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(en) Britain, SchNEWS 480, Friday 14th January, 2005

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 14 Jan 2005 16:09:00 +0100 (CET)


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WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT'S YER NOT SITTING ON THE FENCE -- SchNEWS
--- SETTLEMENTAL ---- EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT OF LIFE IN PALESTINE
"The poll, this stilted, shotgun wedding, had a strange energy - drained,
anaemic, and hesitant. Few seemed genuinely enthusiastic. Universal human
rights and international humanitarian law were not honoured guests at this
celebration. Inviting them might have elicited passions.
Had that happened, Abu Mazen might have lost his title of "moderate candidate."
... this was a marriage of convenience, a union without passion or much
optimism, hastily arranged by the tribal elders in Fatah and the Israeli
government to serve their interests," - Quote from www.electronicintifada.net

While the Palestinians were electing a man many said was a thief
who had laundered Palestinian Authority funds, but was the best
chance for negotiations with Israel, I was in the West Bank,
Palestine. Being Jewish and concerned about the blurring of Jewish
and Zionist identity from all sides, I thought it was time to go
and see for myself what Israel is up to. The absurdity of the
Jewish 'right to return' to a country many Jews have never even
visited was made explicit when the Palestinian number plated car I
was in was pulled over by three terrified looking young soldiers.
With M16s pointed at us, one of the soldiers looked at my
passport, saw from my surname that I'm Jewish and demanded to know
why I didn't have an Israeli passport, as it is my right to claim
one. He really couldn't figure out why I was spending my festive
season with a Palestinian, on a Palestine road subjecting myself
to army harassment.

What is most instantly noticeable about the West Bank is the day
to day level of the military occupation. The occupation makes life
as undignified, dehumanised and difficult as possible, not just in
the incursions, house demolitions and massacres but in daily
things like the separate and inferior road systems. Then there's
the check points and road blocks cutting people off from their
families, friends and work, where all Palestinians have to
navigate on foot over mud, concrete mounds and razor wire, with
degrading ID checks and searches. Everyone I met told me of
people, ancestral homes, places like the seaside that they would
like to take their kids, but were unable to visit.

UNSETTLING

With imposing hill top settlements and smaller obnoxiously placed
outposts, the Jewish settlements in the West Bank vary from
massive established 'towns,' (such as Ma'ale Adumin with a
population of 30,000 of mostly poor settlers lured by state
incentives) to rural settlements consisting more of fundamentalist
settlers intent on terrorising their Palestinian neighbours. A
huge amount of construction work is visibly expanding the
settlements beyond what Sharon defends as 'natural expansion,' and
building roads cutting off sections of Palestinian land where it
can be stolen to join settlements together and disrupt Palestinian
life.

The settlers of Itamar and its outposts harassed the 100 villagers
of Yanoun, near Nablus, so much that when settlers murdered a 24
year old harvesting olives the villagers packed their bags and
left, only to return later when internationals offered to live
with them. Staying in the international house I was struck by the
peace of the magnificent landscape, but where outposts dotted the
hills above, keeping constant watch and shining a huge search
light all night on Yanoun below. The Itamar website calls for
donations to fund night surveillance equipment and armoured cars,
whilst the village lives in its shadow.

Visiting Hebron, where over 120,000 Palestinians live alongside
500 Israeli settlers protected by 1200 soldiers, is like visiting
a ghost town. Its market of 500 shops was closed on military order
after a settler fired a machine gun in the Ibrihimi mosque,
killing 29. I saw few amongst the bullet holed and settler
graffitied shop fronts open, and met a shopkeeper who told me of
the collapse of the Hebron economy. He pointed out the settlers
who have moved in to houses overlooking the narrow lanes of the
market, who chuck out so much litter onto the Palestinians below
that the army has built mesh above the streets to protect them. As
we passed under the mesh I noticed it was dented from the impact
of great lumps of concrete thrown down, along with fibreglass roof
insulation, bricks and plastic bottles. An English activist living
in Hebron took me to his home, the only building on the street
leading from the market to a settlement that has not been seized
by the army. Closely observed by a soldier visible only by the
butt of his rifle rustling under combat netting from the house
opposite, I was told about his work accompanying children to
school after they were attacked by settlers with sticks and
chains. More recently the Israeli army have not allowed him to
accompany the children, preferring to do the job themselves,
leading me to wonder how a Palestinian parent might feel handing
their child over to an Israeli soldier for protection.

