the foundations of oppression can't be plucked up without the anger of a multitude

Corbyn, the IRA, Hamas and Terror

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In 1961, at the age of 87, philosopher Bertrand Russell was sentenced to seven days imprisonment for his involvement in CND protests. Fellow defendant Christopher Logue describes Russell’s exchange with the magistrate who sentenced him:

Mr. Reece: “It is a sad thing for a man of your age, my Lord, to be taking part in these activities.”
Russell: “Your Worship, I came here to save your life. But having heard what you have to say, I do not think that the end justifies the means.” (From Prince Charming)Bertrand Russell CND committee of 100

One of the greatest ironies of this election campaign is that of all the muck thrown in Corbyn’s direction, a good portion that has stuck has been around foreign policy and security. Corbyn has been attacked for his position on the Falklands War and his more recent stance on the so called ‘War on Terror’. Starting around the time of his first Labour leadership campaign there was outrage caused by a video shared from a 2009 Stop The War meeting in parliament in which Corbyn expressed his regret that the British government had only allowed “our friends from Hezbollah” and not “our friends from Hamas” to travel to the UK for the debate on Palestine. Just as bad for some is that he negotiated with Sinn Fein. On Friday’s BBC question time he was berated for not being committed to Mutually Assured Destruction. That this stuff works with some people is ironic because he has a lot less blood on his hands and fewer dubious skeletons in his closet than of those of his opponents.

A Tory plot to win an election

A Tory plot to win an election?

Northern Ireland

Let us compare the Conservatives’ record on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Corbyn may have negotiated with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness but recent revelations have confirmed long-standing rumours that the British state had infiltrated the Republican paramilitaries and indeed were directly implicated in some of its violence. Rumours have been largely confirmed that the army’s £80,000-a-year informant codenamed ‘Steak Knife’ was in fact notorious IRA executioner, Freddie ‘Scap’ Scappaticci. Tory administrations oversaw an intelligence operation which, if effective in preventing a united Ireland, can hardly be credited with preventing further violence. We have the strange situation of the man entrusted to protect IRA ranks from infiltration by personally torturing and murdering suspected informers, actually being in the pay of MI5.Freddie Scap aka 'Steak Knife'

On top of this, as Mark McGovern has recently detailed in the pages of Race and Class, the British state actively facilitated terror attacks by Loyalist paramilitaries. Groups like Ulster Defence Association (UDA) were “substantially rearmed in the late 1980s” by shipments of weapons from Apartheid South Africa arranged by UDA Chief of Intelligence and (naturally) British Army employee Brian Nelson. Weapons were stored at the farm of James Mitchell whose house “served as a kind of engine room for murder and mayhem in mid-Ulster”, from where the Glennane Gang arranged some of the their ninety killings, including the Dublin-Monaghan bombings in 1974, the greatest loss of life on a single day throughout the conflict. Those latter attacks were orchestrated by Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson, “reliably said to have relationships with British Intelligence and/or RUC Special Branch”.

Farmer Mitchell, of course, was also in the pay in the British state. Ten years after he had finished his surprisingly light, one year suspended sentence for harbouring weapons and explosives, automatic rifles stored at his farm and bought from South Africa with money from a bank robbery, were used to mow down six people in a tiny rural pub in Loughinisland village. The RUC knew there were weapons in the area but decided not to search Mitchell’s farm. None of the Loughinisland victims had any Loughinisland massacrepolitical or paramilitary connection and no one has ever been charged for their murder. As McGovern concludes, “among those who pulled the triggers in O’Toole’s bar and shot dead six men were former and serving members of the British Army and current RUC informers, using guns imported by other agents and informers”.

In comparison, Corbyn having coffee with Adams and McGuiness seems rather mild. Yet, it is remarkable how deep anti-Catholic Irish prejudice lingers in the sludge of the British collective subconscious, even twenty years after the bomb at the Arndale Centre in Manchester. Whatever your opinions on the conflict and the use of violence to achieve political goals, surely a United Ireland is a legitimate political cause. It is still hard to say this in England. Corbyn has been in sympathy with the demand, as he has been on many other anti-colonial independence struggles. In most armed conflicts negotiating a settlement by talking to the political arm of the militia wing in order to broker a peace deal, seems within the common sense of all but the most hawkish of hawks. Corbyn may havUDA unionistse mourned IRA deaths but he has never supported bombing campaigns, nor, as far as I am aware, has he pledged support for the IRA. The Tories at the time oversaw an operation that infiltrated violent organisations, paid informers, ran guns and (at the very least) turned a blind eye to IRA executions and to Unionist massacres of innocent civilians, carried out by their own employees.

