Al-Muhajiroun TV

October 29th, 2009 by CST

YouTube features videos of everything under the sun. It is the Speakers Corner of our digital global village, attracting extremists of all types. As has been pointed out before, it can also function as a social networking site for extremists to advertise events, publish offensive material and propagandise for their cause, through establishing their own ‘channels’ and connecting with other, like-minded people.

Al-muhajiroun/Islam4UK on YouTube

Al-Muhajiroun, the al-Qaeda supporting group formed by Omar Bakri Mohammed in the 1990s, has been semi-covert since the 7th July bombings, forced into legal limbo by the proscription of three of its cover names. Shunned and reviled by the vast majority of British Muslims (to say nothing of the rest of society) it employs several aliases and uses YouTube to radicalise, recruit and organise its activists. Al-Muhajiroun’s behaviour presents a classic case study of its type.

Lectures and sermons from radical preachers such as Abu Hamza, Omar Bakri Muhammad and Abu Qatada are sent around the world, moments after leaving their mouths. By editing their activities online, activists from Islam4UK – currently the most common name used by al-Muhajiroun – can finesse the message: keeping the hatred and division as close to the legal boundary as possible. They can build international relationships with comrades in the American based Islamic Thinkers Society. They can even pose as respected Muslim clerics to viewers who are uninformed as to the extreme, unrepresentative ideas that the group promotes.

The al-Muhajiroun successor groups use three of their own websites: www.submit2allah.com, www.islam4uk.com and www.salafimedia.net. It is possible to trace the YouTube activities of these groups through their YouTube profiles. One YouTube channel entitled Islam4UK – Offical (sic) Channel states in its profile:

This is the Offical (sic) Channel for Islam4UK a Movement within UK working for the establishment of the Shariah- to make it dominate all other ways of life.

This channel has four lectures on it given by three people (divided into several videos, due to their length). Two of the lectures are given by Anjem Choudary, the figurehead of the various al-Muhajiroun successor groups, who is described on the Islam4UK website as:

Judge of the Shari’ah Court of the UK and Principal Lecturer at the London School of Shari’ah.

The videos of Choudary are joined by lectures from Abu Uzair and Abu Fuqurah, two more Islam4UK activists. The channel also links back to the homepage of Islam4UK.

This is only the surface of Islam4UK’s YouTube presence.

Anjem Choudary’s YouTube channel

Anjem Choudary’s own YouTube channel is here. He has over 80 subscribers, including Izharudeen, IslamistUK, SlaveOfAllaaH, londondawah and Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jammah – each of whom promote the websites of one or more of the three al-Muhajiroun successor groups named above – ‘submit2allah’, ‘islam4UK’ and ‘salafimedia’. Another subscriber, Perspectives of a Muslim Da’ee, promotes al-Muhajiroun’s American chapter, the Islamic Thinkers Society, which we will return to later.

There are others who do not subscribe to Choudary’s channel, but who use their own YouTube channels to publicise the al-Muhajiroun successor groups. Take for example Abu Waleed, who has a second channel called Abu Maryam. Abu Waleed describes himself as a “Lecturer at the London School of Shariah” and the address of an al-Muhajiroun successor website is on screen throughout each of his lectures. Another example is Londonistan – who has uploaded a video called “CAMDEN TOWN -[03/10/09] LIFE UNDER THE SHARIAH”. This opens with a computerised re-creation of a plane crashing into the Pentagon, before showing footage of a recent Islam4UK stall in Camden Town, north London:

 

As well as subscribers, Choudary has some YouTube friends. (26 at the time of writing). They include Abu Maryam, Izharudeen, Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jammah and a channel entitled KhanQaida, whose wallpaper features a mock up of al-Muhajiroun’s white-on-black flag, a Kalashnikov and the words “support our troops”. Here is one of the videos from his “favourites” section, titled What is the least we can do for the Mujahideen:

This video does not open in KhanQaida’s channel, but instead opens on a generic YouTube page. This is because KhanQaida did not post the video himself, but simply marked it as a favourite. Users can therefore promote videos on their own channels that they have not made or uploaded themselves.  

This is relevant for several of Choudary’s YouTube “friends”, who needn’t attend an Islam4UK event in order to publicise it on their channel. Perspectives of a Muslim Da’ee, for example, has 96 videos tagged as favourites, but only uploaded 11 himself. The 96 favourite videos include mainstream news reports, al-Muhajiroun and Islamic Thinkers Society videos and overt jihadi propaganda clips. Perspectives of a Muslim Da’ee has 132 friends for his youtube channel and 175 subscribers tuning in to watch and learn. So, Choudary is reaching many more people than the number of subscribers and friends that he has on his channel would suggest. His activists act as a multiplier, promoting him and his message to a much wider circle.

Al-Muhajiroun Lecturers on Youtube

Choudary is the “principal lecturer at the London School of Shariah”. This is a long-standing outlet for al-Muhajiroun’s activities in theUK. As noted above, Abu Waleed, a.k.a Abu Maryam, is a fellow lecturer at the School. His lecture on The Battle of Khandaq (split into several videos) gives an idea of his views. He repeatedly portrays Jews as the main enemy of Muhammad and talks about their alleged betrayals: here, for example, or here. After 1min 35 seconds of this second video he accuses British Muslims who cooperate with their own British government of being Kaffir (disbelievers). Then, he goes back to demonising Jews. In this video, he uses a battle from the Quran to exhort his audience to remain strong in the face of the arrest and imprisonment of their comrades (8th minute onwards). The final video of the lecture ends with the message that the battle between belief and disbelief is never over (6th minute).

Abu Maryam’s The Integration Conspiracy lecture gives his views on Holocaust Memorial Day and the Muslims that attended. He begins this clip with the words “That the Jews and the Christians will never be pleased with you until you take up their deen (belief).” He then attacks the Muslim community in the UK for, as he sees it, pandering to the government, claiming that Allah says Muslims cannot integrate into British society or join the police or the army. By the end of the video he is ranting that the very concept of Muslim integration into British society is a conspiracy to destroy Islam itself. For those who didn’t quite get the point earlier, he emphasises it here (from 8th minute). In this next part of the lecture, his bigotry is on display when he tells the story of when he first met his new, non-Muslim neighbour (3rd minute):

You know we say Kuffar are stupid, but I don’t think there’s any more stupid than my neighbour […] he said “I’ve got a cold beer, why don’t you come inside for a drink?” What’s this [pointing at large beard], you know what I mean, what do you think this is, you know what I mean? Taliban, beard yeah? He said “why don’t you come in for a drink?” I said “look you know, I’m a Muslim, Muslims don’t drink, we don’t drink alcohol.” And he’s like, looking with his head down, and [he says] “I’ve got orange juice for you”, and I said “look, I’m not interested. I’m not gonna have no dinner with you, I’m not gonna drink with you, I’m not gonna buy some roses, there’s not ever gonna be no kissing or anything like that going on, thank you very much. You apologise to me for being Kaffir, come with your begging bowl, don’t worry, we’re not going to kill you anyway because we have a covenant of security.” That’s Kaffir, anyway.

 Then, by the 7th minute he has moved on to insulting Sikhs.

Another user called abu dujana is a typical case study of an al-Muhajiroun activist on YouTube. According to his channel’s homepage he studies at the School of Shariah:

your brother in islam abu dujana student at the london school of sharia  working to take over the world and establish huja & make the deen of allah (swt) the most high

Abu dujana doesn’t have a direct subscription to Choudary’s channel, nor is he listed as one of his friends, but he subscribes to and is listed as friends with other al-Muhajiroun activists, such as londondawah, and lists three al-Muhajiroun successor websites in his profile. The videos he has uploaded on his channel include clips from al-Muhajiroun successor groups’ events alongside explicit jihadi films.

Abu dujana has subscriptions to around 20 channels, at least two of which, londondawah and Perspectives of a Muslim Da’ee, post al-Muhajiroun propaganda and link to their websites. One of the other channels to which he subscribes, ASSAHAB888, has a particular taste for al-Qaeda videos.

