Le Pen is not expected to win, or even do well, in the second round vote against the conservative candidate Jacques Chirac, because the social democrats, communists and other left Parties now have no choice but to vote for Chirac in order to stop Le Pen.
Behind this awful situation has been a growing disappointment and disenchantment with the right wing social democracy of Jospin -- not helped by a particularly lack-lustre election campaign.
At the same time the fascists of the French National Front (FN) have increased their share of the vote, particularly in Provence, with a sickening cocktail of anti-immigrant racism, nationalism and calls for more "law'n order" (including the death penalty).
The capitalist crisis, a cause throughout the world of growing insecurity and social alienation, is undoubtedly a factor in the upsurge of racism and xenophobia. It also reflects the lack of an effective political counter-offensive to racism and those who peddle such filth.
Though it's not news, the French Communist Party has failed the working class and must bear some responsibility for the present situation. It has suffered a long slide to the right from a revisionist Euro-communist position in the 1970s to one that is now nothing more than social democratic.
This has opened the door to Trotskyist groups and other small anti-establishment parties all eager to fill the gap on the left with their own brand of pseudo revolutionism.
The result of this was the splitting of the left vote. No fewer than eight left Parties stood in this election and even though none of them were likely to win, they all took votes away from Jospin.
Now many French voters who couldn't bring themselves to vote for Jospin because he was too right wing for them have to vote for Chirac instead!
None of this is peculiar to France. Britain also has its racists andfascists. It is also sufferingthe effects ofthe capitalist crisis. Tony Blair is a right wing leader in a similar mould to Jospin. And here too some go around wringing their hands and saying that they cannot bring themselves to vote Labour because the Blair government is too right wing.
On Thursday there will be local elections in Britain. As in France there will be neo-nazi parties standing. There will also be a tiny handful of left parties standing. No one, including the candidates themselves, expects to see the red flag flying over any Town Hall on Friday morning.
The votes the small left Parties do get won't come from disgruntled Tories or Lib Dems -- they will come from Labour. In some places, particularly where the fascists have focused their attention, the British National Party or National Front could benefit from any reduction in the Labour vote especially if there is a low turnout. Voting Labour is the only way to firmly shut the door on the racists and fascists.
At the same time there are many policies of Blair and Jospin that must be fought against tooth and nail. This needs to be done in public demonstrations, within the labour movement, through pressure on MPs and Councillors and through building and supporting local and national campaigns on domestic and international issues.
It is important too at this time to stand with and not against, the growing number of Labour MPs that are taking the fight to Blair inside the House of Commons to prevent a new war against Iraq. Vote Labour on 2 May!
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by Steve Lawton
JENIN will hang around the neck of Israeii Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as one of the most brutal episodes of Zionist hate in recent times.
A United Nations fact-finding mission is destined to assess Israeli destruction in the Palestinian West Bank town, but the world already knows the nature of the crime and the complicity of the United States administration.
Sharon initially refused to cooperate with the UN team, headed by former Finnish Premier Martti Ahtisaari, and unanimously agreed to by the UN Security Council last Friday. And although he has reluctantly bowed to its mission, it is open to question what it will actually achieve.
Even as the team got ready to go, Israel then objected to its composition. it was too 'humanitarian'; there was "no military presence on the team" an anonymous Israeli official told Reuters. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan nevertheless insists, whatever adjustments are made, the mission will go ahead.
At much the same time the European Union (EU) meeting of foreign ministers plus 10 southern Mediterranean countries ended after two days of talks on the Middle East.
Spanish foreign minister Josep Pique said an EU group on its way to Tel Aviv, with EU security head, former Nato secretary general Javier Solana, was due to meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as we went to press. Sharon had earlier this month prevented Solana and Pique from meeting Arafat.
Amid continuing protests and demonstrations in the United States to reign in Israel, there was also action against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. A powerful Jewish lobby organisation, for the first time in its history it came under attack.
Thousands gathered outside its three-day annual conference in Washington last weekend to protest the re-occupation of Palestinian territories, while half the US Senate and a third of the House deliberated inside.
President George W Bush has to take note of the electoral consequences of prolonged Israeli action. as well as of Arab allies' fears -- especially the Gulf states. A Time/CNN poll suggested 75 per cent of Americans consider Sharon an enemy of the United States; 10 per cent consider him 3 terrorist, while 65 per cent believe him to be untrustworthy.
Almost half, 41 per cent, thought Israeli action in Palestinian lands was "mostly unjustified'. Even stronger reaction was registered at the idea that US troops are sent to intervene for fear of the consequences. But there is also a groundswell of criticism against the US administration for not giving formal recognition of a Palestinian state.
With Arab leaders successively visiting Washington, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who earlier presented a significant new Arab peace plan, was the latest to meet President Bush as we went to press. He first held discussions on the crisis in Jordan and Egypt and with Yasser Arafat.
According to Arafat's aide, Nabil Abu Rudeina, the Saudi leader has the confidence of all Arab states: "Crown Prince Abdullah has assured President Arafat that he will do his best to bring an end to the Israeli aggression and to find 3 solution that would uphold Palestinian and Arab rights."
