The stakes are high, but with enough pressure from below, David Cameron’s plan to bomb Syria can be defeated.
WE HAVE the biggest opportunity since the start of the Iraq war to make a real change in foreign policy. The aggressive, interventionist policy that has done so much damage is now at the heart of a great contest in British society.
Jeremy Corbyn is facing a massive onslaught from all sections of the establishment. No one can envy him this experience, and the prime question is how we defend him from these attacks and build support for the policies that got him elected as Labour party leader with such a huge majority.
When the right wing is this hysterical, the establishment this panicked, and the media this vitriolic, you know there is just a chance something good might be in reach.
In the next few weeks and months there are going to be a series of stand-offs around foreign policy issues, including almost certainly a vote in parliament on bombing Syria, the outcome of the Iraq war inquiry report, and of course the madness of renewing Trident.
Few mainstream commentators have the wherewithal to understand Corbyn’s victory. They first speculated about left-wing entryism, then they focussed on his ‘style’, now they’ve decided to ignore the scale of his mandate.
Of course Jeremy is different, he wears jumpers and shockingly he tends to say what he thinks. But whatever the media would like to think, his success is not about the way he does what he does, it is about the issues he has brought to the forefront of British politics.
The real nightmare for the establishment is that millions of people agree with him about austerity, about war, and about the shocking state of official politics.
What alarms the mainstream is the energy and enthusiasm generated by his campaign to become leader of the Labour party, much of it due to the protest movements that he has supported so tirelessly over decades, including crucially the anti-war movement.
A return to protest
But if the Corbyn surge was powered partly at least by the movements, we have to make sure that what he has achieved in turn reinvigorates protest.
We know that Corbyn can’t do it alone. And we know too that there are a lot of people around him who — to put it politely — don’t agree with him. Within days of his leadership victory, there were very public briefings against him by a serving UK army general, two of his cabinet ‘colleagues’, including the shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, and Sadiq Khan, Labour’s newly selected candidate for London mayor.
Quite simply, Jeremy Corbyn is going to need all the help he can get.
It is clear also, that despite the disasters of the last fourteen years, the British political establishment is desperate to maintain its role as chief cheerleader for US military interventionism. And having scented rebellion against Corbyn among Labour MPs, they have a new confidence about winning a vote to bomb Syria, and at the same time damaging the party’s anti-war leader.
A plan of action: stopping the bombing of Syria
The main task must be to extend the enthusiasm and energy generated by his campaigning over the past months into every local community, workplace and college.
The more people are actively engaged in the campaign to stop the drive to war in Syria, and in the anti-austerity movement, the more we will be defending Jeremy Corbyn under such relentless attack.
How can we do this?
For the anti-war movement, we need to get onto the streets in every area and onto campuses with leaflets, petitions, posters, badges, etc, drawing people into an ever-widening network of activists for peace.
We need to re-invigorate local anti-war groups and start new groups where none exist. While organising locally, the untimate focus will be on parliament and the need to break the consensus that always takes Britain into disastrous wars on the coat tails of the United States.
In 2013, mass pressure on MPs, coupled with the memory of Tony Blair’s catastrophic war on Iraq, delivered an unprecedented defeat for the government, as David Cameron tried to bounce parliament into supporting the bombing of Syria’s Assad regime.
Now Cameron hope that by switching the target to ISIS, he can reverse that defeat and take the UK into yet another pointless war that will serve no purpose, other than to create more death and chaos, and drive more refugees to flee the war zone.
We need to implement immediately a comprehensive lobbying of MPs:
- Use the online lobby tool to contact MPs
- Send letters to MPs’ constituency offices
- Get letters in local newspapers
- Organise group visits to MPs’ regular surgeries to deliver petitions collected locally
There needs to be a particular focus on MPs who have vowed publicly to defy Jeremy Corbyn, so they understand the scale of the opposition to waging war in Syria.
War and the refugee crisis
The links between the refugee crisis and the wars our government so enthusiastically backs need to be underlined continually in our campaigning.
It is scandalous that David Cameron thinks promising to take twenty thousand refugees over five years is an adequate response to the migration or 60 million people fleeing war, conflict and poverty.
It is also outrageous that he wants to respond to people fleeing war-torn countries by intensifying the bombing of Syria — one of the main causes of the crisis.
The most effective thing that the West could do to end this misery is to de-escalate, stop arming regional dictators and aggressors and encourage a negotiated settlement in Syria. We need to develop and promote these arguments everywhere.
Isis is clearly a horrible organisation whose presence makes our arguments harder. We have to tackle the debate head on by having the most high profile possible public meetings and forums we can in each area.
A plan of action: the anti-austerity movement
Stop the War has always contrasted the vast government expenditure on the military and weapons of mass destruction, and the draconian austerity cuts to public and welfare services. Billions are spent on the UK war machine at the same time that brutal cuts in benefits are driving some desperate victims to suicide.
The protests at the Conservative Party conference from 3 October will help shape the political landscape over the next months. Tens of thousands will be protesting there, not just on the opening day – 4 October – but for the whole week. The anti-war message needs to be heard loud and clear by the movement, by the media and by the politicians.
Time is tight — the flashpoints are imminent, and we need to act now.
Within a few days of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader over 120 new members joined Stop the War Coalition, an indication that the movements that underpinned his victory are recognised as central to defending him.
The stakes are high. With enough pressure from below, David Cameron’s government’s plan to bomb Syria can be defeated for a second time, which would be a long term humiliation for the warmongers.
We also need a big campaign and protest over the scandalous delay in publishing the Iraq war inquiry report, blocked it appears by those — like Tony Blair and Jack Straw — likely to be criticised by Chilcot. With Jeremy Corbyn declaring that Tony Blair should be held to account for alleged war crimes, there is a real prospect that Blair could be driven out of public life once and for all.
Next year parliament will vote on the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons system, at a projected cost of over £100billion. The Campaign for Nuclear disarmament is already mounting a concerted campaign to get MPs to vote against. A huge protest movement before parliament votes will intensify that pressure.
The moment a vote on bombing Syria is announced, Stop the War will call a protest, but the success, the scale, and the impact of that protest depends on what we all do in the next few weeks. Its up to us.
Seven months ago, UK Prime Minister David Cameron lamented the “sickening murder” of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kaseasbeh by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). President Barack Obama also decried the “viciousness and barbarity” of the act. In his home country, al-Kaseasbeh was remembered as a “hero” and a “martyr” by government officials. Obama even declared his murder demonstrated ISIS’s “bankrupt” ideology. The killing was seen by the Western coalition and allied Arab monarchies fighting ISIS as a symbol of the evilness of their enemies, and by contrast the righteousness of their own cause.
The act that precipitated such a strong outpouring was the purported execution of the 26-year-old al-Kaseasbeh. He was burned alive inside a cage after several months in captivity. As part of ISIS’s propaganda campaign, they posted the video on Youtube. The authenticity of the video has since been questioned, but there is no doubt that regardless of the method used, he was indeed killed.
Al-Kaseasbeh was not an innocent civilian. In fact, he was a pilot in the Royal Jordanian Air Force who was bombing territory controlled by ISIS in an F-16 fighter jet. That is to say, he was an active combatant in military hostilities. His combatant status would be equivalent to an ISIS pilot (if they had an Air Force) apprehended after bombing New York City or London. Though it was reported in the British newspaper The Telegraph that al-Kaseasbeh was “kidnapped,” a military combatant engaged in armed conflict on the battlefield cannot be kidnapped. He was captured.