Another Islam4UK activist, Izharudeen, describes his hobby as:

To make Allah’s word the highest all over the world – Izharudeen

He links to www.submit2allah.com from his profile and his title video is a refutation of a Muslim calling for peaceful coexistence between the Luton Islamic Centre and other faiths in the UK.

Izharudeen has posted a total of 50 videos on his channel. One is titled “Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed Tribute; another, “Muslim Prisoners Guilty (Aseer) of being Muslim”. This includes photographs of al-Muhajiroun activists who are either currently imprisoned or have recently been released, such as Simon ‘Suleiman’ Keeler and Omar ‘Abu Izzadeen’ Brooks, both of whom were found guilty in 2008 of terrorist fundraising and inciting terrorism overseas. Also featured is Abu Hamza al-Masri, currently serving a 7 year sentence for incitement to murder, after which he is scheduled to be extradited to the USA; Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted in 1996 of masterminding terrorist plots in New York; and Abu Qatada, awaiting extradition to Jordan where he has been found guilty in absentia of conspiring to murder tourists over the Millennium.

Islamic Thinkers Society

This network of al-Muhajiroun supporters isn’t limited to “Londonistan”: as mentioned above, it extends to the USA where supporters of al-Muhajiroun go by the name of the Islamic Thinkers Society, which has its own Islamic Thinkers Society Official Channel on YouTube. This channel is similar to those publicising Islam4UK, with videos showing their various demonstrations and stalls. The channel’s title video shows dead bodies and casualties of various wars, and calls all Muslim leaders sell-outs, ending with a picture of the black flag used by al-Muhajiroun flying over the White House.

Another American activist, who subscribes to Choudary’s channel and to the Islamic Thinkers Society, has a channel of his own called Islamic Revolution TV. In his profile, he lists Osama Bin Laden as one of:

The True Shuyookh of the Past and Present

His list of “The True Shuyookh” is a who’s who of Islamist and jihadist thinkers and fighters, past and present: in addition to bin Laden it includes ibn Taymiyyah, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, Abul Ala Maududi, Sayyid Qutb and his brother Mohammed Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, Abu Qatadah, Omar Abdel Rahman, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Anwar al-Awlaki, Abdullah el-Faisal and Abu Hamza al-Masri.

The channel features a seven-part audio series called “From the Shadows: Exposing the New World Order”:

Created and Presented by Halaqa Media, we are taken through a trip in history in order to learn the facts and reality about the notorious group known as the Free-Masons, the servants of the Dajjal (Anti-Christ). This is something each and every Muslim must learn, part of our battle is knowing who our enemy is. It is time for us to learn and turn to Islam as the solution and opposition to the Dajjal and his Freemason servants.

Conclusion

Al-Muhajiroun is reviled by the vast majority of people, Muslim and not, in Britain. It has been proscribed by the government under three of its names and the permanent removal of its founder, Omar Bakri Mohammed, from Britain in 2005 was greeted with relief, if not celebration. It is no surprise, then, to find that al-Muhajiroun’s supporters and activists use YouTube and other online facilities to organise activities that are shunned by most in the offline world.

The proliferation of al-Muhajiroun on YouTube demonstrates the limitations of proscription. Banning an organisation makes an important public statement about the boundaries of acceptable activity in a democracy, and provides legal channels for dealing with organisations that incite violence and hatred. However, proscribing an organisation does not mean that it will stop its activities, or disappear from view: it merely displaces it from offline meeting rooms to online chat rooms, creating new problems in place of the old. The internet erases the distance between mainstream and extremist discourse, and between different shades of extremism. A YouTube user can watch mainstream news reports about Iraq or Afghanistan, an Anjem Choudary lecture on the same subject and an al-Qaeda training video, all in one sitting. He can chat to like-minded people on the other side of the world as easily as with somebody in the next street. Extremists can disseminate their propaganda much more widely than before, but are also subject to much easier monitoring by the authorities; and it can be harder for extremist groups to turn a passing online interest into cadre of genuine quality, than if they have face-to-face contact with potential new recruits.

