Archive | April 4th, 2011

Islamophobe Allowed to Head College

NOVANEWS

 

Shocking allegations of Islamophobia at Joseph Chamberlain College, that rocked the Muslim community in Birmingham have been followed by a series of protests by students.

 

 

As reported on this website earlier this month, serious allegations were made against the Principal of Joseph Camberlain College and her conduct towards a local Imam, Shaykh Yasin. She is alleged by the Shaykh, to have asked to interview him in order to ascertain if he was a ‘terrorist’. She also sought to judge if he was capable or not of giving the ‘correct teachings’ of Islam, based on her ability to ‘judge character’ and interview skills.

Understandably these allegations have caused outrage and anger amongst the Muslim community in Birmingham, but nowhere more than amongst the Muslim students in the college itself. Where they have staged a series of peaceful. but vociferous protests to demand clarity surrounding the allegations and an end to the wall of silence erected by management. A student on condition of anonymity said: ‘’ We are protesting here today due to, allegedly, the head teacher calling a Shaykh a terrorist during a conversation. He was made to feel as if he was guilty, before being proven innocent. Elly refused to come on the radio to defend herself, instead producing a statement through her lawyers, we just want the other side of the story.’’

The first of the protests took place earlier this month and in a manner befitting a Middle Eastern dictatorship, the college responded by calling in the police to break up the peaceful protest. The management refused to release a statement. after promising to do so, citing an internal investigation. The Student went onto say: “We know there is an investigation going on and we do not want to jeopardise the investigation. It’s been in the media, but we haven’t had anything official from the college.’’

A second protest was held and attracted up to 150 students, who were shocked and dismayed at the continued refusal of management to engage with the students in a meaningful manner. Once again the static protest was peaceful and lively, attracting students from all backgrounds. Thes tudent went on to say : “The aim of the first protest was for the college to release a statement and a statement wasn’t released, so quite a few students came out to protest again, as the students believed they were promised a statement, but the senior management interpreted it as a hope only. So the following Monday there was a big protest where about 150 pupils came out to protest against Islamophobia and JCC.’’

The ‘pro-democracy’ protesters then gave the college until Friday to reconsider their obstinate stance. In the absence of a response, they once again took to the route of peaceful protest, holding banners, placards and signs, the most prominent of which said ”JCC against Islamophobia”. The protest was well attended and loud and once again passed without any incident. The numbers were in their hundreds, spirits were high and the message loud and clear: ‘From the students we want a response and from the management to break the wall of silence.’

The student added : ‘”Today we are protesting because we are still waiting for the college’s side of the story. A little reassurance from the college, in the form of a statement could prevent all this protesting ; no one person has organised this it, we wanted to do something, but we didn’t know what to do, it has been more of a group effort. We are law abiding students and we have not done anything outside the law, even though the college has tried to break up this protest. College is one big family and we respect each other’s religions.’’


There are other rumours in the community about the alleged Islamophobia in the college, including restrictions placed upon the Islamic Society from holding events in conjunction with Islam Awareness Week. When asked, the student hinted that other incidents may have taken place in college. He said : ” There are other rumours … I wouldn’t want to mention them and we are not here today for that.”

The actions of the students are commendable in organising and holding the college to account for its refusal to engage with them, regarding the alleged Islamophobic remarks made by the Principal. A Principal who, incidentally, is in charge of a college with an 80% intake of Muslims and is paid from the public purse, which of course includes the Muslim taxpayer. This is a matter that concerns the entire law abiding Muslim community and we should not leave it in the hands of a few active and passionate students, as the implication of Elly Tobins alleged statement is that Muslims are ‘guilty before proven innocent’, and all our Imams are potential ‘terrorists’, unless they can prove otherwise, ripping up the centuries old traditions of the Magna Carta and Haebus Corpus.


You can contact the governors of Joseph Chamberlain College via : info@jcc.ac.uk

You can contact Birmingham City Council : equalities@birmingham.gov.uk.

If you are a student or member of staff at Joseph Chamberlain College, you can email us anonymously at info@mpacuk.org and to find more information on this story and many others affecting Muslims, visit our webpage at mpacuk.org or our Facebook page.

To help counter Islamophobia join, fund or volunteer for MPACUK today.

Read more: http://www.mpacuk.org/story/290311/uncovered-islamophobic-head-90-muslim-college.html#ixzz1IbCIxxRx

 

Sourcece:  www.mpacuk.org

 

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Bahrain: Saudi mercenaries cannot stop the revolution

NOVANEWS


Foreign intervention in the Arab world is consistently on the side of counter-revolution.

The images of wave after wave of demonstrators in the Bahraini capital Manama hurling themselves at the serried ranks of armed riot police on 13 March, their courage undiminished by the spectacular brutality dished out at close quarters by these hired thugs of the US-backed Khalifa regime, served notice to the world that this Arab revolution is not to be faced down by any amount of armed force, however sophisticated the weaponry with which the repressive forces have been so liberally supplied by the US (in 2008) and the UK (in 2010).

The long-predicted response of these vile kleptocrats – calling in the aid of over a thousand Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) mercenaries and their tanks – will fare no better, serving only to deepen the anger of the people of Bahrain and spread the revolt right back into Saudi Arabia itself.

The desperation of the monarchy was already on stark display a month earlier. On 14 February, police killed one protester and injured another 25. Three days later, the police invaded the Pearl Roundabout, where many thousands of demonstrators had established a peaceful tent city to protest against unemployment, hunger and political repression.

Without warning, the police opened fire on the sleeping protesters. In the space of a few short days, at least six died and hundreds more suffered horrific injuries, with police in some cases preventing ambulances from ferrying the wounded to hospital. Doctors reported that many had been wounded by shotgun blasts. One of the young men killed had 200 birdshot pellets in his chest and arms, and others were black and blue from beatings with police clubs or from the impact of rubber bullets.

Others had their skulls cracked. Yet this accelerating brutality, rather than subduing the wildfire spread of Arab revolt, in fact served to fan its flames. The massacre on 17 February ratcheted tension up yet further, sending alarm bells jangling in Washington.

It has been the prolonged suppression of Arab national-economic and political development across the Middle East and North Africa by imperialism, a suppression carried out by local stooge regimes on behalf of the West, that has for so long prepared the combustible materials currently igniting in social revolt.

Now the threatened loss of that network of comprador rule, a network laboriously stitched together by US imperialism when its prestige in the world was far higher than it is today, marks a sickening downward lurch in the spiral of imperialist crisis. With the failure of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan compounding its economic woes, the US is desperate to claw back some advantage from the turmoil in the Arab world.

One sign of this desperation is the frenzied effort to capitalise on the civil war in Libya, where imperialists are hoping to bury the truth of that country’s anti-imperialism beneath an ignorant flood of anti-Gaddafi hysteria whilst hurrying to secure access to the mineral wealth of the eastern region. Having initially suffered a set-back when their proxy forces in Libya were fought back, the imperialists are now brazenly attempting to seize and occupy the entire country by means of outright aggression.

Imperialism is by no means assured of a victory in Libya. Nor would any move against Iran at this juncture, however much such an attack might gratify the king of Bahrain (see [link href=”http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=672″] WikiLeaks [/link]), serve to extricate it from the deepening crisis of its own making.

And it is a certainty that imperialist agents are doing their damnedest to worm their way into the revolutions gripping the Arab world and steer them away from the path of national democracy and anti-imperialism.

Such efforts to limit the damage to US hegemonic interests may here and there succeed in blunting for a time the progressive thrust of the social revolt in the Arab world, but that is exactly what they are: a defensive exercise in damage limitation. No amount of huffing and puffing can hide what a massive humiliation the Arab revolt is for imperialism in general, and for Washington, London and Tel Aviv in particular, and what immensely cheering news it is for all of progressive humanity.

Imperialism now finds itself in a position of trying to fight a thousand liberation fires at the same time.

In its efforts to stamp out the fire in Bahrain, imperialism is discovering to its dismay that, here as elsewhere, it is ‘damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t’. That is to say, if it backs the king’s murderous assault upon his own people, it will pour oil on the flames of revolution; if it distances itself from the barbaric repression, it imperils the tottering thrones of all the other feudal relics upon which it relies to safeguard its stranglehold on the mineral wealth of the region and its suppression of Arab national development.

This impossible dilemma is being played out as a struggle between different lines within the ruling class, if we are to believe an account in the Wall Street Journal. According to this report, the White House “watched the developments with alarm, especially reports that Bahraini forces had fired on the crowd from helicopters … the next day … the Bahraini army fired on protesters again. In a call to the king, Mr Obama condemned the violence used against ‘peaceful protesters’, and urged the king to direct his security forces to punish those responsible for the bloodshed.” (‘US wavers on “regime change”’ by Adam Entous and Julian E Barnes, 5 March 2011)

We can discount the notion that Obama’s “alarm” sprang from any humanitarian sentiment. It was triggered rather by the mortal fear that such ham-fisted repression doled out by imperialism’s gendarmes would only spread the revolt wider and deeper, further blackening the name of the puppet-masters in Washington.

Against this White House view, say the journalists, was ranged the hawkish view of Robert Gates at the Pentagon, backed up by Hillary Clinton. “Arab diplomats reacted with alarm to the US condemnation. They believed the administration might be returning to the Egyptian playbook, according to officials and diplomats. Inside the Pentagon, Mr Gates and his team were quick to point out that Bahrain represented a very different situation than Egypt’s. Bahrain has a restive shiite majority that has long felt cut off from the opportunities available to the country’s sunni royal family and social elite. The country is the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and Red Sea. Some at the Pentagon feared that shiite-led Iran might try to hijack the protest movement in Bahrain and back installation of an anti-American government.”

Bahrain indeed has a sizable disadvantaged shia majority, many of whom, side by side with sunni demonstrators, have played a prominent role in the protests, though it should be noted that, aside from the tiny minority of obscenely wealthy parasites who have licence to loot the national exchequer in exchange for handing control of the country’s oil to the monopoly capitalists, there is nobody in the population who would not greatly benefit from the establishment of a government dedicated to the nation’s welfare and independent development, with or without the assistance of Iran.

Need we add that any such government could not but appear as ‘anti-American’ in the eyes of imperialists for whom, by definition, any practical exercise of national independence in the region is a dagger aimed at their heart?

Even before Saudi mercenaries swarmed across the causeway that joins the two countries, it was clear that the Gates/Clinton line was in the ascendant, with a reluctant White House drawn into propping up the butcher king and his joke ‘National Dialogue’, conducted with a gun aimed at the people’s head.

Losing Bahrain to revolution would in itself be enough of a disaster for imperialism, not least as it is the home of the strategically crucial US Fifth Fleet. An even bigger nightmare, though, would be the knock-on effect of such a loss upon Saudi Arabia, Washington’s trusted stooge.

If Saudi Arabia’s invasion and occupation of Bahrain, making war on the people of that country on behalf of the Khalifa monarchy, fails to suppress the revolt in its island neighbour, the House of Saud could rapidly fall prey to the same contagion, thanks to the widespread unemployment, oppression of minorities and political repression afflicting Saudi Arabia itself.

Any who are tempted to water down their opposition to western military intervention in Libya with the caveat that ‘it would be okay if neighbouring countries did it’ should note the odd inconsistency with which the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, every one of them an absolutist monarchy, addresses such matters.

When the king of Bahrain decided to massacre his own subjects, the GCC from the start gave him its unstinting support, darkly hinting at a hidden Iranian hand and declaring grandly that “it will not allow any external interference in the kingdom’s affairs”. However, when the government in Libya was confronted with a civil war egged on by the West, the GCC abandoned its non-interventionist pose without a blush, calling on the Arab League to establish relations with the rebel leadership in Benghazi, supporting the occupation of Libyan airspace (‘no-fly zone’) and telling the UN Security Council to “shoulder its responsibility”.

Nor is the GCC going to be making any complaints about Saudi tanks rolling into Bahrain. Such ‘Arab solutions’ may fool some in the West, but will cut no ice with the revolutionary Arab masses.

With the whole network of comprador states in the Arab world now so badly compromised, the ability of the increasingly isolated and vulnerable House of Saud to come to Uncle Sam’s rescue is ever more in question. Saudi Arabia is even failing to shield its imperialist masters from the effects of rocketing oil prices. Despite pumping out as much oil as is physically possible it still cannot put a dampener on oil prices pushed into the stratosphere by the social explosion to which imperialist economic crisis lit the fuse.

End the Saudi occupation of Bahrain!
Long live the Arab revolution!

 

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Hand off Libya!

NOVANEWS

Proletarian issue 41 (April 2011)

Under cover of supporting a ‘people’s revolution’ and ‘protecting civilians’ in Libya, imperialist forces are attempting to grab the oil, destroy the political independence and wipe out the economic gains of the most advanced country in Africa.

On Saturday 19 March 2011, exactly eight years after the illegal war on Iraq was launched, combined imperialist forces, with Britain, France and the United States in the lead, openly launched a savage war against the oil-rich, north African muslim state of Libya.

