by Martin Odoni

FOREWORD: The following is an opening excerpt from an article I have written for The Prole Star.

Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist from Saudi Arabia who, in recent years has been resident in the United States of America, has been missing since the 2nd of October. Khashoggi was visiting the Saudi Consulate in Turkey to obtain some personal documents. CCTV images very clearly show him entering the Consulate, but there are no images of him leaving afterwards.

Khashoggi enters the Saudi Consulate, Istanbul c/o AFP PHOTO / DHA

CCTV image of Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi Consulate, Istanbul, on 2nd October 2018. There is no apparent footage of him ever leaving it subsequently. Photo c/o AFP PHOTO / DHA

Khashoggi is almost certainly dead, and if he is, it is certain that the Saudis murdered him. Were he alive and held at the Consulate, it would have been very easy for the Saudis to have paraded him on television at any stage, and so cool the growing controversy. Moreover, Khashoggi has been highly critical of the House of al-Saud over the last few years, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman clearly sees him as a ‘traitor’. According to some reports, Khashoggi had publicly claimed in August that the Saudi regime wanted him dead.

This chapter demonstrates that anyone who thinks the positive-but-shallow gesture of allowing women to drive marks the end of Saudi Arabia’s gruesome history of repression is naive in the extreme.



by Martin Odoni

What a gift yesterday’s summit in Singapore was to the dictator of North Korea.

Listening to Donald Trump sympathisers worldwide, as they pile in to radio phone-ins to brown their noses in tribute to him, you would think he had personally arranged the Second Coming. The truth is, Trump did not achieve anything, while Kim Jong-Un got what he most desired, in exchange for doing nothing, and is thus laughing like crazy at his rival.

Strangely, Trump’s supporters seem to think he ‘got North Korea to the negotiating table’, and that that was an achievement in itself. In fact, it is quite the other way around. North Korean leaders have been asking for summits with US Presidents for decades, and previous US Presidents all refused such meetings without North Korea making concessions up front.

Occupy Democrats on Trump and his summit

Occupy Democrats are sharing this meme on social media, summing up what a loss the US summit with North Korea will ultimately prove.

Trump idiotically just agreed to this summit off the top of his head without imposing any conditions. The upshot of that is that Kim is now able to claim – without even having to lie – that he is the President who got the USA to the negotiating table. That diplomatic boon was a gift to Kim in itself.

But worse, what came out of the summit is a total victory for Kim – the metaphorical gift that has kept on giving – and a propaganda coup that has probably secured his position as absolute ruler of North Korea for another twenty years. He got everything, and gave up nothing.

Despite Trump’s characteristic boasting, the summit accomplished nothing for the USA. Trump extracted only vague, very familiar promises from Kim about ‘moving towards de-nuclearisation’. We have heard this from Pyongyang at least a dozen times before, just since the mid-1980s.

NK denuclearisation promises

There really is no good reason for the clamour of admiration for Donald Trump’s ‘diplomatic achievement’. He has gained nothing by it.

The reality is that, given the nature of the regime in Pyongyang, no ruler there will ever willingly give up his atomic weapons. Whoever the dictator is, he will know that if he surrenders nuclear arms, he will be dead within months. The regime there is one of the most brutal and repressive on Earth, and it rules, not through its power, but through fear of its power. No matter how much political power the dictator wields, he is still just a man, and can be assassinated as totally as any man-in-the-street. It is the threat, not of the man, but of the power he wields, that keeps him in place. So if he were to show that he is willing to give up nuclear weapons, his most powerful military resource, that would be a sign of weakness, while also potentially weakening the regime itself. He would have less power for those he rules to fear. So prominent figures near the top of his Government would probably respond by overthrowing him, before killing him – probably in a very bloodcurdling manner – to make sure he poses no threat to his successor.

In short, Kim Jong-Un cannot decommission his nuclear weapons; his own life depends on keeping them.

Meanwhile, Kim has extracted a promise from Trump to stop US military exercises off the coastline of the Korean peninsular. An end to that threatening practice is what the Pyongyang Government has been desperately seeking since Lyndon Johnson was American President. Now sure, there is nothing to guarantee that the USA will keep its side of the bargain either, but that is at least a firmly-defined promise, and it can be fairly measured whether the USA delivers on it. The Korean promise to ‘work together to move towards de-nuclearisation’ could mean anything upwards of “We’ll draw up a hypothetical plan for decommissioning that is obviously unworkable, and send it to you, and then when you reject it, we can say, ‘Well, at least we tried’.” That hollow, empty gesture would still count as fulfilling their side of the bargain, and would, absurdly, give North Korea the official moral high ground if the USA continues military manoeuvres off the Korean coast.