According to the Geneva Conventions, Prisoners of War enjoy protected status that guarantees their humane treatment and eventual release at the end of hostilities. “POWs cannot be prosecuted for taking a direct part in hostilities. Their detention is not a form of punishment, but only aims to prevent further participation in the conflict. They must be released and repatriated without delay after the end of hostilities,” writes the International Committee of the Red Cross.
ISIS would have no legal grounds to kill al-Kaseasbeh, but it was cynical and sanctimonious for the Western coalition to react with such outrage when he was killed. Those same countries have embraced and celebrated summary assassinations and executions on a scale far more massive than anything ISIS could ever be capable of.
Several weeks ago, Cameron ordered the assassination of two British citizens in Syria alleged to be ISIS militants.
“The strike against British citizen Reyaad Khan, the ‘target of the strike,’ was committed without approval from Parliament. British citizen Ruhul Amin, who was killed in the strike, was deemed an ‘associate’ worthy of death,” writes Kevin Gosztola in Shadowproof.
The British government has not declared war on Syria and has not released any legal justification for its actions. Naturally, any legal documentation they did produce would be merely psuedo-legal cover that would never withstand real judicial scrutiny.
Cameron’s actions in ordering the murder of his own citizens follows the well-treaded path of Obama, whose large-scale drone program in as many as seven countries (none of which the US Congress has declared war on) have killed more than 2,500 people in six years. The President has quipped that he is “really good at killing people.”
By any measure, the drone assassination program has been wildly reckless and ineffective. One study determined that missile strikes from unmanned drones, launched by remote-control jockeys in air-controlled trailers in the American desert, kill 28 unknown people for every intended target. In Pakistan, a study revealed that only 4% of those killed have been identified as members of al Qaeda.
Among the victims have been 12 people on their way to a wedding in Yemen, and a 13-year-old boy who said that he lived in constant fear of “death machines” that had already killed his father and brother before taking his own life.
“A lot of the kids in this area wake up from sleeping because of nightmares from then and some now have mental problems. They turned our area into hell and continuous horror, day and night, we even dream of them in our sleep,” the now-deceased boy, Mohammed Tuaiman, told The Guardian.
Before Cameron did so, Obama also targeted citizens of his own country for assassination without trial. The most well known case is of Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a drone strike in 2011. The government claimed he was operationally active in al-Qaeda, but this was never tested in court.
“It is likely the real reason Anwar al-Awlaki was killed is that he was seen as a radicalizer whose ideological activities were capable of driving Western Muslims to terrorist violence,” writes Arun Kundnani in The Muslims Are Coming!.
In other words, the Obama administration decided his speech was not protected by the 1st amendment to the US Constitution, and rather than being obligated to test this theory in court they unilaterally claimed the right to assassinate him, the way King John of England would have been able to order the execution of one of his subjects before signing the Magna Carta 800 years ago.
Three weeks later, al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son was killed in a drone strike. An Obama adviser justified the strike by saying he should have “had a more responsible father.”
Writing on his blog, former British security services officer Craig Murray claims that in light of the decision 20 years ago by the European Court of Human Rights that targeted assassinations when an attack was no imminent were illegal, the British government cannot claim its drone strike in Syria “is anything other than murder.”
“For the government to claim the right to kill British people through sci-fi execution, based on highly unreliable secret intelligence and a secret declaration of legality, is so shocking I find it difficult to believe it is happening even as I type the words. Are we so cowed as to accept this?” Murray writes.
So what makes ISIS’s killing supposedly morally outrageous compared to the US and British drone strikes?
Was ISIS’s killing less morally justified? Al-Kaseasbeh was a combatant who had been dropping bombs on the people who eventually killed him. That much is beyond dispute. The US and UK kill people through drone strikes merely for being suspected militants who might one day seek to attack those countries.
Were ISIS’s methods less humane? Certainly burning a human being alive is sadistic and cruel. But is it any less so to incinerate a human being by a Hellfire missile? Former drone operator Brandon Bryant told NBC News that he saw his victim “running forward, he’s missing his right leg… And I watch this guy bleed out and, I mean, the blood is hot.” Is a drone strike less cruel because the operator is thousands of miles away from the bloodshed and watching on a screen rather than in person?
Were ISIS’s actions terrorism while the US/UK actions were not? As the late Mohammed Tuaiman attested, he and his neighbors were terrified by the omnipresence of the “death machines” that could at any second of the day blow him to pieces without warning or the possibility of escape. Were the people in ISIS controlled territory as terrorized as Tuaiman by the burning of the Jordanian pilot, who was specifically targeted because he had been caught after bombing the same people who now held him captive? Surely they were not more terrorized, though perhaps they might have been equally so.
It would by hypocritical to justify one form of extrajudicial killing while demonizing another. Yet that is exactly what happens when one form of violence is undertaken by a state and another is not. The New York Times is indicative of broader public opinion when it decries the “fanatical vision” of ISIS that has “shocked and terrified the peoples of Iraq and Syria,” while accepting Obama’s rationalizations of deaths via drone strikes as collateral damage, maintaining only that he should “provide a fuller accounting” to enable an “informed debate.”
The apologies for state violence enable the shredding of the rule of law as a method of accountability for those in power, while other states take advantage of technical advances to proliferate their own sci-fi violence against their own citizens and others.
“Pakistan is the latest member of a growing technological club of nations: those who have successfully weaponized drones,” writes Spencer Ackerman in The Guardian. “In addition to the US, UK and Israel, a recent New America Foundation report highlighted credible accounts that Iran, South Africa, France, China and Somalia possess armed drones, as do the terrorist groups [sic] Hamas and Hezbollah. Russia says it is working on its own model.”
One day in the not too distant future, the skies across the world may be full of drones from every country dispensing justice from Miami to Mumbai via Hellfire Missiles, relegating the rule of law and its method of trial by jury to the ash heap of history. And it will not be because of terrorist groups like ISIS that governments and the media are so forceful to condemn, but because of governments themselves and their lapdogs in the media who refuse to apply the same standards in judging violence to states that have their own Air Forces.
LONDON — The Labour party, which elected Jeremy Corbyn its new leader on Saturday, has become a threat to the United Kingdom’s national and economic security, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday.
“The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family’s security,” Cameron wrote in his Twitter account.
Corbyn has been widely referred to as one of the most “rebellious” members of UK parliament, as he had opposed Britain’s participation in the Iraq war, and spoke against the renewal of the British Trident nuclear deterrent infrastructure.
Also on Saturday, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon also said that Corbyn’s triumph will negatively affect the lives of ordinary Britons.
The Conservative party fears that Corbyn would breach a consensus between the two major British parties on major issues, such as nuclear weapons, taxation and others.
Corbyn won the UK Labour Party’s leadership race on Saturday obtaining some 59.5 percent of votes in the first round.
The British prime minister, David Cameron, places great emphasis on how he is regarded by the public at home and internationally. His personal promotion machine is extensive and highly-paid and his staff feed the media diligently with what they imagine to be positive slants on his character and actions (and with carefully selected photographs of his pretty wife). They provide advance copies of his speeches to favoured journalists with the annoying consequence that news broadcasts rarely report what the prime minister has just said on a topic. They are futuristic and use the infuriating phrase “the prime minister will say today that” he will propose something or other.
The reason for this is that if there should be adverse reaction to whatever sparkling new initiative he wants to put forward to the public, then the spin-doctors can make hasty amendments in order to avoid upsetting people. It is school playground stuff, but then a great deal of British politics is playground oriented.
