Thursday, 31 January 2008

'ANGRY ARAB' ON GEORGE HABASH

George Habash's contribution to the Palestinian struggle
As'ad AbuKhalil, The Electronic Intifada, 30 January 2008

I lived more than half of my life in the US and I never felt the alienation that I felt on the day I read George Habash, the Palestinian revolutionary who passed away last week, labeled as a "terrorism tactician" in a front page obituary in The New York Times. What do you when they want to convince you that a kind and gentle man you met and respected as a person is a terrorist when you know otherwise? Do you quibble with their definitions to no avail? Do you go back and see how they wrote glowing obituaries for Zionist militia leader and later Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, a man whose record of killing civilians is as horrific and grotesque as that of Osama Bin Laden, former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, Fatah Revolutionary Council founder Abu Nidal or Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet?

But they can't invent facts, and they can't distort the narrative of Palestinian history. Many of my generation and older knew and respected George Habash. We did not worship him or declare him infallible. We respected that on the personal level he was incorruptible. Here was a man who refused more than the $300 monthly pension he was receiving in Amman, Jordan. Once, a group of wealthy Palestinians schemed to try to pay him in his later years because they did not want the symbol of the Palestinian -- the Arab -- revolution to die in poverty. He would not budge, not even to accept funds to hire a research assistant to help with his memoirs.

George Habash was the antithesis of Yasser Arafat: he was honest, while Arafat was dishonest; consistent when Arafat was inconsistent; principled, while Arafat was shifty; transparent, while Arafat was deceptive; sincere, while Arafat was fake; dignified while Arafat was clownish; modest, while Arafat was arrogant; tolerant of dissent, while Arafat was autocratic, and on and on.

George Habash embodied an era that extended from the Nakba, or mass expulsions of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, until the beginning of the Lebanrse civil war in 1976, when the decline of the Left, and the launching of Sadatism began. Up until that time, when a deep ideological transformation took place in the Arab world, Habash was a major actor on the Arab political stage. He was feared by Arab regimes, and respected and loved in the refugee camps. I don't believe I have ever seen the ordinary people of the camps react to a person as they reacted to Habash. Their love for him was genuine because they felt that he was genuine.

If there is a world revolutionary symbol for the second half of the 20th century, it should be George Habash. He may not be widely known in 2008, but anybody who read a newspaper prior to the rise of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, when Islamism eclipsed the Arab Left, would know him. Habash is one of the main makers of Arab contemporary history and one of the handful of names who changed the course of the Palestinian political struggle.

It is often said that Habash's "Christianity" -- as if he was religious -- was the only reason why he was not the leader of the Palestinian national movement, instead of Arafat. I never agreed with the view. Habash's sincerity, honesty and integrity were the reason why he did not lead the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), while Arafat's "skills" kept him in power for all those decades. For those who were privileged to have met Habash, his sincerity and honesty came through, as did his natural modesty, and clear sense of himself. Shafiq al-Hout wrote in As-Safir that Habash was a distinctive kind of revolutionary, but then added that he was how a revolutionary should be.

George Habash was shaped by the Nakba. He was born in al-Lydd, Palestine, and his middle class family, like thousands of other families, were violently evicted from their homes by Zionist militias led by Yitzhak Rabin.

Habash was at that time a student at the American University of Beirut (AUB), where he had already been inspired by the Arab nationalist ideas in the student club al-'Urwah al-Wuthqah. He did not wait long to initiate action in revenge after the founding of Israel (we should refer to it as "the destruction of Palestine," as Zionist propaganda in the West has succeeded in portraying Palestinian national aspirations as an act of "destruction") -- and revenge was his motive early on. He joined ranks with an Egyptian activist to engage in small-scale bombings in Lebanon and Syria. Some of the attacks were actually terrorist: as when a synagogue was bombed. The early Habash was anti-Jewish, but that would change with time. But this small group, Kata'ib al-Fida' al-'Arabi, was easy for the authorities to dismantle.

Habash subsequently realized that mass movement and collective action was required. He joined forces with his fellow AUB medical student, the brilliant tactician Wadi' Haddad, who wanted action and was impatient with theorization and ideological squabbles that occupied hours of meetings. (Haddad's slogan, "Going after the enemy, everywhere" became the motto for his organization when he was forced to split off from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1971.)

Habash and Haddad joined with other students (who were influenced by the writings and ideas of AUB history professor Constantine Zurayq) to form the Movement of Arab Nationalists. This movement was one of the early political and organizational echoes of the occupation of Palestine in 1948 and left a mark on Arab contemporary politics, inspiring and initiating political organizations throughout the Arab world.

After their graduation from AUB, Habash and Haddad established a clinic for poor refugees in Jordan. There they contributed to the Arab nationalist stirrings that forced King Hussein to oust Glubb Pasha, the British officer who commanded the army, in 1956.

Habash and his comrades also tried to reunite with the Ba'th but came away with the impression that the liberation of Palestine and "armed struggle" were not a priority for the Ba'th or for its founder Michel 'Aflaq.

Any evaluation of Habash's career should also take into consideration the mistakes, errors and shortcomings of the experience -- some of which can only be seen in hindsight. The Movement of Arab Nationalists was late in realizing the desire of Palestinians for an armed response to the Zionist occupation and threat. It also was not clear in formulating a political explanation of "liberation." "Revenge" was one of the mottos of the movement, but that scarcely amounted to a political program.

The Movement should also be criticized for developing into an arm of the Egyptian regime; Habash met Egyptian president and symbol of Arab nationalism Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1964, and the two men clearly hit it off. In his later years, Habash would cry whenever Nasser's name would be mentioned. Habash put a high premium on an Arab sense of dignity, which he felt Nasser represented in his dealings with the West -- in contrast to the behavior of Sadat and other Arab rulers. One wonders what Habash must have thought when he saw Arab oil rulers literally dancing with US President George W. Bush.

Even in the wake of the Arab defeat in the 1967 War, Habash did not want to break with Nasser despite rising political disillusionment and even anger among the refugees. Habash's only serious disagreement with Nasser was when the latter accepted the 1969 Rogers Plan, a US political framework for ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.

After the war, Habash founded the PFLP which quickly become the second most important Palestinian organization after Fatah, and held that place until the rise of Hamas and the Islamization of Palestinian and Arab politics in the 1980s. The Movement of Arab Nationalists had effectively decided to transform into Marxist-Leninist organizations and adopted the belief that guerrilla warfare against Zionism would achieve the final liberation of Palestine. Unlike Fatah, the PFLP stressed political indoctrination and carefully screened recruits. Young Arabs from different countries joined the struggle, receiving training in camps in Jordan, and later in Lebanon -- this was well before the emergence of Dubai as the object of aspiration of Arab youths. Palestine was the destination then.

The PFLP quickly suffered from schisms and defections; the first was by Ahmad Jibril, a recruit of Syrian intelligence, who formed his own splinter group, the PFLP-General Command in 1968 when Habash was in a Syrian jail. The following year, Palestinian politician Nayif Hawatmeh, who was mystified by Habash's enormous charisma especially as a public speaker, split off and formed the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Other smaller defections followed, and the DFLP would not have long survived if it was not for the support and funding from Arafat who encouraged, funded, and armed many defections in Palestinian organizations to keep himself in control.

The PFLP argued that the liberation of Palestine would be impossible without the liberation of Arab countries from the regimes imposed by the West and Israel. Looking to Vietnam, Habash called for Arab "Hanois," and stated that the liberation of Palestine passed through every Arab capital. "Armed struggle" was the major path to liberation.

In its early phase, the PFLP showed the promise of charting an independent leftist path, not loyal to the USSR and even flirted with Maoism. But by 1973, it had joined the ranks of Arab communist organizations that pledged allegiance to the Soviet Union.

The PFLP was active in Jordan, and played a major role in Black September -- the series of massacres committed by the Jordanian regime in 1970 (with the support of the United States and Israel) against the Palestinians and their fighters. The PFLP like other organizations targeted during Black September relocated to Lebanon and helped agitate the Lebanese political situation.

Earlier in 1970, Habash and the PFLP became famous worldwide when the group orchestrated the hijacking of several airliners to Jordan, releasing all passengers and crew before the planes were destroyed. I once met a German flight attendant who told me that she became a supporter of the Palestinian cause after she heard Habash speak in English to a group of hostages in the Intercontinental Hotel in Amman -- and she was one of the hostages. Habash would be a bit defensive about the hijackings in later years; he would hate to be associated with the terrorism of Bin Laden or Abu Nidal. He would argue that the practice was limited to a specific reason (highlighting the plight of the Palestinians when former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir insisted that the Palestinian people did not exist) and for a limited duration. But no fair evaluation should, for better or worse, ignore or gloss over that experience.

