In relation to the previous comment, it is clearly an SWP placard that someone has covered over with their own card.

    As for the stewarding, this was an absolutely massive demo, I don’t think anyone had anticipated anything of sucha size. The Police were, as ever, cruising for bruising from what I could see.

  15. Lots of people stopped outside the gates of the Israeli embassy would have had no idea of the dreadful jam of people they were causing behind them, because they have no experience of crowds of this size. In my opinion the stewards did the best they could in the circumstances to try to get people to move along past the gates, asking again & again – indefatigably you might say – for people to move along past. But there were large numbers of young people – almost all non-violent, in good spirits, but all understandably really angry with the British establishment – who were never likely to listen to StW stewards in hi-vi jackets, taking them to be representatives of the authorities. What were StW stewards meant to do, bark orders like coppers, or wade in with batons?

    I wasn’t a witness to the Speakers Corner slogans but I don’t believe this sloganising was from the SWP. Some angry young gun who had grabbed a go on the mic, far more likely.
    So I disagree with our sophisticated reporter David Rosenberg, the organisers did a highly commendable job, but they can’t be expected to completely control the behaviour or viewpoints of the vast numbers who showed up – certainly comparable numbers to a walk down Wembley Way, so that’s 80,000 or so.

  16. Stockwell Pete (#10) said: I have just clicked on the link that David provided and seen that it is a Socialist Worker placard that he is referring to. I am actually very surprised that they have produced something like this.

    Except, for all their faults, they evidently didn’t produce anything of the kind. Look at the link again. It’s very clear that someone has pasted their own paper poster onto a Socialist Worker placard. Let’s not start an urban myth.

  17. Was on the demo today, absolutely fantastic turn out and a national wind change in mass support for Palestine, all sections and classes of society were represented. I think the stewards did a fantastic job on a route that I imagine has never been used for a mass demonstration before. I certainly dont agree with your comments David, thought both the SWP and the Socialist Party both played a blinder today with lots of stalls etc.

  18. The log Jam caused by people stopping outside the embassy, despite repeated requests from people on stage at the first rally not to do so, was bloody annoying for everyone further behind in the march. The street came to a complete standstill for at least 15 mins when I was there and I had to do a detour round the back streets to get back into the march. There was a real danger of a crush as more and more people marched towards the bottle neck. I don’t understand what the aim of those having a stand off with the cops at the embassy was – were they going to disrupt the war machine in Gaza by lobbing balsa wood? Perhaps they were intending to storm the embassy gates as if there is a giant ‘off switch’ behind the walls which will cut power to the fighter planes?

    I pretty much completely agree with David Rosenberg’s observations. I saw only one or two home made banners/placards with Nazi analogies or a defaced Star of David on the entire march (‘Zionazi state’ anyone). I agree that these are just objectionable and unacceptable. They are deliberately provocative and there’s a ‘dog-whistle’ thing going on there isn’t there. I also saw one man with a home made puppet of a monster (looking suspiciously like a racist caricature of a Jew) eating children which seemed to me to deliberately draw on a standard anti-semitic trope/image. However, in a march as big as this it was good that there were only a small handful (although there shouldn’t have been any).

  19. The stewarding was insufficent for the sheer size of the demo (which I think was much, much bigger than the figure David gives). Most of the stewards were the other side of the embassy when the police split the march, and there’s not much you can do about that. The stewards I saw in Kensington High Street were doing a good job, but as Strategist points out at #17, if people want to have a go at the police, there’s only so much you can do.

    I don’t like Holocaust analogies either (though I think the Warsaw Ghetto analogy is become daily more apposite), but I understand why some people use them. Where is the line drawn though? 9/11 Truthers? The Spart placard defending North Korea’s right to nukes that I saw today?

    I do think people are taking on the (limited and sporadic) cases of anti-semitism. piers’ comments at #9 chime with the report on Lenin’s Tomb http://leninology.blogspot.com/2009/01/up-to-200000-protest-israeli-aggression.html . And a comrade I met from Birmingham was forthright in his praise of Salma Yaqoob for defending John Rose against some anti-semitic heckling at a Birmingham rally.

    As for the supposed SWP slogans, I again doubt that this was us. One of the features of the demo was the sheer numbers of cheap megaphones that loads of young people had – i suspect that’s what David heard

    But what David really misses (though a lot of the commenters get) is that this wasn’t just another demo. This had an energy and an anger that I’ve not felt since the early StW demos, and it was one of the youngest demos I’ve been on for a very long time. What we do next depends in large part on how the war in Gaza pans out – if the IDF go into Gaza City or other built-up areas, as tonight’s news suggests they might, then I fully expect to be back at the Israeli embassy next week.

  20. David Rosenberg on said:

    Thanks for your comment Ed. There were also a couple of placards not far from where I was marching where photos of Arab leaders were drawn over to make them look like hassidic Jews – hardly a useful critique of Zionism.

    I think there was an unintentional misunderstading above – Andy copied my comments form the other thread about holocaust analogies and made a link to a photo illustrating the type of thing I was referring to, which as Babeuf rightly points out, someone has pasted on to an SWP placard. there were a number of placards of these types but not made by the SWP.

    So my points about placards were not aimed at the SWP. My point about what was clearly spoken (shouted) through a megaphone at Speakers Corner was and I’m afraid was not made up.

  21. The march today was amazing, militant, and determined, particularly with the freezing weather – can’t remember a colder demonstration. David Rosenburg’s 80,000 is very conservative and the slogan claims are made up aren’t they? The whole post has a feel of damning the day with faint praise, I fail to see why it was posted why it was posted.

  22. Is this true????

    Andy: since there seems to be an impulse to hastily ascribe certain positions to the SWP, let me just point one thing out. Even if one SWP member did say something like that ascribed to him/her by David Rosenberg, that would by no means entail that the SWP actually supports such a slogan. We obviously do not: so obviously that you had to hammer the question mark on your keyboard four times in disbelief at the thought of it. It is so unbelievable that an SWP member would say such a thing that I have a hard time crediting it myself. I am not accusing David Rosenberg of lying, because I have no idea who he is or why he would lie. His claims sounds a bit gossipy, though, and his post does evince a hostility to the SWP that would incline him to ‘hear’ things, or at least misinterpret what he is hearing.

    Also, while the SWP certainly avoids such comparisons as a rule and is not responsible for the poster displayed, it is not necessarily “borderline antisemitic” to compare Israel’s conduct to that of the Nazis. It may be wrong, or lacking proportion. And it may actually be antisemitic in a certain context. It depends on how it is done. I think there are reasons why people want to compare Israel’s conduct to that of the Nazis that don’t originate in antisemitism – if anything, they originate in its polar opposite. For example, when exposed to the situation in which Gazan children are blockaded in and left to die at their parents side, from starvation and distress, in a situation totally under the control of the Israeli army which has blocked all humanitarian and medical aid, I cannot help but see something Nazi-like in this level of sadism and calculated cruelty.

  23. Ive never felt comfortable with the Nazi analogies, I don’t think they really work with the wider public though I don’t think they are neccessarily anti-semitic.

    Look at this from the ISM for example http://palsolidarity.org/

    I don’t like the islamic religious touches either, but I guess its up to us to build a socialist movement muslim workers can join instead. We can’t really criticise the march organisers for the existing level of consciousness and ideology that some of these people turn up with.

  24. In reference to the placard David R refers to above there was a (mass-produced) placard with a picture of Mubarak, a Saudi royal and another Arabic leader I couldn’t identify with the slogan ‘Sell Out’ on it (fair enough) but it also had a big Star of David symbol on it – and using this symbol of Judaism is, at best, highly thoughtless and irresponsible and, at worst, anti-semitic. I don’t know if it is the one David means. I saw several of these come to think of it. They weren’t produced by any socialist group.

    Numbers on the march: it’s really difficult to estimate numbers, but when I heard the police estimate I laughed. I stopped to watch the march go by and take pictures for at least 15 mins on the high street. It was moving at quite a pace, the crowd was pretty densely packed and there were no big gaps. I couldn’t see the start of the march when I stopped and I couldn’t see the end of the march when I rejoined it.

  25. #20 “The log Jam caused by people stopping outside the embassy, despite repeated requests from people on stage at the first rally not to do so, was bloody annoying for everyone further behind in the march.”

    I totally agree that it was infuriating to be in the logjam, but the fact is that the crowd at Speakers Corner was so large, that despite a massive & effective sound system probably more than half the people there would have had no vision or audibility of what was happening on the stage.

    “I don’t understand what the aim of those having a stand off with the cops at the embassy was – were they going to disrupt the war machine in Gaza by lobbing balsa wood?”

    Obviously the actions taken by youngsters at the embassy gates could be argued to be pointless. But they argued back what was the point in coming out on a demo and then dutifully dispersing back home again to the suburbs. I know this, because I had the discussion. The point is that this demo had reached out far beyond the political sophisticates and “every march” veterans.

    The problem is that if you argue back to newbies that you should go home peacefully and channel your energies into a political movement like Respect there is the severe danger that when they find out about the 2007 split debacle they will be rightly furious at you.

  26. Shocking stuff from “Lenin” displaying the SWP’s laissez-faire attitude to confronting anti-semitism. Put it this way, what is the person who is making (stupid) comparisons between Israel’s (deplorable) action and the Holocaust trying to achieve? And why aren’t these parallels drawn with the US action in Iraq, which has killed far more innocent people?

  27. I was standing near the entrance of Speaker’s Corner for quite some time looking for someone and I didn’t hear any of the sort of chants that David did; I would guess they were isolated and probably not connected with the SWP.

  28. #25 “since there seems to be an impulse to hastily ascribe certain positions to the SWP, let me just point one thing out. Even if one SWP member did say something like that ascribed to him/her by David Rosenberg, that would by no means entail that the SWP actually supports such a slogan.”

    Yes, quite. I have actually heard all sorts of daft things being shouted by various groups of comrades over the years. You have to allow that some comrades may have only just joined an organisation and haven’t had time to sort all their politics out. It’s taken me over thirty years and I am still trying to sort myself out. Ha-ha!! And I do remember standing in Cardiff in the late 1970s selling papers with a new-ish comrade and he said something like “Get your Socialist Worker, we only sell it to the pretty girls!” to a woman who was walking by. Words were subsequently had, I should say. And that is most definitely a true story!

  29. Ed, the star of David.Just hang on a mo. The star of David was a religious sign. Then a nation state came along and adopted that religious sign as part of its flag. A fully fledged, highly conscious awareness can see the distinction and might even deplore the fact that the nation state chose to adopt a religious sign. But are you seriously saying that you think that people using the star of David as a way of marking eg Mubarak as collaborator is antisemitic? whoever designed the poster is using the sign that the nation state uses. What other ‘grapheme’ has that designer got in order to do a shorthand for the state of Israel?

  30. I’ve been on both the past two saturdays large demo’s and have been outside the Israeli embassy protests most nights and I havn’t see any anti-semitism from anybody, think there’s people posting who have an axe to grind and are getting upset and nit picking about nothing, and totally missing the point and more importantly missing the zeitgeist of the situation. I think there is a very valid analogy between a country that was born out of one of the biggest crimes against humanity using the tools of oppression they have suffered from against the Palestinians.

  31. One wonders what a socialist such as David Rosenberg made of the repetitive chants of “takbeer” and “Allahu Akba”?

    Maybe he, and others who attended can enlighten me on their views.

  32. #29 PaulM “what is the person who is making (stupid) comparisons between Israel’s (deplorable) action and the Holocaust trying to achieve?”

    I don’t believe you can make comparisons between Gaza and the holocaust, but you most certainly can make comparisons between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto, and between the war crimes incidents being perpetrated by the IDF right now and those of the SS back in World War 2.

    I used to think there was a very strong analogy between Israel and apartheid South Africa. Just to engage an Israeli or Zionist apologist in debate was very reminiscent of talking to a white South African. But the fact is that the Israelis have now gone way beyond the any of the war crimes committed by the South African National Party, and the analogies left are with the Warsaw Ghetto, Stalin’s crimes and so on.

    “why aren’t these parallels drawn with the US action in Iraq, which has killed far more innocent people”

    However, I agree with this. The US Marine Corps has committed crimes in Iraq very much comparable to the things the SS did to Warsaw. And comparable to stuff the Russians did to Grozny just recently.

  33. Hi Michael

    They could easily have put the complete Israeli flag on the placard instead of the Star of David symbol on its own. The producers must be aware what this symbol stands for – that it represents Judaism as a whole and not a particular state. Sure, it’s on the Israeli flag – and of course it’s the Israeli state that illegitimately co-opted a religious/cultural symbol and the presence of this symbol on the flag serves a useful ideological policing function. Of course I have absolutely no idea what the intentions of the producers of the placard were – I have no grounds to infer possible anti-semitism, you’re right. However, the placard rang alarm bells for me and I can’t have been alone in that. I think it was thoughtless and unwise.

    Is the poem you read out today published anywhere online btw? Very powerful.

  34. This machine kills fascists on said:

    Destroy Israel?

    Go back to New York?

    just what I’d expect from the spoilt brats that end up in the SWP etc

    and stop making excuses for the swastikas. We all know what it means really, don’t we?

  35. #36 That’s actually a great letter, and all credit to its authors. Thanks for drawing our attention to it, Magnus.

    Magnus, you’re too stupid and ignorant to realise this, but before the Warsaw Ghetto was exterminated (the “final solution”), it was a fucking horrible jail. That’s the analogy with Gaza.

  36. #37 Oh God the trolls are arriving.

    By the way, looking at the Guardian letters link of #36 by Magnus, there is a very duplicitous letter from New Labour Minister Bill Rammell, the British government having supplied all the weaponry and diplomatic cover at the UN the Israelis could ever have asked or paid for.

  37. Strategist comments:

    “you most certainly can make comparisons between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto.”

    The facts of the Warsaw Ghetto

    “The agony of the Jews of Warsaw began early in the war. By November 1940 all Jews were forced into the tightly sealed and com- pacted ghetto. Masses of Jews driven into Warsaw from outlying towns and villages and other refugees swelled the population to over a half million people. It is estimated that about 85,000 persons (more than one out of six) died between September 1939 and July 1942, excluding the unrecorded deaths of refugees and beggars on the streets.20 Starvation and disease were rampant. Given the circum- stances in which they lived, it is likely that if the Germans had not killed the Jews, they would have been dead anyway within five or six years.”

    Barbara Stern Burstin, “The Warsaw Ghetto: A Shattered Window on the Holocaust,” The History Teacher, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Aug., 1980). p.536

  38. #40 Thanks for that. About 1.5m Palestinians are in the tightly sealed and compacted Gaza ghetto, and they’ve endured this for a long time. I’d be interested to get stats on the death rate above normal of Gaza, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the excess deaths due to conditions in Gaza, not excluding violent deaths at the hands of the Israeli Armed Forces, runs into the tens of thousands.

    But let’s be clear – excess deaths in Iraq since 2003 are around a million, so the Israelis aren’t the only butchers on the loose in the Arab world.

  39. More on the Warsaw Ghetto which should highlight why a comparison is not valid:

    “it is estimated that 380,000 Jews were forced into an area under a square mile in Warsaw and 220,000 into around a square mile in Lodz. Both places were plagued by starvation, disease, and Nazi violence. The mortality rate, similar in the two ghettos, reflects the seriousness of this problem. In 1940 about 3% of ghetto residents died from hunger and sickness, by 1941 this rate increased to almost 10%, and by 1942 to 15%. Both ghettos experienced an increase in population when the Nazis shipped in Jews from elsewhere. Then decreases occurred when they deported the sick, the elderly, the children, and then large groups of healthy men and women in the aktions, or mass deportations, of 1942, during which 80-90% of the populations were sent to concentration camps.”

