Blame Israel for the threat of war with Iran

Posted on: April 15th, 2024 by TTE
Palestine Israel Zionism

Binyamin Netanyahu is to blame for the crisis between Israel and Iran

The deadly chess game between Iran’s Islamic Republican regime and Israel’s far right government still has to play out. Responsibility for this crisis lies squarely with Benjamin Netanyahu.

On 1 April Israeli forces bombed an annex of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, killing among others two senior officers in the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Attacking diplomatic installations is a clear breach of international law.

It also was an escalation of the so-called “shadow war” that has reigned between the two states ever since the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Paul Pillar was in charge of US intelligence in the Middle East from 2000 to 2005. He explains that “the attack was part of an effort to escalate Israel’s way out of” the failure of its genocidal war in Gaza. “Escalation has two elements,” he said. “The main one is to provoke Iran to hit back.

“This can enable Israel to present itself as defending rather than offending and to push debate away from the destruction it is wreaking on Gaza and toward the need to protect itself against foreign enemies.

“The other element is to increase the chance of the US getting directly involved in conflict with Iran.”

The Pentagon made known its “frustration” that it wasn’t given advance notice of the 1 April attack, which could provoke counterattacks on its bases in the region. According to the Washington Post newspaper, defence secretary Lloyd Austin “complained directly to his Israeli counterpart, defence minister Yoav Gallant”.

In the struggle for prestige between Israel and Iran, Iran had to retaliate. But it doesn’t want all-out war. This could reverse its recent reconciliation with the Gulf states.

Pillar points to “an asymmetrical pattern of Israel initiating most of the violence and Iran mostly responding”. Iran’s response came last Saturday night, when it launched over 300 missiles and drones directly at Israel, for the first time.

According to Israel, almost all were intercepted, with Western help. British foreign secretary David Cameron foolishly claimed Iran had suffered “a double defeat”.

As the security expert Emile Hokayem pointed out, “Israel owes this success to ample warning from Iran and to the help of the US, Britain, France, Jordan and other Arab states”. “The operation has exposed its security dependency on the very partners it has slighted in recent months,” he said.

I’m sure Iran expected its missiles and drones to be largely intercepted. “A regime insider” told the Financial Times newspaper, “This is meant to serve as a deterrent and a signal to the US and Israel that ‘enough is enough’.”

The bombardment was a show. In an all-out war, Iran would seek to overwhelm Israeli defences by launching far more missiles and drones. Military experts point out that the Iranians will have gained useful information for future attacks by observing the Israeli reaction this time.

Joe Biden for one is keen to declare victory and draw a line. After sending two missile defence warships to help support Israel, he advised Netanyahu following the attacks to “slow things down and think through” his response.

A “senior official” told the Washington Post, “Nobody wants to run up the escalation ladder here.” They “emphasised that the United States would not be part of any Israeli offensive attack against Iran”.

Biden’s priority is to confront China. Last week he proclaimed the US’s “ironclad” commitment not just to Israel, but to the Philippines. It has territorial disputes with China.

Meanwhile, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces says the eastern frontline in the war with Russia has “significantly worsened”. The US needs war with Iran like a hole in the head.

Netanyahu? Not so much. As Hokayem points out, for him, “This is a net win. The Iranian attack has galvanised Western support after weeks of mounting criticism of the brutal campaign in Gaza.

“The concern now is that Israel’s sense it has prevailed in this round may make it less rather than more risk averse. It is possible that Netanyahu will tell the US—if you don’t let us go after Iran, let us invade Rafah.”

So, unless the US starts finally to put serious pressure on Israel, expect another twist upwards in the spiral of violence.

What will come after our revolution?

Posted on: April 14th, 2024 by Sophie

A rally in St Petersburg in Russia in 1917 after the February revolution

We cannot tell those who will bring about revolutionary change what kind of society they will build.  But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to be said about the kind of society that could emerge from a revolution.

Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Vladimir Lenin looked at the experience of revolution to draw conclusions about what workers needed to create a new society.

Marx and Engels talked of a “workers’ state” or “the rule of the working class”. They mostly used these terms, and similar ones. They also used “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The phrase is much misunderstood. 

Importantly, the term was not conceived to oppose democracy but as a call to assume it. The working class can only rule through democracy organised from below.

