The Cromwellian logic of the Israel debate

The debate about Israel is one of the most stark and heated, if not violent, in modern politics. The rights of Palestinians to life and self-determination are set against the right of the state Israel to defend itself and its population. Israel is touted as the only liberal democracy in a Middle East full of dictators and absolute monarchies, justifying anything the state chooses to impose on its stateless neighbours.

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The history of anti-Irish racism

The following article appeared as the foreword to Phil Mac Giolla Bháin’s book “Minority Reporter”.

There’s nothing new about anti-Irish racism. In fact, some of the language of racism in general can be found far back in Irish and British history. Gerald of Wales accompanied the anglo-Norman invaders who first subjugated Ireland to rule under the king of England in the 12th Century. He wrote, in The History and Topography of Ireland (PDF), of the native Irish:

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Media silence over Freedom firebombing – imagine if it was Waterstones

Apart from a few notable exceptions, there’s been an indefensible level of silence about the firebombing of Freedom Bookshop on Friday morning. Only one TV channel, Press TV, bothered to send a camera crew to East London.  ITV, the Evening Standard and the Guardian did write stories about it, even if the latter did use the bizarre phrase about the shop that “[i]t claims to stock thousands of books, newspapers, pamphlets…” It’s a bookshop, what exactly makes a statement of easily verifiable fact a claim?

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Motions passed at the NUJ Delegate Meeting from London Independent Broadcasting and New Media Branch

The NUJ London Independent Broadcasting and New Media Branch, which I currently chair, proposed two motions to the union’s delegate meeting – both were passed without opposition. LNM means Late Notice Motion (ie. they were proposed after the deadline for motions in response to specific events).

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A tale of two Harry Bolands

Many years ago, I was reading Emma Goldman’s autobiography sitting beside the pool while on holidays in Greece (not necessarily everyone’s idea of relaxing, but I’m not everyone). I sat bolt upright in my sun-bed when I got to page 567 and Goldman writes of lecturing in Philadelphia. There, she writes, she met “two persons whose friendship recompensed me for the otherwise dreary experience, Harry Boland and Horace Traubel.” Harry Boland! She goes on, “Harry was an old devotee and always generously helpful in every struggle I made.”

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Rally for Media Reform – democracy in Britain corrupted by illegal and unethical press practices

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Commemorating the 1912 East End Jewish tailors’ strike – two events

This month marks the centenary of the great 1912 East End Jewish tailors’ strike, which saw 13,000 immigrant sweatshop workers walk out on strike. Three weeks later, on 25 May 1912, the bosses capitulated – they’d won.

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