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critical, progressive ideas from pondering jews

Protected: Neo-Nazis at Reclaim Australia (some new photos)

by roadsideservice

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Jews and Reclaim Australia

by roadsideservice

There is something rather perfect about humiliating fascists on pesach.

‘Reclaim Australia’ is the name of  a string of rallies held on the 4th of April around Australia, organised against Islam. Their organisers included fascists and people with fascist tendencies, whilst the bulk of attendees were run-of-the-mill islamaphobes/nationalists. Neo-Nazis hung around the edges, attempted to find recruits, and looked for fights. The Reclaim Australia people appeared to be a genuinely shocked that anyone could possibly think they were racist.

The Melbourne counter rally successfully disrupted the whole thing.

Neo-Nazis on Melbourne streets are a pretty rare sight. It was a bit of a shock, and there is a lot to take in. I’m not really sure of specific numbers, but there must have been at least 25-30 boneheads mingled in the crowd of onlookers. At any one time there were groups of upwards of five or so attempting to break through the picketline, and generally getting into some pushin and shovin (this was when the ones who did not have obvious nazi tats/shirts were most identifiable). There are plenty of photos around of these clashes, or you can look up the videos they filmed.

Check out this guy, telling Nazis where to go. Nazis, as this guy realises, were not hard to find. This seems to be something many people commenting seem to find difficult to believe.

Here were some suggestions on the ‘white nationalist’ Stormfront forum. It is suggested they go “undercover”, a suggestion which clearly went unheeded:


Then there’s this:


And then, there was this, just in this evening:

The announcement of new rallies comes after a high-profile Sydney criminal lawyer promised to defend anyone from the Reclaim rally who was charged by police.

Australian Jewish Communal Lobby spokesman Daniel Hakim posted on the lobby’s Facebook page on Sunday an offer for free legal service.

Mr Hakim told the Herald Sun he did not believe claims that organisers or attendees at the rallies were neo-Nazis after photos emerged of protesters with tattoos believed to relate to Nazism.

“Reclaim is not run by, funded by, organised by and directed by neo-Nazis.”

When asked about the Jewish Communal Lobby Mr Hakim said it had more than 2000 members and a seven-person board but would not discuss any more details.

Hakim, any day now, is going to get a bit of a rude shock. Talk about blinkers. Seems like the AJCL is probably just one lawyer with a laptop (Hakim claims otherwise in above article). The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), in condemning Reclaim Australia, have noted that “the Facebook page known as the ‘Australian Jewish Communal Lobby’ is not affiliated with JCCV or any Jewish communal organisation, and does not represent the views of the Jewish community.”

Here the neo-nazis are discussing the days events themselves (including discussing all the different fascist/nazi groups that were present).

This article, from nazi website Daily Stormer, went down a treat with locals on Stormfront:

Remember: to beat the Jews, you must out-Jew the Jews.  Spread that Facebook screenshot [of the Australian Jewish Communal Lobby] to as many Australian SJWs [Social Justice Warriors] as you possibly can.  The more the SJWs start to hate Jews, the closer we are to removing the filthy Jewish vermin from our societies once and for all.

Moslems and SJWs are both feral subhuman swine, but they can both be very useful weapons in taking down the ultimate parasite: the Jew.  Without the Jewish parasite, the SJW movement would not exist and there would be no Moslems in White nations like Australia.  It’s time for us to use the Jewish parasite’s pets (Moslems, SJWs, negroes, etc.) against the Jews.  It’s time for us to Jew the Jews.



Meanwhile, the false equivocation of fascists and anti-fascists in various media is pretty disturbing, not the least because it seems to be coming loudest from purported allies such as Brad Chilcott, Director of ‘Welcome to Australia’. If I were to make more serious ideological equation, we could talk about ideology: Welcome isn’t into Reclaim, but they share a a national possessiveness. ‘Reclaim’ thinks they’ve lost the very thing that ‘Welcome’ feels they hold: the gates to Australia. Each see themselves as the gatekeepers/managers of Australia, welcoming or not welcoming, depending on how the wind blows. Chilcott  insisted upon moral pontification about tactics, demeaning those Aboriginal women who burnt the flag, not actually providing advice on what to do except telling us not to be ‘hateful’, not actually participating in any sort of movement,  or otherwise offering any form of serious alternative other than to wag his finger at us.

