Why is this lobby different?

March 29th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

 Tonight marks the beginning of Pesach (Passover), when Jewish families come together in Seder ceremonies to recall the Exodus from Egypt.

 For most, the highlight of the Seder ceremony is the reading of the Four Questions, when the youngest participant asks their elders,

 Ma nishtana ha layla ha zeh? (Which means, ‘Why is this night different from all other nights?’ )

The adults’ response to the question then sets the scene for the rest of the evening, as they explain the significance of the Exodus and the importance of memory.

In some Jewish households, families see fit to consciously change and adapt the Seder ceremony to spark discussion and awareness of issues such as racism, freedom, religion, ethnicity and belonging: all of which are evoked by the Exodus tale.

Last week, three politicians were quoted as having made remarks that are likely to cause concern amongst anybody who knows the role that Jewish power motifs have played in the long and painful history of antisemitism.

Former London mayor, Ken Livingstone, on Jnet Radio, discussing what he believes the Jewish community thinks of him:

It was a real hatchet job by the Board of Deputies and the Evening Standard who had a common interest in getting rid of me.

…A chunk of the Jewish community thinks I’m antisemitic. A chunk of the Jewish committees have always been sympathetic to me and then there are people that waver.

…If you have got a position which is controversial around the issue of Israel and Palestine then you will get it in the neck inevitably.

Battersea MP, Martin Linton (Labour), speaking on 23 March in Parliament to a Friends of Al Aqsa meeting, reported on Richard Millett’s blog  

There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends.

Gorton MP, Gerald Kaufman MP (Labour), speaking at the same meeting in Parliament as Martin Linton, also reported on Richard Millett’s blog 

Just as Lord Ashcroft owns one part of the Conservative Party, right-wing Jewish millionaires own the other part.

To these politicians, this Pesach we would ask not four questions, but only one

 Why is this lobby different from all other lobbies?

Note – Due to Pesach, blogging will be very light on this site over the next week. CST Blog wishes all its readers a Chag Sameach

Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Jewish problem

March 26th, 2010 by CST

Introduction

For years, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has increasingly demonstrated violent global ambitions beyond the South Asian theatre; however, the antisemitic component to its target selection has only more recently been demonstrated. LeT’s infamous information gatherer, David Coleman Headley, pleaded guilty in the United States in March 2010 to all twelve charges brought against him. He played a key role in planning and assisting LeT’s three-day siege of the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008, and LeT’s (foiled) plot to attack personnel and property of the Danish newspaper Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten.[1] The Mumbai attack claimed the lives of nearly 200 people, at least one of whom was a British national. Under Britain’s Terrorism Act 2000, LeT is one of ten or so Kashmiri-oriented jihadist groups that are included on the Home Office list of proscribed terrorist organisations in the UK.[2]

Both the Mumbai and Denmark plots included an alarming Jewish focus: Headley, acting on instruction from Lashkar handlers, conducted extensive pre-operational hostile reconnaissance not only on landmark sites but also on Jewish facilities across India and in Denmark. In the Mumbai attacks, of course, two terrorists specifically targeted the city’s Chabad-Lubavitch Centre and murdered six Jews in that facility. Headley’s guilty plea, then, warrants a review of LeT’s antisemitic motivations and the implications for the security of Jewish communities in the UK and abroad.

lashkaretaiba

The symbol of Lashkar-e-Taiba

Lashkar-e-Taiba’s anti-Jewish complex

Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has referred to itself as the “Army of Madinah” in English-language publications, has demonstrated a willingness and ability to target and attack Western and Jewish institutions.[3] In February 2010, US Director of Intelligence Dennis Blair, after noting LeT’s growing anti-Western agenda and explaining the threat potential of LeT “placing Western targets in Europe in its sights”, emphasized security concerns over “LT’s plotting against India and willingness to attack Jewish interests and locations visited by Westerners”.[4] Lashkar-e-Taiba’s antisemitism is embedded within its core Islamist ideology, which strives for the establishment of a global caliphate and which advocates violent global jihad as the means to achieve this goal. LeT has a longstanding relationship with Al-Qaeda, and it was among the signatories to Osama Bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa that was issued to mark the creation of the “World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders” – a breathtaking case of codifying antisemitism in the very name of the group.[5]

In a sense, LeT follows the common trait of radical Islamists to claim that Jewish or “infidel” conspiracies are seeking to undermine Islam and Muslims. One of its English-language Taiba Bulletins decried that:

