Gaza: Solidarity with the victims of war means class struggle against all exploiters!

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After two years of strangling the economy of Gaza - blockading fuel and medicines, preventing exports and stopping workers from leaving Gaza to find work on the Israeli side of the border - after turning the whole of Gaza into a vast prison camp, from which desperate Palestinians have already tried to escape by breaking through the border into Egypt, Israel's military machine is subjecting this densely populated, impoverished area to all the savagery of a virtually continuous aerial bombardment. Hundreds have already been killed and the already exhausted hospitals cannot cope with the endless stream of wounded. Israel's claims that it is trying to limit civilian casualties are a sinister joke when every ‘military' target is situated next to a  cluster of houses; and since mosques and the Islamic university have been openly selected as targets, the distinction between civil and military has been made entirely meaningless. The results are evident: scores of civilians, many of them children, killed and maimed, even greater numbers terrified and traumatised by the non-stop raids. At the time of writing, the Israeli PM Ehud Olmert is describing this offensive as only the first stage. Tanks are waiting at the border and a full-scale land invasion has not been ruled out. 

Israel's justification for this atrocity - supported by the Bush administration in the US - is that Hamas has not stopped firing rockets at Israeli civilians despite the so-called ceasefire.  The same argument was used to support the invasion of southern Lebanon two years ago.  And it is true that both Hizbollah and Hamas hide behind the Palestinian and Lebanese population and cynically expose them to Israeli revenge, falsely presenting the killing of a handful of Israeli civilians as an example of ‘resistance' to Israel's military occupation.  But Israel's response is absolutely typical of any occupying power: punish the entire population for the activity of a minority of armed fighters. They did this with the economic blockade, imposed after Hamas ousted Fatah from control of the Gaza administration; they did it in Lebanon and they are doing it today with the bombing of Gaza. It is the barbaric logic of all imperialist wars, in which civilians are used by both sides as shields and targets, and almost invariably end up dying in far greater numbers than the uniformed soldiers.   

And as with all imperialist wars, the suffering inflicted on the population, the wanton destruction of houses, hospitals and schools, has no result except to prepare the ground for further rounds of destruction. Israel's proclaimed aim is to smash Hamas and open the door to a more ‘moderate' Palestinian leadership in Gaza, but even former Israeli intelligence officers (at least one of the more...intelligent) can see the futility of this approach. Speaking about the economic blockade, ex-Mossad officer Yossi Alpher said "The economic siege of Gaza has not brought any of the desired political results. It has not manipulated Palestinians into hating Hams, but has probably been counter-productive. It is just useless collective punishment". This is even more true of the air raids. As Israeli historian Tom Segev put it, "Israel has always believed that causing suffering to Palestinian civilians would make them rebel against their national leaders. This assumption has proved wrong over and over" (both quotes from The Guardian 30.12.08). Hizbollah in Lebanon was strengthened by the Israeli attack in 2006; the Gaza offensive may well have the same result for Hamas. But whether strengthened or weakened it will no doubt respond with further attacks on Israeli civilians, if not through rocket attacks, then through a revival of suicide bombings.

The ‘spiral of violence' expresses the decay of capitalism

‘Concerned' world leaders like the Pope or UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon often talk about how such actions as Israel's only serve to inflame national hatred and ratchet up the ‘spiral of violence' in the Middle East. All this is true: the whole cycle of terrorism and state violence in Israel/Palestine brutalises the populations and the combatants on both sides and creates new generations of fanatics and ‘martyrs'. But what the Vatican and the UN don't tell us is that this descent into the hell of national hatred is the product of a social system which everywhere is in profound decay. The story is not very different in Iraq where Sunni and Shia are set at each other's throats, in the Balkans where Serbs are pitched against Albanians or Croats, in India/Pakistan where it's Hindu against Muslim or in Africa's myriad wars where violent ethnic divisions are too numerous to mention. The explosion of these conflicts across the globe is the expression of a society which has no future for mankind.   

