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

The Responsibilities of Imperialism

May 24, 2021

Since the beginning of the Israeli bombardments on Gaza, many commentators have lamented the alleged inability of the international community to end hostilities. In fact, this is a deliberate choice by the great powers, starting with the United States, to leave a free hand to the Israeli leadership.

The United States has thus repeatedly opposed the adoption of a U.N. Security Council declaration, even only to call for an end to the violence. By simply declaring that Israel has the right "to defend itself against rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza," U.S. President Joe Biden argues for the Israeli government, endorsing the continuity of the policy pursued by all its predecessors for decades. The alleged paralysis of American or European diplomacy in fact testifies to their complicity with those who bombard and massacre the Palestinians today.

Beyond the indifference they currently display, the leaders of the imperialist powers are mainly responsible for the inextricable situation which has opposed the Jewish and Arab populations for nearly a century. Because the permanence of this conflict, and others, allows them to better establish their domination over this strategic region in their eyes.

Inaugurating this policy during the First World War, the United Kingdom promised the creation of a large Arab kingdom to Bedouin tribes of Arabia whose military support it sought against the Ottoman power, which then controlled most of the Middle East.

At the same time, in November 1917, by a famous declaration to which he gave his name, the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, promised the Zionist movement to support the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. Seeking the patronage of an imperialist power in order to succeed in establishing itself against the will of the local Arab populations, this Jewish nationalist movement therefore initially proposed to make itself the auxiliary of the British colonial power. None of the promises made to each other were really kept: by claiming to play the role of arbiter between the Jews and the Arabs whose opposition it had sharpened, the United Kingdom mainly took control of the territories concerned.

Until World War II, however, the overwhelming majority of Jews in the Diaspora did not identify with the Zionist movement and its demand for a Jewish state. But the victory of Nazism in Germany led to the massive deportation of the Jews, often with the active help of the police forces of the occupied states, as was the case in France, and the extermination of six million of them, pushing many Jewish survivors to flee Europe and join Zionist organizations. This is what enabled them to impose the creation of the State of Israel both on British imperialism and on 700,000 Palestinians whom they forced into exodus. The refugee camps then set up by the U.N. continue to host a large part of the Palestinian people.

Unconditional support for Israeli governments provided the United States with a privileged ally who depended on it for its existence, economically and militarily. In a region where the Arab states often had to face popular protest, the Israeli state offered guarantees of stability, because it could mobilize its population behind it in every military conflict, making them believe that it was necessary for its survival. By his current positions or by his silence, Biden shows himself to be the faithful continuator of this policy.

The Jewish and Palestinian populations are paying the price, victims both of their leaders who lead them to the dead end of an endless conflict, and of those of the imperialist powers, who profit from these clashes and all the divisions in the Middle East—to perpetuate their domination over this region.