Poppies, republicanism and Republicanism

It’s hardly surprising that a Republican like Chris Donnelly has problems with poppy-wearing. But is it really the reinforcement of British militarism that it has – admittedly – been allowed to become?

Aside from their fundraising role, poppies are part of a national contemplation of the sacrifice of service people. It’s not a universal activity by any means though.

Isolationists, people with a pragmatic objection to particular conflicts, or people – like Chris – who challenge the legitimacy of the British state in the first place sometimes either refuse to participate or do so grudgingly. I would argue that – in doing so – they are misunderstanding the potential that national remembrance can have in the context of the social contract.

In a representative democracy, we vote for people who then enact the general will. And the general will currently is that British troops are fighting in Afghanistan (whatever opinion polls at any given point say) paid for by British taxpayers (including Chris). Even if I were to have opposed that war, a wholehearted democrat should, I believe, conclude that the limits to legitimate opposition to it are boundaried by my right to protest legally and my power to vote for it’s opponents next time.

For this reason, the slogan ‘Not In My Name!’ is a heedless – even dangerous – one. When a country goes to war, it is always in all of our names – no matter what our personal views are. You can’t pay for something one minute and deny responsibility for it the next. If you wanted the criticise this position, probably the best charge would be that it is ‘too republican’ in the classical sense of the word.

When a democracy sends people to fight and die on it’s behalf, it’s citizens acquire a debt to those people, whatever our personal views on the conflicts concerned. It’s not just a financial debt either, but one where they are thanked for doing our bidding and where the casualties and their families know that the public are contemplating the sacrifice that they made.

When people go to fight on our collective instructions, they need to know that we have considered and weighed the sacrifice that they are making. That they aren’t just chaff or cannon-fodder sent off on a whim. This is why the trend towards the poppy becoming an unthinking act of public cant is so damaging. What Brian Walker here has called ‘poppy fascism’. As long as poppy-wearing is an act of conformity rather than reflection, it betrays the most valuable aspect of remembrance.

When we buy a poppy, we provide a few coins, but more importantly, I would hope that we pledge to take part in a national programme of contemplation.

Good democracies need to do this because, put crudely, our electoral decisions effectively name the price that we put on the lives of service people. I may have supported this war but not that one, but that should be immaterial. No-one is obliged to express personal support for any national venture, but when we hold our pre-election debates, we frame the nation’s attitude to war – and this has a bearing upon future casualties (among other things).

The quality of pre-election public debate is crucial though. To illustrate this, compare two issues (*picking the first one out of the air*): The NHS and ….. er… GM Crops.

Elections put a price on the value we place on the health service. They do this because politicians know that there will always be a lively debate on this subject because their constituents are either regular users of the health service, or are friends-and-relations with people who are. Most of us have the opportunity to pick up enough experience to be informed spectators on the pre-election NHS debate. For this reason, it’s a sign of a healthy democracy that the NHS is an important battleground.

GM Crops, on the other hand, are a much more complex issue – one that most of us don’t know enough about to pronounce upon – and one where self-interested pressure groups have the capacity to promote policies that may not serve the widest public interest. It’s a question for the distributed moral wisdom of Parliament rather than a necessarily simplified public debate.

Putting service people in harm’s way should be an NHS-ish issue rather than a GM Crops-ish one. It’s one that we should all have contemplated, and the annual remembrance season is a good opportunity for this conversation to take place.

Governments will, surely, make better decisions if this is the case? A desire for better policymaking is something that should unite us all – regardless of our attitudes to particular conflicts. It follows that an improvement in the quality of policy debate will result in fewer deployments of British troops to further less defensible war-aims.

For this reason, surely Irish nationalists and republicans living in the UK should join the collective act of remembrance for people who make sacrifices at the behest of elected governments?

And the problems with this argument? I can see three:

1. The money goes exclusively to British service charities.
No-one is stopping parallel commemorations for the causalities who were sponsored by movements other than the British state.


2. You can’t criticise Sinn Fein supporters for ignoring this ‘republican’ notion that all citizens of the British state bear collective responsibility for it’s actions because of Sinn Fein’s continuing selective abstentionism

Good point. However, that selective abstentionism is, in itself, a fudge. You can no more be ‘a bit abstentionist’ than you can be ‘a bit pregnant.’

3. Remembrance may ostensibly be about the noble aims set out above, but in reality, it’s just another opportunity for pro-Union chauvinism in the north of Ireland (the contrast between the way that poppies are worn in the north of Ireland and how it is worn elsewhere in the UK illustrates this) and tub-thumping jingoism elsewhere
Yes – ideally the way that this remembrance is conducted should be modified to accommodate those those who don’t currently engage with it. Unionists may complain that this would be an unwarranted act of appeasement, but I’d counter this by saying that the modification is not just something that should be aimed at Irish republicans, but at all of those who are ambivalent or hostile to acts of remembrance on the grounds that it seems to endorse foreign policy decisions that they don’t like.

Experience tells us that appeals to tone this down are likely to be fruitless as well. But if a minority of prominent republicans to start wearing poppies themselves, I suspect that this particular thorn would be removed?

A better, more engaged discussion about how military force is deployed can only be a good thing. The way we instruct the armed services is the cornerstone of that debate, and remembrance is a very potent opportunity for reflection. One that we should all influence. It would be a gamechanging move for Gerry and Martin to be wearing poppies next year.

  • dub

    you don’t seem to understand that as far as Irish nationalists and republicans are concerned they are living in IRELAND and the UK is not part of their nation and its claim on part of Ireland is wholly illegitimate.

    why are you and so many in britain so deperate to foist this emblem on people who are not of your nation? this is not just poppy fascism but is imperialism straight. it is this kind of thinking that has got britain into so many wars and occupations. OTHER PEOPLE@S HOMES ARE NOT YOUR HOMES AND OYHER PEOPLE@S PROBLEMS ARE NOT YOURS. Why not take Voltaire’s advice: GROW YOUR OWN GARDEN….

  • John

    Good post Paul, but I would argue that you cannot be a “whole-hearted democrat” if you believe in the legitimacy of the Northern Ireland statelet. Wasn’t its foundation conceived against the will of the majority (including a majority in two of the six counties – Fermanagh and Tyrone – which would go on to form Northern Ireland)?

    I apologise for going off-topic a bit, as you do make some good points.

  • Brit

    “why are you and so many in britain so deperate to foist this emblem on people who are not of your nation?”

    Mainly because we love to opress other people, particularly the Irish who we think are inferior to us.

    Also we think the Red of the Poppy brings out your lovely green eyes

  • Henry94

    When a country goes to war, it is always in all of our names

    We don’t have an agreed definition of our country so your point falls. The poppy is a matter for the British and the only problem Irish people have with it is when it is foisted on us.

    Of course some Irish people might choose to wear one for various reasons and that’s their business. But it is not a question for the nation as a whole.

    The Irish nation consists of those people who give their primary political loyalty to Ireland.

  • percy

    paul,
    I think all you’ve done is build yourself a nice little sanctuary, where the state has you in compliance and servitude.
    The fact that you can kiss ass without feeling guilty is proof of the unholy alliance.

    welcome!

  • TerryD

    Surely the whole point about remembrance is that for it to have any meaning it has to be voluntary. You can not fake it and certainly not force it.

    If someone doesn’t want to remember British soldiers who have lost their lives in various conflicts, both just and unjust, thats their business.

    The problem with the poppy is that just as it remembers anti Nazi heroes so it also remembers pro imperialist troops in Ireland, Aden, Cyprus, Africa, the Middle East etc.

  • Brit

    “would argue that you cannot be a “whole-hearted democrat” if you believe in the legitimacy of the Northern Ireland statelet. Wasn’t its foundation conceived against the will of the majority (including a majority in two of the six counties – Fermanagh and Tyrone – which would go on to form Northern Ireland)?”

    1. Loads of states which are accepted as legitimate NOW were not founded according to principles of democracy. Look at America built in part in institionalised slavery, genocide against the native American Indians and annexation of bits of other countries.

    2. Arguably there were two nations in Ireland. So the will of the majority of the island is not directly relevant, it is the majorities of the relevant communities. This was accepted by some within Sinn Fein before partition, including SF vice-president Michael O Flanagan.

    3. SF’s overwhelming election victories were clearly based on a programme which envisaged independence for the 26 but there were mixed messages from SF regarding the 6 counties (which the British government had already identified as being to be considered differently in the context of Home Rule) and its policies. So it is questionable whether the majority was voting for independence against the will of the majority of Unionists in the 6.

  • Dub and Henry94,

    There isn’t a state in the world that has an ‘agreed definition’ in the sense that you mean. If Ireland were a single political entity, that agreed definition wouldn’t exist either, as Unionists would threaten to withdraw their consent.

    I understand the argument that a lot of Republicans don’t like it, and even that a minority of Republicans are committed to defying it by any means at their disposal. But like it or not, most Republicans currently (grudgingly) endorse it, pay taxes, vote and have like-minded representatives sitting in Stormont. All I’m saying is that taking a more active part in a shared act of remembrance would be consistent with that.

    Percy, I feel a degree of guilt about the fact that the state I live in does things that I find unconscionable. Did I suggest otherwise?

  • Brit

    “The Irish nation consists of those people who give their primary political loyalty to Ireland.”

    So Unionists are not part of the Irish nation.

  • Terry,

    Totally agree – and that’s what I argued. I’m not saying Republicans should be frog-marched up Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday.

    I’m just saying that it would be a good thing to do.

    Here’s a scenario for you. Imagine I were an Irish Republican who was ashamed of the ambivalence that the Irish Republican movement had towards Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s. Imagine I were proud of the fact that some Irishmen volunteered to join in the war – whether it was in the British or (as some did) Canadian forces.

    In that scenario, you would have an modern Irish republican who would want to join in the commemoration of those people. It’s not *that* different from the position of a British opponent of the Iraq war who supported (say) NATO action in Kosovo?

