Halfway Around the World Before the Truth Has Got Its Boots on

by Kevin Ovenden

Here’s an illustrative little tale. Last Sunday’s Observer carried an inaccurate report of what George Galloway said at the pro-Palestine demonstration. It claimed:

In one of several speeches delivered in Kensington Gardens, George Galloway, leftwing MP for the Respect party, called on protesters to go to shopping centres and “shut down Israel’s shops” in what was believed to be a reference to retailers, including Marks & Spencer, which have come under fire for selling Israeli-sourced goods.

Cue the predictable claims of George inciting Kristalnacht against M&S and baring his supposedly anti-Semitic fangs.

The Observer were contacted by phone swiftly on Sunday morning and, following a conversation with a journalist who promised quick remedial action, by email at around 10.30am:

the email pointed out that:

1) the quote attributed is wrong. Mr Galloway spoke of “Israel shops” The language is precise. There are in the two shopping malls he mentioned mobile retailers called “Israel Shops”, which are staffed by Israelis and promote Israeli/West Bank goods – Dead Sea skin products etc. Mr Galloway was being extremely careful to focus his comments precisely.

2) not only did Mr Galloway not intend to refer generally to retailers he is on film the night before speaking in the London Muslim Centre explicitly and categorically stating that Marks & Spencer should NOT be boycotted, explaining that it is a public company owned by shareholders like any other and has nothing to do with Israel. This is a very sensitive area, where innuendo and mishearing can have dangerous consequences. (It is highly regrettable that the reporters seek to explicate what they think Mr Galloway meant by passively referring to what unnamed people might believe, in fact groundlessly given the misquote.)

We are insisting on an immediate online correction to the story and a suitably prominent correction in the next edition of the Observer. In our view, this piece can be easily read to impute motives and beliefs to Mr Galloway which, if they were true, would be considered reprehensible by the right thinking public. They are not true.

For reasons that have nothing to do with the failings of any individual employee but which do reveal a complacent and supercilious culture at the paper, it took several unanswered phone calls, emails and voicemail messages before the following online correction was finally made on Tuesday evening – nearly three days after the false story first appeared. It said,

This article was amended on 13 January 2009. We reported that George Galloway MP had called for a boycott of ‘Israel’s shops’. This was incorrect. He called for a boycott of Israel Shops, mobile retailers who operate in shopping malls selling Israeli goods.

As well as being ungracious there was no acknowledgement that it was at the very least unwise for the journalists who wrote the story to throw in what they thought might be believed to be the meaning of words which they had misheard and hadn’t take the time to check with either George or someone authoritative.

As I say, this is a relatively trivial matter – though right wing websites have had a field day and naturally won’t disseminate a correction that has come so very late in the day.

I live in hope, though, that this episode might further caution people who are genuinely on the left but sceptical of George and Respect from believing just about every bit rubbish about him churned out in the corporate media.

73 comments on “Halfway Around the World Before the Truth Has Got Its Boots on

  1. christian h. on said:

    Let’s hope it is relatively trivial. We might well hear years from now that it’s well-known Galloway wants Jewish shops boycotted etc. It’s probably a good thing Galloway has proved before he doesn’t take stuff like this lying down – otherwise, they might never have corrected it.

  2. I boycott Israeli goods, I’m not actually clear about boycotting shops, as I wouldn’t know which ones to boycott, is there a guide? I’m also careful to boycott goods that say Westbank, as I think that’s a way of selling Israeli goods undercover.

    Also, I couldn’t live without M&S organic choc drops.

  3. Joseph Kisolo on said:

    Sadly Zoe while “West Bank” may be a a way of selling Israeli goods, it is also true that Palestinian goods are sometimes sold marked as Israeli.

    On boycotting M&S, personally I don’t think its a particularly effective tool but I think we have to be careful to make sure that we defend those who do call for a boycott of M&S against claims of anti-semitism.

