Friday, 20 November 2020

You Can’t Unite With A Rattlesnake - the Left Will Never Defeat Starmer as long as it accepts his ‘Anti-Semitism’ Narrative

Starmer Promised to ‘tear the poison of anti-Semitism out of Labour’ – what he meant was expelling supporters of the Palestinians from the Labour Party

Important Update

This article should be read in conjunction with Asa Winstanley's recent article in Electronic Intifada which proves conclusively that Starmer’s witch-hunt is being driven by the Israel Lobby and the Board of Deputies

Revealed: the Israel lobby’s Labour hit list

When Starmer suspended Jeremy Corbyn 2 weeks ago I predicted that his expulsion was inevitable. Starmer’s reaction when an NEC panel voted to reinstate him demonstrates that expulsion was his original intention.  Starmer then did the next best thing. He expelled Corbyn from the Parliamentary Labour Party.

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When Starmer was elected in April I wrote that ‘Mogadon Man Assumes the Leadership of the Labour Party… The Fight against the Right begins.Craig Murray wrote

Sadly, Sir Keir Starmer has all the captivating exuberance of a stagnant pond, with the murky secrets of his dubious past polluting the fetid waters.

In the circumstances that was rather mild! I followed this up, on May 13, warning that

If Labour Wants to Win the Next Election then it needs to Dump Starmer fast - COVID-19 Demonstrates why Sir Keir is so useless – He has Nothing to Say’.

The Campaign Group - A complete failure to understand the 'antisemitism' campaign

Unfortunately Momentum and the Campaign Group ignored my advice. Many people are inclined to call them the ‘soft left’. I prefer the term STUPID LEFT. As Einstein is said to have remarked, the definition of insanity is repeating something over and over again and expecting a different result. For the past 5 years, Momentum and Corbyn have repeatedly tried appeasing the Labour Right and the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement. The more they gave them the more they demanded. The more they apologised, the more ground they conceded.

Jon Lansman, Who Singlehandedly Did More to Damage Corbyn than anyone else, Believed that the Election of Sturmer was a Victory for the Left 

These fools even got it into their heads that Starmer was going to preserve Corbyn’s manifesto pledges and that he was a ‘unity’ candidate. Anyone acquainted with Starmer’s record would have known that that was a lie. Starmer is and always has been from Labour’s hard right.

As Director of Public ProsecutionsStarmer prosecuted Julian Assange and to this day refuses to speak out about his incarceration for being an investigative journalist. Starmer prosecuted women for making false allegations of rape whilst trying to cover for the Police who murdered Ian Tomlinson. Starmer is the only MP who is a member of the international ruling class body, the Trilateral Commission.

Not the least of Starmer’s crimes was the fact that he was first person to welcome my expulsion. This always struck me as curious.  Why, if someone is sincere in their opposition to anti-Semitism should they welcome the expulsion of a Jewish anti-racist?

Starmer however, unlike Corbyn and the Campaign Group/ Momentum is not stupid. Cunning, deceitful, dishonest but not stupid. From the beginning of his leadership he has repeated his promise to ‘tear the poison of anti-Semitism out of Labour by the roots’. That was what justified the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lloyd Russell-Moyle and the dressing down of Stephen Kinnock. Not once has any member of the stupid left challenged his narrative.

Starmer went out of his way, from the start, to ensure that the EHRC Report was as damning as possible. That was why he paid off the racist liars and frauds among Labour’s senior staff who had campaigned against the Labour Party in 2017. This despite being told that Labour had a winning case. That way their version of events, that they had been prevented by Corbyn in tackling ‘anti-Semitism’ could not be contradicted without legal consequences.

The Cowardice of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Prevented Him Signing a Petition in Support of Corbyn

Starmer wanted the EHRC Report to be as bad as possible in order that he could wield it as a weapon. As it turned out the EHRC Report was insubstantial and evasive. Despite ignoring the evidence of Jewish Voices for Labour and my own offer, as the first Jewish person to be expelled, to give testimony its Report was a botched political stitch up. The suggestion that Ken Livingstone and Pam Bromley had been guilty of harassment is not worth the paper it is written on. Political speech and denying that there is an anti-Semitism problem is not harassment. It would be laughed out court. That is why Starmer and his glove puppet, David Evans, have been so concerned to prevent local Labour parties discussing the Report.

Hence Starmer’s reaction to Labour’s Leaked Report was to attack those who leaked the Report whilst rewarding Labour’s racist and misogynist former staff. The last thing Starmer could afford was any undermining of McNicol’s lies.

John McDonnell with his slavish support for Starmer hauls up the White Flag of surrender

It is or should be obvious that Starmer isn’t the least concerned about racism. ‘Anti-Semitism’ to him is what ‘Communism’ was to Joe McCarthy. It is a means of denouncing his critics and smearing the Left. Back in April I wrote that

If anyone had any doubts about who and what (Sir) Keir Starmer represents, his Shadow Cabinet appointments today should lay them to rest.  Starmer represents a return of the Blairite Right. Even Barry Gardiner, a supporter of Labour Friends of Israel and easily the most articulate member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet has been sacked, as has Ian Lavery, former President of the NUM and one of the few working class members in the PLP as well as Jon Trickett.

It is not as if Starmer didn’t give a clear warning of his intentions. It is the cowardice and pathetic reformism of the Labour Left (if one can even call it such) that meant they didn’t heed the warnings. The signs of what Starmer’s real intentions were many:

i.              Starmer’s ‘constructive opposition’ in the ‘national interest’ to Boris Johnson’s disastrous COVID-19 strategy as the government presided over the highest death rate in Europe. The official death toll is 50,000 but the real death toll is far higher. The failure of the Tories is directly linked to the privatization of the NHS and the outsourcing of PPE and Test and Trace. Far from being ‘efficient’ the private sector is only efficient at maximizing its own profits. Channel 4 Dispatches has just shown how a private lab (they used to be in-house) treated test results cavalierly, allowing cross infection and leaking test tubes. Starmer’s failure to call out the health dangers of privatisation should have been taken seriously.

ii.           Starmer reversed Labour’s policy to support Kashmiri independence. Why?  Because Hindu chauvinists, supporters of the far-Right BJP government, accused supporters of Kashmiri independence and opponents of discrimination against the Untouchables of ‘Hinduphobia’.  The ‘Anti-Semitism’ scam is winning widespread admiration amongst racists.

