In Distinguished Company 41


My name appears in extraordinarily distinguished company in this letter to the Guardian published today:

We speak out for the people of Gaza. What is happening there is a crime against humanity. We are asking everyone to be at Speaker’s Corner in London at 12.30pm on Saturday 10 January, and join the march to the Israeli embassy.

Tony Benn President, Stop the War Coalition

Andrew Murray Chair, STWC

Annie Lennox, Michael Nyman, Brian Eno, Alexei Sayle, Terry Jones, Dr Richard Horton, Bill Bailey, Vanessa Redgrave, Nigel Kennedy, Janet Suzman, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Samuel West, Caryl Churchill, AL Kennedy, Tariq Ali, Corin Redgrave, John Williams, Lauren Booth, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Roger Lloyd Pack, Jehane Markham, John Pilger, Susan Wooldridge, Katherine Hamnett, Kika Markham, David Gentleman, Professor Hilary Rose, Iain Banks, Miriam Margolyes, Professor Steven Rose, Mark Thomas, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Mark Steel, Andy de la Tour, Professor Paul Gilroy, Michael Rosen, Janie Dee, Kathy Panama, Mike & Kate Westbrook, Craig Murray, Ed Harcourt, Dave Randall, Ian Macdonald QC, Michael Kustow, Michael La Rose, Louise Christian, Ali Hussein, Liane Aukin, Eugene Skeef, Keith Burstein, Peter Gabriel

I will certainly be there – I needed some new shoes anyway.


41 thoughts on “In Distinguished Company

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  • writerman

    Eddie,

    I know you'll style and it doesn't impress me, not for a moment. I've actually been gentle with you, as I see you as a disturbed and challenged teenager punching above his intellectual weight.

    The Israeli constitution is totally irrelevant. What matters is Power. Guns, tanks, planes, automic warheads, soldiers armed to the teeth. As long as Israel has these, and the unconditiional support of the United States, it can do whatever it wants with the Palestinians. But such power doesn't last for ever. Israel's policy of wiping the Palestinians off the map will only create a tidal wave of hatred and cries for revenge across the entire region, perhaps not today, but certainly at some future date. The more Palestinians Israel chooses to slaughter the more Arabs will seethe and dedicate themselves to revenge and justice. There will be payback for Gaza someday.

    Israel's agression will be remembered in the Arab and Muslim world for generations. Militant, Israeli nationalism which is moving towards theocracy and facism, will weaken not strenghthen Israel and isolate the Israeli people. Finally all Israel will have left is its automic weapons and the threat of using them.

    Gaza is illustrative of the true face of the Israeli state, a war-machine, dedicated to destroying those who stand in its way. It's like the Warsaw Ghetto over again. It's really an attempt at form of genocide. Like policy of genocide towards the American Indians. Destroying a people unless they submit on conditions dictated by their conquerers.

    Israel really reminds me of a child that's been molested and abused, and now that it's grown it's started to abuse and molest others in a tragic and vicious circle of perverted violence, round and round and down into hell.

    Hamas and the Arabs have offered Israel 'peace', surely you can't claim ignorance of the offer? Peace and full diplomatic recognition, trade and open borders. In return Israel has to pull back to its pre-1967 borders. Israel would still have two to three hundred nuclear warheads and an almost invincible army. But the truth is that the right-wing nationalists in Israel don't want peace. They want more and more land, but more importantly they want to keep power inside Israel so they can rob the country, peace would undermine their position in Israeli society. It would also undermine the position of the military at the very centre of society. The Right in Israel want war, perpetual war. Perpetual war means, for them, perpetual power.

  • eddie

    Writerman – that is just a rant with no substance and the grammar is even worse. You clearly don't believe that Israel has a righ to exist, so trying to argue with you is pointless. I don't know if you have seen any of the pictures of yesterday's demo in London but some of the placards, and the reports of the slogans being chanted, are utterly repellent. You're not telling me that you support this sort of thing are you?
    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/01/10/hey-ho-isr

  • eddie

    Writerman – that is just a rant with no substance and the grammar is even worse. You clearly don't believe that Israel has a right to exist, so trying to argue with you is pointless. I don't know if you have seen any of the pictures of yesterday's demo in London but some of the placards, and the reports of the slogans being chanted, are utterly repellent. You're not telling me that you support this sort of thing are you?
    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/01/10/hey-ho-isr

  • writerman

    Eddie,

    You clearly don't know what the word 'rant' means, so why use it?