  • George

    I have to agree with Henry on this one.

    The Royal British Legion is there “to ensure that the nation has the opportunity to pay its respects to its Service men and women, past and present”.

    It’s for the British nation and not the Irish one.

    As for the Irish minority over the border living in the UK – Remember the Agreement, British, Irish or both…..

  • Ciaran O’Connor

    Paul,
    You raise an interesting point, yet one which I think is flawed. Though yes tax contributions have gone towards paying for this war, and others, I believe it is a fundamental necessity to protest against actions of a government which I believe border on illegality and put the citizens of both their own and many other countries in jeopardy (often unnecessarily). This protest could come in the form of a protest march (I assume you don’t object to them) or it could manifest in my dislike for wearing a poppy.

    My reasoning is in two main thrusts. Firstly, your argument that “You can’t pay for something one minute and deny responsibility for it the next” is a reasonable one, except in the context of taxation. I am coerced into paying taxes, I cannot withhold them. My birth was enough to sign the social contract that dictates the necessity of taxation, a need with which I normally agree. Though taxation has therefore paid for the war, it is ultimately not a true signifier of consent from the people.

    Secondly, in your apparently Hobbesian view of sovereignty, the sovereign forfeits its right to govern when its actions act contrary to the commonwealth. I believe that the Afghanistan (and more specifically) Iraq wars have contributed greatly to the level of threat that both the USA and UK face, never mind the level of danger inflicted upon innocent Afghan civilians without their consent (but I suppose they were taxed by the Taliban pre-2001, so I guess they must support them). Thus, the sovereign has been derelict in its duty and must relinquish its position as unquestionable leader.

    Finally, on a slightly lesser front, one can be a full blooded democrat and be morbidly embarrassed by the association of the word democracy with the standard of government that exists in most countries of the world today, including the UK and Ireland. We get the right to select, from a minute pool of parties and candidates, an elected dictatorship that is effectively safe from public opinion for up to 5 years (such as the millions who marched against the Iraq war paid taxes and were ignored).

    I believe that I should be able to show my disgust for the wars in which the UK has engaged itself in any way possible, and if that were to be through not purchasing a poppy, then that should be fine. If you want to support the troops, bring them home, they’ll be safer, and we’ll be safer.

    None of which is why I don’t wear a poppy, but suffice to say I dislike your argument.

  • Ciaran O’Connor

    In condensed form: Not in my name is thoroughly justified in this context. I agree poppies should be voluntarily worn.

  • GGN

    Paul,

    “You can’t pay for something one minute and deny responsibility for it the next.”

    I do deny that responsibitily. At the end of the day, my vote cannot influence the governement of the uk.

    I do and have paid taxes. However I have paid them because they were simply taken out of my wages.

    If I could have gor away without paying them I would – I was forced to, ultimately by force, I would be imprisoned if I did not pay.

    I am not there resposnible in anyway for British militarism and therefore I do not were a poppy, which only remembers the perpertaters of violence and not their victims.

  • Ciaran,

    Thanks for that. Taking your points one-by-one:

    1. No problem with protest marches or other forms of protest. I don’t understand how not wearing a poppy is a protest against the British state though. The poppy isn’t even a universally British symbol.

    2. That is, with due respect, a matter of opinion (I’m not saying you’re wrong either). You are saying that the British government have made a strategic decision that they think serves their interests – and that they are mistaken. Fair enough. The most appropriate place for use to rule upon this is at a general election.

    3. You seem to be saying that – because democracy is an imperfect expression of the General Will, that the argument doesn’t stand up. Fair enough – it’s a reasonable argument but one that I think puts a burden of proof on you: As it happens, I think that European nations at this point in history are at a historical pinnacle in terms of individual freedom and inclusive democracy. They could be better, but they aren’t better anywhere else and have never been. This post made the point better than I can here: http://freethinkecon.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/clarkson-dalrymple-the-patriotic-urge-to-leave-the-country/

    My argument is that collective acts of remembrance make for better debate. If you’re right about Afghanistan and Iraq, in an ideal world, better debate would have kept the British state out.

    The big hole in my argument is that democratic debate is unduly influenced by powerful pressure groups and jingoistic elements in the media. The debate that I’m saying should happen probably won’t happen. I think that so many political arguments primarily act to displace this question. For me, it’s the most important one.

  • GGN,

    Is your it your main point that the electoral system is not the right one?

    Otherwise you seem to be arguing that only people who vote for the party that win a general election should pay taxes?

    The poppy doesn’t *only* remember the perpetrators of violence. It remembers those who died in the war against Fascism. We can argue about the other wars that the British military have been involved in if you like, but I’d argue that some of them were justified. Again, it’s not about endorsing *all* British military actions – that was one of my key points.

  • GGN

    “Is your it your main point that the electoral system is not the right one?”

    No.

    I am saying that as an Irish person I only pay taxes to the British government, regardless of which party, as if I do not they would send me to jail.

    Fine, but people have responsibilites and life is short.

    Do not take the fact that I have paid them to be a tacit agreement with anything they do.

  • I haven’t argued that paying taxes is tacit agreement with any government. My argument is based on the notion of the social contract – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract

    Your vote *can* influence the government of the UK if you are eligible to vote in the UK. Admittedly, that influence varies depending upon electoral considerations – which is why I was asking you about the electoral system.

  • GGN

    Paul,

    There exists no contract between myself and the British government as I have not consent to be rule by them.

  • dub

    Paul,

    You are not listening.

  • Brit

    “We get the right to select, from a minute pool of parties and candidates, an elected dictatorship that is effectively safe from public opinion for up to 5 years (such as the millions who marched against the Iraq war paid taxes and were ignored).”

    Voting every 5 years is but one feature of a liberal democracy. Freedom of speech expression, assembly, the rule of law, freedom of religion, equality before the law irrespetive of ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation.

    It is fine to highlight the limits of democracy and the extent to which the truth differs from spin. The fact is that there is no equality of political power in an unequal and class bound socieities, that certain ideas are given greater weight and legitmacy than others.

    But to suggest or imply that these limits mean the whole thing is a sham or illusion little or no better than other forms of goverenance and political rule, is foolish to say the least. For all the limits of Capitalist democracy it wouldn’t take a seconds thought if I had had to choose between leaving in Eastern or Western Germany.

    Our democracy, rights and liberties are a great advance which should be celebrated and defended as such by anyone of a truly progressive perspective bent, even if there is much further to travel towards true human emancipation and social justice. They are genuinely better than what went before it in the West and what still goes on in much of the globe. Even anti-Capitalist radicals like Marx recognised the substantive value of democratic norms and arrangements.

    In terms of your specific comments I think you have stretched the truth. As for your “minute pool” I think you’ll find a wide range of political parties challenging in almost every election, from Far Left to Far right, including Greens, Anti EU groups and single issue parties. To call an elected government which is subject to constant scrutiny in the media, Parliament, and subject to court decisions an “elected dictatorship” is to seriously devalue the correctly pejorative meaning of dictatorship.

    The Iraq war was supported by a majority of the UK electorate (notwithstanding the opposition of a loud and large minority who opposed it). That is not a sufficient argument to justify the war but is simply a response to your comment.

  • TerryD

    Paul, the difficulty with the poppy is that it does not discriminate in who it remembers. Whilst I am proud of the Irish people who fought the Nazis, I’m equally proud of those who fought them in Spain.
    At the same time I pity the Irish who died in WW1 in a family squabble, and am at the least “conflicted” about Irish people who have served in the British armed forces in upholding their imperial ambitions.
    I can and do appreciate the human loss, particularly of their families, but do I wish to remember their “sacrifice?” No.
    The poppy, as the emblem of the British Legion, is clear that it remembers All British service people who have died since WW1 in the service of the nation.
    Considering that this includes those who fought in Ireland against Irish Republicans, be it in 1920 or 1972, including both Bloody Sundays, I am unable to wear it, although i fully respect the right of others to do so.

  • Brit

    Terry – in my view that is entirely reasonable.

    The point is one can assemble all the intellectual arguments in the world about who and what the poppy is remembering, the many Irishmen who fought on the right side in WW2 and those tho fought so bravely in WW1 (not so obviously a just war in which all humanity had an interest), that is does not indicate support for all British wars and actions, but it is symbol which carries with it a certain amount of baggage.

    An Irish Catholic, particularly if from a strongly nationalist or Republican perspective, is always going to find much of that baggage very difficult to swallow.

    Frankly I have much bigger complaints against Irish Republicanism, particularly modern Irish Republicanism, that their opposition to wearing a poppy. Think this topics now been done to death.

  • Terry,

    I’m not unsympathetic to your arguments, but my point is less about what those wars were about than the notion of remembrance as part of a social contract. I really don’t regard wearing a poppy as an endorsement of every British policy decision.

    The social contract often has ugly overtones. I think we can’t do without it. To get all of the benefits – to be saved from Hobbes’ ‘state of nature’ – we consent to be part of processes that we often don’t have full control over – the ‘unholy alliance’ that percy (above) says we should feel a bit guilty about.

    The poppy has to be, at least in part, an expression of collective guilt. Who can look the child of a soldier unflinchingly in the eye without the knowledge that they were a small part of a process that sent their father into harm’s way – even if we opposed the conflict in question? We paid the taxes. We didn’t win the democratic argument. In the past, they were sometimes even conscripts, and as a democratic socialist, I’d argue that there is some comparison between the conscript and the modern military wage-slave.

    I understand your Bloody Sundays argument, but there’s an even stronger one: There are people who are actually in the employ of the British Army who may be ambivalent or even opposed to some wars that they fight in. They could desert – but most don’t.

    By the same token, you can refuse to pay your taxes (but you probably won’t).

    I’m not saying we should do all of this uncomplainingly either. If we don’t like a particular war, we should protest and vote accordingly.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Martin and Gerry will never wear a poppy, obviously.

    Good article and good posts-thanks everyone.

