Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

Thomas Suarez, State of terror: how terrorism created modern Israel, London: Skyscraper Publications, 2016, pp418, £20.  Reviewed by Tony Greenstein.

The state of Israel prides itself on being at the forefront of the ‘war against terror’ and the war on Islam and it is this which makes Israel the darling of Europe’s far right. But this book documents how the Israeli state was born in a wave of terror that makes Palestinian guerrilla groups seem like children at play.

Terror was remorselessly directed at the indigenous Palestinians by the three main Zionist militias – the Labour Zionist Haganah and its Palmach shock-troops; the revisionist Irgun, a split-off from Haganah in 1931 (Haganah Bet); and Lehi or the Stern Gang, a breakaway from Irgun in August 1940. The Irgun was commanded by Menachem Begin, who in 1977 was elected prime minister of Israel. Lehi, which parted from Irgun on the question of continuing the war against the British, was initially commanded by Avraham Stern and later a triumvirate, which included future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (1983-84, 1986-92). Lehi distinguished itself by making two proposals in 1940 for a military pact with Nazi Germany against the British!

Suarez’s book is based on copious research from the Public Record Office at Kew. A clue to this book’s importance is the fierce campaign waged by the Zionist movement against it and its author. In Cambridge the Zionists managed to get a meeting relating to it cancelled.1 In Portsmouth the Zionists enlisted the aid of the Council’s Prevent officer, Charlie Pericleous, in order to put pressure on venues to cancel such talks. Presumably opposing Zionism makes you an ‘extremist’ and therefore a potential terrorist – a good example of how anti-terror laws are used to attack free speech. A talk at the School of Oriental and African Studies was disrupted by a group of Zionists led by Jonathan Hoffman, a well known activist, former Zionist Federation official and someone who has no problem with working with fascist and anti-Semitic groups, such as the English Defence League.

A talk held at the House of Lords on December 15 2016, hosted by Baroness Tonge, was subject to the same bogus complaints of anti-Semitism (on March 15 2017 an ethics committee of the House of Lords dismissed the allegations as baseless).

The Daily Mail, the paper which waged a campaign against Jewish immigration from Nazi Germany and tsarist Russia, became (more…)

Ghassan Kanafani

by As’ad AbuKhalil

In the early 1970s, three Palestinian intellectuals – Ghassan Kanafani, Majed Abu Sharar and Kamal Nasser – collaborated to form the Palestine Liberation Organization’s information office.

Within a decade, Israeli terrorists managed to kill all three – Kanafani in 1972, Nasser in 1973 and Abu Sharar in 1981.

The Zionist movement has never bothered to distinguish in its killing campaigns between civilians and military targets: in fact, on many occasions the Israeli government (or even the Zionist movement before the establishment of the occupation state) targeted civilians on purpose to create terror among the population. Presumably, Israel wanted to kill Kanafani and silence his voice. Yet the plan did not work as intended.

Forty-five years this month since his assassination, Kanafani’s presence is (more…)

Below is the text of a talk delivered by Dani in Dunedin on Friday, July 21.

by Dani Sanmugathasan

Good evening! My name is Dani Sanmugathasan, and I am a member of the British Marxist and Leninist organisation called the Revolutionary Communist Group. The following talk will be on the topic of ‘Corbynmania’ – the opportunist phenomenon that’s swept through the labour movements in core economies over the last two years – and a good place to start is at the events in London earlier this month.

INTRODUCTION

“Oh, Je-re-my Cor-byn!” rang out the chants of many on the streets of London on the 1st of July at the People’s Assembly’s ‘Tories Out’ march. The People’s Assembly, Momentum, Radical Housing Network, the Socialist Workers Party, the Stop the War Coalition, the Socialist Party, and the large trade unions (PCS, RMT, CWU, Unison, Len McCluskey’s Unite the Union…) were all rallying round the Labour Party leader, the holy Son of Attlee, the man who would save Britain from the iron grip of Tory austerity.

But beside these organisations, a distinct second current of marchers – composed of such organisations as Class War, the Focus E15 Mothers, Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants, Architects for Social Housing, Movement For Justice, the Revolutionary Communist Group, and trade unions like the IWGB – led a different chant: “Labour, Tory, same old story!” These groups made (more…)

The following was written by the editors of the US left-wing journal Against the Current, in the July-August issue of that publication, here.

An Israeli sniper aiming at Palestinian protestors with live ammunition during confrontations following a protest against the occupation and in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners hunger strike, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, 26 May. Two weeks earlier in Nabi Saleh a protestor was shot and killed with the same type of weapon. Photo: Haidi MotolaActiveStills

 

One of the most disturbing aspects about the reality in Palestine is its normalcy.

It has become normal to see Palestinians shot and killed, even children. The faces of young Palestinians showing up daily on social media, boys and girls shot by soldiers, accused falsely of attempting to stab a soldier.

It has become normal to see Israeli soldiers shooting skunk water and tear gas, and snipers using live ammunition at unarmed protesters who want the land that was once theirs and the freedom they never had.

