#BentBritain: #UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications!

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications ~ and , The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2015.

Intelligence agencies have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for past five years, government admits

Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al Saadi
The admission comes ahead of a legal challenge brought on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, over allegations that security services unlawfully intercepted their communications with lawyers.  Photograph: PA & AFP

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

The admission that the regime surrounding state snooping on legally privileged communications has also failed to comply with the European convention on human rights comes in advance of a legal challenge, to be heard early next month, in which the security services are alleged to have unlawfully intercepted conversations between lawyers and their clients to provide the government with an advantage in court.

The case is due to be heard before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). It is being brought by lawyers on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, who, along with their families, were abducted in a joint MI6-CIA operation and sent back to Tripoli to be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2004.

A government spokesman said: “The concession the government has made today relates to the agencies’ policies and procedures governing the handling of legally privileged communications and whether they are compatible with the European convention on human rights.

“In view of recent IPT judgments, we acknowledge that the policies adopted since [January] 2010 have not fully met the requirements of the ECHR, specifically article 8 (right to privacy). This includes a requirement that safeguards are made sufficiently public.

“It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on their part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligations to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously. Nor does it mean that any of the agencies’ activities have prejudiced or in any way resulted in an abuse of process in any civil or criminal proceedings.”

He said that the intelligence agencies would now work with the interception of communications commissioner to ensure their policies satisfy all of the UK’s human rights obligations.

Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve and one of the Belhaj family’s lawyers said: “By allowing the intelligence agencies free reign to spy on communications between lawyers and their clients, the government has endangered the fundamental British right to a fair trial.

“Reprieve has been warning for months that the security services’ policies on lawyer-client snooping have been shot through with loopholes big enough to drive a bus through.

“For too long, the security services have been allowed to snoop on those bringing cases against them when they speak to their lawyers. In doing so, they have violated a right that is centuries old in British common law. Today they have finally admitted they have been acting unlawfully for years.

“Worryingly, it looks very much like they have collected the private lawyer-client communications of two victims of rendition and torture, and possibly misused them. While the government says there was no ‘deliberate’ collection of material, it’s abundantly clear that private material was collected and may well have been passed on to lawyers or ministers involved in the civil case brought by Abdel hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, who were ‘rendered’ to Libya in 2004 by British intelligence.

“Only time will tell how badly their case was tainted. But right now, the government needs urgently to investigate how things went wrong and come clean about what it is doing to repair the damage.”

Government sources, in line with all such cases, refuse to confirm or deny whether the two Libyans were the subject of an interception operation. They insist the concession does not concern the allegation that actual interception took place and say it will be for the investigatory powers tribunal hearing to determine the issue.

An updated draft interception code of practice spelling out the the rules for the first time was quietly published at the same time as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruling against GCHQ earlier this month in the case brought by Privacy International and Liberty.

The government spokesman said the draft code set out enhanced safeguards and provided more detail than previously on the protections that had to be applied in the security agencies handling of legally privileged communications.

The draft code makes clear that warrants for snooping on legally privileged conversations, emails and other communications between suspects and their lawyers can be granted if there are exceptional and compelling circumstances. They have to however ensure that they are not available to lawyers or policy officials who are conducting legal cases against those suspects.

Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under UK law. Following exposure of widespread monitoring by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, Belhaj’s lawyers feared that their exchanges with their clients could have been compromised by GCHQ’s interception of phone conversations and emails.

To demonstrate that its policies satisfy legal safeguards, MI6 were required in advance of Wednesday’s concession to disclose internal guidance on how intelligence staff should deal with material protected by legal professional privilege.

The MI6 papers noted: “Undertaking interception in such circumstances would be extremely rare and would require strong justification and robust safeguards. It is essential that such intercepted material is not acquired or used for the purpose of conferring an unfair or improper advantage on SIS or HMG [Her Majesty’s government] in any such litigation, legal proceedings or criminal investigation.”

The internal documents also refer to a visit by the interception commissioner, Sir Anthony May, last summer to examine interception warrants, where it was discovered that regulations were not being observed. “In relation to one of the warrants,” the document explained, “the commissioner identified a number of concerns with regard to the handling of [legal professional privilege] material”.

Amnesty UK’s legal programme director, Rachel Logan, said: “We are talking about nothing less than the violation of a fundamental principle of the rule of law – that communications between a lawyer and their client must be confidential.

“The government has been caught red-handed. The security agencies have been illegally intercepting privileged material and are continuing to do so – this could mean they’ve been spying on the very people challenging them in court.

“This is the second time in as many weeks that government spies have been rumbled breaking the law.”


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#Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the #West’s modern crimes!

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes ~ Ben White, The Nation, February 14, 2015.

Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.

Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him.

Three weeks ago, a CIA drone operating over Yemen fired a missile at a car carrying the teenager, and two others. They were all incinerated. Nor was Mohammed the first in his family to be targeted: drones had already killed his father and brother.

Since president Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has killed at least 2,464 people through drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones. The figure is courtesy of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which says that at least 314 of the dead, one in seven, were civilians.

Recall that for Obama, as The New York Times reported in May 2012, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are counted “as combatants” – unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”.

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

The week after Mohammed’s death, on February 5, Mr Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast, and discussed the violence of ISIL.

“Lest we get on our high horses”, said the commander-in-chief, “remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

These comments prompted a (brief) media storm, with Mr Obama accused of insulting Christians, pandering to the terrorist enemy, or just bad history.

In fact, the president was simply repeating a point often made by liberals since September 11, namely, that all religions have blots on their copy book through the deeds of their followers.

One of the consequences, however, of this invocation of the Crusades – unintended, and all the more significant for it – is to seal away the West’s “sins”, particularly vis-à-vis its relationship to the Middle East, in events that took place a thousand years ago.

The Crusades were, in one sense, a demonstration of raw military power, and a collective trauma for the peoples of the regions they marched through and invaded.

In the siege of Jerusalem in 1099, a witness described how the Europeans ordered “all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses”.

He added: “No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids.”

Or take the Third Crusade, when, on August 20, 1191, England’s King Richard I oversaw the beheading of 3,000 Muslim prisoners at Acre in full view of Saladin’s army.

Just “ancient history”? In 1920, when the French had besieged and captured Damascus, their commander Henri Gourard reportedly went to the grave of Saladin, kicked it, and uttered: “Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.”

But the US president need not cite the Crusades or even the colonial rule of the early 20th century: more relevant reference points would be Bagram and Fallujah.

Bagram base in Afghanistan is where US soldiers tortured prisoners to death – like 22-year-old taxi driver and farmer Dilawar. Before he was killed in custody, Dilawar was beaten by soldiers just to make him scream “Allah!”

Five months after September 11, The Guardian reported that US missiles had killed anywhere between 1,300 and 8,000 in Afghanistan. Months later, the paper suggested that “as many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the US intervention”.

When it was Iraq’s turn, the people of Fallujah discovered that US forces gave them funerals, not democracy. On April 28, 2003, US soldiers massacred civilian protesters, shooting to death 17 during a demonstration.

When that city revolted against the occupation, the residents paid a price. As Marines tried to quell resistance in the city, wrote The New York Times on April 14, 2004, they had “orders to shoot any male of military age on the streets after dark, armed or not”.Months later, as the Marines launched their November assault on the city, CNN reported that “the sky…seems to explode”.

In their bombardment and invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US and UK armed forces rained fiery death down on men, women and children. Prisoners were tortured and sexually abused. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. No one was held to account.

It is one thing to apologise for the brutality of western Crusaders a thousand years ago. It is quite another to look at the corpses of the victims of the imperialist present, or hear the screams of the bereaved.

In his excellent book The Muslims Are Coming, Arun Kundnani analysed the “politics of anti-extremism”, and describes the two approaches developed by policymakers and analysts during the “war on terror”.