The counter demo achieved its aim: to disrupt and end a racist rally. It never intended to have a heart to heart with fascists.


Also, Melbs, this really does get a bit awks (by Sam Wallman, who is always great):


Follow @ndy/slackbastard here and here and here for reliable and ongoing updates on far right and neo-fascist activity, with a focus on Australia. Andy has pretty solid research on the key figures within these movements, including names, faces, and gang allegiances/ideological orientations of these gangs (and its where I’ve gone for a few chunks herein).

It is always worth reading Ghassan Hage’s White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society, and particularly worth visiting the chapter on ‘good white nationalists’, for those ‘anti-racists’.


Below are the two boneheads everyone is talking about. However it is absolutely false to say that they were the only ones there. Watch a video. Where ever there were scuffles, that was the neo-nazis (the run of the mill fascists/racists/nationalists/islamophobes were pretty tame, if grumpy).

  9-2707471-fra060315rally3_t620 10915201_808501285854308_6607260642317469059_n

NAA: Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism

by roadsideservice

The National Archives of Australia have published (and have for some time) files on the Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism. The folder is marked ‘Secret’, the ‘Department of Immigration’ and ‘To be passed on by hand’ which (obviously) is pretty tantalizing. This is an important part of Australian left wing diaspora history.

From the files I have looked at it looks like the Council was interested in speaking to Immigration about their concerns for former Nazis, war criminals, and other assorted fascists entering the country and already living in the community. Time and again they bring up examples of fascists and other involved in violence entering the country, and time and again Immigration brushes  off the concerns. At the same time the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and others were keen on ensuring that everyone knew (believed) that the JCCFAS were a communist front that wasn’t really interested in antisemitism.

The Secretary Ernest Platz – reffo, journo, commo – is a central figure in these communications.

The files include claims that the JCCFAS were supportive of the Soviets persecution of Jews (with my superficial understanding this seems ridiculous given the context of the rest of the files, but it might need further scrutiny given the blind eye segments of the left turned to Stalinism).

Click here to access the files (then click ‘view digital copy’). The Normal Rothfield Papers, held by the University of Melbourne, may also be of some interest to those interested in this history.


Young, Jewish, Left at Limmud Oz

by roadsideservice

Limmud Oz presentation ‘Young, Jewish, Left’ from members of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society.

Some wonderful reflections from Jem Light (Exec member) discussing the questions of Hilel; Max Kaiser (community organiser) the unofficial slogan of AJDS “a progressive voice amongst Jews, and a Jewish voice amongst progressives” and multiculturalism; and Jordy Silverstein (exec member) on the politicisation of Tikkun Olam and assimilation, internalised anti-semitism, and ashkenazi-centrism.

Judith Butler on Walter Benjamin’s ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’

by roadsideservice

Angelus Novus, described by Benjamin in his ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’. Butler: “It’s kind of a freak of an angel. Oh Well”.

Here is Judith Butler speaking on Walter Benjamin’s ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’.

Click here for Benjamin’s paper

I converted the youtube video into an mp3 so I can listen to it and have uploaded it here. Wait. No. WordPress wont let me do that, but if this is something that interests you, you can go here, drop the youtube link in, and it will do it super quickly.

There is a really sweet spot around the 24 minute mark where the class shifts tone and Butler speaks of the day to day considerations of running a class room, and the kinds of containment that feels so familiar as someone who has worked in university classrooms. Brief and probably insignificant, but nice nonetheless.

Related beautiful essay:

Taussig, M, (200) ‘Walter Benjamin’s Grave: a profane illumination’

WH Auden, ‘Refugee Blues’, late 1930s

by roadsideservice

Refugee Blues

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

The consul banged the table and said,
“If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”:
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
“If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread”:
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying, “They must die”:
O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

WH Auden

World War Z & Unified Palestine

by roadsideservice



Firstly: the flick is not a work that is based, in any real or meaningful sense on Max Brooks’ work World War Z: An oral history of the zombie war (2006). It has the title (well, partly), but this is about it. One of the few things they took from the novel was a plot line that teetered on the edge of Brooks’ narrative on Israel/Palestine and stretched it through a large chunk of the film.

