Monday, July 31, 2006

Israel the prison screw keeps out visitors bringing books

DANGEROUS hidden message? "Teddy's House"

ISRAELI human rights activist Jeff Halper sometimes uses the analogy of a prison to describe the kind of freedom Israel at its most "generous" is prepared to concede to Palestinians. The warders will withdraw, leaving the inmates a series of cells, but of course keeping them surrounded, controlling their movements, and reserving the right to go in any time and punish them.

Israel's supporters insist it is "the only democracy in the Middle East", to which some wags have added "and it intends to stay that way by smashing any others". And then there are those who'll admit things aren't perfect, but admonish us against any interference with "academic freedom" and contacts, usually claiming a "rwo-state solution" is in the offing if we'd only give it a chance.

Which picture does this story fit?

British Labour MP Dr. Lynn Jones and eight other women have just been deported from Israel while on a trip to build links between Ramallah and Birmingham. The
Israeli authorities ordered them out after they arrived from the Midlands. In May 2005 some of the same group were refused entry to Israel.

The MP for Birmingham Selly Oak had set out with Yvonne Washbrook president of Birmingham Trades Union Council, and Respect party councillor Salma Iqbal
The trip aimed to build links with women in the region following a number of fund raising efforts by Birmingham's Ramallah Twinning Committee.

They were told they faced jail if they refused to get on a plane home.

Birmingham's Ramallah Twinning Committee chairman Kamel Hawwash said: "We are very shocked that this should happen again. The delegation's visit was discussed at length with the Israeli Embassy in London and details of the participants and their itinerary were provided to the embassy as requested. The women had gone to develop links between the citizens of Birmingham and the citizens of Ramallah and were due to meet Palestinian women and children's organisations. We had raised money for a children's library and nursery at a refugee camp in Ramallah and the women were due to check on the progress of these badly needed projects."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/07/30 15:41:24 GMT

The delegation was deported from Israel, a sovereign state exercising its right to exclude people it doesn't like, right? Both sides did it in the Cold War, so don't say "the only democracy in the Middle East" is behaving like a dictatorship.

But Ramallah is not part of Israel. It is in Occupied Palestine. Under the international agreements which Israel has signed the city is the centre of the Palestinian Authority, since Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem. On May 24 the British Foreign Office condemned an Israeli military incursion into Ramallah which left four dead and more wounded. So Israeli troops can go to Ramallah, but foreign delegations can be stopped. Some earnest of a "two state solution". More like the prison regime described by Jeff Halper.

Why were Lynne Jones and her delegation stopped anyway? "Security Reasons" always used to be a good standby for excusing unreasonable behaviour and silencing further questions.

The Labour MP and the Birmingham delegates were attempting to deliver books to a children's library in Ramallah. They were turned away after exhaustive questioning.

"We were kept for 11 hours without being offered any food or drink other than water"., she told a Birmingham press conference. "It was quite outrageous to suggest we were in any way a security risk - our mission was of peace and reconciliation."

Dr.Jones said officials at Ben Gurion airport had even scanned children's books for explosives. The MP stressed that the Israeli embassy had been fully notified of the group's plans, even being provided with their passport numbers in advance.

"This visit has been planned since last year when a similar visit had to be cancelled because the same thing happened to the women involved. I got involved because of what happened last year."

Sitting near some of the children's books, which included titles such as Teddy's House and A Martian Comes To Stay, the politician said a variety of reasons had been given for the decision to deport them. "They said we needed a special permit to enter the Occupied Territories and then changed their tune. It was as if they were looking for any excuse."

Samantha Owen, who works at Birmingham's central library, said the children's books had been collected to help build a library for youngsters in a refugee camp who had "absolutely nothing". Kathryn Day, a children's centre worker from Birmingham, was the first to be quizzed by Israeli security staff.

As another of the women sobbed nearby, the 44-year-old said: "I was interviewed by a man who said his nickname was the Devil. "He told me that he knew why I was here and that I had to tell him. "I said 'We are just here for the twinning committee', but he just kept on and on at me.

"He threatened me with MI5 and said he was going to send me straight to MI5.

"I started crying because I really was terrified."

The twinning committee's chairman, Kamel Hawwash, said: "The delegation's visit was discussed at length with the Israeli embassy in London and details of the participants and their itinerary were provided to the embassy as requested.

"The women had gone to develop links between the citizens of Birmingham and the citizens of Ramallah and were due to meet Palestinian women and children's organisations.

"We had raised money for a children's library and nursery at a refugee camp in Ramallah and the women were due to check on the progress of these badly-needed projects."

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London said: "The group was informed verbally and also by way of written communication that we would not be able to guarantee their entrance. Nevertheless, the group decided to go.",1834228,00.html

In other words, if they feel like being bastards they will be.

Considering the times we heard about inappropriate old textbooks with anti-Jewish passages in use in Palestinian schools, and BBC Panorama's inspired (we can guess by who) expose on Hamas charities, it's worth noting how the Israeli authorities act firmly to guard against the threat from "Teddy's House", and the commandos from Birmingham central library.

It's probably not the most oppressive action taken by any state's security services this year. Just an act of petty spite which demeans and disgraces Israeli officialdom. If the British government cared about the dignity of its MPs and the rights of its citizens, let alone those of the children of Ramallah, it should protest and where appropriate retaliate. Israeli officials' movements in Britain could be restricted. But I am not holding my breath.

It will be left to citizens, here and in Israel, to find ways of acting, and undermining the authority of those who behave so abominably as to interfere with children's books. We used to call them Little Hitlers, but. I dare say there's a more pc expression for such an official. Putz, maybe.

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Killing at Kana brings Tel Aviv protest

DEMONSTRATORS at Israeli Defence Ministry

FIFTY-FIVE civilians killed, half of them kids, in an Israeli air raid on Kana in Lebanon. Thank you Israel, and especially military commander and former air force chief Dan Halutz. He was asked a while ago what he felt when releasing a big bomb that would kill civilians, and replied "a slight bump in the cockpit". Thankyou America, for rushing those extra bunker buster bombs to Israel, just the thing for slaughtering people while they sleep in basement shelters.

Thank you Britain, and Tony Blair, and the authorities at Prestwick airport,
for seeing there was no hindrance to the US transports bringing those extra bombs, now believed to have carried depleted uranium.

And now thanks to Uri Avnery and Gush Shalom for this report of a protest in IsraeL:


Immediately after the news about the Kana Massacre became known today (July 30), spontaneous protest demonstrations started near the Ministry of Defense compound in Tel-Aviv. In the evening, a larger demonstration was held. In spite of the fact that there was hardly any prior notice, more then 200
demonstrators gathered, including activists of Gush Shalom, Hadash, Anarchists Against Walls, Ta'ayush and other organizations.

This time, a group of Meretz members,who rebelled against their party leadership, was also present. They included former Meretz MKs Ya'el Dayan and Naomi Hazan. Also present were Hadash MK Dov Hinin and former MK Tamar Gojansky.

Conspicuous by its absence was Peace Now. The director of this organization,
which has ceased to exist as an active peace movement years ago, appears now
in the Media as one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the war. When a
journalist wrote by mistake that Peace Now had taken part in a demonstration, the director denied it vigorously.

Meretz leaders Yossi Beilin, Haim Oron and the others, except MK Zahava
Galon, also publicly supported the war.

"Peretz, Peretz, don't worry / Bush will meet you at The Hague!" shouted the
demonstrators through their megaphones, which could be clearly heard in the
ministry compound. The Hague, of course, is the seat of the International
Criminal Court. "Peretz, you have promised education and pensions / all you gave us is tanks and dead bodies!" - "Children want to live / both in Beirut and
in Haifa!" - "Killing Children is a war crime!" - "Labor in government /
brings only war!" - "Olmert's agreement with Bush: / War and occupation!" (All these rhyme in Hebrew.)

"It is rank hypocrisy to assert that the Kana inhabitants have been warned
to leave their homes," former MK Uri Avnery said. "From the first day of the
war, our army has bombed the roads and whole families were killed on the way.
They have concluded that it is safer to stay in a shelter at home than to move
on the roads." Avnery added that a commander who bombs and shells an
inhabited area must know such disasters are bound to happen."

"The criminal returns to the scene of the crime," commented Gush Shalom
spokesman Adam Keller, referring to the massacre that happened in Kana in 1996, when Shimon Peres started a war in Lebanon. "That massacre compelled Peres to break off his war. The conclusion is that we must stop this war at once, before it is too late."

Opposite, a small counter-demonstration took place. Usually, the fascists of
the Kahane group play this role, but this time they were Labor Party members,
who support the war completely.

In the course of the demonstration, a special unit of the riot police
appeared and for a moment it seemed that they were about to attack the protesters, but they only drove them off the road.

After two and a half weeks of suppressing every voice against the war, this
demonstration was covered on TV and the radio.

At the same time, demonstrations were held around the country, mostly by
Arab citizens.

(Some Notes: Meretz - party formed by merger of "socialist-Zionist" Mapam with some liberals.
Hadash - Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, consisting of Communist Party and allies.
Yael Dayan - writer, daughter of the famous eye-patched general.
Peace Now - what Uri says about the Israeli group is largely true also of its UK support group. Nowadays barely a fig-leaf for Zionist apparatchniks and pseudo-peaceniks, dubbed "Peace-but not now!" by former genuine members who have joined with Jewish Socialists in Just Peace UK, or become Jews for Justice for Palestinians).

