The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 26th August 2005

The invisable war on Africans

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by Daphne Liddle

Charles Clarke last Wednesday announced a new set of criteria to be used in deciding to deport foreign nationals who are alleged to be encouraging acts of terrorism.

The new reasons for deporting someone regarded as a dangerous extremist include fomenting terrorism or goading others into carrying out terrorist attacks; justifying or glorifying terrorism; fomenting other serious criminal activity or fostering hatred that could lead to inter-community violence.

 Misusing “a position of responsibility such as teacher, community or youth worker” to foster hatred will also be a reason for deportation or exclusion.

 The clauses follow the 12-point plan mooted by the Prime Minister last month.

 Most of these activities are already covered by existing laws against incitement to violence or any other kind of criminal activity.

 For foreigners there is also an existing criterion – their presence deemed as being not conducive to the public good – which the Home Secretary can use to deport anyone.

 The new laws are being rushed through in the wake of last month’s bombings in London and in a climate in which, an ICM poll tells us, 73 per cent of people in Britain would be prepared to give up their civil liberties in exchange for better protection from terrorist attacks.

 They will do nothing to increase protection from terrorist activity but they will help our increasingly authoritarian government to divide and control us, to scapegoat certain communities and to spread fear and confusion over what is and is not legal.

Civil liberties groups are warning that the new measures are so ill-defined that lawyers will make fortunes from arguing how they should be interpreted.

 In particular terms like “justifying terrorism” are so unclear. This could include supporting campaigns like the Anti-Apartheid movement or the suffragette movement. Almost any kind of liberation struggle – including the American War of Independence – could be described as a form of terrorism. Resistance movements against Nazi occupation in Europe could have been described as terrorist – indeed the Nazis did describe them in exactly this way.

The new laws could leave people, especially those in the Muslim community, afraid to discuss terrorism and its causes in public.

 The Muslim community in Britain is coming under heavier and more hostile scrutiny by the Government and the media. A recent BBC Panorama programme tried to establish common ground between moderate mainstream Muslims and the extremists.

 Every religion has a fringe of fundamentalist extremists. But the media do not hold a local Church of England vicar accountable for the Spanish Inquisition, nor for the truly hate-inspired ravings of Ian Paisley – even though they all claim the same basic beliefs.
afraid to say

Legislation can never govern what people think but it can make them afraid to say what they think. Most Muslims – along with most of the general population – are of the opinion that the London bombings were linked to the British government role in the illegal war on Iraq.

 But if the new laws are taken to their logical conclusion expressing such an opinion could be interpreted as justifying terrorism or even treason.

 “What exactly is meant by ‘terrorism’?” said Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty. “What kind of behaviour constitutes ‘justification’? Could this cover political debate about the circumstances in which it is acceptable to take up arms against non-democratic regimes across the world?

 “Without some further explanation this is vague, counter-productive to the obvious aim of greater clarity, and could be seen as contrary to the ‘UK’s culture of tolerance’, which we all want to protect.

 “For example, before the war in Iraq would it have been seen as justifying terrorism for an Iraqi asylum seeker to voice his opinion that Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator who should be overthrown by violence if necessary?”

 Many are arguing that the new laws will actually make it much harder to prevent terrorism because they will alienate many young Muslims.

 Doug Jewell, the campaign co-ordinator for Liberty, warned that ethnic minority communities would be less likely to act as the eyes and ears of the police and security forces following today’s announcement.

 “The problem with this is that we are dividing communities,” he said. “It makes it much less likely that people will be coming forward with information.”

 If the new proposals are designed to prevent terrorism, they will be useless. But if they are designed to divide the working class in Britain, to scapegoat the Muslim community and to spread confusion and fear, making us all more manageable from the Government’s point of view, there is a serious danger they could work.

 It’s up to us to organise against them.


Gaza first

  Palestinians are quietly rejoicing at the final evacuation of the 8,000 odd Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army dealt with the rabble of Zionist fanatics holding out on the Arab land they stole 38 years ago with a patience never shown to their Palestinian victims. These settlers will go to new homes in Israel with compensation packages worth of up to $400,000. The millions of Palestinians driven from their homes in 1949 and their descendants were left to rot in refugee camps living off United Nations charity.

But Israel’s Gaza Strip pull-out does not mean freedom for the 1.3 million Palestinians confined to this tiny portion of their homeland. All the disengagement means is that the parameters of their prison have been widened.

The Gaza Strip will now become a province of the Palestinian Authority, whose “autonomy” depends on the grace and favour of Tel Aviv. The hated settlers may have gone but the Israeli army is not far away, operating a ring of steel cutting off the Strip from the outside world. The international airport lies empty and unused; the runways destroyed by the Israelis during the last intifada. Gaza port is effectively blockaded by the Israeli navy and Israel controls the border with Egypt and Israel.

The disengagement is, however, a defeat for the most fanatical Zionists within and outside General Sharon’s hard-line Likud bloc. Though Zionist settlements on Arab land have been dismantled before – three in occupied Egypt were closed as part of the first Camp David agreement – this is the first time that any have been removed from  Palestinian territory.

The Sharon coalition government, which includes the Israeli Labour Party, never originally intended to entirely evacuate the Gaza Strip. The continuing armed and civil resistance to the presence of the Israeli army and the Zionist settlers forced their hand. It was simply far too expensive to keep the Israeli army mobilised for the sake of a few thousand settlers. Sharon’s other motives are more devious.

Historically Likud has always represented the most aggressive elements within Zionist society. Past Likud-led governments dreamt of annexing all the occupied territories which they once called “Judea and Samaria” without granting the Arabs Israeli citizenship. This was made impossible by the successive Palestinian uprisings that led to the Oslo deal that accepted the principle of “autonomy” and the second abortive Camp David talks that accepted the principle of withdrawal from most of the occupied territories seized by Israel in the 1967 war.

Despite all the Western talk of “road maps” and the “eventual” establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza it is clear that Israel’s intention is to take all that it wants in the West Bank including the central hub that they call “greater Jerusalem”, leaving the Palestinians with economically unviable enclaves that would inevitably be perpetually dependent on Israel. The concrete wall that Israel has illegally erected virtually marks out the new borders Israel hopes will be sanctified in any future settlement with the Palestinians.

Sharon has essentially taken on board the strategy of his Labour right-wing allies. They have long argued for “disengagement” and years ago argued for a Gaza pull-out under the slogan of “Gaza First”. But it was always disengagement on Israeli terms intended to prevent the Palestinians from ever enjoying genuine independence and above all to ensure that the Palestinian refugees, apart from a tiny fraction, would never be allowed to return to their original homes in Israel itself. At the time cynical Palestinians dubbed the plan “Gaza Last” and that is still the fear today.

Anglo-American imperialism trumpets the values of the United Nations when it suits them and remains silent when it doesn’t. But the UN, the authority that actually established the Zionist entity in the first place, has also laid down Israel’s obligations.

Israel must withdraw from all the occupied Arab lands it seized in 1967. The Palestinian refugees must be given the right to return or paid suitable compensation if they so wish and the Palestinian people must be given the right to self-determination and independence.

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