Statement on Mideast Crisis

Xxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxx at xxxxxx.xx
Wed Oct 11 03:59:09 MDT 2000

> From the group Maavak Sozialisti (Socialist Struggle) in Israel
> which is a section of the Committee for a
> Workers' Interantional (CWI) to which Socialist Alternative also belongs:
>  The capitalists have failed to bring peace. Only a united working class
> can bring genuine peace!
>  The provocative visit of the right-wing leader of the Likud party,
> Ariel Sharon, to Jerusalem's Temple Mount, sparked off the current
> uprising in Palestine and in Israel. Sharon's visit occurred only two
> weeks after the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre in
> Lebanon, for which he was responsible. This is without doubt the
> bloodiest uprising seen in the region in years. At the time of writing,
> more than 60 Palestinians have been killed on both sides of the Green
> Line, plus a number of Israeli soldiers, with more than 1000 people
> injured. The uprising has escalated beyond anything seen during the
> Intifada years, in terms of the number of Palestinian deaths, the
> Israeli army's use of helicopter gun ships and anti-tank missiles, the
> exchange of live fire between the Israeli army and the Palestinian
> police, and the fact that this time the protests spread over into Israel
> proper. Palestinian demonstrators within Israel blocked main roads in
> the heart of the country for many hours, to which the notorious border
> police responded by firing on demonstrators with live ammunition.
>  In embarking on a popular struggle, the Palestinian masses rediscovered
> their potential power, and will not be quick to compromise it in the
> interests of their politicians, who haven't delivered the goods up till
> now. With this return to the mass struggle, attempts to revive Oslo seem
> impossible. In its present form, the uprising could achieve a
> Palestinian state or nominal independence in virtually the whole of the
> West Bank and Gaza, also without the Oslo agreements. But such an
> independence, without overthrowing Arafat's rotten capitalist regime,
> will not release the Palestinians from the political and economic
> oppression of their own capitalists and from continued economic
> exploitation by Israeli capitalism, and therefore will not amount to
> genuine independence. An 'independent' capitalist state will not fulfill
> Palestinian hopes to genuine freedom from oppression, and the
> elimination of poverty, unemployment and exploitation, hopes that are
> the main component of their struggle for genuine independence.
>                           What caused the uprising?
>  Sharon's visit was simply the match that lit the fire. Many
> Palestinians feel deep anger and frustration at the agonizingly slow
> pace of the peace process. They have repeatedly suffered humiliation
> from Arafat's concessions, the willingness of the Palestinian leadership
> to play the part of a puppet regime that carries out the dirty work of
> the Israeli ruling class, and the continued presence of the Israeli army
> in most of the West Bank ? all this after 7 years of peace negotiations.
> The Israeli army still controls parts of the Gaza strip, Hebron and
> Bethlehem, and the Israeli army still fires at unarmed civilians. No
> less important, since the beginning of the Oslo peace process in 1993,
> the standard of living for the Palestinian working class in the West
> Bank and Gaza has plummeted. The Palestinian masses watch the leadership
> of the Palestinian Authority fill their pockets with 'peace dividends' ?
> perks, bribes and corruption ? while unemployment and poverty among the
> masses deepens. They see the way the Palestinian Authority has developed
> into an oppressive, dictatorial regime, with press censorship, a regime
> where journalists, human rights workers and strike leaders are arrested
> and thrown in jail without trial, with the agreement and backing of
> Israel and the US.
>  Within Israel the uprising has erupted within towns and villages such
> as Fureidis, which have no prior history of conflict. The provocation at
> Al Aqsa and the pictures of an innocent child, Mohamed Al Duri, who was
> killed by Israeli soldiers at Netzarim, sparked mass demonstrations by
> Palestinians living within Israel, in solidarity with their brothers on
> the other side of the Green Line.
