We reproduce below a speech that was given by a FW at a Palestine solidarity rally on December 23, 2023:
“A few days ago the health ministry of Gaza confirmed that more than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7. The estimate is much higher as it is unknown how many bodies remain under the rubble.
In Arabic we don’t call those killed in wars victims but “Shouhada”, martyrs. This is because they were killed as part of a cause, in this case, the cause of Palestinian liberation. By being here today, you have all reaffirmed that just like those martyrs you too belong to this cause.
Luckily, we will probably never need to pay a price as high as the Palestinians for our dedication to that same cause. But we still have a role to play and this role is not without its risks.
First, while it’s important to mark the loss, suffering, and tragedy of this genocide and call it out for what it is. We should equally highlight the hope, bravery, and even victories we have seen. Through their struggle, the Palestinians have shown us the meaning of courage and steadfastness, they have helped reveal the contradictions and cruelty of our western governments, and have revealed how our struggles are connected.
The day before yesterday the elite golani brigade was forced to retreat from Gaza after suffering heavy losses at the hand of the resistance. We should not shy away from declaring this, like any successful anti-colonial fight, a victory. We need to make it as clear as possible that “Resistance is justified, when people are occupied”.
Second, we need to continue to be critical of our governments at home. The Scottish government has voted for a ceasefire but continues to provide subsidies for the weapons factories which produce the machines killing Palestinians. The UK government is finally coming around to the idea of a ceasefire, but they have also cynically decided to send yet another warship to the region to support military action against the Yemenis, who have shown more Solidarity with the Palestinian cause than any of the other Arab leaders. Despotic and dictatorial leaders who like Israel have the unconditional support of western governments who supposedly care about human rights and democracy.
The actions of the Yemenis show us, in case there was ever any doubt, that the only thing these governments care about is securing their profits. What we should learn from this is that we should move beyond appealing to the conscience of governments through petitions and letters, instead we should make it clear that there will be a cost if they don’t listen to us, that if our voices go unheard we will act against the economic interests which they are trying so hard to protect and we will bring this country to a standstill by shutting it down.
Finally, while it is important that we come out to protest against this genocide, we should remember that the events of today are part of a 75 year history of colonisation, opression, and occupation. Our struggle needs to continue beyond our demands for a ceasefire and until all of Palestine, from the river to the sea, is decolonised with equal rights for all.
This means strapping in for the long haul and letting our solidarity extend into all facets of our lives including our workplaces. It is there where we can have the strongest and most meaningful impact when it comes to political questions. As workers we are responsible for making the world run, this means that we are also in a position to bring it to a standstill.
But we can only do this if we are organised. So in your workplaces, join the unions that already exist. Ask them about what they’re doing for Palestine. If there is no union in your workplace, there are many activists who will help you set one up and you can always start by building an informal network with other workers you trust. Audit your company, your pensions, your suppliers and customers. Find any links to the occupation and sever them. And always remember “the workers united will never be defeated”
Freedom for Palestine, freedom for all oppressed workers around the world.