  4. frenetic on said:

    When are people in Respect and the SWP going to do something about what is happening here in the Uk as well as international issues, tomorrow the Welfare Reform Bill (the second one in two years) gets its reading, the LRC, John Mcdonell, etc have vowed to fight it, ‘tooth and nail’ but where is the anger from the far left? Again, i ask , how many public meetings have there been organised by the SWP/Respect to challenge these reforms which will impact on millions? There is no other left in the EU like the UK one, in most of the EU there is uproar and concerted action by left formations, but not here, why?

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/britain/labour_movement_pledges_to_fight_draconian_welfare_bill

  5. Annie Besant on said:

    M&S does sell goods marked ‘Made in Israel’ especially clothing. I always look at the label inside and put them back, even if I want to buy them… which is admittedly rare these days at this shop.

  6. David Rosenberg on said:

    Boycotting Israeli produce is a peaceful political activity that all supporters of the Palestinians can engage in, in every major city in the country, and can be a focus for awareness raising among the general shopping public.

    Israeli goods are available in many supermarkets, owned by capitalists – non-Jews and Jews.

    Some campaign groups do single out M&S from all of these stores. M&S is well known as a very longstanding Jewish firm, established a the turn of the 20th century which ironically has branches throughout many countries in the Arab world which are formally in opposition to Israel. So for various reasons, that should not be one to focus on alone.

    In terms of deeper political campaigning I think we have to target the companies that are actually making the weaponry that Israel is using in its onslaught on Gaza. I read recently that Israel bought £18million worth of weaponry from UK companies in the first three months of 2008 – anyone know which companies?

    There have been good campaigns, which must continue, against Caterpillar who manufacture the bulldozers used by the Israeli authorities for house demolitions.

    BTW I am skeptical of George, though, not because of the rubbish churned out about him by the corporate media, more from observing his fawning attitude towards the late Saddam Hussein, who butchered the Iraqi left, his work for Iranian state television under Ahmedinijad’s regime, his attitude to abortionetc.

    His support for the oppressed as expressed in his unswerving support for the Palestinians ought to go hand in hand with support for trade unionists and left-wing opponents of the Iranian state.

  7. Lobby Ludd on said:

    David R said:

    “M&S is well known as a very longstanding Jewish firm, established a the turn of the 20th century which ironically has branches throughout many countries in the Arab world which are formally in opposition to Israel. So for various reasons, that should not be one to focus on alone.”

    I’m not sure what you mean. ‘Not one to focus on alone’ – are you suggesting that M&s should be boycotted (along with others), and if so why?

  8. imatrot on said:

    I was in the audience and i heard Israeli shops, and i took it to mean shops that stocked Israeil goods, but i am from Oz so didn’t get the reference to Israel Shops that Kevin Ovendon says Galloway meant. Maybe speaking at a large rally to thousands of (noisy) people is not necessarily the time for nuanced comment as they can easily be misheard and misrepresented… the AL Gore created the internet saga being a case in point. Altough have to say his speech was the highlight of all the speechs that day, great use of the two key features of speechmaking repetition and illiteration; boring lefty speakers can learn a thing or two from him!

  9. imatrot: I don’t think “boring lefty speakers” fits George Galloway. As for the rest, the Observer journalists started talking about what they thought was believed to be the meaning. Time for a refresher course. As for the former RCP leader – that’s just a clear libel in the Murdoch press, even under Australian law. Quite expensive.

  10. imatrot on said:

    Nas that was exactly the point i was trying to make… maybe read it again… ‘boring lefty speakers can learn a thing or two from him” pretty clear really.

  11. David Rosenberg on said:

    Lobby Ludd – I’m saying that there is a good argument for boycotting Israeli produce as a protest against the war in Gaza and continuing occupation of the West Bank. Boycotting every shop that stocks Israeli goods is impractical, but boycotting Israeli produce is possible. M&S and most supermarkets sell Israeli produce, so I don’t see why it should be excluded from boycott activities.

    On the other hand any attempt to focus on a longstanding Jewish firm alone, whose reputation was established several decades before Israel came into existence, might reasonably be considered suspect.

