US protects Israel and blocks UN ceasefire call

Posted on: December 8th, 2023 by Charlie
UN security council. US man with raised arm vetoes Gaza ceasefire call

The US administered a veto vote on Friday to keep the blood flowing in Gaza

The US has blocked a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution on Friday calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza”.

Britain abstained, an act almost as vicious as the US, but with a dash of added camouflage and cowardice. Britain and the US are urging on the genocidal logic of the Israelis. Their sighs about the number of civilian deaths are hypocritical and empty.

The Security Council is the UN’s “enforcer” body. It has five permanent members—China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States—and ten non-permanent members elected by all the other UN countries.

For a motion to pass on the Security Council, it must win nine Yes votes—and attract no veto from any of the permanent five. The ceasefire motion won 13 votes, but the US veto meant it fell.

Introducing the motion, Mohamed Issa Abushahab, from the United Arab Emirates said that for many Gazans, “their entire world is systematically demolished before their eyes”.

Riyad Mansour, from the “ Observer State” of Palestine to the UN, said the Israeli bombardment “placed every possible impediment on humanitarian aid and access.”

“And we are all supposed to pretend that this aggression is not aimed at the destruction of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip when it has besieged and bombed our people and deprived them of all requirements of life?”, he said.

“I keep reading in the media that Israel has no clear war objectives, are we supposed to pretend that we don’t know the objective is the ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip?” he continued.

He told the assembled state representatives, “When you refuse to call for a ceasefire, you are refusing to call for the only thing that can put an end to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This is how Israel is conducting the war, through atrocities.”

In his speech to the Security Council, the US ambassador to the UN, Robert Woods, described Israelis as “Our people”.  He repeated that Israel has a right to defend itself and said the UN Security Council has failed to condemn Hamas’ 7 October attack on the Israeli state.

Britain’s foreign secretary David Cameron had always said Britain would not support a ceasefire. “If you stop now with Hamas in charge of even part of Gaza, there can never be a two-state solution,” he said—as if such a solution was on the table.

The UN secretary general Antonio Guterres invoked the rarely-used Article 99 of the UN charter to bring the motion for an immediate ceasefire to the Security Council. 

He said, “We are at breaking point” and “There is a high risk of the total collapse of the humanitarian support system in Gaza, which would have devastating consequences.”

But Guterres’s pleas ultimately meant nothing, along with all the votes from other countries for a ceasefire. 

This episode should not be used to prettify the role of the UN. It would have been a blow to Israel if the vote had gone through because it would have signified that the US had abandoned its watchdog at least temporarily. But ti would not in itself have ended the bombing.

The UN is a place of deals, cover-ups, bribery and bullying by imperialists of all stripes.

For the US it was useful for cover when it invaded Iraq in 1991. But it was then cast aside and ignored when it refused to back the US invasion in 2003.

Ultimately US imperialism still calls the shots.  The fight for freedom takes place on the streets, not in the diplomatic halls.

  • Join the  march for Palestinian freedom, a full ceasefire and to stop the war on Gaza, Sat 9 Dec, 12 noon, Bank, London EC3V 3LA Details and route here
  • Edinburgh, Palestine Day of Action, Sat 9 Dec, 12 noon Barclays protest, 12 noon Scottish Parliament, 1pm Waverley Bridge. Details here

Israelis murder Refaat Alareer, the ‘voice of Gaza’

The Israeli state murdered Palestinian writer, activist and academic Refaat Alareer along with several members of his family on Thursday.

Ramy Abdu, the founder of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, said that he believed that Israeli soldiers “targeted, went after and killed the voice of Gaza, one of its best academics, a human, my dear and precious friend.” 

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Israeli state indeed targeted Refaat . He was a threat to them. 

His commitment to exposing the brutal reality of life under occupation and battling the endless dehumanisation of Palestinians by the Zionists and the West was a rallying call to many. 

Refaat Alareer

Refaat Alareer

As a professor of English Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, Refaat wrote extensively and encouraged others to write about life in Gaza. 

He was the editor of Gaza Writes Back, a compilation of stories written by 15 young people who lived in Gaza. Refaat also founded the We Are Not Numbers organisation, which provided writing workshops for young Palestinians. 

In the last two months many more people were introduced to Refaat through his Twitter account, where he routinely blasted the Zionists and imperialist leaders in the West. 

