Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Hold Your Tonge

“The State of Israel will not last forever in its present form.”

For this, the Lib Dem Whip is withdrawn. For a statement of the obvious.

About 14,000 Jews left Israel annually between 1990 and 2005. Half of Israelis aged between 14 and 18 express the desire to live elsewhere. A huge percentage of Israelis holds, or plans to inquire about obtaining, foreign nationality. The Berlin synagogue has 12,000 members, and there are now perhaps 55,000 Jews in Poland, many of whom are immigrants from Israel. Curzon was right when he bemoaned the Balfour Declaration on the grounds that the “advanced and intellectual” Jews would have no desire to live in the Middle East. They cannot wait to go home.

The screeching of Britain’s Likud supporters and worse cannot hide the fact that the Jewish Chronicle has to reflect mainstream Anglo-Jewish opinion or go out of business, that the Board of Deputies of British Jews has to reflect mainstream Anglo-Jewish opinion or its members would not be re-elected, and so on. The tyranny of those who shout the loudest is coming to an end. Not a moment too soon.

Desperately, Israel is instead flying in Russians who refuse to eat kosher food and who insist on taking their Israeli Defence Force oaths on the New Testament alone, Russian Nazis, East Africans who have invented a religion based on the Old Testament brought by Christian missionaries, Peruvian Indians, absolutely anyone at all. Even the Pashtun are now classified as a Lost Tribe with a view to airlifting them to Israel in future, since at least they are not Arabs.

Such Jewish births as there still are, are largely and increasingly to ultra-Orthodox who so disdain the Zionist State that they will use physical force against its teenage conscripts of both sexes. Their desire to live in the Land of Israel is manifestly quite separate from any desire to live in the State of Israel, which is presumably why, settled on the West Bank, they do not do so. One cannot help feeling that they and the inhabitants of Umm al-Fahm ought to have been asked each other’s questions.

If Israel does not want to become a haven for Russian Nazis, then she needs to repeal the Law of Return, declaring that she is now a settled culture and society in her own right, and precluding any wildly impracticable demand for a corresponding right on the part of Palestinian refugees or their descendants. The people who will do anything for Israel except live there, and who throw their weight around in demanding policies that suit their prejudices expressed from comfortable berths thousands of miles away, can thus be told where to go, or not to bother trying to go.

If there cannot be a Palestinian State, contrary to the position of the last Republican President of the United States, then with whom and with what have the Israelis ever been negotiating? Those interlocutors do not seek recognition of a Muslim state; on the contrary, the Palestinian Authority already operates a Christian quota without parallel in Israel, though corresponding to similar arrangements in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. They do not even seek recognition of an Arab state.

Ever since 1993, they have recognised Israel within her borders before 1967, and, although they ought also to claim the territory to the east that a Palestinian State would rapidly come to include, they seek nothing more than recognition of Palestine within the territory captured in that year, the home of everyone who lives there, and if anything an emerging or emerged Orthodox Jewish refuge from godless Zionism. The only problem is with recognising Israel as “a Jewish State”, condemning a fifth of the population, including the world's most ancient Christian communities, to the second class citizenship from which the Israeli Constitution theoretically protects them, however different the practice may be.

Israel needs to move to very extensive devolution to the very local level, Jewish or Arab, religious or secular, Muslim or Christian, and so forth. She needs three parliamentary chambers, each about one third of the size of the present one, with one for the ultra-Orthodox, one for the Arabs, and one for everyone else, the ultra-Orthodox and the Arab being already identified in law because of their arrangements in relation to military service. All legislation would require the approval of all three chambers. Each chamber would elect a Co-President, all three of whom would have to approve all legislation and senior appointments, as well as performing ceremonial duties.

Each chamber would be guaranteed a Minister in each department and at least a quarter of Cabinet posts. Yiddish would be recognised as an official language, the quid pro quo for recognising all the many currently unrecognised villages in the Galilee and the Negev. The alliance necessary to pull this off would take an awful lot of effort. But two peoples facing nothing less than denaturalisation could very well be prepared to make that amount of effort. The other lot should have had more children, or bothered to move there from places like London and New York. But they did not.

Buy the book here.

Back To Basics

Lauren Laverne has just expressed her hilarity, shared by an audience apparently half the age of her and me, that the valiant Dr Hans-Christian Raabe, removed from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for denying the assertion that cannabis was harmless, had dared to suggest a link between the homosexualist and the pederastic political movements.

That latter, one might add, included Harriet Harman, as exposed by Martin Beckford in the 9th March 2009 edition of the Daily Telegraph, but that newspaper was too spineless or too compromised to put it on the front page where it belonged, so the story was allowed to die, at least for the time being. (By the way, Dr Raabe was dismissed quite some time ago. Look how some people still cannot get over the fact that an opponent of cannabis was ever appointed in the first place.) It is obviously time for some remedial education.

Alfred C Kinsey was pre-eminent among the sexual psychopaths who avowedly set up the sexology industry, from scratch, in order to supplant the Christian sexual ethic. They fabricated research, and they relied heavily on current and former prostitutes, and on convicts. Thence the oft-quoted figure of 10 per cent as the number of men who have had a homosexual experience, usually exaggerated further into the notion that one tenth of the population “is homosexual” (which no one is – acts, not persons, are homosexual or heterosexual). On the same figures, one man in 12 has committed bestiality. Is one twelfth of the population zoosexual, or zoophile, or whatever the word is? And even if it is, then so what?

Kinsey held that children in the earliest stages of infancy could experience orgasm. How, exactly, was such “research” conducted? He taught child sexual abuse techniques to the Gestapo. He filmed himself raping his wife and the wives of his staff. He circumcised himself without anaesthesia, and hung himself by the testicles from a pole. He was a devotee of the Satanist Aleister Crowley, acting out Crowley’s teaching that pederasty was a laudable form of human sacrifice. Kinsey and his followers were largely funded by the pornography racket and other organised vice.

So there you are. Practically the only views any longer permitted to be expressed about sex are based on fraudulent research and extreme criminality carried out by a clique of sexual psychopaths. Unsurprisingly, adherence to a model designed by and for sexual psychopaths has resulted in a massive increase in sexual psychopathology. Yet that is the only model for the training of anyone who needs a certain number of credits in “sex education” in order to qualify as anything.

Kinsey and his followers had created an intellectual climate conducive to the likes of those who frequented The Stonewall Inn and who founded the North American Man/Boy Lovers’ Association (NAMBLA). Just as the entirety of sexology goes back to Kinsey, so the entirety of homosexualism, the emergence of which postdates by several years our own humane and necessary decriminalisation of male homosexual acts between consenting adults in private, goes back to the buggery of boys as young as eight, if not younger.

Thus, here in Britain, homosexualism has organised around demands for apparently endless reductions in the age of consent, as well as around equally Kinseyian calls for the legal, social and cultural legitimisation of sadomasochism, transgender activities, substance abuse, every degree of promiscuity consistent with physical possibility, hardcore pornography, and sex in public places. Such legitimisation is not in itself confined to homosexual contexts, so that the unrepentant combination of recreational cocaine use and heterosexual sadomasochistic prostitution is now considered compatible with one of the very highest offices in the land, and is if anything treated as a gigantic joke. No one asked us, the electorate at large, if that was now our view of such practices. It is not.

The Catholic Church of the late 1960s and early 1970s lost confidence, due to the misappropriation of the name of the Second Vatican Council by pre-existing secularising tendencies in the Western world, rather than from anything in the Conciliar documents themselves; see my book, Essays Radical and Orthodox.

This loss of confidence made the internationally trend-setting American Catholic Church, which might have held the line against Kinsey and then against Stonewall and NAMBLA, susceptible to those twin forces of evil. So the views and methods of Kinsey and his disciples were incorporated into the training of priests and into the selection of candidates. At the time, the advocates of sex between adult men and adolescent boys were the most vocal of the lobbies looking to Kinsey, giving them the most influence over that training and selection.

We all know what happened next, although it is worth pointing out that the acts which have brought such shame on the Church have hardly ever involved pre-pubescent children, or indeed girls of any age; for that, you need a book long recommended to Criminology postgraduates at Cambridge. Rather, they are acts between men and teenage boys, which anti-Catholic media, academic and political types have been seeking for decades to make legally, socially and culturally acceptable, applying no social disapproval to those, such as Jonathan King, who engage in them, any more than, for example, to those who use cocaine. Such types’ hypocrisy over the scandals in the Catholic Church has been, and remains, sickening. Nor may one overlook the fact that these scandals have been presented in a manner agreeable to calls for the large-scale ordination of married men, for the “ordination” of women, and for the purported incorporation of homosexual genital activity into sacramental marriage.

But married men sometimes abuse children. So do women, probably in vast numbers given their far easier access to children even in the nude; like, for example, domestic violence against men, those who control this field ideologically refuse to conduct the necessary research, in this case because it does not fit their presupposed agenda of excluding (heterosexually inclined) men from the socialisation of children. The priests who had sex with teenage boys were not repressed, but the very reverse.