These areas have been hit by Hizbollah rockets, which do not discriminate between whom they kill or injure. But this has not prevented the signatories seeing who was responsible for the flare up of hostilities.

Saturday, April 29
For wide distribution

We, residents of the Galilee and the Valleys, Arabs and Jews, do not believe the declarations of the government of Israel and the military.

We, residents of the Galilee and the Valleys, Arabs and Jews, do not believe the government of Israel and the military who maintain that war is being waged in self-defense and for the purpose of releasing the captured soldiers. We do not believe them because it is now common knowledge that the military steps were planned a long time ago. We know that about a month before the Hizballah attack on the army patrol, a military exercise was conducted as a rehearsal for an attack on Lebanon. Similarly, the kidnapping of the ministers and Parliament members of the Palestinian Authority was planned weeks ahead of the capture of the soldier Gilad Shalit by the Hamas.

We do not believe the government of Israel and the generals because there is a huge gap between the declared aims of the war and Israel's actual military operations. What is the connection between the declared aims of this war and the destruction of Beirut? How are the declared aims of the war served by the demolition of a baby-food plant? Or by the destruction of the city of Nabatiyeh? Or the bombardment of Gaza's power station? Or the destruction of the civilian infrastructure in Lebanon and Gaza? Or turning over half a million Lebanese civilians into refugees?

We cannot believe them because one cannot allegedly protect a civilian population by a cruel and deliberate attack on another civilian population.

We refuse to allow the government of Israel and the generals to use our names, the residents of the Galilee and the Valleys, in destroying a whole neighboring state, Lebanon. This cruel and brainless act will not carry our name! This is not the way to defend the population of the Galilee and the Valleys. We have already learned from earlier Lebanon wars that the aggressive approach that leads to war crimes and crimes against humanity, to the total destruction of a state, also leads to the destruction of any prospects for peace and calming. The present tragic situation is a product of a similar policy conducted in Lebanon by Ariel Sharon in 1982. Each military step taken by the IDF ends up hurting the civilian populations on both sides, though first and foremost inflicting an intolerable price on civilians on the Lebanese side.

We do not believe the government of Israel and the generals because we are convinced that this war mainly serves the interests of the American policy in the Middle East. The government of Lebanon has requested a ceasefire. Hizballah has agreed to a ceasefire. The European Community has requested a ceasefire. Only the government of Israel has refused to consider a ceasefire. The Bush administration is encouraging the government of Israel not to stop the military action.

We, residents of the Galilee and the Valleys, along with all the peoples of the region, are victims of the plans for the reshaping of the Middle East, victims of a desire to establish a new order in the Middle East that does not serve the interests of its peoples. The American army did not bring peace to Iraq. The Israeli army will not bring peace to Lebanon. The American army will not establish a democracy in Iraq, the Israeli army will not bring democracy in Lebanon. The American policies have brought chaos and destruction upon Iraq. The implementation of similar policies in Lebanon by the Israeli army will only bring more chaos and destruction.

We refuse to allow our name to be used in bringing disaster to another civilian population. Even if the government of Israel and the generals could convince us that their policy is the quick road to ridding the northern border of the threat posed by Hizballah, we would not have accepted this policy on moral grounds. We refuse to accept a policy that justifies deliberately harming any civilian population, whether it targets civilians in Gaza, in Lebanon, as well as in the Galilee!

We believe that there is an alternative to this aggressive policy, a policy predicated upon the violation of the Geneva Conventions. We demand that the government of Israel declare an immediate ceasefire. Every moment of fighting generates more victims. We are convinced that an Israeli ceasefire will lead to a ceasefire on all other fronts.

We demand that the ceasefire be used for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and for the negotiated release of prisoners-of-war - Israeli, Lebanese and Palestinian. The question of political prisoners and prisoners-of-war is now the central issue. Only such a move of an immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and negotiations regarding exchange of prisoners-of-war can offer the region a way out of the threat of a comprehensive war, bringing the peace and calming that all the peoples of the region all crave.


Residents of the Galilee and the Valleys, Arabs and Jews,
against the war.

Rafik Bakri (B'eina)
Uri Davis (Skhnin)
Bilha Golan (Beit She'arim)
Rémy Mendelwzeig (Manof - Misgav)
Nakad Nakad (Shfar Amer)

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

What's in the pipeline for Lebanon war?

THE day war broke out in Lebanon, Israel's Minister for National Infrastructure, Iraqi-born ex-general Benyamin Ben Eliezer, nicknamed "Fuad", was just back from a trip to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, where he had headed a delegation at the opening of a new pipeline bringing oil from the Caspian to the Mediterranean shore. What connection could this event have with the awful bloodshed in Lebanon?

I'm not inclined to accept simple explanations for world events involving millions of people, in terms of conspiracies by a handful of individuals or corporations, out to grab oil or some other commodity. You know, where the person smiles and shakes their head at your naieve talk of policies and national issues, then leans forward to impart some gem of information, such as there is oil in the Middle East, capitalists want to make money, so what else do you need to know? Quite a lot of things, actually.

Not seeing enough oil in a region, "anti-imperialist" theorists discover plans for pipelines. They did with Afghanistan, oblivious of the fact that US oil companies already had a deal which the Saudis backed Taliban to secure. In former Yugoslavia the pipeline theory gave way to the Trepca metal mines, discovered as "hidden cause" even though Milosevic, having crushed Kosova's autonomy a decade before had begun selling off its mineral resources to capitalist interests well before NATO decided to invade.

Perhaps there were rival interests involved, but that's a complicated thought for those who prefer to generalise about "Imperialism", or "the West".

Sometimes it's simpler than that. "The Americans need Iraqi oil 'cause they drive gas-guzzling cars", one heard from speakers of a Greenish hue. So what were the Iraqis going to do with their oil, drink it? Seemed to me they were making desperate efforts to break through sanctions and sell it for stuff they needed. But one thing Iraq was about to do with its oil was trade in euros instead of dollars, and by a coincidence that was when America decided to invade. Chirac wasn't so keen, not from French "cowardice", but because French ingrates failed to recognise their interest in helping US corporations dominate the world and all it holds.

Taking a leaf from the anti-imperialist notebook, a letter in the Jewish Chronicle this week claims Syria and Iran, being oil-exporting nations, started the war in Lebanon to push up the price of oil. Trouble is, Syria is not in fact one of the world's major oil producers. Besides, Bashar Assad and his intelligence services, as well as Iran's President Ahmadinejad must have been jolly clever to ensnare Israeli chief of staff Dan Halutz into bombing first Gaza and then Beirut, and being able to count on Bush and Blair and the neo-cons chorus to back the war, no questions asked. Maybe they are all in the plot?

Therein lies madness, as I told the earnest people who have mysteriously surfaced proffering pamphlets explaining how 9/11 was all a hoax, or put-up job. But though conspiracies can't explain history, they do occur from time to time, or governments would not have secret services and Official Secrets Acts. Economic interests do underly politics, even though uncovering them does not dispense with the need to trace their contradictory working out in parties, strategies and ideologies, where results are often at odds with each other. For instance, US support to Israel is as crucial as it was when the state was set up in 1948 (when incidentally, Soviet backing also played a vital though now often conveniantly forgotten part). But the Zionist state was long regarded as a costly nuisance by big oil and military figures relying on America's links with right-wing Arab regimes. Despite the coalescence of oil, neo-cons and Israel lobbyists(not least crusading Christians)around the Bush White House today, some of the old disgruntlement survives. But things have changed.

So, without snatching at "explanations", let's look at that oil pipeline and bear it in mind. It is brought to our attention in an article by Michel Chossudovsky, War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, published by Global Research and to be found at

Referring to "the world's largest strategic pipeline, which will channel more a million barrels of oil a day to Western markets", Chossudovsky notes that "Virtually unnoticed, the inauguration of the Ceyhan-Tblisi-Baku (BTC) oil pipeline, which links the Caspian sea to the Eastern Mediterranean, took place on the 13th of July, at the very outset of the Israeli sponsored bombings of Lebanon. One day before the Israeli air strikes, the main partners and shareholders of the BTC pipeline project, including several heads of State and oil company executives were in attendance at the port of Ceyhan. They were then rushed off for an inauguration reception in Istanbul, hosted by Turkey's President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in the plush surroundings of the Çýraðan Palace.

"Also in attendance was British Petroleum's (BP) CEO, Lord Browne together with senior government officials from Britain, the US and Israel. BP leads the BTC pipeline consortium. Other major Western shareholders include Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, France's Total and Italy's ENI. (see Annex) Israel's Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was present at the venue together with a delegation of top Israeli oil officials. The BTC pipeline totally bypasses the territory of the Russian Federation. It transits through the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia, both of which have become US 'protectorates', firmly integrated into a military alliance with the US and NATO", the author writes.

"Moreover, both Azerbaijan and Georgia have longstanding military cooperation agreements with Israel. In 2005, Georgian companies received some $24 million in military contracts funded out of U.S. military assistance to Israel under the so-called "Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program".

