What makes a war?

Heads are rolling at the BBC this week as the falsely accused Alistair McAlpine pursues the BBC for misinforming the public by alleging he was a paedophile. Well over £150,000 will be paid in compensation, and the BBC Director General, George Entwistle, has already resigned following the fiasco.

However, something quite different is happening in the BBC’s reporting of the events in Palestine.  The BBC have been carrying out a systematic manipulation and misinformation campaign since the launch of Operation Pillar of Cloud last week. And for those who followed the reporting of Cast Lead 4 years ago, it seems oh so familiar.

Phosphorus shells hit Gaza

So before people race to regurgitate the tripe the BBC manage to palm in to their ‘reporting’, know that before Israel launched Operation Pillar of Cloud, not 1 Israeli had been killed in 2012 by a Palestinian rocket. On the other hand, over 70 Palestinians have been killed in the last 11 months by Israeli jets, tanks and drones.1

Know that many of those who reside in Gaza are refugees who’s ancestors were driven from their homes by violence and force. Many have lived under Israeli military occupation their whole life and since 2007 have been blockaded in the worlds largest open-air prison, with Israel patrolling the seas, the land and the skies.

Know that what is happening is not a ‘religious war’. In fact it is not a war at all. What is happening right now is a slaughter of men, women and children by one side which has stolen and occupied the others land, imprisoned and tortured it’s people and uses the memory of all those who suffered through the anti-semitism in Europe 70 years ago to justify these actions.

Protest against Isreali aggression by Rabbis in New York

Last week, Israeli forces shot a 13 year old boy in his head as he was playing football in the Gaza strip. Following that instigation of violence, the Palestinian resistance responded by returning fire onto a military vehicle on the Eastern border. On Monday 5th November, Palestinian groups agreed to an informal truce which was again broken by Israel on Wednesday by the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing.

The BBC bare some responsibility for the ongoing atrocities in Gaza. Unlike the case of McAlpine, where money can settle a grievance, Gazans will die today, tomorrow and everyday Israel continues it’s offensive. By denying the context of what is happening now and deliberately misinforming the public, the BBC have become an important cog in Israel’s military machine. The BBC are complicit, not because they pay for the bombs or because they pull the triggers, but because they speak of a war when it is not. Because they speak of a Qassam rocket landing in the middle of nowhere, whilst at the same time a pregnant Palestinian women is blown in half by an Israeli F-16 attack.

This article finishes today as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu threatens another escalation of force. The UK Foreign Secretary’s response to that is to announce that ‘Hamas bare the principle responsibility’ for what is happening and that de-escalation can happen only if ‘Hamas stop firing rockets’.

Content without context is meaningless. By refusing to report the context of what is happening in Gaza today, the BBC distort the true meaning behind every rocket. This is not a fight between 2 equal sides, nor is it a war between 2 neighbouring states. This is a decades old military occupation. There is a resistance to that occupation. But unless pressure is put on Israel to stop the slaughter now, there will be another massacre in Gaza in the coming weeks.

By Moqlieh

1

UNITED NATIONS Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory Protection of Civilians Weekly Report, 31 October – 6 November 2012

New report documents ‘total policing’ clampdown of freedom to protest

A detailed new report launched today by the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) highlights how promises made by the police to ‘adapt to protest’ after 2009’s G20 demonstrations in London have been forgotten in a remarkably short space of time and a far more intolerant ‘total policing’ style response to protesters has developed in the UK.

The report, which covers a fourteen month period from late 2010 to the end of 2011, paints a bleak picture of the state of the freedom to protest in the UK. It documents how the tactic of containment known as ‘kettling’, the use of solid steel barriers to restrict the movement of protesters, the intrusive and excessive use of stop & search and data gathering, and the pre-emptive arrests of people who have committed no crime, have combined to enable an effective clamp-down on almost all forms of popular street-level dissent.

