Israelis and Palestinians in the bloody trap created by imperialism

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
October 9, 2023

The Middle East today is a living hell, like so much of this world dominated by the imperialist bourgeoisie. After Iraq and Syria, war is once again engulfing Israel and Gaza, threatening the whole region with a new conflagration.

This situation stems from the maneuvers of imperialist powers in the 20th century, when they carved up the world by drawing borders to guarantee their hegemony. The Middle East, with its immense oil reserves, was at the heart of their search for profit!

This is how Palestinians and Jewish immigrants found themselves in the middle of a battlefield. The former lived under British rule, which was already being challenged by American power. As for the latter, they arrived in the region as survivors of anti-Semitic pogroms or extermination camps.

There was room for both peoples. But the so-called protectors of the region did nothing to encourage this coexistence. On the contrary, they played one people off against the other, to secure their influence.

In 1948, the United States supported the creation of Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians were driven out en masse, and transformed into lifelong refugees in overcrowded camps or second-class citizens in Israel. The Israelis became the guardians of that prison.

The Palestinians have been dispossessed of their land, expelled from their homes and locked up, notably in the open-air prison of Gaza. The two million Gazans are collectively punished by a blockade that imposes unspeakable living conditions, and the buildings are bombed every now and then by the Israeli army. This policy has a name: state terrorism.

On both sides, nationalist policies have helped bring the most extremist parties to power. In Israel, Netanyahu now governs with religious and racist ultra-nationalists. His government has intensified the colonization of the West Bank, worsened apartheid measures and encouraged far-right militias to terrorize Palestinians.

Hamas has opposed this state terror with a policy that is leading the Palestinians into a dead end. It not only shows contempt for the lives of Israeli civilians, but also for the lives of its own people, the Palestinians of Gaza, who are once again subjected to nightmarish bombardments. The Palestinians have no choice, as Hamas' power is exercised like a dictatorship.

If Hamas has rallied many Palestinians under its flag, it's because it's the only organisation offering a way out for the deep revolt of Palestinian youth. But Hamas's policies, like Netanyahu's, only serve to widen the bloody gulf between the two peoples. These 75 years of nationalist policies on both sides, whether in moderate or extreme versions, have led to the terrifying situation we are witnessing today. They demonstrate that a people that dominates another cannot live in security, nor be a free people.

What is tragic is that the worst nationalists are encouraged by the climate of war created by the war in Ukraine and the bellicose rhetoric of the leaders of the great imperialist powers. This is true in Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh and Kosovo, where Albanians and Serbs are fighting one another.

Against these catastrophic developments, we need to affirm that different peoples, speaking different languages and with different customs or religions, can live perfectly well side by side.They often did so in past centuries.To achieve this, we need to fight the current rulers of society, first and foremost the imperialist bourgeoisie, who set peoples against each other.

Divide and conquer is the basis of the bourgeoisie’s policy of domination. We must refuse to follow that path! Peoples and workers have no interest in such divisions. They all share the same aspiration to live in peace. They need to find a common ground. And that common ground lies in the fact that they all share a life of toil, a life of exploitation. Our leaders bring us together in exploitation, let's not let them divide us!

Everywhere, including in France, there are workers at odds with those who govern them. To equate the Palestinian people with the policies of Hamas, or to identify Israelis with the policies of Netanyahu and the settlers, is as stupid as identifying the French with Macron.

In Israel, Palestinian and Israeli workers often work together. They need to realise that they share the same fundamental interests. Only this class fraternity can create the momentum to overcome the hatred produced by decades of confrontation.

Nathalie Arthaud