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Workers Vanguard No. 1077

30 October 2015

Israel Out of East Jerusalem, West Bank!

Defend the Palestinians!

Over the past several weeks, Israel’s murderous military apparatus and its armed settler auxiliaries have killed at least 60 Palestinians—many of them teenagers—and wounded some 2,000. The Zionist overlords have unleashed an intensified crackdown in the Occupied Territories—imposing more checkpoints, placing Palestinian neighborhoods on lockdown, dispatching thousands more soldiers and police and inciting lynch mobs in the streets. Such routine tactics are aimed at terrorizing and demoralizing the already besieged Palestinian population. Expressing the sense of utter isolation and imprisonment among the 4.8 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, one 25-year-old student from Jenin remarked, “We must get out of this situation—even if it costs us everything.”

The latest onslaught was prepared when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to restrict Palestinian access to East Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in the Muslim world and a religious and cultural gathering space for Palestinians in the city. Seizing on a handful of atomized attacks by Palestinian assailants armed with knives and screwdrivers, the Israeli government sealed off the 300,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem with concrete walls, demolished homes and revoked residency status for the families of alleged Palestinian attackers—essentially, as one commentator for the newsletter noted, “carving up and crushing the Palestinian expanse without any consideration for everyday life or for a possible future compromise.”

This is Netanyahu’s response to those who retain any remnant of hope that even the most constricted and peripheral sliver of East Jerusalem will ever be the capital of an “independent” Palestine. Since its conquest and annexation in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Jewish settlers have flooded into East Jerusalem and taken over more and more of the city from its original Palestinian residents, who are not even nominal citizens of Israel. This history of evictions has been repeatedly punctuated by acts of Zionist state and ultrarightist Jewish terror, aimed particularly at Al Aqsa (which is part of the complex that Israelis call the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism). Within months of first becoming prime minister in 1996, Netanyahu presided at the opening of a tunnel under the mosque, inciting a bloodbath in which 62 Palestinians were slaughtered. Four years later, the supposedly more liberal regime of Ehud Barak provided an armed escort for notorious racist butcher Ariel Sharon as he staged a provocative visit to the Al Aqsa compound, which helped spark the second Palestinian intifada (uprising). Now many are speculating about a “third intifada.

The first intifada, launched in late 1987, was a deepgoing and popular organized rising by Palestinian youth who were fed up with decades of vacuous United Nations resolutions, cynical promises of Arab “solidarity” and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leadership’s passivity in the face of Zionist expansion. Yet despite several years of valorous and self-sacrificing struggle, the oppressed Palestinian masses ended up with only the miserable Oslo “peace” accords of 1993. Oslo gave birth to the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority, a national “leadership” tasked with policing its own people on behalf of the Israeli occupiers, thus acting as subcontractors for the Zionist state.

In the intervening years, the ghetto walls have grown insurmountable and the Palestinian people have been driven ever deeper into misery and national humiliation. Well over half of the West Bank has been confiscated from Palestinians or closed off to them, and 80 percent of the population of Gaza is dependent on humanitarian aid for its survival. Under the pretext of curbing Hamas, the Islamic fundamentalist rulers of Gaza who accrued authority as a result of the PLO’s betrayals, Israel has repeatedly launched devastating attacks on the tiny Gaza Strip. Last year, nearly 2,200 largely defenseless Palestinians were slaughtered and 10,000 wounded. Gaza today is little more than a large detention camp with around 100,000 homeless residents, demolished buildings and wrecked infrastructure, all surrounded by an electrified fence.

The recent suicidal “lone wolf” stabbings are a reflection of the intense despair and frustration felt by the current generation of Palestinians. Some of the recent attacks by Palestinians have targeted Zionist agents of the occupying force: soldiers, police and their settler auxiliaries. But the indiscriminate killings of Israeli civilians are, from the standpoint of the proletariat, criminal acts of terror. Moreover, the stabbing attacks serve only to provide a further pretext for murderous Zionist repression. Such attacks reinforce the bunker state mentality that binds Israeli Jewish working people to their own exploiters and thus set back the cause of Palestinian emancipation.

The only salvation for the Palestinian people lies in the Marxist road of proletarian internationalism: the fight for workers revolutions and a socialist federation of the Near East in which Palestinian Arabs, Israeli Jews and all the other peoples of the region will find national and social justice. So long as the struggle remains on nationalist or religious terrain, the Palestinians can only lose out to the more technologically advanced Zionist state, which is heavily armed (including with hundreds of nuclear weapons) and bolstered by billions in U.S. military aid. For its part, U.S. imperialism just put a stamp of approval on the current Zionist offensive, pledging a $1 billion hike atop its already $3.1 billion in annual military aid. It is crucial for working people and the oppressed around the world to take a stand in defense of the Palestinian people. Down with U.S. aid to Israel! All Israeli troops and settlers out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem!