Marx and Engels set the term against the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” over every aspect of life in capitalist society—the rule of capital. In place of capitalist dictatorship, workers must organise a dictatorship over capital. A number of revolutionaries in the 19th century and since saw revolution as a dedicated band of leaders that would seize power in the name of the people. 

They would exercise a revolutionary dictatorship and “educate” the people so they could learn to share power.

In contrast Marx and Engels were against this socialism from above. They saw the most complete democracy and self-government as the only way to achieve socialism.

As previous columns discussed, any workers’ state must take property from the capitalists and defend the revolution. It is the rule of the vast majority over the old capitalist dictators. Lenin sums it up as, “Democracy for the vast majority of people and suppression by force, i.e. exclusion from democracy, of the exploiters and oppressors of the people.” 

In all previous class societies, the minority exploited the majority and could only guarantee domination through the state. With the majority class in control, exploitation ends—along with coercion as a feature of society.

So the need for any form of state disappears. And “the dictatorship of the proletariat” starts to dissolve as society ceases to be a class society. Lenin wrote that as classes and exploitation were eradicated, the state would “wither away”. So long “as the state exists there is no freedom,” he wrote. “When there is freedom, there will be no state.”

This distinction can be seen as the difference between socialism and communism.

Marx noted, “What we have to deal with is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society.”

This new society would be “in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birth marks of the old society from whose womb it emerges”.

A socialist society would have one great advantage over capitalism. The relationship between individuals and what they produce would change. Individuals would collectively control the things they produce.

Working people would exercise control over all aspects of society. Marx then argued that as production developed in line with social and individual needs, human beings could begin to develop their humanity. Abundance would abolish competition between individuals and all that comes with it.

He talked about how in this communist society anyone can “become accomplished in any branch”. Society will regulate “the general production and thus make it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic”.

Most of us can probably think of better things to do. But nonetheless work itself ceases to be a chore from which we crave release. It becomes, as Marx put it, “life’s prime want” — a necessary but fulfilling relationship with each other  and the world around us. It is what Marx called “the end of pre-history” and the beginning of humanity’s real history.

This is the eighth part of a series of columns that discuss What We Stand For, the Socialist Workers Party statement of principles, printed every week in Socialist Worker (see page 12). For the full series go to tinyurl.com/WWSF2024

Special needs children are abandoned by the system 

Posted on: April 14th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Support for children with special educational needs and disabilities is crucial (Picture: WeBalkans EU)

Support for children with special educational needs and disabilities is crucial (Picture: WeBalkans EU)

 
 The current education system is utterly failing children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send). 
 
After years of austerity, the system is in crisis with local councils failing to deliver the education children with Send require.
 
The consequence for these children is that they are excluded from a real chance of getting an education.
 
Children who, for example, need a speech and language therapist and don’t have access to one inevitably receive a worse education than others.
 
It means many are repulsed from school and treated as second class. Budgets for Send facilities are underfunded and overstretched.
 
Families have to fight for every penny of support from the authorities for their children. 
 
If a needs assessment finds a child has special educational needs, the council is required by law to offer an education, health and care plan (EHCP) to the child. 
 
This could provide funding for a child to go to a specialist school or measures such as one-to-one support, in a mainstream school.
 
But Tory cuts to council budgets mean that children with Send can be waiting for more than two years to be issued with an EHCP. 
 
And even when an EHCP is issued, children are often unable to access the provision identified due to the funding crisis.
 
Kate, who is a parent of a child with Send, told Socialist Worker, “Schools have a lack of funding, of training, more children are in classes, fewer support assistants and the curriculum is not designed for children with Send.
 
There is no early intervention no matter the disability. That has a huge knock on. 
 
“They go to school and the parents are less prepared, the children have had no sort of intervention or someone working with them about coming into school.”
 
Kate added, “Zero tolerance behaviour policies mean children are isolated and excluded because they can’t behave in the way they are told.
 
“The Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service budget is decimated, so you can’t get mental health support for children. 
 
“Families are breaking down because there isn’t support for children.”
 
Kate argued that training is “a huge problem” as “training focuses on Ofsted and getting kids through SATs, not on emotional needs”.
 
