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July 2014

Defeat Israel / U.S. War – For Workers Action Against Zionist Slaughter

Defend Gaza and the Palestinian People –
For Arab-Hebrew Workers Revolution!

On July 29, Israel bombed Gaza’s only power plant, leaving the 1.8 million inhabitants without electricity, water or sewage treatment. (Photo: Wissam Nassar for the New York Times)

All Settlers Out of the West Bank!
From Egypt to Turkey, Fight for Workers Revolution!

JULY 29 – Every two years like clockwork since Israel’s rulers “disengaged” from Gaza in late 2005, the Israeli military has launched a murderous attack on the 1.8 million Palestinians confined in this narrow 25-mile long strip along the Mediterranean. In 2008, “Operation Cast Lead” killed some 1,400 Palestinians over 22 days; in 2010 there was “Operation Sea Breeze,” the deadly high-seas assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla; in 2012 it was “Operation Pillar of Defense” (100+ dead), and currently we have “Operation Protective Edge.” The Zionist militarists cynically refer to this periodic mass murder as “mowing the lawn.” Over the last three weeks the blood-drenched Israeli “lawnmower” has mowed down over 1,200 Palestinians.

Beyond the repulsive language of the Zionists is the hideous reality of the slaughter of the Palestinian Arab population. What is most striking is the huge number of non-combatant dead (three-quarters of the total, according to the United Nations) and the dramatic number of children killed (at least 250). Under the guise of stopping rockets fired into Israel and destroying tunnels used by Hamas fighters, the Israeli military has been targeting residential apartment buildings, destroying thousands of homes, as well as hitting 133 schools, 22 health clinics, a hospital and now Gaza’s power plant, knocking out electricity, water supplies and sewage treatment. Very quickly the situation will become catastrophic for those who survive the daily bombing.

The Palestinian fighters on the ground have been resisting the Zionist assault bravely. The Gaza population has not buckled under the rain of bombs and pounding artillery. There have been solidarity demonstrations of thousands from New York to Tokyo; in France, tens of thousands defied a protest ban by the “socialist” government; 100,000 marched in London against Israel’s criminal attack. Some 20,000 Palestinians demonstrated on the West Bank while 6,000 Israelis braved fascist attacks to call for an end to the war. But this has had zero impact on the bloodbath. The Zionist militarists will not be deterred by impotent appeals for “peace.” It is necessary to mobilize the power of the world working class to stop these genocidal butchers.

In reality, this is a war to terrorize the Arab population. Israel’s claim that the occupation has ended is pure fiction. On top of strangling Gaza for the last seven years with an economic blockade and fencing in the population in what amounts to a concentration camp, the Israeli military periodically turns “the Strip” into a killing field. The Zionists deal with Gaza like the Nazis dealt with the Warsaw Ghetto. And now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be escalating the assault, announcing a “prolonged campaign” and killing 129 in the bloodiest day of the war. Meanwhile, ultra-Zionist cabinet members and sections of the Israeli public are “panting for the operation to be expanded” to exterminate Hamas (Haaretz, 29 July).

A Palestinian women searches the rubble to collect what she can from her family’s destroyed home hit by an Israeli strike in Beit Lahiya, Gaza, August 4. (Photo: Wissam Nassar for the New York Times)

Revolutionary Marxists give no political support to Hamas, an Islamist current associated with the virulently anti-communist Muslim Brotherhood. Islamist rule in whatever guise is inimical to the rights of women and the democratic rights of everyone and every community not part of the dominant sect. Moreover, while Zionists vituperate against Hamas they neglect to mention that Israel helped set up the reactionary Islamic group, in order to compete with the Palestinian nationalist Fatah. Hamas has actually clamped down on rocket launches from Gaza during its administration. But it was elected based on its posture of opposing the Israeli occupation, and we defend the resistance of Hamas-ruled Gaza against the Zionists and their Fatah quislings.

A main reason given by Israeli “experts” for prolonging the slaughter is the quantity and sophistication of military tunnels discovered so far. More to the point is the toll of more than 50 Israeli soldiers killed so far by Hamas’ fighters, both those emerging from the tunnels and in firefights inside Gaza. While the rockets fired at Israel have merely sent people scurrying to bomb shelters, the significant number of army casualties makes it hard for Netanyahu to proclaim victory and declare a ceasefire. Meanwhile, Israelis have no stomach for a long war (this is already one of the longest) and are already heading back to the malls and the beaches. Income from American tourism has taken a big hit.

