Friday, 23 March 2018

Conspiracy theories, art and antisemitism

Few doubt that Salvador Dali was an artistic genius, creative and profound in some ways but as Orwell said:
"One ought to be able to hold in one's head simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being. "
So it's perfectly possible to be a genius at the arts and be a rather nasty thinker in other areas.

The anitsemites Richard Wagner, Ezra Pound and TS Elliott come to mind in that regard, not forgetting the American artist Kalen Ockerman (AKA Mearone) either.

Ockerman's work gained approval from odd quarters, even Jeremy Corbyn defended his antisemitic mural in East London, until it was removed. It is not a new issue and was highlighted in 2015.


However, it is unlikely that Jeremy Corbyn realised how Kalen Ockerman was a fan of David Icke.

That he was a Chemtrails crank too.
That Ockerman had "questions" about 9/11?
How he rants on about the Illuminati?

Or Ockerman's interview with conspiracy racist Alex Jones.



Still, what are the chances that a believer in conspiracy theories would subconsciously draw a piece of antisemitic art?

No need the speculation there. We already know, it's fairly high.

As Dr. Dave Rich argued conspiracy theories and antisemitism are frequently intertwined.

Ockerman's work is, but one example.

In all fairness, Jeremy Corbyn could counter with ignorance of the topic, and frankly in his case it is a profoundly strong defence! Nevertheless, Corbyn might do well to recall that not every antisemitic idea emanates from Charles Lindbergh or Henry Ford type figure.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Owen Jones, Wandsworth Young Labour and conspiracy cranks

Disappointed

I have to say as a socialist and a long-term trade unionist I am exceedingly disappointed with parts of the Labour Party.

There is nothing more than I really want to see than the end of Tory governments. Every one of them.



Memory

I remember Thatcherism all too well.

I recall a post-war society which was struggling towards decent provisions for the working classes to be swept away by decades of greed, avarice and an overarching narcissistic attitude.

I remember with great sadness how the Miners were defeated. 

I recall the lies and promises of privatisation pushed through by the Thatcher and Major governments.

I remember numerous Tories and Virginia Bottomley saying how the NHS “had far too many beds” and needed cuts.

I recall a time when sleeping on the street was an aberration and not a daily sight.

I remember a time when overt racism was rampant in Britain and successive Labour governments changed society with the Race Relations Acts.

But moreover, I remember a time when the ideas of the Hard, Far and Extreme Right were largely confined to the grubbiest meeting rooms over the nastiest of Pubs.

I recall when absurd conspiracy beliefs were confined to National Fronters, the Monday Club and the neo-Nazi fringe.

I remember a time when the Left and, in particular, Labour Party people knew about the intrinsic link between conspiracy theories and racism.

I recall a time when the Left and Labour members physically opposed the ideas of the Far and Extreme Right, with post-war memories still lingering in the air.

I remember when the Left and Labour people were very careful, how they knew to avoid the friends, the promoters and allies of incorrigible racists.

I recall all that without the aid of Google. But with a Google search it means we can look up anyone in the world.

We could, for example, study the arch conspiracy crank Alex Jones and we would notice his proximity to racism, his awful lies about the Sandy Hook massacre, his support for Donald Trump and influence on the political Right.

Then we could ask why someone who promoted Alex Jones in Britain is, apparently, going to be speaking on a Labour platform shortly.



Let that sink in for a moment.

From being at the forefront of antiracism Labour and the Left is now hosting someone who openly promoted the nasty Alex Jones.

I am deeply saddened that Owen Jones and Dr Rosena Allin-Khan will be sharing a platform with one of Alex Jones' would-be friends.



Conspiracy Theories

Dr. Dave Rich discusses conspiracy theories and their role in terms of allowing racism to flourish.

I detailed the conspiracy crank’s Twitter views here:

Bilderberg, the racist Alex Jones and a member of the Labour Party

Southern Poverty Law Center's profile of Alex Jones

Excuses

And these excuses don't cut it:

"Honest gov'nor, how was I to know Alex Jones was a racist when I invited him into my taxi and promoted him? "

"It's not like I could have looked him up on Google, is it?"

A duty to tackle racism

Again, Labour and the Left, if they are serious about antiracism must not collude with conspiracy oddballs or their advocates.