    Larissa Z. Tiedens, “Optimism and Revolt of the Oppressed: A Comparison of Two Polish Jewish Ghettos of World War II,” Political Psychology, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), p. 46

  40. David Ellis on said:

    Good points Mickey, that description of the Warsaw Ghetto sounds more like Gaza everyday and brings out the correctness of the comparison and of course the Palestinians have been suffering for 60 years. This ground attack is designed to make the siege more effective and speed up the process of starvation and submission.

    By the way, Michael’s poem is brilliant and deserved to be blogged here. And what a great demo today. Huge and militant.

  41. David Ellis on said:

    43. We cross blogged there Mickey. I thought you were upholding the comparison in #40 but obviously not you’re just saying Gaza is not as bad as Warsaw was. I suppose we should be greateful for small mercies. Let us know when you think the comparison is valid.

  42. #43 Well on this info, Gaza sounds like the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940. There is hunger, disease and IDF violence knowingly aimed at civilians. Where’s it going in the next 3-4 years? It’s in Israel’s hands.

    Gaza is not the Warsaw Ghetto. But it is far worse than anything the South Africans did in the rightly reviled apartheid state. Don’t take my word for it, take Desmond Tutu’s. So suggest us a better analogy, and let’s discuss it.

  43. #46 Ain’t it odd that if you have sorrow and empathy for the human suffering of both the Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza then you are sick, but if you only have sorrow for the human suffering of Warsaw then you are not sick.

    Actually I am sick, debating a troll makes me want to puke.

  44. frenetic on said:

    Its good that there was a large turnout, notwithstanding some of the banners, etc, Hamas, even one for the Baathists! but we are also about to see the biggest recession for maybe sixty years. When are we going to see protests, etc, against poverty, the welfare cuts, the job cutss. in the 30’s, the left marched for Spain, etc but still managed to fight against unemployemnt.

    whats different now?

  45. Rosa Lux on said:

    “But let’s be clear – excess deaths in Iraq since 2003 are around a million, so the Israelis aren’t the only butchers on the loose in the Arab world.”

    I guess this makes the UK & US the new third Reich and Iraq…what Rotterdam 1940, Guernica, Auschwitz?

    Yes, I’ll settle for that.

    If the Israeli regime is analagous to Nazism and Gaza is the Warsaw Gehtto, then surely the UK & US are the pinnacle of global fascism and nazism and Iraq is Auschwitz?

    Now we must boycott ourselves and hold daily violent marches on Downing Street…right?

  46. frenetic on said:

    I do think people are taking on the (limited and sporadic) cases of anti-semitism. piers’ comments at #9 chime with the report on Lenin’s Tomb http://leninology.blogspot.com/2009/01/up-to-200000-protest-israeli-aggression.html . And a comrade I met from Birmingham was forthright in his praise of Salma Yaqoob for defending John Rose against some anti-semitic heckling at a Birmingham rally.

    Maybe so, but if that had been the BNP heckling a Muslim, there would have been blood on the floor, it is not acceptable and too many people are making all sorts of allowances for it.

  47. “Maybe so, but if that had been the BNP heckling a Muslim, there would have been blood on the floor, it is not acceptable and too many people are making all sorts of allowances for it.”

    Hold on a minute. There’s a huge demo in support of Gaza and you’re focusing on a few anti-semites that may or may not have been on the march.
    Perhaps you aren’t aware that the BNP support Israel and were on the pro-Israeli demo. Don’t you think Zionists courting Nazi’s is more of a worry?

  48. Perhaps if the Israelis hadn’t issued medals in 1980 to members of The Stern Gang who supported the Italian fascists and wanted to deal with the Nazi’s then these unfortunate associations wouldn’t arise intermittently.

    While I don’t believe they are helpful, I assume that associations between the behaviour of the Zionists and the Nazi’s arise out of anger at the Zionists use of the Holocaust to legitimise their murderous agenda in the Middle East.

    The Zionists are the ones who trivialise the Holocaust by cynically using it for their own agenda. Is it any wonder then that some anti-Zionists refer to that period of history to point out their hypocrisy.

  49. Rosa Lux on said:

    RAY:

    “Perhaps if the Israelis hadn’t issued medals in 1980 to members of The Stern Gang who supported the Italian fascists and wanted to deal with the Nazi’s then these unfortunate associations wouldn’t arise intermittently.“

    Do you know how many people were actually in the Stern Gang? You reference the Stern Gang but not Socialist Zionism? Do you know that many fought with distinction against the Nazis? Have you heard of the ALTALENA? Over 30 years of Socialist Rule in Israel?

    Do you actually believe the nonsense you spout that they `supported`the Italian fascists or `wanted to deal`with the Nazis? Should I bring up the pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem? After all he was the leader of the Palestinian people…..THESE ARGUMENTS ARE ALL UTTER TOSH. Whatever happened to intellectual Socialists – have they been cleansed in a new Cultural Revolution?

    Perhaps the SWP should be discredited now that we know about the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact as well? Or how about the Killing Fields? Or Tianenmen Square?

    Do you honestly believe in such facile, spurious and ultimately false historiography?

    “While I don’t believe they are helpful, I assume that associations between the behaviour of the Zionists and the Nazi’s arise out of anger at the Zionists use of the Holocaust to legitimise their murderous agenda in the Middle East.“

    Perhaps you should stop assuming and start acting. The current war is not being legitimised due to the Holocaust but due to a very real conflict between two very real enemies.

    “The Zionists are the ones who trivialise the Holocaust by cynically using it for their own agenda. Is it any wonder then that some anti-Zionists refer to that period of history to point out their hypocrisy.“

    “The Zionists“? Is Zionism some all encompassing movement? The Holocaust is no casus belli here. Anti-Zionists cannot be using it to point out hypocrisy as there is of course no Holocaust being committed – not even close. The Holocaust is being `referred` to to taunt and insult Zionists and with it Jews as well, whatever they think about Israel.

    Regardless, it`s all just a laugh for people isn`t it? Jews, Zionists all friends with the Nazis – their `heirs` – will they ever learn?

  50. Chorister on said:

    Anyone seen the letter in the Observer today from the rabbis? Would they be comfortable
    taking part in a demo full of placards equating Israelis with Nazis? And if they’re not welcome because they’re Zionists how is it possible to build any solidarity with the mainstream anti war Jewish community which according to this letter actually exists?

  51. Jock McTrousers on said:

    That such trivial mere hints of antisemitism gets so much attention here indicates yet again that this site is a focus for covert zionists, out to sow division and doubt. ” Over 30 years of socialist rule in Israel…” PUKE.

  52. David Rosenberg on said:

    I wrote my thoughs on the use of Holocaust analogies on the other thread under livingstone’s message – but it would seem to be more appropriate to the debate going on on this thread. what i said there was:

    “I’m not terribly keen on the use of analogy as a political mobiliser since it detracts from the significance of what is happening in its own terms. In Gaza Israeli bombardment has killed more than 800 Palestinians in two weeks – mostly civilians and including many children. And this after Palestinains lives in Gaza have been immiserated through the blockade for two years. Is that not a clear enough situation to respond to?

    If we reach for the most terrifying analogy now, what language does that give us to mobilise from to describe if and when things get worse (as they are likely to do)?

    What Israel is getting away with, with American and British support, is terrible but to say it is the same as the mass industrial slaughter of million in death camps is not credible.

    Of course history is not always being reinvented and there are similarities between situations but if an analogy is to help us understand a situation then it is best if they are fairly accuarate. if you want to pull an analogy from Jewish history, then what Jews suffered under the Tsars in the Russian Empire in the late 19th century is probably much closer to what the Palestinans are suffering than the Holocaust.

    In tsarist Russia, jews were confined to a particularly area by law, forbidden to move from town to town , had a series of discriminatory laws restricting their ability to meet their daily needs, were denied access to proper educational facilities and all kinds of employment opportunities etc and were subject to random mob attacks and persecution by the authorities.

    Under nazism all Jews were cast as ‘untermenschen” and destined to become victims. The Holocaust analogies go along with texts proclaiming that the victims have become perpetrators. Certainly all Palestinians are seen as enemies in Israel, but are all Israelis and Jews the perpetrators? And is that our basis of a political programme for rectifying the situation? Or is it a case that the Israeli military-political leadership are the perpetrators (with American and British military support) while many other Israelis would like to live in peace with the Palestinians and some actively pursue that by protesting against the war?

    is Gaza a ghetto? – probably yes. Is it on a par with the situation that pertained in the Warsaw Ghetto where people are rounded up regularly for transportation to death camps, or the Lodz ghetto completely sealed off from the world for four years with no possiblity of resistance ? No.

    Many holocaust survivors went on to become staunch defenders of human rights everywhere including those of the Palestinians. These victims certainly didn’t become perpetrators.

    When I see the ancient Jewish symbol of the Star of David = a swastika I see a horrendous accusation labelled at all Jews, not just an attack on Zionists, and I see a political programme emerging from it that will be diverted to the wrong targets and open itself justifiably to accusations of antisemitism.

    That divides Palestinians off from potential Jewish allies in the diaspora and in Israel and cannot be in the interests of the Palestinians.”

  53. John Wight on said:

    I disagree with the central thrust of David Rosenberg’s piece that analogies and comparisons between Israel’s treatement of the Palestinians and the Holocaust should be off limits.

    Not at all, if we ascribe to the admonition of Bertolt Brecht, who wrote apropos of the Nazi genocide that: ‘the womb from which this monster emerged is still fertile.’

    To think that such horrors could never take place again is a grievous mistake. Even more of a mistake is to believe that we must wait until it does take place again before intervening to stop it. The horrors of the Holocaust were not the starting point of the Nazi’s persecution of the Jews. On the contrary the Holocaust was the endgame, the culmination of a process which ran over the preceding decade, involving state sponsored demonisation of the Jewish people and their culture; attacks on their places of worship; apartheid; restriction of movement, employment, and property rights; followed by ethnic cleansing, ghettoisation, starvation; and finally the death camps.

    The parallels with Israel’s treatement of the Palestinian people, at an earlier stage in this process, are relevant. Almost as important is the root cause – exceptionalism.

    Antisemitism is a weapon in the hands of the Zionist state, used to great effect over the years in order to provide impetus to the barbarism inflicted on the Palestinians, at the same time as justification for Israel’s continued violations and flouting not only of international law, but all norms of human decency. It is folly, and also a great disservice to the cause of univeral human rights, to allow this calumny to silence people who, if it were any other state involved in committing such crimes against humanity, would otherwise exert themselves.

    On the march in Edinburgh yesterday, I spoke to people from Scottish Jews For Justice. They said that in light of the brutality of Israel’s assault on Gaza they’d initiated talks within their organisation on support for a boycott. Marching alongside me was a young Arab carrying a Hezbollah flag. He and the woman from Scottish Jews For Justice had no problem interacting. The key to this was that Scottish Jews For Justice do not recognise Israel as being representative of the interests of the Jewish people.

    As for David’s assertion about survivors of the Nazis going on to champion Palestinian human rights, this is no surprise. After all, victims of crimes against humanity share a bond of suffering which transcends divisions of race, religion, or ethnicity. It is the difference between universalism and barbarism.

    As for the SWP, my experience of their politics jars with David’s description of their members using the slogans he asserts they were using at yesterday’s demo. If they were they were wrong to do so, but on this issue over the last couple of weeks they’ve been part of a mass mobilisation and their commitment has been impressive.

  54. Proportionality on said:

    A couple of points:

    1) This was a huge demonstration and, together with the previous mobilisations across Britain, points to a dramatic turning point in the movement. That should frame all other points.

    2) There were lots of new stewards. This reflects both the decline of old structures and the entry of new people into the movement.

    3) It is utterly misplaced to blame the stewarding for the confrontations at the embassy or the fact that people careered through all sorts of side streets off the official route. The first is the direct responsibility of the authorities who were warned by the organisers that refusing to allow the use of Kensington Gardens for the rally would leave lots of people jammed together on two roads near the embassy. Failure to place the blame where it lies lets British ministers who endorsed the ban on the rally venue off the hook. It is also unjust and damaging to the unity of the movmement. The second problem of general crowd control is happlily a result of an enormous turnout. It was also not a problem. There were no windows smashed down Kensington Church Street or anything of the kind. The relatively minor incidents were restricted to right near the embassy and, frankly, I don’ think most people are perturbed by them.

    4)The number of inappropriate placards was tiny – pretty miniscule. Just as the number of inappropriate sexist placards punning on the name of the outgoing US president was tiny on the demonstrations leading up to the Iraq war. It is, in fact, a cause for great optimism that many people took the trouble to make their own statements by writing placards and banners, which were in their immense majority moving, politically strong and much more creative than the boilerplate efforts of many tired organisations. The “heckling” against John Rose at the Birmingham meeting referred to was from ONE young person. It was firmly dealt with. I find the emphasis being given on a tiny number of instances of reactive anti-semitism wholly disproportionate and a gift to those who would like to destroy the movement. I’m taken by just how more sophisticated the average level of understanding of zionism appears to be in the movement now than five years ago. If we can develop this upsurge and engage with the people coming in clarity can become near all encompassing.

    4) The SWP has never produced an anti-semitic placard and those blaming it for what someone else sticks on to one of the thousands they produce are being very silly or far worse. On the slogans: the SWP was not promoting anti-semitic slogans. What I did see and hear was one well known SWP member from North London on a megaphone. Over the years I’ve unfortunately seen this guy, who seems pleasant enough, doing similar turns where he seems to be trying to be ultra-revolutionary. It often happens when there’s a militant demonstration and the SWP is trying to pitch as the hardest and most left wing edge. It can lead to very childish sloganeering from this guy. On this occasion I heard him saying, “One solution revolution. Destroy Israel, destroy capitalism.” I didn’t hear a “back to New York” comment, but it’s plausible that he might have made it. Let’s get it in proportion. It was one guy (unless others have clear evidence to the contrary). His comrades should have taken the megaphone from him and told him to calm down – something I’ve witnessed before. It says something about the state of the SWP that no one did that. But it would be very unfair to tarnish the party as a whole for the idiocy of someone who’s been around long enough to know better.

    5) Please do not lose sight of point 1.

  55. Re Gaza = Warsaw Ghetto articulated on this thread
    Excuse me? I don’t wish to be overly rude, but has the lot of you comparing Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto actually ever done the Nazi Era in Europe, let alone the Holocaust taken leave of your minds? There is simply no comparison between the situations. Were we comparing Cambodia during the Pol-Pot regime and the Warsaw Ghetto, yes I’d see that, but Gaza? It’s a humanitarian disaster (possibly in some ways similar to the situation in Iraq today), but it is not the forerunner to a Holocaust. Seriously, this kind of defence reminds me why this German if forced to choose sides rather than support peace for everybody will choose a mature if fractious and in its foreign policies flawed democracy like Israel over the continuing disaster zone known as Gaza.
    I know my country’s history. I do not wish it on anybody else. And I won’t have it to be abused by false, historically illiterate comparisons.

