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70th Anniversary of Al Nakba:
Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis
70th Anniversary of Al Nakba:
"Great March of Return" Culminates in Defiance of Israeli Massacre
Britain and Palestine:
Militant Rallies Condemn Israeli Massacre and Support the Palestinian Resistance
Britain and Palestine:
A Criminal History of Intervention - The Partition of Palestine 1947-48
Britain and Palestine:
How Britain Enabled the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
A Call to Build the New:
200th Anniversary of the Birth of Karl Marx
70th Anniversary of Al Nakba:
On May 14, 1948, the Zionist state of Israel was established by unilateral declaration. It was established on the basis of massacres, the dispossession and mass expulsions of the Palestinian people from their land by the Zionist state and its militias. Some 750,000 Palestinians were forced to flee, registered as refugees with the United Nations.
Today, the Palestinian people face ongoing occupation and increasing encroachment and dispossession by Israeli Zionism, and Gaza has become one vast open prison. This year, on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophe for the Palestinian people, the Great March of Return has taken place over a period of six weeks or so, culminating in the protest on May 14. Just as on March 30, Palestinian Land Day, the Israeli army forces prepared a massacre of the Palestinians so boldly protesting.
On May 14, over 60 people were systematically shot and killed by the Israeli Defence Forces, which are widely now called the Israeli Occupation Forces, and thousands injured. This adds to the number of those killed and injured on March 30, and the countless others - men, women and children - who have been killed, injured and tortured over these 70 years. It exemplifies the inhumanity of Israeli state Zionism, which is backed by support and arms from the US and other big powers including Britain.
And it even more exemplifies the spirit of the Palestinian people who are forced to endure their life under such conditions, as they have been for several generations, and yet are determined themselves to persist in resisting until their inalienable rights are fulfilled. The Great March of Return itself called for the return of Gaza's 1.3 million refugees to their original villages, and for the Palestinian people as a whole the return to their homeland, a right which is enshrined in international law. Two-thirds of Gaza's population of two million are refugees from the lands on which the state of Israel was declared in 1948. The unquenchable resistance of the Palestinian people to the Zionist occupiers is just and is their right.
The situation has been inflamed by the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in accordance with Zionist ideology. More than a dozen Palestinian human rights groups condemned the move, according to the Electronic Intifada, stating, "By recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the US is deliberately denying the existing situation of occupation and the applicability of international humanitarian and human rights law." The Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council called on thePalestinian Authority to "immediately cease co-operating with the US as an arbiter for peace" and for states to halt aid to Israel and impose sanctions until it "ends its annexation and unlawful prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territory, ceases all breaches of international law, and ensures justice and accountability."
There have also been demonstrations by Israeli citizens against the Zionist government's crimes. Hundreds marched in Tel Aviv in solidarity with the people of Gaza and against the occupation of Palestinian lands, under the banner, "Create hope, stop the next war".
Those who committed the crimes on March 30 and May 14 must be brought to justice. The British government must also be held to account. It should not be overlooked that the criminal acts of the government of Israel, including the continued occupation of Palestine and the denial of the national rights of the Palestinian people, can only take place because of the continued support of the US administration and its allies, including Britain. For decades, British governments have criminally interfered in the Middle East and have given every assistance to the Zionist occupiers and other aggression in the Levant. Indeed, last year was the centenary of the infamous Balfour Declaration, which attempted to write the Palestinian people out of history. Britain also occupied this region in its mandate from 1923-1948, in the aftermath of the imperialist First World War, preparing the ground for the Zionist occupation.
It is indeed sickening to recall that for decades British governments have been calling for "restraint on both sides" or "ending the violence on both sides", as though the resistance of the Palestinian people can be equated with the crimes committed against them. The aim has been to present the state of Israel as aninnocent and wronged party that must have the right to defend itself, while the rights of the Palestinians to nationhood and self-determination are ignored and their struggle to defend their rights and for self-defence is equated with "terrorism". The use of tear gas, white phosphorus, rubber bullets and live ammunition to massacre Palestinians armed only with their spirit to affirm and achieve their rights and demands is tearing this so-called even-handedness to shreds. It is not a "fact-finding" inquiry into the role of Hamas that is required, but a condemnation of the criminality of the Zionists and a recognition of the justness of the Palestinian cause.
Nor must it be forgotten that the present furore about so-called anti-Semitism is directed first and foremost at those who condemn the Israeli crimes and support the Palestinian cause. In fact, it can be said that Zionism itself is a racist ideology. It will not wash that by identifying the Jewish religion with the ideology of Zionism - an equation which indeed many of the Jewish faith reject, as do so many people who identify as Jews - the green light is given to label those who oppose the crimes of Israeli Zionism as "anti-Semitic". Furthermore, the government has been at the forefront of upholding the definition of anti-Semitism which provides succour to the Zionist occupation of Palestinian land and the crimes of Israeli Zionism.
