Detroit Workers' Voice #32

. The following article from DWV #32, Sept. 5, 2002 is an updated version of a similar article from DWV #30, May 1, 2002. DWV is published by the Detroit Marxist-Leninist Study Group.

Solidarity with the Palestinian people!

Down with Sharon's massacres!

. Each day brings news of another Israeli raid on a Palestinian town, and another killing spree by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Almost half a year ago, the IDF reoccupied the West Bank in "Operation Defensive Shield". They're still there, and they have extended their operations to Gaza. For example, on July 23 an Israeli F-16 sent a 2,000_pound bomb into a crowded apartment block in the Daraj neighborhood of Gaza City, wounding about 150 people and killing 15.

The Israelis claim to merely be rooting out some terrorists, but they have taken the entire Palestinian people as their enemy. The IDF has sought to destroy as many institutions of Palestinian life as it could. It has bulldozed whole neighborhoods to rubble, and put the entire population of towns under a 24-hour curfew for days at a time. The Palestinian economy, poverty-stricken as it was, has now been paralyzed. Houses, factories, vehicles, and water lines have been smashed; roads, houses and farms are being bulldozed each day; jobs are gone; and malnutrition is spreading. Meanwhile Israel assassinates one Palestinian leader after another, with [Israeli Prime Minister] Sharon serving as judge, jury and executioner.

But the Palestinians have not been subdued. When the IDF first went into the West Bank in late March and April, it was met with protracted resistance in a number of towns and the Jenin refugee camp. There were tales of heroism from all over the West bank, concerning fighters and civilians alike. The IDF backed off its plans to follow up with an immediate reoccupation of Gaza. Since then, the Palestinian movement has entered a period of disorientation, with different views clashing on how to fight the Israeli occupation. But the intifada has not been extinguished, and working people throughout the Arab world are watching the situation with the utmost concern.

Bush and the Democrats back Israeli aggression

. Originally, after his election, the Bush administration stood aside from negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian authority. But this didn't mean that Bush was neutral. The billions of dollars of US aid to Israel never stopped; and the US-Israeli military cooperation never stopped.

. Today Bush sometimes talks of seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but he has given Sharon a free hand to devastate the West Bank. He stands aside as the IDF tramples Palestinian towns, and he backs Israel in demanding a change in the Palestinian leadership. He called for Israeli withdrawal, but he then interpreted the blowing up of one Palestinian town after another as "steps to withdrawal". Meanwhile the congressional Democrats have called for Bush to take an even harsher line against the Palestinians.

. This bipartisan consensus backing Israel is not because pro-Israeli PACs like AIPAC give money to politicians. It is because support for Israel is a key part of US imperialist policy in the Middle East. US imperialism regards the Middle East and its oil as an area of "vital US interest". Israel provides a continual pressure against other Middle Eastern countries. Since its formation, Israel has always coordinated its policy with one or another Western imperialist policy. As a result, today many ultra-conservative fundamentalist Christian politicians support Israel.

. Thus the brutality of Sharon's current offensive is an indictment not just of Israeli zionism, but of US imperialism as well.

Who supports the Palestinian people?

. If US imperialism is no friend to the Palestinians, what about the Arab governments? They talk a lot about the Palestinians, but they do little. It is the Arab working masses who have gone into the street and demonstrated against Sharon's offensive. Reactionary governments like that of Saudi Arabia have put forth a peace plan because they are afraid that they may be overthrown by their own people.

. It is the working masses around the world who are the real friends of the Palestinian people. The Arab masses are the most immediate support for the Palestinians, and their action is feared by both Arab governments and the imperialist powers. But many common people everywhere are shocked at Sharon's genocidal frenzy against the Palestinians. Activists at the earth summit in Johannesburg demonstrated on Sept. 2 against the appearance of Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. A number of Jewish workers have also been horrified, even inside Israel itself. Jews have been prominent at demonstrations against Sharon in the US. And hundreds of IDF reservists, the "refuseniks", refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories.

. This is a time to go among the workers and rally them to the side of the Palestinian people. The majority of the workers aren't yet clear on either imperialism or the situation in Palestine, but a ferment is beginning. The success of the April 20th demonstrations in Washington, DC and San Francisco shows that more people are getting angry at this or that aspect of Bush's "war on terrorism". It shows that Bush's policy on Israel is especially hated. It is the working people who will provide the best base for future work on this issue. It is in their class interest to oppose imperialism, just as supporting imperialism is in the class interest of the big oil and other capitalist interests who finance both the Bush-ite Republicans and the Congressional Democrats.

