A few people have commented on this blog have that I’m obsessed with – and grant far too much significance to – “irrelevant far left groupuscules” with no wider influence during my ruminations on the Israel/Palestine conflict.
I may well be obsessed. But that’s because I’m also confused. Is the creeping anti-semitism, the crazed Nazi analogies, the lazy history, the blood curdling hatred of Israel, the apologies for Islamism and the rest of the extremist claptrap solely confined to groupuscules on the far left?
Try this for an example.
Tonight the Bristol Stop The War Coalition and Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign have organised a meeting with the title ‘Stop The Slaughter In Gaza‘. The keynote speaker is Yvonne Ridley, the former Glenda Slagg-style Express hackette turned Muslim convert and Respect Party bigwig.
Ridley’s day job these days is working for Press TV, a crude propaganda outfit directly funded by the Holocaust denial obssessed Iranian government whose leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said just last week that Israel’s continued existence was “not feasible”.
Ridley also has a sideline in what she describes as “motivational speaking” to Muslims across the world.
“I’m reinforcing their beliefs, I’m attacking the War on Terror, which is a war on Islam, and I’m defending the resistance in the Muslim world,” she says.
And what a defence it is. Yvonne’s motivating words consist of such sane and rational statements to cheering crowds as, “Drinking Coca-Cola is like drinking the blood of Palestinian children!”
Or how about her description of David Miliband? “A gutless little weasel who lost more than his foreskin when he was circumcised.”
Rather nicely gets the point across that he’s – the horror! – Jewish doesn’t it?
Ridley has described the Chechen terrorist leader and architect of the Beslan school massacre, Shamil Basayev, as a ‘shaheed’ or martyr. And she has also declined to condemn Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, preferring instead to say that his attacks in 2005 on three hotels in Jordan killed “US collaborators” and those who deserved to be “punished for their status in life.”
On the subject of her Respect Party, Yvonne says,”[It’s] is a Zionist-free party… if there was any Zionism in the Respect Party they would be hunted down and kicked out. We have no time for Zionists.”
Although she assures us “[it] encompasses a broad church of ideas and opinions”. But obviously not supporters of an Israeli state or “that disgusting little watchdog of America that is festering in the Middle East” as she likes to call it.
As for Labour, Tories and Lib Dems, well, they’re all “riddled with Zionists” aren’t they?
And finally, here’s the view of somebody who’s already heard her speak on the subject of Israel and Palestine:
Overall, the debate was not so much that of `what now for Israel and Palestine?’ as advertised but an all-out attack on Israel. Ridley criticised “the West’s” ignorance of Islam and the situation in Palestine. What is clear is that Respect’s policy on the Middle East, if that is what Ridley advocated, is pretty much in line with that of Hamas and effectively calls for the destruction of Israel
All-in-all, it’s not unfair to describe Ridley as an extremist, which she’s perfectly entitled to be. That’s entirely up to her and her idiot supporters really.
But it’s interesting to see who her supporters are in Bristol and who’s prepared to stand on a platform alongside this Jihadist crackpot as she apologies for the murder of civilians, calls for the destruction of Israel and demands Zionists are hunted down.
Well, here’s who’s speaking with Ridley tonight: Imam Assad Ali Shah – St Marks Road Mosque, Easton; Farooq Siddique – Bristol Muslim Cultural Society; Abdul Malik – Bristol City Councillor for Easton; John Drake – Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union; Paulette North – National Union of Teachers.
That’s just about every high-profile, public so-called “moderate” Muslim in the city and a couple of trade unionists representing a good few thousand public sector workers in the city including, rather disturbingly, teachers.
Makes it a little clearer where this often talked about radicalisation of people over Israel/Palestine might really be coming from doesn’t it?
Maybe it’s about time some of these people sat down and had a hard think about what they’re supporting and what effect they might be having. I’m told Bristol MP, Kerry McCarthy, a vigorous supporter of Palestine, is declining to appear on platforms with Respect and the likes of Ridley. It’s about time others followed the example.
Further info’: try ‘Reading Gaza’ by Fat Man on a Keyboard over at Drink Soaked Trots. It’s a superb analysis of the language, rhetoric and tropes being used and abused by both sides in the Gaza conflict .