29 June 2022

On Sunday July 10th I shall be doing a sponsored walk for East Sussex Freedom From Torture - I ask for your support

 Last year I raised £1,132 for the victims of torture please help me raise more this year

Cuckmere Haven in East Sussex with the Seven Sisters in the background 

Last year I raised £1,132 for ESFF. Please help me raise even more this year. Freedom from Torture is part of a coalition groups who came together to successfully prevent the first deportation flight to Rwanda. It does vital work in helping refugees cope with the traumas associated with torture and that is why I am happy to do this walk each year.

My son Daniel and me

The walk takes about 3 hours and involves walking up and down 4 or 5 hills in what is known as 7 Sisters. I shall be doing it with my son, Daniel, who is autistic. Whilst I was puffing and panting as I ascended the hills Daniel, who is 32, barely had a bead of sweat! But I am happy to put myself through this in order to try and raise a similar amount of money again.

I will be travelling from what was the ancient village of Exceat (now the 7 Sisters Country Park) to East  Dean. Walking up and down 5 of the Sisters or hills with my son, Daniel.

A picture from last year's walk

Exceat was a bustling fishing village founded in Saxon times. It was sheltered from the weather by the protection of the Cuckmere Valley. The village was also said to have been one of the most important naval bases for King Alfred the Great, widely recognised as the first King of England.

Alfred was thought to have had a palace at nearby West Dean, and it is believed that Exceat served as one of his main naval bases in his wars against the Danish.

A picture from last year's walk

However, the village's glory days would be cut short in the 14th century.

Along with most of Europe, England suffered heavily when the Black Death arrived in 1347. It was the deadliest pandemic in human history, with some estimates guessing that the plague wiped out 60 per cent of Europe's population.

A picture from last year's walk

26 June 2022

St James Tavern, Brighton Staff On Strike Against Slave Labour Conditions

 We are witnessing the biggest strike wave in over 30 years as workers say they have had enough of neo-liberal capitalism

We are all Jake

Today and next Saturday there is a strike at the St James Tavern in Brighton. There will be a picket next Saturday at 4 pm. Driving to the picket I turned into Madeira Place only to find the exit blocked as a massive crowd was at the corner of St James Street. Kemptown’s major shopping street.

The strike picket was wholly successful as the pub was closed and shuttered. Meanwhile the picket was more of a party than the traditional picket with hundreds of local people, mainly young people, gathered with home made posters in their support.

The strike was organised by an independent trade union, United Voices of the World which describes itself as ‘a members-led, campaigning trade union of low paid, precarious & migrant workers.’ It is a union which is outside the TUC structure as traditional unions have avoided organising the leisure industry as it is hard to organise and there isn’t much money in it to maintain high paid, lazy union bureaucrats.

Matt Webb, President Brighton & Hove TUC

As a former Vice-President of Brighton and Hove Trades Union Council it is essential that Trades Councils, which have delegates from local union branches, welcome into their ranks non-TUC affiliated trade unions which are the most militant unions organising some of the most oppressed workers, such as migrant workers cleaners.

Some traditional unions, like the right-wing GMB, have acted as parasites on the work of unions like UVW and the IWGB. At Deliveroo where the IWGB did all the work of organising the workers, the GMB leadership stepped in to sign a sweet heart deal with the management.

As The Canary put it The GMB Union just scabbed on Deliveroo workers regarding a video which the management and the GMB put out claiming that the GMB is working together with the management  

If the GMB is working “together” with Deliveroo – then who is the union “standing up for”? What exactly do they think riders care about? It could be they care about inflation that keeps making their slave wages worth even less?

No, of course not. If GMB are in bed with Deliveroo, then they’re saying that the most basic function of a trade union – standing up to bosses – is surplus to their requirements.

The demands of the bar staff at Brighton’s St James Tavern are modest to the point of parsimony! £11.50 an hour, no zero hour contracts, sick pay, no harassment and discrimination at work and protection from violent customers.

Scenes from the picket line

But they were too much for the new owners of St James Tavern, Victoria Ann Bennett and Zak Abedi. They suspended the manager, Jake Marvin, on trumped up charges and behaved like all tyrannical  employers do when their authority is challenged.  All credit to the independent union United Voices of the World.

This led to the defining chant of the strike ‘We are all Jake’ – echoing the slogan of the workers’ movement through the ages – ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’.

