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With Palestine and Ukraine against Russia, NATO and Israel Greta leads the way!
by Yorgos Mitralias
6 January 2024

And yet, despite the gloomy news, despite the rampant barbarism, despite the depression that pervades everything, there is still light and hope! And this light and this hope are the young people who are fighting at the same time on all the great fronts where humanity is measuring itself against death in its final struggle to exist: on the fronts of climate catastrophe and injustice, of Palestine and the Ukraine, on the fronts of the struggle of the poor, the oppressed and the humiliated throughout the world.

And the most emblematic representative of this new generation resisting and counter-attacking is, of course, the young Swedish world citizen Greta Thunberg, who denounces and fights both the Israeli genocidaires of the Palestinians and the Russian invaders of the Ukraine, Putin’s obscurantist, imperialist Russia and militarist, equally imperialist NATO. And of course, above all, the capitalists and their governments who are methodically destroying our planet’s climate, preparing the most nightmarish future for humankind. And all this against the mainstream, despite the campaign of denigration and intimidation against her, fighting against all imperialisms without choosing one imperialism against another, one executioner and his victim more than another. And, above all, systematically putting her words into practice, even if they often land her in a police station or prison, handcuffed...

And to put it in concrete terms, here’s what Greta wrote a few weeks ago, about the Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinian people, provoking anathemas and open threats - even against her life(!) - from the genocidaires who govern Israel, and their international accomplices:

More than 15,000 people, of whom at least 6,000 were children. That’s how many people Israel has reportedly killed in the Gaza Strip in a matter of weeks – and those numbers are still rising. Israel has bombed basic societal infrastructure and civilian targets such as hospitals, schools, shelters and refugee camps. Israel has imposed a siege, preventing food, medicine, water and fuel from reaching the 2.3 million Palestinians trapped in the occupied Gaza Strip, leading Oxfam to accuse Israel of employing “starvation as a weapon of war”.

Dozens of United Nations experts have described the situation as “a genocide in the making”, hundreds of international scholars have warned of an unfolding genocide and prominent Israeli genocide expert Raz Segal has called it “a textbook case of genocide”. But most of the world, particularly the so-called global north, is looking the other way.

Despite these horrors, some have chosen to focus the public debate on attempts to delegitimise statements about Gaza made by young people in the climate justice movement. Contrary to what many have claimed, Fridays for Future has not “been radicalised” or “become political”. We have always been political, because we have always been a movement for justice. Standing in solidarity with Palestinians and all affected civilians has never been in question for us.

Advocating for climate justice fundamentally comes from a place of caring about people and their human rights. That means speaking up when people suffer, are forced to flee their homes or are killed – regardless of the cause. It is the same reason why we have always held strikes in solidarity with marginalised groups – including those in Sápmi, Kurdistan, Ukraine and many other places – and their struggles for justice against imperialism and oppression. Our solidarity with Palestine is no different, and we refuse to let the public focus shift away from the horrifying human suffering that Palestinians are currently facing.

Due to the amount of misdirected attention on us, as well as the number of misinterpretations of our position, we would like to once again clarify our stance. All Fridays for Future groups are autonomous, and this article represents the views of nobody but FFF Sweden.

The horrific murders of Israeli civilians by Hamas cannot in any way legitimise Israel’s ongoing war crimes. Genocide is not self-defence, nor is it in any way a proportionate response. It also cannot be ignored that this comes within the broader context of Palestinians having lived under suffocating oppression for decades, in what Amnesty International has defined as an apartheid regime. While all of this alone would be reason enough to comment on the situation, as a Swedish movement, we also have a responsibility to speak up due to Swedish military cooperation with Israeli arms companies, which makes Sweden complicit in Israel’s occupation and mass killing.

We are now seeing a sharp increase in antisemitic and Islamophobic statements, actions and hate crimes in Sweden and the world. The leader of the largest member of Sweden’s rightwing governing bloc is speaking of demolishing mosques, and the Israeli flag was burned in front of a synagogue in Malmö. This is unacceptable. We unreservedly condemn all forms of discrimination, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. Everyone speaking out on this crisis has a responsibility to distinguish between Hamas, Muslims and Palestinians; and between the state of Israel, Jewish people and Israelis.

