Netanyahu announces horrific plan for Rafah invasion

Posted on: February 27th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
The Foreign Secretary, David Cameron meeting Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. (Picture: Rory Arnold)

The Foreign Secretary, David Cameron meeting Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. (Picture: Rory Arnold)

 
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made clear the Israeli state wants to carry out a massacre in Rafah, in southern Gaza, whatever the cost. 
 
He said last Sunday that any ­possible deal made with Hamas to swap Israeli detainees for Palestinian prisoners could ­postpone but not prevent an Israeli ground invasion of Rafah. 
 
“If we have a deal, it’ll be delayed somewhat,” said Netanyahu. “But it’ll happen. If we don’t have a deal we’ll do it anyway.” 
 
In an interview on CBC Face the Nation, he added, “Once we begin the Rafah operation, the intense phase of the fighting is weeks away from completion, not months, weeks away.
 
“We can’t leave the last Hamas stronghold without taking care of it.” 
 
Netanyahu’s aggressive stance comes as negotiations between an Israeli delegation and mediators from the United States, Qatar and Egypt in Paris, France were held over last weekend. 
 
Hamas representatives weren’t present but have been sent a draft of proposals.
 
The draft reportedly includes a ­proposal to stop fighting for up to six weeks to make way for an exchange of Palestinian prisoners and Israeli detainees. 
 
It also maps out a plan for a “redeployment” of Israeli troops across Gaza and the return of Palestinian women and children back to the north of Gaza.
 
This would be a step down for Hamas, who has called for the Israeli military to withdraw from Gaza completely. 
 
Negotiations then moved to Doha, Qatar, and were joined by Hamas representatives. They were planned to continue throughout this week. 
 
But Netanyahu said that whatever the contents of any ­agreements, the Israeli state would proceed with a ground invasion of Rafah because its ultimate goal is defeating Hamas.
 
Thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv last Saturday under the banner of “Choose the hostage” to demand early elections and for the government to accept a deal which brings Israeli ­detainees back. 
 
The riot cops fired water cannons at protesters who tried to block the roads and 21 Israelis were arrested. There was also a large protest in Jerusalem. 
 
These protests show the extent of the rage against Netanyahu and his government, as well as the Israeli state’s quickness to repress its citizens. 
 
But these protests are no challenge to the Zionist state that relies on racism and segregation for its existence. 
 
While those on the streets are raging against their government, only a tiny majority inside Israel go as far as to take on the apartheid regime itself. 
 
Israel has timetabled the massacre in Rafah to begin as early as 10 March, meaning the Palestinians are running out of time. 
 
Protesters must continue to rage against Zionist horror on the streets and make the next national ­demonstration in London on 9  March as militant as possible.

Israel’s plot will end West’s two-state myth
If it can’t exterminate or drive out the people of Gaza, Israel wants to hold them in a permanent concentration camp. 
 
Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has finally unveiled Israel’s plans for Gaza. He spurns even the vague hand-wringing from the United States. 
 
That is because he knows Joe Biden won’t halt the US money and arms shipments that fuel the Israeli genocide. 
 
The one-page document, released last Friday, says that the governance of Gaza would be handed to “local officials with administrative experience” but who’ve had no previous affiliation with Hamas or other armed groups. 
 
It was unclear what the document meant by this. It makes no mention of any role even for the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank-based administration that acts as Israel’s complicit cops.
 
This is who Biden wants to take over Gaza.
 
The scheme says, “Israel will have security control over the entire area west of Jordan,” which includes all of the West Bank and Israel, as well as Gaza. 
 
While the West Bank has been divided since the 1993 Oslo Accords into three zones, this plan seeks to impose the authority of the Israeli army on Area A, controlled until now by the Palestinian Authority. 
 
Israel wants to make the administration of Area B the model for the management of all Palestinian territories.
 
In Area B the Zionist state controls all security and executive affairs.
 
