Unrepentant Communist has an interesting post about Che Guevara's killer.
Cuban doctors working in Bolivia have saved the sight of the man who executed revolutionary leader Che Guevara in 1967, Cuban official media report. Mario Teran, a Bolivian army sergeant, shot dead Che Guevara after he was captured in Bolivia's eastern lowlands. Cuban media reported news of the surgery ahead of the 40th anniversary of Che's death on 9 October.
Mr Teran had cataracts removed under a Cuban programme to offer free eye treatment across Latin America. The operation on Mr Teran took place last year and was first revealed when his son wrote to a Bolivian newspaper to thank the Cuban doctors for restoring his father's sight.
But Cuban media took up the story at the weekend as the island prepares for commemorations to mark Che Guevara's death 40 years ago. "Four decades after Mario Teran attempted to destroy a dream and an idea, Che returns to win yet another battle," the Communist Party's official newspaper Granma proclaimed. "Now an old man, he [Teran] can once again appreciate the colours of the sky and the forest, enjoy the smiles of his grandchildren and watch football games." Wounded Che Guevara, who played a key role in the Cuban revolution of 1959, travelled to Bolivia in 1966 to start a socialist revolution. But in October 1967, the Bolivian army, with assistance from the CIA, captured Guevara and his remaining fighters.
Che Guevara, wounded in the fighting, was taken to a schoolhouse in the village of La Higuera on 8 October where the soldiers debated what to do with him. Mario Teran is reported to have drawn the short straw and been ordered to execute the captured guerrilla. Che Guevara was killed on 9 October and his body taken to a hospital in nearby Vallegrande, where his corpse was paraded before the world's media.
In 1997 his remains were discovered, exhumed and returned to Cuba, where he was reburied. Surely the fact that doctors from socialist Cuba helped improve the sight of Che's executioner, demonstrates most eloquently, that you may persecute socialism and reverse it in places, but you can not kill the ideas of socialism, which represent the most exalted aspirations of humanity, an exalted humanity which Che Guevara exemplified.
It's often said of Che that he survives as an icon because he died young and because he was photogenic, but I think it's more complex than that. Firstly Che achieved power through the Cuban revolution. He could have chewed on a cigar in the Ministry of Industry and grown fat and corrupt but he chose not to - he chose to spread the revolution. He stayed true to his socialist beliefs to the bitter end.
Secondly, he was as motivated by his emotions as much as by abstract theory. His most famous quote is "at the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that a true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love."
That love for others, rather than envy or hatred, should be our motivating force. And that's probably why the Cuban doctors restored that man's eyesight.
"I was a high-class muscleman for big business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism"
That's how decorated US Marine Corps General Smedley Butler once defined his military role in his 1935 book War Is A Racket.
State armies have been used to further multinationals' goals in the past - whether the United Fruit Company-sponsored coup in Guatemala in 1954 or the various oil companies reaping the rewards of US invasion in Iraq today.
But now even this role is being privatised with PMCs (Private Military Companies) carrying out a dubious legal role in Iraq.
Last month's shootings of 11 Iraqi civilians by employees of Blackwater USA has cast a rare official spotlight on the activities of PMCs in Iraq.
The proliferation of PMCs since the Cold War is part of a new trend, in which private military contractors provide an attractive alternative to international corporations for a range of quasi-military services, from bodyguard and facilities protection, to the provision of military training and weapons to foreign armies.
Such services have often been required by multinationals such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, and De Beers in conflict zones that overlap with the extraction of oil, gas, diamonds and other raw materials.
In Colombia, British Petroleum hired the British private contractor Defence Systems Limited (DSL) to protect its oil rigs from left-wing guerrillas - a task that DSL fulfilled with the help of Colombian military officers linked to right-wing death squads.
In Equatorial Guinea, the US company MPRI has helped the thuggish dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema establish a coastguard to protect the oil exploration undertaken by ExxonMobil off its coast. MPRI has also provided military training to the Nigerian army, whose forces have been engaged in suppressing local tribal protests against the exploitation of their resources by international oil companies.
Not surprisingly, the need for PMCs has increased as a result of the 'war on terror', whose frontlines invariably intersect with areas containing raw materials and the routes of oil and gas pipelines.
From Georgia, Chechnya and Iraq and Azerbaijan to Afghanistan, PMCs from various countries are engaged in an array of activities that impact directly on the emerging 'great game' in the Middle East and Central Asia, whether it is protecting oil pipelines, training the Saudi national guard or providing security protection to the Afghan president.
Some PMCs, like Blackwater and MPRI, have amassed formidable military forces in their own right, whose members include top-ranking former military officers.
At the same time PMCs have themselves become like corporations. Where mercenaries and their recruiters were once regarded with contempt, PMCs have attempted to reverse the 'dogs of war' image with slick corporate packaging.
PMC execs such as the millionaire owner of Blackwater Erik Prince and Aegis director Tim Spicer like to use the rhetoric of the war on terror and talk about bringing stability and democracy to a troubled world.
But this agenda has also brought record profits to their own companies, not to mention other corporations that could not have gained access to Iraq without the support of private military companies.
In an age when the Western public is generally reluctant to fight wars of choice, PMCs constitute a new international force patrolling the frontiers of the 'war on terror' for whoever pays. Just as the East India Company once did, corporations will pay for their own armies to fight their own wars and bypass national governments altogether.
Adapted from The First Posthttp://
You'll have heard about the West Lothian Question, what about the East Argyll* Question?
Which is - how can it be right that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown can push through a generation of taxation to pay for Trident 2 against the wishes of the Scottish people and with the help of a Tory Party that has been utterly rejected in Scotland for decades?
Scotland is a country that has been militarised by the British State. The amount of land the MoD currently controls in Scotland is four times greater than at any point during the Cold War. In 1980, the MoD owned or leased only 24.8 thousand hectares in Scotland. Yet by 2003, land available to the MoD had risen over four times to 115.2 thousand hectares. The military presence in Scotland also includes:
· Britain’s largest base for (cluster bomb carrying) Tornado war planes, at Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth
· The UK’s only outdoor depleted uranium weapon range at Dundrennan on the Solway Firth
· Europe’s largest live-firing range at Cape Wrath, the only place in Europe where NATO air-forces can drop live 1,000lb bombs
The solution to the East Argyll Question comes on May 3rd.
* Faslane is based in East Argyll
[thanks to www.1820.org.uk]
Black vultures circle Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion, where Fidel Castro has in the past spoken to millions of Cubans. Today it's empty save for a few tourists and looks like a sprawling car park.
The only buildings of note are the Che bronze outline on a nearby block and the José Marti column made of marble that towers above.
But Castro's extended absence from the leadership following a serious illness doesn't seem to have stopped the warmth and friendliness of the Cuban people.
Anyone expecting to find a workers' paradise is in for a shock. The rural east of Holguin Province, for example, is still agricultural and you're as likely to see oxen or horses drawing carts as private cars on the pot-holed roads. Hitch-hiking is popular and it's almost obligatory to stop if you're in a car - a long-gone phenomenon here.The tourism boom has been largely contained in all-inclusive resorts owned by state companies - ours was only three years old and there was little opportunity to make contact with people beyond the gates. The housing is primitive.
The area's main tourist attraction is Naranja Bay's aquarium, where you can swim with dolphins in the sea. It's a world away from the commercialised Florida experience because the aquarium is on a tiny island in the centre of the bay - just a few dozen people visit at a time via speed boats and the emphasis is on the environment rather cashing in on tourists. The complex where we stayed was built in the middle of a tropical jungle with bananas flowering beneath the balcony and sting rays and tropical fish swimming in the coral reef offshore. In the nearby mangrove swamp lurked crayfish and land crabs - great for inquisitive kids.
