On 22 December Constantina Kuneva, a Bulgarian migrant worker and union activist, was the victim of an attack using sulphuric acid while returning home from her workplace. She was seriously wounded, losing the use of one eye and of her vocal chords and she is still in a hospital intensive care unit.
Almost one month after that scandalous attack, the Greek unions complain that the “investigations to locate the perpetrators are effectively at point zero, in stark contrast to the dazzling speed of the authorities in cases against workers and strike action!” Neither eye witness reports nor laboratory tests have been used in this case. The victim’s statement has not yet been recorded, despite the fact that she can now communicate in writing.
The Israeli-Palestininan Workers’ Advice Centre (WAC-MAAN) has called for workers to pressure their governments to demand that Israel cease its assault on Hamas in Gaza.
Israel claims that it is defending its citizens in the South. But these people are working-class, and the government has shown by its policies that the lives and security of workers mean nothing to it: its priorities are with the rich.
[...] The government encourages the formation of a “precarious work force” in order to help employers and investors.
The same government that started the present war has sent tens of thousands into unemployment, while destroying the social security net in accordance with its neoliberal agenda.
WAC-MAAN opposes the war on Gaza and calls for an immediate cease fire. After the war ends, we know, hundreds of thousands on both sides of the border will remain poor and unemployed. Palestinian workers are shut jobless behind the separation wall, while their families languish in poverty and hunger. Israeli workers, for their part, are starting to feel the pinch of the global financial crisis, with higher levels of unemployment and further attacks on earlier social gains.
As WAC-MAAN reminds us, Hamas rockets do not just affect Israeli Jews, but also Arab Israelis and Palestinian workers — on 29 December, Hani al Mahdi was killed and nine others were injured by a Grad rocket fired from Gaza.
The Hamas strategy of indiscriminate rocket attacks and suicide-murder of civilians in Israel is equally as deplorable as the similarly unselective and haphazard attacks on Palestinian cities which constitute Israel’s current ‘defensive’ strategy.
The violence in Gaza suits the agendas of both the eliminationist, antisemitic, Hamas and the Israeli rejectionist, racist right. On the Hamas side, Jews are behind the French and the Communist Revolutions and there is no war that broke out anywhere without [Jews'] fingerprints on it, and on the other, Hamas’ response to Israeli bombardment is ‘proof’ that Palestians are ‘terrorists’ and ‘justifies’ the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land and denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.
Hamas spews violent antisemitic hatred, and despite a cloak of anti-imperialist rhetoric, is an implacable enemy of socialism and independent workers’ organisations. Hamas intimidates and threatens workers and attacks trade union leaders, tortures and murders political opponents and those it designates as ‘collaborators’ and enforces the ‘veiling’ of women in areas under it’s control. While Hamas was considered less corrupt than the opportunistic and institutionally corrupt Fatah (themselves never turning down a ride on the antisemitic bandwagon when it suits them), Hamas ministers have been found travelling with suitcases full of millions of dollars for which they are unable to offer any explanation. Hamas is another bourgeois elite parasitic on the Palestinian workers whom they use as cannon fodder in their reactionary nationalistic war with both secular Palestinian society and the Israeli State.
The Israeli blockade and isolation of Gaza for the two years since Hamas were elected, has had the unintended — or intended — consequence of ensuring that Hamas has not been given enough room to ‘fail’, as the people of Gaza are concerned with the day to day struggle for survival. Fatah has provided no way forward and Hamas promises a social and political disaster for Palestinians, while Israel’s divide and rule strategy and continuing brutal occupation and isolation of Palestinian lands will bring nothing but further chaos to Jews, Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs alike. The Palestinian and Israeli ruling classes have failed to provide peace and security for their respective peoples, despite majority support for peace on both ‘sides’ of the conflict. It is time for ordinary Israelis and Palestinians to join together to realise the aspirations of peace and self-determination for both peoples.
DEMONSTRATE AGAINST BRITAIN’S RACIST IMMIGRATION LAWS
Show solidarity with asylum seekers and immigrants
TUESDAY 6 January 2009 1–2PM
Outside the UK Immigration Service Communications House
210 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BR
(nearest tube — Old Street )
SUPPORT THIS DEMONSTRATION
- To show vile Immigration Minister Phil Woolas that not everyone shares his racist views.
- In solidarity with asylum seekers and immigrants
- To let the public know what Communications House is. The building looks anonymous but immigration reporting centres are places of fear for asylum seekers, who have to report to them monthly, weekly or even several time s a week. They are places of detention and qualify for inspection by the Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Monthly demonstration called by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
You know things are bad in the United Arab Emirates when The Times publishes an article which condemns the exploitation of migrant workers, racism and lack of political freedoms.
