Don Flynn says Labour must speak out now to end the collective punishment of Gaza Palestinians
The current phase of the conflict between Palestinians and Israel which erupted on October 7th with massacres directed against kibbutz towns adjacent to the Gaza Strip has escalated at a pace too rapid to cover in a bimonthly political journal such as Chartist. At the time of writing the terrified population of the Palestinian territory is being visited by violent retribution supported by the alliance of global western leaders and has been told to expect even worse in the coming days.
Articles on Palestine-Israel published in the pages of this journal over the years have set out the case which sees Palestinians as victims of an historic injustice which unfolded across the whole of the twentieth century and continues today. The breakout by Hamas back on that Saturday was a daring act of insurgency which might have been celebrated as an inspiring moment in the history of the liberation movement, but it turned into a series of brutal atrocities which need to be condemned by all parties and movements working for a free Palestine-Israel.
The many commentators who have ascribed the immediate cause of the current crisis as lying with the Netanyahu government’s cynical refusal to make progress towards a settlement with the Palestinian claim for statehood are undoubtedly correct in our view. The Israeli government under its current leadership has been in power for 17 of the last 27 years and has worked consistently across that period to isolate all strands of Palestinian political opinion from influence on world opinion. In its current far right iteration, the Tel Aviv government has seemed to favour the Islamist Hamas ascendency in Gaza as preferable to the leadership of a unified Palestinian national movement with stronger roots in modern secularism.
As we write, Gaza is being pounded by Israeli air strikes in preparation for, we are old, an invasion by land, sea and air. The long-established blockade of the territory has been reinforced and now includes checks on humanitarian supplies of food, medicines, and fuel for electricity supply. We have no hesitation in saying that this amounts to a crime against humanity, opening up a course for prosecution through the international courts.
Chartist locates itself firmly within the tradition of democratic socialism. From this vantage point we say that the impoverished debate on definitions of antisemitism and the extent to which they hinge on criticism of the State of Israel have led us to the point where the current leadership of the Labour Party is, at this time of writing, equivocating as to whether or not it should condemn acts on the part of the Netanyahu government which are tantamount to genocide. If the United Kingdom is to play a positive role in addressing the mounting tragedy in the region it will require Labour, now expected to be the next government of the country, to call for an immediate ceasefire and to state here and now its opposition to the bombardment and blockade of Gaza, as well as Israeli action in the West Bank which is increasing the death toll.