Eight activists from Palestine Action are currently on trial for various actions they have taken to close down the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. They deserve the support of everyone who is taking a stand against Israel’s murderous war on Gaza.
In August 2006 at the height of Israel’s war on Lebanon, anti-war activists in Derry in the North of Ireland, occupied the offices of Raytheon, the US-based multinational arms company.
During the occupation, we destroyed all Raytheon’s computer equipment and their computer mainframe. At our trial in Belfast we admitted to all the damage—estimated at over £300,000.
But we insisted that we were acting to prevent Raytheon from supplying the weapons to be used in war crimes, which is itself a war crime.
We got a Raytheon executive into the witness stand. We confronted him with evidence that a Raytheon “bunker buster” Guided Bomb Unit was directly responsible for the massacre of 28 members of two extended families in Qana just days before we took our action.
He claimed that he didn’t know or care, as he “didn’t watch the news”. The jury accepted our defence and acquitted us. After further similar action, Raytheon announced it was leaving Derry since the police and courts couldn’t “guarantee their safety”.
The British state has since moved to try to close off the “human rights” defence that we used and which other Palestine Action activists have used in recent years.
A ruling in the court of appeal in the summer of 2022 said that it could no longer be used. The trial of the Elbit Eight is a major test of this new ruling and an attempt to criminalise such protests.
The jury trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London, which started on 13 November, is due to take six weeks. Supporters can show their support outside the court at 9.30am each day.
Colm Bryce, Raytheon 9
Rulers’ support in words
Dáire Cumiskey’s excellent feature article on Israel’s relations with the US is timely for understanding imperialism’s approach to Palestine.
That this relationship is a subsidiary part of the wider Middle East context is brought out by the summit hosted by Saudi Arabia on 11 November.
Bringing together Arab regimes and Iran this should have been an opportunity to marshal enormous strength to compel a ceasefire.
In terms of military potential, the Arab regimes have a military budget of £90 billion compared to Israel’s £16 billion.
Diplomatically Israel’s chief sponsor, the US, could have been pressured to insist on a halt to Israel’s killing, by several more states breaking diplomatic relations with Israel.
The reason nothing happened is class. All the wealthy across the world are afraid of their own populations—and the mass support that so many give Palestine.
That outweighs any idea of upsetting the current imperialist structures to save lives in Palestine. Whatever they might say in public, those regimes are failing to show the solidarity of the vast numbers who march with the idea “We are all Palestinians.”
Regimes can be pressurised to move. But it is from below, by building the mass movement, that Palestine’s struggle for justice will be assisted.
Don’t fall for Rishi Sunak’s claims to have ‘delivered’
As Rishi Sunak is busy congratulating himself for the fall in inflation since last year, we need to remember it’s still higher than two years ago. The Tories want to deflect attention from the crises they have caused and always expect us to pay the cost.
With millions mobilised in solidarity with Palestine across Britain, we need to use the current momentum to turn the tables on the Tories.
We need to tax the richest in Britain rather than ordinary people being constantly squeezed to pay for each crisis. Don’t wait until next year’s general election to make the Tories pay.
With Suella Braverman gone already, and David Cameron back in the cabinet, people’s fury is rising. We must keep pushing to get the rest of them out now.
Dundee victory over right to protest
At the end of October, two Police Scotland officers arrived at my house to arrest me for leading an illegal Free Palestine march in Dundee.
On 28 October what began as a static protest turned into an impromptu march by 600 people through the city centre. It was very lively with many young, chanting Palestinians and their supporters. It was also very peaceful without any arrests.
But the police used the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 S65 (2)(B) which prohibits marching without permission to arrest me the following morning.
Outcry followed, including from the Dundee Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Dundee trades council. They were determined to defend the right to protest and opposed the bail conditions which denied my right to enter to the city centre until a court hearing.
Pressure from these groups and local MPs has now resulted in the charges being dropped. It’s right to protest and to confront the laws when they’re not in the interests of workers.
It will require more law breaking to get rid of the Public Order Act. Trade unionists will also need to defy Tory laws if they want to win.
Jump from Starmer’s sinking ship
Keir Starmer considered that putting his position on Gaza to a vote in parliament recently would maintain party unity and votes.
He criticised aspects of Israel’s conduct but not support a ceasefire. He watched as Gaza becomes a deserted ruin while the SNP and the Lib Dems called for a ceasefire.
Ann Johns, Grumpy Geordie Gran
Israel’s logic exposes itself
Israel is making hospitals the prime target of war. It has a logic. It’s a genocidal logic but a logic nonetheless.
It is to send a message—nowhere is safe. Flee or die. It is the same message sent in 1948 at Deir Yassin. Now we have the second Nakba.
Now keep up the pressure
Just as with Iraq, the protest movement’s opposition to imperialist policies has caused a crisis for the British ruling class. Our side needs to intensify this with more protests and strikes.
Let’s bring them down and weaken their side. Let’s make the next government come to office in the face of a militant working class movement.
Hold these politicians to account
More than 100 United Nations staff have been killed so far in the Israeli attack on Gaza. Many have had family members killed and injured. Nothing like this has ever happened before.
Yet both Labour and the Conservatives still support this brutal collective punishment of the Palestinians. They must be held to account.