Category Archives: anti-war

Make sure your at this year’s SY Summer Festival

Capitalism in crisis
The continuing crisis of capitalism is destroying all options for young people. With 430,000 on the dole, the idea of finding a halfway decent job is all but gone.

Friday 20th August – Saturday 22nd August
Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow
Food, Travel, Accomodation – €60/£50

Download the leaflet here.

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Come to the Socialist Youth Summer Festival

SY Summer Festival Brochure

SY Summer Festival Brochure

Friday 22nd August – Sunday 24th August

Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow

All Welcome

Cost: €65/£50 (Cost includes accomodation, food and travel)

To download the brochure please click here.

If you would like to book your place please send your name, address, phone, e-mail and any special food requirements you may need to:

Socialist Youth Dublin
P.O. Box 3434, Dublin 8

Socialist Youth Belfast
13 Lombard St
Belfast
BT1 1RB

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Successful protests against Bush visit

By Daniel Waldron, Belfast Socialist Youth

On 16 June, the slogan ‘No Bush’ was displayed on Divis Mountain, overlooking Belfast. While George Bush was greeted with smiles and handshakes by the politicians, this piece of artwork by local activists summed up the attitude of ordinary people towards the visit of the warmonger. Radio shows were flooded with calls about the massive disruption being caused to people by the huge police operations in place to protect this unwelcome visitor.

Bush’s visit was met with vibrant protest, much bigger than recent anti-war mobilisations. At a lunchtime rally at City Hall organised by the Belfast Anti-War Movement, 500 protestors gathered, many from nearby workplaces. The crowd was very youthful, with many saying they had never been to a protest before. Clearly, revulsion at Bush’s invitation and everything he represents had inspired a new layer of young people to get active.

Ogra Shinn Fein and SDLP Youth had members at the rally, protesting Bush’s reception while their leaders posed for the cameras by his side and smiled as he tried to bask in the reflected glow of the ‘peace process’. Rightly, this hypocrisy was denounced from the platform.

Unfortunately, the idea of building a political alternative to challenge the sectarian parties and the neo-liberal agenda that they share with Bush was not raised. Those, like Socialist Youth, who raise socialist ideas have been consciously excluded from BAWM platforms. The Socialist Workers Party, which undemocratically controls the BAWM, doesn’t want to risk ‘scaring off’ right-wing trade union bureaucrats.

Despite the intimidatory police presence, 200 made their way to the gates of Stormont, to bring the protest right to the local politicians’ front door. There were noisy chants and speaker after speaker denounced both Bush and the local politicians.

These protests were important and ensured that Bush was not able to freely portray himself as a ‘man of peace’. They also gave an indication that, by consistently connecting the crisis in the Middle East to the attacks on workers’ conditions here, it is possible to rebuild a mass anti-war movement.

Belfast: End the occupation of Iraq – Young people show their anger

On the 15 March nearly 300 people protested in Belfast city centre on a wet and miserable day to show their anger at the war and occupation of Iraq.

Billions of pounds are being wasted annually by the British government while local hospital units and schools are getting closed across Northern Ireland.

Socialist Youth had a loud and very visible contingent on the demonstration arguing for a socialist solution to the crisis in the Middle East. We got an excellent response with a number of people joining on the day and more interested in finding out more.

Gaza – End the bloodshed

 

Judy Beishon 

The opening trigger for this latest bloodshed was the Israeli assassination of five leading Hamas fighters, which was followed by over 40 Qassam rockets being fired by Palestinians on the Israeli town of Sderot, one of which killed an Israeli man. The subsequent Israeli onslaught on Gaza was coldly described by Israeli politicians as a “limited” operation, well short of the full scale invasion being considered.

The conflict then continued with an East Jerusalem Palestinian man shooting dead eight Jewish religious students in Jerusalem in the deadliest attack in Israel for over a year, and the first in Jerusalem for four years. The gunman’s family said he was reacting to the events in Gaza.

