the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
Detroit Public Meeting on January 21, 2024.
Hello, and once again, thank you.
It’s a little bit of extra thank you today for braving the cold as well as leaving our boob tubes.
On October 7th, 2023, Hamas, a dictatorial power in Gaza, organized its military wing to carry out atrocities in Israel.
A total of 1,139 people were reported murdered.
The majority of those killed were Israeli citizens and immigrant workers.
The attack was horrific.
The Israeli army quickly began their counterattack.
First they sent missiles and bombs, then they sent troops.
The Israeli defense forces began massacring Palestinian civilians, men, women, children, elderly, the sick.
They did this morning and night.
The latest death toll in Palestine has been over 24,000 people, with over among half of those dead were children.
Even before the current war in Gaza, the vast majority of Palestinian people have been living in refugee camps or as second class citizens in the West Bank.
This situation has been going on for over 75 years.
On the map, you’ll see Gaza, little Gaza, and you’ll see the little bitty piece of the West Bank.
Now don’t be confused.
Palestinians do not have control of these areas.
These are areas just where they are allowed to live.
The West Bank is divided into three areas of control, Palestinian only, joint control, and Israeli control, in theory.
And Gaza is under complete full control by Palestinians since 2005.
We wanted to include this next map to show the concentration of people in Gaza and to also show why Gaza has often been referred to as a jail.
High risk, no go zones.
Here’s a closer look at what the zones actually look like.
They resemble what we would see in a maximum security prison here in the United States.
Over two million Palestinians have been living in the Gaza Strip.
To get a better understanding of the size of Gaza, it is basically equal in square size to the city of Detroit.
The people of Gaza, half of them children, depend on United Nations food rations to live.
An average of 455 trucks of food, medicine, and commercial goods were delivered every day to Gaza by the United Nations.
But that was before October 7th.
Now because of the war, only 5% of what people need to live is being allowed to be delivered by truck to Gaza.
That is why top officials of the United Nations say famine is about to happen in Gaza.
More like is happening in Gaza.
Israel and the United States government blame the current situation on Hamas.
So let’s talk about Hamas.
What is the difference between Gaza and Hamas?
Right before the attacks on October 6th, an American professor surveyed people in Gaza.
She found that two thirds of people in Gaza had no or little faith or little trust in Hamas.
It came out in the survey that Hamas was seen by ordinary people as incredibly corrupt.
In Gaza, Hamas functioned as a fundamentalist dictatorship.
As strange as this may sound, the truth is that prior to October 7th, the government of Israel gave its blessing to Qatar to provide Hamas with money.
According to CNN, starting in 2018, Qatar sent some $15 million into Gaza each monthm in cash filled suitcases.
Qatar delivered money through Israeli territories.
Hamas was supposed to use this money to be the police force in Gaza.
Outside of Gaza, Palestinians live in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
Palestinians as non-Jews are treated as second class citizens.
The Human Rights Watch calls this situation Israeli apartheid.
It is called apartheid because it is similar to the oppression black people experienced in South Africa before freedom movement began there.
Also how Palestinians are treated is similar to the segregation in the deep South during Jim Crow prior to the civil rights movement here.
The Palestinian population has time after time fought against oppression.
There have been many protests and major uprisings in 1987, in 2000, in 2008, in 2012, in 2015, and in 2021.
Each of these uprising ended with many Palestinians being killed at a rate of 10 to 15 to 100 times higher than the Israeli soldiers and civilians.
And yet they kept resisting.
During events in 2021, Palestinians across Israel and occupied territories united in a rare successful one day strike, general strike, called by local Palestinian leaders in East Jerusalem.
Workers, all but healthcare professionals, stayed home.
Out of 65,000 Palestinian construction workers, only 150 went to work.
So what is the origin story for today’s war on the people in Gaza?
In fact, the situation today is a creation completely of the biggest, wealthiest countries, imperialist countries, starting over 100 years ago.
Great Britain wanted control of the area.
The lie that working people in the United States are told all about this area in the Middle East is that they’ve been at each other’s throats for thousands of years.
The lie that is repeated on the news.
Look at what a former US government official said on Fox News in 2021.
The Middle East, quote, “The Middle East, they’ve been fighting for 4,000 years. It’s been an ethosocratic battle and psychodrama. They’ve been killing each other for millennia. Their normal state of condition is war, and peace is when they pause, regroup, and fight
We were talking about a region that is known as the cradle of civilization, with rich and dynamic history that most people in the United States have no idea about.
