Monday, 6 July 2015

Response to Stephen Regal in the JEP




On the 6th July the JEP published not just one, but three letters criticising me for having the temerity to set up a group whose purpose is to suggest that the government might want to cool it down when engaging with a country in the Middle East which regularly invades its neighbours and massacres large numbers of civilians. You'd have thought that might be considered a noble enterprise, but apparently not to some people (one a former States deputy would you believe?).

Needless to say, not a single argument employed in those letters stands up to any scrutiny (most can be disproved in 30 seconds on Google) and they have actually done the opposite of their purpose which is to have disenthused those of us who care about the Palestinian tragedy.

I have sent the JEP a response to the first of the three letters in which the writer says that I would fail to rise to the challenge of criticising the Arab dictatorships too. I've simply drawn his attention to three occasions where I have not only rose to the challenge, but probably surpassed it too.

But the most serious of the letters was from Stephen Regal. His lengthy letter was possibly the poorest argument I have ever read on the Middle Eastern conflict and I cannot let the outrageous things he said go unchallenged, though it is impossible to do so in a letter short enough to be published in the JEP, so I have produced it here instead -



Mr Regal wrote his letter without making the slightest attempt to get in contact with me to investigate what the purpose of the new group was going to be, what my views on other conflicts in the region were or what experience I have. This makes his claims that I am somehow ignorant to be almost comically ironic.

He begins his letter by stating that he wished to take issue with my statement “last year as Israel was launching another of its regular bombardments of the Gaza Strip killing hundreds of innocent children…” Well the first thing to point out there is that, as a matter of objective fact, there is nothing to take issue with there as it is all completely true and verified by both Amnesty International and the United Nations (not organisations I’d recommend taking umbrage with).

Last year Israel launched the paradoxically named “Operation Protective Edge” in which 2,251 Gazans were killed, with 65% of them civilians (United Nations figures). Conversely, 74 Israelis were killed, 6 of them civilians. To put it another way - for every one Israeli civilian killed there were 244 Palestinian civilians killed.

At the end of 2008 Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in which around 1,400 Gazans were killed, 926 of them civilians. Conversely, 13 Israelis were killed, 3 of them civilians and 4 soldiers killed by other Israeli soldiers. To put it another way – for everyone one Israeli civilian killed there were 309 Palestinian civilians killed.

Israel’s incursions into Gaza are both regular and deadly. Therefore my statement was completely factually accurate and left nothing whatsoever to take issue with, unless you seek to deny (or in this case cast doubt on) that fact.

So let’s move on –

The next paragraph begins with “Sadly Deputy Mézec fails to mention the fact that-”. Let me get this out of the way first – there are trillions of facts I failed to mention. Why? Because I had to condense my statement to the media onto one side of A4. They then further condensed it down into a quarter of a page in the JEP.

Just because I failed to mention a particular fact does not mean that I automatically reject that fact.

Prior to Israel’s engagement [sic] in Gaza last year more than 2,500 rockets had been fired at Israeli civilian targets in the period immediately prior to Israel’s operation and more than 10,000 rockets in total”.

I’ll be clear – I utterly condemn every single rocket that is fired by a militant group in Palestine. They are wrong to do so and they should stop immediately. I could not be more unambiguous.

What betrays any hope of intellectual calibre from his argument is the inference written across every word of his letter that because I did not fit anything about the crimes of Hamas in my one side of A4 that I am somehow an apologist for them.

Hamas are a deeply nasty organisation who I have no truck with. Were I a Palestinian I would be a supporter of a secular and non-militant Socialist political party instead. What I am intending to form in Jersey is a Palestinian Solidarity Group, not a Hamas Solidarity Group. The fact he equates the two as being the same shows how ignorant he actually is and displays the same mentality that is actually causing such strife on the road to peace.

As an elected politician here in Jersey how would he wish our elected government to respond if our nearest neighbour behaved in such a manner?

There is no need to try to ask us to imagine this hypothetical scenario because what he is describing has actually happened!

For decades the United Kingdom was subjected to terrorist attack after terrorist attack committed by the Irish Republican Army. They murdered a member of the Royal Family and came close to murdering the Prime Minister, all in the name of the political cause of ending the British state in the north of Ireland.

What did Britain do in response? Did we bomb Dundalk? Did we send the SAS into Dublin? Did we enforce a blockade on the Republic of Ireland, stopping basic necessities from getting in?

No, because Britain is a civilised country. Instead, we learnt that the only way that you make peace with your enemies is by talking to them and recognising when their demands are legitimate.