The world of non-believers is united against Islam. This collaboration would prove to be the final destruction of the anti-Muslim elements…Jews and the Crusaders and Hindu Brahmans would die their own trap. Islam will be the sole dominating force in the world.[6]

The LeT’s parent group, Markaz Dawa wal-Irshad (now known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa – JuD), described the threat to Muslims in global terms: “Wherever you look, you will find that non-believers are everywhere trying to enslave Muslims and destroy them”.[7] Qandeel Siddique, a research consultant at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, corroborates this fact: “Since LeT’s inception, its leaders have created a master-slave picture where Hindus, Jews and Christians, are seen ‘trying to enslave Muslims and destroy them’”.[8]

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the longstanding leader of LeT’s parent group, has described Muslims’ “subjugation to the West” as being their utmost problem.[9] And he has also stated that, “Yahood [Jews] and the Hunood [Hindus] are two sides of the same coin”[10]. On a separate occasion, in February 2001, Saeed issued the violent corollary of this statement: “Jihad will continue until the Jews and Hindus throughout the globe meet their worst end”.[11] The operative words here are “throughout the globe”, signifying clearly the international dimension of the cosmic conflict in Lashkar’s worldview.

LeT has also blended its anti-Jewish and anti-Israel rhetoric, making no distinctions. One of Lashkar’s pamphlets, “Why Are We Waging Jihad”, explains that its purpose is to obliterate the “existential enemies of Islam”, which are thought to be the United States, India and Israel.[12] In fact, when the Pakistani government took over the JuD headquarters in Muridke, demonstrators were heard chanting “Death to Israel and Jews” and “Death to America”.[13] Additionally, the March 2007 issue of Bab al-Islam, the JuD’s monthly publication, included a photograph of the Al-Aqsa Mosque with the accompanying text reading, “The Jewish people, frightening plans for the Al-Aqsa mosque”, a false claim of Jewish plots to destroy the site.[14] In the same vein, Abdur Rahman Makki, one of Markaz/JuD’s founders, told the LeT Annual Congregation in 1999 that the, “Jewish occupation of Israel is unjustifiable for the Jews Have nothing to do with the Holy Mosque” (presumably a reference to the Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount). He continued to state that Mohammed and his companions “cleansed this area of Jews”.[15]

Lashkar-e-Taiba’s antisemitic targeting: the Chabad House in Mumbai

India Shooting Holtzberg

Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holzberg, murdered in the Mumbai terror attacks

The impact of LeT’s antisemitic intentionality was brutally demonstrated in November 2008 in Mumbai. The group carefully selected the Chabad-Lubavitch Centre in Nariman House, a synagogue and Jewish centre located in an obscure backstreet of the city, and murdered six Jews in the building. The centre was one of about eleven primary targets selected, and it was almost immediately attacked on the first day of the terror assault. Two out of the ten terrorists – constituting 20 percent[16] of the attackers’ capacity – was directed away from other major targets and was focused specifically on Nariman House. Among the phone conversations Indian intelligence intercepted between the terrorists and their controllers in Pakistan, the LeT handler speaking to one of the attackers in the Chabad centre emphasised the importance of this specific target: “As I told you, every person you kill where you are is worth 50 of the ones killed elsewhere”.[17]

According to the Orthodox Jewish newspaper Hamodia (4 December 2008), Ajmal Kassab, the only terrorist to survive the attack, claimed the two terrorists who laid siege to the Chabad House had previously stayed there under the guise of Malaysian students. Kasab also claimed that the LeT operatives were instructed to target the Chabad House and Israelis “to avenge the atrocities on Palestinians”.[18] LeT’s conflation of Israelis and Jews, and its conspiratorial assumption that their enemies are Jews when they are not, mean that if LeT ascribes a strategic benefit in trying to attack Israelis, they are as likely as not to attack Jews rather than official Israeli installations. Ultimately, targeting Jews or Jewish facilities as “local agents” of Israel, and then attacking them for the alleged behaviour of the Israeli government, is fundamentally an antisemitic notion.

