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Fw: RN060706 Irish news - Mon-Thu 3-6 July

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  • Jim Mackle
    ... From: Irish Republican News To: jjmack1@hotmail.com Sent: Friday, July 07, 2006 4:01 AM
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 10, 2006
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      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Friday, July 07, 2006 4:01 AM
      Subject: RN060706 Irish news - Mon-Thu 3-6 July

          IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS
          http://republican-news.org
         
          Monday-Thursday, 3-6 July, 2006


      1.  TIME TO GO
      2.  Ardoyne march dispute reignites
      3.  RUC man ran collusion HQ - Barron
      4.  Demilitarisation or not?
      5.  PSNI back sectarian flag intimidation
      6.  Attacks on homes, school
      7.  Feature: An experiment in human despair
      8.  Analysis: No dumbing down of the Orange Order
       
       
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------


      >>>>>> TIME TO GO
       
       
       26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern this week faced calls for an early
       election amid a public outcry over mounting evidence of serious
       incompetence within his cabinet and senior civil service.
       
       The Dublin government is currently investigating why the Justice
       Ministry and Attorney General's Office weren't aware of a court case
       that led to the striking down of the country's statutory-rape law and
       the release a week later of a man convicted of sexually assaulting a
       12-year-old girl.  The government has blamed the crisis on "human
       error".
       
       Meanwhile, the quality of health care in Ireland was ranked 25th out of
       26 countries in a survey published last month by Swedish-based Health
       Consumer Powerhouse, even though spending on health services has risen
       almost fourfold under Ahern's government.   A continuing failure to
       deliver emergency health services to critically ill and elderly
       patients, with patients forces to wait days for urgent care, created a
       recent wave of public anger.
       
       Technical tasks such as the introduction of a computerised payroll
       system in the Department of Health and a vote-counting system for use
       in elections have proven beyond the abilities of highly paid
       administrators.  Both failures have cost hundreds of millions of Euros,
       with costs continuing to mount.
       
       Crime is also causing alarm. Eighteen people died in gang shootings
       last year, more than twice the number in 2004. Six people have been
       killed in one area of Dublin already this year.
       
       Ahern has rejected allegations of cronyism and low public standards in
       government circles.
       
       "I can assure you that this government intends to finish the job the
       people gave us to do," Ahern insisted during a two-day parliamentary
       debate on a censure proposal by opposition lawmakers. The government's
       current term runs until May 2007.
       
       Ahern, who has led a coalition of his Fianna Fail party and the
       Progressive Democrats since 1997, is fighting a decline in voter
       support after crises including the temporary freeing from prison of a
       convicted child rapist, public anger over hospital overcrowding, an
       escalating number of gang shootings and soaring prices for consumers.
       
       Thirty-seven percent of voters back the coalition, according to a poll
       carried out for the Sunday Business Post newspaper, nine points down
       from the 46 percent the government won in the 2002 election.
       
       "It's not where I'd like to be when it comes to a general election,''
       Ahern said this week. "When I think of all the events of the last
       month, it's acceptable enough."
       
       The government is considered likely to use its 2007 budget in December
       to bribe voters, with the tax take, as usual, coming in ahead of
       expectations.
       
       While a give-away budget would put money in people's pockets, much of
       that extra cash will be spent paying rising "stealth taxes" for
       government services. Car tax has risen 18 percent in the last four
       years, hospital fees have jumped 52 percent and water supply and
       garbage-disposal charges have more than doubled, all outpacing a 12
       percent increase in average consumer prices.
       
       While the 26-County state remains one of the most highly taxed
       societies in the world, certain "insider" industries and a select elite
       of super-rich have been seen to escape with little or no tax liablity.
       
       "No other government has been in office against the background of such
       favorable economic conditions and yet has failed to deliver in so many
       key areas," said opposition  Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny in a
       statement. "There is now an unprecedented hunger for change."
       
       Sinn Fein's leader in the Dublin parliament, Caoimhghin O Caolain, said
       that the forthcoming General Election should not be fought on the
       narrow ground agreed by Fine Gael and Labour.   In the latest poll, the
       party saw its support increase to 9%, up from 8%.
       
       Deputy O Caolain said the Fine Gael/Labour motion deliberately omitted
       fundamental failures of the current government because these two
       parties cannot publicly agree on them -- at least in advance of a
       General Election while each tries to retain its support base.
       