The lack of even phony support for Gaza from most Arab regimes this time around is striking. The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas is, as usual, acting as stooges for Israel. And even with nightly protests across the West Bank, a third intifada (popular uprising against the Israeli occupation) has not yet materialized. But the people of Gaza, facing horrendous death and destruction, are not calling on Hamas to capitulate. All reports indicate that, whatever the cost, they are determined not to return to the status quo ante, to the slow death of life under the economic blockade. In short, the traditional Zionist tactic of terrorizing the population into pressuring the leaders to sue for peace is not working. So what’s next?

The resistance in Gaza is vital, but not enough to stop the Israeli military juggernaut. International solidarity against the Zionist onslaught begins with exposing the pretensions of the United States and United Nations of acting as “peacemakers.” Despite the vituperation from Zionist hawks, the tag team of U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and U.N. secretary general Ban Ki Moon with their calls for a ceasefire with no concessions are actually working on behalf of Israel. American president Barack Obama denounces Ukrainian rebels for using “Russian-made weapons” (as does the Ukrainian army), yet every day Israel is laying waste to Gaza with U.S.-supplied F-15 and F-16 war planes. This is an imperialist/Zionist war on the Palestinians.

For their part, the Western bourgeois media are playing their role to the hilt. They harp on rockets from Gaza as a justification for “Israel’s right to self-defense.” What a crock of horse manure! So far only 2 Israelis have been killed by rockets while well over 2,000 residents of Gaza have been slaughtered, supposedly in retaliation. In fact, the very few rockets fired in the previous year and a half total less than the number launched on an active day in the current war. Another favorite theme is alleged attacks on Jewish targets during anti-war protests, buttressing the claim that “anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism.” Yet demonstration organizers have been vigilant to prevent any occurrence of anti-Jewish actions.

Internationalist Group at July 9 protest in New York City against Israeli war on Gaza. (Internationalist photo)

The protests have been dominated by Palestinian nationalism and Islamic appeals, which is to be expected in the face of Israel’s theft of Palestinian lands and more than six decades of violent suppression of the subjugated Arab population’s national and other democratic rights. The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International have repeatedly demonstrated to “Defend Gaza” and “Defend the Palestinian people” on a program of proletarian internationalism, calling for an Arab-Hebrew Palestinian workers state in a socialist federation of the Near East. We have pushed for workers action against Israel’s war on the Palestinians, and called to “smash imperialism and Zionism through workers revolution.”

Israel: An Imperialist Client State

According to the Israeli war propaganda (dutifully echoed in the Western press), the current slaughter of the Gaza population was in response to the mid-June kidnapping and murder of three Jewish youths as they were hitchhiking in the Etzion Bloc of West Bank settlements. Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately blamed this on Hamas, while presenting no evidence of a connection. More than 500 Palestinians were rounded up in the West Bank, including nearly all Hamas leaders in the area and re-arresting scores who had been released from prison only a few months earlier. Meanwhile, a Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and burned alive by ultra-rightist Zionists.

Under the 1993 Oslo accords, only 17% of West Bank would be under control of the Palestinian Authority. Actual Palestinian control is even less. Note in map that Palestinian areas are little islets separated from each other by military roads under complete Israeli control . (BBC map)

In reality, the reference to the kidnapping/murder of the Jewish teenagers (and to the relatively few rocket attacks) was only a pretext for carrying out a military operation against the Gaza military tunnels that had long been in the works.1 The war is a follow-up to the breakdown of the phony “peace process” – widely ridiculed by Palestinians as all process and no peace – in May due to Israel’s escalation of West Bank settlement construction and cancelation of the scheduled release of Palestinian prisoners. The assault on Gaza was also retaliation against the declaration of a Palestinian unity government bringing together the Islamist Hamas with its nationalist Fatah rivals who have become West Bank ghetto police for the Israeli occupation.

The origins of the current war go to the heart of the nature of the Israeli state and its occupation of Palestinian lands. From its origins, the Zionist nationalist movement founded by Theodor Herzl at the turn of the 20th century presumed the mass expulsion of Palestinians. The establishment of Israel was as a result of the genocide of six million Jews by the German Nazi fascists under Hitler, and of the refusal by U.S. imperialism to accept Jewish refugees from Europe after World War II. Israel’s 1948 “war of independence” involved the deliberate driving out of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs. Many ended up in refugee camps in the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza where they and their descendants remain today.

