Sean Gallagher and political agendas in RTÉ

I note than Sean Gallagher’s case against RTÉ may be heard in the High Court this year.

Good.

What the media overlooks is often more interesting than what it reports. The drama of the Halawa family was a missed opportunity to ask hard questions about a group of Irish Muslim activists in Egypt. Once upon a time, people who asked questions about Communist subversion of the American government were called paranoid “red-baiters”. Then came the Mitrokhin Archive and the declassification of the Venona Project in the 1990s, and we know those red-baiters were right. Senator McCarthy was widely laughed at in the 1950s for calling Harry Dexter White, one of the architects of Bretton Woods, a Soviet agent. In 2013, Foreign Affairs could run lengthy articles asking why Harry Dexter White spied for the Soviets. We can do the same for Alger Hiss, John Stewart Service, Owen Lattimore, and perhaps hundreds more of their contemporaries.

In the spirit of making sure justice is done today rather than by historians decades from now, the painful possibility of subversion of some kind needs to be confronted. Of particular assistance here may be be an assistant producer of Frontline, Aoife Kelleher, daughter of the Labour Party politician Tom Kelleher. It seems a lot of players here revolve around her.

So, even though Passover is still a few months away, I have Four Questions for Ireland’s national broadcaster about the infamous night of October 24th, the final Presidential debate:

1. Why was Michael D. Higgins was not asked a direct question by a member of the audience? This seems inexplicable, given that along with Gallagher he was the main contender.

2. Why was Glenna Lynch, a businesswoman and left-leaning activist, permitted to ask not one, but two questions to Sean Gallagher? Lynch is a follower of, and is followed by, the assistant producer Aoife Kelleher on Twitter (whose account is now private). Aoife has a history of sending supportive tweets about Lynch when she makes radio and TV appearances.

3. Why was Austin Stack not accepted on the show? The son of prison officer Brian Stack, who was murdered by the IRA in 1983, he made a request to Frontline in order to ask a question to Martin McGuinness. He was declined, and two others got to ask questions to McGuinness instead. One was an unremarkable Fianna Fail girl, and the other was Kevin Conroy. Conroy said he personally disliked Sean Gallagher and was contacted “out of the blue” by Aoife Kelleher to ask questions at the debate. Conroy opened his question to McGuinness with a statement condemning Sean Gallagher.

4. How could 26 minutes lapse between the reading of the infamous hoax tweet and the end of the program without a correction being issued?

I believe the real answers to these questions will show there really was a conspiracy that night. It was all rigged against Gallagher and in favour of Higgins. One can even make the case for Norris being hard done by. A young man by the name of Fitzpatrick was allowed to ask Norris a question. It was really more of a statement claiming he was irresponsible to re-enter the race. This man failed to identify himself as a Higgins supporter, and indeed his question would have bolstered the case for voting Higgins for those of the left-wing persuasion. He also appears to have at least some acquaintance with Aoife Kelleher.

In media circles, there was clear preference for the left-liberal, openly homosexual candidate that was David Norris. After his campaign was wrecked beyond redemption in late July ans early August of that year, with the help of yours truly, Norris was too much of a lost cause. Yet we still have what many people in RTÉ probably wanted: a President with far more loyalty to the teachings of Marx, Shaw, and the Webbs that he does to the Irish Constitution.

Once this fact is established, the Irish people will have to make an informed choice about the future of RTÉ. We can stay the course. We can reform. Or we can do what Kennedy wanted to do to the CIA after the Bay of Pigs: splinter it into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.

You can guess my preference.

The Halawa incident, and the Muslim Brotherhood plays the victim

In the past few days, the Irish media has been saturated with coverage of those members of the Halawa family who got trapped in a mosque in Cairo, surrounded by police. This happened on the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Day of Rage’ last Friday. They are now being held in an Egyptian prison.