       Seeking an amendment to the motion, Sinn Fein revealed key government
       failures which it intends to make General Election issues, including:
       the inequitable and inefficient two-tier health system; the
       privatisation of the national airline, Aer Lingus; the misuse of his
       position by the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell; the giveaway of
       natural resources to multi-nationals such as Shell against the national
       and local interest; the failure to provide for representation in the
       Dublin parliament for citizens in the Six Counties; and the overall
       "sluggish" approach to the peace process by Ahern's government.
       
       SAVE TARA PARTY?
       
       Meanwhile, campaigners opposed to the routing of a planned motorway
       through Tara, the legendary ancient capital of Ireland, may form a
       political protest party to run at the next general election, it has
       emerged.
       
       The High Court ruled in March that the chosen route did not impinge
       upon the ancient Hill of Tara site, but the group TaraWatch is
       appealing this decision to the Supreme Court.
       
       TaraWatch supporters held a protest yesterday outside the Dublin
       parliament in protest. Spokesman Vincent Salafia, who already faces a
       600,000 Euro bill over legal challenges to the road, said he would form
       a political party to fight the issue at the general election in 2007.
       
       "If the mainstream political parties don't bite on the issue, then we
       will have to form our own political grouping," Mr Salafia said.
       
       "There is a lot of support for our campaign on the ground, and there
       will be a lot of votes on the doorsteps come general election time."
       
       "We believe that 70 per cent of people want the M3 rerouted away from
       Tara but the Government isn't listening to them. If we cannot stop the
       motorway in the courts, we will try to stop it in the Dail."
       
       TDs Sean Crowe (Sinn Fein), Ciaran Cuffe (Green Party) and Tony Gregory
       (Independent), attended today's demonstration.
       
       A candle-lit walk will be held later this month along the planned route
       of the motorway to Tara.
       
       
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------


      >>>>>> Ardoyne march dispute reignites
       
       
       Nationalists have expressed anger that a coat-trailing Orange Order
       parade is to be allowed to pass Ardoyne in north Belfast on the evening
       of the Twelfth of July, despite calling off a protest for a morning
       parade on the same day.
       
       The Twelfth marks the height of the Protestant marching season, which
       this year has been marked by a conciliatory nationalist approach in
       Ardoyne and elsewhere.
       
       However, last [Thursday] night the Parades Commission ruled that four
       Orange lodges and three accompanying bands will be allowed to march
       along the Crumlin Road on the evening of the Twelfth.
       
       Potentially violent loyalist 'hangers-on' are to be bussed through the
       interface, a condition which is opposed by the marchers.
       
       Ardoyne Parades Dialogue Group spokesman Joe Marley expressed deep
       disappointment that an evening parade had been given the go-ahead.
       
       "We decided not to hold a protest during the morning parade as a
       confidence-building measure to show that we are serious about solving
       the issue of contentious parades," he said.
       
       "However, we have serious concerns that another of these contentious
       evening parades has been allowed to proceed past nationalist houses on
       the Crumlin Road. We note that supporters will not be allowed to parade
       all the route and must be bussed up earlier.
       
       "The PSNI must not be allowed to overrule this ban, as they have done
       in previous years, which has led to serious scenes of violence."
       
       North and West Belfast Parades Forum spokesman Tommy Cheevers said any
       attempt to bus march supporters through the flashpoint area was
       "madness".
       
       "Who is going to put these supporters on the buses and what is going to
       happen to the parade if they refuse to get on?" he said.
       
       "What legislation is the Parades Commission using to say that these
       supporters have to go through on buses?"
       
       Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly criticised the determination, saying it would
       force an anti-Catholic parade through a nationalist area twice in one
       day.
       
       "There is no logic behind an organisation wishing to march through
       areas where the community who live there do not welcome them," he said.
       
       "It is the wrong decision and many will feel that it has come about as
       a direct result of the threat of unionist paramilitary violence."
       
       
       ORDER WELCOMES UVF?
       
       * Two convicted unionist paramilitaries may be allowed to stay in the
       Orange Order, England's most senior Orangeman has said.
       
       Liverpool men Roy Barwise and John Irwin were sentenced to four and a
       half years and two and a half years respectively this week on charges
       of UVF membership and possession of weapons.
       
       The two men were arrested last year after a UVF arms haul was found at
       the home of Liverpool Orangeman Alan Clair in 2004.
       
