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Friday, 25 February 2011

No Imperialist Intervention in Libya

As the regime of the reactionary clown, Muamar Ghadaffi, goes through its death agonies, whilst taking many many lives with it, the voices of liberal interventionism raise their ugly heads.

Let us be clear. Any western intervention will be aimed not at saving lives but preserving oil for use by the invaders. Who can honestly say that the million plus lives lost in Iraq created anything other than another dictatorship, albeit one friendly to the USA?

Those who talk of intervening in Libya are not moved by the plight of those Ghadaffi is killing. Their only concern is what may come after him. It is not the death of people but death to their interests in the country that concern them. That is why Tony Blair, the archetypal liberal interventionist and war criminal, made his famous visit to Tripoli in 2003 and a rapprochment with the West’s favourite bogeyman.


We have seen a consolidation of the old elites in Egypt and Tunisia. The revolution has only been half completed and if there is no completion then it will go back to the beginning. In Libya, because of the different nature of the response, there is the danger (for imperialism) that popular and armed committees will form which put the use of Libya’s oil under the spotlight.
Our demands are clear. Any intervention by the West will destroy not safeguard lives and liberty.

Tony Greenstein


Libya – Dreams of Western Intervention

Susil Gupta – 24-2-10

The crisis in Libya is
quickly becoming an international embarrassment. Not, this time, because of Gadhafi’s clowinsh antics, but because it provides a spectacular opportunity for the world to see just how much Western power has declined during the last decade.

Despite being the most powerful nation on earth, and having a military apparatus on a scale greater than the sum of every other country, the US has patently failed to impose its solutions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Far from America being able to force the Ayatollahs into submission, Iran gains strategic ground every day. The financial crisis has paralysed the power of Western finance. Western central bankers have had to go begging to China and the oil rich countries for loans. The Arab revolt of 2011 has now destroyed the exclusive grip Anglo-American rule once had in the region.

And now Libya promises to make explicit the powerlessness of the West. As Laurence Pope, ex-political advisor to the US "Central Command" and ex-ambassador to Tripoli recently told Le Monde today (24 February), “Washington finds itself in a situation where there are only bad options and others that are worse.”

What has been the response in Europe? The European Left and the liberal bourgeoisie remain very ‘interventionist’ and are firm believers in ‘humanitarian bombing’. They are clamouring for a muscular Nato intervention along Balkan lines. An editorial in today’s Left-leaning Guardian supports the call by liberal Lord Owen that “military preparations should be made and the necessary diplomatic approaches, above all to the Russians and the Chinese, set in train to secure UN authority for such action.” Should the crisis continue, the Guardian argues, “intervention on the ground would have to be considered. The Egyptian army has the means, other Arab countries could contribute, and western forces could help.” Yes, and it would all be over by Christmas.

It is obvious that these war-enthusiasts have not thought this through – but then they would not be doing any of the fighting. The plain fact is that there are no feasible military interventions even if the major powers could agree on an intervention plan, which is very far from being the case. Consider the options.

Imposing a no fly zone. This would require extensive air patrols by foreign air forces. They would have little effect since air power is not key to Gadhafi’s strategy. It would, however, create an atmosphere of major war and give Gadhafi a propaganda boost.

Creating a military barrier or cordon sanitaire around eastern Libya to protect rebel positions. Likewise this would crystallise the situation into a two-sided war, which could only play into Gadhafi’s hands. It is to the advantage of those that want to topple Gadhafi to avoid a war of entrenchment fixed positions, preventing them from permeating every level of society and undermine further his crumbing power base. In any case such Western intervention would be impossible to implement. No Western commander is going to deploy troops at short notice into a theatre unknown to his troops but well-known to an enemy who, in any case, cannot be easily distinguished from friendly forces. It is a recipe for disaster.

Sending in a ‘peace keeping’ African Union force to separate the parties. One way to unite every Libyan behind Gadhafi, given the reputation of such forces in the past.

Sending in a ‘peace keeping’ force made up of troops from Arab countries as The Guardian recommends. One way to unite every Libyan behind Gadhafi and infect and inflame the whole of the Middle East with the vicissitudes of a Libyan civil war.

Bomb. But where? Tripoli ? Gadhafi’s hideout? In addition to the lack of any meaningful target, Western bombing might give others the idea of bombing targets that are indeed of great strategic value: oil wells and pipe lines.

Sanctions. Libya’s massively long borders are totally porous and populated by peoples and countries keen to do business and who don’t give a damn about UN Security Council resolutions. On the contrary, given the strategic importance of Libyan oil and gas to several European nations, Libya is the only country in a position to apply effective sanctions against anyone else. The price of oil has already shot up to $110. Watch how the Italians start screaming in the next couple of weeks if the crisis goes on much longer.

Unsurprisingly, Cameron and Sarkozy are making angry statements but otherwise are just looking at their shoes.

Susil Gupta

susilgupta@btinternet.com

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Uri Avnery - Supporter of 'Peace' and the Palestinian Police Statelet

Why the Zionist 'Left' Are the Most Dedicated Supporters of Arab Dictatorships

In most countries, the Left of the political spectrum is normally opposed to dictatorships and the apparatus of the police state. Of course exceptions need to be made for the lingering fondness of Stalinism for autocracy, but in general the Left stands for democracy, workers' rights and internationalism and the Right will invade anything and kill anyone to preserve the rights of capital to exploit wherever and whenever it wants.

The Zionist 'peace movement', including the doyen of the fight against Occupation, Uri Avnery, are an exception. This is a 'left' that supported co-operative structures in order to fulfill the goals of colonialism more efficiently.
As I wrote 2 years ago the Zionist left has fulfilled its historical mission, which was to divert Jewish workers away from socialism and towards Zionism. Today it is a fossil, a relic left on the shore for the sake of old times.

When the Zionist left protests the loyalty oath of the Netanyahu/ Lieberman coalition, it does so because it fears that in the developing witch-hunt it too may be caught out for not being loyal enough.
Loyalty oaths, military rule, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, land confiscation - you name it and there's nothing the Zionist Right has done that the Zionist Left didn't do better.

F
or the Zionist left 'peace' was a primary goal. Not the peace of international co-operation and the free movement of workers in the Middle East, as even the European Union has managed to achieve. The common struggle against imperialism was the last thing they had on their minds. Instead the desired goal was the peace of the graveyard, the peace of a Mubarak which freed them to attack the north of Israel and colonise the West Bank.

Internationalism was never a principle for the Zionist left. On the contrary, founded on the basis of a
Jewish only racist state, where being Jewish was the most important characteristic, internationalism and solidarity between workers was secondary to the needs of the Israeli state. And if workers in the Arab countries saw Zionism as a hostile colonial entity then those workers were merely deluded, and being Arabs or Moslems, were the products of a backward culture. This was the response, incidentally, of the Zionist left, who led the Zionist Organisation and the Jewish Agency in Palestine up till 1948. The opposition of the Palestinian Arab workers to Zionism was attributed to their leaders, the feudal effendis. It had nothing to do with being driven off the land by Kibbutzim under the watchful eye of British bayonets. It had nothing to do with the open alliance between British imperialism and Zionism. It was merely the product of the Arabs' backward and 'anti-semitic' nature.

It is because the Zionist left never believed in joint work with the Arab workers, whom they derided as simpletons, that Histadrut and the Israeli Labour Party Mapai coined the term 'from class to nation'. Because they vigorously opposed joint work with the Arab workers, they redefined the very concept of class. Indeed they had superceded and transcended it. Class struggle was merely a milestone on the road to national unity. The Arabs were defined as the enemy class, the mere representatives of feudal Arabs who were united only by their anti-Semitism.

It was thus natural that the Zionist left sought, from the very start an alliance with Arab despots. Gold Meir in 1947 made the journey to see King Abdullah in Transjordan (see Avi Shlaim's 'Collusion Across the Jordan'). Shimon Peres, who was described as an 'indefatigable intriguer' by Yitzhak Rabin and who at one time was seen as to the 'left' of Rabin, was also the instigator of the Oslo Accords. He it was who was responsible for the process whereby Arabs were turned into their own policemen, better to enforce the Occupation.

