Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2058

Palestine needs support

I disagree with David Rosenberg’s assertion (» Letters, 30 June) that, “They (Israel) have succeeded beyond their dreams – emasculating Fatah and dividing the Palestinian people.”

It should be clear from Israeli efforts to reinforce Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas militarily that while they preferred Hamas to Fatah 20 years ago they evidently prefer the latter now.

Hamas, like Hizbollah in Lebanon, is a thorn in the side of imperialism’s interests in the region, not least because they are living proof that the US and Israel can be resisted.

They have given confidence to all those in the region who reject accommodation with imperialism, on terms dictated by George Bush – and his “peace envoy” Tony Blair – in favour of resistance.

It is this which worries the US, Israel and those like Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, not Hamas’s religious convictions. Undoubtedly, the Palestinians will require solidarity in the near future. Our support should be unconditional, regardless of whether or not Hamas has further developed its “political strategy”.

Ryan McKinney, County Antrim

Gaza is embroiled in a civil war and if the situation continues to worsen, the West Bank may soon follow. Western governments have imposed sanctions on Palestine and Hamas, who were democratically elected. They only considered lifting them when Mahmoud Abbas expelled Hamas from government.

Where is their great push for democracy and human rights now that was supposedly seen in Iraq? Is the West only interested in so-called democracy when it serves its own agenda?

The West declared that its sanctions against Palestine were put in place because Hamas refused to recognise Israel. But why should they? Their job is to represent the Palestinians.

The people of Gaza live in poverty and overcrowding, often without water and electricity, all at the whim of the Israelis. The Palestinians voiced their unrest by voting Hamas. The West and the Israelis must respect that right.

Only when the West acknowledges Hamas and the Palestinians’ right to rule their own country, will Hamas and Fatah be able to work together towards the future that the Palestinians deserve.

Aisling Gallagher, Glasgow

Tony Blair’s recent comments about the media being a “feral beast” have been completely contradicted with its recent spineless coverage of the events in Palestine.

The media has been all too happy to repeat the lie that a coup has occurred. How this can occur as a result of the actions of a democratically elected government has not been questioned.

Secondly they have spoken of Mahmoud Abbas’s imposed cabinet as the “government” of the Palestinians. Not once have they questioned the legitimacy of such a “government”.

Abbas and his cabinet lack an electoral mandate and credibility. Large sections of Fatah also refuse to recognise the “government”, yet this goes largely unreported.

The media far from being a feral beast, is closer to a whimpering old dog meekly repeating the lies of Tony Blair, George Bush, Ehud Olmert and now, sadly, Mahmoud Abbas.

Lewis Petterson, County Durham

Inflated figures

I don’t believe the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures on inflation as published in Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Retail Price Index (RPI).

How can the government publish figures showing only 2.8 percent inflation when inflation is in fact much higher?

The reason for this propaganda from the ONS is to keep wage demands down.

The price of milk has gone up by 25 percent since January, potatoes by 16.5 percent, while some timber products have increased by 50 percent and glass products 22 percent.

Anything made from copper or brass requires a second mortgage.

The ONS response has been to state that everyone has a different inflation figure dependant upon their purchasing pattern.

While this may be true to some extent, it can’t escape the reality that inflation is leaping ahead while earnings are effectively static.

Any prosperity is eroded by rising bills and falling incomes. Shouldn’t a government be above lies and propaganda?

Well come to think about it, they’ve been lying to us for centuries, so why should I expect them to tell the truth now?

I don’t believe the unemployment figures either, which appear to me to be devoid of all logic, sense and comprehension.

I believe that unemployment is vastly higher than stated, based upon my own visits to the local job centre.

If our government is prepared to mislead us on these issues, just think of the extent they may go on something like Iraq, Israel, or CIA flights of abducted prisoners to be illegally detained and tortured on our soil.

The French have lorry drivers and farmers who are willing to fight.

But the British adopt the traditional Dunkirk spirit of sitting on a beach, drinking tea, complaining, with stiff upper lips while being bombed out of existence, because they have been ordered to.

I’m surprised it still happens.

Colin Charlesworth, Wolverhampton

We need to reclaim our green spaces

You’d think that the green acres of West Wales would allow plenty of room for housing and space. But as Socialist Worker (» The crisis in Britain's housing, 16 June) analysed, space is a commodity not available to working people.

Working class homes are crowded into the smallest space possible, either without a garden or with a small one.

