Against Israel, Against Palestine - For Class Struggle

No stronger an image of the essence of nationalism can be seen than in the endless parade of coffins of Palestinians draped in flags. Nationalism is poison in the veins of the working class. Nowhere is this clearer than in Israel today. A working class stands divided and helpless, torn between two hostile bourgeois camps. Though the Israeli side has the entire weight of US imperialist muscle behind it this does not make the camps of Islamism and Palestinian nationalism less an enemy of the Arab workers. National chauvinism and religion have been skillfully employed by the bourgeoisie in destroying the most basic elements of class-consciousness and internationalism among the workers.

The project of national liberation, the so-called "right of nations to self-determination" is the project of the bourgeoisie that was completed as the imperialist phase of capitalism began. Today ability of a national bourgeoisie to realize its project of national liberation hinges entirely in its capacity to mobilize backing and capital from a major imperialist power. This was clear from the very struggles that created Israel itself, with both sides of this bourgeois conflict actively seeking support from any power that is willing to listen. Both the Mufti of Jerusalem, al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, and the Haganah sought the aid of Fascist Italy and Germany, not to mention the actions of the Irgun against British imperialism on behalf of the imperialist powers of the Axis. What the British military governor of Jerusalem, Sir Ronald Storrs called "a little loyal Jewish Ulster" was always exactly that. Today Washington's loyal Jewish Ulster is in the grip of an intractable conflict far worse than anything seen in Northern Ireland.

The bourgeois project of national liberation succeeds only in so far as it is able to mobilize the proletariat. Marx and Engels supported national self-determination only in that it would sweep away pre-capitalist classes and create a modern proletariat capable of defeating the capitalist class. Lenin and the Bolsheviks supported it as a means of buying time for the young Soviet state until the outbreak of a world revolution that would break the Russian proletariat out of its isolation. This tactic failed as the revolutionary wave passed and was codified into a dogma by the counterrevolutionaries who took power under the banner of "socialism". Such dogmas, eternal principles are the codification of failures and defeats suffered by workers and their parties. National liberation today only serves as a means of expanding the influence of one imperialist power at the expense of another. No nation today can break free from the grip of imperialism as the sorry history of such movements clearly attests.

Some forces of capitalism's left-apparatus, those who pose as revolutionaries (Maoists, Stalinists, Trotskyists and official Anarchists), support the national liberation projects of the bourgeoisie as a way of appearing militant and opposing exploitation and oppression. They cannot support one national liberation movement without violating the other nation's "right to self-determination. This puts the left wing of capitalism into ideological contortions in order to justify their opportunistic and bourgeois solutions. The most transparent of the counterrevolutionaries claim that all national liberation movements are the absolute preconditions for world revolution. At their most deceptive they appear as being critical of the individual movements themselves while lending "critical support" or stating that a new type of national liberation movement independent of imperialism should be created to give "true" national self-determination. In Israel two competing nationalist entities are locked in a struggle to the death and neither fraction of the bourgeoisie has anything to offer workers except sacrifice and bloodshed.

Historically there no such thing as a "Palestinian" people, simply Arabs who lived in what was once a piece of the British mandate. As a nationalist ideology it grew more slowly and was economically weaker than the nationalism that formed the modern state of Israel. The Mufti of Jerusalem, as the representative of the Arab rulers in Palestine failed in courting Nazi patronage for an Arab state as German imperialism felt this would negatively impact its Vichy French allies' hold over the French mandate in what is now Lebanon and Syria. The Zionists succeeded in pulling together the support of any imperialist power willing to lend it any kind of assistance, no matter that this assistance came from the Axis powers, Stalin's USSR, Churchill's Britain or Roosevelt's US. Without sufficient capital and the backing of the most powerful imperialist entities, the Palestinian bourgeoisie formed as a ruling class without a country. Because the Israeli bourgeoisie had the capital and the support of the imperialist power of the US they were able to invent a country and lay claim to a former piece of the Ottoman Empire. World capitalism's "final solution" to the problem posed by Jews was first to propagate among them their own nationalism and finally give them their own nation. This nationalism was the perfect antidote for the capitalism killing disease of internationalism and independent class-consciousness. For British imperialism Israel represented a Jewish "Ulster" in the heart of the Arab world. For the US it represents an indispensable foothold in the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa.

As a state Israel was ever the creation and tool of the bourgeoisie as surely as the rise of the modern nation was tied to the rise of the capitalist class. If it can be said by Israel's national chauvinists that there are no Palestinians, only Arabs, it can equally be said that there are no Israelis, only a group of disparate people gathered together arbitrarily from the four corners of the earth and vaguely united on the basis of a divided religion. Even the official language of Modern Hebrew was a fabrication, a dredging up of a liturgical language that was subsequently filled in with borrowings from other languages like Arabic in order to modernize it. All of the bourgeois sharks, Jewish and Arab, moved in on the disputed territory of Palestine in order to create the facts on the ground that would make for a political order that would work in their favor. Workers have no country. Everywhere they will be subject. Everywhere the bourgeoisie will ruthlessly exploit them.

Conditions are so bad among the Palestinians that fifty-three percent of Palestinian women and children living in the West Bank and Gaza are currently suffering from malnutrition and anemia, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The poverty and oppression of Palestinians isn't going to change with the introduction of two states. This solution has always been the solution of the Stalinists. Israeli Stalinists have long supported this as it allows them to be good Israeli nationalists while supporting "self-determination" for the Palestinians at the same time, and most of the rest of capitalism's leftwing, peace activists, Trotskyists, Anarchists and other "libertarians" parrot this same line more or less openly. The PA was created to contain Palestinians and control them, a tool of one bourgeoisie putting another bourgeoisie in power in order to contain a desperate population. The "two state solution" would be little more than the extension of a political franchise to this set-up and would mean nothing more than the creation of reservations for Palestinians entirely dependent on Israel and the US for their existence. This will not improve the condition of those workers who are citizens of Israel in the least. The situation of all workers in Israel and the occupied territories is the result of a crisis that goes to the very heart of capitalism itself. They can only expect that the bourgeoisie will continue to ask them to sacrifice more and more.

The situation is so hopeless that Palestinian workers, once among those more inclined to Arab nationalism than Islamic religious reaction are now gravitating towards groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. As the US supported and fostered Muslim fundamentalism in Middle East and Central Asia, so Israel also supported the religious reactionaries of Hamas to counter the Arab Nationalists under the PLO umbrella. The sick irony of this is that the Israeli state actually supported an organization like Hamas that is virulently anti-Semitic. The one thing to which all parties responsible for this conflict agree is that the misery and exploitation of workers must continue, that the war must continue on forever.

Peace drips from the tongues of the capitalists as the blood drips from their hands. The pacifist camp has no solution; it can only call for a peace that will not happen while supporting a state that makes endless war. Pacifism supports the militarism of the Israeli government while issuing slogans and statements to pacify a population sick of war. Pacifism acts to politically neuter any working class opposition to the imperialist war. The political forces that most consistently promote capitalist "peace" are the most faithful allies of the warlords of capital. As the war rages everyone is calling for peace especially the capitalists who can only offer more war. Imperialism only succeeds in its ambitions insofar as it is able to mobilize proletarians and keep them silent, isolated and afraid.

An end to this conflict rests in the hands of the workers alone. As impossible as it seems the only way of stopping this is through the revolutionary defeatism of workers themselves. They can consciously choose to organize themselves, to stop following orders and to actively work against the Israeli state and the Palestinian Authority. Workers are capable of being more than just dogs on the capitalist leash. They are capable of being more than the eternally helpless victims of history.