Saturday, October 31, 2015

Trump, Sanders, turmoil mark 2016 campaign

....Trump draws a largely working-class crowd, including unionists, Blacks and Latinos, and rural toilers. Some are enthusiastic supporters, others say they come because working people face a growing crisis and they are looking for new answers.

Some liberals and the petty-bourgeois left say Trump is a fascist, pointing especially to his right-wing demagogy against undocumented immigrants, including calls for building a wall along the Mexican border. When 30,000 turned out for a Trump rally in Mobile, Alabama, Aug. 21, Chris Matthews of MSNBC referred to the area as the "Redneck Riviera."

What's drawing the large crowds to Trump's rallies is not racism, but rather his insistence that a sharply different course is needed for workers and his disdain for establishment candidates and politics as usual. He says he's a successful businessman and tough negotiator who will get things done, especially getting people working. Trump talks about rebuilding infrastructure and promoting trade policies he claims will "bring jobs back to America."

He says all the other candidates, of both parties, have created a mess for working people. Speaking to thousands in Jacksonville, Florida, Oct. 24, he declared, "We don't need nice, we need competent."

Asked about foreign policy on "Face the Nation" Oct. 11, Trump said, "I want to have a much stronger military. I want it to be so strong that nobody is going to mess with us." He argued against deeper U.S. military involvement in Syria, saying, "What, are we going to start World War III over Syria?"

And he pledged to take care of workers who have served in the military, who he notes "are treated terribly." Instead of calling for greater conflict with Moscow, as most other candidates do, Trump says when Putin attacks Islamic State in Syria, "I'm all for it."

Socialist Workers Party members have set up tables outside Trump events, including at his Oct. 21 rally in Burlington, Iowa, discussing politics and selling the Militantand Pathfinder Press books on revolutionary working-class politics. While some say they aren't interested, many welcome discussion on the party's proposals to defend working-class interests....

Monday, October 26, 2015

Why I voted for Walter Mondale in 1984

In a year we'll be hearing:

"....We work for the defeat of Ronald Reagan, through the support of Walter Mondale, as a step in the building of an independent people's movement against the right wing, against the rightward motion of the bourgeoisie as a whole, and as a part of the basic struggle to end the rule of monopoly capitalism and for socialism...."


The remedy:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

To out- Zhdanov Zhdanov: a UK Stalinist reviews Harper Lee

For information purposes only, needless to say. JR


Book: Go Set a Watchman

A poignant tale of the difficulties of breaking away from reactionary traditions.

“Harper Lee’s controversial lost novel, written before the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill aMockingbird, is set in the mid-fifties in the States. It unfolds at a turbulent time in American history. The Supreme Court has declared school segregation unconstitutional and, inspired by Rosa Parks, the National Association of Coloured People (the NAACP) is running a bus boycott. In neighbouring Mississippi, two white men have been found not guilty of murdering the black teenager Emmett Till; a killing they subsequently admitted to. Into this febrile atmosphere comes Jean Louise (‘Scout’) Finch, pleased to be returning home [from New York] for her annual fortnight with her family in Maycomb [Alabama].”

This was the succinct and informative introduction spoken by the continuity announcer on BBC Radio 4 before the first instalment of the abridged version of the novel was read, in ten instalments, as the Book at Bedtime in August, following the publication of the novel in July 2015. It was not repeated before any of the subsequent instalments, nor before the omnibus editions on Radio 4 Extra on the Saturday of each of the two weeks it was broadcast, being replaced with the more anodyne description of the book as Harper Lee’s “long-awaited novel”.

That first continuity announcer may have got his wrist slapped for his all-too-accurate description of the book as ‘controversial’, but his background information is essential for the reader who comes to the book in 2015 without a detailed knowledge of the landmark events in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and of the timeline of those events, too.

Historical context to the book

Before assessing either the literary or historical merit or significance of this book, it is essential to bear in mind that it was written in the mid fifties; in other words, at the very time the southern US states were being shaken to the core by these events. Had it been published at the time it was written, it would have been very controversial indeed, and would probably have pleased neither the advocates for the civil rights of the African-Americans nor their opponents.

The first would not have liked Jean Louise’s agreement to her father’s and uncle’s assessment of the ‘negroes’ as “childish and ill-educated” and therefore not ready for an active role in government (without making the obvious counter-argument that black people were denied education and forced to adopt a pattern of behaviour in the presence of whites that would suit the latter’s stereotype, while ‘uppity niggers’ met with violence and abuse at best and, at worst, lynching for themselves and the the burning of their homes and churches as a further collective punishment).

The whites, meanwhile, would not have liked the heroine’s insistence that the negroes were all human beings who were entitled to equality now and not in some distant future at a pace determined by the whites ‘for the negroes’ own good’, and that racist propaganda characterising them as sub-human should be denounced and proscribed and its authors reviled rather than lauded, as much of it was as bad as any of Goebbels’ work.

But there was at least no need for the author to explain to the reader what was going on in Alabama and in Mississippi at that time. In her first conversation after her arrival back home with her father, the lawyer Atticus, his sister Alexandra, and her childhood friend Henry (Hank), now her father’s assistant in the latter’s practice in the town, she asks for the local news. In the ensuing conversation, reference is made to national events.

Atticus asks Jean Louise how much of “what’s going on down here” gets into the New York papers: “I mean, the Supreme Court’s bid for immortality.” “Oh, that.Well, to hear The Post tell it, we lynch ‘em for breakfast ... I haven’t paid any attention to it save for the bus strikes and that Mississippi business.Atticus, the state’s not getting a conviction in that case was our worst blunder since Pickett’s Charge.” “Yes, it was.I suppose the papers made hay with it?” “They went insane.” “And the NAACP?” “I don’t know much about that bunch ...”

Without the background information provided earlier, these elliptical references could leave many modern readers bemused and scuttling to the internet to research the date of the authorship of the book and what were the exact events referred to. Although referred to again – and providing the only explanation for the revelations the book describes – these nationally significant events are never once explained any further in the book, though they are referred to again by the author and their significance for the local community and themselves is discussed in detail by the book’s chief characters.

Controversy surrounding recent publication

Why is it a controversial book today, when all the events covered are now (apparently) safely in the past rather than the subject of ongoing heated debates and struggles? The struggles which later, in the sixties, were to cause the death of many of those involved, from Malcolm X to Martin Luther King and from Deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson, shot by a state trooper while taking part in a peaceful demonstration in Marion, Alabama 1965 and Unitarian Minister James Reeb from Boston killed by a white group in Selma, Alabama during the Selma marches for equal voter registration in March 1965, to the student volunteers murdered in Mississippi in 1964 and the countless, nameless others?