WWIE calls on the British working class and people to support the just resistance of the Palestinian people and their defence of their inalienable rights. We call on everyone to condemn the state terrorism and other crimes being perpetrated against the people of Gaza by Zionist Israel and those who give it succour. Let us stand as one with the heroic Palestinian people in their just struggle against occupation, in resisting aggression, for their right of return and the freedom of their homeland. Let us join with all those working for genuine peace, and support the people's movements everywhere resisting aggression, war and occupation.
Gaza City Mural
Thousands of people joined a vociferous and militant rally in Whitehall opposite Downing Street on May 15. The emergency protest was called the day after the Israeli armed forces killed over 60 protesters at the Gaza border, and injured thousands more. The killings were condemned as a continuing massacre of the Palestinian people, coinciding with the 70-year anniversary of the Nakba.
Organised in under 24 hours, this emergency protest was called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Stop the War Coalition, Olive, and Europal Forum, with the support of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and the Muslim Association of Britain, and featured numerous speakers, including Lindsey German, Tariq Ali, Owen Jones, Salma Karmi-Ayyoub, Richard Burgon, Chris Williamson, Andy Slaughter, Caroline Lucas, and a number of other MPs, including from Sinn Fein and the SNP, and chaired among others by Ben Jamal from PSC. Speakers also included representatives of the Amos Trust and of trade unions, including Unison, Unite and PCS, Kate Hudson of CND, and Hugh Lanning, Chairman of PSC. A message was read out from Diane Abbott in solidarity with the demonstration.
People of all ages and backgrounds continued streaming into the demonstration, which lasted from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, right till the end.
Speaker after speaker condemned the massacre of unarmed civilians demonstrating for their right of return to their homeland, which is their right as refugees under international law. And speaker after speaker demanded that Israel and its supporters must fully be held to account and that the British government's support for the Netanyahu regime will not go without opposition.
After every speaker, the rally burst into shouts of "Free, free Palestine!" and were joined by the speakers on the platform.
Around 100 gathered in Newcastle on May 16 to protest and demand an end to the siege on Gaza. Hanna Kreitem, originally of Ramallah, condemned the killing of eight children, including an eight-month-old girl who was asphyxiated by tear gas. Hanna, who studies social sciences at Northumbria University, said that Palestinians had faced 70 years of injustice and racism but were still standing. He stressed, "You have a stake in this world so stand up. Stand up for this stake in your world, stand up for justice, stand up for humanity and stand up for Palestine."
The rally was organised by the Newcastle Palestine Solidarity Campaign (NPSC) and was supported by Newcastle Stop the War, Northumbria Friends of Palestine, Durham Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Newcastle Stand up to Trump.
Many hundreds also joined protests in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield.
Workers' Daily Internet Edition, June 1, 2009
The British government made a promise to support the Palestinian people's right to self-determination during World War 1. However, at the same time it committed itself, in the infamous Balfour Declaration, to "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people". In 1917, Britain occupied Palestine, which had formerly been part of the Ottoman empire. In 1922, Palestine was handed to Britain as a mandated territory by the League of Nations. Mandated territories were supposed to be guided to independence by a supervisory power that had as its primary consideration the wishes of the population of such territories. During the next 25 years however, successive British governments fully supported the aims of the Zionist movement, and encouraged thousands of Jewish settlers to migrate to Palestine. The continual denial of the rights of the Palestinians led to a major rebellion in 1936, which was ruthlessly suppressed by the British government.
The government-appointed Peel Commission in 1937 recommended that Palestine should be partitioned. However, this solution was rejected both by the Palestinians, whose uprising continued until 1939 and who demanded independence for all of Palestine, and also by the Zionists who calculated that with the arrival of even more Jewish settlers they would be in a stronger position to demand even more territory for a future Jewish state. As a consequence of these rejections, the British government then published its 1939 White Paper that stated: "HMG therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State." Rather it declared its intention was "the establishment within ten years of an independent Palestinian state", and one in which "Arabs and Jews share in government".
However, the British government's attempt to repudiate its previous support for Zionism did not alter the nature of the problem in Palestine even during World War Two. Zionist terrorism against both the British administration and the Palestinian people increased and culminated in the attack on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946. The Palestine problem was further exacerbated by the intervention of the US government, which encouraged a massive increase in Jewish migration and the establishing of a "Jewish national home" and opposed the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Having created a major problem in the region, increasingly exacerbated by continued but clandestine Jewish migration and Zionist terrorist organisations, and unable to meet neither the demands of the Palestinians nor those of the Jewish settlers, who by 1947 comprised 30% of the population, Attlee's Labour government then sought to relinquish its mandate and presented the problem to the newly formed UN.
At the UN, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq immediately proposed that Palestine should be declared independent, since it was the only mandated territory in the Middle East not to have this status, but this proposal was defeated. The UN General Assembly appointed a Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) to investigate and suggest solutions to the problem of Palestine. A proposal from the Soviet Union and Poland that the Committee should also submit proposals on the question of establishing "the independent democratic state of Palestine" was rejected but UNSCOP was authorised to consider the issue of Jewish refuges from Europe. From the outset, the UN refused to consider the possibility of an independent Palestinian state. As a consequence, when UNSCOP subsequently conducted its investigations in Palestine and Europe, Palestinian representatives refused to co-operate with it. Nevertheless, it concluded that Britain's mandate should be terminated and independence declared. However, it suggested two proposals regarding independence. The proposal of the majority of UNSCOP members, despite Palestinian objections, was for partition, and the creation of two independent states but with a unified economy. The minority proposal was for a federated state. It was also recognised by UNSCOP that further Jewish immigration into Palestine should be restricted. However, the policy of the British administration in Palestine, which was to restrict Jewish migration, only exacerbated the situation in the wake of the atrocities carried out against Europe's Jewish population by the Nazis and their allies. A climate existed in which the UN was forced to take action in relation to the demands and needs of Jewish refugees from Europe, as well as in relation to the rights of the Palestinians.
In September 1947, the UN General Assembly constituted itself as an Ad Hoc Committee and began deliberating on the future of Palestine. The United States favoured partition. The Arab states and the representatives of the Palestinians rejected the partition proposal out of hand, and reiterated their position that the majority population must be granted the right to independence. The British government stated that it would implement any plan as long as there was agreement by "both Arabs and Jews". If there was no such agreement, the government announced that some other authority would have to implement it. However, at the same time it announced its intention to withdraw its forces as soon as possible. Since there was no likelihood of any such agreement, the government's declared intention could only exacerbate the existing problem, which it and previous British governments had created.
In November 1947, the UN General Assembly discussed and voted on the two proposals. Although some states still argued that the UN had no authority to make any decision about a mandated territory it was agreed despite strong opposition and many abstentions that the proposal to partition Palestine should be put to a full vote of the General Assembly. The representative of the British government lamented the fact that no consensus had been reached. It refused to allow British troops to implement a decision that had not been agreed by both the Arab and Jewish populations in Palestine.
In the vote on partition on November 29, there were 33 votes in favour and 13 against with 10 abstentions. All the Arab states and those states with predominantly Muslim population voted against partition, as did Cuba, Greece and India. Britain, which abstained in the voting, was to withdraw by August 1948 and a Jewish and Arab state would become independent by October 1948. Palestine was to be divided into eight parts - three to be allocated to the new Jewish state, and three to the Palestinians. Jerusalem was to be administered by the UN initially for 10 years. There was to be an economic union between the two states but about half of the population of the Jewish state were Palestinian Arabs. Violence in Palestine, from the Jewish settlers increased and Britain announced it would evacuate its troops and administration in May 1948, i.e. before any UN forces could be introduced.
This created a situation in which both the Zionists and the Arab states threatened to intervene. It was during this period of instability and uncertainty that the massacre at Deir Yassin occurred in April 1948 and Palestinian refugees estimated at over 700,000 began to flee from those areas allocated to the new Jewish state and other areas of Palestine. In this climate, there were calls from the US and others to stop the process of partition and declare a UN trusteeship over Palestine but Israel declared its independence on May 14 the day before British withdrawal. Even before this date, forces from Arab states had entered Palestine and Zionist forces had entered not only the designated territory of the Jewish state but also other areas of Palestine too including Jerusalem. Effectively a state of war existed in Palestine and the UN was forced to send in a mediator, who was subsequently assassinated by the Zionists, and to conduct peace negotiations. Such was the birth of the Zionist state of Israel.
David Cronin, Electronic Intifada, May 9, 2018
Supporters of Israel among Britain's ruling elite tend to recite mantras about the two nations sharing the same values.
If theft and plunder were regarded as values, the mantras would have a ring of truth to them.
Expecting full honesty and transparency from Theresa May's government would, however, not be realistic. So it comes as little surprise that one of her cabinet colleagues has wished Israel a happy 70th birthday, while trumpeting its commitment to "justice, compassion, tolerance".
