comic relief a vanity project for the likes of Bob Geldof and the rest, than it is actually helping people in the long term.

a vanity project for the likes of Bob Geldof than it is actually helping people in the long term.

No one wants to talk about the scandal dogging Comic Relief, but it has to be done

No one wants to discuss the scandal dogging Comic Relief, but it has to be done. As Labour MP David Lammy writes in The Guardian on 24 March:

A 5% rise in developing countries’ share of world exports would generate $350bn – seven times as much as they receive in aid

He adds that:

profit-shifting by multinational companies costs developing nations $100bn a year that they could spend on education, infrastructure and public services.

Instead of treating developing countries as charity cases, Lammy argues that we could solve the problem structurally.

Profit-shifting or ‘transfer pricing’ is trade between two financial entities that are part of the same multinational group. Corporations then manipulate internal payments in order to avoid paying tax. This exploitation is rife from Western multinationals in Africa.

The MP for Tottenham advocates allowing local companies and public bodies to gain control of their own resources:

we silently acquiesce to global corporations’ asset-stripping of poorer nations.


Historical context will unfortunately be absent from Comic Relief. Colonialism saw the West plunder and enslave Latin America, Asia and Africa. This global system of subjugation and wealth extraction was a driving force of Western development.

Today, the wealth largely accumulated through colonialism perpetuates such practices. Africa loses an estimated £40bn a year in illegal outflows and price manipulation.

But neo-colonialism goes beyond this. John Perkins, a former renowned member of the international banking community, told Democracy Now:

Basically what we were trained to do and what our job is to do is to build up the American empire. To bring – to create situations where as many resources as possible flow into this country, to our corporations, and our government, and in fact we’ve been very successful. We’ve built the largest empire in the history of the world. It’s been done over the last 50 years since World War II with very little military might, actually. It’s only in rare instances like Iraq where the military comes in as a last resort.

According to Perkins, world leaders that do not accept Western ‘free market’ capitalism, loans from the World Bank, and privatised infrastructure are all subject to military force. They must sell off their economies to Western corporations or face the “jackals” (CIA-sanctioned armed opposition), as Perkins says. Failing that, the US military goes in.

But we do not have to rely on Perkins. A parliamentary report on the 2011 military intervention in Libya, released in September 2016, shows that a desire for Libyan oil was one of the main motives. The inquiry found that humanitarianism was merely a pretext for invasion. And The Canary‘s Steve Topple has noted that the conflict in Syria today is largely a battle for natural resources between Russia and the West.

“He who feeds you, controls you”

Without such military and economic behaviour from the world’s most powerful people, developing nations could flourish.

Of course, aid can help within the present context. But some Africans remain opposed. As pan-African Marxist Thomas Sankara once said:

He who feeds you, controls you.

From 1983, Sankara was President of Burkina Faso. The Guardian‘s David Smithwrote:

During his four-year rule, school attendance leaped from 6% to 22%, some 2.5 million children were vaccinated and thousands of health centres opened. Housing, road and railway building projects got under way and 10 million trees were planted.

Sankara opposed foreign aid, along with the financial assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. And by the end of his four-year premiership, Burkina Faso was “practically self-sufficient in its demand for basic foodstuffs”, wrote Peter Dorrie for Think Africa Press. Sankara was assassinated on 15 October, 1987.

If Western corporations stopped administering predatory loans to developing countries, privatising their infrastructure, and avoiding tax in the process, they wouldn’t need our aid. At present, corporations are impoverishing developing nations for profit. Then, the corporations issue a portion back as ‘charity’. The procedure obscures any talk of institutional inequality with an atmosphere of gratitude. Charity helps to frame society so that developing countries are indebted and the rich aren’t, even though the latter actually depend on working people for their privilege.

Meanwhile, the working Western public picks up the rest of the pieces through donation drives. Lammy is right to emphasise the structural problems; because they are what we need to fix in order to achieve lasting relief.



Israel debates plans: An ‘alternative’ homeland for Palestinians?

It appears as the perfect option to get rid of the Palestinian state, taking advantage of a situation where US seems to be backing out on the two-state solution

By As’ad Abdul Rahman, Special to Gulf News
Published: 17:33 March 24, 2017

Gulf News

Israel’s policy draws upon its substitution/expansionist designs that seek to annex the largest possible area of Palestine and dispose of the biggest number of its people. When being extremely ‘generous’, the Israeli far-right ruling coalition would propose establishment of a rubber-stamp Palestinian state, having the image of an ‘ailing homeland’, i.e. a Palestinian authority in the West bank devoid of power and sufficient geography, while maintaining to Israel a state of ‘convenient occupation’ that would see expansion/annexation of Jewish colonial (“settlement”) blocs and construction of new ones. Such plots would include maintaining the blockade imposed on Gaza Strip along with other punitive measures.

