Tag Archives: Gaza

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Antisemitism

Yesterday a Sainsbury’s store in Holborn, London, removed kosher food from shelves fearing a pro Gaza anti Israel protest may destroy it, in their bid to force the supermarket chain to boycott Israeli produce.

The latest from the store:

The context is an incident which happened at a Tesco superstore in Birmingham:

[Previous article on Israel Gaza Conflict]

Indeed days ago attempts to force Tesco’s hand by consumer pressure were underway after this apparent response by them:

What has any of this to do with kosher food produced in Europe? Just change Israel Defence Forces, and State of Israel, to Jews. This is not about achieving peace. It is about retribution against anyone that goes against this kind of group think:

A mob is out there, and coming to a store near you. One that is anti-Jewish and not just appalled by the response of the Israeli military, and frustration no political settlement to improve the lives of the Palestinians has been reached. The same mob that called President Abbas out of touch last year when he said:

“No, we do not support the boycott of Israel,” the Palestinian leader told a group of South African reporters on Monday. “But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal.

“And the Israelis should first of all stop building in our territories, should stop everything in our territories,” he stated, according to South African media outlet The Star.

“But we do not ask anyone to boycott Israel itself,” he reiterated. “We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.” [Source]

Thuggish intimidation against Jewish people is not a political protest. It is antisemitism. We must stand against it together. Consumer boycotts are a personal choice. You may promote them. That is your democratic right. Even if they are not the answer but something that feels like a response.

We have to continue challenging antisemitism. That is something we all should be doing in the face of the mob.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Warsi Leaves Government


When you have to remind your boss of the job you do in your resignation letter, usually it is a sign that leaving is the right option. Clearly you have lost their confidence. Your choice is to be ignored or to try things on the outside.

Warsi may have resigned on a point of principle and out of pique and self aggrandisement. They do not have to be mutually exclusive. A junior minister resigning due to foreign policy over Israel will not cause the government to miss a step.

With the centenary of the First World War, the resignations of several cabinet members in the build up then really were significant but did not change foreign policy. Those were also on a point of principle. Perhaps it is too rare a thing in modern politics.

Warsi was everything a rebranded Conservative Party needed. True, she was never elected an MP. However, she had drive, brains, she came from an ethnic minority and faith, and as from Yorkshire you could be sure she was all woman and much more. From the House of Lords she was given a place at the cabinet table, that her status as a junior minister did not otherwise warrant.

The problem for Government was she felt this made her an equal player at the table. The briefings before the recent reshuffle and since her resignation indicate she was not considered so. Inside government, instead of being a team player, she ran her own issue parallel platform. Challenging the government line on extremism while promoting faith initiatives at it’s heart saying it was “the most pro-faith government in the world.”


She stressed all faith at the high table of public policy, while treating secularist concerns as from “fundamentalists”. For example in the Cambridge speech (that I wrote on here) she also said:

I was concerned with what I saw was public policy being secularised.

To the extent that Christmas was being downgraded.

Stating that:

Giving religion a voice at the top table. Not a privileged position, but an equal informer of the debate.

It is only fair to point out Islamists hated her too for not being a political Islamist. She wanted the Church of England strengthened, recognising the church’s reinforcing faith in public furthered her own views of religious pluralism involved at highest levels of public policy.


The result of all this – secularists, Islamists, progressives and inner Cabinet members all had grievances with her. At the reshuffle key allies of her happened to be removed. It was becoming clear with the “Trojan Horse plot” public institutions like schools were being used to enforce narrow religious views on children.

The public face of religious faith, the most prominent woman and Muslim invited to the Cabinet table was no longer the photogenic asset for the government. Other women had leapfrogged her. Not unreasonably, she might have been getting tired of playing the typecast – she had ideas and things to do. As her remit played with values Conservative voters, her behind the scenes haranguing was barely tolerated. It was better in the tent, even if she did sometimes piss people off.

So Cameron – under pressure to have more women in the Cabinet in the last reshuffle before the election – really could not dismiss her. However, there was no desire to promote her. To a position where rather than trying to influence, she might actually set the agenda. Warsi’s tragedy was not to realise the need to be a team player or to be extraordinarily competent. The result: she was never going to go higher but sacking her was too costly politically. However much pressure there was for her dismissal.


For the insults flying around, Warsi is smart enough to realise all this. Maybe she was prepared to see it out till the General Election. She might have seen a way to try and influence the arms review supplying Israel. Still tried to shape how the education department tackled religion in state schools. If the current ceasefire holds, how a lasting political settlement for the Palestinians and Israel might be helped by foreign policy.

We all know she was not in a position to do those things. She might have been at the table, but she had not been invited to change things unless told to do so. Attending otherwise as the spectre at the feast. Eventually the appearance of power wears thin when you realise you need to change things, to stamp your mark. Yet no one lets you.