The plan wants “complete demilitarisation” of Gaza and to close off the territory’s southern border with Egypt.
 
The document rejects recognition of a Palestinian state. It also foresees a sizeable “security buffer” within Gaza, further reducing the size of the already vastly overcrowded territory. 
 
The idea, peddled by some in the West and most Arab regimes, that Israel would ever accept a two-state solution, including a viable Palestinian state, is even more of a fraud and a trap than ever.
 
Dividing Gaza’s future into near, medium and long-term phases, the plan says Israel will continue its 17-year siege and will control local policing and the teachings of schools and mosques.
 
Netanyahu has also proposed de-radicalisation programmes for those in Gaza.
 
He states that he would want these programmes to be established in every educational, welfare and religious institution in the area. 
 
The content of these programmes would be borrowed from repressive Arab regimes according to Netanyahu, although he did not establish which he would model them after. 
 
Implementing such a plan would involve utterly destroying resistance. 

Rafah Voice – “Things are completely out of control here”

Posted on: February 27th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Distributing food in Rafah last month (Picture: Laila Salah Kassab)

Distributing food in Rafah last month (Picture: Laila Salah Kassab)

 
The over a million people squeezed into Rafah in the south of Gaza are living in a horrifying state of limbo, waiting to see if Israel will wage a full-scale bloody assault on the area. 
 
“Things have completely gotten out of control. Nobody understands what is happening or what will happen here,” said Ibitsam, who lives in Deir el-Balah in central Gaza but has recently fled to Rafah. 
 
“We are all desperate as negotiations failed and it feels like there isn’t hope of a ceasefire. My kids are constantly asking when they will go back to our house,” she told Socialist Worker. 
 
“They dream of hot meals and warm blankets. They want for life to go back to how it was. They can’t really cope with this nightmare.” 
 
The Israeli state has murdered more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza since 7 October.
 
Many more will be killed by the Israeli state’s intentional cutting off of aid and its targeting of hospitals.
 
The Shehab news agency said that, Mahmoud Fattouh, who was just two months old, died from malnutrition in al-Shifa hospital last Sunday. 
 
A paramedic who treated the child said, “We saw a woman carrying her baby, screaming for help. Her pale baby seemed to be taking his last breath. 
 
“We rushed him to hospital, and he was found to be suffering acute malnutrition.
 
“Medical staff rushed him into the ICU. The baby has not been fed any milk for days, as baby milk is totally absent in Gaza.”
 
Another baby, Muhammed Zayegh, also was reported to have died due to starvation. 

Dr Hussam Abu Safiya, the head of paediatrics at the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, explained that children are dying in “significant numbers” across Gaza due to “widespread malnutrition”.


West Bank Voice – “We cannot give up. There has to be resistance”
“The Israeli forces raid day and night,” Abdullah, a Palestinian living near the city of Salfit in the West Bank, told Socialist Worker last Sunday. 
 
“There are air strikes by unmanned aerial vehicles. Just last week, one hit a car, and at least two people died, and more were injured. 
 
“The Israeli forces have put up more roadblocks and checkpoints. Soldiers have also set up more garrisons. It’s all to humiliate us and to make movement as difficult as possible.” 
 
“Israeli settlers are also attacking us. My family knows someone who was picking olives on his land. A group of settlers came up to him with their guns. They told him ‘get off our land’ and he said he wouldn’t. They shot him in front of his wife and children,” Abdullah explained. 
 
“They have started with Gaza, and now they want to do the same in the West Bank.” 
 
He added that while repression against those speaking out is getting worse, he won’t be silenced. 
 
“We’re united here in the West Bank. We are strong. We have groups set up so we can warn each other about settler attacks or the state of the roads.” 
 
Abdullah added that he doesn’t think diplomacy is going to stop Israel’s assaults. 
 
“We have tried to negotiate for a long time. But it’s not worked. Israel will not give in and neither will its backers, like the US. 
 
