(Carl) concerning the disruption of an appearance by the Batsheva Dance Company at the Edinburgh (Scotland) Dance Festival:
The most amazing thing about this comment blasting that disruption and others is that it appears in al-Guardian. It’s a comment by the granddaughter of the founder of the Edinburgh Dance Festival.
As Batsheva are an ethnically mixed group of performers who danced to a “mash up” including the Star Wars theme and Wagner and who, at home, have incurred the wrath of the Orthodox community for a routine involving them stripping off to a Passover song, it would seem bizarre to hold them responsible for any Israeli government policies. Surely it would make as much sense to blame the ballerinas of the Mariinsky (formerly the Kirov) for Putin’s human rights abuses. Indeed, Batsheva’s choreographer, Ohad Naharin, has said he is “in disagreement” with his government whereas the prima ballerina of the Mariinsky, Diana Vishneva, has maintained a studied silence over the fate of Pussy Riot.
But while Mariinsky played a sumptuous Cinderella at the Festival theatre to sell out audiences, with a line of chauffeur-driven cars waiting outside to pick up dignitaries, including government ministers, the Batsheva had a very different fate. Their show played to half-empty houses and was continually disrupted inside the theatre. It was a tense and nervous – if well-coiffed in shades of grey – Edinburgh contemporary dance audience that made it into the foyer through the hundreds of shouting demonstrators taking up most of the pavement outside.
The night I was there, the show was stopped three times; the next night it was four. As an audience member, I must confess I felt alarmed and vulnerable. I didn’t know what was about to happen. The 82-year-old Dutchman next to me patted my arm and murmured: “This is not Kristallnacht. I remember that”
Despite the courage and professionalism of the performers on stage it must have been a nerve-racking gig for them; in other countries protesters have remained outside the theatre. No one was arrested for any of the disruptions, the Scottish police taking the view that it was not illegal.
The dancers were being held responsible for the situation of Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza on the very thin grounds that their work had been praised by the Israeli government and they take government money – both things that apply to the Mariinsky.
A group of Scottish writers headed by Scotland’s national poet Liz Lochhead (who has also taken government money on occasion) even wrote to the press calling for a cultural boycott of all Israeli companies and artists. This was what was effectively being imposed on the rest of us by the pickets outside.
I felt personally deeply ashamed and upset that these renowned international artists who were visiting the EIF were unable to perform their show in peace.It’s striking how author Jackie Kemp saw through the double standard that was applied to the Batsheva dancers. I believe that others see it but choose to ignore it.Read the whole thing. The post is supposed to be open to comments ‘Sunday morning’ London time. At this writing (Noon London time – this is a ‘scheduled’ post), it is not yet open to comments. When it does open to comments, you may want to have your screen capture utility ready since many of the comments will be quickly deleted.
Sex trafficking victims reveal horror of witchcraft and torture being used to enslave women in Scotland | Vlad TepesJanuary 30, 2012
Exclusive by Annie Brown
VICTIMS of human sex trafficking have told how they were enslaved by witchcraft, torture and death threats in modern-day Scotland. The harrowing stories of ten women were compiled by campaigners investigating the world’s fastest growing organised crime. Nine came from Africa, one from South America.In one of the testimonies to a Glasgow charity, a 21-year-old told how she was branded and forced to take a “witchcraft oath” to prevent her escaping. She said: “I had to take the oath. I was given this mark on my hand. I was told that this mark, if you tell anyone what has transpired, you are going to die. “They gave me a razor blade to eat, they took my armpit hair, they removed my nails from my toes and my fingers. “They removed the hair on my body, they tied it up and put it in this shrine, then they tear my body and told me that if I tell anyone, ‘you will just die’. When I saw the shrine, it was so big, I was so scared.”The women tell their stories in research commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The main centres for sex trafficking are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Paisley, Stirling and Falkirk but it also touches small towns and villages. So far Scotland has had just one successful prosecution – while there have been 150 in England and Wales. Human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy, who headed the investigation, said: “As a criminal lawyer I have heard and read many stories of women being beaten, abused and suffering psychological torment, so there is not much that shocks me. “However, the evidence that we took from women not only shocked me, as it would any woman, but resolved me to ensure their voices, their experiences, their insights, were heard.
“These are stories of ordinary women – mothers, daughters and sisters – vulnerable due to poverty and discrimination, being deceived into Scotland and subjected to horrifying sexual violation.
“These violations occur across Scotland, and not only in our cities; the women and girls are exploited indoors, in private “sex” flats, not in shadowy back streets. They may seem fine and in control when in fact they are mentally shackled and controlled by traffickers.
“It is now up to us all to work together – across our families and communities, our villages, towns and cities, and in our politics – to identify and, together, rid Scotland of the modern slavery in our midst.”
Kennedy published a report on Scotland’s failure to tackle trafficking last November – but this is the first time the voices of victims have been heard.
The research found women are trafficked from across the globe to Scotland but mainly from Nigeria, China and Brazil and many come via England.
But there is evidence that an increasing number are taken straight to Scotland.
All of the victims had been vulnerable in their home countries.
