Category Archives: Politics

Why do Syrian and Iraqi deaths no longer matter?

devastatingly important question posed, interestingly enough, by Ian Black, the Guardian’s Middle East editor:

‘Mummy, why did everyone forget about Syria when Gaza started?’

It’s a truism that news organisations and audiences alike struggle to cope with more than one major international crisis at a time: if the war in Gaza wasn’t a big enough story, then the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine was almost unbearable overload. But what about Syria, where 1,700 people are reported to have died in the last 10 days alone?

Lets have a look at the facts:

In May, the death toll in Syria was counted at 160,000 in two years of fighting. Although this figure has most certainly increased since then.

The death toll in Syria’s three-year conflict has climbed past 160,000, an activist group said Monday, a harrowing figure that reflects the relentless bloodletting in a civil war that appears no closer to being resolved.

Also posted in Identity Politics, Islamism, Israel/Palestine, Moral relativism, Sectarianism | 39 Responses

a window of opportunity for an independent kurdistan?

i must start by declaring an interest here, not only as someone who supports a fair and equitable end to the arab-israeli conflict in which israel’s future is secured and a wider lasting peace in the middle east for all its peoples, but also as someone many of whose ancestors came from mosul and kirkuk in kurdistan. i have met many talented kurds and they have invariably been the sort of people who i could get along with and do business with; reasonable, rational and sensitive to the realities of history and politics.

for all these reasons, the issue of kurdistan has been close to my heart for a number of years; it felt very much to me as if it was a pipe-dream, given the geopolitical status quo. the basics are this:

Also posted in Activism, Democracy, History, Human Rights, Identity Politics, International Affairs, Misc, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

the big society, riots and “spiral dynamics”

obviously, a great deal has been written about the riots to date and a great deal of predictable outpouring has also taken place. what i wanted to offer to this debate is, however, along more behavioural lines.

i have for some time been aware of the powerful analytical frameworks for bio-psycho-social systems developed by the american psychologist dr clare graves and systematised for practical application by don beck and chris cowan in the excellent book “spiral dynamics” (i’m not affiliated with anyone concerned, incidentally). at the risk of sounding like somewhat of a “fanboy”, as i believe it is called on teh interwebs, i am convinced it constitutes an important piece of intellectual real estate for the understanding of complex socio-political systems, particularly in behavioural terms.

Also posted in Activism, Blogosphere, Civil Rights, Communalism, Crime, Democracy, Education, Ethics, Exegesis, Human Rights, Identity Politics, Media, Misc, Moral relativism, Multiculturalism, Political Correctnes gone mad!, The Far Left, The Left, The Regressive Left, UK Politics | Leave a comment

A disillusioned nationalist exposes the BNP

This is a guest post by 17th Angel. Some details have been removed in the interests of anonymity.

Also posted in Activism, Anti Fascism, Blogosphere, Democracy, European Fascism, Identity Politics, Immigration, Racism, UK Politics, Your View | 4 Responses

meanwhile, in israel…

with the flotilla imbroglio (or fiasco, if you prefer) in full swing, yours truly has just arrived back from the zionist entity, where numerous representatives of clan bananabrain continue to live as normal a life as one might expect in what hussein shobokshi of asharq al-awsat describes as “a state established on a lie based on a myth” – and he was chosen as one of the “global leaders for tomorrow” by the world economic forum in 1995, so 15 years later he must be therefore a global leader and not at all the sort of bloke to make wild accusations about a massacre of 60 people (oh, hang on, what am i saying?). i’ll write separately about the flotilla stuff when i have a moment, but i thought it might be interesting to put up a few insights that i think you’ll find interesting, based as they are on a visit on a ground and interacting with normal, sensible [well, members of my family at any rate], well-educated israelis as well as a range of other social observations.