The demands of the Palestinian people are legitimate. Their country was stolen from them. Their people were cast asunder to the four corners of the Earth. Millions of their compatriots live in refugee camps where they are subjected to inhumane conditions (and sometimes even massacre at the behest of the Israeli Defence Force, as with Sabra and Chatila).

But if we really do want to talk about hypotheticals, let’s have a go -

Imagine tomorrow the Breton diaspora from around the world decide that they are going to invade the Channel Islands on the tenuous basis that our Islands were once part of Brittany over a thousand years ago.

After a brief bit of fighting most of us Jersey folk end up retreating to Alderney.

Those of us left in Jersey are banned from forming political groups which advocate allowing their families displaced in the war to come back home. Meanwhile, anyone who claims Breton heritage is allowed to come to Jersey to occupy a home once lived in by a Jersey family, regardless of whether they have ever even set foot in this hemisphere.

Once in a while the Breton air force sends it’s bombers (paid for from billions of dollars of American aid) to bomb our already densely populated area, killing huge numbers of civilians in the process. They do drop leaflets beforehand to let us know they are going to bomb, but then they shoot at any of us who dare attempt to leave the Island by boat to seek safety.

The Breton regime in Jersey openly admits that the purpose of the blockade of Alderney is designed to keep the population as malnourished as possible to ensure that they are not capable of effectively fighting back.

When Jersey people in Alderney dare have the temerity to say they’d like their Island back, the world lambasts them as terrorists, whereas the Bretons who occupy their Island are called the victims.

There is the Palestinian nakba for you.

Bearing in mind Israel does not occupy one centimetre of Gaza, having unilaterally withdrawn in 2005.”

Unilaterally withdrawing after how many decades of occupation and stealing of land to place Israeli settlers there? The incredulity of that whitewash there was pretty lame.

But this as a statement is further evidence of the intellectual bankruptcy of his argument.

It may well be the case that Israel does not currently physically occupy the Gaza Strip (let’s conveniently ignore the occupation of the West Bank for now) but in case you hadn’t noticed, they run the strictest embargo on the planet.

Gaza’s airport was destroyed by Israel, so nothing gets in or out by air. Israel tightly guards its sea ports, so nothing gets in or out without Israel’s permission (in fact just a few days ago they refused to allow a charity convoy in, though they managed to stop them without killing anyone, unlike last time).

After Operation Cast Lead Israel told the United Nations it would allow materials in to rebuild the homes they destroyed, yet years later the UN confirmed that 75% of what they had pledged to do had not happened.

The electricity supply to Gaza is turned off if they are struggling to power the air conditioning in Tel Aviv.

And I know what some will be itching to say. “Aha, he hasn’t criticised the Egyptians who also share a border with Gaza which they refuse to allow goods through either!” Wrong. I deplore the Egyptian dictatorship as I deplore all of the Arab governments whose human rights records are appalling.

To say Gaza is not occupied is clearly a matter of semantics. Israel still more or less controls what can and cannot happen there. It may as well be occupied.

Here is my favourite bit though – “He also fails to mention that BDS targets only Israel in spite of the horrors perpetrated by the so-called Isis against all and sundry”.

Really, Mr Regal? REALLY?

If anyone can point out to me any shop on the high street that is selling goods provided to them by ISIS I give you my cast iron guarantee that I will never shop there again in my life.

How are we meant to boycott ISIS when there is nothing to boycott in the first place? They don’t sell us goods, they don’t provide us with software and the British government has already banned us from heading to their controlled territories on holiday.

He fails to mention the excesses of the Syrian regime in its ongoing civil war”.

Yes, it wasn’t on my one side of A4.

In other forums I have regularly criticised the conduct of Bashar al Assad who I believe to be a class A maniac and whose demise cannot come soon enough (on the condition that he isn't just replaced by ISIS or another religious fundamentalist ruler).

Not one word does Deputy Mézec utter regarding the activities of Iran and its nuclear aspirations

Well partly because it doesn’t have any but he hasn’t let facts get in the way so far so why start now?

Benjamin Netanyahu is about the only person on the planet who still believes that Iran is after nuclear weapons. Even Mossad have told him that it isn't true. He simply pedals the lie and drums up fear because it's about the only thing he can make political capital out of given how extremist far-right his political views are.

But it’s incredibly ironic for someone to lament the right of Iran (a country which has not invaded another country in over 200 years and is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) to obtain nuclear weapons whilst defending a country which has hundreds of illegally obtained nuclear weapons and last invaded another country just over 200 days ago. The hypocrisy is excruciating.

