Solidarity 177, 8 July 2010

Gilad Shalit and selective compassion


Solomon Anker

Israeli public opinion has been in a huge compassion drive for years since the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was taken captive by Hamas.

The heart behind the compassion is moral and linked to the terrible suffering of other Israeli soldiers captured in the past. However, the intensely psychotic randomness of this compassion has been the most extreme form of propaganda in Israel’s history.

The twisting of so much information by the mainstream Israeli media has totally contradicted all the usual arguments they used to defend the military occupation.

No to stoning!

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old Iranian woman, is due to be executed by the Iranian regime for the “crime” of adultery.

She has already been subjected to 99 lashes, which her 17-year old son Sajad was forced to watch. But now she has been sentenced to death by stoning.

Mina Ahadi, a member of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran living under police protection in Germany, has launched a campaign to save Sakineh’s life, supported by the International Committee Against Stoning.

Greek union leaders scale down protest


Colin Foster

Greek workers staged another one-day general strike against cuts on 29 June. Numbers on the major demonstration in Athens were, however, down on the previous day of action, and it looks as if the top trade union leaders are trying to engineer a gradual dribbling-away of the movement.

Vasilis Grollios, a political researcher in Thessaloniki, told Solidarity:

“The core of the militant workers want more pressure and action. But, unfortunately, nothing serious is being organised.

“The major conflict recently has been about the minimum wage.

Immigration cap is racist and irrational


Dale Street

At the end of June the Lib Con government announced a “temporary cap” on the number of non-EU migrant workers to be admitted to the UK. This was a sop to racism.

Under the Tories’ proposals the number of “tier one” and “tier two” migrant workers allowed to enter the UK between July this year and April 2011 will be limited to 24,100. A permanent cap will be introduced next April, although the Tories have not yet named a figure.

Prisons: Clarke's front door privatisation


Steve Gillan

Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, spoke to Solidarity about the government’s plans to reduce the prison population.

Budget cuts hit women harder than men

A “gender audit” of the budget, commissioned by Yvette Cooper, the shadow welfare secretary, shows it will hit women harder than men. Women will contribute nearly 75% of a net total of £8bn raised by 2014-15 through changes to direct taxation and benefits.

The attack is worse when you consider that women are already, on average, poorer than men; that they make up more of the public sector workforce and will suffer more from public sector job cuts; and that the research leaves out the impact of the VAT increase, which is likely to affect women (and the poor generally) more.

NUS cuts conference: time to "punch back"


Jade Baker

At a recent higher education cuts conference, attended by sabbaticals and student activists from across the country, the National Union of Students was mandated to call a national demonstration against cuts and fees.

That conference, held in Birmingham on 26 June, was dogged by controversy at the offset, when very many students were denied or cancelled places because “only two delegates per university” were allowed. The conference was initially advertised as “open to all”.

How to save jobs and services


Todd Hamer

A Treasury report released this month suggests that 600,000 public sector jobs and up to 700,000 private sector jobs will be slashed by 2015 as a result of George Osbourne’s austerity budget.

We need such a movement now to defend jobs and services, but we need to be armed with the facts and arguments.

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