Thursday, August 17, 2006

Israel and Gaza

If you want to know what it is like to live in Gaza now that Israel has supposedly given it back to the Palestinians, you need to read this.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The latest UK `terror' plot

This week the British media have been full of the terror plot that `Dr' John Reid, UK Home Secretary, claims to have just foiled. The facts that we know for sure are very limited. The Independent set them out today:

1) 23 Muslims, aged between 17 and 35, are being questioned by police about an alleged plot to blow up airliners flying between the UK and USA. They come from Birmingham, High Wycombe and Walthamstow.

2) Pakistani police have arrested several men accused of being linked to the alleged plot.

3) Britain's official `threat level' was raised to critical early on Thursday morning.

4) John Reid is in control of the Government response via his chairing of the Cobra civil contingencies committee.

5) Stringent new security checks have proved extremely disruptive in UK airports.

I would add another fact that The Independent did not state.

6) The Government and police have form in hyping the terrorist threat for their own political ends.

Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, has given us his conclusions as to what is happening -

In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is
deeply political. This is more propaganda than plot. Of the over one thousand
British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only twelve per cent
are ever charged with anything. That is simply harrassment of Muslims on an
appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few -
just over two per cent of arrests - who are convicted, are not convicted of
anything to do terrorism, but of some minor offence the Police happened upon
while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered.

I highly recommend reading the whole piece, which is very instructive. For now though, I will leave you with his concluding remarks -

Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

How Israel treats the Palestinians

`Today, August 11, the Israeli army and Border Police brutally prevented Bil’in’s weekly non-violent demonstration, by firing rubber bullets and sound grenades on protestors as they marched through the village on their way to the Apartheid wall. Fourteen people from Bil’in, Israelis and internationals, have been injured, including an Israeli in critical condition who was shot on neck and just above his right ear with 3 rubber bullets at close range. He has had surgery at Tel Hashomer hospital to remove a rubber bullet that was lodged in his skull. Currently he is in a medical induced coma in moderate but stable condition, but has sustained brain damaged of unknown severity.

Another demonstrator from Denmark, Rina, has suffered a fracture in her skull and brain contusion after a soldier beat her with the butt of his gun. She is currently hospitalized in Hebron, West Bank and is conscious but unable to walk. She was also beaten on her legs and sustained minor injuries.'

More here.

International Tribunal on Israeli War Crimes

`We, the undersigned, demand that The United Nations General Assembly immediately establish an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) as a ‘subsidiary organ’ under U.N. Charter Article 22 to prosecute the Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Peretz, Chief of Staff Halutz and Israel’s other top generals and war criminals for their infliction of international war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Peoples of Lebanon and Palestine.'

You can sign it here.

UPDATE: There is a a partial list of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israel's war crimes in Lebanon - who started it anyway?

Many Western commentators have criticised or condemned Israel's current war crimes in Lebanon. Even Foreign Minister Kim `weasel words' Howells attacked Israel for targetting Lebanese people and infrastructure in its campaign against Hezbollah (until he got to Israel the next day, when he changed his emphasis. What a coward).

However, these same Western commentators are even more unified in their condemnation of Hezbollah for starting the trouble by `kidnapping' two Israeli soldiers. It should come as no surprise that the truth is somewhat different. Joshua Frank at has researched the original reports from Western news sources such as MSNBC, as well as independent reports. What has he discovered?

`These sources contend that Israel sent a commando force into southern
Lebanon and was subsequently attacked by Hezbollah near the village of Aitaa
al-Chaab, well inside Lebanon's southern territory. It was at this point that an
Israel tank was struck by Hezbollah fighters, which resulted in the capture of
two Israeli soldiers and the death of six.

As the
reported, "According to the Lebanese police force, the two Israeli soldiers were
captured in Lebanese territory, in the area of Aitaa al-Chaab, near to the
border with Israel, where an Israeli unit had penetrated in middle of morning."
And the French news site
reiterated the same account on June 18, "In a deliberated way, [Israel] sent a
commando in the Lebanese back-country to Aitaa al-Chaab. It was attacked by
Hezbollah, taking two prisoners."

The Associated
departed from the official version as well. "The militant
group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across
the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift reaction from Israel, which
sent ground forces into its neighbor to look for them," reported Joseph
Panossian for AP on July 12. "The forces were trying to keep the soldiers'
captors from moving them deeper into Lebanon, Israeli government officials said
on condition of anonymity."'

