By Donal Devlin
After 75 days of genocidal terror in Gaza the death toll has surpassed 20,000, with many thousands more lost under rubble. This is the horrifying reality following 12 weeks of total blockade and relentless bombardment of the tiny strip, home to a captive population of 2.3 million.
Over 300,000 residential units, half of Gaza’s homes, have been destroyed or damaged, leaving 85% of the population or 1.9 million displaced. Of the 35 hospitals in Gaza, only eight are still functioning. The WHO has warned that many more will die from a lack of water, food and medicine, particularly from the diseases that are spreading rapidly in conditions of mass overcrowding. The UN has warned of “catastrophic” hunger levels, verging on famine, with 575,000 deemed to be starving.
Every aspect of this unspeakable humanitarian disaster is the intentional result of calculated decisions by the Israeli Military. A recent article in the Israeli publication +972 Magazine quoted members of Israeli intelligence who referred to Gaza as a “mass assassination factory”:
“Nothing happens by accident,” said another source. “When a 3-year-old girl is killed in a home in Gaza, it’s because someone in the army decided it wasn’t a big deal for her to be killed – that it was a price worth paying in order to hit [another] target. We are not Hamas. These are not random rockets. Everything is intentional. We know exactly how much collateral damage there is in every home.”
Imperialism under pressure
All of the above is happening in plain sight, with the Israeli State enjoying, until recently, the unashamed backing of the main Western capitalist powers. Under pressure from the mass mobilisations in solidarity with Palestinians, however, many governments are rescinding their support for the Israeli war on Gaza, with the US alone standing unwaveringly behind the continuing massacre of defenceless civilians and children. Germany, France and Britain have finally come out in favour of a ceasefire, and a recent UN General Assembly voted 153 to 10, with 23 abstentions, in favour of a ceasefire.
The UN is organised so that such votes are largely meaningless, however. When it comes to the body with any real teeth, the Security Council, the US (alongside Russia, China, Britain and France) can veto any decision that conflicts with its interests. The interests in this equation relate to its vital “strategic asset”, namely the Israeli State – a crucial ally in maintaining its domination over the Middle East.
Yet, even in the US, the pressure is being felt. The Biden regime is now pushing Netanyahu to engage in a more “low intensity” war with a lower casualty rate as it faces mounting revulsion at home over the scale of atrocities in Gaza. The prospect of Biden – now contemptuously referred to by many as ‘Genocide Joe’ – being re-elected in 2024 has been diminished further because of his appalling stance.
Mass opposition from below
The inspiring movement across the world in solidarity with Palestine is having an impact. Millions have marched in major cities and towns across the globe on an almost weekly basis, demanding an end to the slaughter. This has taken place alongside student walkouts, direct action protests targeting railway stations and arms companies. Workers have taken strike action in Belgium, Italy and Catalonia to stop weapons being sent to Israel.
All of this speaks to the widespread mood of solidarity for the oppressed nation of Palestine amongst working-class people. It also speaks to a broader discontent in society – the opposition to injustice, inequality and oppression that has seen the rise of the feminist, LGBTQ rights, and Black Lives Matter movements in the last decade. There is a major chasm between the desire amongst the majority to see freedom for Palestine and the role of capitalist political leaders. Britain is a relevant case in point. Both the Tories and the deplorable Labour leadership of Keir Starmer backed the Israeli State to the hilt, including trying to criminalise and intimidate protests. At the same time, millions have marched in Britain against this genocide. Indeed, over 60 Labour councillors have resigned due to Starmer’s stance.
Similarly in the US, opinion polls have shown strong support for a ceasefire from the outset. We’ve seen the largest Palestinian solidarity protest in US history, with 300,000 marching in Washington, DC. A significant number of protests and direct actions have been organised by Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow, reflecting a growing opposition to the apartheid policies of the Israeli State amongst an increasing number of younger American Jews. The United Auto Workers union, the most powerful in the US, which recently won a significant pay victory, has come out in favour of a ceasefire.
Break with this system of injustice
But strong as it has been, the international solidarity movement has to escalate. We need to build momentum to demand a permanent ceasefire and end the criminal blockade of Gaza. We need far more workers’ actions to stop weaponry being exported to the Israeli regime, likewise, all goods used to maintain the oppression of Palestinians, such as those from Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar et al. Workers could also organise to target the profits of Israeli capitalism in whatever way they can while the genocidal war is ongoing. Of course, the mass protests need to continue and grow to pile on the pressure – there can be no business as usual while this genocide continues.
Palestinian liberation means ending the siege, the occupation, the settlements, and the racist, apartheid laws. It means ending the rule of the Israeli capitalist regime, its imperialist backers, and the rotten capitalist dictatorships of the Middle East and North Africa. It means replacing them with governments of the working class, the poor and the oppressed, seizing the immense wealth and resources in the region, and bringing them into public ownership under the democratic control of the masses.
Breaking with capitalism means breaking with injustice and creating a democratic socialist Middle East based on genuine equality, where the rights of all national, ethnic and religious minorities are guaranteed. Within this framework, a just and democratic solution to the national question in Palestine / Israel can be brought into existence, with both peoples afforded their right to national self-determination. Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace and security, without restriction on freedom of movement, with free and open borders. Based on united working-class solidarity and cooperation and democratic planning from below, Palestinian refugees would be able to exercise their historic right of return to their homeland.
The agency for this necessary and radical change must begin with the Palestinian masses on both sides of the Green Line. The revolutionary mobilisation of this force can deliver real blows to the Israeli occupiers. Crucially, this could be supported by the power of the working class and poor masses in the region – in countries such as Egypt, Iran and Turkey. It would also be vital to reach out to the Israeli working class, whose capitalist leaders have only delivered a society based on war and perpetual insecurity – who’ve made Israel the most dangerous place in the world to be a Jew.
The events of the last 12 weeks show we cannot accept the hellscape that capitalism in the 21st century has created for so many working-class and oppressed people. We need a revolutionary socialist alternative now.