  56. I think its amazing that people would attack those young people who thought it appropriate to blockade the Israeli embassy. I’m horrified that such a position would recieve such widespread support on these threads. Silly people ruining our demonstration!! And I also think it incredible to attack stewards without even bloody mentioning the way in which the police had arranged stuff. I was hanging around the entrance to hyde park for about 2 hours and heard absolutely NOTHING like that alleged. What I DID hear was ‘in our thousands and our millions..’ occupation is a crime…’ etc, etc over and over again and lots and lots of other slogans reflecting the best practice of solidarity movements whether SWP or non-SWP. In a really sharpened ideological atmosphere where a whole generation is being drawn into politics for the first time, socialists have all kinds of duties. They do not involve condemning people for being angry. They involve providing a socialist pole of attraction and drawing people togeather instead of seperating. In a modest way commensurate with its resources thats what I saw the SWP doing on the demo. I also saw members of Respect doing the same. Please stop this nonsense.

  57. Karl Stewart on said:

    I thought the march and rally was excellent yesterday. Well done to the organisers, stewards – who did a very difficult job very patiently – and well done to everyone who came along.
    I didn’t see or hear any anti-semitic slogans/placards. It’s a blatant lie to suggest that any of the left organisations would tolerate anything like this for a moment.
    However, I have witnessed anti-semitism at previous Palestine solidarity events – from religious nutters not from the left – it does happen from time to time and, where it does arise it must be confronted immediately.
    But comparing the Israelis’ attitudes and actions to those of nazi Germany is NOT anti-semitism.
    Nazi concepts of “untermenschen” and “libenstraum” echo in Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people as sub-human and in the Israelis’ theft of Palestinian land.
    Such analogies may well upset supporters of Israel, but they are reasonable comparisons to make and they do not imply any form of racism towards jewish people.
    In my view, the are other analogies such as the treatment of the native American people by the European settlers in the 18th and 19th centuries and the way that South Africa’s apartheid system treated non-white peoples.
    Each of these analogies – like that with nazi Germany – are also reasonable comparisons to make.
    None of the three analogies are entirely identical with the oppression of the Palestinian people, but to suggest that someone making any of these comparisons is expressing any kind of predudice towards either the victim of the nazis, the native American or the black South African is complete and utter nonsense.

  58. I also saw and heard quite a number of slogans along the lines of “no more starbucks, no more coke” etc, emerging from outside the organised left. As has been suggested by Richard on the Tomb, I think one of the arguments which needs to be focused on is broadening out the arguments about disinvestment, sanctions and boycott.

    On the question of Nazi analogies etc, I think that the Nazis are a symbol of modern political evil, and when evils like that currently being visited on the Palestinians are occuring, its entirely unsurprising that many will reach for these analogies (as they do in a range of conflicts and crimes occuring around the world). Zionists find this peculiarly offensive as, as was stated in a letter signed by many Jewish activists in the Guardian, they like to present Israel as in some sense aligned to the anti-nazi tradition. This is nonsense.

    It is of course true that such analogies can be misused by anti-semites and when they are this should be challenged. But it is a great mistake to concede to the defenders of Israels crimes the argument that anyone who makes the analogy is an anti-semite. This is all the more true in terms of analogies with aparthied which are in fact much more apposite (counterarguments generally taking the form of stressing that Israel is not as bad, is in fact more liberal etc, missing the point that an analogy does not suggest an identity).

    That there is huge anger amongst many about Israel’s crimes is perfectly understandable and indeed commendable. That many of those who are angry about these crimes are not socialists and are not familiar with socialist arguments is also entirely unsurprising and not something to be frightened of or complained about. What is required is for the left to put foward their arguments to a newly politicised generation and try and convince people. Not to denounce people for not being socialists.

  59. Alan Laurence on said:

    Karl
    Comparing Jews to Nazis has a bite that isn’t there when, for instance, the American occupation of Iraq is compared to Nazi Germany. (Pehaps this is why the comparision is seldom used: it resonates nowhere.) That bite amounts to Jew baiting.
    It is also an historically invalid comparision.

    Together, the baiting and the historical inaccuracy make the use of holocaust imagery inadvisable. Baiting people because of their collective history is close enough to racism to make reasonable suggestions that, in this case, it is antsemitic.

  60. I was a steward yesterday. I won’t do it again. It was a thankless job in which I received abuse from both demonstrators and the police. Also at one point a bottleneck developed where I had to be pulled out of the crowd (along with others) and then I others started pulling people out, with memories of the Hillsborough disaster (the one where football fans were crushed to death) flashing through my mind.

  61. Can I ask comrades what you all think are the priorities for the campaign right now? Certainly marches are important and pressure should be maintained at the Israeli embassy. But there is a problem if that becomes all we do and we will need stronger tactics than this, I feel, if we are to really have an impact on Israel’s current behaviour. And we also need to make sure that all the thousands of new people coming on to the street get the opportunity at least to involve themselves in consistent and practical activity over the coming weeks and months.

    It was very noticeable yesterday that some of the biggest cheers went to speakers who were advocating the cancellation of the EU-Israel trading agreement and the recalling/expelling of ambassadors. What do you think are the best ways of going about working towards this? Yes, letters to MP’s, making sure that your own shopping is “Israel-free”. But beyond this? I am wondering about things like setting up new local support groups (the PSC, for example, already has around 40 local branches listed on its website but are these all active?), trade union collections at work (a lot of trade union speakers on the platform yesterday) and direct action on the high street targetting shops/companies that benefit Israel (sit-ins maybe?).

    I expect we can all think of other things to do too. I would be especially interested to hear from anyone who was involved in building the boycott campaign against South Africa from its earlier years because it seems to me to be the most appropriate parallel right now.

  62. I think, by and large, the stewards did a good job. But, as others have said, were totally overwhelmed. I’m sure that stewards were subjected to ‘abuse’ both from police and marchers. I suspect that, on marchers, part that mostly reflected the fact that we were all in a scary potentially dnagerous situation (as Faust graphically describes) and some people were bound to panic as ‘fight or flight’ instincts set in. On the part of the police it was far more sinister: just one manifestation of a clearly orchestrated attempt from on high to provoke a serious confrontation which the commonsense of the overwheling majority of marchers avoided.

    I think in this situation it would be a rash mistake to call another national demonstration next weekend. We need to organise regional demonstrations which more people can participate in and prepare for a larger national demonstration by

    1) organised adequate effective stewarding
    2) mounted a major political campaign against the role the Labour Govt in the orchesstration of this state attack on the right to march.

    ps I’m not the ‘paulm’ who posted above and don’t agree with his comments, I’m a socialist party member.

  63. schadenfreude on said:

    I know this is a little beside the point of this thread but I can’t help letting you all know that John Rees has been joined by Lindsey German, Convenor of Stop the War Coalition, and Chris Nineham in the political wilderness. Rees was about to be booted off the SWP Central Committee by a strongly hostile conference when his two remaining friends joined him by withdrawing their names from the CC list. Let’s hope this marks a new beginning for the SWP following the disasters brought on them by Rees and German over the last year and more.

  64. Karl Stewart on said:

    Alan Laurence,
    Comparing the actions and attitudes of the ISRAELIS – i.e, the ISRAELI GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY – towards the Palestinians to the actions and attitudes of nazi Germany towards slavs, gypsies, homosexuals and jews is a reasonable comparison.
    It is not entirely identical, but the comparison, certainly in terms of the attitudes that drive the actions, is, in my opinion, a reasonable point to make.
    No-one is comparing nazis to jews Alan.
    That is your own invention.

  65. prianikoff on said:

    The growing size of the demonstrations in support of Gaza shows one weakness of the Israeli leadership’s position.
    They may succeed in terrorising the population into submission, but at what cost to their political credibility and system of alliances?
    There’s growing popular anger in Turkey and Egypt.
    These two governments are absolutely central to maintaining the capitalist order in the Middle East.

    Effectively, the Israeli forces are engaged in a military coup against a deeply entrenched citizens’ militia.
    To effectively disarm it requires mass terror against the whole population, thousands of deaths and martial law.
    One shouldn’t underestimate the possibility that the Israelis will succeed -as they did in the West Bank in 2002.

    Mass international support for the population of Gaza may help turn around the situation.
    But, so far, the West Bank hasn’t shown signs of a rising in support of Hamas.
    The fact that Hezbollah in Lebanon haven’t responded in the way they did in 2006, also shows the limitations of the methods of both organisations.

    Neither should one over-estimate the possibility of a spontaneous overthrow of the Egyptian government, which along with Israel, will be defended to the hilt by the new US administration.
    The level of mass radicalisation and organisation required to would be much greater than anything in evidence so far.

    As the leader of the victorious Red Army, Leon Trotsky pointed out:-

    “..the events of war and the revolutionary mass movement are measured by different yardsticks. Where the action of amies is measured in days and weeks, the movement of the masses of people is usually measured in months and years”

    My main criticism of the SWP is that they effectively ditch any distinctive socialist programme in mass united fronts like the StWC.
    In the case of “Respect”, this method determined their approach to party politics.
    Their slogans and placards are aimed at whatever they regard as the common denominator for quick recruitment.
    So they end up merging into the broad mass movement and echoing its slogans, rather the providing political leadership.
    Unsuprisingly, recruits made on this basis tend to disappear quite rapidly.

    In contrast, I heard Jorge Martin giving an interview on the Iranian government-owned satellite channel PressTV yesterday.
    He was speaking on behalf of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign appropos the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador to Venezuela.
    He made it clear that Chavez isn’t against the Jewish people, but was calling on them to overthrow the Israeli government.
    He also used the “S” word.
    At the mention of the word “Socialism” the line went dead.

    Not that I’m arguing for any form of conspiracy theory of course.

  66. I don’t think it is at all true that all comparisons of Israels crimes to crimes committed by the Nazies is ipso facto ‘baiting’ Jews on the basis of a collective history. I stated that the Nazi’s are a symbol of modern political evil. Its also true that Nazi ideology and practice was rooted in certain tendencies within modern capitalist societies that remain with us. Primo Levi in his account made some points on the lessons to be drawn from this most dreadful in modern human history. He suggested that the experiance of the Holocaust was indeed uniquely evil. But that in modern societies that experiance means that whenever people or states begin to behave in certain ways it should sound ‘an alarm’. There is no question that the behaviour of the Israeli state fits into this catagory (as does the behaviour of a number of other states). It is unacceptable to suggest that Israels ideological claims about itself mean that such an alarm should not be sounded when it is using both a language and adopting a practice which is potentially genocidal. Note the word “potential”. especially when similar behaviour by any other state would merit sounding such an alarm.

    What is unacceptable are the kinds of claim one sometimes see’s suggesting that Israel is ‘worse’ then the Nazi holocaust etc. At this point the analogy IS being used to trivialize the Holocaust. This should be challenged and is unacceptable. But as stated it is a mistake to concede the argument that ‘all comparisons’ are such. They are not.

  67. schadenfreude: what can one say, except – Freude Schone Goetterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium/ Wir betrieten Fuertrunken etc etc

  68. Early in the march, I had a middle-aged guy clutching a Socialist Worker paper (not necessarily an SWP member) telling me “I shouldn’t do the job of the police for them”. This wasn’t abuse but I did not think it helpful. I replied that the organisers had asked for stewards and I had responded.

    I don’t believe there were more than 200 stewards for a demo which I think was in excess of 100,000. A pathetically small number. Considering what the job is like, no wonder they can’t find people to fill the role.

    When we got to the embassy, on instructions I was telling people to keep moving but there were only a few stewards doing this (perhaps seven or eight). I got the occasional “F— off” from demonstrators. Then the bottleneck developed and I began, along with others, to be crushed. Somebody helped me over a barrier and I started helping others over, I took a breather for a second, in a state of shock, and then a cop yelled at me, “Do your f—ing job and keep them moving”. As if I had not been trying to do that.

    Not long after that, I stopped trying to perform the role. The crush had stopped but the stewards were not relevant any more, I thought, except perhaps the ones negotiating with the cops when perhaps 1,500 demonstrators were blocked in, a situation that lasted for hours. I took my bib off, kept it in a pocket and later handed it to someone still wearing one. The cops started letting people out of the cordon in small numbers and I wondered if they were going to subject stewards to special treatment that didn’t include tea and biscuits, so that was another reason I wanted to ditch the role. I finally got home about 11 last night.

  69. Karl Stewart on said:

    Faust,
    From what I saw, the stewards were all doing a very difficult job with patience and good humour and as far as I’m concerned I’d say thanks to you and all of your fellow stewards for your hard work yesterday, it was much appreciated.

  70. prianikoff on said:

    The main argument against the Zionist- Nazi equation debate is that it’s a bit of a diversion at the moment.

    There are a few misguided people on these demos who use insensitive slogans or images, but they’ve been provided with plenty of material to do so by the IDF bombers.

    There’s also been a current within the pro-Palestinian movement which has tended to play on the theme,sometimes questioning the validity of the holocaust, or saying that what happened in the Palestinian “Naqba” was even worse.

    However, this is pretty subdued at the moment, fairly stupid and largely counterproductive to the Palestinian cause.
    Even the phone-in host on PressTV, owned by the Iranian government which invited David Duke of the KKK to Tehran and held a “scientific debate” questioning the holocaust, jumped down the throat of callers who made antisemitic-sounding statements.

    As I said up the thread, what’s going on in Gaza is an attempt to disarm a citizen militia, which inevitably involves heavy civilian casualties and mass terror against the population.

  71. #79. Thanks for that, but it will be a long time before I put myself in a similar position again, if ever.
    The geography of the place didn’t help. The cops were trying to funnel a huge demo into a small space.

  72. I’d also like to thank all the stewards. I think it was an enourmously difficult situation (fight and flight responses from most of us is absolutely right. With me of course its largely flight, and I have nothing but admiration for those whose responsibility did not allow them this luxury). I also think its important to constantly keep at the forefront that what has created this difficult situation is Israel’s attack on Palestinian civilians and the huge levels of anger inevitable in such a situation. For me one lesson of this demonstration is how absolutely crucial it is to have networks of activists on the ground and not simply big calls (neccessary and useful as they are) from various top tables. I also heard a lot of stories about the very good work comrades in Birmingham, both in the SWP and in Respect had been doing around local demos both practically and ideologically. It really is neccessary in this situation that we all start to get our shit togeather. On the other arguments what Prianikoff said I don’t find anything to disagree with.

  73. I also think the stewards did an excellent job. I was exhausted by the time I got home, the cold was really sapping. I think if I’d had to spend hours trying to move large numbers of people through a narrow road, in the snow, I’d be pretty demoralised as well, and would be wondering if I would ever feel my feet again.

    Well done Faust, it’s a thankless task, I’ve done it before and wouldn’t do it again either! Luckily there appear to be lots of young people at the demo, someone needs to get them to steward next time, they’ve got boundless energy!!

  74. There are many similarities `twixt the progroms and attacks upon the ghettos of Gaza and Warsaw.
    The mechanization of both atrocities were supported by America.

    The Germans and their military vehicles.

    The fuel suplies…, indeed when this aspect of WW2 is examined, one finds that the Rockerfellers are “right in there.”

    There many more connections and similarities. Saddest of all, is that working class people, from all sides of the war, were forcibly summoned to arms, on behalf of the state.
    Not to defend the state, but to consolidate the power of the corporate “kings”.

    One could continue, however most people are aware that the Israelis are using airplanes, munitions and finance from America.