Needless to say, many of the videos linked to here contravene YouTube’s Community Guidelines. Even if they don’t inspire any YouTube viewers to violence, the propaganda of al-Muhajiroun, not to mention al-Qaeda, is based on bigotry and hatred of ‘the other’, encouraging separation and suspicion in our communities. YouTube and other social networking sites should do more to police, pro-actively, the use of their platforms by extremists. It should not be up to other users to prevent extremists from exploiting YouTube’s facilities and sullying its brand, a problem that is common to many mainstream blogs and social forums. However, removing these videos, as welcome as that would be, would not solve the problem: extremist groups can always set up their own websites and message boards, or meet online in private chat rooms. More important, as noted in CST’s report with the ICSR on Countering Online Radicalisation, is providing strong counter-messages to drown out the extremist voices of hate.

Antisemitism and Islamist terrorism

October 29th, 2009 by Dave Rich

Earlier, this month, Inayat Bunglawala took exception to the assertion by CST and the Board of Deputies that radical Islamist terrorism is rooted in an ideology that includes “a core belief in antisemitism”. We have answered this in some detail previously, but a recent plot uncovered in America gives a little insight into what we meant.

Two men from Chicago have been arrested for plotting to assassinate Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, and cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, for their roles in the publication of the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in 2005. The plot was hatched in conjunction with Lashkar e Taiba, the Kashmiri group behind the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008, and Harakat-ul Jihad Islami. The criminal complaint against one of the accused, a Muslim convert named David Headley, includes this detail:

With respect to his activities in Denmark, HEADLEY stated that he conducted surveillance of the Jyllands-Posten offices in Copenhagen and Arhus, Denmark, in preparation for an attack […] HEADLEY also stated that he conducted surveillance of Danish troops posted nearby, as well as of a nearby synagogue. HEADLEY stated that the surveillance of the Danish troops was conducted because they were posted near the newspaper and might serve as a reaction force in the event of an attack. He also said that he conducted the surveillance of the synagogue at the direction of Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A, whom HEADLEY described as being under the mistaken belief that Rose was Jewish.

The complaint also reveals that when Headley was arrested on 3rd October trying to board a flight out of Chicago, his luggage included surveillance videos of the Jyllands-Posten office and a military barracks, and a book entitled “How to Pray Like a Jew”.

The conspiracy theory that the Danish cartoons were part of a Zionist plot against Islam was fairly widespread during the cartoons affair of late 2005/early 2006. It could be found in several mainstream Arab newspapers, as detailed in this report from the Anti-Defamation League. Here in Britain, it was pushed most vigorously by MPACuk – never slow to identify the hand of Zion behind any misfortune – who wrote on their website:

As suspected, and claimed on this blog over the weekend, the inflammatory anti-Muslim cartoons published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten were a deliberate provocation designed to outrage and incite Muslims and thus engender support in Europe and America for the manufactured “clash of civilizations” engineered by the Straussian neocons. As Christopher Bollyn writes for the American Free Press, the neocon operative behind the cartoon scheme is Flemming Rose, cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, who has “has clear ties to the Zionist Neo-Cons.” Rose “traveled to Philadelphia in October 2004 to visit Daniel Pipes, the Neo-Con ideologue who says the only path to Middle East peace will come through a total Israeli military victory. Rose then penned a positive article about Pipes, who compares ‘militant Islam’ with fascism and communism,” Bollyn reveals.

There is no suggestion that Inayat Bunglawala shares this opinion of the cartoons, and I’m sure he doesn’t support the use of violence against Jyllands-Posten. Rather, he reveals a blind spot in addressing the habit of radical Islamists to blame Jews – or ‘Zionists’ – for everything, and recognising the antisemitism that lies behind Islamist terrorism against Jews.

Inverting the logic of the Holocaust

October 28th, 2009 by Dave Rich

Back in August, the Guardian ran a comment piece by Slavoj Zizek which accused Israel of wanting to make Palestinian territory “Palestinian-frei”. The Guardian edited this in their print copy to read “Palestinian-free”, but neglected to change the online version until after complaints were made. We posted about this here, and asked the question:

There is more than one “problematic cliche” in Zizek’s article, and in its publication by the Guardian and CiF. The most egregious part of one of those has been belatedly taken care of, but how many more “problematic cliches” will the Guardian stable keep chucking at us?

