Israel and Russia: Why such different responses?

by Ray_North on July 30, 2014

Unknown-5Of course, the answer to the question I pose in the headline to this piece is dead straightforward – the Jewish votes in the USA are far more important than Russian votes, in fact there is actually political capital to be made in America for having a pop at the traditional enemy – Russia; whereas any American politician condemning Israel would face political suicide.

I’ve been away for the last week, on holiday with no phone, no computer and no newspapers in a concerted effort to avoid all forms of communication and social media, but, despite this, it was impossible to ignore the ongoing crises in the Ukraine and Gaza.

Both situations are desperately worrying, both demonstrate the clear failure of international politics and the UN and the fact that in Israel and Russia there are in Benjamin Netanyahu and Vlademir Putin two leaders with dangerously massive opinions of themselves.

It is pretty clear that Russia is involved in the separatist movement in the Ukraine – though the bombing of the Malaysian MH17 was probably down to cock-up rather than a desire to blow up passenger airlines. And, yes, it is right that the rest of the world is taking some steps to put pressure on Moscow to intervene in a positive way to bring the civil war to an end, rather than ratchet up the tension because it suits Putin’s desire to recreate the Soviet Union.

But, as yet, Russia has not directly intervened in the Ukraine: Russia has not bombed a school or hospital, Russia is not responsible for the killing Ukrainian children and has not invaded another country.

Israel, on the other hand, is not the subject of anywhere near the same level of international pressure – Netanyahu’s ‘cronies’ have not seen their assets frozen; the G7 are not imposing sanctions on Israeli firms and businesses; John Kerry is not rattling his sabre in the direction of Israel. In fact, Israel have been pretty much being left alone to bomb the Palestinians of Gaza with impunity.

The West and in particular the Americans are quite content to allow Netanyahu to continue with his policy of keeping the Palestinians cowed and desperate, even though this is being done at the expense of innocent Palestinian lives. Ok, Hamas may not be the most attractive neighbours for the state of Israel, but, surely even the most stupid Israeli would find it difficult to understand that this brutal aggression being waged against Gaza is doing more to keep Hamas in power than anything they can do themselves.

I don’t know the answer to the problems in the Middle East any more than Tony Blair, John Kerry or Barack Obama, nor do I know the answer to the strife in the Ukraine, but one thing I do know is that as long as international diplomacy is being determined by the needs of American domestic politics, then the world will continue to be an unstable and dangerous place and it is the innocent who wills suffer.

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#914: 1976, The Modern Lovers, Roadrunner

by George_East on July 27, 2014

Not only is this song, which so inspired the punk movement, long overdue an appearance on Songs To Learn and Sing, but also neatly ties in with marathon runner Steve Way’s deserved Hero of the Week Award.

Its wonderfully simple proto-punk two chord structure and Velvets’ like use of an incessant repetitive rhythm, bizarrely took 4 years from its initial recording in 1972 until it final saw the light of day on the Modern Lovers’ debut eponymous album in 1976.  Jonathan Richman wrote even earlier, in 1970, when he was still a teenager.

It is a fantastic example of a song being too odd and raw to be released when it was recorded, but being so on the zeitgeist when it came out that it became an instant classic.  I remember first seeing it on some best of Old Grey Whistle Test show in the mid-1980s and finding it impossible to get out of my head for months afterwards.

I was out for dinner last night with a friend I’ve not seen for a while (he’s been going through a pretty difficult time over the last 6 months or so) and the subject turned quickly as it always does to music.  I asked what he’d been listening to recently and he mentioned that he’d been digging into Jonathan Richman’s back catalogue.  Coincidentally I recently purchased a re-issue CD of the Modern Lovers’ fabulous debut album.

Once Steve Way’s success was added to the mix, there could only really be one song for my choice today.

‘….with the radio on….’

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Week 30: Hero – Steve Way

July 27, 2014

This Week’s Hero of the Week Award goes to marathon runner Steve Way for showing that there is hope for all of us Today Steve Way came a very creditable 10th in the Commonwealth Games marathon on Glasgow. In doing so in a personal best time of 2hrs 15mins and 16 seconds.   Not bad at [...]