The South Korean Government in Seoul must be on the brink of a collective cardiac arrest, as they watch their most important backer giving their bitterest rival everything-for-nothing!

Worse, what does all of this say to Iran? The regime in Tehran followed the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with the USA and its allies pretty much to the letter. But Trump simply cancelled the deal arbitrarily a month ago, for no apparent reason beyond wanting just to be different from his predecessor, Barack Obama. Now, the Iranians have sat, open-mouthed, as North Korea has received a major military concession in apparent exchange for shallow flattery of a narcissistic buffoon. The lesson the Iranians will doubtless take is that if they start saying nice things about Trump all the time, he will start giving them anything they want.

So Trump is cozying up to anti-democratic rulers like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un, and repeatedly giving them something-for-nothing, while imposing trading tariffs on his country’s democratic allies.

This is not an era of triumph for Western diplomacy, it is an era of easy triumph for authoritarianism, and of alienation for democratic nations.

by Martin Odoni

One of the most irritating refrains from the anti-immigrant/anti-Islam crowd over the last few years has been the attempt to justify hostility to Muslims by insisting it cannot be racism. The grounds for this claim is that “Islam is not a race”. Even the likes of Richard Dawkins was tweeting it a few years ago.

The sentence is technically true, but if you think about it, the distinction it draws is entirely a quibble. The hostility towards Muslims is still a form of ‘othering’ of a foreign culture. Furthermore, on hearing the word Muslim, the average white Anglo-Saxon Briton will picture something roughly along the lines of this; –


The image is offensive, as it conflates Muslims with militant Islamists, but also because it is both sectarian and highly racial. In particular, it makes the classic mistake of assuming that Muslim is a synonym for Arab. In the real world, the proportion of Muslims worldwide who are Arabs is under fifteen per cent. As an example, perhaps the most extreme Islamic nation on Earth, the Shi’a Republic of Iran, is a Persian country, not an Arab country (although admittedly there is a very substantial number of Arabs living there). Most Muslims, incidentally, are Sunnis, not Shi’ites, another distinction many laymen in the UK fail to recognise. Only about twenty per cent of Muslims globally are Shi’ites.

So long as people associate a religion with a race, and more particularly with a racial caricature they hold in contempt, then hostility towards that religion is racism, and the religion’s unpleasant features are merely the pretext for racial feeling.

Where the hostility towards a religion is based on an informed aversion towards its teachings and philosophies, then one might argue that it is not racist; but only then if the same hostility is felt towards other religions with equally unpleasant laws. For instance, Christians in Britain First, such as Jayda Fransen, raise reasonable objections to some of the more blood-curdling passages in the Qur’an, but conveniently overlook – refuse to be drawn on – the horrific laws and commands of the God of the Old Testament. Why, if not because Christianity is ‘our’ country’s religion, whereas Islam belongs to ‘people from elsewhere’?

Whether the religion is specifically a race is therefore immaterial. Look at myself; I am a non-practicing Jew – part of Jewry but not of Judaism, entirely on the word of the ancient Prophet Ezra. You could argue that Jewry is not a race at all – Ezra’s somewhat arbitrary convention has it that it is a matrilineal ethnicity – but nobody in their right mind would argue that anti-Semitism is anything other than a form of racism.

I am largely dismissive of all religions to a greater or lesser extent, including Judaism – on analysis I find all the Abrahamic religions in particular very authoritarian and bloodthirsty – but I respect the right of others to worship in their own way, so long as they make no attempt to impose it on others. Islamophobes have no such ‘live-and-let-live’ outlook; not only do they hate the aggressive and bullying militants of Wahhabism, they hate anyone who is a Muslim at all. They cannot see the distinction; any Muslim is a Hollywood-style Arab caricature in their eyes.

What matters when identiying racism is not the doctrine, which is usually just the handy pretext for prejudice, it is the impulse that is driving it. That impulse is ugly, irrational, and hateful. Mere association with ancient texts from the Middle East does not create any fundamental difference to that impulse at all.

by Martin Odoni

I have a question to ask here, but before I get to that, a quick observation. It is very clear that Richard Littlejohn is a great expert. I mean, he must be. Newspapers like The Daily Mail and The S*n would hardly hire someone who is all mouth and zero knowledge, would they? You know, someone who tries to compensate for total ignorance with just sounding really aggressively certain all the time. No, not those two newspapers, they would never set standards so low.

So let us take it as read that Littlejohn is an expert. But here is my question – I promise it is not a doubt – in what subjects exactly is Littlejohn an expert? My reason for asking is that every time I see he has written a column on… er, well, any subject at all, I notice that his factual accuracy is not routinely at a level of which a meticulous fact-checker would be altogether proud.