"Israel has a stake in the Azeri oil fields, from which it imports some twenty percent of its oil. The opening of the pipeline will substantially enhance Israeli oil imports from the Caspian sea basin. But there is another dimension which directly relates to the war on Lebanon. Whereas Russia has been weakened, Israel is slated to play a major strategic role in "protecting" the Eastern Mediterranean transport and pipeline corridors out of Ceyhan".

I'd have thought Turkey, as a reliable longstanding NATO member, could look after its own pipeline and ports, but Chossudowski, citing Russian sources, sees an important Israeli role. "[The BTC pipeline] considerably changes the status of the region's countries and cements a new pro-West alliance. Having taken the pipeline to the Mediterranean, Washington has practically set up a new bloc with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Israel, " (Komerzant, Moscow, 14 July 2006) Israel is now part of the Anglo-American military axis, which serves the interests of the Western oil giants in the Middle East and Central Asia. While the official reports state that the BTC pipeline will "channel oil to Western markets", what is rarely acknowledged is that part of the oil from the Caspian sea would be directly channeled towards Israel. In this regard, an underwater Israeli-Turkish pipeline project has been envisaged which would link Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon and from there through Israel's main pipeline system, to the Red Sea.The objective of Israel is not only to acquire Caspian sea oil for its own consumption needs but also to play a key role in re-exporting Caspian sea oil back to the Asian markets through the Red Sea port of Eilat.

'The strategic implications of this re-routing of Caspian sea oil are farreaching. In April 2006, Israel and Turkey announced plans for four underwater pipelines, which would bypass Syrian and Lebanese territory.

"Turkey and Israel are negotiating the construction of a multi-million-dollar energy and water project that will transport water, electricity, natural gas and oil by pipelines to Israel, with the oil to be sent onward from Israel to the Far East, The new Turkish-Israeli proposal under discussion would see the transfer of water, electricity, natural gas and oil to Israel via four underwater pipelines.
“Baku oil can be transported to Ashkelon via this new pipeline and to India and the Far East.[via the Red sea]"

"Ceyhan and the Mediterranean port of Ashkelon are situated only 400 km apart. Oil can be transported to the city in tankers or via specially constructed under-water pipeline. From Ashkelon the oil can be pumped through already existing pipeline to the port of Eilat at the Red Sea; and from there it can be transported to India and other Asian countries in tankers. (REGNUM )

'Also involved in this project is a pipeline to bring water to Israel, pumping water from upstream resources of the Tigris and Euphrates river system in Anatolia. This has been a long-run strategic objective of Israel to the detriment of Syria and Iraq. Israel's agenda with regard to water is supported by the military cooperation agreement between Tel Aviv and Ankara.

'Diverting Central Asian oil and gas to the Eastern Mediterranean (under Israeli military protection), for re-export to Asia, serves to undermine the inter-Asian energy market, which is based on the development of direct pipeline corridors linking Central Asia and Russia to South Asia, China and the Far East. Ultimately, this design is intended to weaken Russia's role in Central Asia and cut off China from Central Asian oil resources. It is also intended to isolate Iran. Meanwhile, Israel has emerged as a new powerful player in the global energy market. Prior to the bombing of Lebanon, Israel and Turkey had announced the underwater pipeline routes, which bypassed Syria and Lebanon. These underwater pipeline routes did not overtly encroach on the territorial sovereignty of Lebanon and Syria. On the other hand, the development of alternative land based corridors (for oil and water) through Lebanon and Syria would require Israeli-Turkish territorial control over the Eastern Mediterranean coastline through Lebanon and Syria'.

Without entirely swallowing Chossudowsky's arguments or analysis, he does raise issues which should be taken into account. Sometimes the very lack of attention given to some aspects of a problem by our news media might lead us to wonder whether there is something important they would rather hide. We can guess that Russia's rulers aren't happy about the new exploiters of Baku pushing them aside, and this may give their versions of events a certain slant. Russian intelligence on the Middle East has been misleading before.

But how come British media have so little to say about British companies' achievements in some troubled parts of the world? Is it modesty, or the fear that people might start seeing connections we're not supposed to think about?

There's more than oil to the Middle East. There's people, struggling to survive and be free, and to build a better future for generations to come. We should never let that get lost in discussions about pipelines and maps. But it is important for people's lives who controls the oil wealth, and increasingly the water that everyone needs. While Britain and the US have been with Israel the lone opponents of a cease fire in Lebanon, the kind of "lasting peace" that Condoleeza Rice is supposedly working on seems to involve Turkish troops, Israel's ally, entering Lebanon as "peacekeepers" while Israeli forces kept in the south. Sometimes even the players, at regional level, might not have seen the stakes in the whole game.


Don't let anyone put this light out!

BEIRUT cafe society.

Israeli commanders want to destroy Lebanon's rebirth.

AFTER Israel's 1982 bombing and invasion of Lebanon (which in laying so much of the country waste incidentally prepared the ground for Hizbollah to emerge as a resistance movement of the despised Shi'ite population in the south), a small group of Jews from Britain who had opposed the war set out as a delegation for Beirut.

Consisting of an engineer, two scientists, and a children's specialist, they wanted to see the results of Israel's actions for themselves, as well as meeting personally with those who had been at the receiving end, and discussing with Lebanese and Palestinian fellow-professionals what could be done.

One of the visitors returned with a small but poignant souvenir. A dented metal Star of David he had found amid the ruins of Beirut's synagogue. I had seen a photograph of that synagogue being guarded at night by a PLO sentry during the Lebanese civil war, when Palestinians in that quarter took responsibility for neighbourhood security. But that did not stop the synagogue taking a direct hit from an Israeli naval gunboat in 1982.

My friend Arye who showed the Magen David to people said it had been attached to the twin stone tablets bearing the ten commandments which had decorated the synagogue's portals before it was destroyed. "The Israeli naval commander was the first Jew since Moses to throw down the tablets of the Law!", he wryly observed. Today that destructive image takes on fresh grim significance.

After much effort, a Jewish museum had just been opened in Manchester about this time, and I suggested to Arye that he should offer to donate his war-damaged Magen David from Beirut. But he said that he wanted to be able to return it to the rightful owners, to the Lebanese Jewish community, whenever he got the chance.

I lost touch with Arye over the years, and I don't know whether he still has that metal star. But he may yet get the chance to return it, if this US and British backed war is stopped. Amid the black smoke of Israel's renewed onslaught on Lebanon, a little light has shone out in the form of a new weblog celebrating Lebanon's Jewish community, wherever they may be scattered, and the country's reconstruction in which they hoped to take part , before Israeli generals once more set about destroying Lebanon and its people's hopes.

"Though we believe in the universal principal of the right to self-defense we condemn the indiscriminate and disproportionate response from the State of Israel", says the Lebanon site. "Ultimately, we condemn the violence wholeheartedly".

The Jews of Lebanon blog has this mission statement:

"It is the intent of this blog to reestablish a connection between Lebanese of the Jewish faith around the world with their country of Lebanon. The message of coexistence and genuine national unity is not applicable so as long as a fragment from Lebanon’s mosaic of minorities is missing. If religious coexistence fails in Lebanon it will ultimately fail throughout the world.
It is the intent of this blog to provide a venue to express an adamant rejection of the intertwining of politics and humanitarian and moral endeavors. We reject the discriminatory and ignorant tendencies to equate the religion of Judaism to the politics of Zionism.

"The Lebanese experience has reaffirmed the strongly held belief that so as long as we remain victims of prejudgment and bias we will continue embedding ignorance within the fabric of our society. This blog is established in the hopes that we can once again reaffirm our faith in our country and in the principle of national unity and the morals of respect and integrity.

"This endeavor is strictly initiated and upheld by our patriotic and moral convictions and not influenced by any political considerations. Our aim and intent is solely rested upon our faith in finally building the Lebanese Republic that not only accepts but embraces religious and cultural diversity.
Any individual who subscribes to our philosophy of separating political agendas from moral obligations is welcomed and encouraged to help make this blog a success. Long Live the Lebanese (no matter what their religious convictions are!)'

With some striking photographs of Beirut's reconstruction before the Israeli and US-made bombs came, Jews of Lebanon says:

"The reconstruction of Beirut is considered the single largest urban redevelopment project of any city since World War II. Scars of Lebanon’s dark past are being erased everyday and in light of the recent political events, a high sense of optimism for Lebanon’s future is present and is evident in the large and continuing reconstruction and current real estate boom".

Looking at this I wonder whether it is precisely the success which Israel's jealous vandals want to destroy under cover of what the BBC and some newspapers still obligingly pretend is only "war on Hizbollah".

But it is not only buildings, or optimism, that are being destroyed. As ambulances and refugee columns are targetted, children killed and maimed, a fresh legacy of hatred is being renewed for generations, and we can't say where its ripples will stop. "If religious co-existence fails in Lebanon it will ultimately fail throughout the world", the Jews of Lebanon weblog warns.
Last night, on my way home from a demonstration in Whitehall, I picked up a copy of the day's Sun which someone had left on the train.

This right-wing Murdoch-owned tabloid, best-known for tits and flag-waving jingoism, had a page exhorting Israel to press on with its war, and denouncing "idiots" who said its action was "disproportionate". Another Sun columnist suggested the British government had bowed to "ethnics" in spending taxpayers' money evacuating British citizens who should not have been there in the first place. Those who know the paper's hate-filled campaigns against asylum-seekers and other vulnerable groups will not be over-suprised by the way it takes side with brutal aggression. I hope those supporting Israel's actions from the Jewish community will feel comfortable with their "friends", and happy at what the future holds.

