Marching in east London for Palestine on 20 January (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Amplify Palestinian voices

The Israeli state is silencing Palestinian journalists like my photojournalist friend Mustafa Thraya.

Mustafa was one of the Palestinian journalists in Gaza that I followed on social media since Israel’s attacks began. One day I saw he was livestreaming on Instagram the Israeli bombing of his neighbourhood.

I could hear him praying as the bombing continued around him. I kept commenting on that livestream, wishing for him to be alright. That’s how we started a conversation.

We started chatting. He didn’t speak the best English so we would use Google Translate. Despite all the horror going on around him, Mustafa was always positive and never seemed to ignore any messages sent to him.

In December of last year, I helped organise an event in East London to remember and honour Palestinian journalists.

I asked Mustafa if he would speak based on his work reporting from the ground in Gaza, he would have a lot of insightful things to share.

He laughed at the idea. As he only speaks Arabic, he wasn’t confident enough to. I then asked if he would like me to share anything at the event or even mention names of the friends he had lost then.

To my surprise, he replied with materials I could use at the event a day later.

Mustafa didn’t owe me anything, yet he wanted to help. Even when going through the most dangerous situation, and having to care for his young family, he still made the time to help me—a “friend” he just met online. 

Unfortunately, Mustafa was killed together with Hamza Al Dadouh exactly a week after our event. I woke up that morning, and I felt wrong. I went to social media and saw the news that he was gone.

I couldn’t breathe. That’s the power he had. I cried all day. I desperately looked for ways to contact his family to offer support.

I’d never met Mustafa in person, but I felt connected to him, and I hope he knew that people cared here in Britain and across the world.

Journalists, photojournalists and many others in Gaza, like Mustafa, are risking everything to show us what is happening in Gaza.

On the mainstream news we might see ten-second clips of what’s happening but journalists on social media are showing us so much more. We must make it clear that we are with them.

Sarah, East London

How crucial is strike pay in disputes?

Alan Crowe (Letters, 17 January) questions whether the absence of strike pay for RMT union members was a critical factor in their unwillingness to escalate their action.

Especially in a continuing cost of living crisis, workers do make cost-benefit analyses of their proposed actions. They set likely gains against likely losses.

The losses primarily concern sacrificed wages due to striking. If the losses are likely to outweigh the gains, then strike pay is needed to recalibrate the equation.

This strike pay should not be means-tested and should be available to all from the first day of striking.

The RMT has a National Dispute Fund. But this is nowhere near the scale of what was needed to support its 40,000 members in Network Rail and the train operating companies during the strikes of 2022 and 2023.

The majority wish to carry on striking—as evidenced by the consecutive ballot results—is not always exactly what it seems. Ballot results are used as bargaining chips.

RMT leader Mick Lynch asked for Yes votes to strengthen the RMT’s hand in negotiations as much as he asked for it in order to have a mandate to take more action.

These issues are examined in more detail in my book Mick Lynch: The making of a working-class hero.

Gregor Gall, Glasgow

Stand against the Tory banning of Hizb ut-Tahrir

The government’s plan to outlaw Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir is an outrageous attack on freedom of speech and the right to oppose government policy.

It is an attempt to crush legitimate political debate and participation. I don’t agree with Hizb ut-Tahrir’s politics, but it is not a terrorist group.

It has not, even on the British state’s terms, been connected with any terrorist plots or activities.

When he was prime minister, Tony Blair tried to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir in 2005. But he dropped the plan because there was no evidence to support it.

David Cameron as prime minister also tried and then retreated.

Today the Tories are just abandoning the need for evidence of terrorism and pushing ahead regardless.

Everyone who refuses to condemn the Palestinian resistance is thereby placed on a warning. Oppose this ban.

Kiran Williams-Awad,  East London

I was there—Post Office drama tells the truth

Having worked for the Post Office, and subsequently Royal Mail, for over 30 years, I can confirm that ITV drama Mr Bates vs. The Post Office is absolutely correct.

It exposed the ugly truth about the government’s utter contempt for workers.  That contempt is behind the attitude of managers who seemed to take delight in belittling people and isolating them.

I remember a manager throttling a CWU union member in front of colleagues. The manager got promotion and a transfer.

Everyone knew about the Horizon system and the accounting problems. 

But private investors had forked out for the Horizon system. This was under the Private Finance Initiative launched by the Tories in 1992 and then greatly expanded by the Tony Blair government. Fujitsu had been responsible for Horizon’s predecessor, the Pathway. This system was beset with identical problems to Horizon.

As the Horizon scandal shows, Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems,  and big business, cronies of every political shade are involved.

So many sub-postmasters have been wrongly accused of fraud. Alan Bates has doggedly tried to expose the truth, but it is collective action that has enabled the sub-postmasters to get to where they are now. 

The class war is not over.

Marisa, ex-CWU member

Labour silent on Rwanda

Why hasn’t the Labour Party denounced the authoritarian Rwandan regime that the Tories are still determined to send asylum seekers to?

Rwanda is absolutely not safe. The fact that president Paul Kagame routinely gives himself over 90 percent of the vote is a clue as to the nature of his regime.

Could Labour’s failure be because Tony Blair has been advising Kagame for years? As recently as April 2021 Kagame was a speaker at the Tony Blair Institute.

John Newsinger, Brighton

Stand with Palestinians

It is up to the Palestinians to decide their future after the latest phase of their struggle is over.

I would suggest our role as socialists is to provide international solidarity and a critical debate with them on how to achieve their ends.

The eyes of the Palestinians are on us. They understand that Britain in particular has seen some of the biggest demonstrations in the world.

They feel supported by our actions. Victory to the Palestinians and the Houthis.

Peter Marsden, Preston

Stop the DWP bank snoopers

The bank accounts of 9 million benefit claimants will soon be under surveillance by the DWP if a new government bill passes.

The government has said the new powers will be used in a limited way. I don’t believe it.

Why should the government snoop on what we are spending our money on?

Gemma Haines, West London

What choice at the election?

polling expert Professor John Curtice has warned of a low turnout at this year’s general election. That’s because voters regard Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer to be as “dull as dishwater”.

The prof’s right!

Mike Sewell, Liverpool

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