He announced his steadfast support for the Palestinian resistance on his account and every other platform. And his last Twitter post was, “The Democratic Party and Biden are responsible for the Gaza genocide perpetrated by Israel.”

When he was invited onto the BBC to speak about Hamas’ 7 October attack on Israel, he described the assault as “legitimate and moral.” 

The BBC felt it had to apologise for his comments and promised Refaat would never be invited on their channel to speak again. 

In October, he spoke via video link to a packed room at a Socialist Workers Party meeting on Palestine (go to 19 minutes, 45 seconds here). At this meeting, he applauded the millions on the streets for Palestine in London, across Britain, Europe, and the Arab world.

He added that it meant that “More people are learning about Palestine, increasing their activism around Palestine. This must continue and grow. I urge you to reject the Israeli lies.

“Israel lies about everything. In Gaza, we say that if Israel says one plus one is two, then check your maths.

“And we have to punish the politicians who go along with the lies. Punish Keir Starmer and David Lammy for their part in the inhumanity of cutting off food and water and fuel to the people of Gaza.”

In the piece entitled, Gaza Asks: When Shall this Pass? Refaat wrote in 2022, “It shall pass, I keep hoping. It shall pass, I keep saying. Sometimes, I mean it. Sometimes I don’t. And as Gaza keeps gasping for life, we struggle for it to pass, we have no choice but to fight back and to tell her stories. For Palestine.”

A foul Israeli crime in Beit Lahia

Israeli forces rounded up, stripped naked and marched through the streets around 100 Palestinians from the town of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza in a brutal and humiliating act of cruelty by the Israeli army. 

The images of the attack, which emerged on social media and messaging app Telegram on Thursday, show lines of Palestinians that the Israeli army forced to kneel on the ground in a rocky canyon.  

A senior Hamas official accused Israeli forces of carrying out a “heinous crime against innocent civilians”.

The pictures will likely remind anyone of the torture and brutalisation of Iraqis by Western troops during the invasion of Iraq, or the torment of detainees by the US at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Bagram airbase  and at Guantanamo Bay. 

Zahrat lives near Nablus in the West Bank. She was filled with horror seeing the shocking images. 

“The occupation forces are now gathering the civilian population from their homes, leaving them without clothes,” she told Socialist Worker. 

“The whole world watches silently. What did these innocent civilians do? We are being subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing. Please have mercy, world spectator. You can do a lot for us.” 

The image was shared by Israeli war correspondent Itay Blumental, who described those in the picture as “Terrorists who handed themselves over to Israeli soldiers.” 

But the Israeli army was later forced to admit that those they kidnapped were civilians.  

The image was then shared by Israeli soldiers and others on messaging app Telegram and on social media as a way to further humiliate the Palestinians. 

The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Arieh King captioned a picture of the Palestinians rounded up by the Israeli army as “Hundreds of Muslim Nazis, what do you think their sentence should be?” 

One of the Palestinians who was kidnapped told reporters, “The occupation soldiers stripped arrested us and put us in trucks. Then they ordered some of us to return home and kept others in detention.

“We returned to find that most of the homes we left from had been burned.”

The Israel state continued its bloody assault on Gaza on Friday. The number of Palestinians murdered by Israel in Gaza has now officially reached almost 17,500 since 7 October. 

Ibtisam, who lives in Deir al Bala in central Gaza told Socialist Worker on Friday, “Yesterday a whole building full of ten families was destroyed by rockets in Jabalia. With these rockets the Israeli forces erased people’s lives and memories.

“Two months have passed and the only food that people have to eat is canned food. Flour is about to run out. Shelters are excessively crowded and aid does not meet people’s needs. 

“All people are suffering from fatigue, panic and a deep depression. The death, losses and damages are beyond description so everyone feels grief.” 

How the state uses ­inquiries to deflect anger

Posted on: December 8th, 2023 by Yuri
Balck and white picture of Protesters against police racism in the Stephen Lawrence case

Protesting against police racism in the Stephen Lawrence case

“I had been the chancellor, I had been the foreign secretary, I had been the prime minister. Therefore I must have known what was going on, but I didn’t.”

That was how then prime minister John Major explained to a 1995 inquiry that his government had encouraged the flogging of weapons to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq—and then lied about it.

