Archive for the 'Palestine/Israel' Category

Palestinians demand release of jailed leader Barghouti

Published March 27th, 2014

As part of their tit-for-tat negotiations with Israel, Palestinians have demanded the release of political prisoner Marwan Barghouti.

Barghouti was arrested in 2002, and convicted by an Israeli court in 2004. He is serving five life sentences, one for each of the murders he is allegedly responsible for, though Barghouti continues to deny allegations that he directly ordered the killings.

Barghouti’s case is a controversial one because despite a significant number of Israelis viewing him as a terrorist, many people, both Israelis and Palestinians, believe he may be their best hope for arriving at a two-state solution.

The Guardian reports Fadwa Barghouti, Marwan’s wife, visits him twice a month for 45 minutes at a time. She brings him books — he reads voraciously — news of their grown children, and updates on the peace talks. Several times throughout Barghouti’s imprisonment, the possibility of negotiations for his release have arisen, yet still he remains behind bars.

“He has spent 18 years of his life in an Israeli prison. He was deported for seven years. It has been a long and horrible journey,” says Fadwa. “Despite all this he believes the conflict should be resolved by a two-state solution. He does not believe there is an alternative in a one-state solution except more bloodshed and more agony.”

According to Ziad Abu Ein, his longtime friend and colleague, Barghouti advocates civil disobedience, not armed struggle, to protest Israel’s occupation.

These renewed calls for Marwan Barghouti’s release come at a time when Barghouti has gained considerable political clout as an iconic Palestinian figure. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas even asked President Obama to put pressure on Israel to release Barghouti during his visit to the White House last week.

Perhaps because Barghouti seems his likely successor.

Barghouti has tremendous public support — News of Barghouti’s potential release swayed Palestinian opinion, from 75 percent being against talks with Israel to 50 percent now supporting negotiations — and is a strong candidate to replace Mahmoud Abbas as president of Palestine, a development that could make his continued imprisonment a politically compromising position for Israel.

Speaking to the Guardian, Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli politician long opposed to Marwan’s incarceration, said, “If Mahmoud Abbas does not stand again for president and Barghouti does run, he will win easily. Then Israel will have the Palestinian president in jail.”

Palestinians seek Barghouti’s release as condition for extending talks

Free Marwan Barghouti

Free Marwan Barghouti


A rising star in the dominant Fatah party before he was captured by Israeli troops in 2002. Marwan Barghouti could be the key to keeping talks alive.

By The Associated Press | Mar. 19, 2014 | 11:01 PM

The Palestinians are seeking the freedom of Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences for his alleged role in killings of Israelis, as part of any plan to extend negotiations with Israel beyond an April deadline, several top officials said.

A prominent Palestinian uprising leader imprisoned by Israel, Barghouti could soon emerge as the key to keeping fragile U.S.-led peace efforts alive.

A release of Barghouti, a popular figure among Palestinians, could inject new life into the troubled peace process, boost embattled Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and even provide the Palestinians with a plausible successor to their 78-year-old leader.

But Israel seems unlikely to approve the request, setting the stage for a possible breakdown in the talks.

The Palestinians have two demands for an extension: a freeze in Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the release of the most senior prisoners held by Israel, first and foremost Barghouti, senior official Nabil Shaath and Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraq told AP.

Israel was already forced to release dozens of prisoners convicted of deadly violence to make the current round of talks possible, but Barghouti remains jailed.
With Israel not expected to halt settlement construction, the Palestinians say they will drive a tough bargain on the prisoner issue. Palestinian officials and Barghouti’s family said Abbas raised the issue of Barghouti’s release in his White House meeting this week with President Barack Obama.

“President Abbas demanded the release of the political leaders in jail like Marwan Barghouti, Ahmad Saadat and Fuad Shobaki,” said Qaraqi, the prisoner affairs minister.

Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, said Abbas is “exerting his efforts to release Marwan and he is very serious about it.”

Israeli officials said the matter has not yet come in the talks. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Saadat heads a faction that killed an Israeli Cabinet minister in 2001 and is serving a 30-year sentence for allegedly participating in attacks. Shobaki, a former top Palestinian official, is the alleged mastermind of an attempt to smuggle a large shipment of weapons to the Palestinians on a ship that was intercepted by Israeli naval commandos in 2002.

But no prisoner is more prized by the Palestinians than Barghouti, who was a rising star in the dominant Fatah party before he was captured by Israeli troops in 2002. Israel says Barghouti, 54, was a leader of the violent uprising in the West Bank early last decade. He is serving five life terms for alleged involvement in the deaths of four Israelis and a Greek monk.

The Palestinians say Barghouti is a politician who had no direct involvement in any of the killings.

Barghouti’s release could be critical for Abbas. The Palestinian leader has seen his popularity plummet due to the lack of progress in peace talks. Winning Barghouti’s freedom would be a huge moral victory for him.

And at almost 79, Abbas has recently acknowledged he cannot serve forever. Yet he has never designated a successor and is facing a rising challenge by an exiled former aide, Mohammed Dahlan. Barghouti is perhaps the only member of Fatah’s next generation of leaders with the gravitas to confront that challenge.

Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri said Abbas desperately needs Barghouti’s release, both to justify continued talks with Israel and to finally have a clear successor.

Fadwa Barghouti said her husband remains intimately involved in Palestinian affairs from his cell in an isolated bloc of the Hadarim prison in central Israel.

She said he shares a cell with two other men and is allowed to go outdoors into a courtyard twice a day – one hour each time – for exercise and a walk. She said he starts his day with exercise and then reads four Israeli newspapers. In addition to his native Arabic, Barghouti speaks Hebrew and English.

As a member of Fatah’s leadership, Barghouti is briefed on the negotiations through his wife, who is in close contact with the Palestinian leadership and visits him twice a month.

“He was hoping that the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would succeed in striking a deal based on the Israeli commitment to end the occupation on the 1967 borders,” she said.

Barghouti, like other Palestinian leaders, wants to establish an independent state in all of the territories captured by Israel in 1967: the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, she said. Several past Israeli offers, by more moderate governments than Netanyahu’s, seemed to come close, but ultimately fell short.

The fate of the roughly 5,000 prisoners held by Israel is deeply emotional in Palestinian society. Virtually every Palestinian has a friend or relative who has served time in Israel, and the prisoners are revered a s freedom fighters.

But the issue is equally emotional for Israelis, who see prisoners like Barghouti as terrorists.

At the outset of talks last July, Israel agreed to release 104 long-serving prisoners in four stages. But the fourth and final stage, scheduled later this month, is suddenly in jeopardy.

The previous releases, including dozens of men who were convicted in deadly attacks, have been accompanied by jubilant celebrations by Palestinians and attended by Abbas himself, angering many in Israel. On Tuesday, Israel’s chief peace negotiator said the final release was not guaranteed unless there was progress in the talks.

For that reason, the release of Barghouti could become a contentious issue in the coming weeks. Israeli officials have rejected repeated attempts to include him in past prisoner releases.

Still, Israel could be tempted. During the peace talks of the 1990s, Barghouti was generally liked by the Israelis, had many friends among them, and was considered a moderate interlocutor. With many Israelis concerned that Abbas will be followed by more radical nationalists or Islamists, a Barghouti ascension, despite his supposed actions during the uprising, might not seem like the worst option.
Without a significant gesture, the Palestinians could soon walk away from the negotiating table.

Shaath gave a glimpse of what could lie ahead, saying the Palestinians would soon resume a campaign for UN recognition if Israel does not carry out the final scheduled prisoner release. Israel bitterly opposes the U.N. campaign, since the Palestinians have said they will use their enhanced international status to press for anti-Israel action. The Palestinians halted the campaign in exchange for Israel’s pledge to free prisoners.

“We committed to not applying to the UN agencies and Israel committed to release 104 prisoners in four batches,” he said. “That was the deal. If Israel breaches it, we will too.”

Under heavy U.S. pressure, Israel and the Palestinians restarted negotiations last July, setting a nine-month target for wrapping up a comprehensive peac e deal establishing a Palestinian state and ending a century of conflict. After realizing this was unrealistic, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry scaled back his ambitions and said he would aim for a “framework” peace deal by the April deadline.

With even that more modest goal in question, the sides are now searching for a formula that will allow the talks to continue.

The Palestinians have been skeptical about the chances of success, distrusting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A prolonging of the talks means continuing shelving of their previous plans to press for recognition, even without a peace deal, with various international bodies.

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Former Israeli official: Demand for recognition as Jewish state ‘nonsense’

From

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan has dismissed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand for Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, calling it “nonsense”.