Take Syria, for example. Well, Littlejohn – or ‘Dick’ as I prefer to call him – tried to take Syria on board during an article published by the Mail yesterday. Sadly, he got a few details a bit, sort of, wrong-ish.

Firstly, Littlejohn claims, almost mechanically for a Conservative, that the crisis is mostly the fault of the last Labour Government, who were supposedly spending too much time ‘scouring for immigrants’.

Perhaps if the demography of Britain had not been so speedily and irreversibly transformed by Labour’s outrageous and deliberately anti-democratic decision to dismantle our borders in the name of ‘diversity’, people might be prepared to be more accommodating.

Really, Dick? You are suggesting that the more diversity there is, and the greater the knowledge people have of other cultures, the less tolerance there will be? It hurts me to point this out to you, Dick, but studies show that hostility to foreigners, and fear of immigrants, are in fact more widespread in areas of Britain that have very few foreign-born people coming to settle. As Demos have pointed out; –

More than 75 per cent of white British people are opposed to immigration in areas where fewer than 2 per cent of residents are immigrants. This compares to 60 per cent opposition in areas where 10 to 15 per cent of the population is non-British.

On that note, Dick, can you argue that the British people in, say, the 1950’s, when the non-White population was all of about 100,000 (see page 5) were more tolerant of immigrants than Britons of today would be? Hmm, now I think about it, I seem to recall hearing one or two stories down the years about Caribbean and Indian workers in Britain being given a tough time during the post-war era.

There is also an implication in the above that the relaxed-borders policy of the last Labour Government might have encouraged more refugees to come to Britain. Given that far more refugees are heading for places like Germany and Hungary than to Britain, while the tragic Kurdi family whose pictures provoked Dick’s writing were actually trying to get to Canada, the conduct of a British Government from about ten years ago looks a little irrelevant.

No, Dick, I think you have got that bit quite wrong-ish.

Next up, Dick claims, after a reference to the Nazis, that, “Unlike Germany, we’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.” Oh I wholeheartedly agree. The British have never done anything racist or Imperialist. Er, except the forced dispossession of the people of Ireland in the aftermath of the English Civil Wars. And the sugar plantations in the West Indies. And the forced shipping of hundreds of thousands of African slave-labourers to said plantations. And two hundred years of corrupt and repressive control of India. And the holocaust-like policy towards Ireland during the Potato Famine. And the use of concentration camps in the Boer War. And helping with the post-colonial partitioning of the Middle East creating countries like Syria in the first place. And conquering a quarter of the planet.

All right, maybe we do have one or two things to be ashamed of, so I guess you got that bit kind of wrong-ish too, Dick.

Dick then speaks of local Councillor Charles Swift, claiming that, in protest at his native Peterborough becoming overrun by foreigners thanks to the machinations of the Blair-and-Brown Governments, Swift resigned his lifelong Labour membership. Well sorry, Dick, but I have done some quick digging on Swift, and guess what? You are wrong-ish about that too. Swift is in fact not a lifelong Labour member. He left the Labour Party way back in 1992, well before New Labour got into Government – before most people had even heard of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for that matter – and way before immigration controls were relaxed in 2003-4. Swift was already serving on Peterborough Council as an independent for several years before Blair became Labour leader in 1994, and he stated quite clearly that his reasons for leaving were the growing centralisation of the party.

Referring to the father of the tragic drowning victim Aylan Kurdi, Abdullah, Dick points out the following; –
What wasn’t explained was where this man came from or whether he was really ‘oppressed’

Oh dear. Maybe your eyes and ears were closed, Dick, but it does not take much effort to find that these details were indeed explained. The story is harrowing, but bears telling.

Abdullah had undoubtedly been oppressed, as he was detained for fully five months by Syrian Air Force Intelligence in Damascus, during which he was tortured. He was later captured by ISIL operatives who beat him so badly that some of his teeth fell out. After he finally escaped, Abdullah fled from Damascus to Aleppo with his wife and sons, Aylan and Ghalib, but the situation there soon became just as dangerous due to the spread of the war. So the family retreated again, this time to Kobane, Abdullah’s hometown.

Forces of Islamic State of Iraq & Levant attacked Kobane in 2012 [NOTE: Typo corrected here – originally read 2014.], at which point the Kurdi family decided they had no option but to leave Syria altogether. They fled across the border to Turkey, but like so many other refugees who had arrived there, found that the Turkish Government had little sympathy. (More on that below.) With no assistance expected to arrive from anywhere, the Kurdi family paid almost $6,000 to secure four places on an overcrowded rubber dinghy heading across the sea to the Greek island of Kos.

Not far out to sea, rough waters caused the dinghy to overturn, hurling all aboard into the water. At this point, they learned that the lifejackets they had been provided with were fakes. With nothing to keep them afloat, Abdullah’s wife and children all drowned in front of his eyes. It was a small miracle that Abdullah survived.

