Google+ Followers

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

New Labour Supports Benefit Attacks and ‘Welfare Reforms’

Catt Reilly outside the Royal Courts of Justice
On 12th February 2013, a student Cat Reilly and a lorry driver Jamieson Wilson successfully took the government to court.  They argued that the benefit sanctions as being implemented were unlawful.  The Court of Appeal agreed.  Highly unusually, the Government immediately passed legislation of a retrospective nature, i.e. makes what wasn’t unlawful lawful.  Because this is like changing time and creates uncertainty as to what the law is, if an offence can suddently not become an offence, or something which is not an offence suddenty becomes a crime.  

Retrospective legislation is therefore very rare and it was only with the co-operation of the spineless Labour leadership under Ed Milliband that it was passed.

This raises another, wider problem.  Between all 3 major political parties there is barely a hair difference.  All three support neo-liberalism and the erosion of the NHS and Welfare State.  Indeed it can genuinely said that there is nothing New Labour did that the Tories/Lib. Dems haven’t continued.

Tony Greenstein
Ian Duncan-Smith, who ducked the challenge to try and live on £53 a week
the first Attlee government

Britain needs a new political party that rejects neoliberal policies and improves the lives of ordinary people

Posted: 29 Mar 2013

Clement Attlee, British Prime Minister 1945-51 
As the age of austerity bites harder and deeper than many anticipated, it is little wonder that Ken Loach's new film The Spirit of '45,  charting the great post-war social advances, strikes a powerful chord. Yet the promise of opportunity, dignity, health and work, fulfilled by Labour's welfare state after 1945, is not to be one that we can look to today's Labour party for. Yet contemporary Britain – and beyond – is precisely where such policies are needed.
Ken Loach
Austerity is wreaking economic catastrophe on Europe, most recently on the people of Cyprus, but George Osborne is still following the same disastrous policies. Last week's budget came as no surprise: Osborne announced yet more spending cuts and extended the public sector's pay rise cap, amounting to a real terms pay cut. He's digging us even further into an economic hole, as the Office for Budget Responsibility's revised output forecast shows – from a predicted 1.2% growth down to 0.6%. That sounds like further decline, not the promised growth, and ordinary people are paying the price. The virulence of the government's economic attacks knows no bounds: Atos, workfare, council tax, the bedroom tax – punitive policies against the most vulnerable in society.
Catt Reilly outside slave labour employers Poundland
Judged by its own stated goals, government policy isn't working – borrowing will be around £61.5bn higher than planned. Of course the reality is that austerity policies are actually designed to dismantle the welfare state, bring down wages and fully marketise the economy, destroying all the social and economic gains of ordinary people since the second world war. So from the government point of view the policies are working.

Across society, there is an increasing understanding of the government's real agenda and as a result, opposition is mounting and economic alternatives are being discussed. Only last week, the Guardian published a letter from over 60 economists, warning that the worst was yet to come with 80% of the cuts still ahead of us.

Yet while economic alternatives are articulated, where can we turn politically to see these expressed as party policy? Who is on our side, to fight for an alternative? In the past many expected the Labour party to stand for us, and with us, but no longer. Workfare? Last week Labour abstained on the vote  and now the government can work over quarter of a million jobseekers. Bedroom tax? Would a Labour government repeal it?

We need policies that reject Tory cuts, regenerate the economy and improve the lives of ordinary people. We are not getting this from Labour. There is no doubt that some of Labour's past achievements have been remarkable – the welfare state, the NHS; a redistributive economy making unprecedented levels of health and education possible. But such achievements are in the past. Now Labour embraces cuts and privatisation and is dismantling its own great work. Labour has failed us. Nothing shows the contrast more clearly than The Spirit of '45.

Poundland - one of the shops benefiting from free labour
Labour is not alone in its shift rightwards and its embrace of neoliberal economic policies. Its sister parties across Europe have taken the same path over the past two decades. Yet elsewhere in Europe, new parties and coalitions – such as Syriza in Greece or Die Linke in Germany – have begun to fill the left space, offering an alternative political, social and economic vision. The anomaly which leaves Britain without a left political alternative – one defending the welfare state, investing for jobs, homes and education, transforming our economy – has to end. For this reason we are calling on people to join the discussion on forming a new party of the left – you can find out more about our appeal here. The working class cannot remain without political representation, without defence, when all its victories and advances are being destroyed.

Ken Loach, Kate Hudson and Gilbert Achcar

Labour 'pressed MPs to abstain on welfare vote'

MPs put under 'significant pressure' by party leaders to abstain on crucial vote, says outgoing parliamentary private secretary

Shiv Malik and Hugh Mui,, Sunday 24 March 2013

The bill, which seeks to overturn a court appeal ruling on the Poundland case, is expected to be passed into law this week. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

Labour's frontbench team put "significant pressure" on MPs to abstain during a crucial vote on emergency retrospective welfare legislation, a recently resigned parliamentary private secretary has told the Guardian.

