Sunday, July 13, 2014


The events of the last weeks that saw a renewal of open hostilities between Israel and Hamas have an element of deja vu in them. Once more the Zionist state steps up its oppression of the West Bank and Gaza using as a pretext the killing of three Israeli youths. Once more the Palestinian masses rise up in resistance as Arab youth are killed and hundreds arrested. Yet we are not taken in by the arguments for or against renewed hostilities; they are a ritual exchange between the Zionist ruling class and the Palestinian bourgeois factions Hamas and Fatah to negotiate the division of Palestine. The two factions are using the Palestinian masses as no more than expendable pawns in their battle for supremacy. Lost in this exchange is the truth of what underlies this conflict between the Zionist oppressor state, and an oppressed occupied state. While both regimes negotiate with missiles the Palestinian masses pay the price in blood. Their leaders continue to sell out to Israel. In selling out they prevent the Palestinian struggle for self-determination from arming independent militias and uniting their forces with other armed struggles in the surrounding Arab states. We are for a revolutionary party and program for the defeat of the Zionist state and for a Socialist Palestine in a United Socialist States of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)!

1) Down with the Zionist State!

Israel is a settler state that came into existence after United Nations (UN) resolution 181 in 1947 which was a fig-leaf for British and US imperialist backing of the Zionist colonisation of Palestine and its partition into two legitimate states. This was followed by a series of wars starting with the civil war followed by the First Arab-Israeli war in 1948, together called al-Nakba by the Arabs, that led to defeat of Arab forces and drove Arabs off their land to the point that today all of Palestine is either settled by Israelis or controlled by the Israeli military. Those parts of the West Bank and Gaza that are not permanently occupied by the military are no more than prison camps much as are the refugee camps that house millions of displaced Palestinians in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Israel justifies it’s right to occupy Palestine in terms of its Zionist claims to the ancient land of Israel. It is pre-occupied with completing its Zionist program of reclaiming its historic homeland which would not be possible without a massive military subsidy from the US. (See ‘Zionism: A Road Map to Hell’).

Israel is therefore not an imperialist economic power and only exists on the basis of US and EU imperialist support. It might be called ‘sub-imperialist’ in the sense of “sub-contracted to US imperialism”. It is an armed settler state with a theocratic Zionist regime no less ‘fundamentalist’ than its rival Islamic Republic of Iran, or the upstart rival Sunni Islamic State (ISIS), and certainly a nuclear armed ‘terrorist’ state. It is an affront not only to the Palestinians, but to Jews and to humanity as a whole that Zionist Israel exists, and so must be destroyed. (see Against Zionism).

Writing on The Jewish Problem in 1937, Trotsky foresaw the tragedy of Zionism as a reactionary solution to the national rights of Jews:

"But the facts of every passing day demonstrate to us that Zionism is incapable of resolving the Jewish question. The conflict between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine acquires a more and more tragic and more and more menacing character. I do not at all believe that the Jewish question can be resolved within the framework of rotting capitalism and under the control of British imperialism. And how, you ask me, can socialism solve this question? On this point I can but offer hypotheses. Once socialism has become master of our planet or at least of its most important sections, it will have unimaginable resources in all domains. Human history has witnessed the epoch of great migrations on the basis of barbarism. Socialism will open the possibility of great migrations on the basis of the most developed technique and culture. It goes without saying that what is here involved is not compulsory displacements, that is, the creation of new ghettos for certain nationalities, but displacements freely consented to, or rather demanded by certain nationalities or parts of nationalities. The dispersed Jews who would want to be reassembled in the same community will find a sufficiently extensive and rich spot under the sun. The same possibility will be opened for the Arabs, as for all other scattered nations. National topography will become a part of the planned economy. This is the grand historical perspective that I envisage. To work for international socialism means also to work for the solution of the Jewish question.”
2) Palestinian National Liberation

The struggle of the Palestinian masses against Israeli occupation is a national liberation struggle. To achieve Palestinian liberation the Zionist state must be destroyed. National liberation does not mean recognition of the state of Israel as legitimate nor the acceptance of a two-state solution. This is the position of one faction of the Palestinian bourgeoisie –Fatah. Nor does it mean the opportunist policy of the other bourgeois faction Hamas, i.e. military confrontation to recognise the de facto right for Israel to exist until it can be replaced by a theocratic Islamic State of Palestine. Between these two factions’ policies of dividing up Palestine with the Zionists there is no essential difference. Both are “bloody traps” for the Arab masses manipulated as pawns of the rival factions of the Palestinian bourgeoisie.

Much of the Western left also buys into a negotiated ‘peaceful’ solution such as the claim that Israel is an ‘apartheid’ state which can be reformed by pressure of international public opinion and more UN resolutions to go back to the partition of 1947. This is based on the belief that Jews have national rights in Palestine that can be peacefully resolved by recognising both Palestinian and Jewish rights. This is making Palestine liberation conditional on Jewish national rights as if they have an equal claim to living in Palestine. Not so. Trotsky argued that in the 1930s that Jews could claim national rights as an oppressed nation, but not at the expense of occupying Palestine.