One wonders if similar revelations will emerge in twenty years’ time about current British state tactics with Islamic terrorism. We know for example that MI5 tried to recruit Michael Adebolajo, one of Lee Rigby’s killers, after having had him imprisoned and tortured in Kenya.[1] “They harassed him,”[2] his friend Abu Nusaybah told the BBC. No doubt Adebolajo was not further enamoured towards the British army after such treatment. Nusaybah was arrested by Special Branch as soon as he finished the interview.


The Labour Party manifesto promises to join 70% of the world’s nations and recognise Palestine. Ed Miliband promised the same. Conservative (with a small c) elements in Jewish communities need to admit that this is only just and sensible. To achieve this, the Israeli state needs to give up military, territorial and economic domination of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, something which hasn’t looked like being on the cards of any Israeli government since PM Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by the orthodox Jewish Yigal Amir in 1994 (and there are some who doubt it ever was). One would have thought that any kind of peace deal would involve negotiating with Hamas, who are the elected government in the Gaza Strip. As Rabin himself said when asked why he was negotiating with ‘terrorists’, “You don’t make peace with your friends.”.PLO Chairman Arafat shakes hands with Israeli PM Rabin after the signing of the Israeli-PLO peace accord, in Washington

Non-Jewish people get tired of hearing that their anti-Israel or pro-Palestine discourse is contaminated with anti-Semitism. It is true that much of the Jewish refusal to countenance any criticism of Israel is simply get-behind-our-team chauvinism. However, there are more fair-minded Jewish people who want to know why you, as a Western Christian (practising or otherwise) are so interested in Palestine and not any number of other causes. This is not an unreasonable question to ask. Where were you on East Timor or Western Sahara? Why are you so concerned with the Israeli army’s abuse and murder of Palestinians when your own army (acting in your name and with your tax money) have been occupying, bombing and torturing people in Arab and Muslim countries continuously since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001?

Personally I support the tactic of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) if it will bring Israel towards compromise. If I had any say in the matter (which I do not) I would call for a one-state solution. This is at present impractical but in any case, it is clear that there must be an equitable distribution of land, fair representation in government and public life, and the right of return of refugees. This does not mean that I support the forced deportation of people who were born in the country. I do not support it in Israel and I do not support it elsewhere. Hamas must accept Jewish people’s rights to live in the land they were born in but they are not going to do this unless they are allowed to negotiate.

Corbyn supports freedom for Palestine but he has also been a long term supporter of (e.g) Kurdish freedom and was one of two MPs to take part in the only ever British parliamentary visit to Western Sahara. The Labour Party have set up inquiries to look at alleged anti-Semitic comments from within their party, with a lot more seriousness than any other party has done. Corbyn is not anti-Semitic.

BRITAIN-ISRAEL-IRAN-US-POLITICS-DIPLOMACYThe Christian Right like Israel not because of any fondness for the Jews (nor, before you start, because of money from the Jewish lobbies) but because they like the Israeli state security strategy. In fact, much of their pro-Semitic sentiment is coded Islamophobia (see also their concern with ‘women’s rights’ when it comes to the veil, forced marriage or ‘burkinis’).


The fact that British parliamentary elections have weirdly morphed into presidential-style conflicts suits Corbyn. Labour can only get the votes they need to build on their previous poor showing in the last elections from people who previously didn’t vote at all. They are voting for Corbyn and the few other sincere MPs, not the Parliamentary Labour Party and their bland Owen Kendall Angela Watsons, because they look like they might be different from what has gone before.

Labour foreign policy under Blair and Brown was no different in substance to that of Cameron and May. It has failed to achieve its stated aims. British support for US-led regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq has resulted in the rise of Islamist militia groups. Their ‘humanitarian’ intervention in Libya, celebrated so memorably by William-Hague liberates TripoliWilliam Hague parading around Tripoli, succeeded only in ‘liberating’ the vast weapons collection of Muammar Gaddafi. These weapons have armed militia groups across Africa from Boko Haram to Al Shabab, and beyond. Islamist violence in Europe and USA has steadily increased since Blair confidently predicted that invading Iraq would mean that “the dangers of the threat we face will be diminished”. Millions of people have become refugees. Corbyn’s careful linking of foreign wars and terror attacks after Manchester’s bombing, struck a chord with a lot of public thinking (outside of the media).

So said General Sir Nicholas Houghton in 2014 about UK foreign policy, “The prime strategic purpose has been achieved: denying Afghanistan as a safe haven for terrorism such that the streets of the UK are safer. And indeed, in the last 13, 14 years there has not been a single international terrorist attack launched from that country.”

Do we still believe that killing people in wars makes Britain safer? And are we going to vote for more of the same?




Written by angrysampoetry

June 4, 2017 at 11:24 pm

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