Thursday, 29 January 2009

Hunger Strike enters day two – Protest continues against Sri Lankan Genocide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE on 29 January 2009 (Via

A hunger strike calling upon the Australian government to support calls for a unilateral cease-fire in war torn Sri Lanka, enters its second day in Sydney’s CBD.

Organised by the Australian Tamil Students (ATS), a national coalition of tertiary students, the protest aims to bring light to the intolerable silence and lack of international condemnation to the unfolding genocide in Sri Lanka.

Backed by hundreds of supporters, members of the Sri Lankan community continue to maintain their “Fast Until Action” campaign in Martin Place, in an attempt to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka amidst intensified bombing by Government forces on territory held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

The protestors, who have unequivocally stated that they will continue to fast until the Australian Government responds to its demands, remain optimistic and determined, despite sweltering heat, with temperatures reaching above 30 degrees.

“Our determination remains as strong as ever. The response from the public has been amazing, now we ask Kevin Rudd to share the sentiments of concern and anger as expressed the public and support our demand for a ceasefire”. - Sriharan Manoharan, ATS member and co-organiser.

The campaign comes only days after the Sri Lankan military is said to have killed 300 Tamil civilians in an agreed “safety zone”, where government ministers had earlier instructed people to take shelter, promising safe refuge.

The participants are calling on the Australian government to condemn the attacks on civilian populations and support calls for a ceasefire, as aid organisations and some other governments have.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) describes the ground situation as a humanitarian crisis, with over 250,000 civilians trapped in area’s under military bombardment, without adequate food, shelter and medical supplies: “People are being caught in the crossfire, hospitals and ambulances have been hit by shelling…When the dust settles, we may see countless victims and a terrible humanitarian situation”. ICRC’s Jacques de Maio,

Organisers anticipate widespread media interest throughout the day, and have ensured doctors are on standby amidst warnings of a searing heat wave expected to hit this afternoon.

Weblog of Protests -

Media Contacts:

Mr Myuran Elango - 0411 290 413

Dr Sam Pari - 0433 428 967

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The video the BBC doesn't want the British people to see

That emergency appeal for humanitarian aid for Gaza that BBC refuses to broadcast? Watch it for yourself:


The video was made when the death toll was "just" "a few hundred," and it is completely apolitical (the word "Israel" doesn't even appear in the script), the power of its images alone is self-evident, making it rather clear why the BBC doesn't want it seen. Reality, in this case, has an anti-Israel bias.

Of course, this hasn't stopped the BBC from retreating in the face of Israeli pressure, for fear of this so-called bias, despite public protests. Veteran Labour socialist Tony Benn took them strongly to task on the matter:

Kanaky (New Caledonia): Anti-capitalism and independence

Workers march in Noumea, Kanaky, May 1, 2008. Photo USKTE.

By Bernard Alleton, translated by Sam Wainwright for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Rouge, issue 2280 -- December 25, 2008 -- One year after its founding by the Kanak and Exploited Workers Union (Union syndicale des travailleurs kanaks et des exploités:USTKE[1]), the Kanaky Labour Party (Parti travailliste: PT) held its first congress in November 2008 in Noumea. The Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue communiste révolutionnaire: LCR[2]) sent a representative who conveyed a message of fraternal solidarity.

The balance sheet of first year of the Kanaky PT is largely positive. In the municipal elections in March, four months after it was formed, the PT ran candidates in fourteen of the territory’s thirty-three communes resulting in thirty elected representatives. This demonstrates its genuine implantation. More generally, the PT knew how to take on the lethargy of the other parties that claim to struggle for independence. They have been integrated into the institutions of colonial administration, set in place in Paris through the Matignon-Oudinot Accords of 1988 and the Noumea Accords of 1998. This has led them to favour the defence of these institutions and the place of individuals within them as the creation of structures for a future independent country. For several months now independence has been put back into the political debate in a way that does not treat it like some distant dream.

This also explains the radicalisation of the local pro-colonial right-wing forces, which according to Pierre Frogier (UMP)[3] want “to purge this question of independence, which people don’t talk about anymore, so we can move onto other things”. They propose to finish with the “Kanak problem” with the 2014 referendum on independence. This is also the line of the Socialist Party (PS), for whom “the concept of independence no longer has meaning in a multipolar world and a globalised economy”. They all effectively deny the fact that since 1986 New Caledonia has been on the UN list of territories to be decolonised and the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

The PT congress was an opportunity to make an assessment of the twenty years of the “transfer of competencies” which required Kanaks to be drawn into the centre of governmental machinery. For the most part the promises made by the colonial state have not been kept. The training which was supposed to allow Kanaks to reach every level of society has failed, to the extent that not one is a lawyer, judge or state prosecutor; and only one has become a doctor! Dozens of young Kanaks have studied in France. On return they cannot generally access jobs corresponding to their qualifications, so they opt for self-exile in neighbouring countries or France.