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Week 30: Prat – Mazher Mahmood

July 27, 2014

This week Mazher Mahmood, “the Fake Sheikh” wins our award for being the biggest prat of the last seven days. The last two decades have seen revelation after revelation of celebrity human frailty and venality at the hands of the Fake Sheikh, the Brummie king of the undercover sting, Mazher Mahmood. This week, it was [...]

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Week 30: Villain – David Ruffley MP

July 27, 2014

This week, we are bestowing our award for the greatest villain of the week on the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds, David Ruffley This week, it was revealed that David Ruffley MP had been cautioned by the police for assaulting his partner back in March. The dean of the local cathedral met [...]

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#913: 1969, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Christine’s Tune

July 26, 2014

We first featured Gram Parsons all the way back at song #30, but it has taken another three and a half years for us to notch up something by The Flying Burrito Brothers, the band Parsons was in between leaving The Byrds and going solo. Borrowing a line from Elvis’ (You’re the) Devil in Disguise as [...]

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Labour Gives Up

July 24, 2014

It didn’t get that much publicity but last weekend saw the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum agree the party’s basic policy positions for the next election.  Yes there is the conference to come in the Autumn but it has been a good long while since it mattered a jot.   What came out of that Policy [...]

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Will the next Parliament be the most intellectually lightweight ever?

July 22, 2014

Say what you like about William Hague (and I could say plenty), to quote the great Ian Dury, ‘he ain’t half a clever bastard’. His brain will be missed in Parliament even if what he stands for will not, well, not by me anyway. And, he’s not the only one, it appears that at the [...]

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Cine-East Film Club Presents #47: 1993, Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis)

July 21, 2014

Phil Connors: ‘What if there is no tomorrow, there wasn’t one today’. The Cine-East Film Club is back after a couple of months off caused by work, more work, a young baby and World Cup related distractions.    Regular readers of the Cine-East Film Club’s presentations will recall that the Club was, before the interlude, alternating [...]

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#912: 1988, Salt-N-Pepa, Push It

July 21, 2014

I’m off on my summer hols this Wednesday, and it can’t come soon enough. I’m jaded, faded, pissed off, knackered and utterly devoid of my mojo. One week in the sun should help. I’m not sure why I’ve picked this song – it reminds me of a time just before University when I was employed [...]

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Week 29: Prat – Nick Clegg

July 20, 2014

This Week’s Prat of the Week Award goes to Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg for his party’s laughable u-turn on the bedroom tax Last week the Lib Dems announced that the supported the repeal of the vindictive and cruel bedroom tax.   This loathsome policy, that seeks to force the poorest out [...]

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Week 29: Hero – The General Synod of the Church of England

July 20, 2014

This week’s heroes are the Bishops, Clergy and Laity of the General Synod of the Church of England We’re not really Church goers on this site – we’d be lying if we said that there was a great deal of faith or belief amongst us – but credit where credit is due, the General Synod [...]

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Week 29: Villain – Benjamin Netanyahu

July 20, 2014

Our panel has bestowed our Villain of the Week award to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu This is the fourth time that Prime Minister Netanyahu has picked up our weekly award for being the greatest villain of the last seven days. Each time, it has either been for intransigence against the peace process with the Palestinians [...]

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#911: 1978, Dr Alimantado, Best Dressed Chicken In Town

July 15, 2014

Christ it’s been hot over the last few days.  Humid and when we have been lucky sunny too.   No weather for work and certainly no weather for suited and booted work.   It has though been weather for the classic reggae.  The perfect music for stiflingly hot evenings – turning the sweaty into the sultry.  Bringing [...]

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Week 28: Prat – The Brazil Defence

July 15, 2014

Our belated Prat of the Week Award for last week goes to the back 4 of the host nation in the World Cup, Brazil This is a little late to be posted for which I apologies.  Work is nuts.  Our Awards ceremonies must however go on.   As Ray North noted the greatest World Cup since [...]

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Reshuffle Kerfuffle

July 15, 2014

Well, I have to say there have been some interesting and some unexpected comings and goings at Downing Street in the last couple of days. This is Davey Cam’s biggest re-shuffle by far – so what does it say? Well, to me it says three things – first, that the Tories are really scared of [...]

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Week 28: Hero – George Clooney

July 14, 2014

This week’s Hero of the Week is the Holywood Actor George Clooney We hate the Daily Mail here – bunch of bigoted bastards, and so, when Clooney took them on and showed them up for what they are, we took off our collective hats and doffed them in his direction. For those of you not [...]

