By JEFF MACKLER
Originally posted at www.socialistaction.org
End U.S. aid to apartheid Israel! Stop the Zionist bombing of Gaza!
The U.S.-backed racist, colonialist, apartheid Zionist entity known as Israel is once again saturation bombing the Palestinian people and destroying the infrastructure of the world’s largest open air prison—the Gaza Strip—a slip of land roughly 26 miles long by 5.5 miles wide.
Gaza’s 1.82 million Palestinian residents, many driven by force and violence from their land and homes throughout historic Palestine over the past 66 years, are compelled to live in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Unemployment stands at 80 percent.
For the third time since Israel’s 2008-9 three-week air bombardment and ground occupation that slaughtered 1400 Palestinians (14 Israelis died), the beleaguered masses are being subjected to a murderous invasion of 50,000 Israeli “Defense” Force (IDF) troops, accompanied by tanks, and supported by massive air strikes, cross-border mortar and artillery bombardments, and unending offshore naval shelling from Israeli gunboats.
Israel employs one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful military apparatuses, replete with advanced fighter jets, helicopter gun ships, a naval armada and well-equipped land forces. And in turn, the Zionist state confronts a comparatively disarmed people. Even Israeli officials have mocked Gaza’s rocket-making capabilities as little more than the efforts of a cottage industry, which they contemptuously refer to as “high tech.” Most of the rockets used by Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, are homemade devices filled with fertilizer, ammonium compounds, and other explosive materials. Although some rockets, designed to emulate relatively sophisticated Syrian and Iranian models, have a range allowing them to reach most of Israel’s cities, they are notoriously inaccurate.
Casualties from the beginning of the Israeli aerial attacks on July 11 until the July 17 IDF invasion stood at 250 Palestinians dead, and thousands wounded and/or left homeless—in contrast to one Israeli killed. According to the UN, almost 80 percent of the deaths were civilians—including many children. Israel suffered not a single casualty via the 1500 Hamas rockets fired. The one Israeli dead was from a mortar fired across the border.
The first week of the land invasion saw the number of Palestinian deaths escalate to over 750—mainly civilians—with no end in sight for the carnage. Three hospitals and 15 other health facilities were hit by Israeli fire during the first week of the invasion, while nearly 500 houses were destroyed. Israeli tanks shelled the UN school in Beit Hanoun on July 24, killing at least 15 people. Many civilians were in the building at the time who had fled there for supposed safety after being driven from their homes by bombing.
Here’s an on-the-scene account from Dr. Mona El-Farra in Gaza City, written in the early hours of July 19: “The Israeli tanks and airforce are bombing continuously. They are targeting Al-Shajaiya neighborhood in the eastern part of Gaza City. The airforce is flying planes very low and they are shelling houses. They are shelling everywhere, hitting many houses. People are dying. The Israeli occupation dehumanizes us by killing us while we are sleeping.
“The ambulances are trying to reach the dead and injured and transfer them to hospitals but many ambulances couldn’t pass.
“Tens of wounded people, old and young, are stranded. The ambulances can’t reach them to help. Tens of bodies are in the street or buried in the rubble. My friend Hani is a father in Al-Shajaiya and his wife is pregnant. He called me and told me that it’s not possible for the ambulance to reach them. He is scared that they will die there before the ambulance reaches his family because there is bombing everywhere.
“The number of people killed is increasing every minute because medical teams can’t reach the area and people are bleeding. People are running, terrified in the streets. Many families, many children are leaving the Al-Shajaiya neighborhood coming to Gaza’s city center. Women, men, children are walking and running. I can see a woman carrying her baby and terrified children around her. They are running to escape the smell of death.
“The bombs and the shrapnel are falling like rain on us. They are made by your governments: England, USA, Australia, etc. It is better to use these funds for health and education.
“What kind of humanity is this? What kind of modern society is this? This is what the Israeli occupation is doing and all the while using propaganda to try to hide the truth. I call on everyone in this world; don’t say that you didn’t know. I am telling you right now and you can hear me. This occupation, this massacre, is protected by a silent world.
“Wake up. Don’t remain silent.”
