Middle East

We publish this article by Yossi Schwartz on the War of 1967 to provide some background information to the recent Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Roza Javan is a young Iranian activist. She discovered the ideas of Socialism, of Marxism and has never looked back since. She comes from a humble working class family, and suffers the double oppression of being both working class and a young woman. She is determined to change all this and believes that the only way out is a socialist revolution. She has taken her pseudonym Roza Javan from Rosa Luxemburg. “Javan” means young: therefore she is the “the young Rosa”.

Dostoyevsky wrote, “That a country should be judged by its prisons”, and that unfortunately still holds today. But nowadays one should also add, “And its health service”.

The enemy is cunning. A cunning enemy must not be spared. The whole people rose to its feet as soon as these ghastly crimes became known. The whole people is quivering with indignation and I, as the representative of the state prosecution, join my anger, the indignant voice of the state prosecutor, to the rumbling of the voices of millions! 
“I want to conclude by reminding you, comrades judges, of those demands which the law makes in cases of the gravest crimes against the state. I take the liberty of reminding you that it is your duty, once you find these people, all sixteen of them, guilty of crimes against the state, to apply to them in

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Dear Editor,

I read the following on the BBC’s web site: “An Israeli soldier accused of shooting a British cameraman dead has been cleared by a judge of any wrongdoing. James Miller was killed in 2003 at the age of 34, as he filmed a documentary in the Rafah refugee camp. Israel had already said the soldier – known only as Lt H – would not be prosecuted over the death.” Having read the article it made my blood boil so I had to say something.

In what was probably the largest demonstration in Iraq since the US invasion in 2003, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis marched in Baghdad this past Saturday to demonstrate against the US occupation. While most bourgeois news agencies were focused on the wedding of Prince Charles and what’s-her-name, The LA Times did report that some 300,000 people filled the streets of Baghdad (most other news agencies, if they reported the demonstration at all, claimed that there were “thousands”). The demonstration, organized by followers of Muqtada al-Sadr and held on the second anniversary of the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime, filled the capital’s al-Fardous square with chants of “No

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While the number of Palestinians killed in the present Intifada reaches nearly 300, Arafat is attempting to change the aims of the struggle. He is hoping for some form of compromise with the Israeli government that will allow him to bring the Intifada to an end. But the conditions on the ground do not allow for a quick solution. Now Arafat is placing his hopes in the United Nations. Decades of experience show that this is not a solution. The Palestinian masses can only have confidence in their own ability to struggle, together with the support of the workers of the whole of the Middle East.

As we approach the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the US and British led occupation of the country is falling apart. Some 1500 US soldiers have been killed in the conflict, and tens of thousands of Iraqis. Everything that the Bush administration said about the war has been exposed as a lie. Far from improving the lives of Iraqis, things are even worse than under the hated regime of Saddam Hussein.

On Sunday March 6, Turkish police forces commemorated International Working Women’s Day in their own way – by using truncheons and tear gas on demonstrators. Around one thousand people took part in the gathering organised by revolutionary left groups to mark the International Working Women’s Day, which took place at the Beyazit Square, Istanbul. The demonstrators were then tear-gassed, kicked and beaten by the police. Many people were left injured. There were so many cops and the attack was so sudden that the demonstrators were not able to resist the attack.

“We can have just our usual flag with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.” (Mark Twain). “With the ramrod as instrument, ‘Freedom’ is to be jammed down the throats of the insurgent patriots whom our expansionist capitalists insult with the name of ‘insurgents’.” (Daniel De Leon).

In his State of the Union address Mr Bush, in the presence of both houses of Congress, while setting out his government’s domestic and foreign polices accused the government of Iran of supporting terrorism and denying the people of this country their freedom.

The media around the world made a big deal out of yesterday’s summit, saying this time there is a real chance for peace in the Middle East. But everything which was said and agreed to yesterday was more or less the same as the agreements of the past, none of which worked. This summit will end like the others, in failure. It is a film we have seen before.

On the day of the elections the media led us to believe there had been a massive turnout, with pictures of Iraqis celebrating “democracy”. Now the real figures are out and the turnout was shown to be well below 50%, even 30%. As they lied about the reasons for the war, why not lie about the elections as well?

Today they are ringing their bells. Tomorrow they will be wringing their hands.” (Walpole)

The propaganda machine was well oiled and ready to roll into action. The speeches had been written weeks in advance by clever people in Washington. The Iraqi elections were an outstanding success, a victory for democracy; millions of ordinary Iraqis were queuing up to cast their vote for freedom. The rule of the gun had lost, the rule of democracy had won. The future of Iraq was bright, and so on and so forth.

The elections have taken place in Iraq. The masse media have presented us with the myth that now “democracy” will reign in Iraq. An occupied country cannot have genuine democracy. Different sections of the population reacted in different ways. Some boycotted, others took part with the illusion that this is the road to peace. The illusion will soon be shattered. Not until the heavy yoke of imperialism and its monstrous twin, capitalism, are removed will the people of Iraq begin to breathe freely.

Recent revelations about British troops using torture on Iraqi prisoners have finally put an end to the myth that the British army is somehow better than the American. All occupying armies are using these methods. The Labour movement must demand the unconditional withdrawal of all troops from Iraq.

It is common among some groups on the left to portray Israel as not being a “democracy”. Bourgeois politicians on the other hand say that Israel is the only “true democracy” in the Middle East. None of this serves to understand the real nature of Israel. The Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM radio (London) sent Yossi Schwartz in Israel a list of questions relating to this issue. Some parts of this were read out on the show. Here we provide the full interview. See also in Arabic: هل إسرائيل دولة...

We are very proud to announce the launching of our new Arabic website at www.marxy.com. This initiative is intended to respond to the growing demand for a Marxist alternative coming from the area stretching from Saudi Arabia over Palestine and Egypt to the western corner of the Maghreb in Morocco.

The real reason why the insurgents are opposed to the “elections” is because they are a cynical lie and a deception of the people of Iraq and world opinion. They are not intended to introduce a genuine democracy. How can any people be free with a foreign jackboot on its neck? The real purpose of the so-called elections is quite clear: to legitimise the American-led invasion of Iraq and disguise the cruel reality of foreign occupation under the façade of a puppet administration.

In both the Palestinian Territories and in Iraq the imperialists are trying to get their stooges elected. In both there is growing opposition and the plans of the imperialists are proving to be more difficult to put in place. They may get the men they want elected, but they can’t convince the masses that life is getting any better. By Yossi Schwartz (December 24, 2004)

Thursday, January 6, 2005

On January 9, Palestinians living in the occupied territories will elect the president of the Palestinian Authority. At the end of January the Iraqis living under the Anglo-American imperialist occupation will elect a new puppet government. In the present conditions that actually exist in both countries the idea that these elections will somehow be “free and fair” is somewhat of a joke, and a rather bad one at that.

Ms. Tali Fahima, a peace activist from Kiryat-Gat suspected of contacting the leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, Zakariya Zbeide, was arrested on August 8, 2004, and turned over to the GSS. The interrogation methods used against her include: sleep deprivation, food deprivation, painful handcuffing to a chair for long periods and sexual harassment.

The Sharon government is held together by a shaky coalition of parties. In the past period some have left, bringing his government close to collapse. Now Labour has come to the rescue. With it it brings the leadership of the Histadrut, the trade union federation. It is an attempt to hold back the inevitable explosion of class struggle which will come in the next period.

We have just received this latest update on the situation Tali Fahima is facing in an Israeli jail. It confirms what we said back in September. It shows how the Israeli state deals with anyone – even if they are Jewish – who dares to take up the plight of the Palestinians in the refugee camps in a serious manner.

Some American Republicans are calling for the resignation of Kofi Annan as UN general secretary. The alleged reasons are accusations of corruption. As always the real reason lies elsewhere. It is part of the onging conflict between the major powers over the war in Iraq.

On October 21 Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed that the British government had agreed to a US request to redeploy the approximately 850 troops and support staff of the Black Watch regiment from their base in southern Iraq to positions near Baghdad.

Yesterday marked a grim anniversary for the Palestinian people. On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Partition Plan calling for the creation of two States, one Jewish and the other Arab. Since then there has not been peace between the two people. Yossi Schwartz in Jerusalem comments.

The Black Watch regiment was clearly moved to Baghdad for political reasons. Blair wanted to help Bush in the US elections and also prove that British troops are needed in Iraq. Once again he has lied to the British public and he has shown that he is prepared to risk the lives of ordinary soldiers to achieve his own political objectives. Not by Christmas! The troops should be pulled out now.

Following the announcement regarding the selection of the new leader of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, the government of Israel signalled a possible shift in policy toward the Authority. The new PA leadership seems keen to collaborate with Sharon. The only thing this proves is that those who in the past promised to liberate Palestine through the tactics of guerrilla war, which turned into terrorism, are ready to sell out.

