Saturday, December 29, 2012

Does SPD spell "Stupid"? Planting Trees to Displace People.

AGAINST demolition of Bedouin homes in Negev. Does Germany's Social Democrat party want to help bury the evidence? 

What is the German Social-Democratic party (SPD) thinking of? When the Israeli government, fresh from its Gaza war, is holding up two fingers to the UN, never mind the Palestinians, by expanding West Bank settlements, and evicting Palestinians both in Jerusalem and the Negev, the German party has come up with its own contribution to the problem.

It is raising funds for a forest, the German States Forest, being planted on land taken from the Bedouin.

Allow me to confess an interest.  Somewhere in Israel there are seven trees planted in my name back in my misspent youth as a Zionist. It started when I was about twelve and we were given collecting cards at school, on which to stick stamps showing the transformation of the Huleh valley from swamp to fertile land (a scheme which has since been criticised by some environmentalists). Then there were the bob a job weeks, going errands and gardening, the expeditions to collect Jewish National Fund(JNF) blue box contributions, and the day spent with chaverim(comrades) clearing hedges on a farm in Sussex, when we carried on working in torrential rain. All proceeds to the JNF for planting trees in the hills around Jerusalem.

In those days it fitted our idealism to see all this as positive work, helping develop a country and settle it. It didn't occur to us that one people were being settled to displace others. I doubt if we knew about the JNF's rules discriminating as to who could live and work on "national" land, or whether we'd have thought about it.

Nowadays the Zionist state is not only fully established (with much of what then was public or co-operative economy privatised), but it has maintained an occupation for 45 years, planting settlers to consolidate its grip on Palestinian territory, and with the participation of the JNF it is taking land from the Negev Bedouin. All that stuff we used to take pride in about planting trees and "making the desert blossom as a rose" echoes a bit sick when we see bulldozers ripping up olive groves or wrecking homes, and hear about Bedouin crops being destroyed.

The old Zionist slogan was "A Land without People, for a People without a Land". That long ago became an obsolete fantasy when it became clear that the land came with people. The strategy then became to separate the two. At al Arakib in the Negev the bulldozers have been backward and forward over 14 times, destroying Bedouin homes.  Each time the Bedouin came back to rebuild anew. You may say that is stubborness. They might prefer to say steadfastness, samed.            

As for what the Social Democrat Party is doing in placing itself behind the ethnic cleansers, the word might be "stupid", whatever misguided and anachronistic historical and moral motives might have led them to this.

The Negev Co-existence Forum for Civil Equality, formed by Arab and Jewish citizens living in the Negev area has called on the SPD to withdraw from this project. A statement on the Forum's website says:

The German Social-Democratic party (SPD) published a call for donations for trees planting in the German States Forest last week. The German States Forest is located in the Israeli Negev, and it was planted on lands of Bedouin citizens of the country. Negev Coexistence Forum wrote a letter to the party’s members, urging them to stop the donations project, and explaining the complex reality in the Negev. In addition, NCF produced a video in cooperation with Dr. Awad Abu Freich, one of the owners of the lands where the forest is planted. In the video, Dr. Abu Freich describes the injustice caused to his family and to him, as a result of the planting of the German States Forest, and explains how expulsion of Bedouin from their land is being done through practices of forestation.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Veolia Withdraws

(From North London bid, not yet from West Bank)

IT was like a surprise Xmas present - a piece of Yuletide cheer delivered in an official announcement from the North London Waste Authority, and dated December 21, 2012:      

"The North London Waste Authority has received notification from Veolia Environmental Services that they will not be submitting final tenders for either NLWA’s waste services or fuel use contracts. Veolia had been shortlisted for both contracts and, in withdrawing, Veolia has confirmed that the decision has no bearing on the quality and integrity of the projects".

The statement went on to say more about the £4.5 billion contracts, but that first par was enough to bring joy to campaigners who wanted Veolia kept out, because of the French-based company's involvment in running a transport service linking Israeli settlements encircling East Jerusalem, and more recent reports on its use of toxic landfill sites in the occupied Jordan valley.

The issue of landfill sites and toxic waste was raised by B'Tselem, the civil rights group in Israel,in a report in 2009, and by Camden-Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA) in north London.  .  

In September 2011 the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace weote directly to London local councillors urging that Veolia be excluded from the bidding. The peace women warned that Veolia's profitable activties in the Occupied West Bank were contributing to a violation of human rights by strengthening illegal settlements, and thereby helping to obstruct any real peace process.

More recently Professor Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories produced a report in which Veolia was singled out for critiism.

Members of organisations like the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the No To Veolia Action Group (No2VAG) have been campaigning against Veolia’s bid, speaking to trades union and other bodies and doing their best to make sure councillors could not claim ignorance when making their decision.

Yael Kahn, chair of No2VAG said, “Our strategy to force councillors to seriously consider and publicly debate the issues at stake and the further actions planned No2VAG played a critical role in achieving our aim of eliminating Veolia from the NLWA procurement process.”

Not content with making the moral case against Veolia, No2VAG went into the technical critique, as Yael explains:
Part of our strategy to block Veolia's bids was to expose the financial & technical failings of its proposals, such as that it wasn't cost effective and worse for the environment: our engineer and No2VAG secretary, Rob Langlands, showed Veolia's solution wasn't actually CHP [Combine Heat and Power], in spite of misleading claims by Veolia and the NLWA. Similarly, we also informed the media, councillors and Council Leaders of the shortfalls of the NLWA project itself. We raised issues such as that the cost per tonne was to triple for a solution not a lot different than the existing one and that the total wast arisings [tonnage of waste] was over inflated. Indeed the secrecy shrouding the project has recently started to be questioned and more importantly the actual premise of the project.

