Ken Livingstone: Stubborn and Wrong, But Not Anti-Semitic 327


After careful consideration I have decided to venture into the question of Ken Livingstone and his suspension from the Labour Party.

To my knowledge, nobody has intimated that Ken Livingstone is an anti-Semite in the sense that he is a racist who acts with prejudice towards Jewish people. I do not think it even vaguely probable that he is that. I know him only slightly, and have shared a platform with him on a couple of occasions. But from everything I can find in his history, I believe he has been a genuine campaigning anti-racist his whole life.

There is however a perfectly open movement to define anti-Semitism not as prejudice against Jewish people, but as deviation from accepted political views on the formation of the state of Israel and its current position and policies. I do not accept this attempt to argue that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. I believe that the attempt to conflate the two needs to be resisted for the sake of maintaining our own political freedom of expression.

But that does not mean Ken Livingstone acted wisely or even properly. The disaster that attended European Jews in the second world war was so huge, that it needs to be approached with great sensitivity. Livingstone claims that certain Jewish Zionists had a pre-Holocaust deal with the Nazis. To me, that is very analogous to alleging that an acknowledged rape victim had some previous relationship with her abusive rapist. It has no possible relevance other than to be some kind of “she asked for it” point.

Livingstone’s point may or may not be true but, even if it is, we do not go around throwing out random facts out of context. Just because something is true does not make it helpful to say it at any given moment.

I quite genuinely have no idea whether the point Livingstone makes is historically true, and if so how fringe or not were the elements involved in the relationship. But it is not relevant. It would be surprising if there did not, in the very early stages of Nazi power, appear to a few fringe elements to be some room to explore common interests between those who wanted Jews to leave Germany, and those who wanted to establish a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. Everyone was trying to accommodate to the difficult fact of Nazi power. The British royal family and aristocracy, the Pope, Northcliffe and his Daily Mail, David Lloyd George, pretty well all of corporate Germany and, I even admit, a very few isolated Scottish nationalists, failed at some stages to realise or to respond correctly to the evil of Nazism and sought various ways to use Nazi Germany to forward their own interests. Some of these were very culpable. You can find attempts on that difficult spectrum from accommodation to collaboration in various forms everywhere, in almost every community.

I do not want to see the apartheid state of Israel continue in its current form, though as with apartheid South Africa I wish to see a solution to unifying Palestine that does not involve further forced movement of any population. But I do not in any sense accept a historically important link between Israel and the Nazis, except in the obvious sense that revulsion at the Holocaust created the conditions for international acceptance of the violent establishment of Israel. Picking at the oddities of history on such a sensitive subject is mischievous.

Freedom of speech has limits. There is no doubt that Holocaust denial is very closely linked de facto to Nazi apologism and to anti-Semitism. I say that with a clear acceptance than there were many other victims of the death camps too – Poles, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Communists, Freemasons etc. etc. But the fact there are other victims does not reduce the Jewish disaster and attempts to deny or minimise what happened to the Jewish people under the Nazis are not acceptable.

I therefore think that Livingstone was wrong to blunder into discussing Hitler’s alleged early support for Zionism, and much more wrong not to then realise this was a mistake and to apologise. I do not however believe that in any sense his motivation was personal anti-Semitism, and I do not believe that anybody believes he is genuinely somebody who dislikes Jewish people.

I am not a member of the Labour Party and it is not my fight. But it seems to me in consequence the suspension of Ken Livingstone for a further year is about the correct punishment. He was wrong-headed and distasteful, but not a racist. Nobody truly thinks he is a racist, so the light suspension was Labour’s way of reflecting this while not meeting head-on the question of the ludicrous expansion of the meaning of anti-Semitism.

As regular commenters know, holocaust denial is strictly banned on this blog and anti-Semitism has been by far the most common cause of comments being deleted. It is therefore very probable that your comments will get blocked for moderation by various keyword captures we have set up. Be patient.


327 thoughts on “Ken Livingstone: Stubborn and Wrong, But Not Anti-Semitic

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  • Soothmoother

    And the gist of this is, he may or may not be correct in what he said, but he shouldn’t have said it as he might upset some people. How can that be right?

  • Andy

    Sorry, you are wrong on this. Zionist myths have to be challenged. Livingston was guilty of being clumsy. But at no point did the media attempt to explain want happened, cite the historical record. The right winger in the Labour party and the press went into attack mode.

    • TA Bell

      As Jonathan Cook clarifies [see post above], the Labour Party star chamber tribunal ruled out any consideration of the historical validity of Ken’s statement from the outset. Verdict first, judgement later.

  • giyane

    I have mentioned the fact before that Martin Luther was extremely anti-Semitic for theological reasons:
    Wikipedia :
    ” Martin Luther (1483–1546), a German Reformation leader, had a significant influence on German antisemitism by his virulent anti-Jewish statements and writings. ”
    Martin Luther effectively wrecked the most evil tyranny of Popism, as practised against the people throughout the middle ages, just as political Islam is practised today against ordinary Muslims.

    My point is simple. When a religiously based regime exceeds all bounds of human decency, and is supported by the wealthiest political entities on earth the invective used against does not always originate in the religion itself, but in the support and uses which secular political powers derive from collaborating with it. I object to my UK government allowing itself to be infiltrated by any vested religious interest, whether it be under the slogan of Christianity, Judaism or Islam. We did not ask for this. We object absolutely to this.

    The UK government exercises considerable leverage against us, fiscally, legally, through intelligence and through the media. I can’t tell the government what I think of it to its face, so I insult, possible excessively, the creed with which it collaborates. I don’t mind political Islam fighting for its rights, but I absolutely detest my government backing a fragile terrorist organisation while pretending to maintain high standards of international law. Utter hypocrisy, which undermines the whole basis of social cohesion. I’m bound by the law not to fight against terrorism , but my government uses my name and my taxes to fund and support terrorists.

    This is like holding my hands behind my back while others punch me in the body and face.

    The use of the argument of anti-Semitism and penalising David Livingstone for his indiscreet or inappropriate opinions, is like the police chaining me to some railings and tazering me while people hold me down and punch me in the body and face. I am being forced to hold my tongue while the rights of my fellow Muslims are denied and any respectable person with a conscience will continue to criticise the actions of Israel against the Palestinians in spite of this unacceptable pressure from the UK government to submit to their disgusting, one-sided and hypocritical backing of Israeli apartheid.

    David Livingstone is in the right. The UK government is in the wrong for criminalising opposition to its policy.
    Nuff said.

  • Chris

    Ken Livingstone’s attackers are, not to put too fine a point on it, evil scumbags. They are morally corrupt and dishonest to a staggering degree.

    And no, since some tosser’s bound to say it, I’m not talking about Jews or even zionists.

  • Andy

    Excellent comment here…..

    ”It is remarkable, after all the spurious indignation and outrage, not least John Mann’scameo performance for the cameras last year, when he accused Ken Livingstone of being a Hitler apologist, that Ken Livingstone’s remark that Hitler was a supporter of Zionism was not the subject of his disciplinary hearing last week. Instead the offence he was charged with was that he supported Naz Shah when she jokily suggested that the best solution for Israel’s war mongering was to transfer Israel to the territory of its benefactor, the United States.”

    https://medium.com/@TonyGreenstein/ken-livingstone-faces-labours-star-chamber-as-the-witch-hunters-change-the-charge-9edc607c8439

  • John Thatcher

    What is wrong and distasteful about pointing out the truth about zionism.You acknowledge that zionist are trying to conflate anti zionism with anti semitism.In the light of that Livingston was quite correct to point out the dubious history as well as the dubious present of zionism.

    • TA Bell

      Quite right. The whole trick of the attack against Livingstone, which Craig Murray has shockingly fallen for, is that he has upset feelings. If the truth upsets feelings, so be it. Defending the right to speak when the Zionists and their legion of establishment supporters are trying to shout someone down is far more important.

  • James Clossick

    A really excellent summation of the real truths here, Craig. I’ll be borrowing your words when discussing this soon.

    • TA Bell

      Dont understand what so impresses you. Craig Murray pretty much said, in a more reasonable manner, what every philistine is saying.

    • Habbabkuk

      James Clossik

      Hear, hear! Craig’s piece is excellent. I am sad – but not at all surprised – to note that it has upset the usual suspects and a few new ones. The anti-Semites (of various political persuasions) are slowly recovering from the shock and disappointment Craig’s post caused them and are starting to come out of the woodwork.

      I wonder if Craig’s disappointed as well?

      • Flaminius

        It is restrained to call views such as yours philistine. Opposition to Zionism and speaking truths uncomfortable to established opinion has now become ‘anti-Semitic’. O tempora, O mores!’

  • Sharp Ears

    Remember all that there were proposals to change the law. I don’t know the current position so be careful. Pickles and co are keeping watch.

    UK adopts antisemitism definition to combat hate crime against …..
    Britain among first countries to use new definition that includes over-sweeping condemnation of Israel
    https://tinyurl.com/jpdocvb

  • Has barra barra

    The rape analogy is flawed because it obscures the important difference between Jews who died in the holocaust, and Zionist elites who did not. The fringe elements to which you allude include Shamir and Ben-Gurion. Zionist leaders placed a higher priority on settler colonialism in Palestine than on protecting Jews from genocide. Ben-Gurion viewed international refugee acceptance as a danger to Zionism. Trujillo alone would have saved 100 thousand.

