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With grateful thanks to PJ Harvey

  • Julian Assange, 2nd January 2014 on YouTube, giving BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day, based on Proverbs 24:3–24:5 and Matthew 10:26–10:27.
    • See also:
      • Sources on Assange
      • *Melzer, Nils (17 April 2021). "Assange, Nils Melzer says the treatment of Julian leaves him "speechless"". Il Fatto Quotidiano (Interview). Interviewed by Stefania Maurizi.

A commendably restrained response

... to Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis:

Jeremy Corbyn is No Antisemite

  • Feinstein, Andrew (29 October 2020). "I Lost 39 Members of My Family in the Holocaust, Jeremy Corbyn is No Antisemite". Double Down News. Retrieved 31 October 2020 – via YouTube.
  • Graeber, David (12 April 2020). "The Weaponisation of Labour Antisemitism". Double Down News. Retrieved 1 November 2020 – via YouTube. One of the things I find most offensive is that I am a self-hating Jew if I am loyal to that tradition of Judaism which has produced such figures as Karl Marx, Baruch Spinoza, Jesus – all those Jewish heretics, somehow all those guys are freaks and Bibi Netanyahu represents my true soul – and if I don't like Bibi Netanyahu very much, I'm a self-hating Jew.
    I can't express how offensive I find that. Those people don't speak for me and they don't speak for the majority of Jews worldwide, and the fact that they are taking our safety, our culture, our traditions, and using it as a weapon to fight against someone who wants to redistribute a little money to homeless people on the street, it's a deep, profound insult to the humanistic spirit which is at the core of Judaism. It is itself antisemitic.
    I come from a left-wing Zionist tradition, actually my mom was Hashomer Hatzair who were socialist Zionists. One of the things which are terrifying is how the right wing has essentially captured the Jewish identity more and more – you hear people say, well you know when people make anti-capitalist statements they're being subtly antisemitic because, as we all know, Jewish people are more likely to be capitalists, err it's like Karl Marx? Rosa Luxemburg? Leon Trotsky? Emma Goldman? – there's a long tradition of Jewish radicalism. To some degree what we now think of as the left is a product of Jewish thought and the Jewish tradition just as much as say Christianity comes out of that tradition. [...]
    They went through anything that Corbyn had ever said, and tried to fit, is there anything we can construct as if it were somehow antisemitic – obviously if you did that you could "prove" anybody was antisemitic – you could prove that Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan were communists if you just took quotes in isolation, and he laid a wreath, I mean Ronal Reagan did lay a wreath on the cemetery of SS troops at Bitburg, the very same force that was running Auschwitz; he knew he was doing it, and no-one has ever accused him of being an antisemite as a result.
    • I strongly recommend watching the video, as Graeber has an exceptional talent, stemming from his deep knowledge and understanding, for bringing his subject alive. His recent death is a huge loss to the whole world.
  • Normally two links would be enough here (but plenty more are available if you look for them). I'm adding this one because Big Brother (Twitter) seems to have decided you can't be allowed to see it (I hate censorship, especially of good work that doesn't fit the standard warmongering propaganda narrative):
    • Segal, Lynne (3 November 2020). "Being Jewish in North Islington Labour Party". Red Pepper. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
      • Quote: "It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to write, yet again, about being a Jewish member of the Labour Party in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency. So let me tell you at once that it has been terrible, almost unbearable. We have had to watch a wholly false, but soon unstoppable, invention of charges of antisemitism against our MP, with our own views as Jewish members completely ignored." [my emphasis]
      • Despite the efforts to suppress this information, a very similar version of this article made it into the Islington Tribune as a letter.

Illegal annexation


"The current hysteria engulfing the British Labour Party resolves itself into a pair of interrelated, if discrete, premises: Anti-Semitism in British society at large and the Labour Party in particular have reached crisis proportions. If neither of these premises can be sustained, then the hysteria is a fabrication. In fact, no evidence has been adduced to substantiate either of them; on the contrary, all the evidence points in the opposite direction. The rational conclusion is that the brouhaha is a calculated hoax—dare it be said, plot?—to oust Jeremy Corbyn and the principled leftist politics he represents from British public life. But even if the allegations were true, the solution would still not be to curb freedom of thought in the Labour Party. At its worthiest, the Left-Liberal tradition has attached a unique, primordial value to Truth; but Truth cannot be attained if dissentients, however obnoxious, are silenced. Given the fraught history of anti-Semitism, on the one hand, and its crude manipulation by Jewish elites, on the other, an objective, dispassionate assessment could appear beyond reach. Still, it must be attempted. The prospect of a historic victory for the Left might otherwise be sabotaged as, thus far, Corbyn’s supporters, whether it be from fear, calculation, or political correctness, dare not speak the name of the evil that is afoot."

Source: Finkelstein, Norman G. (17 August 2018). "The Chimera of British Anti-Semitism, and How Not to Fight It if It Were Real". Information Clearing House. Retrieved 17 August 2018. Also available on Finkelstein's blog, dated 25 August 2018.(The advantage of the version on Finkelstein's blog is that the links to, and backlinks from, the footnotes work correctly.)

As always, Finkelstein is well worth reading. A long article, but essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what is really going on.


  • Here's a quote from Helena Cobban on Syria, written in April 2017, but even more relevant today (my emphasis is in bold; italic emphasis is in the original; I've also corrected a small spelling mistake):

The erosion of the whole memory/immediacy of the question of imperialism and the need to counter it, as I understood it back when I was young in the UK, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many younger people in the west today think that imperialism/anti-imperialism is “tired old dogma” or whatever. Or, they talk glibly, in re Syria, about “dual imperialisms”– that is, Russian along with US/Western– without any appreciation of the relevance of the history of western imperialism in the M.E. region or the significance of the fact that Russia is in Syria as the invited ally of the legitimate government of Syria while the US/Saudi/western forces are there to disrupt, hobble, or topple the country’s entire governing system, in the continuation of plans that the Zionists and Americans have pursued for many decades now.

Full article here. In addition, Cobban has been writing for many years on Syria (and the Middle East in general). Link to all her blog posts on Syria here.
  • 40-minute interview with Carla Ortiz on her experience of living in Syria on YouTube. Ortiz makes it very clear how ridiculous is the picture painted by western media of the current situation in Syria. Not surprising really, when said media are ignoring the crucial point identified by Cobban. Note especially what she has to say about the White Helmets, the liberation of Aleppo, and the treatment of women in Syria
  • Article (28 January 2021) from Peter Ford, who served as British ambassador to Syria from 2003 to 2006. Quote:

    It’s important to grasp the moral enormity of this. [US Ambassador James Franklin] Jeffrey did not stoop to deploying the standard cant about theoretical ‘humanitarian exemptions’ (which don’t work in practice) or about aiming only at Assad’s capacity to do harm. No, for him, the purpose of sanctions was and is to strangle the Syrian economy and if that should mean causing ordinary Syrians to queue for bread or gasoline for hours, or be unable to revive factories and recover jobs, or rebuild and re-equip hospitals, or import vitally needed medical goods… well that’s just collateral damage and it’s all for the greater good of pursuing U.S. interests.

    What Feltman and Balian are proposing is to ease off on some of this strangulation in return for political concessions. There is a term for this: it’s called extortion. (my emphasis)

  • Another quotation from Helena Cobban on Syria:

The New York Times been continuing its wilful hiding of the political facts around the fighting in Syria’s Idlib province.

 ... Gall’s report– like the whole stream of humanitarian tearjerkers the NYT has published about Idlib over the past year– made zero mention of the force that has been controlling Idlib for the past few years, against which the Syrian army and its allies have been fighting. It is an alliance of genocidally takfiri*/jihadi militias led by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

 ... Why is it important that responsible journalists should mention the fact that the Idlib enclave is under the control of fairly heavily armed Al-Qaeda-affiliated militias? For a number of reasons:

If zero mention at all is made of the fact that the enclave is controlled by armed militias, it makes it easier for journalists and those whom they misinform to believe that the Syrian forces and their allies are just gratuitously and cruelly targeting locations and facilities inside the enclave that are very frequently described as “hospitals”, “day-care centers”, etc. Of course, to target such facilities makes zero military sense (unless they are co-located with military installations, which they definitely should not be.) Yes, mistakes, excesses, and “collateral damage” occur in any war; and any war is always horrendous for the residents of the war zone. But if there is zero mention of the presence of any armed formations in the enclave, then the narrative of the Syrian army being gratuitously violent easily takes hold (reinforcing the regime-changers’ longstanding argument that the Syrian government is so uniquely evil that it needs to be toppled asap.)

– Source: Helena Cobban, "US corporate media and the suffering in Syria (contd.)", Just World News, 20 February 2020.

My comment: Note the propaganda technique being used to construct yet another variant of the warmongering narrative.

The Obscenity

If anyone is in any doubt about the obscenity of immigration detention (see About me below), please watch last night's (4 September 2017) BBC Panorama here (58 mins). A shorter version is here. GDWG statement here.

Follow up. Worth noting that the BBC avoids assigning higher-level responsibility for this horror. Usually I prefer cool, contemplative thoughts, but sometimes things are so vile that only a rant will do. And if you want a rant, they don't come much better than this (2min 20sec).

Press coverage

Finally, a public inquiry is being held, scheduled to run from November 2021 to March 2022
  • Rielly, Bethany (24 November 2021). "Former Brook House detainees faced abusive treatment, inquiry hears". Morning Star. Retrieved 24 November 2021. On the first day of hearings, the inquiry heard evidence from whistleblower Callum Tully, who worked as a Brook House officer from 2015 to 2017. Mr Altman [counsel to the inquiry] said [the whistleblower] described a "disturbing culture" at Brook House where staff showed "apathy to vulnerable, disturbed or distressed detained persons." Brook House officers who were deemed too empathetic, helpful or kind to detainees were themselves marginalised, criticised or mocked, he said, adding that there was "visible hostility" towards raising concerns. One of the incidents which drove Mr Tully to go to the BBC was witnessing staff mocking and laughing at a detainee who was standing naked in a room in the solitary confinement block of Brook House.

About me

This is the part of the world I grew up in – pity the weather there isn't usually this good!
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Users by language

My name is Neil Hall. I am a Quaker and like most Quakers am concerned with peace (see Quaker Peace Testimony) and equality (see Social responsibility).

I have a degree in mathematics from the University of Warwick and am an Associate of the Institute of Actuaries. I am retired from actuarial work but still maintain my membership of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries as a retired member.

Current recreations include marathon running and cycling (updated: a series of small but annoying medical problems has prevented me running any marathons in the last few years).

I am also a volunteer visitor with the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group and support several other organisations which help refugees and asylum seekers. I think the practice of imprisoning refugees or asylum seekers, who have committed no crime, is an obscenity. Updated: I have been a volunteer visitor since 1996, but am no longer visiting, as I finally found the experience so emotionally draining, and depressing, that I needed to take a break.

For more about help to Jewish refugees, see Peter F Kurer, "Thoughts for the Week: A helping hand", 8 March 2018.

Nice things about Wikipedia

Some things Wikipedia does well:

  • Bunce Court School – a heart-warming (and surprising) story, against the background of some of the worst atrocities imaginable.
  • Female genital mutilation – well, this is hardly a pleasant topic, but it shows how Wikipedia can sometimes work very well indeed. I don't think you can find a better treatment (of roughly the same length) of this subject anywhere else, either on the internet, or in published writing.

For the avoidance of doubt, I also think there is a dark side to Wikipedia. Perhaps I will add something about that later.

I'm a sucker

... for unsung heroes. Here's an article by a sports journalist (a rugby specialist, which probably explains the headline):

Aylwin's piece is obviously heavily based on Chrissie Wellington's Wikipedia article, which I wrote. Aylwin has done a good journalistic job of paraphrasing and condensing Chrissie's article (with some useful additions of his own) into 500 words. So if you're willing to pay for access to the Telegraph's site (or already have access), please do go and vote for Chrissie. She won't win, of course (the unsung hero again), but it would be nice to see her getting some recognition. In any case, it's good to see that there exists at least one journalist who actually gets the point about Chrissie. As Aylwin wrote,

The trouble with Wellington is that you’ve either never heard of her (most people), or you see her as, well, the greatest sportsperson quite possibly in the world ever, but certainly in the UK. No Brit has dominated their sport like Wellington.

