Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Is the Left anti-Semitic? Sadly, it is heading that way
By Brendan O'Neill
There has been a lot of talk over the past two weeks about whether it is anti-Semitic to oppose Israel’s attack on Gaza. Radical Leftists and liberal commentators have insisted (perhaps a bit too much?) that there is nothing remotely anti-Semitic about their anger with Israel or their fury on behalf of battered, bruised and bombed Palestinians. And of course they are right that it is entirely possible to oppose Israel’s militarism without harbouring so much as a smidgen of dislike for the Jewish people. Some will oppose the war in Gaza simply because they are against wars in general, especially ones that impact on civilians.
However, it seems pretty clear to me that much of the left in Europe and America is becoming more anti-Semitic, or at least risks falling into the trap of anti-Semitism, sometimes quite thoughtlessly. In the language it uses, in the ideas it promotes, in the way in which it talks about the modern world, including Israel, much of the Left has adopted a style of politics that has anti-Semitic undertones, and sometimes overtones. The key problem has been the Left’s embrace of conspiratorial thinking, its growing conviction that the world is governed by what it views as uncaring “cabals”, “networks”, self-serving lobbyists and gangs of bankers, all of which has tempted it to sometimes turn its attentions towards those people who historically were so often the object and the target of conspiratorial thinking – the Jews.
Yes, one can hate Israel’s attack on Gaza without hating the Jews. But there’s no denying that the hatred being expressed for Israel’s attack on Gaza is different to the opposition to all other acts of militarism in recent times. Just compare the huge 2003 Hyde Park demo against the Iraq War with the recent London demos against Israel’s attack on Gaza. The former had an air of resignation; it expressed a mild, middle-class sense of disappointment with Tony Blair, through safe, soft slogans like “Not In My Name”. The latter, by contrast, have been fiery and furious, with screeching about murder and mayhem and demands that the Israeli ambassador to the UK be booted out. Some attendees have held up placards claiming that Zionists control the British media while others have accused both London and Washington of “grovelling” before an apparently awesomely powerful Israeli Lobby.
This is a recurring theme in anti-Israel sentiment today: the idea that a powerful, sinister lobby of Israel lovers has warped our otherwise respectable leaders here in the West, basically winning control of Western foreign policy. You see it in cartoons depicting Israeli leaders as the puppet masters of politicians like William Hague and Tony Blair. You can hear it in Alexi Sayle’s much-tweeted claim that the “Western powers” kowtow to Israel because they are “frightened of it… frightened of the power that it wields”. You can see it in the arguments of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their popular book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, which holds an apparently super-powerful pro-Israel lobby in the heart of Washington responsible for the Iraq War and all other kinds of disasters. The claim is often made that Israel has corrupted Western officials, commanding them to carry out its dirty work.
Sound familiar? Yes, this has terrible echoes of the old racist idea that Jewish groups controlled Western politics and frequently propelled the world into chaos – an idea that was especially popular in the early to mid-20th-century Europe. Very often, anti-Israel protesters treat Israel not just as a nation at war – like Britain, America or France, which also frequently launch wars that kill huge numbers of civilians – but also as the warper of policy and morality in the West, as a source of poison in global affairs, as the architect of instability across the globe. Indeed, a few years ago a poll of Europeans found that a majority of them view Israel as “the biggest threat to world peace”. So Israel is undoubtedly singled out by Leftists and others, and even more significantly it is singled out in a way that the Jews used to be singled out – that is, as a sinister, self-serving corrupter of nations and causer of chaos.
Much of today’s anti-Israel protesting has a conspiracy-theory feel to it, with its talk about powerful lobby groups designing wars behind closed doors in order to isolate Israel’s enemies and boost Israel’s fortunes. And this is in keeping with Left-wing politics generally, today. The Left has increasingly embraced a conspiracy-theory view of the world. It is now very common to hear Leftists talk about the “cabals of neocons” who control world affairs, or the “cult of bankers” who wreak havoc on our economies, or the Murdoch Empire that “orchestrates public life from the shadows” (to quote Labour MP Tom Watson). All seriously analytical and nuanced readings of international trends and political dynamics have been elbowed aside by contemporary Leftists, who prefer instead to argue that dark, hidden, mysterious forces are ruining politics, plotting wars, and enriching themselves at the expense of the poor. And, as history shows us, there is a thin line between railing against wicked cabals and cults and wondering out loud whether the Jews are secretly running world affairs, or at least wielding a disproportionate influence.
