Starting December 27th, Israel unleashed hell on Gaza. Into its second week, the death toll is approaching one thousand, the great majority civilians (including hundreds of children) – killed by Israeli bombs and missiles aimed at densely populated areas using U.S.-supplied planes and ammunition. Thousands more are wounded. Israel is openly targeting hospitals, schools and mosques, doing its utmost not only to kill but to destroy what is left of the normal lives of the living.
This massacre follows the land, sea and air blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza since mid-2007, impoverishing and starving the million and a half residents of what is in fact the world’s largest prison camp. Many of the injured will also die as a direct consequence of the blockade, which is responsible for dire shortages of basic foods, water, electricity and medicine.
Several Israelis have been killed by the Palestinian resistance. We place the responsibility for the deaths and injuries suffered by both Palestinians and Israelis on the Israeli government. The current slaughter is only the latest atrocity against the Palestinian people by Israel. The colonial-settler state’s very formation was a crime, founded as it was on the blatant theft of territory. Indeed, Israel can only survive as a heavily subsidized outpost of imperialism – repressing the Palestinian population, imprisoning and killing those who resist. This is the consequence of the establishment of an exclusively Jewish state in the heart of the Arab world, and by now even Israeli historians have acknowledged the huge ethnic cleansing that was required in order to found their state. For the over one million Palestinian Arabs living within Israel’s 1948 borders, and for the five million outside there can be no justice and no peace as long as the racially defined apartheid state of Israel exists.
The working classes and oppressed peoples of the world share a common interest with the Palestinians in seeing Israel and its U.S. enabler defeated. To forge a united struggle of the international working class against capitalism, workers in the imperialist countries must take the side of oppressed peoples in every clash with imperialism. Every blow against the imperialists abroad benefits workers in the imperialist countries too, weakening their ruling classes and making them more vulnerable to mass struggles at home. We working-class communists of the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) state clearly that despite our political opposition to the Hamas government, we stand squarely on their side against the assault. Toward the end of defeating the invaders, we oppose attacks on Israeli non-settler civilians, which only give the Zionist state excuses for its wanton massacre.
Just as with the U.S. in Iraq, Israel’s excuses for its onslaught are a tissue of lies. Israel justifies its onslaught on the grounds that Hamas is a “terrorist” organization. But Hamas’ rocket attacks on nearby Israeli towns are no match for Israel’s tanks, missiles and aircraft, the terrorizing weapons of modern industrial warfare. Israel denounces Hamas for violating the cease-fire, but Israel ignores all cease-fires and U.N. resolutions, carrying out assassinations and incursions and all the while enforcing its starvation blockade.
Israel is targeting the entire Palestinian people. Indeed last year Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai promised the Palestinians of Gaza a “shoah” – the Hebrew name for the Nazi holocaust that murdered millions of Jews in the 1940’s. The name is apt – for Gaza is indeed the Warsaw Ghetto of today, and Israel is repeating the Nazi’s policy of collective punishment.
The bloodbath in Gaza is designed to crush the hopes of Palestinians for independence or human rights in their country. Israeli leaders quarrel over whether their final aim is to complete the ethnic cleansing by the forced removal of the entire Palestinian population – or simply to deepen the present policy of apartheid, constraining the Palestinians in ever-smaller bantustans and stealing their land for more colonial settlers. In any case, Israel does not want peace: it is dedicated to constant harassment and terror attacks to intimidate and subjugate the Palestinians, in both Gaza and the West Bank.
Other reasons behind the current assault are to boost the chances of Israel’s governing coalition parties in the upcoming elections – and no doubt to regain some prestige after the drubbing Israel took at the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006. The attack was also timed to create “facts on the ground” before the Obama administration takes office in the U.S., since Israeli hawks fear that Obama will hold them on a tighter rein than did Bush. But Barack Obama, a loyal tool of American imperialism, is unmistakably on their side. He has been “closely monitoring” the situation – and in the face of mass murder silence means approval. In any case, his spokesmen have announced that he stands with Israel, along with his designated Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
Hoping to oust or decimate Hamas, Israel favors the notoriously corrupt Fatah Party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which seized control of the West Bank after Hamas won a majority in the all-Palestinian parliamentary election in 2006. Fatah was itself once designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Israel. Now it is a compliant imperialist tool that stifles resistance against Israel’s occupation. While there have been demonstrations against Israel’s bloody assault in several Israeli cities, including a 10,000-strong march in Tel Aviv last weekend, Fatah has banned pro-Hamas actions in the West Bank, and only a few hundred have been allowed to protest against Israel. Even with an accommodationist regime Israel continues to seize Palestinian land, expand its illegal settlements on the West Bank and lets its settlers terrorize Palestinians with impunity.
For years revolutionaries were told by nationalists and Stalinists that the Fatah’s PLO was the rightful representative of the Palestinians and could not be criticized. Now that Fatah serves as the Zionists’ cop, the field has been handed to Hamas, which at least so far has not volunteered to join Fatah in policing the masses for imperialism. We said all along that the Palestinian bourgeoisie was too dependent on imperialism and too fearful of the masses to overturn Zionist rule. Fatah’s betrayal is one more confirmation of Leon Trotsky’s method of permanent revolution: the only solution is working-class revolution throughout the region.
Also complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians are the bourgeois Arab regimes, above all that of Mubarak in Egypt, which collaborates with Israel in keeping shut the gates to the Gaza prison. Hezbollah and Iran, for all their rhetoric, have done nothing to supply Palestinians with weapons that could inflict real damage on their invaders. Hamas too refuses to arm the people it governs. It is no wonder that mass protests across the Arab world have denounced Mubarak and the other collaborationist Arab rulers as well as Israel.
There is no solution for the Palestinian people in appeals to the imperialists or their agents running the United Nations. Unlike supporters of the imperialist order who denounce the “violence on both sides” and call for a ceasefire by Hamas and Israel, we side with the Palestinian resistance against the racist and imperialist occupation. The only solution that can bring peace and justice to the peoples of the region, including the Jews, is the overthrow of the Zionist state – genuine democracy is incompatible with the existence of the racially exclusive state of Israel. A Palestinian workers’ state would guarantee all democratic rights, including the right of return for the Palestinians and their descendants dispossessed by the Zionists.
However, the Palestinians alone cannot defeat Israel – they do not have the strength to overcome a state that has the full backing of imperialism. But their heroic struggles can make them the vanguard of the Middle Eastern masses’ revolutionary overthrow of their ruling classes subservient to imperialism. The road to Palestinian freedom begins with unchaining the working classes of the region from their bourgeois leaders – and from the Islamist religious leaders, whose socially reactionary agenda cripples the class struggle, the only real hope for the masses.
The working class is already awakening in Egypt, where victorious strikes by tens of thousands of textile workers in Mahalla have shown workers their power. And in Iran, thousands of workers have faced jail terms for fighting against privatization and for union rights. The global economic crisis demands more such working-class unity and action. These struggles can grow to present a revolutionary challenge to the region’s neocolonial rulers and to Israel itself, if the most class conscious workers succeed in building revolutionary parties that can show their fellow workers that the cause of their oppression is the imperialist capitalist system and that socialist revolution is the only solution. The goal must be a Palestinian workers’ republic from the River Jordan to the sea, as part of a socialist federation of the Middle East.