The first approach, which he refers to as “culturalism”, emphasises “what adherents regard as inherent features of Islamic culture”. The second approach, “reformism”, is when “extremism is viewed as a perversion of Islam’s message”, rather than “a clash of civilisations between the West’s modern values and Islam’s fanaticism”.

Thus the American Right was angry with Mr Obama, because for them, it is about religion – or specifically, Islam. Liberals, meanwhile, want to locate the problem in terms of culture.

Both want to avoid a discussion about imperialism, massacres, coups, brutalities, disappearances, dictatorships – in other words, politics.

As Kundnani writes: when “the concept of ideology” is made central, whether understood as “Islam itself or as Islamist extremism”, then “the role of western states in co-producing the terror war is obscured”.

The problem with Mr Obama’s comments on the Crusades was not, as hysterical conservatives claimed, that he was making offensive and inaccurate analogies with ISIL; rather, that in the comfort of condemning the past, he could mask the violence of his own government in the present.

The echoes of collective trauma remain for a long time, and especially when new wounds are still being inflicted. Think it is farfetched that Muslims would still care about a 1,000-year-old European invasion? Then try asking them about Guantanamo and Camp Bucca instead.

Ben White is a journalist and author of Israeli Apartheid

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes
Pep Montserrat for The National

| The Palestinian message to Israel: Deal with us justly. Or disappear!

The Palestinian message to Israel: Deal with us justly. Or disappear ~ Jeff Halper, Mondoweiss.

Until Operation Protective Edge, most of the “messaging” regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, certainly that which broke through the mainstream media, came from the Israeli side. Since Zionism’s official beginnings in Palestine some 110 years ago, the Jewish community, whether the pre-state Yishuv or constituted as the state of Israel, never took the Palestinians seriously. They were dark-skinned “natives” wrapped sinisterly in kafiyas, fedayeen or terrorists without names, history or humanity, an existential threat subsumed under the rubric “Arabs.” In 1967, when Israel finally came face to face with an organized, visible, politically aware Palestinian society, the idea of talking to them did not even occur to Israel’s leaders. They preferred to take what land and resources they wanted from the West Bank and “return” its Palestinian population to Jordan. (No one until this day in Israel has the faintest idea what to do with Gaza, except isolate it.) One Prime Minister, Golda Meir, even denied vociferously and derisively that a “Palestinian” people even existed. No Israeli government ever acknowledged the national rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination in their own country, even in a tiny, truncated state on parts of the Occupied Territory. In the brightest days of the Oslo “peace process,” all a Labor/Meretz government agreed to do was recognize the PLO as a negotiating partner. It never accepted the idea of a truly sovereign, viable Palestinian state, even if demilitarized and arising on but a fifth of historic Palestine.

To be sure, the Palestinian people resisted and, when possible, tried to negotiate. Their leadership was often weak, but we must remember that since 1948, when the nascent IDF went from village to village with ledgers containing the names of those who should be assassinated, until the attempted assassination of Muhammed Deif a few days ago, Israel has conducted a systematic campaign of eliminating by murder or imprisonment any Palestinian showing real or potential leadership. Fearful of giving any credit to Palestinian peace-making lest it undermine their own absolute claims by legitimizing a Palestinian “side,” Israelis forget and deride any Palestinian hand reaching out to them. Who remembers, for example, the moving words of Yasser Arafat at the (unsuccessful) conclusion of the Wye Plantation negotiations in 1998?  That’s when Netanyahu decided to stop agreed-upon Israeli withdrawals in the West Bank and his Foreign Minister Sharon publically called on the settlers to “grab every hilltop.” Nonetheless, in the concluding press conference, with nothing to gain and no prompting, Arafat said:

I am quite confident that I’m talking in the name of all Palestinians when I assure you that we are all committed to the security of every child, woman and man in Israel. I will do everything I can so that no Israeli mother will be worried if her son or daughter is late coming home, or any Israeli would be afraid when they heard an explosion.

The Palestinians’ messaging of peace, security and, yes, justice, was always buried under Israeli spin. At that very same Wye Plantation meeting, Sharon demonstrably refused to shake Arafat’s hand before the cameras. “Shake the hand of that dog?” he told reporters: “Never.” Mahmoud Abbas has gotten little better from Sharon or Netanyahu, despite repeated televised meetings with Israeli students, Knesset members or anyone else willing to listen to his pleas for peace, even at the price of giving up parts of East Jerusalem and some major settlement blocs. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority bear their share of the responsibility for this as well. For his own reasons Abbas has silenced his most articulate spokespeople, filled his Authority’s diplomatic posts for the most part with ineffective political hacks and makes it almost impossible for reporters to get information or responses – all in contrast to Israel’s vaunted hasbara and legions of professional spin-doctors. As a result, there has been little official Palestinian messaging at all. What has saved the day until now has been the efforts of civil society supporters of the Palestinian cause: the contributors to the Electronic Intifada, articulate Palestinian activists and academics on al Shabaka, events and actions initiated on campuses by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the myriad analysts, activists and organizations of the international civil society, including critical Israeli ones, not to forget the growing BDS movement.

That seemed to change suddenly when, on August 26th, Israel announced that it had accepted a permanent cease-fire with no pre-conditions, to be followed by a month of negotiations over issues of concern to Gazans – opening borders, reconstruction under international supervision, the rebuilding of the airport and seaport, ending restrictions on Palestinian fishing and on farming in the “buffer zone,” the reopening of the “safe passage” to the West Bank, release of prisoners and more. Hamas, who led the confrontation with Israel, was careful not to disconnect Gaza from the wider struggle for Palestinian national rights. It was Abbas who announced the cease-fire, not Khaled Mashal or Ismail Haniya, stressing that the struggle was a Palestinian one, not merely Gazan. In fact, although Netanyahu initiated Operation Protective Edge with an eye to destroying a Palestinian Unity Government of Fatah/Hamas, he ended up strengthening it. Hamas emerged the darling of the Palestinian people, as least as far as resistance goes. It was announced that Hamas and Islamic Jihad would be joining the PLO. And, in order to allow a kind of civil relationship with Egypt, Hamas lowered its pan-Islam Muslim Brotherhood profile in favor of its Palestinian one.

Still, the messaging belonged to Hamas, the ones who not only confront the Israeli Occupation but who have seized the political initiative from it. In stark contrast to Abbas, who has declared security cooperation with Israel to be “sacred” and who passively allows Israel to take effective control of Area C, the 62% of the West Bank where the settlements, the massive matrix of Israeli highways and the Separation Barrier spell the end of the two-state solution, Hamas has sent a clear and forceful message to Israel: We won’t submit even if you kill us. Deal with us justly – or disappear.

Yes, even in its moment of triumph – an Israeli commentator wryly noted on TV this week that “a Six Day War this will not be,” and polls show that 59% of Israelis do not believe Israel won – Hamas has left the door open to a two-state solution. Their position, as I understand it and as set out in the Prisoners’ National Conciliation Document of 2006, is nuanced but principled and coherent. Hamas and Jihad reject utterly the legitimacy of Israel, viewing it as a settler colonial state, and thus reject any negotiations with it or any subsequent recognition. That said, if other Palestinian parties (i.e. Fatah) enter into negotiations with Israel and the outcome is a total withdrawal from the Occupied Territory based on conditions that would allow a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian state to arise, and if such a outcome would be approved by a referendum of all Palestinians around the world, Hamas and Jihad would respect that as the voice of the Palestinian people. Thus, while still rejecting the legitimacy of Israel in principle, Hamas has agreed to join a Unity Government that accepts the two-state solution – enough for the Netanyahu government to try and break it apart. Hence Hamas’s post-Operation Protective Edge message to Israel: deal with us justly – or disappear. This is your last chance. The alternative to the two-state solution, which few Palestinians believe is still possible, and rightly so, is a single state. That’s a democratic state in the eyes of the Palestinian left, an Algeria-like situation in which the colonialists leave in the eyes of Hamas and Jihad.

