Gaza to Rochdale: 3 for the weekend

2 Mar

These are momentous times. Lenin’s remark – “there are decades where nothing happens, and weeks where decades happen” – never rang truer.

Take the past week. We saw – some of us literally – an extraordinary act of sacrifice by USAF Airman Aaron Bushnell, right outside the Israeli Embassy in his country’s capital. And we saw Western media – so simple an act of courage beyond their ken or ability to salute – slyly seek to locate his astonishing bravery in mental illness. Well of course!

Three days later we saw over a hundred starving Palestinians, drawn to a precious flour drop on Harun al-Rashid Street, southwest of Gaza City, murdered by IDF gunfire, some of it from tanks. And we saw Western media, too cowed by the Israeli lobby to call a spade a spade, a massacre a massacre, not only repeat the absurd claim – by a rogue state whose default is serial lying – that they died in a “stampede” at a market square with numerous exit paths. Those media fell over themselves in a scramble for tortuous headlines that decoupled cause and effect.

All three avoid agency. (I’d love to have been a fly on the wall as chief editors and executives, ordinarily floating above such mundane concerns, agonised over every word.) But for sheer agility of squid-ink obfuscation, the NYT wins hands down.

And yes, the Guardian does at least speak of “Israeli troops open[ing] fire”, but see how artfully an adjective – near – and a noun phrase – chaotic scenes – serve to muddy the waters. That’s before we even get to the insinuous qualifier, “say Gaza officials”.

What’s that you say: “they’re just not rushing to premature judgment”?  I’d be more inclined to buy that if those media had shown the same restraint over “chemical attacks in Douma” – and more recently over allegations of mass rape by Hamas.

By that last I refer to the fact that on December 28 last year, the New York Times ran a feature as extensive as it was explosive, and as fact-free as it was sensational. Its header speaks for itself: “Screams without words”: How Hamas Weaponised Sexual Violence on October 7.

I’ll return to that murderously irresponsible fiction shortly. Meanwhile in Europe, this past week also saw French President Macron, he who’d protested in January at French mercenaries NOT in Ukraine being killed in – you got it – Ukraine, meditating on whether the time has come for NATO boots on the ground there. About which, several things:

  • It’s the highest level admission yet that an underequipped, undertrained, largely press-ganged and consequently decimated AFU is not doing quite as well (I’m a Brit: we do so love our understatement) as two years of wall to wall propaganda sought relentlessly to drill into our thick heads.
  • It assumes – and as assumptions go this is as recklessly insane as it gets – Russia to be bluffing when promising (most recently through Vladimir Putin’s Address to the Nation of February 29) precisely the response anyone with half a brain would expect. WW3.
  • It provoked conspiracy theories. I long ago stopped opposing these in principle and a-priori, but the one I have in mind – that the rush by other European leaders to distance themselves is an elaborate charade; that Macron was greenlighted by a collective West to shift the Overton – seems to me a case of overthinking things. Take Chancellor Scholz. One conspiracy theory I do buy is that his “blurting out”, to fury in London, that SAS men are in Ukraine, helping the AFU use kit said to take months to master, was deliberate: that with his coalition government on the ropes, a Green Party Defence Minister drunk on her own grandiose warmongering, and a German public reckoning the costs with the kind of anger that gets folk out on the streets; he needed Macron’s nonsense like a hole in the head. Said nonsense being informed, we may fairly conjecture, by straw-clutching hope of moderating Moscow’s opening position when peace talks start, as start they must.
  • As usual the bottom line is simple. Both Macron’s remarks and the storm they elicited are a measure of the collective West’s dejected assimilation of the scale of defeat in a proxy war it had bragged would be a walk in the park, and of the implications for its globalist free lunch. A measure, in fact, of an empire in panic.

Still in Europe, albeit on a cold wet island outpost of the same, this week drew the world’s eye to a byelection in a Lancashire textile town which last hit the headlines when identity politics and craven policing turned a collective blind eye to organised paedophilia.

(Not wholly the police’s fault when, like social workers, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.)

Now that town is enjoying its fifteen minutes of fame for a different reason. It fell to Rochdale, its high Muslim population a legacy of empire, to hand the British Labour Party, back in ruling class hands after the Corbyn Scare, a stunning electoral defeat. Who could gainsay the opening words of George Galloway’s acceptance speech?