Also posted in Civil Rights, Democracy, Freedom of Religion, International Affairs, Israel/Palestine, Jewish Extremism | 13 Responses

seven modest proposals for the british jewish community

the ferocious but charming miriam shaviv over at the jc is blogging a number of “daily proposals to transform the british jewish community” during march. i was discussing this with my redoubtable other half over friday night dinner and we thought the following might be worth submission:

1. transparency at the jewish leadership council

ok, we know who the board of deputies are. we know what it’s for. we know how it’s funded. we know how you get to be on it. we know who it represents. now, we have this new organisation called the “jewish leadership council”. on it, you have various movers and shakers, you’ve got the vc/banking/property tycoons, you’ve got the charity/safety/israel activists, you’ve got synagogue movement machers, you’ve got access, you’ve got international connections, you’ve got lords, baronesses, knights and the chair of ujs – you’ve got two women and no rabbis, for some reason. you’ve got no haredim, for some other reason. you’ve got leaders from the most broad-based and influential organisations in the community – but what are they for? clearly, this is an influential bunch of people, but who chooses them? who decided that there should be a jewish leadership council in the first place? how are they accountable? what is their strategy? what is their relationship with the board? how is it funded? i for one would like to know.

Also posted in Activism, Antisemitism, Democracy, Education, Entryism, Environmental, Identity Politics, Interfaith, Israel/Palestine, Jewish Extremism, Misc, Obscurantism | Tagged , | 6 Responses

“well, they’re a bit extreme, but they do such good work bringing people back to judaism!”

david t from harry’s place forwarded me this cartoon by eli valley, whose satirical strips appear monthly in the leading us jewish magazine “the forward”.

scary kiruv cartoon

scary kiruv cartoon

on reading it, i didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. on one hand, it’s a caricature of the position of the kiruv (“outreach”) organisations, but on the other hand, once you start digging into their theology, their internal politics, their fundraising activities and their influence on the jewish community and israeli politics, it’s hard not to find them scary.

Also posted in Entryism, Freedom of Expression, Identity Politics, Interfaith, Jewish Extremism, Obscurantism, Sectarianism | 67 Responses

a few good rabbis?

for those of you who aren’t aware of it, this has not been a good couple of years for the orthodox, “strictly-”orthodox and ultra-orthodox communities. corruption around kosher slaughterhouses and conversions, sex scandals, money-laundering, drug smuggling, you name it. all the usual justifications are made, of course, all the usual people accept them and all the usual people sneer at them.

in such an environment, it’s extremely helpful to be able to point to people who can stand up and say in no uncertain terms: this isn’t right. excusing it is even worse. as it says in the Mishnah: where there are no men, at least you should try and act like a man. i am encouraged to see at least some orthodox rabbis swimming against the tide of denial although, of course, not that surprised to see the perennial awkward squad-nik and contrarian (and my own much revered teacher) rabbi jeremy rosen, writing in haaretz:

Also posted in Activism, Education, Ethics, Interfaith | 3 Responses

Saudi deradicalisation initiative

Shiraz Maher has a piece over at the Wall Street Journal explaining why Saudi “deradicalisation” prisons are failing. I’ve reproduced it in full below.

It is now clear that the failed terrorist attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day was directed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The reasons for the sudden resurgence of this previously almost extinct chapter of the global jihad network lie not in Yemen, though—where AQAP is based—but across the border in Saudi Arabia.

For three years the Saudi Kingdom has been experimenting with a deradicalization program for captured Islamist terrorists in the CARE Rehabilitation Center. Rather than turning the jihadists into productive members of society, however, the center has replenished the terrorists’ troops by releasing some extremists who immediately rejoined al Qaeda. Unwilling to challenge their own brand of radical Islam, Wahhabism, the Saudis don’t seem ideologically best equipped to resocialize Islamist terrorists.

Also posted in Islamism, Terrorism | 59 Responses

Press TV sinks to new lows

Well, this is just pathetic. Few things have angered me as much as watching this outrageous clip from Press TV.

It is the worst and most blatant propaganda I’ve seen for years. Exactly the kind of rubbish I’d expect from a station that is little more than a mouthpiece for Ahmadinijad’s murderous regime.

Ofcom has rules on due impartiality and that film is clearly anything but balanced. Arash Hejazi is, for example, given no opportunity to defend the various charges levelled against him. You can make a complaint to Ofcom here (apparently even if you’re not a UK resident).

Not much more I can say really, I’m just so angry at the way we’re allowing a hostile regime to broadcast its propaganda so freely in Britain.

(via Potkin)

Also posted in Anti Fascism, Democracy, Human Rights, International Affairs | Leave a comment
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