In defence of the Palestinian people. For a revolutionary program and organization in Palestine!

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Every day brings us new evidence that Zionism cannot solve the Jewish question. The conflict between Jews and Arabs has become increasingly tragic and threatening. (Trotsky, 18 January 1937)

On Saturday 7th October, barbarism took a further step in Palestine. First with the Hamas’ attack in the South-West of Israel, with some 1.400 people being deliberately slaughtered, the vast majority of whom consisting of civilians, women, children, young and elderly people, with more than 4.100 injured and between 150 and 200 kidnapped people. Then with the continuous bombing of the Israeli army over the 2 million Palestinians locked up within the Gaza strip (41 km long, 6 to 12 km wide), which caused more than 2.800 deaths and more than 9.700 injured. They suffer a complete blockade, which includes vital supplies, like water, fuel – necessary for producing electricity –, drugs… The hospitals are overwhelmed by the amount of injured people, they are deliberately attacked by the Israeli army. A likely Israeli ground military intervention in the tiny and overpopulated Gaza strip will inevitably cause thousands supplementary deaths and injured, and countless destructions.

This violence in Palestine, which has never ceased, originates in the colonization of that country since 1882 by the Jewish bourgeois nationalism (Zionism) which pretended that the Jews’ home was neither in Europe nor in America, but only in Palestine, where a Jewish minority was living in peace with the Muslim and Christian Arabs. The colonial project was not about exploiting the Arabic workforce, but about expelling it and replacing it with a Jewish proletariat, which would be subject to the new bourgeoisie through the national ideology.

The British imperialism was the first to support Zionism with the 1917 Balfour Declaration, in order to expand its own positions in Middle East after the First World War. When Hitler came to power in 1933, the US State closed its borders for the Jews from Europe. The Zionist movement attempted, to no avail, to collaborate with the Nazi regime with a view to sending the German Jews in Palestine. With the complicity of the British State, Jewish nationalism set up terrorist organizations in Palestine (Haganah, Irgun), as soon as 1920, in order to intimidate, to murder and to plant bombs against all those who were resisting them.

After the Second World War, and the genocide of the Jews from Europe by the German imperialism, Zionism became prevalent in the Jewish diaspora, even if most of the Jews from Western Europe and from North America did not settle in Palestine. Of course, the international communists who were organized in the Palestine’s Revolutionary Communist League and in the 4th International opposed the colonization.

As to Palestine, the 4th International supports the idea that the full repudiation of Zionism is a prerequisite to a merger of the Jewish workers’ struggles with the Arab workers’ emancipating, social and national struggles. It states that demanding a Jewish immigration in Palestine is deeply reactionary, as calling on oppressors’ immigration in colonial countries is reactionary, in general. (4th International Congress, May 1948).

In 1948, the State of Israel was founded on the eviction of 700.000 Palestinian Arabs from their lands, from their cities and towns, with the support of the US imperialism and of the Kremin’s Stalinist bureaucracy. The majority of the Jewish workers’ movement (the Labour Party-Mapai, the pro-Stalinist party Mapam, the Histadrut’s union bureaucracy) in the new State was Zionist. The union excluded the Arab workers, and the Mapai founded Israel. Under the Kremin’s influence, the Israeli Communist Party accepted Israel.

Since then, there is in Palestine a colonial State, Israel, and a colonized people, the Palestinians, hundreds of thousands of which being parked in camps, including more than 1.5 million in Gaza. Besides, a part of the Arab people of Palestine had to exile, most often in Lebanon’s, Jordan’s, and Syria’s miserable camps. According to the UN, 4.7 million of them are surviving there. Zionism has become State’s terrorism, using systematically the military violence against the Arabs.

