Another Crisis in the Middle East

The trial of strength between Hamas and Israel has ended, at least for now, with a “victory” for all. With elections coming up, Netanyahu has achieved an important result. He has shown that he is a hawk, a worthy successor to Sharon, the man of destiny for the Israeli people. In electoral terms he wanted to forcefully demonstrate that the security of the nation rests in his hands, through his determination to deal ferociously with anyone who dares to question the borders of the State. It is his way of saying that the past ambiguity and readiness for dialogue of the Labour Party and Kadima led nowhere, and the only party which Israelis need to rally around is Likud. Any path which abandons the use of force will only deliver the country of David into the hands of the Palestinian enemy. On an international level the brief war against Hamas, and the acceptance of the truce that followed have reattached the strings which indissolubly tie Israel to the USA, allowing President Obama to unscrupulously and unhesitatingly declare unconditional support for reprisals by air and sea against Gaza City.

For Hamas, despite the 160 civilian deaths and the devastating bombardment which has destroyed entire districts, it has also been a chance to sing of “victory”. This farce doesn’t have elections in Gaza as its main aim because none are on the agenda but to show the Palestinian people that only their armed wing , the Ezzedine al Kassam brigades can take on the Zionist army successfully. More specifically the declaration of “victory” takes on the significance of a challenge to the PLO of Abu Mazen, and his concessions to Israel and the United States, in a sort of implicit denunciation of their betrayal of Palestinian nationalism.

Even for the new Egyptian President, Morsi, the Gaza war has presented unexpected opportunities. The post “Pharaoh” (i.e. Mubarak – translator), post Tantawi figure, who had excited so much fear and confusion after the undisputed victory of his Islamist party, supported by the radical wing of the fundamentalist Salafists, had to win back approval, both within the Arab League and on the international chess board of the devastated Middle East. After the first ambiguous declarations in which Morsi announced his wish to respect all agreements (with Israel and the United States), the Camp David Accords above all, he had added that he reserved the possibility of looking again at some points. In other words, if the United States continued to finance the Army without Tantawi, and considered post-Mubarak Egypt a faithful ally, absolutely nothing would happen, but if on the other hand the new Egyptian regime was pushed into a corner then the old balance of power would be upset. Morsi, caught firmly between two stools, declared that the Egyptian people would never abandon their Palestinian brothers in Hamas, that he would reopen the Rafah crossing to allow refuges to flee whilst at the same time he closed all the tunnels which connect Gaza and Sinai to hamper the passage of arms and jihadist militants, and totally dedicated himself to negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in order to show the USA how faithful he could be.

In addition, a factor of extraordinary importance should be noted in relations between Egypt and Israel: the pipeline of el-Arish in the Sinai that carries gas into the Israeli city of Ashkelon on the Mediterranean. The Arab Gas Pipeline runs from el-Arish in northern Sinai and is divided into two branches. The main branch runs through the Gulf of Aqaba, in the southern part of the Sinai, then north along the Jordan River and supplies gas to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The second branch, that of the el-Arish-Ashkelon pipeline along the Gaza Strip, reached Israel on the basis of a contract signed in 2005 between the Israeli company Israel Electricity Corporation and the Egyptian East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG). This contract came into force in March 2008. The Egyptian-Israeli agreement provides for the EMG to meet Israel’s energy needs by supplying 1.7 billion cubic metres of natural gas each year for a period of fifteen years. In addition, it provides for the possibility of increasing the supply of gas by 25% and extending the contract for another five years. However, jihadist groups have inflicted serious damage on the pipeline, so much so that it had to be closed for three months, seriously endangering 40% of Israel’s energy supply.

It is thus also the case that the government in Tel Aviv is desperately trying to find an alternative to its traditional lack of energy supplies by exploiting the offshore natural gas fields of Dalit, Tamar and Leviathan in the maritime space off the coast of Haifa. The fields in question have already been explored by a joint venture led by the Israeli company Delek and Noble Energy of Texas. However, this is still a remote possibility, given the conflict with Lebanon and Cyprus (the Turkish side) and the fact that Turkey itself claims the same fields. Thus the el-Arish-Ashkelon pipeline continues to be the main dilemma for Israel.

