A Crucial Distinction

peter-gooderhamWhy exactly did Britain lead a walkout of the UN anti-racism conference yesterday? True to form, rather than focusing on the obvious issue of what was said in the speech, and why the protesting governments considered it so objectionable, the media focused on the narrow diplomatic issues raised by the walkout itself. On BBC Newsnight Jeremy Paxman interrogated the UK Ambassador to the UN in Geneva in his usual manner,  firing off innocuous questions masked in an aggressive and irreverent tone. First he why the UK government had attended the conference in the first place.  He later accused the Ambassador of playing into the hands of the wicked Ahmedinajed. “What you have done today is exactly what someone like President Ahmedinajed wants,” Paxman complained, “He’s won today.”

One section of the interview however was revealing:

Jeremy Paxman: What is the difference between Zionism and racism?

Peter Gooderham: Well we see the two as being quite distinct…

Jeremy Paxman: Yeah what’s the difference?

Peter Gooderham: Well Zionism is a political movement related to the establishment of a homeland…

Jeremy Paxman [quietly]: So are some forms of racism.

Peter Gooderham:…a Jewish homeland, in the er…in what is now Israel and racism is something else. I mean racism is, I think we all know it when we see it and it’s not, it’s not that, and we have fought long and hard at the United Nations to keep that, to maintain that distinction.

So there you go. Zionism is not racism because we know racism when we see it and it’s not that. Just like we know terrorism when we see it, and it’s not this.

Where’s Rev. Wright When You Need Him?

Chris Hedges examines the boycott of the UN conference on racism explaining that “racism, an endemic feature of Israeli and American society, is not, we have decided, open for international inspection.”

Barack Obama prays during services at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in this 2004 photo. Obama resigned his 20-year membership in Trinity after controversial remarks by his longtime pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright threatened to derail his presidential candidacy.
Barack Obama prays during services at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in this 2004 photo. Obama resigned his 20-year membership in Trinity after controversial remarks by his longtime pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright threatened to derail his presidential candidacy.

Israel and the United States, which could be charged under international law with crimes against humanity for actions in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, will together boycott the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Geneva. Racism, an endemic feature of Israeli and American society, is not, we have decided, open for international inspection. Barack Obama may be president, but the United States has no intention of accepting responsibility or atoning for past crimes, including the use of torture, its illegal wars of aggression, slavery and the genocide on which the country was founded. We, like Israel, prefer to confuse lies we tell about ourselves with fact.

The Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute CIA and Bush administration officials for the use of torture because it wants to look to the future is easy to accept if you were never tortured. The decision not to confront slavery and the continued discrimination against African-Americans is easy to accept if your ancestors were not kidnapped, crammed into slave ships, denied their religion and culture, deprived of their language, stripped of their names, severed from their families and forced into generations of economic misery. The decision not to discuss the genocide of Native Americans is easy if your lands were not stolen and your people driven into encampments and slaughtered. The doctrine of pre-emptive war and illegal foreign occupation is easy to accept if you are not a Palestinian, an Iraqi or an Afghan.

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Israel’s Racist in Chief

Chris Hedges on Israel’s Racist in Chief Avigdor Lieberman.

Israel’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, stands in a field just outside the Gaza Strip. Lieberman’s right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu Party had an impressive showing in Israel’s recent election, campaigning with the slogan “Without loyalty, there is no citizenship.”
Israel’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, stands in a field just outside the Gaza Strip. Lieberman’s right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu Party had an impressive showing in Israel’s recent election, campaigning with the slogan “Without loyalty, there is no citizenship.”

It was unthinkable, when I was based as a correspondent in Jerusalem two decades ago, that an Israeli politician who openly advocated ethnically cleansing the Palestinians from Israeli-controlled territory, as well as forcing Arabs in Israel to take loyalty oaths or be forcibly relocated to the West Bank, could sit on the Cabinet. The racist tirades of Jewish proto-fascists like Meir Kahane stood outside the law, were vigorously condemned by most Israelis and were prosecuted accordingly. Kahane’s repugnant Kach Party, labeled by the United States, Canada and the European Union as a terrorist organization, was outlawed by the Israeli government in 1988 for inciting racism.
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Paris liberation made ‘whites only’

‘Papers unearthed by the BBC reveal that British and American commanders ensured that the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 was seen as a “whites only” victory,’ writes Mike Thomson. Yes, that was the ‘good war’ that allegedly defeated institutionalized racism.

French troops march through Paris, 18 June 1945, pic credit: Eric Deroo
Many of the “French” division which led the liberation of Paris were Spanis

Papers unearthed by the BBC reveal that British and American commanders ensured that the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 was seen as a “whites only” victory.

Many who fought Nazi Germany during World War II did so to defeat the vicious racism that left millions of Jews dead.

Yet the BBC’s Document programme has seen evidence that black colonial soldiers – who made up around two-thirds of Free French forces – were deliberately removed from the unit that led the Allied advance into the French capital.

By the time France fell in June 1940, 17,000 of its black, mainly West African colonial troops, known as the Tirailleurs Senegalais, lay dead.

Many of them were simply shot where they stood soon after surrendering to German troops who often regarded them as sub-human savages.

Their chance for revenge came in August 1944 as Allied troops prepared to retake Paris. But despite their overwhelming numbers, they were not to get it.

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The ‘Islamist’ who wasn’t

‘The fact that a ‘professional liar’ hoodwinked the media and government is a damning indictment of UK de-radicalising policy’, writes Inayat Banglawala.

He was a self-confessed al-Qaida insider who in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was interviewed by all the major news networks eager to hear his fiery rhetoric.

Following the 7/7 bombings, he told us that he had now recognised the error of his ways and was committed to countering “Islamism”. He was going to spill the beans in a keenly anticipated book called Leaving al-Qaida relating how he had gone about recruiting British Muslims to go overseas and fight.

The American CBS network’s flagship documentary programme 60 Minutes broadcast an interview with him in March 2007 in which he talked about his “recruiting and fundraising techniques” in his extremist days.

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Kahane won

Gideon Levy in the Haaretz:

Rabbi Meir Kahane can rest in peace: His doctrine has won. Twenty years after his Knesset list was disqualified and 18 years after he was murdered, Kahanism has become legitimate in public discourse. If there is something that typifies Israel’s current murky, hollow election campaign, which ends the day after tomorrow, it is the transformation of racism and nationalism into accepted values.
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