Ecological issues

In both secondary and tertiary education the transfer of competencies is promised to be “on the way”. In the meantime, young people continue to learn in earnest about the geography of the Alps and the machinery of the European Union. What happened in Kanaky before France “discovered” the territory in 1853? Who was Chief Attaï[4]? What is the code de l’indigénat[5] that governed the lives of their parents and grandparents until 1946? So many questions the answers to which Kanaks only find outside of school. The Kanak languages still have no place in the schools, the French Senate even voted on June 18, 2008, that they have no place in the constitution of the republic. The PT proposes an education system that takes the needs of young Kanaks as its starting point and that is adapted to their culture and environment.

Economic policy, notably the development of downstream processing of nickel by multinational corporations, has been implemented largely excluding the local population.[6] Les Métropolitains (French expatriates) have come to make the most of the boom and been hired in big numbers. In the south the construction of the Goro processing plant has brought with it years of struggle against the destruction of the environment caused by the new industrial processes.[7] Several million euros have gone to carefully chosen politicians because of these environmental battles. Right in the thick of these struggles, the PT has not taken a backwards step. It puts its demand for the respect of the territory’s ecological future at the centre of its resolutions.

For the multinationals, their approach to the exploitation of this ore centres on the fluctuations of the price of nickel on the world market, dropping from US$50,000 a tonne in July 2007 to less than $10,000 today. What might happen “post-nickel” is not really their concern. The local deposits are estimated to last for about another one hundred years. What will become of the territory when its mineral resources have been exhausted for the benefit of the multinationals and not invested in the country’s long term development? The PT asks these questions and demands, for the future of Kanaky, an overall mining plan of action and a new distribution of the wealth produced.

If ecology has an important place in the program of the PT it is because it is a necessary condition for the continuation of Kanak culture, in which humans draw their life force from the earth and the natural world. It is also a pressing necessity in the French colonies in which, by deliberate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol is not applicable. Some twenty pesticides, banned in France because of the danger they pose, are allowed and used. There are no laws relating to the protection of the coastline. The PT is the only party to have written into its constitution that “the protection of the environment is an integral part of its struggle”.

Colonial justice

The provincial elections in May will be the last before the referendum on self-determination foreshadowed by the Noumea Accord. Ratified by a vote in 1999, the accord set a referendum for 2014. Consequently, the next elections will be very important for shaping the future of the country. The view of the PT is clear: Kanaks are ready for independence. If they wait until the colonial power is ready to give it to them (as it keeps telling them, in a paternalistic way) then they must wait several more decades to be trained up and reap the benefits of colonisation. The French minister for education Xavier Darcos declared again in October 2008 that he was still “personally in favour” of “school curricula recognising the positive role of the French presence in the overseas territories”. He did not specify how long he thought colonial rule should continue.

The PT is firmly in favour of a move to complete independence in 2014. The French colonies that won independence after the Second World War were no more ready and often had fewer natural resources.

The PT’s claim to independence has got the pro-colonial right wing especially worried. This explains in part the increased repression of the USTKE unionists. Police and judicial harassment of union leaders, early morning searches and interrogations, attacks on picket lines, and sentences by the colonial justice system of several months in prison and tens of thousands of euros in fines are all signs that the colonial state is taking a tougher line.


Unfortunately in this context the parties of the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (Front de la libération nationale kanak et socialiste: FLNKS[8]) have not shown any solidarity at all, preferring to continue to soak up the spoils of their deal with the state. The basic principles of the independence struggle, reaffirmed by the PT, have long since been packed away by the FLNKS; despite its status at the UN as the legitimate representative of the Kanak peoples’ right to independence. The appearance of the PT on the electoral scene has pushed the Union calédonienne (Caledonian Union, UC) and the Parti de liberation kanak (Palika-Kanak Liberation Party), the main components of the FLNKS, to add a dash of pro-independence talk to their rhetoric, but without questioning the essentials of a society founded on such an inequitable sharing of wealth.

For the PT challenging the social and economic system that continues to make the very rich even richer while driving the poor into further poverty, especially the indigenous Kanak people, is the basis for a viable independent country. The challenge is not one of cutting themselves off from the world or throwing non-Kanaks into the sea, it is about really allowing the people to decide how they want to live, on what economic basis and in what framework of international relations. The PT congress decided to keep Kanaky as the name of an independent country and that the flag should still be the one popularised by the FLNKS since 1984.

The PT congress also adopted several motions detailing the program that it will campaign on for the upcoming elections, including: the protection of local jobs and control over immigration (the number of settlers has increased by 20% in the last ten years); to reopen a discussion on housing policy (significant shanty towns have grown up around Noumea); the development of regions where there is no nickel; the future of the fishing industry and fish farming.

In France the PS today, just as when it was in power, does not support independence. It only speaks out to defend the generous retirement benefits of public servants in the territory, in a place where the minimum wage is way less than the France’s own indexed guaranteed minimum wage. The New Anti-Capitalist Party, like the LCR before it, supports the Kanak people’s right to self-determination and their right to live with dignity in their own land. It will lend its support to the PT candidates in the provincial elections next May.