Especially in America, the Priesthood has been packed with such unrepressed, so that their inevitable exposure could be used, in due season, to demand so-called reforms that would not improve the situation in the slightest. And such has now come to pass. It is inconceivable that the priestesses lobby, in particular, was not fully complicit in this, since for decades it has effectively controlled access to ordination in many American dioceses, while its influence is also still growing in Britain and elsewhere.

Given this enormous amount of medical malpractice, consumer fraud and other offences, class actions need to be filed against the Keepers of the Kinsey Flame: Johns Hopkins University, the Kinsey Institute at the University of Indiana, the San Francisco-based Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counsellors and Therapists), SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the United States), the SSS (Society for the Scientific Study of Sex), Planned Parenthood, the ever-generous Rockefeller Foundation, and numerous subsidiaries around the world. Just for starters. Those interested should contact Dr Judith Reisman, who describes her own perspective as non-religious: or

Buy the book here.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Majority Strategy

And so the attention of the right-wing media turns to the means of securing an overall majority in 2015. General Elections are not won and lost in the South East. The South East is the least conservative part of the country. It is therefore the part with the highest level of support for the post-Thatcher Conservative Party.

If General Elections really were won and lost there, then there would have been a Conservative Government with a large majority in 2005. In the days when that party used to win Elections outright rather than having to be propped up by someone else, then it did so by winning considerable numbers of seats in Scotland, Wales, the North and the Midlands. The equally ignored battle between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in the West Country and in Hampshire has also made the difference between a majority government and a hung Parliament at every General Election for many years. The consequences of that fact last time might even cause a bit of attention to be paid to the more westerly half of the South next time. But do not hold your breath. Those are all much more conservative places than the South East.

By losing first many and then most of its Scottish, Welsh, Northern and Midland seats, and by failing to hold or regain ground in the West Country and in Hampshire, the Conservative Party first nearly and then actually lost power in 1992 and 1997 respectively. It seems that by 2015, they will have condemned the electorally key areas to darkness long into the morning for much of the year, by having imposed Central European Time with the connivance of a Coalition partner which has already collapsed north of the Wash and is ripe for collapse west of the Solent.

In 1992, only the most obsessive political anorak had ever even heard of Tony Blair. And that was still the case on Golden Wednesday, when the Conservative defeat, and thus the Labour victory by default, became a done deal. Furthermore, the Conservatives’ failure to regain power first at all and then on its own has consisted precisely in its failure to regain those Scottish, Welsh, Northern and Midland seats. By contrast, the Labour gains in the South East in 1997 were just a bonus, and the loss of most of them in 2005 made no real difference. Indeed, only in 2005 did Blair finally influence a General Election result at all. Specifically, he lost Labour 100 seats that any other Labour Leader would have saved. Thus he moved from being a mere irrelevance to being a positive liability.

However, the Conservatives, deprived of any significant parliamentary link with the areas that really matter electorally, entirely failed to register this. Instead, they installed as Leader a Blair clone, because he played well in the South East and in polls with the 34 to 38 per cent of determined non-voters dishonestly factored out.

Buy the book here.

Any Old Iron

Peter Hitchens has been setting American Conservative readers right about Margaret Thatcher. But even he is too soft on her, from a conservative point of view.

What was Thatcherism, really? What did she ever actually do? She gave Britain the Single European Act, the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the Exchange Rate Mechanism. She gave Britain the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, the Children Act, and the replacement of O-levels with GCSEs, the last so much of a piece with her closure, while she was Education Secretary, of so many grammar schools that there were not enough left at the end for her record ever to be equalled. During the same period, she raised no objection in Cabinet to the European Communities Act, to the abolition of ancient counties, to metrication and decimalisation, to the de facto decriminalisation of cannabis, to the first attempt at Scottish and Welsh devolution, or to the only ever attempt to withdraw from Ireland, all under a Prime Minister who had previously devastated small and family business by abolishing Resale Price Maintenance. And she gave Britain the destruction of the economic basis of paternal authority.

No Prime Minister, ever, has done more in any one, never mind all, of the causes of European federalism, Irish Republicanism, sheer economic incompetence, police inefficiency and ineffectiveness, the extension of the power of the State into the proper sphere of the family, collapsing educational standards, and everything that underlies or follows from the destruction of paternal authority. She did not come out against a single European currency until a rally 10 and half years after the end of her 10 and half years as Prime Minister, by which point it was far from clear that she knew what she was saying.

Thereby, the middle classes were transformed from people like her father into people like her son. Her humble origins were massively exaggerated. Her father was a prominent local businessman and politician who ran most of the committees and charities for miles around, sent her to a fee-paying school, and put her through Oxford without a scholarship. She told us, and she really did, that “there is no such thing as society”, in which case there cannot be any such thing as the society that is the family, or the society that is the nation. She turned Britain into the country that Marxists had always said it was, even though, before her, it never actually had been.

Specifically, she sold off national assets at obscenely undervalued prices. Meanwhile, she subjected the rest of the public sector, 40 per cent of the economy, to an unprecedented level of dirigisme. She compelled the local forms of the State to make gifts of considerable capital assets to people who were thus able to enter the property market ahead of private tenants who had saved for their deposits. She invented the Housing Benefit racket, vastly more expensive than maintaining a stock of council housing, and integral to the massively increased benefit dependency of the 1980s. She presided over the rise of Political Correctness, part of that decade’s general moral chaos, which also included her introduction of abortion up to birth, and her mercifully unsuccessful attempts to abolish the special status of Sunday and to end Christian teaching in state schools.

Hers was the assault on the monarchy, since she scorned the Commonwealth, social cohesion, historical continuity and public Christianity, and called the Queen “the sort of person who votes for the SDP”, arrogating to herself the properly monarchical and royal role on the national and international stages, using her most popular supporting newspaper to vilify the Royal Family, and legislating to pre-empt the courts on both sides of the Atlantic by renouncing the British Parliament’s role in the amendment of the Canadian Constitution, as well as, on the instructions of Rupert Murdoch, to abolish the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to legislate for individual Australian states, to end the British Government’s consultative role in Australian state-level affairs, and to deprive the Queen’s Australian subjects of their right of appeal to Her Majesty in Council.

Hers was the war against the unions, which cannot have had anything to do with monetarism, since the unions have never controlled the money supply. Hers was the refusal to privatise the Post Office, thank goodness, but against all her stated principles. Hers were the continuing public subsidies to fee-paying schools, to agriculture, to nuclear power, and to mortgage-holders. Without those subsidies, the fourth would hardly have existed, and the other three would not have existed at all. The issue is not whether any of them is a good or a bad thing in itself. The issue is whether “Thatcherism” was compatible with their continuation by means of “market-bucking” public subsidies. It simply was not.

Hers was the ludicrous pretence to have brought down the Soviet Union merely because she happened to be in office when that Union happened to collapse, which it would have done anyway, as predicted by Enoch Powell. But she did make a difference internationally where it was possible to do so, by providing aid and succour to Pinochet’s Chile and to apartheid South Africa. I condemn the former as I condemn Castro, and I condemn the latter as I condemn Mugabe (or Ian Smith, for that matter). No doubt you do, too. But she did not, as she still does not. Hers was the refusal to recognise Muzorewa, holding out for the Soviet-backed Nkomo as if he would have been any better than the Chinese-backed Mugabe, for whom she nevertheless secured a knighthood. Hers was a continuous, vigorously denied contact with the IRA, from whose apparent attempt on her life she escaped by something ostensibly resembling a miracle, which contributed greatly to her personal and political legend.

And hers was what amounted to the open invitation to Argentina to invade the Falkland Islands, followed by the (starved) Royal Navy’s having to behave as if the hopelessly out-of-her-depth Prime Minister did not exist, a sort of coup without which those Islands would be Argentine to this day. She had of course been about to sell the ships in question, at a knocked down price, to Argentina. Nor did she experience any electoral bounce as a result of the war that she had caused in the Falklands; on the contrary, the figures make it crystal clear that the Conservative Party took fewer actual votes in 1983 than it had done in 1979, and won the 1983 Election only because it faced a divided Opposition, both parts of which had in any case supported the conflict that her incompetence had made unavoidable.

Was she “the Iron Lady” when, in early 1981, her initial pit closure programme was abandoned within two days of a walkout by the miners? Was she “the Iron Lady” when she had one of her closest allies, Nicholas Ridley, negotiate a transfer of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands to Argentina, to be followed by a lease-back arrangement, until the Islanders, the Labour Party and Tory backbenchers forced her to back down? Was she “the Iron Lady” when, within a few months of election on clear commitments with regard to Rhodesia, she simply abandoned them at the Commonwealth Conference in Lusaka? Was she “the Iron Lady” when, having claimed that Britain would never give up Hong Kong, she took barely 24 hours to return to Planet Earth and effect a complete U-turn? Was she “the Iron Lady” when she took just as little time to move from public opposition to public support of Spanish accession to the Western European Union? Was she “the Iron Lady” when she gave up monetarism completely during her second term?

There are many other aspects of any Thatcherism properly so called, and they all present her in about as positive a light. None of them, nor any of the above, was unwitting, or forced on her by any sort of bullying, or whatever else her apologists insist was the case. Rather, they were exactly what she intended. Other than the subsidies to agriculture (then as now) and to nuclear power (now, if not necessarily then), I deplore and despise every aspect of that record and legacy, for unashamedly Old Labour reasons. Indeed, the definition of New Labour is to support and to celebrate that record and legacy, because it did exactly as it was intended to do: it entrenched, in and through the economic sphere, the social revolution of the 1960s. You should not so support or celebrate unless you wish to be considered New Labour.