> But as in the Territories and Gaza, in Israel too there were deeper
> reasons for the uprising. The hopes of Palestinians within Israel that
> the peace process would lead to them being treated as equal citizens,
> have been dashed. In addition to continuing to suffer discrimination as
> second class citizens, they have borne the brunt of the 4-year economic
> recession, and the recovery of the past year has passed them by
> completely. The 12 towns at the top of the unemployment list in Israel
> are all Palestinian, with official unemployment figures of 20% in some
> towns (the real figures are 35-40%). Local authorities, starved of cash,
> have been unable to pay their  employees for months, and in some cases
> council workers have been sacked wholesale. After 95% of Palestinians
> within Israel voted for Barak, they discovered that, as far as Barak's
> government is concerned, they don't exist. The brutal police repression
> of the demonstrations using rubber coated bullets and live ammunition,
> that killed ten people and wounded many others, only added fuel to the
> fire. The power of the uprising is unprecedented, with the police and
> border police being forced to withdraw their forces from areas where
> they had previously used brutal methods of repression.
> The Israeli government called on Arafat and the Arab Members of Knesset
> to calm the situation, assuming that they were leading and in control of
> the situation. But the uprising, while perhaps responding to calls from
> above, was fuelled by the enormous anger of the Palestinian masses,
> which has been building up below the surface. The Palestinian Authority
> and Arab Members of Knesset didn't lead the struggle. They jumped on the
> bandwagon and tried to use the movement in order to divert the criticism
> away from themselves and allow the Palestinian masses to let off steam.
> The extent to which the Palestinian Authority and Arab Members of
> Knesset are capable of controlling the situation is highly questionable.
>  The uprising may have been lit by a religious spark, and the slogans
> and perceived enemy may be nationalistic and religious, but the root
> cause of the problems and frustration (poverty and national oppression)
> is the capitalist system. In the absence of a movement to explain the
> true cause and way to fight, the movement takes on a religious,
> nationalist colour, because of those forces on the ground.
>                           Capitalism has no answer
> The present uprising proves the inability of capitalism to solve any of
> the fundamental problems of the national question, such as poverty,
> unemployment and the refugee problem. The capitalist, Oslo peace process
> was designed to serve the interests of capitalism and imperialism in
> Israel, Palestine and the USA, who are interested in stability in order
> to exploit the human and natural resources of the region for the good of
> the capitalists and big business. The so-called 'peace dividends'
> consist of the right of Israeli capitalists to exploit cheap, Arab
> labour, leading to the closure of plants in Israel, and increased
> unemployment for Israelis, and the right of Palestinian capitalists to
> make fat profits out of monopolies in Palestine, such as the cement
> industry and tourism. The leaders on both sides do not represent the
> interests of Israeli and Palestinian workers and youth - who want decent
> jobs, housing, health care, security and freedom of movement ? but the
> interests of these capitalists.
> In fact, there is a complete rift between the peace negotiations and
> deals at the top, and the increased hostility between ordinary Jews and
> Palestinians, living in mixed towns such as Ramle, where increased
> poverty and unemployment, and the feeling that the peace process offers
> no solutions, has exacerbated national tensions.
> Because the Oslo peace process is unable to bring freedom, security and
> genuine gains to the masses of the region, it can only create
> 'stability' through brutal repression.
>  Under capitalism, we are likely to see a series of renewed conflicts,
> leading eventually to full-scale war.
>                           The way forward
>  The only people really capable of bringing genuine peace to the region
> are the Israeli and Palestinian masses. The current uprising in
> Palestine and in the Palestinian towns within Israel shows an enormous
> anger and determination to struggle. Tragically, this movement lacks a
> leadership with a clear programme, strategy and a set of demands, able
> to link up with Israeli workers based on a class appeal, and channel
> this energy and sacrifice into positive gains. The lack of such a
> leadership means that the uprising has led to some actions that serve no
> purpose, and are even counter-productive ? In Israel, Palestinian
> demonstrators threw stones at buses that carried Jewish workers. These
> kinds of actions, instead of uniting Jewish and Palestinian workers
> against their true enemies who are responsible for all the problems ?
