Apr 13 2017

KEN LIVINGSTONE FACES LABOUR’S STAR CHAMBER

We have been chronicling the combined political offensive of the Labour Right and Zionist groups and individuals to deny Palestinian self-determination and suppress any opposition to the Israeli state and its brutal repression. We are posting Tony Greenstein (himself a victim of Labour’s witch hunt) comments on the latest Livingstone verdict. This is followed by a statement from the Left Unity Party’s National Council of 9.4.17.

 

                     

                    1. LABOUR’S STAR CHAMBER – WHY DO THE WITCH-HUNTERS NOT DEAL WITH THE CONTENT?

Defend Livingstone

It says a lot about Jeremy Corbyn that he not only refused to condemn the witch-hunt of Ken Livingstone or the false anti-Semitism campaign in the Labour Party. After Livingstone was found guilty by Labour’s national constitutional committee of bringing the party into disrepute and suspended from standing as a party candidate for another year, Corbyn actually said that Livingstone’s repeated “offensive remarks” about Hitler having supported Zionism, and his refusal to “acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused”, left him open to “further action”.
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Nov 29 2016

ANTI-SEMITISM HAS NEVER BEEN A PROBLEM FOR ZIONISM

Tony Greenstein highlights the Zionist response in Israel, USA and the UK to the election of Donald Trump and his appointment of Steve Bannon, former head of the AltRight Breibart News, which has published anti-Semitic articles. 

Steve Bannon and Donald Trump

Steve Bannon and Donald Trump

 

A WELCOME FOR TRUMP AND BANNON

Jonathan Arkush: congratulated Trump on his win

It must have come as a shock to many young members of the Jewish Labour Movement when the president of the Board of Deputies, Jonathan Arkush, “publicly congratulated Donald Trump on his election win” (1). After all, these young things have grown up to believe that anti-Semitism is a leftwing phenomenon that exists in organisations like Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, and 21 of them were among the 175 British Jewish signatories to a letter expressing their ‘deep concern’ at Arkush’s statement (2).
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Jul 27 2016

2 RESPONSES TO CHAKRABHATI REPORT

 

Julia Bard and Tony Greenstein have written their own responses  to the official Chakrabhati Report into Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Julia Bard is a freelance journalist, a member of the NC of the Jewish Socialists’ Group and the Editorial Committee of Jewish Socialist magazine. Tony Greenstein is a log standing Jewish anti-Zionist and currently suspended member of the Labour Party. Julia Bard’s article was first posted at http://www.chartist.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Chartist-281-spread.pdf and Tony Greenstein’s at http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1114/a-marred-report.

Shami Chakrabati and Jeremy Corbyn at the launch of the report

Shami Chakrabati and Jeremy Corbyn at the launch of the report

 

1. CYNICISM BEHIND ANTI-SEMITISM ROW

Julia Bard dissects the issues in the recent anti-semitism furore in the Labour Party and finds the issue is being instrumentalised for other political purposes.
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May 05 2016

WHAT’S BEHIND THE RIGHT’S ACCUSATIONS OF ‘ANTI-SEMITISM’

 

The British ruling class has been upset by a number of events beyond its control. The huge surge in those demanding Scottish independence and those who voted for Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party have opened up politics beyond of the safe Conservative/Lib-Dem/New Labour pro-imperial, pro-Israel and pro-neoliberal consensus. This is the context in which  the ‘antisemitism’ smears directed against a number of people either on the Left or from a Muslim background are being pushed by the Conservatives, Labour Right and various Zionist organisations. These are being used in an attempt to close down political opposition to austerity, privatisation, war in the Middle East and the continued repression of Palestinians. This is an issue of much wider concern than Labour Party members. We are posting four articles, one a letter to The National, written by Sarah Glynn of RISE, two from Tony Greenstein. and one from Moshe Machover,  both socialists, anti-Zionists and antiracists. Tony has a blog dedicated to these ideas (http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk) (also see http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/). Moshe has recently spoken at the London Communist Forum and the Republican Socialist Alliance meeting in London.