The institutions of the state are a facade behind which rulers pursue their objectives. For all the hokum about the mother of parliaments and British justice, poisonous unofficial networks are the rule.

But a crisis can bring the state’s contradictions to the fore. An injustice can be so heinous that it cannot simply be covered up. Victims or campaigners can refuse to let an issue go away. When such a crisis hits, institutions can appear to embrace reforms while staying basically unchanged. They are capable of casting aside previously important individuals for the sake of stability.

And to make this process as controlled as possible there are public inquiries. These bring delay and detail when those at the top are in trouble. There are currently 16 full public inquiries ongoing.

That those suffering injustices must force the state to call an inquiry, can make their existence feel like a victory.  But it is more complicated. Only government ministers can establish them. Their official purpose is “preventing recurrence”. Usually, an esteemed judge or a lord—often both—gets a narrow set of things they can look into.

So all the honourable men and women of the Covid inquiry share a world view, share a class and a shared interest in keeping the system going. And the terms of reference are normally restrictive.

Take Lord Leveson’s phone hacking inquiry. He didn’t look at phone hacking, never mind police or political corruption, but “press ethics”. There is a wealth of detail, some of it damaging. But the purpose is to keep the issue from fundamentally harming the institutions they claim to investigate.

It is one reason they take so long—in one case 13 years. So in 2015 the Home Office said Judge Pitchford would head an inquiry into undercover cops. He died before he had a chance to cover anything up and was replaced by Sir John Mitting who brought new vigour to the task.

The first interim report took eight years and cost £636,000 per page. The inquiry sat for 64 days in that time. Some 35 of them were filled by lawyers making statements and asking Mitting to hide cops’ names. A “closed” version with the stuff we are not allowed to see was sent to the Home Secretary. That was stage one of six. It is naive to think public inquiries bring justice.

But it would be foolish to think they do nothing and are of no interest. The Macpherson inquiry into “events surrounding the death of Stephen Lawrence” saw the significant declaration that the police are “institutionally racist”. That still hangs over the cops, condemning them to this day.

The finding reflected the scale of support for the Lawrence family and the strength of anti‑racist campaigning. Justice was not on the inquiry’s agenda nor did it produce it, but it was a moment that shifted the terrain of the debate about racism.

An inquiry covered up the murder by British soldiers of 14 civilians on a civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1972. But 38 years later another inquiry saw some pain lift as the British state was forced to admit that its soldiers shot and killed unarmed civilians.

One big lie, at least, had finally been admitted after years of campaigning. That mattered. Even if the actual report let many who should be blamed off the hook.

What scandals can do is puncture the illusion that the state rules in everyone’s interest. Public inquiries are meant to perpetuate that illusion—whether we let them is down to us.

Workers and students walk out and protest as Israel massacres Palestinians

Posted on: December 7th, 2023 by JC
School kids and university students on the London school strike for Palestine outside Downing street

University and school students protest outside Downing Street

Workers and students took part in protests, walkouts and other actions in solidarity with Palestine on Thursday. 

It was the third workplace day of action called by Stop The War (STW) and came ahead of the national demonstration in London on Saturday. 

Hundreds of workers blocked the road leading to the BAE Systems arms factory in Lancashire, one of four actions called by the Workers For A Free Palestine group. They chanted, “The UK is complicit” and “Stop arming Israel.” 

Another 600 blockaded Eaton Mission Systems in Wimborne, Dorset, and over 100 blocked the entrance to the BAE Systems shipyard in Govan in Glasgow. 

Workers picketed US multinational arms supplier Teledyne in Shipley, Bradford, West Yorkshire. 

Striking workers at Royal London Hospital, who are members of the Unite union, used their picket lines to show solidarity with Palestine. They held up Palestine flags and chanted, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” 

Around 50 students protested at Goldsmiths University in south London. They marched around campus—then took a bus together to join a protest of up to 1,000 school and university students at Downing Street. 

Students marched from the University of the Arts and King’s College London, and school students attended with their parents. UCU university and college union members brought their banners along to the demonstration. 

Jewish anti-Zionist socialist Sophia Beach told the crowd, “There is nothing that the state of Israel does, that is in my name as a British Jew.

“Universities have tried to shut down our meetings. They try to silence us. They try to say there are two sides to this, and we need to represent them. We say there are two sides to this—the side of the oppressed and the oppressor.” 

