Gaza and Beyond: The Bitter Fruits of Capitalism, Nationalism and Imperialism Threaten All Humanity

As we lined up ... four girls were ordered to accompany them to carry water for the [fighters]… Instead they took them to our empty houses and raped them. About seventy of our men were blindfolded and shot to death, one after the other in front of us. They … took their bodies and threw them on the cement covering the village’s spring and dumped sand on them.(1)

They killed some eighty … The children were killed by smashing their skulls with clubs.(2)

7 October 2023? No, this other sickening incident took place in October 1948. The “fighters” were actually Jewish soldiers of the Haganah (“Defence”) organisation. These were not isolated or spontaneous incidents but part of the Zionist forces’ carefully thought out Plan Dalet (Plan D). Posed ever since by Israeli governments as a defensive measure to ensure the Zionist movement would get what the UN Partition of Palestine had promised them, it was actually a plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villagers from their land. The Haganah was not the only Israeli force in operation that day. Alongside them operated the outright terrorist groups of Lehi (known by its opponents as the Stern Gang)(3) and the Irgun Zvai Leumi which would not accept that any sharing of the land could take place. It was the Irgun (encouraged by Haganah commanders) who had committed arguably the biggest atrocity of all, with the massacre of up to 254 villagers in Deir Yassin in April 1948. The fact that Deir Yassin was eighteen miles inside the territory that the UN had allotted to the existing inhabitants of the British mandate of Palestine gives the lie to any “defensive” intent behind Plan Dalet. News of this atrocity led many Palestinians to flee for their lives.

We are not recalling these details of the Palestinian Nakba to justify the horrors of 7 October 2023 carried out by the Hamas-led forces. Blame-game propaganda is a weapon in all wars and is being milked to the limit by both Hamas (acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya or the “Islamic Resistance Movement”) and the Israeli state to justify their equally poisonous nationalist agendas. The aim is to get workers massacring each other in defence of the property of their masters. Both must be rejected, along with the system that has spawned them.

Immediate Roots of the Current Slaughter

The latest round in this century-old “asymmetrical conflict” opened with the astonishing and unprecedented Hamas breakout from the confinement of the Gaza enclave. This led to the indiscriminate and inhuman butchery of up to 1,200 people (not all Jewish, even Arab Israelis who tried to talk to the fighters were gunned down) with a further 240 (from 40 different nationalities) taken hostage. It was still the greatest loss of Jewish life on a single day since the Holocaust.

In reply, in less than three months of fighting, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has killed more than 22,000 Palestinians, some few thousand of whom are actual fighters but 45% are children.(4) This too is a new record in horror for the Palestinian people. The level of destruction seen in Gaza has not been equalled in any urban setting since the Second World War. Israel has dropped nearly as many bombs on the Gaza Strip (which is about the same area as the Isle of Wight) in one week as the US-led coalition dropped on the entire territory of Afghanistan in one year. Several military sources indicate that the explosive equivalent is already greater than two nuclear bombs of the size that levelled Hiroshima (which had an area nearly three times bigger than the whole of Gaza). The IDF have made no pretence that there is any “precision” bombing (as the US and its allies tried to claim in Iraq in 2003). 2,000 pound bombs simply knock apartment blocks down like ninepins even when they are not directly hit. Along with the blockade of essential supplies it has created a humanitarian disaster for over 2 million people, who are repeatedly told by the IDF to move to this or that safe place, the last an area not much more than 3 square miles – and even that is not safe. They already face lack of heating, starvation and disease, in a situation where nearly all medical facilities have been depleted, and a particularly wet winter is adding to the misery.

The ferocity of the Israeli response could have been foreseen by anyone who has been paying even minimal attention over the last few years. Indeed in May 2021 the Internationalist Communist Tendency put out a statement on the last bout of fighting between Hamas and Israel. Under a subheading of “Déjà Vu” we wrote:

We have been here before. Precisely three times before, since Hamas seized control of Gaza 15 years ago. The pattern is always the same. Israel makes yet another move to create “facts on the ground” such as the planned eviction of Palestinians from parts of East Jerusalem. Then Hamas fires off all the home made rockets it has been stockpiling and, as long as they do, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) responds with all the weapons in its arsenal (except its unacknowledged nuclear one, of course). The US vetoes any condemnation of Israel in the UN Security Council as the rest of the “leaders of the world” airily call for “peace”.
The results also follow the same pattern. The number of Palestinians killed is always vastly disproportionate to the number of Israelis killed.(5)

However, despite the familiarities, this time is different. The 7 October 2023 attack by Hamas may have been due to the same grievances as in 2021 but it has occurred in an entirely different domestic, and in a much more dangerous international, context.

So what pushed Hamas into the massive and, for the people of Gaza, ruinous provocation of 7 October? There is obviously some truth in the official Hamas statement that the attack was planned as retaliation for the assaults on Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque, in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The equally provocative right-wing government, headed by Netanyahu, had given free hand to the convicted racist, Itamar Ben Gvir, and even created a special paramilitary National Guard to allow this Minister for Security to terrorise the Palestinians in those territories. Additionally, the Abraham Accords, through which the US had leveraged Arab states like the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco to sign agreements with Israel, further weakened the Palestinian position on the international stage. In the weeks before the Hamas assault, Saudi Arabia was also negotiating a treaty with Israel.

Hamas spokesperson Ibrahim Hamad also told Al Jazeera TV ... that the attack was “absolutely a message” to Muslim countries seeking normalization with Israel.(6)

Hamas did not react when the earlier Abraham Accords were struck but the Saudis were believed to be demanding the revival of one of the proposals in the 1993 Oslo Accords;

… focusing on the so-called Area C, which constitutes 60 percent of the West Bank and is where most of Israel’s settlements are located. There are credible reports of various proposals made by the Palestinian Authority, the United States, and Saudi Arabia arguing that Israel should agree to transfer a significant portion of Area C to Palestinian control as part an agreement between Riyadh and Jerusalem to normalize relations.(7)

Such “normalisation” was not what Hamas wanted, as it would have given more power to the Palestinian Authority, and thus its secular rival, Fatah. Perhaps this was the “message” Ibrahim Hamad meant to deliver to the Saudis?

