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Thursday, 22 June 2017

What a surprise – Jewish kids in America don’t go a bundle on racism, murder and torture!

It’s an ill wind that blows no good.  Despite the adoption of the new fake definition of anti-Semitism and the attempt to depict anti-Zionism as anti-Semitic, the truth has a way of getting through.  The American Jewish community is the most valuable to Israel, since it does its diplomatic bidding as well as helping to fund the pariah state.

 What a surprise it must therefore be to Israel’s veteran propagandists, the Hasbarists who cry ‘anti-Semitism’ at the drop of a hat, that young American Jews no longer feel an affinity with Zionism and Israel’s racial nationalism.  Settling other people’s land, seeing the vast disparity between poor Palestinian peasants and the rich and lush settlements isn’t a winner amongst progressive young
Jews.  The far-Right messianism that believes in a racially pure Israel and building a 3rd temple as the way to encourage the return of the Messiah doesn’t hold too much attraction to secular Jewish kids.
The alliance with the anti-Semitic Christian fundamentalists like Pastor John Hagee of Christian United for Israel isn’t a vote winner either.

It seems to have finally dawned on Brand Israel that being high tech savvy when you treat Palestinians as the untermenschen isn’t necessarily a winner.  The author
Instead of stating dry facts, professionals must highlight Israel’s decency, morality and the diversity of the Israeli society in general'.   This is an act of self-deception.  Israel is a society where a plurality of Jews support the physical expulsion of Israel's Palestinians and where 'Death to the Arabs' is the favourite chant of the Right.

Brand Israel Group raises the alarm on a widening gap in the US between older supporters and the increasingly pro-Palestinian next generation

More than a decade ago, a diverse focus group of Americans was asked to describe a typical Italian house. Words like “lush, food, cooking, maternal, welcoming” quickly rolled of the tongue. The same group was asked about an Israeli home and a very different vibe was described: “concrete, strict, ultra-religious, middle-aged ultra-Orthodox men.”

This 2005 focus group was commissioned to explore the underlying image of Israel in the American psyche. The unanimous perception was a conflict-driven country filled with religious fundamentalists.

Not exactly a country they were keen on visiting — or supporting.

The loose consortium of volunteer marketing and advertising executives who commissioned the study now falls under the Brand Israel Group (BIG) rubric. While each member of this heterogeneous Mad Men coalition had his or her own reasons for wishing to change Americans’ innate view of Israel, for Fern Oppenheim, co-founder of Brand Israel Group, her tipping point came after the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks.

The child of Holocaust survivors, Oppenheim said she awoke from her sense of Jewish security that day. “I never thought I’d smell smoke living in New York,” she said in Jerusalem this week.

In this September 11, 2001, file photo, thick smoke billows into the sky from the area behind the Statue of Liberty, lower left, where the World Trade Center towers stood. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)
Her safety bubble popped, Oppenheim decided to throw her support — and skills — behind Israel. With her extensive marketing and management background at such companies as Kraft/General Foods, Oppenheim began to use her professional prowess to help the Jewish state, which she calls “the canary in the coal mine.”

The team had a revolutionary approach: Instead of the Jewish community’s typical “shooting from the hip,” said Oppenheim, the high-level marketing execs “rolled up their sleeves to get a research-based understanding” of mainstream Americans’ perceptions of Israel, and only then to create a strategy based on their research.

Since its initial coalescence in 2002, Brand Israel has commissioned a large-scale segmentation study in 2010 and a followup in 2016. For anyone with the slightest Zionist impulse, the downward slope of Israel support is disturbing.

While in Israel to present the recent 2016 BIG segmentation study, “Sounding the Alarm: The American-Israeli Relationship,” Oppenheim repeatedly used the word “devastating” — each time without hyperbole.
At UOIT outside Toronto, Students for Justice in Palestine activists staff their information table, 2016 (UOIT’s SJP chapter Facebook page)
In sum, the gap between Israel-supporters and detractors is widening. The current Israel advocacy programs are not working, and Jewish college students are the leading defectors from Israel support.
‘The future of America no longer believe that Israel shares their values’

Mainstream Americans are not starting from a neutral perspective on Israel; rather, they begin with misperceptions and negative assumptions. This creates “fertile ground” for delegitimization, said Oppenheim, who also spoke this week at the prestigious annual Herzliya Conference.

The 2016 segmentation study’s data shows that the current campaign of depicting the Israel beyond the conflict — specifically, highlighting high-tech achievements — is not effective. In fact, the more the study participants knew about Israel, the less favorably they felt about the country.

According to the report’s executive summary, since 2010, claimed knowledge of Israel has increased 14 percentage points nationally (from 23% to 37%) and is up among every demographic group (except for college students, where it is down 16 percentage points, from 50% to 34%). These increases, however, have not translated into increased favorability, which is down 14 percentage points (from 76% to 62%) nationally and by large margins across the board.
Fern Oppenheim, the co-founder of Brand Israel Group, ‘The paradigm of Israel beyond the conflict is not the right paradigm for capturing hearts and souls.’ (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)
“The paradigm of Israel beyond the conflict is not the right paradigm for capturing hearts and souls,” she said.

The key is to emphasize common values. To change an attitude about Israel, the camera needs to be pulled back to show the full face of the country and its people, she said. When Israel is an issue, and not a country filled with an incredibly diverse population, the field is open for boycott campaigns and other delegitimizing efforts.

Shared values have been the bedrock of the American-Israeli relationship. Without this connection, the future of the alliance is in jeopardy,” claims the BIG group. And the biggest value gap is between core Israel supporters — basically older, wealthier, more conservative, whiter Americans — and those who are labeled as “at-risk” — younger, minorities, liberals.

The picture is even more dire when looking at the next generation of potential Jewish leadership. Between the 2010 and the 2016 surveys, Jewish college students dropped 27 percentage points on the question of whether they lean towards the Israeli side.

This is explained, said Oppenheim, by a perceived lack of shared values between the ultra-liberal Jewish college student and Israel.
On December 15, 2015, more than 300 Jewish activists in Boston marched for the Black Lives Matter movement, including members of Jewish Voice for Peace (photo credit: Ignacio Laguarda/Wicked Local)

“The future of America no longer believe that Israel shares their values. This is huge! Devastating,” she said.

