Environmental Warfare in Gaza by Shourideh C Molavi review: How Zionism causes climate catastrophe in Palestine

Posted on: June 13th, 2024 by TTE
Environmental Warfare in Gaza by Shourideh C Molavi

Environmental Warfare in Gaza by Shourideh C Molavi

Settler colonialism and environmental destruction interact in devastating ways in Palestine.

The extraction of oil and gas in the Middle East is a major source of the hydrocarbons, which are causing climate change. And the water-stressed region is in the front-line of the impact of that change.

Until relatively recently, there hasn’t been much written about the environmental impact of Zionist military occupation and settler colonialism, even by those who support the Palestinian cause.

In this important new book, Shourideh Molavi has amassed a wealth of research to address this neglected but vital issue. As she points out, “The Nakba has also a lesser-known environmental dimension.”

The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians—known as the Nakba, which began in 1948—is “a process of colonially imposed climate change”. It saw “the complete transformation of the environment, the weather, the soil, the loss of the indigenous climate, the vegetation, the skies”.

This book exposes the Zionist myth that Israeli settlers made “let the desert bloom”. It documents the wholesale destruction of Palestinian agriculture, from the once lush citrus groves of towns such as Jaffa to the now desert-like Gaza perimeter.

One of the objectives of this type of settler colonialism is to actively deny and destroy what existed before.

A recurring theme of the book is the engineered water scarcity created by Zionist occupation. It includes damming groundwater for the benefit of the Israeli settlements surrounding Gaza.

Molavi points how Zionism has tried to “greenwash” the occupation—with NGOs claiming it’s helped the environment—to erase the memory of Arab villages and agriculture.

One NGO, the Jewish National Fund, planned and financed many pine plantations, but this meant the uprooting of Palestinian olive groves. This process explains why the pine has become a hated symbol of Zionist occupation and why many Palestinians counter it by identifying with the olive tree.

The book’s focus is the situation in Gaza, which was grim even before the recent Israeli onslaught.

Gaza is a creation of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Molavi gives a blow-by-blow account of the creation of the Gaza perimeter, starting in 1970 with general Ariel Sharon’s “Pacification of Gaza”. Repeated assaults by the IOF have extended this perimeter security zone on numerous occasions.

The IOF used bulldozers as a tool of military domination and environmental destruction. They constructed watch towers which required clear lines of site for snipers and CCTV. They sprayed military grade herbicides which often spread into Palestinian agricultural land.

The IOF has created a lifeless moonscape, a killing zone that was once covered in orange groves.

In 2018, we witnessed how Israel used this infrastructure to kill and maim hundreds of unarmed Palestinians marching peacefully for the right of return to their land.  And we have seen it again since the Palestinian assault on the hated perimeter wall on 7 October 2023.

Molavi rightly emphasises Palestinian resilience to this multilayered onslaught. She concludes, “As long as this desire, conscious and tacit, to create a settler ecology out of the ecology of Palestine continues, novel and subversive frontiers of resistance to confront it will also continue to blossom.”

The climate justice movement is becoming an increasingly visible presence in the Palestine solidarity movement. This book is an invaluable tool to those climate justice activists who want to strengthen these growing links.

Over 90 percent of wrongly convicted receive no compensation

Posted on: June 12th, 2024 by TTE
Sam Hallam with his mother Wendy Cohen illustrating an article about compensation for wrongly convicted people

Sam Hallam, who lost his claim for compensation after being wrongly convicted, with his mother Wendy Cohen outside the Supreme Court in central London when he began his legal battle (Picture: Alamy)

If the courts wrongly convicted you of a crime but you fought for justice and eventually won freedom, you might expect to be given compensation. Think again.

A shocking judgement on Tuesday highlighted that 93 percent of those who apply for compensation in such circumstances don’t receive it. Even when the system has to admit it has failed, it continues to act brutally towards its victims and to sneer at their innocence.

Victor Nealon and Sam Hallam took their case to the European Court of Human Rights. Between them, they spent more than 24 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. After that they were denied any form of compensation.

