Workers all over the world are looking on in horror as the Israeli state begins a campaign of collective punishment for the Palestinians trapped in Gaza.
Having been caught off-guard by the coordinated nature of Hamas’ attacks, the Zionist Israeli ruling class are now exacting a brutal revenge.
Seeing this bombardment and killing of civilians, many in Britain will be asking themselves the question: what can we do to help?
First of all, we must recognise that our strength lies in our collective organisation and mobilisation, especially in trade unions.
If you’re in a trade union, you should therefore try to get your branch to pass our model motion: declaring unequivocal solidarity with the Palestinian people; condemning the attacks by the Israeli state; and denouncing the complicity of British imperialism.
This motion points to the real cause of the conflict: not who shot first, but who the oppressor is, and who aids them in their oppression.
But more than just condemning the imperialists, the motion calls for action. We need to understand our true power: our ability to mobilise and demonstrate; and, most crucially of all, to withdraw our labour.
This doesn’t mean taking action on an individual basis – not turning up to work on Monday morning; refusing to buy this or that product – but collectively.
The power of the working class does not come from our decisions as consumers, but from our role as producers. We are not customers, but workers.
Whether through trade unions or otherwise, collective action by the organised working class – particularly in the industries that the capitalists rely on to keep their war machine going – can have a direct impact.
Such militant mass action can hit at the imperialists directly by stopping production. The Israel Defence Forces can’t drop bombs they don’t have!
In this way, workers can realise the full potential of the strength that they hold in society. Even one workplace taking action can have an enormous impact on events, and inspire other workers to follow suit.
Lessons from history
After learning that the jet engines they were repairing belonged to the Chilean junta, they refused to touch these vital aircraft components.
This workers’ boycott went on for so long that the engines themselves rusted – rendering them impotent, and preventing their use in the murder Chilean workers thousands of miles away.
Similarly, dock workers organised by the CGiL union in Genoa, Italy, went on strike in 2019 to prevent a Saudi-owned ship from loading its cargo of weapons, destined for use in the reactionary regime’s war on Yemen.
Just last year, Greek rail workers also attempted to prevent tanks from being transported to Ukraine for use in the conflict there.
There is also a precedent in relation to workers’ action to stop arms heading to Israel: most notably of all, that of the South African port workers’ union SATAWU, who refused to unload an Israeli ship during the height of the state’s bombardment of Gaza in 2021.
In light of the latest aggression from the Israeli state, these inspiring examples provide vital lessons about how workers can and should fight the oppression of Palestinians today – by using their role in production and distribution to halt the imperialist warmongers in their tracks.
Enemy at home
Such a movement must also take aim at ‘our own’ ruling class. Netanyahu’s regime is able to act with impunity because US and British imperialism see a strong Israel as vital to their interests in the Middle East.
To fight such a force, we therefore need to think bigger. A campaign of workers’ action against the production and transport of arms is just the start.
Overthrowing our imperialist governments, the enemy at home, as well as the capitalist system they represent and defend, is ultimately what will prevent Israeli aggression and stop war for good.
We cannot rely on bourgeois diplomacy and international organisations like the ‘United’ Nations – and other such tools of imperialism – to bring about genuine peace. The only true friends that the Palestinian masses have are the workers of the world.
By smashing their own imperialist states, workers in the West can provide genuine class solidarity to the Palestinian cause. That is how we can help win freedom, at long last, for the oppressed millions in the Middle East and beyond.
Beyond just halting the production and distribution of weapons, workers in the arms sector should also fight for ownership and control over the industry.
In this way, taking inspiration from the Lucas Plan of the 1970s, factories and machinery could be repurposed away from arms and towards socially-useful products, such as green technologies and healthcare equipment.
On this basis, as part of a socialist plan of production, society’s resources and workers’ skills could be utilised to benefit people and the planet, rather than the profits of the private arms manufacturers.
The role of communists in the trade unions is to draw all these threads together; to raise consciousness, and provide workers with confidence and a sense of their own power; and to be the most determined class fighters and internationalists.
If you want to get organised as a communist in the labour movement, join us today.
Model motion: No to occupation! No to imperialism! Solidarity with Palestinian workers and youth!
This trade union branch / trades council / student union notes:
- A new conflict has flared up between Israel and the Palestinian people.
- Thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed by the Israeli security forces in recent years, such as during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in 2008-09 and ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in 2014. Before the events on 7 October, 200 Palestinians have been killed this year alone.
- Israel is actively supported by western governments, with billions in British military equipment being used by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). The United States subsidises Israel’s military to the tune of 3.6 billion dollars per year.
This trade union branch / trades council / student union believes:
- This latest conflict is a direct consequence of decades of violent oppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state, with the support of western imperialism, beginning with the ethnic cleansing of the Nakba in 1948.
- Recently, this oppression has been intensified by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, which is the most reactionary in Israel’s history.
- Imperialist diplomacy – such as the Oslo accords – has failed. Only a mass uprising on both sides of the green line and across the Middle East can free the Palestinian people, end the occupation, and ensure equal rights for all peoples.
- It is the duty of the international movement of workers and youth to support this struggle.
This trade union branch / trades council / student union resolves:
- To declare its solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people against occupation and for national self-determination.
- To call on its members to mobilise and campaign – through mass direct action – against companies, banks, and institutions that aid the manufacture and delivery of arms to Israel.
- To condemn the British government’s support for the Israeli state and the distortions of the mainstream media in Britain in its coverage of this conflict.
- To organise and support local rallies in solidarity with Palestine.
- To submit this motion to the national Trade Union Congress / the national union leadership / the National Union of Students [delete/edit as appropriate] and call on it to publicly support the Palestinian struggle and oppose British imperialism’s role in the oppression of the Palestinian people.
For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East! Intifada until victory!