  12. Lobby Ludd on said:

    Fair enough, David. But it is worth clarifying that there is are many differences in boycotting ‘Israeli goods’, versus shops that sell ‘Israeli goods’ and versus ‘Israeli businesses’ (whatever that means).

    In terms of trade between UK and Israel, I’d have thought that UK exports to Israel would be the best target for action.

  13. David Rosenberg on said:

    re 17: especially arms, and also tackling Israel’s privileged access to markets via the EU

  14. Apologies, Imatrot. It was the proximity of Al Gore to the word “him”. I got the wrong end of the stick.

  15. David Rosenberg: “his work for Iranian state television under Ahmedinijad’s regime”. Oh really? Who needs Frank Furedi when we have you?

    I think your problem, David, is that you place your own qualms above the actual movement. Hence your exaggerated response to a tiny number of comments and placard on Saturday. I just find it living in the comfort zone, I’m afraid.

  16. frenetic on said:

    ‘I think your problem, David, is that you place your own qualms above the actual movement. Hence your exaggerated response to a tiny number of comments and placard on Saturday. I just find it living in the comfort zone,’

    What a pathetic comment, the ‘ends justifies the means’, eh, now where I have we heard that before?,
    Btw, there have been firebombings in Whitechapel, physical attacks on jews have been occurring, on the Commercial Road, a Tesco supermarket had the windows smashed and “KILL JEWS” daubed on the walls in paint.

    I hope any decent human being puts his or her qualms on these matters ‘above the movement’

  17. ‘ends justifies the means’ – don’t be silly and so frenetic. Can we have the evidence please about firebombings in Whitechapel? Whereabouts is this Tesco on the Commercial Road? I don’t know of one.

    This is serious stuff, frenetic. You will be expected to stand up every single bit of it.

  18. ahhhhh: the Times and the CST. But, frenetic – what about East London? What’s the scale of pogrom there?

  19. …you know, the firebombings in Whitechapel, frenetic. Could you provide evidence of them please?

  20. You see, frenetic, this thread is about an East London MP who’s being defamed as an anti-Semite. And you identified a string of very serious anti-Semitic incidents in that MP’s constituency. So, care to elaborate?

  21. frenetic on said:

    this is the last link i will post,. if these were attacks on Muslims or ethnic minorities they would quite rightly be all over the left media and action would be taken.

  22. I see, frenetic. Thank you. So you agree with the Met?

    And if these had been attacks on Muslim-owned shops by neo-nazis, I’m sure you’d be sneering at the evidence in precisely the same way.

  23. I’m surprised the Observer even offered a correction given the tape of Galloway’s speech is ambiguous, and the mistake was clearly his for being unbelievably reckless. How could you make a big play of shouting your head off about some unknown shops, apparently in two shopping malls but nobody has heard of them, and then claim it’s the press’ fault for misinterpreting you? Clearly the blame lies with Galloway.

    And this is different to Galloway’s other gaffes in that these weren’t gaffes at all. For instance, he meant to tell Muslims in east London – a hotbed of Islamist extremism where many plots have gone from – that they were at war with the British state. That wasn’t a mistake. This was different to that.

  24. Inigo Montoya on said:

    What, has there been an increase in anti-Semitic attacks? You know what, I bet that’ll be because the Israeli state, which pumps out inordinate amounts of propaganda attempting to link its rotten Zionist ideology with Judaism, has massacred over a thousand Palestinians and a bunch of angry people have absorbed the aforementioned propaganda, taken it to heart and done some stupid things.

    “Olmert, Livni and Barak are mass murderers, war criminals and bring shame on the Jewish people whose Star of David they use as a badge in Gaza.” – Gerald Kaufman MP.

    They bring no shame to anyone who opposes their actions, Jewish or otherwise. But, equally, they are happy to bring violence upon anyone, Jewish or otherwise, if it supports their repulsive aims.