The family have marketed themselves as unlucky tourists, and the media are dutifully parroting this line. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of these ladies, called Fatima, was being interviewed on Radio One claiming to be innocently trapped in Fateh Mosque on Ramses Square. There was no mention of the Islamist mob that had attacked the police station on the corner of that same square from that same mosque; a mob they were very likely there to support. There was no mention of the fact that the army, police and residents provided safe passage for women to leave Al-Fatah Mosque. Here’s a picture from Egypt Daily News:

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Were the Halawas really “trapped” in this mosque?

Fatima’s father is Imam Hussein Halawa, a very prominent Islamist figure operating out of the Clonskeagh mosque. Clonskeagh is a Gulf-state operation and a haven of Muslim Brotherhood ideology.

This young lady was saying her phone battery was so low that she could not call the Irish Embassy, yet she could do several interviews over the same phone with RTE in one day.

Aside from presenting the story from an angle the media wont, I want to offer some thoughts on what just happened here.

Firstly, the ‘plight’ of the Halawas, who arrived in Egypt to agitate, received many times more attention than the 40 churches burned to the ground and looted in the last few days in Egypt. This crime was committed by people the Halawas came to assist. This disparity in the media coverage is in itself obscene.

Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood had called for a ‘Day of Rage’ that led to dozens of policemen being killed, and the violence is still ongoing. Just two day ago, 25 soldiers were lined up and shot by Islamists in the Sinai. Several were beheaded. The Halawa girls were with the Muslim Brotherhood in one of its mosques that same day, by their own volition. Over three weeks ago, Omaima Halawa posted a message on Facebook pledging to stay in Egypt and saying “we only fear Allah not bullets”. Papa Hussein Halawa ‘likes’ this post. Here is a link.

I believe these people, the Halawas and the Muslim Brotherhood, are incredibly talented liars and propagandists, good at portraying themselves as victims. The image below shows them using a tactic the Palestinians have been employing for years: professional “corpses” wheeled out for the cameras.

There is a reflex tendency to see Arab Muslims as innocent victims; of western powers, the Israelis, and so on. Islamic persecution of Copts has no place in the narrative, so it’s simply ignored. Here, for instance, is a report of Muslim Brotherhood supporters capturing nuns and parading them down the streets of Cairo as ‘prisoners of war’.

Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood may be good at PR, but the media won’t ask hard questions because they fear being seen as ‘Islamophobic’. Some westerners are as much to blame as them.

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P.S. – I feel I should give you a very short summary of my views on the Egyptian military’s actions against the Brotherhood.

It is commonly said the military are opposing the democratic will of the Egyptians. This is true; but it’s also a very good thing. The Egyptian elections saw the Muslim Brotherhood coming out on top, with over half the vote, and the even more extreme Salafists landing in second, getting about a quarter of the vote. Both groups came out far ahead of the nearest liberal faction. The democratic will of the Egyptian people, much like that of the Arab people in Syria and Palestine, is expressed in fanaticism, supremacism, and hatred. Its far from a minority of Muslims that are Islamists, a lie we have been told for many years.

I do not accept the legitimacy of Muslim Brotherhood or Salafist ideology, and I would not even if 51%+ of my fellow citizens did. Thus, I wish General Sisi the best of luck mowing down every last one of these swine.

The Politics of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Today, the New York Times features on op-ed on the anniversary of the first shots of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It is significant that it is written by a professor of intellectual history who specializes in “the history of literary and political engagement with Marxism and phenomenology”. We are told by this lady, Marci Shore, that the Uprising was led by an assortment of Zionists, led by Mordechai Anielewicz, joined by the non-Zionist socialists of the Bund like Marek Edelman, all under the banner of the Jewish Combat Organisation (ZOB). We are told of their brave battle from the bunkers of the Ghetto, and the raising of the Zionist and Polish flags on its tallest building. We are told that the ” Zionist far-right” had its own resistance organisation, the Jewish Military Union (ZZW), but nothing else is said of them.

There we have it: the standard, misleading, fairy-tale account of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, from the original paper of record.