Barbaric bombardment

That night, Britain and the United States attacked Libya with 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles, launched from ships and submarines, hitting both military and civilian targets. Separately, French forces carried out four air strikes on ground forces, killing young conscripts and civilians alike.

In this first night of attacks, 64 people were killed and 150 others were wounded. Within the first three days of bombing, most of Libya’s civilian air and sea ports had been destroyed, fuel tanks had been hit, roads, bridges and a heart clinic had been destroyed, and part of the compound where Colonel Gaddafi normally resides was destroyed in a blatant attempt to assassinate the Libyan leader.

Even the British media, craven and bellicose as it is in its support for an unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign state, could not entirely obscure the grim toll already exacted on the civilian population in just the first few hours of the bombardment. Reporting the first night’s air and missile attacks, the Guardian wrote:

Residents had gone to bed expecting trouble after a series of explosions to the east, probably at a radar station in nearby Tajoura. It was there, according to her distraught uncle, Muhammad Salem, that three-month-old Siam al-Tabib was killed and her mother injured, though whether by a bomb or a rocket he did not know.

Her remains were buried under a pitifully small concrete mound covered with three carnations and a scrap of green cloth at the beach cemetery at Shatt al-Hinshir .. .

‘These were ordinary people, asleep in their homes, not soldiers,’ one man shouted. ‘Where is democracy when they are killing children?’ cried another, gesturing at the infant’s fresh grave. ‘The people who did this are the terrorists, shedding the blood of innocent muslims.’ ” (‘Muammar Gaddafi calls on Libyans to resist “colonialists”’, 21 March 2011)

Desperately trying to mangle its words, the Financial Times reported from the same funeral:

But there was no compelling reason not to believe the testimony of relatives, who were nonetheless obviously being used to bolster the regime’s case that the air strikes, directed at military installations, had inflicted a terrifying human cost. ” (‘Fury erupts at “martyrs” burial’, 21 March 2011)

The Independent reported on the fate of some young Libyan conscripts, defenceless as French jets attacked them in the open desert outside Benghazi:

The bodies lay strewn, dismembered and burnt. Some of the faces expressed the horrors of the last moments, others lay peaceful, in repose. Around them were the remains of the tanks and artillery of Muammar Gaddafi’s army, destroyed in an hour of pulverising and relentless air strikes … They were caught; vulnerable; in the open; and what was left afterwards resembled a ghastly montage in miniature of the carnage on the road to Basra when American and British warplanes bombed Iraqi forces fleeing from Kuwait. ” (‘We needed foreign help – but now Libyans must end all this in Tripoli’, 21 March 2011)

This onslaught occurred just two days after the United Nations Security Council, by 10 votes to nil, with five abstentions, namely Russia, China, Brazil, India and Germany, had passed Resolution 1973, authorising member states to use “all necessary measures”, the customary code words for military action, supposedly to “help protect civilians”.

The resolution, although it certainly amounts to gross interference in Libya’s internal affairs, and despite the fact that even a small child ought to be able to realise that its sole purpose is to provide a legalistic fig leaf for a massive imperialist onslaught on a small third-world nation, nauseatingly couched itself in humanitarian tones, claiming that a ‘no fly zone’ would constitute a “decisive step for the cessation of hostilities in Libya” (emphasis added).

It hypocritically reaffirmed “its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”. It talked about “facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution”. And the resolution affirmed that it was “excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”.

Preparations for regime change

Yet, despite all these sanctimonious words, the leaders of France, Britain and the United States, Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama, Hillary Clinton, William Hague, Liam Fox and others, war criminals to a man and woman, have made no secret of the fact that their aim is so-called ‘regime change’. “Gaddafi must go” has been their mantra since the first demonstrations were reported in Libya in February.

Despite a public dressing-down from their own military top brass, Prime Minister Cameron, as well as both his foreign and defence secretaries, have all dropped totally unsubtle hints that they are aiming to kill the Libyan head of state. In any case, actions speak louder than words, and, as noted above, Gaddafi’s customary residence was among the first targets of attack.

Following the passing of the UN resolution, Sarkozy summoned a meeting in Paris of selected imperialist leaders and their stooges. The first bombs and missiles were raining down on Libya just hours after the assembled leaders had enjoyed their dinner. Indeed, a smirking Sarkozy emerged from the summit to announce that French forces were already in action.

It is therefore a myth, fit only for the mentally weak or those claiming naivety to the point of cynicism, to imagine that this immense imperialist crusade was assembled in some 48 hours subsequent to the UN Security Council supinely passing Resolution 1973. Targets are not identified and pinpointed; battleships and submarines are not moved to the Mediterranean in a matter of hours.

Clearly, this war against Libya, part of the ongoing attempt to topple any and all governments in the region that take some sort of independent position vis-à-vis imperialism – the latest example being the attempts to destabilise Syria, stir up conflict and provide a pretext for external intervention – has been months, if not years, in the making.

British imperialism has been arming and training Libyan terrorist groups, of an Islamic fundamentalist disposition, since at least the early 1980s, whilst the US CIA has concentrated its backing on a rag-tag mob of supporters of the feudal monarchy that Colonel Gaddafi and other progressive young army officers overthrew on 1 September 1969.

And whilst, as we have seen, the UN resolution specifically excludes ‘boots on the ground’, Britain’s counter-insurgency SAS regiment has been covertly operating in the east of Libya for at least weeks, if not months and years, as testified by the farcical arrest, worthy of a scene from Dad’s Army, of an SAS group by the very bandits they had gone to assist.

The foreign ministry of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) summed up the succession of events well, when it stated: “It (“the US … in collusion with some western countries”) openly interfered in the internal affairs of Libya, sparking off a civil war, and then cooked up a deceptive resolution by abusing the authority of the UN Security Council. It finally perpetrated indiscriminate armed intervention in the country, going beyond the limits of the resolution. ” (‘DPRK foreign ministry spokesman denounces US military attack on Libya’, Korean Central News Agency [KCNA], 22 March 2011)

Specifically, it should be noted that this war has been in preparation for much if not all of the time that the imperialists have been professing their supposed friendship with Libya: whilst Gaddafi was being received with pomp in western capitals; and whilst a succession of top western political leaders made their way to Tripoli to embrace him in his tent, where they were joined by oil barons and financiers, eyeing lucrative concessions and preaching the virtues of privatisation and structural adjustment.

And whilst western capitalists secured themselves lucrative contracts in Libya, the cash-strapped West also solicited and begged for as much Libyan cash and investment, the fruits of Libya’s abundant oil resources, the biggest in Africa, and the hard work of its people, as they could grab. All this has now been blatantly stolen in the form of sanctions and the freezing of Libyan assets.

As soon as the crisis arose, the veteran Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro warned clearly that the imperialists were intent on war:

What is absolutely evident to me is that the government of the United States is totally unconcerned about peace in Libya and will not hesitate to give Nato the order to invade that rich country, possibly in a matter of hours or a few days. ” (‘Nato’s plan is to occupy Libya’, Reflections of Comrade Fidel, 21 February 2011)

The Libyan example

So why, considering the apparently friendly relations between Gaddafi and the imperialists over recent years, has his country been subjected to such a savage onslaught? Why is Libya treated so very differently to Bahrain, Yemen and above all the ionist state of Israel?

The answer to these questions lies in a review of the history of, and basic facts about, Libya; history and facts that are at complete variance with the Goebbelsian propaganda with which we have been bombarded – propaganda that has seduced even some progressive people.

Before Colonel Gaddafi came to power in 1969, Libya was an absolute monarchy, ruled by one King Idris. Idris had been placed on his throne by British imperialism and remained a British puppet until his overthrow. Desperately backward, the country was officially the poorest in the world, society was tribal, social customs were archaic, women were oppressed, illiteracy was around 95 percent and disease was rife.

Unlike the situation in many other Arab and African countries, Gaddafi and his supporters resolved that their country’s newly discovered oil wealth should be used to benefit the Libyan people and not foreign imperialists. Accordingly, the oil industry was nationalised, and the US and British military bases were expelled from the country.

Although he has always been philosophically opposed to Marxism, and was influenced more by Islamic precepts and traditional tribal views somewhat akin to primitive communism, Gaddafi proclaimed Libya to be a socialist country. Indeed, many of the reforms introduced in Libya were, broadly speaking, of a socialist character. Most of the economy was brought under state control, people were allocated rent-free housing, free education and health care were introduced, and women’s equality was proclaimed and to a very considerable extent enforced.

Efforts were made to diversify the economy, in particular with massive engineering projects designed to pipe the country’s vast subterranean water reserves from deep in the Sahara to where they could be used to promote agricultural development, with a view to reducing over time the country’s need to import most of its food.

As a result of such policies, life expectancy at birth reached 73 years, and a per capita income of US$16,600 was achieved by 2008, both according to United Nations’ indicators, meaning that, in terms of the masses’ living standards, Libya had become the richest and most prosperous state in the whole of Africa. According to the UN’s Human Development Report for 2009, prepared by taking the average life span, educational level and per capita income into account, Libya belongs to the ‘high human development’ countries, achieving 52nd position amongst the 179 countries surveyed.

But Libya did not just use its oil wealth for its own benefit. From the early 1970s, Libya gave huge assistance to national-liberation movements fighting imperialism and various puppet regimes, not only in Palestine, southern Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa, but also in Ireland and throughout the world.

Despite its small population, still today just around six-and-a-half million, there is not a corner of the world that has not benefited from Libya’s active anti-imperialist solidarity at some point over the last four decades. The victories of the ANC and the Irish republican movement, and of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, for example, are all inseparable from the generous support rendered by Libya.

Concessions to imperialism

Significant changes did occur, however, in Libyan policies over the last decade or so. These resulted primarily from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist countries of central and eastern Europe due to revisionist betrayal.

Like many other progressive states in the third world, Libya had been allied to the Soviet Union and had benefited from its political, diplomatic, economic, technical and military support. With the Soviet Union no longer around, some adjustments in policy were inevitable. Moreover, Gaddafi appeared to believe that a policy of making concessions to the West and offering them benefits could spare his country the cruel fate of Iraq.

Accordingly, Libya abandoned or reduced its support to a number of liberation and progressive movements. It accepted responsibility for the explosion of a US aircraft over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, for which the country had been placed under crippling sanctions, even though it is well known that Libya had nothing to do with this incident, and paid billions in supposed compensation. Moreover, it agreed to hand over two of its citizens for a blatantly rigged trial, one of whom was sentenced to serve a term of life imprisonment in a Scottish jail – although Libya was subsequently able to win his repatriation on humanitarian grounds.

Libya’s oil industry was again opened to foreign investment as were other sectors of the economy, with an extensive privatisation programme, while a number of social programmes were rolled back, leading to wealth disparity and an increase in unemployment, especially among the youth. Under pressure from the West, Libya also abandoned its nuclear energy programme.

However, despite all these concessions, and the appearance of friendly relations with the West, Libya didnot become a client state of imperialism, but maintained an essentially progressive orientation.

Although opened to investment, overall ownership and control of the oil industry remained in Libyan hands. In the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Libya consistently stood with Iran, Algeria, Venezuela and Ecuador to defend the rights of the producing countries. The Libyan people continued to enjoy a standard of living unique in Africa.

On the world stage, Libya continued to follow an anti-imperialist foreign policy in a number of highly important respects. Gaddafi championed African unity and poured literally billions of dollars into development projects in almost every country of the continent. And Libya stood at the forefront of attempts to consolidate anti-imperialist unity between the countries of Africa and Latin America. Among heads of state, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Bolivia’s Evo Morales remained among Gaddafi’s closest friends and allies.

Hence, we can see that, on both sides, Libya’s rapprochement with imperialism was strategically on a par with the famous example cited by Lenin of the type of agreement reached by the infant Soviet state with various imperialist powers in his 20 August 1918 ‘Letter to American workers’: “The French monarchist and I shook hands, although we knew that each of us would willingly hang his ‘partner’. ” (Collected Works, Volume 28)

Imperialist double standards and hypocrisy

It is the fact that Libya under Colonel Gaddafi has remained a fundamentally anti-imperialist state that dictates the completely different response to events, or alleged events, there and events in other parts of the region, such as Bahrain, Yemen or Gaza.

In Bahrain, peaceful protestors have been shot down in the street. The military have attacked hospitals. Injured patients have been further brutalised in their beds. Both patients and doctors have been taken away, not to be seen again. Women medics have been threatened with rape. But the response has been for Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) troops to invade the country to prop up the king’s tottering rule and defend him from his people. Top EU foreign policy adviser Robert Cooper has defended the repression, saying “accidents happen”. (‘Bahrain protest crackdown defended by European Union envoy’,Guardian, 24 March 2011)

In the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, more than 50 people were killed in just one incident on 18 March, when peaceful demonstrators were fired on shortly after Friday prayers. Both Yemen and Bahrain provide bases for US naval fleets and the Yemeni president was revealed on WikiLeaks as giving his blessing to the US killing as many of his citizens as they liked in drone attacks.