  • Brit

    “Loyalist terror gangs” is 9 points on Slugger Bingo

    For 10 points you needed to have used “so-called Loyalist murder gangs”.

    “croppies” is 8 points

    All in all not a bad effort.

  • Rory Carr

    As far as the British population are concerned any notion of the social contract applying in the matter of the invasion of Iraq was completely negated when the government lied to parliament and to the people. In lying so egregiously Blair negated any implied consent of the people to this war, any general will as you have it, misused his powers and entered a war acting upon his own will at the behest of a foreign power, the United States of America. Furthermore the British people’s witholding of any consent to this war was firmly and clearly established in the million plus demonstration against it and in every opinion poll, debate and vox pop up to and after the invasion.

    As far as Irish Republicans are concerned it is laughable if not downright contemptuous to introduce this argument of the general will to apply to any implied social contract between them and the British state which fought a bloody war to suppress the general will of the Irish people who voted overwhelmingly for the Republic and rejected England’s right to rule in any part of Ireland.

    In any case all this hooey about a social contract and the general will is just that – hooey. It is merely a confection, a conceit of Rousseau’s to attempt to explain how he saw the interaction of social relations between the governors and the governed and one which has been confused and applied as and how anyone who wished would apply it. It has no status in law, no meaning in law and would only ever be drafted into the law of dictatorships where the idea of the general will resting with one individual or one small group comes in very handy indeed as the Caudillo, or whatever, in the name of the general will, busies himself beheading and imprisoning all who speak against him.

    There’s the old joke about the fascist wedding of the year where General Will marries good old Laura Norder, but I don’t suppose it’s the type of humor that tickles in Paul’s circle.

  • Brit

    Rory,

    On the eve of the Iraq War, according to Ipsos Mori, 38% answered yes to the question “Would you approve or disapprove of a military attack on Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein?”. Clearly not a majority but perhaps a plurality?

    What “lies” did Blair tell Parliament?

    And in view of Blairs strong personal convictions and the content of his ’99 Chicago speach it is ridiculous to argue that he only favoured the war because he did what Bush told him or was America’s Poodle

  • We’re well into hair-splitting now Rory.

    Firstly, once you’ve won an election, a Parliamentary majority is what you need to justify anything within the law. If the British government had ‘lied to parliament’ in the terms you say it had, Parliament would have to deal with that. It didn’t.

    You’re wrong about the opinion polls – for large stretches of the Iraq war (including the point of invasion) IIRC there was a majority in favour. The ‘million marchers’ (I was one) are entirely irrelevant. Over 1 million people signed a petition against road-pricing – doesn’t mean a government shouldn’t do it.

    The British people did not withhold their consent in any recognisable way. Labour won the subsequent general election and the biggest opposition party – the Tories – was also a supporter of the war.

    On Irish republicans and the General Will, mainstream Republicanism has come to terms with the British state on this. They aim to unite Ireland by peaceful democratic means. There’s nothing inconsistent about this.

    On your wider contempt for the notion of the General Will, I don’t understand your ‘no status in law’ point. You either accept the idea or you don’t. I do.

    Whoever Caudillo is, he’d not get away with beheading anyone he likes in a liberal democracy.

  • Neil

    I’ve tried to respond to this several times but no luck so far, seems to be a bandwidth problem. It’s simply offensive to suggest that any Irish Republican would have any obligation to donate to any charity, especially one that might offer support to a former soldier who had committed murder here.

    Put in short I would rather burn my money than donate it to the forces of the British state who have murdered and enslaved people around the globe, and who it appears have yet to learn a thing, cause they still haven’t stopped. Every country the Brits invade (and subsequently get people like Brit above to swallow all the bullshit propoganda, and get them to forget the whitewashing/suspicious suicides/WMD?!) they create conflicts that rage for centuries, and still they learn nothing.

    Brit has stated that the people of Iraq wanted the British and Americans to flatten Baghdad, indiscriminately murdering hundreds of woman and kids asleep in their beds. They were begging for their electricity to be cut off, for a curfew to be introduced, to lose water supplies and employment, to watch their kids (80% of em) suffer from malnutrition, and to run the daily raffle of being killed – these Iraqis were begging them to come in.

    Then the troops arrived a staggering 82% of these fickle savages changed their minds (this according to an opinion poll carried out in Iraq by the beloved British MOD). more than 99% of respondents said security was worse now, 67% feel less secure now.

    Now I’ve seen how you can explain that a staggering 82% wanted the invasion before Saddam left (although there would be no figures for that as a survey would be impossible, so we’ll believe your propoganda for the sake of argument) how do you explain, if your motives were to remove the oppressive dictator and free the Iraq people, how come more than 2/3 of the people felt safer when Saddam was boss?

    You are a propoganda machine. It’s all you have on this subject, if you had even had some point of contention with how things had been done, or how they now are, you would have seemed much more genuine. But the truth of the matter is, as it always is, that the British are the high and mighty, freeing the oppressed, and teaching the savages civilization. Never having done wrong Brit, must be marvelous, how did you manage to invade dozens of countries, and still have been so just and supreme?

    My bottom line is this. Fuck the poppy, and fuck the brave boys, they are lucky to be priveleged enough to be paid to die, unlike their victims. If you have to give money to a charity, the victims of the invasion of Iraq could do with it a hell of a lot more than the surviving squaddies, who got what they wanted when they joined the army in the first place.

  • OC

    Is there an equivalent to “Poppy Day” in the RoI?

    If the only answer is the “Easter Lily”, is it generally observed there?

  • RepublicanStones

    Unfortunately the Poppy seeks to commemorate the military history a ‘nation’ which has a deeply unsavoury past as many in Ireland, India, Aden etc etc etc will be able to attest to.

    And john makes a rather good point at post 2.
    Unfortunately the minority (who were a political entity, not a nation, arguably or otherwise) rejected the democratic will of the people of Ireland. The continued attempt by some on here to portray pre-partition unionists has having superior rights in the single political entity of Ireland (as it was seen by Westminister also) only serves to illustrate the fact that the Irish were indeed inferior in their own land.

  • Rory Carr

    ‘ On the eve of the Iraq War, according to Ipsos Mori, 38% answered yes to the question “Would you approve or disapprove of a military attack on Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein?”.’

    Would that be “Yes, we approve”, or “Yes, we disapprove”, Brit, or are you able to tell the difference?

    If it is, as the nonsensical context that follows implies, “Yes, we approve” then I think we can all agree, without any need of direction from you, that 38% is “clearly not a majority”. Last time I checked the maths on this it was waht used to be called, “a minority”. A minority pretty overwhelmed by the 62% that did not care to express approval (and that in a poll designed to find approval) we might think.

    And don’t give us Blair’s strong personal convictions, please, the only lasting reputation that will attach to him will be as the Great Liar who spent his final years smiling for the camera and trading sanctimoniousness for money. At which task, we must concede, he does excel.

  • RepublicanStones

    It seems that was an ICM poll figure.

    Ipsis Mori adds certain caveats and makes for interesting reading.

    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/newsevents/ca/ca.aspx?oItemId=287

  • i wonder

    Brit please keep on sneering at the world and us Irish and our pathetic views please keep up the sneering comments.If any old johnny foreigners are reading this blog who had the misfortune to be fuked over by the BRITISH EMPIRE in the past they will see that we still have to listen to you smart mouthed chumps.

  • k

    “1. The money goes exclusively to British service charities.
    No-one is stopping parallel commemorations for the causalities who were sponsored by movements other than the British state.”

    Yes they are. I work in an FE college. Supposedly we have a ‘neutral’ working environment for staff and students which means that GAA tops/scarves/bags are banned and any student found wearing them must be disciplined. However, the PSNI and British Army can display recruitment posters for 16 year olds and have recruitment stalls at careers day.
    Furthermore, Poppys are fine but any student found wearing an Easter Lily must be reported to the Head of Department and formally disciplined.
    As Jim Royle would say ‘Neutral my arse!’

  • I’m delighted with the way things regarding the poppy have changed over the last few years.

    It was previously a symbol of rememberance about the WW1 & WW2 and a charity for ex soldiers. It was accepted in a desperate & extreme manner by Unionists only (excluding nationalist & Catholics) as a form of uber-British identity; similar to a Last Night of the Proms.

    Nowadays it’s become a symbol of Little Britishers in Britian and their harkening back to the days of the Empire. It’s become obligatory on the TV media as a display of the lack of individualism. In years to come it’ll be an embarassment because of the lemming-like support of military mis-behaviour eg. Kenya, Malaya & Ireland.

    In RoI it brings to the fore those who start their arguements with “we as a mature nation can embrace other identities such as…” …only Britishness !!!! The undercurrent of their fetish for all things Westminister & British military is obvious and lightly cloaked in acceptance of the poppy. I wish all of those Blue Shirted, West-brits wore their poppies around Dublin, Cork, NY, Gortahork & Glenamaddy and stopped hiding behind their letters to the editor of the Irish Thames.

    Paul “Again, it’s not about endorsing *all* British military actions – that was one of my key points.”

    Wrong. You can’t wear a poppy and have partial support for the British military. The poppy is a symbol of support for British military including Bloody Sunday, support of Stormont, shoot to kill, Gibraltar. Hence the reason it not accepted in RoI and by nationalists in NI…. why else do you think we hate it? Why would you want us to accept it (think of republicans demanding equal acceptance of the lilly at Easter on the Beeb & UnionstTV)?

  • Two things – just to correct a few misunderstandings.

    Firstly, I’m not proposing that anyone should be forced to wear a poppy. I agreed with Brian Walker’s notes on ‘Poppy Fascism’ (though for the record, I really don’t like that use of the word ‘Fascism’ – when it’s taken so lightly it reminds me of the boy who cried ‘wolf’) – if anything, I’m saying that a lot of the people who *do* wear poppies shouldn’t bother.

    I’m urging people who currently refuse to wear it on principle to revisit that belief.