For those of us opposed to war and racism the line-up is a warning. But amid the gloom and battle smoke, the Jews of Lebanon site is an unexpected good sign. It reminds me of a saying which a friend of mine used to fondly quote, that "It is better to light one small candle than forever curse the darkness". I won't pretend the Lebanon weblog's views are mine. I neither share their optimism about a bourgeois Lebanon, nor consider their condemnation of the war adequate. But they are shining a little light, of hope, and truth, and tolerance, and we should beware letting that light be extinguished.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

America's Scottish airbase; civil airport used as stageing post for Israel bomb flights

BRITAIN'S normally US-subservient Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett says she has protested to Washington about its use of Scotland's Prestwick airport to transport bombs to Israel. We have seen the death and destruction wrought by Israeli planes on Lebanon's people, with strikes on apartment blocks, refugee cars, ambulances and a UN post.

News came that the United States was speeding up its supply of bombs to Israel. Now we learn that apparently the US planes carrying the bombs have been stopping en route at Glasgow's Prestwick airport.

Asked about this at the failed Rome crisis meeting of Foreign Ministers, Mrs Beckett said it seemed the US was not following the right procedures over arms flights. She said she was "not happy" and she had talked to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about it. "We have already let the United States know that this is an issue that appears to be seriously at fault, and we will be making a formal protest if it appears that that is what has happened," she said.

A report in the Daily Telegraph said two chartered Airbus A310 cargo planes filled with GBU 28 laser-guided bombs landed at Prestwick Airport en-route to Israel from the US. The Israeli government said it needed the munitions to attack bunkers used by Hezbollah resistance fighters.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We have procedures in place for flights carrying arms. "It's important that they are followed. If they are not, we will raise it with the US but we are not going to comment on US flights transiting through the UK. "

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "Any alliance must be based on trust, even one as intimate as that between the United States and the United Kingdom. If these reports are true, it is particularly provocative for the United States to have acted in this way. It can only reinforce the belief of many that Britain is taken for granted in the so-called special relationship. "

Scottish National Party defence spokesman Angus Robertson said:"The UK government must get behind the United Nations' call for a ceasefire by both Hezbollah and Israel, rather than using Scotland as a staging post for supplying weapons of mass destruction. The London Labour government must end UK involvement in this process now".

"This issue once again highlights the need for an end to the hypocrisy shown by the Liberal Democrats, who have again called for an investigation at Westminster but importantly, where their minister is responsible for transport at Holyrood, they are doing nothing to stop these flights."

A spokesperson for Prestwick said the airport had provided logistical support for military flights evr since the Second World War "That support involves allowing crew to rest, refuelling aircraft and providing food and water. "The airport is obliged to allow aircraft from any CAA-registered country to land here."

WOULD any country be permitted to fly tons of weapons or other controversial cargo into Prestwick without let or hindrance, regardless of destination?
WILL citizens in Glasgow and the surrounding area be happy to know that their civil airport has been used for such flights without the authorities thinking this out of the ordinary or bothering to inform them?
ARE airport workers and their unions happy about refuelling such flights or working in their proximity?
WERE they ever consulted?
HOW much value has a Scottish Parliament which apparently has no say in the use of the country's airports, let alone airspace?
WHAT would the British government and media say if forces resisting US and Israeli military aggression, or wishing to avenge the death and destruction in Lebanon - including the bombing of Beirut international airport - were to conclude that since the British authorities apparently do not distinguish between civil and military aviation, they need not do so? Prestwick boasts that it is first stop on the "great circle" flight route from America. It is also just 22 miles from Glasgow, and about 56 miles from Lockerbie.


Britain should take a more robust and independent approach to the United States, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published this week. The survey, first since the Israeli attack on Lebanon began, showed 63% of voters say Blair has tied British policy too closely to the US. More than 54 per cent of Labour voters think so. Among Conservatives this rises to 68 per cent, and Liberal Democrats, 83%.

Voters are strongly critical of the scale of Israel's military operations in Lebanon, with 61% believing the country has overreacted to the threats it faces. Despite repeated media slanting towards Israel's version of events, and references to the capture of Israeli soldiers as "kidnapping", only 22% of voters believe Israel has reacted proportionately to such attacks. .

Under fire for lining up with the US against a Lebanon cease fire, Blair tried to pose as a humanitarian and peace dove at a press conference on Tuesday: "What is occurring in Lebanon at the present time is a catastrophe. Anybody with any sense of humanity wants what is happening to stop and stop now," he said. "But if it is to stop, it must stop on both sides.",,329537428-117700,00.html

So why no cease fire? Blair's Foreign Office officials have tried to assure reporters that although he refused to criticise Israeli action in public, he was having a word with them in private.

Two-faced Tony or "perfidious Albion"? Which Blair should we believe? If Blair really gives a damn about Lebanese civilians how come the British government could not support a cease fire call, or interrupt arms supplies? "Don't watch their mouths, watch their hands" -and arms - is sound advice when faced with card sharps, con men, statesmen and politicians.


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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Face to face with warmongers in Kenton

THE true character of Israel's military onslaught on Lebanon has started to break through the politician's claptrap, with scenes of a bombed Red Cross ambulance and the wrecked bodies of children shown last night on television.

Sides have to be taken, and leaders must be confronted. And if they say something like "of course I am against that sort of thing, but..." , don't let them get away with that "but".

SOME 300 British Jews, including well-known figures like film director Mike Leigh, writer Gillian Slovo and actress Miriam Margolyes, signed a paid ad in the Times on July 6 expressing horror at Israeli action in Gaza, supporting those Israelis protesting against it, and urging people to write to their MPs as well as the Israeli embassy.
(for full text and list of signatories see

The Jewish Chronicle has taken to referring to those behind such protests as "anti-Israel", which reminds me of the Un-American Activities Committee, and of the way right-wing British newspapers in the declining years of Empire used to call protests over colonial repression and torture "anti-British demonstrations". I suppose it reassures some JC readers that there's no need to trouble their brain cells or consciences over what Israel is doing, but these days being described as "anti-Israel" is becoming like an accolade.

Anyway, there were numerous Jewish people taking part in the "anti-Israel" demonstration in London on Saturday. The banners of the Jewish Socialists' Group and Jews for Justice for Palestinians were present. Jewish Socialist David Rosenberg got huge applause when he spoke at the rally, both when he said this wasn't a war between Jews and Muslims but a struggle for freedom and justice, and when he called for greetings to the demonstration that would be starting in Tel Aviv that evening. (This brought 5,000 Israelis, Jewish and Palestinian, together on another "anti-Israel" demonstration, i.e. against the war).
(for Dave Rosenberg's speech and text of leaflet distributed by JSG on London demonstration see )

Some people were much bolder and braver than me. Hearing that the Zionist Federation and the officially recognised Board of Deputies of British Jews were holding a "pro-Israel" rally on Sunday (variously billed as "Solidarity with Israel" and "For Peace, Against Terror"), they decided at very short notice to hold a picket outside the Jewish Free School in Kenton, a north-west London suburb, where this event was held.

Inside, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was telling his flock that Israel was being punished for ever having withdrawn from Lebanon, and for withdrawing from Gaza. Outside, a few brave women upheld Jewish morality and honour against this High Priest of bombing and terror.

"I think it was worth it as they could see there is an opposition - anything
to get them out of their ghetto and rattle their self-righteous, bigoted,
racist, denial", says Debbie, who organised the protest. "And the JfJfP banner made up for our smallness - it was enough to 'spoil' the scenery for them! One man told the press that we don't represent the Jewish community. I said HE didn't, (either). I was lunged at a couple of times but the police took them away".

'In the end there were five of us - all women - plus four small boys from the neighbourhood, two Pakistani and two Lebanese, who decided to join us - they were very helpful with handing out JfJfP leaflets, making placards out of cardboard which they fetched from home, and
trying to talk to people. - though one woman accused us of "exploiting
Lebanese children"!

'The police had set up a special barrier for us to stand behind, but in the
end decided to let us stand behind the school railings so we could talk to
people as they went in and came out. We were also allowed to tie the JfJfP banner to the railings - it looked very striking with its slogan "Jews for Justice for Palestinians: Israel: Stop the Killings - Negotiate!"

'There seemed to be thousands and thousands of people going into the school - a lot of them just ignored us, a few were quite polite and friendly, but - especially when they left at the end, when they were fired up with
nationalism - a large number were extremely hostile and really very
dangerous and we were very glad of the police presence.

'They tore up our leaflets, grabbed our placards and tore them to pieces, tried to tear down our banner (the police managed to prevent this) and I really think they would have torn us to pieces if the police hadn't been there - the police actually had to intervene twice to prevent physical attacks. They spat at us, called us "traitors" and accused us of being like concentation camp kapos and said they hoped we would rot or burn in hell. Two of us had come by car with another JfjfP signatory and a policeman had to escort us to the car (parked a few streets away) at the end because of the likelihood we would be attacked.

'On the other hand, there was quite a lot of press interest, and we gave
interviews to the Press Association and the Evening Standard. So on the
whole I think it was worth doing, though it was certainly not a pleasant

'By the way, we saw Paul Usiskin, the Chair of Peace Now UK, leaving the rally....

