Socialist Alternative

Mass Movement Needed To End The Slaughter In Gaza

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Working people around the world have  been appalled, enraged, and disgusted at Israel’s actions in Gaza. Public pressure against all governments with any kind of relationship with Israel has been rising sharply across the world. In the US, according to the Crowd Counting Consortium, there have been at least 6,889 Gaza solidarity protests in 828 localities in every single state with over 1.25 million people participating. Millions more in many countries across the world have joined protests calling for an end to the war.

The mass movement, but more particularly the threat of full scale upheaval in the Middle East, is undoubtedly a real factor in staying the hand of the Israeli state from going even further. US imperialism is also pushing for a ceasefire not because it cares about the Palestinian people but because it fears a full scale regional war that would tie it down in the Middle East when it is also engaged in a proxy war in Ukraine and sharpening conflict with China in the Western Pacific.

Israeli Politics

Still, the Israeli government, while under pressure and increasingly isolated internationally, has not backed down from its ethnic cleansing.  Netenyahu, a right-wing, anti-worker politician with authoritarian tendencies is himself besieged by those in his cabinet that are even further to the right and more committed to genocidal policies than even he is. His personal political future plays a part in this as well. 

We do not agree with those on the left who see the Israeli working class as one reactionary mass. Israeli workers are not made safe by the occupation or by the latest mass killings in Gaza. In fact the Israeli economy is in deep crisis and new rounds of austerity threaten the working class along with the potential for future October 7 attacks. Despite the weakness of leftwing forces amid a harshly censored environment, the only viable future for both Palestinian and Jewish workers is through building a united movement  to oppose the war, the occupation, and the ruling class exploitation across the region. 

Increasing Isolation

Pressure from global protests has increasingly isolated the Israeli state in diplomatic circles. Canada, Belgium, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands have already suspended arms sales to Israel. 18 out of the 47 countries on the UN Human Rights Council have brought forward resolutions calling for an arms embargo on Israel. The furthest the Biden Administration has gone is to abstain from the ceasefire resolution that finally made it through the UN Security Council. 

But despite the increasingly sharp rhetorical rebukes by the Biden administration, as of today there is still no actual move to cut off military aid to the Israeli state. The words ring completely hollow.

In reality, Biden and Trump are not willing to create a serious breach with Israel that threatens long-term US foreign policy dictum that’s been in place since the 1967 War, especially that Israel has served as an indispensable armed beachhead for US imperialism in the oil rich Middle East. However, the US has other alies in the region, reactionary Arab regimes who were prepared to normalize relations with Israel before the current conflict which now makes such a policy completely toxic.

How Can We Stop This Madness?

The search by ordinary people in the US to create a political cost for Biden is seen in the impressive showing of the Uncommitted vote campaign in the Democratic Primary. Over 100,000 in Michigan, over 50,000 in Wisconsin and double digit percentage points in numerous states like New York and North Carolina show the massive potential. However, for this to mean anything, a concrete break with the Democrats and Biden is necessary all the way through the general election and beyond. Without that, Biden can safely ignore the Uncommitted trend. The best way to do that right now is to begin with a campaign for the strongest possible vote for the most prominent of the independent pro-worker, anti-war presidential candidates Cornel West or Jill Stein. This needs to be part of a project to build an independent working class mass left party based on our movements in the workplaces, campuses, and neighborhoods

While an electoral arm of the antiwar movement is vital, what would be even more decisive is well coordinated and escalating disruptive action by the organized working class. Unions in the US need to follow the example of organized labor in Italy, Spain, India, and the UK just to name a few. Middle East Monitor reports that “Workers and trade unionists in the UK shut down major arms factories producing parts for F-35 fighter jets which Israel is using in its bombing campaign in Gaza.” 