Dagan stated that ‘If we look at the UN resolution on [partition and] the establishment of the state of Israel in 1947, it clearly says that Israel is a Jewish state. So, now we are demanding such recognition from the Palestinian state? We seek recognition of the character of our country from a country that does not even exist?’

According to the Israeli news website Walla!, Dagan said during a closed lecture in Tel-Aviv that “asking the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state is nonsense.”

Dagan noted that: “If we look at the UN resolution on [partition and] the establishment of the state of Israel in 1947, it clearly says that Israel is a Jewish state.”

He continued: “So, now we are demanding such recognition from the Palestinian state? We seek recognition of the character of our country from a country that does not even exist?”

Instead of calling for this recognition, Dagan pointed out that it would be better for Israel to refuse the right of return for Palestinian refugees and insist that they receive citizenship in the states where they are living now, from Lebanon to the Gulf countries. Unlike recognition, he argued, the Palestinian refugees pose a real danger to the Jewish state.

Regarding Jerusalem, Dagan noted that it is not a Palestinian issue, but an Islamic one. Thus, he argued that Israel has “to include Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco in any talks” about the fate of the holy city, because “if Israel reaches a deal with these countries about Jerusalem, Abu-Mazen will be able to take difficult decisions about it,” referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Dagan also warned that Israel needs an agreement with the Palestinians not for the interests of Palestinians, “but for Israel’s interests.”

South African Parliamentary Conference backs boycott of Israel

From

Monday, 10 February 2014

South Africa’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee held a “Solidarity Conference in Support of the Peoples of Palestine, Western Sahara and Cuba” on Thursday, 6th February. The session was opened by an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle, Ahmed Kathrada. He was followed to the podium by South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations, Marius Fransman; the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations, Mr Tisetso Magama, MP; and the Ambassadors of Cuba, Palestine and Western Sahara.

The Palestine solidarity human rights organisation, BDS South Africa, welcomed the resolutions and recommendations of the conference. In particular, the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign group was pleased to see the recommendation to forward the 2009 Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report, which found Israel guilty of Apartheid, to international bodies including the International Parliamentary Union, the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the African Union.

The parliamentary conference was attended by MPs as well as a wide range of civil society organisations including representatives from South Africa’s largest trade union, COSATU; the South African Communist Party (SACP); the African National Congress (ANC); the African National Congress Youth League (ANC Youth League); the Congress of the People (COPE); the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF); the Coalition for a Free Palestine (CFP); the Friends of Cuba Society (FOCUS); the Western Sahara Solidarity Forum; Kairos Southern Africa; the Media Review Network (MRN); African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP); BDS South Africa and some members of the South African Jewish community who identify with the struggles of Palestine, Cuba and Western Sahara.

“The solidarity conference is a first of its kind in parliament,” explained Mr Magama. “It is a culmination of extensive work carried out… in response to the call by President Zuma in his successive State of the Nation addresses since 2010, with a message that solidarity should feature as a strong element of South Africa’s internationalism… The primary focus of the conference is to make the people of South Africa aware of the common challenges facing the peoples of Cuba, Palestine and Western Sahara relating to the denial of human rights.”

The full list of recommendations and resolutions adopted by the Parliamentary conference on the issue of Palestine follows below.

SOUTH AFRICAN PARLIAMENT’S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CONFERENCE

RESOLUTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON PALESTINE

06 February 2014

1. South Africa has a legal obligation under the Rome Statute to set up a special court to deal with war crimes, this needs to be urgently setup. South Africa must expeditiously deal with the “Gaza Docket” and deal with South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force;

2. The 2009 Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report that found Israel guilty of Apartheid should be adopted by South Africa’s Parliament and by the South African government. The HSRC report must also be referred to international bodies including the International Parliamentary Union, the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the African Union.

3. South Africa has a legal obligation and must stop all financial transactions with Israeli settlement companies as well as banks and companies involved in the Israeli settlements. This would be in line with developments in Europe and other countries.

4. On the global arena South Africa must lobby for the financial and other support of the Palestinians for socioeconomic development after the end of the illegal Israeli occupation.

5. The South African government must support Palestinian students, as a concrete act of solidarity, similar to how India, Cuba and other countries supported South Africa during the 1980s.

