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Editorial: The pro-Palestine movement presents a turning point for politics in Britain

ANOTHER group of Labour councillors have left the party in revulsion at the failure of the Keir Starmer leadership to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

It is difficult to understand the mindset of Labour politicians who refuse to join the vast bulk of British people who want the killing to stop. It is even more difficult to comprehend the moral universe of those Israeli political and military leaders whose words and deeds deal a fatal blow to whatever moral standing the state of Israel once had.

For half a century and more, the Israeli military, intelligence and political leadership — not only the right-wing bloc but the various forces of the opposition now in a “unity” government with the extreme right wing — have engaged in an open conspiracy to undermine a two-state solution to the conflict.

Increasingly, Israeli leaders give voice and effect to the implicit but usually unstated strategy to drive Palestinians — Christians and Muslims alike — from their ancestral lands.

The “good book” has it that the Israelites were guided in their journey from Egypt to the Holy Land by a pillar of cloud which showed the way during the day and by a pillar of fire at night.

Now, in a frankly satanic reversion of legend, a minister in the Israeli government speculates that dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza, turning it into a pillar of fire and cloud, would obviate the necessity — implicit in Israel's bombing strategy — to drive the Palestinians living in Gaza into Egypt.

Israel’s conduct in this war and the support our politicians give to it will cause humanity to exact a just and timely punishment.

There can be no peace and security for Israelis without the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state.

For Labour and its leader, every delay to a clear call for a ceasefire and negotiations means a more precipitate collapse in the number of people prepared to tolerate such a party led by such a man.

The mass movement in solidarity with the Palestinians is essentially a direct expression of the overwhelming movement for a ceasefire that is increasingly turning its attention to the political problem represented by the failure of Labour MPs to give effect to the opinion of their constituents.

Labour should take note of the nature of this movement which is organised by an alliance of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of al-Aqsa, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

But this is no routine assembly of a virtuous left treading wearily through the streets but a vastly creative movement of citizens whose political impact and dramatic style are both highly organised and spontaneous. It will not be bound by the political convention that confines protest to the margins.

This movement challenges the very basis of the Establishment consensus on foreign policy. The longer Labour politicians give more heed to Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak and Starmer than to their constituents, the greater will be the price they pay.

Traditionally, Britain’s vastly corrupt and undemocratic electoral system forces the great majority of working people to opt for the party that is most distinct from the ruling class.

The sense that Labour inherits that title has already been undermined by Starmer’s abandonment of every progressive policy commitment on the economy and domestic policy.

Now, on an issue that touches the deepest wells of human sympathy and solidarity, millions of British people desire an end to the fighting that their elected representatives in their majority obstruct.

This is both an end to the old kind of politics and the beginning of a new.


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