State of exclusion
Seven women from Birmingham recently attempted to take money to a project for needy Palestinian children in the Occupied Territories.
They wanted to develop links between Palestinians and people from Birmingham. The visit was organised by the Birmingham-Ramallah Twinning Committee. The committee has organised successful events in Birmingham and trips to Palestine to raise solidarity.
The women set off on Friday 6 May. By Sunday 8 May they were back in Birmingham.
The authorities refused to let them into Israel. They were interrogated and detained even though the Israelis didn’t have any reason to keep them out. They were told that they could either be deported or detained for one week in Israel.
Israel doesn’t like people going into the Palestinian territories, as they are likely to expose Israel’s illegal actions. The Palestinians feel isolated under the occupation.Visits by outsiders are important in assuring them that they are not forgotten. The occupation has lasted for 37 years.
Israel talks peace, but its actions push peace further into the future. If Israeli women were treated like this in Britain, there would be an unbelievable outcry. Why did that not happen when Israel treated British citizens in this way?
Kamel Hawwash, Chair, Birmingham-Ramallah Twinning Committee
I was part of the Birmingham delegation denied entry into Israel. We wanted to meet women’s groups and children’s charities in Ramallah in the West Bank—30 percent of Palestinian children are malnourished. We also wanted to meet Israelis who support peace.
The Israeli authorities took our passports, phones and cameras from us at Tel Aviv airport. We were treated like criminals, all but strip-searched, and one of our members was denied access to her luggage which contained necessary medication.
Israeli security officials would not respond to enquiries from the British Consulate. Now we are campaigning to get the “entry denied” stamps removed from our passports. We want to know why Israel saw fit to think we shouldn’t be allowed in.
We want to go back as we still want to do the things we set out to do.
Yvonne Washbourne, President, Birmingham trades council
The nosepeg will be no help
If anyone believes that chancellor Gordon Brown is a left wing alternative to Tony Blair then they are in for a rude awakening.
During the general election Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee gave out nosepegs for people to wear when they voted Labour because, despite the stench, it would ensure Gordon Brown became prime minister.
But Brown is little different to Blair. He funded the war on Iraq and is proposing free market, “flexible” policies at home.
Brown announced at a bosses CBI meeting last week that he would campaign to keep Britain out of the European Union 48-hour working week directive. He was applauded for this.
Brown also said at last week’s Amicus union conference that “reform” of public services and wage restraint for workers in the public sector were essential to his policies.
In my own department, the Inland Revenue, it was Gordon Brown who promoted Nick Monatgue, the ex-chief executive of Railtrack, to its head.
Montague then promptly sold off the 600 buildings to Mapley, an off-shore tax haven company.
The battle is now on to stop Brown cutting over 100,000 civil service workers’ jobs.
Anna Owens, East London
Negri’s naive view
The anti-capitalist writer Toni Negri’s support for the European constitution (Socialist Worker, 21 May) is not simply because he sees it as a potential counterweight to hawkish US unilateralism.
His argument is that the constitution of Europe will be a step towards the death of the nation state and towards the constitution of the multitude.
For Negri the multitude is a revolutionary subject free from the bind of nationalism. He poses “the multitude” in place of “the people” because the latter presupposes the nation.
There are many problems with Negri’s conception, but the biggest problem I see with his support of the constitution is that it is a “stages” theory of revolution.
Negri sees the constitution of Europe as creating the basis for the constitution of the revolutionary multitude.
This seems remarkably naive and puzzling—given how extensively Negri has written on the ability of capital to reconfigure its modes of control.
Richard Bailey, Australia
Update the principles
I am a trade unionist in the Natfhe lecturers’ union and have been a reader of Socialist Worker for over 30 years. I voted Green at the general election in Shipley while campaigning for Respect in Bradford North.
I read the what the Socialist Workers Party stands for box on page 10 in order to see what the SWP had to say about the environment. Imagine my surprise when I could find nothing.
Most of it is fair enough, but nobody knew about climate change when the principles were written.
No planet — no socialism! Get up to date and change the statement of principles.
There’s no contradiction between being anti-capitalist and being green—in fact the two require each other. Don’t forget that the second “e” in Respect stands for environment.
Brian Collier, Shipley
Don’t fall for dangerous climate change solution
Climate change has rightly become a major issue in the political programmes of left parties, such as the Greens and Respect.
Unfortunately there is a proposed technical fix that is far more dangerous than nuclear power. This is the underground storage of carbon dioxide emissions from power stations — “carbon sequestration” or “carbon capture”.
