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The battle for Yarmouk is Syria’s Stalingrad

22 January 2014

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The camp at Yarmouk – the largest centre of Palestinian refugees in Syria – is more of a small town than a refugee camp. There are no tents to be seen, but instead streets of houses that are home to every strata of Palestinian society and complete with all the necessary infrastructure and amenities, from hospitals and schools to internet cafes and beauty parlours.

Given its pivotal location as a gateway to Damascus city, the capture of Yarmouk has long been a strategic goal for the takfiri terrorists, who succeeded in completely taking control of the camp towards the end of 2012.

As a result of two years of fierce fighting, the camp’s former population of 250,000 has now dwindled to 18,000, creating many thousands of new refugees, and leaving those who remain to suffer severe hardships. Women in labour have died, the wounded cannot be treated, and malnutrition is rising as food supplies sink dangerously low.

Much has been made of the siege of Yarmouk in western and comprador Arab media outlets, with imperialist-aligned politicians and commentators shedding crocodile tears over the fate of the Palestinians of the camp.

What is not reported, however, is that despite the tragic fact that some Palestinians have been persuaded to side with the rampaging western-backed militias, many more have volunteered to join the Syrian Arab Army in fighting the terrorists.

The Press TV report linked to above makes it clear that the battle for Yarmouk is pivotal in the battle for Syria, and, since both sides know this, the fighting to recapture every house and building is intense. The retreating terrorists are looting, burning and destroying houses as they go, in what has been described as a ‘scorched-earth policy‘.

The battle for Yarmouk is not only one to save the remaining refugees in the camp – it could well be described as Syria’s Stalingrad.

Meanwhile, as western NGOs try to blame the Syrian government for the suffering of civilians, Palestinian activists from inside the camp told Ma’an news agency last week that PLO supply trucks loaded with medicine and food have been prevented from entering the camp by ‘rebels’ firing shells at them from inside.

Our aid convoys have been fired on by Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and Suqur al-Golan. All these groups are known for their terrorist links and methodology. Palestinians everywhere know that those who have taken Yarmouk hostage are these groups, not the Syrian authorities.

Palestinian labour minister Ahmad Majdalani

More from Ahmad Majdalani’s press conference (cited above).

As a small contribution to countering the imperialist media’s narrative surrounding the siege, I am reproducing here some useful insights from comrades in the Arab world with direct connections to present and former residents of the camp:

With the suffering of the Palestinian and Syrian people in Yarmouk reaching a fever pitch, let it never be forgotten that this entire tragedy began with the takfiri scourge entering the once vibrant city in December 2012.

Due to its geographical location as a strategic gateway into Damascus, Yarmouk is being held hostage by various terrorist groups which are also blocking all humanitarian aid delivery attempts by the Syrian Arab Army and the PLO.

As is the case with the destruction of the nation as a whole, this catastrophe falls on the rebels and their zionist-imperialist backers that inflicted this ‘uprising’ on Syria to begin with, not those defending their country from it.

It should also be noted that unlike the rest of the Arab world, where denigration, indignity and even outright racism have befallen them, the Palestinian people are well treated in Syria; they are citizens of Syria and equals.

They are given the same access to the nation’s top-notch education and healthcare programmes, the region’s best before the ‘uprising’, as well as social security benefits, and there are Palestinians who serve in the government, the nation’s armed forces and other important institutions throughout the country.

Yet another reason why the Syrian Arab Republic has been targeted with this conspiracy: because it refused to abandon the Palestinian cause and treat the Palestinian people in the same disgraceful manner that the zionists’ treacherous Arab allies have since the Nakba.

Before the takfiris arrived, Yarmouk was a beautiful place, inhabited by Syria’s best: doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, writers and resistant youth full of promise and hope. The zionists couldn’t be happier with what is taking place there today.

Via Sarah Abdallah in Lebanon

The PFLP have constantly blamed the takfiris for the siege. They said they have taken over the camp, and they won’t leave. They now shoot at anyone trying to bring in food.

The Saudis want them to starve the Palestinians so they can use their photos on social media and western papers to demonise Al-Assad; that’s the sick mentality they have. They had no problem slaughtering people in the past and blaming Syrian troops.

Sometimes I listen to some Saudi ‘intellectuals’ on TV expressing their ‘sorrow’ for the fate of the Palestinians in the Yarmouk camp and my jaw just drops.

Really??? The Palestinians were dying under F16s, Apaches and bombs and you never lifted a finger, nor showed any outrage on your sick media. Nor did you write an article showing support. You stood by America when bombs fell on both Lebanon and Gaza and you did not give a damn. Hypocrites.

Via Fatima Madani

I have witnessed the [formerly] thriving Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. I’ve been there and it was as if it was a piece of sovereign Palestinian soil.

Via Abbas Falasteen Hamideh

I want to agree with Sarah again in regards to how the Palestinians have been treated in Syria.

I haven’t been to Yarmouk but some of my closest comrades whom I’ve been close to for years and Palestinians from Yarmouk can definitely confirm that.

It’s important to note that Syria sent food and weapons to Gaza when the violence broke out by the hands of the zionists.