 chabad house

The inside of Chabad House after the attack

David Headley’s hostile surveillance of Chabad Houses in India, 2006-09

Having attended LeT training camps on five separate occasions between 2002 and 2005, David Coleman Headley played a central role in the preparatory stages for the 2008 attack.[19] He acted as a primary information gatherer and attack planner, travelling to Mumbai to conduct extensive surveillance of targets for some time prior to the attack. (In February 2006, he changed his name from Daood Gilani “in order to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani”.[20]) Between 2006 and 2008, he made five extended trips to Mumbai (September 2006, February and September 2007,  April and July 2008), “each time making videotapes of various potential targets, including those attacked in November 2008” and then travelled to Pakistan to share his findings with his co-conspirators and devise attack plans.[21] In performing surveillance around July 2008, he scoped out locations such as the Taj Mahal and Oberoi Hotels – and the Chabad House.[22] In March 2009, he also “made a sixth trip to India to conduct additional surveillance, including of the National Defense College in Delhi, and of Chabad Houses in several cities”.[23]

The Times of India has also reported that Headley performed hostile surveillance on multiple sites throughout India, including synagogues in five Indian cities: Pushkar, Goa, Pune, Mumbai and Paharganj (in Delhi).[24] (Headley also “recced” the El Al office in Mumbai’s Cuffe Parade neighbourhood sometime in 2009.[25]) This was allegedly done as part of a LeT plot to attack them simultaneously. Headley is said to have posed as a Jew on numerous occasions in order to improve his information collection efforts, and he specifically stayed in hotel rooms close to Chabad Houses.[26] In Pushkar, he insisted on staying in a room opposite a synagogue claiming that he was Jewish and explaining that he “wanted holy sight”.

After the 13 February 2010 terror attack at the Germany Bakery in Pune, India, which killed 17 people and injured nearly 60, speculation emerged regarding the possibility that the intended target was once again the local Chabad House.[27] The café-bakery is located several dozen yards away from the Chabad House and close to the Osho Ashram. Indian authorities claimed that Headley had previously “recced” both locations.[28] Initial concerns of Headley gathering information on the ashram, however, were later discounted, and he allegedly focused specifically on the Chabad House. Headley may have stayed in a hotel close to the German Bakery but is not believed to have performed surveillance on it.[29] Assessments vary over whether Chabad was or was not the intended target. According to Ashok Chavan, the chief minister of the Indian state of Maharashtra:

There were intelligence inputs that the Chabad House in Pune could be one of the possible target sites of the terrorists. There was adequate security near the Chabad House. Since the attackers could not break the security, they targeted the German Bakery.[30]

David Headley’s surveillance of a synagogue in Denmark, 2009

Headley and his accomplice, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani-born Canadian citizen, were arrested finally in Chicago in October 2009 for their role in another plot, codenamed the “Mickey Mouse Project”, against Danish newspaper Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten. This involved a plan to attack two different facilities of the newspaper (Copenhagen and Arahus) and to assassinate Flemming Rose, the newspaper’s cultural editor, and Kurt Westergaard, the newspaper’s cartoonist, for their role in the publication of the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in 2005. In an internet discussion group message Headley posted in October 2008, he stated that, “I feel disposed towards violence for the offending parties”, a reference to the newspaper employees.[31] Headley also performed surveillance on a Copenhagen synagogue close to Jyllands-Posten’s office under instructions from an unnamed influential figure in LeT who believed (wrongly) that Rose was Jewish and that he attended that synagogue (again, wrongly). The plot was devised in conjunction with LeT and Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI), another Kashmiri terrorist group banned in Britain. According to the US Department of Justice, when Headley was arrested trying to board a flight out of Chicago, his luggage included surveillance videos of the Jyllands-Posten office and military barracks, and he possessed a book titled How to Pray Like a Jew.

The affidavit specifies:

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.[32]

Lashkar-e-Taiba’s UK connections

Although Headley may not have travelled to the UK in relation to these plots, the links of LeT and other Kashmiri extremist groups in the UK have existed since at least the 1990s. Such connections run the gamut from fundraising[33], to participating in or encouraging others to participate in LeT camps, to providing material support for LeT terrorism.  LeT is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK under the Terrorism Act 2000.[34]

Regarding participation in terrorism, Mohammed Ajmal Khan, for example, was jailed in the UK for nine years in 2006 for his role in “directing a terrorist organisation”, namely LeT, between 29 March 2001 and 1 March 2005. This included buying equipment such as weapons on behalf of LeT. Additionally, British-born terrorists Shazad Tanweer[35], Omar Khaym[36], Dhiren Barot[37] and Richard Reid (aka, the Shoe Bomber)[38] all received training in LeT camps. And since the 1990s, LeT is also reported to have deployed agents to Western countries – with the most active being in the UK – to fundraise and recruit.[39] Indeed, Indian authorities have accused (Mohammed) Raheel Sheikh, who reportedly moved to Britain in 2006, of having a financial role in the July 2006 and November 2008 attacks in Mumbai and was hiding in Birmingham, although this has not been proven.[40]