    Secondly, mytuppenceworth, your big bold ‘wrong’ is demonstrably utter bollocks. I wear a poppy without endorsing most of those actions. I could wear it without endorsing *any* of them. Millions of other people do so. It isn’t a universally British symbol. Fuck it, it doesn’t even *need* to be a Poppy, though there is an obvious appeal to the idea that the poppy – as a symbol – should be rescued from the jingoistic elements that have captured it and returned to it’s original purpose – remembering the poor cannon fodder that was mindlessly sent to certain death in WWI.

    I’m arguing that when states send people to die – paid for by the taxes that we all pay – it should be a cause for reflection. Not another opportunity for whataboutery, triumphalism, jingoism, conformist cant or the rehashing of old arguments about the justice or otherwise of individual conflicts. It’s about improving the shared understanding of how states use their military capacity. It’s about making democracy better.

    One outcome, for instance, could be that the British public could be challenged to accept the consequences of what opinion pollsters tell us to be their desire to expend fewer British lives in Afghanistan.

    The UK has, for many years, maintained troop levels consistent with a desire to be seen as contributors to the role of ‘world policeman.’ If the British public have lost their appetite for this role, or if they want to do it in the highly risk-averse way that it was done during the Kosovo conflict, then surely there is a case for reducing troop numbers?

    This always happens with comment threads – the further down you get, the more commenters you find who have – at best – skim-read the post, ignored most of the comments and just trotted out some memebot line that they’ve used plenty of times before.

  • Hmm…

    Paul – I can’t see how you can regard the ‘Not in my name’ position as ‘dangerous’ and as at odds with democracy unless you buy Rousseau’s rather odd view that anyone on the losing side of a majority vote has simply made a mistake and should change their mind at once. Not much room for democratic dissent on that view. As you say – it’s altogether ‘too republican’.

    What is ‘Not in my name’ if not an expression of legitimate dissent? Furthermore this stance can be linked diretly to Hobbes’s social contract (a version of social contract which no democrat should touch with a bargepole becuase it is designed to eliminate dissent and justify absolute sovereign power).

    Hobbes argues that in contracting to establish government, we become the authors of the sovereign’s actions. This doesn’t mean that he’s our agent, it means that we become responsible for everything he does, without us having any control over him. Now I can see why a government bent on engaging in controversial military adventures might find this view pretty convenient – and I’ve heard it being parroted on the BBC already this week, however, nobody in their right mind should have any truck with it (much as I like Rousseau, he makes essentially the same, undemocratic, mistake).

    Against this backdrop, it seems that ‘not in my name’ captures the important idea that we have a positive duty to register our dissent with decisions we believe to be morally wrong – it’s not enough to passively wait until the next election and allow the government to assume tacit consent for their actions. As democrats we may be bound to comply, but we are not bound to sing along…

    And this is to say nothing about the hopelessly medeaeval nature of our existing political institutions which scarcely ensure everyone an equal opoprtunity to influence collective decision-making…

  • scofflaw

    The whole poppy thing just seems to be gathering more and more momentum. Now everyone who works in television MUST wear one and if they don’t, they will be ostracised and could even lose their job.(Not officially, but they know the score if they don’t wear one)

    To many republicans and nationalists the poppy represents Britishness and is a commemoration to the British War dead. Lately it has attempted to include everyone who has died, but it’s essentially a British emblem.

    In a new NI, with prity of esteem a main plank of the democratic process, could it ever be contemplated that the Irish war dead could be commemorated in a similar fashion?

    No = Double standards.

    But then why are you not surprised?

  • Brit

    “Put in short I would rather burn my money than donate it to the forces of the British state who have murdered and enslaved people around the globe” Neil

    And does this attitude to donation apply to the forces of any nation/state which have mudered and/or enslaved people (I assume you are using enslavement to mean occupy or colonise)? In which case you would also presumably rather burn your money than to donate it to the armed forces of:-

    America

    Spain

    France

    Portugal

    Belgium

    Holland

    Germany

    Italy

    Russia

    China

    Vietnam

    India

    Pakistan

    Etc etc

    Or is this just an anti British thing?

    You say that I am “a propoganda machine. It’s all you have on this subject, if you had even had some point of contention with how things had been done, or how they now are, you would have seemed much more genuine.”

    Now I could say that the numerous supporters of Republicanism on here are propaganda machines in the sense that the express a Republican view. In that sense I don’t see how it constitutes a criticism. If you are implying that I am in the pay of the British state or something then all I can say is that you are wrong. I supported the Iraq war from a progressive left-liberal perspective. A small minority current of the Left did so – see the likes of Irwin Mitchell, Norm Geras, Oliver Kamm, David Arronovitch – and those arguments are best encapsulated in the book “A Matter of Principle – Humanitarian Argument for War in Iraq” edited by Thomas Cushman. In so doing I was not motivated by British jingoism or a desire to re-create the Empire but by humanitarian, internationalist and anti-pacifist imperatives of the type which led a much larger part of the Left to support the interventions in Kosovo and Sierra Leonne. Put simply my view was that Saddam’s regime was especially totalitarian and genocidal and left unmolested would have become a potential Pol Pot Cambodia but with military might and possibly nukes in the powderkeg of the middle east.

    You may think my view stupid or unrealistic but at least accept that it was a good faith progressive view.

    Although I don’t usually emphasise it in my arguments with the trite “illegal war of imperialism based on lies” mob on here I fully accept and admit that the outcome in Iraq, the aftermath, was absolutely terrible and far far worse than I had anticipated. The initial war of liberation and overthrow of the Baathists (the one which the peacniks had said would be difficult and long and lead to millions of civillians casualties) was relatively swift and easy without large numbers of deaths. But I did not forsee the outcome of terrorism and civil war and a complete breakdown in civil society. And although it is fatuous to blame America and Britain for the actions of local sectarians and Baathists, and outside forces like AG and Iran (as if the arabs are like children with no moral responsbility for their actions) the allies, and particularly Bush, badly botched the planning and execution of the occupation and stabilisation. They bear some reaponsbility and culpability for so doing.

    The situation is a horrible tragedy and although it is slowly getting better it was a hell on earth for many Iraqis. All those involved in the invasion (and to a lesser extent armchair generals/supporters) cannot just ignore these issues, least of all from an emotional and human perspective.

    Because it turned out so badly some of the progressive supporters purported to retrospectively withdraw their support and I have reflected on this. But I dont and continue believe it was the right thing looking at the medium to long term and because the outcome had the invasion not happened would probably have been worse or just as bad (in the case of an intervention deferred). This ultimately involves trying to compare what happened with what would have happened in an altnernative reality and so it is impossible to have complete certainty.

    There are difficult arguments as to whether the war was a good thing but most of the kneejerk arguments against (oil, occuption, imperialism, lies, illegality, Israel, neo-cons) are devoid of merit.

  • Do you really think that our existing political institutions are medieval? Really?

    The thing missing from your argument is any acknowledgment that we live in a liberal democracy.

    Sure – it’s imperfect, but you and I are still among the most fortunate 0.1% of historical humanity in enjoying the optimum combination of rights of self-determination, civil liberties, personal welfare, health and security, equality-before-the-law and all of the other lovely stuff that we’d miss if it were gone.

    The social contract does not justify absolute sovereign power in a liberal democracy. It just doesn’t – in many different ways. It does underline the legitimacy of the rule of law and allow states to behave in a resolute manner.

    Personally, as someone on the left, I believe I have infinitely more to gain from the notion of the social contract than I have to lose.

    The notion ‘not in my name’ legitimises a superficially attractive retreat into individualism. It’s particularly annoying when you hear people who don’t vote saying it. When you don’t take the opportunity to vote against a government that does something you didn’t approve of and then say that you bear no responsibility for that government’s actions, it brings to mind that line (from memory) about bad people doing what they want because good people do nothing.

    It’s a position that I’d find understandable coming from the libertarian right, but not the political centre or most of the left.

  • Brit

    “Unfortunately the minority (who were a political entity, not a nation, arguably or otherwise) rejected the democratic will of the people of Ireland. The continued attempt by some on here to portray pre-partition unionists has having superior rights in the single political entity of Ireland (as it was seen by Westminister also) only serves to illustrate the fact that the Irish were indeed inferior in their own land. ” RS

    I’ve missed you Stoney.

    Firstly I like the Stalinist/Republican assertion that “you are not a nation” about another people. People who came from a different place, of a different religion, mindset and culture. Your views are at odds with a number of pre-partition Irish nationalists, including SF vice president Michael O Flanagan who said in 1916 “We can point out that Ireland is an island with a definitie boundary…National and geographic boundaries hardly ever coincide…Geography has worked hard to make one nation of Ireland; history has worked against it. The island of Ireland and the national unit of Ireland simply do not coincide”. Interestingly your final sentence implicitly acknowledges this because your use of the word “the Irish” actually means Irish Catholics (in the ethnic sense) and excludes Protestant-Unionists.

    As to the democratic will of the people of Ireland, if we add together the Unionists in NE Ulster and the pro-Treaty votes in the Free State (in the 1923 election) there is an overwhelming majority which supported or accepted partition. Ulster Prods enthusiastially and Pro-Treaty Irish Catholics on the basis of an acceptance of a reality that the 6 counties could not and should not be coerced into the Free State.

  • Brit

    “Nowadays it’s become a symbol of Little Britishers in Britian and their harkening back to the days of the Empire”

    Presumably all the black and asian Brits I see wearing the poppy are gutted that the British empire was disbanded?

  • Hmm…

    Paul –
    I think it’s pretty obvious that our political institutions are largely medieval – parliaments are a medieval institution that long predate universal suffrage – which has got to be the minimum condition to be met before we can call any of these institutions democratic. Liberal democracy is less than 100 years old and still has a long way to go before we can really claim that everyone has anything more than a formally equal opportunity to influence decision making – on that we seem to agree. We also agree that we’re relatively fortunate to have even these imperfect institutions.

