01/04/2018 by Ian
Socialist Fight condemns the massacre of 17 Palestinians and the wounding with live ammunition of a further 773 as at the time this statement is written. This massacre is being directed at unarmed civil rights marchers on the Great March of Return, an initiative from below of many Palestinian refugees imprisoned in the Gaza open air giant concentration camp, to break out and return to the homes that they or their parents were driven out of in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that has been underway in the ongoing Naqba since 1947.
We welcome that Jeremy Corbyn was able to at least tweet that the massacre was ‘appalling’ after being challenged by Socialist Fight supporters among others on why he had said nothing for a day and a half while the killing went on. Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, for instance, tweeted to condemn the massacre 15 hours before Corbyn. The reason why is obvious: the vicious campaign to smear the Labour left and comrade Corbyn himself as anti-Semitic has had the intended effect of intimidating some on the left into reluctance to stick their necks out to condemn Israeli crimes.
Particularly as the aim of the march was for Palestinian refugees to claim en masse a right that the United Nations, in particular, says they are entitled to by law. The right to return to the homes they were driven out of at the time of Israel’s creation through mass pogroms and ethnic cleansing, that drove out more than two thirds of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine and produced an artificial Jewish majority by the simple expedient of expelling the rightful majority.
What Corbyn did not do, however, was defend the right to return. Nor did he call for any actions against Israel to try to help the civil rights marchers achieve their aim. He just called for a new ‘peace’ initiative. But sparse as it was, it was better than the disgusting statement of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which said that Israel was defending its borders against HAMAS and their use of ‘human shields’. A disgusting excuse for a massacre, as many pointed out. Video footage has emerged showing teenagers being shot in the back by snipers while running away, and even women crossing fields in full Islamic dress being shot down without mercy by long-distance snipers.
Meanwhile, within Labour, neither Progress, the Jewish Labour Movement, nor Labour Friends of Israel have said anything to condemn the massacre, nor anything about it at all. It is obvious why, since they all defend the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, when Palestinians seek to peacefully reverse this by returning to the homes that were stolen from them, the only answer they have is shootings.
Blairite MP Stella Creasy is one of the few on the right who have said dared to say anything about the killings. She complained that the violence was not ‘proportionate’ but also that ‘nations have the right to defend borders’. But that is what this march is about; denying Israel’s right to exclude refugees driven into exile in pogroms from returning the homes they were driven away from. Israel has no right to defend any border against its victims. This is a mass based march of the victims of ethnic cleansing to do what the United Nations says they have the right to do: return to their homes.
So the result is that Creasy, along with the entire pro-Israel contingent in the Labour Party, ultimately must support the use of deadly force to keep the Palestinian people out of the parts of Palestine the Israelis stole by force. Which is all of it. Creasy is actually more honest than for instance Emily Thornberry, who herself has said that anyone who denies Israel’s right to exist has no place in the Labour Party.
Thornberry’s statement, as Shadow Foreign Secretary, is bland and evasive, merely calling for Israel to show ‘restraint’ and avoid ‘further loss of life’. But she also appeals for ‘both sides’, and the ‘international community as a whole’ to ‘come together’ and ‘end the cycle of violence’ through the ‘two state solution’ which of course would deny the Palestinians the right to return that they seek and which they are entitled to according even to the UN. Apart from the fact that everyone knows that Israel will never agree to allow any sovereign Palestinian state to exist.
As Marxists, and even as consistent democrats, we are fully behind the demand of the marchers for the Palestinian right to return. Anything less is a betrayal of simple democracy. Israeli hands off the Gaza marchers! Bring the killers to justice! Critical support to the BDS campaign that seeks to mobilise international solidarity with the Palestinians’ struggle for equality! For permanent revolution and a multi-ethnic workers state of Palestine from the River to the Sea, part of a socialist Middle East.