No more devout supporters of Arab repression were there than the Labour Zionists and no more ardent supporters of the link with US imperialism were there than these 'left' Zionists.
Indeed the main complaint against Begin and Sharon was that they were endangering the 'special relationship' that Israel and the USA have. Whereas Netanyahu told Obama to back off from ideas of a settlement freeze, and with the support of Congress and the neo-Cons won that battle, Labour might have backed down. This has resulted in the obscenity that not only the 'Right' of Zionism - the Lieberman's and Netanyahu's supporting Mubarak, but Peres going out of his way to praise this mass murderer and torturer.

It is natural if one is to insert oneself in the Middle East as the United State's surrogate that the masses are going to oppose you. It is therefore also natural that Arab dictatorships were seen as the only way of cementing the rule of imperialism in the region.
Despite its laughable claims to be the 'only democracy in the Middle East' (despite not giving half those under its rule a vote) it is Israel which has, as the Jewish Chronicle puts it, trembled at the thought of all those nice, friendly, pro-US Arab dictators, falling one by one. And this is true not just of the hypocrites of the Israeli Labour Party and Meretz, but also of even the most consistent sections of the Zionist peace camp, Gush Shalom led by Uri Avneri.

Below is an excellent article by
Tikva Honig-Parnass, an Israeli anti-Zionist, laying bare much of the above. In particular her article demonstrates that Uri Avnery, for long the one remaining Zionist who was consistent in his opposition to settlement and occupation, could not defy the logic of his own position. There is no greater supporter of the Palestinian Police State than Uri Avnery.


Tony Greenstein

Support of the Israeli Peace Camp for the Autocratic Palestinian Regime

Tikva Honig-Parnass

The Zionist left has always supported US imperialism and its autocratic Arab allies, claiming that US policy seeks to enforce peace and democracy in the Middle East. This claim has likewise been the pretext for their support of the PA police state in the making. However, Uri Avnery's embrace of Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad’s oppressive regime lays bare an appalling fact: the genuine Palestinian national movement has no partner, even within the most radical wing of Israel's so-called "peace camp.”

Introduction

Academics and publicists from the Zionist left have persistently distorted the notion of democracy when insisting on applying it to the political regime in Israel. Despite the fact that some admit the "stains in Israel's democracy,” they support the definition of Israel as a "Jewish state," which implies the structural discrimination and marginalization of the indigenous Palestinian population. They usually cling to the misleading argument that the preference of Jews does not violate the equality of individual citizenship rights held by the Palestinians in Israel. This hypocritical stance of the self-proclaimed "liberals" has been largely sustained by the prevailing political culture, which they themselves actively helped create: namely, the state-centered culture portrayed by the late sociologist Baruch Kimmerling as "semi-fascist". Accordingly, the values of individual human rights, the essence of democracy, are perceived as subservient to state security.

Shlomo Avineri, professor of political science has well represented the role of the intellectual on the Zionist left in granting "scientific" confirmation to the definition of the Zionist settler state as "democracy." For example, he depicts the Law of Return – which is central to the Apartheid nature of the Israeli legal infrastructure as just an "immigration law," no different from immigration laws in other democratic states such as the US and Norway' 1.

Now, in wake of the popular uprising in Egypt that threatens the other dictatorial regimes across the Middle East, Shlomo Avinery has come up with a new insight on the imperative commitment of democrats to fight against an autocratic regime. He expressly argues that a peace treaty – which ensures the "security" of Israel – is a top "moral" value that justifies the past support of Mubarak's totalitarian "internal" regime:
"Recently, we here were presented with a rather problematic choice: Do we support democracy, or do we support the Israeli interest in maintaining security and stability? When a moral value (democracy ) is thus posited against realpolitik (stability and security), it is easy to lapse into the argument that Peace is not only a political, military and security arrangement; it is also a moral value. The fact that for 30 years not a single Israeli or Egyptian soldier was killed in hostile activities on our common border, [...] is not only a strategic achievement, but a moral achievement of the highest order, credit for which goes to political leaders on both sides."
In his effort to justify the alliance with Mubarak and belittle his brutal oppression of the Egyptian people, Avineri makes a most bizarre comparison:
"Just as it is permissible to praise former Prime Minister Menachem Begin for achieving peace with Egypt, without agreeing with many of his views it is permissible to praise former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for his determination, sometimes under great pressure, to preserve the peace initiated by his predecessor Anwar Sadat. That is not support for a despot; it's support for the moral content of peace."
The lip service paid to "Israel's interest in democracy in Egypt" is soon wiped out by the summary of his main message to Israelis – and, indirectly, to Egyptians as well: "But Egypt's internal regime is the business of its own citizens, and we would do well not to try to advise them whom to elect and whom not to elect. In any event, the moral aspect of peace, which is based on the principle of preserving human life and its quality of life, must be a guide to us, as to Egyptian society that has now embarked on a new path".

Avineri's indifference toward Mubarak’s despotic regime (and any regime that would replace his) because of Israel's interests in peace with Egypt, is merely the expression of US imperial strategy in the Middle East (and elsewhere), to which Israel is a lesser partner. This strategy consists of supporting even the most brutal oppressive regimes as long as they sustain their submission to US interests. A recent article by Noam Chomsky deals with, among other things, US concerns about the "shock wave throughout the region set in motion by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that drove out western-backed dictators." He reminds us of what he has been emphasizing for a long time: "Washington and its allies keep to the well established principle that democracy is acceptable only insofar as it conforms to strategic and economic objectives [..]The nature of any regime it backs in the Arab world is secondary to control. Subjects are ignored until they break their chains." 2

This is the true meaning of the "morality" that Prof. Avineri attributes to "maintaining security and stability" through peace with Egypt. He should know better the role of this "peace" in sustaining US and Israeli interests by fortifying the "moderate block" of the despotic Arab states. Their joint aim is to eliminate "secular nationalism," including the national rights of the Palestinian people. Mubarak's Egypt fully complied with Israel and the US in blocking a peace agreement that would recognize these rights, as has long since been known.

Shlomo Avineri's doctrine of privileging Israel's "security" over "internal" democracy, in the case of Egypt, has usually been adopted by leftist Zionists in regard to the Palestinian Authority, albeit without admitting it explicitly. It was Labor PM Ytzhak Rabin who justified Israeli "concessions" in the Oslo Accords on the grounds that the Accords would bring about a collaborative Palestinian Authority that would repress resistance "without [the shackles] of [Israel's] Supreme Court and [the human rights organization] B’tselem." And indeed, the Zionist left has embraced the autocratic regime that has developed under the PA, which thus granted the PA recognition as an "appropriate" partner for peace. This support for the oppressive and collaborationist PA has been shared by even the most militant wing of the Israeli peace camp. The release of the Al Jazeera documents, and Uri Avineri's response to them, have contributed the ultimate proof of this shameful support. These documents revealed the full compliance of the Palestinian leadership with US-Israeli demands, as well as their collaboration with the latter’s schemes to do away with the national Palestinian movement. 3

Gush Shalom, founded and led by Uri Avnery, responded to the Al Jazeera papers in its weekly statement in Haaretz of January 28, 2011, saying: "The Al Jazeera Disclosures prove: The Palestinians have no partner for peace."

Indeed, the "Palestine Papers" confirm in every detail that, during the last decade, Israeli governments have objected to any potential plan for peace settlement, while simultaneously entrenching the occupation regime in the '67 conquered territories. The papers disclose what was known to anyone who refused to take part in welcoming the charade of the peace process or to believe that it would lead to a peace settlement that would fulfill the Palestinians’ national aspirations. Uri Avney has played a significant role in creating and sustaining this baseless belief, which he shared with the intellectual elite and activists among the Zionist left. However, Avnery's positions have had a significant influence on genuine peace-seekers in Israel and abroad, due to his determined and persistent struggle against the '67 occupation and the atrocities committed in the occupied territories by Israeli authorities.