I also agree with Fatima’s comments on the PFLP. This is true. They’ve been the main force trying to protect the Palestinians.

Via Samia Saleh

Butcher dies, struggle continues. On the death of Ariel Sharon

17 January 2014
Ariel Sharon evades justice by dying

Originally posted on Facebook, 12 January 2014

As when that other murdering tool of imperialism Margaret Thatcher died last year, I can’t feel any particular triumph at the death of Ariel Sharon.

He is one more blood-soaked war criminal who will never be brought to justice – having lived to a ripe old age and received the best possible medical care for years. Care that is routinely denied to those Palestinians who have survived the many attempts to wipe them out by imperialist-backed zionism.

There will be no justice for Sharon’s victims – or for any of those other millions who have been killed and pushed off their land and out of their homes across the Middle East – until imperialism is defeated and its hideous creation Israel is relegated to the dustbin of history.

The struggle continues. And right now the front line of that struggle is in Syria, with tentacles spreading across Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere.

If you truly want to see imperialism and zionism defeated in the Middle East, if you want to see freedom for Palestine and an end to the reign of all the murdering Sharons, make sure you are doing everything possible to support the national-unity government of Bashar al-Assad against the jihadi death squads.

The Syrian people don’t need ‘aid’ for orphans, they need Saudi, Israel, Qatar and Turkey, who are all acting as proxies for Britain, the US and France, to stop sending money, weapons and mercenaries to tear their country apart.

Everyone who falls for the propaganda lies about Syria and gives support to the takfiri scum – or even to the west-backed ‘humanitarian NGOs’ – in Syria is holding back the chances of victory for Palestine and freedom for the people of the entire Arab world. They are prolonging the life of this terrible system and allowing the body count to rise.

I’m sorry Sharon died in a hospital bed and not in a hangman’s noose. Let our revenge be the laughter of our children … or our children’s children … or our children’s children’s children. The struggle continues for as long as it takes.

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Dr Swee Chai Ang: The children of Sabra and Shatila

Soon I was surrounded by a whole lot of children. Kids without homes, without parents, without futures. But they were the children of Sabra and the children of Shatila. One of them spotted my pocket camera, and wanted a picture taken. Then they all stood together, wanting their pictures taken. They wanted me to show their picture to the people of the world.

Even if they were killed and the camps were demolished, the world would know that they were the children of Sabra and Shatila, and were not afraid. As I focused my camera, they all held up their hands and made victory signs, right in front of their destroyed homes, where many had been killed. Dear little friends, you taught me what courage and struggle are about …

I looked into the face of death and have seen its power and ugliness, but I have also looked into its eyes, and seen its fear. For our children are coming, and they are not afraid.

Ariel Sharon: his Sabra and Shatila legacy – an eye-witness account

Remembering Nelson Mandela

14 January 2014

A small selection of reactions to the death of Nelson Mandela, along with some quotes from the man himself.

Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.

– Nelson Mandela, Letter from underground, 26 June 1961

Our long walk to freedom will continue until oppression and exploitation, war and hunger, ignorance and poverty are a thing of the past.

To this end, let us celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, defend his revolutionary legacy in the face of distortions and lies and intensify the struggle against imperialism. There is no better way we can honour this outstanding son of the African soil!

Tribute to Nelson Mandela by Khwezi Kadalie of the Marxist Workers School of South Africa, 15 December 2013

During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Nelson Mandela at his trial for sabotage and treason in Rivonia, 20 April 1964

In the life of every nation there arise men who leave an indelible and eternal stamp on the history of their peoples; men who are both products and makers of history.

And when they pass they leave a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it.

– This tribute to South African Communist Party leader Moses Kotane by Dr Yusuf Dadoo in 1978 was used as the opening lines in the ANC’s tribute to Nelson Mandela.

The people of Asia and Africa have seen through the slanderous campaign conducted by the USA against the socialist countries. They know that their independence is threatened not by any of the countries in the socialist camp but by the USA, which has surrounded their continent with military bases.

The communist bogey is an American stunt to distract the attention of the people of Africa from the real issue facing them, namely, American imperialism.

– Nelson Mandela, The Struggle Is My Life

If you supported the war against the Libyan Jamahiriyah and called Gaddafi a “dictator”, then shut up about Mandela.

If you don’t support socialist Cuba, then shut up about Mandela.

If you don’t support the struggle of the Palestinian people for national liberation, then shut up about Mandela.

If you don’t support President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF, if you think he’s a dictator and you don’t support the struggle to free the land, then shut up about Mandela.

If you don’t think that armed struggle is a legitimate tool in the hands of the oppressed to free themselves, then shut up about Mandela.

– Erich Struch, Chicago, via Facebook

Some say that it is impossible to acquire the great qualities of revolutionary geniuses like Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and that it is impossible to raise our own qualities to the same level as theirs.

But as long as party members work hard and earnestly, never allow themselves to be isolated for one single moment from the day-to-day struggle of the people, and make serious efforts to study Marxist literature, learn from the experiences of other comrades and the masses of the people, and constantly strive to steel and cultivate themselves, they will be perfectly able to raise their qualities to the same level as that of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.