One Israeli soldier I spoke to told me that he was unhappy having
to protect a Gaza settlement on his reserve duty. Along with most
Israelis, he doesn't agree with the settlers. He talked about the
fear he felt being in the front line of possible 'terrorist'
attacks, and how this is the only context in which he met
Palestinians. I spoke to many people who recounted stories from
older generations where relations between Palestinians and
Israelis were possible. Today, however, the potential for dialogue
is impeded by total separation. For many Palestinians the only
Israelis they meet are soldiers or settlers and for Israelis the
only Palestinians they hear about are the suicide bombers. One
Israeli man I spoke to told me that before the 2nd Intifada he had
Palestinian colleagues at his work in Tel Aviv, but now they are
not allowed into Israel to work and, in any case, 'all
Palestinians are terrorists and animals.'

Offering An Olive Branch

On the last day of the year I found myself with Israeli and
international activists on a tree planting demonstration where
land has been confiscated and olive trees uprooted from the
villagers of Jayyous under the guise of enlarging an existing
settlement. I wondered what had happened to the olive trees that
the villagers had tended for decades and that their economy relies
on. An Israeli told me that they are sold to rich yuppie
house-owners, and then I remembered the newly planted but very old
olive trees I had seen amidst floral displays decorating a
settlement I had driven through the day before. The action felt
eerie, having to walk for almost 2 hours in the midday heat, as
the army decided our route was closed, through the deserted
countryside on a symbolic action with no one to read our placards
and the media uninterested.

The fence built to separate Jayyous from its land is part of the
current plan to build the wall and other obstructions to restrict
movement and to separate and isolate Palestinians from each other
and from Israeli settlements. As one international put it "If you
wanted to put up a fence between your garden and your neighbour's
you would have to put it on your side, right? Apparently the state
of Israel thinks differently; as in most of the West Bank, the so
called "security barrier" is being built well within the 1967
Green Line, so that yet more Palestinian land is confiscated and
effectively annexed to Israel."

See also - www.alternativenews.org and www.electronicintifada.net
and www.icahd.org

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CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK

For playing football...

While western footballers get paid millions and have affairs with
women who masturbate pigs, children as young as six in Hebron are
treated slightly differently. After one child was spotted throwing
a stone at another during a game of football in a deserted street
all eight of them were promptly arrested by Israeli soldiers.

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G8way to Hell

Our great leader, Tory Bliar, promised "personal prosperity for
all" this week if he wins the next election. But as we all know,
he's full of shit. So what to do? You could wait a couple of
years, realise you're still skint and then think about getting
back at him. Or you could do something now...How about
embarrassing him in front of all his friends? As the G8 travelling
circus is coming to Britain this year, Bliar will be trying to put
on a show of how happy everyone in Britain is and how everyone
loves him. Lets show 'em!

The luxury golfing complex is used to hosting conferences for
these types, having (allegedly) hosted the Bilderberg conference
in 1986 (SchNEWS 406). The cops are trying to keep the locals
sweet by giving them free photo's. Only thing is that the photo's
come in the form of an ID card that they all, including children
as young as 8, have to carry for the duration of the summit. Some
ungrateful people haven't been won over by this generous gesture
though and have started to organise protests against the summit.

So, how can you get involved? There are regular local meetings
happening around the country. If there aren't any near you, why
not organise one? Dissent! is a network of local groups who want
to oppose the G8 but don't want to tow another party line either.
The next national Dissent! meeting is in Glasgow on the 12th and
13th of February. See www.dissent.org.uk for more info on the
national meeting and also for details of local groups.

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Trail Of Destruction

The Tsunami may have been unavoidable, but the scale of the loss
was worsened by economic policies which place short term financial
gain over long term sustainability (Surely not? Ed.). Not sending
out warnings fast enough so the tourist industry could get another
precious half-hour of business - with dire consequences - is one
thing, but another is the stripping away of the natural protective
barrier which has stood up to these natural events in the past.
Since the sixties the vast majority of mangrove swamps which line
the coasts around the Indian Ocean have been systematically
destroyed and replaced by shrimp farms and tourist resorts, taking
away the main natural protection from the ravages of the sea. We
know from the recent disaster that areas with dense mangroves in
southern India suffered far less casualties and damage than
coastlines which have none.