Meanwhile, on 22 March, at least eight people were killed and dozens injured in Gaza on the second consecutive day of Israeli air strikes on the beleaguered territory. Needless to say, the Arab ionis and compradors have been as silent and useless in the face of this latest ionist aggression as they have been throughout the more than six decades since the Israeli state was carved out of the Arab homeland. During recent days, in particular, they have been too busy shooting down their own defenceless populations whilst obsequiously begging the imperialists to slaughter the Libyan people.

Alongside the UN Security Council resolution, the imperialists have made much of their supposed support from the Arab League. This has been driven by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.

These six statelets are all absolute monarchies. Every one of them is bound and beholden to imperialism by a thousand and one threads. Every one of them has been terrified and shaken by the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. Every one of them is repressing, and in at least three instances to date (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman) slaughtering their own people. Yet it is these grotesque kings, sheikhs, emirs and sultans, as these feudal relics are variously and vaingloriously called, who have dutifully lined up to beg their imperialist masters to bomb and strafe the Libyan masses into the delights of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’.

Some people in the anti-war movement have professed themselves perplexed by this apparent contradiction. But there is actually no contradiction at all. The imperialists and their stooges have a one-point programme in the region – to drown the peoples’ revolutions in blood, be it the revolutionary upsurge of the Bahraini masses to overthrow their monarchical dictator and American servant, or the struggle of the Libyan people, led by Colonel Gaddafi, to defend their revolutionary gains.

Dirty role of Stop the War

Faced with the third all-out onslaught on a sovereign muslim nation within a decade, the response of the anti-war movement in Britain has been nothing less than a disgrace. The Stop the War Coalition, which has so loved to boast of their million-plus march on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, has been reduced to mobilising dozens. And the reason is simple: they have been on the wrong side.

When the counter-revolutionary uprising had commenced in Libya; when the imperialists had already begun their war preparations, and had been called out for so doing by Fidel Castro; when sanctions had been clamped on Libya, described by the US government as the largest sanctions regime in history, Stop the War was busy calling for protests – against the Libyan government!

Dominated by the Trotskyites of the Counterfire group, recently decamped from decades at the top of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), and ably assisted by their little helpers in the revisionist Communist Party of Britain (CPB), these opportunists have been congenitally incapable of distinguishing between a revolution and a counter-revolution throughout their political lives, both their own and that of their political trend, so why on earth should they start now?

Even with the launch of all-out war on Libya making their previous position untenable, if they are not to completely abdicate their place in the anti-war movement, the coalition leadership’s efforts have been perfunctory and derisory. And about half of those feeble efforts are still going into denouncing Colonel Gaddafi and the Libyan people’s brave resistance to aggression, which he is leading.

For example, a spokesperson for Stop the War was quoted in the Guardian of 19 March as follows:

“Air attacks on Libya will not help end the civil war but will escalate it and could be the prelude to a much wider war. They will not help bring the downfall of Gaddafi. He is already portraying the UN’s decision as an act of western colonisation and himself as the defender of Libyan sovereignty. Air strikes by the US and Britain will strengthen, not weaken, his position.”

Not to be outdone, Ms Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and a prominent member of the CPB, piped up: “CND urges political solutions including increased sanctions”. (‘Stop the War Coalition say airstrikes by UK and US will strengthen, not weaken Muammar Gaddafi’s position’)

Leaving aside the fact that at the moment it is hard to see exactly how sanctions on Libya actually could be increased any further, Ms Hudson, we must presume, has somehow managed to forget that the ‘political solution’ of sanctions claimed the lives of half a million Iraqi children. Or perhaps, like former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, she considers that “a price worth paying”?

On Stop the War’s website, in an article by one Owen Jones, somewhat bizarrely entitled ‘Case against bombing Libya’, we find the following:

Let’s be clear. Other than a few nutters, we all want Gaddafi overthrown, dead or alive. In both his anti-western and pro-western incarnations, his record is that of a brutal and unquestionably slightly unhinged dictator. I will not caricature supporters of the bombing campaign as frothing-at-the-mouth neo-cons. ” (stopwar.org.uk)

Well, if we all “want Gaddafi overthrown, dead or alive”, why on earth should we be opposed to ‘no-fly zones’, why on earth should we be opposed to bombing? And why on earth should these pro-imperialist hysterics be expected to mobilise anyone to come out on to the streets to oppose imperialism, save from the most utter disgust?!

Whilst the imperialists can always count on the social democrats, revisionists and Trotskyites to do their dirty work as the ‘enemy within’, they can also always count on the courageous, determined and resolute resistance of the oppressed and risen masses. As even the Guardian was forced to note:

Libya’s strength may well lie in its ability to wage a people’s war, drawing on a powerful narrative of resistance to foreign enemies. The most popular and resonant slogan of this crisis is Gaddafi’s determination to fight ‘street by street, alley by alley, house by house’. If he does, it will show up the limits of the ‘crusader’ coalition’s air power and raise difficult questions about whether action on the ground can be avoided if he is to be defeated. ” (‘Muammar Gaddafi calls on Libyans to resist “colonialists”’, 21 March 2011)

The CPGBML, and all genuine anti-imperialists, have no hesitation in taking their side. We say:

Hands off Libya!
Victory to the Libyan revolution led by Colonel Gaddafi!
Death to imperialism!

 

Posted in LibyaComments Off on Hand off Libya!

Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

“Israeli racism, whose natural “hothouse” is the colonialist project in the territories, has long since spilled over into Israeli society and has been legitimized in the series of laws recently passed in the Knesset. Only people who avoid looking at the broad historical context of such a process are still able to believe it is possible to stop the emergence of an Israeli apartheid state without getting rid of the colonialist-racist grip on the territories.” [Heading towards an apartheid state, item 5 below]

“Military sources say that there is no magic formula to use to deal with ships that try to enter Israel’s waters forcibly.” [final paragraph of item 4—The problems with this statement are that the Mavi Marmara fleet (a) was attacked not in Israel’s waters but in international waters, (b) did not use force to make its way to Gaza, and (c) if Israel has ‘left’ Gaza as it says it has, what right then has it to blockade Gaza from air, land, and sea?]

———————-

Dear Friends,

Below are 8 items.  I don’t know whether item 1, 6, or  7 can be called the saddest of the lot.  But each in its own way is.

But before I run through the items, glance at the above comments.  A few points need to be made regarding the attitude in the first of these.  To begin with, Israel’s colonial project did not begin in 1967.  It began with the so-called War of Independence (1948-9).  The country was not an empty waste land prior to the Jews winning the war that dispossessed the Palestinians and produced Israel.  True, the UN partitioned Palestine.  But it did not say nor intend that Palestinians be expelled, their lands taken, their villages demolished, and the refugees not be allowed to return.  Israel has been colonizing since its inception.  And if it is not stopped, the fate of the West Bank will be that of the present State of Israel, which will swallow up the WB whole, divide it permanently from Gaza, and become the Greater Israel.  Furthermore, Israel is already an apartheid state, not only in the West Bank, but also in Israel.  Palestinians with Israeli citizenship do not have the same rights as do Jews, beginning with the Jews ‘law of return’ (return from where?) and the exclusion of the Palestinian refugees right of return (to their villages and cities).  I have mentioned other inequalities in the past and won’t repeat now.  I just want to say here that given these qualifications, the article nevertheless does make some important points, as, e.g., comparing it to other apartheid states as Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa.

As for the 2nd paragraph above, my comments are in brackets, the main point being that Israel attacked the Mavi Marmara in International Waters, not in Israeli ones!

The first item relates the suffering of one village, and shows how easy it is for Israel to steal land and make life impossible for people.  We have to work on bds more to pressure Israel’s governments to stop doing these horrible things, which are not an iota better than the pogroms that Jews suffered in Eastern Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  The means of the pogroms were different from the ones that Israel uses, but the effect is equally despicable.

Item 2 reports the fate of the Palestinian who was kidnapped in the Ukraine

and is now being charged for a crime that he claims to not have committed.  And if he did indeed commit it and is as important to Hamas as Israel claims, is it possible that he was kidnapped less for what he did than to try to pressure Hamas into releasing Gilad Shalit in exchange for this one person rather than for the 1000 (of some 10,000) prisoners in Israeli jails.

In item 3 El Baradei says that as president of Egypt (if elected) he will open Rafa’s gates to allow Palestinians to escape should Israel attack again.  Why wait?  Why not open them now?  Of course he has not yet been elected, but even so, why open them only on the condition that Israel attacks?

Item 4 reports that Israel is trying to diplomatically prevent freedom flotilla 2 from sailing.  Whether or not Israel will be successful, and to what degree depends of course on the countries that it contacts and the UN.  Time will tell.  I guess even if none of the countries nor the UN agree to stop the flotilla, Israel will be able to try to justify its violence by claiming that it had forewarned everyone.  Let’s hope that Israel fails to convince the countries it contacts for the purpose, and lets hope also that in event that the flotilla will float, that there will be no violence and no lives lost.  And even more, let us hope that Israel will of its own volition or by external pressure stop the siege on Gaza.

Item 5 I have commented on above.

Item 6 is about plans to build nearly 1000 more structures beyond the green line, a line that in practice Israel’s government ignores.

Item 7 came as a shock!  While reading the international newspapers on line, I found the Guardian informing me that Julian Mer Khamis had been killed in Jenin.  Apart from founding the Freedom Theatre and being an actor, he directed one of the best films on the situation in Jenin, and typical of many West Bank communities, that I have ever seen: Arna’s children. You can watch it on line http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6EXrA3UFwM If you would prefer to have a review of it, a rather good one is available at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article2255.shtml If you wish to know more about the beginnings of the Freedom Theatre and about Zakaria Zubedei you can find a fairly thorough background piece within the depiction of the opening of the Freedom Theatre at http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/articles.php?id=41

In brief, Zakaria Zubedie’s home was where Arna’s theater began.  During the IOF’s horrible destructive offensive in  April 2002, Zubedi’s mother and brother were killed, and, if I recall correctly, his home—his parent’s home—the place where Arna had worked with the children in Jenin—was partially or entirely destroyed.  Julian Mer Khamis, Zubedi says, was the only person of all the Israeli left that had visited his home prior to Israel’s invasion, to show that he cared about what was happening or had happened.   Sad, now, that Khamis was killed, and in Jenin.

Goldstone’s retraction (if that is what it was) is in all the newspapers.  Interestingly, while I was reading some of the articles on it, one informed me that he had wanted to publish it in the New York Times, which rejected it, without explanation! Perhaps the Times saw through it in the same way that Noura Erekat does in item 8.  When I read the retraction itself the first time (I have since gone over it several more times), my main impression was that Goldstone was angry with Israel for not having cooperated with the investigation so that he could say wholeheartedly that Israel had committed no war crimes. Well, it’s not likely that we will ever know his motives, albeit there are some who think that they do.  Whatever you personally think, I believe that you, too, will find the critique raises important questions.

All the best, and tonight, as last night, I hope that tomorrow will be a better day than was today.

Dorothy

============================================

1. The Palestine Telegraph,

04 April 2011 11:25


Israel lays Gaza-like siege on West Bank village

http://www.paltelegraph.com/opinions/editorials/8847-israel-lays-gaza-like-siege-on-west-bank-village.html

Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada, 31 March 2011

Palestine, (Pal Telegraph) – Since 24 March, Israeli forces have sealed the southern occupied West Bank village of Beit Ommar for an indefinite amount of time as soldiers continue to arrest young Palestinian residents and hold them in Israeli detention centers.

In a move akin to the four-year-long economic blockade against the occupied Gaza Strip, Israeli soldiers have closed the six entrances to the village of 17,000 inhabitants and have imposed a widespread prohibition policy against all major imports and exports from the village — including gasoline, produce, raw industrial materials and basic supplies. Ambulances have also been prevented from entering or exiting the village.

The closures and arrests followed a brazen attack by an Israeli settler on a funeral procession on 21 March.

The settler stopped his car on Route 60 (the highway linking Jerusalem with Hebron-area settlements) as the crowd of mourners moved towards the village cemetery, and started firing indiscriminately with live ammunition, injuring two Palestinian men, the Beit Ommar-based Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP) reported.

“The settler who shot the two men was not arrested,” PSP stated (“Two Palestinians Injured as Settler Opens Fire on Funeral Procession in Beit Ommar,” 21 March 2011).

“Israeli forces arrived on the scene and used sound bombs and tear gas to disperse the gathered crowd as medical teams evacuated the wounded,” the report added.

The attack came amidst a widespread spate of settler violence against Palestinians throughout the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.

Settler attacks have continued this week. The Palestine News Network reported that Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in Ramallah, Jenin and Hebron on 30 and 31 March (“Daily Roundup: Settler Attacks in Ramallah, Jenin; Three-year-old Hit by Settler Car; Four Arrested,” 31 March 2011).

