30-05-2021: The death toll from the latest round of Israeli state bombardment of Gaza stands at 213, including 61 children and 36 women, while 23 Palestinians have been slain in the West Bank. The aftermath of the blitzkrieg by the Zionist Israeli state will be as difficult to deal with for the Palestinians as the unconscionable loss of life. The 11-day assault, which temporarily ended with a ceasefire on May 22, resulted in 800 000 in Gaza lacking access to clean water due to 50% of the water infrastructure being damaged by guided missiles. The United Nations’ (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that nearly 17 000 residential or commercial units were damaged or destroyed by air strikes, with 769 of them rendered uninhabitable. Schools in Gaza were closed, affecting 600 000 children.
The conflict was partially sparked by Israeli police being sent to arrest protestors in the Al Aqsa Mosque, who they claimed were throwing stones. In response, Hamas – the militant Islamist party which rules Gaza – requested the removal of police. When this did not materialise, Hamas began launching rockets on Israeli targets. It is claimed that Hamas launched 3300 rockets towards Israeli cities and towns, which took the lives of 10 people. Another trigger for the conflict were the forced expulsions by Israeli settlers in the East Jerusalem area of Sheikh Jarrah, with the tacit approval of the Israeli authorities. Since 2020, eviction notices have been served to 13 Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. These evictions are based on a 1970 law which exclusively allows Jewish Israelis to take back land they claim to have lost before the state of Israel was established in 1948. The fact that the Palestinian families have lived there ever since is virtually dismissed.
One sided war
The Israeli state attacks on Palestinians is the worst since the war of 2014, but this time there are additional factors – such as Israeli settler pogroms. In some of the towns of ’48 Palestine, such as Lydd (Lod), armed Israeli settlers have been patrolling the streets with the protection of the police, looking for Palestinians to harass or harm. There were scenes of these mobs shooting at Palestinian homes and vandalising and destroying property, including Mosques. In Bat Yam, Israeli mobs lynched a Palestinian man, who was lucky to escape with his life. In one incident in Haifa, an Arab driver found himself in the midst of a mob chanting “Death to Arabs”. As he tried to flee, he struck one of the rioters. He was later detained by police. Even though Israeli President Netanyahu denounced the Israeli rioters, there appears to be efforts to use the Zionist mobs as auxiliary forces to the military assault.
Regardless of the launching of some crude rockets by Hamas, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not one of “two sides”, but rather a one-sided war against an essentially defenceless population. The Zionist state of Israel has the backing of the entirety of US imperialism, with the assistance of the European Union (EU) and other Western allies. The US government supplies Israel with $3.8 billion in “aid” each year, and in 2019 all but 0.2% of this money went to the Israeli military. Without this material financial/military backing, the Zionist state of Israel effectively ceases to exist, as it would be overrun the Arab masses. Palestine, on the other hand, has no military to speak of, and does not have its own state. In this unjust and one-sided war, elementary justice is on the Palestinian side, and workers the world over should stand with them against US/EU imperialism.
At the same time, there is much to be desired politically from the Palestinian resistance. Hamas’ mixture of Islam and nationalism offers no political solution, and no way forward. Firing rockets in response to the assault of the Israeli state may win it sympathy amongst suffering Palestinians, but these salvos also give the Israeli state political ammunition for their murderous acts. The conservative Fatah and the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas cancelled Palestinian elections in late April, probably concerned that Hamas may perform strongly. Hamas labelled the indefinite postponement a “coup”, which is not far from the truth. The bitter rivalry between Hamas and Fatah obscures the fact that both parties ultimately base themselves on Palestinian nationalism, which creates a barrier to Israeli and Palestinian working-class co-operation before a match has been struck.
In addition, the vast majority of the Palestinian solidarity movement, especially that in the West, is mired in multiple and cascading levels of hypocrisy which beggar belief. One could well ask whether they are in fact as “pro-Palestine” and “anti-Israel” as they claim to be. For example, many of the Palestine solidarity organisations and self-proclaimed left parties who lead “Free Palestine” demonstrations do not question the risible claim that the world is enduring a “pandemic”. The very existence of SARS-CoV-2 is scientifically disputed, let alone “Covid-19”. It is more likely a cover for capitalism devolving into a cruel fascism, throwing millions of workers into unemployment, and driving down living standards alongside the elimination of basic civil rights. Many left parties became known as the “lockdown left” for ably assisting the state crushing innocent and healthy workers via lockdowns, facemasks and experimental vaccines. Their forceful backing of authority they otherwise claim to oppose was stark – but no more so in the case of the Israeli state. The Israeli state was arguably the most aggressive in enforcing lockdowns, as well as attempting to all but mandate the dangerous Covid “vaccine”. They enforced a Covid Green Pass which is so absolute it nearly prevents unvaccinated Israelis from being able to participate in society. So if the Zionist Israeli state is over the top with Covid, according to “progressive” Palestine solidarity activists – why is it not an ally?
