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Palestine is a British working-class issue
Issued by: CPGB-ML
Issued on: 22 February 2008
Palestine is a British working-class issueNot just a humanitarian question

Karl Marx, commenting on the relationship between Britain and Ireland, famously wrote that “the nation that oppresses another nation forges its own chains”. This is still true today. So long as the British working class goes along with the actions of British imperialism for the sake of the few crumbs that it gets by way of payment for this complicity, it will remain impotent in the struggle against British capitalism and for socialism. This simple truth, seemingly obvious, is widely misunderstood or ignored in the British ‘left’. However, to continue to ignore it is forever to submit ourselves to the mercy of capital.

British imperialism has always been a key supporter of the zionist project. European colonialists had long been plundering the Arab lands, taking huge amounts of oil and paying a pittance for it, but Arab nationalism was emerging as a significant threat to this cosy arrangement. A jewish state, set up to collaborate with imperialism in the region, promised to be a bastion of colonial reactionary interest, “an Ulster” in the Middle East, ready to act quickly against any Arab popular movement that threatened the profits of the major oil, armaments and other monopolies. Although, since the six-day war in 1967, the US has become the dominant economic sponsor and political benefactor of Israel, Britain continues to supply money, arms and political support.

The relative strengths of British imperialism and the British working class are inversely proportional: the weaker British imperialism, the stronger the British working class. British imperialism is weakened by Palestinian liberation, and, therefore, the British working class is duty-bound to support the struggle for the liberation of Palestine.

The struggle continues

The Palestinian people are waging, a heroic and tenacious struggle for independence. For four decades, they have fought for the minimum demands of “a truly sovereign and independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in June 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the dismantling of the settlements in the West Bank, the release of all Palestinian prisoners and the ... right of the refugees to return to their homes.” (Khaled Meeshal, leader of Hamas)

These demands are extraordinarily magnanimous, considering that the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war only constitute 22 percent of historic, pre-partition Palestine.

Nonetheless, in spite of years of intifada and negotiations, Israel has refused to scale down its occupation or to stop the expansion of settlements. Despite the numerous ceasefires and compromises offered by the Palestinians in the 15 years since the Oslo Accords, Israel has responded to each ceasefire and compromise with provocations in the form of ‘targeted assassinations’ or raids on alleged ‘bomb factories’, each time blaming the Palestinians for Israeli violence.

Israel is making a two-state solution unachievable. In so doing, it is creating the conditions for a one-state solution, and with it the end to the whole racist idea of an ethnically cleansed jewish state. Roll on the day.

End the siege of Gaza

The election victory of Hamas in January 2007 was a clear endorsement by the Palestinian electorate for armed resistance against Israeli occupation. At the same time, the mandate for Hamas served as a clear manifestation of the Palestinian people's rejection of the so-called peace process, which was reaching nowhere, and under the guise of which Israeli zionism, with the full support of US and EU imperialism, continued to expand settlements and subject the Palestinians to economic blockades, military invasions, aerial bombardments and assassinations, turning the Palestinian territories into prisons in the hope of breaking the people’s resistance.

Israel and its backers in the West have done everything within their power to bring down the Hamas government and replace it with a more pliant Palestinian administration. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of budgetary aid from the US and EU have been cut off; Israel has refused to release nearly $1bn of tax and customs revenues owed.

The US and EU have pumped considerable amounts of money and armaments to the supporters of Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to confront and defeat Hamas in open armed combat. However, the result of this scheme in Gaza was the exact opposite of what the imperialists had intended – Hamas emerged victorious and more popular then ever.

Since September, Israel has reverted to the unsubtle tactics it prefers – indiscriminate violence and economic sabotage. Designating Gaza a ‘hostile territory’, the Israeli state has turned the Strip into a modern Warsaw Ghetto. The borders have been closed, and Israel has imposed severe restrictions on drinking water, electricity and food deliveries.

As a result, over 80 percent of Gaza’s 1.5 million people are living in total poverty, dependent on limited food aid. Almost all economic activity, as well as health and education services, has ground to a halt due to lack of fuel, electricity and supplies. The result is a full-scale humanitarian crisis, wilfully imposed by Israel, with the approval of the US and Britain.

Israel falling apart at the seams

In spite of the terrorist attacks being made by Israel on Gaza, the Palestinian resistance remains unbowed. This continued resistance against occupation, combined with the bloody defeat Israel suffered at the hands of Hizbollah in its war of aggression against Lebanon in 2006, have served to reveal the limits of Israeli might and its inherent weakness. In the aftermath of the Lebanon war, which was devastating for Israel, Dan Halutz, the then Israeli chief of staff, was forced to resign, while Olmert and his administration now find themselves entirely rudderless, demoralised and covered in ignominy – mired in several corruption and sex scandals.

It is likely that the next Israeli election will bring Likud and Netanyahu into office, but the solution to Israel's basic problem – securing peace while continuing the occupation of Palestine and the brutal suppression of the Palestinian people – will be no nearer than when Netanyahu last sat in the prime minister's office. Israel is heading, at an accelerating pace, for ruin and self-destruction.

Unity of the resistance

Zionist and imperialist attempts at instigating divisions have had some success, but Israeli brutality is also emphasising the need for united resistance. We are confident that the Palestinian people will overcome their divisions and achieve unity in facing the great battles to come.

Victory to Palestine!
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