  75. John wight (post 60) starts off by saying he disagrees with David Rosenberg (post 59) about analogies between the Israeli state’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the Holocaust. I think there is less disagreement between them than is at first apparent and I happen to agree with both posts. David is talking about the situation as it is now and John is talking about the attitudes of the Israeli state and the potential in this situation (e.g in his quoting Brecht: ‘the womb from which this monster emerged is still fertile’). David doesn’t deny this:

    “If we reach for the most terrifying analogy now, what language does that give us to mobilise from to describe if and when things get worse (as they are likely to do)?” This implies to me that the analogy isn’t “off limits” for David, as John suggests, but needs to be used appropriately. I should imagine both would agree this does not include superimposing swastikas onto stars of David. To me, it would include using the analogy now, not in terms of what is actually happening, but at least raising the potential for genocide in the situation, the line and actions of the Israeli state and the attitudes of individuals and parties that are part of that state, whether in the hierarchy or the ranks of the armed forces.

    It is interesting that some people high up in the Israeli state do use at least references from the Holocaust, as the letter to the Guardian pointed out.

    David also raises a point about victims and perpetrators, pointing out that not all Israelis are perpetrators. I would have thought it was true that not all are “victims” either. Aside from the fact that many may have come from countries where anti-semitism was not particularly strong, how many generations does “victimhood” pass down? I know that its psychological effects can be transmitted through several generations, as can all kinds of trauma – this will be one of the lesser legacies of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example. Just suggesting that victimhood is quite a slippery concept.

  76. David Ellis on said:

    `As I said up the thread, what’s going on in Gaza is an attempt to disarm a citizen militia, which inevitably involves heavy civilian casualties and mass terror against the population.’

    To what end though Prianikoff? To make the siege more effective I’d say and to make the siege more effective is genocidal in its intent. Closing the tunnels will be the greatest of the war crimes committed in the long run.

  77. Alan Laurence on said:

    Karl,
    Those Israelis you compare to nazis are Jews – especially, I would guess, the Israeli Generals. It is not necesary for you to say that all Jews are Nazis (which you dont say) for my arguement to hold. Within this discource the ‘bite’ holds whether its all Jews or some Jews that are reframed as nazis.

  78. There is nothing anti-semitic about making comparisons between some of Israel’s action and those of the Nazis. May I remind people that the actual genocide of Jews by the Nazis only took place when the Nazis started to lose the Second World War. Incidentally, this is not unique to the Nazis – it is also the case that in Rwanda it was when the Hutu chauvinist trend started to lose the war with their Rwanda Patriotic Front (Tutsi and pro-coexistence Hutu guerilla army) that the Rwandan genocide began.

    The persecution of the Palestinians is entirely comparable to the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany prior to the actual start of outright genocide. It is also comparable to the persecution of Jews in Tsarist Russia, in intensity and scale. This current episode is far bloodier and more sustained than Kristallnacht or the Kishniev pogroms, to give two very well-known examples of pre-Holocaust anti-semitic violence.

    It is also the case that the final act of the oppression of the Palestinans has not been written. The moment of greatest danger lies when the Zionist project begins to seriously unravel. That is when the danger that they will try a simply exterminationist solution will be the greatest. Sounding warnings about the similarity of Zionist ideology and Nazism is completely appropriate and those who are over-sensitive about this are idelogically still in the orbit of Zionism in some mediated way (not so mediated in the case of David Rosenberg, who is allowed to write material on Harry’s Place).

  79. I think the cops use the cold as a weapon when they block you in. Your militancy is inevitably somewhat sapped. It is a way of punishing protest and perhaps deterring people in the future. It verged on encouraging hypothermia.

    In summer or good weather, they might keep people confined even longer, perhaps to the point they need to go to the bathroom etc.

    I think it would be a good idea to study police crowd tactics. Anybody know any books or booklets on the subject?

  80. Alan Laurence on said:

    If ID is right and this is the future for the Palestinians then best the left comes up with a strategy for creating a peaceful alternative future. The Palestinians will never overpower the Israelis, the Arab states will not come to their rescue, the current direction of travel is getting nowhere.

  81. chorister on said:

    Have you read Mein Kampf, ID? It laid out very clearly what Hitler planned to do to the Jews. Have you read the Israeli Declaration of Independence and its remarks on its relations with its minorities? A rather different document.

  82. choriser – you’re not very clever are you? The compatator is the Weimar Constitution, not the manifesto of an individual. Foolish, all too foolish.

  83. So that’s AL’s answer to genocidal/racist oppression? Make peace with your oppressors! Palestinians need this kind of advice like a hole in the head.

    Mind you, some Zionist leaders did indeed make peace with Hitler, so I guess that AL’s advice is par for the course for that kind of politics.

  84. On reflection I should have added that Faust is entirely right to point towards the police tactics of funnelling and deliberately stoking the situation therebye. I don’t know of any books on this kind of thing unfortunately. One difference between these protests and the large protests against the Iraq war is that the degree of ideological polarisation is much larger which means that the police are probably under very different kinds of instruction. In front of me and another comrade as early as Hyde Park, just as the demo was setting off, a young woman in Hijab was having a vociferous argument with a friend about something or other and accidently walked slightly to the left of where the police were trying to pointlessly funnel us (at that stage there was no point to the funnelling aside from sending a signal about who was boss). This police, completely unprovoked, simply shoved her so hard she almost fell over. Needless to say we remonstrated but the copper just ignored us and looked out for someone else of asian appearence to shove. From that point onwards it was fairly obvious what the gameplan of at least some of the police was. Around the embassy I think they were clearly trying to create a situation where they could make mass arrests. Interestingly when a group of us tried to find a way round after waiting pointlessly for a lengthy period we came across a group of young guys on mobiles having furious arguments about whether to stay near the Israeli embassy and court arrest or on the other hand to move on. “Get the fuck out of there brother” was what I heard. It was a set-up. It was clear to me as I said above that one problem was simply that a demo that vast different kinds of activists were not really hooked up with each other. That requires a more groundlevel operation then we really have. I don’t think stewards can be held accountable for this, and I think that stewards can only ever be as effective as the strength of organisation on the ground actually is. So these are problems for the wider movement, and ones which I understand are being grappled with by different tendencies at the moment on a more local level. Frightening as the experiance was, I thought that the potential was very exciting. Its important though that we don’t just see it as a re-run of previous movements. The depth of crisis, the often self inflicted weaknesses of the left, but above all the sheer level of ideological polarisation means that the tasks are both different and more serious.

  85. Karl Stewart on said:

    Alan, as far as I’m concerenced, all religions – buddism, christianity, paganism, islam, judaism, hinduism etc – are a load of superstitious and backward mumbo-jumbo, but people should be allowed to practice their superstitions without hindrance so long as they don’t oppress others with it.
    So I couldn’t care less which type of superstitious mumbo-jumbo – if any – is practised by the individual perpetrators of the attack on Gaza.
    But what does strike me is the similarity between the Israeli government’s and Israeli military’s attitudes towards the Palestinians and the attitudes of nazi Germany towards slavs, gypsies and jews.
    It is not identical, but it is similar, particularly the nazi concepts of “untermenschen” towards slavs, gypsies and jews and the Israeli government’s and military’s view of the Palestinian people as sub-human.

  86. I’ve read relevant extracts from Mein Kampf. I haven’t got a strong enough stomach to read the whole thing. But Hitler’s individual pathlogies and hatreds do not change the fact that that thrust to carry this out came about when the Nazis began to lose the war. The Nazi party was not simply a personal cult around Hitler and a vehicle for his foibles and fantasies, but a broad fascist mass party, including elements who did not necessarily share all of Hitler’s individual pathologies – elements like Goering who were similar to Mussolini and saw some aspects of Hitler’s obessions as a bit weird. This programme could only be implemented when the war began to be lost because only that could force the more rational scumbags to go along with a desperate gamble that if they ‘got rid’ of the Jews somehow the situation could be saved.

    Anyway, who cares what it says about ‘minorities’ in Israel’s constitution? It’s not ‘minorities’ that are the issue, but the Arab MAJORITY, that has been driven into exile to make way for an artificial Jewish majority. That is the secret of Israeli racism … the treatement of ‘minorities’ is a complete red-herring.

  87. ID – I share some of what you are saying, but the claim that the Final Solution was triggered by defeats on the Eastern Front doesn’t hold up in the light of scholarship. The debate among almost all historians now is whether that decision to launch the Holocaust took place in September or Octover (or conceibly early November 1941). In other words when Operation Barbarossa was blitzing through the Soviet Union and the Third Reich was at its apogee.

  88. chorister on said:

    Yes, but if they regarded the Palestinians as untermenschen why didn’t they strip them of their citizenship as the Nazis did long before the war started? Clearly the Zionists wanted as much of the territory as they could grab for themselves, but that’s a long way from Mein Kampf.

  89. Mass killings of Jews were underway in the summer of 1941, but they were partly shrouded under the Commissar Order, which marked for death “commissars”, Soviet functionaries and Communist Party members. Jews were assumed to be pro-Soviet, the USSR a “Jewish Bolshevik” state, so anti-Communism and anti-Semitism mutually reinforced each other.

  90. #97 Yes, that’s how I understand it too. You might say that it was the crushing, initial victories that the Nazis achieved on the eastern front that prompted them to adopt a more radical, and horrific, solution to the “Jewish question”. I saw the dramatisation “Conspiracy” again recently about the Wannsee conference held in January 1942 (based on the personal notes of the Nazi, Martin Luther) and Heydrich does say something like “the war is going to take longer than we thought” but all the participants are portrayed as being very confident of victory. I think that the Wannsee meeting was initially planned for before Xmas 1941 but was delayed for a few months, presumably because of military priorities elsewhere.

  91. It might have been a long way from Mein Kampf at the time Israel was created; indeed Israel had the backing of the USSR and a generally leftish image at the time it was created. But ‘getting rid’ of an unwanted population has a genocidal logic no matter what leftish phrases are initially used to justify it. It was only a matter of time before the hypocritical leftist rhetoric was replaced by something more appropriate to the real nature of the project.

    Nas, interesting point, there are different theories about the real point of genesis of the Nazi genocide. I don’t claim to be up on every aspect of current historical research, but the stuff I read about Wanasee etc seemed pretty convincing.

  92. chorister on said:

    The expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia was akin to to what the Nazis did? Ethnic cleansing and industralised mass murder are not the same thing, however hard you try to stretch the point.

  93. Well yes, actually ethnic cleansing is closely related to genocide. More to the point, if a project that involves ‘mere’ ethnic cleansing comes unstuck, genocide as the next logical step is quite a likely occurence.

  94. Alan Laurence on said:

    Karl
    I agree, religion is mumbo-jumbo. What on earth has that to do with anything? It has nothing to do with your willingness to bait Jews by calling them Nazis.

    ID – Don’t you want a peace settlement? The Palestinians cannot win this war, peace and a settlement are needed and the only agencies that can make peace are the current belligerants.
    Why do you sneer at the idea of progressive Israelis and progressive Palestinian collaborating?

  95. imatrot on said:

    Over 100k people march for Gaza, the biggest pro-palestinian demo in UK history, and this blog turns into a) criticism of the SWP b) criticism of islamic involvement and c) in depth scrutiny about possible, but not direct, but possibly dogwhistled anti-semitism. Bloddy typical… long live lefty obscurantism.

  96. imatrot on said:

    Because instead of throwing about differing opinions how we can move the movement forward and build on what was a fantastic day despite political and police pressure and the freezing cold (im from Oz so felt it doubly), this blog and commenters on it immediatly get out their hatchets and start picking apart groups within the movement… SWP said this … what about all the Islamic groups there etc etc… I am happy for you to have your left grumpy know-it-all discussuions but lets make it clear this is not serious political discussion nor does it in anyway add to socialist unity let alone left unity it is just tedious and mindnumbing… and counterproductive for the building of a true alternative to capitalism… until a version of the left that i seen as something other than the festoring stagnent swamp that produces this crap then we are all doomed.

  97. Karl Stewart on said:

    Imatrot,
    The purpose of sites like this is precisely to discuss different opinions. And how we move things forward will be, to a large extent, determined by the kinds of debates and discussions that people are having with each other in many different forums, meetings and even on sites such as this.
    The question of whether the Israeils’ attitudes should or should not be compared to those of the nazis is an important one, as are other criticisms – and the response to those criticisms.
    What do you think should be the next step?
    I also think that the question of how we can wage and win the argument that the Palestinians deserve real support from the world and should be given arms and equipment to enable them to effectively defend themselves against their invaders is an important one too.
    What’s your view on this?

  98. ‘Lenin’ seems not to know who David Rosenberg is, which suggests that his Seymour’s connection to the left is pretty semi-detatched.

    I just wanted to point out that those of us who were convinced by Bianca Jagger on the telly recently to oppose strongly the Israeli actions cannot help but be wary of the stuff that’s got flung around on these marches.

    If the situation is the Middle East is analogous to the Thrid Reich what words do you have left for what’s happening in Central Africa? I follow this regularly since I read the Francophone media. But I see little about it here (just to cite a few figures, hundreds killed in the last week). Fueling it is the trade is precious metals and arms, plus ethnic divisions plus Great Power interests, and, who bleeding knows. I weep when I read about this.

    Of maybe it is coz they is black no-one here gives a toss.

  99. There is a better case of comparing Trotskyists to Nazis. What they did to those poor workers at Kronstadt. And then look at Lenin’s Red Terror. Utterly disgraceful – they should be ashamed.

  100. chorister on said:

    Could you point me to some recent threads about Central Africa, Karl, so we an discuss the situation there? If hundreds died last week I imagine there will be many of them. Though searching doesn’t seem to come up with much.

    In 1982 Stria massacred an estimated 10000-35000 civilians. Are they worse than the Israelis, better or the same? If worse, then we have just demoted the Nazis as the worst criminals of the twentieth century.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hama_massacre

  101. David Ellis on said:

    Mikey, you are TerryFritz, the man who wants to nuke Gaza and get it over with, and I claim my five pounds.

  102. David Rosenberg on said:

    Well Imatrot we can either go forward with our eyes open, celebratign the success of getting so many out on the demo yesterday, but being aware of some shortcomings that need to be addressed or we can go forward blindfolded and with our ears covered up as well, learn nothing and make further mistakes.

    This is a socialist blog and apart from the odd troll popping along I’m assuming that everyone on this blog, however sharply they are articulating their differences wants the movement that yesterday’s demo represented to grow and succeed. And if we can’t argue out those differences and listen to each other’s opinions within that framework on a socialist blog then where are we supposed to do so?

    Thanks Faust for giving us a perspective on it from the point of view of the stewards. My criticismof the stewarding was not an attack on individual stewards. I have been a steward on Palestine solidarity demos and anti-fascist demos in the past an know how difficult it can be. My questions were about the stewarding plan. It was not at all clear that there was one let alone contingency plans, leaving individual stewards and the marchers in a vulnerable situation. With the numbers we are mobilising we need a plan next time.

    In 2006 I was one of the speakers at the second national march over Israel’s war on Lebanon and was asked to walk near the front so I could get to the speakers platform quickly. The front of that demo was ringed by a large number of stewards with linked arms, which went many rows back in the march. The stewards were constantly interacting with the some of the more angry youth keeping them from exposing themselves to danger situations. The stewards also helped direct the chanting in line with agreed slogans – that was all very different to yesterday and we need to get it right next time.