       Clair was later jailed for eight years for UVF membership and
       possession of weapons.
       
       Despite yesterday's convictions, the Grand Master of the Orange Order
       in England, Ron Bather, said the men might not be expelled from the
       order because membership of a paramilitary organisation may not break
       the laws of the Order, which works to defeat Catholicism.
       
       Sinn Fein assembly member Philip McGuigan said questions now needed to
       be asked about the Northern Ireland Office's decision to give #100,000
       funding to the Orange Order last week.
       
       "In the past month alone in court cases in both Scotland and England
       convicted unionist paramilitaries from both the UDA and UVF have been
       linked to the Orange Order," he said.
       
       "I am calling on David Hanson, the British direct-rule minister who
       decided to hand over #100,000 of taxpayers' money to the Orange Order,
       to comment on these latest cases.
       
       "Is he in any position to guarantee that this money will not end up in
       the hands of unionist paramilitaries, who without doubt are prevalent
       within the order?
       
       "Silence from the minister on this matter is not an option."
       
       
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------


      >>>>>> RUC man ran collusion HQ - Barron
       
       
       The farm of an RUC policeman was used as a centre of operations for
       unionist paramilitary activity at the height of the conflict, according
       to the final report of Justice Henry Barron.
       
       The farm of RUC reservist James Mitchell has been singled out in the
       new report as a base for the UVF men who carried out bomb attacks on
       both sides of the border in the mid-seventies, including the 1975
       Dundalk bombing.
       
       the former Supreme Court judge first referred to the Mitchell farm near
       Newtownhamilton in his report on the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings,
       in which 33 people died and hundreds were injured.
       
       In his final report, Mr Barron repeated his belief that the farm
       provided a base for the UVF men who carried out bomb attacks on both
       sides of the border in the mid-seventies, including the 1975 Dundalk
       bombing, in which two men died and twenty were injured.
       
       Margaret Urwin of the Justice for the Forgotten group last night
       expressed her disappointment that while the judge appeared reluctant to
       clearly confirm the existence of collusion between loyalist death
       squads and British forces.
       
       "He seemed to be hedging his bets. He just won't come down and say
       outright that there definitely was collusion which is very
       disappointing," she said.
       
       In the case of the Dundalk attack, the judge referred to 19 suspects
       but only named seven, including known loyalists. Several others' names
       were blacked out.
       
       He also complained that entire albums of suspects' photographs had gone
       missing without a trace from Garda files.
       
       He revealed that the accusation that four RUC members in the Portadown
       area were UVF members had been passed from the gardai to the Department
       of Justice and on to the Department of Foreign Affairs - but documents
       could only be found in the latter department's files.
       
       Ms Urwin expressed fury at how relatives of those killed in a number of
       loyalist atrocities investigated by Mr Justice Barron had been treated
       by the Irish government.
       
       She said that they had been given just 24 hours notice that the report
       was to be published yesterday by a parliamentary Committee - and had
       been given the judge's finding just 35 minutes before they were made
       public.
       
       "These people have been treated appallingly," she said, also voicing
       her disappointment at the lack of new information on the Miami Showband
       massacre and the Castleblayney bombing.
       
       Earlier, Margaret English, whose father Hugh Watters died in the
       Dundalk bombing, said victims' families had been neglected by the
       26-County state for three decades.
       
       "I think the bombers were treated better than we were," she said.
       
       "It is absolutely disgusting that citizens of the state were treated in
       this way."
       
       Ms English added that her family had not received any cooperation from
       gardai when they held an event at the scene to mark the 30th
       ann-iversary of the atrocity in December last year.
       
       Dublin parliamentary hearings on the Barron report are due to take
       place from late September.
       
       
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------


      >>>>>> Demilitarisation or not?
       
       
       The British army is expected to vacate its last hill-top spy post in
       south Armagh next week amid a controversy over the future of British
       Army lands in the area.
       
       Sinn Fein assembly member Davy Hyland said he had been told by the
       British government that soldiers will be leaving the Forkhill watch
       tower.
       
       Since 1999 a total of 13 towers have been dismantled from the south
       Armagh skyline.
       
       In April work began on the last five posts at Camlough Mountain,
       Jonesborough Hill and Croslieve Hill.
       
       "It is obviously welcome that the British government has finally got
       round to honouring their commitments regarding removing their war
       apparatus from our community," Mr Hyland said.
       
       However, the assembly member said future ownership of the land remained
       in question.
       
