Israel & Palestine

David Irving’s holocaust denial highlights one side of bourgeois reactionary propaganda; the recent anti-Islamic cartoons highlight another. It is all used to divide the workers and poor of the world. This is particularly clear in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Last week, the growing turbulence in the Middle East came to a head as protests erupted over the publication of cartoons picturing a caricature of the prophet Mohammed. The fact alone that all this happened more than five months after their actual publication in a Danish newspaper clearly shows that the publication was only the spark that lit the fuse. You cannot explain the present conflagration without looking at the underlying frustrations of the millions of Muslims all around the world.

The Israeli Marxists had predicted the victory of Hamas some time ago. They understood how discredited Fatah had become among the Palestinian people and the only credible alternative they could turn to was Hamas. They also explain that Hamas will be sucked into the so-called “peace process” and will end up being exposed. All this will eventually help the Palestinian workers and youth to draw revolutionary Marxist conclusions.

Hamas’ ascent to power has been a concluding result of an ongoing process that should be analysed against the background of the events spanning decades, not only in Israel/Palestine but also the whole region and the world. Here Nadim al-Mahjoub, an Arab Marxist, gives his interpretation of the situation.

The shift to the left in Israel and in the Labour Party has not dropped from the sky. This shift is rooted in these struggles of the past period. Looking at the struggles of the last 10 years, we can see that the working class was willing to struggle against privatization and the austerity measures of the Israeli ruling class. This has now found its reflection in the Labour Party.

Sharon is seriously ill and may never return to active politics. This has thrown the whole of the Israeli establishment into turmoil, as now a question mark is being placed above the party he founded a few weeks ago, Kadima. Society is so polarized that one man can balance at the top. Without him the balancing game may not hold for long.

A comment on the background of Ariel Sharon, an army man involved in terrible crimes against the Palestinian people who went on to become Prime Minister of Israel. From this position, which he still holds, he continued to oppress the Palestinians, while also attacking the workers of Israel.

The election of the new leader of the Israeli Labour Party, Amir Peretz, has been described as a political earthquake, which indeed it is. Peretz has a reputation of being a left, militant trade union leader. Now he is coming under immense pressure from both the left and the right, which reflects the growing class conflict within Israeli society.

On December 5 a suicide bomber blew himself up in Natanya, Israel, killing several civilains. As we warned a few days ago, one of the instruments Sharon can use in whipping up anti-Arab sentiments among the Jews in Israel is precisely this kind of attack on civilians. It comes conveniently for Sharon at a time when the working class is moving to the left!

The change of leadership at the top of the Israeli Labour Party is still sending shockwaves throughout the whole of Israeli society. Now the new leader will come under immense pressure. Sharon with his new party is also manoeuvring. He can play the game of provoking further conflicts with the Palestinians to re-enforce the siege mentality among the Jews and he can try and trap Labour in a new coalition. These are the two dangers facing Israeli workers.

Last week the leader of the Histadrut, Amir Peretz ousted Shimon Peres from the leadership of the Israeli Labour Party. It was like a small earthquake in the political system of Israel, as Peretz has been promising to undo many of the cuts in the welfare state and has threatened to pull the Labour Party out of the coalition with the Likud.

Divisions have clearly emerged between different wings of the Israeli ruling class. These are reflected within the Likud, the main party of the Israeli bourgeoisie. These divisions are important signals of something that is stirring deeper within Israeli society. The ruling class is divided because it can see two dangers on the horizon, the class struggle in Israel and intensified opposition from the Palestinian community.

Israel is a small country. Yet hardly a day passes without it being in the news for some reason or another. Every night there is a new "Affair" on the news. The word "Affair" is a direct translation from the Hebrew, but in English "Scandal" would be more appropriate.

There is clearly a conflict between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Sharon has an interest in fomenting this further as a divided Palestinian community would be much easier to control. In the past Israel backed the formation of Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO. Now the opposite is the case and Israel is leaning on the PLO to curb the influence of Hamas.

Over the weekend Israeli aircraft have been involved in bombing the Gaza Strip. Israel has withdrawn its troops on the ground but it can bomb the area any time it wants. It shows how false were the ideas of those who claimed withdrawal from Gaza was a step towards a solution to the conflict.