Durban 2 Conference: speech given at parallel NGO conference

Speech at UN Watch Conference
22 April 2009

Let us just imagine that this week the leader of a so-called Christian or northern caucasian state had taken the podium at a United Nations conference and made remarks about Muslims or about black people or about a democratically constituted rule of law nation such as those that were made by the President of Iran on Monday. There would have been an outcry. There would have been a mass walk out from Latin America, from Africa, from Asia. There would have been calls for sanctions and reform of the UN to prevent such a scandal happening again.

Instead we just had a pitifully small number of European states showing their disgust at listening to the racist claptrap that was heard on Monday. This is the disaster of double standards which sadly causes such damage to the United Nations.

That said, those who constantly call for boycotts of the UN or who denounce the UN do themselves no justice. There must be one forum in the world in which all the states of the world can meet and have their discussion.

This week at least we have seen a reversal of the disastrous emergence of organised anti-Semitism into UN procedures which was on witness eight years ago at the so-called Durban 1 conference.

Anti-Semitism has quit the back rooms of the neo-Nazi and extreme right-wing parties or the tracts of the Holocaust deniers or the obscure writings of Islamist ideologues and has now become mainstream politics.

Our task as anti-racists and as anti-antisemites is to move the issue of anti-Semitism from the lecture room and the academic monograph into active engaged politics.

To do this we have to understand the new ideology of 21st century anti-Semitism. And to understand ideology you have to return to the text, the text, always the text.

In the 1930s the Palais des Nations was where the pitiful appeals against fascism could be heard as states trembled at the march to war of the right wing dictators. This week the Palais des Nations was allowed to become the platform for as vicious a rant against Jews and Jewishness as the world has ever seen since Der Sturmer stopped publication in 1945.

Every anti-Semitic statement and accusation since time immemorial was heard here in Geneva on Monday from the President of the UN member states – there was the treatment of the Holocaust as "dubious", the most classic of contemporary anti-Semitic tropes which is to deny the very suffering that the Jewish people alone amongst all the great religious groups of the world experienced as their organised, scientific, cross border, mass murder was put into operation by one of the most advanced states and bureaucracies of then world history.

We heard that Jews controlled the economy and that Jews controlled the media. This, of course, is what the BNP, our home grown little anti-Semitic and racist party says in Britain.

But anti-Semitism is now a formidable ideology and organising force. It is developed by thinkers, clever men, who can write elegantly, and whose thoughts are then taken by propagandists and proselytisers and conveyed to a broader mass of people.

Anti-Semitism lies at the heart of the rise of the new extreme right in Europe. Have no illusions. On June 4th in Britain and then June 7th in most EU member states will take place elections to the European Parliament. There is every chance that the number of extreme right politicians whose party leaderships are based in part or in whole on connection to anti-Semitic and Jew-hating politics of the past will be elected to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. They will have parliamentary immunity. They will have offices. They will have income and large allowances to employ staff to pedal their extreme right and anti-Semitic language and ideas.

And anti-Semitism, of course, is turned into formal international diplomatic policy by states like Iran or by Saudi Arabia with its export of its Wahabi doctrines. I remain at a loss why the United States in particular where there is a great deal of sensitivity to the problem of anti-Semitism and the attacks on Jewish people and of course on the Jewish state of Israel take so little action to tell the rulers of Saudi Arabia that their state sanctioned export of anti-Semitic ideology does a very grave disservice to world peace and good relations with the democracies of the world.

What is to be done? I want to report to you simply as a parliamentarian that one can take action in the democratic forums of the world that are constituted by parliaments and congresses and national assemblies. Four years ago I helped set up and chair an all-party commission of inquiry into anti-Semitism. We operated as a classical parliamentary committee of inquiry does. We had evidence sessions in the Commons. We travelled around the country to take evidence. We invited people to send in their arguments and experiences relating to this subject including many comments from thoughtful people who believed that the subject was exaggerated or was being misinterpreted.

And at this point let me stress as all of us engaged in this cause have to do that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic. It’s true that all anti-Semites hate Israel but the Israeli Government has to exist in the court of its own national as well as international public opinion and accept responsibility for what it does. I was very pleased to hear last night Professor Alan Dershowitz make clear his own condemnation of the Israeli Government’s use of cluster and white phosphorous bombs in the recent Gaza conflict.

We published our report and the British Government agreed to implement its recommendations. These require the police to report more faithfully and accurately on anti-Semitic incidents. It requires the people who run our universities to make sure that campuses are not where Jewish students can feel intimidated or where anti-Semitic and Jew-hate politics and philosophy can be propagated.

The British Government has pledged each year to revise what it is doing to combat anti-Semitism and a report will be out soon.

I believe and my fellow parliamentarians believe that other congresses and parliaments and national assemblies can follow suit. Each will have to adapt this procedure to their own ways of working but it sends a powerful signal out that the democratic parliaments of the world take this issue seriously just as we must take the fight against racism, discrimination, intolerance and xenophobia seriously.

In February we sought to internationalise this procedure by holding a conference at which was an international coalition of parliaments to combat anti-Semitism. There were delegations from most European states, from Australia, Canada, the United States and very powerful contributions from political friends in Morocco and Tunisia. The next conference will take place in Canada next year and I hope this process now will continue to alert parliaments around the world of the need to combat anti-Semitism.

And of course we have to insist that the UN should be the locus of a global fight against racism as anti-Semitism is one of the most egregious forms of racism. I think we can acknowledge this week that after the disaster of Durban 1 in 2001 with its festival of anti-Jewish hate efforts have been made worldwide to ensure that the so-called Durban 2 conference here in Geneva was not hijacked by Jew hatred. I congratulate UN Watches and all the forces for democracy that have successfully argued the case that the UN should focus on racism and on those countries that practice discrimination of which Iran in terms of its treatment of its Arab citizens, its women, its gays and its young boys and girls which Iran executes in a form of judicial murder of children is the most egregious example. But just a friendly word of warning. We should not cry victory and those of us dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism should not be triumphalist as a result of the political achievement in ensuring that this week there was no repeat of Durban 1.

I pay tribute to the leadership of two foreign ministers, David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner, who made clear that their delegations would walk out if as we saw on Monday the UN allowed its podium to be used to launch attacks against Jews.

Undoubtedly, the original text proposed by the UN would not have been changed as radically as it was without the pressure of a boycott call from Canada and the United States but be careful. Before we celebrate boycotts or insist that everybody should boycott everything we will give ammunition to those who call for boycotts of journalists or academics in Israel as the efforts by those who hate Israel or hate the right of the Jews to exist in their own state often focus on trying to organise boycotts.

But this week undoubtedly is a week when we can legitimately say ‘No pasaran’, the Jew-haters did not pass. But the victory will be pyrrhic unless we all work to defeat and expose racism and discrimination. The racism that my Muslim constituents who have strong links to Pakistan experience in terms of the lack of economic possibility for those of a different race living with majority populations. The contempt for their faith. The refusal to accept that now in much of the northern world we are living with a mixture of races and cultures and we must make a success of this. Racism is still there and must be combated and perhaps when Durban 3 or the next conference on this subject is held there can be a unity of purpose between the great Jewish tradition of fighting for civil liberty and against racism and intolerance and the needs of people whose voices have been drowned out by the Ahmadinejad fiasco and feel that this conference this week has not heard any of their legitimate demands and complaints.

Finally, we also have to defeat the discrimination against women, against gays and against people of different faith that is so prevalent in so many countries of the world and we have to defeat one of the most important denials of human rights – the right to write. We are meeting here in the city of Geneva where Voltaire would come to escape in the 18th century from the censorship and repression of the clerical authoritarian regimes of 18th century France. It was literally unbelievable that some states were proposing that this conference should try and adopt a policy which sought to declare as discrimination criticism of religion. There is no right not to be offended.