The response from councils varied.

In Hackney, a Labour councillor had wanted to introduce a deputation on Veolia, and the council's lawyers said this was acceptable. Caroline Day of the No2 Veolia campaign had been due to address the councillors. But on November 21, Hackney council voted not to receive the deputation. The blocking motion was poposed by Linda Kelly, a former Labour councillor who defected to the Tories.  It received support from Mayor Jules Pipe who said "Hackney Council does not have a foreign policy."

But reports in the Hackney Gazette and the Jewish Chronicle say Hackney councillor Luke Akehurst, director of campaigns at "We Believe in Israel", an offshoot of the professional lobby group BICOM, was "instrumental" in getting the deputation blocked, and that David Lewis, secretary and treasurer of UK Lawyers for Israel, helped Cllr.Kelly draft her blocking motion.

“We didn’t want the deputation to be heard by the council if we could find a way of preventing it,” David Lewis said. “We are there to defend Israel against demonisation and consider the No2Veolia campaign as part of the demonisation exercise.”

Cllr.Kelly's motion was supported by Tories, Lib Dems and most Labour councillors. The party whips were on, and only two Labour councillors abstained.

It was a different story in Waltham Forest on December 13, where Irfan Akhtar of Waltham Forest Council of Mosques and the No to Veolia campaign was allowed to address the council meeting and make the case against hiring Veolia. Although Irfan only had three minutes to speak, he was also able to present a petition signed by 4,000 residents.

The North London Waste Authority covers the boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest.

Veolia's withdrawal was announced a year to the day after it failed to make the shortlist for the West London Waste Authority 25 years residual waste management contract covering the boroughs of Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Ealing, Richmond and Brent. It cannot be said with certainty that Veolia's operations in the West Bank influenced that decision, as the company was under criticism in some of these boroughs on other grounds.

Nevertheless we learned that more than 600 residents had written to the West London Waste Authority expressing concern at Veolia and human rights, and I'm pleased to say Brent trades union council lent its support to the campaign.

This year I joined a picket on Camden town hall on December 10, Human Rights Day, at the invitation of No2VAG and the Camden-Abu Dis Friendship Association, to oppose expanding settlements and occupation. We distributed leaflets against Veolia's waste bid and collected signatures from passers by, and I also sold a few Jewish Socialist magazines while I was there. An aggressive young Zionist gentleman who came along to accuse us of being "antisemites" and supporters of Hamas eventually got frustrated and started shouting that we were "terrorists" before being escorted away by police while we completed our work.

Just thought I'd mention my part in thwarting the French multinational, for those of you who think I only sit at my keyboard sounding off these days, and for a Mr.Scott Rickard, whom I'm told has me listed as an "Israeli hasbaranik" (propagandist) for some reason.  I've no idea who Mr.Rickard is or where he gets his disinformation, though I see Press TV cites him as a "former US intelligence linguist". His list appears to have been removed from Facebook or rendered inaccessible, but before I heard I was on it I was told that several friends with impeccably pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist credentials were listed before me, so I would not dream of asking for my name to be removed.

Besides, I am already on the meshuggana Zionists Massada list of terrorist enemies of Israel, and I believe the US-hosted Redwatch site run by British Nazis also has me listed quite accurately as a Jewish Red and union militant, so why should I worry about making it onto another list?  It's the nearest we plebs get to being in Who's Who, and while the nutters are busy compiling their lists they are not doing anything else.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

UDM Charity Ended at Home

NEIL GREATREX, gone to jail and told to pay, alas DAVID HART, gone away 
AFTER Jimmy Saville, another "idol" of the Thatcher years, and this a live one though less popular, who has crashed down. Neil Greatrex might not have been a Christmas guest at Checqers, but as leader of the breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers(UDM), he served Thatcher's crusade by championing strikebreaking in the Nottinghamshire coalfield.

Instead, Greatrex became a guest of Her Majesty earlier this year when he was convicted for stealing funds that had been supposed to go to a retired miners' care home. 

This week the former UDM leader was ordered to pay back the £148,628 he stole from charity. He has been given 28 days to pay it back or face a further three years in prison.
The Charity Commission welcomed the order and sai it would serve as a warning to others.

In April, Greatrex was jailed for four years for stealing from the Nottinghamshire Miners Charity, of which he was a trustee. The charity ran a care home in Lincolnshire for sick and elderly miners.
Between 2000 and 2006 diverted £148,628 to two building companies and a joiner for work that was never done at the home. Instead it paid for items such as granite worktops and a pool for koi carp at Greatrex's own home.

Greatrex claimed in court that the diveretd funds were in lieiu of salary, though it had emerged in 2004 that he and a fellow officer were receiving salary packages worth £150,000 while leading a union with only 1,431 members.

The total amount he is now ordered to pay is £201,327.51, adjusted for inflation and including costs.
Michelle Russell, the Charity Commission's head of investigations and enforcement, said: "Stealing from a charity of money that's intended for people who really need it is a pretty awful crime.
"We are obviously really pleased that some of that money will be recouped and go back to where it was intended to be spent."

The commission said the money would either be returned to the charity or its beneficiaries or other charities. The order was made under the Proceeds of Crime Act at Birmingham Crown Court.

It might be interesting to compare the amount of coverage this affair gets with the way the media - and not least the supposedly Labour-supporting Daily Mirror hounded Arthur Scargill and the National Union of Mineworkers over phoney allegations of funds misuse during the miners' strike. (Admittedly for the Mirror this may have reflected attention away from what its then owner, Robert Maxwell was up to financially).
Perhaps now that Neil Greatrex is in serious difficulty some of the UDM's old backers could get together and have a whip round? One of the UDM's most helpful funders, if not inspirers, was the shady billionaire friend of Thatcher, David Hart, who provided not just funds but former SAS personnel to protect strikebreaking miners.