The Zionist State Must Be Shattered from Within

Israeli society has moved sharply to the right in the past several decades. Netanyahu won his fourth term in office last March through overt appeals to anti-Arab chauvinism, vowing to continue the occupation and screaming that Palestinian citizens of Israel would be going “in droves to the polls.” Netanyahu accused leaders of the opposition Joint List—a coalition of Arab parties that won the third-largest number of seats in the Knesset (parliament)—of “incitement,” insinuating that they, and indeed all Israeli Palestinians, constitute a traitorous “fifth column.” In the last few weeks, many of these Palestinians who have (nominal) Israeli citizenship have been among the more than 1,000 Palestinians arrested, either for joining protests or even planning to do so. Netanyahu reached a new level of racist demagogy when he recently asserted that it was a Palestinian, the pro-German Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and not Hitler, who instigated the genocide of European Jewry in World War II. This grotesque absurdity, an affront to all the victims of the Nazi murder machine, underlines the utter cynicism with which the Zionist rulers have wielded the Holocaust to amnesty their manifold crimes against the Palestinian people.

The reactionary mindset that was once on the periphery of Israeli society is now the common coin of many Zionist politicians. Advocates of “transfer”—the forcible expulsion of all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, and even from within Israel itself—have moved from fringe to familiar. In March, Israel’s then foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, openly demanded the beheading of supposedly disloyal Israeli Palestinians.

Today, the mayor of Jerusalem further emboldens the fascistic and ultra-Orthodox settlers to carry out pogroms and lynchings by urging Israeli Jews to arm themselves. On October 18, more than 200 settlers attacked two Palestinian villages near the West Bank town of Hebron, setting houses ablaze with firebombs. Days later, after four Palestinians were shot by Israeli soldiers, settlers provocatively marched through Palestinian areas of Hebron under Israeli military protection.

Amid a climate of racist hysteria, as the streets resound with cries of “Death to Arabs!” many fear being lynched by Zionist mobs. Mistaken for Arabs, some Israeli Jews have been attacked or shot dead by Zionist cops or fanatics. The daily terror to which black African immigrants in Israel are subjected was further underscored with the killing of Habtom Zarhum, a 29-year-old Eritrean asylum-seeker. Zarhum, whose only crime was that he was a black man in the vicinity of an attack at the Beersheba Central Bus Station, was shot by a security guard and then kicked and beaten by an Israeli mob as he lay dying in a pool of blood. An organizer of Zarhum’s memorial service lamented, “Israelis have a license for racism.”

The chauvinism rife throughout Israeli Jewish society was inherent in the Zionist project of creating a “Jewish homeland” in Arab Palestine. As the founding Zionists well knew, an exclusivist Jewish state could only be carved out through the dispossession and/or expulsion of the Palestinian people. And that is how the Israeli state was established: 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their land in 1948. The small armed camps set up by handfuls of Zionist and Orthodox diehards in the Occupied Territories seized in 1967 have since mushroomed into a population of some 650,000 Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The settler zealots serve the expansionist drive for a “Greater Israel” that, in turn, fuels an ever more virulent and widespread bigotry in the Israeli population.

The dismemberment and ghettoization of much of the Palestinian West Bank has led some Arab nationalists and liberal Zionists to abandon their former support for a “two-state solution.” Liberal Israeli journalist Gideon Levy recently remarked in a Haaretz column (17 October): “One state already exists here, and has done so for 48 years.” He went on to say that those “advocating the one-state solution are not thinking of this state—quite the opposite. They wish to undermine it and establish a different, more just and egalitarian regime. When that is established, the hatred and despair will most likely be forgotten.”

The truth of the matter is that within the framework of capitalism, there can be no just or egalitarian resolution for the Palestinian people. The Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Arab populations are interpenetrated, laying claim to the same land; under capitalism one state means one nation is dominant, i.e., the exercise of the right of national self-determination by one people necessarily comes at the expense of the other. Only in a socialist federation of the Near East can conflicting claims over land and resources be equitably resolved, and all discrimination on the basis of language, religion and nationality be eliminated. Viewed narrowly through the prism of that tiny plot of land called Israel/Palestine, this prospect appears impossible. The road to the liberation of the Palestinian masses lies in an internationalist class perspective that looks to the proletarian overthrow of bourgeois rule in Israel and also in Arab countries throughout the region (which are also home to several million Palestinians).

