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Bouattia Booted!

Malia Bouatia the woman who has done more than most to ensure that the very term NUS has become synonymous with left wing antisemitism has been booted out of office after just one term.

Though for most Jewish students one term was by far and away enough.

Her successor Shakira Martin recently took a whole load of unwarranted flack for attending a UJS trip to Israel. It had the unintended affect of letting her know exactly how it felt to be a Jewish student in the NUS.

Naturally Free Speech on Israel felt the need to get involved;

Bravery in Iran

At Tabriz University in Iran, an awe-inspiring student stood on a stage with an official of the powerful and brutal Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and denounced him for killing and torturing Iranians and for supporting the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

I can only hope he somehow manages to stay safe.

And yes, I’ll say it: If he was in danger in Iran and sought refuge in the United States, he would likely be barred from entering under President Trump’s pending travel ban. Because, y’know, all Iranians are equally dangerous.

Hungary: the post-communist mafia state

Guest post by Karl Pfeifer

Because every morning I read the government newspaper Magyar Idök, Hungarian friends asked me if I am a masochist.

No, I am no masochist, my blood pressure is very low and without drinking an espresso without pills, my blood pressure becomes normal by reading this Budapest daily.

Their scribblers try to convince readers that George Soros is the man responsible for the more than a million migrants who came during the last two years to Europe, and that the Central European University (CEU) is a school for agents.

According to recent opinion research, only 22% of Hungarians sampled had not heard of the university and only 14% support the government’s plan to close it down. A sizable majority (63%) are against the government’s anti-CEU campaign.

What is the real reason for Prime Minister Orbán’s hatred of CEU? It is the spirit of a liberal university, where scientists show the real nature of Orbán’s autocratic regime.

CEU Press published in 2016 an excellent book by former Hungarian minister of education Bálint Magyar: Post-Communist Mafia State: the Case of Hungary. Kim Lane Scheppele, Laurance S. Rockfeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs, Princeton University has written a Foreword from which I quote:

Those curious about the Hungarian democratic implosion have an excellent guide in Bálint Magyar. With the theoretical sophistication of an academic analyst but with the hands-on- experience of someone who has been an important player in Hungary politics for the last several decades, The Post-Communist Mafia State is the best analysis yet of the deep reasons why Hungarian constitutional democracy fell apart so fast. It explains what happened in Hungary but it does far more that this: Magyar gives us the tools to understand a new sort of political formation – the post-communist mafia state…

What can be done? Of course, the answer to democratic failure should lie with democratic organization. In most democracies, when there is a breakdown, a democratic population can rise up and reassert its own self-governing powers. But when a country is no longer a democracy except as a façade without content and when it would be impossible for the people to displace this government and substitute a new one because there are too many mechanisms in place that would punish anyone for trying, then democratic hopes are not enough…

The failure of a democratic state should be a cause for concern in the international community, especially when anti-liberalism is spreading and new autocrats are looking for models.

The actions of the post-communist mafia state are closely aligned with the interests of power and wealth concentrated in the hands of a small group of insiders. While the traditional mafia channeled wealth and economic players into its spheres of influence by means of direct coercion, the mafia state does the same by means of parliamentary legislation, legal prosecution, tax authority, police forces and secret service. The innovative conceptual framework of the book is important and timely not only for Hungary, but for other post-communist countries subjected to autocratic rulers.

Another Scene from Corbyn’s Swamp

If you really don’t like antisemitism, there are some people you should challenge. Or, at the very least, avoid.

The former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad is prominent among them. His rank antisemitism has been well-known worldwide since 2003. He remains unrepentant in our times.

The crowds he draws are telling. Like this one:

Over 200 participants attended the ‘Exhibition and Forum on Palestine’, London on 31 March 2009, organised by the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War. His Excellency Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s fourth prime minister delivered the keynote address. The Forum was officiated by Dr Rais Yatim, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. The speakers were Mr Tony Benn, Rabbi Cohen, Ms Lauren Booth, Sir Gerald Kaufman and Ms Cynthia McKinney.

That’s Rabbi Cohen of Neturei Karta, the Jewish fig leaves for the worst Israel haters. Lauren Booth is a crazed devotee of Hamas and an enthusiastic fan of Gilad Atzmon, the antisemite’s antisemite. Cynthia McKinney is a notorious conspiracy freak.

Tony Benn and Gerald Kaufman were of course fixtures in nasty far left circuits and naturals for a Mahathir event.

Note the “genocide” slur on the stage.

Dodgy Lord Sheikh was there too (left).

So was Michele Renouf (centre), the far right Holocaust denial cheerleader.

David Pidcock was also in attendance. Here he is with McKinney and Renouf.

Pidcock is a right charmer:

A British-born convert to Islam, Pidcock is the author of an extensive collection of conspiracy-laden anti-Semitic works, including the 1992 work Satanic Voices Ancient & Modern, which blames most of the world’s current and ancient problems on a centuries-old conspiracy whose participants include Freemasons, Illuminati, “Luciferian Zionists,” the Rockefeller family, big oil companies and the Council on Foreign Relations. The principal Internet outlet for Pidcock’s writings is the website, which is devoted to fascist and anti-Semitic writings, prominently featuring The International Jew published by Henry Ford.

So, who else turned up at this hatred rally? No prizes for guessing.

Mr Corbyn can insist that he opposes antisemitism as much as he likes. His problem is that the record shows he is right at home in the worst swamps. His protestations are worthless. Actually, they are offensive.

Expel Ken Corbyn Out!

Some light relief from all the Livingstone/Corbyn nonsense in the run up to one of the most bizarre general elections in living memory was the campaign for a plane to fly over Wembley dragging the banner “Expel Ken Corbyn Out!”

The plane flew over Wembley stadium during the Arsenal Manchester City FA Cup Semi Final.

The Jewish News and the Daily Mail both covered it.

A great campaign, a great idea and a nice little bit of revenge from all the sane people out there against the crackpots in the Party!

Some of those crackpots came out to express their discontent on the crowdfunding page that raised the money for the plane:

Corbyn Droning

So the Islamic State leader al-Baghdadi is found by the intelligence agencies. Jeremy Corbyn is prime minister. The officers go to Downing Street to ask him if al-Baghdadi can be taken out in a drone strike.

This is the scenario Andrew Marr presented to Jeremy Corbyn earlier today. Watch Corbyn’s pained wriggling. Too tough, this one. Best talk about his mythical “political solution” for the Islamic State menace.

Well, of course. Here’s Mr Corbyn outside RAF Waddington calling our drones an “obscenity”. Why, we shouldn’t even have small arms, really.

We’re here today to say that we don’t agree with these drones. We don’t agree with this obscenity that’s going on before our very eyes here. That’s why just as much as we want to get rid of land mines, small arms, nuclear weapons, we want to get rid of drones as well.

Mr Corbyn does excel in political martyrdom operations, I’ll give him that.

An election round-up

Although Corbyn has attracted some new Labour supporters, many others remain unconvinced.  Janice Turner (£) outlines the horrible dilemmas facing moderate Labour supporters – stuck between the Scylla of a Labour wipeout and the Charybdis of a defeat mild enough for Corbyn to cling on:

Because the worst-case scenario for Labour moderates is if Theresa May’s majority isn’t so huge, just 40 or 50. I am braced for any election outcome except the arsonist still huddled in the burnt-out shell, shouting “It’s fine! We were only lightly singed. And anyway, it wasn’t my fault.” Which Corbyn will do without shame or honour, his chief objective being to cling to party apparatus whatever the cost. Squatting inside Labour’s blackened hulk he — or his designated hard-left successor — will wait until the next ravaging fire in 2022, which he will embrace as a purifying flame.

Here John Rentoul explains why it might be a good idea for centre-left voters to hold their nose and vote for Labour.  A sharp fall in Labour seats – many of them held by moderates – could make it easier for a Corbynite successor to get their name on the next leadership ballot.

