Monthly Archives: June 2008

World food crisis. Capitalism to the rescue

Why is there a crisis in the availability of food world wide? Phil Woolas, another New Labour wonder, knows the answer that we don’t. He goes straight into bed with Monsanto and other huge industrial giants responsible for plundering the earth and exploiting labour. “GM crops” will rescue us. We’ve been here before. No, Mr Blair, going to war is not the answer for dealing with Iraq, you’ve been warned. Privatisation won’t improve the quality of our health, our education, our prisons as we learn to our cost daily.
Learn? We all suffer but members of the government don’t, won’t learn. To solve a problem you need a different approach to the one that put you there in the first place.

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Michelle takes the stage 2

Every word and action of both Barack Obama and wife Michelle has received spotlight treatment. Michelle’s ability to answer criticism has been illustrated in a chat show. Everything she has said or done has been interpreted and misinterpreted. The bumping of fists in celebration of victory, for example, was taken as a revolutionary symbol, while a comment about “being proud of my country for the first time” has been repeated ad nauseum ripped from its context. The show found that MIchelle Obama had at first tried to dissuade her husband from deep involvement in politics, which she regarded with mistrust as being “a dirty business.”

Singing like a canary

Smelly is now on trial and has begun to sing out putting his old mates, like Scratcher into deep, deep doo-doo. What a surprise. Did we ever think that Scratcher was an innocent bystander contributing to the air ambulance service? Smelly’s saying that it was all a terrible mistake and how glad he is that the plot didn’t succeed. grovel, grovel.
It seems his mates could well be in trouble. Scratcher is living it up in Spain, (or more possible keeping a low profile – a Russian team were sent to kidnap him if this article can be believed) having been moved on from the U.S. and South Africa where other scams led to him dodging prosecution.
Update on Scratcher.

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Handsworth has gone green

A question has been raised about the future of Cabinet Member for Transportation and Street Services in Birmingham Councillor Len “Gridlock” Gregory. His achievements in taking transport forward during his time in office has been called into question as zero progress with a metro or any serious alternative has come to a grinding halt, just like the traffic. The department is running at a deficit and has record levels of sickness, although Cllr Gregory couldn’t give details.
Friends of Len have defended him on his record of recycling, however. This was an item for discussion at this month’s Council meeting when it was noted that there had been a huge growth in the amount of green waste due to “the wrong sort of weather”. Here in Handsworth the green waste collection has become so successful that our streets are awash with (uncollected) green bags. These should have been collected last Wednesday (11th June). I phoned Environmental Services to be told that our streets would be cleared by the weekend.

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Ibrahim now needs urgent blood donations

The following is from Jewish Voice for Peace about the live rounds used by the Israeli Military hitting a demonstrator in the thigh. Blood tranfusions saved his life initially but he still requires more: “he is still in constant need of AB+ blood transfusions at large quantities and have already received 11 counts.” The whole episode was caught on film (see below).
“The West Bank village of Bil’in is one of very few instances where steadfast non-violent resistance, maintained jointly by Palestinians and Israelis, along with a petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice, have achieved positive legal results. The High Court ruled in favor of the Palestinian petitioners, instructing the state and the military to re-route sections of the separation barrier appropriating much of the village land, on which private building companies have proceeded to construct an orthodox neighborhood. As reflected in earlier items selected and forwarded by Jewish Peace News, this court ruling remains unimplemented to date. (For more information ).
Non-violent demonstrations therefore continue regularly in Bil’in, organized and attended by activists from Bil’in and its environs and from Israel.
As is the case throughout the Occupied Territories, Israeli forces regularly meet non-violent protesters with violent action. This systematic practice is clearly exemplified in the item below, issued by Jonathan Pollak, of “Anarchists against the Wall”, one of the Israelis active in resisting the separation barrier and focusing on its forceful destruction of Bil’in.
The item below is an urgent call for blood donations needed for treatment of Ibrahim Bornat, a Palestinian activist from Bil’in, targeted by Israeli forces and wounded by live ammunition in last week’s demonstration. It includes a link to video footage of Ibrahim’s shooting.
For those interested in a more immediate sense of the ongoing struggle at Bil’in and, among other things, with the activist Bornat family whose son, Ibrahim now needs urgent blood donations, I suggest obtaining and viewing the film “Bil’in Habibti” (Bil’in My Love) filmed and directed by Shai Carmeli-Pollak.”

