The heroic Palestinian people are helping to bring about the defeat of imperialism

On Saturday 29 June 2024, the International Manifesto Group and Friends of Socialist China co-organised a webinar on the topic Changes unseen in a century – Gaza, the shifting balance of forces and the rise of multipolarity, bringing together leading analysts of global politics to explore the unfolding geopolitical consequences of Zionism’s genocidal assault on the Palestinian people.

The speakers included Seyed Mohammad Marandi (University of Tehran), Lowkey (Political campaigner and hip-hop artist), Ramzy Baroud (Editor, Palestine Chronicle), Faoud Bakr (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine), Sara Flounders (International Action Center) and Bikrum Gill (International relations expert).

Embedded below is the full video of the event, followed by the text of the remarks given by Friends of Socialist China co-editors Carlos Martinez and Keith Bennett.

Carlos Martinez: The heroic Palestinian people are in the vanguard of the struggle for a better world

Thank you very much everyone for joining this webinar today, and thanks especially to the speakers.

The speakers are all a great deal more knowledgeable than I am on the subject matter, so I’m going to keep these introductory remarks brief.

I just wanted to explain a little bit about the theme of the event; the rationale for holding it.

The title references “Changes unseen in a century”, which is an expression that’s often been used by Chinese President Xi Jinping over the course of the last five years to describe the global political shift that’s taking place.

What does “changes unseen in a century” mean? And what were the big changes that happened a century ago?

What happened a century ago, in 1917, is that a revolution took place in Russia, which was the start of humanity’s transition from the era of capitalism to the era of socialism. The October Revolution led to the formation of the Soviet Union, which contributed to the building of socialism in China, Cuba, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Nicaragua, and the people’s democracies of Eastern Europe.

It also gave an important impetus to the anti-colonial movement and national liberation struggles around the world – in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America, in the Caribbean, in the Pacific.

It was the first major breach in the imperialist world system, and it hastened the demise of colonialism. It changed the world forever.

Of course, a lot has happened in the intervening period, and not all of it good. A lot of countries won their liberation, but the Soviet Union and many other socialist countries don’t exist any more. We’ve witnessed the rise of neoliberalism and neocolonialism. We’ve lived through the supposed “end of history”.

But times are changing once again. These are the changes unseen in a century. The so-called post-war rules-based international order – that is, US hegemony – is breaking down.

The “end of history” narrative isn’t convincing any more.

Neoliberalism has run out of road.

The countries of the Global South are rising. China is stronger than it’s ever been. Iran is stronger than it’s ever been. Several countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have thrown off the neocolonial shackles and are pursuing sovereign development and explicitly aligning themselves with the forces resistance of worldwide.

Africa is recovering from the period of structural adjustment and moving towards unity and development. BRICS is becoming increasingly important – and has overtaken the G7 in population size, economic size, and global influence.

The US and its allies can no longer impose their will on the world.

They pummelled Afghanistan for 20 years and ended up handing it back to the very same forces that they claimed to be going after in the first place.

They’ve pursued regime change in Syria for 13 years, without success.

They bombed Iraq into the Stone Age. They bombed Libya into the Stone Age. They’ve enthusiastically participated in the genocidal assault on Yemen.

But can anyone reasonably say the West “won” any of those wars? At a time when Yemenis are making it extremely difficult for Western ships and aircraft carriers to traverse the Red Sea?

They’ve tried to sanction and starve Iran into submission, but Iran is still standing, and what’s more has shown that it’s capable of responding to Israeli aggression with hundreds of drones directed at Israeli military facilities.

They thought their sanctions on Russia would bring the Russian economy to its knees and that NATO would score a massive victory in Ukraine. Two years later, Russia’s economy is growing significantly faster than any G7 country, because nearly every country outside the Euro-American imperialist bloc has refused to join in with these illegal, unilateral sanctions.

They’ve tried to sanction Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, Russia, Eritrea, Korea, Syria, Belarus, and many other countries into submission, but those countries will not be bowed.

So this is the context in which the Gaza war must be situated. A context of a declining US-led empire, and a rising multipolarity, a rising Global South.

That context impacts the events in Palestine, and of course the events in Palestine in turn are impacting the overall geopolitical situation.

The events of October 7th, and the ensuring war, are changing the world. They are truly earth-shaking.

Israel is isolated as never before. Even Spain, Ireland, Norway and Slovenia have recognised Palestine as a state. Even the International Court of Justice has essentially recognised what’s going on in Gaza as a genocide, thanks to the wonderful work done by South Africa, now being joined by an increasing number of countries.

And as Israel is isolated, so are its allies, its backers, the countries that arm it and provide it with diplomatic cover. Of which the US and Britain are the principal culprits. Here in Britain, Israel’s genocide has the tacit support of both major parties – Labour leader Keir Starmer refuses to call it a genocide, saying that the evidentiary bar for genocide is very high; never mind that he accuses China and Russia of engaging in genocide, in spite of the total absence of evidence!

These countries are isolated on the world stage, as the countries of the developing world are united in their solidarity with Palestine.

And these reactionary ruling classes are increasingly isolated at home as well.

Ideological hegemony is breaking down, because people can see what’s happening in Gaza, they can see there’s a genocide, they support Palestinians’ right to self-determination and they support Palestinians’ right to fight for that self-determination – a right which is enshrined in international law.

And the discrepancy between what people understand, what they know, what they feel, and what the mainstream media and politicians are trying to feed them, is bigger than it’s ever been. It’s starting to millions of people to question the whole system of capitalism and imperialism in a way that would have seemed unimaginable not so long ago.

So the war in Gaza is uniting the forces of the Global South, and it’s increasingly bringing in the most progressive forces in the imperialist countries into that alliance as well. As Hugo Chávez put it, it’s uniting all the forces that can be united in a common struggle.

So the heroic Palestinian people are fighting for all of us. They are in the vanguard of the struggle for a better world.

They are living through unbearably difficult times, and are facing the most ruthless, the most callous, the most evil aggression. But every single person that dies will be honoured as a martyr in the struggle for a free Palestine, and indeed for a world free from imperialism, hegemonism and oppression.

Keith Bennett: The Palestinian people are helping to bring about the defeat of imperialism and its supersession by a community of shared future for humanity

On behalf of the International Manifesto Group and Friends of Socialist China, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported this webinar and in particular all our excellent speakers, most especially our friends from Palestine and Iran, who are on the frontline of one of the defining struggles of our time.

The theme of our event today refers not simply to the events in Gaza, but also to their regional and global ramifications, and the movements they have set in train, as constituting changes unseen in a century. And I want to elaborate a bit on why we consider this phrase, most often associated with Chinese President Xi Jinping, to be apposite in this context.

The struggle of the Palestinian people for national self-determination, for the right to found their own independent state, is not new. It has continued for over a century. At least since British imperialism issued the notorious Balfour Declaration on November 2nd, 1917.

And it is surely an interesting reflection on how the struggle of the Palestinian people has always paralleled the wider movement for human liberation, has always embodied the dialectic of the struggle between progress and reaction, that the working class of Petrograd, under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, seized power and, in Lenin’s words, began the construction of the socialist order, just four days later.

There had been many attempts to extinguish the Palestinian dream of a state of their own, but perhaps imperialism, and its allied Zionist state, have never felt so triumphalist as in the period immediately preceding the launch of the Al Aqsa Storm on October 7, 2023.

In 2020, US imperialism had unveiled the Abraham Accords, in many respects a tawdry commercial deal cloaked in a thin veil of faux religiosity, but which had as its goal the securing on the part of the reactionary Arab regimes of a final betrayal of the Palestinian cause, without securing so much as a glimmer of even a two-state solution.

The first to establish diplomatic relations with Israel under this framework was the United Arab Emirates (UAE), closely followed by Bahrain. These were the first Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel since Jordan in 1994. In a nauseatingly cynical twist, Morocco followed suit in exchange for the United States recognizing its sovereignty over Western Sahara, which it illegally occupies. Sudan was unable to follow through on its own normalization solely on account of the internecine strife that swept over that country. And whilst there was talk of possible similar moves on the part of Oman, or even, further afield, Pakistan or Malaysia, the real prize was always Saudi Arabia, given, not least, its centrality in the Muslim Ummah as the custodian of the ‘Two Holy Places’. That rapprochement between Riyadh and Tel Aviv was widely seen as drawing ever closer as the clock ticked towards October 7.

No wonder that, on September 22, with his customary racist arrogance, Benjamin Netanyahu, while beating the drum for war against Iran, could unfold before the United Nations General Assembly a map of the ‘New Middle East’, from which Palestine was completely erased – the Zionist project ‘from the river to the sea’, if not beyond, that has always been the core mission of his Likud Party, not to mention of the ‘founding fathers’ of the white supremacist and settler colonialist ideology of Zionism.

If Israel sought to copper fasten its own regional hegemony, this dovetailed neatly with US imperialism’s global hegemonic ambitions, which, at the present time, centre above all on its New Cold War against Socialist China.

On September 20, two days before Netanyahu’s address to the United Nations, the G-20 Summit in New Delhi was the venue for the unveiling of the US-sponsored India-Israel Middle East-European Union Corridor (IMEC), this being but the latest US attempt to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and specifically in this instance to undermine and disrupt China’s energy security.

Such was imperialism’s triumphalist conceit that they had finally exorcised the spectre of the Palestinian revolution that, on October 2nd, Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Adviser, who reports directly to President Biden, wrote in Foreign Affairs, the house journal of the US foreign policy establishment, that “the Middle East has never been so calm as it is today.”

Just five days later, that calm was well and truly shattered.

This dramatic turn of events brings to my mind the words of Padraig Pearse, speaking in 1915 at the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, less than one year before the heroic Easter Rising in Dublin:

“They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”

Clearly the fools have not yet learned their lesson even after all these years.

We do not imagine that the reactionary Arab regimes have changed their spots. However, if they wish to continue sitting on their thrones and in their presidential palaces, then further normalisation with Israel appears to be off the table for the foreseeable future without at least some serious steps towards justice for the Palestinians.

Netanyahu and all the other fascists in his government can rail all they like against the prospect of a Palestinian state. But as of this month, 145 of the 193 member states of the United Nations already recognise the State of Palestine, with Norway, Ireland, Spain and Slovenia leading the way in terms of a further wave of European recognition.

With steps towards the issuing of a warrant by the International Criminal Court for the arrest of the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu will have to be very careful as to which countries he visits for the rest of his miserable life.

More and more countries are supporting the brave stance of South Africa, charging Israel with the crime of genocide at the International Court of Justice, including not just numerous countries of the Global South, but even such European powers as Belgium and Spain.

This is a development that could not have been contemplated in Washington, London or Tel Aviv.

Regarding the wider international context, as early as last October 8th, our comrades of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) wrote that the Al Aqsa Storm was, “a move to prevent the Arab regimes from signing peace agreements with Israel and derail American attempts to build economic blocs in the region to besiege China, Iran and Russia – the most recent of which is the India-Middle East-Europe corridor.”

In this sense, the Palestinian resistance has already secured an immense victory. US imperialism and Israeli Zionism are increasingly rejected by almost the entire Global South and, admittedly in a more partial way, by a growing number of intermediate and middle powers in the Global North as well. Not only the Israeli attack dogs, but increasingly their master, US imperialism, the ringleader of world reaction, as well, are facing an unprecedented degree of global condemnation, repudiation and isolation.

Of course, we know that the Palestinian people have paid, and are paying, a terrible, cruel and almost unbearable price for their heroic resistance, their determination to be free, and to serve the cause of oppressed people everywhere by helping to bury imperialism in the rubble of Gaza.

I do not have to give here the details of the savagery they are enduring. It is brought to us daily in all its heart-rending awfulness, not least thanks to the heroic women and men journalists and camera crews, especially those of Al Jazeera, who remain standing in their place at any cost so that the world may see and know the truth.

But let us be clear. Every atrocity committed against our Palestinian sisters and brothers is another nail in the coffin of imperialism and Zionism. In the words of Terrence McSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, who died on hunger strike in London’s Brixton Prison on October 25th, 1920, mourned by Ho Chi Minh along the route of his funeral procession, and by Guo Moruo, a future senior leader of the Chinese party and government, in poetry written from Japan:

“It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can endure the most who will conquer.”

The courage and heroism of the Palestinian people, during these last nearly nine months of genocidal aggression in particular, stands alongside that of the Soviet people through the nearly seven months of the Battle of Stalingrad and through the 872 days, from September 1941 to January 1944, of the brutal Siege of Leningrad, and, indeed, with the heroic Jewish defenders of the Warsaw Ghetto, as they took on the nazis of their day.

Despite these almost nine months of genocidal aggression, imperialism and Zionism have only tasted the bitter fruits of defeat. Of unprecedented international isolation and an absence of any lasting results on the battlefield. When the Israelis commit yet another atrocity in Rafah, their soldiers pay the price in Gaza City, the Palestinian people having learned well the military art of people’s war.

As even the spokesperson of the Israeli armed forces, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari was recently forced to admit:

“This business of destroying Hamas, making Hamas disappear – it’s simply throwing sand in the eyes of the public. Hamas is an idea. Hamas is a party. It’s rooted in the hearts of the people. Anyone who thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong.”

Already, in his May 23rd, 1970, statement, with his tremendous farsightedness and extraordinary prescience, Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out:

“In the world of today, who actually fears whom? It is not the Vietnamese people, the Laotian people, the Cambodian people, the Palestinian people, the Arab people or the people of other countries who fear US imperialism; it is US imperialism which fears the people of the world. It becomes panic-stricken at the mere rustle of leaves in the wind. Innumerable facts prove that a just cause enjoys abundant support while an unjust cause finds little support. A weak nation can defeat a strong, a small nation can defeat a big. The people of a small country can certainly defeat aggression by a big country, if only they dare to rise in struggle, dare to take up arms and grasp in their own hands the destiny of their country. This is a law of history.”

And this is the change unseen in a century that the Palestinian people are helping to bring about with the blood of their martyrs and the lives of their children. The defeat of imperialism and its supersession by a community of shared future for humanity.

One thought on “The heroic Palestinian people are helping to bring about the defeat of imperialism”

  1. Palestinians are indeed the valiant vanguard, and the Palestinian Cause is the challenge of our generation, the measure of our moral compass.
    Truly, Humanity has to uphold the rule of law, UN Charter and the body of International Law; we must reaffirm the impartiality of Justice and the equality of all before the law, including Palestinians.
    If not, Palestine would irreparably become a deep, putrid, indelible stain on our collective conscience.
    Let’s free Palestine, let’s ensure a just peace in the weary Holy Land; let’s save Humanity.

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