Two years after the strike Hart  formed the Campaign for a Free Britain,[1]  with backing from Rupert Murdoch, and in 1993 he was appointed an adviser to Malcolm Rifkind as Defence Minister, a post he kept when Michael Portillo replaced Rifkind. He went on to be implicated in various intrigues at home and abroad, and undertook lobbying for Boeing and BAE. A report in the Guardian in 2007 alleged Hart had received £13 million in secret payments from BAE via an anonymous company registed in the Virgin Islands. 

Unfortunately for Greatrex, the UDM's past backer, who could surely have helped pay for the ornamental fishpond and other extras, died a year ago.  But you'd think his associates in big business and the secret state would be willing to step up to the plate and help poor Greatrex out. Or maybe not. These are hard times, and the government is attaching importance to us placing our trust in charity.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From Special Branch to Special Brew, Special Courts and Rendition

NO LONGER A TEAM, but testimony from MI5 whistleblowers Annie Machon and David Schayler, seen here in happier times, should not be discarded.  

MENTION of Consulting Association blacklister and snoop Ian Kerr, who has just died when he might have been called to give more evidence about his activities and the companies he served, has brought to mind the bigger picture of surveillance, of which Kerr's business formed a part. What were his relations, and those of the Economic League before him, with the Secret State which we pay to watch over us?

MPs have been discussing the Justice and Security Bill, which is supposed to provide for oversight of the intelligence and security services, but actually provides among other things for secret courts where the spooks would be able to present their case against you, while like Kafka's hero in "The Trial" you would be kept in the dark as to what you were accused of, and of the evidence given against you. 

From what I saw of today's debate some backbench Tory MPs showed more concern about the danger to civil liberties than leading Labourite and former Home (and later Foreign) Secretary Jack Straw, even though he was once on MI5's files himself from his supposedly left-wing student union days. We did get challenges to the authority of the secret state from the decent duo Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, and SDLP MP Mark Durkan from Foyle recalled how Tony Blair tried to buy off his opposition by offering committee places. 

With fewer than 20 members in the chamber it seemed as if issues like secret courts, extraordinary rendition and oversight of security and intelligence services are not that important to MPs, though among those batting for the Establishment were Straw and former Tory Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, appointed chair of the Security and Intelligence Committee by David Cameron in 2010, and due to hold this post for the duration of this parliament. 

Just as well these two were there in case anybody talked about them in their absence. Straw is at the centre of accusations over rendition to Libya which have led to a million pound payout to save MI6 agents appearing in court. Further back when British intelligence was plotting with al Qaida and Libyan dissidents to assassinate Gaddaffi, Malcolm Rifkind says he knew nothing about the conspiracy.

We are supposed to believe the security services and special powers they are seeking are only there to protect us from terrorists, but  as former MI5 officer Annie Machon observes, "We are already see­ing a slide towards expand­ing the defin­i­tion of “ter­ror­ist” to include “domestic extrem­ists”, act­iv­ists, single issue cam­paign­ers et al,..."

Back in the Cold War years the bogey was Soviet spying and subversion, and not all the tales were untrue, but as Machon says in her book "Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers", the criteria set out by Home Sec­ret­ary David Maxwell-Fyfe in 1952 could be widened. "He called on the ser­vices to identify any indi­vidual engaged in under­min­ing Par­lia­ment­ary demo­cracy, national secur­ity and/or the eco­nomic well-being of the UK by viol­ent, indus­trial or polit­ical means.  In fact, many would argue that groups who used only polit­ical means to get their point across were merely exer­cising their democratic rights".

"In fact, MI5 devoted such sig­ni­fic­ant resources to sub­vers­ive groups from the 1940s to 1993, when sub­ver­sion was finally down­graded, that F2 claimed to know more about the fin­ances of the Com­mun­ist Party of Great Bri­tain (CPGB) than the Party did itself!  In communism’s hey­day from the 1950s to the 1970s, around 60 desk officers – each with a num­ber of sup­port staff – spied on the CPGB alone, although F Branch had dwindled to around nine or ten desk officers and agent run­ners, plus around 20–30 sup­port and sec­ret­arial staff by the time I arrived in 1991. 

"In Feb­ru­ary 1991 I joined F2.  The sec­tion was tucked away in a little-known MI5 build­ing in Bolton Street, May­fair.  The office was a clas­sic, run-down civil ser­vice affair, with battered old wooden desks, lime green wall paint and thread­bare car­pets.  The sec­tion when I joined had no com­puter sys­tem; all its records were on paper, a fact which sur­prised me, as eas­ily access­ible inform­a­tion is essen­tial to an intel­li­gence ser­vice. "  (but also subject to the Data Protection Act -RP) 

"My ‘job title’ was F2B/5, and I was in charge of a small team invest­ig­at­ing the SWP.  David joined F Branch a year later as F2C/7, to study anarch­ists, com­mun­ists and extreme right-wingers.  David and I met in F2 but we didn’t start going out with each other until spring 1993.  Our eyes met across a crowded oper­a­tions room, he always likes to joke.