As another example we can contrast a tidal surge caused by a
cyclone in Bangladesh in 1960 - with no loss of human life - back
in the days before the mangroves were replaced by shrimp farms.
When a similar wave struck in 1991 thousands were killed.
Mangroves act as a barrier because their roots systems bind the
sea floor together, the flexible branches and tangled aerial roots
absorb much of the sea's impact and the tall stems act like a wall
protecting inland areas.

It's rather ironic that the vegetation was removed for economic
reasons - ie so a quick buck could be made with shrimp farms,
five-star hotels, golf courses and the like - seeing as the cost
of the massive destruction caused by the tsunami outweighs the
profit from these industries several times over (Capitalist in
short-term, unsustainable money making shocker? Again?!). The fact
that mangroves are one of the world's most threatened habitats -
and help prevent climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide in the
water - or that populations have been forcibly removed during this
process doesn't come into the equation.

Shrimp farming has been called a 'rape-and-run' industry by the
UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation. The life cycle of the
farms are short - 2-5 years - after which ponds are abandoned
leaving behind toxic waste, destroyed habitat and displaced
communities. Then it moves onto another bit of pristine coastline.
The World Bank are the people kind enough to stump up the cash for
this enterprise.

The WB's sentiment was summed up nicely when an Indian TV
newsreader asked an honest question of his correspondent reporting
from the scene of destruction in Tamil Nadu in south of India:
"Any idea about how much is the loss to business? Can you find
that out because that would be more important for our business
leaders?"

* Read Devinder Sharma's article at
www.indiatogether.org/2005/jan/dsh-tsunami.htm

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Bridge Too Far

A blockade is going into its seventh week on a metal pedestrian
bridge over the Panamerican Highway 130kms northwest of Guatemala
City to stop mining equipment getting through to the Glamis Gold
Marlin mine near San Marcos, Guatemala. One protester has already
been murdered and seven injured after attacks by the police and
army.

It started when the mining equipment convoy first got to the
bridge and found they were up against several thousand indigenous
farmers and villagers intent on stopping part of it being
dismantled to get large drilling equipment past it. Then when one
of the mining vehicles was set alight the convoy retreated 2km to
a lookout point parking area, where it has been stuck ever since,
protected by private police from the rampaging villagers. The
local mayor is on the side of the protesters, but already the
Guatemalan Interior Ministry have sent in troops and police to try
to escort the convoy to the mine. The protesters are now
threatening to push the mining equipment over a cliff where it is
parked - and good luck to them!

The company Glamis have been lent $45million to develop the mine
by the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank)
without conducting the obligatory consultation of the local
indigenous communities, or complying with the World Banks' own
recommendations regarding negotiations with those affeced by the
project (since when has that stopped a World Bank project?)

Glamis are a mining company who have left a trail of indigenous
peoples' rights violations, contaminated water and pollution
across north America, and are currently using NAFTA laws to file
for $50 million compensation because of actions taken by the State
of California who had the audacity to protect it's environmental
and indigenous communities from the impact of their open cast
mining.

See www.miningwatch.ca for more information.

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SchNEWS in brief


* Brighton's premier pirate station Radio 4A on the airwaves this
weekend 101.4 FM across Brighton www.radio4a.org.uk for info and
streams.

* Demonstrate against plans to build an incinerator in Newhaven
next Thursday (20th) Hove Town Hall 4pm.

