Message from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Southampton Branch.

Dear All,

in view of the incessant accusations of anti-Semitism that have been flying around it seems necessary to try to explain what must seem like a confusing phenomena to many. In broad outline the situation can be understood as follows:

1) Israeli leaders have always sought to conflate Israel with Jewish identity. For example, Eli Groner, US-born Director General of the Prime Minister’s office has described Benjamin Netanyahu as “the leader of the Jewish world.” Countless other examples could be given. Some people believe such statements and on that basis develop hatred towards Jewish people generally believing that they are all like Benjamin Netanyahu and support the oppression of the Palestinians. Such attitudes can reasonably be described as “anti-Semitic” and must of course be condemned. However, it is a different form of anti-Semitism from the historical anti-Semitism of the 1930s in that it is based upon their assumed support for Israeli oppression and not hatred for Jewish people simply because they are Jewish.

2) Israeli leaders and pro-Israel lobby groups and media commentators are well-aware of the defamatory potential of accusations of anti-Semitism. Wishing to discredit them they regularly accuse all Palestinian rights groups and activists of anti-Semitism simply on the basis of their opposition to the actions of the state of Israel and its oppression of the Palestinians.

3) Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party this defamation campaign has gone into hyper-drive. Accusations of anti-Semitism have been chosen by the right as the weapon of choice to use against Jeremy Corbyn and many people who should know better have been taken in by this including Owen Jones and John McDonnell. Many newspaper columnists and MPs have jumped on the bandwagon.

4) Palestinian rights activists have always sought to differentiate clearly between Israel and Jewish people and opposition to Israeli policies and anti-Semitism. We have a moral responsibility to try to ensure that legitimate criticism of Israel does not fuel hatred towards Jewish people and we have a right to defend our campaign for peace, equality and justice from unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism.

Whether Naz Shah’s tweet was or wasn’t appropriate is a matter of debate but there is no rational reason for describing it as anti-Semitic because it said nothing whatsoever about Jews. I personally agree with the views that Tony Greenstein, a founding member of PSC who is of Jewish descent himself, has expressed on this matter:

“Naz Shah has confessed to her comments being anti-Semitic.  Isn’t that enough proof?  No.  The defendants in the Stalin purge trials also confessed to being Trotsky’s agents and more.  It is perfectly possible to create a psychological atmosphere such that people will confess to all manner of things, even though they are not guilty.  Police interrogators have, throughout the years, been quite skilled in obtaining false confessions without the need to beat people up or torture them.

So let me say it here – there is *nothing* anti-Semitic in what Naz Shah has said.  She made what was quite a flippant humorous joke in the midst of something that was anything but funny – the merciless use of American planes, white phosphorous and the most modern missiles and rocket technology against a people who had nothing except pea crackers to fire back with (the ‘rockets’ that Israel used as a pretext for the bombardment and invasion).   Let us not forget that 2,200 people were murdered in Gaza including 551 ‘terrorist’ children.” See his full article here

The accusations of anti-Semitism against Ken Livingstone appear to be equally without foundation. You can read a full transcript of his comments here.

For a comprehensive analysis of this phenomena I would recommend this talk by Dr Norman Finkelstein

It is noteworthy that at the same time as these inflammatory accusations are getting massive media attention Israel’s on-going human-rights violations against the Palestinians are being studiously ignored. In addition to the planned demolition of two Bedouin Palestinian villages and the countless other human rights abuses taking place, threats are being made against Palestinian rights activists in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. An especially alarming statement came from Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence. The term alludes to “targeted assassinations” which is used to describe Israel’s policy of targeting members of Palestinian armed groups.

You can read a full report of this published by Amnesty International here

Please sign and share this petition calling upon the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the UN High Commissioner to speak out strongly against this:

Kind regards, Adam Waterhouse Branch Secretary – Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign

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Independent radio station in Rojava set on fire, executive director threatened with death.

Received by e mail – W.S.

Press release: Independent radio station in Rojava, Syria, set on fire, executive director threatened with death if broadcasting did not stop

Amudah, 27 April 2016 – ARTA FM’s headquarters in Amudah, north-east Syria, was set on fire last night, and its executive director was threatened with death at gun point if the independent community radio station did not stop broadcasting.(1)

Around 11pm last night (26 April), five masked men and armed with guns turned up at ARTA’s headquarters in Amudah as the last staff members were leaving. Another group of armed men were waiting outside the home of ARTA FM’s Executive Director, a popular musician known as Sefqan. They pointed their guns to his head and that of his driver and threatened to kill them if they did not comply. They then led him to the Amudah Cemetery and said they would “take away his soul” if ARTA FM did not stop. “We’re fighting a war and you’re talking about bullshit,” they said.

Last week heavy fighting broke out in the nearby city of Qamishli between the local Kurdish security forces, known as Asayish, and the local People’s Protection Units (YPG), on the one hand, and Syrian regime forces and militias, on the other. Dozens from both sides were killed and injured before a truce was agreed. ARTA FM covered the fighting extensively and became one of the main reliable sources of information for the local population.(2)

Sefqan was then led back from the cemetery to ARTA’s HQ, where he and two guards were handcuffed downstairs, while the armed men went upstairs, ransacked the offices and set the building on fire. They reportedly took some of the radio’s laptops with them. As they left, the armed men threatened Safqan that they “will kill you if you ever switch on that radio again.” Fire fighters and the Asayish (the local security forces) arrived about half an hour later and took Sefqan and the guard away for investigation.

