From Workers Vanguard No. 927, 2 January 2009
Defend the Palestinian People!
Israel Out of the Occupied Territories!
Zionist Bloodbath in Gaza
For a Socialist Federation of the Near East!
DECEMBER 30—“Let it be known that in the 21st century this is happening while the whole world is watching but remains silent. I wonder how cheap Palestinian blood is,” stated one Gaza resident (english.aljazeera.net, 28 December 2008). Nearly 370 Palestinians have been slaughtered since Israel began bombardment of the strip three days ago, more than 1,700 wounded. The first day of airstrikes produced the highest daily death toll in Gaza since Israel occupied it and the West Bank in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, with more than one hundred tons of bombs dropped on one of the most densely populated spots on earth. Israeli troops and tanks are ringing Gaza in preparation for a possible invasion, while defense minister Ehud Barak of the thoroughly bourgeois Labor Party has declared “all-out war.” We stand for the military defense of Hamas against Israel without giving this reactionary fundamentalist outfit any political support.
Populated by 1.5 million Palestinians, Gaza is little more than a concentration camp—surrounded by an electrified fence, a sealed border with Egypt and the Mediterranean—under the thumb of a genocidal Zionist ruling class. Having been starved of food, fuel and medicine by a U.S.-Israeli blockade since Hamas took it over in 2007, much of Gaza is now little more than twisted metal and destroyed lives, with barely supplied hospitals overwhelmed by the number of the injured and mutilated arriving. Even the pro-Zionist New York Times found that the initial airstrikes, which took place as women congregated in the markets and children emerged from schools, had “a shocking quality.”
The Israeli air attacks especially targeted government buildings and other installations occupied by Hamas, which the Zionists and imperialists have long labeled “terrorist.” In preparation for the attacks, Israel launched a disinformation campaign, announcing that it would open border crossings and postpone threatened airstrikes. Hamas, which had evacuated its personnel from official buildings, then, according to an Israeli official, “sent its people back in when they heard that everything was put on hold” (Ha’aretz online, 28 December 2008). Scores of them died under the bombardment.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, the Palestinian population has been sealed off by an apartheid wall and subjected to a deadly military occupation. A Palestinian youth participating in protests near Ramallah against the airstrikes in Gaza was shot to death by Israeli forces. All Israeli troops and settlers out of the Occupied Territories!
Israel’s mass murder in Gaza was coldbloodedly prepared months in advance. Ha’aretz online (28 December 2008) reported that Barak “instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.... Barak gave orders to carry out a comprehensive intelligence-gathering drive which sought to map out Hamas’ security infrastructure.” Israel effectively put an end to the unstable “ceasefire” with Hamas—on the night of the U.S. presidential election—by launching attacks in Gaza that killed half a dozen Hamas militants. The resulting (largely ineffective) mortar and rocket attacks from Gaza against nearby Israeli towns were then used as the pretext for the massive assault.
Across the Near East, protests of tens of thousands have erupted, not only denouncing the Zionist massacre but also condemning the pro-U.S. Arab regimes, not least that of Egypt. On the eve of the assault, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni briefed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on Israel’s plans. Mubarak promptly rushed several hundred additional guards to help police the border wall separating Gaza from Egypt. As frantic Palestinians fleeing the Israeli bombardment stormed across the border, Egyptian guards opened fire. According to Al Jazeera (30 December 2008), “Mubarak announced on Egyptian television...that the Rafah crossing will not be fully re-opened until Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, regains authority in the territory.” For his part, while condemning the Israeli attacks, Palestinian Authority president Abbas grotesquely blamed Hamas for the Israeli attack and called on them “to stop the bloodshed.”
That call parallels the line of the Bush administration, which predictably announced that it “holds Hamas responsible.” Meanwhile, Democratic president-elect Barack Obama made his support to Israeli attacks on Hamas clear during the presidential election campaign, stating: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”
A 27 December 2008 statement by Workers World Party’s (WWP) International Action Center declared: “We demand that U.S. aid to Israel be cut to zero, and that this money be used instead for reparations for the Palestinian people, to ensure their right to return, and for homes, jobs, health care and education for working people in the U.S.” The reformist WWP, which celebrated Obama’s victory as a “triumphant step forward in the struggle against racism” (Workers World, 14 November 2008), promotes the lie that U.S. imperialism can serve the interests of the Palestinians abroad and working people at home. U.S. imperialism—responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq—is the deadliest enemy of workers and the oppressed throughout the world. U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan! Down with U.S. imperialism!
Both the Palestinian Arab and Hebrew-speaking peoples of Israel/Palestine lay claim to the same small piece of land. Under capitalism, the exercise of national self-determination by one will necessarily be at the expense of the other. The national emancipation of the Palestinians—including the right of all refugees and their descendants to return to their homeland—necessarily entails workers revolutions to shatter the Zionist state from within and to sweep away the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Syrian Ba’athist bonapartists and the capitalist rulers of Lebanon—countries that all have sizable Palestinian populations. We look to the proletariat of the region more widely, such as in Egypt, which has been a center of working-class strikes and protests over the past several years. For a socialist federation of the Near East!
Israeli society is not a seamless mass of reaction but a class-divided society, with a working class exploited at the hands of its “own” ruling class. We have no illusions that it will be easy to shatter the chauvinism of the Hebrew working class. It will likely take cataclysmic events—such as military defeat or revolutionary upheavals in the region—to break the Israeli proletariat from Zionism. This task is not made easier by the criminal indiscriminate terror bombings carried out by Palestinian forces against Israeli civilians, which drive the Hebrew population further into the arms of the Zionist rulers. The key in Israel/Palestine, as throughout the region, is the forging of revolutionary workers parties that fight for socialist revolution internationally.