The new leaders of Momentum (right) are no different from Lansman (left)

Just as opponents of Israeli Apartheid and Zionism are called ‘anti-Semites’ so Hindu bigots are calling opponents of caste discrimination ‘Hinduphobes’.  And who turned up at a House of Commons meeting to pledge his support for their campaign to keep caste discrimination legal?  Gideon Falter of the CAA! Starmer is very sensitive to the feelings of racists and chauvinists.

iii.        Starmer followed this up by sacking the weak and insipid Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Momentum candidate in the leadership elections. She had retweeted Maxine Peak’s statement that US Police learnt the neck hold from Israeli Police. Given that hundreds of thousands of US cops have been trained by the Israeli Police, it was a reasonable assumption, yet Starmer called this an ‘anti-Semitic conspiracy theory’.

iv.        Starmer may be concerned with ‘anti-Semitism’ and the feelings of fellow Zionists but when it came to Black Lives Matter he had no hesitation in declaring that it was a ‘moment’ that had passed. Concern about genuine racism against Black people, the Windrush scandal and ‘hostile environment’ hasn’t even left his lips.

Yet what was the response of Momentum to the suspension of Corbyn? Was it to call for Starmer to go? Was there a call for defiance of David Evans declaration that discussion of the suspension was not ‘competent business’ for Labour parties? Andrew Scattergood, Momentum’s Co-Chair issued a statement that This suspension risks politicising Labour's response to antisemitism.’ Where have they been? The ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign has been political from the start. It has been the means by which the Right has progressively undermined Corbyn.

Even Scatterbrain realised that this statement was hopelessly inadequate and Momentum therefore issued another statement, which was even worse.  It read:

The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn by the Labour Party leadership is a factional attack on the left that inevitably undermines the fight against anti-semitism and makes a mockery of Keir Starmer’s pledge to unite the Party. Tonight our Party is more divided than ever.’ 

There was a similar statement on Youtube and in an interview with LBC.

False Allegations of ‘Anti-Semitism’ Are Destroying the Labour Left

It is the inability of the Labour Left to come to grips with the Zionists’ anti-semitism hoax which sealed Corbyn’s fate and is now consigning the Labour Left to oblivion. It is a consequence of their acceptance of pro-imperialist politics in combination with identity politics.

Jews may be a minority in Britain but they are not an oppressed minority. Today Jews are a privileged white group which has voted Tory for the past 50 years (except for the initial Blair years). Only 14% voted for Ed Miliband, Labour’s first Jewish leader, in 2015. Jewish support for the Tories has nothing to do with Labour anti-Semitism and everything to do with their class position in society.

The Tory Party has historically been a racist party, including an anti-Semitic one. It wasn’t in the Labour Party that an MP was told

''If I had my way people like you wouldn't be allowed in this place.''

'And I said: ''Sorry, when you say people like me, do you mean lower-class or Jewish?'' 

'To which he replied: ''Both.'''

It was the Tory Party and the MP was former Speaker, John Bercow. In the same interview Bercow, when asked about Corbyn and anti-Semitism said about Corbyn that ‘I've never detected so much as a whiff of anti-Semitism’.

When anti-Semitism was a form of state racism in Britain, when the Metropolitan Police supported the British Union of Fascists and attacked Jewish workers was the time when Jews voted overwhelmingly for the Left.  Not just the Labour Party. In 1945 Phil Piratin, was elected for Mile End as a Communist with an estimated 50% of his vote coming from Jews in London’s East End.

This was the meme that was part of the evidence that got Simon Hindmarsh expelled - and Corbyn just nodded this through

Jews today no longer live in the East End. They have migrated to London’s middle class suburbs of Golders Green, Edgware and Redbridge. Britain’s Jews have changed as society has changed. Jews aren’t victims of racist murders, police harassment or Stop and Search. There is no Jewish Windrush or ‘hostile environment’. Jews aren’t deported because they are Jews. Yet the identity politics of much of the Left prevents them from relating racism to class.

Racism isn’t the same as prejudice. It is a form of class oppression but only more so. It is an attack on the most exploited and vulnerable sections of society. Jews are no longer in that position. They are no longer society’s scapegoats.

Even the Sun can see what Scatterbrain and McDonnell can't

When Momentum’s Scatterbrain declared that Corbyn’s suspension ‘undermines the fight against anti-Semitism’ he is demonstrating that there are no limits to the stupidity of Momentum which, under Lansman, did more than Boris Johnson to lose the 2019 election.

Why does Scatterbrain imagine that the Daily Mail and the Tory press are so concerned about ‘anti-Semitism’ when no other form of racism disturb them in the slightest? It should be clear that the ‘anti-Semitism campaign had, but one target, and that was Jeremy Corbyn.

Since March 2016 when I was suspended I have repeatedly emphasised that Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Peter Willsman and finally Chris Williamson were not the real targets. We were just collateral damage. The real target was always Corbyn even if he didn’t realise it.

Corbyn was a victim of what has come to be known as the Stockholm Syndrome. The more the Zionists attacked him the more he understood them and apologised. I’ve lost count of the number of friends that Corbyn threw under the bus in the vain hope that he would satisfy his enemies. Len McLuskey put his finger on it when he said that

Corbyn Has Answered Concerns On Anti-Semitism, But Jewish Community Leaders Are Refusing To Take 'Yes' For An Answer’.

Unfortunately McLuskey refused to face up to the logic of his own statement. He was correct. Whatever Corbyn did not satisfy the Zionist leaders of the Board of Deputies. McLuskey admitted

I am at a loss to understand the motives of the leadership of the Jewish community – the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Jewish Labour Movement.’

The answer was, as Bob Dylan once wrote, ‘blowing in the wind’. The reason why the ‘Jewish leaders’ i.e. Zionists at the Board of Deputies refused to take yes for an answer was that there was nothing that Corbyn could have done to satisfy them. The Zionists weren’t genuinely interested in anti-Semitism. They had but one goal – the removal of Corbyn. That was why the JLM was refounded in 2015.

It was clear to me from the very start that what was happening was an orchestrated campaign which had been tested in Latin America, in particular Nicaragua and Venezuela, where ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations had been leveled by Zionist groups and US Administrations at radical regimes. ‘Anti-Semitism’ has been patented and used as a weapon of the Right for over 30 years.