    My point was simply that if we’re going to start waving the social contract around, then we should mind the gap between existing instiutions and those which – in social contract speak – free and equal persons could rationally/reasonably agree to. It’s not at all clear that our institutions really do meet this test. Hobbes sets the bar so low that all sorts of regimes can meet his conditions, and I don’t think Hobbes-flavoured ‘realism’ has any place on the left.

    If we were keen to improve the quality of our democracy, we should probably worry less about electoral turnout for example and more about increasing accountability and participation in decision making (perhaps by committing our representatives to deliberative polling exercises in their constituencies as part of the job of the representative, for example). The relative lack of opportunities to participate in democratic politics outside of voting in general elections reflects the pre-modern nature of most of these institutions.

    I agree with you about apathetic non-voters – these people really do afford governments a blank cheque to count them as giving their tacit consent to whatever they do. The people who actively dissent under the banner of ‘not in my name’ are not obviously in this camp – I presume most of them do vote and they’re obviously politically active – so perhaps we haven’t been talking about the same group here.

  • Rory Carr

    “I’m urging people who currently refuse to wear it on principle to revisit that belief.”

    O.K. already. I’ve revisited it. It remains as unappealing as ever, indeed moreso now that I’ve listened to the arguments put forward by Brit and yourself which are absymally lacking in any attempt to come to terms with the legacy of the British colonisation of Ireland.

    So, having revisited that belief, it remains more entrenched than ever, my grandfather died at the Marne a victim of British colonialism and in his memory – you can shove yer poppy up yer arse!

  • Brit

    “I’ve listened to the arguments put forward by Brit and yourself”

    I’ve not argued that Irish Catholics should wear the poppy but above (and in other comments) that it is entirely understandable and reasonable for them to refrain from so doing.

    Are *we* really that indistinguishable to you?

  • Brit

    In my 10.15 post “Irwin Mitchell” should of course read “Mitchell Cohen”.

    The former is a solicitors firm, the latter a US social democrat intellectual and editor of Dissent Magazine!

  • doopa

    Paul – none of the major UK parties even stand in the North. On occassion they do but they haven’t done it consistently. Therefore it will never be possible for a voter in the North to cast a vote for the party that goes to war. Does this not undermine the idea of the social contract at least as far as it applies to the North?

    If I buy a poppy – does it not send a signal that I believe that the UK government is not taking adequate measures to support its veterans. This is not a reflection or comtemplation of war. The stated aims of the British Legion don’t call for any of the things you mention in your article. You are attaching these sentiments to an organisation.

    Furthermore, why not comtemplate all of the victims of war rather than just those that were paid to be there.

  • Doopa,

    Fair point. I’d still argue that in elections we never vote to mandate *any* policy and that there generally shouldn’t be a direct input by citizenry into any elections (I’d generally oppose the use of referendums on principle, for example) so I don’t think that the direct link with specific policies should be a factor in this debate.

    My argument is that – no matter what you think of specific issues – we pay taxes that (put crudely) buy bullets and body-bags. A shared period of reflection on that heavy responsibility would be good for democracy.

  • Rory Carr

    But the British public did reflect at length on the reasons for going to war in Iraq and rejected them in the greatest display of anti-government feeling ever witnessed in Britain, including the Chartist and Suffragette Movements. It was the politicians who ignored the general will, who broke the social contract (if these things can indeed be said to exist which is a matter for debate), who lied and lied again and knelt to the bidding of a foreign power rather than heed the voice of their own people.

    That the wearing of the poppy today is promoted heavily as giving support to that wrong decision is yet another reason not to wear it and many, many people I know in England refuse it for those reasons.

    In St Alban’s market on Saturday I made a studied and conscientious count of those wearing poppies. In the shopping precinct amid a crowd of 300-500 people I counted twelve and on the High Street itself were the market stalls are set up outside shops from the major chains of Marks&Spencers;, Tesco, Boots and others I counted less than fifty in a crowd of up to one thousand. Ther were also two war veterans standing outside two stores selling poppies which might be expected to have added to the numbers being worn. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the success of ‘poppy fascism. What?

  • Rory,

    I’ve answered your point about the anti-Iraq War march already.

    I don’t think you’ve read the article on ‘Poppy Fascism’ that I linked to either or you wouldn’t have made the point that you have done.

  • OC

    From wikipedia:

    In the 1930s, relations between Fianna Fáil and the IRA deteriorated considerably. Following the murder by the IRA of Richard More O’Farrell in February 1935, the Fianna Fáil leadership instructed party members to stop selling the lily as it was “the symbol of an organisation of whose methods we disapprove”. For its Easter commemmorations that same year, Fianna Fáil introduced a new symbol called the Easter Torch. This was sold for a number of years but was discontinued as the badge proved unpopular with the party grass roots, many of whom continued to wear the Easter Lily.

    Since the 1930s, successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments attempted to suppress sales of the Easter Lily.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Interestingly your final sentence implicitly acknowledges this because your use of the word “the Irish” actually means Irish Catholics (in the ethnic sense) and excludes Protestant-Unionists.’

    Glad that you missed me Brit, I had a litle jaunt around a small part of the Levant last week, and I missed you too. Now, with your quote above, you fail to recognise that it was the Protestant-unionists who excluded themselves, when they completely disregarded the will of the vast majority of the irish people. Furthermore your insistence that a group of people who are unhappy with the manner in which democracy works can form their own ‘nation’ or dictate to the vast majority means that areas such as tyrone, pockets like West Belfast etc are entitled to join the Republic, would you support this?

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘There are difficult arguments as to whether the war was a good thing but most of the kneejerk arguments against (oil, occuption, imperialism, lies, illegality, Israel, neo-cons) are devoid of merit.’

    Devoid of merit you say Brit? It seems you’re doing the moth thing again, lets look at the evidence

    “Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990—it’s the threat against Israel,…And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell,”
    (Phillip Zelikow – who was a member of Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board)

    “Those who favor this attack now will tell you candidly, and privately, that it is probably true that Saddam Hussein is no threat to the United States. But they are afraid at some point he might decide if he had a nuclear weapon to use it against Israel.”
    (Gen Wesley Clark)

    Or what about when Bibi went to Washington and warned Seantors that Saddam was aquiring nuclear weapons. You’ll find an article about it in the Chicago Sun Times – ‘Netanyahu’s nuke warning’.

    “If Saddam Hussein is not stopped now, five years from now, six years from now, we will have to deal with an Iraq that is armed with nuclear weapons, with an Iraq that has delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction.”
    (Ra’anan Gissen – Sharon spokesman)

    Or this beaut from Peres..

    “I’m not sure. Maybe a change in Iraq can facilitate a better solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It’s not so clear that there is a simple answer.”

    “But Iraq is an issue in their own right, and a very terrible one. I think that everybody is a little bit impatient because there is a feeling that Iraq is developing nuclear weapons. They possess chemical weapons. They possesss biological weapons. They are building missiles. And simply, you cannot sit and wait for meeting this challenge,”

    Or another beaut from Peres…

    “Saddam Hussein is as dangerous as Bin-laden”

    Or how about Ehud Barack….

    “Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons program provides the urgent need for his removal”.

    Brit for you to claim that Israel or the neo-cons were not an issue in the Iraq war is laughable.

  • I wonder if Mick could be persuaded to introduce a variation on Godwin’s Law to Slugger?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

    As soon as anyone mentions either the 1918 election or any IRA outrage, the argument is deemed to be over and the person who mentioned it has lost.

  • Sean

    Paul

    I made up my own law

    3.Goblins law, the first person to use ethnic cleansing in relationship to nIreland automatically loses the arguement

  • Brit

    “who lied and lied again and knelt to the bidding of a foreign power rather than heed the voice of their own people.”

    No matter how many times you say something Rory it doesn’t make it true. To accuse Blair of lying means that the accuser is either deeply ignorant, very stupid, or being disingenous or some combination of the foregoing. Blair was preaching and practicing foreign intervention when Bush was an isloationist Republican in Texas.

    “That the wearing of the poppy today is promoted heavily as giving support to that wrong decision is yet another reason not to wear it and many, many people I know in England refuse it for those reasons.”

    That’s not true. The advertising campaign, whose object is to raise maximum revenue via charitable contributions, identifies potential recipients of the money as soliders injured or dependents of killed soldiers in recent conflicts. That’s because this seems a more needy cause, more urgent and more emotional, than injured/dependents from previous conflicts. Many people in England wear the poppy whilst strongly opposing the recent wars, not being English nationalists (or British nationalists) of any type and in no sense glorifying or celebrating any war or imperial projects.

  • Brit

    “Glad that you missed me Brit, I had a litle jaunt around a small part of the Levant last week, and I missed you too. Now, with your quote above, you fail to recognise that it was the Protestant-unionists who excluded themselves, when they completely disregarded the will of the vast majority of the irish people. Furthermore your insistence that a group of people who are unhappy with the manner in which democracy works can form their own ‘nation’ or dictate to the vast majority means that areas such as tyrone, pockets like West Belfast etc are entitled to join the Republic, would you support this?”
    Not the Zionist entity I hope. You might have realised its inhabitants were mainly decent human beings like you (?) and me, rather than murderers, racists and monsters, which would no doubt have caused you some psychological trauma.

    A few substantive comments:-

    1. You seem to accept that the Protestant-Unionists are a nation.

    2. Your claims about the will of the vast majority of the Irish people seems inconsident with the election results in the Free State immediately after the Treaty which, when taken with the Unionist support in NE Ulster, constitued a clear majority which accepted partition.

    3. One interesting question is the extent to which the separateness of the Protestant Unionists, their non-Irishness or different Irishness, was their fault or the fault of the nature and practice of much Irish nationalism. It’s an intellectually interesting question but not one which has any particular merits in relation to current NI politics. A case must be made that the diminishing of Protestant Republicanism and Irishness was partly caused by the idea amongst nationalists that Prods were foreign and not British, by the Catholicisation of much Irish nationalism and by a level of sectarianism – in practice and ideology – by Irish nationalists. Including the IRA who shortly after partition committed some purely sectarian murders against Prods as Prods. Of course Orangeism, the failures on the part of Ulster Unionists, particularly the relatively more liberal amongst them and certain actions of the British government also play a part here.