    Extra credit, Who said it: “If I knew that it was possible to save all the children in Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would choose the second…”

  • Keith Thomson

    I usually like what you write Craig, but this time you’ve got it all wrong!
    “I quite genuinely have no idea whether the point Livingstone makes is historically true” ..is it too much to ask you to do a little historical research before writing such an article..
    Then you come out with.. “Freedom of speech has limits” .. and then immediately come out with rubbish about “holocaust denial” and anti-semetism. You haven’t even understood the absurdity of the label “holocaust denial” and then link this to anti-semetism. I would be very grateful for you, in your next article to define the term “holocaust denial”. I’m not sure why you are even discussing this term in relation to Ken Livingston. And if you do want to say something on the topic, the more appropriate term is “historical revisionism”, which simply wants to review and be able to debate history to determine what is actually is true. There is nothing anti-semite about seeking the truth. But I see.. you believe that freedom of speech has limits.. so much for Voltaire.

    • Shatnersrug

      I agree Keith, I’m not even sure why Craig would want to get involved in this stinker anyway. It’s the labour right trying to smear the labour left – this twaddle is as old as the Labour Party. If it was ‘anti-semitiam’ they’d be accusing him of ‘bro-cialism’. What the labour right wish to do is smear the left as hypocrites and extremists, to break down their support within the party membership.

  • Buttweh

    The hasbarists’ obsession with the transfer agreement is a red herring. The transfer agreement was one more feckless Zionist attempt to push Jews where they did not want to go, a desert waste menaced by advancing Nazi forces. But Zionist elites’ intent was absolutely consistent: drive Jews to Palestine regardless of what they wanted. LEHI, the rebranded NMO, offered to ally with Germany in 1941 (but the Nazis didn’t need the Yishuv’s useless one-horse army.) In 1947 Yishuv relief agencies hid refugees from UNSCOP if they didn’t want to go to Palestine. Among the many victims of Zionist settler colonialism were the Jews who were sacrificed for Jewry’s sake to overwhelm the indigenous peoples of Palestine.

  • fedup

    “Livingstone’s point may or may not be true but, even if it is, we do not go around throwing out random facts out of context. Just because something is true does not make it helpful to say it at any given moment. ”

    Says it all, facts don’t come into dogma! Be careful don’t get a locked back genuflecting so far.

    • Hmmm

      I think that was the bit Craig got right. It’s like arguing with the missus; if you keep pointing out the facts you’ll only create more trouble for yourself…

      • Ba'al Zevul

        I am, conversely, wondering if the constant rehearsal of Xxxish grievances at the top of the lobby’s voice, across all media everywhere, might not induce apathy at best and hostility at worst. And if the latter, if it is not designed to create a sense of fear and isolation among UK Xxxs, and greater sympathy with a foreign country’s questionable activities…there are several ways to read this.

        Another comment of mine is, unbowdlerised, in moderation.

        • Shatnersrug

          Ba’al,

          Sadly I can see that this is exactly where we’re heading. Dark times.

  • Jamie

    I don’t have any particular liking for Ken Livingstone but the Nick Ferrari show this morning on LBC (a station Mr. Livingstone worked at until this affair) had the topic introduced by Nick who then I nvited the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, A Jewish MP and a Jewish Lady whose occupation I have forgotten to speak one after the other about how Ken was anti Semitic before going to callers for their opinions. Not exactly balanced. It has however made me want to read up on the topic to better understand it so for that I should be grateful.

    • RobG

      LBC radio are now owned by an outfit called ‘Global Radio’. This is a neo-con propaganda company that originated in Canada.

      The presenters on LBC are utter vermin, propagandists who take a buck to lie to and deceive the public.

      James O’whatisname is one of the worst, because he purports to be liberal.

      This dickhead even presents BBC’s Newsnight programme.

      James O’whatshisname recently told his listeners on LBC that his “journalist mates risk their lives by going to places like Syria to report on what’s going on.”

      Complete scum is not the word for people like James O’whatshisname.

      A year ago, while doing yet another demolition job on Corbyn, this piece of filth told listeners that he “has to put shoes on his children’s feet”; ie, take the corporate buck and lie to the public.

      But James O’whatshisname puts on a tie and a suit and is presented by the BBC (all on license payer’s money).

      So it must be alright, innit.

    • Habbabkuk

      RobG

      Page 2 indeed. It’s the new page 3, I sometimes think.

      But to business: your impolite and uncooperative reluctance to answer the innocent question “how long did you have to wait to get your permanent French social security number” is beginning to lake me wonder if you have any sort of French security number, whether temporary or permanent.

      You do understand that if you live and work in France you need one, don’t you?

      • RobG

        Habba, some of us have a life, and I believe this is still page two.

        Perhaps instead of banging on about social security numbers you could instead comment on the demotion of Steve Bannon.