Contrast this with Argentina under a neo-Nazi Junta between 1976-1983. They tortured to death up to 3,000 Jews as part of their slaughter of 30,000 Argentinians.  Yet the Zionists and Israel remained silent.  Genuine anti-Semitism has never bothered Israel or the Zionist movement. From the Czarist regime at the turn of the 20th century to Hitler the Zionists have remained indifferent to genuine anti-Semitism.

We see this today. Who are Israel’s best friends in the world? The anti-Semitic Hungarian regime, the far-Right anti-Semitic Polish government and the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion in Ukraine to whom Israel supplies weapons. Not forgetting of course Trump who has repeatedly told American Jews that Israel is their ‘real home’. Which is what the Zionists also believe. When a White Supremacist gunman murdered 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, Israeli Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay told them that they should emigrate and come to their ‘real home’.  Which is what the anti-Semites also say.

Clues for the Stupid Left – Scatterbrain and the Campaign Group – that the ‘Anti-Semitism’ Campaign was about Zionism/Israel not Jew hatred

On a personal level I have no sympathy for Corbyn. I consider him a disloyal, treacherous fool who had it within his power to become Prime Minister and he threw it all away by throwing his own supporters to the wolves. Corbyn knew, more than most, that the ritual accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ is levelled at all Palestine solidarity supporters.

There are many reasons why the anti-Semitism campaign was a confected hoax, orchestrated by the Israeli, British and US governments. Here are some of those reasons:

1.           It is curious that despite being told repeatedly that Labour is overrun with anti-Semitism, which according to Sturmer, is a ‘stain’ on the Labour Party no one has actually produced any Jewish victims of this ‘anti-Semitism’. All they can point to are opinion polls that say British Jews were living in fear. If true this is testimony to the ability of Zionist leaders, coupled with the British press, to instil fear in some British Jews by false and lying propaganda. I’ll wager a bet that if researchers had asked these idiots why they feared the Labour Party they would either have no answer or they would reply ‘Israel’.

2.           Accusations of Anti-Semitism were seen as far more likely to divide the Left than say hostility to Corbyn because of his opposition to Austerity. That is a product of the infatuation of much of the left with identity politics.

According to the Guardian the BNP congratulated Margaret Hodge on her racist housing policies - this creature is now Chair of the JLM's Parliamentary Group

3.           If concern over ‘anti-Semitism’ was serious why was it that the Labour Right – Tom Watson, Margaret Hodge etc. – didn’t display any concern over other forms of racism? Hodge had even been sent a bunch of flowers by the BNP because they approved of her Whites Only housing policy for Barking.

Tom Watson demonised asylum seekers in the Hodge Hill by-election in 2004 with the slogan ‘Labour is on your side, the Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum seekers.’ Watson also supported the racist Labour MP Phil Woolas in 2010 when the High Court removed him from Parliament, for a campaign which involved trying to ‘make the white folks angry’.

4.           The Board of Deputies has never opposed anti-Semitism in its history. In 1936 it told Jews not to oppose the British Union of Fascists and Oswald Moseley. In the 1970s it repeated that with the National Front.

5.           If the Zionist Board of Deputies was so concerned about anti-Semitism why did it have nothing to say about the Tory alliance with fascists and anti-Semites in the European Parliament from 2009-2020?

6.           Why did the Board of Deputies say nothing about the Tories alliance with anti-Semites in the European Council? Boris Johnson even sacked Lord Richard Balfe, a former Tory MEP, for objecting to sitting down with parties like the Swedish Democrats whose members parade with swastikas.

7.           Why is it that the only ‘anti-racist’ demonstration that the Board has ever held was in March 2018 against Labour just before the local elections?  How is it that racists like Ian Paisley Jnr and Norman Tebbit attended an ‘anti-racist’ demonstration. The Board has never called demonstrations against the National Front or British Union of Fascists.

When Israel began using snipers to murder unarmed demonstrators in Gaza, the Board of Deputies blamed the Palestinians for their death

8.           The Board of Deputies is hardwired by its constitution into supporting Israel right or wrong. When Israel began using snipers to shoot unarmed demonstrators in Gaza the Board of Deputies supported them.

9.           Why, if the concern over anti-Semitism was genuine, was the same concern not extended to other forms of racism?  Luke Akehurst, who has just been elected to Labour’s NEC openly supports Israel’s snipers. Are the lives of Palestinians worth less than Jewish lives? Over 70 Palestinian children have been shot dead by these snipers yet Formby and Corbyn, despite my complaining to them, did absolutely nothing. Even The Telegraph carried a UN Report that said that Israel deliberately targeted children. Naturally Starmer or his Blairite choice as General Secretary aren’t going to expel Akehurst but it was Corbyn and Formby who did nothing.

10.      Why if the concern about anti-Semitism is genuine are anti-Zionist and non-Zionist Jews being suspended and expelled? Its a funny type of campaign which targets anti-racist Jews whilst ignoring Zionists.

11.      If the concern was really about anti-Semitism why did the Zionists clamour for Labour to adopt, in September 2018, the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. A definition which has been panned by former Jewish Court of Appeal Judge Stephen Sedley (Defining Anti-Semitism), Hugh Tomlinson QC, Geoffrey Robinson QC, Sir Geoffrey Bindman and even David Feldman of the Pears Institute.  The IHRA is a definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ which conflates anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Its a definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ that anti-Semites are quite happy with!

12.      If the campaign was really about anti-Semitism, then why has the newly elected NEC member, Gemma Bolton, been made the subject of an investigation for saying that Israel was an Apartheid State. [See Labour probes new NEC member following 'Israel apartheid state' posts]

13.      Why is it that all those who are now targeted for expulsion under the fast track procedures that Formby and Corbyn introduced questioned about their attitudes to Israel not Jews?

On any objective analysis the campaign against ‘anti-Semitism’ was always about Israel and Zionism. In December of 2016 Corbyn voluntarily proposed the adoption of the IHRA’s 38 word definition of anti-Semitism? The idiocy of Corbyn beggars belief.

If you call Israel what it is, a racist apartheid state that is now 'antisemitic' according to Herr Sturmer

Not only did Corbyn make a rod for his own back by introducing the concept of ‘denialism’ whereby if you argue that the Labour Party doesn’t have an ‘anti-Semitism’ problem then you are ‘part of the problem’. This is the same kind of ‘logic’ that led to women and men in the Salem Witchhunt being hanged. As Elizabeth Purdy wrote:

Those who publicly questioned the guilt of a defendant were likely to be accused of witchcraft themselves.

