Anti Capitalist Resistance (ACR) is an internationalist organisation currently being set up by revolutionary Marxists. Its internationalism is expressed in the attention it gives to struggles for self-determination and liberation around the world, with key international links already in place through participation in ACR of members of the Fourth International. That attention to self-determination, and the right of subject nations to organise themselves independently, is also expressed in the decision by ACR to organise itself in England and Wales, not in Scotland. We work with comrades north of the border to support their autonomous organisation of revolutionary Marxists in Scotland, and so to hasten the break-up of the so-called United Kingdom. We are working with revolutionaries in Wales to hasten the point where they organise themselves independently of direction from England. The break-up of the British state apparatus is part of our struggle for an alternative socialist society that respects local and regional and national self-organisation.
So, why flag up Palestine solidarity as a particularly important issue here? Well, first, of course, the British state is historically implicated in the foundation of the state of Israel, the gifting of land belonging to another people to the future Israeli state. That gives us particular responsibilities as revolutionaries. It should be noted that the Balfour declaration in 1917 which promised ‘a national home for the Jewish people’ on Palestinian land was not actually welcomed by many Jews in Britain. They suspected that this declaration was designed to increase pressure on them to leave Britain, their home, and settle somewhere else. They had been victims of racism here, among the first so-called ‘aliens’ to be targeted with immigration legislation, that is anti-immigrant legislation, and there was significant support for the foundation of Israel by antisemites. Up to the present-day many antisemites support Israel because they want Jews out of their own countries. This antisemitic support for Israel is consolidated by Christian Zionism, which is prevalent in the United States. Those Christian Zionists who expect the end days of the world to be marked by the ‘rapture’ after the Jews have been gathered in Israel, and do not give a damn about the Jews, or the Palestinians.
Palestine is one of the touchstones of solidarity with a people that suffers from institutional racism today and the traumatic collective memory of when Israel was actually founded in 1948. The ‘Nakba’ or ‘Catastrophe’ of 1948 saw many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians expelled from the land, forced to flee their homes, with many families and descendents ending up in refugee camps. The Gaza strip at the border with Egypt has effectively operated as a massive open-air camp, and when the people in Gaza kick back they are subject to air attack, with many thousands murdered over the years. Land use, building regulations, the road system, education, health care, and now the vaccination programme in Israel intensify the exclusion of Palestinians from state power by Israel. They are increasingly confined to Gaza and the West Bank, and when their representatives and allies speak out in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, they are suppressed. Often the bizarre accusation is given out by the Israeli state for local Jewish and international diplomatic state and corporate mass media audiences that their complaint is antisemitic. Their very existence is a threat, sometimes alluded to, even voiced by the right, described as an ‘existential threat’. Sometimes we are also hypocritically told that boycotting Jewish settlements in the West Bank harms local people, harms Palestinians, as if they care.
The Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment, BDS, campaign actively called for by many Palestinian organisations and actively pursued in Britain by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is indeed a threat to the Israeli state, a state that we should be clear about is an apartheid state. The largest Jewish human rights organisation inside Israel working in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, has said this explicitly. Israel is an apartheid state. To say this is such a threat that legislation has been passed in Israel prohibiting individual citizens and organisations inside the country, organisations like The Boycott Within, from voicing support for BDS. It is difficult for internationalist Jews working politically in the best traditions of solidarity with subject peoples to voice support for BDS inside the country, but they have done so, and they have been on demonstrations and they have been subject themselves to physical attack. Our solidarity as Palestine Solidarity is also with our comrades inside Israel, Palestinians and Jews working together who are under attack from this apartheid state. In fact, we face many of the same responses by the right, by supporters of Israel, when we argue for BDS as we faced when we argued for the boycott of apartheid South Africa. This is why it is also worth noting that support from inside South Africa from partisans in that historic struggle now for the rights of the Palestinian people, including from Jewish partisans who call out Israel’s false accusations of antisemitism directed at the solidarity movement, is so important.
This struggle is an international struggle, has an international dimension. We do not single out Israel because it is especially evil, but demand that it is brought to account according to international standards claimed of any other supposedly democratic state – and brought to account in that way precisely because Israel promotes itself as a civilised oasis in the midst of authoritarian and dictatorial Arab states. We hold no brief for those Arab states, but for the peoples struggling also for human rights, struggling alongside the Palestinians, and those inside Israel. It is international also because it is a touchstone for the right, with strong supporters of Israel inside the United States, and now, with the departure of Trump, a new president and vice-president who have declared that they are strong supporters of Israel. Israel is a touchstone for Bolsonaro in Brazil, Modi in India, and Orbán in Hungary, Orbán himself who is feted by Netanyahu despite engaging in antisemitic conspiracy campaigns against George Soros. And it is a weapons base, selling deadly armaments to a number of brutal regimes around the world. Again, we need to repeat, we are in solidarity with the Palestinians because we are for the right to self-determination of subject peoples, and because we are against racism of all kinds, including antisemitism. Antisemitism has no place in the Palestine Solidarity movement, and is called out by us whenever it appears.
And now, as Anti Capitalist Resistance gathers together revolutionary Marxists who have been forced out of the Labour Party, while also working with our comrades who are still inside the Labour Party, we argue for Palestine Solidarity in a context where not only the right lines up with Israel, but also the right-wing of social democracy. Keir Starmer declares that he is a Zionist, as do even some members of Momentum inside the Labour Party. The space for Palestine Solidarity there is being shut down there. We need to keep it open. We are keeping that space open for Palestine Solidarity, and joining Anti Capitalist Resistance is one expression of a political choice. This is a political choice that is, in the words of Marek Edelman, activist in Poland during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazis, words that give the tagline of the Jewish Voice for Labour group, that we are ‘with the oppressed and never with the oppressor’.
One way of being involved in these questions is by joining Anti Capitalist Resistance.