[Rouge is the newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue communiste révolutionnaire: LCR) in France.]

[1] Kanak and Exploited Workers Union (Union syndicale des travailleurs kanaks et des exploités: USTKE), founded in 1981; has always seen the necessity for its struggles and demands to have a political expression.

[2] Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue communiste révolutionnaire: LCR), Frances’s most influential far-left political organisation, soon to dissolve into the New Anti-Capitalist Party (Nouveau parti anticapitaliste: NPA).

[3] Union for a Popular Majority (Union pour un mouvement populaire: UMP), the political party of French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

[4] In 1878 Chief Attaï led armed resistance in a revolt that ended with the colonial forces massacring 5% of the Kanak population.

[5] The administrative system applying to the indigenous populations of French colonies before 1945.

[6] Nickel is the country’s largest natural resource (the second largest reserves in the world), which is used in the production of stainless steel.

[7] In the first project effluent from the refinery, which inevitable contains heavy metals, recorded levels of manganese 100 times greater than usual.

[8] Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (Front de la libération nationale kanak et socialiste: FLNKS), founded in 1984 and formerly uniting all the pro-independence parties.

World At A Crossroads: Fighting For Socialism In The 21st Century



International speakers from:


(initial list of speakers below)

Easter 2009, April 10-12


Venue: Sydney Girls High, Cnr Anzac Pde & Cleveland St, Surry Hills

For more info’ and to buy your tickets:

Email: or

Phone: (+ 612) 9690 1230


A conference that brings together socialists and progressive activists from around Australia, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and North America in dozens of panel presentations and workshops over four days to discuss the urgent questions of our time, including:

* The capitalist economic crisis: Putting people and planet before corporate profits
* Stopping global warming: Social change, not climate change
* Emerging alternatives to capitalism: The Venezuelan revolution and anti-imperialist rebellion in Latin America

* Crisis in the Middle East: Resisting imperialism and war
* Organising to fight for a better world: Building mass movements, alliances and left parties

* and more…..see below for more info on panels and workshops, or visit

Initial list of international speakers:

MICHAEL LEBOWITZ, Venezuela & Canada - Reknowned Marxist economist; researcher at the Centro Internacional Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela; author of Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class, winner of the Isaac Deutscher memorial prize (2004).

REIHANA MOHIDEEN, Philippines - Chairperson of Transform Asia, a gender and labour institute, Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM) International Department

IAN ANGUS, Canada - Founder of the Ecosocialist International Network; editor of Climate and Capitalism, Marxist historian; and writer and activist on environmental issues.

LUIS BILBAO, Venezuela & Argentina – Marxist journalist and author, central participant in the construction of the mass United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

KAVITA KRISHNAN, India – Former president of the All India Students' Association (1999-2006), Central Committee member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist); editor of Liberation.

PLUS: Roger Annis, Socialist Voice and Haiti solidarity in Canada; Daphne Lawless and Vaughan Gunson, Socialist Worker-New Zealand; Tomas Freitas, Luta Hamutuk, Timor Leste; Nelson Davila, Venezuelan Ambassador to Australia; and representatives from the People's Democratic Party in Indonesia, the Socialist Party of Malaysia and the Labour Party Pakistan.

Topic streams include:


Capitalism's crisis and socialist economic alternatives

Capitalist economic crisis: Its impacts and responses in South-East Asia

Models and experiences of public and social ownership

The history of anti-capitalist activism during economic crises

Understanding Marxist economics

Recessions, jobs and workers' control


Achieving a just transition to environmental sustainability

Constructing a red-green alliance to save the planet

The social roots of the climate crisis

Working for green unions in the 21st century

Food and water crisis: Capitalism, agribusiness and the food sovereignty alternative

Climate refugees and the "overpopulation" debate

Climate change solutions: What role for the market?

Sustainable cities: The social versus the individual

Constructing a red-green alliance to save the planet


Latin America: Revolt, revolution and socialism in the 21st century

Building popular power: Workers' control, communal councils and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela

50 years of the Cuban Revolution

A history of Central American revolutions: Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador

Defeating capitalism and counter-revolution: The struggle for socialism in Venezuela

Latin American integration: Anti-imperialist cooperation or regional capitalist development?

Evo Morales and Bolivia's Indigenous revolution


What solution to the crisis in the Middle East?

The world after Bush: Obama and US imperialism

Who are Hamas and Hezbollah?

The undeclared war against Pakistan

Israel - An apartheid state

Iraq and Afghanistan; The US' unwinnable wars for oil

War on terror or war on Muslims?