To compound his idiocy and cowardice Corbyn opposed Open Selection at the 2018 Labour Conference. Once again he appeased his enemies. They have repaid him handsomely by threatening to resign from the Labour Party if Corbyn resumes the Labour Whip.

And if this was not enough at the 2019 Conference Corbyn and Formby lied by arguing that the proposed ‘fast track’ expulsion procedures, whereby you have no hearing and the NCC is bypassed, would only be used for ‘egregious’ cases. This has been used to expel hundreds of socialists and anti-racists.

Corbyn was the author of his own misfortune but he wasn’t the only one. McDonnell, who had previously traded on his far-left credentials was even worse than Corbyn.  He intervened when even Corbyn and his office wanted to discipline Margaret Hodge. McDonnell played the role of a scab throughout telling us to listen to the Tory Board. He said that he was ‘tearing his hair out’ about ‘anti-Semitism’. McDonnell constantly was the appeaser-in-chief.

What can we do now?

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the fight against the Right in the Labour Party is becoming hopeless, not least because of the capitulation of most of the formerly Corbyn left. A campaign of Open Defiance of David Evans is needed, a refusal by local parties to accept Evan’s dictats. Suspensions and expulsions without a fair hearing should not be recognised.

Campaign Group MPs would, if they even knew what the word solidarity meant, resign the whip in sympathy with Corbyn. As it is these cowards and opportunists rush like gadarene swine to distance themselves from Corbyn. When a petition in support of Corbyn was circulated only 22 Campaign Group MPs signed it. Careerists like Russell Lloyd-Moyle refused to sign it because it was ‘political’ as if the suspension of Corbyn was a humanitarian venture.

The latest letter from 28 Campaign Group MPs has not been signed by Momentum front benchers like Sam Tarry. This is disgraceful.  So-called ‘left’ MPs and Tarry is a full-on Lansmanite, are prioritising their own personal careers over the fate of Corbyn and the left.

Corbyn himself should declare that he is sitting as an independent socialist MP and will stand again at the next election. Indeed it would be a good idea if he resigned and stood for re-election in a by-election. Starmer’s decision to suspend him would blow up in his face if, as is likely, Corbyn won the re-election. At that point Corbyn and those socialists left in the Campaign Group should announce that they are leaving Labour to set up a Socialist Party.

Victory can still be salvaged from defeat but unfortunately the Campaign Group and Corbyn himself is so lacking in any Marxist or class politics that they are blown hither and thither in the gusts of capitalist reaction. Of one thing we should be clear. The Labour Party has been captured by Zionist and imperialist supporters who are as dedicated supporters of neo-liberal capitalism as Boris Johnson.

Tony Greenstein


Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Riad El-Taher, The Life & Times of an Oil Engineer, Anti-Imperialist, Anti-Zionist Peace Activist, and Comrade

Book Review –

O Daughter of Babylon – Journey of an Iraqi Patriot and What Chilcot  Didn’t Say

Two years ago Riad el-Taher died from cancer. In March 2017 Riad was expelled from the Labour Party, not for ‘anti-Semitism’, but because he had been imprisoned for having breached the West’s genocidal sanctions on Iraq which had killed half a million Iraq children. Riad was fingered to Labour’s crooked General Secretary, Iain McNicol by the corrupt former New Labour MP, Jewish Labour Movement member, Zionist and war criminal, Ivor Caplin.

Many of the victims of Labour’s witchhunt are well known, but Riad was one of the less well-known ones. Riad had come to Britain as a young man in order to train as a skilled engineer in the oil industry. When the West embarked on hostilities with Iraq Riad threw himself into campaigning first against the West’s murderous sanctions on Iraq and then into the anti-war movement.

Tam Dalyell - immaculate in the summer heat in Iraq

Riad worked closely with three Labour MPs – Tony Benn, George Galloway and Tam Dalyell - in the fight against sanctions and Friendship Across Frontiers, (FAF) the organisation he set up to oppose them. Jeremy Corbyn too was part of the campaign and must have known Riad yet he didn’t, as leader, lift a finger to help Riad.

In the interests of appeasing reactionary creatures like Caplin, who were busy stabbing him in the back, Riad was thrown under the bus by Corbyn. In any other circumstances the suspension of Corbyn by Keir Starmer might seem like poetic justice.

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Shortly before he died, with the help of Caroline O'Reilly from Brighton & Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Frances Clark-Lowes, an autobiography covering the life of Riad, from prosperous oil engineer and businessman to anti-war activist, prisoner, peace campaigner and Labour Party member was published, edited by Francis Clark-Lowes.

The book has an introduction by the late Tam Dalyell, who was MP for Linlithgow (formerly West Lothian), an old Etonian, fierce anti-imperialist and idiosyncratic member of the Campaign Group. He was the first Father of the House, serving for 43 years as an MP, to be ordered to withdraw from the House of Commons by the right-wing Glaswegian Speaker Michael Martin (who would become an early casualty of the Parliamentary expenses scandal).

In his introduction Dalyell records the puzzlement of Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s Christian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister: We were dining you; you were dining us. How did all this [the First Gulf War and the sanctions] happen?’

It is a familiar story of regimes that do the bidding of US imperialism and bask in their approval only to be undermined and overthrown when they get too big for their boots. Libya’s Colonel Ghadaffi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad received similar treatment. The only government in the Middle East that hasn’t received this treatment, because of its special relationship with the United States, is Israel. To a lesser extent this is also true of Saudi Arabia.

Donald Rumsfeld - the United States arms salesman to Saddam

In the wake of the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis, the West encouraged Saddam Hussein to wage war on Iran. We supplied him with the weaponry he needed and Donald Rumsfield played the role of the West’s arms salesman. Germany was the major supplier of the chemical weapons used to repulse the Iranian  military with the US coming in second. Later these weapons were used to murder 5,000 Kurds at Halabja. The fact that these same chemical weapons, which had long been destroyed by 2002/3, provided the pretext for the invasion of Iraq by Britain and the United States in 2003 demonstrates the rank hypocrisy of western imperialism.

The US Ambassador in Baghdad, April Glaspie, gave the green light to Saddam to invade Kuwait in August 1990, promising that there would be no retaliation and that the US had no opinion on their dispute with Kuwait. A week later Saddam attacked and the rest is history.

