While playing Nazi dress-up, Roger Waters decries antisemitic branding

Article published by Ynetnews.com, 28 May 2023. © Richard Kemp

It could almost have been a Nuremberg rally from the 1930s. Thousands of hero-worshipping Germans cheering fervently as a strutting figure in Nazi-like attire brandishing a mocked-up Schmeisser machine pistol took to the stage in Berlin this week.

Not content with the hateful symbology of the Third Reich, superannuated British rock star Roger Waters heaped on his characteristic anti-Jewish invective with messages outrageously comparing the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to Holocaust victim Anne Frank in order to demonize the Jewish state.

This is archetypal antisemitism, as spelt out in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s widely accepted definition: the branding of Jews as Nazis; or specifically, ‘drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’.

Waters’ deliberate implication was that Jews murdered Abu Akleh as Nazis murdered Anne Frank. The fact is that nobody knows whether Abu Akleh was the victim of IDF or Palestinian terrorist bullets. And indeed if it was the former it would certainly have been accidental, the farthest possible cry from the calculated way Anne Frank met her end at the hands of the German killing industry.

In every way, the circumstances of the two women’s deaths were utterly different and only a hate-filled rabble-rousing propagandist could dream up any comparison. Abu Akleh clearly did not deserve to die, but she went to Jenin of her own volition and in search of violence, whereas Anne Frank hardly volunteered to spend two years hidden in an attic in Amsterdam, in daily fear for her life, before making her final journey to Belsen.

Waters of course has a long and vitriol-fueled track record of Jew-baiting and Israel-bashing. Magistrates in Frankfurt who tried to ban his concert there accused him of being ‘one of the most widely known antisemites in the world’. Continue reading

Putin is terrified of Ukraine’s counteroffensive

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 28 May 2023. © Richard Kemp

Putin is in a panic over the expected Ukrainian counteroffensive, which may already be in its preliminary ‘battlefield-shaping’ stage. He doesn’t know, any more than the rest of us do, when the offensive will be launched, where it will strike or whether it will succeed. What he does know is that if it achieves significant success, his own days might be numbered, with fissures already opening inside the Kremlin and between its most important henchmen.

The Russian army’s thinly stretched troops have been preparing strong defensive positions all along the front line to repel an attack or series of attacks, and planning their own spoiling operations. But, aside from the balance of forces, critically important to Ukraine’s success or failure is morale.

Putin knows it is fragile among his own troops, many of whom don’t know why they are expected to fight a war they don’t even begin to understand. He knows he has to break the morale of Ukrainian soldiers on the battle line and civilians on the home front. That is why he has recently intensified air attacks on cities and towns. They are intended to kill civilians, destroy infrastructure, disrupt the war economy and make life a misery – both for those in the cities and their relatives at the front.

On Saturday night, Russia launched the largest wave of explosive drone strikes since the full-scale invasion began. Fifty-two of the 54 Iranian-supplied Shahed drones were knocked out of the sky. Forty were aimed at Kyiv, the most intensive barrage targeting the city so far, killing one.

The next day, Kyiv, celebrating the 1,541st anniversary of its founding, was straight back to normal. No mass panic, no serious disruption to life. Putin’s attempts to intimidate the Ukrainian people and their leaders simply don’t work. He tried it first in February last year, expecting Kyiv to fall in a matter of days simply with rocket fire and Russian forces heading towards the capital. Like London in the Blitz and later under Hitler’s rain of V1 and V2 Continue reading

The coming Russian revolution will unleash horrifying new demons

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 25 May 2023. © Richard Kemp

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s latest bombast against the Russian MOD and, by inference, the Kremlin itself, should not be seen as just another rant from a blowhard with a track record. His extraordinary threats of internal violence – ‘mobs with pitchforks’ – and even revolution are a stark indicator of just how serious things are getting behind the scenes for Putin’s regime.

Prigozhin was predictably swift to claim credit for his Wagner forces in the capture of Bakhmut, but seemed to place greater emphasis on the cost. He claimed 20,000 of his own men had been killed, which is almost certainly a gross under-estimate, and to that we must add a very large number of Russian army troops. Given that possession of Bakhmut brings Russia no obvious strategic or even tactical gain, Prigozhin’s apocalyptic talk almost echoes the sentiments of King Pyrrhus of Epirus after he defeated the Romans at the Battle of Asculum, that ‘one other such victory would utterly undo him’.