And what we are also not told very much about is the involvement of the concerned, humanitarian, democratic world powers in stirring up these conflicts, unless we hear it from the other side of an imperialist divide. The press in Britain was not silent about the support France gave to the Hutu murder gangs in Rwanda in 1994. It is less forthcoming about the role British and American secret forces have played in manipulating the Shia/Sunni divide in Iraq. In the Middle East, America's backing for Israel and Iran and Syria's backing for Hizbollah and Hamas is out in the open, but the more ‘even-handed' role played by France, Germany, Russia and other powers is no less self-serving.    

The conflict in the Middle East has its own specific aspects and causes, but it can only be understood in the context of a global capitalist machine that is dangerously out of control. The proliferation of wars around the planet, the uncontrollable economic crisis, and the accelerating environmental catastrophe are all evidence of this reality. But while capitalism offers us no hope of peace and prosperity, there is a source of hope in the world: the revolt of the exploited class against the brutality of the system, a revolt expressed most graphically in Europe in the last few weeks in the movements of young proletarians in Italy, France, Germany and above all Greece. These are movements which by their very nature have put forward the need for class solidarity and the overcoming of all national and ethnic divisions. Although only in their infancy, they provide an example that can eventually be followed in those areas of the planet which are most ravaged by divisions inside the exploited class. This is no utopia: already in the past few years public sector workers in Gaza have come out on strike against the non-payment of wages almost simultaneously with public sector workers in Israel striking against the effects of austerity, itself a direct product of Israel's top-heavy war economy. These movements were hardly conscious of each other, but they still show the objective community of interests among workers of both sides of an imperialist divide. 

Solidarity with the suffering populations of capitalism's war zones does not mean choosing the ‘lesser evil' or supporting the ‘weaker' capitalist gangs like Hizbollah or Hamas against the more obviously aggressive powers like the US or Israel.  Hamas has already shown itself to be a bourgeois force oppressing the Palestinian workers - especially when it condemned the public sector strikes as being against "national interests" and when, along with Fatah, it subjected the population of Gaza to a murderous faction fight for control of the region. Solidarity with those caught up in imperialist war means rejecting both warring camps and developing the class struggle against all the world's rulers and exploiters.

WR, 1/1/09.

wr320-Gaza-leaflet.pdf54.14 KB


I think both the Palestinian

I think both the Palestinian and Israeli workers cannot prevent the mass slaughter in Gaza by Isreali imperialist for now. Working class movement in both countries is still very weak and imprison in nationalist ideology.

Maybe the working class in neighboring countries like Egypt and Iran can help their class brothers in Gaza and Israel to point the way -- class struggle against their "own" bourgeoisie if those countries will intensify their class struggles. In addition, the proletariat in western countries can also help the beleaguered class brothers by launching class struggles also.

Honestly, this would have

Honestly, this would have been a better article if the first the paragraphs had been lopped off. They read disconcertingly like something one could find in the leftist press.

I welcome the quick response

I welcome the quick response of the ICC and the solidarity expressed towards the victims of imperialism in Gaza. This Palestinian ghetto is remininscent of the Warsaw one in different circumstances; the terrorisation of the population; the strangulation and starvation of the population and the murderous bombing. As far as I understood it, the rockets into Israel had stopped during the 6 month "cease fire" but the strangulation of Gaza continued. It's also worth remembering that it was Israel that propelled the fundamentalist Hamas onto the scene in order to act as a counter-weight to Fatah. But these are details within the framework of the imperialist in play. It is an expression of both the power and weakness of US imperialism that is shown here; the power of its firepower underwritten by its military strategy and weapons technology. And weakness because the situation is militarily, politically and economically intractable carrying within it only further threats and instabilities.

The statement of solidarity is important for the whole working class as well as the victims of Gaza. Also against the phoney humanitarianism of the bourgeoisie (in the same way for other imperialist manoeuvring, particularly Africa).
The working class in Gaza is not insignficant but understandably overwhelmed at the moment. The trade unions in Israel have been very active recently with strikes and new rounds of wage cuts and short time working.
It is important in this expression of imperialism not to take sides - no side offers any benefit or protection to the working class or population as a whole. Indeed, taking sides reinforces the fact that they are all hostage to the imperialist forces at play in the region. All this makes the developing class struggle, outlined in the statement, all the more important.