Ian Mearns MP said he voted against the government's jobseekers (back-to-work schemes) bill on Tuesday because he thought the unemployed were already suffering enough from "Kafkaesque" benefit sanction decisions made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The fast-tracked bill, which seeks to overturn the outcome of a court appeal ruling on the Poundland case, is expected to be passed into law early this week.

It will ensure that the DWP no longer has to pay £130m in benefit sanction rebates to 250,000 jobseekers by retrospectively making lawful regulations deemed unlawful by three senior judges since February.

Mearns said that after passing through the Commons' no lobby he sent a text to his former boss, the shadow secretary for international development, Ivan Lewis, and the party's chief whip, Rosie Winterton, saying he had resigned.

"I was under no illusions that I would be sacked if I voted against the party wishes. So immediately on having gone through the no lobby and having voted against the government bill, I then texted both the chief whip and the shadow secretary of state for international development … to say, with a heavy heart, I resign."

"Among 43 or 44 Labour MPs who voted [against the bill], I was the one who had the PPS position. But I know a significant amount of pressure was brought to bear on other colleagues in similar positions.

"There were an awful lot of people who were clearly unhappy … well over half of the parliamentary Labour party were clearly uncomfortable with the position that was taken by the leadership,"
Mearns said.

The Gateshead MP said that during last Monday's weekly meeting of the parliamentary Labour party "there wasn't a single person in the room who spoke in agreement with the position being put forward by the leadership team".

His description of the meeting was confirmed by other MPs who did not want to be named.

Mearns said the rebellion by over 40 Labour MPs included a former chief whip, Nick Brown, former housing minister John Healey and a former junior minister, Derek Twigg.

"These people aren't the usual suspects. I think the frontbench had their reasons [for wanting everyone to abstain from voting] but I must admit, I still don't completely understand why we were put into that position in the first instance."

One Labour source said the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, had not wanted to lose fiscal credibility on the eve of the budget by being seen to be favouring a £130m payout to benefit claimants.

Mearns criticised his own shadow frontbench for misunderstanding the nature of the benefit sanctions regime.

"It just seems to me that our frontbench stance is that everybody who's been guilty of some sort of [benefit] infringement and had a sanction against them since 2011 is someone swinging the lead or taking a political stance," he said.

"Gosh, I really do wish there were that many thousands of people who were willing to take a political stance and lose benefits for the sake of putting a marker down against workfare … I just don't think that's the case at all."

Mearns spoke as disgruntled Labour MPs prepared to vent more rage at Monday's planned meeting of the parliamentary Labour party. Many who obeyed the order to abstain anticipate an angry reaction from union backers and activists in their constituencies. "There is a lot of anger still because we were forced to do something that we knew was wrong," he said.

Ed Miliband is not expected to attend the meeting but a source said Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary and target of much ire, is likely to be, adding: "The feeling is that left to his own devices we would consistently be voting with the Tories. We urgently need to develop a distinctively Labour approach on welfare and not just keep following the Tories."

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

When they have 'served' their country i.e. Exxon or Halliburton They are Discarded

Letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a Dying US army veteran of Iraq War.

Tomas Young Cuellar

Below is a very moving letter from a dying veteran of Iraq to George Bush, whose lies took the US into a war whose aim was the maintenance of the US’s oil supplies rather than ‘democracy’ or upholding human rights.  Indeed we have a situation now where torture is worse, there are numerous petty tyrants, one of the highest rates of executions in the world and, as is always the case with imperialism, a divide and rule legacy.  


In this case hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in a sectarian war that the US deliberately created in order to the heat off itself.

Not only are the sunni-shi’ite conflicts, but regular attacks on the Christian community and other minority faiths and of course the remnants of the Jewish faith have all but been driven out.

Tony Greenstein

"You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage."
To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.
chief war criminal
Partner-in-crime Dick Cheney

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes.

The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

Tomas Young.

30 March 2013 Last updated at 04:58

Tomas Young: Suicidal veteran takes parting shot at Bush 

By Martin Vennard BBC World Service

An Iraq war veteran who lost the use of his legs in the conflict has decided to end his life. Tomas Young has also written a letter to former President George W Bush and ex-Vice-President Dick Cheney, accusing them of being responsible for what happened to him and others injured and killed in Iraq.

When President Bush stood on the rubble of Ground Zero just after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and pledged to go after those responsible, Tomas Young, 22, took up the call and joined the US Army.

But instead of being deployed to Afghanistan to fight al-Qaeda and its allies, he ended up in Iraq in 2004 following Saddam Hussein's capture by coalition forces.

On the fifth day into his deployment, Mr Young's unit came under fire from insurgents in Baghdad. He was hit and his spine was severed.

Continue reading the main story   

“Start Quote

It's not that he wants to die - he simply doesn't want to suffer any more.”