Rela Mazali

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An American in Baghdad

The Washington Post (14/6/2008) summarises the U.S. position in Iraq presently. All parties have an eye on upcoming elections and, no, the American presence is greatly resented. Do the politicians support Americans or Iraqis. In consequence U.S. plans for staying on after a U.N. mandate runs out at the end of the year have been rejected. Perhaps Bush’s successor won’t have a difficult choice after all. At the same time militant groups are calling for renewed attacks on American troops.
Another matter of concern is the Iraqi government’s refusal to offer guarantees for the huge number of civilian personnel now involved in Iraq – and party to killing and abuse of Iraqi civilians. Such is the anger at their role that the government dare not offer support to employees of Blackwater, Haliburton et al – some of which have bases in UK.
Meanwhile back at the ranch as they say, George W. is talking about the defeat of barbarism. Someone sent me these pictures of Baghdad before and after 2003 with the comment “look and weep”. This beside the human consequences – and he continues with more of the same in Iran.

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Soldier you’re no longer needed

A report in the U.S. claims that soldiers are being deliberately misdiagnosed as having a pre-existing mental illness, or are guilty of misconduct to prevent payouts for post-traumatic stress disorder. This condition has routinely been overlooked going back to World War I when soldiers were shot for desertion when they were suffering from an experience no human being should have to deal with.
Today PSD has been recognised to the extent that disgraced troops have received posthumous pardons, yet governments are continuing to duck the issue and pretend it doesn’t happen. Mush is made in the rhetoric of top politicians about the bravery and heroism of those who lose their lives. If you survive it appears a raher different story.

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Settlers’ lawlessness

The Jerusalem Post can hardly be described as pro-Palestinian, so an article on the behaviour of illegal settlers in Hebron (13/6/2008) criticising their lawlessness has to be taken seriously. First a group blocked the passage of a bus carrying a group who were visiting Hebron in support of the plight of Palestinians. The report labels them as “leftist” however a story is told of how two teenagers from the settlement had come into town to steal from the Palestinians. When they were caught the IDF came to their rescue. They then said that they had been abducted and their friend was missing, When a search failed to confirm this the boys were accused of making up the story. The settlers succeeded in preventing the visitors’ tour from proceeding.

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A message to their Zionist parents