Unfortunately for his image, Cameron sometimes says things without first putting a finger in the water to test the temperature, and he also says things that betray his appalling ignorance of life.
One of the unrehearsed things he said that he may well regret in future concerns his unscripted policy on bombing people. It was reported on 27 July that he said “he was ready to order air strikes on Islamist militant targets in Libya and Syria to prevent attacks on the streets of Britain as he stepped up his rhetoric against Islamic State insurgents.” From this it is clear the British prime minister wants his country to go to war again and bomb Libya as it did last time he ordered air strikes on that ill-fated country.
It was Cameron who was responsible for Britain’s enthusiastic participation in the 2011 aerial bombing and rocketing that destroyed Libya. In March 2011 he declared that “Tough action is needed to ensure that people in Libya can lead their lives without fear and with access to the basic needs of life. That is what the Security Council requires, that is what we are seeking to deliver.” And he and his fellow thugs delivered catastrophe.
When the US-NATO onslaught ceased, after the murder of Libya’s president, we were told that the war had been successful in achieving democracy by bombing. It might be summed up in the sniggering proclamation of Ms Hillary Clinton, on CBS on 20 October 2011 that so far as the killing of Gaddafi was concerned “We came, we saw, he died.” What a truly civilised statement from the likely next president of the United States.
Two weeks before Ms Clinton’s humorous observation Mr Cameron said “I’m an optimist about Libya; I’ve been an optimist all the way through and I’m optimistic about the National Transitional Council and what they are able to achieve. I think when you look at Tripoli today, yes, of course, there are huge challenges — getting water to that city, making sure there is law and order — but actually so far, the cynics and the armchair generals have been proved wrong.”
The “cynics and armchair generals” — who might be better described as experienced realists — were right in predicting that the country’s collapse was inevitable; just as they had been right about forecasting chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand, two highly placed intellectuals, Ivo Daalder, who was the US Permanent Representative on the NATO Council during the US-NATO war, and Admiral James G (“Zorba”) Stavridis, who was at that time US Supreme Allied Commander Europe (the military commander of NATO), agreed wholeheartedly with Cameron and wrote in 2012 in the journal Foreign Affairs that:
“NATO’s operation in Libya has rightly been hailed as a model intervention. The alliance responded rapidly to a deteriorating situation that threatened hundreds of thousands of civilians rebelling against an oppressive regime. It succeeded in protecting those civilians and, ultimately, in providing the time and space necessary for local forces to overthrow Muammar al-Gaddafi.”
According to these expert analysts, Libya was liberated and became a free country thanks to US-NATO. And they were supported by columnists like Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times who wrote that “Libya is a reminder that sometimes it is possible to use military tools to advance humanitarian causes.” What a bunch of buffoons. Their statements would be hilarious were they not so obscenely bizarre, because Libya has collapsed into anarchic ruin — as forecast by the “armchair generals” so despised by Cameron and all the others who have never heard a shot fired in anger.
In April 2015 the saintly International Red Cross observed that “The violence shows no sign of abating. Libya remains a patchwork of conflict, fuelled by a plethora of armed groups with varying allegiances and diverse agendas. Thousands have been killed; hundreds of thousands more have been displaced. The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.”
The unelected rabble that is supposed to be a government in Libya has its very own set of Guantanamo Bays in which Human Rights Watch reported that “the Libyan Army and the Interior Ministry’s Counter Terrorism Unit are holding about 450 “security detainees” in connection with the current conflict. Of those visited, 35 detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were tortured on arrest, under interrogation, or during their detention. Thirty-one said interrogators forced them to “confess” to crimes; four said that the authorities then broadcast their “confessions” on TV, leading to reprisal attacks on their families. All of the detainees Human Rights Watch interviewed said they had not been given access to lawyers, taken before a judge, or formally charged despite many months of detention.” From what freedom-loving democracy could the Libyans have learned to keep people in detention indefinitely without trial?
There have been no comments on the anarchic shambles in Libya by such as Nicholas Kristoff who rejoiced in 2011 that he had “Just arrived in Tripoli, Libya, after a wild ride from the Tunisian border. But Tripoli is festive, joyful and reasonably secure, its streets full of shoppers and honking cars, celebrating the end of Ramadan and the end of dictatorship. People are hugely welcoming to an American, and very grateful.”
When Gaddafi ruled Libya its citizens had ample water from many sources, not least being his “Great Man-Made River” which brought water from southern aquifers to the dense population of the coastal north. But the US-NATO blitz damaged or destroyed so many power stations and pipeline facilities that this supply has all but ceased.
Amnesty International reports savage religious persecution (unknown in Gaddafi’s time) and records that “the international community has stood and watched as Libya has descended into chaos since the 2011 NATO military campaign ended, effectively allowing militias and armed groups to run amok.” The Christian organisation Open Doors records that “Since the downfall of Gaddafi, the situation for Christians in Libya has deteriorated. The government claims all Libyans are Sunni Muslims; it is illegal to bring Arabic Bibles into the country or to evangelise.”
So much for David Cameron’s idiotic statement that “I’ve been an optimist all the way through” about Libya. This is the man who declared in 2011 that his bombing would ensure that Libyan citizens would have “access to the basic needs of life.”
During their war on Libya, Obama and Cameron jointly declared that “We are convinced that better times lie ahead for the people of Libya.” Tell that to the millions of Libyans whose lives have been wrecked by NATO’s “model intervention” as it’s described by the two imbeciles, Daalder and Stavridis, who did so much to destroy a nation.
Yet David Cameron imagines that more bombing will solve all the problems, and on 26 July the UK’s Daily Telegraph, whose editors and journalists are in the pockets of Cameron’s spin-doctors, was happy to disclose that “Mr Cameron has ordered officials to begin planning for a new intervention in Libya, which has become a haven for Isil jihadists.” Cameron “was asked if there was a case for strikes on Isil in Libya, where the gunman who massacred Britons in Tunisia was trained,” and replied “That is my job, my duty as Prime Minister if there is a specific threat and you can act to stop it, you should act to stop it wherever it is and you are allowed under international law to do exactly that. I think that is very important.”
The reason Libya has become a haven for fanatical loonies is because it was struck mercilessly in a seven month aerial blitz that destroyed its government and social infrastructure. And the solution, according to those who attacked it in 2011, is to bomb, bomb and bomb again.
We live in a world of madness.
David Cameron will announce new plans on Wednesday to curb extremist activity and radical hate preachers in his new government’s first State Opening of Parliament, commonly known as the Queen’s Speech.
The prime minister will tell the National Security Council the new measures will give police powers to go to the High Court to request orders to prevent “harmful activities” of individuals who pose a “threat to the functioning of democracy.”
The orders have been revived under the new Tory administration after original plans were vetoed by the Liberal Democrats in March 2014 while they were in coalition.
These measures will focus on reducing the presence of those who incite hatred against gender, race or religion on social media and in print.
They will also target those who perpetrate harmful activities for the “purpose of overthrowing democracy.”
Individuals suspected of disseminating inflammatory material will be subject to a ban on broadcasting and a requirement to submit any publications to websites, in print or on social media to the police in advance.
Added powers given to the police will also allow them to close premises where they believe extremists are being given a platform to influence others.
The Charity Commission will also see its power to root out charities which siphon off funds for extremist activities strengthened.
“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance,” Cameron will tell the National Security Council.
“This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values.
“Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality.
“We must say to our citizens: this is what defines us as a society.”
Home Secretary Theresa May will say the UK cannot ignore extremism.
“The twisted narrative of extremism cannot be ignored or wished away. This government will challenge those who seek to spread hatred and intolerance by forming a new partnership of every person and organization in this country that wants to defeat the extremists,” she is to state.