Lucy, a parent of a child with Send and the teacher that coordinates Send support in the school where she works, said, “On paper we have inclusive laws around Send and EHCPs. 
 
“But because of the crisis in education—which affects all children and everyone who works in it—you can’t fulfil many EHCPs.
“I’m in an ongoing battle with my head teacher. 
 
“She doesn’t want me to apply for EHCPs for the children because it is too expensive for the school to implement them.”
 
Lucy added, “There aren’t enough special school places, so local authorities can end up paying private school rates for kids with Send, which can be up to £70,000 a year.
 
“If you put that money into building local special schools, they would save so much.
 
“It is short-termism. Everything is about getting money from the public purse into private pockets,” Lucy said.
 
“It’s a mess. It’s a total mismatch between the supposed provisions of the law and what reality is.”
 

Fines and upheld complaints—but no action   
Mainstream schools are desperately short of cash and two in three specialist schools are over capacity. 
 
The government’s solution is to devise programmes to halt the  “overspend” on Send.
 
When councils try to delay providing support to cut costs, parents are forced to take them to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for failing to deliver a suitable education for their child.
 
In 2023, there were a record number of complaints regarding Send provisions upheld—95 percent of tribunal complaints.
 
A spokesperson for campaign group Send Action said that ombudsman penalties “for failing to meet legal duties are tiny compared with meeting the cost of provision and this is unfortunately resulting in abuse of the current system by some local authorities”.
 
Children with Send who don’t have the correct support are left without a school placement, with an increasing number being forced to be home schooled for over a year.
 
So families are stuck with long waiting times for assessments, delays with issuing EHCPs and then EHCPs not fulfilled.
 
While funding is spent on expensive private sector placements, there is a serious shortage of educational psychologists to support and diagnose students with Send. 
 
The assessments they provide are used by councils when drawing up EHCPs. And Tory cuts are undermining inclusivity in mainstream schools.
 
An online poll of 8,000 members of the NEU education union two weeks ago showed one in three teachers say they have no behaviour support team for students with Send. 
 
And one in four have no educational psychologist or speech and language therapist to help them.
 
Councils should have the capacity to deliver appropriate provision for children with Send, ending the reliance on private provision. 
 
The Tories’ and Labour’s politics of austerity will do nothing towards this.
 
Yet the Tories try to deflect blame and criticise parents. But this is a crisis of the Tories’—and Labour councils’—making.
  • Parents were horrified recently after a school photography company offered to remove children who are in wheelchairs and others with additional needs from class photos. Schoolchildren at the rural Aboyne Primary School, just west of Aberdeen, were taken together. But the firm involved then gave an option to order the snaps without three children with disabilities or additional needs.

Parents are left to cope
Socialist Worker research into the complaints to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found that families are being left in huge distress.
 
In one case, a child with Send was in a mainstream school but stopped attending due to mental health difficulties and bullying incidents. 
 
The child was then educated at home until an educational psychologist provided a report recommending to put the child in a specialist school.
 
The council refused, citing inadequate resources. This led to the child missing nearly 18 months of suitable education.
 
The tribunal found the council failed to provide legally required alternative provisions and instructed the council to pay £4,500 to the parents.
 
In another case where a child had lost a year of education, the parent had not been able to work for that year, leading to financial hardship.
 
In the last financial year, there have been around 1,500 complaints to the ombudsman. 
 
The cases largely result in payouts of a couple of thousand pounds. But no money can make up for the lack of suitable education during a crucial time of a child’s development.
  • Inspectors recently found “widespread and systemic failings” in services for children with special needs in North Northamptonshire.

No Ceasefire No Vote conference debates what sort of left we need

Posted on: April 13th, 2024 by TTE
A panel of 5 at the no ceasefire no vote conference

Speakers at the No Ceasefire No Vote conference

People from across Britain gathered in Blackburn, Lancashire, on Saturday for the No Ceasefire No Vote (NCNV) conference. It was designed to build a stronger political challenge to the mainstream parties at the local and general elections over Gaza and other issues.

For much of the day, although there were some excellent contributions, the meeting was rather aimless with about 150 people present. But then George Galloway MP arrived and, because he was crystal-clear about his way forward, he shifted the atmosphere. He rallied much of the room behind him—with all the dangers that represents.

The conference was united by fury and disgust at the way the Tory and Labour parties have backed Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians.