Oh and by the way, I’m a unilateralist. I oppose all countries possessing nuclear weapons. But I wasn’t sure where to fit that fact on my one side of A4.

or Russia’s takeover of large parts of Ukraine

Again, not much room for it on my one side of A4. But it’s quite rich for someone to be indignant about one country occupying another country’s territory in a letter in which you are defending Israel.

Sadly one can only put one construction upon BDS singling out the only democratic [sic] country in the Middle East, that is resurgence of the centuries old basic anti-Semitism

Oh dear, here we go…

I believe that when it comes to BDS there are few greater advocates than the British Labour Party MP Sir Gerald Kaufman who has in recent years spoken out about the war crimes committed by Israel and in support of boycotting Israel until the electorate there feel their standard of living going down as a clear consequence of their refusal to elect governments who are genuinely interested in peace.

Can somebody please explain to me how Kaufman, whose family was murdered in the Holocaust and who grew up an ardent Zionist, is anti-Semitic? I’m fascinated to see a justification of how such an accusation can claim to have a place in what should be a civilised political debate.

I’m not saying that Deputy Mézec is anti-semitic

Quite right he is not. If he had I would not be writing a blog, but would be on the telephone to a lawyer.

I have no doubt whatsoever that there are people whose support for Palestine is motivated by their hatred of Jews. If one of these people ever attempts to infiltrate the Palestinian Solidarity Association, once I’ve calmed down my initial urge to punch them, I will throw them out and they will never be allowed back in again.

Anti-Semitism is a vile form of racism. But it is not the same thing as wanting to see an end to the crimes being perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

In fact some of the most important contributors to the Palestinian struggle have been Jews.

Sir Gerald Kaufman as I mentioned before, Miko Peled, Norman Finkelstein, the list goes on.

Do not fall into the trap of assuming that opposition to the crimes committed by the State of Israel is the same thing as hating Jews. It is not, and it could prove to be a very costly supposition to make.

I can’t particularly be bothered to explain in detail why the list of products Mr Regal has claimed we should be boycotting is nonsense given the headache I already have, but I will point out the hilarity of his claim that we’ll have to boycott phones because Motorola has Israeli connections (I use a Samsung by the way…), that is about as intellectually robust as the rest of his argument.

Above all perhaps Deputy Mézec’s time would be better spent exercising his mind dealing with issues we Islanders face here at home

I wonder how often Mr Regal reads the JEP. I’m in it virtually every other day for this reason or for that reason. Whether it is about the political party which I have formed to campaign on a platform of social justice, or the propositions we bring to the States with the explicit intention of benefiting lower and middle income earners in Jersey, or the huge amount of constituent casework that we are known for, often taking up cases for people who don’t even live in our constituencies.

If he is genuinely concerned about issues of social justice and would like States Members to do more to help Islanders here, why doesn’t he direct some of his indignation at the low calibre of States Member that is mostly elected here (with very few exceptions) or to our actual democratic system which perpetuates ineffective and inefficient government which has gotten us to the point of building up a £125m deficit and upcoming tax rises for ordinary working Islanders plus £60m of cuts to public sector jobs. Might that not actually be a better cause to use a platform for speaking out on?

As it happens, I had guessed that this Palestinian group project would probably take up around 2 hours of my time this whole month. Thanks to these objectors, it’s now 3 and a half hours as I had to spend time correcting the record.

Rather than blindly and awkwardly entering an arena of which he has little knowledge and even less experience

Once again he shows that he has no intention of pursing a line of argument fit for anyone who considers themselves to be an adult.

Mr Regal and I have never met. He knows virtually nothing about me. He has no idea at all how many times I may or may not have visited the region. He has no idea who I have or have not met who has been involved in the conflict. He has no idea what books I have or haven’t read. He has no idea what I have or have not witnessed.

All he knows is that I have reached a conclusion which is different to his, so he has assumed that the only reason I could possibly disagree with him is because I’m some sort of ignoramus who shoots from the hip without doing any research.

That is the very definition of ignorance.

As for my experience, I am going to outright refuse to enlighten him. I’d prefer to leave him in the dark because it shows how robust his argument is that he has to resort to playing the man not the ball.

Deputy Mézec should be aware that disengagement is not the ultimate way to solve a problem

I have two words to disprove that – South Africa.

The boycott South Africa movement played a huge part in ending Apartheid.

The regime there realised that there was no future for Apartheid so long as it became an excuse for the international community to stop dealing with their country and to cause economic hardship for the white community whose dominance they wanted to preserve.

Boycotts can and do work (and they're a lot less violent than some of the alternatives). I believe that it is the best option for securing peace because all other options have had almost 70 years of failure.

Anyone is entitled to disagree with that. But what Mr Regal has attempted to pass off as an argument against it has fallen short in every conceivable way.