– Nelson Mandela, How To Be a Good Communist

When Cameron latches on the Mandela bandwagon this week remember that in 1985 he was a top member of the Federation of Conservative Students, who produced the “Hang Mandela” posters.

In 1989 Cameron worked in the Tory Policy Unit at Central Office and went on a anti-sanctions fact-finding mission to South Africa with a pro-apartheid lobby firm that was sponsored by Botha.

Remember this when he tells the world he was inspired by Madiba.

– Unknown author, via Tori Rae, West Yorkshire on Facebook

Fifty years of non-violence had brought the African people nothing but more and more repressive legislation, and fewer and fewer rights.

– Nelson Mandela, statement from the dock during the Riviona trial

I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth. But a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people.

– Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom

Maybe the simplest demonstration of the hypocrisy and crocodile tears here is that Mandela and Gaddafi were close friends, and while Obama is declaring a day of prayer for one, he killed the other.

Or maybe it’s that British prime minister David Cameron, who is so saddened by Mandela’s death, spent much of 1985 distributing “Hang Mandela” posters. They’re mourning Mandela because they don’t dare not to, not because they want to.

– Daniel Sullivan, Dallas, via Facebook

Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro … Cuban internationalists have done so much for African independence, freedom, and justice.

We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious imperialist campaign designed to destroy the advances of the Cuban revolution. We too want to control our destiny …

There can be no surrender. It is a case of freedom or death. The Cuban revolution has been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people.

– Nelson Mandela, Speech at the celebration of the start of the Cuban revolution, 26 July 1991, Havana

During the conflict there was a close working relationship between Irish republicans and the ANC … the IRA provided practical training and advice and assistance with military operations to MK [Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation, the ANC's military wing, founded by Nelson Mandela and others].

… the famous attack of 31 May 1980 on Sasal Oil Refinery near J’Burg was carried out with the assistance of the Irish Republican Army …

The British government at the time [1995] lobbied hard for Madiba not to meet me. And when it was clear that the ANC was determined and Madiba was determined that the visit should go ahead the British lobbied for no handshake or photograph. He ignored them.

Gerry Adams pays tribute to a comrade-in-arms in the Irish Dáil

If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America.

Nelson Mandela condemning the imminent invasion of Iraq

We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.

– Nelson Mandela, Address at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in Pretoria, 4 December 1997

4 December 1997, Pretoria

Tata Madiba, no matter how much they try to use your name, no matter how much they want to bathe in your glory, we know that none of your gentleness, none of your humanity, and none of your integrity will rub off onto them, for they don’t possess gentleness, humanity nor integrity.

We know that you are on the side of the downtrodden, the oppressed and exploited.

We know that you will never abandon a single political prisoner, nor will you ever abandon a single fighter for justice and freedom.

– From Tata Madiba, we are ONE with you by ZK Kubu, South Africa

No country can claim to be the policeman of the world and no state can dictate to another what it should do.

Those that yesterday were friends of our enemies have the gall today to tell me not to visit my brother Gaddafi. They are advising us to be ungrateful and forget our friends of the past.

Nelson Mandela on his visit to Libya, which he made as soon as he was released from prison in 1990

The truth is that Mandela was above all else a freedom fighter and a leader of armed struggle against the apartheid regime and its imperialist backers.

He supported and in turn was supported by other freedom fighters the world over, from the IRA, Yasser Arafat’s PLO, Muammer Gaddafi’s Libya, to Fidel Castro of Cuba, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Agostino Neto of the MPLA, etc. – all of whom were branded as terrorists by the representatives of imperialism and its gigantic propaganda machine.

It is to the great credit and integrity of Mandela that he refused to turn his back on any of them, in spite of the pressure brought to bear upon him by imperialism.

Lalkar tribute to Mandela, January 2013

The ANC has a proud record of struggle and resistance to the efforts of successive white minority regimes to entrench this system and make it an everlasting reality defining the nature and functioning of South African society.

It is precisely that struggle which has changed the balance of forces to such an extent that the apartheid system is now under retreat. Through the struggles of our people the ban on the ANC has been lifted and we are able to meet in our own country today.

A regime whose ideology is based on a virulent anti-communism has been forced to unban our ally the South African Communist Party, and remove provisions from the law prohibiting the propagation of communist ideals …

We have suspended armed action, but we have not terminated the armed struggle. Whether it is deployed inside the country or outside, the Umkhonto we Sizwe has therefore a responsibility to keep itself in a state of readiness in case the forces of counter-revolution once more block the path of peaceful transition to a democratic society.

– Nelson Mandela, speech to the ANC Congress in Durban, 2 July 1991

Hamba Kahle, Madiba. Qhawe la ma Qhawe! (Go well, rest in peace, Madiba, hero among heroes!)

Gerry Adams, using the words originally used by Mandela to salute his friend and comrade Walter Sisulu

The goal of communism is a classless society based on the principle: from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs. The aim is to change the present world into a communist world where there will be no exploiters and no exploited, no oppressor and oppressed, no rich and no poor.

