.............................................. ...............................................

How to build an movement against the war on Gaza

by Dave Riley

I shot a video interview with Paul Benedek on December 29th protest here in Brisbane:How should we respond to Israel's latest attack on Gaza?

I think the points he raised still hold up. The complication is that this war is unlikely to last for a long time in the horrendous form we are witnessing at the present time. So engineering any movement against it has to be considerate of that context.

Here in Australia the protests' demands nonetheless are consolidating
  • No Australian support for Israel
  • Israeli troops out of Gaza!
  • End the massacre!
  • Free Palestine!
No one who is joining this movement being asked to sign on with Hamas or beseech the Palestinians to enter peace negotiations at the behest of their aggressors. But there will be a wide range of positions adopted by protest participants.

This situation in regard to the "peace now" demand reminds me of the time of the carpet bombing of Vietnam when the conservative wing of the movement advocated that the movement adopt the position: Stop the bombing! Negotiate!

We then -- that is our mob -- argued that the key demand had to be Out Now! and that our role was to advocate the best position for the Vietnamese struggle.

In the context of Gaza that has to be a freedom from the ongoing aggression and brutality engineered by the Zionist state and if there is a hot war now -- that is but one option of the many aggressions that Israel has deployed against the Palestinians and will continue to regardless of the outcome of this slaughter.

The crossings need to be opened up. Goods must be allowed into Gaza. Funds frozen need to be realeased, etc

So calling for a generic "peace" is a massive disservice to these people who are suffering so much under the battering. Israel has to get out of Gaza, end the siege, and stop massacre-ing. There is but one side in this conflict that rules our perspective and that is the side of the Palestinians.

I think nonetheless a revived movement is underway that will consolidate in many ongoing campaigns for Palestine and against Israel and maybe that will take the form of massive boycott campaign similar to that focused on South Africa for many years.

Similarly Israel -- like the Israeli basketball team touring Turkey that had to run for their lives -- will be actively ostracised.

At stake too is the further growth of the movement against the occupation and oppression of Palestine within Israel itself and further collapse in support for Zionism world wide.

No Justice, No Play? Israel's Sports Team Forced To Abandon Field In Turkey:"The Police Forgot To "Confiscate" The Fan's Shoes

By Dave Zirin

We have officially entered uncharted waters. Never before in my years ofreporting has a sports team been forced to abandon the field of play due topolitical protest from fans. Never before have fans become the central actors in turning a sporting event into a political melee.

But Tuesday evening in Ankara, Turkey, the Israeli basketball team, Bnei Hasharon, had to flee the wrath of what the Associated Press described as "hundreds of fist-pumping, chanting Turkish fans." What exploded was yet another protest against Israel's bombardment of Gaza. The shock here is the setting, a sports arena, and the target, a basketball team.

It may be surprising that this came to pass in such a supposedly apolitical environs--a Eurocup game against a team called Turk Telekom--but local officials
knew this could happen and took every precaution. Thousands of police officers surrounded the court, and street demonstrations of 4,000 people were already taking place outside the arena. Protesters shouted, "Israeli murderers, get out of Palestine!" and "Allah-u Akhbar!" as the Hasharon team bus entered the arena.

Only 500 fans were even let into the arena and were also subject to intense searches, but it wasn't enough. Police made the mistake of not confiscating the shoes.

Before the game could begin, angry chants of "Israeli killers!" came down from the crowd as smuggled Palestinian flags were unfurled. Then, in a scene that would look familiar to a certain sitting president, off came the shoes as footwear rained down from the stands (the shoes didn't hit any players). As both teams looked at the crowd, frozen in place, battles began between police officers and Turkish fans, as the fans surged forward to take the court. Both Hasharon and Turk Telecom were rushed off and spent two hours in the locker rooms while the battle for control of the arena raged on.

Hashoran captain Meir Tapiro spoke about the fear and chaos he felt around him to the Jerusalem Post: "The fans raced on to the court and ran towards us like madmen, but the police stopped them. It was really scary."

After ninety minutes all the fans were expelled, arrested or dragged from the arena. The referees attempted to get the teams back onto the court to play before an empty arena, but Bnei Hasharon, after two hours of being prisoners in their locker room, had no desire to play. Referees called it a forfeit, and the Turks were declared winners of the game by the official forfeit score of 20-0.

Hasharon team chairman Eldad Akunis was understandably incensed. "After such a trying ordeal, there was simply no point in playing. The players were just concerned for their safety. We were also given instructions by the Israeli embassy staff, who were monitoring the situation, not to play," said Akunis.

There is no doubt that it was "a trying ordeal," a frightening experience that not even Red Sox fans would wish on the Yankees. But to put it mildly, it pales in comparison to the situation in Gaza itself. With more than 500 deaths, 3,000 injuries and 100 tons of bombs dropped on one of the impoverished regions of the world, the trials of a basketball team seem trivial.

It's certainly true that none of the players--two of whom are African, five of whom are American-born--bear a hint of responsibility for any of this carnage. But it's difficult not to remember the famous telegram sent by playwright Arthur Miller to President Lyndon Johnson. Miller was invited for a gala of some kind and refused, saying, "When the guns boom, the arts die." Perhaps when the guns boom, sports should die as well.

We may recall January 2008, when soccer star Mohamed Aboutreika lifted his shirt to reveal the slogan "Sympathize with Gaza." He wanted people to stand up and notice that an economic blockade had triggered, for the Palestinians in Gaza, a humanitarian crisis. The new year begins with another instance where the reality of Gaza has unexpectedly interrupted the field of play. Only this time--fitting the new moment--it was altogether more livid, more dangerous and more desperate.

No sympathy has meant no peace.


[Dave Zirin is the author of "A People's History of Sports in the United States"
(The New Press) ]



1 Com:

Dave Riley | January 13, 2009

Another variation of this peace at any price perspective i occurred during the Ist Gulf War in 1991.

A section of the movement aggregated by the Greens and the Democrats (who were then on a left tact) promoted an equal blame position and wanted the rallies to march to both the US and Iraqi consulates.

This , in the light of later events, seems almost cynically absurd. But that was their position and they tried to take the movement into an even handed position that equated the verocity of the US coalition war on Iraqi forces with occupation of Kuwait by the Iraq.

But the stroy is very different:The exact number of Iraqi combat casualties is unknown, but known to be heavy. Immediate estimates said up to 100,000 Iraqis were killed. Some now estimate that Iraq sustained between 20,000 and 35,000 fatalities. However other figures still maintain fatalities as high as 200,000.Most kuwaiti deaths were caused by US Coalition bombardment and there were some 148 battle-related deaths suffered by US forces.

Of course it was a frank pretext for US military incursion -- and the movement needed to assert that position. The rights and wrongs of the Kuwait occupation was , in effect a side issue. A mere excuse for exporting a US presence to supplement Israel's flagging proxy role in the ME.

Similarly when Argentina invaded the Malvenas in 1982 a section of the movement that rose up in response to the massive carnage inflicted by Thatcher's navy wanted to appoint equal blame between the two countries especially since Argentina -- unlike Britain of course -- was ruled by a military dictatorship.

At stake: a few thousand sheep and less than 50 Brits who resided in the islands, none of whom had been harmed in the invasion.

In total 907 were killed during the 74 days of the conflict:Argentina - 649 and United Kingdom - 258. Any islanders killed -- 3 women -- were shot accidentally by the UK invading force.

So if we want to consider the current invasion of Gaza....

Post a Comment