From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 4 March.
It has been announced that Fatah and Hamas are to form a unity government, paving the way for both to participate in parliamentary and presidential elections due shortly in the Palestine Authority, and perhaps to the reunification of the West Bank and Gaza.
Negotiations to this end have been going on since last May and success has finally been achieved, with Hamas ceding the position of president to Abbas, and having to renounce violence, recognise Israel, and recognise all existing agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Qatar, which generally promotes western imperialist interests, has been actively brokering the arrangement, but it may nevertheless not be acceptable to Israel and the US.
Although Hamas has made what in many people’s eyes would be excessive concessions in the interests of Palestinian unity, Israel has announced that it is not prepared to talk about peace if Hamas (a ‘terrorist organisation’) is involved, and the US is threatening to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority (it has already shut off its contributions to Unesco because that organisation recognised the Palestinian state).
The following resolution has been proposed by the CPGB-ML to the upcoming PSC AGM.
A very similar resolution was opposed by the PSC executive last year, on some extremely spurious grounds.
It is our belief that the contents of the following resolution are entirely uncontroversial to 95 percent of Palestine solidarity activists. However, since the resolution calls for the PSC to actively encourage British workers to use their collective power to prevent British companies and media outlets from participating in Israeli war crimes, the resolution is decidedly harmful to the interests of British imperialism.
Thus it is clearly NOT acceptable to the imperialist, zionist Labour party, or to the Labour-affiliated leaders of the trade-union movement.
PSC members need to decide whether they want to build a broad movement that really does aim to give meaningful solidarity to Palestine, or whether they prefer to let the PSC executive maintain its cosy relationship with various left-Labour and TUC bigwigs … and to allow these interests to dictate that their ’solidarity’ work should be kept at the level of a charitable occupation that won’t threaten imperialist interests.
Experience has shown that they can’t do both.
[See joti2gaza.org for a more detailed discussion of anti-imperialist work in the PSC.]
No cooperation with war crimes: step up the campaign
Conference reaffirms its belief that the majority of people in Britain are opposed to British imperialism’s support for the criminal Israeli state, and considers that the time is ripe to make active non-cooperation a central theme of our work.
Conference therefore calls on the steering committee to take the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible, including:
1. Building support within individual unions and at the TUC for motions that draw attention to the complicity of Britain’s government and corporations in Israeli war crimes, and that also call on workers to refuse to cooperate in their commission (eg, by making or moving munitions or other equipment, by writing or broadcasting propaganda, or helping in any other way to smooth the path of Israel’s war machine).
2. Following the example set by websites such as MediaLens.org and by the 2010 PSC Panorama campaign in building an ongoing movement to hold the media to account for their pivotal role in apologising for, covering up and normalising Israel’s crimes.
3. Putting on fundraising events that will both draw attention to the jailed Gaza protesters’ plight and contribute towards a campaign to overturn their convictions.
4. Giving support and publicity to groups or individuals who, like the EDO Decommissioners and the Raytheon activists, are targeted by the state for refusing to cooperate with, or for actively attempting to prevent the many crimes of, the occupation.
5. Continuing and increasing the work already done to make Britain a place where Israeli war criminals can get no peace: through the campaign on universal jurisdiction, through citizens’ arrests and through any other available channels, including using local, national and international courts to draw attention to the crimes of Israeli military, government and corporate leaders – and those in Britain who back them politically or financially.
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 5 November
Sergeant Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas since June 2006, has been released in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, including all Palestinian women prisoners except eight.
The 6,000 Palestinian prisoners who remain incarcerated in Israeli jails (including important leaders such as Marwan Barghouti) have mostly been convicted on unreliable evidence, or simply for their political affiliations, while hundreds of others have never been charged. Some 200 of the freed prisoners will not be allowed back into the West Bank but will either be sent to Gaza or into exile.
What may have brought about the deal is the need for the Israeli government to do something to please the Israeli people, who have become very disaffected as a result of rising prices. They have indeed been pleased by the return of Sergeant Shalit, an event aimed at showing that the Israeli government takes care of its own – very important in a country that relies on conscription to maintain its armed forces at the necessary level.
A similar deal has been done between Israel and Egypt. Israel is to release dozens of Egyptians imprisoned by the Israelis in return for an American law student (who has Israeli nationality) who has been charged with spying for Israel.
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 1 October
The United Nations published a report on 2 September (the Palmer Report) finding that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal and that the Israeli commandoes who boarded the Mavi Marmara had a perfect right to defend themselves against the “organised and violent resistance” which it claimed a group of passengers had put up.