       He also said there were concerns the Policing Board and PSNI would
       attempt to take control of land currently occupied by the British army
       in the village of Crossmaglen.
       
       "This is unacceptable and Sinn Fein has raised this matter with both
       governments," he said.
       
       Roughly ten thousands British soldiers remain stationed in the North of
       Ireland. In addition, many former British Army bases in soutgh Armagh
       are to be retained by the PSNI police and/or used for electronic
       surveillance purposes.
       
       Louth Sinn Fein TD Arthur Morgan called on the Taoiseach to immediately
       intervene following the announcement by the British authorities this
       week that they are going to hold on to land belonging to residents
       adjoining the British military base in Crossmaglen.
       
       Speaking in the Dail, Deputy Morgan said there was "an urgent need for
       real progress in removing all huge British military monstrosities from
       Irish towns and the Taoiseach must show a commitment to achieving this.
       
       "There is also a need for a real commitment from this house to deal
       with this issue seriously, to show the people of Crossmaglen and other
       deeply militarised zones that this house will not accept a British
       Government betrayal of any of its Good Friday Agreement commitments
       including demilitarisation."
       
       Local Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy attacked the SDLP for its silence on
       what he described as a "land grab" by the PSNI.
       
       "We can only assume given their role on the Policing Board that the
       SDLP endorse this land theft by the PSNI and are simply hoping to ride
       out any adverse publicity that will arise," he said.
       
       "It seems that for the SDLP it is better to stay on the side of the
       securocrats in the PSNI who are behind this plan than side with local
       nationalists and republicans demanding a complete end to the British
       occupation in South Armagh."
       
       
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------


      \>>>>>> PSNI back sectarian flag intimidation
       
       
       The PSNI police has been accused of "working hand in glove" with the
       unionist paramilitary LVF to erect flags in the nationalist end of
       Lurgan town last week.
       
       Local nationalists made video recordings showing the PSNI working with
       senior LVF figures to erect loyalist flags in Lurgan town centre.  PSNI
       members then attempted to steal mobile phones and other photographic
       equipment from nationalists monitoring their behaviour.
       
       Sinn Fein Assembly member for the area, John O'Dowd is to initiate a
       formal complaint with the  Police Ombudsman into the matter.
       
       "Up to six PSNI land rovers and dozens of armed PSNI members in riot
       gear hemmed the nationalist community in as the illegal operation to
       erect the flags was completed," he said.
       
       "Nationalists in Lurgan are furious both with the erection of the flags
       and the role of the PSNI and LVF in this."
       
       Mr O'Dowd said the Land Rovers "effectively sealed off" the nationalist
       end of the town at around 9pm.
       
       "The purpose of this PSNI operation was to allow known members of the
       LVF to erect loyalist flags on lamp-posts the whole length of the town
       centre," he said.
       
       Catholic owned homes on the nearby Antrim Road were later
       attacked by a loyalist mob and the PSNI failed to turn up when
       contacted by a local resident.
       
       DERRY
       
       Catholic residents in Derry's Waterside have expressed concern over the
       erection of loyalist flags on lamp posts along one of the main arterial
       routes into the city.
       
       The flags - including UVF paramilitary flags - were erected close to
       Irish Street over the weekend.
       
       The PSNI said all flags in the area were legal, claiming the flags may
       be commemorating the old UVF of 1912.
       
       A Catholic man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was faced with
       a "sea of flags" whenever he left home.
       
       "I live in a mixed area and I wouldn't dream of putting out an Irish
       tricolour on St Patrick's Day," he said.
       
       "I could understand the Union flag or the Ulster flag but there are
       also UVF flags and that is very threatening."
       
       BELFAST
       
       Meanwhile, a UDA banner was controversially erected in a mixed
       residential area of south Belfast ahead of an Orange Order parade on
       Ormeau Road.
       
       Thhe banner placed near the entrance to Annadale flats at the junction of
       Candahar Street and Haypark Drive reads 'Annadale Loyalists, Ormeau
       Road Battallion, South Belfast', with UDA insignia and a clenched red
       hand of Ulster.
       
       Sinn Fein assembly member for South Belfast Alex Maskey said that the
       perception of the area as a well integrated one had led to an increase
       in the number of flags and banners.
       
       "This area has been held up by the Housing Executive as a shining
       example of a mixed housing with more Catholics and ethnic communities
       moving in to the area," he said.
       