Surprise, surprise. The Israeli soldiers were not `kidnapped' in Israel. They were captured in Lebanon. Israel bears 100% responsibility - not only for its war crimes in Lebanon, but also for how it began. Once again Western journalists have proved to be spineless accomplices in the dissemination of Israeli propaganda.

UPDATE 26.7.06.: Further to Hezbollah allegedly `starting' the current crisis. It seems they have violated the Blue Line on the Israeli-Lebanese border 100 times. How many times has Israel violated it - 11,782. (Info from UN Observers, quoted by Lebanese Speaker of Parliament in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV).

Monday, July 24, 2006

MEPs and Palestine

I still haven't had any reply from Baroness Ludford (Lib Dem) to my letter of June 13th about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. The Baroness is one of nine London MEPs. However, I see from her newsletter that she has raised the issue of Israeli jets deliberately provoking anxiety through low-level sonic booms over Gaza. She reports thus:

London's Liberal Democrat Euro-MP and peer Baroness Sarah Ludford, a
member of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, this week asked the government during exchanges in the House of Lords to urge Israel to stop creating sonic booms over the Palestinian territories. Since the withdrawal of Israeli
settlers from Gaza in September 2005, the Israeli air force has reportedly been
using jets to break the sound barrier at low altitude over Gaza, thereby causing
sonic booms.

Sarah Ludford, who afterwards expressed disappointment that her
December 2005 letter to the Israeli ambassador on this topic had remained
unanswered, commented:

"My protest lies in the indiscriminate nature of this practice. I do
strongly support Israel's right to take legitimate action to protect its
security, but the damage caused by the sonic booms appears to be designed to
intimidate, in other words collective punishment which cannot be morally

"The UN's demand for an end to this practice points out that amongst
children sonic booms can cause anxiety, bedwetting, muscle spasms, temporary
loss of hearing and breathing difficulties. It is wrong for Israel to inflict
this suffering if the military justification present in other Israeli Defence
Force actions is here absent."

It is interesting to note that the Baroness's letter to the Israeli ambassador has been totally ignored. And this despite the fact that she is a member of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel! It just shows the contempt the Israeli authorities have for any criticism at all, however mild, and whoever it is from. Israel demands the right to `self-defence'. However, this self-defence is the right to commit war crimes against anyone, anywhere as they so choose; and to totally ignore any criticism from any source.

Baroness Ludford needs to take a long hard look at her attitude to Israel. Yes, it is good that she has raised this matter. No, it is not good that she appears to be turning a blind eye to all the other war crimes the Israelis are committing against the Palestinians.

You can write to your MEPs here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Walthamstow MP Watch: Middle East crisis 2

On the 18th July I wrote to Neil Gerrard, Labour MP for Walthamstow, to ask him if he could in any way bring pressure to bear to stop the Israeli government's current war crimes in Lebanon. I am pleased to say that I have already received a letter in reply. In it he sets out his opposition to Israeli actions, and details a House of Commons motion on the issue. Here is the letter:

You can write to your political representatives via .

MEPs reply on Israel and Lebanon

On the 14th July I wrote to 8 of the 9 London MEPs (excluding the UKIP MEP because he won't do anything). I have now had two replies. This is the letter from John Bowis (Con):

I was pleasantly surprised that he agreed that Israel must be restrained, and that aid should not be cut to the Palestinians. I expected a harder line response from a Conservative MEP. That was to come from Dr Charles Tannock, another Conservative MEP. He e-mailed me as follows:

Opinions are, of course, divided on this controversial issue and I
support the G8 position as well as the EU Council declaration. The
responsibility for the tragic killing on the Gaza beach remains disputed, as
according to admittedly Israeli sources the ordnance used was not theirs.

