Only Permanent Revolution across the MENA can resolve endless slaughter.
For an international workers united front to defeat all imperialist
incursions in MENA and the Zionist colonial war.
Netanyahu has staged a provocation in East Jerusalem because his plan to isolate Iran from the Arab states and drive home the Zionist dream of complete occupation of Palestine has been overtaken by two crises. The first is internal, that the Arab revolution is still alive and the Palesinian masses refuse to live that nightmare. He cannot guarantee to form a new government and remain in power without another war. Second, the terminal crisis of capital which sparked the Arab Spring forced the MENA regimes to repress successive waves of uprisings, but failed to restore stability to the region. From Morocco to Iran, the masses are restive and primed to explode.
Palestine has always been the fuse that kept the cause of the Arab revolution smouldering and Israel, as the US gendarme in MENA, has always stamped down on that fuse. But the world has changed. New imperialist powers, Russia and China, and their regional allies, Turkey and Iran, have shifted the balance of power in MENA and reduced Israel’s significance as chief gendarme. It could be that Netanyahu will make the Zionist project the ditch that Israel will die in and release the power of the masses in MENA.
Al Monitor reports a new generation of young fighters, millennials that grew up during the period of neo-liberal exhaustion of democracy and the rise of the capitalist dictatorship. This coincides with the rise in the Arab population inside the 1948 border of Israel and the militant confrontations between Zionist reactionaries and Arab militants now occurring..
Netanyahu, facing possible jailing for corruption and a loss of political power, has clamped down on the political rights of Israeli Arabs. His main rivals are led by Benny Gantz, defence minister in the caretaker government overseeing the bombardment of Gaza. This has tied Gantz’ hands in a war cabinet and set back the formation of a new coalition government including Arab parties. Moreover, the spread of the current resistance inside Israel’s 1948 borders makes the two-state solution even more a reactionary dystopia. Even so, this development is isolated from the Palestinian struggle, which itself is subordinated to the national interests of the bourgeois factions of Hamas and Fatah. The sidelining of Fatah in the West Bank strengthens the Hamas leadership of the national struggle to the West Bank. The form of the political program of the Palestine struggle becomes more Islamic than secular, but in its essence it remains nationalist.
ISRAEL AS THE US GENDARME
Trump’s administration backed Netanyahu’s aggressive plan to expand the settlements, destroy Hamas and build support for a war with Iran. But the election of Biden had put a question mark over that plan. Netanyahu’s ability to hold onto power by building an alliance with Arab states against Iran has backfired as Biden opens negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapons. The Gendarme no longer has a crime scene and needs to create one. Assaulting the Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan provoked immediate mass resistance designed to force Hamas into another war; this put Biden’s support for a war to destroy Iran and its proxy Hamas, the main threats to Israel’s existence as the US gendarme in MENA, to the test. Given Biden’s form as a self-confessed Zionist, it was not long before Netanyahu got the backing he wanted. (Ha aretz, “Biden: I Don't Believe Israel Has Significantly Overreacted to Gaza Rocket Fire”)
The recognition of Jerusalem as the capitol of the Zionist state and the opening of the US embassy there was a bipartisan move by the US imperialist state, not an isolated action of the Trump regime. This is a bloc of right wing Christian Zionists whose belief that the return of the messiah will only come when Israel controls Jerusalem. Then the rapture will come and elevate all the Christians and condemn the non-believers to damnation. But this reactionary theocratic bullshit is just a dog whistle to the evangelicals’ cover being used by the historically anti-semitic western imperialism and tolerated by AIPAC who know full well they are in bed with Jew hating anti-semitic zealots.
The bipartisan approval of the capitol move was a green light to the Zionists that the US is supporting the displacement of Palestinians, the continued isolation of Palestinians and the starvation of Gaza. The US gives on average 3 billion dollars a year to the Zionist military project - this is a bipartisan agreement uniting everyone from Trump to Cheney to Biden and Harris. The US media alongside BBC echoes the Biden/Netanyahu talking point that the Zionists have the right to “Cast Lead”, “Mow the Lawn'' and kill civilians trapped in the largest open air prison in the world indiscriminately.
A PRE-REVOLUTIONARY SITUATION?