The Real Story of the Uprising

What you wont know from reading the New York Times is that this mysteriously absent group, the ZZW, was roughly the same size as the ZOB. It was they who raised the Jewish and Polish standards on the Ghetto’s tallest building in Muranowski Square. They kept those flags flying under days of bombardment, much to the ire of the Germans and the awe of the city’s Poles. The longest, fiercest fighting during the the three weeks of the Uprising took place on this square, in the district defended by the ZZW. This is clear from the report of Jürgen Stroop, the SS man in charge of the Ghetto’s liquidation. After the war, Marek Edelman, given a prominent place in the New York Times account, was told by unequivocally by Stroop that “the strongest defense was at Muranowsi Square”. He could vividly recall the fighting there, but not at other areas like the Ghetto’s Brushmaker’s workshop, where Edelman and most of his colleagues were positioned – even when Edelman tried to remind him of it.

So, who were the ZZW? They were mostly composed of Jewish veterans of the Polish armed forces. They were politically to the right: anti-Communist and followers of Vladimir Jabotinsky’s brand of Revisionist Zionism. The ZOB, on the other hand, were dominated by labor Zionists like their leader, Anielewicz. Therein lies the issue: for a long time, there was no powerful political constituency to raise awareness of the ZZW’s struggle. There were plenty who wanted to suppress it. It is amazing to think that even in the face of such a ruthless enemy and imminent death, there were especially vicious and disastrous political animosities among the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, and the rivalries were still at work many years after the event.

It is also remarkable that as early as December 1943, the great historian of the Ghetto, Emmanuel Ringelblum, a left-wing Zionist who denounced the ideology of the Revisionists, complained that the ZZW were being written out of history. In a letter to a colleague he asked “[W]hy is there no information on the ZZW in the history? They must leave an imprint, even if in our eyes, they are unsympathetic”.

First, a little more background.

The ZZW was founded in November 1939, much earlier than ZOB, which was founded in the summer of 1942. It was better armed and had better military training, given the veterans in its ranks and the militaristic nature of Revisionist youth movements like Betar that were attracted to it. They had much better contact with the Polish Home Army than the ZOB, because so many were former comrades in arms. The ZZW was able to secure machine guns, while other Jewish groups were not.

In fact, prior to the war, the Polish government had been secretly transferring arms to the Irgun, the Revisionist militia in the British Mandate of Palestine. The extent of this cooperation is demonstrated in a very moving story told by Moshe Arens in Flags Over The Warsaw Ghetto. During the Nazi bombardment of Warsaw in September 1939, Lili Strassman, founder of a group of Jewish intellectuals in the city who supported the Irgun, was confined to a bomb shelter while her husband, Henryk, was fighting. He would become one of the officers murdered under Stalin’s orders at Katyn. Strassman knew there were arms stored in the city that had been transferred to the Irgun but not yet shipped. She braved intense bombing to find these arms and take them to the commander of the defense of Warsaw, General Walerian Czuma. She received a receipt for the weapons and wrote of her happiness to help the Poland in its hour of need.

While the leadership of the ZZW was right-wing, they stressed they were foremost a fighting organisation. They welcomed leftists into their ranks if they were skilled enough fighters. One of their men was even nicknamed Moshe the Bolshevik.

The same could not be said of their rivals. The ZZW approached the ZOB about uniting the efforts of the Jewish Resistance. They could not get the ZOB to accept this, partly because the ZZW proposed that the leadership should have some combat experience. This suggestion seems entirely reasonable. However, because combat veterans were disproportionately involved with the ZZW, the ZOB saw this as an attempt at a power grab. Some socialist factions under the ZOB umbrella slandered the ZZW as “fascists”. They put the welfare of their own people behind left-wing ideology, even at that moment in history.

Such behavior gives you a good indication of why the Polish Home Army was less inclined to assist the ZOB. They saw them as political demagogues, many too sympathetic to the Bolsheviks to be trusted.

Unfortunately, the leaders of the ZZW, Pawel Frenkel and Leon Rodal, died in the fighting. The story of their amazing bravery was forgotten. These people were offered the chance to escape the doomed Ghetto and take up the fight with the Home Army, but they insisted on fighting and dying with their people. During the Uprising, Rodal was able to don an SS uniform, join a group of Germans, and lead them right into an ambush.

But their story was not only neglected after the war. It was covered up.

Myth and Memory

One of the conspirators here was Marek Edelman, praised extensively in today’s New York Times. The other was the Soviet Union, and to Shore’s credit she mentions their distortion of the record.

Edelman had an agenda in his famous book, The Ghetto Fights. He sought to downplay the role of the Revisionists and the Jewish right-wing, and play up the role of socialists and socialism. Firstly, he lied about the size of the ZZW, depicting it as far smaller than it actually was. Most unforgivably, he claimed at one point in the book that they fled the fighting almost as soon as it began. None of this was true. The German reports completely contradict it. As do the accounts of non-Jewish Poles, many of whom saw the Jewish and Polish standards being raised by the ZZW and being flown during the fight. Left-wing extremists of Edelman’s ilk also sought to portray the Polish Home Army as an anti-Semitic force that failed to adequately assist the Jews.  It suited the agenda of the new Soviet occupiers to paint the Polish Home Army as anti-Semitic and reactionary, after Stalin had so blatantly betrayed them. This was a communist caricature, but it has a hold on the popular image of the Uprising even today.

It must also be mentioned that successive Israeli governments, dominated by Labour Zionists for about 30 years, were in no hurry to correct false portrayals of their political rivals in the Revisionist camp.

It is a shame for ideological agendas to distort the story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It is sad that this happened in the 1940’s, but its truly pathetic that it goes on 70 years later in the New York Times. I cannot help but recall the words of Ghetto fighter and ZZW leader Leon Rodal said to his comrades on the eve of battle:

During that far-off period of slavery, when the Roman legions trampled almost the entire ancient world, and the whole world kneeled before them, only one small Roman province, Judea, took up arms, rose up to fight for freedom and in defense of the honour of man, against a world of injustice. And this is the reason why Judea is inscribed in the history of man as a symbol of the fight for the spirit of man… Maybe, some day, after many years, when the history of the struggle against the Nazi conquerors is written, we also will be remembered, and who knows, we will become – like small Judea in its day, which fought mighty Rome – the symbol of man’s spirit that cannot be suppressed, whose essence is the fight for freedom, for the right to live, and the right to exist.

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The defense of the Warsaw Ghetto was based on a triangle, whose apex was Muranowski Square. The corners of the base were to be the Mila -Zamenhofa and the Gensia-Nalewki intersections. ZZW was to hold Muranowski Square and the ZOB the two angles of the base.

Some Responses to Sandy Hook

After the shooting at the Batman premiere in Colorado earlier this year, Brian Doherty, an expert on firearms policy, did a cool-headed analysis for Russia Today on the errors of clamors for gun control that inevitably follow such tragedies. I think it holds up well in light of what just happened in Connecticut.

 

Its important to remember that these bizarre attacks, and gun murders in general, are rare and getting rarer every year. This is despite the fact that all states have liberalized their gun laws in recent years, and many more Americans are carrying weapons. Four million Americans each year apply for gun licenses. Alarmist news headlines notwithstanding, gun violence has in fact plummeted by half over the last 20 years. Sure, we hear a lot about America having a higher rate of gun deaths than virtually any other place. What we don’t hear nearly as often is that many of these incidents on the official statistics are suicides, or committed by gangs unlikely to be affected even if the federal government were to institute a strict firearms ban tomorrow. Lets not forget the tens of thousands of serious crimes prevented every year by gun owners.

***

This raises another important policy point. Did the fact that this elementary school was declared a ‘gun-free zone’ make it any safer? What if one of the teachers or staff was armed? After Israel witnessed a number of Palestinian terrorist attacks against its schools in the 1970’s, fierce debate ensued about scrapping the harsh firearms regulations instituted under the British Mandate. Eventually, teachers were allowed to carry guns, along with parents and even grandparents who came to help out with security at school buildings and on school trips. The attacks stopped. The soft targets were now not so soft.