It is not clear how the universally unarmed passengers, shot from the air before the commandos had even landed, had been able to put up organised and violent resistance, and this was not explained. The report did, however, admit that the force used by the Israelis was “excessive and unreasonable”. Nevertheless the report put blame on the flotilla for “recklessly” running the blockade, and on Turkey for not persuading them to keep away.
The finding that the blockade of Gaza by Israel was a legitimate security measure designed merely to prevent armaments being supplied to Palestinians, rather than a deliberate collective punishment of the people of Gaza that is contrary to the Geneva conventions, is also outrageous. There are plenty of ways Israel could monitor the cargoes of ships headed for Gaza without actually blockading the Strip and preventing any ship from entering or leaving, even those carrying only humanitarian aid.
This hugely biased report has of course infuriated Turkey, which has expelled the Israeli ambassador and announced that it is freezing military ties with Israel until Israel both apologises and compensates the victims. Obviously, there is no chance of that happening any time soon! Furthermore, Turkey has announced that it will be providing future aid convoys to Gaza with naval escorts to guarantee their safety.
The bias in the report is readily understood by observing a number of factors. Three of the four members of the Palmer enquiry team were appointed only on Israel approving them. They included that arch violator of human rights Alvaro Uribe, former president of Colombia.
Moreover, the team heard no evidence at all from the survivors of the attack. It took for granted that the Mavi Marmara carried weapons when in fact it was well established that it did not. As to suggesting that the boarding of the Mava Marmara was legal because of the threat it posed to Israel, this argument would have been completely inappropriate even if it had been true, since even then it would not have been legal under international law to board a ship in international waters, as happened in this case.
In truth, the Palmer Report makes a mockery of justice – and of the United Nations as a credible international organisation.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian bid to be recognised as a state by the UN has caused major upheavals. Israel has been backed 100 percent by Barack Obama in its opposition to such recognition, which cannot have failed to open the eyes of those who had pinned all their hopes of justice for the Palestinian people on his sense of fair play.
Threats and bribes were proffered to try to persuade Abbas to withdraw the bid, but his hands were tied by the fact that his followers, against a background of mushrooming jewish settlements all over the West Bank at the cost of Palestinian homes and livelihoods, would simply not allow him to abandon, compromise or postpone this basic demand and entitlement of the Palestinian people.
It is clear that the US can and almost certainly will exercise its veto in the UN Security Council to prevent full recognition of Palestinian as a state within the pre-1967 boundaries. What they will have much more difficulty with is preventing the Palestinian Authority from having its status elevated by the General Assembly of the UN from non-voting ‘observer entity’ to ‘observer state’, a status equal to that of the Vatican.
This status would give the Palestinians not only the right to observe but also to submit resolutions and join other United Nations bodies and conventions. It would also give them status to pursue legal cases in the International Criminal Court, something that alarms Israel and the United States in particular.
For the moment, the issue has been postponed insofar as it is tabled to be discussed by the Security Council some time next spring. Only after the Security Council reaches its decision will the General Assembly have the chance to cast its votes. Between now and then one can expect heavy US pressure on various UN members – pressure that has already commenced – to vote as directed by the US or else face various highly pernicious and damaging unilateral sanctions.
For the moment, even France has broken ranks with its co-imperialists to express support for recognition by the General Assembly of the Palestinian state, as has Russia.
Finally, the High Court in the UK has ruled that British government’s detention of Sheikh Raed Salah was illegal and that he is entitled to damages in respect of this illegal detention.
Evidence before the court showed that the detention was prompted by pressure put by the notorious lobbyist for zionism, the so-called ‘Community Security Trust’. This outfit made all kinds of unfounded allegations against Sheikh Salah, which the Home Secretary took just 17 minutes to investigate. The zionists’ aim, in which they were successful, was to prevent Sheikh Salah attending and speaking at a meeting scheduled to be held in the House of Commons.
Sheikh Salah’s appeal against the deportation order that was made against him is still pending.
Via JohnPilger.com, 26 May 2011
When Britain lost control of Egypt in 1956, Prime Minister Anthony Eden said he wanted the nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser “destroyed … murdered … I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt”. Those insolent Arabs, Winston Churchill had urged in 1951, should be driven “into the gutter from which they should never have emerged”.
The language of colonialism may have been modified; the spirit and the hypocrisy are unchanged. A new imperial phase is unfolding in direct response to the Arab uprising that began in January and has shocked Washington and Europe, causing an Eden-style panic.
