Pro-Palestine or Anti-War?
Every weekend there have been protests and demonstrations about what is happening to the population of Gaza. Water, electricity and fuel are cut off. Hospitals, schools and residential buildings are bombed. Hundreds are killed every day and many more injured. Over a million have been displaced.
Naturally people are horrified by what they see on their television screens is happening and, equally naturally, want it to stop. So do we. Despite this, most politicians will only go as far as asking for a ‘humanitarian pause’ — after which the siege, the bombings, the killings, and the destruction can continue as before.
Some of the demonstrators are openly pro-Hamas chanting ‘from the river to the sea.’ Maybe some are doing it as an act of defiance as the government and the media have called for the police to ban it. But do they realise the implications of what, literally, they calling for — an Islamic state in the whole of Palestine including what is now Israel? How could that be achieved without further massacres and misery, if only because as much 40 percent of those living there are not Muslims but Jews and Christians who are likely to resist it? In any event, it doesn’t reflect the just-stop-the- killings sentiment of most people and even most demonstrators.
Others are calling for a ‘free Palestine’, by which they mean an independent state either alongside or incorporating Israel. That might reduce the added oppression which the population of the West Bank and Gaza now suffer but it would not solve the basic problem facing workers there of being excluded from the means of living and forced by economic necessity to work for those who own them on condition of producing profits for them. Nationalism is no solution; in fact, whether it is Jewish or Palestinian, it’s part of the problem.
The protests are unobjectionable as a simple protest against the horrors of war and a simple cry that the suffering caused by an ongoing war should just stop, naive as this may be. Given capitalism and the clash of interests between the profit-taking few that is built into it, no side in a war is going to stop just because innocent people are being killed, injured, displaced or otherwise ‘collateral damage’. States fight wars to win and will always do what it takes to achieve this, despite Geneva Conventions and so-called international humanitarian law.
As socialists we object not just to particular wars but to all wars and not just to all wars but to the system that breeds them — the worldwide capitalist system of competition for profits between rival capitalist groupings and the states that protect them which brings them into conflict over sources of raw materials, trade routes, markets and investment outlets. In the present war the greater issue is who controls the oilfields in the Persian Gulf and the trade route out of it, with Israel being supported by the West to counter the threat there from Iran and Iran promoting militant Islamism to undermine Israel.
The solution in Palestine is not to establish a Palestine state nor to demolish the state of Israel. It’s not a one-state solution or a two-state solution or any sort of re-arrangement of frontiers and areas of political control. That would still leave the underlying economic system the same. It’s a worldwide system, without borders, where the Earth’s resources will have become the common heritage of all humanity and used to produce what people need rather than to make profits for the few who currently own and control them. That’s the only way to lasting peace not just in Palestine but throughout the world.