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Monday, 24 April 2017

Jim Crow is Alive and Well in Israel

Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system which operated primarily, but not exclusively in southern and border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than a series of rigid anti-black laws. It was a way of life. Under Jim Crow, African Americans were relegated to the status of second class citizens. Jim Crow represented the legitimization of anti-black racism.

This is an excellent article which explains why Israel is an Apartheid state and why the same laws and assumptions that operated in the Deep South in the United States are today happening the State of Israel.  Although Israel has been clever in covering up the nature of the state, it is becoming clearer now to more people as for example in the open operation of two systems of law in the West Bank.

If you want a simple guide to why Israel is an apartheid state, there is no better article than this one.

Tony Greenstein 

The Apartheid Wall
This is an excellent article which explains why Israel is an Apartheid state and why the same laws and assumptions that operated in the Deep South in the United States are today happening the State of Israel.  Although Israel has been clever in covering up the nature of the state, it is becoming clearer now to more people as for example in the open operation of two systems of law in the West Bank.

If you want a simple guide to why Israel is an apartheid state, there is no better article than this one.

Tony Greenstein

Why Israel is an Apartheid State

Long before Israel erected separate communities, the United States perfected the art of the artificial divide.

By Stanley L Cohen
For years, Israel has sold, and we in the United States have bought, the cheap peel-away sticker that it is the "lone democracy" in the Middle East.

It has a nice, assuring ring to it, sort of like "opportunity" or "peace", whatever these chants may, in practice, mean. But, like beauty, it remains very much in the eye of the beholder, and like reality, sooner or later the truth surfaces, no matter how well its fiction is packaged.
Jim Crow discrimination
We in the US are damn good at packaging ourselves, and our charade of equality and justice is second to none. We sell stuff; lots of it. Much of it false. Very much like a willing stepchild, Israel has learned from us that if you say something long enough with vigour, power and money to back it, it begins to take on a surreal life of its own, no matter how much reality puts the lie to its embroideryIndeed, we are quite accomplished at obfuscation. We know it all too well. We've hidden behind the fog of it for so long that, even today, those who remind us that the earth is, in fact, not flat, remain heretics to be scorned. Have we found the weapons of mass destruction yet?
Long before Israel erected separate communities divided by will of law to segregate its Jewish citizens from its almost two million Palestinian Arab ones, the US perfected the art of artificial divide.
West Bank settlements behind the barbed wire separated off from Palestinian villages
With the accuracy of delusion, from coast to coast, could be heard the refrain that race-based segregation was lawful as long as the facilities provided to each race were equal.
For decades, the legal fiction of "separate but equal" was the mantra that state and local governments, throughout the US, held out to justify the artificial, indeed lawful, separation of tens of millions of Americans on the basis of race and nothing more.

Whether in services, facilities, public accommodations, transportation, medical care, employment, voting booths or in schools, black and white were segregated under the cheap shibboleth that artificial isolation of the races insured equality, as long as the conditions of their separation were legally equal.
These laws came to be known simply as Jim Crow.
Segregation in the Deep South
Enter Jim Crow

Indeed, the idea that race or religious separation was not only preferable, but helpful to one another's ability to chart their own separate but equal course, became a perverse intellectual exercise which fundamentally did nothing more than exalt the supremacy of one race at the expense of another.
Putting aside, for the moment, the reality that facilities and services offered to African Americans were almost always of lower quality than those available to their counterpart white Americans, eventually the US Supreme Court had had enough. It held that separate could never be equal, even where there was a match in opportunity and facilities.

As noted in the seminal 1954 case of Brown v Board of Education, a school-based challenge to the notion of equal segregation, separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.
Plush settlements with limitless water co-exist with Palestinian villages which live in drought conditions
In words that eventually took hold first in education, then elsewhere throughout the US, the unanimous court noted:

"Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society ... It is the very foundation of good citizenship ... Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms ...
"Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to retard the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system."
Opposition to miscegenation is strong today in Israel as the government funds groups like Lehava
These words were penned but six years after Israel was granted statehood by the United Nations. Nevertheless, some 62 years later, Brown's command remains a linchpin of any meaningful democratic ideal and, yetevermore elusive in Israel, which takes pride in the falsehood of the same supremacist claptrap rejected long ago.
bigotry started young - opposition to busing Black children
Separate schools

In Israel, Palestinian schoolchildren account for about 25 percent, or about 480,000 pupils, of the state's total student population. Palestinian and Jewish students, from elementary to high school, learn in separate institutions. 

As noted in Brown v. Board of Education, institutionalised discrimination in the education system impedes the ability of students to develop the skills and awareness to participate on an equal footing, as individuals, in a free society.

In Israel, this is no accident. It is very much the result of a conscious effort to build a permanent educational, social and political advantage of Jews over their Palestinian counterparts.
Palestinian encampments after the 1948 expulsion

In 1969, the state passed a law that gave statutory recognition to cultural and educational institutions and defined their aims as the development and fulfilment of Zionist goals in order to promote Jewish culture and education. 

In that light, in Israel, Palestinian children receive an education that is inferior in nearly every respect when compared with that for Jewish children.