The loss of the Egyptian tyrant Mubarak was grievous, though not irretrievable; an American-backed counter-revolution is under way as the military regime in Cairo is seduced with new bribes and power shifting from the street to political groups that did not initiate the revolution. The western aim, as ever, is to stop authentic democracy and reclaim control.
Libya is the immediate opportunity. The Nato attack on Libya, with the UN Security Council assigned to mandate a bogus ‘no-fly zone’ to ‘protect civilians’, is strikingly similar to the final destruction of Yugoslavia in 1999. There was no UN cover for the bombing of Serbia and the ‘rescue’ of Kosovo, yet the propaganda echoes today.
Like Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Gaddafi is a ‘new Hitler’, plotting ‘genocide’ against his people. There is no evidence of this, as there was no genocide in Kosovo. In Libya there is a tribal civil war; and the armed uprising against Gaddafi has long been appropriated by the Americans, French and British, their planes attacking residential Tripoli with uranium-tipped missiles and the submarine HMS Triumph firing Tomahawk missiles, a repeat of the ’shock and awe’ in Iraq that left thousands of civilians dead and maimed. As in Iraq, the victims, which include countless incinerated Libyan army conscripts, are media unpeople.
In the ‘rebel’ east, the terrorising and killing of black African immigrants is not news. On 22 May, a rare piece in the Washington Post described the repression, lawlessness and death squads in the ‘liberated zones’ just as visiting EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, declared she had found only “great aspirations” and “leadership qualities”.
In demonstrating these qualities, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the ‘rebel leader’ and Gaddafi’s justice minister until February, pledged, “Our friends … will have the best opportunity in future contracts with Libya.”
The east holds most of Libya’s oil, the greatest reserves in Africa. In March the rebels, with expert foreign guidance, “transferred” to Benghazi the Libyan Central Bank, a wholly owned state institution. This is unprecedented. Meanwhile, the US and the EU “froze” almost US$100 billion in Libyan funds, “the largest sum ever blocked”, according to official statements. It is the biggest bank robbery in history.
The French elite are enthusiastic robbers and bombers. Nicholas Sarkozy’s imperial design is for a French-dominated Mediterranean Union (UM), which would allow France to ‘return’ to its former colonies in North Africa and profit from privileged investment and cheap labour.
Gaddafi described the Sarkozy plan as “an insult” that was “taking us for fools”. The Merkel government in Berlin agreed, fearing its old foe would diminish Germany in the EU, and abstained in the Security Council vote on Libya.
Like the attack on Yugoslavia and the charade of Milosevic’s trial, the International Criminal Court is being used by the US, France and Britain to prosecute Gaddafi while his repeated offers of a ceasefire are ignored.
Gaddafi is a Bad Arab. David Cameron’s government and its verbose top general want to eliminate this Bad Arab, like the Obama administration killed a famously Bad Arab in Pakistan recently.
The crown prince of Bahrain, on the other hand, is a Good Arab. On 19 May, he was warmly welcomed to Britain by Cameron with a photo-call on the steps of 10 Downing Street. In March, the same crown prince slaughtered unarmed protestors and allowed Saudi forces to crush his country’s democracy movement.
The Obama administration has rewarded Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive regimes on earth, with a $US60 billion arms deal, the biggest in US history. The Saudis have the most oil. They are the Best Arabs.
The assault on Libya, a crime under the Nuremberg standard, is Britain’s 46th military ‘intervention’ in the Middle East since 1945. Like its imperial partners, Britain’s goal is to control Africa’s oil.
Cameron is not Anthony Eden, but almost. Same school. Same values. In the media-pack, the words colonialism and imperialism are no longer used, so that the cynical and the credulous can celebrate state violence in its more palatable form.
And as ‘Mr Hopey Changey’ (the name that Ted Rall, the great American cartoonist, gives Barack Obama), is fawned upon by the British elite and launches another insufferable presidential campaign, the Anglo-American reign of terror proceeds in Afghanistan and elsewhere, with the murder of people by unmanned drones - a US/Israel innovation, embraced by Obama.
For the record, on a scorecard of imposed misery, from secret trials and prisons and the hounding of whistleblowers and the criminalising of dissent to the incarceration and impoverishment of his own people, mostly black people, Obama is as bad as George W Bush.
The Palestinians understand all this. As their young people courageously face the violence of Israel’s blood-racism, carrying the keys of their grandparents’ stolen homes, they are not even included in Mr Hopey Changey’s list of peoples in the Middle East whose liberation is long overdue.
What the oppressed need, he said on 19 May, is a dose of “America’s interests [that] are essential to them”. He insults us all.