The new Tory government will also be free to introduce its new ‘Snoopers’ Charter’, which would allow authorities to monitor records of phones, emails and other metadata, now that they are unencumbered by their former-Lib Dem coalition partners.
David Cameron’s attempts to style himself as the latest incarnation of a long tradition of ‘British values’ of tolerance, democracy and the rule of law is belied by both British history and his own policies. It also plays right into the hands of ISIS.
David Cameron has been at it again. Following the brutal attacks on visitors to the Bardo museum in Tunisia last month, Cameron took the opportunity to repeat one of the most common and pernicious falsehoods of his premiership – that he is a staunch defender of a set of moral absolutes he calls ‘British values’. “In the end” he said, “our values – freedom of speech, democracy, the rule of law – … will win through”. That the Tunis attacks were a direct result of his own fateful decision in 2011 to turn Libya over to a hotchpotch of ultra-sectarian and racist death squads, who then trained the Bardo attackers, was of course conveniently glossed over. But this theme – of Cameron’s dogged pursuance of his British values in the face of an Islamist onslaught – has been trotted out every time any European joins the tens of thousands of Libyan, Nigerian, Malian, Syrian, Algerian, and Iraqi victims of his policy of recruiting sectarian militants as tools of regime change. Thus when Lee Rigby was killed in London by a man (Michael Adebolajo) who had been offered a job by MI5 just weeks earlier, Cameron opined that “the terrorists will never win because they can never beat the values we hold dear, the belief in freedom, in democracy, in free speech, in our British values, Western values”. And when Mohammed Emwazi was granted instant celebrity status by the British media following his youtube beheadings of journalists and aid workers, Cameron said that Emwazi’s actions were “the very opposite of everything this country stands for”, despite the fact that his own intelligence services headhunted Emwazi to work for them, just as they had facilitated the passage to Syria of the man who most probably trained him.
Cameron’s crucial role in creating and sustaining the death squads he claims to oppose, however, is well known to anyone paying attention to events in the Middle East, and has been written about extensively elsewhere by myself and others. What I want to critique here is Cameron’s claim that democracy, the rule of law and free speech and tolerance are indeed ‘British values’ in any meaningful sense. In fact, these values neither originated in Britain nor have ever been sincerely practiced by British governments.
Take democracy, for example. Even the mainstream textbooks don’t claim that it originated in Britain; Athens is generally supposed to be its birthplace (although there is increasing evidence that the Athenians based it on systems already in place in Africa). Cameron does have an answer for this, of course. In his article for the Daily Mail following the uproar over the mythical ‘Trojan Horse plot’, he writes that “People will say that these values are vital to other people in other countries… But what sets Britain apart are the traditions and history that anchors them and allows them to continue to flourish and develop. Our freedom doesn’t come from thin air. It is rooted in our parliamentary democracy”. What he doesn’t mention is that this particular version of democracy is based on a profound distrust of the people, and was consciously and openly designed to keep them out of decision making as far as possible. Also noteworthy is that the British government has only ever allowed a tiny privileged section of those subject to its power to vote for it – and still does. Only when non-aristocratic owners of business had become fabulously wealthy were they given the vote (in 1832), and when the franchise was extended to workers 35 years later, it was limited to those with the highest wages and living standards. When the universal male franchise was achieved in Britain in 1918, it was of course denied to the tens of millions of colonial subjects (including many Northern Irish Catholics) whose labour and resources were by then creating relatively privileged conditions for those in the ‘motherland’. Even today, British power extends far beyond Britain’s territorial borders, and yet the Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, Somalis and others who are subject to its greatest abuses have no say in who forms the government. If democracy means that those who are the subjects of power have some influence over who wields it, Britain is still sorely lacking in this regard.
And what of the rule of law? Once again, despite the 800 year existence of the Magna Carta constantly trumpeted by Cameron, when it comes to international affairs, he has treated this apparently sacrosanct British principle with absolute contempt. From his support for Blair’s destruction of Iraq in 2003, to his own blitzkrieg against Libya in 2011, he has been a proud defender of the unprovoked war of aggression – defined by the Nuremberg tribunal, lest we forget, as “not only an international crime; [but] the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”. Even on the domestic front, he has been more than happy to violate the rule of law when it suits him. Thus at the slightest hint of civil unrest in 2011, Cameron’s government instructed magistrates to ignore their own sentencing guidelines and imprison everyone ‘involved’ in the youth insurrection, no matter how slight their offence, throwing judicial independence to the wind in the process. Worse still, every passing week produces more evidence of the apparent collusion between the intelligence services, police, and government ministers in facilitating and covering-up institutional child sex abuse on a horrific scale – and yet Cameron’s government appears to have done everything possible to delay an inquiry into the issue and limit its powers. The rule of law may well be valued in Britain – but it certainly isn’t applied to the higher echelons Cameron represents.
On tolerance and freedom of speech, Britain may seem to fare a little better. But this is only true if we ignore history, foreign policy and Cameron’s own ‘anti-terror’ legislation. Historically, Britain has hardly been a model of toleration. We needn’t go back to King Edward I’s expulsion of the Jews (many of whom sought refuge in the historically much more tolerant Islamic empires) or the anti-Catholic laws (in place until 1829 and only repealed in response to the threat of civil war in Ireland) to find institutionalised discrimination: racialised stop-and-searches have actually increased since the 1999 MacPherson Inquiry’s conclusion that the British police were “institutionally racist”. This is perhaps not surprising, however, given that the British Empire itself was built on intolerance and discrimination, stripping native peoples of political rights and often reducing them to a legal status little different from animals or property. In this regard, the 2012 laws passed by the NATO-installed Libyan government – laws which threaten life imprisonment for supporters of the previous government, and impunity for anyone who kills them – is fully in line with actual historical British practice abroad – but not with some mythical commitment to ‘tolerance’ and free speech. Back at home, Cameron’s redefinition of extremism to include ‘non-violent’ varieties, combined with draconian new proposals to ensure that all educational institutions rid themselves of all hints of such extremism, are the very antithesis of ‘freedom of speech’, as commentators of all political stripes have noted.
Perhaps most insidious of all, however, is Cameron’s claim that “The Western model of combining vibrant democracy with free enterprise has delivered great progress and prosperity”. In reality, the ‘Western model’ has not been based on ‘vibrant democracy’, but precisely on its opposite – on the dispossession of the vast majority of those subject to its power, from the native Americans and African slaves of yesteryear, to the countless millions subject to IMF structural adjustment or NATO bombardment today. But neither has it been based on ‘free enterprise’. As scholars such as Ha-Joon Chang have shown in detail, the truth is that every Western nation used massive protectionism during their rise to prosperity. Even today, the strongest industries in the West – from US agribusiness and pharmaceuticals to British finance – are completely dependent on massive government subsidies, demonstrated most clearly in the $15 trillion global bankers bailout following the financial crash of 2007-8. Protectionism and colonialism/ neo-colonialism, then, are the real foundation, and continuing basis, of Western prosperity. To ascribe this prosperity to a set of ‘values’ which have never been taken seriously by Britain’s governing elites is not only a falsification of history, but a slander on those whose own dispossession and impoverishment was the flipside of this prosperity. Only by being honest about the role of Britain’s African, Asian and American colonies in creating Britain’s prosperity – and Britain’s role in creating and perpetuating their poverty – can we hope to genuinely build an inclusive society based on mutual respect and understanding for all those who find themselves here ‘because we were there’.