“That means that we can’t give up. There can be no real peace without justice. So I say to those across the world—you have to resist.
 
“Mobilisation is very important. Without a mass movement there will be no change.”
 
 

Labour has a terrible record of Islamophobia

Posted on: February 27th, 2024 by Sophie
Labour Starmer Muslim Islamophobia

Protests against the last Labour government Picture: Socialist Worker

Labour leader Keir Starmer is trying to capitalise on the Islamophobia crisis engulfing the Tories (see pages 2 and 3). He attacked prime minister Rishi Sunak last weekend, accusing him of harbouring “extremists in his party”.

“It’s right that Lee Anderson has lost the whip after this appalling racist and Islamophobic outburst,” said Starmer.

“But what does it say about the prime minister’s judgement that he made Lee Anderson deputy chairman of his party?”

Of course, Starmer is right to say that Anderson is the tip of the iceberg of Tory racism. Yet his posing as a friend of Muslims doesn’t stand up to examination.

Instead, it’s a ploy to win back anti-war support that the Labour leader initially seemed happy to lose.

Labour has been slavish in its backing of Israel’s war on Palestine, which has been the main driver of a recent explosion of Islamophobia.

During the uproar that followed, rather than apologise, he claimed he’d never said the words, even though they were televised. 

But Labour’s vilification of Palestinians goes further than one interview and the refusal to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Back in October last year the party’s sent an email to members urging them to “exercise caution” and stay away from protests over the war.

David Evans, Labour’s general secretary, said, “Individuals will not have the ability to control who they are photographed alongside and this risks threatening the Labour Party’s ability to campaign against any  form of racism and discrimination.”

That terrible slur on the pro-Palestine movement implied that the marches are a cover for antisemitism. And Starmer was determined to go further still.

He used a visit to the South Wales Islamic Centre in Cardiff last autumn to claim Muslim support for his agenda. His social media posts afterwards implied that he had persuaded those he met of Labour’s pro-Israel position. In fact it outraged them.

Labour’s arrogance, believing that it can speak for Muslims even while justifying their slaughter, stems from generations of Asians supporting the party.

But this might not be the case for much longer. The party’s terrible stance on the genocide in Gaza infuriated many Labour members and supporters—both Muslim and non-Muslim.

British Muslims’ identification with Labour as their “natural choice” fell by 49 percentage points, from 72 percent in 2021 to just 29 percent in 2023.

The party leadership’s initial reaction to the loss of voters and councillors was to claim it as a victory for Starmerism.

One Labour executive member said their exit was “good riddance”. Another Labour source told the editor of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper that the party was “shaking off the fleas”.

But even the most prejudiced in the party are realising a terrible election arithmetic—that the loss of so many thousands of Muslim and left wing votes will cost Labour seats.

That’s why Labour leaders now want to be seen as opponents of Islamophobia and why Starmer spoke out strongly against the Tories.

Yet the party cannot escape from the logic of imperialism and racism. It’s no accident that Islamophobia has grown along side the West’s wars on the Middle East and Asia.

In order to justify the horrors of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine, our rulers have dehumanised “the enemy”. They tell us that Muslims are not “like us” and that their pain is unlike “our” pain.

It is a process that allows wars of the utmost barbarity to be labelled battles for “civilisation”. Labour’s racism doesn’t simply flow from Starmer and the party’s right wing.

It comes from Labour’s tradition of support for imperialism and colonialism that has been hardwired into Labour since birth.

Strikes round-up: Join Birmingham protests against council cuts

Posted on: February 27th, 2024 by Isabel
At the Birmingham rally against council cuts

Charlotte (middle) at the council campaign launch in Birmingham last week

Around 100 activists gathered in Birmingham last week to launch a campaign against the savage cuts proposed by Birmingham’s Labour-run council. The meeting, organised by the three main council unions Unison, GMB and Unite, follows the announcement of the biggest cuts package ever announced by a council.