Update: Chrissie came 64th (out of 100). But the main point I draw from this exercise is that the result is more dependent on the media coverage, than on any objective assessment of the athletes' achievements. Andy Murray is indeed a deserving winner; at least as far as I can tell, he is the only one who comes close to (but still doesn't quite reach) the standards of fitness and determination shown by Chrissie. Also note the lack of women: only 3 in the top 20, the highest being Jessica Ennis-Hill at #12, and only 17 in the entire shortlist of 100.

It baffles me that people still believe, or are so easily swayed by, what they read in the press or broadcast media. In the case of sport, it's relatively harmless, except for the systemic bias against women; but when the exercise of military force is involved it's quite a different matter, the most obvious example being the invasion of Iraq, and the results have always been catastrophic.

The wisdom of youth

“What I can't work out about this place,” she says, “is whether they're genuinely oblivious to what their policies are doing, whether they're so out of touch that they honestly don't see how much damage it's doing, or whether they just don't care.”

— Source: Mhairi Black (age 20), quoted in Cadwalladr, Carole (12 July 2015). "The SNP 56: a breath of fresh air… or a timebomb at the heart of Westminster?". The Observer. Retrieved 12 July 2015.

Essential viewing

... and non-essential viewing

Source: Jonathan Cook, Why do critics love American Sniper?, 26 January 2015.

... more non-essential viewing

"Speaking Peace on the BBC"


Cutting through the confusion about Israel/Palestine

... a letter by Richard Forer, a former member of AIPAC, 21 June 2010 (useful reading list at the end).

"If truth is the first victim of war ..."

from the preface to Arrigoni's book

Arrigoni, Vittorio (2010). Gaza: Stay Human. (trans. Daniela Filippin). Kube Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84774-019-9.; originally published 2009 in Italian as Gaza: Restiamo Umani

Broken promises

From the Stephen Cohen Lecture, “The Ukrainian Crisis: A New Cold War?” on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies Program, Fairfield University, February 5, 2015

"Israel will not sign a peace deal"

I have reformatted and copy edited the following quote for clarity - NSH001


A poem

Another poem

And another poem: Show Me An Old Rebel

Reading lists

on the joint U.S.–Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, commonly (but inaccurately) known as the Gaza War
  • from here, for easy reference before it gets archived (15:53, 24 January 2009 (UTC))
  1. Anthony H.Cordesman, ‘The War in Gaza: Tactical Gains or Strategic Defeat,’ Center for Strategic & International Studies, January 9,2009
  2. Henry Siegman, 'Israel’s Lies,' London Review of Books, 29 January 2009
  3. John J. Mearsheimer 'Another War, Another Defeat,' The American Conservative, January 26, 2009
  4. Richard Falk, ‘Winning and Losing in Gaza,’ The Nation, February 9, 2009.
  5. David Bromwich, 'Self-Deception and the Assault on Gaza', Huffington Post, January 16, 2009
  6. Gideon Levy, 'The next step,’ Haaretz 24/01/2009
  7. Avi Shlaim, 'How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe,’ The Guardian, 07/01/2009
  8. Tom Segev, ‘Cruel and meaningless wars,’ Haaretz, 23/01/2009
  9. Eric Hobsbawm, 'On Gaza' , London Review of Books, 15/09/2009
  10. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, 'How Israel gets away with murder,' The Independent, 11/01/2009
  11. Gershom Gorenberg, 'The Ignored Choices in Gaza,’ The American Prospect, January 7, 2009
  • updated and expanded version here
follow up
  1. Hass, Amira (6 January 2011). "Gaza on the edge of no return". New Statesman. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  2. "Gaza "More Dire Than Ever"". Institute for Public Accuracy. 11 April 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
and not just Gaza
  1. Cook, Jonathan (30 July 2012). "Israel Rewarded … For What?". CounterPunch. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
Reading list on the (even worse) 2014 atrocities in Gaza
Chomsky's recommended reading list


Scientists on Wikipedia

My late father was a scientist, and my education had an emphasis on science and mathematics, so my editing includes biographies of scientists.