'One lady actually started crying at one point, not because she was
frightened but because she was so upset at the hate and nastiness .... she
kept asking them if they were happy that 10 times more Lebanese civilians had been killed than Israeli, and many of them said they were perfecty happy with this, and one man said "I wish it was 40 times as much" and another one said "I wish it was a million times as much"... '

In a surprise move, even the BBC reported on the picket. "A small counter-demonstration was staged outside the event by Jewish people opposed to military action in Lebanon".

Here's another account, by Naomi from Hackney:

'Along with a few other supporters of Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), I turned up outside the Jewish Free School on Sunday July 23, venue of a rally called by the Board of Jewish Deputies. We were intent on countering the organisers' support for Israel's actions in Lebanon. We had cause to be grateful for a benign police presence as we five women stood behind some railings with our banner calling for negotiation, not occupation.

'For more than two hours we attempted to engage with the many hundreds arriving to endorse mass murder and illegal collective punishment. Our handwritten placards were ripped up and scattered on the pavement, burly men attempted to pull down our banner, middle-aged matrons gobbed in our direction, enviably bronzed teenagers swore, smirked and gestured abuse, bewildered small children followed their parents, learning hatred from the cradle.

'Are you comfortable knowing that Israel kills 10 Arabs for every Jew? "Yes!" they howled, grinning insanely. "We should kill more. British bombers killed more Germans than Brits. There are more Arabs than Jews. Let them die." Do you really believe that flattening Gaza and bombing Lebanon back to the stone age will bring about peace? "Israel has the right to defend itself," they spat. "They are all terrorists trying to destroy us. We have to smash them first. We have to destroy Hizbullah and Hamas."

'Don't you think it is time, after all these years, to negotiate and allow Palestinians the chance to build a viable state of their own? Don't you care that more and more desperate young Muslims will turn to terrorism because of Israel's actions? "All of biblical Israel is ours. They are all backed by Iran and Syria. The world is on our side."

'The ranting went on and on. Smash, kill, destroy. Was this the language of a peace-loving democratic state? Over the past four decades I've often tried to persuade British people that it is possible to look critically at Israel's role in the Middle East without being anti-semitic and that being Jewish does not entail supporting every Israeli action. But never before had I encountered right-wing Zionism in full spate. Call me naïve, but I found it terrifying and shocking and it reduced me to floods of tears. Was there no-one in this throng who could talk about Arabs as fellow human beings? Was no-one thinking about peace rather than war?

'Honestly, there was a mere handful of such people, a tiny minority willing to discuss a way forward which acknowledges Arab as well as Jewish rights. The majority want Israel to fight on regardless of the cost, while Bush and Blair give them every encouragement. Armageddon here we come.'

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Remembering Des, and demanding justice

DES WARREN on march (centre), flanked on his right by fellow-accused Ricky Tomlinson, now better-known as TV star.
Hairstyles have changed (mercifully!), but other things haven't, unfortunately. Radio Four last night featured a programme on "The Return of the Lump", about exploitation of Polish workers paid "cash in hand" in the building industry.

IT will soon be thirty years since building worker Des Warren was released from prison after serving three years on "conspiracy" charges for his part in the 1972 building workers' strike. Des was one of the pickets jailed at Shrewsbury, for having gone to that town to bring out unorganised sites.

Not only did he serve the longest sentence, but his health never recovered from the effect of tranquiliser drugs administered in jail. Des died in April 2004.

There were undoubtedly people in British politics and the judiciary who hoped the conviction of 24 workers for picketing and the particularly harsh treatment of their "ringleader" would teach trades unionists a lesson. Building employers who flout laws on safety and tax among others were doubtless simply glad "the law" had been enforced.
But the lesson we have learned may not be the one they wanted taught.

There are people in the Labour Party and trade unions who would be happier if the case of the Shrewbury pickets was forgotten, lest it remind us of their inglorious role, and spur our fighting resolve for the future.

But others have stubborn memories, reinforced by the ongoing fight each day for decent pay, conditions and safety in the building trade, for the workers' right to organise, and for the freedoms denied or threatened under this government.

Workers in the north-west, some of whom were involved in the campaign to release the pickets back in the 1970s, have organised an event in Liverpool on Saturday 5 August with the twin slogans
Remember Des Warren
Justice for the Shrewsbury Pickets

A major issue confronted by building workers in the 1970s was "The Lump", whereby workers rights and conditions were undermined with fictitious self-employment. Though forms change, casualisation has spread like cancer through British industry and services. It is usually imposed, by ending proper jobs, and though the work and hours expected from you are anything but casual, observance of your rights, conditions and safety, even prompt payment of your wages, may be.

In the building trade particularly it seems "the Lump" is back, though now the victims may be Polish and other east European workers paid cash in hand, exploited by gangmasters, and cheated of their rights and benefits.

So it is only right that the Liverpool meeting, besides demanding justice for the 24 pickets convicted at Shrewsbury is adding the demand:
"End casualised labour"

It's at 3pm, Saturday 5 August 2006 at the Casa, Hope Street, Liverpool
- Commemorate Des Warren
· Justice for the 24 pickets convicted of conspiracy
· End casualised labour

For further information see:


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Sunday, July 23, 2006

This demo counts, even if the BBC can't!

TEL AVIV Saturday evening July 22 (photo from Jacob Katriel)
THERE were demonstrations around the world this weekend against Israel's war on Gaza and Lebanon. People marched in Sydney and Toronto, Amsterdam and Manchester, Edinburgh and London.

There were some 5,000 people out on the street in Tel Aviv. Or 2,500 if you prefer the report in Ha'aretz. Taking into account the relative sizes of population, that's like getting 25,000 out in London. Not bad in wartime.
(and those brave Women in Black who regularly defy abuse and threats insisted on maintaining a peace vigil in Haifa between showers of katyushas!).

BBC Radio Four news had ommitted to tell people that morning there was going to be a demonstration in central London, though it gave pre-publicity to an Israeli embassy-arranged Zionist rally on Sunday. On Saturday evening the Beeb did report the London and Tel Aviv demonstrations. But somehow it only counted 1,000 on the Tel Aviv demonstration. Maybe this was just an arithmetical difference. Nothing to do with Blair and Bush supporting the Israeli aggression.

Here's a report from Peretz Kidron, a long-standing Israeli peace campaigner and one of the founders of Yesh Gvul (There is a border, or there is a limit), formed by reservists who refused to serve in Lebanon or the Occupied Territories. (That's their banner behind the young people in our Tel Aviv march picture.)

Dear friend,
Saturday's peace march in Tel Aviv was mounted by a coalition of left-wing parties and non-parliamentary peace groups, Yesh Gvul included. Participation turned out much larger than anyone had foreseen ("over 2,500" according to Ha'aretz, "almost 5000" by Uri Avnery).Bystanders looked on in amazement as the noisy demonstration chanted slogans against the war (one offered a Hebrew version of a Vietnam era cry: "Defence Minister Amir Peretz, how many kids have you killed so far ?").

The Israelimedia have promoted the false impression of 100% unity behind the attack onLebanon, and citizens seemed stunned to hear such outright voices of dissent. Among the speakers at the concluding rally, Yesh Gvul coordinator Ishai Menuchin focussed on the war crimes being committed daily, calling on soldiers to refuse any part in such excesses, and warning that perpetrators will ultimately face justice, before Israeli courts if possible; if not, he promised that the movement would act to bring them before foreign courts.

Further protests are in preparation. The anti-war coalition is determined to step up its efforts, and we rely on our friends and supporters worldwide to spread the word about internal Israeli opposition to the war. We need your help and solidarity !

To soldiers and reservists: Yesh Gvul is operating its hot line with counselling for those refusing to take part in the Lebanon offensive (02.6250271)Photographs from the march and rally will shortly go up on our website

Peretz Kidron

THERE'S MORE about the July 22 demo., including more photographs, now available at

The BBC's wrong-end-of-telescope reporting (a change from their more usual blind-eye) prompted Julia Bard, a member of the Jewish Socialists' Group in London and herself a professional journalist, to write to them:

Dear BBC News,

I am a member of one of the Jewish groups that participated in yesterday's demonstration in London against the war in Lebanon, which sent a message of support to a similar demonstration called by Israeli peace campaigners. So I was disappointed to hear that, according to your news bulletin late yesterday evening, only '1,000 people' demonstrated in Tel Aviv.
Even the Israeli press -- which is not noted for its sympathetic reporting of events that challenge the government -- said there were 2,500 on the Tel Aviv demonstration yesterday, and we have received a report from a participant who says there were 5,000.
It's par for the course for the media, including the BBC, to slice these figures in half, but to misreport it to the extent that you have, is irresponsible. Given the population of Israel, a demonstration of 2,500 would be the equivalent of 25,000 in Britain – a remarkable level of dissent in the middle of a war. It is important for the world -- and for the Lebanese people -- to know that there is such a high level of opposition amongst the Israeli population to their government taking them into this cruel and destructive war.You can see how Haa'aretz reported the event at ShArtVty.jhtml?sw=demonstration&itemNo=741412

Yours Julia Bard

Julia has also forwarded a message from Israeli women's peace activist Gila Svirsky:

The peace movement in Israel has pulled out all stops to end this mad war. Lots of groups are active, and we had a big joint demonstration last night - at least 5,000 people (though the media reported 2,500). Marching through the streets of Tel Aviv with signs, "End the War", "End the Occupation" felt like a relief after the roar of pro-war-talk on all the media. Women in Black held vigils last Friday throughout Israel. The reactions from the street were quite violent and the police were out in numbers keeping onlookers (and on-shouters) at bay. After our vigil, we read the list of 55 (!) locations [see list below] that held solidarity events this weekend. Some were Women in Black and others organized by allied groups. We felt greatly encouraged by this international solidarity.
I end with a short note from Hannah Safran of the Haifa vigil of Women in Black. The women were shelled during the vigil, but they returned to complete it. Later that day, under the newly formed "Women Against War", they again left their homes to protest. hi gila, how are you? we are having a terrible day today. while we were demonstrating at our regular Women in Black square (30-40 people in all), we were bombed on both sides. it felt like being targeted from close. we had to abandon the vigil and look for shelter. we came back 20 min. later and completed the vigil on time. As we were traveling home, there was a second attack and we had to stop the car and look for shelter. When we came home we opened the newspaper to read letters of women from Lebanon. The devastation is horrific. Has Israel gone crazy or have we not noticed what a mad country we live in? It is 5:45 p.m. now and we had two attacks since then. I am off to our daily demonstration of Women Against War in front of the Foreign Office and all the foreign press. We will not be silenced. War must be stopped now. Every min. counts as people's lives are in danger. do all you can to stop this madness. only someone from outside can put pressure on Israel to stop. i have to hurry. be well and let's pray for better, hannahPlease continue to voice your protest throughout the world.

Gila Svirsky

Demonstrations and Vigils held this weekend (or just before)
Albuquerque, NM, US: Amsterdam, Netherlands: Armidale, Australia: Asheville, NC, US: Baltimore, MD, US: Bay Area, CA, US: Belgrade, Serbia: Bellevue, WA, US: Berlin, Germany; Bonn, Germany; Burlington, VT, US; Calgary, Canada; Canberra, Australia; Cologne, Germany; Concord, MA, US; Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; Farmington, MA, US; Göteborg, Sweden; Greece; Halmsted, Sweden; Kitchener, Canada; Lancaster, PA, US; London, UK; London, Ontario, Canada; Los Angeles, CA, US; Malmö, Sweden; Marseille, France; Melbourne, Australia; Minneapolis, MN, US; Montreal, Canada; Naples, Italy; New Orleans, LA, US; New Paltz, NY, US (near Woodstock)New York, NY, US; Oslo, Norway; Ottawa, Canada; Oxford, UK; Padova, Italy; Piteå, Sweden; Paris, France; Pune, Marashtra, India; Rome, Italy; San Luis Obispo, CA, US; Santa Fe, NM, US; Seattle, WA, US; South Dakota, US; Stockholm, Sweden; Strasbourg, France; Toronto, Canada; Tucson, AZ, US; Switzerland; Turin, Italy; Valencia, Spain; Vienna, Austria; Washington, DC, US;


Saturday, July 22, 2006

The War that's Made in America

DEAD IN LEBANON. US wants to increase the killing. for more pictures from the bombing.

CONDOLEEZA RICE says what is happening in Lebanon is the "birth pangs" of a new Middle East. Not even Orwell's newspeak ("WAR is Peace") could match the perverted use of language from America's rulers and their allies.

Would you trust that woman as a midwife?
Her boss, who says the bombing must go on, is the hero of "pro-Lifers" for blocking embryonic stem-cell research!
Forgive the sick humour. It's the only kind on offer from this situation.

And just in case anyone still dreams Washington is going to "restrain" its rotweiler, here's the news from the New York Times today, July 22, 2006

U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis
WASHINGTON, July 21 — The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.
The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the
United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.
The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.

I like the comparison between Iran possibly managing to get some more katyushas to Hezbollah resistance fighters and the world's super-power stepping up high-tech weaponry supplies which it can fly in to the world's fourth strongest military power.

Still, it is one that will not occur to Britain's own Condeleeza, or rather the American Secretary of State's handmaid, Margaret Beckett. For her it is solely the Hezbollahi and their backers who are responsible for making war on poor little Israel. Beckett told Arab ambassadors shortly after she became Foreign Secretary that she knew nothing about the Middle East. At least she was not lying.

And now two items of good news, not from the mass media, naturally:
First from Brighton,
17th July 2006 Smash EDO - Press Release

EDO MBM Blockaded
Protesters Blockade Brighton Warmongers, EDO MBM, toPrevent Production of Weaponry for War Crimes in Gaza and Lebanon

In the early hours of Monday morning protesters erected two roadblocks outside each gate of EDO MBMTechnology Ltd preventing vehicle access to the factory. Activists locked themselves to barrels filled with cement in front of the gates.EDO MBM makes electrical weapons components for the Israeli military. Sarah Johnson, press spokeswoman for Smash EDO, said
'In the last weeks Israel has engaged in an illegal assault on the civilian population of Gaza and has now invaded Lebanon killing hundreds of Lebanese civilians. These are war crimes under international and English Law. Israel could not carry out these acts without the support of foreign corporations. EDO MBM is involved in the manufacture, supply and development of lethal weapons for use by the Israeli military. They are ancillary to Israel's war crimes and Paul Hills, the Managing Director of EDO MBM, should be arrested and prosecuted under the International Criminal Court Act 2001'.

Protesters hope to disrupt production of weapons which could be used in further war crimes. EDO MBM manufactures components to be incorporated into the Hellfire missile, which the Israeli army has recently used to attack the civilian population of Gaza. They have organised conferences on the development of UCAVs, unmanned aircraft which are widely used in aerial attacks on Gaza. EDO Corporation, of which EDO MBM Brighton is a wholly-owned trading unit, has a direct contract with the Israeli Navy who murdered 10 civilians on a beach near Beit Lahiya, Gaza, earlier this month.

Andrew Beckett, press spokesman for the campaign, said 'The current Israeli onslaught on Gaza and Lebanon is being conducted with the help of weaponry made in Brighton. Today's blockade is to show that we will not tolerate EDO MBM's continued presence in Brighton and Hove, a UN Peace Messenger City".

  • EDO MBM Technologies Ltd are the sole UK subsidiary of huge U.S arms conglomerate EDO Corp, which was recently named No. 10 in the Forbes list of 100 fastest growing companies. They supply bomb releasemechanisms to the US and UK armed forces amongst others. They supply crucial components for Raytheon's Paveway guided bomb system, widely used in the "Shockand Awe" campaign in Iraq.
  • Campaign against EDO MBM. People involved in the anti-EDO campaign include, but are not limited to: local residents, the Brighton Quakers, peace activists, anti-capitalists, Palestine Solidarity groups, human rights groups, trade unionists, academics and students. The campaign started in August 2004 with a peace camp. It's avowed aim is to expose EDO MBM and their complicity in war crimes and to remove them from Brighton.

Next, from England's south coast to the US West Coast.

San Francisco, July 17th—Yesterday, 18 members of Bay Area Jewish peace and justice organizations were arrested as they shut down the street outside the Israeli Consulate in downtown San Francisco.
This action was part of a larger demonstration of 500 people to protest the collective punishment of the Palestinian and Lebanese people and urge the government of Israel to take immediate action to avert both what the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies have called an "unprecedented" public health crisis and looming "disaster" and a potential regional war in the Middle East.

The action and demonstration were organized by Break the Silence Mural Project and Jews for a Free Palestine in collaboration with Jewish Voice for Peace. On July 8, 2006 United Nations Agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territory expressed their alarm at "developments on the ground, which have seen innocent civilians, including children, killed, brought increased misery to hundreds of thousands of people and which will wreak far-reaching harm on Palestinian society."

As a result of Israel’s economic strangulation and military attacks, the entire Gaza Strip is without electricity for 12-18 hours every day; people lack water, essential foodstuffs; and hospitals are on the verge of collapse.
Over 100 Palestinians in Gaza and 240 Lebanese have been killed by Israel’s recent attacks.