That’s set to be £300 million over two years. Unison branch secretary Caroline Johnson rejected the argument that the cuts result from equal pay claims from low paid women workers. “The £300 million is partly due to a botched computer system but most of it is due to an increased demand for council services and inflationary costs,” she said.

Caroline added that “one in five councils in England are facing bankruptcy”. Charlotte, a mother of two 13-year-old boys with special educational needs, said further cuts will push people over the edge. She asked how she was going to get two wheelchairs on a bus when it will only take one.

Ann Gallagher, Friends of Birmingham Libraries, said 25 out of 37 community libraries are also at risk. “One billion pounds has been taken from the city since 2010, if that was returned we would have £700 million to improve services,” she said.

The meeting ended with a call to use networks in the city to build a major demonstration at 12 noon on Saturday this week in Victoria Square. This will be followed by a mass lobby of the council at 5pm on Tuesday next week when it is due to vote on the cuts.

David Hughes


Steel unions must fight for Port Talbot

Thousands of steel workers are preparing to begin a strike vote against devastating plant closures by Tata bosses. The Unite union, which represents over 1,000 workers at the Port Talbot steel works, was set to begin the balloting process on Friday this week.

The actual voting is scheduled to start on Friday next week and closing on Tuesday 9 April. Strikes could begin before the end of April. The main steel union, Community, has also said it is ready to ballot. But at the start of this week it had not announced dates. The other steel union, the GMB, has made no statement about strikes. Last week leaders of all the unions formally met Tata.

Tata wants to destroy 2,423 steel jobs across Britain, with 1,929 of those at Port Talbot. Bosses have presided over a catastrophic fall in steel jobs, and union leaders have failed to challenge them. Workers should organise to win the strike votes and press for hard-hitting action as soon as possible. It must not become just a token campaign that relies on Labour to deliver in the future.


Housing strikers out to repair pay

Housing association workers in London are set to strike for the first time. Bosses only offered the 50 repair workers a 4 percent pay rise for 2023. Unite union has been locked out of collective pay negotiations. It means Sanctuary Housing doesn’t engage in pay negotiations with any union.

The strike was set to begin on Thursday of this week, and continue on Friday of this week and Monday of next in Hackney, east London.


Strikes are just the ticket in Slough

Over 40 parking enforcement workers in Slough, Berkshire, struck on Monday for two weeks until 10 March over pay. The Saba Park Services workers carry out parking attendance, back office support, CCTV monitoring and bus lane enforcement. Slough council outsources the workers, who are in the Unite union, and says it doesn’t have a role in negotiations.


Above-inflation pay in West Midlands

West Midlands Metro tram drivers secured a 13.5 percent pay deal from 1 April without striking. In 2022 the workers, in the Unite union, won a 20.1 percent pay increase for drivers with over a year’s service and 13.7 percent for those with less than a year. Strikes this year could’ve seen a bigger win for the workers.

  • Around 500 workers at National Express Ring and Ride workers across the West Midlands have also accepted a one-year deal also without striking. It’s backdated to 1 January this year and is worth 12.8 percent. The workers provide minibus services for elderly and disabled people, and school children with special educational needs.

Workers will not live worse for less

Some 500 Sainsbury’s lorry drivers in Essex and Birmingham are voting to strike against outsourcing. The workers, who are in the Unite union, are employed by Sainsbury’s. Bosses want to transfer them to Wincanton at the end of April.


M25 workers want to run over pay offer

M25 maintenance workers employed by Balfour Beatty are voting to put bosses in jam with industrial action. The 150 Unite union members maintain the entire M25 but have only been offered a 3.4 percent pay offer from bosses. The ballot closes on 12 March.

Rage after refugee jailed for ten years

Posted on: February 27th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Ibrahima Bah (Picture: Kent Police)

Ibrahima Bah (Picture: Kent Police)

 
Jailed for trying to save lives. That’s the precedent the Tories have set after Ibrahima Bah, who piloted a boat across the English Channel in December 2022, received a decade-long prison sentence. 
 
