A Turkish coalition protested in Istanbul on December 27, 2009, marking the anniversary of the occupation assault on Gaza, calling for the isolation and boycott of Israel. Over 500 attended the rally, supported by a wide array of leftist and labor forces, calling for a full military, commercial, economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel.
The marchers carried Palestinian flags and the flags of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, calling for the boycott of Israel against Zionism and imperialism. The marchers chanted against joint military exercises with Israel, emphasizing that the boycott campaign is a necessary step toward real peace and solidarity for the people of the region.
The participants in the coalition include the Union of United Metal Workers, the Contemporary Bar Association, the Union of Progressive Health Workers, the Confederation of Public Employees Trade Union – Istanbul, the Turkish Medical Assocaition, the Association of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, the Revolutionary Socialist Labor Party, the Green Left Party, the Labour Front and the Coalition for Global Justice and Peace.
The following declaration was issued by the protesters:
Boycott Israel, for Gaza and for Palestine!
Exactly one year ago, the Israeli Army started to drop the first bombs, heralding a total attack against the people of Gaza. This attack, lasting for 22 days and taking place while the whole world stood by and watched, left more than 5.300 people injured and 1.500 dead. Gaza was turned into a wrack. Under the pretence of destroying Hamas, Israel has conducted this attack to break the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and to annihilate the entire resistance. When the attack was over, ten thousands of Palestinians had lost their homes, hundred thousands were left without a functioning health system, their work places and means of existence, their schools and the basic infrastructure for survival.
However, the attack on Gaza is not over yet, it just persists in different forms. The siege on Gaza reached its fourth year and there are no signs pointing to its immediate end. Gaza, each day a bit more resembling a prison camp at point zero of humanity, is fighting with hunger, unemployment and environmental disasters.
Under the cover created by the “Peace Process” of the infamous Oslo Agreement, Israel is continuing with increasing speed to build its new settlements, its massacres, land usurpation and breaches of international law and human rights. As, with the second Intifada, the Palestinian people stood against this aggressive progression, Israel just increased its inhumane policies and pushed the limits of violence even further. Having been a threat to all the peoples of the Middle East from the days of its foundation, it even did not hold back from attacking neighbouring countries. In the summer of 2006 Lebanon was destroyed and Israeli planes taking off from Turkey bombed Syrian land, to mention just two recent events still fresh in our minds.
Israel did not have to face any sanctions in response to its increasing crimes. On the contrary, it was encouraged with the unlimited diplomatic support of the U.S.A, the delivery of the most advanced U.S weaponry and a financial support of 3 billion dollars, the Association Agreement with the European Union, the normalization of diplomatic relations by reactionary Arab regimes, acceptance as a respectable country in commonwealth, increasing foreign investments, and –if at all- meagre denunciations. Being assured that there is no serious price to pay, the Israeli leadership tightened the rope wrapped around the necks of the Palestinian people.
The solidarity actions of the World”s people for sure strengthened the will of the Palestinians for resistance, but were insufficient for changing their conditions. Thus the Zionist state did not feel any real pressure, as Israel did not lose ground internationally, whether in the military, diplomatic, commercial or academic arena, except for a few cases, such as the stand of Venezuela. The Zionist State seems to be granted immunity by many states of the world and international institutions. This is why the people of Palestine, while further upholding their resistance in many ways, endorsing determinedly the international campaign for boycott and sanctions against Israel as but one of the effective means available for the social forces on the side of peace and equality.
Why should we boycott?
Turning a blind eye to international law and agreements, even to UN resolutions, Israel is keeping the people of Palestine under a strict siege and isolation. Israel is occupying Palestinian land and blocking any efforts for building an independent state of Palestine, or the realization of a binational state. Israel, whose borders are yet not clearly defined, who never gives up the threat to occupy land anywhere, continues to build the isolation wall, fragmenting the West Bank into what were called Bantustans in apartheid South Africa and dooming the Palestinians to live in an open-air prison. Ignoring all international resolutions and declarations, Israel increasingly keeps on extending the illegal settlements. One of the most monstrous sieges in human history is being applied in Gaza, where over one and half million Palestinians have to survive, stripped of any means to meet their basic needs. The Palestinians are devoid of their right for self determination, as Israel, in spite of the resolution nr. 194 of the UN, does not grant six million Palestinian refugees their right of return to their homelands. Over ten thousand Palestinians are captures in Israeli prisons, subject to various torture and isolation practices. Imprisoning Palestinian leaders and the elected deputies of the Palestinian Parliament, it undercuts the democratic political representation of the Palestinian people.
With brute military force, Israel goes ahead with new occupations; causing new massacres and new waves of migration. It usurps Palestinian land, labour, natural resources and all means of production. Through harsh economic tyranny, it destroys the living conditions. Most of the Palestinian population, the real owners of the land, have to survive in refugee camps. Those living behind the Green Line and making up one fifth of the Israeli population, the so-called “48 Arabs, are treated as second class citizens under Israeli Law.
The Palestinian people are resisting and fighting against all odds for over 100 years. At this particular moment of the resistance, the Palestinians actualized the strategy of responding to oppression with an international movement, similar to that which brought the Apartheid regime in South Africa to an end. On July 2005 a broad coalition consisting of Palestinian political parties, trade unions, mass and grassroots organizations gave the campaign a more concrete form. They made a call to all conscientious people of the world: “Develop initiatives against Israel for a broad basis of boycott and sanctions like those applied against South Africa.” This is how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign came into being.