Indeed, some of the most influential trends in Left-wing politics over the past five years – including the Occupy movement and the Wikileaks movement – were both given to conspiracy-theorising and both also had a bit of a problem with anti-Semitism. So Occupy was kickstarted by Adbusters, a magazine convinced that powerful corporations control the masses’ fickle minds. In 2004, Adbusters published a disgustingly anti-Semitic article titled “Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish?”, which listed the neocons in the Bush administration and put a black mark next to the names of those who are Jewish. Not surprisingly, Occupy itself, which was obsessed with the baleful influence of small cliques of bankers and other faceless, evil people, often crossed the line into anti-Semitism, as the Washington Post reported. And Wikileaks, too, which is also a borderline conspiracy-theory outfit, what with its obsession with the “conspiratorial interactions among the political elite”, has had issues with anti-Semitism: one of its key researchers, Israel Shamir, was exposed by the Guardian as being “notorious for [his] Holocaust denial and publishing a string of anti-Semitic articles”.
It is not an accident that the three key planks of the Left-wing outlook today – the anti-Israel anti-war sentiment, the shallow anti-capitalism of Occupy, and the worship of those who leak info from within the citadels of power – should all have had issues with anti-Semitism. It is because the left, feeling isolated from the public and bereft of any serious means for understanding modern political and economic affairs, has bought into a super-simplistic, black-and-white, borderline David Icke view of the world as a place overrun and ruled by cabals and cults and sinister lobby groups. And who has always, without fail, been the final cabal, the last cult, to find themselves shouldering the ultimate blame for the warped, hidden workings of politics, the economy and foreign turmoil? You got it – the Jews.
'Compensation culture gone mad': Dog owner sues for £5,000 over pet's slipped disc - when it gets its legs caught in the grass on council land as it chases a cat
A dog owner plans to sue a council for thousands of pounds after her pet slipped a disc in grass while chasing a cat. Scooby, a three-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was injured after getting his leg caught in long grass on council-owned land in Brighton, East Sussex.
His disabled owner Rebecca Richardson, 48, claims that she now faces a £5,000 veterinary bill which she cannot afford to pay as she lives on benefits.
Campaigners criticised Mrs Richardson and her husband Steven, 49, for their claim and said it was yet another example of the ‘compensation culture gone mad’.
But Mrs Richardson said Brighton and Hove City Council, which owns her house and the land outside it, was negligent and ‘completely responsible’ for what happened to her pet.
She claimed that she and other neighbours had been asking for the long grass outside their homes to be cut for a month before the accident.
The mother-of-one also said that the council, which says it yet to receive a complaint from her about the grass, was ‘lying’.
‘I was walking my dog and when we got close to my home, he noticed a cat and chased after it,’ she said.
‘He chased the cat up a bank and caught his leg in the grass and now he has a slipped disc. Surgery will cost around £5,000.
‘The grass was too long, it was much taller than Scooby - he was buried in the grass. We’ve been complaining to the council for four weeks about the length of the grass outside our home.
‘All the tenants on the road have been trying to get the grass cut because it is so long. I reported it to the council straight away but they claimed nothing was ever reported to them, which is a complete lie.
‘I would like to pursue it and sue them because they are completely responsible and liable for what happened to my poor dog.’
Mrs Richardson said the accident has left her husband and their son Rhys, 17, feeling ‘devastated’ because the family may have to give up Scooby if they cannot raise the money for his operation.
The couple claim Disability Living Allowance because they are unable to work due to back and hip problems.
Mrs Richardson last worked 18 years ago as a cleaner in a hotel but had to leave the job due to mental health issues.
Meanwhile, her husband was a binman in Dorking, Surrey, but was forced to retire 10 years ago because of his back problems.
Mrs Richardson said: ‘I want to take further action with the council - I would like to sue them.
‘It is so unfair we have a dog who needs an operation, but we do not have the money to pay for it - we may be forced to give him up.
‘We will have to send him to a vet surgery for an operation and then they will find him a new home. But I can’t do that, he is part of our family.’
The couple have another dog, a nine-year-old Corgi and Pomeranian cross called Babe.
‘I want to take Scooby out for a walk with Babe, but he obviously cannot come,' said Mrs Richardson.
'He is depressed, being unable to go on long walks is clearly getting him down. He loved chasing balls and loved going out for walks - it is so sad seeing him like this.