This should give Israel pause, although ironically it is Israel that has eliminated the two-state solution and has left a single state – an apartheid one in the eyes of all Israeli governments, including Labor – as the only other option. Indeed, just last month Netanyahu said publicly: “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” For 110 years “practical Zionism” has believed it can beat the natives, that it can judaize Palestine and, with its metaphorical and physical Iron Walls, cause “the Arabs” to despair of the Land of Israel ever becoming Palestine.

Well, Israel has given it its best shot. After grabbing almost all the land, driving most of the Palestinians out, imprisoning and impoverishing them in tiny enclaves in both Israel and the Occupied Territory, after burying the Palestinian presence and patrimony under Israeli-only cities, towns, kibbutzim and national parks, after assassinating its leaders and leaving its youth with no hope of a future, it now brings the full force of one of the best-equipped militaries in the world against two million poor people living in an area the size of Mobile, Alabama. More than 2000 killed in Gaza, another 12,000 injured. Some 20,000 homes destroyed, 475,000 people displaced. Six billion dollars in damage to buildings and infrastructure. And for what? Israel may have finally discovered the limits of force and violence. After taking its best shots for more than a century – and, it is true, dealing the Palestinians devastating blows, as Netanyahu and the IDF proudly claim – Israel has gained one thing: an opportunity before it is too late to learn that the Palestinians cannot be beaten militarily, that Israel itself will never know security and normal life for all the “blows” it administers the Palestinians, as long as it maintains its Occupation. Indeed, for all its strength, it is liable to disappear if it doesn’t deal justly with the natives.

At least Abbas seems to have gotten the message. He now discards further pointless negotiations with Israel as brokered by the US, preferring to have the UN set a target date for Israeli withdrawal, and perhaps going to the International Criminal Court. Hamas is likely to prevent any backsliding on his part. Maybe Israel will never get the message, its hubris blinding it to tectonic shifts in the geopolitical landscape, especially among the people of the world. But the collapse is happening. Perhaps slower than in apartheid South Africa, the Soviet Union, the Shah’s Iran or Mubarak’s Egypt, but happening none the less. Having lost the power of deterrence, Israel will either have to deal justly with the Palestinians or, indeed, disappear.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Photo: AP) 

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| Release Marwan Barghouti; He can be Palestine’s Nelson Mandela!

Release Marwan Barghouti. He can be Palestine’s Nelson Mandela ~ theguardian.com.

If Israel really is serious about peace, it will release Bargouti – the one man uniquely placed to negotiate an agreement.

The death of Nelson Mandela reminds us that often the first step towards the resolution of a conflict is the release from prison of a national leader who has the authority to unite, negotiate and resolve.

Marwan Barghouti has been in jail since 15 April 2002 when Israeli security agents, posing as ambulance workers, seized him in broad daylight and took him to Israel. In 2004 he was convicted by an Israeli court of involvement in five murders, which he denies.

Despite nearly 12 years behind bars, Barghouti remains the most popular politician in Palestine, capable, according to recent polls, of beating either President Mahmoud Abbas or his Hamas rival Ismail Haniyeh for the presidency.

Many believe he could come out of prison, stand for election, win the presidency, unite the Palestinian factions, negotiate a settlement, put it to his people, win their support and then preside over a process of “truth and reconciliation” in a newly independent country.

With the final prisoner release linked to peace talks due to take place on Saturday, and the end of the talks themselves due a month later (on 29 April), this might just be the dramatic gesture that could save the negotiations from ending in total failure. Abbas has offered to prolong them a little, but only if Barghouti and 12 other MPs are released.

Even Shimon Peres, when he was running for the presidency of Israel, declared he would sign a pardon for Barghouti. In the event, the Knesset never approved his pardon because of the vehement opposition of ministers such as Silvan Shalom, who said: “It is out of the question to free an assassin who has blood on his hands and was duly sentenced by a court.”

Marwan Barghouti, a prominent leader of the Palestinian uprising, enters court

Photograph: Eitan Hess-Ashkenazi/AP

But if peace is ever to come, Israel will have to acknowledge that Barghouti was a political and not a military leader, that he never carried arms and that he always opposed actions targeting Israeli civilians, even while defending the right of Palestinians to resist.

An international campaign has been launched to free Barghouti and the 4,227 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. It is supported by every party in the Palestinian parliament, with Fatah and Hamas united for once, and by the overwhelming majority of Palestinians.

The campaign was launched in Mandela’s old prison cell by the veteran South African politician Ahmed Kathrada, who started the first Release Mandela campaign back in the 1960s and was then jailed himself and spent 18 years on Robben Island with Mandela.

He will be in London next week to urge British MPs to sign the “Robben Island declaration” in support of Palestinian prisoners, alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Taoiseach John Bruton, Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire, political activist Angela Davis and many others.

For British politicians it should be easy to grasp the essential argument for his release. It is not on the basis that he is innocent (though he may be), or that his arrest was illegal (it almost certainly was), but because he is uniquely well placed to negotiate a peace agreement.

Britain jailed Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in 1942, but they released Nehru in 1944 and two years later he was negotiating Indian independence. He became the first prime minister of an independent India in 1947.

In Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta was put in prison by the British in 1952 and released in 1961. One year later the British were negotiating independence with him and in 1963 he became prime minister of an independent Kenya.

In South Africa, Mandela was released from jail in 1990 and within months was negotiating independence with his captors. It took just four years from prison cell to president’s palace and the hope is that Barghouti, now 54, can do the same.

Between August 2013, a month after the talks started, and February this year, 34 Palestinians have been killed and 1,535 injured (in the same period there have been three Israeli deaths and 53 injuries). Meanwhile, 10,509 housing units on illegal settlements have been approved by the Israeli authorities. Is there any wonder the Palestinians don’t want to continue the “peace” talks?

As the 29 April deadline approaches, it would take a really bold initiative by the Israelis to prove they are interested in peace. If they release Barghouti the world will recognise that they are serious. If they refuse, many will conclude they are not.

MarwanBarghouti1  “I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel, our future neighbor, I reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli occupation of my country and to fight for my freedom” and has said, “I still seek peaceful coexistence between the equal and independent countries of Israel and Palestine based on full withdrawal from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.” ~ Marwan Barghouti (16 January 2002). “Want Security? End the Occupation”The Washington Post.

 

| FREE Marwan Barghouti: Palestine’s Mandela!

Where is Palestine’s Mandela? ~ Alan Hart, www.alanhart.net. The answer to my headline question is that he, Marwan Barghouti, is in an Israeli jail where he has been since his arrest in Ramallah by an IDF unit in 2002, after which, in 2004, … Continue reading 

| Marwan Barghouthi: Imprisoned Palestinian leader mourns Mandela’s death!

Imprisoned Palestinian leader mourns Nelson Mandela’s death ~  Redress Information & Analysis. Message from Marwan Barghouthi, imprisoned Palestinian resistance leader, following the announcement of Nelson Mandela’s death. During the long years of my own struggle, I had the occasion to think many … Continue reading 

 

| Palestine’s Mandela: Marwan Barghouti’s popularity can give new momentum to the Palestinian struggle!

Palestine’s Mandela     Marwan Barghouti’s popularity can give new momentum to the Palestinian struggle. ~ Shannon Ebrahim, Al Jazeera.   On Sunday, October 27, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation launched an international campaign from the infamous Robben Island – where Nelson Mandela was … Continue reading 

 

| Robben Island Declaration for Freedom of Marwan Barghouthi + all Palestinian Prisoners!

