Workers Vanguard No. 1013

23 November 2012


Defend the Palestinians! Israel Out of the Occupied Territories!

Zionist Terror Machine Strikes Gaza Ghetto

NOVEMBER 19—Over the past six days, Israel’s rulers have launched more than 1,000 airstrikes against the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, slaughtering more than 100 men, women and children. The Zionists began with a missile strike that assassinated Ahmed al-Jabari, head of the military wing of Hamas, Gaza’s ruling Islamist party. As Israeli military and political spokesmen trumpet their “surgical” strikes against Hamas, homes throughout Gaza have been reduced to rubble and hospitals are filled to overflowing. This is standard operating procedure for the capitalist rulers of Israel, a Zionist garrison state founded on the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland.

The terror bombing campaign recalls the lead-up to the devastating three-week invasion of Gaza by Israeli forces in 2008-09 that left 1,400 Palestinians dead and reduced most of the 25-mile-long territory to ash and rubble. Israel has called up tens of thousands of reservists, while massing troops, tanks and armored vehicles along the border with Gaza. In the words of the Israeli interior minister, the goal of today’s “Operation Pillar of Defense” is “to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.” The international proletariat must stand in defense of the besieged Palestinians against the Zionist terror machine!

Israel’s rulers years ago turned Gaza into what is essentially a concentration camp, hemmed in by the Mediterranean on one side and an electrified fence on the other. In 2007, following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, Tel Aviv imposed a suffocating blockade that, according to U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, was designed to push the enclave’s economy “to the brink of collapse.” A recently revealed Israeli military document shows that the Zionists ruthlessly calculated the minimum number of calories required for the bare subsistence of Gaza’s population of more than 1.5 million and allowed only that much food to get through the blockade.

Now, with elections to the Israeli Knesset scheduled for January, Netanyahu figures that raining death and destruction on the Gaza ghetto will help him secure another term. Meanwhile, Barack Obama has been unreserved in his declarations of support to the Zionist butchers as they once again slaughter an effectively defenseless people. For decades, Washington’s largesse has been crucial in building up the Israeli military, which is armed with U.S. warplanes, helicopters and missiles. While Hamas has been able to acquire some improved weaponry, its rockets are very small change compared to the Zionist military machine. In opposing its “own” capitalist rulers and their military alliances, the U.S. working class must oppose all U.S. aid to Israel.

Imperialism and the Near East Cauldron

U.S. imperialism, which in the last decade alone has been responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, is the deadliest enemy of workers and the oppressed throughout the world. Whatever its policy differences with Netanyahu, the Obama White House continues to squeeze Iran for its purported move to develop nuclear weapons. As we have repeatedly stressed, it would be entirely rational for Iran to develop such weapons as a means of deterrence against the U.S. and Israel, which are massively armed with nukes.

The Obama administration also appears ready to step up its support to the reactionary opposition forces in Syria battling the bloodsoaked bourgeois regime of Bashar al-Assad. As revolutionary Marxists, we oppose both sides in the Syrian civil war, in which a victory of one combatant or the other would do nothing to further the cause of the working class and the oppressed. At the same time, we stress that the workers of the world must oppose any imperialist intervention there or in Iran as well as the starvation economic sanctions that have been imposed against those societies. In the event of imperialist attack against Syria or Iran, we would stand for their defense while maintaining proletarian political opposition to their bourgeois regimes.

The current Israeli attack takes place against a political backdrop in the Near East that has shifted since the 2009 bloodbath in Gaza. Last year’s “Arab spring” uprisings culminated in bringing to power Islamist governments, notably in Egypt and Tunisia, that are outwardly more sympathetic than their predecessors to the plight of the Palestinians. But these regimes are no less beholden to imperialist aid and IMF loans than the ones they replaced. While sending his prime minister to Gaza in a symbolic gesture of solidarity, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood has closely coordinated his every move with Washington. Prior to “Operation Pillar of Defense,” Morsi refused Palestinian requests to open the Rafah border crossing to trade, and his security forces destroyed tunnels under the wall separating Egypt from Gaza, a key route for bringing in vital food and building materials.

When Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled last year, the bourgeois media and almost the entire left internationally hailed this as the Egyptian “revolution.” The Revolutionary Socialists group in Egypt, part of the international family of supporters of the late Tony Cliff, went on to distinguish itself by openly supporting Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood in this year’s elections. Some in the U.S. International Socialist Organization and other Cliffites elsewhere expressed consternation over this abject capitulation to the reactionary Islamists. But they were quite united in hailing the Libyan opposition that acted as front men for the imperialists’ war against the Qaddafi regime. More recently, they have thrown their support to elements of the Syrian opposition, which serves as a tool of the imperialists.

A Proletarian Perspective

During the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, we underlined that the working class must emerge as a factor in its own right, acting as the leader of all the oppressed masses. This urgent need requires absolute political independence from and opposition to the Islamists, nationalists and all bourgeois forces. Thus, while defending Hamas against the Zionists’ terror campaigns in Gaza, we do not give the least political support to that Islamic fundamentalist outfit.

In 2005, the Israeli rulers evacuated the more than 8,000 Zionist settlers in the Gaza Strip, having determined that this best served their national interests. We pointed out that with Gaza remaining firmly enclosed and the West Bank surrounded by a ghetto wall and crisscrossed by military checkpoints and Jewish-only highways, “it is totally fatuous to believe that the current ‘disengagement’ from Gaza will lead to a Palestinian state including the West Bank and East Jerusalem” (WV No. 853, 2 September 2005). Yet the evacuation was glorified by perennial cheerleaders for Third World nationalism, such as the Workers World Party (WWP), which applauded signs in Gaza reading, “Today Gaza, Tomorrow Jerusalem and the West Bank” (Workers World, 18 August 2005). Having earlier promoted more left-wing, secular variants of bourgeois Arab nationalism, the WWP redirected their affections toward the anti-woman, anti-Semitic Hamas.

While many nationalists and leftists look for some sort of Arab “unity” against Israel, the fact is that the Arab bourgeois rulers have time and again revealed themselves to be enemies of the Palestinian people. Marxists fight to bring the class question to the fore, seeking to mobilize the proletariat in the predominantly Muslim countries of the Near East in struggle against their bourgeoisies, and in Israel to shatter the Zionist state from within.

We have always insisted that national emancipation for the Palestinians requires the proletarian overthrow of the Israeli capitalist rulers and also those of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, which are home to at least three million Palestinians. The Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Arab populations are interpenetrated peoples, laying claim to the same territory. Under capitalism, the exercise of the national rights of one necessarily comes at the expense of the right of self-determination of the other. Only through the creation of a planned economy 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 done away with.

Israel is a class-divided society, with workers exploited by the capitalist ruling class. We have no illusions that it will be easy to break through the chauvinism that poisons the consciousness of Jewish working people. But this task is not made easier by the criminal, indiscriminate bombings carried out by Hamas and other Palestinian forces against Israeli civilians, which drive the Jewish population further into the arms of the Zionist rulers. What is necessary is the forging of revolutionary Marxist parties in Israel/Palestine as throughout the Near East, built in opposition to all forms of nationalism and religious fundamentalism and committed to the struggle for socialist revolution on a world scale, the only road to human equality and liberation.