Opinion: Kia Ora Gaza

John Edmunson, Workers Party national education officer, Christchurch

The Spark September 2010

In June this year Socialist Worker announced that Kia Ora Gaza would be heading to Palestine. Kia Ora Gaza is a New Zealand contribution to British ex-Labour MP George Galloway’s Viva Palestina charity and it will be departing these shores in September to bring aid to the people of Gaza. Kia Ora Gaza’s aim is to raise NZ$100,000 to be used to buy items to deliver to Gaza.

Galloway’s notion of breaking the siege with a massive aid convoy, travelling in full public view and defying the Israeli state was an inspired one. The mere existence of that first convoy brought international attention to the plight of the imprisoned population of Gaza and to the barbarity of the Zionist regime’s mediaeval treatment of Gaza’s 1.4 million inhabitants. As an act of humanitarian solidarity it was brilliant. But socialist solidarity is more than just humanitarianism. It is humanitarian certainly, but it is also revolutionary internationalist solidarity.

When the first Viva Palestina convoys went, they made a point. When this convoy of trucks bypasses Israel and enters Gaza through the open crossing point at Rafah, the impact is lost. It becomes primarily an act of humanitarianism; internationalist solidarity comes a poor second. It becomes little different to any other aid and relief effort. I wish them well but only in the way I would if they were any other aid agency. There are good agencies, both secular and religious, involved in good projects in Gaza.

Revolutionary socialists are few and far between. We need to continually reflect on the effectiveness of our work in advancing the cause of socialism. There is little point in members of the revolutionary left taking such a lead role in a humanitarian event that aid agencies could do. Their time would be better spent doing the important work that the liberal left won’t do, like specific solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for a secular socialist society. The revolutionary left’s role should be to support the struggle that will eliminate poverty and inequality and ultimately put the aid agencies out of work.

The Workers Party has initiated a campaign to raise money for the PFLP. The money is sent unconditionally so the PFLP can use it in whatever way they see fit. The PFLP solidarity campaign is a long term one, intended to establish revolutionary solidarity with comrades fighting for that secular socialist society. It won’t make a big splash by raising $100,000 dollars, but neither will it simply fade away. Already it has raised and transferred over NZ$1000 dollars and it will continue to do so into the future. When comrades go to Palestine under the auspices of the Solidarity Campaign, they will be going in revolutionary solidarity with the PFLP and offering their support to the PFLP while they are there. This will result in real material solidarity, whether it be escorting children to school to protect them from settler attacks, working in an office, or any other task the PFLP might find useful. It will also be a learning and fact-finding visit for the people going. We see this as a much better use of a revolutionary socialist’s time and energy than organizing Kia Ora Gaza. So worthy and supportable though the Kia Ora Gaza project is, my support, material, political and organisational, will continue to go to the PFLP.

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