Furthermore, it is clear that Israel having withdrawn from Gaza and south
Lebanon in what was supposed to be a land for peace deal has instead found this
territory to be rapidly filled by terrorists committed to the total destruction
of the state of Israel and not the two-state solution agreed in Oslo in

Therefore, I believe Israel was provoked deliberately and although I call
for restraint and dialogue within international law, I accept Israel's right to
self-defence and retaliation against terrorist strongholds. I have
nevertheless questioned the Israeli Ambassador to the EU as to why in Gaza
civilian infrastructure was targeted such as water supplies for which there was
no justification and therefore I condemn this particular act as

Nevertheless, until Israel can live peaceably within its borders there is
no hope for the 2003 roadmap for peace under the Quartet and I hope that the
recent escalation of Israeli military action will secure the release of Israeli
soldiers and stop rockets being fired on Israeli territory at civilian targets,
as otherwise there are no prospects for a durable peace in the region. I
also believe that Iran and Syria have been connected directly with this
provocation as a distraction from their own disputes with the international
community. I also call upon Lebanon to implement UNSCR 1559 and disarm
Hezbollah as previously directed.


Dr. Charles Tannock MEP

I felt there was a great deal to disagree with here, so I responded as follows:

Dear Dr Tannock,

Thank you very much for your thoughtful
reply to my e-mail. I appreciate you taking the time and trouble to reply to an
individual constituent such as myself. I am heartened to hear that have tackled
the Israeli Ambassador to the EU on the question of the targeting of civilian
infrastructure in Gaza. Would you permit me to briefly respond to some of the
points that you have made?

Firstly, Israel's denials of
responsibility for the killings on Gaza beach are not credible. The Independent
reported (`Revealed: the shrapnel evidence that points to Israel's guilt) on 14
June that a former Pentagon battle damage expert, Marc Garlasco, said "All the
evidence points" to a 155mm Israeli land-based artillery shell as being
responsible. There is much more detail in the article which I will not repeat

Secondly, Israel's withdrawal from Gaza was unilateral, and
not part of any `land for peace deal'. As I am sure you are aware, Israel always
refuses to negotiate with the Palestinians on the grounds that there is no
partner for peace. The plain fact is that Israel does not want a partner for
peace. It simply wishes to impose its own designs unilaterally, in which it is
nearly always aided and supported by western politicians, who have a great deal
to answer for.

You say Gaza was `rapidly filled by
terrorists'. Are you calling the entire Palestinian population terrorists? That
seems to me to be a very extreme comment. Terrorism is often defined as the use
of violence for political ends. It seems very strange how the Palestinians, or
anyone who supports them, seem to be almost uniquely singled out for
this description, and how this is used as a term of abuse i.e. terrorists equal
people who can never be acknowledged or negotiated with. This flies entirely in
the face of history - especially that of the British Empire. Those who used
violence to oppose colonial rule (just as the rulers used violence to
maintain that rule) often became respected statesmen after independence had
been achieved, and established good diplomatic relations. Israel itself was
established through an extensive campaign of terrorism and violence, some of it
against British troops, as I am sure you are very well

Israel has since maintained its rule through extensive use
of state terror. Western politicians are very quick to condemn Palestinian
suicide bombings (which I should make clear I do not support). But the Israelis
have murdered many more Palestinian civilians than the Palestinian `terrorists'
have Israel civilians. How often are those killings condemned, or even
acknowledged? The Palestinians held free democratic elections and elected Hamas.
Western governments then disgracefully supported Israel's attempts to starve the
Palestinians into submission for having the temerity to elect the `wrong'

You refer to the two-state solution. Whatever the
Israelis may say to placate their supporters in the west, they have no intention
of accepting any such solution. They are still stealing Palestinian land through
their `security wall' with the intention of limiting the Palestinians to a few
disconnected `bantustans' which will never be able to cohere into a state.
Western governments have shamefully colluded in this. The ever more desperate
situation of the Palestinians is a running sore on the face of the world,
and all western politicians will do is blame them for their own situation,
collude with every Israeli act of violence against them, and then wonder why
terrorism is increasing. It is increasing out of desperation.

only way to put a stop to this appalling situation is a one-state solution.
Israel/Palestine must be a democratic nation where Jew and Arab are equal
and can live in peace. Everything Israel does is designed to prevent this from
happening. Everything western governments do colludes with this. But there
is no other way.

Thank you for your time.



Middle East Crisis: what can we do?

I suggest that the most important thing we can do is go on the demonstrations on Saturday 22nd July. The main one is in London, but there are others in Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Sheffield, and York.