Suleman Khonat, deputy leader of the Blackburn independent group of councillors, said, “It’s time to ditch Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems.”

There were repeated calls to keep building support for the Palestinians and to expose the main parties’ refusal to break from Israel and its Western backers. And there was widespread insistence that the campaigning movement has to be sustained and not put aside because of the elections.

Sabba Shah, a member of Friends of Al Aqsa, urged the movement to learn how to build new networks from the structures created during solidarity with Palestine. 

Activists from Leicester, Pendle, Wigan, Manchester and Merseyside spoke of their enthusiasm for launching an election challenge. 

Lotte Collett from the Independent Socialist Group in Haringey, north London, said that even if there is a ceasefire in Gaza there can be “no meek return to Labour.” She described how “our left bloc on the council fell victim to the strong arm, right wing Labour thugs run on behalf of Starmer”.

But there was also debate about the politics that must shape any pro-Palestine offensive at the polls.

Galloway said his Workers Party of Britain was “with the occupied against the occupier”. “We unequivocally support the right of Palestinian people to resist in whatever way they decide. That’s what solidarity means,” he said. 

He said a vote for any Labour candidate, was a “vote for genocide”. He added that when people say “some Labour candidates aren’t so bad, ask whether that car park for the mosque matters more than the dead children of Gaza”.

He added that he knew some people in the room didn’t much like him and disagreed with him about trans rights, trade unionism or net zero environment policies. But he said they should consider the value of the WPB logo marked people out from other independents. He said it meant they could be part of a challenge by “hundreds of candidates” at the general election.

Galloway didn’t mention the revelations about some of the candidates the WPB is putting forward. They include Billy Howarth, an “anti-grooming” campaigner who has been involved with numerous far right groups. 

The WPB’s readiness to ditch the oppressed in the search for votes offers no way forward and will divide the working class. It reinforces the right wing scapegoating that deflects from the crimes of the rich and imperialism.

It says, for example, that it “offers a migration policy that reflects the anxiety about an influx of migrants which appears to be out of control”. It adds, “People are not wrong to worry about undue burdens being placed on local services and about the cost of hosting escalating numbers of asylum seekers.”

But Galloway doesn’t pull everyone. Earlier in the day at the NCNV conference, there had been hints and references to a different approach to Galloway’s.

Palestinian Mohammed Ghalayani spoke of how the places he knew in Gaza were now all destroyed. He argued that freedom for the Palestinians was inseparable from a wider campaign for liberation. He was applauded when he called for support for “an end to the oppression of women and support for LGBT people too”. 

Michael Lavalette, who is set to run in Preston at the general election as an independent socialist, said, “Independent often means a Tory in disguise. But for us we mean independent of the parties and the establishment that has supported Israel. We are part and parcel of the movement on the streets for Palestine and we are accountable to this movement.”

He added that it was crucial to “put Palestine on the ballot paper” but that the approach needed to be “Palestine plus”—taking up issues such as inequality and anti-racism.

Alan Gibbons from the Liverpool Community Independent councillors said, “We have never seen mobilisations like the ones over Gaza. We’ve had 22 marches in Liverpool.” 


But he too wanted an electoral challenge to take up wider working class concerns such as cuts and austerity. He added that anyone encouraging “anti-migrant feeling is not my brother, is not my sister”. 

Socialist Worker editor Charlie Kimber said, “We’re united by Gaza—but we will be divided unless we also confront all forms of oppression.” He asked WPB supporters in the room to “get rid of Howarth” and to “push for politics that can genuinely fight for liberation in Palestine and more broadly”. 

Many of those in Blackburn felt torn between their wish to punish Labour and uncertainty about the WPB. Ayesha, a Palestine campaigner from Leicester, told Socialist Worker, “I can see the attraction of the Workers’ Party, but I also feel George Galloway won’t in the end set up a movement for everyone. I’d like Jeremy Corbyn to come forward and stand against Labour.”

It’s important to remember that the movement on the streets and in the workplaces is more important than any election challenge. And we need a break from Labourism and its obsession with councils and parliament, not just Starmer. 

NCNV has been a useful forum for debate and a focus for people breaking from Labour. If it is dominated by the politics of the WPB, that will be a disaster.