According to the survey, 31% of Jewish students reported experiencing anti-Semitism; of that bunch, 59% say it was related to anti-Israel attitudes. But these experiences generally do not sway their opinions of Israel.

“The Jewish college student is the only group more favorable to Palestinians” now, rising 18 percentage points between 2010 and 2016, she said.

Much of this change she blamed on the rise of “intersectionality” on campuses. There is no longer nuance in campus conversations about Israel, she said. Instead, the “atmosphere is oppressor versus victim. Israel is just another symbol of this.”

Despite the plethora of organizations, campus advocacy does not appear to reach these students’ hearts. Using a morbid example, she said, “No one didn’t think that [Nazi “Angel of Death” Josef] Mengele wasn’t a brilliant scientist. But he was a monster. We need to drill down that Israelis are people” — not just high-tech geniuses.

We are allowing Israel to be defined by its detractors,” she emphasized.
Israeli military medics assist wounded Syrians on April 6, 2017. Seven wounded Syrians who crossed into Israel on Thursday night received immediate treatment and were hospitalized. They are the latest group of Syrians receiving free medical care through an Israeli military program operating since 2013. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
Instead of stating dry facts, professionals must highlight Israel’s decency, morality and the diversity of the Israeli society in general — and in the context of the conflict — to be heard.

To give one example, former head of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh sent his granddaughter to Israel “because Israel is too decent to turn her away. People need to know this,” said Oppenheim.
In terms of practical solutions, Oppenheim suggested increasing the number of people who visit Israel at a younger age, and even starting prophylactic Birthright-Taglit trips before university.


“The sands under our feet are shifting,” said Oppenheim. “It is clear that the divide in our community is here for the next generation.”

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Labour Friends of Israel & the Zionists are Set to Relaunch False ‘Anti-Semitism’ Campaign

Israel’s Supporters and the JLM are not happy with the election results
Al Jazeera under cover reporter captures Joan  Ryan MP making a joke about a corrupt £1m payment intended to destabilise Corbyn

ex-Blairite Home Office Minister MP Joan Ryan leads attack on Corbyn.  Ryan's only claim to fame was claiming the second largest expenses in 2005/6 and coming top of the expenses league the following year!  Voted out in 2010 she spent much of the time getting people to delete critical references to her expenses on Wikipedia
Most people in the Labour Party are delighted that instead of a Nick Cohen meltdown [Don’t tell me you weren’t warned about Corbyn] Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership gained over 40%, the highest vote since 2001 and the largest increase of any party since Attlee in 1945.  I said most people, not all people.  Even sections of the Right, Owen Smith, Chuku Ummuna and even Peter Mandelson paid tribute to Jeremy Corbyn and ate generous helpings of humble pie.
Jeremy Newmark sits side by side with Mark Regev, Netanyahu's personal PR man, who justified the massacre of 2200 Palestinians in Gaza 2 years ago
However there were some people who were bitterly disappointed. They had been hoping to launch a volley of venomous attacks on ‘Corbyn the loser’ as soon as the polls closed.  People like Joan Ryan MP, the Chair of Labour Friends of Israel had made it clear during the election that she preferred pro-Zionist Theresa May to Corbyn. Jeremy Newmark, the Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement and the defeated candidate in Finchley and Golders Green, must have gone to bed a bitter and disappointed man.  All his good work undermining Corbyn had been undone at a stroke by this youth rebellion.

Labour Friends of Israel and Jewish Labour Movement MPs and candidates consistently attacked Jeremy Corbyn during the election campaign and said vote for them despite Corbyn.  Not just the execrable Joan Ryan but Hove’s Peter Kyle, Wes Streeting and Jeremy Newmark. Loyalty to Apartheid Israel is far more important to them than a Labour win in Britain.

Things have gone quiet on the ‘anti-Semitism’ front of late.  What with the General Election and the terrorist attacks and now the awful tragedy of the Grenfell Tower, the fake ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign has gone quiet.  We haven’t even had any news about ‘Labour anti-Semitism’. I no longer have to look over my shoulder before going out in the morning in case someone is about to attack me!


Tulip Siddiq is one of the pro-Israel MPs trying to reignite the fake anti-Semitism campaign
Unlike the atrocious attack on Finsbury Road mosque and the massive increase in Islamaphobic attacks in the wake of the recent terrorism attacks, Jews have it pretty good. They are a small, relatively prosperous white minority.  Anti-Semitism is a marginal phenomenon, which exists mainly on social media where one nut can create a storm. When anti-Semitism was a problem in Britain, in the 1930’s and immediately after the war, then it was the same Tories who today love Israel who barred Jews from their golf clubs and believed they were an alien minority.

It is because of the lack of real anti-Semitism that the Zionist lobby has decided to try and rekindle the false and fake ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign.  Zionism has no problem with genuine anti-Semitism.  On the contrary it has historically welcomed it because without anti-Semitism there would not have been enough immigrants for Israel.

The success of Jeremy Corbyn in turning the Tory tide is making these racists sick to the gills which is why they are trying to relaunch the false ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign in the hope of dividing the Party, sowing dissent and providing succour to the Tories.  False anti-Semitism and false victimhood are their chosen strategy for defending a state which demolishes Palestinian homes, even of Israel’s own Arab citizens in order to make way for Jewish homes and towns. 
In Israel ‘Judification’ is official policy.  Google ‘The Koenig Plan’ or the ‘Prawer Plan’.  In Nazi Germany they had deJewification campaigns.  Israel is a state which officially does its best to stop Jews and Arabs having sexual relationships.  A Jewish state means a Jewish Supremacist State.  It isn’t a constitutional adornment.  Purity of race and a Jewish settler state goes hand in hand.  This is what Ryan, Kyle and Newmark are defending.