* Talk on how aggregate dredging destroys the sea environment next
Thursday (20th) at The Cowley Club, 12 London Rd 6pm

* Resist the G8 South-East Assembly next Saturday (22nd) Room 3D,
University of London Union, Malet Street 2-6pm
uluantiauthoritarians@yahoo.co.uk

* There's a Tsunami benefit next Thursday (20th) with money raised
going to grassroots community groups working with people to
rebuild their lives and livelihoods. Music includes Asian Dub
Foundation soundsystem, Indian dohl drumming, Samba, a Bollywood
Brass band (!), Transglobal Underground's Mantu DJing, a klezmer
band etc It's at Bar Lorca, 261 Brixton Road SW9 £7/£5 Concs
advance tickets www.stargreen.com

* Block the Builders Training Weekend 22-23rd for all those who
want to prepare for nonviolent direct action against the
construction of facilities to build new nuclear weapons at AWE
Aldermaston 07969 739812 www.blockthebuilders.org.uk

* Next Saturday (22nd) The Future of Food: An afternoon to Discuss
Organic, Local & Tasty Food on a Tasty Planet! Speakers include
Vandana Shiva, Jerry Mander, Director of the International Forum
on Globalisation and Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City
University. Tickets are pricey - details 0208 809 2391
peterlang@resurgence.org

* Demonstration outside Downing Street next Thursday (20th) No to
illegal internment - Release the Belmarsh detainees 6-8pm 020 7586
5892 www.stoppoliticalterror.com

------------------------------------------------------------------

Positive SchNEWS

When the eight year old first wrote she said when she grew up she
wanted to become an engineer so she could make an atomic bomb to
kill all the Jews. The Israeli kids were angry, they wanted
another pen pal, not this one who was a 'terrorist' who wanted to
kill them. One of the workers then asked the Israeli kids why they
reckoned she felt like that, and in another letter the girl said
that her life was hard but she didn't mean she wanted her pen pals
to be killed.

Windows for Communication is a joint Israeli-Palestinian project
based in Tel Aviv and the West Bank which aims to get young people
on both sides to talk too each other. The kids work together to
produce a magazine in Arabic and Hebrew that seeks to breakdown
stereotypes. Israeli and Palestinian children also create artwork
together which is displayed in exhibitions in schools, youth clubs
and other places, and some of them meet up in summer camp in and
outside the region, where deeper friendships develop. For most,
this is the only means of communication youngsters will get with
each from either side of the divide.

Call 0207 5035247 or check out www.win-peace.org for more
information.

------------------------------------------------------------------

..and finally...

While Bush plans to splash $50 million on his President
inauguration ceremony, the people who didn't actually vote for the
Iraqi child killing environmental destroying lunatic are getting
together to voice their opposition - by doing nothing. "There's no
rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right wing agenda
to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by doing
nothing. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed."

After the last two fiasco elections, which were about as
democratic as Guantanamo Bay, the huge amount of opposition to the
Fourth Reich have been mostly side stepped by the world's media.
This is all about to change. On January 20th Inauguration Day, the
people of America have called for a General Strike and a 24 shut
down of the US economy with a day of non-participation in
America's corporate hell. They are asking people not to go to
work, buy petrol, food, pay bills or basically anything that puts
money into the war machine.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Disclaimer

SchNEWS warns all readers those in Gaza houses should throw
stones... Honest!

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INFORMATION FOR ACTION - IF YOU LIKE IT PASS IT ON...

What's On? Check out out Party and Protest guide at
www.schnews.org.uk/pap/guide.htm - it's updated every week, has
sections on regular events, local events, protest camps and
more...

------------------------------------------------------------------

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SchNEWS At Ten It costs £9 inc. p&p per book, further
details as below.

PEACE DE RESISTANCE It costs £7 INC. p&p per book, further
details as below...this one comes with a free multimedia CD too!
SchNEWS Of The World - issues 301-350 for £4!! Past books are
goin' cheap... SchNEWSround issues 51-100 - SOLD OUT; SchNEWS
annual issues 101-150 - a snip at £2; Survival Handbook issues
151-200
- a snip at £2; SchQUALL issues 201-250 - sold out;
Yearbook 2001 issues 251-300 - bargain £3. All prices inc. p&p.
Cheques to 'Justice?' - Honest!

In addition to 50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles,
photos, cartoons, subverts, a "yellow pages" list of contacts,
comedy etc. You can also order the books from a bookshop or
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Subscribe to SchNEWS: Send 1st Class stamps (e.g. 10 for next 9
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post-free to prisoners.

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Phone: 01273 685913 (NO FAX)
Email: schnews@brighton.co.uk Web: www.schnews.org.uk

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