Palestine: what can a communist do in Ireland



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At the time of writing, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza by the Israeli forces since October 7. At least 4,000 of them were children. 600,000 have been made homeless.

Israeli forces have subjected Gaza to an uninterrupted barrage, and ground forces have attacked sites in and around Gaza City. Electricity and water have been cut off. A humanitarian catastrophe has been unleashed, and in all likelihood, it is going to get much worse in the coming days and weeks.

Let’s be clear. This is a cold-blooded genocide of the Palestinian people. And it is only made possible by the criminal support of the imperialists.  

USA, British and EU imperialists have joined a deafening chorus about “Israel’s right to self-defence” – i.e. (as the last few weeks have demonstrated) the right of the IDF to kill any unarmed man, woman or children they can lay their hands on. Biden, Sunak and von der Leyen have tried to outdo each other in their support for Netanyahu. Here is what ‘defending civilisation’ and ‘Western democracy’ really amount to. 

Highlighting the hypocritical nature of Ireland’s sham neutrality, the Irish ruling class – themselves nothing more than the parasitic hangers-on of Western imperialism – have also played their disgraceful part.


Both Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin were quick to the mark in “unequivocally” condemning Hamas’ attack and re-affirming Israel’s “right to self-defence”.

One can’t help but wondering: where were the “unequivocal” condemnations for the violence the IDF and Zionist settlers have unleashed on Gaza and the West Bank over the last decade? For the expulsions of Palestinians from their homes long before 7 October? Where were the statements about Palestinians’ right to self-defence? 

Not long after images of the atrocities being committed by the Israeli forces started circulating, both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste were forced to slightly backtrack, and supplemented their initial statements with their ‘concerns’, and requests for moderation to the IDF killing machine.

And how could they do otherwise! Tens of thousands marched through the streets of Dublin with Palestinian flags, thousands more all around Ireland. The proud tradition of millions of Irish people lies in a monumental struggle against imperialism and for national independence spanning some seven centuries. The overwhelming majority of workers and young people naturally identify with the plight of the Palestinians and their right to a homeland. 

So Varadkar and Martin had to add a few verbal sops here and there in their speeches. To be sure words that are still far short of anything approaching an actual condemnation of Israel (not to mention taking any practical steps), but that have the objective of creating a layer of fog about their actual position. 

One month and ten thousand victims into the conflict, Varadkar finally admitted (after emphasising once more that he “strongly believes that Israel has the right to defend itself”) that what he’s seeing at the moment is “something approaching revenge”. To be sure, Netanyahu himself promised “a mighty vengeance” in the headlines of all major newspapers just a few hours after Hamas’ attack. It took the Taoiseach four full weeks to see that, apparently.


A lot has recently been said in the press of the similarities between the national struggles of the Irish and of the Palestinian people. 

Undoubtedly, the attitude of solidarity of Irish workers and youth towards Palestine is informed by their own traditions and experience of struggle for national liberation. But so is the attitude of the imperialists and of the Irish ruling class – only from the opposite perspective. 

“Outright” condemnations of carefully selected acts of violence, to justify the collective punishment of a whole community, has been the stock-in-trade of the imperialists during the Troubles, as it is now in Palestine. Today’s hypocritical two-faced statements are reminiscent of the attitude of the ruling class in the South during the Troubles. They would regularly issue a few mealy-mouthed statements in sympathy with the northern nationalist community, but in their deeds they were on the side of British imperialism.

The truth, of course, is that the Irish ruling class couldn’t care less about the suffering of the Palestinians. But the tragedy happening in Gaza puts them in a very uncomfortable position. The problem for them is this. Under capitalism, they cannot have a policy independent of their imperialist masters: they have sold out the country to them

But on the other hand, in Ireland, they simply can’t make the same outrageous statements made by Biden or Sunak without causing an almighty uproar. So they speak out of both sides of their mouths, “we’ll say what we can in order to not get politically annihilated – but fundamentally, we are on the side of the imperialists.” 

In Dublin they talk about the need for a “humanitarian ceasefire.” But when it comes to a meeting of the EU member states, Varadkar goes in with the tail in between his legs, and comes out feeling very “satisfied” with the final agreement: that doesn’t call for a ceasefire – and fully backs Israel’s murderous actions.

And their support for the imperialists is not only in words but also in deeds. 

The government has confirmed the use of Shannon airport for the American military on their way to the conflict region. Despite the outrageous statements by the Israeli embassy on Irish people “funding terrorism” in Palestine, Varadkar has defended maintaining diplomatic relations with Israeli imperialism – Fianna Fáil even invited the ambassador to their Ard Fheis!

In fact, Irish bosses are doing good business with Israel. Despite the pretence of Irish neutrality, arms multinationals that directly or indirectly contribute to the hell in Gaza operate in the 26 counties. One of them is Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of RTX corporation, a company that has welcomed the war in Gaza as a win for their investors. 

Those are just a few examples of the bigger picture. The Irish ruling class is tied hand and foot to the machinations of Western imperialism. Despite all the hypocritical words, that, in the last analysis, is what decides their policy.

Reform or Revolution

After much deliberation, the EU has agreed to call for “pauses” to the conflict. What that exactly means is up to anyone’s interpretation. The word ceasefire was pushed aside as being too radical by these ‘peace-loving’ ladies and gentlemen.

But we have to be clear. Even the call for a ceasefire, or for solutions based on the so-called international rule of law, are, at best, toothless. When a powerful imperialist power is ravaging an oppressed people, pious wishes for peace are of no use to anyone. At worst, the call for “both sides” – the oppressor and the oppressed – to put down their weapons, draws an equivalence between the two sides where none exists.

