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

A State Built on Religion and Terrorism

Aug 7, 2006

From the very beginning, the Zionist rulers of Israel have systematically used terrorism–first to establish a “Jewish state,” and then to expand its borders, continually pushing other people aside.

Certainly, given the long and horrible history of anti-Semitism in Europe including the Holocaust, no one could reproach the Jewish people for wanting a country where they could live without discrimination.

When that question first arose about a century ago, Zionists–Jewish nationalists who aspired to create a Jewish state–suggested that Palestine should be that land.

Zionists systematically bought land in Palestine and tried to organize a Jewish mass migration there. Still, Palestine was not necessarily where most European Jews wanted to live. Most of the people fleeing the horror of the Nazi regime tried to migrate to the U.S. or Latin America. But these countries put up blocks preventing most immigration, especially the masses of poor Jewish refugees. Even at the end of World War II, when the U.S. bragged to have “freed” the Jews, it hypocritically shut its doors to them. Palestine was simply the only option for many of the Holocaust survivors. By 1947, there were over 600,000 Jewish people in Palestine, making up about one-third of the population there.

The rest of the population, of course, were the original inhabitants of the area, the Palestinian Arabs. But the Zionists, who were to become of the rulers of Israel, never recognized the right of Palestinian Arabs to continue to live in their own land–which is ironic given the constant Israeli proclamation that Arabs must recognize “Israel’s right to exist.”

Israel: A religious state

In 1948, the United Nation passed a resolution dividing Palestine between Jews and Arabs. In what became Israel, the population was still evenly divided between Jews and Arabs. But this didn’t prevent the Zionists, who controlled the new state, to declare it a “Jewish state,” using religion to define not only “Jewishness” but also citizenship rights.

The Zionist rulers of Israel decided that the new state would not have a constitution, because that would mean, at least on paper, giving Arab citizens of Israel the same rights as Jews. Instead, the Zionists used a certain number of laws inherited from either the British mandate or the Ottoman Empire–for example, the recognition of the power of the religious leaders over each community, that is, of the rabbinical courts. And those courts introduced a whole series of laws based on Jewish religious dogma, including laws forbidding work on Saturdays and laws oppressive to women. This effectively meant that the orthodox religious Jews, which made up a small minority, were allowed to impose their archaic reactionary views on everybody else. But it also meant that non-Jewish Israelis were automatically excluded from some rights, for example subsidized housing, that Jews were entitled to.

No, Israel is not “the only democracy in the Middle East,” as the U.S. media often claims when it parrots Israeli, and U.S., leaders. It is in fact a theocratic state, like Iran or Saudi Arabia. And, like other theocratic regimes in the region, Israel denies full citizenship rights to other ethnic and religious groups.

Driving the Arabs out of their own land

The Zionists who founded Israel moved swiftly, and brutally, to take their land from the Palestinians. Zionist guerrilla groups launched a campaign of terror to push the Arab population off their land. Whole villages were massacred. The best known of these took place on April 9, 1948 in the village of Deir Yassin, where 254 men, women and children were killed in cold blood. The Zionists went from village to village, pasting up the pictures of the victims of Deir Yassin, announcing that any Arab who stayed risked the same fate, killing those who didn’t leave. As people fled from the terrorist campaigns carried out by Zionist gangs, the Arab population of Israel dropped from more than 600,000 down to 100,000. Those who fled were turned into refugees–much like what is happening in Lebanon today.

When Israeli officials today excuse themselves for killing Lebanese civilians, saying that they had “warned them,” they are only following in the footsteps of the “founding fathers” of Israel!

Later on, Israel continued its terrorist campaign, to expand its borders, but this time it used the violence of the most modern military force. In 1967, Israel occupied the Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the Golan Heights in Syria. In 1978, Israel invaded southern Lebanon, then expanded its occupation to more than half the country in 1982.

Behind Israel is U.S. imperialism

Israel, a small country of five million Jews, could never achieve this reign of terror against millions of Arabs on its own. It is able to do this because the U.S. supplies it with the most modern weaponry and financial support. Israel receives, by far, the most U.S. military aid per capita of all the countries in the world. No matter how brutal Israel is against the population in the region, U.S. leaders have only support and kind words for the leaders of Israel.

The U.S. has used Israel, from its inception, as an outpost in the Middle East. The partition of Palestine, supported by the U.S., created a small Jewish state, surrounded by enemies and dependent on U.S. aid to survive. This gives the U.S. a staunch ally in controlling a region of enormous economic and strategic importance.

By accepting this arrangement, that is, agreeing to help the U.S. to achieve its imperialistic aims in the Middle East, the Zionists have condemned Israel to a permanent state of war.

How to end the vicious cycle of violence

There was an alternative to all this for the Jews who settled in Palestine: to live side by side with Arabs, accepting them as equals–which is the idea of a modern, secular and democratic society anyway. In fact, most Jews, given their background, would probably have supported this idea. By accepting a religious state which uses terror against Arabs instead, however, Israeli Jews have allowed the Zionists to turn the whole Arab population of the region against them.

This meant that in the Middle East, a region plagued by imperialist domination, endless ethnic and religious division and outright genocide, a real opportunity was missed. The arrival of European Jews, a population with a high level of education and culture as well as a determination to build a new country, could have benefitted the entire region–especially the Arab masses who aspired to free themselves from the chains of poverty and oppression and were themselves fighting to expel imperialist control of their land.

Instead, they found an even more vicious oppressor in the rulers of Israel, who have been able to use the Jewish population of Israel against the Arab population of the region.

Today, after all the bloodshed and destruction carried out by Israel–which only invites violence in return–this alternative is much harder to achieve than it was six decades ago. Nonetheless, it remains the only way out of the endless cycle of war, for both Jews and Arabs.