American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein Directed by David Ridgen & Nicolas Rossier Baraka Productions Review by Antony Loewenstein Jewish critics of Israel are as old as the ideology itself. Zionism was regarded by most Jews in Europe as an idealistic delusion before the Second World War, but the Holocaust literally changed everything.
In the wake of Britain’s inconclusive general election, there is much talk of the “national interest”. It’s said that politicians of all parties have to pull together to address the crisis caused by the country’s enlarged fiscal deficit. Specifically, they must agree to a package of deep public spending cuts. Nothing, it is said, is more urgent, more unavoidable. In contrast, it seems climate change can be left perpetually on the backburner — though there is a far greater expert consensus about its dangers than those of a large deficit.
Human rights organisations have reported that, almost a year after the coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, repression by security forces had left the country “more dangerous than Colombia”. An Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) delegation confirmed that the murder, harassment and intimidation of opposition supporters, journalists and peasant and worker organisers had continued “with impunity” since the coup regime handed power to President Porfirio Lobo in January.
On May 18, during proceedings in Fair Work Australia, negotiations ended between Ford and the Electrical Trades Union and Australian Metal Workers Metals Division over the “Ford Australia Enterprise Agreement 2009 (Skilled Trades)”. The content of the agreement has been the subject of a dispute that has involved two 24-hour strikes.
One hundred pensioners rallied outside Victorian Parliament House on May 27 to demand a raise in the aged pension. The rally was organised by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition (FGPC), which had previously organised nationwide protests in November 2008. Frank Cherry, national coordinator of the coalition, told the crowd: “We’re rallying today to highlight the plight of pensioners, both to the state and federal government, and to begin the second stage of our campaign to increase the pension.”
Mal Tulloch, assistant NSW secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, took part in a study tour to Palestine in March, organised by APHEDA, the aid organisation of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The CFMEU has supported APHEDA since it was established in 1987. As soon as Tulloch arrived in Palestine, he realised it was not going to be a holiday. He shares his impressions below. * * * It was like a visit to a war zone, while also a great opportunity to witness what the Palestinian struggle has been about for the past 62 years.
Sixty thousand public-sector workers from across Romania rallied in central Bucharest on May 19 to protest against government plans to slash their wages and benefits under a loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU). Civil servants, teachers, doctors and retirees blew whistles and yelled “Down with the lying government!” and “You have pawned our future”, as they protested outside government offices in Victoriei Square.
The national executive of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) decided at its May 12 meeting to join the global campaign to isolate apartheid Israel. The union assessed the approach of trade unions around the world and consulted Izzat Abdulhadi, head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia.
With a mass general strike on May 20 in the private and public sectors and a large demonstration in Athens and other cities, the workers of Greece continued the struggle to overturn an austerity program imposed by the Greek government, European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Participation in the strike was as big in the private sector as in the public sector, which is the target of most of the austerity measures.
Ark Tribe is an Adelaide construction worker facing up to six months’ jail for refusing to be interrogated by the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the secret police set up by the former John Howard federal government to smash the strength of the building unions. The following article is abridged from www.arkstribe.blogspot.com. * * *
Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a Thai socialist in exile in Britain after being charged with lese majeste (insulting the monarch). He is a member of Left Turn Thailand. Ji Ungpakorn’s blog, Wdpress.blog.co.uk, covers the struggle for democracy in Thailand, and the brutal repression meted out by the military backed regime. On May 25, the blog listed the names of all the pro-democracy Red Shirt protesters being hunted down by the regime — 66 arrest warrants had been issued and 21 people were already in custody.
More than 55,000 BT (formerly British Telecom) workers could walk out on strike this month unless the telecommunications giant bows to their demands and improves its “derisory” pay offer. Communication Workers Union delegates voted unanimously on May 26 to give BT until June 4 before serving formal legal notice of the union’s intention to ballot for industrial action. The decision came just hours after BT’s annual financial report revealed that its chief executive, Ian Livingstone, and three other directors raked in bonuses totalling £2.7 million last year.
On May 25, 70 people protested outside the Thai embassy in Jakarta in solidarity with the pro-democracy Red Shirts in Thailand. The protest was jointly called by the Working Peoples Association (PRP), the People’s Democratic Party (PRD), the Confederation Congress of Indonesia Union Alliance (Konfederasi KASBI); the Indonesian Nasional Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI); the National Student League for Democracy (LMND)
“Facing the world economic crisis: From Greece to Australia” was the title of a public forum, sponsored by Socialist Alliance, Resistance and Green Left Weekly on May 25. Marxist academic Gary MacLennan and Socialist Alliance candidate for the federal seat of Brisbane Ewan Saunders spoke. MacLennan explained that the world economic crisis showed signs of deepening, not ending. He said right-wing explanations of the crisis blamed government mismanagement, rather than the capitalist system.
Plans are well underway in some states for the “Justice Bus Trips” in July to Alice Springs, where a gathering in defence of Aboriginal justice and human rights activities is being organised. Support for the Aboriginal rights movement has increased steadily over the past year, spurred in no small part by the historic Alyawarr people’s walk-off. In July 2009, the Alyawarr people walked off their community of Ampilatwatja, which was prescribed as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response — better known as the NT intervention.
The president of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced on May 24 that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on November 28, the constitutionally prescribed date. “The CEP is up to the task of organising general elections in the country”, said Gaillot Dorsinvil, who is also the handicapped sector’s representative on the nine-member council, handpicked by President Rene Preval. But tens of thousands of Haitians don’t agree and have been demonstrating in the streets in recent weeks to demand a new CEP — and Preval’s resignation.