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Starmer and Gaza

“Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” First Samuel 15:3 Old Testament; First part of the Books of Samuel, Hebrew Bible.

On October 9, Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, ordered: “a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we will act accordingly.”

Following Minister Gallant’s order, a siege, formerly the domain of medieval wars and 20th century despots, reared its ugly head once again. Israel, ranked the ninth happiest country in the world, is ceaselessly bombing the 2.2 million people of Gaza, trapped in a densely populated cage in what has been likened to a concentration camp. In the first six days Israel dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza, as many the US dropped on Afghanistan in one year, the first two weeks culminated in the equivalent tonnage of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, approximately one month later, much of Gaza resembles an apocalyptic wasteland. It’s people having barely enough to sustain life, live cheek by jowl with death.

That interview 

On 11 October Labour Party leader Keir Starmer was interviewed by LBC. Demonstrating his mastery of the oxymoron, when asked about Israel’s cutting off power and water to the people of Gaza, in a bend of the knee to Israeli exceptionalism he responded: “Israel does have that right…” the implication in such a statement – mass hunger, malnutrition and starvation of 2.2 million innocent civilians, where disease becomes rife, hospitals unable to function from lack of power, otherwise known as genocide. Caveating this response he added, “… Obviously everything should be done under international law…” But if everything was done under international law as Starmer insisted, Israel would not “have that right.”

The Geneva Convention makes “collective punishment” a war crime under International law, something Keir Starmer as a former Human Rights Lawyer, Attorney General and a leading political figure should have been cognisant of. As such, an unequivocal “NO”, should have been his reply. However, the inherent contradiction in the crafting of his answer gave the erroneous impression Israel’s actions could be justified.

Continuing with his response, Starmer added, “… I don’t want to step away from the core principles that Israel has the right to defend herself…” A mantra for genocide, drip fed daily into the consciousness of the collective west populous by the political establishment and corporate media, used to legitimise Israel’s war crimes. Starmer continued, “…and Hamas bears responsibility,” thereby absolving Israel for the collective punishment meted out to the innocent civilians of Gaza, for the murders and kidnappings of Israeli citizens by Hamas. 

At the time of writing this article, approximately 10,000 civilians, two thirds of which are women and children have been murdered by Israel. Many more lie under the rubble of Gaza unaccounted for. A hundred and twenty newborns are also at risk, none of them are members of Hamas, none of them can hold a gun. 

The world has learned nothing 

Gaza is not the only place to have experienced a siege within living memory. The siege of Leningrad, September 1941 to 1944 claimed the lives of 800,000 people.

During the siege of Leningrad, twelve-year-old Tanya Savicheva kept a diary which became symbolic of the siege’s human cost: “28 December 1941 at 12.30 a.m. – Zhenya died. 25 January 1942 at 3 p.m. – Granny died. 17 March at 5 a.m. – Lyoka died. 13 April at 2 a.m. – Uncle Vasya died. 10 May at 4 p.m. – Uncle Lyosha died. 13 May at 7.30 a.m. – Mama died. The Savichevs are dead. Everyone is dead. Only Tanya is left.” Although rescued, Tanya later died in a children’s hospital of chronic dysentery.

President Putin‘s brother Viktor also died during the siege aged one year old. Philip Short in his biography of Putin writes he was “…buried in a mass grave in the Piskaryovskoe Cemetery, with some 470,000 others who had died during the blockade.“

Let me be clear

Netanyahu’s psychopathic holy war rhetoric, invoking an Old Testament command for genocide, an ancient blueprint for collective punishment, along with the deaths of 5,000 babies and children has not been enough to move Starmer from his position of refusing to call for a ceasefire. Instead he has called for a “humanitarian pause” for the “urgent alleviation of Palestinian suffering.” The ceasing of the slaughter of innocents through intense bombing in one of the most densely populated place on earth does not meet Starmer’s criteria of “suffering”.

There is now a mounting open revolt within the Labour Party as Starmer’s intransigence holds steadfast to the Westminster Uni-Party line. Trying to shore up the damage with fears of more resignations, Labour chief of staff Sue Gray and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy held urgent talks with council leaders. Starmer, in response to the outpouring of anger and revulsion from members as well as Labour’s electoral base said, “… let me be clear about what I was saying and what I wasn’t saying. I was saying that Israel has the right to self-defence, and when I said that right I meant it was that right to self-defence. I was not saying that Israel had the right to cut off water, food, fuel or medicines.” However the relevant section of the LBC interview went as follows:

Nick Ferrari : A siege is appropriate, cutting off power, cutting off water?

Keir Starmer: I think Israel does have that right, it is an ongoing situation, obviously everything should be done within international law…

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir stated: “Medicines, food, fuel and water must get into Gaza immediately. Innocent Palestinians need to know that the world is not just simply watching but acting to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe”. If a similar situation was currently unfolding in Kiev at the hands of Russia, Keir Starmer, Richi Sunak and the politicians of the collective west would not be shy in calling this out for what it is, a crime against humanity, a war crime. 

Starmer’s call for a humanitarian pause is lipstick on a genocidal pig, a cover to support Israel’s continued murderous bombing campaign of Gaza whilst demonstrating faux compassion towards the Palestinian people and many in the Labour Party and their electoral base aren’t buying it.

Thirteen front benchers are now in revolt against Starmer’s Gaza stance including: Naz Shah, Paul Baker, Afzal Khan, Jess Phillips and Labour whip Kim Leadbeater.  Labour mayors Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham along with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar have all openly called for a ceasefire.

So far around 30 councillors, many, but not exclusively Muslims have resigned, 250 Labour Muslim councillors have demanded in a letter that the leadership call for “an immediate ceasefire.” 31 Labour councillors in Sheffield voted for a Green Party motion calling for a ceasefire.

It is expected that Labour will haemorrhage Muslim votes at the next general election. The research group Muslim Census, recently conducted a survey, which found that only 5% from the original 71% who voted Labour in the 2019 general election would do so again. Following Starmer’s comments, areas such as: Birmingham, Bradford, Leeds, Manchester, Leicester, Luton, Oldham, Kirklees in West Yorkshire along with Brent, Tower Hamlets and Redbridge in London are due to take a hammering in the 2024 election. 

A terrible spin

The Independent reported: “Sir Keir’s spokesperson insisted that the Labour leader had remained “absolutely consistent” about stressing the importance that Israel adheres to international law ever since the crisis began with the Hamas attack on 7 October.” Meanwhile six Oxford city councilors upon quitting the party released a statement where in conclusion they stated: “As Starmer has said ‘Israel has that right’ to continue deadly attacks on Gazans. This is complicity in war crimes.” 

Spinning their way out of accusations of complicity in war crimes from its own membership is not an easy task for the Labour Party HQ… but they had a go: “If you listen to the tape it was one of those things where there was overlapping questions and answers based on what had been said before, which was the specific question beforehand about Israel having the right to defend itself, which is something we have repeatedly said and stand by.” As reported by the Guardian.

Resigning from the Labour Party a young Palestinian photographer and former Young Labour BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) member, concluded on X that Labour was: “no longer a safe place for Palestinians and Muslims.”

A touch of evil

Starmer’s amoral stance on the genocide of the Palestinians is part of a degenerative illness that has been metastasising within the Labour Party for some time. A recent YouGov poll showed 76% of UK citizens want a ceasefire, whilst hundreds of thousands are taking to the streets in support of the Palestinians. Starmer has shown himself not only to be increasingly out of lockstep with many in his own party but with the country also. 

Nasrine Malik reported recently in the Guardian: “… I am told by a senior Labour insider that the Palestine issue is already being analysed solely in terms of which Muslim seats could swing away from Labour, and where wild card candidates can swoop in, campaign and win on this single issue, as George Galloway did in the past. The hope is that these are prospects unlikely to come to pass in a materially damaging way.”

Many in the UK’s cynical electorate view the Labour Party as the lesser of two evils. A refusal to call for a ceasefire is allowing Netanyahu to continue to “put to death men and women, children and infants.” Calculating genocide in terms of a swing in Muslim seats will lead many to believe the Labour Party are just plain evil.

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