31 Jul 2006

Beyond the Two-State solution

Zionism can be used in a racist sense, there are anti-conspiracy anti-semites, the existence of Israel can be seen as a product of the need for a Jewish homeland after the holocaust....so any discussion of Zionism is going to be difficult and sensitive but unfortunately necessary.

The two state solution which of course is Green Party policy may be in practical terms necessary....the idea of Pal-Isreal, with the two very antagonistic communities living in peace may seem idealistic, especially given the kind of polarisation which grews with the appalling war we see at present.

Nonetheless as Joel Kovel notes here, ecosocialist should have the vision to call for a single state which transcends ethnic identities.

Kovel inspired me to energise my commitment to ecosocialism and is one of the most important ecosocialist activists and writers on the planet, he is also Jewish and a strong campaigner against anti-semitism, we have a common interest in how anti-semitic nationalism can infect the fringes of the anti-globalisation movement.

Any way see what you think of this, a portion of a longer essay from his website....however one state or two, we have to work to stop this war which could spread and burn the world.

Greens need to become far more active in the anti-war movement.




Beyond the Two-State solution
The claim that it is anti-Semitic to go too far in one's critique of Israel stymies a deeper structural analysis. But it also leaves us in the dark as to just what is far enough in the critique of Israel. The above line of reasoning may be deemed as going too far by many who hold to the view that there is an essential core of virtue to Israel, rooted in the great ethical traditions of Judaism, in Israel's many cultural and technological achievements, and in the fact that it has offered a homeland to a persecuted people. This view, which may be characterized, using Lerner’s phrase, as the fundamental legitimacy conception of Israel, is undoubtedly held by the great majority of American Jews, and accounts for the fact that they cannot bring themselves to believe that Israel would have a drive to transfer, ethnically cleanse, and expel Palestinians.


This notion also presupposes the horizon of the acceptable defined by the "two-state" proposal, a solution in which Israel stays essentially the same with some territorial adjustments, and a Palestinian state is hewn out of the occupied territories or some fraction therof. Two-state logic is what allows Lerner to say that he is "pro-Israel [and] pro-Palestine." It enables him to lay out his political program, confident that there is something in Israel on the basis of which a decent two state solution can be developed. For it is Israel, holding the cards of military power, that will have to be petitioned, reasoned with, and won over, if there is to be a Palestinean state worthy of human beings.


The facts of the case indicate, however, that Israel as it exists cannot be petitioned, reasoned with, or won over to a just solution to the crisis. The reader may study the particulars, with copious references to Israeli commentators, in Tanya Reinhart's superb Israel/Palestine: Ending the 1948 War, (Seven Stories, 2003), and learn about the endless chicanery and manipulation carried out by successive adminstrations from Center-left to Far Right in order to thwart Palestinian statehood. Israel's behavior during the Second Intifada (which it almost certainly deliberately provoked to accelerate its occupation according to the rules laid down by Perle and Feith) makes clear that it merely toys with the idea of Palestinian statehood to throw occasional sops to world opinion. In the meanwhile, Sharon and company-with the certain approval of Bush, Perle, Wolfowitz, et. al.-have been busy annihilating the miserable conditions of occupied Palestine, with a tripling of the poverty rate in the past two years, utter devastation of civil society, and a toll in malnutrition, injury and disease that greatly exceeds the killings directly carried out by the Israeli army. This process, played out against a backdrop of screaming F16’s and the roar of monster bulldozers destroying homes and burying people (including Rachel Corrie) alive, only makes sense if viewed as part of the process of ethnic cleansing, i.e., “transfer.”


Even if this were not the case, the proposed Palestinian state is frankly unworthy of self-respecting human beings. How can there be any pretence to justice when one side is asked to settle for a fragmented domain completely surrounded by its oppressor, utterly dominated by the oppressor's economy, laced with roadways reserved for its troops, where vital resources like water remain under the oppressor's control, and where there are no real guarantees for the withdrawal of the fanatical settlements cynically augmented during the “peace process?”


What, then, is the real character of the Israeli state and the Zionism of which it is the fruit? What are we to call a project which, though it boasts of being a "democracy," reserves 92% of its land for Jewish people? Where one who converts to Judaism or has a Jewish great-grandmother is automatically given full rights to the land while those others whose families merely happened to have lived there for centuries are at best second-class and landless? Where Jews have full legal rights and Palestinian rights have been "temporarily" suspended -- since 1948? Where people have to carry identity cards, specifying ethnicity (a category which may not include the identity of “Israeli”), and that determine how one is treated by the state? Where the territories are laced with "Jews-only" roads? Where political parties that question the fundamentally Jewish nature of the "democracy" are outlawed? And that is afraid to draft a Constitution because it knows it would have to declare itself defunct once it did.


Is there any word for this except racism, institutionalized at the most fundamental level of the state? Is not this the guiding logic of Israel's militarization, and its mechanism of ruthless expansion and repression--and yes, the prospect of expulsion? Does it not devolve onto society and through the Diaspora, corrupting the emancipatory legacy of Judaism and sowing chauvinism and blind prejudice?


The racist character of the Zionist state is the truth so hard to bear by those who believe in Israel's fundamental legitimacy. But it also disintegrates this belief, because racism at this level, where a whole people is destroyed so that another people might thrive, epitomizes the meaning of a crime against humanity. All claims of being “the only democracy in the Middle East,” or of saving Jews from anti-Semitic oppression, or having fine symphony orchestras and universities, fade in its glare.


What is to be done? We can begin with what is not to be done, and reject a two-state solution that solves nothing, is impossible in any humanly desirable sense within the current configuration, and serves chiefly as an illusion lying like a giant stone over the imagination. Beyond this illusion lies confrontation with the racist state and rejection of the idea that Zionism expresses the authentic calling of the Jewish people. We need, in a word, to envision a non-racist Israel, beyond tribalism and open to all. This is an old road, suffering from disuse; it is overgrown with weeds and long thought impassable: the “One State” dream of a fully democratic society where all can live together. But it has a noble history, going back to Martin Buber; and the ruin of alternatives demands that it be re-opened, as a direction if not an immediately attainable destination.


The first portion of this path resembles the demands already made by people of good will, including Michael Lerner: cease the annihilation of Palestinian society, end the Occupation, now and unilaterally. These measures clear the way to go beyond, where the need is to envision an Israel beyond Zionism. The prospect is already immanent in these immediate demands. But its realization requires engaging the principle that a racist state, because it automatically generates crimes against humanity and lacks the internal means of correcting them, cannot have that legitimacy which gives it the right to exist. In a word, the Zionist state should be radically transformed, and if need be, brought down.


The mere mention of this possibility sends shudders of horror through a collective imagination shaped by the Holocaust; this now translates the idea of overcoming Zionism into the image of "being driven into the sea," as though the vengeful Arabs would pick up Israel by its Eastern borders and dump the whole thing into the Mediterranean.


Here we need to remind ourselves that we are talking about changing the Israeli state. A state is not a society, a nation or a territory, but a mode of regulation and control, and the disposition of official violence. States control and direct society, contain nations, and command territories. The racist state aggrandizes one group by annihilating others, who essentially stand helpless before it. The Holocaust happened to state-less Jews, “Roma (“Gypsies”)”, etc, who became the victims of the nihilism of a racist, Nazi state; similarly, state-less Palestinians have become victims of the nihilism of the racist, Zionist state. Given the nihilistic violence built into the Zionist state, it is reasonable to say that such an outcome is in the interests of both the bodily and spiritual survival of the Jewish people.


Being "thrown into the sea” is a fantasy of projected vengeance. It is predicated on sustaining a racist state-organization into the future, forever surrounded by those it has dispossessed and humiliated. Therefore the chief condition to strive for is creation of a society in which the wheel of vengeance is put out of commission. And if this seems completely off the scale, especially so given the extreme violence built into the Israeli state, it is most important to recall the bringing down of the murderous apartheid state of South Africa-and to realize that if so great an accomplishment could be done there, then an equivalently great accomplishment can take place in Israel/Palestine.


There are of course important differences between Israel and apartheid South Africa. The latter was only a secondary (though not insignificant) client of the United States, inasmuch as it lacked strong domestic constituencies in America, and more importantly, was not a factor in controlling an area so strategic as the Middle East. Because South Africa is a wealthy and largely self-sufficient powerhouse, while Israel would collapse like a house of cards without the support of its patron, a much greater role would be given to organizing within the United States in the struggle against Zionism compared to the struggle against Apartheid. At the same time, the depth of the American-Israeli tie makes that organizing much more arduous, even as the present state of war and looming expulsion of the Palestinian people (ethnic cleansing was not significant for South Africa) gives it an immediate urgency. Prevention of the latter catastrophe necessarily provides the entry point into the struggle against Zionism, without altering the long term goal. And this is defined by the deep structural similarities between the two racist states.
Like Israel, the apartheid state was a settler-colonialist venture with messianic ambitions. And like the Zionists, the Afrikaners saw themselves as persecuted wanderers to whom God had promised a homeland, inconveniently occupied by lesser people. Like Israel, they defined their self-determination as being at the cost of the self-determination of the indigenous people. Driven by a sense of divine license for the terrible injustice that grew from this basic contradiction, they also proceeded to construct and justify the Bantustan system, their own "two-state" (to be exact, multiple-state) solution to the basic contradictions of their imperial project. And they responded, like Israel, with increasing degrees of force and cruelty as the oppressed people asserted their rights as human beings.

And they were eventually brought down, notably, without a bloodbath. Though nobody should suffer the illusion that South Africa has conquered its problems, these now chiefly come under the heading of the "normal" exploitation of a country by global capital rather than that of a murderous racism combined with imperial expansion. Squeezed by the IMF, with deep class divisions, terrible crime and sexual violence, not to mention the wrenching AIDS crisis, South Africa faces a difficult future. But at least a stable democratic polity, black and white living together, is on the ground. South Africa (which I have visited four times) today is full of struggle and vitality, and only a madman would exchange its governance for the version under apartheid.


The movement that freed South Africa under the leadership of Nelson Mandela continues to inspire hope for change in Israel/Palestine. As Lerner states, we need to appropriate the "spirit that made possible the transformation of South Africa under the leadership of Nelson Mandela." Lerner would use the example of Mandela to lecture "the Palestinians to reject all forms of violence . . .”, as these [a]cts of terror . . . drive the Israeli population into the hands of the most right-wing forces in Israeli society.”


The clear implication is that Mandela and the African National Congress abjured all forms of violence and acts of terror. But such was not at all the "spirit" which transformed South Africa under the leadership of Nelson Mandela. Early in the history of the ANC, Gandhian principles held sway (Gandhi developed the notion of Satyagraha during a lengthy stay in South Africa), nor did they ever disappear. But Mandela and his cohort, realizing the murderous implacability of the apartheid regime, introduced in 1961 a two-pronged strategy, with nonviolent resistance in some settings to be accompanied by armed struggle and acts that would have to be called terroristic in others. He assumed the command of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, and was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island largely because of this. Thus nonviolence was, however important, no more than an component of the South African freedom struggle, the victory of which was finally assured on the battlefields of Angola, when the racist regime, having met its match in the army of Cuba, made the decision to liquidate apartheid and free Mandela (as a result, Fidel Castro is the most beloved Western leader in South Africa).


Lerner's sermon to the Palestinians is a reprise of a similar event in 1991. After Mandela had been freed he came to the United States and met with, among other luminaries, President Bush-pere, who similarly lectured him on the need to renounce violence in the struggle. A man of unsurpassable dignity, Mandela responded by publically scolding the Leader of the Free World for this cynical attempt to tell a people struggling for its freedom and life what to do. The reasons for doing so still apply.


First, one does not presume to call upon another people to change their ways unless one has earned the authority to do so. Respecting the "fundamental legitimacy" of their oppressor, indeed, calling (as Lerner has) for Israel to be granted membership in NATO as a consolation prize for abandoning the Occupation does not entitle one to the right to issue a ukase on nonviolence to the Palestinians-any more than G. H. W. Bush’s coziness with the apartheid state endeared him to Mandela.


Nor can rhetoric about “love and healing” obscure the painful and complicated choices we face in this hard world. Nobody, certainly the Palestinians, is above the need for criticism. But the critic, too, needs to be held before the bar. His or her obligation is to be faithful to both the historical complexity of choice and the need to choose, even if such choice means an option for armed struggle. The question is of the spiritual and political context within which this is carried forth. The source for the magnificence of Mandela’s leadership was not the renunciation of armed struggle. It lay, rather, in the scope of his historical vision, and it is here that the lesson for the liberation of Israel/Palestine lies.


Mandela’s greatness derived, it seems to me, from his rejection of South Africa's version of the two-state solution-the Bantustan system. The Bantustans represented an imposed tribalism, with indigenous Africans forcibly displaced onto reservations carved out of the country's poorest land. The whole arrangement was wrapped with racist-utopian rhetoric and secured by the development of parallel institutions of education, judiciary, etc, between the Bantustans and white South Africa. Needless to add, military force remained a monopoly of the apartheid regime, while the territories provided a pool of ultra-cheap labor for exploitation in the factories and mines across the border, much like the situation in the Occupied Territories.


Mandela would have none of it. He concluded, as his official web-site puts it, “very early on that the Bantustan policy was a political swindle and an economic absurdity. He predicted, with dismal prescience, that ahead there lay a grim programme of mass evictions, political persecutions, and police terror”--results familiar to the observer of developments in Israel/Palestine, as are the opportunism and corruption built-into those who would settle for these paltry goals. Indeed, it is here that we can account for the different levels of leadership provided by Arafat and Mandela - the one hemmed in by an acceptance, the other expanded by his refusal, of a Bantustan-type system. (In fact, Mandela rejected an offer of freedom by the Apartheid government if he would assume leadership, Arafat-style, of Transkei, one of the Bantustans.)


Mandela’s greatness was prepared by the negation of the Bantustan system, and realized by going beyond that negation; one might say, in "negating the negation." For Mandela, the essential point was to posit a society beyond racism, which means, beyond vengeance as well. He opposed this vision to all forms of tribalism and exceptionalism, and faithfully held fast to it. It is this vision that humanizes such aggression as may be necessary to break loose from the death-grip of a racist state. It infused the South African liberation struggle with a spirit of anticipated reconciliation that steadily gathered more people from the white as well as the black community, and from all across the world. The abjuring of vengeance proved morally more important, therefore, than a strict renunciation of armed struggle. It became the germ of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the guarantee that no one would get pushed into the sea.


Michael Lerner has called for a similar commission in a peaceful post-occupation Israel/Palestine. The idea is excellent, but it cannot take place within the framework of a two-state resolution presided over by the Zionist state, for the simple reason that such a resolution in any humanly worthwhile form will never take place under these conditions. The implication is starkly clear. It is futile to build a movement for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine that does not radically challenge the racist state: the goal is simply not worthy enough. In a vision of a post-racist society we find, however, the moral force capable of inspiring and drawing in people of good will from all sides of the conflict. If such people were able to demand the downfall of apartheid, why should they not do the same for Zionism, and unify themselves under this banner? It will be a long and hard struggle, and only a vision worthy of its sacrifices will suffice for the path ahead.

London Islamic Network for the Environment Picnic

As you will have picked up from previous posts I am keen to network with progressive Muslims, noting the green strands and traditional tolerance of a sufi approach, here are some details of the LINE picnic next sunday, hopefully I will be able to pop along.

My garden is providing tomatoes, chillis, coriander, onions, courgettes....I have now had three pizza toppings (cheese from Waitrose) from my modest production, all organic, inter cropped from raised beds....very very little work.

Zen seems to be dropping off a little not in for zazen in London for a week or two, must keep this up of course....I would encourage all of you to practice, see weblink...don't feel it is about reading, just the practice of being here alive in the world.




Peace -

Please keep Sunday the 6th of August free, and join us for our upcoming annual organic picnic, for which we've always had great feedback. Please note that the August LINE meeting will be on the second Sunday of the month as usual, and hence will be a week later (13th).

---

The London Islamic Network for the Environment (LINE) invites you to:

ORGANIC PICNIC GET-TOGETHER: FOOD, FUN & FRIENDS

Date: Sun 6th August 2006
Time: 1.45pm to 5pm
Venue: Regents Park, London (see below for directions*)

Come to Regents Park for a gathering of ethical eating tied up with stimulating conversation in a relaxed environment. Just bring some organic/ethical vegetarian food and/or soft drink to share and be part of a growing movement of socially and ecologically conscious people in what is becoming an annual gathering, now in its third year running. Feel free to invite your friends and family. This event is open to anyone regardless of beliefs, and will take place whatever the weather.

To find your local organic food retailer, here is a helpful website: http://www.organicfood.co.uk/shopping/index.html - Where possible, please support independent retailers and/or alternative food networks such as local farmers markets & organic box schemes. Together we can release the corporate grip that places profit above values that we hold most dear, and we can have a good time whilst we're at it. There will also be a chance to take part in a short quiz on global and ecological issues (optional).

Contact: Muzammal: 0845 456 3960 (local rate);

*Directions: Take the entrance situated behind Regents Park Mosque: the picnic will be on the left hand side in the upper left hand corner of the quadrangle by a clump of trees. (Nearest tube: Baker Street or St Johns Wood) Map: http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=527451&y=182826&z=1

Websites:
LINE (London Islamic Network for the Environment): http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/LINEnotices
GM Foods & Islam: http://www.islamicgmfocus.org

--

30 Jul 2006

post back to your Labour MP

well back from holidays with the Wall brothers and Sarah, staying with Larry Wall's godfather the ever fascinating green activist, anti-fascist and anti-spook Master, Dr Larry 0'Hara.

Anyway back to blog....here is Caroline's statement against the war, remember if you are still in the Labour Party, burn your card, stick the ashes on a piece of cardboard and post back to your Labour MP, especially in marginals. If no MP, try and find a Labour councillor.

Revelations that Blair is going to intervene on behalf of Cliff Richards, his holiday host, to extend copyright back to 70 years, disgusts me.

Within a capitalist system the best of politicians can be corrupted, may be this is Blair's aim to take such capitulation to such extreme and kitsch heights as to make us all into anarchists....bit like Ayn Rand, so pro-the market as to be propagandist's for an anti-capitalist economy.

I mean turning the dome into a giant casino, he is taking the piss, what a legacy.



GREENS BACK UN CALL FOR LEBANON CEASEFIRE

GREEN Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas has joined thousands of peace campaigners in calling on Tony Blair to demand an immediate ceasefire in the two-week Lebanon conflict.

GREEN Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas has joined thousands of peace campaigners in calling on Tony Blair to demand an immediate ceasefire in the two-week Lebanon conflict.

Nearly 500 people have been killed since Israel launched its bombardment of Lebanon a fortnight ago, the vast majority Lebanese civilians. But backed only by Israel and the US, the British Government - which has approved the sale of £25m worth of arms to Israel in the last 18 months - has refused to call for an immediate ceasefire in the region.

Dr Lucas, who is also a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's national council and Green Party Principal Speaker, said: "A humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Lebanon. Israel is allegedly using illegal cluster bombs and phosphorous weapons - and has already created a refugee crisis of huge proportions and caused an estimated £1bn-worth of damage to civilian infrastructure like roads, bridges, ports, media outlets and electricity and clean water supplies.

"This is barbaric - and a clear breach of international law. I have joined the thousands calling for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon and withdrawal from Gaza - by all parties to the conflict - because it's clear that Blair and Beckett's response to the crisis has been inadequate and irresponsible to the point of placing the UK, along with the US and Israel, in a new, deadly, 'axis of evil' which has caused the deaths of innocent women and children and the worsening of prospects for peace in the region."