“Keir Starmer – this is for Gaza!”


It being the weekend, and in my neck of the woods a wet one at that, I’ve selected a thwacking four hours of viewing divvied up into three videos.

My first and simplest choice is of Alexander Mercouris and Alex Christoforou, over at The Duran, picking the bones of that State of the Nation address two days ago, February 29. Putin covered  constitutional change, defence, Russian law, the economy, poverty, and demography including but not confined to birth rates.

If this sounds arid – trust me, it isn’t – that likely reflects less on The Duran or RF President than the dumbing down of what passes for serious political discourse in the West.


I dithered over my second choice, and not just for its length. The always excellently informed Max Blumenthal and Aaron Mate, both heirs to a long and distinguished tradition of eloquent Jewish critics of the Zionist state, start by interrogating media coverage of the ‘flour massacre’ of February 29.

So far so straightforward.

It’s where they go next that had me wondering whether this was maybe a tad too complex a tale, even with Max’s and Aaron’s skills at conveying nuance and complexity, to fold into this post. Might it merit one more dedicated to the issues it raises?

Perhaps, and I don’t rule out such a post in the not too distant. But at 35:05, after concluding on the flour atrocity, the duo turn to a matter I often consider. At what point does shaky opposition to imperialism – to be welcomed for what it gets right, but called out for for what it does not – cross over into betrayals less easily overlooked? The question arises big time apropos that NYT piece of December 28 on “weaponised rape”. I said I’d return to this but what I really meant was that the GrayZone would.

Over to Max and Aaron. Though they start with the flour massacre, and finish with Rochdale, my reason for posting is the middle bit; on the role, darker than credulity, played by The Intercept.

I repeat: it starts at 35:05.


That ambiguous space – some say faux opposition – occupied by The Intercept, by Democracy Now and, in the West at least, by Al-Jazeera leads to my third choice. In a 2017 post, Monbiot, Syria and Universalism, I focused on how open to manipulation ‘universalism’ can leave us. I found it at work in George Monbiot and Owen Jones, both taken in by the propaganda blitz on Syria. It’s true that these are journalists unambiguously in the corporate media camp, but they are trusted on the Left in much the same way Intercept and Al-Jazeera are trusted.

As is Michael Walker, of Novara Live. In this third video, which I commend for what it does very well indeed, he and Aaron Bastani – a clever and erudite chap who impressed me last October in a 90 minute duet with philosopher John Gray – take a microscope to the Rochdale result. I find no fault and much to applaud in their assessment of that magnificent victory.

Around the 27 minute mark, the focus shifts – will the real George Galloway stand up?  fashion – to the Rochdale winner. At 32:24 we see archive footage of Jeremy Paxman interviewing the man minutes after his 2005 ousting of Labour’s Oona King in Bethnal Green, London.

Paxman begins:

“Mr Galloway are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in parliament?”

Did he really think this would wrongfoot the silver-tongued bruiser o’ Dundee? Paxman did on occasion meet his match in such knockabouts, but not often. His cage rattled at being bested, the Beeb presenter’s snarling inanity – “are you threatening me Mr Galloway?” – is priceless.

Michael is greatly amused, as am I, but this is a high point. Later, while flatly rejecting George’s claim of the Bucha Massacre as a false flag in a string of US false flags, he assures us that:

There’s plenty of evidence of a Bucha massacre …

There is, but this sidesteps the charge; that it was committed not by Russian forces but an AFU on the run, specifically a ‘Safari’ unit in the grip of the Nazi Azov Brigade. (See Bucha revisited, by a man with rather more claim than Michael to expertise on such things.)

I’m also unhappy with Michael’s approach, akin to that of Owen Jones, to the rape smearing of Julian as he deplores George Galloway’s unequivocal defence of that brave man. This is where Michael’s ‘wokeness’ really shows, in identity politics aligned – unintentionally I’m sure – with the designs of empire. He doesn’t even try to rebut George’s core claim – implying instead that it’s too absurd for words – that even if all the Swedish Prosecutor (not the first one, who found no case to answer, but her more hawkish successor) said were true, ‘rape’ in that context does not mean what most people understand by the term.

Cause enough, says I, for powerful enemies to weaponise it and thereby discredit the bravest journalist alive, ensuring his abandonment by the wokerati. Have a good weekend.

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