Between twenty-five to thirty years ago the only political groupings that guaranteed a fair hearing for the Palestinian cause are those that were and are commonly referred to as the “far left”. The Labour Party had always been an overwhelmingly pro-Zionist organisation until very recently. For Muslim or Islamist groups, Palestine wasn’t a major rallying issue for them back in say the late 1980s or early 1990s.
But even within the so-called “far-left” especially amongst the multitude of Trotskyist organisations one constantly encountered strong pro-Israeli sentiment which continues to this very day. Anyway, it was within this political environment that I came across a magazine called “Living Marxism” published by the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), a Trotskyist organisation whose leading guru was Frank Furedi. This organisation had ultimately split from the parent Trotskyist organisation that was headed by Tony Cliffe called, Socialist Workers Party (formerly International Socialists). Living Marxism had stood out from the other Trotsky magazines or journals because it took up more pro-Palestinian or pro-Arab positions than the others vis-à-vis the Zionist occupying entity and also during the first war on Iraq in 1991. Continue reading
Part of the course of any black, brown or other person of colour rising to any position of leadership is to weather accusations made by the inevitable Western establishment detractors. Usually, if they can’t pin any financial discrepancy or moral impropriety then such leader will be accused to have a bigoted and irrational hostility to a demographic the West purports to be in love with, it’s usually the Jewish people but could be others.
Contempt towards the Jewish people is anti-Semitism. Historically, this evil is associated with European political culture which ultimately manifested in the European holocaust in the early 1940s and took the lives of millions of European Jews. Some European Jews had seen a solution to European political cultural contempt for them by aligning with European imperialist elites with a view to transfer European Jews to an imperially administered colony in Africa or Asia. These latter Jews are referred to Zionists. Obviously not all Jews were enamoured with this “solution” to a hitherto a European political-cultural condition.
In 1917, British imperialism found a role for European Jewish-Zionist and issued the ‘Balfour Declaration’ to colonise Palestine. It did so not because it had admiration for Jewish people, Continue reading
“By our swindle they were glorified…The more we condemned and despised ourselves, the more we could cynically take pride in them, our creatures…They were our dupes, wholeheartedly fighting the enemy.” T.E. Lawrence, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”
The enemy Thomas Edward Lawrence (a.k.a. “Lawrence of Arabia”) is referring to in the above quote is none other than Turkish Ottoman Empire. The people who were ‘swindled’ and ‘duped’ are the Arabs who were convinced and manipulated to take up arms and rise up in an ‘Arab Revolt’ a hundred years ago, against their Turkish overlords in support of the British Empire’s war effort during World War One.
The Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of Germany in November 1914. In the United Kingdom, many thought the war would end quickly and everyone would be home for Christmas because the British populace were weaned on stories of imperialist heroics administering the natives of Asia and Africa a military beating in a surprising short amount of time. Unsurprisingly, millions immediately enrolled to fight Germany to only find that they too were shockingly fighting with the latest military technology. To overcome the stalemate that quickly transpired on the western front i.e. the war in Europe, the British came up with a supremely cunning idea of prioritising the defeat of Germany’s ally, the Ottoman Empire in the hope of hastening a quick and decisive victory. On this basis, the primary and most important military strategy was an attack through the Strait of Dardanelles to capture Istanbul, the seat and capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, put the idea forward of a naval expedition to sail through the Strait of Dardanelles and capture Istanbul Continue reading
The recent remarks of the first ever and former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone supposedly in support of another British Labour politician, Naz Shah, who had shared a social media post depicting a map of Israel transferred to the United States has ignited a debate on the extent of anti-Semitism in the British Labour Party.
In defence of Shah, Livingstone felt compelled to remind people that certain Zionists in 1930’s Nazi Germany came into an agreement with elements in the Nazi regime to transfer German Jews to Palestine. And indeed there is nothing remotely mutually exclusive about being both anti-Semitic and pro-Zionist. But, why he needed to drag this minor episode of European Zionist history, the Haavara agreement, into the mix in a supposed defence of Shah is bewildering.
More bewildering when one considers the fact that British imperialism was the most consequential partner to the Zionist colonial settler project in Palestine in the inter-war period. In 1917 when the British government issued the Balfour Declaration there were between probably 70,000 Jews in Palestine as opposed to at least 700,000 Palestinians. The British Empire’s policy was to establish a “national home for the Jewish people” and use its “best endeavours to facilitate” this achievement. Continue reading
Tony Benn is a legend in his own time to many a politicos, especially those of us who are interested in anti-imperialist politics. He is admired by friend and foe alike as the fearless embodiment of the principled and quintessential British parliamentarian.
Over the last ten years his reputation as a peacenik and a radical left-winger was further consolidated by being the head of the UK’s main anti-war organisation, Stop the War Coalition (StWC) and with his continued patronage of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Britain’s main pro-Palestinian organisation. Yet according to a recent article published on the Open Democracy website it seems that Benn has a particular past which brings his current status into question. According to the writer, Professor Colin Scindler, Benn used to write “uber-Zionist” articles for a pro-Israeli journal called, the ‘Jewish Vanguard’. This surely beggars the question who is the real Tony Benn in accordance with a ‘Chomskyite’ criteria. Continue reading