At the time of writing, French police are besieging a gunman in a house in Toulouse, South-West France. The gunman is believed to be an Algerian Al Qa’eda supporter, and to be responsible for the murderous attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse that left three children and a rabbi dead, as well as earlier shootings of members of the French armed forces which killed three men.
Much is not clear about the precise circumstances of this case. However, there is little doubt that this is linked in some way with the politics of the Middle East and that, if the reports of an Al Qa’eda connection turn out to be accurate, it is just the latest in a series of indefensible acts committed by people who claim to support the Palestinians by attacking civilians in Western countries as well as those connected in some way with Israel, including Jewish civilians.
Socialists should have no hesitation in condemning all deliberate attacks on civilians, which simply copy the methods of the worst racists who routinely kill both civilians, and children, of peoples such as the Palestinians who are the victims of oppression. ‘Fighting back’ by making civilians and even children on the ‘other side’ of the divide between the oppressor and the oppressed into victims does not do anything at all to combat oppression. All it does is morally tarnish those who support such actions, and allow the spokespeople for the oppressors to portray ‘their’ people as being ‘victims too’ of terror and murder, thus rendering the conflict even more intractable.
However, we should also bear in mind that however disgusting and counter-productive the actions of these people may be, they are not the main enemy. The violent deaths of the rabbi and the three children, however heart-rending they may be, are no more heart-rending than the deaths of the many hundreds of Palestinian children who have died at the hands of Israeli state terrorists, or the millions of civilians – including hundreds of thousands of children – who have been victims of sanctions and war in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past twenty years or so, mainly at the hands of Western imperialism.
The same Western imperialism – being pushed hard by Israeli politicians who want to do it sooner rather than later – is now threatening to visit the same horrors on Iran. The manufactured ‘casus belli’ about supposed nuclear weapons is every bit as phoney as the accusations about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that were used to justify invading Iraq. Many more children will die as a result of such a criminal attack than are ever likely to die at the hands of vengeful Al Qa’edists.
So while we must condemn this action, it should be borne in mind that this is only a symptomatic response to a much greater series of crimes against civilians – including children – by imperialism and Zionism around the world. It will no doubt be used to foment more killings, more warmongering, more ‘crackdowns’ against immigrants in France and elsewhere, and to give a boost to Sarkozy’s up to now seemingly doomed campaign for re-election, not to mention the far right. It will also of course be used by Zionists, highlighting the deaths of these three Jewish children to excuse and justify their own massacres of Palestinian children, such as the targeting of a school in Gaza with white phosphorous during the 2009 ‘Operation Cast Lead’ massacre.
We should have no truck with reactionary, racist hypocrites who will try to exploit these crimes to incite the commission of much greater crimes by imperialism and Israel.