Israel’s vicious attacks on Gaza have left hundreds dead, many of them young children. Israel has targeted hospitals and mosques, making life harder still for an already blockaded and povertyâ€‘stricken society. And Gaza’s population cannot escape. The borders are sealed by Israel – and by General el-Sisi’s blood drenched regime in Egypt.
Israeli attacks on Palestinians are nothing new. Israel is a “colonialâ€‘settler state” – its very creation in 1948 was based on expelling the Palestinian population, four fifths of whom were forced out in a wave of terror. By the end of the Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic), Israel controlled over three quarters of Palestinian land.
Today Israel has effective power over all of historic Palestine – with 750,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel has an economy 70 times the size of the West Bank and Gaza combined. It has a hugely powerful military, a massive arms industry and receives the most up-to-date military technologies from the US. It is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons. It is the largest recipient of foreign aid from the US.
Supporters of Israel tell us that Israel is a “Jewish state” and that it speaks for and represents all Jewish people worldwide. This is a lie. Israel is the creation of the Zionist political movement backed by big imperial powers: chiefly Britain and then the US. The Zionists believed they had the right to create their state on a land that belonged to others. Its whole history has been one of violence, dispossession and collaboration with imperialist butchers.
Zionism is not the same as Judaism. Countless Jews across the world oppose Israel and hate what it does in their name. Some of these are deeply religious, others are thoroughly secular. Organisations such as Jews for Justice for Palestine and the Jewish Anti-Zionist Network build solidarity with Palestinians among the Jewish community in Britain. There is even a small but brave minority of Jews within Israel disgusted by their state and its vicious racist policies.
Israeli brutality faces resistance – from Palestinians first and foremost, and from millions of others. We are seeing a huge wave of protest around the world, in many cases involving direct action to an extent we have not seen before. Polls repeatedly show a generational shift away from support for Israel among Jewish people. The tide of world opinion is turning against Israel.
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
Crucial to this has been the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has had growing success across the world. Britain’s largest trade union, Unite, voted at its conference this month to support BDS. Under pressure, the John Lewis Partnership has stopped stocking Soda Stream at its stores. Leading scientist Stephen Hawking backs the boycott, refusing to attend conferences in Israel. Israeli leaders are terrified of their “legitimacy” being undermined by such a popular movement. The BDS campaign is crucial – not simply because it can hurt Israel economically but also because it is a vital tool in winning the argument against Israel.
That’s why we should all get involved in the campaign, raising BDS in our workplaces and unions, our faith groups and our communities. We can all organise protests and direct action at stores that stock Israeli goods. We can disrupt pro-Israel events. We have to isolate Israel this week, next week and into the future. This can be done. In the 1980s the struggles of the anti-apartheid movement helped undermine the racist South African regime and brought solidarity to those fighting within the apartheid state. We must do the same now in the struggle against Israeli apartheid.