Conditions for the Palestinians in both parts of the occupied territories are now the worst in the entire 40 year occupation. In the “open air prison” of the Gaza strip, they are catastrophic, with a majority of people unemployed and suffering from malnutrition and a shortage of necessities. The Israeli government has restricted the power supply to the strip, causing power cuts for up to 12 hours a day, including to hospitals. The Israeli regime removed the Jewish settlements from the strip in 2005, but maintained complete control of the borders, sea and air space, and has let in few goods since Hamas – the Islamic Resistance Movement – was elected to government by Palestinians in 2006. Brutal Israeli army actions have regularly been carried out, using tanks, bulldozers and helicopters, including in the summer of 2006 when 400 Palestinians were killed.

At best, the western imperialist powers tend to describe the slaughter by the Israeli army as “excessive and disproportionate force”, whereas Palestinian violence is described by many of them as terrorism. The term “disproportionate” is a sickening understatement. Palestinian rockets have killed 14 Israelis since they were first fired in 2001. But last year alone, 379 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. Last year’s ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths in the conflict was 40:1. This year, over 200 Palestinians have been killed in the first 10 weeks alone.

As Seumas Milne pointed out in The Guardian, there are no Palestinian rockets being fired from the West Bank, nevertheless there have been 480 Israeli military attacks there in the last three months with 26 Palestinians killed. Socialists are necessarily critical of right wing Palestinian parties and those that act against workers’ interests, including Hamas and Fatah and their militias. But the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) has always defended the Palestinians’ right to armed resistance against the brutal occupation. However, this vitally necessary resistance, together with offensive campaigns against the occupation, should be democratically organised and controlled, involving the widest possible number of people. And it should be of a mass character, rather than being carried out by the various small, competing, secretive militias.

It also needs to be recognised that attacks on Israeli civilians in Israel are counter-productive. Enraged at the killings and repression, Palestinian militias want to imitate Hezbollah in Lebanon and inflict damage on the Israeli regime. But as well as bringing more repression down on the Palestinians, increasing their suffering and making struggle more difficult, the rocket fire is pushing Israeli workers away from sympathising with the Palestinians’ plight and closer to the war aims and other positions of the Israeli capitalist class. The recent escalation in rocket firings has strengthened the Israeli far right and increased the number of Israelis who favour violent retribution. The situation could escalate further at any moment, and the danger of a wider war drawing in surrounding states is ever present. Right wing Jewish settlers have threatened revenge attacks, particularly as five of the eight men killed this month in Jerusalem were from religious Jewish settlements.

The latest slaughter in Gaza inflamed Palestinians in the West Bank and inside Israel; demonstrations broke out, with some participants resorting to stone throwing and petrol bombs. Demonstrations also took place in other countries of the region, including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has declared that:  “everything is on the table – ground operations, air [strikes] and special operations”. The deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, threatened a “holocaust” on the Palestinians.

But the Israeli government is caught in a major dilemma between conflicting pressures. Some politicians, particularly on the right and far right, advocate a full invasion of Gaza, while others warn of the dangers of this, and 64% of the population – according to a recent poll – favour government negotiations with Hamas (the party that heads the Palestinian Authority in Gaza).  A choice of a full invasion, which would mean deaths of Israeli soldiers as well as a great number of Palestinians, or the humiliation of negotiating with Hamas, is seen as a choice between “the plague and cholera”, in the words of a leading Israeli journalist. Olmert fears that if the Israeli army goes in, it will not easily get out again. When it went into Lebanon in 1982, it was there for 18 years.

The US Bush regime – which massively finances the Israeli military – is vehemently opposed to any negotiations with Hamas, which it calls a “terrorist” organisation, part of an anti-US “axis of evil” alongside Hezbollah and the Iranian regime. This is despite the fact that Hamas has said it would like to negotiate a long term truce. Hamas was elected to government in January 2006, with 43% of the vote, and quickly faced Israeli and international sanctions. The sanctions created a financial crisis which led to the non-payment of public sector workers’ wages. Clashes broke out between Fatah and Hamas’ security forces and individual supporters, because of Fatah supporters’ frustration at Fatah losing its privileges associated with its long time in power, and at the unpaid wages. The clashes were deliberately encouraged by Bush’s US regime, which was funding Fatah forces in order to try to destroy Hamas’ rule.

In an attempt in the occupied territories to cut across the division and end sanctions, a “unity” government involving both Hamas and Fatah was formed in March 2007 (negotiated in Mecca), but neither the US or Israel accepted this government, because of the leading role in it of Hamas, and they set out to destroy it. The UN Middle East envoy Alvaro de Soto spelt this out in a leaked report when he said that: “the US clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas”. The US increased its funding of Abbas’ forces after the unity government was agreed, with the stated aim of giving Abbas the military power to be able to dismiss the unity cabinet.

Around 700 Palestinians died in six months of clashes, which culminated in June 2007 with Hamas ousting Fatah security forces in Gaza in a complete “takeover” of the strip, and Abbas then declaring a new government – which has only been able to operate on the West Bank. Far from weakening the Hamas leaders as the Israeli regime wants, the use of Israeli military force is strengthening them, as Palestinians see them as under attack by the population’s oppressors. Hamas also increased its standing, which had previously dipped, when it temporarily broke through the Gaza-Egypt border in January, allowing hundreds of thousands of Gazans to cross into Egypt to buy goods.

Instead of harming Hamas, the attacks on Gaza have weakened Israel’s present chosen “talks” partner, Palestinian president Mahmood Abbas, whose dwindling Fatah power base is confined to the West Bank. Faced with outrage from Palestinians, Abbas briefly suspended negotiations with Israel, only then to agree to resume them without even the precondition that Israeli attacks on Gaza should stop. And the use of Israeli military might is not stopping Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli towns, but rather is increasing it. In a new departure, a number of Grad rockets have hit Ashkelon, an Israeli city of over 100,000 people, 20 kilometres north of Gaza.

The Israeli regime has no coherent strategy at present. Not long ago, Olmert declared that Israel will have to accept a Palestinian state to avoid the prospect of Palestinians becoming a majority of the population within the area controlled by Israel. But as Financial Times writer Philip Stephens commented: “Analysis is one thing. The will to change course is another. Mr Olmert anyway lacks political authority. His coalition could collapse at any moment”. Olmert is certainly weak and detested, falling to 3% in opinion polls at one stage. But he remains in power because there is no obvious replacement; all the representatives of Israeli capitalism are highly discredited.

Not surprisingly, media commentators are saying that the “peace process”, that started in Annapolis last November, is in crisis. But it never was a remotely viable peace process, given the present stance of the Israeli ruling class. Even a Financial Times editorial (6.3.08) felt driven to say: “Israel, arguably, has never pursued a realistic peace settlement”. In the last week alone, the Israeli leadership has authorised the building of 400 more homes in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem and 750 in a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem, both of them Palestinian areas occupied by Israel since 1967. Now, fuelling continued pessimism by commentators, while the US demands a return to talks, it is not even calling for a ceasefire in Gaza by Israel.

The Israeli economy is in its fifth year of growth, yet there is a rapidly widening class divide, with the rich getting richer and a third of children now living in poverty. There have been waves of attacks on the welfare state and on secure jobs, by successive governments in pursuit of a neo-liberal agenda. Tremendous anger towards the government has built up, on economic issues and over deteriorating security. Israeli Jews will never be free of the constant cycles of violence as long as they are led by capitalist politicians who regularly have an interest in resorting to national conflict. On the contrary, the prospect of worse bloodshed is becoming greater. The Israeli working class, however, rather than being a future obstacle to a genuine Palestinian state (as some left organisations internationally believe), can develop into a powerful and decisive force against the Israeli ruling class, that must be defeated to solve both Israeli workers’ aspirations and those of the Palestinians.

Ordinary Palestinians have repeatedly shown a willingness to struggle, not just against the occupation but also against their own completely inadequate “leaders”, as recent workers’ strikes in the West Bank have shown. They do not want their “government” to be divided between Fatah and Hamas; there have been calls for “national unity” at the many funerals and polls show that this is presently seen as the most important issue. However, neither the politics of Hamas, nor the pro-western imperialism Fatah, can show a way forward. A capitalist Palestinian state, whether Islamic or secular, would not solve the Palestinians’ economic problems. The Hamas leaders have rejected the overt corruption of Fatah and have condemned the actions of US imperialism, but when in power, whether in councils or government, they have turned to passing the burden of economic crisis onto the shoulders of workers through job cuts and privatisation, as has Fatah.