With respect to an antisemitic component, two cases are especially prominent. Omar Khaym, who was convicted with four others for their role in the fertilizer bomb plot, considered numerous targets, including the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent and the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London. Yet, authorities also found in Khyam’s home a twelve-page list of British synagogues, including in London and Manchester. In the case of Dhiren Barot, he and his co-conspirators planned a series of violent attacks in the US and UK. The US plot focused on American financial institutions and Jewish buildings. In conducting hostile reconnaissance in New York in 2000 and 2001, Barot filmed entrances to buildings, barriers, security cameras, including Jewish buildings and synagogues.[41] (One of Barot’s co-conspirators, Junade Feroze, “came into contact with Barot through the struggle for independence in Kashmir” and spent time between 1999 and 2001 receiving training; but it is not known whether this was at a LeT camp.[42])

Conclusion

Lashkar-e-Taiba certainly poses a significant threat to Western interests. While it primarily focuses its attacks in South Asia, the group has demonstrated an international reach and ambition. Individuals with links to LeT have been arrested in Canada, France, the US, Australia and others; and in February 2010, an Australian court convicted five men, one of whom trained with LeT, for plotting a terrorist act in Sydney.[43] Yet, the case of David Headley, along with LeT-linked British terror plotters and other violent jihadist groups, offer chilling case studies of the importance they attach to attacking Jewish interests, as well as to performing pre-operational hostile surveillance to achieve their objectives. Such reconnaissance, of course, constitutes a genuine threat to all communities. In Britain, the Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) of the Metropolitan Police has established Operation Lightning to protect the country from precisely this kind of suspicious activity. Ultimately, though, such threats offer a sober reminder of the important role that alert citizens, security guards and police play in the fight against terrorism.

  


[1] http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2009/October/09-nsd-1157.html;

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2009/December/09-nsd-1304.html;

http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2009/pr1207_01a.pdf;

http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2009/pr1027_01b.pdf;

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/March/10-ag-277.html; http://counterterrorismblog.org/Headley%20plea%20agreement%20final.pdf

[2] http://security.homeoffice.gov.uk/terrorist-threat/proscribed-terrorist-orgs/proscribed-terrorist-groups/index.html

[3] For detailed general threat assessments on LeT:

http://www.ctc.usma.edu/sentinel/CTCSentinel-Vol2Iss11.pdf;

http://www.icsr.info/news/attachments/1240846916ICSRTankelReport.pdf;

http://www.newsweek.com/id/234265

[4] http://intelligence.senate.gov/100202/blair.pdf

[5] E. Blanche, “Lashkar-e Tayyiba broades its jihad”, Jane’s Terrrorism & Security Monitor, September 2004, p. 13

[6] Taiba Bulletin, 21 October 2001

[7] http://www.sacw.net/DC/CommunalismCollection/ArticlesArchive/sikand20Nov2003.html#_edn29

[8] http://www.mil.no/multimedia/archive/00118/Qandeels_foredrag_1_118041a.pdf

[9] http://www.sacw.net/DC/CommunalismCollection/ArticlesArchive/sikand20Nov2003.html#_edn29

[10] http://www.mil.no/multimedia/archive/00118/Qandeels_foredrag_1_118041a.pdf

[11] Taiba Bulletin, 27 Feb 2001

[12] Quoted in http://www.adl.org/main_Terrorism/Lashkar-e-Taiba.htm?Multi_page_sections=sHeading_4

[13] http://www.mil.no/multimedia/archive/00118/Qandeels_foredrag_1_118041a.pdf

[14] http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/gj_e002.pdf, pg 15

[15] Annual Congregation 1999 of Lashkar-e-Taiba, “Mujahideen will continue Jihad to wipe out oppression and terrorism”, Voice of Islam, December 1999, www.dawacenter.com (link no longer available)

[16] http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/12/the_rabbi_and_the_terrorists.html

[17] Terror in Mumbai, Dispatches (Channel 4), 29 June 2009:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-30/episode-1 and

