Apparently satisfied by its terrorist slaughter of at least 162 Palestinians, including many children, its wounding of over a thousand and its terrible destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure, Israel has agreed to a new “ceasefire” agreement. All revolutionaries who stand steadfast in defense of the Palestinians against Zionism’s monstrous crimes should be clear about what this means:
- The security forces of Hamas in Gaza are expected to repress Palestinian resistance to Israel’s murderous attacks (as they were already doing before the latest Israeli attack);
- Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government, which is now sharing power with the forces of military dictatorship, is expected to continue to hold down the masses in Egypt, block efforts by Egyptians to act in solidarity with the Palestinians and to go on with its program of destroy tunnels to Gaza (Mohamed Morsi has already overseen the destruction of more tunnels in his brief time as President than Hosni Mubarak did in all his years in office);
- and in “exchange” for these promises of collaboration, Israel will end its bombing campaign and return to its supposedly “peaceful” enforcement of its land, sea and air blockade of Gaza, which saw it kill 186 Palestinians and injure over a thousand more through periodic incursions in the previous 11 months of “cease-fire.”
Thus we see that in the shadow of the Zionist state, “peace” can only mean acceptance of Zionist starvation and murder, during which Israel will only prepare its next horrors. Indeed there is reason to think that Israel’s attack on Gaza was just practice for an attack on Iran.
BEHIND ISRAEL’S LATEST MASSACRE
The question of who provoked the latest bloodshed is, of course, absurd. The Palestinian people have had their country stolen from them, and each new Zionist slaughter is meant to defend Israel’s conquests and extend them further. The Zionist state’s blockade of Gaza sees it regularly shoot or shell Palestinians near its border fence, and its forces understandably face attacks by Palestinian guerillas. Israeli forces always seek to set an example by responding to any violence with disproportionate force, to which guerillas respond by firing rockets toward Israel, which mostly land in open areas and rarely harm buildings or civilians. Israel then steps up its attacks and hits more civilians, many of them children and adolescents.
Israel can therefore always find an incident with which to dishonestly justify a new military offensive against Gaza. But why did Israel choose this time and not others to attack? What did it hope to achieve?
It is hardly a coincidence that the Netanyahu government chose to launch this attack just two months before elections are held in Israel. The fact that, thanks to the Zionist state, Israelis enjoy land and the benefits of apartheid rule over that land encourages Israelis to identify with the Zionist state and its terrible racism. In this context, championing new slaughters of Palestinians in the name of “defending Israel” is a cheap way for Israeli politicians to bolster their support, and so we have seen a competition between Israeli politicians to see who could issue the most bloodthirsty, racist comments encouraging further oppression and slaughter of Palestinians. Perhaps the worst example of this was Interior Minister Eli Yishai who suggested “bombing Gaza back into the middle ages.” But supposedly “left-wing” politicians like Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yechimovich also enthusiastically supported the massacre, actually attacking the government from the right and saying that the attacks must not “converge to some temporary, easy and dubious ceasefire.”
The attack was also a reaction to the re-election of Barack Obama in the United States. Believing that the Republicans’ candidate Mitt Romney would give Israel greater freedom to launch attacks on Iran and other targets, Netanyahu had tried to help him defeat Obama. When that effort failed, Netanyahu needed to show that this did not mean he had lost the support of the U.S. for Israel’s use of its military might against the Palestinians. And because U.S. domination of the economically vital Middle East relies on Israel, Obama obliged Netanyahu and declared Israel’s unprovoked act of mass murder against Gaza’s defenseless population to be legitimate act of “self-defense.”
Of course, Israel’s massacre had broader goals. The wave of popular revolutions that have swept the region have threatened Israel greatly. In Egypt, the Zionists lost the dictator Hosni Mubarak, whom they could trust to enforce peace on its border. While Mohamed Morsi has shown his willingness to continue Mubarak’s collaboration with Israel, he faces more popular pressure to defend the Palestinians. And in Syria, Israel risks losing the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, which has also enforced the peace with Israel and accepted its occupation of the Golan Heights.