Claudia Cuellar Tomas Young's wife

After his return to the US he campaigned from his wheelchair against the conflict and in 2007 was the subject of a documentary, Body of War.

But now his condition has deteriorated to such an extent that he wants to put an end to his suffering.

"He felt he's gone as far as his physical shell will take him and he is ready to rest," his wife, Claudia Cuellar, tells BBC World Service, speaking on his behalf because he has difficulty talking and tires easily.

"We accepted a certain level of suffering," she says. But last year his pain and discomfort increased dramatically and he grew weary of repeated hospital visits to treat infections and other ailments.

"He didn't want to do any more procedures or surgeries," Ms Cuellar says.

"I felt like I was losing him emotionally and psychologically. I felt that it was just too hard to get through the course of a single day and we had to have the conversation that people have when..." she said, not finishing her sentence.

Tomas Young and Claudia Cuellar The couple met when he was undergoing rehab in Chicago in 2008

"I could sense that he was suffering to a level that just wasn't right for us as a couple. I can keep him around for me, but that isn't fair to his journey.

"It's not that he wants to die - he simply doesn't want to suffer any more,"
Ms Cuellar says.

But she adds: "He's the person I love the most in the whole world. I will miss this person."

In 2008 Mr Young suffered a pulmonary embolism and an anoxic brain injury due to a reduced oxygen supply that impaired his speech and arm movement. A colostomy operation last year provided only temporary relief.

Unable now to eat solid food, he is fed through a tube in his stomach. The skin on his hips is breaking down, exposing raw flesh and bone.

"That's probably the toughest one for me, to see that deterioration," she says.

Medical marijuana eases his discomfort and gives him peace of mind without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, Ms Cuellar says.

Tomas Young's letter

"I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbours, much less to the United States... The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in US history."
Mr Young says he wrote to Mr Bush and Mr Cheney on behalf of the wounded veterans and relatives of those killed and injured in Iraq.

"On every level - moral, strategic, military and economic - Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr Bush and Mr Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.
"My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness."
Claudia Cuellar and Tomas Young Cuellar says she and Young share the same values and sense of humour

Cuellar says of the letter: "We just want to share the story of our struggle, which is the story of the struggle and suffering of so many, so that we can begin to look at the realities of the consequences of war."

Claudia Cuellar was interviewed on the BBC World Service programme Weekend

Ms Cuellar moved to Kansas City to be with Mr Young after they met while he was in hospital in her hometown, Chicago, in 2008.
Once injured, the US State abandons you
She says Mr Young, who is virtually bedridden and in hospice care, cannot legally be helped to commit suicide in Missouri and so will have to starve himself to death.

He will continue to take food and liquids until their first wedding anniversary on 20 April. After that they will stop talking publicly about his case and spend time together until they feel the time is right for him to end his life.

Claudia Cuellar was interviewed on the BBC World Service programme Weekend.

Just 0.7% of state land in the West Bank has been allocated to Palestinians, Israel admits

The share of land for settlers and Palestinians
 Jewish settlements in West Bank have been allocated 38 percent of 1.3 million dunams of Israeli state land
Har Adar settlement
By Chaim Levinson | Mar.28, 2013 | 12:00 PM |

Over the past 33 years the Civil Administration has allocated less than one percent of state land in the West Bank to Palestinians, compared to 38 percent to settlers, according to the agency’s own documents submitted to the High Court of Justice.

The West Bank includes 1.3 million dunams (approximately 325,000 acres) of “state land,” most of which is allocated to Jewish settlements.

The declared policy of the previous Netanyahu government was to remove Jewish construction from private Palestinian land in the West Bank and to approve all construction on state lands.

According to the classification of the Civil Administration, a small amount of “state land” was registered with the Jordanian authorities until 1967. But most declared “state land” was declared as such after 1979.

The need for such a declaration emerged in October 1979, when the High Court struck down as unconstitutional the state’s practice of seizing Palestinian land, ostensibly for “military needs” but in practice in order to establish Jewish settlements.

It was after 1979 that the process of the wholesale declaration of territory as state land began. According to the law in the West Bank, any land with continuous agricultural cultivation for at least 10 years becomes the property of the farmer; land under cultivation cannot be seized by the state.

Although the Civil Administration team charged with determining which lands are cultivated is supposed to base their conclusions on testimony and aerial photos, a senior official in the Civil Administration conceded recently in the Ofer Military Court that the decisions are political.

The hearing at which the official was speaking was over the state lands declared with regard to the Hayovel outpost. The latter has been at the heart of a High Court case for over seven years. The state had decided to retroactively authorize Hayovel, but aerial photos clearly show a number of houses and cultivated land, and the road to Hayovel goes through private Palestinian land. The state therefore devised a method of declaring the area between cultivated spots, for example, between trees, as “uncultivated” and thus it could deem it state land. Palestinians claiming ownership of the land petitioned against the decision through the organization Yesh Din and attorney Michael Sfard.

