Solidarity 512, 3 July 2019

Robert Fine and the critique of antisemitism

Author

Dan Davison

Robert Fine, who died on 9 June 2018, was a socialist writer unafraid to stand up to much of the left’s received wisdom on the questions of Israel, Palestine, and antisemitism.

He opposed the “absolute anti-Zionist” standpoint that one should unreservedly object to (a) Israel’s very existence, rather than the oppressive practices of the Israeli state, and (b) any feelings of Jewish communal or national identification with Israel, even when such feelings are accompanied with harsh condemnation of the Israeli government or genuine horror at the Palestinians’ suffering.

Israelophobia is Stalinist regression

Author

Barry Finger

Barry Finger reviews Paul Kelemen’s book The British Left and Zionism: History of a Divorce (Manchester University Press, 2012)

This volume, which joins the herd of independent minds in churning the same old depleted groupthink, purports to challenge the claim that changes over the decades in the left’s appraisal of Zionism and the Palestinian cause stem from antisemitism.

HBO’s Chernobyl: a service to us all

Author

Les Hearn

Chernobyl was a disaster — there is no doubt about that — but what lessons should we learn from it?

Though the catastrophic meltdown and explosion of the RBMK Reactor No 4 happened almost half a lifetime ago, when police states claiming to serve the workers ruled eastern Europe, the recent HBO mini-series Chernobyl has brought that time back to life.

Though partly fictionalised and sometimes wrong (according to survivors and experts), the basic facts are correct.

Ford workers to meet again

Author

Matt Dunn

Union members at Ford Bridgend will meet again in the week up to 6-7 July to discuss the next steps in resisting attempts by the company to shut the plant, losing thousands of jobs in the process.

Nothing is off the table, including industrial action and “leverage” campaigning. Unite leverage takes a thoroughgoing approach to forcing a company to move – applying pressure to the investors and clients of the investors and clients and potential clients of the company concerned.

NEU ballot scores successes

Author

Duncan Morrison (assistant NEU secretary, Lewisham, in personal capacity)

The National Education Union’s (NEU) indicative ballot to boycott high stakes testing in primary schools is due to close as Solidarity goes to press on 2 July.

The indicative ballot has been a success, even if nationally we will not have reached the 50% turnout and 40% of all members voting yes to satisfy the anti-union laws. It is an indicative ballot and it indicates plenty of will to fight on this issue.

The turn-out will exceed the turn-out in the only other national indicative ballot the NEU has run, over pay and funding.

At one with the members

Author

John Moloney, PCS Assistant General Secretary (in a personal capacity)

I have now signed a contract with the PCS and have become an employee of the union from 1 July. As such I am entitled to a salary of £69,466 a year (£5,788 a month).

As part of my election platform, though, I promised not to take the full AGS salary but only take home the wage of a DWP Executive Officer (EO) working in London.

Industrial news in brief

Author

Ollie Moore

Tube workers fight job cuts

Tube workers are currently voting in an industrial action ballot, as the RMT union pushes back against job cuts proposed as part of the so-called “Transformation” process.

Nearly 2,000 workers are being balloted, including workers in engineering, signals, electrical, track, the London Underground Control Centre, and the Emergency Response Unit. “Transformation”, a sweeping restructure and job cuts plan, has already led to admin workers seeing their numbers slashed.

Self determination for Hong Kong!

Author

Colin Foster

After protesters stormed Hong Kong’s (largely unelected) Legislative Council on 1 July, there is a real risk that China will invade the territory.

To international outcry about plans to ease extradition from Hong Kong to China — in effect, to give legal cover to the Chinese government “disappearing” dissidents, as it did with five bookshop workers in 2015 — Xi Jinping’s government has replied that all the issues in Hong Kong are China’s “internal” business, and no outsiders should comment.

RMT activists oppose Lewis expulsion decision

Author

Daniel Randall

The conference on 23-27 June of the rail union RMT passed, by a majority of two votes with six abstentions, a motion expelling left Labour MP Clive Lewis from the RMT’s Parliamentary Group.

The conference decided that Lewis should be expelled unless he retracts and apologises for the criticisms he made of comments by RMT member Eddie Dempsey from the platform of a “Full Brexit” rally.

RMT activists who oppose the decision are circulating a statement of protest, already signed by numerous AGM delegates as well dozens of other union activists.

Some setbacks at Unite union rules conference

Author

Ann Field

Despite some setbacks for the top table, the 24-28 June Unite the Union Rules Conference saw little or no progress in democratising Britain’s second-biggest trade union.

The number of branch nominations needed to get on the ballot paper in a General Secretary election was increased from the current 50 to 5% of all Unite branches – around 150.

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