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’.
Grassroots posters giving an alternative take on the general election
Hundreds of people surrounded the fences this weekend. Hera Lorandos spoke to women who have suffered inside.
Laying out the case for Labour's leadership of a Progressive Alliance, Jeremy Gilbert argues that far from posing a threat to the Left, the Progressive Alliance offers a golden opportunity to end Tory rule and build a 21st century government committed to social justice
The Greens have stood down in Brighton Kemptown to clear the way for Labour, and the Lib Dems won’t stand in Brighton’s other seat, Green-held Pavilion. Davy Jones, who would have been the Green candidate in Kemptown, says this shows the way forward
The snap general election represents a unique opportunity to defeat this terrible government. We believe that visual artists have a crucial role to play!
Drax is the UK's biggest source of CO2 emissions – and we're paying for it, writes Almuth Ernsting
For the past 3 years, Barby Asante and members of London-based artists' collective, sorryyoufeeluncomfortable, have been responding directly to the vision of James Baldwin. Ahead of the nationwide release of a new film about the American activist and author, they reflect on the enduring relevance of Baldwin in Britain today.
Housing campaigners' gains in Bristol are spurring on a national movement to build a renters' union, writes Stuart Melvin
A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh
We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank
Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports
On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.
Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns
The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections
In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines
Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences
The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally
Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change
Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces
Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond
On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network
Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter
#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement
Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.
Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees
Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides
The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari
Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next
Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace
Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill