January 2008   

For an Arab-Hebrew Workers State in a Socialist Federation of the Near East!

Defend Gaza! Defeat U.S./Israel
War on the Palestinian People!

Palestinians desperate to obtain supplies after being locked down by Israel stream through breach in
the wall dividing town of Rafah between Gaza and Egypt, 23 January 2008.
(Photo: Kevin Frayer/AP)

Last week, Israeli war minister Ehud Barak ordered a halt to all imports into the Gaza Strip. The border crossings were closed: no one and nothing would go in or out. The isolated enclave, with 1.4 million people crammed into 139 square miles, one of the densest population concentrations on the planet, was sealed off from the outside world. What amounts to the world’s largest concentration camp, surrounded by concrete and steel walls topped with barbed wire, was put into lockdown. The Israeli action was a heinous war crime akin to the Nazis’ confining of Polish Jews to the Warsaw Ghetto. But the Zionist war criminals are not acting on their own. The lockdown is part of a U.S.-Israeli plan to punish the Gaza population for electing the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement as their government. Hamas’ crime, in the eyes of Washington and Jerusalem, is that it refuses to recognize Israel, the state that stole Palestinians’ lands.

The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International call on class-conscious workers and all opponents of imperialism and Zionism to mobilize to defeat the joint U.S./Israeli war on the Palestinian people. As proletarian revolutionaries we politically oppose Islamic fundamentalism, as well as the Christian fundamentalism fueling the U.S.’ imperialist crusade in the Near East. We are against all theocratic states, whether it is the Islamic republic of Iran or the Jewish state of Israel, which is inherently discriminatory to Arab Muslims and Christians who are second-class citizens (or have no rights at all in the West Bank and Gaza). We demand the withdrawal of the Zionists (army and settlers) from all the territories occupied in the 1967 war, and recognition of the Palestinians’ right of return to their ancestral homes in all of Israel. While recognizing the right of self-determination of both the Palestinian Arab and Hebrew-speaking population, we note that this cannot be equitably realized under capitalism and call for an Arab-Hebrew workers republic as part of a socialist federation of the Near East.

By Sunday, as fuel supplies ran out, Gaza’s only power station shut down, throwing the strip into darkness. Private generators supplying hospitals would run out of fuel as well. There was no water, for lack of electricity to run the pumps. Palestinians demonstrated with lighted candles to draw attention to their suffering. But such poignant appeals to humanity were lost on the Zionist rulers, whose whole strategy is to intensify the suffering of the Palestinian people, supposedly to force “militants” to stop launching rockets into southern Israel. Israeli spokesmen talk of the plight of residents in the southern town of Sderot, where the Qassam “rockets” regularly land in empty lots. A total of 12 Israelis have been killed by such attacks over the last six years, while many hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in “retaliation,” often dozens at a time, when Israel bombs or shells refugee camps. This is fascist-style “collective punishment.”

But on Wednesday (January 23) the Hamas-led elected Palestinian government responded, ordering a crane operator to pull down a section of the wall dividing the town of Rafah between Gaza and Egypt. Thousands of people rushed through the opening. Over the next several days, Egyptian soldiers and riot police would sporadically make show of strength, but then back off as an estimated 200,000 Gazans desperately stocked up on vital supplies for their families and businesses (gas canisters, fuel, cement, even cattle for slaughter). The imperialist media portrayed it all as a giant shopping spree and four-day holiday weekend. But it was only a brief respite, as the government of Egyptian Hosni Mubarak responded to Israeli and U.S. pressure to close the border again. Then they will return to their charade of engaging in a “peace process” with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian nationalist Fatah movement.

The Zionist occupiers and the U.S. imperialists who stand behind them have treated all segments of the Palestinian population and all Palestinian political forces with disdain. Contrary to Israeli claims, they have never offered even a Palestinian mini-state, which in any case would be nothing more than a glorified “Bantustan” for Palestinians, as the South African apartheid rulers called the phony “homelands” they set up for the black majority. The Zionists intend to keep the Palestinian population carved up into different settlement blocks, separated by highways open to Jews only, with any travel from one segment to another subject to Israeli control. Jerusalem, the Palestinian capital, would be entirely incorporated in Israel proper. This is the take-it-or-leave-it “deal” that U.S. president Bill Clinton and then Israeli premier Barak offered to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat at Camp David in 2000. When Arafat turned down the poisoned chalice, Ariel Sharon staged a provocation at the Al Aksa mosque with the full complicity of Barak, which set off the second Palestinian intifada (uprising).

U.S. general Keith Dayton, real boss of of Palestinian “presidential guard” and author of document laying out benchmarks for war on Hamas-led Palestinian  government. (Photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

But since Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, to the surprise of Israel and the United States, the Israeli Zionists and U.S. imperialists have changed tack and are now directly arming, training and commanding key Fatah forces to wage a war on Hamas. This plan was laid out in a U.S. intelligence agency document, “Action Plan for the Palestinian Presidency,” that was published by the Jordanian weekly Al Majd on 30 April 2007. It was confirmed by a security plan for the West Bank and Gaza written by U.S. general Keith Dayton, in charge of the Pentagon mission “training” Palestinian forces, published by the Israeli daily Haaretz on 4 May. The two documents reflects the views of White House advisor Elliott Abrams, a prominent “neo-conservative” war hawk, and the key element is building up a presidential guard under by Abbas that is armed by Israel and trained by U.S. military forces. Commanded by Fatah security chief Mohammed Dahlan, it is actually controlled by General Dayton.

As the U.S./Israeli/Fatah forces were preparing to strike to bring down the Hamas government in Gaza last June, Hamas struck first and expelled Fatah militias from the area. This was portrayed in the Western media as a “Hamas coup d’état” and the subsequent fighting as a “squabble” between competing Palestinian nationalists. This ignores the fact that these key Fatah military forces have been fully integrated into the Zionist/imperialist war plans and are not merely aided by Washington and Jerusalem but are under direct U.S./Israeli control. (Not all Fatah sectors are in agreement with this, and some like the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade are not under the control of Abbas.) Moreover, their attack is directed not only against Hamas but against the Gaza population as a whole. Under these circumstances, the duty of all proletarian revolutionaries is to defend Gaza and the elected Palestinian government controlled by Hamas, and fight for the defeat of the joint U.S./Israeli/Fatah war, while continuing to politically oppose the Islamic fundamentalists.

While defending the Palestinian people, we call for Palestinian Arab and Hebrew-speaking working people to join together in fighting against their respective Zionist, Arab nationalist and Islamic fundamentalist rulers. After more than four decades of Israeli occupation, Israel and the Occupied Territories are in fact one country. The entire economy of Gaza and the West Bank is fully enmeshed into the Israeli economy. Any effort to divide up scarce resources (such as water) under capitalism will lead to sharp disputes in which the more powerful – i.e., the Zionists – will inevitably prevail. At the same time, while the presence of the Hebrew-speaking population in Palestine is the result of a crime against the Palestinian people driven off their lands (as well as the outgrowth of an imperialist crime against the Jewish people – the Nazi Holocaust, and the subsequent refusal of Western “democracies” to receive Jewish refugees), several million are nevertheless settled in what is now Israel. Any attempt to drive Jews out would also be a terrible crime, the kind of genocidal “ethnic cleansing” perpetrated by the Nazis and the Zionists.

Therefore, while recognizing the right to Palestinian self-determination and to a Palestinian state, as well as the right to existence (and thus of national self-determination) of the Hebrew population, we Trotskyists call for a joint Arab-Hebrew Palestinian workers state, as part of a socialist federation of the Near East. Clearly our call is today that of a tiny minority, but as the dead end of Zionism, Palestinian nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism is made increasingly clear, many on both sides of the national divide are recognizing there can only be a harmonious resolution of competing claims in the framework of a single state. Our key point is that such a state is impossible without a revolution through the joint efforts of Palestinian Arab and Hebrew-speaking working people. It will be necessary for Israelis themselves to deal with the Zionist butchers who have terrorized the Palestinian population, while Palestinians must throw off the hold of Islamicists who relegate women to the status of chattel, of domestic slaves.

To achieve this, it is necessary to build a common Trotskyist party in all of Palestine, as part of a struggle to reforge the Fourth International of Leon Trotsky. In the United States, it is necessary to build a revolutionary workers party in struggle both against the Republicans and the Democrats. Today, not only Hillary Clinton is in the pocket of the Zionist supporters, but so is Barack Obama, and the victory of either in the U.S. presidential elections augurs ill for the Palestinian people. The struggle to bring justice to the millions of Palestinians who have languished under the iron heel of Zionist occupation, and who have fought back heroically against overwhelming odds, can only be part of a broader struggle to defeat the U.S. imperialist occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many on the left blame the “Jewish lobby” for Washington’s aggression in the Near East, but they confuse who is the horse and who is the rider in this alliance. The Zionists have always sought to peddle their services to the dominant imperialist power in the region, beginning with the Balfour Declaration in 1917: first the British, now the U.S. But while Israel acts as a gendarme for U.S. imperialism, it is the American imperialists who hold the whip hand and who have launched the present “war on terror” which is really a war for U.S. world domination. Thus in defending the Palestinian people, revolutionaries in the U.S. must fight to not to “change U.S. foreign policy” but to defeat the imperialist war in the Near East and the capitalist war on working people, oppressed minorities and immigrants in the U.Sn

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com