“The attempt to solve the Jewish question through the migration of Jews to Palestine can now be seen for what it is, a tragic mockery of the Jewish people. Interested in winning the sympathies of the Arabs who are more numerous than the Jews, the British government has sharply altered its policy toward the Jews, and has actually renounced its promise to help them found their “own home” in a foreign land. The future development of military events may well transform Palestine into a bloody trap for several hundred thousand Jews. Never was it so clear as it is today that the salvation of the Jewish people is bound up inseparably with the overthrow of the capitalist system.” On the Jewish Problem.

The National rights of Jews therefore cannot be at the expense of the Palestinians. So the national liberation of Palestine means the defeat of Israel and the re-occupation of Palestine by the armed people of Palestine, with or without the support of militant Jews, and necessarily in conjunction with the popular revolutions that have begun in the other Arab states. The national rights of Jews will be realised in a democratic, socialist, multi-ethnic workers’ state in Palestine.

3) The Arab Revolution

Since 1948 the Palestinian revolution has been isolated (in effect quarantined) by the Arab states whose regimes professed support for Palestinian rights, but stopped short at limited wars to weakly contest the expanding borders of Israel. The surrounding Arab states condemned the Israeli state but in practice put their own separate interests before the defence of Palestine. They were rivals for leadership of the Arab states and could never agree on a unified strategy. In 1948 King Abdullar of Jordan backed by Britain, schemed with the Zionists to incorporate the US mandated Palestine into Jordan but was opposed by Egypt and Syria who had their own plans to annex Palestine. The outcome of the war was a victory for Israel and its expansion well beyond the UN partition borders (see map). 

The 1967 “Third Arab-Israeli war” between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan also led to an outright Israeli victory and further incursions into Palestinian territory. Since that time the Arab states have collaborated with Israel. Egypt and Israel struck and agreement over Gaza. In Syria, the secular Baathist regime of Assad, father and son, co-existed with the theocratic Zionist state just as much as it collaborated with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Arab and Israeli ruling classes were in agreement on their fundamental interest of keeping the Arab revolution divided and quarantined.

The Arab Spring changed that. Since 2011 the uprisings from Tunisia to Syria have forced the Arab regimes to actively suppress or co-opt the spread and synchronisation of these popular uprisings. In Syria Assad has starved and bombed the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk because the different leadership factions including Hamas that ruled the camp could not suppress the solidarity of the Palestinian masses with the Syrian Revolution. Moreover the revolutions continue in Libya and Syria where the armed resistance continues to fight the regime. The outbreak of a popular war against the Maliki regime in Iraq puts on the agenda not only the defeat of imperialism in MENA but also the defeat of imperialism’s puppet regimes in Iraq and Syria their Islamic State rivals. For the first time a Palestinian popular uprising has the potential to join forces with the Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi revolutions and to link up the Palestinian masses in Lebanon and Jordan in a wider Arab revolution to overthrow imperialism and its national bourgeois puppets.

4) Role of Imperialism

There are no imperialist powers in the MENA. Israel and all the Arab regimes are semi-colonies of imperialism including the oil-rich Gulf States (and the non-Arab Iran). In the last analysis, Israel’s existence is not about land grabbing in the name of God, but its military role as the mercenary of US and EU imperialism in defending their interests in MENA against the emergence of the rival imperialist bloc of Russia and China. The Arab regimes act as agents of one or other, or both imperialist blocs, as they compete to win their favour and increase their share of the oil wealth exploited by imperialism. There can be no Arab Revolution unless it breaks with both imperialism and all the national bourgeois factions that rule over the masses on its behalf.

It is not possible to complete the national revolutions to defeat imperialism without overthrowing the national bourgeois factions that rule on behalf of imperialism. Hamas and Fatah in Palestine use the masses as military pawns to negotiate better terms with Israel for dividing Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and in Syria compete with the military al Sisi and Assad regimes, and secular bourgeois factions such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), for popular support to win the backing of the US and/or China/Russia. All compete to prove they can contain the Arab Revolution and that it is not they but their rivals that are the ‘terrorists’ that must be smashed. Against such brutal regimes, the Arab revolution that is historically centred on Palestine must declare its political independence from all bourgeois factions and build popular armed militias based on the workers and oppressed. See “The Arab Revolution meets NATO/Zionism”.

5) For Permanent Revolution

The struggle for an independent, secular Arab revolution has to contend with a history in which the revolutionary Marxist party has been betrayed by Stalinist popular front politics. That is, Communist Parties in MENA have historically collaborated with ‘progressive’ national bourgeois factions such as Fatah and the Baath Party purportedly against imperialism. But such collaboration has never led to national independence only to the defeat of the masses. The Arab revolution has made important advances against such historic betrayals only by taking up the armed and independent struggle against imperialism and it bourgeois lackeys. The fighting masses need to take the leadership of the anti-imperialist struggle out of the hands of the national bourgeoisie and embarking on the road to socialist revolution.