Fans of Dubai often witter on about the lack of crime and the affordable luxury but this comes at a heavy price. The economy — which may turn out to have been literally and metaphorically built on sand — has been propped up by imported labourers who work six or six and a half days a week on 12-hour shifts, toiling in the desert sun for a daily wage that often amounts to no more than the cost of a pint of beer. The city also has no elections and no political parties. And in the UAE it is quite acceptable for employers to specify the preferred nationality or gender of applicants in job advertisements and for Europeans to be paid more than Filipinos or Indians who are doing the same work.
The migrant labourers who build Dubai’s shining towers, are kept out of sight and out of mind in employer-run labour camps well away from cash-cow tourists, and authorities routinely crack down on worker protests against non-paid and low wages and shoddy living conditions, deporting ‘trouble-makers’.
The UAE has just rejected calls to legalise trade unions for foreign workers. The goverment claims that it has already done enough to protect workers’ rights, with measures against people trafficking and to ensure faster payment of wages. The linked article points out the obvious corollary, that the Gulf ruling classes are afraid of the power of organised labour at the head of a large mass of exploited, dissatisfied, imported workers.
Liberal reaction to the hilarious spectacle of shit eating itself — the internal leak of a recent BNP membership list, containing the names of some 12,000 members — is both a measure of the degree to which racist discourse has become mainstream in recent years, and also the laughable inadequacy of the liberal response to fascism. To liberals, the murderous racist ideology of the BNP is an abstraction which remains unrealised in their comfortable — usually — white, male, middle class lives, near the top of the socio-economic ‘food chain’. In the liberal mind, BNP ideology is merely ‘words’. Words which will wither and die the more publicity and exposure they receive, as if ‘bad speech’ in one place is somehow cancelled out by ‘good speech’ in another. Words which remain miraculously unconnected to the violence and intimidation experienced daily by minorities, migrants and asylum seekers. The BNP and other fascists are slightly naughty boys, who should be countered not by excluding them from public life and political discourse, but by occasional tutting and refusing to ‘drink with’ them — or cutting them dead at the ATM queue.
Certainly, the liberals say, fascists must not be excluded from labour organisations, for these are nothing but mutual societies whose sole purpose is to argue for pay and conditions of members. Unions should not concern themselves with anything outside narrow financial self-interest of their members. This is a manifestation of what Lenin called Nur-Gewerkschaftlerei — trade-unions-only-ism or ‘yellow’ unionism — in which unions are subordinated to bourgeois ideology and act as functionaries of the bourgeois state, not as agents of class struggle, which is contrary to the interests of the ruling class. The liberal’s wrinkled-nosed distaste for class war goes hand in hand with support for continuing capitalist exploitation of workers. The presence of fascists and racists in labour organisations, whose values they do not share, diverts the focus of workers from class struggle and the fight against capitalism.
Fascism and its close cousin Nazism are the ugly outriders of capitalism in crisis, ‘safety valves’ which vent the anger of the petit bourgeoisie and their tailenders away from the ruling class, towards the vulnerable and those targets of opportunity variously identified as ‘Other’ — whether Jews, Gypsies, Muslims, or other ‘ethnic’, cultural and sexual minorities — to whom are attributed blame for the perceived problems of the majority group. The alien Other is the enemy within, accused of decadence, cosmopolitanism and impurity, of undermining ‘western Christian values’ and waging war against ‘our way of life’. If the ‘Big Lie’ is simple enough and repeated often enough, people will eventually accept it as truth. In the midst of the present shrieking hysteria about the ‘threat’ posed to Britain by Muslims, ‘crypto-Muslims’, foreigners and asylum seekers, we hear nothing about travellers actually being evicted from their own land, or the children actually locked up despite having committed no crime, or the violence and intimidation actually experienced by migrants.
Liberals collude in this process of demonisation and externalisation of blame, supporting racist and discriminatory laws, playing up the ‘threat’ from the Other (sometimes obsessively so), while pretending that the BNP, far from being a criminal organisation, is merely a minor political party with slightly robust views on immigration — which after all, are not so different to their own. Britain, they assure themselves, does not ‘do’ extremism or political violence, without pausing to consider the massacres perpetrated by British imperialism, or the violent suppression of the Chartists, the Peterloo Massacre, the breaking of the General Strike, the violence of putting three million people out of work, or the nazi nail-bomber David Copeland and the murderers of Stephen Lawrence.
Unfortunately, the Littlejohn Left’s bourgeois moralism has been exposed again, with complaints that exposing BNP members isn’t the ‘done thing’, depite years of the Redwatch hate site publishing the names and addresses of socialists and antifascists. Frankly, this calls into question their seriousness about the antifascist struggle.
As Trotsky wrote in The Revolution Betrayed:
The motor force of progress is truth and not lies.
The ideology of the racist right is based on lies, lies which history shows us, dressed up in pseudo-respectable language, gather critical mass with repetition. If we do not utterly defeat the lies of the racist right, humanity risks descending into the same barbarism which recently so nearly destroyed it.
No accommodation with fascism. No compromise. ¡No Pasarán!