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The Magnified Voice of Tiny JVL

Geert Wilders and freedom of speech

Khalil Yousuf has recently published a piece in the Economist deploring Geert Wilders’ proposed Muhammed themed cartoon competition. He asserts that modern communications have made this competition equivalent to shouting fire in a crowded theatre.

It’s true that the competition may further whip up anti-Islam/Muslim sentiment amongst some of those involved. Of course it may also – as a similar competition did a few years ago – result in violence from Islamists.

He argues:

The cartoon competition has only one purpose: to unite far right individuals into his anti-Islam cause. It has little to do with free speech.

The kind of speech which needs defending is rarely just ‘about’ free speech. It is by its nature controversial and often offensive, at least to some.  However in a sense such competitions can be seen as a blow for free speech as in the past cartoons of Muhammad have been met with extreme violence. So I can’t agree with Yousuf’s claim that in planning his competition Wilders has

only further entrenched himself as an enemy of free speech rather than its saviour.

Although I have sympathy for Yousuf (despite disagreeing with him) his arguments seems paradoxical and contradictory. He says, when arguing that the competition should be banned:

Laws must adapt accordingly, not to prevent freedom of speech but to safeguard it.

This doesn’t seem a logical position. I find the regular Iranian Holocaust competition utterly vile but I wouldn’t say it made the organisers enemies of free speech.

A better challenge to Geert Wilders’ free speech credentials might be to remind readers that he has advocated banning the Qur’an.  Now that move really could be said to have ‘entrenched [him] as an enemy of free speech rather than its saviour.’

Here’s Flemming Rose, the former editor of Jyllands-Posten, on Wilders’ inconsistency.

As a justification for his position on Islam, Wilders often quotes Abraham Lincoln’s words from a letter written in 1859: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” But one could turn Lincoln’s words against Wilders himself.

On a further more utilitarian note, and one more attuned to Yousuf’s understandable concerns about its impact on the Muslim community – banning this competition could actually inflame anti-Muslim sentiment more than holding it will.

Hat Tip: Ralph

The Reason Labour Can’t Pass IHRA in Full

It’s pretty simple really. If the Labour Party adopted the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, including the guiding examples they’d have to boot out thousands of activists.

The parts Labour of IHRA omitted by Labour were laid out in the Jewish Chronicle thus:

“it omits describing the “dual loyalties” trope as antisemitic. Accusing Jews of having dual loyalties was a tactic of both Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. The IHRA defines this clearly as an example of contemporary antisemitism.

Labour’s definition relegates it to further down the document, where it is merely described as “wrong”.

Labour also decided to omit two examples of how criticism of Israel can be antisemitic:Claiming the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour and comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

In fact, Labour’s definition directly contradicts the second example, saying: “Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors drawn from examples of historic misconduct. It is not antisemitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent.””

With that in mind here is Corbs comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis:

Labour can’t adopt the IHRA and all the examples offered within or they’d have to expel their most loyal Corbynite members. As a loyal Corbynite and member of Jewish Voice for Labour (which could be more accurately named as Voice for Labour) has said:

Legally and morally bankrupt, the formal adoption of these examples would serve to shut down any serious debate on the nature of Zionism within our Party, and would lead to the expulsion of a swathe of committed activists for Palestinian rights.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Neturei Karta, and the Corbynization of the Democratic Party

This is a guest post by Quizblorg

After her surprise win against the establishment candidate in New York’s Democratic primary has turned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into the new shooting star of the Democratic Party, much emphasis has been put – both by supporters and opponents – on her association with another party, the Democratic  Socialists of America (DSA), of whose New York City chapter she is a member.

Most of this attention has focused on the DSA’s domestic policies. But it is the party’s  increasingly strident anti-Zionism that seems particularly worrying. (It should be noted in passing that both this anti-Zionism and the party’s embrace of Communism are a far cry from the principles of of its founder, the great anti-Communist socialist Michael Harrington.)

At its national convention last year, the DSA committed itself to the BDS movement; apparently, the outcome of this vote was accompanied by chants of “From the river to the sea/Palestine will be free!” among the delegates.