But there was a third possible motive. Hamas’ support in the Gaza Strip had been in decline, and the population were not just blaming their worsening social conditions on the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the territory. A poll by Arab Barometer published in Foreign Affairs,(8) the New York Times and the Italian left-reformist paper Il Manifesto, showed that 62% of the population of Gaza did not support Hamas. Most would also settle for a two-state solution, which Hamas founding Covenant(9) of 1988 rejects. We don’t need to rely only on opinion polls either. As Amnesty International reported in 2022:

In the Gaza Strip, a general climate of repression, following a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests against the rising costs of living in 2019, effectively deterred dissent, often leading to self-censorship.(10)

Things are no better today. Unemployment now stands at 60% (a massive increase from only 2 years ago when it was 40%). In this situation repression is not enough. The standard ploy of all nationalists is to provoke the enemy into a reciprocal atrocity(11) in order to consolidate support against “the other” and, just as importantly, silence internal dissent. As another recent poll in late November/early December by Khalil Shikaki shows, it has largely worked, at least for now. In the West Bank support for Hamas has surged from 12% to 44% whilst it is up from 38% to 42% in Gaza since the Israeli bombing began.(12)

Deep political division is also apparent in Israel. For all of 2023 there have been massive demonstrations against the new ultra-right wing coalition’s attempts to carry out judicial reforms which would make the Supreme Court virtually a rubber stamp for the Knesset. Many demonstrators and opposition politicians know that the legal reforms are just a precursor to further expand the settlements in the West Bank, and even to expel all Palestinians from Israel’s recognised borders. Netanyahu has a personal interest in undermining the courts to avoid being tried for corruption, but his ultra-right wing allies from the religious orthodox and settler movement parties (there are now 750,000 such settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank) hold to a mirror image of Hamas’ aim – they really want the removal of all Palestinians from the territory of the former British mandate colony. Jewish settlements have been condemned by successive UN resolutions for half a century but, with US complicity, they can be ignored, and the settlements continue to be established in occupied territory. They are all part of a long standing Zionist project of creating “facts on the ground” intended to make any future Palestinian state impossible. In this Hamas has been Zionist nationalism’s “useful idiot”, since they too oppose any other solution than extinction of the state of Israel. Just as in the war in Ukraine, there is no room for any compromise.

It is well known that Hamas was encouraged by successive Israeli governments to emerge as an Islamist alternative to the Fatah movement which dominated, then and now, the so-called Palestinian Authority. Israeli officials have confirmed it.

In 2009, Avner Cohen, a former Israeli religious affairs official who worked in Gaza for over 20 years, told The Wall Street Journal, quote, “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation.” Another former Israeli official, Brigadier General Yitzhak Segev, said he was given a budget to help finance Islamist movements in Gaza to counter Yasser Arafat and his Fatah movement. Another former Israeli military official, David Hacham, said, quote, “When I look back at the chain of events, I think we made a mistake. But at the time, nobody thought about the possible results.(13)

The day after the Hamas attack many Israeli observers were not slow to point the finger of blame:

Most of the time, Israeli policy was to treat the Palestinian Authority as a burden and Hamas as an asset. Far-right Knesset Member, Bezalel Smotrich, now the finance minister in the hardline government and leader of the Religious Zionism party, said so himself in 2015.

According to various reports, Netanyahu made a similar point at a Likud faction meeting in early 2019, when he was quoted as saying that those who oppose a Palestinian state should support the transfer of funds to Gaza, because maintaining the separation between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.(14)

Such open cynicism by Israeli leaders means we also have to ask why Hamas were allowed, not only to get over the border, but penetrate so far into Israeli territory, and spend so much time wandering around, killing at will, on that Saturday morning of 7 October. After all, the Israeli secret services are regarded as the most effective in the world. They have an unparalleled record of success, and have infiltrated, at one time or another, all the Palestinian organisations. How was it then, that almost exactly on the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, and once again on the Sabbath during a Jewish religious holiday (Sukkot), they did not expect some action? Why were the warnings from the Egyptian secret services ignored? Why were the (female) soldiers who visually monitored the Gaza border, and reported training sessions where Hamas fighters practised bringing down the border fence ignored? The official responses have been unconvincing (you don’t need to send the entire IDF to the West Bank to deal with unarmed Palestinians, especially when the trouble there is caused by armed Jewish settlers), and this has fuelled the horrible suspicion that the Israeli government allowed an incursion to happen to give them the rationale to eliminate Hamas once and for all.

According to the New York Times (2 December 2023) the Israeli intelligence and military services had obtained a Hamas document a year before the attack. It detailed an assault that would overwhelm fortifications around the Gaza Strip, take over Israeli cities and target key military bases.

The approximately 40-page document, which the Israeli authorities code-named “Jericho Wall,” outlined, point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to the deaths of about 1,200 people ... But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out.(15)

This may also be true. Netanyahu originally tweeted a criticism of the intelligence services on the day of the attack but then deleted it. The only other comment came from Ronen Bar, the head of Shin Bet. He immediately admitted responsibility, with the blindingly banal statement that "unfortunately we were unable to generate a sufficient warning that would allow the Hamas attack to be thwarted", but he quickly added: "There will be time for investigations. Now we are fighting."

One reason for any alleged complacency can be found in the failure of Hamas’ attempts to cross the Gaza border in 2021 despite deploying some of the same weaponry and devices, like drones, that were used on 7 October. This seems to have given the IDF the sense that there could be no repeat for many years. The Israeli reporter Haviv Rettig Gur summed it up at the time:

Hamas was just forced to spend 11 days watching as Israel systematically disrupted its tactical innovations and demolished hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of its military infrastructure. The group has spent a decade building major new warfighting capabilities meant to challenge Israel on new and unexpected fronts. All proved ineffective or outright useless.(16)

In addition scores of mid to high ranking Hamas officers were killed in 2021 (and their names listed by the IDF) indicating that Israeli military intelligence still operated inside Gaza, despite the withdrawal of settlements there 16 years earlier. Netanyahu boasted about this repeatedly, constantly extolling the extent of Israel’s (undoubted) military superiority in technology.(17) With this in mind it seems that there was too much reliance on surveillance technology. On 7 October Hamas skilfully targeted this first, alongside the communications system, so that calls for assistance did not get through. In some cases it was 20 hours before some Israeli units arrived to aid those under attack.

