The Spark

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

Middle East:
A situation provoked by Sharon

Sep 8, 2003

The following is excerpted from an article in the August 29 issue of Lutte Ouvrière [Workers Struggle], newspaper of the French Trotskyist organization of the same name.

The spiral of violence in Israel quickly restarted after the suicide attack that killed 20 people on August 19 in Jerusalem. This attack made it possible for the Israeli government to officially justify the resumption of its attacks and its raids against the Palestinians... which actually had never really stopped.

The "truce" proposed by the United States had been accepted by the two parties on June 29. For better or worse, the Palestinian prime minister forced the truce to be respected and the suicide attacks had stopped.

On the Israeli side, however, none of the conditions of the agreement, limited as it was, were respected: no end to setting up colonies, no end to the destruction of Palestinian homes and no withdrawal of the Israel army from the towns of the West Bank.

The construction of the wall that turns all of the West Bank into a vast concentration camp was not stopped, not even for a single day; and along with it came the destruction of the fields, the crops and the wells of the Palestinians. The majority of the Palestinian political prisoners remained in the Israeli jails.

And the Israeli government continued the "targeted attacks" on Palestinian leaders, especially Hamas.

Thus on August 8, eleven days before the attack in Jerusalem, the Israeli army killed two militants of Hamas in Naplouse. On August 14, two others were killed in Hébron. On the 18th, Israel destroyed three Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem and arrested three Israelis along the way because they opposed what was taking place.

Sharon could not be unaware that such acts would maintain a climate likely to produce new suicide attacks.

After the attack on August 19, the Israeli army stepped up its repression. For the Palestinian population of Gaza and the West Bank, the already terrible situation it endures became more degraded, more humiliating, more difficult.

It is not the policy of the Palestinian terrorist movements, with their bloody attacks, that will serve the interests of the Palestinian population. The terrorists on one side, the Sharon government on the other, act as two factions playing with the fate of the populations, digging a ditch of blood, ever more deep, between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

And the Palestinian Authority, which wanted to demonstrate its capacity to act as a true state able to control the Palestinian population, now finds itself trapped: either it concedes to the demands of the Israeli government and attempts to crush movements like Hamas, risking a true civil war within the Palestinian territories. Or it does not do this, giving Israel the pretext to again occupy the Palestinian territories.

American imperialism will not force the Israeli government to change its policy. Only the reaction of the populations of that region can do it. In the past, it was the first Intifada, the revolt of the stones, which led the Israeli state to take a few small steps toward the recognition of the Palestinians in their own state. And 20 years ago, it was the reaction of a part of the Israeli population, shocked to see its youth dying in Lebanon or becoming prison wardens there or in the West Bank or in Gaza, that led the Israeli state to reconsider its policy, at least for a moment.