meeting for international women’s day

by David Broder

On Friday 6th March a meeting was held at the University of London Union to mark International Women’s Day.

Tamar Katz, a young Israeli woman who was repeatedly imprisoned for refusing to join the Israeli army, spoke alongside Laura Schwartz from Feminist Fightback, the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq (Hekmatist) member Houzan Mahmoud, the Independent journalist Terri Jude, Green Party MEP Jean Lambert and Maria Exall from the Communication Workers’ Union.

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Particularly inspiring was the story told by the young Israeli woman who had rejected militarism and the ‘normal’ path of the country’s youths in favour of a principled stance of solidarity with Palestinians, despite repeated imprisonment as well as the criticism she was subject to whenever the question of her age – and thus her refusal to join the IDF – was raised. This speech was warmly received by the audience. Continue reading “meeting for international women’s day”

the commune issue 3 – out now!

The March 2009 issue of The Commune is now on sale. £1 a copy, email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to order. Click here for pdf.

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The new paper features the following articles:

Don’t moan, organise! – editorial on the recession

Factory occupation in Ukraine – by a comrade in Kyiv

Unions and left parties let down Greek youth uprising – by Valia Kaimaki

Lessons of the oil refinery wildcat strikes – by Gregor Gall

The impossibility of class struggle in the mind of the BBC – by Joe Thorne

Occupations for Gaza: activism goes back to university – by Taimour Lay

More arrests in Iran – by Sam Parsa

School students get organised – interview with Tali Janner-Klausner

Lassalle’s state socialism – from Hal Draper’s Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution

Self-management and the environment – by Steve Ryan

demo stops IDF propaganda meeting in london, 29th january

Report and photos by Jack Staunton

On the evening of Thursday 29th January a 100-strong demonstration took place outside a building hosting a meeting  addressed by Israeli army (IDF) colonel Geva Rapp. The colonel had planned to come and advertise a pro-war book, tell stories of his military career and preach “unity among Israelis”, but anti-war activists stopped the event going ahead.

The turnout – overwhelmingly young people – was quite impressive given that the protests were organised with just a few hours’ advance notice of the meeting taking place. The IDF propaganda rally had not been publicly advertised, but a leaked circular email explained:

“London Jsocs will be hosting Colonel Geva Rapp, the head of the ground operations in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead)! This talk should be extremely interesting and valuable. However, please do not talk about this event on facebook due to security concerns and current high tension surrounding the conflict.”

True, the organisers were exaggerating somewhat the role of Geva Rapp in the war: but nonetheless succeeded in displaying their enthusiasm for the attack on the Palestinians and furthermore no doubt their “editorialising” helped attract more people to the anti-war demonstration. Some (blurry) photos and comments on the action below: Continue reading “demo stops IDF propaganda meeting in london, 29th january”

photo-report of 24th january london gaza demo

by David Broder

On Saturday 24th took place the last of the major London demonstrations against the war in Palestine, after almost four weeks of embassy pickets and mass marches. Coming a few days after the end of the war but with a continuing siege of the Palestinians, the protest attracted around 2,500 people. Three people were arrested after clashes with police FIT squads (i.e. cops taking pictures of demonstrators’ faces).

This leaflet was distributed by a network of anti-capitalists who have worked together on Palestine solidarity. Some photos and comments on the day appear below. Continue reading “photo-report of 24th january london gaza demo”

the commune issue 2 published

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february 2009 – £1 + postage and packing, email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to order

click here for pdf or see individual articles below

barack obama is lipstick on a pig – by Ernie Haberkern

civil service pay dispute: defeat or victory? – by Steve Ryan, Wrexham PCS

class struggle on the london underground – interview with Vaughan Thomas, RMT London region chair (LUL)

occupations: the way to win? – guest editorial by Gregor Gall

the people’s charter: a charter for change? – by Chris Kane (online only)

militancy and mobilisation in the anti-war movement

the mindset of israelis in the gaza conflict – by Solomon Anker

anti-semitism and the war – by Aled Thomas

unemployment: a view from the front line – by Christine Hulme, PCS DWP

welfare ‘reform’, the brown premiership and the recession – by Chris Grover, Lancaster University

what does ‘socialism or barbarism’ mean today? – by François Chesnais

call centres: the workers’ enquiry – review by Jack Staunton

ukraine’s ‘new left’ and the russian ‘gas war’ – by Milan Lelich

the socialist movement in iran – by Sam Parsa

political platform of the commune


report of 17th january palestine demo in london

After last week’s massive march to London’s Israeli embassy in opposition to the Israeli state’s attack on the people of Gaza, a much smaller set of regional actions was called for Saturday 17th by the leaders of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War Coalition. In London, a rally in Trafalgar Square was followed by a “women and children only” protest at Downing Street.