The Robben Island Declaration for the Freedom of Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian Prisoners ~ Media Review Network | Oct 27, 2013. We, the signatories affirm our conviction that freedom and dignity are the essence of civilisation. People around the globe, and … Continue reading 

 

| Marwan Barghouti: If Occupation continues, there will be [new] Intifada!

Marwan Barghouti: If Occupation Continues, There will be Intifada ~  Palestine News Network. The Jerusalem Post newspaper published yesterday, that Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti said in an interview with channel 10 from his prison cell, that if he were Palestinian Authority president, he … Continue reading 

 

| Free Marwan Barghouti: Suspect Accusations After the Fact!

Marwan Barghouti: Suspect Accusations After the Fact ~ Stephen Lendman. Barghouti‘s a political prisoner. On May 20, 2004, he was wrongfully convicted of involvement in three terrorist attacks killing five people. Acquitted on 33 other charges, he received five consecutive life … Continue reading 

 

| Palestinian Mandela, Marwan Barghouti calls for new uprising challenges Israeli State Terror!

Challenging Israeli State Terror ~ Stephen Lendman Among other methods, lawlessly imprisoned Palestinians do it by hunger striking. Khader Adnan got world attention. He endured 66 days before Israel agreed to release him on April 17. He continues struggling to … Continue reading 

 

 

 

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| Rare Video: Mandela Speaking on Palestine [Extracts]

Rare Video: Mandela Speaking on Palestine [Extracts] ~ BDS South Africa.

REFERENCES MADE BY NELSON MANDELA

PLO: The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was created in 1964 with the purpose of advancing the struggle for Palestinian self determination. The PLO is recognised as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” by over 100 countries with which it holds diplomatic relations. Like South Africa’s (now ruling ANC) the PLO was considered by the United States and Israel to be a terrorist organisation until 1991. In 1993 Israel officially recognised the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.

YASSER ARAFAT: Late leader of the Palestinian people as well as chairman of the PLO.

——————————
ABOUT THE VIDEO
– 1990 Town Hall Meeting with Nelson Mandela on Palestine, Cuba and other issues

The video consists of extracts from a 1990 town hall meeting, held in New York and chaired by Ted Koppel of ABC Networks. The meeting formed part Nelson Mandela’s first visit to the USA immediately following his release after 27 years in prison.

Much of the meeting focused on Nelson Mandela’s advocating of sanctions against Apartheid South Africa, his support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as well as his close friendship with Yasser Arafat (of Palestine) and Fidel Castro (of Cuba).

This meeting took place in 1990, long before the world had embraced Nelson Mandela or the ANC. However, even then, Mandela stood firm and resolute on his principles and organisation’s policies even though it could have “hurt” his and the ANC’s “image”, for example his support for the Palestinian and Cuban people.

Nelson Mandela supported the Palestinian struggle when it was unfashionable and unpopular, he was a true leader. Hamba Khale Tata…

_____________________________________________________________________

 

| Zionist chicken-sh*ts: Israel’s “self-boycott!”

Israel’s “self-boycott” ~ Uri Avnery, Redress Information & Analysis.

Can a country boycott itself? That may sound like a silly question. It is not.

At the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the “Giant of History”, as Barack Obama called him, Israel was not represented by any of its leaders.

The only dignitary who agreed to go was the Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein… an immigrant from the Soviet Union and a settler, who is so anonymous that most Israelis would not recognize him. (“His own father would have trouble recognizing him in the street,” somebody joked.)

“An undignified show of personal cowardice”

Why? The president of the state, Shimon Peres, caught a malady that prevented him from going, but which did not prevent him from making a speech and receiving visitors on the same day. Well, there are all kinds of mysterious microbes.

The prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, had an even stranger reason. The journey, he claimed, was too expensive, what with all the accompanying security people and so on.

Not so long ago, Netanyahu caused a scandal when it transpired that for his journey to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, a five hour flight, he had a special double bed installed in the El Al plane at great expense. He and his much maligned wife, Sara’le, did not want to provoke another scandal so soon. Who’s Mandela, after all?

Altogether, it was an undignified show of personal cowardice by both Peres and Netanyahu.

 

…Israel sold Mandela’s jailers everything it could, from combat aircraft to military electronics, and shared with it its nuclear knowledge. Peres himself was deeply involved.

 

What were they afraid of?

Well, they could have been booed. Recently, many details of the Israeli-South African relationship have come to light. Apartheid South Africa, which was boycotted by the entire world, was the main customer of the Israeli military industry. It was a perfect match: Israel had a lot of weapon systems but no money to produce them, South Africa had lots of money but no one who would supply it with weapons.

So, Israel sold Mandela’s jailers everything it could, from combat aircraft to military electronics, and shared with it its nuclear knowledge. Peres himself was deeply involved.

The relationship was not merely commercial. Israeli officers and officials met with their South African counterparts, visits were exchanged, personal friendship fostered. While Israel never endorsed apartheid, our government certainly did not reject it.

Still, our leaders should have been there, together with the leaders of the whole world. Mandela was the Great Forgiver, and he forgave Israel, too. When the master of ceremonies in the stadium mistakenly announced that Peres and Netanyahu had arrived, just a few boos were heard. Far less than the boos for the current South African president.

In Israel, only one voice was openly raised against Mandela. Shlomo Avineri, a respected professor and former director-general of the Foreign Ministry, criticized him for having a “blind spot” – for taking the Palestinian side against Israel. He also mentioned that another moral authority, Mahatma Gandhi, had the same “blind spot”.

Strange. Two moral giants and the same blind spot? How could that be, one wonders.

 

By its voluntary no-representation or under-representation at the Mandela ceremony, it [the Israeli government] has declared that Israel is a pariah state.

 

The boycott movement against Israel is slowly gaining ground. It takes three main forms (and several in between).

The most focused form is the boycott of the products of the settlements, which was started by Gush Shalom 15 years ago. It is active now in many countries.

A more stringent form is the boycott of all institutes and corporations that are dealing with the settlements. This is now the official policy of the European Union. Just this week, Holland broke off relations with the monopolistic Israeli Water Corporation, Mekorot, which plays a part in the policy that deprives Palestinians of essential water supplies and transfers them to the settlements.

The third form is total: the boycott of everything and everyone Israeli (Including myself). This is also slowly advancing in many countries.

The Israeli government has now joined this form. By its voluntary no-representation or under-representation at the Mandela ceremony, it has declared that Israel is a pariah state. Strange.

Fake security excuses

Last week I wrote that if the Americans find a solution to Israel’s security concerns in the West Bank, other concerns would take their place. I did not expect that it would happen so quickly.

Binyamin Netanyahu declared this week that stationing Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley, as proposed by John Kerry, is not enough. Not by far.

Israel cannot give up the West Bank as long as Iran has nuclear capabilities, he declared. What’s the connection, one might well ask. Well, it’s obvious. A strong Iran will foster terrorism and threaten Israel in many other ways. So Israel must remain strong, and that includes holding on to the West Bank. Stands to reason.

So if Iran gives up all its nuclear capabilities, will that be enough? Not by a long shot. Iran must completely change its “genocidal” policies vis-à-vis Israel, it must stop all threats and utterances against us, it must adopt a friendly attitude towards us. However, Netanyahu did stop short of demanding that the Iranian leaders join the World Zionist Organization.

Before this happens, Israel cannot possibly make peace with the Palestinians. Sorry, Mister Kerry.

In the last article I also ridiculed the Allon Plan and other pretexts advanced by our rightists for holding on to the rich agricultural land of the Jordan Valley.

A friend of mine countered that indeed all the old reasons have become obsolete. The terrible danger of the combined might of Iraq, Syria and Jordan attacking us from the east does not exist anymore. But –

But the valley guardians are now advancing a new danger. If Israel gives back the West Bank without holding on to the Jordan Valley and the border crossings on the river, other terrible things will happen.

