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Economic and Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested. V. I. Lenin

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No 1239 June 29th 2004

Laying false trails to hide the Iraq "handover" date has only increased the universal ridicule for this shoddy Occupation episode in the American Empire's rapid decline. Anti-imperialist resistance is now the decisive phenomenon, not the pro-imperialist racketeering now contemptuously installed by the CIA. The USA's NAZI-blitzkrieg mission to terrorise the Middle East by "shock and awe" discipline is failing badly. It is the anti-imperialist "terrorism" which is now dictating events. Serious revolutionary ideology will not be long in re-emerging, adding to the imperialist system's insoluble political and economic crisis. The West's ludicrous pro-Israeli bias is melting fast as the World War III dangers from the Zionist tyranny become clearer.

The American Empire's Middle East crisis looks set only to escalate in coming weeks and months, regardless of the joke "handover" deal in Iraq this week which is supposed to relieve Washington of responsibility for the growing mess there.

This financing of stooge Aunt Sallies pretending to run things as an "Iraqi" government from Baghdad has fooled no one.

So greatly is the new Iraqi boss Ayad Allawi held in contempt locally that he is already being dismissed as both a CIA agent and an unreconstructed Baathist simultaneously.

Unless he turns against the imperialists, his regime looks as doomed as all the other Western stooges in the region in due course.

The whole imperialist system is in economic and political crisis, and the West's traditional "solution" to its colonial problems of "shock and awe" blitzkrieg-disciplining of "rogue states" (or "evil influences" stirring up hostility to imperialist control) is in the greatest crisis of all.

The anti—imperialist resistance is not only refusing to be cowed, but from Afghanistan to Palestine right across the Middle East, and in many other parts of the world too, the "terrorist" and other combative movements are demonstrating a new implacable ferocity and a skilled determination to fight to the bitter end, which is not just alarming the West but administering some serious military defeats now.

And this entire anti-imperialist resistance is just in its infancy, learning rapidly and acquiring new organisational strength all the time.

And how long before this mass movement starts to reacquire an international communist revolutionary ideology which will decisively signal the coming end of the 1,000-year epoch of Western imperialist world domination???????

A planned socialist world community won't self-destruct a second time, like the first one did under the "peaceful coexistence" insanity of Stalinist Revisionism.

The American Empire's failures are now so gross that capitalism's own admissions tell that part of the story best, — the media part of the bourgeoisie's ideological domination exposing the lies of the other political part of the capitalist class dictatorship.

Iraq is in an uproar of exploding anarchy which all the brutality in the world by the imperialist occupation force cannot control, and which the silly trick of shifting the "handover" forward by two days this week (to spike plans for a resistance Tet Offensive to humiliate the occasion) has done nothing to conceal.

If anything, this stunt has only made the American Empire look even more feeble and foolish, admitting that it is running scared, admitting that its only hope of "control"- appearances lies in gimmicks, and admitting everything about this "handover" is utterly one-sided and arbitrary, including its timing.

But the mess is far far bigger anyway than just the obvious loss of "security".

The Western imperialist system's ALL-ROUND paralysed inadequacy is the problem, as even its own newspapers are this very weekend shamefacedly admitting:

The main power plant in Baghdad generates less electricity now than it did a year ago, and in the height of summer, with temperatures rising above 40C, the lack of power to run air-conditioning or fans is blamed on the American invaders rather than the fanatics who murdered the Russian engineers recruited by the coalition to repair the turbines.

Electricity shortages are not the most pressing of Iraq's woes. The Iraqi army is only a third of the size it should be. Only three-quarters of the police have undergone training. Equipment promised to security forces has not been delivered.

It does not augur well for an early US withdrawal after the handover of sovereignty. 'For some time coalition forces must continue to shoulder a big part of the security burden," the American general David Petraeus told a gathering of Iraqi officers last week.

"It goes without saying that coalition forces don't want to stay a day longer than is necessary, but we don't want to hand off tasks to Iraqi forces until they are ready." That, he said, would be "rushing to failure".

The general is clearly keen to instil a sense of pride among Iraqi officers who might otherwise show more loyalty to their tribe than their country. He told them they had to set an example: "There's going to have to be a huge effort to remain positive — to give energy to the soldiers. There will be lots of things to complain about."

An Iraqi military band then struck up a jaunty rendition of The British Grenadiers as the newly appointed defence minister strutted past. Yet these soldiers, like their minister, looked worried and worn out. Would they stand and fight against fellow Muslims, as they will surely be asked to do, or run — as they did during a Shi'ite rebellion earlier this year?

After a handover ceremony on Wednesday, the Coalition Provisional Authority that has run the country will be disbanded and most of the young nation-builders recruited by the White House to help resurrect Iraq will go home. Others will become part of the new Baghdad embassy, one of the largest US missions in the world.

As they looked back on the occupation, few officials expressed satisfaction about a job well done. Even Paul Bremer, the American proconsul who through necessity has become an expert at finding a positive spin, expressed regrets about what has been left unaccomplished.

He listed his biggest achievements as lowering tax rates, liberalising foreign investment laws and reducing import duties, a free-market agenda that was criticised by some of his underlings for being pursued even while basic services had not been restored. Beyond the electricity shortage, Iraq, one of the biggest oil-producing countries in the world, faces the indignity of having to import petrol.

Among civilians in the "green zone", the heavily defended coalition headquarters in Saddam's former palaces on the banks of the Tigris, there were regrets for squandered opportunities, and frustration with the military for not providing enough security to allow reconstruction to go ahead. The military blamed civilian reconstruction teams for not launching their effort sooner.

Whatever the case, 80% of an $18.6 billion (£10.1 billion) American aid package remains unspent: projects that were to receive funding have been suspended after the withdrawal of western contractors because of security concerns.

It is estimated that $2 billion of the aid package will now go on private guards for contractors instead of being spent on the Iraqi people.

