As Labour MPs indulge in attacks on fake ‘anti-Semitism’ Israel moves to the ultra-Right

Netanyahu Invites the neo-Nazi Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) to help him form a new Coalition government

(From Terrorist Beginnings to Nazi State)Blog owners note.

In 1984 Rabbi Meir Kahane of Kach (Thus) entered the Knesset with over 25,000 votes. Kach stood on a programme which, as The Times of Israel’s Michael Aarenau noted even members of Likud likened to the Nazis’ 1935 Nuremberg Race Laws.

Smotrich, Netanyahu and Itamar Gvir – the difference between them is one of semantics
In 1988, when polls suggested that Kach could get between 4 and 12 seats, Kahane was banned from standing by the Supreme Court. The reason that Kach was banned had nothing to do with opposition to racism but a fear that the image of Israel would be damaged. In the four years that Kahane was a Knesset member, when he spoke all the other 119 members would walk out.
But yesterday what was trefa (unclean) has now become kosher. What used to be Zionism’s forbidden fruits have now become its delicacies. But even in 1984, what Kahane said openly the other Zionist parties muttered behind closed doors.

Fearing defeat by the Centrist Right bloc of Benny Gantz’s Resilience and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid parties Netanyahu openly pressurized the far-Right Jewish Home-National Union religious settlers’ parties to unite with Otzma Yehudit, the direct descendants of Kahane’s Kach.
One can get an idea of Otzma Yehudit’s politics from its leader Michael Ben Ari, who was a member of the 18th Knesset for the National Union between 2009 and 2013. Apart from instigating a pogrom against Black African refugees in South Tel Aviv Ari is famous for tearing up a copy of the New Testament that a missionary sent him and putting it in a trash bin.

In September 2010 in response to being told that for every Israeli killed, six Palestinians had died, he remarked that “For every one dead on our side, we need to kill 500 and not six.” This was five times the number of hostages that the Nazis murdered in Yugoslavia for every German soldier killed. Ben-Ari holds left-wing Jews and human rights organisations in particular contempt, referring to them as “germs” that need to be eradicated. During the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defence he stated that “there are no innocents in Gaza…mow them down! Kill the Gazans without thought or mercy!” This is who Netanyahu has gone out of his way to ensure will be a member of the next Knesset.

Netanyahu – it would seem there is no one on the Right with whom he won’t get into bed with
It would be wrong however to simply concentrate on Otzma Yehudit. Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home), which had 6 members, including the Education and Justice Ministers in the last government, is no slouch when it comes to racism and bigotry. Bezalel Smotrich, who described himself as a ‘proud homophobe’ distinguished himself by advocating separate maternity wards for Jewish and Arab women on the grounds that his wife didn’t want to give birth next to a woman whose child might become a ‘terrorist’. However, despite the outrage these comments provoked, it is a fact that 5 of Israel’s 7 major hospitals allow Jewish women to give birth in Arab free wards.

Habayit Hayehudi members vote to unite with Otzma Yehudit
In 2013, the Deputy Defence Minister Rabbi Eli Dahan openly stated of Palestinians that ‘To me, they are like animals, they aren’t human.’ Despite considering gays an abomination he held that “A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he is a homosexual.”
Whereas Menachem Begin, the first Likud Prime Minister would have nothing to do with Kahane and his brand of Jewish messianic fascism, there are no waters too polluted for Netanyahu to fish in.
The reasons for Netanyahu’s decision to invited Otzma Yehudit into the Knesset and the governing coalition were that the far-Right in Israel today commands at least 250,000 votes. The problem is that they are split between at least 4 parties meaning that these votes could be wasted. When Kahane was elected in 1984 Israel’s proportional representation system meant a party which gained 25,000 votes (1%) was guaranteed a seat but in the 2013 Knesset the threshold was increased from 2% to 3.25%. The idea behind this was to exclude the Arab parties but instead the Arabs parties united to form the Joint List, becoming the third largest party in the Knesset with 13 seats.
In the words of YNet ‘A dynasty of racism and provocation is on its way to the Israeli parliament’. Yet Israel’s Arab population will ask what is new? Whether it was Labour or Likud governments they suffered ongoing violence and institutional discrimination. What we are seeing today is Zionist ideology and practice catching up with each other. Whereas Israeli Labour governments spoke the language of collectivism and social democracy, they practised ethnic cleansing and exclusion. The new, openly fascist Right has taken the hypocrisy out of Zionism and in the process left Labour Zionism high and dry.
When Meir Kahane preached that Israel could be a Jewish state or a Democratic state he was stating a truth that generations of ‘left’ Zionists preferred to ignore. Labour Zionism spoke of a Jewish democratic state which was always an oxymoron. What happens if the Arabs’ higher birth-rate meant they become the majority? Would the Zionist parties acquiesce in a non-Jewish state or would there be a new round of ethnic cleansing like in 1948?
In other words which is more important, a democratic or a Jewish state? For Zionism a Jewish state was always the most important goal. which was why a majority was gerrymandered by the new Israeli state in 1948 through the expulsion of 90% of the Arabs. In the words of one of the key organisations of Israeli Apartheid, the Jewish National Fund, ‘over 70% of the Jewish population in Israel opposes allocating KKL-JNF land to non-Jews, while over 80% prefer the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than as the state of all its citizens.’