The real history of the Middle East is years of years of coexistence with those of different colors and religious beliefs.
We hope that by the end of this talk, you will see what an enormous and impactful lie we have been fed.
So we’re going to take some time and go back a little in history of what happened around World War I to explain the hidden history of how we got where we are.
By the early 1900s, big Western European powers like Great Britain and France, as well as the United States and Japan, were feeling the need to expand economically, to invest in other parts of the world with their overflowing profits from their exploiting their own working class.
These wealthy countries divided up and made colonies out of big parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
The top imperialist of the day, Britain, was first to target the Middle East.
It was a very important prize.
Oil had been discovered in 1908.
It was not just because of the oil of the Middle East that was the prize, because also in the Middle East sits the intersection of three continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
It has strategic importance for both trade and military.
The Suez Canal and the Red Sea are routes in which Asia’s production is transported to the rest of the world and Europe’s production to Asia.
Before World War I, most of the Middle East was under the control of the old Ottoman Empire, centered in Turkey.
This empire had existed for over 600 years.
Even though it was a dictatorship, diverse people were able to coexist.
During World War I, Great Britain needed the help of the Arab people to win this war.
Now, there’s an old Hollywood movie called Lawrence of Arabia that tells part of the story.
Now, British had promised independence to the Arab people in exchange for backing Britain.
They did this because Britain needed their help to bring down the Ottoman Empire and bring down Germany, allies of the Ottoman Empire.
However, the exact same land promised to the Arab people for siding with Britain in the Great World War I was the same time being promised to others.
Great Britain, France, and the Tsar’s government in Russia drew lines on a map on how these three countries were able to control these lands after the war.
In the words of one researcher, “Imagine if the French had promised America that they would help us fight Britain in the Revolutionary War, only to march into America themselves
and take over after the war.”
There is still a lot of bitterness in the Arab world of this betrayal.
This dividing up of the Middle East was the so-called Sykes-Picot Agreement, named after the British diplomat and the French diplomat who drew the lines that divided the Middle East.
Almost every schoolchild in the Arab world knows of the betrayal of this agreement.
Few of us in the rest of the world know about this very important turning point.
To plant seeds of even more conflict, a third group was promised land in the Middle East after World War I.
A British official, Lord Balfour, hinted in a letter that Britain would support Jewish people in setting up a nation state within the borders of Palestine.
This was called the Balfour Declaration, named after the British lord who drew up that agreement.
The British were very busy making all kinds of promises towards the end of World War I that they did not intend to keep.
Information about these secretly promised agreements to three different groups became public in 1917.
That’s when the working class became to power after the Russian Revolution.
The New Workers’ Government in Russia published to the whole world to see all of the secret treaties and agreements.
After World War I, the victors, British and French governments, divided control of the Middle East among themselves.
France took control of what was today called Syria and Lebanon.
Britain took control of what’s covered today as Iraq, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt.
These borders were intentionally divided by imperialist class to create conflict.
They set groups of people against each other to allow easier control from the outside.
Now to get back to the Balfour Agreement, land was promised to the Jewish people who called themselves Zionists.
What is Zionism?
Zionism is a national political orientation whose original aim was the creation and consolidation of a Jewish state.
Zionism emerged at the end of the 19th century as Jewish people sought to free anti-Semitism.
In Eastern and Central Europe, where old feudal economy was in ruins, and in Western Europe, where capitalism was producing mass unemployment, there was horrible economic distress for ordinary
The rulers of these countries used anti-Semitic racist lies to try to divert anger from themselves onto the Jewish people.
The rulers blamed economic problems on Jewish shopkeepers, craftsmen, and pawnbrokers.
The rulers organized terrorist murder campaigns called programs.
At the end, Zionism as a national movement was not very popular among European Jews.
In fact, it was argued against by Jewish people who were some of the most important activists of the Workers’ Revolutionary Movement.
They had chosen internationalism rather than nationalism.
Revolutionaries understood that in order to defeat anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, once and for all, it was necessary to put an end to organizing a society based on exploitation.
They denounced Zionists’ dead-end and retreating into nationalism.
Zionism as a national current was also faced with the problem in which territory to claim.
