Sunday, March 02, 2014

Yet Another Football/Politics Post

"The Daily Record's claims that Rangers bent the rules in order to win more competitions, dodged taxes to gain advantage and may still be guilty of cheating like fuck even today have been met with outrage and widespread criticism."

I'm just fucking with you there - that's actually the JC boiling with rage about Amnesty taking issue with Israeli soldiers shooting civilians, and I've messed with their prose*.

Isn't it odd though, that the tone is indistinguishable between a well-respected national news publication and some utter tool bleating about non-existent persecution on the internet?

Now, you and me both know how bizarre and unedifying it sounds when a nuclear power claims unfairness vis a vis a bunch of teenagers throwing rocks, but we're not talking about a sane situation here.  We're talking about a Hiroshima-capable nation that has absolute military supremacy over all of its potential enemies, getting arsey with an NGO for mentioning some uncomfortable truths.

Unlike some, I'm actually quite open to the idea that Israel doesn't get a fair hearing in the press - everyone has biases and angles to push, after all, and certain (small and insignificant) sections of the UK media are entirely unreceptive to Israeli complaints.

Nonetheless, let's imagine a different scenario - one in which the Palestinians get three billion dollars' worth of free armaments a year plus the occasional shitty report from Amnesty, and the Israelis get the food parcels.

Which do you imagine the Israelis would rather have, I ask: a couple of critical Amnesty reports, or a fuckload of cutting-edge murder weapons?  I suggest that the answer should allow us to reach some fairly significant conclusions.

I think we'd find out soon enough what is and is not fair; what does and doesn't represent bias.  If the Palestinians were suddenly delivered a hi-tech air force and drone capability and so on, I think we'd start to hear quite quickly about actual unfairness and real terrible biases.

Which should surely put all of this Woe is us, a soldier can't even shoot a teenager for no sane reason without getting a lot of grief nonsense into perspective, I would've thought. But then, I am an arsey and biased person, like everyone else.

*Although as a connoiseur of both Israeli and Rangers FC boo-hoo, I have to tell you that they're basically interchangeable with only minor alterations - the UN standing in for the SFA, the Guardian/BBC in place of the Daily Record etc. and so on.


organic cheeseboard said...

This from some random Tory is probably the worst thing ever:

“Any report has to be seriously considered, but my visit to Israel last week brought home to me the suffering that has been caused on all sides by terrorist actions against Israel in the past.

OK fine, an unarmed kid was shot and killed while running away from soldiers (and the case is actually even worse than the JC piece makes out since the soldiers were actually hiding before the kid jumped a couple of fences - so were clearly actively looking for confornation), but I went on a free holiday to Israel last week and was reminded of the fact that TERRORISM IS BAD.

I genuinely can't understand these 'X party friends of Y' organisations. They're about the most obviously undemocratic part of our political system.

flyingrodent said...

Politicians and hacks do go on junkets all the time, to various places all over the world. That said, the only journo I've ever seen declare that he's been on a free jag to a nation that he's writing about is Alex Massie.

levi9909 said...

Flying Rodent - can you give a specific example of a legitimate Israeli complaint against a mainstream media report?

flyingrodent said...

Nothing springs to mind, although doubtless someone will be along presently to present a thousand, prompting an endless row.

When I say "I'm open to the idea that Israel doesn't get a fair hearing in the press", I mean that I'm quite willing to treat the idea as if it's a possibility, rather than pure fantasy. There are certainly pundits who wouldn't agree with the Israelis if they said that the sky is blue or fire is hot, although I'd argue that this hardly counts as some terrible and shameful prejudice.

ejh said...

I was wondering - who would be our footballing parallel for the US? A superpower with a high moral opinion of itself? Its main rivals, now reconstituted after a complete collapse nevertheless remain much weakened? Nevertheless, despite its now-preeminent status, it complains endlessly of institutional and public bias against it.... (etcetcetc)

flyingrodent said...

Why, I certainly can't think of any Scottish clubs that would match this description, especially not any that hail from the west coast and play in hoops.

Igor Belanov said...

A good analogy ejh, but does it mean that Rangers' 1-0 victory at East Fife represents the occupation of the Crimea?

organic cheeseboard said...

One of the things I find funniest about the 'pro-Israel' crowd complaning about UN/Humani Rights Orgs and their criticisms of Israeli Govt actions is that Israel typically refuse to participate in any of the investigations.

Quite easy to claim 'bias, they only interviewed our enemies' when your side has literally refused to participate in the invesigation.

levi9909 said...

FR - I think it's worth noting that there is a sizable body of opinion in the UK alone that holds that the State of Israel simply has no right to exist and that's on purely liberal or so-called bourgeois democratic grounds. That position very rarely gets aired in the mainstream. I know of only two articles in the Guardian and one in the Independent that have called into question Israel's right to exist and they're the only papers that allow any serious criticism of Israel.

