Comrades from the CPGB-ML and Red Youth attended the Palestine Solidarity Campaign AGM 2016 on Saturday 23 January, joining hundreds of members from branches, affiliated trade unions, and other organisations.
The annual report largely focused on the acheivements of the wider Palestine movement, including the impact of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement and lobbying MPs & Parliament. There was frustration that the British government is not seriously tackling the issue, but excitement that it had been raised frequently by members of the public and the PSC at hustings, and contacting MPs and candidates directly, and that they had been able to organise fringe meetings at the Labour, Conservative, and SNP conferences.
Just prior to the Christmas holidays the CPGB-ML were pleased to host a showing of the documentary-film ‘Palestine: What Hope Peace?’ in Manchester with a live Q&A from the film’s creator Kerry-Anne Mendoza. There was a stall where people could pick up our latest Gaza leaflets as well as stickers, postcards, a copy of Harpal Brar’s excellent ‘Imperialism & War’ book and copies of the CPGB-ML pamphlet on George Habash, and one of our North West comrades provided an introduction to the event before handing over to Kerry-Anne to say a few words as this was a platform for her project.
We were very keen to show the film as the CPGB-ML has stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people since our inception and we have been consistent in our stance as a party unlike many of those groups who are only interested when Palestine makes the headlines! Kerry-Anne Mendoza is a talented and dedicated author, journalist, film maker and activist as those of you familiar with her work and as blogger of the Scriptonite Daily website will know. By travelling to us in Manchester Kerry-Anne gave us a rare and valuable insight into what is really happening in Palestine via both her own eyewitness experience and from first-hand interviews with the people of Gaza. This is the kind of truth that we will never get from the BBC with its shameful censorship and insidious campaign of disinformation and lies.
I’m pretty sure I’m preaching to the converted here as regards the mainstream media though! You only have to look at news coverage to see that it is the Israeli ‘victims’ who dominate the narrative while the numerous deaths of Palestinian civilians are pushed to one side or glossed over – Palestinians merely ‘die’ while Israeli’s are ‘murdered’.
A recent and pertinent example of this skewed reporting is when three Israeli teenagers were killed by an unspecified person(s). Yet despite the fact that the bodies had been found, Zionist leaders whipped up a media shitstorm sending mobs baying for blood and vengeance by reporting that the three teens were still ‘missing’. This, apart from being seen as some bizarre justification for burning alive 16-year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, also provided an excuse for the ransacking of homes in the West Bank by occupation forces and the kidnapping of hundreds and killing of ten Palestinian people.
In ‘Palestine: What Hope Peace?’ Kerry-Anne provides us with a harrowing look at what the people of Palestine are facing day in and day out. Rather than relying on image upon image of maimed and bloodied corpses in the kind of sick, almost eroticised voyeurism and glorification of death that saturates online social networking sites, Kerry-Anne has opted to approach the situation from the point of view of a western outsider (herself!) and her reaction to what she is seeing. But she also combines this with the views of the people who live with this every day.
The images of the dead and death that are shown do not linger — in fact it is because they don’t linger that they are all the more real to us. Kerry-Anne told us that the reason she wanted to show herself as an outsider and how frightened and upset she was is because often the people she met in Gaza were so numb and so shell-shocked that the full impact of what is happening to them is almost lost. They are desensitised to a point, living under the constant threat of death, a barrage of bombs. Yet somehow they are maintaining a sense of normality even under conditions that worsen with each new attack. This is the most terrifying of all – that a community of people can live this life as though it were ‘normal’.
As well as the human element this film is set very firmly within the historical context and the history of this apartheid. Kerry-Anne spoke to us afterwards about the Israeli people who are ‘resisting’ the attacks, she said that most of these people who say they want ‘peace’ actually just want ‘quiet’ — they want no blood but are happy for the segregation, the walls and the oppression and racism to remain. People need to be aware that the Palestinians are not terrorists, they don’t have advanced weapons or an army — when Israel claims to be defending itself in actual fact what it is really defending is the illegal occupation of a country.