But then again, who cares these days? Or, rather, who really ought to care? She has now been out of office for nearly twice as long as she was in. People have already voted in a General Election who were not born when she left. The next Leader of her own party may be one such, the Leader after that is almost certain to be. By the time of a 2015 General Election, she is most unlikely to be alive. People born in the 1990s are now entering university and the world of work. Entirely dispassionately, they will ask who was Prime Minister when the principle of unanimity in the Council of Ministers was surrendered, or when the police were first deluged with paperwork, or when O-levels were replaced with GCSEs, or when the dole became something that large numbers of people claimed for years on end. Among so very many other things. They might even ask why, if the 1970s were so bad, there was no Conservative landslide in 1979, when that party only just scraped in, and would not have done so if there had been an even swing throughout the country. Or they might ask about how the combined Labour and SDP votes were higher than the Conservative vote both in 1983 and in 1987. They might even ask why her own party got rid of her and then went on to win an Election that it had been expected to lose. Get over her.

Buy the book here.

You Don't Know Rick

Christopher Hitchens was wrong about an awful lot. But he was right about the Kennedys. They may be judged by the motley crew that rallied to Bobby in 1968: the not always mutually exclusive categories of Friedmanites and Trotskyites, Israel Firsters and white supremacists; in the California primary, he denounced Eugene McCarthy’s support for public housing as a “catastrophic” proposal to move black people into Orange County.

The JFK attitude to the relationship between the Catholic Faith and political life was heretical in principle, and has duly proved catastrophic in practice. Since 1776 predates 1789, the American Republic is not a product of the Revolution, but nevertheless sits under a radically orthodox theological critique which, simply in order to function, would have as its first item of business the eradication of the concept of “the separation of Church and State”, almost the exact opposite of the original intention of the First Amendment, which was to protect the Established Churches of several states from the Deist hostility of the Founding Fathers, figures whom any theologically redefined Americanism must, to put at its very politest, reassess entirely.

That critique must draw on sources from the Continent, but its main source is the wellspring of doubt about the entire legitimacy of the Hanoverian State, its Empire, and that Empire’s capitalist ideology. That doubt was passed down among Catholics, High Churchmen (and thus first Methodists and then also Anglo-Catholics, as well as Scottish Episcopalians), Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others, giving rise to the campaign against the slave trade, to Tory and Radical extensions of the franchise, to Tory and Radical uses of government action against social evils, to the emergence of the Labour Movement, and to the opposition to the Boer and First World Wars.

Those who would rightly locate the American experiment within a wider British tradition need to recognise that this is the wider British tradition in question, and that it necessarily includes the most searing critique of the Founding Fathers and of their Deism and their classical liberalism, which latter, at least, is the only ideology of the American Republic that they founded, not necessarily the only one that there can ever be. But there will and can be none of that from Rick Santorum, who embodies the tendency of a significant section of the Italian-American community to become Republicans because they found their local Democratic parties already run by the Irish; his battle against the Caseys in Pennsylvania encapsulates this old, old feud, and his view of the Kennedys is doubtless informed by it.

Those Italians thus participated in, and were influenced by, the developments within the Republican Party. At best, they have become more or less paleoconservative, which in turn brings them within the orbit of critiques, not least Catholic critiques, of capitalism. At worst, they have become Rick Santorum. Rather mirroring the battle for the Republican Party itself this year. Once and for all, is it the Party of God, or is it the Party of Mammon? The slow motion coronation of the candidate of big business in all its social liberalism and global military adventurism should settle that. To the surprise of nobody who has ever been paying attention.

But no, of course Santorum does not believe that “sex is solely about reproduction”. Paragraphs 2360 to 2363 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach that:

Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptised persons are sanctified by the sacrament. Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realised in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death. The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honourable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude. Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure. The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family. The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.

The point is illustrated by a quotation from Tobit, indicating that the view of sexual intercourse within marriage as not solely concerned with procreation can only be defended from Scripture if one acknowledges the full Canon of the Old Testament, rather than the truncated one erroneously adopted by Protestants in imitation of Jews who had excised certain Books, including that of Tobit, specifically because they were likely to lead people into Christianity.

The American Church, especially, is riven between
“conservatives” who accept the Church’s Teaching on bioethical and sexual matters while pretending not to know that the economic and foreign policies that they excoriate are in fact the Church’s Teaching on justice and peace, and “liberals” who accept the Church’s Teaching on justice and peace while excoriating that on most bioethical and most or all sexual matters. Neither is any more orthodox than the other. How about reporting and commenting on Santorum’s enormous and startling departures from Catholic orthodoxy on economics and on wars, rather than his unremarkable adherence to Catholic orthodoxy on bioethical and sexual matters?

Buy the books here and here.

The New Bosnia

Brendan O'Neill writes:

Oh no, this is not good, this is not good at all: more and more Western observers are starting to describe Syria as "the new Bosnia". Which can mean only one thing. The liberal commentariat is on the hunt for a new mission, for another messy civil war that it can squeeze into a simplistic moral framework, for a new foreign field that it can transform into a soapbox from which to declare its unwavering commitment to the combat of "evil". Yes, the crusading chattering classes are determined to fill the Bosnia-shaped hole in their lives, and by God they will do everything they can to make Syria fit.

You can always tell when the Left-leaning commentariat is feeling bored with life – it starts fantasising about "new Bosnias", about horror-riddled lands overseas which require the good men and women of Hampstead, Paris and New York to highlight their plight. The discovery of "new Bosnias" never tells us much about what is actually happening in the world. After all, how could the historically specific three-year conflict that tore the former Yugoslavia apart in the early 1990s magically reappear in a different place and with different actors? History doesn't work like that. Rather, the talk of "new Bosnias" speaks to a desperate and narcissistic need for a foreign debacle that might provide these Westerners with the same sense of purpose they last felt during "the original Bosnia".

So even though there are vast differences between Bosnia 1992 and Syria 2012, hacks are starting to ask "Is Syria the new Bosnia?" The "bombardment of Homs is eerily similar to what happened in Sarajevo in 1992", says one commentator, despite the fact that numerous city sieges over the past 20 years, including Gaddafi's of Benghazi or America's of Fallujah, could be compared with Sarajevo. "In its random cruelty, the conflict in Syria starts to resemble the war in Bosnia 20 years ago", says a Reuters reporter – as if all wars, everywhere, have not always contained acts of random cruelty. The influential Washington Institute says that when trying to work out what to do about Syria, we should "draw on lessons from Bosnia in the 1990s". Others who likewise look at the world through Bosnia Goggles, hoping to spot another civil conflict that might provide the witterings of pro-intervention iPad imperialists with some gravitas, tell us there is an "air of déjà vu about these scenes [in Syria]".

Yet the only thing that Syria has in common with Bosnia – which it also shares with less fashionable modern conflicts, from Congo to Sri Lanka – is that it is bloody and complex and tragic. The real motivation behind the use of the historically illiterate "new Bosnia" tag is not accurate assessment of what is unfolding in Syria, but rather to cohere the currently crusade-less commentariat around a new foreign mission. They are desperate for a repeat of the Bosnia buzz of the early 1990s, when everyone from playwrights to pop stars to journalists-cum-warriors-against-the-Nazi-Serbs descended on Sarajevo to shed tears, swig whiskey, and pose for photos in front of tanks. It is really the self-serving moralising of the Bosnia period that is being reproduced; we are told that Syria today, just like Bosnia in the early 1990s, shows that "sitting on one's hands… is not a strategy but a substitute for one".

In short, what these Bosniaheads really see in Syria is an opportunity to repeat the grandstanding they indulged in during the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s, to demonstrate once more their own goodness by calling for "the world" to intervene on the side of "good" against "evil". They want to reduce Syria to a simple litmus test of the resolve and decency of Our Generation, just as they did the war in Bosnia. They're so vain, they think the conflict in Syria is about them.

One might bemoan the obvious pull of the Revolutionary Communist Party, what with its regular occupancy of two seats on The Moral Maze, what with Mick Hume’s Times column, and what with Brendan’s blog; one looks in vain for any such voice, either of the conservative, Tory critiques of global capitalism, military adventurism, American hegemony, and Zionism, or of the patriotic, socially conservative, utterly non-Marxist tendencies within the British Left. But, as with its battles against neo-Malthusianism and against the resurrection of the Yellow Peril, the old Living Marxism set deserves to be commended for its resistance to the dismemberment of Yugoslavia.

The state schools of Sarajevo have now banned the white-bearded figure known to Croat children as Dred Božinjak (Father Christmas), to Serb children as Božik Bata (Christmas Friend), and even, in the last 50 years, to Bosnian Muslim children as Deda Mraz (Grandfather Frost). Expect these schools, and other public institutions, to enforce Islamic dress codes, dietary laws and so forth in the very near future, if they are not already doing so. Christian, Jewish, Alawite and Druze Syria could expect a very similar fate under the Assads’ enemies; the present Syrian Government’s extensive programme for the restoration of Jewish holy sites indicates a thriving community of Jews, whatever neighbours with agenda of their own might have us believe.