We condemn Israel’s escalation of the situation through the continued siege on Gaza and the wide-scale bombing of civilian targets in Lebanon that has sparked a war costing hundreds of civilian lives, and threatening a regional war that would further endanger millions living in the region.
The Israeli consulate was presented with the following demands:
End the Siege of Gaza and Completely Withdraw. Israeli leaders have acknowledged that the current military operations will neither secure the release of the kidnapped Israeli solder nor stop the rocket attacks on Israel. Israel must not only end its current invasion, but also abide by agreements to allow the 1.5 million people of Gaza passage for goods and people across the border, end the blockade, and allow freedom and self-determination for the people of Gaza as a step toward justice.
End Unilateral Action! Begin Real Negotiations for Peace and Justice: The Palestinian Authority has made it clear it is ready to negotiate the release of the Israeli soldier, and Gilad Shalit's own father has asked for halt to military operations and for negotiations. Yet in this situation like many others, Israel prefers a senseless, brutal policy of unilaterally imposing a "solution by force" on the Palestinian people.
Release all Palestinian Political Prisoners. Thousands of Palestinians are being held as "administrative detainees" imprisoned on false charges or without charge or trial, including hundreds of woman and children.
Release Palestinian Cabinet and Parliament Members. The arrest of half of the Palestinian government and a quarter of the Parliament is an assault on democracy that directly obstructs any path toward real peace and justice.
Stop the war on Lebanon! After refusing to negotiate the release of two captive soldiers, Israel has carried out massive bombing of Lebanese civilian targets, exposing a criminal indifference to the lives of the Lebanese people, the lives of the captive soldiers, and indeed the lives of the people of Israel. Israel's out-of-control display of military might is a clear violation of international law that threatens to lead to regional war that would put Palestinian, Lebanese, and Israeli lives at risk.
What you can do!
WRITE TO YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES to demand that the US government stop funding Israel's war crimes, act to achieve an immediate ceasefire, and pressure Israel to obey international law and UN resolutions on the Occupation and refugee situation. On July 18, 2006, the House of Representatives passed a resolution in full support of Israel, giving a green light to continue the siege on Gaza and Lebanon.
PLEASE EMAIL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and express your outrage:
SUPPORT PALESTINIANS PROTESTING THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION: Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (, Addameer Prisoners Support & Human Rights Association (
SUPPORT ISRAELIS protesting against their government's destructive actions: Gush Shalom (, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (
SUPPORT LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee ( or Middle East Children’s Alliance (

This morning when I logged in to my ISP - AOL as it happens - I was pleased to see its news led on the demonstrations taking place today in London and other British cities, as well as other countries, against Israeli war in Gaza and Lebanon. I took part in the London demonstration together with comrades from the Jewish Socialists' Group and friends in Jews for Justice for Palestinians. And the news item about the bomb supplies above illustrates why I cheered a speaker who said this war had been planned well ahead, and was "Made in America". With Blair's Britain as ever the accomplice.

This evening, checking my e-mails, I found one from a friend in Media Workers Against the War, pointing out that BBC news this morning gave a boost to a "solidarity with Israel" rally arranged tomorrow by the Israeli embassy and its stooges, but mentioned not a word about today's anti-war rally.

Media Workers Against the War requested people to complain to the BBC immediately:
Phone: 08700 100 222
Textphone: 08700 100 212

It has come to something when you get better treatment of news from America Online (whose record I might criticise another time) than from the supposedly reputable and independent British Broadcasting Corporation. Still, I must say I was not entirely surprised. Not only has the Beeb fallen into line with the Blair government's foreign policy, but judgeing from its choice of guest in recent days (interviewed with undue reverence) it might be changing its name from BBC to Bibi Netanyahu.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Peace protest in Israel, but Bush and Blair back war

The The


report below, taken from the Israeli online news service YNet, is about a peace demonstration in Tel Aviv, against Israeli action in Gaza and Lebanon. . Bush and Blair blame the war which Israeli is wageing on Lebanon on the resisters, and on Syria and Iran. Some peacemakers these!
They even oppose a cease fire!

The BBC sheds crocodile tears for Lebanese civilians, but toes the line. It barely mentioned what was happening to civilians under Israeli onslaught in Gaza, nor the possibity of negotiations over release of prisoners if the Israeli government had been interested. It has not reported suppression of peaceful demonstrations against the annexation Wall at Bil'in on the West Bank, and has not reported the Tel Aviv demonstration.

The cartoon shows US media learning the phrases to use. It could just as well have shown British media, which welcome figures like defeated right-wing politician Bibi Netanyahu - who boasted Israel "could wipe Gaza out", but won't mention voices like those below. My only criticism of this cartoon is that it shows the media learning from a Zionist dictionary. But I think the US and British imperialists need little education from the Zionists in hypocrisy and the misuse of language to conceal reality. Nor in the aggression it hides.

Left-wing rally: Negotiate with Hamas, Hizbullah
Some 1,000 people take part in march held in protest of Israeli operations in Lebanon, Gaza.
Demonstrators call on government to cease military actions, negotiate for release of hostages

Moran Rada

Some 1,000 protestors joined Sunday evening in a rally in Tel Aviv to protest the IDF strikes in Southern Lebanon. Police have arrested three of the protesters claiming they were holding a demonstration without a permit.
The protesters, who marched from Hen Boulevards toward King George Street, chanted slogans such as "Olmert agreed with Bush: War and occupation." "Stop the war monstrosity," and "Say no to the brutal bombardments on Gaza." They also accused Defense Minister Amir Peretz of murdering children in Gaza, and recited: "Peretz, don't worry, we'll be seeing you at The Hague."
Rally in Tel Aviv. 'No to brutal bombardments'

"They keep telling us that there is a consensus in support of the war, and that's not true. They keep telling the citizens that this is the only way, and I think that there is another way," said Abeer Kopty of Mossawa, The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel.

The organizations Ta'ayush, Yesh Gvul, The Women's Coalition for Peace and other left-wing groups have joined forces "to voice a different opinion against the war and in favor of negotiations," she explained.

'Israel is overreacting'

Eitan Lerner, who took part in the rally, said: "Israel is entering another cycle of fighting and continues the foolishness of exaggerated aggression. I came here to protest because there's a link between starving and oppressing the Palestinians and the bombings in Lebanon."
"It's true that what Hizbullah did was unacceptable, but Israel is overreacting. Since when is the entire population to blame for all this?" he asked.
Rela Mazali from the New Profile organization explained: "This is a stupid, unnecessary and evil war. Our leaders could have prevented it. eventually the hostages will be released through negotiations, but hundreds will be killed along the way in Lebanon, and I don't know how many will die here. I think that we must make our voice heard."
Manal Amuri from Jerusalem called on the Israeli government to hold talks with Hamas and Hizbullah. "The Israeli aggression leads to an overall war no one wants. I think that Israel should negotiate with Hizbullah and Hamas and release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the hostages. This way this story will come to an end."
"What Israel is doing now resulted in the death of civilians, innocent children, and it serves no purpose except for the government's vindictiveness. I think it's good we're showing that there are Arab and Jewish citizens in Israel who oppose the war."

Protesting against 'second Lebanon war'

MK Dov Hanin of Hadash told Ynet: "We are protesting against the second Lebanon war. The war is a disaster for Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese. We call for the secession of this war, for the secession of harm to Israeli and Lebanese civilians, we demand an immediate ceasefire and the commencement of negotiations which is the only alternative to a catastrophic regional deterioration."

To the question that no minister has expressed opposition to the war he said: "Also during the 1982 Lebanon war Hadash was the only one that opposed the war from day one and also in the second Lebanon war. I am sure that opposition to the war will swiftly intensify."

"I regret that Amir Peretz has stepped into the shoes of Mofaz; I regret that no member of the Labor and Meretz parties voiced opposition to the war."

Noa Levi of Tel Aviv said: "The choice of whether to escalate the situation or not is in our hands and the question of saving lives or not is also in our hands…there is no military solution. Only negotiations."
Lavi Zeitner supported her position: "I am not for violence, not for Hizbullah. But also not for bombarding a whole country."

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Back to Suez? Tony B-liar toes Israel war line

AS anti-war demonstrators gather for a march in Tel Aviv, and two British warships head for Beirut, British prime minister Tony Blair has lined up his government behind Ehud Olmert's war on the Palestinians and Lebanon.

Speaking after talks with US president George Bush, and on a day when Israeli air strikes left 35 civilians dead, Blair blamed Iran and Syria for the latest flare-up.

"According to witnesses and photographs from the scene of the worst incident, an Israeli missile incinerated a car and a small truck full of families leaving their Lebanese border village of Marwaheen near Tyre after the Israeli army used loudhailers to tell residents they had just hours to go. Pictures showed charred bodies of children strewn across the road".
(Children die in convoy attack as Israel widens Lebanon assault, The Observer, July 18, 2006),,1821706,00.html

Promising that he and Bush would try to bring other leaders behind "a common and unified position" on the Middle East crisis in their talks at the G8 summit, Blair told reporters: "Sometimes there's been a hesitation in putting the real truth of the situation up there in front of people."

The idea that Blair wants to tell the truth must cause gasps, if not ribald laughter, not least in Britain. This is the prime minister who used a dodgy dossier of cooked-up "evidence" to con his country and parliament into going to war on Iraq by Bush's side. The head of a government, members of whose armed forces were caught in Basra, disguised in Arab clothes with explosives and detonators, clearly bent on carrying out a terrorist attack against civilians with the aim of provoking sectarian war. The prime minister who broke the BBC's claims to independence and has whipped its commentators into line.

Blair is also the prime minister whose special Middle East envoy is currently unavailable for diplomatic missions, due to his arrest and bail in connection with police investigations concerning his other job, raising New Labour funds.
To shake off its historic link with the trade unions, Blair's Labour turned to wealthy businessmen, who were promised the prime minister's ear and more in return for cash. To avoid declaring the donations they were made as "loans".

Labour's Treasurer Jack Dromey said he knew nothing about what went on. His partner Harriet Harman quit the committe on House of Lords reform. Many people say it wasn't just honours, but policy decisions, that were obtained in return for donations. After the arrest and questioning of Lord Levy, the prime minister himself could be "helping police with their enquiries" when he gets back from St.Petersburg.

The truth? Tony Blair would not know it if it bit him in the ass.

This war in the Middle East has been in preparation some time. Israelis, including the father of Corporal Gilad Shalit, the soldier captured in the Gaza raid, have said that their government could negotiate the release of prisoners if it wanted to, but the military used the incidents to launch its pre-planned war strikes.