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1. A LETTER FROM SARAH GLYNN TO THE NATIONAL

CONTRARY to the impression given in much of the media, many British Jews are extremely concerned at the on-going political manipulation of charges of anti-Semitism. This is a blatant and cynical attempt to tarnish Jeremy Corbyn and bring Labour back into the neo-liberal fold, and is part of an alarming growth in political exploitation of the “race card” more generally.
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Apr 14 2014

SCOTLAND: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM VENEZUELA

 Ewan Robertson, an RCN member and a Scots born journalist living in Venezuela, is touring Scotland.  He will be addressing the following meetings:-

  • Monday April 14, STUC: Joint Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign & others lunchtime Latin America fringe meeting for delegates with speakers including Ewan Robertson, 12.30-1.45pm, Caird Hall, Dundee.
  • Tuesday April 15, Aberdeen: Public Meeting with Ewan Robertson, 6.00pm, Unite Offices, 44 King Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5TJ
  • Thursday April 17, Glasgow: Ewan Roberston to speak at 7pm showing of the film Revolutionary Doctors, organised by the Scottish Cuba Solidarity Campaign  & supported by SVSC at the STUC, 333 Woodlands Road Glasgow G3 6NG.
  • Thursday April 24, Edinburgh: Open eyewitness meeting with Ewan Roberston, 7.30pm, Augustine Church, 42 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH1 1EL.

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In the article below Ewan contrasts the experience of the Bolivarian revolution with the aspirations of the people of Scotland in relation to the question of Self Determination.

 

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Jan 26 2014

SCOTTISH PALESTINE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN AGM – Dundee, 11.1.14

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The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign in action outside Sainsbury’s

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) held its annual general meeting earlier this month in Dundee.

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Mar 15 2012

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – Report from Israel and Statement from Afghanistan

WOMEN FOR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE IN ISRAEL REPORT

Some 400 Israeli, Palestinian and international women gathered in the West Bank village of Beit Omar, under the slogan of “Women for Civil Disobedience as part of the Non-violent Popular Resistance to the Israeli Occupation”. It was the 2nd Conference marking the International Women’s Day.

 The conference was organized by the “Lo Metsaytot” (“Women who will not obey”) Group, initiated by author and translator Ilana Hamemerman and the women committee of the Center for Freedom and Justice: center4freedom.org/ and with the cooperation and coordination with the Beit Omar Popular Resistance Committee and the Palestinian Solidarity Project http://palestinesolidarityproject.org/

Ebtesam Zidan, Chairwoman of the Palestinian Union of Women’s Struggle Committee, opened the session with a strongly-worded condemnation to the Israeli occupation brutal murder of 16 Palestinian innocent citizens in Gaza Strip.  Ebtisam saluted the legendary steadfastness of Hana Shalabi who has been on hunger strike for the last 24 days in a protest against the Israeli occupation apartheid administrative detention laws. She also highlighted the Palestinian women’s resistance, side to side with Palestinian men, to the Israeli occupation, and spoke about the women’s achievements in the Palestinian society and system.

Khawla Abu Marir  is the only Palestinian woman coordinating a popular resistance committee  – the popular committee against the Israeli illegal settlement and apartheid wall of South Hebron Hills (Yatta). Khawla called for the escalation and expansion of peaceful popular resistance to include all the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. She valued the participation and solidarity of the International and Israeli peace activists who join the Palestinian protests throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip and called for more solidarity activities with the Palestinians’ just cause not only in Palestine but all over the world. She spoke briefly about the Israeli colonial attacks and activities in South Hebron Hills, and the enormous colonial expansion inside the Palestinians’ land in that area. There have been other Israeli attacks such as demolitions, and lately the assassination of the 17 years old citizen Zakariya Abu Eram, who was killed two days ago in cold blood by the Israeli occupation forces. She added, To Whom It May Concern, Area “C” should be marginalized no more, all official and civil society organizations should pay more attention to women and to have more development plans and projects for this area to support people’s steadfastness.

While the fifteen years old Rand Waleed Abdul Razzak from Silwan in East Jerusalem emphasized the children’s role in the Palestinian struggle against house seizure, demolitions, children’s arrests and ethnic cleansing carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities and settlers in East Jerusalem. She pointed out the necessity of providing protection for children according to the international Children’s Rights treaties.

The Israeli speakers presented their perspectives of the Israeli occupation oppression system. Professor Nurit Peled-Elhanani presented  the findings of the International (Russell) Tribunal of 2011 in Cape Town according to which Israel has “established an institutionalized regime of domination, amounting to apartheid as defined under international law. Israel is discriminating against and eliminating an entire nation on racial grounds in a systematic and institutionalized way, and therefore all collaboration with Israel should cease”.

Peled Elhanani, whose is an expert in Education, further added that “Israeli children have been learning for generations that their neighbors – whether they are Palestinian citizens of Israel or subjects of the State of Israel stripped of human rights – are nothing but a terrifying demographic problem and a security threat. Those very children have meanwhile grown up, their senses of truth, justice and human brotherhood have been dulled by racist education and they have been brought up to become politicians and generals who now declare openly and with the arrogance of all-powerful masters what was once concealed by hypocrisy: that the other face of the Judaization project is the elimination of the Palestinian people, fully and unreservedly supported by the United States and rich countries in Europe”.