Durban Conference 2: post-analysis

This article was published by the Guardian’s Comment is Free website
What did the UN walkout achieve?
23 April 2009

Some say the action played into Ahmadinejad's hands, but it was a necessary reminder that this forum is not a podium for hatred
As United Nations and NGO delegates pack their bags to leave Geneva, the city where 500 years ago Calvin arrived to preach his austere moralising version of Christianity which culminated in burning at the stake those who contradicted him, what lessons can be learned from the Durban 2 conference?
If the first Durban conference in 2001 turned into a festival of anti-Jewish hate bringing out into the open forums and fringe meetings of the UN the antisemitism that for the second half of the 20th century had been hidden in the backroom meetings of the National Front or the BNP, by the Holocaust-denying "intellectuals" like Robert Faurission and David Irvine, or by the then little-known Islamist ideologues like Sayid Qtub, the Durban 2 conference in Geneva declared "No pasaran!" to the preachers of anti-Jewish hate.
Anyone who worked with black independent trade unions which spearheaded the struggle against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s was struck by the number of Jewish South African activists, lawyers, journalists, intellectuals and students who worked shoulder to shoulder with the non-white majority to undermine and finally overthrow apartheid without recourse to violence.
Durban seemed a good place in 2001 to continue the 20-year-long tradition of UN conferences aimed at combating racism, intolerance and xenophobia. Given that antisemitism is an expression of racism and that the reason Israel came into existence was to have a little patch of the world where Jews might not suffer the racism, intolerance and hate that in Britain gave rise to the Aliens Act 1905, legislation designed to keep Jews out of the UK, and which the Daily Mail promoted in its anti-Jewish xenophobic journalism in the 1930s, and which culminated in the organised, industrial, carefully programmed, scientific selection of Jews from all over Europe to be killed by execution squads and then in gas chambers, it might have seemed reasonable to hope that any UN campaign against racism would also campaign against Jew-hate.
Sadly, in Durban eight years ago, this was not the case. Delegations from democratic countries were caught by surprise as a well-organised, lavishly financed campaign against Israel and Jews was unleashed. But a Newtonian law works in international politics – to every action an opposite and equal reaction. So as the UN insisted on holding another conference on the same subject in Geneva, it was inevitable that NGOs who campaign against antisemitism would seek to ensure that Durban1 was not repeated.
And so it came to pass. Almost certainly if the Iranian antisemite Ahmadinjad had not chosen to celebrate Hitler's birthday (the Guardian cartoon showing him with a birthday cake celebrating Hitler's birth was a classic and in the eyes of many should redeem the poor old Guardian from the endless accusations that it is one-sided on this question) by insisting he should come to Geneva to make a classic anti-Jewish speech with all the usual antisemitic tropes about the "dubious Holocaust" and Jews controlling the media, finance and racist Israel, the Geneva conference might have passed off without making world headlines.
Was it right for ambassadors to walk out? The Assembly of the Palais des Nation was built to host the League of Nations. It heard the plaintive appeals against the dictators of the 1930s but Hitler never spoke there. Had he done so and done a similar rant against Jews and Jewishness as delegates heard from Ahmadinejad on Monday one might hope that our ambassadors from the 1930s would have walked out. As we know western diplomacy sought rather to appease anti-semitic extremists in power in the 1930s with consequences that followed. In 2009, we should know better.
Then there is the question of a total boycott. By instinct I am against boycotts. The NUJ and university teachers' boycotts against journalists and academics who are Jewish and who work in Israel seems wrong as it usually Israeli journalists and professors who are the strongest critics of their government. But sometimes a boycott is needed.
The original text which was meant to be adopted in Geneva not only included all and more of the anti-Jewish language from Durban 1 but more perniciously the line promoted by some Islamists (and the Vatican) that any criticism or mocking of religion amount to discrimination and should be outlawed.
To propose this in Geneva, the city Voltaire lived close to in order to seek refuge there when the clerical authoritarianism of ancien régime France wanted to imprison him for mocking the superstitions of religion was hugely ironic. "I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it" is attributed to Voltaire, and whether he did or did not say it, the idea is the most important pillar of freedom in the world.
For a UN conference even to consider coming to Geneva to bury Voltaire's dictum in the name of faith was a monstrous absurdity. Yet without the boycott campaign and President Obama's final decision not to lend his name to the process, the Geneva conference could have easily been hijacked by the new theocratic powers of the world. The UN secretariat seems unable to resist this 21st-century assault on human freedom. It needs a fightback by states and the boycott by Canada and threatened boycott by the US and some European states forced the UN secretariat to remove anti-Jewish and anti-freedom of expression language.
However what did not make sense was the last-minute boycott by Germany (even though that country has to be extremely sensitive to Jewish concerns for obvious historical reasons) followed by Poland and then most absurdly of all the Czech Republic. As a result, one of the big losers of the Geneva process was the coherence of European Union foreign policy. As over China, Russia, even tiny Kosovo, the EU is losing all sense of unity and common purpose on major foreign policy issues.
Another loser, sadly, was the UN itself. The leading Canadian jurist and former attorney general, Irwiin Cotler, is as pro-Israeli as they come. He wrote a book, Why I Am a Zionist, but he told the UN Watch fringe conference in Geneva that the neocon attack on the UN should be resisted. Paraphrasing Voltaire, Cottler said: "If the UN did not exist, it would have to be invented." Alan Dershowitz, doyen of the pro-Israeli jurists and academics in America, also surprised some with a condemnation of Israeli tactics in the recent Gaza fighting, notably the use of cluster and white phosphorus bombs.
But there was no discussion at the UN about Iran's racism against Arabs who live in Iran, still less its discrimination against women, gays or its gruesome position as the world leader in executing children and teenagers. No discussion on the racism in many Asian countries against fellow Asians but from different cultures. No discussion of the pitiless quasi-genocidal murder of Muslim in Sudan. Or does a Muslim regime killing Muslims not count?
Some like Seumus Milne and Tony Lerman have argued that boycotts and walk-outs only serve Ahmadinejad's purpose and delegates should have stayed and argued with the Iranian president. If only. The UN is not an university seminar. There is no exchange as in a Commons debate. It is a forum for argument and power, and when it is used as a podium for hate and 21st-century antisemitism then David Miliband and Bernard Koucher were right to say "No pasaran! ".
But the victory of Geneva over Durbanwill be shortlived unless all the NGOs there come together to work to combat discrimination and racism. For many NGOs that wanted to see a serious debate on racism the hijacking of the conference by Ahmadinejad was a disaster. NGOs combating antisemitism prevented a repeat of Durban 2001. But Geneva 2009 will only really be a victory if they now build bridges with NGOs representing the BME communities as the fight against racism and antisemitism is one and the same.

Durban conference 2: British walk out

Press release

Durban Conference 2: Brish delegates walk out

20 April 2009

Denis MacShane MP, former Foreign Office minister, has welcomed the walk out of the UK ambassador at the UN conference in Geneva after Iran's president started ranting against Jews and Israel. The protest was ordered by Foreign Secretary David Miliband after Macshane urged the UK to make clear the UN should not be used as a platform for antisemitic attacks on Israel's right to exist. Other democratic and EU ambassadors and delegations also walked out in protest at the abuse of the UN conference by President Ahmadinejad to repeat his hate of Jews and Israel. "David Miliband and other EU foreign ministers have demonstrated to the world that the UN cannot be used to promote antisemitic hate. UN officials now have to stop extremists trying to hijack the UN to preach hate against the right of Jews to live in Israel. This must be a turning point to promote anti-racism and not anti-semitism," said MacShane.

Durban conference 2: letter to David Miliband

Press release

Miliband Urged to Remove UK from UN Conference if Attacks on Jews Are Made
20 April 2009

Denis MacShane MP, former No 2 in the Foreign Office, has written to Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, to urge that Britain withdraws from a UN conference opening in Geneva today if Iran’s president Ahmadinejad and other governments use the event to increase anti-semitic hate in the world.
The United States, Canada and Italy have said they will not participate in the UN conference because of fears it will repeat language attacking Jews and singling out Israel as the only nation in which discrimination takes place. At the first UN conference against racism and discrimination held in Durban in 2002, the event was turned into a festival of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli hate.
MacShane says that FCO officials and FCO minister Mark Malloch Brown have sought to ensure the Durban 2 conference in Geneva does not repeat the anti-semitism of the initial conference but says that Britain should take note of President Obama’s decision to boycott the event.
The MP who will speak in Geneva at side meetings connected with the conference urges Miliband to be ready to pull out the UK delegation if the Iranian president or other speakers use the event to promote antisemitic ideology. "At the first sign of hate against Jews and Israel from the podium or in any manifestations connected with the conference I hope the UK delegation will publicly withdraw and stand in solidarity with our friends in the US and Canada rather than provide cover for the Jew- and Israel-haters in the world whose record of xenophobia, discrimination and contempt for secular democracy are well-known" MacShane writes.
MacShane’s full letter to Miliband is below.

Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Foreign Secretary
19 April 2009
Dear David,
UN Conference (Durban 2) On Racism and Xenophobia Geneva 20-24 April
I am very concerned that Britain may unwittingly find itself taking part in a UN conference due to begin in Geneva tomorrow which will increase the store of hate against Jews and against Israel in the world and aid and comfort those who proclaim jihad against Jews and against the democracies.
As you know the United States as well as the leading Commonwealth nation of Canada and Italy are refusing to participate in the conference because there are no guarantees that anti-semitic attacks on Jews and the singling out of Israel alone of the nations in the world to be accused of racism will be off-limits.
The UN conference is chaired by Cuba where writers and journalists rot in jail and there is wide-spread discrimination against black Cubans and by Libya which is hardly an exemplar nation.
Iran’s President Ahmadinejad will come to the conference. His anti-semitism, hate of Israel and denial of the Holocaust are well known and anti-semites around the world will take heart from his efforts to turn the conference into a festival of anti-Jewish hate.
I know how hard FCO officials and Lord Malloch Brown have worked to try and steer the conference in a more sensible direction. But with the decision of the United States and Canada as well as Italy to draw the conclusion that participation in the conference will encourage those who use the UN to promote anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli hate politics I hope the British delegation will take care to ensure that Britain is not seen as lining up with Iran and all the other Jew-baiting forces in the world.
I will attend to speak at side meetings. I was a Minister at the Foreign Office when the UK participated in the first Durban conference on the same theme. It turned into one of the ugliest manifestations of anti-Jewish hate ever seen. Alas, we were not fully cognisant of the event at the time and I wish we had withdrawn the UK delegation at the time to show our clear determination to combat global antisemitism.
The UK should not make the same mistake this week. At the first sign of hate against Jews and Israel from the podium or in any manifestations connected with the conference I hope the UK delegation will publicly withdraw and stand in solidarity with our friends in the
US and Canada rather than provide cover for the Jew- and Israel-haters in the world whose record of xenophobia, discrimination and contempt for secular democracy are well-known.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Dr Denis MacShane MP

A celebration of London

This article was published on the Guardian Comment is Free pages
Goodbye Cool Britannia, hello Tous à Londres
19 april 2009

We should stop putting London down. Even the French have realised it's the place to be.
A decade or so ago the fine American reporter, Stryker McGuire, the Newsweek bureau chief in London, put the term "Cool Britannia" on the front page of America's best weekly journal. A story was born. Cool Britannia became a watchword for the early Blair years. Cocained rock stars came to Downing Street, a gruesome tent was set up on Horse Guards Parade with Paul Smith suits on display, and cultural commentators such as Simon Jenkins swooned over the new Britain.
A couple of weeks ago McGuire buried Cool Britannia in the Observer, though in truth the Blairite term died with the Dome at the turn of the century. But now Europe's best political weekly, Le Nouvel Observateur, carries a front-page injunction to the people of France – "Tous à Londres" – with page after page of celebration of our nation's capital.
The sheer enthusiasm of the French reporters and columnists sent by the Nouvel Observateur is infectious. Who knows London who only London knows? "Undoubtedly the British capital is severely shaken by the crisis," the Nouvel Obs reports. "But since the Blitz London has survived other crises. Recession or not London continues to innovate, to provoke, to surprise and just two and a half hours from Paris, London remains the best place to relax," writes the paper.
The French journal discovers art galleries, jewellery boutiques, bars, clubs, restaurants, book stores and a throbbing life that British multicultural innovation continues to generate. They missed out on my favourite London treat just discovered this week in the company of my daughter and friends – the Havana Rumba show at the Riverside studios at Hammersmith. Cuban street music fills the theatre with an energy and passion that makes you want to jump on a plane to bury the US embargo of the island.
The whole theatre was up and dancing in our seats and aisles – and all this for £20, with reductions for students and seniors. We followed it with a late meal at West London's best Greek restaurant, John Humphrys' favourite, the Kalamari Grill on Chiswick High Street, run by its owner-cook, a positivist philosopher from Kosovo who came to study at the LSE and has ended up a better producer of Greek food than all the Cypriots and Greeks in town.
The Sunday before, with the same daughter, I went to the amazing Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea. "Art, art, more art!" headlines the Nouvel Obs as it celebrates the explosion of art galleries in London after the dull philistine years associated with the Conservative era of Thatcher and Major. The utterly transforming sculpture Ghost by Kader Attia, on show at the Saatchi Gallery, is featured. The blank emptiness of these aluminium foil sculptures is one of the most powerful statements of the power of art to be seen anywhere in the world. As with the other extraordinary Iranian art the curator of this exhibition has brought to London, one can see that under the political ghastliness of the theo-dictators of Iran, a confident, witty, challenging culture is taking shape.
The Nouvel Obs celebrates the free entry into London galleries and surely it is time to put up a small statue to Chris Smith, the culture minister who won a rare battle against the Treasury to allow free access to art. As the philistines prepare to return to power, their first goal is to isolate Britain from Europe. How long before charges are re-imposed for museums and art galleries?
The French paper eulogises the Queen, who is presented as a typical Londoner. Who can blame a left-liberal French republican, as they look at their own head of state? But it is best to leave in the French their comments on our successor generation of royals.
The French and the rest of Europe are flocking back to London because of the devaluation of the pound. For us, going to Paris or Madrid or anywhere in Europe is now painfully expensive, but for lucky euro-earners, London and Britain have suddenly become very cheap. St Pancras International has never been busier. Shopping bags from London clog up the x-ray machines as cheap goods are taken back to France, Belgium and further afield as the high-speed rail network Neil Kinnock helped fashion when he was EU transport commissioner grows steadily.
So, at a time when the London press is on a major downer about Britain and its capital – as if the extraordinary transformation of Britain and London since the 1990s had never happened – it is cheering to read the French saying three cheers for London, which, for all its troubles, remains Europe's most vibrant capital.
And what a pleasure not to read a word about the current or past mayor. London exists independently of its politicians, its police, and its pundits. It is a profoundly European and world city. Goodbye Cool Britannia. Welcome to Tous à Londres!