        • bevin

          One of the best guides to understanding this matter and checking the background to Ken Livingstone’s truthful remarks is Tony Greenstein’s blog.
          He sees the fact that the zionists failed in their attempt to expel him as a victory. I orge everyone interested in learning more about this matter, which seems to have confused so many otherwise honest people, to visit Tony Greenstein’s blog at
          http://azvsas.blogspot.ca/

    • lysias

      I fear that the demotion of Bannon is connected with the Trump administration’s volte face today on Syria, days after saying it would have to accept the continuation of Assad’s rule, now it suddenly takes seriously — or pretends to take seriously — a charge that Assad’s government was responsible for the poison gas attack, a couple of years after it became apparent that a similar charge was false. I would hazard the guess that Bannon objected to this volte face.

      • michael norton

        What is Trump
        trying to achieve?
        Is he trying to wrong-foot the war-mongers, by seeming simple, so they thin k they have
        The Scottish Donald by his gulags?

      • RobG

        lysias, Bannon was a key player in the Trump phenomenon (some say the power behind the throne). Bannon’s demotion is very significant.

        It’s really just two crime families fighting for control of a business, but what these complete lunatics do could make the difference between whether we are all alive or dead tomorrow.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Agree with the broad sweep of Craig’s post, and this rather proves its justice:

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/788076/Ken-Livingstone-Lord-Levy-Jeremy-Corbyn-Hitler-anti-Semitic-Labour-quit

    I apologise immediately for citing the Express, but Jewish News have pulled the story sometime in the last few hours. If anything says coercion of a democratic body, it is this. I would virtually guarantee there are more antisemites, in the very loose sense we are now being told to accept, on the Tory benches than there are on the Labour side, and the Tories’ fairy godmother, Lord Ashcroft, is also Jewish: this is a wholly manufactured issue, and promoted actively by the Blairites.

    I’m glad that even the kangaroo court declined to give the self-righteous-Jew* lobby what it was arrogantly demanding, Livingstone’s expulsion. The lobby will remain furious, and disproportionately vocal, and do we care? Not as long as Mel Phillips can continue to insult Muslims on a generic basis in our national media, or as long as Israel’s UK apologists insist, in the face of all evidence, that it treats all its citizens equally and without prejudice, we don’t.

    That said, Ken really needs to make his assertions a lot more specific. His offence is against historical accuracy, if anything. But I recognise the impossibility of providing citations and footnotes to remarks designed to be published, so that’s rather a big ask.

    Too big for serial liar Mark Regev, too:

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170329-fact-checking-israeli-ambassador-mark-regev/

    *As opposed to ‘self-hating…’. See what I did there?

    • bevin

      ” …Ken really needs to make his assertions a lot more specific. His offence is against historical accuracy, if anything. But I recognise the impossibility of providing citations and footnotes to remarks designed to be published, so that’s rather a big ask…”
      There are several here:
      http://azvsas.blogspot.ca/

      • Ba'al Zevul

        I am not saying there is not (partial) support for his views. I am saying, from experience of both sides, that the press is not interested in conditional clauses and qualification. The headline is what it wants, and it will adjust what it is told accordingly. Even assuming, unsafely, that it understands what it has been told. The pre-Murdoch broadsheets did things differently, but those days are long gone.

  • Lady Porter

    Reading between the lines of habbas posts it will be David Milliband then !! The issue is not really havaara or hasbara, its simply the poor mancunian labourites, their meat pies have been spiked with Dead Sea salt !!

  • fwl

    Craig’s post makes sense though I don’t necessarily agree with a further suspension. I agree context is crucial, but I don’t understand what Ken’s context was. I have from time to time encountered surprising de facto open hostility by some intellectuals to Israelis without knowing anything about them. As if they learn where they are from and it’s as if its the 1970s and hearing Afrikaans. Unfair and as prejudiced ad they presuppose the other to be. To some extent the strength of those intellectuals has weakened and universities like the FO have swung to the other side, although perhaps not so far. I am not sure about this, but clearly there had been some movement to assist Israeli sensibilities and strength within society. Although I appreciate some British, or European Jews may feel less confidant and feel a need to keep guard. That is okay and understandable so long as tolerance and free speech tend to generally prevail.. There is reason to see us sleep walking into a techno security state with increasing degrees of lost privacy for the individual, a nervousness about what can and can’t be said and yet privacy for the elite.

    Habbs Why do you think Ken said what he said? If as you say you agree with Craig re Ken not being racist why do you say he should remain suspended. Surely Corbyn and Co renewed the suspension for PR, convenience and to avoid further flak.

  • Republicofscotland

    I too like Baal apologise profusely for citing the Express newspaper, but it was just too tempting to pass up.

    “MEPs have overwhelmingly rejected any amendments protecting Gibraltar’s sovereignty in their Brexit negotiations and have maintained their stance on discussions with Britain.”