  25. terryfitz on said:

    Let me clarify what is happening in East London. There has been a spate of “kill the Jews” grafiti around Brick Lane. Several buildings on the Chicksand Estate as well as the sunken football pitch in Heneage St have been daubed and on the last the words can still be seen.

    The council’s clean up squad had to be protected by the police when they scrubbed them off and several youths have been cautioned for shouting “kill the Jews”. Last year an ecumenical service at Fieldgate St Synagogue was attacked and a couple of year before that the Pride of Spitalfields pub in Heneage St was petrol bombed. Tower Hamlets council has also admitted that it has cleaned grafiti from a Jewish graveyard.

    There are now regular attacks on late night users of the restaurants and as a result trade is badly affected. Parts of East London particularly around Cannon St Rd are now late night no go areas for white people and I have been threatened myself although being able able to speak Syhleti gets me out of trouble.

    There are a number of reasons for what is happening and one of the main ones is that unlike thirty odd years ago when I first moved to the area there are now prectically no Jews left. The exodus began during the war and continued afterwards of people moving north to Stamford Hill and Golders Green and East out to Gants Hill and Ilford.

    A business partner of mine who worked in the rag trade for many years says that the best employers he ever had were Jews and an even older generation worked alongside them in the factories. Estates were mixed and it was impossible to hate your next door neighbour who you saw on a aily basis.

    Whole estates are now totally Bangladeshi with a very high proportion of the youth unemployed. Some of these young people have no non Bangladeshi, and therefore non Muslim, friends and are caught within a totally Asian culture at home and on TV. It is a ghetto in the middle of one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

    Although Bangladeshis themselves are devout Muslims there is none of the extremism of other Muslim cultures and living there I never felt in anyway threatened even when travelling about the country on my own. The recent elections have shown a rejection of Jamaat i Islam and a secularist government elected with a massive majority.

    In East London however a young generation has been targeted by a more extremist brand of Islam operating out of the Muslim Centre next to the East London Mosque. The whole place was built and financed by Saudi money and espouses a version of Wahibism which is violently anti semitic. Anti Western and anti Jewish rhetoric are daily fair. My friends wont go there but attend the more moderate mosque in Brick Lane.

    The other problem is that Tower Hamlets is host to Islamic Forum Europe, a cleaned up version of Al Mujirahun, It’s UK headquarters is in the Islamic Centre and it is rapidly getting control of Tower Hamlets council. The council’s data base has been used to send e mails to thousands of people urging them to protest about Gaza and includes pictures of what is happening there. When the two council employees who sent the e mails were suspended they were reinstated in a few hours after pressure from the Islamic centre and the leader of the council who is a member of Islamic Forum Europe.

    The whole thing has been exacerbated by Galloway and Respect. While Galloway is careful what he says his supporters make no secret of their desire to kill Jews and he must be aware of this. He even used the Islamic Centre for a speech this week. Respect will hopefully be gone shortly but I am afraid the anti semitism it has stirred up will be with us for many years.

    I hope this has clarified the EastLondon situation a little and I will up date as things progress. I have been trying to e mail Andy Newman the picture of Peterloo but the email keeps bouncing back. I will try again.

  26. terryfitzup on said:

    #35 Terry Fitzpatrick once again pretending to know what’s going on in East London and talking as ever through his rear end. We would all be a lot better off if this bar-room idiot took a vow of silence.

  27. terryfitz on said:

    36.

    What I always say to some of the children who post here is anything I have said untrue? Easy peasy. The problem of course is that people who live their lives according to a party line are incapable of independent thought. The slavishly parrot what the leaders tell them.

    Just been phoning around and it seems that a Tesco Metro opposite Altab Ali park on the Whitechapel Rd and a nearby Starbucks have both been attacked. Anti Jewish grafiti was daubed on Tescos ans Starbucks had a petrol bomb thown in after windows were smashed. In two weeks there have been a dozen incidences of specifically anti Jewish grafiti.