The High Court last week ruled that the use of pre-emptive arrests in advance of the royal wedding in 2011 was lawful but, from the experiences of activists gathered by NetPol, the report argues that this tactic is ‘one of the most disturbing aspects of the policing of protest’. Squats and protest sites were raided by police and potential protesters were rounded up and arrested. This including ten people who were carrying republican placards and a group who had dressed up to attend a ‘zombie wedding’, who were arrested while sitting in a café drinking coffee.

The report is also critical of the use of ‘section 60’ stop and searches, which require no ‘reasonable suspicion’ and have been disproportionately targeted at young people taking part in protests. This group has also faced arrest for ‘wearing dark clothing’, for ‘looking like an anarchist’, and in some cases under eighteen year olds have been threatened with being taken into ‘police protection’ if they participated in demonstrations.

NetPol’s research also highlights the invasive but routine use of police data gathering tactics, which oblige protesters to stand and pose in front of police camera teams and to provide their personal details. The report gives evidence of an increasing misuse of anti-social behaviour legislation to force protesters to provide a name and address under threat of arrest. NetPol believes political protest should not be equated with anti-social behaviour, and that the use of such powers against demonstrators should end.

Each one of these measures restricts and deters legitimate protest, but taken together these measures allow the police to impose a level of deterrence, intimidation and control that makes taking part in legitimate protest a daunting and often frightening experience.

Val Swain, commenting on the report’s launch on behalf of NetPol,said:

“The evidence we have gathered has been published just as news emerges of further pre-emptive arrests and other restrictions on the freedom to protest taking place in advance of this summer’s London Olympics. With an apparent willingness by the courts to defend any actions by the police against protesters, we fear that dissenting voices face an even harsher clamp-down in the weeks to come.”

Netpol

International Workers Day 2012 – In Pictures

Here’s a few snapshots of May Day protests from around the world…

Anti-Workfare protesters close down stores on Oxford Street, London

Thousands join May Day rallies in Spain

Riot police flank revolutionary left-wing May Day demonstration in Germany

Protesters try and tempt police with doughnuts. Montreal, Quebec

Anarchists get stuck into stores in Downtown Seattle, USA

Flag waving anarchist gets water cannoned in Santiago, Chile

A lighter shade of policing. Bogota, Columbia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembrance

Veterans from the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland have criticised the use of the red poppy to support current wars and conflicts.

In a letter printed in today’s Guardian they write: “The Poppy Appeal is once again subverting Armistice Day. A day that should be about peace and remembrance is turned into a month-long drum roll of support for current wars. This year’s campaign has been launched with showbiz hype. The true horror and futility of war is forgotten and ignored.”

The public are being urged to wear a poppy in support of “our Heroes”. There is nothing heroic about being blown up in a vehicle. There is nothing heroic about being shot in an ambush and there is nothing heroic about fighting in an unnecessary conflict.”

Remembrance should be marked with the sentiment ‘Never Again.’ Since the 1920s, some people have worn white poppies rather than red ones, in the belief that the best way to honour those who have died is to commit to active peacemaking.

The white poppy was made by women who had lost loved ones in World War One. They approached the makers of red poppies, and asked them to print ?no more war? in the centre of the poppies. Their request was refused, so they made white ones instead.

The British Legion insists that red poppies are ‘neutral’. However, they also say that the poppy is about remembering soldiers not civilians, only British soldiers and not ‘enemy’ soldiers, and states that they are about remembering those ‘who died for our freedom.’

Robert Lee, the British Legion’s spokesman, told the Guardian: “I am glad that they have noticed the change in campaigning. It’s a fair cop. There have been criticisms, mainly from older veterans.

“We are the national custodians of remembrance but we are living in contemporary society. Not everything we do with the poppy appeal has to be static and serious, or conducted with a frown. It was very generous of the X Factor wearing poppies, that’s caused quite a stir of Twitter, with people asking what they are.

“There is nothing in our appeal or campaigning which supports, or does not support, war: we are totally neutral. We are not a warmongering organisation. We don’t have a position on war in Iraq or anywhere else. These boys don’t send themselves to Iraq, that’s a decision for the politicians.”