    Thanks Phil W@85 for understanding rather than distorting what I said about Nazi/Holocaust analogies. I was not ruling out of order any such analogies but questioning their accuracy and utility and the conscious or unconscious intent behind them. I was also asking why we need an analogy when the scale and horror of what is happening daily in Gaza is absolutely clear.

    When I made my point about what one SWP member saw fit to shout through a megaphone, I wasn’t saying that was typical, but it was disturbing. Wouldn’t be nice if one member of the SWP here said: “I didn’t hear it myself but if one of our comrades said that, it is completely out of order and shouldn’t be said again.” Instead all there have been are denials, accusations of me making it up, or attempts to trivialise rather than deal with it.

  103. I too heard what David Rosenberg heard said over a megaphone.

    As another comrade thought it might have been, it was from the over excited SWPer from north London repeating a leftist rant as demonstrators came through the entrance into Hyde Park at Speakers Corner. Unfortunately it was not just any old member of the SWP, but [xxxxxxxxxxxxxx] – a member of their central committee!

    I was so shocked when I heard what he said that I noted it down then and there to be sure of the exact wording. It was not a chant on the demo, but something that this one leading SWP comrade was saying through his megaphone.

    He said: “One solution revolution, join the Socialist Workers Party. Destroy capitalism, destroy Israel. They have no right to be there. They are a settler state. Go back to New York, or wherever it was you came from.”

    It must be said that while [xxxxxxxxxxxxxx]was repeating most of this over and over, I only once heard him say the last line. But he definitely did say it. I was truly shocked, as this is not, as others have stated, standard SWP politics when it comes to Israel/Palestine. I can only imagine, along with the leftist “one solution revolution” stuff, that he was trying to appeal to the more militant youth on the demo. This is one of the most crass, and obviously politically dodgy, examples of SWP opportunism that I have witnessed for a while from a member of their central committee. His comrades should think about holding him to account.


    I DELETED THE NAME MENTION HERE – ANDY

  104. external bulletin on said:

    “Mikey, you are TerryFritz, the man who wants to nuke Gaza and get it over with, and I claim my five pounds.”

    Far worse. Mikey is from the Harry’s Place sewer.

  105. The point of the analogy with the Warsaw ghetto is that the IDF are concentrating their prospective victims into a smaller and smaller area, which will then become a free-fire zone. Of course it’s not absolutely historically accurate – no analogy is – and it’s equally true that we could draw a parallel with Fallujah or other Iraqi cities.

    But it points to something that’s distinctive about Israel’s onslaught on Gaza. In the attacks on Lebanon in 1981 and 2006 (as in the Nakba), the point of ethnic cleansing was to clear ground, and the IDF in each case left avenuues open for people to flee. In gaza now there’s no where to run, and I think the unprecedented cruelty and barbarity of the operation is what’s driving much of the anger and opposition.

  106. I’d just like to add my tuppence worth to the debate on holocaust analogies. Whilst many people here have said that these placards were in a huge minority (and I agree,) there were far more than I’ve ever seen before and I think that it’s something that needs to be tackled head-on, because not only do I believe that the slogans/images are crass, but that they have the potential to do great damage to the inclusiveness of a popular struggle. To start with, it is clear that whilst some people think that this analogy is defensible, it is not one that is used across the board on left wing protests. In fact, the only time I ever seem to see it is with relation to Israel, and I think that it is important that we ask the question of whether it would be used were Israel not a “Jewish state.” I’m not one of these people who shies away from discussing the holocaust for political ends, but I do feel very strongly that the use here can be seen as antisemitic, and actually the fact that the analogy is so weak means that we should be dropping it, and we should work on slogans and demands that aren’t divisive.

    Secondly, I don’t think this is a debate we should be having just within the left. Many young Muslims have been brought up with a level of background antisemitism, and that too needs to be challenged (I regularly find myself at these demonstrations discussing what’s wrong with someone shouting “down with the Jews!” or similar.) The point here is that, more often than not, the use of the analogy seems to be a non-cognitive act rather than a moment of thoroughgoing critique. It is, more often than not, a sign of a lack of political education rather than the expression of any particular issue within the conflict in Palestine. It is, more often than not, a following of what has already been said, rather than a new and forceful insight. It is beyond me why leftists on this blog insist on defending the analogy, but the real job is to talk closely with the Muslim groups, from whom these expressions usually arise, about the problems with them and to demand that if we all believe in a popular movement in support of the people of Gaza that these old racist slogans be left behind.

  107. Another comment on stewarding:
    If the march had been as small as the police and the BBC are presenting it, I doubt whether the stewards would have been so overwhelmed. Since it was much bigger, the tiny number of stewards was indeed swamped. And it became obvious early on that we hadn’t the numbers to control the flow of the demonstration.
    I didn’t actually experience verbal abuse from demonstrators when the stress was highest. A proportion of protestors just didn’t like being told what to do, and it is safer to insult a steward than a policeman.

  108. chorister on said:

    Jacob Bard-Rosenberg has hit the nail on the head. Why are these analogies only used in relation to Israel? Algeria during the civil war? Britain and is colonial dependecies? America in Vietnam? Syria at Hama? US and UK in Iraq? Much of Africa?

    It’s telling the this analogy only proliferates around one conflict and its effect is to see this as an erasing of the real Holocaust by diminishing it. To deny that Jews were the victims of mass murder on a grand scale with the intention of wiping out a whole race.

    On this site Jewish socialists are telling you they have a problem with this and some of you aren’t listening. Is there any othger group who would be ignored when it warned of racism?

  109. “Unfortunately it was not just any old member of the SWP, but [xxxxxxxxxxxxx] – a member of their central committee!”

    ROFL the cpgb rumour mill hits a new low!

  110. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Dave Isaacson

    [XXXXXXXXXXXX] has a responsible position in the anti-racist movement. The person you saw and heard was not him.

    He was another African-Caribbean member of the SWP. I don’t propose to investigate why you got confused: it wouldn’t serve the unity of the movement.

    People can either respond commensurately to this extraordinary incipient movement or not. If not, some risk permanent sectarian ruination.

  111. You are quite right Faust, and I’m a bit disgusted that people are having a go at the stewarding. It was clear right from the start that the police were going to cause trouble. I’m sure most people on this site have been on enough demo’s to know when the police are going to put the boot in. Worse, it’s clear that it was generally policed really badly, and the trouble could easily have been avoided. Perhaps the police actually believe their own numbers when they give them, and actually thought that only 7000 – 12000 would go!

  112. choister asks at #123 Why are these analogies only used in relation to Israel? The simple answer is that they are not – the cry “CRS-SS” has been a staple of French demos since well before 1968, and I’ve read and heard at various times people make Nazi analogies with the French army in Algeria, the British in Northern Ireland, the US in Vietnam, South Africa, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia… None of which I have ever found particularly apposite, or particularly helpful, and you don’t find either SWP or Stop the War materials making those analogies.

    But the other reason that the analogy proliferates is the much worsse abuse of it by the other side. Every ruler of a non-Western power who threatens Western interests sooner or later becomes demionised as ‘the new Hitler’ – Nasser, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein, Milosevic… And because the analogy is used over and over again to justify military assaults by the West on other countires, it’s little surprise that people opposed to those military attacks should seek to turn the analogy round.

    And there’s nothing necessarily anti-semitic about it – as many Jewish socialists have argued both here and elsewhere.

  113. Alan Laurence

    “Why do you sneer at the idea of progressive Israelis and progressive Palestinian collaborating?”

    Im all in favour of such collaboration. Unfortunately, the kind of progressive Israeli’s I have in mind are the kind the Alan Laurence’s of this world tend to denounce as ‘self-hating Jews’.

  114. Those Afro-American Olympic athletes who gave the Black Power salute in the 1960s were accused of making a ‘Nazi-like’ gesture at the time. It seems grotesque but that was indeed the spin.

  115. Chorister on said:

    I was never on any demos for Troops Out or anti apartheid which compared the British or the White South Africans to Nazis. it may be common in France but not here

  116. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Keith Watermelon

    i) Some things are most effective for being left unstated, as a recently departed man of letters demonstrated so superbly.

    ii) Please see last par of my post above.

  117. Karl Stewart on said:

    Alan (106),
    You first brought up religion not me.

    The brutal and barbaric cruelty of the Israeli government and military towards the Palestinian people is similar in terms of attitudes to the attitudes towards slavs, gypsies and jews that drove the evil barbarism of the nazis.
    It is difficult to comprehend how the Israeli government and military can carry out such an utterly inhuman mass slaughter of people and then defend these actions without blinking an eye.
    Like the nazis saw the slavs, gypsies and jews as less than human, so the Israeli government and military views the Palestinian people as somehow less than human.
    There is a clear similarity – not an identical match, but a similarity – and making the comparison is a reasonable point to make.
    Yes of course, at the same time, we must state and restate our utter abhorrence to disgusting anti-semitism, a predudice that does exist, which does rear its ugly head and which must always be immediately confronted and defeated.
    It is wrong to assume that most jewish people identify with the barbaric acts of the Israeli government. Indeed, it is itself a form of racism to make the lazy assumption that there is some kind of automatic connection. There is not.

  118. Tim Vanhoof on said:

    “Like the nazis saw the slavs, gypsies and jews as less than human, so the Israeli government and military views the Palestinian people as somehow less than human.”

    Again, this racist view of the oppressed by the oppressor is not unique to Nazism. It was commonplace at the time of open colonialism, as were the massacres and displacement that accompany all colonialist ventures. What Nazism did was to take the racist logic to its extreme; the resulting horror was what made openly espousing such views deeply unpopular in the period after WW2.

  119. Chorister on said:

    Once again if the I hereby ideology of Zionism regards Palestinians as non human how does this differ from the US and UK in Iraq and if it’s no different why didn’t we see a sea of bannners to that effect at the fen 15 march?

  120. David Rosenberg on said:

    Despite other commentator’s disbelief, Dave Isaacson (118) has confirmed that the ‘”Go back to New York” comment that I reported yesterday was indeed said by an SWP member through a megaphone at the entrance to Speakers Corner.

    Kevin Ovenden (125) does not deny it was said but reckons that it was another SWP member, not the one that Dave Isaacson thought.

    I was aware that there there were three or four SWP members behind their literature table sharing the megaphone.

    Three questions for Kevin:

    Did you hear this being shouted through the megaphone yourself or are you reporting what someone else has said about this incident?

    What do you think of the comment?

    If you were still in the SWP what would you expect to be done about it?

  121. Chorister on said:

    Where us the evidence tthat the Israeli government regards Palestonians as less than human in a way that is programmatically different to Britain and the US in Iraq? Especially as Palestinian citizens of Israel while by no means equal to Jews have vastly more rights than Jews in thirties Germany.

  122. Karl Stewart on said:

    Chorister asks for evidence that the Israeli government regards Palestinians as less than human?

    Chorister: Almost 1,000 Palestinian deaths in just a couple of weeks. Slaughtered by the Israeli military on the orders of the Israeli government.

  123. chorister

    “Especially as Palestinian citizens of Israel while by no means equal to Jews have vastly more rights than Jews in thirties Germany.”

    Even chorister cannot assert that Israel’s artificial Arab ‘minority’ are treated equally. They are not: indeed they are under threat of expulsion from the ‘moderate’ Tsipi Livni, front-runner for Prime Minister of Israel whose election campaign is much of the purpose of the current slaugher, in her own version of the two state solution (also known as the next Naqba).

    Every form of racist persecution has its own unique features. What is so odious about those who trumpet Israel’s alleged ‘tolerance’ of its Arab ‘minority’ is that the whole concept of an Arab ‘minority’ is a lie worthy of Goebells himself. Implicitly, this denies the rights of the Arab MAJORITY of rightful inhabitants of historic Palestine to assert the rights of their majority. It is the Israeli Jews who should be seeking minority rights in a non-racial or perhaps binational Palestine, but the precondition of that is recognition of the rights of the Arab majority.

  124. They are also slaughtering them partly as a way of competing for votes in the Israeli elections – and this is being done by the “more moderate” of the options on offer. Interesting reflection on the nature of Israeli society.

  125. …er who was supposed to ‘go back’ to New York? I’m confused. Who was he talking to? I mean, I would quite like to ‘go back’ to New York (some of my father’s generation live in New York environs!). Perhaps he was talking to me (I walked past that entrance) If I’d heard him, I’d’ve asked him if had the fare for me. London? New York? Shit my father’s mother decided to live in Whitechapel…otherwise I could have been a Lower Eastsider…no, perhaps the guy didn’t mean that?

  126. Chorister on said:

    Sure, but does Israel regard Palestinians as sub human in a way qualitatively different to British and American treatment of Iraqis?

  127. Quite obviously they do. Neither Britain nor the US dispute the right of Iraqi civilians to live in Iraq.

  128. Chorister on said:

    they just bomb and murder and torture them and create a million or more refugees- that’s okay then, nothing like the Nazis

  129. Yes, just like they did in Vietnam. This mass murder can be called genocidal in one sense, and it is absurd to imply that anyone who attacks the specificity of Zionist racism is in any way excusing this.

    But there is a particularly sinister ethnic twist which the Zionists have in common with Nazism, that is more likely to result in a systematic, ethnically-driven genocide as it did with the Nazis.

  130. Karl Stewart on said:

    Chorister, by all means support the disgusting actions of the Israeli government if you want to, but don’t you dare try to claim “the jews” as your own.
    There were more jewish people on yesterday’s anti-genocide march and rally than at today’s pathetic gathering.

  131. “What do you think of the comment?
    If you were still in the SWP what would you expect to be done about it?”

    I was at speakers corner and didn’t hear anyone in the SWP or otherwise chanting this. I’ve been a member of the SWP for over 20 years and have never seen or heard any comrade being allowed to shout inappropriate comments through a megaphone. But I’ll concede that there is always the possibility of a first.

    However, perhaps the demonstrator was trying to make the point that the Law of Return has facilitated Zionist colonialists from around the world invading Palestinian land and oppressing the Palestinians. I think that is a valid comment to make but I believe it should be taken up in discussion rather than shouted awkwardly over a megaphone. But I’m not sure what the demonstrator was trying to get across and we will never know because David didn’t challenge him as I would have done but came on here trying to put the SWP on the spot.

    What I find concerning is that David Rosenberg is focusing on this one comrade as if this is SWP policy and all ex and current comrades are answerable for it. Secondly, David Isaacson is taking this further by trying to smear a leading member of the SWP. It makes me question the veracity of their accusations.

    So while I don’t think it’s politically helpful to tell Zionist colonialists to go back to where they originally came from when we are all arguing for a secular state in the region. I do question the motives behind the two David’s attempts to inflate this issue.
    David Rosenberg’s method of trying to put ex and current SWP comrades on the spot over this issue when they weren’t party to it nor witnesses to it and would not shout it is the sort of McCarthyesque interrogation technique that is not fraternal.

  132. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    David Rosenberg

    I did witness what was said and by whom. David Isaacson is wrong – recklessly so given that [XXXXXX] is in a position where such a false accusation could be very damaging to the anti-fascist movement.

    As for the rest of your inquisition and the somewhat high-handed and sardonic tone of your response to my factual points, I don’t feel the need to plead before your tribunal. I really think you’ve got things out of proportion. I cannot see how challenging me to comment as if I were a member of a party I was expelled from is remotely beneficial to encourging this remarkable movement.