Hamas leaders, on the other hand, seem to have learned from the defeat of 2021, and had gone in for some retro technology, using wired phones instead of cell phones deep in the tunnels below Gaza (according to the same New York Times report). Only top Hamas commanders knew the details of the plan which was only relayed to the other groups(18) participating in the attack at the last moment. In this way it is alleged they were able to keep their plans secret until 7 October.

Historians might not have to wait the usual 30 years to get the full truth this time, since the splits at the top of the Israeli government are plain for all to see. It was only last March that Ben Gvir called for the sacking of Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, for calling for a suspension of the judicial reform. For the settler right and ultra-religious leaders, Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, this was a betrayal since it is part of their strategy for colonisation of all of the land of Israel. For a few days Netanyahu looked like sacking Gallant, but massive demonstrations in his favour forced an about turn. Whatever the truth, the fact is that the Hamas attack has not only helped to keep the squabbling ultra-right wing coalition together, it has also brought about a sort of national unity and paved the way for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from Gaza. It has also led to the formation of a national unity government of sorts, as well as a five man War Cabinet, which includes opposition leaders, but excludes the far right. Netanyahu made a deal to freeze the judicial reforms “for the duration” in return for this “national unity”. And Netanyahu has told Israelis that the war will be a long one (for him personally, the longer the better).

For now, that national unity also goes beyond horse trading amongst the politicians. The now traditional Saturday night mass demonstration against the Netanyahu government’s planned judicial reform was called off immediately on 7 October. Some of its organising groups, who had previously refused the draft, called on their supporters to sign up for the coming war. War, as ever, has thus boosted the national consensus, leaving little or no room for dissenters on either side. For example, previously “moderate” radio talk show hosts like Ben Caspit have refused to watch videos of dead children in Gaza tweeting instead “They earned their hell honestly. I have not an ounce of sympathy”.(19) The atrocities committed by the nationalist fanatics on both sides lead to this kind of deranged mentality.

One place where a few brave Israelis have shown dissent in support of Palestinians is on the West Bank, mainly via the work of the NGO, Yesh Din (“There is Law”). They monitor illegal settlements there and incidents of violence against Palestinian villagers which have been increasing throughout 2023 and were clearly a factor in the Hamas attack. After a month of the Israeli assault on Gaza;

Israel’s Yesh Din rights group said Friday that there had been over 172 incidents of settler violence and harassment against Palestinians in at least 84 Palestinian towns and communities in the West Bank since Hamas’s savage and murderous assault on Israel on October 7, which sparked a war with the terror group.(20)

No one has even been questioned, let alone arrested, for these crimes. Teenagers from settlements can descend on Palestinian villages with sticks to knock the olives from their trees in order to destroy the villagers’ livelihoods. If the villagers try to stop them, either the settlers fire on them (Ben Gvir handed out 10,000 assault rifles to settlers in the days following 7 October), or the army moves in to arrest … the Palestinians, or members of Yesh Din. It is quite clear that the aim is, as ever, to make life unbearable for Palestinians on the West Bank. Adding that to the continuing destruction of Gaza a second or third Nakba is in the making. But to get a real perspective on what is happening we have to understand that the war for the Middle East is part of a much wider struggle.

Capitalism and Nationalism

Nationalism, and the nation-state, arose with capitalism when “the political revolution (of the bourgeoisie) overthrew … feudal power and turned state affairs into affairs of the people”.(21) With its slogan of “liberty, fraternity and equality” the bourgeoisie claimed to be the embodiment of the people, even if property ownership meant that some were “more equal than others”. Liberty meant freedom from feudal limits on trade and growth of production and “laissez-faire” became the doctrine of the rising entrepreneurial class. The state was no longer that of an absolute monarch to whom “subjects” owed their loyalty but it was also the embodiment of the “nation”. The concept of the “nation-state” was the perfect integument for capitalist accumulation.

Declarations that “all men are created equal” may have been empty rhetoric for African slaves or indigenous peoples, not to mention the new exploited class of the proletariat, but for Jews, who had been forced to migrate from one place to the next in the sixteen centuries since the failure of their last attempt to restore Jewish independence in Palestine in 137 AD, it sounded like a real step forward. Instead, many of the religious persecutions(22) and expulsions they had been subjected to were now supplanted by a new religious toleration. The emancipation of the Jews enabled them to own land, enter the civil service (although some had to change their religion to do so), and serve as officers in the national armed forces. This in itself aroused resentment amongst those who, in these new national states, considered they were, as they say nowadays, “taking our jobs”. Although the majority of Jews remained poor, sometimes only finding work in sweatshops owned by their co-religionists, these were obscured by the few who morphed from moneylenders (since the Catholic Church prohibited Christians from “usury”) to leading financial capitalists in Europe. This also aroused even more envy, so that when the world capitalist economy experienced its first real financial (as opposed to the many previous industrial crises) crisis (1866-73), the thin veneer of toleration came off.

Capitalist Imperialism

The two decades that followed the crisis of 1873 dramatically changed the nature of capitalism. The further concentration of capital had not only created a world economy, it took capitalism into a new stage of development. Individual firms now gave way to new joint stock companies and then cartels, whilst banking or finance capital began to dominate each state’s process of accumulation. Competition went from those between individual capitalists in the domestic market to that of competition between national state champions on the world market. “Laissez-faire” and free trade were amongst the victims, as defence of the national economy gradually led to trade wars via the increase in protective tariffs.(23) The state everywhere was drawn into defence of the national economy, and not just the national territory, which led to a new form of imperialism.

The leading capitalist states in this period were competing to secure for themselves the cheapest sources of raw materials, cheap labour and captive markets. Eventually this rivalry led to the carve up of the planet into colonies, which were not only intended to give a boost to each national economy, but also to deny such a territory to its rivals. In reality the “Scramble for Africa” and other such ventures turned out to be less profitable than their supporters thought (as the faux frais of colonialism was a rising military budget). No matter. The point was that our imperialists expected to make a profit one day.

This new economic impulse also had other superstructural effects leading to a change in the nature of nationalism. No longer was this the epoch of “equality” and “fraternity” (however much of a con that had been) but of the assertion of the need for the predominantly white states to civilise the world. The idea of racial superiority had never been far from capitalist discourse since the Enlightenment, but now it really started to make itself felt. From Kipling’s “taking up the White Man’s Burden” to the pseudo-scientific social Darwinism that lay behind it, national identity was forged more and more on the assertion of racial differences.

This was most marked in newly formed nation-states like Germany where forging national identity after unification gradually became synonymous for some with “racial purity”. It became easy to blame the “alien presence” of the Jews for any problem. It was in Germany too that the racial term “anti-semitism” was now popularised rather than the religious “anti-Judaism”.(24) Social Darwinists turned this into a struggle for existence between races, with Nordic Aryan Germans seen as the Übermensch. All this was bundled together in the anti-semitic and racist nonsense of Wagner’s son-in-law, Houston Stewart Chamberlain in the 1890s, but by then the new wave of anti-semitism was visible right across Europe.

In the Russian Empire, pogroms in Warsaw, Kherson and Kiev in 1881, following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II (wrongly blamed on Jews) opened up three decades of officially sanctioned murders of Jews. This led to mass emigration, sometimes to other parts of Europe, but mainly to the USA.

In the corrupt French Third Republic the anti-semitic background to the Dreyfus Affair brought another response. It convinced Theodore Herzl, a prominent Austrian journalist, himself agnostic and “assimilated”, to respond to this rising tide of anti-semitic nationalism with a Jewish nationalism: Zionism. In his book The Jewish State: An Attempt at a Modern Solution of the Jewish Question (1896) he called for Palestine to become a home for Jews. Zionism thus arose in the colonial period of mainly European imperialism; a period in which there was an assumption that the rest of the world was almost empty or that the inhabitants were so “backward” that they could either be ignored or simply colonised for their own good. Zionism was also marked by this characteristic. Herzl wrote that a Jewish homeland in the Middle East would also benefit European interests; "we should there form a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilisation as opposed to barbarism."(25) However, in its early years Zionism’s main appeal was to the most impoverished and persecuted Jews of Eastern Europe (sometimes in the form of “labour Zionism”). Had Zionism remained confined only to Central and Eastern Europe it would have struggled to make any headway.

By this time capitalist imperialist powers pretty much dominated the globe. It was a far cry from when Marx and Engels had earlier supported the formation of some (but not all) bourgeois nation-states. They had done so since they saw that the spread of capitalism in these independent states would lay the material basis for socialism by leading to the formation of a larger working class majority. However, by the end of the nineteenth century conditions had changed. Any new nation-state which did emerge would only be able to do so as a client of one or more of the imperialist competitors for world domination. The Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (whose most articulate advocate was Rosa Luxemburg) was the first to recognise this. Looking at the weakness of their “own” bourgeoisie they very quickly saw that it was so dependent on the world economy that it would always be subservient to one or other of the dominating powers. They thus concluded that the era of progressive bourgeois national struggles was over. Instead every national struggle would become a plaything in the imperialist strategy of the dominant powers. The working class no longer had an interest in supporting any national movement. Marx’s slogan from the Communist Manifesto that “workers have no country, you cannot take from them what they do not have”, had become fact.

Living in the Jewish diaspora of the capitalist world, the supporters of Zionism already had an insight that they would need the help of the Great Powers. Herzl had based his appeal on it without much success. When he died in 1904, the President of the English Zionist Federation, Chaim Weizmann, realised that the revival of Zionist hopes depended on the support of the largest empire on the planet. During the First World War, the British (and French) were already cheating Arab nationalists, by falsely promising them their own states in return for their help in the defeat of the Ottoman Empire.(26) Instead of a secret (and as the Arabs found out, worthless) promise, Weizmann lobbied to persuade the British Cabinet to make public their support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He did not have to lobby too hard. These British imperialists believed there were advantages in the long term to be gained from a Jewish state in the Middle East and, more immediately, were under the mistaken belief it would help bring the USA into the war against Germany (unaware it seems that US Jews were, on the whole, not keen Zionists). Issued in the name of the Foreign Secretary, the Balfour Declaration promised the impossible – a “national home for the Jewish people” where “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine ...”. In reality Balfour’s arrogant racist assumption was clear;

… Zionism, be it right or be it wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs. in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who inhabit that ancient land.(27)

However when the British took Jerusalem in 1917 it looked more likely that an Arab state would be formed in Palestine after the war. Even Weizmann, who headed a Zionist commission there straight after, was "surprised by how non-Jewish Jerusalem and Palestine had become"(28), and soon returned to Britain.

If Weizmann was disappointed in 1918, the Arabs called 1920 (when the terms of the Treaty of Sevres became known) âm an nakba (“year of catastrophe”). There was burning resentment against it across the Arab world when it was clear that the mandates (in reality, colonies) given to France and Britain meant that the Arabs had been cheated. In Palestine the arrival of the “distinctly Zionist”(29) Sir Herbert Samuel as British High Commissioner gave an early indication of how the Balfour Declaration would be implemented.

British imperialist rule in Palestine was characterised by gradual Jewish immigration, and divisions amongst the more powerful Palestinian families. Initially Jews largely bought land from absentee landlords or followers (and relatives) of the Mayor of Jerusalem, Raghib al-Nashashibi.(30) The fellahin (landless labourers, agricultural workers and peasants) were then evicted, mainly to the shanties surrounding Jaffa and Haifa. The Jewish migrants built a state within the state, with their economic organisation, the Histadrut (which was both a trade union and entrepreneur) and a paramilitary force, the Haganah. The latter was supposed to be secret but was tolerated by the British administration. Arab rage only increased when it became clear what Jewish immigration implied. When it dramatically increased(31) after the rise of the Nazis, violence broke out. An Arab general strike in 1936 did more harm to Arabs than the already self-sufficient Jewish community, but it forced the British to face up to the contradiction of the Balfour Declaration. The Peel Commission drew up the first plan for partition (the first “two-state solution”) in 1937. This proposed to give the Arab-majority Galilee to the Zionists, which only inflamed the conflict into an all out revolt which peaked in 1938.