The letter, which has been organised by the Stop the War Coalition and CND, will be hand delivered to Downing Street during a 'Ceasefire NOW!' protest in Whitehall, London, from 5pm this Friday, July 28th.

Dr Lucas, who is also a co-president of the European Parliament's cross-party Peace Initiatives group, added: "Of course we condemn the violence on all sides and call on Israel and Hezbollah to cease all military actions, which are indiscriminately killing civilians - and forcing them to flee their homes - and as such clearly breach international law.

"The UK must do everything in its power to ensure international law is fully respected in the Middle East, by all players - including not just Israel and Hezbollah but the US and UK too. As long as our troops are being used to prop up the illegal US occupation in Iraq we can't expect to be treated as impartial peacemakers in the region."

26 Jul 2006

Rewriting history-Green Party

No, this isn't an expose of what Jonathon Porritt really said, I have just started on the job of updating my history of the Green Party written back in 1993 for it's 20th anniversary.

Spent a lot of time in archives and looking at things like back issues of peace news, PN, far from just covering anti-war material and events provides a history of ecological and alternative politics that goes back to the 1930s.

Any suggestions for updates welcome.

Knowledge sadly is often enclosed in universities and access to the public has declined, university focus on the commercial has correspondingly increased.

The LSE library which can be tough to get into without an academic connection has all the back issues of Peace News.

The Commonwheal Collection at Bradford University is a great archive of peace and ecology newsletters magazines, I get the impression that anyone can join and browse, a great resource if you are in Yorkshire, UK.
This is what they say
About the Commonweal Collection http://www.brad.ac.uk/library/services/commonweal/index.php

The Commonweal Collection is an independent specialist library concerned with issues relating to non-violent social change. It contains over 11,000 books and pamphlets, 150 current journals and a variety of videos and educational materials on peace and disarmament, environmentalism and the green movement, non-violent philosophy and practice, human rights, development and regional issues, anti-racism, identity issues, social and economic alternatives, creative education, spiritual experience and analysis of world problems. In addition, Commonweal seeks to work with schools, campaign and community groups and individuals on projects linked to non-violent social change and to network with those sharing some or all of our core beliefs.

Enquiries regarding archival material collected by Commonweal, from the peace and other movements, should go to Special Collections at Bradford University.
Membership of the Commonweal Collection

The Commonweal Collection is free and open to the public. For information on how to join Commonweal please see the Membership of the Commonweal Collection Web page. Non-members are welcome to visit the Collection, but will be required to sign in at J B Priestley Library reception in accordance with University policy.

25 Jul 2006

Power cuts cut my space.

Well we thought it was Mossad or the Chinese secret service, lists down, inability to send emails, a range of web problems but it seems more likely that global warming rather than our opposition to war or torture was the reason for these problems.

122 temperatures in California have led to power cuts as energy demand rockets in an attempt to cool the with air conditioners. This led last week to some major problems with my space, etc.....Now this could be because of seasonal freak weather but equally it could be an effect of climate change induced by increases in CO2.

So this seems a good time to introduce George Marshall’s climate denial blog which will be challenging the Lomborgs who say that there are more important things to spend the money than dealing with global warming (Trident at £24 billion any one?) and those who simple say there is no evidence for global warming.

Decentralised energy production seems like part of the solution and a shift to conservation, I guess if demand is going to peak with the heat, solar power would make sense.

The push to nuclear looks more and more like a nightmare scenario, think of all that waste, the centralised system it involves, reactors virtually on the sea shore.

OK Lovelock has called for nuclear, he is also on record as a Thatcher supporter, he is not the fount of all ecological wisdom.

For a good critique of the nuclear push see the special issue of New Internationalist on
the subject from 2005.
Lets have a look at George’s blog,


July 21, 2006
WHAT A LOVELY APOCALYPSE
George Marshall @ 4:03 pm
One of the reasons that people don’t accept climate change is that it is set too far in the future and that people only respond to immediate threats. Even if it is too late, one hopes that direct experience of freak weather will jolt people and wake them up.
Well, that’s the theory, but I am not sure that humans work like that. People across Europe and the US and being directly confronted with the excessive summer temperatures predicted by the climate models. Yesterday was the hottest July day in Britain since records began in the mid 17th century. Temperatures on buses in the hottest parts of Britain hit 52C yesterday while the London Underground reached 47C, 20 degrees higher than the maximum temperature allowed for transporting cattle.
But people are not making the connections. Everyone I talk to is saying how ‘lovely’ it is. ‘What a lovely day’ they say or ‘bit hot today- won’t it be nice to have a good lie down in the shade with a cold drink’. The media- or at least the liberally inclined parts of it- are talking about climate change, but the overall message undermines any sense of public concern.
All of the images in the newspapers are arty shots of bikini clad swimmers, people in deckchairs or, bizarrely, lions eating giant ice lollies made of blood. The evening news took us to a “local pub” to meet the people “celebrating”- yes they did use that word- the heatwave. And they they were, all ruddy faced and pickled giving a good cheer for the year long beach party to come. And then we went over to some boring and ambivalent scientist who told us that the “evidence suggested” that this “may” be due to climate change. Boring! Bring back the babes in bikinis!
People take their cues from the people and images around them. I think of all those fantastically happy people cheering Hitler’s arrival in Vienna during the Aschluss. How easy it is to be swept along by the crowd. How hard it is to stand apart.
We can choose how to respond, but at present we are actively conspiring to celebrate this catastrophe.
Comments (0)


Essentially it comes down to the fact that economy cannot grow for ever without wrecking the biosphere….this simple but enormous insight must made clear.

One solution = ecosocialism...join Green Left



New Internationalist

24 Jul 2006

Latvia - Neo-Nazis terrorise Riga Gay Pride rally

Had this from Outrage, Greens are campaigning hard against repression of sexual freedom in Eastern European..


Latvia - Neo-Nazis terrorise Riga Gay Pride rally

Armed guards called in to protect gays and lesbians

Homophobic threats declared a ‘state secret’ for five years

Peter Tatchell reports from Riga, Latvia – 22 July 2006

“Neo-Nazi, Christian fundamentalist and extreme nationalist protesters
terrorised participants at the Gay Pride rally in the Latvian capital
of Riga last Saturday (22 July 2006).

“Private armed guards were drafted in to provide security, after the
Latvian police repeatedly failed to halt the aggression of the
homophobic mob,” said gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of
OutRage! London.

Mr Tatchell attended and spoke at Riga Pride, at the invitation of the
organisers, the Latvian LGBT rights group, Mozaika. He witnessed
first-hand what happened there.

“Following the decision of the Latvian court to uphold the Riga City
Council’s ban on the gay pride march on 22 July, the planned march was
rescheduled by Mozaika as an indoor rally in the second floor
conference hall of the Reval Hotel Latvia, in the heart of downtown
Riga,” added Mr Tatchell.

“The Riga Pride rally in the Reval Hotel was under siege all day by
protesters from the anti-gay “No Pride” movement – a highly organised
alliance of Christian fundamentalists, ultra-nationalists and
neo-Nazis.

“They roamed the streets outside the hotel, looking for gays and
lesbians to attack. Anyone who looked gay was liable to abuse and
assault, even passing tourists. The police seemed to stand back and
let them to terrorise people with impunity.

“There was only a small police presence outside the Reval Hotel.
Officers allowed the around 250 highly belligerent anti-gay protesters
to completely blockade the hotel entrance. Several innocent guests
were assaulted by the mob, on mere suspicion that they were gay.

“At one point, a group of neo-Nazis infiltrated the second floor of
the hotel, where the indoor rally was taking place. They tore up
Mozaika posters, abused and threatened Riga Pride participants, and
assaulted openly gay pastor, Rev Maris Sants, as he arrived. Non-white
gays and lesbians were abused as ‘mixed race scum.’

“The hotel management feared the homophobic mob in the street would
try to storm the building and attack the Riga Pride rally upstairs.
They rushed in private security guards armed with hand guns. These
guards were stationed outside the hall where the rally was being held.
The hotel clearly had little confidence in the ability or willingness
of the Latvian police to protect the event.

“Many of the Riga Pride participants were trapped in the hotel for up
to seven hours; afraid of being attacked if they tried to leave. Over
several hours, participants were eventually evacuated in mini-buses
via a rear entrance. As they left, some of the vehicles were pounded
with fists and pelted with eggs by the anti-gay crowd.

“The No Pride protesters were very well organised. They had a
military-style operation. They seemed to know everything the Riga
Pride organisers had planned and were able to besiege every event the
moment it started.

“The decision to ban Riga Pride contradicts Latvia’s agreed commitment
to democracy and human rights as a member of the EU and the Council of
Europe. Violating Latvian and European law, it is an attack on the
right to protest and freedom of expression. This ruling sets a
dangerous precedent, which is a threat to the democratic rights all
the Latvians.

The ghastly events at the Reval Hotel capped off a day of
extraordinary homophobic attacks by the No Pride protesters.

“In the morning, a church service to celebrate Riga Pride, organised
by gay pastor, Rev Maris Sants, was attacked by a dozen No Pride
supporters. Worshippers were pelted with excrement and rotten fruit as
they tried to leave the church. Despite previously requesting police
protection, no police were present to protect the congregation. Dutch
MEP Sophie In’t Veld was one of the worshippers prevented from leaving
the church by the homophobic vigilantes.

At its 11am press conference, the Latvian LGBT group, Mozaika,
announced its decision to not defy the ban on the Riga Pride march.
They said they wanted to show themselves as moderate, reasonable,
law-abiding people – in contrast to the extremism of the far right
anti-gay protesters.

In the street outside the press conference, around 70 No Pride thugs
jeered and assaulted people as they try to leave. One of those
assaulted was Rev Maris Sants. As he went to his car, police ignored
his request for protection.

“Officials and supporters of Mozaika who attended the press conference
had to be rushed into waiting vans to be ferried away from the baying
homophobic crowd.