***

I know this alleged quote from Morgan Freeman may not be genuine. After all, who could possibly be better to add gravitas to crap you want to spread on the internet? However, I believe the argument has a lot of merit. Concerning the causes of school shootings and how to prevent them:

You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.

It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations  sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem.

There is significant evidence that excessive talk and media coverage of suicide actually  increases the suicide rate. I would not be surprised if the same pattern appeared in relation to massive gun attacks.

 

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Sure and Begorrah, ‘Tis A Most Moving Tribute

One of the odder things you’ll find on YouTube: a tribute to the late Colonel Qaddaffi with an Irish twist.

Haaretz Manufactures Another Lie

Pablo Christiani was born into a pious Jewish family in 13th century France. Somewhere along the line, he strayed from fold and became a Christian. Like many other baptized Jews of that era, he took up a leading role in demonizing his people. He even tried to get the Talmud banned. This kind of thing often proved to be a lucrative career path for Jewish converts. Christiani was paid good money to travel far and wide to convert Jews. Christiani is most famous for his role in the Disputation of Barcelona in 1263, an event organised by the Dominicans for the Court of King James I of Aragon. Christiani would debate the leading rabbi and philosopher Nachmanides. Unlike similar debates in Medieval times, it was not rigged against the Jews. Nachmanides insisted on complete freedom of speech.

To the horror of the Dominicans and the surprise of the wider population, the Disputation went in favour of Nachmanides. The King was so impressed that he awarded the rabbi with a prize of 300 gold coins and declared that never before had he heard “an unjust cause so nobly defended”. He even visited a synagogue in Barcelona and addressed the congregants a short time afterward.

Pablo Christiani was upset. Don’t feel too sorry for him. As a consolation, I believe he was awarded an editorial job at Haaretz.

The Role of Haaretz and Gideon Levy in the Apartheid Canard

Haaretz is a left-liberal paper of good quality. Unfortunately, there appears to be an increasing emphasis on the ‘left’ side of the equation  Its English online edition has an important role. A quick look at the comments reveal its mostly read by foreign hacks and quite a few anti-Semites looking for ‘dirt’ on the Jewish state. Gideon Levy, a journalist for Haaretz, is respected far more among left-wing circles abroad than he is in Israel – like many others at that paper.

Gideon Levy could be described as the Pablo Christiani of our time. He’s also been known to shoot from the hip. He falsely claimed to the now disgraced journalist Johann Hari that the death of a dog by a Qasam rocket got more newspaper coverage in Israel than the deaths of tens of Palestinians on the same day. Unfortunately, the incidents he described occurred three years apart.

Levy’s latest piece of journalistic venom has reverberated throughout the world. He wrote two articles – a report and an opinion piece – on a survey of around 500 Israelis on the political situation. The headline over his report screamed: Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel. 

There was a tiny flaw in the initial report and Levy’s commentary. It was all bollocks.

A number of disparities were picked up by Ben-Dror Yemini, a senior journalist with the Hebrew daily Maariv:

According to the survey, 53 percent of Israelis are not opposed to having an Arab neighbor. That much is clear. But when Gideon Levy passes from reporting to overt incitement masquerading as “interpretation,” he writes that “the majority doesn’t want… Arab neighbors.” Could it be that the second Gideon Levy didn’t properly read what was written by the first Gideon Levy?

Moving on: According to the survey, 33% of Israelis support revoking the voting rights of Israeli Arabs. That’s a grave figure in and of itself. But when it comes to the “interpretation,” Levy writes that “the majority doesn’t want Arabs to vote for the Knesset.” Again, Levy the interpreter seems not to have read Levy the reporter. Is he capable of formulating a sentence that includes only the truth? And where in the hell is his editor? Was there not a single editor who could properly parse the results of the survey?

Not only that, but the headline Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel did not even reflect the findings of the survey. The Israelis polled were asked about the granting of voting rights to Palestinian Arabs if the territories were annexed. It did not relate to the current situation, but to a hypothetical situation. Most Israelis oppose the annexation of the territories in the first place.

