Sunday, August 26, 2018

Corbyn, Labour , Anti-Semitism, the IHRA definition, Wreathgate & Irony-Gate ; Propaganda, Double Standards and Hypocrisy

Summary

There have been a small minority of Labour members who have said anti-Semitic things; and the party was not quick enough to discipline them for it. But anti-Semitism is not widespread in the Labour party or on the left though. Research by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in 2017 found under 6% of people on the far left in the UK have anti-Semitic views.

Many of the people accused by Corbyn’s critics of anti-Semitism are Jewish. Some are Israeli military veterans like Miko Peled. Others Holocaust survivors like Hajo Meyer, or their children like Norman Finkelstein, or grandchildren of Holocaust victims like Gerald Kaufmann MP. Accusing them, or anyone agreeing with them, of anti-Semitism, is ludicrous. And many of the accusations against Corbyn and Labour have been false.

The IHRA examples would label them anti-Semites for comparing any Israeli government or military action to any action of the Nazis; along with anyone calling Israel a racist state, which would include Bishop Desmond Tutu. Labour adopted the definition plus 7 of 11 examples, rewording four relating to Israel – and adding a twelfth.

The IHRA definition and examples were written up for an EU body which saw them as only for discussion and debate and dropped them in 2013. Kenneth S. Stern, who drafted them, says they’re being misused to prevent free speech on Israel in a “McCarthy-like” way. (Credit to Jewish Voice For Labour and Free Speech on Israel for bringing these facts to light. They have also suggested a much clearer definition of anti-Semitism)

Joanna Phillips , a Jewish student group leader, has also pointed to the IHRA definition being mis-used to label the BDS movement anti-Semitic. BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) campaign to boycott Israeli products until Palestinians are given their own state alongside Israel.

The MacPherson principle is also being misquoted to claim any allegation of anti-Semitism by any Jewish person must be treated as anti-Semitism. MacPherson only said it should be investigated as a potential racist crime. Otherwise it would destroy the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

Photo: Gerald Kaufmann MP in 2003

The outrage over Corbyn attending a ceremony in Arabic at which civilian victims of a 1985 Israeli airstrike were honoured along with two senior PLO officials involved in planning the Munich terrorist murders shows massive double standards and hypocrisy.

In 2004 Jack Straw laid a wreath at PLO head Yasser Arafat’s funeral. In 2014 Tony Blair and the UK Foreign Secretary laid wreaths at the funeral of Ariel Sharon, one of the greatest mass murderers  and war criminals in the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict, who led the 1953 Qibya massacre ; allowed the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres ; and oversaw the targeted killing of civilians in 2002 in the West Bank in Operation Defensive Shield.

In 2006 Benjamin Netanyahu attended a ceremony to honour the Zionist terrorists of the Irgun group who bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946 when Palestine was under British rule, killing 91 people. Also attending was Yitzakh Shamir, a former leader of the Lehi Zionist terrorist group who killed many civilians in terrorist attacks, including UN envoy Folke Bernadotte. Netanyahu began in politics as Shamir’s spokesperson when Shamir was Israeli Prime Minister.

(Medhi Hasan has also pointed out all the actual anti-Semites that Netanyahu is happy to associate with so long as they don’t criticise Israel or his government and military’s actions)

Theresa May’s Conservative UK government continues to arm governments and militaries who committ war crimes against civilians, including deliberately targeting them, including Israel’s and the Saudi dictatorship’s.

Reports from Amnesty Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem show Israeli forces regularly target Palestinian civilians. The same groups say the British armed Saudi air force has repeatedly targeted civilians including children in Yemen, yet the Saudis continue to receive British arms sales, political support and RAF advisors.

Photo: Yemeni schoolboys dig graves for their classmates killed in a Saudi airstrike on their school bus

The majority of accusations of anti-Semitism against Corbyn and Labour are his political enemies crying wolf by presenting criticism of Israel as if it was prejudice against all Jewish people.

There is no way for instance that Corbyn would use the word Zionists to mean Jews when he has shared platforms with many anti-Zionist Jews like Hajo Meyer.

New Labour within the Labour party want rid of him for criticising them (especially over the Iraq war which he voted against) , because his policies differ from theirs; and because New Labour MPs want their candidates to win in elections to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee so they can scrap democracy within the party now it’s not working in their favour and side-line party members (the majority of who support left wing policies) again. Even if that fails they hope to lose Labour under Corbyn another General Election so they can say he has to go then.  

The Conservatives are happy to damage their main rival, Labour.

Pro-Israel groups want to get rid of a senior politician who backs a Palestinian state alongside Israel and has criticised Israel and sided with its critics and enemies.

This is not a dispute between Jews and non-Jews , but between critics of Israel and those who oppose allowing any serious criticism of its actions. A significant minority of Jewish people agree with Corbyn and Labour that the IHRA examples need amended to allow for criticism of Israel. For example the Jewish Voice for Labour group,  author and Corbyn supporter Michael Rosen , the Free Speech on Israel group and comedian David Baddiel (althoughhe’s  not generally a fan of Corbyn’s). Forty Jewish groups from around the world have also issued a joint statement saying that calling Israel racist is not anti-Semitism .

As Norman Finkelstein has pointed out neither Jews nor Zionist Jews are threatened or marginalised groups in the UK. They both have plenty of representation in parliament and the media, with anti-Semitism seen as unacceptable by the vast majority of British people – and there is far more prejudice against other minorities.

The demands that Labour adopt all the IHRA examples on Israel are Corbyn’s enemies demanding he put his head – and much of the left’s – in a noose, so they can pull it tight.


There are some Anti-Semites in the Labour party
but they’re a small minority

First, yes, there has been some anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Naz Shah MP’s “The Jews are rallying” facebook post was anti-Semitic. Though the attached map suggesting “Solution for Israel-Palestine conflict - relocate Israel into United States” was actually made by Norman Finkelstein, an American Jewish academic whose mother was a Holocaust survivor – and is mocking the line “Jordan is Palestine” suggesting all Palestinians should go and live in Jordan, which is pushed by many hardline Zionist groups (1) – (2).

Labour council candidate Naz Khan’s facebook post saying “Jews have reaped the rewards of playing victims…What good have Jews done in this world” and even that it was “a shame” that “history teachers…are brainwashing…children… into thinking the bad guy was Hitler” was blatant anti-Semitism. But she was banned by the party from being a candidate and left it (3).

Yes, Labour was too slow to discipline them ; and shouldn’t have had to wait for media coverage first.

Labour does not have more anti-Semitism than other parties though, nor is anti-Semitism widespread among Labour party members or Corbyn supporters,  nor the majority of people in the UK. The Institute for Jewish Policy Research found in a 2017 report that “levels of antisemitism in Great Britain are among the lowest in the world”. It also found that while the percentage of anti-Semites among people on the left and far left rose slightly – to 5.9% on the far left vs 4% among people with centrist views;  it is far more common on the right with 7% of those describing themselves as fairly right wing having anti-Semitic views and 17% of those on the far right. Over 80% of people describing themselves as right wing said they were Conservative or UKIP voters (4).

There is even some evidence to suggest that Labour has less anti-Semitic supporters than other major parties – and that the percentage may have fallen under Corbyn’s leadership.

A cross party Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee also concluded in a unanimously approved report in 2016  that there was no evidence of there being higher levels of anti-Semitism in the Labour party than other major parties (5).

That is not the impression you would get from certain politicians and some of the media.

And many of the headlines about “anti-Semitism” have been very misleading.

The Phony Accusations of Anti-Semitism –
Conflating it with criticism of Israel

Photo: Miko Peled

Many of the people accused by Corbyn’s critics of anti-Semitism are Jewish. Some of them Israeli military veterans. Others Holocaust survivors, their children or their grandchildren.