(Post updated on 11 Feb 2011)
The following resolution was vociferously opposed by the Executive Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at its AGM on 22 January. Since a resolution containing many of the same points had been passed virtually unanimously at the Stop the War conference last year, this came as rather a surprise to the comrade who moved the motion.
We will be writing in more detail about this soon, but in the meantime, a few of the arguments posed against the resolution went like this:
- The list of actions is ‘too prescriptive’; we can’t agree to it.
Rather strange given that most of the other resolutions also had lists of actions attached, which related to the specific spheres of action they were looking at (ie, boycott and divestment, trade-union work, student work etc). In fact, resolutions are by their nature prescriptive. That doesn’t mean the movers expect the actions suggested in it to be carried out exclusively.
Quite clearly, in this case, the idea here was to be complementary to other work being done by the PSC. Equally clearly, this argument is just a cover - perhaps for reasons that the opposers don’t feel comfortable sharing with the rest of us!
- We can’t put resources into campaigning/fundraising for the Gaza protestors; it’s a diversion from what we do.
Unbelievable, considering that it was PSC who called the demo at which these young people were arrested. And crazy, given that if we launched a big campaign to have the sentences overturned, we could really draw attention to the British state’s role in supporting Israel. Not to mention highlighting islamophobia, bringing many more young people and muslims towards the PSC and generally highlighting the issue that people have been criminalised for merely objecting to war crimes!
- We can’t promise to support all those arrested for opposing Israel’s war crimes (including the Gaza protestors); we don’t know who they might be.
The clear implication here was that some of the people being targetted for their principled stand, whether direct action activists or newly politicised young muslims, might somehow be ‘asking for it’!
- We can’t ask workers to refuse to cooperate with war crimes in the current climate, when they’re worried about losing their jobs.
Not sure we really need to comment on this, except to say that you could make the same argument about concentration camp guards! Either it’s a crime or it isn’t. Either we’re against the British state assisting in Israel’s crimes or we’re not. The fact is that we can’t force anyone to do anything they don’t want to - but surely it’s our job to take the arguments to them and help them to make informed decisions? Why is it ok to campaign amongst union members as individuals around the boycott demands, but not to try to mobilise them collectively?
It’s also worth bearing the student example in mind. Two years ago, students were occupying their universities in support of the people of Gaza. The confidence and experience they gained in these actions no doubt contributed to the militancy we’re seeing today in the anti-fees movement and occupations. Far from making working people nervous, encouraging them to use their power to stop crimes against Palestinians might actually help them to get more militant in using their power against the current cuts in benefits, pensions, wages and public services!
It’s clear the above arguments don’t add up, so we have to ask ourselves, just what is it that the PSC national executive is really afraid of? If we want to build a MASS movement in support of Palestine, why are we afraid to try to mobilise broad sections of the working class or muslim communities? And why are we avoiding the question of REAL, CONCRETE solidarity with Palestine?
Jeremy Corbyn’s closing statement blethering on about Early Day Motions in Parliament was a joke. Anyone who knows anything about how the House of Commons works can tell you that EDMs aren’t even relevant within its walls, never mind outside of them. They don’t even get debated!
We were sad to see that not only Betty Hunter, but also PSC deputy chair Kamel Hawwash spoke most shamefully against the resolution, causing much confusion amongst those present as to what could be the reason for so much opposition to something so seemingly innocuous, and so obviously fundamental to our work as actively opposing Israel’s war crimes.
We were also sad at the way the whole debate was handled. It was clear from the inconsistency and illogicality of the opposing arguments that the reasons being put forward in such a hysterial fashion weren’t the actual reasons for the executive opposing the resolution. Several speakers said that ‘while there were many good things in the motion, it was impossible to support it all because of [insert spurious objection to half a sentence here]‘.
But if that was truly the case, why not contact the movers of the resolution about changing it, so as to let the good stuff through? Why not put forward amendments that we would all have had time to read and think about before the conference? Why wait and hijack everybody with an unexpected and baffling ‘controversy’ that many present were simply unable to unravel in the time available?
One possible answer is that the executive is afraid of attracting too much negative attention from the state if it openly supports either the Gaza protestors or the various direct-action anti-war-crimes activists, despite the fact that well publicised campaigns along these lines could do much to broaden the appeal of PSC and to extend the reach of our solidarity message (all of which could make a direct difference to Palestinians).
Another possibility is that the executive is afraid to upset the cosy relationship it has built with various Labour party and trade-union officials by raising the question of direct participation in war crimes by British workers - and their power to withhold that participation - within the unions, many of which spend their time trying to squash the notion of collective power, substituting instead the idea of individual pleas to the better judgement of managers and employers.