Against this oppression, the Palestinian people has always stood up. But there has never been a proletarian and revolutionary political leadership. After the foundation of Israel and its provision of the atomic weapon thanks to the French State, the resistance shifted from the Muslim religious to the Pan-Arab nationalists, with their faintly socialist speech, clustered in the PLO (Fatah, PFLP, DLFP…), who were actually related to one particular nationalist regime of the bourgeois States in the region or the other, and to the USSR bureaucracy.

But one of these regimes, Syria, converged with Israel, with the Jordan’s monarchy set up by the British State, and with the Christian wing of the Lebanon’s bourgeoisie backed by the French State, for crushing the Palestinian resistance clustered in the PLO. With the restoration of capitalism in the USSR in 1992, the PLO negotiated the Oslo Accords with Israel under the auspices of the US State in 1993. This ratified the partition of Palestine into two States: actually, it was the recognition of an overarmed colonial State and the creation of two Bantustans without real army.

This is the moment when Islamism (Hamas, Jihas) became popular among the oppressed while relying on religion and on antisemitism. Fatah, who has chosen to become the lackey of the US and of Israel, keeps West Bank’s formal government (“the Palestinian Authority”), and as of now has refused any election. Hamas, which was initially favoured by Israel, took control over the West Bank with the support of the Iran’s dictatorship of mullahs (which persecute the Kurdish, Arab, Azeri… minorities), of the Emirs of Qatar (who fiercely overexploit Palestinian proletarians within their borders) and of a part of the Lebanon’s Muslim bourgeoisie, while suppressing all those who refer to socialism.

At the same time, the colonialist, theocratic and racist character of the State of Israel was being more and more affirmed, while all its military, monitoring and suppression means against the Palestinians were developing. For the first time in 1977, Mapai (Labour Party), then majority in the colonial State, lost the government. Matzpen, an organization who was bringing together Arab and Jewish activists against Zionism in 1962, who was reaching out the DLFP and the PFLP in the 1970s, was disrupted by the suppression.

After the 1993 Oslo Accords had been signed, the West Bank was divided into three zones, leading to a full control of 60 % of the land by Israel. The number of settlers has not stopped growing and the West Bank turned into a construction of settlements which were gradually suppressing any possibility for the Palestinians.

Therefore, from 2002, the State of Israel erected a more than 700 km wall that has been infringing upon the lands of the West Bank Palestinians and has submitted them to relentless controls and hassles for moving. Then, the illegal construction of settlements, which started in 1967, accelerated in the West Bank, and then around East-Jerusalem and on the Golan Heights, with the illegal appropriation of lands, of water resources, with the army’s protection. For example, the Basic Law adopted on 19th July 2018 sets as a principle of constitutional value the superiority of the Jews’ rights over the rights of the Arabs living in Israel.

Under the Trump’s auspices in 2020, the Abraham Accords consecrated the rapprochement between Israel, Bahrein and the United Arab Emirates, followed by Morocco and Sudan, while talks are underway with Saudi Arabia. The Egyptian military dictatorship makes no secret of its close cooperation with Israel and it plays a part in the Gaza blockade, in collaboration with the Zionist State.

It turned out then that the Oslo Accords, that were approved by the PLO, backed by all the imperialist powers, praised by the agents of the bourgeoisie within the working class (“reformist” parties, union bureaucracies), were nothing but a deception against the Palestinians. As the internationalist communists had announced, the myth of the creation of two States that are peacefully coexisting totally shattered against the reality of the situation.

Emboldened by the gains achieved day by day against the Palestinians’ rights behind the Oslo Accords, the most determined fraction of the Israeli bourgeoisie decided to move up a gear. The sixth Netanyahu government, established on the 21st December 2022, is a coalition between the Likud and the ultrareligious and fascist parties, that represent the cutting edge of the conquering Zionism, which is very well established within the settlers in the West Bank. Indeed, among 120 deputies to be elected, the November 2022 elections assigned 32 seats to the Likud and 32 seats to the ultrareligious and fascist parties. The names of these parties speak for themselves: Shas (Sephardic, Guardians of the Tora), the Religious Zionist Party, the Unified Torah Judaism, Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power, the new name of Kach, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and by the European Union) and finally Noam (Pleasantness – sic! – based on the abhorrence of the LGBT and other sexual minorities). In fact, out of 40 ministers and deputy ministers, the ultra-religious and fascist parties hold 20 positions, and not the least of them, ranging from Deputy Prime Minister to National Security, from the Interior to Finance, including Health, Construction and Housing, a deputy Minister of Education to defend the “national Jewish identity” in the curriculum, and a position specially created for the development of settlements in zone C. Zone C, as defined by the 1995 Oslo Accords, in fact represents the occupied territories, i.e., 60% of the West Bank.

One of the leading figures in these fascist parties, Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionist Party, made no secret of his intentions when he announced in a programmatic document that one had to impose a “Greater Israel,” thus to put an end to the fiction of two states, and to put an end to any hope the Palestinians had of forming their own state. Firstly, by stepping up colonisation:

The first and most important stage of the decisive “One Hope” plan will be colonisation. At this point, we will establish the most important basic fact: we are here to stay. We will make it clear that our national ambition of a Jewish state from the river to the sea is a fait accompli, a fact that cannot be discussed or negotiated. This stage will be achieved by a political and legal act of imposing sovereignty over the whole of Judea and Samaria, and by concomitant acts of colonisation: the establishment of towns and villages, the provision of infrastructure as is customary in “little” Israel and the encouragement of tens and hundreds of thousands of residents to come and live in Judea-Samaria. In this way, we can create a clear and irreversible reality on the ground. (Just one Hope, 2017)

This process, which has been under way for several years, has been further strengthened since the installation of the latest government allying Likud with the fascists and religious fanatics. Palestinian villages are regularly attacked by settlers and deadly raids by the Israeli army are on the increase. The definitive aim is to crush resistance attempts militarily, to make recalcitrant Palestinians emigrate and to deprive of almost all political rights those who agree to stay, such as the right to elect deputies to the Knesset. It is not all very democratic? Who cares, Smotrich has other values:

The State of Israel was founded on the strength of a belief in the justice of biblical history, and on the strength of the agreement of the nations of the world – at a rare moment in history – to realise the vision and return the Land of Israel to the people of Israel. […] This belief in the justice of our cause is vital, and those who lack it will indeed find it difficult to defend the demand that the Arabs of Judea and Samaria abandon their national ambitions in favour of ours. (Just one Hope, 2017)

What has changed since then is that the author and his cronies are now in government as equals, hand in hand with the Likud, and that Smotrich is Minister of Finance and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset … Netanyahu had set out to limit the powers of the Supreme Court, obviously to avoid prosecuting himself and his crooked cronies for various corruption offences. But also, to have a free hand in his enterprise against the Palestinians and not risk being censured by the opinions of a few judges who are a little less under the sway of “biblical justice” than his government and who might consider his measures “unreasonable”.

The Hofshim be Artzenou (Free in Our Homeland) organisers of the massive demonstrations against the reform of the Supreme Court (300,000 people in total on 25 February) confined themselves to defending the democracy of the colonial state and waved the Israeli flag, deliberately excluding any participation by organisations defending Palestinian rights, without ever questioning the colonial policy of the State of Israel. Nevertheless, taking advantage of the demonstrations, some associations attacked the settlements and waved the Palestinian flag in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In addition, the reservists’ strike weakened the main instrument of colonialism, the Israeli army, especially in the air force.

The policy already adopted by the pan-Arab guerrillas of the 1970s against Jewish civilians, taken up by Hamas in recent years and which it has just taken even further, is powerless to destroy Israel. On the contrary, it reinforces chauvinism and racism among the Jewish population. Without a moment’s hesitation, Havoda (ex-Mapai Labour Party), Meretz (ex-Mapam) and the leadership of the Histadrut trade union confederation are now lining up behind Netanyahu. A war cabinet of national unity has just been formed between the Likud and the National Unity Party; the religious fascist ministers are not part of it, but that does not matter because it is their policy that is being applied. The Jewish diaspora, which had distanced itself from the 6th Netanyahu government incorporating the fascists, is now rallying around the colonial state.