Levy has come out with a somewhat tepid apology. Unfortunately, it seems to be available only to Haaretz subscribers  He says mistakes “were not made intentionally, but as a result of neglect due to time pressure”.

Anybody who actually believes this happened accidentally at Israel’s oldest quality broadsheet is a fool.

Gideon Levy is no fool. Neither was Pablo Christiani. But they both had an agenda and an audience, and they did a massive disservice to their own people.

Illustration of a Medieval disputation. These events of the past are still remarkably relevant

Are TV3 Lying to the Irish Independent?

As noted by tallrite in his comment on my last post, a TV3 spokeswoman has told the Irish Independent that she “was not aware of any complaints being made about Mr Browne’s remarks” on Israel.

Several people have since told me that they wrote to TV3 to complain about Browne’s  ‘cancer’ slur. Some even wrote twice. They have responses from the broadcaster to prove it.

Either the TV3 spokeswoman is lying or they have a particularly incompetent complaints handler.

Vincent Browne: Israel Is A Cancer

The Irish broadcaster Vincent Browne is a leftie. Of that there is no doubt. However, I am often impressed by the way he can give other Irish lefties a good grilling on his show, even if they are disproportionately represented on the panels in the first place. I’ve always been fond of Tonight with Vincent Browne. Its the only television program from Ireland that I bother to catch up with online.

On one subject, unfortunately, Browne lacks all objectivity. And it really shows. That subject is Israel:

Browne has talked about Israel in this way before, but never in so openly vicious a manner. Still, I doubt he will get into too much trouble for this. Demonizing an entire country as a ‘cancer’ (something that must be eliminated, of course) is language associated with hardcore bigots. Nazis have said it of the Slavic nations. Socialists said it of Kulaks. Islamists say it of Jews. An Israeli who says it about Arabs is likely to be labeled a Kahanist lunatic, and certainly isn’t going to be welcome among progressive circles. But from the aisles of organic food stores and the auditoriums of universities, the notion that Israel is a ‘cancer’ is almost taken for granted.

Nevertheless, this kind of talk has no place on a respectable current affairs program, even in Ireland. Its particularly unworthy of  Vincent Browne, who likes to give the odd lecture on media ethics. Browne’s words are an echo of the vilest propaganda produced by Islamic fundamentalist states. For this, Tonight with Vincent Browne has lost a fan.

The Savile Case has disturbing parallels with just about every incident of institutional child abuse

Nothing irritates me quite like hearing pundits as well as normal people talk about all those echoes of the Catholic Church scandals in the Savile case.

There was a fascinating, if incredibly worrisome, truth laid out by Malcolm Gladwell recently in the New Yorker. The fact is, pedophiles have a nasty habit of working their way into positions of trust with access to a pipeline of potential victims. With their sick end goal in mind, this process can often take many, many years. Its a big investment, but the payoffs are huge for the dedicated child molester. It happens in churches. It happens in sports. It happens in charities. It happens in schools and even governments  To me, the Sandusky case at Penn State and the case of Jimmy Saville are remarkably similar. In both cases, men won the hearts and minds of ordinary people due to their tireless charity work with poor, vulnerable children or the sick. Its incredibly disturbing to think that this was never done with the well-being of the poor or sick children in mind, but rather an elaborate way to get a constant supply of them for sexual pleasure.

Unfortunately, there is an equally powerful trend of people within institutions turning a blind eye, burying cases, making excuses and hoping it all goes away. “Pretend you’re asleep, he’s here” is what Stoke Mandeville nurses reportedly told patients when Savile came calling.

A combination of deception on the part of the pedophile and a habit of looking away on the part of colleagues in institutions. That’s how all these people, from Sandusky to Savile, as well as numerous pedophiles from the churches to the boy scouts, get away with it.

The most interesting aspect of the Savile scandal may not be how well, as a BBC employee, he fits into the institutional trend. It might instead be the silence of the notoriously tough and often vicious British tabloids, as noted by Michael White.