Members of Otzma Yehudit Baruch Marzel and Michael Ben Ari in a protest in Jerusalem, July 22, 20018. טס שפלן / ג’יני
Successive Zionist governments, beginning with the Israeli Labour governments of 1949-1977 were opposed to mixed marriages and sexual/ personal relationships between Jews and Arabs. That was why marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew was made impossible. As Hannah Arendt noted at the time of the Eichmann trial in 1961:
‘‘Israeli citizens, religious and non-religious seem agreed upon the desirability of having a law which prohibits intermarriage… there certainly was something breathtaking in the naiveté with which the prosecution denounced the infamous Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which had prohibited intermarriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and Germans.
But what Labour and Likud whispered under their breath Kahane and the thugs of Lehava openly practiced. During his four year stint in the Knesset Kahane proposed a series of laws which outlined what a Jewish theocratic state would look like: As Bradley Burston noted in Ha’aretz this included:
– Revocation of non-Jewish citizenship.
– Expulsion of non-Jews from Jerusalem and eventually Israel.
– The eventual imposition of slavery on Arabs and other non-Jews.
– Prohibition of contact between Jews and Arabs, including sexual relations.
– Segregated beaches.
– Prohibition of non-Jews living in Jewish neighborhoods.
– Forced dissolution of all intermarriages.

Not only did much of this come straight from the 1935 Nazi Nuremburg Law but much of it merely codified existing practice.

For example the prohibition of non-Jews living in Jewish neighbourhoods is already existing practice. Hundreds of Jewish communities in Israel are Jewish only. That was the purpose of the 2011 Admissions Committees Law, to keep out Arabs (and also Black and Sephardi Jews). This was reinforced by the Jewish Nation State Law 2018 which advocated Jewish Settlement as a ‘national value’. The JNF has been practicing Jewish only settlement since the early 20th century but Israel’s far-Right wishes to make explicit that which was always implicit. What was previously normal but not written down in law is now becoming codified and rigid.

If the idea of Arabs as slaves seems far-fetched we should remember that the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ovadia Yosef ruled that non-Jews would be expelled from Israel apart from a few who ‘will be allowed to remain in the land and fulfil roles reserved for gentiles in the service of Jews.’ That role was made clear in a sermon in 2010. “Goyim (non-Jews) were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel,”
What Kahane represented was the face that Zionism itself could not bear to see. However even though Kahane died at the hands of an assassin in 1990 his ideas have lived on. The present Israeli elections are likely to see the demise of Labour Zionism. Meretz, which as the ‘Marxist’ Zionist Mapam was the second largest party in the 1949 Knesset, may be wiped out entirely. The Israeli Labour Party which until 1977 formed every single government is presently forecast to gain less than 10 seats (down from 24 in the present Knesset).

Otzma Yehudit Marzel and Michael ben Ari
Naturally this is causing apoplexy among Zionism’s liberal supporters. Batya Ungar-Sargon, Opinion Editor of The Forward wrote that Netanyahu Just Invited Israel’s Equivalent Of The KKK To Join The Government. Ungar-Sargon, who has just finished targeting Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for tweeting that AIPAC is in the business of buying political support for Israel wrote that:
‘These are the David Dukes and the Richard Spencers of the Jewish State, people who believe that Jewish sovereignty depends on the oppression, ethnic cleansing and even murder of Israel’s Arab population.’
To listen to Ungar-Sargon you would imagine that ethnic cleansing, murder and oppression are novelties for the Palestinians.
American Jews, who have been shaken by the recent murder of 11 of their compatriots at Pittsburgh, are the most liberal part of America’s white population. They are especially sensitive since the Trump Administration combines white supremacy, demonisation of refugees and a not-too-hidden anti-Semitism with ardent support for Israel and Zionism. They are looking aghast as Israel moves off the political radar.
The American Jewish establishment is also shaken, not by the open association of with fascists and racists but by Netanyahu’s brazenness. For decades these leaders have turned a blind eye to all sorts of racist atrocities and provided cover for Israel’s repeated massacres. But what they cannot stand is that Israel no longer seems to care what others think of it. They know Trump will support them regardless. As Susie Gelman, a major Zionist philanthropist asks ‘Is there any line of decency and morality that he (Netanyahu) will not cross?” complaining that “Netanyahu’s actions are feeding the estrangement of young American Jews from Israel’ which is her real concern before assuring her interlocutors that ‘I still feel committed to the Israeli people’ making a fatuous distinction ‘between the Israeli government and the people of Israel.” Perhaps it has not occurred to Ms Gelman that the reason why Netanyahu can get away with what he does is that the Israeli people support and vote for him?
As Ha’aretz notes the main concern of America’s Jewish Establishment is not the fact of Israeli racism and ethnic cleansing but that ‘Netanyahu’s move will hurt Israel’s image and create rift with Jewish Americans.’
It is hard to stifle a smile when the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt whines that “There should be no room for racism & no accommodation for intolerance in Israel or any democracy,” Where, one wonders, was Jonathan when the Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Elihayu issued an edict in 2011 that Jews were forbidden to rent rooms and apartments to Arabs? When criticized Eliyahu was backed by hundreds of Israeli rabbis. To this day Eliyahu is a paid Israeli state official.
Zionism is coming full circle. The old hypocrisies have become redundant. Ideology and practice are coming into line. The logic of a Jewish state, like all ethno-nationalist states is that non-Jews do not belong. Just as Jews were not welcome in similar states in the Europe of the 1930’s.
Today there are large elements in Israel, in particular amongst the religious Zionists for whom the Palestinians represent the ancient foe of the Hebrews, the Amalekites. In Exodus 17:14, God told Moses that ‘I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’ Yeah every man, woman, child and infant was to die. For those who are aware of the biblical story of Esther, Netanyahu is indeed the Jewish Haman.
Tony Greenstein
Meir Kahane addresses a gathering at the Silver Springs Jewish Center in Maryland, October 27, 1988. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
“Without unity the left will win.” Page 4 and 5 of Israel Haiom newspaper, on Tuesday 19, 019.Israel Haiom screengrab
Meir Kahane in 1984Daniel Rosenblum
See below for articles about Netanyahu’s invitation to Kahane’s students:
Netanyahu Just Invited Israel’s Equivalent Of The KKK To Join The Government.
Banned in 1988, assassinated in 1990, mainstreamed in 2019: Kahane lives
U.S. Jewish Leaders Slam Netanyahu for Promoting Kahanists
Netanyahu Orchestrates Merger To Bring Extremists Into Knesset
I Thought Bibi Was Amoral. He’s Not. He’s Evil. Thanks to Him, Kahane Lives
Kahane Returns to the Knesset
Otzma Yehudit’s history of racism and provocation