Ilana Hamerman told the participants:”in the midst of “an ugly reality we have created a spot of clear and exquisite reality, a unique spot of women’s political opposition, humane and moral, against an evil Israeli military rule over millions of Palestinians. This opposition voice is heard in Israel, in Palestine and throughout the world.  This is a feminine voice of courage, friendship and joy of life. This voice carries a message that has no parallel in this torn, bleeding and cruel land”.

 She added: “We Israeli and Palestinian women refuse to be enemies. Our actions symbolize civil disobedience to evil, illegitimate and dangerous laws. We are enhancing our feminine power, the power to be free, to form friendships. We say NO to death and YES to life together. We shall pursue this path; we shall break through checkpoints and barriers within us and without. We are not afraid and we shall not give in.”

Louisa Morgenatti, former member of the European Parliament from Italy, who attended the conference, concluded the meeting by thanking the Palestinian and Israeli women “whose activity  has  rekindled our hope”.

Singer Rona Kenan performed pro-bono as an expression of her full identification with the message of the Conference and was received with enthusiast applause. The local Beit Omar girls’ Debbka Dance group swept all present into a whirlwind of dancing.

The conference was provided with a Hebrew-Arabic-English simultaneous translation service that facilitated the free flow of communication between the women. Regrettably, Knesset member Hanin Zuabi who was scheduled as one of the speakers had to cancel at the last moment owing to a demonstration planned by Israeli right-wingers in front of her Nazareth home.

The conference accomplished its goals on developing and expanding popular resistance efforts, the empowerment of women by officials and NGOs, and increasing female participation in political decision making within Palestinian society.  Additionally, conference participants spent time discussing allocating more time and resources to organizing micro economic self-sufficiency projects in communities in order to achieve an independent source of income for women.  Lastly, the conference was effective in increasing further cooperation and coordination between Palestinian and Israeli women activists in their efforts to bring about freedom and justice for all people who live in the area.

The conference organizers extend their appreciation to all those who put their time and resources into ensuing that the event was a success.  The following incomplete list are individuals who need to be thanked for efforts and support – Ebtisam Zidan, Khawla Abu Mrir, Nurit Alhanan, Le’a Zsemel, Rand Abdul Raziq, Nitza Aminof, Dr. Carmel Shalev, and all of the moderators including Iman Abu Mariya, Ofra.

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AFGHAN WOMEN’S FREEDOM FROM THE CLUTCH OF FUNDAMENTALISM, OCCUPATION AND PATRIARCHY IS ONLY POSSIBLE WITH THEIR OWN STRUGGLE

Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan’s statement on the International Women’s Day

Afghanistan’s women spent another year under the burden of occupiers, dominance of a Jehadi-Mafia government and terror of the Taliban, the result of which was an increase in poverty, homelessness, immigration, loss of dear ones, domestic violence, rape, self-immolation, a high maternal and infant mortality rate and thousand other miseries.

According to figures from the UN, almost 5000 cases of violence against women were recorded last year, though the actual figure is several times higher than this. The last ten years of US and NATO occupied Afghanistan has been a burning hell for women and young girls who have been raped or gang-raped. According to a report of the European Union there are tens of women in jails who are rape victims but are imprisoned for being a “criminal”; rapists are high-ranked government officials or people related to them and Afghanistan’s corrupt judiciary made up of a number of stone-aged clerics can’t deal with or prosecute them. According to the State of the World’s Mothers 2011 report fifty mothers die every day in Afghanistan while giving birth, something that doesn’t hold the slightest importance in the eyes of the treacherous Afghan government officials, minister and ministry of women’s affairs, decoration pieces in the parliament, NGOs and finally the US and west, that occupied Afghanistan under the pretext of women’s rights.

US and its allies occupied Afghanistan ten years back under the excuse of uprooting terrorism, Al-Qaeda and Taliban. According to data collected by Professor Marc Herold, US took its revenge on Afghan civilians by bombarding and killing about the same number of civilians killed in the September 11th attacks in New York in just the first few months of Afghanistan’s occupation. Most of our people wanted the obliteration of the barbarous and criminal Talib regime but not at the cost of losing their independence. RAWA, just a few days after the start of the US attacks, said in a statement, “The actual issue our people face is the eradication of the plague of Taliban and Al Qaeda -though they (our people) didn’t have any part in its cultivation and germination- and the establishment of a government based on democratic values… Our compatriots, therefore, must rise up for a thorough demolition of Taliban and their Osamas…” RAWA’s demand along with the people of Afghanistan’s was that the Taliban dominance be abloshed by the uprisings and struggles of the people of Afghanistan and not by invasion of foreign aggressors.