A Saudi official said his leader "will seek to impress on Bush that Arab public opinion is angry at the United States because of its support for Israel and urge him to end Washington's alignment with Sharon's policies." He warned that the results of these talks "will be decisive for future ArabAmerican relations in general, and Saudi-American relations in particular."
Initial estimates suggest that around 600 homes in the Jenin refugee camp have been destroyed and 200 rendered uninhabitable. That's quite apart from the permanent grief following hundreds killed and deliberately entombed in their own demolished homes.
And although the massive bloodshed has abated, house to house searches, curfews, arrests and sporadic killing persists. The Zionist invader continues to besiege tile Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and to surround Arafat's Ramallah headquarters.
The Church has been sealed off for three weeks by the Israelis, while inside, in dire conditions, Palestinians barely survive as Israel demands the handover of "terrorist" suspects. And Arafat's compound was rocked by an explosion earlier this week, just 20 meters from where he and his aides are imprisoned.
Israeli forces are arresting dozens of Palestinians -- in villages around Bethlehem -- and have begun to move deeper into the southern Gaza Strip. Heavy armour and army bulldozers have been moved into the village of Wadi Salka where an attack was launched.
Addressing Arab leaders, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, in a speech rallying Arabs to the Palestinian cause and justifiying the oil supply cut-off to the US, said: "Don't Arabs have the right to use the elements of their strength to defend their lives, sovereignty, honour and beliefs?"
Reeling off the way the US and Britain have attacked Iraq economically and militarily, and how Britain has "hindered medicine contracts", he said the two countries have "stopped all means of life for Iraqi people to kill them and decrease the number of the population. The US and UK", he went on, "do all these things although their national security is not threatened by our countries."
Israeli barbarism is not an 'isolated act of Zionism. Imperialism has the whip hand. As it rings bases around Russia, stretches forces from Central Asia to the Middle East and presses on with its US-British raids and sanctions on Iraq, it becomes clear what is really meant by terrorism: state terror for territory, resources and private profit.
World reaction has shown this is unacceptable; that Jenin in the 21st Century was meant to have a different future. In a world so small, fewer and fewer canjustify a blind eye, let alone condone Israel. Demonstrations and protests and pressure on the US reveal that there is also no hiding place for imperialism and its Zionist accomplice.
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by Renee Sams
THE BROCKWAY Room in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square was crowded to the doors with people sitting on the floor at the first meeting of Jews for Justice for Palestinians on Monday 22 April.
This organisation was formed only last Febrnary to enable Jews in this country to express their opposition to Israeli policies.
They say that "as well as organising to ensure that Jewish opinions critical of Israeli policy are heard in Britain", they will develop ways of extending support to Palestinian people trapped In the spiral of violence and repression and help Israeli groups working with them.
Chairing the meeting, Irene Bruegel said: "We want to make sure that those who are in opposition to Israeli policies are not alone and isolated.
"We are clearly and very thoughtfully against the military occupation of the West Bank. On the platform was Adah Kay who has just returned from Ramallah having stayed there for some weeks with her husband where they experienced the gunfire and at times total curfew.
She said that the failure of the Sharon government to withdraw from the West Bank was "a fatal mistake".
She was brought up and educated in Israel, her family were Zionists and she intends to return to Israel and take up her job there in the university, where she is doing research on the "right of return".
She spoke of what it was like to live under total curfew, unable to go out into the town.
Her neighbours were very friendly and helpful, and a compound of five houses became a little community, Jews and Palestinians, sharing food and clothes and supporting each other.
They became very dependent on the news, whatever they could get from Israeli radio and television to Ak Jazeera and eagerly awaited emails from friends.
She said she had a feeling of "being suspended in time" and became "glued to thetelevision".
News of demonstrations and meetings all over the world calling for the withdrawal of the military from the West bank and support for the Palestinian cause from all over the world became of great importance to those shut up inside the compound.
Adah stressed whata great help it was in "giving us an enormous morale boost".
When the curfew was lifted, they were finally allowed to go out of their houses and she saw the devastation caused by the tanks and shells, houses now only a pile of rubble and so many people now homeless.
"Ramallah was a poor, shabby place before the army moved in and now Palestinians are distraught. They only want to be left alone, to be able to rebuild their Lives.
"This was done by one of the most sophisticated armies in the world attacking a civilian population."
Adah was angry and felt acute sadness and added: "I feel ashamed to be a Jew."
Another angry Jew was Ronnie Cohen, a "refusenik" who would not accept his call-up papers and serve in the Israeli army as all the citizens of Israel are expected to do.
He said that the figures that the military give on refuseniks are very unclear, although everybody has noticed how many people are not going into the army due to a doctor's certificate of one kind or another.
He thinks this is a way of trying to avoid declaring opposition to the pressure.
One of the pressures is that it is a misdemeanour to refuse to go with a penalty of 35 days in prison. They can do this as many times as they like but there are problems with taking this road, as employees may find that when they come back to work, they no longer have any work for you.
There are now three organisations. he explained, trying to help the families involved and give them support.
It is interesting to note that on a recent survey from one of the universities that as many as 25 per cent understood the reasons, compared to previous figures of just two per cent.