Following the settler attack against the funeral procession, Israeli forces closed the main entrance to Beit Ommar, as special forces invaded the village and shot tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets before arresting three Palestinian residents, PSP reported on 25 March (“Three Beit Ommar Residents Arrested As Israeli Forces Close Village Streets”).

The next day, all six entrances to the village were shut, and continue to remain closed. Beit Ommar residents and international solidarity activists engaged in protests against the closures and collective punishment on 26 March.

On the evening of 27 March, fifteen young Palestinians were arrested and remain in detention at the military base in nearby Gush Etzion settlement. Of those fifteen, seven are under 18 years old. The military gave no reason for their arrests and detentions, PSP stated.

Hours later, PSP reported, Israeli soldiers “fired tear gas and rubber bullets at villagers attempting to pass the road blocks on foot to board the taxis and buses waiting below. The soldiers refused to let anyone exit Beit Ommar until after their departure roughly an hour and a half later” (“15 Beit Ommar Residents Arrested as Closures, Army Harassment, Continue,” 28 March 2011).

Yousef Abu Maria, coordinator of the Center for Freedom and Justice in Beit Ommar (CFJ), told The Electronic Intifada that the indefinite closures imposed on the village have already created an economic crisis for Beit Ommar’s 17,000 residents during the last week.

“The industrial factories in Beit Ommar are effectively closed,” Abu Maria said. “There haven’t been any imported raw materials from the outside. And the gas station will close soon, because there isn’t enough gas. Essential products are hard to obtain right now in the village.”

Ahmed Oudeh of the PSP and the CFJ told The Electronic Intifada that farmers in the village who depend on exporting their produce to nearby cities and towns are facing a dire financial situation if the closure remains in place. Additionally, pregnant women and people needing medical attention are not able to reach the hospital, as the policy affects ambulance access to and from the village.

The Electronic Intifada witnessed a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance being turned away at the front gate of Beit Ommar, forced by Israeli soldiers to find a rural route out of the village. Oudeh said that it could take up to an hour and a half to get back to the hospital in Hebron.

It is against international law — as outlined in the Fourth Geneva Convention — for the Israeli military to prevent ambulances from accessing or transporting persons needing medical attention.

Abu Maria further explained that schoolteachers working in the village are having difficulties getting to and from Beit Ommar, since the roads are sealed and public buses and taxis are being turned away by the soldiers at the gates.

“Laborers who work in Hebron or nearby in Saffa village are also being directly affected,” Abu Maria added. “They can’t drive their cars out of the village or back inside, and many don’t have enough money to pay for taxi services to and from work. [These policies are] a collective punishment for the people in Beit Ommar.”

Meanwhile, a new section of the Efrat settlement colony on the other side of Route 60 is being built, according to a new map issued by the Israeli military and obtained by the CFJ. Beit Ommar is surrounded by several illegal settlements, parts of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the southern West Bank.

Abu Maria said that the Israeli military is planning to erect a fence around the village, and will move the main entrance gate deeper inside Beit Ommar to protect settlers on the road. But the main purpose of the current closures and the fence is to “take more land and expand the settlements,” he said.

Beit Ommar resident Naama Hassan Sleibi, 65, told The Electronic Intifada that she and her husband have been farmers their whole lives but continue to lose their land as the nearby Karmei Tsur settlement expands. “We have empty land with no produce,” she said. “[The expansion of the settlements] is a huge loss for farmers.”

For years, Beit Ommar’s residents have been engaged in unwavering actions of civil disobedience against the encroaching settlements and land confiscation policies. Abu Maria explained that part of Israel’s intention to impose the closures and control movement of the villagers is to break the steadfast resistance inside Beit Ommar.

“In [the nearby village of] Saffa, next to the Bat Ayn settlement, we are planting olive trees,” he said. “The Israeli military said we can’t plant there, but we’re going to keep doing it anyway. They won’t succeed in stopping us.”

As the closures continue to paralyze people’s lives across a broad spectrum, Sleibi said that she’s most worried most about the youth of Beit Ommar. “[The Israeli soldiers] come and arrest young people all the time,” she said.

Sleibi needed to go to the hospital in Hebron several days ago for routine medical needs but was turned back by Israeli soldiers. “We can’t do anything,” she said. “The settler attacked the funeral, but the people of Beit Ommar pay the price.”

Nora Barrows-Friedman is an award-winning independent journalist, writing for The Electronic Intifada, Inter Press Service, Al-Jazeera, Truthout and other outlets. She regularly reports from Palestine.

Source: The Electronic Intifada

============

2.  Washington Post,

April 04, 2011

Seized Gaza engineer charged with rocket development

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/seized-gaza-engineer-charged-with-rocket-development/2011/04/04/AFwYAUcC_story.html

By Joel Greenberg,

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian engineer from Gaza, held by Israel after he vanished mysteriously from a train in Ukraine, was charged Monday in an Israeli court with developing rockets for the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Dirar Abu Sisi, 42, operations manager at Gaza’s only power plant, went missing Feb. 19 and resurfaced a few days later in an Israeli jail. His Ukrainian-born wife accused Israel’s overseas intelligence service, Mossad, of abducting him, and he later told court reporters he had been “kidnapped.”

On Monday, Abu Sisi was formally charged with developing rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, increasing their range and ability to penetrate Israeli armored vehicles, according to a summary of the indictment released by the Israeli Justice Ministry.

The indictment alleged that Abu Sisi had acquired extensive knowledge of rocket technology at a military engineering academy in Ukraine. He was also charged with establishing a military academy in Gaza to train Hamas commanders.

In a brief courtroom appearance, Abu Sisi said he had been seized to gain information about Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held by Hamas, and that the charges against him were fabricated when his interrogation showed he had nothing to do with the captive soldier.

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza denied any links between Abu Sisi and the group, calling the Israeli charges false.

greenbergj@washpost.com

====================

3.  Ynet,

April 04, 2011

Mohamed ElBaradei Photo: Reuters

ElBaradei: We’ll fight back if Israel attacks Gaza

In interview with Arab newspaper, former IAEA chief says if elected as Egypt’s next president he will open Rafah crossing in case of an Israeli attack

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4051939,00.html

Ynet

Former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who had previously announced his intetions to run for the presidency of Egypt, said Monday that “if Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime.”

In an interview with the Al-Watan newspaper he said: “In case of any future Israeli attack on Gaza – as the next president of Egypt – I will open the Rafah border crossing and will consider different ways to implement the joint Arab defense agreement.”

He also stated that “Israel controls Palestinian soil” adding that that “there has been no tangible breakthrough in reconciliation process because of the imbalance of power in the region – a situation that creates a kind of one way peace.”

Discussing his agenda for Egypt, ElBaradei said that distribution of income between the different classes in Egypt would be his most important priority if he were to win the upcoming elections.

ELBaradei’s main competition is Arab League Secretary General and former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa. Last month he discussed Egypt’s relationship with Israel. “During my term in office the foreign ministry was subject to unfavorable policies from Israel with regards to the peace agreement,” Said Moussa who served as foreign minister 1991-2001,” he said.

“We thought the peace process was like a waterwheel – endlessly turning around and around without reaching a defined point. My opinion was that we needed to be honest with the Israelis, taking determined measures within the framework of the foreign ministry’s operations. Maybe this led to a lack of agreement on all Israel related issues.”

=========================

4.  Haaretz,

April 04, 2011


Israel pressing UN to halt new Gaza aid flotilla

More than 1,000 leftists and pro-Palestinian activists are expected to take part in the flotilla, which sources say will include more than 20 vessels of various sizes.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-pressing-un-to-halt-new-gaza-aid-flotilla-1.353914

By Amos Harel

Security officials and the Foreign Ministry have started preparing feverishly for the expected arrival of another Gaza flotilla in late May. More than 1,000 leftists and pro-Palestinian activists are expected to take part in the flotilla, which sources say will include more than 20 vessels of various sizes.

Drawing lessons from the controversy over the raid on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship last May, and from the recommendations made after the investigation of the incident by the Turkel commission, Israeli officials are preparing in advance for another such protest at sea.

In recent weeks, Jerusalem has engaged in a large-scale diplomatic effort aimed at pressuring heads of states in countries from which ships are expected to sail, to discourage their citizens from taking part. The hope is that such an effort will head off a large-scale “sequel” to last year’s flotilla. Furthermore, in the event that another military raid is called for, this time Israel wants to be able to claim that every possible effort was made to stop the ships peaceably.

Among other officials, senior Israeli diplomats have initiated discussions with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, to persuade him to take steps to prevent the departure of the flotilla.

At the same time, security officials are discussing a possible relaxation of the siege on the Gaza Strip. The main advocate of such a move is Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, coordinator of government activities in the territories. He believes that loosening restrictions on the entry of goods would be an effective response to allegations that Israel is infringing the basic rights of Gaza residents, and would defuse many of the claims made by the flotilla organizers.

Until now, top officials in the security establishment have held a few coordinating meetings in anticipation of the maritime protest in May, together with Foreign Ministry officials.

Concurrently, the navy is completing preparations for a scenario in which its men would have to use force in another raid on a ship. As happened with the Marmara, responsibility for such a raid would devolve upon the naval commando unit; members of this unit have been training for several different eventualities.

The Turkish organization IHH, which was involved in last year’s flotilla, is also taking part in planning the new one. The Marmara has apparently been pressed into service for another trip to the Gaza coast. Some activists are talking about a flotilla of up to 50 ships, although other sources indicate that the number will be much smaller. It remains unclear whether organizers will obtain insurance for the ships and various other types of authorization needed to set sail.

The event is planned for May 31, the one-year anniversary of the death of nine Turkish activists during the Israel Defense Forces’ raid on the Marmara. The objective of this this flotilla would be both to commemorate those killed as well as to demand that the siege on Gaza be lifted.

Military sources say that there is no magic formula to use to deal with ships that try to enter Israel’s waters forcibly. They warn that circumstances this time may be similar to those during the Marmara episode.

=====================

5.  Haaretz,

April 04, 2011


Heading toward an Israeli apartheid state

Israeli racism, whose natural ‘hothouse’ is the colonialist project in the territories, has long since spilled over into Israeli society and has been legitimized in the series of laws recently passed in the Knesset.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/heading-toward-an-israeli-apartheid-state-1.353942

By Daniel Blatman

It has been 60 years since the apartheid state was established in South Africa. In March 1951, a few years after the racist National Party came to power, racial segregation was anchored in law. As was common in other countries that adopted racist laws in the 20th century, those in South Africa were accompanied by “laundered” explanations.

Hitler declared after the Nuremberg Race Laws were passed in 1935 that they would create a suitable basis for a separate but worthy existence for Jews in Germany alongside German society. The race laws in South Africa established that people of different colors cannot exist when mixed with each other – only in separate, protected spaces.

The tsunami of racist laws passed by the Knesset in recent months is also being explained by reasoned and worthy arguments: the right of small communities to preserve their own character (the Acceptance Committees Law ); the state’s right to prevent hostile use of the funds it allocates to education and culture (the Nakba Law ); and the right to deny citizenship to persons convicted of espionage or treason (the Citizenship Law ). But I believe that as in other historical instances, the aim of this legislation is the gradual establishment of an apartheid state in Israel, and the future separation on a racial basis of Jews and non-Jews.

An apartheid state is not created in the blink of an eye. What was created in Germany in 1935 was the outcome of a long and sometimes violent debate, which had been ongoing since the middle of the 19th century, about the place of Jews in modern Germany and Europe. Indeed, the desire to isolate and distance the Jews from society – legally and socially – was part of the belief system of anti-Semites in Europe for decades before Hitler came into power.

In this respect the Nazi regime, along with other regimes that passed racial separation laws (among them those in Romania, Hungary, Italy and Vichy France in 1940 ), only anchored in legislation a reality that had already been enthusiastically received by the populace. Of course, when such laws were enacted, the regimes involved did not support or imagine that at the end of the road, a “final solution” was waiting in its Nazi format. However, once the seeds were sown, no one was able to figure out what fruit they would bear.

The historical background of the Israeli apartheid state-in-the-making that is emerging before our eyes should be sought in 1967. It is part of a process that has been going on for about 44 years: What started as rule over another people has gradually ripened – especially since the latter part of the 1970s – into a colonialism that is nurturing a regime of oppression and discrimination with regard to the Palestinian population. It is robbing that population of its land and of its basic civil rights, and is encouraging a minority group (the settlers ) to develop a crude, violent attitude toward the Arabs in the territories. This was exactly the reality that, after many years, led to the establishment of the apartheid state in South Africa.

In her book “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” Hannah Arendt draws a sharp picture of the process of the development of the society of racial segregation in South Africa, from the start of the Dutch Boer colonialist settlement there. Assumption of racial superiority – the subordination of the black population – was the only way the “whites” could adjust to life in the midst of that race. The nurturance of feelings of racial supremacy, to which were added the belief in cultural superiority and the justification for economic exploitation – these are what, in a decades-long process, gave rise to the need to anchor this situation in proper legislation.

