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Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal seeks to promote the exchange of information, experience of struggle, theoretical analysis and views of political strategy and tactics within the international left. It is a forum for open and constructive dialogue between active socialists from different political traditions. It seeks to bring together those in the international left who are opposed to neoliberal economic and social policies, and reject the bureaucratic model of "socialism" that arose in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China.

Inspired by the unfolding socialist revolution in Venezuela, as well as the continuing example of socialist Cuba, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is a journal for "Socialism of the 21st century", and the discussions and debates flowing from that powerful example of socialist renewal.

Links is also proud to be the sister publication of Green Left Weekly, the world's leading red-green newspaper, and we urge readers to visit that site regularly.

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South Africa's new opposition party: Face to face with `Terror'

The following was presented by social movement activist Ashwin Desai as part of t

COSATU leader Zwelinzima Vavi: Sanction and boycott apartheid Israel!

Protesters call for boycott of apartheid Israel, Johannesburg, January 2, 2009.

By Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

January 14, 2009 -- From our own experience, we know how painful and dehumanising is the system of segregation, otherwise known as apartheid. Apartheid is a system based on the assumption that one group or race is superior to others and therefore has a right to all the privileges and virtues associated with that particular status. It has a right to run and determine the lives of others, excluding them from certain privileges, merely because they do not belong to the “chosen” group.

What other definition would so fittingly define a system based on different rights and privileges for Jews and Arabs in the Middle East? The bantustanisation of Palestine into pieces or strips -- West Bank, Ramallah, Gaza Strip and so on -- run by Israel and with no rights whatsoever for the Palestinians, is definitely an apartheid system.

Bolivia breaks ties over Gaza, will take Israel to ICC/Bolivia rompe relaciones diplomáticas con Israel en solidaridad con Gaza

Bolivia severs ties with Israel

January 14, 2009 -- Al Jazeera -- Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, says he is breaking off ties with Israel in protest against its war in Gaza, which has left more than 1000 Palestinians dead.

Morales said on Wednesday that he would seek to get top Israeli officials, including Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, charged with "genocide" in the International Criminal Court.

The Bolivian president also dismissed the United Nations and its "Insecurity Council" for its "lukewarm" response to the crisis and said the general assembly should hold an emergency session to condemn the invasion.

"Considering these grave attacks against ... humanity, Bolivia will stop having diplomatic relations with Israel," Morales told diplomats in the Bolivian capital, La Paz.

Young Israeli socialist speaks out for a free Palestine

January 7, 2009 -- Isaac Shuisha, an Israeli citizen and student involved in the Palestine solidarity movement in Sydney, spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler about the reasons behind Israel’s assault on Gaza and the campaign for a free Palestine. Shuisha is a member of the socialist youth organisation, Resistance. [See also ``Jewish and Israeli opposition to Israel's slaughter in Gaza''.]

What has motivated you to be a part of the campaign against Israel’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people? 

Growing up in Israel, you are exposed to a very specific narrative about the history of Israel/Palestine. In this story, all that “we Israelis” ever wanted is to live in peace, but alas, all the Arab people surrounding us want nothing less than to drive us all into the sea.

In Israel, this is considered to be the indisputable truth, which you hear every time you read the paper, every time you go to school, every time you talk to your parents.

This is why most Israelis support the current attacks on Gaza: after being exposed to this overwhelming brainwashing, people really believe that this attack on Gaza is the only way to defend ourselves.

Israel — an apartheid state

Protest in Melbourne, January 4, 2009. Photo by Margarita Windisch.

By Tony Iltis

January 6, 2009 -- In a 1969 interview, then-Israeli PM Golda Meir, referring to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, said: “It is not as though there was a Palestinian people … and we came and threw them out and took their country … They did not exist.”

Of course, the Palestinian people did, and still do, exist. This inconvenient fact helps explain why Israel is forced to continuously resort to brutal military force.

Meir herself was part of the Zionist leadership that threw out 800,000 Palestinians in 1948 and took 78% of their country in a meticulously planned war to establish the new, exclusively-Jewish state in historic Palestine.

Palestinian villages and towns were systematically razed and new European-style communities built.

It is impossible to understand the current bloodbath in Gaza without understanding the inherently racist nature of Israel. The slogan of Zionism (the ideology that advocates an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine) since it began in the 1890s has been, “A land without people, for a people without land”.

Tariq Ali on Israel's massacres in Gaza

Tariq Ali addresses the Stop Gaza Massacres meeting in London, January 8, 2009. Organised by Stop the War Coalition (http://www.stopwar.org.uk).

Jewish and Israeli opposition to Israel's Gaza slaughter (updated Jan. 25)


Israel's young conscientious objectors (shministim) tell why they refuse to serve in an army that occupies ``another people'', the Palestinians. From http://www.December18th.org.