The day after the Palestinians take possession of the river crossing, missiles will be smuggled in. Missiles will rain down on Ben-Gurion international airport, the gateway to Israel, located just a few kilometers from the border. Tel Aviv, 25 km from the border, will be threatened, as will the Dimona nuclear installation.

Haven’t we seen this all before? When Israel voluntarily evacuated the whole Gaza Strip, didn’t the rockets start to rain down on the South of Israel?

We cannot possibly rely on the Palestinians. They hate us and will continue to fight us. If Mahmoud Abbas tries to stop it, he will be toppled. Hamas or worse, al-Qaeda, will come to power and unleash a terrorist campaign. Life in Israel will turn into hell.

Therefore it is evident that Israel must control the border between the Palestinian state and the Arab world, and especially the border crossings. As Netanyahu says over and over again, Israel cannot and will not entrust its security to others. Especially not to the Palestinians.

Fake anology

Well, first of all the Gaza Strip analogy does not hold. Ariel Sharon evacuated the Gaza settlements without any agreement or even consultation with the Palestinian Authority, which was still ruling the Strip at that time. Instead of an orderly transfer to the Palestinian security forces, he left behind a power vacuum which was later filled by Hamas.

Sharon also upheld the land and sea blockade that turned the Strip practically into a huge open-air prison.

In the West Bank there exists now a strong Palestinian government and robust security forces, trained by the Americans. A peace agreement will strengthen them immensely.

Abbas does not object to a foreign military presence throughout the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley. On the contrary, he asks for it. He has proposed an international force, under American command. He just objects to the presence of the Israeli army – a situation that would amount to another kind of occupation.

The peace hangup

But the main point is something else, something that goes right to the root of the conflict.

Netanyahu’s arguments presuppose that there will be no peace, not now, not ever. The putative peace agreement – which Israelis call the “permanent status agreement” – will just open another phase of the generations-old war.

This is the main obstacle. Israelis – almost all Israelis – cannot imagine a situation of peace. Neither they, nor their parents and grandparents, have ever experienced a day of peace in this country. Peace is something like the coming of the Messiah, something that has to be wished for, prayed for, but is never really expected to happen.

But peace does not mean, to paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz, the continuation of war by other means. It does not mean a truce or even an armistice.

Peace means living side by side. Peace means reconciliation, a genuine willingness to understand the other side, the readiness to get over old grievances, the slow growth of a new relationship, economic, social, personal.

To endure, peace must satisfy all parties. It requires a situation which all sides can live with, because it fulfills their basic aspirations.

Is this possible? Knowing the other side as well as most, I answer with utmost assurance: Yes, indeed. But it is not an automatic process. One has to work for it, invest in it, wage peace as one wages war.

Nelson Mandela did. That’s why the entire world attended his funeral. That’s, perhaps, why our leaders chose to be absent.

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| The Media’s Hypocritical Oath – Mandela And Economic Apartheid!

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The Media’s Hypocritical Oath – Mandela And Economic Apartheid ~ David Edwards, MEDIA LENS.

What does it mean when a notoriously profit-driven, warmongering, climate-killing media system mourns, with one impassioned voice, the death of a principled freedom fighter like Nelson Mandela?

Does it mean that the corporate system has a heart, that it cares? Or does it mean that Mandela’s politics, and the mythology surrounding them, are somehow serviceable to power?

Consider, first, that this is what is supposed to be true of professional journalism:

‘Gavin Hewitt, John Simpson, Andrew Marr and the rest are employed to be studiously neutral, expressing little emotion and certainly no opinion; millions of people would say that news is the conveying of fact, and nothing more.’ (Andrew Marr, My Trade – A Short History of British Journalism, Macmillan, 2004, p.279)

Thus, Andrew Marr, then BBC political editor, offering professional journalism’s version of the medical maxim, ‘First, do no harm’. First, do no bias.

The reality is indicated by Peter Oborne’s comment in the Telegraph:

‘There are very few human beings who can be compared to Jesus Christ. Nelson Mandela is one… It is hard to envisage a wiser ruler.’

Responding to 850 viewers who had complained that the BBC ‘had devoted too much airtime’ to Mandela’s death, James Harding, the BBC’s director of news, also expressed little emotion and certainly no opinion when he declared Mandela ‘the most significant statesman of the last 100 years, a man who defined freedom, justice, reconciliation, forgiveness’.

In other words, the corporate media had once again abandoned its famed Hypocritical Oath in affirming a trans-spectrum consensus. As ever, a proposition is advanced as indisputably true, the evidence so overwhelming that journalists simplyhave to ditch ‘balance’ to declare the obvious.

The motive is always said to be some pressing moral cause: national solidarity and security at home, opposition to tyranny and genocide abroad. In these moments, the state-corporate system persuades the public of its fundamental humanity, rationality and compassion. But in fact this ‘compassion’ is always driven by realpolitik and groupthink.

‘Emotionally Potent Over-Simplifications’

Because it is an integral part of a system whose actual goals and methods would not be acceptable to the public, the corporate media cannot make sense of the world; it must deal in what US foreign affairs advisor Reinhold Niebuhr called’emotionally potent over-simplifications’.

Thus we find the endlessly recurring theme of the archetypal Bad Guy. When bin Laden is executed, Saddam Hussein lynched and Gaddafi bombed, beaten and shot, it is the same Enemy regenerating year after year, Doctor Who-like, to be ‘taken down’ by the same Good Guy archetype. This is the benevolent father figure who forever sets corporate hearts aflutter with hope and devotion.

In 1997, the Guardian declared the election of Tony Blair ‘one of the great turning-points of British political history… the moment when Britain at last gave itself the chance to construct a modern liberal socialist order’. (Leader, ‘A political earthquake,’ The Guardian, May 2, 1997)

The editors cited historian AJP Taylor’s stirring words: ‘Few now sang England Arise, but England had risen all the same.’

In October 2002, the Guardian’s editors were ravished by a speech by former president Bill Clinton:

‘If one were reviewing it, five stars would not be enough… What a speech. What a pro. And what a loss to the leadership of America and the world.’ (Leader, ‘What a pro – Clinton shows what a loss he is to the US,’ The Guardian, October 3, 2002)

Of Barack Obama’s first great triumph, the same editors gushed:

‘They did it. They really did it… Today is for celebration, for happiness and for reflected human glory. Savour those words: President Barack Obama, America’s hope and, in no small way, ours too.’

Impartiality? Nowhere in sight. Why? Because these are obviously good men, benign causes of great hope. The media are so passionate because they are good men. From this we know who to support and we know that these media are fundamentally virtuous.

In identical fashion, the media have covered themselves in reflected moral glory by hailing Nelson Mandela as a political saint. The Daily Mirror declared: ‘He was the greatest of all leaders,’ (Daily Mirror, December 7, 2013). He ‘showed a forgiveness and generosity of spirit that made him a guiding star for humanity’, an ‘icon’, ‘a colossus’.

Forgiveness was not a major theme in the title of the Mirror’s October 21, 2011 editorial, following the torture and murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi: ‘Mad Dog’s Not A Loss.’ The editors commented: ‘Libya is undoubtedly better off without Mad Dog on the loose.’

Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News agreed that Mandela was a ‘colussus [sic], hero and rare soul’. (Snowmail, December 6, 2013)

For the Telegraph, Mandela was ‘regal’. Indeed, ‘his life had a Churchillian aura of destiny’. He was ‘the kind of man who comes upon this earth but rarely.’

For the equally impartial Guardian, Mandela was, ‘A leader above all others… The secret of [his] leadership lay in the almost unique mixture of wisdom and innocence’.

The paper managed to hint at a darker truth to which we will return; as president, Mandela had ‘discarded his once radical views on the economy’.

