Socialist Worker

Letters—We’re fighting for Sheffield to divest from Israeli firms

Issue No. 2688


Rallying for the unviersity to cut ties with unethical companies (Pic: SHUPalestine/Twitter)

At Sheffield Hallam (SHU) we’re fighting to get the university to divest from companies that participate or invest in Israeli violation of international law.

At a rally in November we called on Sheffield Hallam and the University of Sheffield to cut ties with firms such as Caterpillar, HP, BAE Systems, JCB, Volvo trucks and Rolls Royce.

A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) motion was passed by both SHU Student Union and UCU union last year.

But the university has not progressed with any plans to cut their institutional ties with said unethical companies.

The university has even hidden the BDS policy on the Student Union website.

Management has also decided to meet with either the BDS committee or the SHU Palestine Society.

It claims that this is for protection of the university’s reputation and financial state.

This clear statement of refusal to discuss the university’s unethical ties is discriminatory as this has rarely happened to a SU society in the past.

The university has also tried to turn the student union officers against us by advising them to seek council from the board of trustees before working with the Palestine Society.

The university has violated the BDS policy and several other of its policies.

And it has refused to respond to a Freedom of Information request about its institutional and financial ties, and divestments.

By law, any institution asked for this must respond within 20 days.

Yet SHU has still not responded.

Even so, we will continue our fight against the neoliberal, unethical universities locally.

We urge you to do the same at your local university regardless of the Tories’ post-election ban on public bodies supporting BDS.

Nemo Abdelrahman


The real gangsters

Your article on opioids refers to the disaster of opioid addiction, (Socialist Worker, 8 January).

This drug curse was “pioneered” by the Sackler family—the most vicious drug gangsters in America.

They have made billions from poisoning the poor.

In London, they have sponsored many galleries and museums. They have tried to seem like pristine cultural benefactors.

And the mercenary art world here embraces them without conscience or principle.

The Sacklers are the epitome of capitalism—they pretend to be “civilised” and “caring” while they exploit and persecute the working class.

Zekria Ibrahimi

West London

Mindful Marxism

Sarah Bates draws attention to some important points about the dangerous influence exerted by the “wellness” industry (Socialist Worker, 8 January).

The most worrying of these is the way that “mindfulness”—a practice emphasising living in the moment—has been hijacked.

This can be good but if people don’t like what they see, then they should feel able to take action.

Karl Marx was right when he wrote that in a world shaped by the capitalist system all workers have nothing to lose by becoming politically active.

Adam Colclough


Take on Green racists in Austrian coalition

In Austria, the Green party has entered into a coalition with the conservative People’s Party.

The government announced expansion of the headscarf ban to

14 year old schoolchildren and the decision to take preventive detention for asylum seekers are pure racism.

It is shameful that a “left party” supports such racism.

Migrants, especially Muslims, cannot rely on either party. The talk of the Greens’ “solidarity and anti-racism” turns out to be a pure lie.

What is happening here is the structural oppression of a group of society.

Anyone with decency and reason should actually see that this is about the exclusion and demonisation of Muslims.

Now the ban is being broadened under a left wing government party and it will certainly not stop there.

Fatima El Shebiny


More police won’t help working class

Rebecca Dale (Socialist Worker, 15 January) argues that more money for the police will lead to more convictions.

But the police are not there to protect us.

As Rebecca points out, the rate of conviction for reported rapes stands at a shocking 1.7 percent.

And more go unreported as the police increasingly use repressive methods against victims, such as seizing phones and accessing medical records.

This casts doubt over the testimonies of those who report rapes.

In fact, money for cops has little effect on prosecution rates. Figures remain relatively stable regardless of how much money is chucked at police budgets. Rebecca rightly points to the brutality of the cops, but paints them as being held back from doing the right thing by budget constraints.

The reality is their brutal treatment of protesters, ethnic minorities and working class mobilisations are expressions of their main role.

This is to enforce a system where the rich lord it over the rest of us with contempt.

Alistair Farrow

West London

Tories make hunger worse

Over the last ten years the rise in food banks has quadrupled.

Unfortunately under the Tories, the situation will worsen. We have to demand that food companies supply food banks.

Jonathan Bellini

West London

Iranian people on the streets

I read how Iranians are taking to the streets after war threats (Socialist Worker, 15 January).

They are suffering under brutal and unrelenting sanctions, embargoes, and attacks.

Why don’t we see people in the US protesting every day given their government’s crimes against Iran and other nations?

David Raun

On Facebook

Who should lead Labour?

The Labour Party lurches to the right, yet again (Socialist Worker, 15 January).

When will the reformists realise the Labour Party wasn’t formed as a revolutionary socialist party? How many good socialists are going to waste their lives trying resurrect this corpse?

Ian McGeorge

On Facebook

  • The far left would rather maintain purity in opposition than win and change lives.

Alistair James

On Facebook

  • I am a staunch Momentum activist, but I think if Labour is to ever win power, we need a leader who can unite the left and right voters.

We’ll never win by appealing only to the left.

Ben Benjamin

On Facebook

France on a knife edge

Last week the French government made a temporary concession on one element of the pension reforms.

Both government and strikers are very determined and the conflict is on a knife edge.

The fight has to go on.

John Mullen


Woman's Place UK is wrong on trans 

The Socialist Workers Party should not apologise for pointing out that Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) is critical of trans rights.

It was set up specifically to oppose changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which would have improved trans people’s rights.

Individuals within WPUK play a progressive role in their trade unions and other political campaigns but WPUK plays a reactionary role.

The WPUK manifesto is a series of conventional demands for women’s equality wrapped around a core of transphobia.

WPUK meetings are dominated by criticism of trans activists, justifications for denying that trans women are women and scare stories about predatory trans women popular in the right wing media.

Less than one percent of the population identify as trans. The idea that self-declaration or recognising trans women as women would undermine women’s sporting achievements or vital data collection is nonsense, as is the idea that men pretend to transition to get access to toilets.

There is no automatic unity between the oppressed. In the early 1970s, important American feminist organisations opposed lesbian involvement.

Transphobia wrapped up in feminist language is still transphobia, which is why most trade unions, women’s refuges and socialist parties do not support WPUK. Women and trans people have a common interest in fighting back together against the system that oppresses us all.

Judy Cox

East London

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