Palestinian schools receive far less state funding than Jewish ones - three times less, according to official state data from 2004. In Jerusalem, it is half the funding.

This underfunding is reflected in many areas; including relatively large class sizes and poor infrastructure and facilities. Many communities have no kindergartens for three and four-year-olds. Some schools lack libraries, counsellors, and recreation facilities. Their students get fewer enrichment and remedial programmes and special education services than do Jewish children.
Palestinian students are also underrepresented in Israel's universities and higher education institutions. 

Recent studies indicate that only 10 percent of Palestinian citizens were attending undergraduate programmes, and 7.3 percent and 4 percent were pursuing masters' and doctoral degrees respectively. 
Palestinian academics account for just about 1.2 percent of all tenured and tenure track positions in Israel's universities.

Like a full range of public spending policies that privilege the Jewish majority, government support for student tuition fees, subsidised housing and employment opportunities is available only for those who serve in the Israeli army which, as a practical matter, excludes Palestinians.

No less pernicious, for Palestinian citizens of Israel, is their inability to live and work where they choose.

Community segregation

In 1952, the Israeli state authorised the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency to function as quasi-governmental entities in order to further advance the goals of the Zionist vision, to the detriment of minorities including those with Israeli citizenship. 

Under the Land Acquisition Law of 1953, the land of 349 Palestinian towns and villages, approximately 1,212 square kilometres, was transferred to the state to be used preferentially for the Jewish majority.

In 1953, the Knesset bestowed governmental authorities on the Jewish National Fund to purchase land exclusively for Jewish use. The state granted financial advantages, including tax relief, to facilitate such purchases.

Today, 12.5 percent of Israeli land is owned by the Fund, which bans the sale or lease of it to non-Jews under the admitted premise that it's a "danger" for non-Jews to own land in Israel.

In 1960, the state passed a law stipulating that ownership of "Israeli lands", namely the93 percent of land under the control of the state and the Fund, cannot be transferred in any manner.

In practice, this means that in some 700 agricultural and community towns throughout Israel, housing applicants are screened by Jewish boards with the ultimate power to accept or reject applications to settle in these locales.

These boards, which include representatives from the World Zionist Organization and the Fund, consider a range of criteria such as "suitability to the community's social life" and the town's "social and cultural fabric".

The admission process all but guarantees that almost all Israeli towns and villages will remain Jewish enclaves, and are but a tease to those Palestinian citizens who desire to live in equality in fully integrated communities.

Is it any wonder then, that today, in Jim Crow Israel, few Palestinian citizens have been found to be suitable for these communities?

By virtue of state control over the racial makeup of municipalities throughout Israel, most Palestinian citizens are limited to residence and employment in the acutely overcrowded Palestinian towns and villages. 

In fact, since 1948, the State of Israel has established hundreds of additional Jewish communities, without permitting the construction of any new Palestinian municipality whatsoever. Indeed, of Israel's total area, just 2.5 percent comes under Palestinian municipal jurisdiction.

Of Israel's 40 towns with the highest unemployment rates, 36 are Palestinian and the average employed Palestinian citizens of Israel makes just 58.6 percent of what a Jewish Israeli makes. About 53 percent of the impoverished families in Israel are Palestinian.

Inequality from the Israeli Parliament

Over the years, the Knesset has used the veneer of democracy while acting arbitrarily to ensure that demographic and political control remains exclusively in the hands of the state's Jewish citizenry and parliamentarians.

For example, in an effort to maintain a Jewish demographic majority, the Family Unification Law of 2003 prohibits Palestinian citizens of Israel from reuniting with their spouses who live in the West Bank or Gaza. As a result, more than 150,000 children born of these so-called mixed marriages are denied the most elementary rights and privileges attendant to Israeli citizenship.

In a series of other laws, the Knesset has not only imposed a broad range of limitations on freedom of movement, speech and access to the political system for Palestinian citizens, but imposed ideological boundaries on the platforms of political parties to which they may belong.

By design, such laws thwart the ability of Palestinians to impact upon a political process which, daily, dictates every phase of their lives, but yet leaves them essentially powerless to bring about any fundamental change in the system itself. These restrictions necessarily deny Palestinian citizens an equal opportunity to play a meaningful role in the political life of Israel, otherwise available to their Jewish counterparts.

Under its most recent attempt to stifle its Palestinian minority, the Knesset proposedlegislation that would enable the suspension of elected representatives of the public not because of criminal wrongdoing on their part, or even because of a breach of settled legislative protocol, but simply because their political agenda is objectionable to the Jewish majority.

Under other legislation, Knesset members may strip Palestinian MKs from their elected seats if they voice opposition to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Indeed, recently a Palestinian MK, Haneen Zoabi, was suspended from parliamentary debates for six months when, on the floor of the Knesset, she called Israeli soldiers "murderers" for their role in the Mavi Marmara incident that took the lives of nine pro-Palestinian activists.

On other occasions, the Knesset has imposed severe restrictions on travel by Palestinian MKs, both domestically and abroad.

