End the Israeli War on Gaza and Palestine by: Peter Bohmer

June 8, 2024 at the Benefit for Gaza
Updated June 11, 2024  
Talk by Peter Bohmer,  Palestine Action of South Sound (PASS)

Eight months ago, Israel began a genocidal war against Gaza and the further increase of repression in the West Bank including thousands imprisoned, and expansion of the settlements there. Torture is commonplace of Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank and especially of prisoners in Gaza. 90 per cent of the population of Gaza is hungry, famine is occurring.  Besides the 15,000 children killed, almost all Palestinian babies and young children are likely to have permanent health problems if they live from Israel’s systematically starving them and destroying the health care and educational system. Over a million Palestinians were forced to move to Rafah in southern Gaza fleeing their homes beginning May 6th.  A million Palestinians in Rafah have been forced to flee again, under the threat of immediate murder by Israel, with no safe place to go to, nor to a place that can sustain life. 

Not only is the United States government complicit with and participating in Israel’s genocidal war but also many U.S corporations. A major criminal is the Boeing Corporation.  Since late May, Israel has used the so-called precision bomb, the GBU-39, made by the Boeing Corporation to kill hundreds of Palestinians.  This includes a “safe area” in Rafah that Israel had said it wouldn’t bomb on May 28th, a United Nations School in central Gaza on Thursday, June 6th, and on June 7th near Gaza City. Israel claims they are targeting Hamas fighters but even if this is so, it is a war crime under international law because of the many more times civilians killed, one third are children. Boeing is increasing production and rushing orders of these bombs to Israel. It is an immoral but profitable business for Boeing.

What can we do? Let us organize against Boeing and target them by education of the public, including talking with their workers and labor unions, doing many types of protest including mass direct action, going to their stockholder meetings demanding they stop their contracts with Israel, and deepening campaigns demanding divestment from Boeing and other connections with Israel from institutions such as the University of Washington.  Boeing is especially vulnerable to this campaign as a result of its already weakened position because of the continuing major safety defects of its planes. Its stock has fallen by one quarter this year and a campaign focusing on divestment from Boeing can further hurt their image and lower the value of the value of their  stock incentivizing them to stop producing murder weapons for the Israeli military. 

On May 31st, Biden made a proposal for a cease fire in Gaza. He claimed he was publicizing a three phase Israeli proposal. In Phase One, in addition to a cease fire by Israel and Hamas, Israel would remain in Gaza but withdraw from population centers there, allow the population to return to cities there, and allow up to 600 trucks of aid daily into Gaza. Some of the Israeli hostages would be traded for a larger number of Palestinian prisoners. This Phase One would last at least six weeks while a permanent cease was being negotiated.

In Phase Two which would begin after a permanent cease fire was negotiated, Israel would withdraw from Gaza and all the remaining Israeli hostages, including Israeli soldiers, would be released for a larger number of Palestinian prisoners. It isn’t specified how Gaza would be governed. 

In Phase Three, the remains of Israeli hostages who had died would be returned, the rubble would be cleared and there would be a three-to-five-year reconstruction period financed by the U.S., European Union and international institutions.

If this plan were enacted it would be a major step forward although neither the underlying ongoing Nakba nor the Israeli occupation and Zionist domination are being addressed.

This is my interpretation of Biden’s proposal and the current situation as of June 11, 2024. When Biden said he was publicizing an Israeli proposal, he may have been referring to, not the Netanyahu government, but some of the other Zionist parties such as Gantz and his National Unity Party, and former Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, who have fully supported the invasion, including of Rafah. They probably favor a pause for now in the Israeli war. The Netanyahu led Israeli government is willing to accept Phase One, a temporary cease fire, but is committed to the further destruction of Gaza and Hamas after six weeks.  Hamas leaders have said they regarded Biden’s proposal positively although they haven’t yet fully accepted it. 

Israel is willing to agree to a temporary, probably six weeks cease fire, while Hamas is demanding a permanent cease fire. This is the key and significant difference. It is another Netanyahu lie that if he accepts this U.S. proposal, his government will fall because fascist members of his cabinet would leave it, and he would no longer have a majority in the parliament.  Smotrich and Ben-Gvir are publicly committed to continuing a total war against Gaza and for the permanent Israeli settlement and occupation of Gaza.  However, even if they resign from the Israeli cabinet, some of the slightly more liberal Zionist parties have stated they would support Netanyahu and not oppose him until the next elections if he accepted this proposal.  It is also likely that at the end of the six-week, Phase One period, Lapid, Gantz and their political parties, would support Israeli going back to war claiming Hamas had broken the temporary cease fire.

