Monthly Archives: August 2011

A little on Hamas

B’Tselem is a well-respected (current Israeli government aside, perhaps) human rights group in Israel. Here it reports on rocket and mortar fire on Israelis by Palestinians from Gaza. Those firing on Israel often do so from heavily populated areas, demonstrating a disregard for Palestinian lives as well as a murderous intent towards Israelis. Rockets and mortars are always illegal, because imprecise.

For southern Israelis there is more danger from missiles since Israel evacuated the Gaza strip. Greens are good at imagining and sympathising with the effects attacks on civilians have on Palestinian politics. It doesn’t take much imagination to work out the political climate which easily arises from indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians. While I have nothing but admiration for those who insist on a Israeli narrative other than fear, there’s no ignoring or excusing these Palestinian attacks on Israelis. Their small scale makes them no less a war crime.

Hamas is a religious nationalist organisation – Muslim Palestinians always come first. Its leadership in exile is based in Damascus. So when the forces of Syrian head of state Bashar al-Assad rampaged through the Syrian Palestinian ghetto of Latakia, Hamas’ subsequent poor display of support for al-Assad alienated the ayatollahs who fund it. Intelligence suggests that Iranian military support for Hamas has dried up. There are reports that it has not paid its employees.

All this is troubling in itself, and also because, as Israeli Green Gershon Baskin observes, Hamas is emerging as a relatively moderate force in Gaza. This is the same Hamas which is ideologically committed to Israel’s destruction and is the opposite of a moderate force by measures we in Britain would like to carry on taking for granted – for example, criminal justice, treatment of minority groups, or separation of religious and legal institutions. However, according to Baskin, Hamas is not ordering the missiles fired on Israel at the current time. They’re not calling the shots.


Surprised to find that this post has been received – at least by a few readers – as an apology for Hamas. Perhaps I put something in the wrong terms. Hamas, being religious nationalist, can never be a force for good. But to flesh out the claim above that it is rivalled by even more violent and fundamentalist groups in the strip, let me refer readers to this 2010 Economist piece on Salafist movements in Gaza. Read it and worry.

Censorship on the International List

Jacob Sanders (Southwark Green Party) is invariably civil and to-the-point. The following post, protesting Green Party endorsement, through platform sharing, of genocidal antisemites,  is characteristic. So why did the moderator of the Green Party International List censor him?


It is generally accepted on the progressive wing of politics that it is never justified to share platforms with advocates of genocide. There may be occasions when it is right to debate with such people for the purpose of exposing their politics – as was argued when Griffin appeared on Question Time. To participate in a shared platform with advocates of genocide without making any attempt to confront them can only serve to assist in their aim of normalising their disordered values or promoting a perception that they are not really be as bad as they in fact are.

Your assessment of ‘at least some’ doubt about the Green Party’s problems in this regard would not be very encouraging, but in fact even that is overoptimistic. The sad truth is that there is no doubt at all.

The question of guilt by association is not relevant here. There is no suggestion that a person is an advocate of genocide or antisemitism because they share a platform with someone in that category, rather that the platform-sharing is itself wrong. Receiving stolen goods is not the same as theft, but it is an offence nevertheless because it facilitates the crime of theft.

I doubt whether I would agree with the comments of the television interviewees you refer to, and I certainly oppose the attempt to outlaw advocacy of a boycott – but these are different issues.



On the Green Party’s International List

Reproduced with permission of its author (Jacob Sanders of Southwark Green Party), below is one example of what is required pretty much continuously, if there is to be a chance of disrupting the astonishing double standards about Israel which are advanced on the Green Party’s International List, and the barely veiled slurs against those who protest them. To call the rigidly anti-Zionist moderator insensitive would be an extreme understatement.


I hope you are right in your belief that there are not many in the Green
Party who would endorse the extremes of any religion.  Regrettably, though,
there have been occasions when party members have shared platforms with
Islamists known for advocacy of genocidal antisemitism, causing real concern
to other members and supporters.  Two features of the extreme left in this
country have been 1) a willingness to make common cause with oligarchs of
that stamp and 2) a marked interest in one seventh of one percent of the
Middle East (Israel), decontextualised due to an unwillingness to understand
anything about the other ninety-nine and six sevenths percent.  It is
reasonable to suggest a link between these two failings, and
to advocate that the Green Party should not follow the WRP road.

I have noticed the appearance of news listings regarding the Middle East in
general, but these don’t seem to be much more than evening news type
roundups, devoid of analysis or proposals for action.  If terror groups with
the same values as Al-Shabaab succeed in taking over what is now Israel and
impose unending terror there, will we then say ‘no western democracy can be
found guilty of this, so we’ll just ignore it’?