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/articles/terror-in-mumbai-phone-intercepts

[18] http://www.jta.org/news/article/2008/11/30/1001254/terrorist-we-were-sent-to-target-israelis

[19] http://counterterrorismblog.org/Headley%20plea%20agreement%20final.pdf, pg 3-4

[20] US Department of Justice Press Release (09-1304), http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2009/December/09-nsd-1304.html

[21]  http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/March/10-ag-277.html

[22] http://counterterrorismblog.org/Headley%20plea%20agreement%20final.pdf, pg 8

[23]  http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/March/10-ag-277.html and Plea pg 9

[24] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Headley-plotted-attacks-on-Jewish-centres-in-5-cities/articleshow/5320190.cms

[25] http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/article62517.ece

[26] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Headley-plotted-attacks-on-Jewish-centres-in-5-cities/articleshow/5320190.cms;

http://www.mid-day.com/news/2010/feb/150210-Pune-Germany-Baker-Blast-Chabad-House-Jews.htm;

http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/article62517.ece

[27] http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1149939.html

[28] http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1149514.html;

http://jta.org/news/article/2010/02/14/1010615/indian-bomb-blast-likely-meant-for-chabad;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8514791.stm

[29] http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/article106209.ece?homepage=true

[30] http://www.sakaaltimes.com/SakaalTimesBeta/20100322/5141688006976687454.htm

[31] http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2009/October/09-nsd-1157.html

[32] http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2009/pr1027_01b.pdf, Paragraph 20, Page 7

[33] http://www.satribune.com/archives/mar23_29_03/P1_hides.htm

[34] http://security.homeoffice.gov.uk/terrorist-threat/proscribed-terrorist-orgs/proscribed-terrorist-groups/index.html

[35] http://www.ag.gov.au/agd/WWW/nationalsecurity.nsf/Page/What_Governments_are_doing_Listing_of_Terrorism_Organisations_Lashkar-e-Tayyiba

[36] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6172742.stm;

http://www.icsr.info/news/attachments/1240846916ICSRTankelReport.pdf , Page 11

[37] http://www.ag.gov.au/agd/WWW/nationalsecurity.nsf/Page/What_Governments_are_doing_Listing_of_Terrorism_Organisations_Lashkar-e-Tayyiba;

http://www.icsr.info/news/attachments/1240846916ICSRTankelReport.pdf

[38] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122834970727777709.html

[39] http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=3175

[40] http://www.sundaymercury.net/news/midlands-news/2008/12/14/mumbai-terrorist-believed-to-be-hiding-in-birmingham-66331-22469947/;

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/7-11-accused-raheel-sheikh-held-in-uk/390678/;

http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2325/stories/20061229003211800.htm

[41] http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/prosecution/ctd_2007.html#a02;

http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/press_releases/134_07/;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6122270.stm

[42] http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/archive/2007/06/16/Blackburn+%28blackburn%29/1478891.Terror_plot__dropout_who_became_an_extremist/

[43] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8515632.stm

The Independent: Jewish Lobbies and Grovelling American Presidents

March 25th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

Last year on 14 March 2009 I had a letter published in the Independent newspaper concerning the failure of its commentator, Rupert Cornwell, to distinguish between Israelis, pro-Israelis and Jews when writing of the supposedly oh-so-powerful Lobby. (You know the one, its not really American but it works out of Congress and the White House).

Three months later on 11 June 2009 I had another one published on exactly the same subject, only this time it was the paper’s Washington correspondent David Usborne who had written that President Obama’s “chiding” of Benjamin Netanyahu had risked  

the wrath of the Jewish lobby in the US…Mr Obama showed he is willing, perhaps more than any US president before him, to ignore the Jewish lobby by getting firm with Israel.

My March 09 letter had been sparked by Rupert Cornwell’s description of the pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC as “the Jewish lobby”. Guess what? One year later, another AIPAC conference: and Cornwell is at it again, writing on 24 March of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Washington

Mr Netanyahu’s address to the Jewish lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)

Of course, publishing news about pro-Israel lobbyists is not in itself antisemitic; and it is hardly the fault of Rupert Cornwell or his Independent editors that the notion of the all-powerful Jew lies at the heart of antisemitism. Nevertheless, that is the reality that faces Jews, journalists and editors: particularly when it concerns newspapers that take as passionate an interest in Israel as the Independent does.  This is why my March 09 letter said (in part)

…[The article] was headlined, “Israel lobby blamed as Obama’s choice for intelligence chief quits”. The opening sentence, however, stated, “Fears over the Jewish lobby’s excess influence on US foreign policy flared anew”.