In a court hearing in January an official from the Civil Administration’s oversight unit, Gilad Palmon, told the court: “The official who decides on the declaration [of state land] is at the political level, the defense minister. Another Civil Administration official, Yossi Segal, said: “The political echelon decides the size of the area.”

Three years ago the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Bimkom − Planners for Planning Rights asked the Civil Administration, by dint of the Freedom of Information Law, for figures on the extent of state lands in the West Bank. The Civil Administration refused to provide the information and the organizations asked the court to intervene.

The Civil Administration’s representatives told the court that there are 1.3 million dunams of state land in the West Bank and that it could not provide additional data. Jerusalem District Court Judge Yoram Noam did not accept the response and instructed the agency’s representatives to provide more information.

The Civil Administration subsequently provided the court with the following details: 671,000 dunams of state land is still held by the state. Another 400,000 dunams were allocated to the World Zionist Organization. Most of the Jewish settlements, both residences and agricultural land, are on this land.

Another 103,000 dunams of state land were allocated to mobile communications companies and to local governments, mainly for the construction of public buildings.

Utilities such as the Mekorot water company, the Bezek communications company and the Israel Electric Corporation received 160,000 dunams, 12 percent of the total state land in the West Bank.

Palestinians have received a total of 8,600 dunams (2,150 acres), or 0.7 percent of state land in the West Bank.

The Civil Administration told the court that of this, 6,910 dunams were in the Jenin district, land allocations made a long time ago that are now in areas A and B (under full Palestinian control or Palestinian civilian and Israeli military control, respectively). One dunam was allocated for a stone quarry in the Hebron district; 630 dunams in the Bethlehem district were allocated for Bedouin; 1,000 dunams were allocated in the Jericho district and 10 dunams were allocated in Tul Karm.

Nir Shalev, a researcher for Bimkom, said: “Israel has claimed for years that the settlements are built only on state land, a claim that is repeatedly shown to be inaccurate. The data on allocations to the Palestinians, which the Civil Administration was forced to reveal, show the other side of coin: Israeli policy determines that state lands in the West Bank are for the use of Israelis only − mainly settlers.”

Because state land is essential for the expansion of settlements, a great deal of pressure is exerted to influence the decision of where such lands are declared. Haaretz checked and found that even when the state claims that certain lands are state lands, the process of determining usage beforehand is careless, and land declared as state land also includes private Palestinian land and cultivated land. One example of such carelessness regards the large settlement of Givat Ze’ev, northwest of Jerusalem. Next to the settlement is a home belonging to a Palestinian man, Saadat Sabri, who also cultivated a plot of land nearby.

In 2006, when building began on the separation barrier, bulldozers destroyed his fields. Although aerial photos clearly showed the land was cultivated the state declared the land to be state land in 2010 and joined Sabri’s plot to Givat Ze’ev. Sabri petitioned the High Court against the move.

Researcher Dror Etkes found that land important to the expansion of settlements was declared state lands, including territory near Susya, Tekoa, Ma’aleh Adumim, Kiryat Arba and other Jewish communities.

In the center of Ma’aleh Adumim, for example, is land that aerial photos from the 1970s show as partially under cultivation. Yet in 2005 the entire area was declared state land and is now built on.

“The findings, which are a sampling, prove the claims that Palestinian landowners have been consistently presenting over the past few decades: Under the aegis of the broad declaration of lands as state lands, which includes almost a million dunams, Israel has taken over extensive cultivated areas, which were stolen from their owners through administrative decisions over which public and legal oversight is minimal, because they were supposedly not cultivated.”

The director of Yesh Din, Haim Erlich, said: “Yossi Segal, who is in charge of abandoned property in the West Bank, reveals the painful and ugly fact that we have been aware of for some time: The survey, which is supposed to be professional, has become a political tool.”

The Civil Administration did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

Criticism of Israel – wrong. Support for child abuse – right.

Yeshiva University Attacked by Zionist Right for Honouring Jimmy Carter

As readers of this blog will know, child sexual abuse is not only rife within the Jewish Orthodox community, but it is a terrible sin for the child or their parents to report it to the secular authorities.

One particularly repulsive creature, Rabbi Mannis Friedman, is on record as saying that being abused is a useful experience for children and that they will benefit from it.  As the article below demonstrates, plain ol’ ordinary racism is no bar to an award but criticism of Israel is a ‘chilul hashem’ – a terrible crime against god.  Comparing women to monkeys and calling Black people ‘schvartzes’ (nigger) is no bar to an award however.

Yeshiva Alumni Angry Over Award for Jimmy Carter — Not Hershel Schachter

Stance on Israel Draws Heat, Not Sex Abuse Controversy

Former President Jimmy Carter has irked Yeshiva alumni with his criticism of Israel. But an honor for Rabbi Hershel Schachter, who used a racial slur to describe blacks, hasn’t drawn nearly the same controversy.