The burning issue is whether Harper Lee herself ever agreed to the second book’s publication. To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960. It showed events in Maycomb (same town, same characters as this book) in the 1930s, when Jean Louise’s father Atticus defended a black man who was wrongly accused by a white woman of rape. Events are seen through the eyes of Scout and her elder brother Jem.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus is the hero – a knight in shining armour, trying his best to even a very uneven playing field. After To Kill a Mockingbird was published, it was an immediate success and led to its author receiving many prizes and awards over the ensuing years. She never spoke at award ceremonies, saying “Well, it is better to be silent that to be a fool”. She never wrote another book, either. (See Theatre: To Kill a Mockingbird, Proletarian, August 2013)

In a 2011 interview with an Australian newspaper, Rev Dr Thomas Lane Butts said Lee now lives in an assisted-living facility, wheelchair-bound, partially blind and deaf, and suffering from memory loss.Butts also shared that Lee told him why she never wrote again: “Two reasons: one, I won’t go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill a Mockingbird for any amount of money.Second, I have said what I wanted to say, and I will not say it again.” (Miss Nelle in Monroeville by Paul Toohey, Sunday Telegraph [Australia], 31 July 2011)

Despite her own advanced years, Ms Lee’s elder sister Alice was her guardian angel in her later years, after Lee’s own faculties and judgement became impaired. Alice protected Lee from all those who would bother or exploit her. It has been said of Lee that she would sign anything put before her by a person whom she trusted. She felt she could trust Alice.

Then, just two-and-a-half months after Alice’s death, there came the announcement from Lee’s lawyers of the publication of a second, ‘lost’ book. In fact, the book was not lost, but stored away. It was not, as some apologists for the publishers have suggested, the third book of an intended trilogy, but the first, unedited, draft of Lee’s first novel.

The publishers Harper Collins, the law firm acting for Lee and the potential beneficiaries of Harper Lee’s estate (she never married) must all have seen the dollar signs and realised the immense interest that there would be in a new book by Harper Lee. That is how the idea was sold to the public: as a ‘sequel’ to To Kill a Mockingbird, but it was a blatant lie.

When you read Go Set a Watchman, it is obvious that it was not written as a sequel to Mockingbird, as many of the childhood incidents recounted in its pages are also to be found in Mockingbird, with some passages repeated word for word. The BBC abridgement left out all of the flashbacks to Jean Louise’s childhood and just dealt with the events of her return home in the summer of 1954 – the year of the final ruling of the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Brown v The Board of Education, which declared segregation in education to be illegal–in this way making it a more coherent story.

The book’s publication was accompanied by a massive amount of hype. Publication day was announced well in advance and booksellers opened at one minute past midnight on the day to allow queueing fans to purchase a copy of the new book without delay. The Times reported that one disgruntled buyer of the book, having complained to the publishers in the USA, had been promised a refund by the publisher’s CEO – a recognition that a con trick had been played upon the unsuspecting public.

Not everyone was fooled by the hype or convinced by the lawyers’ response to queries as to whether Ms Lee had given her informed consent to the publication of her early novel, that she was “happy as hell” about it. Friends were concerned that the publication of the early draft might damage the reputation of To Kill a Mockingbird. The son of Gregory Peck (the actor who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in the 1962 film of the book and who with his family had become close friends with Ms Lee) said he was prepared to go and see Ms Lee in person, but it seems that access to Ms Lee is closely guarded and it is hard to argue against the premise that it is in her interest that she should now be protected from the press and the kind of furore that the publication of her early draft has provoked.

The value of Go Set a Watchman

So much for the controversy surrounding the book; what of the book itself? Is it worth reading? Does it have any merit in its own right? When Go Set a Watchman was first written, its original editor at JB Lippincott Company (later bought by Harper & Row, which became Harper Collins, the current publishers of both novels) was a person whose professional name was Tay Hohoff. She wrote later that “the spark of a true writer flashed in every line”. Her view of the book, however, was that it was not fit for publication, being more a collection of anecdotes than a finished novel. She advised Ms Lee on extensive alterations, advising her to concentrate on the childhood memories of the heroine, Jean Louise (Scout).

Ms Lee has said of this long process, which she evidently found emotionally wearing at times: “As a first-time writer, I did as I was told.” The end result was To Kill a Mockingbird, much of which is firmly based in the reality and history of Ms Lee’s own family and childhood, though it is not an autobiography or even a memoir but has been refined into something more universal and timeless, even while being firmly rooted in a very specific time and place: that is the mark of great literature, which Mockingbird undoubtedly is.

What is it that Ms Lee wished to say about Alabama in particular and the world in general when she wrote her book? The book looks at social inequality based on race and the injustices that arise directly from institutionalised racial prejudices. These prejudices impel all parties along certain roads, will they or nil they, so that, like the characters in a Greek tragedy, they have little control over their own destiny.

That applies in Mockingbird as much to the young white woman who alleges rape (to cover up her spontaneously friendly overtures to the helpful black field hand) as it does to the young black man himself. Does Go Set a Watchman add to or detract from the earlier, finished book? From a reputational point of view it probably detracts rather than enhances the reputation of Mockingbird and on reading it one can see why the genuine friends of Ms Lee were very worried about its publication.

In their view, the manuscript of Watchman should have been quietly donated to an academic institution for scholars to read in order to obtain greater insight into the creative process behind Mockingbird, while the text itself could remain in obscurity.

Why the concern? In the original book, Atticus is seen through his children’s eyes and to them he is a hero of god-like stature. He takes on the defence of the young black man in the teeth of the disapproval of the white community and works hard for his acquittal and then for his survival, albeit without ultimate success. Everyone who reads Mockingbird reveres and loves Atticus. Atticus’s reputation does not, however, survive unscathed from Go Set a Watchman.

In Watchman –ie, in the original version of Mockingbird – the trial that is at the heart of the finished book is referred to only in passing, by way of a contrast to the present and not in any detail. At the heart of Watchman is Jean Louise’s disillusionment when, at the age of 26, she finally is forced to face the fact that her father is not the god-like figure she has always revered and relied on as keeper of her conscience (the ‘watchman’ of the title), but a mere mortal with feet of clay, who does things of which she vehemently disapproves. In particular, taking part in the supremacist activities that were her birth community’s reaction to the movement to end segregation in the south.

Your reviewer will not spoil the story by revealing all the details of the plot as it is recommended that you read the book, notwithstanding the murky dealings surrounding its publication – in the circumstances, you may prefer to borrow rather than buy a copy.

What is valuable about the book is both the quality of the writing – moving and funny by turn, notwithstanding the meandering plot – and the unrelenting spotlight it turns upon society in 1950s Alabama. It is fascinating to compare this book, which was written in the late 1950s about contemporary white society, with the recent book The Help, which dealt with the same society in the 1960s, but was written at a safe distance of 50 years, as a period piece. (See Film: The Help, Proletarian, December 2011)

A portrait of white southern society

Harper Lee was writing about a deeply insecure society that was struggling to hold onto its old values. The Finch family were one of the founding families of Maycomb and as such had been important landowners and slave owners. That is expressly acknowledged in Watchman, though the not in Mockingbird. This makes them part of the upper stratum of Maycomb society, even though the slaves have been freed, the plantation is gone and the plantation house is now owned by an exclusive local men’s club. The last piece of the family’s land – Finch’s Landing, on the riverside – has been sold off just before Jean Louise’s latest visit home in 1954.

The big house in the centre of town where she spent her childhood years had also been sold before the time in which Watchmanis set and had become an ice cream parlour, while Atticus and his sister now occupy a smaller house further out of town. Even so, the Finch name still means a lot. Her father had been elected uncontested to the State Legislature for years and is now the Chairman of the Citizen’s Council, newly formed to organise resistance to desegregation.