The Tories' hardline on Europe

Hague mugs Clarke over Europe – will Ken do a Geoffrey Howe?
This article was published in Tribune
17 April 2009
JUST when you thought the Conservative Party could not get any more hardline against Europe, William Hague has announced that Kenneth Clarke will be expected to vote “No” in any future referendum on a European Union treaty. Overlooked in the Damian McBride furore, the Shadow Foreign Secretary used an Easter weekend interview in the Daily Telegraph to warn the Shadow Business Secretary that he must toe the Hague line on Europe and vote against ratifying new EU treaties. Hague also says the Tories will call for a retrospective referendum to reject Europe if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified later this year.
It seems that Hague is now back wearing his mugger’s baseball cap and taking aim by roughing up his much older Shadow Cabinet colleague in the columns of the press. Will Clarke accept this humiliation? Or, like Geoffrey Howe finally rebelling against Margaret Thatcher’s anti-EU posturing, will he stay true to his pro-European beliefs?
Current Tory hostility to Europe is without precedent in post-war British politics. Even in the worst days of Labour’s Euroscepticism in the 1980s, politicians such as John Smith and Tony Blair were allowed to stand up for Europe. Hague is telling Clarke to renege on a lifetime’s
pro-Europeanism and instructing all other Tories who want to work with Europe to keep quiet.
In tactical terms, Hague’s appeal may be aimed at trying to get hardline anti-EU voters to return to the Tory fold ahead of June’s European parliamentary elections. But these voters are ready to vote for the UK Independence Party and the British National Party, as those two extreme parties share the same objective of immediate British withdrawal from Europe.
Hague dare not go that far, although the Yorkshire-based “Better Off Out” group of Tory MPs look to him as their man who will so wreck Britain’s relations with Europe that withdrawal becomes possible. However, Hague could not have laid down the challenge to Clarke without Conservative leader David Cameron’s decision to break links with mainstream conservative parties in Europe – the most isolationist move in decades of British politics.
Nominally, the Tories are now looking for partners among European parties who share Hague’s anti-EU fixation. This has already led to an embarrassing meeting with Latvian right-wing politicians who venerate the Waffen SS.
Hague’s hunt for anti-EU right-wing parties with which to align is going to be tricky. One favourite of Conservative Eurosceptics is Philippe de Villiers, the French right-wing MP whose “Movement for France” uses anti-Lisbon Treaty language similar to the Tories. Unfortunately, de Villiers has blamed the current recession on “cosmopolitan financiers” – and “cosmopolitan” in French, as in English, is a codeword for Jewish. So it’s no go there as the Conservatives hunt for anti-EU bedmates.
The other friend of the Tories in Europe, the Czech right-wing Civic Democratic party has just been ousted from power after its leader attacked Barack Obama for taking the American economy on the “road to hell”.
But it is doubtful if Hague is serious about forging links with a ragbag of oddball rightist parties in Europe. His objective is to create conditions in which Britain moves to the exit door of the EU. The implications for global policy and this country’s relationship with the United States, China, Russia and the Commonwealth are enormous, as the Foreign Office faces up to having an openly isolationist Foreign Secretary if the Tories win power.
It should not be forgotten that Cameron won the leadership of his party in 2005 by outflanking David Davis on hostility to Europe. After the first round, there were some 40 Tory MPs who had voted for Liam Fox, who never hides his venomous contempt for the EU which has been a long-standing feature of his right-wing politics.
Fox’s supporters offered their votes to whichever of the two remaining candidates in the race would appease their virulent anti-Europeanism. The price these anti-Europeans wanted for their votes was a pledge to break all links with the European People’s Party – the loose association of centre-right parties in Europe. Pulling out of the EPP was the first step on the road to pulling out of the EU.
To his credit, Davis knew that such a move was unsustainable. He refused to make the promise. Cameron was more cynical and more of an opportunist. He promised to give the anti-Europeans what they wanted. And he then appointed Hague as his chief foreign affairs spokesperson. Hague makes cheap jokes about the French and Germans and has always been an anorak when it comes anti-Europeanism.
In the past, Tory leaders in opposition could play the race card, as Margaret Thatcher did with her notorious “swamped by people of an alien culture” speech. She used this as a “dog-whistle” with which to win back Tory voters who switched to the National Front in the 1970s.
In 1976, Andrew Brons, an extreme right-winger obsessed with the ideology of the Nazi party stood for the NF in a Birmingham by-election and won 22 per cent of the vote. The Tories were worried that the NF would win support from racist admirers of Enoch Powell.
Thatcher’s speech, with its unmistakable xenophobic pledge to stop Britain from being “swamped” (she never said by precisely by whom, but everyone understood who she meant), killed the NF vote and encouraged the Powellite working class to back the Tories in 1979.
Cameron cannot play the race card. He is a liberal cosmopolitan without a gram of racism in his make-up. To his credit, he has promoted ethnic minority candidates, MPs and peers. He needs votes from Hindi, Muslim and other faith communities in order to win a majority.
Instead, to counter the racist appeal of the BNP, he is playing the anti-European card and using Hague, who does not bother to hide his contempt for Europe, as his dog-whistler.
With most newspapers pumping out anti-EU propaganda and with Labour failing to make the case for Europe with conviction and energy, the Tory strategy may work. But the price of an isolationist Britain will be high. And will Ken Clarke pay it?

10 Proposals on Budget 2009

Budget 2009
Denis MacShane outlines his ten point plan for this month’s budget
16 April 2009

1. Accept that in the gravest recession for generations, old dogma must be discarded. Unemployment must be tackled now by stopping its growth rather than fatalistically accepting it as in the 1980s and early 1990s and increasing the tax burden by paying out ever-increasing unemployment benefits.2. Work closely with President Obama and other world leaders on coordinating measures to increase demand. This means accepting Keynesian ideas of deficit spending. Better to borrow now to get money circulating. But global demand must also be fair. As well as the IMF and the World Bank Britain should seek to increase the profile of the International Labour Organisation so that Chinese, India and other poor-pay economies increase their internal demand rather than depend only on exports. 3. Copy the Germans and French and bring in a subsidy for trading in old polluting cars in exchange for environmentally friendly cars. No subsidies for 4x4’s or cars over two litres. Getting money out of savings and into circulation via the car showroom, the garage forecourt, and the insurance industry will increase business confidence. 4. Support the British Chambers of Commerce proposal for a short-time working scheme in Britain. This would involve the government partially compensating workers for lost earnings when there is an agreed reduction in working hours and pay and a commitment to training. The TUC as well as the Engineering Employers Federation support this scheme which will help Yorkshire businesses immediately. 5. Step up support for exports as the low-value pound gives British firms trading, especially in Europe, a competitive edge. Defeat the UKIP, BNP and other anti-EU voices as Europe remains Britain’s main export market. 6. Accelerate affordable housing and construction worker employment by allowing councils to build social homes again. Re-write planning rules to tackle the new Nimby generation that likes living in a home built in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s on green and pleasant land but now want to deny the same right to their children and grand-children. 7. For steelworkers, revisit the Iserbs scheme which under the EU’s Coal and Steel rules allowed support for steelworkers facing redundancy. Some of this money was transferred to the European commission when the old scheme was wound up and could usefully be disinterred. 8. Bring in a vignette scheme for motorway use so that driving on motorways reflects the cost of building, maintaining and policing them. Yorkshire motorists who do not use the motorways can avoid this tax but it will mean that foreign drivers in Britain pay their share just as we pay autoroute tolls or have to buy vignettes when driving in Switzerland or Austria. 9. Make clear that as a general rule no public sector official will earn more than the prime minister’s £194,500 pay. Freeze all BBC licence tax increases until the swollen salaries BBC executives award themselves and their friends like the foul-mouthed Jonathan Ross come back into line with the income of those who are forced to pay the BBC tax. Make all bonus payments to overpaid executives and bankers dependent on a vote of employees and customers.10. Announce a non-replacement programme for all civil servants and town hall officials except those who can prove they are front-line staff in daily contact to serve the public. All public money must now go to help people directly via interim agencies like local firms and the voluntary sector and not be colonised for high salaries and office administration by national and local government. Trade unions must be consulted on all pay awards in excess of average inflation.

Speech on Europe given at Pittsburgh University

Pittsburgh University
The EU’s Future : Faultlines and Fundamentals
25 March 2009

