Anyone who has witnessed the events that have unfolded during the last few weeks in Israel/Palestine will breathe a sigh of relief if this latest ceasefire signals a lasting end to the bloodshed.
As I write this column, it seems as though a ceasefire has been agreed between the Israeli government under Netanyahu, and the coalition government in the Gaza Strip.
The killing of vast numbers of people, mostly innocent civilians in Gaza, has sent shock-waves across the world. Our television sets and social media newsfeeds have featured continuous updates with accounts of the brutality of the war.
This has been a war like no other in recent years. On one side, the right-wing Israeli government, all-powerful with its high-tech weaponry, backed to the hilt financially and militarily by the the United States government and its imperialist agenda, whilst a third of ordinary Israelis live in poverty. Gone are the days of the ‘hope’ that Obama’s Democrat administration may bring peace to the poor masses in the Middle East.
On the other side, 1.8 million people, inhabitants of the Gaza Strip who occupy a small patch of land, blockaded from being able to access the basic necessities of life on three sides by the Israeli regime, and a vicious Egyptian military dictatorship on the other.
The outcome of this war has appalled millions. As someone who has recently become a parent, the scenes of carnage that have cost the lives of children younger than my own have shocked me to the core. Palestinian children have been the real victims of this conflict.
What provides some inspiration in all of this has been the magnificent wave of solidarity that has swept across the world to call for a halt to the slaughter.
People have taken to the streets in huge protests, not only to demand a cessation of hostilities, but also for the lifting of the siege, for an end to the arms sales signed off by our own right-wing governments to the vicious Israeli regime, and for the right of the Palestinian masses to determine their own futures.
Perhaps the source of most inspiration has been the wave of protests organised on both sides of the borders by ordinary Israelis and Palestinians. Slogans such as “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” and “money for jobs and education not war and occupation” can forge unity between workers across the divide.
Whatever the outcome of the current ceasefire, and we have seen enough false starts in recent weeks, one thing is clear: a lasting peace will not be achieved without a transformation of the status quo.
Oppressed peoples like the Palestinians must have the right to determine their own future. Israeli workers also have the right to live in peace and security. But can this be achieved without a fundamental change in the system?
The Middle East is the cradle of civilisation. For decades it has been riven by conflict caused by the arbitrary and short-term interests of US, and previously British and French, imperialism.
But it is also a region with huge resources that could bring prosperity to the masses if planned to meet the needs of the millions, not the millionaires. That vision is possible, but not inevitable.
Workers must build their own organisations, independent trade unions, and political parties that will commit to fight for the transformation of society in the interests of working-class people.
My brothers and sisters in Ma’avak Sozialisti, affiliates of the Committee for a Workers International, organise Jews and Arabs together to struggle for a democratic socialist future in Israel/Palestine. They provide a source of hope in such bleak times.
Anti-war campaigners in Lincoln have called a further protest for this Saturday to demand an end to the carnage in Gaza. The demonstration will be the second in as many weekends in the city. The protest will assemble from 12noon on Saturday 2nd August at Speakers Corner, on the corner of the High Street and the Cornhill.