Her exit, when we may be near the end of the month long Operation Protective Edge, is late in the day, but just in time to catch the headlines. The chance for her to talk about the principles and ideas she has while in the news cycle. To build on a political career outside of government to rapturous applause for having a principle.

While some are trashing her for using Gaza as a self serving platform for herself (see cartoon) it is no less a play than the timing of Russia Today journalists suddenly finding a conscience to resign. Then being invited to talk about your views at length to fill air time for a day of two.

The illusion of power drains whether it is all about you, or you really have big ideas to change the world. What her resignation boils down to, is Warsi being accused of playing politics to further herself and her ideas. Which is a ludicrous charge to level at a politician. Of course she will, if that is the only way.

She might have wanted to be Foreign Secretary, though she did not show that competence to her boss for that. Now the world is listening to her over Gaza and Israel. I am just glad she is no longer in Government. While I doubt she will affect government policy, she could be used as a thorn in the government’s side by opponents. Rather than a wrecking ball as they will try to make her out to be.

For those talking about the impact on the government, may I just remind you of Clare Short?


Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Gaza, Israel and Palestine


Empathising with all sides in a conflict usually is seen as an abhorrence for war. Dismay at the horrific scenes of bloodshed and mayhem. Anger, at the dehumanising used to justify atrocities.

My humanism denounces mentalities that see people as less than human. Both sides in Gaza and Israel have failed on this score. The failure is death and destruction. The murder of kidnapped children rather than bringing communities together, showing solidarity with one another, has led instead to each side bombing one another.

Hamas are evil theological thugs that deny freedom to Palestinians in daily life, let alone any chance for a two state solution. Launching rockets that send Israelis running for cover achieve one thing. The invitation for Israel to respond militarily. Hamas human shields are in place to increase the civilian death toll in an already compact, densely populated area.

Somehow the destruction of disabled centres, and the killing of a Hamas police chief with 17 members of his families included in the attack, are made viable by some. This is what demands for security do. Israel has the right to defend itself from attacks, rather than just rely on the Iron Dome missile defence system. Yet the retaliation goes beyond the concept of legitimate military targets.

Airstrikes oblige Hamas with the pictures that reverberate around the world. The horror is visual. Charred flesh, bloodied infants. The deflection is that Israel should not live in fear and Palestinians must stop Hamas. Or else this will be the response. Get a backbone I am told, and accept collateral damage is inevitable and a price worth paying. Never mind this appears as collective punishment on the innocent. Because it is.

There is an iron dome to criticism of Israel playing into terrorist hands, and the delay of a peaceful solution. A proportionate response is replaced with shock and awe. So forget the illegal settlements, because people in Tel Aviv are running for their lives as sirens ring out. Netanyahu will get a poll bounce as a hawk defending the State of Israel, against backdrop of countries that wish to annihilate it. If they could.

The dove of peace is cowed once again. The peacemakers are in hiding as people run for cover. Those cheering on the bombardment from either side will denounce this piece as naive and giving succour to one side.

Those kidnapped murdered children have been failed twice, once in life and now in death. The world watches. But we should not be silent. A ceasefire must be called by all sides, a way to peace must be found. That gives dignity to Palestinians and security to Israel.

How to achieve? Only by goodwill and abhorrence of violence on all sides talking to each other. At present that is a pipe dream buried under the smouldering rubble in Gaza.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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My Conversation with Robert Spencer via Twitter

The challenge I wanted us to have with Robert Spencer took place for me with him unplanned on Twitter today.

As mentioned in recent posts I support absolutely free speech and was against the Home Secretary’s decision to ban Robert Spencer and Pam Geller from entering the country.

I wanted them here in the UK so we could challenge them and hear directly from them.

Instead via twitter ended up having an exchange with Robert Spencer.

I am going to leave it to you dear readers to decide what to make of the exchange today. Which started with Robert suggesting Maryam Namazie was only critical of Israel and not Hamas:


The photo included above was this one:


The exchange continued:


The link Rob gave above is here and my quote below comes from there




[Clarification after posting: The 1/2 in the above tweet is “first of two parts” with the second part below – Israeli deaths in 2008/9 Gaza action was 12, of which 4 due to friendly fire]




My article criticising Mo Ansar and Mehdi Hasan on Israel



Link to Robert airing Srebrenica genocide as a conspiracy here and most recently here






Charming man is not the first word that comes to mind. Rather than debate issues or take into account what is said he would rather smear others.

It is true I support free speech, but my bedfellows are not ones who wet the bed and call it a conspiracy against them when we point out the stink they have caused.

Follow Up Blog: Huff and Puff on Srebrenica Genocide Denial

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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