If you've ever got fed up of forking out for kids on holiday, this is the place. Cuba's tourism industry has a refreshing lack of commercialism - no inflatables in the hotel shop but plenty of Che t-shirts (more on which later).
What effect the tourism boom is hard to estimate - tourists must pay for everything in convertible pesos, which are set at a national rate and cost about 10 times the local peso. So a convertible peso (maybe 70p) is worth far more to a Cuban barman, taxi driver or waiter and there was evidence that people were taking up these jobs for the tips. Others, like Sammy, was working on the beach at the hotel and was delighted to see a Wrexham shirt. He'd worked a Continental Can on the industrial estate - it's small world!
Food is rationed in Cuba as a result of the ongoing economic blockade from the US. The monthly ration allows, for example, for just five eggs a person but a generous five kilos of sugar! A taxi driver said that petrol for him was free and his monthly electricity bill was just a peso, less than a pound. Health and education are famously well provided - so much so that literacy rates and life expectancy in Cuba is higher than in the USA. So although there isn't much spare cash around a lot of the essential needs are provided by the state.
The blockade - imposed after the 1959 revolution - is so extensive that a Cuban delegation was recently barred from staying in a Norwegian hotel because it was owned by a US chain. Bush has tightened the restrictions but it does have one bonus of keeping out US tourists - a fact much appreciated by the planeloads of Canadians who flock to the Caribbean beaches!
Havana is a stunning city. It's obviously more affluent than the rural east and was once the richest city in the Caribbean but many locals seem to be living in what are little more than ruins of grand old colonial buildings. In fairness to the government, there are hundreds of building projects under way in Habana Vieja (Old Havana) to restore buildings to their former grandeur. Some streets and plazas have already been done up are stunning.
The Museo de la Revolucion is a must see - sited in the stunning former palace of the dictator Batista, it's a reminder of what Fidel and Che were overthrowing. Cuba in the 50s had become a Mafia-dominated society of massive inequality and the rebels who fought the revolutionary struggle won support in both countryside and city because of their commitment to equality. The museum is a moving reminder of the various revolutionaries who made their sacrifices - Frank Pais of Holguin was shot by the state and now has an airport named after him.
Che Guevara's image is everywhere and it's no surprise - even Mrs Seren commented that he was a good-looking lad. The youthful bravado of the revolutionaries, with their handmade weapons (on show at the museum) and almost Dad's Army like motor division, is captured in that image of defiance that plaster t-shirts and posters.
If you wear a Che t-shirt, be prepared for more attention in the streets. People sidle up to you and offer you three-peso notes or coins (both have Che's image on them). One Che lookalike complete with beret and fatigues was offering to have his photo taken - but the hassle is low-key and easy going.
It feels safe and relaxed unlike most other Caribbean cities and the mixture of races was very noticeable. Cuba has more white immigrants than most other islands and, although blacks did have an inferior status pre-revolution, that does not seem to be the case now.
Cubans like a good time - the place is famous for its cocktails, dancing and music after all. Every bar seems to have a band knocking out tunes that get people dancing and some streets of Habana Vieja are reminiscent of New Orleans's French Quarter before the deluge.
The architecture takes your breath away - even when the buildings are falling down. Likewise the great old Chevys and Dodges are a throwback to a different era - some have lasted better than others but all give the place a really different feel. It may not be a workers' paradise but it seems a damn sight better than what was here before and Cuban socialism certainly has a human face and very Caribbean style.
Top tips - buy some vintage rum (a litre bottle costs about £4), cigars if you know anyone who smokes (not cheap, unless you buy the inferior ones off the street) and spend some time in the Museo de Chocolate. If you think you've ever had hot chocolate, try the cafe there! And spend an afternoon people watching in one of the squares over a long cool Mojito or Cuba Libre cocktail.