Few of the coalition officials ever venture beyond the walls of their enclave into the "red zone", comprising the rest of Iraq; and because of the growing threat to foreigners after a spate of kidnappings and three beheadings in recent weeks, even  operatives of the CIA were said to have been grounded in their rattan-decorated green zone bar.

It has helped to fortify the impression of an occupation force increasingly detached from reality. The briefings last week by American officials seemed starkly at odds with facts on the ground.

A senior military official sipping coffee described the assault on five cities by rebel forces on Thursday morning as "no big thing". A civilian Pentagon official glibly described his role in helping to organise a new Iraqi ministry of defence as a "once-in-a-life-time experience to design my own ministry".

The Iraqis may not have had weapons of mass destruction but discussing the heavy weapons, such as tanks and artillery, that remain in their arsenal, the official did not sound completely confident when he proclaimed: "We are confident they [the weapons] will not be turned around on the coalition."

Already he has stared down the barrel of a pistol but his bodyguards pushed him to the ground before the assailant could get in a shot. The attacker fled and al-Maliky, who speaks impeccable English and likes to quote Milton, escaped with only a broken tooth.

His younger brother Adnan said he had been "in a state of shock" since returning two weeks ago to Baghdad after working abroad for 10 years as a hairdresser. "Maybe we will have democracy one day," he said. "But right now it is a mess. I am thinking of leaving."

He is not the only one. Each day the queue of young Iraqis outside the passport office gets longer.

"It is going to take years for Iraq to recover," said Hamoudi al-Ugaly, a computer sciences student. "Until then I think virtually any other country will offer better job opportunities than Iraq."

But this is not the first Middle East failure of Western imperialism's new blitzkrieg era, marking the onset of World War III.

The recolonising invasion and occupation of Afghanistan had already been turning into a disaster for a long while, and now it looks set to further exacerbate the rapidly-growing splits and recriminations within the imperialist ranks which were
already bitter enough over Iraq to leave the American Empire virtually stranded in its misery and humiliation there.

Is Afghanistan now about to add dramatically further to Washington and London's already overwhelming headaches????

IF NATO fails in Afghanistan, then it may flounder as an organisation — and it is on the brink of failure.

That is the message which Nato's new chief, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, has delivered loudly and often in the run-up to Monday's Nato summit in Istanbul.

It is a melodramatic claim, more than you might expect from a Nato Secretary-General, let alone one with De Hoop Scheffer's 30-year reputation for quiet diplomacy.

But De Hoop Scheffer's stridency could backfire. In Afghanistan, Nato does indeed appear to be failing, judged by the most obvious yardsticks. That will prompt many to ask whether he is right to claim that this mission should define Nato's future role.

You can understand why De Hoop Scheffer is frustrated to the point of sharpness.

When he took the job in January from Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, Britain's former Secretary of Defence, Afghanistan topped the list of problems — and it still does.

Nato has had command of the International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan's international peacekeeping force, since last August. It was issued a United Nations mandate for the mission, its first away from its European base.

"We cannot afford to let Afghanistan fail," De Hoop Scheffer said this week in the International Herald Tribune. "Afghanistan is not only an immediate challenge. It is also an example of the new kinds of operations this alliance must be prepared to face — largely unforeseen, far from our traditional areas of operation, and a test of our collective ability."

But in May, De Hoop Scheffer gave clear warning that Nato's peacekeeping in Afghanistan certainly could fail.

He told a closed meeting of Nato ambassadors in Brussels — who immediately spread the word — that the mission had been hobbled because Nato members had failed to deliver the resources the mission needed.

His implication was obvious: that Iraq had drained resources away from the earlier battleground to its east.

This is not hyperbole. It is fair to say that at the moment, the mission is failing, judged by the most obvious measures: security, opium production, and ability to hold elections.

But two and a half years ago, after the Afghan war ended, Blair also promised the Afghan people: "This time, we will not walk away from you." Here, he is on less firm ground.

Part of the problem is lack of money. The sums have been tiny compared with the amount the US is proposing to spend on Iraq, an oil-rich country.

But the overwhelming problem is security. The Nato force is too stretched to do much more than patrol Kabul, while much of the US forces are devoted to hunting Osama bin Laden and the Taleban leader Mullah Omar in the mountains of the south east.

This year, more than 300 people have been killed by militants, including several dozen aid workers and officials trying to register Afghans to vote. This month Taleban sympathisers killed five members of Médecins sans Frontières, and 11 Chinese construction workers.

The gleaming new road from Kabul to Kandahar, the one clearly completed project of reconstruction, is too dangerous to travel.

Warlords and governors are running their regions as personal fiefdoms, reluctant to send revenue to Kabul. President Hamid Karzai has found Ismail Khan in Herat and Rashid Dostum in the north particularly hard to govern.

Nato has struggled to set up the new "Provincial Reconstruction Teams" it planned to have in place by now. These are small groups of military and civilian officials based around the country, both to help boost security and to try to extend the reach of the Kabul Government.

Nato had hoped to be responsible for the north and west by now, but can barely claim that for the north.

The opium crop this year is set to beat previous records by a third. The cash is now flowing to regional warlords, paying for their militias, and their independence from Kabul.

In 2001, the year of September 11 and the war, the Taleban, who once encouraged the crop, had succeeded in halting it almost entirely.

Nato cannot provide nationwide security for the elections set for September. Until security improves, it is almost impossible to spend money either on infrastructure, or on setting up the foundations of government — and the elections are a crucial part, practically and symbolically.

That has given those countries which have promised money but failed to pay it an excuse for delay.

De Hoop Scheffer is clearly right to have used shock tactics to get Nato's members to send more troops.

But in the longer term, his bleak warnings may prompt many Nato members to question the basic principle of the mission:

The US's desire to see Nato in Iraq, too, to relieve the burden on its own forces will also force Nato members to look hard at this question.

But the Afghanistan exercise has shown that smearing small deployments of 6,000-odd troops across the map of distant continents is not a good answer.

But this failure so far of imperialism's recolonising blitzkrieg "disciplining" mission, as terrifying as the collapse of this "shock and awe" ability clearly is to a system which lives or dies by its capacity for military domination, is only one element of the American Empire's ever-mounting paralysed turmoil.