This will involve pumping millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into old oil fields, aquifers and other underground places. It seems harmless, but over time, the amount of stored carbon dioxide will build up.
It is inevitable that an earthquake or other unpredictable event will burp several years accumulated carbon dioxide into the atmosphere all at once, with unpredictable consequences for the climate.
The left has traditionally supported “clean burn” technologies for coal.
This means removing the dust and sulphur dioxide from the emissions and using the heat efficiently through district heating schemes.
The concept of “clean burn” should not be extended to include carbon sequestration.
Therefore efficient coal burning should be regarded as a transitional technology to be used while our economy adapts to lower energy inputs, rather than as a long term solution.
David Leal, South East London
Uzbek movement gives me hope
What's happening in Uzbekistan is exciting for the struggle for socialism.
Uzbekistan is the scene of the fourth revolt against authority in countries that used to be part of the USSR. The best known of these upheavals were in Georgia and especially Ukraine.
It was possible to present the Georgian movement as achieving a pro-market victory for the West. The government was identified with the old Communist regime and the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Uzbekistan is different. The regime of Islam Karimov is notorious for hardly having changed since Soviet times. But it took a decisive move away from Russia and now hosts a US base near Afghanistan.
The US now appears to be embarrassed about this association. The Uzbekistan revolt cannot be seen as being pro-Western. Any revolt against Karimov must be seen as a revolt against his US backers.
No future movement in countries like Ukraine and Georgia can be painted as being pro-Western, as these regimes are in the Western sphere of influence. There will be people open to ideas which fit their situation better than the Bush and Blair school of elite democracy — socialist ideas.
Pete Glatter, South West London
Help defend Tham Sarki
Nepalese asylum seeker Tham Sarki’s solicitors have recently withdrawn from doing public immigration case work. We urgently need to find £1,500 to fund Tham’s defence and prevent him from being sent back to Nepal, where the situation is worse than ever.
Donations will be gratefully received. Please make cheques payable to LARAG and send them to the Tham Sarki Campaign, 114 Shell Road, London SE13 7DF. If you want further information or have fundraising ideas phone Pat Carmody on 07913 701 042.
Anna, Tham Sarki Campaign
Film won heart and mind
I went to see the Vietnam documentary Hearts and Minds two weeks ago. This launched the Socialist Film Club in London.
It was a moving experience, showing the lies our leaders tell and the disastrous effects they have on ordinary people. The parallels between Vietnam and Iraq came out clearly.
Hearts and Minds shows how powerful cinema can be. It was a successful evening and I would urge people to come to the next event.
Jenny Jenkins, East London
For more on the Socialist Film Club see meetings and events
Performance won me over
I never liked George Galloway. I thought he was arrogant and a friend of Saddam Hussein.
But after seeing him speak out in the US, I now admire him. He thinks more of the ordinary people than most senators. Good luck, George.
Ronald Mallier, Warrington
Demanding Respect in US
I wish this country produced even one politician with the wit, passion and ability that George Galloway showed before the US senate committee.
It was absolutely outstanding. Let me know when Respect opens an international branch. I’ll be in the queue for membership.
Kevin, Bala Cynwyd, US
Accusing the murderers
When Galloway went to Washington he told the world media on his arrival that he was going to address the senate as the “accuser not the accused”.
This statement from George stood in the tradition of the Scottish socialist John MacLean.
MacLean stood in the dock in Glasgow in 1918 defending his right to protest, stating that he was not “the accused” but the “accuser of capitalism, dripping head to toe with blood”.
George Galloway’s speech shows why we have to build the resistance to stop the G8 this July and bring to account the real scandal in Iraq — the “blood for oil scandal”.
Mark Porciani, Dumbarton
Media and the forgery
Thanks for the excellent article on the forgery of the document about George Galloway (Socialist Worker, 21 May), which got a brief mention on Newsnight.
This story was not reported in either the Guardian or the Independent last week. You should follow this up with them — they must not be allowed to get away with this.
Chris Edwards, by e-mail
US strategy will be failure
The next war, if it ever happens, will be fought not on European soil but in Asia and Africa.
The West may be foolhardy enough to force such a war in spite of nuclear weapons. The struggle is the same — Western capitalism versus the soicialist future. The US seeking hegemony may be its undoing.
Capitalism has to collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions. So we need to confront it with organised peoples’ power, with democracy as the plank — but not of the Bush variety.
K S Parthasarathy, Bangalore, India