On 3 January, following the first major demonstration against Israel’s ferocious attack on Gaza, the CPGB-ML held a public meeting in central London, addressing the urgent tasks facing the anti-imperialist movement in the light of the latest zionist onslaught.
In introducing the first speaker, Jack Shapiro, as a veteran communist whose experience goes back to the anti-Nazi actions in Cable Street, Ella Rule in the chair said that he was living proof that the problem is not a jewish one but a zionist one.
Comrade Jack likened the propaganda machines of Israel and this country to the lies of the Nazis that led to the Holocaust, which is now being copied against the Palestinians by zionist Israel. He emphasised that zionism is the equivalent of Nazism.
In response to Israel’s accusation that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, Comrade Shapiro said that the bombing raids over Gaza are a form of acute terrorism – flying low, killing children and frightening the rest out of their wits. He said that Hamas, legitimately elected and leading the resistance, had to be supported.
It was not the first time that Israel had tried to destroy another country, said Jack, but the Lebanese people under Hizbollah fought back against them and kicked them out.
A speaker from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Mark Zeitoun, a Canadian-Palestinian specialising in environmental issues, emphasised the importance of water and how Palestinians are deliberately deprived of it.
The only significant surface water in the region is the River Jordan, to which Israel and Jordan have monopolised access, while the Palestinians are left to rely on ground water held in the rocks. Although there are four reservoirs, three in the West Bank and one in Israel and Gaza, Israel has seized control of 90 percent of the water supply and Palestinians can only access 10 percent.
While there is piped water available within 1km of Gaza in Israel and from the Nile, within 40km in Egypt, the siege of Gaza has meant that Gazans are now deprived of these supplies, which have made the ‘desert bloom’ in Israel while Gaza is parched.
Meanwhile, the aquifer in Gaza has been contaminated by sea water through forced over-use, the latest assault has destroyed some of the few remaining wells, and lack of fuel means that municipal pumps no longer work. There is, as always, a shortage of chlorine to remove bacterial contamination.
Comrade Zietoun said that people who say that Gaza is a ‘looming’ environmental disaster are wrong – it already is, and has been, an actual environmental disaster for 10 or even 20 years.
Ranjeet Brar, of the CPGB-ML, gave a well-researched overview of the history that led to the current situation. He emphasised that zionism is a colonial idea, Israel having been created under the direction of British imperialism to provide a colonial standing army in the Middle East. The zionist project in Israel is no less racist than the apartheid state of South Africa was.
Comrade Ranjeet dealt with the myth that the current attack was provoked by Qassam rockets fired into Israel by not only making the comparison with the horrendous fire power that the zionist forces unleashed on the Palestinians, but also the large number of Palestinian deaths caused by the blockade on Gaza.
He emphasised that resistance to occupation and oppression is legitimate. The struggle of the Palestinians, currently led by Hamas, against zionist encirclement and attack is an anti-imperialist struggle against the enemies of the British working class.
Ranjeet also recounted how, at the picket of the Israeli Embassy on the previous weekend, he and others had been arbitrarily arrested and badly treated by the police as the British state sought to criminalise and intimidate protestors.
A speaker from the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Turkey and Northern Kurdistan (MLKP) outlined the history of Hamas and emphasised the right of the Palestinian people to determine their own affairs.
There was a lively discussion, during which, among other things, many people emphasised the fact that zionist intransigence had ruled out a two-state solution as a realistic possibility. During the discussion, the news arrived that Israel had launched its ground attack
The meeting reiterated the PSC demands: an immediate end to Israel’s military assault on Gaza; an end to the blockade and siege of Gaza; an end to Israel’s violations of international law; an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land; British suspension of diplomatic relations with Israel by declaring the Israeli ambassador persona non grata and closing the embassy; the freezing of military aid provided by the British government to Israel, both arms and money; and the suspension of all trade agreements with Israel.
The meeting pledged support to the anti-zionist, anti-imperialist struggle to end the siege of Gaza.