6. Entrance into South Africa for Palestinians must be made easier.

7. The Palestinian health system must be supported beyond people capacity. Infrastructure in Gaza, West Bank and refugee camps must be supported.

8. Conference supports the Robben Island Declaration for the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian Political prisoners.

9. Conference supports the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) issued by the majority of Palestinians. Complete military, financial and political sanctions must be applied against Israel until it complies with all applicable UN resolutions and international law and ends its occupation.

10. All South African political parties must clearly communicate their stance on the plight of the Palestinian people and make it timeously known in the build-up to 2014 elections.

11. Witness and solidarity visits to Palestine should be encouraged, for example, through the World Council of Churches EAPPI programme.

12. South Africa should build and strengthen an international diplomatic block in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

13. The South African government and parliament must campaign for Israel to be suspended from the SWIFT banking network.

14. Palestinian reconciliation efforts must be encouraged and supported.

15. Our government and parliament must table the above at the AU, UN and IPU.

International Women’s Day Delegation to Gaza 2014

Ed. note; While CODEPINK still does International Solidarity with a simplistic bring our dollars home approach, all publicity is good publicity on this front and a delegation to Gaza this March could as they say be very interesting.

END

A call for Delegates.

Answering a call from the women of Gaza, CODEPINK is forming a US delegation of 15 women who will join with a larger international women’s coalition traveling to Gaza for International Women’s Day 2014.

The purpose of the delegation is show solidarity with the women of Gaza, to bring attention to the unbearable suffering caused by the Israeli blockade, to educate people back in our home countries, to push for opening the Gaza borders and to bring solar lamps to help with the electricity shortage.

We will meet in Cairo on March 5. We will attempt to enter Gaza on March 6 and return from Gaza on March 12, 2014. Due to the political and security issues in Egypt, there are no guarantees that we will be able to get into Gaza. If we get to Gaza, we will spend our time meeting with women’s groups, human rights leaders, fisherfolk, farmers, UN representatives, youth activists and journalists. If we do not get into Gaza, we will make your time in Cairo very worthwhile.

Does Netanyahu have plans for settler withdrawal?

The reactions of the settlers and their political associates to rumors that US Secretary of State John Kerry will manage to push forward the two-state solution are reminiscent of the symptoms a junkie experiences in the first stages of withdrawal. Even before the US proposal document could become official, the Yesha Council, the settlement umbrella organization, produced a film slamming Kerry. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon labeled him “messianic” and “obsessive,” whereas Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of an “irrational loss of values.”

The settler movement is anxious about the possibility of the Israeli government making a deal that would force them to leave.

Author Akiva Eldar Posted February 3, 2014

Translator Ruti Sinai

From

Although the current Israeli government is the most right wing in the state’s history, the settlers are restless. Even before the ministers conducted a preliminary discussion about a document that has yet to be born, the settlement organizations are buying giant ads in newspapers, reminding their representatives in the Knesset and government of their oath of allegiance to the Greater Land of Israel or to the annexation of the territories.

Local council heads in the Samaria region launched a “Samaria on the Bar” campaign, fanning out over pubs in the center of the country to treat the young patrons to alcoholic beverages produced in the settlements. Between nibbling and imbibing, the clients are also treated to generous portions of Zionism, tinged with a touch of occupation.

It is therefore no wonder that reports to the effect that the document of principles being formulated by Kerry includes a proposal to vacate distant settlements is driving the settlers crazy. For decades they were told that they were the “salt of the earth,” “new pioneers” and “harbingers of salvation.” Now, suddenly, they are being treated like enemies of the state, threatened with a cutoff of funding and being uprooted from their homes.

Western states that for many years had made do with lip service against the settlement enterprise began boycotting their products. Even though Israeli administrations — all of them, without exception — encouraged them to settle throughout “Judea and Samaria,” opened legal loophole after legal loophole for them and invited them to take anything they wanted.

Even late founder of the leftist Meretz Party Shulamit Aloni, the hero of human rights and of the left who passed away Jan. 24, participated in a 1995 compromise that enabled the establishment of the Olive Hill neighborhood in the settlement of Efrat. In an interview with Hani Kim in Haaretz on Jan. 6, 1995, the late Knesset member Hanan Porat of the National Religious Party, one of the settlement movement leaders, boasted, “The construction on Olive Hill, with the approval of the ministerial committee of which Shulamit Aloni is a member, is very good news.”

