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

In the Middle East, Capitalism Rewinds Its Bitter Catastrophes

Nov 27, 2023

What follows is the editorial that appeared on the front of all SPARK’s workplace newsletters during the week of October 31, 2022.

"We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba." Those were the words of Avi Dichter, current Israeli minister for agriculture and part of Israel’s security cabinet. Dichter repeated, "Gaza Nakba 2023. That’s how it will end."

"Nakba” is an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe,” referring to the 1947–49 forced expulsion of people living in Palestine.

Several villages were wiped out by Zionist militias. Their inhabitants, men, women, and children, were massacred; their houses and sheds were burnt to the ground. Pictures of those tragedies were posted in other Palestinian villages, with the warning: "You have 48 hours to leave."

Violence and terrorist threats drove three-quarters of Palestine’s population from their homes. Most ended up in refugee camps in the Sinai Peninsula, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Those who remained were herded into a small enclave surrounding Gaza City and into the West Bank.

This is how Israel was created. Pulling the strings ever since have been the world’s big imperialist powers. Israel’s military today rests on U.S. money and U.S. weapons systems.

It is understandable that Europe’s Jews wanted to flee from the pogroms and ovens that capitalism had fated for them in Europe. But, given how it was created, Israel could never be a refuge for the Jewish people. It could only turn them into the oppressors of other peoples—victimizers, and victims at the same time.

This tragic future was seen clearly by the Socialist movement as early as 1886 when Zionism gained influence among Europe’s Jewish workers. I. Rubanovich, a Russian Jewish Socialist, issued this warning about the disaster that would result if Zionist plans to occupy Palestine were carried out:

"What is Palestine? It is a country that belongs to the Turkish empire and is settled by Arabs.... Mr. Lilienblum says that ‘we [the Jews] have a historical right to Palestine.’... A historical right!... and by what means will you defend that historical right? The Arabs have exactly the same right. Woe unto you if—under the protection of international bandits and by the manipulation of international intrigue and corrupt diplomacy—you force the peaceful Arabs to defend their rights. They will answer tears with blood and will bury your hereditary claims under the ashes of your homes."

The tragic reality of Rubanovich’s prediction has been borne out. The future he foresaw 137 years ago was not based on a wild guess. It came out of the reality of capitalism’s functioning in a period when the big capitalist powers were dividing up the world into colonies. Capitalism meant then—and means now—war and "international intrigue” to set peoples against each other.

Israel is once again involved in displacing people through violence. This time, it is violence by one of the most heavily armed states in the world, backed by U.S. power. Almost 12,000 people have died, nearly half are children. Over one-and-a-half-million of Gaza’s two-and-a-half-million people have been driven from their homes, and half of all structures in Gaza have been destroyed or damaged.

Capitalism is rewinding the catastrophes of its history, playing them out over and over again.

Israel and Gaza are bloody traps—for the Palestinian people, who have no place left to which they can flee, but also for the Israeli people, who fled to the Middle East only to discover capitalism’s horrors awaiting them there also.

There is no refuge in a world dominated by capitalism—not in the Middle East, nowhere—no refuge other than in the struggle to get rid of the system that creates new Nakbas, new catastrophes.