Habash also had to deal with Wadi' Haddad who insisted on continuing with "international operations" despite directives to restrict armed actions to within Palestine. As a result of several actions seen as reckless, Haddad's membership of the PFLP was "frozen."

Haddad's standards for action against Israel and its allies were different from Habash's. Habash believed that high ethical and political standards should inspire any political and military action. This is not to say that his organization did not commit some acts that violated those standards, but Habash tried not always successfully to reign in the adventurist tendencies of his friend and comrade. For several years, Haddad continued to carry out operations using the name "International Operations of the PFLP" without the blessing of the organization until he was finally expelled.

George Habash was hit hard by the Mossad's assassination of his PFLP comrade the writer Ghassan Kanafani in 1972, and he suffered a debilitating stroke. Habash himself survived several Israeli assassination attempts; in one, Israel hijacked a plane that it thought carried Habash (he had switched planes only minutes before the flight).

In 1974, Habash froze the PFLP's membership in the PLO when he realized that Arafat was working for the two-state solution. Habash was instrumental in forming the Rejectionist Front which advocated a non-compromising stance on the liberation of "every millimeter of Palestine," as Habash was fond of saying in his public speeches. But here was one of Habash's major mistakes: the front included many organizations that were loyal to or creatures of Arab governments. This gave the Iraqi, Syrian and Libyan regimes tremendous influence over the organizations, including the PFLP.

Generous financial subsidies were too hard to resist, and the corruption of the revolution, which had hit Fatah much earlier through Saudi and Gulf funding, also hit the PFLP, and compromised its political independence. The Lebanese base of operations, especially after the eruption of the Civil War in 1975, also compromised the revolution. It quickly became too comfortable a base and the PFLP, like other Palestinian and Lebanese organizations, did not want a radical shift of power on the battlefield. (But the major responsibility for that lies with Arafat and the Syrian regime who did not want to create a radical political order that could trigger a confrontation with Israel.) The PFLP, at least, pursued a policy of supporting the Lebanese National Movement, while Arafat and his associates dragged their feet.

The Rejectionist Front was disbanded in 1977 when Syria and Iraq briefly reconciled following Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's trip to Jerusalem. This period marked the beginning of the decline of the Left and the rise of the Islamic Revolution. Habash began a gradual withdrawal from politics. He had tried for years to leave but his comrades would not let him. They knew that his symbolic presence was too valuable for the PFLP, and feared it would collapse without him. They were right, of course. One can't speak of the PFLP since 2000, when Habash's voluntarily resigned from the leadership.

I last saw Habash a few years ago in Damascus, after his retirement. It was very sad for me because I had to compare the last image with the first image when I first met him as a high school student in 1977. His revolutionary impulse and his passions had not waned, but the empty office spoke volumes. The PFLP was almost dead, and Habash was politically irrelevant. I shared with him some of my criticisms of the Popular Front's long experience, and typically, he was open-minded and very democratic. I was bothered that he seemed too resigned to the rise of the Islamists (Hamas and Hizballah). In my judgment he was too uncritically supportive of both. "We have tried, so let them now try," he would say, "It is their turn." I was hoping to hear words regarding the revival of the Left but I did not.

George Habash lived his life for Palestine -- every minute of it. He represented a model of revolutionary struggle that is exemplary in its dedication and asceticism, no matter what one thinks of the PFLP or its long political and military experience. One should not hesitate from rendering a harsh judgment against the PFLP; ultimately it failed politically and militarily. And any evaluation of Palestinian political violence must be made in the context of Zionist mass violence that for decades had set out to destroy Palestinian society and resistance and replace it with its own exclusivist vision. But whatever that judgment it should not detract from an appreciation of the profound influence of the PFLP's founder who helped shape the politics and worldview of a generation. The present political scene is devoid of any leaders of such character.

As'ad AbuKhalil is professor of political science at California State University and founder of the Angry Arab News Service (http://angryarab.blogspot.com/)

THE 'NEO-CON' CAMPAIGN AGAINST LONDON MAYOR KEN LIVIINGSTONE

Perhaps the rise of the RESPECT coalition has been the only
sign of the rise of left politics in England for sometime
now. The English left has dwindled ever since the it
suffered historic (perhaps temproary) defeat by the start
of the 1990s through a combination of the failure of
working class struggle in the unions to defeat the
right-wing onslaught throughout the 1980s particularly the
heroic Miners struggles, and the demise of the Soviet Bloc
with the ensuing neo-liberal triumphalism. RESPECT, now
split into two factions, relied on its growth on the
momentary rise of the anti-war movement which is now in
decline, and the growing politicisation of sections of the
predominantly South Asian Muslim communities towards
anti-imperialism and anti-privatisation. London Mayor Ken
Livingstone is the only other noticeable and significant
pole of opposition to war and racism in England, which has
been the hallmark of the British Labour administration. As
Seamus Milne notes below, there are aspects of Mayor Ken's
politics which are not wholly in tune to progressive
politics, perhaps this is the price to pay if, like Ken
Livingstone has shown, the left is to have a credible
chance of being London Mayor as Livingstone has done. It is
clear that whatever the limitations of Mayor Ken, he has
stuck his neck out on a number of issues which put him
firmly in the progressive camp, and there is no-one in
England who can come anywhere near challenging Livingstone
from the left.
- Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm

The political choice facing London could not be clearer


The current onslaught on Ken Livingstone is driven
by a neocon agenda,
but the fallout could have a
far wider social impact


Seumas Milne
Thursday January 24, 2008
The Guardian

It's as if the last 25 years had never happened. For the
past week we've been back in the days of Margaret
Thatcher's war on Red Ken and the Greater London Council.
Every morning, the media have brought new revelations of
the horrors at City Hall and Ken Livingstone's manifest
unfitness to be re-elected mayor of London. Just as in the
time of the GLC, Livingstone is denounced for consorting
with dangerous leftists and terrorist apologists. Only the
details have changed: for lesbian workers' cooperatives,
read the Arab women's network, and for Sinn Féin and the
Irish community, substitute Islamist groups and London's
Muslims.

Leading the charge until now has been the capital's only
paid-for daily newspaper, the Evening Standard, which is to
all intents and purposes running the Tory candidate Boris
Johnson's campaign for the mayoral election in May. But now
most of the national press has fallen in behind, as stories
have multiplied of Livingstone's whisky tippling, alleged
dodgy grants to black businesses and a "secret Marxist
cell" of advisers intent on turning London into a
"socialist city state", or maybe fomenting a "bourgeois
democratic revolution" -the specifics were never quite
clear.

The trigger for this retro onslaught was Monday's almost
comically slanted Channel 4 Dispatches programme on
Livingstone, presented by the New Statesman's Martin
Bright, who wrote that he felt it his "duty to warn the
London electorate that a vote for Livingstone is a vote for
a bully and a coward who is not worthy to lead this great
city of ours". Quite how Channel 4 managed to describe an
hour of primetime vilification as a "fair and balanced
investigation" with a straight face will be a mystery to
most of those who watched a programme without a single
supportive interview. Instead, we were treated to a
hotchpotch of allegations and denunciations from
disgruntled ex-employees and political opponents, ranging
from the bizarre and sub-McCarthyite to the more serious
but unproven.

Among them was an attack on Livingstone's deal with
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez to subsidise half-price
travel for London's unemployed, his dialogue with
non-violent Islamist groups, the use of public funds to
commission research for his dispute over multiculturalism
with the then head of the Commission for Racial Equality,
Trevor Phillips, and the well-aired fact that several aides
have been members of the one-time Trotskyist group
Socialist Action -though since they have been working
happily with the police and City grandees for the past
eight years, that might seem to be of somewhat specialist
interest. Most of the real issues that will dominate the
mayoral elections - housing, transport, crime, the
environment -barely got a walk-on part. But the programme
was certainly an effective party political broadcast on
behalf of Johnson.

What has given this latest assault on Livingstone a special
edge is that the people driving it trade as being on the
left: Bright as a representative of Britain's main
centre-left political weekly and Nick Cohen, who has more
openly lined up behind Johnson, as an Observer columnist.
In reality, both writers share a broadly neoconservative
agenda on Islamism and the "war on terror" - though Bright
opposed the Iraq invasion - and that is the central issue
that has turned them and their allies against Livingstone.
Bright wrote a pamphlet for the rightwing thinktank Policy
Exchange attacking government dialogue with Islamists,
warmly praised by the leading US neocon Richard Perle.
Cohen famously declared after meeting Iraq war architect
Paul Wolfowitz for drinks at the Mayfair nightclub
Annabel's: "I was in the presence of a politician committed
to extending human freedom."