That very week, she scolded Knesset member Ahmad Tibi for “stirring up” the Palestinians about the expropriation of land in the vicinity of Ariel for the sole purpose of building by-pass roads. Once she found out that the parcels were intended for building a road to the small settlement of Psagot, Aloni said that if this was true, she would retract her words. It was not the only occasion that Aloni was misled by the settlers and their supporters in the government, and she acknowledged this with regret.

Zehava Gal-On, who was then-secretary-general of the Ratz Party and is now chair of the Meretz Party, said that she was “stunned” by Aloni, then a member of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s cabinet, who voted in favor of the construction of dozens of new houses in the settlement. Gal-On said, “If this were any other government, we would already be lying in the roads [in protest].” Her colleague at the time, Knesset member Avraham Poraz, claimed his party’s ministers were “humiliating themselves” by remaining in government.

During the term of the Rabin government, the construction in the West Bank of 9,850 housing units (launched during the previous administration’s term) was completed. At the time of the establishment of Rabin’s administration in 1992, before the Oslo Accord, the settlers numbered 100,500. In 1996, the year in which the Likud Party, headed by Netanyahu, returned to power, their numbers reached 141,500.

At a meeting with members of his Labor Party, Shimon Peres, then foreign minister, announced that he did not believe in any evacuation of settlements whatsoever, Kim wrote in the interview with Porat. During the seven years after the signing of the Oslo Accord until September 2000, when the second intifada broke out, the number of housing units in the territories grew by 54%. The sharpest increase — 4,800 housing projects — occurred in the year 2000, during the term of the Labor-Meretz government.

True, the settlers have enjoyed the bounty of the land for years, and their politicians are conducting a de-legitimization campaign against Israeli and Palestinian members of the peace camp. True, the settlers wish to impose their ideology and interests on an entire country, and they indulge the “price tag” criminals. But the responsibility for turning the settlers into lords of the land is, first and foremost, that of those governments and politicians who supplied them with more and more of the drug that addicts its users to the illusion that one can expand the settlement enterprise, deepen the occupation and at the same time conduct negotiations over the division of the land and maintain Israel’s international standing. The Babylonian Talmud has this to say about such cases: ”It is not the mouse which steals; it is the hole that steals.” (BT Gittin 45a) Meaning, the party guilty of the theft is the one who opened the hole in the wall, not the one who passes through it to eat the cheese.

The Israeli politicians who nurtured the settlements cannot shake off responsibility for the thousands of families who enjoyed the status of favorite sons. Neither are Western leaders, who did not set an appropriate consequence for ignoring the issue, entitled to shirk responsibility for the fate of the people who will be forced to pay the heaviest personal price for a diplomatic arrangement. Now, when the time has come to choose between an isolated Greater Land of Israel and a whole and accepted State of Israel, anyone who was complicit in the addiction process, directly or indirectly, must take part in the withdrawal process.

Experts from Retorno, an organization in Israel that treats drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, explained, “The addict is exposed to sensitive and dependent situations, and it is thus advisable that the withdrawal process be fully accompanied by professionals, by enveloping support and a continuous treatment process.” Retorno experts stress that the withdrawal process might be deeply-felt and gradual.

The complaint voiced recently by the mayor of Ma’ale Adumim, Benny Kasriel, to my colleague Mazal Mualem, that during the time of the Netanyahu government the pace of construction in his town was markedly slower than the wave of construction during the Rabin government — might indicate that this deep, slow and gradual process is already well-underway. “Absurdly,” as Kasriel said, maybe it should fall precisely on the leader of the Israeli right, Netanyahu, to lead the withdrawal process.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/settlers-lords-of-the-land-israeli-leadership-rabin-meretz.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=e0ae6ede91-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-e0ae6ede91-93145129#ixzz2sOcCiegt

Calling Planet Peace Movement 2014

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Once more the people of Earth are calling planet peace movement!

by Patrick Muldowney

The first batch of chemical weapons (CW) recently left port in Syria and given there is a large scale civil war in progress (with all the life and death logistical problems that implies) the compelled program for their destruction is virtually right on schedule! If this continues and there is no reason to think it won’t – the Syrian CW disarmament will be completed in the next 6 months and so a question arises; what manner of progressive would not agree that disarmament is a very good thing?

