Ken Livingstone is against the academic boycott of Israel

Write up of London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s wide-ranging speech at a meeting organised by the Movement for Reform Judaism, 29th May (i.e. the night before the UCU voted to campaign for a boycott).


Haleh Esfandiari

She’s been charged with espionage. Her place of work, the Woodrow Wilson Centre responds:

At the Wilson Center, we do not take positions on issues, but rather, we bring all sides of an issue together for dialogue. As director of the Middle East Program, Haleh ensured that there was an open dialogue and that she convened meetings which allowed participants and attendees to discuss all views. We do not engage in propaganda. The Wilson Center receives zero funding from the U.S. government’s fund to promote democracy in Iran. Her detention is an affront to the rule of law and common decency. The Wilson Center’s message to the Iranian government is simple: Let Haleh go.”

Government secretly thinks we should all become vegan

I love the way environmentalists, animal rights activists and health professionals coalesce in the vegan movement.

Daily Mail yesterday – Stephen Poulter on the secret plans to turn us all vegetarian. The operative word being ‘secret’. A VIVA spokesperson comments:

“I think it is extraordinary that a Government agency thinks becoming a vegetarian or vegan could have such a positive impact for the environment yet it is not prepared to stand up and argue the case.”

Not extraordinary – entirely in keeping with this government’s record on the environment.

Help. Write for Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Salah Uddah Shoaib ChoudhuryDevout Muslim member of the Islam-Israel Fellowship, editor of Bangladesh’s Weekly Blitz, nominated for a number of prizes for his courage and conscience in the face of beatings, broken bones, intimidation and imprisonment, was arrested as he prepared his contribution to the Hebrew Writers Conference and imprisoned in Dhaka on the phoney charge of sedition. He’s in serious danger.

English Pen give details about who to write to.

It says:

Please send appeals:

  • Protesting the charges against journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury and calling for them to be dropped, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  • Expressing your concern for the safety of Choudhury and requesting that he be provided with immediate and effective police protection.


Prof. Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed
Honorable President and Chief of the Caretaker Government
People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Banga Bhaban

Cc: Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed
Chief Advisor, Caretaker Government
People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Chief Advisor’s Office
Old Sangshad Bhaban
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Fax: 880-2-811 3243 & 880-2-811-1490

It may be most effective, however, to forward these appeals care of the Bangladesh High Commission in London:

Mr Ashraf Uddin
Acting High Commissioner
High Commission for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
28 Queen’s Gate
London SW7 5JA
Fax: 020 7225 2130


Night at EJ and JR’s with Matt. Degenerated into dressing up, and playing a game where you each take the worst book you can find and try to construct a crazy narrative in small fragments. I also tried Nigerian palm wine (£2.99 from Payless in Peckham) but it just tasted sweet, sour and kind of oily…

The next morning we posted three letters to Iranian excellencies on behalf of Haleh Esfandiari, passed through Borough Market for good olive oil and don’t ask me what I did for the rest of Saturday. Oh yeah, talked to my mum and got sucked into Israel again. Well, it’s time I did, but this time I won’t let it divert me from other important concerns. And I cobbled together a chronological philosophy reading list from the web sites of various UK universities.

Next day we went to the Museum of Brands and Packaging. Last time we visited when it was in Gloucester, we had happened on the owner-curator Robert Opie up a step ladder amongst the exhibits, and yesterday he was still there manning the phones (we got lost amongst the cattle-like locals who evidently never deviate from the track they make between home, work and tapas bar) and talking to the visitors. Not every day you get to do that. He told us about marmite jars, squirty cream and wartime recycling. I could have stayed longer, but as it was EJ and Matt left for the pub long before JR and I were ready. Then we went to a pub somewhere near Portobello Rd (which is populated by very creepy people, can’t put my finger on it) and I was able to contribute quite usefully to, and learn from, a conversation about Orde Wingate’s Burma company the Chindits, on account of having read a book I bought from the Cartoon Museum.

When we got home I got into bed and read Plato’s Symposium followed by the Allegory of the Cave. Ferris Bueller reminds me Socrates. Atticus Finch is distinctly Socrates-like, as is Sodapop Curtis. Or maybe it’s the way they are adoringly revealed to us through the accounts of their acolytes. My eyes were opened to Greek homosexuality, the acceptable face of which seems to have involved what the translator calls lovers befriending and – importantly – mentoring and initiating younger boyfriends. The thing about Socrates was that he turned convention on its head, and the younger men regularly ended up wooing him. And he was hard work to woo. The Cave is a must-read for anybody involved in education – if only because it’s quoted so liberally by people trying to make one point or another.

Sunday I started booking our accommodation for the Cambrian Way, then left for the natural history museum in windy rain, where I met pregnant S, pregnant A, and their husbands, and their little two year olds Holly and Olly. It was really good to see the children – Holly is like Augustine’s Angle and very talkative and Olly is cautious and untrusting at first but also self-contained. I’m always just on the verge of making friends with him when we go our separate ways. Started reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations on the train.

Then I tried to get WW1 in cartoons from the Cartoon Museum, because WW2 was mind-blowingly good, but the Cartoon Museum is shut on Mondays.

Came home and Matt was re-insulating the loft after we removed most of the stuff for the electrician to rewire. This time we have fibreglass that stays in its bags. We almost got environmentally friendly stuff but then we didn’t (he found some half-price while he was at B&Q buying a £50 (!) strimmer. Booked most of the rest of the Cambrian Way, spoke to Gina, tended the first that Matt lit. It’s now 22:00 and the fire is dying. Shower and then either Leon Wieseltier or Marcus Aurelius, I’m torn.

‘Vegan offensive’ – Bristol Vegan Fayre

I made a wicked butterbean houmous on Friday night round EJ’s.

But I failed to find a decent vegan group on Facebook. However, if you find veganism threatening enough to draw you to vegan bashing, look no further.

And, meatists, why don’t come to Bristol Vegan Fayre to get yourselves even more offended. According to this press release (which came to me via Google Alerts which is keeping me terribly well informed about this kind of niche stuff) Tim Barford has made startling progress in organising a coalition of not only animal rights orgs, but also environmentalists, waste management bodies, health professionals and even Amnesty. Our day approaches. 😉