The suffering that the press ignores
THE RIGHT wing media has scrambled yet again to demonise the Palestinian people as terrorists, but we should stop and evaluate the truth of the situation, whether it has been reported or not.
In the time between the Ashdod bomb in March and last week’s suicide bombings, Israel has killed 436 Palestinians and injured a further 2,309.
I make no excuse whatsoever for the Beersheba bombings. However, I can understand the desperation that drives people to these acts— it’s a sense of hopelessness and helpless abandonment.
In addition to its lethal punitive actions, murders and assassinations, Israel has demolished hundreds of acres of olive groves and crops, and shelled and bulldozed hundreds of Palestinian homes.
It has blockaded towns and villages, making travel to work, hospitals and schools impossible, and destroyed civil structures while demanding an end to resistance.
The result is the collapse of the Palestinian economy, causing starvation, rising rates of infectious diseases and huge numbers of traumatised children.
It is not surprising that this Israeli activity has provoked hostility in an occupied and oppressed people.
The international community needs to act to ensure that Israel complies with all UN resolutions—there have been 87 such resolutions since 1948—the Geneva Convention, the International Court of Justice’s ruling and its agreement to the “road map”.
Dave Edwards, Doncaster
IT IS quite right to expose the hypocrisy of the British government over the question of Sudan.
Ask yourself a simple question. If 30,000 people from Darfur tried to come through Dover or Heathrow, what would Jack Straw say?
Suddenly they would not be people fleeing persecution but “economic migrants” who should go back.
Of course, the people of Darfur are far too poor to make such a journey. But it would be far more valuable for Britain to open its borders to refugees than to threaten more military involvement.
David Hollis, by e-mail
Fight for facilities
Blair and Blunkett hope their Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) fit with the insecurity that blights working class areas.
Socialists can feel on the defensive over ASBOs. New Labour argues that only liberal “do gooders” object to police driving “feral” children off the streets. But these children are our children.
Families know their kids aren’t “evil”—often they are just bored and have nowhere to go.
I grew up on the Regents Park estate in Camden, London.
The run-down of facilities on Regents Park and nearby Somers Town fuelled racial violence in our area, culminating in the death of white teenager Richard Everett in 1995.
Local socialists responded by launching a campaign for more youth provision, successfully pressuring Camden council to improve youth facilities, and bringing together white and Bengali youth in the process.
We showed in practice that there was an answer to our problems that didn’t involve locking up more of our kids.
We need to put arguments against New Labour’s agenda.
But if we’re to get a hearing from ordinary people we have to show in practice that there is an alternative to Blair and Blunkett’s loony agenda.
Michael Bradley, West London
Changing the mood
MANY OF my neighbours and the parents at my children’s school talk about anti-social behaviour.
They fear that their estates will be overrun. But they also fear their own children will be victimised. No one wants their family or their street labelled as “anti-social”.
I find that, in a small way, talking to people and building on the common purpose we established during the anti-war campaign can help unite people.
Jenny Edgar, Lincoln
Climbie case damns services under Blair
THE STATEMENTS by sacked children’s social worker Lisa Arthurworry are a damning exposé of children’s services under Blair’s government.
Lisa was sacked and banned from working with children by Haringey council following the death of Victoria Climbie.
She suffered a nervous breakdown and was unable to defend herself.
Now she’s better, she’s fighting for the truth—a fight we should all support.
Lisa’s description of her working life—poor supervision, lone working, lack of time for discussion of children’s needs, a conveyor belt of vulnerable children to be processed and moved on—all this is the day to day experience in social services across the country.
The forced privatisation of the family is at the heart of the matter.
The neo-liberal free market ideology is clear. There is no such thing as society, and therefore no need for collective support and social welfare.
Instead parents “do or die”, cope or be damned. And outside “help” is not to be encouraged. Impossible regulations, targets and bullying are imposed to discipline workers and treat children as objects of enforced passivity.
Horrifically, the examples of Lisa and Victoria have been used to impose inhuman systems across social services departments nationally.
