(from Detroit Workers' Voice #59, July 25, 2006)
. The Israeli Zionist leaders, backed by Bush and the Democrats, have unleashed a murderous war on Lebanon. Using the excuse that the Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon crossed into Israel to attack Israeli soldiers and take two of them hostage, Israel began a campaign of collective punishment of the entire Lebanese people. Israel's massive and indiscriminate bombing raids have already killed over three hundred Lebanese civilians. The scattershot Israeli bombing spree has targeted civilian infrastructure including water and power plants, roads and bridges. Bombs have rained down on apartment dwellings and humanitarian convoys and people merely trying to escape from the carnage. Lebanese seaports and other ports of entry have been blockaded. Over a hundred thousand people have been forced to flee the country, and a refugee crisis is developing as over half a million people have had to flee their homes. Israeli tanks and troops are gathering on the border, and it appears a large ground invasion is imminent. Moreover, a wider war can't be ruled out as Israel and the US are screaming about Syria and Iran's support for Hezbollah.
. Meanwhile, for several weeks Israel has been carrying out a bloody military campaign against
the Palestinian people in Gaza. Here too, Israel is cynically using the pretext of fighting terrorism
to terrorize the Palestinian people who have languished under the Israeli jackboot in the West
Bank and Gaza for decades. This latest Israeli incursion into Gaza began in late June, following
an Israeli soldier being taken captive by guerrillas of Hamas, the religious fundamentalist group
that dominates the present Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli military
has killed some 200 Palestinians. Israeli bombs have leveled electric power plants and
Palestinian government buildings. And Israel is promising it will soon level whole
neighborhoods. The military invasion of Gaza comes on the heels of an economic blockade
imposed by Israel. The already impoverished masses in Gaza now lack electricity, and food
supplies are dwindling. As well, Israel has detained many democratically-elected Hamas
legislators and ministers in Gaza.
Israeli terrorists pose as innocent victims
. The Israeli and US governments and mainstream media are portraying Israel as the innocent victim. According to their propaganda, Israel was just minding its own business when Hamas and Hezbollah suddenly snatched Israeli soldiers. And, allegedly, all Israel wants is to get their soldiers back and protect themselves from further attacks. But in fact, the Israeli armed forces have been running roughshod over the Palestinian territories for nearly four decades. They turned the West Bank and Gaza into a huge concentration camp. Indeed Israel itself was founded on the basis of a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Arab population of Palestine, some 59 years ago.
. Today, the Palestinians supposedly have their own government. But Israel still wants to impose its will there, annex more Palestinian lands, decide who will be allowed to govern there, etc. This, and not the saving itself from terrorism, is the real motive behind the latest Israeli atrocities in Gaza.
. The Israeli government also long ago appointed itself the overlord of Lebanon. While Israeli leaders today weep about a few Hezbollah guerrillas violating Israeli sovereignty, Israel has launched massive attacks on the whole of Lebanon whenever it felt like it. In 1982, under the pretext that there was an attempt on the life of the Israeli ambassador to London by a Palestinian, Israel launched a full-scale invasion and took over the country. They continued to occupy southern Lebanon until 2000, and even today occupy some Lebanese territory.
. The brutality of the Israeli occupation enraged the Lebanese masses and created the conditions which gave birth to Hezbollah. Hezbollah built a base of support, especially among the Shia Muslims of southern Lebanon, because it led the guerrilla resistance to the occupation that drove Israel out. Since then, the Israeli government has been waiting to take revenge. While it's true that Hezbollah stands for an oppressive, fundamentalist order in Lebanon, it is not the welfare of the Lebanese people or religious bigotry that Israel is concerned about. Israel kills or jails plenty of non-fundamentalists who oppose its policies, too. Israel's real goal is to teach the Arab masses that they must submit to Israel's war machine or be smashed.
. True, the Israeli leaders protest that they are not out to hurt the Lebanese people, just some terrorists, and that they have taken great pains to avoid civilian deaths. But the wiping out of Lebanon's infrastructure and random bombings shows this is a lie. In fact, the Israeli leaders don't give a damn about killing Arab civilians. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1996, top Israeli government spokesman Uri Dromi stated that any residents that don't abandon their homes in the path of Israel's military incursion "do so at their own risk because we assume they're connected with Hezbollah." In other words, Israeli killing of civilians isn't an unfortunate accident but a conscious policy.