Building socialist parties in the 21st century

Theory and practice of left unity in Australia and internationally

Socialists in parliament: Constructing left electoral alliances

The crisis of social democracy

Stalinism, Leninism and the legacy of the Russian Revolution


Australia's radical history

Why be a Marxist today? Introduction to Resistance and the DSP

Women's oppression and liberation

Australia's black history: Struggles for Aboriginal rights

Same-sex marriage rights

Marxism and nationalism

Reports on the people’s struggles in Asia, Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Oceania

Organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance

Sponsored by Green Left Weekly

Saturday, 24 January 2009

BHP cries poor and sacks thousands: let affected workers and communities see BHP’s accounts!

January 23, 2009

On January 21, BHP-Billiton – “the big Australian” – announced the sacking of 3400 workers across Australia . The company will close its Ravensthorpe nickel mine and downgrade its Mt Keith nickel sulphide mine in Western Australia. It will slash jobs at a nickel refinery and slash production of coking coal in Queensland. It will also sack 200 workers as a result of abandoning a proposed expansion of the Olympic Dam in South Australia.

In the 2007-08 financial year, BHP registered profits of $15.4 billion. While the company has been hit by the global slump in commodity prices, its profit outlook for 2008-09 still remains rosy, with an expectation of $13.3 billion according to the January 20 Herald Sun.

“Neither the federal government nor the ACTU should stand for BHP now crying poor and sacking so many workers at the cost of lives and communities”, Margarita Windisch, Socialist Alliance national co-convenor said. “They should insist that BHP open its accounts to public scrutiny.

“It should be up to BHP’s workers and the communities that service its facilities to decide what is a ‘reasonable’ profit – not BHP shareholders.”

Windisch added: “BHP-Billiton is hardly on the brink of collapse. The ‘big Australian’ has made billions over the years on the back of Australian workers. It also received millions of dollars of public money in the 1980s from the federal Steel Plan, which it used to restructure and sack workers.

For the Socialist Alliance spokesperson the response from the federal Labor government has been “underwhelming”. Calling an immediate press conference, federal treasurer Wayne Swann described BHP’s actions as “a tragedy” and a “sobering reminder” of the evaporation of the mining boom, but promised nothing.

Yet, apart from the immediate impact on the sacked workers, BHP’s decision will also devastate regional towns in WA and Queensland.

Windisch said: “The town of Hopetoun, which services the Ravensworth mine has been left in tatters by BHP’s decision. Families with large mortgages now face the prospect of their homes being virtually worthless and being saddled with debts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“If BHP is really near collapse, the federal government should step-in and nationalise it without compensation to large investors. Too many workers, too many families, too many communities are affected by BHP’s actions to allow this decision to be made by the bean-counters.”

Windisch concluded: “Where BHP has been affected by the global resources slow-down, it should be obligated to share the necessary work around all existing workers, without loss in pay.

“The Rudd government should also insist that BHP fully reimburses all workers for the cost of lost value of homes, the cost of relocation and retraining on full pay where necessary. For years BHP has had its hand in the pockets of the Australian taxpayer. It’s time that the BHP gave that money back to the community, starting with its own workforce.”

Comment: Margarita Windisch 0438 869 790

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Why Israel won't survive

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 19 January 2009

From a hill just outside the Gaza Strip, Israelis watch the air assaults on Gaza and dance in celebration of the attacks, 8 January 2009. (Newscom)

The merciless Israeli bombardment of Gaza has stopped -- for now -- but the death toll keeps rising as more bodies are pulled from carpet- bombed neighborhoods.

What Israel perpetrated in Gaza, starting at 11:30am on 27 December 2008, will remain forever engraved in history and memory. Tel al-Hawa, Hayy al-Zeitoun, Khuzaa and other sites of Israeli massacres will join a long mournful list that includes Deir Yasin, Qibya, Kufr Qasim, Sabra and Shatila, Qana, and Jenin.

Once again, Israel demonstrated that it possesses the power and the lack of moral restraint necessary to commit atrocities against a population of destitute refugees it has caged and starved.

The dehumanization and demonization of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims has escalated to the point where Israel can with full self- righteousness bomb their homes, places of worship, schools, universities, factories, fishing boats, police stations -- in short everything that sustains civilized and orderly life -- and claim it is conducting a war against terrorism.

Yet paradoxically, it is Israel as a Zionist state, not Palestine or the Palestinian people, that cannot survive this attempted genocide.

Israel's "war" was not about rockets -- they served the same role in its narrative as the non-existent weapons of mass destruction did as the pretext for the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Israel's real goals were to restore its "deterrence" fatally damaged after its 2006 defeat in Lebanon (translation: its ability to massacre and terrorize entire populations into submission) and to destroy any Palestinian resistance to total Israeli-Jewish control over historic Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

With Hamas and other resistance factions removed or fatally weakened, Israel hoped the way would be clear to sign a "peace" deal with chief Palestinian collaborator Mahmoud Abbas to manage Palestinians on Israel's behalf until they could be forced out once and for all.

The US-backed "moderate" dictatorships and absolute monarchies led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia supported the Israeli plan hoping to demonstrate to their own people that resistance -- whether against Israel or their own bankrupt regimes -- was futile.

