Socialist Worker


Issue No. 1880

The Israeli state’s racist policies are not in our name

The British press has been full of stories lately about the reported rise of anti-Semitism, hatred of Jews, throughout Europe. It has said that criticism of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians equals anti-Semitism.

Israeli leader Ariel Sharon is at the forefront, blaming anti-Semitic attacks on an increase to 17 million of the number of Muslims in Europe. He says that all Muslims are potential anti-Semitic terrorists.

It is tragic that there are attacks on Jewish schools and synagogues. These acts play directly into the hands of those who would like to prove that the whole world is anti-Semitic and the only answer is to bolster Israeli military power in “self defence”.

Racist attacks in all forms are completely abhorrent. There are many (unpublicised) attacks on refugees throughout Europe, and for many mainstream politicians anti-Muslim sentiments have become acceptable.

Not all Jews are Zionists. There are Jews inside Israel and all over the world who denounce the atrocities that are committed in our name.

On a larger scale, when Muslims, Jews and every other conceivable group has marched together against war, we have shown how to put forward a unified response to warmongering.

There is a growth of fascism across the continent. If we are to resist that threat we need mass action that crosses every ethnic and social group.

History has taught us we can fight racism, but only through unity.

Esther Neslen, East London

The bombing of two synagogues in Istanbul has spread alarm in Jewish communities throughout the world.

It is shocking that innocent Jews should be targeted, presumably in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle against Israel. These desperate, criminal acts killed 23 people and injured 300, the majority of them Muslims.

However, knee-jerk cries of anti-Semitism from Israeli politicians are wide of the mark. Since the creation of Israel in 1948 it has committed war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Successive Israeli leaders have claimed to speak in the name of all Jews as they carried out these barbarous policies.

Tragically, the majority of Israelis and world Jewry have failed to dissociate themselves from these crimes, even if a number of individual Jews have.

It is not surprising that pro-Palestinian militants take the Israeli leaders at their word and accept that “Jew” and “Zionist” are the same.

To bomb synagogues is therefore to accept Sharon’s identification of “Jew” and “Zionist”. It provides him with a fresh opportunity to claim that Jews are in danger everywhere and need a strong Jewish state to protect them.

Palestinians can only be free through collective struggle against Zionism and imperialism throughout the Middle East.

Jews and Arabs lived side by side in relative harmony for at least 1,500 years. It was Zionist colonisation that sowed the seeds of hatred and conflict.

Sabby Sagall, North London

Shame minister

It is astonishing that minister Denis MacShane has challenged British Muslims to choose between British values and terrorism.

Not only is it an insult to the majority of Muslims who live their lives focused around values of peace and justice, it is an irresponsible comment that will be used to justify the rising tide of Islamophobia.

Not all Christians, Jews and Hindus are judged according to how Bush, Blair, Sharon or the BJP conduct themselves. It is unfair that all Muslims should be labelled according to the choices of a few individuals.

MacShane should question the foreign policy of his own government and its allies. For years they have taken part in the slaughter of civilians for their own imperialistic gains.

Salma Iqbal, Birmingham

Students reject bigoted prince

The Edinburgh University Students Association annual general meeting last week voted overwhelmingly to call for elections for the post of university chancellor.

This would result in the removal of the current chancellor, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was “awarded” the post for life in 1952.

A huge majority of the 800 students in attendance voted that after 51 years enough was enough.

The mood of the meeting was angry. Many students were shocked to discover that Prince Philip was the chancellor.

One student was threatened with arrest while carrying a placard criticising the prince outside the Royal Variety Performance.

Most contributions concerned students’ fury at Prince Philip’s racism, given his string of disgusting comments offending people everywhere he goes.

People were furious that he should be allowed to represent the tens of thousands of students who in the past have consistently voted against apartheid, racism and imperialist wars.

His position as the figurehead of our university undermined any work that students do to fight for racial equality and asylum seekers, and opposing imperialism.

The students of Edinburgh University say good riddance!

Martin Barnet, Edinburgh

Our movement wins a victory

There is good news for anti-capitalist activists-the Thessaloniki Seven prisoners were granted bail on Wednesday of last week until their trial takes place.