By Paul Berger
Published April 14, 2013

Yeshiva Demonstration Against Jimmy Carter Honor Fizzles at Cardozo

Outraged Y.U. Alumni Hope To Block Jimmy Carter From Cardozo Peace Honor

Yeshiva University finds itself immersed this spring in a tale of two honorees. One, a former president of the United States, is accused of anti-Israel bias. The other, a leading Y.U. rabbi, is accused of racism and a disregard for victims of child sex abuse.

Hershel Schachter, the Y.U. rabbi in question, has also been criticized in years past for suggesting that the prime minister of Israel be shot if he compromises with the Palestinians on Jerusalem, and for appearing to compare women to monkeys.
The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan. Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
But while an event organized by Y.U.’s rabbinic school to honor Schachter in May has aroused little opposition, the decision by a student-run journal at Y.U.’s law school to honor former president Jimmy Carter on April 10 sparked swift, furious and widespread criticism.

Indeed, the angry reaction to Carter’s appearance seemed to dwarf even the recent outrage over allegations that Y.U. failed to deal adequately with suspected physical, emotional and sexual abuse of teenage students at its Manhattan high school throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

The reason for the difference is simple, according to Samuel Heilman, a sociologist of American Jewry, at Queens College. “The Carter problem [exists because of] a very powerful, right-wing, pro-Israel stance within Yeshiva University,” Heilman said. “Whereas opposition to what Schachter said comes more from the liberal side of the spectrum, which is not as well represented at Yeshiva University [just] as it is not well represented these days in Orthodoxy.”

Schachter sparked controversy in March when excerpts of a talk he had delivered a month earlier in London appeared online.

In the talk, Schachter made a series of controversial statements. Among them, he claimed that state prisons were dangerous for Jews because they could be locked up “with a shvartze, in a cell with a Muslim, a black Muslim who wants to kill all the Jews.” He also suggested that instead of immediately contacting police regarding an allegation of child sex abuse, the allegation should first be taken before a committee of psychologists trained in Torah to ensure that the child is not lying.

Schachter’s comments could not have come at a worse time for Y.U. The school hired an international law firm last December to conduct an investigation following allegations, published in the Forward, that two former employees of Y.U.’s high school, Rabbi George Finkelstein and Rabbi Macy Gordon, had abused students. Some students said that they or their parents warned Y.U. of the abuse, but their pleas were ignored. Finkelstein and Gordon deny the allegations.

Y.U.’s chancellor, Rabbi Norman Lamm, told the Forward that during his tenure as president of Y.U., from 1976 to 2003, staff who were believed to have had “improper sexual activity” with students were quietly forced out and law enforcement authorities were not informed.

Following the disclosure of Schachter’s comments on child sexual abuse, Y.U. initially distanced itself from the remarks. After being contacted by the Anti-Defamation League, Y.U. condemned Schachter’s use of the word “shvartze” as “inappropriate” and “offensive.”

Nevertheless, Y.U. has continued with its plans to fete Schachter as “guest of honor” at its annual Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary dinner, which will be held this year at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, on May 1.

An article posted to Y.U.’s website about the event lauds Schachter as a “renowned posek,” or a decisor on Jewish law, and cites his “distinguished association and career” with Y.U. since 1967.
So far, only one RIETS alum has publicly protested Y.U. honoring Schachter. In a letter posted online March 21, Barry Dolinger of Congregation Beth Sholom, in Providence, R.I., stated that Lamm’s and Schachter’s behavior, as well as Y.U.’s inaction, “have caused unbelievable chilul Hashem [desecration of God]…causing many of the faithful to give up or shun observance, Rabbis, God, and causing less observant Jews and non-Jews to view our people as backwards, self-serving, or inauthentic.” Because of this, Dolinger said, he would boycott the RIETS dinner.

In an interview, Dolinger told the Forward that he feared that negative stories emanating from Y.U. contributed to people becoming cynical about Modern Orthodoxy or leaving the movement altogether. “I don’t think that, with all due respect, the leadership understands that this is killing us,” he said. Dolinger added that dozens of people had contacted him to offer their support.
Still, no one posted a public comment underneath Dolinger’s letter. And the Forward is aware of no other rabbi who has complained publicly about the event.

Psychotherapist Stacey Klein found herself in a similar situation when she launched an online petition January 14, calling on Y.U. to commit to making public its forthcoming report into abuse allegations. Klein, a Y.U. alum, said that many people were too scared of appearing to “break with Y.U.” to sign the petition. Three months on, only 260 people have signed.

Gary Emmanuel did not have time to compose a petition against the April 10 presentation of Carter’s award. He only found out on April 3 — and confirmed a couple of days later — that Cardozo’s Journal of Conflict Resolution planned to honor Carter with its International Advocate for Peace Award.

