From The Guardian

‘Shouldn’t we be proud?’: new Stalin statues symbolise Georgia’s battle to control the past as well as the present

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Trend is being linked to Kremlin-inspired ‘foreign influence’ bill that has led to huge street protests

Vasil Berdzenishvili, 47, was happy to take a moment out from washing his car to talk about Joseph Stalin. He looked across at the bronze bust of the Soviet leader next to the slide in the children’s park and nodded.

Yes, he was pleased that his village of Mukhrani, 30 miles north of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, had honoured this man. “There were plus and minuses but he was very powerful, the most powerful, he won a war, a generalissimo – and he was Georgian,” he beamed.

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Police arrest six student protesters at University of Pennsylvania

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Pro-Palestinian students were attempting to take over a university hall to protest school’s refusal to negotiate in ‘good faith’

More than a dozen pro-Palestinian activists, including six students at the University of Pennsylvania, were arrested after attempting to occupy a hall on the university campus late Friday.

The protesters were arrested around 9pm after trying to take over Fisher-Bennett Hall but had been met with a response from university and Philadelphia police, according to reports. The Daily Pennsylvanian reported that protesters caused the evacuation of an alumni event at the Penn Museum.

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‘Clean water is a basic right’: protesters against sewage in seas and rivers gather across the UK

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Surfers and families vent their frustration with water companies after more news of poisoned drinking water and polluted lakes

“Cut the crap” and “Fishes not faeces” read some of the many colourful slogans at Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth where hundreds of protesters gathered on Saturday to demand action over the scourge of sewage pollution in British waterways.

Wearing fancy dress and waving inflated plastic poops, they paddled into the bay on surfboards, kayaks and standup paddle boards – as did protesters at more than 30 other events across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – with the Cornish charity Surfers Against Sewage leading the way.

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Georgian president vetoes ‘foreign influence’ law

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Salome Zourabichvili says bill contradicts constitution but ruling party is expected to override her action in coming days

Georgia’s president has vetoed a “foreign agents” bill that has split the country and appealed to the government not to overrule her over a law she said was “Russian in sprit and essence”.

Salome Zourabichvil followed through on her stated intention to use her veto on Saturday although the governing Georgian Dream party has the votes to disregard her intervention.

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Eight climate activists arrested in Germany over airport protest

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About 60 flights cancelled after members of Letzte Generation glue themselves to ground at Munich

Eight climate activists have been arrested after causing Munich airport to close, leading to about 60 flight cancellations.

Six activists broke through a security fence and glued themselves to access routes leading to runways, officials and local media reported.

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Pro-Palestine protesters gatecrash Victorian Labor conference ahead of debate on Israel-Hamas war

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Protest group said it had called the rally to protest against state and federal Labor ‘aiding and abetting the genocide of Palestinian people’

Dozens of pro-Palestinian protestors have crashed Victorian Labor’s annual state conference ahead of what is expected to be fiery debate on motions related to the Israel-Hamas war.

Ahead of speeches by the premier, Jacinta Allan, and the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, the group of protesters entered the Moonee Valley Racecourse building and began chanting outside the conference room of MPs, unionist and Labor delegates.

The chanting continued throughout the in memoriam section of the conference, marking the deaths of Labor minister Simon Crean, Dunkley MP Peta Murphy and Senator Linda White.

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Jewish criticism of Israel’s actions must not be dismissed | Letters

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We can only address the politics of Israel/Palestine by recognising the suffering of both Jewish and Palestinian people, writes Lynne Segal. Plus a letter from Ron Mendel

It is indeed a tragic time for Jewish people, as Dave Rich argues (The 7 October Hamas attack opened a space – and antisemitism filled it. British Jews are living with the consequences, 16 May). He rightly insists on the extreme dangers of historic and continuing antisemitism, today rising and falling with the extremities of conflict in Israel/Palestine. Yet he fails to address the specific grief of thousands of Jews, observant and secular, who have like me worked for decades for peace, and an end to occupation and land grabs in Israel/Palestine.

Rich’s article was published the day after Nakba day: commemorating the catastrophe of 700,000 Palestinians forcibly dispossessed of their homes and sent into exile to enable the establishment of Israel in 1948. Jewish criticisms of Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians have always existed, but they tend to be immediately dismissed to allow only one narrative to be heard.