However, as an eyewitness who spoke to The Commune reports, not everyone was happy with such conservative ideas of how to protest:

The rally in Trafalgar Square attracted a few thousand people. There were the usual speeches: Tony Benn called for the RAF to drop humanitarian aid over Gaza… When the women and children’s march headed for Downing Street at about 4 o’ clock we tried to go with, but a steward kept repeating “You are neither a woman nor a child!” and held me back. Around one to two thousand people were left in the square.

At the same time, a few dozen people started heading down Cockspur Street, planning to go to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington but the police ‘kettled’ them [ surrounded them] right there and told them they couldn’t leave the square. People from the rally swarmed round them, breaking the police ‘kettle’ and freeing them. There was then a contingent of about 400 people, itself surrounded by police on horseback and with dogs… but this police line was also only one deep, and another group of 200 protesters broke through. Continue reading “report of 17th january palestine demo in london”

activists disrupt israel’s pr operation – report and video

Activists disrupted the offices of the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) in central London on the morning of Tuesday 13th. The lobby group’s media centre, which is playing a key role in Israel’s public relations operation during the assault on Gaza, was shut down as protesters occupied the building.

Photographs of civilian casualties from Gaza were pasted on to the computer screens of public relations executives, phone lines cut off to halt the organisation’s media rebuttal unit and leaflets thrown out of window on to the main road and handed out to staff pressing them to confront the truth about the human cost of Israeli aggression. Continue reading “activists disrupt israel’s pr operation – report and video”

occupations for gaza in london! get down to lse!

In our report on Saturday’s demonstration, we urged students to occupy university buildings.  A leaflet which some of us helped to distribute also called for university occupations.  With demonstrations outside the embassy dwindling, and the PSC seeking to demobilise the movement with their latest (sexist) call for a “women’s and children’s march” following another mind-numbing rally at Trafalgar Square, occupations are vital to take the movement to the next level.

Students at SOAS have already occupied, and the university has agreed to grant several of their demands (including banning the military from campus, and allowing the student union to run a series of events for Gaza there during the week).   Tonight LSE students have embarked upon their own occupation.  We need to support these!  Get down if you possibly can, student or not, and help to make every occupation a centre of discussion and organisation!  Find more about the occupations here:

SOAS occupation

LSE occupation [Map and travel instructions]

These occupations pose a question of social power – i.e. who runs the institutions that make up society – and doing so while raising the banner of Gaza. Street mobilisations alone will burn us out without posing these questions of power, and leave us with no alternative centres of organisation apart from the PSC and the STWC which are already trying to demobilise the movement. Isolated actions – such as the disruption of BICOM on Tuesday morning – are broadly positive, but don’t provide an organisational centre to counter the national NGOs, and don’t do anything to link the situation in Gaza to broader questions of politics and power. Occupations can also be centres of learning and organising, they are exactly what needs to happen. Their potential will be defined by the number of people who attend and commit to them.

If you are at another university, consider organising your own occupation.  We also need to think about how these occupations can become a space, not only for students, but for the broader community of activists and demonstrators who have taken action over the past two weeks.

anti-semitism and the assault on gaza

by Joe Thorne

Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, and the vast majority of our movement is not anti-Semitic, but it is a terrible reality that some anti-Semitism has been pulled along in its wake [1]. Therefore, we have a duty to acknowledge and oppose this. In fact, if we do not, we renounce the right to say we are true fighters against the brutality in Gaza.

Continue reading “anti-semitism and the assault on gaza”

the mindset of israelis in the gaza war

by Solomon Anker, recently returned from Tel Aviv

The most dramatic event within Israeli society in the war has been the amazing lack of compassion for Palestinians. It is not true that Israelis are calling for “Death to the Arabs”: this is a very marginal phenomenon and outside the mainstream. However, in general people do not care about the almost 1,000 people of Gaza who have died so far.

