Sheffield shows Solidarity with Palestine

15 May

Of course Sheffield couldn’t match the 150,000 who today marched from Speaker’s Corner to the Israeli Embassy in London. Still, several hundred of steel city’s finest turned out in solidarity with their Palestinian brothers and sisters outside the Town Hall, top of the Moor.

Rain or no rain.

To be right, I should have been at the Nottingham event but, in Sheffield on an errand, it made sense to go to the one in my native town. Great to see old friends, colleagues, comrades: Doug, Jawed, Mehdi, Pete – and the smashing bloke from Kashmir who used to run the outstanding curry house, Kebabish, on the Wicker.

Israel, by  employing its military machine against an occupied population that does not have mechanized units, an air force, navy, missiles, heavy artillery and command-and-control, not to mention a U.S. commitment to provide a $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over the next decade, is not exercising “the right to defend itself.” It is carrying out mass murder.

Chris Hedges, May 14 – Israel: the Big Lie

For why all Western governments continue to back apartheid Israel, despite mounting public disgust at what should be a pariah state – and for why corporate media treat the issue as ‘six of one and half a dozen of the other’ – see my review of Stephen Gowans important book, Israel: a Beachhead in the Middle East.

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9 Replies to “Sheffield shows Solidarity with Palestine

    • If you find this “too complex”, on what basis can you say the narrative is “one sided”?

      I recommend some reading – on the establishment of Israel, try The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Israeli Jewish historian, Ilan Pappe. On why the West backs Israel, try the Stephen Gowans book – linked at the close of my post above – Israel: a beachhead in the middle east.

      The Spiked piece is hard for me to take seriously. It reminds me of the way the indefatigably ridiculous Julie Burchill used to write about Israel. I haven’t time to address all its flaws – too much else to do – but will pick out these:

      Why is it child-killing bloodlust when Israel takes military action but not when Turkey or India do? Why must we rush to the streets to set light to the Israel flag but never the Saudi flag, despite Saudi Arabia’s unconscionable war on Yemen? Why is it only ‘wrong’ or at worst ‘horrific’ when Britain or America drop bombs in the Middle East but Nazism when Israel fires missiles into Gaza? Why do you merely oppose the military action of some states but you hate Israel, viscerally, publicly, loudly?

      Turkey’s deeds in Syria, Libya and elsewhere are vile. Ditto Saudi Arabia’s in Yemen (with help from my country, yours, and above all the USA). All informed persons know this. In the limited time at my disposal I have denounced both. But what Brendan O’Neill – ex RCP, like Clare Fox and Frank Furedi – ignores is that Israel is an egregious case. Yes, it would be great if everyone took to the streets to protest about injustice everywhere. That is just not going to happen and O’Neill knows it. In fact the same argument could have been used against the anti apartheid movement of the seventies and eighties. Nelson Mandela was hardly the only political prisoner at the time! I don’t like the term ‘whataboutery’ because I’ve too often seen it used to reactionary ends – but this Spiked piece strikes me as fully deserving that accusation.

      Israel is now the only country on Earth that is expected to allow itself to be attacked. To sit back and do nothing as its citizens are pelted with rocks or rockets. How else do we explain so many people’s unwillingness to place the current events in any kind of context, including the context of an avowedly anti-Semitic Islamist movement – Hamas – firing hundreds of missiles into civilian areas in Israel? In this context, to rage solely against Israel, to curse its people and burn its flag because it has sent missiles to destroy Hamas’s firing positions in Gaza, is essentially to say: ‘Why won’t Israelis let themselves be killed?’

      Israel is also the only country on Earth in violation of 28 UN Resolutions – including settling on illegally occupied territories, drilling for oil in the Golan and applying collective punishment that does indeed invite comparison with the Nazis. As the world has either wrung its hands or actively aided and/or profited from such criminality, the Palestinians have taken to the streets – just as black South Africans did at Soweto – knowing they’d be slaughtered, literally so, but past caring. Those who speak as O’Neill does should count first the Israeli dead, then the Palestinian. Now that is what I call “one sided”.