At root, the failure to distinguish between Israelis, pro-Israelis and Jews is the same analytical meltdown that occurs in the minds of those who physically attack and threaten British Jews every time there is a flare-up in the cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. The Independent really ought to do better.

This year, however, neither Cornwell nor the Independent has done any better.

On 18 March 2010, Cornwell alleged that President Obama was failing to stand up to Israel on the subject of construction in disputed Jerusalem. The Independent headlined it as

Rupert Cornwell: Obama won’t restrain Israel – he can’t

His error has been not to think through the clout of America’s pro-Israel lobby

So, President Obama is unable to “restrain Israel”  because he has not reckoned upon “the clout of America’s pro-Israel lobby”. Six days later, Cornwell described AIPAC as “the Jewish lobby group”. (AIPAC being the strongest part of the “pro-Israel lobby” that Obama can’t “restrain”.)   

Cornwell did not buy the excuse that President Obama had a lot of competing matters on his plate right now. Rather, it was because the President had been defeated by the lobby. So much so, in fact, that he would be on the other side of the world – and just as well, perhaps, because as Cornwell concludes

Grovels, even the most elegant grovels, are not an edifying spectacle.

This is the context that Cornwell placed the predicted “grovel” in

…Mr Obama’s defenders now say that if he misplayed his hand, it was because he had too much on his plate…In fact, his greatest error was not to think through the clout of America’s pro-Israel lobby.

When the university professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy in 2007, some intitial reaction was scornful. Critics dismissed the book’s thesis as exaggeration at best, sheer fantasy at worst. There was no sinister lobby, only the instinctive collective sympathy felt towards Israel by ordinary Americans.

But power lies in the perception of power, and no organisation in Washington is perceived to wield more power than AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. For proof, look no further than January 2009, when most of the rest of the world was horrified at the Israeli offensive in Gaza. At that moment the US House of Representatives, by a vote of 390 to five, chose to blame the entire crisis on Hamas.

Now the lobby is working to defuse the present row, naturally on Israel’s terms…

…And there we have it. The settlements in East Jerusalem will go ahead whatever the US thinks…next week AIPAC holds here what it bills as the largest policy conference in its history. The Israeli Prime Minister will be in town to address it, so will Ms Clinton.

President Obama however will be about as far away as possible, on a long-planned visit to Indonesia and Australia. And probably just as well. Grovels, even the most elegant grovels, are not an edifying spectacle.

One week is of course a long time in politics: so six days must be quite a long time also and as we now know, President Obama never made it to Australasia. Instead, witnesses report that he has been repeatedly sighted in Washington, signing health care bills and the like.

The question of President Obama’s grovelling” to Prime Minister Netanyahu remains less clear, however, because as Cornwell notes in his article, “unusually, the White House session was closed to reporters”

Finally, anybody contemplating why the theme of Jewish power is so embedded in antisemitism could do worse than read the web address on the T-shirts worn by these protestors – photographed outside the 2010 AIPAC conference. 

 jewskilledjesus

Nick Griffin and The Four Million Variant

March 24th, 2010 by Dave Rich

Total Politics has published an extensive interview with BNP leader Nick Griffin, which covers a lot of ground. I only want to address one aspect of it: his continued refusal to acknowledge the facts of the Holocaust.

After trying to dodge the question several times, which Iain Dale to his credit does not let him get away with, Griffin comes up with aconvoluted answer based on two misconceptions common to Holocaust Denial narratives: firstly, that he doesn’t understand how the number of 6 million deaths is sustainable, and secondly that he isn’t allowed to say so properly:

I suppose I can tell you that the reasons for my doubts were, specifically with the six million figure. The problem was the way it was used as a moral club to prevent any sensible debate about immigration. That’s the issue. It’s nothing to do with anti-semitism or anything. And there’s been people, including Jews and former concentration camp inmates, who’ve said that aspects of this history have been exaggerated and so on. So that’s the base line. When I was at school, the figure of six million was made up of four million murdered at Auschwitz and two million murdered elsewhere. That’s six million.

Well, that’s not true.

That was the fact as presented to people in the 1970s. Then it emerged that the authorities of Auschwitz downgraded the scale of the murders there from four million to a still shattering and appalling 1.1 million. So you’re 2.9 million short.