Anti-semitism is cover for a much deeper divide in Britain’s Labour party

From: Middle East Eye

Breakaway MPs hope that smearing Corbyn will obscure the fact that they are remnants of an old political order bankrupt of ideas

Middle East Eye – 20 February 2019

The announcement by seven MPs from the UK Labour Party on Monday that they were breaking away and creating a new parliamentary faction marked the biggest internal upheaval in a British political party in nearly 40 years, when the SDP split from Labour.

On Wednesday, they were joined by an eighth Labour MP, Joan Ryan, and three Conservative MPs. There are predictions more will follow.

With the UK teetering on the brink of crashing out of the European Union with no deal on Brexit, the founders of the so-called Independent Group made reference to their opposition to Brexit.

The chief concern cited for the split by the eight Labour MPs, however, was a supposed “anti-semitism crisis” in the party.

The breakaway faction seemingly agrees that anti-semitism has become so endemic in the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader more than three years ago that they were left with no choice but to quit.

Corbyn, it should be noted, is the first leader of a major British party to explicitly prioritise the rights of Palestinians over Israel’s continuing belligerent occupation of the Palestinian territories.

‘Sickeningly racist’?

Luciana Berger, a Jewish MP who has highlighted what she sees as an anti-semitism problem under Corbyn, led the charge, stating at the Independent Group’s launch that she had reached “the sickening conclusion” that Labour was “institutionally racist”.

She and her allies claim she has been hounded out of the party by “anti-semitic bullying”. Berger has suffered online abuse and death threats from rightwing extremists and neo-Nazis.

In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, the former Labour MP said the Independent Group would provide the Jewish community with a “political home that they, like much of the rest of the country, are now looking for”.

In a plea to keep the party together, deputy leader Tom Watson issued a video in which he criticised his own party for being too slow to tackle anti-semitism. He added“Time is short for us to confront the scale of the problem and meet the consequences, to keep others from leaving”.

Ruth Smeeth, another Jewish Labour MP who may yet join a later wave of departures, was reported to have broken down in tears at a parliamentary party meeting following the split, as she called for tougher action on anti-semitism.

Two days later, as she split from Labour, Ryan accused the party of being “infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism”.

Hatred claims undercut

The timing of the defections was strange, occurring shortly after the Labour leadership revealed the findings of an investigation into complaints of anti-semitism in the party. These were the very complaints that MPs such as Berger have been citing as proof of the party’s “institutional racism”.

And yet, the report decisively undercut their claims – not only of endemic anti-semitism in Labour, but of any significant problem at all.

That echoed an earlier report by the Commons home affairs committee, which found there was “no reliable, empirical evidence” that Labour had more of an anti-semitism problem than any other British political party.

Nonetheless, the facts seem to be playing little or no part in influencing the anti-semitism narrative. This latest report was thus almost entirely ignored by Corbyn’s opponents and by the mainstream media.

It is, therefore, worth briefly examining what the Labour Party’s investigation discovered.

Over the previous 10 months, 673 complaints had been filed against Labour members over alleged anti-semitic behaviour, many based on online comments. In a third of those cases, insufficient evidence had been produced.

The 453 other allegations represented 0.08 percent of the 540,000-strong Labour membership. Hardly “endemic” or “institutional”, it seems.

Intemperate language

Those figures, it should be remembered, have almost certainly been inflated by the efforts of Corbyn’s opponents to trawl through Labour members’ social media accounts in search of comments, some of them predating Corbyn’s leadership, that could be portrayed as anti-semitic.

Intemperate language flared especially in 2014 – before Corbyn became leader – when Israel launched a military operation on Gaza that killed large numbers of Palestinian civilians, including many hundreds of children

Certainly, it is unclear how many of those reportedly anti-semitic comments concern not prejudice towards Jews, but rather outspoken criticism of the state of Israel, which was redefined as anti-semitic last year by Labour, under severe pressure from MPs such as Berger and Ryan and Jewish lobby groups, such as the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Labour Movement.