Republika Srpska will declare independence sooner rather than later, and will deserve every support when she does. The Bosnian Croats are also coming round. The West backed the wrong side in Bosnia, Europe’s first Islamist state, complete with a constitutional ban on Jews (and Gypsies) becoming President or Senators, a ban befitting a state founded by an old SS recruitment sergeant turned Wahhabi rabble-rouser. The West also backed the wrong side in Kosovo, Europe’s second Islamist state, where the Wahhabism and the Nazi nostalgia are mixed in with heroin-trafficking, with prostitution, and with the Maoism of Enver Hoxha, as well as with trafficking in human organs horrifically obtained, as some of us have been saying for years, and as everyone, or at least everyone morally and intellectually serious, finally admits. And now, we are on the cusp of backing the wrong side in Syria, as strategically vital a country as it is possible to imagine.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

1812 Overture?

200 years ago, the Royal Navy was at least allegedly kidnapping American sailors and press ganging them into the service of the Crown.

200 years later, American marshals are kidnapping Britons right here on our soil, right before our very television cameras.


Upstairs, Downstairs is just a bit of fun, I suppose. But even so, its depiction of the events leading up to the Second World War is quite laughably irresponsible and quite irresponsibly laughable. The Master of the House is depicted as diplomat heroically close to Churchill and Eden, and tonight's episode suggested that the whole thing was about the persecution of the Jews, no part of the cause of the War at the time, and not a cause with which impeccably aristocratic people would almost ever have had very much sympathy.

On a Sunday evening last year, the same channel showed the infinitely superior Glorious 39, which suggested that the tide might at last have been turning. Bill Nighy's character, an upper-class Tory MP (although his views were held across all classes and parties at the time), was not a Nazi sympathiser, as almost no one was, although that, too, was distributed across both the social scale and the political spectrum. Rather, he saw that Britain in 1939 was in no fit state to fight a war against Germany, he was determined not to subject another generation of young men to what he himself had endured, he understood that the dispute between Hitler and Stalin for control of Eastern Europe was no concern of Britain's, and he recognised such a conflict as a threat to everything that he and his people - once again, regardless of class or of political allegiance - held dear.

And what was that? We ended up giving Poland to Stalin anyway. How was that any better than letting Hitler have Poland in the first place? We lost our global status, and were in debt to our great rival for it right up until 29th December 2006. Have you got that? 2006! Moral standards collapsed during the War, and everything to do with the Swinging Sixties really started then. We laugh now about the women from whose bedrooms the Normandy Landings were reputedly launched. But it was, and is, no laughing matter. There is always a baby boom after a war, so there was bound to be the Baby Boom after the War, imposing its views and tastes on both its elders and its juniors. Apparently for ever. There were warnings about this in the Thirties. But then, there were warnings about a lot of things in the Thirties.

Germany rules via the EU, and has better schools, policing, transport infrastructure, working conditions, and standards of behaviour than we have, as well as cleaner streets, a huge domestic manufacturing base, and ownership of her own industries. She has long been out of recession. Of course we had to defeat the country that was subjecting our towns and cities to nightly aerial bombardment. But how and why did we ever put ourselves in that position? What for?

Even the usually cited silver lining turns out to be illusory. There was no need to get the British used to large-scale State action by means of the War, thereby paving the way for the Welfare State and for public ownership. The Tory Britain of the Inter-War years was not only no stranger to nationalisation (of the BBC and of electricity, for example), but had the most advanced Welfare State in the world, with Britons taking for granted the things to which American New Deal Democrats, Swedish Social Democrats and the New Zealand Labour Party still only aspired. Taking them for granted under the Tories.

No wonder that all three parties offered Keynes and Beveridge Commons nominations (but they both stuck with the Liberals, so they both had to be given peerages instead), and no wonder that the NHS was in all three manifestos in 1945. The Conservative Party did eventually vote against it on a couple of technicalities, but only in the secure knowledge that it was going to go through anyway. On returning to office in 1951, when the NHS was very new and practically bankrupt, they left it intact, as they continued to do until after last year's General Election, which Labour would have won outright if the Conservatives' real agenda for the NHS had previously been made public. Tellingly, those agenda have still yet to be given practical effect. Far from the War's hastening the emergence of what came to be seen as the post-War settlement, in reality it delayed that already well-advanced emergence by an unnecessary six years.

Now, when can we expect a television drama about how there was never a German scheme to invade Britain, and how Hitler's occasional imaginative forays into that area caused the professional top brass of his Navy to threaten open mutiny? Or about how the Soviet Union that had been broken by the War had neither the means nor the will to invade Western Europe, never mind to cross the Atlantic or the Pacific, and had no mind to repeat the creation of alternative Communist powers by turning any major Western European country into another Yugoslavia, never mind turning the United States into another China? Such a drama would be Glorious, indeed. Unlike, to this extent, Upstairs, Downstairs.

Do Try And Keep Up

Arising out of an exchange with some simpleton elsewhere: Tony Blair said that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq capable of deployment against British targets within 45 minutes. That, the sole reason for British participation in the Iraq War, was a barefaced lie.

That lie led to Blair's removal from office by his own party, the party that now boos the mention of his name at its Conference, whereas the Leader of the Conservative Party is applauded by his delegates for castigating that booing. That lie also causes a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to be unable to enter numerous countries due to a perfectly well-founded fear of arrest. But that lie has made Blair by far the richest former Prime Minister in British history, including those who enjoyed fabulous inherited wealth.

And Blair himself has since admitted that lie to Fern Britton, blustering that it didn't matter, because Saddam Hussein was A Very Bad Man. If he had said that to one of the great and the good of journalism, such as on Newsnight or the Today programme, then he would have been ruined, and would probably now be in prison. But you only get to be one of the great and the good of journalism by knowing never to ask that sort of question. Or really any sort of question at all when it comes to the political figures whose courtier you are, or the commercial figures whose courtiers they are.

Do try and keep up.

If Not Putin, Who?

With terrifying photographs leaving absolutely no doubt as to who and what the Russian "Opposition" really is, Peter Hitchens writes:

I like Vladimir Putin. I wish I did not. But I cannot help it. I know that by saying so, I will trigger the lofty wrath of the right-thinking lobby which wants to portray modern Russia as the Evil Empire in a new Cold War. In that war, which they are trying so hard to start, they will see me as a traitor. But it is exactly because I love my own country that I can see the point of Mr Putin.

He stands – as no other major leader does in the world today – for the rights of nations to decide their own business inside their own borders. He has underlined that by refusing to join in the rash American-backed effort to destabilise the Assad regime in Syria. He has dared to wield a real veto (unlike David Cameron’s disposable cardboard one) and face the consequences. He has used his country’s huge oil and gas reserves to maintain an independent state. And he has rejected the current mania for privatisation and market forces as the cure for all ills.

Russia, he believes, has had quite enough privatisation. And that is why the searing beam of selective outrage is being turned on him by the global media and many Western foreign ministries, not to mention the ‘activists’ who roam the world deciding which governments are bad and which good. That is why you are being invited to rejoice at the anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow, while dozens of other equally justified protests in other countries go unreported. That is why you are expected to hope that he is badly bruised in the presidential election next Sunday, March 4. It is why you will one day be invited to applaud some sort of mob revolution aimed at his overthrow.

It may even succeed. If so, it will be followed by the usual disappointment. Who now cares about squalid Ukraine, whose ‘Orange Revolution’ was supposed to be a new dawn of humanity? But by the time their revolution goes sour, Mr Putin’s high-minded critics will have swivelled their searchlight on to another target. Russian corruption and repression will suddenly be acceptable and forgotten in a Moscow that will have been forced – – as it was in the Yeltsin years – to accept Western interference in its economy and around its frontiers.

Let us not be blind here. Mr Putin is without doubt a sinister tyrant at the head of a corrupt government. His private life and wealth are a mystery. His personality cult – bare-chested tough-guy, horseman, diver, jet pilot – is creepy and would be laughable if it were not a serious method of keeping power. The lawless jailing of the businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky is his direct fault. The hideous death in custody of the courageous lawyer Sergei Magnitsky is a terrible blot on Putin’s thuggish state. The murders of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko are symptoms of the sickness of modern Russia.

The general cynicism of the Russian government is breathtaking. It does all the things that men of power want to do in the rest of the world but daren’t because of restraints of law and custom. If you doubt that, look at the way Western states behaved during the ‘war on terror’. Meanwhile, who can deny that despotism and corruption are endemic in this sad, ravaged country? I should know. I spent two of the most important years of my life in Moscow when it was much, much worse. It was the very heart of an evil empire whose aims and ideas threatened the whole happiness of mankind.

This is where, 22 years ago, I came to live in a dark and secretive building where my neighbours were KGB men and the aristocrats of the old Kremlin elite. Here, in this mysterious and often dangerous place, I saw what lies just beneath our frail and fleeting civilisation – bones, blood, death, injustice, despair, horror, loss, corruption and fear. I grasped for the first time how wonderfully safe and lucky I had been all my life in the unique miracle of freedom and law that is – or was – England. I learned to respect, above all, those who managed to retain some sort of integrity amid the knee-deep filth of communist Moscow. I also learned not to be too unkind to those who made compromises with it. I was there as a privileged person. Would I have been able to stay clean if I had lived as they did? Would you? I very much doubt it.