It is essential that if there is a further round of false ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations that Jeremy Corbyn stands firm and calls it out.  There is no future in trying to appease the supporters of Israel.  You cannot appease racists or the supporters of racism.  If Corbyn had, at the very start, said that yes he condemns anti-Semitism and he also condemns false accusations of anti-Semitism directed against supporters of the Palestinians (and even against Jewish anti-Zionists) then he could have defused these attacks early on. 
Corbyn above all knows that the ritual response of Zionism’s supporters to opposition to Israel and what it does to the Palestinians has always been false accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’.  They even invented a  ‘new anti-Semitism’ since the traditional anti-Semitism (hatred or hostility to Jews) didn’t accord with hatred of racist Israel.

Nothing Corbyn says or does will ever satisfy Israel’s supporters.  They are part of the NATO supporting friends of US imperialism.  Corbyn will never be acceptable to them which is why the Left in the Labour Party needs to be resolute in opposing any further appeasement of these people.  If they think the Labour Party is anti-Semitic then they should clear off and join the Tory Party, the traditional home of genuine anti-Semitism.

Read Asa Winstanley’s important article below from Electronic Intifada


Tony Greenstein 

The Jewish Chronicle edited by ex-Express editor Jonathan Pollard, is up to its old tricks - Jeremy Corbyn is apparently a liability.

Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan, center, suggested Theresa May would be a better prime minister than Jeremy Corbyn. (Facebook)

“I was wrong about Jeremy Corbyn” said failed Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith the day after the UK general election.

Corbyn gained 30 seats for Labour despite media predictions he could lose as many as 80.
In so doing, Corbyn denied Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May her majority – a triumph for Labour relative to the consensus that the party was heading for disaster.
This was the message of Jewish Labour Movement - don't support Corbyn - the Zionists are now sick over the result
Smith’s line summed up the general attitude of Corbyn’s critics in the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Three-quarters of them called for him to go last year, in a failed coup which was swiftly followed by Smith’s leadership challenge.

But in the wake of last week’s unexpected electoral gains, once-critical Labour lawmakers and political commentators have lined up to eat some of the same humble pie as Smith. In a gesture of reconciliation, Corbyn brought Smith back into the Shadow Cabinet this week.

Some hardliners, however, have rejected Corbyn’s outstretched hand – none more so than the party’s internal Israel lobby.
Jeremy Newmark, Chair of JLM and failed candidate in Finchley & Golders Green - branded a liar by an Employment Tribunal in Fraser v University Colleges Union
Making demands

Writing in the right-wing Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday, Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan demanded that Corbyn cut ties with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to prove Labour is a “credible party of government.”

Ryan’s demands are extraordinary, especially since she used the general election campaign to bad-mouth her own party and its leader.

The PSC responded to Ryan, saying that “our values are those of principled respect for the human rights of everyone – Palestinian and Israeli – as well as international law.”

“We know that these are the values to which Jeremy Corbyn subscribes,” the group added. “That is why we are proud to have him as a patron.”

Ryan also slammed Corbyn as having “long-standing involvement with anti-Israel activism” and called for him to atone by holding talks with Israel’s Labor Party – a racist organization which has recently been in talks to join the hard-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

She also threatened to revive yet again the anti-Semitism witch hunt which engulfed Labour last year, when dozens of members were suspended without due process, often based on grossly exagerated or entirely fabicated charges.

Ryan herself was caught personally engaging in concocting false anti-Semitism charges against a party member who questioned Labour Friends of Israel’s position on Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

Yet in her Jewish Chronicle article, Ryan demanded that Corbyn “address adequately the problem of anti-Zionist anti-Semitism within Labour’s ranks.”

Undermining Corbyn

In fact, over the last year, Corbyn repeatedly denounced anti-Semitism and ordered an independent inquiry – the Chakrabarti report – which has led to institutional changes within Labour.

Ryan ran a defeatist election campaign, which amounted to sabotage of the Labour leader’s chances of entering 10 Downing Street as prime minister.

Many” local people “tell me they have more confidence in Theresa May as prime minister than they would have in Jeremy Corbyn,” she wrote in a letter to voters in her district.

Despite her attacks on Corbyn, Ryan, like dozens of other Labour lawmakers who had worked against him, was re-elected on the coattails of his popular manifesto.

Yet anonymous “figures” and “sources” have continued to denounce Corbyn to The Jewish Chronicle and other right-wing media this week.

The Jewish Chronicle quoted a “senior pro-Israel Labour” source explaining that the tactic used by Ryan of talking down the party’s chances had been part of a broader pro-Israel strategy.

I told people Corbyn absolutely would not win and they could vote Labour,” the source said. “We managed to get people who hate Corbyn to vote for Corbyn’s Labour Party.”

“Bang on his door”
But these pro-Israel elements are evidently shocked and disappointed that under Corbyn’s leadership the party did too well at the ballot box.

The source indicated that the pro-Israel forces would continue to undermine Corbyn just as the Labour Party is more confident than it has been in years.

“Communal groups” – a reference to pro-Israel organizations that claim to speak on behalf of the Jewish community – “will have to do what they did before and either ignore him [Corbyn] or work around him,” the source said.

The source also predicted that pro-Israel lawmakers will “be happier to bang on his door now – about anti-Semitism or Israel.”

Like other Corbyn critics, Tulip Siddiq, a Labour Friends of Israel supporter, was re-elected with an increased majority – despite her own efforts to keep the anti-Semitism witch hunt rumbling.

After the election, she told the Jewish News that “there are elements of anti-Semitism in the party that have not been dealt with properly.”

She vowed the she, along with Labour Friends of Israel leader Ryan and fellow member Wes Streetingwill stand up … we can’t go on like this.”

Blurring the line

Failed Labour parliamentary candidate Jeremy Newmark, a veteran leader in the UK’s Israel lobby, wrote in The Times of Israel on Wednesday that after the election, “many things remain unchanged” and “we still need to turn a corner regarding anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Newmark called for the Chakrabarti report to be “revisited,” despite the fact that the Jewish Labour Movement, the internal party pro-Israel group that he heads, had initially welcomed it last year as “sensible and firm.”

Newmark also called for a mooted Labour Party rule book change put forward by his pro-Israel group to again be pushed at the party conference in September.