"Des­pite my assess­ments, senior man­age­ment in F2 ensured that the SWP assumed an increas­ingly prom­in­ent role in the work of the branch.  MI5 man­age­ment unre­mit­tingly applied pres­sure to me to beef up the case for the study of the SWP, par­tic­u­larly after its (legit­im­ate) sup­port for a num­ber of indus­trial dis­putes in the early nineties, which of course posed no threat to national secur­ity or Par­lia­ment­ary demo­cracy.  Des­pite the pres­sure, I still suc­ceeded in ter­min­at­ing the last remain­ing tele­phone tap tar­geted against an indi­vidual sub­vers­ive in the UK – Tony Cliff, the SWP’s founder – and drastic­ally redu­cing the num­ber of agents who for dec­ades had been run against the SWP at great cost to the tax­payer.  How­ever, senior man­agers still insisted that a tele­phone tap stay in place on the party’s HQ.

Even then, F2 policy dic­tated that any indi­vidual who atten­ded six or more meet­ings of the Social­ist Work­ers’ Party was record­able as a ‘mem­ber: Trot­sky­ist organ­isa­tion’, even where the ser­vice knew that many indi­vidu­als atten­ded these meet­ings to protest against spe­cific issues such as the NHS cuts or the poll tax, sub­jects of legit­im­ate dissent.


"F2, being tucked away in the little-known MI5 build­ing on Bolton Street off Pic­ca­dilly, was a relaxed sec­tion, with quite an esprit de corps.  Con­sequently, dur­ing our time there David and I either per­son­ally reviewed or were shown by our col­leagues the fol­low­ing PFs.  Few of those lis­ted actu­ally belong or belonged to sub­vers­ive organ­isa­tions.  Accord­ing to MI5, they have or had ‘sym­path­ies’ with these or other groups and are there­fore worthy of MI5 investigation:

"John Len­non, Jack Straw MP, Ted Heath MP, Tam Dalyell MP, Gareth Peirce (soli­citor), Jeremy Corbyn MP, Mike Mans­field (bar­ris­ter), Geof­frey Robertson (bar­ris­ter), Patri­cia Hewitt MP, Har­riet Har­man MP,  Garry Bushell (journ­al­ist), Peter Man­del­son (European com­mis­sioner), Peter Hain MP, Clare Short MP, Mark Thomas (comedian), Mo Mow­lam (politi­cian), Arthur Scar­gill (NUM leader, who fam­ously had his own record­ing cat­egory: unaf­fili­ated sub­vers­ive), Neil Kin­nock (politi­cian), Bruce Kent (peace cam­paigner, )Joan Rud­dock MP, Owen Oyston (busi­ness­man), Cherie Booth aka Blair, Tony Blair MP, David Steel (politi­cian), Teddy Taylor MP, Ron­nie Scott (jazz musi­cian), Robin Cook MP, John Prescott MP, Mark Steel (comedian), Jack Cun­ning­ham MP, Mohammed Al Fayed (busi­ness­man), Mick McGa­hey (former union leader), Ken Gill (former union leader), Michael Foot (politi­cian), Jack Jones (former union leader), Ray Bux­ton (former union leader), Hugh Scan­lon (former union leader), Har­old Wilson (politi­cian), James Callaghan (politi­cian), Richard Norton-Taylor (Guard­ian journalist).

"David and I also came across a file called: ‘Sub­ver­sion in con­tem­por­ary music’, which con­sisted of press clip­pings about Crass, then a well-known, self-styled ‘anarch­ist’ band; the Sex Pis­tols; and, rather sur­pris­ingly, UB40. ...

"The ‘sub­ver­sion’ of cab­inet min­is­ters Har­riet Har­man and Patri­cia Hewitt was to have been lead­ing mem­bers of the National Coun­cil for Civil Liber­ties (NCCL — now Liberty), the very organ­isa­tion designed to pro­tect us from such unwar­ran­ted abuses of our liber­ties.  At one point, David came across a series of minutes on a file dat­ing from the early 1980s.  They were writ­ten by Charles Elwell, a pub­licly named and notori­ously para­noid former head of F2 who saw a red under every bed, and who had suc­cess­fully argued that mem­bers of the exec­ut­ive of the NCCL were record­able as ‘sus­pec­ted sym­path­iser: Com­mun­ist’, simply for being mem­bers of the exec­ut­ive.  He based this assump­tion on the fact that, as one or two lead­ing mem­bers of the NCCL had Com­mun­ist sym­path­ies, the organ­isa­tion was there­fore by defin­i­tion a Com­mun­ist front organisation. 

"This went bey­ond MI5’s own rules.  It jus­ti­fied its work against legit­im­ate non-subversive organ­isa­tions such as trade uni­ons, CND, the NCCL and the Green­ham Com­mon women by say­ing that it was not invest­ig­at­ing these organ­isa­tions or their mem­bers per se but was invest­ig­at­ing sub­vers­ive pen­et­ra­tion of these groups. 

"As a res­ult, MI5 gathered ten thick volumes on both the Green­ham women and the Cam­paign for Nuc­lear Dis­arm­a­ment.  Inev­it­ably, as a res­ult of this, F2 gathered per­sonal inform­a­tion on and details of legit­im­ate polit­ical act­iv­ists, which were passed to min­is­ters in offi­cial Secur­ity Ser­vice reports – then known as Box 500 reports — under the guise of reveal­ing sub­vers­ive pen­et­ra­tion of these organ­isa­tions.  The ser­vice also had a his­tory of gath­er­ing inform­a­tion on trade union activ­ity and indus­trial dis­putes on the same basis.  How­ever, it again went bey­ond a strict study of sub­vers­ive activ­ity, and passed inform­a­tion relat­ing to legit­im­ate indus­trial protest to min­is­ters and the police.

"The decision regard­ing the Exec­ut­ive of the NCCL meant that MI5 could invest­ig­ate an indi­vidual — that means tap their phones, fol­low their move­ments, break into their houses, place a bug in their homes — simply for being a mem­ber of the Exec­ut­ive of the NCCL, without hav­ing to estab­lish any other con­nec­tions to com­mun­ism.  This was clearly a breach of demo­cratic rights. 

