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Monthly Archives: April 2016

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Israeli Labor leader slams Livingstone’s ‘horrific, unthinkable’ views”

Well, here is an example of either ignorance or genuine hate, hate posing as the moral high-ground.

Livingston expressed nothing “unthinkable,” he expressed a historical fact, undoubtedly unpleasant for some.

Livingston would have better avoided mentioning it, but it remains a fact, not an expression of hate.

If you want a genuine example of “unthinkable” behavior, and on a massive scale, there is Israel’s holding about five million people completely against their will, giving them absolutely no rights or status, abusing them endlessly with walls, demolitions, imprisonment, checkpoints, limits on their fishing, blockading them, bombing them, seizing homes and farms, assassinating them, and,  yes, documented torture.

Good God, we are all expected to ignore these horrors just because a politician mentioned an inconvenient truth?

The letter by Isaac Herzog is utterly self-serving and represents the cheapest political opportunism.

Again:

http://northshorenumismaticsociety.org/little-known-medal-marks-nazi-zionist-co-operation-in-1933/

 

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John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE IDEPENDENT

 

Absolutely right, Mr. Livingstone, this is a deliberately created fury to hurt Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

David Cameron has shown himself an unpleasant mediocrity in nearly everything he has undertaken.

But he has truly surpassed himself with this new McCarthyite campaign against Corbyn’s Labour.

It should make all people sick over the complete lack of respect for democratic values.

_____________________________

 Response to another reader’s comment quoting Naz Shah’s apology in Parliament:

No one should be quoted in the fashion you have quoted Naz Shah as proof of her anti-Semitism. It is inherently unfair.

All thinking people know she would have been speaking under intense pressure, both from outside and inside of her party.

Quoting her in this fashion is a bit like quoting some of America’s Guantanamo torture victims on their guilt for crimes they never did and for which they received no legal trial.

We can all judge statements of genuine hate, including hate of a people just for what they are – which describes all forms of genuine prejudice including anti-Semitism.

And we are all perfectly capable of judging an outburst of anger and disapproval and frustration at the shameful behaviors of a state like Israel.

They are not the same thing, no matter how many times you or anyone else repeat that they are.

And Naz Shah’s original words were exactly of this nature, reflecting frustration and anger over the behaviors of a state, not hatred of a people.

Criticizing Israel is exactly the parallel of criticizing the old Soviet Union. Doing either of these cannot be regarded as an expression of hatred, either of Jewish people or of Russians.

For God’s sake, the greatest terrible state in modern history was Germany 1933-45 and run by Germans. Was criticizing the Reich hatred of all Germans?

Of course not, and it is not a whit different in the case of Israel, a state which in fact has violated every international law and convention concerning human rights that we have.

I actually believe many of Israel’s defenders understand this, but they are taking unfair advantage at this moment to kick up a lot of dust, effectively defending what cannot be defended, Israel’s behavior, and crippling a party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, Israel does not like.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY REBECCA SHAPIRO IN THE GUARDIAN

 

“In Canada, we’re still reserving judgment.”

I have no idea where Rebecca Shapiro got a basis for saying that, but her statement is simply inaccurate.

Every indicator worth talking about shows Canadians are happy with Trudeau, although all seasoned political observers know there will be ups and downs.

And may I say that any writer who uses expressions like “we’re still reserving judgment…” should send up warning flags in a reader’s mind.

You cannot speak for the “we” that is Canada or another whole country.

That should be obvious, but this kind of writing suffers from a desire to bolster the author’s authority beyond what can possibly be merited.

Only polls even approach being able to make such ‘we” statements, and I can assure readers that Trudeau has every reason to be happy with his polls.

________________________

Response to another comment:

Yes, The National Post was literally a grovelling servant of Stephen Harper, the most hated national politician in our history.

Some of the articles carried in that paper over the last ten years are an embarrassment to read.

The paper was founded by convicted felon Conrad Black, who, the last time I peeked, still wrote the odd turgid column.

The paper is completely in bed with America’s neocons and extreme Republicans, and I believe only subsidies keep it afloat.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A BOOK REVIEW IN THE GUARDIAN

 

“We know that 18th-century colonists referred to themselves as English or British; that identification with one’s own particular colony easily trumped any sense of a shared identity as Americans.”

Sorry, but for people who done some serious reading of American history, that’s not news.

