Twin track

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Chris Harman's article on Palestine (Feature, Socialist Review July/August 2007) stresses the importance of focusing the boycott debate on the barbaric behaviour of the US, Britain and Israel.

It points to recent changes in the tenor of the debate due to the Intifadas, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the increased understanding of Middle Eastern issues as a result of the opposition to the war and occupation of Iraq. I would add the apartheid wall, the democratic election of Hamas, and the increasing difficulty the Zionists have in equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism as many Jewish voices speak out.

All this has meant it is far easier than in the past to build solidarity with Palestinians. Harman says that the fighting between Hamas and Fatah is confusing the issue both for those arguing for the boycott and for those involved in twinning. But it is interesting to see how the latter campaigns are coping with this.

The twinning campaigns tap into a grassroots level of organisation in Palestine, circumventing the top "authorities". The mayor, or nearly the whole community, of a particular village, camp or town may be Hamas, Fatah or PFLP, but the twinning builds on different institutions and projects on a community basis.

At the fourth Twinning Conference in Ramallah last April there were 45 delegates from British twinning groups and 120 Palestinians from twinning projects in the Occupied Territories; no one asked their affiliations. The political lessons we have learnt here about building coalitions are the basis of building there.

Miriam Scharf
Secretary of the Campaign to Twin Tower Hamlets with Jenin