Today, a section of the Palestinian people is once again the victim of large-scale state terrorism, with the blockade of Gaza, incessant bombardments, and the threat of a murderous military invasion of Gaza. It is once again the Palestinian civilian population, much more than the Hamas leaders, who will pay the blood price under the bombardments, with the eighth Israeli military operation in Gaza in ten years. For the Palestinian resistance that has taken up arms, the situation is deadlocked. The Israeli military forces are much more powerful than the Palestinian fighters, with a whole arsenal of military equipment ranging from aircraft to armoured vehicles, etc.

Conscious workers the world over stand shoulder to shoulder with any oppressed people, whatever their current leadership, but that is never enough. To offer the Palestinian people any prospect, first and foremost a revolutionary political programme is needed.

  • Against most reformists (and also “Trotskyist” organisations like LO/France, the SP/Great Britain, the PO/Argentina, the AWL/Great Britain, the POI/France …), one must put an end to the myth of the constitution of a Palestinian state in the few shreds of fragmented territory that Israel has not yet annexed, which is totally unviable and which enshrines the colonisation of Palestine. Any democratic solution requires the prior dismantling of the Zionist state, an apartheid state, warmongering, and an instrument of the Western imperialist powers in West Asia.
  • Against some of the debris of Stalinism (and also many centrist currents such as the Pabloite FI, the TF-FI and LIT-FI, the Healyite FI-WSWS…), we must put an end to the so-called anti-imperialist united front with the Islamists of Hamas, with the reactionary Arab, Persian or Turkish bourgeois regimes. They turn around according to their interests and the pressures of the various imperialist powers. On the contrary, the working class of the whole world must support the struggles of the workers, women, and national minorities of the region, against their government corrupt to the core as in Lebanon, against dictatorship as in Syria and Iran, against the princes and monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Jordan … One must put an end to the submission to the Palestinian bourgeoisie, whether it be its clerical, misogynist, and anti-Semitic wing, financed by the ayatollahs and the emirs, or its comprador wing, dependent on Israel.
One needs a revolutionary workers’ party to unite the proletariat and wrest it from Zionism and Islamism. The Palestinian workers must forge fraternal links with the conscious elements of the Israeli proletariat. The Israeli proletariat can only exist as a class and wage a struggle against its bourgeoisie by recognising the democratic and national rights of the Palestinian Arabs, the first of which is the right of return. The watchwords of the conscious proletariat are therefore:

  • liberation of all Arab fighters, unity of Palestine,
  • equality for all Palestinians (Jews and Arabs; men and women; Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists), separation of the State and religions,
  • the right of Hebrew workers in these conditions to live in Palestine,
  • workers’ government, expropriation of capitalist groups.
The only social force capable of establishing a unified, democratic, secular Palestine where all those who want to can live with equal rights is the Arab, Jewish, Turkish, Kurdish, Persian, … working class of the region, which will abolish the borders inherited from colonisation and establish the socialist federation of the Middle East.

All the imperialist powers reaffirmed their support for Israel and its “right to defend itself”. But the right of the Palestinian people to defend itself against the fate that has befallen it since 1948 is totally ignored, even by those who defended Ukraine’s right to exist against the Russian state that wanted to annex it! More than ever, anti-Zionism is deliberately equated with anti-Semitism by bourgeois governments, and demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people are sometimes banned. A united front campaign bringing together all the workers’ organisations, trade unions and parties must therefore be developed at the international level in defence of all anti-Zionist activists and organisations, against all arms deliveries to Israel and in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

16 October 2023

Permanent Revolution Collective (Argentina, Austria, France, Spain, Turkey)