As a matter of fact, it was estimated that during the “revolution” about one-third were Loyalists, one-third indifferent to it all, and only one-third active supporters. It was a minority event.

One French nobleman who came over for some adventure in the later days of the “revolution” said that he saw more excitement over events in the cafes of Paris than he saw in America.

I put “revolution” in quotes because it really is a misuse of the word to apply it to the American War. It has been accurately described by a European writer as a local set of aristocrats seeking to replace a foreign set of aristocrats.

The only time, the events vaguely resembled a revolution was when Massachusetts volunteers responded to Britain’s sending over troops to be quartered. It was brief. The Continental Congress then appointed Virginia aristocrat George Washington to take command. He rode in and took over, referring to the local volunteers in his letters as scum and rabble. He instituted lashing and hanging to instill the discipline he liked as an admirer of British Armed Forces.

The “revolution” was only won because of huge French assistance. Washington was pretty well incompetent as a General, never winning a single significant battle, and it was French Generals who insisted on the last, decisive battle at Yorktown. Washington wanted to attack New York instead. The only other important battle was earlier at Saratoga, and again French help was decisive with weapons and money and assistance.

Without France – and here Franklin’s diplomacy was crucial – America would have likely given up.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A STORY IN THE INDEPENDENT AND THE GUARDIAN

 

Britain is experiencing a ferocious outbreak of a neo-McCarthyism.

The imagined enemy in this round is not communists lurking around in the halls of the State Department and other agencies and institutions.

It is imagined anti-Semites lurking in the Labour Party, and the McCarthyite pressure groups have now brought the suspension of two members.

Well, I guess if one form of attack fails, you come up with another.

We had endless anti-Corbyn stories and comments and interviews in the wake of Corbyn’s winning the leadership of the Labour Party in fair democratic fashion.

It was relentless, but it failed and has somewhat tapered off, and we can all thank God we see no more interviews with Tony Blair, a sick, sordid man criticizing an honorable one.

But the neo-McCarthyism represents a second wave with the same intent of criticizing and discrediting perfectly honorable people.

Why would people do this? Because Israel’s government does not like Corbyn, just as it does not like Trump in America or, for that matter, President Assad of Syria. The government of Israel resents independent-minded people gaining power and wants to maintain the situation it has enjoyed under the blood-drenched neocon crowd. Hillary is their man.

Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitism, not any more than criticizing the old Soviet Union for its violations of human rights was anti-Russian.

It is tiresome to keep hearing all the attempts to shut up honest critics with a spurious charge. I think we all know genuine hate when we hear or read it, and those who keep ranting about anti-Semitism where none exists are far closer to the mark than the people at whom they rage.

I’ll remind readers of the honorable company that has been at one time or another attacked in this fashion. It includes Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela.

This kind of ugly noise, in part, reflects unspoken shame and guilt over the situation in Israel. There is a very great deal to criticize about Israel, its behavior in many things violates international law and custom and is simply appalling, and none of it is the doing of the critics pointing it out. Instead of pressuring Israel to mend its ways, Israel’s apologists abroad resort to a campaign against anyone who points the horrors out.

 

FOOTNOTE: Ken Livingstone’s unspeakable crime of saying that Hitler supported Zionism is simply historical fact, and here is just one indisputable piece of evidence:

http://northshorenumismaticsociety.org/little-known-medal-marks-nazi-zionist-co-operation-in-1933/

 

 

 

 

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

I’m glad the Independent’s headline put “anti-Semitic” in quotes.

I think The Guardian would not have.

What I saw quoted from Labour MP, Naz Shah, from Facebook could only be called anti-Semitic by extremists of the Israel Lobby.

Critical, yes. Anti-Semitic, no.

____________________________

 A reader comment:  “There has never , ever , in history been a “Palestinian state ” . Israel wasnt “recognised” is was created by United Nations decree in a free vote.

“You clearly dont know what you are talking about.”

 

I know very well the history of Israel’s “creation,” and it is a pretty sordid story, full of deception, pressure, terror, and unfulfilled promises.

As just one example, Israel accepted the Right of Return, a UN principle, when it was given membership and has always ignored it, just as it has ignored more than twenty UN Resolutions condemning its acts for decades.

Israel is simply a lawless state by any definition.

And today’s re-created state got its start by wheedling a British official, Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in 1917, during the Great War to make a rather vague promise in a brief note to Britain’s Zionist Federation. This was later elevated into a “founding document” for Israel.

