Thursday 30 May 2019

If Corbyn was Jewish he would be a Bundist

The transparent motive behind this cynical campaign is to demonize Corbyn, not because he's a 'fucking anti-semite' (Margaret Hodge), but because he's a principled champion of Palestinian rights. PROF NORMAN G FINKELSTEIN
This demonisation has centred around charges that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite, who in the words of the former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “has given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate”, adding, “Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite as the leader of the Labour Party and Her Majesty’s Opposition.”
      One of those countries where anti-semitism is growing is Victor Orban's Hungary. Wait a minute. Orban was recently an honoured guest of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government.
      In our own country The Middle East Forum, a pro-Israel conservative think tank were funding Nazi Tommy Robinson when he was in prison. In the words of their Director, Gregg Roman, who has worked in Israel's Defence and Foreign Ministries, “We are helping Robinson in his moment of danger ... to fund his legal defence … and bringing foreign pressure on the UK government to ensure Mr. Robinson’s safety and eventual release ...”
      MEF previously funded far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ legal defence, against Dutch charges of inciting racial hatred.
Despite knowing all this, we must prove that we are not anti-semitic before we criticise Zionism or Israel. Let’s do it.
      My father was one of the first Allied doctors to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The photos he made there, and later showed me of the skeletal prisoners, scarred my young mind. It was those haunting pictures that led me to a lifetime of anti-fascism. As a teenager I took part in street fights with the British Movement, forerunners of the British National Party, the National Front and today's Israeli-backed Nazi, Tommy Robinson.
      But my opposition to Zionism now makes me 'anti-semitic.” 
I am in good company. Albert Einstein said, “The (Israeli) state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed … I believe it is bad.”
      Primo Levi, a survivor of Auschwitz, said, “Everyone has their Jews and for the Israelis they are the Palestinians”.
      Then there is Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising. In a letter in support of the Palestine resistance, he compared them to ZOB, the Jewish fighters in Warsaw and greeted them thus, “Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations.”
      If alive today Einstein, Levi and Edelman would stand accused of anti-semitism.
      So who are the Zionists? Founder of Zionism at the end of the 19th century and a proponent of a Jewish homeland was Theodor Herzl. He was an admirer of the British Empire and wrote to Cecil Rhodes, he of the white settler colony named after him, Rhodesia, “You are being invited to help make history … it does not involve Africa but a piece of Asia Minor, not Englishmen but Jews … I turn to you … because it is something colonial ..”
      Chaim Weizmann, who suceeded Herzl, wrote to the Manchester Guardian: “Should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence and should they encourage Jewish settlement … we could develop the country, bring back civilisation and form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal.”
      Of the contemporary Zionists we should not forget the Evangelical Christian Right. Prayers at the US Embassy, on the day Trump moved it to Jerusalem, were delivered by Robert Jeffries, a Dallas megachurch pastor who said Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral land.
      Amongst the first Jews who opposed Zionism were those who set up the Jewish Bund in Poland and Russia. They stressed the four principles of, socialism, secularism, Yiddish and doyikayt or “localness.” Doyikayt was encapsulated in the Bund slogan: “There, where we live, that is our country.”
The way charges of anti-semitism are being
used in Britain to undermine the Corbyn-led
Labour Party is not only a disgrace, but also an
insult to the memory of the victims of the

      “We Bundists”, wrote one of their early leaders, Viktor Alter, “wish to shatter the existing economic frameworks and show the Jewish masses how a new society can be built not by escape, but by struggle. We link the essence of the Jewish masses’ life to that of humankind.”

My support for the Palestinian cause is fiercer
because I am Jewish. MIRIAM MARGOLYES

      Their contemporaries can be found in Jewish Voice for Labour, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Peace and in the words of Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Miriam Margolyes and Alexei Sayle.
      If opposition to Israel is a definition of anti-semitism then add me to this list along with Corbyn’s mum and my dad. She was blocking Mosley’s fascists at Cable Street in the 1930s, while the Daily Mail, who are today leading the demands for Corbyn to resign as Labour leader, was lauding Mussolini and Hitler.
      It's long past time to call out these people for who they are.
                                          No PasarĂ¡n!