. As for Israel complaining about having three of its soldiers taken captive, this is unbridled
hypocrisy. Israel has imprisoned over 9,000 Palestinians. A large number are held without any
charges being leveled, and many cases of torturing prisoners have been documented. The Israeli
government considers anyone opposed to the occupation to be a criminal, meaning virtually the
entire Palestinian populace. Israel also holds some Lebanese prisoners and has rejected requests
of even the pro-Western Lebanese government for their release. The guerrillas who seized Israeli
soldiers were demanding an exchange of prisoners. But Israel rejected this just demand,
preferring to drown the region in blood.
The Arab regimes betray the Arab masses
. The Israeli and US governments also like to point to the fact that a number of Arab
governments have placed the blame for the conflict on Hezbollah. This hardly shows justice lies
with Israel, though. This only shows these Arab regimes are more concerned about their regional
power struggles with Syria and Iran, which support Hezbollah, than preventing the Lebanese
people from being bombed by Israel. And it shows they are happy to have Israel do some of their
dirty work for them. After all, even when regimes like the fundamentalist Saudi monarchy or the
Egyptian police-state have complained about Israeli policy, they never stopped their own
brutality against the Arab masses. If these Arab governments now also voice qualms about Israel
going too far, that's in large part due to their fear the oppressed Arab masses will rise up. Neither
these Arab governments nor Syria or Iran represent the interests of the working people in the
US imperialism stands by its Israeli watchdog
. Israel's rampage in Gaza and Lebanon has gotten the full support of the Bush administration. While feigning concern about the Lebanese people, they blocked any efforts in the UN at getting a cease-fire. Bush and Condi Rice say a cease-fire would be nice, but not now. First, they want Israel to finish its slaughter in Lebanon. To that end, they are rushing a delivery of powerful "smart bombs" to Israel. The Bush administration whitewashes the Israeli aggression as self-defense, and blames all the violence on Hezbollah. The US has also pushed hard to lay the blame for this violence on Iran and Syria. These are reactionary regimes, but Bush's backing of Israel shows once again that his opposition to Iran and Syria is simply to ensure that US and Israel can lord over the Middle East.
. Bush's stand not only shows the administration's support for the Israeli aggression but also exposes Bush's lies about the US spreading democracy throughout the Middle East. Several months ago, Bush was bragging that elections in the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon were showcases for American-inspired democratic changes. Now Israel is smashing the elected Palestinian government. Bush pleads that Israel should not topple the pro-Western government led by Prime Minister Siniora in Lebanon. But while yesterday the US threatened Syria for interfering in Lebanese affairs, today Bush finds it just dandy if Israel runs roughshod over Lebanese sovereignty. Bush is all for democracy so long as it doesn't interfere with every whim of US or Israeli policy.
. When it comes to backing Israel, however, the Democratic politicians take a back seat to no one. They too cheer on Israel's aggression as self-defense. As Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) put it: "The United States must stand by Israel as she defends herself. " Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) issued a statement that absolved Israel of any responsibility for the violence in Gaza or Lebanon but railed against the "unprovoked attack by Hezbollah against Israel."
. Both parties support Israel because both are in the pocket of big business. The US capitalists
want to make sure they dominate the Middle East and its oil resources, and Israel serves as a
local guard-dog for US interests in the region. It is a hammer to be used against mass movements
or regimes that might threaten US hegemony. That's why all administrations, Republican or
Democrat, have given massive military and economic aid to Israel. Support for Israel is not just a
Bush policy, but an integral part of how the US imperialist system of world domination operates.
Imperialist "buffer-zone" diplomacy
. While the Bush administration cheers on Israeli war crimes, they are promoting that they will
eventually bring a lasting peace to both Lebanon and Israel through creating a buffer zone
patrolled by other countries and/or the UN. The US will then pose as honest brokers between the
two countries. What a fraud! The US won't even consider a cease-fire until Israel decides it has
reduced enough of Lebanon to rubble. The buffer zone, like previous buffer zones set up under
the auspices of the UN, will not really prevent Israel from launching future invasions. The US
wants the international military force in the buffer zone to enforce the disarmament of Hezbollah,
but the Israeli war machine will remain untouched. And, it's taken for granted that the people of
south Lebanon should live under this international occupation, since the buffer zone won't
involve any Israeli territory. In other words, this "even-handed" plan of US imperialism is
designed to help Israel carry out its dirty work.
