Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
As the occupation forces build a five-kilometre sectarian wall in Baghdad, the notion of divide and rule becomes ever more real. Yet one wall in the Middle East dwarfs this latest Baghdad adventure. This is the 730- kilometre separation wall being built by the Israeli government to isolate the Palestinian people.
Eight metres high in most places, when it reaches completion it will de facto annex 47 per cent of the West Bank, cutting deep into Palestinian land, creating ghettos, and isolating people from their land and work. Diverging dramatically from the 1967 ‘green line’, when it is complete the wall will cut off some 12 per cent of the Palestinian population, including 200,000 in east Jerusalem, from the rest of the West Bank.
This colonial project, however, is not progressing without ardent local resistance. The key movement coordinating opposition within Palestine is the Grassroots Palestinian Anti- Apartheid Wall Campaign, or Stop the Wall for short. Founded in October 2002 as the first bulldozers started work, the campaign has been central to mobilising resistance to the wall both in and outside Palestine.
The campaign was initially started by Palestinian NGOs out of an urgent need to act, but then developed popular committees, which work on the ground to organise protests and collect information. This grassroots mobilisation has meant that despite the fact that the coalition included some quite conservative NGOs from the Palestinian Environmental NGOs network (Pengon), it has developed a radical tone and outlook. The stress on the word apartheid to describe the wall, for instance, now widely accepted in international Palestinian solidarity movements, was pioneered by Stop the Wall following research it conducted into similarities with the South African apartheid system.
It also recognises that although its formal aims are limited to stopping the wall, dismantling parts of it already built, returning confiscated Palestinian land and winning compensation for those affected by it, these goals are an integral part of the Palestinian liberation struggle against the occupation as a whole.
The campaign’s focus on a unified national framework for resistance has allowed it to tap into the networks of its member groups and mobilise successfully in a short period of time while rejecting sectarian party politics. This has led to a situation where large numbers of activists respond to its mobilisations without exclusively identifying themselves as part of the Stop the War campaign.
This sort of fluidity, which so characterises the international anti-globalisation movement, is a fundamental character of the way in which Stop the Wall operates, but it is not just on a practical level that the identification works. ‘We see ourselves as sharing the same visions and goals as the global justice movement,’ says one campaign worker at the campaign’s small office in Ramallah. Indeed, Stop the Wall sits on the international council of the World Social Forum, and seeks to bring Palestinian issues into the mainstream of the global movement at events like the WSF, linking it to discussions on trade, aid and conflict. Its work on the World Bank’s role in helping to construct the Israeli apartheid system is just one example of the connections it seeks to make.
The fact that Stop the Wall situates the Palestinian struggle in the context of the wider struggle against neoliberalism and empire sets it apart from other Palestinian organisations, which look at the occupation through a more myopic lens. It has also meant that the campaign has sought to prioritise certain tactics that work well for international solidarity, such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.
In Palestine itself, mass mobilisations have not been limited to those along the wall’s path. They have also involved events such as the mass lobby of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in 2003 to persuade him to start raising the issue of the wall in the international arena.
At the same time the Palestinian Authority regularly consults the campaign for statistics about the wall, and a clear picture of the damage done to Palestinians’ livelihoods and lands. The reputation that Stop the Wall has gained as a reliable source of information and research on the wall has buffered it somewhat from criticism of its more radical politics.
The campaign aspires to fully democratic and non-hierarchical organisation, though it is well aware of the need to involve more women and younger people, especially at the grassroots level.
Yet this self-reflectiveness and lack of bombast, together with its grassroots approach and determination not to let Northern organisations dictate its tactics and terminology, make it one of the most inspiring things to come out of the desperate situation in occupied Palestine today.
The police spend little of their time making arrests, and most crimes are not solved, writes Alex Vitale – their real purpose is social control
Many important things happened on conference floor, reports Alex Nunns – but you wouldn’t know it from reading the newspapers
Radhika Desai says Capital by Karl Marx is still an essential read on the 150th anniversary of its publication
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
#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
Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
The scheme has cost a fortune and done nothing but cause suffering. So why does it exist at all? Tom Walker digs into universal credit’s origins in Tory ideology
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
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum
The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes
Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference
Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki
Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers
Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going