    4. There are, of course, practical limitations on the right to self-determination. That the application of the valid principle to specific scenarios can prove difficult or even impossible does not invalid the general principle. In principle I would support re-partition along lines which best correlated concentrations of nationalists near the borders – although that would not be viable for West Belfast or a number of other signficant Catholic communities.

  • Brit

    Ok RS, I should have made myself clearer. What I meant to say was that it was not israel or the “Zionist Lobby” that ordered, influenced the US to go to war. The US was doing so in consideration of its own interests (although those interests were and are far broader than immediate selfish interests, self defence or economic benefits). Sometimes this is linked to a Jewish lobby and the fact that some neo-cons / Bush governement figures were Jews (some claimed as Jews were, in fact, not and the fact that about 80% of Jews didn’t vote for Bush is conveniently ignored).

    Now of course the chance of Saddam using or threatening a nuclear attack on Israel was an issue in assessing the dangers of Saddam. Such a development would likely lead to a massive nuclear conflict many millons of deaths and a massive escalation. This would be a humanitarian horror of holocaust like proportions and pose a huge risk to the world at large.

    Saddam might also have aided rogue elements in Pakistan or Al Queda or attacked other countries like Iran or Kuwait etc.

    The fact that Israelis wanted Saddam toppled is hardly surprising. He was a deranged genocidal totalitarian giant fiercly opposed to Israel, who had attacked neighbouring countries, murdered 100s of thousands of his countrymen, used chemical weapons, funded suicide terrorism and was believed to be developing WMDs. The quotes you include merely relfect this, rather than the fact that the US did it for Israel without considering its own interests.

    Interestingly your thesis is based on the implicit acceptance that the US and Israel did generally believe that Saddam was developing WMDs which sits at odds with the likes of Rory et all who harp on about Bush and Blair’s lies.

    As to “neo-Cons” I have no doubt that a Democrat administration would have invaded Iraq, and I would have loved the Democrats to have been in power at that time. We might then have seen a broader international consensus, a second UN resolution, a bigger progressive pro-war alliance and better planning and execution of the occuption. Bill Clintion said that he would have invaded Iraq at the Labour Party conference (before subsequently moving to an understandablly opportunist anti-Iraq war position). You will note that the current administration has not radically altered US foreign policy and is certainly not getting ready to pull of Afghanistan.

  • John

    Brit, I don’t have time to formulate a proper response to all of your points, but one of them stuck out for me:

    2. Your claims about the will of the vast majority of the Irish people seems inconsident with the election results in the Free State immediately after the Treaty which, when taken with the Unionist support in NE Ulster, constitued a clear majority which accepted partition.

    How fair is any election when the most powerful empire the world had ever seen threatens “immediate and terrible war” if the treaty was not ratified by those in the 26 counties?

  • Brit

    “How fair is any election when the most powerful empire the world had ever seen threatens “immediate and terrible war” if the treaty was not ratified by those in the 26 counties?”

    I dont have time to delve into the history books to properly identify the context of that quote (Asquith?) but I think it was during Treaty negotiations and I dont know if it was made publically to the electorate of Ireland. Furthermore all sorts of bluffs and threats were made by both sides, including threats of violence so I am not sure that is taken seriously.

    The truth was then as it has ever been that the Ulster Protestants were never going to accept coercion into the Republic – their expulsion from the UK. The British government was relatively neutral although less willing to let the Protestans fend for themselves post WW1.

    The other truth is that many Irish nationalists accepted, more or less expressly and openly, that the NE Ulster was to be treated differently and that whilst not ideal they would not countenance coercion of the Protestant community in that part of the island. The vote reflected this view rather than terror at being murdered by the Brits

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Not the Zionist entity I hope. You might have realised its inhabitants were mainly decent human beings like you (?) and me, rather than murderers, racists and monsters, which would no doubt have caused you some psychological trauma.’

    Actually yes Brit, I did venture round a bit of Israel. But unfortunately it was a let down. I had gone to visit an Israeli arab family who had recently been evicted from their home by the Israeli govt using some archaic Ottoman law, and had Israeli jews living in it, with the previous owners encamped in a tent across the street. After witnessing this and heading back up toward the Old City, an orthodox fella told me in a east european accent

    “Why don’t you go home your own country, comin over here make trouble !”

    Whereupon i couldn’t help but laugh. I did however meet with some nicer Israeli’s both arab and jew who were opposed to such policy and demolitions etc, unfortunately they are viewed as radical and subversive by the Israeli mainstream. However the welcome extended to foreginers in the West bank as far as my expeirence was, stood in stark contrast to that in Israel.

    ‘You seem to accept that the Protestant-Unionists are a nation.’

    No, i don’t. But then nobody has an agreed defintion of what exactly a ‘nation’ is. Mill tried it, as did Enest Renan. What is undeniable, is that the vast majority of the irish except the unionists saw themselves as a nation distinct from Britain, whereas unionists were happy to ruled by Britain, so one can only assume any sense of nationhood they had, was more to with obstructing and denying the nationality of others than expressing any kind of their own.

    Which you seem to admit with this….

    ‘The truth was then as it has ever been that the Ulster Protestants were never going to accept coercion into the Republic’

    So the unionists saw democracy as a coercion, but it was nowhere near the same coercion used to force Ireland into the union.

    Your paragraph number 3 does raise interesting points. But it seem you neglect to consider the level of for want of a better term ‘anti-native’ legislation which has been forced on Ireland by the british. im not sure if thats the point your making in the final sentence or if that refers to post-partition.

    As regards the second issue and the Iraq war, you seem to be conflating the Israel lobby with american judaism. Plus you also seem to be suggesting that the Israel lobby did not help to influence the decision to go to war, is that your contention?

    ‘Interestingly your thesis is based on the implicit acceptance that the US and Israel did generally believe that Saddam was developing WMDs which sits at odds with the likes of Rory et all who harp on about Bush and Blair’s lies.’

    Not at all Brit, unless you actually believe that what politicians say in public are the same as those they discuss in private.
    The record also shows the neo-cons (I know you hate that term…so apologies) had Iraq in their sights quite a while before the pseudo-texan came to office. So your original contention that Israel and the neo-cons as regards the Iraq war is itself devoid of merit.

  • DW

    Beauty and tragedy in global network of war graves
    Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Echoes of the British Empire linger in the cemeteries of those who died for Britain and its dominions in the two world wars, and who are honored every Nov. 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I. The graves, scattered around the world, are tenderly preserved as reminders of history at its most appalling. Associated Press correspondents visited some of them. It is the British empire of the dead.

    Scattered across 150 countries and managed from a modest office building near London’s Heathrow Airport, a global patchwork of graveyards constitutes a beautiful memorial to the ugliest carnage: the 1.7 million fighting men and women who died for Britain and its dominions in the world wars of the last century.

    http://www.thereporteronline.com/articles/2009/11/10/life/doc4af95d6eec9a1404275222.txt

  • Brit

    “After witnessing this and heading back up toward the Old City, an orthodox fella told me in a east european accent

    “Why don’t you go home your own country, comin over here make trouble !”

    Whereupon i couldn’t help but laugh”

    How did he know you were ‘making trouble’ so to speak? Did you have a Hezbollah T-shirt on or something? Please not a keffiyah. An Irishman in one of those is not a good look.

    On a more seroious note I would note that there have been Orthodox Jews ( I presume you actually mean ultra Orthodox / Haredi – ie Black Hat )in Jerusalem for thousands of years. And as for East European accent there basically been no East European Jews since the end of WW2 so he must have been bloody old if he still retained his Polish (?) accent.

    And assuming he did hail from such a place (as opposed to, say, Brooklyn) then you surely dont think Poland would be any kind of homeland to return back to do you?

    Next time go to Tel Aviv, forget your politics for a couple of days, have a nice meal, go for some beers, make some friends and go to some clubs /pubs and if you are single see if you can hook up with a nice Israeli girl (or boy). It will give you a better understanding of the reality of Israeli behind the demonized concept of the Entity.

  • Thanks everyone for responding to this post – it’s been interesting. A few things occur to me. There’s that poem (Wilfrid Owen?) who talked about the corpses of soldiers killed and buried abroad saying something along the lines of ‘there is always a corner of some foreign field that will be forever England.’

    Then there’s Brendan Behan’s ‘The Hostage’ – I think, a beautiful under-rated work with a heartbreaking ending. Behan saw the Tommy as being at least as much a victim of, as a tool of British imperialism. These were the poor, sent out to fight and die in a war that was of no benefit to themm.

    And then Alan Silitoe’s observation that the massive number of young men that were killed in WW1 and – consequently – were not around at the point that the industrial working class was maturing to a revolutionary point (1917-22 was a remarkably revolutionary period in European history) – as he put it, ‘The Battle of Waterloo may have been won on the playing field of Eton, but we lost the class war on the fields of Flanders’ (apologies – that’s a paraphrase – I can’t find the original text – from memory it’s in ‘Raw Material’)

    My argument is that remembrance is an issue that transcends nationality and ‘whataboutery’ – it’s about acknowledging something that would go largely unconsidered otherwise: That states use service men and women as their tools and they often do it in a brutal in ill-considered manner. Even the most jingoistic Britisher would concede that and it must surely be the starting point for anyone who wants to be critical of Britain’s record abroad.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Stones/Brit,

    Interesting argument you’re having. As I see it…

    Republicans justify their right to a Republic based on the 1918 election as they won a majority of the seats in Ireland – a subset of the overall result.

    However, Unionists will point out that it was actually the Conservative and Unionist party that won the election and therefore it passes that the UK should not have been partitioned.