    I wonder who youare 36, I rather suspect the disgraced former Livingstone aid Kumar Murshid. You have said a few things in the past that sound like him. I think you also post as Tower Hamlets Respect Survivor.

    The simple thing to do is if I am supplying false information why don’t you tell people what is really going on?

  28. sheffielder on said:

    the question here concerns boycotts of stores and companies that for one reason or another are unpalatable to most of us here – it has been claimed that such actions helped defeat apartheid for instance , rather than the heroic struggle of millions of oppressed people every day for decades which is the version i much prefer – in short i think that economic boycotts are politically wrong for two main reasons , firstly that it gives the impression that there are ‘good’ capitalists and ‘bad’ capitalists , and that it is a good thing that capitalism exists to provide that ‘choice’ , secondly it places the responsibility for moral judgement on working class people with low disposal incomes who do not have the luxury of being able to afford to reject cheaper and/or better goods – it is certainly not hypocritical or wrong for someone to purchase Israeli ( or , in the past , South African goods ) and also attend protests against the policies of those nations Governments

  29. David Rosenberg on said:

    Nas, Inigo,
    The far right are not hibernating while the destruction of Gaza goes on. Some of them are making pro-israel postures, others pro-Palestinian but their common enemies remain Jews, Muslims, Gypsies, Blacks asylum seekers etc. and when Israel’s current operation concludes they will hope to reap the benefit of it here.

    Most socialists I now can walk and chew gum – thy can mobilise to the maximum in solidarity with the Palestinians while maintaining vigilance about community relations here in the UK and opposing any fall out from the Gaza conflict that diverts angry responses in a away that the far right will lap up.

    Sure, when Israel withdraws, the basis of immediate anger will lessen, but that doesn’t abdicate us of responsibility here as anti-racists and anti-fascists while we are working for that to happen.

  30. Jim Monaghan on said:

    I agree with imatrot on Galloways speech. I got to the demo late and George was uplifting.

    What was also noticeable was the vast amounts of young people who are excited by his appearance and listen to his every word.

  31. Brownie on said:

    you know, the firebombings in Whitechapel, frenetic. Could you provide evidence of them please?

    Check your morning news, Nas.

  32. sectwatch on said:

    #42 Would that be the same James Heartfield who was/is a member of the so-called “Revolutionary Communist Party” of which Frank Furedi is the chief guru and which was/is neither revolutionary, nor communist nor a party?

  33. terryfitzup on said:

    #35 and #37 – Terry Fitzpatrick has gone on record saying it woul dbe better to be dead than living under “Islamic Fundamentalism”. This was in reference to Gaza and the Hamas government and Israel’s possession of nuclear bombs. Seems he is now getting his wish with the Israeli slaughter going on in Gaza. His views are completely disgusting. He is also the close friend of the corrupt former leader of Tower Hamlets Council Helal Abbas, who is keen to replace the current leader of the council Lutfur Rahman when he comes up for reelection in May.

    This weeks’ East London Advertiser carries letters from Lutfur Rahman and from him and a number of others involved in the inter-faith forum, including Dilowar Khan from the London Muslim Centre who is also a leading member of the Islamic Forum of Europe. These letters both decry hate crimes arising out of the Israeli assault on Gaza. Although there are worrying but relatively isolated incidents of anti-Semitism, the remarkable thing is how little traction the anti-Semites are getting so far. This is probably because others like George Galloway, who completely repudiate any anti-Semitism, have channeled the justifiable shock and anger at what Israel is doing into opposition to Israel and their western backers, in other words against Zionism rather than against jewry.

    Fitzpatrick’s claim that Respect’s supporters “make no secret of their desire to kill Jews” is a scandalous lie of Goebbels-like proportions. In fact it is a slur against many in the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets which he claims to know so much about as thousands of Tower Hamlets Bangladeshis can be counted amongst Respect’s supporters.