The change would “recognize that it is not acceptable to use Zionism as a term of abuse” – potentially making criticism of the Israeli state’s official ideology an infraction punishable by expulsion from Labour.

The rule change would also apply to Zionism a definition of a racist incident “which places particular value upon the perception of the victim/victim group.” In other words, a concept developed to protect vulnerable groups from bigotry would be co-opted to protect Israel from criticism by giving Israel’s apologists the right to determine which criticisms of Israel they deem “anti-Semitic.

If adopted, such a rule would further conflate anti-Semitic bigotry against Jews, on the one hand, with anti-Zionism – opposition to Israel’s exclusivist ideology that discriminates against Palestinians – on the other.

Blurring the line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has been a key objective of Israel and its surrogates.

New-old lines of attack

Newmark also revealed the lines of attack the Israel lobby will use against Corbyn. “The immediate agenda is clear,” he wrote, calling for two prominent Labour critics of Israel to be expelled: former London mayor Ken Livingstone and Jewish anti-racism activist Jackie Walker.

None of the smears used by hostile media and right-wing Labour lawmakers last year seemed to work.

Even the false and grossly exaggerated charges of anti-Semitism had their limits.

But bereft of ideas to stop Corbyn eventually entering Number 10 – as now looks increasingly plausible – Israel’s allies in the Labour Party appear determined to bring this manufactured crisis back.



Monday, 19 June 2017

A MEMOIR OF AUSCHWITZ AND BIRKENAU

Much has been written about Auschwitz extermination camp.  However this piece provides insight into the unique savagery of the barbarities of fascism and its factories of death.

Birkenau-Auschwitz in January 1945 after the Soviets had captured it
Auschwitz wasn’t officially known of as an extermination or death camp, as opposed to a concentration camp, until April 1944 with the writing of the Auschwitz Protocols.  However British Intelligence was aware of the activities of Auschwitz far earlier owing to decryption of Nazi signals.  At Bletchley Park, the SS code had been broken early in the war including communications with the extermination camps.  During the summer of 1941 Order Police reports of mass shootings in Occupied Russia were deciphered.

The truth is as Walter Lacquer’s Terrible Secret shows, there was no interest, either by the West or the Zionists in uncovering the secret of Auschwitz.  That was why it remained undiscovered.

We should not be deterred from understanding what happened in the Holocaust and why, simply because today the Zionist movement, the Israeli state and the Western capitalist states exploit what happened over 70 years ago in order to justify Israel's racist obscenities.  Zionism, with its creation of a state based on race, defames the memory of those who died, Jewish and non-Jewish, in Auschwitz and Birkenau.  That however is never a reason to deny that the Holocaust took place.  The Zionists create holocaust denial through their exploitation of the memory of the millions who died.  Indeed they deliberately create the false ideology of holocaust denial in order to 'prove' that the anti-Semitism which they create is still alive.

Tony Greenstein
The famous and cynical slogan 'Work Makes You Free' which was above Nazi concentration camps - the same idea was adopted by Ian Duncan Smith when cutting social security benefits in Britain
The Auschwitz experiences of Ukrainian Marxist Roman Rosdolsky
Monthly Review. 39.8 (Jan. 1988): p33.

The literature on Auschwitz is now extensive and there may, at first, seem to be little point in publishing yet another memoir of one of its former inmates, all the more so when the memoir is brief and adds no new facts to those already well-known to the world. But it is the person and perspective of the author which give the memoir below some claim to our attention. The author was the Ukrainian Marxist Roman Rosdolsky (1898-1967), who was arrested by the Gestapo in Cracow in 1942 for aiding Jews. Rosdolsky had been one of the founders and leading theoreticians of the Communist Party of Western Ukraine, but he left the party in opposition to Stalinism in the late 1920s. He remained true to the principles of revolutionary Marxism for the rest of his life. Since the 1930s he devoted himself to scholarship, producing a number of important studies in German and Polish on the agrarian history of East Central Europe and on the history and interpretation of Marxism. Part of the latter series was his very famous work on The Making of Marx's Capital (Pluto Press, 1981).
Aerial reconnaissance of Birkenau
The text which appears below was originally published in the Ukrainian emigre socialist journal Oborona in 1956 and reprinted by another Ukrainian socialist journal, Diialoh, in 1984. This is its first appearance in translation.

--John-Paul Himka (Professor of History, University of Alberta).

Dear Editor:

Thank you very much for mentioning the "death museum at Auschwitz" in your periodical. Permit me to use the occasion of your remarks to share with Oborona's readers some memoirs concerning my own stay in the camp at Auschwitz.

The American correspondent whose words you paraphrase was mistaken only in one point: Auschwitz was not only a "death camp" but also an enormous forced-labor camp, with numerous subsidiary camps spread over considerable territory; on the average it held some 80,000 slaves of the German Reich. It was a sui generis "state within a state," with a whole series of industrial, mining, and even agricultural enterprises. Its goal was to extract as much labor as possible from the prisoners working there, while spending as little as possible on feeding them. In this sense the entire camp was also an enormous "death factory" in which--especially in its first years of existence (1940-42)--the average prisoner did not remain alive longer than three or four months.

Fortunately for me, I wasn't taken to Auschwitz until early 1943, that is, at the time when the regime in the central camp, Auschwitz proper, where there were 15,000 prisoners on the average, had begun to relax. This relaxation was shown, above all, in that after May of 1943 the so-called Kapos, Blockaltester, and Stubendienste no longer had the right to kill with impunity prisoners subordinate to them; before then, such murders were everyday business. The Kapos, etc., were prisoners, generally professional criminals, appointed by the camp authorities to head work teams and keep charge over the barracks in which we lived. This "reform" was mainly motivated by the labor shortage which the Third Reich was beginning to feel; the Hitlerites decided to "economize" on human material that was still fit to work. True, even in the first months of 1943 they still sent all cripples, old people, typhus convalescents, and people with swollen legs or no teeth to the crematorium. I myself was in the camp "hospital" and lived through two large-scale "sortings" in which Hitlerite doctors combed through the patients, sending several hundred to the gas chamber. But by the middle of 1943 this particular horror had passed for us, i.e., for the so-called Aryans (non-Jews), and we could report sick and go to the hospital without risking death. To the unfortunate Jews, however, and only to them, this reform did not apply. Still, some months later, we witnessed a horrific spectacle as a dozen or so trucks pulled into the camp and took hundreds of people from the hospital, clad only in their shirts, to the gas chamber.
women huddled in their bunk after Auschwitz had been captured
So much for the central camp at Auschwitz, which--I repeat--during 1943-44 began to become more and more like ordinary Nazi labor camps such as Dachau, Oranienburg, and Buchenwald. But three kilometers from us was a huge subsidiary camp, Birkenau (in Polish: Brzezinki), where living and working conditions were a hundred percent worse than our own; it had gas chambers and six crematoria in which people were killed with poison gas and the corpses burned day and night. Here the gates of Hitler's hell were thrown wide open.
Trzebinia sub-camp of Auschwitz
Even before I had arrived in Auschwitz, Birkenau had "finished off" 16,000 select Soviet POWs: Red Army officers, politruki, Communists, intellectuals. Of that entire transport only fifty persons survived. Here, too, several dozen thousand "recalcitrant" Poles met their Golgotha. And this was a gigantic cemetery for the Jewish population of almost all of continental Europe.

For the whole of two years, 1943 and 1944, transports would arrive at Birkenau with thousands of Jews from Poland, Slovakia, Bohemia, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Greece. Only a small portion of them--specialists of all sorts--were chosen to work in our camp and Birkenau. The rest, and all women and children, were immediately dispatched to the gas. It was such an everyday occurrence and we grew so accustomed to it that we began to note as extraordinary those days when there were no Jewish transports and no flames shot up from the chimneys of the crematoria.

The reader will ask how I know all this. Unfortunately, not just from conversations with other prisoners in Auschwitz and Birkenau; I was forced to witness it. From spring 1943 until autumn 1944 I worked as a carpenter on the second floor of a huge factory, Deutsche Ausrustungswerke, which stood halfway between the main camp and Birkenau. The large factory windows looked out over Birkenau. From them we saw, maybe a hundred paces from us, the end of the railroad tracks leading to Birkenau as well as, and above all, the chimneys of the crematoria. We could have no doubt about what went on beyond the gates of Birkenau's hell. There's no point in going into all we experienced and how we grew old inside during that year and a half. I'll just describe the most terrible period, the so-called "Hungarian action" of the summer of 1944.

Beginning May 4 of that year, and day in, day out thereafter, four or five long trainloads of Hungarian Jews would pull into the tracks before our windows. They were unloaded in a hurry, and any bundles anyone had were taken away. Then SS-men came and divided the new arrivals into two groups, separating the men from the women and children. They chased them all off to the "showers," that is, to the gas chambers. Immediately afterwards a special work team went through the bundles, removing food and clothing and searching for money and gold. The barracks of this work team were separated from our factory only by a wooden fence. The team was made up of several dozen young women prisoners, each wearing a red kerchief on her head. They were allowed to eat whatever perishable food they found in the bundles. This dreadful work team was generally referred to as "Canada."

By the first week of May "Canada's" yard was already piled high with bundles. We were always tormented by hunger, and the bolder prisoners among us began to steal these bundles from behind the fence. At the same time the smoke began to billow from all six crematoria. And this was not all. Just next to Birkenau, to the right of us, lay a birch forest (hence the name Brzezinki/Birkenau). A huge fire began to blaze in the woods, the flames alternating with thick, yellowish-grey smoke. A few days later we found out what was happening: the crematoria were unable to handle thousands of corpses, so a deep pit was dug in the Birkenau woods to burn the unfortunate victims. Some time at the end of May our factory received an order to supply Birkenau with a dozen or so iron-tipped hooks four meters long. At the head of the order, which I read with my own eyes, it said: Ungarische Aktion.

True, today on both sides of the "iron curtain" they design and produce bombs that can destroy and pulverize just as many living people in the span of one minute. But the Third Reich did not yet know the blessings of modern technology.

How did all these horrors affect the life of our work team? Imagine: rows of work tables, at which stand our carpenters, sad as can be and "blacker than the black earth"--mainly French Jews and Poles. No one speaks. All eyes are focused on the woods of Birkenau and the crematoria. Only now and again someone laughs bitterly, hysterically, and then wipes tears from his cheeks. It was impossible to open the window, since the air was completely permeated by the intolerable, stifling odor of burnt flesh. "Ich rieche, rieche Menschenfleisch (I smell, I smell human flesh)," my friend Ludwig, an Austrian, tells me, using the words of a witch from one of Grimm's fairy tales. Only the witch smelled in the air the scent of two children, and we smelled the odor of burned corpses, thousands of corpses.

But human nature is tough, astonishingly tough. Day after day we went to our factory, stared at the bloody incandescence of the Birkenau woods, and none of us went insane, none of us took our own lives. Yet could we have entertained any hope of evading death in the gas chamber? After all, we were witnesses to one of the greatest crimes in human history! One of our carpenters said to me: "Today it's them [the Hungarian Jews], tomorrow it's us [the Jewish specialists in the camp], and the day after it's you [all the non-Jews]." And this resolution of the matter struck us all as the only rational one from the Hitlerites' standpoint, the only possible one. How else to be rid of the witnesses to their crime? Only one faint hope flickered in some of our hearts: that the collapse of the Third Reich would catch those beasts by surprise before they could accomplish their plans and that at the last minute fear of retribution would stay their hands. But during the entire month of August, we ourselves had to dig a great pit in the central camp, just like the one that had been dug in the Birkenau woods. Officially it was called a Luftschutzkeller (air-raid cellar), but there was not one prisoner in the whole camp who was fooled by this name.

For me personally the hell of Auschwitz came to an end unexpectedly. In the first days of September I was included in a transport of Polish and Soviet prisoners being sent from Auschwitz to Ravensbruck, near Berlin. When they herded us into the wagons, we still kept thinking that they were going to transport us to Birkenau, to the gas chambers. But our train moved west and the glow from the crematoria disappeared from sight. We began to breathe fresh, unpoisoned air. And though we knew that death lies in wait for all prisoners in Hitler's camps, we were none the less as happy as children, because we had been snatched from the hell of Auschwitz.

