Fighting for a free Palestine: Why we need to keep marching

A question in the minds of many people is: how many Palestinians is Israel going to be allowed to kill before so-called liberal democracies in the West force Israel to stop its genocidal attacks on the people in the Gaza Strip?

The scale of the destruction of Gaza, on full display on social media, is nothing short of horrifying. By November 4, the number of Palestinians killed and displaced by Israel matched the total number of Rohingya killed and displaced in the genocide of 2016-2017.

As we know, this war did not start on October 7. It is the outcome of a colonial occupation by a settler state and is rooted in denying Palestinian’s their right to self-determination.

The Zionist plan, with Western backing, to establish a Jewish-only state is driving the 75-year-old war of occupation.

For six weeks, Western leaders, including the United States, Australia and Britain, who purport to support the “rule of law” have been repeating that “Israel has a right to defend itself” and smearing any criticism as “antisemitism”.

But that is not washing with most. Around the world, the streets are demanding an immediate ceasefire because millions of people can see that Israel’s war on Gaza is fundamentally inhumane and constitutes an act of genocide.

Their “rules-based” international order is fast losing what moral or political legitimacy it may have had before.

Every war the West wages or supports is justified as defending liberal democratic values. But these same Western “liberal democracies” are quick to roll out illiberal and undemocratic measures against people who oppose these wars.

They are attempting to repress pro-Palestine demonstrators by smearing them as “terrorist supporters” or even attempting to ban protests altogether.

In Australia, efforts to lift the secrecy surrounding complicity with Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza through intelligence feeds from the Pine Gap spy base and military exports are being strenuously deflected and even blocked with new laws.

As long as the United States provides Israel with more than $3.8 billion in military aid a year and refuses to call for a ceasefire, Israel will feel immune to pressure.

However the global mass movement is starting to have an impact, with even the French president joining the call for a ceasefire.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong made a muted criticism of Israel, saying on November 12 there needed to be “steps towards a ceasefire” but adding quickly, “It cannot be one-sided”. 

What does it say about our liberal democracy that the biggest point of difference between the two major parties is whether you are doing enough to cover for Israel’s genocide of an oppressed people?

Labor’s refusal to call for a ceasefire is part of the logic of its AUKUS military alliance with the United States and Britain.

Just as Australia backed the US-led wars of occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the AUKUS military alliance encourages the building of nuclear weapons, weapons sales and profiteering, and expansion of spyware — under the guise of “deterrence”.

Australia’s determination to become one of the top 10 arms exporters also makes it complicit with Israel’s Gaza genocide.

Capitalism, a system that protects the interests of the big corporations that dominate the world, is being unmasked by pro-capitalist political parties supporting a genocide in Gaza.

The more political leaders try to normalise Israel’s genocidal war on Palestinians, the more the movement for Palestine and, along with it, a deeper politicisation, will grow.

The driving force of Western governments’ uncritical support for Israel is their imperialist interests in the region. This was made clear by US President Joe Biden’s comment that: “The US would have to invent an Israel if it didn’t exist”.

Palestine today symbolises more than an oppressed people fighting back: it’s become a movement for justice and it is drawing in supporters of First Nations’ rights, and campaigners for ecological and social justice.

The global movement for Palestine helps oppressed peoples globally, because it represents a direct challenge to capitalism’s oppressive structures.

Socialist Alliance is demanding a ceasefire as a first step: it wants an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine; for the siege of Gaza to end; and for Palestinian’s right to self-determination to be respected.

Israeli settlements and outposts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem must be withdrawn and the apartheid wall must be dismantled.

There must be equal civil and democratic rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine. Palestinian refugees must have the right of return to historic Palestine.

We are committed to building the anti-war movement for Palestine and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign initiative by Palestinian civil and rights organisations.

The streets have spoken, and they will continue to speak out against genocide. As Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton told the enormous ceasefire rally in Naarm on November 12, we urgently need it to continue to grow if we’re to get an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

[Jacob Andrewartha is a national co-convener of Socialist Alliance.]