Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2012

Israel started conflict

I’ve been reading that the war on Lebanon was caused by Hizbollah entering Israel and capturing two Israeli soldiers. Israel called this common occurrence an “act of war” (it isn’t) and has used this to ignore criticisms for its violations of international law and ironically, the Nuremberg rulings.

Earlier news items paint a very different picture which Mike Rivero has collected on his website (

According to the Lebanese police force, the two soldiers were captured in Lebanese territory, in the area of Aïta Al-Chaab close to the border, whereas Israeli television indicated that they had been captured in Israeli territory. ran a report on the day the soldiers were captured which said, “The forces were trying to keep the soldiers’ captors from moving them deeper into Lebanon, Israeli government officials said on condition of anonymity.”

It’s obvious that the two soldiers were captured, not “kidnapped” as much of the press has it. In fact, this appears to be an Israeli provocation designed to serve as a cause of war, just as Israel practiced in 1967, when it sent bulldozers into Lebanon.

Not until a later Reuters report using Israeli sources (presumably military) was the incident put on the Israeli side of the border. This information needs to be taken up, investigated by the anti-war movement.

The only way to stop this war is to show that Israel, not Hizbollah, is the source of the conflict (very easy to do), and that the media stories are in conflict and don’t provide a clear cause for war.

Brian Souter, Canberra, Australia

In the 1960s we had the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign which actively supported the National Liberation Front in Vietnam. We had also the Movement for Colonial Freedom and the Anti Apartheid Movement.

Surely it is time we started the Solidarity campaign for those fighting the US and its allies. The US and Britain talk about redefining the Middle East but we have to oppose the imperialists reasserting themselves. They are trying to make the world safe for capitalism. We have to oppose that and support those who have an alternative position.

The real terrorists are, without doubt, Bush and Blair. They kill or support the killing of large numbers of people in the Middle East and elsewhere. We have to show our solidarity with the oppressed across the world. As socialists we have no choice.

In the process of supporting those oppressed people we need numbers so that the government cannot pick off individuals for speaking out and supporting those fighting the Zionists, the US or the British.

It is time to take the offensive.

Robin Doughty, Birmingham

Marxists and art

I found Sinead Kennedy’s recent three columns on the developments in 20th century art in relation to Marxist interpretations of the same subject to be informative.

However I disagree with what seems to be her assumption that it was primarily the experience of the world wars that resulted in artists feeling the need to reject bourgeois notions of art and its meaning.

Knowing that a war is happening somewhere does affect our perception of the world. But not as much as the immediate circumstances that we live in.

The crippled wartime economy of Paris in 1917 and the resulting poverty that Picasso experienced, paved the way for much of his work. It was a much more important experience than seeing a war that created a “crisis for our understanding”.

I am an artist and war deeply affects my work and its process, and I cannot ignore it.

However it is when you are forced to miss a meal that aesthetics mean nothing anymore and you realise that you have to make something new instead, that something better is conceivable.

Tom Rapsey, Swansea

Policing the police

I have just heard that the police officers who killed Jean Charles de Menezes will escape punishment. Do these officers have a “licence to kill”?

In my country police officers can (in some cases) do drugs to catch alleged drug dealers, have sex to catch alleged prostitutes, and the right to lie is part of the job.

Even when police brutality is caught on tape they usually escape punishment. Is it the same in Britain?

British and US police officers should not have the legal right to do things that you and I can’t legally do.

Chuck Mann, Greensboro, USA

Soviet Union under Stalin was socialist

Iain Taylor argues (Letters, 29 July) that the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin’s leadership was state capitalist, because it had to compete with imperialist countries economically and militarily.

The same would be true of any socialist state that came into existence - unless socialism came into being simultaneously in every country in the same period of time!

This is a Disneyland version of socialism. It sets preconditions for the achievement of socialism that are so stringent that they could never possibly occur.

The Soviet Union under Stalin was socialist. Due to the Nazi threat, unity and discipline became the overriding necessity and, as a result, excesses occurred.

