this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr

for the main blog of poetry, whimsy and maybe beauty, now

Thursday, 30 April 2009

lynch-pin or lynch-mob?

Remember, it is Jewish Voice for Peace who has posted the information this post is drawing on, and the quotes further on come from their MuzzleWatch site. The events that went on at Durban II, and the general co-ordinated campaign to both stifle voices concerned with human rights issues, and the promotion of sensationalistic scaremongering stereotypes of Muslims and countries which are predominantly Muslim is frightening. If a reporter in Iraq was imprisoned by the western-backed judiciary system for throwing shoes at then President George Bush II, then shouldn't those who donned clown wigs and attempted to throw red noses (yes, it sounds ludicrous, and that is the point) at President Ahmadinejad also face some form of punishment? Different countries, I know, but again, if one is punished for speaking out against an inflicter of crimes against humanity, then shouldn't the principle be blanket, or at least the recognition of the actions of the leaders, and the consequences of those actions? Personally, I think neither of the protesters should be punished, except for a possible fine and removal, and revocation of accreditation (in the case of the group at Geneva), keeping within the United Nation's Durban policy rules (particularly as Palestinian groups were totally denied a voice) as initially (in the case of revocation) occurred. But, what was the real motivation of the clowns?

If I were American, and particularly if I were any minority group in America that was not Jewish, I would be angry, frustrated and scared that my voice was being taken away from me by actions such as from the group above and from the kinds of actions detailed in the quotes at the end of this paragraph. Likewise, in Australia, Tom Calma, who is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and acting Race Discrimination Commissioner, was criticised for going to the Durban anti-racism conference because it was claimed he would upset the local Jewish community, which is not necessarily true, as I have outlined in previous posts. Note, the paper that article is pulled from is a Murdoch rag, and it makes no mention at all of Calma's ethnicity,and why it might be very much within his role and interests to attend a conference that was all about dealing with racism.

From Muzzlewatch (my emphasis):
The head of an official NGO alliance at the UN told me groups have an agreement not to protest inside of the United Nations, and that if they do, it is standard practice to revoke the group’s accreditation. When the UN tried to do just that to the European Union of Jewish Students, which disrupted the conference at various moments, the chair boasted that one threat to send out a press statement made all the difference:

Another student group, the European Union of Jewish Students, had learned April 21 that its accreditation was pulled after some members had yelled insults at Ahmadinejad from the gallery.

But the EUJS, which also has formal, permanent accreditation to the United Nations, protested that the entire group shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a few. EUJS Chairman Jonas Karpantschof said he told U.N. officials he would issue a news release if the accreditation weren’t reinstated, and it soon was.

“It would have looked really bad,” he said, “for the U.N. to take away badges from Jewish students on Yom Hashoah at an anti-racism conference.”

Jordan himself feeds the dynamic in the same article, called “Malcolm X’s daughter: ‘Zionist agitators’ bothered at Durban II. The article comes complete with an angry looking photo of Malaak Shabazz, who complained about ““Zionist agitators” at one event who were ” juvenile, nasty and aggressive.” In fact, friends from Canada’s Independent Jewish Voices were in the room when the students were acting in threatening ways and stuck a camera right in Shabazz’s face. One can only assume that as Malcolm X’s daughter, an “angry black Muslim woman”, she was right out of central casting for a depiction of the scary, anti-Semitic, mean Durban Review delegates.

I went to an Israel rally where the audience was exhorted to yell, “I am a Zionist” half a dozen times. But Shabazz, who was literally right when she called these young students “Zionist agitators”, is now part of the massive anti-Jewish hate-fest because she used the phrase
From the JTA article which MuzzleWatch references is this quote from Shabazz. The first sentence is important.
"People confuse Zionism with Judaism, and that's completely unfortunate," she said.

“The Zionists here are making people hate Jews,” Shabazz said. “I was unfamiliar with the tactics of Zionists. But I got a crash course on it here.”
For some of those tactics, there are further posts here, here, here and here from MuzzleWatch.

When I review history, I think the era of McCarthyism was one of the scariest in the U.S. It's not too hard to imagine McCarthyism, or anything similar, devolving into a new Cultural Revolution. One of my Chinese students told me that his grandfather had to go to jail every day, and then return home, during the Cultural Revolution, and from my readings on the frequent humiliations and abuses of the time, he got off lightly. Australia had similar policies to McCarthyism when our then prime minister, Robert Menzies, tried to outlaw communism .

Democracy really is about freedom of speech. It seems to be promoted as one of its lynch-pins. Within the academic circles, at least, within the U.S., it seems few can voice a criticism of Israel without being branded anti-Semitic (commentary here), and it seems that the same climate exists at some institutions in Australia. Something I was very surprised about, especially considering what a small, though vibrant, Jewish population we have. In fact, our Muslim population is far larger. Desmond Tutu was not allowed to speak at a university in St. Cloud, Minnesota, due to pressure from lobby groups (and the woman who organised for him to speak was fired). And as stated before, he is now being branded as racist for his views on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Very worrying times.

Note: 1st May: Some interesting commentary on the endorsement of torture from some quarters.

Note: May 1st, from Counter Punch . The Cases of Margo Ramlal Nankoe, William Robinson, Nagesh Rao and Loretta Capeheart. The McCarthyism That Horowitz Built Dana L. Cloud, 30 April 2009.

No comments:

this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr