England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Scottish Government: An ally of Gaza?

By Paul Moorhouse, Socialist Alternative Scotland

The UK Government and opposition seem locked in a struggle to ‘out-macho’ each other’s backing for the Israeli state’s brutal onslaught, including genocidal attacks on Gaza and imperialism’s aggression against Yemen. But, superficially at least, a different mood prevails at Holyrood. Both SNP and Labour MSPs voted for a resolution calling for a ceasefire, specifically rejecting a Tory amendment for a ‘humanitarian pause’, breaking ranks with Westminster Labour.

The Scottish Government also supported South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice and formally oppose the Westminster anti-boycott Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill. Labour and SNP politicians have addressed mass rallies in support of Gaza across Scotland, unlike Labour MPs in England.

What explains the different climate in establishment politics this side of the border? There is some genuine understanding of Gaza’s plight, the SNP First Minister Humza Yousaf’s in-laws were stuck in Khan Younis for four weeks, experiencing Israel’s saturation bombing first-hand, and both parties’ leaders come from the Muslim community. But their abandonment of the trans community following Tory quashing of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill demonstrates neither set of capitalist politicians has any qualms about throwing oppressed people under the bus when politically expedient.

In an election year, both parties are competing for the votes of a nation with generations of class struggle and solidarity at home and abroad, whose political identity is deeply hostile to exploitation and oppression and shot through with hatred for the Tory Party. After years of betrayals and mealy-mouthed compliance with the austerity agenda of British capitalism, they are competing to be seen as the ‘least bad alternative’ to another five years of Tory rule.

Terrified to make meaningful promises on pressing issues such as the cost of living crisis, the collapse of Scotland’s public services, or (in the SNP’s case) independence on which they might be expected to deliver, they have snatched the opportunity to make empty noises about a catastrophe 3,000 miles away. This cynical move is light years removed from the visceral anger and solidarity of the hundreds of thousands of angry protesters braving the Scottish weather week-in-week-out since 7 October.

Moreover, both Yousaf and Labour’s millionaire leader Anas Sarwar are determined to stick to capitalism’s rules and imperialism’s institutions, so their ’solidarity’ offers the Palestinian masses little, if any, aid. Instead it has been limited to, for instance, verbal support for the ICJ hearing to charge Israel’s government with genocide. The case has exposed the horrors of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza to the world. But the court is subordinate to the United Nations security council, a body where the US and UK have repeatedly used their vetoes to protect a state they created and fund as an imperialist outpost protecting their profits and strategic interests in the Middle East.

Whilst the ICJ ruled in favour of South Africa, its failure to call for a ceasefire amounts to a betrayal of the Palestinian masses. it highlights that there is no way bodies like the ICJ can deliver full and meaningful justice for the Palestinians. The UN is never anything more than the sum of the capitalist states which make it up: a cabal of profiteers and gangsters who have bled the Middle East and whole neo-colonial world dry since the UN was founded at the end of World War II.

The state of Israel was actually created by UN Resolution 181 in 1947 which partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Israel, representing less than one third of the population, was granted 55% of the land. The Palestinian majority were left with a patchwork of territories at the margins of the Jewish state. This rotten plan provided the template on which the murderous expulsions of the Nakba and the policy of settlements pursued by the Israeli state today were constructed.

Whilst Yousaf condemns the Gaza invasion, it’s ‘business as usual’ when it comes to playing statesman with Turkey’s right-wing regime, holding private talks with President Erdoğan and inviting him to visit Scotland. Not only has Erdoğan been a prime supporter of ‘normalising’ the Israeli regime in the region in the recent period, but his decades long war of ethnic cleansing against the Kurdish national minority mirrors Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.

To isolate the Israeli regime effectively we need to understand the limitations of sanctions and boycotts imposed reluctantly, if at all, by the capitalist state and big business. International Socialist Alternative worldwide supports the key campaign to end public contracts for G4S – the company which trains the repressive Israeli Police force. However, time after time over recent years, Labour and SNP have granted contracts to G4S. Currently the company syphons millions of pounds from Scottish taxes: providing prison transport and offender tagging to Holyrood and cash collection for Glasgow Council.

Politicians claim this is because there’s ‘‘no alternative’ to ‘playing the (rigged) game’ set by tendering rules. Driving G4S out of Scotland’s public services requires active struggle by workers (especially those currently employed by the company) to end privatisation by SNP and Labour and fight for services under the democratic control of the working people who run and use them. An effective campaign for this would be immeasurably assisted by building direct links at all levels between Scottish workers, Palestinian trade unionists, and others fighting extreme national oppression in Israel and throughout the Middle East.

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