At this time one year ago the armed-to-the-teeth Israeli government had unleashed a furious military assault upon the people of Gaza. Some 1,400 Palestinians were ultimately killed — the majority of them civilians, including 400 women and children. Thousands more were injured, while homes and the vital infrastructure of Gaza were turned into rubble. Such was the “Happy New Year!” 2009 brought to the Palestinian people by the Zionist brutes and their chief patron, the United States government. Now, 2010 has arrived with the 1.5 million Gazans blockaded and under siege, with many still living in tents because U.S.-supported Israel and Egypt ban building supplies and rubble removal equipment.
But as always, this resilient people have refused to be crushed. In face of more Zionist murders throughout 2009; more land-grabbing for settlements and “Israeli security;” more division by highways, checkpoints, and the separation wall; and with the Gaza Strip blockaded; the Arab Palestinians continue to resist. This has earned them the admiration and support of the exploited and oppressed working people the world over, who rightfully see the Palestinian national struggle as part of their own struggles for democratic rights and class liberation.
Last year the Gazans were being bombed by U.S.-made F-16 fighters, strafed from U.S.-made Apache helicopters, and burned and cut down with U.S.-made munitions in massacre. Obama has ensured more such horrendous acts by approving $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel, the first payment in a decade-long commitment that will reach at least $30 billion. (Since Israel is required to spend 75% of this money with U.S. military contractors, this is also a gift to big business in this country.) In addition to military aid, the U.S. also provides $3.148 billion in loan guarantees to Israel.
Under Obama, $500 million in U.S. aid is also being pledged to the Palestinian Authority ... if it meets certain conditions. But the Palestinian Authority is little more than a corrupt and anti-democratic police force that suppresses the just struggles of the Palestinian masses on behalf of Israel. And U.S. Army General Keith W. Dayton oversees the training of this police force. So this money allocated to the Palestinian Authority rightfully belongs in the budget column marked “aid to Israel.” Furthermore, this figure is distinct from funding the CIA may give the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, which is classified. And, in fact, the CIA admits that it works with the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence and security forces, with the only controversies being whether it runs them or not, and whether it participates in torture of prisoners. (See Al Jazeera, Dec. 12, 2009.)
Also under Obama, the vice around Gaza is being tightened as several U.S. Army engineers work with Israel and Egypt to install underground sensors and an underground steel wall to block badly-needed supplies from being brought through tunnels from Egypt. (The Ma’an News Agency reported on December 12 that the steel plates and sensors are “Made in U.S.A.”)
Obama acts this way because support for Israel is a bedrock of the bipartisan U.S. imperial strategy for dominating the oil-rich Middle East and strategic Suez canal, with the other bedrocks being support for the Egyptian militarists and Saudi monarchy. Indeed, the region is so important to the U.S. empire that one-third of all U.S. aid, the majority of which pays for armaments, goes to just two countries, Israel and Egypt. So no matter what atrocities Israel commits against the Palestinians,
Lebanese or others, the flow of high-tech U.S. weapons continues.
But the Palestinian national struggle threatens the existence of the Israeli state, as well as being an encouragement to the Arab masses struggling against U.S.-supported regimes throughout the region — where it’s immensely popular. Thus, while working to violently crush it, Obama deceptively pretends to support it, e.g., in his June 4 Cairo speech Obama said “It is undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” The deception is that the Palestinian people already have a homeland, Palestine. Palestine includes not just the West Bank and Gaza — where the majority of Arab Palestinians have been violently forced to live by the racist, militarist, settler-colonialist Israeli state — but also the territory now presided over by the Israeli state. In fact, this state is the source of the suffering that Obama says is “undeniable,” but refuses to name.
Set up through the connivance of the Zionist fanatics and imperialist powers in 1948, this Jewish religious state was imposed upon the Palestinian people through terror, and the driving out of three-quarters of a million Arabs who have never been allowed to return. It has subsequently expanded its territory through wars, and it establishes “facts on the ground” for further expansion with a settlements policy that has placed over half a million Jews in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Elementary justice and democracy demand the destruction of this theocratic state that gives special rights to Jews and oppresses others. Justice and democracy demand replacement of the discriminatory Zionist system in Israel with one secular (non-religious), democratic state for all of Palestine; a state with equal and full rights for both Jews and Arabs, including one person, one vote. And they demand the right for all of the Palestinians forcibly exiled by the Israeli authorities to return to their historic homeland.
But Obama opposes this just and democratic solution by continuing Bush’s talk of a “two-state solution,” which would leave the Arab Palestinians confined to a state without economic, political or military power. It would be a state composed of divided “Arab reservations” (or Bantustans) which U.S.-supported Israel had the right to invade or blockade anytime “the natives” elected a government that displeased the U.S. or Israel, or anytime there was a struggle over water or other issues. It would be a state founded on the Zionist principle that hundreds of thousands of Arabs had no right to return to their old farms and villages, which oftentimes could even be seen (like today) over border walls or heavily guarded fences.
