A Minority View From Within The Left: "No Excuse For Terror"…….

In a forty five minute video (divided into four segments) by British journalist David Aaronovitch, both the far Left and Right are criticized for their role in creating a distorted image of Israel in the mainstream media. Mr.Aaronovitch, who considers himself a “Left winger”, is a regular columnist for The Times, and has won the George Orwell prize for political journalism in 2001. KGS

Update: After further consideration I changed the headline to this post, it was formerly “The Left Finally Speaks Out”. The title was perhaps a bit misleading as this part of the Left hardly constitutes its majority, rather, it is a small opposition from within the Left, while some wish the Left in general should be given credit, which I believe would be even more misleading.

4 Responses

  1. KGS – your title is either completely unfair or, more charitably, shows a real ignorance of UK politics. Aaronovitch has been a national newspaper columnist for years and years. I always read him in the Observer, which is considered a centre left paper, long before he moved to the Times; he hasn’t changed his views at all – he has always been anti-prejudice and anti-extremist and has always considered himself of the left. Nick Cohen is another good example of a prominent leftwing journo in the UK who is very similar. Then with blogs the popularity of Harry’s Place has showed that there is a definite constituency for these kind of attitudes in the UK – it is one of the most influential UK political blogs. If there is a movement here it has culminated in the “Euston Manifesto” that is perhaps the most progressive attempt of people who see themselves as leftwing to deal with the issue of terrorism – something that has attracted attention beyond the UK. There have always been many on the left who won’t make excuses for terror of any kind.

    To talk of “the left” as a monolithic bloc is just silly, as silly as, for example, anti-Israelis who refuse to see the range of opinion in Israel that Aaronovitch alludes to in the programme. In many ways the fight in Britain between “the left” that arguably Harry’s Place (and perhaps Aaronovitch – although I think he is quite centrist) represents and the “the left” that the Galloway and Respect Party represents, is a fight of the far left.

    The far left has ever since WWII in the UK been horribly fractured and so busy in internecine battles that except for some time in 70s and early 80s, it has never really been particularly influential. Fortunately the same is true of the far right as well. The vast majority of Labour voters have always been relatively centrist, like the wider European social democratic tradition, and remain so today. This is why Blair has managed to hang on for so long despite all the anger over his foreign policy decisions.

    But anyone on the right, particularly the American right, who thinks they have found fellow travellers should think again. People like Aaronovitch would be considered centrist or even “liberal” (in the US sense of word)) Democrats – pro-Choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-gun control, pro-Kyoto, pro-international law, anti-torture and rendition etc.

  2. Hi Toby,
    Thank you for your insight. I of course do not deem the Left as being any more monolithic than I do the Right, I do realize that there are many different factions embodied in any said group, The Left being no different.

    However, the fact that, at least in the international arena the Left has been miserably abssent in it’s condemnation in any significant numbers, is reason enough (at least for me) to give the title the post as I did.

    If you watched the forty five minute in its entirety, would have come across the segment in which Abdullah Muhsin speaks of the horror of Hussein’s regime. Muhsin is the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) international representative. He knows just how little support they have received from their international comrades.

    His fellow representative, Subdhi al-Mashadani;


    “came to speak at the European Social Forum in London. This is a really important gathering of left-wing campaign groups who fight on issues nobody else in the political spectrum stands up for: defending refugees, opposing the sale of weapons to tyrants, ending the international drug patenting rules that are killing hundreds of thousands of Africans, and much more. So you would expect the international left to welcome him and hear him politely.

    But he was an Iraqi who didn’t restrict his comments to the need for occupation troops to leave once a democratic election has been held. He also insisted on talking about the nature of the Sunni “resistance” – one of the most reactionary political forces anywhere on earth, consisting of homicidal misogynists, homophobes and supporters of Sharia law. The audience at the Social Forum booed and hissed him so loudly that he had to leave the stage.”

    BOOED HIM OFF THE STAGE. If this is representative of the Left wing across the board, then I am well within my rights to title my post the way I did.

    Regardless of how soft Left or how hard Left a progressive is, there is an atmosphere of intimidation within the “umbrella” Leftist camp that works against the efforts of these brave progressives. The fact that this type documentary is itself a rarity, underlines my point enitrely. The Left should be “well known” for producing such documentaries.

  3. This is a very interesting debate.

    The article that you quote is by Johann Hari – another example of a leftwing UK journalist who has always been happy to a call a spade a spade, or indeed a terrorist a terrorist. But don’t think he saves his anger for the killers of the Sunni (or indeed Shia) “resistance” and their western fellow travellers. How about this: https://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=984 where he in effects calls that “hero” or the Iraqi Liberation, Paul Wolfowitz a murderer for the policies he is pushing in the World Bank.

    Getting back to the point at hand – I would never try to explain the behaivour that Hari reports was directed at the IFTU rep at that meeting. But to jump from there to this being representative of the left in general is just wrong. Go to the IFTU’s english language website, the most obvious banner on it is the TUC’s Iraq appeal (the TUC is the Trade Union Congress, the UK equivalent of SAK here in Finland) and if you look at the TUC’s Iraq page its clear that they are very closely helping the the IFTU. Considering it is the TUC who represents seven million or so British trade unionists, not the European social forum, you have to admit that there are two sides to every story. Its no different from saying “look at Envagelical christianity in the US and its rapture fantasy leading them to support Israel blindly”, without saying that the genuinely held beliefs of many evangelicals in the US has meant that their church organisations have done as much as anyone else in pushing the US govt. to help the people of Darfur.

  4. Hi Toby,

    I’m not annoyed, surprised nor amazed by Hari’s opinions on Wolfowitz’s policies, nor do I find the TUC’s support of the IFTU as proof of the Left’s vindication. The fact that supposed Western imperialism is the driving force behind the majority of the international Left’s (across the board) disgust over the Iraq war, in spite of the fact that a major tyrant is being brought to justice, is indeed telling.

    That the international Left has to a very large degree, been responsible for managing international dissent against the Iraq war at the expense of the average Iraqi, who is fighting against everything the international Left is supposed to loathe, is indeed telling as well.

    I am not concerned over the domestic policies Liberals/Leftists’ may have when the fight against Islamist Extremism is at stake. I look upon “all those who speak up as heroes”, regardless of their political persuasions. And yes there is “two sides” to a story, but the example you gave does not convince me, (I read this months edition of the Foreign Affairs journal as well.)

    US support for Israel is multi-layered and goes very deep. Israel enjoys broad support from across traditional party lines, though tellingly, it has receded somewhat in it’s traditional power base of the US Left/Liberals….the Democratic party. The Republican party (in spite of everything)has been experiencing a renaissance in its own traditional power base, with more African Americans and Jewish Americans entering its ranks after an upsurge of anti-Semitical remarks from the radical’s (who have yet to be marginalized) within their party.

    Most Jews aligned with Evangelicals do not see a problem with their “end time” views, deeming their actions in the here and now, to be of more significance and importance. As for “blind support” of Israel, I believe it’s an entirely unfair label. Most Americans realize that the cynical war being waged against the Jewish state is one of choice. If the Palestinians desired a Palestinian state more than destroying the Jewish one, the conflict would have ended years ago.

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