Emmanuel, along with many other alumni, fumed when he heard that Carter, a harsh critic of Israeli policies on the occupied West Bank, was being honored at a Y.U.-affiliated institution.

Emmanuel launched a new group, the Coalition of Concerned Cardozo Alumni, and a simple website, Shame on Cardozo, on April 6. Within three days, galvanized by media attention — including in the Forward — more than 5,000 people had visited the site, including about 1,300 people who took an online poll about whether Carter should be honored (87% were against).

Emmanuel said that over just a few days, dozens of irate alumni copied him on emails to Y.U. administrators, vowing that they would cease contributing to the institution.

One alum threatened to stage an act of civil disobedience by physically blocking Carter from entering Cardozo. Political commentator Alan Dershowitz weighed in, telling Haaretz that Carter “never met a terrorist he didn’t like” and that he was “unworthy” of the award. The National Council of Young Israel demanded that Y.U. rescind its invitation to Carter.
On April 8, Y.U. President Richard Joel was forced to issue a statement distancing the institution from the award, which he stressed was given by a “student-run” publication. Joel underscored that he strongly disagreed with “many of President Carter’s statements and actions” in regard to the Middle East.

Rabbi Yosef Blau, who has been a spiritual adviser at RIETS for almost 40 years, said it had not gone unnoticed that Carter’s award appeared to have generated “more concern” than the issues of alleged abuse at Y.U. itself and Schachter’s recent controversial remarks. Blau pointed out that Cardozo is a professional graduate school, wholly secular in nature, though affiliated with Y.U. Its alumni, he said, have very different concerns than those who graduate from RIETS and from Yeshiva College, the university’s undergraduate school. Indeed, anti-Carter activist Emmanuel, who graduated from Cardozo’s Masters of Laws program, said he was unaware of the child sex abuse controversy at Y.U. and of the firestorm over Schachter’s comments.

But Emmanuel said that comparing the two issues is unfair.

The primary reason his campaign attracted so much attention so quickly, Emmanuel explained, is that he is heavily involved in Israel advocacy and has good contacts for quickly disseminating information to the correct people.

“I don’t think you’re giving enough credit to who we know and how we get this out,” Emmanuel said. “This wasn’t a fluke.”
Contact Paul Berger at berger@ or on Twitter, @pdberger.

Read more:

After Uproar, No One Shows To Protest Jimmy Carter At Yeshiva University

by Aryeh Younger Apr 10, 2013 6:40 PM EDT

All the hype about the decision by students at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law to honor Jimmy Carter ended with a whimper today, not a bang. Carter received the International Advocate for Peace, bestowed by a student-run journal, without any of the hoopla one might expect from the controversy generated by the announcement that he would receive the honor. As the award ceremony commenced, not a single protester could be found. The event, which had supposedly caused uproar in the Jewish world, proved to be nothing more than angry online rhetoric from Cardozo’s pool of hawkish pro-Israel alumni.

As I waited outside of the Cardozo building, several reporters, mostly from Jewish newspapers, commiserated. Cardozo alumni had declared their willingness to stop Carter from entering the building. “Mr. Carter ain’t going to get anywhere,” one of the alumni blustered, according to the Forward. But bluster was all it was: Carter entered and left the building without incident. "Anti-Carter protestors are a no-show at Cardozo award scene. Not even one," tweeted Haaretz's Chemi Shalev from the scene. "Other than a few pro-Carterites and one foul- mouthed anti-Semite, all quiet as students file into Cardozo hall for Carter ceremony."

Carter's honor received growing media attention this past week, even rising to stories in two major national newspapers today. The New York Times reported that tensions ran high "because Cardozo is a part of Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish institution where support for the state of Israel runs high. And among supporters of Israel, there are few figures more controversial than Mr. Carter, who has repeatedly criticized Israeli policy toward Palestinians and described their circumstances as apartheid."

None of the hawkish Yeshiva supporter apparently believed that it was worthwhile to actually show up. The plans to protest fell apart just before Carter arrived for the ceremony. Michael Osborne, a pro-Israel advocate and sophomore at Yeshiva’s Sy Syms School of Business, tried organizing a rally against the ceremony. “Unfortunately, the event was in the middle of the day, and students couldn’t leave class to protest,” he said. Osborne claims to have been in contact with Cardozo alumni who “simply didn’t come through in the end.”

Ben Winter, a senior at Yeshiva College, claims that YU’s students are ultimately unwilling to physically volunteer themselves for pro-Israel causes. “While many students at YU feel strongly about their Zionism, few have the courage to publicly express their opinions,” he said.