For instance the first major “anti-Semitic” incident reported involved Miko Peled, a Jewish born Israeli, son of an Israeli general, and Israeli Defence Forces veteran. He has come to oppose the existence of the state of Israel, believing in a “one state solution” in which everyone living in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank would be given equal citizenship in a single state of Palestine.

At a fringe event at the 2017 Labour party conference he also suggested there should be absolute free speech, with even whether the Holocaust happened or not being something that could be debated (6).

Personally I disagree with him on both points, but can anyone seriously believe that he is motivated by anti-Semitism. i.e prejudice or hatred against Jewish people for being Jewish?

Then there’s the late Hajo Meyer, a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp. He was the main speaker at an event on Holocaust Remembrance Day which Corbyn attended and helped organise in 2010 labelled “anti-Semitic” by Corbyn’s critics. Meyer compared Israeli state ideology and some actions of the Israeli government and military to those of the Nazis. Its title was ‘Never Again For Anyone : From Auschwitz to Gaza’ (7). 

Again some people may disagree with what Meyer said. But can anyone seriously believe he was motivated by prejudice or hatred against Jewish people?

And is Peled saying there should be a one state solution the same as saying Israel “should be destroyed” (implying Israeli Jews killed or forced to leave)? Clearly not.

Photo: Hajo Meyer

Daily Mail columnist Dan Hodges gave a Sky News interview in which he amazingly claimed that Meyer was not anti-Semitic, but that Corbyn was for attending the event, which qualified as anti-Semitic under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition of anti-Semitism, some of whose “examples” (not the definition itself) claim comparing contemporary Israeli actions to those of the Nazis is anti-Semitism.

This ludicrous 1984 style Double Think is popular among Corbyn’s most vociferous critics, despite it being a logical impossibility. Either a point of view is anti-Semitic, or it is not. It cannot be not anti-Semitic when a Jewish Holocaust survivor says it, but anti-Semitic if a non-Jew agrees with it, or attends an event at which it is said.

It’s even more amazing when you find out that the IHRA’s definition and examples of anti-Semitism were originally drawn up for an EU body , purely for debate and discussion, by Jewish activists from around the world. And that the EU agency dropped them from its website in 2013 due to concerns they were being misused. This did not stop former New Labour MP Denis Macshane writing an article excoriating Corbyn for “rejecting the EU’s definition of anti-Semitism” 5 years after the EU repudiated it, nor The Independent publishing it (8) – (9).

What’s more Kenneth S. Stern, one of the main drafters of the definition, Jewish and a self-described Zionist, says that the definition is too vague and that it is being misused to prevent free speech on Israel. He described its use to ban “Israeli Apartheid Week” at some UK universities as “anti-Semitic” as “chilling” and “McCarthy-like” (10).

So either the EU and yet another Jewish person (this time a Zionist adamant in his support for Israel’s right to exist) are yet more anti-Semites motivated by prejudice and hatred against Jewish people. Or else the entire saga of trying to redefine anti-Semitism as comparing any actions of the State of Israel to those of the Nazis , and calling the state of Israel a racist endeavour, are just a ludicrous propaganda campaign.

Photo:Kenneth S. Stern

Joanna Phillips , a Jewish student group leader, has also pointed to the IHRA definition being mis-used to label the BDS movement anti-Semitic. BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) campaign to boycott Israeli products until Palestinians are given their own state alongside Israel; along with encouraging companies to end investment in Israel and governments to place sanctions on it to put pressure on the Israeli government to offer a viable, sovereign Palestinian state.

The late Gerald Kaufmann MP, Jewish, and whose grandmother was killed by the Nazis, also compared Israeli forces’ actions in Gaza to those of the Nazis in World war Two (11).

Yet the IHRA examples would label Kaufmann an anti-Semite.

Similarly they could label Bishop Desmond Tutu an anti-Semite for calling Israel “an Apartheid state” (i.e a racist state). And Norman Finkelstein, the adopted son of Holocaust survivors, for his books noting some parallels between some actions and ideology of the Nazis and those of the Israeli government and military (12).

Photo: Norman Finkelstein

These two examples and another two were re-written in the Labour party’s rules against anti-semitism, not “omitted” as much of the media has claimed. They adopted the definition itself and seven other IHRA examples without any disagreement (13).

Here is the IHRA definition “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

No wonder Stern thinks this is too vague. He also says it was intended to be a starting point to look at particular cases that *might* meet these criteria, to see if they were actually anti-Semitic.

The misuse of his definition and examples is similar to pro-Israel groups’ distortion of the much misquoted MacPherson principle from his report on the Stephen Lawrence case. Many Jewish hard-line Zionists and their supporters,  who object to any criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitic”, say it must be treated as such if they perceive it to be, because that is the MacPherson principle on racist crimes. But MacPherson actually said that any case perceived by the person reporting it as racist should be investigated by police as a potential racist crime to see if there was evidence of racism. Otherwise anyone accused of any kind of race hate crime would be automatically guilty without any investigation or trial, which would be ludicrous and destroy the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Even the CST – a Jewish group highly critical of Corbyn’s supposed tolerance for anti-Semitism, noted in it’s own 2009 report that subjective perceptions of anti-Semitism don’t always objectively equal anti-Semitism (14).

None of this stops the propagandists referring to the IHRA definition as the “EU definition” and the “internationally recognised definition” of anti-Semitism. Nor demanding anything that any Jewish person or group labels anti-Semitism be treated as such.

Wreathgate
– Corbyn & the Munich Olympics Murders
And dozens of his critics
& the mass murderers & terrorists
they honoured (and armed)

Next there’s Wreathgate – the outrage over Jeremy Corbyn, as a backbench MP in October 2014, having attended a ceremony honouring dead Palestinians and aimed at reconciling rival and warring Palestinian factions – particularly Hamas and Fatah. Corbyn was there primarily to commemorate the victims of a 1985 Israeli airstrike on the PLO headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia, which killed 47 people, many of them civilians. A wreath was also laid at the graves of two senior PLO officials buried in the same cemetery, who had not taken part in the brutal terrorist murders of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, but were accused of having organised them. They denied these claims, though the website of Fatah (Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas’ party and the largest in the PLO) seems to say they were involved in organising that attack The website is in Arabic though, and so, most likely, was the ceremony (15).

Assuming Corbyn knew the latter were being honoured, and if he knew what they had done, then he could probably be legitimately criticised.

However that would also mean a lot of other politicians from the New Labour wing of the Labour party, the Conservative party and Israeli politicians – including Benjamin Netanyahu – would have to be condemned as much and in some cases a lot more.

For instance then Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw MP  laid a wreath at the funeral of Yasser Arafat in 2004. Arafat was a leader of the PLO and its largest member group Fatah for decades, responsible for many terrorist attacks which over the decades must have killed a significant number of civilians (16).

In June 2014, just a few months before the ceremony Corbyn attended, Tony Blair and then Conservative Foreign Minister Hugh Robertson laid wreaths at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, one of the greatest mass murderers of the entire Israeli Palestinian conflict (17).

 Sharon was a member of the Haganah, the largest of the Zionist militias and terrorist groups that existed before the end of the 1948 war which established the state of Israel. While they mostly avoided terrorist attacks on the British that killed anyone, the Haganah were involved in multiple massacres of Palestinian Arab civilians during that war. For instance in the Abu Shusha Massacre Haganah forces massacred around 70 civilians, raping some of the women first and the Saliha massacre.

As an Israeli military (IDF) officer Sharon personally led and took part in the massacre of the entire population of the Jordanian village of Qibya in 1953.

In 1982 as Israeli Defence Minister he ordered IDF forces to allow far right Christian Lebanese militiamen into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, knowing that they would massacre the thousands of Palestinian civilians who remained in them as PLO fighters left for Tunisia under a ceasefire deal. An Israeli government inquiry – the Kahan Commission – found him personally responsible.