The comment page in Saturday’s Guardian goes some way to answering our question, in an editorial praising the Haaretz journalist Amira Hass. The article commends her work challenging the Israeli government’s actions in the Palestinian territories, before stating:

Her moral anchor is firmly rooted in painful collective memories. Her mother survived a concentration camp and her father the ghettos of Romania and Ukraine. “What luck my parents are dead,” Hass wrote at the height of the Gaza operation in January. Her parents could not stand the noise of Israeli jet fighters flying over the Palestinian refugee camps in 1982, and nor could they have tolerated going about their daily chores in Tel Aviv with the knowledge of what was going on in their name in Gaza: “They knew what it meant to close people behind barbed-wire fences in a small area.” Only a Jew can invert the “never again” logic of the Holocaust that is used to justify Israel’s least justifiable actions. It is that very experience, Hass argues, that should teach Israel to behave differently.

Far from just a “problematic cliche”, this whole section only makes sense as an allegation that Israel behaves in Gaza how the Nazis behaved towards the Jews – including Hass’s parents – in Europe. This is an odious comparison; an increasingly common staple of anti-Israel discourse which has a clear antisemitic impact.  There is much to be challenged, too, in the Guardian’s suggestion that the allegation gains value if it is spoken by a Jew; an idea should stand or fall on its merits, and this has none. The Guardian seems very happy,  in other contexts, to accuse others of distorting the memory of the Holocaust for contemporary political gain. It should not be playing the Nazi card against Israel.

The bishop; Holocaust denial & immoral filth

October 27th, 2009 by Mark Gardner

The extremist British bishop, Richard Williamson, has been found guilty by a German court of denying the Holocaust. He faces a 12,000 Euro fine, but is likely to appeal.  

I have worked at CST for many years. During that time, I have always found Holocaust denial to be the most upsetting form of antisemitic discourse. Words are not adequate to express the immorality of this filth.

When I hear or think about Mahmoud Ahmedinejad I am seared by the notion that he denies and mocks the Holocaust because he wants to repeat it, and is developing the means to do so.

At the other end of the scale to Ahmedinejad, you have the bumptious pomposity of David Irving and Nick Griffin doing their denial waltzes  (eg Griffin on Question Time spinning obfuscations about European law, and “radio transcripts”); and their geek of the week chum, Fred Leuchter, who is about as frightening as a garden gnome with NHS spectacles on. 

And then, there is the British bishop, Richard Williamson. Member of an extreme Catholic splinter group that intersected Griffin’s path when the BNP leader was mired in his own extremist splinter group, the International Third Position. Williamson also denies the Holocaust, and uses Leuchter’s fraudulent reports to do so.

As with Ahmedinejad, and unlike Irving and Griffin, I have an extreme visceral reaction to Williamson. I have tried to rationalise why this is, but I cannot reach a satisfactory conclusion.

The television interview for which Germany convicted Williamson is here on youtube. (Regrettably, but not surprisingly, it appears to have been posted by Holocaust deniers). Watch the interview, and see if you react to it as I do.

Antisemitism as a Compliment

October 26th, 2009 by Mark Gardner

This is an interesting article by Ben Cohen. It originally appeared on Z Word Blog and discusses the use of the antisemitic trope that relates Jews with money.  

 

 On the op-ed page of the South Carolina newspaper The Times and Democrat, two Republican officials are defending Senator Jim DeMint’s opposition to Congressional earmarking – the process whereby politicians can allocate funding to approved projects with very little oversight. Such allocations are famously dismissed by detractors as “pork” because they serve interests that are, most of the time, parochial and rather murky.

Earmarking is a perennial debate in American politics and no less compelling because of that. But is it necessary to invoke classically antisemitic tropes in making the case against the practice? The two defenders of Senator DeMint, Edwin O. Merwin Jr. and James S. Ulmer Jr., appear to believe that it is, writing as follows:

There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves. By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation’s pennies and trying to preserve our country’s wealth and our economy’s viability to give all an opportunity to succeed.

