On 30 January, the Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi celebrated her 17th birthday inside an Israeli cell. Her crime, the slapping of an Israeli soldier who had shot her brother in the head with a rubber bullet barely an hour ago. The story quickly gained traction across the Palestinian community and the international sphere. Symbolising not only active resistance to the occupying regime but also the hundreds of Palestinian minors who are tried in military courts. Ahed’s trial has been continually delayed in order to extend the prison sentence, bail has been placed impossibly high for those from working class communities, and during her time waiting for trial assault has not been uncommon.
Ahed’s family is symbolic of many attacks on the Palestinian working class, families which have shown themselves a political threat will be targeted ruthlessly by the police. The main worker in the family is targeted and the bail pushed far higher than any worker will be able to afford. The family is forced into a life of the cruellest poverty or to cease campaigning against the Israeli State. When this is not enough, they use child prisoners. Parents are compelled to pay thousands for their child not to rot in jail. This is the case of Faisal al Juneidi whose family was forced to pay £9000 for his release.
In response to these crimes students and staff at Warwick organised a demonstration showing their solidarity with Ahed. The demonstration was called by Warwick Friends of Palestine and Warwick for Justice in Palestine. With 40 in attendance, support was wide ranging from staff, students and local activists and workers from Coventry.
The demonstration involved holding posters, Palestinian flags and writing birthday messages of solidarity to Ahed over the internet whilst information on the atrocities committed was circulated. Many of those at the protest were motivated by moral outrage at the crimes committed. All agreed that the situation where minors were tried by military courts, itself symptomatic of Israel’s oppression of Palestine, could not go on.
However, opinion varied on what were the key tasks of the movement, from raising awareness, to need to create free debate to discuss the question of Palestine, which is being shut down by Prevent on the reformist side of the debate. To the far more radical conclusions of a revolutionary Palestinian leadership, and the challenging of western imperialism throughout the region. Yet, even those drawing more advanced conclusions can still be lead into despair without a clear and overarching programme concretely linking the struggle of Palestinian workers to the struggle for socialism.
We should be clear that responsibility for the oppression of the Palestinian population lies at the feet of the Israeli ruling class, capitalists, financiers and bankers. It is through their ruthless search for profit, the defence of their own imperialist interests and in their wish to divide the working class of Palestine and Israel against each other, that the Palestinian people witness their country, rights and lives crushed.
On this same basis we should have no faith in other nations and international institutions to defend the interests of the poor and oppressed. To believe that the UN, US or EU will do anything but serve the interests of their own ruling class is folly. Only an international workers’ movement from Israel, Palestine and the rest of the world can be the ultimate solution.
The key step forward for the movement is the building of international solidarity on a class basis, to free the Palestinian movement from the yoke of those who do not seriously challenge the rule of profit and the establishment and to realise that capitalism holds nothing for workers of any nationality, least of all the most oppressed.
Free Ahed Tamimi and all other minors tried in a military court!
No faith in the national or international establishment!
Build a movement for the liberation of Palestine on a class basis!
Fight for the overthrow of capitalism across the world!
by Warwick Marxist Society