But that is not all. In May of this year, the very same NYC chapter of the party that Ocasio-Cortez belongs to tweeted a video of a Neturei Karta speech on “Zionist propaganda”, adding the hashtags “#BDS” and “#FreePalestine” to leave no doubts about their endorsement of the group as members of a common cause.

(Neturei Karta is, of course, an utterly fringe group that is only of interest to anti-Zionist extremists looking for a Jewish fig leaf, and has no qualms about providing this service to the nastiest antisemites, like the Iranian regime.)

Ocasio-Cortez’ membership in a party that promotes Neturei Karta throws up worrying questions about her own attitude towards Israel, and Jews in general, and whether her rise to prominence might be another sign (after the election of former Farrakhan associate Keith Ellison as DNC Deputy Chair) of an insipient Corbynization of the Democratic Party. Any  journalists concerned about antisemitism would be well advised to press her on this issue.

John Woodcock MP Quits Labour Party

The MP claims he is the victim of a “rigged process” and that Corbyn “would pose a clear risk to UK national security as Prime Minister”

Understanding Labour and Antisemitism

David Hirsh wades in to the latest in a sad saga of Labour failing the Jewish community

In September 2001 at the global conference against racism in Durban there was a campaign to construct Zionism as the key racism on the planet. Opposition to antisemitism was presented as incompatible with opposition to racism. Jews were said to be white, Israel racist, and both were constructed as enemies of antiracism. 9/11 followed a week later and the peace process collapsed at the end of that year.

A number of Jewish NGOs pushed back against the splitting of antiracism from anti-antisemitism. They wanted left wing, pro-Palestinian and Jihadi antisemitism to be taken as seriously as that from the right and the fascists. The Jewish NGOs won a hearing within the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe) and the EU (European Union) but not within the UN (United Nations).

They drafted a definition which could help monitor and oppose antisemitism, especially in the newly democratic countries of Europe. This was eventually adopted by the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance), the British Government and the US State Department.

Sometimes the IHRA definition is criticized for being political. But in the world as it is, how could a definition of antisemitism be anything else?  The point is what are its politics?  And what are the politics of those who denounce it?

In such a contested realm, no definition could substitute for political judgment. There can be no app for your phone to tell you what is antisemitic. The IHRA definition offers a framework which can be helpful in making an informed judgement.

It offers examples of things which may be considered, depending on context, to be antisemitic. It says that denying Jewish self-determination may be antisemtic if it is claimed that any state of Israel would necessarily be a racist endeavour. It says that it may be right in some contexts to judge that comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is antisemitic. It offers less controversial examples too. And then it emphasises the point that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’.

Opponents of the definition say that some of the things they want to do, like denouncing Israelis as Nazis, and treating people they say are Zionists as one would treat racists, are deemed antisemitic under the definition. They say that even though the definition is clear that criticism of Israel is legitimate, it does not really mean it. They imply that even within the definition of antisemitism itself, the Jews are up to something sinister.

In April 2009, President Ahmadinejad made an antisemitic speech at the UN. Seumas Milne, now a key advisor to Jeremy Corbyn, denounced those states which protested against the speech by walking out, in the following terms: ‘what credibility is there in Geneva’s all-white boycott?’ Milne was pushing the Durban understanding that opposition to left or Jihadi antisemitism was likely to be a kind of white supremacism, perpetrated by the powerful and functioning to silence the voice of the oppressed.

You don’t have to treat the IHRA definition as holy to be angry about Labour’s disavowal. People are angry because Labour is sacrificing its antiracist tradition to legitimize those of its members and allies who want to do things which the definition warns against. Labour doesn’t like the definition because it is a political definition which describes and opposes political antisemitism.

The biggest specific problem with Labour’s homemade definition is that it declares that hostility to Israel could only be antisemitic if motivated by antisemitic intent. This is a radical break from everything which is accepted in the scholarly study of racism and in antiracist practice.

Read more here

“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.”

Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and 2008 Republican candidate for President of the United States, offered one of the milder criticisms I’ve seen of President Trump’s encounter in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin:

Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.

It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.

Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency. That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful and inexplicable.

No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are — a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.

