by Israeli Activist Samson Agam and Ellen Isaacs
May 21, 2021
Although the massacre in Gaza has halted as of May 21, there are no victors – – only 258 killed and thousands of maimed and displaced Palestinians and 13 dead Israeli workers. Around the world and in the Occupied Territories, there is an upsurge in the endless anger at the cruel and illegal Israeli occupation. Predominantly there are calls for Palestinian liberation and self-determination.
Contrary to the romanticized “self-defense” (Israeli propaganda) or “resistance” (Hamas’s propaganda) narratives pushed by the Western media, the causes for this military operation – called “Operation Guardian of the Walls” by Israel – are cynical and political and involve the bourgeoisie’s interests, at the expense of workers. As described in another article on this blog (https://multiracialunity.org/2018/05/21/one-state-in-palestine-israel-cannot-bring-equality-if-it-is-a-capitalist-state/), Israel is a highly racist and inegalitarian state, with a wealthy few and many workers that suffer from inadequate housing, education and wages. Of course, Arab citizens and immigrant laborers fare the worst, with Mizrahi Jews of non-European descent and women also lagging behind.
The massive military might of Israel is supported by the US to the tune of $3.8 billion a year in order to maintain a veritable US base to oppose Iran and any other local opposition. Virulent racism against Palestinians enables the government to get away with its many evils against the Occupied Territories and its own citizens. So toxic are Israeli actions that even the US would prefer it was toned down, but Israel is too important for the US to say much about it or decrease aid. A $735 million weapons sale is about to go through despite the recent apocalypse.
Fatah, the ruling Palestinian faction in the West Bank (WB), is infamous for its corruption, bringing many Palestinians to support Hamas – the fundamentalist Islamic movement seen as the only “alternative.” A small group of wealthy businesses, many with ties to Israel, control the WB economy and much of its budget goes to suppress opposition to Israel. As a Hamas victory in the planned April elections was clearly expected, the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, indefinitely postponed the vote.
With their road to power by electoral means blocked, Hamas took the road of trying to take over all official “resistance” to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the siege on the Gaza Strip. Their hope was to ignite a third popular uprising (Intifada) in the WB, with themselves in command, which will ensure their takeover of the WB (they already control the Gaza Strip). Like Fatah, Hamas oppresses and robs Palestinian workers in Gaza. The impoverished people of Gaza are taxed at exorbitant rates of over 60%, and Hamas pays high salaries and sells land only to its own loyalists (1. http://vista.sahafi.jo/art.php?id=9df1481eb769d4ff24b4cb922c7d8a5e2db86a6e, 2. https://thearabweekly.com/hamas-leaders-seen-living-luxury-while-gazans-suffer). They enact a reactionary theocracy (religious state), which is, of course, very sexist; they use international aid sent to Gaza to enrich themselves and build their military machine. All while workers starve and suffer from mass unemployment and poverty among the ruins of Gaza. Building materials send into Gaza serve Hamas’ military purposes rather than rebuilding the city following Israeli bombings. Hamas bosses live in mansions while workers live in ruins.
Thus, Hamas started yet another round of warfare against Israel, hoping to maneuver themselves into power in the West Bank. Similar cynical political motivations led Israeli bosses to enter another round of combat with Hamas. This arises from factional struggles within the Israeli ruling class. The old “Labor” Party and its allies, in decline for decades, is still trying to regain its place on top. The newer ruling faction, represented by the right, and especially by the corrupt right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wishes to get rid of its competitors. Towards that end, Netanyahu, has built a fascist movement and a cult of personality, using populism and racial hatred to fuel his political machine.
But the former ruling parties will not give up without a struggle. Netanyahu’s infamous personal corruption was an opportunity for such a fight and to build a popular movement to oust Netanyahu and replace him with a center-right “Government of Change.” Netanyahu’s mediocre electoral performance in the March, 2021 elections opened up an avenue for his opponents to try and build a coalition government without him. Make no mistake – these “opponents” of Netanyahu are not on the side of the working class. To the contrary, they include far-right racist ultra-capitalists such as Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked, both of whom dream of budget cuts and further attacks on workers and are just as racist against Palestinians.
To remove any chance of this so-called “government of change” to be established, Netanyahu’s interest was to provoke warfare with renewed attacks on Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and racist violence against Arab citizens on the street and at worship. This allowed him to call for “national unity” for “defense” purposes, thus attracting his “opponent” Bennet to his side despite their previous conflict of interests as Hamas responded with rocket attacks. Reacting with overwhelming force to Hamas’ provocations was, thus, in the interest of many Israeli bosses.
With the leaders on both sides of the conflict interested in warfare, fighting broke out. Hamas bombarded southern and central Israel with artillery rockets and mortar bombs, disrupting Israel’s economy and killing several Israeli citizens. Israel responded with intensive airstrikes, killing hundreds of Gazans, making thousands homeless, and destroying vital hospitals, laboratories, and other infrastructure. While Israel managed to kill many of Hamas’ military commanders, its very top, as well as the capitalists behind it, remained alive and rich. Israel’s ruling class emerged unscathed from this military operation.
These cynical moves on both sides have meant only death and destruction for workers, mostly Palestinians, as has been going on for decades. What is needed is a worker/student led anti-racist, anti-capitalist and anti-nationalist movement on both sides. Only if Palestinian and Israeli workers, as well as workers in all surrounding nations and the world unite against capitalism, colonialism and imperialism do we have a chance to build a society where the lives of ordinary people are valued – a communist society. We must have this end in mind as we wage many smaller battles.