Rabbi Jeffrey Newman. who has many friends and family in Israel, said that they are in great fear after the suicide bombers and he went on to say: "Fear makes people act in irresponsible ways and that is what is happening in Israel now."
He called on Jews to be positive about the situation and call for justice.
"Justice," he said, "is a fundamental Jewish concept. And in this situation they have to be guided by what the Palestinians feel is justice."
Sa'ida Nesseibeh, the cheif executive of Medical Aid for Palestinians, stressed : "It is important for the Palestinians to know what peace groups like Jews for Justice and Just Peace UK are doing.
"They need to know what is going on," she said. They need everything we can do to give, them moral support."
A collection raised over £2000 for Medical Aid for Palestinians.
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THE French staged demonstrations in major cities on Sunday evening to protest against the presence of far rightist Le Pen in the second round of presidential elections scheduled for 5 May, French television reported.
In Paris, people gathered at places of the Bastille, Opera and Republic in the downtown area, protesting against the shock success of Le Pen.
Surveys said he has won ahout 17 to 17.9 percent of the ballots in Sunday's first round, second among the 16 candidates after President Jacques Chirac who got 19.7 to 20 percent. Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin was in the third position and eliminated from the race.
Some 400 people, mostly young, rallied in the southwestern French city of Toulouse, denouncing the candidature of Le Pen, the leader of the anti-immigration Front National (FN) party for the second round.
They chanted such slogans as "We are All Children of Immigrants." reported French television.
In Lyon, France's second largest city, hundreds of students rallied under the slogan of "No to Le Pen."
They Shouted "F is fascist and N is Nazi" as real meaning of the abbreviation of the extreme right FN founded by Le Pen in 1972.
In central and southeastern cities of Dijon and Grenoble, about one thousand people also took to the street in protest against the victory of the far rightist in the first round of the presidential election.
It is the first time in the history of France that a far-right candidate enters the second round of presidential election.
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by Daphne Liddle
ANTI-FASCISTS were out in thousands last weekend in localities where neo-Nazi British National Party candidates are standing in the 2 May local elections, delivering hundreds of thousands of leaflets.
The leaflets, tailored to each locality, spell out the records of BNP candidates and their active supporters locally and nationally and expose the myths and local issues that the BNP is trying to play on.
For example, in many areas the BNP claim the locality is being swamped by asylum-seekers. The anti-fascist leaflets give the real figures of the number of asylum seekers -- usually just a handful.
But there is great concern among anti-fascists: that a low turn out or a divided working class vote could help the fascists.
The results of last week's poll in France being a salutary warning.
A recent ICM poll for the Guardian predicts a turn out as low as 25 or 26 per cent. The all-time previous low was 28 per cent in 1998.
Levels as low as this could allow the fascists to take one or two seats by default.
And among the anti-fascists some from left-wing fringe groups and parties which normally stand against Labour, are recognising that to divide the vote in places where the BNP is standing will only help the fascists.
In the Slade Green ward of Bexley in south-east London, the BNP is standing three candidates.
Rut steady leafleting of the whole ward over the last few weeks has produced some good results.
Last Sunday some 30 leafleters turned out and succeeded in distributing a second, follow-up leaflet to the whole ward.
They found that the first leaflet had been very well received. People out pottering in their gardens on the sunny Sunday morning thanked the leafleters for what they were doing.
One resident had displayed the first leaflet in their window, next to a torn up copy of a BNP newsletter.
One pensioner told the leafleters: "Don't worry, we've got their number."
As the leafleters were finishing up, a party of BNP canvassers were seen going from door to door. The local residents were giving them a very hard time, thanks to the anti-fascist leaflets.
And, because they had harassed anti-fascists before in the campaign, a local police panda car accompanied the BNP as they went about, "just in case" -- something of an embarrassment for the fascists.
The Labour leadership is taking the threat of the BNP gaining a seat or two very seriously, as it did after the success of BNP candidate Derek Beacon in the Isle of Dogs a few years ago.
Then, the Labour response came too late, after the poll. But Labour is beginning to realise that it must address the real concerns or working people, that are exploited by the BNP.
This includes issues like poor housing, low employment prospects, the deterioration of public services and so on.
The BNP exploits these by lying to white people, saying that all the funding is being diverted to ethnic communities.
Labour cannot solve these underlying social problems over night but it is guilty of having neglected them for too long as it panders to the needs of big business and neglects the needs of the working class.
Home Secretary David Blunkett last Wednesday was criticised by anti-fascists for his comments that some schools are being "swamped" with asylum seeker children.
Labour MP Dianne Abbott said this work could "feed people's fears". Tony Blair refused to back this wording.
Mr Blunkett later said he would use the term "overwhelmed" for schools facing real problems.
The problems would not be so big if Government cuts had not done away with specialist teachers for children who need to learn English before they can start learning anything else.
Meanwhile Bill Morris, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, delivered the message from the trade union movement: "Lastyear we saw our communities ripped apart by racial tension, fuelled by the vile message of the BNP.
"As we move towards local government elections, we must step forward with a clear message for the BNP: We are multi-racial. We are multi-cultural. You go away. We are here to stay."
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