And it has become normal for us to engage in the endless, fruitless debate on whether Palestinians throwing stones at armed Israeli soldiers who invade their homes constitutes violence, or whether or not Zionism – which produced this violence – is a racist ideology. And all the while the suffering and the oppression of millions of Palestinians go on almost uninterrupted.

It is no secret that Israelis and Palestinians live two separate realities.

Even when we privileged Israelis go to the village of Nabi Saleh on a Friday to participate in the weekly protest, at the end of the day we are free to leave the village, leave the occupation and return to our safe, clean, well-paved spheres. Unlike the Palestinians we leave behind, our homes will not be raided, our roads will not be blocked and our children will not have to hide for days or weeks from the threat of being shot, arrested and tortured.

We return home sweaty and tired, covered in tear gas and skunk water and we feel we did our bit. But what bit did we do? What is the role of the privileged Israeli activists within the resistance and why are we accomplishing so little?

To begin with we need to admit that this is resistance and ask whether we are willing to take part.

On any given Friday there may be about 10 Israeli activists, be it in Nabi Saleh or Bilin, currently the two main locations for Friday protests in the occupied West Bank. Some Israelis walk in the back, some in the front.

Shadows?

Some like to say they are merely documenting. Most, like shadows, don’t seem like they know their place and don’t want to interfere. Few confront the Israeli forces. So the question that begs to be asked is, what are we accomplishing?

If we don’t use our privilege to push the envelope and to confront the Israeli authorities, then we are indeed mere (more…)

by Yassamine Mather

If there was any doubt that we live in a post-truth world, the events of the last few days in the Middle East have proved that false news is winning out. Saudi Arabia, the birthplace and sponsor of jihadi/Salafi fundamentalism, has broken relations with Qatar, a supporter of a different brand of jihadism, accusing it of supporting ‘terrorism’. And the president of the United States claims he initiated all this. You know you live in a post-truth world when lies are considered truth, stupidity is considered smart and failure is considered success.

Saudi Arabia claimed it had taken the decision because of Qatar’s “embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilising the region”, including the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qa’eda, Islamic State and “groups supported by Iran”. Now anyone with a basic knowledge of the Middle East would tell you that this list of ‘terrorist groups’ put out by the Saudis (and presumably supported by Donald Trump) makes no sense.

Saudi and Qatari support for jihadis

While the Muslim Brotherhood, IS and al Qa’eda are staunch enemies of Iran and its supporters in the region (Hezbollah, Syria, etc), there is ample evidence for both Saudi and Qatari support for a plethora of Sunni jihadi groups in the region – mainly in reaction to (more…)

Today, June 5, marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the 1967 Six Days War.  The war saw Israel take over the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank, as well as Sinai.

by Moshe Machover

Much has been written about the sequence of events leading to the June 1967 Six-Day War: the series of missteps through which Egypt’s president Gamal Abdel Nasser stumbled into the fatal trap of a war he had not intend to fight.1 The course of the war is also well documented: the crushing defeat of Egypt – sealed in the first few hours of the war, when virtually the entire Egyptian airforce was destroyed on the ground, like a badling of sitting ducks – followed by the defeat of Jordan and Syria, which subsequently got sucked into the war.2

As for the consequences of the war, to say that it “was a watershed moment in the history of the modern Middle East”3is, like most clichés, evidently true. (This also applies to the cliché ‘most clichés are true’…) Secular Arab nationalism was dealt a blow from which it has not recovered, while Israel emerged as a regional strongman, America’s local enforcer. Indeed, due to the geopolitical and strategic centrality of the Middle East, the outcome of the war had a considerable global effect: the defeat of the USSR’s main regional allies was a severe blow to its standing as a world power, contributed to its decline and presaged its demise.

In this, the 50th anniversary, much more is and will no doubt be written about all this: the lead-up to the war, its battles and aftermath. But here I would like to consider another aspect of that history: the pre-war roots of trends and developments that became manifest after June 1967. Like every major political crisis, the war was a moment of historical discontinuity: local, regional and to some extent even global reality took an abrupt turn. Yet, like every such crisis, it was also a juncture that amplified some pre-existing tendencies. That these were discernable in the preceding period – at least since 1956 – does not necessarily imply that the post-war shape of things could have been predicted with certainty. Rather, of the various alternatives that seemed possible before June 1967, the war selected some and suppressed others.

Global and regional roots

I cannot dwell here on the pre-1967 indications that the Soviet Union had entered a downward trend – which was to be its terminal decline – internally and internationally. Let me just mention the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, when Nikita Khrushchev was forced into a humiliating climbdown. The Brezhnev era, which started two years later, is generally recognised as one of stagnation, presaging ultimate collapse. Given this background, it could come as no surprise that the Soviet Union had to look on impotently, as its two Arab allies were thoroughly routed and their Soviet military hardware destroyed. This led directly within a few years to Egypt, the leading Arab country, leaving the Soviet orbit and becoming a US client.

While for the Soviet Union the war was but one in a series of steps, midway along its downhill slide, for the Arab world it was a (more…)