    Perhaps we just need to accept that there are major differences of emphasis and priority.

  133. David Rosenberg on said:

    Mike (143), Yes New York is very nice – properly filled bagels etc etc but I think you do know what was being said here

    “They have no right to be there. They are a settler state. Go back to New York, or wherever it was you came from.”

    Call me an old fashioned socialist, but I differentiate between people and governments, between people and the oppressive state apparatus.

    Israel was founded on the attempts at ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians (largely successful in its own terms) turning the people pushed out into refugees, and condemning those that remained to discrimination.

    The new Israeli society, founded by committed Zionists who cared nothing for the rights of the Palestinians, was bolstered by Holocaust survivors from the DP camps that European countries didn’t want. Many Israelis today are their descendents. And if we tell them to go back to where “they came from”, we find addresses a bit less glamorous than New York – like Theresiensdadt, Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz – to name a few examples from left-wing Israelis I have met.

    If I was eavesdropping on the far-right, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear them proclaiming that the way a people can liberate itself is to ethnically cleanse their enemies.

    Mike, don’t you think we’re entitled to expect something a little better from the Left and – it’s not exactly a transitional demand – a tiny bit of contrition over something they know should never have been said?

  134. “If you were still in the SWP what would you expect to be done about it?”

    I forgot to answer this point. If I was unhappy with a slogan I would take the comrade to one side and have a political discussion about it. If they continued I’d have them shipped of to our secret gulag in Skegness and they would never be heard of again.

  135. Karl Stewart on said:

    Good point Ray.
    If anyone comes across anything anti-semitic at one of these events, then confront it immediately, don’t wait 24 hours and then post an inaccurate accusation on a website.

  136. Chorister on said:

    I don’t support the Israeli government – the exact opposite, nor am I claiming Jews for anything. I do dispute this equation of its actions with Nazi Germany. If Israel is a Nazi state then I’m a citzen of one by holding a British passport

  137. Anonymous on said:

    A few comments:

    1) The Israeli state’s violent and unjust oppression of the Palestinians has not (yet) reached the depths of the Nazi holocaust of the Jews. We must oppose the Israeli states appalling treatment of the Palestinians as a great moral outrage in its own right, without resorting to Nazi holocaust analogies.

    2) The Nazi holocaust of the Jews (and gays, gypsies, communists, the disabled etc.) remains the greatest crime of our epoch. The Nazi mass extermination policy was qualitatively different from the other manifold horrors of capitalism *.

    3) People have often (incorrectly) used a ‘Nazi’ analogy to condemn assorted authoritarian, racist and violently oppressive acts and regimes – from police actions, to Thatcherism, to Serbia’s Milosevic etc. This is wrong as it can lead to an under-estimation of the horrors of the Nazi holocaust.

    4) Nevertheless, capitalism is continually pregnant with fascism and genocide, and the threat of a return to the Nazi barbarism of the 1940’s means we must remain forever vigilant. A future genocidal fascism can arise using any group as its scapegoat – Jews, Muslims, Gays, blacks, Asians or other ethnic minority groups. Today, in Europe, the main targets are Muslims.

    5) Through studying the history of the Nazi holocaust, we can often see embryonic forms and premonitions of its techniques today – ethnic labelling, ghetto formation, ethnic cleansing, etc. We can see aspects of this in Palestine today – but none of this has reached its ‘mature’ form of the horrors of the 1940’s.

    6) When people draw on the Nazi holocaust in analogy with the Palestinian tragedy, they can be motivated by a number of different reasons:

    i) An anti- Semitic attempt to belittle the suffering of the Jews in the Nazi holocaust, or an attempt to absolve the guilt of Europeans. However, this is not the only possible motivation, or the one prevalent on the anti-war protests.

    ii) A naive attempt to appeal to the moral conscience of Jewish supporters of Israeli state policy. This goes along the lines of “You know what it is to suffer persecution – how can you not empathise with the plight of the Palestinians?”. This is a well intentioned, but naive use of the holocaust analogy. It is naive firstly because the experience of oppression does not necessarily lead to a universal compassion – rather it can lead to paranoia and vengeance. Secondly, it can antagonise Jewish people, for the reasons given above.

    iii) A general, but misplaced attempt to find a language to describe the atrocities we witness today.

    * While the Nazi holocaust stands out as the greatest crime of our epoch – it is impossible to form some sort of ‘league table’ of the crimes of capitalism, racism and imperialism. Thus the African slave trade and the extermination of indigenous peoples in the America’s and Australasia – to name but two – also stand in a league of their own as bywords for capitalist genocide.

  138. Michael Rosen: do you *really* not understand what the cry of “Go back to New York” means in this context? No: I didn’t think you did. You’re not stupid, after all: simply a disgrace.

  139. “The new Israeli society, founded by committed Zionists who cared nothing for the rights of the Palestinians, was bolstered by Holocaust survivors from the DP camps that European countries didn’t want. Many Israelis today are their descendents. And if we tell them to go back to where “they came from”, we find addresses a bit less glamorous than New York – like Theresiensdadt, Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz – to name a few examples from left-wing Israelis I have met.”

    I agree that considering the persecution that Jewish people have faced historically, especially the fact that they have been persecuted as outsiders in many societies, that it isn’t helpful dwelling on the Zionists ruthless colonial policy in Palestine. They have colonised the region and now we must integrate all into a secular state. But it is important to point out that without this policy that the Zionists use in an attempt to validate Israel the Palestinians would not be in the predicament they are in nor would the Zionists have hegemony in the region.

    “a tiny bit of contrition over something they know should never have been said?”

    It’s not SWP policy and the SWP cannot and should not be accountable for every word or action of every comrade unless they are representing us in an official capacity. On the one hand we’re accused of being too controlling and on the other not controlling enough.

  140. external bulletin on said:

    “If anyone comes across anything anti-semitic at one of these events, then confront it immediately, don’t wait 24 hours and then post an inaccurate accusation on a website.”

    This is the truth of it. David was not remotely concerned with what he heard or he’d have had a word about it straight away.

  141. David Rosenberg on said:

    Kevin, Ray – thanks for responding. Whatever our political differences I’m sure we were at the demo for the same reasons and will be at the next Gaza demo for the same reasons.

    There was no intention on my part to be sardonic or act in a McCarthyesque manner. I was merely hoping for a recognition that allowing antisemitic statements into the discourse of the pro-Palestinian movement is wrong and is playing with fire.

    Kevin I share your desire to strengthen what you rightly describe as “a remarkable movement”. I’m sure you noticed that the demo yesterday and last week was bolstered by a number of Jewish organisations and individuals – a fact that directly undermines any attempts by Zionist leaders in Israel or the diaspora to claim that Jews in general are supporting this war. Surely that is something to be encouraged.

  142. “Michael Rosen: do you *really* not understand what the cry of “Go back to New York” means in this context? No: I didn’t think you did. You’re not stupid, after all: simply a disgrace.”

    Michael Rosen might be many things, including a good author and poet but he’s no disgrace, Jim. But cheers for trying to muddy the water by pursuing your sectarian agenda.

  143. Mark P on said:

    For what its worth I was standing close to that SWP stall at Speakers Corner. I know exactly who was on the microphone as he was a student at the same university as me some 30 years ago. He’s an extremely experienced SWP member, former full timer.

    I certainly hear him chant on the microphone ‘Destroy Capitalism , Destroy Israel.’ And I caught ‘Fuck Off Brown’ too. I didn’t hear ‘ Go Back to New York’ but them I was busy constructing a 19 foot by 10 foot ‘They Stole our Land ‘ banner at the time.

    The slogans I hear were puerile. Clearly approved by his fellow SWP members on the stall including the SWP National Secretary. If they were what this magnificent protest and embryonic mass movement of popular solidarity were built around then we’d have a problem. But thankfully they’re not, its just an SWP member mouthing off their puerile slogans, loud mouthedly. Nothing new about that is there?

    Mark P

  144. Karl Stewart on said:

    Some good points Barry (154),
    In my view, the more accurate historical parallell with today’s Israeli barbarism is that of the European settlers’ treatment of the indigenous American peoples during the 18th and 19th centuries.
    But, although comparing the brutal cruelty of today’s Israeli government and military with the barbaric acts of the nazis is not the most accurate historical comparison to use, there are some similarities in terms of attitudes.
    Nazi concepts of “untermenschen” and “libenstraum” in paerticular echo in today’s oppression of the Palestinans.
    And it is an outrageous – and utterly illogical – smear for the Israeli government’s apologists to accuse those using this comparison of being motivated by anti-semitism.

  145. chorister on said:

    David has the penny finally dropped that parts of the far left do not care about anti-semitism, and will seek to discredit a Jewish anti-Zionist socialist when he points it out?

    As you’ve pointed out, large numbers of Jews are opposed to this murder fest but according to some here, they’ll just have to put up with anti-semitism along the way if they want to be part of the movement.

  146. (Chorister, 138): “Where us the evidence tthat the Israeli government regards Palestonians as less than human in a way that is programmatically different to Britain and the US in Iraq?”

    “We must expel Arabs and take their places.”
    — David Ben Gurion, 1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985.

    Many more quotes from Zionist and Israeli politicians at: http://monabaker.com/quotes.htm

  147. “Kevin I share your desire to strengthen what you rightly describe as “a remarkable movement”. I’m sure you noticed that the demo yesterday and last week was bolstered by a number of Jewish organisations and individuals – a fact that directly undermines any attempts by Zionist leaders in Israel or the diaspora to claim that Jews in general are supporting this war. Surely that is something to be encouraged.”

    I agree with Kevin when he points out how remarkable this movement is considering the doldrums the left has been in recently. These unfortunate events have given a boost to the anti-war movement and I believe this will translate into other areas of struggle. Despite the horrors that the Palestinians must be experiencing I hope they are aware of the huge upsurge in their support around the world. If ever we need to work for unity among the left it is now.
    While I agree that we should welcome the many Jews who once might have been soft on Israel but are now coming out in support of the Palestinians I think we shouldn’t over egg this otherwise there is a danger that in an effort to please those who were once soft on Israel we dilute the politics of the movement. On the contrary, I think it’s important to have hard but fraternal discussions with them if we want to win them to the Palestinians cause if/when Israel withdraws from Gaza.

  148. chorister on said:

    And expelling Palestinians and taking their places is is so very much worse than the torture mutilation aerial bombardment mass slaughter and vast displacement of Iraqis that Zionists are Nazis and the British (who voted three times for Blair) are not? How come?

  149. chorister on said:

    No-one has said anything anti-semitic here, but a good few people have taken great umbrage at David Rosenberg drawing your attention to an anti-semitic remark made at the demo.

  150. external bulletin on said:

    “No-one has said anything anti-semitic here, but a good few people have taken great umbrage at David Rosenberg drawing your attention to an anti-semitic remark made at the demo.”

    People haven’t taken umbrage at an “anti-semitic remark”.

    Personally, I take umbrage at someone allowing remarks that they find offensive to go unchallenged and to then use them to bash the organisation after the event.

    I also take umbrage at the idea that if he’s an older black man, he must be [XXXXXXXXX]

  151. David Ellis on said:

    `In my view, the more accurate historical parallell with today’s Israeli barbarism is that of the European settlers’ treatment of the indigenous American peoples during the 18th and 19th centuries.’

    The difference there though Karl, and what eventually saved the Native Americans from total annihalation, was that the US was a secular liberal democracy at the time of capitalism’s youth and expansion. Of course, if that secular democracy was to fall to the right it is likely that that extermination will recomense along with other minorities including jews. Christian zionism is the likely form for US fascism which is why Sarah Palin’s emergence was such a shock for everyone and gave Obama such a huge victory. Israel acts in a fascistic way towards the palestinians but is not a fascist state. However, because of its exclusionary, colonialist ideology it will eventually feel the need to deal once and for all with the Palestinians. This siege and assault on Gaza could represent a dramatic step along that road especially if increased cruelty proves electorally successful.

  152. David I can understand that you may have been surprised and unprepared to confront anyone on the demo but may I suggest that in future you do attempt to have a discussion if you think an SWP comrade is shouting slogans you think are inappropriate.
    I can’t guarantee they will see it your way or agree with your concerns but at least you and we will have a better understanding of what was in dispute and the reasoning behind it. We all have varying levels of political experience and knowledge and through discussion they may learn something and visa versa. I hope this helps.

  153. chorister on said:

    So it’s your view that David Rosenberg calculatedly did not drew attention to the remark at the time, in order to attack the demonstration because he’s not really a supporter of the cause?

  154. chorister on said:

    Hold on – ‘what eventually saved the Native Americans from total annihilation, was that the US was a secular liberal democracy at the time of capitalism’s youth and expansion’

    This is the secular liberal democracy which embraced slave ownership?

  155. David Ellis on said:

    p.s. to my comment at #170.

    This is why I have always argued for a secular state covering Israel, Gaza and the West Bank which addresses the injustices done to Palestinians but why I also think that to achieve this the imperialist and large capitalist concerns behind Zionism will have to be dispropriated and the road to socialism embarked upon.

  156. Barry Kade on said:

    The troll at # 167 knows full well that we on the socialist left have:

    1) Organised protest movements against British and American wars against the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Ireland, Central and South America, the Balkans, and many more places.

    2) Organised resistance against the Nazi BNP and NF, anti-semitic racists and holocaust deniers.

    Our record is clear, and one to be proud of. Therefore we have the right to:

    3) Organise the current protest movement against the war crimes of the Israeli state in Gaza and the rest of Palestine.

    That’s our agenda. What is the anonymous troll’s agenda? Winding people up on this blog comments roll.

  157. David Ellis on said:

    #173 `This is the secular liberal democracy which embraced slave ownership?’

    And which was eventually compelled to reject it or become prematurely embroiled in existential contradictions. But capitalism is an exploitative system and it will never be able to get over that fact however liberal it is.

  158. Good to see that many are both astounded and aghast that someone from the SWP at the Gaza demo called for the destruction of Israel. Unfortunately Scottish PSC are following a similar line for their 25th January “ Holocaust Memorial Event”. The main speaker is controversial academic Azzim Tamimi, who is not only prepared to be a suicide bomber but he also proposes Israel be relocated to Germany.

  159. David Ellis on said:

    NORWEGIAN TRAIN DRIVERS STRIKE FOR GAZA

    On Thursday 8 January all trains in the whole of Norway, and
    all trams and subways in Oslo, stood still for two minutes in
    protest against the Israeli invasion. The union issued the
    following information for passengers:

    “Because of the situation in the Gaza Strip, the Locomotive
    Drivers Union in Norway has decided to demonstrate our
    solidarity with the Palestinian people. This will be organised
    by adding two more minutes of stoppage at the station. The
    same action applies to all passenger trains in Norway
    simultaneously. We demand the immediate withdrawal of all
    Israeli troops from the Palestinian territory. Thank you for
    your understanding”.

  160. “So it’s your view that David Rosenberg calculatedly did not drew attention to the remark at the time, in order to attack the demonstration because he’s not really a supporter of the cause?”

    Chorister, why don’t you take your unsophisticated trolling back to Harry’s Place? You’ll feel at home with the level at which they operate.

    “Good to see that many are both astounded and aghast that someone from the SWP at the Gaza demo called for the destruction of Israel.”

    Wrong Hugh! I support an end to Israel and so does the SWP and any anti-Zionist who wants to see justice for the Palestinians and a secular state. May I refer you to my advice to chorister above.