Finally I want to offer any of my objectors a challenge –

The first meeting of the Palestinian Solidarity Association was hijacked by a group of well organised Christian fundamentalists who came to deliberately obstruct us. We were shouted down and some attendees were accused of anti-Semitism. But we have not been set back and we never will be no matter what mob we run into because we have the facts on our side.

Given that they chose to write letters to the JEP for publication to slander myself and spread more misinformation into the public domain without first attempting to contact me and offer a chance of reconciliation in a sensible and constructive way, then let’s have a public debate.

One hour, live on BBC Radio Jersey (I’m sure they’d be happy to facilitate it). Let’s do it, if you think you can handle it.

I know that I am right and I know that I am speaking on behalf of countless Islanders who are fed up of seeing their government strive for their 20 pieces of silver as they act with no regard to the suffering of millions of people around the world.

I have the privilege of working with a group of people whose message is simple – not in our name.

History will judge us and my conscience is crystal clear.

19 comments:

  1. I see Maureen Morgan is having a go at you on Facebook again. She's talking about your job history. I seem to remember her election manifesto didn't give any employment details at all since the 1980s and she got very angry at anyone who asked for any more recent employment history.

    Obviously has something to hide!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, Maureen Morgan is getting well stuck in, a few commenters are saying its a difficult subject for States Members to get involved in but Maureen is after your blood.
    Isn't it time you and her shook hands and made up, even if it means an apology?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good on ya, Sam.

    These topped and tailed propaganda sheets from Tel Aviv need to be countered with rational argument. We get loads of this stuff churned out from the Israeli embassy in Dublin. Some of it is so abusive you wouldn't believe it.

    Your response above puts you on the moral high ground.

    Rath ar an obair (every success in your work).

    Pól Ó Duibhir
    Dublin

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sam one letter tonight is calling you an inciter of racism, so don't you think it's time to drop this pressure group idea?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Maureen is on her hate site calling you antisemitic because you haven't criticised Hamas.

    Aside from the fact that isn't the definition of antisemitism you clearly have criticised Hamas in this blog (which she's posted a million screenshots from)

    Could she be any more of an idiot?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Maureen's entire existence is defined by her hatred and jealousy of Sam. I feel really sorry for her and I think she needs, and should seek, help before it totally consumes her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It already has.
      Jon said on the Group that he didn't want the Group attacking Reform Jersey anymore to which Maureen blew a fuse.

      Delete
  7. Morgan's on a hate crusade against Sam and the blogs for some reason.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Can you tell me some examples of articles in the blog that criticise Hamas/Palestine Anon at 19:44 10th July? I can't find any, but find blogger a fag to get around. Ta

    ReplyDelete
  9. Morgan is living in denial and rapping your blog again.....
    Reckons she doesn't insult anybody. I know, it's difficult to get comprehend.....

    ReplyDelete
  10. To the ignoramus posting anonymous comments who doesn't know the difference between "your" and "you're", if you want any more published, you'll have to write them in your own name.

    If you're so keen to defend two vicious cyber bullies (one of whom with a serious conviction for it) and claim they aren't bullies, you'll have to do it in your own name, because your friends, family and colleagues have a right to know that they associate with someone so stupid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who has a serious conviction for vicious cyber bullying?
      Never knew it was even in law.

      Delete
  11. You have the nerve to call others bullies after what you write on here and the letters you send to the JEP?

    Have a word with yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Can I have the links to the blog articles containing your criticisms of Palestine and Hamas please Sam? I'm concerned you haven't picked up on this.

    You only seem to want to write about this Morgan woman. You obviously are very angry about something she's done, but do you think it is wise to keep attacking her here? It is very undignified and makes you look like misogynist bully. Most of us don't know (and don't want to know) what happened to make you so embittered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I criticise Hamas in this blog post.

      Most said about MM is from anonymous commenters (not posted by me as she stupidly thinks).

      Her Facebook page exists to relentlessly target vulnerable people, be they the mentally ill or victims of abuse. There is nothing misogynist about pointing that out. I'm not embittered, I'm outraged as a good member of society that such bullying goes on.

      Delete
  13. Morgan is attacking you again this afternoon.
    Think she wants your job Sam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also attacking Louise Doublet (sore loser right?) and teachers.

      She's actually attempting to say that teachers don't work hard.

      As if she'd have even the vaguest clue what hard work looks like, given how bare her CV is.

      Delete
    2. PMSL!!!!!!

      Delete
  14. You are obviously scared of what Maureen and others have to say online about your politics to go on like you do.

    ReplyDelete