If anyone wants to offer a defense of Trump’s performance, I’d be interested to see it.

The Remnant of Al Muhajiroun

The Times has noted that Sophie Rahman, headteacher of Eton Community School in Essex, has been banned from teaching.

This school that hired Khuram Butt, one of the terrorists who carried out the terror attack close to Borough Market that killed 8 and wounded another 48 people.

They report that

Sophie Rahman allowed Khuram Butt to teach children as young as three without any background checks, which would have revealed his violent past, a Teaching Regulation Agency hearing in Coventry was told.

They add that:

Butt, 28, one of three terrorists who murdered eight people and injured 48 in June last year before being shot dead by police, taught a class at Eton Community School, previously known as Ad-Deen primary school, in Ilford, east London, the day before the attack.

Ms Rahman, 42, who hired Butt in February last year, did not keep track of which children attended the classes, in which youngsters were brainwashed and told to lie to their parents.

She was said to have known about Butt’s terrorist connections because he was friends with members of the jihadist organisation al-Muhajiroun and had appeared on a Channel 4 documentary The Jihadis Next Door.

It emerged after the attacks that Butt did not have suitable qualifications or experience to teach Arabic as he could not speak the language himself. He had a police caution for violence and gave no references from previous employers.

Ms Rahman misled the authorities about her own connections with a former al-Muhajiroun member, referred to as “Individual S”, who worked at the school, failing to mention that they had children together.

The panel “regarded it as significant that Ms Rahman chose not to undertake any inquiries into Mr Butt’s employment history despite the fact that he was not suitably qualified for the role and that he had a conviction for an offence of violence.” Ms Rahman was banned from teaching indefinitely.

It turns out that the school has been in the news before. The Daily Mail ran a piece in 2014 about it.

A terror suspect who trained the ringleader of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London has been allowed to set up an Islamic primary school, teaching children as young as three, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

As a member of a banned extremist group, Sajeel Shahid, 38, called for violence against British troops and ran a training camp in Pakistan where known terrorists learned how to make bombs and fire rocket- propelled grenades.

One of his ‘graduates’ was Mohammed Siddique Khan, who led the gang of four suicide bombers on the deadliest terrorist attack ever committed in Britain, killing 52 people on the London Underground and a bus on July 7, 2005.

The article goes on to say:

Documents seen by The Mail on Sunday show Shahid was registered as director and proprietor of the Ad-Deen Primary School in Ilford, Essex, which teaches 54 pupils aged three to 11. He is thought to have founded the £2,000-a-year school in 2009, where, using the pseudonym Abu Ibrahim, he taught children to recite the Koran.

The head of Al Muhajiroun, Anjem Choudary is currently sitting in Belmarsh awaiting release later this year. The group has been out of the news since his incarceration but this serves as a reminder that over the years AM laid down deep roots.

Imran Waheed from Hizb ut Tahrir

The Daily Mail has published an expose on NHS psychiatrist Imran Waheed who is also a prominent member of Hizb ut Tahrir.

Waheed is also employed as an expert witness in court:

A radical Islamist preacher who has said he ‘does not believe in democracy’ and is ‘not obedient’ to secular law is working as an expert witness to British courts, MailOnline can reveal.

Dr Imran Waheed, 41, a psychiatrist working for the NHS and Bupa in Birmingham, offers his services as an expert witness in a range of civil and criminal cases assessing defendants’ psychological reliability.

For many years he was a key figure in the UK branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which campaigns for an Islamic state run by Sharia law. In an interview he said: ‘I’ve got no respect for any law other than Allah’s… I don’t care for the law of any man.’

And this:

According to his website, Dr Waheed gives British courts psychiatric assessments of a defendant’s ‘dangerousness’, fitness to hold a firearm licence and fitness to stand trial.

This isn’t the first time Waheed has been exposed as providing care to vulnerable people and ostensibly upholding a democratic system while preaching against it.

In 2014 the Telegraph reported on Waheed’s activities writing:

“Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, last night called on both the trust and the General Medical Council, which regulates all doctors, to examine whether Dr Waheed’s role as a consultant psychiatrist is compatible with his position within HT.

He said: “If Dr Waheed is as fervent about his views as I suspect he is, I find it hard to believe he can keep them separate from his practice as a psychiatrist working with very vulnerable people. It’s a bit like having a member of an extremist far-right party, such as the BNP, working in a multicultural, multiracial, community like Birmingham.””

What I’m wondering about is why no one has asked the NHS any questions about what safeguarding measures they’re taking, if any, to ensure vulnerable people aren’t influenced by Waheed and other extremists working within their ranks. In 2014 the Telegraph brought this issue to the public domain and now in 2018 the Mail has shown that nothing has changed.

Waheed also appears to be working for BUPA, the same questions arise here.

When questioned by the Mail he said that:

In the sermon he reiterated his longtime demands for a caliphate and said he aimed to ‘liberate man from enslavement to man and the systems of man’, calling into question his role in the British justice system.

When questioned about this by MailOnline he claimed he was speaking ‘in the context of the occupation of Palestine’.

So what steps are being taken to ensure that he never ends up treating a vulnerable Jewish or Israeli person? What might happen should Waheed find out in the course of providing treatment that his patient is a Zionist? What implications are there for court cases where he has provided expert testimony where a Jew or Israeli may be the accused or the victim?

These questions remain unanswered. Waheed has already shrugged off one expose in 2014 he looks set to do it again and of course continue speaking at Hizb ut Tahrir events. His participation in events such as the one below make a mockery of his claims to have left the organisation:

Fathom 20 | From ‘intersectionality’ to the exclusion of Jewish students: BDS makes a worrying turn on US campuses


Kenneth Waltzer is the executive director of the Academic Engagement Network, a national US faculty organisation committed to countering Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). In this survey of BDS activity on US campuses he argues that, where BDS has a following, Jewish students are increasingly being consigned to a place of insult and derision, barred from progressive causes, and labelled oppressors. Those who come to their aid get similar treatment. BDS is morphing into an attack on the equal rights of Jewish students to associate freely with others on campus, to shape their own organisations and goals, to express their religious and cultural identity and to observe their heritage free from coercion by others.

During the fall semester, when little was happening on the anti-Israel Hard Left on American campuses, we could have been forgiven for thinking that perhaps the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement had slowed. But as the year continued, coinciding with Israel’s 70th anniversary, the pace of BDS efforts increased and included something relatively new: efforts to mark off, isolate, and ghettoise Jews supporting Israel on campuses, while characterising Jews in ways that are deeply worrying.


Overall, the BDS movement generated some 22 campaigns on American campuses in 2017-18, two more than it did in 2016-17. This number was down from the immediate post-Gaza incursion peak years when BDS forces mounted 44 campaigns in 2014-15 and 33 during 2016-17, 77 in all. The recent period saw BDS organising 42 campaigns in two years. BDS forces claimed victory this year in 9 of the 22 campaigns it sponsored, a 41 per cent rate of success.

Late in the year, the renewed intensity of the BDS campaigns contrasted notably with the year’s beginning. If anything, campuses were still reeling from the events at Charlottesville in August 2017 and the appearance by neo-Nazis and white supremacists at the University of Virginia with swastikas, torches and disturbing signs vowing ‘Jews will not replace us’. University leaders were also preoccupied with the growing conflict over free speech involving primarily alt-Right speakers and demands for access to public fora on campuses. Richard Spencer stirred concerns by threats to sue institutions infringing on his first amendment right to speak and by actively bringing radicals to campus, threatening real violence. At the University of Florida, the governor mobilised the Florida guard.

BDS forces scored successes in November, passing divestment resolutions in several student governments; surprisingly, first at the University of Michigan (UM), where BDS had repeatedly failed until then, at Ohio State University, the University of South Florida, the University of Minnesota, New York University (NYU), George Washington University, and recently, Barnard (in a campus referendum) and the University of Oregon. Such victories were symbolic only, as university presidents and boards of trustees quickly announced they opposed BDS and would not divest university financial holdings. On the other side of the ledger, BDS was solidly defeated at the University of Maryland, Northeastern University, the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, the City University of New York, Earlham, Swarthmore, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. READ MORE.