The US government and NATO who were looking to invade and stay in Afghanistan for their own military, economic and strategic aims, misused the troubles and miseries of our women and have been busy playing a cat and mouse game with the Taliban for the past ten years. After shedding the blood of thousands of innocent women and children, young and old, they have now started another treacherous game of “peace and negotiations” with the Taliban. First they divided the sanguinary Taliban into “moderate“ and “extremist” and have now gone so far that Joe Biden, the vice president of US, announced that “Taliban are not our enemies”! This is true, the Taliban were a project of the US that was run by ISI, they can never be their enemies, they are the deadly enemies of our people, freedom, women, democracy and justice.

The first victims of a deal with the bloodthirsty Taliban will be the women of our country. By endorsing medieval laws for women, Karzai’s mafia-puppet regime wants to pave the way for association with the Taliban, these lackeys of Pakistan. The most recent example of these inhumane laws is the statement of a stooge government body called the Ulema Council of Afghanistan, which is a copy of the laws of the Taliban era of ignorance and terror. Karzai also shamelessly backed the statement.

The US aggressors proved RAWA’s perpetual claim that this country is always at war with the Afghan people and at peace with criminals. The US’s dark and blood-stained history shows that they have always collaborated with the most treacherous regimes, elements and bodies and conspired for the annihilation of governments and movements of the people. The US doesn’t care about the kind of government that takes power in Afghanistan, what only matters is that the regime should be made up of traitors who they reign, which doesn’t oppose their permanent military bases, allows them to use this land for threatening and controlling Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and India; allows Afghanistan to become a place where the US and other imperialists use it to suppress every kind of revolutionary movements of the people in the region, and in general a government that protects the interests of the US and its allies. Now it’s of least importance to the US and NATO if that government is headed by a Talib or a Northern Alliance criminal, or some other criminal which oppresses the Afghan people.

Like every puppet ruler, Karzai uses all his power and abilities to serve the aims and policies of his foreign masters, especially the US, so he looks more useful to them and his corrupt regime can stay in power longer. The Traditional Jirga, which was a gathering of spies and traitors who do not have a speck of honour or patriotism, for agreeing to and legalizing the long-term presence of the US and its bases, was another effort in the same matter.

The limitless and boundless costs of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the deep economic crisis in the capitalist societies and the huge anti-war, anti-capitalist system movements of the people in the western countries, has forced the US and other imperialists to deceive their people and reduce their military forces in some places and attack other nations instead and allow their plunder. The most recent example we saw was Libya, where the country was destructed and a fundamentalist regime of the kind of the savage Taliban was implemented upon its poor people.

Although the US and NATO talk about the exit of their forces in 2014, this is just a reduction and not a complete withdrawal. The US, now busy signing the agreement of building their permanent bases with their Afghan stooges, will in no way leave Afghanistan due to its important strategic position in Asia, unless they are driven away humiliatingly by our nation like the English and Russians.

After ten years of killing and destruction, the US and NATO leave a government to our people which is occupied by Northern Alliance, Taliban and Gulbuddini criminals and spies of foreign countries at every level; a country that is second in corruption in the world; a country that is the biggest producer of drugs in the world with two million addicts despite the influx of millions of dollars; a country that has half a million internally displaced persons and largest number of refugees in the world; a country whose 7 million out of 27 million people suffer from hunger; a country whose most important posts are occupied by the most infamous and traitorous people like Fahim, Khalili, Atta, Farooq Wardak, Rahim Wardak, Ismail Khan, Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi, Spanta, Karim Khuram, Hadi Arghandiwal, Dostum and countless other murderers and plunderers.

Despite all the treacheries of the US and west, a handful of stooge intellectuals and so-called analysts without a conscience, tirelessly propagate for the permanent presence of the US through the government media every day, as if the fortune and prosperity of our country is tied to this military agreement, as if peace, stability and comfort of our people and women is only attainable if the US permanent bases exist. These intellectuals who have sold their souls and are blinded by the dollars the US pays them, cannot or do not want to see the extensive damage and crimes the US and its Afghan accomplices have committed. Maybe they will come to at a time when their own loved ones are killed by the ruthless NATO and US soldiers and then urinated upon or their fingers are cut and kept as trophies. They try to act stupid and ignore this important historical lesson that no nation can prosper by linking itself to an alien nation, and that like the US which has a history marked by the blood of countless, unless its people unite and make sacrifices for gaining grand values like democracy and their rights.

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) on the International Women’s Day announces to all the women in Afghanistan that our freedom from the grasp of foreign occupiers, Northern Alliance mafia, vicious Taliban and other anti-women elements, is only achievable by our unity and struggle. It is impossible that domestic violence, rape, beating and self-immolation among women be ended by seminars or some discussions of the NGOs. It is only attainable by the organization of women of all ethnic backgrounds and tribes into an anti-fundamentalist movement against the occupation.

