Solidarity 042, 3 December 2003

A Trotskyist in Israel writes

I am a 23 year old Israeli Trotskyist. It is good to read your reports and analyses, including the ones on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I must say it is refreshing to find out that there is a revolutionary left in Britain that does not seek to "destroy" the state of Israel and establish a "secular and democratic state of Palestine". As a revolutionary socialist, this is certainly not my political aim. Thus many socialists in Israel define themselves as "Zionists"; but there is genuine gap between their definition of Zionism and the practice of the Zionist movement headed by its official political parties.

Afghanistan: "constitutionalising" the warlords' rule?

By Cathy Nugent

On 10 December a "loya jirga", a 500-strong assembly of regional and other delegates, will meet in Afghanistan to discuss a new constitution for the country.

The draft constitution is a sketchy document which seems to propose a hybrid state, incorporating a model of an Islamic Republic - "there will be no laws contrary to Islam" - alongside a bourgeois democracy, with a bourgeois rule of law. There will be a bicameral legislature with enormous powers for the President. Nowhere in the document are explicit equal rights for women written down. Once (or perhaps, if) the constitution is agreed, elections to a National Assembly and for a new President will take place. These are scheduled for mid-2004.

Julius Jacobson (1922-2003)

Barry Finger concludes his appreciation of the life and work of Julius Jacobson, who died last March. Julius was the founder and editor of the American socialist journal, New Politics.

One of the most agonising essays Julie was called upon to write was "The Two Deaths of Max Shachtman" in the Winter 1973 issue of New Politics. Shachtman had earned the admiration of a generation of radicals of previous decades by his political courage in engaging and opposing and - in Julie's estimation - besting Trotsky, whom he "loved, respected and feared", and for his intellectual and political contributions to the understanding of Stalinism.

The Myth of JFK

By Joe Carter

The fortieth anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy, who was killed on 22 November 1963, has produced the usual flood of eulogies.

The reality was very different. Kennedy's actions in office were those of a pro-business government, with an imperial foreign policy which continued the work of the previous Republican administration.

FBU ranks must organise

FBU ranks must organise
By Nick Holden

Fire Brigades Union members have voted to accept the staging of the second phase of their pay rise, with a three to one majority.

The ballot had a 56% turn-out, low by the FBU's standards, and was a major reversal since twelve months ago, when there was a nine to one majority for strike action to win a £30,000 salary for all fire fighters.

The labour movement can beat top-up fees

By Alan Clarke, NUS Executive, personal capacity

With more than a third of Labour MPs now supporting an anti-top up fees motion in the House of Commons, the Government's plans for student funding are looking increasingly shaky. With public, labour movement and even Labour Party opinion overwhelmingly hostile to introducing a free market in higher education, there is every chance that the Blairites will finally be defeated on a major issue of government policy.