Jean Louise’s aunt has firm ideas about how she should dress when out in town, but her friend Hank observes that if she chooses to flout convention and wear her slacks, special allowance will be made for her eccentricity, since she is a Finch. Hank, by contrast, is very aware that since he comes from a poor background, he must never put a foot wrong if he is to find and keep the acceptance of his fellow townsmen.

When she suggests to her aunt that she might marry Hank, her aunt is adamant that he is not suitable. Although he is a lawyer and is being coached by Atticus to succeed to Atticus’ law practice, in her aunt’s view he has ideas above his station, as both his mother and (absent) father were poor.

Even though his mother worked hard in order to be able to send him to public school, Hank only got a college education thanks to the army after the war, and his later advancement was thanks to Atticus. Alexandra avers that: “No Finch ever married the child of red-necked white trash.” Her ideas are as outdated as the whalebone corsets she continues to wear, but they are more acceptable to Maycomb society than are Jean Louise’s.

Supporters and opponents of segregation

Her aunt organises a ‘Coffee’ for Jean Louise, to which all the respectable young women of her age and class are invited. Jean Louise, however, has grown away from the companions of her teenage years and is out of touch with them. She relishes life in New York, with its racial and cultural mix, and has no sympathy for the young matron who describes her horror, on visiting New York, at finding herself sitting next to an African-American in a diner. She muses that if she marries Hank she would have to mix with these women, with whom she has nothing in common.

Yet she has one maxim so deeply ingrained it feels like instinct: “Love who you will, but marry your own kind,” and, to her at least, if not to her aunt, Hank is her own kind, though she loves him only as a dear friend. However, all such ideas of marriage are banished when she finds Hank, with Atticus, actively working to obstruct desegregation.

Jean-Louise feels that she cannot share a bed with someone who does not share her ideas and ideals. She muses that she has been born colour-blind and that it is no longer possible to live on the old terms of (apparent) mutual toleration between the races in Maycomb. Recent events have polarised and driven apart even those among the black and white communities who previously had found a modus vivendi, such as her father and his former black housekeeper Calpurnia, who had acted as surrogate mother to the children after their mother’s death soon after Jean-Louise was born.

Jean-Louise berates her father, when she confronts him with her disgust at his apparent toleration of racism, that he ought to have re-married an empty-headed young white woman who could have brought her up as a lady in Maycomb terms, rather than allow her to live as a tomboy (wearing only overalls and never a skirt until adolescence) and leave her to be brought up by a black housekeeper whom she grew to love and respect.

She had learnt to look on all people equally, knowing her neighbours by name and occupation, regardless of their race. She was not aware that she was allowed a special dispensation as a motherless child and a Finch, and now she found herself at odds with her community, unable to conform to its expectations and values.

Marxists will certainly empathise with Jean-Louise’s discovery that once you have understood a truth about society you cannot unlearn it. The reader can find out how she deals with this dilemma by reading Go Set a Watchman.

Her editor did Ms Lee a great service. Not only did she guide Ms Lee until she had honed her book to the near perfection that is Mockingbird, but she also prevented the publication of the views of the mature Jean Louise in a form that would have made it impossible for Ms Lee to return to her birth community and resume living there as an honoured member of society. If people saw the theme of Mockingbird as being only the good work of Atticus, and not the racism and injustice that gave rise to it, that was their affair. The message was there for those who cared to see it.

Racism has yet to be abolished

In 2015, however, Watchmanseems nowhere near as shocking as it would have been in 1958, when first submitted for publication. As with Mockingbird, The Help and all period novels about racism in the USA, people are able to say: ‘That was then, but it is different now.’ Different it may be, but the rise of a small black middle class and the first black president (though Obama is not from African-American roots himself) cannot obscure the fact that there is still massive racial discrimination in the country.

The US has the highest prison population of any developed country and young black men are disproportionately represented in the prisons as they are also disproportionately represented among the poorest sections of society – facts which are not unrelated to each other. The prisons are often brutal, while young black men on the streets are vulnerable to extra-judicial killing by the police, who are infected by the fear of ‘the other’ in an America where communities live mainly separate lives, official desegregation notwithstanding.

Racism always has been and still is invariably used as an essential tool and accompaniment of imperialism. Paul Robeson memorably commented that only in the USSR did he feel for the first time that he was truly a human being of equal value to all other human beings.

In the 1930s, in the 1950s and in the 2010s racism persists, not just in the southern states of the USA but here in Britain and everywhere else that imperialism holds sway. We must join all our forces to fight imperialism wherever we happen to live, regardless of our ethnicity or country of origin, as that is the only way the blight of racism can be ended.

Major article on class struggle in Israel/Palestine today

(front page)
Attacks on Jews, Israeli gov't brutal 
response deal blow to working class 
The spate of stabbings and other attacks on Jews in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel — encouraged by Hamas and with the acquiescence of Palestinian Authority leaders — has struck a blow against working-class solidarity and set back the fight for Palestinian national rights. It has handed the Israeli government a pretext to close political space and respond with brutal and disproportionate force, including carrying out "collective punishment" against the Palestinian population and destroying homes of Palestinian families.

From mid-September to Oct. 19 nine Jews were killed and dozens wounded in more than 30 attacks, most carried out by permanent residents of East Jerusalem. Many of the attackers were shot dead.

At the same time, Israeli troops have killed at least 17 Palestinian demonstrators and wounded hundreds during protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the last several weeks.

The Israeli government's response to the terror attacks has inflamed tensions and encouraged vigilantism against Arabs. In a widely viewed video Basaraa Abad, a 30-year-old Arab citizen of Israel, is holding a knife after attempting an attack in the Afula bus station, near Nazareth. Although she makes no move toward the police who surrounded her, they open fire, shooting her a half dozen times.

Hamas, the reactionary Islamist group that governs the Gaza Strip and is the main competitor to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, lauded the attacks. "We are proud of you, the heroes of the knives," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Oct. 9, calling the attacks a new intifada or uprising

The first intifada — which began in 1987 and lasted four years — was a mass uprising in Gaza and the West Bank, led by a young generation of fighters. It reaffirmed that Palestinians would not stop fighting as long as they face national oppression and discrimination. It won support among large numbers of Israelis, but did not succeed in forging a new leadership that could provide a revolutionary alternative to groups like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and reactionary Islamist forces.

The knife attacks are the opposite, a consequence of the political bankruptcy of these organizations that claim to speak for the Palestinian people.

On Oct. 18, Habtom Zarhum, an Eritrean refugee, was shot by a security guard who allegedly thought he was part of a terrorist attack at the Beersheba bus station. While Zarhum lay bleeding, he was beaten by a mob and later died. Israeli authorities say they will investigate his death but have ruled out charging any of the vigilantes with homicide.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered checkpoints placed around Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, a form of collective punishment, despite widespread acknowledgement that most Palestinians have nothing to do with the terror attacks.

"It's not good," car wash worker Ahmed Rajabi, a Palestinian in East Jerusalem, told the New York Times, referring to a terror attack on a nearby bus Oct. 13. "We don't agree with those things."

In addition to demolishing the houses of alleged terrorists — leaving their families homeless — no new construction will be allowed at the sites. Netanyahu's cabinet called for accelerating the construction of the separation wall, which cuts through large swaths of the West Bank, making it hard for Palestinians to get to their farms and neighboring towns.