What to do about Saudi Arabia is giving Washington the mother of all headaches.

First, just some of the problems which, even only from a bourgeois perspective, sound anything from intimidating to impossible:

All the signs suggest that in the face of mounting violence and international pressure, the House of Saud has sunk into terminal denial and paralysis. Convinced that their enemies are all around them, they are nevertheless unable to locate them.

Last year the aged King Fahd threatened militants with his "iron fist", but they have gone on killing regardless. While the princes have insisted reforms are in progress, they continue to fling reformists themselves into jail — and intimidate others into keeping quiet.

 The government maintains its oil installations are completely safe from attack — and yet high-level oil analysts insist the Saudi security forces which guard them are infiltrated by extremists.

Such contradictions suggest that very little is currently under control in the Saudi kingdom.

But it would be wrong to predict any immediate collapse of the state. Despite a marked cooling in relations, Saudi Arabia remains the key ally of the US in the region. With continuing violence in Iraq, Washington's priority is to prevent Saudi Arabia descending into similar anarchy, even if it means propping up a regime it no longer likes or trusts. American demands for reform have quietened in the past few months, which may explain their muted response to the clampdown on Saudi liberals last March.

While oil prices remain exceptionally high and with a US presidential election in November, Saudi Arabia is the pump that cannot be allowed to run dry. Predictably, the kingdom is determined to remind the Bush administration of its central role in the world economy and politics, aware that if peace breaks out in neighbouring Iraq, it will lose some important leverage.

Already its influence in the Gulf has been badly shaken. The smaller states no longer need Saudi Arabia for protection and security, and no longer look to Riyadh for a lead on the international stage. Moreover, some have clearly replaced the Saudi state in Washington's affections.

It is now known that a number of those Gulf rulers have been lining up to tell the Saudis that reform is their only chance of survival, and that it may already be too late. But even those princes who accept that notion — such as Crown Prince Abdullah — no longer appear to hold sway in the cabinet.

In any case, the Saudi state has become such a cauldron of hatreds and divisions — many now highlighted by the war in Iraq — that reforms favouring one group would almost certainly be rejected by another.

Regional rivalries have been sharply exacerbated. The Asir region is viewed by many as partly Yemeni. The Hijazis see themselves as a separate cultural and religious entity. After decades of exclusion from key jobs, the Shia in the oil-rich province are deeply ambivalent about their Saudi identity and feel newly empowered by Shia advances in Iraq.

Conceivably, they could begin to demand their own state. Some even talk about Shia political power as a disease that could spread into Saudi Arabia and engulf it. If Iraq were ever to sink into civil war, the Saudis themselves would be hard-pressed to hold their nation together.

To the Saudi royal family nothing is more troubling than the Shia questions. All Saudi Shia are followers of the Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani — so they already look across the border for guidance. Bearded, turbaned and cloaked Shia clerics, now far more visible in Iraq, terrify the minority Saudi Wahhabis. From being the region's big losers over the last few decades, many Shia now feel they can redress the balance, settle old scores and control the oil wealth.

Shia ideology is in direct collision with the Sunni Wahhabi- doctrine that underpins the Saudi state and frequently labels the Shia as "heretics".

For months, the Saudi government has trumpeted its "national dialogue" which brought together Ismaelis, Sufis, Shia and Salafis for unprecedented talks, chaired by Crown Prince Abdullah. But this is little more than window-dressing. The Wahhabi establishment has no appetite for the discussions and has made clear it is not in the reform business. For the first time, leading Saudi figures are talking privately of schism and the possibility of religious war.

So there are no comfortable options for the Saudi royal family. Announce a hurried series of reforms and the princes will be seen to have bowed to American pressure and will face the wrath of the clergy. Do nothing, and even the moderates will turn against them and into the arms of the extremists. Offer government posts to the Shia, curb the powers of the ubiquitous religious police — the Mutawa — and another backlash would follow.

Meanwhile, al-Qaida attacks with relative impunity. Some security experts believe that key installations like Ras Tanoura and Abqaiq the world's largest oil processing complex, are vulnerable, to attack. Questions about the competence and loyalty of elements within the security forces are denied by the authorities. Nevertheless, recent attacks have revealed intricate personal and tribal links between those forces and the violent jihadis.

Revolution may not be imminent, but the security situation seems bound to deteriorate, provoking fresh splits in the kingdom's complex political and religious architecture.

Without a clear plan of action, it's not surprising that the Saudi leadership has put its head in the sand.

Dr. Mai Yamani is an associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs

Then consider the absolutely key role in the American Empire's global military-economic control that is played by the near-inexhaustible total Saudi oil reserves and the near-inexhaustible elasticity of suddenly-increased-output-in-a-crisis that Saudi oil has always supplied the USA with, — always provided, of course, that Saudi remains securely within the American camp under its stifling regime of feudal-monarchy stooges, (a problem examined in last week's EPSR in the context of possible fuses for sparking off World War III).

And then add on top of that the possibility that complete anarchic mayhem may predominate briefly in Saudi in the painful break-up of this dreadful old conservative-feudal tyranny, leading on to who knows what new social forces asserting their superior strength or dynamism, possibly greatly affected by dramatic transformations taking place by then in such potentially overwhelmingly influential Arab and Middle East countries as Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and Algeria.

Can't all happen that quick????

It all depends on whether the historical tide has really turned or not.

The fate of the Zionist-imperialist genocidal colonial seizure of the land of the Palestinian nation to create the land of "Israel" by murderous ethnic cleansing, could be the telltale symbol of how far and how fast the historical tide is turning.

Hitherto, the existence of "Israel", its "right to exist", has been sacrosanct in "free world" ideology, a principle that cannot even be challenged.

Not any more. Today, the "unthinkable" is not merely possible but is almost with us, — a re-examination of the whole insane issue of implanting a Western monopoly-capitalist Jewish colony by force of arms right in the heart of an existing Arab nation's homeland, driving out the native Palestinians from the lands they are historically inseparable from and in which they have been the overwhelmingly dominant people for the last 1,500 years, — twice as long as England has been the homeland of the English.

