Workers Must Strike against Genocide!

IBT supporter addresses Gaza rally

6 January 2023

Video and transcript of an International Bolshevik Tendency supporter speaking at a Gaza rally in Dunedin, New Zealand on 9 December 2023

Kia ora koutou katoa. Ko Andrea tōku ingoa. Nō Huiterangi me Tāmaki Makaurau ōku tīpuna. Kei te noho au ki Middlemarch me ngā maunga Patearoa.

[Greetings to you all. My name is Andrea. My ancestors are from Switzerland and Auckland. I live in Middlemarch beneath the Rock and Pillar mountain range.]

Thank you to the organizers of this march for allowing me to speak.

I’m a mother, a grandmother, a filmmaker and a socialist. I’m a supporter of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small international organization whose role is to keep alive the possibility of a world free of capitalist exploitation, imperialism and colonisation, where country is pitted against country, religion against religion, race against race, men against women, and worker against worker.

Every week since October the 7th, hundreds of thousands of people across the world are marching, outraged at the hypocrisy, the doublespeak, the justifications of the leaders of the so-called “civilized” world, for Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians in Gaza, in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. People the world over have intuitively responded to the plight of the Palestinian people borne from a recognition that we are all fellow human beings, and that what we are witnessing is a crime against humanity in the form of occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

But appeals to the “international community”, tied up with vested financial interests, from oil to gas, from arms export revenues to trade deals, have proven futile in freeing Palestine from occupation. How many times has Palestine come under literal fire and the “international community” has done nothing? In 2008, 1400 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, in 2014, 2300 were killed. Since October 7, over 17,000 Palestinians, mainly women, children and the elderly have been killed and the toll continues to rise.

The world over, including those countries that New Zealand has close economic and military ties with (the US, the UK, Australia, Canada), we are seeing governments moving ever more rightwards, betraying and attacking with increasing ferocity, those social layers most oppressed and vulnerable. Only two days ago, New Zealand’s government stated it needed to see evidence that Israel is committing war crimes. Evidence! Such political cowardice over the genocide against Palestinians means New Zealand will never risk breaking ties with the US, UK, Australia and Canada, all staunch Israeli allies, or stop sharing intelligence in the Five Eyes surveillance network. Why would it? And why would we ever rely on them to have a moral compass?

Of course we all want a ceasefire so this relentless killing stops. But a ceasefire does not resolve the Zionist occupation of Palestine. The call for a ceasefire while simultaneously arguing for Israel’s “right to self-defense”, as is New Zealand’s current position, is to say the occupier has the right to defend its occupation, and the occupied is denied the right to resist!

Like the Zionist state, Hamas tactics of kidnapping and killing civilians, not just Jewish but also Bedouin and exploited Thai farm workers among others, is a form of collective punishment. Targeting civilians alienates potential allies of the Palestinian cause within Israel, further sabotaging the possibility of Jewish–Arab solidarity which is the only way this conflict will ever be resolved.

When hundreds of Palestinian civilian deaths are deemed by the IDF as acceptable “collateral damage” for the killing of one Hamas operative, we know, if we didn’t already know, that the stated Zionist aim of destroying Hamas is a pretext for the real aim of ridding Palestine of Palestinians. We must recognize that, though brutalized by the utter powerlessness that comes from years of living in an open-air concentration camp, Hamas is all that stands militarily against Palestinian genocide at the hands of the IDF.

The call for a ceasefire without the demand for an end to the occupation, is to accept the continuation of Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people. Only with the defeat of the Zionist state apparatus—the IDF, the police, the prisons and all the institutions which defend and extend the occupation—will there be any chance of both peoples, Jewish and Palestinian, to live in any sort of harmony.

On 16 October, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions put out a call to the international trade union movement, to “refuse to build or transport weapons to Israel, and to take action against complicit companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege.” They go on: “We make this call as we see attempts to ban and silence all forms of solidarity with the Palestinian people … we make this call in the belief that the struggle for Palestinian justice and liberation is not only a regionally and globally determined struggle; it is a lever for the liberation of all dispossessed and exploited people in the world.”

It is a profound mistake to view the Jewish working class as one large undifferentiated reactionary mass. There has always been a layer of Jewish Israelis with the courage to oppose the crimes of their rulers, including even now, many young Israelis refusing to serve in the IDF and be part of the genocidal Zionist project. And so we must call for Arab–Jewish workers solidarity against Zionist terror.

But it is the responsibility of workers all over the world to make a stand, to transcend nationalist divides and recognize that the interests of workers internationally are more aligned with each other than they are with our own respective ruling classes.

For the billions of words that have been spoken in diplomatic efforts to restrain Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians, and the global north’s refusal to break the supply of weapons and money to Israel, we must salute and extend actions such as those of port workers in Livorno, Italy, and Belgian transport workers who have refused to load ships and planes containing weapons and explosives destined for Israel, the trade unionists and protestors in the UK and Scotland blockading entrances to BAE Systems, suppliers of surveillance equipment to Israel, US workers and protestors blockading Northrop Grumman, suppliers of bombers and missile systems, the Construction Workers Union of India, refusing to support genocidal attacks on Palestine, and resisting attempts by the Modi government—the biggest buyer of Israeli weapons—to send Indian construction workers to Israel to replace the locked-out and expelled Palestinian workers. These are only some of the actions taking place across the world in the defence of the Palestinians.

These are the actions which give me hope, actions independent of our governments, independent of the so-called “international community”. And it should come as no surprise that the united power of the working class internationally is continually undermined by governments both militarily and with legislation, to minimize its effectiveness. Why? Because together we can be powerful and because we can make a difference!

Related articles
Stop the Gaza Genocide: Marxism & the struggle for Palestinian liberation (27 November 2023)
Israel-Palestine: Apartheid, Imperialism & Class (1917 No.44)
Israeli Apartheid & Palestinian Oppression (1917 No.33)
On the ‘Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions’ Campaign (1917 No.33)
The Birth of the Zionist State: A Marxist Analysis (Workers Vanguard, 1973–74)