You ‘just missed’ all that, Dick? A shame, as it makes your comments kind of wrong-ish again.

While expressing doubts about how many of the refugees coming to Europe really are escaping the war, Dick makes the following, shrewd observation; –

Just as at Calais, 99 per cent of them are young men, aged between 15 and 25. Where are all the women and girls?

If you were truly fleeing tyranny and certain death, wouldn’t you bring your wives, sisters, mothers and daughters with you, instead of abandoning them to their fate?

I do have to apologise again, Dick, because it really is such a clever point you have made, but it is, once more, kind of wrong-ish. An awful lot of the refugees who have fled Syria have not survived the journey, and for most of those who have not, the reason is likely to be physicality. That most of those who have survived are young men between about 15 and 25 is because young men around those ages tend to be the strongest, fastest and most energetic specimens of humanity. It may be unfair, and there are always exceptions, but biologically, the people most likely to survive these sorts of journeys are young men, because being strong and fast are undoubtedly big advantages when battling for your life.

Dick then insists, when reflecting on what happened to little Aylan,

it’s not our fault, and it’s not our responsibility, however compassionate we might feel.

Is it not? I do not wish to burden you with such speculative questions, Dick, but given that the war is not the fault of the refugees either, does it really matter whose fault it is? Would you not say, Dick, that what matters is that these people desperately need help, and as we are in a position to offer at least some help to them, that alone should make it our responsibility? Human lives are only worth saving when we were the ones to endanger them? This is like suggesting that when someone falls in the street and stops breathing, we should just walk past and ignore them, because it was not us who made them stop breathing in the first place.

Dick continues; –

here’s what puzzles me. They’d been living in Turkey for the past year. So why didn’t he apply for asylum there?

Again, Dick, I do not wish to imply a lack of basic professionalism on your part, but it would not have taken that much effort for you to read up on this and learn the answer. The Kurdi family did not have passports with them when they arrived in Turkey, and under the strict, unsympathetic rules the Turkish Government has imposed on refugees, this barred them from receiving full asylum, or even from moving freely about the country. They would have had to place themselves in a Turkish refugee camp, whose conditions are unlikely to be any better than the conditions in a World War II Prisoner-of-War camp.

Dick hath not yet protested enough, it seems, for he then asks the following question; –

We’re also told that he’s a Kurd. So why didn’t he move to Kurdistan?

Dick. Dick. DICK! You should keep your fingers away from the keyboard, and have us suspect you are a fool, rather than write such a ridiculous question and spare us any doubts.

Firstly, Dick, the fact that Abdullah Kurdi is a Kurd partly answers your previous question. Having visited Turkey several times myself, and met a few Kurdish people there (none of whom were particularly keen for their origins to be revealed to the people around them), I can state without hesitation that Kurds are treated there in much the way Palestinians are treated by Orthodox Jews in Israel – like sub-humans. It was therefore not a safe place in which the Kurdi family could remain, especially when they had no freedom of movement. (A point that needs to be made to the UK Independence Party’s Peter Bucklitsch.)

But secondly, Dick – and once more I hate to reveal this to you but it is nonetheless a critical point – ‘Kurdistan’ does not, strictly speaking, exist. There is no such country, and no central, unified authority governing over it. There is a region of lands that can be collectively referred to as ‘Kurdistan’, overlapping the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, and most of the Kurdish people living in these four countries would love for these lands to become independent and united as a new country. But this has not actually happened yet, Dick.

And the third point, Dick, perhaps the most important of the three, is that, insofar as Kurdistan can be said to exist, it is in fact one of the most persistently violent war-zones in all of the Middle East, and has been fought over between Kurdish groups and their respective Governments for over half a century. This is precisely because the Kurds would like to form their own country, and the Governments of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran do not altogether agree with the idea of losing their territorial integrity. ISIL itself has been heavily-involved in the fighting in the region over the last two years, so you, Dick, are arguing that the Kurdi family should have fled towards the very wars from which they were trying to escape.

Suggesting ‪‎Syrian Refugees‬ should escape the war by fleeing to ‘Kurdistan’ is therefore a little like suggesting that a Jew escaping from Stutthof in 1941 should try to flee the oppression of Nazism by travelling to Berlin.

Which is… wrong-ish.

Oh dear, Dick, did you really write all that? Because it is one thing to disavow all responsibility for people in dire need, it is quite another to disavow all responsibility for getting the facts right. Seeing you write in what claims to be a ‘newspaper’, lack of fact-checking is a serious oversight.

Maybe that answers my original question though. Dick Littlejohn is an expert in sounding confident about subjects of which he knows very little at all, and of which he wants to know even less.