“As I left the press conference in a mini-bus with some of the Mozaika
leaders, we were chased by fascists in a four-wheel-drive who pelted
our vehicle with eggs. They buzzed us through the streets of Riga
until we got to the Reval Hotel.

“The inaction of the Latvian police was scandalous. They seemed to be
doing the absolute minimum to safeguard the Riga Pride participants.

“The day before, on Friday 21 July, the Administrative Court of Latvia
met to consider an appeal by Mozaika against the refusal of Riga City
Council to grant a permit for the Riga Pride march

“Justifying the ban on Riga Pride on public order grounds, the city
authorities said they had received threats of serious, organised
violence by homophobic religious, nationalist and fascist groups. They
claim Riga Pride is the ‘biggest security risk’ to the country since
Latvia won its independence from the Soviet Union.

“Despite this hype about security threats, Mozaika was fairly
confident that the judges would overturn the ban, as they did in 2005.
Our optimism was fuelled by the composition of the court. Two of the
three judges did not look conservative, conventional types. One had
pink stripes dyed in her hair and the other one wore ultra-stylish
bright lime green trainers.

“Their appearance was obviously deceiving.

“In a reversal of last year’s judgment, the court upheld the decision
of Riga City Council to deny Riga Pride the right to march.

“Although no official reasons were given for upholding the ban, inside
sources say the court made its ruling on ‘security grounds,’ based on
alleged violent threats against Riga Pride. The Latvian and Riga
authorities, backed by the police and the state security agencies,
claimed they would be unable to guarantee the safety of the Riga Pride
marchers.

“This explanation does not stand up. Latvia was able to guarantee
security for President Bush’s visit. It is guaranteeing security for
the Queen’s forthcoming state visit and for the NATO summit later this
year. If Latvia can provide security for these high-risk events, then
it is nonsense to suggest the police cannot protect 200 gay pride
marchers.

“The unwillingness of the judges to disclose the nature of the threats
or who made them is curious. Moreover, the judges took the
extraordinary step of declaring details of the threats a ‘state
secret’ which will remain classified, top secret information for five
years.

“The court met in closed session. Lawyers for Riga Pride were required
to sign a statement that they will not disclose anything about the
threats or the security grounds used to justify the ban – not even to
their clients.

“On Friday evening 21 July, ambassadors from many EU member states,
including the UK ambassador to Latvia, Ian Bond, attended Mozaika’s
Riga Pride reception at the Reval Hotel Latvia. It is understood that
many EU ambassadors and national governments plan to express to the
government of Latvia their disquiet at the banning of Riga Pride.

“The banning of Riga Pride echoes the bad old days of Soviet tyranny.

“It is scandalous that a member state of the EU has given in to
threats and blackmail by religious fundamentalists and the far right.

“The government of Latvia has a duty to resist threats of homophobic
violence, protect its gay citizens and safeguard the right to peaceful
protest.

“Riga Gay Pride was a litmus test of Latvian democracy and Latvia
failed the test.

“The ban conforms to a pattern of homophobia by the Latvian
authorities. The Latvian parliament recently refused to pass a law
prohibiting employment discrimination against lesbians and gays, even
though as a member state of the EU it is required to conform to EU law
by outlawing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Latvia has also banned same-sex marriage,” concluded Mr Tatchell.

For more information please contact:

Peter Tatchell
OutRage!
020 7403 1790

Juris Lavrikovs
Mozaika’s media coordinator
+ 371 22 43 1000

Kristine Garina
Mozaika board member
+371 294 131 55
+371 28 618 925

www.mozaika.lv

Ends

23 Jul 2006

US/UK HANDS OFF THE MIDDLE EAST! STOP WORLD WAR III!

GL organised a Green Party prescence on the anti-war demo, with Tim Summers producing a strong leaflet and Sian Berry, campaigns coordinator, famous for her anti-4 campaign bringing some 'Green Party-Stop global Warring' placards. Green Party London Councillor's Maya de Souza and Romayne Phoenix supported plus lots of us GPEW rank and file.

We obviously need to step up the protest, the whole of the Middle East is at risk of burning.

Here is Tim's statement.

US/UK HANDS OFF THE MIDDLE EAST! STOP WORLD WAR III!



Green Left statement for the Green Party of England & Wales.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and Lebanon demonstrates the descent to barbarism of US/UK foreign policy, to seize energy supplies and suppress the people of the Middle East and Central Asia, since the illegal attack and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Israeli Zionism is funded by $200,000,000 of US military aid each year as its main guard-dog of the Middle East. But their guard-dog is off the leash to invade and attack whole populations ‘in reprisal’ for actions of Hamas and Hezbollah, in blatant breach of Geneva Conventions of War and further undermining of any vestigial authority of the United Nations. President Bush and his servant Blair refuse to call a ceasefire, blaming “extremism” and particularly Syria and Iran, while planning further military action against them. Iraq and Afganistan remain deadlocked in permanent war – World War III!



As July’s G8 Summit in St Petersburg wound up, master strategist Bush was exposed by a live microphone, giving instructions to his poodle: “Yo Blair…you see the thing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hizbullah to stop doing this shit and it’s over…”.Blair wagged his tail and under cover of ‘Dunkirk’ evacuation, sent an assault ship, an aircraft-carrier and two destroyers at full speed to Beirut!



But Britain’s special relationship of a man and his dog is costing more than the constant roll-call of British Army casualties: media lies and censorship, total surveillance of society, dodgy extraditions/special renditions of suspects by secret aircraft to the CIA’s international torture centres. Internment of suspects without trial at Belmarsh Prison, Plumstead was Britain’s Guantanamo in breach of the Human Rights Act; now the Tories want to scrap the HRA altogether. Official ‘whitewash’ inquiries regularly excuse the guilty few and deny justice to the many innocent victims: the bogus dossier of Iraq’s WMD presented by John Scarlett in 2002 earned him the top job at MI6; Lord Hutton criticised no one for the death of Dr David Kelly; the MOD evades prosecution for Army atrocities in Iraq, Afganistan or its training barracks in Britain; unchecked police and MI5 disinformation; compulsory ID cards; secret ‘shoot to kill’ policies introduced behind the backs of people and Parliament for ‘security’. No security for innocent electrician Jean Charles de Menendez, held down and shot 8 times, 7 times in the head, after bungled surveillance labelled him a suspect. CPS propose that Police merely breached the Health & Safety Act, so that innocent taxpayers must foot their likely fine. No security either for residents of 2 houses in Forest Gate raided by 250 armed police in chemical proof suits at 4a.m., shooting a man in the shoulder as he inquired their business. No security for anyone in Britain facing the certainty of bloody reprisals like 7/7 arising from US/UK warcrimes in their permanent Middle Eastern and Central Asian energy war!



The Green Party warned of all these consequencies in our mass leaflet of 2002, and Green Party MEP Jean Lambert won the Human Rights Award for her work opposing such measures. Green Left has recently formed to raise more Green opposition to World War III and the ecological annihilation of life on our planet, so join us now!



Green Left for the Green Party,1A Waterlow Road, London N19

22 Jul 2006

Corporate Planet

Well why post this? The fact that the US economy is fuelled by military Keynesianism, by that fact that military spending creates profit is one of the reasons for war in the Middle East.

Blair is another reason, corporate government.

I am amazed by how many Ayn Rand fans one finds on the net, I always thought she was a fictional character....markets are never free.

This is from Babylon, its taken from the chapter looking critically at David Korten's ideas.....would value your feedback on how we change this, order Babylon from your library and spread the word....