Our rulers took the land off us and resent any that we have. Landowners, who may own acres of land, find the idea of people from the lower orders walking across some of it very aggravating.

It would be nice to organise mass walk-overs of this land and cause these people massive coronories because of the thought of having to share.

Our local council has recently decided to build some affordable homes. This is in a country that is plagued with whole villages of second and third homes that stand empty.

The council will close the only playing fields in an area for the less wealthy.

The local Labour MP defended this decision, saying that “we must have affordable housing”. But robbing us of one of our few amenities is not the way to do this.

The council has already closed childrens’ parks. Most of the green land left around us is inaccessible without a car. Most land is not accessible for walks as it is owned by a tiny minority.

Heather Falconer, West Wales

A broad church?

Pope Benedict should think long and hard before letting Tony Blair into the Catholic church. Leaving aside the damage that it will do to the church for it to embrace one of the architects of the Iraq war, there is also the matter of Blair’s brand of Christianity.

In 1995, when Blair first became Labour leader, he had dinner with AH Halsey, the eminent sociologist and Christian Socialist.

In his autobiography, No Discouragement, Halsey describes how they discussed their shared Christian beliefs.

Eventually, they got around to the question of “who is the second most interesting character in the New Testament”. Blair opted for Pontius Pilate.

Halsey was appalled at what he considered “a characteristic politician’s choice”.

His own choice was “the Good Samaritan, it being understood that here was a case of a member of a despised ethnic minority engaged in direct action, while Pilate was the established undemocratic boss.

“Surely socialism in the 21st century would prefer the Samaritan to the Roman!

“He smiled, assured me that he would not be Pilate, but begged me to understand that the powerful were also deserving of our sympathy.” This, as they say, says it all.

John Newsinger, Leicester

Movement is still vibrant

The recent march in Manchester was not the largest staged against the war in Iraq.

But it was certainly vibrant and kept the focus on the ongoing, relentless neoliberal agenda of New Labour.

Gordon Brown will know that the issues that helped destroy Tony Blair’s dream of going down in history with an honourable political legacy are not going to disappear.

Full credit to the Stop the War Coalition for nurturing and maintaining such a collective cross section of progressive organisations – from revolutionary socialists to Quakers. Briliant.

We move forward with confidence, hope and a wonderful, realisable vision of a better future.

Graham Richards, Manchester

Economics and climate

Gareth Thomas, the parliamentary under-secretary of the department for international development, has said that Britain’s rapidly rising aid budget means that more can be spent to lift people out of poverty in the “low income countries”.

This will then make them less vulnerable to climate change.

But the minister is not addressing the reasons for these countries’ apparent lack of measures to protect themselves from adverse climate changes.

These countries are hard pressed to repay huge international grants and loans.

They therefore have to stretch their resources and boost their production at all costs.

They are hardly in a position to focus on the environmental issues that affect them.

Their suffering will continue.

They don’t need government hand outs.

They need a fair international trade and loan system so that they can be independent.

Husain Akhtar, Chair, Harrow Council for Racial Justice

Blair’s final insult in office

Tony Blair’s farewell speech to parliament was filled with rhetoric unrelated to reality.

I found galling his claim to feel “a certain solidarity” with the thousands of Longbridge workers yet to find a job following the closure of the Birmingham car plant in 2005.

Neither Blair nor Gordon Brown lifted a finger to save the jobs of Longbridge workers or those in related suppliers.

Blair is moving seamlessly from one well paid job to another as a Middle East envoy. He can no doubt look to an even more lucrative future on the US lecture circuit. Solidarity? He doesn’t understand the meaning of the word

David Hughes, President, Birmingham TUC

Oppression by Morocco

The Western Sahara is facing a struggle similar to Palestine. They are a people without a state, and discriminated against by Morocco.

People are detained in secret prisons. Children are taught propaganda in schools and the Tuareg and desert languages are banned in public.

Four people meeting in public together constitutes a political meeting. People are left in the most desolate conditions.

Amina Siegerson, Glasgow

Private equity is a disaster

Private equity sacks staff, cuts wages, outsources, screws suppliers and often reduces services to customers. Essentially, it does capitalism’s dirty business undercover.

A company that is quoted on the stock exchange has to release quarterly financial reports. A private company has no such obligations.

These people have no commitment to employees, communities or investment in research that might take a decade or longer to prove worthwhile.

Rob, by email

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Article information

Tue 3 Jul 2007, 18:28 BST
Issue No. 2058
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