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Ray North’s World Cup Hangover

July 14, 2014

There’s people on the blog – they think it’s all over….. Yep, after a month of wonderful football, crushing disappointment, thrills, spills and colour, the World Cup is over and German have been crowned kings of the world. This World Cup has been amazing and, mostly, for all the right reasons – ok, there’s been [...]

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Week 28: Villain – Arctic Monkeys

July 13, 2014

Our regular panel has decided to award the Arctic Monkeys our Villain of the Week trophy for tax dodging It is with some considerable sadness that we are bestowing our Villain of the Week award on the Arctic Monkeys.  Both Ray and I have posted songs from them in the past in our Songs To [...]

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#910: 1977, Ramones, Sheena Is a Punk Rocker

July 12, 2014

Tommy Ramone, drummer with the Ramones, died yesterday. The last of the original line-up to die, he was the only one to get into his sixties. He might not have been in the band at all: he was originally the band’s manager until original drummer Joey passed on the sticks because he couldn’t keep up [...]

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London’s New Political Landscape

July 9, 2014

Last Thursday’s council by-election in Tower Hamlets’ Blackwall and Cubitt Town ward brought to an end this year’s local elections in London (both this election and the previous week’s in Barnet’s Colindale ward were held back from the main 22 May elections due to the death of a candidate). The London Local Elections Unlike much [...]

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What should the left really want from the Westminster Pedophile Enquiries?

July 9, 2014

Right, come on, let’s face it, when those of us on the left hear about stories of pedophile rings at the heart of the establishment at the time of the Thatcher government, our instinct is to hope that this will lead to a story of such monumental awfulness that it will see the Tory party [...]

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#909: 1986, Half Man Half Biscuit, Dickie Davies Eyes

July 8, 2014

I’ve lost my mojo. There I’ve said it. I was in Liverpool Crown Court the other morning and the judges bollocking was just washing over me – ‘are you listening Mr North,’ he asked, ‘Yes, Your Honour,’ I replied, ‘what did I say then?’ ‘You said, are you listening Mr North, Your Honour.’ I need [...]

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Week 27: Hero – (The late) Geoffrey Dickens

July 6, 2014

This week’s hero of the week award, goes to the late MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, Geoffrey Dickens I have to say that in a list of likely candidates for hero of the week, the roly-poly former Tory MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, Geoffrey Dickens would not have featured in any way shape or form. [...]

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Week 27: Villain – Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi

July 6, 2014

This Week’s Villain of the Week is the self-proclaimed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Now the ISIS would probably not even have existed if it hadn’t been for the reckless Middle Eastern adventurism of Messrs Bush and Blair a decade ago. And if the ISIS hadn’t existed, the chances are we would not have heard of [...]

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Week 27: Prat – Ed Miliband

July 6, 2014

This week, the Labour leader picks up our award for being the biggest prat of the last seven days Ed Miliband has been a little lucky to avoid this award for the last ten months: there have been several occasions when his name came up for consideration by our panel. In truth, as the token [...]

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Are any of our political parties fit for purpose?

July 3, 2014

We’ve been a bit quiet over the last few weeks on these pages – this has been due to a number of factors including work, the World Cup and my own personal quest to become an international bestselling author. But, as the World Cup continues to entertain and inspire – domestic politics continues to depress [...]

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#908: 1971, Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors

June 30, 2014

So Glastonbury is over.   It’s not really my bag, though I don’t have same level of animus for it that Charlie East-West has.   My only regret about not being there was not being able to see Dolly Parton in what, from the critics’ reports, seems to have been a festival stealing performance (not that it [...]

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Week 26: Hero – World Cup 2014 (well at least the players, the teams, the fans and the matches…)

June 30, 2014

This Week’s Hero of the Week Award goes to all those participating in the current World Cup in Brazil This is not an Award for Sepp Blatter or the bunch of corrupt cronies who run FIFA.  The international body that runs the beautiful game is a total disgrace and it is heartening that everytime that [...]

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Week 26: Prat – Luis Suarez

June 30, 2014

Oh dear, this week’s Prat is the Uruguay and Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. What was he thinking? Ok, Chielini’s play-acting, tripping and cheating as he tried to propel Italy to a rather toothless victory was annoying – but, sigh, what was he thinking. Because, whatever it was that made [...]

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