The staff voted 100% for a strike. The employers are also being sued for harassment and discrimination, including allegations of transphobia, sexism and anti-Semitism. I suspect that the Board of Deputies of British Jews won’t be interested however as it doesn’t involve the Apartheid State of Israel!

Jake Marvin said he and his co-workers at the pub in Madeira Place are striking for “the basic right to respect in the workplace”.

“We as workers have felt consistently undermined, the physical and emotional welfare of the staff as a whole feels entirely neglected

Those on strike say they have “had enough of low wages” and are calling for a sick pay scheme which includes cover for Covid-19-related absences, rather than the basic Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Bartender Tris Houseman said:

“Feeling undervalued and disrespected by people you are generating money for, money that is barely seen by us, feels so humiliating and degrading on such a personal level.

“For me and my friends and fellow workers at St James Tavern, for the bare minimum conditions and respect at work, that is why I am striking.”

For more information about the strike and UVW see here you can also contribute to their strike fund.  Make cheques out to UVW and send them to 140 Cambridge Heath Rd, London, E1 5QJ. and here.

23 June 2022

Can’t Pay, Won’t Bloody Pay! – Heating & Eating are a Right Not a Privilege

 Noone Should be Forced to Choose Between Warmth and Food and No one Should Die Because They Can’t Afford It

Registration Link


Ian Hodson - President Bakers' Union

The Socialist Labour Network is launching a national Can’t Pay Won’t Pay campaign with a public meeting this Friday at 6.30 p.m. Speakers include Tommy Sheridan, the former Scottish Socialist MSP, Paula Peters of Disabled People Against the Cuts and Ian Hodson, the President of the Bakers Union, who was expelled from the Labour Party by Starmer last year.

30 years ago a mass non-payment campaign defeated Thatcher’s Poll Tax and forced Thatcher out of office. Why? Because people could not afford to pay the tax and furthermore they refused to pay a tax that was the same for a Duke and a Dustman.

Tommy Sheridan led the Poll Tax Campaign

Today people can’t afford their energy bills. Even before the next massive rise in prices in October one-third of people are unable to afford to heat their homes. By the end of the year this is going to rise to over half the population.

Even before the current price rises 1 in 4 people were forced to live in cold conditions. What this means quite simply is that thousands more people, the sick and elderly, will die for the sake of the massive profits that the energy producers make. Thousands are already dying each year because they can’t afford to heat their homes.

According to The Telegraph energy bills are set to pass £3,000 per annum by next January. In October 2021 they stood at £1,278. Last April prices rose by 54% to £1,971 per year. In October the price cap on annual bills will go up to £2,980. In other words a rise of 133% in 1 year.

Yet the railworkers are being savaged by the Government and the Tory Press for demanding 7% wage increases. The nurses who the Tories were happy to clap for are being offered just 3%. The unemployed and claimants have had their benefits increased by just 3%.

Rishi Sunak’s Windfall Tax (which was more generous than Starmer’s proposals) is just sticking plaster. Most people will get a £400 rebate in October and that will be it. Claimants will get £650 in two stages and disabled claimants an extra £150 or £300 if they are pensioners. Pensioners will also receive an additional £300 on top of the existing winter fuel payment. For details see here.

The strange thing is that gas prices are falling yet prices are rising. Why?  Because of the nature of our privatised energy market which is divided into those who generate the energy, those who transmit it and those who sell it.

Massive profits are being made by the energy sector at the same time as prices are going sky high. That is why the French company EDF can increase prices by just 4% in France because Macron has forced them to cut their profits. Boris Johnson of course is in hock to his friends in the City.

This waste of space has nothing to say but opposes the rail strike

Privatisation in the 1980s meant giving away assets built up by the tax payer over succeeding generations to the City for a pittance. Billions have been made at the consumers’ expense and with the latest price rises billions more will be made.

Of course the price rise has been made far worse by the war in Ukraine which NATO provoked with its insistence on expanding up to the borders of Russia, despite repeated promises at the time of German unification, by US Secretary of State James Baker, Helmut Kohl and John Major, that NATO wouldn’t expand.

In March 1991 John Major, for instance, was asked by the Soviet defence minister, Marshal Dmitry Yazov, about eastern Europe’s interest in joining Nato. Major, according to the diaries of the British ambassador to Moscow, Rodric Braithwaite, assured him “nothing of that sort will ever happen”.