I saw the last hammers and sickles pulled down, and the braziers full of smouldering Communist Party membership cards the day the all-powerful Party died. I saw the tanks trundle along my street as they tried to restore communism, and I saw them, and their cause, depart for ever. I witnessed oppressed peoples throw off Soviet rule. In the course of that struggle, I saw for the first time what a human head looks like after a bullet has passed through it, and also what a human face looks like when it is telling direct lies about murder. When I finally left, I was sure that a horrible fog of lies and perversion had been scoured from the surface of the earth when communism ended.

I am confident that it will not come back. From now on, it is just Russia – heartbroken, ravaged, afraid, desperate and cruel, but no longer a menace to us. Nor is Putin’s frosty rule comparable to the gangster chaos of Boris Yeltsin – a drunken, debauched disaster that reduced millions of Russians to selling their personal possessions on the street to stay alive. It is not just me saying this. The distinguished Russian film director Stanislav Govorukhin – whose devastating documentary We Can’t Go On Living Like This helped end the communist era – is now working for Putin. He recalls that the Yeltsin era was ‘a thieving outrage, open plunder. Billions were stolen, factories and whole industry sectors. They destroyed and stole, they ground Russia into dust’. But, now, he says, ‘we have returned to “normal”, “civilised” corruption’.

This is, on the face of it, an astonishing thing to say. But most Russians readily understand it. Their country, almost always subject to absolute power, has been corrupt from its beginning. One of the greatest of pre-revolutionary Russian historians, Nikolai Karamzin, asked to sum up the character and story of his country and people, replied with just one word ‘Voruyut’ – ‘They steal’. But in the communist era, the state and the Party stole their private lives, their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers, and dragged them to death camps. And in the Yeltsin era, when Western ‘experts’ stalked the land, the nation’s rulers stole the whole country. I am not arguing in favour of this state of affairs, just pointing out that if the only alternative is even worse, you might see its advantages.

But I can see no reason at all why Britain should seek to undermine Russia’s government. And I can see many reasons why we should in future be friends. One of them is that Vladimir Putin, alone of all the major national leaders of our times, refuses to be pushed around by supranational bodies. It would be good to see our own government doing the same thing. After all, how many of us are as keen as we used to be on the supposed cure-alls and blessings of human rights, privatisation, the United Nations, the European Union, open borders, political correctness and free trade? Mr Putin’s Russia is refreshingly free of these things. I suspect that private speech and thought are – paradoxically – more uncontrolled under Mr Putin’s iron tyranny than they are in liberal Britain.

Russia also spotted long ago that the New Globalists – led by Anthony Blair – wanted to dissolve independent countries and replace them with dependent, subservient provinces in a New World Order. When that process pushed into Ukraine and the Caucasus, Putin angrily resisted, and was lied about by Western media and politicians as a result. To this day, a lot of people believe that Russia was in the wrong in its war with tiny Georgia in 2010. In fact, Georgia’s leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, provoked a dangerous conflict in the hope of manoeuvring the United States into supporting him. Saakashvili, supposedly a democrat, came to power in a mob-bolstered putsch nauseatingly named ‘the Rose Revolution’. Since then he has used Putin-like methods to crush opposition. In November 2007 he sent his police on to the streets of Tbilisi to club and gas anti-corruption demonstrators, and shut an opposition TV station. But because he is on the side of globalism, his sins are unknown.

This is what everyone should remember as they read and view the current wave of media unanimity about the evils of Vladimir Putin. The world is full of corrupt despotisms. But you never hear anything about most of them. The selective outrage about Russia pretends to be morally driven. It has another purpose. Here is an alternative report from Moscow, the one you won’t read anywhere else. Let its theme be the slogan on the smart, expensive banners of official pro-Putin demonstrations, most of whose participants are bribed or cajoled into attending.

‘If not Putin, who?’

The same question has occurred to Anastasia, which is not the real name of a TV reporter who knows in nasty detail how censorship has operated for years in Russian broadcasting. So Anastasia, who regards freedom of speech in Putin’s Russia as an illusion, might be expected to be keen on the anti-Putin protests. Yet, much as she loathes the repression, she is ‘totally disappointed’ by the opposition, which is amateur and offers no serious alternative. When she stops to think about the future of her country, she sighs: ‘The only rational conclusion is despair.’ She is – like many intelligent, informed Muscovites – unimpressed by and suspicious of Alexei Navalny, the fashionable Western-educated blogger who has made a name for himself by exposing corruption.

Western liberals seldom mention Navalny’s other side, a caustic Russian nationalism that has led him into the sordid company of neo-Nazis. Westerners tend to accept his claim that a creepy video, in which he used the word ‘cockroaches’ to refer to terrorists from the Caucasus, is a joke. Some joke. While actual cockroaches can be killed with a slipper, he says in the 2007 recording, ‘for humans I recommend a pistol’. Guardian readers and BBC types, currently lionising Navalny, would rightly cast him into outer darkness if he were an Englishman who held comparable views.

The same point was made to me by Dmitry (I have decided not to use his surname), a worker for a Moscow small business, introduced to me by a Putin critic, and absolutely not a plant. ‘Foreigners like meeting people who are protesting against something,’ he scoffs. ‘If I look at the whole political spectrum from Left to Right, I can see only one candidate to whom we can trust the future of my country, and that is Putin.’ His main motivation is a hatred of the Western-dominated Yeltsin era, and a strong patriotic pride. Dmitry says Putin saved the integrity of the country by crushing the Chechen revolt – something Yeltsin tried and failed to do, with equal brutality but much less foreign criticism. ‘In 1999, our country was on the edge of falling apart. If we had lost Chechnya, we could have lost the whole North Caucasus and been reduced in the end to a rump state of Muscovy. That would have been the end of Russia.’

We should not underestimate the feeling of wounded patriotism in a country which – not unreasonably – feels itself constantly vulnerable to invasion. Nor should we neglect the millions of older people who have – under Putin – received their pensions regularly, and been able to save without fear of inflation, thanks to the Moscow government’s prudent and astute use of oil revenues. The mother of an old friend of mine, a naval widow who lived most of her life in conditions of unbelievable Soviet drabness, now looks forward to regular holidays on Turkish Mediterranean beaches.

As for corruption, Dmitry snorts at Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption campaign. And, as so often, the loathed name of Boris Yeltsin comes up. He recalls Yeltsin, in the Eighties, as Moscow’s Communist Party boss, abandoning his chauffeured car, travelling on a crowded trolleybus and making a great show of his incorruptibility. ‘It made him very popular. But he ended up as the most corrupt of all. He destroyed everything that was good from the Soviet times. It was wasted and given away. The gap between the very rich and the very poor was greater than ever. He ended up totally, totally corrupt and gave everything away to the oligarchs.’

To get the other view I visited Anna, a beautiful young mother, a member of Moscow’s gentle, bookish intellectual class. Like so many Muscovites, she lives her life behind a grey-painted steel front door that looks as if it has been cut from the armour-plating of a warship, and tells you more about the nervous, lawless reality of Russia than anything I can say. I asked her to answer that persistent question: ‘If not Putin, who?’ And she could not. Instead she complained – with justice – that Putin has destroyed, or prevented the rise of, any serious challenger. ‘There is no adequate leader because the stage has been swept clean of rivals,’ she mourned. She did not dwell on the other side of this, that Russia’s liberals discredited themselves for ever by being associated with the hated Yeltsin years. Anna saw Navalny as inspiring, and a possible future challenger. She made light of his nationalism – even though people of her class and politics would normally loathe such views.

It was frustrating to talk to Anna, so intelligent, so concerned for her country and worried about how her son would grow up under Putin’s iron rule. But she admitted that Putin’s nature had been clear for many years, and had not just suddenly emerged. He had crushed media dissent and rigged elections since he first came to power in 2002, yet nobody had complained. So why be so militant now? Anna and today’s protesters are, in fact, angry at their own past complacency. So they may well be. They are fine, admirable people and, in some unforeseeable future, I hope against hope they will get the Russia that they want.

But this grim part of the planet is not like our secure, gentle island. Fear – fear of invasion, fear of chaos, fear of want – presses in from every direction. Fear is, in fact, normal. The best they can hope for is to neutralise it. Despots thrive on fear, for it gives them a pretext to gather power into their fists. When Russians get rid of their fear and scrap their armoured-steel front doors, they may be ready for an ordered, lawful and incorruptible free state.

Until then, if not Putin, who?

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Nationally Humiliating, Lawless and Limitlessly Dangerous

Peter Hitchens writes:

What is the difference between extradition and kidnapping? I used to know, but I am no longer sure. Because an emotional spasm about ‘terrorism’ caused us to take leave of our senses, we are all now at the mercy of foreign governments that take a dislike to us. In some cases we can be snatched from our homes and families because we are charged with actions which are not even crimes here. In some cases we can be hauled away in manacles on the demand of some politically driven American prosecutor. I used to admire American justice, but since the state-sponsored panic under George W. Bush, I am sadly disillusioned.

