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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Trump and Netanyahu thought the Palestinian question had been put to bed. The Palestinians had been subjugated. The Palestinian question had become a non question. Then from nowhere the conflict exploded again. The eleven day war left 240 dead, most of whom were women and children. Unlike previous conflicts the current violence has drawn in other areas; Jerusalem, West Bank and towns in Israel itself.

There has been ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem, attacks on Arabs by far-right Jewish settlers in Jerusalem and in Israeli towns and brutal policing which has seen demonstrators shot dead. Beside the aerial bombardment of Gaza there was the deliberate targeting of journalists in the Associated Press and Al Jazeera building.

The people of Gaza have been confined to the blockaded enclave of the Strip and subjected to a land, air and sea embargo. For 15 years, the entry of goods has been reduced to a minimum, while external trade and exports have been stopped. Meanwhile, the population has very limited access to safe water and lack regular electricity supply or even a proper sewage system. Now its inhabitants are surrounded by rubble from weaponry fired by Israeli jets but bought from Britain and the US.

Poverty is endemic in the Gaza Strip. Previous Israeli attacks have led to 77% of homes in Gaza being destroyed and damaged in 2008-9 and 2014 - leaving thousands of families homeless or displaced. Two-thirds of young workers are unemployed.

Socialists note the craven way the British media have reported on the Israeli-Palestinian violence. The BBC uncritically interviews Israeli Ministers and Diplomats but no one from Hamas. The capitalist media largely supported the actions of Israel while the SUNDAY TIMES smeared the London demonstrations as "anti-Semitic" (23 May 2021). The Israeli government was treated as the good guys and the Palestinians as the baddies.

Not all. If most of the media were cowards in their reporting of the violence at least there was some honest reporting from the journalist Patrick Cockburn. He wrote:

"Israeli police efforts to evict Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem and their use of stun-grenades and tear gas in al-Aqsa mosque led to Hamas firing rocket barrages from Gaza. This in turn provoked protests by Palestinians in Israel on a larger scale than anything since the second intifada 20 years ago" (Palestinian crisis is back - and it's more poisonous than before The I PAPER 22 May 2021)

The ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem and the apartheid inequality before Israeli law of Palestinian residents is rarely reported. Any outbreak of violence is always the fault of the Palestinians stirred up by Hamas. Whereas The Holocaust is commemorated and museums built to acknowledge the event nothing is said of the Naqba.

What is the Naqba? Al Naqba (Arabic: disaster, catastrophe), is a collective term for the events of 1947-48 in Palestine. 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee and seek refuge in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel was created on ethnic cleansing.

The Naqba refers to the Zionists moving into Palestine with the connivance of the British forces who conveniently left their guns behind for them as they left, after the Zionist terrorists had blown up the King David Hotel and also killed many British police and army, the Naqba meant the seizure of Palestinian homes, farms and businesses, and the forced expulsion of Palestinians - many over the borders as refugees to Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Syria. Israel has refused to allow any of these refugees to return - their 'right of return' has long been a key PLO demand, one always denied by Israel. The Naqba meant Palestinians were forcibly dispossessed en masse by Israeli terrorism.

Between 1947 and 1949, over 400 Palestinian villages were deliberately destroyed, civilians were massacred and around a million men, women, and children were expelled from their homes at gunpoint ('The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine' Ilan Pappe 2007).

Moshe Dayan in an interview (TIME, 30 July 1973) declared that after 1948 there was no Palestine:

"There are Palestinians, and there was a country named Palestine. That Palestine was divided between Israel and Jordan, so there are Palestinian people but there is not any Palestinian state. The country called Palestine vanished in 1948" (cited in FOTRESS ISRAEL: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE MILITARY ELITE WHO RUN THE COUNTRY - AND WHY THEY CAN'T MAKE PEACE by Patrick Tylor, 2012 - p522).

Since then, Netanyahu has taken this further in decreeing that Israel is a Jewish state. And any international criticisms of Israeli government policies and actions are automatically declared to be 'anti-Semitic' - a view that is endorsed by the EU and America. While Hamas, one of two Palestinian political organisations, has been declared a terrorist organisation, no-one ever dares to point out that the state of Israel was itself founded by terrorists and that a later Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, was himself an active terrorist and leader of Irgun which carried out the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946 and the Deir Yassin massacre in 1947. Pots and kettles?

The Naqba is a historical fact Israel wants repressed like Turkey's refusal to accept responsibility for the genocide of the Armenians.

Unlike the capitalist Left who support the Palestinians and the establishment of a Palestinian state, socialists want world socialism without nation states, borders, countries, national flags and anthems. Nationalism, like religion, is divisive and so not in the interest of the world's working class which includes workers in Israel and Gaza. Socialists do not take sides in capitalism's never-ending conflicts. We want to see the world's working class democratically and politically establish a society based on the common ownership and democratic control of all land, and all means of production and distribution.

However, socialists disdain the suppression of history like the Naqba, however unpalatable, and the hypocrisy that goes with it. Obviously Hamas is a terrorist outfit and socialists do not support the use of rockets indiscriminately fired into Israel anymore than we support Israel's war machine, with its drones and guided missiles. Workers have no interest in supporting capitalism's wars.

Hamas has a political and military grip in Gaza. They strut around as protectors of Palestinians living there. However, they do not represent the interest of Palestinian workers. The last thing on Hamas's mind is socialism. Yet it is only the establishment of socialism that will resolve the conflict. A Palestinian State will be a capitalist state in which a working class will be exploited by a capitalist class.

However we do not support Israeli state terrorism and the killing of civilians on an "eye for an eye" biblical justification. The use of terror and terrorism does not bring socialism any nearer. Socialists do not support the nationalism of the Israeli government any more than we support the Palestinian nationalism of Hamas and its supporters. We say 'a plague on both your houses'.

The Israeli government believes is had won the propaganda war by cowering criticism in the West with the slur of "anti-Semitism". Criticism of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians was deemed to be racist. Criticism of Israel on social media could lead to witch hunts in the media. Up to now it has worked, but the lynching of an Arab, demonstrations by extreme Zionists against Arabs and the violence meted on the Gaza Strip by Israeli jets have bought the Israeli Palestinian problem to the fore.

In Britain and France, anti-Semitism has grown. Anti-Semitic incidents rose 500% and anti-Muslim incidents up 430% since 8 May according to the INDEPENDENT (19 May 2021). And it is clear Israel cannot continue to be the insurance policy its Jewish supporters want it to be. Dead children, destroyed hospitals and health clinics, and UN schools, like the illegal settlements in the West Bank, etc, are a propaganda coup for Hamas and Fatah not for the Israeli government. Still, there is hardly mainstream media criticism of Israel because most journalists and media outlets are too scared of being described as anti-Semitic.

This open political sore will no doubt continue until workers begin to think in class not nationalist terms about themselves and their fellow workers. The Palestinian conflict is what happens when the working class support nation states and are drenched in nationalist sentiment. It is only when the working class in Israel and Palestinian understand clearly that they have common class interests that a real, positive movement away from nationalist politics will be made, but not until then.

So long as mistaken identity politics, including religion and nationalism, and other tribal divisions, continue to dominate, worldwide capitalism will continue to be safe from any meaningful challenge, and working-class poverty will persist. But we do have a choice - to reject such murderous divisiveness, to unite internationally as a class, to establish a new peaceful world order, and so put an end to all wars and all class exploitation. That is the challenge we face as socialists.

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