Now, there are some generous-spirited souls who might be prepared to accept this as a back-handed compliment. The traditional figure of the penny-pinching Jew has become aspirational, a model of fiscal responsibility, rather than an object of derision and distaste. It’s a bit like these figurines, charmingly known as zydki, which they sell in Poland: where once they would have spurred pogroms, now they are regarded – as a Polish government official once told me, with no sense of irony – as lucky charms which just might bring good fortune to your bank account.

zydki polish jewish figurine

I’m not buying it. It’s an insidious, ugly representation of Jews with the potential to do great harm. I call to the witness box one Julius Streicher:

Der Sturmer 1

Senator DeMint has denounced Merwin and Ulmer, as well he should. But what strikes me as more significant is the simple fact that essentialist views of Jews persist, and can crop up in the unlikeliest of places.

Now, if one rejects as bigoted the notion that Jews have an inherent talent for managing money, should we not do the same with the notion – beloved of many non-Jewish commentators, but most especially of Jewish commentators of the “As a…” variety – that Jews, by dint of their historical experience, are only permitted to, as my co-writer Eamonn McDonagh puts it, “have a state and an army if that state and that army comply with standards of behavior far higher than that required of other states?”

‘I do not have a conviction for Holocaust Denial’

October 23rd, 2009 by Dave Rich

Last night on Question Time, Nick Griffin came up with one of the most transparent evasions imaginable when asked whether he denied the Holocaust, replying: “I do not have a conviction for Holocaust denial.” Like much of what Griffin said during the programme, this is not exactly the truth.

Griffin was convicted of incitement to racial hatred in May 1998, for publishing a magazine called The Rune when he was an activist in the Croydon branch of the BNP, rather than leader of the party. There were several items in the particular issue of The Rune for which he was prosecuted – issue 12 – that were used by the prosecution to prove the charge against Griffin: one of which was a particularly nasty antisemitic cartoon, showing a caricature of Steven Spielberg saying: “The movies we make are all full of crap and hate. And they’ve all got MILLIONS OF DEAD Jews in them. And they’re ALL FANTASY too!”. Elsewhere in the magazine, in reply to a letter from American Holocaust denier Michael A. Hoffman II, Griffin had written:

“The first Exterminationist tales centred on Dachau, Belsen and other camps in Germany. When that lie became untenable the court historians shifted their main accusations to Auschwitz. Now that too is an untenable thesis the Exterminationists are once again trying to wriggle off the hook of their own deceit. The accomplished and very practical liars amongst them are perfectly capable of recognising the extraordinary danger posed by Revisionism to their entire system, and accordingly of deciding to make certain sacrifices (what’s a couple of million between friends?) to keep the core of the story – mass extermination by any means believable – intact.”

Griffin’s response to this evidence was to invite French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson to appear as an expert witness in his defence, in an effort to turn the whole affair into a show trial about the Holocaust. So while it is technically correct for Griffin to say that he does not have a conviction for Holocaust denial – despite what Griffin thinks, there is no such law in Britain – his conviction for incitement to racial hatred was based, in part, on his denial of the Holocaust. Some difference.

Griffin’s claim that he has changed his views on the Holocaust is also, well, not exactly the truth; at least not in recent years. His current position is that lots of Jews were killed by mass shootings in the East, but he doesn’t like discussing the gas chambers. Yet this is nothing new; here he is, saying exactly the same thing on The Cook Report in 1997:

What do you mean by the Holocaust?…There is no doubt that hundreds, probably thousands of Jews were shot to death in Eastern Europe because they were, rightly or wrongly, seen as Communists or potential partisans or partisan supporters. That was awful. But this nonsense about gas chambers is exposed as a total lie. 

This refusal to acknowledge that Nazi Germany had industrial death camps is not just down to a difference of opinion, or an irrational refusal to acknowledge one of the best-documented events in modern history: it is the crucial part of Holocaust Denial. Mass shootings of civilians are war crimes, for sure; but there are many examples of such crimes in wars throughout history, which can be explained away by references to anti-partisan operations, the fog of war, loose lines of command and control and so on. The Nazi gas chambers only make sense as part of a cold-blooded, industrial genocide: an organised, systematic programme of extermination of European Jewry. They are what make the Nazi Holocaust unique; they are the reason why we have Holocaust Memorial Day today.