In this sense, the question of energy was, once again, the central feature of the "little war in Gaza". For Israel it was absolutely necessary to reiterate that the energy supply should continue and be safe from any attack and that the Morsi government would have to guarantee this, even against Hamas as against any other fundamentalist force, something the new "Pharaoh" has shown he wants to do.

That the losers have been civilians, children, workers, peasants, and all manner of dispossessed, is of little importance in the logic of the opposing national interests.

All this only fuels the hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, throwing them even more into the arms of fundamentalists like Hamas or Likud and moving them further away from the internationalist perspective, for the removal of borders and the overthrow of class society.

Once again, therefore, war turns out to be the best weapon of the bourgeoisie to divide the working class, playing them off against each other and fomenting nationalism.

Against Israeli military aggression, against the nationalism of Hamas, the unification of Palestinian and Israeli workers and the dispossessed for a society without classes or borders requires a return to the path of class struggle. This is the only solution to the perpetual devastation of war, to nationalistic self-interest, to a capitalism that is gasping for breath but still sowing terror and death.


Saturday, November 24, 2012


It seems to me that whereas CWO perpetually advocates an almost mystical ultra internationalist perspective, it should be recognised that there is always the Marxist property question. Whether or not the bourgeoisie 'foments' nationalism, the affinity which workers in the middle east and elsewhere feel for the localities in which they try to live is inherited generation by generation, land is worked on and developed, families are raised and grow up with deep local knowledge of what is required to work on land and/or materials available. If land is invaded, taken from them and./or occupied or bombed, the property question comes into full focus. It is no consolation to be advised to blend with an internationalist proletariat.

The mystical is the nationalist vision. When they next tell you to go an fight for "your country" just ask yourself exactly how much of it do you own? The ruling class everywhere know how much they own and it is no different in Britain or in Palestine (or in the Palestine diaspora where workers are forced to pay taxes to a "state" which gives them precisely what?). That most people are taken in by this shit is true but that is what we are fighting against. What are you up for?

Even if the working class of any country hardly owns any of it, they still don't want it to be overrun by, for instance, nazis nor anyone else. Much of history tells of the barbarity of invading hordes and of the brutality of occupiers. If you want to fraternize with them, watch out. By world war 2 the Germans were amongst the most highly educated (or mis-educated) people in the world, capable of much more than building autobahns. Ma bister - Romanes for Dont' forget.

You might like to read the new small book, with nice readable font size, by Amos Oz, entitled 'How to Cure a Fanatic'. It seems to me to be a lot closer to ICT views, though not the same, than comments recently made by me. Regards.

So you will fraternise with your own exploiters? You seem to confuse defence of persons with defence of property and the bourgeois state.

On the contrary, despite ICT concepts, persons don't live in thin air, but in localities, so there is no confusion. Whether or not those localities are bourgeois states is as may be. How many workers in the Red Army regarded their USSR as such? That is not to say that the USSR under Stalin entirely met with their approval, as you will probably be quick to point out. Actually we can all go round and round arguing about yesterdays' history, invoking a range of concepts by which to assess it (perhaps recalling Mosley's expression - 'rival stupidities!), but whether or not valid lessons can be drawn from it for the situations existing today and probably tomorrow, with all the increase in military and communications technology etc etc, is far from clear, however many doubtful and paradoxical lessons are advocated by all and sundry.

But where doe the "locality" loyalty begin and end? In 1860 Italy was "united" with only 3% of the population in the new country speaking a recognisable form of Italian. Most Italians thought "Italia" was either Garibaldi's mistress or his horse when they were shouting "Viva Garibaldi !Viva Italia!". The first Prime Minister D'Azeglio made the game abandantly clear when he decalred "we have made Italy, now we have to make Italians". A century and half later the Italian bourgeosie is still working on it. And what do Scots living in England do if, in the unlikely prospect, Salmond's referendum succeeds? Do they overnight fidn anew deep seated spiritual alliance to England. Will they have to take the citizenship test? Nationalism may be natrual for property owners but the working class has to be worked upon for it to penetrate. History alsos shows us that nationalism can be strongly held but is wafer thin (see the First World War for a start when the workers of the world joyfully joined the slaughter only to turn against it and embrace internationalism three years later. When we talk of consciousness there are no absolutes not even for what you seem to think is the overwhelming force of nationalism.