Currently, there is a law that bans any political party which challenges the existence of Israel as a "Jewish" state or which advocates equal rights for all of its citizens irrespective of ethnicity. Another law empowers the interior minister to revoke citizenship of people who violate "allegiance" to the state.

An elusive pursuit for justice

That Israel has become a land where laws are enacted to obstruct the free exercise of core political rights of its Palestinian citizens is beyond dispute.

Ultimately, in any truly "democratic" society, citizens are able to seek redress for institutional or private injuries through an independent judicial system wed to no result but equal protection and justice for all, no matter the race, creed or religion of those who seek its protection.

It's hard to imagine a more fundamental or essential arbiter of the rights of all than a judiciary that operates under no obligation but to see that justice be done without consideration of the ethnicity of those who come before it.

Yet, by design, in Israel, the pursuit of justice by Palestinian citizens is an elusive chase indeed; one calculated to perpetuate second-class citizenship very much the way African Americans were long held in the US under the arcane practice of separate but equal.

For example, more than 200 major rulings issued by the Supreme Court of Israel have been translated into English and published on the court's website along with the original Hebrew decisions. Although the majority of these pronouncements are relevant to Palestinian citizens of Israel, none has been translated into Arabic.

In the history of Israel's Supreme Court, there have been but two Palestinian male justices.
Currently, all but one of its 15 members is Jewish. No Palestinian woman has ever served on the Israeli Supreme Court. At the district and magistrates court level, Palestinian judges make up less than 5 percent of those who occupy a judicial position, and even fewer who preside over labour courts.

Historically, the Israeli Supreme Court has sided with majoritarian values in what can only be described as a wholesale abdication of its responsibility to see that justice be done for Palestinian and Jew alike. 

Thus the Supreme Court has upheld the restrictions of the 1950 Law of Return which permits every Jewish person to immigrate to Israel and obtain citizenship, yet denies the same protection to Palestinians, even those who were born in the area that is now the State of Israel.

Likewise, the Court has upheld the legality of the January 2003 family unification ban that bars a Palestinian citizen from raising a family in Israel with a Palestinian spouse from the Occupied Territories. The controversial law was introduced as an amendment to the 1952 Citizenship Law, which determines citizenship for non-Jews.

In 2014, the Court dismissed a petition by Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel challenging the continued Judaisation of Palestinian-owned land originally confiscated largely from Palestinian refugees inside Israel. According to Adalah, the court's decision "entrenches racial segregation" and, writes Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large Annie Robbins, "will result in the continued concentration and containment of the Palestinian population in Israel".

These are but a few of the many decisions of the Supreme Court that have adversely affected Palestinian citizens of Israel on the basis of their second-class status and little else.

The definition of the State of Israel as a Jewish one makes inequality and discrimination against its Palestinian citizens a political goal.

The marriage of "Jewish" and "democratic" ensures discrimination against non-Jewish citizens and necessarily impedes the realisation of full equality for all citizens of Israel.

Israel has become better at this "subtle" nuanced sale of an imaginary narrative than we in the US ever dared dream.

What, however, the "Jewish" state has not yet come to grips with, is that eventually myths about equal opportunity and justice for some 20 percent of its population prove specious and that, ultimately, time swallows all such fallacy, whether by operation of law or, tragically, all too often, through violence.

Stanley L Cohen is an attorney and human rights activist who has done extensive work in the Middle East and Africa.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Is there a Hebrew nation in Israel and does it have the right to self-determination?

The overthrow of Zionism is incompatible with a Hebrew nation

My article in this week's Weekly Worker, is a reply to the article Palestine and Hebrew self-determination by veteran Israeli socialist and anti-Zionist, the founder of Matzpen, Moshe Machover.

It is a debate about something that people rarely debate any more in the Palestine solidarity movement, strategy.  We are so tied up with day to day solidarity that sometimes we don't have time to think just what it is we are fighting for and the arguments we employ.

This article is a work in the making.  It is not my final word on the subject but is part of a debate in which I to am open to being persuaded that my formulations are wrong.  However I do believe that the idea that what we are seeing in Palestine is a national conflict, between two nations, is wrong.  

The situation in Palestine is one of settler colonialism not national conflict.  The oppression of the Palestinians is not because they are a different nationality but because they are not settlers.  Theirs is the fate of all indigenous peoples.  Ask yourself if the colonisation of North America and the USA was a national conflict between the Amerindian peoples and the white Americans?  Or was it in essence what can be defined as the racial oppression and extermination of the other, the inferior races according to the American settlers who saw the Indians as little better than vermin?

Similarly in Palestine the conflict is, in essence, a conflict between the settlers and the indigenous.  It is not between two different nationalities.  It is accepted that when the Zionists came there was no Palestinian nation.  Most Arabs then considered themselves part of their tribe or clan or maybe as Syrian.  The Palestinian Arab nation was formed by the Zionist settlers.

 The conflict with the Arabs occurred because they were not Jewish.  Arab Jews, in particular from Yemen, were brought in by the European Jewish settlers to do the hardest work.  Being a settler in Israel is to be Jewish.  That was the first battle of Zionism.  To convert the 'Old Yishuv', the Jews who had been in Palestine before the Zionist colonisation began in earnest in 1904, to Zionism.

