In the week before the July 22nd STWC rally (as profiled by Gene below), regular HP commentator “publicansdecoy” [PD] wrote to the email address listed on the STWC site and explained why he wouldn’t be attending:
I am appalled by the situation currently occurring in the Middle East. Innocent people are getting killed and injured and caught up in a battle they want no part with. I demonstrated against the Iraq war in 2003 because I did not want to see this happen, although it did. I had intended to come along on Saturday as well, but I have reconsidered my decision after reading your website. You make numerous references to the suffering of the Lebanese in the face of unjustified actions from the IDF, yet you offer no condemnation whatsoever of attacks from the other side. Indeed, you seem to positively celebrate what the other side has done. I noticed your spokesman, Mr Galloway writing for the Guardian that “Resistance is growing across the Middle East. It is our responsibility to make a breakthrough here in the fight against imperialist subjugation.” How on earth can you lay claim to the name STOP The War Coalition, when you are supporting one side’s fight?
This email is more than relevant to the discussion ongoing in the comments box under Gene’s post. PD is living proof of what we already know – that honourable opposition to Israel’s actions in Lebanon is entirely possible. But this post is about something different.
On Thursday 22nd, PD received a reply from one Robin Beste, listed on the STWC site as a ‘National Member’. The missive included the usual apologetics, misrepresentation of both the Hezbollah-Israel conflict specifically and the ongoing Middle East troubles generally. But this post is not about that either. Here’s what Robin Beste had to say in answer to PD’s charge that the STWC was, in effect, taking sides:
Where do we “celebrate” Hizbollah? We are most certainly a Stop the War Coalition and as such we have to be quite clear about where culpability lies. It is Israel which…….
You can imagine the rest. Then:
To say that the Israelis who have died, such as the two children killed yesterday, are the victims of Israel’s policies over decades towards Arabs, is not in any way to imply support for organisations like Hizbollah or Hamas, and we have never hesitated to condemn terrorist actions against civilians, whoever commits them, which are in our view always unjustified. But there is a difference between excusing suicide bombers, which we never do, and trying to explain the depths of desperation which drives anyone to commit such atrocities.
I could contrast this mbunderstanding of suicide-murder with Robin Beste’s obvious lack of preparedness to mbunderstand Israel “committing war-crimes on a monumental scale”, as he says elsewhere in the email. But – you guessed it – this post is not about that.
To give you a clue what it is about, here is George Galloway, a Vice-President of the STWC, de facto leader of the anti-war movement in the UK and keynote speaker at Saturday’s rally:
So what doe we have:
Robin Beste: Where do we “celebrate” Hizbollah?…. not in any way to imply support for organisations like Hizbollah or Hamas…. we have never hesitated to condemn terrorist actions against civilians, whoever commits them…”
George Galloway: “I am here to glorify the resistance, Hezbollah. I am here to glorify the leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.”
Tonight I wrote to Robin Beste at STWC outlining all of the above and asked 5 simple questions:
1 – Is it now official STWC policy to support Hezbollah?
2 – If not, does the STWC disassociate itself from GeorgeGalloway’s remarks, which are an explicit statement of solidarity with Hezbollah?
3 – If so, when did it become official policy to support Hezbollah, as such a policy is clearly at variance with your email to PD two days before the rally, where you made it clear that the STWC was not a supporter of that movement?
4 – Does the STWC agree that the firing of over 1,000 Katyusha rockets at Israeli towns and cities in the last 2 weeks meets the standard of “terrorist action against civilians”?
5 – Assuming you agree this is “terrorist action against civilians”, will you take this opportunity – or any other? – to condemn these acts, something you say in your email to PD that the STWC “never hesitates” to do?
I’ll report back when Robin responds. If he responds.
[Big up to publicansdecoy]