 

http://www.rawa.org/index.php

 March 2012

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Aug 24 2004

Blunderwall

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 08RCN @ 2:18 pm

This wall between us slowly grows
slinking along the dusty earth
like some snake in the desert sands

Once in Jericho it fell down
by those who now do the building
the heirs of the trumpet blowers

Once Belshazzar saw the writing
on the wall, Daniel read the words
Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.

The days of your kingdom will end
for your acts have been found wanting
and your kingdom is divided

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Mar 02 2004

Occupation is not liberation

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 07RCN @ 2:46 pm

Reflecting on recent events at home and abroad, Nick Clarke examines whether the world today is a freer, safer place.

Freedom to profit

In the aftermath of the atrocities of September 11 2001, Bush and his ruling junta declared the start of the War on Terror. The subtitle for this crusade was to make the world a safer place, particularly for the freedom loving peoples of the world i.e. for global capital and its client states. The subsequent attack on the Taliban and the destruction of Afghanistan was about revenge. Although, it was less for the 3000 deaths at the World Trade Centre and more for the symbolism these attacks meant for the US military industrial complex. However, it was also about letting the world know that every corner of the planet must be open to US imperialism and the capital it serves. The freedom they are fighting for is the freedom to make profit. This doctrine provoked the attack on Iraq and a hundred other interventions – military and ‘diplomatic’ – around the world. Continued US state attempts to overthrow the elected left populist Chavez in oil-rich Venezuela shows that the excuse of ‘defence against terrorism’ is a sham. Similarly, the former death squad leaders of the notorious ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, who were prominent in the recent overthrow of Haiti’s populist President Aristide, also appear to have had clandestine US state backing for their efforts.

Meanwhile the ‘road map to peace’ in Palestine has hit a ‘brick’ wall – the so-called Israeli Peace Wall. ‘Apartheid Israel’ with its West Bank and Gaza Strip ‘bantustans’ now paves the way for something even more sinister – Palestinian ghettos, like Abu Dis, communities completely surrounded by Israeli policed walls, controlling all entrance and exit. Sharon’s government contains ministers who openly advocate a ‘final solution’, for the ‘Palestinian problem’ – mass ethnic cleansing. Israel is a state with an openly racist constitution; which illegally occupies Palestinian territory in defiance of UN resolutions; and is in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Far from being opposed by Bush and Blair, Israel receives massive amount of aid, as a loyal ally of imperialism.

Today, 2½ years since 9/11, one year since the official start of Gulf War Two and in the shadow of the devastating Madrid train bombs, is the world a safer place? Even to the casual follower of current affairs and international politics that aim has been perversely thrown into reverse. This has been demonstrated by events internationally and in Britain. The recent attacks in Madrid, which killed over 200 and injured 1,000, have shown that Islamic supremacist forces have increased their capacity to strike.

The attack on the British embassy in Istanbul on November 20th, designed to coincide with Bush’s state visit to the UK, was a warning of what was to come. The most likely culprits for this and other attacks in Turkey are forces formed from the Turkish state backed death squads. These were created to suppress the Kurds. Just as many current Al Qaeda operatives, received their initial training and finance from US and UK security forces in the 1980’s; so these shadowy Turkish Islamic supremacists, were armed by the Turkish military, which has received massive US and UK political and financial backing.

The attack on Iraq and the continued occupation of that country by thousands of US and British troops have definitely made the world a more precarious place on two levels. Firstly, as a direct result of US and British foreign policy over the last 3 years, international terrorism has multiplied. Those who live outside the metropolitan countries have had their lives made hard, brutish and short over decades of European colonialism and then imperialism. Since 2001 those conditions have been exacerbated. Secondly, the limited but hard-won democratic rights and freedoms that those in the metropolitan countries, such as the US, Britain and France, have come to expect are being snatched back. Safety fears and scares are being whipped up to justify these draconian measures.

Tool of imperialism

As each day passes, new revelations appear that support the claims made by anti-war protesters that the only way we could have stopped the attack on Iraq was by direct action. The UN role as a tool of imperialism has been reinforced; useful cover if it obeys instructions but discarded and discredited when it starts to produce the ‘wrong’ answers. Recent revelations of the bugging of Kofi Annan’s office illustrate the contempt they have for this body. The UN weapons inspectors, lead by Hans Blix, sent into Iraq by the Security Council came back with the clear message that there were no WMD with a launch time of 45 minutes or even 45 days. Recently Blix has stated that no WMD have been found in Iraq since 1994! The only person across the planet left believing that there are WMD’s in Iraq appears to be Blair.