"David’s main area of respons­ib­il­ity in F2 was for the anarch­ist group Class War and the rump of the Com­mun­ist Party, which had decided to plug on with Marxism-Leninism, after the rest of the CPGB had renounced it and become the Demo­cratic Left.  He was sur­prised that MI5 still devoted such extens­ive resources to these groups.  Dur­ing recruit­ment, he had been told that MI5 was no longer look­ing in any great depth at sub­vers­ives.  MI5 lore had it that the study of Class War was beefed up in the wake of the Poll Tax riot in Lon­don in 1990, after the group’s posters and ban­ners were seen on the news cov­er­age.  How­ever, accord­ing to Spe­cial Branch officers, the viol­ence in Tra­fal­gar Square had star­ted when front-line anti-riot police had lost con­trol and turned on the demonstrators.

"By early 1992, Class War was a dis­or­gan­ised col­lec­tion of around 200 anarch­ist indi­vidu­als.  As such, it posed no real threat to Par­lia­ment­ary demo­cracy or national secur­ity.  F2 had no phone inter­cept on Class War because it did not have an HQ.  How­ever, the author­it­ies did devote con­sid­er­able resources to the group. 

"Some years before David had joined F2, a Met­ro­pol­itan Police Spe­cial Duties Sec­tion (SDS) agent, code­named M2589, had pen­et­rated Class War.  Unlike the vast major­ity of agents recruited by MI5, he was not a mem­ber of an organ­isa­tion who had been ‘turned’ by the ser­vice.  He was a full-time police­man from Spe­cial Branch under deep cover.  For six days a week, he lived, ate and breathed the life of a class war­rior before return­ing to his nor­mal life with friends and fam­ily for a day. Whether Class War mer­ited this kind of resource intens­ive cov­er­age is open to debate.  I quote David:

'When I met M2589 in Feb­ru­ary 1992, at a safe house in Lon­don, it was quite obvi­ous that this pecu­liar arrange­ment had affected the agent psy­cho­lo­gic­ally.  After around four years of pre­tend­ing to be an anarch­ist, he had clearly become one.  To use the ser­vice jar­gon, he had gone nat­ive.  He drank about six cans of Spe­cial Brew dur­ing the debrief, and regaled us with stor­ies about beat­ing up uni­formed officers as part of his ‘cover’.  Partly as a res­ult, he was ‘ter­min­ated’ after the 1992 Gen­eral Elec­tion.  Without his organ­isa­tional skills, Class War fell apart.' 

"Did the agent make Class War more effect­ive while he was there?  In other words, did the state actu­ally provide resources, which con­trib­uted to the spread of anarchism?"

In her blog "Using Our Intelligence" back on September 28 Annie Machon warned:
"I would sug­gest that the concept of secret courts will prove fatally dan­ger­ous to our demo­cracy.  It may start with the concept of get­ting the Big Bad Ter­ror­ist, but in more polit­ic­ally unstable or strin­gent eco­nomic times this concept is wide open to mis­sion creep.
We are already see­ing a slide towards expand­ing the defin­i­tion of “ter­ror­ist” to include “domestic extrem­ists”, act­iv­ists, single issue cam­paign­ers et al, as I have writ­ten before. And just recently inform­a­tion was leaked about a new public-private EU ini­ti­at­ive, Clean IT, that pro­poses ever more invas­ive and dra­conian poli­cing powers to hunt down “ter­ror­ists” on the inter­net. This pro­posal fails to define ter­ror­ism, but does provide for endemic elec­tronic sur­veil­lance of the EU. Pure cor­por­at­ism.
Allow­ing secret courts to try people on the say-so of a shad­owy, unac­count­able and bur­geon­ing spy com­munity lands us straight back in the pages of his­tory: La Ter­reur of revolu­tion­ary France, the creepy sur­veil­lance of the Stasi, or the dis­ap­pear­ances and tor­ture of the Gestapo.
Have we learned nothing?" 

Since they quit MI5 together, Annie Machon and David Schayler have parted company, though they were still campaigning together when I saw them at a public meeting in Willesden some years back, bringing in their train a bunch of 9/11 conspiracy theorists who looked incongruously like they had strayed from a Countryside Alliance protest.

Apparently she left him when he took not to Special Brew but more exotic mind-altering substances. Schayler is reportedly living in a squat with something called the Rainbow movement, wearing high heels and a frock, and telling people he is the messiah, as well as quoting the famous Protocols. That sounds like MI5 alright, though he also believes the world will end in 2012. We've still got a couple of weeks to go.

Annie blames the security services for having pushed David Schayler to a breakdown. On the other hand he could be putting on a good act to persuade them he is no longer a threat and keep them off his back. It would make sense when you think what has happened to some others who knew too much.

 Annie Machon herself has lectured for, among others, the 9/11 Truth campaigners. But whatever we think of David Schayler or Annie Machon now, what they have to say about their experiences and what they learned while working for the intelligence services deserves to be taken seriously. It seems to be being born out rather than refuted by new evidence.

On Straw, MI6 and Libya:

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why his victims think it's a pity he has died just now

THIS is Ian Kerr, chief executive of the Consulting Association, and blacklister of trade unionists and environmental campaigners, ever since he went to work for the notorious Economic League back in 1969.  

His dedicated work for big companies like Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Skanska made sure that many building workers in particular found themselves unable to get employment for long periods. Big sites like the Olympic park and now, it is revealed, the BBC site in Salford, were closed to them. Their families went short, and all because at some point they had tried to organise fellow workers or raised concerns about safety conditions on site.