What limited infrastructure existed in Gaza before this new Zionist war is today being systematically targeted, destroyed, or severed by Israel, including basic water supplies, sewage systems, and electricity generation. Even before the July 17 attack, 90 percent of Gaza’s water supply, heavily salinated and saturated with poisonous chemicals stemming from ground water seepage of fertilizers, was deemed by world experts as unfit for human consumption, if not for basic agriculture irrigation. Today, most Gazans are largely without any regular supply of water!
The people of Gaza have been subjected for decades to an Israeli embargo/blockade wherein even basic foodstuffs are frequently denied entry, as are essential medical supplies. More than half the population is dependent on UN relief agencies for elementary health care, education, and related social services. No other source of support is available or permitted by Israel.
Directly addressing the plight of Gaza’s people, Hamas spokesman Ismail Haniyeh listed 10 demands as conditions for a ceasefire. “We’ll never go back to the slow death,” Haniyeh said. “Our demands are fair and they are humane. Our people have decided.” The demands, all rejected by the Israeli government, are as follows:
• Withdrawal of Israeli tanks from the Gaza border.
• Freeing all the prisoners that were arrested after the killing of the three youths. (Some 800 were arrested by Israel police and IDF forces.)
• Lifting the siege and opening the border crossings to commerce and people.
• Establishing an international seaport and airport which would be under U.N. supervision.
• Increasing the permitted fishing zone to 10 kilometers.
• Internationalizing the Rafah Crossing and placing it under the supervision of the UN and some Arab nations.
• International forces on the borders.
• Easing conditions for permits to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque.
• Prohibition on Israeli interference in the reconciliation agreement.
• Reestablishing an industrial zone and improvements in further economic development in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli officials and media, pre-prepared with a canned rationale aimed at blaming the victims for the Zionist terror, insist that their main targets are tunnels—some from Gaza into Israeli territory and others into Gaza from Egypt, which are used to bring in the rockets being fired today. Yet, every report indicates that the real Israeli targets, in addition to Palestine’s vital infrastructure, are anyone that moves, including Palestinian children sitting on rooftops and children playing on beaches, not to mention residential communities.
According to the July 18 New York Times, General Moti Almoz, the chief Israeli military spokesman, stated, “I will now, uncharacteristically, ask the residents of Gaza to move away from the areas our forces are operating in—they are operating with extreme force” [Emphasis added]. The “generous” murderers sent robo-style phone calls to 100,000 Palestinian homes informing them that they had minutes to evacuate before mass bombings commenced.
Israeli officials insist that while they take precautions to avoid civilian casualties, this is difficult because the pea-shooter rockets are often fired from residential neighborhoods. This rational didn’t fly well with the relatively conservative British-based Human Rights Watch, whose representative, Peter Brouchaert, responded, “We don’t need statements of regret from Israel. We need investigation and an end to the killing.”
Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, speaking of a claimed tunnel from Gaza that supposedly led to an Israel border settlement, stated in a July 17 interview that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed great “restraint” and paid a high “political price” for not invading sooner. Oren added, “Essentially Hamas,” the elected governing party of the Palestine Authority in Gaza, “invaded Israel first.”(!)
The “political price” paid by the “civilized” Netanyahu meant that he had to endure the mad calls from fanatical right-wing Israeli groups that demanded blood, including slaughtering Palestinian women to stop them from reproducing more Palestinians. This kind of “dialogue” is not uncommon in Israel but largely excluded from the corporate media in the U.S. After all, Israel is a civilized nation!
Origins of the Israeli settler state
Israel did not exist before 1948, when the World War II imperialist victors, meeting at the United Nations, decreed that an Israeli state was to be carved out of historic Palestine, then a British “Mandate,” a polite imperialist word for colony. The Zionist colonizers were granted 56 percent of the country.
Great Britain originally “acquired” Palestine following the World War I conflagration and worldwide slaughter that resulted in the victors’ division of the vanquished Ottoman Empire. England and France, which in the 19thcentury had partaken in the colonial subjugation and division of Africa, set out to do the same in the Middle East. Pencils and pens in hand, a host of diplomats divided up the Ottoman Empire and assigned the sections outside Turkey itself to the French and British imperialists.