Bakhmut stands as an allegory of the entire Russian war so far – inflicting huge damage at great cost and to no advantage. If it continues in this vein, Prigozhin’s vision of revolution is not impossible. He spoke of 1917, when soldiers and their families stood up against the Russian government. But you don’t need to go back that far to draw even closer parallels to what is happening today. The war in Afghanistan played a major role in the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Originally conceived as a short-term intervention, like Ukraine, the campaign in fact went on for 10 years and cost more than 15,000 Soviet lives. Defeat at the hands of US-armed mujahideen fighters humiliated and discredited the Soviet army, vitiating the glue that was so essential in holding the country together. Loss of perception of military invincibility emboldened dissidents including disaffected war veterans and their families, especially in the non-Russian republics which provided a disproportionate quantity of the fighting troops – and the casualties. Continue reading

Report from Ukraine: Why They Fight

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 25 May 2023. © Richard Kemp

This week, near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, I spent time with commanders and soldiers who have been fighting the Russian invaders in the shattered city, sometimes for months on end. This has been one of the longest battles anywhere in the world since 1945 and by far the most brutal in this war, with Russians and Ukrainians often fighting at close quarters, artillery hammering the city into Stalingrad-like rubble and a level of slaughter unequalled anywhere else in Putin’s vicious war.

Talking to these battle-worn men, their gratitude for the arms, ammunition and equipment supplied by the West was palpable and sometimes emotional. They credited us with keeping them alive and keeping them fighting. I asked what they now needed most from our countries. Of course more guns, more ammo, more tanks, more rockets plus combat planes always featured. But another consistent answer was striking even if not surprising: please do not try to force our country to make peace with the invaders.

This from men who have seen their brothers-in-arms cut down by bullets, bomb blasts and scything shell splinters; have battled to prevent the life ebb from their comrades’ mangled bodies; have endured the mind-numbing percussion of unending artillery bombardments and have risked their very lives with every hour spent in the ruined city. At one point the deadly reality of life in Bakhmut was driven home by fleets of laden ambulances hurtling past us, heading away from the battle zone.

With their blunt rejection of peace negotiations, were these fighting men disproving the words of US General Douglas MacArthur in his famous Duty, Honor, Country speech at West Point: ‘The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war’?

I did not ask them that question because I immediately understood what lay behind their grim determination to keep fighting despite the horror of it all. Continue reading

From Gaza to Kyiv: Iran’s weapon supply and war crimes

Article published by Ynetnews.com, 23 May 2023. © Richard Kemp

A few days ago I was in Kyiv the night it was hit by the most intensive missile attack since the war began over a year ago. The city of three million people, the seventh most populous in Europe, was targeted by Russian hypersonic, ballistic, and cruise missiles and also by explosive drones.

Those drones were supplied to Russian forces by the Iranian regime, which also supplied and funded the manufacture of 1,468 missiles fired at Israel from Gaza the previous week. Only Israel’s and Ukraine’s sophisticated air defense systems prevented mass civilian casualties in both bombardments.

A woman in Kyiv explained to me the bitter irony of her friend’s family who had fled Iranian drones in the city for the safety of Israel, where they then found themselves under attack from Iranian missiles.

Adding insult to injury, some of Putin’s oligarchs that are deeply implicated in his war of aggression, and under international sanctions, are also now living in Israel, including Alexei Miller, Igor Sechin, Roman Abramovich, Boris Rotenberg, Vladimir Potanin, Viatcheslav Kantor and Igor Shuvalov.

In both Israel and Ukraine, many civilians have been killed or suffered life-changing injuries, severe psychological trauma, property destruction, deprivation of essential services, and economic harm — directly as a result of Iranian-sponsored weapons of war.

The regime has supplied large numbers of Fajr-3, Fajr-5, M302, and other missiles to terrorists in Gaza to attack Israeli civilians as well as technology and funds to produce rockets locally. They have openly admitted doing so.

Iran has also supplied drones and drone technology to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah; in July 2022 the IDF shot down three Continue reading

Belgorod attack: Ukraine has turned Putin’s little green men against him

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 23 May 2023. © Richard Kemp

Yesterday’s cross-border raid from Ukraine into Russia’s Belgorod province by anti-Kremlin partisans known as the Russian Freedom Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps is the largest offensive action inside Russia’s borders since Putin’s invasion began. The group seems to have struck the frontier post at Kozinka, apparently killing a border guard, before crossing into Russian territory around Grayvoron with armoured vehicles, mortars and artillery support.