We grieve the lives lost over the past several weeks and are appalled by the fact that those numbers have been allowed to continue to rise. The death rate in the Gaza Strip is at a historic high, with thousands of children killed in just a few weeks. This amount of suffering is incomprehensible and cannot be allowed to continue. When UN experts call upon the world to act to prevent a genocide, as fellow humans, we have a responsibility to speak out.

Demanding an end to this inexcusable violence is a question of basic humanity, and we call on everyone who can to do so. Silence is complicity. You cannot be neutral in an unfolding genocide. [1]

Of course, Greta doesn’t say all this in private, but she shouts it out loud and clear, not only by taking part but also by organizing demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinians wherever she happens to be. And, at every opportunity, she expresses her solidarity with the Ukrainian people, who are resisting Putin’s Great-Russian imperialism. Addressing the Ukrainian people last year, she declared that “All I can say is that we support you, we see everything that is happening. The attention of the whole world is now focused on Ukraine and Russia. We will not stand idly by. Be strong, we are with you,”

However, this support for the Ukrainians hasn’t stopped the Kremlin-controlled Russian press from turning Greta into a Russian ally against NATO. The reason for this propaganda hoax is that Greta had publicly approved a photo of her young comrades holding placards with the slogan “No to Russia - No to NATO - No to war”. By isolating “No to NATO” from their boss’s other two anti-Russian slogans, the Russian media have done nothing more than what their Western colleagues, and some dishonest left-wingers, do all the time: they slice and dice Greta’s words and actions, highlighting what suits their interests and glossing over the rest that is directed against them. Thus, for example, the West made a big fuss about Greta’s heated argument with Putin in 2019, when the latter, reacting to Greta’s speech at the UN, showed pitiful paternalism by calling her a misinformed “kind girl” who doesn’t understand how complex today’s world is!

However, it was with the same paternalistic tone of a shoddy prosecutor that the famous German magazine Der Spiegel recently attacked Greta, calling her “naive or perhaps anti-Semitic” when she dared to demonstrate in the streets of Amsterdam in solidarity with the Palestinians. Apparently because, according to the good German magazine, only “naive” and “anti-Semitic” people can feel solidarity with the Palestinian civilians massacred by the Israeli army. Worse still, she was subjected to hysterical attacks, even going so far as to identify her with... Hitler Youth (!), when Greta dared to chant, along with other demonstrators, the slogan Krossa Sionismen (crush Zionism) in front of the Israeli embassy in Stockholm. [2]

And all this without forgetting that Western “liberals” went so far as to threaten her... with a “bullet between the eyes” [3] when Greta denounced them with the same words she uses against Putin and his acolytes, both of whom persist in emitting ever more greenhouse gases, thereby committing the greatest of crimes against the planet and its inhabitants. Moreover, when Greta declares that “to save the planet, the world must get rid of capitalism”, this categorical statement sounds like a declaration of war against all of them, without exception...

Greta is emblematic of our times for another reason too: because she rallies against herself the most heterogeneous and historically unprecedented coalition of bloodthirsty tyrants, billionaire capitalists, wealthy bourgeoisie and rude dictators and well-mannered murderous democrats, who fight each other but are united by their common passion for power and greed for ever greater profits. But by provoking this unprecedented unanimity and rallying all these destroyers of humanity against her, Greta reveals to everyone the essence of things, the perpetrators and those responsible for today’s widespread historical crisis. Moreover, since she agrees with the great Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti (22 years in Israeli jails!), who declares himself “peaceful but not a pacifist”, Greta appears to be the sworn enemy number one of “those above”, and the main source of militant inspiration for the multitude of “those below” and their revolted avant-gardes. As for today’s disoriented and confused left, Greta’s clear mind could be useful in clarifying its ideas, priorities and orientations once and for all...

Yorgos Mitralias

Journalist, Giorgos Mitralias is one of the founders and leaders of the Greek Committee Against the Debt, a member of the international CADTM network.