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/788378/Brussels-rejects-Brexit-amendments-protecting-Gibraltar

    It’s a delicious twist that will have the Gibraltar whingers spitting out their prosecco, isn’t that right Habb. ?

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Au contraire (o al contrario), I think that should invigorate Brexit very nicely. Spread the news around a bit, eh?

    • Andy

      The JLM still can’t say what Livingston has done. Only he has, without evidence, ”emboldened the far right and Holocaust deniers ”!

      The JLM say ”Ken Livingstone has wilfully misconstrued history to suit his agenda ”

      What’s Livingston’s agenda? What history has he misconstrued?

      ”and to cause maximum offense and upset to the UK Jewish community”

      Who elected the JLM to speak for the UK Jewish community?

    • Je

      Its remarkable how the near-genocide of Invading Iraq didn’t bring “the Party into disrepute”. Wasn’t George Galloway the only MP who got expelled – and that was for speaking out against it? How many of those 100 voted for the disaster that is the middle east today? Without a shred of conscience. .

      • Loony

        …and there you have it. You have summed up the vile and repulsive hypocrisy perfectly.

        If the Labour Party were a dog someone would take it outside and shoot it.

      • giyane

        Oh yes the Blair/Brown genocide. What about the Cameron/Hague genocide in Libya and Syria? No disrepute for rewarding CIA terrorists with a Caliphate and the richest country in Africa? So long as violent, ruthless militants overrun the populations and lands of innocent people for USUKIS, USUKIS will reward them with power. Al Qaida now runs Libya and half of Syria. Taliban runs Afghanistan.
        Iran runs Baghdad.

        It’s hard to see how anything Ken Livingstone has said comes close to the appalling actions of the Zionist neo-cons of Tory, Liberal and Labour parties. The sheer accumulation of vomit amassed by our political parliamentary leaders in 25 years, all of which will have to be eaten by our children, makes them ill fit to pass judgement on the upheavals of the 20th century.

        Jail Blair, Brown, Cameron, Hague, May and Johnson with full life sentences before opening an academic debate about the inner workings of Herr Hitler.

  • Republicofscotland

    Lord Mandelson says that Britain should cough up the £52 billion divorce bill, Mandeson claims it’s small change. Small change! Britain is a debt ridden liability and he calls £52 billion small change.

    Mandelson also added that Britain is one of those countries, that doesn’t pay its bills, well it’s in good company neither does Israel, the USA foots theirs.

    Mandy, also said that Theresa May should stand up to the wild men in the Tory party, where to begin I say. ?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-pay-eu-brexit-bill-peter-mandelson-bite-bullet-small-change-a7668521.html

    • michael norton

      Blimey the Jocks could only dream of getting their sweaty mits on fifty billion, they could start by paying the debts of Police Scotland.

      • giyane

        If the Jocks had their own currency they could easily print 50 billion and more. As it is, being linked to the currency of the neo-con pound, the neo-con Euro or the neo-con dollar means independence in name only. Get a currency liked to the Renminbi and the neo-cons will be hopping like sand-hoppers on dry sea-weed.

    • Loony

      Who cares what Mandelson says – just another neo-con war criminal slipping and sliding down the hill on the blood of the people he has killed.

      Who cares what the EU says – just pay them anything they ask for. Problem solved.Next step call in Volkswagen for a meeting about their criminal falsification of emissions data and just fine them $ for $ everything that has been paid to the EU. Anyone complains just smear them as global warming deniers and tell everyone that the future of the planet depends on forcing people like VW to stop lying and to obey the law.

  • Matt

    Everyone skirts round this issue because of the vice like grip zionists have on British politics, media and public opinion, stick your head above the parapet if you dare!

  • Jane

    There is a good, scholarly book by Francis R Nicosia called “The Third Reich and the Question of Palestine.”

  • fwl

    Interesting piece in current London Review of Books by Henry Siegman The Ultimate Deal, which considers what Netanyahu said at Feb press conference with Trump, namely pre-conditions for peace are 1 Palestinian recognition of Jewish state and 2 Israel to control overriding security control over entire area west of Jordan River. Siegman says Palestinians have three times given this acknowledgement and in so doing they have recognised Israel’s right to 50% of the West Bank and that in essence the demand is that Palestinians are free to call themselves a state provided that they are confined to Enclaves amounting to 10% “of Palestine (presumably he means 10% of 1947 borders) and under the control of the IDF.

    Habbs, tell me whether Siegman is reporting accurately or not.

  • Republicofscotland

    Staying with that shit rag the Express for a moment. A thousand apologies.

    A Spanish MEP claims that isolationist imperial no mate Britain, will have even less friends after the other 27 EU countries decide to stick closely together.