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Norman Finkelstein on Gaza, ‘from the river to the sea’ and political messaging: ‘We need to bring unity to this struggle’

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New York University professor Nikhil Singh interviews the political scientist and longtime critic of Israel after his speech at Columbia University

How do the messages and slogans adopted by social movements matter? In the 1960s, one of the simplest and most powerful slogans of the African American civil rights movement was: “Freedom now!” With that slogan, the movement indicated that Black demands exceeded a narrow reading of legal rights and protections. At the same time, it tapped into one of the most powerful keywords in the American political lexicon in a way that was immediately legible to a large, popular audience.

The occasion for the conversation below was a speech that the political scientist Norman Finkelstein gave at the Columbia University encampment protesting Israel’s war in Gaza. Finkelstein challenged students to think of the kind of messaging that might broaden their audience and build their movement. He questioned the slogan “Palestine will be free, from the river to sea” as mostly ineffective for these purposes, due to how it inflames fears among Israel’s supporters and gives fuel to arguments that pro-Palestinian protests on US university campuses are antisemitic and even “genocidal”.

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‘Georgia is now governed by Russia’: how the dream of freedom unravelled

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‘Foreign agents’ law just one of many moves made back towards Moscow while the west looked the other way

The army of riot police had finally retreated from Rustaveli Avenue, the broad thoroughfare in front of the parliament building, back into the barricaded parliamentary estate.

The last hour on the streets of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, had been violent. Snatch squads had grabbed protesters as officers, beating their shields with truncheons, surged forward to push the chanting crowds away from the graffiti-scrawled, imposing parliament building.

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UK government adviser on disruptive protest accused of conflict of interest

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John Woodcock, whose review proposes bans for protest groups, has lobbying links to firms in arms and fossil fuel sectors

Activists have accused the government’s independent adviser on political violence of a conflict of interest, after it emerged that he had lobbying links to companies that would benefit from curbs to protesting.

John Woodcock, formerly a Labour MP and now a crossbench peer, has prepared a review of “far-left” involvement in disruptive protest, which includes activism against climate change and war. At the same time, he has been chairing and advising lobby groups representing arms manufacturers and fossil fuel firms.

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University president in California on leave after agreeing to campus protesters’ demands

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Mike Lee told students that Sonoma State would become first US university to refuse to work with Israeli academic institutions

A public university in California has placed its president on leave for “insubordination” after he agreed to student demands for an academic boycott of Israel.

Mike Lee was suspended from Sonoma State University following an announcement on Tuesday that the liberal arts college north of San Francisco had agreed with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to become the first US university to refuse to work with Israeli academic institutions.

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Police remove student protesters and encampment from UC Irvine

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Student encampment had stood for two weeks before university officials declared it a ‘violent protest’ and asked police to move in

Police on Wednesday took back a lecture hall from pro-Palestinian protesters who for hours occupied the building at the University of California, Irvine, then cleared a student encampment that stood for more than two weeks, witnesses said.

Officers from about 10 nearby law-enforcement agencies converged on the campus after university officials requested help because protesters had occupied the lecture hall, leading the school to declare it a “violent protest”, police and university officials said.

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Bailiff evictions of renting households at six-year high, says MoJ

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Protesters call for rent controls as 2,682 households evicted in first quarter of 2024 in England and Wales

Bailiffs are evicting more renting households than at any time in the last six years, the Ministry of Justice has said, as protesters chanted for rent controls outside the HQ of Britain’s biggest listed private landlord.

More than 100 members of the London Renters Union (LRU) set off red and blue smoke canisters as they descended on the glass and steel office of the property firm Grainger, which rents out more than 10,000 homes in the UK bringing in a 28% pretax profit margin on nearly £100m a year in rent.

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‘We are very strong’: Georgia’s gen Z drives protests against return to past

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Resolutely European young people brave violent repression to loudly reject ‘foreign agents’ law and alignment with Moscow

Mariska Iurevicz’s mother has been crying a lot recently. “She is always asking when I’ll be home”, the 22-year-old says. “I think we are feeling the same. We are nervous and some of us feeling unsafe. But we are very strong. We will do everything to change the situation.”

Iurevicz, a philosophy student at the TSU State University in Tbilsi, the capital of Georgia, belongs to one of a myriad of protest groups sprouting out of universities and schools that have been driving the mass protests against the “foreign agents” law being introduced in the east European country.