Seven Palestinians were killed and 50 wounded in Gaza Oct. 9 when Israeli soldiers fired across the border into a crowd that was throwing stones and rolling burning tires toward a guard post. The Israel military later announced it would no longer break up "riots" on the Gaza border with live ammunition, but would instead use more rubber bullets and tear gas.

Dispute over Al-Aqsa mosque

The attacks on Jews accelerated after Abbas addressed the United Nations General Assembly Sept. 30.

He accused Netanyahu of scheming to undo the arrangement where the Jordanian government and the Waqf Muslim religious authority administer East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque — one of the holiest sites in Islam — known to Jews as the Temple Mount. The agreement dates to the 1967 Six Day War, when the Israeli army captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As part of the deal, Jews visit the site only at designated times.

Netanyahu says the government has no intention of changing the status quo. But he has often looked the other way as rightist groups, including members of his cabinet, have organized provocative visits. Israeli authorities have increasingly imposed bans on Muslim worshipers under age 40, supposedly to lower the chances of violence. To ease tensions Netanyahu recently banned all members of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, from visiting the site.

In the U.N. speech Abbas listed violations by the Israeli government of the rights of Palestinians, including continued building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and incarceration of 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners.

But instead of presenting a road to mobilize the Palestinian masses, take the moral high ground, and win support from working people and others inside Israel, Abbas said the Palestinian Authority would no longer be bound by previous "agreements and that Israel must assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power, because the status quo cannot continue."

When the recent bloody attacks on Jews began, Abbas refused to condemn them. Instead, he and most Palestinian-owned media have referred to the attacks as "alleged," or denied that they even took place.

The terror attacks have created an atmosphere of fear among many Jews and Arabs in Israel. Shops in the Arab town of Nazareth that cater to Jewish customers as well as tourists have been deserted. The same is true in many restaurants and stores in Jerusalem, Haifa and elsewhere.

In revenge some Israeli Jews have attacked Arabs. Uri Rezken, a Jewish worker, was stabbed Oct. 13 in a suburb of Haifa. "I'm working, and suddenly I feel four knife stabs in my back," he told Israel's Army Radio. "I heard a shout, 'You deserve it, you deserve it, Arab bastards!' When I turn around I see a Haredi [ultra-orthodox Jewish] man."

"If I were Arab, it still wouldn't have been OK," Rezken said. "We are all human beings, we are all equal."

Increased Arab-Jewish relations

There are more ties and relations between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel than any time since the country's foundation. It is not unusual for Jews and Arabs to work side by side in the same factories or businesses, to belong to the same labor unions and at times to socialize.

East Jerusalem, where the majority of the knife attacks have occurred, is home to 300,000 Palestinians. While they are entitled to become Israeli citizens, most have refused; instead they are permanent residents with the right to travel throughout Israel.

Nearly 80 percent of Arab families in Jerusalem live below the official Israeli poverty line, compared to 21 percent of Jewish families. Arab neighborhoods have potholed streets and inadequate water, sewage and garbage collection. Every year municipal authorities demolish dozens of Arab homes that they allege are illegally built, while allowing right wing Israeli groups to buy up property in the Muslim Quarter and the Silwan neighborhood. There are now more than 1,000 Jewish settlers there.

The West Bank, ostensibly under control of the Palestinian Authority, is more like a honeycomb of cantons, with 60 percent of the territory under direct Israeli control, 22 percent under Palestinian civil control but with Israeli cops doing the policing and 18 percent under the rule of Abbas' Palestinian Authority. According to an Israeli army official interviewed by the daily Yedioth Ahronoth, West Bank settlers "have ripped out hundreds of olive trees belonging to Arabs, ruined houses, smashed cars," while Israeli authorities turn a blind eye.

End attacks on Jews, brutal Israeli response


End attacks on Jews, 
brutal Israeli response 
The stabbings and other attacks on Jews in Israel, praised by Hamas and acquiesced to by the Palestinian Authority, and the brutally disproportionate response by the Israeli regime pose more sharply than ever the need for a revolutionary working-class leadership in Palestine and Israel. The Socialist Workers Party calls for an immediate end to the attacks on Jews and the Israeli government's murderous response.

The terrorist actions set back the just struggle of the Palestinian people for national rights and against discrimination. They deepen divisions among Jewish, Arab and other workers in Israel and politically strengthen the hand of the capitalist Israeli government.

Neither the reactionary Islamist Hamas nor the bourgeois nationalist Palestinian Authority has any perspective to mobilize and lead the Palestinian toilers effectively. Instead they organize and encourage terrorist actions and provocations — including unconscionable assaults on civilians — that can only lead to repression and demoralization.

Nor is there any revolutionary working-class leadership in Israel that fights to unite all toilers in the country to battle side by side in defense of their class interests. Such a party would campaign against expanding settlements in the West Bank, for ending the economic embargo of Gaza and to stop discrimination and brutality against Palestinians and other Arab citizens. It would oppose deportation of immigrant workers.

A working-class leadership is needed in Palestine and Israel that can chart a course to increase the confidence and capacity of workers and farmers to combat Palestinian national oppression and capitalist exploitation. Toilers in the Middle East have proven their ability to forge such a leadership, for example in the revolution that brought a workers and farmers government to power in Algeria in 1962.

Such a leadership can be constructed in the fight to recognize the state of Israel, demand a contiguous, economically viable Palestinian state, and advance immediate demands to give the toilers space to live and organize. These include: End the "collective punishment" and destruction of the homes of Palestinian families by the Israeli regime! Guarantee the right of Palestinian toilers to land, water, and the ability to travel to work! Halt the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank! Oppose Jew-hatred in any form!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

“Every single Jew in Palestine is a combatant, even the children”

For purposes of information only:

...In a recent appearance on Hamas's Al-Aksa TV, a Gaza university official justified killing Jewish women and children.

According to the video posted by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), Dr. Subhi Al-Yaziji, Dean of Quranic Studies at the Islamic University of Gaza said: "All Jews in Palestine today are fair game - even the women."

Asked by the interviewer if this is because of the occupation, Yaziji replied in the affirmative.

"Every single Jew in Palestine is a combatant, even the children," he said adding, "They train their children to use tanks and various kinds of weapons."

"They breastfeed them on hatred for the Palestinian people."

The attacks "should be carried out in the very heart of the enemy - in Haifa, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and Hadera as was the case in the past because that is what hurts the Jews," he said according to MEMRI.

The TV interview aired on October 16 during a still continuing wave of Palestinian terrorism.

Where the bodies are buried: George Galloway

Reading articles on Libya from 4 years ago today, I have found some other useful footnotes.