As the most powerful British politician to have opposed the
Iraq and Afghan wars and supported engagement with
mainstream political Islam, Livingstone has naturally
attracted the enmity of the neocons. After hearing Bright
dismiss Chávez's administration as a "government with links
to Iran and cocaine-smuggling guerrillas and accused of
human rights abuses", it should come as no surprise that
he, Cohen and their friends prefer to see a high Tory
elected mayor of London rather than the radical Labour
incumbent.

To the rest of London, it's scarcely news that London's
mayor has his faults, or controversial that he should be
held to account. It's right that the less than 1% of the
London Development Agency's budget that went on grants to
failed business startups should be properly investigated,
even if that isn't a bad record compared with the private
sector. You'd never know it from all the chatter about
Bolshevik cabals, but there's also a strong left critique
of Livingstone: for his embrace of the City and property
developers, for example, and defence of the Metropolitan
police commissioner over the shooting of Jean Charles de
Menezes.

But that's not what will be at stake in May's election. The
choice will be between two candidates: one who has
pioneered congestion charging and cut traffic by 70,000
cars a day, pushed up the supply of affordable housing,
boosted bus ridership by one and a half million journeys a
day, abolished fares for under-18s, is preparing to
introduce emissions charging and free public transport for
pensioners and has played a key role in cutting crime and
maintaining community relations during a tense and
dangerous period. On the other hand, you have a Thatcherite
who thinks it's witty to refer to Africans as
"piccaninnies" and regrets the end of colonialism, is an
enthusiastic Bush and Iraq war supporter, opposed the Kyoto
treaty, and is against the welfare state and the "teaching"
of homosexuality in schools.

The choice could hardly be starker. No other candidate is
in with a shout. Despite his record, Johnson's media
profile and geniality mean he is the first serious
challenge the mayor has had to face. With Livingstone and
Johnson only one point apart in the latest opinion poll,
the Tories have scented blood. Johnson's decision to hire
the ruthless Lynton Crosby, who masterminded four election
victories for John Howard in Australia, should be a
warning. The Tory candidate knows he'll make little headway
among the non-white third of London's electorate, so expect
some dog-whistle appeals to white voters, perhaps dressed
up as broadsides against political correctness. A defeat
for Livingstone would not just be a blow to the broadly
defined left, working-class Londoners, women, ethnic
minorities and greens. It would represent a wider defeat
for progressive politics, in Britain and beyond.

milne@guardian.co.uk

APOLOGIES TO 'SONS OF MALCOLM' READERS

Dear Readers,

Due to technical difficulties, Sons of Malcolm was unable to update
this site for over two weeks. I am pleased to say that regular
posts will resume on the site.

Sukant Chandan - Sons of Malcolm

Sunday, 13 January 2008

COLOMBIA: FARC STATEMENT FOLLOWING HOSTAGE RELEASE

'This move should help the path to peace'
The Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC)
issued a communique, subsequent
to the freeing of Clara Rojas and
ConsueloGonzales, in which they
remark that they have given
the first encouraging step
"that invites to think on the
possibility of peace in Colombia".

Following, the FARC communique

January 10 of 2007

FARC Communiqué in Regards to the Liberation of Clara and
Consuelo

1. Honouring our word and commitment, today the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia FARC, handover Clara
Rojas and Consuelo González de Perdomo to the President of
the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, to
Senator Piedad Cordova and the international community. If
the boy Emmanuel is not in the arms of his mother, it is
because President Uribe Vélez has sequestered him in
Bogotá. Let him free so that we can all celebrate this
event.

2. This humanitarian and unilateral liberation is possible
despite the hindrance presented by President Uribe himself,
a sworn enemy of the exchange of prisoners and enemy of
peace with social justice, as he follows the ideological
guidelines of Washington. Raising above the intense
military operations of the Patriotic Plan, the seizure of
the proofs of life, the capture of the humanitarian
messengers who carried them, the sequestering of little
Emmanuel in Bogotá, and the absurd intention to exclude the
international humanitarian commission from the
facilitation, we have taken this first encouraging step
that invites to think about the possibility of peace in
Colombia.

3. The efforts must now be directed at obtaining the
military clearing of Pradera and Florida as the stage for
the dialogue government-FARC for the agreement and the
materialization of the exchange to make possible the
liberation of all the prisoners in control of the
contending forces, of those captives in the mountain and
the imprisoned guerrillas in the jails of the regime,
including Sonia and Simón. Our will is unquestionable.
Let's not forget that in the recent past we unilaterally
released 304 military and police officers, captured in
combat. The handover of Clara and Consuelo we carry out
today reaffirms our disposition.

4. The fact is that we are a belligerent force awaiting
recognition by the governments of the world. This step
would smooth the winding path of the Colombia people in
their search for peace. Ours is a legitimate struggle. It
is upheld by the universal right that all the peoples of
the world have to raise against oppression. Our father, the
Liberator Simón Bolivar teaches us that, when power is
oppressive, virtue has the right to overwhelm it, and that
the virtuous man rises against the opressive and unbearable
authority to replace it with a kind and respected one. And
this is, indeed, the FARC's endeavour.

5, President Chávez, thank you very much. The world does
not doubt that your immense heart beats sincerely for the
peace of Colombia and the redemption of the peoples. We
also thank the governments and personalities of the world
who have surrounded him without reservations in this noble
effort. And our special thanks to the brave people of
Venezuela for their support and brotherhood. To the
relatives of the prisoners and the friends of the
humanitarian exchange our call to persist. We will obtain
the exchange.

Secretariat, Central High Command of the FARC
Mountains of Colombia, January 10 of 2008

Friday, 11 January 2008

40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE TET OFFENSIVE

Scientific seminar on 1968 Tet Offensive held

The Tet offensive, while being a massive sacrificial struggle on behalf of the Vietnamese liberation forces against the US occupation, was a historic offensive that signaled the end of the US occupation. Perhaps the Vietnamese victory will go down as the start of the end of US military and economic domination of the world. Today Socialist Vietnam is forging ahead with healing the wounds of war (some 3 million people were killed and 300,000 people remain missing), and are developing their economy for the benefit of their people (having won UN awards for poverty alleviation in the early 2000s), and on the international field are championing the rights of small nations, developing links with fraternal progressive, socialist and communist organisations, and belief in a multi-polar world. In 2002 I visited Vietnam and was pleasantly surprised of the many positive aspects of the country: the friendliness of the people, the beautiful countryside, mountains and coastline, the delicious food and the societal development of this once extremely poor and war-ravaged country. I will always remember the many museums exhibiting the crimes of the US and the resistance of the people, indeed these museums are schools for oppressed people in how to cleverly resist an occupation. At the war crimes museum in Ho Chi Minh City many young people from the US were sobbing after learning of what atrocities their country had committed against the Vietnamese people.
- Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm

Nhan Dan [Veitnamese News Agency] – A scientific seminar on the General Offensive and Uprising in the Spring of 1968 was held on January 10 in Hue to mark the 40th anniversary of the event.

Hue city was a glorious battlefield in the anti-US struggle for national salvation.

The seminar was held by the Ministry of Defence and Thua Thien-Hue’s Party Committee and was presided by Senior Lieutenant General Phan Trung Kien, member of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s Central Committee and deputy minister of defence and Ho Xuan Man, member of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s Central Committee and secretary of Thua Thien-Hue Party’s Committee.

Present at the seminar were former Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu, representatives of central agencies, the Ministry of Defence, the General Staff, the Political General Department, revolutionary veterans, generals, leaders of Thua Thien-Hue province and other localities in the country, leaders of military zones, arms, leaders and commanders of the battlefield through different period, historical witnesses, and military and non-military scientists.

The seminar’s organising board heard 124 speeches and received scientific research from former Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu, former State President General Le Duc Anh, Senior Lieutenant General-Professor Hoang Minh Thao, Lieutenant General Dang Kinh and other generals.

All the speeches and research affirmed the correctness of the Politburo’s assessment about the great victory of the anti-US struggle for national salvation in general and the 1968 Tet Offensive in particular. This was the victory proving the correct and creative policy of independence and self-reliance of the Party, of the spirit and intellect of the Vietnamese during the Ho Chi Minh era, of the truth of the phrase that “Nothing is moer precious than independence and freedom,” of the great national unity, of the combination of the national strength and the power of the epoch, of the art of waging war and of Vietnamese military techniques.

With reliable data and convincing arguments, numerous speeches clearly demonstrated both the political and military defeat of the US and the Saigon regime on the southern battlefield in the Spring of 1968 and strongly rejected arguments that in Spring 1968, the US did not lose militarily on the southern battlefield but was defeated politically and psychologically right in the heart of the US.