Seven of the 11 examples of anti-semitism associated with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition adopted by Labour concern Israel. That includes describing Israel as a “racist endeavour”, even though Israel passed a basic law last year stripping the fifth of its population who are not Jewish of any right to self-determination, formally creating two classes of citizen.

Illustrating the problem Labour has created for itself as a result, some of the most high-profile suspensions and expulsions have actually targeted Jewish members of the party who identify as anti-Zionist – that is, they consider Israel a racist state. They include Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Martin Odoni, Glyn Secker and Cyril Chilson.

Another Jewish member, Moshe Machover, a professor emeritus at the University of London, had to be reinstated after a huge outcry among members at his treatment by the party.

Unthinking prejudice

Alan Maddison, who has been conducting statistical research on anti-semitism for a pro-Corbyn Jewish group, Jewish Voice for Labour, put the 0.08 percent figure into its wider social and political context this week

He quoted the findings of a large survey of anti-semitic attitudes publishedby the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in 2017. It found that 30 percent of respondents from various walks of society agreed with one or more of eight anti-semitic views, ranging from stereotypes such as “Jews think they are better than other people” to Holocaust denial.

However, lead researcher Daniel Staetsky concluded that in most cases this was evidence of unthinking prejudice rather than conscious bigotry. Four-fifths of those who exhibited a degree of anti-semitism also agreed with at least one positive statement about Jewish people.

This appears to be the main problem among the tiny number of Labour Party members identified in complaints, and is reflected in the predominance of warnings about conduct rather than expulsions and suspensions.

Far-right bigotry

Another of the institute’s findings poses a particular problem for Corbyn’s opponents, who argue that the Labour leader has imported anti-semitism into the party by attracting the “hard left”. Since he was elected, Labour membership has rocketed.

Even if it were true that Corbyn and his supporters are on the far-left – a highly questionable assumption, made superficially plausible only because Labour moved to the centre-right under Tony Blair in the late 1990s – the institute’s research pulls the rug out from under Corbyn’s critics.

It discovered that across the political spectrum, conscious hatred of Jews was very low, and that it was exhibited in equal measure from the “very left-wing” to the “fairly right-wing”. The only exception, as one might expect, was on the “very right-wing”, where virulent anti-semitism was much more prevalent.

That finding was confirmed last week by surveys that showed a significant rise in violent, anti-semitic attacks across Europe as far-right parties make inroads in many member states. A Guardian report noted that the “figures show an overwhelming majority of violence against Jews is perpetrated by far-right supporters”.

Supporters of overseas war

So what is the basis for concerns about the Labour Party being mired in supposed “institutional anti-semitism” since it moved from the centre to the left under Corbyn, when the figures and political trends demonstrate nothing of the sort?

A clue may be found in the wider political worldview of the eight MPs who have broken from Labour.

All but two are listed as supporters of the parliamentary “Labour Friends of Israel” (LFI) faction. Further, Berger is a former director of that staunchly pro-Israel lobby group, and Ryan is its current chair, a position the group says she will hold onto, despite no longer being a Labour MP.

So extreme are the LFI’s views on Israel that it sought to exonerate Israel of a massacre last year, in which its snipers shot dead many dozens of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza in a single day. Faced with a social media backlash, it quietly took down the posts.

The eight MPs’ voting records – except for Gavin Shuker, for whom the picture is mixed – show them holding consistently hawkish foreign policy positions that are deeply antithetical to Corbyn’s approach to international relations.

They either “almost always” or “generally” backed “combat operations overseas”; those who were MPs at the time supported the 2003 Iraq war; and they all opposed subsequent investigations into the Iraq war.

Committed Friends of Israel

In one sense, the breakaway group’s support for Labour Friends of Israel may not be surprising, and indicates why Corbyn is facing such widespread trouble from within his own party. Dozens of Labour MPs are members of the group, including Tom Watson and Ruth Smeeth.

Smeeth, one of those at the forefront of accusing Corbyn of fostering anti-semitism in Labour, is also a former public affairs director of BICOM, another stridently pro-Israel lobby group.

None of these MPs were concerned enough with the LFI’s continuing vocal support for Israel as it has shifted to the far-right under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to have stepped down from the group.

Nor was their committed support for Labour Friends of Israel shaken by a 2017 undercover Al-Jazeera documentary investigating the Israel lobby’s tactics in the UK. It revealed that the LFI and the Jewish Labour Movement were both covertly working closely with an Israeli embassy official, Shai Masot, to damage Corbyn.

In fact, the secret filming recorded Ryan inventing a false claim of anti-semitism against a Labour party member.

She also admitted on camera that she was in almost daily contact with Masot, and was filmed speaking to Masot about £1 million he had secured on the LFI’s behalf to fly Labour MPs on junkets to Israel as part of recruiting them to the Israeli cause.

‘Wrong kind of Jews’

Anti-semitism has taken centre stage in the manoeuvring against Corbyn, despite there being no evidence of significant hatred against Jews in the party. Increasingly, it seems, tangible abuse of Jews is of little interest unless it can be related to Corbyn.

The markedly selective interest in anti-semitism in the Corbyn context among the breakaway MPs and supposed anti-semitism watchdogs has been starkly on show for some time.

Notably, none expressed concern at the media mauling of a left-wing, satirical Jewish group called Jewdas when Corbyn was widely attacked for meeting “the wrong kind of Jews”. In fact, leading Labour figures, including the Jewish Labour Movement, joined in the abuse.

