Thursday, December 21, 2006

Respectcoalition: Muslims Need To Take Part

Posted this earlier in response to Cllr Salma Yaqoob (Respect) who has a Comment is Free piece today.

There is an interesting animated history map of the region which I referred to here yesterday having been put on to it by Iain Dale.

In essence I agree with Salma Yaqoob that everyone should take an interest in, recognise, and take part in Holocaust Memorial Day. Each of us can consider the historic and present day killings we choose as well as the Holocaust itself and by our being together with others with their own various priorities of memory we can unite together in condemning these killings and in working together to end the Might Makes Right meme.

Martin Amis wrote this a few days after 11 September 2001 coming up with the concept of "species consciousness" which I empathised with. I don't think I've ever read one of his books, and he is a bit of a loose cannon at times in interviews, but that was I think a useful thought.

Being a member of Labour Against The War which was set up in 2001, and a supporter of Unite Against Fascism and other campaigns I often work together with members of Respect and the independent left, occasionally speak on platforms with them when no one better at it is available, march with them, welcome asylum seekers with them.

But at times this is difficult. Protesting against Israeli strafeing (the word means punishing by the way) of targets in Southern Lebanon is one thing. But I do not support the placards or chants of "We are all Hezbollah now" or "From the river to the sea" any more than I support the ritual manic Zionist counter demonstration. Except on free speech grounds. But can't people of good will sometimes exercise their freedom to hold their tongues?

So often we hear the same discourse from all sides. It boils down to: "We're right and you're wrong. Talk is not getting us anywhere. Might makes right. So take that." The kind of "Freedom" which means ten people can make five people do whatever they like is a horrendous kind of freedom.

Now a digression. I reached Salma's comment via this unrelated item on the Respect website. I think this helps illustrate the problem which this coalition faces. They claim: New Labour in Tower Hamlets supports Sexploitation. But this claim is not supported by the facts they give.

Five weeks ago (but this is new on the news page!) the Labour Group voted not to debate an opposition motion. An entirely different matter. There are few ruling groups of any colour that pass opposition motions as submitted. Generally these are amended out of existence or procedurally stymied.

Another such case may comes along when the Preston Respect group of one tries to debate Trident today. Perhaps not. We'll see. But this was I think part of what was going on when a popular call for an Iraq enquiry, but from nationalist parties didn't make its quota. With George Galloway I think sadly among the absentees. Again.

If and when Respect have a significant part in a ruling coalition - perhaps one day with the Tories in Tower Hamlets eh Salma? - they will be in the position where their side gets to decide whether to debate the motion from the Greens, the Lib Dems or indeed Labour. Or not. Whether they agree with the sentiments or not chances are that they too will amend beyond recognition or also procedurally stymie.


Manchester University Labour Club said...

Thats a fairly good piece by Salma but one part makes me really uncomfortable. How on earth has the memory of the Holocaust been abused to bolster support for the Israeli state? Frankly that is complete crap.

Also I agree with u abt working with all elements of the left. But last year when we did a HMD event at the union which Cllr Jim spoke very well at. It turned into well lets sod the holocaust and spend a couple of ours talking about the BNP. Thats the only issue I have, is there any need to link all these issues together?

Manchester University Labour Club said...

Oh and before I get any abuse. I certainly don't believe in spreading democracy through dropping bombs. I was also as disgusted as everyone else when Israel ripped the hell out of the Palestinians infrastructure during the lebanon crisis.

Chris Paul said...

[controversy] Thanks soft socialist. I think it may be true that there are tendancies within the zionist side of the argument who will - as someone said in the commentisfree arena - use the holocaust as a sword and shield to protect Zion and excuse their worst excesses. [/controversy]

In my view the same collective memory and that of their whole wandering race history should instead give them a real fellow feeling with displaced and racially targeted groups. I'm sure that is the case with very many Jews and Israelis.

And incidentally during the 2003 local elections when we were about to take a humungous bloody nose for Blair over Iraq I found that muslim people of all schisms would volunteer their empathy for jews. I just wish this was understood and reciprocated. And also extended from the older generations of sunnis, shiites and wahabbis to the young and fairly secular-but-angry hotheads.

Globally muslims and arabs must be considered to be bearing the brunt of a great deal of pain, including in Britain today. Certainly they have displaced generic blacks, irish and jews as the prime targets of the NF and BNP.

And most of the places where American hegemony chooses to throw its weight are predominantly muslim countries and regions.

In that sense an assault on the godless communists on North korea would make a pleasant change.

And of course the media and the political elites don't help on these matters. But as you have proscribed making this connection I'll leave it there for now.

I don't know the figures myself but what would be your guess on the proportion of asylum seekers in this country who are muslim?

My first hand impression is that in Manchester a large proportion of asylum seekers are not Muslim and to be specific Christians from Africa, Europe and indeed the Middle East. We wouldn't get that impression though from the media or the elite now would we?