Not only are experts with a certain independence, such as Hans Blix and Scott Ritter, repeating their claims from over a year ago, but they have now been joined by some of George Bush’s own appointees. Greg Thirlmann, former director of Strategic Proliferation at the US State Department claimed that the Bush administration had seriously misled the American people over Iraq and WMD through twisted, distorted, simplified intelligence; Paul O’Neill, Bush’s former US Treasury Secretary, saw no evidence Saddam possessed chemical or biological weapons and claims Bush was planning the invasion of Iraq from the moment he became president; David Kay, head of Iraq Survey Group, having spent months looking has also stated that Iraq has not had WMD for years.

Despite their recent cries to the contrary, Blair, Straw, Hoon et al based their arguments for war, both in the House of Commons and through the media, on the threat of these mythical WMDs. Their evidence – the two disreputable dossiers – produced with thin or obsolete evidence and fleshed out with much spin, were exposed during the proceedings of the Hutton Enquiry. Hutton’s findings cannot go unmentioned: a pillar of the British judiciary acting as crutch to a wounded Blair government. His conclusions almost produced gasps of disbelief from government ministers. They couldn’t believe their luck that he had blamed the BBC and Andrew Gilligan for everything as a result of his unscripted, slip of the tongue in an early morning interview with Radio 4’s Today programme.

The pressure continues to build

The substance of Gilligan’s report was true. After Hutton’s exoneration of Blair, the pressure has continued to build. Poll after poll showed Hutton’s findings to be totally discredited in the eyes of the British public. Katherine Gun, a GCHQ whistle-blower, has hurriedly had her court case dropped, when her legal team asked to see the government’s legal justification for war. The Official Secrets Act was again defied when Claire Short went public over the bugging of the UN. To compound Blair’s discomfort, lawyer Michael Mansfield has lodged a case with the International Criminal Court accusing Blair of war crimes.

Instead of putting the Iraq war behind him, Blair has had to announce another enquiry, this time headed by another champion of truth and justice, Lord Butler. His restricted remit is to look at the role of the security and civil services in the lead up to the war, in other words the systems and processes. This is such a sham that even the Tories have withdrawn from it. Butler will go nowhere near examining any of the political questions such as the Attorney General’s legal justification for war. Butler, like Hutton, is another safe, dependable and loyal member of the British establishment who does not like to see the truth get in the way of expedient government and ruling class interests. So while Blair took the decision to go war against the advice of so many including the millions in the anti war movement, he will continue to pass the buck of responsibility hoping it won’t land on his desk. He is already trying to change the casus belli by taking the credit for the downfall of the tyrannical Saddam, but regime change had never been the Blair government’s public justification prior to the attack. Furthermore, as Milan Rai in his book, Regime Unchanged: Why the War on Iraq Changed Nothing, has made clear, it is only the thinnest layer at the top of Saddam’s regime – ‘the 52 cards’ – who have been removed. Many senior Baathist officials, with an atrocious record of human rights abuses, have been quietly rehabilitated by the occupation regime. Their ‘skills’ are still needed!

Chaos & devastation

While all this goes on in Britain, Iraq and ordinary Iraqis face devastation. The chaos and confusion created by the US/UK attack and occupation has allowed the Islamic supremacists of Al Qaeda to gain a cause and credibility in Iraq. Despite some US claims, informed opinion states that Al Qaeda never had any links with the secular Saddam regime. However, it seems that their co-thinkers are now descending on Iraq to fight the Jihad, not just targeting the forces of occupation or those they identify as collaborating with those forces, but trying to set the three main interest groups – Kurds, Shias and Sunnis, against one another. Indiscriminate massacres such as the car bombing of a Shia festival in Karbala and Baghdad will only increase the prospect of communal violence.

This movement co-ordinated by Al Qaeda stretches from Kashmir thorough Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudia Arabia, the Gulf States, Yemen and right through to north Africa. It is gaining a substantial footing in the Central Asian Republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgystan, through such organisations as the IMU. The current conditions in this area provide an ideal breeding ground for such a movement. The dire poverty of the entire population ruled by a small scab of extremely wealthy, politically corrupt and dictatorial elite. Perhaps the worst example is Uzbekistan, where President Karimov operates an excessively repressive regime tolerating no dissent. It is so bad that, in 2002, Britain’s ambassador there delivered a speech that included an open attack on the brutality of that government. He argued that Karimov’s human rights abuses, including the boiling to death of opponents, were as bad as those of which Saddam was accused. However, despite such a record, (some might say because of such a record) Karimov still enjoys the financial, military and political backing of Washington. Some reasons for this include the use of Uzbek territory by the US military during the attack on Afghanistan, the US plans for an oil pipeline from the region, the vast reserves of oil and gas waiting to be exploited by transnational oil companies and lastly it also gives them a ‘friend’ and a bridgehead in Russia’s backyard – an opportunity too good to turn down, despite the brutality. US attitudes to such tyrants justify the collective cynicism to Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ and his safer world catchphrase. When do ordinary Uzbeks get their share of the ‘freedom and democracy’ being championed by Bush, Blair and their disciples?