With the 1968 Tet offensive, the people and army of Vietnam brought the war deep into the rear of the enemy, annihilating and disrupting the vigour and war means of the enemy, upsetting the strategy of the enemy on the battlefield, pinning down an army of over fully-equipped 1.3 million enemy troops on the urban front and thus creating favourable conditions and opportunities for the army and people of Vietnam to strengthen their attacks leading to the liberation of vast rural areas. Many European historians consider this as the bitterest US military failure in their aggressive war against Vietnam, the weakness and powerlessness of the Saigon regime system, showing the great trust and courageous fighting spirit of the people and army of Vietnam on the battlefield as well as the ability and intellect of the nerve-centre leading the Vietnamese revolutionary war.

Delegates to the seminar affirmed that the victory of the Tet Offensive in Spring 1968 in particular and the victory of the anti-US struggle for national salvation in general helped provide valuable historical lessons. The seminar helped portray the victory in Spring 1968 in a correct and more convincing manner, giving the reasons of victory, leading to the creation of the strength for the general offensive and uprising to defeat the enemy.

The seminar is an activity to mark the upcoming Party’s founding anniversary, welcome the Lunar New Year, contributing to educating the military staff and people, especially the young generation in promoting the revolutionary traditions, bolstering patriotism and national pride while rejecting the distortions which have refused the value and meaning of the great historical event.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

WELSH POLITICS SHOWS THE ALTERNATIVE FACE OF THESE ISLANDS

While the British Labour government in London is one of the most right-wing in the world due to its foreign policy and domestic neo-liberal agenda, there remains an interest alternative developing on these islands. Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall are all showing that there is an emerging pole of pro-people, anti-war and anti-privatisation developing, all coming from progressive nationalist and republican quarters, showing that it is not only Third World nationalism which is challenging Western arrogance and exploitation. There also exists progressive nationalisms within the Western world, as well as plenty of very reactionary nationalist movements. However, as can be understood from the article below, there are many openings for a left-wing and socialist movement within the context of the assertion by these nations of their right to forge their own political path. - Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm

Welsh Politics - an overview
By Mike Davies

The recent debate about devolution within the UK has
focussed mainly on Scotland with talk of England asserting
its independence too. Typically missing from the debate,
except when eccentric MPs tried to redraw the Union Flag,
was Wales.

It’s worth recalling that 2007 was a momentous year in
Welsh as well as in Scottish politics. The May elections to
the National Assembly saw Labour achieve its worst
percentage result in Wales since 1918 (31%) but manage to
hang on to 26 seats out of the 60 Assembly seats. Plaid [Cymru]
gained three AMs to go to 15, Tories 12 (+1), Lib Dems were
static on 6 and Trish Law retained her seat as an
independent People’s Voice representative (essentially Old
Labour). The other ex-Labour rebel, Forward Wales AM John
Marek, lost his seat in Wrexham.

After many weeks of stalemate and negotiating, Labour and
Plaid Cymru agreed to the One Wales document and formed a
government. The pact has been dubbed a red-green alliance
but it’s more complex than that. It’s as well to recall
that Welsh Labour has remained essentially Old Labour -
generally rejecting the Private Finance Initiative route in
health and education, maintaining comprehensive education
and introducing modest reforms such as free prescriptions
for all (something taken up by the SSP) and free bus passes
for all Welsh pensioners.

Plaid had run its campaign on a left platform of reforms
(what it could deliver within the Assembly’s limitations)
coupled with demands for greater powers for the Assembly.

One Wales, an agreement that combined most of Plaid’s
policies with firm commitments to halt all privatisation
and PFI in the NHS and keeping council housing in the
control of local authorities, was born. The agreement also
commits Labour to a referendum on a Scottish-style
Parliament and to campaign for a ‘yes’ vote.

Only a red-green alliance can deliver on the constitutional
issue because a 2/3rds majority is needed in the Assembly
to trigger a referendum. Plaid and Labour between them have
41 members out of 60.

Plaid was initially split between those wanting red-green
and those who see the chance to ditch Labour, which has
ruled Wales ruthlessly for 80 years, and impose a Plaid-led
coalition with Ieuan Wyn Jones (Plaid’s leader) as First
Minister. But it became clear that there was a majority
that couldn’t contemplate any alliance with the hated
Tories.

Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price’s blog - makes it clear that this
is not only a historic agreement but that it is intended to
remake Welsh politics and create a new Welsh left. It has
certainly exposed the British Unionist wing of Labour as
the pro-war reactionaries that they are and helped to give
the more left-wing elements in Welsh Labour some backbone.

For comrades outside Wales, I’d urge you to take a look at
the One Wales agreement - The One Wales document is
necessarily reformist and limited - it aims to do what is
achievable under the Assembly’s very limited powers (Wales
has been given less devolutionary powers than Northern
Ireland, Scotland and even Sark!). The key will be to
obtain more powers in a referendum to take that progressive
agenda further forward.

For that reason it doesn’t deal with the war in Iraq but,
for the record, Plaid Cymru has been clearly against war
and the war in Afghanistan, leading the opposition both on
the streets and in the House of Commons where Adam Price
attempted to have Tony Blair impeached.

One Wales makes a clear commitment to the public services:

• A commitment to end PFI and privatisation in the health
service (including bringing cleaning contracts back
in-house) • Safeguards to keep council housing in the
public sector • Halted the right to buy in areas of housing
pressure as a first step to rebuilding public housing
stock. • Develop new not-for-profit nursing homes.

These are clear commitments that have infuriated the
Blairite wing of Labour (mainly the MPs). To make matters
worse for these Unionists, as they now style themselves,
the One Wales agreement commits Labour to campaign for a
yes vote in a referendum on Scottish-style powers for the
Assembly within the next 4 years. Already the dissident
voices - notably Lord and Lady Kinnock - have been heard
making their opposition clear. Labour’s failure to deliver
on this matter - which would enable the Assembly to make
its own laws without taking a begging bowl to Westminster
every time - would undoubtedly break the alliance.

The difference between Welsh and English politics is very
stark - in England, the Tories are in the ascendancy,
Labour is busy courting the middle-class vote and UKIP and
the BNP have representatives and some electoral base. In
Wales, Welsh Labour is increasingly turning its back on the
Blairite agenda, nudged by its main rival - a left-wing
challenge from Plaid Cymru. The Tories are becalmed and
increasingly torn between their own Unionist and
devolutionist tendencies. Neither UKIP nor the BNP, despite
some worrying results, have won a single council seat in
Wales.

What of the left groupings in Wales? Forward Wales
effectively vanished when John Marek lost his seat. It had
lost many of its key activists long before then and Ron
Davies is doing nothing politically. Trish Law still
carries the People’s Voice banner but it’s a localist
rebellion that is currently focussing on taking control of
Blaenau Gwent borough council. Ideologically People’s Voice
is instinctively Old Labour.

There are some good individual activists in what remains of
the orthodox left in Wales - SWP, SP and Respect. But none
of these grouplets has more than a handful of members, any
councillors and only have branches in Swansea and Cardiff.
It’s no surprise, given that the kind of anti-privatisation
agenda and pro-public services that they have advanced in
elections and localised campaigning is now being
implemented by the One Wales government.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

GOVERNMENT DONT CARE ABOUT YOUTH KILLING EACH OTHER

War of the forgotten

As the new year brings more murders of estate teenagers, it's clear Labour has deserted them

Lynsey Hanley
Tuesday January 8, 2008

Guardian

So we're a week into the new year, and already two teenagers have been murdered - most recently Faridon Alizada, 18, found stabbed to death in a block of flats that, according to those living nearby, should have been demolished years ago. The site and circumstances of his death couldn't have been any more depressing, or less surprising.

Last April, shortly after the murder of 14-year-old Paul Erhahon at the entrance to a block of flats in east London, I remember being unable to envisage a situation in which the killing of teenagers by teenagers - the vast majority on or from council estates - could continue without the government addressing the issue as a matter of urgency. I wrote a piece on these pages arguing that, after 10 years in power, Labour had failed to acknowledge the disastrous consequences of widening social and economic inequality for the poorest and most disadvantaged in society.

Two days after that piece was published, Tony Blair, at the end of his premiership, suggested that young people killing each other were doing so in some sort of vacuum, with values and expectations so alien to everyone else's that such behaviour was almost to be expected of them. There was something in his tone that suggested we - "us", not "them" - needn't be particularly worried about such a development.

Since then, another 20 or so teenagers have died from being shot or stabbed, mainly by other teenagers. Furthermore, a 20-year-old man shot on Boxing Day lay dead for 24 hours on the Aylesbury estate in London - where, in 1997, Blair had launched his plan to improve conditions and life chances on Britain's "2,000 worst" estates.

It no longer feels like an overstatement to say that young people on many estates, particularly those in inner London, are engaged in a kind of civil war. When the former leader of the country claims that such incidents are isolated, what he's really saying is that the estates where they took place are isolated, and therefore not places any of the rest of us need to think about. Least of all him.

The closely defined layouts of estates, and their tendency to house the poorest people, lend themselves to inverse snobbery. You have estate-linked gangs, whose members go to estate-linked schools, defining their identity by the name and "reputation" of that estate. Because their lives revolve around those estates, their perspective narrows with each day that passes, until it stops at the bollard-tipped end of the walkway.

It is not that teenagers in gangs have no choice but to fall in with a prevailing mindset of thuggery and crushing egotism. They can and do make other choices, especially if well-supported. But the point is that many "feel" as though they have no choice, and that, in part, is because we've let estates go; we've let them fall off the social radar to the extent that the death of an estate-dwelling teenager at the hands of another estate-dwelling teenager roughly once a fortnight is not cause for the government to do everything in its power to prevent more.

It's not just about jobs, or coercion. Job creation is useless if people cannot, for whatever reason, access the jobs that are being created. Growth, as the Treasury defines it, does not benefit citizens equally, or create opportunities that can be easily taken up by all. If it did, young people growing up on estates would have other things on their mind than murder or the threat of being murdered.

Gordon Brown may, rightly, have stated that the murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones last August was a "heinous crime", but where has he been to say the same of every child killed since then? Either he's too embarrassed to say aloud that war of a kind has broken out in his own country, or he doesn't care - because that war is taking place where few of the voters he needs live.

comment@guardian.co.uk

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

SINN FEIN WEEKLY SPEAK TO AFRICAN WOMENS NETWORK IRELAND

Interview : Salome Mbugua, Director of the
African Women's Network Ireland


'A long way to go to equality'

An Phoblacht, Sinn Fein Weekly

SALOME MBUGUA (36), from Kenya, has been living in Ireland for the last 13 years. Salome is the director of AkiDwA (the African Women’s Network Ireland) an organisation aiming to empower African women living in Ireland.

Salome talks to ELLA O’DWYER about the motivations behind her work, the discrimination she’s encountered in Ireland and her hope that the racism currently at work in Irish society will abate.

You’re from Kenya. Why did you come to Ireland from Africa?
I came to Ireland 13 years ago, in 1994. I came because it’s a land of many opportunities and not just economically because I also found my husband in Ireland – an Irishman – we met in college.
We live in Portarlington, with our two daughters. I came here to upgrade my studies. In 1994 there were few people of colour here and I was looked on as a kind of novelty – in a nice way. People would come up to me and touch my skin. I felt at home. I even learned Irish dancing.

But all that changed?
Over the years I noticed that things changed. From being a novelty I became a threat and therefore a victim. I put that down to racism. The Irish started to see me and people like me as a threat.
I was actually a victim of verbal and physical racism. I was attacked only two years ago.

What happened?
I was out with an African friend of mine who’d come to visit me. When she came to my town I said, ‘I’ll take you out to see my town,’ because I was very proud of the town where I lived in Ireland. In all the years I’d lived there I’d never seen what I saw happen that night.
We were attacked by two Irish girls and they started with verbal abuse: ‘Where did we get money from to go out?’ The assumption was that everybody black should have no means. My friend wore extensions and the girls tore her hair. The bouncer actually came down and put the two girls out and called the gardaí.
At this stage there were three more boys along with the two girls and they were all abusive: ‘You don’t even have food in your own country and now you’re here.’ One girl started to kick me all along my side. I didn’t do anything because I’m not an aggressive person but I was glad the gardaí were called.
To make a long story short, the girls were brought to Portarlington Court and sentenced to community service.

You have a working background in the area of equality.
I’d qualified as a social worker in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. I worked in the slums of Nairobi doing social work and my actual role was to look after younger girls who’d ended up living on the streets basically because their parents don’t have the means to get them schooling.
They came from very disadvantaged families. They were from between the ages of five and 16. They were all black and had gone on the streets to beg because they were poor and their families couldn’t support them.

So you’ve always been interested in helping people?
Yes. When I was young my grandfather had an accident and ended up paralysed so my parents let me go to help him and my grandmother to keep them company. We had home help and we were comfortable enough. They lived outside Nairobi. But I always believed in equality, partly out of my experience of those young girls on the street.
I also campaigned on the streets of Nairobi against domestic violence. Women don’t fare very well in Kenya and domestic violence is prevalent. But nowadays the issue of equality is out there, especially in terms of the funding bodies. For instance, Irish Aid funds projects around the equality issue but Kenya doesn’t get it because we are not part of the Irish aid programme in Africa.

What is Kenya like?
It’s a beautiful country. Many people go there for safaris – it’s a good holiday destination. There’s wealth and beauty and then there’s poverty too. Every government has some level of corruption and the Kenyan Government is no different. But Kenya has wonderful potential.

So you continued your studies when you came to Ireland?
Yes. I’ve just done my Masters in Equality Studies in UCD. Again I wanted to continue to work with people and I don’t want people to just empathise with me or with other victims of discrimination. I want people to do something.
I would like to see the Government do more in relation to racism because we should have education and training. And also we have governmental policies that are discriminatory. The Irish Government has not allowed asylum seekers to work and therefore contribute to this country. The perception is that they are here to grab off the Social Welfare. In actual fact they live on the basics – shared accommodation, food they don’t choose for themselves and less than €20 a week.
There is a lot of prejudice here in Ireland. When I was pregnant with my daughter someone shouted at me; “Don’t bring another nigger into this country!” I actually used to try to hide my pregnancy.
These kinds of experiences motivated me to try to do something about the discrimination facing women living here. I believe in equality and a better Ireland and I don’t want my children to go through what I went through.

You’re the director and a founding member of AkiDwA, the African Women’s Network Ireland.
A group of us women decided to look at what was happening to us as migrant women and to see if we could do something to help ourselves so in 1999 I called the first meeting.
We had a couple of other meetings but things didn’t really get moving until I got a group of women from different African countries. When we met I said I wanted to set up a support network as a survival strategy for ourselves. In 2001, we launched AkiDwA as an organisation that aims to address the needs of African women in Ireland.
I was appointed onto the Equality Board recently. It is an effective group. I hope that my voice will be heard, that I will change people’s perceptions and not only that but, through the likes of the Equality Board, change policy.

What do you think of Sinn Féin and indeed this country in general?
Sinn Féin is very good on the issue of racism. I’m just learning about Sinn Féin and all the political parties here. I asked my husband what Sinn Féin is all about and he said it’s like the Mau Mau in Kenya, the group which fought for freedom from Britain. So I said who am I not to support Sinn Féin?
I’ve seen three faces of Ireland. I’ve seen the face where I’m a novelty, a victim and then I reached a point where I saw the face of growing awareness.
In fact an example of what can happen is an organisation called Athlone Families Together, set up to get two Nigerian women who had been deported back into Ireland. The group consisted mainly of Irish families. They didn’t succeed in getting the two women back but it showed that there is also goodwill towards migrants out there.
And then of course there was the case of the autistic boy, Great Agbonlahor, who, along with his twin sister Melissa and mother Olivia, was deported from Ireland earlier this year. That family was badly treated. The interests of the children should be put first. They never got back here to Ireland despite the huge support they got from the Irish community they lived amongst.

So though you’ve experienced racism here, you’ve also witnessed its opposite amongst the Irish?
Yes. I love Ireland.
I identify myself also as a person of colour, a black African woman. That’s my identity and that’s who I am but when I go to conferences to speak on discrimination I don’t just go as a Kenyan. I go also as an Irish person. We still have a long way to go but we’re getting there.

Articles may not be reproduced without the consent of An Phoblacht. For further information, please contact editor@anphoblacht.com

FARRAKHAN ON OBAMA, PALESTINE & STATE OF BLACK PEOPLE IN US

Exclusive Interview with Minister Louis Farrakhan
By FinalCall.com News
Jan 6, 2008,

Guidance and Wisdom for 2008:

The Final Call Newspaper’s Exclusive Year-End Interview With The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

[Editor’s note: As the world prepared to enter the new year, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan shared with Final Call Editor-in-Chief Abdul Arif Muhammad his perspective on the major national and international news events of 2007, and offered guidance for what lies ahead in 2008.]

THE FINAL CALL (FC): As-Salaam Alaikum, Sir. Thank you for granting The Final Call this interview. Brother Minister, we began 2007 with your recovering from a major 14-hour surgery to correct a health condition that brought you to death’s door for a third time.

What are your thoughts and reflections on how Almighty God has tried your faith over the last eight years by taking you to death’s door and restoring your health? What can others learn from your experience?

MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN (MLF): Wa-Alaikum Salaam. First I would like to thank The Final Call, and you, particularly, for these questions, and I pray that Allah will bless me with the answers.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told me that things of great importance come in threes. I didn’t quite understand what he meant, but it is interesting that God brought me to death’s door three times in the last eight years. God is teaching a servant that He has power over death, and not to fear those who desire to put an end to my life because of the truth that I teach that came to me from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who received it from Allah in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad.

