What of that “historical right” of the Jewish people to settle in Samaria and Judea (the West Bank)? There are, of course, two main opposing points of view: the area, in biblical times, was Jewish and is thus part of the traditional Jewish homeland; Arab occupancy for a couple of thousand years - more or less - makes it Arab territory. Upon analysis, both views are unsound and unfounded. In the first place, there is no real essence behind the premise that those who espouse Judaism (willingly or not) in our times are descendants of those early Jewish inhabitants of Samaria and Judea. Aside from the intermarriage and general miscegenation between Jews and non-Jews in medieval and modem times Judaism, in very early times, was a proselytizing religion, particularly so in the early years of Rome.
Originally Zionism was conceived as a means of solving the problem of anti-semitism. From this point of view, where the problem does not exist there is no need for the solution. However, ends and means were inverted long ago, and Zionism became an end in itself, with anti-semitism a condition of its success. Anti-semitism might still be regarded in principle as an evil, but as a necessary evil. Often it was also said to be a lesser evil compared to the threat of assimilation. If Israel is to be a homeland for the Jews, then what is to happen to those not invited to the new land of supposed equality? The answer is to be found all too evidently in the recent brutalities committed by the Israeli state on the Gaza Strip and West Bank. It has now been several decades that the first Jewish colonists returned from the diaspora and the Zionists have had the chance to work out their theories in practice; Israel has been established. What evidence is there as to whether Jewish workers are any happier in capitalist Israel than they are in capitalist Britain or America?
Like the black South African resistance movement, engaged in a long struggle against white minority rule, the stone-throwing youth of Palestine can perhaps be forgiven for perceiving their struggle to be one against a form of apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Israel indignantly rejects the comparison with apartheid, nevertheless, the former Italian premier Massimo D'Alema said he had a long conversation with Sharon who explained at length that the Bantustan model was the most appropriate solution to the conflict. Defenders of Israel protest that the comment was a personal interpretation of what Sharon said." D'Alema, however, insists. "No, sir, that is not interpretation. That is a precise quotation of your prime minister."
Yet when it comes to the nationalistic zeal and religious fervour in the respective communities, there is nothing at all with which we can identify, for both are abstractions that have imbued the workers of the region with a mistaken ideas that prevents them identifying their real interests. The labels, Palestinian or Israeli, disguises the bigger and more permanent label of "working class". As the warring factions continue to vent their hatreds we can only maintain that there is more that unites them as members of that exploited majority, the working class with the same basic needs and desires than can ever divide them along religious or national lines. For the real conflict is yet to be waged—that between ourselves, the exploited, and the master class. Only when Israeli and Arab workers join the movement for world socialism will the conflicts finally cease. If the Palestinian nationalists ever manage to establish a sovereign state, they will still be disinherited slaves of the minority who own and rule the earth, privately and through the State. But they may have the satisfaction of slaving for an Arab employer under "their own" Palestinian flag. Until the hold of nationalist and racist poison on the minds of the world's workers is ended, it will not be possible to build the full and satisfying life of socialism.
This is not a pious hope for the future. Workers are dying in Gaza and in Israel and there is every sign that more will be killed. A two-state settlement will not eliminate capitalist rivalry over resources and spheres of influence. The seeds of future war will remain. Yet we will welcome even a fragile peace that temporarily halts the horrors of occupation. That is partly because we sympathize with the suffering of our fellow workers, whatever their ethnic origin. It is always they who suffer the brunt of their masters’ wars. It is also because war provides an ideal opportunity and excuse to suppress democratic rights on both sides. Peace will create better conditions for democracy. No longer obsessed with ethnic conflict, “Jews” and “Palestinians” will be able to refocus on the social, economic and ecological problems spawned by the “normal” peacetime functioning of capitalism. A space for socialist ideas will open up in this small corner of the planet.
Neither Jews nor Arabs, for the most part, could lay claim to meaningful ownership of the land on which they lived in biblical times any more than they can today. Throughout the period of recorded history “Our Land” in any part of civilization has been, mainly, the property of a small ruling class minority of any national population. Events have only proved our contention, that national struggles, whether of the Zionist category or otherwise, are not in the interest of the working-class. The Israeli working class was convinced that their interests lay in taking up arms against the Arabs, and in this, they were supported by countless Jewish workers abroad. Some of them went even further, attaching great importance to the capture of the ancient shrines and religious symbols of Jerusalem. Here is evidence that the Israeli working class has all the delusions which are so necessary to the continuance of capitalism. Experience, and a knowledge of capitalism should have taught them differently.