Thankfully care workers continue to challenge and fight the demolition of welfare, such as the striking social workers in Liverpool who deserve everyone’s support.
Tony Staunton, Plymouth
Socialist politics create space for us
I WOULD like to give a big thanks to Socialist Worker.
I would like to say thank you for defending the civil rights of the black and Muslim communities, who have become Britain’s own “wretched of the earth”.
Thank you for creating a space whereby young British Muslims like myself can now choose a progressive, left wing ideology of liberation.
Otherwise our only choice would between the right wing obscurantism of Bin Laden or the empty liberalism of the British ruling classes.
By this I mean New Labour, the Tories, the Liberal Democrats and their servile apologists in the media.
Thank you for reminding the world at large that the real, core issue of our world is between those who “have”—often through simple extortion and robbery, aided by sophisticated weaponry and economic agreements and institutions—and those who “have not”.
Thank you for always reminding us that both race and religion are tools used by ruling elites to obscure this deeper reality.
Above all, thank you for speaking the truth.
My warmest regards to you brothers and sisters of Socialist Worker and also to all those who are connected with the Socialist Workers Party.
Keep up the fight against exploitation, bigotry and savage militarism!
Deni Abdulkadirov, West London
Why we don’t like Sundays
I was not surprised by a report last week that increasing numbers of people have their weekends ruined by worries about work.
The pressures from employers are growing all the time, and unless you are thinking about work 24/7 then you are seen as a backslider.
I am a lowly assistant in a social work department, but I worry about the important child protection cases I am involved in all the time.
On Sunday I will be thinking of the work on Monday and trying to “get ahead” so I have more time for cases the next day. This would not happen if we had sufficient staff and resources to do our job properly.
Life is so intense now, and it ruins family and community feeling.
Eileen Palmer, Sheffield
Nader will let Bush in again
I would like to comment on the article Who Should We Back For President? (Socialist Worker, 28 August).
In America we have an electoral vote and the electoral college. Nader has no electoral votes, he has no real party to get him electoral votes.
Do you really believe the Republican majority in the House and Senate would obey this radical leftist? Nader will destroy this country by letting Bush in again.
Mark Patterson, Phoenix, Arizona
Leaving the old out in the cold
STAYWARM has been a subsidised heating benefit, non-means tested for pensioners. But private company Powergen has bought Staywarm.
The benefit will now be means tested. This will affect millions of pensioners. It is going to send pensioners further into poverty.
Only those on absolutely nothing will receive it free. I, and many others like me, will be disqualified.
Heating is very important to old age pensioners.
David Hamilton, Telford
A clanger on The Clash
Excellent double-page spread (Socialist Worker, 4 September) on Joe Strummer, which certainly whets the appetite for the exhibition.
However, I believe the fabulous “Police and Thieves” on the Clash’s first album was actually written by Junior Murvin and Lee Perry.
Dick Pole, East London
Revolt grows in the ranks
Regarding your article on US troops opposing the Iraq war (Socialist Worker, 21 August), I was (US) East Coast Organiser for Vietnam GI, but have never been an organiser for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, having never served in Vietnam.
I do work with Traveling Soldier, but the force behind it is Pham Binh.
Your readers may be interested to learn it is very well received now by members of the US armed forces opposed to the war, and goes overseas to Iraq as well as to bases in Europe and the US.
Traveling Soldier was inspired by Vietnam GI, not Broken Arrow.
Vietnam GI was, in those days, the most widely circulated anti-war troops paper going, attracting the notice of Time magazine, as well as the FBI and military intelligence.
Thomas Barton, by e-mail
Tell McDonald’s to burger off
Gemski (Socialist Worker, 28 August) is right. There are some people who describe themselves as socialists or anti-capitalists who still routinely shop at the “McCorporations” which are destroying our diverse cities.
We should follow Gemski’s example and avoid using McDonald’s, Borders and WalMart.
Instead, try to support workers’ co-operatives, fair trade initiatives, radical bookstores, community cafes and others whose business isn’t for profit and who put a lot back into working class communities.
Terry Starr, by e-mail