Archive for the ‘connolly books’ category

Audio: 21st Century Republicanism (McKearney, Leeson, Ó Broin & Redmond)

April 16, 2012

L-R: Tommy McKearney, Eoin Ó Broin, Mary Cullen, Brian Leeson & Tom Redmond

On Saturday 14th April 2012, a very interesting meeting took place upstairs in Connolly Books, Dublin. The meeting, entitled ’21st Century Republicanism’, brought together some important thinkers and activists from the Irish republican and socialist left. A standing room only crowd packed in to see former IRA prisoner Tommy McKearney (author of The Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament), Eoin Ó Broin of Sinn Féin (author of Sinn Féin and the Politics of Left Republicanism), éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson and Tom Redmond of the Communist Party of Ireland. The meeting was chaired by Mary Cullen of the Ireland Institute and editor of The Citizen magazine. Following the contributions of each of the speakers, there was a very interesting Q&A session. I think the Communist Party should be thanked for hosting this much needed discussion, which will hopefully be the merely the first in a series teasing out the issues involved in left republicanism.

For those who were unable to make it along, you can listen to a recording of the talk that I made. Download it by clicking here (right click and ‘save target/link as’ – mp3, 2hrs35mins). The CPI also made a video of it, but I’m not sure when that will be online.

Here’s the poster for the event, which, incidentally, was designed by a certain Citizen of this blog.


This is the first in a short series of meeting being hosted by the Communist Party over the next couple of months. The next, on the topic of ‘Culture & Class’, will take place on Saturday 28 April at 2pm, again upstairs in Connolly Books.

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Two reviews of Dr. David Landy’s ‘Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights’

January 25, 2012

Below are two, essentially identical, reviews of Dr. David Landy’s Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel, for LookLeft magazine and SIPTU’s Liberty newspaper.

Identity Crisis? Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights. Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel by David Landy (Zed, 2011)
LookLeft #8, October 2011

Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights is a ground-breaking investigation into the relatively recent phenomenon of organised international Jewish criticism of the Israeli state. From the outset Landy, an Irish-Jewish academic in Trinity, opposes the much touted rightwing view that those involved in this field are either “self-hating Jews” or suffering from “identity crises”. He instead asserts that such groups, in their various different forms, exist because those involved are universalist in outlook and feel that, as Jews, they can play a role in ending Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.

While not uncritical of these groups, Landy points out that they have played a very important role in making both Jewish and non-Jewish criticism of Israel more “acceptable” in the mainstream than previously. This is especially true for Western Europe, where the shadow of the Nazi holocaust still looms large – no longer do people have the same fear of being painted as “self-haters” or “anti-Semitic” by Israel’s supporters. However, their positive role in wider society aside, outside of providing a relatively safe avenue for Israel-critical Jews to “come out”, these groups have thus far failed to make a serious impact within the Jewish diaspora. Landy also outlines some of the problems with the worldviews of some of these groups, a major one being that Palestinians can be essentially eliminated from their discourse, treating what is a national liberation issue instead as a “Jewish issue” that will only be solved by Jews.

In conclusion, Landy points out that although his is the first such study of this emerging movement, it is not the “definitive” account. These groups have grown and developed over the past decade – some even moving into the “boycott and solidarity” camp – and will continue to evolve in the future. Despite the sometimes slightly alienating academic jargon, for anyone interested in the Palestinian solidarity movement and/or the long history of progressive and critical Jewish thought, this book is highly recommended.

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Palestine’s Jewish Lobby: Book about Jewish opposition to Israel launched in Dublin
Liberty, November 2011

Prof. David Landy

The long-standing concern for Palestine in Ireland was evident in the capacity crowd which attended the launch of Professor David Landy’s Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Opposition to Israel (Zed, 2011) in Dublin’s New Theatre on the 1st November.

The book is a groundbreaking examination of the relatively recent phenomenon of organised international Jewish criticism of Israel. Landy, an Irish-Jewish lecturer in Trinity College, opposes the right-wing view that those involved in this field are either “self-hating Jews” or suffering from “identity crises”. His view is that such groups exist because those involved are universalist in outlook and feel that, as Jews, they can play a role in ending Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.

While not uncritical of these groups, Landy points out that they have played an extremely important role in making both Jewish and non-Jewish criticism of Israel more “acceptable” in mainstream discourse – no longer do Israel’s critics harbour the same fear of being painted as “self-haters” or “anti-Semitic” by that state’s supporters. However, notwithstanding this positive role in wider society, outside of providing a relatively safe avenue for Israel-critical Jews to “come out”, these groups have so far failed to make a serious impact within the Jewish diaspora itself.