George Galloway, Gaddafi and other Arab dictators

In a recent episode of his weekly radio programme – broadcast from Dubai, where he was holidaying in the “One and Only Royal Mirage Hotel” – Galloway explained his dilemma.
“Somebody said to me in the hotel breakfast room this morning, here in Dubai: ‘Well, your friend’s getting a hard time in Libya.’ I asked him just exactly what he meant by that. And it seems that he’d confused his Arab dictators. Either that or he’d confused me with Tony Blair, who is of course Gaddafi’s new best friend.” (1)
Galloway tells the same anecdote on the “Respect” website:
“Last week at a breakfast in Dubai, an Englishman munching his halal sausages said: ‘Your mate’s getting a hard time in Libya isn’t he?’ – though YouTube is groaning with films of me denouncing Gaddafi over many years. Of course, he could have been getting his Arab dictators mixed up, or – worse – confusing me with Tony Blair.” (2)
It’s easy to understand why Galloway is so justifiably worked up about this kind of thing.
Given the price of a suite in Dubai’s “One and Only Royal Mirage Hotel”, you shouldn’t have to put up with having your breakfast soured by an Englishman who can’t tell one dictator from another.
This person should have known that when Galloway uttered the immortal words, “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability and I want you to know that we are with you, until victory, until Jerusalem,” it was at a meeting with Saddam Hussein, not Muammar Gaddafi.
He should have known that when Galloway wrote that a military commander who had seized power in his country in an army coup “seems an upright sort to me and should be given a chance,” he was referring to Pakistan’s General Musharraf, not Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi.
He should have known that when Galloway joked with a dictator’s son about Cuban cigars, weight loss and hair loss, and promised him, “we’re with you, till the end,” he was socialising with Uday Hussein, not Saif Gaddafi.
He should have known that when Galloway praised a Middle East dictatorship as “the last Arab country, the fortress of the remaining dignity of the Arabs,” praised its ruler as “the last Arab ruler,” and told the victims of the dictatorship that they were “a free people,” he was speaking of Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, not Gaddafi’s Libya. (3)
He should have known that when Galloway referred to a country in the grip of a reactionary dictatorship for the past three decades as a country which “has only been a democracy for thirty years but (which) has come a long way in that thirty years,” he was referring to the Iran of the mullahs, not to Gaddafi’s Libya.
He should have known that when the London School of Economics accepted a donation from the Gaddafi Foundation, this was a bad thing and justifies Galloway’s recent quip about the “Libyan School of Economics”, but when the same Gaddafi Foundation made a donation of a hundred lorries to Galloway’s last “Viva Palestine” convoy, this was something to be welcomed. (4)
Above all else, he should have known the two simple criteria which are to be applied in deciding whether or not a dictator should be described as a “mate” of George Galloway: ‘anti-imperialist struggle’ and ‘achievements’.
The criterion of ‘anti-imperialist struggle’ is easiest understood by contrasting what Galloway has had to say about Gaddafi (not his “mate”) with what he has had to say about Al-Assad (a man of “dignity”).
According to Galloway, speaking in 2008, Gaddafi was “just another Arab dictator” because he had abandoned the ‘anti-imperialist struggle’:
“Gaddafi has betrayed everything and everybody. He turned away from the justified struggle of the Arab people against Zionist occupation and against imperialist domination of the region. He has lost any respect which any struggling people had for him. …”
“I think this is all a tragedy. Gaddafi was always strange, but in the past he took an Arab stance, even if it was more in words than in deeds. But now he is just like all the rest. … He was terrified of American power. But he should have waited because the uprising in Iraq has broken the American power.”
“Gaddafi surrendered to America when he saw Saddam fall but before the Iraqi people rose. If he had waited just one year he would have seen that in every street of Iraq the Arab resistance is defeating the occupation. He lost confidence and faith in the Arabs long ago.” (5)
By contrast, according to Galloway in 2005, Syria was “lucky to have Bashar Al-Assad as her president” because that dictator had kept Syria on the straight-and-narrow of ‘anti-imperialist struggle’:
“Syria will not betray the Palestinian resistance, she will not betray the Lebanese resistance, Hizbullah, she will not sign a shameful surrender-peace with General Sharon, and … Syria will not allow her country to be used as a military base for America to crush the resistance in Iraq." (6)
Earlier this month Galloway returned to the same argument: “The government of Syria for a long time has pursued a policy of Arabness. Of Arab nationalism, of Arab dignity, of support for the Palestinian cause, material support, material support for the resistance, rejection for the foreign occupation of Iraq. And a refusal to bow before the foreign powers.” (7)
Thus, Gaddafi, having ditched ‘anti-imperialism’, is “just another Arab dictator”, whereas Al-Assad, having remained loyal to ‘anti-imperialism’, is “the last Arab ruler”.
The second criterion for deciding who might be a ‘good’ dictator is the more nebulous one of ‘achievements’. This is easiest understood by contrasting what Galloway has said about Saddam Hussein with what he has said about Gaddafi.
In his semi-autobiographical work “I’m Not the Only One”, Galloway wrote: “"Just as Stalin industrialized the Soviet Union, so on a different scale Saddam plotted Iraq’s own Great Leap Forward. … He is likely to have been the leader in history who came closest to creating a truly Iraqi national identity, and he developed Iraq and the living, health, social and education standards of his own people."
Gaddafi, on the other hand, can boast of no such achievements:
“Where did the money (from the sale of oil) go? Well, of course, much of it was stolen by the Gaddafi family and clique around him. Corruption was absolutely rampant and endemic. Other parts of the fortune were spent on harebrained schemes and divvied up and handed round various other dictators.” (8)
Interviewed earlier this month by the “Arabian Business” magazine, Galloway made the same distinctions between Saddam’s alleged achievements and Gaddafi’s lack of them:
“Gaddafi has no achievements, Saddam had many. Both have destroyed their regimes by their mistakes. But Saddam at least had achievements to his name, which Gaddafi can’t begin to match. …This money (from the sale of Libyan oil) has been at best wasted, and, at worst, stolen. I think it is a mixture of waste and theft. …”
“But Saddam nationalised the Iraqi oil. He spent so much money educating Iraqis that at one time they had more PhDs than all the other Arab countries put together. The public realm in Iraq showed signs of the country’s wealth, and the personal wealth of Iraqis in the seventies was extraordinarily high. … He (Saddam) is in a different league to Gaddafi, a different league altogether.” (9)
So, to put it in terms so simple that even Galloway's breakfast companion could understand: some dictators are ‘anti-imperialist’ and can also boast of ‘achievements’, while others have sold out and have no achievements to their credit.
This is, of course, complete nonsense. And not only is it nonsense. It is a morally abhorrent exercise in nonsense which owes everything to Stalinism and nothing to socialism (or even anti-imperialism, in any meaningful sense of the word).
Gaddafi never “betrayed” anyone or anything. Nor is there anything “tragic” about him. From the outset he was a dictator who established a personality cult which rivalled that of Stalin and presided over a state in which political dissent, freedom of expression and working-class self-organisation were outlawed.
Over time, following the collapse of his Stalinist allies in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Gaddafi adopted a less anti-Western foreign policy. But this did not mark his fall from some previous sublime state of anti-imperialist grace.
He was not abandoning “the justified struggle of the Arab people” – because the only struggle he had ever been interested in was the one to preserve his own rule. He did not lose “confidence and faith” in the Arabs – because he had only ever had confidence and faith in his own autocratic rule.
The idea of an ‘anti-imperialism’ of the ‘good’ dictators – those who did not “turn away” from the struggle against “Zionist occupation and imperialist domination” – makes even less sense.
There was nothing ‘anti-imperialist’ about Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980, its campaign of genocide against its Kurdish minority following the war against Iran, or its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. These were the actions of a sub-imperialist power, i.e. one seeking to establish regional domination.
Similarly, Syria’s support for Hizbullah and the “Palestinian resistance” has nothing to do with ‘anti-imperialist struggle’ and everything to do with Syria’s own regional ambitions.
Galloway’s second criterion – his attempts to contrast Saddam’s “achievements” with Gaddafi’s lack of achievement – is equally absurd.
Like Gaddafi, Saddam plundered the country’s wealth (where does Galloway think the money came from to pay for all his palaces?), squandered it on “harebrained schemes” (such as the invasions of Iran and Kuwait), and also allowed some of it to be used to finance the political activities of apologists for his dictatorial rule.
And corruption was arguably even worse in Saddam’s Iraq than it ever was in Libya. But given the circles in which Galloway moved during his frequent trips to Saddam’s Iraq, he could hardly be expected to have noticed that.
There is, however, a political method in Galloway’s madness. And that method is Stalinism.
Apologists for the now defunct Soviet Union argued that there was no repression in the country. Or, if there was repression, then it was a necessary evil arising from the threat of imperialist aggression.
In addition, whatever the Soviet Union’s democratic deficit, they argued, the regime was nonetheless a ‘progressive’ one in that it was carrying out a programme of economic nationalisation and modernisation.
Galloway adopts a similar approach to the supposedly ‘good’ Middle East dictators: they might not be democratic, but at least they pursue an anti-imperialist struggle. And they might not be egalitarian, but at least they are building a modern economy.
Gaddafi, on the other hand, given his failure to do either, is “just another Arab dictator”.
But this distinction between the Saddam/Al-Assad variety of dictator and the Gaddafi variety is an entirely spurious one. Outside of a residual Stalinist mindset, it makes no sense at all. And from a socialist perspective it is simply repugnant.
(In fact, in terms of bloodshed, slaughter, war and genocide it could easily be argued that Gaddafi’s own record, notwithstanding his own achievements in these matters, is pretty modest compared with that of Saddam.)
On reflection, therefore, maybe the breakfasting Englishman should not be taken to task for his comments. Can he really be blamed for mixing up his Arab dictators? At the end of the day, they really are pretty much all the same – including the ‘anti-imperialist’ ones.