London Palestine protesters say movement has politicised them

Posted on: April 13th, 2024 by TTE
People hold a ceasefire now banner on the Palestine march in London

On the Palestine march in London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestine protesters again took over the streets of central London on Saturday—this time for a regional, city-wide demonstration.

Marchers were furious at the way the West continues to back Israel’s genocidal war. And many also expressed their loathing of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

But they were buoyed by yet another big turnout for the march from Russell Square. The protest end point, Parliament Square, was completely packed for a final rally.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign said that over 80,000 people had joined the march.

The demonstration was overwhelmingly young and militant. Some marchers said it was the angriest Palestine protest they’d been on this year, with loud chanting from beginning to end.

Protesters chanted, “Starmer and Sunak sitting in the tree, K I L L I N G.” And across Britain, there were many local Palestine actions and marches too, with some 500 people marching in Leeds.

Seasoned activists and new marchers in London told Socialist Worker the movement must now be ready to fight against Israel’s expansion of the war across the Middle East.

Ayesha, who has been on three demonstrations since January, worries about the “potential of the war to widen” into a fight against Iran. But, she says, “the very vocal support for Palestine from the movement has educated lots more British people”.

David, an administration worker from Edinburgh, took up the same theme. He said that despite Biden’s calls for a ceasefire, he is “still committed to having Israel as a docking station and launch pad for US imperialism”.

He slammed Labour’s complicity in Israel’s genocide, arguing that it’s because “Labour is a political party within a capitalist system”. The writing is on the wall. It’s not possible to describe Labour as a socialist party,” he said. 

Angray, a member of the UCU union, agrees. He said he “left the Labour party in October” over its support for Israel.

“I tore up my card and cancelled my subscription,” he said. “I can never see myself voting Labour again. I can’t tell the difference between Tory and Labour—they both support genocide and austerity.

“Starmer is trying to cultivate the Tory vote and he’s forgotten about working people. He’s offering them nothing.”

Atiyya, on her fourth demonstration this year, was one of many who said that Palestine had politicised them.

She attacked the US for its role in Israel’s war. “Joe Biden has made it clear that there is no ‘red line’ for Netenyahu. Even with aid workers killed there isn’t a stopping point,” she said. 

And Atiyya said that the struggle for Palestine had opened her eyes. “I’m more aware of lots of issues now having realised that everything is political,” she said.

Kitale said the war made her understand that those in charge always ignore ordinary people.

“That’s been a good wake-up call,” she said. “It’s prompted me to learn more, to read more and really educate myself about not only Palestine, but also about imperialism and colonialism.”

Several protesters said they had tried to talk directly to their local MPs and councillors but had got no response. “I emailed my MP about stopping the sales of arms to Israel,” Stephanie explained.

“I got this rubbish generic email back. It makes me think, what’s the point of having MPs that say they represent us when they don’t listen to what their constituents say?”

Frustration at the political system was shown also by interest and some support for new group Youth Demand. It emerged from the climate movement, but now also takes up the Palestine issue.

The group had recently daubed Whitehall’s Ministry of Defence building—which marchers passed by—in blood red paint.

Protester Georgia said that targeting politicians such as Keir Starmer, as Youth Demand did earlier this week, was right.

“I’m for going to MPs’ homes if the protest is peaceful,” she said. “These things get more media coverage than even our demos. They send a message that we know who’s responsible for the killings.”

And a member of Youth Demand told Socialist Worker that, although those at the top aren’t changing, “The people are changing”. They said mainstream “politics has failed us”, before adding, “Youth are demanding something new. We want real democracy through people’s assemblies.”

Many people shared the feeling that the system is working against ordinary people. Dominika, a student from the University of Arts London, said it’s vital to keep protesting. “It’s “people going out on the streets that pressures the government to shift its position,” she said. 

“We need to stop sending arms and funding to Israel.” She explained, “I’m on the streets partly because the Labour Party isn’t doing anything. They sit in parliament, and they don’t care.”

And, she added, regardless of what those at the top do, “we must continue doing what we have been doing since 7 October.