Yes, the workers and farmers are rising to fight a new war. The Israeli ruling class is divided, but it is not divided on the question of defence of Israel, so counter-revolution looms large. Racist anti-Arab mobs have mobilized in the streets inside the Green line attacking Palestinians indiscriminately -- the chant “kill the Arabs” is hauntingly reminiscent of the current Proud Boy’s meme 6MWE (six million wasn’t enough.) Netanyahu will go for the nuclear option rather than go to jail. How far he needs to go to stay in power and get backing for his war on Iran, depends not upon whether the UN or US broker a peace deal (of course they will try), but whether he can force a ceasefire on Hamas on his terms. That will depend on Hamas retaining control over the leadership of the resistance and keeping it chained to the “anti-imperialist” popular front two-state solution.
It will take the emergence of a revolutionary Trotskyist internationalist party challenging the nationalist leadership and program with a transitional program for permanent revolution, to open up a pre-revolutionary situation. Therefore, rather than use the term ‘pre-revolutionary’ situation to describe any uprising that objectively challenges capitalist rule, we argue that this term can only have meaning if it includes the existence of the subjective factor in revolution - a healthy internationalist Trotskyist party and program. We need that party to grasp the situation in Palestine and MENA, to expose the counter-revolutionary political programs put forward by most of the left to sellout the revolution, and to win support for that vanguard party and transitional program to lead the fight for the permanent revolution.
It is not only Fatah and Hamas that have used military adventures to negotiate a two state solution, most of the so-called revolutionary left is stuck in the same groove. Much of the so-called revolutionary left is busy sucking up to the two-stage, two state, (or bi-state) line in Palestine and the whole of MENA. For example the League for the Fifth International (LFI) talks about the bi-national state in which Israelis and Palestinians peacefully coexist:
“Red Flag calls for the establishment of a bi-national state based on full legal equality for all, the right of return for Palestinians expelled during Israel’s colonialist wars, and supports Palestinian struggles such as the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement.” (LFI, “Halt Israeli aggression in Gaza and Jerusalem”)
We have criticised the LFI in the past for adapting to social imperialism. Specifically British imperialism. But its stand on Palestine adapts to US imperialism because it sows illusions in the self-determination of Palestine being resolved by the national democratic revolution without the defeat of the Zionist and Palestinian national bourgeoisies and their imperialist masters.
An analogous pipedream is proposed by the CWI, the Taafe-ist Committee for a Workers’ International: In fact it is neither a call for an international nor a call for international workers unity. It is the 2-state wine in a new bottle. Take a look!
“With workers’ parties, Palestinian and Israeli, adopting a programme for a socialist Palestine alongside a socialist Israel – as part of a socialist confederation of the Middle East – it will be possible to lay the basis for bringing the capitalist nightmare of cycles of death and destruction to an end.
For an independent, democratic socialist Palestinian state, alongside a democratic socialist Israel, with two capitals in Jerusalem and guaranteed democratic rights for all minorities, as part of the struggle for a socialist Middle East” (CWI, “Conflict in Jerusalem widens across Israeli cities and to war on Gaza”)
Similarly the International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) claims that Jews have national rights in Palestine because they have ‘interpenetrated’ with Arabs. This confuses Jewish national (democratic) rights with Zionist ultra-nationalism. Jews and Palestinians do not have “competing territorial and national claims” in Palestine. The existence of Israel results from the rape of Palestine. Get a load of this pseudo-Trotskyism! The Zionist project was explicitly rejected by Trotsky!
“The only historically progressive solution to this seemingly intractable problem lies through joint Arab/Jewish working-class struggle to smash Zionism from within while seeking to establish a bi-national workers’ state as part of a larger socialist federation of the Middle East. A voluntary socialist federation, led by a class-conscious proletariat rooted in the region’s diverse national, ethnic and religious communities, is the only political framework capable of equitably resolving the competing territorial and national claims. (our emphasis) “ (IBT, “Israel-Palestine: Apartheid, Imperialism & Class”)
The RCIT does not call for a bi-state, but rather for armed struggle, the destruction of the Zionist state and a “democratic and red Palestine.” But it doesn’t make clear that the revolutionary party of the workers and farmers must lead the struggle. Is this an anti-imperialist workers’ front or an anti-imperialist popular front? Get this!:
“We call for the formation of popular assemblies and militias so that the Palestinian people can organize and defend their struggle for liberation! The treacherous Palestinian Administration Mahmoud Abbas must immediately stop its collaboration with the Israeli state and distribute weapons to the people so that they can defend themselves against the Zionist killers.”