I drank the last of the Mojitos (sorry!) on a rooftop bar overlooking the city. Suddenly a flock swallows swooped down to gulp at the hotel pool's water, a magical surreal moment that was completely in keeping with this magical city. A more appropriate a symbol of this surprising city than the black vultures circling.
With the insatiable cravings of an addict, the US prepares to justify an invasion of Iran.
It claims, in anonymous briefings naturally, that the Iranian government is supplying weaponry to the Iraqi resistance.
Which sounds like the US supplying weaponry to Saddam in the 1980-88 war against Iran, then...
But these anonymous sources at the Pentagon are unaware of the irony. They are simply looking to soften up the American public for yet another hare-brained assault on a Middle Eastern country rich in oil and unafraid to stand up to US imperialism.
The allegations have about as much credence as the "incontrovertible proof" that existed for Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction. The home-made roadside bombs being used with devastating effect on US and UK troops are just that - home made.
More bizarre still, the Sunni insurgents are totally at odds with the Shia regime in Iran. They are far more likely to be getting support - if any is needed - from Syria (no doubt Syria is next in line to be bombed back to the Stone Age if Iran falls).
The US has no exit strategy from Iraq except to escalate war in the region, possibly involving Israel in what could develop into a Third World War if we're not careful. Iran is no Iraq - it is larger, has a far better infrastructure and there are few dissidents that will welcome the toppling of a democratically elected regime by the "Great Satan".
Rather than planning another military adventure based on oil greed and imperialism, the US and UK have to pull out of the Middle East now.
Bizarre as it may seem, the most obvious thing the USA and Afghanistan have in common is that their main cash crop is drugs.
In Afghanistan, the fall of the Taliban has seen opium production for heroin soar. In the USA, the government's own figures now show that cannabis is the main cash crop.
This morning's Independent reveals the scale of the trade:
Decades of government efforts to crack down on both the cultivation and consumption of pot have had a counter-productive effect, since even the most conservative government estimates suggest domestic marijuana production has increased tenfold in the past 25 years. It is the leading cash crop in 12 states, and one of the top five crops in 39 states.
The report's author, Jon Gettman, says it is "larger than cotton in Alabama, larger than grapes, vegetables and hay in California, larger than peanuts in Georgia, and larger than tobacco in South and North Carolina".
California accounts for almost a third of all US production. It is a major economic force in the state, especially in the redwood forests in the north, where the smell of weed wafts unmistakably down the streets of several towns.
Marijuana remains popular with the baby boomer generation, which first experimented with it in the 1950s and 1960s. And its use is booming among teenagers and young adults, especially as alcohol cannot be sold to under 21s. US marijuana cultivation is worth more than $35bn (£18bn) per year. And that is a conservative estimate, based on government price surveys, Mr Gettman says.
Corn, the largest legitimate crop, is worth just over $23bn and soybeans around $17bn. "Despite years of effort by law enforcement, they're not getting rid of it," Mr Gettman told the Los Angeles Times ahead of his report's publication yesterday in The Bulletin of Cannabis Reform. "Not only is the problem worse in terms of magnitude of cultivation, but production has spread all around the country. To say the genie is out of the bottle is a profound understatement."
The Polonium poisoning of Andrei Litvinenko may have been straight out of James Bond. The finger of blame has been pointed at Putin and his KGB contacts. Secret services usually mean red herrings and lots of dead ends, which is why most sane people steer clear of trying to explain the whole episode.
But there may be a simple explanation, as suggested in the classic Richard Rhodes book The making of the atomic bomb . This has interesting stuff about polonium, which was and probably still is a vital part of the initiator of all atomic weapons because its a particularly strong alpha emitter.
Apparently it's such a strong emitter that it ionises the air around it so permanently appears to glow blue. Particularly relevant is the paragraph about shipping the Polonium to the US nuclear facility at Los Alamos on page 579:
Thomas shipped the Po on platinum foil in sealed containers, but another nasty characteristic of polonium caused shipping troubles; for reasons never satisfactorily explained by experiment, the metal migrates from place to place and can quickly contaminate large areas. 'This isotope has been observed to migrate upstream against a current of air,' notes a postwar British report on polonium, 'and to translocate under conditions where it would appear to be doing so of its own accord.' Chemists at los Alamos learned to look for it embedded in the walls of the shipping containers when Thomas's shipments came up short.
