“[Gazans] have a right to protest against their appalling conditions and the continuing blockade and occupation of Palestinian land, and in support of their right to return to their homes and their right to self-determination.” – British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn
LONDON — Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing leader of the British Labour Party, has shown that his long-time support of the rights of the Palestinian people remains unwavering, especially given the stream of reports of atrocities committed by apartheid Israel against the dispossessed people of Palestine residing on the Gaza Strip.
At least 31 unarmed Palestinian protesters have been killed by Israeli occupation troops and around 2,850 have been injured since Palestinian Land Day on March 30, when thousands of Gaza residents began holding peaceful protests at the eastern border of the isolated and besieged coastal strip of land.
The protests are part of a six-week-long string of nonviolent actions to bring attention to the continuing plight of the indigenous Arab population of Palestinians and the theft of their ancestral land by the country now known as Israel.
The protests will continue until May 15, the 70th anniversary of the 1948 founding of Israel, known to Palestinians as the Nakba or “Catastrophe,” when Israeli right-wing gangs and armed militia displaced around 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and villages in the first expansionist wave that gave birth to the settler-colonial State of Israel.
Jeremy Corbyn himself has a proud record of supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people, having personally visited the occupied land nine times while also making multiple visits to some of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria.
- Jeremy Corbyn, Antisemitism and Freedom for Humanity
- Can Jeremy Corbyn Fulfill His Promises On Palestine?
- Jeremy Corbyn Slams UK Leadership For Constantly Following US Into Wars
The opposition leader has also demanded the lifting of the blockade on Gaza, where nearly 2 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants are packed into a tiny and arid parcel of land that measures only 32 miles long by less than seven miles wide.
Corbyn has called for an end to the abuse of Palestinian civilians by occupation forces throughout historic Palestine – both within the occupied West Bank and within apartheid Israel – and the holding of Israeli politicians accountable for their war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other blatant abuses of international human rights.
The unrestrained and disproportionate use of deadly forces against the residents of Gaza has provoked a global outcry and protests across the globe, including in London, long a hotbed of solidarity activities in support of the people of Palestine, where the opposition leader strongly condemned the “illegal and inhumane” actions against peaceful protesters by Israeli security forces while slamming the “silence from international powers.”
British solidarity with the suffering people of Gaza
Across Britain over the weekend, thousands took to the streets in solidarity with the people of Palestine, occupying branches of Israeli-arms-financier HSBC Bank in Manchester.
Meanwhile, in London, protesters demanded that Downing Street take a stand to halt the killings and ensure the basic human rights of the Palestinians of Gaza, who have faced over a decade of crippling wars and a suffocating blockade by Tel Aviv and its de facto ally, Cairo.
— PSC (@PSCupdates) April 7, 2018
In a message read outside of Prime Minister Theresa May’s office, Corbyn detailed the systemic violation of the rights of Gaza’s Palestinians, which are assured by international law, explaining:
The majority of the people of the Gaza Strip are stateless refugees, subject to a decade-long blockade and the denial of basic human and political rights. More than two thirds are reliant on humanitarian assistance, with limited access to the most basic amenities, such as water and electricity.
They have a right to protest against their appalling conditions and the continuing blockade and occupation of Palestinian land, and in support of their right to return to their homes and their right to self-determination.”
Corbyn also urged Whitehall to back UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ demand for an independent investigation into the incident, which Tel Aviv has roundly rejected.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hasn’t made a comment regarding the massacres since they first shocked the world on March 30. His deputy Alistair But, however, has noted how he personally was “appalled by the deaths and injuries.”
In a comment that cynically seeks to project sympathy for the victims while casting blame on those who are resisting Israel’s heavy-handed and wholly illegal practices – even by peaceful means – Burt added that an urgent need exists to surmise “why such a volume of live fire was used and what role Hamas played in the violence.”
Corbyn slandered as anti-Jewish
The fact that the Labour leader issued a statement at all would have be unremarkable, were it not for the withering barrage of personal allegations of “anti-Semitism” that has been directed at Corbyn in recent weeks by the right-wing and centrist press — despite his attempts to unequivocally denounce any semblance of anti-Jewish sentiment or what he called “pockets of anti-Semitism” within the Labour movement.
Last month, the chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), Jonathan Goldstein, went so far as to appear on Sky News and claim:
… Jeremy Corbyn is now the figurehead of an anti-Semitic political culture based upon obsessive hatred of Israel, conspiracy theories and fake news. That is doing great harm, not just to the Labour Party but to Britain in a wider sense.”
Jewish Voice for Labour, a newly-formed and quite vocal group of Jews within the party, has defended Corbyn from the accusations, noting that his accusers are silent about “the global rise of the far right and the toxic anti-immigrant rhetoric of the tabloid press, despite the imperative from Jewish history to speak out against racism and fascism.”
Corbyn’s actual record
In a recent interview with The Times of Israel, Corbyn reiterated his far-from-radical proposal for resolving the suffering of the Palestinians — noting that it must consist of an end to the policy of seemingly endless settlement activity and the expropriation of West Bank land, along with an “effective two-state solution.” In a 2015 interview, Corbyn also said that Palestinians of the diaspora, now scattered in refugee camps, “deserve their rights too; they deserve their right to return home.”
Yet it is Corbyn’s recognition of the Palestinian people as human beings deserving internationally-recognized human rights that makes him an enemy even for the “center-left” of the pro-Israeli-settler colonial political spectrum, thus making his statement condemning the recent massacres of Gaza’s residents an unpardonable sin.
This was most clearly illustrated by a letter issued this week by Avi Gabbay, the chair of the Israeli Labor Party, in which Corbyn was censured for his “very public hatred of the policies of the government of the state of Israel, many of which regard the security of our citizens and actions of our soldiers – policies where the opposition and coalition in Israel are aligned.”
Given the bloody footage emanating from Palestine in recent weeks, let alone recent years, one wonders whose credibility is truly at stake – that of Corbyn, or that of Tel Aviv? Judging by the desperate tone and even more desperate actions of the latter, it would seem that the Israelis are the ones who are finding it hard to justify their words, their deeds, and their overall legitimacy in the court of global public opinion.
Top Photo | Jeremy Corbyn addressing the Support for Gaza rally, 19th June 2014. (Photo: David Hardman/Flickr)
Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.