See you on the Embankment at 11.30


Global government inc
Korten suggests that modern corporations are the ‘dominant governance institution on the planet’ (1999: 60). The Bush junior cabinet of 2000-2004 was, for example, staffed by key corporate figures. Andrew Card, Chief of Staff, was a former chief lobbyist for General Motors; as head of the American Automobile Manufactures Association, he led their $25 million campaign against stricter fuel emissions standards and the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. GM threw a lavish rooftop party when he joined the Bush administration. Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, the department in charge of parks and other public lands, was a former oil lobbyist. She headed the Coalition of Republican Environmental Advocates, a group funded by Ford and BP Amoco, which advocated abolishing the Endangered Species Act (Mensler/Corp Watch). Condolezza Rice, National Security Advisor, sat on the boards of Charles Schwab, Transamerican Corp and Chevron. Chevron christened a 130,000 oil tanker after her. Corporate influence is part of the two party system with firms often donating to both parties, Gore’s Presidential bid against Bush was bankrolled largely by law firms. The 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry is notoriously corporate friendly. For example, he used his position on the Senate Finance Subcommittee to support the merger of Fleet Boston Financial with the Bank of America. Fleet has consistently funded his congressional campaigns. The merger, which led to the loss of 2,500 jobs, was strongly opposed by local activists in New England.
In the UK, despite election spending limits, the governing party is usually linked to business interest. Mrs Thatcher was so supportive of McDonalds that she opened their UK headquarters in her parliamentary constituency of Finchley in North London. Her powerful press secretary Bernard Ingham went on to work for the corporation as their head of public relation. John Major’s Conservative government of 1992-97 was discredited by corporate based scandals involving Cabinet Ministers and ‘backbench’ Members of Parliament who took cash to ask parliamentary questions on behalf of business. Tony Blair’s governments have also been mired in allegations of corruption. Labour Party funding has increasingly come from transnationals. Prior to his 1997 General Election victory Blair was flown to a special tropical resort conference by the news magnate Rupert Murdoch. Best known for the genial Simpsons, the Murdoch empire also produces such pro-corporate staples as Fox TV and the Sun newspaper. The Murdoch press shifted support from the Conservatives to Labour. The Blair government has since reformed competition and media legislation in ways that benefit Murdoch’s News International. After Formula One racing boss Bernie Ecclestone gave large donations to the party, Labour allowed tobacco sponsorship for the sport to continue (Dunleavy et al 2000: 365).
From the power wielded by Russian oligarchs to the participation of Korean cheabols (corporations), big company influence on national governments, makes a global mockery of democracy. The London School of Economics based sociologist Leslie Sklair has identified the existence of globalising politicians who work for corporate interests by removing national barriers on trade and investment to benefit the transnationals. These politicians, often trained at neo-liberal economics departments such as Chicago, Harvard or the MIT, believe that economic prosperity can only be created or maintained by making life easier for transnationals. Representative democracy has effectively become a system of elite pluralism, where rival elite corporations may compete for influence but where others such as trade unionists, environmentalists, ordinary party members or the public have little or no say in the debate. Politics becomes more like business and opposition to capitalism or even just the worst excesses of corporate greed becomes impossible to voice (Sklair 2001).
Korten argues that corporations govern the globe and have created institutions such as the WTO to secure their power. Essentially, there is a shadow global government based upon hidden groups such as the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group who bring politicians, corporate heads, influential academics and journalists together (Korten 2001: 135; Sklar 1980). Typically, both the leaders of governing parties and those of the opposition in countries like the US, UK and Japan tend to go to Bilderberg events. The famously corporate friendly British European Commissioner Peter Mandelson is a Bilderberg figure (Ronson 2000: 127). The European Commission drives forward European Union legislation, which must be transformed into law by the individual EU states. The small number of European Commissioners are more powerful than most cabinet members and many Prime Ministers. Unelected, they seem rather to be selected for loyalty to the transnational capitalist class. Mandelson as EU trade commissioner provides a pro-business mouthpiece in WTO negotiations.
‘Free trade’ is, according to Sklair and Korten, driven by corporations. The WTO and trading blocs such as NAFTA allow large corporations access to new markets where they can sell goods to new sets of consumers. In turn, they can relocate production to countries where wages are low and they export without facing barriers such as import taxes (tariffs). It might be thought that nationally based firms would be resistant to allowing access to foreign competitors. Indeed one potential weakness of anti-corporate accounts of globalisation is the fact that different businesses may have opposing economic/political objectives. Thus in the US law firms might benefit from stronger rules on corporate behaviour and have therefore been more likely to support the mildly reformist Democrats, who could be prepared to clamp down on the worst excesses of destructive corporations. Chemical and oil corporations have tended to favour the Republicans who are more likely to reduce regulation. However, while disputes may exist, causing the state to act as a committee of corporations or an umpire between corporate interests, Sklair has found that corporations have an almost universal interest in ‘free trade’. He notes how the pro-NAFTA lobby included the US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Foreign Trade Council, US Council for International Business, National Retail Federation, Business Roundtable, and the American Farm Bureau Federation. In the run up to a Congress vote on NAFTA, the US Chamber of Commerce phoned every congressional representative daily. ‘No stone was left unturned. Even Miss Mexico spoke out for NAFTA as she was being crowned Miss Universe!’ (Sklair 2001: 102).
The General Agreement on Trade in Services extends free trade to 160 areas in the service sector and means that in principle WTO members will have to allow foreign companies to compete in the provision of postal services, telecommunications and healthcare. In preparation for competitive postal services, European Union postal services are being made to cut costs and raise charges to bring in profit. In the UK, thousands of local post offices are likely to close and there is a strong possibility that private competition will lead to ‘cherry picking’. Profitable postal services, for instance, those supplying the needs of large commercial interests in major cities, will attract investment, while rural services will close. Already in the UK, the post deliveries have been cut to once a day.
Privatisation leads to ‘insourcing’ where cheap, often illegal migrant labour is used to cut costs even further. The market is aided by the fact that workers are ‘illegalised’ when they migrate, so their fear of discovery by the authorities means that they are unlikely to join unions or complain about poor pay. Right wing media sources, in turn, demonise refugees rather than identifying corporations as a source of low pay and social instability.
Globalising politicians such as Tony Blair have been keen to bring in Private Finance Initiatives (PFI), which allow private corporations to fund and profit from the provision of roads, hospitals and schools, previously provided by the state for the community.
Naomi Klein in No Logo shows that firms have been keen to move into new areas of public life to strength their brands and exploit new markets. She notes, for example, how education is corporate dominated. Schools may be sponsored by transnationals, textbooks may contain adverts and university research is ever more dependent on grants from firms. Corporate control of areas of life that were provided by the state or local community has reached absurd lengths. When in 1998 Coca Cola ran a competition for schools to design a marketing plan for their product, one school, Greenbriar High School, Evans, Georgia, suspended a nineteen year old student for wearing a Pepsi t-shirt to the official Coke day celebrations (Klein 2000: 95). In 1996 the Centre for the Study of Human Ecology was thrown out of the University of Edinburgh, partly because it was felt to be an anti-corporate institution because of its research into capitalist driven ecological problems (Monbiot 2000: 281). The evidence provided by both Klein and Monbiot suggests that universities are increasingly centres for what is best described, with an apology to the oldest profession, as intellectual prostitution.
Corporations are territorially expansive, seeking control over more and more local markets globally. Their ambitions are also intensive, even totalitarian, as they seek to dominate almost every area of social life. Bus shelters and road signs are branded; in Scandinavia telephone calls made cheap by corporate sponsorship are interrupted by adverts. Sporting events like the Olympics are marketing bonanzas for the merchants of fat and fizz. Sklair believes that the power of corporations has created a new transnational capitalist class. He divides this class into four fractions including 1) transnational corporate executives and their local affiliates, 2) globalising bureaucrats and politicians, 3) globalising professionals and 4) retailers and media communities. All are committed to creating a single world corporate paradise.
Even ‘alternative’ politicians have been pulled into the transnational capitalist class. The centre ground Green 2000 faction of the UK Green Party who sought to make the Party more mainstream, created a business friendly environmental group Forum for the Future, sponsored by oil interests and airlines (Sklair 2001: 211). The German Greens under charismatic leader Joschka Fischer has become a party committed to the market: ‘Their ministers are among the more competent […] the party has ditched many leftist positions […] Today, younger Greens are not just environmentalists and socially liberal, but also fiscal conservatives.’ (Economist,10 June 2004)
Klein notes that while corporations enjoy a governing role, they are reluctant to pay the taxes necessary for the state to support their position. Transnationals negotiate to move production to free trade zones where they can enjoy tax ‘holidays’. Corporate welfare (where governments tax citizens and subsidise companies) is common especially in the US and within the free trade zones.

21 Jul 2006

EMERGENCY DEMONSTRATION

Green Left have coordinated a green response, march with us, we are meeting Cleopatra's needle, 11.30 tommorrow (22nd July) This is from the web, followed by draft statement from Tim Summers of Green Left.


EMERGENCY DEMONSTRATION
End Israel's Barbarism Now
London: Saturday 22 July
Whitehall Place, SW1, 12 Noon
(Nearest tube: Embankment. Please note there are some tube restrictions this weekend.)

Route: Whitehall Place, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Piccadilly, Berkeley Street, Grosvenor Square (by US Embassy), Park Lane, Hyde Park.

Organised by: Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Muslim Association of Britain, British Muslim Initiative, Lebanese organisations.

US/UK HANDS OFF THE MIDDLE EAST! STOP WORLD WAR III!



Green Left statement.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and Lebanon demonstrates the descent to barbarism of US/UK foreign policy, to seize energy supplies and suppress the people of the Middle East and Central Asia, since the illegal attack and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Israeli Zionism is funded by $200,000 of US military aid each year as its main guard-dog of the Middle East. But their guard-dog is off the leash to invade and attack whole populations ‘in reprisal’ for actions of Hamas and Hezbollah, in blatant breach of Geneva Conventions of War and further undermining of any vestigial authority of the United Nations. President Bush and his servant Blair refuse to call a ceasefire, blaming “extremism” and particularly Syria and Iran, while planning further military action against them. Iraq and Afganistan remain deadlocked in permanent war – World War III!



As July’s G8 Summit in St Petersburg wound up, master strategist Bush was exposed by a live microphone, giving instructions to his poodle: “Yo Blair…you see the thing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hizbullah to stop doing this shit and it’s over…”.Blair wagged his tail and under cover of ‘Dunkirk’ evacuation, sent an assault ship, an aircraft-carrier and two destroyers at full speed to Beirut!



But Britain’s special relationship of a man and his dog is costing more than the constant roll-call of British Army casualties: media lies and censorship, total surveillance of society, dodgy extraditions/special renditions of suspects by secret aircraft to the CIA’s international torture centres. Internment of suspects without trial at Belmarsh Prison, Plumstead was Britain’s Guantanamo in breach of the Human Rights Act; now the Tories want to scrap the HRA altogether. Official ‘whitewash’ inquiries regularly excuse the guilty few and deny justice to the many innocent victims: the bogus dossier of Iraq’s WMD presented by John Scarlett in 2002 earned him the top job at MI6; Lord Hutton criticised no one for the death of Dr David Kelly; the MOD evades prosecution for Army atrocities in Iraq, Afganistan or its training barracks in Britain; unchecked police and MI5 disinformation; compulsory ID cards; secret ‘shoot to kill’ policies introduced behind the backs of people and Parliament for ‘security’. No security for innocent electrician Jean Charles de Menendez, held down and shot 8 times, 7 times in the head, after bungled surveillance labelled him a suspect. CPS propose that Police merely breached the Health & Safety Act, so that innocent taxpayers must foot their likely fine. No security either for residents of 2 houses in Forest Gate raided by 250 armed police in chemical proof suits at 4a.m., shooting a man in the shoulder as he inquired their business. No security for anyone in Britain facing the certainty of bloody reprisals like 7/7 arising from US/UK warcrimes in their permanent Middle Eastern and Central Asian energy war!



The Green Party warned of all these consequencies in our mass leaflet of 2002, and Green Party MEP Jean Lambert won the Human Rights Award for her work opposing such measures. Green Left has recently formed to raise more Green opposition to World War III and the ecological annihilation of life on our planet, so join us now!