In February 1996, not long after joining the BNP, Griffin wrote in Spearhead, published by the then BNP leader John Tyndall, to explain why Holocaust denial is a crucial part of the far right programme:

For the last fifty years the vision underlying all the vile sickness of this age of ruins has been the so-called ‘Holocaust’…The New World struggling to be born cannot do so until this lie is publicly exposed, ridiculed and destroyed…If nationalists don’t bury this deadly lie, nobody will. In the case of Britain, that means that members of the British National Party have a duty to be involved as active participants in the revisionist struggle.

The BNP does not use Holocaust Denial in its public discourse any more, but it remains one of the defining characteristics of contemporary neo-Nazism. If Griffin were to completely change his position and accept all the facts of the Holocaust, he would cross a line that would take him and the BNP out of the far right forever. Indeed, if he truly wanted to leave the far right, David Duke and all, behind him, this would be the easiest way. The fact that he won’t do it says everything about the true nature of his politics, who he sees as his allies and his vision for the future of the BNP and this country.

“We Fundamentally Disagree With Mr Bernstein’s Views”

October 22nd, 2009 by Mark Gardner

It is plain that if the Jewish state is regarded as a pariah, a compulsive serial abuser of human rights, then Jews everywhere will suffer by (real or imaginary) association.

So, it matters when Robert Bernstein, founder and emeritus chair of Human Rights Watch (HRW), and its chairman for 20 years, writes in the New York Times to regretfully inform HRW that its scrutiny and attitude to Israel “are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state”. As with HRW’s recent Marc Garlasco controversy, however, what matters even more is HRW’s public response to Bernstein:

 We fundamentally disagree with Mr Bernstein’s views.  

In the Garlasco case, pro-Israel activists showed that HRW’s ‘battlefield analyst’ was a collector of Nazi memorabilia. HRW’s reaction was to savage his critics and to dismiss their concerns out of hand. Even when HRW belatedly suspended Garlasco on full pay, their contemptuous dismissal of his critics and their concerns remained untouched under the news release.

With Bernstein, their publicly stated reaction is again evasive and dismissive. Above all, however, its lack of respect or empathy for Bernstein’s soberly expressed concerns, tells you all that you need to know about how some of the world’s leading human rights organisations regard mainstream Jewish sensibilities.

HRW’s news release on Bernstein’s article, and a subsequent letter in the New York Times from HRW’s present chair, mention private discussions between Bernstein and HRW’s directors on the criticisms he then raised in his NYT article. It is HRW’s public reaction that matters, as it is this that informs the general public how they should react to the concerns of Bernstein and others of his supposed ilk.

There has long been an instinctive reaction from groups such as HRW to savage their critics as being antagonistic pro-Israel lobbyists. There is no way that Robert Bernstein fits that ugly ethnic profiling, and yet HRW’s public reaction effectively treats him as just another pro-Israel snake in the grass. This suggests that HRW’s public reaction to Bernstein reflects an institutionalised inability to deal fairly and squarely with any concerns that are raised by Jews who don’t spend half their lives condemning Israel.

The suspicion is strengthened when you contemplate the behaviour of the many groups, politicians and media that share HRW’s milieu. It as is if the constant drip, drip, drip, of their attitude to Israel has gradually eroded all of the sense and sensibility that such parties ever had towards the mainstream of the Jewish community.

For those of us who are concerned with antisemitism rather than Israel’s traumatised Public Relations, this is where attitudes to Israel rear their very ugly head. Even if HRW is entirely correct in every statement that it has ever made about Israel, this would still not justify the erosion of its attitude to mainstream Jews: as displayed by the simmering suspicion, contempt and downright hostility that its news releases on Garlasco and Bernstein suggest.

Bernstein’s article, from the New York Times, October 20th, is well worth reading in full. It is here and concludes with this warning:

Only by returning to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it can Human Rights Watch resurrect itself as a moral force in the Middle East and throughout the world. If it fails to do that, its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished.

HRW’s response is dated the same day. It can be read in full here, and has been scrutinised here.