Agreement with the Statement

I agree with the statement of the ICC on the current events in Gaza, and with those made by Baboon and with those of internasyonalista.

I am not in full agreement with the comment (below) of Zimerwald1915 that the first two paragraphs read like something out of the leftist press: on the contrary, they express a reality, as the article goes on to explain, of capital in decomposition. It's necessary, above all, to place these events in their worldwide and historic context, and I think this short statement, while not developing every 'angle', does this. Would it have been better, in order to distinguish ourselves from the 'leftists', to have started by denouncing Hamas, like US President Bush? I don't think so.

One question that is raised: why these events now, at this moment? Some (bourgeois) commentators have linked the onslaught of the Isreali state to the upcoming elections there, and probably this is a factor.

However I think the timing has more to do with the change-over of the bourgeois guard in the US: Israel, for its part, perhaps wants to 'cleanse the stable' of its enemies before Obama takes control, in order to withdraw (once the damage has been done). Hamas, through its continued rocket attacks, hoped to provoke just such an Isreali reaction, the better to claim 'victim status' in the eyes of the world, and to garner at least some support from the new US administration.

Whether these considerations are correct or not, the situation in the Middle East remains a powerful reminder that capital has no solution other than war and misery to the problems confronting humanity, and I believe this statement encapsulates this reality.

Very interesting!

The article is excellent. I agree with the ICC statement and find the discussion that it provokes very interesting and encouraging. The comments on the article enrich it. It is true that in the first paragraph "Palestinians" could have been "Palestinian workking class" or something like that (I guess also farmers suffer from the violence), to distinguish the article very clearly from the leftist nationalistic propaganda. But the entire article is sufficiently clear about the ICC's internationalist approach, I believe.
Friendly greetings,
Y. (a sympathizer from Belgium)

Solidarity with BOTH Palestinian AND Israeli workers

I don't agree with all of the ICC's positions but thank goodness someone is putting forward a proletarian internationalist perspective on the tragic events in the Middle East.

Ed said: I don't agree with

Ed said: I don't agree with all of the ICC's positions but thank goodness someone is putting forward a proletarian internationalist perspective on the tragic events in the Middle East.
This is a really important in my view, a recognition that for all the disagreements that exist in the "proletarian camp" there is still a basis for unity on the most important matters.
If we can't build this unity we may as well give up and go home. Ultimately, building unity across the internationalist camp and through the working class as a whole is the only answer to the imperialist slaughter spreading across the planet.

100% ok with that

I agree 100% with the need to build unity across the internationalist movement on the basis of a) a common recognition of what unites us, and b) the development of a permanent and fraternal debate on questions of disagreement (which are any way both INEVITABLE and HEALTHY).
That's why the ICC insists all the time on the importance of comrades not just discussion online (though we don't underestimate that for a moment) but also of face to face discussion in public meetings wherever possible - our own, and others.


To express our solidarity with the Israeli and Palestinian proletariat we must no support their own governments' war on each other.

Suppoorting in any side of the warring bourgeois factions means supporting imperialist war.

If Israel is supported by US imperialism, so as the Hamas which is supported by Iran and Syrian imperilaisms. The marxist anti-imperilaist stand means struggle against all imperialist countries, big or small!

We condemn the warmongering of the Leftists, under the guise of "anti-imperilaism" for directly or indirectly supporting Hamas!

For the unity of Israeli and Palestinian proletariats against their "own" ruling class!!!

US support for Iran?

The article is fine, but surely there is something amiss here?
"America's backing for Israel and Iran"

It's wrong

ISraelian and palestinian working class??? It is very dangerous to say something like that! Palestinian people has lost its right to have industries!
To support military to Hamas is not to support Iran.
But I understand now, you write and write such viepoint to make nothing for palestinian people!!!!

