Archive | January 13th, 2013

SOCIALIST WORKER ANTI-SYRIA ZIONIST PROPAGANDA

NOVANEWS

No end to Syria war, says Assad

by Siân Ruddick

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria sent a defiant message to the opposition last Sunday in his first public speech in six months.

He told a cheering crowd of soldiers and loyal supporters that, “Syria accepts advice, but not orders.” He rejected calls for negotiation.

The Syrian revolt, and now what is widely described as a civil war, has been raging for 21 months. The mass protests that became the hallmark of the Arab Spring have given way to an armed rebellion by ordinary people and soldiers defected from the state army.

Neighbourhoods have faced a bloody campaign of shelling, snipers and violent militias unleashed by Assad’s regime. The United Nations believes 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The revolt, and Assad’s response to it, have caused divisions among world leaders. US foreign policy has been thrown into disarray.

Just hours after Assad’s speech in the centre of Damascus huge gunfights started in the area. The security forces had “swept” the area in preparation for his speech but failed to hold rebel militias at bay.

An estimated 600,000 Syrian refugees are seeking shelter in neighbouring countries or have been displaced within Syria. This is a rise of more than 100,000 in the last month alone.

A riot broke out in a refugee camp in Zaatari on Tuesday of this week. A state of emergency has been declared after wind and torrential rain felled tents. A blizzard is forecast to hit the area this week.

The blame for this tragedy is laid firmly at the feet of Assad and his murderous regime. Great danger lies ahead if the US becomes further involved.

Yet attempts to set up a Western-backed front have so far backfired as they lack credibility on the ground. The popular struggle of people in Syria can bring the regime down.

 


What is role of Turkey?

Revolutions in the Arab world are going to shift the regional balance of forces. Amid these transformations Turkey, like other regional powers, is trying to win more influence in Middle Eastern politics.

Turkey is very keen that a new regime in Syria would favour a larger Turkish role. Turkey has many interests to preserve—the issue of Kurdish national rights is one of the most important.

The Turkish ruling class also wants a larger share of trade and oil deals. It hopes to make itself essential for agreements and relations between European and US forces and Middle Eastern countries.

This would guarantee Turkey a much stronger position when dealing with the West itself.

Bassem Chit

 

READ MORE:

 

 

Ranks of the Socialist Workers Party are split over handling of rape allegation

Socialist Worker Lies and Deceit

SWP’s Tom Walker: Why I am resigning

 

What does the SWP’s way of dealing with sex assault allegations tell us about the left?

 

 

 

 

Posted in Politics, SyriaComments Off on SOCIALIST WORKER ANTI-SYRIA ZIONIST PROPAGANDA

Socialist Worker Lies and Deceit

NOVANEWS

Julian Assange must face rape charges, not US revenge

 

by Tom Walker

Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder being protected by the Ecuadorian embassy in London, appeared on a low balcony last Sunday to make a speech. He seemed to be almost mocking the British police, who could not touch him.

Among other things, he talked about the case of Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of leaking state secrets to him. “If Bradley Manning did as he is accused, he is a hero, an example to all of us and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners,” Assange said. He is right about that.

Bradley, 24, has now spent more than 800 days behind bars without trial in military prison. For much of the time he has been in solitary confinement for 23 to 24 hours a day and denied clothes and blankets at night.

“You can hear Bradley coming from a long way away because of the chains,” David House, a friend who visits him, has said. “His feet have chains on them, they go to a leather belt around his waist,” he adds. “His hands go into them and he has no free movement of his hands.”

There are 22 charges against Bradley, including “aiding the enemy”. This is what the US state wants to do to people who cross it—people like Julian Assange whose Wikileaks website exposed US war crimes.

The case of Assange himself, however, is far more problematic than that of Manning. He has been granted asylum by Ecuador to avoid being extradited to Sweden for arrest and questioning over accusations by two women of rape and sexual assault. He said he feared extradition to the US.

Assange and some of his supporters have refused to take the rape allegations seriously. His own lawyers have endorsed conspiracy theories calling the women a “honeytrap”. Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino even disgustingly called the accusations “hilarious”.

Lectures

But the British authorities are hardly in a position to give lectures. Just this week it was revealed that the Metropolitan police’s rape unit, Sapphire, has seen the number of cases reported to it drop as victims have lost confidence in it.

If this was solely about rape, the police would likely be ignoring it. Instead we have seen Tory foreign secretary William Hague threaten to ignore international law and storm the embassy.

He said Britain could use an obscure law to revoke its diplomatic status and raid it. For their side, there is clearly something more in play. That something is Wikileaks.

Assange and his organisation have repeatedly pulled the US tiger by the tail. From the Afghanistan “Collateral Murder” video to the war logs and the cables, they have angered the imperial superpower.

We know that Assange faces a secret “sealed indictment” in the US, and a grand jury has been convened against Wikileaks. The indictment was revealed in leaks from US intelligence firm Stratfor. Many witnesses called to the grand jury have blown the whistle in the media.

Extraditions from Britain are possible, but difficult, as shown by the case of alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon. Sweden has a far more compliant record.

It would be a huge victory for the US to have Julian Assange in a cell next to Bradley Manning. That cannot be allowed to happen.

The rape accusations should never be trivialised or brushed aside. But if the Swedish authorities were serious about investigating them, they would guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to the US. That could clear the way for him to face his accusers.

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on Socialist Worker Lies and Deceit

SWP’s Tom Walker: Why I am resigning

NOVANEWS

Tom Walker, (now former) Socialist Worker journalist, argues that the time has come to leave the SWP

Martin Smith: cause of much controversy

The Socialist Workers Party is in deep crisis – as it has been for several months now. The reason is simple: an allegation of rape against Martin Smith, the then central committee member now referred to on some parts of the internet as comrade Delta, and the way it was handled by the party.

This case, as several speakers at conference noted, was in reality the sole reason for the four expulsions in the run-up to conference, the sole reason for the formation of two factions, and the sole reason for the split in the CC which resulted in an alternative slate being put to the conference, removing two CC members who had attempted to challenge the way the case was handled.

After much reflection, I have decided the immediate aftermath also means that I have no option other than to resign not just from the paper, but from the party, and encourage others to do likewise.

Before I go any further, I want to say that I will not be discussing any details of the case itself whatsoever, either here or privately. Indeed, I do not know them. I know little more than what was reported to SWP conference, which later unfortunately appeared on the internet. I will not be quoting from that document.

However, I believe that what I know is more than enough to come to some unavoidable conclusions, and the fact that the transcript has been so widely circulated – to the point where every member is facing friends outside the party, in their workplaces and campaigns, asking them about it – makes it impossible to remain silent any longer about what those are.

I will, as the conference session did, refer to some of the awful processes used to hear the case, but – and this is absolutely vital – only the processes. The CC will likely issue a response saying that this violates confidentiality and is a disgrace, but surely the real problem is that the case ever happened in the first place and that it has been allowed by the leadership to develop into a crisis in this way. I believe that what delegates on all sides said within the conference was scrupulous about respecting the confidentiality of the case itself and not for a moment prying into the details of the woman’s testimony, otherwise I would never write something like this.

