The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Israel:
A people which oppresses others is itself victim

Dec 17, 2001

Translated from the December 7 issue of Lutte Ouvriere (Workers’ Fight), the newspaper put out by the Trotskyist organization in France with which we are in political solidarity.

We can only be moved and horrified by the suicide bombings in Israel – one on a packed bus and two in a pedestrian walkway – which left 30 dead and almost 200 wounded. The victims were civilians, children, teens, those who were out in the popular neighborhoods on a Saturday evening, as in many other places in the world. At the same time, we can only condemn those who conceived and prepared this carnage, which does not advance the cause of the Palestinian people whom the authors of these acts claim to defend.

But why are the leaders of the fundamentalist movement that carries out terrorism able to find people to carry out these acts and boast that they have the means to carry out similar attacks for the next 20 years if they have to? One of the men who blew himself up, wearing a belt of bombs around him, was only 17 years old. How much humiliation, frustration and despair is behind this action of a young man who chose to kill himself in order to achieve the maximum number of victims?

For several decades, the Palestinian people have lived under a regime of military occupation by the state of Israel with its superior weapons. The Palestinians are a people who have been plundered of their land, with a large part of them crammed into refugee camps in neighboring countries; a people who are not recognized as having a national state. For only the last few years a “Palestinian Authority” has been set up – but over a tiny, cut up territory, a real concentration camp of the poor.

This situation without hope and without perspective has led the Palestinian youth to the revolt called the Intifada. To try to wipe out this revolt, the Israeli army systematically used tanks and combat helicopters against an unarmed Palestinian population.

This war against the Palestinian people has left more than 1,000 dead and 30,000 wounded during the last 14 months. It has transformed the territory reserved to the Palestinians into a field of ruins in which the inhabitants are condemned to hunger each time the points of entry into Israel are closed. Ariel Sharon pretends to resolve the Palestinian problem in blood and violence: by state terrorism. But all this terrible repression and starvation of the Palestinian population has not put an end to the war, but on the contrary has pushed a growing number of youth into resistance and now toward suicide bombings.

The leaders of the imperialist world make a show of indignation, moralizing and calling on the Palestinian people to stay calm, while leaving a free hand to that man of the extreme right – Sharon. Disgusting! It is the big powers which have created this inextricable situation in which two peoples live in the same territory but are set one against the other. It is the big powers which wanted to turn the state of Israel, created by Jews fleeing Europe after the horrors of Nazism, into a guardian of imperialist domination over the Arab peoples surrounding this state.

These two people ought to be able to live together peacefully. But this would have required a policy whose aim was to achieve this. It would have meant that the newly created State of Israel would not be an instrument of plunder of the Palestinian people nor an instrument of oppression.

This is not what the successive leaders of Israel have done. They bear a huge responsibility not only toward the Palestinian people but also toward their own people for having led them into this political impasse. If the situation is desperate for the Palestinian people, it is in the process of becoming desperate for the Israeli people as well. One people suffers day after day from the terror of the Israeli state and the other suffers more and more from the individual terrorism which Israel’s state terrorism arouses. This is the situation which protects the big powers.

So long as oppression lasts, there will be people who choose to die rather than live in humiliation. Whoever spreads the violence receives it back as despair. On the two sides, however, it is not those responsible for the violence, but rather the people who pay.