people gathered in the centre of Cambridge last
Saturday in the biggest demonstration yet since Israel
began its assault on Gaza
a few weeks ago. A noisy rally was held in front of the Guildhall before a short
march through the town centre as shoppers were treated to the loud rallying cry,
‘Free, free Palestine, occupation is a crime!’
The previous evening the Israeli government
had announced that they were to vote on a ceasefire to start on Sunday, and then
stepped up their aerial assault on Gaza! As we have seen, although we are
opposed to Hamas’ terrorist tactics, Israel is engaging in a
disproportionate response which is nothing other than state-sponsored terrorism
against the Palestinians.
What was notable
from the demo was the wide mixture of people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds
with young women in the hijab leading many of the chants, reflecting the
outrage that people in Britain and across the world are feeling towards the
plight of the Gazans.
A meeting the
previous week in Cambridge
held by the Stop the War coalition and Palestinian Solidarity Campaign had
attracted 100 people on a freezing cold night in mid-week.
As well as
speakers from the above campaigns there were also representatives of Jews for
Justice in Palestine
and the Quakers. The most interesting speaker was a young Gazan student who
described the horrors of life under Israeli occupation.
As socialists we
fight stand shoulder to shoulder with those who oppose war and support all the
efforts made to campaign for an end to the oppression of the Palestinians. We
support the calls to write letters, lobby MPs, to demonstrate and raise the
issue in our schools, colleges and trade unions. We share the outrage felt by
working and middle class people .
Socialist Appeal supporters pointed out in the discussion, this is not just a
moral issue. We must also understand the reasons for war and oppression. It is
the system itself- capitalism- that needs to be changed if the Palestinians are
to be free from oppression. And that means that the Israeli working class must
also struggle for their own freedom – as Marx said a nation can never be free
is it oppresses another nation.
We must appeal
to workers to organise both within Israel and beyond. Trade unionists must
refuse to move military hardware, supplies and other equipment contributing to
the Israeli war machine. This is a demand we must raise at demonstrations, at meetings
and in discussion with workers and youth.
This will be all
the more important as the current ceasefire begins. As with the previous
cessation of hostilities, it is likely that Israel will use the lull to regroup
and refresh its military arsenal for its next offensive. Hamas will probably try to do likewise.
- Israel must end the blockade of Gaza
- Hamas must end the terrorist attacks on Sderot
- Instead the Palestinian masses should be armed in self-defence
- The Israeli labour movement should mobilise to support the
people of Gaza
- For a socialist federation of the Middle East