    Looking at it in an all Ireland basis the roles are reversed – Republicans deny the right of Unionists to self determination based on a subset of the overall result, something they demanded in 1918. Unionists on the other hand now think the result in a subset, NI, should be recognised.

    Really, it’s Gerrymandering by both sides trying to define the electoral boundary to achieve their preferred outcome.

    The only fair solution would be to come up with a system that works regardless of electoral boundaries. How you would do that tho would be difficult…

    Personally, I’d suggest canonisation on an all Ireland proportional representation vote. So say unionists get 20% of the vote they get to choose 20% of the canons in order dependent of votes.

    Fek, it’d be better than Risk and Monoply combined!

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘How did he know you were ‘making trouble’ so to speak?’

    He probably didn’t like the SLR camera I had slung round my neck. And orthodox as a term is fine. You do not have to be ‘ultra’ to wear the traditional dress. And as regards there ‘basically been no East European Jews since the end of WW2’ the fact there are small jewish communities in eastern europe, like Latvia for instance, to this day, would disagree with you.

    Im sure Brit you can see the irony in a visitor to Israel, upon witnessing the rather seedy underhanded manner in which that state treats many of its indigenous population, being told to go home to his own country by a citizen of that state, who like me, wasn’t indigenous either.

    ‘Next time go to Tel Aviv, forget your politics for a couple of days, have a nice meal, go for some beers, make some friends and go to some clubs /pubs and if you are single see if you can hook up with a nice Israeli girl (or boy). It will give you a better understanding of the reality of Israeli behind the demonized concept of the Entity.’

    I did have a nice meal, i had some beers (Taybeh, lovely little beer) and made some very inspirational friends in the West Bank. As regards your suggestion, no thanks, it would be like being taken on a tour of south africa sights during the apartheid era, all the while having the uncomfortable feeling of knowing that this is just a facade this state puts on for the outside world. Frankly, im a little surprised that you, someone who claims to be from the left would suggest such a thing. The reality of Israel is that it demonizes itself.

  • Sean

    RS

    Brit works for the Israeli’s and presumably is one, an irony considering his nom de plume

  • “Personally, I’d suggest canonisation on an all Ireland proportional representation vote. So say unionists get 20% of the vote they get to choose 20% of the canons in order dependent of votes.”

    It’s a really good point about 1918 / Conservative & Unionist government in Britain.

    The thing that cuts across your suggestions is the unwritten obligation in a liberal democracy that you don’t oppress minorities. Whether refusing to acknowledge national aspirations (either the British towards the Irish, or the Irish towards a rejectionist Unionism) counts as ‘oppression’ is a further complication.

  • Brit

    “RS

    Brit works for the Israeli’s and presumably is one, an irony considering his nom de plume”

    Covers blown…damn.

    “Im sure Brit you can see the irony in a visitor to Israel, upon witnessing the rather seedy underhanded manner in which that state treats many of its indigenous population, being told to go home to his own country by a citizen of that state, who like me, wasn’t indigenous either.”

    Well if anyone is indegenous to Israel / Palestine its an orthodox Jew in Jerusalem’s old City? I suspect strongly that the individual you saw was not born in Eastern Europe and if he was it was totally aytpical for an Israeli Jew. Presumably even those whose grantparents were born there arent indeginous enough for you (given that even the Prods 300 years is not enough).

    Anyway you will have heard the story of the Jew who in Eastern Europe in the 20s and 30s was told to go back to Palestine and in the 50s and onwards was told to get out of Palestine/Israel and go back home to Eastern Europe! Though of course many Israelis are immediate and direct descendents of Jews from middle eastern countries.

    If being native is so important to you (strange for someone on the Left) then surely you accept that Jews were there before Muslim and Christian “Palestinians”?

    Sadly travel does not always broaden the mind

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Well if anyone is indegenous to Israel / Palestine its an orthodox Jew in Jerusalem’s old City?’

    Does that mean, i as a catholic am indigenous to the vatican?

    ‘I suspect strongly that the individual you saw was not born in Eastern Europe and if he was it was totally aytpical for an Israeli Jew.’

    So why did he have an east european accent? You’ll be able to tell me Im sure, after all, you seem to know everything.

    ‘Presumably even those whose grantparents were born there arent indeginous enough for you (given that even the Prods 300 years is not enough).’

    Please expalin that. Where did I ever claim protestants today are not indigenous to the north?

    ‘Anyway you will have heard the story of the Jew who in Eastern Europe in the 20s and 30s was told to go back to Palestine…’

    Can’t say i have.

    ‘If being native is so important to you (strange for someone on the Left) then surely you accept that Jews were there before Muslim and Christian “Palestinians”?’

    Judaism the religion certainly was. But its pretty pathetic to try and portray palestinian muslims and christians as interlopers. Palestinians are not descended from Arabia or Yemen. How do you think islam and christianity spread without jewish converts? The point you tried to make there Brit, falls flat on its ass as regards historical reality is concerned. And i would have expected a little more cop on from you.
    I think its pretty obvious who needs their mind broadened.

  • Brit

    Where the accent came from is a big mystery to me RS, but if I had been trying to create a good anecdote to illustrate the “foreignness” of Israeli Jews in the “Entity” – to underscore your colonial/occupier narrative – I would have plumped for a Brookyn accent.

    “However, Unionists will point out that it was actually the Conservative and Unionist party that won the election and therefore it passes that the UK should not have been partitioned.”

    Paul my argument is not based on giving any weight to those in mainland Britain. My primary argument is that the celtic Catholic Irish nation had no right to determine the national – constitutional status of the British Protestants (ie to expel them from the UK). My secondary argument is that there is a reasonably good argument that at the time of partition a majority on the island of Ireland accepted / supported partition.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Where the accent came from is a big mystery to me RS’

    As it should be, because you didn’t hear it, and as i did, it was most defintely east european (even though you seem to think there have been no jews in eastern europe for over 60 years!!!!!). I wonder Brit if you could tell me your secret which enables you to know everything, even to the extent of complete strangers personal encounters.

    ‘but if I had been trying to create a good anecdote to illustrate the “foreignness” of Israeli Jews in the “Entity” – to underscore your colonial/occupier narrative – I would have plumped for a Brookyn accent.’

    As well you might, if YOU were going to make something up. But im not into lying (which you rather childishly infer), so i merely reported the accent the guy had. Happy?

  • Brit

    Your story had a ring of untruth to it RS because there has been no substantial immigration to Israel from eastern Europe for about 60 years. There are three possible explanations for that:-

    1. You were mistaken about the accent (perhaps it was Russian or perhaps you mistook the more mittel European accent of some native born Israelis as sounding Eastern European)

    2. It was a weird atypical incident – a rabbi from Kracow on a trip to Israel?

    3. You were lying.

    I’ve no reason to think you are a liar so I assume it was either 1. or 2.

  • Rory Carr

    Well done, Brit, Republican Stones’s experience does not suit your narrative so the experience must be negated in order that your imagined narrative may survive.

    It is no wonder New Labour, apparatchniks and dupes alike, were so willing to swallow the nonsense of the “20 minutes to doomsday” fabrication that allowed you all to cheer on an illegal invasion of a sovereign state.

    “If no truth can serve my will then justify me with lies” – that could be your motto. All is to be fitted to your reckless determination and the only truth is that which serves your purpose.

    There is a chilling echo of the self justifying thought processes of the SS officer, Dr Maximillian Aue in Jonathan Littell’s novel, The Kindly Ones in the way in which you can so blithely brush aside anything whatsoever that might contradict your own justification of the most gruesome war crimes so far committed in this century.

    I worry for you. I really do.

  • Brit

    Wow I have been accused of being an Israeli agent and having similar thought processes to the SS on this thread.

    I never thought that Saddam’s weapons posed a direct and immediate threat to me sitting in London and that was never part of my decision to support the Iraq war. The legal status of the invasion is moot and adds nothing substantive to the moral status. You may believe in fetishising the sovereignty of states and allowing genocidal dictators to get on with it but know that puts you in the same camp as Kissinger and the realists.

    And as you know I strongly dispute that the US or UK have committed serious war crimes.

  • Rory Carr

    And as you know I strongly dispute that the US or UK have committed serious war crimes.

    I know, Brit, it is this very denial that worries me about you. It is as though you consider the dead, the mutilated, the tortured, the raped, those falsely imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay and other hell-holes as somehow less than deserving of any thought, as they they were as untermenschen, less than human.

    It seems that criticism of or opposition to Israeli policy and that of those states who operate in its interests you regard with the same sense of refusal that Dr. Aue in Littell’s novel applied to any opposition to the will of the Third Reich. As I said before – chilling!

  • Brit

    Rory drop the man playing and the wholly unsubstantiated (and false) implications as to my emotions.

    The US and allies targetted combatants(in what I believe to be just wars) and tried to prevent or avoid civillian deaths. There was not a general policy of torture, rape or murder (in contrast to the Baathist regime)but of course individual crimes were committed which were disgraceful and in some cases the perpetrators were punished.

    My support for the invasion was based in large part on a concern for the well being and an assessment of the views of the Iraqi people. You may find that outlandish but it is true and your suggestion that I think Iraqis are less than human is as offensive as it is untrue.

    Putting aside the stupidity and inappropriateness of making an analogy between opposition to Israel and opposition to the Third Reich, I strongly oppose Israeli policies in relation to the settlements and am not a supporter of the current government. I also criticise strongly those aspects of recent US policy such as torture, extraorindary rendition and holding suspects without charge.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘I’ve no reason to think you are a liar so I assume it was either 1. or 2.’

    So why on earth even bring it up or infer it?????

    It was east european, yet you first claimed there have been no jews in eastern europe since WW2 which was incorrect. Now you’ve amended it to ‘there has been no substantial immigration’

    And finally you go semantic in another vain effort to de-legitimise my encounter, claiming, I got the accent wrong perhaps, maybe its Russian. Brit the fact is, it did happen, and it seems you’ll go all out to prove it didn’t, your defence of Israel is such, you’re willing to make a bit of a wally out of yourself.