So the Palestinian Intifadas threatened to break the masses from the control of Fatah and Hamas and the threat of popular revolution forced these bourgeois lackeys to negotiate with Israel to contain the revolution. In Libya the armed militias retain a dual power against the pro-imperialist post-Gaddafi regime despite the current US attempt led by its henchman General Khalifa Hifter to disarm the militias. In Syria the secular armed revolution is holding out despite terrible odds against both the regime and the Islamic State. In Egypt, the masses are now facing a military dictatorship that strips away all illusions that the military is ‘progressive’. What is lacking is the Marxist party and program for Permanent Revolution that spells out the necessity for the armed, independent struggle for socialist republics within a wider Federation of Socialist Republics of MENA .

6) Revolutionary Party and Program

Only a revolutionary Marxist party and program is capable of addressing the Palestinian revolution as part of the Permanent Arab Revolution and as part of a global revolution. This is because as we said above the Zionist state is a military settler state funded by US and EU imperialism as its mercenary in MENA. It is the key to US and NATO control of its MENA ‘assets’ both political and economic which is today a vital defence of the US blocs oil assets against those of its rival Russia/China bloc. It is also imperialism’s weakest link in MENA because its role as imperialist gendarme forces it to militarise its settler population. This means that all Zionism’s claims to national rights and democratic legitimacy are constantly exposed as extreme hypocrisy turning the oppression of the Palestinian people the flaming beacon of the Arab Revolution. The cry “We are all Palestinians” means that while the Palestinians are not free, no-one is free!

That is why the struggle against imperialism in the MENA cannot succeed without the defeat of Israel and the smashing of the Zionist state. While it exists it will play the role it has played since 1948 as the armed mercenary of US imperialism in MENA. Just as the US imperialism can only prevent its decline as the No 1 imperialist power, so Israel’s fate is dependent on its role of protecting its master in MENA. Only the revolutionary Leninist/Trotskyist Party can cut through the pacifist liberal confusion that holds out the possibility of a negotiated peace in Palestine and in the wider MENA. Revolutionary Marxism is uncompromising in leading such a revolution because it refuses to legitimise the Zionist state!

In response to the left-liberal cry ‘victory for the Intifada’ we say victory can only be the victory of a revolutionary war of national liberation that (1) overthrows the Zionist IDF, (2) defeats all intervention by imperialism or its proxies, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iran and Turkey, and (3) exposes and defeats the treacherous leadership of the national bourgeois agents of imperialism in Palestine, Hamas and Fatah!

We agree with Trotsky. In 1998 we wrote:

“A democratic multi-ethnic Palestine could only be achieved as a result of a socialist revolution based on workers councils and militias. It would also be part of a Socialist Federation of the Middle East. In that context not only Palestinians would have the right to return but also Arab Jews would have the right to return to Syria, Morocco, Iraq and other Arab countries. Kurds, Assyrian and other nationalities would achieve self-determination and equal rights.” Against Zionism.   

  • That is why our program calls for the Egyptian working masses to build workers councils and militias to overthrow al Sisi and the military dictatorship, and to form a popular militia able to break down the walls and open the borders of Gaza to unite its people with the West Bank and Jordan! 
  •  We call on the Palestinian masses in occupied Palestine and in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon to unite with the Syrian revolution to build workers councils and militias to smash both the Assad regime and the Islamic State (ISIS) and its allies Hezbollah and Iranian fighters.  
  •  We condemn all self-proclaimed revolutionaries in the imperialist countries for failing in their duty to take action against their own imperialist ruling classes, whose defeat ultimately will enable the permanent revolution in MENA to be victorious. 
  • We oppose all pacifist, individualist boycotts and appeals to United Nations negotiations as continuing the legitimation of imperialist rule in MENA and as barriers to the armed, independence of the Arab masses. 
  •  We call on Israeli workers to take the side of Palestinian liberation, form workers councils and strike for the release of Palestinian political prisoners! 
  •  We call on Israel conscripts in the military to refuse to obey orders to shoot or otherwise oppress Palestinians! 
  • Defeat Zionism! We refuse to demand that the Zionist state frees its political prisoners, pulls down its walls and grants the right of return. We do not create illusions in Israel as we do not recognise its right to exist. The right of return will be enforced by Zionism’s defeat! 
  •  We call on workers in the imperialist countries to mobilise in their unions to enforce bans on all diplomatic, military and trade relations with Israel! 
  •  We call on the ranks of the military to mobilise against all imperialist occupation and intervention in the Arab states! 
  •  We call on the unions to make political strikes against the US funding of Israeli occupation! We call on workers to build international brigades to fight alongside the armed, independent militias in Palestine, Syria and Iraq, and for weapons and medical aid to the Palestinian struggle! 
  •  For a Socialist Palestine within a Federation of Socialist Republics of MENA!

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