Thus, the dehumanization of the blacks, who at the start of the colonization period were perceived as no more than enhanced work animals, led to the establishment of a regime of racial separation 60 years ago in South Africa, which for decades left tens of millions of black people mired in a situation of harsh poverty, exploitation and atrophy.

It is not hard to identify this sort of worldview developing – with respect to Arabs – among widening circles of settlers in the territories and among their supporters within the (pre-Six Day War ) Green Line. It also has quite a number of supporters in the Knesset, even if they will not admit this outright.

Israeli racism, whose natural “hothouse” is the colonialist project in the territories, has long since spilled over into Israeli society and has been legitimized in the series of laws recently passed in the Knesset. Only people who avoid looking at the broad historical context of such a process are still able to believe it is possible to stop the emergence of an Israeli apartheid state without getting rid of the colonialist-racist grip on the territories.

Prof. Blatman is a Holocaust researcher and head of the Institute for Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

==============================

6.  Haaretz,

April 04, 2011


Jerusalem committee to debate building nearly 1,000 homes beyond Green Line

Plan sees the Gilo neighborhood expanding southwest, onto land currently owned by the Jewish National Fund and private individuals.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/jerusalem-committee-to-debate-building-nearly-1-000-homes-beyond-green-line-1.353909

By Nir Hasson

The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee will discuss Monday construction of 942 housing units in the Gilo neighborhood in the south of the city, beyond the Green Line. The plan has been already been approved at the district level. If it is confirmed by the local committee, the public will be invited to voice objections to it.

The plan sees the Gilo neighborhood expanding southwest, onto land currently owned by the Jewish National Fund and private individuals. In addition to the residential units, commercial and public buildings, roads and more are slated for the area. The construction is expected to be followed by further expansion of Gilo in a northwest direction, with another 850 housing units.

After the plan was confirmed by the district planning committee in November 2009, the American administration publicly criticized Israel. Then-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs declared that such an act makes it even more difficult to renew negotiations with the Palestinians.

The United Kingdom also voiced opposition to the plan.

In addition, Jerusalem councilman Yosef Pepe Alalu (Meretz ) attacked it yesterday, saying that the municipality thinks it can ignore existing agreements while the Middle East burns and Jewish neighborhoods expand beyond the Green Line. “Such expansions damage negotiations and in fact damage the future of the neighborhoods themselves,” he said.

The Jerusalem municipality said in response that construction on private land is permissible under law, the city is promoting construction for Jews and Arabs alike, and the local committee will consider plans based on purely professional criteria only.

While the Prime Minister’s Office had pledged to monitor the work of planning committees directly, fearing they may approve politically sensitive building plans – i.e., over the Green Line – at inopportune moments, the fact that this plan is moving on to the local level may indicate that that policy is being relaxed.

The district planning committee is supposed to discuss 1,608 housing units in neighborhoods beyond the Green Line next week.

==================================

7.  7. The Guardian,

4 April 2011 18.38 BST

Israeli peace activist Juliano Mer Khamis shot dead in Jenin

Witnesses say actor – who ran a drama project in a Palestinian refugee camp – was shot five times by masked men

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/04/israeli-peace-activist-shot-dead

Conal Urquhart in Jerusalem

Mer Khamis had received death threats for his work in Jenin. Photograph: Saif Dahlah/AFP/Getty Images

An Israeli actor and peace activist who ran a drama project in a Palestinian refugee camp has been shot dead by masked men, metres from the theatre he founded.

Juliano Mer Khamis, 52, had received threats for his work in Jenin in the northern West Bank but continued to divide his time between Jenin and Haifa in the north of Israel. Witnesses said he was shot five times.

Mer Khamis appeared in a number of Israeli films after his first film role in the 1984 production of the John Le Carre novel The Little Drummer Girl, about Mossad’s hunt for a PLO bomber.

He was born to a Jewish mother and an Arab Christian father. His mother, Arna, was renowned for setting up a theatre group in Jenin during the first Intifada which started in 1987. Mer Khamis directed the film Arna’s Children, which celebrated her work, which he continued after her death in 1994. His wife, Jenny, a Finn, is pregnant with twins. She heard of his death from Israeli radio.

Mer Khamis’s body was transported to an Israeli checkpoint, from where it was taken to Tel Aviv for a postmortem examination.

While his work was widely appreciated by Palestinians, his bringing together of young men and women angered conservative Muslim elements in Jenin. In addition to threats, fire bombs were thrown at the theatre. However the project was supported by local militants. Zakaria Zubeidi, a leader of the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, frequented the theatre as a child.

Kadura Musa, governor of Jenin, said: “He was a Palestinian citizen of Israeli origin. An actor and an artist but most of all a true human being. We don’t know why this happened, but all the people of the camp condemn the death of this son of ours whose mother also did so much for the people of Jenin.”

Alaa Eddin Saadi lives next to the theatre, and said that Mer Khamis was shot while in a car also carrying his one-year old son and his nanny, who was wounded in the hand. “I don’t think he was killed because he was Jewish. Some people were angry with the liberal values he was promoting at the theatre, but to me he was a very nice guy who worked hard for the people here.”

====================================

8.  Al Jazeera Last Modified: 04 Apr 2011 15:04

Goldstone: An act of negligence

Downplay of Israeli aggression towards civilians during the Gaza War, causes scholars to question Richard Goldstone.

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/04/20114413734463122.html

Noura Erekat

More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the war on Gaza, while the Israeli death toll totalled 13 [GALLO/GETTY]

In the wake of a monumental victory in the human rights community to move the Goldstone Report out of the Human Rights Council (HRC) to the General Assembly where it can be underpinned by actionable follow up, Justice Richard Goldstone’s recent editorial makes some human rights practitioners wish it had been left to languish in the HRC.

Goldstone sought to do two things in his op-ed: to amend the record by stating that Israel’s attacks may not have been deliberate and second, to emphasise Hamas’s culpability under the laws of war. In the best case scenario, Goldstone’s intervention is a problematic attempt to cajole Israel to participate in the international process for accountability.

However, even in that case, the editorial is counterproductive, short-sighted, and casts Goldstone’s attempts as no less than curious.

Just last week, I had the chance to speak to Goldstone at Stanford Law School where I participated in a debate on the report featuring him as a discussant.

Goldstone seemed struck by recent revelations made in Israel’s investigation of itself that its murder of 29 civilians in the Sammouni home, where approximately 120 civilians had taken refuge, was the result of negligence and not a deliberate attack.

He emphasised that had Israel participated in the investigatory process rather than boycott it, it would have been able to contest the mission’s findings before the report’s release thereby correcting its alleged bias.

He echoes this sentiment in his op-ed where he writes:

I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.

Goldstone should have known better: on the one hand, he accepts Israel’s investigatory findings at face value notwithstanding the Independent Committee of Experts’ conclusions that they are structurally flawed and unlikely to yield effective measures of accountability and justice.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, Goldstone takes for granted that Israel preemptively rejected the report precisely because the mission treated Hamas evenhandedly rather than dismiss it as a terrorist organisation whose annihilation is justified by any means necessary.

That is why it should come as no surprise that rather than respond to his proclamations with a renewed faith in international legal mechanisms, Israel’s staunchest allies are opportunistically characterising Goldstone’s editorial as an attitudinal shift towards Israel in the West while its prime minister has called on the UN to retract the report all together.

The Goldstone Report documents eleven incidents where the Israeli military directly targeted civilians. Four other fact-finding missions underscore these findings: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and the National Lawyers Guild.

‘No humanitarian consideration’

In a report conducted by Israeli war veterans, 26 Israeli soldiers who participated in the Operation confirm that there were no clear rules of engagement.

One soldier laments:

There was a clear feeling that no humanitarian consideration played any role in the army at present. The goal was to carry out an operation with the least possible casualties for the army, without its even asking itself what the price would be for the other side.

Together, the four investigations and the soldiers’ testimonies, demonstrates an Israeli policy of targeting of civilians and/or negligent behaviour that amounts to the direct targeting of civilians according to Article 51 of the First Additional Protocol.

This comports with a policy adopted by Israel since 2006, known as the Dahiyeh Doctrine. As captured by the Goldstone Report itself, according to Major General Gadi Eiskenot:

What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on.  We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there.  From our perspective, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.

Israel’s perspective however is not what matters – according to the twin linchpins of humanitarian law, namely the principles of distinction and proportionality, civilian villages are not to be targeted, are to be protected, and are to be spared excessive loss unless they directly partake in the hostilities.

Arguably therefore, no mission could have written a report to Israel’s liking unless it accepted this perversion of humanitarian law casting villages as bases.

In fact, after the report’s dissemination, Prime Minister Netanyahu requested “the facilitating of an international initiative to change the laws of war in keeping with the spread of terrorism throughout the world”.

Accordingly, Goldstone’s painstaking efforts to highlight Hamas’s culpability, which he already makes plain in paragraph 108 of the report, are futile because the controversy has not been over the report’s inequitable application of the law but rather over Israel’s insistence that it should be freed from the laws’ restraints in order to have its way with its “terrorist” adversaries.

Goldstone also miscalculates the value of Israel’s domestic investigations.

To date, the Independent Committee of Experts, chaired by New York Judge Mary McGowan Davis, has reviewed the domestic investigations process twice, and both times it found Israel’s investigations to be inadequate.

Whereas Goldstone applauds Israel for “dedicating significant resources to investigating 400 incidents of operational misconduct”, he does not mention the rest of the committee’s findings.

‘No’ Israeli investigatory initiative

In particular, it took issue with the fact that “there is no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead”.

The committee goes onto note that “more than one-third of the 36 incidents in Gaza are still unresolved or unclear. [And] Finally, the Committee is concerned about the fact that the duration of the ongoing investigations into the allegations contained in the FFM report – over two years since the end of the Gaza operation – could seriously impair their effectiveness and, therefore, the prospects of ultimately achieving accountability and justice”.

In light of these conclusions, it is perplexing that Goldstone would accept Israel’s assertion that its attack on the Sammouni home was a regrettable act of negligence by those commanders “making difficult battlefield decisions”. Consider also that this is the home where emaciated children were rescued four days after the attack because Israel prevented access to the Red Cross.

What kind of remorseful military commander negligently orders an air strike on a home full of civilians and then prevents humanitarian relief to its victims for four days? At most, Israel’s conflicting investigatory findings should have buttressed the report’s recommendation for an international judicial enquiry.

Perhaps Goldstone sincerely believes that Israel’s boycott of the mission was a function of remedial short-sightedness. Arguably then, his willingness to overlook a compelling record is an effort to lure Israel to the table of multilateral reconciliation.

In fact, his endorsement of “applying international law to protracted and deadly conflicts” for the sake of making warfare more humane indicates his enduring faith in the mission’s mandate as well as the need for accountability, rather than a disavowal of the report and the exoneration of Israel for its alleged crimes.

If this is indeed the case, the Justice exercised excessive good faith and poor judgement to believe that Israel would accept his gesture as an opportunity to reconcile with the UN-investigatory process, rather than cast the final blow against the report and the HRC.

Regardless of what may have been his best intentions, Goldstone has negligently, one hopes not deliberately, undermined the laws of armed conflict and emboldened those states, like Israel, who believe that it is a surmountable nuisance.

Noura Erekat is a Palestinian human rights attorney and activist. She is currently an adjunct professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in Georgetown University. She is also a co-editor of Jadaliyya.com.

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The origins of ‘humanitarian intervention’ in intellectual reaction

NOVANEWS

 

posted by lenin

 

Given the role of the comical and sinister BHL in coordinating with Sarkozy to push for intervention in Libya, I thought it was worth recounting to you the story of how intellectual reaction in Paris, combined with the reassertion of Eurocentrism, (and, I should have added, of French imperial interests in Africa with Operation Manta), produced the doctrine of ‘humanitarian intervention’. This is a slightly more politicised narrative than the one which Adam Curtis entertainingly, if somewhat glibly at times, recently provided with the use of invaluable archive materials. After all, I don’t think the worse thing that can be said about this tendency is that it divides the world into good guys and bad guys. I also don’t find BHL’s hair cut as interesting as Curtis does, and there was a time when such snickering would have been considered rather tired. Nevertheless, I’m with him in his attempt to excavate hidden origins, to anatomise intellectual lineages and antecedents, and to mock and point fun. Here’s one I prepared earlier:

The critique of Stalinism was by no means new, and The Gulag Archipelago contained no revelations. The New Left had almost unanimously held the Soviet Union to be a part of the problem, either because it was depraved, or because it was decrepit, or both. Solzhenitsyn’s text rapidly became a much-hyped reference point for socialists moving to the right; but, as Michael Scott Christofferson writes, ‘the vast majority of French intellectuals of the non-communist Left were already acutely aware of the failures of Soviet socialism’. Although much of the French Left, fearing a fascist reflux, defended the communists during the period in which they were increasingly ostracized, the Algerian war of independence and the Hungarian Revolution produced a more critical engagement. There had been at any rate a revival of libertarian and democratic ideals during Liberation’s hangover, and a sustained effort was made to reconcile these with revolutionary principles. 

In February 1948, left-wing intellectuals had founded the Rassemblement démocratique révolutionnaire (RDR) as a coalition of the non-communist left, but it had collapsed by late 1949 on account of divisions over American power. Further efforts at developing a new Left committed to neutrality in the Cold War, anti-colonialism, and political and economic democracy, also floundered for the time being. The testimony of Victor Kravchenko – a former Soviet official who had defected and was associated with the CIA – confirmed the existence of concentration camps in the Soviet Union in 1947, and produced a debate among French progressives. Although the episode was marred by Kravchenko’s stridency and his association with American propaganda efforts, even fellow-travelling intellectuals such as Merleau-Ponty and Sartre accepted that the concentration camps did exist and were not, as the PCF tried to claim, merely re-educational work camps. So, as early as 1950, and certainly by 1956, most of the noncommunist Left was apprised of the internal repression in the USSR – and certainly the Trotskyist Left had been arguing that the revolution had been betrayed since the 1930s.

Still, The Gulag Archipelago provided the occasion for confession and conversion, and a host of former Maoist revolutionaries would later end up adopting hard-line anti-communist positions, and rejecting in particular the Third Worldism that had characterized much of the French Left. These included such luminaries as Bernard-Henri Lévy, André Glucksmann, Bernard Kouchner, Alain Finkielkraut and Pascal Bruckner. Bernard-Henri Lévy was never a Maoist militant, but he had been close to Louis Althusser, one of the chief theoreticians of a particular strand of normalien Maoism before May 1968. BHL had not been closely involved in the May 1968 uprising (although he claims it as a key moment for him, he was actually engaged in an affair at the time); but his first book, a journalistic account of the Bangladesh War, was written from a Marxist perspective. However, Lévy was so mortified by Solzhenitsyn’s exposé that he was moved to disparage his former Marxist commitments.

Or was he? While some have cast doubt on Lévy’s seriousness as a Marxist, as late as 1975 Lévy was still defending the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc against dissidents, and against Solzhenitsyn in particular. As the French Communist Party (PCF) went on the offensive against the Soviet novelist and his defenders, Lévy assured readers that Solzhenitsyn was ‘not a great writer’ but rather a ‘mythomaniac’, a ‘showbizman’ and a ‘gaffeur’ (meaning ‘blundering idiot’). He dismissed ‘the few clowns who arrive with us periodically, nineteenth- century novelists mislaid in the twentieth century, the Solzhenitsyn type…’ Regarding the dissidents, he maintained that they were hardly models of progressive thought themselves, and were ‘even sometimes of perfectly reactionary cloth’. All their testimony showed was that the USSR was ‘a country like any other’, ‘neither completely rosy nor completely black’. His preferred authority on the Soviet Union was Francis Cohen, whose chief distinction was that he had been the Moscow correspondent for the PCF’s newspaper L’Humanité. It is possibly that Lévy’s defence of the Soviet Union at this time was partly due to the influence of Louis Althusser who, while a critic of Stalinism, did not share the nostalgia for Tsarism that Solzhenitsyn exhibited. Another reason was the strength of the PCF and its weight in the organized Left.

By summer 1975, Lévy had concluded that the Soviet Union was not quite like any other state after all. The cause of its tyrannical nature lay in an ‘original sin’, not any corruption, ‘and the sin is Marx’. The Gulag Archipelago was ‘the finally blinding proof that terror in the USSR is everywhere’. Not only did it discredit the USSR, it proved that ‘terror is nothing more than the inside lining of sacrosanct socialism’ – although at this point Lévy did not deny the possibility of socialism outside the USSR.7 By the time he came to write La barbarie à visage humain, in 1977, he was convinced that the problem was not merely with the USSR, and not even only with overt Marxism, but with the whole paradigm of revolutionary thought issuing forth from May 1968 which, whether it knew it or not, was Marxist. Lévy’s method was as straightforward as his prose was convoluted: the Marxist conception of power involves a Master, or oppressor, a ‘lucid and diabolical anticonfessor’ who manipulates through ideology a ‘population of sleepwalkers’. Were this population to be awoken, and apprised of the ruses of capital and the modes of their exploitation, they would rebel. This paradigm was, he maintained, the reigning wisdom even among the anti-Marxists of the New Left. ‘There is a hidden impulse toward power, probably absolute power, whenever someone brandishes the slogan of total “liberation”’. The book affirmed a fundamental historical pessimism: progress was impossible, and every attempt at accomplishing it was a religious gesture, the ‘faith’ of ‘militants’ (Lévy’s book is replete with such metaphors – the litany of the Left, shepherds and flocks, prophets and devils. ‘Totalitarianism is confession without God, the inquisition plus the negation of the individual’ – and so on and on, straining for effect in that fashion, based on nothing more than the insipid anti-communist metaphor of The God That Failed). Far from being one of many responses to profound social iniquity, Marxism was ‘fanaticism’ a ‘ghostly “prophecy”’, and paradoxically a form of ‘counterrevolutionary thought’ dedicated to sustaining a given ‘end of history’. The frustration of the attempt to radically transform social conditions would necessarily lead to repression, and ultimately to the gulag. Written on the eve of the municipal election victory of the Union of the Left, uniting the Socialists and the PCF, Lévy explained that it was intended as a warning shot: the French Left was on the slippery slope to totalitarianism. And so: ‘There remains only the duty to protest against Marxism’ in all of its forms.

André Glucksmann had been, as noted in Chapter 3, both a Stalinist and a Maoist in his radical years. In 1956 he had been opposed both to the French ‘pacification’ of Algeria, and to the Soviet ‘pacification’ of Hungary. He had been a member of the violent Maoist group, Gauche prolétarienne, before that movement collapsed in the mid 1970s. In Le Maître penseurs, Glucksmann laid out the programmatic basis for his eschewal of Marxism: the master thinkers, including Hegel, Fichte, Nietzche and Marx, had systematically legitimized the dominative strategies of the modern state. The gulag was a result not only of ‘the logical application of Marxism’, but also of languages that ‘enable one to master everything’, admitting nothing outside themselves. Glucksmann’s self-congratulatory retelling has it that:

“I began with concrete and timely criticism of the French Communist Party and the Soviet Union in the 1960s. Then I proceeded to a more extended critique of totalitarian thinking, in order not to be ensnared in a kind of intra-Marxist opposition – anti-Soviet but pro-Chinese, for example, or anti-Chinese but pro-Castro, and if not some form of sacred socialism, then the dear Third World … The next step was to fit this basic Marxist structure into a more general scheme, which I tracked to German philosophical thinking of the nineteenth century – a totalitarianoriented world view which could be expressed in rightist as well as leftist ideologies.”

This is not quite accurate. Glucksmann, at this point, was still an opponent of the concept of ‘totalitarianism’. The standard presentation, he said, had ‘let the “non-totalitarian” regimes off the hook’, ignoring the ‘kinship’ and ‘filiation’ which linked the ‘harsh methods of domination employed in both the West and in the East’. He remembered that the British had developed concentration camps against the Boers before the Boers had thought of using them against black South Africans, and recalled enough of his anti–Vietnam War activity to point out the totalitarian resonances of the campaigns against ‘the Indians’, ‘the Vietnamese, the South Americans … or the inhabitants of Dresden, Hiroshima or Nagasaki’. The ‘critique of totalitarianism shows a tiresome tendency to boil down always to a critique of totalitarianism elsewhere’.

This conception of a logical progress from anti-Stalinist critique to straightforward anti-communism is not simply a piece of self-serving revisionism by Glucksmann, however. It is a claim repeated by Julian Bourg in his account of the impact of May 1968 on French thought. As he puts it, ‘The Marxist tradition ironically provided the resources for overcoming Marxism … the passage from anti-Stalinism to anti- Marxism completed a logic.’ However, Bourg adds some heavy qualification to this somewhat glib observation. In the context of the death of Mao, the catastrophic rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the crises on the European Left, and the declining fortunes of the French Left, Bourg maintains that Solzhenitsyn’s text provided an orientation for those already prepared to escape Marxism. The idea that anti-Stalinist Marxism is logically already anti-communist is in fact one that supporters of the Soviet Union have always been prepared to brandish. Thus, Dolores Ibárruri (‘La Pasionaria’) argued during the Spanish Civil War that the attacks on the trotskysant POUM were justified because the Trotskyists were counter-revolutionaries. However, while it is true that the Maoists had a critique of the Soviet Union and of the politically timid PCF, they were of course completely uncritical of an equally authoritarian regime in China, which was regarded as the vanguard of anti-imperialist revolt. Indeed, as one internal document of the Maoist group Gauche Prolétarienne argued, ‘All error goes back to an incorrect interpretation of Mao.’ The cultish extolment of Mao as the philosopher and strategist of anti-imperialism did in many cases morph into a victimological approach to the Third World (the widely publicized fate of the Vietnamese Boat People providing a decisive moment for the ‘new philosophers’ and their co-ideologues). Equally, the ‘anti-authoritarian’ dynamic in the May 1968 generation could be re-interpreted as a critique of everything from the gulag to nationalization. It is, however, hard to see this as a strictly logical and coherent progression.

At any rate, Glucksmann’s 1977 thesis bears some resemblances to classical ‘totalitarianism’ theory, and Glucksmann was increasingly content to use the label. It is also, as Alain Badiou (once a Maoist confederate himself) argues, a profoundly pessimistic doctrine. The thrust of Glucksmann’s argument is that every ‘collective will to the Good creates Evil’. There can be no positive politics, nothing too radically transformative, only a liberal–conservative consensus created by an awareness of Evil, and the need to resist it. Glucksmann would go on to warn that the Union of the Left shared a programme with the ‘master thinkers’. Its left-Keynesian reform package, which was typical of the era, was seen as an attempt at maximizing state power. In an even more sinister fashion, the nationalization programme was, Glucksmann claimed, aimed at ‘the Jewish side of the “private sector” … not privilege or exploitation’.

Lévy and Glucksmann, known as the ‘New Philosophers’, became the stars of a new media product, and were followed by a raft of penitent Maoists and ex-Marxists. One of the means by which Lévy exerted his influence was as editor at the prestigious germanopratin publishing house, Grasset, where he could publish his friends among the nouveaux philosophes, notably Glucksmann. This crowd were quick to draw accusations of antisemitism, and critics were treated as germinal totalitarians. ‘You proceed like the police!’, Lévy told a critic. The nouveaux philosophes had been treated to ‘small Moscow trials’, while an ‘unavowed totalitarianism’ was brewing. Glucksmann worked himself up to splenetic issue at a talk by Julia Kristeva, at which Kristeva proclaimed Soviet dissidence as a model for Western intellectuals. When Kristeva declined to say who she would vote for, Glucksmann screamed from the floor: ‘We have finally got there! Control of party cards, of loyalty to the party. Here’s why we already need to be dissenting in France … the gulag has already begun.’ On that shrill note – which confirmed the nouveaux philosophes in their self-aggrandizing identification with the figure of the ‘dissident’, despite the fact that the context provided far more rewards than dangers to those claiming it – Paris entrenched itself, in Perry Anderson’s phrase, as ‘the capital of European intellectual reaction’.

This performance was received with some fanfare in the Anglo- American press. Time magazine, introducing the ‘new philosophers’ to its readership, borrowed the title of Jean-Marie Benoist’s 1970 book, declaring: ‘Marx Is Dead’. The Washington Post enthused about the ‘gorgeous’, ‘olive-toned and prominently boned’ Bernard-Henri Lévy. The Economist hailed ‘Those magnificent Marx-haters’. Ronald Reagan even paid tribute ‘the so-called new philosophers in France’ in his address to the UK parliament on promoting democracy, cherishing their ‘rejection of the arbitrary power of the state, [their] refusal to subordinate the rights of the individual to the superstate, [their] realization that collectivism stifles all the best human impulses.’

As Kristin Ross has argued, there was more in this movement than simply a rejection of any form of emancipatory politics beyond the confines of liberal democracy: it was also a reassertion of Eurocentrism against the Third Worldist sympathies that had helped to stimulate leftist revolt in the West at a time of relative economic stability. The ex-gauchiste, Pascal Bruckner, ridiculed Frantz Fanon’s ‘plea to “go beyond” Europe … It is impossible to “go beyond” democracy. If the peoples of the Third World are to become themselves, they must become more Western.’ Naturally, with this came a plea to abandon Western ‘guilt’, as if anti-imperialist critique was simply a form of self-flagellation. In his 1982 book Tears of the White Man, Bruckner affirmed: ‘Europe is our destiny, our lot. More than ever, we develop as individuals through the respect of its borders, its traditions, and its territorial integrity.’ Bernard-Henri Lévy argued that the ‘turning towards the Third World’ that French intellectuals experienced during the Algerian war involved intense ‘hatred of Europe’, something which could be divined by one’s support for the Black Panthers, for example. Israel, by contrast, had embodied ‘democracy and European values’ from its inception.

Ironies abound here: it could conceivably be argued that destroying a population, driving it from its territory by means of massacres, and engaging in continuous expansionist aggression in the name of creating an ethno-nationalist state is a fundamentally European value (one could call it ‘Herrenvolk democracy’); and there may indeed be something about the Black Panthers that grates against ‘European values’. But this hardly commends the ‘values’ that Lévy exhorts us to treasure. In an age of officially ‘socialist’ states proliferating across the world, following national liberation struggles, anti-communism could shade quite easily into anti–Third Worldism, as in Maurice Clavel’s 1976 evocation of the ‘yellow peril’: ‘with the elimination of the Cultural Revolution figures and the ongoing Sino-Soviet reconciliation, a billion robots are already resting their weight on the Elbe. Those two billion eyes blinking, or rather not blinking …’ Kristin Ross writes that the ‘accession to political subjectivity of “the wretched of the earth”’ had disrupted the master-narrative of the Cold War, in which liberalism was the sole appropriate alternative to the Soviet Union, and thus had to be revised.

One form of revisionism was to behave as if the committed anticolonial and anti-imperialist dimensions of the movement had never existed: thus, Bernard Kouchner, the current foreign minister of France, reduces his Maoist days to a period of ‘navel-gazing’ puerility. Only after his radicalism was aborted did he discover ‘the third world’ (even though he had himself travelled to Cuba in 1960 to interview Che Guevara). Another was to excise the agency of the Third World itself, as during the colonial epoch, subordinating it instead to a rights discourse. Kouchner is after all a pioneer in the business of ‘humanitarian intervention’, as a co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), formed in 1971 from a fusion between the Groupe d’Intervention Médicale et Chirurgicale en Urgence, and the Secours Médical Français. The organization was to extend the ethic of solidarity into the business of humanitarian aid.

However, Kouchner left MSF in 1979 to form a break-away organization called Médecins Du Monde. The occasion for this was a campaign to help rescue the ‘Boat People’ – a flood of refugees fleeing repression in Indochina – called ‘A Boat for Vietnam’. This boat would bring doctors to offer treatment to the sick or wounded, and a number of journalists to bear witness. If some considered this approach excessively media driven, it was only the accentuation of an already existing trend. Médecins Du Monde later developed the doctrine of the ‘right to intervene’, a doctrine which was outlined in 1987 by Kouchner and his associate Mario Betatti in front of the Socialist President Mitterrand and the conservative Prime Minister Chirac, thus gaining bipartisan support for it. To the argument that victims had a right to humanitarian assistance was added the stipulation that the state had an obligation to help provide it. With Kouchner in the cabinet from 1988 to 1993 – first as minister for humanitarian action, then as minister for health and humanitarian action – the consensus was sealed.

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IsraHell hearts apartheid South Africa (how they miss those glory days)

NOVANEWS

 

Daniel Blatman, Haaretz:

 

The historical background of the Israeli apartheid state-in-the-making that is emerging before our eyes should be sought in 1967. It is part of a process that has been going on for about 44 years: What started as rule over another people has gradually ripened – especially since the latter part of the 1970s – into a colonialism that is nurturing a regime of oppression and discrimination with regard to the Palestinian population. It is robbing that population of its land and of its basic civil rights, and is encouraging a minority group (the settlers ) to develop a crude, violent attitude toward the Arabs in the territories. This was exactly the reality that, after many years, led to the establishment of the apartheid state in South Africa.

In her book “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” Hannah Arendt draws a sharp picture of the process of the development of the society of racial segregation in South Africa, from the start of the Dutch Boer colonialist settlement there. Assumption of racial superiority – the subordination of the black population – was the only way the “whites” could adjust to life in the midst of that race. The nurturance of feelings of racial supremacy, to which were added the belief in cultural superiority and the justification for economic exploitation – these are what, in a decades-long process, gave rise to the need to anchor this situation in proper legislation.

Israeli racism, whose natural “hothouse” is the colonialist project in the territories, has long since spilled over into Israeli society and has been legitimized in the series of laws recently passed in the Knesset. Only people who avoid looking at the broad historical context of such a process are still able to believe it is possible to stop the emergence of an Israeli apartheid state without getting rid of the colonialist-racist grip on the territories.

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Goldstone: An act of negligence

NOVANEWS
by NOURA ERAKAT

 

In the wake of a monumental victory in the human rights community to move the Goldstone Report out of the Human Rights Council (HRC) to the General Assembly where it can be underpinned by actionable follow up, Justice Richard Goldstone’s recent editorial makes some human rights practitioners wish it had been left to languish in the HRC.

Goldstone sought to do two things in his op-ed: to amend the record by stating that Israel’s attacks may not have been deliberate and second, to emphasise Hamas’s culpability under the laws of war. In the best case scenario, Goldstone’s intervention is a problematic attempt to cajole Israel to participate in the international process for accountability.

However, even in that case, the editorial is counterproductive, short-sighted, and casts Goldstone’s attempts as no less than curious.

Just last week, I had the chance to speak to Goldstone at Stanford Law School where I participated in a debate on the report featuring him as a discussant.

Goldstone seemed struck by recent revelations made in Israel’s investigation of itself that its murder of 29 civilians in the Sammouni home, where approximately 120 civilians had taken refuge, was the result of negligence and not a deliberate attack.

He emphasised that had Israel participated in the investigatory process rather than boycott it, it would have been able to contest the mission’s findings before the report’s release thereby correcting its alleged bias.

He echoes this sentiment in his op-ed where he writes:

I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.

Goldstone should have known better: on the one hand, he accepts Israel’s investigatory findings at face value notwithstanding the Independent Committee of Experts’ conclusions that they are structurally flawed and unlikely to yield effective measures of accountability and justice.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, Goldstone takes for granted that Israel preemptively rejected the report precisely because the mission treated Hamas evenhandedly rather than dismiss it as a terrorist organisation whose annihilation is justified by any means necessary.

That is why it should come as no surprise that rather than respond to his proclamations with a renewed faith in international legal mechanisms, Israel’s staunchest allies are opportunistically characterising Goldstone’s editorial as an attitudinal shift towards Israel in the West while its prime minister has called on the UN to retract the report all together.

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Palestine: They came, they saw….


…..and now it’s time to act

 

By Dr Franklin Lamb

Shatila Camp, Beirut

 

 

The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), in partnership with the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) sponsored a delegation of British  and EU MEPs to the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon several weeks ago and the 10 member delegation has just released their findings.

It was a quick 48-hour trip filled with tightly scheduled briefing, mainly from Lebanese politicians, including President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister designate Najib Miqati as well as UNRWA officials, some Palestinian civil society organizations. In addition, the delegation visited refugees in Burj  Barajneh, Nahr al Bared and Shatila Refugee camps.

Sir Gerald Kaufman, who led the delegation, told the Lebanese media:  “When I went to Gaza in 2010 I thought I had seen the worst that could be seen of the appalling predicament of Palestinians living in conditions which no human being should be expected to endure. But what I saw in the camps in Lebanon is far worse and far more hopeless.”

From the Lebanese politicians, the visitors like other delegations before them, heard basically the same vague support for Palestinian civil rights that they have been repeating for more than 20 years.

Typical were the words of Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman who explained to the delegation that: “Lebanon does not have the capacity to absorb 400,000 people; we simply cannot offer them a good life. The truth is that we will not see peace in the Middle East without the implementation of the refugees’ right of return.”

Of course the Lebanese Presidents presentation obscures the central issue almost completely.  Suleiman’s 400,000 Palestinian refugees, is a bit more accurate than some other politicians who use the scare tactic bogey figure of 500,000.  In fact there are close to 250,000 Palestinians remaining in Lebanon and they are not seeking to be “absorbed” or even presented by Lebanon with “a good life”, as Suleiman and others mistakenly and regularly aver.  All they and the international community demand is that Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees be granted the elementary civil rights that all refugees everywhere are entitled to.  Most urgently, the right to work and to own a home.

The Lebanese politicians are correct that it’s also an international problem and Lebanon has never been asked to shoulder the whole burden, but rather to do its part by granting the internationally mandated elementary civil rights.  For the past 63 years Lebanon has shirked its duty.

Almost without exception the brief  Lebanese presentations included ‘escape clauses’  absolving one or another of the 18 Lebanese confessions from responsibility and explaining why the particular party represented in the briefing really wanted to alleviate the “Perpetual Hell” of the quarter million Palestinian refugees packed into 12 “official camps”  and twice that many informal “gatherings.”  But, as they explained to their guests, there exists a laundry list of reasons why the simple act of allowing Palestinians in Lebanon the full right to work and to own a home should not be expected anytime soon.

The Parliamentary delegation heard nothing that countless visitors have not heard before. But the importance of their visit was that they came at all, learned quickly about many more details of this human tragedy and what needs to be done than they explained they were previously unaware of, and that to a member, they vowed to do something about it upon return to their countries.

As British journalist and photographer,Stuart Littlewood remindsus, the  delegations report once more shines light on binding international treaties and conventions that recognize the right to return, including the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the  International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discriminationand the  International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

The right of return for refugees is guaranteed under Humanitarian and Human Rights Lawincluding international customary law with incorporates the 1952 Refugee Convention even though Lebanon has to date declined to sign it. Also applicable to granting Palestinian refugees in Lebanon elementary civil rights are countless UN resolutions.

The members of the delegation pledged that that they will work with their governments to assist Lebanon with granting the internationally mandated civil right to work and to own a home.

The European MP’s visit was refreshing and a welcome break from the stream of American officials and Congressman who visit Lebanon without visiting Palestinian camps and whose main work recently has been to threaten Lebanese politicians to tow the US line and oppose the Lebanese national resistance while being ever vigilant not to antagonize Israel.  The delegation made clear that Israel is the main culprit that caused today’s humanitarian crisis but Lebanon’s new government, when formed, must act without further delay to grant civil rights to her refugees.

The Parliamentary delegation made the following findings of fact”

• The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are victims many times over and they are still denied access to their homeland.
• They are the victims of Lebanon’s civil wars and the numerous Israeli
invasions and occupation.
• They are victims of the unwillingness of the international community to
secure justice and the unwillingness of the Lebanese authorities to grant
them their basic human rights.

Among the delegations recommendations relevant to Lebanon, and which are nearly identical to the findings of more than two dozen workshops and conferences and three dozen studies of the subject over the past two decades:

• The international community, including Israel, is responsible for guaranteeing the rights of Palestinian refugees and providing them with protection.
• While Lebanon and many members of the United Nations offer appropriate
rhetoric, this must be matched with concrete steps to tangibly improve the lives of the refugees in Lebanon and put an end to the catastrophic conditions in which they live.
• An appropriate solution is needed that restores and protects the human rights of the refugees, including their right to return to their land.
• In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees have a status that falls far short of even second class citizenship. This should be corrected without delay.
• As Israel has shown no inclination to respect the rights of Palestinian refugees under international law, it is incumbent on the international community to enforce a resolution.
• The European Union and its member states, including the United Kingdom, should significantly increase their funding to UNRWA to allow the agency to fulfill its remit.
• Negotiators, politicians and activists should ensure that Palestinian refugees remain at the center of all peace talks.
• Lebanon’s position on the refugees is woefully inadequate. The 17th August 2010 law should be implemented immediately as a first step to normalizing the lives of Palestinian refugees by improving human, civil and property rights and lifting restrictions on the professions available to Palestinians.

On housing, all restrictions that limit the right to adequate housing for Palestinians should be removed, including any legislation that discriminates against Palestinians who are not officially citizens of a recognized state. A degree of security of tenure should be guaranteed and restrictions on bringing building materials into refugee camps should be removed, including the fines or penalties imposed on Palestinians for attempting to make their homes habitable.

As regards the environment, minimum levels of sanitation and access to clean water for all Palestinian refugees should be ensured.

As regards employment, restrictions on Palestinian access to all professions should be
lifted and the process of obtaining work permits eased.

As regards education, Lebanon should ensure that all children under its jurisdiction have access to education equal to that enjoyed by Lebanese nationals.

As regards non-ID refugees, their status in Lebanon should be regularized and refugees provided with identification documents.

With the new incoming government there and is every reason, opportunity and ability for Lebanon to meet its obligations and earn the respect of all countries and people of good will.  Against the backdrop of the great Arab Awakening of 2011 Lebanon can also help propel their unwanted guests back to their own country, Palestine.

Lebanon needs the help of human rights activist worldwide, including the hundreds of bloggers who write eloquently on the subject without really affecting the lives of those who most need their solidarity and support. If these activists would become involved with the issue of Palestinian civil rights in Lebanon in their countries by urging their governments to insist that Lebanon apply international humanitarian laws to Palestinian refugees who today remain forced to live in seemingly interminable misery, this problem can be solved without more delay.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Palestine: They came, they saw….

