In response to the ongoing, numerous murderous assaults by the Israeli state on the people of Palestine, the Palestinian labour movement has called for a general strike, tomorrow, 18th May.
The crimes committed by Israel have been continuous for the last 73 years. They include the colonisation of land, displacement and expulsion of its palestinian inhabitants, the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the military blockade on Gaza, and the denial of equal rights to Palestinian inhabitants of Israel. This has created a system of apartheid for Palestinians.
In recent weeks, Israel’s violence has intensified. In Jerusalem, the people of Sheikh Jarrah are facing expulsion, being forced out of their homes to be replaced by settlers. During the holy month of Ramadan, worshippers were attacked by Israeli police and the Al Aqsa mosque was repeatedly occupied. In Gaza, Palestinians are once again being targeted by murderous aerial bombardments, which have targeted residential buildings, refugee camps, and vital access roads to hospitals – among others. The death count has surpassed 200 and continues to grow daily.
Inside the Green Line, the formal separation between Israel and occupied Palestine, Palestinians have been targeted by pogroms carried out by violent street gangs, under the approving and passive eye of police officers. In the West Bank and on the Jordanian and Lebanese borders, Palestinian protestors have been shot wounded and killed.
The whole Palestinian people are fighting back, and they are calling on our solidarity. The announcement for a general strike also includes a demand for solidarity from the international workers’ movement. After the massive demonstrations all across Britain this weekend, including the huge demonstration in London of an estimated 150,000 people, it is time to take the struggle from the street to the workplace.
It is by rooting the struggle for the liberation of Palestine in workplaces everywhere that we can start making lasting change. What is happening in Palestine is materially supported by the British Government and British companies. By taking action, we can force them to break their links with Israeli Apartheid. This is crucial as the British government continues to arm Israel and maintains special diplomatic, political and economic relations with it, despite its numerous and repeated crimes against the Palestinian people.
Dockers in Italy showed the way by refusing to handle shipments en route to Israel. The same can be achieved here. In docks and supermarkets, bin collection and manufacturing plants, workers in the UK are asked to handle goods which come from, or are destined to, Israel. Even in our trade unions, relations are maintained with the Histadrut, Israel’s main trade union federation, which continues to support and normalise Israel’s military actions against Palestinians, as well as their oppression and exploitation.
While long term Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns are necessary, tomorrow is an important opportunity to mark our solidarity with the Palestinian people by calling on our government and our employers to stop normalising, profiting from, and participating in the colonial violence of Israel.
What can be done?
The following actions are suggestions, which can be put in place, together or separately, by workers in Britain:
- Join demonstrations being called in support of the people of Palestine.
- Post pictures on social media of you and your colleagues holding up signs, individually or collectively, that read: “Solidarity with the Palestinian General Strike. Free Palestine”, and includes the hashtags #GazaUnderAttack #SaveSheikhJarrah #PalestineOnStrike to make sure workers in Palestine see your action and receive your solidarity.
- Pass emergency motions of support in your union branch, expressing solidarity with the people of Palestine, their general strike, as well as the demands of the BDS movement.
- Investigate and/or demand to know whether your employer or pension fund is complicit with Israeli crimes. You can find information on how to do so here: https://www.whoprofits.org/.
- Demand that your employer pledge to cut all ties with companies and institutions that profit from, or participate in, the violation of Palestinian rights. If they have no such links demand that they pledge to maintain this state of affairs.
- Hold a lunch time rally in front of your workplace, expressing solidarity with the people of Palestine.
- Lunch time rallies can take collective solidarity pictures (see bove) and vote on emergency solidarity motions. Again, please post these online and include the hashtags #GazaUnderAttack #SaveSheikhJarrah #PalestineOnStrike to make sure activists in Palestine see your action.
- Where possible, refuse work or walk out with your workmates and strike in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Italian dockers show the way!
Whatever you can do, however small or big, is an important contribution to supporting the struggle of Palestinian people for liberation and return.