The military defeat of the Arab Revolt in 1939 cost the lives of 5,000 Palestinians and left their leaders more divided than ever. Some like the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem came to recognise, as the Zionists had done earlier, that no national movement could win in the imperialist epoch without support of a major power and, with the British so clearly favouring the Zionists, solicited the aid of Nazi Germany. Hitler was ready to help(32) but his obsession with defeating the USSR first, meant that materially he had little to offer. The Grand Mufti fled to Berlin from where he broadcast Nazi propaganda to the Middle East. Not only did he back a loser here, but the Nazis’ greatest and most perverse contribution to the post-war Middle East was the Holocaust – the case for Zionism was enormously strengthened, to the point where the Arab population were all but ignored. The Zionist lie of “a land without people, for a people without land” played well in the West.(33)

However, this is to anticipate. The Arab Revolt had rattled the British so to try to buy calm, they flip flopped yet again. On the eve of the Second World War a new British white paper proposed restricting Jewish immigration to 75,000 over the next 5 years and to restrict or ban further land sales. The question of the ultimate status of an independent Palestine was put off to the post-war future.

The Zionists were outraged, but the winds of imperialism blew against the Palestinians in other ways during the Second World War. The British trained and armed Haganah elite units to attack the Vichy puppet regime in Syria, and the Zionists managed to establish their own munitions industry in Palestine. These factors gave the Zionist cause a military edge in the coming fight for land. At the same time British imperial decline was further manifest in its continuing contradictory policies on the ground. The British refusal to open its borders to Jewish migrants, even after the full horrors of the Holocaust – itself the perfect demonstration of where nationalist and racist fanaticism ends – only led to a terror campaign by the Irgun and Lehi after 1945. They blew up the King David Hotel, which housed the British administration, and murdered British soldiers and diplomats. As in India, where British policy of “divide and rule” between Muslims and Hindus led to communal riots and the division of the country, a bankrupt British Government decided to cut and run without worrying too much about the consequences. The Palestine mandate was handed over to the United Nations. At the same time, a new generation of Zionist leaders, made more determined by the experience of the Holocaust, and headed by David Ben Gurion, realised that they should now transfer their attention from the declining colonial powers to the new imperialism of the United States. President Truman, under pressure from the Zionist lobby in an election year, rewarded them by calling immediately for the admission of 100,000 Jews into Palestine, opening the final chapter in the catastrophe that was about to engulf Palestine.

National Liberation and Imperialist Domination

The 1947 United Nations partition plan demonstrated that not even the capitalists believed any more in the supposed “right of nations to self-determination”. Jews still only made up about a third of the population (and were in minority everywhere, except in a district of Jaffa) but were allocated 56% of the territory. This included the entire south where there were no Jewish people, but the Zionists had demanded it for access to the Red Sea. And standing behind them, then as now, was the United States.

In reality, neither Arabs nor Jews accepted the partition. The reasons for Arab rejection were obvious enough. For extreme Zionists, like the Irgun leader and future Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin, “the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital. Eretz Israel(34) will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for ever”.(35)

In fact, Begin was only articulating what has always been “project Israel” right down to today. Other Jewish leaders in 1948 were more coy about what they aimed for. They saw acceptance of the partition as just one more stepping stone towards the same aim. The crucial factor in 1948 was, not the clarity of the Zionist goal, but the fact that, as ever in the saga of national liberation struggles, it was who supported you that counted. Israel could count on the support of the two greatest powers to emerge victorious from the Second World. The wartime alliance of the USSR and USA had already collapsed, and the Cold War had already started (with the US announcement of its policy of “containing communism” in 1947). The USA had already stitched up an oil deal with Saudi Arabia(36) but saw Israel as a solid bridgehead of the West to defend its interests in a Middle East where other national states were now emerging and the future was unpredictable.

In the USSR, Stalin at first saw Zionism as an embodiment of a “national liberation movement” which would be “anti-imperialist” (i.e. would support the USSR). The Irgun had used weapons supplied by the USSR against the British and, in 1948, it was the first state to recognise the State of Israel, centred on Jerusalem (the USA hastily following suit). Even in 1953 the USSR was still supporting Israel against Egyptian attempts to close the Suez Canal to its ships. However, the USSR was soon forced to recognise that in economic terms it could not compete with the USA, which, once it found it could not establish an anti-Soviet alliance amongst the Arab states, was increasingly bankrolling Israel.

In the early years of the Cold War Israel could not have survived economically without the financial support coming from the USA (which accounted for something like 80% of its revenue). The Suez Affair of 1956 demonstrated that Israel still had to listen to the US government. When Egypt’s Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal, the old colonial powers, Britain and France, attempted to wrest back control by concocting a plan with Israel to invade Gaza and the Sinai. For the colonial powers the strategic value of the canal (through which much of the world’s oil flowed) was the motive, but the Israelis hoped to gain more territory and restore access to the port of Eilat. It put the USA in an awkward position, especially when the USSR (now under Khruschev) threatened to fire rockets at the invading force (there was even talk of nuclear weapons being used). Eisenhower was well aware that the US’ previous support for Israel had harmed its interests in the Middle East, and yet the cause of Israel was popular (then and now) amongst Americans (especially evangelical Christians).(37) He, however, put the wider imperialist interests of the US first, and sought to balance support for Israel with the search for allies in the wider Middle East. The invasion of the Suez had led to a run on the pound sterling so the British went to the International Monetary Fund for support. As it was largely controlled by the USA, Eisenhower refused to support the request and this forced Britain and France to capitulate. A UN ceasefire was organised and an isolated Israel was told to withdraw from Sinai.

A decade later and the situation had changed. The post-war boom was coming to an end, and the USA was embroiled in the Vietnam War whilst the influence of the USSR in the Arab world was rising. The USSR had already (via Czechoslovakia) been selling arms to Egypt in 1956 but the ties between Moscow and Cairo intensified. Nasser turned his back on the USA when they refused to finance the Aswan High Dam project (the US wisely doubted Egypt could pay for it) so the USSR stepped in. When Nasser forged a defence agreement with Israel’s Arab neighbours (Jordan, Syria and Iraq) in May 1967 it looked like Israel was facing a war on three fronts. On 5 June, Israel launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt, destroying its air force in two and half hours. It easily then dealt with the invasions from Syria and Jordan and the war was over in six days. It left Israel in possession of the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank of the Jordan, and Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. Six years later Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat, launched the Yom Kippur War which, via the Camp David Accords of 1978, restored the Sinai to Egypt and established the current territorial status quo.

From this point on the USA became the arbiter of what is laughably known as the “peace process” to the exclusion of all other powers. The USSR lacked the capital to counter US influence economically and exercised influence only by supplying weapons to any anti-US and anti-Israeli Arab government. The decline, and then collapse, of the USSR by 1991 forced the Palestinians to negotiate from a position of even greater weakness. With no counterweight to the USA to assist them, Yasser Arafat, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), was forced to conclude the Oslo Accords, in which the PLO for the first time recognised the State of Israel’s right to exist in return for only vague promises about a future Palestinian state. Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister had pulled off a master stroke which the Palestinian petty bourgeoisie, who are the natural constituency of the newly formed Hamas, rejected. But for the extreme Zionists even acknowledging the existence of the Palestinians was too much. Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish right wing religious zealot (of the kind now in the Israeli government) claiming to be acting on “the orders of God” in 1995.

Talk of a “peace process” was already hollow then, but everything that has happened since has only confirmed it as a sham. Article Thirteen of the Hamas Covenant explicitly rejects it: “initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement”.(38) Meanwhile, the Zionist project has never intended to share Eretz Israel with anyone as the current war has made all too clear. The carpet bombing of Gaza with its threat of ethnic cleansing has been justified by several Israeli leaders. From the start, the ex-boss of the Israeli National Security Council has welcomed an epidemic in Gaza as an aid to victory(39) and has argued that “creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieve the goal … Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist”. Current Israeli President Isaac Herzog justifies Israel’s collective punishment by claiming that “it’s an entire nation out there that is responsible. It’s not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved ...”(40), whilst the odious Netanyahu has turned to scripture for an analogy in the Jewish destruction of the city of Amalek:

… attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.(41)

If this is not the language of genocide then we really are in Wonderland.

On the Road to World War Three?

The above only confirms that what is going on in Gaza is not only different in scale, but is taking place in an international context that is far more dangerous than at any time since the Second World War. Two years ago we highlighted this in our article “Ukraine and Taiwan: Flashpoints in an Uncertain Imperialist World”.(42) Written a couple of months before the actual Russian invasion of Ukraine, it argued that the global capitalist system was entering a new phase where the problems of the global economy were reducing any possibility of negotiated settlements of any issue between the world’s leading powers.

Economically, half a century after the cycle of capital accumulation went into decline (aka the end of the “post-war boom”) the system has been kept afloat by a combination of the super-exploitation of the proletariat of the “Global South” (which is mainly in the global East), and state support for financial capital via deregulation and incentives to invest in the national territory. This has resulted in massive speculation which has been accompanied by cuts in wages, pensions and social services. Financialisation has created a world where the gap between the mega-rich minority and most of the rest of humanity has grown a lot faster than the GDP of any national economy. Such contradictions are bringing world capitalism closer to collapse. Even wealthy states like the USA, Japan and half of Europe are living on debt. Growth is painfully slow, profit rates are falling and the problems of valorising capital for productive investment are increasing. The so-called “BRICS” are doing no better, with China now faced by the same kind of crisis of financial speculation (mainly on housing as was the case in the US subprime bubble of 2007-8) as the “older” leading economies, whilst once rich countries, like Argentina, are in financial meltdown. Internationally speculation is increasing at uncontainable levels, and now stands at 13 times world GDP by volume. Meanwhile global debt in January 2023 “hit a record $300 trillion, or 349% leverage on gross domestic product”(43) and continues to increase. The system is now in visible decline.

The consequences are well-known. Wages as a share of GDP have been in decline for decades (since 1979 in the UK) and those jobs that are on offer are increasingly short term, inadequately paid and precarious. But even this hike in exploitation has not been enough to revive the accumulation process. Economic stagnation means that humanity is entering a vortex powered by many connected threads.

The global economic crisis is creating social meltdown in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia. This is fuelling waves of migration across the world to the already cash-strapped “richer” countries. Migrants arriving in countries with increasingly limited economic opportunities are perceived as a burden (unlike in the past when they were needed). The perception is that they put more pressure on housing, and the social services accessed by the poorest of the working class. It is a ripe brew of resentment which can be exploited by nationalist politicians. As we have shown here in Israel and Gaza, fear of the “other” is a powerful poison to administer to any population, and has been exploited by the ultra-nationalist right across the globe.

Add to this the environmental disaster that capitalist production at any cost has wrought on the planet and we have a world increasingly on fire in both the climatological and political senses. In the Sahel region, rising temperatures have brought about the slow creep of the Sahara desert ever further south for decades. This has brought pastoralists into conflict with tillers of the soil, a conflict exploited from Burkina Faso through Niger, Chad, Mali, the Central African Republic to Sudan by both imperialist powers, and the wannabe imperialist jihadists.

And these are not the only conflicts. The global economic crisis is driving more and more states to meltdown or turn to attacking their neighbours. The list is a long one but the most noticeable are in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria and Myanmar. In other places conflicts may be on hold (Serbia-Kosovo, Armenia-Azerbaijan, for example) but never end or simply morph from one atrocious episode to another. As in Israel-Palestine, the long arms of the major imperialist powers are never far away.

And as we have maintained for over two years, the global context has changed. The war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine shows that the crisis has now heightened imperialist rivalries to a level not seen really since before the Second World War. As in the war in Gaza, there is no possible compromise position and war, like the First and Second World Wars, is now a total one engulfing the entire society, silencing the voices of dissent whilst obliterating the economy and citizenry. The stakes are now too high. For Russia, NATO encirclement has proceeded inexorably since the collapse of the Soviet Union, whilst for the USA, the war in Ukraine has been very useful in bringing its lukewarm allies into line in the coming confrontation with their real global rival in China. In the run up to the Ukraine war, the USA had been gradually creating an informal alliance of the powers they had brought in economic sanctions against Iran, Russia and China. These were also acts of war which had the result of consolidating the cooperation between the three Eurasian powers. Today this also plays into the current crisis in the Middle East.

For the USA, Israeli policy in Gaza is a major problem, but having given the Israeli ruling class a blank cheque for six decades or more, they cannot now do a volte face. Given its ignominious retreat from Afghanistan in 2021, the US had to support its strongest ally in the Middle East. The US has thus now become a prisoner of its own client power. To avoid a wider conflict and deter others like Hezbollah and Iran from reacting to the attack on Gaza, the US immediately sent two of its eleven aircraft carrier fleets to the Eastern Mediterranean. It was also quick to send weaponry to Israel to support its attack on Gaza and, as ever, it has vetoed all attempts in the United Nations to bring about a ceasefire. However it is well aware that the longer the collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza, and the killing of so many children goes on, the greater likelihood it will spark a wider conflict across the region and beyond. Hence Biden and Blinken’s increasingly public calls for Israel to rein in the terror campaign. These calls have fallen on deaf ears with the consequence that the situation is deteriorating.

In Iraq, where the US has 2,500 troops to guard against a resurgence of ISIS, the pro-Iranian militia Kata’ib Hezbollah have already targeted their base in Erbil with drones, and the US have retaliated by bombing three of their bases.(44)

More dramatically, the Houthis – the de facto government of Yemen after nearly 10 years of civil war – have demanded an end to the massacre in Gaza, supported by Iran with the approval of Russia and China. Using drones, they have attacked shipping in order to blockade the entrance to the Red Sea and, therefore, access to the Suez Canal, through which 15% of the world’s oil and 20% of its foodstuffs and other goods pass. This is a direct challenge to the US domination of the world’s shipping lanes. The Houthis have thus forced the US to deploy yet another carrier fleet to the Red Sea in order to try to keep this vital route open. If it does not succeed then the global economy will be faced with another inflationary shock which will exacerbate social tensions in the West.

On Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the Iranian proxy Hezbollah, a far more formidable military force than Hamas, has so far been more circumspect in its support for the people of Gaza. This is not so much due to the presence of the US fleets off the Lebanese coast as the difficult economic situation in Lebanon itself. There have been exchanges of rocket and tank fire across the border and many Lebanese villagers in the South have had to flee yet again, but that is as far as it has gone. This is largely due to the extreme weakness of the Lebanese economy which is still suffering the effects of years of corruption and mismanagement which the massive explosion in the port of Beirut only exacerbated.(45) All the ruling factions have been discredited. Another Israeli invasion provoked by Hezbollah might be repelled, but only at enormous cost not only materially for the long-suffering Lebanese, but also politically for Hezbollah itself. In addition in 2022, the Lebanese government (of which Hezbollah is a part) signed an agreement with Israel for the joint exploitation of the offshore gas fields of Karish and Qana. Lebanon needs the gas and the revenue. This explains why the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has only given limited verbal support to Hamas, and has only asked Arab countries like Libya to cut Israel’s oil, but not gas, supply (in which Israel is not only self-sufficient but exports to Egypt and Tunisia). The interests of trade, it seems, come before the interests of solidarity, but that is just one of the many contradictions of imperialist policy.

The same contradictions are playing out in the war in Ukraine. The struggle for Ukraine may have its origins in strategic considerations but one of its consequences has been a shift in the energy trade. Europe’s seven decades of reliance on Russian gas cannot be replaced by the USA’s liquefied natural gas (if you can call gas from fracking “natural”) which is raising gas prices across the continent, and thus adding to inflation. In oil terms, with Nord Stream 1 blown up and Nord Stream 2 blocked, the majority of European countries have had to move towards other suppliers. US oil now accounts for 18% of Europe’s supplies, but, closer to home, supplies are increasing from North and Central Africa as well as Azerbaijan, in addition to increases from traditional suppliers like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Cheaper Russian oil has now increasingly gone to China and India as well as other countries in the global South (who also reject the sanctions regime of NATO and the West as illegal). Even Saudi Arabia has signed energy agreements with China, in defiance of its old alliance with the USA and was already demanding more concessions over its potential signing of the Abraham Accords before 7 October.

The repercussions of the current wars thus remain incredibly complex. The changed geography of the energy supply chain will have, and is having, enormous consequences for the whole world in terms of the threat to living standards, and environmental disaster due to climate change. And there is still further potential for conflict in the growing trade wars over the new technologies and the raw materials they require such as rare earths, and other minerals like cobalt. The unresolved issue of Taiwan, source of many of the world’s microchips, beckons as the next theatre of war – and this directly between the world’s economic super-powers, the US and China, who regularly test each other’s military readiness in the area.

While the international bourgeoisie write the script for an increasingly generalised imperialist conflict, which they all hope will revitalise their economy at the expense of their rivals, the consequences of the death agony of their system is suffered above all by the world’s workers. Over-exploited in times of peace, massacred in times of war, the working class alone offers the only path to the end of the nightmare. However, under the false flags of nationalism, millions of workers are currently killing each other in the name of interests that are not theirs. Only an international working class political organisation, independent of any support for imperialist powers, and their nationalist lackeys, can lead the way out of this capitalist black hole. As our sister organisation, Battaglia Comunista, wrote recently:

It’s time to reverse the terms of the question. If we have to die for something, it might as well be the interests of the proletariat and not those of the class enemy, of nationalism and the imperialist propensity for war. The international proletariat is a single class, with common interests, which are certainly not those of mutual annihilation. The only thing that we have to destroy is bourgeois society, and its capitalist structure, and the wars which represent its way of surviving its own contradictions by having armies of wage slaves fight them.
The time has come to break our chains. NO TO WAR, YES TO CLASS WAR. No to the barbarity of capitalism in crisis, yes to the social alternative that destroys the first link of that chain, the one that binds us to the perfidious, unequal relationship between capital and wage labour.(46)

Communist Workers’ Organisation
30 December 2023


Image: Wafa (CC BY-SA 3.0),

(1) Nafez Nazzal, The Palestinian Exodus from Galilee in 1948 (Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut 1978)

(2) A letter from November 1948 by a MAPAM soldier (Israeli social democratic party whose heirs later supported a two state solution). Both sources here quoted in David Gilmour, Dispossessed – the Ordeal of the Palestinians (Sphere Books, 1980), p. 68

(3) Lehi (in full “Lohamei Herut Israel Lehi”, Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) was a split from Irgun Zvai Leumi in 1940 to seek an alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, as it regarded Britain as the main obstacle to a Jewish state. After the Second World War ended it took on a pro-Stalinist direction identifying with the “National Bolshevism” of 1923 and aiming at a totalitarian state. Unsurprisingly, given this bizarre political history, it failed badly in the first Israeli elections. However one of its leaders, Yitzhak Shamir, became a Likud Prime Minister of Israel in 1983, in succession to the former Irgun terrorist, Menachim Begin. See S. Sofer. Zionism and the Foundations of Israeli Diplomacy (Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 253–254. Shamir’s defence of the murders his group undertook could be a perfect justification for the dispossessed terrorism of the Palestinians today. It can be found in Nicholas Bethell, The Palestine Triangle: The Struggle between British, Jews, and the Arabs, 1935–48 (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1979), p. 278.