Although Tariq Aziz was puzzled, the question is not a difficult one to answer. Having used Iraq to subdue Iran, whose clerical regime had overthrown the Shah, the US then turned on the Iraqi regime which was also too independent for their liking. Iraq, just like Iran today, was seen as a threat to the US and Israel’s hegemony.

Riad at his farm near the Euphrates

Aziz’s words to Dalyell were to prove prophetic:

People in the West may think that Saddam and I are awful – but if you get rid of us, what will follow will be far, far worse.

And so it has proved. ‘Regime change’ was always justified in terms of how terrible a regime was. MPs like war monger Anne Clwyd bought into the idea of Saddam as a unique monster amongst angels. But it was all a bloody hypocritical charade. Certainly Saddam’s Iraq was a vicious and repressive, anti-communist police state but the West has never objected to such regimes on principle, as we can see with Saudi Arabia and Egypt today.

The real reason for the attack on Iraq, as Riad repeatedly pointed out, was that despite attacking Iran with the blessing of the West, the Baathist regime still maintained its independence from the United States. Unlike the Gulf regimes and Saudi Arabia it wasn’t a client regime. Saddam Hussein’s fatal mistake was to believe that in exchange for acting as the West’s mercenary he would be allowed free reign to attack Kuwait, a client regime that the West had created through lines drawn in the sand.

Two years ago Riad was laid to rest in a Sussex graveyard near Hassocks

It has to be emphasised that Kuwait was an artificial creation of British imperialism. The very name means ‘small human settlement.’ It was a small village on the Persian Gulf, a district of Basra in the Ottoman Empire. It was created as a separate entity in 1921/22 by the British with the sole purpose of denying Iraq access to the Persian Gulf. In 1920 the Iraq Petroleum Company had been created, with 95% of the shares going to Britain, France and the United States.

When the Kuwaiti Sheikh was forced to agree, in 1938, to a Legislative Council, the members promptly voted unanimously to demand unification with Iraq. In March 1939 there was a popular uprising of Kuwaiti youth, the Free Kuwaiti movement, demanding unity with Iraq. It was savagely put down by the Kuwaiti Sheikh with the military support of the British. [see Mechanisms of Western Domination: A Short History of Iraq and Kuwait, David Klein]
The Iraqi state under Saddam Hussein provided a comprehensive free health care service for Iraqis and services such as water and electricity were efficient. The state was certainly repressive but it was also efficient in delivering services such as education. All of this was destroyed by the imperialist invasion which targeted and destroyed water treatment plants and power stations. When the US invaded its troops
protected the oil industry and permitted the national museum, containing priceless artifacts dating back thousands of years, to be looted and destroyed.

Despite its propaganda about the invasion in 2003 being a ‘war for democracy’ it was always about one thing only, control of Iraq’s oil resources. As soon as the United States installed itself, it set about reversing the nationalilsation of the oil industry.

The title of this book is taken from Psalm 137 in which the Jewish exiles, after the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, lament their plight and promise vengeance: ‘By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion’ ending with

‘Oh daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!’

The Iraqi Jewish community became one of the largest, richest and most cultured communities in the Middle East as well as the world’s oldest Jewish community. There are two versions of the Talmud, the source of halakah, the rabbinical interpretation of the Bible – the Jerusalem and the Babylonian Talmud. It is the latter which is the authoritative version.

Two giants of the Labour movement - Tony Benn and Tam Dalyell - Corbyn unfortunately was never up to it

When the State of Israel was established the Zionists set about destroying this Jewish community. They were needed because Israel required a Jewish working class to service the Ashkenazi Zionist ruling class. Zionist agents, who had served in the British army and Haganah in Iraq during the war had accumulated considerable amounts of arms which they stored in places such as synagogues. During 1950 and 1951 bombs were thrown outside places which Jews frequented such as coffee shops, cultural meeting places and even a synagogue, Masuda Shemtov. The Zionists sought to simulate anti-Semitism in order to ‘encourage’ Jewish emigration from Iraq. [See The Zionist Destruction of the Iraqi Jewish Community and Prophets in Babylon, Marion Woolfson] The result was that by the end of 1951 just 5,000 out of Iraq’s 120,000 Jews remained in the country.

Riad was born in Basra in southern Iraq between 1939 and 1941, his actual birthday is unknown. In 1956 he came to England to study for a diploma in engineering at Southend Technical College. Shortly afterwards he attended a demonstration in London against the Suez invasion at which Aneurin Bevan and Tony Benn spoke. In 1959 Riad came to Brighton to study for a higher diploma in engineering. After graduating in 1961 Riad went to the Central Electricity Engineering Board for his post-graduate studies and in 1962 he got married to Doreen Saunders, a fellow student in Southend.

On returning to Iraq, Riad obtained work at a new Russian built power station in Basra as an engineer.  He was to spend his next 8 years working for the Iraqi Petroleum Company. Despite his qualifications he came up repeatedly against British expatriates whose main interest was in preserving an all White European monopoly on skilled jobs. One aspect of maintaining neo-colonial control of the oil industry in the Middle East was maintaining an unofficial colour bar.

Riad describes how the IPC had a vested interest in producing the minimum amount of oil in order to keep the Iraqi government poor and weak. That way the role of foreign oil companies in running Iraq’s oil production could be maintained.

Following the nationalist coup in 1958 and the ousting of the British puppet Suez Aneurin Bevan Central Electricity Engineering Board for his post-graduate studies and in 1962 he got married to Doreen Saunders Nuri e-Said and King Faisal, the drive was on for the Iraqisation of the oil industry. Riad describes how he ‘experienced considerable hardship, abuse and discrimination at the hands of the British staff.’ (16) His wife was allowed to join the British club in Basra, he was not.

Riad described one incident in which his British supervisor insisted that he was irreplaceable. It was only when his request for annual leave was rejected because he could not be replaced that Riad was promoted!  At that point he was granted 3 months leave only to find, when he came back, that it was Riad who was in charge!

In 1963 the Baathists came to power in a CIA-backed coup and their protégé was none other than Saddam Hussein! In Revealed: how the West set Saddam on the bloody road to power Patrick Cockburn wrote that

The death lists were drawn up in CIA stations across the Middle East with the help of Iraqi exiles. In Egypt the agency was helped by an Egyptian intelligence officer who got much of his information from Saddam Hussein living in exile in Cairo... 