If we look to South Africa then the Whites, who would at the time of Apartheid resisted it bitterly, are White Africans.  It is the fate of the coloniser to eventually be assimilated to the indigenous population as happened naturally in ancient times with the Romans and the Greeks who assimilated to those they conquered.

What are we fighting for? I argue for a singe, unitary and secular state in Palestine and reject  Moshe's idea of a future Hebrew state as unrealistic.  Such an idea is not merely utopian but ignores the process that would lead to the defeat of Zionism.  Any attempts to resurrect or establish a Hebrew state in such circumstances, on the basis of a separate Hebrew nationality, could only be an attempt to rebuild Zionism.  It is the fate of Israeli Jews or Hebrews to become a non-Arab part of the Palestinian people.

tony greenstein

For a Secular, Democratic and Unitary Palestinian State

The overthrow of Zionism is incompatible with a Hebrew nation, argues Tony Greenstein, in this reply to Moshé Machover

Friday, 21 April 2017

Fighting the Tories – Within and Without

No Overall Control is a likely outcome

A good opening start to the election campaign - 

In Brighton the key dilemma is whether to concentrate on the winnable Kemptown seat or throw them away in Pavilion when the current MP is to the left of most Labour MPs
We had an interesting discussion at Brighton and Hove Momentum’s Steering Committee tonight. 

The first item on the agenda was a political debate over the general election.  I was one of the few to predict an overall Tory majority last time around so I stuck my head out again.  No doubt I will be in the same position as Paddy Ashdown last time around when he offered to eat his hat but....
It is clear that Theresa May must have agonised for a long time over whether or not to go to the polls.  Her lead in the opinion polls must have been tempting.  We can discard her explanation about difficulties over Brexit.  Unfortunately Jeremy Corbyn has made her job in this respect only too easy. 
As I said yesterday her lead can only go down.  It is likely that there will be a number of tendencies.  In Scotland it is doubtful that there will be any major changes to the SNP’s domination, especially given the weak state of Labour under Kezia Dugdale.  It is however likely that UKIP, which scored 4 million votes last time, is going to suffer a hit.  I suspect it may lose at least half its vote.  If its northern vote crumbles this may result in a number of Labour gains.  In the Tories southern strongholds, UKIP’s collapse will not affect the Tories.  What is also likely to happen is that the Lib-Dems will regain a number of their seats in the South-West and possibly elsewhere.  If this happens it is possible that the Tories, who may not be able to control the agenda in the same way as slippery Cameron did, may find things coming apart at the seams.  In particular over their plans for a hard Brexit.  This is my feeling and we will have to see how things pan out over the next 7 weeks.
If he can't support the elected leader of the Labour Party Woodcock shouldn't be a Labour candidate
If both the Tories and the Lib-Dems fail to gain enough seats to form an administration, then Labour is in with a chance of forming an administration.  However, this does of course the Tory cuckoos within the Labour nest, one of whom, John Woodcock I called out last night.  There is no doubt that the Woodcocks and Peter Kyles are politically closer to the Tories than Jeremy Corbyn.  In the event of  hung parliament then we can expect Labour’s Progress MPs to behave accordingly.

One of the main items on the agenda of Momentum’s meeting tonight was the question of what position to take over standing a Labour candidate in Brighton Pavilion.  For those who are not aware, its current MP Caroline Lucas is the Green Party’s only representative in parliament.  In 2015 she had a majority of nearly 8,000 compared to 1,300 in 2010.  The Labour and Tory votes stayed constant at nearly 15,000 and 12,500 respectively whereas the Lib-Dems collapsed from over 7,000 to 1,500 votes.  UKIP went up from under 1,000 to 2,700.
Peter Kyle - Hove's current Progress Labour MP will find it hard to support a Corbyn-led administration
It is therefore blindingly clear not only that Labour is unlikely to win the seat but that Caroline Lucas is far better than the average Labour MP in terms of her stance on things like the NHS.  Many people in the Labour Party are opposed to standing a candidate at all in exchange for the Green Party not standing a candidate in Brighton Kemptown.   There was, not surprisingly, a certain amount of tribalism from those who believe that Labour should stand regardless.

However we were told that Labour Party rules stipulate that there must be a candidate in every constituency.  The meeting agreed to a motion proposed by Greg Hadfield, the former Secretary of the Brighton and Hove District Labour Party before he was deposed in a right-wing coup nationally, that we should ask the Greens to stand down their candidate unilaterally in Brighton Kemptown on the understanding that activists in Momentum and the Labour Party will concentrate their efforts on winning Kemptown. 
Mandelson has already said that he spends every day doing something to undermine Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party

The other major question concerns who is the candidate in Kemptown.  Whereas all other parties have selected their candidates already, Labour’s NEC hasn’t allowed the selection of candidates nationally resulting in it imposing candidates on constituencies like the two Brighton ones without candidates.  Possible candidates include former Momentum supporter Lloyd Russell-Moyle and far-Right Blue Labour supporter, Progress Councillor Caroline Penn as well as another councillor, Daniel Yates, a supporter of greater private involvement in the NHS.  The previous candidate, Nancy Platts, who is a Corbyn supporter is unfortunately not standing again, which is a great pity since she only lost by under 700 votes to Simon Kirby.  If the Greens, who last time got over 3 thousand votes, were to stand down, then a Labour victory would be possible.  