Britain’s governing elites, then, have consistently undermined the values they claim to espouse – and none more than their greatest advocate, Mr Cameron himself. But this does not make his narrative meaningless. In a sense, this article, by taking his sacred principles at face value and questioning whether the British government lives up to them, is completely missing the point. For the real purpose of the narrative is not, and has never been, to establish a standard which we should aspire to reach. Far from it. The purpose is solely to provide a stick with which to beat Islam. It is not that ‘we’, as Brits, are actually supposed to practice these ‘British values’ ourselves – the point is rather to provide solid grounds for hating the Islamic societies that are always presented as the greatest transgressors of these values. Don’t get me wrong – Cameron is constantly at pains to point out that ‘the vast majority of law abiding British Muslims’ share these values. But his very language leads us to believe that those Muslims who do share such values do so because of their Britishness, and despite their Islam. The danger of this narrative is multiple. Not only does it reinforce ignorant prejudices about Islam’s ‘aversion’ to democracy, the rule of law and tolerance – but it also justifies the rejection of such values by groups such as ISIS. For ISIS are the prime believers in Cameron’s message that such values are ‘British’ and ‘western’. And as people who hate Britain and the west and all it has done to the world, they feel duty bound to reject the values it espouses. Yet they forget that Islamic culture has a proud – and much longer – history of practicing them than does the ‘west’ itself. And why do they forget this? Because they believe the distortions of their own history perpetrated by Cameron and his ilk. The more, therefore, that Cameron claims democracy, tolerance and the rule of law to be distinctly British phenomenon – insinuating all the while that they are not indigenous to Islam – the more that angry young Muslims, who have seen their homelands torn apart by Britain, are drawn into the orbit of those militant groups who reject these values. But then, for Cameron, this is all fine. More Muslims joining ISIS means more fighters in his proxy war against Assad – and all without a single soldier returning home in a body bag. This, at least, gets us a little closer to understanding what Cameron really values.
The Extremely Dark and Unexamined Underside of the Charlie Hebdo Affair
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | January 13, 2015
We hear much about bloody events in Paris being an attack upon western traditions and freedom of the press, and I am sorry but such claims are close to laughable, even though there is nothing remotely funny about mass murder. It certainly is not part of the best western tradition to insult the revered figures of major religions. You are, of course, technically free to do so in many western countries – always remembering that in many of them, a wrong target for your satire will get you a prison term for “hate crimes” – but it does represent little more than poor judgement and extremely bad taste to exercise that particular freedom. What Charlie Hebdo does is not journalism, it is sophomoric jokes and thinly disguised propaganda. Hebdo’s general tone and themes place it completely outside the mythic tableau of heroic defender of free speech or daring journalism, it being very much a vehicle for the interests of American imperialism through NATO.
Of course, the best western traditions don’t outlaw what garments or symbols people may wear for their beliefs, as France has done. Note also the history of some of the politicians making grandiose statements about freedom of the press. Nicolas Sarkozy was involved a number of times in suppressing stories in the press, even once getting a journalist fired. Sarkozy is a man, by the way, who took vast, illegal secret payments from the late Muammar Gaddafi and from France’s richest heiress to secure his election as president. David Cameron had police seize computers at Guardian offices and allows Julian Assange to remain cooped in the Embassy of Ecuador to avoid trumped-up charges in Sweden. Cameron is also best buddies with Rupert Murdoch, the man whose idea of journalism appears to be what he can dredge up to exchange for what he wants from government. His Fox News in the United States enjoys a reputation for telling the truth only by sheer accident. Barack Obama is a man transfixed by secrecy and ready to use all of his powers to punish those who tell the truth, a man who holds hundreds in secret prisons, and a man who regularly oversees the extrajudicial execution of hundreds and hundreds of people in a number of countries.
The parade celebrating the good things of western tradition – which Obama missed but which saw now-potential presidential candidate Sarkozy shove his way to the front – also included such luminaries as the Foreign Minister of Egypt’s extremely repressive government, which, even as the minister marched proudly, held innocent journalists in prison simply for writing the truth. The Prime Minister of Turkey was there celebrating, a man who has put a number of journalists in jail. Celebrating rights and freedoms also was King Abdullah of Jordan who once saw a Palestinian journalist sentenced to hard labor for writing so simple a truth as that the king was dependent upon Israel for power.
We shouldn’t forget, too, that Israel targeted and killed a number of journalists in its Gaza invasions, that the United States’ forces in Iraq targeted and killed a number of journalists, and that “NATO” deliberately targeted Serbia’s state television service with bombing, killing many civilians. Free speech and western traditions, indeed.
There are more doubts and questions in the Charlie Hebdo affair than there will ever be answers. In part this is because the French security forces silenced witnesses, killing three assumed perpetrators in a display which seems to say that Dirty Harry movies are now part of French training programs.
And then we have the sudden death by apparent suicide of a police commissioner in charge of the investigation just as he was writing his report alone at night, an event which received little mainline press coverage. A man in his forties in the midst of likely the biggest case of his career just decides to kill himself?
We should all be extremely suspicious of a trained killer, seen as being informed and exceedingly efficient at his work, leaving behind his identity card in an abandoned car. It really is a touch more serendipity than we would credit in a mystery story. We should all be extremely suspicious of men so obviously well trained in military techniques, about men who were well informed about schedules at the offices they attacked, and about men heavily armed in the center of Paris. People serving in notorious killer outfits like America’s SEALs or Britain’s SAS rarely achieve such complete success as twelve victims, all shot dead, and an easy get-away.
And just to add to the confusion we have the video of one of the armed men shooting a police officer lying on the sidewalk. The armed man, face covered, lowers his AK-47 to within a couple of feet of the victim’s head and fires. The head goes down, but we see no blood. Have you ever seen photos of someone shot in the head with a high velocity weapon? That’s what the Zapruder film is about, and the results are more like an exploding pumpkin than a death at the end of a stage play.
We need to be more than suspicious about anyone or any event which has any connection with ISIS. ISIS is one of the terror groups assembled, armed, and supplied by Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States for the deliberate and wanton destruction of Syria. The two brothers killed in Paris both fought in Syria. It certainly would be easy enough for someone to have obtained an ID card there from one of them. Remember, the excesses of ISIS we all read about – at least those that aren’t clearly staged propaganda stunts such as video of a hostage beheading – are the direct result of assembling large bands of cutthroats and fanatics, arming them, and setting them loose to terrorize someone else’s country.
It is the simplistic view of ISIS that the involved intelligence services want us to have that it is a spontaneous fanatical rebellion in favor of one extreme interpretation of Islam. Despite many recruits for ISIS holding what are undoubtedly genuine fanatical beliefs, they almost certainly have no idea who actually pays their salaries or provides their equipment – that is simply the way black intelligence operations work. And those participating in such operations are completely disposable in the eyes of those running them, as when the United States bombs some in ISIS who perhaps exceeded their brief.
Every society has some percentage of its population which is dangerously mad, and if such people are gathered together and given weapons, their beliefs are almost beside the point, except that they provide the targeting mechanism used by those doing the organizing.
We should all be extremely suspicious about any event when a man such as Rupert Murdoch is quoted afterward saying, “Muslims must be held responsible for jihadist cancer,” as he was in The Independent. In case you forgot, Murdoch is a man whose news organizations for years lied, stole, and violated a number of laws to obtain juicy tidbits for his chain of cheesy mass-circulation newspapers. Murdoch also is a man who has had the most intimate and influential relationships with several prime ministers including that smarmy criminal, Tony Blair, and that current mindless windbag and ethical nullity, David Cameron. Publicity from large circulation newspapers, which can swing at a moment’s notice from supporting to attacking you, plus campaign contributions buy a lot of government compliance. Murdoch also is one of the world’s most tireless supporters of Israel’s criminal excesses.