The stranglehold of Zionist chauvinism on the Israeli Jewish working class may today seem unbreakable. But Israel (like its Arab neighbors) is no exception to the Marxist understanding that capitalism creates its own gravedigger, the proletariat. Israel is a class-divided society, marked by huge income disparities and many political, national and ethnic fissures. In recent years, there have been protests by Jews against government austerity amid rising social discontent. The Israeli proletariat must be won to defend the Palestinian people against the Zionist ruling class, its own class enemy whose wealth is derived from the exploitation of the working class.

There is broad sympathy for the Palestinians among the well over one hundred million Arabs and many millions more Turks, Kurds, Iranians and others in the region, including significant concentrations of the industrial proletariat in Egypt, Iran and Turkey. These toilers are exploited and oppressed by their “own” ruling classes, who enforce imperialist domination. These bourgeois rulers channel justified anger against the subjugation of the Palestinians into anti-Jewish bigotry while themselves trampling on Palestinian refugees. In the course of intense class struggle and through the intervention of revolutionary Marxist parties, the workers of the Near East must be broken from all-sided bigotry and come to understand that they share a common historic interest in fighting to sweep away all the capitalist ruling classes of the region. The International Communist League, of which the Spartacist League is the U.S. section, fights to build Leninist vanguard parties to lead the struggle for a socialist federation of the Near East.

Down With U.S. Imperialism!

U.S. capitalist politicians, continuing their cynical talk about a “peace” deal, call for “calm” on both sides. In a piece in the New Yorker (12 October), Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, a prominent defender of Palestinian rights, aptly comments that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s recent acknowledgment of the failure of the Oslo process “was long overdue.” The 1993 Oslo accords were part of an effort by U.S. imperialism to impose a “Pax Americana” on the Near East in the wake of the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union, which had provided crucial diplomatic support and aid to the PLO and various Arab nationalist regimes. The accords were never intended to lead to a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories, as their leftist and nationalist promoters claimed. At the time, in an article headlined “Israel-PLO Deal for Palestinian Ghetto,” we pointed out that Oslo “does not offer even the most deformed expression of self-determination” and “would place the PLO’s seal on the national oppression of the long-suffering Palestinian Arab masses” (WV No. 583, 10 September 1993). We warned that the PLO’s political bankruptcy would allow anti-woman and anti-Jewish Islamic reactionaries such as Hamas to gain influence among the historically cosmopolitan Palestinian masses.

Khalidi concludes his piece by advising America’s imperialist rulers to “stop hiding behind the fictions of Oslo” and “act vigorously to end a system of military occupation and colonization that would crumble without their support.” Khalidi’s view is shared by many in the Palestinian solidarity milieu in the U.S., especially those around the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Their appeals, directed in the first instance at university administrations and other institutions of corporate America, are aimed at getting U.S. imperialism to pressure its Zionist junior partners to ameliorate the plight of the Palestinians. This is a deadly illusion. The U.S. imperialists, who are responsible for well over a century of mass murder and torture on a global scale, including the recent bloody wars and occupations in the Near East, are foursquare behind Israel as it commits atrocities against the Palestinians.

As Netanyahu’s freakout over the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran demonstrated, Israeli and American interests in the Near East do not always coincide. But the Zionist rulers know they can rely on bipartisan support from Washington. Those activists who hope against hope that the Democrats will some day do right by the Palestinians are oblivious to reality: historically, the Democrats have been even more fervent and bellicose than the Republicans in their support for Israel. After Obama’s Iran deal, Hillary Clinton assured wealthy Jewish donors that she would be a better friend to Israel than Obama has been. And while Bernie Sanders, touted as some kind of “socialist” by much of the fake left, recently intoned that the U.S. should play a more “even-handed” role in dealing with the Palestinians, he supported Israel’s blitzkrieg in Gaza last year and vows to continue military aid to the Zionist state. This is what pro-Palestinian activists can expect from the fraternal (i.e., not identical) twin parties of U.S. imperialism. No less misguided are the prevalent illusions in the United Nations, which is an instrument of the imperialist robber barons and butchers. Among its crimes, the UN presided over the Zionist partition in 1948 and set up the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon.

After decades of betrayals by their leadership and interminable imperialist-brokered sham “peace talks,” today the Palestinian people are more isolated than ever. We seek to convince youth and workers who side with the Palestinians that a just, egalitarian world can be realized only through the overturn of the global capitalist order. This goal requires painstaking effort to build Marxist parties—forged in uncompromising struggle against all the political agents of capitalism and against every manifestation of oppression based on race, nation, religion or sex—and to win to such parties the advanced layers of the working class and the oppressed, not least in the American bastion of imperialist reaction. This is the task to which the International Communist League is dedicated. There is no other way. Down with Zionist terror! Down with U.S. imperialism! Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!


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WV 1077

30 October 2015


Israel Out of East Jerusalem, West Bank!

Defend the Palestinians!


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