This fits with the current PSC strategy of spending much time and resource on ‘lobbying’ to ‘change the minds’ of MPs and MEPs, who are then allocated ‘good’ or ‘bad’ status according to whether they’re happy to sign up to one of the aforementioned Early Day Motions or similar. Instead of mobilising the real power of the British people from the street and demanding that the British state withdraw its support from Israel, many in the PSC leadership would like us to confine ourselves to going cap in hand to parliamentarians and asking them to be nicer.
And if nasty MPs, like those unreasonable employers who say no to trade unionists, decline to sign up to a ‘please be nicer to the poor Palestinians’ request? Well, we tried. Come back next year!
On a more optimistic note, despite the bullocking from the Executive Committee and their trade-union and Labour party friends, around a third of those present voted in favour of the resolution, and many members went away determined to discuss the issue in their branches. We hope they will make the arguments in favour there and come back determined to change the organisation’s policy next year.
Full text of the resolution follows.
No cooperation with war crimes: step up the campaign
In the last year, many important developments have taken place, which on the one hand make the work of actively opposing Israel’s war crimes more urgent, and on the other have created an atmosphere that is more receptive to our message.
In this context, conference notes the passing at the Stop the War conference of a motion calling on the coalition to “take the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible”. This resolution included a detailed programme of activities that could take this work forward, some of which the PSC has already been taking the lead in.
Conference notes the attack on those condemning war crimes that was embodied in the draconian sentences handed down to the Gaza protestors. Congress further notes that these sentences were aimed not only at discouraging muslim youth from political activism, but also at dividing the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements along racial lines, and branding Palestine solidarity as a ‘muslim’, rather than a human rights or anti-imperialist issue.
Conference condemns the murder by Israeli commandos of ten solidarity activists (nine at the time and one who died later) aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May, despite the fact that the UN had called for the ships to be allowed to pass. Conference notes the UN’s recent findings that these murders were illegal – another war crime to add to the many being committed daily against the Palestinian people.
Conference commends the excellent work done by PSC in getting an enhanced boycott motion passed at the TUC following the flotilla attack, and notes that the acceptance of much stronger language than previously used reflects the sea change in the attitude of many ordinary British workers towards Israel.
Conference further notes that in the atmosphere of international outrage that followed the flotilla murders, even Israeli-friendly politicians such as Cameron and Hague were forced to make statements condemning both the murders and the siege on Gaza.
Conference reaffirms its support for all those who have taken the lead in active non-cooperation over the past year, in particular for the EDO Decommissioners, for the Gaza protestors, and for the many British participants in siege-busting missions by land and sea to Gaza.
Conference notes that the landmark acquittal in the case of the Decommissioners can only facilitate more actions of this kind, since it not only sets a legal precedent, but is a reflection of the general sense of disgust against Israeli war crimes.
Conference reaffirms its belief that the majority of people in Britain are opposed to British imperialism’s support for the criminal Israeli state, and considers that the time is ripe to make active non-cooperation a central theme of our work. Conference therefore calls on the incoming steering committee to work with Stop the War and any other organisations that are willing in taking the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible, including:
- Putting on a fundraising concert to draw attention to the Gaza prisoners’ plight and to raise money towards a campaign to overturn their convictions.
- Giving full backing, including maximum possible publicity, to all those groups or individuals, whether affiliated to PSC or not, who, like the EDO Decommissioners and the Raytheon activists, are targeted by the state for refusing to cooperate with, or for actively attempting to prevent the many crimes of the occupation, including: the frequent bombings and shootings of civilians; the destruction of Palestinian homes, farms, schools, hospitals, mosques and churches; the crippling siege of Gaza; the building of the apartheid wall, and the seizure of ever more land in Jerusalem and the West Bank for jewish-only settlement construction.
- Building on our existing campaign inside the unions to draw attention to Israeli war crimes, and the complicity of the British government and corporations in those crimes, with the aim of passing in each of them, and then at the TUC, motions condemning those crimes and calling on workers to refuse to cooperate in their commission, whether it be by making or moving munitions or other equipment, writing or broadcasting propaganda, or helping in any other way to smooth the path of Israel’s war machine.
- Building on the excellent PSC campaign to draw attention to pro-Israeli propaganda in Panorama and working with such groups as Media Lens (see, for example, their recent alert drawing attention to the media’s total bypassing of evidence revealing Israel’s starvation policy in Gaza) and others to draw in as many members and supporters as possible to an ongoing campaign to hold the media to account for their pivotal role in apologising for, covering up and normalising Israeli war crimes.