The propaganda that's thrown against Jeremy
Corbyn is digraceful. Until he appeared you
had to vote for one kind of Oxbridge twat or
another, people who all go to the same dinner

Sunday 19 May 2019

Robin Beste - tribute and funeral notice

I first met Robin at the Stop the War Coalition. Like me, he had completed his working years and was happy to spend many hours as a political activist.
Outside office hours, I liked my pints and curries, music and a good film. Robin only had interest in the last two. He seemed to regard eating as a necessity and drank nothing stronger than tap water.
When I watched him open his lunch box of biscuits and cheese, waving his hand to reject the offer of coffee the rest of us tanked up on, I wondered if he'd always lived such a spartan existence. It did cross my mind that he might have left behind a once-dissolute life filled with drunken evenings and ribald songs, leaving him like those medieval hermit-monks who retreated to their caves to do penance.
Robin never spoke much about his life before arriving in London as a teacher, but when he did, he dropped the odd clue. When I told him I had been a devotee of The Pretty Things and found The Rolling Stones too tame, he said The Pretty Things had played at the club he once ran. When I said I had seen Muddy Waters on his London visits, it turned out that Robin, too, had been there. 'Chuck Berry in 1964 at the 100 Club?' Yes that too.
When I told him I was unable, post-stroke, to play my guitar he recommended I get myself a harmonica. There then followed a detailed email with suggestions of where to buy my Hohner Marine Band in C and suggestions for the best online tutorials with links.
Despite our shared love of Blues and Rock 'n Roll, we disagreed about Scott Walker. Robin said that he was a fan of his “in all his incarnations, including his later avant-garde albums”.
Robin was always the 'go to' person for me on what films to watch. He was a devotee of American film noir and would send me emails with lists of 'not to be missed' films. I did watch Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep, but confess that I still have a long list of films to be ticked off his recommendations. I promise him, posthumously, to track them down and view.
At his prodding I occasionally wrote for Public Reading Rooms. Among my contributions was A Face to be Punched about Boris Johnson. Recently he tried to get me to review The Deceit Syndrome written by Paul Hobday. Google Books says, “Becoming more and more alarmed about the extra misery and sickness he sees on a daily basis, his concern turns to anger when he realises this is a direct result of Government policy.” Robin said about it, “Even as a graduate with a degree in English literature, I'm obviously not the person to do this review.” At 600+ pages and on a subject I am over qualified to comment on I agreed. I turned the job down. This was not a task for me either.
Despite my occasional refusals, Robin and PRR would promote articles I had written for other online publications and generously offered me a sales platform for my memoir, Left Field.
When I was in hospital after my heart operation and again after my stroke, Robin would visit me. I was to find out later that he too had a heart 'condition' but he rarely spoke about himself and was more eager to bring his politics to my bedside for discussion.
Our political 'platforms' had taken the same route as our music; ex-SWPers but never anti those we recognised as involved in the same fight. With Jewish ancestry he was incensed by the Zionist attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and helped me with my article for The London Economic on the plight of Julian Assange. I will miss him badly from these ongoing struggles.
A few weeks after Mick Jagger had a heart operation, Robin wrote to me, “Being rich, the procedure was by trans-catheter aortic valve replacement. The technique was used to cure Tony Blair of the condition. I have atrial fibrillation. Not being rich, I was refused the procedure under the NHS.”
That was the first I knew he shared heart problems with me. We were in that fight together as well. I am so sad that he lost that one so tragically.
RecentIy I have lost a few friends to that ‘dark night’, but Robin's parting has been exceptional. When I look at his photo I not only see the man, I hear him speaking. And I cry. Something else exceptional. Manuela tells me that one minute after his last child, his son Sam, joined Manuela and his sisters at Robin's bedside, he died. They say he had been unconscious for several days with no electrical activity in his brain. Really?
I used to ring him two or three times a week. Although our conversations started with the political struggle they soon moved on to music. I enjoyed interacting with his caustic sense of humour which made him seem curmudgeonly to some people. But once your metaphoric eyes adjusted to his emotional headlights you became aware of a wonderful soul who was trying to take those around him out of a very dark tunnel. He was, in fact, lighting and enlightening the way. I will miss his headlights.
Robin is survived by his wife Manuela, daughters Dany and Alice and son Sam. Unlike Robin and me, Sam doesn't just talk music. He was a keyboard player for Amy Winehouse and today performs with his own group, Hejira.
Anne and I send our love, our condolences and our tears to them all.
I never asked Robin if he liked Lennon's'Imagine' – but I know he would have agreed with the lyrics. After all, he lived them. I can see him walking beside these two down that path, but he would have turned back at the door and refused the offer of a drink. Watch this, listen and think of this dear friend of mine.

Tuesday 11th June 2019, 11:00 - 13:00

The West Chapel, Golders Green Crematorium  62 Hoop Lane Golders Green LONDON NW1 1 7NL
No flowers. Donations to Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP) - a cause dear to Robin’s heart. 

If attending please email -