Ironically Russia has also benefitted from the sanctions that have been imposed because of the increase in prices. It has been impossible for Europe to cut its dependence on gas and this has led the ruble to hit an all-time high, contrary to predictions in February that their economy would tank. According to CBS News the ruble is the strongest currency in the world this year!

The sanctions which have been imposed only benefit the United States energy market whose extraction of shale oil is far more expensive than Russia’s gas and oil. The other beneficiary is US arms manufacturers such as Raytheon and Lockheed Martin who have seen massive increases in profits as Jo Biden has handed them $40 billion in arms orders on top of previous orders.

Of course the United States can’t afford to fund a National Health Service or waive student debt but there is always money to fight NATO wars, be it in Ukraine or Afghanistan. Similarly in Britain. There isn’t enough money for things like free school meals but every time Johnson visits Zelensky in Ukraine, usually when things become too hot for him at home, he comes with promises of hundreds of millions of pounds of arms supplies. That is capitalism and the system we live under.

Our demands are simple.

Ø   Freeze energy prices at what they were before April 2022.

Ø   Nationalise the energy companies without compensation.

Ø   Abolish pre-payment meters. One of the more outrageous feature of the present crisis is that those on pre-payment meters, the poorest people in society, are paying the highest prices.

Tony Greenstein

20 June 2022

Helen Aksentijevic interviews veteran anti-Zionist Moshe Machover, one of the founders of Matzpen, the Socialist Organisation in Israel

 Machover looks back on life since his childhood under the Palestine Mandate and describes both his own family and political background

There are not many people who can justly be described as legends in their own lifetime but Moshe Machover is one such person. An indefatigable optimist he was the ‘one who got away’. Targeted by the Zionists and expelled summarily by the Labour Party’s discredited Sam Mathews, there was such a groundswell of opposition both within and without the Labour Party, that Moshe was reinstated within a month after Corbyn’s office had been forced to intervene with the Compliance Unit.

Unlike the cowards of the Socialist Campaign Group, Dianne Abbot et al, Moshe was proud to appear in Zoom meetings alongside expelled members like myself and Chris Williamson, the only MP who did not subscribe to the false 'antisemitism' narrative

Moshe has subsequently been suspended by Starmer as part of his purge of anti-Zionist Jews (its official name, as befitting such doublethink,  is ‘rooting out anti-Semitism’).

Helen Aksentijevic is a filmmaker who decided to make a series of films about supporters of Palestine including Moshe. See Enlightenment and Pure Joy. Helen can best be described as a travelling protest photographer.

The first pamphlet that I read, at the age of 18 when I was coming out as an anti-Zionist, was by Moshe Machover and two fellow members of Matzpen, Akiva Orr and Haim Hanegbi. Up to then my opposition to Zionism was largely instinctive rather than theoretically worked out. This was a time when the very word ‘Palestinian’ was disputed. I had been brought up to consider Palestinians as just ‘Arabs’. It is as if Romanians or Swiss nationals were referred to as Europeans. Golda Meir, the Israeli Prime Minister famously declared that there was no such thing as the Palestinians.

Moshe as a child

‘The Class Nature of Israeli society’ was published by New Left Review in January/February 1971 although I read it in a pamphlet published by the International Socialists (SWP). It helped me to clarify my intuitive feelings about Zionism, that it was an exclusivist and chauvinist project that rejected the basic ideas of Socialism. The pamphlet helped me to jettison many of the ideas that I had grown up with in a Zionist environment.

A Young Moshe Machover & Jabra Nicola

Matzpen (Compass), which Moshe helped form in 1962, was the first Israeli anti-Zionist organisation. In the film Moshe describes briefly the origins of the organisation and the influence of the Palestinian Marxist Jabra Nicola over him and others. Nicola saw the solution to the dispossession and oppression of the Palestinians as being a regional one involving workers and peasants struggle in the Arab East to overthrow the corrupt and repressive regimes which dot the landscape.

The Israeli Communist Party, from which Matzpen broke, never rejected Zionism. Indeed it has never had any analysis of Zionism worthy of the name. It sees Zionism as largely irrelevant and doesn’t see the Israeli working class as a settler working class.