The difficulties the Zionist tyranny is now in are mounting almost as rapidly and terrifyingly as the crisis conditions bringing the American Empire towards total paralysis and total defeat.

Indeed, one disgusting mess is a crucial part of the other, with their fates almost certainly inseparably intertwined.

The defeat of the American Empire almost certainly implies the overthrow of the Zionist tyranny as well, -and vice versa.

Latest humiliations for this sick Jewish religious warmongering have been self-inflicted, — as revealed appropriately (although disgracefully censored and mealy-mouthed) in the monopoly-capitalist press itself.

Between the deliberately played-down lines, a mini-exodus is revealed, — colonising Jews, driven out again by the strength and ferocity of the gaoled Palestinian nation's heroic fightback against its terrorised ethnic-cleansing expulsion from its own country:

The Polish Embassy says it has seen a marked increase in applications: 2,500 so far this year, up from 1,500 in 2003 and 500 in 2002.

Ilan Charsky, a Tel Aviv lawyer, is handling more than 2,000 applications. Hundreds of people who applied before Poland joined the EU have already obtained citizenship, he said, and he receives between 50 and 70 new clients a day, the vast majority highly educated.

Any Israeli descendant of a person born in Poland can apply, even second or third-generation, immigrants, if they can prove a blood relation to a parent or grandparent with the relevant birth certificate. Only after the father is registered as a citizen can the second generation apply.

A few minutes' drive away, others are filling out similar forms in the Hungarian mission, where consular officials handle 250 applications a week, and have noticed a significant increase in the past few months.

Efrat Schwartz, 26, said she had already completed one degree and hoped to do another in the land of her grandparents' birth, which she had never visited.

"The main reason is economic, but also the security problems here. It's not nice to go out every day and be afraid there's going to be a bomb. You get tired of the conflict."

HOLOCAUST survivors holding applications to regain citizenship of the land where once they faced persecution gathered in the shade of a stunted palm tree in Tel Aviv. Dozens of Israeli pensioners, reading Hebrew newspapers but chatting in Polish, greeted old friends who also fled Poland after September 1939, escaping the fate of countless less fortunate relatives.

Few of these Jewish grandparents actually plan on moving back to Poland or any of the Eastern European countries that have just joined the European Union. But are here at the behest of their Israeli-born children and grandchildren, who have taken note of the entry of ten new countries into the EU and realised the .benefits of having Polish or Hungarian-born ancestors. Some are businessmen seeking to increase work opportunities, others are fearful of rising Middle Eastern tensions.

Moshe Laschuv, 70, who was born in Plaszow. "I don't want the passport for myself, I went through all the wars here; that's  not the reason. I want it for my six grandchildren. You don't know what will happen here in 20 or 30 years' time."

It is no small irony that the mini-exodus comes at the height of anti-European feelings in Israel, where it is now a mantra that the continent harbours deep and abiding anti-Semitism and is congenitally biased against Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.

Surviving life on a constantly-attacked military frontier is one thing if it is a temporary situation on the way to guaranteed future everlasting peace and prosperity.

It is another thing entirely if it is a miserable existence which can only be heading towards even more difficult and dangerous times in the future, with a guarantee only of NEVER having any peace, — EVER.

No wonder the rats are deserting the sinking ship. And now sections of the military seem to be heading towards a full-scale political revolt against the filthy NAZI-blitzkrieg tyranny they are called upon to PERMANENTLY inflict on the effectively totally captive Palestinian people.

Once again, the facts have to be patchworked together from a "report" in the capitalist press which saw this as a story for highlighting the exploits of the Israeli military police clamping down firmly:

The exhibition, Breaking the Silence, features photos taken by around 80 soldiers who served in Hebron, and their videotaped testimonies.

They describe a day-to-day routine of humiliating Palestinians, and their dismay at the behaviour of the 600 Jewish settlers they protect. Some tell of harassing a Palestinian bride and groom, others of throwing stun grenades at children for fun. The soldiers behind the exhibition say they want to show Israel how its young soldiers, as well as the Palestinians, become brutalised by the mundane reality of occupation.

The gallery at Tel Aviv College has become an arena for bitter argument and earnest questioning. The soldiers have been accused of treachery and revealing information that should be kept secret.

At the entrance of the exhibition are 24 portraits — 22 men, a women and a dummy — all in uniform. "Every mother should know that, however cute their son was before he went into the army, he will emerge very different after three years — not knowing right from wrong," one soldier explained.

There are many pictures of Palestinians who are blindfolded and bound, either in a jeep or on the street. In one photo, two Palestinians sit by a wall and an Israeli soldier stands before the camera holding his crotch.

"These guys were on the street during a curfew. Maybe they didn't know. We just took them for four hours and then let them go. It becomes very easy to do after a while," said Micha Kurtz, one of the exhibition organisers.

He said that the first time he heard of soldiers taking pictures of themselves together with dead Palestinians, he was shocked. But after a while he got used to it He even heard of one soldier having his picture taken together with a severed head.

 A spokesman for the Israeli army said that military police would investigate the allegations of violence against Palestinians and damage to Palestinian property.

All the soldiers are keen not to be associated with the Refusal to Serve movement or the Israeli left, but privately say around 60 of those who served in Hebron will avoid serving again, either by direct refusal or by "grey refusal" claiming mental illness of some kind.

Hebron has 600 Jewish settlers and 120,000 Palestinians. The exhibition also features countless pictures of settler vandalism and graffiti with racist and fascist undertones. A car sticker says in Hebrew: Becoming religious gives us the power to kick out the Arabs.

One soldier testified: "What I understood finally, after six months, was that we were guarding the Palestinians from the Jews; we weren't there to guard and protect the Jews. The Jews are the ones who threaten the Palestinians more in this area."

The soldiers who put on the exhibition could not be contacted yesterday, but previously they had accused the army of trying to harass them with an investigation. Israeli military police yesterday interrogated five reserve soldiers who put on an exhibition detailing the "banal evil" of their occupation of the Palestinian city of Hebron.

A video of testimonies by 70 soldiers was confiscated, as was an archive of newspaper clippings.

"We would be quite happy if they were going to investigate the crimes committed against Palestinians. But this is just an attempt to keep us quiet. The problem is not with what the soldiers say they have seen, it is with the army as a whole," said Yonathan Boumfeld, one of the organisers.

This disgusting pro-Israeli slant of the Western monopoly-imperialist media (and most of the fake-"left" publications too) has just been quantitatively and qualitatively analysed by Greg Philo and Mike Berry in a Glasgow University Media Group book called Bad News From Israel (Pluto Press):

Its findings confirm what so many impartial observers already know. The main overall conclusion is that there is a clear bias in television news bulletins in favour of the Israelis. The researchers discovered that there is a "preponderance of official Israeli perspectives", particularly on BBCl, where Israelis were interviewed or reported more than twice as often as Palestinians.

American politicians who support Israel appeared more often than politicians from any other country, and twice as often as those from Britain. There are also major differences in the language used to describe the two sides, with Israel benefiting from its official statist position and the Palestinians suffering as stateless rebels.

Most important of all is the lack of context and history. The research reveals that television viewers are largely unaware of the origins of the conflict and are therefore confused by what they are told and see in nightly reports. There are substantial gaps in their knowledge, with few showing any awareness of the 1967 occupation let alone the 1948 founding of the Israeli state on Palestinian lands. Many viewers told the researchers they saw the conflict as a border dispute between two countries.

 One viewer said: "The impression I got [from news] was that the Palestinians had lived around about that area and now they were trying to come back and get some more land for themselves. I didn't realise they had been driven out of places in wars previously."

There was a tendency for viewers to see the problems as "starting" with Palestinian action and that the Israeli forces were therefore "responding" to what had been done to them by Palestinians. This apparently influenced many viewers to blame Palestinians for the conflict.

One 20-year-old interviewee said he thought the conflict was about Palestinian rather than Israeli aggression. He had no idea that the Israelis were occupying Arab-owned land.

The research illustrated the fact that Israeli rather than Palestinian casualties were more likely to receive TV news attention. A study of one week in March 2002, during which the BBC reported that there had been the greatest number of Palestinian casualties since the start of the intifada, showed there was more coverage of Israeli deaths.

There were also differences in the language used by reporters for Israelis and Palestinians: terms such as atrocity, brutal murder, mass murder, lynching and slaughter were used to describe Israeli deaths but not Palestinian. The word "terrorist" was used to describe Palestinians but when an Israeli group was reported as trying to bomb a Palestinian school, they were referred, on both BBCl and ITV, as "extremists" or "vigilantes".

What is remarkable about the survey is its comprehensiveness, with researchers having examined 200 news programmes and conducted interviews with more than 800 people.

Greg Philo, who led the three-year project, says: "It was a huge enterprise which has pushed forward research by bringing together academics, journalists and members of the public in order to try to resolve key questions in really interesting and absorbing study groups".

Among the journalists were high-profile broadcasters such as George Alagiah and Brian Hanrahan from the BBC and Lindsey Hilsum from Channel 4 News.

Hilsum says: "We do face a continual problem in providing history and context because, given the length of our reports, we have to decide whether to include another fact to do with the contemporaneous event or put in some history. And, to be honest, one can't go back to 1948 every time.

"But the study does make valid points, especially over the use of the word 'retaliation' when the Israelis assassinate someone, because it's usually the case that Palestinian suicide bombers are retaliating too. I am now more careful about this".

The study shows the crucial importance of TV news in informing public opinion and the powerful influence it can have on how we see and understand our world.

It also shows too how news can fail to inform, and the researchers do suggest different and innovative approaches to improve the quality of news. The study also raises serious questions for broadcasters — indeed, all journalists — about their responsibility in trying to tell the truth to the public while maintaining impartiality.

There is no hope whatever, of course, of the capitalist state media (public or private) ever being reformed in any direction, let alone along these wishful-thinking lines.

But the fact that serious worries are now being expressed exactly reflects the fact that history is now turning, and that the catastrophic World War III implications of the West's imperialist-tyranny past, now all catching up with it in the morass of this insoluble political-economic crisis, are beginning to penetrate and disturb even the cynical ignorance and arrogance of the bourgeois media.

And in this changing climate, even Tory MPs are now putting a small delicate boot in:

The Israeli Defence Force deployed on the border between Egypt and Gaza saw fit to open fire on a group of unarmed people inspecting the area, who had arrived in clearly marked UN vehicles. The fact that three of us were British politicians, from the three main parties, and included a Labour Friend of Israel made the event newsworthy.

The same treatment had been meted out to representatives of Save the Children 48 hours earlier and, of course, fatally to Tom Hurndall and James Miller last year. The 104 Palestinians who died in Gaza in May alone attracted rather less attention.

We were fortunate in that the aim of the fire was to drive us away. While it succeeded, we had already borne witness to the destruction being wrought by the Israelis to people's homes along the border.

What is so depressing is that the Israeli people seem prepared to accept policies not only of such moral and legal bankruptcy, but also so self-destructive in the long term. Aside from the moral issue, it surely cannot be sensible to manufacture hatred that will take generations to dissipate.

Israel's illegal and immoral counter-terrorism strategy helps no one

The rest of this "calm down" line is of course the most poisonous anti-violence propaganda, but even this is now being overwhelmed by bourgeois press admissions that Zionist mad-dog tyranny is going completely and dangerously out of control:

The invasion of Tel Sultan marked the start of the Israel's Operation Rainbow, which to date has claimed the lives of at least 42 Palestinians: men and boys, militants and innocents. Some were shot during helicopter air strikes, others by tank missiles or snipers.

Ten were wiped out in one go in an army strike on Wednesday, during a peaceful demonstration. Hundreds of houses have been demolished and thousands left homeless as troops encroached on Rafah refugee camp.