Hysteria

By riding shotgun for Bush’s attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, Blair’s government has undoubtedly made Britain a priority target for Islamic supremacist groups looking for their own revenge. Fear has been stoked up to the advantage of the British state to enable it to implement draconian and anti-democratic measures that interfere with many aspects of life in Britain. Hysteria is the Labour government’s new weapon in the war on freedom. Sheffield’s ‘loony-left’ council leader of the 1980s, David Blunkett (Home Secretary), appears to take great delight in being even more authoritarian and extreme than some of his most severe Tory predecessors. As part of the general xenophobia being whipped up around asylum seekers, Blunkett’s Home Office has recently endorsed the forcible repatriation of Iraqi asylum seekers back to Iraq, presumably on the basis that that country is now a stable, democratic bulwark in the Middle East. Tell that to the Iraqi trade unionists that have had their offices smashed up by the occupying forces, or the many that continue to die or are injured through the continual violence fuelled by the occupation, or those who have, or will, suffer from the tonnes of depleted uranium and cluster bombs that pepper the Iraqi landscape causing cancers and amputations.

Other measures being implemented or up for consideration in Britain include the detention without charge of terror suspects, with Belmarsh Prison being an urban, British reflection of the Guantanamo Bay gulag, the recruitment of more spies to MI5 and trial without jury.

In the last two and a half years the world has become a more dangerous place. The thirst of imperialism for markets and profit, particularly in the medium developed and developing countries has caused a backlash. In a large strategically important section of the world, this backlash has taken the form of Islamicisation. Angry, alienated and impoverished masses have had enough of living as the victims of western imperialism and their local client puppets. Today, the mosque and the mullahs seem to be increasingly offering a ‘solution’. Our role internationally must be to show that real freedom, democracy and a valued life are best achieved through the fight for socialism, which can achieve a genuine emancipation and liberation. In the imperialist countries the role of the socialist and working class movement is to overthrow the class that survives and expands by sending other people’s sons and daughters to fight their wars.

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Jul 25 2002

Palestine: After Jenin – Ethnic Cleansing?

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 02RCN @ 9:42 pm

Hanna Khamis the myths of the Oslo Process and why it has failed to deliver peace or economic and social gains to the Palestinians

As Israeli tanks and bulldozers bury any lingering hopes of an early peace settlement in the rubble of West bank towns, it is legitimate to ask, why? What can the Israeli State hope to achieve by dismantling the very institutions they had invested so much effort in creating? The convoluted peace process begun in Oslo some 12 years ago may have ground to a halt even before the second intifada and the Sharon election victory administered it the coup de grace, but the PNA, with Arafat at its head, still posed the option of an imposed deal that could be given a wash of legitimacy. That option has now gone for the duration of this government and the next, at the very least.

In the aftermath of the offensive, Sharon has insisted this sacrifice was far from accidental. He has gone from the destruction of the institutions that would have underpinned some sort of Palestinian entity, to demanding the removal from the stage of the only person who could have negotiated in the name of all Palestinians: Arafat.

There is deep irony here. Before the invasion of the West Bank towns, the main thrust of Israeli propaganda was that Arafat was now irrelevant. He could not control his people, had lost his base of support, was forced through his weakness (or, alternatively, was driven by his malevolence) to support attacks on Israel. There was some truth to this, in that Arafat was totally bound up with the Oslo Process and its failure to deliver either peace or economic and social gains to Palestinians had resulted in a drift of support to more radical groupings. However, one consequence of the siege of Arafat at Ramallah has been an improvement in his standing, granting him greater freedom of manoeuvre. Sharon has no intention of utilising such an opening, at least not beyond shortterm goals such as ending the Bethlehem church siege. Negotiations with Palestinians on a full settlement are off the agenda.

Arafat’s capitulation

A full appreciation of the gravity of this change in Israeli strategic thinking requires a brief review of the last 10 years. These were the years of Oslo, of grinding negotiations, of Palestinian concessions, of Israeli facts on the ground. It was also the years of the construction of the PNA (in essence, of a Palestinian police force), of the semi-autonomous Palestinian enclaves and of the Israeli–controlled barriers between them.

