This post was originally published in January 2007. We repost it here as part of our Palestine Week posts, marking the 65th anniversary of the Nakba.
The Christian religion was (quite literally) born in Palestine. This is extremely important both for the cultural identity and economy of the country, but persecution by the Zionists has led many Christians to leave for other lands. Famous Palestinians of Christian descent include Edward Said and George Habash.
Religious tourism, especially to East Jerusalem and Bethlehem is vital for the Palestinian economy, not only for hotels and restaurants, but also for the sale of handicraft religious souvenirs (the picture shows olive wood crosses being made in a small factory in Bethlehem).
The call by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for Anglicans to visit Bethlehem should be widely publicised, both for the economic benefit, but also so that Christians can bear witness to the destruction of Christian communities by the Israeli occupation. The British Foreign Office acts as a firm friend of Zionism by continuing to advise against travel to the West Bank, despite the fact that tourism to Palestine is safer than visiting Florida. The Foreign office advice often includes details of alleged security concerns that are several months out of date. The practical impact is that most travel insurance policies always exclude travel to areas where a Foreign Office caution is in place, which severely deters many travellers. (Write to your MP about this!) Click to continue reading →
Seven point plan to create jobs and increase the value of the Welsh workforce
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has launched the party’s Plan C to move the Welsh economy forward, a response to the current economic problems facing Wales.
The seven point plan includes a ‘buy local’ policy to improve Welsh public procurement, a business bank for Wales to assist small companies in Wales, support for a Welsh Metro in south-east Wales and improved research, development and training facilities in Wales to help Wales refocus towards a sustainable economy. Click to continue reading →
Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children should be enough to convince its supporters that something is badly wrong. The utterly disgraceful way children are treated – arrested for the smallest of crimes, tried as adults in military courts, often made to sign confessions in Hebrew (often after having been left in solitary confinement with no visits from parents or lawyers), and then given sentences out of all proportion to any of those that would be given to Israeli children – should be an international scandal. The truth can be too much to bear, perhaps. If you support Israel, you are supporting the arbitrary detention and torture of children, full stop.
The truth is, huge numbers of Palestinian children have been arrested and locked away in Israeli dungeons. But most of it happens away from the cameras. The very fact that Palestinian children are subject to a completely different justice system to Israeli children is just one more reason to say: Israel is an apartheid state.
If you want to compare, watch the video below, which shows Zionist settlers attacking a Palestian village under the full gaze of the military. There are no arrests.
Now their efforts have been rewarded by trade unionists in the South West, with reps picking up the South West TUC ‘s Campaign and Organising Award at a special ceremony at Exeter City Football Club. Click to continue reading →
On 15 May each year the Palestinian people commemorate al-Nakba (the Catastrophe), named after the forced expulsion of 750,000 men, women, and children from their homes and villages in a process involving the expropriation of 78% of Palestinian land on the way to the establishment of the State of Israel. This was declared on 14 May 1948 by David Ben-Gurion, the Jewish state’s first prime minister and one of its most celebrated national heroes.
The controversy surrounding this period in history, which to Israel and its supporters is referred to as the ‘War of Independence’, remains the subject of sharp debate, its ramifications continuing to underpin over six decades of misery and injustice for succeeding generations of Palestinians and Palestinian refugees.
One of the great injustices arising from this historical event is that the right of return of Palestinian refugees to the land from which they or their parents and grandparents were expelled has been denied by Israel since. Compounding this injustice further is that any person of Jewish faith – recent converts included – is automatically granted Israeli citizenship and the right to immigrate to the country even if they can trace no family or physical connection to the land beforehand. Moreover many of these new immigrants end up living in any of the number of illegal settlements that have and continue to be constructed on Palestinian land occupied by Israel since 1967, thus adding insult to the injury of the original sin of mass ethnic cleansing. Click to continue reading →
The Green leader of Brighton & Hove City Council Jason Kitcat recently mentioned that the pay bill for Brighton & Hove Council is £180m.
By this he is referring to the total “controllable” wage bill. i.e that which is not subject to national agreement. (The total budget for the council is £750m)
We have also heard that around 6,000 of the total 8,000 workforce receive allowances. And also that 80% of these staff will see no change to their pay.
Of the other 20%, some of the hardest hit are the 260 refuse & parks workers at the CityClean & CityParks departments. They are 4.3% of the total B&H staff with a total wage bill of around £5m. Which is just 2.8% of the total overall wage bill of the council.
So, these 4.3% of staff receive just 2.8% of the wage bill. i.e. they are some of the lowest paid and are facing cuts of up to £4,000 per annum, with the average loss around £2,000 on top of losing 8 days from their holiday allowance. Click to continue reading →
A new community centre in Tower Hamlets – to help people in one of the most deprived areas of the UK with employment and welfare issues – was opened yesterday in a partnership bringing together the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Unite and Barclay’s Bank.
“RMT’s position is clear, not only should there be an early in/out referendum but also we are calling unequivocally for British withdrawal.