The Soviet people saved world civilisation against fascism in the Second World War, at the cost of over 20 million Soviet lives.

During Stalin’s rule, the Soviet people were able to industrialise the country while improving life expectancy and other key indicators of human welfare.

The decline of the Soviet economy only began once Khruschev took power. People who believe that Stalin “killed tens of millions” of Soviet citizens need only look at the population figures (which are accepted by Western academics) that show that this allegation is rubbish.

Jacob Secker, East London

Are the unions to the left of Labour?

I welcome John McDonnell’s bid for leadership of the Labour Party. It’s a chance for a genuine discussion on the future of the left both within and outside the Labour Party.

It will be very interesting to see the positions the leading trade union bureaucrats take during the leadership contest.

They have a choice - Gordon Brown, a fervent supporter of neo-liberalism has shown no inclination towards the workers’ movement in his long political career.

John McDonnell gives staunch support to the struggle of trade unionists and supports the repeal of the Thatcherite anti-union laws - the position of the trade unions since the laws were first enacted.

If they, as one would suspect, opt for Brown, they’ll have shown themselves, to be spineless careerists with no interest in improving the lives of their members or building the trade union movement. Or, they could heed the calls of the rank and file.

Ultimately, it will be up to the ordinary day to day activists and trade unionists to win the wider trade union movement to a position of outright opposition to neo-liberalism and for socialism.

Callum McCormick, Glasgow

Selling off our care

St Drostan’s home in Aberdeenshire is a purpose-built old people’s home. It is excellently run, and the residents, their friends and relatives are all very happy with the care provided.

Aberdeenshire council has decided to close the home. It’s policies are exporting jobs from the council to the private sector.

Despite a contractual obligation to allow people to stay in their home for as long as they wish the council is trying to persuade them to leave.

John Ollason, Aberdeen

Challenging racist lies

As a resident of Barking and Dagenham I was delighted to read your report (Socialist Worker, 22 July) that Ms Dynamite had visited Barking Abbey school to speak out against racism in the borough.

I have had a strange feeling of shame for those in my home area who fell for the British National Party (BNP) lies and elected 11 fascist councilors in May.

I’m so glad to see Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) challenging the lies and hatred that the BNP have spread across this area.

I look forward to all the good work that LMHR will do in Barking and Dagenham. There is a lot of support for their campaign here.

Andrew Smith, Dagenham

Providing the real news

I subscribe to Socialist Review and had done so for a number of years.

Then suddenly, I started receiving Socialist Worker without asking for it. At first I did not have much time for it.

Either the journalistic content has improved in the last few months or I have grown to rely on it for the real news, so that I now look forward to it arriving as well as Socialist Review.

Chris McGowan, Wiltshire

Failing those in need

Life is still not very easy for the people of Rotherham who are waiting for council properties.

The arms length management company 2010 Rotherham Ltd, which took over housing in May last year doesn’t seem to care at all. It doesn’t care about what is happening to people or housing issues.

One old lady who is wheelchair bound has not been able to access her bathroom for nearly nine months.

2010 Rotherham Ltd says she will have to bid like any one else and this can take a further 18 month to two years for her to be rehoused.

Things are getting worse for people in social housing when they should be getting better.

I feel that we can see echoes of the 1930s and I fear for the people like this woman who are suffering.

We are fighting in Rotherham for what we feel is right for social housing and the people who will require social housing in the future.

David Newey, Rotherham

Unions and Lebanon

Both the TUC and the Unison unions have statements about the Middle East conflict.

The TUC statement does not criticise Tony Blair and the government as much as the Unison statement.

The Unison statement is a short page of writing to do with the ceasefire of Lebanon.

It also states that “both the Israeli and the Palestinian hostages, including elected parliamentarians and government ministers, should be unconditionally released”.

The Unison statement has a paragraph of criticism about Tony Blair and the government.

Personally I think the Unison statement is better politically, because it has stronger criticism about the government and Tony Blair.

Shereen Prasad, 10 years old

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Article information

Sat 5 Aug 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2012
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