Avnery's optimistic message has relied on what he calls the "realism" of Arafat and the Palestinian leadership that ascended to power after his death; namely, their readiness for partial concessions to Israeli demands in the framework of the two-state solution which, however, don’t violate the basic national rights of the Palestinian people. Moreover, Avnery has constantly assured the public, both in Israel and abroad, that the concessions made by Abu Mazen are accepted by the majority of the Palestinians who recognize the Oslo-created Palestinian Authority as their representative. He never challenged the legitimacy of the PA leadership even after the victory of Hamas in the 2006 democratic elections, which the PA ignored and which brought about the separation from the Gaza Strip.

The revelations of the Al Jazeera papers, as well as Avnery's long response to them, highlight his the absolute loyalty to the the PA, whose betrayal of the Palestinian cause was well documented. I'll first briefly discuss a number of Al Jazeera revelations that prove the strong collaboration between the Palestinian leadership and Israel-US dictates, both in regards to the negotiations process and the Palestinian authocratic regime. After reporting on the dismayed reactions of Palestinians in response to these revelations, I'll present Avnery'slong response to the Al Jazeera papers in his January 29 article. In this article, he emphasizes his continued support of the collaborative Palestinian leadership and their "twostate solution" as disclosed in the papers. A review of his November 2010 article, in which he exprsses his admiration for the PA police regime, confirms the betrayal committed by both the PA and the leader of Israel's peace camp.

A Selective Summary of Al Jazeera Documents

Al Jazeera’s revelations point to the total capitulation of the Palestinian leaders, both those who led the negotiations (Abu Mazen and Saeb Erekat) and those who orchestrated the construction of a "police state" under Salam Fayyad's government. These detailed accounts narrate the secretly negotiated surrender of every one of Palestinians’ core rights under international law – including, among others, the PA's willingness to concede all of East Jerusalem, the settlements around Jerusalem except Har Homa, and the blocks of settlements that cut the West bank into encircled enclaves.

The PA’s betrayal, however, extends far beyond the realm of territorial concessions. The Palestinian leadership has explicitly compromised on the two fundamental principles adopted and upheld by the Palestinian national movement: first, the Right of Return of the approximately five million refugees to their homeland; and second, the refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state – the central premise of Zionism as embodied in the settler colonial state of Israel. 4

In explicitly recognizing the Jewish state, the current Palestinian leadership has turned their backs on the very perception that guided the Palestinian national struggle for entire decades: namely, that Zionism and the settler colonial state of Israel sought to abolish the Palestinian national movement; to commit the "sociocide" of the Palestinian people in all of historic Palestine; and, when possible, to drive their expulsion.

The recognition of Israel as a Jewish state also signifies the official abandonment of the Palestinians within Israel to their systematic discrimination and oppression as individuals and as a national collective. Moreover, it delegitimizes the democratic struggle undertaken to turn Israel into a state for all its citizens, allowing it to be continually defined as the state of the Jewish people alone.

The PA’s compromises on the Right of Return and the Jewish State are fully in accordance with Israel-US’s persistent attempts to fragment the Palestinian people. By the same token, the PA has been actively plotting with them against the legitimately constituted unity government with Hamas in Gaza. Senior PA officials deliberately suppressed Palestinian popular resistance in Gaza, and even called for Israel to once again "occupy" the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt after the border wall was blown up by Hamas activists in January 2008. 5

Revelations from the Wikileaks cables already underlined the US, Egyptian, Israeli, and Palestinian "cooperation" with Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, both before and during the “Operation Cast Lead” massacre (and, in the case of the US, a pre-knowledge of the humanitarian crisis that would develop before the attack even commenced). As shown by the Al Jazeera papers, the PA continued their collaboration with their three partners in their attempts to push the United Nations Human Rights Council to delay a vote on the Goldstone Report, the fact-finding probe of these war crimes. The documents reveal the PA-Israel collaboration in targeting resistance and in the repressive actions of the PA security forces, trained under General Dayton in the service of the occupation. 6

Angry Palestinian Reactions

The shock and anger expressed by Palestinian public figures was not late to appear. An article by Karma Nabulsi in the Guardian of 23/1/11 conveyed the growing disgust at the "outrageous role of the PA and US and Britain in creating a security Bantustan, and the ruin of our civic and political space … [Moreover], the claim they were acting in good faith is absolutely shattered by the publication of these documents [...] Whatever one’s political leanings, no one, not the Americans, the British, the UN, and especially not these Palestinian officials, can claim that the whole racket is anything other than a brutal process of subjugating an entire people." 7

Mahdi Abdul Hadi, the director of the Jerusalem think-tank Passia says, "It is now much clearer to Palestinians that they are living in a prison and that the PA leaders are there only to negotiate the terms of our imprisonment." 8

Palestinian public opinion leaders call to put an end to the Oslo leadership and to renew the Palestinian Liberation movement – which would encompass the entire Palestinian people, including the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Asad Ghanem, a professor of politics at Haifa University, says: "With politics stifled inside the occupied territories, it is crucial that outside Palestinian leaders step in to redefine the Palestinian national movement, including Palestinians such as himself who live inside Israel and groups in Diaspora." 9

Uri Avnery, however, was deaf to these voices. As said, he remained loyal to his traditional absolute support of the collaborative Oslo leadership and disregarded the Palestinians' call for its downfall.

Uri Avnery's Support for the PA Police Regime

A week after the release of the Palestinian Papers, Uri Avnery responded to their revelations in an article called "The Al Jazeera Scandal." 10

Avnery ignores the rage expressed by Palestinians at the PA’s betrayal of their people and their oppression carried out in collaboration with Israel and the US. Instead, he concentrates only on the concessions made in the "peace negotiations." These, according to him, "caused furious reactions and stirred up an intense controversy in the Arab world” (my italics).

However, he misleadingly claims that this controversy was only about trivial topics: "But what was the clash about? Not about the position of the Palestinian negotiators, not about the strategy of Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues, its basic assumptions, its pros and cons." Ignoring or belittling the Palestinian public reactions permits Avnery to direct his main attack on the Al Jazeera network, which he presumes was shared by the Palestinian masses in the West Bank: "On Al Jazeera the Palestinian leaders were wrongly accused "of treason and worse" Hence " in Ramallah, the Aljazeera offices were attacked by pro-Abbas crowds." On the other hand, he claims, the reaction of the Palestinian leaders themselves to Al Jazeera’s accusations lacked any bravery: "Saeb Erakat, the Palestinian chief negotiator and others did not have the courage to admit publicly that they indeed agreed 'in secret' to the concessions disclosed by Al Jazeera. They seemed to be saying in public that such concessions would amount to betrayal."

Depicting these concessions as betrayal "is nonsense," says Avnery. Moreover, "For anyone involved in any way with Israeli-Palestinian peace-making, there was nothing really surprising in these disclosures. " They confirmed that the Palestinian negotiators were following the very concessions made by Arafat himself in Oslo in order to achieve a peace agreement with Israel. Avnery proudly mentions his visit to Tunisia (before the PLO leadership was allowed to return to the '67 occupied territories and form the Palestinian Authority) when he heard from Arafat himself the details of the peace agreement which he would accept. A few years later, says Avnery, Gush Shalom published a draft peace agreement based on Arafat's positions: "As anyone can see on our website, it was very similar to the recent proposals of the Palestinian side as disclosed in the Aljazeera papers" (my italics). These proposals, says Avnery, "should be at the center of the public discussion".

Avnery's call for a debate that would focus on the negotiators' positions alone, while ignoring Al Jazeera’s revelations regarding the PA’s totalitarian regime, is rather futile. It is precisely this regime and its brutal repression of its people that enabled its leaders to make such capitulations to Israel-US demands. Moreover, the "new" discussion suggested by Avnery has been taking place for many years. Hundreds if not thousands of critical works have been published on the Palestinian surrender in Oslo and thereafter, as well as on Avnery's own political positions, which supported them.11 Unlike Avnery’s own analyses, these critical publications did realize the connection between the Israel/US version of a twostates solution and the kind of a Palestinian regime that would support such a "peace solution" at all.