Workers in the manufacturing and logistics sector in the US (the country sending the lion’s share of weapons to Israel) actually have the most decisive potential power of all to cut off the flow of weapons with strike action and blockades. It’s very positive that some 275 labor bodies, including locals and regional bodies all across the country have passed various forms of ceasefire resolutions, even forcing the AFL-CIO itself to come out with such a resolution, weak though it might be. 

Unfortunately all of these resolutions, even as just statements, are undermined by the fact that most unions have endorsed and will campaign for Biden’s reelection. For real international workers solidarity, for the sake of all the betrayals at the hands of Democratic Party politicians, and to bolster all the organizing efforts on the ground, it is well past time for the whole labor movement to declare its independence from the Democratic Party. A break with both the Democrats and Republicans to build an anti-war pro-worker party is an urgent task for the labor movement. 

Mobilizing the Power Of Organized Labor

More than half of unionized workers in the US are in labor organizations that have called for a permanent ceasefire. The most dedicated anti war workers in these unions will need to push their organizations towards much more decisive action with a material impact on the war, as some already no doubt are trying to. This can start with organizing labor contingents at broader anti war protests, calling its own protests and escalating towards strike action and blockades in coordination with workers at relevant production and logistics sites. 

Every bomb, bullet, fighter jet and all manner of weaponry sent from US shores or purchased by US funds and headed to Israel also amounts to grand larceny against the American working class, especially the most marginalized. Those funds could go to fund healthcare, education, public sector green jobs, and other vital services.

For example, labor can expose US corporations’ uncritical support for Israel’s savaging of Gaza as a way of building opposition to these actions and to win gains for workers. It was the Starbucks Workers United’s exposing Starbucks pro-Israel positions that was crucial in forcing Starbucks to the bargaining table. Mass boycott of Starbucks in the Arab world was a major blow to Starbucks’ profits. 

At the height of the George Floyd protests, Socialist Alternative members in ATU 1005 and NALC Branch 9 (both in Minneapolis) refused to use city buses to transport protestors to jail, and organized solidarity protests outside a burned-out post office as powerful examples of how labor can directly support movements.

By mobilizing their members into a coordinated campaign of action, they can provide massive extra resources to the struggle against Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza. This should include public statements, including encouraging union members to flood social media with interviews. This should also mean taking opposition into working class communities and into the streets.

Most powerful would be publicly setting in motion a series of escalating actions to end Biden’s policies. This should include nationally coordinated marches, escalating into a ramped-up series of expanding strikes. Ultimately, to really raise the stakes for the ruling class would require 24-hour broad strikes by union members as well as coordinated strikes at ports, transportation and industrial plants involved in production, and shipment of arms to Israel.

Labor needs to link up with existing protests being planned in cities across the county. The anti war movement needs to take the struggle out to the wider working class. To do that it needs to bring forward demands that will attract the wider public. This should include linking the war with the Biden administration’s massive waste of resources on war spending, its ending of post-Covid benefits, its economic policies that have ramped up inflation and its failure to protect workers from the massive spike in housing and health care costs. It also needs to take a broader anti-imperialist, internationalist stance opposing both sides in the New Cold War but particularly “our side”, decaying US imperialism.

We Need A New Party

Labor can’t build a serious movement against Biden’s military and economic support for Israel’s massacres in Gaza while also supporting Biden’s re-election. They need to publicly end their support for Biden and both political parties and publicly announce their intention to build a new political party representing the interests of working people and all the oppressed.

The labor movement in the US should also put its weight behind the growing international movement of labor. A coordinated struggle by the working class on an international level is the most effective way of ending the slaughter in Gaza and preventing Israel invading Rafah.

The threatened full-scale invasion of Rafah means there is no time to lose in pushing organized labor into action. We must organize against war and exploitation in the present day but as long as the capitalist ruling class is at the helm of the global economy and governments, we will not know peace. All our movements on immediate issues must be connected to building an almighty struggle to overthrow capitalism and replace it with revolutionary democratic socialism. Only then can we have a world free of war, exploitation and oppression.  

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