- Continuing and increasing the work already done to make Britain a place where Israeli war criminals can get no peace, through the campaign on universal jurisdiction, through holding protests, through citizens’ arrests and through all other available channels, including using local, national and international courts to file charges and draw attention to the crimes of Israeli military, government and corporate leaders – and those in Britain who back them politically or financially.
The following motion is being submitted by the CPGB-ML to the upcoming Stop the War national conference.
We believe that the proposed programme of action is both necessary and achieveable. We therefore call on all anti-imperialists and anti-war campaigners to give it the widest possible circulation in order to generate discussion and to mobilise support for this important work.
Individually, we may be powerless, but together, we do have the power to stop imperialism’s criminal wars.
CPGB-ML resolution to StW conference, October 2010
This conference notes the passing last year of a motion calling on the coalition “to do all in its power to promote a movement of industrial, political and military non-cooperation with all of imperialism’s aggressive war preparations and activities among British working people“.
Since that resolution was passed, many important developments have taken place, which on the one hand make this work more urgent, and on the other have created an atmosphere that is more receptive to our message.
Conference notes the attack on those condemning war crimes that was embodied in the draconian sentences handed down to the Gaza protestors. Congress further notes that these sentences were aimed not only at discouraging muslim youth from political activism, but also at dividing the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements along racial lines, and branding Palestine solidarity as a ‘muslim’ issue.
Conference condemns the murder by Israeli commandos of nine solidarity activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May, despite the fact that the UN had called for the ships to be allowed to pass. Conference notes the UN’s recent findings that these murders were illegal – another war crime to add to the many being committed daily against the Palestinian people.
Conference further notes that in the atmosphere of international outrage that followed these murders, even Israeli-friendly politicians such as Cameron and Hague were forced to make statements condemning both the murders and the siege on Gaza.
Conference reaffirms its support for all those who have taken the lead in active non-cooperation over the past year, in particular for Joe Glenton, for the EDO Decommissioners, for the Gaza protestors, and for the many British participants in siege-busting missions by land and sea to Gaza.
Conference notes that the landmark acquittal in the case of the Decommissioners can only facilitate more actions of this kind, since it not only sets a legal precedent, but is a reflection of the general sense of disgust against Israeli war crimes in particular.
Conference reaffirms its belief that the majority of people in Britain are opposed to British imperialism’s wars, and considers that the time is ripe to make active non-cooperation a central theme of our work. Conference therefore calls on the incoming steering committee to take the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible, including:
- Putting on a fundraising concert to draw attention to the Gaza prisoners’ plight and to raise money towards a campaign to overturn their convictions.
- Approaching Joe Glenton to take part in a national speaking tour against cooperation with the Afghan war.
- Giving full backing, including maximum possible publicity, to all those groups or individuals, whether affiliated to the Coalition or not, who, like the EDO Decommissioners, the Raytheon activists and Joe Glenton, are targeted by the state for refusing to cooperate with, or for actively attempting to prevent, the illegal wars and bombings waged and backed by British imperialism.
- Stepping up the campaign outside army recruitment centres and at army recruitment stalls in schools, colleges and universities, drawing attention to the war crimes committed by the British armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Launching a full campaign inside the unions to draw attention to British, US and Israeli war crimes, with the aim of passing in each of them, and then at the TUC, motions condemning those crimes and calling on workers to refuse to cooperate in their commission, whether it be by making or moving munitions or other equipment, writing or broadcasting propaganda, or helping in any other way to smooth the path of the war machine.
- Following the excellent example set by PSC (eg, the campaign to draw attention to pro-Israeli propaganda in Panorama) and Media Lens (eg, alerts drawing attention to the media’s cover-up of war crimes committed in Fallujah) and working with these and others to draw in as many members and supporters as possible to an ongoing campaign to hold the media to account for their pivotal role in apologising for, covering up and normalising British, US and Israeli war crimes.
- Continuing and increasing the work already done to make Britain a place where war criminals, whether US, British or Israeli, can get no peace, through holding protests, through citizens’ arrests and through all other available channels, including using local, national and international courts to file charges and draw attention to their crimes.
27 December is the first anniversary of the launch by Israel of the 22-day massacre of over 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza. More than half of them were civilians and 430 were children. The massacre was an intensification of the killing of Palestinians during the long siege and blockade of Gaza which had preceded it and is still going on to this day.