In 2002, as Prime Minister of Israel, Sharon oversaw Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank. Investigations by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty and B’Tselem found that during it Israeli forces targeted civilians and ambulance crews ; bulldozed houses knowing civilians were still inside them; and forced Palestinian civilians to walk ahead of them at gunpoint as human shields. The estimated number killed was around 500 (18) – (22).

Photo: Victims of the Shatila Massacre, Lebanon, 1982

Then there’s Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, who condemned Corbyn’s attendance of the Tunis ceremony. He himself attended a ceremony in 2006 to honour the terrorists who bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946. The bombers were members of the Irgun Zionist terrorist group led by Menachim Begin, who went on to be elected Prime Minister of Israel, invade Lebanon and oversee various war crimes. (23) – (24).

(Medhi Hasan has also pointed out all the actual anti-Semites that Netanyahu is happy to associate with so long as they don’t criticise Israel or his government and military’s actions.)

This ceremony was one of many honouring past Zionist terrorist attacks and celebrations of more recent Israeli settler murders of Palestinian civilians  (25).

Also present was former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzakh Shamir. Netanyahu started his political career as Shamir’s Ambassador to the UN and spokesman to the English speaking foreign media. Shamir had been one of the leaders of the Lehi Zionist terrorist group, who murdered many British soldiers and police and Palestinian civilians during the British Mandate of Palestine. He also personally ordered the assassination of UN envoy Folke Bernadotte, who had saved many Jewish children during the Holocaust (26).

Lehi and the Irgun also committed massacres of civilians during the 1948 war, including the notorious Deir Yassin massacre and the Al Dawayima massacre in which Irgun and Lehi terrorists killed children by breaking their skulls with sticks ; placed old women in houses them blew the houses ; and kept one woman and her baby alive so she could be their cleaning lady. When they were leaving they killed both of them too.

Photo: Yitzakh Shamir

None of this prevented Margaret Thatcher welcoming Menachim Begin to Downing Street in 1979 (27).

Nor has Netanyahu overseeing the killing of 2000 civilians , 550 of them children, in the 2014 Gaza war – in what every human rights group and the UN found to be war crimes, stopped the Conservative government of Theresa May from continuing to welcome him to the UK, or sell his government arms. Nor have all the killings since of mostly unarmed protesters on the Gaza border (28) – (32).

May doesn’t even balk at selling arms and providing RAF military advisers and political support to the Saudi dictatorship, 3 years after Amnesty and Human Rights Watch investigations concluded the Saudi air force in Yemen was deliberately targeting civilians, including schoolchildren in their schools. The recent Saudi airstrike on a school bus , killing 29 children, was among 50 air strikes on civilian vehicles so far this year. (33) – (39).

The fact that the Saudi and Israeli governments are recognised by the UN ; and their forces are regular militaries, is somehow meant to magically make ordering or carrying out the murder of civilians somehow ok. They even magically make acts of terrorism by Zionist terrorist groups before the state of Israel or the Israeli military existed magically become retrospectively fine too.

Irony-Gate Or Zionist-Gate

In 2014 Corbyn made a speech referring to some Zionists who had berated a Palestinian Authority representative who had made a speech in the UK parliament buildings. (See this video from 8.06) Corbyn claimed those people hadn’t understood “English irony…despite living here all their lives”, while the Palestinian did.  This has been much hyped as “anti-Semitism”, despite the fact that Corbyn knows that there are anti-Zionist Jews, since he's shared platforms with lots of them. So claiming he meant Jews when he said Zionists is ludicrous.

If there was any prejudice it was against Zionists not Jews. Many Jews are not Zionists. Many Zionists are not Jews. And "Zionist" is a vague term these days which is used sometimes to mean just "believes Israel has a right to exist" on the one hand (I'm a Zionist myself on that definition) ; and "someone who thinks Israel can do no wrong and should never be criticised" (hard-line Zionists) on the other. It’s likely Corbyn meant the latter as he backs a two state solution. And he's said he no longer uses the term because some actual anti-Semites do use it to mean Jews.

This did not stop Sajid Javid, Stephen Pollard and others making ridiculous comparisons of the “just change Zionists to Jews/ blacks/ whatever in this sentence to see how racist it is” variety.


Crying Wolf for Ulterior Motives –
In a political dispute with Jews
and Non-Jews on Both Sides

The worst thing about the propaganda campaign against Corbyn is that so many people are repeatedly crying wolf on anti-Semitism for ulterior and political motives. These include members of the ‘New Labour’ faction of the Labour party, who are hostile to Corbyn and the left of the Labour party both because he publicly embarrassed them by being right on opposing and voting against the Iraq war, PFIs and the deregulation that led to the banking crisis, when they supported all three. And because as Labour leader he stated in parliament that the war had been wrong and apologised for the past Labour government backing it. Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson MP (New labour to the core) even told party members to stop criticising Blair and Brown’s record in government because it was damaging “our brand”. As if apologising for involvement in an unnecessary war that led to many people killed for nothing was like making mistakes in how you’re advertising Adidas trainers (40) – (41).

After Corbyn was re-elected Labour leader in a second leadership election, Watson openly said the party should scrap One Member One Vote and return to the ‘Electoral College’ in which a few hundred Labour MPs and a few dozen trade union leaders each got a third of the votes in any leadership election, relegating the majority of party members to almost bystanders (42).

The propaganda campaign on anti-Semitism as aimed partly at influencing the election of members to the ruling body of the party – the National Executive Committee – with voting taking place throughout August.

The Conservative party have an obvious motive to want to lose the Labour party votes, so May’s government were quick to adopt the IHRA definition within months of Corbyn being elected Labour leader (43).

The third group (overlapping with the other two) are people who are very pro-Israel to the point of seeing any severe criticism of any action of the Israeli government or military as “biased” and/or “anti-Semitic”. These include Labour Friends of Israel, Conservative Friends of Israel , the Jewish Leadership Council (or at least some of the largest groups within it) ; and the editors of three Jewish newspapers which ran ludicrous headlines on a Labour government on Corbyn posing an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country” (44).

The President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews clearly thought those newspapers were holding back far too much, telling an Israeli TV news station that Corbyn has “declared war on the Jews” and was “a security threat to the entire world” (45).

The Jewish Leadership Council – an umbrella group which includes the Board of Deputies, also includes BICOM – the British Israeli Communications and Research Centre whose stated aims include  “to support a close relationship between Britain and Israel”. Other member groups include the “Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland” – motto “For Israel” , the Zionist Youth League and the UIJA whose aims include “strengthening Jewish identity and a connection to Israel” and “encourage children to explore Judaism and Zionism and experience the wonders and challenges of the Jewish state”. So these groups would have every motive to try to conflate prejudice against Jewish with criticism of Israel.

The aim is pretty clear. To prevent any serious criticism of the Israeli government or military or their actions, by redefining it as anti-Semitism.

While pro-Israel Jewish groups are keen to present the dispute as one between “the Jewish community” and anti-Semites, in reality the pro-Israel groups are representative more of Jews and non -Jews who are very pro-Israel and very anti-Palestinian, with Jews and non-Jews on both sides of the dispute.

Despite their claims many British Jews got no vote in electing the Board of Deputies and many disagree with them, and agree with Corbyn and Labour on the IHRA definition needing modified to allow free speech on Israel. Among the better known are the Jewish Voice for Labour group,  author and Corbyn supporter Michael Rosen , the Free Speech on Israel group and comedian David Baddiel (although he is not generally a fan of Corbyn’s). Forty Jewish groups from around the world have also issued a joint statement saying that calling Israel racist is not anti-Semitism (46).

British Zionist Jewish groups are trying to tell the same story that Israel tells. Israeli governments paint their country as a tiny, weak isolated, state, surrounded by enemies and at risk of being destroyed at any moment. In reality they have probably the strongest and certainly the most technologically advance military in the Middle East, a nuclear deterrent ;  and the world’s only superpower, the US, as an ally – plus the whole of NATO.

