An argument is raging in the climate movement over whether to call for support for Palestine. The German Fridays For Future group criticised activist Greta Thunberg after she called for a ceasefire at a protest and later chanted, “No climate justice on occupied land”.
The campaign group wrote, “Greta Thunberg is currently hurting a lot of people with her positioning. What is crucial for us is that she does not rep‑ resent Fridays for Future Germany. We stand for ourselves.”
But other climate groups rightly see the need to stand up for Palestine. In Britain, Extinction Rebellion activists protested in the House of Commons recently to demand a ceasefire. They stood up in the gallery and unfurled banners reading, “Ceasefire now” while MPs debated.
Protester Yaz Ashmawi said Britain “has historically been instrumental in the suppression of Palestinian human rights”. “It is part of the same system that is at the root of the accelerating cli‑ mate and nature emergency—a system of inequality, violence and exploitation,” they said. “We cannot begin to secure a just and liveable future without an end to systems of violence and oppression all around the world, and the liberation of all Indigenous people.”
Miranda, another protester, said, “Every day that goes by without a ceasefire sees more innocent people die. “Our government is complicit in these atrocities, through the provision of arms and diplomatic cover. It must stop. We must do what we can to demand a ceasefire and facilitate a just peace.”
Just Stop Oil activists have also been involved with actions for Palestine. Vital Bertie, a JSO spokesperson, told Socialist Worker that it was vital for his group to stand in solidarity with the oppressed. “Our government shattering emissions targets and going ahead with fossil fuel licences is a death sentence. “These are genocidal policies for people not just in the global south but in Europe and Britain. “So, of course, we have to recognise when genocide is going on in Palestine,” he said.
“What Israel does to the Palestinians and their land is one of the most brutal examples of the impact of carbon capitalism. Israel actively targets Palestinian water sources, and it’s the effects of war that are turning the land into an arid place where crops struggle to grow.
“The situation for the Palestinians will undoubtedly be made worse because of climate change.” Those in the climate movement who are standing with Palestinians are linking together different crimes of the system. Revolutionary socialists argue for supporting the struggles against all the horrors of capitalism.
Seeing environmental degradation as a separate, or as a somehow non‑political issue, fails to identify the root cause of climate catastrophe. Each fight, whether for Palestine or the climate, is a link in the chain of a wider struggle against the blood-stained, profit-driven system that causes devastation across the world.
Climate change, war, competition and fossil fuels are all central to our rulers’ system. They are driven forward by the same pressures—profit-making and competition. Making the links between the movement against Israel’s occupation and the climate fight is essential.
Both are rooted in capitalism. States battle one another over dominance and control. If they succeed, they can continue to outdo their rivals in waging wars and grabbing resources. This is also why those in charge are still committed to fossil fuels.
Imperialists know that if they drop fossil fuels, the profits and dominance of the multinationals they protect are at risk. The oil reserves that exist in the Middle East mean the region has become a battleground for imperialist rivalries.
And imperialism in the Middle East feeds racism that leaders need to keep people at home divided. As a way of maintaining dominance Britain and then the US threw themselves into a partnership with Israel.
Israel could then inflict discipline on countries in the Middle East who don’t do the West’s bidding. The US in particular ploughs money and arms into its watchdog. The horrors in Palestine are directly linked to a system of competition and control.
The drive to control oil supplies is why Britain and the US give unwavering support to Israel. The Israeli state could not exist without its imperialist backers. And these are the same states that are central to the fossil fuel economy.
But it’s not just the West that’s wedded to the system. This month Algeria and Lebanon proposed to cut oil supplies to Israel at the Joint Arab Islamic Extraordinary Summit. Yet this call was rejected by most of those present.
That’s because leaders of Arab countries are also part of a system of capitalist competition. Two great threats to human life, war and climate change, will only be stopped when ordinary people topple their imperialist rulers and break the system.
Just Stop Oil activists stand in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of people who have taken to the streets across Britain for Palestine. Cops arrested 66 JSO activists last Wednesday for slow marching through west London.
As of last Thursday, six activists had been remanded to prison across two weeks. Bertie said that civil disobedience, both for the climate and Palestine, was crucial to pushing for change. “We cheer the sit-ins and civil disobedience taken up by the Palestine movement, and our members have been part of them,” he said.
“What’s needed is a cross-fertilisation of tactics for both the climate and other issues. Recently JSO tried to stop refugees from being taken onto the Biddy Stockholm prison barge. “Making that link between climate and migrant justice was important for us.
“But this wasn’t a change of our tactics. It was just a deepening of them.” Bertie added, “Civil disobedience and protest have a real effect, giving confidence to ordinary people. “In this rising tide of rage, coming together can only make us stronger.”
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