The Oslo Process was one of the first results of the new world order that followed the collapse of the USSR and the assembling of the Gulf War coalition. For Israel, the rewards were an end to the intifada that had damaged its standing abroad, while sapping morale and threatening the consensus at home. Maintaining an occupation army had become a burden both economically and socially. The idea of a client Palestinian state that would police its population on Israel’s behalf was appealing. There was another prize in waiting, though: Israel’s economy was straining at the bit. It was a regional super-power without a region to dominate, forced into competing for sales in Europe and the
USA, denied its own sphere in North Africa and, critically, the oil states of the Gulf. A peace settlement seemingly accepted by the Palestinians would open the doors locked for 50 years. The process required a further ingredient – a partner to negotiate with. This was provided by the Arafat wing of the PLO. It was a perfect match – an aging leader who wished to see some success before he died, who could still trade on his status as the symbol of Palestinian resistance to Israel, along with a liberation army that had grown soft and corrupt in North African havens, far from any conflict zone. In return for conceding 78% of the Palestinian territory to Israel, this body of men was returned to the Occupied Territories. The British police and the

CIA engaged in training this force for its role as controller of Palestinian militants. Half of the Gaza Strip and, one by one, the towns of the West Bank were handed over to the control of the PNA.

However, Israel failed to keep its side of the bargains in full. The settlement building program and expropriation of Palestinian land continued at an accelerated pace. Deadline after deadline in the original process timetable was missed. Every act of resistance by the militants of Hamas and Islamic Jihad was met by collective punishments which served to illustrate how feeble was the autonomy of the
PNA areas. These did not control even their power and water supplies. A succession of blockades strangled the
PNA economy. Palestinians began to look back at the intifada years as a golden era.

When Barak presented the final settlement plan, against the background of an impending election defeat, it fell far short of what Arafat could sign. It gave the Palestinians only 90% of the remaining 22% of Palestine, and that territory was too fragmented to be viable. Furthermore, Israel retained control over borders and foreign policy. Access of Palestinian goods and labour to the Israeli market was to be curtailed. No satisfactory answer was given to the questions of Jerusalem and of the refugees. The Palestinians asked for more time to consider the plan and propose amendments. The Israelis walked out, withdrawing the offer. In the meantime, Sharon staged his visit to El Aqsa Mosque and triggered the second intifada.

Return of the Transfer Option

After his election victory, Sharon’s strategy appeared to be ambiguous. He led a coalition government and, although he had won the election, a clear majority of the population favoured a deal which would create a Palestinian entity of some form. His response to the intifada was a tight ring of steel around the
PNA areas and, in time, brief incursions into them. This escalating violence drew an unsurprising response – an escalating rate of reprisals, including suicide bombings. It could still be argued, though, that Sharon was attempting to squeeze the fight out of Palestinians and would then seek their agreement to a plan still less favourable to them than the Barak plan.

The strategy has now become clearer – and negotiations are not part of it. Among Sharon’s rivals on the right, former Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly advocated reoccupation of the West Bank and Gaza. However, it is hard to see a simple return to the morass of the 1980’s as being a credible goal. This would have to be a reoccupation with another agenda – ethnic cleansing. The Transfer Option, the name used to make more palatable the idea of expelling all Palestinians from the Occupied Territories, has long been attractive to Sharon, who has often stated that Jordan is the natural location for a Palestinian State. Annexation of the West Bank and Gaza into a Greater Israel has always featured in the Likud programme. The main obstacles to carrying out the policy have been world and internal opinion. One of Sharon’s successes has been to shift internal opinion far to the right. For example, two years ago, less than eight per cent of those who took part in a Gallup poll among Jewish Israelis said they were in favour of the Transfer Option. Now, that figure stands at 44 per cent. As for the world, the USA, its most important component, in Israeli eyes at least, has shown that its protests are for window dressing only.

An Israeli historian, Martin van Creveld, has suggested that plans have already been laid for carrying out the transfer. All that is needed is a pretext. One possible trigger could be a major US assault on Iraq. One danger sign is that Israel’s supporters in the USA have been geared up to start preparing the US public for the crime. On May 2nd, Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, endorsed on television the expulsion of all Palestinians from the Occupied Territories. This is just the most serious of recent calls for ethnic cleansing to appear in the US media.

Build the Solidarity Campaign

The recent Guardian Opinion Poll showed an overwhelming majority of those with an opinion now supported the Palestinians. The invasion of the Occupied Territories has created an opportunity to build a mass, global, solidarity movement over this issue. Unless we seize the opportunity, we may end up watching helplessly while 2 million Palestinians are evicted from their homes and land.

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