The British government argued that the law only allowed payouts if they could show “beyond reasonable doubt” that they were innocent and had not committed the crimes. The Ministry of Justice maintained that the evidence that cleared the two men was not sufficient to show they were “fully innocent” and refused to grant them compensation.

But Nealon and Hallam argued there had been a breach of their human rights under the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). This says that “everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law”.

The court said it would not seek to intervene to change the present situation.

In response to the judgment, Hallam said, “For 20 years, the whole of my young adult life, I have been fighting a murder case of which I am entirely innocent.

“Still today I have not received a single penny for the seven and half years I spent in prison. The brutal test for compensation needs to be abolished.”

A previous—slightly more liberal—scheme, which allowed more payouts, was arbitrarily abolished by Labour home secretary Charles Clarke in the 2000s. The Tories then toughened the requirements for compensation.

Hallam’s conviction for murder was quashed at the Court of Appeal on 17 May 2012. The previous day the prosecution declared they did not oppose the appeal.

Nealon’s conviction was quashed at the Court of Appeal on 16 December 2013. He spent 17 years in prison. In May 2014 the Criminal Cases Review Commission apologised to Nealon for failing to investigate his case properly. This included not commissioning DNA tests which could have cleared him ten years earlier.

Nealon said that more than a decade after he was freed “I have not received any compensation from the government for the life I lost, nor the mental agony inflicted on me”. “This is not justice, and I am appalled by the decision of the court,” he said.

Over the last 20 years there has been an average of 21 quashed convictions a year and in the last five years almost 200 victims of wrongful convictions have applied to the Ministry of Justice for compensation. However, the number of successful compensation claims has “plummeted”, law reform group Justice reports.

Matt Foot is co-director of Appeal, a charity and law practice dedicated to challenging wrongful convictions. He said, “The brutal compensation scheme for miscarriages of justice cases is the aspect of our criminal justice system of which I am most ashamed.

“We urgently need to find a mechanism to compensate those victims.”

He added that wrongfully convicted people needed “love and care”. “They’re left on the scrapheap with no one to look after them,” he explained. “They are damaged people, the experience lives with them forever.”

Lessons from the fascist murder of Italian socialist Giacomo Matteotti

Posted on: June 12th, 2024 by TTE
Giacomo Matteotti

Giacomo Matteotti

On the 30 May 1924, firebrand socialist MP Giacomo Matteotti rose to make a speech in the Italian parliament condemning the fascists’ widespread election fraud and political violence.

Benito Mussolini had been appointed prime minister by the Italian king in 1922, following his “March on Rome”. He rigged the law to make sure the fascist candidates got many more seats per vote in the 1924 election.

Fascist gangs, the “blackshirts”, roamed the country, intimidating voters and even murdering one opposition candidate.

When he rose to speak, Matteotti was constantly interrupted by heckling and threats of violence from the fascist benches. In the end, he spoke for around an hour and a half, denouncing the Mussolini regime.

Eleven days later the notorious fascist gang, the Ceka, kidnapped him in broad daylight, bundled him into the back of a car and stabbed him to death in the back seat. His corpse was found later near Riano, 23 kilometres north of Rome, on 16 August 1924.

Matteotti’s heroism was remembered this year at a free exhibition, Enduring Tempest, in London’s Charing Cross Library. Charing Cross Library was once the headquarters of the Italian fascist party in London from 1936 to 1940. Matteotti’s political nickname was Tempesta. Streets can be found all over Italy commemorating Matteotti for speaking out against fascist terror.

The exhibition panels illustrated episodes from Matteotti’s life and the fight against fascism. In April 1924, for example, he made a secret journey to London to seek the support of Britain’s first Labour government in April 1924.

The Women’s International Matteotti Committee, set up by Sylvia Pankhurst, tried to rescue his wife, Velia, from persecution and house arrest by Mussolini.

The “Matteotti Affair” became a huge scandal for Mussolini. A number of witnesses came forward readily identifying the kidnappers—even the car’s numberplate.