As the CIA lists reached Baghdad the result was a massacre of extraordinary ferocity. Pregnant women and old men were killed, some tortured to death in front of their children. Mr Aburish says: “Saddam Hussein, who had rushed back to Iraq from exile in Cairo to join the victors, was personally involved in the torture of leftists in the separate detention centres for the fellaheen [peasants] and the muthaqafeen, or educated class.”

In 1970 Riad illegally emigrated from the country. After starting work for Shell he was sent to Kuwait where expatriate Britons were in charge. Kuwait had no equivalent to Iraqisation and he met the same problem of racism during work.

As a skilled engineer with many contacts it wasn’t long before Riad set himself up as a consultant and prosperous businessman before moving to the New Forest in 1984 to set up a poultry farm.

This was the time of the Iran-Iraq war, ‘the biggest mistake it, or indeed Iran, ever made. This pointless conflict was financed and encouraged by the Western world, Russia and China.’

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2nd August 1990 ‘marked a crucial turning point in my life.’ Thus began the institution of crippling sanctions which marked Riad’s entrance into British politics.

Riad described the atrocity propaganda which accompanied the West’s campaign against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  One particularly famous incident was the appearance on US TV of a distraught Kuwaiti woman who claimed to have seen Kuwaiti babies being thrown out of their incubators by Iraq’s military. It was only months later that two New Forest Philipino nurses who had worked at the hospital revealed that no babies were thrown out of incubators and that the distressed Kuwaiti ‘nurse’ had never worked there.  She was in fact a member of the Kuwaiti ruling family!

Throughout the book Riad calls Israel ‘the Zionist entity’. Riad was a fierce anti-Zionist who refused to recognise its legitimacy. At times though he ascribes too much power to Israel. E.g. in the first Gulf War, in order to cement its alliance with the Arab states, Israel was told, notwithstanding Iraqi missile attacks, not to take any action that would imperil the imperialist alliance with the Arab countries.

Riad was accused by the New Forest Philipino Blairites and people like Ann Clywd as being a Saddam apologist. This is untrue. He was an Iraqi nationalist and fiercely resented the devastation of his country. His story is an antidote to the imperialist narrative which portrayed Saddam Hussein as a one-dimensional monster. That Saddam Hussein was a brutal and repressive dictator is not in doubt but he was the creation of the CIA.

Riad makes a number of criticisms of Saddam Hussein, not least the persecution of Iraqis of Iranian origin. (p. 305) However it would be fair to say that Riad is guilty of overlooking the persecution of the workers’ movement and the destruction of democratic parties, as well as the use of torture and murder by the ruthless Baathist regime. Riad tended only to see the regime’s achievements without seeing the cost. As Riad put it:

‘I had no illusions about the President; he was a man who ruled with an iron hand. So, however was Stalin, but Churchill didn’t shy away from a friendly relationship with him.’ (p.305)

Riad described how Iraq was the only oil-producing country where technology transfer occurred in the area of engineering design and how, after nationalisation in 1972 Iraq’s Ministry of Oil made strenuous efforts to promote engineering design. It was this economic nationalism, the desire to achieve economic independence and not WMD which were behind western sanctions and the 2003 invasion.

Riad had no hesitation in branding Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait as an unbridled mistake. This was because:

‘Saddam deluded himself that he was the supreme leader who could challenge and win against the regional power Iran. He was duped by the US into attacking this neighbouring country and the Iraqi people paid for the most stupid mistake of his life with eight years of carnage and impoverishment.’ (53)

Riad threw himself into the campaign against sanctions on Iraq. He approached Tam Dalyell MP and persuaded him to come to Iraq to see for himself the devastation that had been wrought. As a columnist for New Scientist Dalyell was already aware of the plight of Iraqi children from a report by Harvard’s Medical School which described how

‘a country famous for its medicine… had been reduced to a chronic shortage of drugs and sanction were hitting the vulnerable, young and old.’

Because of his contacts with Saddam and the ruling circles in Iraq from his days in the oil industry, Riad was able to arrange the visit of Tam Dalyell, George Galloway and Tim Llewellyn, an ex-BBC Middle East reporter, to Iraq to see for themselves the devastation wrought by sanctions. It was not an easy trip as there were no flights to Baghdad. Instead they had to fly to Amman and from there make an arduous journey by car through the desert to Baghdad.

Riad organised a number of such delegations to Iraq. One such was for the late Sue Lloyd-Roberts, a BBC journalist, Tam Dalyell and Albert Reynolds, the ex-Taoiseach of Ireland.

In 1993 Riad set up Friendship Across Frontiers, at Tam’s suggestion, to campaign against sanctions. It was supported by 32 MPs, including 22 Labour and 5 Tories. In 1997 Labour was elected to power and Riad described how

‘I had high hopes that a Labour government, with its internationalist and anti-imperial traditions, augured well for Iraq.’

He was to be disappointed. Blair ‘soon revealed himself to be an ardent supporter of US policy and also of the Zionist entity.’

As part of the run-up to the invasion the US Congress passed in 1998 the Iraq Liberation Act. The Blair government were their willing collaborators. Foremost amongst the supporters of the sanctions was former firebrand and Anti-Apartheid activist Peter Hain, by now a Foreign Office minister. During a debate on Iraq Hain stated that

‘The recent documentary produced by John Pilger tried to show that sanctions are responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people…. It is a lie propagated by Saddam Hussein and his apologists.’  

Hain was referring to ‘Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq’.

Because Riad knew various members of the government from his oil industry days he was introduced to Saddam Hussein about whom he remarked that ‘those whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad’.  And western policy had certainly driven Saddam mad.

Riad’s assessment of Saddam and Baathist rule was undoubtedly optimistic and favourable however it is not true that Riad was a Saddam stooge. He wrote:

‘Yes Saddam and his political party did a lot of harm but equally they contributed to many popular measures… the loyalty of ministers and officials went right to the top. Following Saddam’s example they were accountable to themselves and to the people. Corruption was largely eliminated.’

Riad undoubtedly turned a blind eye to Saddam’s ruthless elimination of opponents and fierce repression of the workers’ movement, because of the imperialist attack on his country. However given the one-sided and hypocritical imperialist press that left no  stone unturned in its damnation of Saddam, its former favourite, this is not surprising.