For the Gandhians at The Times, Mandela was a near-mythological figure: ‘a man of unyielding courage and breathtaking magnanimity, who defied the armed enforcers of a white supremacist state, made friends of his jailers and could wear a mask of calm on a plane that seemed about to crash’. (Leading article, ‘True Valour,’ The Times, December 6, 2013)

Although: ‘Critics point to his consistent support for Fidel Castro and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as proof that his judgment was not infallible.’

Indeed, it ought to be surprising that the media would so readily forgive a man who had supported armed violence, and who was close to some of the West’s foremost enemies. In March 1998, as South African president, with US president Bill Clinton at his side, Mandela said:

‘I have also invited Brother Leader Gaddafi to this country [South Africa]. And I do that because our moral authority dictates that we should not abandon those who helped us in the darkest hour in the history of this country. Not only did they [Libya] support us in return, they gave us the resources for us to conduct our struggle, and to win. And those South Africans who have berated me, for being loyal to our friends, literally they can go and throw themselves into a pool.’

The capitalist, Russian oligarch-owned Independent on Sunday helped explain media enthusiasm for Mandela when ithailed his views on big business:

‘For all his left-wing rhetoric, he recognised that capitalism is the most important anti-poverty policy.’

As for Africa’s environmental problems, ‘Ultimately, as with human poverty, economic growth is the solution.’

It is of course profoundly impressive that Mandela could emerge from 27 years of imprisonment with apparently no desire for revenge. And as Peter Oborne commented:

‘It took just two or three years to sweep away white rule and install a new kind of government. Most revolutions of this sort are unbelievably violent and horrible. They feature mass executions, torture, expropriation and massacres… let’s imagine that Nelson Mandela had been a different sort of man. Let’s imagine that he emerged from his 27 years of incarceration bent on revenge against the white fascists and thugs who had locked him up for so long.’

Oborne compared the results of Mandela’s strategy with those of the West’s Official Enemies: ‘Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Milosevic, Saddam Hussein. The list goes on and on.’ Although not so far as to include Western leaders, by doctrinal fiat.

Oborne noted that Mandela and Gandhi ’embraced humanity, rather than excluded it. They sought moral rather than physical power’.

Unlike Oborne’s own newspaper, which wrote of Nato’s devastating and illegal assault on Libya in 2011:

‘As the net tightens round Muammar Gaddafi and his family, Nato deserves congratulations on having provided the platform for rebel success.’

In March 2003, the same paper declared:

‘Any fair-minded person who listened to yesterday’s [parliamentary] debate, having been genuinely unable to make up his mind about military action against Saddam Hussein, must surely have concluded that Mr Blair was right, and his opponents were wrong.’

 

Economic Apartheid

As discussed, many journalists have rightly praised Mandela’s forgiveness. But the state-corporate system also has a generous capacity for excusing torturers, dictators, terrorists, and even former enemies like Mandela – anyone who serves the deep interests of power and profit in some way.

John Pilger noted of Mandela:

‘The sheer grace and charm of the man made you feel good. He chuckled about his elevation to sainthood. “That’s not the job I applied for,” he said dryly.’

But Mandela ‘was well used to deferential interviews and I was ticked off several times – “you completely forgot what I said” and “I have already explained that matter to you”. In brooking no criticism of the African National Congress (ANC), he revealed something of why millions of South Africans will mourn his passing but not his “legacy”.’

Once in power, Pilger explained, the ANC’s official policy to end the impoverishment of most South Africans was abandoned, with one of his ministers boasting that the ANC’s politics were Thatcherite:

‘Few ordinary South Africans were aware that this “process” had begun in high secrecy more than two years before Mandela’s release when the ANC in exile had, in effect, done a deal with prominent members of the Afrikaaner elite at meetings in a stately home, Mells Park House, near Bath. The prime movers were the corporations that had underpinned apartheid…

‘With democratic elections in 1994, racial apartheid was ended, and economic apartheid had a new face.’ (See Pilger’s 1998 film, Apartheid Did Not Die, for further analysis)

In 2001, George Soros told the Davos Economic Forum: ‘South Africa is in the hands of international capital.’

Patrick Bond, director of the centre for civil society and a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa,commented:

‘I happened to work in his office twice, ’94 and ’96, and saw these policies being pushed on Mandela by international finance and domestic business and a neoliberal conservative faction within his own party.’

Bond paraphrased the view of former minister of intelligence and minister of water Ronnie Kasrils, ‘probably the country’s greatest white revolutionary ever’, who described how ‘as a ruler Mandela gave in way too much to rich people. So he replaced racial apartheid with class apartheid’.

Bond argues that ‘big business basically said, we will get out of our relationship with the Afrikaner rulers if you let us keep, basically, our wealth intact and indeed to take the wealth abroad’.

In the Independent, Andrew Buncombe reported that ‘for many in Alexandra, and in countless similar places across the country, the situation in some respects is today little different’ from before Mandela began his liberation struggle:

‘Figures released last year following a census showed that while the incomes of black households had increased by an average of 169 per cent over the past ten years, they still represented a sixth of those of white households.’

Former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook also recognised Mandela’s ‘huge achievement in helping to bring down South African apartheid’. But:

‘Mandela was rehabilitated into an “elder statesman” in return for South Africa being rapidly transformed into an outpost of neoliberalism, prioritising the kind of economic apartheid most of us in the west are getting a strong dose of now.’

And Mandela was used:

‘After finally being allowed to join the western “club”, he could be regularly paraded as proof of the club’s democratic credentials and its ethical sensibility… He was forced to become a kind of Princess Diana, someone we could be allowed to love because he rarely said anything too threatening to the interests of the corporate elite who run the planet.’

This helps explain why Mandela is feted as a political saint, while late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who profoundly challenged economic apartheid in Latin America, was a ‘controversial’, ‘anti-American bogeymen’, a ‘people’s hero and villain’ who had ‘pissed away’ his country’s wealth, for the BBC. Chavez was a peddler of ‘strutting and narcissistic populism’ for the Guardian. Rory Carroll, the paper’s lead reporter on Venezuela between 2006-2012, commented:

‘To the millions who detested him as a thug and charlatan, it will be occasion to bid, vocally or discreetly, good riddance.’

For the Independent, Chavez was ‘egotistical, bombastic and polarising’, ‘no run-of-the-mill dictator’. He was ‘divisive’ for the Guardian, Independent and Telegraph, and ‘reckless’ for the Economist.

Chavez’s real crime was that he presented a serious threat to the state-corporate system of which these media are an integral part.

The point is a simple one. State-corporate expressions of moral outrage and approval are never – not ever – to be taken at face value. While of course there may be some truth in what is being said, the systemic motivation will always be found in the self-interested head rather than the altruistic heart.

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| The Hijacking of Mandela’s Legacy!

The hijacking of Mandela’s legacy ~ Pepe Escobar, RT.

Beware of strangers bearing gifts. The “gift” is the ongoing, frantic canonization of Nelson Mandela. The “strangers” are the 0.0001 percent, that fraction of the global elite that’s really in control (media naturally included).

It’s a Tower of Babel of tributes piled up in layer upon layer of hypocrisy – from the US to Israel and from France to Britain.

What must absolutely be buried under the tower is that the apartheid regime in South Africa was sponsored and avidly defended by the West until, literally, it was about to crumble under the weight of its own contradictions. The only thing that had really mattered was South Africa’s capitalist economy and immense resources, and the role of Pretoria in fighting “communism.”Apartheid was, at best, a nuisance.

Mandela is being allowed sainthood by the 0.0001% because he extended a hand to the white oppressor who kept him in jail for 27 years. And because he accepted – in the name of “national reconciliation” – that no apartheid killers would be tried, unlike the Nazis.

Among the cataracts of emotional tributes and the crass marketization of the icon, there’s barely a peep in Western corporate media about Mandela’s firm refusal to ditch armed struggle against apartheid (if he had done so, he would not have been jailed for 27 years); his gratitude towards Fidel Castro’s Cuba – which always supported the people of Angola, Namibia and South Africa fighting apartheid; and his perennial support for the liberation struggle in Palestine.

