The Spark

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

Israel in Gaza:
A people that oppresses another can never be free

Jul 10, 2006

On June 25, Israel sent tanks and soldiers back into the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he wanted to make the lives of 1,400,000 Gazans miserable and he did. At least, 44 Palestinians have been killed, with hundreds wounded. Israeli jets flew bombing raids overhead, dropping death and terror. The Israelis destroyed the main Palestinian power station, cutting off electricity for Gaza. Not only don’t homes have power, neither do hospitals. Some tried to keep going with gas powered generators, but the gas has run out.

The trigger for these attacks was the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. Hamas militants said they would exchange him for the Palestinian women and children held by the Israelis. Israel claims this is blackmail – all the while it has arrested – at gunpoint – 8 Hamas cabinet members, 23 legislators and 33 Hamas militants. And the Israelis are holding 10,000 Palestinians in prison, many without charges.

“Israel has the right to defend itself,” proclaims Bush. With support from the big U.S. superpower and its own technical and military superiority, Israeli applies the law of the jungle.

The imperialist powers are concerned about Middle East oil. They back Israel with arms and money in order not to depend on such reactionary Arab regimes as Saudi Arabia or Jordan, which could be toppled by their own oppressed populations.

All the political and social contradictions of this region are focused on the Israeli-Arab conflict. The leaders of Israel, instead of looking for ways to get along with the Arab people, have always chosen to be allies of the West against them.

The Islamic organization Hamas gained control over the Palestinian government by winning the last election. The great powers – which pretend to defend democracy – decided to starve the entire Palestinian population to punish it for giving Hamas a majority. And Israel tightened its grip over the Palestinian people.

The horrors suffered by the Palestinian people for decades are first and foremost the responsibility of the Israeli state supported by the imperialist powers. But the Palestinians are also being destroyed by the nationalist policies of their leaders. And Hamas’ coming to power harms the Palestinian people by adding a further reactionary pressure to the oppression they already experience from Israel.

The fights made by the Palestinians against their oppression have turned them into living symbols for the other oppressed people of the Middle East, from Libya to Egypt and Jordan.

The imperialists fear that the Palestinian uprising could inspire the poor and working classes of the entire region to resist their oppression, first from Israel, but also from the Arab dictatorships, which are no better. But the nationalists leading the Palestinians have kept the uprisings in check, refusing to make the struggle of the Palestinians the start of a much wider struggle, engaging the poor in other countries throughout the region. They have thus made it easier for Israel and the imperialists to keep the peoples of the whole Middle East under control. These nationalists – even the most radical and secular among them – have led their people to a dead end, helping the reactionary religious party to take over.

The Palestinian people pay a heavy price for these policies. They are enclosed in a tiny strip of land, surrounded by barbed wired and the wall, devastated by unemployment and poverty, threatened with death by Israel. But the Israeli people don’t live in peace either. A people that oppresses another can never be free.

Nevertheless, there is place in this region for two peoples to live together, on the basis of social and political equality. But in a system dominated by imperialism based on oppression which generates conflicts and wars, it will take a social upheaval to make this possible.