For Ian Kerr it brought a £50,000 a year salary, plus bonus, BUPA medical insurance and a Mercedes company car lifestyle.

Then in 2009 the Consulting Association premises in the Midlands were raided, files were taken away, and Kerr was prosecuted under the Data Protection law. Many of those who were on the files have been able to see for themselves and confirm what they may have suspected. But only a small proportion of the files have been seen.

At a recent appearance at the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, Kerr was unrepentant about his dirty work, which included spying on trade unionists and environmental actvists, but clearly reluctant to name big company directors with whom he worked. He was reportedly due to provide a written statement about these names.

Then on Tuesday last week it was reported that he had died. A lot of people made clear they would not be mourning him, to put it mildly, and might even dance or piss on his grave.

"The Blacklist Support Group will not be donating to his collection," said a spokesperson for that campaigning group..

But at the same, some activists and people who had suffered the effects of Kerr's blacklisting activities were regretting that the man who persecuted them had been snatched away just when he was due to answer more questions about his activities, and about those who paid for his services.

"Does no-one else think its a bit dodgy that he dies just after giving evidence to the Select Committee and just before he was meant to supply a written statement naming names?", asked one member of the Blacklist Support Group on Facebook.

Another, reminding us that it wasnot only private companies that worked with Kerr, asked darkly:
"Is anyone thinking it's a little strange that Kerr has died, at a point where so many including government agencies were looking to be fingered in this case? And haven't these Gov agencies got form for this sort of silencing?"

Meanwhile a worker remained seriously ill in hospital with burns sustained in an explosion when a live cable was hit on the Crossrail project in London. Several trade unionists have been campaigning against alleged victimisation on Crossrail after they raised safety concerns, particularly about exposed cables. Unite the union has called for an investigation at Crossrail, including of links between management and the anti-union Consulting Association. 

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Three Days on a 45 year Occupation

HIS name is Muhammad Slayma, and until this week he was just another lad growing up in the West Bank city of Hebron.  A good sports player and popular with his schoolpals perhaps, but not otherwise outstanding.  Then yesterday, after celebrating his 17th birthday at school (above) Muhammad was on his way to pick up another cake for home from the bakers when he became a victim of the 45-year long occupation of his homeland.  Another martyr for the resistance.

The Israeli occupation forces say he ignored a shouted order to stop. Friends say he was hard of hearing. The soldiers said he was shot after brandishing a gun. It turned out to be a toy. He was reportedly shot six times.

Today an Israeli group called " We are all for death to terrorists". proudly posted a picture of the woman said to have shot the boy dead. The text said n Hebrew "this is Nofar Mizrahi class instructor Unit 25 Border Police Judea and Samaria, that shot a terrorist in Hebron".

On the streets of Hebron, the killing of this "terrorist" with a toy gun brought crowds of youth out on the streets  to clash with Israeli troops who fired tear gas.  At one point some soldiers who were cornered took refuge in a bitchers shop, whether from fear or to avoid shooting more teenagers. Not everyone wants to be celebrated by the death cult.

It was just another day in the world's longest running occupation, that has gone on for 45 years and six months. But it comes as the Netanyahu government wants to punish the Palestinians and hold up two fingers of scorn to the UN for giving what's left of Palestine some recognition.  It has already held up funds which belong to the Palestine authority.

On Tuesday, to show who is boss in areas under the nominal control of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli occupation forces ransacked the offices of Palestinian human rights organizations in Ramallah.
In a statement Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer said:
    At 3 am this morning, 11 December 2012, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights office was raided by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Four laptops, one hard disk and a video camera were taken among other materials. The IOF destroyed the office; desks, ransacked filing cabinets and files and scattered files around the office. At this moment, we are not clear as to what has been confiscated, but in the coming days we will know more about the level of destruction and damage. This is the first raid by the IOF since 2002, when the Addameer office was raided during the invasion of Ramallah.
    The offices of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committee and the Palestinian NGO Network were also raided and ransacked last night. Addameer condemns this attack on human rights and civil society organizations, and sees it as an attempt to cripple solidarity with the prisoners movement.


At 2pm on Tuesday, a group of farmers were walking towards their fields next to the apartheid wall in Ni’lin. They were spotted by two military jeeps that started hunting them as the soldiers considered the farmers to be in a “closed military area”, when really they were walking on their own land. As the farmers fled back to the village the Israeli army sent three military jeeps into the village in an attempt to surround and arrest the men. The farmers however evaded the soldiers who started chasing them through the village while shooting after them.

Many young people gathered in the streets at this point and tried to prevent the jeeps from chasing after the farmers by barricading the roads with boulders. The Israeli soldiers responded by firing live ammunition towards the youths.

This led to clashes lasting for four hours. More military jeeps charged into the village until there were 13 of them on Ni’lin land. Tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets were fired straight at homes leading to a large number of women, children and elderly people suffering from tear gas inhalation as even those staying indoors was effected. Most of the shooting taking place was however live ammunition fired straight towards the people of Ni’lin. The Red Crescent was also targeted with live bullets to prevent them from treating injured villagers during the clashes.

Three people were injured during the clashes, one from a live round entering his leg and two shot with rubber coated steel bullets in neck and head, respectively. They were taken to Ramallah hospital after the clashes and the man shot in the head was in severe condition during Wednesday.


Five people have been injured in clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron, after a Palestinian teenager was shot by Israeli soldiers on Wednesday.
Dozens of Palestinian youths were reported to have thrown stones and bottles at the soldiers early on Thursday morning, while Associated Press news agency reported that the Israeli soldiers had responded by firing tear gas on the youths.

