In France, as elsewhere, the extremely brutal response of the Israeli government to the Hamas attack on 7 October has aroused the indignation of millions of young people and workers. But in the name of "Israel's right to defend itself" and "the fight against terrorism and anti-Semitism", the Macron government decreed that this indignation was unacceptable and must be silenced, at all costs.
Demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza – and the Palestinian people in general – were banned by the government, then violently repressed. On 10 October, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, announced that the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) was the target of an “investigation for advocating terrorism”. The day before, Darmanin threatened to “initiate dissolution procedures” against any organisation “calling for hatred, intifada, advocating terrorism”. The leaders of France Insoumise, whose position is (unfortunately) very moderate, are constantly accused of fueling terrorism and anti-Semitism, or even of being “masked” anti-Semites themselves. In Toulouse, the mayor Macron-supporting Jean-Luc Moudenc, demanded the cancellation of a solidarity meeting for Palestine, which was to be held on the premises of the CGT, at the Bourse du Travail. Moudenc even declared that he reserved the right to contact the police prefect if the CGT did not comply. And so on.
Of course, none of this is really new. French imperialism is a solid ally of Israeli imperialism, whose crimes it has defended for decades. The accusation of anti-Semitism is regularly thrown in the face of anyone who dares to criticise the reactionary policies of the Zionist state. But against a backdrop of the deep crisis of French capitalism and the extreme fragility of the Macron government, since 7 October the repression of the solidarity movement with the Palestinian people has marked a turning point. The French labour movement has a duty to react – not only with words, but also with action.
The threats of dissolution towards the NPA, in particular, are absolutely scandalous. Darmanin places calls for “hate”, “intifada” and “terrorism” in the same category. This amalgamation would simply be astonishingly stupid – which is always possible with Darmanin – if it were not deliberate. By identifying the intifada – which refers to a mass uprising against the oppressor – and terrorism, Darmanin threatens anyone who supports any legitimate revolt of the Palestinian people against the oppression they have suffered for decades.
We do not agree with every detail of the NPA's position on the current conflict, but one thing is perfectly clear: the NPA is not calling for terrorist acts; it is calling for a new intifada in Palestine. The IMT also has that position, as do many other organisations. Is it forbidden, from now on, to wish for the uprising of the Palestinian people against the reactionary government of Netanyahu? This is what the French Interior Minister says.
The threats against the NPA, the attacks against FI, the bans on demonstrations and meetings must not go unanswered by the political and trade union organisations of the labour movement. The problem is that most leaders of the left and the trade union movement have bent under the pressure of the anti-Palestinian propaganda, which has saturated television sets since 7 October. Communist Party Fabien Roussel, in particular, trampled in a few hours the historic position of the PCF on this issue, by placing an ‘equal’ sign between the Hamas attack and the Israeli response. ‘Left’ journalist and politician François Ruffin does the same. The position of the CGT leadership is barely better, that is to say very bad. The position of the Socialist Party, unsurprisingly, is in no way different from that of the government. It is precisely all these capitulations to bourgeois public opinion that allow Macron, Darmanin and others to threaten the NPA and other small organisations showing solidarity with the Palestinian people.
All left-wing activists must analyse this situation in the context of the continued development of police and judicial repression of youth and the workers' movement in France. Bans on demonstrations have multiplied in recent years, under absolutely inadmissible pretexts. When permitted, protests are often brutally repressed by the police. Finally, there is a link – of class – between Darmanin's threats against the NPA and the wave of judicial repression that is currently hitting hundreds of union activists, who are accused of having fought against pension reform, between last January and June.
The activists of the CGT, the FI, the PCF and all organisations of the labour movement must react and demand that their leaders organise opposition to the repression of the solidarity movement with Palestine. They must also demand that their organisations participate fully in this movement. This must take the form, to begin with, of large demonstrations – authorised or not – against the aggression in Gaza, against the crimes of the Israeli government and, yes, for a new and victorious intifada in Palestine!