The recent Escalation of Israeli Repression and the Pathetic Reaction of the Israeli “Left”
Occupied Palestine / Israel: Without Revolution There Is No Solution!
By Yossi Schwarz, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), 22.10.2015, http://www.the-isleague.com/
In the youth uprising which has erupted here in recent weeks, so far 40 Palestinians have been killed and at least 1,000 were injured, while 8 Israelis have died and fewer than 100 have been injured. Some Palestinians were killed after they stabbed or attempted to stab Israelis, but most have been demonstrators or stone throwers shot dead by Israeli soldiers during protests. Thus, what we have here is the continuation of the war against the Palestinians to break their will to live as free people.
“But they began it” say the Zionists and “they want to kill us all”. In reality, the Israeli oppression has led desperate youth to fight even when they know they will be killed. Do we know other situations in history when young people fought oppression even when they knew they would be killed? What about the Ghetto rebellions of the Jews? But Israel is not Nazi Germany. True! The Nazis wanted to kill all the Jews – Israel just wants to transfer the Palestinians and take their land and property. A better analogy is South African apartheid except that in South Africa the white settlers wanted the blacks to remain as a source of cheap labor while the Zionists want to get rid of the Palestinians and remove them from history as a nation.
The deafening silence in the capitalist media as the toll of Palestinians injured and killed by the Israeli army grows daily is appalling but not surprising. Most imperialist governments, mainly the US, see only a serious threat to “Israeli security” and to “Israeli Jewish lives.” What they see is a “cycle of violence” that must be broken by the Israeli army and police.
France has suggested that international observers be stationed in the al-Aqsa Mosque. But Israel, which claims that it is maintaining the status quo, objects to such a suggestion. While we certainly do not trust international observers to protect Palestinians rights, does Israel really oppose it because it is changing the status quo? No, Israel’s own actions to encroach upon the al-Aqsa compound is what ignited the youth rebellion.
Palestinians youth are being killed en masse
Let us clarify one fact: most Israelis who have been the targets of stabbing attacks are settlers or armed soldiers or police, mainly in East Jerusalem and Hebron. These groups are the direct oppressors of the Palestinians. And Palestinians youth are being killed in East Jerusalem, the West bank and Gaza, at a ratio of five for every one Israeli who has been killed by Palestinians.
Israelis take as a given that that Arabs simply want to kill Jews for no reason, and this belief is based entirely on the denial that Israel has occupied and repressed the Palestinians and that the reaction to this oppression is the young Palestinians armed with stones and knives.
Israel’s iron fist policy includes sealing off Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the demolition of homes of the families of Palestinian attackers, and Israel's security cabinet has also recently approved a proposal by the Minister for Public Security, Gilad Erdan, that Israel not hand over the bodies of those killed to their families. These measures are aimed at inflaming further resistance to the oppression and, if possible, lay the groundwork for a new ethnic cleansing.
Mass repression in Jerusalem, Hebron and Gaza
Al Jazeera reported about a massive escalation of the Israeli repression. It spoke to two residents of Jerusalem's old City who said the area had turned into a war zone. “"This racist government has turned Jerusalem into a war zone ... We are being chased out of our homes ... our streets," said Aziz Abbasi." "In every corner [and] alleyway in Jerusalem, there are armed men, border police, army, intelligence officers." (1)
In Hebron, located in the southern part of the West Bank and its most populous city, Israel killed two youths on Saturday, October 16. A general strike was called in to protest the killings. Al Jazeera reports:
“Seventeen-year-old Bayan Ayman Abd al-Hadi al-Esseili was shot by Israeli border guards after allegedly stabbing a soldier near the settlement of Kyriat Arba..” Maan News reported that the soldier’s hand was slightly injured. In an earlier incident, an Israeli settler shot and killed 18-year-old Fadel al Qawasmeh on Shuhada Street in Hebron’s Old City. Middle East Eye spoke to eyewitnesses to this second incident who saw al Qawasmeh walking down Shuhada Street early in the morning. “My daughter saw him from the widow,” said Mufid Sharbati, whose house looks onto the street. “She saw a settler approaching him. The settler shouted curse words at him, then took out his pistol and shot him in the head.” Upon hearing his daughter’s screams, Sharbati run up to the roof and his brother filmed the moments following the shooting. The video, widely shared by the group Youth Against Settlements, shows soldiers approaching Qawamseh following the shooting and possibly placing something by the body, which has led to speculations of a knife being planted at the scene. (….) ‘It is as if a European country placed a group of neo-nazis to live in a Jewish neighbourhood,” Hisham Sharbati, an activist with the Hebron Defence Committee, told MEE, “it would be an outright provocation.’” (2)
Likewise, in Gaza, thousands assembled in areas along the Israeli border, as Israeli forces responded with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition. Here too, a number of Palestinian youth were shot by the Israeli army. (3)
Young Palestinians Are Ready to Die
The preparedness of young Palestinians to attack police, soldiers, settlers and even Israelis who are not settlers from the territories occupied since 1967, knowing they stand a good chance of dying due to Israel’s policy of extra-judicial killings, has fundamentally changed the situation in Israel and the occupied territories. This is not yet a full-fledged third intifada, but the actions by the Israeli government are pushing in that direction. Thus, even if the scope of the uprising is limited and smaller than during the first month of the two previous intifadas (which broke out in 1987 and 2000), Israel’s actions are exacerbating the anger against the occupation and oppression. This is no longer limited to East Jerusalem. At the same time the reaction of the Israeli public is not only one of panic but has actually led to unprovoked attacks on Arabs and even Jews who are suspected of being Arabs. This, in addition to the army and police’s shooting to kill immediately after a Palestinian youth has wounded an Israeli, or the army or police suspect that the given Palestinian may try to kill or wound an Israeli.
Silence on the Left
Since the mass media in the West portray the youth rebellion simply as terrorism, many of the left-wing petty-bourgeois organizations have remained silent on the entire rebellion.
Among those who remain dumb to events are the IMT, CWI (except their section in Israel, Ma’avak Socialisti, see below), ISO, LRP, IBT, Spartacist League, and the IG. Other groups have reacted, but without offering any action program. The British SWP’s Nick Clark explains the reasons for the outburst of Palestinian anger, but he offers no concrete measures and his only conclusion is that conditions are ripe for a Third Intifada. How to win this struggle is beyond him.
The Left-Zionism of Ma’avak Socialisti (CWI Israel)
Ma’avak Socialisti(Socialist Struggle), the section of the CWI in Israel, characterizes the uprising as a national conflict where on one side the Israeli government and the settlers are attacking the Palestinians, and on the other side terrorist Palestinian nationalists are attacking Israelis. They say that the government’s policy of “conflict management” has led to a serious crisis. They condemn Israel’s killing of unarmed Palestinians who were protesting in Gaza and in the West Bank, and they symmetrically blame the right-wing on both sides, in Israel and Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the territories, for inciting violence. Then, they call for the recognition of the right for self-determination to both nations. They accuse the Israeli government of refusing to recognize the right of self-determination of the Palestinians and blame Netanyahu’s government for pushing for a religious conflict over the al-Aqsa Mosque. In the opinion of Ma’avak Socialisti, it is in the interest of both the Israeli workers and the Palestinian workers to protest against the policy of the government and to demand from the Israeli trade unions and student organizations to organize protests against the government which serves the capitalist class. Against what they call the “nationalist incitement of both sides,” they call for joint demonstrations to end the occupation, the settlements, and to end the attacks on civilians. (4)
This is not a bad position for left-wing Zionists, but as Lenin told Borochov, the ideologue of the Left Zionists, when the latter asked him what he thinks about his organization: “It’s hard to sit on the space between two chairs.”
One of the main issues concerning the right of self-determination for the Palestinians is the right of return of the refugees from 1948 and later, something which Israel will never accept as it contradicts the idea of a state with a Jewish majority. Thus, in the real world those who support the idea of two states oppose the return of the Palestinian refugees, even if they do not admit it. Even without the Palestinian refugees, the number of Palestinians residing in the entire country (between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea) is 6.2 million, which is the same as the number of Israeli Jews. Thus, it is impossible to be for the right of self- determination for both the Israelis and the Palestinians without sitting on the space between two between chairs.
This is not a conflict between two national movements. It is a conflict between the oppressed Palestinian indigenous population fighting for its national freedom and a settler colonialist society. To claim that it is a conflict between two nationalisms is to entirely ignore the nature of the Israeli society. Marxists do not support the right of self-determination of settler colonialists. Marxists do not support the right of self-determination of the Protestant settlers in Northern Ireland or the right of self-determination of the white settlers in South Africa.
On the question of South Africa, Trotsky supported not two socialist states, one white and the other black, but a black republic. He wrote:
“A victorious revolution is unthinkable without the awakening of the native masses; in its turn it will give them what they are so lacking today, confidence in their strength, a heightened personal consciousness, a cultural growth. Under these conditions the South African Republic will emerge first of all as a “black” Republic; this does not exclude, of course, either full equality for whites or brotherly relations between the two races (which depends mainly upon the conduct of the whites). But it is entirely obvious that the predominant majority of the population, liberated from slavish dependence, will put a certain imprint on the State.” (5)
The leaders of Ma’avak Socialisti are well aware of Trotsky’s position. To this they reply that the ratio between the number of Israeli Jews and Palestinians is much different than what was the case in South Africa between blacks and whites, and that the Israelis are far too strong. Consequently, without getting the Jewish workers to support the right of self-determination for the Palestinians there will be no solution. According to this argument, the Israeli Jews will not support the right of self-determination for the Palestinians without giving the Israelis the right of self-determination. The problem with this false argument is that the Israeli workers are part of the settler colonialist society, and they therefore must oppose the right of self-determination for the Palestinians as long as they are Zionists. Of course, the Palestinians cannot win the struggle for freedom by themselves, and only will be able to win it as part of a regional Arab revolution having the support of the international working class.