British Zionist Jewish groups are painting themselves as a small isolated, threatened community, under constant attack and threat by a host of anti-Semites. In fact as Norman Finkelstein has pointed out, even many of the same people admit that in fact both Jews and Zionists have massive influence and plenty of representatives and allies (including by Jewish MPs) in parliament and the media. And as the IJPR study showed, under 10% of the population of the UK hold anti-Semitic views, with the majority condemning them utterly, with other minorities facing far more prejudice.

There is no group that speaks for all British Jews or all Jewish people around the world and is unbiased.  The IHRA definition is not an uncontested “universally” or “internationally” agreed definition of anti-Semitism, but a highly politicised one denounced even by its own drafter.

Any member of Labour’s NEC who votes to adopt the full IHRA definition should be aware that it is being used not a neutral definition but a politically motivated bear trap with which to destroy Corbyn, the left of the Labour party and any serious critic of Israeli government or military actions. Anyone who does not share that agenda and supports it is a turkey voting for Christmas.

 

Sources

(1) = BBC Radio 4 World at One 16 Jul 2016 ‘Naz Shah: My words were anti-Semitic’, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-36802075

(2) = www.independent.co.uk 04 May 2016 ‘Jewish author whose Israel ‘relocation’ map was shared by Naz Shah condemns ‘obscene’ Labour antisemitism row’, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-antisemitism-row-naz-shah-israel-map-norman-finkelstein-obscene-a7012461.html

(3) = Jewish News 15 Nov 2017 ‘Labour bars candidate who said ‘Jews have reaped the rewards of playing victims’ http://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/labour-bars-candidate-who-said-jews-have-reaped-the-rewards-of-playing-victims/

(4) = Institute for Jewish Policy Research 12 Sep 2017 ‘Antisemitism in contemporary Great Britain: Key findings from the JPR survey of attitudes towards Jews and Israel’, by Daniel Staetsky , http://www.jpr.org.uk/publication?id=9993 OR http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2017.Antisemitism_in_contemporary_Great_Britain.pdf

(5) =  www.theguardian.com 26 Sep 2017 ‘Labour fringe speaker’s Holocaust remarks spark new antisemitism row’, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/sep/26/new-antisemitism-row-for-labour-over-fringe-speakers-holocaust-remarks-miko-peled

(6) = House of Commons 13 Oct 2016 ‘Home Affairs Committee, Antisemitism in the UK,  Tenth Report of Session 2016–17’,  https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/inquiry2/
OR
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/136/136.pdf

(7) = Sky News 01 Aug 2018 ‘Jeremy Corbyn 'sorry' over chairing event with anti-Israel speaker’, https://news.sky.com/story/jeremy-corbyn-sorry-for-sharing-conference-platform-with-anti-zionist-speaker-11455926

(8) = Times Of Israel 05 Dec 2013 ‘EU drops its ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism’, https://www.timesofisrael.com/eu-drops-its-working-definition-of-anti-semitism/

(9) = www.independent.co.uk 18 Jul 2018 ‘Labour has rejected the EU’s definition of antisemitism. This is morally wrong – and politically foolish’, by Denis MacShane;  https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/labour-antisemitism-eu-definition-jeremy-corbyn-margaret-hodge-woodcock-a8452436.html

(10) = WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF KENNETH S. STERN Executive Director, Justus & Karin Rosenberg Foundation Before the UNITES STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY November 7, 2017 Hearing on Examining Anti-Semitism on College Campuses, https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/20http://www.startribune.com/trump-says-wh-lawyer-mcgahn-isn-t-a-john-dean-type-rat/491208211/17/10/Stern-Testimony-11.07.17.pdf

(11) = www.timesofisrael.com 27 Feb 2017 ‘Britain’s oldest MP, Jewish and vociferously anti-Israel, dies aged 86’, https://www.timesofisrael.com/britains-oldest-mp-jewish-and-vociferously-anti-israel-dies-aged-86/

(12) = Haaretz (Israel) 17 Jun 2014 ‘Desmond Tutu: U.S. Christians Must Recognize Israel as Apartheid State’, https://www.haaretz.com/tutu-israel-is-apartheid-state-1.5252256

(13) = OpenDemocracy 17 Jul 2018 ‘The Code of Conduct for Antisemitism: a tale of two texts’,
https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brian-klug/code-of-conduct-for-antisemitism-tale-of-two-texts

(14) = CST Jan 2009 ‘ Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2009’, https://cst.org.uk/docs/Antisemitic%20Discourse%20Report%20for%202009%20-%20web1.pdf ; see page 12

(15) = www.independent.co.uk 18 Aug 2018 ‚‘ Leading Palestinian group casts doubt on Labour claims about Jeremy Corbyn wreath-laying ceremony’, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-wreath-laying-palestine-israel-munich-massacre-bury-labour-party-a8496471.html

(16) = Telegraph 25 Nov 2004 ‘Straw lays wreath at Arafat's grave’, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1477480/Straw-lays-wreath-at-Arafats-grave.html

(17) = www.theguardian.com 13 Jun 2014 ‘Ariel Sharon's memorial service and funeral – as it happened’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/middle-east-live/2014/jan/13/ariel-sharons-funeral-live-updates

(18) = BBC News 18 Apr 2002 ‘Jenin 'massacre evidence growing'’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1937048.stm

(19) = Amnesty International 2002 ‘Israel and the Occupied Territories
Shielded from scrutiny: IDF violations in Jenin and Nablus’,
https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/120000/mde151492002en.pdf

(20) = Human Rights Watch May 2002 ‘Jenin: IDF Military Operations’,
https://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/israel3/

(21) = B’Tselem 2002 ‘OPERATION DEFENSIVE SHIELD
Palestinian Testimonies , Soldiers’ Testimonies’,
https://www.btselem.org/download/200207_defensive_shield_eng.pdf

(22) = B’Tselem Mar 2002 ‘Impeding Medical Treatment and Firing at Ambulances
by IDF Soldiers in the Occupied Territories’,
https://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20020314

(23) = Jerusalem Post 13 Aug 2018 ‘Netanyahu condemns Corbyn's homage to Munich Massacre’,  https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Netanyahu-condemns-Corbyns-homage-to-Munich-Massacre-564755

(24) = Jerusalem Post 22 Jul 2011 ‘This Week in History: The King David Hotel bombing’,
https://www.jpost.com/Features/In-Thespotlight/This-Week-in-History-The-King-David-Hotel-bombing

(25) = Haarezt 26 Jun 2018 ‘Zionism's Terrorist Heritage’, https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-zionism-s-terrorist-heritage-1.6217633

(26) = LA Times (Los angeles, US) 25 Mar 2010 ‘Israel glorifies its own murderers’, http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/25/opinion/la-oew-hazou26-2010mar26

(27) = Jewish News 20 Jul 2017 ‘How Thatcher kept Israel’s political leaders smiling’, https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/how-thatcher-kept-israels-political-leaders-smiling/

(28) = Human Rights Watch World Report 2015: Israel/Palestine - Events of 2014,
https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/israel/palestine

(29) = Amnesty International World Report 2014/15 – see p 197 Israel & occupied territorieshttps://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/POL1000012015ENGLISH.PDF

(30) = Observer 27 May 2018 ‘British arms exports to Israel reach record level’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/27/british-arms-exports-israel-new-record

(31) = Human Rights Watch 02 July 2018 ‘Gaza Killings, Unabated Settlement Activity Underscore Need for International Accountability, Action’, https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/07/02/gaza-killings-unabated-settlement-activity-underscore-need-international

(32) = Amnesty International 14 May 2018 ‘Israel/OPT: Use of excessive force in Gaza an abhorrent violation of international law’, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/05/israelopt-use-of-excessive-force-in-gaza-an-abhorrent-violation-of-international-law/

