Class Struggle & the Defence of Gaza

IBT supporter addresses rally

27 May 2024

Video and transcript of an International Bolshevik Tendency supporter speaking at a rally in Dunedin, New Zealand on 11 May 2024. A previous speech by the same comrade is available here: Workers Must Strike against Genocide!

It is clear that the parameters of acceptable opinion are defined by the ruling classes, and enforced by the state apparatus—police, army, the IDF, the CIA, SIS, state troopers, campus cops, prison guards, prisons, detention centres, segregation walls, checkpoints and the list goes on—to protect their wealth, their profits, their privileges.

But what we are witnessing now is an unprecedented awakening of people across the world, sickened to the very core by the unimpeded Israeli genocidal rampage being unleashed on the Palestinian people, sickened and angered by the complicity and hypocrisy of the supposedly most civilised and democratic nations on earth. And as student encampments, demonstrations and marches show no sign of abating, the spectrum is tightening; any criticism of Israel is to risk being charged with antisemitism. This alone has been sufficient to imprison protest organisers.

We have seen the violent state repression of student encampments across the US and Europe. We have seen Zionist vigilante mobs wreaking violence and havoc on pro-Palestine students in the US and Australia. In France, Germany, Hungary and Austria, pro-Palestinian demonstrations, marches, congresses, even meetings, are banned, violating democratic freedoms of speech and assembly.

With French complicity, Germany, second largest supplier of weapons to Israel after the US, has placed an entry ban into the EU on surgeon and dean of Glasgow University Abu Sittah, witness to the genocide in Gaza, in an effort to silence his damning testimony. In Austria, Michael Pröbsting, secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, was a week ago sentenced for “incitement to commit terrorist offences”—in reality, for defending the Palestinians and opposing the Zionist regime—as all of us here today stand for!

In the US and the UK, it is illegal to support Hamas, and New Zealand as junior imperialist lapdog, on 28 February, declared the political wing of Hamas to be a terrorist organisation.

Yet our governments continue to masquerade as the guardians of the free world, to sow the illusion that somehow the voice of the people matters, that free speech and democracy matter. But we must not forget we are only permitted as much democracy as doesn't challenge the status quo or threaten the economic interests of the ruling class.

From Biden to Luxon, from Macron to Sunak, Trudeau to Scholz, these genocidal apologists urge Israel to call off the planned military offensive into Rafah and respect international law, but continue an illegal trade of weapons, bombs and military infrastructure. In the case of NZ, sending military personnel to the Red Sea to be part of the “kill chain” in the US's “Operation Prosperity” on the grounds of protecting, in Luxon's words “innocent consumers” (yes!) affected by Houthi attacks on Israeli-associated shipping.

We watch as they apply international law selectively, hypocritically, according to political interests; silence on Israel's attack on the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, which under international law, constitutes a war crime, but resounding condemnation of Iran's retaliation which unlike Israel's attack, killed no one! With cynical opportunism to curry favour with their own increasingly critical populaces, they cry crocodile tears for the Palestinians, airdrop a few tonnes of aid and food into Gaza, and hold back a small shipment of bombs.

We must remind ourselves that whatever is deemed “acceptable opinion” is acceptable for the very reason that it is ineffective and does not change or challenge the status quo in a fundamental way. We must remind ourselves why the promise of the two-state solution, so obviously destined for failure, is also part of “acceptable opinion”'. Seven hundred thousand illegal settlers, armed by the IDF, incentivised both morally and financially by Israel and the US to continually annex more Palestinian land, are not going to leave peacefully, pre-empting any possibility of even a marginally viable Palestinian state.

We have been marching in defence of Gaza over the past months, shouting, “the whole system, shut it down!” This necessitates militant, educated and organised class struggle against all states that support and facilitate Israel's war on Gaza. And the ruling classes of these imperialist countries, including New Zealand, with their guns and teargas and prisons, are not sitting back quietly.

What is needed right now are actions that pull together the many scattered elements of the workers and student movements behind shared political demands. Nothing substitutes for collective action, of people organised, educated, standing shoulder to shoulder in defiance of a system that oppresses us all in varying degrees—not letters to the prime minister, not the signing of online petitions, or buying Nike shoes over Puma shoes.

And why is collective action being cracked down on so relentlessly by governments all over the world? Because people, students, workers, the unemployed, the old and the young marching together contains the potential, no matter how pale or faint, of a revolutionary anger that can be turned against the ruling class.

Two weeks ago, Dave, a member of the Otago Rail and Maritime Union spoke here, and I was proud to hear him stating quite rightly that the power of workers lies in our ability to withdraw our labour. This inherent power of the workers movement is what prompted urgent calls from the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions to unions all over the world, to wield that power: to strike, to withdraw labour, to picket, to halt the production and transportation of weapons and any forms of logistical support, destined for Israel.

But union bureaucracies both internationally and in New Zealand have largely capitulated to the spectrum of acceptable opinion, issuing platitudes instead of advancing collective militant action: and consequently, the desperate calls from Palestinian workers have been heeded by only a few honourable unions worldwide. It will be up to class conscious workers to put up a political fight within the unions against this gross betrayal of international solidarity with the Palestinian people in a time of greatest need.

So many “red lines”, or perhaps we should more accurately call them “blood lines”, have been transgressed with over 34,000 Palestinians including 14,500 children killed, butchered, crushed, executed by the IDF at the behest of the Israeli state. But even the briefest reading of the facts around the founding of the state of Israel and the repeated failures since 1948 of upholding international law, should illustrate that we have lost our senses if we continue to cling to the belief that the system that oppresses is capable of delivering just solutions.

We must not capitulate to the ever-narrowing spectrum of acceptable opinion if we want freedom and justice not only for the people of Palestine, but also for ourselves and our children.

So when the next Zim ship arrives in port, when we march against the Zionist state, when we march for the people of Gaza and the West Bank, when we march against the New Zealand government's complicity, we need our trade-union movement to educate and mobilise their membership, and have them stand in their many numbers in solidarity with students, with protestors, with the young and the old—with us! Together, we can make a difference.

Kia kaha.

Related articles
Video: Workers must strike against genocide! (6 January 2024)
May Day: For Class-Struggle Defense of Gaza! (1 May 2024)
Stop the Gaza Genocide: Marxism & the struggle for Palestinian liberation (27 November 2023)