This explains why polonium keeps getting found in unexpected places. But it does also suggest Litvinenko might have been trying to sell some polonium, but was unaware of its strange properties and a bit too mucht migrated into his body.
(much of this was nicked wholesale from www.timhunkin.com - my CSE in Chemistry isn't up to doing much more than chucking iron filings into bunsen burners and admiring the effect)
One consequence of the various ongoing US and UK military adventures is the increasing use of mercenaries in what is becoming a privatised war. There are reckoned to be 50,000 mercenaries in Iraq, compared with 7,000 UK military personnel.
For oil firms and other companies profiting from the chaos in Iraq, security firms run by ex-military men (often on the same stratified class lines as the Army - officers taking the glory, squaddies taking the bullets) are in great demand.
The rewards are huge - $12,000 a month tax-free pay - but the risks, as outlined in this story are huge.
Schnews, as ever, has a better analysis of this phenomenon.
Three peace protesters have occupied the keep at Cardiff Castle in a demonstration over the 'occupation of land in Palestine'.
The three got into the keep after buying a ticket for a castle tour and used a bar to block the entrance.
D Murphy, Bob Cotterill and Keith Ross said they plan to stay for a while, possibly days, and have stressed they have no wish to damage the castle.
A negotiator from South Wales Police is at the scene.
The protesters said the action was to make the point about the occupation of land in Palestine which they claimed was being ignored by the public and the media.
Here's a short video on the occupation from Undercurrents.
On Monday November 13th 2006 11 peace activists from South and Mid-Wales were arrested for blockading the Trident nuclear submarine base at Faslane in Scotland. Another eight from North Wales were arrested this
morning. Those arrested over the two days are of all ages and backgrounds, and include South Wales
Labour councillor and veteran peace campaigner Ray Davies.
About 100 campaigners from Wales are present this morning, a rainy day at Faslane enlivened by the presence of a large red dragon and protest songs performed by Dafydd Iwan. Plaid Cymru Euro MP and CND Cymru chair Jill Evans, was among those who visited the base yesterday to join the protests.
Many of the northern contingent are dressed as Merched Beca/ the Daughters of Rebecca, the C19th men and women who took direct action to protest against social injustice. Costs for Trident replacement have been estimated at £25 to £75 billion.
The protest is part of a year-long blockade at Faslane which began six weeks ago.
Supporters of Independence First are submitting a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for a referendum on Scottish Independence to be organised at the earliest opportunity. Sign the e-petition - http://epetitions.scottish.parliament.uk/view_petition.asp?PetitionID=123
Please take the time to pass on this e-petition to everyone and anyone in your address book who is interested in democracy for Scotland.
Corsicans are fighting back against the "holiday-home colonisation" of their island home. Just 260,000 live on the Mediterranean island, which is being colonised by wealthy French people - causing rising prices and forcing more and more Corsicans to leave for the mainland. Sounds familiar?
Read more at http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,1859736,00.html
¡VIVA LA REVOLUCION!
A celebration of solidarity with Latin America
Theatr Clwyd, Mold, North Wales
Saturday, 7 October
12.00 - 1.00 pm Arrival/Registration (Coffee and tea available)
An opportunity to socialise and see the photographic exhibition “Last Rights”, the story of Guatemala’s Mayan communities as they emerge from a genocidal 35 year civil war and their struggle for justice. Plus stalls and displays of supportive organisations.
