Monday, 12 January 2009

Demonstrate to end the bloodshed: escalate the protests

[By Pete Offord, Brighton Wednesday branch]

Photographs: Over 1000 people march through Brighton on Sunday 11 January against the slaughter in Gaza

The inhabitants of the Gaza Strip in the Middle East have endured months of economic blockades reducing their existence to that of a prisoner in their own land. Since the start of this year their misery has been compounded by the reopening of hostilities between the Israeli and Hamas government of Palestine. Rockets and tanks have poured into the area from the Israeli side many of them striking indiscriminate civilian targets, killing and wounding hundreds.

In reaction to recent events in the Gaza Strip and the slaughter of Palestinian civilians protests have been organised across the country and across the world over the last couple of weeks. Local people in Brighton and Hove took part in a demonstration in Churchill Square last Saturday to unite in the condemnation of Israel’s actions, and those of our own government and the United Nations and their ineffective measures to stop such violence.

Comrades from the Brighton branches of the Socialist Party attended last Saturday's protest where 200 people attended the initial rally in Brighton with a number of diverse speakers addressing the crowd. These ranged from a local Iraq citizen to a representative of the successful Save Omar campaign to the Smash EDO group. These speakers all roundly condemned the actions of Israel and Egypt for perpetuating the blockade of Gaza and rightly so. Unfortunately, none of them seemed to be able to present solutions beyond harrying MPs or protesting outside the local weapon-parts factory EDO ITT.

On Sunday 11 January Socialist Party members joined over one thousand people who came out onto the streets to Brighton to show their anger in a second week of demonstrations. This once again demonstrates the growing and escalating desire for justice for the innocent people in the Middle East.

The reality of this conflict is more complicated than the western capitalist media might have you believe. The Israeli government is a capitalist power pursuing imperialist interests and is under pressure with an upcoming election. Using the rockets and the anti-Israeli rhetoric of Hamas as a scapegoat is a desparate vote winner. The gap between rich and poor in Israel is widening and the working class of the country are under increasing attacks on their standard of living. In the mind of the Israeli capitalists, this recent escalation is the perfect opportunity for them to flex their military muscles at the expense of the working class on either side of the border.

The fact remains that even though the violence is incredibly disproportionate there are innocent people dying on both sides of the border. The rocket attacks of Hamas will not defeat Israeli aggression and save civilian lives but it will play into the hands of those who pursue an aggressive foreign policy for their own ends. More young Palestinians will be driven into the arms of the fundamentalists by the conflict fuelling another generation with hate.

Instead, it is the millions of ordinary working people of the Middle East who have the power to change this situation and bring peace to the region. Thousands of Jewish people have protested in Israel side-by-side with Palestinians against the slaughter and have joined in the marches and rallies across the world. The Socialist Party calls for mass demonstrations from the working class of Palestine, Israel, Egypt and around the globe to end the blockade of Gaza and bring Israeli violence to a halt. History has shown that it is only when the working class cast aside their national and religious differences by uniting on a class basis that they can win together for a better world.

Watch this space for news of further demonstrations both in London and locally.