    The Spanish have received strong support from Brussels chiefs after it was discovered they would have a veto over Gibraltar’s future relationship within the bloc.

    Ding! ding! Round one and Spain lands a blow right on the chops of the bungling Brexiteers. ?

    Cue the whataboutery crowd over Cueta and Melilla.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/788335/Brexit-European-Union-Spanish-MEP-sets-out-post-Article-50-UK-future

    • Loony

      Ah yes Spain – a country attempting to play tennis with a pool cue, so much to worry about there.

      Perhaps Spain would be better advised to focus on its separatist movements in Pais Vasco and Catalonia. If Scottish nationalists achieve their dream then they will likely deliver a hammer blow to the territorial integrity of Spain.

      There must be someone in Spain able to count and able to understand how much money flows into Spain via tourism – a lot of it from the UK. Look at the caliber of people that the UK produces – just a simple redirection from drunken debauchery on the costa’s to thousands of principled opponents of bull fighting. Ole!! Ole!!

  • mike

    Neocon media in full anti-Russia mode. They won’t give up on regime change. They double down, over and over again.

    You lost, guys. Syria won’t fall. Accept it, now fuck off back under your rock.

    • lysias

      Anybody who believes Assad and Russia were the ones attacking with poison gas must have amnesia, after the false flag alleged sarin attack in 2013.

    • michael norton

      Palmyra is the hub
      http://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/60316

      This piece is out of date by a couple of years but still quite relevant.

      The Importance of Palmyra

      The self-proclaimed Islamic State has had its eye on the regime’s gas resources since at least July 2014, when it overran some of Jabal Shaer, part of an area containing massive gas fields said to produce 3 million cubic meters (106 million cubic feet) of raw natural gas (also known as crude gas) per day. This is compared to an estimated total national daily output of some 14.8 million cubic meters in 2014 according to Syria’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

      Lying roughly 150 kilometers (93 miles) northwest of Palmyra, Shaer supplies the Ebla processing plant at Furqlus to the west, which provides commercial gas (also referred to as dry gas or treated gas) or methane to electricity-generating stations that feed into the national grid. Regime forces retained control of the actual gas fields in Shaer in July 2014, but the Islamic State seized four wells in a new attack in late October. Assad’s Syrian Arab Army once again retook the area, though the Shaer gathering station was severely damaged and most wells were shut down. A reduced supply resumed from nearby Chinese-owned wells nearby to the Hayan treatment plant and processing facility, which commenced activity in 2009 and which serves as a major LPG, oil, and condensate reserve distribution center to power plants in several parts of the country.

      Faced with dense regime defenses around Shaer, the Islamic State shifted its focus to Palmyra, which has been the site of the most development in Syria’s gas sector since the mid-1990s. Fields in the area were expected to eventually produce 9 million cubic meters of crude gas per day. These included the Arak, Dubayat, Hail, Hayan, Jihar, al-Mahr, Najib, Sukhneh, and Abi Rabah fields, which according to a former industry insider have collectively been producing half of Syria’s output of natural raw and liquid petroleum gas. Palmyra is also the transit point for pipelines carrying gas from important fields in Hasakah and Deir Ezzor provinces in northeastern and eastern Syria respectively.

      In short, Palmyra is the hub between the extraction or transfer of virtually all of Syria’s gas production and the processing and power plants further west that supply electricity and gas for domestic and industrial use to those parts of the country where most of the population lives.

      • Republicofscotland

        Long winded run of the mill Norton guff, I’d be better off reading Marcel Prost’s, A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu.

        It would also be quicker, and more interesting. ?

        • bevin

          You certainly would be better off reading Proust than either following this blog or posting on it. So would we all if you were to do so. Michael ought to be very happy to be mentioned in the same sentence as one of the greatest writers of prose in any language.

  • Oops

    Close shave for Livingstone! At least he didn’t blurt out that really unacceptable, unmentionable factual blood libel: that US foreign aid to the Israeli pariah state is illegal under 22 USC §2799aa-1, an open-and-shut case on the merits now proceeding in DC cicuit case 1:16-cv-01610. Poor sod would get airbrushed out of the photographs forever.

    http://irmep.org/CFP/S&G/116-cv-01610lo_r2.pdf

    So, apartheid outcasts. Enjoy your kafferskiet piekniek while you can.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Many thanks for that. Here’s a taste of what it’s about:

      The Defendants, acting in concert, through an easily visible chain of causation, have implemented a legislative rule that not only gags and punishes government employees and contractors who dare mention Israel’s nuclear weapons program, but also injures parties outside government conducting public interest research such as the Plaintiff. This legislative rule has but one purpose: enable unlawful
      US foreign aid deliveries to Israel, which otherwise would not stand if injured parties, such as the Plaintiff,were able to continue to expose the government’s own deep longstanding knowledge of Israel’s nuclear weapons program and how failure to act violates the Arms Export Control Act….