The seven activists were arrested during the protests that took place during the European Union summit in Thessaloniki in Greece last June.

They included Simon Chapman from London and a Syrian exile who is now under threat of deportation back to Syria, where he faces the death penalty.

Five of the Thessaloniki Seven were on hunger strike for between 49 and 66 days in protest against their imprisonment.

Pressure on the Greek authorities had increased since their health deteriorated. Solidarity groups and campaigns all over the world, including the calls by 28 MEPs for their release and by Amnesty International for an independent inquiry, have to be praised for this outcome.

This case showed the range of methods that the ruling class is ready to use to take on the movement.

Videos and photographs clearly show that the police framed Simon and the others by planting “evidence” on them.

This story is a perfect example of the real purpose of so called “anti-terrorist laws”. But it also shows that solidarity around the world can shake the establishment up.

Nicolas Van Labeke, South London

This school fought back

Last summer, after an extremely brief “inspection” by someone sent by the Learning Trust-the unelected body that runs education in Hackney, east London-my daughter’s primary school was unexpectedly categorised as “failing to thrive”.

The more cynical of us parents smelled a rat. “Failing” schools tend to be sold off in Hackney, and my daughter’s school has an unusually large site.

Moreover, here was a state school that was doing Hackney’s youngsters proud. It did not select pupils on the basis of their potential to boost SATs results, but instead opened its doors to all.

The staff worked hard and enthusiastically to give pupils the best start in life that they could. Despite a shortage of funds the achievements were remarkable. Ofsted inspectors were more than satisfied.

The head fought back, demanding another inspection. Last week the result was published. It was an overwhelming vindication of the school’s achievements.

It emerged that the Learning Trust wanted the school’s site for the latest of its experiments – an academy to cater for children aged from four to 18.

It appears that the council/Learning Trust were prepared to manufacture a negative report on the school.

Our children need non-selective, genuinely comprehensive secondary schools run by democratically accountable bodies, not damaging tricks and experiments engineered by unaccountable bodies.

Clare Fermont, Hackney

Scanzano revolt not waste of time

While Italy was officially in mourning for the soldiers killed in Iraq, the Italian government chose Scanzano Jonico in the far south of the country to store 80,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste.

The region contains only 600,000 inhabitants, and has little recent history of social resistance. Yet opposition there was!

The salt mines were the first to be occupied.

Basilicata was isolated for twelve days with at least ten roadblocks across the region, which was copied in nearby Puglia.

On 20 November there were 20,000 in the streets. On the 23 November more than 150,000 came, led by mayors and local priests marching behind a trade union banner.

On the 28 November the government withdrew its bill, declaring it “wanted to think about the problem”.

Francesco Ardolino, Italy

Killer trade that must be ended

It is disgusting that the UK is the second biggest firearms exporter in the world. There is an estimated turnover of £14 billion. All that money spent on killing people!

The UK and other governments have got a lot to answer for in allowing all these weapons to be manufactured in the name of profit.

Under a socialist society that £14 billion would be halted immediately, and spent on schools, hospitals, public transport, roads, housing and street lighting.

C A Dowthwaite, Barrow-in-Furness

Uprising was backed by US

Chris Harman’s article on the Georgian Revolution (Socialist Worker, 29 November) fails to mention one key point.

Ousted president Eduard Shevardnadze had recently signed a secret agreement with Russia’s Gazprom energy company giving it a monopoly on gas imports to Georgia.

If Shevardnadze had played ball with Washington, Georgia’s rigged November election would have been ignored.

Phil Gasper, Berkeley, California

The police have not changed

The police are racist and always were. I am a man of 85 years and I remember the 1930s in Kilburn.

The police terrorised the Irish and the Gypsies all over the country. The police wagon in Kilburn was called the “Paddy wagon” for obvious reasons. I have known police stations in different parts of the country where they took Gypsies and Irish people in just to beat them up.

I do not trust them and never will. I am not alone.

A reader

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Article information

Sat 6 Dec 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1880
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