TERRY JONES: A DIFFERENT DRONE ATTACK

NOVANEWS

 

By Brig Samson S Sharaf


 

Nothing could have hurt the interests and interfaith bridges of the minority Christians in Muslim majority countries more than this new guise of a Drone.  It is ironic that a country built on the humanitarian values accrued from the American Civil War has plummeted to a low which does not respect human life, beliefs and values so long as it is invisible to its domestic audience; to the contrary, a country that fails to reign its own radicals in the name of human rights.

USA represents a country on a high on global domination be it policy, military strategy, economics, society and religion. It is this ultimate objective that puts its diversity together and helps selective exploitation to meet these ends. US could not care less if churches in the Muslim Crescent are burnt, ransacked; or foreigners killed in Afghanistan as reaction to a heinous crime committed by Terry Jones; leading a small cult rather than representing a religion that professes love and peace as its main teachings.

The power juggernaut that it has become, US global policy of dominance has resulted in making all corners of the world restive.  The US that was, has since departed from its policy of pluralism and egalitarianism to liberalism that exploits its own interests. It is a pity that a country that once stood and fought a civil war for the human dignity and that is built around diversity, is now responsible to kindle hatred built around apathy of other denominations/religions particularly Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam.

Like the main US power houses that behold power and influence, its evolving religious values also represent these aspirations in tandem. Unlike the European Nationalism of the 19th/20thCentury, the Nation-State of USA has since been overtaken by its jingo-liberalism wherein a coterie of very strong individuals and corporate exercise the ultimate in policy making. Consequently, this liberalism has also encouraged to minimise the hold that the mainstream Catholic and Protestant Churches have over the society thereby encouraging the mushrooming of nuclear churches that abhor Canonical Laws and charter their own interpretations and prophesies.  By default or otherwise, USA implements its policy on two opposites i.e. the strength of diversity within and a knack to stir a hornet’s nest abroad to keep the world destabilised.

A large portion of the growing evangelical churches in USA centre on individuals with cultish outlook; the Modernist evangelicals, a small minority with low levels of church attendance, and much more diversity in their beliefs intensified by the rise of the electronic media to claim instant notoriety. Despite the fact that this mushrooming appears a reaction to the exclusion of religion in state policy drifting towards secularism, much of the foreign policy and global dominance policy of the past 50 years alludes to the support the state gets from this lobby. These religionists believe that that America is indeed a millennial nation and perceive it as the harbinger of the perfect 1,000-year reign of God. For them the 21st Century is the beginning and coincides with the US global ambitions. Unfortunately, this penchant is incendiary than creative; that make these hate spewing and cultish denominations like the Dove World Outreach Centre a cause of public and international concern.

As Dr. Frank K. Flinn writes that this millennialism has contributed untold variety to the lively experiment of religion in America. Without a doubt, American preachers continue to espouse a healthy-minded apocalyptic faith with a paranoid style in politics. In his opinion, it is most distressing that the present day apocalypticism has the ever-increasing tendency to materialize the dense and symbolic language of the Bible as minions of the beast. Most often they refer to the Catholic Church and its papacy as the whore of Babylon or to defy the Bible by allowing Hollywood to produce films like ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ and the ‘Da Vinci Code’, blasphemous and banned in Pakistan.

What Dr. Frank has not written, is the tailspin this millennialism could land the world in, with regards to Islam and the strong faith Christians that coexists within it for centuries. US evangelist keen to spread their ideology and to destroy Babylon to which the whore belongs, ignore the fact that Iraq was one country where Christians and Muslims had peacefully coexisted on the basis of equality for hundreds of years. After the US invasion, over 400,000 Christians have already left while many more live in perpetual fear. Much like the countryside Iraq, the interfaith bridges and harmony between Muslims and Christians has been destroyed in. Terry Jones now expands this threat to Christians from Ethiopia to the Straits of Malacca putting this Interfaith Bridge to extreme testing.  USA could care less for indigenous Christians, if this destabilisation serves to promote UN sanctioned military interventions in the region for global domination of resources.

Cults and millennial movements have from time to time caused shocking events such as mass suicides. James Warren known as Jim Jones, the founder and leader of the Peoples Templewas responsible for the mass suicide on November 18, 1978 of more than 900 Americans that included a Congressman. In 1997, 39 members of the “Heaven’s Gate” organization committed suicide together in an event designed to coincide with the arrival of the Hale- Bopp comet. Unnoticed, many such cults discriminate and harass Muslims, Jews and Christians seen as the anti Christ all over USA. With the availability of the electronic media, they have global reach spewing venom and hate in traditionally tolerant societies.

On its part the mainstream Christian Churches have acted in unison within themselves and their Muslim brothers to condemn the incident.

The Vatican reacted by saying that terrorism cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community and that very religion has the right to respect and protection. “Everything he is doing here is a violation of the Gospel,” declared Rev. Ed Rowe of Detroit’s Central United Methodist Church USA while Rev. Charles Williams, Sr. of King Solomon Church USA said that too many barriers had been torn down, and that we love Muslims, we love Jews. We love all God-fearing people. Jones own daughter claimed the church abused its members. She told the Gainesville Sun in 2009 that she spoke out “with the hope of helping others leave what she calls a ‘cult’ that ‘forced us with oppression to be obedient.”

Christian Church Leaders all over Pakistan joined their Muslim Brothers in condemning this high blasphemous act through rallies, press conferences and media appearance. They declared that self styled preachers and cults like Terry Jones were neither Christians nor represented the Catholic values of love and respect.

It is time that the USA and its States enact and implement laws to control these religious cults and showmen. We Pakistanis of Christian faith denounce the blasphemous and incendiary act of Terry Jones and demand of the US legislators and UN Security council to take cognizance of it in the best interests of all faiths and declare such acts equivalent to crimes against humanity.

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Arab People Win Freedom

NOVANEWS

 

“When a people turn to Allah, surely, Allah’s help comes rushing to them”


Mahboob A. Khawaja, Ph.D.

 

 

Across the Arab world, tragic scenes unravel inspiring human struggle for freedom – police shooting on peaceful protesters at random, massive deaths, degradation of human life, disruption of social and economic activities, and cries of “Allah –o- Akbar – God is Great” and “La Illa ILLulaha – there is no god but God.”  Unthinkable and unexpected as it was to the Arab neo-colonial ruling elite, mostly uneducated, devoid of reason and intellectual foresight and being  unable to THINK right, to know and understand the concerns of the masses- the typical sinking behavior to blame others, not being able to see the authoritarian self in the mirror as the crux of the problems.  The people’s revolutionary movements generate great deal of sensation and dramatic effects on the Western TV screens.  Sometime the Western entertaining news media calls it “unrest” or “uprising” befitting to its economic and political interests but in reality are the people’s movements for freedom from the yoke of imperialism.

The Western military-industrial institutionalized complex needed oil to sustain convenient materialistic life and capitalism, the neo-colonial Arab rulers were the best planned scheme of things to deliver the goodies to the West in return for security alliances and military hardware and protection. Under the Western sponsored authoritarianism, the Arab people were the direct object of oppression and enslavement for decades. Their pains and agonies were public knowledge but lived in denials as do the Palestinian under continued Israeli occupation. If the Palestinians could re-organize themselves under intelligent and proactive new leadership, they should be able to deal with Israel and negotiate a peaceful resolution of the problem.

The Western thinking people failed to realize that the Arab people were also human beings with similar interests, perceptions and goals for freedom and much deserving human dignity. Change has come on its own as part of the natural process but not out of the planned sketches neither of the Western mythologists nor of the Arab intellectuals. Throughout the Arab anarchy based governance, paid intellectuals aligned themselves with the establishments and dictators. The Arab political intellectuals turned out to be worst and useless than being indifferent and ignorant of the prevalent facts of human affairs craving for political change. The political change has streamlined itself from the thoughts and sacrifices of the ordinary folks. Abduaziza was an ordinary street cart vendor in Tunisia, not a political activist; he challenged the corrupt police women and died. His death triggered the societal reaction against the age-old atrocities of the political corruption. In matter of days and weeks, Tunisia is a different and free land and people. Wael Ghonim – the Egyptian Facebook revolutionary spent weeks in police custody, blindfolded, tortured and abused for nothing except that he wanted to communicate freely with his own people to foster peaceful change. Given the focus mind and its objectivity, “when a people turn to Allah, surely, Allah’s help comes rushing to them.”

Like all the Arab rulers imposed by the Western masters, Hosni Mubarak was paranoid and vengeful, how dare anyone challenge his forty years of dictatorship. After the people’s success in Tunisia and Egypt, other Arab neo-colonial rulers are suspicious and uncertain about their continuity and effectiveness to dictate the masses. The realities on the ground are changing fast at a super express speed. After people’ success in Tunisia and Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen are the latest developing stories of prospective change and reformation of the old regimes. For over sixty years, the Arab rulers ignored the interests and priorities of the masses, only to perpetuate a family-based powerhouse to institutionalize oppression. The petro-dollars revenues conspired to make ‘modernity’ as the goal of prosperity replacing Islam as the values of the Arabian lives. Corruption bred fear and hatred and deprived the people of their moral and intellectual values to think of positive change.

This scheme of things included elaborative secret service intelligence establishments planned and trained by the Western countries such as the United States, Britain, France and others. The single most institution that kept the despotic Arab rulers in office and prolonged the opportunities for change. The end-users oil importing nations were part of the decade-old tortures and inhuman behavior going-on in the oil producing Arab countries. The rulers could not have done it on their own except by the hired mercenaries from these nations. The Arab rulers used consumerism to forge economic prosperity without planning to develop the human resources and intellect for change. To them, this was a success but in reality achieved at the cost of ruthless dictatorship ignoring the importance of Islamic system of life and values and a materialistic success leading to degeneration of the Islamically civilized people. The rulers slipped into vices and ruins leading to political cruelty and viciousness of the authoritarian system of governance. In the process, the Arab people lost the power of thinking and urge for change and challenge to oppression. The cheap oil supplies continued to flow without disruption to the much needed Western industrial markets and capitalism flourished.

Now, the Arab people have revitalized their inborn power of THINKING as believers, and interwoven passion and goals of the natural identity of being what they are and where they are, can THINK and imagine a new world for the future. They are organized and united as one force, one people to articulate a new world of freedom, participation and democracy. The people have come out of the institutionalized secret police fear and hatred, it is open in demonstrations on the streets, in villages, in shopping malls, in people squares, the voices of the people are loud and clear that the egomaniac leaders must go and go for ever, there is no place for complacency, the Arab people want freedom from exploitation and consumer-based foreign slavery. Guns and bullets can not silence the voices of reason and human conscience, if suppressed, louder they will become.  The Arab dictators have stolen people’s fortunes, they must be held accountable for their crimes and punished. Most of the stolen wealth is kept in the Western financial institutions. It is incumbent upon the Western nations to be vigilant and responsible that such resources are returned to the rightful people across the Arab world.

There is no nationalism as was in Europe, and there is no glorification of the state as did Hitler, Mussolini and other European leaders. The ex-colonial master did encouraged the Arab rulers to invent new national borders, anthems, flags and concept of nation states as they wanted to divide and rule the Arab masses and undermine Islam and its culture and civilization. Islam develops and embraces the unity of diverse humanity as One, One people and One Ummah equal in rights, human dignity and status before God. Western mythologists face a serious challenge. It is more of intellectual nature than anything else. With all the knowledge and technology-governed information age, they failed to see the people revolution emerging in the Arab world.

The Western intellectual never thought of the Arab people as mature and intelligent enough to challenge the ruthless rulers against their wishes. History provides opportunities to all to take serious notice of the contemporary developments and learn from the current events shaping overwhelming people’s movement for a new Arab world of unity and purpose. The change is not against any Western nations but it is part of the people-oriented governance that should have happened several decades earlier. One must realize that the Western sponsored economic prosperity in the Arab world had tragic consequences because it denied human involvement and rational importance to develop human thinking and abilities for change and development. The self-sustained Western intellectuals face a critical challenge of perception and adaptation to the emerging new Arab world enriched with people of reason, intellect and reality to do business on equal terms.

Across the Arab world, political change is not without insurmountable challenges. The THINKING People- the HUB of the Arab social and intellectual bank must take notice of the developing events and plan and organize new institutions, encourage Muslim scholars and proactive visionary intellectuals to share ideas and ideals for maximizing the outcomes from these changes on the ground. They should pool resources to plan and develop new and innovative methods and alternatives to avoid future mishaps of dictatorial governance. The essence of time speaks for itself, time and opportunities lost are never regained.

There are serious tasks and priorities ahead to be dealt with in rebuilding the national infrastructures and viable systems of democratic and participatory governance. Change is much needed by rejecting and opposing the authoritarianism and will be much useful when it can be transformed into concrete actions and actions are implemented to the best interests of the people. Those charged with planning and managing these tasks, must know their strengths and weaknesses and pool the resources for the best utilization and services to the people. God has promised success and glory to those who will strive in His path and establish Islam as the object of success. The striving Arab people are on that promising track to regain the Divine favor for their long overdue freedom and success.

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