Day: September 8, 2006

Lavrov: “Provocation”

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is quoted by the IRNA news agency as saying that the information alleging a possible suspension by Russia of the Bushehr reactor project if Iran Tehran expels inspectors from the UN’s atomic energy watchdog is a “provocation”.

Kondopoga and Beyond

As tensions in the Karelian town of Kondopoga continue to rise, RFE/RL’s Victor Yasmann documents more racially charged disturbances in Russia, in which authorities demonstrated “complete ineptness”:

“Vremya novostei” and “Komsomolskaya pravda” on September 5 compiled a list of such cases, all sharing traits of corruption and cover-ups by local officials that helped lead to unrest.

June 2006, Rostov Oblast: Clashes take place between local youths and members of the local Daghestani community in the 30,000-population city of Salsk. The disturbances were attributed to the “redistribution of spheres of interest.” Members of the Daghestani community resorted to using weapons, and one person was killed and eight locals wounded. To quell the violence, the city government calls in a detachment of Interior Ministry riot police, the OMON. Local residents attending a city meeting demand that more be done to punish the perpetrators of the violence and call for the eviction of “every Daghestani from the krai and oblast.” Arrests had been made as of September, but the situation remained tense following the beating of a local official at the hands of a young Daghestani.

June 2006, Irkutsk Oblast: In the village of Targis, local residents clash with Chinese migrant workers. Six people are injured, with police siding with local residents. Seventy-five Chinese workers are subsequently expelled.

May 2006, Chita Oblast: The village of Haragun becomes the scene of anti-Azeri riots in which one is killed, several are injured, and 16 are arrested. Unhappy about the influx of Azerbaijanis, local residents demand at a meeting that they be evicted. Afterward, homes, property, and vehicles are the target of violence and arson.

August 2005, Astrakhan Oblast: A conflict erupts in the village of Yanyki between local Kalmyks and Chechens. More than 400 people take part in the violence, in which one person is killed, several are wounded, and 14 are arrested. During an assembly attended mostly by ethnic Russians, demands are made for the expulsion of “non Slavs.”

Such large-scale violence is occurring with increasing regularity. And there is reason to believe the trend will continue. The unrest in Kondopoga has already had one serious consequence. Russian nationalists throughout the country have been stirred to action, under the banner: “Down with xenocracy — the rule of foreigners.”

U.S.-Russian Military Co-operation in Trouble

There are signs that military co-operation between the United States and Russia – a process that began in the 1990s, and has been hailed as one of the major gains achieved by the assumed ending of the Cold War, is now in trouble. RFE/RL reports that Russia has officially informed the U.S. that the joint military maneuvers known as Torgau, which were scheduled for late September and early October, have been indefinitely postponed, “allegedly due to unresolved legal issues regarding the presence of foreign soldiers on Russian territory.” (Newsline, September 6).

Several Russian commentators have pointed out that the real reason for the postponement is political. In EJ, Alexander Goltz writes (my tr.) that

In actual fact, the Russian-American maneuvers, and even the entire existing system of military co-operation, was not all intended to prepare the armed forces of the two countries for joint operations. However strange it may seem, these maneuvers represented a certain modern form of mutual restraint. With the increased cooling in Russian-American relations, and the growth of anti-Americanism cultivated by Federal television, the Torgau maneuvers were supposed to demonstrate that even if our two countries plan to wage war, they will only do so together, and not against each other. It appears that now the Kremlin does not feel the need for this demonstration.

Antisemitism in Britain

The full text of the British parliamentary all-party commission of inquiry’s report on antisemitism in Britain is available online here.

The report finds that many British citizens who happen to be born Jewish face unacceptable harassment, intimidation and assault. It also concludes the problem of antisemitism is growing worse.

CiF has a post by one of the authors of the report, Denis MacShane. The discussion in the comments that follow the post is evidence of the nature of the problem in contemporary Britain.

Update: Melanie Phillips comments on the report:

Any serious study of today’s antisemitism must ask— although regrettably this report fails to do so — why Israel is singled out for treatment afforded to no other country on earth; why Israel is scapegoated for the crimes of others; why Israel is dwelt upon so obsessively for seeking to defend itself, while countries which deliberately inflict terrible things upon the innocent are scarcely reported; why Israel alone is demonised and delegitimised through systematic lies and libels; why Israel alone is not allowed to defend itself while other in other countries this is taken for granted; why the legitimacy of Israel’s existence alone is called into question while that of artificially created countries like Pakistan are not; why Israel alone is blamed for a refugee problem while everywhere else in the world displaced populations are routinely ignored; why unlike any other country in history Israel alone, as the victim of genocidal warfare of which it was the victor, is expected to defer to its aggressors — which continue to wage war against it — and give them everything they are demanding.

The report does not ask this. It says instead:

We do not believe that the vast majority of discussion surrounding the Israel-Palestinian conflict is inherently antisemitic; rather we are concerned that the currently popular discursive tools need to be deployed with greater responsibility and understanding of the historical resonances that they evoke. A legitimate opinion on the political decisions of the Israeli state may be expressed in an antisemitic manner, even if its author did not intend it to be, if it uses phrases and imagery which tap into antisemitic discourse.

Well no, actually; lies and libels and falsehoods and distortions about Israel are not a ‘legitimate opinion on the political decisions of the Israeli state’. It’s not the manner of expression that is wrong but the expression itself. The imagery is not down to a fit of absent-mindedness about historic resonances. It is used because it perfectly expresses the prejudice in the minds of the writers or speakers.

The Nazis’ infamous excuse was that they were ‘only obeying orders’. Today’s antisemites, it seems, are merely ‘forgetting historical resonances’. In other words, they don’t really know what they are doing, so they can’t be guilty of prejudice. After all, if they’re the ‘anti-racist’ left or the media, they don’t fit the image.

This report has sounded a welcome alarm; but it has put only a timid toe into the sewer.