No doubt Avnery is familiar with the plentiful information on the oppressive PA regime that has been published in recent years by senior political analysts and research centers. A study by Aisling Byrne of the Conflicts Forum in Beirut. based on this information, lays bare the disastrous dimensions of the "police state in the making" enforced by US and Israel: 12 Says Byrne:
"[General] Dayton is a political actor who essentially is overseeing and facilitating a process of political cleansing in the West Bank, the consequences of which for the Palestinian national project, for political reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and for political engagement and prospects for peace are damaging, if not disastrous…. "
Dayton has been clear about his aim: to reduce the 'IDF footprint' in the West Bank by developing Palestinian capabilities and 'proven abilities'; that is, capacity-building and training of the Palestinian security forces (“paramilitaries”, as the Wall Street Journal describes them); turning them, as he explained, into the “new men of Palestine13

Dayton’s ‘capacity-building’ initiatives are facilitating the creation of an autocratic and totalitarian ‘state’ led by Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad: political debate is almost nonexistent, criticism not allowed, and the extent of collusion between the Abu Mazen/Salam Fayyad government and their security forces with Israel is so extensive that both the Palestinian public and members of the security forces themselves are beginning to question and criticize “what they see as the PNA’s attempt to increase repression and curtail freedoms.” 14

A recent report in the British newspaper, the Mail on Sunday, exposed “the horrific torture of hundreds of people by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank [which] is being funded by British taxpayers”.15 The report documents how 'not only are PA forces carrying out torture … but that the authority [also] ignores judges’ orders to release political detainees' 16

' …. One Palestinian commentator described the new recruits as being 'saturated with ideological ideas against the resistance'.
'This is how', he explains, the PLO army has been molded to be the security forces that … protect Israeli settlements … and protect the Israeli army from Palestinians and all forms of resistance.'

"This process of creating ‘new Palestinians,’" says Byrne, "has complimented the political metamorphosis of the Palestinian Authority.' A high-ranking Israeli defense officer explained to leading Israeli journalist, Nahum Barnea [of Yediot Ahronot] in early October 2009 : 'the Palestinian Authority changed right in front of our eyes … The Fayyad government was formed [and] it was clear that they wanted to give Hamas a fight. We began to meet with the heads of the [Palestinian] security organizations”. …. At the top of our agenda we put law and order in the cities and the war on Hamas... We were surprised by the intensity of their willingness to cooperate.” 17
[..]'A key turning point', the Officer explained, 'was the intensification of American involvement. … We learned the lessons that the Americans learned from the fighting in Iraq. You take one place, Jenin for example, you crush terror there, you put a strong police force there and move on. We started with Jenin… At first, it failed. Fayyad said, let’s try again. We tried again, and it caught. We needed a lot of patience … The greatest achievement was that the moderates defeated the extremists”.

'The extent of collusion', explains Palestinian analyst Ramzy Baroud, 'illustrates how the Palestinian Authority functions more than ever before as a subcontractor for the IDF, the Shin Bet security service and the Civil Administration'18

Avnery's hair-raising and utterly misleading portrayal of his allies in the PA is presented in his article of 4 November 2010, a year after the horrid facts were published in foreign and Israeli newspapers. 19

Avnery glorifies Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian government that runs the autocratic regime in the West Bank:

"It is impossible not to like Fayyad. He radiates decency, seriousness and a sense of responsibility. He invites trust…In the confrontation between Fatah and Hamas, he does not belong to either of the two rival blocs…. Fayyad believes, so it seems, that the Palestinians’ only chance to achieve their national goals is by non-violent means, in close cooperation with the US."

Avnery depicts this belief as a version of Zionist labor "pragmatism" led by Ben Gurion: "This is reminiscent of the classic Zionist strategy under David Ben-Gurion. In Zionist parlance, this was called 'creating facts on the ground'. He plans to build the Palestinian national institutions and create a robust economic base, and by the end of 2011, to declare the State of Palestine.'
Avnery is thrilled at the sight of "statehood" which takes the form of Palestinian security forces, trained by General Keith Dayton, the US Security Coordinator for the Palestinians since 2005. "Anyone who has seen them knows that this is for all practical purposes a regular army. On Land Day demonstration, the Palestinian soldiers, with their helmets and khaki uniforms, were deployed on the hill, while the Israeli soldiers, similarly attired, were deployed below. That was in Area C, [60 % of the West bank] which according to the Oslo Accords is under Israeli military control. Both armies used the same American jeeps, just differently colored."
What a cynical scene! A staged gesture by the Occupier allows a military unit of the occupied to parade in an area that is under Israel's full control on the day the Palestinian people commemorate the unabashed ongoing robbery of Palestinian lands both in Israel proper and the West Bank. And a famous Israeli peace struggler watches on with admiration?

The Zionist left has always supported US imperialism and its autocratic Arab allies, claiming that US policy seeks to enforce peace and democracy in the Middle East. This claim has likewise been the pretext for their support of the PA police state in the making. However, Uri Avnery's embrace of Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad’s oppressive regime lays bare an appalling fact: the genuine Palestinian national movement has no partner, even within the most radical wing of Israel's so-called "peace camp.”

1 See Avineri's support of the law which requires all newly naturalized citizens to take an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state Shlomo Avinery: A Substantive Oath of Allegiance, Haaretz 25.07.2010

2 Noam Comsky, "It's not radical Islam that worries the US –it's independenc" guardian.co.uk, Friday 4 February 2011

3 The entire Palestine Papers archive is being made available online on the Al Jazeera English website: http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/.

4 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/palestinian-negotiators-jewish-state-papers

5 Ali Abunimah" Cutting off a vital connection, Electronic Intifada " 25 January 2011

6 The Electronic Intifada, 26 January 2011

7 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/23/middle-east-peace-process-over-palestinians

8 see Jonathan Cook: Can the Palestinian Authority survive?http://www.israeli-occupation.org/2011-01- 31/jonathan-cook-can-the-palestinian-authority-survive.

9 Jonatan Cook, Ibid

10 Avnery columns' archive ,29 January 2011

11 See for example Steven Friedman and Virginia Tilley, Taken for a Ride by the Israeli Left., In Electronic Intifada, 27 January 2007m( A Response to Uri Avnery"What Makes Sammy Run, 30, Decenber, 2006 12 Aisling Byrne,"Businessmen Posing as Revolutionaries :General Dayton and the “New Palestinian Breed” ,A Conflict Forum Monograph at Beirut , November 2009 www.conflictsforum.org. In a paper presented in a Conference named "The Development of neo-colonial structures under the guise of ‘state-building’ , the Centre for Development Studies, Bir Zeit University and Ghent University, September 2010, Aisling Byrne added both update information and analysis to the 2009 monograph. The final version of her paper- "Building a Police State in Palestine" was published in Foreign Policy,January18, 2011 http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011

13 Palestinian Support Wanes for American-Trained Forces, Charles Levinson, Wall Street Journal, 15 October 2009. See also Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, Michael Stein Address on US Middle East Policy, Program of the SOREF Symposium, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 7 May 2009;

14 Palestinian Security Sector Governance: The View of Civil Society in Nablus, Spotlight No. 1, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, May 2009 and Palestinian Support Wanes for American-Trained Forces, Charles Levinson, Wall Street Journal, 15 October 2009

15 Financed by the British taxpayer, brutal torturers of the West Bank, David Rose, Mail on Sunday, 31 January 2009 (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1133032/Financed-British-taxpayer-brutaltorturers- West-Bank.html#

16 The new political and security job for the duo – Fayyad-Dayton, Yousef Shali, Al Aser On-line Magazine, 6 July 2009

17 Anatomy of a Victory, Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Ahronoth, 9 October 2009

18 Abbas and the Goldstone Report: Our Shame is Complete, Ramzy Baroud, The Palestine Chronicle, 15 October 2009

19 "Fayyad's Big Gamble", November 4 2010

Sunday, 20 February 2011

As the Fire Spreads in the Middle East - The Army Leadership in the Arab Countries Must Be Destroyed


As I wrote 2 weeks the revolutions in the Middle East are half-finished. The dictators Ben Ali and Mubarak of Tunisia and Egypt have departed but their regimes remain intact. Instead of Mubarak's 'civilian' facade we have the naked reality of army rule.