And speaking of David Cameron, Murdoch’s made man in Britain, David felt compelled to chime in on the Hebdo publicity extravaganza with, “Muslims face a special burden on extremism….” Now, why would that be? No less than Murdoch’s creepy words, Cameron’s statement is an indefensible thing to say.
Who has a special burden for the massacre of students at Columbine High school in Colorado? Who has a special burden for Israeli Baruch Goldstein who murdered 29 Palestinians as they worshipped? Do Noweigians bear a special burden for Anders Breivik, who shot 69 people, mostly children, perhaps the most bizarre mass murderer of our times? Does the American Army bear a special burden for Timothy McVeigh’s horrific bombing in Oklahoma City, killing 168, he and his associates having met in Fort Benning during basic training, two of them having been roommates? Perhaps, in both these latter cases, Christianity bears a special burden since these people were exposed to that religion early in life? As was Hitler, as was Stalin, as was Mussolini, as was Franco, as was Ceaușescu, as was Pinochet, and countless other blood-drenched villains?
The late Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, was responsible for a great many murders, including about a hundred people bombed in a terror attack on the King David Hotel. He also was responsible for the assassination of the distinguished Swedish diplomat, Count Folke Bernadotte, and he started the invasion of Lebanon which eventually left thousands dead, but you’ll have a hard time finding him described anywhere as a “Jewish terrorist” or finding prominent people asking who has a special responsibility for his extraordinarily bloody career.
There is something hateful and poisonous in conflating the religious background of a criminal or mentally unbalanced person and his violent crime. We seem to do this only in cases involving violent men with Muslim backgrounds. Why? How is it possible that even one decent Muslim in this world has any responsibility for the acts of madmen who happen to be Muslim? This gets at one of the deep veins of hate and prejudice in western society today, Islamophobia, a vein regularly mined by our “free” press and by our ‘democratic” governments. Our establishment having embraced Israel’s excesses and pretensions, we have been pushed into worshiping the mumbo-jumbo of Islamic terror, a phenomenon virtually invented in Israel and perpetuated by Israel’s apologists as a way of stopping anyone from asking why Israel does not make peace, stop abusing millions of people, and return to its recognized borders.
Well, we do have an entire industry exploiting every event which may be imagined as terror. I read an interview with the great cartoonist, Robert Crumb, who happens to live in France. When asked if any other journalists had approached him on the topic of controversial cartoons, he said that there weren’t any journalists in America anymore, just 250,000 public relations people. That is precisely the state of American journalism. It digs into nothing, at least nothing of consequence, working full time to manage the public’s perceptions of government and its dreadful policies, from murdering innocents with drones and remaining quiet on the many American and Israeli atrocities of recent decades to manipulating fears of “terrorism” and saying little about such domestic horrors as the many hundreds of citizens shot dead by American police every single year.
The French government is reported to have been quite concerned about Benjamin Netanyahu showing up at the Paris march and making volatile speeches, and they specifically asked him not to come. At first, Netanyahu’s own security service, Shin Bet, agreed that he should not go because the parade in the streets represented a difficult security situation. But neither the host government’s formal request nor the security service’s concerns can stop a man like Netanyahu. France was advised he would come, and the French made their displeasure clear by saying they would then also invite Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestine Authority to the parade, which they did.
Netanyahu not only marched for the cameras at the front rank of a parade where he had no business, he made arrangements with the families of four Jewish victims for an all-expense-paid showy funeral in Jerusalem. None of the victims was even an Israeli citizen, yet at this writing they have all been buried there with pomp and plenty of publicity. But Netanyahu didn’t stop there, he went on to make speeches that the French and other European Jews should leave their countries, riddled with anti-Semitism, and come to Israel, their true homeland. In diplomatic terms, this was what is termed unacceptable behavior which in almost any other case would get you thrown out of a country. In ordinary terms, it was outrageous behavior, much like seeing a seriously drunken guest loudly insulting his host at a party to which he was not even invited.
The ineffectual current President of France, François Hollande, sent notice to Jerusalem that the four dead shop victims were being awarded the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor. The nation’s highest honor, founded by Napoleon over two hundred years ago for exceptional contributions to the state, awarded for the act of being murdered by thugs? Simply bizarre.
I don’t pretend to understand everything involved in this complex set of events, but it is unmistakable that we are being manipulated by a number unscrupulous and unethical people who use murder victims and the public’s natural sympathies for them as board pieces in some much larger game.
There is even a trivial side to these bloody events with many Parisians carrying signs which read “Je suis Charlie,” surely the kind of asininity posing as deep feeling that long has been established in the United States where Walmart teddy bears and plastic flowers with cheap slogans are regularly tossed in piles here and there as memorials to this or that. Perhaps Euro-Disney has had a more devastating influence on French culture than I realized.
A stinging defeat for Abbas, but no great victory for Israel … Netanyahu persuaded Nigeria to abstain as UN Security Council rejected Palestinian statehood, but could only muster US and Australian opposition, and the French let Israel down.
Had the UN Security Council voted for Palestinian statehood it would still have made no difference because the resolution would have been vetoed by Israel’s superpower lapdog — that principled and supreme upholder of democracy and international law — the United States of America. But even before this latest amoral rejection, the Palestinian people had already been forewarned that the New Year of 2015 would herald no change in their misfortunes.
They would continue to be faceless, voiceless, and unrecognised by a Zionist blackmailed, bribed, bullied, and sadly spineless international community; continue to be stateless prisoner refugees on their own land and in adjoining Arab states; continue to be subject to air, sea, and land blockades that prevent free trade — the import of essential foods, medical supplies, and rebuilding materials — and freedom of their own movement; continue to exist under the constant threat of another barbaric military assault in keeping with Zionism’s rationale that Palestinian existence denies and challenges Israel’s insatiable territorial claims which can only be satisfied by annihilating the Palestinian people; continue to be subject to arbitrary arrest, beatings, torture, and indefinite imprisonment without charges or due process — for up to ten or more years in some cases without knowledge of when or if they will ever be released — under Israel’s Administrative Detention Orders; continue seeing their children being systematically detained by the military and police who subject them to violent physical and verbal abuse, humiliation, painful restraints, hooding of the head and face in a sack, threats with death, physical violence, and sexual assault against themselves or members of their family, and denial of access to food, water, and toilet facilities; continue to be subject to attacks against themselves and their property — including the burning of their olive groves which are the only means of livelihood for many — by deranged savages from illegal Israeli settlements; continue to have their property demolished, their resources including water stolen, and their land expropriated by “God’s chosen people” from the “only democracy in the Middle east”; and finally, they would continue to be aghast at how the world could stand idly by and do nothing while Israel barbarically violated every article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which incidentally both warmongering criminal states of the U.S. and Israel had ratified.
So despite recent encouraging recognitions of a “Palestinian state” by some European parliaments, forewarnings that the status quo for the Palestinian people would remain unchanged came from various sources including the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron. Cameron, who during a visit to Israel in march 2014 had taken obsequious Knesset-grovelling to new heights by confirming that very determined and insidious “friends of Israel” lobby groups corrupt and exert influence over the Western leaders irrespective of what the the people themselves may want as was the case in the lead-up to the Iraq War:
I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens, a right enshrined in international law, in natural justice and fundamental morality [which is not applicable to the Palestinian people because their lobby is nowhere near as powerful as yours], and in decades of common endeavour between Israel and her [bought and paid for political] allies. When I was in opposition, I spoke out when – because of the law on universal jurisdiction – senior Israelis could not safely come to my country without fear of ideologically motivated court cases and legal stunts; when I became Prime Minister, I legislated to change it. My country is open to you and you are welcome [as are your shiny shekels] to visit any time.
