A statement by the ISL, the section of the RCIT in Israel/Occupied Palestine, 20.12.2021
The Zionist state is escalating its attacks on Syria. There have been many attacks in the form of missiles – as well as assassinations and air raids carried by Israel since the civil war in Syria began in 2011. Israel attacked the Syrian army when stray fire – whether by the Syrian army or by rebels – fell within the Israeli-occupied Syrian Heights in 1967, when arms convoys delivering to Hezbollah passed near the border, and also launched attacks on Iran-backed fighters when they launched rocket fire. Israel acknowledged carrying out hundreds of strikes in Syria during the 10-year civil war between the revolutionary forces and the butchering regime, to end what it calls Iran’s “military entrenchment” and to stop shipments of Iranian weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and other Shia militias. Many attacks took place in the southwest of Syria, where Iranian forces and Shia militias have bases, but also in the central cities of Homs and Hama, the northern city of Aleppo, and the town of Albu Kamal on the eastern border with Iraq. On 24 November, Syrian state media reported that two civilians were killed in an Israeli strike in Homs province. The SOHR put the death toll at four, including two who it said lost their lives when a Syrian surface-to-air missile fell to the earth. [I]
According to Al Jazeera, three Syrian pro-government fighters in Quneitra, near the Golan Heights were killed by Israel. On April 23, 2017. Israel attacked a weapons supply hub operated by Hezbollah near Damascus airport On April 27, 2017. Israel bombed a Syrian government facility depot thought to be associated with the country’s chemical weapons production. On September 7, 2017, Israel killed several Hezbollah fighters, including Jihad Mughniyeh, son of a slain military leader, in an air raid on Quneitra. On January 19, 2015, Israel Assassinated Hezbollah’s Samir Kuntar on the outskirts of Damascus. [II [
On June 8, Israeli warplanes attacked Syria’s northern frontier. The Zionist air force fired missiles at three military targets near the cities of Damascus and Homs, killing seven soldiers, including a colonel.
“The Israel Defense Forces, following standard practice, declined to comment on the incursion into Syrian airspace. But intelligence analysts in Western capitals quickly observed a distinction in the operation: While previous Israeli attacks in Syria nearly always targeted Iranian proxy forces and arms shipments, the June 8 strike was aimed at Syrian military facilities — all with links to the country’s former chemical weapons program” [III[
On December 7 Israel attacked Syria’s main port of Latakia, destroying shipping containers. Video footage and photographs published by Sana showed a large fire burning inside an area where dozens of containers were stacked. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group based in Britain said the target was an Iranian weapons shipment. Israel has claimed already in July that Iran is shipping weapons to the Beirut port. According to the SOHR, Israel attacked Syrian targets 27 times this year. Imperialist Russia, the real ruler of Syria, plays a contradictory role. On one hand, it does not prevent Assad or Iran from sending arms to Hezbollah and on the other allows Zionist attacks.
All of these actions are acts of war forbidden by bourgeois’ international law. An airstrike, like any other attack on a state, requires a mandate from the UN Security Council. According to the UN Charter, all five great international powers must, as permanent members, approve of a military attack. Or in exceptional cases – if there is no UN mandate – a case must be made for self-defense. Nevertheless, Israel is not punished by the UN because it is protected by other imperialist states like the USA and Britain. Israel that buys American weapons all the time cannot claim that its attacks on Syria are acts of self-defense when other parties like Hezbollah gets weapons from Iran. The UN Security Council is simply a council of thieves and robbers.
We the RCIT have stood all the time with the Syrian revolution against Assad the Butcher backed by Russian imperialism. However, when it comes to the Zionist attacks On Syria and on the Pro- Iranian militias in Syria, we condemn the Zionists and want to see their defeat.
No doubt there will be reformists and centrists who will say how can you oppose Assad and defend Syria and pro-Iranian forces?
The question of taking a side in military confrontations is always determined by the concrete nature of the sides. For example, we opposed the Argentinian Junta that took power in a military coup in 1976 and supported a revolution of the working class against the Junta. But then came the Malvinas war. Unlike the right centrists of the IMT led by woods that supported British imperialism, we took the position that because Argentina is a semi-colony the worst enemy is British imperialism and that the interest of the international working class is the revolutionary defeat of Britain.
The British SWP has not written one word on Israel attacks in Syria. In their analysis explaining why the revolution in Syria failed, they wrote:
“For others on the left, the flipside of supporting Assad was to support some form of intervention such as arming the rebels or the Kurds.” [IV]
Trotsky wrote on this question of arming the rebels:
“Let us assume that rebellion breaks out tomorrow in the French colony of Algeria under the banner of national independence and that the Italian government, motivated by its own imperialist interests, prepares to send weapons to the rebels. What should the attitude of the Italian workers be in this case? I have purposely taken an example of rebellion against a democratic imperialism with intervention on the side of the rebels from a fascist imperialism. Should the Italian workers prevent the shipping of arms to the Algerians? Let any ultra-leftists dare answer this question in the affirmative. Every revolutionist, together with the Italian workers and the rebellious Algerians, would spurn such an answer with indignation. Even if a general maritime strike broke out in fascist Italy at the same time, even in this case the strikers should make an exception in favor of those ships carrying aid to the colonial slaves in revolt; otherwise they would be no more than wretched trade unionists – not proletarian revolutionists At the same time, the French maritime workers, even though not faced with any strike whatsoever, would be compelled to exert every effort to block the shipment of ammunition intended for use against the rebels. Only such a policy on the part of the Italian and French workers constitutes the policy of revolutionary internationalism.” [v]
Trotsky also wrote:
“In my declaration to the bourgeois press, I said that the duty of all the workers’ organizations of China was to participate actively and in the front lines of the present war against Japan, without abandoning, for a single moment, their own program and independent activity. But that is “social patriotism!” the Eiffelites cry. It is a capitulation to Chiang Kai-shek! It is the abandonment of the principle of the class struggle! Bolshevism preached revolutionary defeatism in the imperialist war.
We do not and never have put all wars on the same plane. Marx and Engels supported the revolutionary struggle of the Irish against Great Britain, of the Poles against the tsar, even though in these two nationalist wars the leaders were, for the most part, members of the bourgeoisie and even at times of the feudal aristocracy … at all events, Catholic reactionaries. When Abdel-Krim rose up against France, the democrats and Social Democrats spoke with hate of the struggle of a “savage tyrant” against the “democracy.” The party of Leon Blum supported this point of view. But we, Marxists and Bolsheviks, considered the struggle of the Riffians against imperialist domination as a progressive war. Lenin wrote hundreds of pages demonstrating the primary necessity of distinguishing between imperialist nations and the colonial and semi-colonial nations which comprise the great majority of humanity. To speak of “revolutionary defeatism” in general, without distinguishing between exploiter and exploited countries, is to make a miserable caricature of Bolshevism and to put that caricature at the service of the imperialists.
In the Far East, we have a classic example. China is a semi-colonial country which Japan is transforming, under our very eyes, into a colonial country. Japan’s struggle is imperialist and reactionary. China’s struggle is emancipatory and progressive
But Chiang Kai-shek? We need have no illusions about Chiang Kai-shek, his party, or the whole ruling class of China, just as Marx and Engels had no illusions about the ruling classes of Ireland and Poland. Chiang Kai-shek is the executioner of the Chinese workers and peasants. But today he is forced, despite himself, to struggle against Japan for the remainder of the independence of China. Tomorrow he may again betray. It is possible. It is probable. It is even inevitable. But today he is struggling. Only cowards, scoundrels, or complete imbeciles can refuse to participate in that struggle.
Let us use the example of a strike to clarify the question. We do not support all strikes. If, for example, a strike is called for the exclusion of Negro, Chinese, or Japanese workers from a factory, we are opposed to that strike. But if a strike aims at bettering— insofar as it can—the conditions of the workers, we are the first to participate in it, whatever the leadership. In the vast majority of strikes, the leaders are reformists, traitors by profession, and agents of capital. They oppose every strike. But from time to time the pressure of the masses or of the objective situation forces them into the path of struggle.
Let us imagine, for an instant, a worker saying to himself: “I do not want to participate in the strike because the leaders are agents of capital.” This doctrine of this ultraleft imbecile would serve to brand him by his real name: a strike-breaker. The case of the Sino-Japanese War is from this point of view, entirely analogous.