(8) “Arab Barometer’s survey of the West Bank and Gaza, conducted in partnership with the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy, provides a snapshot of the views of ordinary citizens on the eve of the latest conflict.”

(9) Although in 2017 Hamas issued another Document of General Principles and Policies which includes the contradictory statement that:

Hamas believes that no part of the land of Palestine shall be compromised or conceded, irrespective of the causes, the circumstances and the pressures and no matter how long the occupation lasts. Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea. However, without compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and without relinquishing any Palestinian rights, Hamas considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of the 4th of June 1967, with the return of the refugees and the displaced to their homes from which they were expelled, to be a formula of national consensus.

The passages in bold highlighted by us.


(11) For an exploration of this tactic (including in Northern Ireland) see

(12) There have been no elections in Palestine territories since 2006 which allows IDF commanders to assert that 90% of Palestinians support Hamas to justify the collective punishment of the Palestinians. This poll like all previous polls show a surge in support for Hamas every time the Israelis carry out such actions, but even in these conditions, Hamas never achieve majority support. The most popular potential leader of the Palestinians is a Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti who has been serving several life terms in prison for 2 decades for his alleged role in Palestinian attacks during the first “intifada”. With 90% wanting the old, corrupt and pro-American president of the Palestinian Authority to go, it is not difficult to see why the Israelis have wanted to keep Barghouti out of circulation. Since we began this article a new poll after 2 months of Israeli bombardment suggest that 80% of Gazans now support the attack of 7 October – further confirmation of the thesis that one atrocity begets another.

(13) Amy Goodman,




(17) See, for example, the article by Yossi Melman in Ha’aretz on 21 May 2023 Netanyahu Boasts But Israel’s Latest Gaza Operation Changed Nothing.

(18) At least five other militias joined the attack on 7 October,



(21) K. Marx, On the Jewish Question in D.MacLellan (ed), Karl Marx: Selected Writings OUP, 1977 p.55)

(22) Although religion was often the cover for pure greed as in the massacre of York’s Jews in 1190. For a simple account see:

(23) For an expansion on the economic background see:

(24) By the journalist and politician Wilhelm Marr in 1879. The semitic languages all have Middle Eastern roots and include Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, and most ironically of all today, Arabic.

(25) Quoted in Maxime Rodinson Israel and the Arabs (Penguin, 1968) p.14

(26) The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1915 between the colonial powers Britain and France planned to divide up the Ottoman provinces after the war. The British had originally suggested that Jerusalem and the Holy places be administered by an international body but in the Treaty of Sevres (1920) which dismembered the Ottoman Empire they were “given a mandate” over the whole of Palestine plus Transjordan (and ruled in Iraq) whilst France received the mandates for Lebanon and Syria. The Agreement nearly fell apart when the Bolsheviks published its terms after the October Revolution in 1917. The British and French told Sherif Hussain of the Hejaz (who styled himself King of the Arabs) that the document was only a discarded draft.

(27) Quoted in Peter Mansfield A History of the Middle East (Second edition Penguin 2003) pp.164-5

(28) Mansfield p.164

(29) Rodinson p.26

(30) The rivalry between the two noble families of al-Nashashibi and the al-Husseini were to be major source of the weakness for Arab nationalism in Palestine. The Nashashibis were not only prepared to look for an accommodation with the British and the Zionists (to the point of accepting money from Weizmann’s Jewish Agency to turn a blind eye to illegal Jewish immigration) whilst the Husseinis were opposed to the British mandate and Jewish immigration. The British made one of their sons the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to buy their support, but after the failure of Arab Revolt (1936-9) he took himself off to Nazi Germany.

(31) Over 130,000 Jews arrived from Germany in 1933-5 alone. In 1930 the number had been 4-5,000. See Mansfield p.205, Gilmour, p. 51

(32) “The Arab Movement in the Middle East is our natural ally against England… I have decided therefore to encourage developments in the Middle East by supporting Iraq”. A. Bullock Hitler – A Study in Tyranny (Penguin 1962) p. 639. In fact, as Bullock points out, this statement was by way of an excuse to his Generals. Rommel and Raedal who had pointed out it would have been a lot easier and strategically more significant to attack the British in 1941 when they were weak and neither the USSR nor the USA had entered the war. Bullock calls it one of Hitler’s “supreme blunders”.

(33) In drafting this piece we recalled how teams of Israeli propagandists were allowed to tour British schools in the 1960s enticing older students to spend their summer holidays in kibbutzim as “socialist” pioneers of “making the desert bloom”. Until the Six Day War we had no idea the Palestinians existed. The propaganda teams were still touring in the 1990s but with the Israeli Labour Party no longer in power the message was stripped of the idealist appeal of the kibbutz.

(34) Eretz Israel translates as the “land of Israel” but it is a religious concept which has only the vaguest of geographic boundaries.

(35) Menachem Begin, The Revolt (W.H.Allen, 1951) p.335

(36) For details see Revolutionary Perspectives 5 (Third Series) Oil and the Shifting Sands of Imperialism,

(37) The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee is today one of the most powerful foreign affairs lobbying groups in Washington and financially supports politicians in both parties (although Republican politicians get the majority of its funding) but it takes second place as a donor for the Zionist lobby to the Christians United for Israel.



(40) Both quotes cited by Conor Gearty in “Short Cuts”, London Review of Books, 30 November 2023.

(41) Also quoted by Gearty but for a fuller and more chilling investigation see:

(42) See:



(45) See:

(46) Some Reflections on the War in Gaza and Beyond, Translation by the CWO. The last half dozen paragraphs of this article are based on this.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Revolutionary Perspectives

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