But in any revolution there is no standing still. Either the warfor democracy and social revolution goes forward in the Middle East or it goes backwards.

The separation of the oil in from the people is an essential feature of the Middle East. That is why the US and West sent an army thousands of miles to regain Kuwait from Saddam Hussein in 1991.

The fire has spread to Libya, Yemen, Bahrain threatening even the fabulously wealthy Gulf regimes which import foreign labour for the work that needs to be done. Our task is to offer solidarity and support wherever possible and to urge that the regimes in the Middle East be torn out, roots and all.

Without the defeat of the Arab regimes, the partners of US imperialism (& indirectly Israel) there is no hope of defeating Zionism.
Although it is welcome that Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Britain finally came off the fence and supported the demonstrations against Mubarak (whilst not mobilising anyone), despite having nothing to say for over a week on its web site, that is not enough. PSC should have no truck with the PA representative in Britain Manuel Hassasian, whose 'embassy' was quite rightly occupied by Palestinian students.

If anyone has difficulty understanding what is happening in the Middle East, the headline in the Jewish Chronicle, paper of the Jewish and Zionist establishmentsays it all 'Israel Trembles as Egypt Quakes.'

Col. Ghadaffi in Libya has shown his true colours with the massacre of demonstrators in Benghazi. So much for the 'green revolution'.

The article below, slightly abridged, was printed in Weekly Worker, for which I contribute the occasional article last week but is still relevant.

Tony Greenstein

Weekly Worker 852 Thursday February 10 2011

There is one thing that unites Israel, Hamas and Fatah, writes Tony Greenstein - opposition to the Egyptian revolution

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world lie in the contortions and discomfort of imperialism’s mouthpieces. No longer do we hear the US rhetoric about spreading democracy in the Middle East. Even the word ‘freedom’ has been laid to one side. Instead the buzz word is ‘stability’, that favourite excuse for fascism through the ages.

No sooner had Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali been driven into exile by his people than the Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, was facing the wrath of his people. But whereas the Tunisian dictator was a minor imperialist client, Mubarak was the lynchpin of US interests in the Middle East after Israel itself.

Egypt has the largest population and working class in the region. It receives the highest amount of US aid after Israel itself, approximately $2.5 billion a year. Egypt is situated in a critically important strategic position, astride the Suez Canal. In former years, its importance lay in its situation on the route to India, now it is its proximity to the oil fields of Arabia.

It is therefore understandable that Obama and the US regime should appear like rabbits trapped in the headlights of a car. What was originally a localised disturbance in a small North African country has rapidly spread to Egypt and further afield to Jordan and Yemen. It is instructive is to witness the contortions and obfuscation of imperialism and its allies.

One of the main arguments of its propagandists is that Israel is the Middle East’s ‘only democracy’. You could have been excused for thinking that the revolts against Mubarak would have caused the ‘democrats’ of Tel Aviv uncontained pleasure. After all they have repeatedly contrasted their own ‘Jewish’ democracy with the reign of terror of Arab tyrants. Someone who was unacquainted with Israel and Zionism, other than via its rhetoric, would have been forgiven for thinking that the least Israel’s Knesset could do was to pass by acclamation a resolution supporting the Egyptian demonstrators.

Of course the reaction of the Israeli government was nothing of the kind. As Prime Minister Netanyahu explained: ‘Our efforts have been intended to continue to preserve stability and security in our region… the peace between Israel and Egypt has lasted for over three decades.
Ha’aretz reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry had issued a directive to embassies telling them to stress to their host countries the importance of Egypt's stability. But the reality has been that the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978 allowed Israel to turn its attention to the northern border with Lebanon and to concentrate on settlement on the West Bank and repressing the Palestinians.

Shimon Peres, President and former Labour Prime Minister and ‘dove’ was even more fulsome in support of Mubarak. ‘Egypt's embattled leader, Hosni Mubarak, will always be remembered for preserving three decades of peace between the two nations… Peres delivered an impassioned defense of Mubarak, crediting him with saving both Arab and Israeli lives by preventing war in the Middle East.’

Indeed the stance of Netanyahu and the Zionist leadership and its failure to offer so much as word of support to the Egyptian protesters has become positively embarrassing. Even the Jerusalem Post, a paper of the Zionist right, and its columnist Shmuley Boteach bemoaned how ‘Israel is missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support Arab freedom. While others cheer Hosni Mubarak’s fall, Israel grows apprehensive.’ According to the aforementioned logic ‘Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and it ought be the region’s foremost champion of human rights. .. To now see Israel squander an historic opportunity to publicly champion Arab freedom out of fear for radicals like the Muslim Brotherhood or a repeat of Hamas’s election in Gaza is deeply regrettable and counterproductive’

This of course is the official pretext. If Mubarak and his torture chambers and murderous police state go, then the Muslim Brotherhood may come to power and the peace treaty will be in jeopardy. In other words, because democracy means that most Arabs reject the abject humiliation of the Camp David Accords, in which Egyptian regained the Sinai desert, conquered in 1967, in return for a carte blanche in dealing with the Palestinians, it is essential to form an alliance with the brutal dictatorship of Mubarak. This the price of a peace agreement based on an acceptance of the dispossession and confiscation of Palestinian land.

But the gap between Israel’s self-justificatory prose and the reality have never been so marked. Because IF Israel really was the Middle East’s only democracy then it would have welcomed the Egyptian revolution. Instead there are rumours that Israel has offered to help the Egyptian police in their task of repression, no doubt using some of the chemical weapons that Israel has tested to perfection on the Palestinians. For the first time in 30 years Israel has allowed Egyptian troops into the Sinai.

But Israel is not the only power to face such dilemmas. This true of the West’s reaction as a whole. This is no Orange Revolution nor is it an East European uprising against a Stalinist tyrant. As the Observer’s Parliamentary Correspondent, Andrew Rawnsley, (6.2.11) noted ‘The west should cheer, not fear, this cry for freedom in Egypt .’ But Rawnsley is not a man not versed in the subtleties of imperial foreign policy.

The position of the US has been particularly interesting. Caught on the horns of a dilemma, it could hardly condemn the protesters openly but nor could it dissociate itself from a regime that has faithfully done its bidding. So Obama has been forced to support Mubarak remaining for the transition, whilst making it clear to him privately that it was necessary to replace him in order to guarantee a continuation of his regime. Vice President Biden couldn’t understand what Egyptians were protesting about! Hilary Clinton was left flustering. So the US policy has been to back Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s appointed deputy and the lynchpin of the relationship with the CIA. A man with responsibility for the secret police and torture.

But for all its fake outrage over Political Islam it is interesting to see how Israeli leaders are at one with Hamas and the quisling Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. In Gaza and Ramallah, both regimes are united in their hostility to protests against Mubarak. Hamas leaders have long reached a tacit understanding on the tunnels under the border with Egypt, with all the resulting corruption involved. The Palestinian Authority and Abbas have had a strong relationship with Mubarak who has been their partner, with Israel, in enforcing the blockade on Gaza and attempting to replace Hamas with their own quisling brand of politics. Whereas Hamas has been unable to prevent demonstrations against Mubarak, the Palestinian Authority has gone out of its way to prevent demonstrations, threatening its organisers with torture (95% of those arrested by PA Security Services are tortured). http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2011/01/palestinian-lapdog-tortures-its-own.html

The reaction of the Palestinian bourgeoisie, in both its secular and Islamic guise, Hamas and Fateh, is instructive. Both fear the Arab masses more than imperialism and Zionism. Whilst Abbas is an open collaborator and quisling, his forces trained by the US General Dayton in Jordan, Hamas too seeks a place in the sun. Hamas wants to come to come in from the cold and reach a deal with imperialism. Unfortunately imperialism has no use for Hamas at present. It is noteworthy in this context how the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has also been lukewarm over the protests.