Mussolini’s own press secretary, Cesare Rossi, denounced his boss for his responsibility in organising the murder. The Italian papers took up the public outcry. Fascist badges disappeared from lapels.

For a moment, there was talk of a general strike—on 27 June, across Italy, many workers abstained from work for about ten minutes. But by 1924, the left had been beaten and bullied into political submission by the fascist terror. They were unable to organise sufficient rank and file resistance in workplaces or on the streets.

Tragically, socialist MPs chose to follow the liberals, opting for a form of passive “moral” resistance. They decamped from the parliament to the Aventine Hills in a traditional, theatrical show of disgust. They thought that this would be enough to force the king to sack Mussolini. The royal dismissal never came.

Mussolini would ride out the crisis and swiftly move to the destruction of all the remaining democratic trappings of his regime. He would not be challenged again until the 1940s.  

Mussolini initially attracted support from conservatives and reactionaries all over Europe. The political descendants of Mussolini are led by Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni.

Once more, they are courted by established politicians across Europe, such as Rishi Sunak who spoke at a far right conference hosted by Meloni in Italy in December. They are helping to rehabilitate  fascism in Italy and at home.

It is no accident that Nazi Tommy Robinson has resurfaced from obscurity onto the streets of London with up to 5,000 supporters.

We must learn the lessons of the Matteotti assassination—before it is too late, as it was for him. Even Matteotti opposed physical self defence against the fascist thugs in 1921. “Stay home! Do not respond to provocations,” he wrote. “Even silence, even cowardice, are sometimes heroic.”

We should celebrate the brave defiance of Matteotti’s speech in May 1924, but also avoid the disastrous strategy of respectable, passive opposition. That led to his murder and the consolidation of Italian fascism.

European elections are a warning—help stamp out racism

Posted on: June 11th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage milkshaked while rallying supporters in Clacton-on-sea (Picture: Alamy)

Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage milkshaked while rallying supporters in Clacton-on-sea (Picture: Alamy)

At first sight Britain looks very different from the rise of the fascists and the conservatives across Europe at the European elections last weekend.

But there is no room for complacency. It’s true that broad anti-racist campaigning has held back the far right in Britain.

But that doesn’t mean the politics of racism and Islamophobia aren’t powerful here too.

The Tories have rammed through round after round of anti-migrant laws. They whip up Islamophobia against the Palestine movement.

And Nigel Farage’s racist Reform UK is rising in the polls—with some speculation it could match the Tory numbers.

At present Keir Starmer attracts many of those revolted by the Tories. But the poverty of Labour’s politics is clear as it bends to the racism of the Tories.

Its concessions allow far right rhetoric to seep into the working class. Anti-racists in Britain must show that racist, far right politics are not welcome here.

And we need to offer a fighting set of socialist politics that offer people a real way to deal with low pay, bad housing, a crumbling NHS and all the issues that racists try to use against migrants.

Join the actions of Stand Up To Racism around the election and back the fight against our real enemies—the rich, the bosses and the politicians who support them. Go to standuptoracism.org.uk

Prepare a fight for more than the manifestos

Posted on: June 11th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, and David Lammy, shadow foreign secretary in Normandy for 80th anniversary of D-Day (Picture: Keir Starmer on Flickr) elections manifestos

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and David Lammy, shadow foreign secretary in Normandy for 80th anniversary of D-Day (Picture: Keir Starmer on Flickr)

The Tories, Labour and Lib Dems were set to release their manifestos this week—so many politicians, so little inspiration.

The manifestos will be full of empty promises, mild-mannered reforms and pro-corporate pledges. They won’t all be the same.

The Tory manifesto will be full of racist attacks, while Labour’s is set to promise some mild improvements to workers’ rights.

But they don’t offer any substantial break from the past. Instead, all continue the situation where ordinary people suffer.

A glance at Britain in 2024 shows the urgent need for real change. Over the last decade, the richest people and corporations in Britain have plundered more and more wealth.