(33) = BBC News 11 Dec 2015 ‘Yemen crisis: Saudi-led coalition 'targeting' schools’,
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-35071200

(34) = Human Rights Watch 12 Sep 2017 ‘Yemen: Coalition Airstrikes Deadly for Children’,
https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/12/yemen-coalition-airstrikes-deadly-children

(35) = Human Rights Watch 2018 – Yemen , https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/yemen

(36) = Amnesty International Sep 2015 ‘Yemen: The forgotten war’, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/09/yemen-the-forgotten-war/

(37) = www.theguardian.com 16 Sep 2016 One in three Saudi air raids on Yemen hit civilian sites, data shows’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/16/third-of-saudi-airstrikes-on-yemen-have-hit-civilian-sites-data-shows

(38) = www.theguardian.com 16 Aug 2018 ‘Yemen school bus bombing 'one of 50 strikes on civilian vehicles this year'’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/16/yemen-school-bus-bombing-one-of-50-strikes-on-civilian-vehicles-this-year

(39) = www.theguardian.com 23 Jun 2018 ‘UK ‘hides extent of arms sales to Saudi Arabia’’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/23/uk-hides-arms-trade-saudi-arabia--yemen

(40) = www.independent.co.uk 06 Jul 2016 ‘Jeremy Corbyn apologises on behalf of Labour for ‘disastrous decision’ to join Iraq War’,  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-chilcot-report-iraq-war-inquiry-apology-tony-blair-labour-party-a7123461.html

(41) = The Spectator 27 Sep 2016 ‘Full speech: Tom Watson at Labour party conference’,
https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/09/full-speech-tom-watson-labour-party-conference/

 (42) = www.theguardian.com 09 Aug 2016 ‘‘I want to hug him but also shout at him’: Tom Watson on Jeremy Corbyn and Labour rifts’ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/aug/09/tom-watson-interview-jeremy-corbyn-labour-rifts-hug-shout ; 13th paragraph, 1st sentence ‘Watson wants to reverse Ed Miliband’s “terrible error of judgment” and reinstate the old electoral college system, which accorded one-third of the votes in a leadership election to the PLP and a third each to the unions and the members.’

(43) = www.theguardian.com 12 Dec 2016 ‘UK adopts antisemitism definition to combat hate crime against Jews’, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/12/antisemitism-definition-government-combat-hate-crime-jews-israel

(44) = www.independent.co.uk 26 Jul 2018 ‘Corbyn government would pose an 'existential threat to Jewish life', say three major Jewish newspapers’, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-jewish-labour-government-antisemitism-newspapers-chronicle-ihra-definition-a8464311.html

(45) = Jewish News 23 Aug 2018 ‘Board president: It’s like Corbyn has ‘declared war on the Jews’’,  https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/corbyn-has-declared-war-on-the-jews-board-president-tells-israeli-tv/

(46) = 22 Jul 2018 ‘As Jews, we reject the myth that it's antisemitic to call Israel racist’, 
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/antisemitisim-jews-israel-labour-party-bds-jewish-coalition-palestine-a8458601.html

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What's really going on in Burma / Myanmar? And what can be done about it?

What’s really going on with the Rohingya in Burma / Myanmar Rakhine State? –
and what can be done about it?

For 4 to 5 years now, after initial attacks by Rohinyga Muslims on Rakhine Buddhists and vice-versa in Rakhine state in 2012, a campaign of massacres and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority has been going on in Burma (or Myanmar as military regimes renamed the country) carried out by mobs and militias of Rakhine Buddhists, the Buddhist nationalist military and the police (1) – (3).

There is also a relatively small and very poorly armed insurgency by Rohingya militants going on in Rakhine state (known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Movement (ARSA), or Haraka Al Yakin (Movement Of Faith) in Arabic) which may have committed some crimes of its own against civilians (4) – (5).

But the evidence suggests the insurgency is more the result of the decades long history of ethnic cleansing and denial of basic rights to Burmese Rohingya, by the Burmese military,  than the cause of the conflict. And profit for the military from seizure of land in “special economic zones” is also involved (6).

An extreme faction of the Burmese military (or ‘tatmadaw’) seized power in the 1960s and purged all officers who were not of the majority Bamar ethnic group. Since then the tatmadaw has committed war crimes against civilians of many other minority groups who are not Muslim, all of who have also had armed militant groups who fight back including very recently (7) - (12). 

In any case insurgency cannot justify indiscriminate ethnic cleansing, rape and massacres of civilians.

How real is democratisation in Myanmar?
Can there be democratisation by a government
carrying out ethnic cleansing and massacres and denying citizenship based on religion?

The argument made by Aung San Suu Kyi and the first elected government of Myanmar is that we must not risk upsetting a fragile transition to democracy from military rule. (13).

Yet  Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s civilian government are denying and apologising for genocide, based on the same Buddhist nationalism and oppression of minorities as military regimes before them.

Burmese Muslims who had backed Aung San Suu Kyi – and even been injured defending her, weren’t even allowed to vote in the 2015 elections that brought Suu Kyi’s National League For Democracy (NLD) party to power, as they were not recognised as citizens. The NLD  and ASSK herself said nothing (14).

Even Nyan Win, a senior NLD spokesperson wants all Rohingya moved into refugee camps claiming “We can’t give them freedom of movement because they are not our citizens.” (15)

Suu Kyi herself denies ethnic cleansing of Rohingya is happening and dismisses all reports of rapes and atrocities by the military and police as “fake news” (16) – (18).

Buddhist nationalists including NLD supporters routinely protest not against the ethnic cleansing, but criticism of it, with slogans claiming Rohingya are not Burmese (19).

Far from providing more freedom of speech, the new government has prosecuted more people just for criticising the government than the military dominated SLORC government that preceded it, using a vague law against “defamation” to jail people for up to 3 years (20).

And even if the NLD government weren’t going along with ethnic cleansing, it has no actual control over the military, nor over the civil service, both of which are controlled by ministries reserved for the military under a constitution written by them , and passed in a referendum widely seen as rigged (21).

No country can be a democracy or in transition to democracy while its military and police allow, let alone take part in, genocide against its own people. Myanmar is not a democracy as long as ethnic cleansing of Rohingya, and denial of their rights as equal citizens continues.

While the Burmese security forces have a right to defend themselves and their people, so do the Rohingya community when their own government, military and police carry out massacres and ethnic cleansing against them.

The propaganda lines and exaggerated theories that facilitate genocide

The genocide is also facilitated by four propaganda stories. First that Rohingya are all “illegal Bengali immigrants” from Bangladesh, as General Min Aung Hlaing, the most powerful man in the country, puts it. Second that Rohingya are the only ones responsible for starting violence and human rights abuses (22).

Third that the violence is all carried out by Rohingya Muslim or “Bengali terrorists” , or even an Islamist terrorist insurgency backed by Saudi and Pakistan (according to the Myanmar military and government and some blog posts) , or even involving Islamic State.  This is supposedly aimed at disrupting a Chinese oil and gas import pipeline for Middle East oil which goes to Made Island in Rakhine State in Burma (which does exist), or alternatively at depopulating the area to safeguard the pipeline (23) – (26).

Fourth that “there is no evidence” of massacres or ethnic cleansing by the military.

The first and fourth stories are false. The second and third stories may have truth in them, but the evidence suggests no significant Saudi or other state sponsors of ARSA – and that the long history of oppression and ethnic cleansing against Rohingya is the main cause of the violence.

Rohingya are not illegal immigrants – they are Burmese

While some Rohingya were brought to Rakhine state by the British from Bangladesh during colonial rule, there were many living there since medieval times. And even those who came under the British Empire have now lived in the country for generations. So it’s like claiming all British Catholics are “illegal Irish migrants” because many of them are descendants of Irish immigrants.