The response is entitled “Why we report on ‘open’ societies” and twice says that HRW does not believe that only “closed” societies should be scrutinised. Bernstein’s article, however, never said any such thing. He stresses that an important founding principle of HRW was to distinguish between closed and open societies, and states that when he left in 1998, HRW “was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies”: but nowhere does he write that HRW should not work in open societies, as HRW’s news release clearly infers three times in its short length.

HRW does not directly challenge Bernstein’s assertion that they are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state, but they forcefully deny his claim that “in recent years HRW has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.”

Note that Bernstein says HRW write far more about Israel than any other single country in the region. HRW’s reply, however, switches to discussing Israel relative to every other country added together. This is an evasion of the lowest order:

HRW does not devote more time and energy to Israel than other countries in the region…We’ve produced more than 1,700 reports, letters, news releases, and other commentaries on the Middle East and North Africa since January 2000, and the vast majority of these were about countries other than Israel. 

Disregarding HRW’s evasion, and unlike most of the claims and counter-claims that surround their work on Israel and the region, the general question ‘Does HRW do more on Israel than it does on any other nearby country?’ can be given a rudimentary check.

For instance, as of October 21st, accessing the HRW website and ‘google’ searching within it for the word Israel gives a return of “about 10,700”. Sudan gives a return of “about 11,500”. Sudan, however, is not really in the Middle East, nor North Africa. Iraq is, and it gives a return of “about 6,960”. So is Iran, which gives “about 6,020”. Egypt is “about 5,360”, Saudi Arabia is “about 5,290”, Libya is about 5,070, and Syria is about 3,220.

So, Israeli human rights are basically in the same bracket as Sudan’s: and up to twice as bad as the regional average. On a per capita basis, this would clearly make Jewish Israelis and their (real and imagined) Jewish supporters by far the worst people in the world, never mind the region. No wonder, then, that they should face such scorn from HRW.

Still, to be serious, whilst the google result is not irrelevant, it remains a very rough and quite facile way of estimating the importance of a country and its supporters to HRW. More digging is required: namely, the “browse by country” section of the HRW website, with requests for all reports or documents or news feeds about that country.

Not everything listed as under a country is solely about that nation, and it is not necessarily hostile as such, either. With that caveat, requesting information about “Israel and Occupied Territories” offers 67 website pages (comprising 5 pages of reports, 35 pages of documents, and 27 pages of news). Iran has 49 pages (3 of reports, 25 of documents, 21 of news). Egypt has 45 pages (5 of reports, 22 of documents, 18 of news). Iraq has 40 pages (7 of reports, 29 of documents, 24 of news). Syria has 20 pages (2 of reports, 10 of documents, 8 of news). Libya has 14 pages (1 of reports, 7 of documents, 6 of news). Sudan has 76 pages (6 of reports, 40 of documents, 30 of news).

There is a pattern here, and it is far closer to Robert Bernstein’s analysis than HRW’s. This clearly shows that HRW’s rebuttal of its founding chair’s concerns are somewhat overcooked.

There are also, however, elements of Robert Bernstein’s New York Times article that HRW’s news release utterly ignored. To duck Bernstein’s comments about the conduct of regimes in Iran and the Arab world is perhaps one thing, but the failure to make any response to his concerns about Hamas and Hizbollah is far more concerning. HRW, vitally carrying the human rights torch for the post-Holocaust era, simply ignores this from Bernstein’s heartfelt piece:

These groups [Hizbollah and Hamas] are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

If HRW cannot even muster the respect to properly answer its founding chairman when he raises a concern about incitement to genocide of Jews, then how can we possibly expect them to engage decently with any other Jewish concerns? Or perhaps I am being unfair again. After all, HRW’s Iranian pages make no mention of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s latest pro-genocidal outburst of September 18th, so perhaps they are unaware of it. Or, perhaps HRW did address Bernstein’s concerns. Perhaps they addressed them in the last sentence of the opening paragraph of their statement:

 We fundamentally disagree with Mr Bernstein’s views.

 – And there you have everything that you need to know about why there is such discord today between mainstream Jews, and so many of the world’s leading human rights organisations.

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