There were lots of other death camps, not just Auschwitz.

No, the figure of six million came from the idea that in all the other death camps and elsewhere, two million died and in Auschwitz there were four million gassed and cremated – that’s where the figure was made up from. Take the noughts off. If you have six and take away 2.9, do you still have six?

No one would say where they came from. All they would do is persecute anyone who said six, take away 2.9, does not equal six. They were put in prison, beaten, had their houses firebombed, driven from their jobs. That greatly offended me and made me take up the issue of their behalf. But what I will say now is I believe that the evidence that came from British intelligence of German operations behind the lines on the Eastern front makes it quite possible to believe that a million people were shot to death on anti-partisan warfare, mainly as hostages and that the Germans, naturally enough, didn’t pick white Russian or Belarussian peasants, who were quite often on their side. They picked the local Jewish community because most of the partisans were Jewish, which again you can’t really be surprised about, as it’s one of these cycles of horror. So therefore, you are no longer missing the 2.9. You are missing nearly two million. That’s all. It would be interesting to be told where they come from. But because the powersthat- be are so convinced that it’s true and have passed laws to say that it’s true, and because it is irrelevant and because it’s deliberately misunderstood, anyone who questions this is held up as anti-semitic. Whereas, it’s nothing to do with antisemitism at all. It’s about the rights of free speech, or the right of the states and powerful vested interest groups, to prevent free speech. That’s what it’s actually about. But because everyone’s misunderstood or it leads one to jail, I have no doubt whatsoever that the others, the missing ones, must have been there so clearly the six million figure is correct.

In fact, like much of what comes out of Griffin’s mouth, this is nonsense. As just a few minutes Google searching will show, most serious historians of the Holocaust have put the Auschwitz death toll at around the one million mark since the 1960s, and none have been accused of antisemitism. The Anti-Defamation League website explains:

Holocaust-denial attacks on this record of mass murder intensified following the end of the Cold War when it was reported that the memorial at Auschwitz was changed in 1991 to read that 1 million had died there, instead of 4 million as previously recorded. For Holocaust deniers, this change appeared to confirm arguments that historical estimates of Holocaust deaths had been deliberately exaggerated, and that scholars were beginning to “retreat” in the face of “revisionist” assertions. Thus, for example, Willis Carto wrote in the February 6, 1995, issue of The Spotlight, the weekly tabloid of his organization, Liberty Lobby, that “All ‘experts’ until 1991 claimed that 4 million Jews were killed at Auschwitz. This impossible figure was reduced in 1991. . . to 1.1 million. . . . The facts about deaths at Auschwitz, however. . , are still wrong. The Germans kept detailed records of Auschwitz deaths. . . These show that no more than 120,000 persons of all religions and ethnicity died at Auschwitz during the war. . . .”   

In fact, Western scholars have never supported the figure of 4 million deaths at Auschwitz; the basis of this Soviet estimate — an analysis of the capacity of crematoria at Auschwitz and Birkenau — has long been discredited. As early as 1952, Gerald Reitlinger, a British historian, had convincingly challenged this method of calculation. Using statistics compiled in registers for Himmler, he asserted that approximately 1 million people had died at Auschwitz; Raul Hilberg in 1961, and Yehuda Bauer In 1989, confirmed Reitlinger’s estimate of Auschwitz victims. Each of these scholars, nonetheless, has recognized that nearly 6 million Jews were killed overall during the Holocaust.23  Polish authorities were therefore responding to long-accepted Western scholarship, further confirmed subsequently by documents released in post-Soviet Russia; the cynical allegations of “Holocaust revisionism” played no part in their decision. 

Far from Griffin’s current position being an acknowledgement of the Holocaust, it is in fact, just another form of Holocaust Denial, which the Nizkor website calls ‘The Four Million Variant’:

Holocaust deniers often misstate a historical fact to confuse and confound an otherwise naïve reader, and the “Four Million Variant” is no exception. Each piece of this denier puzzle is flawed, from the contention that the number killed at Auschwitz was protected as an “irrefutable fact” to the existence of some cabal that slanders all those who question this figure.

Deniers often use the “Four Million Variant” as a stepping stone to leap from an apparent contradiction to the idea that the Holocaust was a hoax, again perpetrated by a conspiracy. They hope to discredit historians by making them seem inconsistent. If they can’t keep their numbers straight, their reasoning goes, how can we say that their evidence for the Holocaust is credible? One must wonder which historians they speak of, as most have been remarkably consistent in their estimates of a million or so dead.

