Solidarity Bank

…some thoughts from Ian Chamberlain

The decline of the Co-op Bank

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Written by Ian Chamberlain

23 April 2014 at 18:03

Posted in TV & Radio

What solution for a “just peace”?

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What steps are practical and just?

Another issue which seems to polarize activists seeking a “just peace” to the Israel/Palestine conflict is what will a “just peace” look like? This often focuses on a discussion about one or two states, with advocates on both sides making claims about why their “solution” is more just. The honest answer is that no solution will make the history of suffering disappear, heal the scars or solve all the issues. Lars and Ian debate the issue of what is pragmatic given “facts on the ground” as well as considering the views of the international community, Palestinians and Israelis.

Listen to the podcast on This is not BBC Hebron/Al-Khalil.

Photo by Fillipo Minelli.

Written by Ian Chamberlain

10 February 2012 at 23:30

Posted in Podcast, Thought

Life in Hebron/Al-Khalil

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Shop welded closed on Shuhada Street, Hebron.

Hebron, called Al-Khalil by Palestinians, has a reputation for being one of the most difficult cities in the West Bank. It’s true to say it can be tense, but there’s much more to Hebron. In my latest podcast with colleague Lars, we discuss initial reactions and share our experience of living here over the last two months as international observers for the EAPPI.

Listen to the podcast on This is not BBC Hebron/Al-Khalil.

Written by Ian Chamberlain

1 February 2012 at 19:58

Posted in Experience, Podcast

The BDS movement

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Not BBC Hebron/Al-Khalil

There’s plenty of excitement amongst pro-Palestinian activists about the growing BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement. But are activists engaged in the campaign weighing up the pros and cons of using particular tactics or are they hiding behind the “led by Palestinian civil society” banner? Should we be campaigning for a more nuanced form of BDS campaign which takes account of our own countries’ responsibility for upholding the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank? Here I discuss the issue with a fellow EAPPI observer in Hebron as part of a new podcast This is not BBC Hebron/Al-Khalil.

Written by Ian Chamberlain

28 January 2012 at 20:10

Posted in Podcast, Thought

Democracy and Process: The Real Power of Occupy LSX

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General Assembly at Occupy LSX

Writing from Occupy LSX, Ian Chamberlain argues the real power of the movement is the new world of possibilities it has created, built on consensus, cooperation and a rejection of the corporate-guided, party-political approach that has dominated the country for generations.

I now know that I’m hardly alone in thinking, and feeling, that for too long the views and needs of ordinary people have been ignored by our “democracy.” The sense of powerlessness that I experienced after I lost my job, when I saw so many opportunities disappear – such as going back to college or university to re-train, as fees tripled beyond my reach and as I struggled to find enough work to pay the rent – I experienced this as an individual, but now I see it throughout my South London community.

Read the rest of this entry in Ceasefire Magazine »

Written by Ian Chamberlain

18 November 2011 at 14:36

Posted in Protest, Thought

Demonstrating the alternative

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…on a carpet of shimmering police epaulettes

I started the day with a group of people who practise anarchist principles everyday. We met at 11am in a plain old building just off the Strand in Westminster. As we drank our pre-march coffees with curdled soya milk and ate our home-baked chocolate cup cakes, we discussed plans for the day ahead.

Police barricade Top Shop

Police barricade Top Shop

A half-hour moment of reflection, we stood in silence on the street outside as confused by-passers, not used to the sight of silent protest, read our banners and slogans. The group’s commitment to equality, autonomy, justice, a mistrust of leaders, icons and concentrations of power, and a long history of confrontation with the state, protest and non-violent direct action for causes ranging from slavery to war, reveals a lot in common with anarchists. They just happen to be called Quakers.

We joined the march at Trafalgar Square, greeted by an enormous, and insanely friendly, Unison contingent high on the delights of whistles, chanting and waving mass-produced union flags and balloons. Standing, as I did, at the front of our block holding a “Quakers for Justice” banner, I enjoyed many frivolous reactions from fellow protesters, from “it must be a bit noisy for you lot” to “the problem with you guys is that you give religion a good name” but also joyous banter as we marched together as one.

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Written by Ian Chamberlain

28 March 2011 at 09:49

Posted in Protest

Creating space for radical thought

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How the BBC reminded us how little is questioned

Two weeks ago, Jeremy Paxman interviewed the radical linguist, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky for a highly edited, seven-minute interview on Newsnight. A rare opportunity to hear a radical voice in the mainstream media.

A friend once described Chomsky as a Yoda for peaceniks, conjuring up the comical image of the wise old Jedi master from Star Wars, with his unusual speech pattern and meditative calmness. Indeed, Chomsky’s presentational style is an anachronism in an age where the media expect short, punchy answers. He said himself at the University College of London a day after the Paxman interview – referring to how Twitter sometimes prevented ideas from being understood – it was as though “nothing over 140 characters existed.”

Watching the interview, you’d be forgiven for thinking Paxman was in poor health or perhaps not even in the room while the interview was conducted and pasted in later. Paxman was reduced to complete silence whilst he was assaulted with fact after fact as Chomsky recalled the West’s interventions in the Middle East. This was uncharacteristic behaviour for the BBC’s longest serving Newsnight presenter, with a reputation for aggressive and incisive questioning, and a salary of over £1 million.

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Written by Ian Chamberlain

20 March 2011 at 15:35

Posted in Thought