And later, in 1948, as the people who were to become Israelis were busy shooting up and terrifying the native Palestinians, Israel’s lobbyists abroad won crucial American recognition from President Truman by intense lobbying and the promise of substantial support in the form of media and cash for his election campaign. Truman was in serious political trouble in the 1948 election and grabbed the offer of help much as a drowning man grabs a life preserver thrown to him. Yet he believed sincerely that recognizing Israel was a bad idea, and he left us some sharp comments on the whole matter.

Imagine the pride you could feel in a state based on a vague promise from an imperial power which itself had no business being in Palestine and which had even less business making the suggestion of offering it to a third party as though it were a load of used furniture?

But Israel hides behind the skirts of the United States to carry on safely with its lawlessness. And it keeps that position behind the skirts with a powerful American Lobby which takes full advantage of America’s ill-considered campaign finance laws, allowing money to run elections. What Truman started continues to this day.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY OLIVIA BLAIR IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

I think the most fascinating and overlooked aspect of the Hillsborough disaster is the way it is was easy for those in authority to enforce for decades an “official view” of the event, a view which we now know was completely different from the truth.

You might not think at first it possible in so large an event involving many deaths for officials to succeed as they did in lying, but they did succeed and for decades.

It could serve to teach us all a lesson about what goes on at a higher level in our governments day-in and day-out.

The public is fed and it swallows the same kind of garbage explanations about even more serious events, such as the real nature of the war in Syria or the downing of airliner MH-17.

If officials decide on an explanation for something – and the press colludes in supporting it, which it always does – then that becomes history, and the truth does not exist.

We are literally immersed in such practices today by our national governments.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY KIESE LAYMON IN THE GUARDIAN

 

The lesser evil, Kiese Laymon?

I am sorry, but I don’t think you know what you are talking about.

Hillary is a lifelong nasty piece of work – she was an enabler for her sick husband, she’s lied to us countless times, she’s a terrible hypocrite about big money in politics, she has supported every colonial war in her life, and the one time she actually ran an organization, the State Department, she made a hash of it.

Oh, and did I say she’s a serious psychopathic killer?

Her “We came, we saw, he died” with brutal laughter about Gadhafi in Libya – a man who actually had run a pretty fair state for his people – was just sickening.

Trump, like so many Americans, has a big mouth, but he has no attachment to the establishment which Hillary represents. And he actually can be quite thoughtful and independent-minded.

If you want more war, tens of thousands more deaths, then vote for Hillary.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

 

You guys jump on anything in an effort to make Trump look bad.

It’s nonsense, and he doesn’t look bad.

Not only was what he said true – and the man is bluntly honest – but one of Hillary’s closest and most intense supporters, fellow grotesque mass murderer, Madeleine Albright, has gone out of her way to make extreme statements on this very matter, having said something to the effect that there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support Hillary.

And here is a brief video which makes Trump’s point. It’s slow to load, but it is pretty devastating:

http://www.xrepublic.tv/#!Hillary-Clinton-plays-woman-card-13-times-in-a-minute/cjds/572255c00cf232b075d136ef

Please…

_______________________

Oh sure, Obama, the man who has murdered literally hundreds of thousands and destroyed several societies.

And who has also managed to push the West towards serious confrontation with Russia.

And who has still done absolutely nothing for his own people at home.

What a great leader he has been.

What a sucker you are for false-charm smile and a baritone voice.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A COLUMN BY PATRICK COCKBURN IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

The allegations at the end of the article about Saudis paying Osama bin Laden were part of Anthony Summers’ book on 9/11.

There is little doubt that they are true. He was in his day one of the world’s best investigative reporters.

But as with all affairs in the Middle East, the situation was almost certainly more complicated and obscure than that suggests.

The Saudis did not do 9/11. That is a false and ridiculous charge. There were Saudi citizens involved in events leading up to 9/11, but even their role is not clear to this day. It does seem that the US had some kind of elaborate intelligence operation going at the time involving a lot of men from the Middle East. One minor American diplomat was quoted about the large number of quickie visas he was required to issue to suspicious types from the Middle East not long before 9/11. That is a crucial piece of information, never explained.

It actually is not even clear that Osama bin Laden had a role in 9/11 besides applauding it afterward, something by the way more than a few Israelis did also, knowing full well it was a gift from the gods as far as their position in the region. The US never produced an ounce of hard evidence to implicate him. Indeed, when the US tried to extradite him from Afghanistan, the Taleban government asked for some evidence, the supply of which is a customary part of extradition. Of course, the US just ignored them and invaded, something it likely wanted to do anyway for a variety of reasons.