There are many who hate His truth, and there are many who do not believe that God visited us and raised the Honorable Elijah Muhammad for us, so we have enemies within and without; enemies in the government of the United States; and enemies among some of the most powerful Satanic minds in America and the world. And since I am trying to carry out the mission of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, those who feared the success of his mission have in their hearts a desire to destroy Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.

The God Who allowed me to go to death’s door three times, and when all thought that I was gone, He intervened and brought me back. This is to say to the world that no matter what the government of the United States and those powerful forces determine that they want to do to Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, it may look bad for a while, but we must put our trust in Allah. As He brought me from death’s door three times, He will protect me from the forces of death and He will protect the Nation of Islam from the same, so we will be able to say when victory comes, “Oh grave, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?” for death and hell are swallowed up in the victory of God and His Apostle.

FC: When you decided to rebuild the Nation of Islam in September 1977, you delivered your first national address in 1978 titled “The Ultimate Challenge: The Survival of the Black Nation.” How are the challenges we faced then different from the challenges we now face to survive as a people as we enter 2008?

MLF: The challenges are the same, but much more intense because we have arrived at the time, now, when the forces of evil—the Satanic forces of this world—see the Black nation as an ultimate threat and see our rise in their faces. Now, they have determined to destroy us as a people, so the Black male is under attack. Many are saying that the Black male is an endangered species, and according to scientists, when a species is endangered, the next step from endangerment is extinction.

Although the enemy plans our extinction, he is planning his own, but he knows it not.

FC: Black America has witnessed in 2007 several cases of racial hatred and violence that represented national issues of injustice: The Jena 6, Megan Williams, Martin Lee Anderson, Sean Bell and Genarlow Wilson. What lessons must we learn from these incidents, and what actions must we take as a community to safeguard ourselves against future events?

MLF: Today’s generation of young Black people do not know the enemy as their fathers and grandfathers knew the enemy. We have thought that we could get along with the enemy in peace, but the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that there can be no peace between us and our former slave masters and their children as long as we do not go along with the status quo. When we demand Justice, Freedom and Equity, we excite the worst in our slave masters and their children, and they come against us. These cases of The Jena 6, Megan Williams, Martin Lee Anderson, Sean Bell, and Genarlow Wilson—they are just a smidgen of what is going on throughout America by evil White people bent on teaching us a lesson.

Well, what lessons must we learn? We are in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. What lesson must we learn? We must unite or suffer the consequences, for these events are going to multiply at such a pace that every Black person in America will see the face of a beast that has been masquerading as a friend.

FC: After Saviours’ Day 2007, you delivered a series of spiritual messages under the general title of “One Nation Under God,” culminating with your message “Come Out of Her, My People” delivered at the 12th Anniversary Commemoration of the Million Man March on Oct. 16, 2007 in Atlanta, Ga.

What is your statement to Black America about the significance and prophetic meaning of these messages for our survival?

MLF: The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said once that it is more important to teach separation than to teach prayer.

Allah (God) knows that we need prayer, but if we don’t separate from an enemy bent on our destruction, prayer alone will not help us to survive. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad points out to us in the scriptures of Bible and Qur’an that the day has arrived for our separation, and the enemy has used integration as a hypocritical trick to make those of us who have been under his foot for 400 years think that our 400-year-old enemy has all of a sudden become our friend.

We must wake up to the time and what must be done in such a time. It is not a time for integration; it is a time for us to separate from our former slave-masters and their children and go for self, do for self, and build a Nation under The Guidance of Almighty God.

FC: In September 2007, you brought nearly 1,000 Student Laborers to a Conference at The Farm. The theme of this conference was “Making His Word Bond.” The Student Laborers were introduced to the process of Deliberative Dialogue, with a goal that it would help free the Believer in the Mosque to be able give their gifts, skills and talents to their Nation.

At the conference, you removed all titles, and asked us to be students and servants. Though it may have been a bitter pill for some, it was good medicine for all who would accept. Please explain.

MLF: Titles presuppose qualification. When people who are not qualified wear a title that suggests qualification, it tends to make the title-wearer believe that they are qualified to administer the authority of such a title. What that does is it impedes not only the progress of the mosque or the Nation, but it impedes the development of the individual, for the individual, in thinking they are what they are not, refuses to study to become what they are called.

One of the things that I have noticed about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and there is something that I read in Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” is that he said “Give a person a good name to live up to.”

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad called us “Muslims.” That is our nature; a Muslim is a righteous person—he is giving us a good name to live up to.

In the 1930s, we started a school called “The University of Islam.” The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was calling it what he eventually wanted it to become, but he was giving us a good name so we would continue to strive to be the University.

Well, calling us “Minister” without qualification could make us think that because we speak well, or we could give a few lectures and people cheer, that we now have become what we are called, and we stop striving. Because of that, I removed all titles so that we would see ourselves as we are in the Nation—all Students of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the Classroom of God.

We are being qualified by God, through the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, to become great Laborers in His cause, but we have not arrived yet, so we now need to take away from ourselves the arrogance that attends title; the arrogance that attends authority, that allows us to abuse ourselves and others because we arrogate to ourselves that we have arrived, when in fact we have not.

We are asking everyone in the Nation of Islam, as they come into the Nation as Students, to remain Students and to take on the mind of a Servant, for that is what Jesus asked of his disciples: “If any man would be great among you, let him be your Servant.”

We have never functioned like that in this world. In this world, when you get a big title, you want people to serve you—not you serve people. Jesus reversed this, and so did Muhammad, that when you meet such men as Muhammad and Jesus, then you become a Student and a Servant of others in the Way of God.

FC: You recently introduced to the Nation a series of Tuesday classes dealing with Deliberative Dialogue and the Science of Management conducted by Brother Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad and Brother Michael Muhammad.

What are the aims, goals and objectives for these series of classes? How do you believe that these classes will benefit the Believer or any person who would participate?

MLF: In our instructions from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, he told us that we should speak the truth regardless of whom or what. He taught us that the heavens and the earth are created in truth, and truth is the only power that sustains the universe.

He told us, “Have no quarreling among the Believers.” If we can’t quarrel with one another, certainly we are not permitted to fight one another, so what is it that settles argument? It is law; it is truth.

In the process of Deliberative Dialogue, we dialogue over the things that we have disagreement over until we reach consensus, or truth. And since you want truth, I want truth and we all want truth, if we unite on the basis of truth, then we have the power of truth and our unity to accomplish whatever objective is in front of us.

The process of Deliberative Dialogue can help us in our homes to ease conflict between siblings and to ease conflict in marital relationships. Even though the male is in authority by God’s permission from both Bible and Qur’an, and the nature in which He created male and female, yet authority must rest with truth. So, if the female brings to the male; or the subordinate brings to the superior, truth, we cannot use our superior position to knock down a person who brings us truth. If truth is the boss in our house, then whenever truth is spoken, we bow before the Majesty of Truth and in that truth, we find unity and power.

Also, we need to learn the Science and the Art of Management. Managing our lives; managing our families; managing our resources; managing a business; managing a mosque; managing a corporate entity—all of it is based on immutable laws that are scientific. Once we learn the Science and the Art of Management, we become better suited to work in a cause that is bigger than ourselves.

FC: We have been blessed on Friday nights for you to conduct Spiritual Classes into the meaning of The Supreme Wisdom Lessons given by Master Fard Muhammad to His servant, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

How will our understanding of the revelation contained in The Supreme Wisdom Lessons prepare us to be better helpers in The Mission and Cause of the rise of our people?

MLF: To understand that Master Fard Muhammad, To Whom Praise is Due Forever, was and is the Best Friend of the Black Nation; and He studied 42 years to deliver us from the torment and oppression of our oppressor. These Lessons that He gave us, which He called “Supreme Wisdom”—if properly plumbed [examined]; if properly understood—gives us insight into the beautiful metaphors in the Bible and Qur’an.

There is much truth in the Bible, but it is put in a language that makes it difficult for the lay person to grasp the esoteric or inner meaning of the scripture. So it is with the Qur’an, but the Qur’an says there are verses in the book that are decisive, and there are verses that are allegorical, and those in whose hearts is a disease love the allegorical parts.

These Supreme Wisdom Lessons cause us to communicate with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his Teacher at the Highest Level of Communication.

If the man that came is The Mahdi—one in Whom is the indwelling Mind, Spirit, Knowledge, Wisdom and Power of God—and He raised a question, then if we get in touch with His question to His Prime Student, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad; and get in touch with the answers that he gave to his Teacher’s questions, then we are in touch with Two People Who Are The Most Important People for the time in which we live.