The current issue of that fine journal Foreign Policy carries an 8 page advertising supplement on the European Union. It looks like one of those paid for pages inserted by minor 3rd world nations or those ending in ‘stan’ to try desperately to inform readers about the worthiness of the nation and its leaders. I don’t blame EU public diplomacy people but I always worry when the only way you can get your story into the paper is by buying space.
But the EU office in the USA has little choice. The chances of the average American policy-maker let alone the average American knowing anything about the EU is slim. And Europeans are little better. President Sarkozy is seeking to rekindle the French people’s love affair with him by attacking the EU Commission president, José Manuel Barroso. The European left are hoping to win support of voters in the June elections to the European Parliament by attacking the European Court of Justice. According to Die Linke, the new nationalist-populist German left party headed by Oskar Lafontaine which is credited with 15 per cent of German votes in current opinion polls, the European Commission is to be blamed for most world disasters.
Meanwhile Rightist parties like the rising British National Party share the same Weltanschauing on Europe as their leftist colleagues and accuse the EU of allowing too many foreigners into Britain and other ills that only withdrawal can put right. The British Conservative party answer to Europe is to cut all links with its sister parties in the EU. Despite David Cameron’s ambition to become Britain’s Prime Minister he has cold-bloodedly pulled his party out of formal links with the ruling centre-right parties of the EU. This is the first time in British political history that any mainstream party had adopted such institutional political isolationism as formal policy and it reflects the disarray and lack of confidence, support for and commitment to the European Union as a whole. Some East European leaders argue that they are being treated as poor relatives in the current world crisis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel insists Germany will not follow the US example in using fiscal stimuli to tackle the recession. To read the European press there is a cacophony of voices on how Europe should respond to the credit freeze, the slump in demand, and the spectre of mass unemployment.
Pity poor President Obama. Every previous US President from Harry S Truman to George W Bush has supported European integration. One associates Mr Bush with his Defense Secretary’s crass division of Europe into ‘old and new’ but read President Bush’s Bundestag speech of June 2001 with his endorsement of European unity including praise for the then new currency the Euro and it is in line with all previous US presidents who have always supported European integration against the vagaries of European nationalisms. Now Mr Obama has to find the right words. He is the first president without any real knowledge or experience of Europe. His predecessor sat at his father’s feet and the first President Bush was a committed East Coast Atlantacist. His son faced criticism from Europe over Iraq but so did Presidents Johnson and Nixon over Vietnam, President Reagan over Star Wars and Nicargua, and President Clinton over footdragging in the Balkans. In the last period of the Bush presidency there was a determined effort to patch up relations with Europe and the EU and the restoration of State Department ‘jaw-jaw’ over Defense Department ‘war-war.’
The last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, was a European-influenced, Oxford trained, Atlantacist social democrat. He played Europe like a violin and in Tony Blair found a partner that up to end 2000 looked as if a real Euro-Atlantic Politik was coming into being with joined up foreign and security policy in the Balkans, in supporting open trade, in building correct if cautious relations with China, in increasing development aid to Africa and treating Latin America in an adult way. Tony Blair, it should be noted was the first serving British prime minister to visit South America as well as Mexico in those halcyon days before 9/11.
By contrast, there is no recorded interest in or commitment to Europe from President Obama. His references points beyond continental America are Hawaii in the Pacific, Kenya and Indonesia. This gives him a unique profile not shared by his predecessor or all his white European counterparts but it gives him little direct understanding and knowledge of Europe. He may well say next week "Ask not what Americans can do for Europe ask rather what Europeans can do for themselves."
The gathering storm of a systemic world crisis has left Europe exposed. The complacency of the European Dr Panglosses that they lived in the best of all possible worlds is now being put to test. I want to argue today that the European Union as an institution has three major fault lines which will test it to the limits over the next period. But also three major fundamental strengths that will help it to survive. Much in the end lies in the hands of voters as it should do under democracy. Who will they elect as MEPs in the June election? Who will they chose to lead Germany, still the primus inter pares of European powers? Will the voters of Ireland ratify the Lisbon Treaty in October and bring to an end the messy unsatisfactory constitutional condundrums that have dominated European debate so far this century.
Where are Europe’s leaders?
Fault-line number one is undoubtedly the leadership question. Europe has no Delors, Hallstein or Jenkins able to shape and control the European Commission with command and confidence. This is not a question of the character of the Commission president and with the backing of three centre-left governments – Spain, his native Portugal and Britain – and no real opposition save rumbling for internal political reasons from President Sarkozy, there is little doubt that José Manuel Barroso will be awarded a second term. But a successful Commission President can only offer real leadership if there he has strong support from major national leaders.
Hallstein had Pompidou and Brandt. Jenkins had Giscard d’Estaing and Schmidt. Delors above all had Mitterrand and Kohl. Despite almost religious incantation of the importance of the Franco-German motor that one hears in Paris there is little disgusing the lack of bonding and common vision on the part of President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel. They simply do not get on. They appear to irritate each other. One is a free trader. The other indulges in protectionist language. Merkel is hemmed in by internal politics and life in an unhappy coalition. Sarkozy is supreme pontiff of France checked only by street demonstrations which are growing in intensity. But neither have a common project for the next developments in Europe.
There are no other commanding leaders in Europe. Mr Berlusconi is locked in Italian politics governing on the basis of sudden populist announcements based on maximising headlines and throwing the opposition off balance. The Italy that was a player and shaper of the EU is now a memory. Spain is also increasingly inward looking and together with other European national governments which are losing popularity as voters blame them will-nilly for the economic crisis, Madrid like Stockholm or Amsterdam has no national leaders with a convincing vision for the EU.
An interesting and unexpected exception is the British prime minister Gordon Brown. With a reputation of caution bordering on indifference if not hostility to Europe from his time in tandem with Tony Blair, Prime Minister Brown is now showing a remarkable energy and enthusiasm for the EU. He is the lead figure in shaping a European response to the crisis and using his presidency as chair of the G20 meeting next week he has travelled the world, in effect on the EU’s behalf, to try and shape a common response.
Yet in a speech to the European Parliament just before the London G20 summit his words were almost lyrical. I quote what Mr Brown said: " I stand here today proud to be British and proud to be European: representing a country that does not see itself as island beside Europe but as a country at the centre of Europe."
He went on to declare: "Our Europe is the richest of human inheritances: formed over 25 centuries in which we have shared, followed, improved or refined everything from each other’s philosophy, art and literature, to our laws and customs. But we are also so much more than neighbours on a continent, or travellers in one another’s cultural currents.
"Because we have built a unity of purpose, a partnership of values, we have a union that is far more than the sum of national interests alone, and so we can show the world that by committing to continuous discussion and dialogue, cooperation between nations can become more than simply a necessity – it can become the foundation for shared values – and become part of the very DNA of a nation."
I quote Mr Brown at length because I do not believe we have heard such pro EU language from a British prime minister, including his predecessor, for some time. Is this Mr Brown making a bid to establish himself as dominant force in Europe, engaging fully in European affairs rather than reacting to developments dictated by other European leaders? Time will tell and voters will have to decide if they want Labour to stay in power in Britain or not. If Labour does form the next British government I would expect Mr Brown to emerge as a serious EU player.
The leadership faultline in Europe can be closed if the Irish vote Yes in their referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. This will allow the election of a President of the European Council and a stronger role for a foreign policy High Representative. Again choosing the right people for these posts as well as choosing a new cadre of EU Commissioners will be a test for Europe. The temptation to opt for a lowest common denominator outcome is always there. If Europe elects not to be led and if in particular, the next German Chancellor refuses to engage fully in European construction then the fault line of leadership will widen.
Where is Europe’s Global Policy?