  161. “On Thursday 8 January all trains in the whole of Norway, and all trams and subways in Oslo, stood still for two minutes in protest against the Israeli invasion.”

    Thanks David, that’s great news. It’s always uplifting to hear about protests around the world.

  162. I think I have deleted all specific references by name of the SWP member to whom the New York comment was inaccurately attributed by David Isaacson.

  163. I find the tone of this discussion bizarre, clearly the SWP isn’t anti-semetic, it’s silly to say that they are. Is this some sort of macho compettion to show who knows the most obscure facts about the Nazi’s, and who can shout anti-semite the loudist. Anti-semitism is a real thing, falsely accusing people of racism shows that you don’t really care about it, or you’d take it a bit more seriously.

  164. David Rosenberg on said:

    I don’t particularly want to prolong this discussion as I think people have said what they want to say – and I think the points made from almost all angles on the Holocaust analogies have been very interesting and thought provoking (especially Barry Kade’s.

    A couple of clarifications: Karl Stewart/external bulletin (153/158) I didn’t sit on this for 24 hours then bring it up to embarrass the SWP. I was on the demo until late afternoon/early evening and posted it (originally on the other thread about Livingstone’s message) at 7.36 last night about half an hour after I got home. I copied it into this thread a bit later. So you are factually wrong about that and wrong about the motives you are imputing. If anyone embarrassed the SWP it was the member with the megaphone.

    Ray – you are absolutely right about when and where to confront these things. In nine cases out of ten I would have confronted it there and then. I have done this on other demos when necessary (fortunately it hasn’t often been necessary) – but oddly enough, like another poster here, I was putting up a banner at the time (Jewish Socialists’ Group) and standing about 30/40 yards away (and I didn’t have a megaphone in my hand).

    Maybe Kevin was nearer. Not sure why he didn’t confront it? You shouldn’t have to be a Jewish socialist to be offended by a comment like that and want to challenge it.

    Anyway, I sincerely hope that SWP comrades do chat to the member in question about it and it’s not repeated.

  165. Andy, #183 You missed #125 (you might also want to delete this comment once you’ve cleaned that up).

  166. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    David Rosenberg

    I think it would have been best if you stopped your last comment after the word “discussion”. Maybe you’ll agree in the cold light of day. I hope so.

    Now – the post we are commenting on is entitled a “Huge Protest For Gaza In London”. Perhaps it’s an idea that we migrate in that spirit to the discussion above.

  167. promi ferdousi on said:

    are there anymore upcoming protests or demonstrations taking place in london?
    I would want to go if there is.

  168. promi – as far as I know, there is a demonstration every Monday from 5.30pm outside the Israeli embassy, (much to the horror of local residents, who think that space should be reserved for their cars). In fact, I’m fairly certain there’ll be people protesting there every day, but you should contact Stop the War and ask someone there. There is also a permanent vigil outside parliament. There will be another national demonstration, but I sense that the priority at this point is to build for that and deepen the roots of the campaign in localities by holding meetings, leafleting, street rallies, vigils, etc.

  169. David, I had a discussion with you last May, outside Conway Hall, about participating in such demos with those who back Hamas.

    Can’t you see now why some of us are wary?

    Btw: what’s all this about Rees being heckled by anti-semites?

  170. re: what I know, what I ought to know and what I don’t know.

    Bloke sees supporters of Israel and shouts ‘Go back to New York’. (Is that exactly what happened here?)

    My point is this: as is often the case with ill-thought out yells, it’s not only wrong politically but it’s also wrong in its intention. That’s why I’m ‘confused’. He wasn’t shouting it at Israelis in Tel Aviv, he was shouting it at presumably British Jews, very few of whom again presumably come from New York. As it happens, (my jokey point) is that you’re not asking people to go back to Auschwitz (dear Dave), you’re saying New York!!! It’s an attempted slur that’s gone wrong, isn’t it? Thus my misguided gag about being ‘confused’. And anyway, I would quite like to live in New York. If someone said it to me, for a split second I might even think it was a compliment. ‘You should go to New York…’

    Again, presumably, our slurrer can’t say ‘go back to Israel’ (which would have been an old antisemitic slur) because that’s what zionists say anyway. (Of course their ‘go back to’ isn’t antisemitic…er…no, of course not.) So he wanted to say pissoff and had to think of a suitable ‘go away’ or ‘go back’. (my parents were of course always told to ‘go back to Russia’ both because that’s where Jews come from but also because they were commies). So he picks New York. No, whichever way I look at it, it’s the ‘go back’ bit that’s politically wrong, not the ‘New York’ bit.

    Jim Denham, how nice to hear from you again. You’ve been shy about telling us about the politics of the moment require that children need to be killed in Gaza. You are retiring violet aren’t you, old thing? Yours disgracefully (of course) M.R.

    Ray, (not sure what I should make of your ‘Michael Rosen might be many things’…blimey that could mean a lot…)

  171. I think the issue here is that there is a lack of awareness of the themes of anti-Semitism.

    In modern anti-Semitism New York represents symbollcally the centre of the alleged Jewish finance capital.

    Now as it happens, as a question of fact most of the ultra-Zionist settlers in the old city centre of Hebron in the West bank do actually come from New York – and these particular 300 settlers are guarded by an entire brigade of the IDF, and the massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs by Dr Baruch Goldstein was perpetrated by an ultra-Zionist from new York.

    I wrote about my own visit to hebron here: http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=215

    So the specific observation that some of the most problematic obstacles towards a peace settlement are ultra-Zionists from New York is true, who have formed illegal settlements in the West bank is true. And I inclined to believe that this is what the comrade is referring to.

    However, this shows the need to also be sensitive to anti-Semitism; because while the comment was certainly not intentionally anti-Semitic, it closely matches the language of people who are activley anti-Semitic – and therofore reingorces rather than challenges anti-Semitism.

    I fully appreciate that some of the people using the imagary that blurs the line between support for the palestinians and anti-Semitiem are simply naive and politically inexperienced. That is all the more reason for those of us who do recognise the danger of anti-Semitism to challenge those slogans and images.

  172. imatrot on said:

    David R you want some SWP members to admit if it was said then it shouldn’t have been and then you claim no on has done so… please reread the comments and you will see such sentiment said a few times including from johnG

  173. David Rosenberg on said:

    Andy, I think you are very charitably giving a level of sophistication to what was shouted. These were throwaway, lowest common denominator headlines – not analytical points. Of course there are settlers from New York and other parts of the USA, but there are also home-grown Israeli settlers almost as zealous and the Israeli government builds their houses and roads for them and guards them.

    Mike, I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick about the context. This was not being shouted at Jews or Israelis – this was being shouted at the crowd of anti-war demonstrators in general presumably as appropriate slogans they should identify with and make their own.

    As a socialist and an anti-racist I think the slogan “Go back to New York or wherever you come from” – clearly meaning the people who happen to live in Israel – is wrong and outrageous, promotes a reactionary solution and, in this context encourages antisemitism.

    The Jews of Israel enjoy privileges over Palestinians and other non-Jewish minorities in Israel accorded by the racist policies of the Israeli state. And the job of socialists is to challenge those privileges – not deal with it through demanding the ethnic cleansing of those who benefit from Zionist policies.

    Like other societies Israeli society is divided by class and many other other fissures (not least secular versus religious). Nearly 20% of Israeli society are made up of Palestinians – many of whom are making common cause with progressive Israelis against the war on Gaza and for Israel to become a state for all its citizens with full equality.

    On the 10,000 strong demo in Tel Aviv last week they had a good set of slogans to chant through megaphones such as:
    Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies! Enough Enough – speak with Hamas! Stop the Killing stop the siege end the occupation!

    Bit more useful more politically advanced than the one being complained about don’t you think?

  174. But Andy, aforesaid geezer saying ‘Go back to NewYork’ wasn’t addressing settlers in the old city of Hebron. He was talking to (presumably) some British Jews waving Israeli flags??? (note, I’m not saying it was right for him to be shouting this, I’m just saying that he’s not only ‘wrong’ but also he’s got his abuse ‘wrong’. It’s alright, I won’t push this for much longer, it’s just that people seem to be treating this as something said to Israelis. Were they Israelis? And, as I’ve said, the ‘go back to’ bit is said over and over again to all Jews re Israel. New York, centre of ‘Jewish finance’ bit…I thought the slurrer was saying that New York a Jewish city…ie ‘isn’t that where Jews live/ought to live/really live?’ Wasn’t that what he was trying to say? But maybe it was the finance slur. OK.

  175. We’ve cross posted, Dave. Ah, I’m beginning to get the ‘context’. This was a general utterance to those who live in Israel, thrown into the air as an ‘appropriate’ thing to shout on the demo? ie ‘You Jewish Israelis should go back to New York etc etc’. I had understood that it was said to counter-demonstrators and that he had got his target wrong as well as his politics. My mistake.

    I will concentrate harder.

  176. David T on said:

    Michael – I owe you an apology.

    I think you were genuinely spoofed by that faux email, and that you weren’t disseminating it in bad faith.

    So, I am sorry.

  177. #199. Would-be street-fighting rubbish. Overlooks at least one steward (me) being caught in the logjam, being pulled free and then helping people out of a crowd pile-up that at one point was turning into another Hillsborough.

  178. Well excuse me for not seeing you (whoever you are) while I was being crushed against barriers held up by your mates and the cops.

  179. oho ho ho, can this be the same David T (expert on good and bad faith) who called both me and Owen Hatherley ‘SWP activists’ though neither of us are? Sympathisers/hangers-on/fellow travellers/dupes/ perhaps – I can take all the usual jibes, but ‘activist’? To suggest that someone (ie me) who doesn’t even organise a fart sale at the local gasworks is an ‘activist’ is an insult to real activists. And is this the same David T., who wrote to the Times to say that ‘Hamas supporter’ Michael Rosen, was the person circulating this email? Which bit of this drech is he wanting to apologise for, I wonder? What am I bid?

  180. Well, I doubt if I will ever be a demo steward again after Saturday. I also doubt if I will ever be drawn to what sounds to me like the gangsta poseurs of “Permanent Revolution”, either.

    The cops probably will not allow demos anyway, unless the organisers undertake to have stewards at them. So without stewards, we can have a world of illegal demos where Bill J and his kind can pretend to be Action Man, with the likely consequences for themselves. Which I will respect them for, if the militancy has some real substance behind it. But more likely the militancy is for cyberspace only.

  181. Here’s what happened.

    There was a massive crowd gathered outside the Israeli Embassy. It was attacked by the cops. As a result it was pushed back. Causing a terrible crush against crash barriers at the back. Those people being crushed asked the stewards to open the barriers to let them out.

    What did the stewards do?

    Hold the barriers up with the cops to stop them from falling over ensuring people got crushed even more and could not escape the police attack.

    Is that not criminally irresponsible?

  182. David T on said:

    I am sorry I thought that you’d composed an fake email, trying to “cancel” a demonstration you disagreed with. I thought you had been part of the group that circulated the email, and were posting in on a variety of online fora, including SU and HP.

    You are a Hamas supporter, are you not? I saw you at a rally on Saturday at which multiple speakers, including the ‘host’ declared their support for Hamas.

    Here’s Tamimi doing it:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=V3D8F-2Iujk

    If you’re opposed to Hamas, I apologise for that, too.

    Are you?

  183. I think that the way to deal with anti-imagery and slogans is to challenge it there and then, as marchers. We shouldn’t rely on the march organisers to do it, both because they won’t, and because, as socialists, are modus operandi shouldn’t be calling down powers from on high to sort things out, but instead to deal directly with people.

  184. David T., if there are things you don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, then it’s probably unwise to lash out. As it happens, I suspect you do understand quite clearly how demonstrations work. Coalitions between groups who hold to similar positions on the issue at hand get together and hold a demo. Platforms are put together made up of leaders or representatives of those differing groups. One slogan united everyone on that day, something along the lines of ‘Israel out of Gaza’ but of course views on how that should come about differ widely. Every single ‘issue’ demo is like this. You may remember the ‘Countryside’ march some years ago. On it there were of course some BNP-ers and Greens and all sorts. I wouldn’t call any individual on that march ‘greens’ or ‘tories’ or ‘BNP-ers’ or any such thing on the basis of who was represented. And how typical of you to try the old Harry’s Place inquisition method of firing off ‘yes/no’ questions and demanding that they’re answered because you, David T., demand that they be answered! Bless.

  185. David T on said:

    Well, all I can say is that I was very upset on Friday. I had just found out that guy who lives down the road from my dad was beaten quite badly, very clearly because he was jewish. I wasn’t on particularly good form, and so I’m sorry.

    PS: Yeah, I know. But there are some groups I know you wouldn’t appear on a platform with, even if they agreed with you on some issues. Anyhow…

  186. #204 – I didn’t see stewards do that, any more than you apparently saw me get crushed and trying to pull people out when I broke free. Anyway, you seem to be gyrating between associating the stewards with the police while you do your gangsta, lefter-than-thou spiel, and accusing the stewards of being “criminally irresponsible”. An odd choice of phrase for a blood and guts and veins in his teeth revolutionary. Make up your mind. If you want things to kick off at a huge demo against the Israeli embassy, and your website gives that impression to me, there is a chance people will get killed or injured. You seem to want your Action Man posturing but heaven forbid that crime should occur.

  187. Kent&CanterburyDan on said:

    The stewards i saw on the march did a fantastic job in difficult circumstances. The numbers were far greater than expected and the aggresiveness of the police well notched up a level.

    I was caught at what I presume to be the back door to the embassy when the riot cops deployed. They were extremely aggressive, making several charges into the crowd and trying to further bottleneck the crowd. It was only the appearance of StWC stewards who stopped the old bill from making further charges and allowed us to pass. As we passed I leant over to tell one of the cops he was a “fucking disgrace”, the only response from the steward in front of him was a wry smile and the response “you tell him, mate”. Far from assissting the old bill or restraining the demonstrators, the stewards were effectively restraining the old bill and protecting us.

  188. #211. Brevity is the soul of wit. Or witlessness, in your case.
    You can’t seem to make up your mind whether stewards are cops or criminals.

  189. What gives you that impression?
    I haven’t said a good word about them.
    I would expand but you don’t seem to get the message whatever its length.

  190. I don’t understand this at all. Many of the stewards I saw on Saturday were chanting anti-zionist slogans as they were trying to do a very difficult job. You might argue, on certain occasions, that the leadership of this, or that, demonstration have been a bit too accommodating to the police (I’m not making this allegation about Saturday’s demo, I should emphasise) – but most stewards just volunteer to help and then they do as they are instructed on the day by the campaign leadership. But stewards are not part of “the enemy”, are they? For goodness sake!

  191. Dear Koba on said:

    Stckwell Pete

    I think you have missed the point that Bill J is a GREAT REVOLUTIONARY HERO, who would have been in there mixing it with the cops and unleashing reighteous retribibution on the Israeli embassy staff. He wanted to lead the revolutionary youth is an assault on the embassy.

    But the people in the orange stewards bibs wouldn’t let him, and he was also a bit worried he might get hurt.

    We have indeed heard on a prevous thread about the anti-BNP demo in Liverpool from a divinity student at manchester University who can testify that in PERMANENT REVOLUTION SHOCK TROOPS OF THE PROLETARIAT, Bill is known as an experiended ANTI-FASCIST FIGHTER.

