As we go to press, the death toll in Gaza continues to mount. Latest reports are that over 3,000 Palestinians have been killed and 12,500 wounded.
The Gaza Strip is completely blockaded, with no aid – no food, medicine or fuel – allowed in, and clean water running short. Over a million Gazans have been ‘internally displaced’, with scores being killed by Israeli bombs as they fled. Israeli troops are massing at the border, and a bloody ground invasion appears imminent.
These events come, of course, after the brutal Hamas attack on Israeli civilians on 7 October. The Socialist Party completely opposes those killings, and all attacks on Israeli civilians. The hypocrisy of the Tory government knows no bounds, however. They condemn the killings of Israelis, but back to the hilt the Israeli state’s war on Gaza with the far higher levels of deaths that will result. The Tories are even threatening to criminalise protesters who carry Palestinian flags!
Nor has Keir Starmer’s New Labour been any different. The general secretary of the Labour Party wrote to Labour MPs and councillors saying “they must not, under any circumstances” join Palestinian solidarity protests. Even individual Labour Party members were urged not to attend.
Regardless of government intimidation and the Labour leadership’s disgraceful role, on Saturday 14 October, more than 100,000 people, mainly young, took to the streets of London and other cities in solidarity with the people of Gaza. They were protesting against the current horrific situation, but also the brutal occupation and repression suffered by the Palestinians up until now.
The Socialist Party has worked to make the national demonstration in London on Saturday 21 October even bigger than the previous week’s protests. We are fighting for the trade union movement to mobilise and add its strength to the march.
Demonstrating, however, is only the first step. Politicians representing the interests of the capitalist elite – whether Tory or New Labour – will never fight for the rights of the Palestinians, nor for working-class Israelis, any more than they fight in the interests of the working class and oppressed here in Britain. That’s why a crucial way to build solidarity with the Palestinians is to fight to build a mass workers’ party here in Britain that stands for socialism and internationalism.
For mass struggle against war and capitalism!
The current war is the fifth between the Israeli state and the Hamas-led Gaza authority, but the scale of the horror is unprecedented. As we go to press, US President Biden is heading to Israel. He follows hard on the heels of two US aircraft carriers. Both measures are designed to show the support of US imperialism for the Israeli state but are also a desperate attempt to try and prevent the conflict igniting a wider Middle East war. The horror of a full-scale regional war is not in the interests of any of the major world powers or the regimes in the area, but the brutal attack being prepared on Gaza could nonetheless ignite the tinder box of the Middle East.
The Netanyahu government’s justification for its onslaught on Gaza is the 7 October Hamas assault, which killed the highest number of Jewish people on a single day since the foundation of Israel, plus Israeli Arabs and others. The attack was a huge shock to Israeli society, shattering the idea that Israel’s powerful military can keep the Israeli Jewish population safe. Netanyahu was already very unpopular, but he is now – if anything – even more so, with a majority of Israelis blaming his government for what happened.
Nonetheless, the immediate effects of the Hamas attack in Israeli society, and the horror now being unleashed against Gaza, show why in the Socialist Party we have always warned against the targeting of Israeli civilians in the national conflict, and oppose such attacks. Such acts reinforce fears of being ‘driven into the sea’ and push Israeli Jewish workers towards supporting brutal retaliation by the Israeli state. However, no matter how extreme the violence meted out against the people of Gaza, it will bring no security for the Israeli population but will only lay the basis for a new round of bloodshed.
Which way forward?
Increasingly capitalism means war and conflict. And on the basis of capitalism there is no prospect of national liberation for the Palestinians or other oppressed nationalities. Western capitalist governments are backing the Israeli state to the hilt, but nor do the Middle Eastern regimes who claim to support the Palestinians have any interest in defending them. Rather, they are driven by defending the wealth and power of their own rich elites.
Nonetheless, there is a force capable of transforming the situation. While the military strategies of Hamas won’t bring about liberation for the Palestinians, decent living standards for them, or an end to the conflict – none of which are possible under capitalism – mass struggle could do so. The way forward for the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank will be through democratically organising mass struggle – a socialist intifada – based on the interests of workers and the poor, independent of those of the rich elites.
