Archive for the ‘workers party’ category

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.

===================

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)

Advertisements

Capitalism’s crisis and a progressive exit strategy

January 25, 2012

Review of Debtocracy by Katerina Kitidi & Aris Hatzistefanou (2011)
LookLeft #8, October 2011

Debtocracy is an independent, low budget film that has taken Greece by storm. Released on the internet earlier this year, it has already been seen by over one million Greeks and tens of thousands elsewhere. Using newsreel and archive footage, intercut with interviews with economists and philosophers like Samir Amin and Alain Badiou, Debtocracy presents an unashamedly left-wing view of the economic crisis that has engulfed capitalism.

While its primary focus is Greece, it also touches on the cases of Argentina in 2001, Ecuador in 2005 and the other PIIGS today. It points the finger of blame for the Greek crisis at capitalist politicians, inept economic management, EU restrictions, the loss of financial sovereignty following the adoption of the Euro, and the crippling terms of the European Central Bank and IMF bailouts. Sound familiar?

Using the Ecuadorian example, Debtocracy suggests a way out of the crisis that should also interest us in Ireland. It advocates repudiating “odious debt”, i.e. money owed for projects and investments that benefit only an elite few and not the people (in Ireland’s case, the money tossed down the banking black hole) and investment in public projects and national industry of money generated by natural resources (we have €750 billion worth of offshore oil and gas). Watch this film online at www.debtocracy.gr

National campaign to defeat new household tax launched

January 25, 2012

National campaign to defeat new household tax launched
LookLeft #8, October 2011

Using the cover of the EU/IMF austerity deal, the government announced the imposition of an annual tax of €100 on households. In September, a national meeting of the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes was held, at which over 200 people from 16 different counties initiated a movement that will fight this new tax through non-payment. This campaign includes virtually all left-wing organisations, with the exception of Sinn Fein.

Campaign steering committee member Gregor Kerr says, “it is clear this is just the thin end of the wedge. John Fitzgerald of the ESRI said the approximate annual take should actually be about €1,350 per household. If the government gets away with this initial €100, we’re looking at it rising to €1,300 per household within two years. It’s just another way of extracting more tax from ordinary people, which will go straight into the banking bailout black hole. On top of this, there is Irish capitalism’s privatisation agenda. Therefore, the campaign is organising for people to unite against this tax, to stand up and say ‘No! We won’t pay’”.

The campaign seeks to build a national movement that will “get the idea of non-payment out into communities quickly, even before the bills arrive, so there’s already a feeling that nobody’s paying, neither will we”.  The aim until January is “hosting public meetings and building local non-payment campaigns, with the goal of having open and democratic campaigns in every community. It’s got to be much bigger than the existing Left. If we’re to defeat the government we need to turn people, who may never have done anything political before, into organisers in their own areas”.

In conclusion, Kerr says “in bringing forward local organisers and empowering communities, we’ll not only defeat the tax, the campaign will politicise people and encourage thinking about the type of society we live in and ways change can be brought about.”

To get involved in establishing a non-payment campaign in your community, visit www.nohouseholdtax.org

New issues of LookLeft and Rabble out now

December 22, 2011

r2
Just a heads up that the new issues of LookLeft (#9) and Rabble (#2) are out now.

I’ve a couple of articles in the LookLeft, dealing with the Israeli hijacking of the #Freedomwaves boats in November, and a review feature looking at recent Irish comics and graphic novels.

LookLeft costs €2 and is available from these places. Rabble is free and you can pick it up in lots of places around Dublin, Cork and Galway.

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

Share

Book Review: Revolutionary Pirates?

September 21, 2011

Review: Life Under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on the Golden Age of Piracy by Gabriel Kuhn (PM Press, 2010)
LookLeft #7, July 2011

Almost 100 years before the French Revolution gave the world the slogan ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’, the imperial sea-trading routes were plagued by “floating republics”. These pirate ships of the Golden Age (c.1690-1730) and their crews of “rebels, robbers and rovers” plagued the high seas from Madagascar to the Bahamas. Much has been written about these “republics of rogues”, from both radical and reactionary perspectives. Kuhn’s short book, an attempt to distil the reality from the myth, draws on many sources and illustrates what was indeed revolutionary about these pirates and their rejection of the aristocratic status quo – turning their backs on “institutionalised authority” and attempting to build internally “egalitarian communities” that were the antithesis of the dictatorial regimes that existed on the imperially-sanctioned vessels on which many of these pirates once served.

Kuhn himself is an anarchist, but unlike some other anarchists, he does not ideologically romanticise these Golden Age freebooters either. He is careful to point out that there was much that was decidedly unprogressive about their behaviour – they were brutal, violent, often slave holders and while their democratic form of organisation was revolutionary, generally “they had no social ideals at all” and that if anything, the perceived radicalism of these pirates lies more in their symbolism than in their actuality.

Finally, it has to be said that while the book is not a chronological history of Golden Age piracy – for the most part it explores themes and ideological interpretations – it is an extremely engrossing work that anyone with an interest in this era of history will be rewarded for reading. 

Share

Football Fashionistas

September 21, 2011

Football Fashionistas
LookLeft #7, July 2011

June saw the opening of Ireland’s first dedicated football fashion and revolutionary casual-wear store. As its tagline indicates, Casa Rebelde, located on Crow Street in Dublin’s Temple Bar, is dedicated to supplying quality, affordable European style “clothing for the discerning football fan and revolutionary”, something that has long been lacking in Ireland where overpriced jerseys seem to be all we can buy.

Along with famous brands like Copa (Holland), Partisano (Catalonia) and Fire & Flames (Germany), it also stocks retro jerseys and their own unique line of ‘sports-revolutionary’ t-shirts and posters featuring legends like Paul McGrath, Mohammed Ali, Johnny Giles, Che Guevara and Cristiano Lucarelli. Casa Rebelde is also Ireland’s only official stockist of merchandise from Germany’s famous anti-fascist club FC St. Pauli.

Michael Dixon, the shop’s owner, told LookLeft: “This is my way of sticking up two fingers to those who say sport and politics don’t mix. Just because sporting bureaucrats want us to believe it, it doesn’t make it true. Besides, there’s no reason why football fans shouldn’t look stylish too”.

Casa Rebelde is on the web at www.casarebelde.com