The Middle East was not the obvious choice at the beginning.
In a world entirely conquered and shared by the various imperialist powers, no land was available.
For the Jewish people to install themselves anywhere required consent from the rulers in England, France, or the United States.
From the start, once Zionism positioned itself to seek protection from Britain and imperialist power, this Jewish nationalist movement made itself a servant to the British colonial power, and imperialism was happy to use Zionism against the local Arab population.
And the second half is going to be conducted by Kathy.
I’m going to talk about the World War II time period and how it brought us to where we are today.
But first I want to mention that because of anti-Semitism, at one point, about 2 million Jewish people came to the United States from Europe.
This happened before World War I, between 1880 and 1914.
But during this same time, only 120,000 Jewish people, very few, chose to go to the Middle East and to Palestine and settle in the Middle East.
So before World War II, the overwhelming majority of Jewish people were not thinking about the Middle East and Palestine as some place they wanted to go.
But when the Nazi party came to power in Germany in 1933, and when 6 million Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust, the barbarism that Jewish survivors had experienced pushed them to join the Zionist organizations that existed at that time.
Millions of Jewish people who survived the Holocaust were homeless.
They needed somewhere to live and find work.
They ended up in Palestine.
How did that happen?
It was primarily because the rich countries like the United States would not allow poor Holocaust survivors to come to the United States.
If you listen to U.S. politicians today who attack immigrants, it helps you understand how doors were slammed shut back then on Holocaust survivors.
In both cases, today and back then, you are looking at desperate people who need to flee to be able to live.
After World War II, the governments of the wealthiest countries in the world proposed to push Jewish people out of the ghettos of Europe and into the deserts of the Middle East.
Yet there was a huge problem with creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Palestine was not a land without people as the slogan pretended.
At that time, at least a million Palestinian people were living there with their roots going back centuries.
It might have been possible at the end of World War II to find a peaceful solution to unify Jewish and Palestinian people.
In November of 1947, the United Nations called for Palestine to become two separate states.
At that time, only 30% of the population was Jewish.
Only 6% of the land was Jewish owned.
The possibility existed for the two peoples to start a common struggle for a better life.
Hundreds of thousands of Jewish men and women were coming to this land.
Among them were many who had socialist and egalitarian ideas.
This could have been a major support for the people in the region already who were already fighting, already trying to liberate themselves from their oppressors.
Those fleeing the Holocaust would have had to be organized and they would have had to have the courage to propose to resist the wealthy reactionary families who had been put in charge in the area in service of multinational oil companies.
In the end, after World War II, the wealthiest countries in the world all came to support the establishment of a single Jewish state.
One where anyone who can prove they have Jewish ancestry is automatically a citizen.
One where you cannot be a citizen if you already live there and you are not Jewish.
A state like that could be used to defend the interests of the wealthy against the Arab peoples in this oil rich region.
The wealthiest countries in the world poured in money, tanks, planes, artillery in support of the most far right Zionists whose goal was to create a clear Jewish majority in Palestine.
War broke out against the native Arab peoples.
The new country of Israel got its start by using terrorism aimed at driving the Palestinian people off their land.
A heavily armed 50,000 person Zionist paramilitary group set out against the Palestinians.
Palestinians were forbidden under penalty of death to own a weapon ever since their anti-colonial strike wave and uprising against British rule in 1936.
So Palestinians had few weapons.
Funded by the wealthiest countries in the world, the Zionists now did to the Palestinians what had been done to the Jewish people.
Massacre followed massacre.
Pictures of the massacres were put up in Palestinian villages to frighten people into leaving, into fleeing.
By May 15, 1948, when Israel’s independence was declared, over 300,000 Palestinians had been driven from their homes into exile.
By the year’s end, that number climbed to 750,000.
Four hundred Palestinian villages, think about that, four hundred towns and small cities were wiped off the map.
In many areas, the repopulation by Jewish people took only a few months.
Nowadays, this kind of wiping out and repopulating is called ethnic cleansing.
By the end of 1948, Zionist troops occupied 80% of Palestine.
The other 20% was taken in 1967 when the Israeli military invaded Gaza and the West Bank.
So Israel was built by terrorism.
In this way, a wall of hate was brought up between two oppressed people.
Troops from Arab countries attacked the new state of Israel.
There was no, they were no match for the better armed and financed Israeli army with military supplies coming from the United States.