Socialists and anti-Zionists by contrast are clear. Without the liberation of the Arab East from the local allies of imperialism, without taking the oil resources of the region under democratic workers’ control, there is no hope for the Palestinian masses in their struggle with Zionism. Both Hamas and Fateh fear this above all, which is why they fear the loss of Mubarak.

But we also have to cut through the ‘people power’ phraseology. The protesters in Egypt include both bourgeois elements opposed to Mubarak but not Mubarakism and working class forces. The present stalemate in Egypt can go either of two ways. It can lead to a reinforcement of the regime under Suleiman or its destruction. What cannot happen is for the present position to continue. If the latter, which is the only way to achieve liberation and freedom regionally, then the power of the Egyptian state needs to be broken and with it illusions in the Egyptian army. The leaders of the Army are part of the problem not the solution. They are the corrupt supporters of the Mubarak regime and its alliance with Israel, being funded by US aid. They have every interest in preserving the regime. Their hesitation to set the army on the masses is not due to their ‘patriotic’ role but because they fear that the rank and file soldier will not obey orders.

The key element today is the organisation of working class forces and the creation of working class and opposition militias plus an open call on the army to join the revolution and turn its guns on its officers. There is no other way to ensure the liberation of the Arab masses than the destruction of the Egyptian regime. This is the fear of Obama, Netanyahu, Abbas and Hamas. As the 30 year old political stalemate in the Arab world, under the pressure of the world economic crisis, begins to unfreeze, the determination of imperialism to replace one tyrant with another should be firmly resisted.

It is little wonder that Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel’s Chief of Staff, warns today that as a results of the protests Israel must be prepared for a new war.

Tony Greenstein

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The lousy Hamas government

I have written before on how Hamas represses, wherever possible, the population of Gaza.

The latter post, citing as it does an important article by Haidar Eid, an Associate Professor at Gaza's Al Aqsa University is particularly important.

I was e-mailed today by someone who was previously unknown to me, one Nahida. Nahida confined her argument to the Subject line: ' Would you please get your facts right and stop spreading zionist propaganda poison and lies against the Palestinian Resistance'. Although clearly an Islamist, her argument belongs in what we used to call the Stalinist School of Falsification. 70 years ago, if you criticised Stalinism you were supporting imperialism. Today if you criticise Hamas you are criticising the Palestinian struggle, as if the resistance is embodied in an Islamic movement that is both incoherent politically and inarticulate.

She cites the demonstrations in Gaza as some kind of proof that Hamas therefore supported the Revolution in Egypt. I have no doubt that youths and others in Gaza supported and took part in demonstrations against Mubarak and in support of the Egyptian revolution but that doesn't mean Hamas was responsible for, or supported, those demonstrations.

It is a fact that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is essentially the Gazan wing, did not support the Egyptian protests for the first few days and was cautious afterwards. This is consistent with its historical record of being a very conservative and reactionary political formation and one which has always been cautious about supporting mass movements.

The people of Gaza and Hamas are of course not one and the same. Hamas did try to stop demonstrations against Mubarak but found it impossible to maintain such a stance, in view of the siege of Gaza by Egypt. But according to Nahida's 'logic' maybe the blogger Angry Arab is also a Zionist when he posted the following on Tuesday, February 01 2011:

The lousy Hamas government in Gaza yesterday stopped Palestinians in Gaza from demonstrating in support of the Egyptian people's uprising. They even apprehended the protesters for a few hours. So the Palestinian people now live under double oppression: that of Israeli occupation, and that of Fatah in West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.

Another argument of Nahida is that Ha'aretz is a Zionist paper. But of course it is irrelevant whether or not Haaretz is a Zionist paper or not. There is no Zionist interest in showing that Hamas is also opposed, alongside the Israeli government, to democracy in the Arab world. In fact Israeli and western propaganda has been designed to show that Islamic fundamentalism is behind the protests. This is the argument of the US neo-cons and anyone who saw the interview of John Bolton, the Bush assistant Secretary of State last week.

But of course Islamic fundamentalists are not democrats since the word of god is not open to debate or question. Haaretz is also Israel’s only liberal Zionist paper and as such has printed many articles that anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians have used. Indeed Zionists regularly complain about Haaretz’s failure to be a propaganda sheet. Neither Amira Hass and Gideon Levy are Zionists and I know that Amira Hass, who lived in Gaza, is very critical of the authoritarianism of Hamas, as I’m sure is Gideon Levy.

But let's see what Haidar Eid, who no-one can accuse of being a 'Zionist' said in Tough Questions for Hamas of 2 November 2010:

'Despite its somewhat fiery statements, Hamas's impulse and willingness to deal with American propositions are indeed astonishing. Two letters were sent, as far as I know, to the new Obama administration after the term of former US President George W. Bush ended. The Americans emphasized that they declined to accept the first letter. However, it is the content of the letters and how they reflect the aspirations of Palestinians -- both in all of historic Palestine as well as in the Diaspora -- that is significant.

The content of these letters along with statements made by senior Hamas leaders indicate to the US Hamas's acceptance of and commitment to the two-state solution; i.e. the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. Yet many Hamas leaders simultaneously accentuate their refusal to recognize the State of Israel and accept the two-state solution! Simply put, the Palestinian leadership elected by the majority of one-third of the Palestinian people, i.e. the population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is announcing its commitment to a racist solution that disregards the rights of 6-7 million Palestinian refugees, and the national and cultural rights of 1.4 million Palestinians in Israel....

Hamas's success in the 2006 elections was due mainly to the fact that the Palestinian national movement failed to accomplish its declared goals, abandoned the "interim program" and accepted an exceptionally racist solution that denies internationally legitimated historical rights. However, Hamas's acceptance of the two-state solution, or a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders as it is often called, is not at odds politically with either the left or right wing of the national movement.

But what does this state look like? And does Hamas have an alternative to the two-state, or two-prison, solution which has become impossible to achieve?

The experience of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip offers a miniature model of an Islamic state, whereas the West Bank stands as the Bantustan state to be declared in November 2011. It is common knowledge that Gaza has recently undergone ideological social transformations through laws that are enforced without being enacted. Such laws target individual freedoms, particularly those of women, who are no longer allowed to smoke water pipe in public or ride behind their spouses on motorcycles. Likewise, female students are now forced to wear the jilbab and the hijab, while female lawyers must wear the hijab. Of course, these practices claim to "protect our customs and traditions," but is there a traditional text that bars women from smoking, for instance? The democracy that provided the foundation for the 2006 elections is based on guaranteeing individual freedoms. Many statements made by Hamas leaders inside and outside of Gaza before the elections emphasized that those leaders would respect such freedoms if elected.

The transformation of many members of the resistance, who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their homeland and who exerted impressive efforts to defend Gaza in 2009, into religious police like those in Saudi Arabia requires a serious and critical revision by Hamas.

Therefore, it is obvious that Hamas is unable to realize that the war on Gaza in 2009 has created a new political reality whereby Israel pulled the trigger on the racist two-state/two-prison solution. Hamas insists on adopting this approach and claims it is a temporary tactic until the balance of power shifts, as the movement assumes it will within the truce period of ten or twenty years. During this time, it plans to build a state after its model in Gaza. This only indicates the lack of a clear strategic vision to end the conflict, a vision that draws on past global struggles against colonialism, particularly against the abhorrent South African apartheid regime, which collapsed resoundingly in 1994.

Unfortunately, there has been no indication, based on my reading of many statements made by Hamas leaders, of a clear understanding within the movement either of the apartheid nature of the State of Israel or of the tools used by the South African anti-apartheid movement. One such tool is the international boycott campaign, without which the apartheid regime would not have ended. This demonstrates Hamas's failure to understand the role of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS). As a recent report by the Israel-based Reut Institute indicates, even the Israelis themselves are concerned about the momentum the BDS movement is gaining. There is no statement whatsoever, either in public speeches of Hamas officials or in its literature, which indicates an understanding of these efforts which, as Reut claimed, served to "delegitimize Israel" and "pose a threat to its very existence."