I will argue four main things:

  •   The disputes committee should never have been allowed to investigate and rule on a rape accusation, under any circumstances, period. The case should have been investigated by authorities competent to do so. The disputes committee’s extra-legal nature means its finding that this comrade is innocent is meaningless. One person, even on this committee stacked in his favour, believes sexual harassment at least is likely.
  •   Leftwing parties are institutions that exist within our current society, and they need to put an analysis of gender and power relations at the absolute heart of their structures to avoid replicating that society’s problems. Moreover, a lack of democracy inside left organisations is not just a big political issue, but plays a role in enabling abusive behaviour. Having a good record and theory on women’s liberation turns out to be little defence against this.
  •   The CC’s determination to ‘draw a line’ under the discussion, to the extent of banning all further mention of it on pain of expulsion, I believe makes it nigh-on impossible to ‘stay and fight’ within the organisation for any sensible interpretation of these events or concrete reforms to the structures to make sure it does not happen again. To stay in the party now means to keep your head down and try to live with yourself.
  •   For this reason, and because of the incredibly damaging publicity around the case, the party has become no longer fit for its stated purpose. It will surely be unable to attract or hold new recruits. I do not believe anyone sensible will ever join it again. We must think again about our methods of organisation on the left. I propose a few outlines of my thinking, but I am very open to others’ views.

I will now explore these points in more detail.

Kangaroo court

The disputes committee hearing – and by extension the entire mess that followed – should simply never have happened. To be honest, it is nothing short of incredible that it was allowed to go ahead. What right does the party have to organise its very own ‘kangaroo court’ investigation and judgment over such serious allegations against a leading member? None whatsoever.

Of course, I am dead set against the capitalist police and courts, and the way they treat people. That doesn’t mean we can go off and set up our own. The SWP itself called for Julian Assange to face rape charges in Sweden, in a Socialist Worker article I am proud to have written.1

I do not see why what is good enough for Assange is not good enough for the party’s leaders.

It is stated that the accuser did not want to go to the police, as is her absolute right if that was truly her decision. However, knowing the culture of the SWP, I doubt that was a decision she made entirely free from pressure.

Do not underestimate the pressure the SWP can bring to bear on members by telling them to do or not do things for the ultimate cause of the socialist society the party’s members are all fighting for. Against the prospect of the liberation of the whole of humanity, they will attempt to make even the most serious issue seem less important than the party’s survival. I do not think the CC are cynical cultists, by the way – I think they believe this themselves.

Either way, respecting that wish not to involve the police does not excuse what the party did next. The disputes committee’s project of amateur justice was doomed from the start, with the questions asked unintentionally reflecting the worst practices of the police and courts. The people involved have spoken about the immense distress and traumatisation caused.

I would add that I worry about conference delegates as well after that session. As more than one comrade said, they had never seen so many people in tears as there were in that room.

For many it will have come as a real bolt from the blue. Despite working at the party centre myself, I was under the impression that, yes, we were in for a challenge to the disputes committee, but that we were facing a row primarily about expulsions and democracy. Though some other party workers were getting involved in a faction, I felt it best to maintain a sort of journalistic distance.

In the session itself, my reaction was one of simple, visceral disgust. I was shaking. I still am. I did not know what to do. I walked out of the building in a daze. It is over the last few days of reflecting, and seeing the strong responses to the case from people inside and outside the organisation, that I have come to my conclusions.

Meaningless verdict

From the fact that the disputes committee is not a court flows the fact that, while it found the comrade not guilty of rape and that sexual harassment was “not proven”, those verdicts are utterly meaningless. Sitting in the hall, that was too easy to forget.

The disputes committee says we have not heard the evidence or details. That is true, and nor should we. Yet they admit that the only evidence they themselves heard was two straightforwardly conflicting accounts of what happened – one from the accuser and one from the accused. We do not know why they believed the accused.

As those who raised criticisms pointed out, the disputes committee included five current or former CC members, and all have known comrade Smith for many years. Though I believe they took the case deeply seriously, this was not a jury of his peers, but a jury of his mates. If we were talking about any other organisation we would all consider it obvious that allowing it to investigate itself is unlikely to produce damning conclusions. It seems unlikely that a Wikileaks disputes committee, if it existed, would find Assange guilty.

We should also remember that even this committee had a minority of one, who has faced some very real abuse for his position that it is likely there was sexual harassment. It is not my place to argue one way or the other about either allegation, but one thing that cannot be argued with is that both allegations have not yet been investigated by anyone competent to do so.

I also wonder what on earth the disputes committee thought it was going to do if it found comrade Smith guilty. Expel him and send him on his way?

As others have noted, this DIY investigation will have corrupted the evidence, as well as traumatised the accuser too far for her to want to pursue the case by other means. I am absolutely convinced this traumatisation is very real, as I cannot believe that the issue would have played out the way it has otherwise. The internet may have read the transcript of what the woman comrade’s friends and allies said, but only those who were in the room will have heard the sheer anger with which the words were spoken. If we believe that she was traumatised, then logic dictates that it is very unlikely that the allegations are of no substance.

I really hope both the accusers are not further affected by my writing this, which is fundamentally about attempting to draw lessons from the disastrous process they were subjected to, to make sure it never happens again. From the moment this case became the subject of a faction fight and the leadership refused to row back, I believe the CC must shoulder the responsibility for a series of disastrous decisions that spawned all that has followed and will follow.

Power, sexism and the left

I want to move away for a moment from the process of this case and talk about some of the wider issues it raises. The allegations inside the SWP fit a bigger pattern which should lead us to question the left’s long-term theory and practice in this area.

We might consider a spectrum of misogynist behaviour by leaders of leftwing organisations, with George Galloway’s comments about rape at one end and the horrors of Gerry Healy at the other. You can argue about who else should be included on it – unfortunately it isn’t too hard to think of candidates.

Of course, as nothing is proven either way, we do not know if or where comrade Smith fits on that spectrum. Nevertheless, there is clearly a question mark over the sexual politics of many men in powerful positions on the left. I believe the root of this is that, whether through reputation, lack of internal democracy or both, these are often positions that are effectively unchallengeable. Not for nothing have recent sex abuse allegations in the wider world focused on the idea of a ‘culture of impunity’.

Socialist Worker has pointed to the way that institutions close up to protect powerful people within them. What is not acknowledged is that the SWP is itself an institution in this sense, with its instinct for self-protection to survive. As previously mentioned, its belief in its own world-historic importance gives a motive for an attempted cover-up, making abusers feel protected. Also, leaders are put into positions of power within an organisation with open recruitment but quite a closed culture, and this has a dramatic effect on any relationships that take place. Older male party leader with younger female party member is a triply unequal power relationship, and should be considered so.

That still does not account for how on earth an organisation that has such a good analysis of the way the police and courts effectively put the woman on trial in rape cases managed to replicate the state’s reactionary lines of questioning. How did it fail so badly to put its own politics into practice?