Brad Pitt’s character Gerry arrives in Jerusalem to complete a mission given to a virologist (KIA) to find patient zero in what seems like hours of the undead outbreak. It doesn’t really make sense, but there you go.

In Jerusalem, in the radical othering, zombies seamlessly replaced Palestinians as the threat par excellence. This transition is entirely unremarkable. Behind the Wall – now used to protect from the swarm of undead – is a fantasy of human purity, protected, safe, and a sanctuary from a world whose intent is to wipe the inhabitants from the face of the earth. The desert is in bloom and life needs protection. Beyond the borders, beyond civilization, are uncontrollable hordes, baying for blood. They are mindless. They hate life. Israel has a right to protect their borders, after all.

In both narratives Israel has managed to implement procedures early to stem the threat of the “African Rabies” (was this in the film? warning: it is in the book). In the novel, describing a situation where Israel had been driven out of the occupied Palestinian territories by the resistance and thus wielding considerably less power, the Israeli ambassador announced to the UN General Assembly that they were enacting a policy of “voluntary quarantine”. The Palestinian interviewee Saladin Kader tells the (unnamed) narrator twelve years after the outbreak:

I didn’t even hear the second part of the fat bastard’s speech, the part about offering asylum, no questions asked, to any foreign-born Jew, an foreigner of Israeli-born parents, any Palestinian living in the formerly occupied territories, and any Palestinian whose family had once lived within the borders of Israel. The last part applied to my family, refugees from the ’67 War of Zionist aggression…I had never been to Israel, or what was about to be absorbed into the new state of Unified Palestine…(2010, 39)

The film entirely skirts these narratives of the novel. Instead, Israel-proper is innovative, benign and site of salvation for the world’s refugees. Within the scenes of a benevolent, peaceful, harmonious Israel, power has not shifted, and Palestinians – we assume from the racialised discourses – are just happy to have their lives saved in a world gone to shit.

Given this is meant to be an adaptation, the filmmakers are directly antagonistic to this post-apocalypse speculation. The novel goes to Tel Aviv and Bethlehem, but not to Jerusalem – in fact in the novel Unified Palestine had withdrawn altogether from Jerusalem because it did not make sense strategically in the planned defense from zombie attack.

It does, however, (and I speculate) make strategic sense for Israel that an international film to be set in a contested space such as Jerusalem with benign nationalists at the helm. Herein the Israeli state and nationalism is not problematized in the way the book suggested were possible in a situation of extreme emergency. It would be interesting to know what incentives  the filmmakers were given to depart so significantly from this narrative.

What made Brooks’ work so distinct was a number of factors: it was speculative fiction; it was set 12 years after the Zombie War; it was a reflection on experience, rather than action-thriller. I suspect what would have worked well as a format for this story (perhaps ironically) is the Israeli film Waltz With Bashir, albeit without what Ghassan Hage calls the “postexterminatory existentially anxious warrior”. Set 25 years after the “Lebanon War”, it flits around in time and space, has a central character that is collecting stories, and does not require action scenes to propel it forward.

The filmmakers had a chance to be innovative with a radically new zombie apocalypse film format and story telling style, but instead made clichés collected from every zombie apocalypse flick since Night of the Living Dead, without the fun of Shaun of the Dead.


(But also:

I was really disappointed by World War Z. Many reviewers have cited (lazily) Romero’s work, but I think where this departs from Romero so spectacularly to the endless miraculous escapes by our protagonist Gerry. Zombie films need to suspend your disbelief and as someone who is pretty into the genre, it really doesn’t require much to get me there. We never, for instance, get any sense why Gerry is so important. Or why the mission is on is so urgent, why he was chosen, or why he is so materially supported in doing this is not entirely clearOr why, after the immediate outbreak a massive fuck off plane can be afforded so a virologist can go and find patient zero (or why this would be a pressing issue). Or why Gerry continued the work of the virologist (who thankfully toppled himself)– what the fuck does Gerry know? Come to that, what does he know that he is considered so important by the UN that he is shunted around the world? Or why is it that Gerry’s plane was allowed to land?  Or why he could move around with little more than a limp after being impaled after a plane crash (I wont go into that).