To win, Israel had to break Palestinian resistance. It failed. On the contrary, it galvanized and unified Palestinians like never before. All factions united and fought heroically for 23 days. According to well-informed and credible sources Israel did little harm to the modest but determined military capacity of the resistance. So instead Israel did what it does best: it massacred civilians in the hope that the population would turn against those fighting the occupier.

Israel not only unified the resistance factions in Gaza; its brutality rallied all Palestinians and Arabs.

It is often claimed that Arab regimes whip up anti-Israel anger to distract their populations from their own failings. Actually, Israel, the US and subservient Arab regimes tried everything -- especially demonizing Iran and inciting sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims -- to distract their populations from Palestine.

All this failed as millions of people across the region marched in support of Palestinian resistance, and the Arab regimes who hoped to benefit from the slaughter in Gaza have been exposed as partners in the Israeli atrocities. In popular esteem, Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions earned their place alongside Hizballah as effective bulwarks against Israeli and Western colonialism.

If there was ever a moment when the peoples of the region would accept Israel as a Zionist state in their midst, that has passed forever.

But anyone surveying the catastrophe in Gaza -- the mass destruction, the death toll of more than 100 Palestinians for every Israeli, the thousands of sadistic injuries -- would surely conclude that Palestinians could never overcome Israel and resistance is a delusion at best.

True, in terms of ability to murder and destroy, Israel is unmatched. But Israel's problem is not, as its propaganda insists, "terrorism" to be defeated by sufficient application of high explosives. Its problem is legitimacy, or rather a profound and irreversible lack of it. Israel simply cannot bomb its way to legitimacy.

Israel was founded as a "Jewish state" through the ethnic cleansing of Palestine's non-Jewish majority Arab population. It has been maintained in existence only through Western support and constant use of violence to prevent the surviving indigenous population from exercising political rights within the country, or returning from forced exile.

Despite this, today, 50 percent of the people living under Israeli rule in historic Palestine (Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip) are Palestinians, not Jews. And their numbers are growing rapidly. Like Nationalists in Northern Ireland or non-whites in South Africa, Palestinians will never recognize the "right" of a settler-colonial society to maintain an ethnocractic state at their expense through violence, repression and racism.

For years, the goal of the so-called peace process was to normalize Israel as a "Jewish state" and gain Palestinians' blessing for their own dispossession and subjugation. When this failed, Israel tried "disengagement" in Gaza -- essentially a ruse to convince the rest of the world that the 1.5 million Palestinians caged in there should no longer be counted as part of the population. They were in Israel's definition a "hostile entity."

In his notorious May 2004 interview with The Jerusalem Post, Arnon Soffer, an architect of the 2005 disengagement explained that the approach "doesn't guarantee 'peace,' it guarantees a Jewish- Zionist state with an overwhelming majority of Jews." Soffer predicted that in the future "when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful."

He was unambiguous about what Israel would have to do to maintain this status quo: "If we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day." Soffer hoped that eventually, Palestinians would give up and leave Gaza altogether.

Through their resistance, steadfastness and sacrifice, Palestinians in Gaza have defeated this policy and reasserted that they are an inseparable part of Palestine, its people, its history and its future.

Israel is not the first settler-colonial entity to find itself in this position. When F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid president, came to office in 1989, his generals calculated that solely with the overwhelming military force at their disposal, they could keep the regime in power for at least a decade. The casualties, however, would have run into hundreds of thousands, and South Africa would face ever greater isolation. Confronted with this reality, de Klerk took the decision to begin an orderly dismantling of apartheid.

What choice will Israel make? In the absence of any political and moral legitimacy the only arguments it has left are bullets and bombs. Left to its own devices Israel will certainly keep trying -- as it has for sixty years -- to massacre Palestinians into submission. Israel's achievement has been to make South Africa's apartheid leaders look wise, restrained and humane by comparison.

But what prevented South Africa's white supremacist government from escalating their own violence to Israeli levels of cruelty and audacity was not that they had greater scruples than the Zionist regime. It was recognition that they alone could not stand against a global anti-apartheid movement that was in solidarity with the internal resistance.

Israel's "military deterrent" has now been repeatedly discredited as a means to force Palestinians and other Arabs to accept Zionist supremacy as inevitable and permanent. Now, the other pillar of Israeli power -- Western support and complicity -- is starting to crack. We must do all we can to push it over.

Israel began its massacres with full support from its Western "friends." Then something amazing happened. Despite the official statements of support, despite the media censorship, despite the slick Israeli hasbara (propaganda) campaign, there was a massive, unprecedented public mobilization in Europe and even in North America expressing outrage and disgust.