Young generations, especially, must be made aware that during the Cold War, any organization fighting for the freedom of the oppressed in the developing world was dubbed “terrorist”; that was the Cold War version of the “war on terror”. Only at the end of the 20th century was the fight against apartheid accepted as a supreme moral cause; and Mandela, of course, rightfully became the universal face of the cause.

It’s easy to forget that conservative messiah Ronald Reagan – who enthusiastically hailed the precursors of al-Qaeda as “freedom fighters” – fiercely opposed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act because, what else, the African National Congress (ANC) was considered a “terrorist organization” (on top of Washington branding the ANC as “communists”).

 

The same applied to a then-Republican Congressman from Wyoming who later would turn into a Darth Vader replicant, Dick Cheney. As for Israel, it even offered one of its nuclear weapons to the Afrikaners in Pretoria – presumably to wipe assorted African commies off the map.

In his notorious 1990 visit to the US, now as a free man, Mandela duly praised Fidel, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and Col. Gaddafi as his “comrades in arms”“There is no reason whatsoever why we should have any hesitation about hailing their commitment to human rights.” Washington/Wall Street was livid.

And this was Mandela’s take, in early 2003, on the by then inevitable invasion of Iraq and the wider war on terror; “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America.” No wonder he was kept on the US government terrorist list until as late as 2008.

From terrorism to sainthood

In the early 1960s – when, by the way, the US itself was practicing apartheid in the South – it would be hard to predict to what extent “Madiba” (his clan name), the dandy lawyer and lover of boxing with an authoritarian character streak, would adopt Gandhi’s non-violence strategy to end up forging an exceptional destiny graphically embodying the political will to transform society. Yet the seeds of “Invictus” were already there.

The fascinating complexity of Mandela is that he was essentially a democratic socialist. Certainly not a capitalist. And not a pacifist either; on the contrary, he would accept violence as a means to an end. In his books and countless speeches, he always admitted his flaws. His soul must be smirking now at all the adulation.

Arguably, without Mandela, Barack Obama would never have reached the White House; he admitted on the record that his first political act was at an anti-apartheid demonstration. But let’s make it clear: Mr. Obama, you’re no Nelson Mandela.

To summarize an extremely complex process, in the “death throes” of apartheid, the regime was mired in massive corruption, hardcore military spending and with the townships about to explode. Mix Fidel’s Cuban fighters kicking the butt of South Africans (supported by the US) in Angola and Namibia with the inability to even repay Western loans, and you have a recipe for bankruptcy.

The best and the brightest in the revolutionary struggle – like Mandela – were either in jail, in exile, assassinated (like Steve Biko) or “disappeared”, Latin American death squad-style. The actual freedom struggle was mostly outside South Africa – in Angola, Namibia and the newly liberated Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Once again, make no mistake; without Cuba – as Mandela amply stressed writing from jail in March 1988 – there would be “no liberation of our continent, and my people, from the scourge of apartheid”. Now get one of those 0.0001% to admit it.

In spite of the debacle the regime – supported by the West – sensed an opening. Why not negotiate with a man who had been isolated from the outside world since 1962? No more waves and waves of Third World liberation struggles; Africa was now mired in war, and all sorts of socialist revolutions had been smashed, from Che Guevara killed in Bolivia in 1967 to Allende killed in the 1973 coup in Chile.

Mandela had to catch up with all this and also come to grips with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of what European intellectuals called “real socialism.” And then he would need to try to prevent a civil war and the total economic collapse of South Africa.

The apartheid regime was wily enough to secure control of the Central Bank – with crucial IMF help – and South Africa’s trade policy. Mandela secured only a (very significant) political victory. The ANC only found out it had been conned when it took power. Forget about its socialist idea of nationalizing the mining and banking industries – owned by Western capital, and distribute the benefits to the indigenous population. The West would never allow it. And to make matters worse, the ANC was literally hijacked by a sorry, greedy bunch.

Follow the roadmap

John Pilger is spot on pointing to economic apartheid in South Africa now with a new face.

Patrick Bond has written arguably the best expose anywhere of the Mandela years – and their legacy.

And Ronnie Kasrils does a courageous mea culpa dissecting how Mandela and the ANC accepted a devil’s pact with the usual suspects.

The bottom line: Mandela defeated apartheid but was defeated by neoliberalism. And that’s the dirty secret of him being allowed sainthood.

Now for the future. Cameroonian Achille Mbembe, historian and political science professor, is one of Africa’s foremost intellectuals. In his book Critique of Black Reason, recently published in France (not yet in English), Mbembe praises Mandela and stresses that Africans must imperatively invent new forms of leadership, the essential precondition to lift themselves in the world. All-too-human“Madiba” has provided the roadmap. May Africa unleash one, two, a thousand Mandelas.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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| FREE Marwan Barghouti: Palestine’s Mandela!

Where is Palestine’s Mandela? ~ Alan Hart, www.alanhart.net.

The answer to my headline question is that he, Marwan Barghouti, is in an Israeli jail where he has been since his arrest in Ramallah by an IDF unit in 2002, after which, in 2004, he was sentenced to five life terms in prison. Some months before his arrest one of Israel’s security agencies tried and failed to assassinate him. A missile was fired at his bodyguard’s car and killed the bodyguard. (If the attempt on Barghouti’s life had succeeded, his killers would not have been brought to justice because as well as bulldozing Palestinian homes and stealing Palestinian land and water, Israel kills, murders, with impunity).

 

Regular readers of my occasional thoughts and analysis will know that I am in favour of the dissolution of the impotent, corrupt and discredited Palestine National Authority (PNA) and handing back to Israel complete and full responsibility for the occupation. As I have previously said, this could make calling and holding the Zionist monster to account for its crimes something less than a mission impossible. But…

If putting the PNA out of its misery is not an option, what the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip need, urgently, are elections to give them the opportunity to bring on a new and credible leadership. If there were elections, and if Barghouti was pardoned, released and allowed to run for the office of “President of Palestine”, he would almost certainly win.

I’m also happy to speculate that in office he would do what collaborator Abbas, more or less under orders from the U.S., has failed to do – unite Fatah and Hamasto enable the occupied and oppressed Palestinians to speak with one voice.

As I have written and said in the past, it bears repeating, there is no secret about Hamas’s real position. While it is not prepared to recognise Israel’s “right” to exist, nor should it do so, it isprepared, with Arafat-like pragmatism, to recognise and live with the actual existence of an Israel inside the pre-1967 war borders with, probably, mutually agreed minor border changes, and Jerusalem an open, undivided city and the capital of two states. Assertions about Hamas’s real position to the contrary by Greater Israel’s hardliners and the neo-fascists to the extreme right of them are Zionist propaganda “bs” (President Carters code for bullshit), out of the same stable as Netanyahu’s nonsense about Iran representing a threat to Israel’s existence.

Now 54, and fully fluent in Hebrew, Barghouti joined Fatah at the age of 15. He co-founded the Fatah Youth Movement on the West Bank and became Secretary General of Fatah in that territory. He is widely believed to have been the leader on the ground of the first and second intifadas. (Once it was underway the oversight director of the first intifada was actually Arafat’s number two, Abu Jihad, from the bedroom of his home in Tunis; and that’s why Israel assassinated him, in his bedroom, on 16 April 1988. If he had not been assassinated, Abu Jihad would have succeeded Arafat and the Palestinian cause would have been in the best possible hands at leadership level).

At about the time of his arrest Barghouti’s position on ending the conflict was in this statement:

I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel, our future neighbour. I reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli occupation of my country and to fight for my freedom. I still seek peaceful coexistence between the equal and independent countries of Israel and Palestine based on full withdrawal from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.