Communists must of course fight to put an end to the bombing and invasion of Gaza. And we sympathise with the hundreds of thousands of workers and young people around the world picking up the slogan for a ceasefire from the reformists. But we have to ask: what force on Earth would impose a ceasefire on the Israeli war machine? 

Netanyahu has categorically rejected it. Biden has promised unconditional support to Netanyahu. The UN is nothing more than a toothless talking shop (when it’s not busy carrying out the business of US imperialism). The EU can’t even write the word “ceasefire” down on a piece of paper.

Is a peace in Palestine possible on the grounds of ‘International law’? The last 75 years have proved that “peace” in Palestine, on the terms of the imperialists, means a brutal one-sided war against the Palestinian people, and the preparation for new acts of barbarity.

This is the position that the so-called ‘left’ reformists have adopted all over the world. Instead of correctly calling for the only course of action that can achieve a free Palestine – revolutionary action: in Palestine, in the Middle East, and in the western capitalist nations that support Israel – we have pious wishes for peace.

Sinn Féin, which at one point supported armed struggle in Palestine, has adopted precisely this pacifist stance. Their rhetoric has been more radical than Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, but in practice they haven’t gone beyond calls for a ceasefire.

All the indications are that on this issue, as on domestic questions, Sinn Féin are trying to present an image for the Irish capitalist class, that they are a safe pair of hands: a ‘sensible’ opposition in waiting. Illustrative of this, is the recent row over the question of the Israeli ambassador. Their expulsion has previously been supported by Sinn Féin. However, this time around, the line that came from the party centre was to not support the expulsion. 

But when it became known that a motion calling for the ambassador expulsion in Derry city council got voted down precisely because of Sinn Féin’s abstention, then the ground began to shake inside the party. A quick glance at their social media shows the anger of their base: “I have been supporting Sinn Féin for 50 years. I haven’t been waiting for a new Fianna Fáil. Get the Israeli ambassador out”. “I urge you to step up efforts to do more than call for a ceasefire.”

After a few days in which the party leadership defended their position (this is not “a priority”, Mary Lou McDonald stated), they were eventually forced to backtrack. But not to their original stance, rather, they released a carefully worded statement to the effect that the Israeli ambassador’s position “is now untenable.”

Sinn Féin is caught in an insoluble contradiction. It is ‘preparing’ for power in the South, and so on all their policies they are shifting more and more towards “sensible” positions. They are signalling to the imperialists: “You can trust us with power, we can be reasonable!”

However, support for the party isn’t based on their moderation – it is despite this fact! It is based on their republican credentials, their tradition of armed struggle against imperialism, that they were once regarded as a revolutionary party, their anti-establishment rhetoric, and the fact that the establishment still shuns them. 

This is not the first time in the last few months that Sinn Féin’s base has come into conflict with the leadership, for example when it came to the attendance of the coronation celebration. On Palestine they took a step too far, and had to make a temporary retreat. But, if their U-turn managed to bring the situation under control for the time being, power is bound to sharply put the question on the table and things will sooner or later come to a head. 

Revolution Until Victory!

A free Palestine will not come out of bourgeois diplomacy. Communists must fight along completely different lines: those of the class struggle. It would not be the first time that an imperialist war crashes down against a worldwide movement of workers and youth. 

The communists in Ireland must begin by fighting against our own government and its support for the imperialists. It is the same imperialists that have pillaged Ireland for centuries that are now allowing for this massacre to happen. The enemy of Irish workers is the same of the Palestinians: imperialism and capitalism. The USA, Britain and the EU are responsible! Down with imperialism! 

Immediate action must be taken to stop Ireland’s involvement in the slaughter. The Irish working class has a proud tradition of taking collective action against the imperialists and in support of international solidarity. The Dunnes Store strike against South African Apartheid sent shockwaves through the world, and inspired millions, showing what workers’ solidarity can achieve. 

Trade Unions should follow the example of these militant traditions, and pick up the mantle of the fight against the bombardment of Gaza. A workers’ boycott of the Israeli war effort must be implemented, beginning from the arms industry and the tech industry, which in Israel is intrinsically linked with the IDF. Unions must refuse to handle any goods destined for use by the Israeli war machine!

Reprisals against workers and students showing support to Palestine must be fought against with collective action. Trade Unions and Student Unions should organise the fight in defence of free speech. An injury to one is an injury to all! Kick the Zionist bosses out and nationalise their assets! 

Walkouts, demonstrations and strikes should be organised in solidarity with Palestine in every campus around Ireland. All of us should discuss the situation with workmates, classmates and friends. If we organise around a revolutionary programme, we can fight back against the imperialists. 

Above all, we need to overthrow our own government. It is the Irish ruling class that has sold out the country to the imperialists. They won’t take any real action against what is happening because it would mean going against their imperialist masters. The fight against imperialism is linked up with the fight against capitalism and for the socialist revolution. USA out of Shannon! Put a stop to the Irish ruling class’ complicity with imperialist militarism! Kick the Israeli ambassador out of Ireland and the imperialist stooges out of the Dáil!

Ultimately, fighting for socialism and on a programme of international workers’ solidarity across the 32 counties is the most effective way we can fight back against the imperialists and offer our solidarity to the Palestinian workers and youth. For a Socialist United Ireland!

But to fight for revolution, you need to help us build a genuine communist movement in Ireland and all around the world. Join the International Marxist Tendency!

For the world Socialist Revolution!

Revolution until victory! 
Intifada until victory!