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Building internationalism and solidarity

Why trade unionists should build the movement for peace in Palestine and Ukraine, posits JOE WILSON

AS trade unionists, we stand at a critical juncture. The conflicts in Palestine and Ukraine are not just distant tragedies; they are ongoing catastrophes in which Britain is complicit.

Our duty is to build a labour movement that wins in the workplace, but also one which promotes peace and challenges the systems that perpetuate these wars.

British trade unionists need to mobilise for peace in places such as Palestine and Ukraine, by highlighting the roles of the US, Nato and British arms industries in fuelling these and other conflicts.

The crisis in Palestine

The plight of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation is one of the most enduring injustices of our time. The illegal occupation of Palestinian territories continues with the expansion of settlements and the brutal blockade of Gaza.

This conflict has deep ties to Britain. From the 1920s, Britain encouraged the zionist occupation of Palestine, beginning with the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

This declaration, made by British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour, supported establishing a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then under British mandate. Before settling on Palestine, there was even consideration of establishing a Jewish state in Africa, highlighting the colonial nature of the project.

Fast forward 100 years, and while Britain’s empire has collapsed, Israel now receives substantial military aid from the US, amounting to approximately £3 billion annually.

Britain still plays a significant role in sustaining the conflict through arms exports, including components for military aircraft, drones, and missiles used in assaults on Gaza.

The conflict in Ukraine

Turning to Ukraine, we see another arena where imperialist ambitions have wrought havoc. A major cause of the Ukrainian conflict lies in Nato’s aggressive eastward expansion, which has heightened tensions with Russia. Founded in 1949 to counter the USSR, Nato continues to help US dominate globally.

Nato’s expansion eastward has been a strategic move to encircle Russia with pro-Western allies, reinforcing US military presence and influence.

For the US, supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia serves to weaken its geopolitical rival.

The war in Ukraine has caused relentless violence, displacing millions and causing untold suffering. While we must condemn Vladimir Putin’s invasion, it’s crucial to recognise the US’s role in blocking real negotiations.

Ukraine’s president, former TV comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, has expressed strong solidarity with Israel, applauding its “right to defend itself.” This alignment underscores the interconnected nature of these conflicts and the broader geopolitical strategies at play.

The role of trade unionists

As trade unionists, our mission transcends workplace rights and wages. We should always campaign for social justice, peace and international solidarity.

It is both morally right and imperative for our own that the liberation of Ireland was essential not only for Irish freedom but also for the broader revolutionary movement, arguing that the oppression of Ireland was used by the British ruling class to divide and weaken the working class in England.

We can see how countries in the Middle East are undermined by the pivotal role Israel plays. As a reliable ally, Israel serves as a key outpost for US interests in a region often marked by instability and conflict.

The US and Nato’s provocations in eastern Europe and their sustained support for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands reflect broader strategies of dominance.

While perpetuating cycles of violence and instability abroad, these policies also divert resources away from critical social needs at home. If we as workers want a world run by and for our class, we must do whatever is necessary to end these conflicts.

Building the movement for peace

To build a powerful movement for peace, trade unionists should take concrete steps. We should raise awareness among union members about the realities of the conflicts in both Palestine and Ukraine and understand the roles of the US, Nato and British arms industries in perpetuating these wars.

Many are hoodwinked by the imperialist hegemony around Ukraine, and we should educate people about the reality.

We should join campaigns calling for an end to arms sales to Israel and Ukraine, and pressure our government to reallocate military spending towards social services and peaceful initiatives.

Finally, we must organise solidarity actions for peace. Britain has sold arms worth over £400 million to Israel in recent years and has been a key supplier of military aid to Ukraine. These arms deals not only fuel conflicts but also enrich the elites who exploit workers both at home and abroad.

Conclusion

The conflicts in Palestine and Ukraine are stark reminders of the devastating impact of imperialism, militarism and the global arms trade.

As trade unionists, we have a moral obligation to stand against these injustices, building a movement for peace grounded in solidarity and justice.

By educating our members, advocating for policy changes and organising direct action outside of our unions, we can help end these wars and create a more just and peaceful world.

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