On the face of it, the siege of Fallujah seems to be going relatively well for the US troops. Most of the city has been captured and according to the mass media “Operation Phantom Fury” will be finished in a couple of days. However, things are not so simple. The war in Iraq was also supposed to be over, whereas it clearly is not. The same applies to Fallujah, where an official victory may well turn out to be a Pyrrhic one.

After a week in hospital, lying in a coma and suffering from a brain haemorrhage, President of the Palestinian National Authority Yasser Arafat has finally died. Yossi Schwartz, writing from Jerusalem, comments on his career.

Only a few weeks ago the bourgeois newspapers bombed us with their great expectations in Iraq, presumably on its way to “freedom and democracy”. Yossi Schwartz comments on these predictions.

The war drums are being beaten once again in Fallujah. After the siege in April this year, the city will again be the scene of an onslaught, probably bigger than last time. During the last weeks, the US forces stepped up their daily air raids while at the same time applying heavy psychological warfare tactics. Threatening to crush the resistance, US imperialism is now actually heading steadily for an all-out assault on Fallujah.

Arafat is seriously ill. His days are clearly numbered now. Yossi Schwartz in Jerusalem explains how this will affect the balance of forces within the Fatah movement and how this will open up more room for Hamas. It also marks the beginning of a new period in which Hamas will be called on to stabilise the situation, thus exposing itself before the Palestinian masses.

At 10.45 this morning Baghdad local time, in a hasty ceremony held behind locked doors, the American proconsul Paul Bremer handed over power to an interim government composed of Iraqis. Until this moment, June 30th had long been put forward as the unchangeable and non-negotiable date when the future of Iraq would be decided. Now the whole thing was rushed through with indecent haste, two days early.

“Wait until Charlie gets back with the final report,” George Bush said confidently in June in reply to reporters fishing after a confession of the president that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Well, now Charlie is back and the report is nothing less than a devastating blow to Bush and Blair.

Anyone who examines the situation of the Middle East, not in each country separately but as a whole, must come to the conclusion that the days of social and economic stability are definitely over. Instead of economic stability we have crisis. Instead of peace we are caught in the crossfire between the imperialists’ state terror and the individual terror of the Islamic fundamentalists.

This is the seventh day of “Operation Days of Penitence” that has killed at least 70 Palestinians, many of them women and children. This is the largest operation in the Gaza Strip in the four years since the beginning of this Intifada.

A general strike in the public sector in Israel has been called in protest against the non-payment of wages and the proposed 2005 budget cuts. The strike is affecting all government ministries, municipal authorities, state-owned companies and transportation, including the national airline El Al. Refuse collection workers, traffic wardens, dockworkers, railway, telecom, electricity and hospital workers are also involved. Once again, it reflects the serious class divide that is opening up in Israeli society.

In spite of only having minority support in the Knesset, Sharon holds on to power. This is because both the left and the right continue to support him, for they cannot offer an alternative. That alternative can only come from the working class.

We recently received this report, which shows how the Israeli state deals with anyone - even if they are Jewish - who dares to take up the plight of the Palestinians in the refugee camps in a serious manner. Tali Fahima is being held without any charges, with her arrest being extended continuously.

Tuesday's bomb attacks in Be'er Sheva could not have come at a better time for Sharon. He immediately used them to distract attention away from a few problems he was having at the beginning of the week. But why has Hamas suddenly returned to this kind of attack? Yossi Schwartz in Jerusalem explains.

The right-wing Sharon government’s construction of the ‘security fence’ continues unabated. Despite the ruling of the International Court of Jurists, despite the UN General Assembly’s resolution, despite breaching Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, despite world public opinion, the Zionist state is using the current international balance of forces to maximise its dominance over the Palestinians. For despite token protests that are meant for public consumption, US imperialism is fully backing its closest ally in the world. And all that the other imperialist powers are willing to offer are verbal ‘concerns’ and diplomatic ‘protests’ against the most vicious and aggressive moves

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After three weeks of fighting the moderate Shia Islamic leader, Ali al-Sistani, has intervened and brokered a compromise in Najaf. However, no long term solution can be provided by such manoeuvres. Today they may "pacify" Najaf, but the fighting will erupt again in the future. Only if the working class gives a lead to the resistance can a final solution be found. By Fred Weston (August 27, 2004)

The severe fighting taking place in Iraq is presented to us as some inexplicable phenomenon, produced by “dark forces” resisting the march of “progress and democracy”. In reality what we are facing is a mass resistance movement aimed at expelling a foreign army of occupation. This movement is fuelled by the terrible conditions Iraqi workers are facing, conditions created by the domination of imperialism.

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