“We repeat: As long as the Zionist state exists, the Palestinians will continue suffering from state terrorism! This is why we stand for the socialist perspective of a democratic and red Palestine. We support the struggle for the destruction of the Zionist state and the right to return for all Palestinian refugees.” (RCIT, “The Fourth Gaza War Has Begun! Defend the Palestinian People – Defeat Israel!”)
What does a “democratic and red Palestine” mean? Is it shorthand for permanent revolution i.e. to be democratic is to be red? It seems not, as the RCIT does not define the “democratic and red Palestine” as a workers’ and farmers’ state based on the rise to power of the armed workers and peasants councils, does it? Missing are the demands for workers and peasants to arm themselves, to disarm the police and to arm the workers councils, for Israeli conscripts to mutiny, and to not rely on Fatah, Hamas or the Arab ruling class for arms.
No better is the proclamation of the Fraccion Leninista-Trotskista Internacionalista (FLTI), a tendency with many militants who are being miseducated in a non-Marxist, non-programmatic method that invites the national bourgeoisie to join the exploited classes in a Palestinian National Assembly! You’ll search their position in vain for the call for a socialist revolution putting the working people in power. And suppose you wish to see their Transitional Program with which to make this revolution. You won’t find theirs! Could it be that they think their call for a workers and peasants government without workers councils or their armed militias suffices for the logic that socialism will automatically be the outcome of this National Assembly? This is a plan for stagism, not the permanent revolution. This is not different from calls for a Constituent Assembly, complete with class enemy representatives.
“For the destruction of the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel! For a free, secular, democratic and non-racist Palestine, which can only be guaranteed by a workers’ and peasants’ government! A Palestinian national assembly of Gaza, the West Bank and all the Diaspora!” (FLTI, July, 2020, “Stop the offensive of imperialism and its Zionist gendarme on the Palestinian people and the whole Middle East!”)
FOR PERMANENT REVOLUTION!
Stopping the revolution at the bourgeois democratic stage is counter-revolutionary because there is no ‘half-way’ house where the revolution can be put on pause. Either the democratic revolution is completed by the socialist revolution or the revolution retreats under the capitalist counter-revolution. We warn against the illusions of appealing to Fatah and other Arab leaders to arm the struggle. Both Hamas and Fatah are treacherous bourgeois factions that have done deals to keep alive the two-state solution. This makes the IBT claim that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’ doubly treacherous. It assumes first that Jews have the national right to a state in Palestine, and that a bi-national solution will enable both Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace in a democratic transition to socialism. The ‘end of apartheid’ in South Africa was ‘paused’ on a bourgeois democratic bi-racial semi-colony still under the heel of imperialism.
Trotsky stated clearly that while Jews are a people and have a right to national self-determination, this right cannot be won by occupying another nation. Therefore Jews have no right to a state in Palestine. Israel is the only settler colony that came into existence during the period of decolonisation of the former European colonies after WW2. The lessons of decolonisation are clear. Self-determination is not possible for a colony unless it breaks completely free from imperialism. The only way to liberate Palestine is through permanent revolution that breaks from the national bourgeoisie as well from its imperialist masters. Then Palestinians and Israelis would freely choose to live together or apart and to what degree.
The ongoing Zionist war against Palestine must be recognised as leading the counter-revolution against the Arab Revolution and the revolution in the region as a whole. Not just the revolution against Israel but the whole Arab ruling class and their imperialist backers, and the regional powers of Iran and Turkey. It is the weapon of permanent counter-revolution against the international permanent revolution!
In defence of the Palestinian masses we support an anti-imperialist united front for the destruction of the Zionist state, the uniting and arming of the masses from Morocco to Iran, the defeat of the bourgeois lackey regimes, the expropriation of capitalist and imperialist monopolies and the defeat of imperialist invading armies.
We have to smash the popular front politics of the Menshevik left and build a new Trotskyist international party that solves the crisis of leadership by defeating the treacherous national leaderships, uniting the struggle across borders, for the victory of workers and farmers’ governments based on armed workers and farmers councils, united in a federation of MENA socialist republics.
15 May 2021
International Leninist-Trotskyist Tendency