Build the mass movement against war and capitalism
Editorial of the Socialist issue 1254
The brutal Israeli state wasted no time in re-releasing its horrific onslaught on the Palestinian people in Gaza as soon as its agreed temporary pause in fighting ended on Friday 1 December.
Not satisfied with its murderous destruction of northern Gaza, and spurred on by the most right-wing warmongers in the Israeli government, who openly criticised the temporary pause and any negotiation over hostage releases, the IDF has begun a new hellish bombardment of southern Gaza to clear the path for its land offensive.
Already hundreds have been killed since it unleashed its firepower once again. Nearly 16,000 have been killed at the time of writing, and the death toll is rising fast. Disease, malnutrition and every element of social and inhumane catastrophe is accelerating.
2.3 million Gazans have nowhere left to run as the Israeli forces begin a new rampage south. In a sick game of ‘battleship’ and ‘tig’, the IDF has published a map of 620 separate blocks, each numbered, some the size of a couple of football pitches. Gazans have been told to ‘keep following the map carefully’ and move from one block to another when the IDF tells them they are going to bomb a block via social media… in a place that has seen IDF-imposed internet blackouts and power shortages.
On the West Bank, far-right settlers, often with the backing of Israeli soldiers, have escalated their organised killings of Palestinians. In the first few days of December, over 60 Palestinians were seized and arrested in nighttime raids. Many were children. Their crime: stone throwing!
Many across the world have been enraged by the fact that it is Palestinian children that have made up many of the prisoners released by Israel in exchange for hostages. No family on the West Bank is unaffected by the traumas of nighttime raids that take Palestinian children and throw them into prison after kangaroo military court procedures.
Over 200 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed since 7 October, over 50 were children. There has been a recorded 220 ‘assaults’ on Palestinian communities, including the bombing of a refugee camp killing over 70 and vicious street murders of ordinary Palestinians by a combination of far-right settlers and the IDF. There have been many attacks on solidarity protests over the bombardment of Gaza.
Over 400,000 Palestinians have lost their jobs or ability to work since the start of October. For Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank or within Israel itself, there is pain, suffering and feeling that there is no prospect of a way out.
As Gazans are forced closer and closer to the sea and Egyptian border, and pogrom-style attacks increase in the West Bank, the prospect of a new ‘Nakba’ or catastrophe is deep-rooted.
The objective conditions for a mass eruption of the Palestinian poor and masses are there. While many, particularly on the West Bank, will have looked more to Hamas as a vehicle to take on the Israeli state and right-wing settlers, as opposed to the distrusted Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, neither will bring about liberation, decent living standards, or an end to the conflict – none of which are possible under capitalism.
The way forward for the Palestinians will be through democratically organised mass struggle – a socialist intifada – based on the interests of workers and the poor, independent of those of the Hamas and other Palestinian leaders, and the rich elites of the Arab world.
The Arab rulers, especially in Egypt where many have been arrested on Gaza solidarity protests, are terrified that the mass rage against Israel and the oppression of the Palestinians could fuse with the huge anger at poverty and repression at home, creating the basis for a new ‘Arab Spring’.
Already, the mass anti-war movement around the world, and also growing pressure within Israel, have been important factors in forcing the ‘pause’. But now we need to continue to build the anti-war movement.
However, winning a genuine right to self-determination for the Palestinian people is inextricably linked to the overthrow of capitalism and socialist change. Only on this basis will discussion and cooperation be possible between elected representatives from both the Palestinian and Israeli working classes to resolve all the key issues, including borders, and guarantees for the rights of minorities.
The USA props up about a fifth of the Israeli defence budget, about $3.8 billion. But the Biden administration continues to grow more inpatient and angered by its largely ignored public warnings for Israel to scale down its attacks and ‘try harder’ to reduce its civilian murder toll.
US imperialism fears the growing political cost internationally and domestically for its support for Israel. It also fears wider regional war and conflict developing, and with it an economic and trade breakdown in the Middle East.
This is taking place at the same time as war in Ukraine and with ongoing tensions between China and Taiwan, and internationally. Domestically the US is increasingly politically polarised. Twice, a government shutdown has been narrowly avoided, with support for Israel a factor in forcing the House of Representatives to ‘kick the can down the road’. That will come back into the situation again in January. Overshadowing all this is the growing tide of a new Trump presidential campaign threatening his return to the White House. Further geopolitical crisis, war and conflict is on the horizon.
In the UK, further demonstrations and school student walkouts and protests are set to continue and could escalate again. Many who have taken to the streets have connected the dots and seen that the struggle of the working class and poor in Palestine is linked to the struggle against our own ruling capitalist class.
The chants of “Sunak is a wasteman” and “Starmer is a wasteman” have almost become the anthem of protests up and down the country. It gives a glimpse of the political vacuum growing, and with it openness to the idea of a new political voice for working-class people.
Not content with chasing Tory coattails in policy, warmongering Starmer is even more determined to out Tory the Tories, with his remarks praising Margaret Thatcher. Unpopularity and distrust of Starmer from millions of youth and workers keeps rising to new levels.
Organise forces for socialism
Socialist Party members are fighting for steps towards a new party, by campaigning for a list of workers’ candidates for the general election, backed by the trade unions. But preparations for a general election stand need to begin now. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which the Socialist Party participates in, has set the date for a ‘general election organising convention’, 3 February in Birmingham, inviting others to participate.
To make sure the anger that has been seen on the streets doesn’t evaporate, revolutionaries have a vital role to play, not just in supporting and building the mass movements, but in arguing for the socialist programme that is needed for victory, and winning and organising forces to fight for it.
The working class ties every struggle together. Armed with a socialist programme and revolutionary organisation, it has the potential power to end this rotten system and start to build new socialist societies able to meet the aspirations of the working classes and poor masses of the Middle East and worldwide.