What Blair won't tell us, but Netanyahu does
I went around to see Moshe, an Israeli friend, the other day to talk about the war of which the 50th anniversary is approaching, when Israeli troops invaded Egypt, and the British and French governments joined in as arranged; while all the time British Prime Minister Anthony Eden insisted there was no collusion; Britain only wanted to seize back the Suez canal to separate the two warring sides.
They thought they would topple Nasser, and put an end to Arab nations thinking they could run their own affairs. Ben Gurion brandished his Bible and roused the Knesset to its feet claiming that in taking Gaza, Sinai and the island of Tiran Israel was only "liberating" its historic, indeed God-given, lands. Moshe lost a few friends at the Mitla Pass, thanks to a glory-seeking general who went beyond his orders, called Ariel Sharon (he was to go beyond his remit again in Lebanon in 1982).
There were demonstrations in London saying "Eden Must Go!", and in the end, Eden went, while Nasser gained the heights of his prestige and leadership in the Arab world. The Israelis had to withdraw when the United States as well as the Soviet Union told them to get out. Having failed as they'd hoped to stop the Algerian liberation war, the French rulers fought on to bloody defeat, then turned their ambitions to Europe as a counter to the super-powers. Suez was a major turning point in the twentieth century, Moshe says. You can read some more of our discussion in the forthcoming issue of Jewish Socialist magazine.
From looking backwards, to more recent wars, and those to come?
Moshe has sent a message to friends about another Prime Minister who doesn't want to admit the truth about his wars, or to listen when he's told that it's time to go:
The man whose government has waged more wars than most people can remember has been advised by his spin merchants and witch-doctors that to prepare his gradual way out and win back some popularity he should do stuff like visiting schools and appearing on "Blue Peter". It has not got off to a good start.
Why is Tony Blair clinging to office like a leech? My guess is that a major reason is that he has a particular bit ofunfinished business to deliver. Blair's decline started when, delivering on a promise he had made to GW Bush, he took Britain into the Iraqi quagmire, against the wishes of the British people. Two members of his cabinet resigned over this.
The recent revolt in the New "Labour" Party was largely caused by widespread disgust with Blair's scandalous stance during the July-August Israeli assault on Lebanon, when -- once more standing
shoulder to shoulderwith GW Bush -- he refused to call for an immediate ceasfire. For a secondtime, Blair acted as though he was delivering on a promise he had made to Bush. Could it be that Blair's secret promises to Bush have a third item? What could this item be? I am speculating, but it seems likely that it has to do with Iran.
On his recent visit to the US, Israel's former Prime Minister BenjaminNetanyahu -- who has very close relations with the leading neo-cons who make US foreign policy -- told his audience at the Hudson Institute that"President Bush is preparing to ditch the United Nations to take on Iran alone".
He went on to say:"Largely ignored in the coverage of Mr. Bush's speech Tuesday on the waron terror, Mr. Netanyahu told his audience more than once, was Mr. Bush's statement that 'the world's free nations will not allow Iran to develop anuclear weapon.' Not that the 'United Nations won't allow', said Mr.Netanyahu, but that the 'free nations' of the world won't allow.
Mr.Netanyahu called it a sign that on the Iranian problem the president waspreparing to stop working through the United Nations and instead work with whoever would join
him."Unfortunately, said Mr. Netanyahu, Britain and America, along with Israel and Iran, are the only countries at the moment that understand what is at stake if Iran acquires the bomb."
Note the reference to the coalition of the willful, the trio: "Britain and America along with Israel". As I said, I am only speculating, but this sounds as though Netanyahu --briefed by his neo-con friends -- knows something about Blair's future stance on Iran that we don't. To deliver on this promise, Blair would need to stay in office a while longer. To read a report on Netanyahu's speech at the Hudson Institute go
The right-wing former Israeli premier had so much media time in Britain while the blitz on Lebanon was on I thought the BBC might be renamed the "Bibi" Netanyahu. But here's some remarks from Netanyahu that should have got more coverage than they did. Thanks, Moshe.School's Out for Bomber
Blair made his announcement about resigning 'within the next twelve months' at the Quintin Kynaston School in St.John's Wood, north-west London. It is one the Specialist Schools the government is keen on, and it has had flattering inspection reviews from Ofsted. He had been before a few years ago, so he may have thought his visit would all go fine.
Somebody should have told him. Some Quintin Kynaston teachers and others don't like his plans to hand a successful school like this over to private interests and out of elected local authority control, even that of the city of Westminster. A lot of the school students and teachers don't like the fact that two of the students are facing deportation with their mother to Iran, where they face political persecution. Quintin Kynaston pupils have already had protests over this.*
And then there is the little matter of war, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and tomorrow - Iran? Having heard that Blair was coming the anti-war protestors were waiting for him at the school gate. The school head teachers, anxious perhaps that their school's kids - some of whom have family in places like Lebanon - might not be Blair's tame captive audience, decided to send most of them home, keeping just the goodies behind to provide a background for photo opportunities.
This too was a mistake. As the kids filed out many of them joined the demonstration outside. School Students Against the War already had a following in the school, some of whom have been on the big anti-war demos in London before.
So the head teacher and deputy heads were out trying to push kids away and tell them to go home, "or you'll be in trouble!". They snatched placards off the kids, and a man claiming to be a police officer joined the effort, but the kids refused to be intimidated, and told reporters what they thought of Tony Blair and his wars.
(report and pix from protest, see
The head has accused peace campaigners of "using" the school students for political purposes. So what was Blair trying to do, with the school's help? Apparently a popular young education assistant, Robin Sivapalan, is being disciplined for his support to the protest (though it offically had support from NUT and other unions).
I met some Quintin Kynaston students outside Brent Town Hall yesterday evening. I was there with fell-trade unionists to protest at leaflets for this weekend's Grunwick commemoration being banned from public libraries in the borough. The girls from Quintin Kynaston came with a petition in defence of Robin Sivapalan, which of course we all signed. They are getting a good education in civic affairs, even if it isn't the one the authorities intended.
* For more on Iranian school student threatened with deportation:
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