    'Substance' what does that mean? I think there's perhaps too much of it, too much for you to digest.

    Whilst civilians are being slaughtered by Israel, in what can reasonably described as atrocities, you focus on typos, extraordinary! You seem to believe that all you have to do is level personal insults and somehow this makes your statements and arguments valid or impressive, you are incorrect.

    I don't think Israel has a right to exist. This is a crude attempt at an intellectual slight-of-hand. Trying, by the back door to force people to accept Israel's conquest of Palestine as just and ligitimate, it won't work.

    Sure, I don't type as well as I'd like, English isn't my first language, how perfect is your German?

    You try to get out of not being able to argue by the crude rhetorical device of the get out clause, it's pointless arguing with you, try again. This is precisely the tactic used by Israeli politicians in relation to those Palestinians who refuse to surrender on Israel's terms. 'Moderation' and 'pragmatism' means subjugation to Israel.

    I don't support racist attacks on Israel or attacking Jews or Israelis for their ethnic background. I'm probably more Jewish than you are, so I can hardly be accused of anti-Semetism, as I would be partial anti myself.

  • writerman

    Eddie,

    I almost forgot. Israeli religious fanatics in the settler movement continually attack the Palestinians, and use language every bit as 'racist' and intemperate as that used against Israel and Jews. I find this equally reprehensible. I despise racism as much as nationalism and patriotic mythology prostituted to support war.

    And considering Israel has wiped Palestine off the map, occupied its territory, driven its people out, levelled their villages and slaughtered tens of thousands of them, is it surprising when angry and militant groups threaten to do the same and seek revenge. Ethnic cleansing has a habit of hitting back with a vengence on those who start it.

  • eddie

    You don't recognise the right of Israel to exist so there is no point in arguing with you. Both sides are doing bad things I agree, but unless you accept a two state solution then your rhetoric is thoroughly evil. What do you think would happen if Israel ceased to exist, if the Arab states were successful in invading and subjugating the country? There would be a nuclear conflagration. Is that what you want because that is what you will get. I did not know you were German. Perhaps you should stick to German websites. I am navigating away to saner waters.

  • writerman

    Countries either exist or they don't. This phrase 'right to exist' implies that Israel's existance is both just, correct, rightful and ligitimate. It serves several purposes at the same time. It ligitimises the existance of Israel and at the same time undercuts those who oppose the state of Israel's existance, deligitimising their resistance to occupation.

    Isn't it enough that Israel exists and the Arabs have accepted this fact on the ground, why demand that they and others agree that Israel has a 'right' to exist?

    My 'rhetoric' isn't thoroughly evil. Where have I written anything 'evil', please show me where that is. All I've done is question the fundamentals of Israeli nationalism and the ideology of Zionism. Being critical of Israel's government or policies isn't per definition 'evil' there are many Israelis who dislike their government and its policies too, are they 'thoroughly evil' as well and anti-Semetic?

    Israel doesn't really accept the two state solution, except in words. In actions, realities on the ground, the Israeli state has done everything in it's power to undermine such a solution and make a Palestinian state unviable.

    The only 'realistic' solution would have been, and I think the time for such a solution is probably running out, would have been Gaza and the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem, forming the new state of Palestine. Both areas linked by a neutral, internationally controlled corridor.

    But Israel has blokaded Gaza, surrounded East Jerusalem, cut the West Bank into peices under Israeli control and effectively destroyed the prospect for a viable, independent, Palestinian state. Instead the Palestinians are being 'offered' life on 'reservations'

    tightly managed, controlled and subjugated; Virtual 'concentration camps', repositories of cheap labour, but not an independent and viable state.

    Israel is in a position of strength, for the time being and it wishes to dictate terms to the Palestinians for their surrender. This is how powerful countries treat less powerful ones that they have successfully conquered. In this case Israel is following the normal course of international relations, but it has precious little to do with what's considered 'right' or 'wrong'.

    I think, ideally, I support a one state solution, call it Israel/Palestine, with both peoples and the Christians and others all living together in peace. The idea of a two state solution only cements the differences between the two sides and it's doubtful if the Palestinians could ever achieve real independence, on the contrary they would always be dependent on Israel, and this would eventually lead to more conflict.