      Is Hamas corrupt? Yes! And who bears responsibility for its triumph over Fatah? The rise of Hamas is of a piece with a century of collusion involving Israel and/or the West on the one hand, hard core Islamism (and reactionary Shia clerics) on the other. Lawrence of Arabia … ousting Mossadegh in Iran … Irangate … cold war backing of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan … “moderate Islamists” used to terrorise Syria and bring down its elected government for Western as well as Gulf State gain … Israel’s willingness, like the West’s at large, to collude with violent Islamism is hidden from view to the average sleepy head in the West. What? they cry! Don’t be absurd: the West and Israel hate Isis and Al Qaeda! Yes. They do when those outfits bring their methods into Europe and North America. But operating in the middle east (Israel apart), in Chechnya or in Xianjing, well, that’s all to the good as long as it can be kept at arm’s length.

      Imagine if the Isle of Wight was home to a movement whose founding constitution expressed loathing for all ethnic Britons and which regularly fired hundreds of missiles into Sussex, Kent, Hampshire. Wouldn’t the British military respond?

      Imagine, rather, if an occupying power claiming land rights going back thousands of years – based on a supposedly sacred text – took over Britain, crammed its indigenous population onto the Isle of Wight, turned off fuel and water whenever protest boiled over, and used its immense propaganda resources – its hasbara – to play the victim over a few crude rockets against its state of the art death delivery systems underwritten by the most powerful (and reckless) nation on earth!

      O’Neill is too ridiculous for words. Long before its collapse – and the rightwing libertarian drift of its leading lights – I thought the RCP the most philistine sect on the British left.

      • Why do I always choose to put foot in enemy lands (Politics, History) ? A simple search for “debunking ilan pappe” brought up so many opposite views I’m already defeated. Who can you trust when the subject is not your forte ? I’m simply not interested/concerned enough about this topic to spend countless hours or days searching for any objective truth in this maze full of smoke and mirrors. Sorry !

        • Your opening question I take to be rhetorical since only you can answer.

          As to your second sentence, Israel has the world’s most powerful and far reaching lobby. It played no small part in bringing down Jeremy Corbyn. Of course a historian so uncomfortable for the nation’s myth-makers as Ilan Pappe will draw its ire. You think the number of hostile reviews of him and his works an indicator of ‘complexity’? Ask the cui bono question. What has Pappe to gain by saying what he does? What does Zionism have to lose by conceding to him? Since when did the oppressor ever like to hear truth spoken to power? Jews who criticise Israel are bad enough. Israeli Jews who do the same are regarded as traitors. (Look up Mordecai Vanunu.)

          As for the USA, which in 2016 made a $38bn arms handover to Israel, the power of the Israeli lobby is such that there are those who call it a vassal of Israel. I say they are wrong – see my debate with ‘Mog’ in the comments section of the Stephen Gowans post – but it’s not hard to see why they think the way they do. Saying that Pappe has critics and has been ‘debunked’ – what a sloppy word, by the way, unless we are prepared to argue our case closely on the basis of factual evidence – is like saying Karl Marx has his critics. Well quelle bloody surprise!

          Who can we trust? Those 28 UN resolutions would be a start, and more generally the question is not who but what can we trust. The answer to which is evidence, the facts. Which brings me to your own admission that you’re “not interested/concerned enough about this topic”.

          Leaving aside the scale of the injustice, and the fact Israel is and was from the start intended to be a hugely destabilising force in the middle east (up there with South China Sea and Russia’s western borderlands as likeliest flashpoint for WW3) it begs the question: since you find the topic of insufficient interest, why come onto this site to comment?

          • Thank you for taking the time to answer. I’ll check those links. As to your last point, I must admit you’re right. I’m not knowledgeable enough about these matters to add anything of real value to the discussion.