Racism thrives in the dark reaches of conspiracy theories and allows extreme racist views to enter the mainstream. It is the duty of the Left and decent Labour people to vigorously opposed these vile ideas by their actions, not just words, as happened in the past.

Yad Vashem: Conspiracy Theories and Antisemitism



Yad Vashem on YouTube.

Dr. Dave Rich discusses conspiracy theories and the centrality of antisemitism to them:

"Conspiracy theories play a central role in extremist politics of all type, and antisemitism has a very strong traditional role within conspiracy theories, and this is why repeatedly we see antisemitism cropping up in the language, in the discourse, of extremist movements of all types - whether they are far-right, far-left, radical Islamist movements, and even New Age movements, we often find antisemitic conspiracy theories.

There is a British think-tank called demos, which has done a lot of research on conspiracy theories, they looked at the the literature and the arguments of a full range of extremist movements, and they found antisemitic conspiracy theories cropping up in all their literature.

The idea of ZOG - the Zionist Occupation Government, that there are Zionists or Jewish hidden powers behind our governments, was the most common one they found in the literature of all different extremist movements, and there's reasons for this.

Antisemitism was the dominant type of conspiracy theory in that conspiracy world, pretty much

from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, so any conspiracy theory that came out of that period, or that harks back to that period from today, will inevitably bring antisemitism into it, and this has been facilitated to a large extent by the growth of social media on the Internet.

If you wanted to come across these antisemitic ideas 20 years ago you would have to go and actually find an extremist movement, persuade them to let you into their meetings, and these are not trusting people, get to read their magazines, which would not really look like professional magazines or send off to their book lists, and then you'd start to see these ideas.

Ten years ago you could find them on the Internet on extremist message boards, like Storm front and other far-right groups, but again it was people talking to like-minded people, it was far-right people gathering together making networks and connections, but not really reaching out of those boundaries.

Nowadays with social media these extremist ideas, these conspiracy theories, this antisemitism is on all of our phones in all of our pockets in our children's bedrooms and it looks as professional and as believable as something from the BBC or from CNN, all you need is a Facebook page or a Twitter account or an Instagram account and there it is.

So these ideas spread and what we're hearing from teachers in schools is that increasingly their students are bringing in material that they found on the Internet, that they do not have the critical powers to assess and to challenge and to debunk, and increasingly teachers are having to argue against conspiracy theories in the classroom.

So this is a new problem, we hear a lot about fake news nowadays, people talk about fake news and post-truth politics all the time. Of course antisemitism is the original fake news.

Antisemitism has always relied on lies and libels and myths about Jews, that unscrupulous political and religious leaders have used to mobilize their own supporters or to whip up a mob.

George Orwell, one of the great British political writers, wrote a famous essay on antisemitism in 1945, where he wrote words to the effect of one of the striking things about antisemitism is that you have to be able to believe things that could not possibly be true.

So conspiracy theories, antisemitism, what is now being called fake news, they all live together in a world and it's given a new lease of life to some quite nasty antisemitic ideas.

Holocaust denial for example has really failed as a political project, it's something that neo-Nazis tried 20-25 years ago to use to revive National Socialism, no one bought it, but in the conspiracy world where you're not supposed to believe any official story about anything, you shouldn't believe anything that any establishment authority tells you, Holocaust denial has a home, and it has a home alongside conspiracy theories about 9/11 or about the 7th of July tube bombings here in Britain or about the moon landings or about, you know Princess Diana's death, and all these things just fit into this mix together, and the old barriers between what is far-left and what is far-right, what is fascist and what is anti-fascist, get completely blurred and broken down, because you get the same conspiracy theories in all different parts of the political spectrum, and as ever, as I said, when conspiracy theories are the main way of understanding politics and of viewing the world, antisemitism will always have, not just a place, but a central place."

Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present (Free Online Course)

Future Learn - online course: Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

Friday, 13 October 2017

A shortish guide to Twitter antisemites, neo-Nazis and their allies

[NB: The materials herein are freely available in the public domain, and this is produced as an educational resource for antiracists and antifascists.]

Imperfect


This is a very basic guide, with a short list of individuals on Twitter who express antisemitic ideas, promote people who do or generally feel comfortable with posh antisemitism.


Initially, it was composed in 2–3 minutes as an educational resource and is imperfect, but it should serve as a basic introduction.