For the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people

. The root of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is based in the very existence of Israel as a zionist state, where Jews have privileged rights over non-Jews. A zionist state can only be maintained by apartheid_like oppression of the Palestinians. If there were a vote of all the people of the area, the expelled Palestinians as well as the current inhabitants of Israel/Palestine, Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish state. To obtain a zionist majority, it was necessary to expel the large majority of the Palestinians in 1948 when Israel was established. To keep this majority, it is necessary to give citizenship to any Jews from any part of the world, while denying the "right to return" to expelled Palestinian families. It is necessary to make Israeli Arabs into second-class citizens, while denying any rights to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, to destroy their institutions, and to force as many to leave as possible. Sharon is a particularly blood-thirsty leader, but all Israeli governments have followed the same basic policy of denying rights to the Palestinians.

. The only democratic solution to the problem would be to merge the region now divided into Israel and the Occupied Territories into a democratic state, where no religious group has special privileges. This would provide the right to self-determination to the Palestinian people, who would be the majority in such an area. The present Israeli Jews, whether from families that lived in Palestine prior to 1948, or those who have since emigrated to Israel, would also be full citizens of such a Palestine. This would not only provide a durable peace, but the fastest integration of Jewish and Arab working people.

. It is a fundamental democratic principle that no state should be based on religion. Religious belief (or lack of it) should be a private matter. There should not be a Jewish state, an Islamic state, a Buddhist state or a Christian state. Democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere requires eliminating all such theocratic states.

The mirage of the two-state solution

. But US imperialism isn't interested in a democratic solution. Its interest lies in dominating the Middle East and its oil, and it finds the existence of Israel useful to this aim. Thus Bush has stated repeatedly that the cornerstone of US policy towards the Palestinians is to preserve the Israeli state.

. So the diplomats aren't talking about a democratic solution. They take it for granted that a Jewish theocratic state is to remain, and that the majority of the Palestinians will stay exiled. Once again they are making vague promises about a two-state solution, and even Bush has joined the game. There may be a mini-state in the Occupied Territories if Israel is given enough guarantees of its security and if the Palestinians only elect Israeli-approved leaders. The wishes of the Palestinians aside, the "two state" solution has never meant two equal states, neither in territory nor in rights. Israel is to have a monopoly of tanks and aircraft, while the Palestinians are to entrust their security to the Israelis. In the name of Israeli security, the mini-state will be an Israeli protectorate, stripped of any real power, possibly not even over its water supply, its borders, and its immigration policy. And Palestinian families will still be divided, with some members living in Israel, some in the mini-state, and some still exiled abroad.

. Meanwhile Israel is pondering what it calls "separation". Under this plan, Israel would unilaterally create its own "two-state solution". It would annex more of the Occupied Territories, build a wall around the rest, and withdraw from the walled-off area. The Palestinians wouldn't get a state, but a non-state, consisting of several walled-off enclaves, and they would live under constant threat of more IDF incursions.

. Any new two-state plan would have to surmount the same obstacles that sunk the Oslo agreements of 1993, which were also supposed to result in a Palestinian state. Under Oslo, there was an end to the direct military occupation of part of the Occupied Territories. But right from the start, Israel kept building more Jewish-only settlements, and dragging its feet on withdrawal from the West Bank. It's been a decade since Oslo. And still today there's no Palestinian state. Instead there are Israeli tanks rolling over the West Bank cities, and Israel is trying to wipe out the limited Palestinian Authority set up as a result of Oslo. And so the first intifadeh, which Oslo was intended to end, has been replaced by the second.

. Indeed some Israeli politicians, such as Prime Minister Sharon, dream about what they call `transfer', in which the West Bank would be ethnically cleansed of Palestinians. They hope that the hardships of the new Israeli military occupation will drive many Palestinians away altogether. From their point of view, the more unemployment and hunger they create in the West Bank and Gaza, the more olive groves and water works they destroy, and the more schools and hospitals they cripple, the better. They note expectantly that tens of thousands of Palestinians have already fled the West Bank and Gaza this year, and they are making it difficult for them to return.

. If, despite everything, a Palestinian mini-state does come into being, there would still be need for further struggle for Palestinian rights. The division of Israel/Palestine into two states would continue the present system of religious apartheid. The form of the struggle would change. Class divisions among Palestinians will sharpen, just as they did under Oslo. Palestinians workers and would-be capitalists would increasingly quarrel over what the mini-state should do with the meager resources at its disposal. But at the same time, Israeli harassment, and the struggle against it, will also continue.