Israel has been committing war crimes in Palestine for 60 years. Ethnic cleansing, massacres, evictions, illegal occupation and colonisation of land, denial of human rights and basic facilities to occupied people, illegal seizure and destruction of houses, crops and property, collective punishment of the entire population … the list goes on and on, and has been well documented ever since 1948.
Israel has clamped down still further on supplies of medicine, food, water and fuel into the Gaza Strip, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis there, turning Gaza into a huge prison, a massive concentration camp.
Notwithstanding the horrific loss of life and the extraordinary level of damage to public and private property caused by the Israeli attack, it must be said that Israel well and truly failed in its war aims, while the population of Gaza demonstrated an unbreakable resolve. This resolve has continued during a further year of unspeakable hardship due to the blockade.
Israel hoped to wipe out Hamas and to detach it from its support base. In this it has completely failed. Neither the 22-days of open warfare nor the unrelenting grind of the blockade has achieved this objective. Hamas’s popularity is greater than ever, and it enjoys a far greater legitimacy in the eyes of the masses of the world than it ever did before.
However, what claims to be the ‘international community’ (i.e. the handful of monopoly capitalists in the heartlands of imperialism) continue to support Israel. Indeed, Israel is the representative, the gendarme, of imperialism in the Middle East.
The pro-western Arab regimes kow-tow to imperialism and are unwilling to do anything to support their Palestinian brothers and happy to go along with every Israeli atrocity. This has served to further open the eyes of the Arab masses as to the truly reactionary nature of these regimes.
Indeed, while no Arab army hitherto has successfully withstood Israeli military assaults for more than a couple of weeks, Hizbollah and Hamas have faced the Israeli army for 34 and 22 days respectively – and emerged stronger from the contest. By contrast, the Egyptian government in particular suffered a huge fall-out as a result of its active support for Israel’s reckless campaign (note coincidentally, Egypt is the number two recipient of US aid, after Israel).
In this context it is perhaps not surprising that Egypt is behaving abominably by, to date, blocking the third Viva Palestina Convoy from even entering Egypt from Jordan. We demand that this convoy of ambulances and other vehicles with medical aid and resources for children is not prevented from completing its journey across Europe, through Syria and Jordan, on through Egypt and into Gaza.
One of our party comrades, Joti, is on this convoy - one of four “Aunties” driving a converted mini-bus with medical supplies. Her reports can be read at http://joti2gaza.org/ (as well as on the ‘joti 2 gaza’ facebook group and twitter). Joti’s site says “so now, on Christmas day, nearly 500 volunteers are waiting in Aqaba [on the border of Jordan and Egypt] while negotiations with Egypt continue. At this time of year, it is especially poignant to know that 150–odd vehicles, carrying medicines, paper and pencils, toys, maternity and baby supplies should be sitting less than a day’s journey away from their destinations, while Gaza’s children continue to suffer under the criminal blockade.”
Joti also says “by now the convoy has become a major news story (in some cases the lead story) across the Middle East”. It would, however, be a very diligent search that can find even a passing reference in the British bourgeois media, which has effectively put a blockade on any news of this convoy. If two British cyclists were travelling across Europe for charity there would be all kinds of programmes about them, particularly if they faced difficulties!
We urge everyone to contact the media to protest at this lack of coverage (national media and newspaper details can be found at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website http://www.palestinecampaign.org/ - by linking to Reading PSC).
George Galloway, who is travelling with the convoy, said “We feel very sad that Egypt has turned us away on Christmas Day, but we hope they will reconsider. This is a very determined convoy and we’re not going anywhere except to Gaza”, we urge everyone to support this determination, the above PSC link also gives information about how to contact the Egyptian Embassy and protest at its action in blocking the convoy.
What is being perpetrated on the people of Palestine is not in the interests of ordinary working people. We demand the end to the siege of Gaza, an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, to the continuing encroachment by illegal Israeli settlements, to the apartheid wall and to the fragmenting of the West Bank into ‘bantustans’.
We call for the victory of the Palestinians. The intransigence and brutality of the Zionist regime is itself making sure that that victory will in the end result in a secular state of Palestine. Even the CIA, in a recent study, has predicted “an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming spectre of colonial apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region”. The study casts doubt over Israel’s survival beyond the next 20 years!
That is a calculated view from within the heart of the imperialist beast. Working and oppressed people of the world have no difficulty in calling for the hastening of that day and for the victory of the Palestinians.
Let the Viva Palestina Convoy through!
End the Siege of Gaza!
No cooperation with Israeli war crimes!
Victory to the Palestinians!