It may shed some light to learn that ‘feminism’ is used effectively as a swear word by the leadership’s supporters. This seems to be a legacy of a sharp political argument conducted decades ago against radical feminism and its separatist methods of organisation, but unfortunately it is being used today against young, militant anti-sexists coming into the party. In fact it is deployed against anyone who seems ‘too concerned’ about issues of gender. A group of women comrades who raised questions over whether the SWP has a sexism problem last year were quietly condemned by the leadership as “feminists”, and the CC has devoted much energy since to fighting this perceived scourge.

Marxist and feminist theory would surely agree, however, that in a sexist society, sexism is a constant danger in any organisation, no matter what its politics. The only way to deal with this is to not only fight hard against sexism at all times, but to accept that if any woman or group of women are not happy with their treatment, then the organisation has a problem, needs to look hard at it (and that is not “navel-gazing”) and needs to change, not claim that the issue does not exist or that the complainants are motivated by political differences.

This leads to an additional issue, which is that the issues of democracy and sexism are not separate, but inextricably linked – the lack of the first creates space for the second to grow, and makes it all the more difficult to root it out when it does. That is surely why people like Paris Thompson, a campaigner for more democracy in the SWP who had just published his own critique in the internal bulletin, were at the forefront of the fight against an attempted cover-up of the case.

Delegates to conference were handed a partial transcript of the Facebook conversation used as evidence to expel Paris and the other three comrades. The CC says it shows evidence of cross-branch coordination and is therefore “secret faction” activity. Yet what the document shows is not at all a group organising in pursuit of political differences – Paris explicitly says he is fighting over those separately – but people trying to make sure that the way the rape case was handled would be discussed properly at conference, not swept under the carpet.

From coordinating motions to party aggregates about the case, to making sure they were elected as delegates, what the four did was not in pursuit of their own agenda, but the agenda of ensuring these serious concerns were heard. Their reward for this, barring a Damascene conversion on appeal by that same disputes committee, is that they have been cast out of the SWP for life.

When you can’t draw a line

What has happened since the SWP conference at the weekend? Despite everything, the CC position is ‘draw a line under it and move on’. The opposition were also told to sign up to this or face expulsion. That applied as of the minute conference ended – and the leadership intends to enforce it.

The CC is shutting down all debate, on the pretext that it is about the rule that factions must dissolve after conference. Party workers are being spoken to individually, and if they refuse to give a guarantee that they will never so much as mention the case again, they are being told they must leave their party jobs. Some have already gone, others may be going as I write.

Meanwhile branches are being told that the criticisms of the disputes committee raised in conference will not be reported to them and cannot be discussed by any member, even in outline. At the behest of the CC, the Socialist Worker report of the conference does not even mention the disputes committee session. For one, this means that the reason behind the alternative CC slate is not explained at all.

Meanwhile, comrade Smith turned up in Hackney on the evening of Tuesday January 8, representing the party at a Unite Against Fascism meeting as if nothing had happened. Next week he is off to Athens, again as part of the party’s work. He may have been booted off the CC, but he lingers on, rubbing it in our faces. Frankly it is sick.

If the leadership is allowed to get away with this, it means the problem just sits there and festers. It means it could all happen again. It means the party cannot further examine just how this went so utterly wrong, or do anything about it, as the official position is that the vote means none of the criticisms made were accepted. A similar accusation tomorrow would be dealt with in the exact same way.

Ticking time bomb

I believe that not dealing with the issue ultimately makes the party’s destruction inevitable. I am not its destroyer – it has already destroyed itself. Maybe it will be days, months or years, but it is now a permanent time bomb. I cannot imagine how it will hold on to any recruit who knows how to use Google. Sooner or later the whole thing will be used against the party in the unions. In the absence at the very least of the most grovelling public apology and a massive process of internal reform, I am afraid I think the SWP is broken for good.

I know there will be many who will want to stay in the party and keep fighting until the bitter end. If they can do that without simply ‘keeping their heads down’ then I absolutely respect it. I hope they, and in particular those who were involved in the opposition to the disputes committee vote, will understand why I felt I had to go now and argue that others should do the same.

You might ask what right I have to jump now. You might say that this is not about us; it is about the people affected. All true. But how can we be expected to just turn off our horror at the whole thing? We are not robots. That is why I cannot stay another second.

Another problem with staying is the likelihood that individuals who opposed the CC at conference will be picked off gradually, one by one. That is not only unpleasant and isolating, but risks diverting a large amount of activist energy into an ongoing internal struggle against victimisations. I hope people will get in touch and discuss it when they feel ready to (or when they find themselves expelled). I will also 100% keep the confidence of any current member who contacts me to discuss this.

To those who will say I should have raised these issues openly before resigning, the CC has made it abundantly clear that to do so means instant self-expulsion. It would also be unfair on others at Socialist Worker to launch some tirade in an editorial meeting and make them choose between walking or ritually condemning me. I hope that they especially – people who have been my friends and workmates over several years – will look at their consciences and decide their own way forward.

To all comrades, I say: it is a wrench, it really is, but the first step is to admit to yourself that it is time to go. I do not know how it will turn out, but at least that way we have a chance to try to create something better. The alternative – for thousands of committed socialists to sit on their hands and keep quiet, wondering if the person next to them is thinking what they are thinking – is too awful to contemplate.

I strongly believe that if everyone who reads this is able to take courage to follow their heart and their principles, then, instead of members slowly drifting off into the wilderness or being gradually drummed out of the party, the SWP can be left on the shelf of history alongside the Workers Revolutionary Party, and something a thousand times healthier built in its place.

There is hope yet. The CC talks with dread about young and student cadre who are “influenced by the movement” bringing such ideas into the party, but on the evidence of conference the ideas coming in are militant anti-sexism and a desire for democracy. The substantial opposition votes show that many members’ politics remain excellent, even while they also frustratingly show that the leadership simply cannot be defeated through the party’s democratic structures, even on this most grave of issues. If it could be, despite everything I would have stayed.

For my part, I am certainly not planning some new ‘Workers Socialist Party’.2 Surely we can do better than that? I intend to discuss, think and write further about how we can take a step back from the specifics of the SWP and learn some wider lessons about sexism, democracy and organisation. I believe that for the good of the whole left, and the class struggle whose course we hope to influence, we ought to be able to find a way to create something that can be a hospitable and enduring home for militant workers, radical students and activists.

I want a left where a case like this simply cannot happen, where no-one will ever have to suppress their unease or disgust thinking it is for the greater socialist good, and where no-one will have to resign because whole areas of discussion have been banned. In that future left, I hope, we will be able to organise together again, democratically, as comrades in the struggle against our real enemies.

tom.walker.statement@gmail.com

Notes

1.www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=29382.

2. Where we rearrange the name, but keep most other things the same.

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What does the SWP’s way of dealing with sex assault allegations tell us about the left?

NOVANEWS

When it comes to sexual violence, why should progressive organisations be held to different standards?

BY LAURIE PENNY

11 JANUARY 2013

An anti-rape protest in India. Photo: Getty
An anti-rape protest in India. Photo: Getty

How do we deal with sexual violence on the left? Here’s a case study.