This good result, is unambiguously not thanks to the efforts of any western ‘peace movement’ or ‘anti-imperialist left’. Indeed not one organized grouping identifying as radically left has made any positive contribution to this part of the process of disarming the Assad regime. All of the ‘3 letter’ groups opposed (even if they verbally or theoretically denounce the Baathist / Alawite regime of the Assad dynasty, and naturally they mostly do so) the very real military threats – when they were made by the reluctant Obama and were imminent – that brought about this capitulation of the Assad regime.

But the reality – and everyone knows this – is that no cruise missile threat no good outcome!

The chemical weapons disarmament now in progress, is the direct result of the aggressive placement of military forces and the clear understanding by the Assad tyranny that these forces would be used in a very substantial way to destroy his air power, command and control and seriously and quite unpredictably disrupt his regime’s war effort against the democratically minded Syrian peoples’ and others that oppose him.

The exact military force that ‘cruise missile Marxists’ like me have advocated the use of, since the earliest stages of this struggle for democratic rights, has been put before the regime and this threat of force has brought about this good result.

If I, as a revolutionary democrat complain now it’s because this military force could just as well have been used much earlier, after for example the more minor use of these chemical weapons. Or when we ‘cruise missile Marxists’ first called for NATO intervention in the NFZ style manner of war that liberated the Libyan people!

In retrospect, it’s plain to see that such an intervention would have spared the lives of a great many Syrians, so it would qualify as a humanitarian intervention; as well as an intervention for the furtherance of the obvious revolutionary goals of transforming this tyranny into another garden variety (by ME standards) bourgeois democracy.

We might all note in passing that sparing Syrian lives is clearly of no real concern to the current POTUS and ditherer in chief Barack Obama. This ‘historical blockage’ of a political leader, is hardly much more than a shameless, self-promoting waste of eight years, as has been demonstrated often enough by comparison to the Syrian policy proposals put forward in contrast by his rival, and the once alternate candidate for POTUS – John McCain. As is now being revealed by the once insider people like Defence Sec., Robert Gates. Gates had to cope with this Administration’s lack of commitment to any war of liberation!

Anyway, it is a reasonable estimate that 120,000 plus casualties have been inflicted on Syrians as a direct result of the resistance to their peaceful democratic demands. The war and its casualties are the result of the intransigence of the regime. That tyrannical regime is well known to be a less murderous tyranny than the Saddam Hussein variety was. Everyone knows Saddam got away with the Halabja mass-murder with nary a threat to his CW back in 1988! How the world has changed.

Right across the western world confused left’s, and the pseudoleftists are currently peculiarly silent while they understand, or ought to, that this disarmament, AFTER the attack that killed perhaps 100th of the total 120,000 is NOT IN THEIR NAME.

The chemical weapons are being destroyed as a result of a threatened and more than credibly imminent ‘cruise missile’ response, which Obama belatedly was shamed into ordering. There was a way to prevent that attack and that was to comply with the U.S. demands for the orderly and verifiable CW disarmament now underway. Having overreached with the attack, Assad had no better choice available than to preserve his Air Force etc..

This ‘cruise missile’ Marxist really does believe that all political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

I accept that not only is the struggle to rid the world of tyrannies necessarily protracted (and political unit by political unit variable in the how and when) I think it reasonable to remind people that by the time this CW disarmament task is completed, it is likely that a further 20-30,000 Syrians will be dead from the continuation of the conventional methods used. At that point absolute casualty numbers may well be running neck and neck with those sustained over eleven years in the warfare required to liberate and launch the bourgeois democratic revolution for the peoples’ of Iraq.

That number in Syria will have been achieved in ⅓ the time required for the more difficult task in the larger country of Iraq! Events in Iraq may unfold altering that trajectory, but what are the political demands that could bring the fighting to a stop in either country? What politics ought to be sought by radical democrats to win the war and stop the killing in both of these countries?

In six months time, there still won’t be an end in sight to the protracted war in either country, but in Iraq the democratic forces have been fighting off the front foot for years, while in Syria the regime still has all its ‘toys’ – except the chemical one’s responsible for only 100th of the casualties anyway. This is progress. Unfortunately, Assad got a pretty good deal as he continues to ethnically cleanse and cut out and try to build a holdable enclave.