Hajo Meyer, author of the book The End of Judaism, was born in Bielefeld, in Germany, in 1924. In 1939, he fled on his own at age 14 to the Netherlands to escape the Nazi regime, and was unable to attend school. A year later, when the Germans occupied the Netherlands he lived in hiding with a poorly forged ID. Meyer was captured by the Gestapo in March 1944 and deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp a week later. He is one of the last survivors of Auschwitz.
Adri Nieuwhof: What would you like to say to introduce yourself to EI’s readers?
Hajo Meyer: I had to quit grammar school in Bielefeld after the Kristallnacht [the two-day pogrom against jews in Nazi Germany], in November 1938. It was a terrible experience for an inquisitive boy and his parents. Therefore, I can fully identify with the Palestinian youth that are hampered in their education. And I can in no way identify with the criminals who make it impossible for Palestinian youth to be educated.
AN: What motivated you to write your book, The End of Judaism?
HM: In the past, the European media have written extensively about extreme right-wing politicians like Joerg Haider in Austria and Jean-Marie Le Pen in France. But when Ariel Sharon was elected [prime minister] in Israel in 2001, the media remained silent. But in the 1980s I understood the deeply fascist thinking of these politicians.
With the book I wanted to distance myself from this. I was raised in Judaism with the equality of relationships among human beings as a core value. I only learned about nationalist Judaism when I heard settlers defend their harassment of Palestinians in interviews. When a publisher asked me to write about my past, I decided to write this book, in a way, to deal with my past. P
People of one group who dehumanise people who belong to another group can do this, because they either have learned to do so from their parents, or they have been brainwashed by their political leaders. This has happened for decades in Israel in that they manipulate the Holocaust for their political aims. In the long run, the country is destructing itself this way by inducing their jewish citizens to become paranoid.
In 2005, [then Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon illustrated this by saying in the Knesset [the Israeli parliament], we know we cannot trust anyone, we only can trust ourselves. This is the shortest possible definition of somebody who suffers from clinical paranoia.
One of the major annoyances in my life is that Israel by means of trickery calls itself a jewish state, while in fact it is zionist. It wants the maximum territory with a minimum number of Palestinians. I have four jewish grandparents. I am an atheist. I share the jewish socio-cultural inheritance and I have learned about jewish ethics. I don’t wish to be represented by a zionist state. They have no idea about the Holocaust. They use the Holocaust to implant paranoia in their children.
AN: In your book you write about the lessons you have learned from your past. Can you explain how your past influenced your perception of Israel and Palestine?
HM: I have never been a zionist. After the war, zionist jews spoke about the miracle of having “our own country.” As a confirmed atheist I thought, if this is a miracle by God, I wished that he had performed the smallest miracle imaginable by creating the state 15 years earlier. Then my parents would not have been dead.
I can write up an endless list of similarities between Nazi Germany and Israel. The capturing of land and property, denying people access to educational opportunities and restricting access to earn a living to destroy their hope, all with the aim to chase people away from their land. And what I personally find more appalling then dirtying one’s hands by killing people, is creating circumstances where people start to kill each other. Then the distinction between victims and perpetrators becomes faint. By sowing discord in a situation where there is no unity, by enlarging the gap between people - like Israel is doing in Gaza.
AN: In your book you write about the role of jews in the peace movement in and outside Israel, and Israeli army refuseniks. How do you value their contribution?
HM: Of course it is positive that parts of the jewish population of Israel try to see Palestinians as human beings and as their equals. However, it disturbs me how paper-thin the number is that protests and is truly anti-zionist. We get worked up by what happened in Hitler’s Germany. If you expressed only the slightest hint of criticism at that time, you ended up in the Dachau concentration camp. If you expressed criticism, you were dead. Jews in Israel have democratic rights. They can protest in the streets, but they don’t.
AN: Can you comment on the news that Israeli ministers approved a draft law banning commemoration of the Nakba, or the dispossession of historic Palestine? The law proposes punishment of up to three years in prison.
HM: It is so racist, so dreadful. I am at a loss for words. It is an expression of what we already know. [The Israeli Nakba commemoration organisation] Zochrot was founded to counteract Israeli efforts to wipe out the marks that are a reminder of Palestinian life. To forbid Palestinians to publicly commemorate the Nakba … they cannot act in a more Nazi-like, fascist way. Maybe it will help to awaken the world.
AN: What are your plans for the future?
HM: [Laughs] Do you know how old I am? I am almost 85 years old. I always say cynically and with self-mockery that I have a choice: either I am always tired because I want to do so much, or I am going to sit still waiting for the time to go by. Well, I plan to be tired, because I have still so much to say.
Adri Nieuwhof is consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.