The Socialist Workers’ Party, for those who aren’t familiar with it already, is a political organisation of several thousand members which has been a prominent force on the British left for more than 30 years. They are at the forefront of the fight against street fascism in Britain, were a large organising presence in the student and trade union movement over the past several years, and are affiliated with large, active parties in other countries, like Germany’s Die Linke. Many of the UK’s most important thinkers and writers are members, or former members.

Like many others on the left in Britain, I’ve had my disagreements with the SWP, but I’ve also spoken at their conferences, drunk their tea, and have a lot of respect for the work they do. They are not a fringe group: they matter. And it matters that right now, the party is exploding in messy shards because of a debate about sexism, sexual violence and wider issues of accountability.

This week, it came to light that when allegations of rape and sexual assault were made against a senior party member, the matter was not reported to the police, but dealt with ‘internally’ before being dismissed. According to a transcript from the party’s annual conference earlier this month, not only were friends of the alleged rapist allowed to investigate the complaint, the alleged victims were subject to further harassment. Their drinking habits and former relationships were called into question, and those who stood by them were subject to expulsion and exclusion.

Tom Walker – a party member who walked out this week in disgust – explained that feminism “is used effectively as a swear word by the leadership’s supporters…. it is deployed against anyone who seems ‘too concerned’ about issues of gender.”

In a brave and principled resignation statement published yesterday, Walker said that:

“. . . there is clearly a question mark over the sexual politics of many men in powerful positions on the left. I believe the root of this is that, whether through reputation, lack of internal democracy or both, these are often positions that are effectively unchallengeable. Not for nothing have recent sex abuse allegations in the wider world focused on the idea of a ‘culture of impunity’.Socialist Worker has pointed to the way that institutions close up to protect powerful people within them. What is not acknowledged is that the SWP is itself an institution in this sense, with its instinct for self-protection to survive. As previously mentioned, its belief in its own world-historic importance gives a motive for an attempted cover-up, making abusers feel protected.”

Members are now leaving the organisation, or being expelled, in large numbers after the case came to light at the party’s conference and transcripts of the discussions were leaked online.

The writer China Mieville, a longstanding member of the SWP, told me that, like many members, he is “aghast”:

“The way such allegations were dealt with – complete with questions about accusers’ past relationships and drinking habits that we would instantly, rightly denounce as sexist in any other context – was appalling. It’s a terrible problem of democracy, accountability and internal culture that such a situation can occur, as is the fact that those arguing against the official line in a fashion deemed unacceptable to those in charge could be expelled for ‘secret factionalism.”

Mieville explained that in his party, as in so many other organisations, the power hierarchies which have facilitated problems such as this have been controversial for a long time.

“Many of us have for years been openly fighting for a change in the culture and structures of the organisation to address exactly this kind of democratic deficit, the disproportionate power of the Central Committee and their loyalists, their heavy-handed policing of so-called ‘dissent’, and their refusal to admit mistakes ,” he told me.  “Like the current situation, a disaster catastrophically mishandled by the leadership. All of us in the party should have the humility to admit such issues. It’s up to members of the SWP to fight for the best of our tradition, not put up with the worst, and to make our organisation what it could be, and unfortunately is not yet.”

The British Socialist Worker’s Party is hardly atypical among political parties, among left-wing groups, among organisations of committed people or, indeed, among groups of friends and colleagues in having structures in place that might allow sexual abuse and misogyny by men in positions of power to continue unchecked. One could point, in the past 12 months alone, to the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile case, or to those Wikileaks supporters who believe that Julian Assange should not be compelled to answer allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden.

I could point, personally, to at least two instances involving respected men that have sundered painfully and forever friendship groups which lacked the courage to acknowledge the incidents. The only difference is that the SWP actually talk openly about the unspoken rules by which this sort of intimidation usually goes on. Other groups are not so brazen as to say that their moral struggles are simply more important than piffling issues of feminism, even if that’s what they really mean, nor to claim that as right-thinking people they and their leaders are above the law. The SWP’s leadership seem to have written it into their rules.

To say that the left has a problem with handling sexual violence is not to imply that everyone else doesn’t. There is, however, a stubborn refusal to accept and deal with rape culture that is unique to the left and to progressives more broadly. It is precisely to do with the idea that, by virtue of being progressive, by virtue of fighting for equality and social justice, by virtue of, well, virtue, we are somehow above being held personally accountable when it comes to issues of race, gender and sexual violence.

That unwillingness to analyse our own behaviour can quickly become dogma. The image is one of petty, nitpicking women attempting to derail the good work of decent men on the left by insisting in their whiny little women’s way that progressive spaces should also be spaces where we don’t expect to get raped and assaulted and slut-shamed and victimised for speaking out, and the emotions are rage and resentment: why should our pure and perfect struggle for class war, for transparency, for freedom from censorship be polluted by – it’s pronounced with a curl of the upper lip over the teeth, as if the very word is distasteful – ‘identity politics‘? Why should webe held more accountable than common-or-garden bigots? Why should webe held to higher standards?

Because if we’re not, then we have no business calling ourselves progressive. Because if we don’t acknowledge issues of assault, abuse and gender hierarchy within our own institutions we have no business speaking of justice, much less fighting for it.

“The issues of democracy and sexism are not separate, but inextricably linked,” writes Walker. “Lack of the first creates space for the second to grow, and makes it all the more difficult to root it out when it does.” He’s talking about the SWP, but he could be talking about any part of the left right now, in its struggle to divest itself of generations of misogynist baggage.

Equality isn’t an optional add-on, a side-issue to be dealt with after the revolution’s over. There can be no true democracy, no worthwhile class struggle, without women’s rights. The sooner the left accepts that and starts working the enormous stick of priggishness and prejudice out of its collective backside, the sooner we can get on with the job at hand.

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on What does the SWP’s way of dealing with sex assault allegations tell us about the left?

Ranks of the Socialist Workers Party are split over handling of rape allegation

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Trotskyist group exonerated official because it doesn’t believe in ‘bourgeois court system’ to deliver justice

 11 JANUARY 2013

The Socialist Workers Party was engulfed in crisis tonight over allegations that it set up a “socialist sharia court” to investigate rape allegations against a senior member instead of reporting them to the police.

The scandal, which has opened up deep splits within Britain’s largest far-left party, emerged this week when disaffected members leaked minutes of a controversial disciplinary meeting which exonerated the official accused of rape and sexual assault.

The furore has led to the expulsion of key members and multiple resignations.

Today Tom Walker, a journalist at the party’s paper, Socialist Worker, became the most prominent member to quit the party in disgust.

In a devastating critique published on the rival Communist Party of Great Britain’s website, Walker excoriated the SWP’s handling of the rape  accusations, alleging that the hearing as a “kangaroo court” and “amateur justice that was doomed from the start”.

The minutes of the disciplinary meeting, which was held during the party’s December conference, detail how SWP leaders were determined to keep the matter away from the police and official authorities – with one member stating that the party had “no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice”.