       "But that hasn't been maintained. There has been an increase in the
       number of flags and the Parades Commission have allowed flute bands to
       go right through all of those streets, something that hasn't been
       allowed in the past.
       
       "Whatever happened to traditional routes? Nationalist expression of
       opinion would not be allowed in the same way.
       
       "In some ways the fact that the area is being viewed as this highlight
       of mixed housing is masking some of the activity that is going on
       there, with more flags and bigger bonfires in the area."
       
       
       LISBURN RULING
       
       However, a finding that Lisburn City Council disregarded equality rules
       controlling the display of flags has been welcomed as a "victory
       against discrimination and sectarianism".
       
       An investigation by the Equality Commission following a complaint found
       that the council had introduced a policy in May 2005 of flying the
       Union flag permanently from six council locations.
       
       The commission said the policy was in breach of an earlier policy
       introduced after an equality impact assessment limiting flying of the
       flag to 19 designated days.
       
       Sinn Fein councillor Paul Butler, who had made the complaint to the
       commission, welcomed its decision.
       
       "It's a victory against sectarianism and discrimination by Lisburn City
       Council," he said.
       
       "It vindicates entirely the approach adopted by myself and the other
       Sinn Fein councillors in Lisburn and places very much in public dock
       the manner in which the DUP in particular have approached civic matters
       in the borough.
       
       "Lisburn council need now to act immediately and remove the Union Jack
       from council buildings. If they do not I will not hesitate in taking
       further legal action."
       
       Mr Butler claimed the decision could also have implications for other
       council areas.
       
       
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------


      >>>>>> Attacks on homes, school
       
       
       Catholic homes in Lurgan came under attack at the weekend.
       
       Sinn Fein councillor Michael Tallon said that a loyalist crowd attacked
       nationalist homes on Antrim Road in the town shortly after 6.30pm on
       Sunday with stones, bottles and at least two petrol bombs.
       
       One elderly Catholic woman was struck on the shoulder while a young boy
       sustained severe injuries to his arm.
       
       Mr Tallon questioned why the loyalists were not identified by police
       video as the gang made its way through a public park to attack the
       nationalist homes.
       
       Mr Tallon said the weekend attacks were the latest in a series of
       similar incidents in recent weeks.
       
       "Over the past two weeks, gangs of loyalists have been roaming Lurgan
       Park seeking out nationalist victims.
       
       "In one incident, two children returning from the swimming pool
       adjacent to the park were assaulted and in another incident two
       Catholic girls were also assaulted in the park's play area.
       
       "I will be raising these matters within council and directly with
       council officers as this park is owned by Craigavon Council."
       
       Meanwhile, loyalists have been blamed for an arson attack on a Catholic
       school in County Derry.
       
       St Patrick's Primary School in Garvagh suffered scorch damage after
       petrol bombs were thrown early on Tuesday.
       
       SDLP East Derry assembly member John Dallat said: "This was a
       despicable attack and it is only by sheer luck that more damage was not
       caused. It takes a particularly low kind of coward to attack a primary
       school.
       
       "Unlike the school, they contribute nothing to the local community. It
       is clear that there is a small unrepresentative element of sectarian
       bigots trying to stoke up sectarian tensions and intimidate at a time
       when the vast majority of people in Garvagh are working for a peaceful
       community.
       
       "I have been in contact with the local police and have received
       assurances that PSNI patrols will be considerably strengthened in
       Garvagh in the summer months.
       
       "On top of this, we must also take responsibility as a community. There
       should be no tolerance towards anyone involved in any kind of
       sectarianism."
       
       Coleraine Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard said: "This is a needless
       act carried out by people who are very calculated in where they go to
       and what they do to raise tension. To attack a place devoted to
       educating our young people is grotesque. In this case, it is also
       sectarian but unfortunately there are loyalists in the Garvagh area
       that are devoted to this pathetic approach to life. However, the decent
       people who do not want to be associated with this deed will surely not
       be dragged down by the action of the bigots."
       
       
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------


      >>>>>> Feature: An experiment in human despair
       
       
       ------------------------------------------------------------------
       Jonathan Cook on the real reasons for Israel's invasion of Gaza (for
       Counterpunch).
       ------------------------------------------------------------------
       
       
       One needed only to watch the interview on British television this week
       with Israel's ambassador to the UK to realise that the Israeli army's
       tightening of the siege on Gaza, its invasion of the northern parts of
       the Strip today, and the looming humanitarian crisis across the
       territory, have nothing to do with the recent capture of an Israeli
       soldier -- or even the feeble home-made Qassam rockets fired, usually
       ineffectually, into Israel by Palestinian militants.
       