“Unless the genocide stops, we have to be out on the streets or nothing will change. Protest, protest, protest.”­­­


New direct action group Youth Demand speaks out

Posted on: April 12th, 2024 by Thomas Foster
Police arrest Youth Demand activist after the group sprayed Labour HQ with red paint, an activist explained to Socialist Worker in an interview

Police arrest Youth Demand activist after the group sprayed Labour HQ with red paint

“The real question for ordinary people now should not be whether we vote for Labour or Tories. It should be about whether we’ll have a revolution.” These are the words of Chiara, an activist in the group Youth Demand. She explained to Socialist Worker that the new group has two simple demands. 

The first is for the government to stop handing out oil and gas licences to the bosses, especially in the North Sea. The second is for a complete ban on all exports and imports of Israeli arms. On Tuesday last week, the group visited the home of Labour Party leader Keir Starmer. 

It laid out a line of shoes on his doorstep to represent the Palestinian families that are being wiped out by the Israeli state and held a banner that said, “Starmer, stop the killing”. Politicians and the mainstream media rushed to defend Starmer and condemn the group. Chiara hit back at the criticism and explained that those in power have pushed ordinary people to do things those at the top might deem “uncomfortable”. 

“We aren’t in normal circumstances. A genocide is going on. The media and politicians shake their fingers and say that we did something threatening and violent when we targeted an MP. But they don’t apply the same empathy when it comes to the two million people who are under siege in Gaza. We targeted Starmer because he has a job to be the opposition to our current government. Labour is are the government in waiting.” 

Chiara explained that Youth Demand was established to further unite the climate movement in the fight against all forms of oppression, imperialism, and war. 

“The idea took off quickly. We went from discussing it around the kitchen table to making a Google document, and then, within a few days, we started planning direct action. Most of us in the group started as being in the student branch of Just Stop Oil (JSO). So most of us have done a lot of civil disobedience before.”

Alongside Palestine Action, the group targeted the Ministry of Defence, coating its walls with red paint. Chiara added that, importantly, this action was accompanied by a hundred-strong rally of those supporting the direct action. “We want mass direct action,” she explained. “Brave people have to stand up and take part.” In March this year, JSO launched a new organisation, Umbrella, which it described as an “organisation of coordinated projects that are designed to bring about a revolution”.

“Umbrella has an explicit revolutionary aim. We want to change our current regime. That’s our longer-term project,” said Chiara. “We need to combine a street movement with People’s Assemblies to bring about real democracy. I think that means ordinary people sitting around and having meaningful discussions about how things are run. I believe that a revolution is inevitable one day,” she added. “It’s for us to try to shape what that revolution will look like.”

Youth Demand is right to target the institutions and politicians that are complicit in Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians and the destruction of our planet. Socialists should join them when they call protests and actions. But inevitably, like other direct action groups, it will face mounting repression from the state that is already seeking to crush it.

This means that Youth Demand and other groups cannot stand alone. Only by building a movement strong enough to smash the capitalist state can we halt both imperialist wars and climate catastrophe. The only way to do this is to build a climate and Palestine movement where workers, who have the power to shut down society, are central. The success of any revolution ultimately rests in their hands.

Famine is ‘already occurring’ in Gaza admits US official

Posted on: April 12th, 2024 by TTE
Joe Biden and Binyamin Netanyahu illustrating an article about famine in Gaza

Joe Biden is still supporting Binyamin Netanyahu as famine in Gaza sets in

The much-hyped US pressure on Israel has produced precisely zero change in Israel’s starvation regime in Gaza.

Even the Guardian newspaper had to report, “A promised surge in aid into Gaza that Benjamin Netanyahu promised Joe Biden a week ago has so far failed to materialise, aid workers say, as the US aid chief confirmed that famine is beginning to take hold in parts of the besieged coastal strip.” 

The increase in the number of trucks crossing into Gaza claimed by Israel conflicts with UN records.

The New York Times reported, “Facing international condemnation after an Israeli airstrike killed seven workers for an international aid group, Israel said it would reopen the Erez crossing between Israel and northern Gaza for aid delivery. 

“But satellite imagery taken on Tuesday shows that the road leading to Erez on the Gaza side remains blocked by rubble from a destroyed building, a crater and other damage.”

On Wednesday Samantha Power became the first US official to confirm publicly that famine had already got a grip in at least some parts of Gaza. She’s the head of the US humanitarian and development agency, the USAID. 