The book outlines the problems often associated with the world views of some of these groups. Often Palestinians can be essentially eliminated from their discourse, treating what is a national liberation issue instead as a “Jewish issue”. As Trinity Professor Ronit Lentin, herself an Israeli, said at the launch; “The book does not shirk from the difficult question as to whether movement members’
activism is about constructing a ‘better’ Jewish identity or about genuine solidarity.”

Wrapping up the event Professors Landy and Lentin said that although this is the first such study of this emerging movement it could not be considered “definitive” as these groups have developed significantly over the past decade, and that “the thing about social movements is they are always moving”.

A recording of the launch – which was a collaboration between Zed Books, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Trinity College Department of Sociology and Poster Fish Promotionscan be heard online here (Note: I also spoke at the launch)

Audio: Launch of David Landy’s ‘Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights’

November 2, 2011

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign has posted the audio I recorded of the launch of Dr. David Landy’s new book, Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Opposition to Israel earlier this week. Along with my good friend David, Prof. Ronit Lentin from the TCD Sociology department and myself also spoke, and the meeting was chaired by Raymond Deane from the IPSC.I also reviewed the book for the current issue of LookLeft magazine.

Copied from the IPSC website:

Audio: Launch of David Landy’s ‘Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights’

Tuesday 1st November saw the launch of Professor David Landy’s Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Opposition to Israel (Zed, 2011) at a standing room only event in Dublin’s New Theatre. The book is an outstanding, ground-breaking examination of the relatively recent phenomenon of organised international Jewish criticism of Israel. More information on the book can read here.

To download and listen to the audio recording, please click here (MP3 format, right click and ‘save target/link as’).

Speakers: Dr. David Landy (author and TCD academic), Dr. Ronit Lentin (author and TCD academic) and Kevin Squires (IPSC National Coordinator). Chair: Raymond Deane

The book was launched in conjunction with Zed Books, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Department of Sociology in TCD and Poster Fish Promotions. Audio provided by Citizen Partridge.

LookLeft issue 8 in the shops now

October 7, 2011

Just a heads up that the new issue of LookLeft (#8) is now in the shops (including every Eason’s nationwide). I’ve got three articles in it – one about the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes and two reviews of Debtocracy and Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights. Go pick up a copy.

Also, keep an eye out for the upcoming new issue of No Quarter (#6, Anti-Fascist Action’s magazine) in which I will have an article on the ultra-right in Israel.

In this issue of LookLeft

Can trade unions lead a fight back? – Paul Dillon examines the strategic choices which face the trade union movement North and South

LookLeft looks at how class defines health outcomes

Nama plays no constructive economic role so why was it created, asks Conor McCabe

Historian Brain Hanley takes a look at the life of socialist-republican George Gilmore

Donal Fallon and Kevin Brannigan take alook at Ultra football culture

ESB – ‘It’s Your energy…for now”

Slaves and Slavery – William Wall looks at the economics underpinning the Magdalene Laundries

Tom Redmond on Left Unity

Reports from Bodenstown and Peter Daly commemorations

Tomas MacGiolla – An enduring legacy

Fighting austerity in the Banana Republic of Italy – Angela Gissi, an Italian living in Ireland, examine the backgroudn to Italy’s recent general strike

An Uncertain Future – the Arab Spring

A toxic Triangle – Gavan Titley examines the media’s role in the growth of Islamophobia.

Saving the Euro and the cowardice of Social Democracy – Influential Greek economist, Yanis Varoufakis,

Interview with the authors of White Riot and history of Punk

Plus

Three pages of news from working class communities and the left

Five pages of reviews

The Jemmy Hope Column

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Audio recording of book launch of ‘The Provisional IRA – From Insurrection to Parliament’ by Tommy McKearney

August 11, 2011

On Wednesday 10th August 2011, Tommy McKearney launched his book The Provisional IRA – From Insurrection to Parliament in Connolly Books. Over 70 people crowded into (and some had to remain in the street) the small shop to hear veteran trade unionist Mick O’Reilly and éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson talk about the work and its lessons for, and relevance to, the Irish struggle for social and national liberation today. Tommy himself then spoke (very briefly) about the book.

I have not yet read the book (I bought my copy at the launch today), but judging by the great blurbs and superlatives by friends and comrades, it seems like a must-read. You should go and buy it from Connolly Books! Anyway…

To listen to/download the recording in mp3 or ogg format, please go here.

Speakers:

Pauline Conroy (Chair)
Eugene McCartan (General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland)
Mick O’Reilly (Vice President of Dublin Council of Trade Unions)
Brian Leeson (Chairperson of éirígí)
Tommy McKearney (author and former Provisional IRA member, blanketman and 1980 hunger striker)

And here is the blurb from the publisher’s (Pluto) website:

This book analyses the underlying reasons behind the formation of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), its development, where this current in Irish republicanism is at present and its prospects for the future.