But I also think it's worth writing to your MP and MEP. It's very easy. Just go to, and as long as you know your own postcode all the details are provided for you. This is the letter I wrote to 8 of the 9 London MEPs (I didn't bother with the UKIP MEP because he won't do anything) on July 14th:

Dear MEP,

I write to you as one of your London constituents. Given the very grave
events currently taking place in the Middle East, I am writing to you to ask you
to use your influence as an MEP to persuade the European Union to take a
constructive role in reversing Israel's actions against its

Up to now the EU has simply seemed to tail the USA in
their quite appalling encouragement of Israel's state terrorism against the
Palestinians. It is vital that the EU plays a more independent role now that
Israel has once again invaded the Lebanon. The EU must call for -

the total withdrawal by Israel of all military forces from the Lebanon
- the
ending of the aerial and naval blockade of the Lebanon
- no recurrence of
these attacks
- an end to the blockade of Gaza, and the withholding of
Palestinian revenues

Anything less will do nothing to reduce
the danger of a wider war, and may only increase it.

Thank you for
your time.

Yours sincerely,


Also, write letters to newspapers. This is my letter to my local newspaper:

Dear Editor,

Walthamstow MP Neil Gerrard made an excellent contribution to a recent
debate in Parliament on the tragic situation in the Middle East.

He said, `No one in this House in any way supports kidnapping or the
firing of rockets into Israel, but...collective punishment is clearly against
international law and has been
regularly and routinely used by Israel over
the years. It is being used again now in Lebanon'.

The Israelis are bombing Lebanon into dust, and have killed over 300
civilians. This has nothing to do with `stopping terrorism'. These are war
crimes against the Lebanese people.
Unfortunately, the British government has
joined the USA in refusing to call for a ceasefire. President Bush only has to
shout `Yo Blair', and Tony comes running like an obedient puppydog for his

If you think our government should be doing everything it can to help
find a peaceful solution, you can do something about it. For a start you can
contact your MP. It is very easy to send an email via . You
only need to know your own postcode.
You can also contact your MEPs about the
European Union's attitude in the same way. I have had some good correspondence
with some of London's 9 MEPs in this way.

Please raise your voice to force the government to take

Yours sincerely,


BBC News - written in Tel Aviv

It is quite astonishing just how brazen the BBC are in reproducing Israeli propaganda about what Israeli forces are doing in Lebanon.

Dear BBC,

Why is a news service funded by the British licence-fee payer
broadcasting Israeli propaganda about the events in the Lebanon, instead of at
least attempting to report even-handedly?
In today's lunchtime news,
newsreader Sophie Raeworth (I think that's her name) told us that `Israel has
bombed more Hezbollah targets' in the Lebanon.

This is pure Israeli propaganda. The Israelis have bombed roads,
airports, factories, housing and just about everything else. Are all these
`Hezbollah targets'? It is quite disgraceful that a British TV news service is
swallowing and regurgitating blatant propaganda.

If you continue to do this - which no doubt you will - you will forfeit
any right to be funded by the licence fee. You are not entitled to my
licence-fee to produce propaganda for Israel - or anyone else for that matter.

If you can't do the job properly, don't bother doing it at



That was the lunchtime news. I didn't see the six o'clock news. But, lo and behold, at ten o'clock:

Dear BBC,

I have already complained about Sophie Raeworth on the lunchtime news
stating that Israel `had bombed more Hezbollah targets' in Lebanon. Now Fiona
Bruce, summing up the headlines at the end of the News at Ten, said that Israel
`had bombed more Hezbollah targets in Beirut'.

This is absolutely
scandalous. Israel has bombed just about everything in the Lebanon - factories,
airports, housing - anything and everything. Just what is it about these things
that makes them `Hezbollah targets', and just how has the BBC independently
verified this is the case? Quite obviously most of these places have nothing to
do with Hezbollah, and the BBC has verifed nothing independently.

You have simply taken Israeli state propaganda, swallowed it
whole, then vomited it out over the British population. I will ask you again.
Why is a British TV news service, funded by British licence-fee payers,
producing propaganda for the state of Israel? Just what do you think you are
doing? If you continue along this road of producing propaganda you will no
longer be entitled to funding from the licence-fee. Why don't you be honest and
get your funding from Washington and Tel Aviv? You are a disgrace.



I think we need a campaign to remove the licence-fee from BBC News, or just to cancel it altogether and let the BBC collapse. I am tired of being lied to. You can tell the BBC what you think here.