Anti-torture blog: close the escuela de golpes

To do something practical to stop torture, support the 'November 17-19, 2006: Converge at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia'to close the school of the Americas

I have signed up on the anti-torture blog roll, this involves a committment to blog on torture twice a month (click on the link to get involved with your blog). This is a matter of self interest for Greens in both China and Saudi Arabia underground Green Parties exist and are threatened with imprisonment and worse. The big torturer is China, which is a state that routinely abuses its population, but given its huge economic importance seems to face few sanctions. Today I want to flag up the School of the Americas, a US college for Latin American military leaders, the worst dictators and death squad leaders have been here and there is a big campaign to close it down. Mumia has written on it and sums up the historical background with his usual clarity. I have included an excellent LRB review on the invasion of South American by the USA!

For the campaign against the school, relocated from Panama to Georgia go toShut down the School of the Americas

This is one graphic example Rape and Torture of Sister Dianna Ortiz

1989. Guatemala. Sister Dianna Ortiz, a United States citizen, while working as a missionary, abducted and brutally tortured by Guatemalan security agents. "My back was burned over 100 times with cigarettes. I was gang-raped repeatedly. I was beaten, and I was tortured psychologically, as well--I was lowered into a pit where injured women, children, and men writhed and moaned, and the dead decayed, under swarms of rats. Finally, I was forced to stab another human being. Throughout the ordeal, my Guatemalan torturers said that if I did not cooperate, they would have to communicate with Alejandro. Hector Gramajo, former Guatemalan defense minister, a SOA graduate, was found liable in United States court. Cited in H. R. 611, introduced by Congressman Kennedy Feb 5, 1997, calling for the closure of the School of the Americas

The School of the American Empire
by Mumia Abu-Jamal, M.A.


#495 Column Written 2/10/2001 All Rights Reserved

"A society that becomes accustomed to using violence to solve its problems, both large and small,is a society in which the roots of human relations are diseased." -- Ignacio Martin-Baró, O.J.


It is virtually impossible for anyone to consider the horrific violence that has taken place in Central and Latin America, without accounting for the hideous roots of that violence, that grow and thrive in America.

For decades, the bloody flood from murders, massacres, rapes, torture and carnage, created a trail that could be traced to the doorsteps of a U.S. military training institution known as the School of the Americas, in Fort Benning, Georgia. Human rights activists have held increasingly swelling demonstrations at the SOA, and have dubbed it the "School of Assassins."

For years the Pentagon dismissed such criticism, and defended the SOA as an elite international training academy for "counter-insurgency," or, more obliquely, for "teaching democracy."

The graduates of SOA, however, constituted a kind of rogue's gallery of military despots and dictators, like Bolivia's Gen. Hugo Banzer Suárez, who brutally suppressed progressive church workers and striking tin miners; like Guatemalan dictator Gen. Romeo Lucas García (1978-82), whose rule saw over 5,000 political killings and about 25,000 civilians murdered by the
Guatemalan army; and Gen. Juan Rafael Bustillo, of El Salvador, former airforce chief, who, according to a U.N. report of 1993, both planned and then covered up the massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter, for starters.

If you mention a massacre, the chances are great that the men who either ordered or committed the deed were SOA grads. The El Mozote, El Junquillo, Las Hojas, and San Sebastian Massacres were all the work of SOA- trained "death squads." When four U.S. churchwomen were raped and murdered, when Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated, when union members were killed, it was SOA grads who led in the carnage. U.S.-trained and armed SOA people have been involved in so many military coups that in Latin America the school is known as the escuela de golpes-coup school.

Recently, the Defense Deptartment, stung by decades of negative publicity, officially "closed" SOA, only to immediately reopen it under the name Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Co-operation (WHISC). Although not as catchy as SOA, WHISC promises to play the same game, by another name. Shortly after the Jesuit murders, U.S.-trained Salvadoran troops surrounded the office of the Catholic archdiocese, and shouted, "Ignacio Ellacuría and Ignacio Martin-Baró have already fallen and we will continue murdering communists!" Ellacuría and Martin-Baró were two Jesuit priests involved in Christian base communities, where the poor learned literacy, history and how to organize for human rights in the midst of monstrous repression.
Martin-Baró was a brilliant liberation theologist and psychologist, who, like the revolutionary Frantz Fanon, chose the side of the oppressed rather than the rich and powerful oppressors.

For this he was targeted by the U.S.-trained terrorists of the SOA, and it is for men and women like him, who seek an end to economic and social oppression, that imperial training camps, like SOA/WHISC exist.

Its name has changed, but the game remains the same.
(c)MAJ 2001

******************************************************
This column may be reprinted and/or distributed by electronic means, but only for non-commercial use, and only with the inclusion of the following copyright information:

Text (c) copyright 2001 by Mumia Abu-Jamal. All rights reserved. Reprinted
by permission of the author.

Get Mumia's columns by email: http://www.MumiaBook.com
******************************************************

Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three Books: 'Live from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things Censored'. A new biography, 'On A Move: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal', is available at www.MumiaBook
Mumia sites: http://www.mumia2000.org">www.mumia2000.organd http://www.freemumia.org">www.freemumia.org

This is an excellent review from the London Review of Books, I sticking the whole thing in because of its background discussion of the central/latin American political situation.



LRB | Vol. 26 No. 22 dated 18 November 2004 | Corey Robin

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Dedicated to Democracy
Corey Robin

The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War by Greg Grandin · Chicago, 311 pp, £40.00

On 5 December 1982, Ronald Reagan met the Guatemalan president, Efraín Ríos Montt, in Honduras. It was a useful meeting for Reagan. 'Well, I learned a lot,' he told reporters on Air Force One. 'You'd be surprised. They're all individual countries.' It was also a useful meeting for Ríos Montt. Reagan declared him 'a man of great personal integrity . . . totally dedicated to democracy', and claimed that the Guatemalan strongman was getting 'a bum rap' from human rights organisations for his military's campaign against leftist guerrillas. The next day, one of Guatemala's elite platoons entered a jungle village called Las Dos Erres and killed 162 of its inhabitants, 67 of them children. Soldiers grabbed babies and toddlers by their legs, swung them in the air, and smashed their heads against a wall. Older children and adults were forced to kneel at the edge of a well, where a single blow from a sledgehammer sent them plummeting below. The platoon then raped a selection of women and girls it had saved for last, pummelling their stomachs in order to force the pregnant among them to miscarry. They tossed the women into the well and filled it with dirt, burying an unlucky few alive. The only traces of the bodies later visitors would find were blood on the walls and placentas and umbilical cords on the ground.

Amid the hagiography surrounding Reagan's death in June, it was probably too much to expect the media to mention his meeting with Ríos Montt. After all, it wasn't Reykjavik. But Reykjavik's shadow - or that cast by Reagan speaking in front of the Berlin Wall - does not entirely explain the silence about this encounter between presidents. While it's tempting to ascribe the omission to American amnesia, a more likely cause is the deep misconception about the Cold War under which most Americans labour. To the casual observer, the Cold War was a struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, fought and won through stylish jousting at Berlin, antiseptic arguments over nuclear stockpiles, and the savvy brinkmanship of American leaders. Latin America seldom figures in popular or even academic discussion of the Cold War, and to the extent that it does, it is Cuba, Chile and Nicaragua rather than Guatemala that earn most of the attention.

But, as Greg Grandin shows in The Last Colonial Massacre, Latin America was as much a battleground of the Cold War as Europe, and Guatemala was its front line. In 1954, the US fought its first major contest against Communism in the Western hemisphere when it overthrew Guatemala's democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, who had worked closely with the country's small but influential Communist Party. That coup sent a young Argentinian doctor fleeing to Mexico, where he met Fidel Castro. Five years later, Che Guevara declared that 1954 had taught him the impossibility of peaceful, electoral reform and promised his followers that 'Cuba will not be Guatemala.' In 1966, Guatemala was again the pacesetter, this time pioneering the 'disappearances' that would come to define the dirty wars of Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil. In a lightning strike, US-trained security officials captured some thirty leftists, tortured and executed them, and then dropped most of their corpses into the Pacific. Explaining the operation in a classified memo, the CIA wrote: 'The execution of these persons will not be announced and the Guatemalan government will deny that they were ever taken into custody.' With the 1996 signing of a peace accord between the Guatemalan military and leftist guerrillas, the Latin American Cold War finally came to an end - in the same place it had begun - making Guatemala's the longest and most lethal of the hemisphere's civil wars. Some 200,000 men, women and children were dead, virtually all at the hands of the military: more than were killed in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua and El Salvador combined, and roughly the same number as were killed in the Balkans. Because the victims were primarily Mayan Indians, Guatemala today has the only military in Latin America deemed by a UN-sponsored truth commission to have committed acts of genocide.

The Last Colonial Massacre reminds us that when we talk about America's victory in the Cold War, we are talking about countries like Guatemala, where Communism was fought and defeated by means of the mass slaughter of civilians. But Grandin is interested in more than tallying body counts and itemising atrocities. The task he sets himself is to locate this most global of contests in the smallest of places, to find beneath the duelling composure of superpower rivalry a bloody conflict over rights and inequality, to see behind a simple morality tale of good triumphing over evil the more ambivalent settlement that was - and is - the end of the Cold War. Mounting the most powerful case to date against the know-nothing triumphalism of Cold War historians and the smug complacency of the American media, Grandin's book also performs a modest act of restorative justice: it allows Guatemalans to tell their own stories in their own words. In a series of remarkable biographies Grandin shows how men and women made high politics and high politics made them, demonstrating that the Cold War was waged not only in the airy game rooms of nuclear strategists but 'in the closed quarters of family, sex and community'.

