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The slaughter in Gaza tells us that we need to move the tasks of solidarity unto a new plane. We cannot allow the eventual end of the slaughter to mean a return to the status quo. 

We have an opportunity to build something new from the wave of support among workers and young people.    However to do so we must frankly accept that, despite the dedication and hard work of the activists, the current movement is neither organizationally nor politically prepared for the irreconcilable struggle against Israel and its imperialist backers that we must now fight.

Examples of the problems we faced emerged early. In   Belfast the IPSC, as it has in the past, handed control of the first Belfast demonstration to the Trade Unions. ICTU, as it has in the past, set out to avoid any confrontation with Loyalism. In a shameful statement it "Even-handedly" condemned Israel and Hamas in equal terms and stressed the non-political and humanitarian nature of the protest. The rally was organized late in the afternoon in order to avoid any confrontation with loyalist demonstrators

However ICTU neglected to mobilize any substantial  number of supporters and their policy of placating loyalism failed utterly when the loyalists stayed on to heckle the demonstration and offer their support for the Israeli slaughter. The young supporters of Palestine who made up the majority of the demonstrators were having none of this and quickly forced the loyalists to retreat.

What happened next illustrated the political weakness of the solidarity coalition. Speakers from the Trade unions, the Communist party and the Socialist Party condemned the demonstrators as sectarian. There should be no confrontation with Loyalists. They should be allowed to scream their support for the massacre of Palestinians. There were no political parallels between Palestine and Ireland.

Clearly the loyalists don't agree. The Israeli flags that have been hoisted in loyalist areas in the past weeks     indicate full-blooded support for the Gaza massacre and a belief that the policy of massacre should  be  deployed in Ireland. Any large solidarity mobilization would have to politically confront these reactionaries.

The next demonstration, a picket of the BBC, was  organised by the IPSC without a significant trade union presence. The turnout was large but, despite Socialist Democracy members approaching the platform and urging the organizers to put forward meetings, activities and contacts to keep the mobilization going, the rally ended without any practical or political way forward being mapped out.

It was against this background that the SWP front "People before Profit" stepped forward to continue the mobilization with a sizeable march to the U.S. Embassy and a  further picket of the BBC.  It is right that initiatives are taken to keep the mobilization going, but we must also see that the fragmentation of protest by different groups will weaken solidarity in the long term, with Sinn Fein, trade union branches, local areas and socialist groups all acting independently. 

In Dublin support has traditionally come from an alliance of Trade Unions and NGOs. This support is constrained by their support for social partnership and for the European Union. The outcome is humanitarian action, with the IPSC banning political banners and flags at their Dublin marches. This reduces the ability of the demonstrations to represent the wide range of support for Gaza and the discussions and alliances to build mass solidarity.

Dublin slogans included calls on the Irish government to lobby in Europe for Israel to be expelled from the Euromed trading organization, where it receives special treatment, and for the Israeli ambassador to be expelled from Ireland. The context of a society utterly subordinate to imperialism, where no-one has tried to build effective opposition to EU rule in Ireland, let alone change its  policy on Israel, and of a government so subordinate it dare not even support calls for the investigation of  atrocity.

The main tactic of the solidarity movement is to call for a boycott of Israeli goods. This tends to focus on individual and area action. No-one seems to question the lack of trade union action in preventing the movement of goods or to address the clear collaboration of the Irish government. 

Above all there is no clear political agreement outlining the road to peace for Palestine. It should be evident that the siege of Gaza shows that no two state solution is possible. Solidarity means bringing down the colonial settler state.

Today we are living in new times. The Israelis are going for broke and carrying through a programme of genocide. They are aided by an Arab counter-revolution which means many of the Arab regimes are their allies. The major   imperialist powers and their supporters are giving Israel carte blanche.

We need a renewed solidarity movement, a new policy, to stand against the imperialist powers and their policy of genocide.  


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