The second fault line is the lack of a common European foreign policy. France’s reintegration into Nato is a positive step which will reduce the sterile quarrel between so-called European defence and Atlantic defence. In effect, we can expect to see a Nato with a European profile and the EU continuing to out together missions in its own name in addition to the 22 missions already despatched so far this century. Nato can allow more heavy lift capacity and move the potential for the EU to undertake military operations beyond low level quasi policing activity. Whether national governments are ready to collapse national industrial procurement policies into a common EU set of standards and arms manufacturing, as well as develop common doctrines on war-fighting remains an open question. The military are there to apply foreign policy and it is by foreign policy that a state defines itself. And here the EU clearly is not a state as the elaboration of a foreign policy that is continuous and clear has proved remarkably difficult.
On Russia, in Iran, on China, on energy, on dealing with Islamism, on relations with the United States – at least under the previous administration – there are 27 different foreign policies in Europe. Even on a relatively minor question like the status of Kosovo, Spain breaks ranks with the majority of western and northern EU member states and refuses to recognise Kosovo. Mr Sarkozy rushed to Moscow after Russia invaded and dismembered a UN and Council of Europe member state, namely Georgia. He signed with President Medvedev a six point agreement. Since then the Russians have reneged on three of those six points and the reaction of the EU has been to restore normal relations with the Kremlin. Countries like Ukraine are left swinging and anti-Muslim political forces in Europe damp down enthusiasm for Turkey’s EU aspirations.
Europe is unable to influence events in the Middle East as the Israelis refuse to deal with an EU which seems keener at time to find excuses for the Jew-killing ideology of Israel’s enemies than to face them down and urge Arab countries to open diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. President Sarkozy’s Mediterranean Union initiative was innovative but seems not to be able to translate aspirations into concrete programmes. Europe might develop a policy for the MAT nations – Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia with a view to drawing them closer to the EU. But differences between Spain and France over the Sahara and foot-dragging by other EU member states without an interest in Mediterranean politics prevents this.
Where are Europe’s Economic Reforms?
If leadership and foreign policy are two fault lines in today’s EU a third remains the inability to reform economies to correspond to the post-material society and to globalisation. Even before the crisis too many EU nations lived with high levels of unemployment which required state benefit payments that were a massive drag on government budgets. Europe produces automobiles that can do 250 kph but it is left to Japan to produce automobiles that use electric motors and do not pollute the environment. Europeans still boast about TGVs and Airbuses but it has been North America and East Asia which have given the world Blackberries, Google, lightweight lap tops, and almost all the consumer electric goods Europeans buy.
EU universities get half the share of GDP that American universities receive in income because of an obsession with statist provision of university teaching and the refusal of European academics to change their status as state functionaries. This failure to change the EU economy to one based on creativity and knowledge rather than classic productivist economics has cost Europe dear and as the new world emerges from the present crisis will cost Europe jobs and income as her best brains flee to where intellect is rewarded.
The debate about whether state control will replace so-called neo-liberal economics is a fake one. Most EU states take between 40 and 55 per cent of GDP into state hands to be spent under public control. There will be new paradigms of regulation and excesses of finance capitalism will be reined in. But the EU is not going to abolish market economics, or replace capitalism with North Korean dirigisme. Europe still has to ask itself why it was and is growing so slowly relative to other parts of the world both before, during and after the crisis.
Part of the answer lies in the very small resources available to the EU. EU income is just one per cent of Europe’s gross national income. Of that one per cent 85 per cent goes straight back to national governments in the form of agricultural subsidy payments and regional fund support. In other words, the European Commission has about one seventh of one per cent of Europe GNI to spend on promoting its own policies. 27 commissioners fight over their share and 27 national governments have their say as well. The lack of own resources for the EU is now a serious impediment to the EU’s ability to promote economic growth and will have to be addressed.
So much for the fault lines. What of the fundamentals. Here we see a much more positive picture. I quoted earlier Gordon Brown’s almost lyrical enthusiasm for the EU as adding value to all that each of its member states does. He is right. In every previous economic crisis of the scale and extent now being traversed there was a political response in the direction of nationalism, populism, protectionism and authoritarianism – the four horsemen of the anti-democracy apocalypse. Signs and words of all four can be seen and heard, not the least in votes for extremist parties, but Europe has rooted in democracy and rule of law and open market economics in its part of the world.
But Europe Promotes Democracy
The acquis that people talk about have as their strongest element the concept of democracy, separation of powers, freedom of expression and the right of citizens to live freely. 19th and 20th century Europe with its lack of democratic freedom in so many of its nations truly is a thing of the past. Moreover, Europe is showing how different peoples, races and faiths can co-exist even if there is a great deal of scratchiness at a times as they rub against each other. Britain has more foreigners living within its borders than ever before. 800,000 Brits live happily in Spain and 400,000 French and half a million Poles work in Britain. 350,000 British firms operate in the EU and similar statistics apply to other nations.
This is an extraordinary historical achievement and despite some xenophobic voices is not fundamentally under threat.
And the Euro Has Succeeded
A second fundamental that has proved its worth is the Euro. Just consider what would have happened and did happen 15 or 30 years ago when economic crises occurred. There were massive speculative attacks on weaker currencies with forced devaluations. Today the Euro is a force field that protect weaker currencies and ensures that currency breakdown is not part of the overall credit and demand crisis. Yes, there are pressures on the Euro but the ECB moved swiftly to inject liquidity into banks in 2007 andnow has cut interest rates to virtually zero. There is talk of the Euro zone breaking up as weaker economies are forced out but were that to happen the debt that currently poses the major problem would still be in Euros and would cost far more to service in a weaker currency. Germany needs Europe to buy its good and can have no interest in seeking devalued currencies making German exports more expensive.
So in contrast to the earlier decades of European construction the existence of the Euro is a fundamental tool in integrating Europe and building the European Union.
Europe is (slowly, but steadily) Finding an Identity
The third fundamental is the steady growth of a European political identity. This is difficult to quantify and measure in political science terms though I would commend it as a doctoral thesis. By political identity I mean the individuals who as elected official like myself or as state functionaries or as intellectuals and business leaders, as teachers and community leaders now have taken part in, been active in, or benefitted from some aspect or other of European integration. Even Eurosceptics contribute unwittingly to the creation of European identity. After all if it did not exist why waste all that effort denouncing it.
There is a narrow European political class – those who work directly on EU affairs or are MEPs. But there now exists a much wider European political class, the MPs and deputies, the business outfits, the university departments and so forth who have to integrate some aspect or other of EU activity into their political thinking. What has been fascinating to observe in the last five years has been to see the Europeans from the new EU member states take to European politics as if their earlier experience of communist authoritarian rule or the grandparents’ experience of nationalist authoritarian rule belongs to a Juraissic age.
Visit Warsaw and Prague or even Sofia or Ukraine and you see new European cities of life and colour and vitality growing out of the carcass of drab key pre-EU politics and infrastructure. I walk though London and I hear a babble and babel of European voices and across the Channel, English is imposing itself as a common EU tongue. Lawyers, planners, architects, doctors and all the network of professional classes now work outside their own countries, on a short or longer term basis, in different EU countries much as a graduate of Pittsburgh University may end up working anywhere in North America.
This is an unforced, freely engaged construction of Europe which is happening below social science radar screen and is unquantifiable. This is the unknown unknown of Europe but it is real and is happening and will, in my judgement, help create a European polity that will resist the pressures to revert to a Europe of competing, conflictual nation states protected by frontiers.
The Irish will help decide if this hidden European consciousness and identity takes more institutional shape when they vote on the Lisbon Treaty which does offer a more coherent institutional launch pad for the nest stages of European construction. I think they will though the wish is father to my thinking. What happens then will be worthy of study and analysis but will constitute a fundamental new moment in European history of greater importance than the fault-lines I indicated above. I hope to come back next year and discuss with Pittsburgh University how to write the next chapters in EU history.
And perhaps then if there are any newspapers still printed in America, there might be a journalist willing to report on Europe and the EU public affairs people can spend their advertising budget on promoting more work in US universities on this great adventure across the Atlantic.