The book opens with an epigraph from Sartre: 'A victory described in detail is indistinguishable from a defeat.' The victory Grandin refers to here is singular and by now virtually complete: that of the United States over Communism. But the defeats he describes are various, their consequences still unfolding. First is the defeat of the Latin American left, whose aspirations ranged from the familiar (armed seizure of state power) to the surprising (the creation of capitalism). Next is the defeat of a continental social democracy which would allow citizens to exercise a greater share of power - and to receive a greater share of its benefits - than historically had been their due. Finally, and most important, is the defeat of that still elusive dream of men and women freeing themselves, thanks to their own reason and willed effort, from the bonds of tradition and oppression. This had been the dream of the transatlantic Enlightenment, and throughout the Cold War American leaders argued on its behalf (or some version of it) in the struggle against Communism. But in Latin America, Grandin shows, it was the left who took up the Enlightenment's banner, leaving the United States and its allies carrying the black bag of the counter-Enlightenment. More than foisting on the United States the unwanted burden of liberal hypocrisy, the Cold War inspired it to embrace some of the most reactionary ideals and revanchist characters of the 20th century.

According to Grandin, the Latin American left brought liberalism and progress to a land awash in feudalism. Well into the 20th century, he shows, Guatemala's coffee planters presided over a regime of forced labour that was every bit as medieval as tsarist Russia. Using vagrancy laws and the lure of easy credit, the planters amassed vast estates and a workforce of peasants who essentially belonged to them. Reading like an excerpt from Gogol's Dead Souls, one advertisement from 1922 announced the sale of '5000 acres and many mozos colonos who will travel to work on other plantations'. (Mozos colonos were indebted labourers.) While unionised workers elsewhere were itemising what their employers could and could not ask of them, Guatemala's peasants were forced to provide a variety of compulsory services, including sex. Two planters in the Alta Verapaz region, cousins from Boston, used their Indian cooks and corn grinders to sire more than a dozen children. 'They fucked anything that moved,' a neighbouring planter observed. Though plantations were mini-states - with private jails, stockades and whipping posts - planters also depended on the army, judges, mayors and local constables to force workers to submit to their will. Public officials routinely rounded up independent or runaway peasants, shipping them off to plantations or forcing them to build roads. One mayor had local vagrants paint his house. As much as anything Grandin cites, it is this view of political power as a form of private property which confirms his observation that by 1944 'only five Latin America countries - Mexico, Uruguay, Chile, Costa Rica and Colombia - could nominally call themselves democracies.'

And then, within two years, it all changed. By 1946, only five countries - Paraguay, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic - could not be called democracies. Turning the anti-Fascist rhetoric of the Second World War against the hemisphere's old regimes, leftists overthrew dictators, legalised political parties, built unions and extended the franchise. Galvanised by the New Deal and the Popular Front, reformers declared, in the words of the Guatemalan president Juan José Arévalo, that 'we are socialists because we live in the 20th century.' The entire continent was fired by a combination of Karl Marx, the Declaration of Independence and Walt Whitman, but Guatemala burned the brightest. There, a decades-long struggle to break the back of the coffee aristocracy culminated in the 1950 election of Arbenz, who with the help of a small circle of Communist advisers instituted the Agrarian Reform of 1952. This redistributed a million and half acres to a hundred thousand families, and also gave peasants a significant share of political power. Local land reform committees, made up primarily of peasant representatives, bypassed the planter-dominated municipal government and provided peasants and their unions with a platform from which to make and win their claims for equity.

Arguably the most audacious experiment in direct democracy the continent had ever seen, the Agrarian Reform entailed a central irony, critical to Grandin's argument about the Latin American left. The legislation's authors - most of them Communists - were not building socialism: they were creating capitalism. Scrupulous about property rights and the rule of law - peasants had to back their claims with extensive documentation; only unused land was expropriated; planters were guaranteed multiple rights of appeal, all the way to the president - the Agrarian Reform imposed a regime of separated powers that was almost as cumbersome as James Madison's Constitution. (According to one of the bill's Communist authors, 'it was a bourgeois law.' When grassroots activists complained about the slowness of reform, Arbenz responded: 'I don't care! You have to do things right!') As Grandin points out, the Agrarian Reform turned landless peasants into property owners, giving them the bargaining power to demand higher wages from their employers - in the hope that they would become 'consumers of national manufactures', while 'planters, historically addicted to cheap, often free labour and land', would be forced to 'invest in new technologies' and thereby 'make a profit'.

Guatemala's socialists did more than create democrats and capitalists. They also made peasants into citizens. While liberals and conservatives have long claimed that leftist ideologies reduced their adherents to automatons, Grandin shows that leftist ideals and movements awakened peasants to their own power, giving them extensive opportunities to speak for themselves and to act on their own behalf. Efraín Reyes Maaz, for example, was a Mayan peasant organiser, born in the same year as the Bolshevik Revolution. 'If I hadn't studied Marx I would be chicha ni limonada,' Reyes told Grandin. 'I'd be nothing. But reading nourished me and here I am. I could die today and nobody could take that from me.' Where other peasants seldom ventured beyond their plantations, the Communist Party inspired Reyes to travel to Mexico and Cuba, and he returned to Guatemala with the conviction that 'every revolutionary carries around an entire world in his head.' The Communist Party did not require Reyes to give up everything he knew; it gave him ample freedom to synchronise the indigenous and the European, making for a 'Mayan Marxism' that was every bit as supple as the hybrid Marxism developed in Central Europe between the wars. When anti-Communists put an end to this democratic awakening in 1954, it was as much the peasant's newfound appetite for thinking and talking as the planter's expropriated land that they were worried about. As Guatemala's archbishop complained, the Arbencistas sent peasants 'gifted with facility with words' to the nation's capital, where they were 'taught . . . to speak in public'.

Hoping to stifle this riot of thought and talk, Guatemala's Cold Warriors fused a romantic aversion to the modern world with the most up-to-date technologies of propaganda and violence (imported from the United States), making their effort more akin to Fascism than to a fight for liberal democracy. Here, Grandin again breaks new ground, capturing the delicate amalgam of reason and reaction, elitism and populism, that was the Latin American counter-revolution. Relying on the power of the Catholic Church, the regime that replaced Arbenz had prelates preach the gospel against Communism and socialism, and also against democracy, liberalism and feminism. Reaching back to the rhetoric of opposition to the French Revolution, the Church fathers characterised the Cold War as a struggle between the City of God and 'the city of the devil incarnate' and complained that Arbenz, 'far from uniting our people in their advance toward progress', 'disorganises them into opposing bands'. The Arbencistas, they claimed, were 'professional corrupters of the feminine soul', elevating women with 'gifts of proselytism or leadership' to 'high and well-paid positions in official bureaucracy'. Because the Church elders were sometimes too fastidious to whip up the masses, emigrés from Republican Spain, who were partial to Franco and Mussolini, frequently took their place, calling for a more ecstatic faith to counter Communism's appeal: 'We do not want a cold Catholicism. We want holiness, ardent, great and joyous holiness . . . intransigent and fanatical.'

While the Cold Warriors' ideals looked backwards, their weapons - furnished by the United States - looked forwards. (Indeed, one of the Americans' chief justifications for their interventions during the Cold War was that US involvement would contain not only Communism, but also, in the words of the State Department, a right-wing 'counterinsurgency running wild'. Instead of a savage 'white terror', US-trained security forces would work with the anti-Communist 'democratic left' - yesterday's third way - to fight a more 'rational', 'modern' and 'professional' Cold War.) During the 1954 coup, the CIA turned to Madison Avenue, pop sociologies and the literature of mass psychology to create the illusion of large-scale opposition to Arbenz. Radio shows spread rumours of an underground resistance, inciting wobbly army officers to abandon their oath to the democratically elected president. In subsequent decades, the CIA outfitted Guatemala with a centralised domestic intelligence agency, equipped with phones, radios, cameras, typewriters, carbon paper, filing cabinets, surveillance equipment - and guns, ammunition and explosives. The CIA also brought together the military and the police in sleek urban command centres, where intelligence could be quickly analysed, distributed, acted on and archived for later use. After these efforts achieved their most spectacular results, with the 1966 disappearance of Guatemala's last generation of peaceful leftists, guerrillas began seriously to organise armed opposition in rural areas. In response, the regime threw into the countryside an army so modernised - and well trained and equipped by the US - that by 1981 it could conduct the first colour-coded genocide in history: 'Military analysts marked communities and regions according to colours. White spared those thought to have no rebel influence. Pink identified areas in which the insurgents had limited presence; suspected guerrillas and their supporters were to be killed but the communities left standing. Red gave no quarter: all were to be executed and villages razed.'

Referring to a 1978 military massacre of Indians in Panzós, a river town in the Polochic Valley, the title of Grandin's book brilliantly evokes this mixture of modern and anti-modern elements. On 29 May that year, roughly five hundred Mayan peasants assembled in the town centre to ask the mayor to hear their complaints against local planters, which were to be presented by a union delegation from the capital. Firing on the protesters, a military detachment killed somewhere between 34 and a hundred men, women and children. At first glance, the massacre seems like nothing so much as a repetition of Guatemala's colonial past: humble Indian petitioners ask public officials to intercede on their behalf against local rulers; government forces in league with the planters respond with violence; Indians wind up floating down the river or go home. On closer inspection, the massacre bears all the marks of the 20th century. The Indians were led by leftist activists - one of them an indigenous woman - trained by clandestine Communist organisers. They worked with unions, based in the capital, reflecting the left's attempt to nationalise local grievances. For their part, the soldiers firing on the peasants were more than a local constabulary defending the interests of the planters. They were a contingent of Guatemala's newly trained army, spoke fluent anti-Communism, and wielded Israeli-made Galil assault rifles, suggesting not just the nationalisation but the internationalisation of Guatemala's traditional struggles over land and labour.