The demonstrations worldwide over the last week, and especially in the Middle East, show clearly the solidarity with the Palestinians that exists among the working class and poor, and they too are a force capable of transforming the world. Just over a decade ago a revolutionary wave swept the Middle East and North Africa, pointing to the potential power of the working class and poor to overthrow the existing order. Those movements were defeated because the working class of the different countries lacked their own parties with a programme for the socialist transformation of society. The task of building such parties is vital in every country.
In Israel the same fundamental issues are posed. It too had mass demonstrations for social justice back in 2011. More recently, we saw the nine-month-long mass movement in Israel against the Netanyahu government which included a general strike. It has now been cut across by the events of recent weeks, but it nonetheless gave a glimpse of the possibility of splitting large sections of the Israeli working class away from their ruling class, the only way the grip of the Israeli ruling elite over society can be broken.
Even now, in this highly polarised situation, there have been examples of solidarity between different communities inside Israel. Israeli Palestinians are now facing greater risk of physical attacks, however there have been reports over the last week, for example, of united Jewish-Palestinian action groups in Haifa and Jaffa, to oppose local sectarian clashes between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, pointing to the kind of democratically organised community defence that is needed.
While the enormous wealth of the region is left in the hands of capitalist elites, fermenting divisions to continue their rule, no solution is possible. However, by replacing private ownership of the main corporations with public ownership and democratic control by the working class and poor masses, it would be possible to end shortages and poverty for all, laying the basis for building societies free from war, oppression and national tensions.
- Stop the Israel-Gaza war! For the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli military from the occupied territories
- For democratically organised defence committees in local communities
- For a mass struggle of the Palestinians, under their own democratic control, to fight for liberation
- For the building of independent workers’ parties in Palestine and Israel and links between them
- For an independent, socialist Palestinian state, alongside a socialist Israel, with two capitals in Jerusalem and guaranteed democratic rights for all minorities, as part of the struggle for a socialist Middle East
- No trust in the capitalist politicians, internationally or in Britain. Fight to build a workers’ party in Britain that stands for socialism and internationalism
Stop the war on Gaza – pass this motion in your union
This union branch expresses its horror and opposition to the targeting and killing of thousands of civilians on both sides of the Israel/Gaza border.
We condemn the Israeli state’s criminal collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza including cutting off water, food, power supplies and medicines. We condemn the threat by Israel to millions of Gaza residents told to flee their homes in the north to the south of the Strip ahead of a brutal land invasion. We condemn the Tory government and Keir Starmer’s New Labour for their backing for the Israeli state’s war on Gaza.
We call for:
- Immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza
- The immediate withdrawal of the Israeli military from the occupied territories
We also condemn the Tory government’s attempts to clamp down on and criminalise the right to protest against the Israeli state’s brutal attacks and to show solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians.
We applaud the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have ignored the Tory government threats and marched in London and all over the country in support of Palestinians. We call on our union leadership to mobilise for future mass protests opposing the war on Gaza.
We note that Starmer’s New Labour has written to Labour MPs and councillors saying “they must not, under any circumstance” join Palestinian solidarity protests. We need political representatives who oppose the capitalist elites and stand for the rights of the working class and oppressed here in Britain and internationally. That has to include standing in solidarity with people in Gaza today. We would welcome trade union-backed candidates standing in the general election on that programme, including Jeremy Corbyn, who has been banned from standing for Labour.
We support mass struggle by the Palestinians for self-determination and their own viable state, which will not be granted by the capitalist elites. Only the struggle for workers’ unity, for full national rights and for socialism can remove reactionary elites and lay the basis for an end to oppression and wars, and see Palestinians and Israelis mutually agree their future relations, free of all coercion, and able to live in peace and prosperity.
We agree to circulate this resolution to our members and to our NEC.
- Stop the Israel-Gaza war! For workers’ unity and struggle against national conflict and oppression
- Israel-Palestine: 30 years since the Oslo accord – will there ever be a Palestinian state?
Come to a Socialist Party meeting near you
In the next week, many of the Socialist Party’s regular meetings are discussing how we can end the war on Gaza and others are discussing vital topics on what is needed for socialist change. If you would like to participate:
Go to socialistparty.org.uk/join
To see meetings in your area socialistparty.org.uk/events
Text 07761 818206 with your name and postcode.
Stop the war on Gaza demonstration
12 noon Saturday 21 October, Marble Arch, London