Students at the University of Manchester (UoM) dropped a banner in the university’s engineering building that read, “UoM supports Israeli genocide.” Student Nafael told Socialist Worker, “We were trying to get people to join the school strike today at 12 in town. 

“We got our message across. Manchester, like many universities, is complicit in Israel’s genocidal policies, especially through the National Graphene Institute which aids in the construction of military aircraft.”

In Bristol, university students joined with school students who had walked out of their classrooms for a protest on College Green. Students also organised a protest at Swansea University. And students and workers at Oxford Brookes called for Israel to stop bombing Gaza— and an end to ethnic cleansing in Palestine. 

Unite union members met in Brighton City centre to demand a ceasefire. And university workers took part in a walkout and protested outside Brighton University’s School of Humanities and Social Science. 

Workers at New College in Poplar, east London, participated in lunchtime protests. At nearby Hackney College workers pushed for people to attend the national demonstration in London on Saturday. 

UCU members and students staged a walkout outside the David Hockney Building of Bradford College at lunchtime. And workers at the Civic Officers in Portsmouth held up signs that read, “Stand with Gaza.” 

Meanwhile, anti-war activists were set to protest against Labour leader Keir Starmer in Glasgow in the evening. 

Pressure from below has forced some union leaders to say they back protests. Unison this week said it “continues to encourage branches and members organising around Palestine in their workplaces and encourages them to mobilise for both national and local protests.” 

But in reality, there is very little backing, and sometimes direct obstruction. The union leaders must actively push for Palestine protests and back their members all the way when they come under attack from management or others who oppose protests.  

  • Join the trade union bloc on the national demonstration this Saturday. Meeting from 11.30am, corner of Queen Victoria Street and Bucklesbury (near Bank Station) 

Exclusive: Tories could deploy British Army to guard Bibby Stockholm refugee prison barge

Posted on: December 7th, 2023 by TTE
Anti-racist campaigners outside the Bibby Stockholm prison barge in Portland Harbour, Dorset

Anti-racist campaigners outside the Bibby Stockholm prison barge in Portland Harbour, Dorset

The government could deploy soldiers to guard the Bibby Stockholm refugee prison barge in Portland, Dorset.

On Friday at 8am, the army intends to send troops into the area from a company in the 3 Rifles infantry battalion. This unit is currently one of the “UK Standby Battalions” (UKSBs). This is the force the state uses against strikes and to repress protests.

The military defines the UKSBs as “the British Army’s force of choice for operations in support of civil authorities” “Since the UKSBs were established in 2011, UKSBs have completed diverse resilience roles, including industrial action mitigation,” it says. 

“In addition, the UKSBs are assigned to support the police with specific security operations in the UK.”

The move is a combination of another vicious attack against refugees and an attempt to show that the government is “in charge of immigration”.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson told Socialist Worker that it was true 3 Rifles would be sent to Dorset on Friday and be “in the area” near the barge. But they added this was for a “standard military task”. 

The move comes after the Tories bitterly turned on each other about how best to be racist. Robert Jenrick quit as immigration minister on Wednesday as Rishi Sunak’s attempt to ram through the Rwanda deportation policy unleashed a backlash from within his own party.

Sunak issued a “unite or die” plea to Tory MPs along with a new bill that deems Rwanda to be a “safe” country in law. He claimed this will mean that refugees arriving in Britain, whatever they are fleeing, will not be able to make any legal claims before they are sent to central Africa.

The bill orders the courts to ignore the Human Rights Act and international law, including the United Nations Refugee Convention, when considering whether Rwanda is safe for asylum seekers.

At a press conference on Thursday, Sunak underlined how nasty his plan is. “Let me just go through the ways individual illegal migrants try and stay,” he said “Claiming asylum—that’s now blocked. The idea that Rwanda isn’t safe—blocked. The risk of being sent to some other country—blocked.

“And spurious Human Rights claims—you’d better believe we’ve blocked those too. I am telling you now, we have set the bar so high that it will be vanishingly rare for anyone to meet it.”

But Jenrick said the plan was not harsh enough and there might still be a window for refugees to raise objections to their expulsion.

In his resignation letter, he said he did not want to be “another politician who makes promises on immigration to the British public but does not keep them”. Jenrick has long been one of Sunak’s closest supporters.