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Labour Can Win if Corbyn is Bold – the Key Issue is Poverty and the Transfer of Wealth

John Woodcock Must Not be Allowed to Stand

There is no reason that this scab should be a Labour candidate

It was Harold Wilson who said that a week is a long time in politics.  Seven weeks is a political eternity.  Theresa May has taken a gamble that her 21% lead will hold.  It is a gamble that she may yet come to regret.

There is only one direction that her lead can go and that is down.  Once her lead falls then a snowball effect can take over.  What is essential is that Labour marks out the key areas on which it is going to base its appeal.  The danger is that Corbyn is going to continue with his ‘strategy’ of appeasing the Right and appealing to all good men and women.  If so that will be a recipe for disaster.
No election is guaranteed to be without its surprises.  Theresa May is a cautious conservative.  She is literally the product of her background, a conservative vicar’s daughter.  Reactionary, parochial and small-minded, she is a bigot for all seasons.  What doesn’t help is that she is both wooden and unoriginal.  The danger is that Corbyn tries to emulate her.
The key question is whether or not Corbyn can rise to the occasion.  Over the past 18 months his performance has been little short of dire.  There is point in pretending otherwise.  The question is whether he will rise to the occasion as he showed glimpses of doing during the leadership election last summer.  There has been a conscious strategy of appeasing the Right in the hope that they will come to accept Corbyn’s leadership.  This has resulted in his passive acceptance of a witch-hunt.  When Labour’s crooked General Secretary, Iain McNicoll was busy digging into members’ twitter feeds last summer in the attempt to suspend enough Corbyn voters to swing the vote, Corbyn said nothing.  After he won he blew his best chance to get rid of this disloyal toad, a man who did his best to keep him off the ballot paper.
Labour's recent policy announcements are still inadequate to motivate Labour's base
Even Jesus, with whom Corbyn shares his initials, didn’t allow the gospel of love to prevent him from driving the money lenders from the temple with whips.  That should be the approach to MPs like John Woodcock.  Woodcock says there are no circumstances in which he will vote for Corbyn as Prime Minister.  Fine, but the Labour Party has elected him leader with just that in mind.  Woodcock should therefore be left to either join the Tory Party or stand as an independent.  On no account should John Woodcock be a Labour candidate at this general election.

Corbyn’s inability to call out the ‘anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt has symbolised the problems with his leadership.  It has always been the traditional response of supporters of Israel to attack supporters of the Palestinians as ‘anti-Semitic’.  There is no mystery about it.  You only need to google ‘anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism’ to understand what the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel have been playing at for the past 18 months when they alleged that there was a problem with ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party.
The Guardian's only concern is to attack Labour under Corby
Unfortunately Corbyn forgot where he had come from and everything he once espoused on Palestine under the guidance of  a kitchen cabinet of Seamus Milne, James Schneider, Lansman et al.  Corbyn has done the exact opposite of what was required.  He has compromised with a Right which will accept nothing less than his head.

Corbyn’s only hope lies in outflanking Theresa May and setting the agenda.  For example Corbyn’s recent policy announcements including calling for the building of 200,000 houses including 100,000 council houses.  I can remember when Labour under Harold Wilson in the 1960s called for the building of ½ million houses yet the housing crisis now is far worse than 50 years ago.  Another recent policy announcement is that nationalisation of the railways will be enabled by preventing  renewal of existing franchises.  That will take 15 years.  In other words it will never happen.  Labour needs to pledge an immediate renationalisation.  Within one year the entire railway system in this country will be unified. 

The National Health Service is another major issue but it has never been an election winner since the Tories have always professed that it is safe in their hands.  That means that it is not enough to pledge meaningless figures.  There has to be a pledge that not only will private involvement will be reversed but that contracts will be statutorily cancelled.  As regards PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contracts which are bankrupting the NHS, thanks to New Labour, there should be a pledge that these financial instruments will be cancelled, that the contracts in question will be statutorily reversed saving billions of pounds.

Already the contours of the campaign are becoming clear.  Brexist is going to be a major issue and the Lib-Dems are going to make gains on this issue.  Labour at the moment is in the worst position of all.  It is effectively supporting Theresa May.  In the House of Commons Corbyn laid down a 3 line whip that people should back May’s invocation of Article 50.  I know that Corbyn agreed with Tony Benn’s position of withdrawal from the European Union but it should now be obvious that this has led, not to a socialist revival but the growth of UKIP and narrow and nasty chauvinism and racism.
I somehow doubt that Corbyn is capable of drawing the necessary lessons but Labour should make it clear that it is the anti-Brexit party, but from a position of opposition to a free market Europe.  In other words a position which says that we disagree with Europe’s espousal of free market capitalism but we are also opposed to Theresa May’s ideas of a low tax Britain, some kind of offshore tax dodging island off Europe. It is essential that the Lib-Dems do not corner the anti-Brexit market.
To those who say this will be disregarding the vote against Brexit, I have only one answer – rubbish.  People didn’t vote for leaving the single market, increasing unemployment, higher inflation etc.  They voted against what they perceived was an establishment which has pauperised them in the past 30 years, which has deindustrialised Britain and created a ‘flexible’ Labour market.  They saw, quite falsely, immigration as the cause of that impoverishment.  It is Labour’s job to point to the real causes of poverty.