A similar thing happened in 1983 with the invasion of the Falklands/ Malvinas by the Argentinian Junta. An anti-communist regime which, like Pinochet in Chile Thatcher had unequivocally supported, suddenly became a fascist monster! British newspapers which had never uttered a word of criticism about its murder of 30,000 leftists and the torture of thousands more, suddenly woke up to the Junta’s human rights abuses.

Riad was of the opinion that

‘Saddam’s support for the Palestinians was, unlike that of other Arab leaders, consistent and generous  and inspired admiration across the Arab and Muslim world.’

Unfortunately Riad didn’t see that Saddam’s ‘support’ for the Palestinians was not quite as generous as he made out. Saddam saw support for the Palestinians as a means of gaining the support of the Arab masses in his battle against the United States and Britain.

Riad forgot that Saddam’s ‘support’ including his sheltering of rogue PLO official Abu Nadel, whose attempted assassination of Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Argov in London in 1982 provided the pretext for the invasion of Lebanon. Saddam, like the Syrian regime, maintained its own faction within the PLO, in this case the Arab Liberation Front.

In the run-up to the invasion the West castigated Saddam for the mass murder of 5,000 Kurds at Halabja in 1988. However, at the time, the CIA blamed it on Iran. I can remember the BBC at the time describing it as an ‘alleged’ attack by Iraq.

After the first Gulf War in 1990 the UN imposed crippling sanctions on Iraq which devastated the country. It wasn’t the regime which was most affected but children and poor people. The purpose of the sanctions was to degrade the economy and turn the people against the regime.

When Madeline Albright, the US Secretary of State was interviewed by Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes, Stahl put it to her that:

‘We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?’

To which Albright replied:

‘I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.’ (6.12.96.) page 303.

The purpose of the sanctions wasn’t to ensure that Iraq conformed to international law and rid itself of the weapons of mass destruction that the West had supplied but a means of waging war by other means. They were the softening up process that laid the basis for the invasion.

By Resolution 687 of 3rd April 1991, the UN Security Council established the terms and conditions for a formal cease-fire between Iraq and the UN. On 18 April 1991 there was established by the Security Council the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the weapon inspectors. From the start, as the UN later admitted, UNSCOM directly facilitated the creation of an intelligence system for the United States in violation of its mandate.

Realising that if the inspectors took their job too seriously it would weaken the case for war, neo-con Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz charged the CIA to investigate Hans Blix, the head of the Inspection Commission.

It was into this scenario that Riad entered. Riad, because of his previous connections, became involved in the UN’s Oil For Sanctions programme. He argued that he did this, not for the money he earned but because he wished to help his fellow countrymen.

The regime soon imposed a ‘surcharge’ on each barrel of oil ‘lifted’ as a way of earning foreign currency though they later dropped it as it was more profitable directing its exports via Jordan whose economy would have collapsed if sanctions had prevented it trading.

As Riad observed, one of the consequences of the build up to the war was the ‘working alliance’ between the ‘Great Satan’ the USA and a member of the ‘axis of evil’ Iran. The US’s attack on the Baathist regime could not help but be of assistance to Iran strategically. It also ensured that Iran, which armed and equipped the Badr Brigades and other sectarian militia, confessionalised the struggle against the USA.

Riad described a meeting in the summer of 2002 between Ahmad Chalabi, a right-wing Iraqi exile and US protégé and an Iranian Ayatollah Abdul-Azis al-Hakim and Donald Rumsfeld with Dick Cheney, the Vice-President joining them via video conferencing.

Riad saw the evil influence of Israel everywhere. However although it gave nominal support to the attack on Iraq, Israel was more concerned about the strengthening of Iran. I have seen no evidence that Israel played any part in the decision of the United States to invade. Riad was right to say that the primary motivation was the US’s determination to regain control of Iraq’s oil but he was wrong to suggest that protection of the ‘Zionist entity’ figured prominently.

Those who paid surcharges for oil lifts including Riad, were acting illegally but this was in the context of a sanctions regime which was deliberately killing thousands of Iraqis. However this intentional killing was not illegal. In addition the British and the Americans were turning a blind eye to those paying the surcharge and in the end only Riad was singled out for prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office. The judge at Riad’s trial maintained that his primary motive for breaking UN sanctions had been private gain but this was a lie. Even The Times raised the unfair prosecution of Riad and it was probably the general unease at the prosecution which led to the Court of Appeal’s reduction by 2 months of his 10 months sentence.

Riad takes us into the labyrinthine methods of Blair’s drive to war, including what became known as the ‘dodgy dossier’, which had been ‘borrowed’ from a graduate student in California to justify making war on Iraq. Robin Cook described it as ‘the most extraordinary failure of British intelligence.’

Riad describes the establishment of the Stop the War Coalition on 21st September 2001, which FAF was involved with. As well as being an anti-war activist Riad functioned as an unofficial liaison between the Iraqi regime and the anti-war movement. He helped facilitate Tony Benn’s visit to Iraq shortly prior to the invasion.

An estimated 30,000 Iraqi combatants and 7,000 civilians died in the 2003 invasion compared to 196 of the coalition. Riad describes in all its gory details the catastrophe that was the Occupation. In particular the disaster that was ‘de-Baathification.’ It was modeled on de-Nazification in Germany except that Baathism wasn’t the equivalent of Nazism ideologically or politically.

This fateful decision, which caused the removal within a month of America’s first plenipotentiary, Jay Garner, and his replacement by Paul Bremer, rebounded on the Americans. It meant the complete disbandment of the Iraq army. Thousands of Sunni soldiers and technicians were rendered unemployed together with their weaponry. It was a recipe for sectarianism as the Shi’ite majority were played off against the formerly Sunni administrators. It was this decision that led to the creation of Al Qaeda in Iraq which morphed into ISIS.

There had been no post-occupation planning. De-baathification had been the brain child of 2 neo-cons – Douglas Feith and Ahmed Chalabi, an exile puppet of the Americans who had no base of support in Iraq. Together with Wolfowitz, Cheney and Richard Perle, a former head of the CIA, they set the seal on the bloodshed that followed.

The CIA station chief in Baghdad warned Bremer that firing the technicians who operated the electric, transportation and water infrastructure of the country would drive up to 50,000 Baathists underground and that in 6 months they would regret this decision. As a result of the ensuing violence, by early 2006 the Lancet estimated that ‘excess deaths’ in Iraq were 654,965 compared to less than 5,000 coalition deaths.