On March 28, 1949 Turkey was the first among the Middle Eastern and mostly Muslim populated countries to officially recognize the state of Israel founded in 1948. In line with the hegemony strategies and interests of the USA in the Middle East, the relations between Turkey and Israel are developing and deepening further day by day, with the support and contributions from the USA. Any ups and downs in this regard are dependent upon the changing policies of the USA. With the Greater Middle East Project, military ties between Turkey and Israel will be strengthened. Many different dimensions of this strategic alliance will emerge before us in the future. On the basis of this strategic partnership lies enmity and imperialistic hegemony against all people of the region, and foremost the Palestinians.
Government cabinets of the Republic of Turkey have been important constituents of the alliance. Whereas the Turkish-Israeli relationships were extended to the military sphere under the í‡iller and Erbakan cabinets, it was during the Ecevit period that Turkey organized the first air force exercises with Israeli participation under the code name “Anatolian Eagle”. The still existing Turkish-Israeli Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group in the Turkish parliament was formed by 289 deputies (183 of them from the AKP) during the first year of the AKP in government. After the attack on Gaza, many deputies, in the first place Nursuna Memecan of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), resigned from the Group. Among those, who have not, the CHP (Republican People”s Party) Deputy Onur í–ymen is noteworthy. The AKP government, on the other hand, while enhancing relations on all levels, successfully employs the hypocrite discourse of “Our Muslim brothers and sisters are dying in Gaza!! One Minute!”
The Turkish capitalist hegemony, both its religious and secular wings, all of its institutions and foremost the Turkish Army are defenders of this alliance. The central pillars of this strategic alliance are military cooperation and arms trade. There are trade and cooperation agreements between Turkey and Israel on a broad spectrum reaching from agriculture to seed technologies, husbandry and irrigation, chemistry and energy allocation, telecommunication to tourism, to security and environmental technologies. The trading volume between Turkey and Israel in 2008 was app. 2.6 billion dollars. 1.8 billion dollars of this amount came from trade on military equipment and technologies. A boycott campaign in Turkey that will aim at the policies of adding new munition to the arsenal of the state of Israel, will be a step further on the road leading to true peace in the Middle East, a peace the people of the Middle East are so desperately waiting for.
What are we going to aim at? And how?
As a part of the people of the Middle East, we never hesitate to stand up against all forms of oppression and occupation of the imperialists. While the people of Palestine are resisting in our close neighbourhood and developing an important anti-imperialist front, we became natural allies in this front.
Turkey is the most important ally of Israel in the Middle East. To organize an effective boycott campaign here against Zionism and against Israel will be the most meaningful act of international solidarity with the Palestinians.
To defend their honor and freedom, the Palestinians are in a long process of total war against Zionist barbarism. In the name of all the labourers, the discriminated and oppressed of the world, Palestine stands at the target of the oppressors. It is the duty of all humans on the planet to stand by the side of the people of Palestine, and to support their resistance in all fields. We have to question ourselves at the first place. Today, everybody should be aware of the fact that, anyone who does not expressively take part in the struggle for the cessation of any partnerships and cooperation in the crimes committed by the Zionist regime and the imperialist powers behind, is an accomplice in the first degree in those crimes. We declare that we are not going to be their accomplices, and that we are going to boycott Israel, until this complicity is totally eliminated out of our lives!
Our word is open and clear: We are not going to be accomplices in the violation of rights of the Palestinians! We will crush Zionism appearing in any form in our lands! We will not let Israeli soldiers use the air, land, the sea of the lands we are living on. We will resist, following the example of the Palestinians, not only for one month or one year, but until the occupation is lifted and until the Palestinians of Israeli citizenship gain equal rights. We will expose the close bonds between Israeli and Turkish capital and boycott their products! We will focus our efforts on announcing to the public that research led in our universities should not flow into the development of technology and equipment that makes Israeli occupation possible. We will work on inquiring such research partnerships and announce to the public on specific examples, so that a public pressure can be organised, to lead our universities to gain distance to Israeli universities and companies. We will boycott cultural products and artworks supported by the Israeli State and so, frustrate Israel”s efforts of image restoration by using channels of cultural and artistic production.
End All Military, Trade, Diplomatic, Academic and Cultural Relations with Israel!
The lifting of the siege on Gaza
Stopping Israeli racism
The right of return of the Palestinian refugees to their homelands
The end of occupation in the West Bank and Gaza
The end of the Apartheid System on Palestinians of Israeli citizenship
The right of self-determination of the Palestinian People
UNION OF UNITED METAL WORKERS
THE CONTEMPORARY LAWYERS ASSOCI.ATI.ON – ISTANBUL BRANCH
UNION OF PROGRESSIVE HEALTH WORKERS
SOLIDARITY ASSOCIATION WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
THE CONFEDERATION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES TRADE UNIONS-PLATFORM OF ISTANBUL BRANCH ORGANIZATIONS
UNION OF CINEMA WORKERS OF TURKEY
TURKISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
“THE REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST WORKER”S PARTY”
“BREAD AND FREEDOM”
“LABOUR AND FREEDOM FRONT”
WORKERS” MOVEMENT PARTY
INITIATIVE FOR THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF THE OPPRESSED
THE PEOPLE”S HOUSES
COALITION FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE AND PEACE
THE STUDENTS” COLLECTIVE
THE PROLETARIAN REVOLUTIONARY STAND
PLATFORM FOR SOCIALIST SOLIDARITY
SOCIALIST DEMOCRACY PARTY
FEDERATION OF SOCIALIST YOUTH ASSOCIATIONS
PLATFORM FOR SOCIAL FREEDOM
GREEN LEFT PARTY