When this issue came to a head last August, The North Star (TNS) a site deliberately set up to foster real debate among leftists after the events of Libya demonstrated to the site’s founder Pham Binh, (PB) that such a site was required, the site imploded.

TNS essentially collapsed under the strain and was ‘re-launched’ after some not so behind the scenes numbers crunch. The relaunched project was essentially a fraud. There is no longer debate to be had at TNS, more on that later.

Specifically, TNS 2, after a dishonest play against PB and quite blatant repudiation of its original raison d’etre for a broadly inclusive site for discussion and debate has imploded in the dishonest repudiation of that required debate and many people have been censored and banned etc., by the new owners.

To be frank, TNS fell into a madness of juvenile pseudoleftism and the bog standard censorship, found across the spectrum at Neverland ‘socialist’ sites, again unfolded with the boringly predictable results that saw the site abandoned by anyone worth a cracker. The new owners can now talk to themselves and the usual no-hopers in the usual echo chamber manner. The behaviour and consequent numbers are now on record to tell the tale. But as I said I will return to that topic later.

Back in the Middle East next ‘door’ to Syria, the Iraqi army is currently surrounding Fallujah, and the Sunni ‘tribe’ irregular troops are assisting the elected government to retake the city and capture or kill as many Al Qaeda forces they can get hold of.

Back over the border up in Aleppo, the FSA type elements are also taking on Al Qaeda types. Further north, the Turkish government;

‘…has removed 350 police officers from their posts in the capital Ankara, following a corruption probe targeting people close to the government.’

and Turkish politicians are fist fighting in the parliament.

John Kerry is doing his best to put pressure on Netanyahu, eight years after Sharon actually left the scene, and less than a decade after the Zionist state led by him pulled all it’s settlers and troops out of the Gaza strip.

So all troops and settlers are finally out of Sinai, Gaza and Lebanon (invaded under ‘defence’ minister Sharon back in 1982).  The war for greater Israel goes on with the Syrian Golan Heights still occupied; Palestinian East Jerusalem; and the West Bank still occupied – BUT these days the U.S. President – since GWB – no longer calls these areas ‘disputed territory’ but occupied territories!

Clearly U.S. interests are not served in continuing the failed war for Greater Israel. Clearly the U.S. even under Obama, is putting pressure on the Israeli government, and the embarrassing ‘settlement’ project. The blatant racism of Zionism has slowly united world opinion against the project for greater Israel launched in 1967.

For my money, a complicated circle of revolutionary transformation has now closed and western political and military power led by the U.S. has played a leading role in the process. U.S., and other NATO forces are busy in Jordan, both training and equipping ‘FSA’, or equivalent fighters and the bloody war launched by Assad grinds on.

The casualties mount right across the region but provided the U.S. and NATO don’t threaten to destroy Assad’s airpower, the western ‘peace’ movement will stay quiet about the arms and training provided to the FSA.  In other words – provided this war is conducted in the most incompetent and costly (in terms of casualties to the Syrian democratic peoples’) manner – as a slow burn against a well supplied tyranny – the pseudoleft will stay in Neverland.

Obama may yet get the Netanyahu government to finalize the defeat and his supporters will delude themselves with his great achievements, but whatever unfolds US interests spelt out under GWB when he declared the territories occupied and not disputed are now clear enough. The general direction is not going to change, and the general pressure will continue to grow!

Marwan Barghouti – Palestine’s Mandela

Barghouti and Arafat

Marwan Barghouti’s popularity can give new momentum to the Palestinian struggle.

By Shannon Ebrahim

October 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “Al-Jazeera” – On Sunday, October 27, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation launched an international campaign from the infamous Robben Island – where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years – for the release of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian political prisoners.

The symbolism is powerful. Kathrada launched the “Release Mandela” campaign in 1963, just prior to his own arrest, which saw him also incarcerated on South Africa’s Robben Island for 18 years. Now half a century later, as an 84-year-old veteran, he is launching yet another campaign for an iconic freedom fighter.

Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, travelled to Robben Island with the Palestinian Minister for Detainees, along with hundreds of special guests, including South African struggle veterans and five Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

Barghouti was the first member of the Palestinian Legislative Council to be arrested by Israel, and is one of the most prominent of the more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners who remain incarcerated in Israeli jails. The European Union and the Inter-Parliamentary Union have called for his release.