Which brings us to plan C. If Labour is heavily defeated on 8 June, the number of MPs needed to reach the 15 per cent threshold would fall. If the number of Labour MPs, 232 at the last election, fell to 150, any candidate would need the support of 26 MPs and MEPs to stand (because there are, until 2019, 20 Labour MEPs). In other words, precisely the number who supported Corbyn in his second leadership campaign.

Although Corbyn is polling very poorly, May’s campaign hasn’t got off to a particularly rousing start.  In one of a series of posts on election prospects, Phil BC analyses the problems facing the PM:

While Jez held a rally (of course) and took awkward questions, May helicoptered to a golf club the other end of the country for the softest of launches with tame Tory councillors and assorted lickspittles. No journos, no members of the public. Crosby’s nightmare is to have her cornered and expected to answer questions where “we’re spending record amounts” won’t do as an answer. Their strategy has to be based around keeping her away from the public. There is nothing to be gained from engaging with them, and possibly a few losses as well.

Here’s an interesting dissection of Corbynism by Daniel Allington – long, and perhaps a bit overegged in placed, but well worth reading.

It is not just that members who voted for Corbyn in 2016 (i.e. after and despite the bad opinion polls, the dreadful showing in the May elections, the loss of the referendum, and the vote of no confidence from those it was Corbyn’s job to lead) are — as Warren’s YouGov poll shows — far more likely than those who voted against him to engage in low-investment forms of political activity, such as sharing campaign messages on social media, and far less likely to engage in high-investment forms of political activity, such as delivering leaflets or knocking on doors. It is that they have a very different idea of what the Labour Party is for, viewing it not as a party of parliamentary government or opposition but as an opportunity to engage in demonstrations, protests, marches, and rallies — as well as thrilling social media battles against insufficiently radical Labour MPs (and their supporters). These are the people for whom Corbyn was speaking when said ‘We’re all in power. We just don’t realise it. We have the power to speak, to influence, to demonstrate, to demand’ (interviewed in Nelson 2015).

In today’s Sunday Times, there’s a pretty devastating piece(£) by former Labour staffer Harry Fletcher.

The atmosphere was very, very fraught, and tense, and unhappy. People were working ridiculous hours. There was a glaring need for proper line management, and it just wasn’t happening. There was no diary, no schedule, few or no regular team meetings. Nobody knew what their job was. We discovered in passing one day that there were tens of thousands of unopened emails to Jeremy that no one had ever read.

What angered me most was their inability to understand why they’re perceived as anti-semitic. Jeremy believes he is completely non-discriminatory. He would never be hostile to someone in the street. But he is, if you like, anti-semitic along the institutionalised lines of the Metropolitan police in the 1990s, when they messed up the Stephen Lawrence investigation.

This prompted a baffling response from the Labour Media team’s account – for Harry Fletcher seems to be a Labour supporter and certainly worked for Corbyn.  Just terming this an ‘attack story’ and ‘Not serious’ doesn’t deal with the charges made.

Finally, news of two other elections.

Len McCluskey’s victory in the Unite General Secretary contest was fairly narrow and based on a low turnout. It was also overshadowed by the suspension of challenger Gerard Coyne from his regional officer post.  This story divided responses along predictable partisan lines, so it might be worth taking a look at coverage in the Corbyn-supporting Skwawkbox blog as well as, say, this piece by Nick Cohen.

And in France voters are faced with an intriguing and alarming four way split as they go to the polls today.  Here Natalie Nougayrède analyses some of the factors in play:

For decades, the left-right divide defined how voters behaved. Now, it has been blurred. With the fragmentation of France’s postwar parties, many people seem ready to cast a ballot not according to once well-identified, ideological affinities, but in search of who – or what – will best express a sense of revolt.

