On 17 October, the Paris prefecture banned a meeting, which was to be held at the Bourse du Travail the next day, to demand the release of pro-Palestinian activist Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, detained in France for nearly 40 years. On the evening of 18 October, at the time of the meeting, the Paris Labour Exchange was closed under the surveillance of the CRS (riot control police).
To justify this scandalous deprivation of the right to assemble, the banning order signed by Laurent Nuñez, prefect of Paris, states "that due to the Israeli response in the Gaza Strip, there are serious risks that anti-Semitic remarks will be made on the occasion” of the long-planned meeting. To be crystal clear: this meeting would have been an opportunity to castigate not only the French state, which stubbornly refuses to release Georges Abdallah, but also the Zionist state, which is massacring the Palestinians of Gaza. However, Laurent Nuñez works for a government that defends the following idea: attacking the policies of the Israeli government is anti-semitism. The conclusion: criticism of the Israeli government must be prohibited, and therefore public meetings where such criticism “risks” being neutered must be prohibited.
In passing, let us point out that in France truly anti-Semitic remarks and acts are constantly committed by more-or-less fascist organisations, which the bourgeois state spares and protects, because these organisations offer a useful weapon to be deployed as additional forces against the left and the workers' movement in the future.
The banning order signed by Laurent Nuñez also explains that “demonstrations having as their object pro-Palestinian demands were prohibited for the purposes of ensuring the maintenance of public order; that the evolution of the situation and in particular the counter-offensive on the Gaza Strip is likely to amplify demands and protests, to radicalise the pro-Palestinian movement and to import the tensions born from this conflict abroad.”
It is clear that the massacre of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza “radicalises” not only the “pro-Palestinian movement” but also millions of young people and workers who follow these events with burning indignation. They are radically hostile to the crimes of Israeli imperialism. Many of them want to demonstrate this indignation and their support for the struggle of the Palestinian people for their most basic democratic rights. But Laurent Nuñez and his boss, Gérald Darmanin, decided otherwise, in the name of “maintaining public order”. “Public order,” in this case, includes French imperialism’s unwavering support for the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Nothing should disturb this order, not even a public meeting of organisations that have campaigned for many years for the release of Georges Abdallah, the oldest political prisoner in Europe.
According to Laurent Nuñez, the meeting would have contributed to “importing the tensions born from this conflict abroad”. This formulation is very confusing. Were the “tensions” born in France or in Palestine? In Palestine, it is not a question of “tensions”, but of a war. And if the “tensions” were “born” in France, they do not need to be “imported” there. In its very confusion, this formulation aims to deny the feelings of solidarity that millions of young people and workers feel towards the Palestinian people. Under the devious pen of the Police Prefect, these feelings become “tensions”, which have been “imported” – by whom, and by what means? – from lands far from our peaceful shores.
This story of “importation” is grotesque in two other respects. On the one hand, the French government is itself a party to this conflict, because it supports the crimes of the Israeli government. The bans on demonstrations and meetings in France are precisely expressions of this support. On the other hand, it is the government itself which, since 7 October, has continued to “import” into France – that is to say, to exploit – the situation in Israel-Palestine to: 1) develop its racist and reactionary propaganda against immigrants and Muslims; 2) intensify its offensive against France Insoumise and threaten the NPA (among others) with dissolution; 3) launch a brutal assault on the right to demonstrate, the right to assemble and freedom of expression in general – an assault that allows the government to probe the reaction of the major organisations of the labour movement to these type of measures, which will be taken in the future on themes other than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The latest example: this morning, the general secretary of the UD CGT du Nord (59), Jean-Paul Delescaut, was arrested at his home and placed in police custody. He is accused of “apologising for terrorism” because his union branch published a press release calling for a “ceasefire” in Gaza! A mobilisation is underway in Lille to obtain the immediate release of this union leader.
Everyone at the demonstrations on October 22!
Yesterday, the FI, the CGT and dozens of organisations called for demonstrations across the country on 22 October against the massacre of Gazans by the Israeli army. It was time! Until then, the demonstrations – banned and repressed – were mainly called by pro-Palestinian collectives and various small organisations. The passivity of the major organisations of the labour movement encouraged the government in its anti-democratic offensive.
Unsurprisingly, the PS, the Greens and the Communist Party (PCF) are not among the signatories of the call to demonstrate on Sunday. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the leaders of these three parties have completely capitulated to bourgeois public opinion. Furthermore, their main activity these days is to add their own voices to those of the right and the far right in their offensive against Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Mathilde Panot and other leaders of the FI. The attitude of the PCF leadership is particularly striking, because it marks a clear break with the historic position of this party on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Clearly, Fabien Roussel and his entourage are leading their party towards an abyss.
That being said, the position of the leaders of the CGT and the FI is far from satisfactory. In summary, they “call” on the French government to stop behaving like the bourgeois government of an imperialist power. They sow illusions about the UN, as if this “imperialist thieves’ kitchen” – to use Lenin's phrase about the League of Nations, the ancestor of the UN – could contribute even a little to the cause of the Palestinians.
Revolution activists will participate in the 22 October demonstrations under their own flag and their own slogans, namely:
- No to the invasion and bombing of Gaza.
- For a mass uprising against the occupation, on both sides of the green line.
- Release of all political prisoners.
- End land theft by Zionist settlers – and return all stolen land.
- No to oppression. For equal rights for all people, regardless of ethnicity or religion.
- For a socialist federation of the whole of Palestine, within a socialist federation of the Middle East.
- Intifada until victory!