The row is just the latest sexism scandal to tarnish the reputation of Britain’s radical left which tends to portray itself as a fierce advocate for women’s rights. In September, the  Respect Party’s former leader, Salma Yaqoob, quit in protest over comments made by its founder, George Galloway, that the accusations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange simply constituted “bad sexual etiquette” and not rape.

The highly detailed minutes, which run to 27 pages, were first published on Socialist Unity, a left wing blog run by Andy Newman, a Swindon-based Labour Party member. He told The Independent that SWP members contacted him anonymously because they were furious about the way the party had handled the rape allegations.

“I believe that the SWP think they’re outside the law,” he said. “It’s quite clear reading their account of what’s going on that they sort of see themselves as an alternative group in society that is not part of mainstream society. They think someone couldn’t or shouldn’t go to the police because it would damage the party.”

Mr Newman likened the SWP’s disciplinary hearing to an extrajudicial “sharia” system or the much criticised investigations by the Roman Catholic church into clerical abuse that bypassed reporting allegations to the authorities.

The minutes detail how the party’s disciplinary committee met to discuss allegations that had been levelled against “Comrade Delta” – a senior member who sat on the party’s central committee.

The allegations came from an unnamed female party member who claimed she was assaulted over a six-month period between 2008 and 2009 but did not want to go to the police. The disciplinary committee exonerated Comrade Delta with six of the seven panel members backing his version of events. However, in an indication of the huge concerns over how the case was handled, the panel’s findings were only narrowly accepted by 231 votes to 209 votes when they were put to party members.

The minutes show how party  activists attacked panel members for admitting that they knew Comrade Delta personally. One panel member conceded: [We] all knew Comrade Delta. We knew his important role in the party and on the central committee and none of us knew W or knew her well.”

In his resignation letter, journalist Tim Walker wrote: “Though I believe they took the case deeply seriously, this was not a jury of his peers, but a jury of his mates.”

According to the minutes, friends of the woman – who was not allowed to attend the meeting – stood up to say she felt betrayed by the party. One supporter said: “She thought that if she put in a complaint to the party it would be dealt with in line with the party’s politics and our proud tradition on women’s liberation. Sadly her experiences were quite the opposite.”

The Independent contacted the SWP head office for comment on the allegations but received no reply.

The party’s national secretary, Charlie Kimber, did not dispute the veracity of the minutes in a letter to Socialist Unity demanding they be taken down from the internet.

“I do not believe you are motivated by any considerations apart from a desire to damage the individuals involved and the SWP and to achieve tawdry publicity,” Mr Kimber wrote.

Mr Newman denied the allegations, saying he deliberately redacted the names of those who spoke to protect their identities. What was said in the disciplinary hearing was of public importance and justified publication.

The SWP, formed in 1977 out of the  International Socialists, describes itself as a “revolutionary socialist party” in the tradition of Leon Trotsky.

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Meet the Jewish Supremacist in Charge of the U.S. Treasury

NOVANEWS

In yet another example of how supposed “white privilege” is actually just Jewish Supremacist privilege (even though “white men” get blamed), Barack Obama has appointed his current White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew as Secretary of the Treasury.

This means that yet another orthodox, Shabbat–observing, Jewish Supremacist, who follows the strict definition of the Talmud which classifies Gentiles as an abomination and female gentiles as whores, will be placed in a position of immense economic power over the rest of America, and, ultimately, impact on the world’s economy.

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Lew attends Congregation Beth Sholom and a  2011 press release from the Religion News Service noted that Lew also “has extensive connections in the American Jewish community,” and that he might be able to help President Obama ”build a more friendly rapport” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Lew’s appointment provoked a hysterical tirade from the Jewish Supremacist controlled media that Obama’s cabinet contained “too many white men” (see the CNN coverage of the story, above) .

Can you imagine a CNN broadcast titled “Too many Jews in the White House?” or “Too many Blacks in the White House?”

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Even more incredibly, as one commentator pointed out, Lew has no qualifications, standing, or experience in the financial world or international sphere. In other words, he is completely unqualified for the position and has obviously only been appointed for the fact that he is a Jewish Supremacist with ties to the Israeli authorities.

Lew has even been personally excused from working on Fridays and Saturdays by Barack Obama.According to an article in the Forward, Lew said that while he was chief of staff of the White House, “I saw the president on many occasions on Friday afternoons look at his watch, and ask: ‘Isn’t it time for you to get going? or, ‘Why are you still here?’”

The Israeli Haaretz newspaper could not contain itself from crowing over the latest Jewish Supremacist conquest: “Jack Lew: A Bronx Jew moves to Wall Street and the White House” read its banner headline. It went on to boast “Born to a religious Jewish family, in the past year he has become one of the closest people to President Barack Obama.”

Other Jewish Supremacists in the Obama administration:

David Plouffe: Senior Advisor to the President;

Danielle Borrin: Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement; Special Assistant to the Vice Preisdent;

Gary Gensler: Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission;

Dan Shapiro: Ambassador to Israel;

Gene Sperling: Director National Economic Council;

Mary Schapiro: Chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission;

Steven Simon: Head of Middle East/North Africa Desk at the National Security Council;

Eric Lynn: Middle East Policy Advisor;

Past Staff Members

Rahm Emanuel (2009-2010): Chief of Staff to the President;

David Axelrod (2009-2011): Senior Advisor to the President;

Elena Kagan (2009-2010): Solicitor General of the United States;

Peter Orszag (2009-2010): Director of the Office of Management and Budget;

Lawrence Summers (2009-2011): Director National Economic Council;

Mona Sutphen (2009-2011): Deputy White House Chief of Staff;

James B. Steinberg (2009-2011): Deputy Secretary of State;

Dennis Ross (2009-2011): Special Assistant to the President, Senior Director for the Central Region to the Secretary of State;

Ronald Klain (2009-2011): Chief of Staff to the Vice President;

Jared Bernstein (2009-2011): Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor to the Vice President;

Susan Sher (2009-2011): Chief of Staff to the First Lady;

Lee Feinstein (2009): Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor;

Mara Rudman (2009): Foreign Policy Advisor.

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Zionist Elections Provide Insight into How Jewish Supremacists Regard “Converts”

NOVANEWS

A television advertisement by one of the parties contesting the upcoming (22nd Jan.) Israeli election has provided yet another insight into how Jewish Supremacists regard non-Jews, and Europeans in particular.

The advertisement, which can be seen in full below, was made by the Shas religious party, and features an obviously racially Jewish family celebrating at a wedding where one of their number is about to marry an exceptionally beautiful tall blond Russian woman.

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The blond, Russian-speaking wife-to-be — her accent is grotesquely exaggerated — isn’t Jewish, and has her “conversion” to Judaism approved by a fictitious “dial up and fax response” conversion to Judaism service just before the wedding is to take place.

The dialogue translates in part as follows:

Groom: “Marina, what is the fax for?”

Bride: “Beytenu sent it, a wedding present.”

Groom: “How nice of him. But what the hell — a fax?”

Bride: “To receive permission.”