       Under questioning from presenter Jon Snow of Channel Four news on the
       reasons behind Israel's bombing of Gaza's only power station -- thereby
       cutting off electricity to more than half of the Strip's 1.3 million
       inhabitants for many months ahead, as well as threatening the water
       supply -- Zvi Ravner denied this action amounted to collective
       punishment of the civilian population.
       
       Rather, he claimed, the electricity station had to be disabled to
       prevent the soldier's captors from having the light needed to smuggle
       him out of Gaza at night. It was left to a bemused Jon Snow to point
       out that smugglers usually prefer to do their work in the dark and that
       Israel's actions were more likely to assist his captors than
       disadvantage them.
       
       The Alice Through the Looking Glass quality of Israeli disinformation
       over the combined siege and invasion of Gaza -- and its widespread and
       credulous repetition by the Western media -- is successfully
       distracting attention from Israel's real goals in this one-sided war of
       attrition.
       
       The current destruction of Gaza's civilian and administrative
       infrastructure is reminiscent of the Israeli army's cruel rampages
       through the streets of West Bank cities in the repeated invasions of
       2002 and 2003, and the Jewish settlers' malicious attacks on
       Palestinian farmers trying to collect their olive harvests.
       
       The relative absence of these horror stories today is simply a
       reflection of the terrible success of the wall Israel has built across
       Palestinian farmland and around Palestinian population centres in the
       West Bank. Settlers no longer need to plunder the olive harvest when
       the fruit is being left to rot on the trees because farmers can no
       longer reach their groves.
       
       In the case of the West Bank invasions, Israeli tanks rolled easily
       into Palestinian cities that had already been isolated and crippled by
       the stranglehold of checkpoints and roadblocks all over the
       territority. Israeli heavy armour knocked down electricity pylons as
       though they were playing a game of ten-pin bowling, snipers shot up the
       water tanks on people's roofs, soldiers defecated into office
       photocopiers and the army sought out Palestinian ministries so that
       their confidential records and documents could be destroyed or stolen.
       
       Notably, only in the warren of alleys in the overcrowded refugee camps
       of Jenin and Nablus did the army find the going far tougher and suffer
       relatively high casualties.
       
       Which may explain the military caution that has been exercised by Prime
       Minister Ehud Olmert in regard to the ground invasion of Gaza. The tiny
       Strip, besieged on its land borders by the Israeli army behind an
       electronic fence and on the seafront by the Israeli navy, is one giant,
       overcrowded refugee camp. The past week has seen Gaza "softened up"
       with airstrikes on its infrastructure and government ministries. Today,
       land forces began wreaking more death and destruction -- fourteen
       killed at the time of writing -- in "mopping up" exercises in the
       pattern established earlier in the West Bank.
       
       Three long-standing motives are discernible in Israel's current
       menacing of Gaza.
       
       First, Israel is determined to continue its campaign of impairing the
       Palestinian Authority's ability to govern. This has nothing to do with
       the recent election of Hamas to run the Palestinian Authority. Israel's
       official policy of unilateralism -- ignoring the wishes of the
       Palestinian people -- began long before, when Yasser Arafat was in
       charge. It has continued through the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, a
       leader who is about as close to a quisling as Israel is likely to find.
       
       Hamas's electoral success has merely supplied Israel with the pretext
       it needs for launching its invasion and the grounds for demanding
       international support as it chokes the life out of Gaza. Israel
       doubtless hopes that at the end of this process it will be left with
       Abbas, a figurehead president backed into a corner and ready to put his
       name to whatever agreement Israel imposes.
       
       Second, the attack on Gaza -- as ever -- is partly a distraction from
       the real battle. It was widely recognised that Ariel Sharon's dogged
       pursuit of his Gaza disengagement policy last year was designed to free
       his hand for the annexation of large chunks of a greater prize, the
       West Bank, and for securing the biggest prize of all, East Jerusalem.
       Nothing has changed on this front.
       
       As Israel keeps all eyes directed towards the suffering in Gaza, it is
       starting to make significant moves in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
       
       It is preparing for the much-delayed evacuation of a handful of illegal
       West Bank hilltop settlements -- known in Israel as "outposts" --
       demanded as the first stage of the implementation of the
       almost-forgotten US-sponsored peace process called the Road Map.
       
