Message from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Southampton Branch. Palestine in the aftermath of the Paris killings.

Dear All,

As you may be aware the situation in Gaza is currently as bleak as ever. Many people remain homeless following the massive destruction over the summer and are very vulnerable to the winter weather conditions. As a result infants are starting to die of cold and exposure. The Israelis have also continued to attack the Gaza strip on a regular basis, and unarmed farmers and fishermen are routinely shot at for merely going about their trade. As you may be aware Israel and the UK are both obliged to uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1860 on Gaza access which stipulates that Israel must open Gaza’s port, and facilitate free movement of goods and people between Gaza and the West Bank, and which obliges the UK government to make arrangements and guarantees to bring this about. This has not happened. This is in contrast to the UK’s robust action in response to other breaches of Security Council resolutions. Palestinians within the Gaza strip continue to suffer from countless other problems including mass unemployment and lack of access to safe drinking water.

In the aftermath of the horrendous events in Paris and the threat of extremism it is particularly important for us to achieve a just settlement for the Palestinian people. The Palestinians have demonstrated their firm solidarity with the people of Paris and in addition to statements released by both Fatah and Hamas condemning these senseless killings, residents of the West Bank cities of Hebron and Ramallah took to the streets in sympathy with the victims and a candlelit vigil took place in Gaza City in front of the French Cultural Centre. However, it is widely known that Islamic extremists use Western complicity in Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people as a powerful recruiting sergeant for their cause, and it is to be hoped that politicians in Europe and America will recognise this as a further reason to end the culture of impunity for Israeli criminality and oppression that currently prevails. The alternative scenario of maligning all forms of political Islam as ‘extremists’ and ignoring international law with respect to this issue, whilst continuing to provide support for on-going Israeli war crimes (in practice if not in theory) will only send more and more people into the hands of the actual extremists as it has the practical effect of making peaceful and democratic efforts at securing justice for the Palestinians and other Muslims in the Middle East look like an exercise in futility.

Although he faced fierce criticism for doing so you can be sure that David Ward MP was speaking for myself and millions of others around the world when he said that Netanyahu’s presence in Paris made him feel sick. People naturally react to what they perceive as unfairness and hypocrisy with frustration, anger, and sometimes (regrettably) violence. And whilst maligning human rights activists, like myself, with the audacity to point out uncomfortable truths might be one way of dealing with this issue it is not the right way! We can only hope that politicians in Westminster will recognise the moral and practical imperative, for both the UK and the Middle East, of addressing the current government’s hypocrisy and double standards with respect to these issues as a matter of urgency. In fact, coincidentally, when I last met with John Denham at the House of Commons he had just come out of a meeting related to security matters in which he had made this very point. I should stress, however, that this is not a party-political point and Sir Alan Duncan and Baroness Warsi have both made essentially the same the point that I am making.

And whilst there are many Labour MPs doing wonderful work on this issue there are others who promoting a very hard-line defence of Israeli aggression (and the distortions and misrepresentations of what is actually happening that are used to defend it). That said, we do of course want to make this an election issue and will be inviting all prospective Parliamentary candidates in Southampton to answer a simple questionnaire to let us know what they will do for the Palestinian people if elected, which I will be sending out to them shortly. I’ll then be sending you their responses to consider as a factor in deciding who you wish to vote for at the General Election. Obviously I will not be telling anyone how to vote because this is something that you will obviously be deciding for yourselves on the basis of multiple-issues.

*What you can do:*

Read Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Gaza Crisis Update, and use the e-tool to find and write to your MP.

Consider making a donation to Medical Aid for Palestinians’ Gaza Winter Crisis Appeal if you’ve not yet done so.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Waterhouse, Branch Secretary – Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign Website Blog

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On Sue Marsh, Maximus, and Moving On

the void

Sue-Marsh-cartoon

It is hard to accept when someone you trusted has stabbed you in the back.  It is unsuprising that there are those who cling to the – frankly fucking ludicrous notion – that the appoinment of a prominent claimant and disability campaigner to a highly paid role with Maximus represents a cunning plan by Sue Marsh to take down the system from the inside.  Or that she is still working for claimants really, not the people who are paying her £75,000 a year.  The sad truth is that seemingly nice people do shitty things for a lot less money than that every single day.  No matter what lies Sue has told herself, and us to justify this betrayal, do not believe for a second that it is Maximus who are being played.