Recently sacked home secretary Suella Braverman also wanted even more brutal laws—in order to win votes.

She said the Tories are heading for “electoral oblivion”. And then on Thursday, she told the BBC, “We need to stop the boats. At the moment we are in a very perilous situation. The facts don’t lie. We need to deliver on that pledge. Looking at the reality of the challenges involved in detaining people and removing people to Rwanda the reality is that it won’t work. It will not stop the boats.”

One former Tory minister said some MPs were submitting letters of no confidence in Sunak. Sunak hoped the anti-refugee assault, coming after an attack on “legal migrants” would boost his position. Instead it has weakened him further.

Sunak has announced that the plan will be in parliament on Tuesday next week. He said the difference between him and his Tory critics is only “an inch”. But that inch of difference is what ensures the Rwandan government will back the scheme, he said. 

The troop deployment to Dorset is Sunak “being tough”. Conditions are already appalling on the barge.

This week one of the 50 asylum seekers who have spent the past three months living on the barge said, “You can’t understand my state, nothing can calm me down.” 

In texts shown to POLITICO website by the Portland Global Friendship Group, which works to support those on board, the men describe daily life. The man quoted above says the vessel— a strictly-controlled area which residents cannot enter or leave without passing through airport-style security—is a “prison”. He likens himself to a “wingless bird” in a “cage.”

All the Tories are ramping up racism in a grubby search for votes. And Labour offers no real opposition, Instead, it says that the Tories are inefficient in repelling refugees and migrants. Anti-racists need to mobilise against all of this scapegoating.

  • Join the protest “Refugees welcome, safe passage now” at the Home Office, Marsham Street, London, Monday 18 December, 5.30pm, supported by Stand Up To Racism, supported by PCS, NEU, NASUWT, TSSA unions,  XR London, Peace & Justice Project, Stop the War, DPAC, Homes4All, Stand Up To Racism and more.

Get behind junior doctors after they call longest national strike in NHS history

Posted on: December 6th, 2023 by JC
Striking NHS doctors marching with orange BMA union placards

Striking junior doctors on the march around the Royal London Hospital in east London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Junior doctors are set to return to picket lines in England this month for the longest ever national strike in the history of the NHS.  

The move comes after the Tory government first refused to talk to the union, then agreed to talks but made no significant improvement to its original offer. During that time consultant doctors forced the government into a pay retreat—though there are good reasons to reject even that deal and fight for more.  

The BMA union says junior doctors’ strikes will take place from 7am on 20 December to 7am on 23 December. They then plan to walk out again for six days, from 7am on 3 January until 7am on 9 January. 

That will have a huge impact on planned treatment, outpatient clinics and the standard of care on hospital wards.  

The strike is bound to add to the more than seven million-strong waiting list for treatment. This will heap pressure on the Tories in the run up to a coming election. 

The BMA is right to call more, hard-hitting action. They’re fighting over pay—and to defend the NHS. But its significance is even wider than that. 

It shows that workers don’t have to accept bad deals from the Tories and that it’s possible to fight on with escalating action. 

Starting junior doctors earn an hourly rate of just £14.09 an hour, and often carry over £100,000 in student debt after their years of training. The London Living Wage, which acts as a minimum threshold, is already £13.15. 

Low pay is driving doctors out of the NHS and leading to a massive shortage of qualified staff. With the future of the NHS at stake, health unions must force the government to act. 

That’s why the BMA is demanding full pay restoration after more than a decade of cuts slashed salaries by around a third.  

But the government has responded by imposing an average rise of just 8.8 percent. It has since increased its offer by 3 percent, spread unevenly across different grades.  

That would mean many doctors would still get a real-terms pay cut this year – and would do nothing to put right the years of pay erosion.  

Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trevedi from the BMA’s Junior Doctors’ Committee are angry. “It is clear the government is still not prepared to address the real terms pay cut doctors have experienced since 2008,” they said in a statement. 

They added, “Without enough progress by the deadline, we have no choice but to take action that demonstrates doctors are as determined as ever in reversing their pay cuts. 

“A year after our dispute started, we are still too far from turning the tide on plummeting pay, morale, and retention of doctors.” 

And fury at new Tory health secretary Vicky Atkins is now threatening to unravel the deal she thought she had made with consultants, and which is set to be voted on. 

