This weekend demonstrations will take place around the world in opposition to Israel’s brutal aggression on Gaza. The demands will be simple – to stop the massacre, end Israel’s blockade of Gaza, end the occupation and for a free Palestine.
The attack on Gaza, pushed through in the dog days of George Bush’s infamous presidency, has galvanised a protest movement that is determined to do all it can to defeat this attack.
We were told when Bush launched his “war on terror” more than seven years ago that one of its by-products would be “peace in the Middle East”. But the plight of the Palestinians has worsened and Israel has increasingly operated a policy of collective punishment of the whole population.
None of this is surprising. When the “war on terror” was first launched, the Israelis drew the parallels between what the US was doing in Afghanistan and then Iraq, and what it could do against the Palestinians.
Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister at the time, referred to then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as “our Bin Laden”. The implication was clear – Israel could launch its own “war on terror” while the US and its allies turned a blind eye.
One of the justifications for George Bush’s war against Iraq was that Saddam Hussein was financing “terrorism” in Palestine. Overthrowing the Iraqi regime was supposedly a means of ending that financial support and of rooting out the supposed terrorism.
That war was a failure in their own terms. It has strengthened Iran as a major power in the region, and left more than a million Iraqis dead and four million refugees – generating further grievances to add to the widespread opposition to Israel throughout the Middle East.
Israel’s abortive war against Lebanon in summer 2006 was an attempt to reverse this outcome. It was widely seen as a first strike against Iran, which is seen as closely allied with the Hizbollah group in Lebanon.
The Lebanese victory there set that project back, but the US and Israel have continued to threaten Iran. The present attacks on the democratically elected Hamas government in Gaza have to be seen as not only an onslaught on the Palestinians but as part of the wider “war on terror”.
Opposition to that war remains strong around the world. The demonstrations on Saturday are the first blow in a New Year battle.
This will include organising against the G20 and Nato meetings in April, making sure that all troops leave Iraq and building a mass campaign to end the worsening war in Afghanistan.
We have to oppose the miserable British policies that follow the US, and the Middle Eastern dictators and monarchs who collude with them.