    No, the two peoples have to learn to live together whether in the beginning they like it or not, just like in Northern Ireland. However, such a solution would require Israel to abandon the ideology of Zionism. This would be difficult, but not impossible. The Palestinians would have to give up their dream of restoring Palestine as an independent state. So both sides would be forced to make big sacrifices and compromise. But what is the alternative to living together? Eternal war?

    The Palestinians don't realistically stand a chance of wiping Israel of the map. Israel cannot wipe the Palestinians off the map either. There is a stalemate. They could though eventually destroy each other in some future war of survival between Israel and the Arab world, where nuclear weapons would settle everything once and for all. Yet this would be a tragedy, a terrible and wasteful crime, resulting in the deaths of millions on both sides, and that, I would contend, really would be thoroughly evil.

  • eddie

    Well we will have to agree to disagree. I do think the Israelis have now gone too far, especially as I read today that they were firing artillery from naval vessels – I don’t see how artillery fire from ships can hope to be accurate. But the questions remain – how do they deal with Hamas, which is a neo-Imperialist organisation (i.e. they want to restore the Caliphate) that is committed to firing rockets at Israeli towns? And secondly, how can the far left square its support for the Palestinians when they are implicitly giving support to a theocratic fascist organsiation? Witness the scenes at the Israeli embassy – thugs throwing missiles and police holding back. These people are fascists.

  • eddie

    Well we will have to agree to disagree. I do think the Israelis have now gone too far, especially as I read today that they were firing artillery from naval vessels – I don't see how artillery fire from ships can hope to be accurate. But the questions remain – how do they deal with Hamas, which is a neo-Imperialist organisation (i.e. they want to restore the Caliphate) that is committed to firing rockets at Israeli towns? And secondly, how can the far left square its support for the Palestinians when they are implicitly giving support to a theocratic fascist organsiation? Witness the scenes at the Israeli embassy – thugs throwing missiles and police holding back. These people are fascists.

  • writerman

    Eddie,

    I have Jewish ancestors. They lived in Austria for around two centuries. They had land in Silesia and bank. I had a grandmother and three aunties who were murdered towards the end of world war two by fascists. One woman and two teenagers and child with bullets in the back of the head, left in a ditch, supposedly as a kind of warning to people who helped Jews. There 'crime' was that they knew were Jews were hiding in the countryside and they had a little cart which they pulled along the roads from farm to farm and hamlet to hamlet. The cart had a secret compartment. In the compartment one could hide food, books, money and jewelry. On occasion, and it was a tight squeeze, one could even hide a child. This is merely a detail in my family's experience with fascism, which has many forms. There's fascists in uniforms and fascists in Armani suits. Fascists who don't rant and rail, but smile, have charm and tell jokes. There's leftwing fascists and rightwing fascists. Religious fascists and secular fascists.

    I miss not knowing my grandmother and my three aunts, so I have a particular aversion for fascism and quite sensetive about the word and how it's used, having suffered from the real thing, so to speak.

    Why is the Caliphate so bad exactly? As I understand it it's a concept not that different than wishing to unite Europe. It's highly unlikely to happen anytime soon though and a lot can happen in the meantime.

    With my heritage I'm actually concerned about the rise of fascism in Israel melded with religious extremism. The nightmare would be Israel as a theocratic state, armed with nuclear weapons, facing theocratic neighbouring states, sharing mutual hostility.

    Today the Israeli electoral commission banned two arab parties from standing in the coming parliamentary elections. These parties haven't actually done anything illegal, but they have criticised the attack on Gaza and demanded equal rights and citizenship for all ethnic groups in Israel. In the Israeli parliament they were termed 'traitors' and 'terrorists' by the extreme 'fascists' and attacked because they were deemed to pose a threat to Israel's identity as a 'Jewish' state, for Jews. Now given that the Arabs number somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million citizens and by 2040, given their high birthrate, will probably comprise the majority in Israel – unless some accident happens – I would contend that this is an 'interesting' development. An attempt to disenfranchise a 'dissident' group and control and manage their right to free political expression. Further, the extreme 'fascist' right in Israel are accutely aware of the demographic timebomb that's ticking away and they are openly and not so openly calling for a 'solution' to the Arab question.

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