One result of America’s divide and rule policy was that Iraq’s religious minorities – Christians, Sabians and Turkomans - became targets for the sectarian militia. Riad described how the American occupation regime’s policies amounted to an intellectual cleansing of the country. ‘The vacuum created by the purging of Sunnis in high positions was filled by Shias loyal to Iran.’ (227)

FAF which had been originally founded to campaign against the sanctions now faced the occupation of Iraq. Tam Dalyell, its main supporter, retired from parliament in 2005. Fortunately Harry Cohen, an anti-Zionist Jewish MP, agreed to become a second patron of FAF. Riad was living proof that the Zionist accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ against its opponents was a lie.

Riad described how the Americans lost no time in drafting a new oil law for Iraq. It allowed production share agreements with foreign oil companies. A poll showed that 63% of Iraqis opposed this law, but American democracy did not include matters of the economy.

David Whyte in the British Journal of Criminology, wrote that:

The scale and intensity of the appropriation of Iraqi oil revenue makes the 2003 invasion one of the most audacious and spectacular crimes of theft in modern history. The institutionalization of corporate corruption that followed the invasion can only be understood within the context of the coalition forces’ contempt for universal principles of international law enshrined in the Hague and Geneva treaties.’ (p.212)

As Riad remarked of Saddam:

we live in a hypocritical world in which extreme violence is condemned with great moral self-righteousness by the very people who initiate yet greater violence and destruction, and all in the name of democracy and human rights.

Riad was particularly moved by the capture and sentencing to death in 2010 of Tariq Aziz, who was not part of the regime’s apparatus of terror. He was a Christian and a suave diplomat rather than someone with real power. Because of international pressure Aziz was not executed but allowed to die of cancer.

Riad describes what he called a tale of two trials.  Firstly that of Blair before the Chilcott Inquiry and then himself at Southwark Crown Court. Unfortunately the wrong person was sent to prison.

The Chilcott Inquiry took some 7 years to report and there is no doubt that when it did finally report with its over 2 million largely unread words, the steam had gone out of the anti-war campaign.

Riad heavily criticised the unreality of Chilcott for arguing that oil and Palestine didn’t fit within his remit. It was abundantly clear that oil and strategic hubris were the main reasons for the invasion.

The second trial was of Riad himself. Riad was singled out amongst the thousands who breached the UN sanctions regime, itself a breach of international law, for punishment because of his anti-war activities.

On 7th August 2008 Riad and his then partner, Charmaine, were woken by more than 20 police officers early in the morning. Between March 2010 and 2011 Riad was tried. As he remarked

If what I did was considered worthy of prosecution, then the charge should have been applied to all those who lifted oil under the oil-for-food programme during the period between 2000 and 2002, not to me and my co-Defendant alone. After all, the SFO had only to look at the Volcker Report to know who the main culprits were.

When Deputy First Secretary at the British mission in New York, Carne Ross, was cross-examined, he confirmed that the government had turned a blind-eye to the payment of a surcharge. Riad’s legal team however agreed to his trial being linked to that of a Pakistani oil-trader, Aftab Hasan. ‘Unlike his position, mine was one of principle and patriotism’.

Hasan was in it for the money, unlike Riad, so it was a particularly stupid decision of his legal team. As a result Riad was coerced into pleading guilty. The Judge let it be known that if he did not plead guilty and was convicted he could get up to 7 years in prison. That is British justice.

Not only did Riad serve a few months in prison, mainly Wandsworth but also Ford in West Sussex but he was ordered to pay £500,000 ‘compensation’.

The final injustice was being expelled on a trumped up pretext from the Labour Party. The recent EHRC Report complains that Corbyn’s team interfered in some of the disciplinary proceedings. The real complaint should be that Corbyn, in his terminal stupidity, refused to intervene in cases like that of Riad and instead allowed crooked McNicol, the General Secretary, to harass his supporters.

Riad had only recently been elected to the General Committee of Hove Labour Party and as someone on the left was seen by Caplin as a threat to his erstwhile boyfriend, the current MP Peter Kyle. Caplin, a crook who had figured prominently in the parliamentary expenses scandal, refused to pay back the £18,000 that he owed. This however was not deemed worthy of expulsion.

Ivor Caplin - the corrupt Zionist and former Hove MP who fingered Riad

Caplin had been a junior Defence Minister in 2003 at the time of the Iraq War. I can remember him cowering in his office at Portslade Town Hall whilst we were outside protesting. Riad had fought and taken risks, including serving a prison sentence, in order to undo the damage caused by Caplin and New Labour. The failure of Corbyn and the Momentum left to squash McNicol’s tawdry expulsion, without anything like a hearing, is a testament to how bankrupt they were.

Riad was a fervent opponent of Zionism but his analysis of the Israeli state often attributed to it powers it didn’t have. Riad called the Arab Spring ‘the Arab disaster’, which it did indeed turn out to be, but that was because of the fierce counter-reaction and in particular the efforts of the Saudis and the Gulf regimes to confessionalise the struggle of the Syrian people. However he was wrong to attribute the fall of Egypt’s President Mubarak to the belief by Israel that he was a ‘spent force’. Israel’s leaders, including the Zionist ‘dove’ Shimon Peres expressed their anguish at Mubarak’s ousting and no doubt played a part in the overthrow of the Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

Peter Kyle - the racist MP for Hove and Vice Chair of Labour Friends of Israel

Riad ends the book with a poem by Karen Audin, his yoga teacher and lover, which gave him comfort while in prison:


They may have taken away my liberty

But there is a peaceful place

That I can see

So when at times it seems too much

I know I can just get in touch

With that stillness that resides in me

The place where I am always free.

Despite his ordeals Riad found friendship and comradeship amongst fellow party members in Brighton and in Brighton & Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign.  There will always be a place in our hearts for our steadfast comrade Riad el-Taher.

Tony Greenstein

Riad’s book can be ordered from New Generation Publishing, 2018, ISBN 978-1-78955-323-9 (hardback) & ISBN 978-1-78955-3122-2 (paperback).

Prices on Amazon are £23.99 hardback and £17.99 paperback. However you can also order it from Francis Clark-Lowes, on special offer while stocks last, at the following prices by contacting

Hardback without pictures: £10 + £3 p&p within the UK (online link to pictures)

Paperback without pictures £6 + £3 p&p within the UK (online link to pictures)

Paperback with pictures £12 + £3 p&p within the UK