Groom: “Permission for what?”

Bride: “From 1-800-convert”

Groom: “1-800-convert??”

Bride: “Da, you call 1-800-convert and receive permission.”

Groom: “Wait, you aren’t Jewish?”

Bride (waving the faxed “certificate of conversion”): “I am now!”

The groom is suitably horrified and refuses to even kiss his bride once he realizes that she is not actually Jewish (as if her appearance had not given that away).

The advertisement, directed by the Shas party against those who want to make it easier for non-Jews to convert to Judaism. Shas was founded the leadership of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a former Israeli Sephardi chief rabbi, who remains its spiritual leader today. It is a major player in Israeli politics, and has been instrumental in bringing both the Labor and Likud parties to power as a result of coalitions with either of those two parties.

Currently, Shas holds four cabinet posts in the Likud coalition government under prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In other words, this attitude towards people who are not of racial Jewish origin is not some minor aberration in Israeli or Jewish politics, but in fact representative of the mainstream. The fact that Shas has been in coalition with both the Labor and Likud parties show that there is no difference between “left” and “right” wing Zionists—they are all united in their common hatred of non-Jews.

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Does torture work? Does it matter?

NOVANEWS
Anti-torture protestBy Lawrence Davidson

Back in the autumn of 2005 I wrote a essay, published in the journal Logos (issue 4.4), entitled “Torture in our time”. In it I laid out the historical evidence for the conclusion that torture rarely works. This position goes back at least to the Enlightenment when Cesare Beccaria wrote a famous pamphlet, “ On crimes and punishments (1764) in which he observed the obvious:

Does torture work?

The impression of pain, then, may increase to such a degree that, occupying the mind entirely, it will compel the sufferer to use the shortest method of freeing himself from torment….He will accuse himself of crimes of which he is innocent so that the very means employed to distinguish the innocent from the guilty will most effectually destroy all difference between them.

Along with false admissions of guilt, those under torture will tell their tormenter just about anything, regardless of truth and accuracy. Modern researchers, and even modern practitioners of interrogation, know this to be so. They have come to the same conclusion as Beccaria. Torture produces more false and fictional information than not.

For instance, Darius Rejali in his book Torture and Democracy (2009), tells us that “the available evidence [against the efficacy of torture] is conclusive” and alludes to the fact that, for 250 years, criminologists and psychologists have been pointing this out. The ex-intelligence officer, Colonel John Rothrock, who headed a combat interrogation team in Vietnam, told the Washington Post in 2005 that, given the Vietnam experience, “he doesn’t know any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this [torture] is a good idea’” even in a so-called “ticking bomb” scenario. The inclusion of “my generation” in Rothrock’s statement implies that each generation has to learn the truth about torture anew, over the wreckage of newly broken bodies.

More recently, in December 2012, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved a report which, in some 6,000 pages, concludes that “the harsh interrogation measures used by the CIA [that is the torture techniques allowed by the administration of George W. Bush] did not produce significant intelligence breakthroughs”. This specifically includes the production of intelligence leading to the discovery of Osama bin Laden.Indeed, the report says that torture actually became “counterproductive in the broader campaign against Al-Qaeda”. All this has led Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to call Bush Junior’s secret CIA prisons and use of torture, “terrible mistakes”.

The eternal sceptics

For a certain subset of the population (and not just in the US) these truths do not matter. This subset constitutes a modern warrior caste and their followers. The American sampling includes many (but not all) neo-conservatives, classic tough-guys turned politicians, faux-realists, military professionals, and an ever-present small number of people who just like to hurt and humiliate others and find their way into professions that allow them to do so (often the actual torturers). For all these folks the evidence against torture appears counter-intuitive and just does not “feel right”.

Therefore, intuitively, these sceptics feel more comfortable with another statement, that might be juxtaposed with Beccaria’s above. This one was written by White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, in a memorandum for President Bush on 25 January  2002:

The nature of the new war places a high premium on … the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians. In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s [the Geneva Convention Against Torture] strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners….

Currently, it is the Republican Party that harbours many of the sceptics who share this opinion about the efficacy of torture and the “obsolete” nature of the treaties (ratified by the United States) forbidding it. The Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee that issued the latest report proving torture’s uselessness even refused to participate in the report’s investigatory process. For some of them this might have been the result of obeying their party’s dictate to remain loyal to the discredited Bush administration. For others, though, it was loyalty plus their belief (in the face of all the evidence to the contrary) that Bush was correct to send the CIA out into the world to cause unbearable pain and suffering. They believe such behaviour materially contributed to “making America safe”.

Making torture’s case through the movies

Unfortunately, there is a general tendency on the part of Americans to agree with the sceptics. And, this trend is about to be strengthened. There is now a movie, “Zero Dark Thirty” (the work of the Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow) in US cinemas that will reinforce the erroneous view that torture works. “Zero Dark Thirty” purports to tell the story, based on “first-hand accounts”, of the hunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden. According to this film, torture formed a “critical aspect of intelligence gathering” process. There is good evidence that the US government assisted in the making of the movie, if not the actual writing of the script.

It would be nice if some talented director could make a movie based on “first-hand accounts” of the making of the Senate report on Bush-era torture. But that sort of movie will not be made because Washington has no desire to tie its hands in this regard. Nor will the truly accurate documentaries (see below) that do exist on the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, or the now defunct hell-hole that was Abu Ghraib, get national distribution. However, we can expect many more films like “Zero Dark Thirty”. This is because the recent 2013 National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by President Barack Obama makes legal direct government funding of propaganda aimed at the American population. Perhaps the US government is about to buy its own back-lot in Hollywood.

Conclusion

There is a story about Abraham Lincoln that claims that every time he was confronted by someone extolling the benefits of slavery, he had a desire to see it (slavery) tried out on the one defending it. Torture can be approached the same way. Does President W. Bush and ex-counsel Alberto Gonzales think it is a vital part of America’s defence? Do all those Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee have such faith in torture that they can dismiss out of hand 6,000 pages of contrary evidence? OK. Let’s see torture tried out on these fellows and note whether they will confess to false reports about, say, their sex lives. Just wishful thinking.

The torturers we are talking about are all past or present powerful government officials and their henchmen. Most of them will die in bed and maybe, someday, have their face put on a postage stamp. Their horrid deeds, already excused, will soon be forgotten. For what are crimes when committed by the average person, are but vices when committed by the powerful (so said Benjamin Disraeli). Finally, it has been known for ages that, as the old Latin saying goes, “in times of war the laws go silent”.

Note: Here are three good documentaries touching on the U.S. practice of torture: Alex Gibney, “Taxi to the Dark Side”; Rory Kennedy, “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib”;and  Annie Sunberg and Ricki Stern, “The End of America”.

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In Excessive Use of Force Zio-Nazi Gestapo’s Kill Two Palestinian Civilians and Injure Third in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank

NOVANEWS

The Zio-Nazi killed two Palestinian civilians, one in the West Bank and the other one in the Gaza Strip, during the past two days.  Investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reveal that the Zio-Nazi used excessive force against the victims and did not attempt to arrest them.