To Zengaruken

Personally, I think it more dangerous, and more troubling, that you deny the existence of a working-class population in Palestine. To be a member of the working class, all one has to have is a specific relationship to the means and process of production in the capitalist system. That is, one cannot be the chattel or property of somebody else, and one can’t own any commodities that one plans to or is able to sell. By all accounts, most of the population of Palestine meets that definition: they aren’t slaves or serfs (Israel, whatever else it may be, is a well-developed capitalist country in which such institutions have no place) and are as such “free”, and they certainly have no property to sell other than their capacity to work. The fact that, by law, most of them cannot enter the marketplace to sell this capacity to work does not change the fact that they are part of the international working class. All it means is that the Israeli state is artificially contracting its labor market.

But perhaps you mean “The Palestinian people has lost its right to have industries” in another sense. After all, “have” denotes ownership and control of the industries, something which workers cannot attain within capitalism (except in cases of “self-management”, which can be ignored in this case as nobody’s proposing or enacting it, and which, in any case, brings with it a whole host of other problems). What you’re really upset about is not that the Palestinian working class can’t survive because its members are prohibited from selling their labor. You’re not even upset about the Palestinian working class’ isolation—by Israel, by the nationalist parties, etc.—from the rest of the international working class. What you’re upset about is that the barriers to entry into the capitalist class are, for Palestinians higher than normal. You’re not upset that Palestine doesn’t have a working class; it demonstrably does. You’re upset that it doesn’t have a “native” bourgeoisie.

Now, the bourgeoisie, like the proletariat, is international. That is, it doesn’t matter of what “nation” a capitalist is part; he or she will still behave the same basic, exploitive, way towards any portion of the proletariat, whether that portion is of the same nation or not (this is not to say that there isn’t discrimination in hiring or in wages; it is to say that exploitation doesn’t cease when the capitalist and the worker have the same skin tone and speak the same language). Your first major point that you advocate, the erection of a Palestinian bourgeoisie, has nothing to do with advancing the communist revolution and nothing even to do with the immediate interests of the working class, Palestinian or otherwise.

Let’s move to your next point: that Hamas and Iran are two different entities with two different goals. In a sense, this is correct. If Palestine were an independent state, and if Hamas were running the government of that state, Palestine would not hesitate to pursue its own imperial (that is, market-expanding) interests, even at the expense of Iran if it could get away with doing so. However, at this moment, the creation of a Palestinian national state carved out of Israeli territory is very much in Iran’s vested interests. To support Hamas’ goal of a Palestinian national state is therefore to support Iran’s goal of a Palestinian national state. For the moment, the goals of Hamas and Iran coincide, and while they may and probably will diverge in the future—for this world of decomposing capitalism is a world of each against all—the fact remains that, for the moment, to support one is to support the other.

Behind this issue is the larger point of whether communists should support any capitalist state at all. You try to sidestep the issue by claiming that Hamas and Iran are separated by some sort of mystical boundary that prevents their goals from coinciding. However, should we even be supporting Hamas? What benefit, precisely, would the erection of a Palestinian state have for the working class, Palestinian or otherwise. As mentioned before, any Palestinian bourgeoisie would have the same exploitive relationship to the Palestinian working class that the Israeli working class has now. Nor would the living conditions of Palestinians get much better, if at all. The country is resource-poor, after all, and it’s not as though Israel is extracting all that much out of it. Not even very many quanta of labor-power cross the border! Nor would the erection of an independent Palestine protect the Palestinian people from the depredations of the Israeli army; a simple border dispute would be enough to set the bombs falling and the tanks rolling. In short, Hamas’ big goal, the erection of a Palestinian state, would bring no benefit whatsoever to the Palestinian or international working class. Thus, it doesn’t deserve our support, on those grounds alone, never mind that its tactics are anti-working class in and of themselves (working class action is open, mass action; Hamas’ tactics are the actions of a secret few, and they use the working class as meat shields).

It is not the ICC whose programme and analysis lead to “no benefit to the Palestinian people”. It is yours. In point of fact, the ICC’s programme—international proletarian revolution—is the only way out for the Palestinian people and the people of the world.

To Berrot

That sentence is saying that the US supports Israel while Iran and Syria back Hizbollah and Hamas. It should read "America's backing for Israel, and Iran and Syria's backing for Hizbollah and Hamas is out in the open..."