Communicating with these Two, through such interplay with questions and answers, energizes us to the point that our whole mind, spirit and body takes on change due to the High Level of Spiritual Energy that comes to us from contact with these Two Men. This leads us to God’s message to Prophet Muhammad.

A God; an Eternal God giving a prophet a message—we need insight into that great message of the Qur’an, and these Supreme Wisdom Lessons help us to see the relationship between God and a Student: Allah and Muhammad. By entering into that discourse with God and a Student, we become Students of God, and, therefore, grow into the Mind, Wisdom and Spirit of God, Himself.

FC: As part of your “One Nation Under God” series, you taught a lecture titled “The Fall of The Dollar.” We have witnessed in 2007 the steady decline of the U.S. dollar, which is now devalued against the Canadian currency. In the international arena, we see the rise of the Euro, which is beginning to replace the U.S. dollar as the currency standard.

How must we now prepare ourselves in this current economic crisis as the dollar continues to fall? What is the prophetic meaning of the fall of the U.S. dollar?

MLF: We should amass as many of these falling dollars as possible, and use the falling dollar that is losing its value every day against the currencies of the world to then buy that which will only increase in value. This is why today, with a falling dollar, Europeans and Asians are now investing heavily in America with their dollar reserves.

Since we collectively have dollars, shouldn’t we pool these dollars with someone whom we trust? Then, we should go and buy something that does not decrease in value: Land, from which we get food, clothing and shelter, to build for ourselves a new and independent economy.

Of course, the prophetic meaning of the fall of the U.S. dollar is the fall of the United States government, as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught me when the German Mark lost its value, the German government came down behind the fall of its currency.

The government of the United States is tearing itself apart. When the dollar falls, what will happen to the minds of the people—who have been manipulated, deceived and robbed—when they are not able to get the value of what they have worked so hard for? I read something recently that said when this event comes to pass (the fall of the dollar and the collapse of the stock market), it will make what happened in 1929 look like a “walk in the park.”

We are facing serious economic hardship. We must unite and pool our resources and get land that we can call our own.

FC: January 2008 will begin the official primary season to select the Democratic and Republican nominee for the White House in 2009. For the first time in American history, we have a female frontrunner: Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton; and a strong African-American contender: Senator Barack Obama, who has great appeal across racial, gender and age categories.

Do these candidacies indicate a real change in America regarding her history of racial and gender bias? Will the hope of a potential female or African-American president change the reality of the Black, Native American, poor and oppressed people of this land who seek Freedom, Justice and Equality?

MLF: These candidates and their rise in popularity among the people do indicate a change in the attitude of many Americans concerning females and Blacks.

Barack Obama has been very careful not to position himself as Reverend Jesse Jackson or Reverend Al Sharpton as a promoter of “The Black Cause.” He has been groomed, wisely so, to be seen more as a unifier, rather than one who speaks only for the hurt of Black people. In this, he has tapped the dissatisfaction of many Whites, Blacks, Hispanics and Asians across the spectrum, because who cares what color you are if you can save them from the mess that they find themselves in.

However, the hope of a potential female or African-American president I don’t think is enough to change the reality of the Black, Native American, poor and oppressed people of this land. There are forces, beyond the president, that dictate how the president presides. There are forces that Barack Obama may see, or may not see, and these are the forces that kill presidents when presidents don’t act as they think the president should act to further their ends; thus the killing of Abraham Lincoln and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The forces of racism in this country are still very strong. Even though there is strong mass appeal, if the racist element in this country thinks that Barack Obama will be our next president, they may come out of the woodwork if they can’t bend him, and hurt our Brother, and therefore show the country though the masses may say “We like him,” the forces may say “He is not one of us.”

FC: What is your view of the recent meeting in Annapolis, Maryland by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claiming to seek a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? How does this impact on the international struggle for peace in the Middle East?

MLF: Unfortunately, this is more “smoke and mirrors,” and deception. President Bush has had a miserable tenure in office, and he may leave office with the lowest approval rating of any president in recent history. And being conscious of his legacy, he wants to promote a solution of peace in the Middle East, but not a peace based on true justice for the Palestinian people.

As I said over 20 years ago, there will be no peace for Israel, because there can be no peace as long as that peace is based on lying, stealing, murder, and using God’s name to shield a wicked, unjust practice that is not in harmony with the Will of God.

Twenty years later, Israel still does not have peace, and she will not have peace because there can be no peace without justice for the Palestinian people.

How does this impact on the international struggle for peace? The president now is going to Israel; he is going to Saudi Arabia—what are you going there for? You are going to visit the Palestinians? What are you going there for?

The enemy cannot rule except through the age-old tactic that has always worked for them of “divide and conquer,” because there are differences between the Shia and the Sunni—and Iran is Shia; and Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and much of the Muslim world is Sunni. America knows that if they can go to Saudi Arabia and break any bond between two Muslims, and position those countries and other Muslims in the area against Iran, so that if America should bomb Iran, or, if Israel would bomb Iran, America would have to come in on the side of Israel.

The only way to avert this from happening is that the whole Muslim world must see the aims of President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who are under the influence of Zionists, and that they can never be dispassionate brokers for peace. Pres. Bush and Sec. Rice will always come down on the side of Israel to the detriment of America and any real peace that could be made in that region of the world.

FC: In 2007, we have witnessed President George W. Bush come face-to-face with the consequences of your warnings to him contained in your letters of December 1, 2001 and October 30, 2002.

Pres. Bush seems determined to continue his war against Islam. He is now attempting to create a climate to justify an attack on the independent nation of Iran. What steps should the international community in general, and the Muslim world in particular, take to avert a war that would engulf the entire world?

MLF: To the international community, I say the principle of justice is the greatest principle of fair dealing. If the international community would deal fairly, they could prevent a war that is triggered by an unprovoked attack on Iran.

However, the Zionists have worked their way into control in America, Britain, France, Germany and other countries of the world, so Europe will not favor a just solution to the problem presented by Iran’s desire for Atomic knowledge, and how to use that knowledge for peaceful purposes.

The Muslim world must understand that Prophet Muhammad was neither Sunni or Shia; He was neither Hanafi, Hanbali, Sufi—none of these names did the Prophet have.

Prophet Muhammad was a Muslim, and the Qur’an says to the Muslims: “Hold fast to the rope of Islam and be not divided.”

If the Muslim world will rise above this sectarianism of Shia and Sunni, and hold fast to Islam, for at the root of that rope is the bearing of witness that “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger.” If the Islamic people will hold onto that rope, and be united around that, we can stop the West from any attempt to bomb Iran.

Or, if they do, our unified response would be devastating to the Western powers.

FC: Recently, you gave a series of lectures titled “Justifiable Homicide.” With the themes “Black Youth in Peril,” “An Executive Decision,” and “The American Gangster,” what did Allah (God) show you that caused you to deliver these messages to our youth? What guidance would you give to our youth who appear to be targets for slaughter by our open enemy?

MLF: For the last 20 years, I have been warning that the war that the President of the United States had called his Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss was a war that would be seen on two fronts: One in the Middle East with a Muslim nation; and the second, inside America with the tiny little Muslim Nation of Islam, and Black youth in particular.

That is what motivated my “Stop the Killing” tours and my visits to many cities, calling on Black men; and then the Million Man March and the positive effect that march had on the world’s view of the potential of Black men in particular, and Black people in general.

The government’s aim has now come to the point of execution: It is an Executive Decision, at the highest order, that Black youth are a danger to the future of White people.

White people are vexed with our young people, particularly our hip hop artists who are taking their young people away from the racist White Supremist idea. For these young people to be in love with Black sports figures; Black entertainment figures; and now, in admiration of a Black political figure (Barack Obama) signals the end—to them—of White Supremacy.

So the messages of American Gangster promote a “gangster” style of life; promoting drug culture that leads to death, as well as to prison. A gangster style of life puts the enemy in control of the future of our youth if we choose this lifestyle.

The FBI and police departments across the country were mobilized to end the Mafia, Cosa Nostra and “organized crime”—which, of course they have not—however, the FBI and police organizations are now working to destroy gangs and to destroy Black youth who have found refuge in gang life, in gangster life, in drugs and crime. The enemy has closed the factories in the inner cities, leaving Black youth with very little hope of a future.

FC: What is the theme for Saviours’ Day 2008? Would you share with our readers its meaning?

MLF: This Saviours’ Day, our subject matter is: “The Gods At War: The Future is All About Y.O.U.t.h.”—with my focus particularly on Black, Hispanic and Native American youth.

The Future is All About Y.O.U.t.h.; Young People Organized and United To Help in the raising of the consciousness of the people, and putting people to work doing something for self.

That is why we chose this theme for Saviours’ Day, and from Saviours’ Day on, we will be going after our youth, and through the Millions More Movement organizing preachers, politicians and activists to help us to save our young people from the slaughter proposed by this Executive Decision.