One wonders how the media will react to the next pro-Israel uproar at Yeshiva University. Judging from the disappointment that myself and the others journalists felt at the anti-climax, I highly doubt it will
Aryeh Younger is the current editor-in-chief of The Beacon, an online publication for and by the younger Modern Orthodox Jewish community. He has studied at Israel’s Yeshivat Har Etzion and New York’s Yeshiva University. His writing appears regularly in the Jerusalem Post and other publications.
For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at

Cyber War Over Facebook Page "I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists" in Israel

Israel Pays a  Host of Bloggers to Defend It

More at The Real News

Monday, 22 April 2013

Would 750 hours benefit YOUR store without payroll costs?

Boycott Workfare – Boycott Homebase

The Lies Homebase Tells to Increase Profits
Homebase do one thing and say another

Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.

 Know your rights on workfare schemes!  

This poster was leaked from the Haringey Homebase store.  I's called Stage 1 of the Work Experience Experience.  Now of course a free 750 hours will benefit any store, or rather the profits of that store.  But for the staff it's a different matter.

It shows exactly how employers view workfare: an easy way to cut the wages bill. Homebase claim “We ensure they work alongside, not replace, paid colleagues”, but a staff member has told us that since tens of workfare placements were brought in, overtime has been cut for everyone. Some people’s hours have been cut from 48 down to 8 – far below the threshold for Working Tax Credits – because that is all they are contracted for.

It turns out 750 hours with no payroll costs – the figure for just one week in just one of Homebase’s 342 stores – does have a massive impact on the paid work available. Apparently it’s an effect that is popular with the regional manager, who we’ve heard has been trying to get all Homebase stores in her region to use workfare, and has been suspending or moving managers who don’t.


Homebase have been quick to claim that the scheme is voluntary, but our source told us that workfare workers have all been told “work for free or lose your benefits”. As Boycott Workfare have exposed, even on paper the Work Experience scheme is only voluntary if you say ‘yes’, since it is backed with the threat of Mandatory Work Activity which carries up to three year sanctions.
The new slavery -    Workfare
Haringey Homebase is not advertising for workers and we’ve heard that managers have been instructed to tell people on workfare that there are no jobs for them. This, despite the fact that last year the boss of Home Retail Group – who also own workfare exploiters Argos – was paid £1.1 million.

The public response to this story has been immense with hundreds of comments on Homebase’s Facebook page deleted, and the company taking it offline at times. But it hasn’t yet been enough. In a week where people claiming benefit have been smeared by the Chancellor, the fact of the matter is that it’s not people on benefits who are scrounging off the taxpayer, it’s businesses. We need to show Homebase that they can’t get away with workfare exploitation and we won’t go away until everyone working in their stores is paid.

Contact Homebase and their parent company Home Retail Group. Order leaflets from Boycott Workfare for a pop-up action at your local store. Help spread the word!

Oh, and if you were ever tempted to think this is a one-off mistake, this is what someone else told us this week: “a friend of mine who was working 40 hours per week at Argos has just had his hours cut by half because they have been getting workfare in. Now he can’t afford his rent.”
Feel free to contact Argos, Homebase’s sister company, too.  
Oops! Homebase let cat out of the bag about using workfare to reduce wage bills
Crosspost from Pride's Purge

On their Facebook page today, Homebase have denied they’re using unemployed people from the government’s Workfare scheme to work for them for free:
Posted by Tom Pride in hopeless naivety (it’s not satire – it’s workfare!)

Only someone very naive could believe private firms are participating in the government’s workfare scheme because they want to provide work experience for unemployed people out of the goodness of their own hearts and not as a way of reducing their wage bills by using forced labour at taxpayers’ expense.

But ask any of them and they’ll swear the workfare people they’ve taken on are extra to their requirements and are not – repeat not – replacing jobs they would normally have had to pay someone a proper wage to do.

Well. It looks like Homebase have accidentally let the cat out of the bag.
Here’s a poster currently displayed on the wall in the manager’s office of Homebase Haringey – which clearly shows the company is using workfare as a means to reduce their payroll costs:
This is particularly interesting, as Homebase have recently been lying to telling the public they’re not participating in workfare at all. See my previous post about that here:

Looks like Homebase just can’t stop themselves telling porky pies about workfare, doesn’t it?

Homebase are so embarrassed about using workfare – they’re reduced to lying about it

Saturday Mar 2013

On their Facebook page  today, Homebase have denied they’re using unemployed people from the government’s Workfare scheme to work for them for free:

Which is a bit strange when you consider the above tweet from Finsbury Park Job Centre Plus on Wednesday:

See what I mean?

Could it be that Homebase are so embarrassed by their participation in Workfare that they’re reduced to telling porkies about it?