Morsi’s predictable refusal to offer any real opposition to Israel’s massacre has allowed Israel to reaffirm that even with the Muslim Brotherhood enjoying a share of political power, the Egyptian state’s collaboration with the Zionist state must remain unchanged. And by provoking the U.S. and other “democratic” imperialist governments to declare its massacres in Gaza to be legitimate, the Zionist state has eased pressure on Assad’s dictatorship in Syria, which is using the same methods to try to bomb the popular revolution there into submission. Indeed many prominent Zionists have identified with Assad: for example, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, the son of Israel’s former Chief Rabbi and spiritual leader of the Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, declared that “the army has got to learn from the Syrians how to slaughter and crush the enemy.”
However the Egyptian masses’ revolutionary spirit has not been broken, and Israel’s exposure of the new government’s weakness in the face of Zionist aggression could also weaken it in the face of continued democratic and working-class struggles there. And though there is an ongoing a struggle for the “soul” of Syria’s revolution between democratic forces and sectarian Islamists, the latter remain a minority of the rebels. Despite the terrible death and destruction that Assad’s dictatorship has inflicted, the popular uprising against his rule could still succeed. Israel could still find itself confronted by two governments on its border under popular pressure to act in solidarity with the Palestinians.
In the “Occupied Territories” of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel will of course continue to find a Palestinian population desperately wanting to fight back against it. If Israel’s goal was to break that spirit of resistance, it has again failed miserably. That’s why the Zionists will continue to rely on the Palestinians’ own leaders to keep the masses down.
THE CRISIS OF PALESTINIAN LEADERSHIP
According to Zionist propaganda, Israel wants peace but can find no partner on the side of the Palestinians. This is, of course, a lie.The unfortunate truth is that Hamas announced its willingness to acknowledge Israel’s existence within the ’67 borders in exchange for a 10-year ceasefire. In 2011 it announced its willingness to sign a reconciliation deal with the Palestinian Authority in exchange for ceasing its military activity. However, Israel prefers to portray Hamas as an enemy that is responsible for all the actions of all Palestinian factions in Gaza, assassinate its leaders, destabilize its rule, and push it towards military retaliation, which can then be used as an excuse to target Palestinian civilians and break their spirit of resistance. Thus Israel began its latest war on Gaza by assassinating the head of Hamas’ armed forces, Ahmad Al-Ja’abari, whom it labeled as a terrorist but who had actually been responsible for enforcing the previous ceasefire with Israel against other Palestinian factions’ attempts to fight back.
Since Israel only exists due to its role as a local oppressor, it must constantly undermine the Palestinian leadership. It stops short at breaking these leaderships completely, however, because it knows that they can only be replaced by more radical forces. This has been the case in Palestine for decades, but it is especially true with regards to Hamas in Gaza.
It remains to ask the supporters of the two-state solution why they think that Israel’s attitude to a Palestinian Bantustan would be any different?
For years, the Palestinian Authority has been policing the Palestinians in the West Bank in Israel’s service. Mahmoud Abbas recently went so far as to assure the Zionist media that as long as he is in power, he will prevent a Palestinian uprising. He even went further than that, testing the Palestinian masses’ steadfastness in upholding their basic demand for the right of refugees to return to their homeland by saying that while he is a refugee from Safed (inside present-day Israel), he will not demand to return there as part of a peace agreement. Palestinian outrage and protests quickly forced him to take back his words and reassert his commitment to the struggle for the right of return. His “threat” to seek acknowledgment for Palestine as a non-member state from the UN is nothing but a desperate attempt to retain some legitimacy – the UN is controlled by imperialist states that support Israel, who will never accept the Palestinians having a meaningful place in the organization. And while Hamas has continued to uphold, in words, the demands of the Palestinians like the rights of return – although this is more due to Israel’s rejection of negotiations with it than to its being a principled organization – it has suggested on several occasions to have a long term ceasefire with Israel, no doubt in preparation for a better deal in the future.