      Case 1:16-cv-01610-TSC Document 25 Filed 01/18/17
      http://www.irmep.org/cfp/S&G/01182017_opposition.pdf

  • Suleiman Sharkh

    Dear Mr Murray,

    I am a Palestinian. I was born and grew up in Gaza but my parents were from Almajdal, Majdal Askalan, which is now called Ashkelon by Israel. They were bombed and expelled by the Israeli army from their homes in November 1948, 6 months after the so called ‘declaration of independence of the state of Israel’. Other families were expelled as late as the early 1950s. Many were killed and most ended up living in squalid refugee camps.

    For me, and for Palestinians the Nakba, the catastrophe does not need to be compared with the Holocaust, nor does the State of Israel and the Zionist movement need to be compared with the Nazis to convey the level of horror that befell us. The Nakba and Palestinian suffering do not need a reference. They are indeed the reference to which disasters are compared in Palestine and the Middle East. In that sense, I don’t see the linkage between Zionism and the Nazis, whether real of metaphorical, including Ken’s remarks, to be necessary or helpful.

    But as I understand it, the Avara agreement referenced by Ken Levingston is a historical document, a real one. The Zionist movement’s aim to encourage Jews to leave Europe and immigrate to Israel are well known. Recently, both the prime minister and the foreign minister urged French jews to immigrate to Israel saying that France was not their home or they don’t belong in France or something to the effect, which would have been labelled as anti-Semitic if it was said by someone else.

    There has been a systematic and sustained attack on the left wing of the Labour Party, by the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement, primarily against Corbyn who is a well known supporter of Palestine. Anti-semitism was used to undermine the left, and I am sure you are aware of the Aljazeera’s investigation into the Lobby. The Israeli embassy’s meddling in British politics was laid bare, but it was brushed aside by the Government and the media. Had it been the Russian Embassy or any other country meddling in British Affairs we would have had a huge political and media storm.

    Anti-semitism is regularly used to silence any criticism of the state of Israel. It is a threat to freedom of speech and democracy, and to academic freedom. Talks and conference and events that criticise Israel have been cancelled by Universities as a result of pressure from pro-israel organisations, which try to equate criticism of Israel to anti-semitism – I believe one of your talks was under threat of cancellation. The UK Government recently adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHAR) definition of Anti-semitism, and Universities were instructed by Joe Johnson to do the same. This was discredited recently by Hugh Tomlinson’s (QC) report on the matter, which argued that Universities may be breaking the law by banning speakers, namely article 10 and the higher education act. I am one of the organisers of the cancelled University of Southampton Conference on International Law and the State of Israel. We had to move the conference to Cork, Ireland, where it was held last weekend, as a result of overt pressure by the Zionist lobby, including government ministers. The conference was a success, and while it strongly criticised Israel, with the strongest criticism expressed by Jewish speakers, there were no expressions of anti-semitism, not to mention that there were no protest or any threats to health and safety as claimed by Southampton.

    Accordingly, I support Ken’s position and I deplore his suspension. He is responding to the sustained onslaught on the Labour Party by the JLM and others who tried to manufacture an anti-Semitism crisis as a means of achieving political goals. While one could criticise Ken for lashing out as I did earlier, the main criticism should be levelled at his opponents.

    Yours sincerely

    Suleiman

    • RobG

      Very well said, Suleiman.

      It’s a shame that it will probably get buried under an avalanche of troll posts.

      They (USA/Israel) can only exist on a mountain of lies and deceit.

    • John Spencer-Davis

      That is a cracking posting and I am sorry to hear of what befell your parents and therefore yourself.

      Your story and your voice are a perfect illustration of what this whole rigmarole is about. Yours is the kind of testimony that has to be silenced.

      I wish you well.

      J

    • Beth

      Dear Suleiman,
      This is an excellent and informative comment. I wish you all the best. It does no-one (including Israel)any good if everyone has to tiptoe around pretending that Israel is a special kind of state that can do no wrong because of historical events. It’s almost like a person trying not to antagonize a partner they are afraid of.

    • Habbabkuk

      I can’t help wondering whether this letter and its purported writer are genuine. I don’t rule out that they may be but I am surprised to see that the usual questioning and cynical commenters take them at face value without a second thought.

