The annual gifting of a bowl of shamrocks to the Commander in Chief of US capitalism and imperialism by the sitting Taoiseach is always a cringing affair. This year, it takes place with the horror of the Israeli State’s genocide against the people of Gaza in full flow. Any greenwashing of Genocide Joe (Biden) at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day would be an unconscionable insult to the Palestinian people and all those around the world marching in solidarity with them.
Predictably, the Irish government will attend this event regardless of the ongoing atrocities, which are being fully backed by US imperialism. Just like its refusal to expel the Israeli Ambassador, or to support the case taken by South Africa in the International Court of Justice, it will do nothing to upset the imperialist powers of the US or the EU. This sums up the servile nature of the Irish capitalist establishment.
In the last 24 hours, Sinn Féin has also announced its intention to visit Biden on St. Patrick’s Day. Working-class and young people who have protested against this genocidal war in their tens of thousands will be disappointed and frankly disgusted by this decision. Sinn Féin, which has been present at many Palestinian solidarity demonstrations in recent months, should of course refuse its invitation to the White House on 17 March, and must be put under pressure to do so.
Shaking the bloody hand of Biden
Bowls of shamrocks, green ties and state dinners should not be allowed to mask the fact that the Biden Administration is backing the Israeli State’s genocidal war on Gaza to the hilt. While the ceremonial smiles and speeches about the US President’s Irish ancestry take place, bombs will continue to relentlessly rain down on Gaza, as its defenceless populace faces starvation, thirst, disease and displacement. .
As well as the consistent moral support and €14.3 billion in emergency military aid to the Israeli State, on top of the €3.8 billion it provides annually, Biden’s regime has begun bombing Yemen. This is one of the poorest countries in the world, and its population is being punished because Houthi rebels have blocked boats on the Red Sea in opposition to the slaughter in Gaza. These actions are creating a real risk of a wider regional conflict in the Middle East.
Sinn Féin is, at best, naive that Michelle O’Neill can persuade Biden to be a force for peace and justice as far as the people of Palestine are concerned. Supporting the Israeli State is regarded as strategically vital for US imperialism in the Middle East, so that it can exploit the region’s resources and oppress its people. It is for this reason that Biden himself has said, “If there was no Israel, we’d have to invent one”.
Sinn Féin representatives have also justified their visit on the grounds that “The Palestinian leadership are asking us to represent them”. The “leadership” being referred to here is the corrupt, unelected and collaborationist Palestinian Authority (PA) – which does not represent the views and interests of ordinary Palestinians. The PA has engaged in countless “negotiations” with Israeli governments and US administrations since 1993, as part of misnamed “peace process”, while the Israeli State has further entrenched its occupation of Palestinian land and expanded its colonial settlements.
The Palestine solidarity movement that has mobilised millions in solidarity with Gaza over the last few months, is where Biden and the Israeli regime will feel the pressure from. Boycotting the White House visit can be a boost to this movement and put into the spotlight Biden’s role in backing this barbaric massacre that has resulted in over 32,000 deaths to date. If Sinn Féin were to do so, it would also mount the pressure on the government parties to do the same.
Gaza needs real solidarity action
Sinn Féin’s decision to meet Biden is another reflection of its further shift to the right as it prepares to go into government. This has already been seen in stances taken on the Special Criminal Court, supporting the NATO-linked ‘Partnership for Peace’, and generally cosying up to big business in Ireland. It was initially opposed to the demand for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador, but pressure from below forced it to change this position.
However, Sinn Féin’s decision on this visit also reflects its reluctance to jeopardise the private funding it raises from businesses in the US through its ‘Friends of Sinn Féin’ group. Last year, in the six months up until the end of October, the party received €300,000 from this source. Despite its left-wing rhetoric, it has never been adverse to taking money from big business. It has organised $500 a plate gala dinners in New York, and in 2003 received $5,000 from Coca Cola. It is now putting this money stream ahead of taking a principled stance in protest against the Israeli State’s war crimes in Gaza.
All of this shows why we must build a principled socialist left in the coming months and years. One that will speak truth to power, organise consistent working-class resistance to the horrors of capitalism and fight to end its rule.