       These outposts are tiny, often just a few caravans. It will be much to
       Israel's advantage if the world fails to examine too closely the
       miserly act of evacuating these places, which doubtless will later be
       presented both as Israel having made a huge sacrifice for peace and as
       having satisfied its side of the Road Map's conditions.
       
       The loss of these outposts and a few larger settlements will pave the
       way for international acceptance of Olmert's convergence plan, his
       unilaterally imposed expansion of Israel's borders at the expense of a
       viable Palestinian state.
       
       Equally significant are the overlooked manoeuvres Israel is undertaking
       in East Jerusalem as it beats a warpath towards Gaza. Last week Israel
       stripped four Hamas MPs of their right to live in East Jerusalem,
       effectively expelling them to the West Bank. It also showed that it
       could lock up them and dozens of other democratically elected
       Palestinian representatives with barely a peep from the international
       community.
       
       In yet another dose of Alice in Wonderland, Israel's policy of making
       hostages of these MPs was referred to as "arrests" by the Western
       media. Few bothered to report that the MPs are being deprived of even
       their most basic rights, such as meeting with their lawyers.
       
       As the four Jerusalem MPs' lawyers have argued, it is a nonsense that
       Israel allowed these Hamas politicians to stand in the recent elections
       and now, after their victory, it calls their membership of the party
       "support for terrorism". It is also a disturbing sign of how easily
       Israel will be able to begin ethnically cleansing East Jerusalem of its
       Palestinian inhabitants using the flimsiest of excuses.
       
       And third, and perhaps most significantly of all, Israel is using the
       siege and invasion of Gaza as a laboratory for testing policies it also
       intends to apply to the West Bank after convergence. Gazans are the
       guinea pigs on which Olmert can try out the "extreme action" he has
       been boasting of.
       
       The destruction of Gaza's power plant and loss of electricity to some
       700,000 people; the consequent scarcity of water, build-up of sewage
       that cannot be disposed of, and inevitable spread of disease; the
       shortages of fuel and threats to the running of vital services such as
       hospitals; the sonic booms of Israeli aircraft that terrify Gaza's
       children and unpredictable air strikes that terrify everyone; the
       inability of Palestinian officials to run bombed ministries and provide
       services; the constant threat of invasion by massed Israeli troops on
       the "border"; and the breakdown of law and order as Fatah and Hamas
       gunmen are encouraged to turn on each other. All these factors are
       designed to one end: the slow demand by Palestinians, civilians and
       militants alike, to clear out of the hell-hole of Gaza.
       
       The traffic through the tunnels that once served Gaza's smugglers will
       change directions: where once cigarettes and arms came into Gaza, the
       likelihood is that soon it will be people passing through those
       underground passages to leave Gaza and seek a life outside.
       
       If this experiment in human despair works in the small Gaza Strip, its
       lessons can be applied to much bigger effect in the West Bank ghettoes
       left behind after convergence. This is how ethnic cleansing looks when
       it is designed not by butchers in uniforms but by technocrats in suits.
       
       Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He
       is the author of the forthcoming "Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of
       the Jewish and Democratic State" published by Pluto Press, and
       available in the United States from the University of Michigan Press.
       His website is www.jkcook.net
       
       
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------


      >>>>>> Analysis: No dumbing down of the Orange Order
       
       
       By Danny Morrison (for Daily Ireland)
       
       
       'John' called BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme to complain about
       the grant of #104,000 (O150,000) to the Orange Order.
       
       "Why try and dress up the Twelfth as something it is not," he said.
       "Why try and dress it up as a parade for Roman Catholics and
       Protestants to stand hand-in-hand on the street, cheering and waving
       when the bands go past. The 12th of July, basically, is the day that
       the Protestant faith overcame the Roman Catholic army of King James. At
       the end of the day, that's the day the Roman Catholics were defeated.
       
       "It's a sort of insult to the Roman Catholic people to try and bring
       them on board to enjoy the Twelfth. Don't dumb down the 12th July. It's
       stupid, it's nonsense."
       
       Ah yes, there's nothing more refreshing than a pint of honesty.
       