Hamas is politically reactionary in many ways. But for the Israeli/Egyptian siege it would have stepped up its own repression of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It has made efforts to force women to wear the veil, it has attacked supporters of the PFLP and it has been guilty of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners. I support the liberation of Palestine not the substitution of one form of oppression for another. I support Hamas when it confronts Israel, not when it confronts its own people.

Nahida's argument is similar to those who say that because Iran is under threat by US imperialism we should therefore not support pro-democracy protestors. On the contrary I say that the best way to defeat imperialism is the maximum democracy in the Arab world and Iran.

Hamas is politically illiterate. It says it wants one Arab/Muslim state in Palestine and also says in private that it would accept 2 states as a solution. It cites as authentic the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic forgery of the Czarist secret police, which was the bible of anti-Jewish racists in Europe. Anti-semitism i.e. anti-Jewish racism in Europe directly led to the creation of the Zionist movement with all the consequences we know. The creation of the Israeli state, a state based on racial exclusivism and separation, was Hitler’s final achievement. To give any support to anti-Semitism is effectively to support those who were themselves responsible for the expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinians.

I should add that the demand for an Islamic or Arab state in Palestine does not take any account of non-Arabs including Israeli Jews. In short it is no solution and the idea that a religious sectarian movement can represent Palestinians who are not just followers of Islam but contain for example Christians, illustrates the problems of supporting uncritically such a group.

Rather than employing a well reasoned argument, something which is of course impossible, especially for a supporter of Political Islam, Nahida uses this ‘guilt by association’ technique which calls Haaretz ‘Zionist’ as a means of avoiding the fact that Hamas did try to prevent demonstrations in Gaza.

Tony Greenstein

From: nahida [mailto:nahidayasin@]
Sent: 15 February 2011 09:59
To: tony greenstein
Subject: Would you please get your facts right and stop spreading zionist propaganda poison and lies against the Palestinian Resistance

The Egyptian Counter-Revolution Has Begun as Hamas and the PA Support Mubarak

Hamas Shows Its True Colours (says Tony)

Hamas blocks Egypt solidarity demonstrations in Gaza, says rights group (says zionist haaretz)
http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/hamas-blocks-egypt-solidarity-demonstrations-in-gaza-says-rights-group-1.340549
FYI: We have watched the supportive demonstrations in Gaza LIVE

Gaza youths celebrate Egypt revolution

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41406413/ns/world_news-mideast/n_africa/ http://www.presstv.ir/detail/164923.html
http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/03/anti_mubarak_protesters_rally_in_gaza_arrested_on_west_bank

Yousef al-Helou, Press TV, Gaza

Thousands of students and youths held demonstrations in Gaza city, carrying Egyptian and Palestinian flags as well as banners praising the Egyptian revolution which led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak following 18 consecutive days of mass protests across Egypt.

The joyful protestors who gathered at the courtyard of the Palestinian legislative council said they came out to celebrate and express solidarity with the Egyptians.
Meanwhile, hundreds of women and female students also gathered at Palestine square in downtown Gaza to send a message of support to the Egyptian protestors in Cairo's Liberation square who were finally successful in ousting President Mubarak after 30 years of autocratic rule.

Emotions are strong among Gazans who would like to see a new government in Egypt that will break the ongoing Israeli siege by opening the Rafah border in order to allow aid convoys and supplies to reach Gaza without Israeli interference.

The will of the Egyptian people proved to be stronger than dictators and tyrannical rulers. However, with Gaza's only terminal to the outside world still closed, activists have started a campaign calling for the opening of the Rafah gate to liberate Gazans.

Mazeltov to the Jewish Socialists’ Group

25 Years Fighting the Board of Deputies of British Jews

I went to a meeting last night hosted by the Jewish Socialists’ Group. An excellent meeting it was on ‘Policing, Surveillance and Community Security’.

Liz Davies and Kat Craig of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, who represented students in cases arising from recent demonstrations and occupations, including advising the student occupation at UCL, I believe unwisely, to defend possession proceedings.

Kat’s contribution on her involvement as the instructing solicitor in Austin v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis was especially interesting. I have a personal interest as I myself initiated an action against Sussex Police for an assault at the July 2006 demonstration in Hove against the attack on Lebanon and Austin was cited by the Defence to my legal action as to why Police were within their rights to contain demonstrators and harass them.

Austin was a House of Lords case which gave the Police legal sanction to kettle demonstrators. Kettling is in essence the punishment of those who have the temerity to demonstrate and has led to protestors spending 8-9 hours in a tightly confined space, without food, drink or toilets, often cold. It represents a judicial and police attack on the right to demonstrate and directly led to the murder by the Metropolitan Police of Ian Tomlinson, a news vendor, at the G20 Protests last year. It was been one more instance of the ratchetting up of legal attacks on the right to demonstrate and it was good to learn that it is being appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, which I predict will outlaw this particular police tactic.

Other speakers were Matty Mitford from No2ID who discussed policing and surveillance issues and Julia Bard of the JSG who looked at the Community Security Trust, the Board of Deputies security force. A number of people from the floor gave personal experience of being harassed and physically assaulted by these Zionist goons, whose primary purpose is to prevent British Jews coming into contact with the anti-Zionist or non-Zionist left. Experiences included that of Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods who tried to ask a question at a JNF ‘environmental’ meeting at which David Bellamy was supposed to speak, but didn’t, at the Institute of Education last year. Naomi was physically removed, literally, from the meeting as was another person who had the temerity to ask the question (yes they were both howled down by the audience - so much for their toleration of debate unlike our meetings).

Julia noted the government’s decision to give the Community Security Trust, which I’ve written about many times on this blog, up to £2 million to protect Jewish schools. As she pointed out, what will the effect be of having security guards outside schools and barbed wire to protect the buildings? The effect is to institutionalise the isolation of Jewish children from the non-Jewish population – a very Zionist idea. There is no reason to believe Jewish schools are under more threat than anywhere else. As was pointed out, the CST issued its recent report on anti-Semitic incidents, 900 in 2010, amid a PR fanfare of the second highest number of incidents on record. What could have been said was that there was a 31% fall from last year’s figures!

In fact as my own experience demonstrates, the CST's statistics are flawed, lack any transparency or independent monitoring, and are highly subjective. It is one thing to classify a physical attack on someone because they are Jewish or the defacing of a gravestone with swastikas. It is quite another to label as 'anti-Semitic' the shouting of pro-Palestinian slogans at people who identify both as Jews and supporters of Israel.

One of those incidents was one I reported! Another is believed to be one which never happened, reported by Jonathan Hoffman arising out of a Bricup meeting at SOAS last year, when Hoffman pretended he had been subject to anti-Semitic jeering. The video recording of this showed no such thing and the BBC withdrew its report of the matter after 24 hours and the Press Complaints Commission criticised the Jewish Chronicle for omitting all mention of the contested nature of Hoffman’s allegation.

The incident I report was in fact 2 incidents. Two anonymous messages were posted to this blog – one from a holocaust denier and the other from a Zionist. The former denied, of course, the holocaust. The latter didn’t deny the holocaust – his only desire was that me and my family could have been the victims! The CST decided that the former was anti-Semitic but not the latter because the latter incident was clearly from someone who is themselves Jewish!

Although the magazine Jewish Socialist was founded 25 years ago, (the JSG itself, as David Rosenberg points out, is about 36 years old) it was more a left-Zionist group, initiated by people like ex-communist Aubrey Lewis, as a way of deflecting left hostility to Zionism and Israel. Along the way it began to discover that there was more to Jewish history than nationalism and it took a turn to Bundism – the mass Jewish socialist group in Eastern European and the Pale of Settlement in Russia. When the JSG was first formed it caused panic in the Jewish establishment as the monopoly of the Zionist Right over a placid community was seen as being under threat. A couple of years ago, there was a feature piece on JSG stalwarts – David Rosenberg and Julia Bard! Unfortunately the Jewish Chronicle has regressed since that article as per its recent appointment of ex-Express Editor Stephen Pollard.