Thus the birth of Israel was the result of a heinous crime, and itself a crime. This is no novelty in world history. The United States, after all, was formed on the basis of genocide against the Native American population and chattel slavery of black Africans, dragged in chains from their homelands by the capitalist slavers. Moreover, Marxists are opposed on principle to any and all religious-based states, which are inherently anti-democratic. We oppose the existence of Israel as a Jewish state just as we oppose the Islamic republic of Khomeini’s Iran and the officially Christian states of Petain’s France and Franco’s Spain.

Many on the left have described Israel as a “colonial settler state.” This would make it the equivalent of white-ruled Rhodesia in southern Africa and the Hebrew-speaking population of Israel would be analogous to the French colons in Algeria. This is a false analogy. Israeli Jews are not the representatives of a foreign colonial power who can return to the metropole if the native population rises up. If things get hot in Palestine, a large percentage of the Israeli non-Arab population would likely fight to the end, even opposed to the U.S., as it did in the Suez invasion in 1956. The fact is that a Hebrew-speaking nation has been forged through the dispossession of Palestinian Arabs, who have also become a nation through their bitter experience of oppression.

A second common description of Israel by opponents of Zionism is as an “apartheid state,” on the lines of white-supremacist South Africa. Again, while Israeli oppression of Palestinian Arabs is no less criminal than the oppression of non-whites in South Africa, the oppressive regimes are far from identical. Certainly there is segregation and vicious denial of democratic rights of Palestinians in Israel, and far more so in the Occupied Territories. But South African apartheid was also an economic regime based on the superexploitation of black labor, which has continued under a “neo-apartheid” black capitalist government, which kills miners just like its predecessor. Israeli rulers, however, would expel and ultimately slaughter the Palestinian people.

Women settlers practice firing in Jewish settlement of Pnei Kedem, near Bethlehem, in September 2012. All settlements are strategic bases to control and expel Palestinian Arabs. All settlers out of the West Bank! (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Zionist outposts on the West Bank, many filled with transplants from the U.S., actually are a colonial settler phenomenon. All of them, even the residential suburbs of Jerusalem, are strategic bases to control and push out the Arab population. This has been true since the Allon Plan, drafted after Israel’s 1967 occupation of the area, which led to a string of fortified settlements along the Jordan Valley. That is also why so many of the 120+ official settlements are located on hilltops, and connected by military highways that divide up the Palestinian population into small “cantons” that can be easily surrounded and cut off by the army. Thus they are all legitimate military targets. The IG and LFI demand all settlers out of the West Bank.

In rejecting the characterization of Israel proper as a “colonial-settler state” or “apartheid state,” we in no way diminish the monstrous nature of the Zionist crimes. On the contrary, what Israeli rulers are prepared to do to the Palestinians is potentially much worse than what the Rhodesian or South African racists did. The murderous assault on Gaza currently underway could be the lead-up to “ethnic cleansing” on a massive scale – literally emptying Gaza of its population, whether by military means as in 1948 or by turning off the water, electricity and food supply. And if they get frustrated enough, or feel threatened enough, the Zionists (“hawks” and “doves” alike) are fully capable of carrying out a genocidal “final solution” of the Palestinian “problem.”

Never forget that the Zionist madmen are sitting on a huge arsenal of nuclear warheads, hundreds of them, and with their “Masada complex”2 they are crazy enough to unleash what could be a suicidal catastrophe. Israeli rulers calculate that the only way they can secure their position in the Middle East is by maintaining absolute military superiority. That is why they are so intent on preventing Iran from getting “the bomb,” because that would limit Israel’s ability to intimidate its neighbors with nuclear blackmail. Revolutionary Marxists, on the other hand, while giving no political support to the mullahs’ regime in Tehran, defend Iran’s right to nuclear weapons to defend itself against imperialist and Zionist war threats.

Israel is today, and has been since its birth, a client state and ally of Western imperialism. In historical Palestine there are two nations – the oppressor Hebrew-speaking nation and the oppressed Palestinian Arab nation – with interpenetrated populations inhabiting and laying claim to the same land. In this situation, where both nations have the democratic right to self-determination, there can be no equitable solution to competing national rights short of a socialist revolution that establishes a collectivized economy throughout the Near East. Talk of a “two-state” solution is a fraud, for under capitalism, where nations compete for scarce resources such as water and fuel, the stronger (i.e., Israel) will always prevail.

