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Views in brief

November 17, 2006 | Page 12

Power in Oaxaca
Poor treatment by Kaiser

Confronting Zionism at UMass

ON NOVEMBER 1, the Student Alliance for Israel invited Yaakov Katz, the defense correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, to speak on the University of Massachusetts-Amherst campus. Katz spoke mainly about his experiences while embedded with the Israel Defense Force (IDF) during the recent Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

His speech consisted of a pro-Zionist argument of the need for Israel to take a hard line against Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, peppered with anecdotes that revealed his lack of concern for the Lebanese and Palestinians killed, injured or rendered homeless by IDF forces. For example, he expressed sympathy for an IDF soldier who was unable to speak to his wife on his cell phone due to the noise coming from the artillery cannons that were shelling civilians in Lebanon, while making no mention of the fate of those on the other side of the shells.

Members of the International Socialist Organization from the Northampton branch plus individuals from the Muslim and Lebanese Students Associations attended the talk.

We corrected Katz at several points during his talk (when he referred to Hamas as "terrorists," for example), and stumped him during the question-answer period when one person asked why it is unacceptable for Iran to fund Hezbollah while the United States funds Israel to the tune of billions of dollars per year.

Another person strongly condemned Israel's barbaric destruction of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure and brutal oppression of the Palestinian people before challenging the Zionists to a debate, an offer that was not accepted.

Hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims such as the case of Alia Ansari, the Muslim woman in Fremont, Calif., who was shot in the head while holding her daughter's hand, are tragic reminders of the importance of confronting bigots like Katz and other Zionist cheerleaders wherever they appear.
Gary Lapon, Northampton, Mass.

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Power in Oaxaca

IN THE context of distorted and misleading corporate media accounts of the uprising in Oaxaca, your sympathetic coverage has been valuable. But the significance of the revolt goes beyond Mexico's post-election polarization or even the demand to oust the state's repressive dinosaur governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz.

Precisely to engage with these conflicts, Oaxaca's toilers have improvised a form of democracy too profound to accommodate (or be tolerated by) capitalism. Constituted by unions, peasant groups, indigenous communities and others, the People's Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) directly represents the will of the majority in the capitol, and possibly in the state as a whole.

Because of this massive, self-mobilizing base, APPO, which was formed out of the consensus that Ruiz must go, has found itself the de facto power in Oaxaca. It has made the state's official bureaucratic and police apparatus ineffective, which is why the federal government has had to invade in the (so far fiercely resisted) effort to restore capitalist order.

The Mexican paper La Jornada has rightly termed the revolution the "Oaxaca Commune," a reference to the 1871 Paris Commune, which Marx considered the first living example of working-class rule. As in 1871 Paris, or 1917 Petrograd, control by leaders from below is flourishing, illustrated by the teachers union president's failure to end his members' strike, in a vote organized in spite of him.

APPO has seized control of government buildings and even begun to run the means of ideological production, in the form of the radio station. Remote Zaptec villages, which have struggled for centuries to maintain their own governing structures autonomous from the Mexican state, have joined APPO in the belief that it represents their empowerment, rather than their subordination.

Socialists need to stand in active solidarity with Oaxaca's workers, but we should also use Oaxaca to highlight the workings of a real 21st century socialist revolution. Viva APPO! Viva Oaxaca!
Avery Wear, San Diego

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Poor treatment by Kaiser

I WAS an employee for Kaiser Permanente for nearly six years, until recently terminated on June 27, 2006. I had the union steward file a grievance on my behalf soon after.

I was told by my union representative that I would be coming back to work with six weeks' of back pay, a two-week suspension and a new location, which would be the records facility in Livermore, Calif. That did not turn out to be the case.

I have been lied to and am being told differently now, and am actually being pressured into taking my job back in the same previous department--Central Stores, also in Livermore--where I had already had conflict with my manager over harassment and discrimination trailing back to March of this year.

I feel that my termination was an act of retaliation on my manager's behalf. I was terminated based on a misunderstanding and for being a "no-show" at a training that nine other employees missed as well--yet none of them had a disciplinary action taken against them. If anything, they were actually offered make-up dates.

At this point, I am just trying to seek any kind of help I can get and let it be known that the management has failed to treat me equally.
Jose Corona, from the Internet

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