Thus both Fatah and Hamas have been seeking a peace with the Zionist state. That is because both parties of the Palestinian leadership represent the interests of Palestinian capitalists in the West Bank and Gaza. Fatah represents the comprador bourgeoisie which profits from its connections to the occupier and to other imperialist forces (a notorious example is Ahmed Qurei, whose cement company works with the Zionist state in building the apartheid wall in the West Bank). Hamas represents the new bourgeoisie in the Gaza Strip, which makes its profits through its control of the tunnels – the most important passageway for commodities into the strip nowadays. Their willingness to sell out the rights of the Palestinians is an expression of this class reality: scared of the masses, these leaderships must rely on their own armed elite groups and on dirty deals with the imperialists to stay in power. If they relied on the masses’ power to struggle instead, they would have to also deal with the masses’ demands for a better standard of living and control over their own society, which is completely incompatible with a capitalist regime. This is why they have substituted mass action and mass resistance with, on the one hand, with guerrilla warfare, and on the other, dirty deals with the imperialists.
The Palestinian people can legitimately ask their leaders: where is your “national project”? Is giving up on 80 percent of Palestine and acting as a subcontractor of Israeli oppression a national project or an act of treason?
THE WAY FORWARD
It was the first intifada that forced the acknowledgment of Palestinian rights, if only in words. It took the Oslo Accords swindle to stop it. Mass action, which terrifies the representatives of the Palestinians capitalists, new and old, is the only real way forward for the Palestinian struggle. The question remains: what force in society can organize and lead these actions?
The capitalist profit-making interests of both Fatah and Hamas push both groups to accommodate themselves with Zionism as well as to police the Palestinian masses and keep them down. That’s why the future of the anti-Zionist struggle rests with the working-class and poor masses of Palestinians, who have no interest in maintaining the current arrangement. But especially because it has the full support of imperialism, the Israeli state is too powerful to be overthrown by the Palestinians alone.
Also, the Israeli Jewish working-class as a whole cannot be viewed as a possible revolutionary ally of the Palestinians because its citizenship in the colonial settler state gives it a stake in maintaining the Zionist state as its source of land and power over the Palestinians. For this reason it is most likely that only a minority of Israeli Jewish workers will be able to be won to the cause of Palestinian liberation. It will be a great challenge to minimize the Israeli masses’ active support for the Zionist state by allaying fears that Palestinian liberation will mean driving them into the sea.
These factors make clear that Palestinian liberation will require the power of oppressed masses of the entire region. In Tunisia and Egypt, the popular revolutions have been temporarily been stalled by the rise to power of bourgeois Islamists. In Syria, the masses continue to struggle in the face of heinous violence by Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship. Again, the only road forward will be for the working-class and poor masses to take the lead in the struggle for democracy by also fighting to overthrow capitalist rule and build socialist societies of freedom and abundance. Such revolutions are the only road to Palestinian liberation.
Peace will only be built in the region when all injustice is overthrown. In Palestine, that means the end of the state of Israel, which can only rule by apartheid discrimination and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians inside its borders and permanent war with the Palestinians and their allies beyond. It means the full right of return of all the Palestinian refugees to one democratic state, from the river to the sea. Because such a democratic state would be dedicated to overcoming the national oppression of the Palestinian people, we believe its national character would naturally be determined by the Palestinian masses, who would be its overwhelming majority. Israel’s Jews should have full civil rights as a minority in such a state and thus be able to live free of any form of religious or racial persecution. But Zionists must be denied any right to keep stolen land or property or continue their apartheid rule.
By combining an uncompromising struggle for the national liberation of the Palestinian people with a defense of the Israeli Jewish workers and poor people against their capitalist exploiters and an appeal to them to give up their claims to their privileged position benefitting from Zionist rule over the Palestinians, we in the Internationalist Socialist League in Israel (Occupied Palestine) aim to win as many Israeli Jews to the side of the revolution and minimize Zionist resistance to Palestinian liberation and socialist revolution. But by far our most important and urgent task is to contribute to the building of a vanguard political party based on this program in all of Occupied Palestine – both the ’48 and ’67 territories as well as among the refugees, to offer leadership to this struggle. We appeal to readers of this statement who are interested in these ideas to contact us to discuss them further. The decisive battles for Palestinian liberation are approaching. The decisive battles against imperialist capitalism all around the world are approaching. There is no time to waste.