Communists fight for a world where there will be no unemployment, no poverty and starvation, disease and ignorance. In such a world there will be no capitalists, no imperialists, no fascists. There will be neither colonies nor wars.

– Nelson Mandela, How To Be a Good Communist

Read more Mandela quotes on FightBack News

Long live Nelson Mandela, anti-imperialist freedom fighter

14 January 2014

Nelson Mandela, freedom fighter

6 December 2013, via Facebook.

In the next days and weeks when all the bourgeois politicians and media whores are pretending they loved Mandela, and are doing their damnedest to turn him into the next Gandhi — into an advert for ‘peaceful protest’, ‘non-violence’ and all things respectable (ie, harmless to imperialism) — I will be remembering that our Madiba was a FREEDOM FIGHTER first and foremost.

He was a leader of the armed struggle against apartheid and imperialism. He supported and was supported by other freedom fighters all over the world, including the IRA, Yasser Arafat’s PLO, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe … and the list goes on.

Like Mandela and the ANC, these have all been vilified and branded as ‘terrorists’ by the corporate media when they dared to stand up for themselves and their peoples. And even after the imperialists tried to turn Mandela into a poster boy for the ‘third way’, he refused to turn his back on his old friends.

Because the truth is that capitalists don’t do reason and debate. They understand only one language: FORCE. People get freedom only if they take it; it is never given.

So let Mandela’s example and his victory against apartheid teach us that if we are prepared to make sacrifices, if we are prepared to organise and if we are prepared to fight, we too can win.

La luta continua! Madiba zindabad!

Hackney Council censor resident from speaking against corporation complicit in war crimes in Palestine

23 November 2012

Hackney council is intent on giving a massive contract to a company that profits from Israeli war crimes. And they don’t care what rules they break in the process – either locally or internationally.

Who are these people who persist in imagining we live in a ‘democracy’? It’s democracy for the ruling class and dictatorship over the rest of us. The rules are for us idiots to waste our time over trying to make sense out of and follow. When the rules don’t suit the interests of our rulers, they’ve no qualms about ignoring them and just getting on with whatever is most expedient!

As far as I can see, the lesson is: forget about trying to beat them through ‘legal’ and ‘democratic’ channels. Do what they do: use your collective power to do what needs to be done!

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Thanks to Caroline Day on the ONN website for the article that follows:

Yesterday (Wednesday) I was meant to speak at a Hackney Council meeting about the potential selection of the multinational Veolia for a colossal multi-billion pound waste management contract, an issue I wrote about last week for the ONN.

Veolia is guilty of grave misconduct in the course of its business in providing vital services to the Israeli settlements therefore abetting Israeli war crimes in occupied Palestine. It also has a perilous financial standing and appalling health, safety and environmental record that should concern any resident of north London.

As I arrived at the council an hour before I was due to give my speech to the Council, I was heartened to see a large gathering of local people from the No 2 Veolia action group protesting at the shortlisting and possible selection of Veolia. In contrast, just two Zionists appeared to wave Israeli flags and shout ‘Support Israel! Support Veolia!’

The speaker of the council introduced the deputation as planned but whilst I was sat ready to give my speech inside the Council chamber, at this very late stage, an unprecedented cross-party procedural motion was tabled by Conservative Cllr. Linda Kelly of Haifa Twinning and seconded by Labour Mayor Jules Pipe. Mayor Pipe gave a speech, which I have since heard is aberrant in the case of seconders of procedural motions, claiming that my deputation should not be heard at council.

Jules Pipe claimed there was no ‘freedom of speech’ issue but I regard this as a clear act of political censorship. I was forced to leave the chamber without having uttered a single word, despite having submitted a delegation that was approved at every level of council procedure. The legal officer for Hackney Council advised the councillors that the delegation WAS legitimate.

The councillors chose to ignore this and voted for the motion, although it must be stated that all Labour councillors were whipped, meaning that to vote against the motion would have resulted in suspension from the party. Because of this we’ll never know how many were able to vote with their conscience.

The Council have since issued a joint statement which I would like to respond to here. I will also publish here the full text of my censored speech which I will also send to all the 57 councillors who were prevented from hearing it last night.

The Council statement statement begins “at Wednesday night’s Full Council meeting, the Mayor and councillors of all three political groups voted not to receive a deputation from a group wishing to raise issues concerning NLWA.”

The North London Waste Authority is made up of elected representatives from each of the seven north London boroughs. Those councillors are responsible for representing the interests and concerns of their constituents. Their voting decision on the huge £4.7bn waste management contract being considered should be guided by what is best for the people of their boroughs. The constituents of the boroughs concerned should have a right to address their elected representatives on matters that affect them, such as who handles their waste and how £600m of taxpayers money, including their own, is spent by each borough on such an undertaking.

“Elected members felt that to receive the deputation could give the incorrect appearance that they were open to lobbying on procurement issues and would be in turn be prepared to lobby an external organisation about its procurement.”