“Across Europe, and specifically in Spain and Greece which are at the eye of the storm, it is the working class who are suffering the most as democracy is ripped apart and the EU and the central bank demand cuts to jobs, wages and pensions and wholesale privatisation of public assets.
“RMT will not sit back and allow this debate to be dominated by UKIP and the right wing of the Tory Party. Ministers like Michael Gove are now only raising the issue of withdrawal out of pure political opportunism. He could not care less about the rates of youth unemployment across Europe, the only concern of these Tory “Johnny Come Lately’s” is saving their own political skins.
“RMT will continue to set out the left wing, pro-worker case for British withdrawal from the EU that puts jobs, standards of living, democracy and public services centre stage. The truth is that you cannot be pro-EU and anti-austerity when the whole structure of the European project is dominated by the interests of bankers and big business, the driving forces behind the imposition of austerity measures across the Continent.”
Ignore those who boast that at least this time it’s merely about tactics, not policy. They would like you to conclude that because the Tory party at Westminster favours an in/out referendum, the current spat is a mere bagatelle. They are wrong, in the same way that any Tory politician who justifies attacking the leadership in public in the name of ideological rectitude should not be trusted with the electoral spoons. The party is divided on an issue that scarcely one in 10 voters lists as a priority. The electorate will respond accordingly if this continues.
Ken Loach’s recent film Spirit of 45 brilliantly celebrates the triumphant mood that delivered a Labour landslide election victory at the end of World War Two and the establishment of both the Welfare State and nationalised public utilities. What is made less obvious was the essential anti-fascist character of the war which contributed so significantly to Labour’s victory. Perhaps, for entirely understandable reasons, this is because the Left finds it difficult to celebrate war, any war, whatever the cause. Yet to understand ’45 we also need to account for 1943, the year the tide turned against Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy. Labour’s victory was only made possible because people, including crucially those in the armed services, knew what was at stake in the battle they were fighting.
The victory of the Red Army at Stalingrad in February 1943 had already proved that Hitler’s previously invincible Blitzkrieg offensives that had successfully invaded and then established hateful occupation regimes in France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Greece and elsewhere could be defeated. The immediate likelihood of a seaborne invasion of Great Britain had receded too. The Communist Party-led campaign to open a Second Front in the West was not only its most popular in its history but also helped to change the mood of the nation. Building on the party’s anti-fascist credentials from Cable Street and the Spanish Civil War’s International Brigades the campaign helped the CP recover from its disastrous description 1939-41 of this as an imperialist war. In 1945, something not mentioned in Ken Loach’s film, two Communist Party MPs were elected as part of the Landslide with the party’s leader Harry Pollitt coming within a few hundred votes of being elected as a third Communist MP.
I know that many of you will be impatient for my promised tribute to George Jones, following the great man’s recent death; and I am working on it.
But in the meantime, the release of Pistol Annies second album, Annie Up, is worth mentioning. Featuring country royalty, Miranda Lambert, alongside Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, the singing trio build on Miranda’s edgy appeal. Click to continue reading →
Hawking, who has previously visited Israel on four occasions, had originally intended to attend the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, noting that “this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank.”
However, the Cambridge professor of cosmology received a number of emails from Palestinian colleagues.
“They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster,” he reported.
Israel Maimon, who chairs the Israeli Presidential Conference, declared Hawking’s decision “outrageous and wrong.” Click to continue reading →
GMB members working in the Cityclean Department of Brighton & Hove City Council are to be balloted for industrial action over plans to make huge cuts to their take home pay which are being proposed by the Council’s Green Party administration.
Rob Macey, GMB Senior Organiser with Southern Region’s Legal, Political and Campaigns Department has written a very clear account for Red Pepper of the workers’ case. I recommend you read Rob’s article in full, especially as he explains well the shennanigens in the Green group of councillors, and the sharp practice of the shifty council leader, Jason Kitcat.
In January 2013 the council announced that they would seek to introduce a new pay and allowances system for staff. Importantly, they have provided no proper legal rationale for doing this, and have refused to say what has changed since 2009 when agreements were made which were certified as legally sound at the time.
The council’s framework for implementation of the proposals was contained in a pay modernisation paper submitted to the Policy and Resources committee. The document recommended delegating responsibility for the negotiation and implementation to officers rather than elected representatives.
Councillors present voted by a majority to accept the recommendations of the paper, with Green and Conservative councillors voting in favour and Labour councillors against.
During the negotiations the council issued a press release indicating that the Cityclean Service would operate on bank holidays. They also briefed ward councillors on a planning application to allow this to happen. This is significant, as the effect of doing so means the loss of ‘make up pay’ for employees taking on the additional work and hours after a bank holiday, which is paid if strict conditions are met. This action highlights a blatant lack of meaningful consultation as it is clear a decision had already been made.
As the negotiations progressed it was clear to see that the council were not prepared to budge and that little was to change between their initial proposal and what would became their ‘best and final’ offer. A large number of GMB members would still stand to lose up to £4,000 per year, and 260 members at the Council’s Cityclean department were to be particularly badly affected, with an average loss of £2,000 rising to £4,000 for many.
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