The penalty for daring to plead not guilty – certain financial ruin and a possible 35-year sentence – is so savage that the presumption of innocence, and jury trial itself, have been to all intents and purposes abolished. This means that the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution – which guarantees the right to a fair trial, and is one of the glories of America – has been violated and destroyed. That is bad enough, but we shouldn’t forget our other, equally unforgivable surrender of national independence, the EU arrest warrant. Bulgarian justice, anyone? Both the new US-UK extradition treaty and the EU arrest warrant were rammed through Parliament on the basis that they would fight ‘terror’.

Wise and far-sighted questions were raised about this enormous change when it was first proposed. The heartbreaking case of Christopher Tappin, the British businessman extradited to America last week, against whom there seems to be nothing resembling evidence of wrongdoing or guilty intent, is exactly what its critics feared. This episode is so unfair that any proper British patriot must surely be moved to cold fury by it.

What is interesting is that while the problem has been obvious for years, nothing has been done about it. Worse, authority has pretended that there is nothing to worry about. Sir Scott Baker’s recent report into extradition said complacently that there was ‘no significant difference’ between what the US needs to do to extradite one of ours, and what we need to do to extradite one of theirs. Is that so?

It was not always the official position. Baroness Scotland, Home Office Minister of State, speaking in the House of Lords on the afternoon of December 16, 2003, made it quite clear that if we tried to extradite an American citizen we would in future be required to meet ‘a higher threshold than we ask of the United States, and I make no secret of that’. In short, this is an unequal treaty, of the sort made between colonial powers and their powerless vassals, or between conquerors and their victims.

Now, whenever the United States mounts its very high horse on the subject of terrorism, I think we must recall that it was the US that compelled this country to surrender to the terrorist murderers of the IRA. It was President Bill Clinton who laundered the grisly and sinister Godfather Gerry Adams, giving him a visa and allowing him to spread his soapy propaganda and raise funds across the United States. President George W. Bush, Mr Anti-Terrorism himself, actually altered his schedule to fit in Mr Adams (who was too busy to make the original time) for a jolly St Patrick’s Day chinwag in the White House. So put that in your Guinness and drink it, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. If it’s terror you’re against, you know where to look for its supporters and sponsors.

Britain should – tonight if possible – withdraw from these unequal treaties, which are nationally humiliating, lawless and limitlessly dangerous.

Peter goes on to berate Adele Adkins for using the American one-fingered salute rather than the British two-fingered one employed by Baroness Trumpington. But, alas, he then has a go at David Cameron for standing down as a Patron of the Jewish National Fund, rightly pointing out how very close to the Saudis this Government is and how that closesness is the reason for our potentially catastrophic sabre-rattling against Iran. The truly patriotic approach would be neither pro-Israeli (and the JNF is a very extreme Zionist organisation, heavily implicated in burning out and otherwise forcibly clearing Christian as well as Muslim Israeli citizens), nor pro-Saudi, but strictly pro-British, which for the most part would mean strictly noninterventionist.

The only exception relates to Britain’s historic responsibilities within the pre-1967 Israeli borders. “The civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” were “not to be prejudiced”, according to the Balfour Declaration. The burning of the mosque at Tuba Zangaria, the inhabitants of which are Israeli citizens, certainly looks like the prejudicing of their civil and religious rights to me. As does the demolition of the villages of the Bedouin, the most ancient inhabitants, in the Negev, by the Israeli Defence Force, acting as an agency of the highly controversial Jewish National Fund. Not only is that demolition an act of State violence, but that burning, undoubtedly, was by supporters of parties within the present governing coalition. Is it conceivable that the arsonists acted without the approval, if not on the direct instruction, of senior figures within one or more governing parties?

The Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and for that matter the East Bank, are all one or more other stories. But when it comes to Israel proper, why did we not do for those “existing non-Jewish communities” what we later did for the East African Asians? Is it still too late to do that, not with a view to flying them over here, but in order to create that possibility while making it clear that, while they remained where they were, then they enjoyed the full undertaking that we gave to them?

An undertaking given when they legally owned most of the land, rather than when their villages appeared on no official map, therefore enjoyed no amenities, and could look forward, either to being demolished by the State as such, or at the very least to having their places of worship and
de facto community centres (churches as well as mosques) burnt down by the strongest supporters of the Government, if not by actual agents of the parties of government. We promised them that nothing like that would happen. We owe them. We owe them a very great deal. This would be just that: a very great deal. If the Arab labouring class ever were to be evacuated to Britain or anywhere else, then the Israeli economy would simply collapse, as the South African one did when the black working class just stopped working. Let that possibility exist on a permanent basis.

If the Balfour Declaration gave us legal or moral obligations to the Jews in respect of Palestine, then it also gave us legal and moral obligations to the other inhabitants of that Mandated Territory. Those obligations still obtain. And if we are finally to make good Balfour’s promise to defend “the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”, then are we also finally to make good his promise to defend “the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”? That status is now and increasingly no less “prejudiced”, and for the same reason.

Buy the book here.

Sullied By That Creature's Name

Even I have to laugh.

Apparently, on Twitter, Vinnie McAviney, as he would probably not thank me for still calling him but that was how he first introduced himself to me, has been in touch with Kamm as if he (Vinnie) and I had never met.

He is in fact a former tutee of mine who, as undergraduates sometimes do, went off on a power trip on being given some little position, in his case when he scaled the dizzy heights of Editor of Palatinate, Durham's legendarily bad student newspaper.

In order to ingratiate himself with Kamm, not without success, he ran some piece of cock and bull about me, and he has never got over the fact that no one of the slightest importance paid the slightest attention, because, well, it was in Palatinate.

To this day, I have never read it. I never will. I doubt that a copy of it still exists anywhere. Everyone has long since forgotten about it. Except him. Several times per day, under multiple personalities, for two and half years so far.

It is side-splitting stuff that he mentions Palatinate in, for example, his many comments on the webpages selling my books, as if any grown-up person could possibly care less about that even within this university, never mind outside. Sad and mad rather than bad. Unlike Kamm.

Anyway, Kamm's - how shall I put this? - Straussian tactics do finally seem to be finding him out, after he appeared on Radio Three opposite John Milbank and tried to brand him a 9/11 truther, a favourite Kamm smear, which he has been putting about, including under the aegis of one the largest (if most disreputable) media corporations in the world, for quite some time.

He has made it up out of thin air, but he and his weird little cult dutifully scream "troofer, anti-Semite, Holocaust denier" at anyone who ever points out this or any other of his transparent fictions, such as weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme. Well, John is a tougher cookie than he looks...

I did ponder including both the John Milbank "troofer" line, and Kamm's long campaign of criminal harassment against Neil Clark, eventually causing the police to become involved, in Confessions of an Old Labour High Tory.

But one does not want one's text sullied by that creature's name (Damian Thompson is not mentioned by name, either, just as he was not in Essays Radical and Orthodox, although he is referred to in both of them), so the following has had to suffice where that cult is concerned:

As for the blood libel, what about the blood libel that all opposition to the Iraq War was anti-Semitic? That was said routinely at the time, and for a long time thereafter. They all did it. Every one of them.

Certain British websites only stopped when I lately started making a fuss about it, especially the powerful Harry’s Place, the limitlessly funded notice board by means of which Israel’s violently racist, fanatically anti-British secular Hard Right incites its supporters in Britain to torrential abuse of specific academic, political and media figures and their actual or potential employers, and even of the likes of student unions, while attempting, not without success, to take over the Labour Party.

That blood libel still crops up from time to time. The people loudest in berating Raed Salah for his blood libel put their own into print or onto the airwaves every single day for months, and regularly for years. They have never expressed one word of remorse, either for that or for their catastrophic war itself.


The signatories to the Project for the New American Century, the Patrons of the Henry Jackson Society, Avigdor Lieberman’s party and those who sit in coalition with it have on their hands the blood of 69 Norwegians, mostly teenagers.

The same goes for Kamm.

Buy the book here.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Back At Them

"We must insist on the repeal of one-sided extradition arrangements."

Buy the book here.

Not The Business Of The House

Fired up with generational patriotism, I am aghast that anyone should have apologised to some Adele person, whoever she may be. If four of the Gods of Britpop wish to perform, then get out of the way, girlie. Know your place.

But on, I suppose, a more serious note, it is truly alarming that Sir George Young should have been required to express his displeasure from the Despatch Box at Business Questions. Is pop music the new football, itself once called the new rock'n'roll?

Fish And Foul Play

David Cameron may have advocated meaningless withdrawal from the European People's Party. But David Davis promised highly meaningful withdrawal from the Common Fisheries Policy. The media never told you that, did they?

Both Labour and the Lib Dems, as well as the latters' predecessor parties, voted against the CFP every year between 1979 and 1997. The Lib Dems have sold out the heartlands of rural Radicalism, including the North of Scotland. They have sold out their arc of fishing constituencies from Cornwall (another such heartland), through North Norfolk, Berwick, and North East Fife, all the way up to Shetland.

There is a gap to be filled. Can Labour fill it? Which is a variant on the question, is there any remaining point to the Labour Party?