Of course this doesn't mean that false claims are never made about Israel but I remember back in the early noughties Israel kicked up a stink over a BBC report that Israel had killed hundreds of people in Jenin refugee camp. It turned out the origin of the claim was the Israeli officer commanding the operation in a report on Israel Army Radio. The BBC did what it always does and simply repeated verbatim what Israel was claiming at the time.

I dunno how often you read the JC but it's interesting that you couldn't think of even one instance of Israel having legitimate grounds for complaint. And notice that no one did turn up "presently" to provide any examples. It might just be that there are none.

flyingrodent said...

it's interesting that you couldn't think of even one instance of Israel having legitimate grounds for complaint.

Well, I was trying to make the point that even if you entirely accepted the JC's claims at face-value, they're still piffling irrelevancies in the greater scheme of things.

I find this a useful tactic for a) working out whether a story is important and b) avoiding getting into haggling on the minutae of the situation, which is why I employ it so often.

I think it's worth noting that there is a sizable body of opinion in the UK alone that holds that the State of Israel simply has no right to exist

I think it's worth noting that this theoretically "sizeable" body of opinion is in fact very small indeed comparatively with overwhelming public indifference and that even if it's 100% correct, that doesn't mean that news agencies are compelled to accord your position any respect. They don't on any other issues, I notice.

Further, I'd point out that Israel isn't a theoretical construct but is actually a fact - a fact with a massive nuclear arsenal and absolute military supremacy over any mid-term conceivable enemy.

That being the case, and without casting any kind of moral judgement over the situation, I suggest that you should get down to re-evaluating your opinion on the matter, because in all probability Israel is going to be here in a hundred years, whether you or anyone else likes it or not.

(I realise you're going to hate this message but I don't write the news, brother. I just read it out, and I read it out quite politely).

levi9909 said...

I don't hate the message at all and I didn't accuse you of being impolite and I wasn't impolite myself. I just find it strange and sad that you seem to confuse what is with what ought and expect others to do the same. I also think you put a lot of effort into finding a concomitant "half a dozen of the other" for every "six" that you actually see before you. But the fact that there is a powerful case against Israel on straightforward standard principles which apply to other states goes unrepresented in the media suggests that Israel really can't complain when you consider the favourable and often dishonest coverage it gets in most of the mainstream. The JC isn't a stand out in its Israel can do no wrong stance.

And don't forget apartheid South Africa and the Soviet Union both had nuclear arsenals in their day but neither exist today. Of course they had more powerful enemies relative to their own power than Israel has, but military might says nothing of a state's right to exist nor is it a guarantor of its future existence over the long term. In the case of South Africa it seems to have been the boycott together with internal resistance that finished it off. In the case of the Soviet Union the arms race may have done for it. In neither case was it a direct military challenge.

Anyway, thanks for responding.

flyingrodent said...

I just find it strange and sad that you seem to confuse what is with what ought and expect others to do the same.

It's less that, than it is me pointing out that there's no point in confusing "what should happen" with "what will actually happen". The two are mutually exclusive and are not dependent upon what people generally in e.g. the UK think about the issue.

The JC isn't a stand out in its Israel can do no wrong stance.

I'd advise you to see beyond this, because the larger issue is so very plain that minor nonsense like this is almost irrelevant. Whether Israel gets a free pass in the media or a hoofing is pretty much immaterial, and a brief Google search shows the pointlessness of debating the issue. As I said, the question of media bias or whatever somewhat pales in comparison when you recall that £3bn worth of cutting-edge weapons technology is somewhat more of an advantage than a few huffy opinion columns.

military might says nothing of a state's right to exist nor is it a guarantor of its future existence over the long term.

I don't believe that states have a "right to exist". They endure or fall or morph into something else but the question of justice doesn't usually come into it. This may not be how I'd like it to be, but it is how it is.

And I'd suggest that Apartheid South Africa is a fairly major historical outlier, rather than the norm.

What I'm saying here is that all of this exists totally independently of our opinions on it. This isn't to say that people shouldn't express their thoughts on the matter, but to suggest that perhaps we could try to focus on the important stuff rather than getting bogged down in the trivia and that we should probably lower our expectations of what is and isn't feasible. You may be right that military might isn't a decisive factor but really, I suspect history disagrees.

ejh said...

And I'd suggest that Apartheid South Africa is a fairly major historical outlier, rather than the norm.

Mmm. I think there have been more states in history which have ceased to exist than ones which remain in existence.

flyingrodent said...

All too true, but Apartheid SA is the only one I can think of that was in large part sunk by the disapproval of some foreigners.

ejh said...

Actually as it goes, South Africa as a state continues to exist. Its borders and its name remain the same. So it may not be a good example.

levi9909 said...

