Prof Miriam David, Prof Ruth Levitas, Dr Caroline New | 19.10.2004 23:11 | European Social Forum
It was carried out by an exclusively white group of anarchists who had no involvement in the ESF. They entered the building, stormed the platform of black and Jewish speakers, punched the black chair of the session and stole his mobile phone. The next day the same group tried to storm the stage of the demonstration, tearing down the crash barriers and assaulting ESF stewards.
We have never seen such behaviour in the progressive movement in Britain before and it should be totally condemned. The ESF was created to allow democratic discussion of the whole range of views within the social justice movement. No viewpoint was excluded and it is totally unacceptable for a tiny minority to attack that democratic process by using physical violence. That is all the more the case when they violently attack black people to stop us from discussing how to fight racism and fascism.
Secretary, National Assembly Against Racism
Deputy coordinator, Operation Black Vote
NUS black students officer
The rhetoric of the "new apartheid" which Benjamin Pogrund criticises so lucidly (Just another swear word, October 16) dominated a packed meeting of about 2,000 delegates at the European Social Forum. We were alarmed by the lack of historical analysis and specificity in relation to the appalling situation in Israel and Palestine and by the repeated intoning of "this is apartheid". The aim seemed to be to whip up emotional energies behind both a campaign for unspecified sanctions and "unconditional support for Palestine".
While there may be arguments for European sanctions of some kind, there is also a danger of increasing Israeli defensiveness, intransigence and dependence on the US. We are all committed to a just peace and two of us are signatories to Jews for Justice for Palestinians. However, we gravely doubt whether this kind of political rhetoric will contribute to effective sanctions, Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories and a sustainable peace in the Middle East.
Prof Miriam David
Prof Ruth Levitas
Dr Caroline New
Conway Hall was booked and paid for and there had been an advance visit to the hall, during which the fact that we would be registering ESF delegates at the hall on Thursday 14 October was discussed with hall staff (Letters, October18). Thousands of delegates registered, queued patiently in good spirits and enjoyed the facilities provided at the hall.
European Social Forum
Prof Miriam David, Prof Ruth Levitas, Dr Caroline New