In jail Barghouti has continued to condemn attacks on civilians in Israel but also stressed that he supported armed resistance to Israeli occupation. (In international law all occupied peoples have the right to resist occupation by all means including armed struggle).

Even in Israeli political and media circles there has been some debate about pardoning and releasing Barghouti. Following his January 2006 re-election to the Palestinian Legislative Council (he was first elected to it in 1996), Yossi Beilin, a foreign policy specialist and former Israeli government minister, and a voice of some sanity, called for Barghouti to be pardoned. And it was probably on advice from Beilin that in January 2007 Shimon Peres, then deputy prime minister, declared that if elected to the presidency he would sign a pardon for Barghouti. He has not yet done so and I think it’s reasonable to assume that Netanyahu said to him something like, “Don’t even think about it!”

The last thing Netanyahu wants is a Palestinian leader who commands the respect of his people and will not accept crumbs from Zionism’s table.

In his tribute to Nelson Mandela at the memorial service in Soweto’s FNB stadium, President Obama said that he, Mandela, “understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet.” Barghouti understands that, too.

What a real peace process needs is an Israeli leader who understands that an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians is an idea that can’t be destroyed by military might and oppression of all kinds. Such a leader would pardon and free Marwan Barghouti.

To the Zionist argument that he can’t be freed because he is a terrorist, there can be only one response.

Whether Barghouti was or was not a terrorist is an irrelevance. Mandela was described as a “terrorist”, and so were many of those who became prime ministers and presidents of Britain’s former colonies when they gained their independence. And what about Zionism’s own, Menachem Begin for example, arguably the most successful terrorist of modern times if not all of human history? (Begin had a leading role in driving out of Palestine by terrorism first the occupying British and then three-quarters of its indigenous Arab inhabitants).

To that response could be added the fact that Israel sometimes resorts to state terrorism.

There is good reason to believe that if Barghouti was pardoned and freed and became the president of Palestine, he would pursue a Mandela-like path of reconciliation to the extent that he would be committed to the wellbeing and security of Jews in a state of Israel inside more or less its borders as they were on the eve of the 1967 war. So there is a case for saying that Israel needs Barghouti as much as the Palestinians do.

There is now one thing (apart from Netanyahu!) that neither Israel nor the occupied and oppressed Palestinians need. It was drawn to my attention in an article by Abdel Bari Atwan, the former editor-in-chief of Al Quds, the only Arab newspaper while Abdel Bari was in charge of it that was required reading in the foreign offices of the Western world. Abdel Bari is no longer with the paper because its principal Gulf Arab funders were not prepared to tolerate his truth-telling any longer and demanded his departure. That didn’t come as a surprise to me because when three years ago I interviewed him for my Heart of the Matter series for Press TV (which can be found on my web site www.alanhart.net), he told me that the chair in which I was sitting opposite him at his desk had been occupied some weeks previously by a Saudi royal who offered him a vast amount of money to take his leave of the paper.

Abdel Bari’s article which commanded my full attention was headlined Al-Qaeda Arrives In The West Bank. It included this:

When I met Sheikh Osama bin-Laden in Tora Bora caves in the 1996, I conveyed to him people’s criticism that the organization focuses on fighting in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia (Thailand and southern Philippines), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Daghistan, and elsewhere and that it did not carry out any operations against Israeli targets in and outside Palestinian territories. He told me the reason was the difficulty in crossing the border and the vicious security measures that the Arab security agencies adopted against his organization… It appears (mainly because of the mayhem in Iraq and Syria) things have now changed, at least partially.

About how things are changing Abdel Bari wrote this:

The Mujahedeen Shura Council, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, yesterday announced in a statement that the three young men killed by the Israeli army in Hebron on Tuesday were members of one of its cells. The statement, posted on the internet, said: “As we announce the martyrdom of this group, we bring to the Muslim nation the glad tidings that, praise be to God, global jihad now has a foothold in the proud West Bank after everyone tried to foil every seed planted there.”Shin Bet (Israeli internal security) officials said the extremist network had established a safe haven in the West Bank, stored weapons, and planned attacks against Israeli targets and against the PNA.

If this information is true – and it appears to be true – it will shock both the PNA and Israel because al-Qaeda’s arrival in the occupied West Bank is a very serious security breach that will have repercussions because, judging from al-Qaeda’s activities in other regions, it means martyrdom-seeking operations and booby-trapped cars.

 

I personally do not rule out such a breach. Hamas has not carried out any military attacks against Israeli targets and settlements in the West Bank because it has a sort of “truce” with both the Israelis and the PNA in the West Bank and Gaza, and with it refraining from launching any systematic operations in order to evade an Israeli incursion into Gaza, which it rules, I believe it is inevitable that al-Qaeda and its supporters will try to find a foothold; and that they will likely succeed in recruiting enthusiastic young men dismayed at the state of deadlock and influenced by the Arab revolutions.

 

If al-Qaeda (and/or affiliates) did succeed in establishing enough of a foothold on the occupied West Bank from which to launch attacks to kill Israeli Jews, that could trigger a final Zionist ethnic cleansing.

It also could be that a credible Palestinian leadership headed by Marwan Barghouti after elections would represent the very last chance for stopping the countdown to catastrophe for all.

My plea to all who campaign for justice for the Palestinians is – give a priority to calling and lobbying for the release of Marwan Barghouti, the man who could become the Palestinian Mandela in terms of the reconciliation needed if the two-state solution is to be resurrected from its grave.

If it was, my guess is that that Barghouti would entertain the same hope as Arafat – that one or two generations of a two-state peace would lead by mutual consent to a one state with equal rights for all.

Footnote

James Robbins, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, made what I thought was a most perceptive comment a few days ago. He said words to the effect that maybe it was not Mandela who had been in jail for 27 years but most of South Africa’s whites – in the jail of apartheid ideology. In the case of Marwan Barghouti, maybe it’s not him who is in jail but most Israeli Jews – in the jail of Zionism’s ideology.

 

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| Deconstructing Netanyahu’s tribute to Mandela!

Deconstructing Netanyahu’s tribute to Mandela ~ , Mondoweiss.

Netanyahu couldn’t attend Mandela’s memorial. It was too expensive. I mean, with the cost of the Prawer Plan and dealing with those pesky Palestinians who just won’t shut up and die already, the Jewish state is strapped for cash. So, Israel’s prime minister sent a 37 second video. You can watch it here, then read the actual words behind his words.

Nelson Mandela was one of the stellar figures of our age.

We tried hard to help our brethren in South Africa squash his legacy before it was too late, but they were too soft and now look what happened.

He was the father of his nation, a man of vision, a freedom fighter who rejected any violence.

I know that’s not true, but in order to be a legitimate freedom fighter, you have to reject all forms of violence, including against those who are savagely beating you over the head. This applies only to brown people. White people like me are always freedom fighters, no matter what we do or how we do it.

He gave a personal example for his people in the long years he spent in prison.

Because accepting any and all punishment we give you is the best example you can set for your people. Always be patient. Take it on the chin. We have your best interest at heart. Love us for it.

He never became proud or haughty.

This is important because we cannot accept this kind of uppity behavior from black men.

He acted to heal the wounds within South African society.

He forgave whites for hundreds of years of unspeakable and still untold crimes and, more importantly, didn’t punish them or make them pay back anything of what they had stolen.

And with the force of his unique personality, he was able to prevent the eruption of racial hatred.

You know, over 300 years of robbing and destroying native South African lives cannot be called ‘racial hatred’.

He will be remembered as the father of modern South Africa and as a moral leader of the highest order.

Because of the stuff I just outlined in the previous 70 seconds. All the other stuff he did does not come under the banner of ‘moral leader’.

Susan Abulhawa has a new book of poetry out, My Voice Sought the Wind

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