These cranks vary in intensity from the odd neo-Nazi to a tin-foiler or two, and even a few odd British “Lefties”. Details of their revolting views can be found at A pickle jar of Twitter antisemites, neo-Nazis and their allies.



Tin foil, surprisingly common on social media.

Bigot, fool or neo-Nazi — Type


@TonyGosling — Tin-foil, kicked out of Greens for racism, big on conspiracies. Big. Makes David Icke seem rational. ✔

@evertonfc2 — Leftie antisemite, good at sneering at Jews. ✔
@BankersDidIt — Ingrained antisemite.
@MisGrace — Drunk neo-Nazi, with a supply of Red Bull. ✔
@AdnanSadiq01 — Persistent antisemite, believes in The Protocols, etc ✔
@alanmaddison20 — Never seen any antisemitism, ever, not even from neo-Nazis, or the other antisemites he chats with. Supposedly on the Left. ✔
@AlfieHeydrich — Jackbooted neo-Nazi, 14 words, the whole vile 88 stuff. ✔
@ianrmillard — One-time barrister, smart neo-Nazi, recruiter, does antisemitic outreach, popular on parts of the Left, occasionally. ✔
@kevinthickslice — Alt-Right, anti-everything, likes Hitler too. ✔
@palestininianpr — Utterly fixated antisemite.
@SidLabour — One-time teacher, mildly disdainful of Jews.
@MrTopple —  A Canary "journalist", was chummy with cream of Twitter's British antisemitic scene, conspiracies and plenty of anti-Jewish banter.
@AbbsWinston — Occasionally promotes neo-Nazi Veterans Today. Obsessed.
@SocialistVoice — UKIP voter, expelled from Labour for racism. Mild conspiracies. Knows most real hardcore antisemites on Twitter by name.
@DiligentTruth — Leftie antisemite.
@Gerdowning — Far, far Left, almost falling off the edge, expelled from Labour for racism. Thick to Olympic standards.


Shun and keep a list


The idea is that sensible people should not have exchanges or promote these racists and bigots, as it normalises racism in the long-term. Avoiding racists on Twitter is comparatively easy:


1.Scan timelines.

2.Keep a short list.
3.Shun these cranks and racists or anyone that endorses them.

Learning


Antisemitism is far more complex than many first think. Its history, for thousands of years, multiple layers, symbolism and imagery mean there is a lot to take in.


It is not just  about 1930s Nazis, or even their modern 1488 friends. We need to be prepared to think widely around this topic, as nasty as that is.


I recommend studying the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism as a starter. A plain copy is here.


Next drop by the Community Security Trust’s blog on antisemitism.


The ADL has some excellent resources, their Hate Symbols Database should be read at length.


SPLC's Hatewatch is invaluable as are their profiles of hardcore racists.



Neo-Nazis at Charlottesville 2017.

Social media and types


There are more types of antisemitism and stream of antisemitic thinking than the French have cheeses.


Most of them are really smelly and obvious, but not all. Put very crudely there are five major forms of this racism which tend to be found on social media:

  • neo-Nazism,
  • conspiracy racism,
  • extreme Islamism,
  • genteel antisemitism
  • and Stalinist thinking.
1. Most intelligent people can spot an obvious neo-Nazi form of antisemitism (the whole “1488” and ZOG stuff), but even neo-Nazis will soften their approach when on Twitter, etc. and pretend to be just radicals. They play off of certain topical issues. They will try turning any subject towards anti-Jewish racism, often in a semi-camouflaged form. They are not all knuckles scrapping idiots, they even have their own neofascist Wiki, Metapedia.

Best study Daily Stormer, Stormfront, VNN, IHR, Jew Watch, Occidental Observer, CODOH and White Genocide Project to understand their disgusting narratives, memes and talking points.  4chan's /pol/ board is a pit for the Alt-Right too.


On social media they tend to have a particular lexicon, symbolism and range of themes, including but not limited to: "The Goyim Know" "Goyim", "chosen people", "ZOG", "Talmudic", "neocon", ((())), etc


Hint: neo-Nazi speak for “Jew” is “Zionist”.