      Well, actually, I’m not surprised at all 🙂

      • Lady Porter

        The Rev 2:9 mob is still with us 2,000 years on. The real hebrews are sharkh and co, converted muzzys who have the “lazarus” gene, both melikowsky and even finkelstein have refused the challenge of the good professor to take a DNA test. It would prove the Rev 2:9.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        Shooting the messenger again, Habb? Personally, I’m not too concerned whether the commenter is, as you put it, ‘genuine’. His account is all too tragically typical of Palestinian experience, as can be confirmed daily, and I see no reason to doubt that the commenter is Professor Suleiman Sharkh, of Southampton University (you can easily confirm this with the aid of Uncle Google, and I guess Mary did). There is nothing to indicate that it is anyone else.
        Here’s the back story, in case you missed it:

        https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/mar/15/academics-take-southampton-university-court-over-israel-conference

        You will see that Prof. Sharkh was joined in his attempt to hold a conference questioning Israel’s policies, by a colleague, Prof Oren Ben-Dor, who was born in Israel, but is similarly vigorously opposed to its imposition of apartheid.

        If Prof. Sharkh is reading this, it may be necessary to explain that the strongly pro-Israel and closet Zionist ‘Habbabkuk’ makes a habit of questioning the identity of commentators here, while supplying no information whatever as to his own. Many of us suspect he is paid for his services.

      • Sharp Ears

        @ 8.27 today
        How vile. Were you not moved by the Professor’s account of his family history and his emergence into UK academia from under the heel of the boot of the Occupier? That took some doing I can assure you – guts, perseverance, steadfastness (sumud) and application,

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Bump. Required reading for all. Thanks, Suleiman. Can you give further details on the nature and extent of government ministerial involvement in the Southampton ban?

    • Sharp Ears

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful and erudite contribution Professer Shaikh.

      We can only weep for your family, your Palestinian brothers and sisters and the little ones living under a cruel Occupation.

      • Sharp Ears

        Beg pardon for misspelling your title and your name, Professor Sharkh and wishing you well in your endeavours.

        Professor Suleiman M Sharkh BEng, PhD, CEng, MIEE
        Professor of Power Electronics Machines and Drives, Head of Electro-Mechanical Engineering research group

    • David Halpin FRCS

      I agree, Suleiman’s analysis is excellent and his tragic family history should speak to all true humans. Thank you. Truth becomes ever rarer viz the ‘Security Council’ and its certainty about the agent and the perpetrator in Idlib. They want the entrails of Syria. **
      We see Ken, a decent man crucified by Zionists for speaking the truth in an incidental remark. We agree, the intention is to destroy the Labour Party lead by another decent human.
      The truth – Ralph Schoenmann, who witnessed Sabra and Shatila with his partner, wrote ‘The Hidden History of Zionism’. Apart from being very revealing, it is concise and well written. This is the chapter relevant to those who would traduce Ken Livingstone

      http://www.marxists.de/middleast/schoenman/ch06.htm

      All of the small book is on line.

      ** Alistair Burt – a civilised MP? http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/2-articles/correspondence-with-politicians/158-letter-to-standards-and-privileges-committee-of-the-house-of-commons Distinct from Livingstone

  • John Spencer-Davis

    The trouble with Craig’s observation is that the Labour Party and the establishment generally is crammed with people who couldn’t care less whether Ken Livingstone’s punishment is an appropriate one or not. It’s an opportunity to attack Corbyn for his alleged tolerance of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and an opportunity to associate principled critics of the Israeli state with anti-Semitism and as a consequence the auction is never going to stop. Corbyn’s wasting his time trying to be conciliatory. He could hang Livingstone with his own hands and it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the MPs and commentators who want rid of him. I won’t pretend I know what Corbyn should do, but chucking Livingstone to the wolves will only increase their appetite. J

    • Ba'al Zevul

      I’m afraid what Corbyn ought to do is not what Corbyn is prepared to do, which is to strongly attack, with evidence – plenty of which exists – the notion that any minority religious group should exercise disproportionate influence over a democratic party. Two justifications for this:
      1. Corbyn’s currently unable effectively to oppose the government because the craven wing of the PLP actually supports the government. It’s getting near crunch time, and Corbyn needs an initiative. Politically, it’s risky, but what has Corbyn to lose? His Xrael-backing funders?
      They’re peeling off anyway: keeping their money for the next trimming ‘centrist’ to come along. Wes “jumped-up turd” Streeting, maybe. Corbyn needs to expose them as well: Sainsbury, and dual-allegiance ‘Lord’ Levy in particular. Corbyn’s initial popularity on the street was driven by the perception that he was actually going to oppose the rotten system: he should gather what support he can, harness his own considerable news value, and start hitting.
      2. If you pay the Danegeld, you don’t get rid of the Dane. The Xrael lobby (for that is what the JLM is, also BICOM and other initials), finds bullying successful in promoting its agenda. The cure for a bully is a bloody nose, not handing over your lunch money.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        For “I’m afraid what Corbyn ought to do is not what Corbyn is prepared to do, which is to strongly attack…”
        please read:
        “I’m afraid what Corbyn ought to do is not what Corbyn is prepared to do. What IMO he ought to do is strongly to attack…”

        Engage brain before operating keyboard…

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