    He is well hard; and the British workers movement have found their Che. But sadly, he can only exercise his prowess in the fanatasy world that he and his deluded fellow thinkers have created for themselves.

  192. #216

    Ha-ha-ha!! Andy, I actually have quite a bit of time for Bill’s PR group. I know some of the comrades here in Lambeth. But on Saturday, I was at the front of the march with my photographer mate and the stewards were doing their best. They did seem very young to me as well. There may have been mistakes made during the demo by some stewards in particularly difficult circumstances around the embassy but the situation was so crushed and dangerous that it would have been a very tough proposition for very experienced stewards to cope with. The main culprits were the police, not the stewards.

  193. Well, stewards are not seen as cops by the police (based on personal experience) and they are not seen as demonstrators by people like Bill J., even though they are – I would argue a selection from the more responsible section of the demonstrators.

    “But most stewards just volunteer to help and then they do as they are instructed on the day by the campaign leadership. But stewards are not part of “the enemy”, are they? For goodness sake!” Well, that was exactly my situation. I was told to keep the crowd moving in front of the embassy. The fact is that a bottleneck developed because fewer and fewer people were inclined to listen to me and the handful of stewards, and more and more inclined to stop there in front of the embassy despite our attempts to move them on. I suspect that there were more than a few Bill J. thinkalikes contributing to this situation (judging from the people who said slightly stronger things than “cobblers” to me when I tried to move them along). If somebody had been crushed to death by the press of people, they would presumably have blamed the stewards, the police, God… Everyone but themselves.

  194. #216. Indeed. He could have brushed aside the stewards, punched his way through the demonstrators at the front of that gate (who to my eyes seemed to be mostly Islamists, not the left) leaped over the embassy barrier, seen off the riot cops with contemptuous ease, his Superman-type cape with “B” on the back flapping in the cold wind… Padded up to the Zionist headquarters…
    And been riddled with Uzi fire by the Mossad staffers.

  195. The subject of 209 deserves a thread of its own and I suspect not many people are still reading this. I’ll just say a few words. The issue of Jews in Britain (or anywhere else in the world outside of Israel) being attacked is of course a serious matter. Some observations:

    1. There is a battle going on. People are being killed. There are two sides to this battle: Gazans and Israelis. The battle is part of a war: Palestinians and Israelis. This war has pathways and roots to a much wider conflict: the USA and other western countries and control of the the areas resources.

    2. One aspect of these battles, wars and conflicts is the nature of the Israeli state. Its own claim is that it is a ‘Jewish’ homeland ie a home for all Jews. Jews everywhere are appealed to for support, to visit Israel and indeed to migrate to their ‘homeland’.

    3. It is small wonder therefore that many people all over the world see Israel in the very terms it describes itself – the Jewish homeland/the Jews’ homeland/the Jews’ country. Therefore it’s no surprise that there may be some confusion about this – is Israel the place where all Jews think they ‘should’ live? Really want to live? Are their loyalties divided? To tell the truth some Jews behave ambivalently about these matters too and will often say, they are entitled to do so, so we can hardly blame non-jews who are confused about the matter too.

    4. At times of severe conflict as of now, plenty of people around the world get seriously angry and despairing. On the side of those who support Israel, there is a great deal of talk about ‘dealing’ with the enemy. This side casts the ‘enemy’ in the role of the historic persecutors of the Jews, including Hitler and the Nazi regime. Jews are called upon to stand together and show solidarity with Israel, which in a sitation as of today is to all intents and purposes asking for solidarity with Israel’s right to deliver mass murder and destruction on one of the poorest groups of people in the world.

    On the other side, those who oppose Israel, look to wider explanations of how come Israel can deliver such levels of destruction and death on the peoples of the area and there are two broad routes the explanation can take: material or mystical. The material route looks to the United States as the armer and bankroller of Israel. The mystical route looks to the nature of ‘the Jew’. There are of course ‘explanations’ found in a combination of the two – the mystical power of the Jew has captured the material power of the US and is waging a war on the peoples of the middle east/the world in order to get world power for…the Jews.

    5. Anyone influenced to think along the last two lines will find it comparatively easy to see what’s going on as a problem with ‘the Jews’ and so when faced with ‘a Jew’, this person is easily seen as part of ‘the jews’ a quasi racial group acting collectively in its own interests everywhere.

    6. I don’t think that zionism is without cause (or blame, if one prefers) in the construction of this notion. Zionism demands that all Jews should adhere to a mystical entity ‘the Jews’. Zionism wages wars so that a Jewish state (ie ‘the Jews’ in Israel) can indeed exist for the benefit of the Jews in that part of the world. (It’s certainly not for anyone else’s benefit.)

    7. Ironically, it’s non-zionist and anti-zionist Jews who are the very best placed to point out the contradictions in the argument about ‘the Jews’ of the whole world acting in concert for their own interests. We are evidence that this is not the case. We diverge from and dissent with the mainstream zionist line. We are Jews who are not ‘the Jews’ in this instance. And of course in other instances (eg over diet, or observance) there are Jews who are not ‘the Jews’ but are their kinds of Jew. Again ironically, this leads some people from the mainstream position t declare that therefore we antizionist Jews are not real Jews. This is both an easy get-out for them, and also a way of trying to win dominance over all Jews by declaring us apostate, or outside or outlawed.

    However, even as they say this, Israel itself faces one problem above all others, demography. This is not just a matter of relative birthrates between Jewish and non-Jewish populations, but also a matter of bringing in enough Jewish immigrants and keeping enough Jews from leaving. There is a new diaspora of Israelis round the world numbering nearly a million. Whatever their beliefs, these are a new kind of non-zionist: the Israeli Jews who don’t want to be Israeli. They too are part of the equation that will eventually lead to a just settlement in the Middle East.

  196. chorister on said:

    If anti or non Zionist Jews were a majority that might wash, but since the rest of the world sees that most Jews are Zionist, not actively hostile to Israel’s existence, or in the case of the Satmar, waiting for the messianic era to establish the Jewish state, they assume that if not all Jews are Zionists, a majority either are, or don’t call for the dissolution of Israel.

    As for the new disppra of Israelis, what evidence have you that they don’t want to be Israeli?

  197. please can ani1 tell me where the pictures to this event have been put…as if a recall myself 1 of the speakers at the first rally at hyde park said they will put it on a websyt.

    thanks in advance

  198. re 221 – I’m not sure what point you’re making. Yes, of course the majority of Jews around the world are zionists. I thought I said as much when I described that position as ‘mainstream’ and that the zionist position is that all Jews should be zionists. Perhaps I didn’t spell it out. The majority of the world’s Jews are zionist.

    New diaspora of Israelis. They left. They chose to leave. They are ex-zionist settlers. Perhaps some say they are still zionist in which case it’s just about the most contradictory thing you can do if that’s how you see yourself. I’ve met a few Israelis, they have been either actively anti-zionist or people who’ve (in their own words) ‘given up on Israel’ or ‘given up on zionism’.

    Can you spell out where you’re going with your part of the argument? It’s possible to take what you’re saying as ‘therefore it’s OK to attach a Jew in Birmingham or San Francisco because there’s every chance he or she is a zionist.’ Presumably, you’re not saying that. Or are you?

  199. Chorister on said:

    I’m sayingbthat I don’t think that ant- zionists are large enough in number to defeat ant- semitism single handed and those who have a bee in their bonnets about Jews will not make the distinction between Jews and zionists you’re looking for when they perceive most Jews to be zionists. My point is your strategy won’t work unless you’re just trying to save your own skins and let the Zionist majority take the rap.

  200. David Rosenberg on said:

    Mike, I agree with a lot of what you said in 220 but when you say that:
    “Ironically, it’s non-zionist and anti-zionist Jews who are the very best placed to point out the contradictions in the argument about ‘the Jews’ of the whole world acting in concert for their own interests.”
    that is true, but any thought out socialist or anti-fascist, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, ought to be on the ball over this argument too and ready to have the argument with those who allow their anti-Zionism to cross over into antisemitism.

    And people from a party that has played such a prominent role in anti-fascist activity here in the last 30 years should probably know more than most that fascism succeeds by diverting people’s legitimate anger, frustrations and sense of powerlessness against the wrong targets leaving the real oppressors unharmed.

    That’s why the comment was not only wrong, but the person making it should have known better. And why Kevin O’s attempts to deflect the issue are reprehensible. FFS – he’s not even subject to the discipline of the SWP CC anymore!

    Of course Zionists would love to deflect condemnation of their war on the Palestinians by branding their opponents antisemites. We don’t need to score own goals.

    The other point, Mike, is that you are ovrestimating the general Jewish support for Israel/zionism. A few years ago, Zionists packed out Trafalgar square and its environs with 55,000 people saluting israel. last Sunday- in a war situation they could barely muster 4,000.

    The number of hard-line totally committed Zionists is small and has been decreasing since the Lebanon war of 82. There are still lots of Jews who are reflexively pro-israel in an amorphous general sense but increasing numbers of them are embarrassed, disgusted and alienated by Israel’s behaviour.

    These were the people the Zionists tried to mobilise last week – and failed miserably, (there are upwards of 200,000 Jews in London) and who knows how many Christian fundamentalist meshiggeners were among that paltry crowd?

  201. Nor can it be assumed everyone at the Zionist rally was even there to support it.
    I considered going to the Zionist rally to check it out, going behind enemy lines, in a manner of speaking. If I didn’t wear Palestinian badges or my scarf, I would have been able to blend in OK. I did not do so in the end because the rally was relatively early and I needed time to recover from stewarding the previous day – I would never have got to central London until the rally was over. But perhaps others with similar intentions did.

  202. David Ellis on said:

    `Of course Zionists would love to deflect condemnation of their war on the Palestinians by branding their opponents antisemites. We don’t need to score own goals.’

    Where are the `own goals’ that have been pointed out by anyone but you? This hobby horse must be knackered by now surely.

  203. David Rosenberg on said:

    David E – it’s not a hobby horse but a genuine concern expressed by an anti-Zionist who has been active in pro-Palestine work since the 1980s and vilified by Zionists/Jewish community “leaders” for dong so, and continues to be active.

    Those who wish to discredit and undermine the current movement have been displaying photos on various sites that show many examples where unfortunately anti-Zionism has crossed a line into antisemitism. And we know why they are doing it. But the photos are not fakes.

    W can bury our heads in the sand or trivialise it – at present I am sure it is a small minority. But I think a more mature and principled response would be that while we are united in campaigning in every possible way for the Israeli bombardment to stop, we should be be vigilant.

    When necessary we need to challenge antisemitism as wrong in itself and as a factor weakening our movement that hands propaganda victories to our enemies.

  204. David: “There are still lots of Jews who are reflexively pro-israel in an amorphous general sense but increasing numbers of them are embarrassed, disgusted and alienated by Israel’s behaviour.”

    Quite so, and this is also why it is wrong to put so much emphasis on the “smash Israel” type of argument. An argument that by the way has very little real resonance in palestine themselves.

    The biggest problem for hard line Zionism would be people holding Israel to account and expecting a just peace settlement – and our movement should not expliciitly nor implicitly exclude those who support the right of israel to exist, but who have no affinity for the policies or practice of actually existing Israel.

  205. David Ellis on said:

    `Those who wish to discredit and undermine the current movement have been displaying photos on various sites that show many examples where unfortunately anti-Zionism has crossed a line into antisemitism. And we know why they are doing it. But the photos are not fakes.’

    Go to those sites and argue your case then where anti-semitism is being displayed. There is none here. Unless you equate debating and comparing the crimes of zionism to those of the Nazis, apartheid, 18th and 19th Century colonialism, to anti-semitim or that saying that there can be no negotiated settlement between the zionist state and the Palestinians only between the Palestinians and the secular, socialist and democratic forces in Israel is anti-semitic.

    That some joker on a megaphone said something about `go back to New York’ which, as Michael Rossen I think pointed out isn’t anti-semitic but was aimed at yuppie land thieves who couldn’t make it in America and not the holocaust survivors (you compared them) many of whom were kidnapped by the zionists to lend legitimacy to their robber state, is being used to impose a pro-war `left’ style discipline on the marchers and protesters is ridiculous. It won’t wash. David R: it would be useful if you could say whether you think anybody on here is an anti-semite or if you think the SWP is anti-semite.

    At the moment Andy attracting pro-zionist jews to our side is not the priority. It is to expose and oppose this atrocity in the fullest manner possible. If that isn’t enough to make them anti-zionist then tough. But at least you realise it is a matter of political emphasis rather than a question of anti-semitism.

  206. Green Socialist on said:

    There is a difference between being an anti-semite and coming out with stuff that can be seen to be antisemitic.

    Why give the Zionist right the ammunition to beat us with?

  207. David Ellis on said:

    First they came for the Hamas flags, then they came for the holoacaust/apartheid/colonialism analogy banners, then they came for those neat little PSC Stop the Gaza Massacre placards (because everybody’s committed massacres not the just Israelis so it was deemed anti-semitic), then they came for the people who just wanted peace. Finally when there was nobody left the demonstrators simply shouted: Victory to Israel.

    Green Socialist: you seem to want the zionists to set the parameters of our debates. They will find ammunition where ever they want to.

  208. David Rosenberg on said:

    Agree with your points in 230, Andy. The PLO which led the struggle for Palestinian Liberation for decades knew that it could not wish away the population of Israel and that the problem was not people anyway, it was the laws that privileged one people over another, whether it was land law, the right of return etc – and the liberation struggle was to take away those priveleges and bring about self-determination and equality for everyone in the area. of course that would involve the dismantling of the structures of Zionism.

    Now that aim can be articulated in sophisticated or simple terms, but “destroy Israel” and demnding that citizens of Israel (through an accident of birth), “go back to New York or wherever they came from” is a different demand entirely.

    David E – Mike Rosen acknowledged at 197 that he had misunderstood the context in which this was said through a megaphone ie it was shouted towards the demonstrators as slogans they should identify with and make their own. And in my book, far from being revolutionary they are deeply reactionary.

    BTW I think we all know here the crimes that Zionism has committed but “kidnapping holocaust survivors” was not one of them. The “robust” immigration and refugee policies of the Western powers after the holocaust, meant even many non-zionist and anti-Zionist jewish survivors had palestine as pretty much the only option. if there was a crime committed there it was by our government and similar ones.

  209. David Ellis on said:

    `The “robust” immigration and refugee policies of the Western powers after the holocaust, meant even many non-zionist and anti-Zionist jewish survivors had palestine as pretty much the only option. if there was a crime committed there it was by our government and similar ones.’

    Well, that is what I meant by `kidnapping’. The collusion of the zionist movement with US imperialism from the very beginning to give holocaust survivors no choice but to go to Israel. The same thing happened again with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US quotas suddenly put on jewish immigration thereby directing them into Israel and on to Palestinian land. I understand there is a great deal of resentment of Israel amongst the recent Russian immigrants for that reason.

  210. The “Jewishness” of some of the Russians allowed to make aliyah seems to be notional. There was a scandal when some of them were found to have formed a neo-Nazi group. Still, they are considered to be higher up the Israeli food chain than Palestinians.

  211. Lobby Ludd on said:

    #236 – Faust, shut up. It is irrelevant that dodgy characters have the ‘right of return’.

  212. I don’t see how it is irrelevant that a Russian neo-Nazi has more rights in Palestine than a Palestinian.

    These are intemperate times, so I will forgive you for telling me to shut up. I think we are basically on the same side.