Despite Israel’s flagrant crimes against humanity during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge and following Israel’s Jewish nation-state bill which affirmed “the personal rights of all [Israel’s] citizens according to law,” but reserved communal rights for Jews only — which meant that while individual Arabs would be equal in the eyes of the law, their communal rights would not be recognised — the following exchange took place in parliament between an unabashed Cameron and the high-principled Jewish Sir Gerald Kaufman:
Sir Gerald Kaufman: “Will the Prime Minister condemn the new Israeli Government Bill that removes what are defined as national rights from all Israeli citizens who are not Jews, makes Hebrew the only national language and has been denounced by the Israeli Attorney-General as causing a ‘deterioration of the democratic characteristic of the state’? Will he make it clear that the statutory, repressive removal of citizenship rights on the basis of religion will turn Israel into an apartheid state?”
Prime Minister David Cameron: “One of the reasons I am such a strong supporter of Israel is that it is a country that has given rights and democracy to its people, and it is very important that that continues. When we look across the region and at the indexes of freedom, we see that Israel is one of the few countries that tick the boxes for freedom, and it is very important that it continues to do so.”
Furthermore, as a consequence of last year’s increased public sympathy for the Palestinian people, Israel has ramped-up its propaganda through Zionism’s reliable army of selfish, self-serving, sleazy, sewer-scavenging, slime ball supporters — time to abandon political correctness and unjustified respect — whose leading light is Tony Blair the war criminal “Middle East Peace Envoy.” Such lowlife paid for recruits contaminate not only politics, but also the mainstream media that plants the seeds of support for Israel by expurgating the news we hear, read, and watch. While speaking at a conference in Jerusalem last month, Danny Cohen the director of the Israeli-biased BBC Television said: “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as in the last 12 months,” and that rising anti-Semitism has made him question the long-term future for Jews in the UK.
It would be an insult to morons to refer to Mr. Cohen as such, but it has obviously escaped his Zionist mentality that what he refers to as anti-Semitism in Britain, may in fact be the British people’s exasperation with continually seeing images of Israel’s barbarity against a defenceless people who only want to be left alone to enjoy their inalienable human rights in an unoccupied Palestinian state. How can Mr. Cohen and others of his heartless ilk be made to understand that the general public’s revulsion and condemnation resulting from seeing [WARNING: images very graphic!] images of Palestinian children burnt to a crisp with limbs blown off, is not in any way anti-Semitic but simply empathy for fellow human beings whose savage persecution has been ongoing for more than 60 years.
Unmitigated Zionist arrogance — with its inherent Ariel Sharon belief that “Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial” — presumes to tell the rest of us “unchosen” goyim what we can and cannot do; presumes to condemn the European parliaments that finally took a moral stand and voted to recognise a Palestinian state; presumes —after the Palestinians signed up to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) — to issue the threat that Israel would take “steps in response and defend Israel’s soldiers”; presumes that it has a right to special trade agreements and dispensations whose conditions it routinely violates; presumes that it can take what it wants without giving anything in return; and presumes in accordance with its self nomination as “God’s chosen people” that it has a supremacist entitlement to treat all non-Jews as contemptible individuals to be used and exploited.
Further proof of an unchanged Palestinian status quo in 2015 came after the first step was taken to join the ICC with the U.S. state department — an Israeli mouthpiece — releasing a statement condemning what it called “an escalatory step” on the part of the Palestinians and that negotiations between the two sides were the only “realistic path towards peace … today’s action is entirely counter-productive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state.”
It is hard to comprehend how after decades of “peace talks” anyone can still believe that peace is achievable through negotiations. The Israeli position of insisting that only through negotiations can an agreement be reached is a ploy that always includes the deliberate Israeli intent to sabotage such negotiations so as to prolong the status quo and thereby enable Israel to continue with its illegal settlement building and gradual expropriation of more Palestinian land by means of ethnic cleansing. Israel does not want peace. Peace would mean an end to Israel’s gratuitous persecution of the Palestinian people and the larcenous plunder of Palestinian land and resources.
Even before the UN Security Council vote Israel considered the resolution to be a diplomatic declaration of war with Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz calling for drastic measures if the Palestinians indeed do make the move. “A vote at the UN is expected on the aggressive, hostile and one-sided resolution regarding a Palestinian state. We must not let it pass quietly,” Steinitz declared. “In my opinion, if such a resolution is accepted by the UNSC we will have to seriously consider the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority … in my opinion, if such a resolution is accepted by the UNSC we will have to seriously consider the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority.”
It is time for decent people everywhere to face two inescapable realities: the first is to recognise and accept what Israel is — a Zionist Apartheid warmongering state bent on driving out the indigenous Palestinian people so as to grab their land irrespective of cost or consequences, and the second is that Western political leaders cannot be relied upon on to unconditionally insist on justice for the Palestinian people including Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders thereby allowing for a Palestinian state.
So what can decent people do? They can resort to the only peaceful and proven alternative which successfully ended Apartheid in South Africa and simply involved an all out boycott. The current global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) has to be supported and expanded to such an extent that Israelis will have no option other than to accept that even as a God chosen people they still have the responsibility of respecting international law and the rest of humanity.
Britain’s opposition leader has criticized Prime Minister David Cameron for failing to take a firm stance on Israel’s aggression against Gaza.
Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, said Saturday that it was “wrong and unjustifiable” that Cameron had failed to speak out about the Israeli atrocities.
“…The prime minister is wrong not to have opposed Israel’s incursion into Gaza,” said Miliband, adding, “His silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israeli’s military action will be inexplicable to people across Britain and internationally.”
In response, the British prime minister has criticized his rival for playing politics with such a serious issue.
The reactions come amid reports that the Israeli regime has been using weapons containing British-made components in the fatal aggression against the Gaza Strip.
The UK daily Independent revealed that arms export licenses worth $70 million have been granted to 130 British defense manufacturers since 2010 to sell military equipment to the Tel Aviv regime.
These range from bulletproof garments to naval gun parts and armored vehicles.
“Among the manufacturers given permission to make sales were two UK companies supplying components for the Hermes drone, described by the Israeli air force as the ‘backbone’ of its targeting and reconnaissance missions. One of the two companies also supplies components for Israel’s main battle tank,” the report said.
Since July 8, more than 1,700 people have been killed and over 9,100 others injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza. Nearly 400 children are among the fatalities.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have staged demonstrations in different countries around the world in condemnation of the ongoing Israeli military aggression against the besieged Palestinian territory.
From the Gov.uk website:
‘The Prime Minister spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier this evening about the situation in Israel. The Prime Minister strongly condemned the appalling attacks being carried out by Hamas against Israeli civilians. The Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s staunch support for Israel in the face of such attacks, and underlined Israel’s right to defend itself from them’.
So then, Israel simply defending itself from Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians.
The actual facts, of course, speak of a somewhat different reality. According to medical sources in the Gaza strip:
Number of Israelis killed since the launch of ‘Operation Protective Edge’: 0
Number of Palestinians killed since the launch of ‘Operation Protective Edge’: ‘at least 47′, of which 41 were civilians, and 12 children.