Power told a congressional committee that her officials had analysed an assessment by food insecurity experts in mid-March. It said that a famine could set in between later the same month and mid-May, and had found that judgment to be “credible”.

“So famine is already occurring there?” Democratic congressman, Joaquin Castro, asked her. “That is—yes,” she replied.

And the US has redoubled its support for Israel if there is an escalation to war with Iran after Israel murdered Iranian officials in Damascus, Syria, recently.

Biden said this week, “As I told prime minister Netanyahu, our commitment to Israel’s security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad, ironclad.

That wasn’t just a slip of the tongue. US defence secretary Lloyd Austin also told Israel’s war minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday of the “ironclad US support for Israel’s defence in the face of growing threats from Iran and its regional proxies”. 

It’s urgent to be on the streets for Palestine and against a spreading and even more terrible war.

  • London demonstration: Saturday 13 April, 12 noon, assemble Russell Square WC1B 5LF for a march to Parliament Square.
  • For details of mobilisations outside London go here or to tinyurl.com/demos1304
  • For Scottish events go here or to twitter.com/scottishpsc

Toll of Israeli assaults

On Friday the Gaza health ministry said Israeli attacks had killed at least 89 Palestinians and injured another 120 in the past 24 hours.

This means Israel has killed at least 33,634 Palestinians and injured 76,214 since 7 October.


Huge support to stop arms to Israel

NGO Action For Humanity projected slogans it projected onto Tower Bridge in London alongside the Save The Children charity last night.

The projection read, “Over 14,000 children killed in Gaza. What are you waiting for? Stop arming Israel. Ceasefire NOW.”

The charity commissioned polling from YouGov, which shows increasing support from the public for an end to exports of arms and parts to Israel. 

Results showed the percentage who think Britain should stop exporting arms or parts to Israel rose from 56 percent to 62 percent between 27 March and 7 April. Now only 16 percent back continuing the arms sales.

Port Talbot steel workers show the way with strike vote

Posted on: April 11th, 2024 by TTE
Tata Steel workers on the march in Port Talbot against Job cuts with Unite the union

Trade unionists on the march against Tata Steel job cuts in Port Talbot (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Around 1,500 steel workers in Port Talbot and Llanwern, South Wales, have voted for strikes over Tata bosses’ plan to close blast furnaces and destroy 2,800 jobs.

If they take action, it will be the first time in over 40 years that Port Talbot steel workers have gone on strike.

Workers in the Unite union backed action despite Tata threatening the workers with the loss of enhanced redundancy pay if they did.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “In the crucial weeks to come, Tata’s workers and Unite will put up picket lines to prevent the company from taking this disastrous path.”  

The union promised that strike dates “scheduled to cause maximum impact will be announced soon”.

It is important to start the action as soon as possible. Recently Tata announced the immediate closure of its coke ovens. These ovens create the fuel that ultimately powers the blast furnaces.

As Unite announced the strike vote, Community, the biggest steel union at last said it would begin its own ballot. It has been hesitating to do this for weeks. It may now fear it will lose members to Unite unless it does so.

The Community vote goes on until mid-May. If that vote is for action, then the whole workforce could stop. But in any case, if Unite calls action no workers should cross the picket line.

It will take real action to win. Bosses have presided over a catastrophic fall in steel jobs, and union leaders have failed to challenge them effectively. 

In the early 1970s, the industry employed around 320,000 people, excluding those employed in steel processing and in supply chains. By 1978 this figure had fallen to 271,000, and by 1991 it had plummeted to just 44,000. 

In 2020, the steel industry employed a workforce that was less than 10 percent of the size of its 1971 workforce.

Labour nationalised steel in 1951, Winston Churchill’s Tories reversed that in 1953, Harold Wilson’s Labour nationalised it again in 1967 and Margaret Thatcher privatised it again in 1988.

But the key issue was less the formal ownership but the fighting capacity of workers. The 13-week national strike over pay in 1980 was betrayed by union leaders and the wider union movement. Even before privatisation, the workforce fell from 142,000 in 1980 to 52,000 in 1988.

As a stream of private firms grabbed sections of the steel industry and tried to make quick profits, the unions responded with slogans about “national security” and demands for more state cash to keep the corporations running the industry on board. 

Workers have to push for a complete break from that approach.