According to PCHR’s preliminary investigations, at approximately 16:10 on Friday, 11 January 2013, Nazi soldiers got out of their military vehicles inside the border fence between illegally occupied 1948 land and the Gaza Strip, northeast of al-Shuhadaa Islamic graveyard, east of Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip.  The soldiers fired bullets and tear gas canisters at a group of Palestinian civilians who were 50 meters away from the border fence, in an attempt to defy the Nazi decision to enforce a “buffer zone” of 300 meters between 1948 and the Gaza Strip.  

As a result, Anwar Mohammed Elian al-Mamlouk (19), from al-Nazar Street in al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, sustained a bullet wound in the abdomen.  Omar Isma’il Omar Wadi (20) sustained bullet wounds in both his legs, while he was running towards al-Mamlouk to help him.  Both victims were transported from the scene on a tuk-tuk.  Upon reaching the main street, a Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance transported them to Kamal Odwan Hospital.  Al-Mamlouk was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) due to his critical condition, but he died immediately. Wadi’s wounds were described as moderate.

Late on Saturday afternoon, 12 January 2013, Israeli forces stationed at the separation fence south of Arab al-Ramadeen area in the far south of Hebron killed Odai Kamel Mohammed al-Darawish (21) from Doura, south of Hebron.  The victim sustained a bullet wound to the right side of his body while he was trying to infiltrate into Israel in order to work there.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 14:00 on Saturday, 12 January 2013, Darwish, along with a group of workers, went to Arab al-Ramadeen area in an attempt to infiltrate into 1948 land to work there.  Upon reaching the hole in the separation fence through which they were planning to enter 1948, they saw an Israeli military vehicle. Moments later, the vehicle left, and the workers ran through the hole in the fence.  In the meantime, a number of Nazi soldiers had stationed undercover in the area; one of them opened fire indiscriminately at the workers and ordered them to stop.  

The workers ran for approximately 20 meters before Darwish was shot down.  He was transported by an Israeli ambulance to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.  In his testimony to a PCHR fieldworker, Darwish’s father said that he was able to reach the hospital later the same day, where he was informed that his son died.  He also added that he was allowed to see his son’s body and that his son had sustained a bullet wound to the right side of his body damaging his pelvis and kidneys.  The father also saw bruises on his face.

PCHR expresses deep concern for such crimes which reflect the continued use of excessive force by Nazi Gestapo  against Palestinian civilians in disregard of their lives, despite Nazi Gestapo having been redeployed outside the Gaza Strip. 

PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate and effective actions to put an end to such crimes and reiterates its call for the parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 to fulfill their obligations under Common Article 1, i.e. to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under Article 146 to prosecute persons who allegedly committed grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Article 85 of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on In Excessive Use of Force Zio-Nazi Gestapo’s Kill Two Palestinian Civilians and Injure Third in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank

The hardest thing: Palestinian parents speak of their children killed by IsraHell bombings

NOVANEWS

angeofdeath

ingaza.wordpress.com

During the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks on Gaza, 182 Palestinians were killed, according to the World Health Organization’s Dec 2012 report, among whom 47 were children, including 16 under 5 years old. Another 1399 Palestinians were injured, most of them with multiple injuries.

It is only four years after Israel’s last major assault on Gaza, which killed over 1450 including those who died of their injuries, and injured over 5000.  Then there are the random Israeli attacks throughout the years, leaving injured suffering even years later.

And there were the under-reported attacks in the week preceding the Nov 14 attacks: the Nov 8 killing of 13 year old Ahmed Abu Daqqa as he played football, the Nov 10 killing of Mohammed Harara (16) and Ahmed Harara (17) as they played football, the subsequent killings of Ahmed Al- Dirdissawi (18) and Matar Abu al-‘Ata (19) when they rushed to the scene of the Harara killings (source: PCHR).

Every December and January, I remember the victims of the 2008-2009 massacre, particularly some of the harder incidents of burning to death from white phosphorous bombing, or point blank shootings of loved ones. All ages suffered, although we tend to pick up on the children. Somehow their murders, their maimings, their imprisonment strikes us more.

Two cases from the November 2012 attacks struck me and stay with me: the killing of 4 year old Reham as she stood a few metres from the door of her Nusseirat camp home, outside of which an Israeli  bomb exploded…and the murder of Nader, 14, killed by a precision drone missile as he walked to get food for his siblings… just two hours before the ceasefire.

Below are follow-up photos, the families and loved ones of Reham and Nader.  Allah yerhamhum (Allah, God, bless them).

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Mourning area for Reham Nabaheen, killed by an Israeli bombing outside her Nusseirat camp home.

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Abu Reham looks to where the Israeli bomb struck, the shrapnel of which blasted into his home and struck his daughter in the temple, killing her.

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Um Reham sits with other women, mourning her daughter.

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Fatoum, Reham’s neighbour and close friend, stopped speaking after her friend’s killing. Also four years old, she is in shock from knowing her friend is dead. Abu Reham: “I love her like I loved my daughter.”

Roa'a, Reham's infant cousin. Reham used to play with her and bring her treats.

Roa’a, Reham’s infant cousin. Reham used to play with her and bring her treats.

In the days following Reham’s murder, we visit the family in the simple Nusseirat home. Beside a mourning room set up to receive family and friends, a portrait of the girl I’d only until then seen dead in the morgue.

The home is barebones simple, the old Palestinian style of home and courtyard reconstructed with refugee camp means: cheap cement, toxic asbestos roof, chipped paint, thin walls and doors, sparse decor…no frills. A single olive tree grows in one side of the courtyard.

Um Reham sits amongst female relatives and although her daughter was killed only a few days earlier, is strong and tells me of the day. We’d seen her at al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah on Nov 21, after the shelling. Further back from where the explosion hit, Um Reham was still wounded in her face by flying shrapnel. Her other two sons suffered only minor injuries.

We’d gone to my sister’s home in Bureij, at the beginning of the attacks. There was so much bombing in Nusseirat, we were afraid to stay here, our kids were terrified.  On the last day, we heard there would soon be a cease-fire and wanted to come home. I wanted to do laundry, to change my kids clothing. My sister told me to leave Reham with her, but I said no, I couldn’t leave my daughter behind.

After we’d returned to Nusseirat, we realized the bombing was still very heavy here. We were going to return to Bureij…

Abu Reham, who we’d seen at the hospital morgue leaning over his daughter’s lifeless body, sobbing and kissing her, stoically continues explaining what happened that day.

Although Nusseirat was still being hammered, at the moment of the Israeli shelling which killed his daughter, it was relatively calm, he says.

There was no visible danger, our neighbour across street was sitting on a chair by his doorway just minutes before the bombing. He left to go see something at a neighbour’s home…if he had not left, he would have been killed.

He points out the two narrow courtyard doors to the street where a pocket in the asphalt speaks to the earlier bombing.

It was around 4pm, one of the doors was closed, we were getting the kids ready to go back to Bureij. I’d brought out some cookies, and Reham went to get them out of the bag. She was reaching into the bag when the bomb struck. She was near the door, the shrapnel went right into her head. She died soon after, there was blood all over.