The Irgun, a terrorist militia which perpetrated the massacre at Deir Yassin in April 1948 before the declaration of independence

By way of contrast Matzpen developed an understanding of Zionism and Israel as a settler-colonial ideology and movement or what Moshe describes, using Kautsky’s terminology a ‘work’ or ‘exclusion’ colony as opposed to an ‘exploitation colony’.

In my view these categories are too rigid, as some colonies like South Africa could be both exploitation and exclusion colonies. Hence South Africa’s Bantustan policy.

Jabra Nicola

Rakah, the Israeli Communist  Party believed and still believes that the Israeli state can be reformed and that Israeli Palestinians can achieve equality within it. They never understood that it was Zionism which ensured that Israel could never become a state of its own citizens. Rakah was a Stalinist party that went along in 1948 with Stalin’s support for the establishment of a ‘Jewish’ state, a policy which all but destroyed the Arab Communist Parties in the region.

The idealised image of the Kibbutzim and Jewish Labour - what wasn't shown were the evictions of Arab peasants with the help of the British army to make way for the Kibbutzim

Today the Palestine solidarity movement and academia takes it for granted that Israel is a settler colonial state, but for many years people saw Israel as either a liberal democracy or a social democratic, if not socialist society, with the Kibbutzim as their idea of socialism in practice. The idea 60 years ago that Israel was a settler colonial state was ground breaking.

I freely confess that Moshe has been an enormous influence over my own political development although, as often happens with one’s mentors, we disagree on certain issues. I don’t for example accept Moshe’s belief that the Israeli or Hebrew people constitute a nation in their own right with a right to self-determination as a Hebrew state in the future. In my view such a state would inevitably contain within it forces seeking to reconstitute themselves as a Zionist and Jewish Supremacist state with all that entails. Hebrew culture in Israel is inevitably a culture of oppression.

Zionist 'socialism' was a strictly Jewish only affair and thus it negated the basic principle of socialism, the unity of the working class whatever its ethnic or religious origins. Today that has played out in the presence in a far-right coalition of the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz

Unlike Moshe I also believe that the idea or concept of a unitary democratic secular state is one that the Palestine solidarity movement should adopt. Why? Firstly because it negates the concept of a Jewish State, which the two state solution does nothing to challenge. But also because a solidarity movement that is unable to present a vision of what it is striving for will in the end succumb to partial solutions such as a repartition. How such a goal will be achieved is a separate question.

I also have less faith in the future potential of the Israeli working class than Moshe because experience has shown that in settler colonial states, be it South Africa or Ireland, the settler working class is to the right of its own bourgeoisie. Their support for an ethno-supremacist state means that they are incapable of acting as a class for itself.

The ethnic cleansing of Jaffa - the only people driven into the sea were the Palestinians

I see no progressive or socialist potential in the Israeli Jewish working class because its identity wrapped up in the super oppression of the Palestinian working class.

Today the idea of Israel as an Apartheid State has become widely accepted. This idea, that Israel is a state in which racial oppression is not a side effect or by-product of its other policies but inbuilt into the state itself, has gradually taken hold. Ideologically Israel and its defenders are in a weaker position now than they have ever been.

The flight of the Palestinians was necessary to create an artificial Jewish majority in Israel

This development has taken place at the same time as Israel is militarily and economically stronger than it has ever been although still dependant on its benefactor, the United States.

Where I agree with Moshe is that the Question of Zionism or Palestine cannot be solved within the borders of Palestine. The great mistake of the Palestinian leadership, the PLO, was to believe that they could become yet another corrupt Arab leadership in a Palestinian state of their own side by side with the Israeli state. The PLO leaders desired nothing more than the right to oppress their own people, as the Palestinian Authority today demonstrates.

Tel Aviv, a Jewish only city in its early days in British Palestine

It was this that led to the disaster that is the 1993 Oslo Accords. At the time those of us who opposed Oslo were very much in a minority. Fateh activists were enthusiastic about its prospects and their prospects. This enthusiasm derived from the belief that Zionism could be confined within pre-1948 borders and could live alongside a Palestinian state. Unfortunately the Palestinian leadership never understood the nature of Zionism and how it is an inherently expansionist and colonisatory project. Or if they did understand it rhetorically they never incorporated it in their theory and practice. Today it is very clear that the Israeli state cannot be reformed and Zionism cannot change its spots.