While the mainline press has always avoided stories around it, it is simply a fact that there were two gangs of Israeli spies working in the US at the time. One posed as a group of art students and moved about quite a bit, including in the area were pilot training was given to some of the Saudis. The others went about in a moving truck for a company which did not exist.

The last group was spotted taking pictures from the top of their truck and generally dancing and high-fiving as the smoke rose from the towers. They were reported to police and arrested, but we know virtually nothing of their mission which clearly included being ready to photograph events of 9/11. How did they know? Who did they tell anything? They were soon expelled and no explanation was ever offered.

All we know for sure is that, clearly, advanced information about 9/11 existed, but it was not acted upon, and the fact has been suppressed ever since.

As I said, the situation was almost certainly more complicated and obscure than we understand. But the series of events in years since is likely related. A host of countries in the Middle East have been violently toppled, and the main beneficiary of all that violence has been Israel because the violence created a cordon sanitaire for Israel.

 

 

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A COLUMN BY JOHN RENTOUL IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“But Boris Johnson’s clowning is a disservice to democracy…”

You must be kidding.

What about David Cameron’s confused show? In fact it makes Boris look positively dignified.

First, Cameron needlessly opens the entire matter of a referendum, obviously having no inkling of what a mess he was making.

Then he goes over to Europe and spends a little photo-op time with his sleeves rolled up in the company of senior people, trying to look for all the world like the tough negotiator, can-do guy who was saving Britain from the EU’s excesses.

Then he comes back home and puts on an asinine act about, “Yes, I’d join the EU on these terms” which he negotiated. As it happens, the terms are next to nothing in substance.

Then he invites (or pleads with, more likely) Obama to come to tell Brits what’s best for them. The Prez tells them in silly words full of undefined threats undoubtedly written by Cameron’s own crew.

While in Britain, the world’s outstanding mass murderer tells British youth not to be cynical and help change the world(!).

Then the Prez flies over to Germany to strong-arm Merkel about the TTIP which Germans rightly reject overwhelmingly.

In both Britain and Germany, what the mass killer is really doing is pushing the American imperial agenda. His words in both places had nothing but bromides for the locals.

If anything, Obama’s performance only re-inforces the fact that the EU is used by the US for its own purposes.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RINF

 

Andrew Jackson was simply a violent madman. He is well gone.

He tried destroying money, effectively favoring the gross inflation of local banks for the benefit of Jackson’s constituency, backwoods farmers. I’ve never understood why he was given a place on money.

He fought several duels, literally horsewhipped one man, had a towering rage of a temper, and was responsible for the atrocity we call the Trail of Tears, in which long-settled home- and farm-owning native people in the Southeastern US were sent packing out to what became Oklahoma but was then wilderness. Literally thousands died. It was like something the Nazis might do.

Alexander Hamilton, however, deserves more than any figure to be on the face of money. That clever man practically created all the key elements of today’s money system.

Harriet Tubman is certainly a significant historical figure, but it has not been American practice to put general historical figures on the face of money.

Also, I can’t help feeling there is tremendous cynicism and hypocrisy in putting her on a bill. Money and slavery were intimate associates. The US has never apologized for or compensated for slavery. There is not even a monument to this important and dreadful institution in Washington.

All the blubbering in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights about freedom and rights was put into accurate perspective by Britain’s magnificent Dr. Samuel Johnson when he asked: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”

He was referring to the likes of Thomas Jefferson.

By the way, Andrew Jackson was also an unrepentant slave holder.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

This might be described as Dr. Jekyll preaches to youth.

Here is a man who has murdered tens of thousands of people and who has destabilized half a dozen countries telling young people to reject cynicism and fight to change the world?

What needs changing in the world is having leaders like Obama who now surely ranks with the likes of George Bush and Tony Blair.

It’s amazing what a boyish smile and a baritone voice can do for a mass killer’s acceptance.

Readers might enjoy:  https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/john-chuckman-essay-obamas-tears/

 

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A COLUMN BY KATHERINE VINER IN THE GUARDIAN

 

“Online abuse pollutes the water in which we all swim. As the Guardian’s first female editor, it is important to me that we tackle it”

 

Well, apart from the egregious mixed metaphors, that’s a very questionable statement at all levels.