Dr Clive Peedell took to Twitter/X, writing, “I was prepared to accept the new consultant pay deal, even though as a year 19 consultant, I’m one of those who benefits the least. However, unless the government offers junior doctors a better deal, I’ll vote against.” 

He was backed by Dr Ajay M Verma, who wrote, “Difficult to contemplate an offer from the government when our junior doctor colleagues are still at loggerheads with the government. I fully support colleagues @BMA_JuniorDocs in resuming industrial action”. 

It is vital that junior doctors feel the warm embrace of solidarity when they walk out on 20 December.  

Health workers should now start planning solidarity pickets and arranging for local trade unionists to turn up bearing gifts. That will help up the pressure on Atkins and the Tories to improve their offer. But it will also be an encouragement to all health workers suffering low pay to prepare for new rounds of action. 

The new year must be greeted with a fresh wave of health strikes, coordinated to hit the Tories hard. 

Israeli troops and settlers step up assaults in the West Bank

Posted on: December 6th, 2023 by Charlie
West Bank: Men in T-shirts and shorts but with guns

West Bank settlers are armed and dangerous

Palestinians living in the West Bank are living in constant fear of attacks from both Israeli soldiers and settlers. 

Zahrat lives near Nablus in the West Bank. She told Socialist Worker that she and her family recently witnessed a horrific attack from the Israeli army. 

“We are suffering from siege and attack by the army and settlers,” she said.

“On Saturday the occupation army forces came in the street in front of my house where my son, who is six years old, was with his father planting crops.

“Other children were playing near the house.

“The occupation forces began shooting randomly at people, wounding a seven-year-old child and three others. They are in the hospital in serious condition.

“What is the reason for this attack and shooting of children? Is this a children’s war? I fear for my young son and daughter.

“We are scared for our children when they go to school. We live in fear.

“Also at night, settlers attack, burn cars, vandalise, and shoot. We are living in a state of terror and starvation.”

Israeli settlers murdered a Palestinian man by shooting him in the chest in Qarawat Bani Hassan in the north of the West Bank last week. 

In Wajih Al-Qat, a group of 15 settlers set fire to a Palestinian’s car and smashed the windows of their homes with rocks.

The threat of constant violence from settlers has led more than 1,000 Palestinians to flee their homes. 

The village of Zanuta in the Hebron hills now stands empty.

A former resident of the village, Abdul Hadi Al-Til, said that settlers had pointed guns at their heads and told them, “Either you move from here, or you will die.”

After being expelled from her home in Zanuta, Issa

Ahmad Baghdad said that what is happening is “a new Nakba”. That’s a reference to the mass ethnic cleansing and murder of Palestinians by Zionists in 1948.

When villagers tried to return, Israeli soldiers told them that they couldn’t build any new structures. They also said that settlers would likely attack them again. 

It’s not hard to see where the settlers have the confidence to murder, intimidate and drive Palestinians from their land. 

Far right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir began handing out rifles to settlers last month. 

And Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich further fanned the flames when he said that “there are two million Nazis” in the West Bank. 

While the Israeli state bombs Gaza, it is using another tactic in the West Bank.

It wants to build up the confidence of the settler movement to work with Israeli state forces to push the Palestinians from their homes. 

Zionist troops take more hostages 

The Israeli state has been regularly kidnapping Palestinians across the West Bank—including children. 

Police snatched a teenager from his home In the village of Umm Al Khair last Saturday. 

Israeli forces blindfolded him, tied his hands behind his back, slung him into the back of a truck and drove him away.

His family had no idea where the police had taken him. 

The Villages Group, which monitors and assists those living under occupation in the West Bank, reported that the young man the police seized endured a night of horror at the hands of the Israeli police. 

“His mother and sisters told us that he was wounded all over, beaten up all night, his knees were stepped on, he could not walk.

“He was not given anything to drink or eat while being kidnapped.

“He is such a delicate and sensitive child his mother told us. How would he recover?” 

“When he called his family to come pick him up, he could not tell them where he was. He was blindfolded from the moment he was kidnapped until his captors threw him out somewhere. He did not know where he was taken, probably to a nearby army base.

“Now we understood how come we couldn’t locate him —it was no official arrest, just a random harassment by soldiers on the ground.”

This is just one story of kidnapping, torture and imprisonment by the Israeli state in the West Bank.