And Expecting A Different Result

It is horrifying that William Hague has repeated our initial mistake over Libya and recognised the entirely self-appointed "Syrian National Council".

Anyone in opposition to the present government is not going to be in favour of the undisputedly thriving communities of Christians, including numerous refugees from supposedly liberated Iraq, or, based on the amount of government money being spent on their holy sites, what must be the thriving community of Jews.

Buy the book here.

Simply Social Security

This week, The Spectator comes out in favour of the Liberal Democrat policy of raising the income tax threshold to £10,000. But that would be meaningless on its own.

We need a ban on anything paying any of its employees more than 10 times what it paid any of its other employees, with the whole public sector functioning as a single entity for this purpose, and with its median wage fixed at the median wage in the private sector, to which manual jobs would no longer be outsourced. MPs and Ministers would be included in that, and there would be a statutory ban on anything, anywhere in the economy, paying anyone more than the Prime Minister. The trick with the Conservatives is to make them think that it was their idea.

In much that vein, there is also the matter of holding Iain Duncan Smith to the logical conclusion of his position, namely a unified system of taxation, benefits, pensions, minimum wage legislation and student funding, to ensure that no one’s tax-free income ever fell below half national median earnings. Some of us have been blogging away for years that there should be a single form of Social Security payment, called simply Social Security, and guaranteeing that minimum income universally.

Buy the book here.

"An Opposition Worthy Of The Name"?

Really, Caroline Lucas? Really?

Daniel Cohn-Bendit is a leading Green Member of the European Parliament. We are therefore subject to his legislative will. In the August 1976 edition of das da, Cohn-Bendit described his sexual activity with children: “My constant flirt with all the children soon took on erotic characteristics. I could really feel how from the age of five the small girls had already learnt to make passes at me. It’s hardly believable. Most of the time I was fairly defenceless.” He has later claimed that this had been based on fantasy, but no such disclaimer appeared at the time.

The article was a spin-off from his bestselling 1975 book on education, The Big Madness, which drew on two years of experience working in a Frankfurt kindergarten with children aged between two and five. Of those years, he later wrote that: “It has happened to me several times that a few children opened the flies of my trousers and started to stroke me. I reacted differently each time according to the circumstances, but their desire confronted me with problems. I asked them: “Why don’t you play with each other, why have you chosen me and not other children?” But when they insisted on it, I then stroked them. For that reason I was accused of perverted behaviour.”

At its national conference in Lüdenscheid in March 1985, Cohn-Bendit’s then party (he can be French or German as it suits him) called for “nonviolent sexuality” between children and adults never to be subject to criminal prosecution. In 1987, the policy was that, “When young people have the desire for older peers outside the family, prevented either because their homosexuality is not accepted by their parents, or because they have paedophile inclinations, be it for other reasons, they must be given the opportunity to do so.”

German Greens frequently legislate for us in the EU Council of Ministers, and both they and the French Greens, whom Cohn-Bendit now leads, always do so in the European Parliament, where their Group from across the EU also includes the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru while being co-chaired by Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

Buy the book here.

Should Have The Land Of Britain As A Perquisite

Behind the FT's paywall, no less a figure than Sir Samuel Brittan, old Thatcher guru turned trenchant critic of austerity, writes:

The case for a land tax is one of the oldest and least disputed propositions in economic thought. The underlying theory was developed at the beginning of the 19th century by the highly respectable David Ricardo. Many chancellors have said that they would jump at a tax that had no disincentive effects on work or enterprise but had a strong redistributive element. The problem was that the amount of preliminary work required would take more than one parliament and any credit for the measure would redound to their successors.


A land tax is one of those subjects - basic income is another - which divides commentators into a great majority who never mention it, and a minority who talk of nothing else. The result is to give supporters a cranky appearance, while the eyes of chancellors of either main party glaze over if you as much as mention the subject.

The basic point is that the supply of land, with rare exceptions such as reclamation in the Netherlands, is fixed. But because of its scarcity owners can command an income over and above the normal return to the enterprises placed upon it. Gross UK trading profits of non-financial and non-oil corporations are running at over £200bn per year or about 20 per cent of gross domestic output. Some part of this - we do not know how much - is not true profit but the return on land. There is one way in which the supply of usable land can increase. That is when land, previously off limits, is newly released by local authorities for development. The consequent increase in value, say some land tax campaigners, is created by "the community", which is entitled to a share of the increment. But to argue in this way is to sell the case short. The case for a land tax is valid even for land which always was available for development or which remains in agricultural use.

There must be a tax on the productive value of land per acre, other than that occupied by the homes of the less well off, perhaps making possible the abolition of stamp duty, and in any event establishing and enforcing the principle that no one should own land other than in order to make use of it; this was proposed by Andy Burnham when he was a candidate for Leader of the Labour Party. There must also be a statutory requirement of planning permission for change of use if it is proposed to turn a primary dwelling into a secondary dwelling, a working family home into a weekend or holiday home.

Buy the book here.

A Front For The Far Left

The entire Socialist Workers’ Party faction of Respect in Tower Hamlets not long ago defected to the Conservative Party after having fallen out with the Islamists. Johanna Kaschke, a longstanding Respect and Communist Party figure, left the Labour Party in 2007 after having failed to secure its nomination for the parliamentary seat of Bethnal Green and Bow, and ended that year by joining the Conservative Party, in which she has rapidly become a well-connected activist. Around the country, local factions of various Asian and other origins routinely defect from Labour or other things to the Conservatives on frankly communal grounds, and are always welcomed with open arms.

David Cameron’s vehicles toured Ealing Southall blasting out in Asian languages that Hindu, Muslim and Sikh festivals would be made public holidays under his party. His “Quality of Life Commission” (don’t laugh, it’s real) then proposed giving the power to decide these things to “local community leaders”. What else will those figures be given the power to decide in return for filling in every postal voting form in their households in the Bullingdon Boys’ interest, and making sure that all their mates did likewise? To the statelets thus created – little Caliphates, little Hindutvas, little Khalistans, and so on – people minded to live in such places will flock from the ends of the earth, entrenching the situation forever.

With some fanfare, the Conservative Party recently welcomed John Marek, who was fiercely anti-monarchist and anti-hunting while Labour MP for Wrexham, and who went on to become the founder and only ever Leader of Forward Wales, a Welsh separatist, Welsh-speaking supremacist, economically Hard Left, unyieldingly Politically Correct, Tommy Sheridan-endorsed, RMT-funded party which was only dissolved in January 2010, and which continues to be named as Marek’s party, despite his having become an enthusiastic Conservative, on the list of former MPs who continue to hold House of Commons passes.

Will David Cameron also recruit, if he has not already done so, Marek’s fellow founder-members of Forward Wales: Ron Davies, one of the very few former Cabinet Ministers without a seat in either House, and a noted campaigner both against shooting and for the abolition of the monarchy; Graeme Beard, a former Plaid Cymru councillor in Caerphilly; and Klaus Armstrong-Braun, who in his time on Flintshire County Council was the only Green Party member ever elected at county level in Wales?

Cameron has already signed up Mohammad Asghar, a Member of the Welsh Assembly who has moved seamlessly from Plaid Cymru. Rehman Chishti, now a rising star as MP for Gillingham and Rainham, was Francis Maude’s Labour opponent in 2005 while working for Benazir Bhutto, whom he assisted from 1991 until her assassination in 2007 in her leadership of a party the motto of which includes both “Islam is our Faith” and “Socialism is our Economy”; he was still doing that job when he defected to the Conservative Party in 2006 and became an aide to Maude as its Chairman. And so on, and on, and on.

They obviously find the 1980s Radical Right’s company as congenial as they find each other’s, with David Cameron and 80 per cent of his party’s MPs as members of Conservative Friends of Israel, which is not even a front for the thoroughly racist Israeli Government, since that would require some degree of secrecy, or at least of discretion, about the treasonable nature of the relationship. Liam Fox has had to resign as Secretary of State for, of all things, Defence because the Israeli Far Right and its nominally American fellow-travellers had, treasonably, been running a parallel foreign policy out of his office and through its subsidiary fake charity, now deregistered. Blue is the new Red-Brown.

Not only, though not least, because it also advocates a complete statutory ban on unpaid internships, a principle obviously extendable to workfare, buy the book here.


Alex Brummer writes:

When it comes to Middle East reporting, the central narrative has for several decades been Israel-Palestine. But for the past year, since the start of the Arab Spring (Israeli sources prefer to call it the Arab Winter or Arab Tempest), it is the rest of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) from Egypt to Bahrain, from Syria to Libya, that have been in the limelight. Indeed, of the 17 or so countries which make up the MENA region, almost all – including Israel with its own ‘cottage cheese’ protests – have seen some kind of protests, many of them violent and bloody.

Add to this combustible mixture Iran’s march towards its own nuclear weapons, and Israel-Palestine no longer looks like the core issue (which for as long as I can remember it has been - for both the British and global media). This is the background against which I travelled to Israel this week as part of a small delegation of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the main elected, representative body of UK Jewry.