Nevermind that the very idea of ‘defending yourself’ against a people you have spent decades occupying, dispossessing, racially oppressing, collectively punishing and generally brutalising is a complete nonsense.
It doesn’t need me to point out that David Cameron’s supposed ‘humanitarianism’ and commitment to ‘freedom’ – which we are told was behind his decision to bomb Libya, and to almost bomb Syria – is a complete sham. He is simply the latest mouthpiece for a British Establishment that has long both committed and supported the perpetration of war crimes and atrocities in the service of colonial domination, while talking the language of human rights and freedom.
But statements like that one help to drive the point home.
And they illuminate where the BBC have been taking their lead from, perhaps:
(BBC News Online front page, circa 01:00 A.M., July 9th 2014)
The parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has sent an official invitation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to send a mission to observe the referendum on the region’s future, slated for March 16.
The Supreme Council has handed over the invitation to Switzerland, the country that holds the rotating presidency of the OSCE. Crimean authorities invited observers from both individual OSCE member-countries and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to come to Crimea.
“I am confident that the parliament of Crimea will make it possible for them to be present at polling stations. This process is underway now and the referendum itself will be as transparent as possible,” Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov said, as quoted by Itar-Tass.
On Saturday, Crimean residents – about 60 percent of whom are ethnic Russians – will cast ballots to decide whether the region will “become part of the Russian Federation as its constituent territory.”
They will also decide whether Crimea’s 1992 constitution, under which the autonomous republic is part of Ukraine but has relations with Kiev defined on the basis of mutual agreements, should be restored.
Preparations for holding the referendum are in full swing.
Crimea will allocate up to US$2 million for printing ballots and providing technical support. A total of 1,550,000 ballots will be printed.
Some 1,500 Crimean troops will guard polling stations during the referendum, Prime Minister Aksyonov said.
“We will have about 1,500 armed troops by the time the referendum is held. They will be placed on duty at all polling stations,” he said. “The referendum will be guarded by armed people, primarily the autonomy’s self-defense units and Armed Forces.”
While Crimean authorities prepare for holding the referendum, radical groups plan provocations on the republic’s administrative border, according to unconfirmed reports from a Ukrainian Special Forces source, cited by RIA Novosti news agency.
“We are receiving information that Ukrainian radical groups are preparing provocations at the Crimean administrative boarder on the day of referendum, March, 16,” the source told the news agency.
The referendum has been brought forward twice from its original date of May 30 since it was appointed by local lawmakers last month.
The US has said it will not recognize the results of any referendum about the autonomous republic’s future, as Washington continues to consider Crimea a part of Ukraine, US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt stated.
Earlier, President Obama said that a referendum in Crimea would “violate the Ukrainian constitution and international law.”
This stance has been echoed by British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also stated that “any attempt by Russia to legitimize the results could bring more consequences.”
Speaking to Cameron and Merkel over the phone, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that Crimea’s upcoming referendum will reflect the legitimate interests of its people.
By Friends of Al-Aqsa November 7, 2013
The need to boycott Israel is growing
The call for boycotting Israel has grown significantly in recent years. The main purpose of this global campaign is to bring Israel to account for its human rights violations against Palestinians. The reason such civil action is necessary is because governments around the world with the power to intervene have repeatedly failed to utilise international legal apparatus in to hold Israel to account for its crimes.
However, successful boycott campaigns have revealed that ordinary people do have the power to act and respond to Palestinian calls for intervention. The destruction of Palestinian infrastructure through Israeli military assaults, routine demolitions of essential resources such as water wells, and blocking access to farmlands; means that Palestinians are unable to freely harvest their lands and bring their produce onto the markets. It is well documented that farmers are attacked by extremist settlers, and shot at by army personnel. Entire initiatives such as the Olive Cooperative have been built in response to these attacks, so that international solidarity activists can go to Palestine simply to help farmers harvest their crops and document the violent assaults some face on a daily basis.
Fishermen off the coast of Gaza face similar deadly assaults, this time from Israel’s naval vessels. Thus, peaceful farming or fishing is now a luxury for Palestinians, yet Israel is exporting its own produce globally and reaping the financial rewards for it. Its exploitation of stolen Palestinian lands in the West Bank should not be allowed to enter European markets and the boycott campaigns seek to highlight this.
The boycott of illegal settlement produce is becoming established. However, there is now also a move to boycott Israeli produce too, as Israeli companies have been found to breach EU food labelling regulations by labelling settlements goods as ‘produce of Israel’. By doing this, they mislead consumers into believing that the goods are legitimately farmed in Israel, instead of illegitimately farmed on stolen Palestinian land, often exploiting Palestinian labour.
Recent statistics reveal that illegal settlements profit from exporting their produce to Europe to the tune of 230 million Euros a year. When compared to Palestinian exports, this is fifteen times greater in value. Thus, the EU imports 100 times more produce per illegal Israeli settler than it does per legitimate Palestinian resident of the West Bank.
The success of the boycott campaigns reflects the feeling on the ground. Ordinary Brits do not want to be a part of Israel’s racist and illegal occupation policies, and they do not wish to support the illegal settlements by buying their produce.
British Politicians Oppose Boycott
Both the Conservatives and the Labour Party have both come out against boycott of Israel.
David Cameron stated in October 2012:
In a speech by David Cameron at the annual dinner of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, Cameron said on boycotting:
“And to those in Britain’s universities and trades unions who want to boycott Israel and consign it to an international ghetto, I say not only will this Government never allow you to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger but I also say this: we know what you are doing – trying to delegitimise the State of Israel – and we will not have it.”
The Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander, recently stated ”it is not Labour policy to support boycotts. We would like to see even stronger economic ties with Israel’. His comments were reported on twitter following a London meeting on 7 February 2013.
European Consumer Labelling laws
The EU is considering making it illegal for Israel to sell produce from the illegal settlements labelled as ‘produce of Israel’. This would be a marked step towards obstructing settlements from profiting from the land they have stolen.
Produce to Boycott
Products to look out for are: dates, citrus fruits and herbs, and manufactured products including cosmetics, carbonation devices, plastics, textile products and toys.
Recently, Morrisons supermarket was found to be selling medjoul dates labelled as ‘Produce of Israel’ but which were in fact from illegal settlements.
1) Every time you go shopping, ‘Check the Label’ on the produce you buy. Ensure they are not from Israel, West Bank or Jordan Valley. If you do see produce from these places, take a photo and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org detailing the store and location.
2) If you find produce from Israel, West Bank or Jordan Valley ask to speak to the store Manager and explain that the produce are from illegal Israeli Settlements as they are grown on land that has been stolen from Palestinians. Ask for them to be removed from the shelves and for them not to be stocked again. Please also ask for the suppliers name if it is not clear as this is useful information. Email your experience to email@example.com
3) If you do not want to approach the Manager whilst you are shopping, contact the stores Head office on their customer service number/email explaining your concern.
Tesco Customer Service Centre, Baird Avenue, Dundee, DD1 9NF
08457 22 55 33
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, 33 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT
0800 636 262
0800 188 884
Customer service enquiries – 0845 611 6111
General or corporate enquiries – 0845 611 5000
By Post: Customer Service Department, Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC, Hilmore House, Gain Lane, Bradford, BD3 7DL
General Enquiries: 0800 952 0101
Write to: Customer Service, ASDA House, Southbank, Great Wilson Street, Leeds LS11 5AD
Holly Lane, Atherstone, Warwickshire CV9 2SQ
0844 406 8800
0870 444 1234
|Cultural Boycott as a Political Tool; Impact and Importance|