Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Israel's National Union party launches racist provocation in Arab town

Palestinians that live in Israel have been smashed off the streets by police as they tried to prevent a bunch of Israeli racists marching through their town. These sort of marches remind me of when the racist, anti-semitic and fascist National Front would attempt to stage provocative marches in the multicultural areas of UK cities in the 1970s.

The police poured huge resources into protecting the NF but we eventually smashed them off the streets through force of numbers, notably in Lewisham, south-east London.

The National Union rally also sounds similar to the sectarian Orange Order marches through Catholic areas of the north of Ireland which were designed as a statement of superiority and supremacy by the Protestants over the Catholics.

Unfortunately in this case in northern Israel it was the police that succeeded, and the racist ant-Arab rally to 'assert sovereignty' went ahead. Mind you in the UK at the time we didn't have to put up with shock grenades and tear gas, although the police still managed to kill one of our number, Blair Peach.

And please, enough already with the 'there's no racism in Israel' line our pro-Israel commenters are fond of spouting.
Violent clashes broke out between the Israeli police and Arab residents of Umm Al-Fahm on Tuesday morning as right-wing Israelis staged a rally in the northern Israeli Arab town.

The police declared the gathering of residents and left-wing activists at the entrance to the town as illegal and demanded that dozens of demonstrators leave the area.

Police responded to stones hurled at them with shock grenades and tear gas.

At the same time, Israeli right-wing activists arrived at the outskirts of the city, accompanied by two bulletproof buses, and marched along a 800-meter stretch with Israeli flags.

More than 2,500 police, volunteers and border police were deployed in the town ahead of the rally in order to prevent violent confrontations between the locals and the protesters.

One hundred right-wingers took part in the rally, which was approved by the Israeli police, and lasted for about 30 minutes.

The procession was led by Itamar Bin-Gvir and Baruch Marzel, two firebrand right-wing activists, and Michael Ben Ari, a newly elected member of Knesset (the Israeli parliament) from the hawkish National Union party.

Below: The People of Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, northern Israel, speak out

UN report says Israel's war on Gaza may be war crime

The UN's Richard Falk is saying that the whole operation, as opposed to just individual instances of criminality, may have been a war crime.
The UN special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, said in a report on Monday that there was "reason" to conclude that Israel's massive military offensive on Gaza in December and January was a war crime.

Falk said that in order to determine if the war was legal, it was necessary to assess if the Israeli forces could differentiate between civilian and military targets in Gaza.

"If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful, and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law," Falk wrote in the report. AFP

The Israelis could differentiate between military and civilian targets, but chose not to, as the Guardian shows today.

A series of three investigations by the Guardian newspaper has unearthed more Israeli war crimes in Gaza. The investigations find that the IDF: used people as human shields; deliberate attacks on medics; and missile attacks from drones on clearly identifiable civilian targets such as hospitals. The stories include video testaments.


Sheffield University occupation escalates as flagship building occupied

Sheffield students have responded to the management's refusal to negotiate by stepping up their action and occupying the prestigious Jessop building. So it's over to Vice Chancellor Keith Burnett for the next move. The Sheffield students are building for a rally on campus this Wednesday.

From Sheffield Uni occupation blog
Sheffield University Occupiers: Occupation Spreads to Jessop West!

The Occupiers in the University of Sheffield have occupied a new space within the University, namely the exhibition centre in Jessop West, a brand new, flagship building for the university. As the time of press, the original occupation in the Hicks building continues throughout the night. Our reasons for expanding the occupation are as follows:

- Threats from the University management to evict students and workers from the original space.
- A complete lockdown was instigated, denying free movement for Occupiers and supporters.
- To increase pressure on University management after they went back on a promise to negotiate with the Occupiers.
- Throughout the occupation, the management had accused the Occupiers of disrupting students’ education, and as a result, those involved have occupied a new space in which no lectures and seminars take place. This serves to demonstrate our continuing commitment to not disrupting students’ education.

UK war on terror steps up war on civil rights

Fighting for solidarity with Gaza can make you a bit paranoid if you live in Britain.

This morning we hear the police - presumably led by the same territorial support group racists that beat up Babar Ahmad and whose minders have now lost 'sackfuls of evidence' concerning that arrest and detention - have rounded up six people who took part in demonstrations in London during the Gaza War. The six have been arrested on the basis of 'intelligence gathered', in other words photographs taken of peaceful protesters at those gatherings.

Just yesterday a parliamentary report challenged the police handling of demos as often provocative, and including the targeting of journalists as well as peaceful protesters. The police modus operandi on demos now seems to be: attack - as they did in the underpass near Hyde Park on the second large demo in December - and when people fight back take a picture of them 'attacking the police'.

The police say that these six arrests are just the beginning of their campaign of intimidation - of Muslim kids in particular and protesters in general. According to police they have 40 people in their sights.

In a carefully orchestrated pincer movement (if you're a bit paranoid that's how you could see it) the Charity Commission has opened an investigation into how the Viva Palestina aid convoy spent its money. Well I for one think the commission is welcome to go to Gaza and see what the use the fishing communities are making of the boat that was delivered, or how the kids are playing with their new toys and the medical aid in use in the hospitals. But this investigation, like all the others in the past that found no wrong doing (Mariam Appeal, InterPal), has nothing to do with good regulation and everything to do with intimidating people who might be inclined to give money to Muslim or Pro-Palestinian charities.

And these two initiatives from on high come in the wake of the UK government's 'revised' counter terrorism strategy that aims to 'confront the ideology behind extremism' by highlighting our 'shared values' of 'democracy, tolerance and human rights'. The democracy of going to war against Iraq in defiance of the wishes of the majority of the population, the tolerance of allowing an Israeli war criminal into the country but not a journalist from a Hezbollah-leaning title in Lebanon, and the human rights that allow the British government and its agencies to direct torture operations in various locales around the globe.

And Sky News reports today that the CIA sees UK Muslims as the prime candidates for launching an attack on the US and is co-operating with UK intelligence services in surveillance of the 'Pakistani Muslim' population. So if any followers of Islam you know disappear rather abruptly, don't blame it on the rapture that 40% of the US population believe will whisk the 'saved' up to heaven, blame it on rendition. Despite claims of wanting to engage with the 'Muslim community' the government also made it known today that it doesn't like who the Muslim Council of Britain has appointed as its deputy general secretary and so has broken off contact with the organisation. The MCB is the largest such entity in the country. What a joke.

While the UK 'trains' caretakers, sanitation workers and other ordinary people to spy on others and learn how to spot 'extremists', we need to be getting organised politically. That's the best defence against the ever shriller tones of the witch hunters.

So please understand our cynicism when we are told that the new watchwords of the UK version of the war on terror are: prevent, pursue, protect, prepare (Protect and Survive was the title of a laughable little manual from HM Government during the Cold War with handy - but useless - little tips on how not to get radiated). What the government's latest 'Ps' mean is prevent dissent, pursue protesters, protect the abusers and torturers and prepare for the next war.