Many had lost family, were fleeing poverty, abuse or tribal violence and had turned to trusted community “aunties and uncles”.
The women were mainly locked in flats and rooms, forced to have sex with up to 15 men a day, beaten and not allowed to use contraception.
Their passports were taken and they were told their families would be killed if they tried to leave. Even when the women became pregnant they still had to have sex with punters.
Women who were considered “new” were particularly popular in brothels.
Some even talk of their children being held with them. One woman was locked in a room with her daughter who had to listen to her mother being raped.
She said: “There was a room attached to my bedroom with a toilet and a shower. The trafficker said that I should look smart as it is money I have to make.
“When men came, the trafficker would unlock the door and take my daughter away.
“While I was with these men I could hear my daughter crying in the other room. It was terrible. When the men were finished they would use the bathroom and then leave.”
Women from Africa described their traffickers as powerful people within tribal communities who had connections with corrupt officials.
The EHRC report said: “These women report being controlled using oaths or juju magic.”
A 21-year-old described how she was forced to take alcohol and drugs so that she would be compliant.
Money was paid to a madam who forced her to work seven days a week and beat her if she failed to keep customers happy.
She said: “It was so painful, they were so rough, they didn’t care, they just wanted satisfaction.
“I saw more than 10 men a day and because I was new, everyone wanted to have me. People waited for me.
“When I finished with one they say go and have this liquid, wash up. My body was so painful.”
The ten women who gave their testimonies had all come through the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), a Scotland-wide support service based in Glasgow.
The interviewees were aged 21 to 33, nine of them from Africa, including Somalia, Nigeria, Gambia, Uganda and Kenya, and one from South America. The women had all fled their traffickers.
A couple were helped to escape by regular customers but the men who intervened were the exception.
When one woman told a customer she had been trafficked he became more brutal, while another punter only helped a woman to escape so that he could use her for himself. He abandoned her when she fell pregnant.
One victim said she repeatedly told punters she was trafficked and needed help, yet only one assisted her.
The man, a regular trusted by the trafficker, took the girl to his house, gave her a little money and dropped her at the Scottish Refugee Council.
Another girl was freed when the police raided a brothel and one who had been captive for ten years was found unconscious by police and taken to hospital.
Many victims were told they were under constant surveillance but one Nigerian girl took a chance when her female trafficker went to London.
The victim said: “She said that I could not leave the house. She said that she had people watching me. All she would do was to call the house, if nobody answered then she would know.
“All of this time I was looking out the window. I was thinking to myself who could be watching me? Who would be watching if I just took a step outside? If I left the house? I was so scared. I cannot even remember leaving.”
The victim had been trafficked as a child to north-east England and was then moved to be sexually exploited in Glasgow.
In one account, a victim took a chance when, on her way to the toilet, she noticed the flat door was open.
“I was terrified the men had set a trap for me so I just went to the toilet.
“When I came out I saw the door was still open. I was very scared but I took a chance and ran out.
“I came to the landing and saw three doors. The first two I tried were shut fast. I thought about returning to the flat but the third door opened. I went through this door and there were stairs. I ran down many flights of stairs. I ran out of the flats.”
The victim had been trafficked from Africa and was only prostituted in Scotland. She was trafficked by a trusted community member she turned to after witnessing the murder of her parents and grandparents by the police.
When she ran out of the flat she stopped a couple of female passers-by – the first refused to help but the second took her by bus to the Scottish Refugee Council.
The UK news section of the Guardian’s website included on July 10th an article about the British ‘flytilla’ participants detained at Ben Gurion airport last Friday. In it, much is made of both the ages and ‘respectability’ of the arrested Britons, with their ages and professions meticulously listed, apparently according to information provided by the organisers of the British ‘flytilla’ contingent, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
There’s a retired statistician (66), a community worker, a retired university lecturer (83), a retired nurse (77) and an Open University research fellow (61), which all sounds terribly tame and benign until one takes note that the chairman of the SPSC, 64 year-old Mick Napier, is also described solely as a “university teacher”. Readers will no doubt remember Mr Napier’s name from the article Comment Is Free Watch published with regard to the SPSC’s recent attempts to persuade Dundee council to implement a boycott of Israeli goods. It is worth viewing that video again in order to comprehend exactly what the Hizbollah-praising Mr Napier stands for.
Another name mentioned in the Guardian article is that of former Parliamentary candidate Pippa Bartolotti – deputy leader of the Wales Green Party and a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Ms Bartolotti initially managed to evade detention at the airport in Tel Aviv and was interviewed by RT – but was also later detained.
“How can we be a threat?” protests Ms. Bartolotti, making the most of her staid appearance and fluent English.
Oh dear, Pippa – you weren’t being entirely honest with that reporter, were you? No mention of your trip to Syria last October as part of George Galloway’s ‘Viva Palestina’ convoy. No reference to the fact that you had yourself photographed in Latakia, beaming away enthusiastically whilst sporting your ‘Viva Palestina’ badge and holding the flag of the Syrian Socialist National Party – a Nazi outfit.