Stand with the Palestinian and Lebanese masses!
. Workers in the US should stand with the Palestinian and Lebanese masses against the Israeli Zionist rulers and US imperialism.
. Solidarity with the Palestinian people means demanding an end to the present Israeli economic and military strangulation of Gaza and the West Bank. But this will only provide a bit of temporary relief. Some believe the suffering of the Palestinian people will end under a "two-state" solution, where a Palestinian mini-state is set up next to Israel. But the mini-state would inevitably be little more than a bantustan such as existed when apartheid reigned in South Africa. The mini-state would have formal independence, but the Palestinians would be forced to give concessions to Israel protecting its economic interests and guaranteeing its military dominance. Should the weak Palestinian state ever do something Israel opposed, it would be in no position to stave off another direct military occupation by Israel. Indeed, the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza shows what the future of any Palestinian mini-state would be that dared to do something opposed by Israel. Meanwhile, Israel has been unilaterally imposing its own "two-state" solution. It packed up its settlements in Gaza, but at the same time plans to annex a large part of the West Bank. And now it has invaded the supposedly "freed" Gaza.
. A just and lasting solution to the suffering of the Palestinians cannot take place so long as Israel exists as a Zionist state. The Zionist state was founded as a Jewish theocracy, where, to ensure a Jewish majority, much of the Arab population was forcibly expelled. Jews enjoyed a privileged position over the remaining Arab population, too. The expelled Palestinians were confined to the West Bank and Gaza, which basically functioned as big internment camps, or forced into exile around the world. The only democratic solution would be to merge the region now divided into Israel and the West Bank/Gaza into a democratic and secular state where Arabs and Jews had equal rights and to allow for the "right of return" of Palestinians who have been exiled around the world.
. Neither the US or Israel is interested in such a democratic solution. Unfortunately, among the main Palestinian trends, the secular PLO is resigned to begging for a dysfunctional mini-state, and Hamas would like to set up an Islamic theocracy. This means the Palestinian workers and poor will have to develop their own new class trends in order to achieve their democratic aspirations.
. We must also rally in defense of the besieged masses of Lebanon. We should expose the pretexts for Israel's aggression, and demand an immediate end to its war on Lebanon. We should target the Zionist state, a state whose whole existence has been based on invasions of Arab lands, as the root cause of the aggression.
. The Lebanese people have never accepted Israeli incursions into their country. When Israel invaded in 1982 to crush the Palestinian movement by destroying the PLO forces in Lebanon, the Lebanese masses opposed this, and various secular left trends helped to organize the struggle. That occupation drew new sections of the masses to the struggle, in particular among the southern Shia population. The lengthy guerrilla resistance in southern Lebanon that eventually drove out Israel in 2000 also enjoyed wide support across the country. Israel's present atrocities are bound to spread support for resistance, too.
. The overwhelming dominance of Hezbollah in the organized resistance to Israel presents
problems for the Lebanese masses, however. Hezbollah's model society is a fundamentalist
theocracy, like Iran. Its social programs and its fight against Israeli aggression have attracted the
masses, but it does not see the struggle as one to unite the working people as a whole, but to
elevate one religious sect over others. Hezbollah blurs the distinction between fighting Israeli
Zionism and fighting Jews in general. None of this justifies the war waged by the Zionist leaders,
whose anti-Arab bigotry has been reflected in Israel's indiscriminate massacres and whose racism
has helped find an audience for the fundamentalist prejudices preached by Hezbollah. But it
means that the working masses in Lebanon face the task of directing the sentiments to oppose
Israeli aggression to begin to build up new secular, class trends.
Target US imperialism, Israel's main backer!
. Working people and activists in the US have a special duty, as "our" government is the main
supporter of Israel. No matter what atrocities Israel commits, the flow of high-tech US weapons
continues. Republicans and Democrats alike cheer on Israeli aggression. Behind these parties is
the capitalist class. While they drive US workers down, they seek to impose their will around the
world, and Israel helps them do this in the Middle East. Let's denounce the bipartisan support for
Israel's war machine and target the imperialist system that's behind it.
Down with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon!
Down with US imperialist aid to Israel!
Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza!
For a democratic, secular Palestine with equal rights for Arabs and Jews!
Last modified: July 25, 2006.
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