For part of the journey we linked up with the UK Task Force, a coalition of foundations, religious leaders, NGOs and Jewish organisations focusing on better understanding and improving the conditions of Israel’s Arab minorities. In Jerusalem, in meetings with a range of policymakers including senior officials of the ministry of foreign affairs, the mood was remarkably upbeat. Instead of fears of takeover by Islamic fundamentalism, as a result of the Arab world’s revolutions, officials believe an important Rubicon has been crossed.

No longer is Israel the centre of the universe in the debate across the Arab world. Anti-Israel flag burning may have been a part of the reporting at the start of the Egyptian uprising but the tendency within the region to blame Israel for all of the regions woes has faded. Beleaguered regimes such as Bashir Assad’s Syria have built new straw men in the shape of Turkey, Al Qaeda, unnamed outside terrorists and so on. Arab countries have started to look in on themselves. Domestic issues ranging from food prices to unemployed youth, from human rights to governance and economic development have stolen the agenda. This in turn is seen by Israeli officials as weakening the hands of the Palestinians who can no longer rely on the permanent sympathy of the Arab world to keep their cause centre stage.

In fact many of the same issues which have inspired the uprisings across the Arab world give rise to dissatisfaction with leadership in the West Bank and Gaza – potentially opening the way to an improved dialogue. Tony Blair’s ‘quartet’ mission on confidence building measures among the parties – from the environment to water and movement of goods and services – currently looks far more relevant to the region’s needs than the old land for peace narrative. Furthermore, the acclaimed author and polemicist Amos Oz, an opponent of occupation, was surprisingly optimistic that out of the disputation between Jew and Palestinian will emerge a viable two state solution.

In an erudite address, delivered over a feast of racks of lamb in Be’er Sheva, Oz argued that the Jewish tendency to debate, discuss and question dated back to the days of Abraham and his bargaining with God over the intention to destroy the ancient city of Sodom. A longstanding sore for many people seeking to underpin Israel’s security and its place as a genuinely Middle Eastern nation, not a bunch of transplanted Jews from around the world, has been the neglect of its own Arab populations.

The larger Israeli-Arab population is in the North in the Galilee, in range of Hezbollah rockets fired from the Lebanon. But it is the Bedouin minority in the Southern desert of the Negev which was the focus of this Task Force visit. The 200,000 or so Bedouin, some of whom traditionally served in the Israeli forces, have become increasingly alienated from broader society. In an increasingly prosperous state they are the poorest segment of society held back partly by tribal commitment to barren lands, polygamy and very large families. The most recent data shows that 71.5pc of Bedouin households live under the poverty line against 54.5pc in the Arab sector and 16.2pc among Jews.

The issues are highly complex. Israel’s reluctance to provide basic services, including water and electricity, to so called ‘unrecognised’ villages (those which have grown up over the decades South of Beersheba) have created an enormous and complex social problem. Israel’s solution is to move these semi-indigenous people (many came from Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) into modern cities or neighbouring ‘recognised’ villages. Neither of which is a very attractive option. The new towns are rife with drugs and unemployment, even if they do have running water. The recognised villages, which have undergone economic transformation, are not necessarily sympathetic to absorbing vast numbers of people from different tribes, with different values systems.

Our visit to an ‘unrecognised’ village, Wadi Nam, was dispiriting. Our host a tall Bedouin, with bright white teeth, wore a magnificent yellow robe, trimmed with gold leaf, and handsomely polished brown boots. As the ‘Gucci’ Sheikh growled his complaints about the circumstances in the village in forceful Arabic he and his Praetorian guard would occasionally consult their Blackberrys. Outside kids played in the dusty sand, rubbish piled up on the sides of the forlorn unmade roads and families dwelled in corrugated tin huts surrounded by emaciated goats and sheep. At the regional school for eight hundred pupils the classrooms had broken windows, cracked floors and filthy latrines which, we were told, were riddled with disease. Letters delivered to the Wadi are dumped on the roadside because as an address the ‘unrecognised’ towns do not exist.

Israel has earmarked 2.5bn Shekels (£500m) for development but the money has not been released because of an unwillingness of the ‘unrecognised’ villagers to be moved. In contrast we found sanitary conditions and optimism and a wonderfully well-kept village when we moved on to the recognised community of Hura. Nearby, we heard from a bunch of strong and beautiful Bedouin women who have shaken off the shackles of a deeply patriarchal society to rediscover ancient crafts like weaving, now exported to all corners of the world. Some had acquired university education and others fight for better rights including public transport to their communities and welfare payments for second, third and fourth wives and their families.

The Negev is a puzzling mix of optimism and depression. But as one Bedouin leader sagely pointed out developing the Bedouin economy will help to underpin the prosperity of the region and could only act to improve Israel’s security from within – a win-win situation.

And what of Britain’s historic responsibilities within the pre-1967 Israeli borders? “The civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” were “not to be prejudiced”, according to the Balfour Declaration. The burning of the mosque at Tuba Zangaria, the inhabitants of which are Israeli citizens, certainly looks like the prejudicing of their civil and religious rights to me. As does the demolition of the villages of the Bedouin, the most ancient inhabitants, in the Negev, by the Israeli Defence Force, acting as an agency of the highly controversial Jewish National Fund. Not only is that demolition an act of State violence, but that burning, undoubtedly, was by supporters of parties within the present governing coalition. Is it conceivable that the arsonists acted without the approval, if not on the direct instruction, of senior figures within one or more governing parties?

The Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and for that matter the East Bank, are all one or more other stories. But when it comes to Israel proper, why did we not do for those “existing non-Jewish communities” what we later did for the East African Asians? Is it still too late to do that, not with a view to flying them over here, but in order to create that possibility while making it clear that, while they remained where they were, then they enjoyed the full undertaking that we gave to them?

An undertaking given when they legally owned most of the land, rather than when their villages appeared on no official map, therefore enjoyed no amenities, and could look forward, either to being demolished by the State as such, or at the very least to having their places of worship and
de facto community centres (churches as well as mosques) burnt down by the strongest supporters of the Government, if not by actual agents of the parties of government. We promised them that nothing like that would happen. We owe them. We owe them a very great deal. This would be just that: a very great deal. If the Arab labouring class ever were to be evacuated to Britain or anywhere else, then the Israeli economy would simply collapse, as the South African one did when the black working class just stopped working. Let that possibility exist on a permanent basis.

Interference? Our Secretary of State for Defence, Liam Fox, has recently resigned because his office had been found to be the centre of a parallel British foreign policy conducted by and on behalf of the Israeli Far Right and its American neoconservative bag-carriers, though at least partly at the expense of the British taxpayer. The position of British Ambassador to Israel has been secured for a man who publicly aspires to citizenship of the country to which he has been posted, and who has apologised for the arrest of Tzipi Livni’s anti-British terrorist parents. The same elements have used Ofcom to take Press TV off our screens, without bothering to ask from where or by whom editorial control was exercised over, for example, Fox News; no secret is made that Russia Today is next on the hit list. Do not talk to us about interference.

For pointing out one of the facts conceded by that of Fox’s resignation, namely the treasonable relationship of 80 per cent of Conservative MPs, including David Cameron, to the State of Israel in general and to its ruling racist Far Right in particular, I was removed from Telegraph Blogs and branded insane by that website’s Editor, as much proof as one could possibly want that editorial control over the ostensible voice of Tory Britain is in reality exercised by that foreign and largely hostile State in general, and by that fanatically anti-British Far Right in particular. That is without even mentioning the Murdoch media.

Back in the days when New Labour was led by Tony Blair and the Conservative Party by Michael Howard, deeply disillusioned former Cabinet Ministers from both sides implored me not to write, even in jest, that our most unaccomplished 16-year-olds should be conscripted directly into the Israeli Defence Force, on the grounds that “if the wrong person reads that, then it will happen”. They were not joking. I was later informed that, entirely independently, something very near to that scheme had been seriously considered within the Blair inner circle. That was how far beyond satire things had moved in the last days of Tony Blair.

If the Balfour Declaration gave us legal or moral obligations to the Jews in respect of Palestine, then it also gave us legal and moral obligations to the other inhabitants of that Mandated Territory. Those obligations still obtain. And if we are finally to make good Balfour’s promise to defend “the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”, then are we also finally to make good his promise to defend “the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”? That status is now and increasingly no less “prejudiced”, and for the same reason.

Meanwhile, Israel needs to move to very extensive devolution to the very local level, Jewish or Arab, religious or secular, Muslim or Christian, and so forth. She needs three parliamentary chambers, each about one third of the size of the present one, with one for the ultra-Orthodox, one for the Arabs, and one for everyone else, the ultra-Orthodox and the Arab being already identified in law because of their arrangements in relation to military service. All legislation would require the approval of all three chambers. Each chamber would elect a Co-President, all three of whom would have to approve all legislation and senior appointments, as well as performing ceremonial duties.

Each chamber would be guaranteed a Minister in each department and at least a quarter of Cabinet posts. Yiddish would be recognised as an official language, the
quid pro quo for recognising all the many currently unrecognised villages in the Galilee and the Negev. The alliance necessary to pull this off would take an awful lot of effort. But two peoples facing nothing less than denaturalisation could very well be prepared to make that amount of effort. The other lot should have had more children, or bothered to move there from places like London and New York. But they did not.

Buy the book here.