Also: Do not watch it in 3D, whatever you do.)

Aamer Rahman: The Truth Hurts

by roadsideservice


Aarmer Rahman’s show is profoundly moving – his performance is erudite (as usual), and his punch lines diligent in their construction and delivery. You can see in this show – in its lengths and breadth – the manner in which Rahman has become a student of comedy. The ways in which his craft has taken place around different kinds of comedic forms and that his craft has taken form around serious considerations around constructing his comedy. Rahman doesn’t preach to the converted, but is comedian for the left. It is a humour for decolonisation, and a narrative of solidarity and pride. But, what I felt leaving Aamer’s show was this greater sense of being moved in the sense of being thrown off centre.

There is the deepest of tragedies underpinning Aamer’s show – in speaking back to the terror of white colonial society. As someone who has been privileged so much by the relationships of this society, I kept coming back to James Baldwin’s words at Oxford University in 1965. Baldwin, discussing police violence against civil rights demonstrations in Selma Alabama, Baldwin said “What happens to the man who does it is in some ways much, much worse. Their moral lives have been destroyed by the plague called color” (1965). Aamer’s work is such an indictment of colonial society and the infinite ways it manifests and reinvents itself.

At times I felt like the show needed a helmsmen to guide the audience through the murky waters of punchlines in uneasy seas. Aamer’s work hinges on the need to laugh at the oppressor, but I felt like a gentle hand was needed to guide people through the tricky times when it is impossible to laugh. I don’t think this is the same as apologising for content, or turning the volume down on anger, or ensuring the privileged feel comfortable. I went to another show whose major theme was racism and much of the humour fell flat in its lack of confidence.

What I think I am referring to is the feeling of awkwardness during the show when I realised I was continuing to smile and laugh when the narrative had moved on – where dark humour had shifted to tragedy. I wondered if whether Aamer could have guided the audience a bit more in mediating this.

But this too is a part of the routine, a challenge in an already boundary pushing performance.

He deals with issues of colonialism, Israel/Palestine, nationalism, cultural appropriation, hip-hop, refugees, protest, the police and history and much more.

I went to uni with Aamer. I am always a little bit excited to tell people this: those of us who studied and grew politically alongside of him are not shy of, well, dropping his name here and there. For myself, this is out of a genuine pride in being associated with such an amazing talent. Make sure you see this show.

 Aamer Rahman’s The Truth Hurts is on at the Melbourne Town Hall as part of the  Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 27 to April 21 at the Melbourne Town Hall. There might be an extra show happening. Or something. Try calling at 7:30 if the show has sold out. For more information click here. For Aamer’s facebook page click here.

Suheir Hammad, 2009

by roadsideservice

1. Gaza

2. Rafah

3. Tel al-Hawa

4. Jabalya

5. Zaytoun

Emil L. Fackenheim

by roadsideservice

“…trauma paralysed Jewish theology for decades. In fairness, it must be recognised that a trauma paralysed Christian theology as well. But what trauma? Perhaps the following: the Nuremberg Laws robbed Jews of choice. To “Aryans,” in contrast, they gave a choice, one of the like of which had never existed before: they could accept the “Aryan” designation or reject it. Had the churches of Germany – even of the world – greeted the Nuremberg Laws with the “Onward, Christian Soldiers” battle cry “Now we are Jews!” – that is, with the most radical possible rejection – the Third Reich would have collapsed, and the Christian faith would now be more firm, more respected, more universal than ever before. But the Christian churches did not recognize the time of their visitation, a unique kairos in their history. And in accepting, even silently tolerating, their own designation as “Aryans,” Christians, even if meaning no such thing, abandoned the “non-Aryans” to their fate. One is appalled by the insidiousness of this Nazi attack on Christianity, perhaps the deepest of the many and saddened by the akiros that was missed. How can post-Holocaust Christians relate to this trauma?” (1994, Xliv)

Fackenheim, E (1994) To mend the world : foundations of post-Holocaust Jewish thought, Bloomington, Indiana Univ. Press