While there have been some Rohingya living in Bangladesh for centuries, and some Burmese Rohingya became refugees there due to previous ethnic cleansing operations by Burma’s military (like the 1978 ‘Operation King Dragon’), there have been Rohingya living in Burma for centuries and possibly over a millennium (27).

The Violence is not all carried out by Rohingya / “Bengali immigrants”/ “terrorists”

The Myanmar military story that “Muslim terrorists” or villagers were burning Rohingya villages has been proven false by BBC journalists (28) – (29).

There is evidence of Rohingya mobs (possibly ARSA) having killed Hindu civilians in Rakhine (bodies in mass graves backed by testimony of survivors in Bangladesh), but also a report of some Hindu men having been killed by the military for refusing to kill their Rohingya neighbours (30) – (31).

There are also some reports of Rohingya Muslims forcing non-Muslim Rohingyas to convert to Islam in refugee camps in Bangaldesh, and allegations of attacks by each side on one anothers’ mosques, along with temples and shrines in Rakhine (32) – (34).

There were certainly attacks by both Muslim mobs on Buddhist civilians and vice-versa in 2012 , though which attacked which first is disputed, and a bit irrelevant, since everyone of either community cannot be held responsible for the crimes of some of them (35).

The authorities in Myanmar did at first make some attempts to jail both Buddhist and Muslim members of mobs who had murdered civilians, though police were filmed doing nothing while Buddhist mobs murdered Muslims in some cases (36).

There have also been some reports this year in the Burmese media of Rakhine Buddhist men killed by mobs of Rohingya armed with swords. If true this could be ARSA, but the harsh censorship of Myanmar’s media and widespread Buddhist fundamentalism, along with the military routinely arming Buddhists as militia make it harder to know if the victims were civilians or not (37) – (39) .

It’s possible that ARSA could have been involved in the initial violence in 2012, though it claims to have only formed as a result of that violence, and that it does not target civilians – and the International Crisis Group believes this is true (40).

The violence that began in 2012 has echoes of similar atrocities committed by both sides during World War Two when Rakhine Buddhists were armed as militias by the Japanese and Rohingya Muslims by the British. In both cases the Burmese government and historians claim armed Rohingya began the violence with massacres of Buddhist villages. What’s certain is both sides killed one another’s civilians in large numbers.

(Rakhine Buddhists, themselves an ethnic minority, see themselves as the victims just as much as Rohingya do.)

And today the commander of the tatmadaw – General Min Aung Hlaing, who likely has far more power than Aug San Suu Kyi, has called the Rohingya “unfinished business from World War Two” (41).

And that is the problem now. The military and police and militias organised by them are carrying out “clearance operations” against Rohingya in hundreds of villages that involve rape, burning houses and killing of suspected militants and civilians alike, sometimes including women and children (42). Exactly as they have to Muslims in Myanmar before, and any other ethnic or religious group that has opposed them or fought back against their oppression in any way.

ARSA is probably not armed and funded by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia

ARSA’s lack of modern weapons strongly suggests they have no state backers. For instance Rohingya militants had only swords , spears and a few 19th century pistols in their first attacks on police stations , while Saudi financed and armed Syrian rebel groups have automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade launchers (43) – (44). 

Smuggling weapons into Myanmar is commonplace, including by ethnic minority armed groups, so if ARSA had state funding, they would at least have automatic weapons (45) – (47)

Myanmar’s police are armed, often with automatic weapons, and many have taken part in massacres and rapes of civilians (48).

ARSA also has an Arabic name Harakat Al Yakin or Movement of Faith, which suggests religious ideology, though it’s stated aims are not religious but to protect and secure equal rights for Rohingya .

ARSA is led by Rohingya exiles based in Saudi Arabia, so it’s possible the Saudi and Pakistani governments gave them military training, as some Burmese media reports claim;  but it’s equally possible they got training by fighting for other armed groups in other countries, or serving in militaries (as e.g IRA members sometimes joined the British military to get training) (49).

There has been one report in the Burmese ‘Mizzima’ newspaper of claims that Pakistan’s military intelligence (Inter-Services Intelligence Agency or ISI) ordered the ARSA attacks on police stations in August, and that an Islamic State member contacted the group to give a statement of support (50).

This has fed theories that Pakistan’s military has been training Rohingya exiles for decades while Saudi madrassas and mosques indoctrinate them .

While the Saudis do fund Wahabbi madrassas and mosques worldwide, including in Bangladesh, and some Rohingya exiles do live there, and others in Pakistan, whose military promoted Islamic fundamentalism from General Zia Ul Haq’s dictatorship in the 1970s to present, this is pretty thin evidence for this theory.

There’s no evidence of Islamic State involvement either , despite hyped up headlines and dubious quotes of Islamic State members introducing themselves as “al Amin of Daesh” (a derogatory term for IS which no IS member would ever use) (51).

Even if all of three propaganda stories had been true though couldn’t justify the massacre and ethnic cleansing of hundreds of villages of Rohingya civilians, nor mass rape.

The “There’s no evidence” story is false

Another favourite line of Rohingya genocide deniers is that there is no evidence of massacres by the military or police. No photos of it. No video.

There’s a very obvious explanation for this. The Burmese government and military have denied UN and human rights group investigators visas to travel to Burma to investigate human rights abuses during the military’s “clearance operations”, and refused to allow aid agencies access too. Independent journalists are banned from entering areas where the military are currently carrying out offensives. They can only go where and when Burmese military minders allow them to (52) – (54).

What would be the need for this secrecy if the Burmese military and police were committing no crimes and any killings of civilians or burning of villages was carried out by Rohingya terrorists? There would be no need for it.

Another reason is that only one third of the country has any access to electricity – so no recharging mobile phones for Rohingya villagers even if they could afford one, which with poverty rates well over 70% (and that’s defining poverty as earning under $1.90 a day), most of them can’t (55) – (56).

But from satellite images, the statements of senior members of Myanmar’s military,  interviews with survivors of attacks on villages who have fled to Bangladesh, and what journalists have seen in the distance, there is a clear picture of the usual human rights abuses against minorities by the Burmese security forces (57).

 

The Economic Motives for Engagement
– and for Ethnic Cleansing
–and the military’s stranglehold on
public spending and private companies

Photo: A plantation owned by the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited – one of the
conglomerates owned by the Burmese military

Engagement by the governments of democracies with Myanmar is as much about  buying influence to secure deals to export to the country – and import raw materials, from it, as well as rivalry between major powers for military alliances with Myanmar,  as “promoting democracy” (58) – (60).

The economic and legal changes that have taken place as a result of government reforms and the lifting of many economic sanctions since 2010 have reduced corruption and poverty, but corruption remains a severe problem, as does poverty, especially among ethnic minorities. And corruption investigations of senior members of the military and their associates often go nowhere (61) – (64). 

The UN Human Development Programme found in 2014 that over a third of the population are in poverty – and 78% of the population of Rakhine state. Yet military spending continues to rise , is (officially) 14% of annual public spending, and the 2011 constitution allows the Commander In Chief of the Military (General Min Aung Hlaing) to draw unlimited additional funds for military spending without notifying parliament. The law even bans anyone from asking questions about this spending (65) – (67).

The military also controls two of the largest companies in Myanmar and is heavily involved in smuggling jade, which if exported legally, would be worth billions in revenue (68).

Special Economic Zones begun under then President (and former General) Thein Sein in 2010 make it legal to forcibly relocate people and take their land with token compensation within them. They have been continued by the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party since 2015. One of these Zones is planned around the town of Maungdaw in Rakhine state (69) – (70).

Combine this with then President Thein Sein’s proposal in 2012 to permanently deport Rohingya from Rakhine state to other areas or countries, and it seems more likely it’s Myanmar’s government and military who have the depopulation plan , not the Saudis or Pakistanis (71).