“…abuse pollutes the water in which we all swim” does sound like something from an official announcement in North Korea, the kind of language which would immediately have raised the antennae of a George Orwell.

Is that what you are aiming for?  Who decides what’s pollution and what’s not?

With so many tough and controversial issues in the world’s news – upon some of which, mind you, The Guardian already does not permit readers to comment – I see further restrictions as a dangerous course. It is easy for a newspaper to be a propaganda sheet, and indeed, all newspapers, including The Guardian, do work this way a good deal of the time. Fairly open comments are one of the only ameliorating practices for this natural tendency.

Stimulating conversation, great comedy, and good literature always contain things which bother some. Are you proposing to reduce things to pap and political correctness just because some are bothered?

This does sound rather like an unwelcome warning, albeit in soft language, announcing a dark new course.

 

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

 

This is rather pathetic.

Instead, how infinitely more desirable it would have been to have a British government which stood on principle years ago as America and Israel and Turkey and Saudi Arabia formed, trained, and supplied the savages which did this.

All those people, all that history, all those great swaths of a beautiful land utterly destroyed in the name of geopolitical stunts.

_____________________________

Comment from another reader: “I think it’s rather unlikely Israel would have a hand in creating virulent anti-Semites.”

 

Well, you are just wrong, showing no understanding of international affairs or Israel.

First, we’ve had hard evidence Israel is involved in Syria, caches of Israeli weapons discovered for instance.

Second, Israel has used extremely dark practices many times in its brief history.

Its secret service supported Hamas in the early days to weaken Fatah. Having achieved that, it turned around and told everyone Hamas was a terrorist organization, which is pure nonsense.

Ask yourself why this supposedly anti-Semitic gang, ISIS, has never attacked Israel or its interests.

Israel, logically, should have been the first target.

Instead, and this is very telling, it attacks Israel’s enemy in the region, Syria. Ridiculous.

Another infamous example of Israeli dark ops was the bombing of the spy ship USS Liberty in 1967. A two-hour attack with guns, bombs, and torpedoes against a well-marked ship about whose presence they had been warned in advance.

Israel’s purpose is still not clearly understood, but likely it was to stop information about two things from getting out from a ship capable of intercepting their every signal and communication while fighting in Egypt.

One was Israel’s brutal slaughter of hundreds of Egyptian prisoners of war in the Sinai: unarmed, legally surrendered men were simply machine-gunned down.

Two, to hide the turning north of Israel’s armor, an act which the US had warned Israel against doing. The prisoners were killed simply to expedite this act which had always been part of the war’s plan.

Israel, of course, succeeded in its planned conquests, the source of continuous problems ever since. We know that Israel actually deliberately provoked the Arab attack in the 1967 War because it knew it could win. It had planned the 1967 War in great detail. The War was always about taking still more of other people’s land.

There are many, many other instances, as for example the Lavon Affair.

Israel has a history of ruthlessness in such matters and of duplicity about them afterward.

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY OWEN JONES IN THE GUARDIAN

 

The concept of the EU was excellent.

The practice is appalling.

The single most terrible practice now is the way the EU is just used as a convenience to push Europe around for America’s imperial interests.

It stands against none of America’s brutal policies anywhere.

The leadership is terrible, but I strongly suspect they are all people who early in their careers were spotted and put on secret CIA pensions, a very common practice.

_____________________________________________

Economic principles, without question, all argue for the EU.

But all complicated organizations affect many dimensions of the lives of members – social, political, etc.

And these other impacts can in the eyes of many outweigh economic benefits.

It is not just a matter of, say, French preferences versus English preferences.

It is a matter of quite fundamental issues in many of the member societies.

The matter of a massive refugee crisis is just one excellent example. It matters a great deal more in some member states than in others.

And we see appalling deals with one of the world’s genuine madmen, Turkey’s Erdogan, paying him blood money to keep people away. Again, Erdogan is under American protection as a bulwark against Russia, but sensible people know well that there is no need to be against Russia. And going back to economics, everyone in Europe is considerably poorer for America’s policies towards Russia.

Of course, the refugee crisis would not have happened had the EU’s leadership stood up against the United States, say, five years ago when its proxy armies – with the close assistance of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel – began tearing Syria apart. The results were inevitable.

And the same for Libya.

And even Iraq, a pointless and tremendously destructive war.