And the Israeli ruling class will never agree to a single democratic (capitalist) state, first because it would be the doom of the Zionist project of a Jewish state, and because they know well how criminally they have treated the Palestinians and expect the same in return if they should be in a minority. That is why the League for the Fourth International calls for Arab-Hebrew workers revolution that alone offers a future not only to the impoverished Palestinians but also to Hebrew-speaking workers and the large secular Israeli middle class that may tire of living with a siege mentality in a garrison state where every few years they must send their sons and daughters off to kill and be killed for the greater glory of Zionism.

For International Workers Solidarity
Action Against Zionist Terror

On July 25, up to 20,000 Palestinians protested in the occupied West Bank during “day of rage” against the Israeli war on Gaza, but protests were met with gunfire by Israeli police (above, at checkpoint Qalandia, between Ramallah and Jerusalem). (Photo: Abbas Momani/AFP)

Amid the hysteria, the Zionist warmongers’ hammerlock on the Jewish population of Israel would seem absolute, although that can change quickly as the Israeli soldiers’ death toll mounts. For now, polls report 90% to 95% of Jews support the assault on Gaza. “Liberal” Zionist media join with right-wingers in bashing the “hypocritical” and unpatriotic left. Leftist-led protests were attacked by fascist-led mobs of up to 800 in Tel Aviv on July 12 and several hundred in Haifa on July 19. Thugs chanting “death to Arabs” and wearing neo-Nazi t-shirts and emblems of the Kahane Chai movement brutally beat antiwar demonstrators while the police stood by. For some 6,000 protesters to come out on July 26, although belatedly, took a good deal of courage.

Many on the left have pinned their hopes on a “third intifada” by Palestinians on the West Bank. While the first (1987-93) and second (2000-05) uprisings against the Israeli occupation were heroic, they could not overcome or even dent the Zionist military’s might. Amira Hass wrote earlier of “Why the West Bank isn’t erupting against Israel” (Haaretz, 18 July). In fact, there have been almost nightly protests of thousands, with up to 20,000 marching July 24 on the Qalandia checkpoint near Ramallah, but they have been blocked by Israeli soldiers firing on unarmed demonstrators in East Jerusalem and Qalandia (Palestine Monitor, 25 July), and suppressed by the police of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority in Hebron (Alternative Information Center, 22 July).

Some 6,000 protesters came out to July 26 antiwar protest in Tel Aviv, braving attacks by fascist thugs. (Photo: Dan Balitty/AP)

So what is the goal? In Israel, the Communist Party (CPI-Maki) and its electoral front Hadash, as well as a smaller reformist outfit, the Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM-Maavak Sotzyalisti, part of the Committee for a Workers International), call for a Palestinian mini-state. They may try to prettify this with talk of “a truly independent, equal, democratic and socialist Palestinian state, next to a socialist and democratic Israel” (“Gaza in Crisis,” socialistworld.net [CWI], 29 July). But in calling for “an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel,” they are parroting the imperialists’ failed bourgeois “two-state solution” laid out in the moribund 1993 Oslo Accords. This comes down to acceptance of Zionist rule and continuation of Palestinian oppression.

The International Socialist League (ISL) of Yossi Schwartz, who has migrated from one international tendency to another over the past several decades, blithely changing his positions on every key issue, calls for a “workers state from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.” The ISL’s current bloc partner, after dumping the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) last year, is the “Revolutionary Communist International Tendency,” which exists mainly on the Internet. A July 8 joint RCIT-ISL statement calls to “conquer [the] apartheid regime and replace it with a state of equal civil rights for all – from the river to the sea.” Nothing about a “workers state” there. In contrast to the pro-Zionist CPI and SSM, the ISL capitulates to bourgeois Arab nationalism.

Internationally, there have been large demonstrations against the war on Gaza around the globe. Most of the anti-Zionist forces (including the International Socialist Organization in the U.S. and many liberals) call for a policy of “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) against all things Israeli, harking back to the divestment movement against South African apartheid. We have explained before that impotent consumer boycotts of Israeli products and academics, calls on businesses not to invest in Israel and appeals for imperialist sanctions will not stop the Zionist mass murderers, nor did they stop the white supremacist regime in South Africa.3 The apartheid butchers were brought down by a combination of militant struggle by black workers in South Africa and the imperialists’ calculation that after the destruction of the Soviet Union they had nothing to fear from the house-broken South African Communist Party.