This action is unlikely to develop into a significant assault on Russian territory because the Ukrainian army itself remains constrained to operations within its own borders by agreements with military donor nations.

Nevertheless it is a major humiliation for Vladimir Putin. Who would have thought last February, as he launched his special military operation confident that Ukraine would be subdued with a matter of days, that his forces would spend much of the next year on the back foot and he would now be facing an incursion onto his own territory?

Not only that, but ironically Putin’s own much-vaunted ‘hybrid war’ tactics have been turned against him in an echo of the proxies and deniable ‘little green men’ he sent to invade Ukraine back in 2014.

This has put Putin and his propagandists into a flat spin, with embarrassed pro-Kremlin bloggers branding the raid a mere distraction by Ukraine from Russia’s ‘conquest’ of Bakhmut. Yes, Putin can make use of the Belgorod incursion, claiming that Russia is somehow the victim and has been attacked by a hostile West – no doubt followed by his usual dark threats against Nato. But in taking that line, as he did with the drone attack on the Kremlin, he only emphasises his country’s vulnerability with its vast porous border that cannot realistically be defended. Russia’s weakness is underlined by the continuation of the raid into a second day.

Ukraine’s denial of any knowledge of the raid is again the mirror image of Putin’s own tactics and should be taken with a pinch of salt. In reality this operation is part of Kyiv’s effort to ‘shape the battlefield’, in military parlance. This includes reconnaissance, feinting manoeuvres and deception to identify the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses, sow confusion, keep him guessing about where the counter-offensive hammer will fall and force him to react in a way that will both reveal his dispositions and stretch his forces.

This raid has given Putin a major dilemma. Can he afford to dismiss it and risk repeated humiliating attacks, or must he redeploy forces to try and tighten border defences? Continued attacks may not be Continue reading

Today is US Armed Forces Day. Without them, the world would be a much worse place

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 20 May 2023. © Richard Kemp

Today is Armed Forces Day in the United States, an opportunity for Americans to show appreciation for their fighting men and women. Any British reader who wonders what that’s got to do with us need only pay a visit to the US military cemetery at Madingley. There they will see row upon row of identical white crosses stretching over 30 acres of Cambridgeshire countryside, each marking the final resting place of an American soldier, sailor or airman killed fighting alongside their British comrades in the Second World War.

The British-American special relationship might occasionally fray at the edges, but never when it comes to the armed forces. We have fought side by side on battlefields around the world, starting with the Second Opium War in 1859 when, against his orders, a US Navy commodore gave covering fire to hard pressed British troops with the words: ‘blood is thicker than water’.

During the Second World War the bond between British and American commanders was so strong that they organized and deployed their forces as if they were the resources of a single nation. As Churchill said at the time: ‘This is a wonderful system. There never has been anything like it between two allies.’

In 1982, secret guarantees of American naval support as well as vital military intelligence were essential in enabling British forces to launch their invasion and successfully recapture the Falkland Islands.

When I and my comrades in the British 7th Armoured Brigade were rushed to Saudi Arabia in 1991 to help liberate Kuwait, we were initially dependent on life support from the US Marine Corps, who with characteristic generosity of spirit prioritised our troops even above their own. Continue reading

The failure of Russia’s Wunderwaffe is game over for Putin

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 18 May 2023. © Richard Kemp

I was in Kyiv on Monday night when Ukraine’s capital was hit by its biggest missile attack since the war began.

It was more than just another attempt to terrorise the city. Following hard on the heels of President Zelensky’s visit to Europe with renewed guarantees of military aid, it amounted to a demonstration of force by an increasingly beleaguered Russian dictator.

In half an hour the city was attacked from the north, south and east. In came ballistic missiles, Iranian Shahed loitering drones, Kalibr ‘hypersonic’ cruise missiles launched from warships in the Black Sea, and Kinzhal hypersonic missiles fired from MiG-31K fighter planes.

The result of this tremendous firepower was nothing short of abject humiliation for Putin.

I watched as Ukraine’s combined air defence forces, including American Patriots and German Gepards, seemingly knocked every Russian missile out of the sky. Just three people were injured by falling rocket debris, there was minimal physical damage and – by daylight – the city had returned to normal as though nothing had happened.

This event symbolises both Ukrainian resilience and Russian weakness. Especially the latter.