During the treacherous crossing the small boat sank and four people drowned, with 39 surviving.  A disgraceful state prosecution saw a jury at Canterbury Crown Court find Ibrahima guilty of their deaths last week. 
 
He was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison, with convictions for manslaughter and facilitating a breach of immigration laws.
 
It’s the first time someone who navigated an inflatable dinghy has been found responsible for causing harm to others on a boat.
 
The Tories’ Nationality and Borders Act 2022 ramped up the punishment for people “facilitating” entry to Britain to criminalise people who steer boats. 
 
But those who steer the death-trap boats are themselves refugees trying to reach safety in Britain. 
 
Ibrahima, a Senegalese migrant, offered to steer the dinghy in exchange for a free crossing, according to the prosecution.
 
He said he was forced by smugglers, who assaulted him and threatened him with death, to make the journey.
 
The jury agreed with the prosecution and found him guilty by a majority of ten to two of manslaughter, and unanimously guilty of facilitating illegal entry.
 
A jury in a previous trial last summer was unable to reach a verdict.
 
But survivors corroborated Ibrahima’s version of events, and even claimed he saved their lives by steering the boat towards a fishing vessel and helping people onto it. 
 
Many of the refugees didn’t have lifejackets and the boat had no lights or safety equipment.
 
The overcrowded boat began filling with water after people stood up waiting to be rescued.
 
But Ibrahima is not responsible for the deaths. British and French coastguards failed to launch a rescue operation when they learnt of the boat’s distress. 
 
Only when a fishing vessel identified Dover coastguards—two hours after the first distress calls—did British border forces step in. 
 
Both the Tories and Labour point the finger at smugglers for Channel crossings. People smugglers’ business model is sustained by the lack of open and safe routes into Britain. 
 
Demonising refugees as “illegal” isn’t the way to stop them risking their lives crossing the world’s busiest shipping lane. 
 
But the Tories don’t care about lives—they care about scapegoating the most vulnerable people.
 
The courts worked hard to convict Ibrahima, and the Tories have been waiting for such a verdict. And regardless of the charges against Ibrahima, he, and no one else in a situation like him, is a criminal.
 
Open borders would stop the drownings and the need for small boats. It’s the Tories who are guilty of murder—and have blood on their hands.
 
Ibrahima is appealing against the sentence and needs full support. Opposing the attacks on refugees has to be a key part of the anti-racist movement.
 
Join Stand Up to Racism’s  national demonstrations on Saturday 16 March in London and Glasgow and Sunday 17 March in Cardiff. For details go to tinyurl.com/SUTRMarch16and17
 

‘Human rights? There are none here. There is no such thing as justice here’
The British state has convicted and jailed hundreds of people, including children and victims of trafficking and torture, for arriving in small boats to claim asylum.
 
A report No Such Thing As Justice Here from the University of Oxford found that between June 2022 and October 2023, 253 people received convictions under section 24 of the 1971 Immigration Act for illegal entry, and seven under section 25 for facilitation.
 
Those targeted were boat drivers, or those who previously made a visa application. Those travelling “illegally” face deportation, up to four years in prison, and limited rights in Britain. 
 
And the Tories expanded “facilitation” so that the maximum sentence is 14 years to life. 
 
In 2022, one person for every ten boats was arrested for their alleged role in steering. In 2023, this increased to one for every seven boats.
 
People have been identified as having their “hand on the tiller” for many reasons, including having boating experience, steering in return for discounted passage, taking it in turns, or being under duress.
 
Those arrested included people from countries with a high asylum grant rate, including Sudan, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Eritrea and Syria.
 
Ibrahim from Sudan was sentenced to 15 months for “illegal arrival” and “facilitation”. 
 
After he was arrested he said, “I am not guilty. I laugh when people say about justice in UK, about human rights.
 
“There are none here. There is no such thing as justice here.”
 