Though the Cold War in Latin America began as a tense negotiation between American rationalism and Latin revanchism, Grandin suggests that it ended with the US careening towards the latter. In a rerun of the fabled journey into the heart of darkness, US officials returned from their travels south echoing the darkest voices of the counter-Enlightenment. One embassy officer wrote to his superiors back home: 'After all hasn't man been a savage from the beginning of time so let us not be too queasy about terror. I have literally heard these arguments from our people.' A CIA staffer urged his colleagues to abandon all attempts at mass persuasion in Guatemala and instead direct their efforts at the 'heart, the stomach and the liver (fear)'. Seeking to destabilise Allende's Chile, another CIA man proclaimed: 'We cannot endeavour to ignite the world if Chile itself is a placid lake. The fuel for the fire must come from within Chile. Therefore, the station should employ every stratagem, every ploy, however bizarre, to create this internal resistance.' As Grandin writes, 'Will to set the world ablaze . . . faith in the night-side of the soul, contempt for democratic temperance and parliamentary procedure: these qualities are usually attributed to opponents of liberal civility, tolerance and pluralism - not their defenders.' With this plangent remark, Grandin concludes his remarkable tale, suggesting that the greatest defeat of the Cold War could be said to be that of America itself.

But there may have been one more defeat, which Grandin's book suggests not by explicit argument but by the force of its analysis. For all its violence and misery, the Cold War had the virtue of imposing on Western intellectuals, Communist and anti-Communist alike, the duty of historical intelligence. Marxism attracted its share of morally blind and politically repellent followers, but its varied currents carried scholars and writers - in happy or unhappy conveyance - to an unparalleled appreciation of the effects of time and place. Whether it was Lukács discerning the failed revolutions of 1848 in the stilted realism and archaic dialogue of Flaubert's Salammbô or Louis Hartz attributing American liberalism to the absence of feudalism in the United States or George Steiner hearing the 'hoofbeats' of Napoleon's armies in Hegel's Phenomenology ('the master statement of the new density of being'), Marxism pressed intellectuals of varying stripes to think about history's wayward intrusions. Even W.W. Rostow - the most anti-Communist of anti-Communism's 'action intellectuals', to borrow a phrase from Arno Mayer - was forced by the challenge of Marxism to offer an economic and political programme that tallied, however minimally, the persistent effects of colonialism throughout the postcolonial world.

But the collapse of Communism and disappearance of Marxism have eased the burdens of intelligence. With the market - and now religion - displacing social democracy as the language of public life, writers are no longer compelled by the requirements of the historical imagination. Facing a new enemy, which does not make the same demands that Communism once did, today's intellectuals wave away all talk of 'root causes': history, it seems, will no longer be summoned to the bar of political analysis - or not for the time being. Mimicking the theological language of their antagonists, contemporary writers prefer catchwords such as 'evil' and 'Islamo-fascism' to the vocabulary of secular criticism. Their language may be a response to 9/11, but it is a product of the end of the Cold War. When Marxism was banished from the political scene in 1989, it left behind no successor language - save religion itself - to grapple with the twinned fortunes of the individual and the collective, the personal and the political, the present and the past. That Grandin has managed to salvage some portion of that historical vision from the dustbin of history suggests not only his resourcefulness, but also the timeliness of this most untimely of meditations.

Corey Robin, author of Fear: The History of a Political Idea, teaches political science at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City Univerity of New York.

19 Jul 2006

March with Green Party against war

Green Left are mobilising in our modest way against the war. We believe in non violence, we oppose Isreali aggression and the kidnappings. March with us for peace.

'There will be an emergency demonstration in London on Saturday calling for an end to Israeli attacks on Lebanon and no attacks bu either Israel or UK/US on Iran or Syria. Both the national Campaigns Coordinator and the London Campaigns Officer will be present with placards and materials. Members of Green Left are also distributing leaflets on the march.

Can as many Green Party members as possible come to the demo? This is an extremely serious situation in the Middle East. Greens are meeting at Cleopatra's Needle on the Embankment at 11.30am.

Joseph Healy
GPRC International Friend

Hottest day of the year points to global warming

Hot, hot, hot...into London to see the wind that shakes the barley, hate to think how hot it will be, there is talk of breaking the July record which is 36....normally the average for July is 23.

The summers always seem very hot, compared to when I was a child back in the 1970s, one summer does not make for global apocalpyse but these are worrying. The real issue is that we have an economy, a capitalist economy, that works best the more that is produced and consumed. Everything else has to serve the process of throughput through the collective human gut. Blair and the rest don't critique capitalism, the far left are generally productivist and the Greens in a cold political climate rarely have the courage to say how it really is.

As Clinton used to say 'It's the Economy, Stupid'....we need to work less, we need to make goods to last longer, we need to share more, we need a permaculture economy, an organic, largely localised economy, an open source economy....the present economy is a bonfire, we need to keep shoving more waste on to stop it going out, quite clearly it's burning the world.

Scepticism about the conventional economic system is the alpha and omega of my politics...its getting hotter, the demand for ecosocialism must be made.

18 Jul 2006

LabourStart editor Eric Lee backs Israel*s war

labournet editor Eric Lee has come out in favour of Isreal's attacks, this seems madness, some calls for calm seem more appropriate.

here is my reply to Lee

This seems way off the mark, I can understand why many people who have friends and family in Israel might support much of what the current government has done, equally I can an understand why many people might reject the 'islamofascism' of Hamas.

However the Isreali response, even if one is broadly supportative of the Israel state, is crazy. Hundreds of people in the Lebanon who have nothing to do with Islamofascism have been killed.

Lets face it Israeli action, the action of Bush and Blair, breed Salifism of the worst kind and weaken secular and moderate opposition to oppression.

I can imagine some difficult debates in the political organisation I belong to (Green Party) over the middle east, I can't imagine a single member supporting the bombing of Beirut!

its worth quoting Keith Taylor's excellen statement from the Green Party

Keith Taylor makes plea for calm in Middle East

14th Jul 2006

Israel's actions 'entirely disproportionate'

Israel is imposing an air and sea blockade on Lebanon as part of a major offensive after two soldiers were seized by the militant group Hezbollah.

Green Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor, who is a UN Peace Messenger commented: "Israel's decision to send its warships into Lebanese water to block ports, and blow up the runways of Lebanon's only international airport is an entirely disproportionate action.

"This is a brutal and hugely destructive invasion. Israel's actions are not justified. The rules of 'just war theory' say that for a war to be just every action in it has to be proportionate.

"Brig. Gen. Dan Halutz, the Israeli army chief, said today 'Nothing is safe (in Lebanon), as simple as that.' This risks thrusting Lebanon back into the worst years of the war. Israel is risking a dangerous spiral of violence which could destabilise the entire region. "

"We condemn the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers and call for their safe release - but we should be consistent and not forget that Israel is holding 9,600 Palestinian political prisoners, over half of whom are being held without trial and nearly 400 of whom are children under 18."

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. But this isn't even an eye for an eye. It's more like a trail of corpses, including entirely innocent civilian corpses, for each kidnapping.


>* LabourStart editor Eric Lee backs Israel*s war
>http://www.labournet.net/other/0607/ericlee1.html
>
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>at labournetuk@poptel.org
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>
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>
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17 Jul 2006

Britain's asylum system is out of control

Please read and support, asylum seekers are being kicked out of Britain to be imprisoned or even killed because of their sexuality...


I am forwarding this message from John Hunt, which appeared on the LGBT list, as it concerns asylum seekers, an issue which GL has been active in recently.

Joseph Healy

The leaflet below was distributed at tonight's meeting
at London's City Hall of the Quarterly LGBT Forum.

And I'm pleased to say that I was not the only LGBT Green present.

John.

Deportations / "Removals"
Coalition aims to change Home Office policy

One of this year's IDAHO events in London was a demonstration outside the Home Office, attended by Liberal Democrat President and Shadow Attorney General, Simon Hughes MP, against the deportation of LGBT refugees to face homophobic persecution in their home countries. At EuroPride another protest highlighting the same issues targeted Pride sponsor British Airways, which just three weeks before had deported Elizabeth to Uganda, where she had been imprisoned as a lesbian, despite support by two MP's and a professional medical assessment attesting to the severity of her condition.

Britain's asylum system is out of control. Home Office ministers preside over a regime of corruption, lawlessness and inhumanity. The Home Office frequently maintain that months of forced labour, water torture, whipping, beating, and repeated rape in prison do not constitute persecution.

Elizabeth's case is just one of many that occur in the UK every year. Faced with being deported back to Iran, a gay man doused himself in petrol in the offices of Refugee Action and burned himself alive: one of at least 14 asylum-seekers who have committed suicide over three years in Britain, rather than be deported.

Because of cuts in legal aid, gay refugees are forced to turn to Home Office-nominated solicitors who have no expertise in gay cases and no knowledge of the specialist evidence needed to win a gay asylum claim. After humiliating questioning, and despite evidence of severe homophobic persecution, Immigration Appeal Tribunals dismiss many applications by genuine LGBT refugees, claiming that gay people will not be at risk of victimisation in violently homophobic countries like Jamaica, Iran, Algeria and Zimbabwe if they hide their identity, avoid effeminate mannerisms, and have sex, if at all, only with extreme discretion!

As there are no guidelines or training for Home Office staff or judges on how to deal with LGBT asylum seekers, there is a frequent lack of sensitivity and understanding: despite existing policy that sexuality is a common immutable characteristic. Language barriers and reticence to talk openly about sexuality are compounded by translators who are from the same homophobic culture that the asylum claimant fled. Refugees "in detention" are often abused by other inmates, or even by staff.

The following aims have been identified. –

-- Home Office policy should not permit innocent asylum-seekers to be deported to countries where they risk death, imprisonment, torture, or other persecution.

-- The Home Office must institute and implement robust policy on sexual orientation, including thorough staff training and monitoring effectiveness.

-- Airlines [and other carriers] should not deport asylum-seekers to countries where they risk death, imprisonment, torture, or other persecution.

-- LGBT organisations should all be encouraged to institute and implement robust policies against suppliers and sponsors that practise any form of homophobia.

To add your organisation's name in support, email asylum@rosecottage.me.uk

galha.org.uk greenparty.org.uk lgbtgreens.org.uk
lgcm.org.uk medicaljustice.org.uk outrage.org.uk