            • Au contraire, Alain. Though I strongly disagree with O’Neill, your comment is of value. Thank you.

    • O’Neils straw man infested argument – with its stretched beyond credulity comparisons, outright misrepresentations (I was present, for example, on both occasions on the London demonstrations in the run up to the Iraq War and can attest his claims are pure fabrication), and failure to recognise a controlled media narrative in which many demonstrations on similar issues (Yemen/ Saudi Arabia, Kashmir, Libya, Syria etc*) go largely unreported – is a reminder of what is really the oldest profession.

      But let’s call a spade a spade rather than beat about the bush.

      O’Neils real beef, as is that of publications like Spiked at al and those who muster under the banner of their spurious arguments, is that citizens (in reality subjects) in the West are doing the job that citizens should be doing. Which is holding their own Governments to the principles and standards those Governments claim to represent instead of acting like good little proles and directing the two minutes hate sessions towards officially designated State/Establishment enemies to whom our own Governments/Establishments project their own actions, behaviours and attitudes.

      It would perhaps help if O’Neil and his fellow travellers had the self- awareness to actually recognise what “woke” actually is (see the contribution from Fearghus on the Craig Murray thread) and how it operates before placing foot in mouth.

      However, let’s focus on the criteria being applied here. Which is the number of casualties on both sides over any time period one cares to select. Long or short it’s a no brainer. Unless of course one wishes to out onsealf as a bad faith actor.

      Again, the bottom line is this is certainly a one way narrative – but the exact opposite to that portrayed.

      Simple question. Based, I know, on the quaint old fashion notion of society and it’s basis of reciprocation.

      Do you accept the right of Palestine (and by definition Palestinians) right to exist or not?

      See it works both ways. And there is little doubt on the available evidence that the majority of those who in very obvious bad faith ask the opposite question are being dishonest because it’s always made very clear there is no intention reciprocation on that point. That’s why Palestinian land continues to be illegally stolen under International Law.

      Of course, International Law via Multilateral and Multipolar Organisations and Institutions which exist, at least in intent, to recognise the interests of all peoples on the planet is not he name of the game being played. Which is one where International Law is replaced with a selective ‘Rules based order where all the rules are dictated in a unipolar and unilateral manner by the Washington Consensus.

      * Yesterday’s Sheffield event, and I’ve no doubt it was not unique, contained flags as well as people in support of and solidarity from Kashmir. As well as calls to end arms and other equipment manufactured in this Country and used in that conflict. Along with recognition of the inconvenient role played by non Zionist members of the Jewish Community both inside and outside of Palestine/Israel. Members of that Community who are airbrushed out of the Community by right wing woke extreme Zionistsas “self hating Jews” “Capos” etc. Often by the same crowd to which O’Neill,and those who naively fall for their arguments, belongs to.

  1. Former UK Diplomat Craig Murray – who, if we are to believe those such as Brendon O’Neil, never took a stand against any issue except Palestine/Israel by, say, Oh, I don’t know, blowing the whistle on a key Western strategic ally boiling political opponents alive (except in cases where such inconvenient facts become convenient again in order to produce another selective hit piece by Fifth Columnists such as Spiked) – raises some interesting questions here:

    Well, I say interesting. I suppose it depends on motivation?

    Here’s one from Murray’s piece:

    “I cannot see what on earth else the Palestinians are supposed to do.” – in the face of what anywhere else on the planet would be described as systematic genocide. But then we are talking here about official friends rather than official enemies of the exceptional do as I say not as I do rogue regime which has the back of one of the protagonists – that being the one which as Murray describes gets away with the following via a complaint corporate media:

    “Palestinians die in the passive tense in western media. The media always says they “have died”; they were never “killed”, and there is virtually never any attribution of the death. By contrast, Israelis are active tense “killed by Hamas” or “killed by missile strikes”. Look out for this journalistic sophistry – once you see it, you can’t unsee it. “

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