Five Palestinians were hospitalised after the clashes, reported Ma'an News Agency.
Thursday's clashes came ahead of the funeral for 17-year-old Palestinian, Muhammad Ziad Awad Salaymah, who was shot dead by an Israeli policewoman at a checkpoint in the city on Wednesday, for allegedly carrying a gun which later turned out to be "fake".

Some news agencies reported that Salaymah had been shot up to six times.
Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Israeli police, said on Wednesday that an initial investigation indicated "[Salaymah] pulled a fake pistol. They [troops at the scene] thought it was real."

Palestinians, however, said Salaymah was unarmed, and had failed to heed orders to halt at a military checkpoint because he was hard of hearing. Protests against the shooting broke out in the Old City on Wednesday night, with Israeli forces using tear gas and live ammunition to quell the demonstrations.
"They have orders to shoot with live bullets now," a resident of Hebron told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.
(al Jazeera)

If the Israeli forces are alternately trigger happy and nervous, fearing the start of another Intifada,  the Palestinian youth are showing both confidence and anger. And as a report today in Ha'aretz notes, it is not only the Israeli military that are feeling it:

It appeared, however, that Palestinian Authority forces were unable to deal with the increasing intensity of the protests in the West Bank. The youths did not hesitate, and threw stones at the Palestinian police as well, while continuing to clash with the soldiers. A short time later, the Palestinian police left the scene, and the clashes continued.

In the past, the arrival of Palestinian police on the scene, especially in urban areas, would cause the demonstrations to disperse. Today, however, it appears that the perception of the Palestinian Authority as relatively week, has been applied to police as well. 
There was massive public support on the West Bank for the Palestinian UN recognition bid. But when the Israeli military shows  as it has in Ramallah its contempt for both the Palestine Authority and the UN, the youth show that while they support the diplomatic effort for statehood, they are not going to subordinate their struggle for justice and freedom to it.


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Saturday, December 08, 2012

A Well Aimed Stone

A WELL-AIMED stone, as we know from the Bible, can topple a giant, or shatter the feet of clay of a mighty idol. There are plenty of stones about the landscape of Palestine, as the Israeli army discovered, and they can'r be stopped by an Iron Dome that keeps out rockets, but can ultimately do more damage.

The latest issue of Jewish Socialist 
(no.65) has just reached me hot from the presses,and as you'd expect it has plenty of material looking at the recent onslaught on Gaza, some of which never made the "mainstream" media, as well as articles on the ongoing struggle, such as the children in Israeli jails, and experience at Qalandiya checkpoint.

"Will Israel Listen to Palestine Now?", it asks with regard to the UN vote for recognition. If it doesn't we may see the voice raised at the UN heralding a return to the language of stones.

Dr.Richard Stone was the west London GP who asked why it was that whenever he recommended patients as needing rehousing, he was told Westminster council had nowhere available, yet wherever he went on his rounds he came across empty boarded up flats. His question led eventually to the downfall of Dame Shirley Porter, the Tesco heiress and leader of Tory Westminster council, charged with keeping properties empty until they could be put up for sale, in order to change the social character of neighborhoods and gerrymander elections.

Richard Stone went on to ask more questions as a panel member of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, and in the new Jewish Socialist he says he finds it odd "that most people involved in government inquiries do not stay with the agenda they have set". Though comparing himself good-humouredly with a grandfather who kept poring over rabbincal texts in search of answers, he remains concerned over the human tragedy of Stephen Lawrence's death and continues to pursue questions raised in the Inquiry, asking which recommendations have been implemented, and whether the police have really reformed their ways. Dr. Stone has a book Hidden Stories of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry due to come out in February.

 Tony Lerman's book The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist has aroused as much interest and appreciation, and from a wider audience, as his development raised controversy. Like myself, Tony was a member of the labour zionist youth movement Habonim, but our career paths were somewhat different. Having gone to Israel, and served in the army, he returned to become, inter alia, editor of the Jewish Quarterly, chief executive of what is now the Rothschild Foundation, and director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.  

Along the way Tony alarmed the Jewish Establishment by publishing an article by Dave Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialists' Group; enraged Tory fundraiser Stanley Kalms (of Dixons); and was denounced by then Daily Mail writer Stephen Pollard, now the editor of the Jewish Chronicle. All of this because he disagreed with the party line on Jewish life and antisemitism, and knew what he was talking about. As he confesses in the interview along with the review of his book in Jewish Socialist by Stephen Marks, it was quite late in his career that he decided he wasn't a Zionist, and became one of the Independent Jewish Voices demanding recognition of Palestinian rights. This was enough to bring down the rage of another Daily Mail columnist, Melanie Phillips, who described him and his associates as "Jews for Genocide". We can all call her "Mad Mel", but it takes a Tony Lerman to bring on that kind of outburst and show her up for what she is. A man of integrity, and well worth reading.

Remembering some heroes and struggles of yesteryear, Karl Lewkowicz.pays tribute to East End -born Lou Kenton, who died in September aged 104, the oldest surviving British veteran of the International Brigade in Spain, and Lydia Syson describes how researching for her novel A World Between Us, she was reminded of things her grandfather, communist Jack Gaster, and others of his generation had told her.  Dave Rosenberg, who has become somewhat well-known for his East End Walks, tells the story of Cable Street's almost forgotten sequel, the 1937 Battle of Bermondsey against Mosley's fascists (and brutal police), and yours truly has an article about the rising in Algiers on November 8, 1942, when a bunch of ill-armed rebels opened the way for the Allies' operation Torch.

All this and much more, including a worrying report on reproductive rights for women in Central America, a controversial piece by Victor Schonfield supporting a Cologne court's decision to outlaw male circumcision, and Ralph Levinson reviewing a book, Does Your Rabbi Know You're Here?, about Jewish supporters for football clubs, including his beloved Leyton Orient. Truly, once again Jewish Socialist lives up to its claim to reach the parts other left-wing magazines don't touch.