What is the U.S. position and what should we do as Palestine solidarity and human rights activists? The U.S. proposal is because the Democratic Party doesn’t want to lose in November and because the global protests and strong criticisms of the United States support for Israel are increasingly isolating the U.S. internationally.

On June 10th, the United Nations Security Council endorsed and voted for this United States proposal. This is a positive step by the United States who has consistently vetoed permanent UN cease fire proposals before this one. 

However, the Biden administration up to the present is continuing its military support for Israel. Israel couldn’t continue its murderous offensive without it. Let us continue to demand the end of U.S. military aid to Israel. The US is also providing cover for Israel by condemning the International Court of Justice move towards charging Israel with genocide, and their demanding the end of the Israeli bombing and invasion of Rafah. The Biden administration also opposes the International Criminal Court charging Netanyahu and defense minister Gallant with war crimes; and opposes the growing global recognition of Palestine. 

The U.S. position is a change from the 100 per cent embrace of Israel in October but its significance is limited unless the Biden administration threatens to and substantially cuts aid to Israel until it agrees to and puts into practice a permanent cease fire. 

Moreover, Secretary of State Blinken who is in the Middle East, continues to claim as has President Biden that the onus is on Hamas to accept this peace plan; that Hamas not Israel is what is holding it up. However, Israel again is being the rejectionist power by opposing a permanent cease fire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. If there is a temporary cease fire, Phase One, our challenge is to help make the temporary cease fire a permanent one.  This didn’t happen last November, when the cease fire lasted only a week.  Our task continues to be, to do what we can to stop US complicity with this war. 

It is worth carefully studying this and related proposals. Sadly, but not surprisingly, our local Congresswoman, Strickland, and our Washing State Senators, Murray and Cantwell, have not supported a permanent cease fire and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and continue to support full US military aid to Israel. This is unacceptable. 

I continue to be inspired and am hopeful by the growing movement against the Israel and US War against all of Palestine, including the West Bank. 

A few important recent developments:

Growing daily is the number of countries signing on to the South Africa charge of genocide against Israel. Also significant is the growing division within the European Union; the breaking with the United States by Ireland, Norway and Spain in recognizing a Palestinian State. These countries are calling for the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank, Gaza and from East Jerusalem, whose boundaries Israel is continuing to expand. 

The graduate student workers at the University of California (UC) campuses, who are represented by the United Autoworkers (UAW), voted to and went on strike at several UC campuses. They struck against the repression of those on these campuses who are actively opposing the Israeli war and supporting a permanent cease fire. Union opposition to U.S. support for Israel is growing and different from the Vietnam war where most labor unions supported the U.S. war.

Pro-Palestinian encampments on college campuses, although often being attacked and closed by the police and university administrations in collaboration with local, State and probably the Federal government have sprung up again and again, for example at Columbia and MIT. Commitments to divest from corporations complicit with Israel has been progressing at a few institutions, e.g., Union Theological Seminary.  Actions in solidarity with Palestine have been a common feature at college and high school graduations.  A challenge will be to maintain this movement over the summer and to continue organizing even if there is a cease fire until the end of the Israeli occupation. 

Closer to Olympia, there was a 25 mile walk of almost 1000 people, the length of Gaza, for peace and justice for Palestine, in the Seattle area, Sunday, May 26th

On June 6th, there was a walkout and march of 80 students from the three of the local high schools, mainly Olympia High School but also Capital and Avanti; they met and then rallied at the State Capital. It was organized and led by high school students. Thank YOU!

Let us not only demand an immediate and permanent cease fire and the end of US military aid to Israel but also a longer run solution where there is equality and justice for all people living in what was historic Palestine. Where there is the end of the Israeli occupation and the oppression of Palestinians, the right of Palestinians to return to their communities, and the right of Jewish people to live there but not dominate, the end of Zionism. 

Let us connect the struggle of Palestinians for land and self-determination to the struggles of all oppressed people, globally and in the U.S.  against capitalism and for a world where there is climate, economic, racial, immigrant and gender justice, the end of poverty, alienation and repression--an ecological, feminist, democratic and participatory socialist one.  


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