The richest 52 families in Britain have more wealth than the poorest half of the population—33 million people.

Yet public services, like the NHS and social care, continue to crumble. But there will be no pledges of taxing the rich and going after the corporations hoarding huge profits.

There are no serious plans to inject funds into key public services on the scale that’s needed. Instead it will be tax cuts funded by a squeeze on the public sector or statements about how there’s no money left, while pledging more military spending.

Soaring rents and rising prices push people into hardship and homelessness.

But no party presents a bold plan for building hundreds of thousands of council houses. Every year more and more climate records are broken, as we barrel towards an existential climate catastrophe.

Yet Labour and the Tories continue to backpedal on climate policies, watering them down for even more timid targets.

Meanwhile Israel is carrying out a genocide in Gaza, murdering 35,000 Palestinians.

The Tories and Labour are presenting no real opposition to Israel’s apartheid, remaining deeply complicit in its atrocities.

The result is the Tories and Labour offering similar versions of pro-boss and pro-imperialist policies.

Labour’s criticism of the Tory manifesto was that it was “Jeremy Corbyn-style” with “anything you want”.

That’s why Socialist Worker is backing independent left alternatives who stand with Palestine and support all the oppressed and exploited.

We need an open confrontation with the broken system that implements racism and wrecks lives, services, wages and jobs.

But the focus of that resistance shouldn’t be in parliament. We need to fight on the streets and in the workplaces.

Whether it is striking to fight cuts or protesting for Palestinian liberation, struggle is how we can really change politics.

We must greet whoever wins the election with a fightback from day one.

Tory manifesto of racism and attacks on the poor

Posted on: June 11th, 2024 by Charlie
Rishi Sunak stroking small dog with a blue rosette

Even the dog looks unhappy with Sunak (Picture: Rishi Sunak on Twitter)

The Tories launched their manifesto on Tuesday, a document full of assaults on migrants and the poor.

It confirmed the Tories as the open party of bosses and imperialism, with tax cuts funded by savaging benefits and pledges to boost military spending.

It’s also a last-ditch attempt by Sunak to salvage his crumbling campaign, with Nigel Farage’s Reform UK snapping at the Tories’ heels.

In the dirtiest search for votes, Sunak promised a “regular rhythm” of refugee deportation flights to Rwanda every month—starting in July.

It will be a “relentless, continual process of permanently removing illegal migrants,” the manifesto proclaims.

And it pledges to make it harder for migrants and refugees to block their removal by so-called “spurious challenges”.

It doubles down on introducing a “a binding, legal cap on migration” that “will fall every year of the next parliament”.

The Tories have no genuine solutions to the hardships facing ordinary people, so they peddle racism to deflect from their own system’s toxic effects.

And as well as targeting migrants and refugees, the Tories promised their government would “make clear that sex means biological sex”—an attack on trans people.

In an effort to lure people facing hardship, the manifesto pledges another 2 percent off the national insurance for workers. That will produce zero benefit for 17.8 million adults with income below £12,570, or who are pensioners.

The total cost of this and other tax cuts is £17 billion. The manifesto claims that £6 billion of funding will come from cracking down on tax avoidance—why haven’t this been done during the last 14 years? And what about the tens of billions more tax the rich avoid and hoard in offshore accounts?

What about the vast hauls made from corporate payouts and dividends—collected by people such as the Sunak family?  

The Tories also want to cut £12 billion from welfare. They want to make it harder for people with mental distress to access disability benefits, tighten the assessments for work capability and crack down on sick notes.

In other words, the Tories will try to force people into low paid jobs.

As welfare is cut, there will be more for warfare. The manifesto promises to hit 2.5 percent of economic output spent on the military by 2030—that means £11 billion more by 2030.

“Security is essential for success,” said Sunak at the launch rally. And the manifesto pledges to “boost the UK defence industrial base” with “at least £10 billion of investment in munitions production” over the next decade. 

The aim is to “become the largest defence exporter in Europe by 2030”.

