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Re: From CASI discussion list manager

Dear all,

The CASI list is a precious resource, both as a source of information and as a place for a frank and honest exchange of views and opinions. Personal attacks and lack of respect for the views of others get in the way of this. So far, I am in complete agreement with Mil and Ali.

But Ali says

we ... have always been proud that this list has allowed people of diverse backgrounds but a shared concern in the humanitarian consequences of the sanctions on Iraq to share information and enter into discussion.
And Mil interprets this to mean that
there are very important issues to be discussed in relation to the crisis in Israel/Palestine... I suggest a member of this list sets up a list... I would join with Ali in asking that current discussion move off this list.

We should separate two things. On the one hand, whether messages concerning the implications of the emergency in Palestine for the crisis in Iraq should be deemed admissible; and the inadmissibility of insults, derision etc. as forms of expression.

I can agree that discussion of Palestine/Israel in itself is, shall we say, more than the CASI list can take on. But the two crises are so intertwined that it is simply impossible for the CASI list to avoid what is happening in Palestine.

The Palestine emergency poses all of us with a big challenge.

The two burning crises in the Middle East have common roots. There is a complex interaction between them. Something else is true: no matter how great and how grave is the crisis in Iraq, it is Palestine which is at the centre of politics in the Middle East. It is easier to talk about about Palestine without having to talk about Iraq than the other way around.

So, I don't really see how the discussion can be limited to "the humanitarian consequences of the sanctions on Iraq".
For a start off, we would lose the  bitter ironies of the situation. President Clinton, and George Bush before him, (with the loyal support of the UK) have  wrecked the lives of twenty million Iraqi people. Why? Because "the Iraqi army occupied Kuwait"... yet this same superpower protects and arms the Israeli occupation of Palestine! These extreme double standards are no longer acceptable to many millions of people in the Middle East. Unless there is a change of heart - and there's no sign of that - then wars and revoltions are inevitable.

Another bitter irony:
Saddam poses as the great defender of the Palestinian and Arab people against the (very real) imperialist foe - yet it was his 1980 invasion of Iran, shortly after the Iranian revolution,  which provided a tremendous service to the US, UK and other imperialist powers, and to the kings and sultans with whom they have such a corrupt relationship. The war against Iran left Iraq with crippling war debts, leaving the regime without enough money to pay for food imports (two-thirds of food eaten in Iraq in 1990 was imported).  The US, Saudis rejected Saddam's requests for help. Enraged by such ingratitude, he invaded Kuwait, a disaster for the anti-imperialist struggle in the Middle East. It also did great damage to the Palestinian cause, yet brave Palestinian youths taunt Israeli soldiers with his image. Bitter irony!

And now, the US rulers have the bitter taste of iron in their mouths as they contemplate Saddam's significant degree of control over the world price of oil. This is allowing him recuperate considerable political power and influence. London and Washington (more than Tel-Aviv) take very seriously his threats to halt Iraqi oil shipments "in solidarity with Palestine" ...

If people in Iraq, Palestine and across the Middle East are making these connections, how can we avoid them? It seems to me that there's something arbitrary and artificial about separating the humanitarian dimension off from all other dimensions. There is a danger that the "humanitarian dimension" could just be a place where you can run for cover, and avoid difficult issues. I really don't think that this has happened in practice: the CASI list has not avoided difficult issues.

We need the CASI discussion to remain free of insults, disrespect etc. in order that we may address these difficult issues!

So, it seemed to me that, between Mil and Ali's messages, there was some imprecision about the nature of the restrictions which it is proposed we place on our discussion.

Greetings from Sheffield,

John S


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