The Israel lobby whitewashes human suffering

Some simple questions for Lorna Fitzsimons.

The chief executive of Bicom (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre) and former Labour MP for Rochdale, Lorna Fitzsimons, has posted a guest blog on The Staggers. Shock, horror, it's a 528-word defence of Israel and denunciation of Hamas. But it's what she doesn't say that is much more important than what she does.

Not one word of regret or sadness for the nine deaths on board the Mavi Marmara at the hands of Israeli naval commandos; only a vague reference to "the tragic events of the past week".

No proper acknowledgement of the heartbreaking humanitarian catastrophe inside Gaza, as a result of the three-year Israeli-Egyptian siege, besides a brief nod to "the toll being taken on ordinary Palestinians". In fact, the Bicom boss casually refers to the economic blockade on Gaza only as a set of "restrictions". How civilised! Here, in contrast, is the view of John Ging, director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza:

We have run out of words to describe how bad it is here.

I had planned to fisk the entire post from Fitzsimons but I couldn't be bothered. So I end with some rather simple but important questions for her to answer:

* Why is she opposed to coriander being allowed into Gaza?

* Why is she opposed to nutmeg being allowed into Gaza?

* Why is she opposed to dried fruit being allowed into Gaza?

* Why is she opposed to fishing rods being allowed into Gaza?

* Why is she opposed to newspapers being allowed into Gaza?

All of these items, as of 6 May, were on Israel's banned list. She supports the embargo, so perhaps she can tell us why the Gazans are deprived of ginger and nuts.

The reality, of course, is that the siege of Gaza is a form of "collective punishment", as the distinguished Jewish South African jurist Richard Goldstone concluded in his report for the UN last year. It is sickening to see a former British Labour MP defend such a cruel, immoral and sadistic policy.

 

UPDATE: Lorna Fitzsimons has responded to my post here. And I have made my own views clear, once again, in the comments section below her post.

 

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Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland