Trump and Jerusalem

Trump, like the god of war, has unleashed another of his dazzling thunderbolts. His declaration that the American embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a bomb blast in a geographical and political situation where more bombs are certainly not needed. Although at the moment this is only a virtual bomb, the real and exterminating versions will continue to torment the Middle East for years. The declaration itself might have gone unnoticed if it had been any other head of state, in any other area of the globe, in a less delicate context. But it wasn’t.

The meaning of the statement sounds like a trumpet blast, a sign of war that is music to the Zionist ears of Netanyahu and stuns the Palestinian world, revitalising the clash between the two irreconcilable nationalisms. The removal of the American embassy to Jerusalem is a sign that the American government no longer sanctions the policy (always in words but never in deeds) of two peoples, two states, but that there is now only one state with Jerusalem as its capital. It’s just the same for “peoples”. There is now only one people, the Israeli the other, the Palestinian, is just an old side effect of UN Resolution 181 of 1947 and, therefore, a mere leftover from the first Arab-Israeli war.

Reactions were not slow in coming. Mogherini immediately let it be known, on behalf of the European Union, that the American example will not have many imitators. French President Macron has even accused Trump of putting the peace process in the Middle East in doubt even if, it must be said, the two nationalisms have never been able to find the right path on the much travelled road towards a "negotiated solution". Not only has Israel repeatedly rejected the idea, but the heavy interference of the local imperialisms, and not just over the Israeli-Palestinian question, have always been more about confrontation between their respective opposing interests than solving the problem.

Turkey, in the shape of President Erdogan has heavily railed against Trump and US policy in the Middle East, using terms like "slaughterers" of unarmed populations, "killers" of children and violators of any peace process and instigators of conflicts that risks war across the entire Mediterranean chessboard. With these ringing declarations he aims to defend the (Sunni) Palestinian people and hopes to play a winning card against the silence of Saudi Arabia and its political and military appeasement of those who have always been on Israel’s side and never on the side of the Palestinians. It is a card that, if well played, would give a significant advantage to Ankara over Saudi Arabia in their duel with for leadership within the Sunni world. It should be added that Erdogan’s vehemence against Trump, who he defines as absolutely "unreliable" for international stability, stems from his resentment at American policy in the war against the "disruptive" Islamic State, in US support for Kurdish formations in Syrian territory and in Iraq. Kurdish formations that Erdogan does not even want to hear spoken about, in case he finds the nationalist problem in Syria and Iraq repeated at home, with a reinvigorated PKK.

Putin's Russia, which is considered the real winner in the war against the Islamic State: so much so that it has begun withdrawing troops from Syria, complemented his condemnation in words of Trump's move with some deeds of his own. The new "Tsar" immediately sought out Bashar el Assad to toast victory, to emphasise Russian military presence in the Mediterranean and to emphasise that in Syria the Alawite regime cannot be touched. Its only authorised guardian is Moscow and only Moscow. In the wake of this victory Putin is now trying to go beyond Russia’s traditional Middle Eastern imperialist role. After his visit to Damascus he made overtures to the Sunni world by organising diplomatic, economic and politically strategic meetings with King Hussein of Jordan and Egypt’s al Sisi, now more and more secure in power in Cairo and increasingly suspicious in his relations with the USA. China and Iran have also joined this chorus of criticism. Although economically and strategically divided on various issues, they agree that they are opposed to Trump's move.

The most highly regarded bourgeois analysts on Trump's "shot" on Jerusalem stick to general remarks. For some this episode, however serious, is only the umpteenth attempt by the American President to wipe out all political traces of his predecessor: In this case guilty of having married the idea of the two states and two peoples in order to try to give a "peaceful and definitive" solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question.

Others explain the "shot" more as a result of a difficult situation at home where Trump is in serious difficulties over the "Russiagate" scandal and has a very low approval rating, both with the American public and in his own party. In other words, it could just be a move to secure the support of the pro-Israel lobby in an attempt to boost the opinion polls before the imminent mid-term election.

All valid considerations, at least in part, but which only scratch the surface of the problem triggered by Trump's decision to move the embassy headquarters. The real reasons are to be found in the imminent closure of the battlefield phase of the struggle against the Islamic State which is triggering a political and diplomatic clash over the division of strategic zones in the vast territory of ​ liberated "Siraq". As in all post-war periods, the winning powers present themselves at the "checkout" to receive their pay back in the form of military or commercial influence, exploitation of resources or just for the "control" of strategic geographical areas with the related reconstruction business. More precisely, it appears that the majority shareholder Putin manages the "checkout" and that on the ground he has collected the most "points", allowing him to keep Assad in Damascus, to make use of military bases, build new ones, and deal directly with Cairo and Amman, as never before. Negotiations underway clearly aim to expand Russia’s presence in the Mediterranean militarily, with control of a strategic area of ​​primary importance that connects Europe to North Africa and the Middle East as well as ensure the sale of its gas. The aim is also to deepen ties with Erdogan’s Turkey on both the military and energy (Turkish Stream) fronts. All this at the expense of the US, which entered the Syrian war (under the pretence of fighting jihadist terrorism) precisely to prevent Russia from doing all this.

A first response to Putin's aggression was the inclusion of Israel among the countries that could benefit from "administrative licences", in the hypothetical partition of some Syrian territories. According to Trump's plans, part of southern Syria would be under Jerusalem's control as a demilitarised zone. In fact this area is contiguous with the Golan Heights which both Syria and Israel regard as key for securing their water supply and for securing their own borders. It would be a gift to Israel that would definitively end the dispute with Syria over the return of the Heights (conquered in 1967 during the Six Day War). The addition of this area, north of the Heights themselves, would act as a deep "buffer zone" between the two states, pushing the Syrian border away from the Israeli border.

The USA’s second response is the declaration that the capital of the state of Israel should be Jerusalem. It is a statement that destroys any idea of two states and two peoples with only one capital divided in half. Trump's declaration, as the subtext implies, removes any hesitation about recognising the uniqueness and indivisibility of the state of Israel, except for some "reservation" to be granted to the Palestinian population. It is another gift, however unexpected, that Netanyahu was quick to accept. It will strengthen a "friendship" between the two countries that, in this particular historical phase, in the context of current imperialist competition, moreover in the heart of a region with a high-density of opposing interests, must absolutely be brought to fruition and soon.

American imperialism is in obvious difficulty in the Middle East, allied only to a hesitating Saudi Arabia. Turkey is forever see-sawing but lately is more inclined towards the Russia-China axis despite the latter’s closeness to Iran. Iran is ready to resume its prominent role in the Caspian imperialist terrain in collaboration with the ever-present Russia. Trump's gifts to Netanyahu are nothing less than the attempt to engage Israel on the anti-Shiite and anti-Russian front in an imperialist duel that so far has produced wars, disasters and barbarism. It is preparing for more massacres and further barbarism in the ferocious logic of a capitalist crisis of production brought about by low profitability. In this same violent scenario the umpteenth tragedy of entire populations, of proletarians and peasants delivered to the slaughter, relentlessly enlisted in the factions of their respective bourgeoisies, who in turn choose their imperialist camps, will be played out. The victims will fight for interests that are not their own but those of their class enemies. They are victims of bourgeois ideology and the interests of capital which it serves and which sends them to be slaughtered.


14 December 2017

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Understanding something can be very different from justifying, advocating and encouraging it For example, marxists can understand reasons for burglary, but don't automatically excuse nor advocate it. No doubt the biggest robbers are the leading capitalists of this world dominated by imperialism. Marxists emphasise 'the property question'. Marx studied in depth the many aspects of financial factors in the world of his time, but property of various sorts exists in many forms other than that of money, even though money comes into play about it in many ways. There is the long-term CWO and wider arguement that the world's future is that of either socialism or barbarism. Maybe so, but would a world totally without any borders be freed from barbarism ? Could workers of the world run the planet without any borders ? Doors of homes without locks, because without imperialism, and with the working class in control, everyone could be regarded as trustworthy and totally lacking in any tendency to disturb anyone ? As the population of the world keeps growing, notably in some areas, and from those many choose, if possible, to move to other ones, for understandable reasons, are workers in places into which they intend to move not only to understand them, but to welcome all and sundry, irrespective of crowded circumstances where they have tried to live without such big influxes from abroad ? We are told by the media that large numbers of workers from abroad are needed to staff the NHS, bur they don't tell us how many palaces the monarchy 'needs', whilst homelessness grows by 65%, nor that if capitalist money could be used to train local workers to work in the NHS, there should be no need to call for large numbers to come from elsewhere. I must remind anyone thinking of leaping to charges of racism that the came considerations would apply even if the whole world's population all had only green skin, and that overcrowding tends to cause racism, unfortunately. Workers of the world can unite across borders, but would they without them?

If possible, I can say that at age 22, after returning from Poland in 1958, having worked there for some weeks on an international volunteer project, during which we were taken on a visit to the remains of Auschwitz-Birkenau, as a non-jew I tried to find out about Yiddish, a language largely wiped out in much of Europe, and was pleased to meet Sonia Seedo, the author of 'The Dialectics of Thought and Feeling' (not yet available in English), and her partner, I.A.Liski, who was the editor of the last Yiddish language paper in London. On the evening on which my then wife and I went to hear violinst Pinchas Zukerman (from USA) play, who's father survived Auschwitz, we had a meal with Liski and Seedo. Liski was a keen zionist, whilst Seedo was a marxist from Bessarabia via Vienna where they met. Liski said "We can share a meal together, but you can't buy the table !" I met Leon Greenman (Auschwitz 98288) and went on a big anti-fascist demo with him. His paperback eventually got published - 'An Englishman in Auschwitz'. I saw him in hospital, then attended his funeral. It's highly debatable as to what can be usefully learned from history, but we can certainly be largely stunned by it.