Tommy McKearney, a former IRA member who was part of the 1980 hunger strike, challenges the misconception that the Provisional IRA was only, or even wholly, about ending partition and uniting Ireland. He argues that while these objectives were always the core and headline demands of the organisation, opposition to the old Northern Ireland state was a major dynamic for the IRA’s armed campaign. As he explores the makeup and strategy of the IRA he is not uncritical, examining alternative options available to the movement at different periods, arguing that its inability to develop a clear socialist programme has limited its effectiveness and reach.

This authoritative and engaging history provides a fascinating insight into the workings and dynamics of a modern resistance movement.

About the Author

Tommy McKearney was a senior member of the Provisional IRA from the early 1970s until his arrest in 1977. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he served 16 years during which time he participated in the 1980 hunger strike in Long Kesh. He is now a freelance journalist and an organiser with the Independent Workers Union.

Tommy McKearney, author

Mick O'Reilly, DCTU

Brian Leeson. éirígí

The story of Eleanor Kasrils: A husband’s tribute to a valiant fighter

August 8, 2011

Below is an article I wrote for LookLeft magazine last month about Ronnie Kasrils new book about his late wife and her part in the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. I’ve also uploaded an audio recording of the talk, which was hosted by the Communist Party of Ireland in Connolly Books, Dublin. You can listen to the audio by clicking here.

Sadly, a few days later another veteran of the anti-Apartheid struggle (and one who, like Ronnie and Eleanor, was outspoken in support of the Palestinian battle against Israeli apartheid), Kader Asmal, passed away.

The story of Eleanor Kasrils: A husband’s tribute to a valiant fighter
LookLeft #7, July 2011

Ronnie Kasrils, famed veteran of the South African anti-apartheid movement, visited Dublin to launch his new book The Unlikely Secret Agent, about his late wife Eleanor. ‘Red’ Ronnie’s revolutionary legacy is well known and detailed in his own autobiography Armed and Dangerous; a white South African Jew, he joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) and both the African National Congress (ANC) and its armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in the early 1960s. He rose through their respective ranks, eventually serving in several ministerial positions in post-apartheid South Africa and he remains one of the world’s most outspoken critics of modern apartheid as practised by the Israeli state against the Palestinians today.

Yet, as Ronnie pointed out at the launch in Connolly Books, the stories of the many hundreds of thousands of people who formed the backbone of the worldwide anti-apartheid movement often remain unknown. This book about his wife is one such story and is his contribution to the people’s history of this heroic struggle.

 

In introducing the book, he spoke movingly about the “staggeringly courageous” Eleanor who died in 2009 – how she was radicalised by the Sharpville massacre and became an important underground operative with the ANC via her job in Durban’s famous Grigg’s bookstore (an important message-dropping point for wanted activists), and as an active member of the MK armed resistance. He recounted one tale of how her simple ingenuity (along with the help of a shebeen) enabled the MK to steal half-a-ton of dynamite from a quarry for armed operations in the wake of Nelson Mandela’s arrest.

Eventually in 1963, with her lover Ronnie on the run, Eleanor was lifted by the Security Branch (SB) and taken for interrogation at the Wentworth ‘House of Truth’. Here was violently abused by the SB men whose mission was to “break her or hang her” in an attempt to find Ronnie’s whereabouts. What the SB didn’t know was that she was an important MK member herself and if broken could have revealed many destructive secrets. But she didn’t break, instead she “engaged in a personal duel of wits with her brutal captors”, faking a nervous breakdown which landed her in a prison psychiatric unit from which he she promptly escaped. After reuniting with Ronnie, the pair fled the country and continued their struggle from exile.

The book itself – an obvious labour of love – is a ripping read and a fitting tribute to a woman of immense courage, skill and principle. Eleanor was one of the few white South Africans to enter the clandestine struggle at this early period when the ANC’s MK wing had embarked upon a campaign of – literally – explosive resistance to the racist apartheid regime. Her defiance of this state – before, during and after her imprisonment – and refusal to submit to its brutality was nothing short of heroic. Eleanor’s story, like the story of the anti-apartheid movement as a whole, is inspirational, poignant and still relevant.

As Ronnie pointed out while summing up his talk, the importance of the role which the international boycott and solidarity movement played in the eventual victory in 1990 of the South African national liberation movement was immense. Being in Ireland, he specifically mentioned the Dunnes Stores boycott strikers, and personally thanked two veteran Irish anti-apartheid activists present at the meeting. He finished by saying that international solidarity against colonialism and imperialism is not merely something from times gone by, it remains of great consequence to people resisting oppression across the globe today.

Note: This article appeared in LookLeft under the headline ‘The Battle to Free South Africa’.