The military regularly profits by handing land taken from ethnic minorities to companies owned by the military,  former officers or corrupt politicians , for instance by starting private plantations (72).

So the military has continued to profit from ethnic cleansing and massacre of minorities, including Rohingya, all through the democratisation process, making it not worthy of the name.

How could this be ended?

Sanctions on arms sales and targeted sanctions on individuals are not enough when genocide is being committed. Wider trade sanctions and military action must be considered unless the ethnic cleansing is stopped immediately, aid agencies and UN and human rights group monitors and investigators are given unrestricted access to Rakhine state, all refugees are allowed to return, Burmese Rohingya are recognised as equal citizens of Myanmar, and granted full rights in practice.

Negotiations between leaders of the government of Myanmar and military, and leaders of ARSA, as well as representatives of the Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhist communities should also begin under mediation by the UN.

If this is not done rapidly sanctions and then warnings of possible military action should follow.

Military action would involve serious risks, as China and Russia are both closely allied to Myanmar as its main arms suppliers (and in China’s case main foreign investor) – and Myanmar’s military is well armed for a minor power (73) – (74).

China has vocally supported the ethnic cleansing while Russia says there must be no interference in “Myanmar’s internal affairs”. (75) – (76).

But massacres and ethnic cleansing that have been going on for decades cannot be ignored – and such risks were run in Kosovo without war between major powers resulting.

Sources

(1) = BBC News 03 Jul 2014 ‘Why is there communal violence in Myanmar?’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18395788

(2) = Amnesty 14 Sep 2017 ‘Myanmar: Scorched-earth campaign fuels ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Rakhine State’, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/09/myanmar-scorched-earth-campaign-fuels-ethnic-cleansing-of-rohingya-from-rakhine-state/

(3) = Human Rights Watch 22 April 2013 ‘“All You Can Do is Pray” Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State’, https://www.hrw.org/report/2013/04/22/all-you-can-do-pray/crimes-against-humanity-and-ethnic-cleansing-rohingya-muslims

(4) = BBC News 06 Sep 2017 ‘Myanmar: Who are the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army?’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41160679

(5) = International Crisis Group 15 Dec 2016 ‘’ Myanmar: A New Muslim Insurgency in Rakhine State,  https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-east-asia/myanmar/283-myanmar-new-muslim-insurgency-rakhine-state

(6) = Middle East Institute 20 Apr 2017 ‘An Evolution of Rohingya Persecution in Myanmar: From Strategic Embrace to Genocide’ ,  By Alice Cowley and Maung Zarni ,
https://www.mei.edu/content/evolution-rohingya-persecution-myanmar-strategic-embrace-genocide

(7) = See (6) above

(8) = Human Rights Watch World Report 2017, ‘Burma, Ethnic Conflict and Armed Forces Abuses’, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/burma

(9) = Amnesty 14 Jun 2017 ‘Myanmar: Ethnic minorities face range of violations including war crimes in northern conflict’,  https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/06/myanmar-ethnic-minorities-face-violations-in-northern-conflict/

(10) = Human Rights Watch 2012 ‘“UNTOLD MISERIES” Wartime Abuses and Forced Displacement in Kachin State’, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/burma0312ForUpload_1.pdf

(11) = Amnesty 14 Jun 2017 ‘Myanmar: Ethnic minorities face range of violations including war crimes in northern conflict’,  https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/06/myanmar-ethnic-minorities-face-violations-in-northern-conflict/

(12) = NPR 13 Oct 2013 ‘For Myanmar's Kachin Rebels, Life Teeters Between War, Peace’, http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2013/10/13/232241698/for-myanmars-kachin-rebels-life-teeters-between-war-peace

(13) = Al Jazeera 19 Sep 2017 ‘Aung San Suu Kyi's speech in full: ‘We condemn all human rights violations'’, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJkg2_72uUo

(14) = www.theguardian.com 03 Nov 2015 ‘No vote, no candidates: Myanmar's Muslims barred from their own election’,  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/03/no-vote-no-candidates-myanmars-muslims-barred-from-their-own-election

(15) = Reuters 14 Sep 2017 ‘In a first, Myanmar's 'ethnic cleansing' unites Suu Kyi's party, army and public’,  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-suukyi/in-a-first-myanmars-ethnic-cleansing-unites-suu-kyis-party-army-and-public-idUSKCN1BP205

(16) = Guardian 05 Apr 2017 ‘Aung San Suu Kyi denies ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’,  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/05/myanmar-aung-san-suu-kyi-ethnic-cleansing

(17) = BBC News 11 Mar 2017 ‘Hounded and ridiculed for complaining of rape’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-39204086

(18) = www.independent.co.uk 06 Sep 2017 ‘Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi says 'fake news' fuelling Rohingya crisis’,  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/burma-rohingya-latest-aung-san-suu-kyi-fake-news-fuelling-crisis-minority-muslims-violence-exodus-a7931886.html

(19) = www.independent.co.uk 01 Dec 2016 ‘In pictures: Burma protests against Rohingya Muslims’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/burma-rohingya-muslims-whats-behind-persecution-aung-san-suu-kyi-a7449126.html#gallery

(20) = HRW 24 Jan 2017 ‘Burma: Don’t Prosecute Peaceful Speech’, https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/24/burma-dont-prosecute-peaceful-speech

(21) = CNN 12 Nov 2015 ‘Can Aung San Suu Kyi control Myanmar's military?’,
http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/12/opinions/myanmar-aung-san-suu-kyi-military/index.html

(22) = Radio Free Asia 23 Mar 2017 ‘Myanmar Military Chief Defends Crackdown Against Rohingya in Rakhine State’, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/myanmar-military-chief-defends-crackdown-against-rohingya-in-rakhine-state-03272017154143.html

(23) = www.theguardian.com 25 Aug 2017 ‘Dozens killed in fighting between Myanmar army and Rohingya militants’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/25/rohingya-militants-blamed-as-attack-on-myanmar-border-kills-12

(24) = Mizzima News (Myanmar) 05 Sep 2017 ‘Pakistan, ISIS allegedly behind Rakhine imbroglio’, http://www.mizzima.com/news-regional/pakistan-isis-allegedly-behind-rakhine-imbroglio

(25) = Bloomberg 11 Apr 2017 ‘China Opens Delayed Myanmar Oil Pipeline to Get Mideast Crude Faster’, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-11/china-opens-delayed-myanmar-oil-link-to-get-mideast-crude-faster

(26) = FT.com April 11 2017 ‘China and Myanmar open long-delayed oil pipeline’,
https://www.ft.com/content/21d5f650-1e6a-11e7-a454-ab04428977f9

(27) = Personal Testimony delivered by U Ba Sein, a former Rohingya civil servant – now a refugee in London, UK - who lived through this King Dragon Operation in N. Rakhine, Permanent People’s Tribunal on Myanmar, Queen Mary University of London. March 6-7, 2017, accessed April 3, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9Q11ZhC8qI (Ba Sein’s testimony begins at 7:55 minutes).