Gaza will likely be seen as the turning point when Israeli propaganda lost its power to mystify, silence and intimidate as it has for so long. Even the Nazi Holocaust, long deployed by Zionists to silence Israel's critics, is becoming a liability; once unimaginable comparisons are now routinely heard. Jewish and Palestinian academics likened Israel's actions in Gaza to the Nazi massacre in the Warsaw Ghetto. A Vatican cardinal referred to Gaza as a "giant concentration camp." UK Member of Parliament Gerald Kaufman, once a staunch Zionist, told the House of Commons, "My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow, [Poland]. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed." Kaufman continued, "my grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza." He denounced the Israeli military spokesperson's justifications as the words "of a Nazi."

It wasn't only such statements, but the enormous demonstrations, the nonviolent direct actions, and the unprecedented expressions of support for boycott, divestment and sanctions from major trade unions in Italy, Canada and New Zealand. An all-party group of city councillors in Birmingham, Europe's second largest municipal government, urged the UK government to follow suit. Salma Yaqoub of the RESPECT Party explained that "One of the factors that helped bring an end to the brutal apartheid regime in South Africa was international pressure for economic, sporting and cultural boycotts. It is time that Israel started to feel similar pressure from world opinion."

Israel, its true nature as failed, brutal colonial project laid bare in Gaza, is extremely vulnerable to such a campaign. Little noticed amidst the carnage in Gaza, Israel took another momentous step towards formal apartheid when the Knesset elections committee voted to ban Arab parties from participating in upcoming elections. Zionism, an ideology of racial supremacy, extremism and hate, is a dying project, in retreat and failing to find new recruits. With enough pressure, and relatively quickly, Israelis too would likely produce their own de Klerk ready to negotiate a way out. Every new massacre makes it harder, but a de-zionized, decolonized, reintegrated Palestine affording equal rights to all who live in it, regardless of religion or ethnicity, and return for refugees is not a utopian dream.

It is within reach, in our lifetimes. But it is far from inevitable. We can be sure that Western and Arab governments will continue to support Israeli apartheid and Palestinian collaboration under the guise of the "peace process" unless decisively challenged. Israeli massacres will continue and escalate until the nightmare of an Israeli- style "peace" -- apartheid and further ethnic cleansing -- is fulfilled.

The mobilizations of the past three weeks showed that a different world is possible and within our grasp if we support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Although they will never get to see it, that world would be a fitting memorial for all of Israel's victims.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).

Related Links

Latest articles on EI:

Palestine : Diaries: Live from Palestine: Profound psychological damage in Gaza (21 January 2009)
Palestine : Diaries: Live from Palestine: In Gaza, love is the strongest weapon (21 January 2009)
Palestine : Development: Gaza's displaced seek shelter from cold (21 January 2009)
Palestine : Development: Egypt bent at the border (21 January 2009)
Palestine : Human Rights: Up to 200 still missing under Gaza's rubble (21 January 2009)
Palestine : Multimedia: Audio: Abunimah, Finkelstein, Mearsheimer discuss Israel's attacks on Gaza (21 January 2009)
Palestine : Development: Israel's "Dahiya Doctrine" comes to Gaza (20 January 2009)
Palestine : Multimedia: Photostory: Israel attacks UN school in Gaza (20 January 2009)
Palestine : Diaries: Live from Palestine: A child full of light will never see again (20 January 2009)
Palestine : Opinion/Editorial: Israel's right to defend itself (20 January 2009)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Gaza protests must continue until criminal Israeli siege ends

Socialist Alliance Statement

19 January 2009

For 22 days the Israel armed forces bombed, shelled and strafed the suburbs, villages and camps of Gaza before unilaterally declaring a cease-fire on January 18.

The death toll has already exceeded 1300, including more than 400 children—an entirely predictable result of the precision bombings of buildings where people had fled for their safety and of the use of such horror weapons as white phosphorous.

Israel’s military occupation of Gaza is the intensification of its a year-and-a-half of near total siege, itself an act of war directed at all the people of Gaza. Even before the Israel assault the siege was causing a dreadful humanitarian disaster.

But this cease-fire is not an end to Israel’s war. It is not a genuine ceasefire while the siege continues and while Israeli troops are still in Gaza.

The war and the slaughter will not end because the people of Gaza will continue to fight on in whatever ways they can. The latest massacre is not a stand-alone event, but a continuation of the ongoing Israeli oppression of Palestinian people, which started over 60 years ago. Two thirds (one million) of the Gaza population are refugees from the 1948 ethnic cleansing (“Al Nakba”), still living in refugee camps and waiting for a just solution”.

They know that Hamas is their legitimate, freely elected representative. Indeed this “terrorist organisation” happens to be one of the very few elected government in the Middle East. Palestinians in Gaza are being punished by Israel for voting for Hamas and for exercising their right to self-defence against the Israeli seige.

The will of the Palestinian people to resist can only have been strengthened by the massive outpouring of global solidarity over the past three weeks. People from around the world, including tens of thousands inside Israel itself, have taken to the streets in protests that have grown bigger as the war has continued. Because of this vast and unprecedented solidarity response, the Zionist state is already paying a very large political price for its military advances.