Solidarity With The Victims Of War

The atrocity in Gaza

As the dust settles, the extent of the atrocities which the Israeli state has committed against the population of the Gaza strip has become clear. Thousands are dead, killed in the savage bombing of one of the most densely populated places on earth. Israel has used banned white phosphorous munitions in civilian areas, shelled aid convoys, schools, shelters and mosques full of people. It has destroyed aid stockpiles with white phosphorous shells. Over 90,000 people have been displaced. Gaza’s economy and infrastructure, already devastated by the blockade, have been destroyed. With the ceasefire signed, the continued blockade will mean further war against the civilian population by other means.

A two state solution?

As the bombs rained down every party and group put forward their vision for ‘fixing’ the problem and their vision of the future for Palestinians. But understanding what we can’t do is the first step to understanding what we can. We have to be clear about the ways we can stop such atrocities happening.

A ‘two state solution’ based on 1949 or 1967 borders isn’t going to come about except through a massive change in the global balance of power. This will inevitably lead to more conflicts elsewhere. Two states with borders as they currently stand would create a Palestine as dominated by Israel as the territories are now. Even if the ‘one state solution’ became a reality, the Palestinian working class would remain an underclass of cheap labourers. It would be like the end of Apartheid in South Africa. The colour of those in charge changed but left the vast population in the same dreadful state of poverty and hopelessness as before.

It is also true that we cannot call on ‘our’ state to reign in Israel. Firstly, the state will not concede anything to us unless the working class – the vast majority of us who can only live off our ability to work for others – is in a confident enough position to force those concessions through collective action. Secondly, it is madness to expect Britain to impose ‘civilised’ behaviour on an ally such as Israel. Britain has taken part in the occupation in Iraq which has resulted in the deaths of 1,033,000 people. The only state which has any ability to reign in Israel is the US. The US will only do this when Israel’s actions threaten its national interest. Moral outrage will not win over dominating the region.

Solidarity with working class struggles

We must stand in firmly in solidarity with the victims of state warfare. The terrorised population of Gaza did not heed Hamas’ call to resist through ‘martyrdom’, or to undertake suicide attacks. They fled en masse. They showed no willingness to carry out a ‘resistance’ on behalf of their masters which would have meant certain death. Whilst Palestinians fled the onslaught, demonstrations were held in Israel by those refusing to serve the war machine. These refusals to heed the call of the state or the ruling party to fight deserve our support and solidarity.

We cannot support Hamas, or any of the other factions in Gaza or the West Bank against Israel, however ‘critically’. Hamas’ record of repressing the attempts of workers to improve their living conditions is well known. They have escorted striking teachers back to work at gunpoint, and have closed down medical facilities where staff attempted to strike. Both Hamas and Fatah have made kidnapping and assassination attempts on the same trade unionists. Hamas execute those forced by necessity into sex work, and persecute gays and lesbians. They offer as little to ordinary Palestinians as their rivals in secular nationalist groups, such as Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who attacked the Palestine Workers Radio for stoking internal conflicts. Real internationalism means recognising that the rulers and ruled within a ‘nation’ have nothing in common. In this case, this means supporting the efforts of ordinary Palestinians to improve their conditions. We support them against either Israel, as in the struggles organised by village committees in the West Bank, or against the ‘resistance’ movements which police the population.

Our solidarity must be with the victims of war. These are overwhelmingly Palestinian but also workers, Jewish, Arab and others, killed by mortars and rockets in Israel. This cannot be because of their race, nationality, or religion, but because they are living, thinking, feeling and struggling human beings. And we must stand against all those who would sacrifice them to their own ends. Ultimately the only solution to endless global conflict and war is for working class people, the dispossessed majority who must sell their time and energy to those who own and control society, to struggle in our interests collectively, against their exploitation, and against divisions such as gender and race. This means struggle against the capitalist system which creates endemic war and which must exploit us to survive. From this we can set about taking control of our own lives, and putting an end to a world of warring states and states-in-waiting which has produced atrocities such as those in Gaza.