The greeting - from Gavin Williamson, Britain's defence secretary - was delivered at a time when unarmed protesters were being massacred in Gaza.
Omitted from the discourse on shared values is that Israel and Britain have a shared culpability. While Zionist troops were directly responsible for the Nakba - the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine - their crimes were enabled and, in some cases, abetted by the British authorities.
The first important point is that the Haganah - the main Zionist militia at the time - was, to a large extent, trained by Britain while it ruled Palestine between the two world wars.
Although the Haganah was illegal, the British relied on it when conducting ambush operations against a Palestinian revolt during the 1930s. The Haganah provided thousands of men who joined the "supernumerary" police force that the British assembled while trying to crush that revolt.
On 20 April 1948, Cyril Marriott, the British consul-general in Haifa, sent a telegram to London officials apprising them of the security situation where he was based. Zionist forces were expected to attack Haifa - a strategically vital port city - within the next day or two, Marriott noted.
The priority of the military, he added, would be to safeguard "the route and installations" regarded as essential for the evacuation of British troops. Once that objective was achieved, Britain would "let Jews and Arabs fight it out in other parts of the town".
The instruction to allow the warring parties to "fight it out" overlooked how the Haganah was numerically stronger and equipped with more modern weapons than the Arab forces.
When the offensive took place, Zionist forces swiftly captured a large part of Haifa. Hugh Stockwell, a British general, refused to allow Arab reinforcements to advance towards the town. He also ordered British forces to withdraw.
Stockwell then instructed Arab forces to disarm. He told "all foreign Arab males" to assemble at a place designated by the Haganah, so that these men could be expelled "under military control".
Palestinian leaders in Haifa complained that Stockwell's conditions were unfair. Without any viable alternative, they requested that Palestinians leave the area.
As the Palestinians fled - reportedly with just the clothes they were wearing - the Haganah fired on an ambulance, ransacked a hospital and looted homes. Once more, the British held back.
By leaving Palestinians with no option than to quit Haifa, Stockwell was arguably an accomplice in mass expulsion. The Zionist capture of Haifa that he facilitated helped turn it into what David Ben-Gurion called a "corpse city".
Ben-Gurion, it should be stressed, favoured transforming Palestinian communities into corpse cities. He predicted that the Zionist success in Haifa could be replicated throughout Palestine.
Within a few weeks, Ben-Gurion had formally declared the establishment of Israel. He became its first prime minister.
Britain's involvement in Palestine did not end when it gave up the League of Nations mandate. For most of Israel's seven decades, Britain has given it practical and rhetorical assistance.
Britain's ruling elites have never atoned for their role in enabling the 1948 dispossession of Palestinians. Rather, they have prolonged and exacerbated the suffering of Palestinians, while pretending to believe in justice.
On Saturday May 12, tens of thousands of working people descended on central London, calling for a new deal for workers and for public services. It was seen as part of the struggle of the workers' movement to turn things around in a manner which favours them and the progress of society. There were at least 30,000 workers in their trade union contingents, probably more. This itself was a tribute to the organised workers' movement, since the mobilisation had been carried out primarily through union channels. It was reminiscent of the demonstrations for the alternative and for a future that works which the TUC organised at the behest of Congress some years back.
From early morning, coaches and trains had brought tens of thousands of workers organised in their trade unions to London from all corners of Britain. The majority were in the colours of their union, accompanied by national and local banners, making a deafening noise with hooters and the shouting of slogans. Many union activists spoke of the need for a change in the direction of the economy.
As the CWU pointed out in a post, altogether tens of thousands of activists, members and their families came to London from all walks of life - unions representing manufacturing workers, local authority staff, shop and retail employees, transport and education all marched together in an impressive display of unity and determination. The CWU, it said, turned out the largest mobilisation in the union's history, with an estimated 3,000 joining its bloc, waving hundreds of flags and proudly parading a total of 44 CWU banners, representing branches and regions all over the UK, from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the North East, North West, Midlands, South West, South East, Eastern and London.
The demonstration started from the Victoria Embankment, marching through central London, and ending up with a rally in Hyde Park. Trade unions including Unite, Unison, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) all had delegations at the march. Other groups present included Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Unite the Community and Health Campaigns Together.
As the TUC points out, three million workers are stuck on zero hours contracts, in agency work and in low-paid self-employment. Workers in the public sector have been denied pay rises which have meant effective cuts in wages and standards of living. The drive of the ruling elite towards privatisation has affected all social programmes and services, and poverty, homelessness and an increase in vulnerability have also been the result of this agenda and the irresponsibility of the ruling elite towards the future of society.