Rhodesia might be a better example but what's in a name?

There have been other issues where governments were swayed by public opinion, eg Vietnam & America's withdrawal and UK's non-entry in the first place.

There are many issues arising out of Israel and the west's and the Jewish communal leadership's support for it, not least the harm it does to relations between Jews and other minority groups here.

You say that with its billions in arms that resistance is futile but the whole of the media often simply lies for Israel. Even school books get the basic facts wrong in ways that can only be deliberate. This can and should be exposed. Look at the number of bogus academics jumping through hoops to try to have campaigning against Israel made a hate crime. What if they succeed? Only recently the BBC website was saying that the so-called working definition of antisemitism was EU policy. When I challenged them, they changed the statement from their own to reported speech, so they are still misleading people but in someone else's name. That shouldn't be challenged? I think it should.

An arms company in N.Ireland which was supplying arms to Israel had its factory smashed up by Palestine solidarity activists and the court accepted that the crimes Israel was committing in Gaza made the defendants not guilty. A pointless exercise to the indifferent majority but a great victory for those who care.

Sorry, I'm throwing random facts around but I find this "resistance is futile because the baddies are too powerful" idea simply appalling. Also, the campaign against zionism needn't be zero-sum. There are gains to be made at various levels that fall short of the ultimate goal of human rights for all regardless of ethno-religious heritage.

You say Israel is a fact. But unlike states that exist to run countries with clear boundaries, Israel doesn't claim to be the state of a country, it claims to be the state of the world's Jews. This gives, eg, me more right to be there than non-Jews who live there or who have been ethnically cleansed.

Unlike other states which to remain in existence have to simply stay where they are, Israel has to constantly tinker with the ethno-religious demographic balance. It has to keep displacing non-Jews and importing and/or redefining Jews. Ethiopians couldn't be Jewish from 1948 until Israel started using lots of Thai and Filipino workers in the 90s. Then suddenly they discovered Ethiopians could be Jewish after all, but strictly within quota. Peruvian Indians have been fast-tracked to Judaism and then settled in the West Bank and, last I heard, Iranian Jews were being offered $50k from US zionists to leave Iran and settle in Palestine in addition to the goodies all Jews get for "aliyah". I also hear that there are zionists working with the BJP in India to have some low caste types "found" as lost tribes of Israel. All the Arabs are being pressured or forced to leave.

On top of all this an American foreign policy document warned that if Iran gets nuclear weapons it will not be a nuclear threat to Israel as such because it would be suicidal for Iran but it would lead many Israeli Jews to rethink their supremacy and maybe even drift away from Israel since most have the right to live somewhere else. That is, Israel could go out with a whimper rather than a bang. I'm not for a moment suggesting that a nuclear armed Iran is desirable.
What I'm trying to do is point out that Israel is not simply a powerful fact, it is a work in progress with Arabs being displaced and Jews being imported and privileged on arrival and further, it is worth Israel's while to provoke or maintain a state of tension to make the whole thing cohere.

But those who think Israel should just be left to get on with it and let's just see what the American hyperpower allows ignore the disastrous impact the imposition of this euro-supremacist colony on the crossroads of Africa and Asia has on community relations elsewhere including the UK.

levi9909 said...

Oops, I just read that back and meant to say, "All the *while* Arabs are being pressured or forced to leave." I wouldn't wanna deny Israel's mastery of tokenism.

flyingrodent said...

It's possible I'm confusing two seperate propositions here.

First, I'm quite happy for people to protest things they find unacceptable and to try to correct serious distortions wherever they find them. It's all fair enough but from my own perspective - which I don't expect anyone else to share - the immediately partisan nature of e.g. arguments over who the BBC is bigging up in the Middle East are always an unedifying, non-stop squabble, achieving only the most trifling gains.

Note here - I don't expect you to agree with this. It's my opinion, though.

With this in mind, the point in the original post is - even if you take the JC's claims at their absolute, most awful maximum, well, who cares?

If Amnesty is being unfair to Israel and that has no real-world consequences then, who gives a shit? Amnesty have no divisions and no airforce, and the US isn't going to stop handing out the whizzbang and vetoing at the UN because a few teenagers got shot.

So I'd be inclined to treat any wails and screams over AI's "bias" as the comically unimportant nonsense that it is.

There's another issue here that I'm talking about, and it's muddying the waters a bit. Basically, I do think that on issues like the US & Israel's relationship, and on general warmongering, there's really nothing useful to be done beyond trying to change a few folk's minds.

The west's instinctual warmaking and world-arming isn't so much apersonality-driven phenomena; in literary terms, it's not really so much like e.g. Big Brother in 1984, which is merciless but at least recognisably human. The Party has aims which are horrifying, but basically comprehensible.

