BAE Systems blockade by Workers for a Free Palestine in November

Most of our attention is correctly focused on the horrendous carnage in Gaza. 
Huge numbers of Palestinians have been murdered with many non-combatants, women and children among them.
Yet events in the West Bank shine an illuminating light on the real intentions of the Israeli state. 
Zionism’s aim is the destruction of Hamas and the extermination of the Palestinian people—and with this the end to any chance of peace in the Middle East.
The Israeli forces are arming the settlers and have supplied over 30,000 automatic rifles.
An investigation by Harretz, an Israeli newspaper, found Palestinians had been beaten by uniformed soldiers and settlers. 
Two Palestinians had been urinated on, had cigarettes stubbed out on their bodies and one had been sexually assaulted. 
We do have the power as workers to help the Palestinian people both practically and politically. 
One way is by supporting the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign. It is inspired by the successful example of a similar campaign against apartheid South Africa
Another way is to follow the inspiring example of Belgian dockers, and the longshore workers in San Francisco who refused to handle armaments bound for Israel.
In the Preston area there are two large BAE Systems factories. They manufacture the rear fuselage of fighter jets to Israel. If trade unionists refused to handle these it would be a huge boost to the Palestinian resistance. 
The internationalist tradition is one in which trade unionists have been to the fore. An example is the support given by trade unionists in the fight against apartheid.
I hope this letter can open up a debate about the principles and practices of socialists acting in the best tradition of internationalism.

Pete Marsden, Preston

Scandal of delay for blood victims
An estimated 3,000 people died after contracting HIV or Hepatitis C because they were given contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s. And a further 500 people have died since an inquiry into this scandal started.
The government’s unwillingness to pay compensation immediately to the victims and their families in this ongoing scandal is disgusting. 
The further delays are a source of disappointment and anger to those involved. 
They are another example of how those who are chronically unwell and seen to be unproductive in a capitalist system are treated by this government. 
The money isn’t the only thing that victims and their families are looking for. 
But for those who have passed, the compensation is recognition of their suffering and the recognition that successive governments have hidden the truth from them. 
There are plans to establish a £10-£20 billion compensation scheme for the victims of the blood scandal. But ministers have scheduled the payouts to not jeopardise pre-election tax cuts. 
The inquiry’s findings are due in March.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt would not be expected to sign off on the massive compensation package until the spring.
Justice delayed is justice denied.
 Zarina, East London
Don’t let action hit the buffers after RMT deal
A large majority of RMT union members have accepted the money offered by the Rail Delivery Group, £1,750 or 5 percent—whichever is the greater. 
I understand why the lower paid rail grades, such as gateline staff, voted Yes, as it was a very generous financial boost for them. 
But I feel that splitting this dispute into two halves, —money now and discussions later—is a bad strategic move. 
We’ve been told if the talks fail this year, then we can have yet another strike ballot. 
All this stopping and starting is no good, as many rail workers are rightly concerned about their future. 
It’s not all about money, but also fighting for decent terms and conditions for the years to come.
We need to defend the railway pension scheme and make sure employees know that decent pensions must be fought for.
Richard Alcock, Waterloo RMT branch activist and Health & Safety rep, Streatham 
If you haven’t already, leave Labour now
Keir Starmer’s continued support for the Israeli military’s brutal assault on Gaza has enraged millions. 
To add insult to injury, he then praised Margaret Thatcher and followed that up with a visit to Scotland where Thatcherism did such damage. 
Thatcher destroyed whole swathes of industry in Scotland, an act of economic brutality that many areas have not recovered from. 
She also introduced the hated poll tax in Scotland a year before it was introduced in the rest of Britain. 
Starmer was greeted by pro-Palestine supporters on his train, at Glasgow Central station and at the hotel where he was addressing members of the Labour Party. 
Labour MSPs voted for a Scottish National Party motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in the Scottish parliament in November—apparently in defiance of Starmer. 
Yet he was welcomed by those members even as hundreds are leaving the party and some of their colleagues are sacked for their stance on Gaza. 
Labour members should take a stand against genocide, join the Palestine protests and help build them in every corner of this country. 
If that means leaving that party behind, so be it.
Charlotte Ahmed, Glasgow 
Rustin review missed the point
The review of the Netflix documentary on Bayard Rustin (Socialist Worker, 6 December) is overly enthusiastic and misses why Rustin might be lauded by corporate America.
From the mid-1960s, as the radical wing of the civil rights movement became increasingly supportive of the Palestinian struggle, Rustin sought to win the backing of black people for Israel and Zionism. 
Paul Kelemen, Sheffield, PSC member
Racism over climate action
I thought the Cop28 talks could get no worse. Then Britain’s climate change minister, Graham Stuart, returned to London in order to vote in favour of the Rwanda bill that Rishi Sunak brought to the Commons. 
A Greenpeace spokesperson rightly pointed out, “Stuart should be at Cop28 to broker the compromises needed to act upon developing countries’ demands for more public finance to deliver a fossil fuel phase-out”.
Sarah, by email 
Protest gives Puma the boot 
I was happy to hear that sportswear company Puma has finally ended its deal with the Israeli national football team. 
Years of pressure and boycotts by dedicated Palestine activists have meant the company was shamed into finally backing away from supporting apartheid. 
This victory has shown that boycotts and protests can work.  
Chrissy, Birmingham
I won’t moan at court case 
former Conservative peer Michelle Mone is facing a criminal allegation of bribery. 
A company involving Mone and her husband was the recipient of massive PPE contracts from the Tories.
Let’s hope 2024 will see all those who profited face justice.
Julie, Worcester
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