COMMENT : Palestine’s festering wounds — I — Lal Khan
It is the legacy of Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948, forcing more than half of the 1.6 million from their homes in what is now Israel into the tiny Gaza Strip
Gaza was yet again up in flames this week. The brutal aggression of the reactionary Israeli state, killing and maiming more than a hundred Palestinians including women and children, once again lays bare the draconian nature of the Zionist elite and the vicious role of this imperialist outpost in the Middle East. This has come nearly four years after Israel’s murderous “Cast Lead” assault on Gaza. Israel’s military launched another deadly attack, “Pillar of Cloud,” on November 14, 2012. Like Cast Lead, this operation took place just a few weeks before the Israeli elections scheduled for January 2013. Israeli governments have a longstanding political tradition of launching military attacks to divert their voters’ attention from the country’s social and economic troubles. This new assault on the besieged people of Gaza seems to be a part of that sinister strategy.
The imperialists are in fact giving tacit support to the aggression and tyranny being brazenly obtruded by Israel’s mighty military machine, financed, propped up and modernised by the west. Despite his feeble words, Obama effectively endorsed the Israeli position on this gruesome brutality. For years now, US financial, military and diplomatic support of Israel has been the central enabling force driving this endless conflict. The bombs Israel drops on Gaza, the planes they use to drop them, and the weapons they use to occupy the West Bank are paid for in substantial part by the US.
The international imperialist media is in a propaganda overdrive, cloaked with a hypocritical ‘impartiality’ treating the adversaries as ‘equals’ when there is in reality an extreme and blatant inequality of the forces of the Israeli military, armed with some of the most sophisticated and destructive weapons on earth, and the people in Gaza. The war on Gaza is not between two armed forces, evenly matched, each flying the flag of a country; it is a war between a major military power and a nation it has occupied. Imperialist hirelings are repeating clichés like “surgical air strike”, but let us not forget the Israeli ‘surgical air strikes’, which killed almost 17,000 civilians in Lebanon in 1982, the 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, in 2006, or the 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians, in Gaza in 2008-9. This horrific violence, which exposes the utter vulnerability of all those living as captives in Gaza, which is one of the most crowded and impoverished communities on the planet, is a frightful structure of human abuse that the international western imperialist colluders continue to turn their back on.
Ever since the creation of Israel in 1948, for the last 64 years, the whole region has been beset with instability, wars, terrorism, bloodshed, misery, poverty and disease. The oil wealth and other resources of the region, instead of being a source of prosperity, have become a curse for the oppressed masses. The crusades of imperialist plunder and robbery have wreaked havoc on the lives of the ordinary people. It is the legacy of Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948, forcing more than half of the 1.6 million from their homes in what is now Israel into the tiny Gaza Strip. That original wrong has been compounded by the occupation Israel has not only failed to end but has actually intensified in recent years with its relentless siege of the small strip of territory. Israeli rulers have been progressively choking the life out of Gaza, destroying its economy, periodically wrecking its infrastructure, denying its inhabitants freedom of movement and making its population’s daily life intolerable.
The first attempt to create a theocratic Jewish state in the Middle East was the Balfour Declaration, which actually was a letter written in November 1917 by the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community. On the other hand, there was another secret accord known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement concluded by a French diplomat, Francois Georges-Picot and a British official, Sir Mark Sykes in May 1916 to carve up the Arab world between the British and French imperialists after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. This agreement also incorporated the creation of a Zionist state. After the October revolution in Russia, the Bolsheviks exposed this conspiratorial accord by making public all the diplomatic secret documents, which greatly embarrassed the imperialists and dismayed the Arabs. These intrigues of divisions and hegemony were purely for the purposes of imperialist exploitation and control of the region’s resources, especially oil, in the post-war period. Ironically, the basis of the creation of the Israeli Zionist state was taken from Biblical myths thousands of years old with no authenticated historical proofs of the existence of such states. After the first Middle Eastern war in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Arabs were forced to flee from their homes and villages that were incorporated in this theocratic state created by a resolution of the United Nations. Those refugees still have no homes to go back to and wander in different areas of the Middle East and around the world.
There have been three wars and a relentless nightmare of incessant violence. The Palestinian resistance has been ongoing now for generations. Initially, the movement was dominated by left wing groups such as the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and others. In 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was created as an umbrella organisation to unite the diverse groups struggling for Palestinian liberation. Almost all these groups were left wing. The method they adopted to fight the Israeli brutalities and oppression was an armed struggle. It was based on narrow nationalism and it failed to broaden to link up with Arab and Israeli workers and masses to take on their corrupt and imperialist collaborator ruling classes to be overthrown. The failure to link national struggle with class struggle benefited the Israeli and Arab ruling classes and their imperialist backers. The Arab rulers, monarchs and despots also had their own vested interests to guard and they used the Palestinian question as an external threat to quell the domestic revolts of the youth and the toilers who were being subjugated and exploited by these regimes and systems. On the one hand, these kings, sheikhs and other reactionary rulers were crying hoarse at the plight and oppression of the Palestinians, while at the same time, especially the Saudi monarchs, Egyptian dictators and the reactionary sheikhs of the Gulf States, were the stooges of US imperialism, who was the biggest backer of the Israeli state. It is not an accident that the Arab countries were defeated by the Israeli army in the 1967 and 1973 wars. There is mounting evidence of the treachery and betrayals of these imperialist stooges.
(To be continued)
The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org