It’s a celebration of war, death and destruction. The Tories openly declared that they would fight for British imperialism and do what was necessary to defend the interests of the British ruling class.

The manifesto is also full of anti-environment promises.

The Tories promise yearly licensing rounds for oil and gas production in the North Sea. Sunak attacked “unaffordable eco-zealotry, ” meaning real ecological action.

The world is burning and the Tories are promising to let it burn. We need drastic action in the next decade to prevent climate collapse, not net zero by 2050 at the Tories pledge.

Yet Keir Starmer’s response to the Tory manifesto was to accuse Sunak of producing a “Jeremy Corbyn-style manifesto”.

Instead, it’s a pro-boss, pro-war and racist document.

We need to fight for a total break with the broken politics of the mainstream parties.

Anti-racists confront Nigel Farage in Barnsley

Posted on: June 11th, 2024 by TTE
a crowd shot of the anti-racist protest against Nigel Farage in Barnsley

Anti-racists chase Nigel Farage in Barnsley (Picture: Alamy)

Some 70 protestors demonstrated against Nigel Farage in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on Tuesday.

The leader of the racist Reform UK party greeted crowds from the top of a bus as part of his campaign trail.

“I was worried at the start,” protester George told Socialist Worker, referring to small numbers at the start of the protest.

But the demonstration grew rapidly as many young people joined and confronted Farage. George said, “We chanted loud enough to drown out Farage. Then he got in a car and just drove off. It was a very positive demonstration.”

One protestor led the demonstration with a placard that read, “Tories destroyed Barnsley’s economy, housing, NHS—not migrants.”

A surprisingly small number of Farage supporters turned out in what Reform UK has announced as its number one target seat in the election. Chants of “Reform UK is a racist party, don’t let racists divide us,” “Refugees in, Farage out,” and, “Say it loud, say it clear, Refugees welcome here,” rang out for over half an hour.

The police advised Farage not to get off his bus, which eventually managed to squeeze past the demonstrators.

George added, “Just before it left someone not connected to the demo found a barrel of wet cement and threw two handfuls at the bus. Some in the crowd said, ‘This is Barnsley, we don’t do milkshakes.’”

This is the second time in under a week Farage has been assailed by a protestor after having a milkshake thrown on him last week in Clacton, Essex.

One student joined the protest from Sheffield University, temporarily leaving the Palestine student encampment to demonstrate against Farage. She carried a banner that read, “Fuck fascists, fuck Farage.”

Police detained her for abusive language after Farage was forced away by protestors. But the crowd opposed the police and they released her.

The Stand Up To Racism campaign group said, “Good to see the good people of Barnsley opposing Farage’s vile politics and inflammatory statements targeting migrants that embolden racists and the far right.”

The protest in Barnsley comes just a day after reports arose that Reform UK candidate Ian Gribben had previously defended Hitler. Gribben wrote that Britain should have “taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality…but oh no Britain’s warped mind set values weird notions of international morality”.

A Reform UK spokesperson said that the party does not endorse the comment, but Gribben was “just pointing out conveniently forgotten truths”.

Reform UK is a vile, racist party which scapegoats migrants. They are led by Farage—a stock broker who went to public school—and do not represent the interests of ordinary people.

We need many more protests that hound Farage and say, “Refugees are welcome here,” throughout the election.

Where next for the Irish left after the local elections?

Posted on: June 11th, 2024 by TTE
five people canvas in the Irish local elections

Supporters of People Before Profit campaign for Conor Reddy (centre) in Dublin during the Irish local elections (Picture: Conor Reddy – People Before Profit Dublin North West)

Irish socialist party People Before Profit (PBP) made significant gains in local elections in the south of Ireland last weekend. We entered what was a difficult election for the left with seven seats and came out with nine—possibly ten if a recount goes our way.

Overall, this will mean a total of 12 or 13 seats for People Before Profit-Solidarity. The majority of them are members of the Socialist Workers Network (SWN) or other revolutionary socialist groups within PBP.