In short, all of the denier’s blustering about the “Four Million Variant” is a specious attempt to envelope the reader into their web of deceit, and it can be discarded after the most rudimentary examination of published histories.

Is everyone Jewish on Google?

March 22nd, 2010 by CST

A few weeks ago there was outrage in certain areas of the blogosphere about the suggested results given by Google when the terms “Arabs are” and “why do Arabs” is typed into the search engine.  These posts have generally accused Google and/or its users of racism because some of the results that come back are quite insulting:

why do arabs

Typing in “are Muslims” or “are Jews” produces similar sets of results with some, but not all, derogatory answers:

are muslims

are jews

(On a side note, the penultimate result regarding Dubai is not a by-product of the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh; it came up as a suggestion before that story broke.)

One curiosity that emerged during our research concerns the fascination with whether or not people are Jewish.  One suggestion in the search that consistently appears is the supposed Jewishness of prominent individuals.  For example, taking a selection of leading British politicians:

is gordon brown

is tony blair

is david cameron

It also applies to American politicians:

is george bush

is sarah palin

is barak obama

(Oddly, this last search does not produce the “is…jewish” result if you spell “Barack” correctly, but only if you spell it “Barak”.)

It even applies to foreign politicians, past and present, who really ought to be exempt from this kind of speculation:

is ahmadinejad2

is hitler2

The list goes on……

 is rupert murdoch

And on

is tom cruise2

And on

is hugh grant2

Have we missed a memo? Was there a mass conversion? Or is there something else going on here? Just how does Google create these suggestion lists? What formula is it based upon? It obviously isn’t on size as you can see from the examples above – the result numbers given range from 90,000 to the hundreds of millions in one search and they are not listed in size order.

Even those people who are not significant or high profile enough to warrant ten results do not escape this peculiar obsession:

is david irving

Auschwitz theft convictions

March 18th, 2010 by Dave Rich

One of the more disturbing antisemitic crimes of recent times is approaching a resolution:

A Polish court has convicted three men for stealing the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign from the former Auschwitz death camp last December.

The trio were given jail sentences ranging up to two-and-a-half years.

The court in Krakow said the men had admitted the theft, and so the case did not have to go to trial.

Two other Poles remain in custody over the theft of the 5m (16ft) wrought-iron sign, which was quickly recovered and found cut into three pieces.

It had been half-unscrewed, half-torn from above the memorial site’s gate.

The authorities in Stockholm said last week that a Swedish former neo-Nazi, who allegedly instigated the theft, will be extradited to Poland to face trial.

 

_46949348_aushwitzsig466

Perspectives on antisemitism

March 16th, 2010 by Dave Rich

A new CST publication, Perspectives on antisemitism (pdf), brings together the thoughts and ideas of some of the members of CST’s Advisory Board about antisemitism, racism, society and CST’s work.

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks:

Antisemitism may begin with Jews, but it never ends with them. The reason is that, in essence, it is hatred of difference – of those who, like Jews, do not fit the stereotypes of normality, whose faith or colour or culture or history is not that of the majority. Yet difference is the essence of our humanity. It is what makes each person, each group, unique and therefore irreplaceable. So an assault on Jews is an assault on our shared humanity, and a danger to us all.

Chief Constable Peter Fahy:

Hate crime is a complex policing issue, not least because its root causes are often more complex than a simple theft or assault. Reducing hate crime demands education and a change of attitude; things which sometimes take generations to achieve.

Sir Walter Bodmer:

…there is no biological justification for racial categorisation, and so for racial discrimination at the individual level simply according to a person’s origins. We should all be treated as individuals, whatever our particular origins or genetic make-up. Racism and antisemitism, or any other discrimination based on a person’s origins, simply have no objective rationale.

Baroness Verma:

Communities can change considerably when the message of peace starts early and remains a thread by which we all are tied. Impacts of what happens in other places will always play a role in our lives, but to what extent we use it as a lever for progress or destruction lies in our hands.

Sir Martin Gilbert:

Churchill was once asked to say what he thought the future had in store. He answered, wisely: ‘The future, though imminent, is obscure.’

CST has to penetrate that obscurity with a bright light. We are all of us the safer as a result of its efforts.

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