And increasingly in this febrile atmosphere, there has been an ever-greater indulgence of the “right kind of anti-semitism” – when it is directed at Corbyn supporters.

A troubling illustration was provided on the TV show Good Morning Britain this week, when Tom Bower was invited on to discuss his new unauthorised biography of Corbyn, in which he accuses him of anti-semitism. The hosts looked on demurely as Bower, a Jewish journalist, defamed fellow Jewish journalist Michael Segalov as a “self-hating Jew” for defending Corbyn on the show.

Revenge of the Blairites

So what is the significance of the fact that the Labour MPs who have been most outspoken in criticising Corbyn – those who helped organise a 2016 leadership challenge against him, and those who are now rumoured to be considering joining the breakaway faction – are heavily represented on the list of MPs supporting LFI?

For them, it seems, vigorous support for Israel is not only a key foreign policy matter, but a marker of their political priorities and worldview – one that starkly clashes with the views of Corbyn and a majority of the Labour membership.

Anti-semitism has turned out to be the most useful – and damaging – weapon to wield against the Labour leader for a variety of reasons close to the hearts of the holdouts from the Blair era, who still dominate the parliamentary party and parts of the Labour bureaucracy.

Perhaps most obviously, the Blairite wing of the party is still primarily loyal to a notion that Britain should at all costs maintain its transatlantic alliance with the United States in foreign policy matters. Israel is a key issue for those on both sides of the Atlantic who see that state as a projection of Western power into the oil-rich Middle East and romanticise Israel as a guarantor of Western values in a “barbaric” region.

Corbyn’s prioritising of Palestinian rights threatens to overturn a core imperial value to which the Blairites cling.

Tarred and feathered

But it goes further. Anti-semitism has become a useful stand-in for the deep differences in a domestic political culture between the Blairites, on one hand, and Corbyn and the wider membership, on the other.

A focus on anti-semitism avoids the right-wing MPs having to admit much wider grievances with Corbyn’s Labour that would probably play far less well not only with Labour members, but with the broader British electorate.

As well as their enthusiasm for foreign wars, the Blairites support the enrichment of a narrow neo-liberal elite, are ambivalent about austerity policies, and are reticent at returning key utilities to public ownership. All of this can be neatly evaded and veiled by talking up anti-semitism.

But the utility of anti-semitism as a weapon with which to beat Corbyn and his supporters – however unfairly – runs deeper still.

The Blairites view allegations of anti-Jewish racism as a trump card. Calling someone an anti-semite rapidly closes down all debate and rational thought. It isolates, then tars and feathers its targets. No one wants to be seen to be associated with an anti-semite, let alone defend them.

Weak hand exposed

That is one reason why anti-semitism smears have been so maliciously effective against anti-Zionist Jews in the party and used with barely a murmur of protest – or in most cases, even recognition that Jews are being suspended and expelled for opposing Israel’s racist policies towards Palestinians.

This is a revival of the vile “self-hating Jew” trope that Israel and its defenders concocted decades ago to intimidate Jewish critics.

The Blairites in Labour, joined by the ruling Conservative Party, the mainstream media and pro-Israel lobby groups, have selected anti-semitism as the terrain on which to try to destroy a Corbyn-led Labour Party, because it is a battlefield in which the left stands no hope of getting a fair hearing – or any hearing at all.

But paradoxically, the Labour breakaway group may have inadvertently exposed the weakness of its hand. The eight MPs have indicated that they will not run in by-elections, and for good reason: it is highly unlikely they would stand a chance of winning in any of their current constituencies outside the Labour Party.

Their decision will also spur moves to begin deselecting those Labour MPs who are openly trying to sabotage the party – and the members’ wishes – from within.

That may finally lead to a clearing out of the parliamentary baggage left behind from the Blair era, and allow Labour to begin rebuilding itself as a party ready to deal with the political, social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

Colombia’s Largely Ignored Humanitarian Crisis and Human Rights Violations

Columbia is already in the pocket of the western far right so no action needed.

The Most Revolutionary Act

The north of Santander, department located to the east of Colombia on the borders with the State Táchira of Venezuela has as capital the city of Cúcuta. February 23 this city will be the epicenter of a humanitarian aid media prefabrication which aims to create the psychological and political conditions for a military aggression against Venezuela

We wonder why this “humanitarian aid and concern” is not addressed to the population of Norte de Santander, which has alarming figures regarding a humanitarian crisis that no one sees, which of course is not politically profitable to the Latin American right, thus bordering on contempt for humanity. The thesis of humanitarian interference is cynical and hypocritical; it is only applicable to governments and states that are not in the plebeian orbit of the empire.

Let us examine the picture of this humanitarian drama in Norte de Santander:

In recent decades, this region, and…

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just imagine… a second Labour coup — on Chuka Umunna and so-called ‘Independent Group’

wall of controversy

Act I: the first whiff of a second Labour coup

The following section written in September 2016 has remained unpublished until now.

Just imagine:

On September 24th 2016, Jeremy Corbyn wins reelection. Within hours he moves to consolidate his control of the party. One-by-one, MPs start declaring their independence from their reelected leader; eventually over 150 have done so. Local Labour Parties begin to split along leader-rebels lines. Staffers in Labour’s headquarters formally disregard Mr Corbyn. A True Labour declaration of independence and social democratic principles is promoted by leading MPs and Labour grandees like Mr Kinnock. A majority of Labour MPs rally around it and appoint a True Labour interim leader and shadow cabinet sporting the best of the party’s parliamentary talent (perhaps: Angela Eagle as leader, Rachel Reeves as shadow chancellor, Tom Watson as a continuity deputy leader).