But I can recall many a polemic with the JSG over its admittedly soft attitude to Zionism and Israel. In particular I had heated polemics with the late Steve Cohen over his belief that it was anti-Semitic to expect Jews to take any stance on Israel, as well as over the whole question of Zionism and racism and something called 'left anti-Semitism'. My own position was, and is, that there is no such phenomenon and although individuals on the left can have anti-Jewish prejudices, as a current it does not exist. In so far as you are racist then you are not on the left.

Steve, who slowly came to adopt some of the positions of his erstwhile antagonists, in particular concerning the racism of the Israeli state also began to accept that there is no monolithic Jewish culture. He expressed a number of doubts to me when I met him for the last time at a Liverpool conference on trade unions and immigration controls. I had first met him in 2000 at a similar conference, Barbed Wire Europe, in Oxford. By then Steve was already crippled and using a walking stick. He had been an immigration lawyer and a fine anti-racist activist, despite a blindness to what Zionism had done, and it was especially pleasing that, despite previous polemics, Steve joined in with myself and Lenni Brenner, to castigate the refusal of Indymedia to remove anti-Semitic articles by Gilad Atzmon. It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of this giant of humanity and a comrade I wished I’d got to know better during his lifetime but I was determined to attend, which I did, his memorial service in Manchester two years ago.

The JSG has therefore been an eclectic mixture. Many of its members have been what one might call the liberal wing of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and I would argue they hankered over a Yiddish past that is no more and can be no more. But they have provided a welcome space for Jews in Britain who are suffocated by the establishment kow-towing to Zionism, Israel and respectable bourgeois politics.

And although the JSG has been as much a cultural as political group, it has always taken the fight against racism and fascism seriously. No one more so than David Landau, who puts us all to shame. Having read most if not all of its magazines, Jewish Socialist, I must say that the present cover, with a picture of the thugs of the English Defence League is possibly its best ever. Underneath is the caption ‘The New Lovers of Zion’!

Tony Greenstein

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Hail to the Egyptian Revolution – But Keep Your Powder Dry

Mubarak Down and the Army Generals Must Be Next

One can only stand in awe and admiration of the Egyptian masses for achieving the overthrow of the dictator Hosni Mubarak, former leader of the most important US client in the region after Israel. Their bravery and endurance is as remarkable as is their suffering.

A report by Chris McGreal in The Guardian only 2 days ago show the Egyptian army’s hostility to the revolution, even in Tahrir Square, the centre of the protest movement.
There can be no doubt that the Army, which has now taken power, is up to its neck in all manner of human rights abuses and corruption. If the revolution is to triumph it is essential that the armed forces, who until recently buttressed Mubarak, are not allowed to destroy the gains made so far. The revolution must continue until those who defended Mubarak and his agreement with Israel are defeated.

The revolution has succeeded in its aim of overthrowing Mubarak but it hasn’t succeeded yet in overthrowing Mubarakism, the system that he installed. The military is still the primary power in Egypt, albeit now it is in the open.

At the moment we are in a transition from a dictatorship under Mubarak to Martial Law. It is essential that the army is broken from its officers and the support that undoubtedly exists within its ranks for a democratic transformation of society proceeds.

In my article a few days ago on the Egyptian counter-revolution, when police and lumpen elements were sent in to attack the demonstrators, I warned of the dangers of a counter-revolution. That danger is still very real and there is a major possibility of a blood bath and the army turning their fire on civilians and demonstrators. There is a need for a working class party to unify and provide organisation within the protestors' movement, which embraces a number of different classes and class interests, in order to forge ahead for the full democratisation of Egypt and the expulsion of US imperialism.

Tony Greenstein

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Proof that only BOYCOTT Works

Israel's Knesset to Hold Debate on Cultural Boycott

News comes from the Alternative Information Centre in Jerusalem that the Knesset is to hold its first discussion of the cultural boycott. The wave of boycotts by artists – from Santana to Elvis Costello – Israelis are beginning to get the message that the civilised world doesn’t agree with the settlers theft of Palestinian land and resources in the West Bank nor the racism against Israeli Arabs – who are treated as tolerated guests at best – in Israel itself.

All the talking, agonising, breast beating and diplomacy has achieved absolutely nothing. Indeed the only ‘achievement’ of the diplomatic process, the Oslo Accords, which all these witterers praised to the heavens in 1993, has been to set back the struggle immensely. Its only creation is the Palestinian Authority, the bastard fruit of Oslo, which has created a Palestinian Police State before the State itself came into existence.

As some members of the blog will know, I and several others resigned from PSC in 1993 after an Emergency General Meeting voted to support Oslo by a 2/3 majority. Prime amongst those supporting Oslo was unfortunately Uri Davies, an Israeli who today is a member of Fateh, another unfortunate political choice. Uri’s undoubted erudition is in stark contrast to this political stupidity. In 2005 I was enticed to rejoin PSC by none other than Betty Hunter, who told me that everything had changed! Unfortunately it hadn’t, or at least not for the better.

Boycott however is something new, that has developed as a result of the successful experience of the Anti-Apartheid Struggle. As Apartheid in South Africa was coming to an end that in Israel was being entrenched. As South Africa abandoned the Homelands policy of creating Bantustans, in Israel Apartheid was being strengthened, with the creation of a watered down version of a Bantustan (or as Moshe Machover has described it, the equivalent of an Indian Reservation).

But now that Israeli politicians have woken up to the ‘danger’ of Boycott we must do our best to ensure that Boycott is indeed a danger to Zionism and Israeli Apartheid.

Tony Greenstein

BDS Success: First Ever Knesset Discussion on Combating Cultural Boycott of Israel

Wednesday, 02 February 2011 16:26 Alternative Information Center (AIC)

The power of the Palestinian-led movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel (BDS) has resulted in yet another first – a discussion of the cultural boycott on 1 February by the Education and Culture Committee of the Knesset.

Attended by representatives of the Ministries of Education and Culture, together with Israeli entertainment producers who have been financially harmed by the cultural boycott of Israel, the Education and Culture Committee discussed the topic of the boycott of Israel by international artists.

The chairperson of the committee, MK Alex Miller, of the ultra-right wing Zionist party Yisrael Beitenu, called on the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Culture and Finance to establish an inter-ministerial committee to examine how to protect producers who are harmed by artists who cancel their appearances in Israel for ideological reasons.

The discussion came in response to a wave of artist boycotts in recent months, among them Elvis Costello, Vanessa Paradis, Johnny Depp, Dustin Hoffman, and the Pixies.

The organization Boycott from Within has played a large role in encouraging artists to follow their conscience and not perform in Israel.

“BDS's non-violent and human rights based campaign urges artists not to put their stamp of approval on Israel's system of often murderous ethnic discrimination. As such, an international performance in Israel is understood amongst the Israeli public as condoning this reality and making a statement against the necessity to change it,”
the group wrote in a letter to singer Macy Gray, explaining the importance of the BDS movement.

“Coming to perform in Israel has become a political act, a statement of support for the state of Israel's ongoing crimes and human rights violations. It is also an act against a rapidly growing non-violent human-rights based civil society Palestinian movement. The question remains: is this a political act you wish to take part in?”
the letter said.

MK Miller announced at the meeting that he, together with MK Ronit Tirosh, of the right-wing Likud party, will be drafting legislation that provides compensation to producers. He also called on the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture to construct a joint strategy to deal with the phenomenon of the delegitimisation of Israel in the world of culture.

Eran Sheishon, head of the political-security team of the Reut Institute, said that campaigns must be conducted to encourage consumption of boycotted products by Jewish communities and supporters of Israel – Buycott and not Boycott, reported YNet News.