“They greet their leaders with a Hitlerian salute; sing their Arabic anthem, “Greetings to You, Syria,” to the strains of “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”; and throng to the symbol of the red hurricane, a swastika in circular motion.”
“These are the hallmarks of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), the oldest terrorist organization in existence today and one of the most secret and deadly. Despite its long history of violence, Western security organs were recently taken by surprise when they learned that a well-camouflaged arm of the SSNP had succeeded in setting up a large terror network in Western Europe—complete with safe houses, weapons caches, and forged passports—and that it was the SSNP that had set off a series of deadly explosions in the heart of Paris, to gain the release of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah. The United States, too, has felt the effects of the SSNP. The explosion aboard a TWA flight nearing Athens in April of 1986, which cost the lives of four passengers—one of them an infant—has been traced to May Mansur, of Tripoli, a veteran member of the SSNP, who debarked at a previous stopover after placing a bomb under her seat.”
The Green Party, of which Pippa Bartolotti is a prominent member, repeatedly insists that it deplores all forms of racism, including antisemitism, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to take such protestations at face value, and certainly one would expect any genuine anti-racist to run a mile in the opposite direction to a Nazi party embellished with blatant Nazi imagery. The involvement of the Green Party in the PSC is equally worrying, in particular in light of the PSC’s promotion of a Hamas website, its involvement in the invitation of Hamas-linked speakers and its silencing of any criticism of the terrorist group.
Pippa Bartolotti and her ‘flytilla’ friends may be so used to flirting with fascists as part of their radical chic hobby that they are no longer able to separate anti-racist wheat from Islamist and Nazi chaff. Here in Israel, however, we – out of necessity – have our eyes wide open on these subjects, which is why we do not take lightly the appearance of hundreds of supporters of such ideologies on our doorstep. We do also not fall into the kind of ageist stereotypes – of which this article and some of last Friday’s Tweets from various ‘flytilla’ supporters are prime examples – which assume that people are unable or incompetent just because they are ‘middle aged’ or ‘retired’.
Rather than this application of cosmetic surgery to the ‘flytilla’ activists, the Guardian would better serve its readers and the British public in general by explaining exactly what kinds of ideologies they stand for: an issue which is no less crucial to contemporary Britain than it is to Israel.
And a final question must go to Pippa Bartolotti, as well as her other PSC-supporting friends in the British Green party and indeed to the Guardian too, which prides itself on its ‘Green’ section: how exactly, from an ecological point of view, do they justify their involvement in and support for the creation of the hundreds of tons of harmful carbon emissions resulting from hundreds of people making totally unnecessary plane journeys purely for the purpose of political provocation?
Scottish "cleansed the presence of Israeli books." like the Holocaust: Denying people the ability to read and think for themselves.May 30, 2011
|…They’re claiming that they didn’t ban Israeli books,
only books printed in Israel….
- Recently several districts in southwest Scotland have expanded the boycott on Israeli products, and are now barring stores from carrying English translations of Israeli books. Shortly after Operation Cast Lead, the West Dunbartonshire Regional Council, located west of Glasgow, approved a bill that called to boycott goods produced in Israel. After the raid on the Turkish Flotilla to Gaza, the boycott included “a ban on the purchase of English translations of Israeli books and the distribution of these books in public libraries throughout the council’s jurisdiction.”
The Scottish city of Dundee also joined the West Dunbartonshire by distributing “posters…calling on some 150,000 residents to refrain from buying Israeli goods.” Israeli products will also have a special mark placed on them to make them more identifiable. No other country’s books are being boycotted.
It is expected that “ten more Scottish councils may join the boycott.”
As Giulio Meotti has written, “it is impossible to make an exhaustive list of the economic actions against Israel, with radical anti-Jewish venom spreading through the West” and as Caroline Glick has written, “what did [Israel ever] do to the Scots?”
The Scottish decision is the first time that a European region has actually “cleansed the presence of Israeli books.” It is reminiscent of all the evil associated with the Holocaust – from marking the books to denying people the ability to read and think for themselves.
Meotti, author of A New Shoah: the Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism poignantly calls for “European intellectuals to stand for truth because the worst of all anti-Jewish persecutions, that of Hitler, almost marked the end of European history. Now it may happen again.”
This despicable Scottish decision to ban Israeli books “is eerily reminiscent of darker times” and demonstrates how far “respectable antisemitism has come.” Anti-Zionism is the new name for antisemitism and “a place that boycotts books is not far from a place that burns them.”
West Dunbartonshire Council utterly refutes recent media claims that it has ‘launched a boycott on Israeli books’.
The Council’s boycott does not in any way seek to censor or silence authors and commentators from Israel.
The Council’s boycott only relates to goods ‘made or grown’ in Israel. The vast majority of mainstream books by Israeli authors are published in the UK and are therefore not affected by this boycott. Only books that were printed in Israel and transported to the UK for distribution would be potentially boycotted.
In the two and a half years the boycott has been in place there has never been a case when the library service has been unable to purchase a book it wished to as a result of this boycott.
Contrary also to some media reports the boycott is not retrospective and absolutely no books have been or will be removed from our library shelves as a consequence of the motion.