1.00 Introduction to the Conference
Branwen Niclas (Christian Aid Youth Coordinator for Wales)
1.15 Cuba - A vision of another world.
Zelmys Dominguez Cortina (Political Councillor at the Cuban Embassy)
1.45 Building Solidarity - Sharing experience and hope.
Dr Julia Buxton (University of Bradford)
2.15 Bolivarism at work in Latin America
Dr.Francisco Dominguez (University of Middlesex)
3.00 Questions and Answers
3.30 Break (Coffee and tea available)
4.00 Furthering Wales’ contribution to International Solidarity.
Discussion led by Leanne Wood AM (National Assembly of Wales)
6.30 Films: “The Agronomist” from Haiti and “The Take” from Argentina will be shown in the Haydn Rees Room (Duration approximately 2 hours)
The theatre restaurant is open until 7 pm.
8.30 SOLIDARITY SALSA Live music from Cuba (Doors open 8.00 pm)
Omar Puente’s “Cubania” Tickets £10 (£7 unwaged)
The conference is free to all those who want to learn more about the developing situation in Latin America but any contributions towards costs are welcomed. It is highly advisable to buy tickets for the salsa event beforehand.
Wales-Latin America Solidarity in north Wales
The conference has been jointly organised by Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, The Clwyd Latin America Human Rights Group and Cymru Cuba. The three organisations are well established and have worked closely
together over the years.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
Accommodation: Mold Tourist Information Centre - 01352 759331, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is taken from www.redpepper.org.uk, a left-wing monthly magazine. The Super Furries turned down a million quid in the name of politics...
Gruff Rhys, lead singer and guitarist for the Super Furry Animals, writes a diary from Colombia
Day 1: Bogota
In the late morning, Guto (our bassist) and I visit the rundown offices of Colombian food workers’ union Sinaltrainal. A downbeat meeting of Coca Cola workers is taking place downstairs. We are taken to an upstairs office to wait.
A knock on the door and Limberto Carranza, a union rep in his fifties, is ushered in. His quiet testimony moves us like no other. He has worked for Coca Cola for over 25 years, and as conditions worsened he joined the Sinaltrainal trade union. From that day onwards he and his family were targeted by paramilitaries employed by the bottling plant manager. His 15-year-old son was beaten close to death and thrown in a river. He was forced to send his psychologically scarred children to live with relatives far away from home and now barely sees them. At this point Limberto bursts into tears, much to his own embarrassment. He couldn’t apologise enough afterwards in this most macho of countries.
Last year the Super Furry Animals turned down a seven-figure offer by an advertising agency for the use of our song ‘Hello Sunshine’ in a Coca Cola commercial. We thought long and hard. We have never been a big selling band, but when it came to the crunch, we felt we couldn’t justify endorsing a product that may have had a part in violently suppressing some of its workers. For a moment, sitting in the Sinaltrainal office, I thought that we could have done the advert and donated the money for their campaign for justice. Yet the thought of having to hear our song used to sell anything that exploits anyone for the worse turns my stomach.
Day 3: Cali
We’re backstage at Concierto Por La Vida (‘Concert For Life’), a music festival in a barren looking park, waiting for a sound check. Hanging from a nearby tree is a banner in memory of Jonhy Silva, a crippled 21-year-old student shot and killed by ESMAD, the Colombian riot police, in September 2005. This festival is dedicated to his memory.
After the heavy, high-altitude atmosphere of Bogota, Cali, lying lower down at a thousand metres, is surprisingly relaxed. Its reputation as a cocaine capital seems the least of its worries. When we flew in on Wednesday night, the Vaca Loca (Mad Cow) Carnival was in full flow – every 50 yards a different sound system was blaring out loud salsa music and people were dancing in the street.
In the throng of the crowd we meet Sintraemcali representative Berenice. She is dancing watchfully in a doorway. She needs to be careful: she is on the leaked hit list of Operation Dragon, an assassination campaign run by active and retired Colombian army personnel. Last year she was sent an invitation to her own funeral. Defiantly, she dances to the music.