ARTA has demanded that the Self Administration authorities open a serious, independent investigation into the incident, pointing out the following facts:

– Amudah is surrounded by a trench and is full of Asayish checkpoints, making it near-impossible for outsiders to enter the city. Only armed units under the Self Administration authority can move around freely.

– The ARTA building is next door to the Self Administration’s Guest House in Amudah, and other important which is constantly guarded by the Asayish.

– The electricity was cut off in the neighbourhood during the ‘operation’, even though it had almost not been cut off in the last few days.

A statement by the Executive Council of the Self Administration in the Jazeera Canton condemned the attack and promised to open an investigation.

Siruan H. Hossein, ARTA FM’s founder and General Director, said: “We will not be intimidated by these cowardly acts and stop our work to strengthen free, independent media in the region. However, we also do not want to put our staff at risk. We demand that the Self Administration authorities immediately open a serious, independent investigation and punish those responsible for this crime. We also demand that serious measures are taken to protect media workers, civil society activists and civilians in general. That is what the People’s Protection Units are supposed to be there for.”

Notes for editors:

1. ARTA for Media and Development is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation registered in Germany. It was founded in February 2013 by a group of Syrian-Kurdish activists and media professionals based in and outside Syria.

ARTA FM, a project of ARTA for Media and Development, is an independent, multilingual community radio station broadcasting in the north-eastern parts of Syria. It is also available online (arta.fm) and on the NileSat satellite network. It started broadcasting in July 2013 from Amuda, where ARTA is now headquartered.

ARTA FM broadcasts daily 15 hours of live programmes and news in four languages: Kurdish, Arabic, Syriac and Armenian – the languages of the local communities inhabiting the northern parts of Syria, along the Turkish borders. It is listened to by wide sections of the population in the regions of Amuda, Qamishli, Malikiyya (Derik), Ras al-‘Ayn and ‘Ayn al-‘Arab (Kobani).

2, See these testimonies by listeners about ARTA FM’s coverage of the Qamishli fighting last week: https://www.facebook.com/artaradio/videos/609857142501295/

Rebellious Weekend in Bristol – Bookfair & May Day !

Bristol Anarchist Federation

bookfairThis Saturday see the eighth incarnation of the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair! For those who haven’t been before, it involves over a thousand people listening to talks and participating in workshops from a variety authors, editors, activists, historians and local and nationwide campaign groups. It will cover everything from Mental Health & the NHS, to a world without borders, money and prisons via environmental campaigning and the housing struggle. There will also be an Art Area (and an exhibit straight out of Dismaland), kids space, vegan cafe and over 50 stalls with all the books, badges, T shirts, Patches, zines, guides, papers and information you could want!

Apparently this is what a Labour 'Party' looks like... this Saturday come and see how the Anarchists Party... we promise its far more exciting! Apparently this is what a Labour ‘Party’ looks like. This Saturday come and see how the Anarchists Party… we promise its far more exciting!

There will also be a fundraising after party hosted with Bristol LadDIYfest kicking off at 7.30pm at the Stag…

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Our comrades at Hastings Solidarity support striking doctors and rail conductors.

RMTpicket

docspicket

Taking a step back and trying to look ahead…

Bristol Mayday Radical Workers’ Bloc and action. 1st May (obviously).

BRISTLEMAYDAY

Invitation from Bristle Afed: it’s the day after bookfair so why not stay over for the party?

Calling all Anarchists, rebels, radicals, and workers who are sick of taking shit! Let’s give the politicians & bosses the Class War they’ve started!

The first of May is International Workers Day, it’s a time to come together to commemorate the struggles of the past and push forward the struggles of today.

Join us on Bristol’s May Day march organised by the trades council, just look for the red & black flags on the day. We’re looking for as many people as possible to join us in a surprise action on the day as well.

The Bloc is backed by Bristol Anarchist Federation, and Bristol Solidarity Federation, get in touch if you’d like your group to get involved as well.

Farcebook event
Bristol Anarchist Bookfair (day before May Day)
Info on the Trades Council Event
History of May Day

Military spending is the capitalist world’s fuel

Systemic Disorder

It is common for activists to decry the enormous sums of money spent on the military. Any number of social programs, or schools, or other public benefits could instead be funded.

Not least is this the case with the United States, which by far spends the most of any country on its military. The official Pentagon budget for 2015 was $596 billion, but actual spending is far higher. (Figures for 2015 will be used because that is the latest year for which data is available to make international comparisons.) If we add military spending parked in other portions of the U.S. federal government budget, we’re up to $786 billion, according to a study by the War Resisters League. Veterans benefits add another $157 billion. WRL also assigns 80 percent of the interest on the budget deficit, and that puts the grand total well above $1 trillion.

The War Resisters…

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