An artist's view of Tel Aviv

The other mistake of the PLO was, in exchange for subsidies to finance their operations, to establish uncritical relationships with the very Arab regimes which oppressed their own people. These regimes paid lip service to the Palestinian cause whilst in practice abandoning them. Today we can see this clearly with the Abraham Accords, which follow on from the 1978 Camp David Accords whereby Egypt recognised Israel. Following Oslo, Jordan also established diplomatic relations with Israel.

The Arab regimes fear, despise and oppress their own peoples. They are the junior allies of imperialism. Regimes such as that in Saudi Arabia and Egypt are some of the most brutal on the planet. They are jealously guarded by the Zionist regime in Tel Aviv yet the Palestinian movement has largely been uncritical of these regimes. The role of Israel is to ensure that radical Arab nationalism never triumphs in the region.

Where I disagree with Moshe is that I don’t accept that it is necessary for a socialist revolution to take hold in the Arab world before Zionism can be overthrown. If only because the establishment of socialism has proved rather more difficult than Marx and the early socialists envisaged. I think it is possible for nationalist revolutions to overthrow the ancien regimes in the Arab world and in that way to threaten the very imperialist interests that Israel is paid to watch over.

The original advert  in Ha'aretz

Moshe has lived through the entire period of the Israeli state. He recalls how, in September 1967, Matzpen was the first group to place an advert in Ha’aretz decrying the Occupation of Gaza and the West Bank which an Israeli Labor not Likud Government, presided over. Moshe also recalls the hostility and calls of ‘traitor’ that greeted this advert. The advert met with unbridled hostility and threats to the individual signatories.

Moshe tells how, at the age of 3, his first definite memory was the day that World War 2 broke out. He describes the bombing of Tel Aviv by the Italian airforce and says that by 1944 it was clear that something horrendous had taken place in Europe in respect of the Jews.

This is in itself instructive because the Zionist leadership in Palestine were well aware that the Holocaust was taking place from at least mid-1942 if not earlier but they did their best to play such reports down. The Hebrew press even whilst it reported on what was happening in Europe also cast doubt on its own reports. Zionism, which has fashioned the Holocaust into an ideological weapon, was at that time more concerned with state building than rescuing Jewish refugees.

Moshe emigrated to Britain in 1968. Many others in Matzpen also emigrated to the West because life was made very difficult for those who were seen as traitors to Zionism. Moshe became a Professor of Mathematical Logic and Philosophy at King’s College in London. Far from being a democratic society Israel has always been extremely intolerant of Jews who dissent from the Zionist narrative.

Moshe describes in some detail how, in the wake of the Nakba between 1947 and 1949, he and other children would hike into the Galilee and see the ruins of the Arab villages. They saw the artifacts and belongings left after the Zionist militias had looted much of what remained when the original owners had been forced to flee from Palestine. The Zionist myth that people like Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotoveli still propagate is that the Palestinians voluntarily left.

It was the Israeli Labor Party that presided over the 6 Day War and the conquest of the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and Golan Heights. I remember very well how Israeli propaganda portrayed the situation as a possible new holocaust. We really believed that Israel might well suffer defeat and that the Jews would be driven into the sea. Of course this was a lie meant to fool not only Israeli Jews but the wider Jewish communities world-wide. We now know that this was, as Moshe says, ‘poppycock’.

The ILP was also responsible for the establishment of the first settlements. It was an Israeli Labor Government which launched a pre-emptive war on Syria, Jordan and Egypt with the intention of completing what was they considered unfinished business in 1947-9, namely the conquest of the whole of what was Palestine under the British Mandate. In 1956 Israel had launched the Suez War, in conjunction with Britain and France, against Egypt following Nasser’s nationalisation of the Suez Canal. At that time Israel had been forced to withdraw after the US Administration of Eisenhower had made its displeasure clear.

The remains of the Arab villages after they had been looted and their inhabitants expelled or massacred

Moshe explains how one of the cardinal beliefs of the Zionists is that Jews don’t merely constitute a religious community but a nation in its own right. That is integral to the Zionist claim on what they call Eretz Yisrael (The Land of Israel). The basis of this claim is that God gave the land to the Jews. Given that the early Zionists were atheists, we have the absurdity that Zionism based its claim to Palestine on the promise of a god who doesn’t exist!

I hope you find this interview as illuminating and interesting as I did.

Tony Greenstein