I’m not sure what DKTZ is advocating as a solution to the war between the two reactionary forces if any at all. The article points out that solution to the crisis is not to be found in those governments of the belligerent forces or those whom wish to be the peace maker i.e. Morsi of Egypt. They all defend capitalism.

There is the two state proposal, the destruction of Israel or defending the status quo. The leftists are divided as to which they prefer but the two state solution is gaining support not only amongst the leftists but also ruling classes. This common sense approach to the crisis in the middle east sits quite comfortably with the bourgeoisie in the region and the west in general as it is no solution at all.

We must look beyond what is presented the by the bourgeois and leftists and look to the working class as the only force to end the conflict with an internationalist perspective.

If internationalism is not the answer what is?

Ages ago I recall that Jock rounded off some statement or other with the words "... but we are not pacifists". I used to be a pacifist, but then there was a breadth of sets of beliefs to encounter, war experiences reported by those who had been in some of the worst of World War 2, and various explanations of views related to them and to what they might imply for today and the future. It's no good expecting too much or even anything from me. All I do is to mention occasional alternative views to what various people propose, trying to keep my own counsel amidst the turmoil and flak. When I was 20, after working on London's busiest casualty department on alternative national service, I got into a traumatic state regarding beliefs and spent four months in an old asylum, forced to be a voluntary patient to avert being kept in there indefinitely, and got electric shock treatment and fifty insulin comas, one a day bar Sundays. On leaving, I was advised to lead a perfectly normal life. When they had asked me which paper I read, I had told them 'Freedom', the anarchist paper ! One of the fellow patients on the ward had had his arm blown off at the Somme. Now I'm 76, having read loads of all sorts of Marxist papers, pamphlets and books, have been on CND and umpteen demos against all sorts, so now, probably not with much of the legendary wisdom of old age, other 'comrades'??? can get on with it, to the best of their inabilities. Sorry about that, take care. Jazz keeps me going, maybe you too. Beware the irrational thought of sleep-deprived persons, said Luria, the brain specialist. Then there is the Yiddish joke - Your health comes first, you can always hang yourself later. Final thoughts - Maybe babe will be a republican (to the tune of maybe it's because I'm a Londoner)!!! Music can be very therapeutic, not just 'The Internationale' and 'Bandiera Rossa', but hearing a man in the asylum playing 'Love is the sweetest thing' on a piano. That was just what I needed at the time. What do workers need at the time, in their circumstances ? Carry on, but are you not pacifists ? Buddhists don't rely on theism, but on donations.

Sorry, no, narcissistic paranoia should have no place amongst serious political comments. As to what could and/or should be done in drastic situations, such as in the Middle East, are not questions for which I can offer all-round satisfactory answers. What I can say is that folk tend to either join in what is going on, whether or not that is as some marxists might wish, or try to opt out, which, again, might be even closer to what some wish. How often are immediate responses to situations guided by deep theoretical thought, when things are really kicking off ? Not long ago I saw a T-shirt on which words attributed to Bertrand Russell said that he wouldn't fight (or die?) for any cause, as he might be mistaken. His work to seek an end to the war in Vietnam and against nuclear weaponry was tremendous, whatever any criticism of his views might be. There was a two pound fine for 'obstruction' for sitting down in protest in Parliament Square. A massive demo started from Trafalgar Square, where Tariq Ali urged us all on, then the crowd surged into the Strand, at the front of which was a horizontal very long bamboo pole. The extent to which mass protest ever leads towards revolution might be a renewed question for visitors to this website.

The following sentence appeared in the article entitled 'Israel's latest massacre in Gaza met by renewed Palestinian resistance', as in the December 2012 edition of 'Proletarian', of the CPGB-ML:-

'In other words, if Palestine agreed not to defend herself and submitted willingly to extrajudicial killings on her territory, then Israel might consider temporarily suspending the latest air bombardment.' (end of quote).

Others might wish to comment on that, perhaps referring to ICT views against both nationalism and 'pacifism'.