Related articles by Tom Pride:
Salvation Army denies existence of Workfare scheme it participates in (no – not satire)
Victory as online campaign forces Sue Ryder off Workfare scheme
Sue Ryder executives looking to profit from the privatisation of NHS services
The Sue Ryder charity and its sinister Orwellian doublethink
Admit it UK charities – you were conned by Cameron and his so-called ‘Big Society’ garbage
Cameron’s Big Society – TOFFS paying SPIVS to rip off PLEBS
A4e given over 45 million of taxpayers money – to give classes on using toilet paper

Major Victory for anti-Fascists in Brighton Again

The Fascists' Idea of a 'Family Day Out'

No doubt lynching is also part of a 'family day out' for March for England.  These were the people that our 'diversity' Police were protecting when they spent £1 protecting 50 boneheads
The poster says it all

March for England allegedly began as a ‘family fun day’ out.  Today it was quite clear that it has become nothing more than an English Defence League group.  Not a woman or child went anywhere near the overweight thugs, racists, drunks and fascists who participated in celebrating St. George’s Day, who was Greek not British anyway!

The real face of Brighton

As can be seen from the photographs, the fascist idea of a day-out at the seaside differs markedly from anyone else.
Another example of all the fund of a 'family day out' for the EDL
The day itself began with a victory.  The Police wouldn’t countenance a march through Brighton from the railway station after last year’s debacle in which they got less than half way before being diverted down side streets.  Fascists are no longer able to march at whim through town and had to be content with shouting at the piers.
without the heavy protection of the Police, the EDL would have been lynched

Anti-fascists also have lessons to learn in terms of combating roving bands of fascists looking for the vulnerable to beat up.
50 fascists set off on their mobile kettle.  No-one could hear or see them (apart from the seagulls who used them as a convenient toilet)
But what amazed me, on the seafront, where I confined myself to taking pictures because I am convalescing, was how every single comment from ordinary passers-by was hostile to the fascists, such as one elderly women remarking to her friend that you can’t blame a whole people (Muslims) for the actions of one individual.  The EDL are a dying force and I counted between 50 and 60 on the march at the maximum.  For this Sussex Police, who are always complaining of lack of resources, spent close to £1 million to impose a march that no one wants on the town.

A new tactic - the Police are now physically sealing off roads using metal plate.  This was done right up to West Street and must have cost a fortune.  It seems that the Police will spare no effort to protect the fascists

Credit is due in particular to the anarchists who played a major part in the counter-organisation whilst realising that not everyone is able or willing to engage in physical confrontation.  The idea of big, fluorescent posters proclaiming things like ‘Racism not wanted here’ worked wonderfully.
EDL attack a lone anti-fascist.  We trust that now the Police have clear evidence they will be making arrests and prosecuting!

As it is the EDL held a short march between the piers inside what was effect a mobile police kettle.  As people shouted at them, ‘no one can hear you anyway’ and that was true.  All you could see is them gesticulating.  It is alleged that a bottle was thrown at them.  This blog, of course, doesn’t condone wanton violence but I’m glad to report that the bottle is making a full recovery though the skull it hit is beyond repair.

Instead of bringing contingents down from Surrey, the Met, City of London Police, Hampshire and no doubt elsewhere, the Police should tell the EDL if they want to mach then that’s fine, but don’t expect us to protect you.  But then, at the end of the day, the fascists' message is one that large numbers of Police share.

To those who say we should ignore them, that is always the best way to help fascism grow.  19 people were arrested, we don’t know how many will be charged and if they are all anti-fascists but it is essential that people ensure that the cost of any fines is carried by the movement and not individuals.

The Argus estimated there were over 1,000 counter-demonstrators compared to 150 fascists.  My estimate, including EDL not on the march, is 70 fascists maximum and between one and a half and two thousand anti-fascists, many of whom were locals who joined on the spot.

Surprise, surprise.  The Zionists who make such as fuss about 'anti-Semitism' every Saturday outside  Sodastream were nowhere to be seen!  Fighting fascism isn't part of opposing anti-Semitism.
It's easy to be brave behind a police kettle

Tony Greenstein


two police spies

the fat one has difficulty with his camera

On the left and right are 2 suspected EDL supporters
These three characters were part of a roaming band of EDL supporters

a moronic EDL member pleads with the police to be let through to join his mates (in vain)

Another EDLer

The EDL march gets underway late as usual
a few photos of the master race
the one on the right shows his fear of what would happen if the Police weren't there.  Not the traditional role of fascism.
Spot a Nazi 1
spot a nazi 2
One of the saner members of the EDL - raging at being caged in
A sea of police and anti-fascists.  The EDL aren't even visible
You do sometimes wonder whether the fascists really do conform to their own racial theories - with fascist numbskulls at the bottom of the ladder
The other side of the new street metal sealers
Celebrating in the way they know best - behind the appropriately named  'bar rogue'!


The real face of Brighton as an estimated 1,500 pack the Old Steine
The reaction of ordinary townsmen and women to the fascist filth
Local Green MP Carolyn Lucas shows her support for the anti-fascists.  Tory Mike Weatherly, personally responsible for the freezing to death of 2 homeless persons who were threatened with arrest if they broke in to a building to sleep, had nothing to say about the EDL and merely congratulated the Police
looking worried, as well they might