Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Gaza protests must continue until criminal Israeli siege ends

Socialist Alliance Statement

19 January 2009

For 22 days the Israel armed forces bombed, shelled and strafed the suburbs, villages and camps of Gaza before unilaterally declaring a cease-fire on January 18.

The death toll has already exceeded 1300, including more than 400 children—an entirely predictable result of the precision bombings of buildings where people had fled for their safety and of the use of such horror weapons as white phosphorous.

Israel’s military occupation of Gaza is the intensification of its a year-and-a-half of near total siege, itself an act of war directed at all the people of Gaza. Even before the Israel assault the siege was causing a dreadful humanitarian disaster.

But this cease-fire is not an end to Israel’s war. It is not a genuine ceasefire while the siege continues and while Israeli troops are still in Gaza.

The war and the slaughter will not end because the people of Gaza will continue to fight on in whatever ways they can. The latest massacre is not a stand-alone event, but a continuation of the ongoing Israeli oppression of Palestinian people, which started over 60 years ago. Two thirds (one million) of the Gaza population are refugees from the 1948 ethnic cleansing (“Al Nakba”), still living in refugee camps and waiting for a just solution”.

They know that Hamas is their legitimate, freely elected representative. Indeed this “terrorist organisation” happens to be one of the very few elected government in the Middle East. Palestinians in Gaza are being punished by Israel for voting for Hamas and for exercising their right to self-defence against the Israeli seige.

The will of the Palestinian people to resist can only have been strengthened by the massive outpouring of global solidarity over the past three weeks. People from around the world, including tens of thousands inside Israel itself, have taken to the streets in protests that have grown bigger as the war has continued. Because of this vast and unprecedented solidarity response, the Zionist state is already paying a very large political price for its military advances.

The Socialist Alliance believes that the solidarity campaign with Gaza must look for all possible ways to isolate Israel. A campaign to boycott companies with economic ties to Israel is already underway, with Israeli anti-war activists calling for the placing of sanctions on the country.

The Socialist Alliance repeats its call on the Rudd government to break ties with Israel over its war crimes, following the example of the Bolivian and Venezuelan governments. It must also recognise Hamas as the legitimate government of Gaza, and remove it from the Attorney-General’s list of terrorist organisations.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions should a follow its New Zealand counterpart, at the very least demanding that the federal government revoke the credentials of the Israeli ambassador, cut contacts with Israeli military and intelligence officials, ban goods manufactured in the Occupied Territories, ensure that the government does not make use of Israeli products or services in its procurement provisions, and end working holiday schemes for young Israelis.

Moreover, the burgeoning movement for justice for Palestinians needs to grow in its diversity and unity. All who want to see Israel’s military occupation ended and its criminal siege lifted must be able to stand together with equal right of participation in the movement.

This particularly applies to Australia’s Muslim communities, the victims since the Howard years of the worst campaigns of vilification and scapegoating.

In this way all supporters of freedom for Palestine will help build a movement powerful enough to make ongoing support for Israel too high a political price for the Rudd government to pay. In turn, the Israeli regime, increasingly deprived of the backing of its powerful friends in the US, UK and Australia, will have to retreat.

The strength of the movement against Israeli aggression against Gaza lies in its unity and determination to keep protesting until the Israeli military withdraws and the siege is lifted. The Socialist Alliance calls on its members and supporters to redouble efforts to strengthen solidarity with the suffering but unbowed Palestinian people.

Comment and further information

Sydney: Tim Dobson 0413 928 894 Melbourne: Ema Corro 0406 402 401 Brisbane: Paul Benedek 0410 629 088 Adelaide: Ruth Ratcliffe 0403 679 742 Hobart: Rose Matthews 0407 550 805 Perth: Sam Wainwright 0412 751 508 Canberra: Karl Miller 0403 964 247 Geelong: Tim Gooden 0438 088 112 Newcastle: Niko Leka 0406 296 141 Wollongong: Chris Williams 0425 329 963 Cairns: Jonathan Strauss 0431 683 088

For Arabic language media: Soubhi Iskander 02 9769 1991 or 0425 289 885

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