Since Saturday, a deluge of fire and steel has been raining down on the people living in Israel and Gaza. On one side, Hamas. On the other, the Israeli army. In the middle, civilians being bombed, shot, executed and taken hostage. Thousands have already died.
All over the world, the bourgeoisie is calling on us to choose sides. For the Palestinian resistance to Israeli oppression. Or for the Israeli response to Palestinian terrorism. Each denounces the barbarity of the other to justify war. The Israeli state has been oppressing the Palestinian people for decades, with blockades, harassment, checkpoints and humiliation, so revenge would be legitimate. Palestinian organisations have been killing innocent people with knife attacks and bombings. Each side calls for the blood of the other to be spilled.
This deadly logic is the logic of imperialist war! It is our exploiters and their states who are always waging a merciless war in defence of their own interests. And it is we, the working class, the exploited, who always pay the price, with our lives.
For us, proletarians, there is no side to choose, we have no homeland, no nation to defend! On either side of the border, we are class brothers and sisters! Neither Israel, nor Palestine!
There is no end to war in the Middle East
The twentieth century was a century of wars, the most atrocious wars in human history, and none of them served the interests of the workers. The latter were always called upon to go and be killed in their millions for the interests of their exploiters, in the name of the defence of "the fatherland", "civilisation", "democracy", even "the socialist fatherland" (as some presented the USSR of Stalin and the gulag).
Today, there is a new war in the Middle East. On both sides, the ruling cliques are calling on the exploited to "defend the homeland", whether Jewish or Palestinian. The Jewish workers who in Israel are exploited by Jewish capitalists, the Palestinian workers who are exploited by Jewish capitalists or by Arab capitalists (and often much more ferociously than by Jewish capitalists since, in Palestinian companies, labour law is still that of the former Ottoman Empire).
Jewish workers have already paid a heavy price for the war madness of the bourgeoisie in the five wars they have suffered since 1948. As soon as they emerged from the concentration camps and ghettos of a Europe ravaged by world war, the grandparents of those who today wear the uniform of the Tsahal (Israel Defence Forces) were drawn into the war between Israel and the Arab countries. Then their parents paid the price in blood in the wars of '67, '73 and '82. These soldiers are not hideous brutes whose only thought is to kill Palestinian children. They are young conscripts, mostly workers, dying in fear and disgust, who are forced to act as police and whose heads are filled with propaganda about the "barbarity" of the Arabs.
Palestinian workers, too, have already paid a terrible price in blood. Driven from their homes in 1948 by the war waged by their leaders, they have spent most of their lives in concentration camps, conscripted as teenagers into Fatah, the PFLP or Hamas militias.
The biggest massacres of Palestinians were not carried out by the armies of Israel, but by those of the countries where they were parked, such as Jordan and Lebanon: in September 1970 ("Black September") "Little King" Hussein exterminated them en masse, to the point where some of them took refuge in Israel to escape death. In September 1982, Arab militias (admittedly Christian and allied to Israel) massacred them in the Sabra and Shatila camps in Beirut.
Nationalism and religion, poisons for the exploited
Today, in the name of the "Palestinian homeland", Arab workers are once again being mobilised against the Israelis, the majority of whom are Israeli workers, just as the latter are being asked to be killed in defence of the "promised land".
Nationalist propaganda flows disgustingly from both sides, mind-numbing propaganda designed to turn human beings into ferocious beasts. The Israeli and Arab bourgeoisies have been stirring it up for more than half a century. Israeli and Arab workers have constantly been told that they must defend the land of their ancestors. For the former, the systematic militarisation of society has developed a psychosis of encirclement in order to turn them into "good soldiers". For the latter, the desire was ingrained to do battle with Israel in order to find a home. And to do this, the leaders of the Arab countries in which they were refugees kept them for decades in concentration camps, in unbearable living conditions.
Nationalism is one of the worst ideologies invented by the bourgeoisie. It is the ideology that allows it to mask the antagonism between exploiters and exploited, to unite them all behind the same flag, for which the exploited will be killed in the service of the exploiters, in the defence of the interests and privileges of the ruling class.