The extract above is taken from an opinion piece published…

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America at War: Infographic Reveals How the U.S. Military Is Operating in 40% of the World’s Nations

New Human New Earth Communities

Earlier this month, NBC reporter and analyst William Arkin ended a 30-year career as a journalist, announcing in a “scathing letter,” Democracy Now! reports, that “he would be leaving the network. Arkin accuses “the media of warmongering while ignoring the, quote, ‘creeping fascism of homeland security.’” He does not equivocate in a follow-up interview with Amy Goodman. “The generals and the national security leadership” are also now, he says, “the commentators and the analysts who populate the news media” (Arkin himself is a former Army intelligence officer).

The problem isn’t only NBC, in his estimation, and it isn’t only supposed journalists cheerleading for war. Most of the conflicts the country is currently engaged in are un- or under-reported in major sources. His letter “applies to all of the mainstream networks, applies to CNN and Fox, as well…. We’ve just become so shallow that we’re not really able…

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Just when you think the US couldn’t sink any lower

Friends of Syria

Unbelievable: Congress to Pass Sanctions Against Syria Reconstruction

The US/al-Qaeda regime-change onslaught failed so now posturing US politicians will do everything they can to make sure Syria goes through the same sanctions hell Iraq did 1990-2003:

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to impose new sanctions on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and its allies, and those who do business with them. The move comes a month after President Donald Trump’s announcement to withdraw troops from Syria, and as some Arab governments are thawing relations with the Assad regime, which has all but secured a military victory after nearly eight years of war. The measure has been passed by the House twice in previous sessions, and a companion bill currently remains pending in the Senate.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., reintroduced the standalone version of the Syria bill, H.R. 31, which passed under fast-track…

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With Putin Russia Is Finally Getting Proper Roads – The Progress Is Impressive

From: Russia Insider

Here’s a great summary

Russia has since the 19th century been notorious for the poor quality of its roads, so much so that there is a malicious saying asserting that the country has two major problems: fools and roads. Looking at the European Union of today, we must note that on the first parameter Russia clearly has taken a giant leap ahead (if they ever lagged behind), but the quality of roads still leaves much to be desired. But thankfully there has been immense progress in this respect, too, and with Russia’s newly adopted grand national planon development of the countries road network the picture might within a few years change altogether.

The fact is that since Vladimir Putin took over, the investment in Russia’s road network has really picked up, and the trend is accelerating. Prior to Putin becoming president in 2000 there was only a paltry 365-kilometers of expressway consisting of three objects: the Moscow Ring Road; a 157 km stretch of motorway from Moscow towards the city of Tula; and another 99 km stretch from Moscow to the town of Volokolamsk. The latter two roads had been built for the Moscow Olympics to showcase the progress and modernity of the Soviet Union.

From 2000 to 2018, the expressway coverage increased sixfold, or with 2050 kilometers. In addition to the expressways, this period also saw the completion of a 2165 kilometer road from Chita to Khabarovsk connecting Russia’s Far East with the Siberian heartland and thus for the first time connecting the whole vast country from East to West in one proper single line of roads.

After his reelection in March 2018, Putin ordered a further push in road building resulting in a grand national plan to develop Russia’s road network by 2024 with nearly $100 billion in investments. This forms part of a broader strategic program to improve the Russian economy, demographics and infrastructure with public and private funding amounting to a total of $400 billion. Thanks to Russian purchasing power parity advantage and the much lower construction costs than in Western countries in general, Russia actually gets much more mileage for the money. We expect that the corresponding program in any Western country would cost at least half a trillion US dollars. These investments will by 2024 bring some 5200 more kilometers of expressway (most of that by 2022), bringing the grand total to 7,600 km. The Putin presidency will then by 2024 have seen a 20-fold increase of this crucial road infrastructure.

This report forms part of Awara’s series on Putin’s incredible infrastructure investments. In this link you can read about the magnificent new bridges being built all over the country: Putin the Pontiff – Bridge maker. And here is another one on the amazing new airports cropping up all over: See For Yourself – All the Amazing Airports of “Stagnating Russia”.

About our method

Ideally an expressway (motorway, freeway, interstate) is deemed to be a controlled-access highway providing for unhindered flow of traffic with two or more lanes in one direction where opposing directions are separated so that lanes in opposite directions do not provide direct access to each other. The expressway would not have any level intersections with other roads, railways and pedestrian paths as all crossings would be arranged through overpasses and underpasses, which are accessed through slip roads (ramps). The expressways in this report largely comply with the given definition, although not always fully. Basically we have included both controlled-access highways and limited-access highways, as the two terms are closely interrelated although the latter may offer somewhat less isolation from other traffic. From point of view of the driver the benefits are similar considering the general traffic circumstances.

Not only the fancy expressways, but road development in villages, too

In connection with the national program on road development 2024, the government has set new targets on improving the second tier roads, roads between regional centers and roads within urban agglomerations. This foresees a complete modernization of some 39 thousand kilometers of the interregional roads and modernization of 85% of the roads within the 104 largest urban agglomerations.