My response: it is important to distinguish between secretive lobbying, which regularly has detrimental consequences for the public interest, takes place behind closed doors, often on behalf of powerful vested interest groups who seek to gain financially from the result of decisions, and the right of a local constituent to put forward views on important ethical, environmental and financial matters in a public forum and on behalf of concerned residents from the borough who signed the deputation.

“Elected members also said that it was inappropriate for Full Council to debate what is intrinsically an international political issue which the local authority is in no position to resolve.”

Can the councillors and mayor Jules Pipe explain to me how Veolia’s dire financial situation and the risk this poses to the taxpayer who will foot the bill in the event that the company goes into administration “intrinsically an international political issue”?

How is Veolia’s dire health and safety record (including a notorious industrial accident which closed both the M5 and M6 motorways) and the risk this poses to their employees and the public “intrinsically an international political issue”?

How is Veolia’s lack of an environmentally friendly CHP solution (which the NLWA itself regards as best practice), and the apparent lack of the necessary capacity to carry out recycling for the area the NWLA covers, “intrinsically an international political issue”?

“Representatives of all three party groups issued a statement that said: We are here to represent residents and do not shy away from difficult debates on local issues, about services and issues that directly affect out borough.”

Fundamentally, this IS an issue that affects all residents of the borough as it regards the use of THEIR money. The issue being considered IS a local service, that of local waste management. It is hard to see how there could be an issue that affects residents less since all residents are affected by the issue of waste management. Veolia’s bid trebles the amount Hackney is currently paying for waste disposal, and this will clearly impact other services, cutbacks will presumably have to be made elsewhere.

“We believe, however, that although technically acceptable, to have received this deputation would not have observed the spirit of the Council’s constitution and went beyond what was reasonable for Members to consider.”

In other word’s a political decision was taken by Jules Pipe not to hear a deputation that conformed to the letter of the Council’s constitution and a whip which would have seem members voting against suspended from the Labour Party was required to enforce this political decision. What is ‘reasonable for the Council to consider” seems not be determined by the fair and reasonable council procedure but by the political beliefs of the mayor and others. Since many Labour councillors were under the intimidation of being suspended from the party we don’t know how many voted according to their beliefs and how many were forced into this embarrassing and unnecessary censorship of a local resident.

Here is the full text of my censored speech for you to read. Why was Hackney so scared to even hear the following?

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NLWA Waste Management Contract

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak about this very important issue.

It is vital that Hackney coucillors are aware, and that it is on public record that selecting Veolia will treble the current costs of waste disposal and expose the taxpayer to significant risks. This contract is likely to last over 25 years and represents a £4.7bn investment of taxpayers’ money.

Today I will outline 5 reasons why Hackney Council should not select Veolia.

1) Grave Misconduct
The Jerusalem Light Railway connects West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. By connecting West Jerusalem to the settlements, the JLR violates article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own civilian population into occupied territory. By confiscating and destroying Palestinian property on the route of the JLR, it contravenes Article 53, which prohibits an occupying power from destroying property in the occupied territory. In November 2012 Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt affirmed that: “The UK has been consistently clear that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law”.

Veolia Transport Israel also operates bus routes 7, 19, 109, 110, 422, and 425 connecting communities in Israel to illegal settlements in the West Bank. A subsidiary company, the Israeli Veolia group, owns and operates the Tovlan landfill in the occupied Jordan Valley.

The NLWA have advised in communications that activities of Veolia’s subsidiary companies cannot be taken into account. This is incorrect according to both EU and UK law. Veolia’s revenues and profits are calculated as a whole and are listed as such on the Paris and New York stock exchanges. In reporting results, Veolia considers subsidiaries to be divisions of itself, and its subsidiaries’ contracts as its own contracts. Legally Veolia and its subsidiaries in the UK, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories should be treated as a single entity.

The NLWA have also advised that they cannot consider the location of a company’s activities. But this is irrelevant, as it not the location per se that is the issue, but the fact that Veolia’s business activities in that location violate international law.

Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and numerous experts in international law stress that any decision by the NLWA to provide access to public funds to Veolia may contravene the UK’s international legal obligation not to facilitate violations of international law.

2) Discriminatory Practices
Racist recruitment: Veolia advertised jobs on the JLR requiring both Hebrew to a “mother tongue” standard and military service, a discriminatory requirement that excludes Palestinians.

Gender segregation: Veolia operates a segregated bus service on route 322 from Ashdod to Tel Aviv. Women enter through the rear of the vehicle and the men from the front. They cannot touch each other or sit next to one another.

3) Environmental
Veolia’s proposal is limited to incineration, competing bids offer the more environmentally friendly Combined Heat and Power solution which emits less Co2 into the atmosphere.

Despite claiming to be ‘CHP ready’, Veolia have made no provision for a CHP solution and no obvious potential for this exists in the site they have selected.

Most Councils, including Hackney, wish to increase the amount of waste they recycle. For this reason it would be perverse to select Veolia to handle waste management since its strength and technical capabilities are in incineration. At present the UK capacity of Veolia’s co-mingled recycling plants is less than 20% of that required for north London.