Speech given in New York City

Why Anti-Semitism Matters
24 March 2009
There are 3 existential threats to the survival of the Jewish community, its history, culture, sense of itself and the right of Jews to live freely in all parts of the world.
The first is the political threat to Israel from its enemies. Israel today is essential to the notion that Jews have a right to exist. At times I might be tempted to argue that a threat to Israel comes from its friends and from those who want Israelis to be different from other citizens in the mosaic of states that constitute the democratic rule of law world.
The second threat comes from the failure to maintain a sense of Jewish culture and community, the history of a people and the knowledge of its wisdoms and faith. I am not qualified to talk about religion or indeed Jewishness. I agree with André Malraux when he said Le 21eme siècle sera mystique ou il ne sera pas – that it is the 21st century will have to understand the need and power of faith, of belief in something that cannot be fully comprehended. You can be an atheist and still get Malraux’s insight. And given that almost, not all, but almost every conflict we confront today pits one religious faith against another, M. Malraux was right.
The third threat comes from ideology. And that ideology is a new-antisemitism or a neo-antisemitism which seeks to provide a political rationale for attacks on Jews and on Issrael. It is true that not every critic of Israel is anti-Semitic. But every anti-semite hates Israel. An ideology provides a picture of the world which explains what is wrong and what needs to be done. It justifies harsh decisions in the search for a greater end which always justifies the means.
Antisemitism is a new pernicious 21st century ideology that has steadily gained ground since the century opened. It has its writers and propagandists. It has its fellow travellers. It has its state promoters. It has its soft salon version and its hard killing version in the shape of Islamist terrorism. I use the word Islamist and Islamism deliberately as the Abrahamic relgion of Islam and Muslims themselves are quite capable of being a faith and a faithful which can live in peace and harmony with those of other faiths.
The late Samuel Huntingdon was wrong to lump in all Muslim nations as being on one side of the clash of civilisations. Indonesia or Turkey are not peopled by Muslims who want to destroy or kill. Nor do I believe that the majority of Muslims on the sub-continent of India are animated by Jew-hating ideology. Extremist Islamist parties in Pakistan actually get fewer votes as a share than do extreme right-wing anti-Jewish parties in France or in some local elections in Britain.
Anti-semitism is rife in many parts of the democratic world, especially in Europe and it is as an ideology that we should consider and confront it. I am not an expert on the ins and outs of Israeli politics and diplomacy and what Israel and her friends and allies should do to persuade Palestinians to renounce violence and seek a negotiated settlement. I am always surprised by the vehemence of people who pronounce on Israel and decide what should be done in the name of Israelis, or indeed for that matter, Palestinians.
Nor am I an expert on how the Jewish community and faith should be kept alive. There is a great deal of work in this area not the least in Europe where support is given to Jewish communities, notably in Germany where new synagogues have been sponsored by the German government and Jews from many parts of the world allowed to come to Germany to enjoy political freedom and economic possibility.
Instead I am a British politician who has spent much of my active political life fighting racism, extremism, intolerance and any ideology that denies to any group of human being their right to exist without fear of hate, persecution and worse.
Today the fight against anti-semitism is more important than ever. Old and new forms of anti-Semitism blend together to create a force field of hate. Right-wing academics in America produce a book proclaiming the oldest lie in the Jew-hating lexicon – that of the cabal, lobby or secret network that controls government policy or dictates politics or manipulates the media in favour of Jews and of Israel.
Given the almost universally bad press Israel gets and the mammoth hostility to Israel on many campuses in the Western world one might ask where the famous lobby actually is? The British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, has only one lengthy publication to his name. Entitled ‘Who are the Mind Benders’ it claims Jews have excessive influence in British television and newspapers often secretively as Jewish executives and journalists and editors have changed their name.
Mr Griffin’s BNP party does not advertise its anti-Semitism and keeps its mouth shut on Israel preferring other classic xenophobic politics such as hatred of foreigners, of immigrants, and of the European Union. But the BNP, which may well win seats from the UK in the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament in June is rooted in the antisemitism of its leaders and the antisemitism of the politics is inherited as it grew out of other rightist parties in the past.
As a former Foreign Office minister I have to not the rise of diplomatic antisemitism. This sadly could be seen in the behaviour of the Turkish prime minister Erdogan who attacked Jews in the Turkish parliament in a debate over the Gaza conflict. Mr Erdogan and previous Turkish leaders face their own version of Hamas, in the form of the PKK party, which has committed endless acts of terrorism against Turkey in its pursuit of a Kurdish state.
There are plenty of western supporters of the PKK and of Hamas, and supporters of the aspirations of the Kurdish people as there are supporters of the aspirations of the Palestinian people. But not for one second would Mr Erdogan accept criticisms about the Turkish army’s behaviour in its fight against the PKK or be told that Turkey had no right to take action using all its resources in the fight against the PKK.
Yet when Israel seeks to end the rain of rockets upon its population Mr Erdogan criticises Israel, crudely, loudly and publicly.. Let us not forget that Hamas has fired more rockets to kill Jews in Israel than the Nazis fired V1 and V2 rockets to kill Londoners in 1944. Churchill’s response was to bomb Germany even harder. Israel, according to part of the argument advanced by the Erdogans in the world, is meant to allow its citizens to be killed by the Jew-haters in Hamas without seeking to protect its own population.
This diplomatic double standard does not make its proponents conscious and willing antisemites and Turkey as well as its government has been more friendly to Jews and to Israel than any other majority-Muslim state in the eastern Mediterranean region. But there is comfort those who do hate Jews and hate Israel when they hear responsible leaders of democratic nations using language about Israel that they would never accept about their own actions to protect their people.
If one contrasts the tough actions taken by the British against the IRA – mass internment and accusations of torture; or the Spanish against ETA – the use of death squads and curbs on media freedom, it is pure hypocrisy for European leaders to criticise Israel.
Another example of political and media double standards encouraged is to portray Israel as a anti-Muslim state. Compared to the massacres of Muslims in India, in Kashmir, in Sudan just to take three egregious examples, the death toll of Muslims in the struggle over six decades in the borders of Israel-Palestine is much smaller.
Yet I never see Islamist protests about the thousands of Muslims killed by BJP Hindu nationalist extremists in Gujarat and elsewhere in India this century. Nor any reference in the press to Human Rights Watch estimate of 70,000 Kashmiri Muslims killed since 500,000 troops from India moved in 20 years to stamp down on Kashmiri protests about their political status.
Let me be clear. There is resurgent anti-Semitism in Europe – intellectual, political, Islamist, neo-fascist – and it is turning nasty and violent. Yet European leaders are not anti-Jewish. Britain’s Foreign Secretary is Jewish as is our Ambassador to the United States and as are other key leaders in the British state. Prime Minister Gordon Brown affirms his support for Israel and his passion for Jewish culture, religious ideals and humanist traditions. Gordon’s father chaired for 30 years the Israel committee of the Church of Scotland where he was a minister and Gordon learnt about Israel and the thousands of years of Jewish history at his father’s knee and dinner table. I spent last night in NYC with a friend, a Jewish diplomat who is star of the foreign office who affirms his Jewishness with pride. He reminded me that many if not most Jews in Britain lead rich fulfilling lives proud of their Britishness, proud of being European citizens, and clear in their support for Israel.
To be sure there are acts of violence – attacks on synagogues, insults in the street, random assaults on rabbis or Jews wearing the kippa or other marks of their faith. These are intolerable and the police need to crack down hard on them. The anti-Israel demonstrations, as ferocious in their fervour as the anti-American demonstrations during the Vietnam War, chant hideous ungly slogans – "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas" being one heard in Amsterdam in January. But these are condemned.
Courts take action. Indeed, there are two British racists who were condemned by a British Court and who jumped bail before their sentencing and fled via Ireland to the United States. They are now in Los Angeles being defended by civil rights lawyers who accuse the British courts of denying their clients their right to free speech.
One of the biggest purveyors of antisemitic hate is the Internet but whereas Europeans take action to shut down antisemitic web sites we do not see equal vigorous action from the United States authorities. And if one reads the history of state-sponsored antisemitic propagation the biggest purveyors of antisemitic hate are the Saudis via the Wahabi religion and the Egyptians via their television and publishing. Yet I have yet to hear a US president denounce Saudi and Wahabi anti-Semitism, rather the contrary as Saudi Wahabis have been the most intimate friends of successive US administrations.
So it is wrong to spray accusations that Britain or Europe are reverting to the 1930s when in fact we have failed collectively as a Euro-Atlantic community to see the new antisemitism as a whole and take action to expose, reject, and use the authority of the democratic state to punish those who disseminate anti-Semitic hate.
I came to this problem as a non-Jew when I was asked to set up a committee on inquiry into anti-Semitism by the British Parliament in 2005. We formed a traditional House of Commons committee on inquiry, with evidence sessions, visits, commissioned research. It was all-party with senior Conservatives and Liberal-Democrats, former ministers and chair of House Select Committee, as well as a Muslim Labour MP and Lady Sylvia Hermon MP from Northern Ireland.
None of the Commission members were Jews or active in the Middle East political debates that rage in British political life. Our report revealed an extent of under-reporting of antisemitic incidents and a worrying complacency by university authorities about intimidation of Jewish students on the campus. When our report came out Tony Blair ordered ministers to implement its recommendations and Gordon Brown and I emphasise all party leaders in Britain were fully supportive.
We took our report to other parliaments. Freom my time as Europe Minister and my knowledge of European languages and politics and working with some wonderful young people I have sought to highlight the question of contemporary antisemitism and the need for a political response at the European level, including the Council of Europe and the European Union.
This is patient political networking as there are no quick fixes and arguments have to be sustained in terms of the evil that antisemitism is in terms of harmony between faiths and communities in the different European countries. The struggle against antisemitism must not be conflated with unconditional and unqualified support for Israel right or wrong. If it is, we will fail. As I tell the university teachers’ or journalists’ unions who call for a boycott of Israel, the biggest criticisms of Israeli government policy are to be found in Israel herself and especially in Israeli media and universities. But because criticism of Israel is necessary just as criticism of American or British government policy is part and parcel of democracy - and Israel we have to continually remind the Israel-haters is the only democracy in the region - that does not mean any quarter, any tolerance, any acceptance of anti-Jewish ideology or anti-Semitic politics is to be accepted.
We have sought to take the example of our parliamentary commission to other parliaments and suggested they set up their own commission of enquiry. My good friend and fellow Labour MP, John Mann, who chairs the All-Party Antisemitism standing committee in the Commons has travelled far and wide, even to Latin America, to argue the case for parliamentary work to expose antisemitism.
Last month in London, we organised the first Inter-Parliamentary Coalition conference against anti-Semitism. There were MPs, and deputies, and senators from all over Europe, from Australia and a distinguished high level delegation from Canada. We met in the Commons, at Downing Street and in Lancaster House, just across from Buckingham Palace as Britain’s Foreign Office and the Prime Minister gave the conference full backing.
My friend Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League was there and the input from American friends from Jewish organisations and from universities was stimulating. The workshops were full of debate and passion and it was a thrill to see the struggle against anti-Semitism take this truly global expression.
One conference does not defeat antisemitism but it is the beginning of a fight-back and of saying to the Islamists, the president of Iran, to the right-wing European parties as well as the anti-semites of the left, No pasaran, you will not win.
But and there is always a but when discussing antisemitism. There was not a single report in a British newspaper about the conference despite important newsworthy speeches there by Italy’s foreign minister, my friend, Franco Frattini, about the Durban 2 conference and a very clear statement of UK government support on the need for international cooperation against antisemitism from Lord Malloch Brown, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office. There were moving testimonies from Moroccan and Tunisian delegates about the need for the Muslim world to defeat anti-semitism.
Yet if you Google the conference and search for a report in the New York Times, or the London Guardian, or Le Monde, or Der Spiegel of this major international report your search will come up with nothing. The accusation made by antisemities is that the Jews or - to use the contemporary American antisemitic trope, the "Israel Lobby" control or influence the media. I wish. Given the news blackout of the conference it is rather that the media do not want to admit that antisemitism is back and needs to be exposed, confronted and dealt with. In October 2008 I published a book called "Globalising Hatred: the new Antisemitism".. It got the best reviews of any book I have ever written. It was published by Orion, one of the UK’s biggest publishers. Yet bookstores in the UK refuse to put it on display or give it any prominence.
Again, one book by a non-Jew who thinks the issue of anti-Semitism is important and need exposing is neither here nor there. But if the media and book-selling establishment refuses to highlight the problem then the antisemites have already won a major battle in their 21st century campaign to see Israel wiped off the world’s map to use President Ahminajehad’s evil metaphor and to see universities again become Judenrein and to see Jews everywhere unable to be fully Jews with all the rights of faith, affiliation, community, learning and being that for so long over oo many centuries were denied to the Jewish people. So the struggle as ever goes on. But we will win.