Neither does either party have a strategy that can deliver a Palestinian state against the massively armed opposition of the Israeli ruling class. The development of new mass workers’ parties in both the Palestinian territories and in Israel is urgently needed. It is essential that socialist ideas are developed in these parties. A poverty-free Palestinian state will not be achieved on the basis of capitalism. And in Israel, with its far more developed economy, capitalism is unable to provide acceptable living standards for a vast layer of ordinary people.

Faced with the existence of the new “security” wall that has been built by Israel, eating significantly into Palestinian land; also with the expansion of Jewish settlements and atomisation of Palestinian areas; some on the left internationally call for a single, secular, democratic state of Palestinians and Jews. But this idea raises enormous fear in the region – especially among Israeli Jews, who fear becoming a discriminated-against minority in such a state, as the Palestinian birth rate is out-stripping that of Jews. Jewish workers will not be won over to seriously challenge their own ruling class and embrace socialist ideas, faced with such a goal.  Only on the basis of a socialist Israel alongside a socialist Palestine can there be a rise in living standards for ordinary people on both sides of the divide, and the necessary democracy and links to ensure the building of trust and communication across the national divide, and an end to the bloodshed for ever.

We demand

– For the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Occupied Territories!

– For an end to the Israeli blockade of Palestinian towns and villages.

– For the establishment in the occupied territories of grass-roots committees, to provide the basis for genuine and democratic workers’ leadership. For the right of these committees to be armed for the purposes of defence.

– For a mass struggle of the Palestinians, under their democratic control, to raise their standard of living and to fight for genuine national liberation.

– For an end to the use of Israeli soldiers as cannon fodder by the Israeli ruling class and army generals. n For a struggle by Israeli Palestinians against institutionalised racism and their treatment as second class citizens.

For an end to unemployment and poverty in Israel. For a struggle of the Israeli working class – both Jewish and Palestinian – to end capitalism.

– For a socialist Palestine alongside a socialist Israel as part of a voluntary socialist confederation of the Middle East, with guaranteed democratic rights for all national minorities.

Troops out of Iraq now!

Paddy Meehan

In just five years, the seemingly invincible super-power of the US and its ‘Coalition of the Willing’ has been brought to its knees in a war they thought would last a few weeks. Instead, there is no end in sight to the disaster they have created, not only for themselves, but for the people of Iraq.

In the last few weeks, Iraq has been invaded yet again, this time by the Turkish military in their own local ‘War on Terror’. This incursion was only supported by the US on the basis that it would be short. The fear of US imperialism is that yet another insurgency could develop in what has been up to now supposedly the most stable region of Iraq.

Pressure is continually mounting in the US for withdrawal of troops. Both Clinton and Obama have been forced to deal with the issue of Iraq in their primary campaigns but neither can give a definite date for withdrawal. As 62% of Americans believe the war was a mistake, both candidates are desperate to outdo each other by appearing to call for withdrawal. However, both had their chance in the Senate to block funding for the war and ensure an end of the occupation, but chose not to.

The need to secure Iraq’s oil resources and US imperialism’s interests in the region will be the priority for the next President. Deploying divide-and-rule tactics, the US has leaned on different tribal and religious militias to pit them against each other. This has involved arming and integrating into the army and police the Sunni Awakening Councils, supposedly as a reward for their fight against Al-Qaeda. Instead, this has resulted in the army and police being split along sectarian lines.

Any talk of withdrawal of the US-led occupation is set in the distant future and only on the criteria that a divided Iraq can be controlled from the outside. The prospect of ethnic cleansing and a sectarian war is an afterthought in their thirst to secure the country’s oil resources.

The occupation of Iraq can only deliver more bloodshed, sectarian division and dire poverty. It has been a disaster for the people of Iraq and also threatens to destabilise the entire region. Only the Iraqi people themselves should decide their own destiny. The corrupt warlords and religious fundamentalists who effectively control large parts of Iraq rely on sectarian division and offer no way out of the barbaric conditions most Iraqis have to endure. Capitalism offers no solution for the people of Iraq.

