Daily archives: April 24, 2014

Netanyahu Continues Vicious

I should start by saying that I deeply regret, and have always regretted, the support for Hamas amongst Palestinians.  I view Hamas as a nasty organization espousing an unpleasant and narrow version of Islam, and far too ready to turn to violence.  I regret the passing of the secular minded and sophisticated wide culture of the urbane Palestinian elite of my youth.

I understand that Palestinian willingness to embrace the limiting certainties of Hamas is due to the appalling pressure caused by decades of unspeakable violence and repression by Israel, the squeezing of Palestinians into ever-shrinking over-crowded reservations, the killings, the continual unrelenting humiliation, the deliberate destruction of all economic base.  I understand Hamas won support through social programmes.  I understand the extreme corruption of the Fatah leadership, where some seemed to do very nicely out of the disaster that repressed everybody else.  I understand the role of Israel and the US in promoting the initial growth of Hamas to weaken the Palestinian cause.  My regret is that they succeeded.

Personally I doubt that this latest Hamas/Fatah rapprochement will last any longer than the previous ones.  Even for a people in the direst situation, there will always be self-seeking sociopaths emerging as leaders.

But even with all that, the appalling smug reaction of Netanyahu is sickening.  Israel at no stage had the slightest intention of entering any meaningful peace process, stopping settlement building, or reducing the dispossession and discrimination suffered by Arabs of all sorts within Israel itself.  The World’s most vicious and unrelenting theological and racist state continues to be just that.  The United States was not in any sense genuinely involved in abetting a peace process; it was managing the process of genocide of the Palestinians, drawn out over decades, just conducted with enough disguise to allow the mainstream media to pretend it is not happening.

I do not like Hamas, but they remain morally superior to Netanyahu on every conceivable measure.

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The Aaronovitch Scandal

The Wayback machine has shown that there is a scintilla of truth to Aaronovitch’ claim, in that one single one star review was posted before his procured five star reviews arrived.  But it also shows that four one star reviews, which arrived no earlier than a larger number of five star reviews and appear equally genuine, were deleted by Amazon. No five star reviews were deleted.

I therefore contacted Amazon’s press office to ask for their reaction to Aaronovitch’s admission of posting fake reviews, and asked who initiated the deletion of his poor reviews.  They asked me to put my questions in writing by email.  This I have done.  Answer came there none.

To [email protected]

Re: Voodoo Histories

I refer you to these comments by David Aaronovitch published recently in The Times newspaper:

Something like half of all book sales are now made through Amazon, and when you find a book on Amazon it is accompanied by reviews from “readers” who give it a 1 (lowest) to 5 star rating.  So, almost before my book was published, the first 1-star reviews started to appear, from people who had never read it. After a week, even I wouldn’t have bought it.

There is only one thing you can do in this situation. You ask every friend and family member to go onsite PDQ and 5-star your baby. You get your frauds to balance off their frauds. Ce n’est pas magnifique, mais (grâce à Amazon) c’est la guerre.”

These are my questions:

1) Do you agree it is a reasonable practice for authors to persuade friends and family to post favorable reviews on Amazon? Do you agree with Mr Aaronovitch’s implication that Amazon’s policy forces authors to do this?

2)  A wayback archive search shows that in fact a number of poor reviews of Voodoo Histories were deleted by Amazon.  Did Mr Aaronovitch  contact Amazon to initiate these deletions?

3)  In fact, the poor reviews deleted were not, with a single exception, posted any earlier than similar quantities of five star reviews.  Why was it decided to delete several one star reviews and no five star reviews?  Who took this decision? Was it in any way motivated by Amazon’s own political sympathies? Was it motivated by a desire to boost sales?

4) Now Amazon has been informed by Mr Aaronovitch that the five star reviews were procured, will it be taking action to delete these early five star reviews, particularly those posted on the very day of publication?

5) Do you agree that Mr Aaronovitch’s boasting in the Times of his action in procuring false reviews for Voodoo Histories may, if Amazon will not decry it, encourage other authors to do the same?

I would point out to you that Mr Aaronvitch has himself put these matters into the public domain by publishing his actions in The Times.  It therefore makes no sense for Amazon to refuse to answer any of these questions on the grounds of Mr Aaronovitch’s privacy.

Craig Murray


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