In the final days when I was preparing for this article, I happened to bring up the topic of the road development with a driver whose services I frequently use. What he told me confirmed once again, that those propagandists who want to denigrate all things Russian by claiming that progress has been achieved only achieved within the Moscow beltway (or perhaps sometimes also allowing for the centers of a few more major cities) are dead wrong. The driver told me, that even in the small village from which he hails in the Nizhny Novgorod Region (Novomochalei, Pilninsky area) they have in the last few years seen remarkable road improvements. The three main roads of the village have now been paved with a solid surface of asphalt, only one of them which previously was paved. They also received two new quality bridges. He also told that the road from the village to the main town of the area is of a completely satisfactory quality.

Maps show how the expressway network has developed over the Putin years

The below maps illustrate the development of Russia’s expressways before 2000 and after Putin took charge of Russia.

MAP 1. Russian Expressways by 1999

There were 365 km of expressway by 1999.

MAP 2A. Russian Expressways by 2018 (European part)

By 2018, 2054 km of new expressway were built

MAP 2B. Russian Expressways by 2018 (Asian part)

The 2165 km Amur highway from Chita to Khabarovsk

MAP 3. Russian Expressways by 2024

By 2024, an additional 5029 km of new expressway will be built.


Now, let’s take a look at some of the new roads and those under construction.

The MKAD, Moscow Outer Ring Road

The Moscow Ring Road was the first modern expressway of Russia, and one of the three expressways that were in place before Putin ascended to the presidency. The road has undergone major improvements in the last eight years after Sergey Sobyanin became the major of Moscow.

The rule has been that literally all roads in Russia lead to Moscow and the Moscow Ring Road is the high road where they all come together. This has naturally led to enormous pressure on this artery. Therefore, a new ring road due for completion 2021 – the ZKAD or Moscow Region Central Ring Road spanning 525 kilometers around Moscow further out through Moscow Region (Moscow Oblast) – is set to remove the congestion from the Moscow Ring Road and divert traffic away from the city.

If we include the horseshoe shaped central Moscow Boulevard Ring in the count, then the Moscow Region Central Ring Road would be the fifth of in total seven Moscow ring roads. It is of paramount significance for all further road developments in Russia and the modernization of the entire Moscow region.

ZKAD or Moscow Region Central Ring Road

This is how the 525-kilometer ZKAD is progressing through Moscow Region.


Most of the long awaited Moscow-Saint Petersburg expressway (M11), a stretch of 543 km, has been made operational by 2018 and the remaining 141 km will be delivered in 2019. This expressway, once fully opened in 2019, will be the most modern of all Russian roads.

Saint Petersburg Ring Road

The construction of the 142-kilometer long Saint Petersburg Ring Road started in 2001 and the road has been gradually taken into use year by year up to 2011 when the full circle was completed with opening of the 24.5 – kilometer stretch reaching over the Saint Petersburg Flood Dam. The Expressway over the Saint Petersburg Flood Dam has a drawbridge (1,079 meters) for allowing ships to get through. That one is mainly there in reserve, whereas at the main pass for ships the automotive traffic is organized through a 2-km long undersea tunnel keeping the ship passage open all the time.

Saint Petersburg will also after 2020 get a 122-kilometer beltway in form of a semicircle deeper in on the territory of the neighboring Leningradskaya Oblast.

M4 Don Expressway from Moscow to Krasnodar

The M4 Don expressway – Russia’s main North-South transport axis – is a 1542 kilometer long road from Moscow to Novorossiysk at the Black Sea coast in the Krasnodar Region. On the road, it proceeds through the important cities of Voronezh, Rostov-on-Don and Krasnodar. By 2018, 746 kilometers of the road were up to expressway standards, the remaining 796 kilometers should be brought up to speed by 2024.

Further from the M4 Don at Krasnodar a connecting road leads to the Crimean Peninsula. By 2022, that 150-kilometer road up to the Crimean bridge will be reconstructed as an expressway. From the end point of M4 at Novorossiysk another expressway will be drawn to the Crimean bridge.

The Crimean Expressway Tavrida

After the liberation from Ukrainian occupation, Crimea is undergoing a veritable infrastructure boom. The latest addition is the first stage of the Tavrida (Taurida) expressway, which was opened in December 2018. This is a road that Crimeans could not even dream about under the Ukrainian occupation. One more stretch of the Tavrida expressway opened in February 2019 as a 10-km bypass road of the regional capital Simferopol.

Crimea is one of the big winners in Russia’s road building drive. Already in 2018. the magnificent 19-kilometer bridge – Europe’s longest – was opened for traffic. Now, all the connecting roads on both sides are being upgraded. In addition to the connections from M4 on mainland Russia, Crimea itself is experience a massive road construction boom. There will be the already mentioned Tavrida from the bridge at the Kerch Strait through Simferopol all the way to Sevastopol. Further, another expressway will go – by 2020 – from Simferopol up to Yevpatoria and further to Mirny so as to serve the nearby new Russian navy base, which will enhance the defense of Crimea and all of Russia.

In order to ease the transition, the Tavrida is being opened in stages. For now, the road from Kerch to Simferopol only operates one lane in both directions, while the other two lanes are being completed, but all the overpasses and access roads are already in place. The expressway should be fully operational all the way to Sevastopol by 2020.