Each day of Operation Rainbow brought distressing sights and new tales of human suffering. There was the ambulance driver who opened the rear of his vehicle outside Rafah's Abu Yousef Al Najar Hospital on Tuesday to find the body of his dead brother.

There was the sweet-faced boy, his left arm almost totally severed at the shoulder in Wednesday's rally attack, who pleaded with surgeons before he passed away: "Please, help me doctor. I don't want to die."

There was the 58-year-old man who broke down on Thursday as he recounted how his house in the Brazil refugee camp neighbourhood had just been bulldozed before his eyes, and he did not know where his nine daughters and wife were.

The home-made rockets and improvised bombs of the hooded militants who lurk in Rafah's alleyways once darkness falls are no match for the military might of Israel with its high-tech, US-manufactured weapons.

Why, asks Rafah's mayor, Saeed Zuroub, in his raspy voice, when world' technology can detect petroleum deep in the ground, must the Israeli army demolish houses in search of crudely dug smuggling tunnels? "Why," screams a furious local politician at a US journalist, "is my blood cheap but yours not?"

Rafah town and its surrounding refugee camp is a ramshackle conglomeration of shoddily built cinder-block houses, its dusty streets choked with festering rubbish. It is home to almost 150,000 Palestinians, more than half of them registered as refugees from the war of independence which followed the creation of the Israeli state in 1948.

The old people here can tell you the long-forgotten Arabic names of their ancestral villages, now in Israel. Many young people here have never been outside the squalid environs of the tiny Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated parts of the world and home to some 1.3 million stateless Palestinians.

Rafah is one of the poorest places in the occupied Palestinian territories, with agriculture providing the main source of income for many. Like border towns in many parts of the world, there is a healthy trade in smuggling. In addition to weapons, cigarettes and even medicines are brought from Egypt.

Since the outbreak of the current Palestinian intifada or uprising against Israeli occupation in September 2001, Israel has been tearing down houses in Rafah's refugee camp to extend its border buffer zone, called the Philadelphia Road. Some 1,800 homes have been demolished in the camp since then, according to the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, which says such massive destruction of civilian property is illegal.

It is here that Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American peace activist, was killed in March 2003, crushed beneath an Israeli Defence Force (IDF) bulldozer as she tried to prevent house demolitions.

The demolitions of the past week began in Block O of the camp, which is one of the parts closest to the Egyptian border. People living there hastily loaded their belongings on to donkey-drawn carts and fled to relatives' homes in other neighbourhoods further from the border, which they thought would be safer.

One of these was Tel Sultan, which was subsequently sealed off by Israeli army tanks.

But they weren't. They were razing it, the bulldozer's blade slowly biting into the sheeting and grinding the crops into the sandy soil On the road nearby, another bulldozer was busy gouging the tarmac.

People slowly drifted back on to the streets and went to inspect the remains of their collapsed homes. The sounds of rousing funeral speeches mingled with the almost constant buzz overhead of drone aircraft and helicopter gunships, as well as sporadic cracks of gunfire in neighbourhoods that were still occupied.

In front of them stand two tanks, and the bulldozers are parked off the road among the wreckage of greenhouses. Since early morning, they have been hard at work, flattening more greenhouses, including those belonging to the Berek family.

Falah's brother Isam (22), had looked on as the family's only source of income was demolished; four large greenhouses with herbs, watermelons and vegetables.

"Tomorrow they might advance a bit more," says Isam. "And then you'll be coming here looking for my house and asking people what happened to me."

Falah's father Faiz (56), a lanky man with deep lines scored into his face, says the family is living in fear of the troops, but will stay in the house. "We have no other place to go, and dying here is better than leaving."

It has always been the same, of course, but only now is it beginning to be heard about, because the global anti-imperialist fightback, — of which the Palestinian Intifada is the most heroic example, right at the core of the ideology of resistance now sweeping the world, — is starting to frighten and threaten by "terrorism" the entire "free world" nonsense by which the Western imperialist nations have lorded it over the planet for so long, enjoying the grotesque inequality of their living standards compared to the routine Third World suffering.

But no admissions or concessions will hold back revolutionary developments now. Build Leninism. EPSR

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This "Spark" is a grotesque insult to Bolshevism.

The last thing that the "revolutionary upheaval" splitting the ranks of SLP/Lalkar is about is anything remotely to do with REVOLUTION and the Marxist understanding of it.

The "new" propagandist onslaught on the youth market by Spark is the stalest reformist rubbish imaginable.

The museum Stalinism of Brar & Co is, beyond dispute, so well past its sell-by date as to be a sad object of sympathy and ridicule; but replacing this with the sort of motor-mouth shallow ranting that gets kids' Saturday-morning television such a deservedly bad reputation for mindlessness, is not a way forward.

Every breathless sentence shows up the unthinking British-"left" mentality of reformism; and these glossy pages of insular trivial drivel culminate in a 20-year review of the Great Miners Strike which simply REASSERTS every reformist delusion that led the NUM to destruction and from which Scargill still has learned nothing.

Matters aren't helped by starting the "new" Spark with bombastic philistinism: "Forget talking about it, what about doing something to change our situation for the better?"

Not a good beginning for building a Leninist "party of a new type, — a party of revolutionary theory".

Activist parties are ten a penny, — Labour, LibDems, Greens, Nationalists of various hues, Reclaim the Streets anarchists, Class War, etc, etc, etc, etc.

What built the Bolshevik Party was "What Is To Be Done" and another 50 volumes like it, plus a further 100 volumes of Marx and Engels and other supportive works of theoretical polemics to destroy the influence of every kind of fake-"left" propaganda offering "emancipation" to the toiling, exploited, and colonised billions.

But it is the class perspective of the shallow hype in the "new" Spark which is the saddest feature.

It is apparently only "bad pay" and the "threat of unemployment" which make work under capitalism such a bad deal.

It is only "council estates and run-down neighbourhoods" which make the private property system such social poison.

Working class youth only get harassed by the police "because the system doesn't know how else to deal with the social problems it creates."

Capitalist educations philosophy and principles are only no good "because it's us who get the bum deal".

And even the degradation of drugs and street violence are only slated because it is workers who get addicted and suffer, and even that only happens "because we're fighting amongst ourselves", apparently.

It becomes instantly clear that all these problems are only posed in terms of an instant and constant reformist struggle to overcome them.

And the words spell it out:

"Spark is about promoting the conscious message in our culture [a free CD about "adolescent ways", "colour blind", etc, etc].... and educating ourselves about positive ways of dealing with and solving our own problems. Because no teachers, local councillors, MPs, police, charities, or companies will do it for us".

More and more pages of purely reformist challenges to the derided achievements of Blair's Britain follow.

Apart from some obscure sounds on the CD, the question of REVOLUTION, or of capitalist society collapsing into a REVOLUTIONARY crisis, just does not exist for "new" Spark.

The entire mentality throughout is to demand comparatively higher standards in everything, — "European" standards of income and affluence are needed; the problem with work under capitalism needs solving by restoring 4 million manufacturing jobs lost in Britain since the 1970s; education can be put right by emulating European standards and getting more working-class youth into the universities; and the DIY solve our own problems" can score gold with the youth "if we get hold of the facilities to help us such as music equipment, youth clubs, and sports facilities" at present not available, apparently, "because the yuppies and snobs are moving in, and for them, we are problems to be squeezed out of the area, our areas."

The reformist delusion is finally stated with full manifesto bluntness:

"We do not believe that young people should be discriminated against in pursuing education simply because they cannot afford it. We want an education system which is geared towards working class people, and not just a minority of middle class and upper class people who benefit from this capitalist society."

Hardly a communist manifesto.

Even the Labour Party in about 1900 was vastly more coherent, forceful, demanding, and revolutionary-minded.

This sad, insular, reformist drivel does finally mention the great world outside, — the global warmongering crisis of the international imperialist system, — but politely asks:

"Britain should stop invading and occupying other peoples countries".

And that's it. The fact that large parts of the Third World are fuming in revolt against Western imperialist domination's "free world" system forms no part of these Sparkists' "conscious culture".

Exactly the opposite. The world's masses are by implication just passive objects of history, in Spark eyes, whose well-being is only guaranteed if the imperialist West could

"stop spending so much money on the industry of death, — arms and war, — and respect the independence of nations and peoples across the world."

Worse still, not only does the titanic anti-imperialist armed struggle which is humiliating the American Empire across the Middle East not exist as far as "new" Spark sees the world, but no defeat for imperialist warmongering is on the horizon at all, of any kind.

We are back to Stalin's insane "peaceful coexistence" delusions where talking nicely is enough to persuade imperialist warmongering to give up after seeing the error of its ways:

"Only by ending the oppression of the Third World and by investing in our own social problems can peace, self-determination, and prosperity be guaranteed."

This truly monstrous gobshite continues the disarming of the world's masses by Stalinist Revisionist imbecility which destroyed the Soviet workers state by self-liquidation, wrecked the international communist movement, and laid the ordinary people of the planet open to World War III devastation, coming soon if not here already.

Needless to say, the revolutionary overthrow of the imperialist system just doesn't even exist as a concept for these petty-bourgeois reformist fake-"lefts".

Compare this Spark reformist insularity with Lenin's 1904 May Day leaflet, written when not much older that these SLP stooges, bristling with enthusiasm for the signs the merely embryonic international proletariat (at that stage) was already showing of a willingness for total anti-imperialist struggle, a universal militancy now utterly dwarfed by the level and ferocity of struggle today, which the Sparkists cannot even see, apparently, and never mention,& see only suffering instead:

The workers of all lands are fighting to free labour from wage slavery, from poverty and want. They are fighting for a system of society where the wealth created by the common labour will go to benefit, not a handful of rich men, but all those who work.

They want to make the land and the factories, mills, and machines the common property of all toilers. They want to do away with the division into rich and poor, want the fruits of labour to go to the labourers themselves, and all the achievements of the human mind, all improvements in ways of working, to improve the lot of the man who works, and not serve as a means of oppressing him.

The great struggle of labour against capital has cost the workers of all countries immense sacrifices. They have shed rivers of blood in behalf of their right to a better life and real freedom. Those who fight for the workers' cause are subjected by the governments to untold persecution.

But in spite of all persecution the solidarity of the workers of the world is growing and gaining in strength. The workers are uniting more and more closely in socialist parties, the supporters of those parties are mounting into millions and are advancing steadily, step by step, towards complete victory over the class of capitalist exploiters.

And the events Russia is now passing through are such that this awakening of the worker masses is bound to be even more rapid and widespread, and we must strain every nerve to unite the ranks of the proletariat and prepare it for even more determined struggle. The war is making even the most backward sections of the proletariat take an interest in political affairs and problems. The war is showing up ever more clearly and vividly the utter rottenness of the autocratic order, the utter criminality of the police and court gang that is ruling Russia.

Our people are perishing from want and starvation at home — yet they have been dragged into a ruinous and senseless war for alien territories lying thousands of miles away and inhabited by foreign races. Our people are ground down in political slavery — yet they have been dragged into a war for the enslavement of other peoples. Our people demand a change of political order at home — but it is sought to divert their attention by the thunder of guns at the other end of the world.

But the tsarist government has gone too far in its gamble, in its criminal squandering of the nation's wealth and young manhood, sent to die on the shores of the Pacific. Every war puts a strain on the people, and the difficult war against cultured and free Japan is a frightful strain upon Russia. And this strain comes at a time when the structure of police despotism has already begun to totter under the blows of the awakening proletariat. The war is laying bare all the weak spots of the government, the war is tearing off all false disguises, the war is revealing all the inner rottenness; the war is making the preposterousness of the tsarist autocracy obvious to all and is showing everyone the death-agony of the old Russia, the Russia where the people are disfranchised, ignorant and cowed, the Russia that is still in serf bondage to the police government.

