Why solidarity with Palestine matters so much this Christmas

24-12-2020 17:36

Morning Star


DONALD TRUMP’S brazen pardon of four mercenaries jailed for massacring unarmed civilians during the US-led occupation of Iraq is just one way in which this lawless president seeks to cement his legacy.


From moving forward the sale of drilling rights within Arctic wildlife refuges to accelerating the pace of federal executions, this is a president on a mission to inflict irreversible harm while he still can.


And there are few more compelling examples than his administration’s drive to make permanent the dispossession of the Palestinian people.


Trump has ended Washington’s pro forma protests over the expansion of Israeli settlements, given the green light to annexation of the West Bank and shredded formal support for a two-state solution by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.


The grim reality is that Trump has been unusually successful in this. Normalisation of relations between Israel and Morocco (in return for US assent to its own illegal occupation of Western Sahara), Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates has undermined long-standing demands in the region that Israel demonstrate progress towards ending the occupation before it is accorded such recognition.


If the most powerful of the Gulf tyrannies, Saudi Arabia, has not yet officially followed suit, last month’s Saudi trip by Benjamin Netanyahu, whose meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took place suspiciously close to the outrageous murder of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, shows it is also on board.


This is bad news for the region, since the US motive for bringing Israel and the Gulf sheikhdoms together is not to promote peace in the Middle East but conflict with Iran.


And it’s bad news for Palestine, as Israeli incentives to negotiate dwindle as regional powers drop their objections to the occupation.


So 2020 has been a bad year for the Palestinians. This is one reason that the Morning Star has decided to mark Christmas this year with a special edition in solidarity with Palestine. The other is that Britain’s ruling class is trying to stamp out that solidarity.


Tory ministers are trying to impose the IHRA definition of anti-semitism on universities to ban various forms of solidarity with Palestine, most significantly support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.


No resistance can be expected from Labour, whose leadership is cynically deploying accusations of anti-semitism in order to smash its socialist left and obliterate the legacy of its last leader Jeremy Corbyn, in particular his anti-imperialism.


Yet building an anti-imperialist left is as vital as ever. The transition from Trump to Joe Biden in the US is already being used by Labour’s leaders to revive support for foreign wars as we follow Washington into a new cold war against China.


“Normalisation” will be Biden’s watchword as he seeks to resume the pretence of a US-led “rules-based international order,” though from invading Iraq to murdering thousands by drone it is clear that the US was a rogue state long before Trump.


This process will likely include some cosmetic concessions by Israel, acceptance of which will further normalise the ongoing theft of Palestinian land.


So we must not accept it. The occupation is not acceptable.


An international order in which the United States and its vassals make — and frequently break — the rules is not acceptable either, and US imperialism must be opposed under Biden as much as under Trump.


Anti-imperialism is not an optional add-on for socialists. Internationalism is key to the anti-capitalist struggle.


A weak understanding of internationalism — that confused it with support for capitalist globalisation — helped undermine the cohesion and militancy of the Labour left over the last five years, contributing to its eventual defeat.


In the coming year we must learn from those mistakes in building mass support for peace as well as socialism, and solidarity with all oppressed peoples.

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