Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
These days of putting together this issue of Red Pepper have been the days of the Gaza massacre. They have also been a time of two distinct political worlds. On the one hand, demonstrations that grew from one week to the next, bringing together Muslims and Jews to a unique extent; dissenting Jews across Israel, the US and the UK gaining confidence and a new sense of identity as they communicated across the web. On the other hand, the UN security council and Ehud Olmert’s insistent phone calls making sure that no resolution stood in the way of Israel’s onslaught.
Harold Pinter provided us with a key to understand these parallel worlds in the lecture he gave accepting the Nobel Prize for literature: ‘The majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power … What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies.’
The world of street protests reaching far beyond ‘the left’ is influenced by a process of unravelling the tapestry of lies woven around Iraq in the past eight years. The presence on demonstrations across Europe and the US of a new generation of activists and truth seekers, the generation of the Iraq war, is testament to this.
Across the Arab world too, a learning process has fuelled unprecedented mobilisations. Here is a generation that has been radicalised by the incompetence and indifference of Arab elites towards the sufferings of the Palestinians and their own people. Jamil Halil sees a new political scenario opening up in the Middle East.
Four days before Barack Obama took over the US presidency from the disastrous George Bush, one of the actors in the second political world, UK foreign secretary David Miliband, finally admitted what those of us in the rest of the world have long known. Bush was wrong. The ‘war against terror’ was ‘misleading and mistaken’. Far from defeating terrorism it has fed it.
So how does Miliband apply his new perception to the specific case of Palestine, where the ‘war against terror’ is effectively a cover for mass murder?
On 13 January, two days before his public rejection of Bush’s strategy, Miliband made his statement to the House of Commons after helping to steer resolution 1860 through the UN security council. The resolution asserts that both sides should cease military action. Above all it implies negotiations.
Did the foreign secretary’s statement to parliament challenge Israel’s refusal to meet this fundamental condition for peace? Miliband reported the reason for the Israeli refusal to negotiate. ‘Their argument,’ he said, ‘is that there can be no equivalence between a democratic state and a terrorist organisation.’
At no point did Miliband question this application of the George Bush manual of the war on terror. Nor did he draw on the diplomatic expertise of, for example, Jeremy Greenstock, the former British ambassador to the UN, who recently advised that Hamas ‘is not a terror organisation … it’s a bitterly angry grievance-based organisation wanting to end Israel’s occupation, preferably through negotiations … It has got a long way to go, but it’s capable of getting there; why has this not been explored?’
Instead, simultaneously with declaring the ‘war on terror’ to be a mistake, Miliband emphatically concurs with the Israeli government on its black-and-white view of the world: good versus evil, democracy versus terror. He contrasts Hamas’s ‘use of terrorism’ with Israel as ‘a thriving, democratic state with an independent judiciary’. Yet he makes no mention of Israel’s killing machine and its use of terror on a captive population – its state terrorism.
Miliband’s only challenge to Israel has been that as a ‘beacon of democracy’ it must be judged by the ‘standards of democracy and comply with the standards of international humanitarian law’. But with the basic premise of Israel’s war having been accepted and no attempt made to apply international law, these words have little meaning.
There is an immediate way Miliband could make a difference. He inherited the fatal refusal of the UK, along with the EU, the US and the UN, to recognise Hamas as the democratic choice of the people of Gaza. This effectively put Israel beyond international law, allowing it to treat the people of Gaza as mere obstacles to killing ‘legitimate’ targets. Miliband should break with this, as his parliamentary colleague Gerald Kaufman urges. Only then might we begin to accept that he is learning from George Bush’s ‘mistakes’.
Tom Palmer, aka Agent Kingfisher, was the 'messiah' of London's squatting scene until his death last year. But who was responsible for his fate? MI5, late capitalism or simply a drug overdose? Matt Broomfield investigates.
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
'We wanted to use a shared love of the beautiful game to stand in solidarity with those living under occupation', writes Kate Hadley.
Priti Patel's shady deals are business as usual. Enough is enough, writes Eleanor Penny
Boris Johnson is a local disaster and a national embarrassment. He must go, writes James Clouting
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death