Competing companies in the bidding process are operating recycling facilities that can process around 250,000 tonnes a year, close to the amount required for north London and around 5 times larger than any plant operated at present by Veolia in the UK.

The incinerator proposed by Veolia has an electrical output of 50 MW, over 25% higher than that of rival bidder E.On, and an indication of Veolia’s prioritisation of incineration over recycling.

4) Health and Safety
Veolia have an appalling health and safety record.

In 2005 they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6 and 9 of the Dangerous and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations Act 2002, after a huge chemical explosion at a Veolia facility resulted in the closure of the M6 and M5 motorways.

In May 2009 an explosion at waste recycling plant in Ohio injured two workers and damaged adjacent buildings.

In April 2011 the collapse of a sewage holding wall at a Veolia plant in Tennesse, spilled 1.5 million gallons of polluted water into a river and killed two workers.

In November 2011, a Veolia plant discharged raw and toxic digester gas into the atmosphere in Point Richmond California.

5) Financial concerns
The NLWA currently operates the EcoPark at Edmonton, recycling some waste, with the rest either incinerated to generate electricity or sent to landfill. Current costs for disposal and treatment are around £75 a tonne.

Veolia will almost triple this, charging close to £200 per tonne. Harrow Council actually make a profit by operating their waste and recycling services in-house, conversely Brent is prevented from doing the same by being locked into a contract with Veolia.

Veolia faces serious financial problems. Its share price has dropped below 8 Euros — compared with above 60 Euros five years ago — while debt has risen to above 15 billion Euros. Veolia is facing a major lawsuit from competitor EDF over the ownership of Dalkia. Veolia has pledged to sell billions of euros of assets and pull out of dozens of countries in a bid to lower debt and reverse losses.

The risk posed by outsourcing contractors going into administration is amply demonstrated by the case of Barnet Homes, where taxpayers subsequently picked up the bill. This is even more pertinent in the case of the north London waste contract as the duration and financial value of the contract are so considerable.

At a time of unprecedented cuts to Council budgets, selecting Veolia is not a gamble any Council can afford to make with taxpayers’ money.

‘Globe to globe’ meets global intifada at London’s Shakespeare theatre – poem and video for the cultural boycott of Israel

28 May 2012

Palestine solidarity activists will be demonstrating at the Globe today, London’s Shakespearean theatre. They will be letting Habima, the Israeli National Theatre, know that performing for colonists illegally settled on Palestinian land makes them complicit in Israel’s breaches of international law and that art may not be used to whitewash human rights abuses.

Please use the poem and video below to spread the word about the cultural boycott of Israel – and let the Globe know that hosting those who collude with war crimes is to join in their collusion.

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SONNET
by Sue Blackwell

If all the world’s a stage – why then, the stage

Must play its part if we would change the world.

Whence this commotion? Why such howls of rage

The moment that our banners are unfurled?

In Shakespeare’s time, an audience was moved

By speeches about justice and compassion.

The Bard, methinks, could only have approved

Of protests carried out in such a fashion.

We’ll take no lessons from those fools who claim

That politics can’t mix with the theatre.

If actors break the law, they are to blame.

Perform in settlements? They should know better!

Attempts to whitewash Israel just got harder:

Now “Globe to Globe” meets global Intifada.

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WATCH THIS: Why we say ‘no’ to Habima at the Globe: Miriam Margolyes

Palestine solidarity movement on the defensive as AGM votes for zionist formulations

1 March 2012

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s AGM last month resulted in what can only be described as a significant step back for the British anti-imperialist movement and a significant victory for zionism.

The meeting voted to endorse a paragraph that the PSC executive had recently added to the campaign website stating that “Any expression of racism or intolerance, or attempts to deny or minimise the Holocaust have no place in our movement. Such sentiments are abhorrent in their own right and can only detract from the building of a strong movement in support of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.” (My emphasis)

That is, they voted to give the PSC’s executive the ability to discipline and expel sincere and useful solidarity activists for committing a ‘crime’ that exists only in the zionist imagination – the crime of ‘minimising the holocaust’. And, whether they realised it or not, they simultaneously voted to endorse the zionist conflation of two terms that have no actual connection: racism and holocaust denial/‘holocaust minimising’.

Not that this is all that surprising in a country where ordinary people are so totally saturated with and generally accepting of imperialist propaganda. Even the fact that the PSC statement referred simply to ‘the holocaust’ rather than ‘the jewish holocaust’ shows how in thrall its writers are to the prevailing imperialist and zionist rhetoric, even if only subconsciously.

We are all ‘holocaust minimisers’

Speaking for the CPGB-ML, I proposed an amendment to the executive’s motion on anti-semitism that asked the campaign to keep to its primary focus of carrying out “effective work in solidarity with Palestine, against zionism and imperialism”. During my speech from the floor I emphasised the point that the more effective and influential the Palestine solidarity movement becomes, the more vociferously it can expect to be attacked by Israel’s supporters – which inevitably means being accused of ‘anti-semitism’ by hysterical zionist campaigners.

As if to prove the point that ‘holocaust minimising’ is a crime that anyone can be accused of, I found the trick being used against me by PSC Secretary Ben Soffa, who managed to twist my words with impressive sophistry. I had pointed out that those who ask any kind of question about the Nazi holocaust, or who challenge any of Israel’s founding myths, are all labelled ‘holocaust deniers’, ‘anti-semites’ and ‘racists’ by the zionist lobby. According to Ben, however, what I’d said was that the jewish holocaust was a myth!

Not only was this an unnecessarily hostile response to what was actually a fairly innocuous amendment, it was also a very underhand trick to play given that I was given no opportunity to reply. No doubt my expulsion is being prepared as we speak …

To underline the point, the meeting also voted to expel an activist from Brighton on the basis that he was deemed to be a holocaust denier and therefore ‘anti-semitic’. Just as in my local branch’s discussions, the case for the prosecution at the AGM focused not on why the accused member’s views meant he could not be useful as a PSC activist, but on whether those present agreed with him or not; whether they found his alleged views personally acceptable.

It’s a clever sleight-of-hand, but an important one for those interested in building a broad-based mass movement for Palestine. I suppose at this point I have to say (again) that I have no interest in denying the truth or the horror of the Nazi crimes against the jews of Europe. But whether I do or not is NOT the business of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Those who try to make it our business should simply be asked, firmly but politely, to take their discussions elsewhere.

Mass movement or liberal charity?

As far as I can see, the only points we all need to agree on are that the Palestinians have the right to decide what their minimum programme should be, as well as to chose their own leadership and their own forms of struggle, and that British people should be mobilised to support the just Palestinian struggle for self-determination and to stop Britain’s participation in and backing for the criminal zionist project. Insisting on further points of agreement does not serve this agenda; it does not help Palestine.

What was especially tragic about the antics at the AGM was the way that the timetable for the day was manipulated so that discussion of these diversionary non-issues took up most of the available debating time – to such an extent that several important motions were dropped off the day’s order paper. Almost all of those wishing to oppose the leadership’s agenda were stopped from speaking by the chair, while speaker after filibustering speaker was invited to come to the mic to endorse the leadership’s position and waste what little debating time was available.

Even these speakers, antagonistic as they were to our party’s agenda, had to concede our main points: that the jewish holocaust was not the unique event that zionist propaganda portrays it as being, but one of an ongoing string of catastrophic industrial-scale massacres that have been a hallmark of the imperialist system since it arrived on the scene over a century ago; and that it is the system of imperialism that we must fight if we are serious about supporting Palestine.

Comrade Harpal Brar received extremely warm applause in the hall when he made these points, pointing out the absurdity of obsessing over one of imperialism’s holocausts to the exclusion of all others. Indeed, the jewish holocaust made up just one small part of the gigantic holocausts that were the two world wars of the 20th century, perpetrated by the imperialists in order to save their rotten system at the expense of 100 million lives.

The jewish holocaust, he said, was not the murder of one race by another race but the murder of human beings by imperialism. Similarly, Israel itself is not a jewish project, despite its window dressing, but an imperialist project aimed at controlling the vital resources of the Middle East. Far from being the defender of jews that it claims to be, Israel does untold damage to the interests of jewish workers, just as it does to those of Arabs and, indeed, to those of workers all over the world.

The power of the unions

Many of the activists present were seriously disgruntled about the lack of time dedicated to discussing the campaign’s real plan for action in support of Palestine, feeling that the day had been given over to a zionist-inspired witch hunt, whose only motivation seemed to be that of keeping the PSC ‘respectable’ in the eyes of its establishment patrons. Many also found it worrying that so few actual Palestinians were present – either on the day or in the organisation generally.

One telling tactic that was used during the debate was the threat of disaffiliation by the campaign’s big union backers. What would Unite do, we were asked, if they got wind of even a hint that the PSC was being accused of anti-semitism? Drop us like a hot potato, of course, came the unspoken response. And so the debate, what little of it there was, died. After all, we don’t want to lose our connection with all those organised workers, do we?

The affiliation of major unions like Unite to the PSC in recent years has been hailed as a major breakthrough in the campaign’s progress; proof that we are becoming ‘mainstream’. The outcome of such affiliations, however, has not been quite what the more optimistic of us might have expected.

Instead of harnessing the collective power of Unite’s 1.5 million members in active solidarity with Palestine, the PSC has merely been given an opportunity to distribute postcards to union members aimed at persuading them to boycott settlement goods when making their weekly supermarket shop. But while moving a few people (or even a few thousand people) to make individual consumer choices may reflect a certain level of awareness and sympathy amongst the British population generally, it is no substitute for mobilising them for collective action; and not much threat to Israel either, if taken no further.

How much more effective would it be if Unite organised its lorry drivers to refuse to handle the goods to start with? Or if Usdaw backed its shop workers in refusing to put Israeli goods on the shelves? Or if the RMT organised members engaged in transporting freight by rail and sea to refuse to handle goods or weapons coming from or going to Israel? Or if the NUJ’s journalists stopped regurgitating zionist lies in Britain’s mainstream media?

Far from harnessing the power of Unite’s workers in support of Palestinian liberation, the affiliation has instead brought the power of Unite’s Labour-affiliated leaders into the PSC, where it is being used to crush any chance of organising the type of really effective Palestine solidarity work that might actually help Palestine by harming Israel – because in the process it would also damage British corporate interests.

And so the campaign’s new mantra seems to be: ‘What would Unite think?’ – which might as well be ‘What would the Labour party think?’ or (to take it to its logical conclusion) ‘What would Lord Sainsbury think?’

Dockers and activists stop the unloading of an Israeli ship in San Francisco, June 2010

Dockers and activists stop the unloading of an Israeli ship in San Francisco, June 2010

Non-cooperation off the agenda

Not that anybody present seemed to notice it, but the point about what kind of solidarity action is most useful was nicely underlined in the keynote speech of the day, given by Comrade Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Having flattered the activists present by making the rather surprising assertion that the British PSC was the best solidarity organisation in the world, Comrade Omar pointed out that the most effective form of boycott was the type delivered by dockers who refused to unload a ship bringing Israeli goods to South Africa in February 2009 – an action which he said had absolutely terrified the zionists and their imperialist masters. (Tellingly, the reference to the South African dockers’ action has been omitted from the edited version of Omar’s speech published on the PSC website.)

Which brings us back to those critical undebated motions. The last item on the day’s agenda was the CPGB-ML’s motion on non-cooperation, which called on the PSC to mobilise British workers to follow the brave example of their South African counterparts.

In particular, it called for “Building support within individual unions and at the TUC for motions that draw attention to the complicity of Britain’s government and corporations in Israeli war crimes, and that also call on workers to refuse to cooperate in their commission (eg, by making or moving munitions or other equipment, by writing or broadcasting propaganda, or helping in any other way to smooth the path of Israel’s war machine).

Yet although the PSC’s leaders seemed perfectly happy to applaud such actions being taken elsewhere, they were clearly determined to avoid even a discussion about replicating them here in Britain. Having made sure the motion’s contents wouldn’t be debated at the AGM, the executive has quietly dropped all mention of the motion in its online summation of the meeting.

In fact, during the whole course of the day, the only mention of non-cooperation outside of Omar’s South Africa reference came when, as a candidate for election to the EC, I used my single minute of mic time to address a plea for action to the assembled delegates

If elected, I told them, I would focus my energies on organising and coordinating active non-cooperation work. In particular, as a media worker myself, I offered to work with other media worker members in PSC to get resolutions to the Bectu and NUJ conferences on the subject of non-cooperation with Israeli war crimes.

I emphasised the need to recognise the crucial role the media plays in supporting the zionist narrative and obliterating the Palestinian one, and reminded the activists of the Nuremberg rulings, which made it clear that propagating in favour of illegal wars and occupations is a war crime. That being so, I told them, it is vital that our media unions start to take a stand and protect their members from such involvement.

Interestingly, although I clearly wasn’t on the executive’s pre-approved list, and therefore had very little chance of being elected, this message was not so unpopular with the delegates as the leadership might have hoped. I received 119 votes (around 50 less than was needed to be elected).

The issue of active non-cooperation goes right to the very heart of what ‘solidarity’ actually means, bringing to workers’ attention the very real power that they have to change things when they act collectively.

It is understandable that the imperialists don’t want us to talk about this. Understandable, too, that the bought-and-paid-for labour aristocrats of the TUC and the Labour party should prefer to crush all such discussion, harmful as it is to the imperialist interests that they ultimately serve.

What is neither understandable nor forgivable is that the leadership of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign should be so averse to giving workers this message. Yet such is clearly the case. Every tactic continues to be used within the campaign to supress and sideline discussion on this vital aspect of our work, while those who do bring up the subject are treated as pariahs and portrayed as a hostile presence in the organisation.

The one vote that didn’t go the executive’s way was over a proposed constitutional amendment that aimed to expedite the process for expelling activists by removing their right to appeal to an AGM. Clearly, the tenor of the day’s debate had awoken a significant section of the delegates to the possibility that the proposed changes might not be inspired by benign motivations, so that the necessary two-thirds majority was not achieved.

Meanwhile, if anyone doubts that it is Labour and not we communists who are the real threat to the building of an effective mass movement for Palestine solidarity in Britain, perhaps they should think about the recent all-expenses-paid trip to Israel taken by a delegation of bright young Labour hopefuls, all in leadership positions within Labour’s youth and student organisations. Paid for by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), a frontline defender of the zionist state in Britain, the delegates were schmoozed by Israeli war criminals such as army spokesman Captain Barak Raz and Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev, as well as by Britain’s own arch-war criminal (sorry, ‘peace envoy’) Tony Blair.

Since Labour has given ample proof of its willingness to commit any crime in the cause of protecting British imperialist interests, it is hardly surprising that the party and its leaders continue to be committed backers of fascist Israel and defenders of its racist zionist ideology. What is surprising is that those who want to go against imperialist interests by supporting the Palestinian struggle for self-determination should allow their campaign to be misled by people who are tangled in a web of personal connections and political affiliations to that self-same warmongering, zionist-backing organisation.

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