Palestinians inspect the damage following an airstrike on the El-Remal area in Gaza City on October 9, 2023 Palestinians inspect the damage following an airstrike on the El-Remal area in Gaza City on October 9, 2023. Source: Wafa - Wiki Palestine - Wikicommons / cropped from original / shared as it is free work

A ceasefire will save lives and is the only route to a peaceful resolution and not imperialist wars, says Lindsey German

This article was originally published on the Stop The War website.

The horrific scenes from Gaza on a daily basis show the enormity of what the Israeli government is doing. Over 14,000 people have been killed including around 6000 children. The people of Gaza have already fled the north and are now being pushed from Khan Yunis and other parts of the south. Our politicians still refuse to call for a ceasefire, indeed while the ‘pause’ is being delayed many are still being killed.

It is worth contrasting western government and media attitudes to this onslaught with another war that has been going on for close to two years now, and where there have been high levels of military and civilian casualties – that of Ukraine.

When Russia invaded its neighbour in February 2022, the US, UK and NATO powers condemned the action, imposed sanctions on Russia and demanded immediate withdrawal. There has been no such condemnation of Israel – indeed its actions have been condoned and justified by exactly those people. It is claimed that Israel is only defending itself, even though it is engaged in illegal occupation and repression.

Whereas Ukraine has been supplied with increasingly large and sophisticated levels of arms by NATO, it is Israel who is being supplied with weapons that it is using in its brutal oppression of the Palestinian people. In recent weeks half of US aircraft flying from British bases in Cyprus are estimated to contain arms for Israel. There are around 1000 British troops in and around Israel since the conflict began, including in an aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean. Intelligence gathered by US and UK sources in the region is being shared with Israel.

When Vladimir Putin was accused of kidnapping Ukrainian children and taking them to Russia this was designated a war crime by western governments. Yet the killing of around 6000 children is not being treated as a war crime by these same governments, who only make feeble calls for restraint and humanitarian pauses while at the same time arming Israel.

Similarly, when Putin cut off water and electricity from Ukrainian towns, this was again seen as a war crime and the collective punishment of civilians. But when Israel does this to a whole population while simultaneously bombing and shelling them, this too is justified as proportionate and necessary, rather than as criminal under international law.

While the western powers sanction Russia over Ukraine, our own government is bitterly opposed to BDS, and indeed is introducing laws to make it more difficult to carry out.

There are many more examples of double standards, for example in how they define children. Some Israeli hostages captured by Hamas on October 7th are being exchanged for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. But whereas the hostages to be released are described as ‘women and children’ the British press refers to the Palestinian prisoners as ‘women and ‘minors’ or ‘under 18s’ – who are of course children but this change in terminology serves to soften the fact that so many children are in Israeli detention.

There is one area of consistency however – in neither case do the US or British governments support a ceasefire. This is because in Ukraine, the western powers believed that they could fundamentally weaken Russia by NATO waging a proxy war in Ukraine. In the case of Israel, they support its repression of the Palestinians in order to maintain western regional power in the Middle East, and therefore allow Israel to act with impunity despite growing international protest at its actions.

We should not be surprised that the imperialist powers and their friends therefore continue to arm Israel with terrible cost to the Palestinians. In Ukraine, it is becoming increasingly clear that this proxy war is causing huge military losses and injuries, and that the plan to defeat Russia is not working. There are growing tensions within Ukraine itself between the president Volodymyr Zelensky (who supports Israel’s actions) and his top military.

Stop the War demands a ceasefire in both cases because we support saving lives and believe peaceful resolution to disputes is better than imperialist wars. We should have no hesitation in condemning invasion and occupation wherever it occurs, and in pointing out that the west’s double standards are showing in full view.

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Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.

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