The Meridian Expressway

A truly groundbreaking project is the Meridian expressway, a 2,000-kilometer four-lane expressway through Russia from its border with Kazakhstan at Orenburg region to the Smolensk region at the Belorussian border. The expressway will form part of a 8,445 kilometers long transcontinental expressway from Shanghai all the way to Hamburg thus connecting the project with China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road transport and logistics initiative to which Russia now fully adheres. The Chinese and Kazakh stretches of the expressway are already completed and in use, while the Russian part is expected to be delivered by 2020. The project management announced that by this highway the time of delivery of goods from China to Western Europe would take only 11 days, which compares favorably with the 80 days it takes by sea.

In addition to greatly enhancing Russia’s foreign trade and strategic cooperation with China, the Meridian expressway will give an enormous boost to the development of all the Russian regions through which it cuts. These are all regions which are not rich in natural resources or agricultural powerhouses like the Southern regions. (The Russian Rust Belt, if you will). So far, those regions have also suffered from poor connectivity lacking proper motorways. The Meridian will not pass immediately by any of the major cities of the regions, but many a regional center will be just 100 to 150 kilometers off it and therefore receiving the direct benefits from this superhighway. These include cities with 300 thousand to one million inhabitants like: Orenburg, Samara, Saratov, Volgograd, Tambov, Voronezh, Lipetsk, Orel, Kursk, Bryansk and Smolensk.

Moscow – Kazan Expressway

One more much awaited road is the 729-kilometer superhighway toll road from Moscow through Nizhny Novgorod to Kazan with expected completion by 2023. This road is in the future also planned to be connected with the highway to Shanghai through Kazakhstan by way of extending the expressway from Kazan to Orenburg. Kazan may be considered as the gateway to the Urals and into Siberia, which also heightens the importance of this road. Therefore, we hope this expressway would soon be expanded further to Yekaterinburg. That would really able to connect the whole European part of Russia in a modern network of roads.

Sochi – Dzhubga Expressway needed to build a Russian Riviera on the Black Sea coast

Sorely missing from the approved road development plan is the project to build a new expressway from Sochi to Dzhubga, westwards from Sochi. The present road, with only one lane in both directions follows the shoreline through continuous suburban territory. As a result the 170 kilometer distance from Sochi center to Dzhubga will require in the best case four hours, but drivers should be prepared for at least six hours, while it could take even much longer. As this road is the only way out from Sochi to other parts of Russia, Sochi presently remains practically roadblocked from the rest of the country. In the run up to the Olympic games 2014, Sochi received a lot of infrastructure and superb roads, but these only take you from the city center eastwards to Adler and Krasnaya Polyana, the border with Abkhazian and the Caucasian mountains.

The present Sochi-Dzhubga road as it usually looks like

The modern road by passing Sochi center built for the Olympics ends abruptly in the middle of the city.There was hope that this road would have been included in the present plan, but the Russian Ministry of Transport maintained that it would be too expensive at a price tag of $24 billion. The new road would be cut through the mountains further up from the shoreline in a 120 km long stretch with 26 tunnels and 32 bridges and flyovers plus a bypass of the Lazarevskoe area and 80 km of access roads. There seems to be hope that this road would anyway eventually be added to the road development plan, perhaps even this year.

Putin has been enthusiastic about developing Sochi into a showcase modern Russian city, but as long as Sochi remains roadblocked like this the city will in no way be able to realize its full potential. It is actually not a question of only Sochi but the whole Russian Black Sea coast. With a proper expressway out from Sochi, Russia could connect that entire coastline from Sochi to Anapa and across the bridge to Crimea to the new expressways already being built there. This would effectively connect one thousand of kilometers of coast from Sochi to Yalta and further to Yevpatoria like a giant version of the Autopista del Sol in Spain’s Andalusia stretching from Malaga via Marbella to Algeciras, or the motorway A8 on the French Riviera. A proper expressway like that would connect the whole Russian Black Sea coast in one enormous recreation and resort are. This would mean a tremendous boost for the region enabling it to be converted into a prime international tourist destination with easy access between resorts, points of interest, amusement parks, aqua parks, best beaches, restaurants. But as long as the highest value visitors are effectively blocked from driving out of Sochi, this will not happen.

There is a lot of unused opportunities on the Black Sea coast between Sochi and Anapa. With a proper expressway you could build a Marbella or two in between.Talking about Marbella, Russia should actually build a Marbella or two on that coast. Presently there are not many modern and beautiful resorts or urban centers between the amazing Sochi and Anapa. In between there is actually only one quality resort Gelendzhik, which is a little gem in itself. Most of the area are run-down port towns and unattractive low-value resorts built by Soviet ministries, labor unions and industrial giants and which have not got much investments ever since. These locations are perfect candidates to be replaced by modern resorts.

There’s another planned expressway which is integrally connected with the construction of the Sochi-Dzhubga road, that’s the Kislovodsk-Sochi road. A 334 km road which would go from Kislovodsk in Stavropol region through the Caucasian mountains to Krasnaya Polyana in Sochi. The latter place is where the new road built for the Olympics ends at the ski resort. This road would be very important for connecting the Caucasian regions with Russia’s south and extending the Black Sea tourist wonderland to the beautiful Caucasian mountains and its numerous health spas. But as long as the way out from Sochi westwards is not opened it would not make sense to build that road which otherwise would only worsen the traffic jams down there.

Source: Awara