How the G20 London Summit has made history

This article was published in the Yorkshire Post
G20 : History will take note of this first truly global gathering

3 April 2009
SOMETHING quite historic has happened. Forget all the headlines and photo-calls and grandstanding by national leaders profiling themselves for a domestic audience.
The London global summit has every chance of entering history as an event as important as the Congress of Vienna that drew up new rules for European peace after Napoleon's downfall; as significant as the Versailles Conference that invented the League of Nations after 1918; or as era-changing as the great meetings at the end of the Second World War that gave birth to the international institutions that ushered in long years of peace and prosperity six decades ago.Tennyson, England's great epic poet, foresaw the ambition of the London summit. He described "the Federation of the World" where "the common-sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe, And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law".Of course, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have to slash and lash at the Prime Minister. The duty of Her Majesty's Opposition parties is to oppose. And the first meeting of the Politburo of the Planet in London is unlikely to impact directly on one of my favourite restaurants, the Mayor's Parlour in Rotherham, whose owner sends me an email cri du coeur that her business may go under as customers cut back on spending.But Britain might be proud that at a crucial moment in world history, it is again the world's oldest democracy that has survived wars, economic upheaval, and huge social, religious and ethnic changes to keep the faith with democracy, rule of law and market economics to host this global gathering.Previous efforts to draw up rules to make the world a better place foundered on the absence of losers, or just a tiny group of powerful imperiums deciding among themselves what should be done.London yesterday was something quite different. The poorest of the planet from Asia, Africa and Latin America were there. The most important Muslim economy, Saudi Arabia, was present. The Russian and American president met and offered a massive build-down of nuclear weapons.No, they are not signing up for CND but those who have campaigned long and hard for a reduction in nuclear arsenals should take heart.Little noticed by the London media obsessing over Obama or falling for Elysée spin that Sarkozy would walk out were Latin American leaders like President Lula of Brazil or Presidents Calderon of Mexico and Kirchner of Argentina.Gordon Brown was mocked for travelling to Brazil and Chile last week. But this is the first time that Latin America has been given a global say at a high level in global politics. Only yesterday it seemed Latin America, and much of the rest of the world, was throbbing with fury against the United States and George W Bush. Now Britain has turned hate into co-operation and allowed the Obama balm to work its healing powers.The 19th and early 20th century efforts to create a ruling committee for world affairs foundered because of racial superiority or because the losers were excluded. Brown and Britain have helped create "win-win" global economic20governance.From now on, India and China have to accept responsibility in exchange for respectability. The white man's club that ruled the world since Colombus set sail has shut up shop. Making all the G20 promises and pledges work will require endless, patient work but no-one should doubt the achievement.In economic terms there will be a $2 trillion plus injection of demand into the world economy. This is the equivalent of creating the GDP of Britain and using it to increase demand. The IMF receives a three-fold boost to recycle to developing nations but the rich man's club committee of the IMF will have to allow more than the post-1945 Euro-atlantic nations to make its decisions.Banking will have to accept stricter national and supra-national regulation. Every crisis in capitalism has resulted not in its abolition as some noisy protesters demanded but its reform.Angela Merkel may be hoping for too much when she said it is time to give capitalism "a conscience". Money has no faith nor morality. Like water to live or oil to make an engine run, money is necessary and the more of it that is available the better. Despite the claims that Germany opposed spending, Berlin is actually boosting demand in its economy by as much if not more than Brita in. Berlin is offering £2,500 to anyone who trades in an old car for a new BMW or Mercedes – one of the biggest boosts via taxpayers' cash in German history.To be sure, one meeting does not save the world economy from the folly of banksters, still less governments that lived on tick or believed in building up giant surpluses like China and Germany. Both Berlin and Beijing now have an interest in working to get trade surpluses into circulation. Otherwise fewer and fewer BMWs and made-in-China goods will get sold.It is important to remember that the G20 is about economics. Locking together undemocratic China, semi-democratic Russia, India with half its population denied the right to read or write despite nominal Indian democracy, around the same conference table as rule-of-law, free expression democracies will be tricky. But jaw-jaw is always better than war-war. If, in time, nose pegs have to be put on to deal with dodgy rulers of not-very-democratic states in order to relaunch the economy or work for less conflict and more peace, so be it.It is not often that world history takes shape under our very eyes. After the Commons' Easter break, it will be politics as usual for Gordon=2 0Brown and Labour. As our history teaches us, being a successful world leader gets pages in history book but not necessarily votes in the ballot box.David Cameron, George Osborne, William Hague and Nick Clegg, who have sneered and mocked almost every decision or effort by Gordon Brown to inject demand into the UK economy or fashion a global response, should have the decency and courtesy to admit this has been a positive moment in British and global history. And Mr Brown deserves the praise that the rest of the world is showering on him.