Day 4: Buena Ventura
Twenty-seven hours later I’m sitting in a deserted thatch-roofed bar. The air is heavy with tropical dark clouds and the hum and racket of giant US-built military helicopters. Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart implausibly spins on the video jukebox. A few ill-looking palm trees punctuate the mist occasionally to remind you of the potentially exotic location.
The Colombian Army’s ‘Plan Colombia’, sponsored by the US, aims to clear all the coca plantations in this region. This has fed into Colombia’s decades-long and brutal civil war as the state tries to claw back territory from the left-wing guerrilla fighters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The ton upon ton of poison dropped on to Colombian soil to kill the coca weed has failed to reduce the volume of narco-trafficking, and has led to severe pollution of the water table.
Villages in these areas are targeted by both sides of the war. They are targeted by the FARC, who fear informers, and their food is often rationed by government forces who are worried that they are feeding the guerrillas or hiding them. This has led to a series of massacres and clearances in the region. And it has left around three million people displaced throughout Colombia.
These are the observations of a light entertainer, displaced for a week in a country that is, in all except name, engulfed in a brutal civil war. I’m not an expert on Colombia, but it is clear from this visit that international corporations, and military schemes funded by the US (and UK) government, are contributing to this mess – supported in part by my taxes and supermarket spending power, in my name.
(Adopting a Lee Hazelwood-style singing voice) – Call me Shame!
Twenty five years is a long time in politics.
A quarter of a century ago I was picking bananas on an Israeli kibbutz, at a time of rare peace in the country. It was an idyllic place for an 18-year-old to be on the shores of Lake Tiberius amid 50 or so "volunteers" from Denmark, Finland, the USA and Sweden. Lugging great bunches of bananas through the plantations in the mornings wasn't too difficult when you had the lake-side company of nubile young Scandinavians in the afternoons.
But we were just passing through. The kibbutz was a permanent home to about 450 people from all over the world - Jews who had moved to Israel from Rumania, Tunisia, Germany, the USA. None were religious, in the orthodox sense, but there was a real sense of community built on a shared experience of immigration and co-operation.
But, despite the democratic veneer, to work at Kibbutz Ein Gev you couldn't be a Palestinian. The Palestinians were, and remain, non-people in the Israeli state never mind the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. The Israeli state wanted to write them out of history because the Palestinians were, and remain, an awkward reminder that the Israeli state stole Palestinian land and houses to build Fortress Israel.
I left Israel before the invasion of Lebanon, the massacre of refugees at Shatilla camp and the continued military attacks on Palestinian civilians. In the meantime, the islamist Hamas movement that Israeli intelligence supported as a counter-balance to the radical more left-wing movements of the PFLP has taken centre stage, winning the support of the Palestinian people. As with the US-backed Taliban in Afghanistan, my enemy's enemy is not always my friend.
Fortress Israel has become a caricature of the Jewish homeland it purported to be. It is dependent on US military aid for its existence, it engages in ever-more extreme acts of retribution against its neighbours.
That is why George Bush is so wrong when he reveals that the latest assault on Lebanon could be halted if Syria could "get Hizbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."
The same mindset believes that Iran is pulling Hizbollah's strings because it supplies missiles to the group. By the same token, it's fair to say that the USA is complicit in Israel's state terrorism because it supplies arms for Fortress Israel.
The Israelis claim they are retaliating against terrorist attacks. But they forget what drives people to desperate suicide bombings, they forget that an entire people was driven from their homes into refugee camps that have become breeding grounds for resistance.
Israel, the US and the UK - the colonial power - cannot be allowed to forget that the Palestinian issue cannot be willed away by bombs or rhetoric, by the ritual condemnations and blaming of other powers.
Twenty five years ago, I picked bananas that were sold to (indirectly) prop up the Israeli state. Today, somewhat older and hopefully wiser, I won't buy Israeli goods. For the sake of peace and justice we need to see a united Palestine where Jews, Moslems and Christians (as well as us atheists) can live together without war.