    George Galloway did speak at the London Muslim Centre last week and I heard him say very clearly that he was not calling for a boycott of, never mind attacks on, Marks and Spencers or other shops and as always he pointed out that the biggest supporters of Israel in the West are not Jewish but are in George W Bush’s White House. As for the IFE, to liken them to Al-Muhajiroun (not Al Mujirahun you ignorant moron) is a travesty of the truth.

    Apart from the fact that anti-Semitism is intrinsically abhorrent, anti-Semitism plays into the hands of the apologists for Israel’s war crimes who always try to use the slur of anti-Semitism to try to mute legitimate horror at and opposition to the crimes of the Zionists and the Israeli government.

    But that criticism will not be muted. This morning the Israeli’s have bombed the UN compound in Gaza, a residential tower block with large numbers of casualties and there are reports of a hospital with 500 patients also being hit. Over 300 children have died and almost a hundred women, more than 400 “non-combatants”, but this underestimates the number of innocents killed by Israel because many of the men who have died have nothing to do with Hamas. Not that Hamas itself, the only democratically elected government in the Arab world, should itself be counted as a “legitimate” target.

    Apologists for this slaughter like Terry Fitzpatrick make me sick and I hope there will be a review of twhether this website should host his lies.

  34. sectwatch on said:

    #45 The point is merely that we should not trust a word you say as you and your organisation have consistently sided with Western imperialism and things don’t seem to have changed. Nor should we trust your photos, as I think the unlamented demise of Living Marxism showed.

  35. Green Socialist on said:

    I really don’t understand why people have to pretend that anti -semitism either doesn’t exist or has to be swept under the carpet.

    “Apart from the fact that anti-Semitism is intrinsically abhorrent, anti-Semitism plays into the hands of the apologists for Israel’s war crimes who always try to use the slur of anti-Semitism to try to mute legitimate horror at and opposition to the crimes of the Zionists and the Israeli government.”

    Very true, I feel socialists should be doing as much as I can to protest the slaughter in Gaza, but it is also important to distinguish between attacking the Israeli regime (and the Ideology and practice of Zionism)and using anti-semitism or anti semitic terms in doing so. It is wrong and its extremely counter-productive.

    I remember the backlash against Muslims post 9/11 and fear we are seeing the same against Jews now.

    Hamas isn’t the “only democratically elected regime in the Arab world” – Lebanon is a democracy and would be a better funtioning one if it wasn’t for Israel and Syria’s agression! Agree that despite their reactionary, anti gay, anti semitic and anti working class politics, the attack by Israel is in no way justified.

  36. Meanwhile, the Israelis have reportedly hit another UN building containing refugees from the fighting.

  37. zozzimus on said:

    “And if these had been attacks on Muslim-owned shops by neo-nazis, I’m sure you’d be sneering at the evidence in precisely the same way”.
    Yes, there would be no question of you and the guys at Harry’s Place ever sneering at evidence of attacks on Muslims, would there, Gene? Except of course when they are carried out by the IDF.

  38. Geronimo on said:

    The fact is that these fascistic like crimes against the Palestinians (ghettoisation, mass slaughter, etc) are being conducted by Zionist liberals (Netenyahu is waiting in the wings to do worse and there are worse than him … the nuke ‘em brigade). They are being supported by the self-proclaimed `liberals’ of the pro-war `left’ on here and by the labour and trade union bureaucrats. For these people Israel is worth abandoning all principles for and this is a mighty lesson for the international working class. The liberals are not your friends. `War crimes? I see no war crimes.’

  39. terryfitz on said:

    Gentlepersons,

    CONTENT DELETED

    Anyway, the pubs are open so I am off for a couple of stiff pegs.

  40. TH Respect Survivor on said:

    And terryfitz does it again. Seeing as you know so much about his pillow talk and sexual encounters (which I don’t think anyone else really wants to know about) either Kumar Murshid broke your heart, or he slept with someone you have a fondness for…

    I think that’s now five different people you have claimed are Kumar Murshid. Walter Mitty anyone?