Why do I write about this? Why reopen old wounds? Let me just recall one small episode. It was in the camp, on Sunday, after lunch. A group of prisoners were lying on their bunks and talking about the end of the war, which they expected was approaching. A young Pole, Kazik, turned to an older prisoner, whom everyone called "the professor," and asked him: "Professor, what will happen to Auschwitz after the war?"

"What do you think should happen?" answered "the professor." "We'll go home."

"Don't talk nonsense, professor," said Kazik. "No one here will get out alive."

"That's true," said the professor. "But, still, the living should not abandon hope [words of the Polish poet Juliusz Stowacki]! And as for Auschwitz itself, the new Poland will build a great museum here and for years delegations from all of Europe will visit it. On every stone, on every path, they'll lay a wreath: because each inch of this earth is soaked with blood. And later, when the barracks collapse, when the roads are overgrown with grass and when they have forgotten about us, there will be new and even worse wars, and even worse bestialities. Because humanity stands before two possibilities: either it comes up with a better social order or it perishes in barbarism and cannibalism."

The unfortunate professor was only repeating the words already spoken by the socialist thinker Friedrich Engels 80 years ago. I had heard them several times before the war. But in the bunks of Auschwitz they sounded more real and more correct than ever in the past. And who today, after all the Auschwitzes, Kolymas, and atom bombs, can doubt the truth of these words?

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition)
Rosdolsky, Roman. "A memoir of Auschwitz and Birkenau." Monthly Review, Jan. 1988, p. 33+. Academic OneFile, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do? Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.
Gale Document Number:  GALE|A6319771 

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Jeremy Corbyn and the Humiliation of Nick Cohen

Not so Stable - The Witch of Westminster’s Fatal Miscalculation

As with all good fairy tales, the wicked witch of Westminster was rumbled before she was able to cast her evil spells. The good news is that she is not yet dead. The longer she lives, the more damage she is likely to do to the Tory Party. Theresa May’s promise to the 1922 Committee that, having got them into “this mess”, she is the best person to get them out again would, in normal circumstances, indicate that she had a sense of humour.

The question for us to understand is how and why May and her supporters made such a catastrophic political misjudgement and what the consequences may be. It was not simply political hubris that led May to call a general election when she had a workable parliamentary majority for the next three years. There was a collective act of self-deception by the political class - the talking heads and self-styled experts who feed off each other’s delusions. It was taken for granted that in a general election Corbyn was a lamb going to the slaughter.
Joan Ryan asking Israeli agent Shai Masot about the £1m slush fund that had been granted by Israel
Corrupt as they come - the only 'achievement' of Joan Ryan, Labour Friends of Israel Chair is to claim more expenses than any other MP (b4 paying a little of it back!)
Almost alone amongst the political commentators I predicted the outcome.1 The day after parliament voted by 522-13 for dissolution and with the polls showing a lead of over 20% I wrote:
… it was Harold Wilson who said that a week is a long time in politics. Seven weeks is a political eternity. Theresa May has taken a gamble that her 21% lead will hold. It is a gamble that she may yet come to regret. 
There is only one direction that her lead can go, and that is down. Once her lead falls, then a snowball effect can take over. What is essential is that Labour marks out the key areas on which it is going to base its appeal. The danger is that Corbyn is going to continue with his ‘strategy’ of appeasing the right and appealing to all good men and women. If so that will be a recipe for disaster ...
Theresa May is a cautious conservative. She is literally the product of her background - a conservative vicar’s daughter. Reactionary, parochial and small-minded, she is a bigot for all seasons. What doesn’t help is that she is both wooden and unoriginal. The danger is that Corbyn tries to emulate her. 
Corbyn speaking at Labour Friends of Israel rally - Joan Ryan looking on 
The key question is whether or not Corbyn can rise to the occasion. Even Jesus ... didn’t allow the gospel of love to prevent him from driving the money lenders from the temple ... There is everything to win if Labour has the courage of its convictions.

On June 3, five days before the election, when all the polls were predicting that May’s lead was widening, I wrote:
My initial predictions, that there would or could be a hung parliament was based on my assessment of the situation. This is still quite possible, as the Tories are widely detested for their attacks on the working poor, people on benefits and the continuous privatisation of the NHS. They are seen as the party of a vicious class rule, which is what austerity is about.
That does not, however, mean that the Tories will necessarily be defeated. People do not vote in line with their class interests. The whole purpose of the patriotic card, used by a succession of ruling class scoundrels from Pitt to May, is to blind people to their real interests ... The Tory press, of course, is doing its best to foster illusions in Strong and Stable. 
.... The Lib Dems are not going to gain enough seats to prop up another Tory coalition ... By ruling out any form of pact with Labour under Corbyn, the Lib Dems have guaranteed their own irrelevance. 
We could be in for a period of political instability such as we have not known for 40 years ... A Tory government is still possible if it cobbles together a coalition of the Lib Dems and the Ulster Unionists-DUP. Even a majority Tory government cannot be ruled out.2 
Nick Cohen - as measured as always