Beneath the cloak of religion, Israel is a class-divided society, with the capitalists enriching themselves by exploiting the labor power of the workers. In fact, in just a few decades Israel has gone from being one of the most egalitarian (among Jews) industrialized countries to being second only to the United States in every measure of inequality. According to Latet, an Israeli humanitarian group, every third child, every fourth elderly person and every fifth family now lives in poverty. Moreover, today the Israeli capitalists are shifting the burden of the global economic crisis onto the backs of the workers and poor, just as capitalists everywhere are doing.
But the Israeli capitalists super-exploit approximately 300,000 migrant workers from East Asia, Africa, Russia and elsewhere; in addition to the Arab workers. (Twenty percent of the citizens are Arabs, and this is expected to rise to 25 percent by 2015.) Using the same tactics as capitalists everywhere, they pit the workers against each other in a race for who will accept the worse wages and conditions. Thus, to effectively resist being further ground down requires that the Israeli Jewish workers join in the struggles of their Arab and immigrant sisters and brothersagainst super-exploitation, and the discrimination used to enforce it.
And 2009 witnessed not only strikes and protests against plant closings by super-exploited workers in small establishments, but also huge protests by the Arab population against police repression, racist killings by Zionist zealots, and discriminatory legislation. Moreover, immigrants mounted protests against deportations, including a demonstration of 1000 people in Tel Aviv.
The cause of the Israeli Jewish workers is bound up with the advancement of these fights, and to win them requires that the Zionist state be tossed on the scrap heap. The workers’ cause is also bound up with the growing struggles of youth against military service, and with the soldiers who have stood up to expose and denounce the atrocities committed by the Israeli war machine in Gaza. And to advance their cause on any of these fronts means that the workers must constantly fight against the racist, blinding Zionist worldview.
The Palestinian national struggle grew up with the liberating vision of overthrowing the Zionist state and replacing it with a secular and democratic state encompassing all of Palestine, in which Arabs and Jews would have equal rights; and appeals were made to the Israeli Jewish masses to join in this struggle. But in the late 1980s the PLO leadership formally abandoned this goal, and instead sought a two-state solution. Then, when the Palestinian Authority was set up in the 1990s, the Fatah and other PLO leaders proved to be corrupt bureaucrats who eventually worked to crush resistance to Zionist atrocities. They took this stand because they had come to represent the interests of a section of the Palestinian bourgeoisie, and were willing to trade the just democratic strivings of the Palestinians for authority over a series of Bantustans called “Palestine” (in Gaza and the West Bank). But no matter how many compromises the P.A. leaders made, the Zionists would never agree to a second state not completely dominated by Israel.
This betrayal politically disoriented the Palestinian masses who wanted full liberation, and it gave Hamas (originally supported by the Zionists as a counterweight to the secular and popular PLO) an opening to gain popular support, through their less conciliatory stand toward Israel and Western imperialism. But like the P.A., Hamas has no liberating vision of the future. It’s a backward fundamentalist trend. Like Islamic fundamentalist groups in other Arab countries, it wants to recast society along reactionary religious lines by reviving Islamic law and enforcing feudal customs. (In Gaza, for example, Hamas has sought to impose Sharia on the court system, set up “morality” police to harass women for being “inappropriately attired,” closed movie theaters, etc.) Further, its tactic of blowing up Israeli civilians shows its callous attitude toward ordinary working class people. Despite its charitable work among the poor, Hamas represents another bourgeois nationalist trend, similar in this regard to Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.
Thus, between them, the bourgeois political trends are bartering national liberation away, dividing the movement, and even if still fighting the Zionists, making the movement repellent to women, and the workers and poor farmers who are its base (as well as repellent to Israeli Jewish workers and poor). In these conditions the masses of Palestinian people face the daunting task of reorganizing their national struggle with a unifying and liberating politics that make it attractive. This means that the class and social demands of the most oppressed must be fought for within the national movement; and this requires building organization that is independent of the bourgeoisie. After all, today it is the workers and poor who are most ravaged by Zionism. It is they who have the most to gain from national liberation, which sets the stage for a more direct struggle for their class liberation. Every effort by Palestinians to organize in this direction deserves special support from workers and progressive people in the U.S.
The Democrats and Republicans seek to crush the Palestinian people’s just struggle, while also waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, attacking Pakistan and Yemen, threatening war on Iran, and beefing up of U.S. military forces in the Philippines, Colombia and elsewhere. This is being done because both these parties are tools of the monopolist capitalist class, the bourgeoisie, a class that is imperialist by its nature. Organizing solidarity with the Palestinian people (and the movements against imperialism and war overall) therefore requires building political organization independent of and against both these parties of the rich.
Moreover, during the past year we’ve painfully seen how imperialist wars abroad are inseparable from attacks on the rights and living standards of the working people at home, i.e., Obama continues Bush’s curtailment of civil liberties and hands trillions to Wall Street, while ignoring the situation of the unemployed and homeless. This provides fertile soil for intensifying work to organize the movements against imperialism and war on the class basis that can really fire them up, and turn them into a force to be reckoned with. As we enter 2010, let us thank the Palestinian people for the inspiration they provide us by stepping up the struggle against our common enemy, U.S. imperialism.
Smash the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza!
No more aid to Israel!
Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!
Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee
January 1, 2010
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