    P.S It occurred just off Nablus Rd, perhaps you’d now like to correct me on the location of the event as well.

  • Brit

    “you first claimed there have been no jews in eastern europe since WW2”

    I actually said that “there basically been no East European Jews since the end of WW2” which despite the poor grammar was meant to indicate that there was no sizeable Jewish community in Eastern Europe at the momement (and for several decades) not that the entire part of the continent was judenfrei.

    There was accordingly no change in my position when I subsequently said that there has been ‘there has been no substantial immigration’ from that part of the world in recent decades.
    Having now looked at the figures I must say I am surprised at the size of the Jewish population in the Ukraine and other baltic states – which is a lot bigger than I had assumed. I was grouping them with the Russian population as all were part of the USSR?
    See the interesting table below in the section entitled ‘statistics’

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aliyah#Statistics

    In terms of Jews making aliyah, emmigrating to Israel, in the last 20 years they come mainly from the USA, France, Argenina, Russia, Canada or Britain.
    I’m just trying to put your story into context to prevent you or others drawing false conclusions (this is, after all what the IDF pay me to do)

  • RepublicanStones

    My encounter did not need to be put into context. The fact you think it did says more about you, plus I love the bit about you putting someone elses encounters into context for them to prevent them drawing false conclusions, very noble. And considering your approach to Israel, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were hasbara schooled 😉

  • Brit

    Its strange to me, indeed disturbing, how many on the anti-Zionist or rabid anti-Israeli side of politics assume that any opponent of theirs, anyone who defends Israel, or tries to apply some consistency and comparative analysis in relation to criticisms of the state, is a liar, apropagandist, a tool of Zionism or part of some concerted effort to hide the crimes of the Entity.

    This extends to those like me who acknowledge and regret the great sufferings of the Palestinians, recognise their right to self-deterination through a nation state, are highly critical of major aspects of Israeli policy including conduct in the War of Independence, the establishment of settlements in Gaza (now gone) and the West Bank, of Sharon’s war in Lebanon, and to a lesser extent the conduct of the recent incursions into Lebanon.

    That assumption reflects the received wisdom of the almost unique the evil of Israel and a kind of outraged astonishment that anyone could dare to say anything postive or mitigating – as if it were akin to defending Stalin, Hitler etc (indeed the likes of Seamus Milne in the Guardian do defend Stalinism without being attack so virulently). As if no one of honesty or integrity could possibly not share their analysis of the imperialist racist occupiers and dispossesors. The idea that people pose as indepedents but are secretly part of some concerted secret conspiracy is paranoid and mirrors a central plank of classic modern anti-semitism.

    The truth is that there are plenty of people who are to a greater or lesser extent pro Israel or pro Zionist, or who at least reject the paradigm of the anti-Zionist left, not because they are part of a concerted lobby or work for the Israeli government but because it is an honestly and legitimately held view. The likes of Mitchell Cohen, Michael Walzer, Norm Geras are all eminent Professors of Politics, from solidly socialist perspectives, who whilst a million miles away from the likes of Dershozitz and mad Mel, are ultimately defenders of Israel.

    Your hasbara comment was a joke no doubt but I can confirm that I am not an Israeli agent (paid or un-paid), nor part of any Zionist lobby (formal or informal) and that bar a few Israeli friends I have to selfish strategic interest in the security or well being of that state.

  • Brit

    That last line should read “no” selfish strategic interest (and yes I am aware where the phrase comes from)

  • RepublicanStones

    Good for you Brit, but sad to see you raise the spectre of ‘anti-semitism’ again. The hasbara programme is not some secret conspiracy either. Its a concerted public relations effort by the Israeli govt, which among other things encourages ‘participation in media “watch” groups.’

    Of course people are free to espouse zionism, (and when we speak of zionism, unfortunately we are not talking of Ahad Ha’am’s culutral variety), we are speaking about the zionism which the State of Israel espouses, which is deeply unsavoury. Perhaps you agree with the noble sentiments in the Israeli Artists Decleration of 2002…

    “If the state of Israel aspires to perceive itself as a democracy, it should abandon once and for all, any legal and ideological foundation of religious, ethnic, and demographic discrimination. The state of Israel should strive to become the state of all its citizens. We call for the annulment of all laws that make Israel an apartheid state, including the Jewish law of return in its present form”

  • Brit

    Its sad that so many people see Israel and Zionism through a prism which shares much with classical anti-semitic conspiracy theories RS, esp when they claim to be on the Left. Though Left wing anti-semitism (or more accurately anti-semitism by those on the left) is sadly nothing new from Bakunin to Marx to Stalin and the likes of Counterpunch today.

    Dont blame the messenger.

    I agree with the first two sentences of the declaration but obvoiusly not the last.

    Since you like quotes here is one for you

    “Freedom of speech is not just the freedom to express or hear views acceptable to all. Freedom of speech is also the freedom to express dangerous, obnoxious and perverse views, that the public abhors … It includes also the freedom to racist expression and the concept that the racist public finds solace in the freedom of speech is not to be accepted as it is a threat to democracy. The belief that freedom of speech covers also extreme and racist views applies especially to the freedom of a political party participating in the parliamentary process.”

  • Brit

    And a more aposite one from the same source:-

    “Indeed, only a national homeland built on the foundations of equality and human dignity can stand the test of time; only a nation that treats all of its children equally can hope to be considered an enlightened, free nation; and only a nation that is founded on equality can live in peace.”

    “There is no doubt that Israel is a Jewish state according to its tradition, symbols and holidays, its language and culture, and other indications that make it a Jewish state. But as an enlightened nation, it must recognize and relate to all of its citizens as equals, even if they belong to a non-Jewish minority”

  • RepublicanStones

    Why do you ‘obviously’ not agree with the last sentence of the decleration? Which part do you dislike?

    It seems yet again Brit, you have raised the spectre of anti-semitism into a discussion about Israel and zionism, without either protagonist being an anti-semite. Which goes to prove one of my points from a previous tete a tete of ours. That being, that even when there is not a whiff of anti-semitism surrounding someone who is critical of Israel or Zionism, his or her opponent (who quite obviously supports Israel and Zionism) will in many instances manage to shoehorn in the spectre of ‘anti-semitism’. You have just perfectly demonstrated that tendency with your last few posts.

    Regarding your freedom of speech quote. As i have already agreed, people are free to espouse zionism, just as others can espouse fascism. But others are also free to describe it as an unsavoury ideology too.

    Regarding your second quote, it seems to share the sentiments of the Artists decleration, however, I fear he is jumping the gun in describing Israel as ‘an enlightened nation’.

  • Brit

    The second quote above is from from the president of the Supreme Court of the ‘Entity’. The first is from a judgment of that court.

    Not the kind of thing that any court in Hamas controlled Gaza is ever going to say. Nor indeed the courts of any nation in that region apart from the “most evil state in the world ever”TM

    I disagree with the final part of the declaration above as it contends that Israel is an apartheid state. I think the claim is either deeply ignorant or deliberatly dishonest (and I am not inviting your comments on that issue just answering your question). Nor can I accept the repeal of the law of return.

    I was not alleging anti-semitism on your part, still less contending that it invalidated or de-legitimised your views (though I consider them to be invalid and illegitimate for other reasons). I was making a separate point based on my view that anti-semitism is a real and large problem and has infected much of the anti-Israel anti-Zionist discourse.

    Your earlier contention – in an previous thread – was not that Zionists are overly concerned with anti-semitism amongst anti-Zionists and go on about it all the time, but that( in repeating the Livingstone formulation beloved of anti-zionists) Zionists dishonestly used the charge of anti-semitism to stifle debate and criticism. Nothing I did could remotely fit within that description.

    The fact that ‘Sean’ wrote that I was an Israeli and paid by them or some such was one example of the very common phenonmena so it was relevant to this thread and a legitimate topic.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Not the kind of thing that any court in Hamas controlled Gaza is ever going to say.’

    Ahh here we go. themmuns are worse argument. Tell me, does hamas get billions each year from the America? Do they claim to be embodying wetsaern values of democracy, do they call themselves a beacon etc?

    ‘I disagree with the final part of the declaration above as it contends that Israel is an apartheid state. I think the claim is either deeply ignorant or deliberatly dishonest (and I am not inviting your comments on that issue just answering your question). Nor can I accept the repeal of the law of return.’

    Israel is an apartheid state. Many jews who live there admit this. Like those work for ICHAD for instance. Why on earth can you not accept a repeal of the law of return? Why should foreigners be given rights to live somewhere just because their reliion started ther? But Palestinians ethnically cleansed still cannot return? And you claim it is not an apartheid stat?

    ‘(though I consider them to be invalid and illegitimate for other reasons)’

    Please do tell, lets see who has the moral compass pointed in the right direction.

    ‘I was making a separate point based on my view that anti-semitism is a real and large problem and has infected much of the anti-Israel anti-Zionist discourse. ‘

    Why on earth did you feel the need to bring it up? Is anti-Arab racisim brought up by those critical of Israel with the frequency that anti-semitism is dredged up by israeli supporters like you?

    ‘Your earlier contention – in an previous thread – was not that Zionists are overly concerned with anti-semitism amongst anti-Zionists and go on about it all the time, but that( in repeating the Livingstone formulation beloved of anti-zionists) Zionists dishonestly used the charge of anti-semitism to stifle debate and criticism. Nothing I did could remotely fit within that description.’

    It does fit perfectly. You brought up anti-semitism into our discussion surrounding Israel without any need to whatsoever. You can deny that it doesn’t fit the pattern, but its there for all to see.

    ‘The fact that ‘Sean’ wrote that I was an Israeli and paid by them or some such was one example of the very common phenonmena so it was relevant to this thread and a legitimate topic.’

    Not it wasn’t relevant. hasbara is a concerted campaign by the Israeli govt, to bring it up is not anti-semitic, so sorry, but you had absolutely no reason to raise the spectre.