The Israeli “ Defense Force” is massing on the border of Gaza – a tiny enclave in which one and a-half million Palestinians live. Airstrikes and missiles have killed 20 Palestinians so far – including a Hamas military leader. Three Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets. But this is not some kind of zero-sum game, just the latest round in a never-ending tit-for-tat battle.
This is not a repetition of the past.
This may be an attempt by the Zionist state to end the Arab Spring by drawing Iran into full-scale war.
The “common sense” promoted by the media is that people have always been killing each other in the Middle East – the blood-soaked histories of tribal war in the Old Testament apparently provide ancient evidence. The reality is different. Israel is the world’s last colonial settler state that openly proclaims its right to steal the land of the local people and exclude them from democratic rights. Israel is little more than half a century old. In Gaza and the West Bank, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and many other countries live the refugees and the children of refugees of half a century of ethnic cleansing by Zionist militia. No state established on this basis is stable.
Israel is a fortress state. Without US military support it would disappear overnight. It follows the orders of the US with zealous devotion. It is an attack dog, an executioner, a mercenary. The Israeli polity is saturated in paranoia and racism – Ashkenazi (Europeans) against Sephardim (Arab Jews), sabra (Israeli-born) against immigrant. The Israeli economy is distorted by security – an armour-plated dwarf. Israeli society is contaminated by conscription. Israel is a barracks society where every 18-year-old, woman or man, is expected to fight in a brutal colonial war, a lethal police action against barely armed civilians, against stone-throwing children. Torture is a routine aspect of the IDF’s work and is an open secret in Israeli society – unspoken but known by everyone.
Such a fortress state cannot endure. The forces that established it – insistence on identity not democracy – are tearing it apart. Every war that Israel fights brutalises its culture and narrows its options more and more until in the end there is only war. Dialogue is not possible when one side is holding a gun. Israel will fall, the only question is what will follow? A democratic Palestine, with equal rights for Arabs and Jews, or a toxic wasteland?
Why Israel hates the Arab Spring
The Arab Spring is a warm breeze that has blown through the refrigerator room of the Cold-War era dictators. Mubarak, Gaddafi, Ben Ali, who once seemed unassailable, have fallen. Assad fights for his existence. The Bahraini people wage a courageous and continuing fight against their US-backed dictator. Israel alone is unaffected by the spring because it operates according to an entirely different logic. The Arab dictators and the Arab state system has only worked to the advantage of Israel.
This provocation in Gaza is an attempt by Israel to refocus the anger of the Arab street on Israel, and away from their own Arab ruling classes, who for all the verbal missiles they hurl at Israel understand their symbiosis. Assad, in Syria, has hosted and provided safe haven for the PLO for years. Israel has blasted Assad as a terrorist supporter and a threat to the existence of the state. The reality is different. The PLO’s terrorist strategy never threatened the existence of Israel but it gave a radical veneer to Assad’s regime, allowing him to crush internal dissent.
If Israel can draw Hezbollah in Lebanon into a confrontation in the north then it will shore up the credibility of Assad, who is Hezbollah’s ally, and make it impossible for the Free Syrian Army to continue their revolutionary war against the Assad regime. It will also draw Syria’s ally Iran into confrontation with Israel. If Israel can get Iran involved then the USA will have to step in. War is the obvious antidote to revolution.
Nation states need to hate. Small-scale foreign wars, like the friction over the Golan Heights, enforce internal order and reinforce the idea of borders.
The road to Palestine goes through Cairo
There is an alternative. The Egyptian people, strengthened by a fighting trade union movement, have overthrown Mubarak. If they can now open the border with Gaza it will be impossible for the Israelis to mount a ground invasion. The criminal complicity of the Egyptian regime in previous wars is plain to see. While IDF forces rampaged through the apartment blocks, schools and hospitals of Gaza, the Egyptian army held the Gaza border in lockdown. They prevented Palestinians from fleeing and Egyptians from fighting. The Egyptian state has held Gaza’s arms behind its back while Israel punches the living daylights out of it. The Egyptian people can change the game in an instant.
The liberation of Palestine is the work of the world. The Egyptian working class is on the front line. Every city in the world should support them. The stakes are high, but victory is in sight as never before.