Thailand: Activist Giles Ji Ungpakorn faces arrest for `insulting' monarchy (now with excerpts from Coup for the Rich)

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to send letters of protest and calling for all charges against Giles Ji Ungpakorn to be dropped. Send them to the Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Government House, Bangkok, Thailand,  fax number +66 (0) 29727751. Please also write letters of protest to the ambassador of the Royal Thai embassy in your own country.

By John Berthelsen

Asia Sentinel -- January 12, 2009 -- Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a political science professor at Thailand's Chulalongkorn University and a well-known socialist activist, has been ordered to appear at a Bangkok police station to be charged under the country's stiff lèse majesté laws for insulting the country's monarchy.

Malaysian police detain anti-war protesters; PSM slams minister’s ‘double standards’

Malaysiakini -- January 10, 2009 -- The police have arrested 21 people, including member of parliament for Klang MP Charles Santiago and several top leaders of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia -- PSM, at an anti-war vigil at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. The vigil was organised by Anti-War Coalition to show support to the victims of war and aggression in Palestine and Sri Lanka.

About 200 people had gathered at about 8pm for the vigil, which was declared illegal by the police who were also present at the venue. About 100 light strike force personnel were on hand to control and disperse the crowd.

The crowd was ordered to disperse and the 21 were arrested for their failure to leave the area. They were then taken to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters. They are still being held at the police station.

Among those held were Parti Sosialis Malaysia leaders Dr Nasir Hashim and S. Arutchelvan, PKR’s Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani and several activists from Suaram and Jerit. Nasir is also the Kota Damansara state assemblyperson.

Critical elections in El Salvador; FMLN activists assassinated

Latin Radical -- Burke Stansbury from the Washington office of the US-based Committee with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) talks with community radio about the first round of the El Salvadoran elections -- legislative and municipal -- to be held on January 17, 2009. Burke reports that the chances of an FMLN victory (supported by a 10 to 15 point lead in the polls over the last year) are good, with the voting population shrugging off the scare tactics of the ARENA party's media blitz.

There are still fears that ARENA, with a history of violence, intimidation and terror (the founder of ARENA was also the head of the notorious death squads of the 1980s), may resort to more drastic tactics, before the presidential elections in March. There is a loud call from the opposition FMLN party for international observers to ensure the integrity of the elections.

Australian unionists back `boycott apartheid Israel' call

Geelong Advertiser -- January 9, 2009 -- Geelong Trades Hall secretary Tim Gooden has backed calls for the Rudd Government to cut ties with Israel over the current crisis in the Gaza Strip.

In a letter headed Trade Unionists for Palestine, Mr Gooden and other prominent unionists have called on the Rudd Government to denounce ``the latest Israeli aggression against Gaza''.

The signatories include the state president of the Tertiary Education Union, Dr James Doughney, AMWU state secretary Steve Dargeval, the assistant secretary of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union Burt Blackburne.

The group called on the ACTU and regional trades and labour councils to:

DEMAND the Rudd Government sever all ties with Israel; and

GIVE full support to the protest movement in Australia against the Israeli aggression.

The letter makes no mention of rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas militants.

The Flame, January 2009 -- Green Left Weekly's Arabic-language supplement

January 8, 2009 -- With the help of Socialist Alliance members in the growing Sudanese community in Australia, Green Left Weekly -- Australia's leading socialist newspaper -- is publishing a regular Arabic language supplement. The Flame covers news from the Arabic-speaking world as well as news and issues from within Australia. The editor-in-chief is Soubhi Iskander, a comrade who has endured years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the repressive government in Sudan.

Iskander and his team are working to involve progressive activists from other Arabic-speaking communities in the Flame project. Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is also proud to bring the Flame to readers outside Australia. Below is the edition of the Flame published on January 8, 2009.

Its contents include:

Production-side environmentalism -- Can we produce less and consume more?

By Don Fitz

Corporate "environmentalism" is consumer-side environmentalism. "Make your dollars work for the Earth." "Buy green!" "Purchase this green gewgaw instead of that ungreen gadget." "Feel guilty about driving your car."

Consumer-side environmentalism is loath to discuss production. Consumer-side environmentalism does not challenge the manufacture of cars. Rather, it assumes that producing more and more cars is a sacred right never to be questioned.

Production-side environmentalism places blame on the criminal rather than the victim. It looks at the profits oil companies reap from urban sprawl rather than demeaning people who have no way to get to work other than driving a car. Production-side environmentalism looks at an agro-food industry which profits from transporting highly processed, over-packaged, nutrient-depleted junk thousands of miles rather than the parent giving in to a child bombarded with Saturday morning pop-tart-porn TV.

Production and consumption: A broken connection

Hamas: What is really behind Israel's assault on the people of Gaza (updated Jan. 13)

By Mousa Abu Marzook

January 6, 2009 -- Damascus -- While Americans may believe that the current violence in Gaza began December 27, in fact Palestinians have been dying from bombardments for many weeks. On November 4, when the Israeli-Palestinian truce was still in effect but global attention was turned to the US elections, Israel launched a "preemptive" airstrike on Gaza, alleging intelligence about an imminent operation to capture Israeli soldiers; more assaults took place throughout the month.

The truce thus shattered, any incentive by Palestinian leaders to enforce the moratorium on rocket fire was gone. Any extension of the agreement or improvement of its implementation at that point would have required Israel to engage Hamas, to agree to additional trust-building measures and negotiation with our movement -- a political impossibility for Israel, with its own elections only weeks away.

Not that the truce had been easy on Palestinians. In the six-month period preceding this week's bombardment, one Israeli was killed, while dozens of Palestinians lost their lives to Israeli military and police actions, and numerous others died for want of medical care.

50 years of people's resistance and strength -- Interview with Cuba's President Raúl Castro

Raúl Castro speaks on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

December 31, 2008 -- Interview with Raúl Castro, president of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, conducted by Talía González Pérez for Cuban Television’s News System. From Granma Internacional.

Talía González Pérez: During the initial years of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, Commander of the Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz affirmed to the people that, although the Revolution had been victorious, nobody should think that everything would be easier in the future, but that everything might be more difficult in the future. How difficult has it been in the last 50 years to construct a socialist Revolution in the face of imperialist aggression and the complex international panorama?

Cuba: Rebuilding after the hurricanes, sustainably

Hurricane Gustav hits Cuba

Professor Fernando Martirena is from the Centre of Investigation into Structures and Materials (CIDEM) research institute at the University of Santa Clara, Cuba. He visited Australia in November 2008 to speak at a number of meetings organised by the Australian Green Development Forum. In 2007, Martirena's team won the World Habitat Award from the Building and Social Housing Foundation, an independent research organisation that promotes sustainable development and innovation in housing. Trent Hawkins caught up with Martirena, to find out how the CIDEM is helping to build houses in Cuba using sustainable building materials.

The US economic blockade forced the Cuban government to rely almost entirely on the Soviet Union for trade. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba lost half its oil imports and much of its food imports leading to a major food crisis.

The future of socialism and LGBTI rights in Cuba -- Interview with Mariela Castro Espín

January 1, 2009 -- In Havana, Mariela Castro Espín speaks to Anastasia Haydulina of Russia Today Television. Mariela Castro is director of CENESEX –- the National Center for Sexual Education -- and a leading authority and proponent of LGBT freedoms in Cuba and globally. She addresses how Cuban society is dealing with changing perceptions of sexuality and concrete measures benefiting LGBTs. Castro also reflects on new legislation, transsexualism, same-sex unions, gay rights, AIDS, her father President Raúl Castro, her mother Vilma Espín, founder and President of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the woes caused by the US economic blockade of Cuba and her views on US President-elect Barack Obama, as well as the history of the revolution. Sections of the interview have been translated and transcribed below.

`We are all Gazans!' -- Palestinian trade unionists appeal for solidarity

January 4, 2009 -- A message from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions

Sisters and brothers:

The PGFTU has been working at all levels in Palestine and in its international relations to mobilise international support for peace in the region. This is the ultimate goal for our working families in Palestine, who laboured in every way possible to bring about an end to the Israeli occupation of all Palestinian territories. This occupation is the longest and worst in the modern history.

Over the years and even at this moment, these efforts have been met only with terrorism against our people by the Israeli army of occupation, which has indiscriminately destroyed homes and worksites, slaughtered our people, confiscated our land, established and expanded illegal settlements, and limited the movement of workers who are only trying to feed their families. These measures have affected every member of the Palestinian society.

The recent construction of the Apartheid Wall stands as a symbol of the extent of Israel’s brutal aggression against the Palestinian people and denial of their legitimate rights, dignity and human needs.

We call upon all peace-loving people in the world:

Ferment in Nepal: A dynamic vortex of revolutionary change

CPN (Maoist) mass meeting in Kathmandu

By Bill Templer

January 3, 2009 -- One remarkable laboratory that discussion in much of the world’s progressive press tends to neglect is the dynamic vortex of revolutionary change in Nepal. Since spring, Nepal has something that may be making genuine history: a Maoist people’s movement, that, led by the CPN (Maoist), and the struggle of the People’s Liberation Army over a decade, has come to state power through the ballot box. As Tufts University historian Gary Leupp wrote last April: “It ought to be the ballot heard 'round the world. It ought to be front page news. […] This moment may in the not distant future be seen as another 1917, another 1949.”[1]

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