  41. external bulletin on said:

    re post 53 – Andy I really think you shouldn’t allow this kind of sneering racism to remain.

    The post is from the man who has offered to write a post for this blog and which you said you would consider.

    I hope you won’t let him anywhere near the blog. He’s a shitty racist, as his numerous posts about Kumar Murshid’s “white” partners and about Bangladeshis attest to. Not just that, but when “TH Respect Survivor” explained that he was a gay Bangladeshi Muslim, the first thing terryfitz decided to do was “convene” a meeting in order to expose him. And every time anyone disagrees with him, he either calls them a “thick trot cunt” (as he did every time Carole Swords posted), or claims they are Kumar Murshid. In other words, he insults woman, and anyone who disagrees with him is by definition Asian. Oh, and he has threatened violence in your comments boxes.

    I really hope you won’t keep letting him post his poisonous racism here, and that you’ll not consider posting anything by him. He is so poisonous, he is damaging anti-BNP activity in east London because people will not go near Searchlight/Hope Not Hate because of his attacks on Muslims and his continuous obsession with the “whiteness” of the sexual partners of black and Asian politicians.

  42. skidmarx on said:

    #10 ” George Monbiot accuses Frank Furedi of being a nutcase
    Which he sure is.”

    I’m sure all right-minded people can agree with that, though maybe we should all be banned from this blog for 3 months.

  43. David Rosenberg on said:

    I agree very much with Green socialist @ 48
    We should not be tolerant of any manifestations of racism/antisemitism in the soldiarity movement with Palestinians. and when it happens we should challenge it.

    John Tyndall the late lader of the BNP used to say “The day our followers lose the ability to hate is the day we lose our ability to achieve anything.”

    You can turn this round from a socialist perspective – “the day our movement losies its ability to recognise hate is the day we lose our ability to achieve anything.” whatever we have as our prime focus we have to be, unconditionally, with all the victims of racism against the racists.

    How to challenge racism/antisemitism wihtin the solidarity movement is a tactical question, where you weigh up whether it is an ignorant statement or action borne of confusion where you will want to engage in a rational discussion with the perpetrator or whether it is lazy thinking,where you might do the same or where it is a deliberate statement or action, which people think is justified in the circumstances. In that instant it needs to be exposed and opposed forcefully.

    What we should not do – and it’s disappointing that some here have been engaging in this, is ignore or trivialise it, or pretend it hasn’t happened because they have political differnces with the messenger.

    In genral political terms I don’t feel much sympathy with Furedi or Fitzpatrick’s political analyses but I don’t see a reason to doubt facts about the incidents they and others have referred to.

  44. Inigo Montoya on said:

    # 39 “Sure, when Israel withdraws, the basis of immediate anger will lessen, but that doesn’t abdicate us of responsibility here as anti-racists and anti-fascists while we are working for that to happen.”

    Absolutely not. At nmeetings and rallies I’ve addressed recently I have gone out of my way to argue against drawing anti-Semitic conclusions and pointing out the swing in public opinion (Jewish and otherwise) away from supporting Zionism. Our local UAF group has drawn up a leaflet to distribute on Saturday warning of the danger of an upsurge in both Islamophobic and anti-Semitic racism in the aftermath of this conflict. But I don’t think it’s wrong to point out that the driving force for both these things is the actions of the Israeli state, it’s attempt to legitimise its attack on Hamas on the grounds of Islamophobia and it’s desperate efforts to link Zionism with Judaism – a spurious link that we should all be arguing against wherever it raises its head.

  45. passerby on said:

    Wouldn’t normally comment on this site as it seems generally a scandal site for the left in the UK.

    But Inigo’s point about Islamophobia and anti-semitism being driven by the actions of the Israeli state is wrong headed.

    I agree that a rise in anti-semitism can be attributed to the actions of Israel as has been pointed out by many including Finkelstein.

    But Islamophobia is not being driven from israel but from our own ruling classes in response to 9/11 and the ongoing drives to war in Iraq, Afghanistan etc…

    It is the attempt to scapegoat and emerges out of the attmept ot ideolically justify these wars by demonizing the “other”. To, as some on the left have, try to put this at the foot of Israel, lets our own ruling classes off the hook and opens the door to the notion that the Israeli lobby dictates foriegn policies of western powers.

    I don’t want to quibble but I think it is important to see the rise of Islamophobia in the context of the wests drive to war in the Mid east.

  46. David Rosenberg on said:

    As the news form Gaza itself gets bleaker there have been so many examples of heartening displays of solidarity with the Palestinian people throughout Britain and across the world keeping up the pressure on our own and other governments. And we have another chance to keep up the campaigining at the rallies this weekend.

    Also in terms of the discussions on this thread there are some positive developments with news that on Friday, 16th January, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel are embarking on a protest, solidarity and aid convoy for the residents of Gaza. And on Saturday 17th January, there is going to be a march from Tel-Aviv to Jaffa which will unite Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel against the war.

    Also a very good statement today from a coalition of
    imams, writers, academics and community activists in Britain. Unlike some posters here they have no qualms about criticising reactionary responses to the situation without detracting from their support for Palestine:

    “We are deeply saddened to hear about antisemitic assaults on British Jews, and a recent arson attack on a London synagogue. Although the perpetrators are yet unknown, we unreservedly condemn attacks on innocent British citizens and the desecration of all places of worship.

    The ongoing killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza by Israeli forces has angered us all. However, this does not, and cannot, justify attacks on our fellow citizens of Jewish faith and background here in Britain.

    Most Muslims are completely against such behaviour. However, we call on all Muslims to continue to remain vigilant against attempts to bring our own faith and community into disrepute. British Jews should not be held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.”

  47. #61, that’s absolutely right and important that it is posed in the way that you did, thank you.
    #62 David, another positive I think is worth stressing is the solidarity that has been shown from Venezuela and Bolivia, the fact that this solidarity comes from governments who are overtly socialist is extremely important and we should do all we can to publicise this fact in communication the left has with the Palestinian people.
    In Scotland we were delighted to see that the PFLP used a photo from the Edinburgh demonstration of 10,000 in which Scottish Socialist Party banners were very prominent;
    http://www.pflp.ps/english/?q=aggression-escalates-pflp-calls-takeover-israeli-e

  48. terryfitz on said:

    Censorship, or is is it because you are all anti senmites and can’t stand the truth?

  49. Terry

    I am deleting comments from you because

    i) they contain potentially libellous allegations, and
    ii) also becausue they are too abusive.

  50. paul c on said:

    Terry you are an idiot, if yyou could think rationally then you would be able seperate the concepts of judaism and Zionism. I saw banners at both of the protests that said “jews agianst Zionism” and I’m sure most people reading this blog could tell that. What were they Anti-semitic too? they must be very self loathing if they are. By the way Palestinian are semites as well. But you wouldn’t now that would you. Why? because you’re a fuckwit

  51. “The truth – you can’t handle the truth!”
    terryfitz reaches his Jack Nicholson meltdown :)

  52. So can we shop at M&S or not?

    Galloway says, ” … explicitly and categorically stating that Marks & Spencer should NOT be boycotted, explaining that it is a public company owned by shareholders like any other and has nothing to do with Israel. …”

    And yet Boycott Israel says M&S is still supporting Israel:
    http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-marks-and-spencer.html

    Is there a definitive informed view on this? Thanks.

  53. Molotov on said:

    It’s simple. Israeli products, and the produce of illegal settlements on the West Bank should be boycotted WHEREVER they are sold, in M&S or anywhere else. It would be invidious to single out M&S for a general boycott as the company has no general connection to Israel at all

  54. TH Respect Survivor on said:

    Terry, the ‘censorship’ as you call it was the deletion of a RASCIST comment you made. Nothing to do with anti-semitism.

    It’s not censorship is it, because you’re actually quite rascist in some of the views you espouse and can’t stand the truth. Comprende?