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NSW premier sacks parliamentary secretary over criticism of police response to pro-Palestine protesters

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Chris Minns said Labor MP Anthony D’Adam’s comments in a speech to parliament were ‘absolutely reprehensible’

A Labor politician who criticised the actions of New South Wales police officers towards pro-Palestinian protesters has been sacked from his role as parliamentary secretary by the premier, Chris Minns.

Minns took aim at the comments made by the upper house MP Anthony D’Adam, saying that D’Adam had never raised his concerns about the police commissioner, Karen Webb, and officers before making his speech in parliament on Wednesday night.

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The 7 October Hamas attack opened a space – and antisemitism filled it. British Jews are living with the consequences | Dave Rich

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The enduring myths find new ways to be relevant. They underpin the targeting of Jewish people, whatever their views on the conflict in Gaza

A few weeks ago, my teenage son was in a library revising for his exams. A woman sat down opposite, looked at the star of David necklace he has recently started wearing and glared at him. Then she placed her water bottle between them with its “Boycott Israeli Apartheid” sticker turned to face his way.

She didn’t speak to my son. She didn’t ask what he thinks about Israel, Gaza, Netanyahu or Hamas. She doesn’t know whether he has friends or relatives who have been taken hostage or killed (he doesn’t), or if he has been on any pro-Palestine marches (he hasn’t). Whether it is antisemitic or not to boycott Israel is beside the point. She seemed to be triggered by the simple sight of a Jew. There’s no more basic expression of racism than that.

Dave Rich is the author of Everyday Hate: How Antisemitism is Built Into Our World and How You Can Change It, which is published in an updated edition on 16 May

Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here.

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Hundreds attend pro-Palestine rally at University of Melbourne and ignore request to leave – video

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The University of Melbourne cancelled classes for thousands of students in response to a pro-Palestine encampment and rally. A large crowd, including some staff members, gathered outside as police arrived to monitor the situation. Guardian Australia understands 6,500 students have been affected by class disruptions after the rally that filled the university's Arts West building on Thursday

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Why has Georgia’s ‘foreign agents’ bill caused so much protest and anger?

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The law, now passed, which places restrictions on organisations with overseas funding, will damage civil society, say critics

Georgia’s controversial ‘foreign agents’ bill was approved this week by the country’s parliament, despite massive street protests and criticism from western governments.

A violent crackdown on protesters and government critics has elicited widespread condemnation inside and outside the country.

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Don’t despair about the climate. Be part of the social tipping point | Letters

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A Guardian survey of leading climate scientists revealed their despair about the future. John Coghlan, Rachael Orr, Natalie Bennett, Dr Robin Russell-Jones and Gregory Johnson find reasons to keep on fighting

I must commend the Guardian and Damian Carrington for the excellent reporting on the views of leading climate scientists (‘Hopeless and broken’ Why the world’s top climate scientists are in despair, 8 May). I have experienced climate despair, which has led me to take part in non-violent protests, and I can certainly bear witness to the fact that this kind of collective action goes a long way to offset the despair. However, protest is not for everyone. There are other ways to play our part.

We can help to accelerate the energy transition. Some 51% of final energy consumption is for heating and cooling, and 32% is for transport, according to the International Energy Agency, so we must ditch the old boiler and invest in a heat pump, and swap our petrol car for an electric model. By fitting solar panels, we can also generate renewable energy to power both transport and heating. Having done these things myself, I have found that the lightening of my carbon footprint brings with it a lightening of climate despair.

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‘Israelis go back to Europe?’ Some on the left need to rethink their slogans | Jo-Ann Mort

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A majority of Israel’s Jews today are not descended from Europe, but rather from Arab nations. To expect them to leave Israel is unprecedented, unrealistic and wrong

Though not a prevalent catchphrase in the student demonstrations, the slogan “Jews/Israelis go back to Europe” has garnered national, and even international, attention. This phrase, like the much more popular phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” is troubling because it attempts to negate the existence of the Jewish state of Israel. The “Go back to Europe” chant also ignores the fact that the majority of Israelis today don’t come from European backgrounds.

Another slogan heard at rallies calls for ending the “75-year occupation”, pointing not to the occupation of the West Bank or Gaza, which dates back to 1967, but rather to the date when Israel was founded as a modern nation.

Jo-Ann Mort is co-author of Our Hearts Invented a Place: Can Kibbutzim Survive in Today’s Israel? She writes frequently about Israel for US, UK and Israeli publications.

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