The old Russia is dying. A free Russia is coming to take its place. The dark forces that guarded the tsarist autocracy are going under. But only the class-conscious and organised proletariat can deal them their death-blow. Only the class-conscious and organised proletariat can win real, not sham, freedom for the people. Only the class-conscious and organised proletariat can thwart every attempt to deceive the people, to curtail their rights, to make them a mere tool in the hands of the bourgeoisie.


Even the idea of learning lessons from history, the ABC of Marxist science, does not ring a bell with these silly posturers.

The NUM strike of 1984-85 is simply lauded as "heroic", and Scargill & Co lionised as "the backbone of our party who will stand forever as the most militant, most principled leadership that the working class has seen in this country".

But no conclusions at all are drawn from the defeat of the miners strike by totally mobilised capitalist-state brutality, sheltering behind Labour Party and TUC compliance.

It is merely noted that this is what happened.

Scargill's role in leading the miners on to having faith that one day, a restored Labour Government and a restored reformist Plan For Coal, backed by the TUC, would at last give the miners the justice that Thatcher's state was denying them, — is simply ignored.

The NUM's refusal to learn the lesson that reformist strike pressure is ultimately useless against a desperate and determined imperialist economic system in crisis, — is just not discussed.

The slow-wittedness of Scargill in continuing to mislead the working class into support for the Labour Party for eleven more years — after their treachery in letting the NUM be smashed and the coal industry destroyed, — does not rate a mention.

The utter stupidity of the rump NUM lobby in dictatorially ensuring that the SLP should never stray from the reformist path, once Scargill did finally make a break from Labour, has not occurred to these Spark dimwits.

The self-destruction by the vanguard of the working class through being misled into an UNWINNABLE reformist-pressure strike, — has not yet registered with the Spark, twenty years later.

The need to draw REVOLUTIONARY conclusions about a dying imperialist economic system like Britain's which would rather destroy its own coal industry rather than be put under any further reformist pressure by militant trade-unionism, — is a non-subject for these tragic acolytes of Scargill's TUC bossism.

And with not even any discussion of any of these issues in what is billed as a "review of the lessons of the 1984-85 miners strike", - it is clear that a serious interest in Marxist-Leninist science is as alien to Spark as it has always been to Scargill and the SLP.

This "new" Spark is a wretchedly sad development. EPSR

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).

The decision by the governments to put off intensive negotiations until September means that they have bought into the time frame set down by the DUP. Once again, the governments are allowing unionism to set the pace. This is unacceptable.

Intimnidation of catholics by diehard Orange bigotryTone said during his trial in 1798: 'From my earliest youth, I have regarded the connection between Ireland and Great Britain, as the curse of the Irish nation; and felt convinced, that, whilst it lasted, this country could never be free nor happy.'

We are proud to be Irish republicans in the tradition of Tone and we assert here at this graveside that neither the people of Ireland nor Britain can be truly free or happy while British jurisdiction remains in any part of Ireland.

Our primary political objectives, therefore, remain an end to partition, an end to the Union, the construction" of a new national democracy, a new republic, on the island of Ireland, and reconciliation between Orange and green.


Key to achieving this is the hard, tedious, difficult work of building political strength. By building that strength we will build the capacity to move both the British Government and the unionists and to influence the political agenda in this state.

Last November, Sinn Féin took another step forward in achieving our goals. This party became the largest pro-Agreement party in the North, a significant achievement for a party which, for over three decades, was demonised, marginalised and whose members and families have been the targets of assassination.

Last weekend, Sinn Féin broke the mould of Irish politics by electing Mary Lou McDonald and Bairbre de Brún to the European Parliament and by electing councillors right across the southern state.

The front page of An Phoblacht sums it up — 342,000 votes, 2 MEPs, 232 Councillors, 24 MLAs, 5 TDs and 4 Mps.


We have come a long way from the Ard Fheis 21 years ago when I said: 'If Sinn Féin stands on the sidelines, separate from and isolated from the people, we cannot hope to attract support for what looks like a vague Utopian image of some perfect ?ire Nua of the future. The solution is for Sinn Féin to get among the people in the basic ways that people accept — this means new approaches and difficult and perhaps risky political positions have to be faced up to by us.'

We have developed those new approaches. We have taken difficult and risky decisions.

We have demonstrated time and time again a preparedness to go on the political offensive, to take initiatives and go toe to toe with our political opponents in the battle of ideas, as well as in the hard job of building workable political partnerships.


A year and a half ago, the British Government suspended the political institutions in the North at the behest of unionism.

Irish republicans have made serious and repeated efforts to work with the two governments and unionists to find a way to resolve this crisis in the process.

Sinn Féin is again engaged in detailed and intense discussions with the two governments. These have been ongoing for some months, including during the recent election campaign, and have now reached a new intensity of dialogue.

Our objective is clear — to restore the political institutions and end the crisis in the process.
Consequently, Sinn Féin is pressing for a comprehensive and holistic package, which deals with all of the outstanding matters in a way that is definitive and conclusive.

In our negotiations with the governments, and in our efforts to achieve a package of measures that will secure progress, we have focused on a number of key issues. These include the need for full participation in the political institutions; the issues of policing and justice, including the transfer of powers to the Assembly; the issue of armed groups and arms; and the issues of human rights, equality and sectarianism.

There are also matters that are clearly the responsibility of the two governments, as well as issues for the Review.

Sinn Féin is committed to playing a full and productive role in resolving these matters.

This means more challenges ahead for Irish republicans.

This means republicans facing up to these challenges, sure in our belief in our republican analysis and confident in our peace strategy.

The reality is that if the political will exists — and republicans have that political will — then we can all collectively make progress. Consequently, the intense efforts to agree a package must continue until there is an agreement or until we have exhausted all possibilities of agreement.

The decision by the governments to put off intensive negotiations until September means that they have bought into the time frame set down by the DUP. Once again, the governments are allowing unionism to set the pace in the process. This unacceptable.

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