But can Chiang Kai-shek assure victory? I do not believe so. It is he, however, who began the war and who today directs it. To be able to replace him it is necessary to gain decisive influence among the proletariat and in the army, and to do this it is necessary not to remain suspended in the air but to place oneself in the midst of the struggle. We must win influence and prestige in the military struggle against the foreign invasion and in the political struggle against the weaknesses, the deficiencies, and the internal betrayal. At a certain point, which we cannot fix in advance, this political opposition can and must be transformed into armed conflict, since the civil war, like war generally, is nothing more than the continuation of the political struggle. It is necessary, however, to know when and how to transform political opposition into armed insurrection.” [VI]
In our analysis of 1948 in Palestine, we wrote that Russian Stalinists and their subordinated parties in the Middle East supported the Zionists and provided them with weapons used to butcher and drive out 700,000-900,000 Palestinians. The speech of Gromyko who was appointed to the position of Permanent Representative of the Russian Stalinists to the United Nations (UN) in April 1946 in support of the partition can be easily found. [VII[
The Fourth International that was in the process of degeneration took the position of revolutionary defeat for both sides. It declared:
“The two camps today mobilize the masses under the mask of “self-defense.” “We have been attacked, let us defend ourselves!” – say the Zionists. “Let us ward off the danger of a Jewish conquest!” – declares the Arab Higher Committee. Where does the truth lie? War is the continuation of politics by other means. The war led by the Arab feudalists is but the continuation of their reactionary war on the worker and the fellah who are striving to shake off oppression and exploitation. For the feudal effendis “Salvation of Palestine” means safeguarding their revenues at the expense of the fellahin, maintaining their autocratic rule in town and country, smashing the proletarian organizations and international class solidarity. The war waged by the Zionists is the continuation of their expansionist policy based on discrimination between the two peoples: they defend kibbush avoda (ousting of Arab labor), kibbush adama (ousting of the fellah), boycott of Arab goods, “Hebrew rule.” The military conflict is a direct result of the policy of the Zionist conquerors. This war can on either side be said to bear a progressive character. The war does not release progressive forces or do away with social and economic obstacles in the path of development of the two nations. Quite the opposite is true. It is apt to obscure the class antagonism and to open the gate for nationalist excesses. It weakens the proletariat and strengthens imperialism in both camps”.
No doubt the local rulers of the Arab states were reactionaries and the Mufti of Jerusalem was a nationalist. The Arab rulers did not want to fight the Zionists but they had to fight because of the pressure of the Arab masses that were aware of what the Zionists did to the Palestinians. In that situation, the only correct revolutionary Marxist position was a revolutionary defeat for the Zionists and military victory for the Palestinians and the Arab states without giving them any political support. Why? Because the Zionists were settler colonialists oppressing the native Palestinians.
The ISA right wing centrists that do not bother to write on Israel attacks on Syria, take a semi-Zionist position on Palestine and they follow Kautsky’s position on peace under imperialist order:
“There’s no peace without struggle against occupation, poverty, inequality, against corrupt elites and for healthcare, livelihoods and welfare for all. Yes to protests of Palestinians and Israelis, no to attacks on civilians. Only peace and equality will bring personal security for all — end all attacks and collective punishment on 2 million residents of Gaza. Solidarity with residents from both national communities in Israel that cope with indiscriminate rocket fire. End the occupation, no more denying the right for self-determination and national oppression of the Palestinians. For an independent socialist Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, for a socialist change in Israel and in the whole region.” [VIII]
First, they equate Israel war actions with Hamas shootings.
“Solidarity with residents from both national communities in Israel that cope with indiscriminate rocket fire“
Secondly, they call for two states solution: “For an independent socialist Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, for a socialist change in Israel“
Thirdly they claim that the end of the occupation of 1967 will bring peace to the Middle East.
Lenin replied to this position:
“This does not apply to Kautsky alone. Substantially the same policy is pursued by Axelrod, Martov and Chkheidze in Russia; by Longuet and Pressemane in France, Treves in Italy, etc. Objectively, this policy means fostering bourgeois lies among the working class; it means inculcating bourgeois ideas into the minds of the proletariat. That both Sudekum and Plekhanov merely repeat the bourgeois lies of the capitalists of “their” respective nations is obvious; but it is not so obvious that Kautsky sanctifies these lies and elevates them to the sphere of the “highest truth” of a “unanimous” International. That the workers should regard the Sudekums and Plekhanovs as authoritative and unanimous “Socialists” who have temporarily fallen out is exactly what the bourgeoisie wants. The very thing the bourgeoisie wants is that the workers should be diverted from the revolutionary struggle in wartime by means of hypocritical, idle and noncommittal phrases about peace; that they should be lulled and soothed by hopes of peace without annexations, a democratic peace, etc., etc. Huysmans has merely popularized Kautsky’s peace programme and has added: courts of arbitration, democratization of foreign politics, etc. But the first and fundamental point of a Socialist peace programme must be to unmask the hypocrisy of the Kautskyi” [IX]
Lenin also wrote: “Finally, “Our “peace programme” must explain that the imperialist Powers and the imperialist bourgeoisie cannot grant a democratic peace. Such a peace must be sought and fought for, not in the past, not in a reactionary utopia of a non-imperialist capitalism, nor in a league of equal nations under capitalism, but in the future, in the socialist revolution of the proletariat. Not a single fundamental democratic demand can be achieved to any considerable extent or any degree of permanency, in the advanced imperialist states, except by revolutionary battles under the banner of socialism” [X]
Down with the Zionist apartheid state!
No peace without a world socialist revolution!
For a Palestine red and free from the river to the sea!
For revolutionary defeat for Israel in any war against the Palestinians, Hezbollah Iran, or Syria!
For a socialist federation of the Middle East!
For a world revolution!
[VI] Leon Trotsky On the Sino-Japanese War (September 1937)