Today marks 100 years since Britain joined World War One, with ceremonies commemorating Tuesday August 4 1914 taking place across the UK. You will be hard pressed, however, to find any reportage today critically reflecting on Britain’s entry into the war, with sanctimonious and sometimes jingoistic statements made about the necessity of joining. Many recently published histories of Britain's Great War embrace the conflict as a good war—irresistible, righteous—and popular. It has become almost heretical to offer criticism of Britain's intervention. Douglas Newton’s The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain's Rush to War, 1914 presents a new critical examination of the government's choice for war, and weaves into the story an account of those "radicals" and other activists who urged neutral diplomacy in 1914 (such as Keith Hardie’s Sunday 2 August address to the ‘War Against War’ rally for neutrality and peace at Trafalgar Square, documented in the above photograph). It is in this respect that Newton’s book, as he himself puts it in the introduction, ‘is meant to unsettle’. Read an extract from The Darkest Days introduction below.
The renowned historian Shlomo Sand - author of The Invention of the Jewish Peopleand The Invention of the Land of Israel - was interviewed by the French magazine Télérama in 2009. The recent re-publication of this French interview still contains powerful responses to the violence that we see in Gaza today. How can we still be asking the same questions 5 years on? Both then and now, Sand continues to be one of the few Israeli intellectuals – even on the Left – who has continued to condemn the bombardment of Gaza.
Israeli public opinion supports the (2008-2009) Gaza War. You are a dissonant voice...
I have reached the peak of my academic career, I have nothing to lose and I am not afraid. Of course, yes, I do feel very alone. But do not forget that almost ten thousand young people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on 3 January. Even in 2006, at the beginning of the war against Hezbollah, there was no mobilisation of such an extent. It was a very politicised demonstration, with the far Left as well as the Israeli Arabs who live in Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
Yesterday Detroit's emergency manager returned control of the municipal water department to elected city officials, signalling a victory for activists and a hopeful sign that the city will end its aggressive program of water shutoffs. Marina Sitrin, co-author of They Can't Represent Us! Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy recently spoke out against the Detroit water crisis in an Truthout op-ed, drawing parallels between the Detroit government's creation of a water crisis and the Israeli government's decision to cut off water to Gaza.
As the Palestinian death toll topped 1,000 this week, Israeli historian - and author of The Idea of Israel - Ilan Pappé talked with Democracy Now! about the current attacks in Gaza.
"I think Israel in 2014 made a decision that it prefers to be a racist apartheid state and not a democracy," Pappé says. "It still hopes that the United States will license this decision and provide it with the immunity to continue, with the necessary implication of such a policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians wherever they are."
See below for a full transcription of the interview.
Xenophobia Blog Series. This is the third instalment of a series of pieces published on our blog by leading voices on the current and alarming force of Xenophobia - the fear of "strange and foreign" identities.
The forms anti-Semitism takes today in France are very varied, and often have little or nothing in common. Since the Second World War, anti-Semitism has no longer been supported in France by a certain abject consensus (which in the 1930s was even shared by many celebrated writers, such as Céline). It persists in the form of disparate minorities, some publicly active, others concealed.