The EU is very timid, too, about Israel’s many atrocities, again under pressure from the United States.

All of the ensuing “international terror” is just so much “blowback” from American policies, so there is yet another way America has hurt Europe for its own purposes.

You cannot have a better world if you never stand up to true bullies, and the world’s greatest bully, without question, is the United States, having killed maybe six million people in its imperial wars and interventions since the 1960s.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY PAUL MASON IN THE GUARDIAN

 

Paul Mason, you are quite literally dreaming in Technicolor, as they say.

Bernie will be stopped by Hillary’s ghastly crowd which includes some frighteningly powerful folks.

If, however, by some miracle he did get the nomination – and by miracle I mean enough of Hillary’s mob forgot to fix this or that ballot or failed to suppress voters in some primaries or other such screw-ups or if Hillary were indicted – he would be unlikely to be elected.

But if by some double miracle, he did get elected, he would find the experience quickly terrifying and overwhelming.

The big boys – Pentagon, seventeen security services, corporate multi-billionaires, and the Israel Lobby – would quickly make him know who is in charge and just where policy is headed

What do think happened to the pleasant young black man with the big smile seven years ago?

Reduced to a murderous liar. Useless to humanity.

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF A COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RINF

 

You simply cannot say that Jews are not Jews as some do here in comments – that is rather ridiculous.

What you can say is that most of today’s Jews are not the descendants of the Hebrew people – and that is a very different thing.

The origin of the Ashkenazi has not been definitively shown.

DNA tests suggest a people who arose near Italy about a thousand years ago and later moved north to Germany.

Other DNA tests do suggest the Khazaria (an empire above the modern Black and Caspian Seas) hypothesis, again going back roughly a thousand years.

Quite likely, owing to reasons cited below, today’s main Jewish population contains bits of both.

There is in fact some Semitic DNA in some Ashkenazi people, but that is only natural as intermarriage among various early Jewish groups likely took place.

It is important to remember that the Ashkenazi – the dominant group of Jews today and the people who rule re-created Israel – speak as their native tongue a language which is a mix of German and other elements – Yiddish – and the word Ashkenazi means German.

Hebrew is a technically dead language artificially revived in re-created Israel, much as Welsh has had some revival in the UK. Hebrew knowledge was preserved over many centuries mainly by two activities: the work of Biblical scholars, including many non-Jews, and the practice of teaching young Jews some Hebrew in Hebrew schools. Hebrew is an almost intrinsic part of the religion of Judaism in much the same fashion that Arabic is for Islam.

Indeed, Judaism has many of the aspects of an Asian religion in which ancestor worship is important, the Old Testament being mainly a collection of historical fragments and myths about Hebrew ancestors. That shouldn’t surprise because Judaism is thought to have first arisen in the region around Mesopotamia or Persia, key parts of Western Asia.

Today’s Jews – again, overwhelmingly the Ashkenazi – have little to no relationship with that ancient people other than sharing some of their beliefs and using bits of the preserved language as part of religious celebrations.

Parts of the Old Testament such as Leviticus suggest a harsh original people with extreme fundamentalist views, perhaps the very nature of their beliefs being why they left their region of origin, much as a small cult like the Mormons trekked out to Utah. The most typical Jews of today – even most of the Orthodox – have very little to do with those ancient views, and the Jewish people we think of typically are quite worldly in outlook. The population of Israel is extremely so, except for small minority sects, Judaism much as other religions over time having become less an intense faith than a cultural affiliation. We see the same thing with Christians who go to church only on Easter or Christmas.

What happened to the ancient people called Hebrews, the ones discussed in the Old Testament? Their main descendants are certainly the Palestinians. There is no record of Imperial Rome’s having expelled the Hebrews upon conquest of their territories. Indeed, we know that it was not Rome’s practice to expel people almost ever from conquered territories. It wanted them to go on working and even practicing their religion, Rome being extremely tolerant of non-Roman beliefs so long as the people accepted Rome’s authority and paid their taxes (recall Jesus’s admonition about rendering unto Rome).

But two millennia of history in a region of the Mediterranean which has long been very active in trade and migrations and cultural changes has produced a largely non-Jewish people called the Palestinians, people who are Christian as well as Muslim.

Of course the great and bitter irony of re-created Israel is that a largely European people, the Ashkenazi, have driven out the descendants of the Hebrews whose original religion they claim as their own.