JEWISH SOCIALIST costs £2 or subscribe £10 inc. post and packing for four issues. If you are already getting it why not give a sub as a Chanuka/Christmas present to someone you know?

JSG, BM3725, London WC1N 3XX 


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Friday, December 07, 2012

Will New Spring follow Islamist Winter?

REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALISTS on march in Damietta, northern Egypt

 SOCIALISTS and trade unionists who have taken to the streets against right-wing governments n Egypt and Tunisia are asking for international support.

In Egypt, President Mohammad Morsy tried to use his enhanced status after brokering the Gaza ceasefire as the cover for a deal with the International Monetary Fund and to give himself dictatorial powers such as people thought they had seen off with Hosni Mubarak.

As the tents of protest went up again in Tahrir Square, teachers and textile workers trade unions called strikes against the government. Demonstrators have clashed not only with riot police but with  the president's supporters in the Ikhwan, the Muslim Brotherhood. Demonstrators who stormed a Brotherhood office say they found an arms cache there.

Some of the Muslim Brotherhood members who turned out against protesters are not just ordinary supporters but armed squads, also including Salafi thugs such as have carried out sectarian attacks and provocations in several countries in the name of their extreme version of Islam.

In the chaos and excitement of the clashes the Revolutionary Socialists reported:    
 “We are mourning the death of Taha Magdy, who was killed by Brotherhood thugs. We are ready to offer hundreds of martyrs for the sake of our revolution,” they declared on Facebook. A woman member was kidnapped. "Comrade Ola Shaoba was attacked by MB last night and now still in hospital. She was not just beaten but captured also and let go, many are still held by MB as if we are prisoners of war!!" - via Gigi Ibrahim.

Later it was reported that Taha, though wounded, was still alive.
"Apology and correction: The Revolutionary Socialist movement apologizes for spreading the news of the martyrdom of comrade Taha Magdy based on the report of the officiating doctor at one of the government hospitals. The safety of our comrade has been confirmed..." 

Another four people were reportedly killed in the clashes, including a member of the Socialist Progress Party. And from Reporters Without Frontiers comes this report:

Al-Hosseiny Abu Deif, an experienced newspaper reporter, was rushed to hospital after being hit in the head by a rubber bullet fired at close range at around 1 a.m. today and is said to be in a critical condition.

“Witnesses say the president’s supporters deliberately targeted and attacked journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call on President Morsi to order an investigation into the circumstances of these attacks and to punish those responsible. As president, he must ensure the safety of all of his fellow citizens, including journalists.

“We also call on the president to rescind the 22 November decree granting himself extraordinary powers, and not hold a referendum on the draft constitution in its current form. The Constituent Commission must amend the draft in order to provide more protection for freedom of expression and information.”

A witness told Reporters Without Borders that Morsi supporters deliberately targeted Deif, who works for the newspaper Al-Fagr. Five minutes before he was shot from a distance of just two metres, he showed colleagues photos of the president’s supporters with sophisticated weapons. His camera was stolen after he was shot, as colleagues went to his aid.

 From Tunisia,  where workers are resisting austerity measures and unemployment such as led to the overthrow of the old regime, comes this message:
"Today 06/12/2012 a general strike in Kasserine, Gafsa, Sidi Bouzid and Sfax. We organized a big march protesting against Ennahdha government's militia which attacked unionsts in Tunis last tuesday in head office of Union General de Travailleurs Tunisien. Yesterday the officers of UGTT met and announced a general strike for next Thursday 13/12/12. The decision won't be reviewed unless the gvt admits these militias are illegal and takes the decision to stop them acting in the name of the revolution."
Mohamed Sghaier Saihi UGTT Kasserine

AMONG those joining the struggle in Egypt have been thousands of workers from the giant textile plant of Misr Spinning in Mahalla al-Kubra. 
 Workers rallied as they ended their shift and were joined by townspeople in a march which quickly swelled to more than 5,000 strong.
As the protestors reached Shoun Square in the town centre they were attacked by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, who threw fireworks at them. The demonstrators answered with stones and molotov cocktails.,43766.html

One of the Egyptian trade unionists active in the struggle has sent this message to friends in London:

Dear friends,

On 17 November I was invited to speak at the Unite the Resistance Conference in London, and I asked you for your solidarity with the workers’ movement in Egypt. Today we need your solidarity more than ever.
Activists have been fighting to overthrow the Constituent Assembly which represents no-one except the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi then brought out his Constitutional Declaration which makes him like a god or a new pharaoh, who controls all the institutions of the state, and means he cannot be challenged. One of his aims was to protect the Shura Council [the upper house of parliament] from dissolution, as well as the Constituent Assembly, so that he could get the new constitution passed. But he didn’t count on the anger of the Egyptian people, who have come out in their hundreds of thousands to protest in the streets against his Constitutional Declaration, and to show their refusal to participate in the creation of a new dictatorship.
As you are protesting against austerity, unemployment and poverty in Britain, we will be on the streets in Egypt, trying to achieve the goals of our revolution.
We are all united for bread, freedom and social justice.
Hind Abd-al-Gawad

  • Rush messages of solidarity to the Egyptian independent unions via EFITU ( – please copy to
  • For more  background information and to keep up with events visit the Middle East and North Africa Solidarity Network website:
    Earlier this year, al Jazeera broadcast a fascinating view of life in the Mahalla factory:
    The Factory - Revolution Through Arab Eyes - Al Jazeera English

    Al Ahram editorial on decline and fall of Muslim Brotherhood:


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