After Putin was taken aback by the unexpected failure of his initial invasion last February, he came up with a hasty Plan B. That was to invest in Wunderwaffe (‘wonder weapons’), in the same way as Hitler did in the second half of the Second World War, while building up his forces for a renewed offensive this spring.

That much-heralded assault has not materialised, with the Russian army so far barely able to push forward a few miles in one or two places – and at the cost of massive casualties. I spoke today to a Continue reading

Israel under Fire and The West’s Pusillanimous Response

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 14 May 2023. © Richard Kemp

When Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Western governments, international organizations, media and human rights groups quite rightly rallied round without hesitation, recognising the need to give unreserved moral support to a nation defending itself from violent attack.

We see a very different picture today as Israel is assaulted by aggressors in Gaza, to all intents and purposes a foreign country.

There is some commonality between the two conflicts, although they are on an altogether different scale. Russia and Gaza’s Islamic Jihad both believe the countries they are attacking are illegitimate, have no right to exist and need to be destroyed in their current forms by violence. Neither Ukraine nor Israel has any territorial ambitions or aggressive intent against their attackers — both Ukraine and Israel are fighting purely defensive wars to protect their civilian populations.

There is another common factor. Islamic Jihad in Gaza is an Iranian proxy terrorist group, funded and directed from Tehran. Iran’s hand is behind this conflict and the ayatollahs have pressured Hamas terrorist leaders to join Islamic Jihad’s assault on Israel while doing all they can to prevent a ceasefire brokered by Egypt. Iran’s role in Ukraine is not as significant, but we should not forget that it has supplied Russia with explosive drones to fire at Ukrainian civilians.

I do not recall any Western government or international body suggesting moral equivalence between the aggressor and the defender in the Ukraine war, but that is exactly what we have seen repeatedly in this and previous conflicts between Israel and Gaza, with the UN Secretary General calling on ‘both sides’ to exercise restraint.

Unlike the immediate condemnation of Russian violence, we have seen only silence in the US and Europe since Islamic Jihad’s rockets began to fall on Israel. The best we have heard from the White House is that ‘Israel has the right to protect itself’, a statement of the blindingly obvious. None of this is good enough when what is needed is the strongest support for Israel and the most blunt condemnation of Islamic Jihad, along the lines we see over the Ukraine war.

The usual media suspects, such as the BBC and CNN, both cheerleaders for Ukraine’s defensive operations, have predictably been doing their best to slant their coverage against Israel. BBC commentary went as far as to imply that the killing of Gaza civilians is a deliberate policy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government while a CNN interviewer claimed that Israel deliberately targeted civilians. In Israel Haaretz published an article branding the IDF’s operation as ‘patently illegal’ and accused its soldiers of war crimes. Continue reading

‘A grave slur against IDF’: UN plays right into Islamic Jihad’s hands

Article published by Ynetnews.com, 14 May 2023. © Richard Kemp

Operation Shield and Arrow has been carried out to date with breathtaking effectiveness. The shield of Iron Dome and David’s Sling have prevented major loss of life among the civilian population, although so far one man has been tragically killed and some have been injured, despite a barrage of 547 deadly rockets fired at Israel at the time of writing.

The arrows of target intelligence, air strikes and missile attacks have decimated the Gaza terrorist leadership and destroyed many of their weapons. No other military is capable of defending its people with the ferocity and precision the IDF has been showing.

Unfortunately, some of Israel’s arrows have also killed uninvolved civilians. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said yesterday that the civilian deaths in Gaza are ‘unacceptable’ and called on Israel to ‘abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law’.

This amounts to a grave slur against the IDF which is known by all Western military commanders to be more effective than any other force in the world in preventing the deaths of civilians in enemy territory. Instead, Guterres should have held the Gaza terrorists directly responsible for the killing of their civilians, for it is they who have a deliberate policy of using human shields — a war crime. Not least, Islamic Jihad commanders keep their wives and children close to them as proper military commanders would wear their body armor and helmet.

Guterres’s comments — and their echoes in the media and among human rights groups — also play directly into the hands of terrorists whose prime operational objective, short of its destruction, is international vilification of Israel. The UN Human Rights Council’s condemnation of the IDF that will follow this conflict as night follows day, flowing from thinking such as the Secretary General’s, will help ensure that Islamic Jihad and terrorists everywhere continue to use human shields and will cost many more lives. Continue reading

Security – Defence – Intelligence – Counter Terrorism