The unfolding events in Israel and Gaza have appalled workers everywhere. But British workers must focus on Britain and not think it’s for us to tell other peoples how to conduct their struggles or solve their problems.
It is not for workers in Britain, or elsewhere, to add fuel to the fire by supporting either terrorism carried out under a false flag of national liberation or a state waging sectarian war on its neighbours in retaliation.
This does not mean we should refrain from commenting on or discussing what’s happening elsewhere in the world. Indeed we must do so where it affects what’s happening in Britain.
In that light, what can we say about the events in Israel and Gaza?
- We condemn the Hamas attack that began on 7 October: it is a terrorist action. Hamas is not fighting for national liberation or waging a people’s war. What they are doing, and what they stand for, are a perversion of such struggles.
- We condemn the Israeli response: it has nothing to do with justified self-defence. Reprisals and collective punishment directed against the whole civilian population of Gaza are not justified (and may be illegal under international law, notwithstanding Hamas’s action). This perpetuates Israel’s ongoing policy of intimidation and ghettoisation of the two million people trapped there.
- We condemn Rishi Sunak’s willingness to give more military aid to Israel. Outside interference has maintained this running sore, and blighted the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians for decades.
- We condemn importing support for either side onto the streets of Britain. Celebrating the murder and kidnapping of civilians and tourists is anti-working class and anti-people. So too is calling for the indiscriminate bombing of civilians in their homes and blockade of essential supplies, or unquestioning support for such actions.
Attempts to prevent criticism of Israel and to allow it to pursue whatever acts it likes in Gaza are totally unjustified. It is not anti-Semitic to oppose the obliteration of Gaza, it is not anti-Palestinian to oppose Hamas’s terrorist actions. Attempts to portray the assault by Hamas as a step in the cause of Palestinian liberation are totally unjustified.
Such responses are not in the interests of Britain and British workers – they perpetuate the conflict and attempt to bring those divisions to our country. We have many tasks and problems of our own to resolve. Dividing our working class on sectarian lines, no matter what their origin, is no answer – indeed this will prevent progress here.
But something must change in Israel and Palestine, otherwise their peoples will be condemned endlessly to repeat the cycle of violence and mutual recrimination.
‘External interference has lasted for over 100 years. It’s time to end it.’
External interference in the region has lasted for over 100 years. It’s time to end it. That alone will not bring resolution, but it would be a giant step.
The US and its allies use Israel as a client in their struggle against Iran and for economic control. Iran and its allies use the Palestinian cause as a pretext for their own political and theocratic ends. Neither is truly interested in Israeli or Palestinian workers, except as client soldieries in their wider battles.
Change is also needed within Israel and Palestine. That will be far more likely to happen without foreign interference.
Hamas and the Israeli government feed off each other’s hatred; neither appears to want resolution. And we should not forget that Israel initially supported Hamas as it opposed the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
The latest Hamas attack looks like an attempt to block the possibility of peace for years, if not decades. The Israeli government has seized on this as an opportunity to brush aside growing internal civil and military opposition.
Proposals for two states, Israel and Palestine, and recognition that each has a right to exist in peace, have fallen by the wayside, or have been sabotaged. Neither Hamas nor the Israeli government want that outcome. Yet the alternative to peace is continued conflict.
In the end only the people of the region can decide what resolution and peace might involve. Supporting them means dealing with and confronting those in Britain who support continuing the conflict there and bringing it here.