Young Jewish people in Canada have decided to speak out and refuse to be manipulated into believing in fantasies like when they stopped believing in Santa Claus. Young people are constantly pilloried, but it is clear as in this case that many see clearly what has been fed to them to digest without question. The healthy thing is that they do ask their elders some searching and uncomfortable truths. (Article quoted in Jewish Voice for Peace):
Heating Up: The Battle for the Jewish Voice and the Jewish soul
Dear Mom, Dad, your Zionist friends, and Bob Dylan too,
I’ve got news for you all: The times they are a changin’! Remember last Passover? Remember when we sat around the Seder table and listened to you rant about Israel`s victimhood? About how ethnic cleansing really isn’t that bad? And about how if they try to kill the Jews this time, we will at least take them all with us? Remember the rolled eyes of my cousins and the looks we exchanged thinking you were all nuts?
These are the four questions we were thinking of:
1) Why, on this night we dedicate to remembering our own history as an oppressed people, do we justify Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians?
2) Why, on this night when Israelis are free to celebrate, are the Palestinians locked down under curfew – as is done on most Jewish holidays?
3) Why, here in Canada, where we are a minority amongst a Christian majority, do we advocate for and support a ‘Jewish State’ in the Middle East, where the non-Jewish minority are treated as second class citizens?
4) Why should anyone think that just because we say ‘next year in Jerusalem’ at the end of our Seder, that we had a right to kick others out of their homes so that we could live there?
You see, our generation is different. We are not blind Zionist ideologues. We did not take the lesson of kill or be killed from the stories our grandparents told us about the Holocaust or the anti-Semitism they faced. Alongside our lessons about Zionism and about why the Holocaust meant that Jews need a Jewish state for themselves, we couldn’t help but absorb the need to oppose racism, to fight oppression and to not justify the subjugation of one ‘people’ for the benefit of another.
At first, we may have believed your myths about ‘Israel the good’, about the Israel Defense Forces being the world’s only ‘moral’ army, and about how it’s not Israel but ‘the Arabs’ who don’t want peace. But we have grown up now, and like our Christian peers who come to understand Santa Claus is not real, the growing majority of us have come to see myth of Israel the good as a relic of our childhood Chanukahs.
For those of us who have followed developments in the mainstream Jewish community, we see more to your ranting, too. We see a sick hierarchically organized Jewish community that is not only serving as a smokescreen to allow the ongoing genocide of a people; we also see the twisted irony that you, our parents who claim we need Israel as a safeguard from anti-Semitism, are actually putting us and the rest of World Jewry in danger. By tying our fate (and our children’s) to that of the leadership of the dying American empire, you are setting us up as a scapegoat.
Israel is an offshore American army base and the Israeli leadership and its North American lobby are so in bed with the neo-cons that our community will be suffering consequences for years. Even worse, in Canada and the United States, the lobby has deluded itself into actually thinking it controls the hand that feeds it. The lobby happily plays the role of the dirty cop on the beat using underhanded (but not so secret) ways to try and eliminate what it sees as threats to Israel’s support, or the lobby`s own domestic power. I’m sure that Harper, Bush, and their corporate masters are not disappointed that the targets the Israel lobby chooses for career or character assassination (in the media, academia, public life, etc.) typically line up with their own. But, what will happen if: Oil prices keep rising? The war in Iraq and Afghanistan keeps failing? Housing foreclosures keep increasing? And world anger at the West keeps growing?
The Jewish community’s leadership certainly makes it easy enough to paint a picture that the Jews are behind it; sometimes they even gloat. Will it really be a surprise if, when shit hits the fan, our supposed allies in the US/Canadian elite cut Israel’s strings and point the blame at home towards Jews?
Hypotheticals aside, luckily this too is changing! From the disenchanted, once isolated Jews, a new community is rising. Remember the article I wrote on “The Fall of Zionism” last October? Remember how you thought I was a dreamer and that there was no way a threat to the Zionist control of our community could ever take hold? Well, a lot has happened in the past eight months. The kids are coming home! All those ‘self-hating’ Jews who isolated themselves from the community not because of a dislike for our culture, heritage, or religion, but because they were told to leave after speaking their mind on the oppression of the Palestinian people, are finding each other, organizing, and coming back.
In Canada, for example, there is a new national umbrella organization called the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians (ACJC), which represents Jews who are opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The ACJC was launched in March when internationally renowned author, journalist, keynote speaker and Canadian Jew Naomi Klein kicked off a national conference that brought together over 100 activist Jews representing 23 different Canadian Jewish groups. The purpose of the ACJC is to provide a counterweight to Jewish organizations that serve as apologists for Israel’s crimes, such as the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC). The ACJC has since put action to words. Recently, for example, it lent support to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers when it became the first national Union in North America to courageously pass a resolution supporting the Palestinian campaign for a Boycott of Israel, and recognizing that Israel has become an apartheid state.
Likewise, in May the ACJC, along with other anti-occupation Jewish groups across North America and the world, heeded the call of the Palestinian people to declare the 60th anniversary of the Naqba (disaster) as No Time to Celebrate (this is a common slogan being used in protest of Israel’s celebrations). Protests were organized worldwide, and in Canada and the United States Jews protested alongside Palestinians and other concerned citizens. In San Francisco, twenty Jews were (unjustly) arrested trying to make themselves heard as Jews opposed to Israel`s crimes. In Britain, over one hundred Jews signed an open letter published in The Guardian, one of the United Kingdom’s leading newspapers, declaring they would not celebrate Israel’s birthday. In Paris, French Jews hung the Palestinian flag on the Eiffel Tower in protest. Here in Canada’s capital of Ottawa, Jews, Palestinians, and other concerned individuals formed a one hundred person-strong silent protest outside the official Israel
celebrations at the Convention Center on May 8th, and then repeated it a few weeks later at another event at the National Arts Center on May 20th. Despite the money and glamour being thrown into making 60 years of Israeli oppression a propaganda campaign to whitewash Israel’s crimes, Jews around the world are promising not to celebrate (one US-based online pledge not to celebrate has over 500 Jewish signatures).

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