Palestinian resistance

. The rigors of the Israeli occupation haven't subdued the Palestinian people. Earlier this year, the entrance of the IDF into West Bank cities was met by stubborn resistance. The IDF was afraid to engage in hand-to-hand fighting with the Palestinian fighters. It couldn't dislodge them from the refugee camps and towns of the West Bank without flattening whole neighborhoods and holding entire cities hostage.

. But the Palestinian resistance faces a crisis of orientation. The new Israeli tactics; the destruction of so much of the West Bank; the assassination of so many leaders by Israel; the pent-up dissatisfaction with the Palestinian Authority; and the dire economic situation has led to the views of many of the existing groups being questioned. This is a time of realignment among the Palestinian masses.

. The Palestinian Authority has been led by Yasser Arafat and his associates. While Sharon and Bush demand the removal of Yasser Arafat from the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, Arafat seeks to placate them by making one deal after another to suppress anti-Israeli protest. He seeks to obtain a Palestinian state by wheeling-and-dealing with the Arab bourgeoisie and the big powers. He has represented the would-be Palestinian bourgeoisie. His administration has been autocratic and unconcerned with the needs of the poverty-stricken masses.

. The fundamentalist groups have been trying to fill the vacuum left by the Palestinian Authority. They would like to replace Jewish theocracy with Islamic theocracy. This expresses their general idea of fighting against Jews, instead of against all discrimination and oppression.

. The secular groups of fighters are at a crossroads. While many won't directly flout Arafat, they increasingly follow their own direction. The growth of such action is crucial for the Palestinians. But these groups haven't put forward a different class orientation from Arafat. Yet it is precisely the development of a movement that recognizes the antagonism between the class interests of the toiling Palestinians and the interests of the bourgeoisie of all countries, that is essential. How these groups evolve, and whether a class- conscious trend grows within the Palestinian resistance movement, will have a big influence on the evolution of the Palestinian struggle.

. The increase in bomb atrocities against random Jewish civilians has been a result of the extreme desperation of people whose lives have been utterly crushed, and who no longer have faith in any other method of struggle. They are victims of atrocities from the IDF, which is responsible for the large majority of civilian killings in the region, and they have decided to reply in kind. These attacks are harmful. Each bomb shows that the feeling of class solidarity among workers of different backgrounds has been swamped by the nationalist hatreds by Israeli occupation and by the murderous savagery of the IDF.

Solidarity with the Palestinian people!

. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict might have been resolved long ago if the Israeli government hadn't been backed by US imperialism and other big powers. The Palestinians face the weight not only of Israeli intransigence, but of US economic, military and diplomatic pressure. This shows that this struggle is likely to be a long one, and that the Palestinian people need the support of other peoples. It is important for American workers to render them support. The bourgeois parties aren't going to do this. Indeed, exposing what US imperialism is doing in the Middle East helps discredit the bourgeois parties and encourages struggle here against the exploitation of our own American bourgeoisie. We should expose the lies about the Palestinian struggle. The main massacre of civilians in Israel/Palestine is from the IDF. We must show the root of the present violence in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the root of the entire conflict in the denial of the right to self- determination of the Palestinian people. We should oppose the persecution of Palestinians and other Arabs in the US, which is being stepped up under Bush's "war on terrorism".

. We should demand an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the removal of the Jewish-only settlements, and an end to IDF incursions on Palestinian towns. We must also demand the "right to return" for Palestinians, an end to the second-class status of Israeli Arabs, and an end to Israeli dictation over Palestinian institutions. We should recognize that a Palestinian mini-state with mini-rights, although better than direct Israeli military occupation, is a mockery of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. A democratic and lasting solution requires the creation of a single, democratic, secular state embracing the region of both present-day Israel and the Occupied Territories.

. We should give support to the struggle to build up a class-conscious trend in the Palestinian resistance, separate from either the fundamentalists or the secular bourgeoisie led by Arafat. And we should encourage the Jewish dissenters in Israel to oppose not only the oppression of the Occupied Territories, but the maintenance of a zionist theocracy as well.

. The struggle should be developed on an internationalist basis. While exposing the Israeli government, we must debunk notorious anti-semitic forgeries like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and ridicule holocaust revisionism, which denies the Nazi massacre of the Jews in World War II. Anti-semitism deflects the struggle away from fighting imperialism, and prevents unity among workers of all religions and nationalities.

. Solidarity with the Palestinian people is an important part of opposing US imperialism. It builds unity between American workers and peoples around the world oppressed by US imperialism, its allies such as the Israeli government, and US-backed local bourgeoisies. And it helps undermine the Bush administration's drive for more wars and more repression.

Down with Israeli occupation!
Freedom for the Palestinian people!

For a democratic, secular Palestine where no religious group has special privileges!

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Last changed on September 12, 2002.