2. Next is conspiracy beliefs. The most consolidated form of these ideas portray Jews as the ultimate villains, although they might use the terms “Zionists”, “Rothschilds”, “Globalists”, “NWO”, "USS Liberty", "dancing Israelis", etc


For example, a popular conspiracy belief is that the 9/11 tragedy was executed by “Mossad” or somehow "dancing Israelis" were involved, depending on your mood.


Conspiracy theories are the gateway drug into hardcore antisemitism. Find them and hardcore views along with antisemitism will never be far away. The fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion is the intellectual glue in and around this arena.

Regrettably, such views are increasingly popular on the Left.

3. Extreme Islamists hate Jews, for existing and whilst much of their patter seems religious it is festooned with racist conspiracy notions and the odd bit of neo-Nazi thinking. ISIS is, but one example.


4. Genteel antisemitism is one of the most pernicious forms of racism in modern Western societies because it is neither crude nor vulgar, as we tend to expect antisemitic ideas to be. The strongest strain of this particular ailment is the denial of antisemitism. The denial of racism, when it comes to Jews.


Unless a piece of racism is carried boldly on the shoulders of an abusive, sweary, tattooed neo-Nazi then it is mostly rejected or defined so narrowly as to be without use. It is rather prevalent on parts of the British Left.


For example, in much the same way it would be exceedingly difficult to convince a hard-line member of UKIP that anti-French sentiment or xenophobia is a bad idea then it is gruelling trying to persuade someone enamoured of genteel antisemitism, when the target of that racism is Jews.


They won’t tend to grasp the issue, unless the racism is of the neo-Nazi form, and even then maybe not.


5. Finally, a historically significant although thankfully diminishing form of antisemitism is that characterised by Stalinist thinking.


It is, largely, the product of long-term antisemitic beliefs in Russia. Indeed, the very term pogrom is Russian.


Stalinist antisemitism came to the fore during the so-called "Doctors' plot", but was plain enough during the Night of the Murdered Poets. It was not confined just to the USSR "anti-Zionist" antisemitism was seen during the 1952 Slansky trial in Czechoslovakia too.


More worryingly, these influences did not die out when Stalin shuffled off his mortal coil, as evidenced by the "anti-Zionist" campaigns of the late 1960s in Eastern Europe.


It is characterised by excessive denunciations, false equivalents,  wordplay and the use of euphemisms, although you rarely hear the term "rootless cosmopolitan" much nowadays.



Itzik Feffer (murdered 1952), Solomon Mikhoels (killed by Stalin in 1947) talking with Paul Robeson.
As a contemporary political feature it can be found outside the traditional Stalinist Left, primarily amongst modern Leninist grouplets, their acolytes and parts of the "New Left".

Many of its ideas have been surprisingly influential on post-1968 Trotskyists and their allies. Often found in conjunction with conspiracy antisemitism on social media.


Elsewhere worth a read is the witty, That’s Funny You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic - An anti-racist analysis of left anti-semitism by Steve Cohen.


Cross-fertilisation of ideas


Outside of a specialist lab nothing in society is hermetically sealed and certainly not the exchange of ideas.


Some points of views, especially vile ones, have a surprisingly long shelf life and cross fertilise with others. These particular racist notions have an existence of their very own. Such half-truths and downright lies percolate around society for decades, if not hundreds of years.


The result is that antisemitism, particularly on social media, can be imbued with any of the above streams of antisemitic thinking.


The ghastly permutations of antisemitism are as varied as humans themselves. Mostly ugly and vile, but some come dressed up to seem inviting, therein lies the danger: we must be aware of their sly manifestations as well as their most conspicuous ones.


One example, the post-WW2 Stalinist fabrication about supposed Jewish collaboration with the Nazis.


It was taken up by the Far Right in the 1970s and 1980s, used to make bogus comparisons and, in part, help to rehabilitate National Socialism. Later on it found its way to the Extreme Left, then into mainstream discourse, as shown by Ken Livingstone’s outbursts.


Livingstone is not a neo-Nazi yet the promotion of those ideas are found on neo-Nazi central, Stormfront and the fount of all-things in Holocaust denial, the IHR. **


The danger lies in the fact that ideas with a long antisemitic heritage can be taken up by others, polished and popularised, unknowingly, or used to score political points, and in the end aid the spread of antisemitic thinking.