Maximus are not idiots.  They are as slick a bunch of bastards as you are likely to find…

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Bus Action Group (West Dorset) public demonstration 19th January 09:30

If you have a vehicle join the convoy from the nationwide bus stop in bridport at 8.15am to Dorchester county hall.
Bus Action Group (West Dorset) facebook.
bridbus

Two more direct action successes, together we win!

together we winRotting house, rotten landlord.

We were just about to share Bristol Solidarity Network’s call out for another comm’s blockade against Jabbar Mohammed of Central Estate Agency and the slum landlord Ernie Biela, this time over a ‘missing’ £800 deposit. After a bit of buck-passing between landlord and agency the deposit has been ‘found’. Solnet have received an email from CEA with a deposit protection certificate attached. We still have a fight on for the necessary repairs, so watch this space for updates.

Recently we asked for solidarity for a long-serving housing association employee whose place of work had been moved miles away from his home and his pay slashed making the job unsustainable for him. Another win. Mike is being made redundant, as he requested, and thanks all those who participated.

We received the following inspirational message from him:

“I could never accept what is fundamentally unjust. I would advise anyone in a similar position to stoke up the fire in the belly and keep fighting. Do not be divided, Don’t accept what is unjust or it will become the norm. Thanks again for the support. M”

You see, it works! We recommend you join a solidarity network or get together with your friends, colleagues and neighbours and start your own, link up with the rest of us. We can help you fight, all we ask is you do the same for others. There is strength in numbers. Wage theft, bad housing, police harassment, bullying at work, evictions, workfare, deportations, racism, sexism, homophobia, all can be resisted.

Please take a moment to support ZSP union members at Amazon.

Click here to send a message to the exploiter.

For better working conditions in Amazon!

Support the struggle of workers at two Amazon fulfillment centers in Poland for better working conditions!
sad_amazonAs the Amazon workers in UK, France and Germany have organized themselves and have even gone on strike, Amazon decided it would be profitable for them to find a cheaper workforce, more desperate for employment. They opened two centers in Poland, where the wages are only a quarter of those in Germany. The warehouse mostly services orders for other countries, especially Germany.

The working conditions are even worse than in other countries. Not only the low pay and long hours. Some Amazon workers, especially those hired by agencies, complain of a number of problems including late payments, incorrect payments, not having the mandatory health insurance payments, etc. etc. There is also the matter of workers in one center having a higher rate than in the other.

Click here to send a message to the exploiter.

Guest Post: Oisin Gilmore on Charlie Hebdo and “Freedom of Speech”.

Soundmigration

Charlie Hebdo…

Hedo

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent etc. This is equally true when we just don’t know the facts we need to digest. I know a little about Charlie Hebdo. After Ireland and the UK, I know the media and intellectual and political climate in France better than anywhere else. But, still, I know very little.

Although to be honest, I think what Charlie Hebdo did or didn’t do isn’t really that important. Regardless of what they said, yesterday was indefensible. Even if Charlie Hebdo were racist islamophobe fascists, it would be indefensible.

But, I think something can be said more broadly about liberal republicanism that might be pertinent here.

The fact that this happened in France seems somehow relevant. We hear repeated in commentary how France is the home of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, indeed it is the official motto of the French Republic. In a…

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Liberté Égalité Hypocrisie: Middle Class Freedom and The France You Don’t See

Self Certified

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIf the pen was really mightier than the sword, then we’d be living in a communist utopia by now. If words were more powerful than bullets, then the French state would commission their best journalists to write a scathing critique of the Charlie Hebdo killers instead of sending heavily armed cops after them. If we really had freedom of speech and freedom of expression, then the Charlie Hebdo attack would probably not have happened. Yet, words and images are powerful and power should be distributed evenly. Everyone should have freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression in capitalist society is a bit like the concept of freedom in the old southern confederacy. It’s a freedom for those with the freedom to exercise it. More accurately termed, freedom of the press, is just that; Freedom for those with a platform to reach millions, to use that platform to…

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