Israeli television is giving off some soft war propaganda which does a good job of curing Liberal Israelis’ guilt for the crimes in Gaza, plus going a bit over the top about the effect which the Hamas rockets have. Nevertheless the media is telling people most of the truth about what goes on in Gaza and in fact the newspapers in Israel which tend to be left-wing (especially Haaretz) tell of all the war crimes that have taken place. Continue reading “the mindset of israelis in the gaza war”

mobilisation and militancy in the anti-war movement: photos and report of 10th january palestine demo

1081For Gaza

Notice: Demonstrate against police brutality in solidarity with yesterday’s arrestees.  This evening (Sunday 11th) at 5pm outside Kensington Police Station, 72 Earl’s Court Road.  Directions: Come out of High Street Kensington tube and turn left. Left again at the next big cross roads.

On Tuesday, the Israeli army shelled a school designated as a refuge from the assault, killing 42 and injuring scores more.  Two days later, thirty more civilians were killed as a second refuge was shelled.  By Saturday, the number of dead from the past fortnight stood at over 800, with a little under a quarter children.  Later that day in West London, cold as it was, and with frost on the ground, around 70,000 people marched against the massacre in Gaza.

Clashes between police and protesters erupted on a scale not seen for a decade in this country.  This is a report by eye-witnesses associated with The Commune, who have also been at many of the demonstrations outside the Embassy over the past fortnight.  We also reflect on the significance of the days’ events. Continue reading “mobilisation and militancy in the anti-war movement: photos and report of 10th january palestine demo”

activist’s arm broken as police clamp down on gaza protest

by David Broder

Our readers will forgive us for another report on the daily protests at the Israeli embassy in response to the war on Gaza. Although the numbers at the 9th January protest were less than on previous days due to a simultaneous demo at the embassy of Egypt, whose government actively participates in the the blockade of Gaza, the protest was remarkable for the arrest of one activist and the aggression of the police, leading to another protestor’s arm being badly broken.

Below are several photos of the demo and a brief summary of the course of events. Continue reading “activist’s arm broken as police clamp down on gaza protest”

gaza demo 7th january: police run riot after zionist counter-protest

report by Taimour Lay

Demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington on Wednesday night ended in baton charges on pro-Palestinian protesters and at least ten arrests. A counter-demonstration organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council and UK Zionist Federation attracted 300-400 people, but the arrests were ultimately sparked by police tactics at the end of the evening rather than the conduct of the opposing sides during the protest.

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The police chose not to force pro-Palestinian demonstrators – who had been gathering since 5pm for the daily demonstration – away from their pen as the Zionists arrived shortly after 7pm, instead setting up a second pen opposite the embassy nearer Gloucester Road, with three police vans and 40-50 officers to keep the two sides apart in contained areas.

But as the night wore on riot police were used to end the anti-war demonstration by force. One policeman said a strategic decision had been made to ”clear the area”, including Kensington High Street and surrounding roads, to prevent ”Israeli and Palestinians from kicking each other”. In reality, it meant that the peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstrators, who still numbered around 200 by 9pm, and who remained determined not to depart before the close of the opposition demonstration, were pushed, harried and chased out of the pen.

Continue reading “gaza demo 7th january: police run riot after zionist counter-protest”

photo-report of 3rd january palestine demo, london

by David Broder

On the day that Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza, threatening a vast escalation of the war on Palestine, tens of thousands of people marched through London in an emergency demonstration.

The march from Embankment to Trafalgar Square (via Whitehall, where around a thousand shoes were thrown at the gates of Downing Street) was followed by a demonstration of around 5000 at the Israeli Embassy in Kensington, where  15 people were arrested after clashes with riot police.

At the demonstration The Commune activists gave out our own leaflet similar to that distributed during the last week’s daily protests at the Israeli Embassy, as well as another collaborative effort calling for the movement to continue. The next demo is at the Israeli Embassy, Kensington at 2pm on Sunday 4th January, followed by daily pickets at 5:30pm every weekday and another march next Saturday (10th January). Pictures and comments about the 3rd January protests below. Continue reading “photo-report of 3rd january palestine demo, london”