To turn things around, the TUC says: "We're marching for the alternative. For a growing economy with great jobs in every nation and region of the UK. For a £10 per hour minimum wage and the right to a voice at work. For public services that are brilliant, funded and free at the point of use. And for a society that roots out racism, sexism and discrimination."
To mark the event, the TUC published data which it said showed that workers were suffering the longest squeeze on wages in modern history. A decade on from the financial crisis, real wages are worth £24 a week less than in 2008 and are not forecast to return to pre-crash levels until 2025, the TUC said.
The march ended in a rally, with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and leaders of the country's biggest unions addressing the crowds. Jeremy Corbyn condemned the treatment of workers and vowed that the next Labour government will legislate against unscrupulous employment practices and create a new Ministry of Labour. He said, "This demonstration today is about workers' rights, it is about collective endeavour but above all, it's a declaration that we're around to campaign as long as it takes, to bring about that social justice and that decency in society."
The TUC itself emphasised that it is building a sustained campaign.
The leaflet of RCPB(ML) for the demonstration said:
"There must be a new way of running the economy in which the experience and organisation of the working class is brought to bear. The block on the right of the working class to solve the problems of society and to change the direction of the economy must be consciously fought and challenged. New forms of governance, new politics, new relations of production must be conceptualised and fought for. This is a necessity so that society can set an aim in conformity with modern forms of socialised production and social existence.
"The working class must exercise its leadership in all fields of society, including against war and militarisation and for an economy and society in which health and education are recognised as rights for all and a budget is set which serves such an economy, and global trade and other international relations are based on friendship and mutual benefit, not on aggression and intervention."
May 5 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, the great revolutionary thinker, leader and teacher of the working class, who was born in Trier, Germany in 1818.
Karl Marx further developed and with genius elaborated a new synthesis of the main ideological currents of his time, philosophy, political economy and socialism. He made two great discoveries in the field of social science - the general law of motion of nature and society, the theory of dialectical and historical materialism, and the specific law of motion of capitalist society, the theory of surplus value.
Marx was not the first to identify the importance of the class struggle. However, his work proving that capitalism did not just give rise to the bourgeoisie but also to the working class which is its gravedigger is crucial to opening a path for society to progress. It recognises that the working class is such an historical material force because it is a thoroughly revolutionary class, and it is in its interest to end all exploitation of persons by persons. In so doing, it puts an end to all backwardness, all darkness and ignorance, and ushers in an entirely new stage in the development of the society, the highest advance of the high road of civilisation, bringing into being the new epoch of history in which the working people become the decision makers. Karl Marx thereby revolutionised social science as the body of knowledge of all those in whose interest it will be to advance society by organising socialist revolution. Socialism was no longer merely a utopian dream, nor simply an aspiration. Revolutionised social science could no longer be merely the domain of some philosophers or ivory tower intellectuals. It became the preserve of all those who would revolutionise society.
In summary, as V I Lenin explained: "Marx deduces the inevitability of the transformation of capitalist society into socialist society wholly and exclusively from the economic law of motion of contemporary society."
As Marx himself said:
... as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me, bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: 1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, 2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society
Marxism, the body of ideas first developed by Marx and his comrade and close collaborator Frederick Engels, therefore reflects the objective laws of social development. It is a guide to the working class in its struggle for emancipation, a great inspiration and a vital spiritual force for the working class to accomplish its aims. Not only do these ideas reflect the laws of social development, they are also a great material force to change the world. As the class struggle becomes more acute and the class and national contradictions sharpen, these ideas continue to be taken up by an ever greater number of people. They are being further developed and enriched in new conditions and in the course of revolutionary practice throughout the world.
Marx, who was not only a great thinker but also a revolutionary strategist and organiser, showed that the working class cannot march on the high road of civilisation just because it is the working class. The working class must be organised and have its vanguard in the form of a revolutionary political party, a communist party, which is a trusted and tested general staff which sees in the struggle to open society's path to progress the greatest advance on the high road of civilisation.
Marx showed that without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement of the working class. The working class must become a conscious fighter for its own emancipation and the emancipation of the whole society and all humankind. Thus the merging of the Marxist theory with the working class movement is one of the most important tasks of the communist party, one of the most important factors in the preparation of the human factor/social consciousness, which is a necessary material condition to open society's path to progress.
Today, two hundred years after his birth, the name and work of Karl Marx live on in the hearts and minds of millions who aspire to build the New, a society in which all humans will flourish, a world of socialised humanity. Those who wish to organise the working class to take up its leading role in building that society must use Marxism as a guide to action.
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