The sound of drones was insane then, it could’ve been a drone strike.

Tank,” his brother says, “it was a tank shell.

The brother holds a girl.

This is my daughter, Roa’a, she’s a year and a half old. Reham used to play with her every afternoon, she’d bring Roa’a chips and snacks… Reham used to always take care of her.

A neighbour daughter comes over with his daughter, Fatoum (Fatema), 4 years old as Reham was. She is chubby cheeked and lovely, but unsmiling and won’t say a word.

She came to play with Reham every day. A four year old shouldn’t have to know what death is, that her friend has been killed. She said to me, ‘my friend is dead, my friend died.’

Abu Reham, whose daughter is just days dead, is worried about Fatoum who fell ill after learning Reham was dead.

I love her like a daughter. Every child who loved my daughter, I love them like my own child (breaks down crying). I went to the cemetery, saw children from the area there, they had brought flowers and were tending Reham’s grave. They told me ‘we will visit her, even if your family moves, we’ll continue to visit her.’

nader

Nader Abu Mghaseeb, 14, killed by precision Israeli drone bombing as he went to get food for his siblings.

Abu Nader tells how his son was killed by an Israeli bombing

Abu Nader tells how his son was killed by an Israeli bombing

When Nader's siblings awoke the morning after his murder, they asked for him, only to learn he'd been killed.

When Nader’s siblings awoke the morning after his murder, they asked for him, only to learn he’d been killed.

Abu Nader points to the hole in the road where the Israeli bomb which killed his son struck.

Abu Nader points to the hole in the road where the Israeli bomb which killed his son struck.

Shrapnel markings from the Israeli bombing  which killed his son.

Shrapnel markings from the Israeli bombing which killed his son.

Light of the small shop to which Nader was headed when murdered by the Israeli bombing.

Light of the small shop to which Nader was headed when murdered by the Israeli bombing.

When killed, Nader was en route to the store to buy food for his siblings.

When killed, Nader was en route to the store to buy food for his siblings.

Pieces of the Israeli precision  drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision  drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision  drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision  drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Nader's watch and the memory chip from his cell phone, which he had with him when targeted by the Israeli bomb.

Nader’s watch and the memory chip from his cell phone, which he had with him when targeted by the Israeli bomb.

On the eastern outskirts of Deir al Balah, central Gaza, we go to the home of the 14 year old whose mutilated body set me sobbing when I saw it in al-Aqsa hospital on Nov 21.  The family has a number of olive trees, from which they exist. Their simple home, just over a kilometre from the border and surrounded by trees on a small plot of land, is a little oasis in the over-crowded Strip.  But for Abu Nader, it is now hell.

“I look at his jeans, I remember him. I look at the house, I remember him. I look there, look there, wherever I look, I’m reminded of Nader.

I hate this house, this area. I hate life now. I started to hate life when my son was killed.

You don’t stay in a place if your dear one is no longer there.”

We’re sitting in the small, nylon-walled tent behind his home, drinking bitter coffee and listening as Abu Nader tells us how his son  was killed. Nader’s six younger siblings, for whom he’d been going to get food when killed, sit beside their father. When we walked into the tent, Abu Nader ran to one corner to grab a small vial of cologne, which he rolled onto the backs of our hands. Nader’s favourite.

“I had lit a fire and we were sitting like this. Sitting like this exactly. Nader asked if I had money, said he wanted to go to the shop to get food for dinner. I didn’t want him to go, but he said the ceasefire would start in a couple of hours, he’d be okay.

There was nothing to eat in the house. These kids need to eat, we’d had nothing in the house for 5 days.

Nader told me to warm the bread over the fire. He said he’d get some yogurt, some canned meat, anything so that all the kids could eat. One of his younger brothers went with Nader, but halfway there Nader told his brother to go back home. His brother kept saying he wanted to go with Nader, but Nader insisted he go back home, told him to wait for him at home.

His brother came back here and said to me, ‘Dad, Nader told me to come back here. He wouldn’t let me go with him to the store’. While he was telling me this, we heard a loud explosion.

My wife said that the explosion was very close to here. She told me to call Nader’s cellphone to see where he was. I called Nader but he cellphone was off. I kept trying to call him, and I ran to the street to try to find Nader.

I kept running until I reached the mosque. From the mosque I saw the light of the store.

And it was night, dark, about fifteen minutes after the evening prayer.

I was looking at the store and waiting for my son to come out of it, and didn’t see that my son was on the ground near me. There was blood all over the street. I thought it was water.

They fired a missile right at him.

When I saw him, I knelt down and grabbed him. There was no one around. I tried to pick him up but couldn’t. He was dead weight, heavy, I couldn’t pick him up on my own. And his legs were shredded, falling apart.

I started screaming, for anyone to hear and help me pick up my son and take him to the hospital.

No one heard me.

I left Nader and screamed to the houses around me, then came back to Nader, but no one heard me.

I sat next to him for a minute, panicking, didn’t know what to do.

I ran to another house to yell for help, but no one heard me.

I came back and wrapped my arms around him, put my head on his head. And I woke up in the hospital.

They killed him in a horrible way. They shot the missile right at him.

In the morning, one of Nader’s brothers came to me and said, ‘Nader’s bed is empty. Where is Nader?’

I told him, the Israeli army killed him.

We are all traumatized.

I’m not angry because Allah chose to take Nader.  Allah gives and Allah takes. The hardest thing is that I saw how Nader died. In pieces. How can I live seeing my son cut into pieces? He was a child. He went to get food for his siblings.”

Abu Nader, a wiry frame and the weathered face of a farmer, repeatedly breaks into sobs as he re-tells the story of Nader’s killing.

He takes out a bag of the shrapnel bits he collected from the bomb which killed Nader, a collection of circular, square and jagged pieces, some with serial numbers inscribed, some with the wiring and chips of a precisely-fired missile. He also shows us Nader’s wristwatch, something I’d honed in on at the hospital, looking away from Nader’s shredded legs and noting the watch, a bright plastic stopwatch the kind most teens love.

We walk through the darkness of the unlit village, the only lights being the mosque near which Nader was killed and the shop to which he’d been headed. Abu Nader shows us the hole in the road where the missile hit, points out shrapnel marks… The same tormented pointing out of details that Abu Reham performed.

He points out the mosque, which Nader prayed at devoutly. Nader’s mother later reiterates, “he was such a good boy, didn’t talk back to his parents, was excellent in school.”

At the small shop Nader never made it to that day, the shop owner shakes his head in regret, echoes the words of Nader’s parents about the boy’s character. Abu Nader pulls hummus, processed meat and yogurt from the fridge, waving it at us… this is why Nader was killed, because he’d wanted to bring these things to his family.

Two children, of 47 in the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks alone, killed in brutal ways their parents can never forget, on the afternoon of the impending cease-fire. Zionist aggressors know no bounds.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on The hardest thing: Palestinian parents speak of their children killed by IsraHell bombings

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