Contrast this with the drunken pundits who inhabit the Westminster bubble, who competed with each other in their efforts to describe how badly Corbyn would be defeated. Prime among them was Nick Cohen, who writes with all the passion of a neocon convert for the once liberal Observer. In March Cohen predicted that in the event of a general election:
Labour will get around a quarter of the vote ... The Tories have gone easy on Corbyn and his comrades to date for the transparently obvious reason that they want to keep them in charge of Labour … In an election, they would tear them to pieces. They will expose the far left’s record of excusing the imperialism of Vladimir Putin’s gangster state, the oppressors of women and murderers of gays in Iran, the IRA, and every variety of inquisitorial and homicidal Islamist movement, Will there be 150, 125, 100 Labour MPs by the end of the flaying? My advice is to think of a number then halve it.3 
Suffice to say, Cohen was faced with having to eat rather large helpings of humble pie. How did he explain himself? Primarily by blaming others! It was all because “the paralysed Tories don’t know how to govern or what to do next”. [no hint as to who paralysed them!] Having informed us through gritted teeth that May’s electoral defeat “is not only due to the PM’s monumental incompetence - Corbyn deserves credit”, he then tells us, by way of an alibi, that “most Labour MPs stayed in their constituencies, convinced defeat was at hand. They kept Corbyn’s name off their leaflets and told anyone who asked that Corbyn did not represent the real Labour Party.”4 Not once did it occur to Cohen to question these MPs’ cowardly behaviour, still less talk to some real people instead of embittered Labour MPs. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Jeremy Newmark, JLM Chair, after hearing Corbyn speak to the LFI - patronising as ever
If he had felt particularly brave, Cohen might have ventured into the crowds at one of the 90 mass rallies that Corbyn addressed up and down the country and asked himself whether something was happening beneath the surface of British politics. Instead Cohen, who even today defends the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, tells us that he “doesn’t swing with the polls”. Instead he reverts back to the horrors of the “links between the Corbyn camp and a Putin regime that persecutes genuine radicals”, to say nothing of his support for “an Iranian state that hounds gays, subjugates women and tortures prisoners” - and, of course, Corbyn’s “indulgence of real anti-Semites (not just critics of Israel)”.
Joan Ryan with helpers in General Election

New mood

The question is why 99% of the pundits and ‘experts’ got it so badly wrong. The answer is really not so difficult. Their understanding of what is happening in the country is limited to the latest opinion poll and soundings at Westminster. In essence what they are doing is testing whether the ideological broadside of the popular press against Corbyn has been successful or not.

Corbyn’s election was accompanied by hundreds of thousands of people joining the Labour Party. Contrary to the self-deluding nostrums of Labour Party MPs and the Tory media, this was not a far-left takeover. Would that the far left in this country accounted for even 10% of these numbers. Corbyn’s election was symptomatic of a wider revulsion at Cameron’s narrow victory and the years of austerity, cuts to benefits, a housing crisis, the plight of the NHS and the enrichment of the already rich.

It is this mood that not only Cohen and the media, but also the far left, has failed to pick up on. The growing disillusion in modern capitalism and its inability to provide even a basic and acceptable standard of living to people. The fact that young people are forced to live with their parents because they cannot afford to rent anywhere, the food banks and homelessness. The only response to growing impoverishment has been to redefine what poverty means.

I campaigned in Brighton Kemptown, a Tory marginal of 690 votes. Every school had displayed outside it large banners explaining how the cuts were affecting them. Robotically quoting figures saying that education funding is being increased means little when the actuality of what is happening in education is very different.

There was clearly a massive swing amongst young people to Labour. The effect of benefit cuts to the under-25s, combined with tuition fees and the removal of student grants and student nurses’ bursaries, have taken their toll.

Labour’s manifesto was genuinely radical in a number of ways. The decision of the right in Labour Party headquarters to leak it in advance ironically worked in favour of Labour by giving it nearly a week of extra publicity. Corbyn broke with Miliband’s legacy by openly opposing the politics of austerity. This was in contrast to the Tories’ promises of more austerity, with the abolition of the triple lock on pensions, means testing of pensioners’ winter fuel payments and the removal of free school meals. Labour’s promise to abolish tuition fees, and to restore housing benefit to the under-21s, struck a chord with younger people. Today no Labour rightwinger dares defend Miliband’s austerity-lite politics. The promise to renationalise the railways, post office and utilities was also genuinely popular. Of course, we should call for workers’ control in industries that are renationalised, in order that what happened previously - whereby private-sector managers just moved over from the private to the public sector and carried on in the same way - does not happen again.

We are not in a revolutionary situation or anything even approaching it, which is why it is not possible to put forward a demand for nationalisation without compensation and gain any measure of support. It is, however, possible to demand that any compensation paid is linked to the price that the industries were originally sold for, minus the profits taken out and, not least, in the case of water, the land that was sold off by the water companies.

We should also call, in the case of the NHS, for the statutory reversal of private finance initiative contracts which have enabled private companies to literally make a killing. We should demand that, adjusted for inflation and say a 2% return, companies which have already received their initial investment back should not receive further compensation. We need to be able to formulate concrete demands which, though they go against capitalist economic ‘logic’, also resonate with sections of the class. I have no doubt that this will be controversial with some on the far left, but it is also necessary to link one’s demands to existing consciousness.

I also have little doubt that Brexit played a major part. The reason that the Liberal Democrats did not benefit from the support of remainers was that they were not a credible electoral vehicle, especially after they explicitly ruled out supporting a Corbyn-led government. We saw two conflicting tendencies.

First, Labour clearly benefited from pro-European Tories who were alienated by a hard Brexit. There is no other explanation for the victory of Labour in Kensington, possibly the richest constituency in Britain. The votes in Brighton, Hove and Canterbury, among other places, indicate that this was not just confined to London constituencies.

There was also the collapse of the UK Independence Party vote. Unlike most received wisdom, I have argued that the suggestion that Ukip votes would go automatically back to the Tories was mistaken. Although we may not like it, Ukip posed as a party of protest against the establishment - Farage’s peoples’ army. With its virtual collapse at this election, the majority of working class Ukip voters in the north went back to Labour, not the Tories. Even in the south a large proportion appear to have supported Labour too. People voted for Ukip not because they were racist, but because they believed that immigration was responsible for their decline in living standards.

What next?

What then has been the reaction of the Labour right? During the campaign the theme of many - like Peter Kyle, the MP for Hove - was that a vote for them was not a vote for Corbyn.5 The Zionist lobby that Corbyn was so assiduous in appeasing paid him back with studious contempt. Joan Ryan, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, whose sole achievements have been to claim the second highest expenses of any MP in 2005-06 and the highest amounts in 2006-07,6 asked her constituents to elect her “despite Corbyn” because May would win.7 Jeremy Newmark, the chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, the British branch of the Israeli Labour Party, likewise assured voters that if they voted for him Corbyn still would not win.8

For all his attempts to please the Zionist lobby, including suspending supporters of the Palestinians and supporting the redefinition of anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, the Zionists treat Corbyn with utter disdain. He is not reliable compared to Tom Watson.