But I warn the Government of the United States and all those who have power and will use it against the rise of our people:

I want you to keep your eyes on the weather. Allah (God) is going to demonstrate that there is another Power inside America and throughout the world other than your power, which will stop you from killing our people wholesale. If this Executive Decision is carried forth, it will mean the destruction of the United States of America.

FC: Thank you.


© Copyright 2008 FCN Publishing, FinalCall.com

Monday, 7 January 2008

VEILED FRENCH MUSLIM WOMEN STICK TWO FINGERS UP AT THE FRENCH REPUBLIC

Heads and the state

By Carla Power

NEW STATESMAN
03 January 2008

The Politics of the Veil
Joan Wallach Scott Princeton University Press, 208pp, £14.95

The six years since the 11 September 2001 attacks have changed the way western liberals talk about Islam. In the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing, the focus was on jihadists, or criminals who cloaked themselves in Islam's mantle to wage a campaign against western global domination. But with Osama Bin Laden still not captured and with fears of terrorism changing western civilisation, from air travel to constitutional freedoms, the discourse on Islam has become increasingly diffuse. As Europe grapples with its evolving status as a region of immigrants, Muslim culture - and not just its perversion in Islamist ideology - has been cast as a threat.

A powerful weapon in Islam's arsenal is women's clothing. A charged symbol of the changing face of Europe, the veil has become as hotly debated a topic as terrorism. At times, the terror threat and the threat from veiled women are neatly braided together, as when a male terrorist suspect fled Britain in a burqa. Veil-bashing is suddenly socially acceptable among not merely tabloid-reading Little Englanders, but also metropolitan sophisticates. Centrist politicians such as Jack Straw voiced disquiet over its effects on the democracy. Salman Rushdie supported him in no uncertain terms: "Veils," he said, "suck."

But British debates about the veil pale next to those in France. Three times since 1989, debate has erupted over allowing girls to wear the hijab in French state schools, culminating in the 2004 ban on "conspicuous signs" of religious affiliation in schools. Though the ban applies as much to yarmulkes and crosses as headscarves, it was designed for Muslim hijabis. The law was passed after a polarising national debate in which the veil was pitted against the "values of the Republic". The then president, Jacques Chirac, described the veil as "a kind of aggression".

Why should a bit of cloth so threaten the French republic? That is the central question posed by a subtle new study, The Politics of the Veil, by the American historian Joan Wallach Scott. Many French commentators cast the debate about the veil as an issue about Muslims, Islam and integration. Scott, a distinguished historian at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, shows that it revealed rather more about the French themselves. It challenged France's notion of laïcité, or secularism, as well as its attitudes to sexuality and individualism. The veil debate was, writes Scott, "a way of insisting on the timeless superiority of French 'civilisation' in the face of a changing world". With its beloved 35-hour week and state benefits system threatened, its schools and its suburbs in crisis, its relevance as a global power a dimming memory, it is not surprising that France freighted the issue with hundreds of years of cultural baggage. As Professor Scott writes: "The preservation of a mythical notion of 'France' in its many aspects was a driving force in the affaire des foulards."

The veil debate drew on a history of racism burnished during the colonial era. The French justified their occupation of Algeria, which began in 1830 and ended in humiliation in 1962, as part of la mission civilisatrice - the project of bringing post-Enlightenment values to the Arabs. Civilising the natives meant separating them from Islam, which was widely cast as a cruel and irrational system, "at once a symptom of innate Arab perversity and the cause of it", writes Scott.

Such Islamophobia blinded even Alexis de Tocqueville, that peerless commentator on power and politics. "There are in the entire world few religions with such morbid consequences as that of Mohammed," he wrote in 1843. "To me it is the primary cause of the now visible decadence of the Islamic world." Such logic, observes Scott, points to the "paradox of the civilising mission", one that continues today: a "commitment to change and uplift could be confirmed only in juxtaposition to the permanent inferiority of those it claimed to be civilising".

For the 21st-century French intent on civilising the Muslims in their midst, civilisation meant sexual freedom, and Muslim women must be "liberated" from the veil to enjoy the same sexual freedoms as their Gallic sisters. The veil, commonly read by westerners and Muslim feminists alike as a way of regulating sexual freedom, not only challenged French notions of sexual liberation, it also showed up the limits of the fundamental equalities guaranteed to French citizens.

By covering their heads, Muslim girls were highlighting gender differences, which, as Scott shows, chipped away at the cornerstone of French egalitarianism. Banning the hijab from schools, French officials argued, would remove any sign of women's inequality from the classroom. And equality between the sexes, they said, was the first principle of the republic and a vital tenet of la laïcité. "According to republican political theory, citizens are abstract individuals, indistinguishable from one another." By marking out their difference from other French citizens with veils, Muslim women stick two fingers up at the cosy notions of liberty, equality and fraternity.

Heads and the state

Sunday, 6 January 2008

REVIEW OF ARETHA FRANKLINS NEW COLLECTION

Aretha Franklin: preaching the gospel of liberation

Socialist Worker (Britain)

A new collection of rare and previously unreleased recordings by Aretha Franklin are a powerful reminder of how she transformed popular music, writes Yuri Prasad

In 1967, at the high point of the civil rights movement in
the US, Ebony magazine proclaimed, “This is the summer of
’Retha, Rap, and Revolt”.

’Retha referred to Aretha Franklin, Rap referred to Black
Panther leader H Rap Brown, and the revolt was a reference
to the wave of riots that were sweeping America’s inner
cities.

From seemingly out of nowhere Aretha had become the hottest
name in soul music, one whose songs and singing style spoke
directly to the burgeoning movements for liberation.

Even if privately she was shy and withdrawn, on stage and
on record Aretha was their very emblem – a young, strong
and confident Black woman.

Yet it had not always been so. In 1960, at the age of 18,
Aretha had signed to the Columbia label with a reputation
as gospel singer who was now “ready to go secular”.

While there she was put in an artistic straight jacket,
recording regular ballads and some jazz standards. A few
hits followed, but the music world was heading in a very
different direction and Aretha was sidelined.

Everything changed when she signed to Atlantic Records at
the end of 1966.

Label boss Jerry Wexler took her to an obscure recording
studio in Alabama, called Muscle Shoals.

There she sat at a piano, surrounded by a group of white
studio musicians and studio staff, and belted out I Never
Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) – one of the most
momentous takes in the history of black music.

The decision to take Aretha to the South was an attempt to
capture the “natural sound” that was coming out of record
labels like Stax, in Memphis – a sound that made better use
of Aretha’s gospel training and her amazing vocal range.

The Southern studios, with their reputation for producing
an “authentic” form of soul music, in which musicians and
singers were granted a lot of artistic prerogative, were
establishing themselves as a rival to the dominance of
Detroit’s Motown.

You can hear the results on the early demos on this two CD
album – I Never Loved A Man and Dr Feelgood.

The new freedom Aretha was enjoying allowed her to be true
to her own style, as well as her emotions. You can hear it
when you listen to her voice soaring in her version of
You’re All I Need To Get By, or the B-side, Pledging My
Love.

Aretha’s years of singing gospel, where the spirit of the
music can take the singer on any number of improvised
exaltations, where now put to work in some of the most
emotional and believable soul records ever recorded.

And even as she sang lyrics that were typically submissive
– like You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman – Aretha could
turn the song into one that places her own emotional and
sexual needs as central, making it an anthem for
liberation.

Aretha’s importance was understood well beyond the US.

In the sleeve notes of the album Wexler writes that Paul
McCartney sent him a demo version of the Beatles song Let
It Be, saying he had written the song for Aretha, and
asking her to record it – Aretha was initially unkeen,
saying that as she couldn’t relate to the lyrics she
couldn’t sing it.

She did, however, record an intriguing version of Lennon
and McCartney’s The Fool On The Hill, which is present on
the album.

The second CD in this album takes us through the early
1970s, by which time Aretha’s “Queen of Soul” crown was
beyond doubt.

Yet many of the songs are distinctly less optimistic than
those of the sixties, and many, like Can You Ever Love
Again? deal with irrevocable break up.

It is tempting to see Aretha’s work through the lens of her
own life stories – being on the receiving end of domestic
violence, manipulation and heartbreak – but the songs of
the later period are more than that.

As with much soul music, tales of relationship break-ups
can also be read as commentaries on a society that
repeatedly offers dreams of freedom and equality – but one
which cheats and lies.

They reflect the bleak feeling in Black America in the wake
of the assassination of Martin Luther King, the jailing of
many leaders of the Black Panther Party and the increasing
ghettoisation that accompanied the economic recession of
the mid-1970s.

Between the years 1967 and 1973 Aretha Franklin was making
some the most vital and innovative music of the age.

Even if you have most of her other recordings, this album
is a must.