Recently there have been splits among liberal anti-Zionists, with some prominent voices (notably Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein) opposing the “BDS” call for Palestinians’ right of return. This a capitulation to the Zionists. Our objection to the bankrupt BDS “strategy” is quite different, although in some cases it may be necessary to give critical support to such initiatives against rabid Zionist reaction. For one thing, since the crimes of U.S. imperialism far outweigh those of its Israeli junior partners, why not call on American universities to refuse to hire American professors, or for Europeans to boycott U.S. products, etc.?

But most fundamentally, the BDS campaigns of moral outrage are at bottom an appeal to the imperialists to rein in or abandon their Israeli allies. As we have noted, “This is an illusion, particularly in the case of the United States, whose alliance with Israel is strategic. Israel is a key element in Western domination of the Middle East, including vital oil supplies and trade routes, which also benefit the European imperialists. No amount of popular pressure will change that” (The Internationalist No. 31). When we challenged Israeli leftist historian Ilan Pappé on this at a forum in New York City, he stated emphatically that he and others in the BDS movement had long since concluded it was a mistake to call for a fight against imperialism.

Yet the hard reality is that Zionist power in Palestine will not be broken without defeating its imperialist patrons. It can be done. U.S. imperialism was handed a stinging defeat by the revolutionary struggle of the Vietnamese workers and peasants in the 1960s and ’70s, which had wide-ranging beneficial effects for the world’s peoples. But the imperialists counterattacked from Afghanistan and Central America to Eastern Europe, culminating in the counterrevolution that destroyed the USSR and Soviet bloc bureaucratically deformed workers states in 1989-92, and by unrelenting class war on workers “at home.” As we have insisted, success in the fight against Zionism can only be won through struggle to bring down capitalism and imperialism.

Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky warned in the 1930s that the Zionist project in Palestine was a death trap for Jews as well as a calamity for all the peoples of the region. As Trotskyists, the Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International continue his struggle for world socialist revolution. Along that road, rather than appealing to imperialism and calling for bankrupt consumer boycotts (BDS), we seek to spur international workers action against Zionist terror, such as a labor blockade of transportation (refusal to handle ships, planes and cargo) to and from Israel so long as Israeli bombs are falling on Gaza. But even that would be just a token of the mobilization of workers power that is needed.

The liberation of the Palestinian masses and breaking Israeli workers from Zionism will require a convulsive revolutionary wave sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. A tall order, to be sure, but one only has to recall the tremendous impact of the overthrow of the U.S.-allied dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011 to see the potential. Though that was not a revolution, as the imperialists and opportunist leftists claimed and we denied, it did raise revolutionary aspirations and spurred class struggle, even in Israel. It’s significant that Habima Square in Tel Aviv, where antiwar protests are now held, became the focal point for “social justice” protests and was nicknamed “the Israeli Tahrir,” after Cairo’s Liberation Square.

As we wrote in 2010: “we seek to build an Arab/Hebrew Trotskyist party in all of Palestine to lead the fight for a binational Arab/Hebrew workers state in the framework of a socialist federation of the Near East. However distant that prospect may seem today, it is the only basis on which Muslims, Jews, Christians, Druzes – not to mention Kurds, Zoroastrians and numerous other national and religious minorities throughout the region – can overcome sectarian divisions and live and develop in harmony. Achieving this is a vital task not only of Hebrew-speaking and Arab workers in Palestine, but of the world proletariat as we struggle to smash imperialism through international socialist revolution.” ■

  1. 1. “Army prepared for Gaza campaign, defense minister says,” headlined the Times of Israel (31 December 2013), saying that the military objective would be to “deal a harsh blow to Gaza and the organizations operating there….”
  2. 2. In biblical times, the fortification of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea was besieged by troops of the Roman Empire, ending with the mass suicide of the Jewish warriors and their families. Today recruits of the Israeli army armored units swear an oath of allegiance on the heights saying “Masada shall not fall again.”
  3. 3. See “Israel’s Gaza Flotilla Massacre: Bloody War Provocation,” The Internationalist No. 31, Summer 2010.