I also edit biographies of Quakers and peace activists. Note that there is significant overlap between all three groups.

Other subjects I edit

Some of the main topic areas I edit, besides the biographies listed above, include:

  • Scottish articles, especially those relating to the area where I grew up. (Note that, although I grew up in Scotland, and have a Scottish first name, I come from an English family and consider myself English.)
  • Triathlon, especially biographies of women triathletes.
  • Aboriginal Australians (mostly technical fixes)
  • Templates and other technical stuff (mostly from my NSH002 account, see below)
  • Articles on the Basque Country, the Basque people and their language.

But I will also edit almost anything interesting that I happen to come across.

Geek stuff

Retrieving dead links from web archives


Checking for dead links

CSS classes

Bias categories discussion


Template messages

My gongs

Nice things people have said about me (barnstars, DYK credits)


Original Barnstar.png The Original Barnstar
For your fine edits to the James Miller article which significantly improved the flow, accuracy, and sourcing of the article.Tiamat 10:40, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
The quality of your contributions matters more than quantity. I'm honored to be the first to have taken notice of your attention to detail and fine work. Tiamat 12:26, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Cornflower blue Yogo sapphire.jpg

dreams of peace
Thank you, friend, for quality articles such as Gerhard Fischer (diplomat), for striving for peace and social justice, for having dreams, - you are an awesome Wikipedian!

--Gerda Arendt (talk) 10:44, 29 September 2013 (UTC)

Vitruvian Barnstar Hires.png The Technical Barnstar
For your contributions to WPMED changing the list structure and performing tidy-ups on the templates. Very useful work, which hasn't gone unnoticed! LT910001 (talk) 03:38, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Calatrava Medal of Merit.png Calatrava Medal of Merit
This Calatrava Medal of Merit is awarded to NSH001/002 for creating Template:Districts of Stuttgart and thus participating in Operation Stuttgart. Vami IV (talk) 22:51, 12 April 2016 (UTC)
Vitruvian Barnstar Hires.png The Technical Barnstar
Thank You very much for tidying-up the Template:Chief of the Naval Staff (India). Actually I wanted to create the template the same way as it now. But I couldn't and I was looking for assistance. Thanks again for your help. KCVelaga ☚╣✉╠☛ 00:22, 26 June 2016 (UTC)
Peace Barnstar Hires.png The Barnstar of Diplomacy
You are hereby awarded the Barnstar of Diplomacy for having helped to peacefully resolve conflicts on Wikipedia. WikiEditorial101 (talk) 05:50, 7 January 2018 (UTC)


Updated DYK query On 8 April, 2009, Did you know? was updated with a fact from the article David Dean Shulman, which you recently nominated. If you know of another interesting fact from a recently created article, then please suggest it on the Did you know? talk page.
Updated DYK query On 16 April, 2009, Did you know? was updated with a fact from the article Gideon Byamugisha, which you recently nominated. If you know of another interesting fact from a recently created article, then please suggest it on the Did you know? talk page.
Updated DYK query On February 26, 2010, Did you know? was updated with a fact from the article Mirinda Carfrae, which you created or substantially expanded. You are welcome to check how many hits your article got while on the front page (here's how, quick check ) and add it to DYKSTATS if it got over 5,000. If you know of another interesting fact from a recently created article, then please suggest it on the Did you know? talk page.

Other accounts

  • I also own an alternative account, NSH002, which is intended to be used for repetitive edits (for example, with AWB) to avoid cluttering up my contributions record on this account. I also use this account for more technical edits.
  • There are 5 more accounts at NSH003, NSH004, NSH005, NSH006 and NSH007. The first two of these are now-blocked vandalism-only accounts that were used by someone else in an attempt to vandalise Wikipedia while appearing to do so in my name. The last three currently act as doppelganger accounts to prevent this happening again, but it is possible I may in future use one of them to test what happens using Wikipedia's default user settings. I might create a few more accounts in this series, just to be safe.
  • NSH001 is my Single Unified Login (SUL) identity. I have user pages on the following wikis:
    • Commons
    • Meta
    • For my user pages on other language wikis, see the bar on the left.