The west's neverending war industry isn't like that. It's a gigantic, indifferent, inhuman enterprise, in the sense that everyone involved in it is merely a cog in an insensate machine. It has impulses, but its aims and methods are cracked and deranged, because it's not a strict decision-making hierarchy with plausible strategies and coherent goals. It's just an aggregate of competing interests - destroying the terror, stuffing manufacturers' pockets with cash, defending Israel from whatever, rattling sabres at Iran for whatever reason, helping the womens of Afghanistan, and so on... (Cont.)

flyingrodent said...

...If you want a metaphor for this, then The Trial is a better match. Its system is remorseless and unstoppable, grinding away at its own crazy purpose for no more reason than it's just what the system does. Which is the point - nobody is really directing it; nobody even understands what it really does. If you discourage one cog in the machine, the others crank up in compensation.

Seen like this, a lot of recent events make more sense. A few Saudi yahoos blast the WTC on national television and a couple of years later, a coalition of coerced nations invade Iraq. Nato tries to push its borders all the way to South Ossetia, and Georgia gets smashed.

Why? If you asked any particular head of the hydra that question, you'd get a different but equally correct response.

So you'll understand why I don't think there's much that even the most organised democratic groups can do about e.g. Israel bashing up the Palestinians. It's just one part of a vast and incorrigible machine, one that not only isn't concerned whether whether its individual mechanisms are harmful, but that is blissfully unaware that there's anything odd at all about e.g. hurling a bajillion dollars in armaments at tiny nations on the outer arse-edge of the Med.

Trying to encourage a system like this to recognise the insanity of its own actions is like a rabbit railing against the food chain. Nobody's listening and even if they were, nobody would understand or care.

Which is all very depressing but you know, you can do whatever strikes you as most useful about this situation. I don't think it helps, but I'm not trying to discourage you, or even to get you to see it my way.

levi9909 said...

Jesus Christ FR, that was like watching all six seasons of The Sopranos in the hope of watching Tony Soprano get killed.

Couple of points.

Israel is clearly very sensitive to what in particular a respected organisation like Amnesty reports. AI reports do seem to have had a restraining effect on Israel in the past and clearly Israel takes them seriously enough to want them rubbished in the media. I'm reminded of a related matter, the Goldstone report. Even though Goldstone was pressured into retracting stuff in the media that the report hadn't even said, the next time Israel attacked Gaza the death toll was much lower. There were pundits who I respect anyway who attributed this relative restraint to the Goldstone report. So I believe that lives have been saved thanks to reporting against Israel's war crimes and crimes against humanity (as the Goldstone report said).

Conversely, when Israel has had a result, like say the UK changing the law so that Israeli war crimes suspects cannot be prosecuted here, Israel has celebrated with a bit of carnage here or there. Really. I think a similar thing happened when Blair said how wonderful it was that Israel had taken out maybe 4 out of over 600 checkpoints. I don't have specific examples to hand because I haven't rehearsed this but there is a definite pattern of Israeli excess when the publicised going is good and restraint when it's not so good.

Also, I think you're still overlooking the harm done to community relations with Jews looking like a beyond white over-privileged community when other non-white communities are treated as suspect sometimes with the state getting active encouragement from the likes of the JC, the CST and the Board of Deputies, not to mention the aforementioned bogus academics and of course the mainstream media.

And regarding media treatement, zionist lobbying consumes hundreds of millions of dollars every year in America alone. AIPAC is now on well over $100 m as is the American Jewish Committee. Last I heard of the so-called Anti-Defamation League it was on $90 m a year income and expenditure. Most of the dough of the latter two goes on media work. Are they fools? Their main work is to make Israel appear the goodie and the Arabs the baddies but there is also an element of conveying the message you have received, that resistance and even complaint is futile. But the effect of the likes of Goldstone and AI reports show that this isn't the case.

flyingrodent said...

Jesus Christ FR, that was like watching all six seasons of The Sopranos in the hope of watching Tony Soprano get killed.

Well, you did ask why I was so six-and-half-a-dozen about some issues, so there you go.

And well, maybe Goldstone did have some effect on the Israeli government, but I hae my doots. I think it's more likely that the combined Lebanon/Gaza propaganda clusterfuck, which occurred even though they kept the TV cameras away from the latter, has demonstrated that you can't really get away with bombarding fuck out of heavily populated urban areas without tarnishing your reputation, but it certainly didn't hurt.

levi9909 said...

I know I often misunderstand what you're saying but we seem to be converging a tad here since we both agree that reputation is an issue for Israel. I just think that in addition to shooting Palestinians, Israel and its advocates have a penchant for shooting messengers.

levi9909 said...

Sorry, I know you're not disputing that latter part, but given its concern for its rep, it makes sense to shoot the various messengers.