When such an ‘ailing homeland’ is created, the Zionist state may fear its ‘existence’ or ‘recovery’ and seek to expel its citizens within the notion of an alternative homeland or merely consider Jordan to be the Palestinian state because of the presence of a Palestinian “majority” on the eastern side of the River Jordan — a proposal rejected both by Jordan and Palestine. It is worth noting that such an alternative homeland is not restricted to Jordan but goes beyond that to settling Palestinian refugees in countries where they currently reside (such as Syria and Lebanon). Recently, there have been Israeli voices calling for an ‘alternative homeland’ to the Palestinians in Sinai Peninsula.

The idea of an alternative homeland is linked to the recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” as well as to the goals of the racist separation wall that it is still building. They are all part of Israeli ready-to-implement designs, the most “extremist” of which is ethnic cleansing and deportation of Arabs from the occupied lands when time permits. Such designs run parallel to an expedited Judaisation process that is going on within the Zionist colonialist and expansionist strategy throughout its history based on two fundamentals: Requiring seizure of the Palestinian land after emptying it by massacres and terrorism or by means of economic policies that would make Palestine a land ‘repelling’ its native population.

United States President Donald Trump has called on the Israeli and Palestinian sides to choose the solution they deem suitable in “cooperation and coordination” with some Arab states. But a serious debate is going on in Israel on proposed solutions, mostly focusing on mere Palestinian self-rule. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, wants a self-rule in the form of a ‘deficient’ state, repeating his preconditions for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and for security control of all Palestinian lands west of Jordan River. He claims he wants the Palestinians “to be free in a self-rule without being able to pose a threat to Israel”. Isaac Hertzog, the opposition Labor party leader, who we are told is a “moderate”, is proposing an interim Palestinian state devoid of any sovereignty. This proposal was outlined in an article in the Israeli daily Haaretz, where he proposed that Israel be recognised as a Jewish state with colonist blocs maintained, along with a demilitarised Palestinian state that is still under occupation. His proposal also seeks increased cooperation with Arab states in the region, especially in security and economic domains, completing construction of the Separation (apartheid) Wall and the one surrounding occupied Jerusalem, with nearby Palestinian villages isolated.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, who usually tries to appear with a political stand different from that of his rightist Likud party, has declared his support for the “annexation of all occupied areas to Israel”. He says he is convinced that “all of historical Palestine is a property of the Jews and the sole authority in those areas should remain in the hands of the government of Israel”. Another plan was proposed by Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party and the main rival of Netanyahu and his Likud party. Bennett offered granting “self-rule” to 40 per cent of the West Bank, but remains linked to the Zionist state, and annexing to it the remaining 60 per cent of the land. His plan also includes pushing Gaza Strip to establish “an independent Palestinian state”. Bennett proposes enhancing the “desired’ self-rule with an economic recovery programme in the West Bank similar to the US Marshall Plan initiative extended to Europe in the wake of Second World War. Occupied Jerusalem is to be excluded, because in his view, the city will be the capital of the Zionist state. It is also important to refer, in this context, to a plan suggested by the Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, based on “a land exchange” plan that involves annexation of the Jewish colonies in return for a transfer of the Triangle (a concentration of Palestinian towns in Israel) to the Palestinian “state”, or the self-rule areas.

“The ‘alternative homeland’ appears as the ultimate and perfect option for Israel to get rid of the Palestinian state …””

-As’ad Abdul Rahman

The ‘alternative homeland’ appears as the ultimate and perfect option for Israel to get rid of the Palestinian state, taking advantage of a situation where the US appears to be backing out of its historic position on the two-state solution. Such an option also appears favourable in light of the current regional conditions lacking Arab and Muslim support to the Palestinians in addition to a decline in the current status of Europe that has for long advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state. Yair Sheleg, a researcher in Israel Democracy Institute, wrote under the title, Only the Jordanian Option: No to Annexation, No to Two States, saying such an option (the alternative homeland) should be revived. He added: “If the American president and many others in the West, who now realise the risks they face from unstable Arab countries, are convinced that this would be the best solution, then with the tools they have and the use of the carrot-and-stick approach, they can convince Jordan to move in the desired direction.”

Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopae