The Spark

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

Israel, One of Imperialism’s Outposts, Erupts in a New War against People

Oct 8, 2023

Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2006, launched a military offensive on Israel. Armed commando groups, breaching the military barriers that divide Gaza from Israel, attacked Israeli civilians, taking hostages. Rockets rained on heavily populated areas, including the capital of Tel Aviv.

Israel’s military was apparently taken by surprise. But it quickly mounted a vast response. Its chief of staff warned that Israel’s “enemies will pay a price beyond anything ever seen before.” The words were aimed at Hamas, but the weapons used by Israel were aimed at the Palestinian people.

By the end of the first day, over 500 people had been killed, both Israelis and Palestinians. On that same day, the Israeli army warned all civilians to leave Gaza. Most Palestinians have no place else to go in Israel’s apartheid framework. So they will be a target in Israel’s military “cleanup” of Gaza.

The Hamas offensive may have been prompted by a threatened Israeli-Saudi Arabian deal that could challenge Hamas control over Gaza. But it flows from long-term Hamas policy, whose main aim has been to force Israel and the imperialist powers to recognize Hamas as a legitimate part of their world.

By attacking Israeli civilians, Hamas may be aiming to shake support for Israel’s government. But just as in earlier wars in the region, the resulting mayhem is more likely to drive Israelis back into the arms of their government, with its vicious apartheid-like policies. And Hamas, with its organized terrorist violence, gave no perspective to the Palestinian people, only the likelihood of becoming unwitting victims of the violence coming from both sides.

Israelis are also caught in the dead-end trap of nationalism—the idea that Israel can maintain itself only by carrying out organized violence against the Palestinians. This gives the Israelis themselves no perspective other than living in a permanent state of war. It shows that a people who oppress another people cannot live in freedom themselves.

Israel came out of the attempt to build a refuge in Palestine for the Jewish people, themselves victims of Europe’s most atrocious racist violence. But the state of Israel was founded through violent attacks on the Palestinian people to drive them from their land. It guaranteed that Israel would live in a constant state of warfare with all the peoples in the region.

Based on a policy that divided it from its neighbors, Israel became an outpost of British and American imperialism. In exchange for weapons and economic funding, Israel turned itself into one of imperialism’s cops. Its military and advanced weapons were used to control the hotspots that regularly broke out in the Middle East.

Israel wasn’t fated to play this role. And the Jews, who had been severely oppressed or killed in Europe, were not fated to become the oppressors of the Palestinians. There were many socialists among the Jewish refugees from Europe’s violence. Their perspective was to emigrate to Palestine, to try to build a multi-nation country together with the Palestinians already living there.

But the socialists were not organized, and the Jewish nationalists were.

Seventy-five years ago, the nation-state of Israel was born as a specifically Jewish state, a religious state. Most Palestinians were driven out. Those who remained were relegated to an inferior status. Given that violent founding, all of the populations of the region have lived in a constant state of war ever since.

This does not need to be humanity’s future. We can build a different one. We can be part of a common struggle by all the oppressed. We can fight, all of us, against our own leaders and against the wealthy classes they serve. This was possible in Palestine in 1948. It is possible in this country today. It is possible around the world, the only level where such a struggle will finally succeed.