The political terrain has shifted dramatically over the past two years or so. Sinn Féin, which was polling at 36 percent in May 2022, has dropped to around 12 percent. This is due, in part, to their move to the centre in preparation for getting into office in the south of Ireland.

Sinn Fein began making reassurances to big business that it was a safe pair of hands. And it stopped being part of protests over housing and the cost of living crisis that would have won it support.

However, the biggest factor in Sinn Fein’s loss of support has been the rise of the far right and its vacillations in response to it.

It ignored the problem of far right protests outside accommodation centres for asylum seekers and more recently pandered to anti-immigrant sentiment. One of their TDs, Martin Browne, addressed an anti-asylum seeker protest in Roscrea, telling the crowd that they had been treated “unfairly”.

A representative of theirs, now an elected councillor, described Georgians as “economic migrants” and said they should be “on the next plane home”. Their leaflets in the local elections declared that Ireland “must have control of its borders”.

This strategy saw their vote cut by more than half in two of their strongest areas in the country. In Ballymun-Finglas Sinn Fein fell from 42 percent of the first preference vote to 21 percent and in Dublin South Central from 44 percent to just 21 percent.  

The Irish government—a coalition of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Greens—is declaring the election results a victory for itself, claiming that “the centre is holding”. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael recovered slightly from the 2020 general election result and are now at a combined vote of 46 percent. But they are actually down on the 52 percent they had in the equivalent local election in 2019.

They are hoping that the Sinn Féin wave is receding and that they will be able to get back into office with the help of right wing independent TDs. And. like the rest of the so-called “centre” in Europe, they are increasingly moving to the right over immigration.

We have to understand gains for the socialist left in this context. We campaigned on the slogans, “Put campaigners on the council,” and, “Evict Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.”

Housing was central to the campaign. We highlighted the tens of thousands of long-term vacant and derelict properties that are scattered around Ireland and challenged the narrative pushed by the far right that “Ireland is full”.

Our campaigning for Palestinian liberation has also gained us support. There were many Palestine solidarity activists who campaigned for PBP in this election, who had not been involved before.

Given the rise of the far right in Ireland, it was crucial that there were principled, anti-racist, left wing campaigners running in this election. It was crucial that the opposition to the far right was not left to liberals like the Green Party, Sinn Féin with all its vacillations, or the mainstream right wing parties.

We saw the success in Clondalkin of people like Darragh Adelaide, a young black Irish speaker, and Conor Reddy in Ballymun-Finglas, one of the most deprived areas in Dublin. These victories gave the lie to the idea that the left must pander to anti-immigrant sentiment if it is to be successful.

The result also gives weight to the model of politics that PBP has been building over the past 20 years. It’s a politics that doesn’t counterpose struggle and elections, but one that sees elections as a way to build struggle.

All of the activists who were elected have a strong campaigning record—on housing, workers’ rights, climate justice, anti-racism, and Palestine.

This election has allowed us, not just to fly the flag for socialist politics, but to recruit new activists and build new networks. These will stand us in good stead as we try to organise in communities in the future.

It was also a litmus test for how we win people to our politics—there are few better ways to hone your arguments than to knock on people’s doors and talk to them. And where we have won seats, we have a better platform with which to be organisers and campaigners in our communities.

While the Socialist Left has made advances in this election, in general the terrain has shifted to the right.

Far right and fascist candidates won seats for the first time in Ireland. In Ballymun-Finglas, the far right took 20 percent of the first preference vote.

Despite retaining seats in Carlow, Galway, Sligo and Cork, the socialist left found it difficult to break through outside of Dublin. The challenge is qualitatively different outside of areas with an established base for the left—and overcoming this will be a key part of socialist strategy moving forward.

We are therefore facing major challenges. It is crucial that we use these gains to continue growing roots in communities and building a fightback against both the government and the far right across the country.

This must partly involve putting pressure on Sinn Fein and the rest of the left to rule out coalition with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael

The left in Ireland must build struggle in working class communities and on the streets, tackle racist arguments and the far right head on, and offer a politics of genuine hope.