Which brings me to the major theme that Labour should employ.  Instead of swapping useless and meaningless statistics about the deficit and national debt, Corbyn should simply call their bluff.  If the goal is about reducing the debt then why cut taxes for the rich?  What is really happening is a transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest.  Austerity is the means by which to do that.  Corbyn should vigorously argue that a society where the top 10% own 50%+ of the wealth is one in which the needs of ordinary working class people are subordinated to the market and the needs of the rich.
Corbyn has a number of advantages.  For a start we can say to Labour voters tempted to vote Lib Dem that the announcement that the Lib Dems won’t support a Labour-led coalition under Corbyn means that they will, in the event of a hung parliament, go into coalition with the Tories, i.e. a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for the Tories.  Secondly  in those few seats where a Green candidate can make a difference to Labour winning or not, like Brighton Kemptown, we should do a deal.  In Brighton it should be that Labour will stand down in Brighton Pavilion to give Caroline Lucas an easy win in return for the Greens standing down and explicitly backing Labour in Brighton Kemptown.

And one other thing.  Corbyn and Labour should tackle head on the major theme of the BBC at the moment – Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’.  He should admit that as a result of a systematic attack on him by the media and the BBC, that opinion polls are negative.  He should therefore go onto the attack against not only a conservative dominated press, the Guardian included, but a BBC in thrall to Conservative politics, witness the fact that Nigel Farage has a monthly appearance on Question Time.
There is everything to win if Labour has the courage of its convictions.

Tony Greenstein 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

There is only one slogan that matters now!

Land Apartheid in Israel - Knesset Votes for New Bill to Demolish Arab Homes and Villages

Israeli Arabs are 20% of the population yet they occupy 2½%  of the land

Israeli policemen stand guard as bulldozers demolish homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert, on January 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)
You might think that a new Bill to prevent building contrary to the planning laws of Israel might be uncontroversial.  After all you can’t have everyone building where they want to.  It is a principle that should be uncontroversial.  However in Israel it represents another attack on Israel’s Palestinians.
As Ha’aretz notes, some 97% of house demolitions in Israel are of Arab houses.  In the occupied territories settlers can build where they want and when they want, whereas unauthorised Palestinian buildings are regularly demolished.

The backdrop to this is the fact that 20% of Israel’s population, its Arab citizens live in just 2.5% of the land.  It is the same percentage as pertained in 1948 after the expulsion of ¾ million Palestinians.  At that time the Arab population was 150,000.  Now it is 1.5 million  Not one new Arab town has been established.  Israeli planners regularly, almost as a matter of course, deny Arabs the right to construct new buildings or even build extensions to their houses.

That is why there is a massive crisis in the Arab housing sector which the State is helping to intensify.  This Bill heralds another racist attack on Israel’s 20% Arab minority under the guise of enforcing the law.
Bedouins cry following the destruction of houses on January 18, 2017 in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. (AFP/ MENAHEM KAHANA)
Couple this with racist legislation such as the Access to Communities Act which allows hundreds of existing Jewish villages and settlements to deny access to Arabs on ‘social’ grounds and then you see how Israel reinforces discrimination against its Arab citizens.

In addition half the existing Arab villages are ‘unrecognised’.  Like Umm al Hiran which was recently demolished, they live under the threat that police bulldozers will come in and demolish peoples’ homes and all their possessions.  There isn’t one Jewish village or town in Israel which is ‘unrecognised’.  Being ‘unrecognised’ means having no running water, sewerage facilities or electricity.  Literally may Israel’s Palestinian citizens live in the dark age compared to Israel’s Jews. 
This is what Apartheid in the Israeli state means in practice.

Tony Greenstein

Editorial: Construction, Not Destruction

 While Israeli Arabs constitute 20 percent of the population, Arab communities’ jurisdictions occupy just 2.5 percent of the state’s land area, and the process of approving new construction in Arab towns takes decades.

Haaretz Editorial Apr 04, 2017 3:26 AM

A demolished building in Kalansua, January 10, 2017. Moti Milrod
The Knesset will be convening tomorrow for a special recess session to hold the final votes on a bill that would boost enforcement and penalties for building without a permit. The bill increases the maximum sentence for building violations to three years, does not distinguish between building violations committed for profit and those committed for lack of an alternative, and limits the role that judgment and court intervention can play while enhancing the authority of the Finance Ministry unit that enforces construction laws. This favors the administrative track over a system of checks and balances.