[**That link to Institute for Historical Review, founded by neo-Nazi Willis Carto, was retweeted on Twitter by members of the Left, claiming that it supported Livingstone's argument.

Again, Lefties were approvingly promoting a link to a neo-Nazi site to besmirch the name of Jews using the words of Mark Weber, one-time neo-Nazi.]



Willis Carto supporting another neo-Nazi, Ernst Zundel. Note banner in background.




Evidence


Samples of their racism, in all of its varying degrees, is shown at the Anti-Nazis United WordPress blog, more to come.


A pickle jar of Twitter antisemites, neo-Nazis and their allies.


Useful


The ‘Alt-Right’ Explained in 7 Must-Know Terms.


These are the new symbols of hate.


Hate Groups.


Engage's archive on antisemitism.


The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Dear Guardian letters, Facebook and carpet slipper antisemitism

Dear Guardian letters,

In the days of purely print media I had always wanted to write you, as a one-time passionate Guardian reader.

Fortunately nowadays everyone with access to the Internet can dispatch you a quick email.

I would like to focus on six points and please forgive the slight sarcasm:

1. I can't help notice the speed at which any letter downplaying concerns for antisemitism is published in the Guardian.

2. I recall your senior editors making a point many years ago when the Guardian's comments boxes were littered with antisemitism, that they would take that form of racism seriously. Is that still the case?

3.  Increasingly in Britain we are seeing many in the middle classes taking up that peculiar 1930s ailment, as the Guardian has regularly reported.

4. Would it be possible for senior Guardian people to comment on why your Facebook page becomes littered with carpet slipper antisemitism?

5. Does the Guardian have any plans to ever vigorously clamp down on genteel antisemitism when left as comments on its pages?

6. Finally, I have enjoyed the Guardian’s critical coverage of America’s Alt-Right, nevertheless I wish you would show 10% of that focus on polite antisemitism in Britain too.

I remain, your disappointed reader,

ANU

PS: Evidence of polite racism under Guardian posts can be found on its Facebook page and the rancid comments that were left.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Gary Spedding on Left antisemitism


Spedding on the Left

Gary Spedding has written an interesting article on antisemitism.

I disagree with parts of it, but he calls for better education in tackling antisemitism and highlights social media's promotion of racism towards Jews, which is to be welcomed.

However, he argues that the problem is not big:
"Additionally, the real number of leftists with real anti-Jewish beliefs is tiny."
Spedding identifies the figure of about 5% of people who hold probably strong antisemitic views.
"According to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research report (the largest-ever study of antisemitism in Britain), the Left is "no more anti-Semitic than the general population"  and of the general population, only 5% can be considered "hard" and "softer" anti-Semites."
This form of argumentation has been doing the rounds for the last few years.

Essentially, it seeks to say that the British Left is no worse than the general population, in terms of nasty racist views towards Jews. It is another form of downplaying of antisemitism, albeit more sophisticated than most.

Leaving aside the issue of low-expectation or how socialists and social democrats should have absolutely no truck with any form of racism, therein lies the question of mathematics.



The numbers

Spedding does not apply this approach, in any meaningful way, to the biggest party on the Left, the Labour Party.

The FT stated in August 2017:
"Membership of the party has soared from about 200,000 in the wake of the 2015 general election to about 550,000 today ..."
Therefore 5% of that is about 27,500.

Yet let us suppose for the sake of the argument, that conservatively that such a figure is only 2.4%, as the author of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research report suggests.

Meaning there could be approximately 13,200 Labour Party members with strange antisemitic ideas undulating around their heads.

A few in every CLP.

That is not tiny.

Friday, 8 September 2017

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of antisemitism, a HTML copy

[As a public service, a HTML copy of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of antisemitism.

The original can be found here and as a PDF here.  It is slightly imperfect in pagination to due the conversion process from PDF to HMTL.]

"

Bucharest, 26 May 2016

In the spirit of the Stockholm Declaration that states: “With humanity still scarred by ...antisemitism
and xenophobia the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils” the
committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial called the IHRA Plenary in Budapest 2015 to adopt
the following working definition of antisemitism.

On 26 May 2016, the Plenary in Bucharest decided to:
Adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred
toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed
toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish
community institutions and religious facilities.”
To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations:

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish
collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be
regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).

Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries. 

"