Knowledge Session: #Palestine – Our Common Cause

‘I sup­port Palestine for the same reas­on I sup­port the struggle for justice any­where and every­where in the world… The same kind of dirty works being done in Palestine are being done in my com­munity.’ — M1, Dead Prez 

The so-called Arab-Israeli con­flict shoots in and out of the main­stream news but the viol­ent real­ity of life in occu­pied Palestine has wit­nessed no cease­fire. In 1977 the rad­ic­al writer John Pil­ger pro­duced the film ‘Palestine is still the issue’, high­light­ing the mass eth­nic cleans­ing of almost a mil­lion Palestini­ans from their land in 1948 and again in 1967. In 2002 Pil­ger was forced to make anoth­er doc­u­ment­ary of the same name, as Israel was engaged in an indes­crib­ably bru­tal cam­paign of mil­it­ary ter­ror in the West Bank and Gaza in a vain attempt to stamp out the Palestini­an res­ist­ance. Yet for some, the image of the black and white head­scarf, the kuf­fieh, as a fash­ion access­ory on European high­streets marks the cause Palestine as a middle class issue, as some­thing trendy or a cause for ‘online act­iv­ists.’ In Bri­tain, the huge poten­tial car­ried by the move­ment against the war on Iraq – and by exten­sion the Palestine solid­ar­ity move­ment – was demo­bil­ised by groups more con­cerned with pro­tect­ing the Labour Party than build­ing real oppos­i­tion. Mean­while Palestine is still the issue. And class con­scious or anti-racist people in Bri­tain have a respons­ib­il­ity to act.


On 12 June 2014, three Israeli set­tlers were kid­napped as they hiked on occu­pied land in the West Bank. The Israeli gov­ern­ment oppor­tun­ist­ic­ally launched a ‘bring back our boys’ cam­paign and poin­ted the fin­ger of blame at the Islam­ic Res­ist­ance Move­ment, Hamas. When they were found dead Israel prom­ised ‘hell’ for Palestini­ans, arrest­ing over 500 so far in the West Bank and launch­ing air strikes on the Gaza strip. With­in days the army had killed four Palestini­ans aged 14–18. Mohamed Abu Khdeir aged 17 was kid­napped by Israeli set­tlers near Shufat refugee camp. His tor­tured and burned body was found less than 24 hours later, dumped by the side of a street. Protests erup­ted with young Palestini­ans res­ist­ing Israeli forces with pet­rol bombs and demon­stra­tions. A new inti­fada (upris­ing) may well be in the mak­ing.

As the BBC speaks of ‘a new cycle of viol­ence,’ the real­ity is that Palestini­ans have already wit­nessed a bru­tal intens­ificBBC - Brighton picketation of occu­pa­tion viol­ence in the months pri­or to this onslaught. One day in March six Palestini­ans were killed in the space of 24 hours. Forced mil­it­ary house raids and arrests are a daily occur­rence. By the end of April 6,354 Palestini­ans were being held in Israeli jails, includ­ing 192 in ‘admin­is­trat­ive deten­tion’, a leg­al mech­an­ism to keep pris­on­ers locked up for months on end without charge or tri­al. The fig­ure also included 196 chil­dren, increas­ingly the biggest vic­tims of the occu­pa­tion. In the first two months of 2014 the Israeli army had increased its deten­tions of Palestini­an chil­dren by 80%, with 740 arrests; 465 remained in cus­tody for a week or more. The Palestine Min­istry of Inform­a­tion recently repor­ted that 1,518 Palestini­an chil­dren have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of the second inti­fada in 2000 – equi­val­ent to one child killed every three days.

Months of palestinefailed ‘peace nego­ti­ations’ between Israel, the US and the
Palestini­an Author­ity (PA) have led to noth­ing, and ended in a stale­mate as Israel refused to con­cede any­thing. The talks were opposed by the major­ity of Palestini­ans, rep­res­ent­ing no chal­lenge to Israeli’s con­tin­ued land grabs, set­tle­ment build­ing and deni­al of release for polit­ic­al pris­on­ers. The US/UK-backed PA could now face polit­ic­al tur­moil as Palestini­an youth step up their res­ist­ance to Israeli occu­pa­tion blood­shed. Protests have also taken place in his­tor­ic Palestine, the belly of the apartheid beast, sow­ing the seeds of a chal­lenge to the second class cit­izen­ship that Israel forces onto the ’48 Palestini­ans and offer­ing sup­port to the renewed res­ist­ance move­ment in Jer­u­s­alem and the West Bank.