(28) = BBC News 10 Sep 2017 ‘Who is burning down Rohingya villages?’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-41219840/who-is-burning-down-rohingya-villages

(29) = BBC News 11 Sep 2017 ‘Rohingya crisis: Seeing through the official story in Myanmar’,  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41222210

(30) = BBC news 25 Sep 2017 ‘'Mass Hindu grave' found in Myanmar's Rakhine state’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41384457

(31) = New Age (Bangladesh) 27 Sep 2017 ‘Hindus lay down lives for Muslims in Myanmar’, http://www.newagebd.net/article/23064/hindus-lay-down-lives-for-muslims-in-myanmar

(32) = www.dailymail.co.uk 26 Sep 2017 ‘'They were killed in a row. Only eight women, young and beautiful, were allowed to live': Hindu Rohingya reveal how Muslim majority force them to convert or die in refugee camps’, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4921426/Hindu-Rohingya-say-Muslim-majority-force-convert.html

(33) = www.theguardian.com 11 Jul 2013 ‘Burma jails 25 Buddhists for mob killings of 36 Muslims in Meikhtila’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/11/burma-buddhists-jailed-mob-attacks

(34) = www.dw.com (Germany) 12 Oct 2012 ‘New 'retaliatory' attacks on Myanmar's Rohingyas’, http://www.dw.com/en/new-retaliatory-attacks-on-myanmars-rohingyas/a-16303400

(35) = See (1) above

(36) = See (33) above

(37) = The Irrawady (Burma) 30 Aug 2017 ‘Mob Kills Four Arakanese Amid Ongoing Rakhine Violence’, https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/mob-kills-four-arakanese-amid-ongoing-rakhine-violence.html

(38) = CPJ 05 Jun 2017 ‘Myanmar: One year under Suu Kyi, press freedom lags behind democratic progress’,  https://cpj.org/blog/2017/06/myanmar-one-year-under-suu-kyi-press-freedom-lags-.php

(39) = International Crisis Group 15 Dec 2016 ‘’ Myanmar: A New Muslim Insurgency in Rakhine State,  https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-east-asia/myanmar/283-myanmar-new-muslim-insurgency-rakhine-state

(40) = See (39) above

(41) = Dhaka Tribune 03 Sep 2017 ‘Myanmar army: Clearing of Rohingya is ‘unfinished business’’, http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/south-asia/2017/09/03/myanmar-army-clearing-rohingya-unfinished-business/

 

(42) = UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 03 Feb 2017 ‘’ Devastating cruelty against Rohingya children, women and men detailed in UN human rights report, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21142

(43) = BBC News 06 Sep 2017 ‘Myanmar: Who are the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army?’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41160679

(44) = BBC News 14 Jun 2013 ‘Who is supplying weapons to the warring sides in Syria?’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22906965 (scroll down to ‘Saudi Arabia’ subheading)

(45) = Anshuman Behera (2017) ‘Insurgency, Drugs and Small Arms in Myanmar’,  Strategic Analysis, Volume 41, 2017 - Issue 1 , http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09700161.2016.1249176

(46) = Assam Tribune 15 May 2016 ‘Militants smuggling in weapons through Myanmar border’, http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=may1616/at053

(47) = Times of India 08 Dec 2011 ‘North-east rebels using 'smugglers' in China, Myanmar to buy arms’, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/North-east-rebels-using-amp39smugglersamp39-in-China-Myanmar-to-buy-arms/articleshow/11025911.cms?

(48) = See (2) and (3) and (42) above

(49) = See (39) above

(50) = Mizzima News (Myanmar) 05 Sep 2017 ‘Pakistan, ISIS allegedly behind Rakhine imbroglio’, http://www.mizzima.com/news-regional/pakistan-isis-allegedly-behind-rakhine-imbroglio

(51) = See (50) above

(52) = www.theguardian.com  30 Jun 2017 ‘Myanmar refuses visas to UN team investigating abuse of Rohingya Muslims’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/30/myanmar-refuses-visas-un-abuse-rohingya-muslims

(53) = www.theguardian.com 04 Sep 2017 ‘Myanmar blocks all UN aid to civilians at heart of Rohingya crisis’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/04/myanmar-blocks-all-un-aid-to-civilians-at-heart-of-rohingya-crisis

(54) = Human Rights Watch 17 Nov 2016 ‘Burma: Allow Access to Investigate Abuses in Rakhine State’, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/11/17/burma-allow-access-investigate-abuses-rakhine-state

(55) = International Institute for Energy and Development 10 May 2016 ‘Energy poverty in Myanmar: only 34% of the population have grid quality electricity’, https://www.iied.org/energy-poverty-myanmar-only-34-population-have-grid-quality-electricity

(56) = UNDP (2014) ‘About Myanmar’, http://www.mm.undp.org/content/myanmar/en/home/countryinfo.html

(57) = See (2) and (3), (41) and (42) above

 

 

(58) = Telegraph 12 Jul 2012 ‘UK opens trade office as Western firms eye Burma riches’
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/burmamyanmar/9395985/UK-opens-trade-office-as-Western-firms-eye-Burma-riches.html

(59) = Reuters 08 Jul 2012 ‘Booming Southeast Asia in a quandary over U.S.-China rivalry’,  http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-usa-asean/booming-southeast-asia-in-a-quandary-over-u-s-china-rivalry-idUSBRE86702420120708

(60) = Stimson Center / Yun Sun 10 Jun 2014 ‘Issue Brief - Myanmar in US-China Relations’, https://www.stimson.org/content/myanmar-us-china-relations-0

(61) = Financial Times 17 May 2016 ‘US keeps bulk of sanctions against Myanmar in place’,
https://www.ft.com/content/8c6d849a-1bb1-11e6-a7bc-ee846770ec15  (mentions sanctions lifted in previous years)

(62) = BBC News 16 Sep 2016 ‘Surprise as US ends Myanmar economic sanctions’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-37375829

(63) = World bank 30 Aug 2017 ‘Poverty Declined Between 2004-05 and 2015 in Myanmar: New Joint Myanmar-World Bank Report’,  http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2017/08/30/poverty-declined-between-2004-05-and-2015-in-myanmar

(64) = MMTimes(Myanmar)09 Jun 2014 ‘Graft scandal sinks without trace’, https://www.mmtimes.com/national-news/10636-graft-scandal-sinks-without-trace.html

(65) = MMTimes (Myanmar) 19 May 2014 ‘Data tweaks change face of poverty’,
https://www.mmtimes.com/opinion/10400-data-tweaks-change-face-of-poverty.html

(66) = The Irrawaddy (Myanmar) 17 March 2017 ‘Parliament Approves Reduced Budget for 2017-2018’,  https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/parliament-approves-reduced-budget-for-2017-2018.html

(67) = The Union of Myanmar , The State Peace and Development Council Law No. 10 / 2011, http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs18/2011-01-27-SPDC_Law2011-10-Special_Fund_Relating_to_Necessary_Expenditures_for_Perpetuation_of_the_State_Sovereignty_Law-en.pdf

(68) = Wired 22 Oct 2015 ‘Revealed: Myanmar's jade trade is run by former junta members’, http://www.wired.co.uk/article/jade-trade-burma-corruption

(69) = International Committee of Jurists Feb 2017 ‘Special Economic Zones in Myanmar and the State Duty to Protect Human Rights’, https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Myanmar-SEZ-assessment-Publications-Reports-Thematic-reports-2017-ENG.pdf

(70) = Myanmar Times 01 sep 2017 ‘Rakhine to construct Maungdaw economic zone’,
https://www.mmtimes.com/news/rakhine-construct-maungdaw-economic-zone.html

(71) = Radio Free Asia 12 Jul 2012 ‘Call to Put Rohingya in Refugee Camps’, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/rohingya-07122012185242.html

(72) = Global Witness 26 Mar 2015 ‘ Guns, Cronies and Crops’, https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/land-deals/guns-cronies-and-crops/

(73) = Al Jazeera 16 Sep 2017 ‘Who is selling weapons to Myanmar?’, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2017/09/selling-myanmar-military-weapons-170914151902162.html

(74) = Myanmar Directorate of Investment and Company Administration http://www.dica.gov.mm/en/topic/foreign-investment-country

(75) = The Australian 15 Sep 2017 ‘China backs Myanmar’s attacks on Rohingyas’, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/china-backs-myanmars-attacks-on-rohingyas/news-story/df4d46525a42eed0a466782755b4316d

(76) = Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh) 16 Sep 2017 ‘Russia opposes intervention in Myanmar’, http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/south-asia/2017/09/16/russia-opposes-intervention-myanmar/