Socialists support all attempts by Iraqi workers, youth and poor to build a movement which fights against the barbaric conditions of poverty, sectarian conflict and the occupation. Such a movement should also fight for a socialist alternative where the resources of Iraq are publicly owned and democratically run to meet peoples’ needs.

Thousands endorse Socialist Youth anti-war campaign

Socialist Youth ran a very successful campaign across Northern Ireland against the occupation of Iraq in the run-up to the 5th anniversary of the invasion. Thousands of signatures were collected from school students calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Dozens of stalls with anti-war leaflets and information about the occupation were held outside many schools in Belfast, such as St. Joseph’s College on the Ravenhill Rd, Ashfield Boys and Girls School in East Belfast and St Malachy’s Grammar on the Antrim Rd.

Hatred for George W Bush has definitely not disappeared amongst young people as was evidenced by our anti-Bush badges being sold out on many stalls. As well as campaigning in schools, Socialist Youth members also organised activity in Belfast Metropolitan College, Queen’s University and University of Ulster Coleraine where we received an attentive responsive from students.

As a result of this campaigning work, the profile of Socialist Youth has leaped and socialist ideas have been introduced to thousands of young people.

Iraq five years on: End the Occupation – Fight for a socialist solution

By Paddy Meehan, Socialist Youth Regional Organiser

In 2003 Bush’s top commanders met to discuss the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They concluded then it would take four years to “normalise” the country. Yet from this March, US and British troops will have been in Iraq for five years with no end in sight to the conflict.

Bush’s intention is to dump the mess of Iraq onto his successor. It is estimated that the war and occupation of Iraq has claimed the lives of  over one million Iraqis and 4,000 US troops. No US presidential candidate has committed themselves to a complete withdrawal from Iraq. Both Republicans and Democrats represent the interests of companies like Haliburton and Blackwater who have made billions of dollars from the suffering and destruction in Iraq.

The US mission to ‘stabilise’ Iraq has failed miserably as 70% of Iraqi’s are without access to adequate water supplies and in total 4.6 million people have been forced to leave their homes. Living standards in Iraq are getting worse despite contracts of over $20 billion being paid to companies to rebuild Iraq. The US Congressional hearings in February 2007 stated that $10 billion was either “wasted or mismanaged” in Iraq. Along with this hardship, Iraq is descending into sectarian war. US forces lean on different ethnic and religious groups attempting to keep their control of the country. The Sunni Awakening Councils are being recruited extensively into the police and army. This is an attempt to challenge the control of Shia militias such as the Mehdi army by backing sections of the Sunni forces. But the real outcome is a fracturing of the police and army along religious lines, which can increase the likelihood of civil war.

US imperialism’s divide and rule strategy is directly contributing to the increasing sectarian divisions. Imperialism has no progressive role to play in the future of Iraq, and the longer the occupying armies remain the greater the chances of civil war and a break up of the country.   Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party believe that a united movement of working class Iraqis of all ethnic and religious backgrounds could drive out the occupying armies. A struggle by such a movement of the working class against imperialism and for a socialist solution is the only way to guarantee freedom, democracy and a decent life for all.

On 15 March thousands will protest around the world against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the north Socialist Youth is aimimg to collect 5,000 signatures before the anniversary to show the opposition to the war. If you can help collect signatures or can build support for the protest please contact Socialist Youth at socialist.youth@btconnect.com or 02890232962.

In the south Socialist Youth will be participating in protests and also organising a series of “Resistance” meetings around the country at which young people can discuss political issues like the occupation of Iraq, climate change and socialism. You can find out more about Socialist Youth’s “Resistance” and anti-war activities by visiting socialistyouth.wordpress.com or phone us at 01 6772592.

Dublin: Join Socialist Youth on the anti-war demo on Saturday 15th March, 1pm Parnell Square, Dublin. more info – www.bebo.com/Socialist-Youth.

Belfast: Join the Socialist Youth contingent on the protest, Sat 15th March, 2pm Arts College, York St. (beside St Ann’s Cathedral)