Yet another round of fighting that started back in 1948 when the state of Israel was first established, and it is another conflict where the Palestinians have no chance whatsoever of militarily overcoming Israel. The return of the Jewish diaspora saw a new forced exile, that of the Palestinians. The World Socialist Movement is always spontaneously on the side of the oppressed against the oppressors and the massive use of overwhelming force by the state of Israel clearly exposes it as the oppressor. But just because we sympathise with the victims of Israeli oppression does not mean that we favour the solutions popular among Palestinians.
According to Israeli propaganda, the only way to stop rocket attacks on Israel from happening is to counter-attack with their far more lethal air attacks. The message drummed into Jewish-Israelis is that “we” have no choice but to defend ourselves against an enemy bent on driving “us” into the sea. Likewise, Palestinians are told that Israel is intent upon committing genocide upon them, if not physically, but by making them a non-people.
The World Socialist Movement consider both Netanyahu’s government and Hamas as terrorist in the sense both indiscriminately target civilians. Israel uses terror on a much larger scale than Hamas, solely because it has a much greater ability.
Either side could avoid war by reaching compromises upon the other side’s political demands and making concessions. But a solution of the emergence of conciliation is not easy to envisage in view of the prevalence of supremacist, sectarian and racist outlooks in both Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian society. The ethnic religious nationalism of Jewish zealots who advocate the expulsion of all non-Jews from “Greater Israel” has resulted in distrust of Jews by many Palestinians.
This year has seen two well-informed reports from reliable sources, B’tselem and Human Rights Watch, that Israel has transformed itself into an apartheid state. It confirms what was said in 2003 when former Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema that during a meeting with former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon told him that apartheid South Africa’s “Bantustan” system was the best solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian people can perhaps be forgiven for perceiving their struggle to be one against a Middle-Eastern form of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
It is easy to see why the poverty-stricken in the Palestinian refugee camps might view the promise of Palestinian self-government as an answer. Sadly, like the Zionists, Palestinians have fallen for a dangerous myth about the past; in their case, the myth that Palestine belonged to them. It was no such thing: most Palestinians struggled along on tiny plots of land, under the weight of massive debts, exploited by a class of landlords. Palestine did not belong to the Palestinians, any more than modern Israel belongs to working-class Israelis. In 1930, the average rural family in Palestine was in debt to the tune of £P27, which was approximately such a family’s yearly income. On 1936 figures, one-fifth of one per cent of the population owned a quarter of the land! Clearly pre-Israeli Palestine did not belong to the Palestinian peasants: in 1948 they were driven off land which was not theirs.
They have yet to realise it, but the workers of the region regardless of the national boundaries where they now live — have an identity of interest. Let’s hope that they come to recognise their common interests and reject the nationalism and religious bigotry that engender false divisions, violence and racial hatred. When it comes to the nationalist and religious fervour, there is nothing at all with which we as socialists can identify, for both are abstractions that have imbued the workers of the region with a false consciousness that prevents them identifying their real class interests. While the focus is understandably on the genuine grievances of the Palestinian against oppression, we need to add that the majority of Israel’s Jewish population also live lives of relative poverty, and within a system that depends upon exploitation and division. The hopes of Jewish workers of a life free from persecution have not been answered by the setting up of the state of Israel.
We appeal to workers to organise consciously and politically and to use the power at their disposal to head off the threatening bloodshed, and secure the space we need in order to build a world of peace and stability. As ever, we appeal to the workers of all lands to join with us in campaigning for a system of society where there are no leaders, no classes, no states or governments, no borders, no force or coercion; a world where the earth’s natural and industrial resources are commonly owned and democratically controlled and where production is freed from the artificial constraints of profit and used for the benefit of all; a world of free access to the necessaries of life. Socialists aspire to is a world without national frontiers in which free movement is possible and where all people live together as equals. Socialists are sickened by the violence of the Gaza conflict. The slaughter in Gaza underlines yet again the urgent need to work not for a “two-state” solution or “one-state”, but the “no-state” solution as the only one that can ever give permanent peace.
We sympathise with the suffering of our fellow workers, whatever their ethnic origin. It is always they who suffer the brunt of their masters’ wars. 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 world. The real war - the class war between master and wage slave - is yet to begin.