Some on the right like Owen Smith9, Chuka Umunna and even Peter Mandelson10 have recognised that they were wrong in writing off Corbyn as an electoral liability, although Mandelson returned to type pretty quickly with his bizarre suggestion that Labour MPs should prop up May in order to achieve a soft Brexit.11 Others, such as Chris Leslie, the former shadow chancellor, complained that, despite the fact that Corbyn had been fighting the Tories as well as fighting Labour traitors like himself, he had not achieved an outright victory.

It must be very painful for the Labour right to admit that the Labour Party under Corbyn won the highest vote since 1997 and the largest increase in any party’s percentage of the vote since 1945. The right’s whole narrative revolves around the idea that warmed-up Blairism would still prove attractive - despite having lost nearly five million votes between 1997 and 2010. Corbyn’s 12.9 million votes were, with the exception of Blair in 1997 (13.5 million), the highest for Labour since 1966 (13.1 million). The right has been forced to acknowledge that it was Corbyn’s strategy of ignoring the print media and using social media that contributed to Theresa May’s defeat.

The question for the left though is ‘Where next?’ Of one thing we can be in little doubt. Theresa May is, in the words of George Osborne, a dead woman walking. There can be no future in her putative alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP is not simply anti-gay and anti-abortion: it is above all a racist, sectarian party of Protestant supremacy. It was created in reaction to the formation of the civil rights movement by Catholics in 1969. It has strong links with loyalist terror groups, including the Ulster Defence Association and its death squads. Only a few days ago its leader, Arlene Foster, met with Jackie MacDonald, a senior leader of the UDA, in the wake of the UDA murder of another loyalist in Carrickfergus.12 But then some forms of terrorism have always been acceptable to the Conservative and Unionist Party.

It is important that the previous strategy of appeasing the right is not pursued. It would be a strategic mistake to take Chuka Ummuna and Angela Eagle back into the shadow cabinet. In a reversal of Lyndon Johnson’s maxim, it would be better to have them pissing outside the tent rather than fouling the shadow cabinet!

It is essential that Corbyn purges Labour’s civil service. It is absurd that the left leadership of the Labour Party has next to no control over its unelected staff. This meant that virtually no resources were directed to any seat that Labour was trying to gain. Under Iain McNicol, Labour’s witch-hunting general secretary, a strategy of defending Labour marginals - especially those where Progress MPs were in danger, like Hove - was pursued. That was why no help whatsoever was given to crucial marginals like Brighton Kemptown, where a Tory majority of 690 was turned into a Labour majority of nearly 10,000. Labour HQ swallowed the tabloid and media nonsense about Labour being in for a catastrophic result. What this meant in practice is that at least 15 seats that Labour could easily have won were lost - and with them any chance of a majority. McNicol, if he is not prepared to fall on his sword, should be sacked for gross incompetence.13

As the right in the Labour Party recover from the shock of Corbyn’s performance and take stock, I predict a renewal of the false ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign. It is essential that the compliance unit is wound up, that all those suspended - including Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and myself - are reinstated. At the beginning of the election campaign Mel Melvin, women’s’ officer for Brighton Kemptown, was suspended for posting a satirical tweet, in response to reports of the bullying of Dianne Abbot: she said that Abbot should claim Jewish ancestry, then action would be taken. It would seem that any form of humour, if it involves poking fun at the false anti-Semitism campaign, is also verboten. Mel’s comment was nothing more than a satirical joke.

The key Zionist activists in the Labour Party have demonstrated that their first loyalty is to Israel and British foreign policy. Newmark, Ryan, Gapes and Kyle did their best to undermine Corbyn during the election campaign and no-one could be more disappointed with the election result than these Labour Zionist candidates.

The one issue that never really came to the fore, but underlies much of the voting, was the question of Brexit. May’s hard Brexit has clearly hit the buffers. Labour’s position at the moment is incoherent. Corbyn’s reference to “managed migration” during the election campaign and the myth that immigration, rather than the erosion of trade union rights, leads to lower wages, has to be fought. Labour’s stance should be clear - Britain should stay in the single market and the custom’s union and it should accept the free movement of labour. Corbyn should not pander to the myth that immigration lowers the price of labour. There is already a crisis of a lack of nurses in the NHS and now there are reports that the number coming in from the EU has declined by a massive 96%.

The message for the left inside the Labour Party is that it has to go on the political offensive. We need to deselect large numbers of what were imposed candidates. Never again should the Labour machine be allowed to choose the candidates, as happened this time. Another general election is probable within a year. The Tory Party is divided over Brexit and it is highly unlikely that the present government can continue with the support of the DUP. John Major has already spoken out against it, following on from the comments of the Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson.

Notes

1. http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/labour-can-win-if-corbyn-is-bold-key.html (April 20 2017).
2. http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/general-election-is-labour-on-threshold.html.
3. www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/19/jeremy-corbyn-labour-threat-party-election-support (March 19 2017).
4. www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/10/i-was-wrong-about-jeremy-corbyn-still-doubt-him.
5.  www.theargus.co.uk/news/15296372.Kyle__A_vote_for_me_is_not_a_vote_for_Corbyn_in_Downing_Street
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Ryan.
7. www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/02/back-me-despite-corbyn-as-may-will-win-labour-mp-urges-voters.
8. www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/byers-jeremy-newmark-piece-1.438620.
9. www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/defeated-labour-leadership-contender-owen-13160869.
10. www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/labour-party/jeremy-corbyn/news/86571/i-was-clearly-wrong-jeremy-corbyns.
11. www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4592272/Lord-Peter-Mandleson-urges-Labour-MPs-soft-Brexit.html#ixzz4jrqe9vXQ.
12. www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/11/arlene-fosters-stance-on-paramilitary-groups-brought-into-question.

13. https://skwawkbox.org/2017/06/10/excl-labour-hq-defunded-marginals-corbyn-achieved-this-despite-them-ge17.