To crown it all, to this war is added the poison of religious propaganda, the kind that creates the most demented fanaticism. Jews are called upon to defend the Wailing Wall of Solomon's Temple with their blood. Muslims must give their lives for the Mosque of Omar and the holy places of Islam. What is happening today in Israel and Palestine clearly confirms that religion is "the opium of the people", as the revolutionaries of the 19th century put it. The purpose of religion is to console the exploited and oppressed. Those for whom life on earth is hell are told that they will be happy after their death provided they know how to earn their salvation. And this salvation is exchanged for sacrifice, submission, even giving up their lives in the service of "holy war".
The fact that, at the beginning of the 21st century, ideologies and superstitions dating back to antiquity or the Middle Ages are still widely used to lead human beings to sacrifice their lives speaks volumes about the state of barbarism into which the Middle East, along with many other parts of the world, is sinking.
The great powers are responsible for the war
It is the leaders of the great powers who have created the hellish situation in which the exploited people of this region are dying in their thousands today. It was the European bourgeoisie, and particularly the British bourgeoisie with its "Balfour Declaration" of 1917, which, in order to divide and conquer, allowed the creation of a "Jewish home" in Palestine, thus promoting the chauvinist utopias of Zionism. It was these same bourgeoisies who, in the aftermath of the Second World War, which they had just won, arranged for hundreds of thousands of Central European Jews to be transported to Palestine after leaving the camps or wandering far from their region of origin. This meant that they did not have to take them in at home.
It was these same bourgeoisies, first the British and French, then the American bourgeoisie, who armed the State of Israel to the teeth in order to give it the role of spearhead of the Western bloc in this region during the Cold War, while the USSR, for its part, armed its Arab allies as much as possible. Without these great "sponsors", the wars of 1956, 67, 73 and 82 could not have taken place.
Today, the bourgeoisies of Lebanon, Iran and probably Russia are arming and pushing Hamas. The United States has just sent its largest aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean and has announced new arms deliveries to Israel. In fact, all the major powers are participating more or less directly in this war and these massacres!
This new war threatens to hurl the entire Middle East into chaos! This is not the umpteenth bloody confrontation to plunge this corner of the world into mourning. The sheer scale of the killings indicates that the barbarity has reached a new level: young people dancing at a festival mowed down with machine guns, women and children executed in the street at point-blank range, with no other objective than to satisfy a desire for blind revenge, a carpet of bombs to annihilate an entire population, two million people in Gaza deprived of everything, water, electricity, gas, food... There is no military logic to all these atrocities, to all these crimes! Both sides are wallowing in the most appalling and irrational murderous fury!
But there is something even more serious: this Pandora's box will never close again. As with Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, there will be no turning back, no "return to peace". Capitalism is dragging ever larger sections of humanity into war, death and the decomposition of society. The war in Ukraine has already been going on for almost two years and is bogged down in endless carnage. Massacres are also underway in Nagorno-Karabakh. And there is already a threat of a new war between the nations of the former Yugoslavia. Capitalism is war!
To put an end to war, capitalism must be overthrown.
The workers of all countries must refuse to take sides with one bourgeois camp or another. In particular, they must refuse to be fooled by the rhetoric of the parties which claim to be working class, the parties of the left and extreme left, which ask them to show "solidarity with the Palestinian masses" in their quest for their right to a "homeland". The Palestinian homeland will never be anything but a bourgeois state at the service of the exploiting class and oppressing these same masses, with cops and prisons. The solidarity of the workers of the most advanced capitalist countries does not go to the "Palestinians" just as it does not go to the "Israelis", among whom there are exploiters and exploited. It goes to the workers and unemployed of Israel and Palestine (who, moreover, have already led struggles against their exploiters despite all the brainwashing they have been subjected to), just as it goes to the workers of all the other countries of the world. The best solidarity they can offer is certainly not to encourage their nationalist illusions.
This solidarity means above all developing their fight against the capitalist system responsible for all the wars, a fight against their own bourgeoisie.
The working class will have to win peace by overthrowing capitalism on a global scale, and today this means developing its struggles on a class terrain, against the increasingly harsh economic attacks levelled at it by a system in insurmountable crisis.
Against nationalism, against the wars your exploiters want to drag you into:
Workers of all countries, unite!
ICC, 9 October 2023