‘We are all absolutely devastated, my son broke down when we told him we may have to give Scooby up. This is affecting us every day.'
She added: 'He could be paralysed, he needs surgery as soon as possible - but we just do not have the money.
‘Being in our situation, it is difficult - we are on benefits. I want to sue the council but we do not have any money to sue them, but it is unfair because the council are definitely liable for what happened.
‘They should pay for the surgery, it is their fault and I am pointing the finger at the council.’
Andy Silvester, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘This is a perfect storm of council neglect and compensation culture gone mad.
‘The council has got to do a better job of looking after the local area, but it’s ridiculous that taxpayers will be left with a potentially huge bill.’
A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said it will investigate any complaint Mrs Richardson makes.
'Don't drink bleach': New business minister reveals bizarre sign his family's firm needed to pass health and safety inspections
Health and safety inspectors refused to sign-off the family firm of a government minister until they put up a sign telling people not to drink bleach.
Business minister Matt Hancock revealed the bizarre experience as he railed against ‘heavy-handed’ jobsworths threatening small firms with unnecessary rules and regulations.
Promoted to attend Cabinet in this month’s reshuffle, he will tomorrow unveil plans to allow companies to collect evidence of over-officious red-tape getting in the way of doing business.
The government claims there are too many bodies inspecting businesses, often duplicating work and imposing unnecessary and costly burdens on those struggling to stay afloat.
Mr Hancock says he understands the struggles people face with the ‘stress and worry of meeting monthly bills’ and they should not be added to with pointless inspections.
He grew up watching his parents build an IT software firm, and the impact of daft regulations when it was visited by health and safety inspectors.
Without a sign expressly warning people about the perils of drinking bleach, they would have been failed, he says.
'The only thing they could find that was wrong was that there was a bottle of bleach in the kitchen that wasn't labelled correctly,’ he told The Sunday Times.
‘I remember writing the poster that says, 'There is bleach in the cupboard, please do not drink it.' When we put that up they passed us.’
He later added: ‘When I was growing up my parents started and grew a small software firm in Chester, so I’ve seen first-hand the stress and worry of meeting monthly bills and the constant search for new finance.
‘It’s these personal insights that power this government's determination to make Britain the best place in the world to start up and grow a business.’
Tomorrow he will announce plans to allow business groups to collect and present evidence of excessive burdens to ministers and regulators.
It means industry bodies themselves will review enforcement of regulation in their sectors. It will cover fresh produce and livestock industries first, before being rolled out to other sectors.
Mr Hancock added: ‘The worst cases are where there are two different regulators. One says: "You've got to do this" and the other says: "If you do that, I'll fine you." There are 11 different regulators of farms. The aim is to have one group of people who take into account all the different regulations and check they are being applied in a reasonable way.’
The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which will return to Parliament in the autumn, aims to reduce red-tape on growing firms.
It includes better access to finance, and making it easier for a small business to get a loan from a lender other than their bank.
New ‘cheque imaging’ technology – where recipients use a smartphone to take a picture of a cheque – will speed up clearing times from six days to two days.
Mr Hancock said: ‘Every village, town and city throughout the country is host to a range of small businesses from shops, garages and cafés, to manufacturing firms and tech start-ups. We are backing business every step of the way with the first small business bill, to help create the prosperity and secure the jobs we need.
‘Small businesses are the driving force of our economy and this bill is part of the government’s commitment to back enterprise and help firms to start-up and scale-up.’
Don’t want to drug your child? You may be a criminal
During his years in Congress, Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul often spoke out against the over-use of “psychotropic” drugs like Ritalin. Despite psychotropic drugs’ documented dangers, they are still prescribed to children without parental consent. Some parents have even lost custody of their children for defying government officials and medical “experts” and refusing to give their children psychotropic drugs.
For example, Michigan Mom Maryanne Godboldo took her child off the drug Risperdal because of concerns over how the drug was making her daughter “horribly ill… aggressive and violent.” When Mrs. Godboldo refused to comply with an order from Child Protective Services (CPS) to place her daughter back on the drug, CPS obtain a court order taking custody of her daughter away from Mrs. Godboldo. CPS decided the best way to protect the child was to call in a SWAT team–complete with a tank– to attempt to remove the child from her home.
The result was an hours-long stand-off, ending with Mrs. Godbolo being charged with a felony for firing a shot into her ceiling. Fortunately, Mrs. Godbolo was able to regain custody of her daughter and has so far successfully fought the legal charges against her.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.