Israel has arrested almost 3,500 Palestinians in the West Bank since 7 October. The number of arrests increased through last week and at the beginning of this one.

The Israelis were “compensating” for the prisoners that the Palestinian resistance forced them to release in exchange for Israeli detainees. And they were filling up the jails in case they need future exchanges. 

Last month troops murdered six Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. Soldiers tortured to death prisoners Omar Daraghmeh, Arafat Hamdan, Abdel Rahman Marei, Thaer Abu Asab, Majed Zaqoul, and another prisoner whose name hasn’t been released. 

The Palestinian Commission for Detainees and ex-Detainees Affairs said that Palestinian prisoners are beaten daily with batons and rifles by guards.

Solidarity can make gains for Palestinians

Posted on: December 5th, 2023 by JC
Trade unions for Palestine on  solidarity demo for Palestine

Big trade union block on the Palestine solidarity protest on 11 November in London  (Picture: Jeandre Coetser)

Two months since Israel’s assault on Gaza began, the movement of solidarity with the Palestinians has won real gains.

Its size and militancy and defiance were crucial in removing Suella Braverman as home secretary. It has broken up the Labour Party like no other question for two decades.

It is not time to “move on”, to slacken then pace, to blunt the militancy—or to shut down for Christmas.

The Israelis are carrying through the logic of genocide, in full view. Since the end of the brief truce they have stepped up the bombing and ethnic cleansing.

It is the time to keep fighting and build a movement that can increase the pressure on the murderers in Tel Aviv, London and Washington.

London remains the global centre of Palestine protests in the world.

And no other country in the West got anywhere close to putting 800,000 people on the streets. Protests might be smaller now, but there are still massive numbers on the streets compared to “normal” times.

The next step has to be extending a sense of revolt to every layer of society. 

Every workplace, school and university should be turned into hubs of resistance that can put pressure on the government to stop arming Israel and stop backing the slaughter in Gaza. 

Workers must be central in this because only they have the power to shut down production and the bosses’ ability to make profit. But mass marches, occupations and protests are central now.

Disrupting our rulers’ system is what matters most because Israel would not be able to continue its assault on the Palestinians without the backing of its sponsors and allies in the West, particularly Britain and the US. 

The pro-Israel Jewish News Syndicate last week quoted retired Israeli general Yitzhak Brick bluntly pointing out the critical importance of US armaments. 

“All of our missiles, the ammunition, the precision-guided bombs, all the aeroplanes and bombs, it’s all from the US,” he said. 

“The minute they turn off the tap, you can’t keep fighting. You have no capability. Everyone understands that we can’t fight this war without the US. Period.”

The Palestinian resistance is crucial, and so are revolts in the Arab regimes. But a movement that puts massive pressure on leaders in the West can play a real role. 

We need to keep up the organisation, agitation and education around Palestine and link this issue of imperialism to all the other class issues. 

It’s good to see climate campaigners marching with the Palestine protests this weekend. 

Together we can break our rulers.

Tories need racism

Posted on: December 5th, 2023 by JC
Protesters against Tories racist Rwanda deportation plans with placards including "All refugees welcome"

Protesting against the Rwanda deportation plans outside the Home Office last June (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The Tories’ new attacks on migrants, revealed on Monday, are about racism and trying to win the next election through racism.

Home secretary James Cleverly said the scheme will cut migration by 300,000. It will be done by raising the salary threshold for a visa and stopping care home workers from bringing in dependants.

Sections of bosses are outraged. They think the government hasn’t a clue about how the economy works, and the flows of labour companies need. But this isn’t some careful piece of planning. It’s a further attempt to blame migrants for the problems in society and to say that only the Tories will be brutal enough to act against them.

That’s why Cleverly jetted off to Rwanda the day after his announcement of new regulations to see if he could bribe the Rwandan government into looking more liberal.  Then Britain can deport refugees to Africa.

The Tories are in such trouble that several analysts are saying they face not just a wipeout like John Major in 1997, but one similar to the Canadian conservatives in 1993. They went from being the government party to winning just two seats.

The Tories’ answer is to ramp up racism.

And Labour? In all of shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper’s 870-word speech there was no condemnation of the plans. Instead the theme was that the Tories had only gone halfway down the road that Labour wanted.

Anti-racists should beware, both of the Tory strategy and of Labour’s failures.