The Socialist Alliance believes that the solidarity campaign with Gaza must look for all possible ways to isolate Israel. A campaign to boycott companies with economic ties to Israel is already underway, with Israeli anti-war activists calling for the placing of sanctions on the country.

The Socialist Alliance repeats its call on the Rudd government to break ties with Israel over its war crimes, following the example of the Bolivian and Venezuelan governments. It must also recognise Hamas as the legitimate government of Gaza, and remove it from the Attorney-General’s list of terrorist organisations.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions should a follow its New Zealand counterpart, at the very least demanding that the federal government revoke the credentials of the Israeli ambassador, cut contacts with Israeli military and intelligence officials, ban goods manufactured in the Occupied Territories, ensure that the government does not make use of Israeli products or services in its procurement provisions, and end working holiday schemes for young Israelis.

Moreover, the burgeoning movement for justice for Palestinians needs to grow in its diversity and unity. All who want to see Israel’s military occupation ended and its criminal siege lifted must be able to stand together with equal right of participation in the movement.

This particularly applies to Australia’s Muslim communities, the victims since the Howard years of the worst campaigns of vilification and scapegoating.

In this way all supporters of freedom for Palestine will help build a movement powerful enough to make ongoing support for Israel too high a political price for the Rudd government to pay. In turn, the Israeli regime, increasingly deprived of the backing of its powerful friends in the US, UK and Australia, will have to retreat.

The strength of the movement against Israeli aggression against Gaza lies in its unity and determination to keep protesting until the Israeli military withdraws and the siege is lifted. The Socialist Alliance calls on its members and supporters to redouble efforts to strengthen solidarity with the suffering but unbowed Palestinian people.

Comment and further information

Sydney: Tim Dobson 0413 928 894 Melbourne: Ema Corro 0406 402 401 Brisbane: Paul Benedek 0410 629 088 Adelaide: Ruth Ratcliffe 0403 679 742 Hobart: Rose Matthews 0407 550 805 Perth: Sam Wainwright 0412 751 508 Canberra: Karl Miller 0403 964 247 Geelong: Tim Gooden 0438 088 112 Newcastle: Niko Leka 0406 296 141 Wollongong: Chris Williams 0425 329 963 Cairns: Jonathan Strauss 0431 683 088

For Arabic language media: Soubhi Iskander 02 9769 1991 or 0425 289 885

Monday, 19 January 2009

Peace requires justice — freedom for Palestine

GLW Editorial, 17 January 2009

The January 15 bombing with white phosphorous of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that housed hundreds of refugees and humanitarian aid was not an isolated incident.

Israel bombed civilian areas for 22 days continually until unilaterally declaring a cease-fire on January 18 that includes Israeli military occupation of Gaza, the continuation of the siege that is causing a humanitarian disaster and promising to begin the slaughter anew if Palestinians continue resisting the Israeli military — as Hamas has said it will.

This is not an end to Israel’s war.

The death toll by January 18 had exceeded 1200, including more than 400 children. There are many reports of precision bombings of buildings that the Israeli military is aware house people who have fled for their safety. The Israeli military has also reportedly shot at fleeing civilians.

The military offensive comes on the back of a year-and-a-half of near total siege, itself an act of war directed at all the people of Gaza.

Israel can deny this all it likes, but its actions scream louder: it has been deliberately targeting civilians and its war is not simply against the governmental authorities in Gaza (the establishment media only ever refer to these legitimate bodies as “Hamas”, as if you could only refer to the Bush administration as “Republicans”), but against the entire population.

The homemade rockets fired from Gaza are merely an excuse: Israel’s aim is ethnic cleansing.

Founded in 1948 on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the territory it now claims, Israel is seeking to destroy the Palestinian people as a people with a claim to nationhood.

The existence of territory recognised as Palestinian is a permanent reminder of the legitimate claims of the dispossessed Palestinian people — and a reminder of the fundamental injustice of a state that exists by and for only one section of the population. Like in South Africa, this is a system of apartheid, colour-coded license plates and all.

It is perfectly clear that Israel has no intention of allowing a Palestinian state to exist alongside it. It has buried the “two-state solution” under the rubble in Gaza.

Ultimately, the solution to the oppression of Palestinians must involve the creation of genuine equality — a state for everyone in the area regardless of their religion or race.

Inside the borders of Israel, Palestinians who remain are referred to as “Israeli Arabs”; the Israeli state cannot even bring itself to refer to them by their proper name.

And now, the state that claims to be the “only democracy” in the region has banned “Israeli Arab” parties from standing in its elections.

The response of the world’s people has been inspiring: a global intifada in support of the people of Gaza is occurring. People from every corner of the globe, including tens of thousands inside Israel, have taken to the streets in demonstrations that have grown bigger as the war has continued.

Even inside the US, Israel’s strongest backer, opposition is strong. A December 31 Rasmussen poll revealed that opposition to Israel’s war among Democrat voters was 24 points greater than support.

On January 20, Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the new US president. If the new president is serious about “change”, he should immediately cease military and political support for Israel.