After the event Kerry-Anne had the chance to network with the various Palestinian campaign groups from the Manchester area and as a result another showing of the film is planned which will coincide with a tour of the film’s final cut with dates already scheduled for January and February 2015 – well worth seeing!
What we all need to bear in mind is that Palestine is not something far away that does not affect us, it is one part of a whole – every single issue is linked from Gaza, to the NHS and Bedroom Tax, Nato to fracking, fascists in the Ukraine to police brutality – these are all symptoms of the imperialist disease. This is why we have to stand in solidarity with the brave Palestinian people who are rising up against the imperialist occupiers. We need to stand against the minority of capitalists in power, those who care only for domination and maximising profit for themselves and to the detriment of the masses. We have to stop all parts of the imperialist war machine from functioning in whatever way we can be it by boycotting Israeli goods or mass action.
Communists met in Birmingham last night to hear Joti Brar, central committee member of the CPGB-ML, put the case for isolating zionism.
Joti explained that it is not only consumer power which can isolate Israel but the power of the organised working class. Our media unions must organise their members so as not to write, publish or broadcast war propaganda. Our manufacturing unions need to organise workers to refuse to make munitions and other equipment destined for Israel and used in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
Earlier in the day red youth and members of the Birmingham committee of the CPGB-ML met and spoke to local shopkeepers about the ongoing boycotting of Israeli goods from our shops and to urge local people to support today’s demonstration in central London. Redyouth.org will post up photos from today’s demo in due course, if you can get along and help us please find our stall at Portland Place or Hyde Park!
Support for the activists occupying the Israeli arms factory, UAV Engines in Shenstone, grew throughout the day yesterday. People continued to arrive from across the country, joining protesters who had stayed through the night, to express their outrage and grief at the continued support of humanitarian crimes against the Palestinian people. Their message was clear: stop exporting arms to aid in genocide, stop supporting an apartheid state, stand up against oppression and injustice in their most barbaric forms.
Protesters outside the police cordon (a crime scene, making it an arrestable offence to enter for anyone, except of course locals and anyone driving a nice car) kept up the spirits of the occupiers from London Palestine Action on the roof. Chants, drumming, and slogans were heard by the people on the roof, although the police would not let the protest move within sight of the factory.
The police invoked draconian laws recently passed that make being a ‘nuisance’ an arrestable offence, delaying any decision to move the cordon closer to the factory, and maintaining a strong presence throughout the day. Strangely, when the cameras arrived, the police decided to move all of their force out of sight, perhaps to give the impression that a peaceful protest wasn’t being met with over 30 officers armed with pepper spray, batons, and stun guns.
The protesters grew frustrated by the police’s attempts to delay and diffuse the movement, and decided to hold a silent march through the village which was met with support from the local pub and church. Many in the village were previously unaware that military hardware was being manufactured in the factory.
The police deliberately delayed the decision of whether to let the protesters move ahead, which had been demanded early on, in order to proceed onto the roof and arrest the occupiers at approximately 7-8pm. The police did this under the cover of allowing them to use phones to conduct interviews with the BBC and PressTV. Despite being removed from the roof they got the message out to people across the world, and have educated and inspired many not only about what is really happening in the world, but shown them that they are empowered to take action and stand for what is right.
Taking action, from informing the public and staging demonstrations to occupying means of production and denying trade and transport for imperialist wars is not only justified, but our imperative. Our ruling classes wage war in their own interest, oppress workers of all countries, and profit from our suffering. We must take control of our own labour, deny the capitalists the means of oppression, and smash the tools of imperialism.
“Either place yourself at the mercy of capital, eke out a wretched existence as of old and sink lower and lower, or adopt a new weapon-this is the alternative imperialism puts before the vast masses of the proletariat. Imperialism brings the working class to revolution.” – J.V. Stalin, Foundations of Leninism
The CPGB-ML and Red Youth are hosting a public meeting to discuss the bourgeois media lies about what is happening in Gaza and what can be done about it this Friday 8th August at 274 Moseley Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, B12 0BS at 6:30pm.
You should also join us at the Palestine Solidarity Committe demonstration in London on Saturday 9th August, taking place at 12 noon in front of BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London, W1A 1AA. Take action! Make a difference!