Editorial from Irish Political Review, June 2008
Vote No For Gaza
The Lisbon Treaty is a Constitution or is not a Constitution, it can be played either way. It is indefinite in its provisions. If you vote for it, you do not know what you are voting for, except that you are giving a vote of confidence in the conduct of EU affairs in recent years. Is such a vote of confidence warranted?
There is at present a world food shortage which affects Europe. A basic object of the Common Market was to make Europe self-sufficient in food. When Britain was admitted to membership it set about eroding that object. It had two reasons for doing so. Its economic policy for a century and a half has been to get itself supplied with cheap food by the world market and that policy was incompatible with the measures taken to bring about European self-sufficiency. And its historic balance-of-power strategy towards Europe, which revived at the end of the Cold War, was obstructed by the self-sufficiency measures through which France, Germany and Italy constituted themselves into a political bloc. It has been outstandingly successful in eroding European agricultural policy and in dissipating the sense of European political cohesion that existed for two generations after 1950.
The "food mountains", of which there were loud complaints only a few years ago, have gone; and the sense of Europe as a coherent political entity with a number of component states whose national sovereignty was not endangered has gone as well.
For two decades the Common Market was a defensive body which made Western Europe viable in the Cold War world situation resulting from the Communist defeat of Nazi Germany in the World War launched by Britain. It functioned across state boundaries by means of a common political culture against which British propaganda could gain no leverage—Christian Democracy. Christian Democracy was seriously damaged, possibly beyond repair, by means of contrived 'corruption' scandals of the kind which it was hoped would also destroy Fianna Fail.
Today Europe has neither a common medium of political culture, nor definite boundaries, nor even a regional sense of itself as a component part of a world which has many other components. It is open-ended, aggressively expansionist, and unlimited in its globalist aims. It is an active force of disruption in the world. When the Soviet system collapsed, and the defensive function of the EU went with it, the EU responded by becoming an aggressive force with global ambitions. Instead of making space for the new European regimes to develop their own democracy, it set about plundering them on the way to plunder Russia. It acted in conjunction with the United States, but at the same time in potential rivalry with it in a contest for capitalist dominance of the globe. That is what we were often told in the late 1990s: that it was the destiny of the EU to be the globalist rival to the US.
Any country can become hat we call democratic by overthrowing some 'evil' regime which alone prevents it from being so. And any democratic country can have a rate of commodity consumption per capita equal to that of the United States and Western Europe. These are axioms of present-day European political culture. Axioms are self-evident truths—or beliefs in this instance. There must not be doubt lest the faith by which we are now obliged to live should fall apart on us.
But if we do doubt we find that four or five other planets the size of the Earth would be needed to enable a globalised capitalist earth to consume at the rate of the United States and Western Europe. So the thing just is not possible. But we owe it to ourselves to keep on increasing our own rate of commodity consumption, at the expense of other parts (peoples) of the Earth, justifying ourselves with the axiomatic belief that these other peoples whom we are now exploiting could be living just like us if they would only behave right.
The world runs on oil. The oil lodged in the ground is in short supply and so food is being turned into oil and is therefore unavailable for eating.
When the Germans were caught in an encirclement in the war of 1914-1919, and their foreign trade was stopped by the Royal Navy, they invented ways of making food into oil.
There is still plenty of oil in the ground. Of course a time will come when it will be all used up. The world we have made is a short term world. But the oil has not run out yet. And we are not deprived of it by an enemy force, as we deprived the Germans. A major short-term cause of the oil difficulty is the way we—the masters of the world—have dealt with the Middle East, where most of the oil is.
When we conquered the Middle East (and as Redmondites we did take part in that conquest) we set up puppet regimes there (as Treatyite Free Staters we became British again), so that the Middle East would do our bidding in the matter of supplying us with cheap oil.
But we built an irritant into the Middle East, which may have served our exploitative interest in the short term, but may well be the cause of our undoing in the end. We decided to establish a Jewish state there, even though there were not enough Jews there to sustain a state. The construction of the Jewish State required that large numbers of Jews should be funnelled into a territory that was already inhabited by others, and that those others should be brushed aside to make way for them.
The British Government of 1945, having emerged as a victor in the war against Nazi Germany, had second thoughts about carrying through a project that appeared so similar to the Nazi project in Eastern Europe—brushing aside the inhabitants of a country in order to colonise it with another people. The new Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, stalled the project, and was promptly maligned as an anti-Semite. A Jewish "war of independence" was launched against Britain by the Jewish minority in Palestine. Britain yielded to terrorism and handed the problem it had created to the United Nations, which voted for partition of Palestine but did not enforce or police the division it recommended.
The UN motion authorising the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine was forced through the General Assembly by Stalin and client states, Truman and his client states, and Europeans fresh fro the business of helping Nazi Germany to exterminate Jews. In breach of the regional principle, strictly observed in other regions, it was carried against the opposition of every state in the Middle East.
Jewish nationalism took that resolution to be a victory and set about taking more than the territory allocated to it by the United Nations, and driving out Arab communities where it could. But for a limited outside military intervention, it is probable that Israel would have taken more. But it finished the job it set out to do in November 1947 twenty years later, by taking the whole of Palestine.
The 60th Anniversary of the establishment of a Jewish State is being celebrated this year—but not all Jews feel able to join the rejoicing. Johann Hari writes in the Independent:
"I would love to be able to crash the birthday party with words of reassurance. Israel has given us great novelists like Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, great film-makers like Joseph Cedar, great scientific research into Alzheimer's, and great dissident journalists like Amira Hass, Tom Segev and Gideon Levy to expose her own crimes.
"She has provided the one lonely spot in the Middle East where gay people are not hounded and hanged, and where women can approach equality.
"But I can't do it. Whenever I try to mouth these words, a remembered smell fills my nostrils. It is the smell of shit. Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements, along large metal pipes, straight onto Palestinian land. From there, it can enter the groundwater and the reservoirs, and become a poison.
"Standing near one of these long, stinking brown-and-yellow rivers of waste recently, the local chief medical officer, Dr Bassam Said Nadi, explained to me:
“Recently there were very heavy rains, and the shit started to flow into the reservoir that provides water for this whole area. I knew that if we didn't act, people would die. We had to alert everyone not to drink the water for over a week, and distribute bottles. We were lucky it was spotted. Next time...” He shook his head in fear. This is no freak: a 2004 report by Friends of the Earth found that only six per cent of Israeli settlements adequately treat their sewage.
“Meanwhile, in order to punish the population of Gaza for voting "the wrong way", the Israeli army are not allowing past the checkpoints any replacements for the pipes and cement needed to keep the sewage system working. The result? Vast stagnant pools of waste are being held within fragile dykes across the strip, and rotting. Last March, one of them burst, drowning a nine-month-old baby and his elderly grandmother in a tsunami of human waste. The Centre on Housing Rights warns that one heavy rainfall could send 1.5m cubic metres of faeces flowing all over Gaza, causing "a humanitarian and environmental disaster of epic proportions". (<http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-israel-is-suppressing-a-secret-it-must-face-816661.html> You can write to Mr. Hari at: email@example.com)
But what has all that got to do with Ireland, the European Union and the forthcoming referendum?
When Palestinians exercised their democratic right at their last General Election, they elected a Hamas Government. That Party put together a national unity Government—which was vetoed by the Americans. Since then the Palestinians have been punished by the West for the way they voted. The European Union has withheld badly-needed aid, and it has cooperated with Israel in closing the Rafah crossing into Egypt—of which it is the external guarantor. In The Mass Break-Out From Gaza David Morrison has pointed out that in this instance the EU…
"…is a proxy for Israel, making sure that the PA [Palestinian Authority] does what Israel wants… It has a force of around 70 EU monitors, mostly policemen, on hand to do the job (grandly titled the EU Border Assistance Mission for the Rafah Crossing Point, or EU BAM Rafah)…
"When Israel decides that the Rafah crossing shouldn’t open, it doesn’t open. It doesn’t open because, in those circumstances, the EU monitors do not take up their post at the crossing, and… without their presence the crossing isn’t allowed to open.
"I have been unable to find an official EU reason for this refusal to allow its monitors to take up their post, when Israel doesn’t want the crossing open…" (Irish Political Review, February 2008).
Keeping that crossing closed strangles Gaza. The West Bank too is being strangled by multiple control crossings and other means. Israel is intent on making the lives of Palestinians brutish and short.
The European Union is making itself complicit in Israel's slow genocide of Palestinian Arabs. Rather than using its power to curb excesses and force compliance with international law and humanitarian norms, it rewards Israel by giving it tariff preferences and preferential status.
If the will to do otherwise was there, the EU could treat the Palestinians with some justice—and without compromising the security of Israel. It could engage in direct trade with Gaza and the occupied territories by sea or air. Would Israel dare attack European transports?
Europe could open the Rafah crossing and perform its agreed role of monitoring the goods passing to and fro from Gaza and Egypt. It could allow in UN food aid through Egypt when Israel holds it back to starve the people of Gaza. It could let those sewage pipes into Gaza.
Instead it—and that means Ireland too—helps to strangle infant Palestinian industries. And it goes further and allows goods vital to the bare physical survival of the people of Gaza to be withheld.
There can be no doubt that the people of Europe abhor the way the European Union is acting. But these policies will continue until a clear signal is sent to the institutions of Europe that the democracy will no longer tolerate this power-play.
Europe has been good for Ireland in the past, and this magazine certainly does not advocate withdrawal from the Union. But the EU has come under the sway of Blairite Britain and it has lost its way. It no longer knows where it begins or ends and is heading for confrontation with Russia.
The Irish are one of the few free peoples in Europe at this point in time, with the option to vote on the future direction of Europe in a referendum. A Yes vote would make Ireland complicit in further disruption of Eastern Europe and in European backing for American/Israeli policy towards Palestine.
Vote No for Gaza and against further Expansion.
Vote No For Gaza.
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The National Oppression Of Tibet.
Palestine: More Balance Needed.
Shorts from the Long Fellow
Coolacrease: Seven Complaints Rejected.
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Times To Account (Part
Myths Of The Second World War.
Letter From Australia.
New Book About Irish Times.
Lord Professor Bew & The Forging Of A Shared
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Does It Stack Up?
"Unity Of Labour Is The Hope Of The
World" (Trade Unions & Lisbon Treaty)
Cobh Apology To James Connolly.
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