Why we’ll stay committed to Palestine and the boycott
Last week the Guardian newspaper published a statement signed by 343 British academics pledging not to cooperate with Israeli academic institutions. By Friday this list had risen to over 500.
The Commitment is motivated by deep concern for Palestinians. Recent events have provided, once again, grim evidence of Israeli intransigence.
The statement has re-opened the debate on the strategy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Boycotts have always played an important role in the fight for human rights. Thousands of anti-racists demonstrated our horror of apartheid in South Africa through an international boycott.
Today our UCU union is seeking to protest against Islamophobia in education by boycotting the government’s Prevent initiative.
The BDS movement began as a response to calls from Palestinian civil society groups in 2005. They appealed for help to raise awareness of the occupation of Palestinian lands by the Israeli state and its expansion of settlements in Palestinian territory.
Young Palestinians are denied education as schools, colleges and universities are invaded or closed for long periods of time.
And they face day-to-day humiliation at the hands of the Israeli state at the hundreds of checkpoints which pepper the West Bank. The BDS movement calls for action against this state-sanctioned violence.
Some people, such as authors JK Rowling and Hilary Mantel, claim that engagement and dialogue with Israel is the best way forward. But this only legitimises the occupation.
Solidarity means engaging with those resisting the Israeli state not those who support it. We cannot stand by while our colleagues in Palestine face daily discrimination and abuse.
We call on all trade unionists to take the pledge to their own organisations.
Dr Karen Evans and Dr Carlo Morelli
Signatories of the Commitment by UK Scholars to the Rights of Palestinians
Attacks ain’t great
I agree with Alan Cresswell-Laing (Letters, 31 October) that we are “living in exciting times”.
But I disagree that the Tories becoming more vicious will automatically help build resistance. They create division and undermine solidarity. These attacks mean real suffering. Austerity is becoming a leading cause of suicide in Britain.
This might seem a dire counsel of misery, but we can fight back. As Socialist Worker put it, “We Can Beat Them”—with the solidarity of our class, with strikes and disobedience.
Be repulsed by poppies
Every November we are subjected to our repulsive rulers shedding crocodile tears for the working class women and men killed in their wars. The shocking toll of death for the sake of British imperial interests is indeed something to mourn, but even more reason to protest.
That’s why Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to wear a red poppy is a critical mistake. He should refuse to join in wearing an icon invented to cover up the horror of war under a sheen of sentimentality and pretended “national interests”.
His decision shows the pressure from the Labour right to conform rather than tell the truth about the brutal world we live in. I hope he changes his mind.
Hypocrisy of racists who back Blackman
For several years the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign has held a vigil every Wednesday in Parliament Square. Last week we arrived to find a protest for Sergeant Alexander Blackman, serving life for the murder of a wounded Taliban fighter in Afghanistan.
The protest included a fair contingent from the racist English Defence League and its former leader Tommy Robinson. We were subject to constant provocation with racist and Islamophobic overtones.
Blackman had pointed his pistol at the prisoner’s chest. He pulled the trigger with the words, “Shuffle off this mortal coil you c***. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”
Unlike Shaker, Blackman was charged, tried in a court of law, convicted and given the right to appeal.
There were many other Mary Barbours
There’s a call to build a statue to Mary Barbour, one of the leaders of the 1915 Glasgow Rent Strike. It’s a great idea to commemorate the working class women who fought for council housing—those who came to be known as Mary Barbour’s army (Letters, 31 October).
It’s also worth celebrating Helen Crawfurd, a key rebel of the period but less celebrated. Both were members of Independent Labour Party (ILP) and campaigned for better housing conditions in the pre-war period.
Helen was a militant suffragette. Jailed on four occasions, she went on hunger strike. But she broke with leading Suffragettes when they backed the war.
She was an anti-war campaigner alongside John Maclean, an ally of the Clyde Workers’ Committee and supporter of the Bolshevik revolution. Helen later broke with the ILP to be a founder member of the British Communist Party. She was a fighter for women’s rights and a revolutionary.
JUST A THOUGHT
Academics back students
Great article on the student rebellion in South Africa (Socialist Worker, 31 October). It was non-violent, huge, and implemented with an attitude of no retreat, no surrender.
It should inspire us all and it was also supported by academics.
Gadija Da Costa
Please even the score
The Daily Mail newspaper covered a story about our late dad. It would have had him turning in his grave. It was about the Proclaimers backing his granddaughter’s charity walk—500 miles—in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Dad despised the right wing press. Having this story covered in Socialist Worker might return some credibility.
James and Richard Grundy
Let’s relegate the Tories
As the skids under this nasty, fragile government increase, the Tories should beware the speed of demotion that Chelsea football manager Jose Morinho has suffered.
From the “Special One” to the drop zone in one year.
Swindled out of tax credits
The online dictionary says a scammer is a “person who perpetrates a scam; swindler”. Cameron said before the election he would not cut tax credits.
He did and swindled his way back into power.
Rich lords make me sick
The sight of Tory millionaires, such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, scuttling over first class to vote to cut tax credits to low paid workers was sickening.
Here’s hoping “Lady Brady” joins her former The Apprentice colleague Lord Sugar and pisses off to China.