Such an act would force Israel to stop its genocidal path and force a solution to the central question of Palestinian self-determination.

The international solidarity campaign is looking for ways to isolate Israel. A campaign to boycott companies with economic ties to Israel is underway. A letter from Israeli anti-war activists has raised the demand of placing sanctions on Israel.

The demand on governments to break ties with Israel over its war crimes is crucial. The decision to do just that by the anti-imperialist governments headed by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia sets a powerful example.

In Australia, we must demand our government does the same and immediately expel Israel’s ambassador.

More than anything, the movement for justice for Palestinians needs unity.

With or without Israel’s unilateral cease-fire, this is a crucial moment and everyone who wants to see Israel’s military occupation ended and the criminal siege lifted — whatever else we may or may not agree on — must stand together. The people of the world are horrified by Israel’s crimes and our strength is our numbers.

If the global solidarity movement continues growing and giving expression to popular outrage, we will have a movement powerful enough to make support for Israel too high a political price for governments to pay. This is an essential component of the struggle to win freedom for Palestine.

From: Comment & Analysis, Green Left Weekly issue #779 21 January 2009.

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Ninety Years of Red Rosa

17 January 2009

Rosa Luxemburg, one of the great figures of the socialist movement, was callously murdered in Berlin on January 15, 1919.

By cruelly smashing her brains out with a rifle butt, the German social democrats who ordered her killing silenced one of the socialist movement’s most articulate voices and one of the most passionate defenders of the right of workers to revolt.

Born in 1871 in the provincial Polish town of Zamosc, she joined the underground revolutionary movement at age 16.

Within two years the police chased her into exile in Switzerland. It is said that she managed to talk a reactionary priest into helping her escape by pretending that her Jewish parents were preventing her from marrying a Catholic.

In Switzerland she studied economics and natural sciences and honed her theoretical skills in the intense debates raging in emigre Marxist circles.

When she joined the German Social Democratic party (SPD) in 1898 she debated with Eduard Bernstein, an established SPD leader who denied Marxism was a revolutionary doctrine.

Her incisive articles on the subject were published together in a famous pamphlet - widely known today as Reform or Revolution.

In 1903 she debated with Lenin, differing with him on the Marxist attitude to the right of nations to self-determination.

In 1904 her political work was briefly interrupted when she was jailed for “insulting the Kaiser”.

She fully supported the 1905 Russian revolution and wrote numerous articles in its defence publications for her Polish comrades. Marrying action with her words she clandestinely entered Poland (then still part of the Russian Imperial empire) and worked underground until she was captured in 1906. Luckily, her German nationality allowed her to be released after only four months imprisonment.

Generalising from the 1905 Russian experience she concluded: “The mass strike is the first natural spontaneous form of every great revolutionary proletarian action.” Her commitment to the revolutionary spirit of workers in action was her distinguishing feature.

She attempted to theoretically underpin her attitude to imperialist plunder by analysing the international development of capitalism in a major work on economics titled The Accumulation of Capital: A Contribution to the Economic Explanation of Imperialism. Her analysis, though flawed, showed that she was grappling with exactly the same question that Lenin was able to master in his Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.

Six months before the outbreak of World War I, Luxemburg was arrested again for inciting soldiers to mutiny. She had told the troops that if they were ordered to “murder our French or other foreign brothers” they should answer “no, under no circumstances”.

Her courtroom speech, in which she turned the tables on her prosecutors, was later published as Militarism, War and the Working Class, is an anti-imperialist classic.

She received a year long sentence, but was not immediately locked up. She simply left the courtroom and repeated her revolutionary anti-war statements at a mass meeting!

When WWI broke out the entire SPD leadership capitulated to the war fever. Her famous 1915 Junius Pamphlet — a denunciation of the war written from her prison cell — still stands as a monument to the civilising call of socialism in the face of imperialist war.

She devastatingly wrote: “Bourgeois society faces a dilemma; either a transition to Socialism, or a return to barbarism ... we face the choice: either the victory of imperialism and the decline of all culture, as in ancient Rome — annihilation, devastation, degeneration, a yawning graveyard; or the victory of Socialism — the victory of the international working class consciously assaulting imperialism and its method: war. This is the dilemma of world history, either — or; the die will be cast by the class-conscious proletariat.”

The October 1917 Bolshevik revolution inspired Luxemburg immensely, even though, true to form, she still maintained a certain intellectual distance from the Bolsheviks.

Freed from prison by rebellious German workers in November 1918, Luxemburg threw herself into the work of building the revolutionary movement. Unfortunately, her right wing SPD ex-comrades were ruthlessly suppressing all dissent, organising bands of armed thugs to attack the workers movement.

Hours before her murder Rosa Luxemburg wrote: “The leadership has failed. Even so, the leadership can and must be recreated from the masses and out of the masses. The masses are the decisive element, they are the rock on which the final victory of the revolution will be built.”

From: Comment & Analysis, Green Left Weekly issue #779 21 January 2009.