Yes, today the Arab workers and fellahin cannot support the Palestinians because of the situation in the Middle East. For this reason, the Israeli government feels free to implement its policy of killings, a policy which is supported by the majority of the Israeli workers and poor.
The blind anger of the young Palestinians who are today fighting their oppression with stones and knives against the heavily armed soldiers and police, and in some cases attack not only the settlers, soldiers, and policemen but unarmed Israelis civilians is because they do not see a mass movement in Israel on their side. Netanyahu won the elections with the votes of Jewish workers who support the repression of the Palestinians.
A call to the Histadruth to organize protests against the repression of the Palestinians is at best a bad joke. In reality, it entirely ignores the nature of the Histadrut as an arm of the colonialist settler state and its role as an arm of the Zionist state in the international trade unions. In their call to the Histadruth, Maavak Socialisti ignores the fact that the Palestinian trade unions call for a boycott of the Histadruth because of this very nature. The Histadruth was founded as a colonialist enterprise, and in each of Israel’s wars against the Palestinians it has supported the Zionists. Growing numbers of trade unions in the world understand this and therefore support the call of the Palestinians trade unions to boycott the Histadruth.
Thus in the name of abstract worker unity, Maavak Sociaisti stands with the Histadruth against the Palestinians workers and alongside its own capitalist ruling class.
Hadash: Stalinist Zionism
Hadash in its newspaper, Zo Haderech (This is the Way), of October 14 has a very similar line to Maavak Sociaisti. The headline reads “The end of conflict management” under which it claims that only peace negotiations and a Palestinian state in the borders of 1967 will bring peace and an end to the bloodshed.
Negotiations between whom? Negotiations between Netanyahu, Bennet Lieberman, and Abu Mazen will bring peace and a Palestinian state? Or maybe negotiations between the Zionist Camp, which supports the government’s repression, and Abu Mazen will bring about peace?
The majority of the Palestinians no longer believe in this empty formula which only helps the Israeli government to perpetuate its policies under such empty slogans. This is the very slogan of Obama, who himself supports Israel repression. Most Palestinians already support the idea of a single state and Hadash is trying to pull them backward.
Towards the Third Intifada!
The simple truth is that, short of a revolution, there is no solution. For a revolution, a third massive uprising is necessary with no illusions about peace between Israel and the Palestinians. As long as Israel exists as a Zionist colonial settler state, the repression of the Palestinian must continue. The only solution to an apartheid state from the river to the sea is a multi-national workers’ state. Only in such a state will Jews and Arabs be able to live in peace and the Palestinian refugees will be able to return. Of course, we have to stand with the Jewish workers in their struggle against the capitalists, but at the same time tell them the truth that Israel is not only an oppressor but a death trap for them unless they will break with Zionism. (6)
In the meantime the most important task of the Palestinians is to organize for their own self-defense in each neighborhood and in every village.
Down with Israel oppression!
For a third popular intifada!
For a multi-national workers state from the river to the sea! For a free, red Palestine!
(1) Al Jazeera: Palestinians killed after alleged Hebron stabbings, 17 October 2015, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.680936
(2) Al Jazeera: Israeli forces kill Gaza border protesters 17 October 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/10/israeli-forces-kill-gaza-border-protesters-151016134046980.html
(3) Al Jazeera Israeli police kill more Palestinians in Jerusalem, 15 October 2015, Al Jazeera Israeli police kill more Palestinians in Jerusalem
(4) See e.g. Shachar Ben Horeen: The Crisis of Conflict Management, 9.10.2015, http://socialism.org.il/maavak/?article=1430
(5) Leon Trotsky: On the South African Theses (1935); in: Trotsky Writings 1934-35, p. 249
(6) For the RCIT’s and the ISL’s analysis and perspective for the Palestinian liberation struggle see numerous statements and articles on our websites http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/ respectively http://www.the-isleague.com/.
RCIT: Israel / Occupied Palestine: Victory to the 3rd Intifada! No Peace with Apartheid – Mass Resistance, International Solidarity and Armed Struggle Will Free Palestine! 13.10.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/victory-to-3rd-intifada/
Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967. On the Character of the War, the Marxist Analysis and the Position of the Israeli Left, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 12, July/August 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/israel-s-war-of-1967/
Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/permanent-revolution-in-palestine