War veteran, former Knesset member and peace campaigner Uri Avnery says: "THE REAL aim is to change the regime in Lebanon and to install a puppet government.That was the aim of Ariel Sharon's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It failed. But Sharon and his pupils in the military and political leadership have never really given up on it.As in 1982, the present operation, too, was planned and is being carried out in full coordination with the US".

But the US war aim, as already voiced by neo-cons before this started, and for which the pro-war US and British media are preparing people, is for Israel to spearhead a war against Syria and Iran. Tony Blair is doing his bit.

Fifty years ago the British and French governments conspired with Israel to wage war against Egypt, to punish the Egyptian people for supporting the Algerian liberation war and nationalising the Suez Canal. The Israeli government had its own aims, claiming it was acting to stop Palestinian fedayeen raids and Egypt had threatened war. But Ben Gurion knew that Nasser had earlier offered peace talks, and Israel had OKayed secret negotiations (involving among others British Labour MP Maurice Orbach), only to pull the rug from under their feet as it went ahead with its allies making war.

In those days, British Prime Minister Eden pretended he was intervening to separate the two belligerents. To facilitate this hypocrisy, Israeli diplomat Abba Eban even had to perform gymnastics at the UN, agreeing then rejecting a cease fire, to give the British invasion force more time. In those days, too, not only did Khruschev threaten the British and French alliance, but the US administration used economic pressure to pull Eden back. The war aim of toppling Nasser failed, and instead it was Eden who fell.

Nowadays, without the Soviet Union to worry about, America feels pretty well free to do as it pleases with the Arab world, especially if it can use Britain and Israel to do its dirty work. The only thing you can say about Blair is that he does not pretend as Eden did that Britain is neutral between Israel and the Arab peoples. In fact, as we saw with the Jericho operation, the British government under Blair is backing the most aggressive actions by Israel, and Labour is far less willing to criticise the Olmert government's policies than many Israelis would.

It is time to put the truth in front of people, as Tony Blair says. The truth that if you want a just peace in the Middle East, an end to brutal repression and freedom for the Palestinian people, the Blair government is on the other side. Say it loud and clear - IT IS TIME FOR BLAIR TO GO!

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Israel goes to war, and Levy goes . . . on bail

WHILE a bunch of us were out demonstrating in Whitehall last night, demanding that the British government condemn Israeli actions in Gaza instead of effectively backing them, two new developments happened.

First, responding ostensibly to an attack on its forces by Hezbollahi guerrillas, aimed at showing solidarity with the Palestinians, Israel opened a new war front by bombing Lebanon, and sending tanks over the border. Some 22 people were killed, including one entire family of 12. This brought further Hezbollah retaliation, with katyusha rockets fired into northern Israel, killing one woman in Nahariya, and wounding 12 family members.

The Israeli offensive is not being limited to supposed "Hezbollah targets". They have bombed Beirut international airport and are attacking electric power installations, and threatening a naval blockade. Not content with Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, both Israeli and United States government spokespersons have blamed the Syrian government for sheltering Hizbollah and Hamas.

The onslaught on little Lebanon could be aimed at pulling Syria into the war so as to launch the march on Damascus for which American neo-cons, learning nothing from the bloody mess in Iraq, have been openly calling. If the British government has appeared so feeble in refraining from criticising Israel's brutal and inhuman war on the Palestinians in Gaza, it could be because it is in on the bigger conspiracy, just as it must have been on the earlier Israeli raid on Jericho (when British officers supposedly overseeing the Jericho prison were suddenly withdrawn less than half an hour before Israeli troops stormed the building and abducted Palestinians they wanted).

The latest escalation must also shed harsh light on the European Union's acquiescence if not complicity with US-Israeli policy, whether by witholding funds from the Palestine authority, maintaining Israel's privileged trade status despite breaches of EU rules, or remaining silent over recent Israeli actions, including the seizure and detention of the vice president of the Euro-Med assembly. France has long claimed an interest in Lebanon, its ex-colonial protege. This may not have been much use when needed, but last year the French government joined the US in declaring its sympathy with the Lebanese people over the assassination of ex-president Rafik Hariri, and pressing for Syrian withdrawal. Now Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz says he will "bomb Lebanon back twenty years". What will France, and the EU, do to stop the Israelis?

The second piece of news was that in the course of their investigations into Britain's loans-for-peerages affair, Scotland Yard have arrested and bailed Tony Blair's top fundraiser, Lord Levy, a former pop music promoter whom he made his Middle East envoy, despatched on several missions to Arab states, including Syria. With no known background in either international politics or diplomacy, except some links with the Israeli Labour Party (whose leader now heads the Israeli Defence Ministry), Lord Levy's role aroused suspicion not just among Arab regimes but in the Foreign Office. Robin Cook had no time for him, it is said, but it was Cook who went not Lord Levy.

It makes me think of Harold Wilson's coterie, his private fund and the so-called "lavender list" for honours. Only, reversing the famous aphorism about history repeating itself as farce following tragedy, this is serious.

Fellow-blogger Dave Osler was one of the first journalists to look at Blair's rich associates and how they funded the New Labour project in his book "Labour Party plc", from which he has provided extracts on line at Dave's" Part: Taking it on trust, part one
Dave's Part: Taking it on trust, part two:

Dave has been invited to record and interview for BBC News at Ten tonight, and for Channel Four. (and here's me just hoping my letter has made it into the Camden New Journal). I'll leave you with what his book said about Lord Levy's Middle East missions: "In a region perpetually on the brink of war, we need to hope that the man who brought Alvin Stardust to the nation's youth can now save us all from Armageddon."

Frightening, isn't it?

PS - For admirers of British freedom. We were not allowed to demonstrate outside the Foreign Office last night. Furthermore, police are saying they now require at least six days notice of demonstrations in central London. We had an impromptu public meeting in Whitehall at 18.00, (with speakers including Jeremy Corbyn MP, Stop the War's Lindsey German, and Dan Judelson from European Jews for Just Peace, but I could hardly hear the speakers above the rush-hour traffic, since we were not allowed to use any amplification, even loudhailers. (Some people have been charged with using these on the demonstration on May 20) Israeli prime minister Olmert has sent his aircraft nightly making sonic booms saying "none shall sleep in Gaza", whereas Tony Blair is determined none shall disturb the slumber of Westminster.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mumbai: murderers target working people

MUMBAI, 2003. Woman wounded in blast which killed 11 on train. City has suffered series of such attacks.

WHOEVER was behind the train bombings around Mumbai, which have so far killed 190 people and injured hundreds more, we should not hesitate in identifying their target.

Those killed on crowded commuter trains were for the most part, inevitably, ordinary working people trying to get home. The killers would have known this. This was no accidental "collateral damage". The victims were the target.

Mumbai has suffered a whole series of murderous attacks. It is India's biggest western-facing port, a centre of commerce and industry. As such, it is a centre also of modernity, where people from different communities work and intermingle, and of the secular, educated outlook that is hated by reactionaries of every background.

Whatever group was used to carry out the well-planned operation, this has nothing to do with liberating Kashmir, which is not just occupied by Indian troops but partly by Pakistan forces too, a victim of partition. The enemies of Kashmiri freedom are not ordinary working people. But some of the gangs sent into Kashmir with past connivance, if not backing, from elements within the Pakistani state, are not fighting for freedom.

They are not interested in uniting Kashmiris against foreign rule. Quite the opposite. They are waging sectarian communal war on Kashmiris.
As Awaaz South Asia Watch reported, as many as thirty five Hindus were rounded up from their homes and killed on April 30 and 1 May in the Doda and Udhampur districts of Jammu and Kashmir. "In the past fifteen years more than 90 per cent of Kashmiri Hindus who lived in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley have fled their homes for fear of attack and are living as refugees in the lowlands and in India's cities. Several armed groups, including the Harakat-ul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e Tayyiba have been implicated in attacks on civilians in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu. Both these organizations have been fostered or sponsored by sections of the Pakistani state".

The Indian and Pakistani governments, having brandished their nuclear weapons - acquired with resources that could have helped poor people throughout the sub-continent - have been moving towards better relations, as both step under the umbrella of alliance with US imperialism. But it suits powerful right-wing politicians and people in the military-security establishments that people should be divided, and young people's unrest channeled into violent communal thuggery.

In India we have the BJP and its offshoots, with state ministers who have been implicated in anti-Muslim pogroms. More recently there have been attacks on lower-caste people and Christians. In Pakistan, whatever powers they give themselves for "the war on terror", the authorities have found it conveniant to keep a blind eye to the use of some madrassas as covers for terrorist recuitment and indoctrination. Nor should we forget that when a Pakistani journalist fled to Britain after exposing the madrassas, the British Home Office deported him back to Pakistan.

The Mumbai train bombings were not some ill-thought action by amateurs. They were well-planned and deliberate. Having killed so many innocent people, from all community backgrounds, they will be used by reactionary political leaders in India to incite more hatred, demand more repressive policies in Kashmir, and encourage more violence against Indian Muslims.

We can only assume that this too is deliberate.

The partition of India in 1947 was a reactionary project which brought death and suffering to millions of people. Those who try to perpetuate and deepen divisions are enemies of the people in Pakistan, Kashmir and India. Freedom, unity and progress, not only for Kashmir but the rest of the peoples in the sub-continent, will be attained in a free and secular democratic South Asian Federation.