> the capitalist class and the capitalist system ? only deepen the
> divisions between the two sides of the working class.
> A genuine, grass-roots socialist leadership in the West Bank and Gaza
> could demand the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian areas,
> the overthrow of Arafat's corrupt regime and the establishment of an
> independent, socialist Palestine. Instead of fanning national and
> religious hatred, such a leadership could explain who the real enemy is
> ? the capitalist class that rules on both sides, and the corrupt
> politicians that serve them. At the same time, a class socialist
> leadership of Israeli Palestinians could make an appeal to Jewish
> workers to struggle  together with them in order to overthrow the hated
> Barak government, and for the overthrow of the corrupt capitalist
> system, to be replaced with a socialist workers government, that would
> serve the real interests of the Jewish and Arab masses.
>  This could be achieved because in Israel the capitalists and their
> servants in government continually attack Israeli workers and youth by
> means of privatization, unemployment and attacks on wages and work
> conditions, and the dismantling of the welfare state. The violence with
> which the police repressed the students strike two years ago and the
> hired thugs that were hired by the management of 'Yedioth Aharonoth'
> newspaper in order to break the bones of print workers who were trying
> to defend their jobs, are signs of what is to come. The capitalists will
> not think twice before attacking Israeli workers using the same violent
> methods that are  reserved today for the Palestinians, if their profits
> and regime are threatened. Indeed, the Israeli capitalist class has no
> qualms about using working class, Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips,
> placing them in outposts that have no security value, such as Netzarim
> (and until the last victim there, also Joseph's tomb), in order to raise
> the stakes in peace negotiations.
>                           The only genuine peace is a socialist peace
>  In a socialist society, were the region's vast resources would be under
> the democratic control of the masses and would be planned and used for
> the good of all, instead of for the profits of a handful of millionaires
> ? it would be possible to use those resources in order to solve the
> basic problems that have fuelled the dispute until today. An end to
> oppression and exploitation and the rising of living standards of the
> masses by way of massive investment in cheap, quality public housing, in
> health care, education and the creation of new jobs under good
> conditions would take away from the national struggle most of its power.
> This would make it far easier for democratically elected committees of
> Jewish and Palestinian workers and youth to negotiate issues between
> them and come to agreement on the ground also on issues that are
> impossible to solve under capitalism, such as settlements, refugees and
> water. This is the only way to bring a stable peace for generations in
> the Middle East; a peace based on the welfare of the masses and not on
> the profits of the exploiters.
> For the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza, Hebron and
> Bethlehem.
> Against all military and police repression of the right to demonstrate,
> and against fire  on demonstrators.
> For the dismissal of racist police chiefs and generals, and the
> dismantling of the border police.
> For community policing in the Arab and Jewish cities, towns and
> villages, under democratic control of local communities.
> For an end to the use of Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips by the
> Israeli government and army generals.
> For the democratic control by the masses of their struggle, through the
> establishment of popular, grass-roots committees, that will provide the
> basis for a genuine workers leadership.
> For a struggle of Palestinian workers and youth (In Gaza and the West
> Bank) against their double political and economic oppression by Israeli
> and Palestinian capitalism, and for raising their standards of living.
> For a parallel struggle of Israeli workers and youth to achieve massive
> investment in infrastructure, job creation, health, housing and
> education in both the Israeli and Palestinian towns and villages.
> No trust in the peace process of Barak and Arafat, that represents the
> bosses and not the workers. For a struggle of workers to overthrow the
> capitalist regime in Israel and in Palestine and for the achievement of
> a stable, workers peace, by workers, to meet their joint interests.
>  For a socialist Israel alongside an independent, socialist Palestine,
> as a step towards a socialist federation of the Middle East, with
> participation on a free and equal basis.

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