A cigarette salesman in Montauban, in his 30s, says he is thinking of switching from Le Pen to Jean-Luc Mélanchon, the leftwing firebrand who has been rising in polls recently. The salesman struggles to explain why. “They say Le Pen has said something controversial recently,” he says. “I’m not sure what” – a possible reference to the outcry that followed Le Pen’s recent statement about France not being responsible for the deportation of Jews under the Vichy regime.

There are so many possible play off pairings that voters, unusually, are having to vote tactically even in the first round.

Trump hosts Kid, Ted and Sarah at the White House

After news broke of a four-hour visit with President Trump at the White House (including dinner) by rockers Ted Nugent and Kid Rock, chaperoned by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, my first impulse was to visit Nugent’s Facebook page to see if this post was still there.

No, I thought. It couldn’t be. Surely he would remove it at least for this occasion.


But of course Trump has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law. And Obama was an Israel-hating antisemite. So no big deal, right?

Mr. Nugent, who posed, capped in a camouflage cowboy hat, with a seated Mr. Trump in the Oval Office, was the subject of a 2012 Secret Service investigation after suggesting violence toward Mr. Obama during that year’s re-election campaign.

Not everyone was pleased with the visit.

“Ted Nugent, vile racist who called Obama a subhuman mongrel, feted by Donald Trump. Disgusting, disgraceful,” Norman Ornstein, a progressive political scientist, wrote in a Twitter message.

Maduro regime helped fund Trump’s inaugural

As shortages of food and other basic commodities continue, and angry and desperate Venezuelans from formerly pro-chavista neighborhoods rioted, looted and clashed with government forces, resulting in at least 12 deaths, The Guardian reported on one of the Maduro regime’s recent expenditures:

A Venezuelan state-owned oil company, heavily indebted to the Russian oil giant Rosneft, made a $500,000 donation to Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities, it has emerged.

Foreign donations are banned under US law, but the Venezuelan company, PdVSA, made the donation through a US affiliate, Citgo Petrol, soon after offering a nearly 50% stake in Citgo to Rosneft as collateral for a $1.5bn loan.

These transactions come at a time when PdVSA and the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro is desperate for cash as oil revenues shrink and civil unrest grows. The influx of money from Rosneft is helping keep PdVSA and Maduro afloat.

If Venezuela defaults on the debt, Rosneft could stand to gain a controlling stake in Citgo, a prospect that has caused anxiety among both Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress. Under current circumstances, however, Rosneft could not take ownership of its shares in Citgo – which owns three refineries, as well as pipelines and oil terminals – because the Russian firm and its boss, Igor Sechin, are under US sanctions linked to Moscow’s military intervention in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

So the “socialist” government of Venezuela turned over half a million dollars in desperately-need cash to help fund Trump’s inaugural festivities, apparently in an effort to please Rosneft and keep Russian money flowing in.

Because why not?

Make history with the Iranian LGBTI movement

Here’s a cause people might like to support – sponsoring an Iranian boat in Amsterdam’s Canal Pride Parade 2017.

The Iranian government has a long and devastating history of violating LGBTI Rights. We (Iranian LGBTIs) have been imprisoned, tortured and in many cases executed. At the same time, social acceptance of LGBTI remains low in Iran in comparison with other target groups of the Iranian regime: many Iranian LGBTIs cannot come out to their families due to religious beliefs and societal norms. And those who do face anger, isolation, rejections and sometimes violence. This situation in Iran has resulted in many LGBTI fleeing to Western countries.

Amsterdam Canal Pride Parade 2017 – one of the most famous pride parades in the world – has invited us to show “This is my pride!” The first Iran-boat in any major Pride Parade worldwide. We (the Iranian LGBTI community) are going to come out of the closet, show ourselves in public and prove to all that we are not ashamed of ourselves and we exist even though social traditions and the government of Iran are against us. Equally important, we are joining the Pride Parade 2017 in support of the millions of LGBTI still facing extreme governmental repression and societal prejudice and our “Loose the Noose” campaign specifically will advocate against capital punishment for LGBTI in Iran.

Here’s the link if you’d like to make a donation.