The new Israeli state refused to allow most Arab refugees to return to their lands.
Thus, while Jewish refugees from Europe were pouring into Israel, a new population of Palestinian refugees was pouring into camps in the surrounding Arab countries, suffering from terrible poverty and misery.
The United States, which already controlled several reactionary Arab regimes in the region, starting with Saudi Arabia, made the reactionary state of Israel its preferred and best funded ally.
Up until the war in Ukraine, Israel was getting half of all US military aid.
Israel paid for this privilege with near total dependence, economic, political, and military dependence on the United States.
After World War II ended, Arabic peoples waged anti-colonial struggles.
The setting up of the state of Israel redirected anti-colonial struggles in Arab countries against Jewish settlers.
This redirecting of anger was very useful for imperialism.
As for the Jewish population, Israel was far from the refuge they wanted and sought.
The Jewish people who settled there were surrounded by a hostile Arab world.
They were forced to sacrifice in war after war after war, which served only to maintain the capitalist world order.
As contradictory as this might seem, Israel and its policy reinforced the most oppressive Arab dictatorships.
Arab dictators just had to pose as the enemy of Israel and be seen in the eyes of their own oppressed people as a friend.
Thanks to the support of the wealthiest countries in the world and primarily the US, Israel won all the wars forced on them by neighboring Arab states in 1948, 1967, and 1973.
In each of these wars, Israel expanded its borders and forced a new contingent of Palestinians off their own land.
So yes, the Palestinian people have no other choice but to resist.
That is clear.
Moreover, the policy of the Israeli government, whether it’s been run by the left or the right, has been to encourage far-right militia groups called Jewish settlers to harass, threaten,
and kill the Palestinians.
The only result of previous Palestinian peace processes was that the Palestinian people increasingly lost confidence in the governing party that was set up in the West Bank, Fatah.
It is viewed as inept and corrupt.
This opened the door for another political party funded by the wealthy, Hamas, to gain control in Gaza through a series of events.
The fundamentalists of Hamas proposed terrorism as a method of struggle and the forcible removal of all Jewish people out of the region as a goal.
This is horrible.
And this reinforces and energizes the Israeli right wing, which is as violently anti-Palestinian as Hamas is anti-Israeli.
This policy of mutual exclusion is even more criminal since in recent years, prior to October 7, there were small organizations of Jewish people and Palestinian people calling for equal rights for all, calling for a way to be found to live together.
A young Palestinian activist from the West Bank who was a teenager when she started to resist, her name is Ahed Tamimi, said in her 2022 memoir, which was called, “They Called Me a Lioness,” she said, “I knew that historically Jews, Muslims, and Christians co-existed prior to Israel’s establishment, living side by side as neighbors and friends. But today’s apartheid system has all but ensured that we have no civil interaction with Jews. And so it blew my mind to be meeting for the first time ever Jewish Israelis who traveled to our village in defiance of their own government’s policies to stand in solidarity with us. They weren’t simply allies in our struggle.
Many grew so close to us that my parents considered them some of their best friends. Getting to know Israeli activists gave me tremendous hope, perhaps for the first time in my life.”
What all the Arab governments fear, what the imperialist powers standing behind them fear, what the far-right government in Israel fears, is the Palestinian people, who are already an example of combativity for the poor of the region.
Could the Palestinian people find a policy to unify in one and the same struggle all the oppressed and exploited of the Middle East?
This would be a struggle against all their oppressors, Arab dictator oppressors, the far-right government oppressors, and the U.S. government oppressors.
The policy needed would aim to unite all the exploited, all the oppressed of the region on the basis of their own working class interests.
It would need to resolve not to be sidetracked by the dead end of nationalism.
There is a working class population, an exploited population within Israel.
Right now, many of us are not able to see how we’re going to get ourselves out of this spiral into the next world war.
But it starts with understanding the lies and the blood that has been shed behind those lies.
It means understanding that with the internationalist view that we will be able to break down the divisions, racism, and hatred that is fed to us.
Understanding the way imperialism operates with its secret documents, double talk, and violence helps to plan, will help us plan our actions.
That is what we, the working class, not just here in the United States, but all over the world need to do.
Plan our collective actions.
Actions that will unify all of the working class to stop the census bloodshed of our class, our class, and which includes so many different people.
So we just want to thank you for your time this evening.