Humans for Rights Network also identified 15 children who border forces wrongly classed as adults —with 14 spending time in adult prison under the new charges.

Teachers must push for a new pay battle

Posted on: February 27th, 2024 by Isabel

Teachers’ marching in central London in July (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Teachers in the NEU union in England and Wales will start a consultative ballot this weekend, lasting until 28 March, on taking national industrial action over funding and pay. The NEU conference meets the next week from 3 April. If the ballot is successful it will decide on whether to move to a formal strike ballot.

Every activist in the NEU must throw themselves into ensuring the indicative ballot is won with the highest possible turn out. The union will also trigger a parallel indicative ballot of support staff members once the employers’ pay offer for local government is announced.

Support staff are covered by local government negotiations with Unison, GMB and Unite unions also at the table. Last week over 300 NEU activists met in an online organising meeting called by several local districts to discuss how best to win the ballots. And this Thursday the NEU is holding an official all members national Zoom meeting to push the arguments for a Yes vote.

The government’s autumn budget means that if educators do not fight then schools face an avalanche of funding cuts. This will damage already savaged educational provision, especially for the most vulnerable students. Current spending plans point to at best a 1 percent pay rise for teachers from September—another real terms pay cut.

This would claw back half the 6.5 percent teachers got last year after national strikes. Last year’s settlement was not good enough, which was why 15 percent of members rightly rejected the union leaders’ advice to accept. And it’s why hundreds got involved with the Educators Say Now grassroots network.

If the ballot is successful there will be a debate on how quickly to ballot for strikes and on the pattern and tempo of any action. Some will argue to hold off until we see the outcome of a general election later this year.

But with Labour offering nothing to schools a successful indicative should trigger a swift strike ballot and significant action this school year. Then we should announce dates quickly for hard-hitting action for new school year in September, regardless of the election.

Could AI fad signal another major crash?

Posted on: February 27th, 2024 by Sophie
AI ChatGPT economic markers economy

What does the scrabble for Al and ChatGPT mean for the global economy? (Picture: Mike MacKenzie

The political news continues to be bad. But you wouldn’t know it to judge by the state of the stock markets.  The major markets in the United States, Europe and Japan all reached record highs on Thursday last week.

There’s a broad mood of optimism because inflation is falling.  Central banks are, therefore, expected to start reversing the huge hike in interest rates they drove through in 2022-3.

But there are uncertainties about how quickly this will happen. The leap in share prices last week was centred on the technology sector that has proved so profitable in recent years.

But the star of the show wasn’t one of the big tech giants, but the previously obscure Silicon Valley company Nvidia. 

As the Financial Times put it, “Two years ago, Nvidia made most of its money selling graphics cards. It was a household name only to the most dedicated PC gamers.”

Yet last week Nvidia announced its after-tax profits had risen from £1.1 billion to more than £9.45 billion in the past year. 

In response its stock market valuation rose to £1.57 trillion, overtaking Amazon and Google to become the third most highly priced company in the world, after Microsoft and Apple. Why this transformation? Two letters— AI, artificial intelligence. 

The biggest recent tech sensation has come from the launch of forms of AI, such as ChatGPT, that use large language models.

Nvidia produces the bulk of the chips that are used to train and run these models. Here we find ourselves dealing with two levels of hype. The first is that ChatGPT and its like represent the moment at which machines begin to match and even to surpass human intelligence.

This is nonsense. What large language models do is to take and process vast amounts of information.  This then allows them to predict the best answers to questions put to them. 

Noam Chomsky—not just a great anti-imperialist but a theorist of language and mind—calls ChatGPT “sophisticated hi-tech plagiarism”.

He writes, “The human mind is not, like ChatGPT and its ilk, a lumbering statistical engine for pattern matching, gorging on hundreds of terabytes of data and extrapolating the most likely conversational response or most probable answer to a scientific question.”  