Previously, in 1917, the Zionist movement, promising to be Britain’s colonial overseers in Palestine, had reached an accord with the British Empire, via the Balfour Declaration. Signed by the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour and the British Zionist leader, Baron Walter Rothschild II, the agreement read in part: “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
The latter portion of this declaration was included to portray the British Empire and its associated Zionist colonizer allies as merely living side by side with their Palestinian “neighbors.” However, 90 percent of the population of Palestine at that time was made up of Palestinian Arabs.
Perhaps the leading ideological forbearer of “Revisionist Zionism” was Vladimir Jabotinsky, who authored the benchmark essay for the entire Zionist movement, “The Iron Wall.” (The earlier form of Zionism, with pacifist and socialist tones, nevertheless contemplated establishing a Jewish homeland to be carved out of some conquered nation with the approval of its imperialist conqueror. South Africa and Uganda were among the nations that had been considered for this project.)
In 1923, Jabotinsky spelled out the Zionist credo without equivocation: “Whether through the Balfour Declaration or the [British] Mandate, external force is a necessity for establishing in the country [Palestine] conditions of rule and defense to which the local population, regardless of what it wishes, will be deprived of the possibility of impeding our colonization, administratively or physically. Force must play its role—with strength and without indulgence. In this, there are no meaningful differences between our militarists and our vegetarians. One prefers an Iron Wall of Jewish bayonets; the other an Iron Wall of English bayonets.”
Jabotinsky continued: “To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer, ‘absolutely untrue.’ This is our ethic. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes—not for any sweet words, not for any tasty morsel, because this is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall.” (For a comprehensive overview, see Socialist Action’s pamphlet, “The Hidden History of Zionism” by Ralph Schoenman.)
European Jewish immigration to Palestine increased dramatically following Hitler’s coming to power in 1933. Jewish land purchases and new Jewish settlements rapidly ensued. Palestinian resistance to British control and Zionist settlements climaxed with the massive Arab revolt of 1936-39, which Britain brutally suppressed with the help of Zionist militias.
Within days of the 1948 partition of Palestine, Zionism’s terrorist armies, this time with British weapons in hand, declared war on the Palestinian people, inside and outside of the new Zionist state, as well as on all surrounding Arab nations that rejected the UN’s imperialist partition. Three hundred eighty-five Palestinian villages were razed to the ground, renamed, and reconstituted as Israeli towns. In the course of this 1948-49 war and expansion of Israel, 726,000 Palestinians were driven from their land, with many moving to Gaza and the West Bank (of the Jordan River) or dispersed to refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere. With the destruction of their towns and villages, “vacated” Palestinian land was decreed Israeli state property under the 1950 “Absentee Property Law.”
Until 1947, Jewish land ownership in Palestine was 6 percent. The rest belonged to the Palestinian people. Today that figure is essentially reversed. Palestinian lands have been systematically stolen by force. By 1949 Israel occupied 78 percent of Palestine. Following the 1967 Six-Day War, the percentage was increased to 100—that is, Israel occupied all of historic Palestine.
The so-called Occupied Territories of 1967 were and remain subject to the systematic construction of Israeli settlements, despite the vague 1995 “Oslo agreement,” wherein Gaza and the West Bank would be under the jurisdiction of a Palestinian Authority, whose leaders were to be elected by Palestinians in that 22 percent of the original Palestine. But Israeli settlements in both “territories” continued without interruption, as they do to this day.
The three million Palestinian occupants of Gaza and the West Bank are essentially banned from leaving their new and now “legalized,” and re-occupied, territory. These economically and socially unviable Bantustans are daily subject to Israel military control, including a myriad of militarized checkpoints, walls, separate roads for Israelis, and other measures that render them little more than prisons regulated by Israeli troops, guards, and financial interests. With regard to Israeli’s relentless construction of settlements in these areas, UN resolutions and/or “international laws” that supposedly regulate relations between states and people and that prohibit such land seizures have been ignored with impunity—and always with total U.S. complicity.
Zionist apartheid vs. South African apartheid
Zionist colonization differs significantly from the classical European form, in which the conquered indigenous population is subjected to near slave-like conditions aimed at providing a near-free labor force for European industry and agriculture. In contrast, the Israeli variant was and remains based on the physicalexclusion of all Palestinian labor and its replacement with Jewish workers and settlers from all over the world. The latter are granted immediate citizenship based on their Jewish heritage, as opposed to Palestinians, whose rights are largely restricted regardless of how many generations their forbears lived in Palestine. Israel is formally a “Jewish state.”
In this sense, South African apartheid also differed significantly from its Israeli variant. The South African colonists, less than 10 percent of the population, maintained the fiction that South Africa was “legally” for whites only. Blacks were relegated to non-citizen status and required pass cards to work in the “new” South Africa. Others were held in artificially created and isolated Bantustans (“Black homelands” or “Black states”), geographically separate and apart from South Africa, as with Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, and Ciskei.
No nation except the apartheid South African government recognized this “legal fiction.” No one denied that these “homelands” operated merely to provide a reserve labor supply for South Africa’s capitalist enterprises, especially its mining industries. South Africa’s colonial settlers, with their ingrained racist/colonialist mentality, deemed these poverty-stricken enclaves “independent nations.”
In Israel, Palestinian labor barely exists, with the Zionist regime’s needed labor force, not including Jews, largely consisting of immigrants from poor nations. Jabotinsky’s conception is fully operative. The Palestinian identity is to be eradicated. Palestinians are to be driven out! Israel is for Jews only!
This is not to detract from the horrors created by European colonization. In Africa’s Congo, for example, King Leopold II of Belgium murdered 12 million Congolese in the 19th century, the largest genocide in history. The French, British, Spanish, Italian, German, and Portuguese imperialists similarly murdered literally tens of millions while enslaving and exporting countless millions of others.
It is in this broad colonial context that the June 13 disappearance of three Israeli teenagers, which is still unexplained, must be evaluated. Without proof, the Zionist government immediately declared Hamas, the Islamic current that formally represents Palestinians in Gaza guilty—despite Hamas denials.
A “revenge” campaign was immediately launched in the West Bank. Entire towns were sealed off by Israeli government forces. Palestinian homes were systematically broken into. Some 800 people were instantly arrested and charged with being supporters of Hamas. (In fact, Israel is continuing to hunt down alleged Hamas supporters in the West Bank and in Israel itself.) And yet, Hamas, declared by the U.S. to be a terrorist organization, is held responsible for starting yet another war with the “peace-loving” and “democratic” Zionist and colonialist Israel.
This government-created hysteria resulted in three far-right Israelis, including two teenagers, taking action. They kidnapped, clubbed, doused with gasoline, and burned alive the innocent Palestinian youth, Mohammed Abu Khdeir. These murderers were soon captured by Israeli authorities and charged with “terrorism.” The same day, however, war was declared on the Gaza Strip, with death and destruction wrought on the innocent civilian population ever since.
One can only recall Hitler’s rounding up hundreds of civilians in Nazi-occupied cities, and ordering one person shot each minute until someone stepped forward to reveal the names of the resistance fighters who had courageously challenged and killed a handful of Nazis soldiers.
In a similar vein, any Palestinian who resists Israeli oppression, occupation, and confiscation of their land and property, and the slaughter of their people is deemed a terrorist. Nelson Mandela and Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, resistance fighters who became presidents of their nations, were similarly declared terrorists.
George Washington, who resisted British colonial occupation and oppression in the 18th century, and who used force and violence to win America’s freedom, was also deemed a terrorist. Before Washington was able to form regular armies to resist British rule, he too employed guerrilla tactics and primitive weapons to challenge the British Empire’s occupying armies.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration, like all other U.S. administrations before it, swears allegiance to the Israeli state power, which it arms and finances to the tune of $3.1 billion yearly, the largest sum gifted to any nation on earth. The vast portion of this “foreign aid,” it is worth noting, is spent on the purchase of military equipment from the largely monopolized U.S. military-industrial complex. That is, funds spent on arming Israel to the teeth are returned to the U.S. to beef up the coffers of U.S. war profiteers.
Growing worldwide opposition to Zionist Israel
Since the formation of Israel in 1948, systematic war against the Palestinian people has been the rule, not the exception. In 1948, no Arab nation recognized the legitimacy of this colonial racist state, carved out of Palestinian land. Indeed, leading American philosophers and scientists opposed the formation of the Zionist state, including renowned scientist Albert Einstein, who rejected an Israeli offer to become Israel’s first president. Einstein expressed grave concerns that the victims of the Nazis holocaust not become the colonial persecutors and overseers of the Palestinian people.
Today, some 66 years later, perhaps the world’s most well-known living scientist, particle physicist Stephen Hawking, refused to participate at a scientific gathering in Israel. In recent days and months, Hawking has been joined by a constant flow of leading U.S. academic and professional associations that have added their voices to the growing BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement protesting Israeli’s policies. The 1.5 million-member Presbyterian Church voted in early July to condemn Israeli’s murderous policies toward the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the world is ablaze with unprecedented protests, exceeding any others in history, condemning the Zionist state. Hundred of thousands have taken to the streets in England, France, and across Europe. In the U.S. almost daily mobilizations have been organized across the country, with several thousands participating in actions in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, and other cities. In almost all instances, these actions have been initiated by U.S.-based Palestinian and associated Arab organizations and supported by a myriad of antiwar and social justice organizations. Indeed, the largest U.S. antiwar organization, the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), at its national conference two years ago of 800 activists from 30 states, nearly unanimously adopted the demand, “End all U.S. Aid to Israel—military, economic, and diplomatic.”
For a democratic, secular Palestine
I will conclude this admittedly angry essay by stating that Socialist Action has never recognized the legitimacy of the Zionist entity called Israel. Nor have we done so with regard to the overseers of any colonized nation on earth, whether in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, or anywhere else. We have always stood on the side of and in solidarity with the oppressed masses of the world who challenge their colonial or neo-colonial subjugators.
We likewise reject imperialism’s originally imposed division of the Middle East into separate states, dependent on and ruled by imperial occupiers or their agents. These divisions—these lines on maps drawn by conquerors—artificially divided or incorporated peoples with diverse origins, histories, languages, and cultures. Today’s tragic unfolding events in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon—and indeed, throughout the Middle East—are testimony to the deadly effects of imperialist divisions.
Zionist Israel is nothing less than an imperialist creation that is administrated, tragically, by Jewish people—whose forebears were subjected to the monstrous Hitlerian holocaust. Today, Palestinians constitute the largest refugee population in the world. At more than four million, expelled from their land and homes, tortured, murdered and denied basic human rights, they are a beleaguered people struggling for their freedom and dignity.
Socialists do not demand “negotiations” or a “ceasefire” or a “just solution” to the “Palestinian problem”—all code words or expressions that are premised on extending legitimacy to the Zionist state, including its expulsion of the Palestinian people.
Socialist Action supports the 1973 historic demand of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for a “Democratic Secular Palestine” with the right of return to all dispossessed Palestinians should they choose to exercise it. Achieving this demand would entail the rejection of the Israeli settler state and the re-establishment of historic Palestine with democratic rights for all—Palestinians, Jews, and Christians.
“Free, Free Palestine!”—a demand increasingly shouted out by antiwar activists and supporters of Palestinian freedom around the world—likewise strongly implies the abolition of the Zionist and racist settler state of Israel.
At the same time, we understand that the Palestinians can never achieve true self-determination in the context of capitalism. We fight for a socialist Palestine, as we do for a socialist confederation of the Middle East. The revolutionary mobilization of the vast majority is a pre-requisite for this outcome. Anything less can only mean continued subjugation to the imperialist ruling rich and their appointed agents.
These are not revolutionary abstractions. They are based on our rejection of the colonialist and neo-colonial occupations and wars that are the rule today in that region. Revolutionary socialists support the right of all oppressed and colonized people to self-determination—free from colonial rule.
Today, the central imperial power in the Middle East is the United States. Free from U.S. intervention in its myriad forms, the people of the Middle East would have long ago ridden themselves of local would-be tyrants. These tyrants, as with the Nouri al-Maliki government in Iraq, exist only at the behest of the U.S., which finances, arms, and directs its brutal puppet dictators in order to facilitate the exploitation of each nation’s resources and peoples. “Regime change” is imperialism’s current code word for replacing one dictator with another, provided only that the new appointees protect U.S. interests.
In the United States, we demand, “End all aid to Israel!” We call on the world’s working masses everywhere to take to the streets to demand, “Stop the Israeli massacre in Gaza!” and “End the Israeli blockade!”
Socialist Action photo by Tony Savino: Participants in New York City protest against Israeli invasion of Gaza.