Axis of Resistance and Palestine
Pro-Palestine and “left” Covid practitioners ignore this obvious contradiction, which only adds another layer to their stunning sanctimony in opposing the “Axis of Resistance” (Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and others) during the imperialist war on Syria from 2011 onwards. Palestinians themselves and much of its international solidarity movement was split during the dirty war waged by the US Empire for regime change in Syria. Some Palestinians and their backers inexplicably backed the proxy war on Syria, while some Palestinian militia based in the Yarmouk refugee camp actively fought on the side of the Syrian Arab Republic, Iran, Hezbollah and others against the US/EU led assault. The Islamic Republic of Iran covertly supplies Hamas with weapons and funding to resist the offensive of the Zionist Israeli state, for which Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh offered public thanks. Yet many pro-Palestine solidarity organisations and left parties effectively bloc with the US Empire with their dangerous regime change provocations towards Iran.
What is more, the Zionist Israeli state has bombed Syria more than 400 times since 2011, without a peep of protest from almost all of those now raising their voice against the latest Israeli bombing of Gaza. The real agenda of some Palestinian solidarity stands exposed when they vociferously oppose the Israeli state bombing Palestine, but barely lift a finger when the Israeli state bombs Syria. But it goes further. The Israeli state was exposed as providing material support, medical aid and air strike support to ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliated groups waging war against Syria for several years. The Zionist Israeli state was effectively coordinating efforts with the murderous barbarian mercenary terrorists the US Empire falsely claimed to be combatting – yet none of this warranted a sprig of condemnation from most pro-Palestine left parties. Israeli state repression of Palestine is wrong, but Israeli state aid, assistance and material back up for ISIS and Al Qaeda is fine and dandy?
The Lebanese Hezbollah is likewise known for its support for the Palestinian resistance. Recently Hezbollah sent a delegation to meet with Hamas and Islamic Jihad commanders, during which they pledged “complete support” to the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli enemy. Hezbollah inflicted a severe military defeat on the Israeli state in 2006 when it invaded Lebanon with the express aim of wiping out Hezbollah. As decisive as the military victory was, it was also a political defeat for the US government, which backed Israel to the hilt. Despite this, many supposedly pro-Palestine leftists not only ignore Hezbollah’s deeds, but undermine it by backing anti-Hezbollah uprisings in Lebanon. In short, without Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, the Palestinian resistance would not exist. Unfortunately, for many Palestinian solidarity types, acknowledging this would mean breaking with their de-facto overall backing of US imperialist foreign policy – something they are not prepared to do.
The liberal trap of BDS
Even though some Western leftists are sheepish about it, many of them abjectly fail to put forward a Marxist critique of the liberal Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Every element of BDS is an appeal to non-working class elements, and even implore the direct class enemy to “join” the campaign. “Boycott” refers to consumer boycotts of Israeli produced goods and services – which assumes that people can change the functioning of not only corporations, but capitalism itself, by choosing to consume different products. It also assumes that working class people have the time and the disposable income to investigate the source of a product, when many of them only have time for a once-a-week grocery run, let alone a shop for expensive treats. The middle and upper classes have the luxury of time and spare wads of cash, but most workers generally do not.
“Divestment” refers to pleas direct to corporate vultures themselves to invest their millions anywhere else apart from Israel. It implies that if a corporation divests their financial interests from Israeli businesses, they are therefore no longer “bad” corporations, but very “good” ones. This is petty-bourgeois nonsense. A capitalist corporation operates by exploiting the labour of the working class and the natural environment. Its function is plunder, which is why socialists organise to expropriate corporations, or at least initially the largest ones, for public benefit. BDS “divestment” inherently recognises the right of capitalists to enrich themselves, which is anything but progressive.
“Sanctions” refers to plaintive entreaties aimed towards not only capitalist states, but the very imperialist states which provide the material, political, financial and military aid to the Zionist state itself! Its as if the open and organised imperialist states – the US, the EU, Canada, Australia etc. – can somehow be fraternal allies (!) in the struggle against “Israel”. A better definition of liberalism cannot be found. Such demands reinforce nationalist claptrap (“our government”!) amongst workers when its precise opposite – working class internationalism – is most sorely needed. If “our own” bourgeois class can improve their image by applying sanctions on “Israel”, why bother with class struggle?
Every political tactic used by Marxists must seek to raise the level class consciousness amongst workers, domestically and internationally. BDS does the direct opposite – it marshals the “people” of the world against “Israel”, when the aim should be to co-ordinate joint action by Israeli, Palestinian and international workers against capitalism and against imperialism. As much of a problem as Zionism (the ideology of an exclusively Jewish state for Jewish people) is, it can only be overcome by the removal of capitalism in Israel and Palestine. Zionism is not at all threatened by Palestinian nationalism, even when it is backed by millions of misguided solidarity activists worldwide. This is because the nationalism of a small state automatically leads to the recognition, in turn, to the nationalism of a large state. In fact, it recognises the “right” of even imperialist states to exist.
Neither the nationalism of Hamas, Fatah or BDS offers the smallest possibility of liberating oppressed Palestinians. What is required is a bi-national Arab-Hebrew workers’ state, as part of a socialist federation of the Middle East. Key to this task is the forging of Leninist vanguard parties throughout the region, which seeks to prepare a socialist revolution. As far away as that prospect now appears, the barriers of nationality and religion cannot be overcome without it.
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