       If Orange marches were solely about celebrating a historical event -
       the Battle of the Boyne, a sideshow in a European power struggle in
       which the Pope cheered William of Orange's defeat of James II - there
       would be no problem. However, the Orange Order's main business has
       always been about perpetuating the commemoration of this historical
       event as a relentless domestic put-down of the defeated 'RCs' and
       keeping them in their place.
       
       And their big problem in modern times is that 'the RCs' have had
       enough, stood up to the bullying and stopped getting on like a defeated
       people. That explains the statement from Orange Order spokesperson,
       Drew Nelson, who recently said: "The vast majority of our membership
       believes that the Protestant community is now the underdog in Northern
       Ireland and that we are heavily discriminated against in many fields."
       
       That must be very upsetting, except that the "poor us" argument does
       not wash: official figures and statistics continue to show that
       nationalists still suffer from sectarian discrimination and higher
       rates of unemployment.
       
       To Orangemen the most important marches are not those that go through
       loyalist districts but those that transgress nationalist, that is,
       'Roman Catholic' areas. 'Kick the Pope' tunes - a real contradiction,
       after all the Pope did for King Billy - sound flat on the Shankill or
       the Newtownards Road where no Catholics can hear them. But passing by
       or through a nationalist area they are truly flammatory, visceral,
       almost metaphysical in their power, especially when your intention is
       to deafen and terrify the RCs imprisoned behind the security screens,
       set up by your security forces for your security of passage.
       
       If these tunes are so crucial to the Orange culture why do they omit
       them when they are marching through Rossnowlagh in Co Donegal?
       
       "There is a massive gap of misunderstanding and misapprehension," said
       Drew Nelson. "For people to think that an Orange Order parade is in
       someway about domination of one community over the other is completely
       wrong."
       
       Apologies, Drew. That's just the impression nationalists have been left
       with from 1795 until about last week.
       
       An impression that has been reinforced by an Orange disposition for
       provocative marching through areas in which 'the defeated' Roman
       Catholics just happen to live; by the violence at Drumcree and
       elsewhere; by the murders of nationalists by loyalist paramilitaries
       aimed at securing a march down Catholic Garvaghy Road; and by the close
       association between the Orange Order and participating UFF and UVF
       bands, to name but a few misapprehensions.
       
       When he announced the #104,000 grant, David Hanson, minister for social
       development at the NIO, said that it was "to help the Orange Order
       promote the July 12 events as a 'family-friendly' attraction for
       Belfast and an attempt to improve community relations.
       
       Orange Order historian, Rev Brian Kennaway (who, incidentally, is to
       speak at Feile an Phobail in August on the issue of marching) said: "I
       find it hard to believe that David Hanson knows what he's talking about
       when he says this funding is aimed at promoting inclusivity. Does Mr
       Hanson not understand that the Orange Order is only inclusive in terms
       of Protestantism? By its very nature it is entirely inclusive to
       Protestants and excludes Roman Catholics."
       
       On the test of inclusivity the Order's spokesperson Drew Nelson fell at
       the first post. Drew, who welcomed the British grant, is also a Belfast
       DUP councillor. Just 24 hours before the announcement he opposed
       funding for next year's St Patrick's Day community parade in Belfast,
       despite the findings of an independent survey which found that
       Protestants viewed the 2006 St Patrick's carnival positively and as "a
       family day out".
       
       Another DUP councillor, William Humphrey, was asked what efforts the
       Orange Order would make to include Catholics in Twelfth of July
       celebrations. Not only can Catholics not be members of the Orange Order
       but neither can a Protestant who marries a Catholic. Humphrey refused
       to specify what they would do except to say that the Orange Order would
       meet with Church and business leaders - but not Sinn Fein elected
       representatives.
       
       So, is there anything the Orange Order can do to make it acceptable to
       nationalists?
       
       The simplest thing that the Orange Order could do to demonstrate that
       it is not about the "domination of one community over another" is to
       talk to the host communities through whose areas it wishes to parade.
       
       To persuade such communities that these marches (celebrating their
       defeat as Roman Catholics and the confirmation of the Protestant
       ascendancy) are valid cultural expressions, relevant to the modern
       world, will be a difficult though not impossible task. After all,
       without any 'dumbing down' whatsoever, it only took two hundred years
       of Darwinian natural selection before one Irish Catholic-born person -
       Ruth Dudley-Edwards - emerged to rescue the hopelessly inept public
       relations' efforts of the Orange Order.
       
       And just look at how far the Order has advanced since then.





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