Barghouti’s struggle

Huddled in the back of a fish restaurant in the Gaza Strip in 2001, a few African National Congress (ANC) members of parliament and I sat whispering with Marwan Barghouti. We knew he was number one on Israel’s hit list, but little did we know that within nine months he would be kidnapped by Israeli forces, interrogated and tortured for 100 days, put in solitary confinement for 1,000 days, and, more than 11 years later, become known as “the Palestinian Mandela”.

In an interview Barghouti gave to Al-Monitor in May 2013, he described how the Israelis had kept him in solitary confinement for almost three years in a tiny cell infested with cockroaches and rats. His windowless cell had denied him aeration or direct sunlight, with dirt falling from the ceiling. He was only allowed one hour of exercise a day while handcuffed. He proved unbreakable after three years.

Barghouti’s defiance of the largest military power in the Middle East was inspiring, reminiscent of the fiery determination of the ANC leaders in South Africa twenty years earlier. At the time we met him he was the Secretary General of Fatah, the leader of Fatah’s armed branch Tanzim, and had been the brains behind the first and second intifada. His revolutionary spirit was electric.

He knew very well that sooner or later Mossad would catch up with him, despite his best efforts at being a black pimpernel. In one of a number of attempts to assassinate Barghouti in 2001, the Israeli military ended up killing his bodyguard in a targeted strike. In April 2002, Israeli forces hid in the back of an ambulance and ambushed the house he was staying in, grabbing him. He was later charged for his activities under Tanzim and given five life sentences.

But as with most exceptional freedom fighters elsewhere, his message and persona grew in prison. His popularity has surpassed that of all Palestinian leaders – both in Hamas and Fatah – and he is being hailed by Palestinians as a unifying figure who could lead his people to freedom.

His propensity to unite Fatah and Hamas into one powerful liberation movement insisting on a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders makes him a dangerous threat to Israel’s political establishment. Barghouti’s message is so powerful that Hamas has rallied behind him. When Hamas recently engaged in negotiations on a prisoner exchange with Israel in return for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, they had put Marwan Barghouti at the top of their list. For Israel, Barghouti’s release was not negotiable.

Apartheid and resistance

Palestinian unity threatens Israel’s strategy – which seems to be to delay peace talks, claiming to have no peace partner, while grabbing more land through settlements. That strategy has worked so far, in that settlement building has increased three or four times over the two decades of negotiations. What is left of historic Palestine is Swiss cheese – full of holes, with little contiguous territory. Its comparison to the old South African Bantustan maps is hard to avoid. Where Palestinian villages and towns remain, they are surrounded by the massive apartheid wall, in most instances cut off from their water resources and farm land, which have been annexed by Israeli settlers.

Where Mahmoud Abbas has given in to Israeli demands, opposing all forms of armed resistance, and establishing unprecedented economic and security cooperation with the occupying authorities, Marwan Barghouti has called for an end to all forms of cooperation with the Israeli occupation. Barghouti has been against the collaboration of US-trained Palestinian security forces with Israeli forces, which he believes has guaranteed the security of growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Barghouti has also been scathing about the Arab Ministerial delegation to Washington in April 2013, which proposed amending the 1967 borders in return for land swaps. He considers this the Arab rulers’ worst betrayal of the Palestinian cause. While the Gulf monarchies may have tried to gamble with the future of the Palestinian people, Barghouti’s principled stand has found resonance on the Arab street.

The most famous Palestinian political prisoner is now calling for a third intifada – a non-violent mass uprising. Non-violent protest will deny Israel the ability to dismiss legitimate Palestinian demands as “terrorism”, a strategy that has discredited the Palestinian cause for many outside observers. It will be a Palestinian version of the Arab Spring that will dominate the headlines and galvanise international public opinion.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is only too well aware of the dangers of such calls. His focus at the United Nations and in private diplomacy on Iran as a nuclear threat has deflected the world’s attention from Palestinian independence, settlement building, and freeing legitimate peace partners.

If Barghouti’s attempt, from prison, to inspire a non-violent protest movement captures the imagination of Palestinians, it could start a significant new chapter in the heretofore tragic history of the Palestinians’ struggle for justice.

Shannon Ebrahim is a South African columnist on foreign affairs, a freelance writer, and political consultant. She has worked as the Director for International Relations for the South African Presidency, and coordinated Government policy on the Middle East and East Africa. Follow her on Twitter: @shannonfield7