Also, how could people look at this man and not think he was more than a wee bit dodgy?

The President and the Pakistani: The Reality

The President and the Pakistani, currently running at the Waterloo East Theater claims to be based on:

The incredible chapter in the life of Barack Obama, when he lived in a crime-ridden and violent neighbourhood with an illegal Pakistani immigrant, this is a gripping play about a night when a hunt for the truth exposes the lies we want to believe in.

Barack Obama did indeed share a sixth floor walk-up in Harlem with a Pakistani by the name of Sohale Siddiqi in the early eighties. The play portrays the idealistic Obama struggling to pay the rent in a filthy apartment surrounded by criminals and bums. The setting of the play may be accurate, but the story is not.

First off, Barack is referred to as ‘Barry’, the given name Obama used for most of his life up to his undergraduate years at Occidental College in California. Obama later transferred to Columbia, always intending to move into nearby Harlem. Thus, he would likely have gone by ‘Barack’ during his time in New York. Going to Harlem with an illegal Pakistani immigrant was a politically-motivated gesture to demonstrate where his loyalties lay. Adopting the name ‘Barack’ was a similar gesture. As I have written before, Obama has had a life-long obsession with being ‘black enough’ to be the black leader he wanted to be.  Obama admits that he “ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself with whites”. Thus, he ended up manufacturing an identity and personal narrative. He insisted that people at Occidental call him ‘Barack’, as he recounts in a typical conversation on page 104 of Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance:

“Barack’s my given name. My father’s name. He was a Kenyan”.

“Does it mean something?”

“It means ‘Blessed’. In Arabic. My grandfather was  a Muslim”.

This was all true, but Obama had been using the name ‘Barry’ up to this point. The change was for a reason:

[C]onfusion made me question my own racial credentials… To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets [page 100].

On page 105 he admits:

What I needed was a community, I realized, a community that cut deeper than the common despair that black friends and I shared when reading the latest crime statistics, or the high fives I might exchange on a basketball court. A place where I could put down stakes and test my commitments.

So he moves to Harlem. This was a carefully considered choice. ‘The President and the Pakistani’ doesn’t make that clear. Obama didn’t need to live in a dump with low-lives. He could afford better. He found the illegal immigrant Siddiqi through wealthy Pakistani colleagues at Occidental: Imad Hussein, Mohamed Hasan Chandoo, and Wahid Hamid. Obama would visit Pakistan himself, staying at the grand estate of Muhammad Mian Soomro, who in 2007 became Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister.

It wasn’t allegiance to Islam that led Obama to do all this. It was an expression of racial and Third World solidarity. Siddiqi was secular, as well as a heavy drinker and drug abuser.  Obama had expressed pride in his grandfather’s conversion to Islam, purely because he felt it was evidence he was anti-white. Obama had a long interest in Nation of Islam, and his links to them and other anti-white black nationalist movements are shockingly extensive. His image of Islam as anti-European skewed his perception of his grandfather. He notoriously claimed he took part in the Mau Mau uprising and was tortured by the British. In fact, his third wife, whom Obama calls Granny, would tell Obama that his grandfather very willingly served the British and admired their ways. Plus, he only converted to Islam because he found Christianity too soft and feminine.

‘The President and the Pakistani’ begins by portraying Obama and his new friend as a comic bromance getting up to all sorts of wacky antics. It ends with Obama making a commitment to straighten up and act serious after his Pakistani friend’s dog is stabbed by drug dealers. He complains about the cocaine all over the table after he’s invited some friends over for an anti-apartheid meeting. These particular details may or may not be true. We do know, however, that Obama did swear off drugs in this period. He also started jogging. He developed the habits typical of Reagan era yuppies trying to grow up, even briefly contemplating a career in the private sector. He admits in his own account that Siddiqi said he was “becoming a bore”.

‘The’President and the Pakistani’ has proved to be a hit. But don’t believe will give you the real Obama. If it did, no theater would have it.

Barack Obama and Sohale Siqqiqi in 1981