The bill, initiated by the Justice Ministry, doesn’t explicitly say that it’s aimed at the Arab public in Israel, but it’s clear to all that its consequences will primarily affect Arab communities. Between 2012 and 2014, 97 percent of the administrative demolition orders were issued against structures in these communities. Moreover, the bill is being promoted by a government that is pleased to pass discriminatory legislation like the muezzin law, the expropriation law, the impeachment law and the cultural loyalty law.
Arab Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh was injured during a protest against house demolitions in the Negev town of Umm al-Hiran on January 18, 2017. Here he is holding the sponge-tipped bullet that he said injured him. (Courtesy/Arab Joint List) 
No one disputes that illegal construction must be dealt with, that all Israeli citizens are meant to obey the law and that the bill is worded in a totally professional manner. However, the bill should not be passed at this stage because it deals solely with enforcement, without providing a solution for the essential problem – a housing crisis in Arab communities – and without recognizing plans being put into place.

Moreover, in the past the government has established that the funding for implementation of this law will be taken from the budget designated for the development of Arab communities. This looks suspiciously as if the bill is aimed at intensifying the abuse of the Arab population and continuing the government’s incitement policy against it.

Yaqoub Mousa Abu al-Qia’an - Arab schoolteacher murdered by Israeli police at Umm al Hiran(Courtesy)
If the Justice Ministry was really interested in solving the problem of illegal construction, it would implement those master plans for Arab communities that have already been approved, expedite the approval of those that have yet to be approved, increase the number of planning committees dealing with these communities, and only afterward declare an enforcement crackdown.

While Israeli Arabs constitute 20 percent of the population, Arab communities’ jurisdictions occupy just 2.5 percent of the state’s land area, and the process of approving new construction in Arab towns takes decades. The combination of these things and the lack of any workable alternatives cause a housing crunch and expand the scope of illegal construction. This bill does not seek to solve the problem, but merely to make life more difficult for an already distressed population.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

Israel wants to build a Jewish only town in place of a Bedouin village [Anadolu]

Police Raid Arab-Israeli Neighborhood, Injure Residents

(Jerusalem) - Israel should immediately cease the discriminatory demolition of homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel, Human Rights Watch said today. Israel should ensure equal treatment in planning and zoning procedures for its non-Jewish citizens, and carry out demolitions only as a last resort along with compensation or alternative housing arrangements.

A daughter of Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, who police say killed an officer on January 18th in Umm il-Hiran, stands among the rubble of her home. Police had destroyed her home that morning. (Credit: Dov Lieber / Times of Israel)
"Israeli authorities allow buildings that will benefit Jewish citizens while demolishing Arab houses next door," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "That obviously discriminates against non-Jewish Israelis, but officials haven't given any justification for this clear difference in treatment between citizens."

On December 13, 2010, Israel Land Administration inspectors and Israeli police demolished six homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Abu Tuk neighborhood of Lod, a city near Tel Aviv, displacing 67 members of the extended Abu Eid family, 27 of them children. On March 2, 2011, Israeli police entered the same neighborhood and destroyed the bases for two prefabricated homes the family had planned to erect there; displaced family members are currently staying with neighbors or living in tents. Israeli authorities say the homes lack building permits, but repeatedly refused to grant such permits; they argue that the land is zoned as "agricultural" rather than "residential" but have refused to re-classify the land as residential.

Arab Israelis hold protest banners against the demolition of homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, January 19, 2016. (Courtesy)
However, Israeli authorities recently rezoned land adjacent to the demolished site from agricultural to residential land, and are planning a housing development there for Israeli security service personnel. Plans for a Jewish religious college have been approved on another nearby site.

Thirty percent of the 70,000 residents of Lod are Palestinian Arabs, according to Israeli government statistics. While official figures are not readily available, more than 70 percent of Palestinian Arab homes in Lod and the nearby city of Ramle have no legal status, according to a project on Israeli cities with mixed populations run by Shatil, an Israeli nongovernmental group.

Hundreds of homes in Lod are under immediate demolition orders, virtually all of them in Palestinian Arab neighborhoods, according to the Shatil project. In addition, approximately 1,600 housing units in Lod are currently designated as "illegal," and thus subject to demolition orders, because they lack proper building permits, according to a government statement.

According to residents who are Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, however, planning authorities repeatedly rejected their applications for permits. Israeli planning authorities by contrast recently approved plans for a seven-hectare campus for a Jewish religious college immediately beside the demolished area.

Israelis attend a protest against the recent demolition of Bedouin homes in the village of Umm al-Hiran outside the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on January 18, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Israeli officials have explained that Arab-Israeli homes have been destroyed on the basis that they lacked permits, but that raises the issue of who is being granted permits. Human Rights Watch is not aware that Israeli officials have justified why Arab-Israelis have a harder time obtaining building permits or access to residential planning solutions in general.

Approximately 500 police officers arrived in the Abu Tuk neighborhood at 8 a.m. on a rainy December 13 and evicted the residents of six buildings before demolishing them. The independent Palestinian Ma'an news agency described one case in which armed police broke down a door and "pointed their rifles" at a brother and sister aged 11 and 12 and told them, "Don't move," before forcing them outside. Other residents told Human Rights Watch that the police did not allow them to save their possessions before demolishing their homes.