‘Palestine remains in my heart forever,
We stand for peace, in times of war we shan’t sur­render
Remem­ber, it did­n’t start in that dark Decem­ber,
Every coin is a bul­let, if you’re Mark’s and Spen­cer’ - Lowkey

David Cameron and Binyamin Netanyahu in JerusalemBrit­ish Prime Min­is­ter Dav­id Camer­on vis­ited Tel Aviv in March to pledge Bri­tain’s ‘unbreak­able’ links with the Israeli state. He was fol­lowed a month later by Labour ‘oppos­i­tion’ lead­er Ed Miliband, who spoke of his ‘deep sense of grat­it­ude to Israel.’ The feel­ing is mutu­al. It was a Brit­ish Con­ser­vat­ive politi­cian Lord Balfour who gave his name to the 1917 declar­a­tion which sig­ni­fied Bri­tain’s inten­tion to hand Palestine over to the Zion­ist move­ment. The res­ult was the forced remov­al of 750,000 Palestini­ans to cre­ate the state of Israel in 1948, recog­nised by a Brit­ish Labour gov­ern­ment. Bri­tain’s motives were to cre­ate ‘for Eng­land a “little loy­al Jew­ish Ulster” in a sea of poten­tially hos­tile Ara­bism’, accord­ing to Sir Ron­ald Storrs, the first Brit­ish gov­ernor of Jer­u­s­alem.

This loy­alty to Brit­ish and par­tic­u­larly US imper­i­al­ism is what has kept Israel in sup­ply of $3 bil­lion in US arms each year and 42 vetoes of UN res­ol­u­tions crit­ic­al of Israeli actions. In return Israel gave mil­it­ary assist­ance to fas­cist and colo­ni­al­ist forces from Pinochet­’s Chile to apartheid South Africa, from the Phalange mili­tia in Leban­on to the Nicara­guan dic­tat­or Somoza. More recently Israel has bombed Syr­i­an army pos­i­tions, sup­port­ing the US and Brit­ish stated aim of des­troy­ing the Syr­i­an state. It is a known sup­pli­er of arms to sev­en war­torn Afric­an coun­tries.

A key mes­sage of Dav­id Camer­on’s Israel vis­it was his state­ment that ‘Bri­tain opposes boy­cotts.’ Why did he feel moved to add to Zion­ist Prime Min­is­ter Net­an­yahu’s warn­ings about the ‘del­e­git­im­isa­tion’ of Israel by boy­cott cam­paigns? Occu­pied Jer­u­s­alem may be 2,244 miles from Lon­don but the Brit­ish cap­it­al has been the site of Bri­tain’s longest stand­ing boy­cottboycott M&S Israel cam­paign. Out­side Oxford Street Marks & Spen­cer, a key mem­ber of the Brit­ish-Israeli Cham­ber of Com­merce, Vic­tory to the Inti­fada act­iv­ists have main­tained an ongo­ing pres­ence, fol­low­ing the lead of a group of young muslims in Manchester who launched the cam­paign know­ing that there needed to be action on the streets and a focus for the boy­cott move­ment.


A renewed move­ment to break Brit­ish eco­nom­ic and polit­ic­al links with Israel can have a huge impact, just as the anti-apartheid cam­paign­ers of the 1980s did in their protests against Barclays and the South Afric­an embassy. Although inspired by human­ity and com­pas­sion, inter­na­tion­al­ism does­n’t have to mean some­thing apolit­ic­al and char­ity-based. Inter­na­tion­al­ism is about recog­nising the com­mon cause work­ing class people have with the oppressed people around the world who are vic­tims of the same sys­tem. It is exactly as M1 says it in the quote at the top of this art­icle, taken from a Dead Prez inter­view with Fight Racism! Fight Imper­i­al­ism! in Manchester. It is no coin­cid­ence that bosses of com­pan­ies trad­ing with Israel, includ­ing M&S and Boots, wrote to Brit­ish Chan­cel­lor George Osborne in 2010 urging him to con­tin­ue and ‘strengthen’ his cuts pro­gramme. These politi­cians and cor­por­a­tions are the enemy of work­ing class people from the West Bank to the West Mid­lands.

On 27 Feb­ru­ary PFLP act­iv­ist Moat­az Washaha was killed bru­tally as Israeli troops lay siege to his house in Bir Zeit vil­lage. His sis­ter Shor­ouq released a pas­sion­ate state­ment to the world:

‘I ask all the world to boy­cott Israel in its entirety. And I ask the same of all insti­tu­tions deal­ing with the Israeli Occu­pa­tion. Boy­cott the Occu­pa­tion… Boy­cott is an act of res­ist­ance.’

Vic­tory to the Palestini­an people!
Boy­cott apartheid Israel!

Read More

M1 Dead Prez on Palestine



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