What is almost certain is that, following the great evangelical success of Christianity – after all, Christianity even eventually took over the Roman Empire – which originated as a Jewish (Hebrew) sect other Jews (Hebrews) became evangelical, a quality we do not associate with Jews today.

That period of evangelicalism resulted in groupings of Jews arising in a number of places including Khazaria (a region above today’s Black and Caspian Seas), bits of Europe, and pockets of Africa. It is interesting that in re-created Israel, the descendants of Jewish converts from Africa are not generally welcome by the descendants of other Jewish converts, the Ashkenazi.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

And I very much hope it’s true.

Assad is a highly intelligent and decent leader for this part of the world.

Independent-minded and rather brave.

A defender of religious minorities in a land with many of them.

Only America’s gaggle of mindless followers keeps reciting the pre-written lines about his being unfit or unacceptable – as if it were any of their business anyway.

Where are these people’s critical words when it comes to genuinely vicious madmen like Erdogan, King Salman, and Netanyahu?

We never hear a peep.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY BARBARA ELLEN IN THE GUARDIAN

 

Threats or abuse – the real thing, not exaggerated descriptions of criticism – of course have no place in comments.

However, this writer, Barbara Ellen, strikes me as overly sensitive about negative reader comments.

The fact is, if you put your words “out there,” there’s simply going to be a wide spectrum of reactions, a good deal of it not flattering to your ego.

That is the nature of the human condition.

I am a writer – hundreds of essays, reviews, and a book – and I well know this.

I genuinely think this writer needs to adjust to reality rather than complain in this fashion, which – I am indeed sorry to say – is actually quite off-putting.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

 

Please, Guardian reporters use some highly inappropriate language.

“Sweeps”?

Is that really an appropriate verb for a back-room administrative decision which had no aspect of a contest or ballot?

I don’t think so.

But it creates a headline with propaganda impact.

After all, the Guardian is decidedly in the “anybody but Trump” camp, and believe me, Ted Cruz is literally anybody, nothing he does being something to cheer over.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RINF

 

Recently, there has been a steady drumbeat at The Guardian and other British papers on this subject with columnist after columnist writing fantastical stuff about “the Left’s anti-Semitism problem.”

And this comes after a long campaign to vilify Jeremy Corbyn himself – a thoroughly decent man, after his becoming leader of the Labour Party – as weak, out-of-date, and ineffectual, quoting day after day such wonderfully credible sources and paid hacks as Tony Blair. This campaign reached the sickening point of the Prime Minister’s publically insulting Corbyn and refusing to apologize, but of course we know David Cameron is a corrupt and unreliable political figure.

The government of Israel thoroughly dislikes Corbyn – as it dislikes Donald Trump, disliking them both for being independent-minded and fairly honest speakers – and it is making the force of its views felt in indirect, behind-the scenes pressures on many matters such as rules against criticizing Israel and making advocacy of BDS illegal.

Of course, the “anti-Semitism” referred to in these efforts is not what most people in the world would regard as anti-Semitism, the actual hatred of Jewish people because they are Jewish.

No, instead it is an unwarranted negative labelling of those who criticise Israel or who advocate BDS, both legitimate and ethical exercises of free speech in a supposedly free country. This is anti-Semitism only in the phony propagandists’ sense that criticising the former Soviet Union might have been labelled hatred of Russians.

This really is depressing since our political system is based on free speech and open views, and Israel unquestionably does things regularly and before our eyes that most of us have long ago have been taught are immoral and wrong.

Israel refuses to change anything that it does, any of its abusive and violent and law-breaking policies, but increasingly it also expects people in other lands to be pressured by unjust laws and rules into shutting up their objections.

It is definitely poor, short-term thinking to push things in this fashion and generate an even greater sense of injustice.

This does tell us, along with other measures of recent years, just how desperate Israel is becoming over honestly-expressed public opinion in the rest of the world.

So King Canute is going to command the waves on the sea to stop, and we do come to a ridiculous and unsustainable place, the very same place motivating Israel’s unreasonable demands.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A VIDEO ARTICLE BY JONATAN FREEDLAND IN THE GUARDIAN

 

More propaganda from Jonathan Freedland – there really is no other word to adequately describe this verbal output short of an unfortunate bout of severe verbal diarrhea.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, Trump has said or advocated is not being done already in other places.