The families, after salvaging some belongings from the rubble, pitched five tents that they bought with donations, and placed a sign over their plot that read, "Abu Eid Refugee Camp." For three months, male members of the family, about 30 people, have been living in five tents on the ruins of their former houses, while the women have been staying with neighbors.

The families had been planning to erect two small, prefabricated homes, but on March 2, around 200 police destroyed the homes' bases and clashed with residents, injuring several. Kawser Abu Eid, a 39-year-old mother of five whose home was one of the six demolished in December, told Human Rights Watch that three of her children were home during the March demolitions, and that her 12-year-old son was hospitalized with a leg injury. A female neighbor's arm was broken when she tried to protect the boy, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. A police spokesperson told Human Rights Watch that no police forces were injured.

Police arrested four members of the Abu Eid family and one neighbor for resisting the evictions. They were released the next day under conditions of house arrest. Israeli civil society workers who were following the case told Human Rights Watch that they were not sure how the authorities would enforce the house arrest order, since the residents' homes had already been destroyed.

According to residents, the family complained about the December demolitions to Brigadier General (res.) Ilan Harari, who until February 2011 served as the head of Lod's municipality, and who agreed to write to the Welfare Ministry, the Housing Ministry, and the Israel Land Administration requesting assistance for the families. Human Rights Watch does not know whether the letters were sent. To date, the residents say, they have received no assistance.

"My kids have no home; they can't study under these conditions," Kawser Abu Eid said. "The head of the municipality promised to care for us months ago, but nothing has happened."

Israeli planning authorities have approved residential and educational building projects intended to benefit primarily Jewish Israelis on sites next to the demolished homes. In 2008 Israeli authorities began rezoning agricultural land for residential construction in the next-door Jewish neighborhood of Ganei Aviv, according to the Israel Land Administration. An October 2010 government decision urges other government agencies to complete plans for the neighborhood within six months, and directs that the land be allocated for housing for Israeli military and other security service personnel.
Directly beside the demolished homes, Israeli authorities have approved plans for a 7-hectare yeshiva (religious college) that will, according to the Lod Municipality website, "bring thousands of religious students and families to Lod." Harari said that this college will bring in "high-quality residents." On October 7, Minister of Interior Eli Yishai told Israeli media that "the thing that will help the city of Lod will be bringing another 50,000 Jews there. That's what will save and keep the city, I don't have another solution." The 50-million shekel project will be located on land previously designated as a "public open space." The Lod city council unanimously approved the allocation of the land to the yeshiva, the Lod Municipality stated.

"When it comes to housing rights in Lod, Israeli officials seem to have one rule for Palestinian citizens, another for Jewish citizens," said Whitson. "That kind of discrimination has been rejected the world over."

Members of the Abu Eid family told Human Rights Watch that they had been living in the houses in Lod since the 1950s, after Israeli authorities evicted them from their original homes in the Hula Valley region in northern Israel.

The Abu Eid family had been leasing land in Lod from the state of Israel, which controls 93 percent of the country's land and in most cases does not sell land but leases lots for 49 or 98 years. The land in question was zoned as an agricultural rather than residential area, a designation that restricted the permissible size and density of homes. Human Rights Watch has documented that Jewish towns and neighborhoods in the Lod area were also originally zoned for agricultural use, but authorities rezoned that land to allow residential construction.

Israeli planning authorities denied the Palestinian residents' repeated requests to re-zone the area to permit residential building. As a result, the structures that residents built lacked permits and were deemed "illegal." The Israel Land Administration first issued an eviction order against the homes in 2002. In 2010 the family lost a prolonged legal struggle when the Ramle Magistrate's Court rejected their appeal against the demolition orders, finding that the homes were built illegally on agricultural land.

In addition to the Abu Eid family, another 45 Arab-Israelis with homes in the same area received notices that authorities would bulldoze their houses by the end of 2010. Authorities demolished two Arab homes in the same neighborhood in October.

Israeli law requires the owners of demolished homes to pay the municipality for the cost of the demolition or face a criminal sentence, including imprisonment. Faced with this threat, some Palestinian Arab residents in Lod have demolished their own homes.

In October 2010 the government passed a large "emergency assistance" plan meant to "strengthen and develop the city of Lod," according to the prime minister's office. A quarter of the funds for that plan, 40 million shekels (US$11 million), will be used to create an "eviction authority" for "enforcement regarding illegal construction" for the next two years, with the possibility of an additional 10 million shekels in case of need. By contrast, the decision allocated only 3 million shekels (US $830,000) for projects that "advance" the Palestinian Arab community in the city, and even this part of the plan does not mention new building projects. The plan does indicate that authorities will re-zone an Arab neighborhood of Lod, Pardes Snir, from agricultural to residential, and construct housing units there, but notes that many existing Arab-owned buildings will first have to be demolished.

Throughout Israel, tens of thousands of Palestinian Arab homes lack required permits and are at risk of demolition. Israeli authorities demolished 165 houses belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel across the country in 2009, according to the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, an Israeli nongovernmental organization. Human Rights Watch has reported on discriminatory planning procedures in the unrecognized Arab-Israeli community of Dahmash, near Lod.