4 years ago: Libya


....All the posturing by Washington, London, and Paris as "saviors" of the Libyan people, however, cannot obscure what they are really after. Each of the participating capitalist governments seeks to stabilize the situation in that oil-rich country and region in order to strengthen its strategic interests and keep on raking in profits from the exploitation of workers and other toilers there. The imperialist rulers need a regime in Libya—or in part of it—that is more beholden to them.

At the same time, the competing economic and political interests among the intervening capitalist powers, and the tensions these rivalries produce, have come to the fore since the outset of "Operation Odyssey Dawn." But "saving" working people in Libya from the brutality of the Gadhafi regime counts for nothing in these conflicts.

The fight by working people and others in Libya to topple the Gadhafi regime gained momentum earlier this year in the wake of mobilizations in Tunisia and then Egypt to end long-standing dictatorships in those countries. The ongoing rebellions across northern Africa and the Middle East are a response to intolerable conditions confronting working people in face of today's global capitalist crisis. Millions of workers, peasants, and youth are fed up with the suppression of basic democratic freedoms that make it harder for them to organize—on the land, in the factories, and in the streets—to defend themselves and form their own unions and political organizations.

Working people in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and the world over have common class interests with our brothers and sisters in Libya in opposing the imperialist military assault. What's more, the soldiers and sailors deployed by the wealthy rulers in Washington, London, and Paris are workers and farmers in their big majority—not the sons and daughters of those who send them into harm's way.

Working people the world over should demand: "Stop the air strikes! Hands off Libya!"

Libya and the fall of Gadhafi

November 7, 2011

Imperialist hands off Libya! 

Following what appears to be the execution of Moammar Gadhafi at the hands of bourgeois opposition forces with imperialist backing, President Barack Obama boasted that Washington achieved its objectives "without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground."

Increasingly the favored liberal "prescription" for advancing the U.S. rulers' political-military objectives abroad is covert hunter-killer operations by CIA operatives, special forces, "contractors" and aerial drones—a course with dangerous consequences for working people worldwide.

The imperialists' pretext of helping to bring down an oppressive tyranny is a hypocritical lie. Helping to cement a "stable" bourgeois regime beholden to them and restricting space for toiling masses to fight for their own interests are their objectives.

Imperialists' bitter enmity with the Gadhafi regime began when it was established in 1969 with the overthrow of King Idris by lower echelons of the officer corps. The hated monarchy had been set up by London at the end of World War II. Its fall was a blow to imperialism and a step forward for working people.

In 1970 the new Libyan government closed down U.S. and British military bases, and nationalized all foreign banks and oil reserves—the country's main source of wealth. Italian domination of the economy was swiftly brought to an end.

What was established was another bourgeois, anti-working-class regime demagogically claiming to champion the anti-imperialist struggle. Like other similar bourgeois nationalist regimes in the Middle East, Gadhafi entered into growing conflicts with imperialist powers, leading to Washington's 1986 bombing of Tripoli, Libya's capital, and imposition of sharp economic sanctions in the 1990s.

At the end of 2003, faced with blunt threats by Washington and London after the invasion of Iraq, the Gadhafi government toned down its anti-imperialist rhetoric, abandoned its nuclear weapons program, paid billions of dollars to victims of terrorist attacks attributed to Libya, and opened up its natural resources to imperialist exploitation. To no avail. When the civil war began, the imperialist hyenas and jackals moved at once to take out their old foe and vie among each other for access to oil resources, markets and influence in what they intend to make a pliable regime.

Amid the overthrow of the Gadhafi government and the ensuing struggle among competing bourgeois forces, toilers and other oppressed layers will have an opportunity to fight for increased space to organize and advance their own interests. Imperialist powers, the enemies of working people the world over, always have been and always will be an obstacle to this struggle.

Working people should condemn the intervention by Washington, Paris and London in Libya's civil war and demand imperialist hands off!


November 7, 2011
Washington gloats over
killing of Gadhafi 
(front page)

"One of the world's longest serving dictators is no more," President Barack Obama gloated following the killing of Moammar Gadhafi October 20.

After two months of fighting in Sirte, Gadhafi's hometown and last city under his control, a U.S. Predator drone and French fighter jet bombarded a large convoy leaving the city.

"The strike destroyed at least 11 of the vehicles," reported the New York Times, "with as many as 50 bodies scattered about and the charred remains of victims still sitting in the driver's seat." Gadhafi, who was part of the convoy, tried to flee on foot, but was captured by a soldier from the Misrata Military Council, according to Associated Press.

Footage aired on Arab TV networks showed Gadhafi wounded but alive as opposition soldiers "hit him and pulled his hair to drag him to the ground," according to Reuters. "Someone in the crowd shouted 'keep him alive, keep him alive,'" but "Gadhafi then goes out of view and gunshots are heard." He was hit with a bullet to the head and another to stomach. Further footage showed rebel fighters rolling Gadhafi's lifeless body on the ground before loading him into an ambulance.

Another video circulated a day later shows Gadhafi's son and former national security adviser, Muatassim, sitting upright smoking a cigarette after capture. He was shot dead shortly afterward "in the upper part of his chest from a short distance," reported al-Arabiya.

Under the NATO flag, imperialist forces from the U.S., France and Britain seized the opportunity to take out a longtime foe and strengthen their influence in the country when the civil war broke out in Libya eight months ago. They carried out some 10,000 bombing missions in the country.

