Stand by Gaza

MILLIONS upon millions of people are taking to the streets all over the world in protest at Israel’s horrific military assault on Gaza and to demonstrate their solidarity with the Palestinian Arabs. Over 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and many, many more wounded in the barbarous Zionist onslaught that has spread death and destruction to homes, schools and hospitals across the Gaza Strip over the past three weeks.

The UN Human Rights Commissioner has said Israel should be investigated for war crimes and called for an end to the blockade of Gaza — one of the key demands of the Hamas government in Gaza. When the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 the Israelis imposed an economic blockade, with the blessing of Egypt, which has cut Gaza off from the outside world and severely limits the import of basic supplies such as food, safe water and medicines.

The Gazans resorted to digging tunnels under the Egyptian frontier to bring in fuel, construction materials, and consumer goods. For one short year, when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power in Egypt, the blockade was partially lifted on the Egyptian side. This all ended last year when the Egyptian army took over, banned the Muslim Brothers and cracked down on the tunnels. Life again became intolerable for the 1.7 million Palestinians in the Strip.

The bourgeois spin-masters, who posed as friends of the Arabs to justify imperialist aggression in Iraq, Libya and Syria say little or nothing about the blockade or the underlying reasons for the Arab-Israeli conflict. There’s no call for “no-fly” zones or “humanitarian corridors” over the Strip from the White House, Downing Street or the chancelleries of Europe.

Former premier Tony Blair, struts around the region as a “special envoy to the Middle East” — a do-nothing job funded by the United Nations, European Union, US and Russia — to promote the economic development of Palestine. Blair uses his position to promote vacuous “road-maps” that no-one takes seriously and grandstands to justify his criminal role, alongside the Americans, in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The loathsome former Labour leader continues to argue for imperialist intervention in the Middle East. Last year he called for direct western intervention against Syria. This year it was Iraq again. But when it comes to the Zionists all Blair has to say is that Israel has a “right to defend itself”.

The crisis in the Middle East revolves around the determination of US and British imperialism to control and exploit the massive oil reserves which lie beneath Arab sands. But it centres around the Palestine problem.

British imperialism played a central role in the creation of the Zionist state. In May 1948 the British colonial mandate ended and the State of Israel was proclaimed. On that day the first Arab-Israeli war began. It has never ended.

The first war led to the expulsion of a million Palestinian Arabs from their homes by the Zionist regime. Those refugees and their descendants have never given up their right to return to their land. And this is the heart of the crisis in the Middle East that has led to five full-scale wars and continuing simmering conflicts.

From the very beginning Israel was seen as a useful and reliable tool for maintaining the imperialist order in the Middle East. In 1956 Israel was used by Britain and France as part of their conspiracy to reverse the nationalisation of the Suez Canal and overthrow the progressive Egyptian government of the day.

In 1967 Israel was encouraged to attack Egypt, Syria and Jordan to weaken the growing Arab national liberation movement. Armed to the teeth by the United States, and several wars later, Israel continues to be the willing tool of imperialism.

The basis for a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East has long been charted by resolutions at the United Nations. Israel must withdraw from all occupied Arab territories including Arab east Jerusalem, Syria’s Golan Heights and south Lebanon. The legitimate rights of the Palestinian people must be recognised, including the right to establish an independent sovereign state. And the Palestinian refugees must be given the right to return to their homes.