This then takes us to the second level of hype about the economic implications of AI. Many commentators argue that the likes of ChatGPT will hugely boost productivity and profits by making redundant many white-collar workers who process information—for example, in law, healthcare, and finance. 

Indeed, as Matteo Pasquinelli shows in his fascinating new book The Eye of the Master, AI historically has always functioned as a means of appropriating workers’ knowledge and reinforcing the hierarchies of power in production that bosses dominate.

Investment in AI chips has increased massively. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang says that the total value of all the equipment in data centres will rise to £1.57 trillion in the next four or five years. 

Other self-interested voices, for example, Sam Altman, the controversial boss of OpenAI, which developed ChatGPT, are also talking up the scale of AI investment. Even if there proves to be some merit in these predictions, Nvidia may not continue to dominate the market.  

The tech giants Microsoft, Amazon and Google have started to produce their own chips and chipmaker AMD is already catching up with Nvidia. The whole scene is beginning to resemble the dotcom bubble at the end of the 1990s, which was driven by hype about the internet, then its early days. Enough fibre-optic cable was laid to span the earth several times. 

Then the crash came in 2000— an early warning of the much greater global financial crisis of 2007-9.

One tech strategist told the Financial Times, “There is a dislocation between valuations versus fundamentals in some areas. That happened in 2000. It’s a trading casino.”

Islamophobia, Palestine and a rotten system

Posted on: February 27th, 2024 by Sophie
Palestine Islamophobia racism Tories

Muslim women leading the movement for Palestine (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The British ruling class is pushing a torrent of Islamophobia. It isn’t what has become the grimly usual level of racism and scapegoating—it’s a qualitative shift linked to the movement over Palestine. The long-standing attacks on Muslims have crashed into the mass movement in support of the Palestinians and against Zionism and imperialism.

That movement has mobilised millions in Britain, including hundreds of thousands of Muslims. And Palestine has increasingly become the defining political issue — a test of whether you stand with the oppressor or the oppressed.

We didn’t know the result of the by-election in Rochdale when Socialist Worker went to press. But we can guarantee it will show deep anger with both Tories and Labour.  

Millions of people in Britain are standing with oppressed Palestinians. In response, politicians are weaponising Islamophobia to attack the Palestine movement, scapegoating Muslims as “incompatible with British values”.

Politicians are demonising Palestinian activists as terrorists and antisemites, scapegoating Muslims as if they are “an enemy within”.  Islamophobia is used to divide up those who accept “British values” and those who don’t, where “British values” mean obedience to the state. 

Vile bigots such as Lee Anderson and Suella Braverman are overt in seeing Muslims as backwards and yet sneakily capable of grasping control in society. 

But Islamophobia infects every element of the Tory party, including those who, for their own reasons, cannot yet heartily endorse what Anderson and Braverman say.

And remember that Anderson was made Conservative deputy chair to be the rough end of the big business party, the former miner designed to appeal to the Red Wall constituencies. 

But Starmer can’t challenge the root of the latest explosion of Islamophobia. He wants to say don’t be nasty to Muslims but, at the same time, cheer on Israel’s genocidal policies in Gaza. 

Labour says Anderson is wrong. But a video emerged this week of shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves saying in October that the police should do “everything within their powers” to crack down on anti-Zionists in Britain.

She told a Labour Friends of Israel event that she understood concerns about “the anti-Israeli feeling that is allowed to flourish in some communities in Britain”. 

Which “communities” do you think she meant? The audience included Keir Starmer, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy. They applauded Reeves.

The surge of Islamophobia is a real threat to the working class. It will encourage the far right and the fascists. 

We need to escalate solidarity with Palestine and to hit back against Islamophobia that flows from the attack on the Palestinian movement. And Starmer’s Labour won’t do that.

  • Stand up to Islamophobia, Protest outside Conservative Party Head Office, Thu 29 Feb,  6pm,
    4 Matthew Parker St, London SW1H 9HQ. Called by Stand Up to Racism