Washington self-styled its role as "leading from behind." In the opening weeks of the assault, the U.S. military knocked out Gadhafi's air defenses, paving the way for London and Paris to then carry out the bulk of the air assaults. U.S. aircraft have controlled the skies, carried out surveillance, and provided munitions and refueling for NATO combat plans. U.S. aerial drones conducted surveillance and air strikes.

Obama boasted that Washington achieved its objectives "without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground."

But on the ground, CIA operatives and U.S. "contractors," together with British and French special forces have carried out a number of key functions, including pinpointing targets for airstrikes.

Libya shows "more of the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has been in the past," declared Vice President Joseph Biden during a speech in Plymouth, N.H.

The killing was described by Associated Press as "the latest in a string of foreign policy victories this year for the [Barack] Obama administration," alongside Washington's assassinations of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. special forces in Pakistan and of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki by aerial drone in Yemen.

With Gadhafi's death, the tenuous unity forged among disparate groups opposed to the old regime has been unraveling.

The National Transitional Council, formed in March in the eastern city of Benghazi, won recognition from Washington and other imperialist powers as Libya's legitimate rulers. The council, which includes former members of Gadhafi's cabinet who resigned after the civil war began, has sought to stabilize capitalist rule.

But disagreements with the NTC are sharpening. In Tripoli, the nation's capital, the Tripoli Military Council plays a more central role. It and other local militias, including from Misurata and Zentan, have been occupying parts of the capital for the past two months, refusing calls by the NTC to leave or disarm.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Marcuse summed-up by a Marxist


....For Marcuse, critical theory was tied to objective reality to the extent that it had to reflect "real possibilities". Yet the definition of "real possibilities" becomes very arbitrary when it is divorced from any concept of how the possibilities can be made realities. Thus when Marcuse speaks of Reason, he means himself. Only Marcuse's commitment to (his interpretation of) classical Marxism serves as a check on his speculations.

The analysis of the supposed integration of the working class shows the scientific deficiencies of Marcuse's method. Uncritically he lists bourgeois sociologists' evidence on this theme, then glibly generalises to a sweeping conclusion.

Engels once pointed out that in the construction of his system, Hegel typically resorted to forced arguments, sometimes mere word-play. With Hegel, "not only a creative genius but a man of encyclopaedic erudition", these false arguments are only the outworks of a series of powerful insights. For German philosophers after Hegel, however, the system building sophistry often loomed larger than any real insight. Martin Heidegger, Marcuse's teacher in the 1920s, is an example: his writings are endless speculations on Being, in which references to the Greek or other ancient roots of words play the role of decisive arguments.

Marcuse imbibed that tradition, and often he is like the German philosophical socialists ridiculed by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto: "beneath the French [socialist] criticism of the economic functions of money, they wrote 'Alienation of Humanity', and beneath the French criticism of the bourgeois State, they wrote 'Dethronement of the Category of the General', and so forth... [they saw themselves as] representing, not true requirements, but the requirements of Truth; not the interests of the proletariat. but the interests of Human Nature, of Man in general, who belongs to no class, has no reality, who exists only in the misty realm of philosophical fantasy."

The student revolt was not a confirmation of Marcuse's views on ."the outcasts". Indeed, it was precisely because the students were not outcasts, because snug integration into bourgeois society was so much a reality for them, that some of them found Marcuse relevant.

But the conclusion, which a few students drew was that they should mimic being outcasts. Through them, Marcuse's ideas flowed into the worst forms of elitist and pseudo-populist politics.

Despite his ideas on 'repressive tolerance', it seems that Marcuse did not deny the important difference between bourgeois democracy and fascism: "By and large, Marxian theory has a positive evaluation of the role of bourgeois democracy in this transition -- up to the stage of the revolution would be fatal to abandon the defence of civil rights and liberties within the existing framework" (Essay on Liberation). Yet some radicals went on from Marcuse's vagueness to conclude that societies like the USA or West Germany were fascist, and also to adopt Stalinist forms of intolerance.

Marcuse did not regard any sort of wild lashing-out as valid revolutionary activity. He retained, for example, a classical Marxist attitude to individual terrorism. By critical theory, he did not mean irrational opposition to all existing reality. "What is to be abolished is not the reality principle; not everything, but such particular things as business, politics, exploitation, poverty" (Love Mystified). Yet some students concluded that action must be negative at all costs, disrupting the system and shocking the Establishment.

Marcuse believed that "the working class is still the historical agent of revolution". "The radical transformation of a social system still depends on the class which constitutes the human base of the process of production. In the advanced capitalist countries, this is the industrial working class". Believing that the working class had been neutered, he concluded: "a revolution is not on the agenda", and "the student movement is not a revolutionary force, perhaps not even an avant-garde".

Young people unwilling to accept Marcuse's programme of opposition without hope, however, concluded that the students and the outcasts were the new revolutionary class. Turning away from the working class, they were diverted into all sorts of wild projects.

After denouncing the lack of revolt against the system for thirty years, some of Marcuse's colleagues shied away from that revolt when it came. Jurgen Habermas, for example, denounced the revolutionary students as "left-wing fascists". Marcuse, on the contrary, sided clearly with the student rebels. That will always stand to his credit. But his ideas and his writings (with the possible exception of Eros and Civilisation) will not live on.


Workers world party endorses knife attacks against Jews in Israel as royal road to Palestinian liberation

Thought experiment: imagine if the leadership of Black Lives Matter endorsed random knife attacks against white people as a way to oppose police brutality.

(No, I am NOT suggesting that Black Lives Matter is equivalent to Hamas.)

Here we have Workers World Party licking its editoral chops at the prospect of supposedly comfy middle class Israeli Jews being on the receiving end for a change:

"Self-sacrificing Palestinian youths armed only with knives and determination have let the settler population know that they can no longer hide in their shopping malls, trendy downtowns with al-fresco dining and 24-hour cable-TV mindsets."

The same party that unconditionally defends without quail or caveat  that murderous regime in Damascus which daily oppressed and kills workers, inluding Palestinian refugees.

WWP's editorialized continues:

"The Israeli settler population now finds itself in the same psychological place as the plantation class in Southampton County, Va., in 1831 when Nat Turner led a slave rebellion."

This is not Marxism. This is petty bourgeois leftist moralizing. It is also the worst sort of self-aggrandizement.

It promotes only the chauvinist prejudices of leftists in imperialist countries who think that workers in the semi-colonial world are only capable of unthinking spontaneous acts of suicidal  barbarism, and cannot be won to a Leninist program of class solidarity on the way to building a movement to end the dictatorship of capital.

Full WWP editorial here:

Stabbings in Israel are not a "new intifada"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

YPG Statement in Reaction to Amnesty Report

18th Oct 2015

A Statement by the General Command of the People's Protection Units

To the Press and the General Public

Amnesty International Report, published on 12 October 2015 and titled, "We Had Nowhere Else to Go – Forced Displacement and Demolitions in Northern Syria" is contradictory and puts the credibility of the organisation at stake.