Immigrants? Look to your own Prime Minister for inspiration. He plainly just does not want them. Then look to Israel which takes only one kind of immigrant and no other. Walls? Israel has them going up in a number of places, and various states of Europe are building strong fences.

And speaking of immigrants, we have a flood of refugees today which is why fences are going up in Europe.

Why is that? Because America, Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia five years ago make a decision they had no right to make: to seek to destroy the government of Syria and hurtle that beautiful, historic land into chaos, sending millions running for their lives.

There is no other explanation for the horrors we see than geopolitics over humanity and human rights and, yes, even democracy, because Assad has popular support in Syria and is a defender of religious rights.

And America, in consultation with Israel, has made what can only be termed Hitlerian decisions more than once, destroying a well-run society in Libya and utterly devastating Iraq.

And poor Egypt, finally free of a hideous dictatorship after thirty years, was quickly turned around, its young democracy destroyed, and is back saddled with dictatorship. Why? Bottom line is that Israel detested the democratic government of Egypt.

All of this was to create a cordon sanitaire for Israel and to eliminate rulers who looked to their own countries’ interests rather than toe the line of America’s authoritarian policies.

And what can we say of the country for whose benefit so much of this horror was launched? It builds walls everywhere, and on other people’s land. It destroys houses that have stood for centuries. It regularly just helps itself to parcels of other people’s land. It holds thousands as prisoners. It holds five million or so effectively in bondage with no rights, no votes, and no future.

This is what Mr Freedland effectively is defending.

It is simply a fact that Israel’s government intensely dislikes Donald Trump because it sees him as an independent decision-maker, and it is simply a fact that apologists for Israel now all work hard to bad mouth Trump. You can see it in American publications and in British publications like The Guardian, ranging from subtle to vitriolic attacks.

I actually dislike being put in the position of being a defender for Trump because he does not represent most of my views, but I do believe he could bring a desperately-needed fresh approach to foreign affairs. Sometimes it takes a bastard to get a vital job done.

As for Hillary, she is nothing less than a blood-soaked goddess of war, and Ted Cruz is a dishonest, insincere, and intensely unlikable man who frequently sounds like a salesman for Israel Bonds. You want more stupid war and destruction and refugees, you vote for either of them.

Trump may well prove an important agent of change, ushering the world into a new, more promising era, but of course the unspoken agenda for so many attacking him is that they like things just as they are. It is very much at least worth a try.

 

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JONATHAN JONES IN THE GUARDIAN

 

No, you have it wrong; restoring Palmyra is not what history will never forgive.

What history will in fact never forgive is the complicity of governments like Britain’s in this whole sad tale of terror in Syria.

The terror was artificially created by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel in order to destroy the government of Syria and perhaps divide the country up.

Countries like Britain and France sat on the sidelines pretending to be against terror and selling things to the offending parties.

A third of million killed, millions of refugees, and the destruction of priceless antiquities – all completely avoidable.

That is the ugly truth of Syria that cannot be repeated enough.

Governments conducting proxy wars without the permission of voters and in the service of special interests – that truly is unforgivable.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JONATHAN FREEDLAND IN THE GUARDIAN

 

Sorry, this article is effectively just a kind of low-key propaganda for Israel.

This is not a conflict between two parties, and as soon as you portray it that way, you are saying nothing meaningful.

This is a case of an overwhelmingly more powerful group holding another group in something close to perpetual bondage, all while pretending not to do so and having enough influence in the West to keep the pretence going.

There is no equality between the parties, of any description.

Palestinians do not regularly steal tranches of Israeli land.

Palestinians do not destroy Israeli houses.

Palestinians don’t build walls on Israeli land and walls which prevent Israelis from going about their business.

Palestinians do not hold thousands of Israelis in illegal detention, including children.

Palestinians do not spray swaths of Israel with chemical herbicides.

Palestinians have never sprayed Israelis with sewerage.

Palestinians do not prevent the importation of cement into Israel, cement needed for basic housing and sanitation.

Palestinians do not surround Israel with robot-operated machine gun towers.

Palestinians do not shoot up Israeli fishing boats or beaches.

Palestinians do not prevent Israelis from moving or travelling around.

Palestinians do not impose harsh regulations and checkpoints for Israelis just going about their lives.

Palestinians do not steal the homes of Israelis living in Jerusalem.

Palestinians do not hold hostage monies and assistance from abroad intended for Israelis.

Palestinians have never killed 500 Israeli children in an invasion of Israel.