1. The Basic Argument to Respond
1.1. The content of the report contradicts its title, and this is enough to prove its invalidity and to call for the prosecution of its authors.
1.2. The accusations in the report contradict Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
2. Supporting Arguments
2.1. Hurling unsubstantiated accusations without sufficient evidence.
2.2. Relying only on the words of the people, who are unsure of witnessing the events, without verifying their accounts.
2.3. Some of the eyewitnesses in the report are members of terrorist organisations, and have been involved in criminal activities and are part of this conflict.
2.4. YPG's statements deny the content of the Amnesty report.
2.5. During the preparation of their report, the authors of the Amnesty report were hosted by political parties hostile to the YPG and the Self-Administration in Rojava.

On 12th October 2015, Amnesty International published a report, titled "We Had Nowhere Else to Go – Forced Displacement and Demolitions in Northern Syria" in reference to the Self-Administration in what is known in Kurdish as Rojava. According to the report, Amnesty International researchers worked in Rojava after obtaining the necessary permission from the relevant authorities in the administration, and they were free to conduct their filed work without being hassled by the authorities. The Amnesty report is based on testimonies obtained from local villagers, who were allegedly subjected to "forced displacement" and their houses were "demolished", and on evidence gathered from satellite images. However, the report contains fallacies since the testimonies of the individuals interviewed by Amnesty International were incorrect and contradictory to the facts and evidence, widely available and easily accessible to everyone. In this official statement, we will mention some of these flagrant fallacies that put the credibility of the report and Amnesty International at stake.

Page 5 – Paragraph 1 – Line 3
The use of the term "forced displacement" is arbitrary without considering the cases in which this terms should be used according to Article 7 (d) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which clearly states that "Deportation or forcible transfer of population' means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which they are lawfully present, without grounds permitted under international law." Comparing and contrasting the Amnesty report with YPG's statements, it is clear that the use of the term "forced displacement" is in sharp contrast to Article 7 of the Statute. Accordingly, the report's claim of a "war crime" committed by the YPG is a false accusation.

Page 6 – Paragraph 4 – Line 3
"The deliberate demolition of civilian homes described in this report is unlawful under international humanitarian law, which prohibits the destruction or seizure of the property of an adversary, unless required by imperative military necessity."
For the past few years, numerus reports have clearly indicated that the area has been witnessing armed clashes and the use of heavy weaponry by all belligerent parties, including the Syrian regime which attacked most of the areas mentioned in the report using explosive barrels and Scud missiles, causing destruction in the nearby villages.

Page 8 – Paragraph 4 – Line 6
"IS [the Islamic State] has been responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes, in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration including indiscriminate shelling, targeted attacks on civilians, torture and killing of detainees including civilians – including children – and captured fighters, unlawful restrictions on life-saving assistance, and mass forced displacement."
This paragraph clearly shows that the area witnessed armed clashes and that IS' indiscriminate shelling was responsible for the destruction of villages and the mass forced displacement.

Page 10 – Paragraph 1
"Residents said that the village came under the control of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), an armed opposition group, in February 2013. A local Arab official from the Tel Hamees countryside said that the YPG first clashed with the FSA and other non-state armed groups in the Tel Hamees countryside in December 2013, and that the biggest confrontation between the FSA and the YPG took place in the village of Husseiniya in February 2014.3 The official said that at that time, a number of armed groups, including Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa' 114, Forsan al-Sunna, and a group affiliated with IS forced the YPG to retreat."
Our YPG units did not enter the village of Husseiniya in 2014, which was under the terrorists' control. Instead, they withdrew from the outskirt of the village after completing their combat mission, which was named "deterrence and dispersal operation." The paragraph also clearly indicates that the area was witnessing armed clashes between different groups – clashes that are enough to destroy any village.

Page 11 –Paragraphs 4 & 5
"In January 2015 IS took complete control of the village. Several local residents said that none of the locals was affiliated with IS, but one resident said that in fact three men from the village were."
"Mariam a mother of seven living in the village, said that four or five homes were destroyed by IS when they took control of the village."
The first paragraph is a clear reference to the involvement of some locals, affiliated with IS, in military operations against the YPG, and therefore they were legitimate targets in accordance with Article 7 (d) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The second paragraph shows the involvement of IS in demolishing houses. There is no doubt that in cases of military engagement, the population would not stand waiting, but will leave voluntarily, fearing for their security and safety.

Page 11 & 12 – Last Paragraph & Paragraph 1
"We left before the YPG entered and returned in the beginning of March 2015. When we came back we saw our homes were demolished... We don't know who did it..."
This statement clearly shows that the so-called 'eyewitness testimonies' were merely based on assumptions without witnessing the actual events.

Page 12 – Paragraph 4
"... We fled at the beginning of the clashes ..."
This statement clearly indicates that the migration process was not forced but was on a voluntary basis.

Page 13 – Last Paragraph
"....he said he believed the demolition may have been in retaliation for the bombing."
This paragraph is another example showing that eyewitness testimonies were based on assumptions rather than seeing the actual events.

Page 14 – Paragraph 1
"Amnesty International collected information regarding the forced displacement of residents of eight other villages in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration. Amnesty International researchers visited four of these towns and villages from which residents were displaced, speaking with a number of local residents."
This statement is contradictory – speaking with residents who were forcibly displaced and still live in their villages. Similarly the statement shows that Amnesty International researchers relied on people's assumption rather than real eyewitness testimonies.

Page 14 – Paragraph 3 – Lines 4, 5, 8 & 9
" they were forcibly displaced from their homes by fighters who they believed to be members of the YPG."
"Villagers told Amnesty International that they believed they were being punished collectively because some villagers were members of IS or supported IS."
These paragraphs also show that the so-called 'eyewitnesses' did not in fact see the actual events. Furthermore, the report refers to a village called al-Maghat, which does not exist and it is one of the southern suburbs of Suluk, which in turn was a military zone under the control of IS. Suluk was therefore the first line of defence for Tel Abbyad and IS military base. The majority of the houses in Suluk are still filled with bombs, left behind by IS before being defeated and expelled from the town.

Page 19 – Paragraph 1 – Lines 6, 7, 8 &9
"... After a week three men came around 12pm. They had shaved beards and spoke Arabic. They did not look like they were from the YPG. They were wearing green uniforms. They told us that we had until 3pm the same day to leave but we told them what we told the ones before them."
This paragraph also demonstrates the lack of credibility of the so-called 'eyewitnesses' their testimonies were used in this report – 'eyewitnesses' who are not sure of the identity of the fighters who threatened them and asked them to leave.

Page 19 – Last Paragraph
"Another resident, a man displaced from a nearby village, told Amnesty International that the YPG shot in the direction of two children when they approached an area bordering both the village and Suluk. Amnesty International spoke to the children, who confirmed the story."
There is an apparent contradiction in this text: speaking to children after being shot. Similarly, Amnesty International researchers visited villages whose residents were allegedly forcibly displaced and were still residents in their villages.

Page 21 – Paragraph 3 – Lines 2, 3, & 4
"Journalists have reported that the YPG displaced the Turkmen on 6 July 2015 and have identified some of the displaced persons by name."
In this section, Amnesty International relied on a photographic report, published on Siraj Press website, which belongs to the Syrian Revolution General Commission associated with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces. The report includes the names of some families who were allegedly displaced by the YPG. However, the person who documented this report is named, Anwar Al Katav, who was the commander of an Islamic battalion and was involved in deporting Kurds and looting their properties in Tel Abbyad and its surrounding villages. He is currently an employee of ....